TED is revoking the license of TEDxWestHollywood, just a couple of weeks before their event, "Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?" without offering a reason, beyond a vague statement suggesting that the program is not sufficiently scientific. This occurred just two weeks before the April 14 event, after over a year of preparation. If you're feeling a sense of déjà vu, that's because they used this same line of reasoning to pull videos by Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake just a few weeks ago, an incident that sparked wide controversy.

TED defended its position on their blog, saying, "Over the past several months, many in the TED and TEDx community have reached out to us, expressing concern over the direction this particular event had taken. When we looked at the program as a whole, our assessment was that it didn’t meet the TEDx guidelines for solid science."

A representative of TED explained their stance in further detail in this letter to Suzanne Taylor, organizer of TEDxWestHollywood (excerpt courtesy of The Weiler Psi blog):

(…) And when we look at your speaker line-up, we see several people who promote — as fact — theories that are well outside what most scientists would accept as credible. We’re not saying all the speakers are off-base. Perhaps you could make a case for each of them individually. But when we look at the program as a whole, it’s clear that it doesn’t meet our guidelines.The problem is not the challenging of orthodox views. We believe in that. We’ve had numerous talks which do that. But we have rules about the presentation of science on the TEDx stage. We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance.

More than 2000 TEDx events will take place in the year ahead.  If your program is allowed to proceed, it will truly damage other TEDx organizers’ ability to recruit scientists and other speakers. (Indeed many in the TED and TEDx communities have already reached out to us to express their concern.)

We have reluctantly concluded that your program is not appropriate for TEDx, and we have to therefore terminate your license. You are of course welcome to still hold an event with these speakers. You just can’t associate it with TEDx. We are happy to work with you to figure out how to smoothly transition it into an event under a different name. I’ll be happy to speak with you directly to facilitate this.


TED's refusual to offer detailed reasons for its withdrawl of support, or to give TEDxHollywood an opportunity to defend the scientific grounding of its program, is in line with its previous vague criticism of Hancock and Sheldrake. Both Hancock and Sheldrake have contributed articles to Reality Sandwich. Suzanne Taylor has hosted two webinars for Evolver.  

In an email to KurzweilAI, Suzanne Tayler said, "The current world view needs a sea change to where we become a compassionate humanity, and taking care of one another, species wide, becomes the bottom line. The issue of what is or isn't legitimate subject matter for TED could be the opening for the larger dialogue to loosen the hold on the culture of such a narrow, old, Newtonian, cause and effect perspective." 

On The Weiler Psi blog, Craig Weiler writes that TED had earlier expressed concern over three of the speakers, cautioning that they would not post their talks on their YouTube page if they were not satisfied with the results. The three are Russell Targ, who will talk about ESP, Larry Dossey, talking about the revolution in consciousness, and Marilyn Schiltz, a social anthropologist and psi researcher speaking on paradigm shifts. Although the three have proper credentials, they, as Weiler says, "represent the real threat to the Materialists/skeptics at TED." Reality Sandwich has published articles by Targ and Dossey.

They both offered statements on TED's blog regarding the incident:

Larry Dossey questions TED's doubt regarding his credibility, saying, "As a board-certified physician of internal medicine, former chief of staff of a major hospital, author of twelve books and scores of papers on these subjects published in peer-reviewed journals, a recipient of many awards, a frequent lecturer at medical schools and hospitals, and executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, I’d be interested in knowing from TED where I came up short."

Russell Targ similarly makes the case for his scientific credibility: "In cancelling the TEDx event in West Hollywood, it appears that I was accused of 'using the guise of science' to further spooky claims, (or some such). People on this blog have asked what I was going to talk about. That's easily answered. I was co-founder of a 23 year research program investigating psychic abilities at Stanford Research Institute. We were doing research and applications for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Force and Army Intelligence, NASA, and others."

TED's termination of TEDxWestHollywood's license seems to an effort to remain consistent in lieu of the Hancock/Sheldrake incident. Their enforcement of a zero tolerance policy towards talks that explore ideas outside of the materialistic point of view has caused many to question how genuine their "ideas worth spreading" motto really is.

You can help Suzanne Taylor get her program off the ground without TED by making tax deductible donation here: www.TEDxWestHollywood.com

If any of the TEDxWestHollywood links fail, you can find the information at Theconversation.org.

You can join Suzanne Taylor's ExTEDWestHollywood mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/xr1Fz

Image from the TEDXWestHollywood Facebook page