To my vast disappointment I recently learned that TED talks are evil.
They are engaged in extreme censorship.
And that would be bad enough, but they also act like a cult. “Scientology summer camp“, one former TED fellow described the experience. Cult psychology is one of my specialties, usually for its application to military recruit indoctrination. At least I can still have an interest in TED for the purposes of a case study.
I may even get a paper out of it. And a libel suit.
But I doubt, however, I’ll ever be allowed to give a TED talk on corporate influence or faceless ivory tower censorship.
The story goes thus:-
As of 2013, I have just learned TED removed talks by Sarah Silverman; Dr Rupert Sheldrake (ironically talking on dogmatic science); lawyer, entrepreneur and Vice journalist Eddie Huang; and a drug taking hippie named Graham Hancock. I am sure there are others I do not know about.
The censored talks, that I have identified above, can now be found online; though often with the TED logo blurred out. And the release of the material at all did not come easily.
Now, I have no time for drug culture; especially the South American “hallucinogen’s will fix the world, so stop trying to take responsibility for your actions and go get high – with a Shamanic context to justify a break from habits (that you obviously already know are unwelcome in your life), since you lack the internal constitution to do so on your own without an alter present and some ritual” approach to life.
But that doesn’t mean I do not want to hear about it. Parts of it are actually quite fascinating.
For as much as I dislike too much hippie nonsense; I dislike censorship far more.
TED has had other drug talks. So that is a false reason for removal. They also knew Hancock’s caper when they invited him. The first line of his Wiki says something akin to “Hancock is a sociologist and writer who specialises in unconventional theories”.
So either TED is incompetent, unable to research even as far as Wiki; or TED is not TED anymore. Which, frankly, seems more likely to be the case.
TED has had talks about people catching poems “by the tail” and, thus, having to write them backwards for crying out loud!
They’ve had people who have severe brain damage, following a stroke, who make claims about finding God via spiritual thrombosis. But that was apparently OK.
And, actually, it is a great talk. I’m glad it wasn’t censored; but had it been described to me I certainly would not have sought it out.
And that would have been my loss.
Luckily, it came up in the TED search one day. Something the above videos could never have done; since they were removed from the search even once public pressure compelled them to be returned online.
Why is a guy, whose only deal is the “unconventional”, suddenly a problem for talking about using shamanic mysticism to quit weed? Especially when there is research for psychedelics currently underway looking at this, and similar, clinical applications in mainstream schools as of 2013.
Hancock gave what was, essentially, a short and very basic anthropology lecture with a personal touch. After all, it is only 20mins? It was already recorded? YOU invited HIM! This is a problem now?
TED is beholden to big money, not sharing ideas. Not anymore.
These lecturers were selected. Approached. This was done because of interest already identified.
Should the talks be of no value, people will get a glimpse into how some other people think, at the very least. Then not pass them on if they do not like them, like most TED talks. Not watch them again, this kind of thing. That is part of sharing ideas, one could be forgiven for thinking. Seeing differences in opinion.
And bear in mind; I hate this hippie crap.
But there are bigger ideals at stake here. Or must everything be censored in America now? Just all the time?
There are no TED accidents. Even the audience tickets include no equity. But we’ll get to that.
These speakers have already been selected, for reason of interest, and they aren’t being paid for their time.
Eddie Huang pointed out some of the bizarre behaviour that goes on at TED conferences after his REQUESTS to travel a few suburbs to record a pre-booked radio show, or see to his partner on his birthday, which fell during the conference, WERE DENIED.
And pause for a moment to consider how completely controlling it is that TED invited these speakers, pays them nothing, makes such high demands of these people (like ~15hrs per day for 7 days); only to then remove the speakers’ presentations post hoc.
But this they did. They either refused to post them at all, or took down their presentations after some much needed “censorship reflection time”.
Then, after people (accurately) cried “censorship”, TED pretended “oh no, that whole event was cancelled”. O_0.
When that flimsy excuse fell over, since the other lectures from the event were posted, TED re-posted the talks; but removed them from the search so they could not be found without scrolling through the whole webpage; ie one would need to already be on a mission to find them. Talk about spreading ideas. One would have to know they were there before searching.
They also changed the page code so they could not be embedded or shared or downloaded: only for the “marked” videos at that conference.
And it gets weirder. As mentioned, one former TED fellow described the whole experience as “Scientology summer camp…you [even] share a room with someone assigned to you”, “…your own partner is not allowed to stay with you” (in this case even for their birthday), “you are forbidden to hire your own Hotel room”, and “YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO LEAVE“. The conference is a week.
You are expected to give a week of your time where they schedule your every activity for ~15hrs a day.
Again, YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO LEAVE. If you value your TEDness.
Even for the audience there is no equity.
There is an application process to even be allowed to buy a ticket.
For the lucky and chosen few: you are then “allowed” to pay US$8’000 per person. Yes, that is thousand.
In the 2’000 seat auditorium: that is US$16 Million dollars just on tickets sales, and remember: no speaker is getting paid.
But why should they, TED talks are for the people after all. And TED have costs. Overhead. And to speak at TED, why, it is a public service, right?
Well, I mean, sure; they do have some sponsors.
Only companies, for example, like “Sony”; “Samsung”; “Gucci”; “Intel”; “Target”; “American Express” and “GE”: real Ma and Pa, grassroots style companies who are barely scraping by following the financial crisis (*they helped cause).
Another banned talk, by millionaire Nick Hanauer, was on the dire need for taxing the wealthy. Nothing suspect regarding censorship there, given the sponsors. The claim was that it is having people to spend money in the middle class that creates jobs – that if the rich were really job creators, since the rich are currently richer than ever before – where are all the jobs?
Correct or flawed; it is an interesting thought problem none the less. And one that is sure to spark an interesting and informative debate.
Or, to use TED speak; *DELETE*.
This is not about the sharing of ideas, as it was when TED first began to gain in popularity. The very reason TED became what it did, is no more. The soul has been stripped from TED, and been replaced with “TED inc”.
TED needs to be replaced in its entirety.
TED no longer allows the spreading of novel ideas for our consideration; the consideration comes first. And then again later. And again if need be. And again after that, this time more surreptitiously.
It seems unlikely an accident that all the banned talks just happened to say “question orthodoxy” in one form or another, as all those who moved us forward in science have done in the past. On paper, this is a cornerstone of science. But it is not a cornerstone of TED science.
Sheldrake was interesting. The kind of talk that inspires you to think outside of the box, if only for a brief moment. To see what might be possible. Isn’t that what TED was suppose to be all about?
But no artist or scientist appreciates having their thoughts pre-thought for them.
Therefore, TED is no longer for artists or scientists.
JJR (2013). TED is Evil. J. Chron. Lett. Sci, 2(7), Sept. Ed8.