In the last couple of weeks I’ve been following the TED saga on the Sheldrake and Hancock TEDx controversy. For the most part I’ve been harsh on TED’s knee-jerk decision to pull out Sheldrake and Hancock’s talks and their lame and unsubstantiated justification for doing so. But in fairness to TED, I think they have every right to filter the talks that get published on their official distribution channel. TED has a tough job of protecting its brand from being diluted by nonsensical ideas masquerading as science. And even Rupert Sheldrake sympathizes with TED. As Sheldrake has eloquently said in his response to the controversy:
There’s a lot of rubbish and there has to be some kind of filter. So I’m not against the idea of a filter but what I am against is the idea of applying the filter in a very partial kind of way.
So it’s not the filtering per se that got me disappointed with TED but the manner in which they have done the filtering and the sloppy justification after the fact.
But just when I thought that the Sheldrake-Hancock TED controversy was about to die down, TED made another douchey move when it revoked TEDxWestHollywood’s license because their program was unscientific. According to TED’s email to TEDxWestHollywood event organizer, Suzanne Taylor:
We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance.
Then TED named names with the word “pseudoscience” in the same paragraph.
We will be especially interested to hear about the ideas that Marianne Williamson, Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, Paul Nugent, and Marilyn Schlitz will be presenting.We feel that the pseudoscience struggle is an important one. TED and TEDx cannot be platforms that give undo legitimacy to false evidence and selective logic — regardless of brilliant packaging.
I’m familiar with most of the names mentioned above but I don’t know enough details about their work to agree or disagree with TED’s assessment. However, I strongly object to lumping Russell Targ into the category of “pseudoscience.” The fact that TED has pointed a finger to Russell Targ leads me to speculate that the TED staff are ignorant (or maybe just dismissive) of the Remote viewing literature. I don’t claim expertise on the subject of remote viewing but I’ve been familiar with the literature for more than two decades now.
I understand the remote viewing protocol — it’s double-blind. The late Ingo Swann was instrumental in designing the protocol. Then it was taught to a few intelligence personnels in the military (one of them is remote viewer #001 Joe McMoneagle). I’ve always focused my attention to the original people who started it all because they did solid research on the phenomenon and they’re the ones who designed the original protocol. Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff had a deal with the CIA and the Defense Department that in return for funding they helped the military with intelligence work (e.g. locating people and cites of interests). Another condition was that Targ and Puthoff were given free rein by the military to publish their work in scientific journals. The classified project — Stargate Project — lasted for more than two decades. I don’t know about you but I don’t think Targ/Puthoff/Swann could’ve hoax the Defense Department, CIA, FBI, and even NASA for a long time, especially when millions of money were involved. The Defense Department might be wasteful in their spending but I don’t think the people running it were that stupid to be fooled for two decades without them getting valuable results.