Graham Hancock – The War on Consciousness – Removed TED talk

Graham Hancock – The War on Consciousness – Removed TED talk

Graham Hancock (born 2 August 1950) is a British writer and journalist. His books have sold more than five million copies worldwide and have been translated into 27 languages.

His public lectures, radio and TV appearances, including two major TV series for Channel 4 in the UK and The Learning Channel in the US – Quest For The Lost Civilisation and Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age – have put his ideas before audiences of tens of millions.

He sees himself as a journalist who asks questions based upon observation and as someone who provides a counterbalance to what he perceives as the “unquestioned” acceptance and support given to orthodox views by the education system, the media, and by society at large. Prior to 1990 his works dealt mainly with problems of economic and social development. Since 1990 his works have focused mainly on the possible connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena. He has become recognized as an unconventional thinker who raises controversial questions about humanity’s past.

One of the many recurring themes in several of Graham Hancock’s works has been an exposition on the “Orion correlation theory” (or OCT), first put forward by Belgian writer Robert Bauval and then further expounded in collaborative works with Hancock, as well as in their separate publications.

While researching Supernatural, Graham Hancock traveled to the Amazon to drink visionary brew Ayahuasca – the Vine of Souls – used by shamans for more than 4000 years. It was his experiences with the vine lead to his latest work, Entangled. Written with the same page-turning appeal that has made his non-fiction so popular Entangled is his first novel. It tells the story of a supernatural battle of good against evil fought out across the dimension of time on the human plane.

At TEDxWhitechapel on January 13, 2013, Graham Hancock gave a passionately argued talk in which he described the transformative impact that ayahuasca (containing the drug DMT) had had on him and argued that responsible adult usage of such drugs was a fundamental right. The talk was viewed more than 130,000 times on YouTube.

But, TED has decided to censor Graham Hancock and remove this video from the TEDx youtube channel.

This is Graham Hancock response:

(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.”

The only passage I can find in my presentation that has any relevance at all to this allegation is between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds. But nowhere in that passage or anywhere else in my presentation do I make the suggestion you attribute to me in your allegation, namely that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

Rather I address the mystery of life after death and state that “if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are a materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all.” That statement cannot possibly be construed as my suggesting that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness,” or of “misrepresenting” what materialist, reductionist scientists actually think.

I am simply stating the fact, surely not controversial, that materialist, reductionist scientists have nothing to say on the matter of life after death because their paradigm does not allow them to believe in the possibility of life after death; they believe rather that nothing follows death.

Here is the full transcript of what I say in my presentation between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds:

What is death? Our materialist science reduces everything to matter. Materialist science in the West says that we are just meat, we’re just our bodies, so when the brain is dead that’s the end of consciousness. There is no life after death. There is no soul. We just rot and are gone. But actually, any honest scientist should admit that consciousness is the greatest mystery of science and that we don’t know exactly how it works.

The brain’s involved in it in some way, but we’re not sure how. Could be that the brain generates consciousness the way a generator makes electricity. If you hold to that paradigm then, of course, you can’t believe in life after death. When the generator’s broken consciousness is gone. But it’s equally possible that the relationship – and nothing in neuroscience rules it out – that the relationship is more like the relationship of the TV signal to the TV set and in that case when the TV set is broken of course the TV signal continues and this is the paradigm of all spiritual traditions – that we are immortal souls, temporarily incarnated in these physical forms to learn and to grow and to develop.

And really if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are a materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all. Let’s go rather to the ancient Egyptians who put their best minds to work for three thousand years on the problem of death and on the problem of how we should live our lives to prepare for what we will confront after death…”

(2) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both nonscientific and reckless.”

I profoundly disagree. In my presentation, I speak honestly and openly about my own damaging and destructive 24-year cannabis habit and about how experiences under the influence of Ayahuasca were the key to breaking this habit. I also say ( 3 min 46 seconds to 3 min 50 seconds) that “I don’t think any of the psychedelics should be used for recreation.”

(3) 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.”

Nowhere in my talk do I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is “essential” for an “emergence into consciousness.” Nowhere in my talk do I state that “one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

(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.

I refute this. What I say (between 1 min 06 seconds and 1 min 54 seconds) is 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.

(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 characterized 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.

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