Banned TED Talk: Graham Hancock – The War on Consciousness


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graham-hancockYet another TED talk banned by the TED community due to the challenge it poses to mainstream science. The talk was done at a TEDx conference and aired on the TEDx YouTube channel for a period of time before it was removed due to its content.

After personally listening to this talk it is quite clear why it was censored. It isn’t that it explores faulty information or even offensive topics, it is simply that it explores a topic that is greatly feared by mainstream medicine and science. Graham brings light to the war on consciousness that exists in our modern society, especially in the western world. He makes the argument that modern society does not allow us to truly explore our consciousness by making various psychedelic drugs illegal while we are instead fed pharmaceutical drugs that have negative effects on health. He points out the fact that this does not allow us to have true freedom and that exploring our consciousness may very well be a crucial step in changes we must make on the planet if we are to find a way to survive as a species.

In my opinion Graham makes some strong points about psychedelics and I agree with him that we should all have the right to explore them as we choose. The fact that our governing bodies have the authority to tell us which substances are legal and which are not is quite dangerous. Especially given that those that are legal are a heck of a lot more life threatening that those which are illegal. It seems clear that the greatest fear here is if we were to wake up and realize that we are more than just a brain in a body. If we knew we were conscious souls, our world would certainly be a different place. With recent areas of research in what you can call “new science,” modern science is gripping for dear life to maintain its ‘everything is unconscious matter’ belief.


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  1. Dusk

    Give yourself a break

    Reply
  2. Li Carlson

    If the talk is glorifying the use of psychedelics, under the guise of improving health, then I can appreciate why it was banned. This does not mean I agree with the censorship, just that I understand the cause. Apply critical thinking when considering the presentation of information. Words and phrases that are heavily loaded, emotionally, are the earmarks of propaganda.

    Reply
    • Marcus Turino

      He’s not talking about improving health, except insofar as he reported the use of the drug as helpful in ending addictions. He is talking about altering and expanding consciousness, which the use of psychedelics certainly does. Propaganda is what is used by centralized authority to control the consciousness of people who do not know it is being used on them. Our centralized media outlets are very good at delivering propaganda. His message undermines the propaganda of the thought police. That is why the talk was banned, especially since he attacked the gravy train of Big Pharma.

      Reply
    • Sam P

      Please, answer me honestly – have you ever personally experienced the effects of psychedelics?

      Reply
      • A Person

        God doesn’t hallucinate.

        Reply
    • Joe

      How about you don’t talk about something you know nothing about? Try watching his entire talk. If you don’t, your opinion is meaningless.

      Reply
      • João Fernandes

        Sorry Joe, my last comment wasn’t specifically to you :)

        Reply
      • João Fernandes

        That’s a wonderful speech. Very clear, well explained and honest.

        The way TED’s curator banned it was sad, shameful, untrue… but understandable. Why would he deny and disregard such a valuable talk ? Well… I’ll try to express my opinion:

        The “human’s science” has it’s limits, that’s unquestionable. It just doesn’t explains every single aspect of our existence (yet? I wonder…), and everyone must be aware of that fact.

        The old and “patriarchal” paradigms of our western culture, all the decades of repression and fear of many kinds added to all sort of religious fanaticism permeating human history, leads most of the “regular people” to look prejudicially at this subject.

        Besides the natural and already expected preconceptions that are constructed upon our culture’s baggage (and garbage!), we’re facing something that I believe is a real misconception.

        Here we have a problem of semantics when using the term “drug”. For classifying beverages like Ayahuasca, there are more suitable words in use today… and, indeed, there are many discussion on that subject. But if you’ll call it drug, you’ll need to be really aware of the fact that it isn’t an “ordinary drug”.

        “Entheogen” is a reasonable example of an appropriate term for ayahuasca classification, and the discussion on that matter represents a very heavy and deep paradigm shift concerning every cultural aspects of humanity (science and religion mainly…).

        Hence, I’m OK if you disagree with that term! Take it as an available option or dismiss it if you don’t like it! I’m not trying to impose any point of view :)

        Nevertheless, using the word “drug” or not in order to classify Ayahuasca, people needs to start looking it more seriously and respectfully, regarding the significance of Ayahuasca culture and today’s evidences of it being completely harmless (well, you’ll have to “google it” with a commitment to the true, and free of pre-assumptions, if you want to find these evidences).

        So … I believe that TED’s “back office”, or TED’s curator, simply couldn’t “get it”… and maybe they/he will only understand what Graham said when they/he experience what Graham presented as a gift for those who were able to listen accurately.

        Many people may not be able to understand it, but time and the evolution of science will awake them, slowly, to respect it!

        Sorry if I’ve made too many grammar mistakes 😉

        Reply
  3. why, oh , why would TED ban or remove such a talk… so now I am very cautious about TED… so much good info, but why sensor??? Damn it’s all going to hell in a hand-basket!!

    Reply
  4. Nick

    By applying the label “drug” to any mind-altering substance, we are admitting defeat to the “Just Say No” drug warriors. It can’t be denied that any mainstream information that is released with regards to drugs is inherently influenced by the federal government (and I think all of us here know who they work for). To use a Schedule I drug in the name of research, one must obtain approval from the FDA, DEA, and NIDA. If they don’t like where you’re headed, your project is canned. Fortunately, major research institutions such as NYU and Johns Hopkins have been successful in obtaining approvals to study the effects of psychedelic substances for the purpose of examining the potential effects on terminally ill cancer patients. Their conclusions invariably show that substances like psilocybin evoke indescribable spiritual awakenings that patients maintain are among the most significant experiences they’ve ever had. Subjects who are interviewed months after the studies affirm that the psychedelic experience had long-term transformational benefits on their mood and sense of being. These findings are not the musings of a stoned hippie. They are substantiated by science and coincide with universal spiritual teachings that transcend the ages.

    Reply
  5. Eric Friesen

    To dillonb1950: Maybe the spiritual path is not quite for you?

    Reply
    • ryan devine

      dillonb1950 must be a young soul…and by young, i mean between embryo and just barely born.

      Reply
    • im with Eric

      Reply
      • seems he has no god or humility before nature. Good luck on the other side sir. I’ve been there and it is no joke.

        Reply
        • Wow the ONLY person ever who has been there? Hallucinate much?

          Reply
  6. drivethruhero

    there was quite a bit of drama on tedx between Hancock and Chris Anderson, TED curator.

    Graham replies to (#) which were the claims under which the talk was banned:

    “”(1) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

    I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I say that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness”? Also in what other specific ways does TED believe I misrepresent what scientists actually think?

    (2) TED says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

    I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an emergence into consciousness. I would also like TED to identify where exactly in my talk I state that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.

    (3) TED states that there are many inaccuracies in my presentation which display a disrespect both for my audience and for my arguments.

    I would like TED to indentify where exactly in my talk these alleged “many inaccuracies” occur.

    TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

    Official responce:

    “Graham, greetings, and thanks for engaging here personally. We’ll try to get you some more detailed comments early next week. I’m currently tied up at National Geographic in DC helping launch the TEDxDeExtinction event (which, by the way, is an indication that we have no problem with radical scientific ideas per se.)

    I understand why you’re upset at the talk being pulled off Youtube, but we’re quite serious in saying we’re not censoring you. The talk will live here as long it takes for this conversation to work itself out, and perhaps indefinitely. I must say, you’re a compelling speaker and I personally enjoyed the talk quite a bit. I can understand why you and your books have attracted a huge following.

    It would help your cause to let this whole discussion calm down a little. You seem to have whipped your supporters up into a bit of a frenzy. There’s no conspiracy out to get you. We just have certain guidelines for our TEDx events that weren’t fully implemented in this instance, and it’s OK to have a public discussion about that.

    So here’s a suggestion. While I reach out and see if any of our advisors is able to go into more depth in answering your specific questions, perhaps you could help me understand why your work is widely characterized as pseudo-archeology, as in the current version of this wikipedia page.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoarchaeology
    Is that a distorted description of your views? Is mainstream archaeology simply misguided? Or is there some other explanation?

    Do you agree that we should have *some* form of guidelines for our TEDx organizers as to what constitutes credible science, or do you think our approach should be let anyone put anything they want out there and just let the public decide?

    I’m signing off now till Monday, but truly I would value your and your supporters’ help in turning this into a more constructive discussion.

    Thanks, Graham.”

    At this point that news story on ted was flooded(over a thousand) with people who are outraged with both the decision and above reply.

    Graham replies:

    “Chris, your reply is very strange and does no credit to you in your role at the Curator of the TED Conference or to TED as a whole.

    Quite simply the issue is this: TED has defamed me by making a number of accusations against me in this public forum on the TED website – accusations that are highly damaging to my reputation as an author and public speaker. I have asked you to substantiate those allegations which surely should be a matter of the highest priority to you if you have a genuine commitment to science and to truth. Yet instead of doing so you dodge my reasonable request for substantiation by telling me you are attending an event in DC, posing a number of irrelevant questions to me, making a reference to Wikipedia, and asking those you see as my “supporters” to “calm down a little.” This is all sleight of hand. All that is required of you here on the public record is simply to substantiate the grave allegations that TED has made against me in the introductory remarks to this page of the TED blog, or, if you cannot substantiate those allegations then retract them and apologize. Your present tactic allows the allegations to remain in the prominent opening statements to this blog page while you “reach out to see” if any of your advisers are “able to go into more depth” in answering my specific questions and while you yourself “sign off” until Monday.

    (4) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

    Again I would like TED to identify the point in my talk where I state this. Do I not rather say (between 1 min 06 seconds 1 min 54 seconds) that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility — emphasis on POSSIBILITY — which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated, was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art? I can cite a wide range of respectable peer-reviewed scientists who have suggested this possibility and I do not see how reporting their work, which I have every right to do, can be construed as offering “a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs).” Besides is every talk that touches on the origins of culture obliged to consider all possible factors that might be involved in the origins of culture? How could any speaker be expected to do that in one 18-minute talk?

    (5) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.”

    Of what possible relevance is this remark? Many different people have characterised my work in many different ways but at issue here is not what people have said about my work over the years but the actual content of this specific TEDx presentation.

    So there are the damaging and defamatory allegations TED has made against me in its website, and here again is my request that you either substantiate these allegations forthwith, or withdraw them and apologize to me prominently and publicly, allowing no further time to elapse to worsen the harm and damage you have already done.

    Signed Graham Hancock, 15 March 2013, at 09:50 GMT”

    Chris Anderson replies

    “Right now this comment section is over-run by the hordes of supporters sent our way by Graham Hancock”

    Hancock:

    “Graham Hancock wrote:

    Chris, unless I’ve missed something no-one at TED, including yourself, has replied yet to my two posts posing four questions asking TED to substantiate the allegations you have made publicly against my presentations. Answer these questions, with reference to my statements within my presentation and referring us with minutes and seconds to the exact points in my talk that you feel justify your defamatory allegations against me. You are receiving a lot of criticism here and it is patronising and shameful of you to try to write that off as “this comments section is over-run by hordes of supporters sent our way by Graham Hancock.” My “supporters” are small in numbers by comparison with the millions who log on to the TED website, but their comments deserve to be taken as seriously not dismissed in this high-handed way. You want posters to read criticisms of my work but I still await your reply to the four questions I have posed in my two original comments here. Surely, if you have a leg to stand on, then those four questions offer you an excellent opportunity to present criticisms of my work?”

    Not sure where it led later on. Also mind that TED is not about peer-reviewed science. It’s about Ideas Worth Spreading (official slogan). There are plenty of talks on sociology, poetry, art.. One of most popular TED videos is a recount of a mystical experience of a lady having a stroke.

    Reply
  7. drivethruhero

    Eddie Hung exposes what happens behind the scenes @TED:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JhwQ17mLjo

    Reply
    • Doug Zachary

      In the barracks in 1969 Marines experimented with LSD and we soon found ourselves back in the woods or in the farm. We were awakened. We were no longer susceptible to the dominant paradigm(s) that separated us from other living creatures, especially human beings. Many of us have gone on to decades os social justice and ecological work. I was discharged as a Conscientious Objector and today I work for a national peace organization. Psychedelics have the possibility of expanding people’s lives. “Civilization” – as it is called – and patriarchal industrialism could not survive a fully-conscious people.

      Reply
      • although I have absolutely nothing against drugs, it is obvious that they don’t awaken you, hence the term hallucination. Your mind is in a altered state but that doesn’t mean you’re in control. In fact you have never been less in control that being under the effects of a drug. If you need a substance to induce you into a state, that state is temporary hence it’s nothing to do with consciousness. Being awake is to realise you are eternal, there is no self and you are part of the whole. Nothing from outside will ever bring you to that state where live in peace and harmony. Drug induced states are just altered perceptions of what some call reality, or in other words, illusions

        Reply
        • Akasha, have you ever wondered if drugs allow you to forget the day to day conditioning that you are no longer aware of and enable you to see new possibilities, drop the mental shackles and open your mind?

          Reply
        • Larissa

          Akasha… you have clearly not experienced what I have experienced :)

          Reply
        • Rod

          To Akasha…how do you know ‘they don’t awaken you’? Isn’t life all temporary anyways? Isn’t each moment of life temporary? How do you know for a fact that an induced state, like with Ayahuasca, has nothing to do with consciousness? What if it is an expedited process to move you to that place of awakening instead of years of meditation or prayer or whatever process one deems worthy. People for many many years have worked toward, and achieved, the rising kundalini and experienced altered states of realization and awakening. Unless you have undergone the process I suggest you limit your convictions of false wisdom.

          Reply

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