TED organizers help sniff out bad science for TEDx

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posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 03:49 PM
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New guidelines help local events identify pseudoscience then keep it off stage.



I had recently watched one of the many "TEDx" productions.... I wondered how such a speech could be allowed to be presented under the TED "brand name" since mainstream marketing and publicity relations doctrine have become part of the TED paradigm.

This particular speaker mentioned the inherent bias in a certain field of study... sharing the speakers views about such things as "organized" and "sponsored" science which discounts that which they cannot explain. The topic is immaterial as many who research topics find at least some interesting rejections of what some believe are legitimate fields of study...

TED apparently found itself in an embarrassing situation recently when a particular presentation was expected in Valencia, Spain. The local scientific community was outraged... the topics?

crystal therapy, Egyptian psychoaromatherapy, healing through the Earth, homeopathy and even "basic mind control"

These topics among others are considered "pseudoscience" and scoffed at by the academic mainstream community (apparently.)

Another honorable mention was the apparent faux pas of letting one researcher discuss her "aquatic ape theory' including explaining the reason it is rejected by the mainstream in her own words.

The question of vetting presenters became central - and to that end - TED leaders published an open letter...

A letter to the tedx community on tedx and bad science

It's peppered with some troublesome statements .. but first: Here is a bullet point list they are using as a guide.


Marks of good science:

  1. It makes claims that can be tested and verified
  2. It has been published in a peer reviewed journal (but beware… there are some dodgy journals out there that seem credible, but aren't.)
  3. It is based on theories that are discussed and argued for by many experts in the field
  4. It is backed up by experiments that have generated enough data to convince other experts of its legitimacy
  5. Its proponents are secure enough to accept areas of doubt and need for further investigation
  6. It does not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge
  7. The proposed speaker works for a university and/or has a phD or other bona fide high level scientific qualification


    Marks of bad science:

    1. Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth
    2. Is not based on experiments that can be reproduced by others
    3. Contains experimental flaws or is based on data that does not convincingly corroborate the experimenter’s theoretical claims
    4. Comes from overconfident fringe experts
    5. Uses over-simplified interpretations of legitimate studies and may combine with imprecise, spiritual or new age vocabulary, to form new, completely untested theories.
    6. Speaks dismissively of mainstream science
    7. Includes some of the red flags listed in the two sections below


Some observations about these generalizations:

1 - "It makes claims that can be tested and verified" - Excellent and agreed, no?

2 - "It has been published in a peer reviewed journal (but beware… there are some dodgy journals out there that seem credible, but aren't.)"

Hmmm... OK... I guess we'll have to trust that the only good science is that which is peer reviewed in a "good" journal... but:

Have you ever seen the retractions from some of the "good" journals? Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications which we discussed in this thread: Fraud in biomed research higher than thought

3 - "It is based on theories that are discussed and argued for by many experts in the field"

Well... it looks like unless it is a package deal with wide-ranging acceptance by unspecified 'experts' in the 'field' it can't be "good" science. So much for discovery from unexpected places, amateur scientists, or the academically-unsanctioned.

4 - "It is backed up by experiments that have generated enough data to convince other experts of its legitimacy

Umm... wouldn't be expected in anything that rises to the above guidelines? This seems superfluous to me.

5 - "Its proponents are secure enough to accept areas of doubt and need for further investigation"

Most people espousing bad science theories fall into some other category? This is more 'candy' for the list... confidence is not the right word or notion for determining sound science... imho.

6 - "It does not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge"

Wow!... I suppose there shall be no blockbuster TED talks which reshape the future of science after all. I bet many dramatic discoveries would fail this test. No paradigm shifts, nothing to remove the stink of mercantilism from the ranks of the talking heads of science.

7 - "The proposed speaker works for a university and/or has a phD or other bona fide high level scientific qualification"

Thank goodness TED wasn't around before the industrial revolution. If the inference is correct, I suspect soon they will amend this last item to ensure that the speaker works for "an accepted" university... (or is a celebrity of the media world.)

I give them credit for trying to keep it legitimate... but they lose that credit and more for being establishment tools who can't face any kind of controversy without wetting themselves.

Now for "bad" science...

A - "Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth"

Oh... scientist now must "campaign" for legitimacy .... (probably unless they come from a certain school, or are popular - these will be simply accepted...)

B - "Is not based on experiments that can be reproduced by others."

Actually, I can accept this. After all, scientists have claimed many things authoritatively... like smoking doesn't cause cancer, heavier than air flight is impossible, it is not humanly possibly to run a 4-minute mile, disciplining your children is "bad" for them, beta blockers and statins keep you from getting heart attacks, vitamins are 'quack' medicine, "junk" DNA. ...

C - "Contains experimental flaws or is based on data that does not convincingly corroborate the experimenter’s theoretical claims"

I wonder why any scientist would even consider 'pretending' the data supports their theory... oh I know.... money. OK - assuming TEDx folks are peer reviewing and qualified to do so... this is OK.

D - "Comes from overconfident fringe experts"

Yeehaw!... there's your 'blank check' for bias... "too confident" .. really? "Fringe" ... is there a list?

E - "Uses over-simplified interpretations of legitimate studies and may combine with imprecise, spiritual or new age vocabulary, to form new, completely untested theories."

You mean like... "Atoms are collections of tiny spinning balls of energy"... or , the internet is like a bunch of pipes and tubes?... Metaphors and simile beware!... that knife cuts both ways!

F - "Speaks dismissively of mainstream science"

Don't you dare criticize the mainstream!!!!

G - "Includes some of the red flags listed in the two sections below"

[cont.]

Author's apology: Sorry I forgot to include the thread that inspired me to write this up... arstechnica.com...
edit on 10-12-2012 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 03:49 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


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?



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 04:12 PM
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Although I agree with the good science signs, some of the bad ones get to me. Most notably A and F. Seriously? That basically prevents new fields of science opening up to the mainstream, or previously shrugged science being properly researched and evaluated. Their building their own grave with those and the GMO red flag is just...is that what Science has come to?



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 04:24 PM
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I often watch TED, since most of the presentations are just 10-15 it's a quick viewing, anyway while I agree that this isn't a " good " act on TED's part, they have little to no choice in the matter.

As mentioned in your OP, the views presented are not " TED's " views...They are that of mainstream science.

Be it wrong or right.

S&F for the work you put into the thread




SS
edit on 043131p://pm3152 by Spike Spiegle because: s&f



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 04:28 PM
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reply to post by mr10k
 


I suppose they are free to filter anyone out they want to. That's OK.

But like you, I was a bit concerned about the lists (as you can see).

The GMO specificity caught me off-guard. Also the mention of the controversy about Autism and vaccination formulations seems over the top... I have yet to hear of anyone who wasn't already inclined to avoid vaccinations "dying" from not having them... and it seems hard case to make consider the negative aspect of the declaration.... but let it not be said that even TED is allowed to harbor it's own bias....

All I care for is that we recognize it... and not 'assume' it's not there.





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