Saturday, May 04, 2013

Science vs Science(TED)

Apparently science is not science unless it is approved by TED's board:
After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community, we have decided that Graham Hancock’s and Rupert Sheldrake’s talks from TEDxWhitechapel should be removed from distribution on the TEDx YouTube channel.

We’re not censoring the talks. Instead we’re placing them here, where they can be framed to highlight both their provocative ideas and the factual problems with their arguments. See both talks after the jump.

All talks on the TEDxTalks channel represent the opinion of the speaker, not of TED or TEDx, but we feel a responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which appear to have crossed the line into pseudoscience.
It is very difficult to try to consider the idea that most of the TED Talks are not pseudoscience with a straight face.  The entire purpose of the TED Talks is to make that which is not science look and feel like science for the benefit of the self-consciously mid-witted.  There is a reason the Ted Talks are eight-minute videos; it is a product targeted at people with short attention spans who are more inclined to watch television than read.

In the image on the left, Manolo the Shoe Blogger illustrates for whom these short, lightweight Talks are intended. TED Talks are really nothing more than video Cliff's Notes. That is why the sort of people who specialize in dumbing things down for the wealthy, half-educated have to be very careful about what ideas they permit to be presented to their target audience.  They know perfectly well that their audience are the exact opposite of critical thinkers and therefore have a tendency to swallow everything presented to them as the pure truth of the sciencistic gospel.

The banned talk is below.  The fascinating thing is one of the reasons for the ban which is that Sheldrake “suggests that scientists reject the notion that animals have consciousness, despite the fact that it’s generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness.” So, are we to understand that the scientific materialists now not only accept that consciousness exists, but regard it as the orthodox and enforceable scientific consensus?



Anonymous Outlaw X May 04, 2013 6:15 AM  

Amazing, the delegated authority from the creator to my guardian angel save me more times than I can remember. But I remember succinctly exactly three times. There is no physical explanation for any of these three things unless you want to call them intuition and if you do you have defeated the cause of the physical alone theory.

You can't tell me I wasn't warned and it exactly happened as I avoided it, the only thing you can tell me is you were never warned. That is your problem, not mine.

Anonymous the abe May 04, 2013 6:17 AM  

Ted talks and Von Dutch hats. Blink and you'll miss it ever happening.

Anonymous Bastiat May 04, 2013 6:26 AM  

But, he quoted C.S. Lewis so everything that follows is ignorable.

Anonymous the abe May 04, 2013 6:26 AM  

On a slightly substantitive note, it's iornic and omnious the parallels between the prevailing financial models and scientific models. Any sustained challenge to their respective consensus would reap a swift downfall.

Anonymous Logan May 04, 2013 6:31 AM  

Am I the only one who thought "No True Scotsman" when I read this?

I own the book by Sheldrake. I've read the first few chapters and am enjoying it. I'm also not surprised his talk here was banned. This is what not following the scientistic groupthink will get you.

Anonymous Outlaw X May 04, 2013 6:38 AM  

I think the best thinkers in physics are guided outside the mind neuropathy of the blind secularists. I have said for some time that I don't believe the BS of "G" as a constant. Nor do I believe SR is the only answer, because it contradicts itself. We don't understand the mind of the conscious man, yet somehow believe we know the Conscious creator or his creation.

So we build great laboratories underground and try to prove that the creators mind is physical when it is not.

Anonymous Logan May 04, 2013 6:41 AM  

On page 27 Sheldrake quotes the esteemed Ricky Gervais:

"'Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn't know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence - evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn't get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn't hold onto medieval practices because they are tradition.'

Gervais's idealized view of science is hopelessly naïve in the context of the history and sociology of science. It portrays scientists as open-minded seekers of truth, not ordinary people competing for funds and prestige, constrained by peer-group pressures and hemmed in by prejudices and taboos."

Anonymous scoobius dubious May 04, 2013 6:53 AM  

On a related note... I'm somewhat ambivalent about the thought of the rather long-winded blogger Mencius Moldbug, but he does have his moments of clarity, and this is one.

The whole talk is worth checking out. It's interesting and thought-provoking, but not conclusive. And it provides certain side-insights into the nature of subcultures like social science research (Check out that reflexive smirk and nervous laugh that the Professor can't stop himself from using; WHERE did he get that, you might ask?) As I say, this level of abstraction is sort of a luxury when there are far more existentially gripping issues at stake, what with squid-tentacles wrapped around your throat and so forth, but then again, that's what makes Whites so cool: we philosophize even while the shark is tearing out our innards. Sometimes that's a weakness, sometimes it's a strength, I dunno.

Anonymous paradox May 04, 2013 8:23 AM  

I'm sure Frank Tipler's TED talk will be removed next.

Blogger tz May 04, 2013 8:36 AM  

The cliffs notes aspect is both good and bad. For rabbits escaping the warren, they aren't going to have their dialectic skills up in one shot. They need to remember they can think and TED had new ideas That could reignite the fire. They are probably better than video games and modern music.

There is dissent which ought to be tolerated, and trolls who seek to destroy the debate.

Anonymous Godfrey May 04, 2013 8:42 AM  

Ideology trumps science.

Gosh, what a surprise.

Anonymous Sigyn May 04, 2013 8:52 AM  

OT, guys, but a bankster has learned a valuable lesson:

It's okay to be a chiseling swindler, but don't swindle California.

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni May 04, 2013 9:23 AM  

Those "scientists" who admit consciousness exists have to believe that it springs into existence at birth if they want to condone abortion. And they do. What's their evidence for that assertion?
A bit OT: I just saw a detailed sonogram of my six-month old granddaughter in utero. The new tech sonograms are extremely detailed. I could see the little girl's face! I'm wondering if this will reduce the number of abortions. Or will they make it illegal to show such pictures to mothers-to-be?

Blogger Double Minded Man May 04, 2013 9:36 AM  

While it is good to see someone questioning scientific dogma, I don't see how this guy was ever given a platform from which to speak. But then again, I have only ever seen a couple of the TED talks, so I don't have much to compare it to. They could all be this bad.

Anonymous Red Comet May 04, 2013 10:10 AM  

What does TED care about whether or not any science they present has validity? I thought they'd just become a platform for victim status-whoring by feminazis and their manboob enablers. At least that's the only TED talks I ever see linked.

Blogger tz May 04, 2013 10:34 AM  

Then there's the old Nick Hanauer talk.

TED is an example of how liberty dies. First we have something open to expression to any thinkers, not controversy (many of those ideas are quite old, both truth and heresy), but something new. Then the "new" offends someone.

Deepak Chopra noted at HuffPo in the coverage of the controversy he gave a talk refuting Richard Dawkins immediately after his talk and got a standing ovation. Dawkins' talk is available, Chopras' not.

Also note how they are saying by putting these two talks on a "This is the goofball pseudoscience" page is somehow not censorship. If anything it is worse.

The Soviet Union would not assassinate dissidents, they sent them to mental hospitals, so they and hence their views could be seen as "crazy".

What could have been done? Leave every talk up, but put up a notice such as "Our prestigious but anonymous star-chamber of scientists has determined this does not meet their standard of 'science'", or "The plutocrats disagree they do not deserve tax cuts so recommend not watching this video".

Is the standard reason and truth? Or dogma? The latter is what the mainstream media gives - either MSNBC or Fox flavored. Now TED is just another MSM outlet doing propaganda.

Either you let people judge for themselves - maybe accepting error (remembering the earlier posts about letting children experiment but maybe get hurt or killed), or you have become arbiter and only permit what you think of as truth. It cannot be both. Either you defend to the death the right of others whom you disagree with to say things, or you don't.

The one hope is that TED's audience has objected strongly as the whole point was about new ideas and thoughts. They resent being manipulated or being told what to think. They are in effect saying "I can decide for myself the veracity and validity of any particular talk".

@Sigyn - at least Enron taught California something. I hope it isn't the wrong lesson.

Blogger IM2L844 May 04, 2013 10:36 AM  

I liked the concept of intellectual phase locking as a description of what tends to happen in Scientism.

Blogger Astrosmith May 04, 2013 10:46 AM  

That guy needs to talk to David Ickes.

Anonymous DonReynolds May 04, 2013 11:03 AM  

With great influence comes great responsibility, even if it is only realized occasionally and felt with a nagging discomfort. I suppose we should be glad that TED is being more considerate of the fact that their audience is unquestioning and childlike.

Anonymous TheExpat May 04, 2013 11:22 AM  

"An idea starts to be interesting when you get scared of taking it to its logical conclusion."
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Anonymous Monsignor Nose May 04, 2013 11:24 AM  

@ Maximo Macaroni

They will make sonograms illegal just as they actually are attempting to do now. After all, we can't have a disproportional amount of baby girls being aborted over the boys now can we?

Anonymous onejohn512 May 04, 2013 11:35 AM  

Great post! Thank you again for the work you do.

Anonymous Will Best May 04, 2013 11:45 AM  

I think Ted has some usefulness to it. I learned that you could cure MS or whatever Dr. Wahl had by eating veggies, and that if you want to save the planet then eating more grass fed beef is the way to do it as it fights desertification.

With great influence comes great responsibility, even if it is only realized occasionally and felt with a nagging discomfort

This is why I am a fan of limiting the viewership and number of words the press can use as common sense restrictions on press. Its clear from the language of the first amendment that it was never intended to provide that much press to any one person. I also think that some arbitrary list of really big words are too dangerous to be used and any sentence containing more than one should be banned.

Anonymous scoobius dubious May 04, 2013 12:04 PM  

"This is why I am a fan of limiting the viewership and number of words the press can use as common sense restrictions on press."

Quite right. "Assault Marxism" must be strictly regulated and controlled. It is well documented that Marxists have been responsible for over 100 million deaths in the past century alone: only a crazy right-winger obstructionist would oppose the free dissemination of this mad and provably murderous ideology. Science agrees.

Similarly, assault negroes and assault muslims must also be strictly regulated and controlled. Assault negroes are responsible for an astonishingly high level of gun crime, as well as the rapes of approximately 30,000 white women EVERY YEAR. You're not in favor of rape, are you? We will never be safe in this country until we have secure, sensible, balanced, regulated, common-sense negro control.

If you oppose these measures you are clearly an obstructionist nutjob who must be marginalized and hounded out of proper society. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous kh123 May 04, 2013 12:51 PM  

Not quite Ted the Ripper, but not bad.

At first I thought the CS Lewis quote and his mentioning that there are implications to the universe having a beginning would be the death knells. But I think ultimately it's the talk (or implying) of telepathy and to a lesser extent the speculating of the "permanently provisional" laws of physics that led to his being distanced from the TED collective - the latter since the assumption would be that measurements during the infancy of a science (and whatever fluctuations or anomalies) are never going to be as accurate as today.

Of course, as he argues, it's just as likely due to ossification of worldview.

Seems to be relying on Heisenberg's uncertainty for his "you observe as much as influence the world around you simply by observing and sensing it" plank.

Anonymous Anonymous May 04, 2013 12:59 PM  

Scoobius, thanks for bringing up a great point about the tendency of some to want to philosophize about existential questions in the middle of a brawl to the death. This response seems especially prevalent in the alt-right spehere. One could get the impression that quoting obscure dead philosphers is more important than actuall doing something, sometimes.

Case in point: After Romney surrendered and it was obvious that the Traitor Lobby was going to try another amnesty push, the big kick on most of the alt-right wasn't "how can we organize a counter-voice to Conservative Inc?" but "is 'Dark Enlightenment' a cool enough sounding name?"

Call it the "I'll write the wiki!" phenom. Regardless though, you've inspired today's post on my blog. Thanks, Scoobius.

Anonymous Anonagain May 04, 2013 2:19 PM  

Speaking of manipulation and fraud in science, I just now happened to check out my local weather. How they cling to their global warming myth.

Note the lies in this very simple graphic put out by The Weather Channel. I'm talking about that multicolored bar of temperature range under the Month-to-Date Totals toward the bottom of the page on the left side.

It actually shows the highest temperature so far, 83 degrees, as being GREATER than the average high of 84 degrees. And check out this month's low - it's nearly a record, but you'd never guess it by that graphic.

It is truly astonishing how utterly corrupt they all are. In an honest world, these evil charlatans posing as scientists and academics would be charged with malfeasance, stripped of their positions and titles, and never allowed to make another public statement.

Blogger RobertT May 04, 2013 2:26 PM  

I don't disagree with any of your feelings about TED or the scientific community or other group upon which you've directed your ire, but I think you're getting into sticky ground when you try to equate intelligence with accumulated knowledge. It's been my experience that the two don't go hand in hand. Some of the most pompous people I've met have been mildly bright and over educated.

Anonymous Anonagain May 04, 2013 3:12 PM  

The errors in that graph were not a simple error nor an anomaly. It is obviously the policy of the Weather Channel to lie on the side of Global Warming. Look at this one from Picayune, Mississippi. Even more egregious. 79 is a clearly a few pixels higher 85. Every zip code I looked up has the same BS lie. They must think people are very stupid.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 04, 2013 3:44 PM  

I understand the point about censorship, but I think Sheldrake's point about changes in the speed of light is misleading. The speed of light (c) is a dimensionful number, which is fixed at exactly 299,792,458 meters a second. A change in this would only result in a change in the length of the meter. Due to special relativity fixing the speed of all other objects in the universe relative to c, there wouldn't be any observable difference in the universe. (And special relativity is not a mere dogma - its veracity is put to the test every day at particle accelerators all over the world).

Perhaps what Sheldrake means is change in the fine structure constant. That would result in a lot of observable difference. But there are scientific research programs looking for such changes. It is hardly a piece of dogma. There's also some research programs finding out whether other dimensionless constants such as the charge-to-mass ratio (e/m) changes over time - in fact one of my professors is doing this.

Anonymous GreyS May 04, 2013 4:13 PM  

What's going on is that TED wanted to make money by franchising out their label. They let people give talks under the TED banner, calling it 'TEDx'. Many "scientists" took advantage of the program to promote their ideas. Then other "scientists" starting hitting TED with criticism for allowing talks which featured ideas they disagreed with-- in this case, PZ and Jerry Coyne complained. So TED now lets an anonymous board of "scientists" decide which talks are "real science" and which are not.

In this case, TED took a lot of heat for initially banning the talk and now are using the "we're not banning it, we're putting it in this special box" method. They did this only because several youtubers reloaded the video-- "Banned TED talk!"-- leading to thousands more views than there would have been originally if TED would have just let them go.

Anonymous realmatt May 04, 2013 4:13 PM  

Then there's the old Nick Hanauer talk.

His talk is a waste of time. It's good they deleted it. "Duuuur daa rich peoplez didnt create the job. Demand did. duuuuurrrrr". Demanding people be honest and specific is necessary but giving a presentation while pretending to not know what's being said is ridiculous. For example..

The speed of light (c) is a dimensionful number, which is fixed at exactly 299,792,458 meters a second

That's the speed of light in vacuum.

Anyway, I hate TED talks. I always did. Everyone about it, from the tone of the speakers to the lame opening sequence screamed 'wannabe intellectual' to me. A few seemed almost interesting but once I saw the video claiming murder rates in this era are lower than they were in any other, I had to turn it off. More truth about humanity can be found in Onion Talks.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 04, 2013 4:16 PM  

That's the speed of light in vacuum.

Yes, and your point is? No one was talking about anything else. You learn in high school that light changes speed in materials other than vacuum. Clearly Sheldrake meant vacuum.

Anonymous rycamor May 04, 2013 4:17 PM  

Ted talk spoof -- indistinguishable from actual Ted talk.

Anonymous Daniel May 04, 2013 5:01 PM  

Consciousness, as a topic, gives the science-lite folks apoplexy. In fact, the concept alone practically destroys The Descent of Man from within, as Darwin's immature continuity hypothesis was quite effectively countered by the co-discovery of natural selection by Alfred Russel Wallace.

Both men recognized consciousness as a chasm, but Darwin folded it into evolutionary leaps that Wallace simply rejected on scientific grounds. Looking at the same evidence, Wallace drew the more coherent conclusion: that metaphysical "forces" were at work in consciousness.

This was unacceptable by the TED panel of the day. Wallace, though more defensibly scientific in his approach, was outside the realm of the "established science" of the day. Darwin was okay, because he stuck to materialism. Now, 150 years later, when the last remnants of Darwinism are being rejected on the grounds that Wallace identified back then, it is clear: the cult of science despises inquiries into consciousness.

Medical engineering doesn't help matters. The reticular activating system of the human brain causes more problems into the scientific inquiry into consciousness, for example, than it solves.

Consciousness is the bane of evolutionary thought.

Anonymous Daniel May 04, 2013 5:19 PM  

OT but related: Harvard Professor forced to apologize for suggesting that Keynes personal life had an influence over his economic theory.

Blogger mmaier2112 May 04, 2013 6:48 PM  

The TED talk about naming dinosaurs is great, simply because it spears the ego of Scienticians so well.

Anonymous TJ May 04, 2013 7:36 PM  

Regarding the Venn diagram image on the left of the post:

Where is Apple product users (especially the MacBook)?

TED is like an Apple product ... it's for consumption of the mid-witted who want to be identified as intelligent. These particular products don't make the mid-witted feel so stupid because they can understand them without much work.

Anonymous MendoScot May 04, 2013 10:34 PM  

Now here is an interesting TED talk. Clearly a liberal, who discovered that work is important. The repeated references to the testicles bouncing on his chin as his moment of enlightenment is worth its weight in gold. Golden hemorrhoides, perhaps.

Still, he did manage to plant the idea that people who do things, and are prepared to risk their lives to make a buck might, just maybe, have something to contribute to society.

Especially if it involves testicles bouncing on your chin.

I don't think he'll be banned.

Anonymous rubberducky May 04, 2013 11:37 PM  

TED offers no explanation for why their scientific review board is cloaked in anonymity other than to say this has been done "for obvious reasons". Really? I can think of no good reason, none whatsoever, to have an anonymous board. Ideally the board should not only be public but also conduct its affairs under the clear light of day. I swear, for a group of materialist nursing raging hard-ons over Galileo, it is strange to find them scuttling around like a bunch of cloistered priests obsessing over a magisterium.

Anonymous rubberducky May 04, 2013 11:39 PM  

And yes, MendoScot, Mike Rowe's TED talk is one of the best ones in the whole collection. Out of nowhere. He ran in there and rednecked it, and ran away with it!

Anonymous Rod Freeman May 05, 2013 2:10 AM  

Fantastic post Vox. Your relentless and humorous skewering of the Scientodists is always amusing and elucidating.

Blogger Heuristics May 05, 2013 3:12 AM  

I recommend that you listen to the following if this story interests you.

JRE: Eddie Huang TED Conference Exposed

Anonymous kh123 May 05, 2013 4:21 AM  

Well, looks like Joe Rogan fits into the above demographic breakdown. Who would have thought.

Anonymous bob k. mando May 05, 2013 12:11 PM  

Anonagain May 04, 2013 3:12 PM
They must think people are very stupid.

well, obviously.

the whole global elite/banking/NWO plan is predicated on the majority being too stupid to take the simplest steps toward self-preservation.

MPAI is an adage not limited to just the alt-right.

IRL i sometimes talk to people ( small town, been Republicans their whole lives, farmers, etc ) about the absolute CRAP condition of public schools, the corruption of primary voting, banks, etc.

you know what the response is? a blank stare.

they can't process it.

i point out facts that THEY KNOW ... and i apply them to the real world implications. and nothing.


none so blind as those who will not see.

Blogger Crowhill May 05, 2013 12:13 PM  

The video would have been a lot better if he'd stuck to the "this is not science" theme, left out the paranormal stuff and didn't mention his own morphogenesis theory.

Blogger James Higham May 05, 2013 12:29 PM  

You've put meat on the idea I've been on about for a long time - Science as defined politically and science, as in real science.

Blogger rcocean May 06, 2013 12:07 AM  

"but I think you're getting into sticky ground when you try to equate intelligence with accumulated knowledge. It's been my experience that the two don't go hand in hand."

IQ if overrated except in some highly technical field. I've seen too many "smart" people who think their ability to grasp things quicker or to do advanced math, means they have wisdom, judgment, or can somehow skip all that boring "knowledge" and get the "real answer".

The old saw "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich" is in fact a correct one. I've seen too many high IQ people think they can play the market or figure out the tax code in a couple hours. "Smart People" also some of the dumbest views on religion, politics, history, and literature.

Blogger rcocean May 06, 2013 12:12 AM  

I often wonder when this worship of "smart" began. While Presidents have often been admired for the their learning, judgement, and past accomplishments, it isn't until JFK that we start hearing about how "smart" the POTUS is and how he's surrounded by the "Best and brightest". Then we get Carter and his "I'm a nuclear engineer", sneers at Reagan for being "dumb" and then more talk about how "Smart" Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton was.

Anonymous Agathis May 06, 2013 6:16 AM  

I started out agreeing with some of the broad strokes, but when he starts talking about telepathy--well, that's where he begins to sound nutty. On such issues, most honest scientists will tell you that there is no known physical mechanism for such things, and that the probability of such things existing is practically nil. But they won't say that it doesn't exist. The same goes for things like the existence of God. It's all probabilities. If a "scientist" comes right out and says, "X doesn't exist," or "y is impossible," then they're not speaking as scientists.

Science is great in the ideal, if it remembers its limits. Which is why I was nodding in agreement at the beginning, when he was saying that science is a methodology, not a belief system. Far too many people (including many of the loudest voices on the internet) use science as a belief system. Science is merely a methodology for better understanding the natural world and the physical universe. It does not rely on materialism. But you'd never understand this if you listened to people talk about science on the internet. Materialism is a completely separate philosophical idea, and one which (ironically) has very little empirical evidence supporting it. Science is designed to predict natural phenomena--but its success in doing so is not evidence that non-material "things" exist. It's perhaps the most common philosophical mistake these sorts of people make.

God forbid you point this out to them. I have no doubt that Einstein was a brilliant man when it came to physics. But just read his comments on peace and politics and religion--on those topics, he was a complete ignoramus.

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Blogger mmaier2112 May 06, 2013 6:40 PM  

Ted Rogan has a YouTube video from his show's audio feed. He has a guest that skewers the TED stuff for some of the same reasons as above. Plus he says it's for rich pricks to snob with "smart, creative people".

The guest also says they try to control their guests for a full week, not "letting them leave" the compound or whatever and making sure their millionaire guests get plenty of face time for their thousands paid. Supposedly they raise a few million for every guest.

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