Thursday, April 23, 2009


IQ2 Debates

Earlier this week I decided to start listening to some NPR podcasts at work. I needed something other than my usual music to listen to and thought I'd give some radio shows a chance. I quite enjoyed the one podcast of This American Life that was available, the few This I Believe shows, and the last few weeks worth of Science Friday. I'd heard of each of these and kind of knew that they were quality, having been told so by numerous friends whose opinions I respect.

The biggest surprise for me was Intelligence Squared, which I'd never heard of. It's a debate show, where they bring in experts on different subjects and have them compete in Oxford style debate in an attempt to win the crowd to agree with their viewpoint. The subjects covered ranges from "Should performance enhancing drugs be accepting in professional sports" to "Is the art market less ethical than the stock market" to "Is universal health care the government's responsibility." While I've listened to each debate usually with my own preference beforehand, I've been quite surprised as the quality of the arguments made for both sides. Truthfully, the health care debate has made me greatly reconsider my position, though I haven't changed it entirely.

If you're looking for something to listen to, I cannot recommend these debates enough. They're mentally stimulating and fascinating. (The debate on "Is George Bush the worst president of the last 50 years" with Karl Rove is quite good.) Only the older debates are available for download in .mp3 format--and those are the edited (for time) versions of the debates that broadcast on NPR. If you have the means, that is to say, you don't need it in .mp3 format and can listen to it on your browser at your computer, the unedited debates are usually about twice as long--50 minutes edited, 1 hour 40 minutes unedited--and are significantly better.

As I said, if you have the time and want something to listen to, I highly recommend them. You just might learn something.

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