26/03/2013 § 13 Comments
I am amused at the overreaction of the TED organisers to the two excellent speeches by Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake at TEDx Whitechapel in January (an event I attended and spoke at). I thought both speakers were excellent – passionate but articulate and credible.
Because effectively these two speakers are squarely challenging conventional scientific thinking, when the talks went on-line some people objected to the talks being associated with TED. So what did the TED organisers do? Asked some anonymous scientific experts to look at the talks. See here http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/19/the-debate-about-graham-hancocks-talk
What a brilliant idea – ask some scientists what they think about two speeches that are, in effect, accusing most scientists of being partially sighted. The scientists could only respond in one way – “this is not science” they claimed. So TED got in a tizzy and insisted the talks be put in a quiet corner of their site, with lots of health warnings from scientists, proper ones of course!
What did the TED people expect the scientists to say? It is a bit like expecting a group of doctors to opine objectively on the validity of homeopathy, or Chinese medicine. It is so different from the way they were taught and how they practice that most doctors, literally, cannot see it. And many of them react defensively, as if they are being attacked.
To take another metaphor, what would have happened if, before the banking crisis of 2008, you had assembled a group of bankers to decide upon the validity of Ann Pettiphor’s views (she was saying that the banks were taking us towards a financial collapse). Would they really have been objective? Or would they have found every way they could, fair or foul, to shut her up?
We are facing a scientific crisis/opportunity. And the good news is that, as this blogger pointed out, whereas a few years ago the scientists would have won hands down, now there are enough articulate supporters of the new science that the old guard can no longer be assured of having their own way. Don’t we live in interesting times!