by John Timmer - Dec 9, 2012
New guidelines help local events identify pseudoscience then keep it off stage.
The organization behind the TED talks took what might have been an embarrassing bit of publicity and turned it into an opportunity to define what constitutes decent scientific information. Although TED is most famous for organizing two sets of talks each year, it has branched out into licensing local affiliates that host smaller events. Many of these pick up on the main program's themes of tracking developments in science, technology, and medicine.
Unfortunately, the TEDx events don't always have access to the same competencies TED proper does. This has sporadically resulted in problems with speakers too far outside the mainstream. Take a case in Valencia, Spain
for example, where things like crystal therapy and homeopathy ended up being promoted by speakers. That, in turn, led to a Reddit
thread highlighting the problem.
Rather than pretending it never happened, TED's editorial staff got together and put down some guidelines
for TEDx organizers. The new guidelines don't draw a sharp line between science and everything else (partly because there's no consensus on how to do so), but they do highlight a lot of the warning signs to determine if a potential speaker's focus might not be on solid ground.
Emily McManus, one of the TED editors who helped to put the guidelines together, told Ars "this letter wasn't about TED laying the science smackdown on TEDx," but rather an attempt to "give the TEDx community some tools to make better decisions when they curate."http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/12/ted-organizers-help-sniff-out-bad-science-for-tedx/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+All+content%29