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Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

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Rank #142 in Education category

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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.

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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.

iTunes Ratings

1692 Ratings
Average Ratings
1358
169
76
34
55

Stimulating, relevant, necessary

By thotsalot - Nov 30 2019
Read more
Everybody should listen to these debates.

Live the civil discourse

By Florida is weird - Sep 07 2019
Read more
Love this podcast. Sometimes it makes me change my mind. It always makes me think.

iTunes Ratings

1692 Ratings
Average Ratings
1358
169
76
34
55

Stimulating, relevant, necessary

By thotsalot - Nov 30 2019
Read more
Everybody should listen to these debates.

Live the civil discourse

By Florida is weird - Sep 07 2019
Read more
Love this podcast. Sometimes it makes me change my mind. It always makes me think.
Cover image of Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

Latest release on Jul 25, 2020

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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.

Rank #1: Science Refutes God

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On the fundamental question--evolution or creation?--Americans are on the fence. According to one survey, while 61% of Americans believe we have evolved over time, 22% believe this evolution was guided by a higher power, with another 31% on the side of creationism. For some, modern science debunks many of religion's core beliefs, but for others, questions like "Why are we here?" and "How did it all come about?" can only be answered through a belief in the existence of God. Can science and religion co-exist?

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Dec 11 2012

52mins

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Rank #2: Is Islam A Religion Of Peace?

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That's how former President George W. Bush characterized it, but some take a different view. A panel of experts takes on the question in the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.

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Oct 14 2010

52mins

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Rank #3: #57 - Would The World Be Better Off Without Religion?

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A rabbi, a descendant of Charles Darwin, a philosopher and a scholar face off over religion in the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.

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Nov 21 2011

52mins

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Rank #4: #118 - Is Free Speech Threatened On Campus?

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Protests have erupted on university campuses across the country. To many, these students are speaking out against racial injustice that has long been manifested in unwelcoming, sometimes hostile environments. But to critics, their demands have gone too far, creating an atmosphere of intolerance for opposing or unpopular points of view. Are the protesters silencing free speech, or are they just trying to be heard? And are the universities responding by defending free speech, or by suppressing it?

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Mar 08 2016

53mins

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Rank #5: #90 - Do Millennials Stand A Chance?

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Millennials—growing up with revolutionary technology and entering adulthood in a time of recession—have recently been much maligned. Are their critics right? Is this generation uniquely coddled, narcissistic, and lazy? Or have we let conventional wisdom blind us to their openness to change and innovation, and optimism in the face of uncertainty, which, in any generation, are qualities to be admired? The debaters are Binta Niambi Brown, David D. Burstein, W. Keith Campbell, and Jessica Grose.

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Apr 16 2014

53mins

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Rank #6: #116 - Should The U.S. Let In 100,000 Syrian Refugees?

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Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, more than 4 million Syrians have fled the country, creating the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. The United States has taken in just over 2,000 Syrian refugees since the war’s start, and the Obama administration has pledged to take another 10,000 in 2016. What are our moral obligations, and what are the cultural, economic, and security issues that must be taken into account? Should the U.S. let in 100,000 Syrian refugees?

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Jan 20 2016

52mins

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Rank #7: #174 - Is Capitalism a Blessing?

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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


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Nov 29 2019

54mins

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Rank #8: #171 - Should We Replace Private Insurance With Medicare For All?

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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 www.iq2us.org/buy-tickets

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Oct 04 2019

53mins

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Rank #9: #91 - Is Death Final?

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If consciousness is just the workings of neurons and synapses, how do we explain the phenomenon of near-death experience? Is the prospect of an existence after death “real” and provable by science, or a construct of wishful thinking about our own mortality? The debaters are Dr. Eben Alexander, Sean Carroll, Dr. Raymond Moody, and Dr. Steven Novella.

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May 14 2014

52mins

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Rank #10: #119 - Should We Trust The Promise Of Artificial Intelligence?

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As technology rapidly progresses, some proponents of artificial intelligence believe that it will help solve complex social challenges and offer immortality via virtual humans. But AI’s critics say that we should proceed with caution. That its rewards may be overpromised, and that the pursuit of superintelligence and autonomous machines may result in unintended consequences. Is this the stuff of science fiction? Should we fear AI, or will these fears prevent the next technological revolution?

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Mar 23 2016

53mins

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Rank #11: #173 - Is Parenting Overrated?

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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 www.iq2us.org

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Nov 15 2019

53mins

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Rank #12: Was Snowden Justified?

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Has Edward Snowden done the U.S. a great service? There is no doubt that his release of highly classified stolen documents has sparked an important public debate, even forcing what could be a major presidential overhaul of the NSA’s surveillance programs. But have his actions—which include the downloading of an estimated 1.7 million files—tipped off our enemies and endangered national security? Is Snowden a whistleblower, or is he a criminal?

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Feb 18 2014

52mins

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Rank #13: Has The Constitutional Right To Bear Arms Outlived Its Usefulness?

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Recent mass shooting tragedies have renewed the national debate over the 2nd Amendment. Gun ownership and homicide rates are higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation, but gun violence has decreased over the last two decades even as gun ownership may be increasing. Over 200 years have passed since James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights, the country has changed, and so have its guns. Is the right to bear arms now at odds with the common good, or is it as necessary today as it was in 1789? The debaters are Alan Dershowitz, David Kopel, Sanford Levinson, and Eugene Volokh.

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Nov 21 2013

52mins

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Rank #14: Is Obesity The Government's Business?

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In the U.S., more than 78 million adults and 12 million children are obese, prompting some to argue that it's in the government's interest to combat the problem. But others say the government should stay away from people's personal habits. A group of experts takes on the topic in the latest Intelligence Squared U.S.

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Feb 13 2012

52mins

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Rank #15: #143 - Do Liberals Hold the Moral High Ground?

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Motion: Liberals hold the moral high ground.

Do conservative or liberal philosophies lead to more just outcomes? Opposing moral philosophies have long fueled debate about America’s policy goals and national identity. For conservatives, morality is grounded in ideals such as patriotism, including a respect for order and authority; fairness and liberty in the sense that an individual’s actions yield just rewards, or consequences; and reverence for the sanctity of religious and moral tradition. Liberals place moral emphasis on caring: for the poor, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized; on fairness in the sense of redressing both historic wrongs and current inequalities of outcome; and on generosity extending beyond the bounds of nations or cultures. In today’s divisive political arena, which side best embodies the nation’s most cherished virtues? Morally speaking, is the left right?

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Dec 13 2017

53mins

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Rank #16: Bonus Podcast: Should We Abolish the Minimum Wage?

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This is a special podcast for Labor Day. The first attempt at establishing a national minimum wage, a part of 1933’s sweeping National Industrial Recovery Act, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935. But in 1938, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a minimum hourly wage of 25 cents—$4.07 in today’s dollars. Three-quarters of a century later, we are still debating the merits of this cornerstone of the New Deal. Do we need government to ensure a decent paycheck, or would low-wage workers and the economy be better off without its intervention?

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Sep 04 2015

50mins

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Rank #17: #124 - Are the Elites to Blame for the Trump Phenomenon?

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Motion: Blame the Elites for the Trump Phenomenon. The elites of both parties have expressed contempt for Donald Trump, and Trump has succeeded in part by channeling his voters’ contempt for the elites. Does support for Trump reflect an uninformed populism and misplaced anger by a large swath of the American electorate? Or have the elites failed to empathize with their struggles, and failed to craft effective policies to help them cope?

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Sep 21 2016

55mins

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Rank #18: #134 - Is Universal Basic Income the Safety Net of the Future?

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Presidential contender Andrew Yang wants to give every American a monthly check from the government, just to cover the basics. And he's not alone. Business leaders, particularly those in Silicon Valley, and some Democratic politicians are warming up to the idea of a universal basic income as a means to offset the impacts of automation in the workforce. In this episode, we take a look back at our debate on the motion, "The Universal Basic Income Is the Safety Net of the Future."

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May 17 2019

53mins

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Rank #19: #117 - Are Lifespans Long Enough?

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What if we didn’t have to grow old and die? The average American can expect to live for 78.8 years, an improvement over the days before clean water and vaccines, but it's still not long enough for most of us. So researchers around the world have been working on arresting the process of aging through biotechnology. What are the ethical and social consequences of radically increasing lifespans? Should we accept a “natural” end, or should we find a cure to aging?

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Feb 10 2016

55mins

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Rank #20: #147 - As We Evolve, Do We Need God Less?

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Motion: The More We Evolve The Less We Need God.

Does God have a place in 21st century human affairs? Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, and cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin team up to argue for the motion, "The More We Evolve, The Less We Need God." On the other side is integrative medicine advocate Dr. Deepak Chopra and ER physician Dr. Anoop Kumar.

To buy tickets to our live show in Chicago on April 17th, visit IQ2US.org.

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Apr 06 2018

54mins

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Agree to Disagree: Broadband for All?

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Introducing "Agree to Disagree," a new series from Intelligence Squared U.S. In this episode, two guests join John Donvan to debate Broadband for All, the internet as a public utility, and just who should make sure you have the connection you need.


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Jul 25 2020

43mins

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#183 - Is Nationalism a Force for Good?

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From Brexit to “America First,” Modi in India, Erdoğan in Turkey, and Bolsonaro in Brazil, nationalism – or allegiance to a nation-state over other group affiliations – has been on the rise. Now, borders around the world are closed and the coronavirus pandemic is sparking staunch debate about the future of global governance and political identity. The nation-state has been praised for securing the needs of its citizens and serving as the most efficient form of political organization, while also criticized for being insular and inciting anti-immigration policies. Nationalism has been credited for both uniting disparate communities under a common culture and identity, as well as promoting violence based on race and ethnicity. As global problems continue to mount, does the 21st century require international leadership, or is nationalism a force for good?


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Jul 10 2020

53mins

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#164 - Should Social Media Companies Honor the First Amendment?

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MOTION: Constitutional Free Speech Principles Can Save Social Media Companies from Themselves

President Trump posted similar content on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter flagged it. Facebook did not. Both have come under fire for those decisions. Just how should social media companies police user content? Revisit our debate on social media content moderation policies and whether the U.S. Constitution should be the guiding light in a new era of political speech. 


FOR THE MOTION:

David French - Senior Writer, National Review

Corynne McSherry - Legal Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

AGAINST THE MOTION:

Nathaniel Persily - Professor, Stanford Law

Marietje Schaake - International Policy Director, Stanford's Cyber Policy Center & Fmr. Member, European Parliament


We're funded by our listeners. To support our debates, donate online at iq2us.org/support


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Jun 26 2020

57mins

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#182 - Will Coronavirus Reshape the World Order in China's Favor?

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How might coronavirus reshape geopolitics? For some, the answer is clear: China is on the rise. While Washington embraces “America First” and abdicates its global leadership role, they argue, Beijing is stepping up to fill the void. But others see a global future where Beijing’s standing is diminished, not bolstered. Panelists Kurt M. Campbell, Kishore Mahbubani, Minxin Pei, and Susan Thornton. 

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Jun 12 2020

53mins

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#181 - Has The Electoral College Outlived Its Usefulness?

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DEBATE: Has The Electoral College Outlived Its Usefulness?

Five American presidents — two in the last 20 years — have assumed office without winning the popular vote. As the nation gears up for another contentious presidential election, some are calling for an end to the Electoral College. They argue that the college subverts the will of the American people by unfairly prioritizing rural and swing states over the nation’s majority. But others say the Electoral College, which the Founders established in the Constitution, is necessary to ensure voters in less populous states have a voice in picking our president. Has the Electoral College outlived its usefulness?

This debate is presented in partnership with the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as part of the Newt and Jo Minow Debate Series.  

Motion: The Electoral College Has Outlived Its Usefulness


For the Motion:

Jamelle Bouie - Columnist, New York Times

Kate Shaw - Law Professor & Supreme Court Contributor, ABC News


Against the Motion:

Tara Ross - Author, "Why We Need the Electoral College"

Bradley A. Smith - Law Professor & Former Chairman, Federal Election Commission


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May 29 2020

53mins

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#180 - Was the Global Financial System Better Prepared for the Pandemic Than 2008?

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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: www.iq2us.org/vote

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May 15 2020

54mins

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#179 - Is the Defense Production Act Being Underutilized?

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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: https://smarturl.it/DefenseProdAct

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Apr 24 2020

52mins

Play

How to Fight an Infodemic

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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.

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Apr 03 2020

53mins

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#178 - Does Maximum Pressure Against Iran Work?

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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

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Mar 20 2020

54mins

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#177 - Is Anti-Zionism the New Anti-Semitism?

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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

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Mar 06 2020

54mins

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#176 - Is the Two-Party System Good for Democracy?

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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

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Feb 21 2020

54mins

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#175 - Is it Time to Expand Nuclear Power?

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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


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Feb 07 2020

54mins

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Ezra Klein on Why We're Polarized

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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?


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Jan 31 2020

51mins

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Bonus Episode: Can Progressives Save Capitalism?

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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.


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Jan 10 2020

45mins

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#97 - Should We Legalize Assisted Suicide?

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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

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Dec 27 2019

53mins

Play

Bonus Episode: How Do We Make Our Debates Happen?

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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.


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Dec 13 2019

48mins

Play

#174 - Is Capitalism a Blessing?

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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!

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Nov 29 2019

54mins

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#173 - Is Parenting Overrated?

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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 www.iq2us.org

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Nov 15 2019

53mins

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#172 - Has Europe Declared War on American Tech Companies?

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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 www.iq2us.org

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Nov 02 2019

53mins

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#115 - Is Affirmative Action in College Admissions Constitutional?

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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?

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Oct 18 2019

56mins

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iTunes Ratings

1692 Ratings
Average Ratings
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169
76
34
55

Stimulating, relevant, necessary

By thotsalot - Nov 30 2019
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Everybody should listen to these debates.

Live the civil discourse

By Florida is weird - Sep 07 2019
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Love this podcast. Sometimes it makes me change my mind. It always makes me think.