Thursday, March 12, 2009

Intelligence Squared US, NPR's forum for Debate

NPR hosts a series of debates on miscellaneous pertinent topics, panels of 3-for and 3-against are formed with the world's leading public intellectuals (with specialized expertise on the topic). Audiences vote for or against the motion before and after the debate, the winner persuades more audience members.

Coming up is a debate on the motion: blame Washington more than Wall Street for the financial crisis. Niall Ferguson, one of the sharpest economic writers in the world, argues for. That position is not my intuition, so I'm excited to hear his arguments.

Another upcoming debate is on the motion "it is wrong to pay for sex." Ethicist Catherine MacKinnon speaks for the resolution, one of my favorite economists, Tyler Cowen, speaks against (among 4 other panelists).

You can view the pre- and post-debate poll results, or listen to the past debates to decide for yourself. The debate topics are very engaging. Past debates include "Islam is Dominated by Radicals," and "Carbon Reductions are Not Worth the Money." (By the polls, both of the "for" teams on those motions won; I highly recommend hearing precisely how.)

The series is sponsored by the Rosenkrantz foundation, was inspired by a similar program in London, and is currently in its second year. The first year of debates were all sold out. Radio and podcasting is a fine start, but my proposed topic: IQ² US should be televised.

Subscriptions to IQ²: Podcast; RSS