A stonemason by trade, Vieira has been studying ancient sites for over 20 years and back in 2012, he delivered a TEDx talk for Shelburne Falls discussing his research and what he had found.
Vieira spends the last half of his talk on one of the more interesting pieces of his research: reports and documents indicating frequent discoveries of giant human remains in ancient burial sites and mounds. It was this topic that became the focus of 2014 series, Search for The Lost Giants, on the History Channel.
What’s spectacular about Vieira’s TEDx talk is that shortly after it was published, TED pulled the video stating that it was based on a ‘debunked popular hoax from the early 1900s and promotes a well-known and widely discredited fringe theory’.
The statement then made several pinpoints at certain marks in the video where Vieira made statements that were considered to be ‘unsubstantiated claims’. The full statement and letter sent to him can be found here.
Banned TED Talks Are Pretty Rare
It’s rare for TED to pull a previously published talk and although you can still find it in other places on the Internet, the TED official YouTube channel has marked the original video as private effectively making it inaccessible. You can watch the full talk below (until it gets removed again):
Now before I go any further, it’s important to clarify that I am not sold on the theory that a race of giant humanoids once lived in the Americas before or alongside the native Americans that we’re historically familiar with.
I feel it’s much more likely that gigantism could simply have been more common in the peoples of ancient America and those born with the condition likely would have been highly revered by the people of the time. This would explain burial mounds & tombs giant skeletons reportedly were found in.
Even in modern times, people of unusual stature tend to be revered in some way. In India, people who have gigantism to this very day are practically worshipped as if they have been divinely touched. That being said, considering that every few years archaeologists and anthropologists discover yet another previously unknown humanoid species from our evolutionary family tree, I’m open to the idea that nothing is out of the realm of possibility.
My real focus in this post is about the decision by TED to remove Vieira’s presentation and how it ultimately affects their credibility and his.
Banning the Talk May Have Actually Made it More Believable
One of Vieira’s key claims is that the general scientific community along with museums, specifically The Smithsonian Institute, have worked to keep the existence of giants in ancient America out of the history books. He cites scientific status quo, religious conflicts, and political reasons as driving factors behind a conspiracy to keep this information hidden from the public.
Though conspiracy theories are generally weak at best, there are plenty of examples in human history where these types of cover-ups have happened. Scientific discoveries haven’t always been welcomed with open arms especially when they challenge the accepted ideas of the day.
In the 16th-19th centuries, native Americans were branded as savages in an attempt to dehumanize them and justify the expansion of settlement and murder of native peoples. If the public knew how deep and rich the native American culture had been, they would have been less likely to support their own government’s slaughter and theft of their lands.
Given that one of Vieira’s key claims is that evidence of giants having existed has been and remains actively suppressed, TEDs action of removing the talk plays right into the theory. As an organization that frequently hosts talks based on science and history (among other topics), it’s conceivable that TED has a close relationship with museums like The Smithsonian Institute and could be possibly influenced by them.
If there was a grain of truth to the idea that The Smithsonian Institute has fought to keep this information secret, then there’s no reason to think that once they got wind of a TEDx talk like this one they would have demanded it be taken down and discredited.
The talk being pulled is exactly one would expect to happen if there was a conspiracy, which lends credibility to Vieira.
Why Was Jim Vieira’s TED Talk Banned?
In the letter sent to Jim Vieira by Stacy Kontrabecki (Curator, TEDxShelburneFalls), she explains her reasons for removing his talk from the TED YouTube channel. I’ve read this letter a few times and have come to the conclusion that much of it is a matter of stated opinions without facts or evidence to back them up – the very same claim made by TED about Vieira’s theories that justify its removal. The following quotes are taken directly from the letter:
TED’s fact check found that your talk is based on a debunked popular hoax from the early 1900s and promotes a well-known and widely discredited fringe theory…
This is akin to saying, “everybody already knows that’s not true” and then ignoring any evidence to the contrary simply because it goes against popular opinion. Everybody used to know that the world was flat. Everybody used to know that the sun rotated around the earth. Everybody used to know that eating eggs was good for you, then in the late 60’s everybody knew eggs were bad for you, and now today everybody knows they’re good for you again.
The truth doesn’t care what other people think, so this argument from Ms. Kontrabecki falls flat – and it’s at the top of the letter, it’s the main foundation for which all other critiques stem from.
TED/TEDx is not a platform that allows unsubstantiated claims to be put forward as science.
First of all, Vieira doesn’t claim his research to be science as much as he claims it to be archaeology. He’s digging up old stuff about people and civilizations and I’m pretty sure that qualifies as archaeology.
Second, the idea that TED doesn’t allow unsubstantiated claims is ludicrous. I’ve seen dozens of TED talks and they’re wrought with unsubstantiated claims, opinions, and ideas.
Jane Goodall did a TED talk on the superhumanity of primates which was basically a 100% opinion piece. Jason Fried did a talk on why work doesn’t get done at the office which presented a business philosophy with zero backing evidence.
In fact, you can find unsubstantiated claims in almost every single TED talk in existence.
In 2007 I was a visiting scientist at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center […] there is no conspiracy to cover up or hide Native American giant skeletons or artifacts.
If there is/was a conspiracy at the Smithsonian, it’s unlikely that a visiting scientist would be let in on the party. For Ms. Kontrabecki to expect that she would be shown every single thing at the Smithsonian is quite pompous actually.
At its core, this statement shows part of what might be the mindset of Kontrabecki and others like her at TED: Jim Vieira, with his stonemason background and no schooling, is not a real archaeologist or scientist or researcher – he is beneath them and therefore cannot be taken seriously regardless of the evidence he puts forward.
The rest of the letter outlines specific things that Vieira says during his talk which is all said to be false while providing zero proof that his statements are false or refuting them with an unrelated statement. Many of the statements highlighted were figures of speech or aside comments that weren’t relevant to the material and theory being presented. A few of those are:
At 2:03 – You claim: “These structures are so staggering that people don’t even think they exist still.” In fact, there is a general archeological consensus about the impressive civilization demonstrated by the mound builders in Cahokia and similar sites.
At 4:03 – You claim: “The moundbuilders who built all kinds of structures.” All evidence for the moundbuilders’ architecture suggests that they built with sod packets and wood.
At 9:15 – You share newspaper clippings from the 19th century, including quotes from Abraham Lincoln, and claim they are evidence of giants. In fact, as one of our experts writes, “Skeletal hoaxes were common in the 19th century. […] If the 8-foot skeleton is real, it could be a case of medical gigantism, but it is more likely a case of exaggeration.”
The first 2 are clearly just figures of speech that he was using which Ms. Kontrabecki didn’t understand. Vieira is not an academic and as a result, isn’t the most eloquent speaker on stage.
The 3rd example in this list is another attempt at discrediting Vieira’s real evidence without providing evidence of the discrediting argument. If the newspaper articles are a hoax, explain how the ones he showed were proven to be a hoax at some point in the past. Just because there’s another explanation doesn’t automatically make him wrong.
Jim Vieira’s Search for Lost Giants
It’s important to note that Vieira has cataloged over 1000 historical published documents supporting the discoveries of giant skeletons by many different authorities. To assume they were all in on the hoax is more of a conspiracy theory than thinking that the Smithsonian was trying to keep the information hidden.
The point to be made here is that if TED went through Jim Vieira’s talk and this was all they could come up with for reasons to pull and censor it, doesn’t it kinda look like just maybe they were forced to do this and were grasping at straws to justify it to the public who undoubtedly was extremely interested in learning more about the topic?
As one Redditor put it, “Really, all you’re doing is making the video much more famous and in demand while impugning your own credibility”.
So Were There Really Giants in North America?
As I mentioned earlier, while being open-minded, I’m not sold on the idea. I believe it could be possible; there are mentions in ancient texts and stories of giant humans going back as far as writing itself. The Bible mentions large humanoids called Nephilim and ancient Greeks wrote of the Titans.
If tomorrow archaeologists found a 15-foot tall humanoid skeleton someone in North America, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.
Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He's also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover band, Liquifaction.
14 thoughts on “Banned TED Talks Grant Unexpected Credibility for Jim Vieira | Search for The Lost Giants”
My $0.02 based on lots of reading.
As homes were being built across the Midwest, many burial mounds were disturbed and many giant boned people were found. Local newspapers reported on these finds widely.
A public-private institution was created and its first scientific project was to send out agents across the country, collect all these bones, bring them back to Washington to be examined and tell us all the story.
The director of the org was fired, and a new guy took over. When the journalists at his first press conference asked him, well, what’s up with the giant bones? He answered, deadpan, what bones? No idea what you are talking about.
That’s the Smithsonian.
That wouldn’t surprise me. I doubt there are any solid records that say what happened for certain as far as any potential cover up is concerned. With the number of eyewitness accounts and newspaper articles, there’s a strong sense that this goes beyond just local folklore.
I really liked your article and you spoke up and nailed down some really valid points. I feel like commenting on the Smithsonian was a big influence on this “attack/retraction” I feel like they were pushed by some people to shit him down but I think if they are worried about what and how people are going to present then they should do a rehearsal and help them clean it up and give suggestions and insights that help it to be conveyed successfully and without accusations or misinformation. Would that not eliminate and help people both on presentations as well as your audience? As for giants, I am a Ohio native, my father was a archeology hobbyist at best and influenced my brother and I to go to lectures, digs, reading, etc. I did find an old book on early ohio and in the book was a article on a union officer and his campaigns in the cuyahoga valley. In those passages it talks about a tribe of giant tribesmen that were all 8 foot in height on average, they were very intelligent and friendly. 1700 to 1860s. There are other obvious accounts about large tribal people that refer to the Eerie or Cat People as mostly large in stature. I have a article from a friend in his late 90s. He is a historian and written a couple books, trying to finish a couple now. He had me photograph a old newspaper article that is local to my area. I wanted to try and pass it along to Jim Viera. It is about a local businessman who runs a sand quarry business and they stumbled upon a cave with a trible skeleton and another gigantic skeleton along with some other artifacts including ivory and a bear skull. These may be skeletons from different time periods. We dud have mammoths in Ohio but that would make this super old. My friend knows the decendentsbof that man in the article… he introduced me to them. I think I will ask her a out any knowledge of what become of those artifacts.
I appreciate your work, thank you!
Justin G. Steele
Thank you so much for the kind words Justin. I’m glad you got some value from the article. I think some of the issue is really just that there is a dismissive nature to those who carry opposing beliefs – be it historical, political, or scientific – people just tend to dig their heels in when approached with something that challenges their world view.
Jim Viera is an idiot. It’s all nonsense
Gigantism is a known genetic defect, it has been around for generations, so of course “giants” have existed. To refute this is to refute basic modern day science. The “reasons” for removing this Ted talk concern me more than anything, and actually lessen my personal view of Tedx Talks.
You’re absolutely correct! Thanks for stopping by and reading!
Interesting that the comments here offer no contrary evidence, just opinion and/or insult. This is SO typical of the professional skeptic class. Instead of attacking the evidence, they attack the person. What’s shocking to me is that they don’t realize that their arguments are in fact, invalid. An insult is also called ad hominem and is a logical fallacy.
I happen to know Jim very well. In fact, I did episode 2 with him on History. I can tell you this; there was no speculation. Everything you see on the show we actually discovered while in Steeleville, MO. That particular episode centered on old accounts that an 8 ft skeleton was found in a cave near the Merrimac River. Supposedly the skeleton was kept for a time in the office of a local Doctor.
We were able to find an article from the St Louis Post Dispatch with a picture of the skeleton as well as talk to people who’s parents had seen the skeleton. We found the cave as well. One thing NOT disclosed on the episode was that the tooth we found in the cave, which looked human, turned out to be that of a Bison.
We don’t know if this particular skeleton suffered from gigantism, but the sheer number of articles around this phenomena is astounding. There are literally thousands. Most are NOT on the internet. They are on microfiche in libraries around the country. When I searched my own library here in SW, MO, I found dozens.
Yes, I believe they all could have been hoaxes. But the question remains, why? Why would thousands of reporters and leading scientists of the day collude to create a fantasy story like this? To sell papers? I guess its possible, but the scientists named in many of the articles were well know and well respected at the time. I find it hard to believe that they would endanger their reputation to create a fantasy in order to sell papers. So unless and until someone can prove to me otherwise, based on all the data and evidence I have looked at, there WAS a race of very large people living in the uS who did have an advanced culture.
James thanks for stopping by and reading. After actually being there and then watching the version of events presented by the show, do you feel that the final cut lent credence to what you were looking for? Or do you feel that how the show was edited it took away from what all you guys really did while you were there filming?
Regardless of what anyone’s personal opinion of Jim Vieira is in the comment section, all I have to say to Sharif is… Touche! You absolutely did an excellent job at proving the point you set out to examine here. I agree that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in giants or not, but every point and counterpoint certainly leaves me questioning the credibility (or should I say integrity? ) of the TEDx group… as I almost, just fell into the trap of referring to them as an ‘institution’ for lack of a better word.
I came across all of this nonsense by chance, while looking up something else… but something in the subject matter caught my eye and I got sucked into the whole ridiculous thing. I read the letter directly from their website and honestly thought it was less than lack luster for them to also state they were challenging his talk because of ‘comments’ made on YouTube… really?! Since when did anybody’s comments made on YouTube substantiate ANYTHING other than personal opinion? …and they try to come across as being on a higher level of credibility directly after referencing that? They certainly have lost all and any credibility on their part – because it’s all, just plain stupid. They could have just as easily put a note in the video title or description that says the talk may or may not necessarily contain factual, scientifically proven info – without dragging the poor guy’s name through the mud… would certainly stage them on a higher road- that was seemingly more professional. All the same, what you wrote made me chuckle throughout the whole thing… and I absolutely agreed with every ‘talking point’ you made to prove your case. Excellent and very well done! I really enjoyed reading it (which is a LOT for me to say, or even be bothered to comment on)
I replied to Sharif Jameel about his article. I was wondering if you could pass along a article from a historian friend of mine. It is a article local to my current area of residence and I do know one of the descendants of the man in this article. In it is a reference to a giant tribal skeleton recovered locally.
Giants, LOL! Jim Viera is a clown
I definitely see your argument. I don’t think there were giants in North America, but the man does have a right to an open forum to express his opinion & research.
I still think it’s possible… unlikely based on currently accepted theory, but possible nonetheless.