Banned: TEDx talk that made TED break its own Content Guidelines

On the 17th of February 2024, I gave a TEDx talk that according to TED was so Offensive, they applied Heavy Warnings against watching this Talk. They also unlisted the talk so that it would only be viewable if you have a direct link.

TED is clear about its Content Guidelines which I’ve linked here. Through a Decade of Persistence, I made sure that I followed the exact TED blueprint laid out by Chris Anderson himself. So where did I go wrong?

Let’ put these “Content Guidelines” to the Test and you can decide if TED has gone against its own guidelines to steal my moment?!

But before we begin, I highly recommend watching the Full TEDx talk for context, otherwise the rest of this post won’t make any sense:

For the past year, topics surrounding AI have dominated the offical TED YouTube channel. When you look closely however, these talks are like glorified product launches and immune to scientific interrogation. My TEDx talk challenged the very foundation of these ideas with pressing moral and philosophical insights surrounding the rapid advancement of human augmentation technologies.

All talks on TED about AI are unequivocally in agreement since the ones that are not are CENSORED. If you cannot question “The Science” I’m afraid, it is no longer called – Science.

Did TEDx silence my talk to continue the unbridled cultural brainwashing, or is this a cover-up with far-reaching implications for society? As you might suspect, there is more to this madness.

Is this talk Offensive?

Yes. People are outraged! Not towards me or my message but towards TED. When I delivered this talk on stage, the response from the live audience was overwhelmingly positive. So what offended TED?

The Editor for TEDx did take the time to address their concerns which to be fair are genuine and I respect that TED liberally applied some of these standards to talks were clearly out of line, then selectively applies impossible standards to my talk.

TEDx censored my talk on three accounts:

  1. Contradictions with reduction in brain volume.
  2. Unsupported claims about declining IQ.
  3. Oversimplifications of mental health conditions.

Before I address these points, I must emphases that I deliberately used science sparsely throughout this talk, since a deep-dive into each claim within my allocated 13 mins would defeat the premise of a the talk which, after-all was to Question our rapidly Evolving relationship to Technology.

Let’s take a step back and read between the lines of each claim TEDx makes.

1. Homo sapien Evolution is an Exception to the Rule.

There is no dispute amongst scientists that, unlike other hominids, the mean endocranial capacity of H. sapiens has been decreasing as a function of time since the late Pleistocene (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Average brain size (cranial capacity) across members of the genus Homo during the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs.

Rather than an actual research article, TEDx cited an opinion piece by Villmoare and Grabowski (2022)  to challenge this well established hypothesis and chose to ignore Recent and Robust Documentation that demonstrates decrease in brain volume by numerous researchers over the last 90 years.

The reduction in brain volume is not a characteristic of the last 3000-5000 years but is an ongoing trend before modern humans. In my talk I point out that there is a 200ml difference in brain volume between pre-modern H. sapiens and contemporary H. sapiens. How sharply this reduction occurred can be challenged by opinion pieces. However, does it give TEDx the right to cancel this talk entirely? I’ll leave this up to you to decided.

By the way, if “Science” knew all the answers, it would render the quest for knowledge – obsolete. 

2. Reversal of the Flynn Effect.

In 2013, Prof. James Flynn gave a remarkable TEDx talk on why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents. On the surface, this contradicts the decrease in endocranical capacity. If we look deeper, the increase in IQ is a product of access to education with each generation, largely accelerated by technology. This is widely known as the Flynn Effect.

TEDx defends the Flynn effect despite Prof. Flynn himself acknowledging the reversal of this effect in recent years. In his appropriately titled 2018 paper: IQ decline and Piaget: Does the rot start at the top? Prof. Flynn states:

Massive IQ gains over time were never written in the sky as something eternal like the law of gravity. They are subject to every twist and turn of social evolution – Prof. James Flynn.

In this paper, Prof. Flynn notes that latecomers to industrialisation such as S. Korea are gaining IQ at twice the historic US rate. While Scandinavian countries that benefited from high education standards are now confronted with the law of diminishing returns (Table 1).

Table 1. Mental test trends in Scandinavia divided into recent gains and losses (measured in IQ points). I have circled in red the IQ loss projection over a generation (30 years).

From Table 1 above, Finland would lose 7.49 points of overall IQ, Denmark 6.48 points, and Norway 6.50 points for an average of 6.85 points LOST over a Single Generation!

This peer-reviewed research is directly from Prof. James Flynns himself. TEDx deliberately chose to ignore this information and once again selectively applied their “Content Guidelines”.

Recent research published in 2021 titled: Decreases in Brain Size and Encephalization in Anatomically Modern Humans, further reinforces this claim in combination with declining brain volume stating:

A significant decrease in IQ has been noted over the past 30 years in many parts of the globe, with the largest declines occurring across industrialized nations – Jeff Stibel

3. TED’s stance on Mental Health 

In the YouTube description, TEDx declares  – Please do not look to this talk for mental health advice. They did not however, cite any literature supporting their claim.

This is astounding since 20.8% of adults are experiencing mental illness in the US and over half of them will not receiving any treatment. Why would TED even attempt to censor a talk that brings awareness to what might be behind this 🤔

I have professionally invested 15 years of my life to understanding depression, anxiety and trauma. Despite this, I still do not have all the answers. If you listen to my TEDx Talk closely, you will be surprised to realise there is NO mental health advice, recommendations or solutions in it whatsoever. Instead I chose to ask questions that inspire the audience to think of solutions.

To be clear – these are not ideas I came up with overnight. You can see the earliest iterations of my ideas in my Cost of Captivity Talk from 10 years ago!

Despite being rejected for 10 years, I kept formulating my ideas in the hopes that one day I get to stand on the red dot. In 2018, I won the TEDx Sydney Pitch Completion in the Sydney Opera House. However, I wasn’t selected for the Main Event 💔

In 2022, I was invited by TEDx Sydney to speak under their TEDx Business License. Since this was a paid event, my talk was not eligible for submission to the TEDx YouTube Channel 💔 💔

So, you can imagine how overjoyed I was to officially receive an invitation from TEDx Burleigh Heads. For this talk alone, I researched hundreds of articles and went over 40 revisions, until I was finally happy with an Idea, Worth Spreading.

In return, TEDx thought it was a Great Idea to ban a speaker who spent a decade perfecting their talk. This makes it all the more heartbreaking 💔 💔 💔

What this means to you as a Speaker is that even if you put your heart and soul into creating the best talk possible, TED can make up a reason and simply say – you don’t meet “Content Guidelines” and you become disposable as a speaker, with absolutely no say in the matter.

Why would speakers bother investing 8-12 months of Honest, Unpaid Work only to be Penalised for their Goodwill?

I have no right to be a Speaker, if I’m not afraid to share my thoughts. Otherwise what’s the point standing on the RED DOT only to share a sterilised message delivered without passion?

This passion may be seen as a point of contention in statements like: Medication is the answer only when we fail to ask the right question.

I do admit, if viewed in isolation, this statement can seem objectionable.

In the context of this talk however, I trust that people are sensible enough to understand what I mean.

Let’s break this down for TEDx who choose NOT to understand.

In the inception of Psychiatry, Sigmund Freud deliberately communicated to Carl Jung to excluded all elements of mysticism in order to fabricate psychotherapy as a legitimate “science”. Psychiatry came to heavily rely on brute force statistics to remain relevant.

Mental illness itself isn’t a fallacy – how we treat it is – Dr. Kaushik Ram

It is no coincidence that textbook psychiatry has no concept of love, intuition, instinct or the human soul.

How can this be, when we all know heartbreak and we all know what it feels like to be held tight. But the world doesn’t have time for this because it cannot be operationalised and therefore is not part of the healthcare Standard Operating Procedures.

Let me ask you – will medication bring your soul back?

It is clear that Medication provides a moderate level of benefit. Anyone who has been Truely Transformed by mental illness knows of shear will, strength of character, focus and humility that no medication can ever provide.

At the every heart of my TEDx Talk, this is what I am communicating when I talk about instinct.

We have lost touch with our gut instinct. There is a reason why we sat around Fire to share a meal together. We have taken something so ancient and transformed the warmth of Fire to being helplessly programmed, while being glued to a screen consuming food that has been delivered to our doorstep.

We have lost touch with our Parental instincts, actively normalising interactions with digital companions. These algorithms don’t provide nearly as much information to role model a real person and creates underdeveloped personalities due to the lack of formative information for the brain to mature in its development.

We have lost touch with our survival instincts as we struggle to win our daily bread and fail to realise how beautiful life really is.

It is this Appreciation for Life that I tried to communicate with my Cave Life. When I lived in the Cave, I did not ever feel like I was missing out on anything. In fact it was quit the contrary – it was when I returned to city that I felt a sense of Great Loss. This is why I mention that my time in the Cave was: The Height of my Human Experience.

Meanwhile, we glorify the evolution of an artificial mind – the next big explosion of intelligence since the Homo sapiens, when in reality this fake immortality is simply a digital ghost – a soul trapped within machine.

By silencing these discussions, we risk overlooking critical issues that have far-reaching implications for what it means to be Human.

It deeply saddens me when I think that we may be the last generation of truly biological Homo sapiens.

Why is TED so deeply offended by this message that they would go out of their way to not only cancel this talk but apply heavy warnings and assert these Ideas to be Offensive and Objectionable?

The Dark Reality that TED is preemptively Covering Up.

Until now, performance enhancements have been within the limits of biological potential (e.g contact lens). High-end Augmentation extends this to new abilities (e.g. gene edited night vision) and is likely to focus on what is more lucrative than what is of benefit to humanity, with the potential to fundamentally change the nature of human existence.

We already exist in cross dimensional reality with Apple Vision Pro VR/AR passthrough. In the race to the bottom of the brainstem: brain and body will be atrophied and simultaneously augmented, for us to keep up with Machine.

What we  are witnessing a Catastrophe in Progress: where machine-made decisions necessary to keep the system running will become so complex that it will go beyond the ability of what unassisted human beings are capable of.

The incremental pace of technological change will be so rapid and its impact so insurmountable that human life will be irreversibly transformed – Joe Allen 

By CENSORING this talk, TED has made it very clear which side of humanity they stand on and how insane and disconnect this world has become. 

Now that I have addressed the claims TEDx had against this talk, do you think it warrants a complete censorship of this talk or is there more to this than TEDx is willing to admit?

If you have a love for HUMANKIND, please share this TEDx Talk as widely as possible, with the hope that with enough visibility TEDx will do the right thing and remove the appalling CENSORSHIP.

The Future is not certain but Right Now we have the opportunity to create one where our Freedoms are Nonnegotiable.  

References (in order of mention):

TED Content Guidelines – https://storage.ted.com/tedx/manuals/tedx_content_guidelines.pdf 

DeSilva et. al (2023) Human brains have shrunk: the questions are when and why – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2023.1191274/full 

Villmoare and Grabowski (2022) Did the transition to complex societies in the Holocene drive a reduction in brain size? A reassessment of the DeSilva et al. (2021) hypothesis – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2022.963568/full

Flynn (2018) IQ decline and Piaget: Does the rot start at the top? – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0160289617302787 

Stibel (2021)  Decreases in Brain Size and Encephalization in Anatomically Modern Humans – https://karger.com/bbe/article/96/2/64/821534/Decreases-in-Brain-Size-and-Encephalization-in

Mental Health America – https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america

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