TEDTalks has devolved into a reality show of eager self-publicizing, self aggrandizing idea generation. ROKU has a TED channel and I used to cruise through it as I had seen and quoted some great TEDTalks. After awhile it just got tedious as there was no good way for me to preview them and my time was better spent elsewhere like The Edge where the organization of the question, ideas, speakers, and position statements allowed better access.
Now TED has been bashed for censorship. Today is Friday, I am often burned out on writing after the week and the day is too intense for me to fit in a writing binge. Today is no different. Vaccinations for a child in the morning, an electrical inspection midmorning, and a long list of weekly chores I can’t possibly finish by night.
Yet, I find myself awake way too early deeply annoyed at Deepak Chopra’s post in HP whining that science isn’t being served, TED censorship is real, and that militant atheists are unwarrantedly attacking god and miracles called external consciousness and physical anomalies. Cruising through a search of TED censorship, I see many entries castigating TED as if they have never posted or removed idiot talks before. Oh wait, there was that one guy last year who had really bad data supporting the correct idea that the rich don’t create jobs. Good idea, bad data–too bad.
Hmm, TED does not represent itself as the science community. It is entertainment meant to showcase ideas they wish to publish. Like the New Yorker, Discover, or any other rag, electronic or not, editors can choose what they publish. It is in no way meant to be an airing of all ideas regardless. By definition it can’t be censorship. If it were then by that standard we can say Depaak censors as well because he doesn’t promote science without god in his books. I suppose we could bandy about self censoring as a concept but no one is using that term. Critics act like there is a third party organization limiting TED’s discussion in science.
The real issue is as usual money and status. TED has gotten famous and cool enough, or had, that being on was a great perk to one’s reputation. It was a jazzy selfpromoting showcase that was free, other than membership should you choose to join. But:
Graham Hancock had publicly expressed his frustration in being censored by the people who run the TED conferences. Another well known researcher, Rupert Sheldrake was censored in the same manner. Days later we discovered that entrepreneur Eddie Huang had similar experiences with TED, and even compared their organization to a cult.
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“New age fluff” is indicative of their publishing measure.
I don’t think anyone would contest that god as external consciousness belongs to the New Age movement which has long been defined within pseudoscience. That there are many other stupid talks in TED doesn’t mean they should allow any or all of them. Do we need to debunk Uri Gellar and telekinesis yet again?
Damn, I remember years ago being pestered to read the Carlos Castenada books, the Bermuda Triangle books, and the Van Daniken “aliens came to earth” books. How much time did I lose having to analyze these works so I had the intellectual fodder needed to combat pop science forced on me by a fanatical group of people who wished for there to be aliens creating Mayan civilization–how cool would that be? What a great explanation for the seeming appearance of gods. Who doesn’t get that hallucinations expand consciousness? Who hasn’t wondered if Earth was seeded with life?
That one of the TEDTalks encourages the study of psychotropics, something with which I totally agree, seems great as the law idiotically blocks that research (not science by the way but conservative politics). To connect that to the belief that they expand consciousness where consciousness is god and to use that to show that miracles occur is nothing but adding god to science. It’s like those big bills in congress with all the little add ons that have nothing to do with the bill but pander to lobbying.
If our incredulous reaction is militant atheism then Deepak and his ilk are militant pseudoscientists in publicly promoting their ideas in a forum that has by definition excluded them because they are not promoting science but hanging on to theology by merging bronze age mythology with modern physics and biology–nay, even totemism, and prototheology with quantum physics. Entanglement is god! This pantheism is no kind of recognizable or realizable god whatsoever. Certainly not the anthropomorphic entities and attributes then assigned to it. Fine, make a misnomer of natural laws as god but don’t assign them human or animal qualities. Indeed if there isn’t evidence that can be evaluated then it’s utterly solipsistic mysticism; if there is evidence then it is by their own definition within science and can be studied. What is mystical cannot be discussed because it is a dimension so out of reach we don’t even know it exists as it shows no sign of its existence.
This is egostical and arrogant fetishism. Haven’t we spent long enough trying to make the world better by discerning subnaturalism from naturalism? If myths worked I’d be the first to join. Oh, wait, like Susan Blackmore I did explore them and found them incredibly wanting on all levels but mental masturbation and false comfort that took me away from real solutions.
Scientists studied maggots when they looked to how they help in wound infection. Scientists studied bloodletting and leeches as medicine. Both, again, long after they were originally discredited. There are plenty of far out things that are looked at. Indeed, a recent criticism of science by a pubcon was they were spending millions looking at worms. Turns out they are Guinea worms a bane to humans which if eradicated would relieve tremendous suffering.
That so many criticize TED reveals the depth of the New Nones, the spiritual ones, those that can’t leave their mythology and yet can’t go to antiquated institutes called churches. Pagans often do the same. It’s not that Carlos Castaneda was wrong it’s that he was right conceptually, hallucinations can provide insight, but his story was fabricated but it could have been real, true. No, these guys are charlatans like Tony Robbins who at a moment of deep depression and pennilessness decided he needed to make a mark on the world and get some cash. The best way to do it was to sell something that was tasty but unprovable. Fire walking is a miracle of intent. Mind over matter. Brilliant marketing! Bullshit made monetary.
When I was 9 I got a crystal radio. I took it out to the farm where we were celebrating a holiday and removed myself to put it together. I was amazed that so few parts could transmit radio. A crystal, a coil, a few bits of metal and yet so much information. Like many think, it seemed like magic. Just as our bodies are mostly water, and solids are mostly space. So much magic! The brain is not a crystal and consciousness is not a frequency. That so many stories took on vibrating crystals as signifying consciousness shows how deep our phantasms can be and how much we use symbol not only as representation but as reality itself. Hell, Hegel’s entire philosophy is devoid of a material world–it’s all idea. Schopenhauer said the world was nor more than will and idea. Yeah, until you trip on the banana peel. Air theology versus earth theology. It’s great to be dreamy and go up to the mountain but who stays and home and helps mom raise the kids or helps the poor and disenfranchised succeed?
This disconnect between mind and body ensure the continuation of heuristic biases made material. They aren’t biases because they are perceived as real. Deconstructionism showed that if you act on an idea as if it were real then in a functional way living in the world it is real. However, at some point if you want to catch fish or grow corn you had better come to Earth. It’s a beautiful place.
Jim Newman, bright and well