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Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

Education • Government • News

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 theRead more

Popular episodes

Agree to Disagree: Meritocracy

Nov 26 • 53:16

The hereditary lottery, in many democracies, has effectively been replaced by a system in which talent, grit, and ability are meant to determine success. Yet, amidst income inequality and legacy of racism, many wonder whether meritocracy works. Critics point to generational wealth and networks that lead to lucrative jobs and fancy educations. Those who defend meritocracy a...

#196 - Is Cancel Culture Toxic?

Nov 12 • 53:16

You know the drill. Someone does, or says, something offensive. A public backlash -- typically on Twitter -- ensues. Then come the calls to "cancel" that person, brand, or institution. That usually means the loss of cultural cache, political clout, and often a job or career. Some see "cancelling" as a modern-day means of holding people to account, while others express conc...

Agree to Disagree: Booster Shots

Oct 29 • 53:16

The boosters are rolling out. In places likes the U.S., Britain, and Israel, authorities are providing additional Covid-19 vaccines with the goal of bolstering immune systems and shoring up their economies. Though vaccines such as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have proven highly effective against the virus, efficacy wanes after six months, rendering older adults and those wi...

Agree to Disagree: Cyber War and Hacker Ransoms

Oct 15 • 53:16

With cyber threats and ransomware on the rise globally, the Biden administration has enlisted America’s tech titans to help blunt their effects. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, are all in discussions with Washington over how to strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure defenses against a growing array of both private and state-sponsored attacks. Skeptics question just...

#195 - Should We Expand the Supreme Court?

Oct 1 • 53:16

Nine justices hold tremendous power. Advocates on the left see a Supreme Court out of touch with the electorate, obstructed by partisan interests, and rendered illegitimate by years of controversial appointments. But those opposed believe dramatically changing one of the three core pillars of American government would undermine the court’s legitimacy. ...

#194 - Is the United Nations Obsolete?

Sep 18 • 53:16

As world attention descends on the United Nations General Assembly, Intelligence Squared U.S. casts a critical lens on this nearly 76-year-old global organization. In light of recent controversies in places like Haiti, and its recent absence in places such as Afghanistan -- where the Taliban has regained control -- questions are mounting as to whether the United Nations it...

Agree to Disagree: Build Back Better

Sep 3 • 53:16

The Biden administration wants to spend big. Its $4.5 trillion "Build Back Better" plan includes hefty investments in infrastructure, unprecedented spending on the labor force, and funding for a host of Democratic policy priorities. But just what would this mean for the American economy?  As Washington takes up this historic plan, we ask: Should Congress spend trillions to...

Agree to Disagree COVID Series: Vaccine Mandates (Updated)

Aug 27 • 51:36

As more and more Americans become vaccinated, schools, employers, and health care facilities are facing a tough decision: Will they require students, employees, and care givers to get the jab? Those who say “yes” cite safety concerns – particularly when dealing with vulnerable populations – and call it a necessary step to return to normal. Those who say “no” argue these so...

Agree to Disagree: Leaving Afghanistan

Aug 21 • 53:16

The Taliban have won. Twenty years after the 2001 invasion, the U.S.-backed government in Kabul has fallen. The Afghan president has fled. Taliban leadership, which ran the country in the late 1990s, is now firmly in place within the presidential palace. But after two decades of war, tens of billions spent, hundreds of thousands of lives lost – including more than 2,300 U....

Debate Roundup: America's Guns

Aug 13 • 50:04

Gun violence is surging. Despite lockdowns and social distancing, 2020 ended up as one of America’s most violent years in decades. 2021 is following a similar path. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has laid out his strategy. In this special debate, we review three gun debates that still have relevance today. ...

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