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

Author: IQ2US 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.
192 Episodes
More than a decade ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed, and the world witnessed one of the worst financial crises in global history. In January 2019, Intelligence Squared U.S. hosted a debate on the motion “Ten Years After the Global Financial Crisis, the System Is Safer,” to assess how resilient markets would be in the future. With the emergence of a global pandemic, this has put the debater’s arguments to the ultimate test – whose claims have been vindicated by this unprecedented event? Cast Your Vote: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As health professionals and leaders around the nation rush to procure the supplies Americans need to combat coronavirus, we ask: Is the Defense Production Act being underutilized? This little-known law, which dates back to the Korean War, gives the president vast authority to compel private companies to act in the interest of national defense. While President Trump has invoked the act in recent weeks, many across the nation are calling on his administration to use its powers much more broadly. Cast Your Vote: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe, the World Health Organization is warning of the spread of something else – an information epidemic or “infodemic.” And while diligent consumers of the news are inundated with stats, graphs, press conferences, and think-pieces, so too are they exposed to dubious data, miscredited quotations, and outright harmful claims. In this episode, John Donvan sits down with two leading experts in the spread of information, journalist and editor-in-chief of PolitiFact Angie Drobnic Holan and computer scientist and associate professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington Kate Starbird, for a discussion on how to be discerning communicators during a time of crisis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The targeted killing of General Qassim Suleimani sent shockwaves around the world and sparked staunch debate about the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign. Supporters argue that this strategy, which includes leaving the JCPOA and imposing harsh economic sanctions, will safeguard American interests, quell Tehran's human rights abuses, and halt the state's support of terrorist networks. But opponents see "maximum pressure" as dangerously misguided. They argue that abandoning the hard-fought JCPOA and undermining the Iranian economy has promoted violence, isolated allies, and fueled anti-American sentiment. Is the maximum pressure campaign against Iran working?  Presented in partnership with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University Motion: The Maximum Pressure Campaign Against Iran Is Working For the Motion: Victor Davis Hanson - Military Historian & Author, “The Case for Trump” H. R. McMaster - Retired Lieutenant General, U.S. Army & Former National Security Advisor Against the Motion: Martha Crenshaw - Terrorism Studies Expert & Author, “Explaining Terrorism” Abbas Milani - Iranian Studies Program Director, Stanford University Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Zionism, or the belief in the Jewish right to self-determination in the land of Israel, has been the topic of contentious global debate for decades. And while the United States government is making moves to strengthen its special relationship with Israel, such as relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, scrutiny of Israel and its government looms large in American politics. Is it possible to distinguish anti-Zionism from 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
As the nation gears up for the 2020 presidential election, we ask: Is the two-party system good for democracy? Does relying on two hugely powerful political bodies drive division and push voters to the extremes? Or does the two-party system moderate the electorate and make the nation governable?  Keynote Conversation: Joanne Freeman - Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University For the Motion: Yascha Mounk - Author, "The People vs. Democracy" Norman Ornstein - Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute Against the Motion: Lee Drutman - Author, "Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop" Katherine Gehl - Entrepreneur & Political Reformer Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
For decades, the development of nuclear power has sparked staunch debate among scientists, politicians, and activists alike. Proponents claim that nuclear energy is the most effective way to combat climate change while still meeting the world's growing demand for energy. But its critics argue that expanding nuclear energy is dangerous, costly, and ill-advised. Should nuclear energy fuel our future? Keynote Conversation: Bill Nye - Scientist and CEO of the Planetary Society For the Motion: Kirsty Gogan - Co-founder and Executive Director of Energy for Humanity Daniel Poneman - Former Deputy Secretary of Energy Against the Motion: Gregory B. Jaczko - Former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Arjun Makhijani - President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research A message from our sponsor: Get started and master topics with Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Is the American political system broken? In his new book, Ezra Klein argues that the system isn't malfunctioning, it's doing exactly what it was designed to accomplish. In this special episode of Discourse Disrupters, John Donvan sits down with one of the nation's most prominent political journalists to ask one critical question: Why are we polarized? A message from our sponsors: Watch or listen to Argumentation – and any of The Great Courses Plus’ thousands of lectures - Free for an Entire Month! Get started now Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Does capitalism need saving? In this special episode, Intelligence Squared partners with Foreign Affairs to take a nuanced look at the state of the capitalism debate in America, and the potential problems facing our economic system. Joining host John Donvan is Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz with recent Intelligence Squared alum and Reason editor-in-chief Katherine Mangu-Ward. A message from our sponsors: Watch or listen to Argumentation – and any of The Great Courses Plus’ thousands of lectures - Free for an Entire Month! Get started now A message from our partner: Go to and enter the promo code faiq2 for a discounted issue. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Now legal in nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia, physician-assisted suicide has a growing contingency that want to legalize the practice. Will these laws lead to a slippery slope, where the vulnerable are pressured to choose death and human life is devalued? Or do we need to recognize everyone’s basic right to autonomy, the right to end pain and suffering, and the right to choose to die with dignity? FOR THE MOTION: Peter Singer - Philosopher & Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University Andrew Solomon - Author, "Far From the Tree" & Prof. of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University AGAINST THE MOTION: Baroness Ilora Finlay - President, British Medical Association & Member, House of Lords Dr. Daniel Sulmasy - Prof. of Medicine and Ethics, University of Chicago & Member, Presidential Bioethics Commission Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In this special episode of Intelligence Squared U.S., host and moderator John Donvan sits down with our newly appointed CEO Clea Conner to pull back the curtain on how we make our debates, choose debaters, and talk about what happens off the stage. A message from our sponsor: Get 20% off your first purchase by going to and entering promo code DEBATE. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Capitalism has always had its critics. But now, a new generation of political leaders, scholars, and activists are calling the free-market system into question. Has capitalism been a force for good? And should it be the economic model of the future? FOR THE MOTION: John Mackey - Co-Founder & CEO, Whole Foods Market Katherine Mangu-Ward - Editor-in-Chief, Reason AGAINST THE MOTION: Bhaskar Sunkara - Founding Editor, Jacobin Richard D. Wolff - Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst GETQUIP.COM/debate for your first refill free! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How much does our DNA shape who we become? Four experts in science and psychology debate the classic "nature versus nurture" question with a eye toward recent breakthroughs in genetic science and DNA testing. FOR THE MOTION: Robert Plomin - Professor of Behavioral Genetics, King’s College London Nancy Segal - Professor of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton & Director, Twin Studies Center AGAINST THE MOTION: Paige Harden - Psychology Professor, University of Texas Ann Pleshette Murphy - Author & Parenting Expert Cast your vote at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Should we look to Europe for the future of big tech regulations? Four leading thinkers in tech, governance, and law debate the state and future of big tech, and whether it's time to impose greater regulations on companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter. FOR THE MOTION: Roslyn Layton - Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute Berin Szóka - Founder and President, TechFreedom AGAINST THE MOTION: Marietje Schaake - International Policy Director, Stanford's Cyber Policy Center & Fmr. Member, European Parliament Ramesh Srinivasan - Director, UC Digital Cultures Lab & Professor, UCLA Cast your vote at Get 20% off your first order at and entering promo code DEBATE during checkout. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Students for Fair Admissions just challenged Harvard's affirmative action guidelines in federal court, and lost. But the advocacy group is gearing up to make their case again – this time, in the Supreme Court. In this episode, we revisit this timely and contentious debate: Does the Constitution allow racial preferences in university admissions? Use code Friends30 for 30% off tickets to upcoming live debates: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As the nation gears up for the 2020 election, Democrats are promising bold new changes to the American health care system, including scrapping private health insurance and adopting “Medicare for All.” Is this a bold and effective way to repair health care in America? Or will it inflate the already swelled federal deficit? Learn more about upcoming debates at  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Saudi Arabia and Iran are vying for regional dominance. Turkey is cozying up to Russia and China. And instability, conflict, and proxy wars have engulfed Syria, Yemen, and beyond. How should the United States respond to shifting power in the Middle East? Five leading national security experts debate. Learn more about the upcoming season and buy tickets to a live debate at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In this special episode, host John Donvan sits down with two of America's leading thinkers on politics and foreign policy: Susan Glasser and Yascha Mounk. They discuss the rise of authoritarian leaders around the world and their featured articles in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. Go to and enter the promo code faiq2 for a discounted issue. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How do good ideas and persuasive arguments change the world? In this episode, host John Donvan speaks with TED curator Chris Anderson about how bringing people together to share new and innovative ideas will shape our collective future.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Are recent U.S. policies toward China tough and focused enough to achieve key economic and strategic objectives? Or will U.S. policy escalate tensions too much, ultimately reducing the chances that the world’s two major powers can achieve a sensible accommodation? Join four leading experts for a debate on the motion, “The Recent U.S. Policy Toward China Is Productive.” Learn more about Intelligence Squared U.S. and cast your vote to decide the winner at Charles Duhigg's "How To" podcast Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (20)

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

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

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



Oct 21st

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



Jul 15th

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, ( ). Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time, ( )

Jun 19th

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

Daniel Coleman

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

May 14th

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

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

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


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

Oct 23rd

Peter DeBoer

Should have had tech people debate this, and not nutty libertarian tech people.

Sep 8th

Nitesh Surana

it was so informative!!

Aug 9th

Abhishek Banerjee

I support automation

Jun 11th
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