The War on Consciousness by Graham Hancock (Banned TED Talk)

This talk was presented at the TEDx Whitechapel event in London on 12 January 2013 and posted to the TEDx Youtube channel on 13 February 2013. A month later, on 14 March 2013, TED deleted the talk from the TEDx Youtube channel (original location here:, where it had accumulated more than 132,000 views, and relegated it to an obscure section of its website surrounded by prejudicial statements intended to bias viewers against it from the start and ensure no harm was done to the “TED brand”. At the same time a talk by Rupert Sheldrake entitled “The Science Delusion” was also deleted from the TEDx Youtube channel and reposted in the same deliberately obscure fashion. But TED’s decision effectively to act as a censor in the very real war on consciousness that is underway in our society has backfired. Although the possibility for the original 132,000 viewers to share the URL has been cut short, the issue has sparked an internet furore that continues to grow and grow and Hancock’s talk has been independently uploaded to dozens of Youtube sites — for example, here under the slogan “information is viral; it wants to be free”. Other sites at which the talk has been made available by such guerrilla action (and at which lively comments — for and against — are being posted) include:

Hancock and Sheldrake have now challenged TED to come out in the open and debate the issues raised by their talks live, face to face in front of a global audience, rather than hidden away in a corner of TED’s choosing:

On the TED Blog ( Hancock wrote:

“””””””””””””””””””””””” I previously commented that I would not post further on this Blog page because it is so clearly designed to distract public attention from the disastrous way TED have handled their attempt to censor my “War on Consciousness” talk and Rupert Sheldrake’s “Science Delusion” talk. That in my view is the important point, for it bears on the future of TED itself as a viable platform for “ideas worth spreading”. I am heartened that so many of the 400-plus concerned people who have now posted here (and the 1000-plus who posted on the original Blog page) have refused to fall for TED’s sleight of hand and continued to press the organization to rethink its policy.

“Since TED have retracted and struck out all their justifications for the original deletion of my talk from the TEDx Youtube channel ( and since they have published my rebuttal, and done the same re Rupert Sheldrake’s talk, I agree with Rupert on a new post he has made on this page (

There are no more specific points surrounding TED’s misguided decision that he and I need to answer. Nor is it possible to make much progress through short responses to nebulous questions like “Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?”

“But I now make this one further post, simply to add my voice to Rupert’s and to put on record that I, too, would be happy to take part in a public debate with a scientist who disagrees with the issues I raise in my talk. My only condition is that it be conducted fairly, with equal time for both sides to present their arguments, and with an impartial moderator, agreed by both parties.

“Therefore I join Rupert in asking Chris Anderson to invite a scientist from TED’s Scientific Board or TED’s Brain Trust to have a real debate with me about my talk, or if none will agree to take part, to do so himself. “”””””””””””””””””””””””

Hancock’s challenge to TED to debate was posted on the TED Blog 21 March and has since been followed by hundreds ( of further comments (making his original post hard to find unless one has the specific link). But it is still there and many more people have since added their voices to this call for a free, fair and open face-to-face debate.

Note to viewers. TED states: “All TEDxTalks do need to be linked from, or embedded from, either the TEDBlog or official TED / TEDx channels. We do not allow speakers, or any other individual or institution, to upload versions of talks from non TED / TEDx channels. We do not allow the TEDx brand to be used outside of TED and TEDx contexts.”

The TED logo and setting have therefore been removed from this presentation on the basis of which TED has committed (email from Chris Anderson, TED Curator, dated 28 March 2013) to raise no objections to our uploading the video here. While this is appreciated, the deletion of the video from the TEDx Youtube channel and thus the enforced disbanding of the original community of 132,000 people who gathered to debate and comment on this video and share the URL is now a historical fact that cannot be undone. In this context TED’s action, intended to ease its own symptoms of indigestion, remains in our view an act of censorship that runs contrary to the spirit of our times.


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