These 5 Programs Prove Intellectual Debate Isn’t Dead
September 14, 2015
Topping the list: Intelligence Squared U.S.
“Recently, political discussions relegated to cable news anchors and Twitter feeds have come to share a common criticism of lacking intelligent, nuanced debate. There’s even a new documentary, “Best of Enemies,” that looks back at the 1968 TV debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal during the Democratic and Republican conventions with a nostalgic eye. The end of the film laments the current state of the news, which mimics the combativeness of the Buckley-Vidal debates without achieving the same intellectual quality.
While the film did a fine job — balancing the events of the time and the personalities of the two debaters — it’s unfair to dismiss the (albeit rare) high-quality political back-and-forth of today, even if without the once-in-a-generation magical reputation of the Buckley-Vidal debates.
If you’re hungry for arguments more comprehensive than what’s offered at presidential debates, feast on one of these five programs:
1. Intelligence Squared U.S.
Intelligence Squared U.S. is a non-profit organization that has been hosting debates about topical issues with major figures since 2006. Their debates usually last around two hours and feature 2 to 3 panelists in support of a certain proposition against 2 to 3 panelists opposed to the proposition. The panelists are given time to make opening and closing statements as well as make rebuttals against each other, but most of the time is spent on audience questions about the topic.
At the beginning and end of each debate, the audience vote on which side of the issue they are on, and the side which convinces the most audience members is declared the winner. Particularly interesting past debates include “The US Drone Program is Fatally Flawed” and “Don’t Blame Teachers Unions for Our Failing Schools,” both of which brought perspectives from both sides that do not usually make it into the mainstream media.
The UK and Australia both have their own version of Intelligence Squared as well.”