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!)
Israel Can Live with a Nuclear Iran (January 16, 2013)
Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies (February 13, 2013)
America Doesn't Need a Strong Dollar Policy (March 13, 2013)
The GOP Must Seize the Center or Die (April 17, 2013)
The FDA's Caution is Hazardous to Our Health (May 8, 2013)