A confession. I had a ticket for the TEDx Bow event on Saturday and I didn't go. I really meant to, it looked brilliant, but I'm trying to finish a book at the moment, had a radio show to produce on the Monday, it was raining, and I got involved playing on the XBox with my kids. That's a good list of excuses.
Profound public apology to the organisers of TEDx Bow for taking a ticket and not turning up. Sorry.
The reason I wanted to go was because of the talk given by Graham Hancock at the TEDx Whitechapel event earlier in the year. Hancock is a great speaker, a passionate man with interesting, if unconventional ideas. I liked his theories about how the Pyramids represent a star map. I found similar evidence that the sphinxes in Richmond Avenue, Barnsbury are also aligned with the Belt of Orion if you scrunch up a fold-out A-Z (that's in my book).
I've always been scared of hallucinogenics so am not tempted to visit the 'mother ayahuasca' that Hancock talks about to access another plain of reality. My preferred method for expanding my consciousness is to head out on a long walk into the Thames Marshes slurping down a couple of cans of Stella. So I wouldn't count myself amongst his supposed 'army of supporters' that the TED blogs mention.
I've also watched some great TEDTalks in previous years - the Happiness one was good. There was a brilliant one about Windowfarms. A strange one where an academic advocated doing a Wonder Woman pose for 2 mins-a-day to improve self-confidence. She had some research to back this up and was so passionate about it that she cried.
But now my faint idealism about TED looks a bit foolish. They've pulled the Graham Hancock talk about tripping from their Youtube channel because it fell foul of their ominous sounding 'scientific' committee. You could have challenged Hancock's presentation for the goddam awful art that people create under the influence of psychedelics - if that's what the parallel universe looks like I'm definitely sticking to the Stella and long walks. But the underlying message of what he is talking about is provocative, positive and progressive. Exactly the values I had assumed TED was sharing.
There was something chilling in the censorial language used in their reasoning for the removal of the video (the one linked above is an 'unofficial' upload). There is a cultish tinge to it and the comments by TED staffers and organisers. Then I found this video of a TED Fellow, Eddie Huang, exposing what goes on at the official big TED events.
There is now a feisty debate raging over on the TED blogs about the whys and wherefores of pulling the Hancock video - it's bloody brilliant, have a look, it's really kicking off.
I've also come across other banned TED Talks like this one called 'Rich People Don't Create Jobs'.
Oh well, it was good while it lasted. I won't be able to watch a TED Talk with the same wide-eyes anymore.
I'm still sorry for not going to TEDx Bow though, it was bad form - forgive me.