In recent times I have often mentioned the Rupert Sheldrake TEDx video that TED labeled “pseudoscience”, and pulled from YouTube and the main area of their site. So below I present it for those who have not watched it. Decide for yourself if it requires secreting away from the uneducated masses. You’ll notice it is back up on YouTube (where I got the video), but not under the official TEDx channel. Sheldrake gave the talk at a TEDx conference about “Challenging existing paradigms”, and that is exactly what he proceeded to do! In the video you will see Sheldrake questioning ten central “dogmas” of science, and suggesting that they require further thoughtful investigation. For example, he questions the assumptions that consciousness is confined to the brain, that mainstream medicine is the only kind that works, and whether the so-called universal constants are really constants at all. These questions were a little too much for committed skeptics like PZ Meyer and Jerry Coyne, who lobbied TED to take down the video, as well as another talk by Graham Hancock.
I include Hancock’s talk here also, given at the same TEDx conference. His talk – the war on consciousness – is quite a different kettle of fish, and moves well beyond philosophy of science. He talks about the worldview-changing experience of ayahuasca, and how it helped him reflect more deeply on his own life. While I have never taken drugs myself, it seems to me that the insights afforded by ayahuasca are quite similar to that which can be gleaned from years of mindful exploration of the psyche, and from self-induced non-ordinary states of consciousness. The one great caveat that I see is that ayahuasca exposes the individual to the shadow (the hidden and repressed parts of the psyche) in one great blow to the ego, and this could be overwhelming to the person. I have done a lot of shadow work myself, and know just how confronting – and sometimes downright terrifying – the human unconscious can be.