The TED Controversy Continues

April 12, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Events, Internet, Media, Science | 2 Comments

A year ago, I summarised some of the events that had occurred as a result of 2 controversial talks at a TEDx event in England.

As the site Science Set Free illustrates, the controversy didn’t die off. (scroll down their page for the background) 251 PhDs and MDs have signed a petition that was recently delivered to TED, expanding on the original 16. There is also a petition still underway. They held a public rebuttal, though it looks  more like a press conference for the petition.

This article also came out, with more details about the West Hollywood event they pulled the plug on, 2 weeks before it was due to go. As the event was largely intact, they decided to go ahead anyway but Livestream inexplicably pulled the plug on them too. TED seems the only explanation. That created a rather large price tag for the shows producer. Reimbursement or support seems dubious at this stage of the game but it’s disturbing the apparent lack of integrity on TED’s part. As Science Set Free notes, TED “has become the central hub of cutting edge social and scientific thought internationally“. That’s disturbing if they’re being driven by radical atheists. Ironically their behaviour reinforces Sheldrake’s points.

The other TEDx event I’m aware of that lost TED support also went ahead, with a little more warning. Hosted by a small university, their original line-up had only one speaker mentioning the word “consciousness” in their talk title but there was a human potential theme. Ironically, that speaker was Kilby-award winning physicist John Hagelin who had spoken at TEDxWomen a few months prior. That talk is still present in the TED channel. The theme of that event? Fact & Faith.

Amusingly, the university conference is now being presented on-line under the banner “Consciousness Talks“. They set up a web site for it and have been gradually posting videos from that event this year. I posted an article on one of them by Dr. Pam Peeke: Hacked by a Cupcake, on Food and Addiction. One that should be on TED. I look forward to others.

Promotion via Fakery

March 6, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Posted in Events, Hardware, Humor, Internet, Media, Science, Strange, Technology, Transportation | Leave a comment

A weird episode in Internet “marketing” this week. A real company, HUVr Tech, seeking funding  sought buzz. First, they faked up a Promo video for Hoverboards, complete with the famous and Back to the Future references. Note the 0 noise and that the video is named “belief” (on their web site). They apparently used the Back to the Future wire harness.

Second, an “apology” by Christopher Lloyd. He was tricked??   Then, one from Tony Hawk, the famed skateboarder. Wired comments.

Fake promotions and fake apologies? Lame. Pranks are funny only if you include the punchline. Has their home page been updated to reflect this? Nope. This is what they think of their possible customers?

The Ultimate Mindbomb

January 23, 2014 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Events, History, Internet, Media, Movies | Leave a comment

At a TEDx talk in Victoria, Ian MacKenzie explores the history of the mask that came to be used by Anonymous, then the Occupy movement. Then he looks at the Occupy movement itself. Then how to Occupy the Noosphere with Memes via Mindbombs.

What is the ultimate Mindbomb we could release?

Ian MacKenzie

Ian was also involved in Velcrow Ripper’s film, Occupy Love. While not as far reaching as the 2 previous films in his trilogy, it does better explain the Occupy phenomena than anything else I’ve seen.


September 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Posted in Events, Media, Music | 1 Comment

In case you are unaware, tomorrow is the UN International Day of Peace. There are events happening all over the world. Some are being live-streamed here in a 24 hour schedule. (PDF)

They ask: Who will You make peace with?

If you’re in the Vancouver, BC area, there is a free concert and the 2nd annual attempt at the world’s largest human peace sign. The Mayor has officially proclaimed it “Kindness Day.” (The local theme)

One of the performers, Ranj Singh, an Indo-folk-rock musician and fav of mine, did this related song.
Peace, Ranj Singh:

(That’s the seawall in Stanley Park)

Another fav, Denise Hagan will be there. Plus a number of other musicians I really enjoy. Not to mention Brock Tully himself.

Here’s my fav Ranj song, Fly Away, performed by the river. It’s with his former band, The Discriminators. The sound is not as good but its a great song. This version has a slow build:

Just remember – Peace begins within.

How Smart is a Smart Phone?

April 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Computers, Economoney, Events, Space, Technology | 1 Comment

Smart phones are so much more than just phones. They are net connected, with thousands of applications available. We may balk at the cash price for some modern units. But the value? A recent application suggests most phones are capable of much more than we might think. Although it does go rather outside expected use and specs and undoubtedly voids the warranty.

NASA has launched 3 satellites run by smart phones. In fact, each made mostly from a smart phone. These “phonesats” are expected to be the cheapest satellites ever launched, using off-the-shelf products – in this case Nexus One phones running Android. Their mission – to see if smart phones can be used to successfully run a satellite in space. They’re also going to try to use the built-in cameras to take pictures of earth. And of course, they have built-in GPS. So far they’re operating normally.

They did have to add a larger battery pack and a powerful radio. The result is about 4″ square. And no – you can’t call or text them. A little out of your calling zone.

Combine this with low-cost rockets to launch and the satellite game changes completely.

the project site

The TED Controversy

April 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Events, Internet, Media, Online services, Science | 6 Comments

An interesting debate has arisen around the way TED determines what talks they consider acceptable. While they will happily host a talk on life purpose or on a writer’s muse, they have characterized some neuroscience research as “a bunch of goofballs.” Given that this was in response to pulling 2 talks, it suggests their attitude about same. Also on their no-no list, the medicinal value of food.

Notably, Rupert Sheldrake’s pulled talk was on the Delusions of Science. As one contributor (3rd letter below) observed, “The materialist worldview is a belief system based on ten core beliefs. Many people call this worldview science. The method of science and the worldview of materialism are actually two different things.” This is where it becomes troublesome – when a scientist fails to differentiate between their beliefs and science, they introduce non-objective bias.

It was also noted by several that paradigm-busting is how science progresses. New research must meet with skepticism and be tested but some have made skepticism a trademark, another fundamentalism. Richard Dawkins has famously called himself a “militant atheist”.

The sequence to date:
After a few complaints, Sheldrake and Hancock’s TEDx talks are pulled from the main channel. Vocal objections caused them to repost the clips on the TED blog as a discussion point. However, the talks were misrepresented and TED was obliged to retract some statements.

Further TED articles on the subject:
A Fresh Take, Debate on Sheldrake, Debate on Hancock.

They then pulled the TEDx branding from a West Hollywood event, who decided to go ahead anyway.
I’m also aware of another event in IA that similarly lost it’s TEDx designation for being subtitled “Consciousness and Transformation.” They also went ahead. Some of the talks sounded excellent and only one mentioned consciousness, by a Kilby award-winning physicist.

1 – On April 18, Deepak Chopra and 5 other scientists responded in an open letter. Not real well written but it made some valid points.

2 – The next day, TED responded. They fairly indicate they have to draw a line somewhere. And it’s not always clear. But their attitude and name-calling is not serving anyone.

3 – Later that day a letter from Chopra and some 15 other scientists, each contributing a segment. Some of these comments are excellent. “Censorship almost always arises from some political agenda.” “A robust science of consciousness threatens no one but dogmatists.” And so forth.

Personally, I don’t have a high regard for using drugs to induce altered states of reality. This may bring brief but typically distorted expanded perception. But it doesn’t help real development and won’t give reliable insight. And it can cause serious after-effects. From people I’ve talked to that have done it, it pollutes the finer nervous system. As such I’m not a fan of Hancock. But does the talk deserve “semi-censorship?” Debate certainly.

On the other hand, I’ve read some of Sheldrake’s work and heard a talk he gave on how laws of nature evolve. As the contributors comment, some of his work is excellent research.  Some of his books are used as university textbooks. But his talk did directly but gently confront science vs worldview.

Another question I’ve not noticed raised. TED suggested they can’t vet all the videos from TEDx events but I have to wonder how they determine what they do post. Their YouTube channel currently has 1,375 videos. Given there has been thousands of TEDx events, that is but a fraction. Chopra notes that Dawkins talk is posted but his rebuttal is not.

When I was getting my grad degree, we spent a little time exploring the difference between science, pseudo-science, and proto-science. The last uses the scientific method to explore new paradigms but is not yet established as a science. Pseudo, on the other hand, talks science but does not use proper methodology. Thus calling another scientists work pseudo-science is high insult. I would suggest proto-science is where Sheldrake and other contributors are working, especially around subjects like consciousness. Some people seem to be forgetting that.

Best of the Season!

December 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Events, Internet, Media | 2 Comments

As the new year rises from the long night of the past, I thought I’d share this story, in case you hadn’t heard it on this side of the ocean. A Love Story @ TED talks? How a graphic designers idea caught on and spread around the world.

Iranians, We Love You

The web site:

Google Image search many more examples of the responses.


April 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Events, Humor, Media | 1 Comment

To quote Monty Python, and now for something completely different…
In the style of using Youtube clips to communicate, here is my response to some friendly chiding.

Vancouver Ad

Vancouver Yoga

A flash mob that launched a 10 day party (during the Olympics)

And to be honest, Vancouver stereotypes that are true:

And yes, we wear socks with sandals. I like Tevas.

Storefront Wow

October 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Events, Media, Technology | Leave a comment

For a promotion, LG did a 3D mapping of a building facade in Berlin, then made the building come alive. Beautiful work.

No Demand is Big Enough

October 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Economoney, Events | Leave a comment

If you’re trying to get a sense of “Occupy Wall Street”, you’re unlikely to get it from mainstream media. The protesters are expressing “messy” consensus democracy and don’t yet have a common voice or message. Yet what they’re doing is motivating many others around the world to do the same. What’s with that?

This article is a thoughtful consideration of what’s going on, what is driving it, and what they see as possible outcomes. It will certainly be interesting to see how it plays out.

No Demand is Big Enough

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