Friday, February 15, 2013

Intelligence Squared: IQ2

The "Intellectual Equivalent of a Pro-Wrestling Smackdown" (New York Times), IQ2 is a debate for the civilized. Legalize Drugs, Guns Reduce Crime, Global Warming is Not a Crisis, and other controversial topics are a few of the topics Intelligence Squared (IQ2) has covered. This week, IQ2 debated the topic, "Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies."   Click here  to see the results and read on to hear how it works.

"Always intelligent and provocative, as well as disciplined and civil." The Wall Street Journal

Imported from England, IQ2 follows the Oxford-Style debate. It starts with one highly controversial statement (like "Ban College Football") and 2-3 prepared debaters on either side.  These debaters are highly opinionated, well-respected persons in their field.  This often includes journalists, professors (especially law professors) and more famous participants like John Stossel, Malcolm Gladwell, Fareed Zakaria, and Arianna Huffington. The debate follows a highly formal style: each debater gives their prepared, 7 minute argument.  The moderator (John Donovan) summarizes their arguments and asks questions of the debaters. Audience members ask questions and then each debater gets 2 minutes for closing statements.

What makes this a "smackdown?" IQ2 asks for audience members (and website visitors) to vote before the debate begins and after, turning the debate into a contest. The "winner" doesn't have to win the most votes total, just needs to change the larger percentage of votes toward their side.


Also, the website is a great source of information.  Each has a “Debate Education Library” that highlights hundreds of hours of research for the debate.  Resources from past debates are listed in the "Education" tab at the top of the page. For example, interested in public health? You might find the resources under “Obesity is the Government’s Business” or “We Should Legalize the Market for Human Organs” helpful.   This would be a great place to go to find an already assembled list of resources, but if you're in need of a controversial topic to write a paper on, blog and twitter feeds have a wealth of current trends and information.

Past debates are available on iTunes as podcasts or on the video archive. NPR has broadcasted the debate, and now PBS will also show the debate.  The next debate is February 13: Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies.  And, of course, you could always plan your next trip to New York City around an upcoming debate! (Student discount tickets are only $12!)

This season:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After carefully watching several episodes it is the entertainment in the promotion of apparent intellect as part of the framework of the theatrics that I find most valuable.

While topics of interest to the public on policy are typically selected to draw participants into a demonstration of intellectual debate and rebuttal, it is in reality an exercise in the demonstration of the ease of which the large majority of people are peaceably convinced, deceived and directed to support a point of view.

It is no more than a demonstrative training tool to teach the ultimate salesman, our politicians, how to sell ice to Eskimos, and in particular, why the Eskimo should buy their political ice over the other politicians ice. All the while, the Eskimo already has the best ice.

I would prefer to see that observation taught by brave men and women to the brain dead voting public before we end ourselves by our own hand yet again.