Targ, Sheldrake, Hancock: Videos on expanding consciousness

Reprinted from May 21, 2013, IRVA* email:

Remote Viewing is an idea worth spreading — How did TED unwittingly call attention to remote viewing?  TED decided what ideas were worth spreading and what were not and banned speakers such as Russell Targ and Rupert Sheldrake from participating in their talks.  TED’s gatekeeping actions unleashed a firestorm of criticism.  TED X organizer Suzanne Taylor originally wanted to do a TED X conference in Los Angeles.  TED pulled her license to do a TED talk two weeks before the scheduled event in April.  She did the conference anyway and here is Russell’s talk on remote viewing from “Brother can you spare a Paradigm.”

*International Remote Viewing Association

Reprinted from IONS* May 2013 e-newsletter:

In recent weeks a public controversy has emerged over scientific research into the nature of consciousness. It involves IONS scientists, as well as some of our colleagues, and may reflect shifting attitudes about frontier research, so we want to share a little about it with you here.

TED, the popular conference organizer with the tag line “ideas worth spreading,” recently removed videos of two TEDx talks from their official YouTube channel and then cancelled a TEDx event. The censored talks and cancelled event had a common theme—exploring the possibility that consciousness extends beyond the brain. TED’s justification for their actions was that the contributors were promoting “pseudo-science.” The videos were talks presented by Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock, and the event presenters included Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, and IONS’ Marilyn Schlitz.

TED’s actions, based on recommendations from its anonymous “Science Board,” kicked off a heated Internet discussion and shed light on how some segments of the scientific mainstream tend to stifle conversation on the nature of consciousness, including the kind of cutting-edge research that IONS conducts. However, the enormous attention this controversy has received, and the discussion it generated, may signal a shift towards more openness to including the possibility of non-local consciousness into scientific dialogues.

“Based on the thousands of comments generated by TED’s action, I think it is clear that the majority of TED fans were very upset with TED,” said IONS Chief Scientist Dean Radin, “and contrary to TED’s complaint that these people were legions of woo-woo fans, many of the commenters explicitly said that they were quite skeptical of this line of research and that their primary concern was about TED’s act of censorship, because the scientific process requires open dialog, otherwise it isn’t science any more.”

Radin is part of a group of scientists, headed by Deepak Chopra, who pushed back hard on TED’s recent moves with open letters on the Huffington Post, and in many commentaries published on the web. They argued that the history of science shows that scientific breakthroughs often come from researchers working outside the mainstream, so attempting to censor frontier science runs contrary to the very spirit of scientific exploration. Neil Theise, MD, commented, “Sheldrake and Hancock may be wrong in their ideas, but we do not yet know. Even if they are, the creativity of their work and their insistence on looking at aberrations and exceptions is certainly of value, at least to point the way to the kinds of creative explorations TED hopes to foster.”

In response to the massive outpouring of public comments, the videos of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock were eventually re-posted by TED, but on their lower-profile TED Blog. TED revoked the license for TEDx West Hollywood’s planned conference “Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?” but that program ultimately went ahead without TED’s sponsorship.

It is encouraging to see these issues discussed in a public forum, and to witness the strong support for more open conversation and inclusion. To explore this issue in more depth, you can use the links in the preceding paragraphs, or start here: Dear TED, Is It ‘Bad Science’ or a ‘Game of Thrones’?

*Institute of Noetic Sciences