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Intelligence Squared

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Intelligence Squared is the world's premier debating forum, providing a unique platform for the leading figures in politics, journalism, and the media to contest the most important issues of the day. As well as its quick debates.

Intelligence Squared is the world's premier debating forum, providing a unique platform for the leading figures in politics, journalism, and the media to contest the most important issues of the day. As well as its quick debates.
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London, United Kingdom


Intelligence Squared is the world's premier debating forum, providing a unique platform for the leading figures in politics, journalism, and the media to contest the most important issues of the day. As well as its quick debates.




Newcombe House Notting Hill Gate W11 3LQ London, United Kingdom +44 (0)20 7792 4830


Yuval Noah Harari on the Rise of Homo Deus

“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...

Duration: 00:56:17

Tony Blair on Trial

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...

Duration: 01:05:51

Democracy is India's Achilles' heel

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...

Duration: 00:53:13

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

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'....

Duration: 00:56:29

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

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...

Duration: 01:11:34

From the Library: Terry Eagleton in conversation with Roger Scruton

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...

Duration: 01:29:59

The Right To Bear Arms Is A Freedom Too Far

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...

Duration: 00:44:56

The Great European Refugees And Migrants Debate

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 will be making in the Intelligence...

Duration: 00:56:59

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

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.

Duration: 00:48:04

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

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...

Duration: 00:54:35

Karl Ove Knausgaard: The Alchemist of the Ordinary

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...

Duration: 00:55:59

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

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...

Duration: 00:57:31

China picks better leaders than the West

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...

Duration: 00:54:37

Niall Ferguson: Henry Kissinger Reappraised, with Andrew Roberts

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...

Duration: 00:57:03

Inside The Head Of Terry Gilliam

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...

Duration: 00:55:10

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

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.

Duration: 01:55:37

Yuval Noah Harari on the myths we need to survive

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...

Duration: 00:56:15

Western Liberal Democracy Would Be Wrong for China

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...

Duration: 00:58:41

Ten Years After 9/11: The World Remade

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...

Duration: 01:01:06

From the Library: Jimmy Carter in Conversation with Jon Snow

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.

Duration: 00:59:46

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