Podcast

Intelligence Squared

Intelligence Squared is the world’s leading forum for debate and intelligent discussion. Live and online we take you to the heart of the issues that matter, in the company of some of the world’s sharpest minds and most exciting orators. Join the debate at www.intelligencesquared.com and download our weekly podcast every Friday.

Episodes

  • Julia Shaw and Rosamund Urwin on the Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side

    Apr 19 2019

    In this episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by Julia Shaw the psychologist and author of Making Evil, alongside Rosamund Urwin of the Sunday Times, in a wide-ranging exploration of evil — why do humans do and think bad things?

  • Thomas Friedman On The World In 2019

    Apr 12 2019

    Earlier this month we were joined by Thomas Friedman as he brought his wisdom and insight to the world’s current predicaments: How should the West respond to an emboldened China? How do we rebuild the global economy so that it creates prosperity for everyone, not just the few? And how, above all, should we handle the tectonic shifts – technological, demographic and political – that are reshaping our world today? 

  • Viral Sensation Rutger Bregman On How Utopian Ideas Can Become Reality

    Apr 05 2019

    This week's episode features Rutger Bregman, historian and author of Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There. In conversation with Helen Lewis, associate editor of the New Statesman, he discusses subjects ranging from Universal Basic Income, the benefits of the four-day working week, climate change, and his solutions for saving capitalism - plus his recent speech at Davos calling for higher taxes for the rich, a video of which went viral.

  • How I Found My Voice: Rose McGowan

    Mar 29 2019

    This week's episode is something a little different: an episode of Intelligence Squared's new podcast How I Found My Voice. How I Found My Voice is the podcast that explores how some of the world's greatest artists and thinkers became such compelling - and unique - communicators. Hosted by Samira Ahmed, guests include Rose McGowan, Adam Buxton, Philip Pullman, Katherine Ryan and Benjamin Zephaniah.In this week's episode, Samira Ahmed speaks to Hollywood actor and activist Rose McG...more

  • Nationalism is a Delusion: Our Futures Depend on Ever Closer Union

    Mar 22 2019

    This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast is a special episode produced by Intelligence Squared Germany in collaboration with the ECFR.Arguing for the motion "Nationalism is a Delusion: Our Futures Depend on Ever Closer Union" were Polish politician and journalist Radek Sikorski and Swiss political activist Flavia Kleiner.Against the motion were journalist and author Douglas Murray and German-Polish political scientist Aleksandra Rybińska.The debate was chaired by Josef Janning of ...more

  • Letters That Changed The World

    Mar 15 2019

    Following on from Intelligence Squared’s acclaimed events on great speeches and poetry, when Carey Mulligan, Simon Russell Beale, Helena Bonham Carter and other stars took to our stage, we now present Letters That Changed The World, based on award-winning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore’s new book Written in History: Letters that Changed the World. Joining him on stage were No 1 bestselling novelist Kate Mosse. Together they discussed letters by Michelangelo, Catherine the Great, Sara...more

  • On The Brink Of A No-Deal Brexit: The Town Hall Debate

    Mar 08 2019

    Britain is now facing one of the biggest constitutional crises in its history. As Brexit looms, Intelligence Squared staged a special town hall meeting with some of the country’s most prominent political leaders.We were joined on stage by former Conservative MP and UKIP MP Douglas Carswell; Conservative MP Kenneth Clarke; Director of UK in a Changing Europe Anand Menon; MP for North Antrim for the DUP Ian Paisley Jr; and Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips.The debate was chaired by th...more

  • China: Friend or Foe?

    Mar 01 2019

    Is China, with its unfair trade policies and shameless theft of intellectual property, an enemy that needs to be reined in? Or is it in the West’s best interests to view China as a strategic partner and aim for mutual respect and cooperation?We were joined by Beijing-born Professor of Economics at the LSE Keyu Jin; politician and former cabinet minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind; and Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator at the FT. The event was chaired by Carrie Gracie, BBC News Presenter and...more

  • Blame Liberals For the Rise of Populism

    Feb 22 2019

    Have the left’s policies of high immigration and multiculturalism caused the disaffection which has given rise to populism? Or is it the right, with its tabloid scare stories about foreigners eroding national identity?We were joined by Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics at Kent University; Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP for South East England; Elif Shafak, award-winning novelist; and John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, columnist and author. The discussion was chaired by BBC journalist a...more

  • David Wootton and Giles Fraser on the Philosophy of Profit, Power and Pleasure

    Feb 15 2019

    This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast features David Wootton, historian and author of Power, Pleasure, and Profit, in a wide-ranging conversation with the journalist and Anglican priest Giles Fraser. They examined the four centuries of Western thought — from Machiavelli to Madison — which led to the pursuit of success as the ultimate goal in today's society. 

  • The West Should Cut Ties With Saudi Arabia

    Feb 08 2019

    Should the West end its alliance with the Saudi regime? Or should we give its Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman a chance? In this Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by Mehdi Hasan, Madawi al-Rasheed, Mamoun Fandy, Crispin Blunt and Lyse Doucet.

  • Leonard Mlodinow and Rosamund Urwin on the Power of Elastic Thinking

    Feb 01 2019

    In this episode we were joined by Leonard Mlodinow, the theoretical physicist, Star Trek screenwriter and author of Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change in conversation with Sunday Times journalist Rosamund Urwin. In a wide-ranging discussion, they talked about the neuroscience of change, and how we can train our brains to be more comfortable with our rapidly changing world.

  • Germany Is Endangering European Stability

    Jan 25 2019

    This week's podcast comes from an event hosted by Intelligence Squared Germany, in collaboration with ECFR Berlin. Our panel of speakers, including representatives of the Five Star Movement, Fidesz and the ECFR asked: is Germany really the bastion of European stability that it likes to portray or is it actually the source of European fracture?Speaking for the motion were Deputy Minister for Education and Member of the Italian Parliament with the Five Star Movement Lorenzo Fioramonti and Hungaria...more

  • Bruce Daisley and Jamie Bartlett on Re-Envisioning the World of Work

    Jan 18 2019

    In this episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by Twitter's European VP and author of The Joy of Work Bruce Daisley and tech journalist Jamie Bartlett, for a wide-ranging conversation on how to to re-imagine the world of work and fall in love with our jobs again. 

  • Rachel Botsman and Helen Lewis on Technology and Trust

    Jan 11 2019

    In this episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by Rachel Botsman, world renowned trust expert, Oxford academic and author of Who Can You Trust? She was interviewed by Helen Lewis, associate editor of the New Statesman, for a wide-ranging conversation on our relationship with trust and how technology is radically rewriting the rules.

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan and Helen Lewis on How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

    Jan 04 2019

    In this episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by the cultural historian, media scholar and author of Antisocial Media Siva Vaidhyanathan in conversation with the New Statesman's Helen Lewis. In this wide-ranging discussion, they looked at how Facebook's went from an innocent social site into a force that poses major challenges to our democracy.

  • Bruno Maçães and Linda Yueh on the Chinese World Order

    Dec 28 2018

    In this episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by Bruno Maçães, the former Europe minister of Portugal, in conversation with Oxford economist and broadcaster Linda Yueh. They talked about China's Belt and Road strategy, widely acknowledged to be the most ambitious geopolitical initiative of the age. Covering almost seventy countries by land and sea, it will affect every element of global society, from shipping to agriculture, digital economy to tourism, politics to ...more

  • Mishal Husain and Martha Lane Fox on Careers, Life and Leadership

    Dec 21 2018

    Equal pay. Gender bias. Sexual harassment. A year on from the start of the #MeToo movement, conversations around these topics have exploded – and progress on many fronts can seem slow. Nearly 80 percent of British companies have a gender pay-gap; more than two thirds of MPs are male; and FTSE 100 companies are more likely to be led by a man called David than by a woman of any name.It is clear that new ideas and concrete actions are needed to redress gender inequality at work. Award-winning broad...more

  • LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman on Building a Billion-Dollar Business at Lightning Speed

    Dec 14 2018

    Some of the world’s most successful and powerful companies began as tiny startups and became global giants within only a few years. The list is long and includes world-changing companies like Amazon, Google, Airbnb, Facebook, Uber and Alibaba. But what are the secrets to these startups' extraordinarily rapid successes?According to Reid Hoffman, the man who founded LinkedIn, turned it into the world’s most important recruitment website and oversaw its sale to Microsoft for $26.2 billion, the...more

  • The Battle Over Free Speech: Are Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces and No-Platforming Harming Young Minds?

    Dec 07 2018

    Many would argue that these are the fundamental goals of a good education. So why has Cambridge University taken to warning its students that the sexual violence in Titus Andronicus might be traumatic for them? Why are other universities in America and increasingly in Britain introducing measures to protect students from speech and texts they might find harmful? Safe spaces, trigger warnings and no-platforming are now campus buzzwords – and they’re all designed to limit free speech and the excha...more

  • Bonus Episode - The Brexit Deal: Decision Time

    Dec 04 2018

    It’s a defining moment for British democracy. This December, Parliament will vote on whether to approve or reject Theresa May’s draft Brexit withdrawal agreement. With the nation’s future hanging in the balance, some have called this the greatest crisis Britain has faced since Suez.On Monday December 3rd, Intelligence Squared brought together three prominent lawmakers to debate the three options ahead. Should Parliament vote to accept May's deal? Should MPs vote it down, so the governm...more

  • Jeanne Marie Laskas and Bonnie Greer on Love, Hate, Anger, and Hope in the Obama Years

    Nov 30 2018

    In this episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast we had Jeanne Marie Laskas, the American professor, journalist and author of To Obama, looking back at the Obama presidency through the lens of tens of thousands of letters the President received every day from ordinary American citizens. Jeanne Marie was interviewed by the playwright, critic and broadcaster Bonnie Greer.  

  • Parenting Doesn't Matter (Or Not As Much As You Think)

    Nov 23 2018

    The multibillion-pound parenting industry tells us we can all shape our children to be joyful, resilient and successful. But what if it’s all bunk? Intelligence Squared are bringing together a panel of top geneticists and parenting experts to explore just how important parenting is.Arguing in favour of the motion are Robert Plomin, Psychologist and Professor of Behavioural Genetics at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London; and Stuart Ritchie, Lecturer ...more

  • Special episode with Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Director of Communications

    Nov 16 2018

    In this episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House Director of Communications for a whopping 11 days. He was interviewed by Josh Lowe, Deputy Editor of Apolitical, for a wide-ranging and often outrageous discussion on the Trump presidency this far. 

  • Kamal Ahmed and Razia Iqbal on Identity, Race and Prejudice

    Nov 09 2018

    This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast was a wide-ranging conversation about race and identity in Britain. In the studio we had Kamal Ahmed, BBC Editorial Director and author of The Life and Times of a Very British Man alongside the BBC News Presenter Razia Iqbal. 

  • Bonus Episode: The Impeachment Election? Trump, Mueller and the Fight for America

    Nov 06 2018

    Is this the last stand for American democracy? That’s what many of Donald Trump’s opponents believe. The upcoming US midterm election is the last chance to prevent the United States from becoming a truly authoritarian state. That fear has the Democrats campaigning hard. But the Republicans are scared too: If Democrats sweep the House and Senate, they could kill off Trump’s legislative agenda and gain new investigative powers to hit Trump hard over Russia, alleged obstruction of justice and the n...more

  • James Barr and Catherine Philp on the Secret British-American Rivalry in the Middle East

    Nov 02 2018

    In this week’s episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast, the historian and author of Lords of the Desert James Barr sat down with Times journalist Catherine Philp to reveal the the story of the hidden 25-year rivalry between Britain and the United States, using newly declassified records and long-forgotten memoirs.

  • Kate Raworth and Matthew Taylor on Rethinking Economics For The 21st Century

    Oct 26 2018

    In this week’s episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast, Oxford economist and author of Doughnut Economics Kate Raworth sat down with Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, to discuss her transformative ideas for a new economy. 

  • Mistaken Identities: The Conflict Over Culture, Class, Gender and Nation with Kwame Anthony Appiah and John Gray

    Oct 19 2018

    Race, religion and identity are being talked about as never before. While minority groups raise their voices for recognition and inclusion, others feel that their culture is being eroded. In these increasingly febrile times, Intelligence Squared brought together two of the world’s most prominent thinkers to debate the issues that are polarising our society.Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy at New York University, unpicked the very notion of identity. He argues that our outdated preju...more

  • Dickens vs Tolstoy: The Battle Of The Great 19th-century Novelists

    Oct 12 2018

    Dickens. Tolstoy. Their names and reputations shake the ground – and so do their books, if you drop one. They are the two greatest novelists from the century when novels were really great. Both captured their countries’ very souls and, as vastly influential social reformers, savagely criticised them as well. But whose legacy is more enduring? Whose vision truer and more relevant today? Should you embark on War and Peace or Our Mutual Friend? To battle it out, Intelligenc...more

  • Peter Biskind and Helen Lewis on Vampires, Zombies, X-Men and Political Extremism

    Oct 05 2018

    In this Intelligence Squared podcast we were joined by Peter Biskind, cultural critic and author of The Sky Is Falling, alongside the New Statesman's Helen Lewis, in an examination of how popular culture has fuelled extremism in our politics. 

  • Tristan Harris and Helen Lewis on how tech has hijacked our brains

    Sep 28 2018

    In this episode of Intelligence Squared we were joined by Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google in conversation with the New Statesman's Helen Lewis, as they discussed the threat that technology poses to society and our minds.

  • Mariana Mazzucato and Stella Creasy on Making and Taking in the Global Economy

    Sep 21 2018

    In this week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast, Mariana Mazzucato, UCL economics professor and author of The Value of Everything, sat down with the UK Labour MP Stella Creasy in a wide-ranging discussion of how real wealth is created in our economy. Mariana Mazzucato is Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.

  • Jeremy Corbyn Is Unfit To Be Prime Minister

    Sep 14 2018

    When Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership he was shrugged off as an unelectable oddball in a scruffy suit who would doom Labour to certain defeat. But last year’s shock election result forces us all to consider the real possibility of a Corbyn-led government – a prospect which has some jumping for joy and others quaking in their boots. Intelligence Squared is bringing together some of Britain’s top political minds to debate whether Corbyn is potentially the saviour of Britain’s downtrodden or...more

  • Linda Yueh and Jesse Norman on the Economists That Shaped History

    Sep 06 2018

    Linda Yueh, renowned economist, broadcaster and author of The Great Economists, in conversation with Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire and author of Adam Smith: What He Thought, and Why it Matters, discussed the transformative legacies of history's great economists, from Adam Smith to Karl Marx.

  • Tom Baldwin and Nina Schick on How the Information Age Crashed Our Democracy

    Aug 30 2018

    Tom Baldwin, former Director of Communications for the UK Labour Party under Ed Miliband and author of Ctrl Alt Delete, has spent the best part of three decades at the centre of politics and journalism. In a wide-ranging conversation with Nina Shick, Director of Data and Polling at Rasmussen Global, they explored the toxic relationship between today's politics, the media, and the new information age.

  • Tim Marshall in conversation with Catherine Philp on Why We're Living in an Age of Walls

    Aug 23 2018

    Tim Marshall, renowned journalist and author of Divided, in conversation with the Times diplomatic correspondent Catherine Philp, examine the fault lines that will shape our world for years to come. Walls are going up around the world. Nationalism and identity politics are on the rise once more. What are the causes of this new era of division? 

  • Jamie Susskind in conversation with Helen Lewis On How Tech Is Transforming Our Politics

    Aug 16 2018

    Jamie Susskind, author of Future Politics, in conversation with the New Statesman's Helen Lewis, discuss how digital technology will radically transform how we live together, exploring how the very concepts of democracy, liberty, justice and power could be fundamentally changed by tech.

  • James Bloodworth in conversation with Matthew Taylor on the Gig Economy and the Reality of Low-Wage Work

    Aug 09 2018

    Journalist James Bloodworth spent six months working undercover across Britain, taking on some of the country's most gruelling and menial jobs for his recent book Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain. In this Intelligence Squared podcast in conversation with the RSA's Matthew Taylor, he discussed his findings from Amazon's warehouses to the care industry to the taxicabs of Uber.

  • Tom Whipple in Conversation With Rosamund Urwin on Why Gender Still Matters

    Aug 02 2018

    Referencing the latest research on the science of sexuality, Tom Whipple talks about dating apps, Love Island, the relative testicle size of bonobos and chimpanzees, and gay penguins, to throw light on why men and women behave the way they do when it comes to love and sex.He was in conversation with Rosamund Urwin about his book X and WHY: The rules of attraction: why gender still matters. 

  • Blockchain: Quantum leap forward or digital snake oil?

    Jul 27 2018

    Blockchain, the technology on which Bitcoin is based, has gone mainstream. Evangelists describe it as a thrilling and versatile foundation that will revolutionise everything from finance to governance. But is it really the radical new paradigm its adherents claim?We were joined on stage by Jamie Bartlett, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on the politics and social influence of the internet; Primavera De Filippi, expert on the legal challenges and opportunities of blockchain technologies and auth...more

  • The Rise of the Smart City: Urban Wonderland or Fool’s Paradise?

    Jul 20 2018

    More humans than ever before live in cities. Technology is now being rolled out across the world’s urban areas, making day-to-day city living more pleasant, more efficient and more sustainable. For example, traffic flows are being improved by sensors that detect snarl-ups, allowing a central computer to coordinate traffic lights and even change the direction of a highway during rush hour – saving commuters time and lowering the pollution caused by stop-start congestion. Smart energy meters are a...more

  • The Battle for the Countryside: Britain Should Rewild its Uplands

    Jul 12 2018

    Imagine if swathes of the British countryside were allowed to be wild once again, if trees and rare plants could flourish and beavers, boars and white-tailed eagles could retake their place in the ecosystem. That’s the goal of the growing numbers of nature-lovers who support the idea of rewilding Britain’s uplands. We tend to think of these uplands as ‘wild’ and ‘natural’. But in fact, as the rewilders point out, they are entirely man-made, the result of clearances by man to make way for million...more

  • Mary Beard on Women and Power, with Miriam González and Laurie Penny

    Jul 05 2018

    Mary Beard is Britain’s best known classicist. Widely admired for her scholarship and popular television programmes about the ancient world, she is also one of this country’s most prominent feminists. By refusing to be cowed by the misogynistic trolls who have abused her on Twitter, she has become a heroine for our times.On June 7th Beard comes to the Intelligence Squared stage to talk about the themes of her No. 1 bestselling book Women and Power: A Manifesto. Examining misogyny’s dee...more

  • James Comey in Conversation with Emily Maitlis on Speaking Truth To Power

    Jun 29 2018

    When President Trump sacked James Comey as FBI Director in May last year, he ignited a political firestorm with huge implications for American democracy. Comey’s dismissal led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to look at possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — an investigation which may bring to light dark secrets about President Trump and his close associates. Now to mark the publication of his global bestseller, A Higher Loyalty, Comey came to ...more

  • The World Should Recognise Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

    Jun 22 2018

    Many of Israel's supporters, including Donald Trump, claim Jerusalem should be recognised as the country's capital city. After all, it has been the Jewish people's spiritual capital for millennia. But will recognising Jerusalem be the death blow for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? Arguing in favour of the motion "The World Should Recognise Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital" were Ehud Omert, former Israeli Prime Minister; and Natasha Hausdorff, barrister at Six Pump Court Chambers and a d...more

  • Anshel Pfeffer in conversation with Catherine Philp on Netanyahu and The Future of Israel

    Jun 14 2018

    This week's Intelligence Squared podcast features Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz journalist and author of Bibi - The Turbulent Life And Times Of Benjamin Netanyahu in conversation with Catherine Philp, diplomatic correspondent on The Times. In this in-depth podcast on the leadership and story of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they discuss the state of modern Israel and the future of the Middle East.

  • The Threat From Russia: Can Putin Be Stopped?

    Jun 07 2018

    Is Vladimir Putin the most powerful – and dangerous – man in the world? With Putin in the Kremlin, we have returned to an era where former Russian spies are mysteriously poisoned on British soil and where Russia feels emboldened to roll its tanks into an eastern European state. The Kremlin uses deadly force to wipe out opponents and stifle dissent at home, while overseas it props up Bashar al-Assad, the butcher of Damascus, who slaughters civilians with barrel bombs and chemical weapons. And tha...more

  • The Disunited States: Is the Trump presidency causing irreparable damage to America?

    May 31 2018

    America has never seen anything like this. Time and again, Donald Trump has attacked the very fabric of US democracy. He has called the press ‘the enemy of the American people’. He says that claims that Russia interfered in the US election are a hoax. And that the FBI - currently investigating his campaign - should be personally loyal to the president.And it’s not just political institutions Trump is damaging, his opponents say: in America he has stoked racial tension, coddled Wall Street and gi...more

  • Jordan Peterson on Gender, Patriarchy and the Slide Towards Tyranny

    May 23 2018

    In May 2018, we recorded a special episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast in London. Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, was joined by Anne McElvoy, Senior Editor at The Economist and head of Economist Radio, to discuss identity politics, liberalism and #MeToo.

  • Revere or Remove? The Battle Over Statues, Heritage and History

    May 17 2018

    Statues and memorials to famous figures of the past adorn our towns and cities. But what should be done when some of these figures have come to be seen by many people as controversial symbols of oppression and discrimination?In Britain, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign hit the headlines when it demanded the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oxford’s Oriel College, of which he was a leading benefactor, because of his colonialism. In the US, violent protests in Charlottesville were sparked b...more

  • The nuclear deal with Iran won't make the world a safer place

    May 10 2018

    For this week's episode we're revisiting our debate from November 2015, "The nuclear deal with Iran won't make the world a safer place".Alan Dershowitz, one of America’s most formidable and celebrated lawyers, and Emily Landau, one of Israel’s top nuclear proliferation experts, went head to head with senior politicians Norman Lamont and Jack Straw, both impassioned advocates of rapprochement with Iran.

  • Send Them Back: The Parthenon Marbles Should be Returned to Athens

    May 03 2018

    What’s all this nonsense about sending the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece? If Lord Elgin hadn’t rescued them from the Parthenon in Athens and presented them to the British Museum almost 200 years ago, these exquisite sculptures – the finest embodiment of the classical ideal of beauty and harmony – would have been lost to the ravages of pollution and time. So we have every right to keep them: indeed, returning them would set a dangerous precedent, setting off a clamour for every Egyptian mummy ...more

  • Jamie Bartlett in conversation with Helen Lewis on how the internet is threatening our freedoms

    Apr 26 2018

    This week's Intelligence Squared podcast features Jamie Bartlett, tech journalist and author of The People vs Tech in conversation with the New Statesman's Deputy Editor Helen Lewis. In this in-depth discussion on the politics of technology, they explored the addictive nature of social media and whether the tech giants are a threat to democracy.

  • Rembrandt Vs Vermeer: The Titans of Dutch Painting

    Apr 19 2018

    (For a list of all paintings referenced by Simon Schama and Tracy Chevalier in this debate please go to: https://www.intelligencesquared.com/events/rembrandt-vs-vermeer-titans-of-dutch-painting-simon-schama-tracy-chevalier/Rembrandt van Rijn is the best known of all the Dutch masters. His range was vast, from landscapes to portraits to Biblical scenes; he revolutionised every medium he handled, from oil paintings to etchings and drawings. His vision encompassed every element of life – the sleepi...more

  • Psychiatrists & the pharma industry are to blame for the current ‘epidemic’ of mental disorders

    Apr 12 2018

    Drug pushers. We tend to associate them with the bleak underworld of criminality. But some would argue that there’s another class of drug pushers, just as unscrupulous, who work in the highly respectable fields of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. And they deserve the same moral scrutiny that we apply to the drug pedlar on the street corner. Within the medical profession labels are increasingly being attached to everyday conditions previously thought to be beyond the remit of medical h...more

  • Hilton Als and Afua Hirsch on Race, Gender and Identity

    Apr 05 2018

    In March 2018, we recorded a special episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast at the Acast studio in east London. Pulitzer prize winning writer and chief theatre critic for The New Yorker Hilton Als was in conversation with Guardian columnist and author Afua Hirsch. In this wide ranging discussion, they talked about issues of race, gender, culture and identity, which were some of the themes explored in Als' recent book White Girls. Image © Brigitte Lacombe (2018)...more

  • Stop Brexit

    Mar 29 2018

    It’s time we came to to our senses. Brexit is a disaster and must be stopped. Leave campaigners promised our exit from the European Union would herald a glorious new era – the sunlit uplands of ‘global Britain’, with new trade deals signed in a matter of months and an extra £350 million per week for the NHS. But what do we have today? Sterling has collapsed, Boris has been busy bungling in Brussels, and the government’s own leaked economic assessments show that leaving the EU will harm every sin...more

  • If You Believe You Are a Citizen of the World, You Are A Citizen of Nowhere

    Mar 23 2018

    When Theresa May uttered these words at the Tory party conference in 2016, there was uproar. May was targeting the liberal establishment, who flit business class from Mayfair to Monaco, from Davos to Doha; those in positions of power, who, as May put it, ‘behave as though they have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road’.But many people who don’t fit in this frequent flyer category felt under attack too. For this group, believing you are a citizen of the worl...more

  • Disruption Ahead: Will Future Transport Systems Benefit Society Or Drive It Apart?

    Mar 16 2018

    A transport revolution in our cities is under way. Ride-sharing schemes, driverless cars and electric vehicles look set to bring us all kinds of benefits, such as lower pollution, faster flowing traffic and fewer accidents.But these benefits won’t just fall into our laps. What will we have to do to ensure that we reap the rewards of these changes and avoid potential pitfalls? Will technological change bring us closer together as a society or drive us further apart? Will we the consumers be the o...more

  • The Power of Poetry, with William Sieghart, Jeanette Winterson and Helena Bonham Carter

    Mar 09 2018

    For 15 years, the power of the spoken word has been at the heart of Intelligence Squared’s mission. Argument and debate, we believe, can move, persuade and create real change. Now, in these anxious and divided times, we held a special event that celebrated the positive, transformative force of another kind of spoken word – poetry.William Sieghart told the extraordinary story of his bestselling book, The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul. Th...more

  • Western Parents Don't Know How to Bring Up Their Children

    Mar 02 2018

    Why are there so many Chinese maths and music prodigies? Because Chinese mothers believe schoolwork and music practice come first, that an A-minus is a bad grade, that sleepovers, TV and computer games should never be allowed and that the only activity their children should be permitted to do are ones in which they can eventually win a medal - and that medal must be gold.These methods certainly seem to get results but do they make for the rounded individuals Western parents are striving to bring...more

  • The Left has right on its side

    Feb 23 2018

    Letís be honest. Itís the political Left that has societyís best interests at heart, that works for the good of all. It has always been the Left that has struggled to protect the weak from the strong, that has fought for workersí rights, for sexual and racial equality, for the welfare state. It is the Left that now challenges abuses of power by corporations and financial institutions. And it is the Left that seeks to build a world based on mutual respect, not individualistic self-seeking. It is ...more

  • James Rhodes And Armando Iannucci on the Transformative Power of Music

    Feb 16 2018

    In February 2018 Intelligence Squared brought Armando Iannucci and James Rhodes to our stage to discuss the transcendent power of music. Rhodes is known as the wild man of concert pianists. His approach to the piano is raw and unbridled, his tousled hair a whirl, his hands a blur over the keyboard – the diametric opposite to the composed figure in white tie and tails of classical music convention. He is as likely to play the Latitude pop music festival as the Albert Hall. His know...more

  • Ten Years On: The Financial Crisis and the State of Modern Capitalism

    Feb 09 2018

    It’s been ten years since we saw suddenly unemployed Lehman Brothers bankers carrying their possessions out of their offices in boxes; since whole neighbourhoods in suburban America turned into empty ghost towns; since the British and American governments pumped trillions into the banking system, saving some institutions and abandoning others. The crash of 2008 and 2009 shook the very foundations of modern capitalism.So where are we today? Although we may have been spared a second Great Depressi...more

  • Karen Armstrong on Religion and the History of Violence

    Feb 02 2018

    Karen Armstrong has written over 16 books on faith and the major religions, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and how our faiths have shaped world history and drive current events.She came to the Intelligence Squared stage to talk about her forthcoming book 'Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence'. Journeying from prehistoric times to the present, she contrasted medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus’ visio...more

  • Brian Cox and Alice Roberts on the Incredible Unlikeliness of Human Existence

    Jan 26 2018

    Who are we? Why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? How did we become the creatures that we are? How might we further evolve?These are some of the big questions that Brian Cox and Alice Roberts tackled when they came to the Intelligence Squared stage in December. Brian Cox is the rockstar who became a scientist, and is now a rockstar scientist. He is known to millions as the presenter of the BBC Wonders series in which he unravels the complexities of the universe with calm clarity and an ...more

  • Break Up The Tech Giants

    Jan 19 2018

    It is time to call the tech companies to account. In the space of just ten years, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have become the biggest companies on the planet and have accrued a level of power that threatens us all. They control our data, warp our democratic discourse, and exert increasing dominance over our markets. No wonder we are in the middle of a long-awaited ‘techlash’ against the technology giants. Look at the EU’s recent crackdown on tax avoidance by Amazon and Apple, o...more

  • Caitlyn Jenner on Identity and Self-Realisation

    Jan 12 2018

    This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast was recorded in a studio in London's Soho. We were joined by Caitlyn Jenner, the world's most famous transgender woman, as she talked with the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland about US politics, Caitlyn's fascinating personal journey and the recent revolution in how people think and talk about gender and sexuality.

  • David Brooks on the Road to Character

    Jan 05 2018

    In May 2015, New York Times columnist David Brooks came to the Intelligence Squared stage to share the insights of his latest book, 'The Road to Character'. Brooks argued that today’s ‘Big Me’ culture is making us increasingly self-preoccupied: we live in a world where we’re taught to be assertive, to master skills, to broadcast our brand, to get likes, to get followers. But amidst all the noise of self-promotion, Brooks claimed that we’ve lost sight of an important and counterintuitive truth: t...more

  • Inside The Head Of Terry Gilliam

    Dec 29 2017

    Terry Gilliam is one of the most multifaceted, visionary talents alive. He first found fame as a member of Monty Python, the surreal comedy troupe that has had a cult following since its inception in 1969 right up to today. Had Gilliam stopped there, his artistic immortality would have been guaranteed. But over the decades his talent has rampaged across different genres – comedy, opera and above all cinema. He ranks among the tiny handful of film directors the world’s leading actors will drop ev...more

  • Joseph Stiglitz on the Great Divide

    Dec 22 2017

    Inequality is an increasing problem in the Western world, leaving everyone – the rich as well as the poor – worse off. The dream of a socially mobile society is becoming an ever more unachievable myth. That’s the view of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who came to the Intelligence Squared stage for a rare London appearance on May 20th. Stiglitz argued that inequality is not inevitable but a choice – the cumulative result of unjust policies and misguided priorities.Stiglitz was joi...more

  • Stephen Fry and Friends on the Life, Loves and Hates of Christopher Hitchens

    Dec 15 2017

    In this historic event, Stephen Fry and other friends of Christopher Hitchens came together to celebrate the life and work of this great writer, iconoclast and debater. Fry was joined on stage at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall by Richard Dawkins and the two discussed Hitch's unflinching commitment to the truth. Hollywood actor Sean Penn was beamed in from LA by Google+ and, between cigarette puffs, read from Hitch's acclaimed work, 'The Trial of Henry Kissinger'. Five friends of Hitc...more

  • Words that Changed The World, with Jeremy Irons and Carey Mulligan

    Dec 08 2017

    For 15 years, Intelligence Squared has vigorously championed the spoken word. The finest speakers from across the globe have come to our stage — to argue, to move, to persuade and change minds. Their speeches epitomise the vital role that public speaking plays in our lives. To celebrate the power of oratory, we held a major event which will showcase how great speeches have swayed the course of history and demonstrate how, more than ever, we need them to help define our values and who we are.Bara...more

  • Brave New World vs Ninety Eighty-Four

    Dec 01 2017

    Dystopian books and films are in the zeitgeist. Reflecting the often dark mood of our times, Intelligence Squared are staging a contest between two of the greatest dystopian novels, Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Each book captured the nightmares of the 1930s and 40s. But which vision looks more prescient to us now in the 21st century? Are we living in George Orwell’s sinister surveillance state? Or in Aldous Huxley’s vapid consumerist culture? To battle it out, we are ...more

  • Michael Lewis On How Behavioural Economics Changed The World

    Nov 24 2017

    Michael Lewis is one of the most successful non-fiction authors alive. He has been acclaimed as a genius by Malcolm Gladwell and as the best current writer in America by Tom Wolfe. In a series of titles that have sold 9 million copies worldwide, he has lifted the lid on the biggest stories of our times, enthralling readers with his knack for humanising complex subjects and giving them the page-turning urgency of the best thrillers. Liar's Poker is the cult classic that defined Wal...more

  • Jaron Lanier on the Future of Our Digital Lives

    Nov 17 2017

    Jaron Lanier is one of the foremost digital visionaries of our times. One of Silicon Valley’s key early innovators, this dreadlocked digital prophet has been dubbed the ‘father of virtual reality’ and named as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.A former goatherd and midwife, and a virtuoso player of rare instruments, Lanier is sometimes called the ‘alternative Steve Jobs’. Neither a tech optimist nor a doom-monger, he is unique for always seeing the opportunities of...more

  • Neville Chamberlain did the right thing: Appeasement of Hitler was the best policy for the British government in the 1930s

    Nov 10 2017

    If ever a politician got a bum rap it’s Neville Chamberlain. He has gone down in history as the British prime minster whose policy of appeasement in the 1930s allowed the Nazis to flourish unopposed. He has never been forgiven for ceding part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in the Munich Agreement of September 1938, and for returning home triumphantly declaring “peace for our time”. The very word “appeasement” is now synonymous with him, signifying a craven refusal to stand up to bullies and aggress...more

  • Me, My Selfie and I: Self-Expression in the Digital Age

    Nov 03 2017

    We are living in the age of selfie mania. Everyone from the Pope to Obama has appeared in one. In the past, only a handful of people were able to propagate their own images, whether it was artists like Rembrandt or Van Gogh painting self-portraits, society beauties commissioning fashionable artists to create a flattering likeness of themselves to be admired by a select few. But now, the smartphone has democratised visual self-expression. The instant transferability of photos to social media and ...more

  • Warfare: The New Rules - The Cyber Threat to States, Businesses and All of Us

    Oct 26 2017

    We are at war: cyberwar. Cyber attacks are becoming the weapon of choice for states, terrorists and criminal organisations. Through the fragile, interconnected structure of the web, anything can be hacked – from national infrastructure to an individual’s identity. The recent worldwide Ransomware epidemic, for example, affected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, targeting individuals and global companies including Fedex. The nightmare scenario of an entire city’s physical infrastructur...more

  • Oslo: Can We Bring Peace Between Enemies?

    Oct 19 2017

    On October 17th Intelligence Squared staged a pre-theatre discussion, ‘Can We Bring Peace Between Enemies?’ before a performance of the award-winning play Oslo. The play is a political thriller which tells the true story of two maverick Norwegian diplomats who coordinated top secret talks culminating in the groundbreaking Oslo Peace Accords. The discussion took place at the Harold Pinter theatre, and brought together James Rubin, former Assistant Secretary of State for the US State Department, W...more

  • Niall Ferguson on History's Hidden Networks

    Oct 12 2017

    Have historians misunderstood everything? Have they missed the single greatest idea that best explains the past? Niall Ferguson is the preeminent historian of the ideas that define our time. He has challenged how we think about money, power, civilisation and empires. Now he wants to reimagine history itself. On October 4th, Ferguson came to the Intelligence Squared stage to unveil his new book, 'The Square and The Tower'. Historians have always focused on hierarchies, he argued – on the elites t...more

  • Randall Munroe with Marcus du Sautoy on Making the Complicated Simple

    Oct 05 2017

    On 2nd October, Intelligence Squared brought together two of the world’s best-loved masters of explaining and popularising science, who lifted the lid on the technology we love and on the cutting edge of current scientific research. Randall Munroe is a physicist who once built robots for NASA. His webcomic xkcd uses simple cartoons and diagrams to make science funny, touching and incredibly clear. It gets a billion hits a year. In his latest series, Munroe has simplified the workings behind ever...more

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on hitting refresh and seizing the opportunity of the digital revolution

    Sep 28 2017

    Satya Nadella is one of the world’s most inspirational business leaders, as much a humanist as a technologist and executive. On September 28th, he comes to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his personal journey from a childhood in India to becoming CEO of Microsoft, the culture change that he has driven inside his legendary technology company, and the transformation that is coming to all our lives as we face the most disruptive wave of technology humankind has experienced: artificial int...more

  • Napoleon the Great? A debate with Andrew Roberts, Adam Zamoyski and Jeremy Paxman

    Sep 21 2017

    How should we remember Napoleon, the man of obscure Corsican birth who rose to become emperor of the French and briefly master of Europe? In 2014, as the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo approached, Intelligence Squared brought together two of Britain’s finest historians to debate how we should assess Napoleon’s life and legacy. Was he a military genius and father of the French state, or a blundering nonentity who created his own enduring myth? Was his goal of uniting the European con...more

  • The Great Realignment: Britain's Political Identity Crisis

    Sep 14 2017

    Is Britain facing an identity crisis? The traditional dividing lines of left and right seem to be dissolving into new political tribes – metropolitan liberals versus the culturally rooted working classes, graduates versus the uneducated, the young versus the old. In June's general election, traditional Labour heartlands like Mansfield went Conservative, while wealthy areas such as Kensington swung to Corbyn. Britain seems utterly confused about its politics. As the far left and Eurosceptic right...more

  • Sam Harris on the Science of Good and Evil

    Sep 07 2017

    Where do our ideas about morality and meaning come from? Most people - from religious extremists to secular scientists - would agree on one point: that science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, science's failure to explain meaning and morality has become the primary justification for religious faith and the reason why even many non-believers feel obliged to accord respect to the beliefs of the devout. In this podcast, recorded at our event in April 2011, Sam Harris, the ...more

  • Is London too rich to be interesting?

    Aug 31 2017

    It used to be so easy. You left university, came to London and got yourself a flatshare in one of the cheaper areas: Notting Hill, Maida Vale or Highgate. Living was cheap and if it took you a while to find out what you really wanted to do with your life you could drift about a bit and get by. But now thanks to vast City bonuses and the influx of foreign billionaires, London house prices have soared beyond the reach of all but the seriously rich. Parts of Notting Hill and Kensington have become ...more

  • Atheism is the new Fundamentalism, with Richard Dawkins and Richard Harries

    Aug 24 2017

    Does God exist? Has atheism replaced religion as the new faith of the secular age? Are today's atheists as blinkered and dogmatic as they claim religious believers to be? This Intelligence Squared debate from November 2009 was recorded at Wellington College. Arguing for the motion were former Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries and Editor of the Daily Telegraph Charles Moore. Arguing against the motion were evolutionary biologist and science author Richard Dawkins and philospher AC Grayling. The de...more

  • The Elders in conversation with Jon Snow (Pres. Jimmy Carter, Archbp. Desmond Tutu & Mary Robinson)

    Aug 17 2017

    Independent, free now from the constraints of office, with a wealth of experience and the ability to open doors at the highest level, The Elders are helping tackle some of the world's most intractable problems. Brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, The Elders use their collective experience and influence to promote peace, justice and human rights worldwide, using private advocacy and public diplomacy. They include the former holders of some of the world's most important and demanding posts...more

  • The Allied bombing of German cities in World War II was unjustifiable

    Aug 10 2017

    No one doubts the bravery of the thousands of men who flew and died in Bomber Command. The death rate was an appalling 44%. And yet until the opening of a monument in Green Park in 2012 they had received no official recognition, with many historians claiming that the offensive was immoral and unjustified. How can it be right, they argue, for the Allies to have deliberately targeted German cities causing the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians? Even on a strategic level the offensive fail...more

  • Britain Should Not Have Fought in the First World War

    Aug 04 2017

    The First World War is not called the Great War for nothing. It was the single most decisive event in modern history, as well as one of the bloodiest: by the time the war ended, some nine million soldiers had been killed. It was also a historical full stop, marking the definitive end of the Victorian era and the advent of a new age of uncertainty. By 1918, the old order had fallen: the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia; the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires had been destroyed; and...more

  • Marina Abramović on art, performance, time and nothingness

    Jul 27 2017

    Marina Abramović is the most celebrated performance artist in the world. Over a career spanning four decades she has pioneered performance as an art form and accumulated a devoted following that includes Jay-Z and Lady Gaga. Using her body as both subject and object, Abramović explores notions of nothingness and time, and draws in the audience as part of her performance. At her 2010 exhibition, ‘The Artist is Present’, at New York’s MOMA visitors were invited to sit silently opposite her and ga...more

  • The EU is Failing Europe's Citizens

    Jul 20 2017

    In the eyes of pro-Europeans, the founding of the EU after WWII secured peace across the continent for decades. But one needn’t look further than Brexit to see that the EU is teetering on the edge. By showing itself blind to the concerns of ordinary people and incapable of reform, has the European Union failed its citizens? Or should we ignore the doomsayers and march ahead with more European integration? Listen to the arguments from our inaugural Intelligence Squared debate in Berlin.

  • Francis Fukuyama with David Runciman - Democracy: Even the Best Ideas Can Fail

    Jul 13 2017

    In September 2014, Professor Francis Fukuyama came to the Intelligence Squared stage to square up with one of Britain’s most brilliant political thinkers, David Runciman, to assess how democracy is faring in 2014. We certainly haven’t attained the rosy future that some thought Fukuyama was predicting in his book 'The End of History and The Last Man' in 1992: authoritarianism is entrenched in Russia and China, in the last decade the developed democracies have experienced severe financial crises a...more

  • Naomi Klein on Donald Trump and the new shock politics

    Jul 06 2017

    Earlier this week we recorded a special episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast at the Acast studio in east London. We were joined by author and activist Naomi Klein and BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed as they discussed Klein's bestselling new book 'No Is Not Enough'. In this wide-ranging discussion, Klein sets out her view of Trump as the ultimate megabrand. To her, Trump’s presidency is not an aberration – it's the culmination of recent political trends and amounts to nothing less than a ...more

  • Sheryl Sandberg, Malala Yousafzai and Adam Grant on Facing Adversity, Building Resilience And Finding Joy

    Jun 29 2017

    ‘I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface and breathe again.’ – Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandberg is the COO at Facebook and international bestselling author of 'Lean In'. In 2015 disaster struck when her husband, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly at the age of 47. Sheryl and her two young children were devastated, and she was certain that their lives would never have real joy ...more

  • Daniel Dennett on Tools To Transform Our Thinking

    Jun 22 2017

    Daniel Dennett is one of the world's most original and provocative thinkers. A philosopher and cognitive scientist, he is known as one of the 'Four Horseman of New Atheism' along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. In 2013 he came to Intelligence Squared to share the insights he has acquired over his 40-year career into the nature of how we think, decide and act. Dennett revealed his favourite thinking tools, or 'intuition pumps', that he and others have develope...more

  • It's time to bring Russia in from the cold: Rapprochement is in the West's best interests

    Jun 15 2017

    Is it in the West’s interests to bring Russia in from the cold? Or should we be on our guard against an ascendant, belligerent country on Europe’s borders? For this major debate, Intelligence Squared put together a stellar line-up. Making the case for rapprochement with Russia was Vladimir Pozner, one of Russia’s best known television journalists and a former advocate for the Soviet Union, and Domitilla Sagramoso, a leading expert on security in Russia; arguing against them were Michael Hayden,...more

  • Europe on the Edge

    Jun 08 2017

    What’s happening to Europe? The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was seen as a triumph for liberal democracy. True, the ‘end of history’ narrative didn’t play out across the world as many predicted. But in Europe political liberalism seemed unshakable, supported as it was by international business and transnational organisations such as the EU and NATO. But now Europe stands at a precarious moment. Anti-establishment and anti-EU political parties are on the rise. Brexit and the presidency of Don...more

  • Can innovation transform London into a carbon neutral city?

    Jun 01 2017

    Could London be the first carbon neutral city? Listen to this exciting debate hosted by Intelligence Squared. Gadget guru Jason Bradbury is the chair, plus guests including award winning actor and broadcaster Richard Ayoade.

  • Fake News: The Facts

    May 25 2017

    There are lies, damn lies, and then there’s fake news. Manipulating the facts for political gain is as old as politics itself, but due to the rise of social media and search engine algorithms false stories can now spread like wildfire. In the run-up to the US presidential election, more people on Facebook engaged with fake news than they did with fact-checked media outlets. And according to a study by Stanford University, fabricated news items favouring Donald Trump were shared 30 million times ...more

  • How to Think Like a Freak: Learn How to Make Smarter Decisions with the authors of "Freakonomics"

    May 18 2017

    The books 'Freakonomics' and 'SuperFreakonomics' have been worldwide sensations, selling tens of millions of copies. They have come to stand for challenging conventional wisdom using data rather than emotion. Questions they examine are typically: Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? How much do parents really matter? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it’s so ineffective? Now the books’ two authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, have turned what they’ve learned i...more

  • Between You and I The English Language Is Going To The Dogs

    May 11 2017

    Speaking and writing correct English are the hallmark of an intelligent person. No one who cares about language wants to be caught splitting an infinitive or muddling up ‘infer’ and ‘imply’. Which is why the bestseller lists are regularly topped by books on 'good' English by the likes of Daily Mail polemicist Simon Heffer and Today programme presenter John Humphrys - both of whom defend the motion in this debate from 5th March 2014. Taking them on were Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambr...more

  • An Evening with Slavoj Žižek

    May 04 2017

    Radical philosopher, polymath, film star, cult icon, and author of over 30 books, Slavoj Žižek is one of the most controversial and leading contemporary public intellectuals, simultaneously acclaimed as the ‘Elvis of cultural theory’ and denounced as ‘the most dangerous philosopher in the West’. In this special lecture for Intelligence Squared from July 2011, Žižek argues that global capitalism is fast approaching its terminal crisis and that our collective responses to economic Armageddon corr...more

  • Trump is Making America Great Again

    Apr 27 2017

    As Donald Trump approaches the first 100 days of his presidency, things couldn’t be worse. His administration has been more gaffe-prone, incompetent and unstable than any other in American history. Trump has been engulfed in a scandal over his campaign’s links to Russia, his first choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign within weeks, and other senior officials remain under investigation for dodgy dealings with the Kremlin. And what of Trump’s key policies? Despi...more

  • Anne-Marie Slaughter on Our Hyper-Networked World

    Apr 20 2017

    Anne-Marie Slaughter is one of the world’s top foreign policy thinkers, admired by influential global leaders such as Joe Biden, Condoleeza Rice and Eric Schmidt. A former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton in the State Department, she hit the headlines in 2012 when she published an article in The Atlantic called ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All’. The piece went viral and sparked off a massive debate about the future of work-life balance. But long before this, Slaughter was hailed in political...more

  • Has the Political Establishment Failed America?

    Apr 13 2017

    Has the political establishment failed America? Whether they voted for Trump or Sanders or none of the above, millions of Americans say the answer is yes – and that the system benefits the elites at the expense of everyone else. Others say that despite its flaws, the political establishment has been a force for unparalleled stability, prosperity and equality — and that it is now the only thing standing between America and the abyss. Is it time for the old guard to come to the rescue or to make w...more

  • Whose Prosperity? How Can We Build Inclusive and Sustainable Economies?

    Apr 06 2017

    A debate on the eve of the Second PAGE Ministerial Conference (http://bit.ly/2jhYyaX). Filmed at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) in Berlin on March 26th 2017. Globalisation has created wealth across the world, lifting hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty. But has too much of the wealth ended up in the hands of too few? How can our model for globalisation be reconfigured to promote more equal, stable economies which do not ...more

  • Social Media is Killing Art

    Mar 30 2017

    Social media is like fast food – rapidly consumed for instant gratification. No wonder social media demeans art. Artworks that instantly seduce online become tedious when contemplated over time in the flesh. Once art goes viral, it gains traction, particularly in the market, and becomes unjustifiably acclaimed. Museums may be keen to reach new audiences, but can great masterpieces really be appreciated on the miniature canvas of your mobile phone screen? Shrink art and you shrink its power – no...more

  • Niall Ferguson On The Six Killer Apps Of Western Civilisation

    Mar 24 2017

    Niall Ferguson is the most brilliant British historian of his generation. In this talk from February 2011, based on his book 'Civilisation: The West and the Rest', he asks how Western civilization came to dominate the rest of the world. His answer is that the West developed six “killer applications” that the Rest lacked: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the Protestant work ethic. The key question today is whether or not the West has lost its monopoly on these six thin...more

  • Don’t give them what they want: Terrorists should be starved of the oxygen of publicity

    Mar 17 2017

    Why do they do it? Again and again, after every attack, our media react by giving the terrorists exactly what they want – maximum publicity. Of course, the public should be told that an atrocity has taken place. But each attack dominates the news for days at a stretch. The TV networks go into overdrive, flying out their journalists to the scene of the attack and saturating their airtime. All this plays into the hands of terrorist organisations, allowing their killers to be glorified in the eyes ...more

  • Feminism Is For Everyone

    Mar 10 2017

    A year ago, you could have been forgiven for thinking that gender equality was on an unstoppable trajectory. America stood poised to elect its first female president. On this side of the Atlantic, members of the political and cultural establishment proudly sported ‘This Is What a Feminist Looks Like’ T-shirts. Had you told a Hillary Clinton supporter or one of those T-shirt campaigners that a year later the US president would be Donald Trump, a man with an abysmal record of sexually harassing wo...more

  • Jeffrey Sachs on America and a New World Order

    Mar 03 2017

    'America first!' Donald Trump hammered out this message over and again in his inauguration speech a week ago today. He promised tariffs, a crackdown on immigration, and a restoration of American military might. He entered the White House as the least popular incoming president in 40 years. Not every liberal thinker, however, is in a state of despair. Jeffrey Sachs was recently ranked by The Economist as one of the world’s most influential political scientists. No Trump supporter himself, he cam...more

  • Daniel Dennett on the Evolution of the Mind, Consciousness and AI

    Feb 24 2017

    How come there are conscious minds? How do language and culture evolve? Should we still teach children things which computers can do better? Will our smart electronic devices rob us of our intelligence? Will human intelligence and AI co-evolve? These are some of the intriguing questions that Daniel Dennett, one of the most influential and provocative thinkers of modern times, sought to answer when he came to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his lifetime’s work on the evolution of the h...more

  • The Bittersweet Truth About What We Eat

    Feb 17 2017

    What should we be eating to live a long and healthy life? How is it that some people can eat absolutely anything and stay slim, while others on a ‘healthy’ diet get fat? Why is it that Cubans are much healthier than Americans, despite eating on average twice the amount of sugar? To unpack the truth behind the often confusing information about the food we eat, Intelligence Squared brought together some of the world’s leading experts on the science of human nutrition and health. Sugar has rece...more

  • Steven Pinker on Good Writing, with Ian McEwan

    Feb 10 2017

    Steven Pinker is one of the world’s leading authorities on language, mind and human nature. A professor of psychology at Harvard, he is the bestselling author of eight books and regularly appears in lists of the world’s top 100 thinkers. In 2014 he returned to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his latest publication 'The Sense of Style', a short and entertaining writing guide for the 21st century. Pinker argued that bad writing can’t be blamed on the internet, or on “the kids today”. Go...more

  • Queen Elizabeth I vs Queen Victoria

    Feb 03 2017

    Intelligence Squared’s historical and cultural combat events have been thrilling our audiences with their unique blend of entertainment, information and live performance. Here we present the battle of the queens. Both Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria set their stamp firmly on their era but which was the greater monarch? On one side stood Philippa Gregory, bestselling author of the Tudor Court series of novels. She made the case for Elizabeth I, with widely acclaimed actor Fiona Shaw bringin...more

  • Thomas Friedman on Thriving in the Age of Acceleration

    Jan 27 2017

    He has been called ‘the most influential columnist in America’, and is read by everyone from small-business owners to President Obama. As a star columnist of The New York Times, Thomas Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times. Although he has been dubbed ‘the high priest of globalisation’, Friedman is well aware that it is the tensions created by globalisation which have paved the way for the election of Donald Trump. Nevertheless, when he comes to the Intelligence Squared stage, Friedman...more

  • The New Optimism, with Matt Ridley, Johan Norberg, David Runciman and Laura Kuenssberg

    Jan 20 2017

    Are you an optimist or a pessimist? And why should it matter? After what for many of us has been an annus horribilis in 2016, pessimists seem to have all the best tunes. Terror attacks, horror headlines from Syria, a tide of hatred and resentment poisoning our politics: the world looks increasingly grim. But what about the actual facts? If you step back and examine the data, it’s clear that life is better today for the majority of people than at any previous time in history. And we’re not just t...more

  • Steven Pinker on The Better Angels of Our Nature

    Jan 13 2017

    In 2011, we welcomed world renowned American cognitive scientist Steven Pinker to the Intelligence Squared stage. He argued that, contrary to popular belief, we are living in the least violent period of history, and that even the horrific carnage of the last century, compared to primitive societies, is part of this trend. Pinker claimed that, thanks to the spread of government, literacy and trade, we are actually becoming better people. He was in conversation with Matt Ridley, One of the UK’s mo...more

  • The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Cannot Rock the Boardroom

    Jan 06 2017

    Is it a myth that women can have it all, all of the time? Or do the rising numbers of female executives in Hong Kong and around the world suggest otherwise? Does the glass ceiling exist as a barrier to the boardroom, or is the only limitation to a woman’s professional success her personal ambition? To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, Intelligence Squared Asia brought together four experts to ask whether a good mother has time to be a good CEO. In this debate, which took place in Ho...more

  • William Gibson on 'Zero History', with Cory Doctorow

    Dec 30 2016

    On 5th October 2010, Intelligence Squared paired author William Gibson with popular blogger and science fiction writer Cory Doctorow in a wide-ranging conversation that gives a fascinating insight into the mind of the man heralded as the "architect of cool".

  • Dan Pink on the Science of Buoyancy

    Dec 23 2016

    It happens to all of us every day. You get rejected. Your customer doesn’t buy. Your boss doesn’t agree. Your crush doesn’t say yes. In this provocative and entertaining talk, exclusive to Intelligence Squared, American author Daniel H. Pink harvested a rich trove of social science to explain the theory and practice of bouncing back. He showed why questioning your abilities is often more effective than affirming them; why being positive (but not too positive) can improve your performance; and ho...more

  • Tim Harford on the Importance of Being Messy

    Dec 16 2016

    Have the forces of tidiness marched too far? Would we all benefit from being a bit messy? That’s the big question that the FT’s star economist Tim Harford will be asking in this exclusive Intelligence Squared event. In Harford’s view, we need to be tidy up to a point. But in some areas of life, too much order makes things rigid, fragile and sterile. Take the office, where research shows that people are more productive and creative if they are allowed to surround themselves with a bit of clutter....more

  • Trump: An American Tragedy?

    Dec 09 2016

    It’s one month since we woke up to the shock news that the next president of the United States will be Donald Trump, and the whole world is trying to read the runes and work out what the next four years will hold for America and the rest of the world. Many are decrying Trump’s election as the end of democracy and the beginning of fascism. Others, observing that he is already watering down many of his more extreme threats, are willing to see a silver lining in at least some of his avowed policie...more

  • Ian Fleming vs John le Carré

    Dec 02 2016

    They are the titans of the spy novel, who have elevated thrillers to the level of literary fiction. Much imitated, much adapted by the big and small screens, Ian Fleming and John Le Carré have painted our picture of post-war espionage: Fleming through the dashing figure of James Bond, with his lush locations and Martinis as icy as his heart; Le Carré through his damning portrait of the British secret service drawn from his own time in MI5 and MI6. But which of the two novelists is the greater? ...more

  • The Rise of Populism and the Backlash Against the Elites, with Jonathan Haidt and Nick Clegg

    Nov 25 2016

    What is going on in the Western democracies? From Britain’s vote for Brexit, to Donald Trump’s election victory in America and the growth of populist movements across Europe, voters are expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Economic anxieties go some way to explain the phenomenon, but as with the Brexit decision, people are voting in ways that seem – at least to their critics – likely to harm their own material interests just to give the establishment a bloody nose. In this speci...more

  • No Backsliding On Brexit: Britain Should Prioritise Controlling Its Borders Over Staying In The European Single Market

    Nov 18 2016

    Intelligence Squared brought out the big guns for our debate on what a post-referendum deal between Britain and the EU should look like. Douglas Carswell, Patrick Minford, Anna Soubry and Alexander Stubb did battle over this all-important decision, and star BBC World News presenter Zeinab Badawi was in the chair. So-called ‘hard Brexiters’ like Douglas Carswell are adamant that Britain must regain its status as a sovereign nation with full control of its borders, laws, money and trade. Anything ...more

  • One size doesn’t fit all: Democracy is not always the best form of government

    Nov 11 2016

    Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. So said Winston Churchill and who would disagree? One man, one vote, the rule of law, equality and a free press. These are the Enlightenment principles the West has developed over the centuries and fought tooth and nail in countless wars to preserve or to propagate. But is the assumption that democracy always leads to a more liberal and tolerant society correct? Many would argue that it can lead to quite illib...more

  • Let Them Eat Meat: There is Nothing Wrong With Rearing and Killing Animals for Human Consumption

    Nov 04 2016

    Fancy a nice juicy steak? Most of us do from time to time, and we don’t trouble our consciences too much with the rights and wrongs of eating meat. Others, while vaguely aware that we ought to go vegan, just can’t face the rest of our lives denying ourselves bacon, beef, butter etc. But once we start looking into the arguments for veganism (and it has to be full-blown veganism, because eggs and dairy are all part of the animal food production line), it becomes difficult to justify the omnivore d...more

  • An Anatomy Of Truth: Conversations on Truth-Telling

    Oct 27 2016

    Not everyone tells the truth. ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’ ‘This isn’t going to hurt.’ ‘I see no ships, my lord.’ ‘Of course I love you.’ When can we know what to believe? Four out of five of us don’t think politicians tell the truth, according to a recent MORI poll. But is telling the truth always the right or best thing to do? If it isn’t, what happens to trust? If it is, are there different kinds of truth? Do we always want to hear the truth? Do different professions need to have systemicall...more

  • Pornography is Good For Us: Without it We Would Be a Far More Repressed Society

    Oct 20 2016

    Hooray for porn! What would we be without it? Bored, repressed, frustrated. Porn allows the timid to indulge fantasies they’d never live out in real life and the adventurous to experiment with new forms of pleasure. Now that it has stepped down from the top shelf and waltzed across the internet we can all enjoy it. All we need to do is stop pretending it’s something dirty and come straight out and salute it. Or maybe not. Porn after all is selling a lie: that women are always eager to engage in...more

  • PJ O'Rourke on the US Presidential Clash

    Oct 14 2016

    As Donald Trump faces Hillary Clinton in what has been one of the most vitriolic and unpredictable races in recent US election history, we were joined by America’s leading political satirist PJ O’Rourke, just a month ahead of US election day, as he cast his merciless eye over both candidates. He is known for taking no prisoners on either side of the political divide. He has already called Trump ‘a flying monkey’ and Clinton ‘Jimmy Carter in a pantsuit’. As author of such bestsellers as 'Don’t V...more

  • The Gene: Unlocking the Human Code, with Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Oct 07 2016

    Genetics has revolutionised not just how we think of biology but how we think of ourselves. We are, in the words of one geneticist, the first organism that has ‘learned to read its own instructions’. Now, with the breakthrough of gene-editing technology — whose precision allows us to alter a single letter of DNA — we can now not only decipher but rewrite our genetic code. We may soon be able to treat diseases such as cancer not simply with drugs, but with genetic manipulation. Yet behind this me...more

  • Karl Marx Was Right

    Sep 30 2016

    We can’t say Karl Marx didn’t warn us: capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. In their chase for ever higher profits, the capitalists shed workers for machines. The higher return on capital means that the share of profits rises and the share of wages falls, and soon the mass of the population isn’t earning enough to buy the goods capitalism produces. And that’s exactly what’s been happening over the past four years of the Great Recession: ever increasing income inequality, leading...more

  • The End of Antibiotics?

    Sep 23 2016

    This panel discussion took place at the New York Academy of Sciences in September 2016 and was produced by Intelligence Squared, in partnership with the World Health Organisation and the Wellcome Trust. There’s a time bomb ticking that is going to affect us all. Whether you are a sub-Saharan subsistence farmer or a New Yorker buying a super-smoothie in Wholefoods, there will be no escape. The threat? An invisible army of super-resistant bacteria is on the march. Antibiotics, the drugs that have...more

  • Yuval Noah Harari on the Myths we Need to Survive

    Sep 19 2016

    Myths. We tend to think they’re a thing of the past, fabrications that early humans needed to believe in because their understanding of the world was so meagre. But what if modern civilisation were itself based on a set of myths? This is the big question posed by Professor Yuval Noah Harari, author of 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind', which has become one of the most talked about bestsellers of recent years. In this exclusive appearance for Intelligence Squared, Harari argued that all po...more

  • David Eagleman on the Science of De- (and Re-) Humanisation (and Why it Matters)

    Sep 16 2016

    Which side were you on? The Jets or the Sharks? The Capulets or the Montagues? The Greeks or the Trojans? Antony or Caesar? William or Harold? And so the list goes on ... Indeed, maybe the whole of human history is the story of group-making and group-breaking. The passions of loyalty and love for the in-group are matched by the de-humanising indignation and hatred for the out-group. But what's actually going on in the chemical soup of the brain when Agamemnon gathers his heros-to-be and sets sa...more

  • Yuval Noah Harari on the Rise of Homo Deus

    Sep 09 2016

    “Studying history aims to loosen the grip of the past… It will not tell us what to choose, but at least it gives us more options.” – Yuval Noah Harari Yuval Noah Harari is the star historian who shot to fame with his international bestseller 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind'. In that book Harari explained how human values have been continually shifting since our earliest beginnings: once we placed gods at the centre of the universe; then came the Enlightenment, and from then on human feel...more

  • Museums are Bad at Telling us Why Art Matters

    Sep 02 2016

    Museums are our new churches, as is commonly agreed. Millions of people flock to them to be uplifted, inspired, or distracted from everyday cares for an hour or two by encountering magnificent art. But while churches know exactly how to present art in order to foster faith and remind us of the Christian virtues, couldn't our museums do a better job at displaying art in a way that fully engages our emotions? Aren’t all those academic categories – “the 19th century”, “the Northern Italian School” ...more

  • P J O'Rourke: The Funniest Man in America

    Aug 10 2016

    P.J. O'Rourke is America's premier political satirist and has more citations in 'The Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotations' than any other living writer. In this live appearance for Intelligence Squared in 2010, he discussed his new book, 'Don't Vote — It Just Encourages the Bastards', a brilliant, hilarious and ultimately sobering look at why politics and politicians are a necessary evil — but only just barely necessary. Moving from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman to a late-night girls' board...more

  • Brexit Britain – Our Divided Nation

    Jul 31 2016

    This panel session was part of Brexit Britain, an afternoon of debate and discussion produced by BBC Newsnight in partnership with Intelligence Squared at the Royal Geographical Society in London. In this, the first session of the day, folk singer/songwriter and left-wing activist Billy Bragg, Director of Resolution think tank Torsten Bell, UKIP parliamentary spokesperson Suzanne Evans and Vice-Chair of Migration Watch UK Alp Mehmet, discussed what the referendum - and the campaigning that prec...more

  • Brexit Britain - Political Fallout

    Jul 31 2016

    This panel session was part of Brexit Britain, an afternoon of debate and discussion produced by BBC Newsnight in partnership with Intelligence Squared at the Royal Geographical Society in London. In this, the second session of the day, Guardian columnist Owen Jones, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers, and former advisor to the Chancellor Catherine Macleod, discussed the political fallout of the Brexit vote. The discussion was chaired by Newsnight's political ...more

  • Carlo Rovelli and Christophe Galfard on the Architecture of the Universe

    Jul 29 2016

    Does time exist? Was our universe born from a Big Bang, or from a Big Bounce triggered by a former universe imploding? Is this the only universe, or are there infinite ones, all expanding in parallel and out of sight of each other? These are just some of the questions that were tackled by world-renowned physicists Carlo Rovelli and Christophe Galfard when they came to the Intelligence Squared stage, in this event chaired by BBC science star Helen Czerski. Theoretical physics deals with matte...more

  • Richard Dawkins: The Rational Revolutionary

    Jul 22 2016

    In the 1960s and 70s, a revolution took place in the way we understand human nature. Out went Marx and Freud, and in came a rational, scientific approach to the way we see ourselves. At the vanguard of that revolution was Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist whose book 'The Selfish Gene' changed the thinking not just of other scientists but of all of us, and propelled its author to intellectual stardom as the modern heir to Darwin. To mark the 40th anniversary of 'The Selfish Gene' and D...more

  • Ancient Worlds: A Meeting of East and West

    Jul 15 2016

    There’s a new school of history that’s revolutionising the way we look at the past. For centuries, our history has been taught in separate chunks, with the classical, European world divided from China and the East. This traditional, somewhat lazy history of civilisation, zeroing in on the Western Mediterranean, drastically restricts our understanding of the world – and the crucial ideas and problems that have affected human civilisation as a whole; from politics to religion; from war to money. T...more

  • Brexit: What Next?

    Jul 05 2016

    The UK has made the momentous decision to leave the EU. Intelligence Squared staged an emergency event to discuss the ramifications. A panel including Douglas Carswell, Jonathan Freedland, Josef Janning, Liz Kendall, Anand Menon and Adair Turner will examined: Who will be the next prime minister to steer us through the rocky negotiations with the EU that lie ahead? What kind of deal can we expect to get? Will the EU play tough with us in order to stop anti-EU contagion spreading to other membe...more

  • Yes, he Can! No, he couldn't. Obama Is A Failed President

    Jun 23 2016

    Eight years ago the banners said ‘Behold the new Kennedy!’ Tears flowed and expectations were sky-high as Obama spoke on election night surrounded by his young family. Here was America’s saviour, the man who could overcome the legacy of slavery, heal a divided nation, even reclaim its moral leadership. In fact, Obama’s record has been one of failure. Once the world’s policeman, today America is seen as weak. Tyrants know that Obama rarely exercises power and they have taken full advantage of th...more

  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Democracy is Not Always the Best Form of Government

    Jun 22 2016

    Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. So said Winston Churchill and who would disagree? One man, one vote, the rule of law, equality and a free press. These are the principles which tens of thousands have been imprisoned or lost their lives for in despotic regimes from South America to Burma. But is the assumption that democracy always leads to a freer and more tolerant society correct? Many would argue that it can lead to quite illiberal outcome...more

  • The Return of History and the Death of Democracy, with Peter Frankopan and Kwasi Kwarteng

    Jun 17 2016

    25 years ago, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the future looked rosy. Liberal democracy, freedom and individual rights were on the march, triumphing over tyranny and repression. The end of the Cold War had brought an end to history, declared Francis Fukuyama. A quarter of a century on, that sunny picture has clouded over. History has come bouncing back, says Peter Frankopan, the Oxford historian and author of the bestseller, 'The Silk Roads', a major reassessment of world history which has won...more

  • The Benefits System Perpetuates Misery

    Jun 11 2016

    Beveridge would be turning in his grave. The benefits system that his 1942 report introduced has become a travesty. Right now there are some 4.5m people in the UK living in households where nobody has a job. Behind that figure lies a subsection of society mired in multi-generational unemployment. What was meant to be a safety net has become a poverty trap. Far from being the short-term stopgap that Beveridge envisaged, benefits have created a culture of long-term welfare dependency. And that lea...more

  • Let the bad guys be: foreign intervention does more harm than good

    Jun 03 2016

    In February 2012 Intelligence Squared Asia presented leading voices and influential figures in a debate about foreign intervention. This discussion raised questions such as: Does foreign intervention lend itself to long-term partnerships characterized by respect and progress? Does it pose fundamentally damaging practical and moral problems? What country has the right to meddle in the affairs of another? Do human rights violations compel other nations to embrace interventionism as foreign policy?...more

  • The Great Intelligence Squared Brexit Debate

    May 27 2016

    How do we decide? The in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union on June 23 is a once-in-a-generation vote. For some of us it’s a matter of gut political instinct: we are natural inners or outers. But for many, coming to an informed decision on how to vote is a challenge, given the swirl of claims and counterclaims being made by pro-EU campaigners on one side, and Brexit supporters on the other. Every day there’s a fresh round of media stories, with ‘Project Fear’ warning us ...more

  • Is the Party Over for Economic Growth? When economic stagnation becomes the new normal

    May 20 2016

    It was a blast. Since the Industrial Revolution, we enjoyed unprecedented economic growth, propelled by a seemingly unstoppable wave of technological innovation. For 100 years from around 1870, life in the West was transformed by inventions such as electricity, the car and domestic appliances, which led to soaring growth, better lives and booming wealth for all. The poor became less poor, and the number of middle income earners exploded. In the second half of the 20th century the rest of the wor...more

  • Assisted suicide should be legalised

    May 13 2016

    The law allows me to kill myself, but what if I have a progressive illness and reach a stage when I long to end my life but cannot do so unaided. Isn't it needlessly cruel and illogical that as the law stands, no friend or family member or doctor can then help me die without risking prosecution and a possible jail sentence? No it isn't, say those who oppose legalising assisted suicide. Think of the pressures that would build once it became a legally sanctioned option - not least the pressure to ...more

  • Michael Sandel on the Moral Limits of Markets

    May 06 2016

    Michael Sandel is one of the world's most acclaimed and popular political philosophers. He has given the Reith lectures, been called "the most influential foreign figure of the year" by China Newsweek, and his online video lectures for Harvard University attract millions of viewers. His book 'Justice' was an international bestseller. Now he turns his attention to the markets. In this special Intelligence Squared event from 2013 he discussed his provocative new book, 'What Money Can't Buy: The ...more

  • Tony Blair on Trial

    Apr 29 2016

    When Tony Blair became prime minister in May 1997, he had a landslide majority, an approval rating of 93 per cent, and he went on to become Labour’s longest-serving premier. At his last PMQs he got a standing ovation in the chamber of the House of Commons. How things have changed. Nowadays all we hear about is the accusations of lies, hubris and money-making business deals. But is this disillusionment justified? To assess the record of this extraordinary politician, Intelligence Squared staged ...more

  • The Future of Health: When Death Becomes Optional

    Apr 22 2016

    What if doctors no longer played God and you became CEO of your own health? What if medicine were tailor-made for your own DNA? What will the world be like when people start living to 150 – or even forever? If only the wealthy can afford super-longevity, will the growing gap between rich and poor lead to a new form of social inequality? These are some of the questions Intelligence Squared explored in The Future of Health: When Death Becomes Optional. Massive change is already under way. New ...more

  • Art Today Has Sold Out To The Market

    Apr 15 2016

    Today’s global art market is reminiscent of a roller coaster - even as it rotates and retrenches - the ride continues to propel, excite and surprise. With a tenfold increase in buyers over the last decade, unprecedented numbers of influencers are playing a part in work being made, seen and sold. Art has inextricably become dominated by the market. Private collectors on museum boards have become the new curators, driving acquisitions and dictating exhibition content. Advisors and dealers are cond...more

  • Democracy is India's Achilles' heel

    Apr 08 2016

    We assume that democracy is what every country should have. But what has democracy done for India? Easy. It has stimulated corruption on a massive scale, and if you want to get rich in India the most direct way is to run for parliament and reap the payoffs businesses are obliged to make to the local MP. Caste, that Indian curse, becomes more entrenched as politicians exploit caste allegiances to win votes. Bombay may be booming but it’s hardly Shanghai. A country that is striving to be an econom...more

  • George Steiner on the Poetry of Thought

    Mar 31 2016

    Renowned polyglot and polymath, George Steiner has long been recognised as one of the most original minds and brilliant lecturers of our generation. In this talk from April 2009, he argued that at the deepest level there is no essential difference between the language of poetry on the one side, and the language of science, philosophy and politics on the other. Poets and scientists may appear to inhabit different worlds, but as Steiner shows in a series of fascinating examples, the boundaries tha...more

  • The United Nations is terminally paralysed: the democratic world needs a forum of its own

    Mar 24 2016

    In January 2009, a panel of experts came to the Intelligence Squared stage to debate the motion "The United Nations is terminally paralysed: the democratic world needs a forum of its own". Speaking for the motion were Radek Sikorski, Foreign Minister of Poland; Robert Kagan, an expert in US National Security and Foreign policy; Denis Macshane MP, former Minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth office. Speaking against the motion were Sir Jeremy Greenstock, UK Ambassador to the United ...more

  • Obama's foreign policy is a gift to America's enemies

    Mar 18 2016

    Barack Obama’s foreign policy came under expert scrutiny in this Intelligence Squared debate from 2010, as influential hawks and doves debated whether the president’s policies have left America looking feeble on the world stage. Historian and academic Simon Schama clashed with General Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the US Army, on the motion “Obama’s foreign policy is a gift to America's enemies.” Speaking in favour of the motion alongside General Keane were conservative commentator ...more

  • Both Britain and the EU would be happier if they got divorced

    Mar 10 2016

    Some people just can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that a relationship is over. Finished. Unsalvageable. David Cameron, for instance. His long awaited speech on Europe has been one big exercise in denial. Yes, we should stay married to Europe, he says, because we can now renegotiate our wedding vows and get the EU to do things our way. Who is he kidding? If it were so easy to pick ‘n mix what we want from Brussels, wolfing down all the soft-centred goodies and rejecting the nutty ones, would...more

  • The Trouble with This Country Is the Daily Mail

    Mar 04 2016

    "Immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting”. That’s how one critic has described the Daily Mail. It depicts a world where traditional British values are under siege – from the EU, rising crime, and benefit scroungers – and it assures its readers that they are not alone in their anxieties. It loves nothing more than a good health scare. According to the Mail, almost everything causes cancer (116 items at the last count, including salami, flipflops and chimney ...more

  • Umberto Eco in conversation with Paul Holdengräber

    Feb 26 2016

    RIP Umberto Eco, bestselling Italian author and semiotician perhaps best-known for his novel 'The Name of the Rose', who sadly died aged 84 earlier this week. This week's podcast revisits our event from November 2011, when we were lucky enough to host Eco as he discussed the persistence of conspiracies, the infinity of lists, the future of books, and writing fiction. Eco was in conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Director of LIVE from the New York Public Library.

  • Defeating Isis means Western Boots on the Ground

    Feb 19 2016

    Enough is enough. Paris, Sharm El-Sheikh, Istanbul, Jakarta. Isis is the global crucible of terrorism and must be stopped using all means available. After the Paris attacks last November, the US and its allies stepped up the bombing of Isis targets in Syria. Unquestionably, the campaign has had some effect and Isis is not the unstoppable force it seemed to be a year ago. Ramadi was taken by Iraqi forces a few weeks ago, and reports are filtering through of disillusionment and desertion amongst t...more

  • The Catholic Church is Beyond Redemption: Pope Francis Cannot Save it

    Feb 12 2016

    Mired in allegations of sexual abuse, corruption in the Vatican and the first papal resignation in six centuries, the Catholic Church is in crisis. Two thousand years of arcane methods, tired dogma and unpalatable lies have left the papacy crippled and out of touch. The secularised West has lost faith in notions of infallibility, of temporal power and of a world in which gay marriage, abortion and the use of condoms remain outlawed. The Catholic Church stands on the brink of entropy, and no amou...more

  • Greece versus Rome, with Boris Johnson and Mary Beard

    Feb 05 2016

    On November 19th Intelligence Squared hosted the ultimate clash of civilisations: Greece vs Rome. It was also the ultimate clash of intellectual titans. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and ardent classicist, made the case for Greece; while Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge and redoubtable media star, championed Rome. As Boris argued, the Greeks got there first: in literature, history, art and philosophy. The Iliad and the Odyssey are the earliest surviving epic poems, the foundations...more

  • What Next For Feminism?

    Jan 29 2016

    Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Washington power player who upset the feminist applecart. At the peak of her career — as first female Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department — she turned her back on her dream job with Hillary Clinton in order to spend more time with her teenage sons. How, cried her contemporaries, could she have sacrificed her high-powered career for her family? Slaughter’s ensuing article for The Atlantic, ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All’, went viral, sparking fur...more

  • From The Library: The Art World Is A Boys' Club

    Jan 18 2016

    Botticelli's Venus. Warhol's Marilyn. Chen Yifei’s Beauties. Historically, the creation of art has been largely the preserve of men. And not a lot has changed. In recent years, the top 100 highest grossing living artists at auction were men, selling predominantly to male buyers. Women run just a quarter of the biggest art museums in the world, earning about a third less than their male counterparts. More women then men graduate from art school, but fast forward a few years and it's the men who ...more

  • Anthony Sattin on Cairo

    Jan 15 2016

    Cairo. The facts say one thing: the biggest city in Africa and the Middle East and now so chaotic and polluted that most visitors to Egypt prefer to avoid it. This same city also speaks to us of history and humanity – Moses and Jesus, Arab poets and Napoleon’s scholars who were here beside the Nile. It speaks of brilliance, beauty and power, of Europeans looking on in amazement at a Cairo that was the trading partner of Venice and of such importance that the Arabian Nights narrator called it the...more

  • From the Library - Daniel Goleman On Focus: The Secret to High Performance and Fulfilment

    Jan 08 2016

    Psychologist Daniel Goleman shot to fame with his groundbreaking bestseller 'Emotional Intelligence'. The premise of the book, now widely accepted, is that raw intelligence alone is not a sure predictor of success in life. A greater role is played by ‘softer’ skills such as self-control, self-motivation, empathy and good interpersonal relationships. In this exclusive talk for Intelligence Squared, Goleman discusses the themes of his latest book, 'Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence'. Attenti...more

  • From the Library: The Parthenon Marbles Should Be Returned To Athens

    Dec 30 2015

    What’s all this nonsense about sending the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece? If Lord Elgin hadn’t rescued them from the Parthenon in Athens and presented them to the British Museum almost 200 years ago, these exquisite sculptures – the finest embodiment of the classical ideal of beauty and harmony – would have been lost to the ravages of pollution and time. So we have every right to keep them: indeed, returning them would set a dangerous precedent, setting off a clamour for every Egyptian mummy ...more

  • From the Library: Terry Eagleton in conversation with Roger Scruton

    Dec 18 2015

    What really divides the left and the right? To answer this question, Intelligence Squared brought together two giants of British intellectual culture for an ideological reckoning: Terry Eagleton, literary critic and long-time hero of the radical left, and Roger Scruton, right-wing philosopher who has written on everything from economic theory to literature, and architecture to wine. What we heard was two two irreducibly different views of the world, where each tries hard to understand the other...more

  • The Right To Bear Arms Is A Freedom Too Far

    Dec 10 2015

    Filmed at the Sadler's Wells Lilian Baylis Studio on 27th March 2013. Arguing in favour of the motion was journalist, novelist and broadcaster Will Self. Arguing against the motion was author and Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens. Joining us via Google+ Hangouts were celebrated sociologist and Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University, Amitai Etzioni and Attorney at Law and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Stephen Halbrook. The debate was chair...more

  • Effective Altruism: A Better Way to Lead an Ethical Life

    Dec 04 2015

    Almost all of us want to make a difference in our lives. So we give to charity, recycle, volunteer, or cut down our carbon emissions. But are we getting it right? In a world where ever more data is available, shouldn’t we be paying closer attention to the measurable effects of our altruistic actions? Why, for example do we spend so much time and effort researching hotels and restaurants online while we rarely bother to investigate the effectiveness of the charities we donate to? Are we more conc...more

  • The Great European Refugees And Migrants Debate

    Nov 27 2015

    Europe is gripped by the biggest migrant crisis since the Second World War. The parallels with that earlier crisis are hard to avoid. When in 1938 tens of thousands were fleeing Nazi Germany, not a single European country agreed to raise its quotas. In response Hitler and Goebbels observed that, while other countries complained about how Germany treated the Jews, no one else wanted them either. This is one of the points that Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg made in the Intelligence Squared Great Europe...more

  • Fight Your Own Battles: Foreign powers shouldn't intervene in the Middle East

    Nov 18 2015

    Filmed at Sadler's Wells on 17th July 2013. Speaking for the motion were Palestinian-American writer, human rights campaigner and political commentator Susan Abulhawa and Former British Ambassador to Syria Sir Andrew Green. Speaking against the motion were Director of Research for the Brookings Doha Center Dr. Shadi Hamid and Senior Adviser on Public Affairs for the Electoral Reform Society Nick Tyrone. The debate was chaired by Guardian columnist, author and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland.

  • The Nuclear Deal With Iran Won't Make the World a Safer Place

    Nov 12 2015

    What’s not to like? The deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July is a major diplomatic breakthrough. In exchange for Tehran halting its nuclear weapons programme, the West will lift the sanctions that have been crippling Iran’s economy for the last decade. The deal was hailed by President Obama as ‘a historic understanding’ and met with cheers of approval from around the world. Of course, the agreement doesn’t guarantee that Iran will never get the bomb some time in the future. But...more

  • Karl Ove Knausgaard: The Alchemist of the Ordinary

    Nov 06 2015

    Novelists worship him. Critics fall over themselves to explain his genius. His celebrity fans say his books are like drugs. ‘I just read 200 pages and I need the next volume like crack. It’s completely blown my mind,’ Zadie Smith tweeted. What they’re all raving about is Karl Ove Knausgaard’s bestselling series of six autobiographical novels, 'My Struggle'. The books recount in microscopic detail every aspect of Knausgaard’s own life: his bullying alcoholic father, his marriages, the raising of...more

  • The Art of Political Power, with Robert Caro and William Hague

    Oct 30 2015

    Every industry has its guru. And when it comes to the dark arts of political statecraft, the American biographer Robert Caro is the mentor politicians turn to for guidance. His biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson has been described as ‘the greatest insight into power ever written’. Caro is revered by presidents and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, his fans include Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Here in Britain, his life of LBJ is George Osborne’s favourite political wor...more

  • China picks better leaders than the West

    Oct 23 2015

    As Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the UK for a four-day state visit and David Cameron hails a "golden era" in the relationship between the two countries, we revisit the Intelligence Squared Asia debate "China picks better leaders than the West", which urgently explored the issues around global leadership today. The debate took place in Hong Kong in October 2012. Arguing in favour of the motion were Tsinghua University Confucian philosopher and scholar Daniel A Bell and China-US relations ...more

  • Niall Ferguson: Henry Kissinger Reappraised, with Andrew Roberts

    Oct 16 2015

    No American statesman has been as revered and as reviled as Henry Kissinger. To the late Christopher Hitchens he was a war criminal who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. To his admirers he is the greatest strategic thinker America has ever produced, the ‘indispensable man’, whose advice has been sought by every president from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush. Internationally renowned Harvard historian Niall Ferguson came to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his new appr...more

  • Inside The Head Of Terry Gilliam

    Oct 09 2015

    Terry Gilliam is one of the most multifaceted, visionary talents alive. He first found fame as a member of Monty Python, the surreal comedy troupe that has had a cult following since its inception in 1969 right up to today. Had Gilliam stopped there, his artistic immortality would have been guaranteed. But over the decades his talent has rampaged across different genres – comedy, opera and above all cinema. He ranks among the tiny handful of film directors the world’s leading actors will drop ev...more

  • Let's end the tyranny of the test. Relentless school testing demeans education

    Oct 02 2015

    British children are the most tested in the industrialised world. Is regular testing worthwhile training for success in later life, or have our schools become exam sausage factories? Our panel of experts debated whether regular school testing helps our children to flourish or hinders their development.

  • Yuval Noah Harari on the myths we need to survive

    Sep 25 2015

    Myths. We tend to think they’re a thing of the past, fabrications that early humans needed to believe in because their understanding of the world was so meagre. But what if modern civilisation were itself based on a set of myths? This is the big question posed by Professor Yuval Noah Harari, author of 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind', which has become one of the most talked about bestsellers of recent years. In this exclusive appearance for Intelligence Squared, Harari argued that all p...more

  • From the Library: Western Liberal Democracy Would Be Wrong for China

    Sep 18 2015

    People everywhere are better off living in liberal democracy: that has been the reigning assumption of the western world. But could it be we’ve got it wrong? If you were one of the world’s billions of poor peasants might you not be better off under a system dedicated to political stability and economic growth – one that has lifted 400 million out of poverty – rather than one preoccupied with human rights, the rule of law, and the chance to vote out unpopular rulers? Thanks to the Chinese model o...more

  • Ten Years After 9/11: The World Remade

    Sep 11 2015

    Fourteen years on from 9/11, we revisit our event "Ten Years after 9/11: The World Remade" from 2011. In this special Intelligence Squared event, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband and other leading experts from Oxford Analytica, the global strategic analysis and advisory firm, charted the tumultuous path since September 11th and showed how it will shape tomorrow's volatile global order. Questions they asked included: Why did the hunt for Osama bin Laden take so long? Is counterterrorism ...more

  • From the Library: Jimmy Carter in Conversation with Jon Snow

    Sep 04 2015

    President Jimmy Carter is a Nobel Prize winner, author, humanitarian, professor, farmer, naval officer and carpenter. In this special Intelligence Squared interview with Channel 4 News's Jon Snow, which took place in October 2011, President Carter talks about his career as president, and the past three decades as a senior statesman and ambassador for the Carter Center. He shares his stories from a truly remarkable and well-lived life and his views of global politics today.

  • Europe is failing its Muslims

    Aug 28 2015

    The debate "Europe is failing its Muslims" took place on February 23rd at Cadogan Hall in London, in association with BBC World News and the British Council. Arguing in favour of the motion were Tariq Ramadan and Petra Stienen; against the motion were Douglas Murray and Flemming Rose.

  • From the Library: Robert Macfarlane on Landscape and the Human Heart

    Aug 20 2015

    How do the landscapes we love shape the people we are? Why do we walk? For several years and more than a thousand miles, celebrated travel writer Robert Macfarlane has been following the vast network of old paths and routes that criss-cross Britain and its waters, and connect them to countries and continents beyond. Listen to his enthralling account from June 2012 of the ghosts and voices that haunt old tracks, of songlines and their singers, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, and of righ...more

  • Norman Stone on Istanbul

    Aug 14 2015

    In this talk from October 2011 the historian Norman Stone, who has lived in Turkey since 1997, took us on a journey through the country's turbulent history, from the arrival of the Seljuks in Anatolia in the 11th century to the modern republic applying for EU membership in the 21st. Along the way we met rapacious leaders such as Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and Kemal Atatürk, the reforming genius and founder of modern Turkey. At its height, the Ottoman Empire str...more

  • Israel Is Destroying Itself With Its Settlement Policy

    Aug 07 2015

    Patriacide. Nationcide. Whatever you want to call it, that is what Israel is doing with its settlement policy: it is killing itself. If ever greater numbers of Jewish settlers are installed on land regarded by Palestinians as the basis for a state of their own, the possibility of a two-state solution grows ever more remote. Yet the single state alternative, involving annexation of the West Bank, would result in a country where Arabs vastly outnumber Jews and then you won’t have a one-state or a ...more

  • Roberto Saviano on the War Against Organised Crime

    Jul 31 2015

    Roberto Saviano made a rare appearance in the UK in July 2015 when he came to the Intelligence Squared stage. In conversation with Intelligence Squared's very own Robert Collins, Saviano talked about his life in hiding and his beginnings as a reporter on the streets of Naples. He revealed his latest work of investigative reporting, 'Zero Zero Zero', in which he delves into the sprawling network of the global cocaine trade. He traced how the $400 billion a year generated by drugs trafficking fi...more

  • John Gray and Adam Phillips in conversation on humankind's search for immortality

    Jul 24 2015

    Political philosopher John Gray and psychotherapist and essayist Adam Phillips came to the Intelligence Squared stage in 2011 to discuss themes of science and immortality. Can we in the 21st century claim to be no longer gripped by the hope that somehow science can make us invincible?

  • Digital Summit Highlights: 'London's Star Tech Enterprise' and 'Who we are on the Web'

    Jul 15 2015

    This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast features two sessions from our recent Digital Summit with Vanity Fair. In the first session, 'Who are we on the web?' we examined how deeply the internet is affecting us as human beings. Our panel of experts comprised blogger, journalist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow; author of 'The Dark Net' Jamie Bartlett; Director of the 2013 film 'InRealLife' Beeban Kidron; and Director of the Governance Lab at NYU Beth Simone Noveck. It was...more

  • Churchill was more a liability than an asset to the free world

    Jul 10 2015

    Does the fact that Winston Churchill is routinely cited as Britain’s greatest hero say more about us than it does about him? Yes, he warned us of the need to face down Hitler when others were urging appeasement and yes, he gave a good speech. But what of his tendency to initiate disastrous military campaigns – think of Gallipoli in World War I or Norway in World War II. What of the fact that his generals constantly had to restrain him from embarking on even more madcap ventures? Could it be that...more

  • Digital Summit Highlights: 'The Hopes of the Pioneers' and 'Artificial Intelligence'

    Jul 02 2015

    This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast features two sessions from our recent Digital Summit with Vanity Fair. In the first session, 'This is For Everyone: The hopes of the pioneers', we explored the hopes and memories of the internet's early days – could the internet have developed in any other way than the one we know today? Our panel of experts featured former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger; entrepreneur and co-founder of lastminute.com Martha Lane Fox; journalist, blogger a...more

  • From the library: Angela Merkel is destroying Europe

    Jul 01 2015

    The stakes couldn’t be higher, as Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras seeks a new agreement on a bailout and German chancellor Angela Merkel refuses any talks before this Sunday’s referendum. What will happen is anyone’s guess, but for anyone looking for background information, Intelligence Squared is posting again the podcast of our 2013 debate ‘Angela Merkel is destroying Europe’. Listen to The New Statesman's Mehdi Hasan and Greek MP Euclid Tsakalotos take on historian Anthony Beevor and Bel...more

  • The West should get out of bed with the House Of Saud

    Jun 25 2015

    Have we no morals? We know that the Saudis created the monster that is Islamic terrorism, allegedly spending some $100 billion on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to other Muslim nations around the world. We know about the public beheadings and floggings, and the treatment of women that amounts to gender apartheid. Yet Western governments persist in cosying up to the Saudi royal family, making an ally of one of the most reactionary regimes in the world, so that we can buy their oil and sell them ou...more

  • The internet is a failed utopia

    Jun 18 2015

    This week's podcast comes from the closing session of our recent Digital Summit with Vanity Fair. See intelligencesquared.com for more information about the summit. To many the hopes we had for the internet when it first emerged have been smashed by the revelations of government surveillance of our personal data – with the cooperation of the tech giants who know and record our every move online. But to others the technological advances of the last 20 years have opened up an unprecedented world ...more

  • Faramerz Dabhoiwala on the Origins of Sex

    Jun 10 2015

    Rising star historian Faramerz Dabhoiwala came to the Intelligence Squared stage in February 2012 to describe how the permissive society arrived in Western Europe, not in the 1960s as we like to think, but between 1600 and 1800. It began in England and is now shaping and challenging patterns of sexual behaviour all over the world. For most of western history, all sex outside marriage was illegal, and the church, the state, and ordinary people all devoted huge efforts to suppressing and punishi...more

  • David Brooks on the Road to Character

    Jun 04 2015

    On May 26th 2015, New York Times columnist David Brooks came to the Intelligence Squared stage to share the insights of his latest book, 'The Road to Character'. Brooks argued that today’s ‘Big Me’ culture is making us increasingly self-preoccupied: we live in a world where we’re taught to be assertive, to master skills, to broadcast our brand, to get likes, to get followers. But amidst all the noise of self-promotion, Brooks claimed that we’ve lost sight of an important and counterintuitive tru...more

  • Joseph Stiglitz on the Great Divide

    May 28 2015

    Inequality is an increasing problem in the Western world, leaving everyone – the rich as well as the poor – worse off. The dream of a socially mobile society is becoming an ever more unachievable myth. That’s the view of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who came to the Intelligence Squared stage for a rare London appearance on May 20th. Stiglitz argued that inequality is not inevitable but a choice – the cumulative result of unjust policies and misguided priorities. Stiglitz was j...more

  • Spotlight On Piketty

    May 21 2015

    In this rare appearance in London, French economist Thomas Piketty appeared centre stage for Intelligence Squared, along with a panel of experts, to debate his findings of his book 'Capital in the 21st Century', an analysis of the causes and growth of inequality that was the publishing sensation of 2014. Do the alleged inaccuracies found in Piketty’s historical data affect the premise of his book? Is he right to predict that inequality will continue to rise during the 21st century? Is the alleg...more

  • Post-Election Dissection

    May 14 2015

    On May 12th, before the dust had settled on the General Election, Intelligence Squared hosted a post-election dissection with pundits and politicians of all persuasions. They battled it out over what the outcome means for the future of British politics. Is it fair, for example, that a bunch of Scots who want to leave the Union should have so much sway over the rest of the country? Will a break-up of the Union be inevitable? How long will any minority government, reliant on querulous smaller part...more

  • Simon Sebag Montefiore on Jerusalem

    May 08 2015

    Jerusalem. How did this small, remote town became the Holy City, the desire of every empire, and the key to Middle East peace? In this dazzling talk from February 2011, Simon Sebag Montefiore revealed the ever-changing city through its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography was told through the wars, adventures, love-affairs and messianic revelations of the men and women – kings, empresses, saints, conquerors, prophets and whores – who cr...more

  • The World Needs Religion Even if it Doesn't Need God

    Apr 29 2015

    God is dead and man has no need of the myths and false consolation that religion offers. That’s the battle-cry of Richard Dawkins and other tough-minded critics of religion. And yet millions cling to their faith, finding value and meaning in the concepts and rituals they adhere to. But is this dichotomy all we have to choose from – prostration or denigration? Some would argue that there’s another way, that it’s possible to remain an atheist and still make use of certain ideas and practices of ...more

  • The Future of Parliamentary Democracy

    Apr 24 2015

    In the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal (May-June 2009), we brought a panel of politicians and journalists to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss the state of democracy in Britain – is the system rotten to the core, or was the expenses scandal simply a storm in a teacup? In a departure from the usual debate format, the seven panelists each present their views on the current state of affairs and suggest if, and how, the system needs to be reformed. Joining us were historian Sir David Can...more

  • Can art be taught to the Facebook generation?

    Apr 17 2015

    We were joined at the Saatchi Gallery in July 2009 by Turner Prize-winning artists Grayson Perry and Antony Gormley; author, philosopher and television presenter Alain de Botton; design critic, author and columnist Stephen Bayley and founder of the charity Kids Company Camila Batmanghelidjh, as they debated the motion "Can art be taught to the Facebook Generation?" The debate was chaired by author, journalist and broadcaster Joan Bakewell.

  • Burgundy vs Bordeaux, with Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

    Apr 09 2015

    Among wine lovers, there is no greater divide than that between Burgundy and Bordeaux. These are the world’s most celebrated wine regions, different places producing different styles of wine. What separates them and why the great rivalry? Many wine buffs believe that Bordeaux is for beginners. It’s a wine that you enjoy before your palate has fully matured and you then move on to the more exquisite pleasures of Burgundy. Bordeaux, say its detractors, is cerebral, like algebra, and is dignified ...more

  • The Extreme Present: An Evening of Self-Help for Planet Earth

    Apr 02 2015

    Shumon Basar, writer, thinker and cultural critic, Douglas Coupland, the renowned author of 'Generation X', and Hans Ulrich Obrist, one of the world’s best-known curators, joined forces for a special event with Intelligence Squared to explore the challenges that the planet faces in the Extreme Present. Ours is an era so unfamiliar that in their book, 'The Age of Earthquakes' – their 21st-century update of Marshall McLuhan’s seminal 1967 book 'The Medium Is the Massage' – Basar, Coupland and Obri...more

  • The Art World is a Boys' Club

    Mar 26 2015

    Botticelli's Venus. Warhol's Marilyn. Chen Yifei’s Beauties. Historically, the creation of art has been largely the preserve of men. And not a lot has changed. In recent years, the top 100 highest grossing living artists at auction were men, selling predominantly to male buyers. Women run just a quarter of the biggest art museums in the world, earning about a third less than their male counterparts. More women then men graduate from art school, but fast forward a few years and it's the men ...more

  • Muhammad Yunus on a new kind of capitalism

    Mar 20 2015

    ‘Making money is a happiness. And that’s a great incentive. Making other people happy is a super-happiness.’ These are the words of Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bangladeshi economist world-famous for starting the microfinance movement. That movement is just part of Yunus’s mission to ‘put poverty in the museums’. A charismatic visionary, as much at ease with global leaders as he is with the poorest of street beggars, Professor Yunus believes every person can play a part in redu...more

  • Be afraid, be very afraid: the robots are coming and they will destroy our livelihoods

    Mar 13 2015

    They are coming to an office near you: job-gobbling robots that can do your work better and more cheaply than you can. One in three jobs could be taken over by a computer or a robot in the next 20 years. Most at risk are less skilled workers such as machine operators, postmen, care workers and professional drivers. The CEO of Uber, the ride-sharing company, recently said that his goal is to replace all the firm’s drivers with autonomous cars. That’s the view of the tech pessimists, but others w...more

  • Rembrandt Vs Vermeer: The Titans of Dutch Painting

    Mar 05 2015

    Rembrandt van Rijn is the best known of all the Dutch masters. His range was vast, from landscapes to portraits to Biblical scenes; he revolutionised every medium he handled, from oil paintings to etchings and drawings. His vision encompassed every element of life – the sleeping lion; the pissing baby; the lacerated soles of the returned prodigal son. Making the case for him in this debate was Simon Schama. For him Rembrandt is humanity unedited: rough, raw, violent, manic, vain, greedy and man...more

  • Money can grow on trees: what's good for nature is good for business

    Feb 27 2015

    Capitalists don’t care about the environment. Industry, agriculture and commerce have long exploited nature’s resources. The pursuit of profit pays scant regard to the underlying cost of using up the planet’s capital. That’s the familiar story that we hear about capitalists. But a growing number of voices are claiming that big business and nature in fact make perfect partners. Harnessing the processes of nature, they argue, is simply good business sense. Forests, for example, perform carbon ca...more

  • Keep 'em off the streets and behind bars: tough prison sentences mean a safer society

    Feb 19 2015

    Lock them up. That’s the way we’ve always dealt with offenders. Criminals deserve to be put away for their crimes. Prison works because it keeps those criminals out of circulation, and acts as society’s most effective deterrent. Rehabilitation is all well and good – but the fundamental purpose of prison is to protect the public, and to punish those who have done wrong. That’s the argument of the bang ’em up brigade; but others say that there’s a better way. New prison models have emerged in sev...more

  • Magna Carta: Myth and Meaning

    Feb 12 2015

    June 2015 will see the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the ‘Great Charter’ which was signed at Runnymede by King John to resolve a political crisis he faced with his barons. Buried within its 69 clauses is one of immeasurable importance. This is the idea that no one should be deprived of their freedom without just cause, and that people are entitled to fair trial by their peers according to the law of the land. At the time Magna Carta did nothing to improve the lot of the vast majority of Eng...more

  • Art must be beautiful

    Feb 05 2015

    In May 2011, Intelligence Squared Asia presented four leading voices in the arts to argue the motion "Art must be beautiful". Can aesthetic standards of the day dictate the long-term value of art? Who defines taste? Do parameters of institutional validation differ from collector ideals? Does concept in art triumph over creation? Is meaning in art an obligation or an afterthought? Arguing for the motion were artist and acclaimed photographer David LaChapelle and Co-founder of Phillips de Pury an...more

  • An evening with Britain's best poets

    Jan 29 2015

    Love. Sorrow. Anger. Death. Laughter. God. Sex. Hell. Home. Only one profession can get to the heart of that lot – the poets. And not any old poets but amongst Britain's very best: Wendy Cope, Andrew Motion and Don Paterson – plus Clive James who's been here so long he almost counts as British. They came to the Intelligence Squared stage in April 2011 to read and talk about not just their own poems, but their favourite works by poets from the past.

  • The High Street is dead, long live the High Street

    Jan 22 2015

    A screen, an image, a click. Proceed to checkout. Sign for it the next day. We are the first generation to enjoy the thrill and convenience of online shopping. No queuing, no frustration at going home empty-handed, because we can always find what we’re looking for online – anywhere, anytime, on our laptop or smartphone. For centuries the high street has been the focus of local community, the place where people meet to trade and exchange news. But many high streets in the UK are struggling and s...more

  • The War on Terror was the right response to 9/11

    Jan 15 2015

    Have the West’s efforts to eradicate Al-Qaeda around the world simply been fuelling the flames of hatred and violence? Or would we have suffered even more atrocities if we’d left the militants to plot in their hiding places? Is the US right to be pursuing its hard line against militants in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen? These are just some of the questions explored in this Intelligence Squared debate from September 2011, which saw former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf and forme...more

  • Bernard-Henri Lévy on the Libyan intervention and universal values

    Jan 08 2015

    Bernard-Henri Lévy is France’s best-known public intellectual, passionately committed to the causes he believes to be just. A writer, journalist, and film-maker, he has the status of a rock star in France where he is known simply as BHL, and has repeatedly turned down the Légion d'Honneur. In this rare appearance in London for Intelligence Squared he lectured on liberal interventionism (he is credited with persuading President Sarkozy to take the lead in the international intervention in Libya...more

  • Beware of the dragon: Africa should not look to China

    Dec 23 2014

    We all know that the Chinese are the neo-colonialists of Africa. They've plundered the continent of its natural resources, tossing aside any concern for human rights and doing deals with some of the world's most unsavoury regimes. The relentless pursuit of growth is China's only spur. But is this picture really fair? In Angola, for example, China's low-interest loans have been tied to a scheme that has ensured that roads, schools and other infrastructure has been built. China has an impressive ...more

  • Umberto Eco In Conversation With Paul Holdengräber

    Dec 18 2014

    The persistence of conspiracies. Grasping the infinity of lists. Writing fiction about the real. The future of books. These are some of the topics Umberto Eco discussed with Paul Holdengräber, Director of LIVE at the New York Public Library, when he came to the Intelligence Squared stage in November 2011. Their wide-ranging conversation focused in part on Eco's book 'The Prague Cemetery', an historical pseudo-reconstruction set in a 19th-century Europe teeming with secret service forgeries, Jes...more

  • Brian Cox & Alice Roberts on the Incredible Unlikeliness of Human Existence

    Dec 11 2014

    Who are we? Why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? How did we become the creatures that we are? How might we further evolve? These are some of the big questions that Brian Cox and Alice Roberts tackled when they came to the Intelligence Squared stage on 2nd December 2014. Brian Cox is the rockstar who became a scientist, and is now a rockstar scientist. He is known to millions as the presenter of the BBC Wonders series in which he unravels the complexities of the universe with calm clar...more

  • P.J. O'Rourke: The Funniest Man in America

    Dec 04 2014

    P.J. O'Rourke is America's premier political satirist and has more citations in The Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotations than any other living writer. In this live appearance for Intelligence Squared in 2010, he discussed his new book, "Don't Vote - It Just Encourages the Bastards", a brilliant, hilarious and ultimately sobering look at why politics and politicians are a necessary evil — but only just barely necessary. Moving from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman to a late-night girls' boardin...more

  • I'd rather Be a Roundhead than a Cavalier

    Nov 26 2014

    In the 1640s England was devastated by a civil war that divided the nation into two tribes – Roundheads and Cavaliers. Counties, towns, even families and friends were rent apart as the nation pledged its allegiance either to King Charles I (supported by the Cavaliers) or to Parliament (backed by the Roundheads). Some 200,000 lives were lost in the desperate conflict which eventually led to the victory of the Roundheads under Oliver Cromwell and the execution of the king in 1649. The ideas that ...more

  • David Grossman in conversation with Linda Grant

    Nov 20 2014

    One of Israel’s most acclaimed writers, David Grossman is the author of numerous pieces of fiction, nonfiction and children's literature. His work has dealt with Jewish history, the occupation of the West Bank, the cost of war and the dramas of family life, and has been translated into 25 languages around the world. He has been a vocal critic of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and has been one of the most prominent cultural advocates of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian con...more

  • Psychiatrists & the pharma industry are to blame for the current ‘epidemic’ of mental disorders

    Nov 13 2014

    Drug pushers. We tend to associate them with the bleak underworld of criminality. But some would argue that there’s another class of drug pushers, just as unscrupulous, who work in the highly respectable fields of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. And they deserve the same moral scrutiny that we apply to the drug pedlar on the street corner. Within the medical profession labels are increasingly being attached to everyday conditions previously thought to be beyond the remit of medical h...more

  • William Gibson on 'Zero History' with Cory Doctorow

    Nov 07 2014

    On 5th October 2010, Intelligence Squared paired author William Gibson with popular blogger and science fiction writer Cory Doctorow in a wide-ranging conversation that gives a fascinating insight into the mind of the man heralded as the "architect of cool". Thanks to Audible for supporting the Intelligence Squared podcast. Get a free audiobook of your choice at audiblepodcast.com/debate.

  • Stop Bashing Christians! Britain has become an anti-Christian country

    Oct 30 2014

    Are Christians victims of a hateful animus, or are they demanding special treatment in a secular state which in fact applies the law equally to all? Peter Hitchens fears that without Christianity, we might end up undermining the whole foundation of law in this country. But agony aunt Claire Rayner thinks that we shouldn’t need God in order to be good. Journalist Matthew Parris wonders how intelligent people can still believe in God. They were joined by former Archbishop of Canterbury George Car...more

  • Is London too rich to be interesting?

    Oct 23 2014

    It used to be so easy. You left university, came to London and got yourself a flatshare in one of the cheaper areas: Notting Hill, Maida Vale or Highgate. Living was cheap and if it took you a while to find out what you really wanted to do with your life you could drift about a bit and get by. But now thanks to vast City bonuses and the influx of foreign billionaires, London house prices have soared beyond the reach of all but the seriously rich. Parts of Notting Hill and Kensington have become ...more

  • Karen Armstrong on Religion and the History of Violence

    Oct 16 2014

    Karen Armstrong has written over 16 books on faith and the major religions, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and how our faiths have shaped world history and drive current events. She came to the Intelligence Squared stage to talk about her forthcoming book 'Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence'. Journeying from prehistoric times to the present, she contrasted medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus’ vis...more

  • Napoleon The Great?

    Oct 09 2014

    How should we remember Napoleon, the man of obscure Corsican birth who rose to become emperor of the French and briefly master of Europe? As the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo approaches in 2015, Intelligence Squared brought together two of Britain’s finest historians to debate how we should assess Napoleon’s life and legacy. Was he a military genius and father of the French state, or a blundering nonentity who created his own enduring myth? Was his goal of uniting the European con...more

  • Steven Pinker on Good Writing with Ian McEwan

    Sep 30 2014

    Steven Pinker is one of the world’s leading authorities on language, mind and human nature. A professor of psychology at Harvard, he is the bestselling author of eight books and regularly appears in lists of the world’s top 100 thinkers. On September 25th he returned to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his latest publication 'The Sense of Style', a short and entertaining writing guide for the 21st century. Pinker argued that bad writing can’t be blamed on the internet, or on “the kids ...more

  • Francis Fukuyama in Conversation with David Runciman

    Sep 25 2014

    Professor Francis Fukuyama came to the Intelligence Squared stage in September, to square up with one of Britain’s most brilliant political thinkers, David Runciman, to assess how democracy is faring in 2014. We certainly haven’t attained the rosy future that some thought Fukuyama was predicting in his book 'The End of History and The Last Man' in 1992: authoritarianism is entrenched in Russia and China, in the last decade the developed democracies have experienced severe financial crises and ri...more

  • Marina Abramović on art, performance, time and nothingness

    Sep 18 2014

    Marina Abramović is the most celebrated performance artist in the world. Over a career spanning four decades she has pioneered performance as an art form and accumulated a devoted following that includes Jay-Z and Lady Gaga. Using her body as both subject and object, Abramović explores notions of nothingness and time, and draws in the audience as part of her performance. At her 2010 exhibition, ‘The Artist is Present’, at New York’s MOMA visitors were invited to sit silently opposite her and ga...more

  • History Shows Us That Scotland and England Would Be Better Off as Separate Kingdoms

    Sep 11 2014

    This event was recorded at the Chalke Valley History Festival in July 2014. The future of the Union will be voted for in a referendum soon, and this debate explored the historical relationship between Scotland and England, and the direct bearing that has on the vote facing the Scots in a few days' time. The United Kingdom faces one of the biggest constitutional issues in its history, and our panel debated this most important of decisions. Proposing the motion were journalist and historian Simo...more

  • London Should Love Its Bankers

    Sep 04 2014

    Do the British have a death wish? You’d be forgiven for thinking so the way so many of them seem to want to cripple the most dynamic part of their own economy. What is the world’s largest market for dollars? London. Where does the Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange go when it wants to buy or sell billions of US Treasury bonds? London. Which sector of the economy delivers £12 out of every £100 in tax to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? London’s financial centre. Its accumulated ski...more

  • Has Martin Luther King's Dream Been Realized?

    Aug 29 2014

    This event was on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. On 28 August 1963, civil rights campaigners marched on Washington to secure equality before the law. Today, America’s first black president sits in the White House, yet more African-Americans are on probation, parole or in prison than there were slaves in 1850. In the UK, 45% of young black people are unemployed as opposed to 20% of young whites. Meanwhile support for European far right organisations like Gol...more

  • Money Can't Buy Happiness

    Aug 21 2014

    Leading voices from the fields of science, philosophy came to the Intelligence Squared Asia stage for this thought-provoking debate about the pursuit of wealth and its relationship to happiness. Among other topics, this debate raised questions about the link between being rich and being happy, what constitutes happiness, whether economic prosperity is key to personal satisfaction - or to political stability, and if so, what the policy implications should be. Speaking for the motion in this deb...more

  • University is an unwise investment

    Aug 14 2014

    For many Western teenagers university has long been considered a passport to the good life: a rite of passage consisting of mind-expanding reading and writing or the acquisition of a professional qualification, and meeting like-minded people often over a drink or three – all ending up in a well paid, interesting job and a network of useful contacts. But in these straitened times is the traditional university education really worth the time and money – and the hangovers? More and more young peop...more

  • It's Time to End The War on Drugs

    Aug 04 2014

    To liberalise or prohibit, that is the question. Prohibitionists argue that legalising anything increases its consumption. The world has enough of a problem with legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, so why add to the problem by legalising cannabis, cocaine and heroin? The liberalisers say prohibition doesn’t work. By declaring certain drugs illegal we haven’t reduced consumption or solved any problem. Instead we’ve created an epidemic of crime, illness, failed states and money laundering. W...more

  • "Contemporary Art Excludes the 99%"

    Jul 31 2014

    What is the role of contemporary art museums today? Are biennales and art fairs platforms for experiment and exchange, or little more than social attractions for the elite? Have collectors become the new curators? Are private and corporate interests in culture at odds with the public good? And ultimately, who is art for? In this debate recorded in Hong Kong in 2012, award-winning documentary film-maker, author and art critic, Ben Lewis, and Hong Kong-born artist, Paul Chan, spoke for the motion...more

  • America's Drone Campaign Is Both Moral And Effective

    Jul 24 2014

    Bug splats. That’s what the American operators of drones, sitting in safety thousands of miles away, call the casualties of a drone attack in Pakistan or Yemen. Why bug splats? Because that’s what a human body zapped by a drone looks like on those Americans’ video screens. Thousands of those splats were in fact innocent bystanders unfortunate enough to be nearby the “target”. We call this warfare but it isn’t: it’s assassination. Drones allow political and military leaders, unhampered by public ...more

  • Sex, bugs & video tapes: the private lives of public figures deserve more protection from the press

    Jul 17 2014

    Would you like the details of your sex life, private conversations, and hidden passions splashed across the pages of a British tabloid or published online? Could you do anything to stop it? In Britain, unlike in the USA or France, there is no right to privacy, only a much weaker "right to confidence". And though Britain has notoriously tight libel laws – making it the favoured destination for libel tourists – they only work retrospectively, after publication, by which time your reputation has be...more

  • Art Schools Are Bad At Producing Good Artists

    Jul 10 2014

    What makes a good artist? Can creativity can be taught? What kind of education ups the ante for success in today’s global culture? These are some of the questions that were explored in this Intelligence Squared Asia debate in Singapore in January 2013. Singapore artist and curator Heman Chong and White Cube Asia Director Graham Steele proposed the motion. It was opposed by British artist Michael Craig-Martin and American art critic Blake Gopnik. The debate was chaired by Georgina Adam, editor-a...more

  • Jesus Would Have Voted Democrat

    Jul 03 2014

    Remember the rich man and the eye of the needle? Blessed are the meek? The last shall be first? Jesus didn’t hold much truck for wealth or power, nor was he exactly a supporter of family values. He didn’t even encourage hard work (“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”). So you might easily conclude that like every other liberal Jesus would have voted Democrat. Yet most God-fearing, church-going Americans vote Republican, the party associated with the rich...more

  • Shakespeare vs Milton: The Kings of English Literature Debate

    Jun 26 2014

    Nearly four centuries after his death, no writer has come close to matching Shakespeare’s understanding of the world – or his gift for dramatic poetry. It’s not just kings and queens that he captured so uniquely in his transcendent verse. Shakespeare analysed the human condition, not just for Elizabethan England, but throughout the world and for eternity. Britain may not have matched the Continent for music or art but when it comes to literature, Shakespeare sees off all international rivals, wh...more

  • A Journey Into Outer Space, With Brian Cox

    Jun 19 2014

    Are they out there? Intelligent beings from another world. Will we ever make contact with them? Is it even sensible to make guesses about whether life exists in other galaxies billions of light years from our own? How much do we know about outer space? What are black holes, dark matter and strange attractors? Is our universe just one amongst an infinity of multiverses? Can we dispense with the idea of a creator God? On 16th March 2011 some of the greatest names in space exploration and the myst...more

  • VS Naipaul in Conversation With Geordie Greig

    Jun 12 2014

    Nobel laureate and giant of Western letters, Trinidad-born V. S. Naipaul has excelled in both fiction and non-fiction. His latest book The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief is a travelogue in which Naipaul sets out to discover how far the old Africa's belief in magic has been subverted by the outside world. "I had expected that over the great size of Africa the practices of magic would significantly vary. But they didn’t. The diviners everywhere wanted to ‘throw the bones’ to read the...more

  • Stop Poking the Bear: The West Needs to Engage with Putin Not Castigate Him

    Jun 05 2014

    You don’t have to like Vladimir Putin, or doubt that he’s a nasty piece of work, to recognise that the Russian president’s reaction to the crisis in Ukraine is largely justified. The promise that Russia managed to extract from the West, as it watched its old empire crumble, was that NATO would not expand eastward and that the Baltic states and Poland would not be absorbed into the EU. Not only have Nato and the EU broken that promise, they have even sought to bring Ukraine – for centuries seen a...more

  • How to Think Like a Freak: Learn How to Make Smarter Decisions with the authors of "Freakonomics"

    May 29 2014

    The books Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics have been worldwide sensations, selling tens of millions of copies. They have come to stand for challenging conventional wisdom using data rather than emotion. Questions they examine are typically: Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? How much do parents really matter? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it’s so ineffective? Now the books’ two authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, have turned what they’ve learned into ...more

  • Look West Not East: South America Will be the 21st Century's Superpower

    May 21 2014

    Conventional wisdom tells us that a new star will rise in the East, and all eyes have been looking towards China or India as the 21st century’s new superpower. But remarkable as their recent economic growth may have been, the institutional frailty of both nations raises questions about long-term sustainability. Meanwhile the economies of South America have also been transforming themselves quietly and less flashily, unburdened by the dead weight of caste politics or communism. And it’s not just ...more

  • The Allied Bombing of German Cities in World War Two Was Unjustifiable

    May 12 2014

    No one doubts the bravery of the thousands of men who flew and died in Bomber Command. The death rate was an appalling 44%. And yet until the opening of a monument in Green Park this year they have received no official recognition, with many historians claiming that the offensive was immoral and unjustified. How can it be right, they argue, for the Allies to have deliberately targeted German cities causing the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians? Even on a strategic level the offensive f...more

  • Calm Down Dears: State Snooping Is A Price Worth Paying For Our Security

    May 07 2014

    So now we know: our spooks and their spooks are hoovering up and exchanging massive amounts of data on our private lives: not just whom we phone and email but the actual content of our communications; not just which websites we visit but what we choose to buy online. No wonder there’s been such a furore. William Hague has already admitted that the spooks are allowed to pry pretty much where they want and now it’s been revealed that the US National Security Agency allows analysts to search our em...more

  • Western Parents Don't Know How to Bring Up Their Children

    May 01 2014

    Why are there so many Chinese maths and music prodigies? Because Chinese mothers believe schoolwork and music practice come first, that an A-minus is a bad grade, that sleepovers, TV and computer games should never be allowed and that the only activity their children should be permitted to do are ones in which they can eventually win a medal - and that medal must be gold. These methods certainly seem to get results but do they make for the rounded individuals Western parents are striving to br...more

  • The Making Of The Modern Middle East: Lawrence of Arabia and King Faisal I

    Apr 24 2014

    How much blame for the current troubles in the Middle East lies with the decisions made by the West in 1919 – when the Ottoman Empire was carved up arbitrarily into the modern states we know today? Is it true that Arab society has tended to define itself less by what it aspires to become than what it is opposed to: colonialism, Zionism, and Western imperialism? That era seems to be coming to an end with the recent Arab Spring movements. As ethnic and religious loyalties intensify, will new lines...more

  • Britain Should Not Have Fought In The First World War

    Apr 17 2014

    As we approach the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, books, television documentaries and articles on the subject abound. So do different opinions, especially as to whether Britain’s engagement was worth it. Was it a vitally important crusade to prevent an oppressive German-dominated Europe? Or a catastrophic mistake that brought Communism to power in Russia, ripped up the map of Europe and left a festering sense of resentment that would fuel the rise of Nazism? In this debate f...more

  • Stephen Fry and Friends on the Life, Loves and Hates of Christopher Hitchens

    Apr 11 2014

    In this historic event, Stephen Fry and other friends of Christopher Hitchens came together to celebrate the life and work of this great writer, polemicist and orator. Fry was joined on stage in London by Richard Dawkins where the two discussed Hitchens' unflinching commitment to the truth. Hollywood actor Sean Penn was beamed in from LA via Google+ Hangouts and, between cigarette puffs, read from Hitchens' acclaimed work, 'The Trial of Henry Kissinger'. And friends of Hitchens, including Marti...more

  • The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Cannot Rock the Boardroom

    Apr 03 2014

    Is it a myth that women can have it all, all of the time? Or do the rising numbers of female executives in Hong Kong and around the world suggest otherwise? Does the glass ceiling exist as a barrier to the boardroom, or is the only limitation to a woman’s professional success her personal ambition? To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, Intelligence Squared Asia brought together four experts to ask whether a good mother has time to be a good CEO. In this debate, which took place in ...more

  • The Best Chance For Peace In Israel And Palestine Is For Uncle Sam To Butt Out

    Mar 27 2014

    Is it surprising that the Israelis and Palestinians are still unable to come to some sort of agreement? After all if the adjudicator in a mediation is firmly on your side why bother to concede anything to the enemy? Conversely, why accept anything proposed by the adjudicator if you know his affections are biased towards the other side? We know America’s neutrality is hopelessly compromised on this issue and it doesn’t pretend otherwise. Say something against Israel in the run-up to the US presid...more

  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Democracy is Not Always the Best Form of Government

    Mar 20 2014

    Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. So said Winston Churchill and who would disagree? One man, one vote, the rule of law, equality and a free press. These are the principles which tens of thousands have been imprisoned or lost their lives for in despotic regimes from South America to Burma. In recent months a violent struggle for democratic rights has been taking place on the EU’s doorstep in Ukraine. Scores of people have been killed in demonstr...more

  • Sam Harris on the Science of Good and Evil

    Mar 13 2014

    Where do our ideas about morality and meaning come from? Most people - from religious extremists to secular scientists - would agree on one point: that science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, science's failure to explain meaning and morality has become the primary justification for religious faith and the reason why even many non-believers feel obliged to accord respect to the beliefs of the devout. In this podcast, recorded at our event in April 2011, Sam Harris, th...more

  • Between You and I The English Language Is Going To The Dogs

    Mar 06 2014

    Speaking and writing correct English are the hallmark of an intelligent person. No one who cares about language wants to be caught splitting an infinitive or muddling up ‘infer’ and ‘imply’. Which is why the bestseller lists are regularly topped by books on 'good' English by the likes of Daily Mail polemicist Simon Heffer and Today programme presenter John Humphrys - both of whom defend the motion in this debate from 5th March 2014. Taking them on are Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambri...more

  • Jane Austen Vs Emily Bronte: The Queens of English Literature Debate

    Feb 27 2014

    Who was the Queen of English literature. Was it Jane Austen with her sensitive ear for the hypocrisy lurking beneath the genteel conversation in the drawing rooms of Georgian England? Or Emily Brontë with the complex tale of violent attraction, thwarted love, death and the supernatural that she recounts in her masterpiece 'Wuthering Heights'? In this, the first of our new series of literary combat events, we gather together an illustrious cast of speakers. Professor John Mullan, distinguished E...more

  • Niall Ferguson On The Six Killer Apps Of Western Civilisation

    Feb 20 2014

    Niall Ferguson is the most brilliant British historian of his generation. In this talk from February 2011, based on his book 'Civilisation: The West and the Rest', he asks how Western civilization came to dominate the rest of the world. His answer is that the West developed six “killer applications” that the Rest lacked: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the Protestant work ethic. The key question today is whether or not the West has lost its monopoly on these six t...more

  • "Let The Bad Guys Be: The Perils of Foreign Intervention" with David Aaronovitch and Rory Stewart

    Feb 13 2014

    Some leaders are so objectionable – Bashar al-Assad, Robert Mugabe – that it may seem only right to strain every sinew to get rid of them. But ghastly as their regimes may be, is there any reason to think that foreign intervention makes the situation better? Quite apart from the loss of life and limb to those intervening, what are the costs to those being "liberated"? In the end, forced to choose between these two evils, wouldn't most of us prefer tyranny to anarchy? In this one on one debate...more

  • Daniel Goleman On Focus: The Secret to High Performance and Fulfilment

    Feb 07 2014

    Psychologist Daniel Goleman shot to fame with his groundbreaking bestseller 'Emotional Intelligence'. The premise of the book, now widely accepted, is that raw intelligence alone is not a sure predictor of success in life. A greater role is played by ‘softer’ skills such as self-control, self-motivation, empathy and good interpersonal relationships. In this exclusive talk for Intelligence Squared, Goleman discusses the themes of his latest book, 'Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence'. Attenti...more

  • We've Never Had It So Good

    Jan 31 2014

    It's 2014 and what does Britain have to look forward to? Osborne’s welfare cuts. An umpteenth series of Celebrity Big Brother. Adult children still living at home and cadging off the Bank of Mum and Dad (repayment not guaranteed). That’s the gripe of the Debbie Downers, but give a thought to how life used to be even within living memory. Buttoned up emotions. Casual racism. Meagre defences against disease and infection. And no internet. Surely life is better now than it’s ever been before? On ...more

  • An Evening With Slavoj Zizek

    Jan 24 2014

    Radical philosopher, polymath, film star, cult icon, and author of over 30 books, Slavoj Žižek is one of the most controversial and leading contemporary public intellectuals, simultaneously acclaimed as the ‘Elvis of cultural theory’ and denounced as ‘the most dangerous philosopher in the West’. In this special lecture for Intelligence Squared from July 2011, Žižek argues that global capitalism is fast approaching its terminal crisis and that our collective responses to economic Armageddon corr...more

  • Let Them Come: We Have Nothing To Fear From High Levels Of Immigration

    Jan 17 2014

    Does mass immigration boost our economy and cultural richness or undermine them? Hear Times columnist David Aaronovitch, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and the economist Susie Symes go head to head with UKIP's Nigel Farage, Demos director David Goodhart and journalist and author Harriet Sergeant, over our motion "Let them come: we have nothing to fear from high levels of immigration". The debate took place at London's Royal Geographical Society on 10th October, 2013.

  • Steven Pinker on The Better Angels of Our Nature

    Jan 10 2014

    We launch our first podcast of the year today – our 2011 talk by the world renowned American cognitive scientist Steven Pinker. In it he argues that, contrary to popular belief, we are living in the least violent period of history. And that even the horrific carnage of the last century, compared to primitive societies, is part of this trend. Pinker claims that, thanks to the spread of government, literacy and trade, we are actually becoming better people.

  • Verdi vs Wagner: The 200th Anniversary Debate with Stephen Fry

    Dec 24 2013

    Think opera and you think Verdi. Verdi created some of the most beloved operas of all time, from the romantic tragedy of La traviata and Rigoletto to the Shakespearian dramas of Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff Verdi’s music transcends the barriers between high and low culture. Many of his arias count among the greatest songs ever written, streaming out of opera houses and into football stadiums and even the charts. Verdi was also the outstanding cultural figure at the heart of the unification of I...more

  • Eric Schmidt On The New Digital Age

    Dec 21 2013

    Eric Schmidt is one of the leading visionaries of our time. He has taken Google from a small start-up to one of the world’s most influential companies. In this conversation with Bryan Appleyard from May 2013, he sets out the themes of his new book 'The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business', which he has co-authored with Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas. These include: - new technologies that will change lives: information systems that increase productiv...more

  • An Anatomy Of Truth: Conversations on Truth-Telling

    Dec 20 2013

    Not everyone tells the truth. ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’ ‘This isn’t going to hurt.’ ‘I see no ships, my lord.’ ‘Of course I love you.’ When can we know what to believe? Four out of five of us don’t think politicians tell the truth, according to a recent MORI poll. But is telling the truth always the right or best thing to do? If it isn’t, what happens to trust? If it is, are there different kinds of truth? Do we always want to hear the truth? Do different professions need to have systemicall...more

  • Putin Has Been Good For Russia

    Dec 20 2013

    There’s not a lot to like about Vladimir Putin: he’s autocratic, vain and runs a corrupt government. And he doesn’t give a fig for human rights. The repression in Chechnya, the jailing of the (now pardoned) businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Pussy Riot protesters, the murders of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and of Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy – all this happened on Putin’s watch. Who would not be on the side of the 100,000 people who turned out on Moscow’s streets last winter to p...more

  • Nate Silver On The Art And Science Of Prediction

    Dec 19 2013

    Nate Silver is the 35-year-old data engineer and forecaster with superstar status. He shot to fame in 2008 for correctly predicting the outcome in 49 out of 50 states in the US presidential election. In 2012, when most media pundits and political analysts claimed the US election was “too close to call”, Silver trumped them all again, giving Obama a 92% chance of winning. Barack Obama has called him “my rock, my foundation”, and Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times described him as “our age’s Brun...more

  • Angela Merkel is Destroying Europe

    Dec 19 2013

    They're calling her the devil. Inflammatory words, but Europe has every reason to be livid with the German Chancellor. Angela Merkel’s austerity measures are strangling the economies of the southern nations of Europe, creating huge unemployment and preventing them from paying off their debts – the very reason for introducing these measures in the first place. Worse still, she refuses to give Europe a desperately needed boost by opening up Germany’s economy, and now plans to run a budget surplus ...more

  • Jimmy Carter in Conversation with Jon Snow

    Dec 18 2013

    President Jimmy Carter is a Nobel Prize winner, author, humanitarian, professor, farmer, naval officer and carpenter. In this special Intelligence Squared interview with Channel 4 News's Jon Snow, which took place in October 2011, President Carter talks about his career as president, and the past three decades as a senior statesman and ambassador for the Carter Center. He shares his stories from a truly remarkable and well-lived life and his views of global politics today.

  • Send Them Back: The Parthenon Marbles Should be Returned to Athens

    Dec 16 2013

    What’s all this nonsense about sending the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece? If Lord Elgin hadn’t rescued them from the Parthenon in Athens and presented them to the British Museum almost 200 years ago, these exquisite sculptures – the finest embodiment of the classical ideal of beauty and harmony – would have been lost to the ravages of pollution and time. So we have every right to keep them: indeed, returning them would set a dangerous precedent, setting off a clamour for every Egyptian mummy ...more

  • The West Has Failed Syria

    Dec 16 2013

    To say “The West has failed Syria” tempts us into the dangerous belief that had we only got stuck into this conflict from the off, things would now be better. It’s a belief, as recent history shows, we badly need to resist. So speaks the voice of caution. But are we really saying that the best the big powers can do is just sit on the sidelines and watch Syria destroy itself? In this debate from October 2013, former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown and City University's Professor of Middle...more

  • The Catholic Church is a Force For Good in The World

    Dec 13 2013

    Can anything good really be said of an institution that has such a warped attitude to sex that it tries to stop the world from wearing a condom, is bitterly opposed to gays leading a fulfilled life and regards women as unworthy of officiating in its rituals? But who you gonna call when it comes to finding a good school for your children, when it comes to standing up for the oppressed, when it comes to giving material and spiritual succour to the wretched of the earth? In 2009 Stephen Fry and Ch...more

  • Daniel Dennett on Tools to Transform our Thinking

    Dec 12 2013

    Daniel Dennett is one of the world’s most original and provocative thinkers. A philosopher and cognitive scientist, he is known as one of the ‘Four Horseman of New Atheism’ along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. On May 22nd he came to Intelligence Squared to share the insights he has acquired over his 40-year career into the nature of how we think, decide and act. Dennett revealed his favourite thinking tools, or ‘intuition pumps’, that he and others have deve...more

  • Thomas Friedman: A Manifesto For Rescuing America

    Dec 11 2013

    14. Thomas Friedman: A manifesto for rescuing America Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist – the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of six bestselling books, and writes a twice-weekly column for The New York Times. He's also one of the most brilliant orators to have graced the Intelligence Squared stage. In this talk from June 2012 he discusses his latest book 'That Used to be Us: What Went Wrong with America and How it Can Come Back'...more

  • David Eagleman on the Science of De- (and Re-) Humanisation (and Why it Matters)

    Dec 11 2013

    Which side were you on? The Jets or the Sharks? The Capulets or the Montagues? The Greeks or the Trojans? Antony or Caesar? William or Harold? And so the list goes on ... Indeed, maybe the whole of human history is the story of group-making and group-breaking. The passions of loyalty and love for the in-group are matched by the de-humanising indignation and hatred for the out-group. But what's actually going on in the chemical soup of the brain when Agamemnon gathers his heros-to-be and sets s...more

  • Naomi Wolf on 'Vagina: A New Biography'

    Dec 10 2013

    American author Naomi Wolf made her name with The Beauty Myth, a book that exposed the tyranny of the ideal of female beauty. Now she’s back with a no less dramatic or controversial new work. In Vagina: A New Biography Wolf makes the case that the vagina is much more than a sex organ – it is integral to female well-being, and a catalyst to female creativity, confidence and identity. In this talk for Intelligence Squared she explained how the latest neuroscience reveals fascinating new discoveri...more

  • Chris Anderson on the Democratisation of Manufacturing, Design and Technology

    Dec 10 2013

    In an age of custom-fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed... Check out today's Advent podcast where Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop.

  • Jeffrey Sachs on JFK and His Quest For Peace

    Dec 06 2013

    How can leadership lessons from the past be applied to intractable international problems today? In this talk from July 2013, shortly before the 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy's assignation, the world renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs analysed JFK’s rhetoric of peace and explains how it began a process that led to détente and eventually to the end of the Cold War. How was it that only 8 months after the Cuban missile crisis had brought the world to the brink of self-destruction K...more

  • Terry Eagleton in conversation with Roger Scruton

    Dec 06 2013

    What really divides the left and the right? To answer this question, Intelligence Squared brought together two giants of British intellectual culture for an ideological reckoning: Terry Eagleton, literary critic and long-time hero of the radical left, and Roger Scruton, right-wing philosopher who has written on everything from economic theory to literature, and architecture to wine. What we heard was two two irreducibly different views of the world, where each tries hard to understand the other...more

  • Dan Pink on the Science of Buoyancy

    Dec 04 2013

    It happens to all of us every day. You get rejected. Your customer doesn’t buy. Your boss doesn’t agree. Your crush doesn’t say yes. In this provocative and entertaining talk, Daniel Pink, author of the New York Times best seller Drive, harvests a rich trove of social science to explain the theory and practice of bouncing back.

  • Michael Sandel on the Moral Limits of Markets

    Dec 04 2013

    Should we pay children to get good grades? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars, or selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay? Michael Sandel is one of the world's most acclaimed and popular political philosophers. He has given the BBC Reith lectures and his online lectures for Harvard University attract millions of views. In this talk from May 2012 he looked at the role of markets in a democratic s...more

  • Robert Macfarlane on Landscape and the Human Heart

    Dec 04 2013

    How do the landscapes we love shape the people we are? Why do we walk? For several years and more than a thousand miles, celebrated travel writer Robert Macfarlane has been following the vast network of old paths and routes that criss-cross Britain and its waters, and connect them to countries and continents beyond. Listen to his enthralling account from June 2012 of the ghosts and voices that haunt old tracks, of songlines and their singers, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, and of righ...more

  • Western Liberal Democracy Would be Wrong for China

    Dec 02 2013

    People everywhere are better off living in liberal democracy: that has been the reigning assumption of the western world. But could it be we’ve got it wrong? If you were one of the world’s billions of poor peasants might you not be better off under a system dedicated to political stability and economic growth – one that has lifted 400 million out of poverty – rather than one preoccupied with human rights, the rule of law, and the chance to vote out unpopular rulers? Thanks to the Chinese model o...more

  • Pornography is Good For Us: Without it We Would Be a Far More Repressed Society

    Dec 01 2013

    Hooray for porn! What would we be without it? Bored, repressed, frustrated. Porn allows the timid to indulge fantasies they’d never live out in real life and the adventurous to experiment with new forms of pleasure. Now that it has stepped down from the top shelf and waltzed across the internet we can all enjoy it. All we need to do is stop pretending it’s something dirty and come straight out and salute it. Or maybe not. Porn after all is selling a lie: that women are always eager to engage in...more

  • Both Britain and the EU Would Be Happier if They got Divorced

    Dec 01 2013

    Some people just can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that a relationship is over. Finished. Unsalvageable. David Cameron, for instance. His long awaited speech on Europe has been one big exercise in denial. Yes, we should stay married to Europe, he says, because we can now renegotiate our wedding vows and get the EU to do things our way. Who is he kidding? If it were so easy to pick ‘n mix what we want from Brussels, wolfing down all the soft-centred goodies and rejecting the nutty ones, would...more

  • Intelligence Squared Presents the Elders

    Nov 28 2013

    Independent, free now from the constraints of office, with a wealth of experience and the ability to open doors at the highest level, The Elders are helping tackle some of the world’s most intractable problems. On 2nd July 2012, we brought together three members of the organisation – President Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – for a special discussion with Channel 4′s Jon Snow at the Barbican Centre. Listen to it now.