“From wherever you stood, the opposing side offered respectable, credible views. In today's fractured culture the evening struck a blow for civility.”
- The Huffington Post
January 16, 2013
Intelligence Squared U.S. takes its civic duty with more gravitas. The idea is that American attitudes have grown more entrenched and insular thanks to the Internet and to TVs with more than three channels. “We want to help people understand the facts behind the emotion,” Rosenkranz explained to an interviewer when the show launched. “Force people to have a greater respect for civil discourse, not trying to be bland, but appreciating how complicated the issues are.” The result lacks some of the gladiatorial fun of its British cousin. Host John Donvan, a former foreign and White House correspondent for ABC News, is an interventionist moderator who treats the debate more like a multi-person interview, interjecting questions, shushing the dominant, and congratulating guests at the end on their integrity.
November 13, 2012
Intelligence Squared U.S., the nonpartisan public policy debate series airing on public radio and some public TV stations, is coming to PBS Plus in January, with Chicago’s WTTW as the presenting station.
Eight debates will be offered monthly through 2013 during non-pledge periods, starting Jan. 17. The first episode takes on the provocative motion “Better Elected Islamists than Dictators.”
The one-hour programs, which already air on more than 220 NPR stations, are condensed from recordings of the one-hour-and-45-minute debates moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan before live audiences in New York. The series launched in 2006 as a nonprofit initiative of the Rosenkranz Foundation.
“We felt that it was the right time to go national,” said Dana Wolfe, executive producer of Intelligence Squared U.S.
In an interview, WTTW’s top TV executive Daniel Soles described the program as “a very unique offering” for the system: “thoughtful intelligent discussions on issues that affect us, presented in a way that allows the audience to make up their own minds.”
Before each debate, members of the studio audience are polled on whether they agree or disagree with the motion. A second poll is taken at the debate’s conclusion to determine whether the debate team arguing for or against the motion “wins”; the side that changes the most minds is declared the victor. “No one is demonized, and you’re rewarded by being articulate and presenting a good case,” said Soles, WTTW senior v.p. and chief television content officer.
A debate recorded Oct. 10 during the Chicago Ideas Week festival, for example, demonstrated how the viewers’ opinions can shift. The pre-debate poll on the motion to ration end-of-life care showed support by 43 percent, opposition from 22 percent and 35 percent undecided. Following the debate, support nearly doubled to 81 percent, 12 percent were opposed and just 7 percent remained undecided.
An earlier version of the TV show aired on Bloomberg TV, and in the 2011–12 season the programs moved to WNET, WLIW and NJTV in the New York area. Select debates, different from those to be offered for broadcast through PBS Plus, also air on the digital World channel syndicated by American Public Television. All debates also stream live on FORA.tv and are archived on the Intelligence Squared U.S. website.
WTTW aired a handful of the shows in past seasons, including debates that were staged in Chicago, before deciding to sign on as presenting station for the PBS Plus distribution deal. “We’re really glad that after a few years these debates will finally be available to all the stations around the country,” Soles said. “I’m confident there is going to be a loyal following.”
The NPR audience has steadily grown, Wolfe said, noting that the podcast is currently averaging 100,300 monthly downloads, up from 85,052 a year ago. She said producers are also developing a website widget that will allow stations to invite their listeners and viewers to vote on debate motions in advance of local broadcasts.
September 28, 2012
Wednesday night. Romney vs. Obama. Live. The 28th episode in America’s long-running television series — the presidential debates — in which two men go on stage and face off without scripts or teleprompters, and with the ever-present possibility of getting trounced or humiliated. In presidential politics, a debate — a real debate — is a test like no other.
That’s why none of us has never seen one. A true debate is just too risky. From 1960 onward, the events called presidential debates have delivered not clashes of of rhetorical greatness but the spectacle of two people engaged in dueling job interviews. These interviews unfold side by side in front of the same human resources representative, and the skill needed to land the position is much the same as the one eighth-graders rely on to win spelling bees: the ability to memorize the answers to the questions ahead of time, then repeat them, precisely as learned. Debates? Modern politicians don’t partake in debates. Not real ones.
Now, I serve on real debates. I know real debates. Real debaters are friends of mine. And these campaign-season sessions are not real debates. In fact, I would argue in the affirmative for the following proposition: We must change the format of the presidential debates.
Because the format is the problem. While the Commission on Presidential Debates, which stages these events, was criticized this year for booking too few female and minority moderators, and perennially for excluding third-party candidates, the more entrenched issue is the structure of the debates themselves. They are designed to keep the candidates from getting into trouble or embarrassing themselves by looking mean, uninformed or scared. That is a backward priority. A debate is a contest, a competition, a battle. The rules should be calibrated to produce the best contest possible, not to protect the contestants from themselves.
When candidates debate each other, they should debate each other. In a real debate, the participants engage, they grapple, they get into each other’s hair (metaphorically, of course). Without that clash of ideas and personalities, there’s no point in getting the two sides together on one stage. But in the presidential debates over the years, the rules have bizarrely permitted the candidates to “debate” without actually addressing each other. Some have spent the entire night studiously avoiding eye contact. Their escape mechanism is the moderator, designated as the one person on stage whom both candidates must address, in a weirdly triangulated conversation, as they work through the questions the moderator poses. So it becomes those questions, not the candidates’ ideas or personalities, driving the discussion. It feels hollow. It feels forced. There’s a simple fix for this: Make these candidates talk to each other.
August 22, 2012
With the debate moderators announced and the dates set, America awaits this year’s three presidential and one vice presidential debates.
Robert Rosenkranz thinks there’s a better way. His “Intelligence Squared U.S.” program was founded in 2006 and can be heard on 220 National Public Radio stations, on public television’s digital channel WORLD and via an online stream at Fora.TV.
August 02, 2012
Reading cultivates strong leaders - but what if you don't have time to read? Here's what to do: "Listen to content while driving or walking to work (I suggest “This American Life” and “Intelligence Squared” on NPR – I’m obsessed with both)."
July 27, 2012
Influential public policy debate series Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US) announces it's thirteenth season of six provocative new debates this fall. Beginning September 12th at new venue Kaufman Center, this season will cover some of the most pressing issues of this year's Presidential election while providing a new forum for intelligent, informed discussion.
July 12, 2012
CALL FOR ARTISTS: JOIN THE VISUAL DEBATE
You are invited to participate in the First Annual Intelligence Squared U.S. Visual Debate Contest.
Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates is a nonprofit, nonpartisan debate series broadcast nationwide on NPR and PBS. We are currently planning our next debate series focused on 2012 election issues which will premiere live in New York City September 2012.
This opportunity will award national exposure through iq2us.org, NPR, PBS and other national media partners; exhibition of your original work for sale at private debate events; recognition in social media, digital and print promotions; dedicated press releases and more. Your work will be selected by a panel of high-profile members of the NYC fine arts and media industries.
Digital graphic design, photography, fine art, composite images, pop culture references and mixed media will all be considered. Images must be able to be digitized and duplicated in print as high-resolution images.
We will select one work to visually represent each debate topic in our Fall 2012 series, focused on election issues.
Topics available currently include the following and are subject to change:
TWO CHEERS FOR SUPERPACS
Do Super PACs enhance democracy by increasing political speech, or are elections being bought by the wealthy few?
AMERICA CAN’T AFFORD ITS DEFENSE BUDGET
As the U.S. struggles through recession, will defense cuts compromise national security, or can we maintain pre-eminence on less?
END-OF-LIFE CARE IS A RIP-OFF
Should we ration costly end-of-life care, or should difficult medical decisions remain with patients and their families?
THE RICH ARE TAXED ENOUGH
Are the nation’s wealthiest not paying their “fair share,” or should tax breaks be extended for everyone?
Post-election related topics include:
DECRIMINALIZE THE WAR ON DRUGS
The “War on Drugs” fills prisons with drug users and cost taxpayers $2.5 trillion. Is this a war that we’re winning?
SCIENCE MAKES RELIGION IRRELEVANT
Evolution or creation? Has modern science debunked religion’s core beliefs, or can science and religion co-exist?
Please submit any questions or contact us for more in-depth topic information – we will share any further details you might need.
Submissions will be accepted until August 15, 2012.
We look forward to your work.
June 18, 2012
Robert Leeming talks to US series producer Dana Wolfe about the US debate series
February 02, 2012
The Intelligence Squared Oxford style debates don’t just cover two competing sides of issues like education, the war on terror and religion. They’ll also train you in high-level debate. Highlights from last season include “Are Men Finished?” and “Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion?” Audio podcasts are downloadable through iTunes.
December 11, 2011
The influential public policy debate series Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US) has announced its spring 2012 season beginning January 10 at NYU's Skirball Center. The new season will feature propositions on topics from college football to capitalism in China, from Palestine statehood to political discourse in the online age. Confirmed debaters include best-selling author and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times bestselling author Dr. Pamela Peeke, MoveOn.org’s Eli Pariser, Fox News’ John Stossel, Slate Editor-in-Chief Jacob Weisberg and more, with additional panelists to be announced soon.
November 10, 2011
We crunch the numbers generated from five years of controversial tiffs on hot topics.
October 14, 2011
"My parents were communists,” volunteers Robert Rosenkranz, “but not in any sophisticated way.” It was just a part of the New York “left-wing milieu.” Rosenkranz was skeptical of their ideology, even as a boy. “Children often rebel against their parents’ ideas,” he says, “and when I heard my mother quote Marx approvingly—‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’—it immediately struck me as wrong. After all, I thought of myself as able and hard-working, and saw no reason why those who were not should have a claim on whatever prosperity I might eventually be able to add to the world.”
October 01, 2011
Robert Rosenkranz was worried about America. Why was the nation's civil discourse becoming so uncivil, the conservative, New York insurance executive and philanthropist wondered.
June 05, 2011
Intelligence Squared U.S., the celebrated New York-based live debate series that’s televised globally and broadcast on more than 220 NPR stations, and The Slate Group, the digital publishing subsidiary of The Washington Post Company whose centerpiece is Slate magazine, announced today an exclusive media partnership for the Fall 2011-Spring 2012 IQ2US debate series. The partnership officially launches on September 7, kicking off the new season.
June 14, 2010
The Rosenkranz Foundation announced it hosted its first Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US), an Oxford-style debate series, outside of New York City.
February 10, 2010
When was the last time you got someone to change their mind about a challenging issue? You know the usual drill. At a dinner party the topic of, say, Israel is broached, and the evening turns toxic. Opposing sides trot out long-held prejudices, opinion posing as fact, or - the worst! -statistics. No one even listens to, much less gets convinced by, anyone else.
October 18, 2009
POLARIZING political talk, overwrought in the extreme, is making for big headlines these days, so it is somewhat counterintuitive (or maybe just smart counterprogramming) that a program based on civilized, formal debate has chosen this moment to try to raise its profile.
February 06, 2009
"IT IS A CONTEST of wit and logic and ideas and facts and argument and, most of all, persuasion."
October 01, 2007
Robert Rosenkranz, 64, is chairman and CEO of Delphi Financial Group, Inc., and the founder and host of Manhattan's celebrated IQ2 Forum, a monthly gethering of the city's top movers & shakers in social change.
June 02, 2007
When it comes to worthy recipients of noblesse largesse, a well-meaning multimillionaire in New York has no shortage of gratifying options: the sick and the poor; cultural institutions; universities; the public sector.
February 14, 2007
How the Rosenkranz Foundation is injecting substance and civility into public policy discourse through its modern Oxford-style debate program by Bryan O'Keefe.
February 11, 2007
SERIOUS TALK He made a fortune in private equity, but Robert Rosenkranz’s passion is public policy. That passion has led Mr. Rosenkranz, chief executive of the Delphi Financial Group, to organize a series of public policy debates under the rubric Intelligence Squared US.
February 09, 2007
Ask almost any American about the state of public discourse in this country, and he or she is likely to express disappoint-ment and frustration. Hoping to do something about the increasingly partisan and ideological nature of that discourse, philanthropist Robert Rosenkranz and the Rosenkranz Foundation launched Intelligence Squared US, a series of Oxford-style debates that address hot-button concerns of the day, last September. The debates, which feature one three-person team proposing and a second team opposing a sharply framed motion, will be held on Wednesdays throughout the spring at the Asia Society in Manhattan, and are produced for radio and distributed nationally by WNYC/New York City Public Radio and National Public Radio.
January 07, 2007
The name of Robert Rosenkranz, the businessman and philanthropist, is not universally recognized, even on Park Avenue. “I know a variety of Rosenkranzes—which one is he?” asked Robert Albertson, a principal at Sandler O’Neill, as he mingled at a reception at the Asia Society and Museum the other evening.
January 01, 2007
In a packed auditorium at the Asia Society and Museum earlier this month, a panel of distin guished scholars, editors, and filmmakers debated the motion: "Hollywood fuels anti-Americanism abroad." The hour-and-a-half conversation about whether the film industry or the war in Iraq was more to blame for growing international ill-will toward America was part of a new live debate series called Intelligence Squared, which is funded by the Rosenkranz Foundation. The debate series is seeking to trade punditry for dialogue, according to the executive producer, Dana Wolfe. The series caters to an intellectual audience eager for more than sound bites on political and social issues of international concern.
July 06, 2006
N.Y.C. businessman and philanthropist Robert Rosenkranz is bringing the lively British debate "Intelligence Squared" to the states this fall. As in London, where the show attracts curious, on-the-ball ordinary folks and celebs with more on their minds than we give them credit for, the series will present the hot political, cultural and social issues of the day in an Oxford-style, three-on-three debate. "Intelligence Squared U.S.A." begins at New York's Asia Society and Museum this September with this subject up for discussion: "We Must Tolerate a Nuclear Iran." Visit www.IQ2US.org for more information or to purchase tickets. This is the sort of thing that should be on TV, to remind people numbed by the current "shout-downs" that pass for debate and discussion that there is another way to make a point.
May 18, 2006
Few would argue that the level of public discourse in our society has reached a dangerously low point. Witness the mean-spirited partisanship of Congress and the belligerent rudeness of cable television discussions of the issues of the day, which themselves tend to be more about celebrities and scandals than thoughtful analysis of pressing topics like the struggle against Islamic militancy, global warming, and improving our children’s education.