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TED flags UFOs

Ideas Worth Slandering: TED Flags the UFO Topic

Finding the flaws of a society is always easier in retrospect. Nowadays we are rightly shocked by the fact our ancestors took slavery and the subservient role of women for granted, the same way we pity them for believing the Earth was the center of the Cosmos or that ‘bad humors’ ruled human health.

What’s more difficult is trying to discern the things from our own society which will make our future descendants roll their eyes while thinking “how could they possibly have believed in that?” A useful exercise in trying to discern the societal flaws which will probably not withstand the test of time, is taking a hard look at the topics which are currently regarded as ‘taboo’: things which are considered ridiculous, rude, career-destroying or even immoral if it were to be discussed openly with colleagues, or totally inappropriate if brought among decent folks at a formal dinner table –imagine, for example, how your family members would have reacted 30 years ago if you had told them a lot of Catholic priests were pederasts, and that the Church was well aware of it! 

But of course, there’s no better example of a ‘modern taboo’ in the XXIst century than the UFO phenomenon. Just look at the way the TED organization, which is famous for putting together conferences with some of the biggest names in the world of science, business and technology, decided to flag a recently released TEDx Columbus video showing political scientist Alexander Wendt’s talk titled “A Science of UFOs” with this warning:

NOTE FROM TED: We’ve flagged this talk, which was filmed at a TEDx event, because it appears to fall outside TEDx’s content guidelines. Claims made in this talk only represent the speaker’s personal understanding of UFOs which are not corroborated by scientific evidence. TEDx events are independently organized by volunteers.

Perhaps there’s no greater way to prove the point of Wendt’s argument regarding the cultural stigma imposed on UFOs, than to deem his opinion as ‘unscientific’. To further increase the irony is that on my Youtube’s list of suggested videos next to this one, the first choice was another TEDx talk from 2016 with best-selling author Ben Mezrich, in which he discusses the topic of his book The 37th Parallel –namely UFOs, Roswell and cattle mutilations.

If you watch this video directly on YouTube, you’ll notice TED didn’t bother to include a warning similar to the one issued to the more recent video. Why? Is it perhaps because the TED folks thought the opinion of a writer on UFOs wouldn’t have as much weight as that of a college professor like Wendt, who didn’t spend as much time as Mezner cracking jokes, but instead highlighted the seriousness of the topic by showing the Gimbal and Go-Fast Navy videos, while taking his fellow academicians to task for not daring to take a look at the UFO evidence, thus perpetuating the topic surrounding the phenomenon with their reprobable indifference?

As Greg pointed out in Monday’s news briefs, we’ve seen examples of this attitude in the past when TED reacted in a similar way with Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, in which they felt compelled to warn their audience how the ideas proposed by these two thinkers and authors are considered ‘pseudoscientific’. Maybe they should issue similar warnings with this video of physicist Brian Greene discussing String theory, given how to this day there’s no single shred of tangible evidence proving the existence of eleven theoretical dimensions, vibrating all the matter in the Universe into existence. 

As a matter of fact, part of me gets TED’s concerns. For example, as I clicked on the Mezner video on my computer browser, I was immediately submitted to an automatic advertisement of GAIA –whose content and claims about alien mummies are highly questionable. This is the problem we currently have in the age of algorithms specifically programmed to shove you deep into the dark recesses of the rabbit hole, whenever you show the tiniest bit of interest in controversial topics and conspiracy theories.

But that’s the problem when respectable outlets of information leave a gap which is rapidly filled by sensationalists who are only seeking to monetize their click-baits. If you edit out good information on UFOs from Wikipedia and TED, sooner or later uninformed viewers will arrive to Third Phase of Moon (please DON’T look it up) –and those disenfranchised individuals could be easily radicalized into believing any kind of nonsensical idea (QAnon anyone?).

And the worst thing is that the taboo reinforced by TED’s attitude further impedes academicians from openly discussing UFOs with their peers, leaving them with no choice but to only bring up the subject in off-the-record conversations, or while attending private symposia (with no cameras to endanger anyone’s reputation) in places like the Esalen institute; something Dr. Diana Pasulka has mentioned in the pages of her book American Cosmic and during radio interviews. 

But bringing back Alexander Wendt’s talk –which was a bit too ETH-oriented for my personal taste– I found it weird how he seems to dismiss the idea of governments funding unidentified aerial phenomena research despite the US Navy’s admittance that the objects encountered by their pilots are true UFOs, given how we all learned about these videos due to a government-funded UFO research program (AATIP). I also found Wendt’s suggestion that the best next thing to a government-funded study would be a scientific non-profit organization directly crowdfunded by private citizens –is he perhaps thinking of a certain ‘academy of arts and sciences’ founded by a certain rockstar? 

  1. Here is another TEDx video just out that has a warning added.

    The Unusual Earth Orbit Circling Above Our Ancient Past | Roger G. Gilbertson | TEDxColoradoSprings

    NOTE FROM TED: We’ve flagged this talk, which was filmed at a TEDx event, because it appears to fall outside the TEDx content guidelines. Claims made in this talk only represent the speaker’s personal views which are not corroborated by scientific evidence. TEDx events are independently organized by volunteers. The guidelines we give TEDx organizers are described in more detail here:

    When does our future meet our past? How does our scientific knowledge grow and change? A newly recognized type of Earth orbit can travel directly above a great circle formed by some of the oldest and most distinctive ancient human constructions on the surface of the Earth: the Giza pyramids, Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Angkor Wat, Mohenjo-Daro, and many others.

    But is there any connection to all this? What do we need to learn – scientifically – to gain a greater understanding of the links between these sites, and the great changes that happened on our planet 12,800 years ago. Follow the adventures of a science writer and skeptic as he explores extraordinary coincidences, connections, and the evidence linking our modern world to our mysterious past. I like to make up stuff – stories, inventions, visual and auditory experiences. But when it comes to understanding the “real world” I want facts, and the scientific method provides our best way of finding them, and of making sure we are not misled by fantasies, fallacies, or frauds.

    Ever since I first learned about Stonehenge when I was very young, I’ve been fascinated by the mysteries of our ancient human past, and the many unanswered questions. Our scientific toolkit lets us push back the unknown to gain a clearer understanding of where we came from, who we are, and in turn – where we might be going.

    In my years as a writer, inventor, researcher, filmmaker, skeptic, story teller and explainer, I have always tried to keep an open mind about what we do not yet know. I seek the truth wherever it resides, and try to follow wherever it may lead, for the greatest mysteries are often the ones that we are the closest to solving next. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

    1. I’d love to speak to Mr Gilbertson, if anyone knows him, about his talk. I have mixed emotions about UFOs, but I look at the vastness of space, and say, “How not?”, then another decade goes by, with no response to SETI, or anything but a 1,200-foot-long stone cigar that did some very weird things, just as we realized it had just flashed by. It could be “alien technology”, just because of the way it departed our solar system, but it could have been the aerodynamics of the object, as it caught a weird solar flare leaving the solar mass at 2+ million mph. Stranger things have happened, right? UFOs are a convenient catchall, like the “million years ago” used incessantly by geologists and other paleontologists, a way to ignore impertinent data that suggests something “impossible”.

      That word probably pops up often, in the worlds of the various sciences, who all pursue ALL avenues of research within the realms of the particular science’s “conventional wisdom”. Like “millions years ago”, ie, “they don’t talk outside school”. So, we get contradictory theories, ice ages and steady-state nonsense vs the break-up of Pangaea and no-nonsense plate tectonics. As opposed to plate tectonics that happen, but no one knows why, except the kind of thinking that goes with “A long, long, long time ago …”

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