Red Flag topics
Now ... even TED would not be so bold as to "ban" topics ... how could it remain free from criticism?
These are not “banned” topics by any means — but they are topics that tend to attract pseudo-scientists. If your speaker proposes a topic like this, use extra scrutiny.
Food science, including:
GMO food and anti-GMO foodists
Food as medicine, especially to treat a specific condition: Autism and ADHD, especially causes of and cures for autism
Apparently it has become a defacto reality that nutritional approaches to health are likely 'pseudoscience.' To me the connection they have drawn between this and GMO makes an implication which is hard to ignore.... apparently we can't have questions, challenges, and contradictions in these areas... not in TED talks...
Other points on the list
“Healing,” including reiki, energy fields, alternative health and placebos, crystals, pyramid power
“Free energy” and perpetual motion machines, alchemy, time travel
The neuroscience of [fill in the blank] — not saying this will all be non-legitimate, but that it’s a field where a lot of goofballs are right now
The fusion of science and spirituality. Be especially careful of anyone trying to prove the validity of their religious beliefs and practices by using science
Then there's the "Behavior" signs of charlatanry:
Barrages you with piles of unrelated, over-general backup material, attempting to bury you in data they think you won’t have time to read
Holds a nonstandard degree. For instance, if the physics-related speaker has a degree in engineering, not physics; if the medical researcher does not have an M.D. or Ph.D.; if the affiliated university does not have a solid reputation. This is not snobbery; if a scientist truly wishes to make an advance in their chosen field, they’ll make an effort to engage with other scholars
Claims to have knowledge no one else has
Sends information only from websites they created themselves; there is little or no comment on them in mainstream science publications or even on Wikipedia
Provides data that takes the form of anecdotes, testimonials and/or studies of only one person
Sells a product, supplement, plan or service related to their proposed talk — this is a BIG RED FLAG
Acts oddly persistent about getting to your stage. A normal person who is rejected for the TEDx stage will be sad and usually withdraw from you. A hoaxer, especially one who sees a financial upside to being associated with TEDx, will persist, sometimes working to influence members of your team one by one or through alternative channels
Accuses you of endangering their freedom of speech. (Shutting down a bogus speaker is in no way endangering their freedom of speech. They’re still free to speak wherever they can find a platform. You are equally free not to lend them the TEDx platform.)
Demands that TEDx present “both sides of an issue” when one side is not backed by science or data. This comes up around topics such as creationism, anti-vaccination and alternative health
Acts upset or hurt that you are checking them out or doubting them
Accuses you of suppressing them because TED and TEDx is biased against them and run by rich liberals
Threatens to publicly embarrass TED and TEDx for suppressing them. (The exact opposite will happen.)
I couldn't help but giggle, as we here at ATS have intimate knowledge with a lot of these kinds of people... and yet we remain ignorance-free enough to avoid falling for scams from hoaxters and such... but I suppose the TED audiences are conditioned to be a bit more naive and trusting, eh?
Apology: I love the TED talks in general; even the TEDx talks are often very interesting.... but I trust only myself to determine that which is and is not ludicrous, academic snobbery, elitism in science, or downright nonsense.... And even when a beloved celebrity science or media speaker makes claims... I look it up.. I discuss it with ATS members... I am confident you do too.... so this really is just another gatekeeper exercise... since apparently that particular community wants people to think that all science is rock solid ...
....cosmology and quantum physics anyone?