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Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates
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Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

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America feels divided. From the most salient questions about our national identity and place in the world, to fundamental concerns about technology, religion, the economy, and public policy, Intelligence Squared U.S. is here to help. A respite from polarized discussions, we bring together the smartest minds to debate and dissect issues in depth, restoring civility and bringing intelligence to the public square in the process.

226 Episodes
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Is Bitcoin here to stay? Cryptocurrencies hold the promise of revolutionizing global finance by placing control in the hands of users, not nations, and making financial exchanges more transparent, efficient, and democratic. But given the yet-another-round of boom and bust cycles seen recently, questions remain: Could cypto ever be considered a safe bet? Proponents say the hype is warranted, with naysayers increasingly jumping on the Bitcoin (block) train. Yet skeptics and critics – like Elon Musk – suggest this highly volatile digital currency offers a platform for illicit activity, including money laundering and trafficking of humans and drugs, free from government oversight and regulation. They argue Bitcoin has no intrinsic value – the price is based on market enthusiasm rather than actual utility. So… in light of renewed attention, Intelligence Squared U.S. sought to resurrect this highly relevant debate: Is Bitcoin More Than a Bubble and Here to Stay? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In light of the recent Israel-Hamas war, an old debate is gaining new relevance. The nature of the current conflict has again unleashed a wave of antisemitic threats and violence in the U.S., with synagogues and Jewish-owned business having been vandalized and attacked. But as society surveys the damage, it also asks whether the condemnation of Israeli actions can truly be divorced from antisemitic hostilities? In other words, is being an anti-zionist tantamount to being antisemitic? Or is arguing against a state of-and-for the Jewish people just a thinly veiled way of harboring prejudice? In this debate, which first aired in February 2020, and accordingly has a few dated references which we felt were necessary to keep, Intelligence Squared looks to four expert panelists to debate this question: Is Anti-Zionism the New Anti-Semitism? For the Motion: Bret Stephens - Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times Einat Wilf - Former Member, Israeli Parliament Against the Motion: Peter Beinart - Journalist & Author, "The Crisis of Zionism" Yousef Munayyer - Executive Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Taiwan is Indefensible

Taiwan is Indefensible

2021-05-2152:014

The fate of Taiwan is uncertain. As a revanchist China builds up forces near the island, the Biden administration is warning Beijing against an invasion, bolstering its defense with the sale of military hardware. Beijing sees Taiwan as lost territory, which needs to be “reunified” with the mainland. The United States is now faced with a geopolitical quandary: Can the U.S. military defend Taiwan from Beijing, and should it? Or, is Taiwan indefensible? Arguing in favor of the motion is Lyle J. Goldstein of the Naval War College, with Charlie Glaser of George Washington University. Arguing against the motion is former deputy assistant secretary of defense Elbridge Colby, with Elizabeth Larus of the University of Mary Washington. Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Will you need a digital passport to prove you’ve been vaccinated the next time you try to board a flight or get into a concert? The idea is already being tested in Israel and governments around the world – including the Biden administration – are exploring what vaccine credentials might look like. For some, these digital tools are a golden ticket back to “normal” life. But for others, these tools raise dire concerns about privacy, civil rights, and equitable access.  In this episode of Agree to Disagree, John Donvan sits with Peter Baldwin, history professor from UCLA, and Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at ACLU, to debate the future of vaccine passports. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Legalize Psychedelics

Legalize Psychedelics

2021-04-2352:162

Psychedelics, in medical terms, is an inexact category of drugs that affect perceptions and cognition. Their proponents say 1960s-era associations have undermined exciting research in the field of neuroscience. Psychedelics should be made much more widely available, they contend, to treat a range of mental and emotional issues, as well as to ascertain a more profound sense of ourselves. People should also be empowered to make their own decisions in its use. Not so fast, say opponents. These are powerful substances. And society does not know enough about the broader consequences of greatly increasing access. Cautionary tales should be heeded. Either way, like cannabis, the movement for wider use is growing. So... here’s our debate: Should society legalize psychedelics? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
India and South Africa have petitioned the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines. These nations – along with a coalition of scholars, activists, and nonprofit organizations – argue that developing nations are at risk of waiting years to get full access to the vaccines unless these protections are lifted. But their opponents say suspending patent protections will do little to speed up the manufacturing process. Instead, undermining these protections will ensure that the next time the world needs an emergency vaccine, governments and pharmaceuticals will be unable to act as swiftly. It’s a debate emblematic of the uneven vaccine rollout, and strikes at the core of society’s ability to act quickly.  In this episode of Agree to Disagree, John Donvan sits with Thomas Cueni, director-general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations and Brook Baker, law professor at Northeastern University and senior policy analyst at Health GAP, to debate the future of vaccine patents. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Forgive Student Debt

Forgive Student Debt

2021-03-2650:572

In the year since the pandemic forced us to cancel, the federal student loan debt has grown $100 billion. The stakes have risen for student borrowers, making it high time we rescheduled our debate on the motion: Forgive Student Loans. Facing growing discontent over the rising cost of higher education, many prominent Democrats – and some Republicans – are calling on Washington to cancel the approximately $1.7 trillion Americans currently owe in student loan debt. Supporters see debt forgiveness as a necessary step to safeguarding the nation’s financial future and combating inequality in the education system. But others argue that this blanket policy would balloon the federal deficit, reward irresponsible borrowers, and waste taxpayer money on those who are not actually in need. Is it time for a student loan bailout?  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Between 1525 and 1866, more than 12 million Africans were shipped to the New World as slaves. After some 200 years, slavery was abolished, and yet another century of Jim Crow, coupled with discriminatory housing and lending policies, contributed to its legacy. Dealing with the relics of that stain on American history is part of the national dilemma. But exactly how to do it is our question; something lawmakers in Washington are also now debating. A top aide to President Joe Biden recently said that the White House will ‘start acting now’ on reparations for African Americans. Some say it’s long over-due. Reparations, they say, are important to start to address the moral injury slavery inflicted. Others say direct payments to African Americans will divide the black community, exaggerate racial tensions and prove impossible to administer.   Arguing that reparations are the way to go is Cornell William Brooks, former president and CEO of the NAACP. Arguing that direct payments to African Americans are not the most effective means of addressing the legacy of slavery, and that they could have unintended consequences is Randall LeRoy Kennedy is an American law professor and author at Harvard University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The GOP Has Lost Its Way

The GOP Has Lost Its Way

2021-02-2651:121

What should the Republican party look like after Donald Trump? For many prominent establishment figures, including those behind The Lincoln Project, the GOP has lost its way. The only way back, they say, is to purge the forces that brought Trump to power. But others warn that rejecting the millions of voters who supported the former president is the wrong call for the American right. Rather, the GOP should instead double down, focus on bridging the establishment and grassroots factions of their party, and find a way to move forward together. In light of shifting political sands, we ask: Has the GOP lost its way? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As robots and artificial intelligence reached new heights, the relationship between humans and machines is getting closer. The sex tech industry is worth $30 billion annually and growing, as sex with synthetic companions is becoming far more widespread. But should it be? What are the social consequences? Some argue that sex robots will encourage bad behavior, perpetuate misogyny, and reinforce pornographic depictions of the opposite sex. Others say it can serve as a societal good for those who struggle with traditional relationships, and be employed as a safe outlet for otherwise toxic behavior. So in this episode of Agree to Disagree, we debate sex robots and their place in society.  Arguing “YES” is Kate Devlin, computer scientist specializing in AI and human-computer interaction, author of "Turned On: Science, Sex, and Robots."  Arguing "NO" is Joanna Bryson, PhD, professor at the Hertie School in Berlin, scholar of AI and ethics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The public and pundits alike are still processing the recent election, but this much we know: 2020 marks the most diverse Congress in American history, and President Trump garnered record numbers of minority voters. The takeaway is split. Were identity politics a way to prevail? Two experts on race and identity in America sit with Intelligence Squared host and moderator John Donvan to debate. Arguing “YES” is Michael Eric Dyson, an author, New York Times contributing opinion writer, contributing editor of The New Republic, and professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Arguing "NO" is John McWhorter, an author, host of Lexicon Valley, contributing writer at The Atlantic, and professor of Linguistics at Columbia University. Taped on November 23, 2020, originally released on December 11, 2020. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Joe Biden’s approach to the Middle East will likely be very different than Donald Trump’s. But should it be? For some, the Trump legacy was the right approach: A transactional style that resulted in a host of political and diplomatic victories, including normalizing relations between Israel and several Arab states. But others, including many prominent members of Biden's transition team, see the last four years as a failure of strategy and leadership. So, as the Biden team gets going, we debate whether Trump got the Middle East right.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and halted the Electoral College certification, European leaders decried the violence and called on the president to allow the peaceful transfer of power. Meanwhile, China, Russia, Venezuela, and Iran issued swift condemnations with not-so-subtle jabs at the legitimacy of Western democratic values. In the wake of this, can America remain the world's model for democracy?  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Were you an adventurous baby? Or were you risk averse? According to Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who studies genopolitics, your answers to those questions might also inform your politics. Host, John Donvan digs into the debate surrounding genes and early nurturing, and examines how they both might inspire a natural predilection to skew left or right. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Looking back at 2020, it’s been interesting. Intelligence Squared, like the rest of the world, went virtual as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that upended business models and accelerated trends far beyond what most experts could envision. (“To zoom” no longer just means “to move quickly.”) And so, as the world waits this thing out, we decided an appropriate holiday gift would be a compilation of our favorite debates of 2020. From Iran, China and the Electoral College, to policing and whether society should redistribute the wealth, we hope you enjoy this special year-ender from Intelligence Squared. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As the first rounds of the Covid-19 vaccines become available, a growing debate has emerged as to who should get it first. CDC guidance prioritizes essential workers and those in long-term care, but a growing chorus of voices say authorities should instead focus on the elderly. It’s a profound debate with broad ethical implications that dig into the question of preserving first-responders and society’s first line of defense versus rising morbidity and mortality rates among at-risk populations. Host and moderator John Donvan examines it all in a wide ranging interview with Dr. Larry Brilliant, physician, epidemiologist, and CEO of the Pandefense Advisory, who was also a part of the World Health Organization team that eradicated smallpox. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The public and pundits alike are still processing the most recent election, but this much we know: 2020 marks the most diverse Congress in American history, and President Trump garnered more minority voters in 2020 than in 2016. As Georgia faces two runoff elections, which will determine which party controls the Senate, gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and other voting-rights advocates have focused on identity politics as a way to prevail in the electoral process. Is it a winning strategy? Two experts on race and identity in America sit with Intelligence Squared host and moderator John Donvan to debate.   Arguing “YES” is Michael Eric Dyson, an author, New York Times contributing opinion writer, contributing editor of The New Republic, and professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Arguing "NO" is John McWhorter, an author, host of Lexicon Valley, contributing writer at The Atlantic, and professor of Linguistics at Columbia University Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Governments around the world have spent unprecedented sums — trillions of dollars — to combat the economic impacts of coronavirus. But just what does rising government debt mean for our future? A new crop of economists – adherents to Modern Monetary Theory – have a bold proposition: Don't worry about it. Stephanie Kelton, James Galbraith, Todd Buchholz, and Otmar Issing join us for a debate on national debt in our third episode of "That's Debatable," our new series presented in partnership with Bloomberg Media and sponsored by IBM.   A note from our sponsor: There’s nothing to lose from gaining a fresh perspective. IBM Watson® was built to help us look at an issue from all sides—from cultural debates to customer reviews. Using advanced natural language processing, Watson is making sense of data from a range of topics to help give us more informed perspectives, so we can make more informed decisions. See how Watson informs a human debate at ibm.com/debatable Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Joe Biden delivered a victory speech. His team is planning to take power. But rather than concede, President Trump has instead turned to the courts, with election lawsuits in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona. It's a historic moment, and for many an unsettling one. But could these lawsuits actually be good for democracy? Two competing legal minds weigh in, with Intelligence Squared host and moderator John Donvan at the helm.      Arguing "YES," is Rebecca Roiphe, a Manhattan prosecutor and law professor who focuses on ethics and the history of the legal profession.  Arguing “NO” is Ian Bassin, a former attorney in the Obama White House and the co-founder of Protect Democracy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (25)

Levi Speth

please go back to people who disagree. for example, when debating the state of the GOP, you had a bunch of left leaning people who don't like the current republican party.

Mar 12th
Reply

Rob Houston

Basically arguing whether being racist is a core GQP principle.

Mar 1st
Reply

Blue Heron

Gas tax is just a way to disproportionately put the burden of taxes on poor working people so rich people who don't even drive can pay less in taxes

Jul 22nd
Reply

Blue Heron

Intelligence Squared is fun, but ridiculously easy to rig. All you have to do is get a half a dozen people or so in the audience who are on your side to agree to vote undecided and then change their vote. I have no doubt the honor system is disregarded in these debates

Jul 22nd
Reply

Kathleen Fuller

The opposing side is correct: patriotism is not the same as nationalism. https://twitter.com/TammyforIL/status/1281415977536815105?s=19

Jul 10th
Reply

David Chavanes

What a horrible debate 2 people arguing 2 sides of the same coin. A waisted crisis with just short term gains, and getting shorter still.

May 6th
Reply

Linda Susan Erickson

Whose science - kudos to the Politifact researcher who understood that the vast majority of Bible believers are NOT anti- science, rather they are cognizant that there are different viewpoints even among scientists and that scientific truth evolves with new discoveries. 🙂

Apr 5th
Reply

Linda Susan Erickson

Seems like you consistently interview liberals. How about interviewing some thoughtful conservatives. Luke Goodrich from Becket on religious liberty would be a good choice.

Feb 4th
Reply (1)

Linda Susan Erickson

Seems like you 5 consistently interviewing liberals. How about interviewing some thoughtful conservatives. Luke Goodrich from Becket on religious liberty would be a good choice.

Feb 4th
Reply

MrMajk898

No!

Oct 21st
Reply

Sandro Bircher

Well, as far as the result goes, little surprise there given the venue. The one comment that stood out to me was made by the Italian debater: 'they[The US] still see the european union as a different entity, as an economical one.' Well that was how it was marketed when the european peoples consent was still required.

Aug 16th
Reply

MrMajk898

brainwashed

Jul 15th
Reply

Suzette LT

Great debate! Also, something to consider. Tristan Harris told "60 Minutes" earlier this year that companies have a "whole playbook of techniques" to keep people glued to their apps as long as possible, ( https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chamath-palihapitiya-former-facebook-executive-social-media-ripping-apart-society/ ). Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time, ( http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/ )

Jun 19th
Reply

Jeremy Dixon

@12 minutes... did this guy just start his opening statement about how Ubi violates basic arithmetic and then go on to state that redistribution creates an equal number of losers to winners? if Joe mcmoney is taxed and $100 is moved from his account and split among 100 people the only way those numbers are equivalent is if you count dollars not people.. how can a dollar be a winner?

May 17th
Reply

Daniel Coleman

In all these debates, why is there not one on the topic of abortion????

May 14th
Reply

Geo wise

Conservatives only concern is winning, regardless of how they do it.

May 13th
Reply (1)

samuel gebru

A very boring topic to test something historical like this!

Apr 21st
Reply

Xavier Jackson

It wasn't until the end that the opposition made a really compelling point for me. It's always worth double checking a study everyone's citing for an agenda where big money is involved. I can't help but wonder why she waited until she couldn't be refuted though...

Apr 20th
Reply

Mike Easley

I also began in favor of the motion and concluded against. I think that compassionate immigration reform is sorely needed. I do not like the idea of dividing families. I think reducing the amount of time that people must wait to reapply for reentry might be a step in the right direction.

Jan 12th
Reply

MrMajk898

Good thing this isn't called intellectual squared...

Oct 23rd
Reply
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