To start, full disclosure: The writer works for the TEDx Brussels organisation and is not a scientist. This article should be seen within the context of journalism, opinion or as simply joining and extending the conversation.
Technology, entertainment and design. That's what TED stands for and that's what we at TEDx Brussels believe in. Our event last Monday at Bozar Brussels was attended by more than 1000 people and featured over 20 speakers on such varying themes as interstellar space flight, international aid, child psychology and driverless cars. Plus we had a live rapper and the most amazing fashion show.
Tucked between two fascinating talks about resource extraction in Africa from Paul Collier and a brain/computer interface helmet from Tan Le was avowed new ager Lynne McTaggart. It seems her presence at TEDx Brussels has been questioned in some quarters.
The charge is that her brand of science is not valid, has no place within the TED umbrella and risks compromising and diluting the TED brand. All this in the week in which global power has collaborated to silence Wikileaks.
You may well be in disagreement with her admittedly unusual ideas and sure they're not exactly peer reviewed. They certainly don't fit into accepted structures and institutions of academic science but we defiantly reserve the right to invite her to explain them live in the capital of Europe. Her talk might be all the confirmation you need to dismiss her, on the other hand there might be something in there you can engage with and apply to your life.
People forget that there is science and fiction, and even science fiction. And people also forget that even science is just made up of stories that tell more about who we are than what we are. You should have heard the talks about hyperdrive space travel or quantum biology if you think McTaggart's got the exclusive on weird and dangerous ideas.
Let's not leave out entertainment, and indeed there is much historical precedent for the crossover between psychics and parapsychology for example and popular culture. This continues of course on todays' and tomorrows' TV schedules. Despite the large number of technologists, scientists and futurologists present at TEDx Brussels, they all participated in the experiment, all closed their eyes and linked hands with their neighbours. They were relaxed and enjoyed the moment. It was entertaining.
It seems almost churlish to point out that science has its own chequered history in terms of acceptance. The list is very long. People thought Tesla was crazy to think wireless electricity was possible, ran him out of town and destroyed his lab, now it seems he might have been on to something.
McTaggart's predominant message is about unity and the existence of parapsychological effects, she ties these in with physics and quantum biology and she's certainly not the only one doing so. The fact is that there have always been people approaching orthodox medicine from alternative viewpoints from crystal therapy to homeopathy. Take them with a pinch of salt or embrace them, it's up to you, but we think presenting challenging ideas and unusual thinking is exactly what TED is all about.