Last month I posted videos of two recent thought-provoking TEDx talks by Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake. However, if you visit either of those stories today, you'll find that the videos are no longer accessible. The reason? Complaints were made to the TED organisation - for example, by atheist blogger Jerry Coyne, and of course, P.Z. Myers - about the lectures being unscientific and full of 'woo'. Under pressure from these bloggers and their readers (and others), TED set up a conversation page to get input from TED viewers about these talks.
Subsequently, TED made a final decision to pull the videos from their YouTube channel. This provoked a storm of anger towards TED on social networks about censorship, and perhaps because of this the videos have now turned up in their own special blog post on the TED site where they can be viewed (though they can no longer be externally embedded on other websites). Responding to the criticism, TED staff claimed "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."
Now firstly, I want to say that I think censorship is a slightly extreme description of what has happened. TED are a brand, and though I haven't seen a TED contract I'd imagine they are not compelled to post video of every talk that is hosted under their banner. If they don't like a talk, they have the right to remove it. What others think of them doing so is another matter – it's certainly not far from 'censorship', at least of certain ideas, in my book (as one commenter quipped on the TED website, "You’re correct, it isn’t censorship. It’s just cowardly and patronising"). But I think they *have* created a real issue now, by reposting the videos within a blog post that frames them with introductions saying they contain "serious factual errors", and I'd like to quickly go over some of these points to clarify why I think this is a problem. I'm going to concentrate on Graham Hancock's talk, because I don't have the free time at the moment to go over both talks point by point.
I have watched Graham Hancock's talk a number of times, breaking down the points, and I simply cannot find the "serious factual errors" in it that TED claims as the reason for taking it down (I've embedded a re-uploaded copy of his talk above - not sure whether TED will have this taken down at some stage though). The TED blog that frames Graham Hancock's talk puts forward these complaints about his talk as reasons for the video being pulled:
"He misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness."
"Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both nonscientific and reckless."
"He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an "emergence into consciousness"
"[He states] that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture."
"He seems to offer a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), it's no surprise his work has often been characterised as pseudo-archaeology."
These are amazing statements from the TED staff, because I can find absolutely no evidence in Graham's talk for any of these accusations. Go ahead and watch the talk over, looking for these supposed statements or claims in it. So misleading are they, that I can only assume they haven't even watched the talk and are simply repeating accusations from some of the emails sent to them by the obnoxious, whining bloggers involved. Let me be clear by saying it again: the accusations against Graham Hancock which have been given for the pulling of his talk are completely without basis. The TED staff should be questioned on these claims (and as a consequence, the pulling of the video altogether) and be held to account by posting supportive evidence for them, or simply remove them (and perhaps reinstate the videos).
Graham is actually very careful to frame any speculation - moreso than many other TED talks I've watched, ironically. For instance, ... Read More »
“Words are potent weapons for all causes, good or bad... “
- Water vapor detected 130 light years from home.
- Europe & Russia join search for life on Mars.
- Is this the boson you had in mind?
- Habitable worlds are closer than we thought (last month).
- There’s life under the sea.
- Make that solar system super-sized, please.
- …In a time when birds had four wings.
- The unbreakable codes of quantum communication.
- A comet, Mercury and Earth walk into a solar system…
- Alaskan aliens.
- A Manly lecture on UFOs.
- A woman’s take on science.
- The revelation of shape-shifting Jesus , revealed.
- De-evolution at work.
- Bottom-feeder, redefined.
- When televisions go bad.
- Giving work the fake finger.
- A glitch in the furniture matrix.
- This week’s evidence of the pending robot uprising… window-wash ‘bots!
With thanks to the incomparable RPJ!
Quote of the Day:
“The end of science is not to prove a theory, but to improve mankind.”
Manly P. Hall
- Before becoming Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio cooked his own meals, lived in a simple apartment & rode on the bus.
- Who needs anti-aircraft guns when you have saints?
- The ALMA telescope array is launched in the Chilean Atacama desert. Nice synchro IMO.
- More UFO presentations coming to the National Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada. Could it be the result of the new all-you-can-eat caviar buffet at the Bellagio?
- UFOlogy's shadow research community.
- Lake Vostok 'alien life' discovery called into question. But don't put down the flamethrower just yet...
- The Paracast interviews ESP researcher Dr. Russell Targ: "There's 10 times greater evidence for psychic abilities than NIH's evidence that aspirin prevents heart attacks." The Reality of ESP: A Physicist's Proof of Psychic Abilities [Amazon US & UK]
- Japan's tsunami survivors are haunted by ghosts visions.
- Babies prefer individuals who harm those that aren't like them. As if we didn't know already that toddlers are immature pricks!
- Neanderthals became extinct because 'they had large eyes', devoted to seeing in the dark. Either that or...
- When zombies are up the humans are down, Science sez.
- Wikiweapon firm launches '3D-printed Pirate Bay.' That was fast!
- The key to Korean alphabet was under the king's hat.
- Pic of the day: Comet PANSTARRS & the new moon.
- Red Pill of the Day: With this furniture, you'll think that there's a glitch in the Matrix.
Thanks to Holly
Quote of the Day:
"The god of football is Argentinian, and so is the Pope too"
By now you may be aware that I have a book for sale: Inside Dan Brown's Inferno for just $2.99. Consider yourself double-aware now...
- Five strange theories about Stonehenge.
- X-Messiah! Shape-shifting Jesus described in 1200-year-old Egyptian text.
- New study confirms Egyptian pyramids are aligned to the cardinal points with remarkable accuracy.
- Mysterious labyrinth of tunnels beneath Liverpool unearthed by volunteers. Only mysterious if you didn't read John Reppion's Darklore Volume IV article "The Mole of Edge Hill"...
- Puzzling discovery about ancient techniques of measuring star brightness.
- Earth-sized planets in habitable zones are more common than previously thought.
- Mysterious SETI signal set the rules of alien engagement.
- Curiosity rover was sent to the right place: discovers evidence for a past environment that would have been suitable for Earth-like life.
- Is the Martian moon Phobos a mined asteroid?
- There's a new comet in the sky. What does it portend?
- 'Heavily-armed sex-crazed dolphins on rampage in Black Sea' would have been close to the headline of the year. If it was real. :(
- Come to Australia instead, where we've got Yowies and Jerrawerra and Junjudees (oh my!). Learn more via Tim Binnall's interview with the man behind Weird Australia, Andrew Nicholson.
- This is what happens when you run water through a 24hz sine wave. Burn the water witch!
- The mirroring mind.
Quote of the Day:
There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world. The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be
One of the many amazing facts about the three pyramids of the Giza Plateau in Egypt, built almost 5000 years ago, is that they are aligned remarkably accurately to the cardinal points. How do we know this? Mostly because, um, a few people measured them about a century or more ago, and we just keep repeating what they said.
But no longer do we have to rely on old, possibly inaccurate measurements! Archaeologists Clive Ruggles and Erin Nell undertook a week-long survey of the famous pyramid complex, aiming to clarify the data concerning the main three pyramids' orientation, and also determine the orientations "of as many as possible of the associated structures" surrounding them. To do so, the pair departed from the usual method of using the corners of the buildings, and instead identified a series of points along the best preserved structural segments of each side.
The result? Nell and Ruggles found that the pyramids truly were aligned very accurately to the cardinal points, that there was "only a very slight difference in orientation" between the north-south axes of the two larger pyramids at Giza, those of Khufu and Khafre (approximately 0.5 arc minutes), and that the sides of Khafre's pyramid are actually more perfectly perpendicular than those of the 'Great Pyramid' of Khufu.
But perhaps the most interesting discovery was that the east-west axis of both pyramids was even closer to "true cardinality" than the north-south axis. For many years there has been some debate as to whether the alignment of the pyramids was executed by sighting the circumpolar stars of the northern sky, or via the Sun (using noon shadows or rising point on the equinox). This debate has also sometimes been associated with a debate over Egyptian culture of that time being centered around a 'solar cult' or a 'stellar cult', with a possible change from stellar to solar between Khufu and his son Khafre (note the 're' on the end of the latter's name, denoting the Sun).
Nevertheless, Nell and Ruggles concluded that the main pyramids were probably aligned using the circumpolar stars. However, they also noted from their data that the "broader context of associated structures suggests that the east-west orientation in relation to sunrise or (in one case) sunset may have been a, or even the, key factor in many cases."
Read: "The orientations of the Giza pyramids and associated structures", published in the journal Archaeoastronomy.
Grab a copy of Inside Dan Brown's Inferno for just $2.99. Thanks so much for the support!
- Astrobiologists find ancient fossils in fireball fragments. Or not?
- Pair of newly discovered stars is the third-closest star system to our Sun and the closest discovered since 1916.
- Are we being watched? The search for life in the cosmos.
- 13 ways to hunt intelligent aliens. No tips from Sigourney or Arnie?
- Bring on the Worldships: toward a space-based civilisation.
- 'Grasshopper' rocket can hover and land again vertically.
- The Voynich Manuscript, due for a return to the spotlight.
- Europe's oldest-known fishhooks found in Germany, dating back to almost 15,000 years ago.
- So much for the paleo diet: mummies reveal that clogged arteries plagued the ancient world.
- Egypt's tomb raiders put precious monuments in real danger.
- The Psi Wars come to TED.
- A Darwinist mob goes after a serious philosopher.
- Sorry, astrologers -- this is what it really means when a planet is in retrograde. With the large assumption that "astrologers" did not know this already…
- Forget zombies - here comes the antibiotic apocalypse. Maybe if we make really, really small shotguns and baseball bats we'll be okay?
- Don't be afraid of genetic modification.
- A peek into the future? This is what Antarctica will look like without all that pesky ice.
- Global greening as plant life moves northward.
- Psychedelic glowing wings give planes a lift.
- Futuristic fixes that could help the blind see again.
- Britain is becoming obsessed with the spirit world.
- Mysterious mini door found in Golden Gate Park.
- Emperor Palpatine incarnates into our plane of reality.
- Image of the Day: Electric mountain.
Quote of the Day:
If God dropped acid, would He see people?
The Bigfoot Hunter: Still Searching, shot in the summer of 2006 during two Sasquatch hunting expeditions in the rural hills of down-state New York, follows the often hilarious, sometimes nerve racking, and always fascinating search of two prominent Bigfoot hunters from the New England region.
Tim Holmes, ex-merchant marine and founder of the Southern Tier Bigfoot Watch, together with his partner Becky Sawyer, a no-nonsense Sasquatch tracker, take to the forests of the tri-state area in a search for the elusive monster, followed by the cameras of a group of young adventurers, many of whom are now the amateur journalists of Who Forted? Magazine and the cast of the upcoming documentary web series Planet Weird.
During the expeditions, the evidence captured on film surprised not only the crew, but two seasoned Sasquatch investigators. Though the film undoubtedly focuses on the North American Man-Ape, the big hairy guy takes a back seat to the bigger personalities of Tim and Becky, who are obsessed with the search for Bigfoot, albeit in very different ways. It’s a film that begs the question, “what matters more, the journey or the destination?”
After disseminating only a few hundred of the official DVD copies of the film to the backers of Planet Weird last year, we’re thrilled to finally have the completed film available to stream online. It was, since it’s inception, a low-budget labor of love six years in the making. Shot for less than $50 on a couple of Handycams that we promptly returned to Wal-Mart after shooting, the film is a glimpse at a moment in time, a time long before shows like Finding Bigfoot had made Sasquatch hunting a living room affair.
Hmmm. Aren't all photons real?
- Ex nihilo: Dynamical Casimir effect in metamaterial converts vacuum fluctuations into real photons.
- US teen designs compact nuclear reactor.
- DNA submitted to online project pushes advent of modern humans to 338,000 years ago.
- Ancient people and Neandertals were extreme travelers.
- Thousands of people came from all across Britain to help build Stonehenge, which may have been a burial site for Stone Age elite.
- Researchers surprised to find clogged arteries, or what's left of the arteries, in 4,000-year-old mummies.
- Crystal found in a shipwreck could be similar to a sunstone - a mythical navigational aid said to have been used by Viking mariners.
- Crystal skulls deemed fake.
- Cicada wing structure able to kill bacteria on contact.
- Freezing an Android phone can help reveal its confidential contents.
- Why paying attention is anything but elementary.
- Over half of Austrians think the Nazis would be elected if the party was readmitted to politics.
- Japanese government says, unless it allows the yakuza to make a f*cked-up mess of the Fukushima 'clean-up', it will never get done. (Or something to that effect.)
- Wealth inequality in America. Bill Maher's spot-on observations.
- The night sky that city-dwellers would see if they could turn off city lights.
- Video: Retired lab chimps see the sky for the first time.
A big thanks to my favorite Pill.
Quote of the Day:
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
”You never change things by fighting the existing reality…”
- The oldest star.
- The oldest life.
- Antarctica without ice.
- The floods of Mars…. In 3-D.
- The oceans of Europa.
- Human settlement in Sudan may redefine history.
- Do galactic bubbles require interstellar gum?
- 11,300 year-old weather report predicts record warming.
- Is it… safe? Just ask Dr. Szell.
- The buzz of caffeinated honey?
- Lost supernova, found.
- ISO: Higgs, Boson required.
- New life under the ice. Complicating, circulating, new life.
- Planning otherworldly vacations.
- Living in acid.
- Nanomaterial reaches tiny milestone.
- Monitoring brainwaves and meditation... there’s an app for that.
- 1920-‘s-30’s blues gets notable re-release.
- Gladiator’s UFO, loses its U.
- New Star Wars returns to galaxy far, far away…
- This week’s proof of the looming robot uprising… Bard ‘bots.
Quote of the Day:
“…To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
R. Buckminster Fuller
It is well-known that Dan Brown likes to engage in fun games with his readers, often setting 'treasure hunts' through which they can get access to more information about his work than is readily available. Perhaps the most significant example was the cover of his bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, in which a number of codes were embedded that, when solved, gave hints to the topics that would be discussed in the next book in the series. By solving these ciphers, I was able to write a book predicting the content of The Lost Symbol some five years before it was released.
With the publication date of Brown's next novel Inferno now set (which, incidentally, seems to have been deliberately chosen in order to encode the value of Pi), what can we find if we search around for other possible clues to the strange topics that Dan Brown might explore this time? Taking a look at his website, we find a number of little puzzles waiting to be solved, one of which takes this form:
While at first glance this square of letters and numbers might look like gibberish, it's actually quite easily solved ... Read More »