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Let’s Talk About Speech

April 28, 2016

The empty stage of the Yale Repertory Theatre looked like the set of a talk show. A black-and-white photograph of the New York City skyline hung in three panels in the center, and two empty frosted-glass tables stood on either side of the stage, each flanked by a black podium. Lights on the walls shifted sunset-like from orange to pink. On March 1, Yale students, professors, New Haven locals, and even high school debate teams shuffled into the Rep clutching grey pamphlets that declared: “Free Speech is Threatened on Campus.”

This was a public debate hosted by the nonprofit Intelligence Squared, but its resolution might have been lifted from any of the endless finger-wagging think pieces that appeared in response to anti-racism demonstrations last semester at the University of Missouri, Yale, and other colleges. And although the debate had been scheduled long before last November, higher-ups at Intelligence Squared chose the topic specifically because of its relevance to Yale, according to Dana Wolf, the executive producer of Intelligence Squared U.S.

Free-Speech Advocates Are Not Trying to Silence Students

March 08, 2016

A recurring falsehood in the ongoing debate about campus culture, politics, and policy.

Last week, I surveyed the overwhelming evidence that free speech is threatened on campus. But I did not address a counterargument that uncharitable skeptics of that position keep repeating: that those who defend liberal values in higher education are really trying to silence or distract from students who speak out against racism.

That is a pernicious falsehood every bit as bankrupt as the similarly uncharitable belief that all accusations of racism are really just cynical power grabs built on lies.

[...]

Despite the fact that the falsehood has been explicitly repudiated by so many defenders of free speech, and stands in stark conflict with the principles that they espouse, it was repeated again last week in the Intelligence Squared debate on campus speech.

The Glaring Evidence That Free Speech Is Threatened on Campus

March 04, 2016

A debate at Yale highlighted the disconnect between those who would downplay the problem, and the growing mass of evidence that they’re wrong.

At a recent Intelligence Squared debate, an audience filled an auditorium at Yale University to weigh the timely proposition, “Free speech is threatened on campus.” The debate concerned higher education generally, not just the host institution. And at the event’s conclusion, having heard arguments on both sides of the question, 66 percent of the crowd agreed: free speech is threatened. That represented a 17-point shift from a poll taken as the event began. The evidence is that persuasive.

Are Students Demanding a Limit to Free Speech on Campuses Today?

March 04, 2016

More of this year’s freshman class expects to participate in at least one protest while they’re in college than at any other time in the last 50 years. The portion of all students who claim to be these prospective protesters? 10%. Among black students, the proportion rises to 16%.

While some argue the rise in college protests can be attributed to the fact that marginalized students are finding their voices and demanding better, others see a threat to free speech in these campaigns [...]

At Yale this week, Intelligence Squared convened a debate about whether free speech is threatened on campus, ending the night with two-thirds of audience members siding with the “yes” camp.

Intelligence Squared Debate: Free Speech Is Threatened on Campus

March 04, 2016

Intelligence Squared presented an excellent debate on Tuesday at Yale —“Resolved: Free speech is threatened on campus.”

Yale was a particularly apt venue for this debate. Yale has a proud tradition of freedom of speech, and its official statement on free speech, the “Woodward Report” of 1974, is one of the strongest defenses of free speech in the academy. But the infamous controversy of this past Halloween, and the way that Yale handled the controversy, have led many to doubt Yale’s current commitment to free speech. This year, Yale only narrowly avoided ranking among the 10 worst colleges in the United States for free speech, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). So this debate was particularly timely, and it clearly struck a nerve at Yale.

Tell Us: Is Your Speech Policed in Your Dorm?

March 02, 2016

On Tuesday, an audience gathered at Yale to hear a debate on the proposition, “Free speech is threatened on campus.” The question pertained to institutions of higher education generally, not just the host university. The outcome: a clear majority agree that free speech is threatened. But that wasn’t yet true when the event began.

Critics of Leftist Assault on Campus Win over Yale Audience in Free-Speech Debate

March 02, 2016

Portrayed as ‘ignorant at best and immoral at worst,’ non-leftist students self-censor.

In recent weeks, speakers such as conservative Ben Shapiro and anti-feminist Milo Yiannopoulos have faced angry crowds of progressive students who tried to shut down their campus speeches with interruptions and physical confrontations.

Yet it took an evening of civil debate between scholars and writers to convince a divided Yale University audience that “free speech is threatened on campus.”

The public radio show and podcast Intelligence Squared U.S. hosted the Tuesday evening Oxford-style debate at Yale, moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan.

Debate at Yale Rep in New Haven Examines Free Speech on Campus

March 02, 2016

The atmosphere on college campuses has changed, a Columbia University professor argued before an audience full of Yale students and New Haven residents Tuesday. And that change has created spaces in which free speech is not extinguished, but threatened.

A majority of the audience agreed.

After a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared U.S., a nonprofit that provides free online access to debates held across the country on issues facing society, 66 percent of the audience left convinced that free speech is threatened on college campuses. The event was held at the Yale Repertory Theatre.

Students Unswayed by Free Speech Debate

March 02, 2016

Before a nearly full auditorium at the Yale Repertory Theater Tuesday night, the NPR show “Intelligence Squared U.S.” hosted a debate on the motion that free speech is threatened on college campuses. But despite the robust turnout, most students’ opinions on the topic remained largely unchanged, with students stating that many of the arguments advanced at the debate were ideas they had already heard last fall.

Debaters Successfully Argue That Free Speech Is Under Threat

March 02, 2016

Do the campus protests and debates that roil around speech that has been deemed “offensive” or “racist” signal a threat to free speech or are we simply moving into a more enlightened time when intolerance is no longer quietly accepted? That was the question posed to two teams of debaters and an audience of Yale University students and New Haven, Conn., residents on Tuesday night.

New Haven Debate Will Focus on Whether Free Speech Is Threatened on Campuses

February 26, 2016

The atmosphere on campuses nationwide has become charged with accusations, on one side, that “micro-aggressions” are hurtful to women and people of color, and countercharges that universities are censoring speakers.

On Tuesday, the issue will land in the spotlight at the Yale Repertory Theatre as four debaters argue for or against the statement, “Free speech is threatened on campus.”

“I don’t think there’s any question that free speech is threatened on campus. I think the question is whether free speech should be threatened on campus,” said Wendy Kaminer, who is one of the debaters in the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, sponsored by the Adam Smith Society, an organization composed of business school students and alumni.

Smart Drugs for College Kids

November 05, 2015

Pop a pill, ace a test. If you could take a pill that would instantly make you work harder, improve your brain function and make you “smarter,” would you?

A panel of experts argued this question in a debate this week presented byIntelligence Squared U.S. at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., entitled, “College Students Should be Allowed to Take Smart Drugs.”

Are Smart Drugs a Smart Choice? Experts Debate at SMPA

November 03, 2015

If there was a pill that could make everyone smarter and more focused, how many people would take it?

This question was the subject of debate among experts at the Jack Morton Auditorium Monday night. Moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan, the panel weighed the medical and moral risks, as well as the benefits, of college students using drugs like Adderall, without a prescription, to help them study.

‘Smart Drugs’ Are Here — Should College Students Be Allowed to Use Them?

November 03, 2015

We use coffee to stay awake, good food and nutrition to stay healthy and alert. But if there was a drug that made you smarter, helped you learn, and made you more focused, would you take it?

That’s a question that Nicole Vincent, associate professor of philosophy, law and neuroscience at Georgia State University, asked to open her TED talk in Sydney last year.

That question also opened a Monday night debate at George Washington University in which two sides argued both for and against whether “College Students Should Be Allowed to Take Smart Drugs.”

Why Banning Smart Drugs for College Students Is Impossible, Evil

November 03, 2015

Should college students be allowed to take Adderall and Modafinil to improve their academic performance, or should universities treat these so-called “smart drugs” the same way Major League Baseball treats steroids? I attended a debate on the subject at George Washington University last night, and came away convinced that banning smart drugs is not only impractical—it’s profoundly evil.

Are Smart Drugs Good for College Students?

November 03, 2015

Should college students take smart drugs? That was the question posed to a panel of professors at an Intelligence Squared debate at George Washington University on Monday night.

Colleges Should Allow Students to Take Smart Drugs

November 03, 2015

Last night, I had the pleasure of debating my views on why college students should be allowed to take smart drugs. My partner, Anjan Chatterjee and I were in support of the resolution. Nicole Vincent and Eric Racine were opposed.

The debate, hosted by Intelligence Squared US (IQ2US) and FIRE, was an engaging conversation about the existing and potential role of these drugs in society, and in particular on college campuses.

Intelligence Squared / FIRE Debate: College Students Should Be Allowed to Take Smart Drugs

November 01, 2015

Intelligence Squared US and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) are embarking on a joint venture (that I am proud to have brokered), to present a series of high-profile debates on college campuses. Our first debate will be tomorrow at George Washington University.

‘Smart Pills’ for College Students: Would That Be Cheating?

October 26, 2015

Should students be allowed — or encouraged — to take “smart drugs” so they can get better grades?

That will be the question on the table on Monday when the public affairs program Intelligence Squared — IQ2 — brings its lively debate format to George Washington University.

Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity, Campus Audience Decides After Hearing Both Sides of the Argument

February 26, 2015

WASHINGTON — Before the Intelligence Squared debate held at George Washington University, only one in three audience members said they agreed that liberals are stifling intellectual diversity at colleges and universities, but after hearing both sides of the debate, almost three-fifths of the audience was convinced that liberals are stifling intellectual diversity.

The debate, moderated by John Donvan, an author and correspondent for ABC News, will be aired on National Public Radio stations and is available online.

Encouragingly, Both Sides in Debate on Campus Speech End Up Defending Campus Speech

February 25, 2015

At GW last night, nobody was willing to argue that students should be silenced.

Anyone feeling disheartened by the many ways our First Amendment freedoms are under attack may find solace in the outcome of an event last night hosted by Intelligence Squared at George Washington University. Two teams of two debated whether liberals are stifling intellectual diversity on college campuses—and the side arguing for the proposition won in a landslide.

Interestingly, three of the four participants and both debaters arguing the affirmative indentify as liberals.

Fox News Contributor, Professors Face Off in Free Speech Debate

February 25, 2015

Panelists visiting GW debated whether or not liberals suppressed intellectual diversity on college campuses Tuesday.

The debate, hosted by Intelligence Squared, a non-profit group that organizes discussions around the country, engaged about 100 people in the Jack Morton Auditorium. John Donovan, an author and ABC news correspondent, moderated the event.

Audience members were invited to vote on whether they thought liberals discouraged intellectual diversity on college campuses before and after the discussion. When it began, 33 percent said liberals suppressed intellectual diversity, while 21 percent said they disagreed and 46 percent were undecided.

Campus Debate Convinces: Liberals Stifle Intellectual Diversity on Campus

February 25, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a 90-minute campus debate Tuesday over whether liberals stifle intellectual diversity on college campuses, nearly six in 10 members of the audience agreed – they do.

That according to a vote of the audience taken after the “Intelligence Squared Debate” at George Washington University on the topic of whether “liberals are stifling intellectual diversity on campus.”

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, along with Fox Newscontributor and USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, were able to convince 59 percent of those in attendance that there is a pervasive liberal intolerance of different views on campuses, an atmosphere that hinders free speech and debate.

Amazon and Its Friends

January 26, 2015

During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney made an off-the-cuff comment about how “corporations are people.” He was mocked but perhaps was ahead of his time. A few years later, corporations are not only people but our friends.

Forget about same-day delivery of diapers or reconnecting with your high school girlfriend or publishing those novels without the aid of an editor or bookstore. The greatest achievement of Silicon Valley has been the marketing of Silicon Valley. Google, Apple, Facebook — they all assert they exist for your benefit, their only goal to amuse and enlighten and help you. To be, in short, your best buddy.

The tech world’s devotion to its customers was put to a vote this month in Manhattan, at one of the Intelligence Squared series of debates. The evening’s topic: “Amazon is the reader’s friend.”

For those nostalgic for last year’s clash between Amazon and Hachette, the debate — expertly moderated by the ABC news correspondent John Donvan — replayed the brawl. The self-published novelist Joe Konrath and the Vox editor Matthew Yglesias argued in favor of the proposition; the novelist Scott Turow and the former New Republic editor Franklin Foer argued against.

Is Amazon a Hero or Monster?

January 16, 2015

A passionate New York debate interrogates Amazon’s dominance in the book market—is it delivering well-priced books efficiently, or a greedy, rapacious behemoth?

What is the true nature of Amazon.com—the online retailing colossus that, like a massive corporate python, has swallowed up the book industry virtually whole?

In terms of cognitive dissonance, it would be difficult to match Thursday night’s Intelligence Squared debate on the proposition, “Amazon Is The Reader’s Friend.”

Is Amazon the Reader’s Friend? – Liveblog

January 15, 2015

I took a wrong turn on the subway and reached Brooklyn before I realized I was a long way from the Kaufman Center in Manhattan. I arrived late at the Intelligence Squared debate on the resolution “Amazon is the Reader’s Friend.”

We are now into questions from the audience. It’s been a fantastic discussion, organized in classic debate style with some innovations introduced by the steady, savvy moderator, John Donvan.

Arguing for the resolution are author Joe Konrath and journalist Matthew Yglesias. Arguing against are author Scott Turow and Franklin Foer, former editor of The New Republic. Here’s what’s happening…

EDWARDS: Bad questions hinder productive debates, conversations

April 23, 2014

“Millennials Don’t Stand a Chance” was the title and winning motion of the April 16 episode of Intelligence Squared, a NPR debate podcast. After an hour of debate, the side arguing against millennials, people born from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, won citing the generations tendencies for optimism and narcissism as being the twin roots of their downfall.

The mismatch problem: Why college football scholarships are not enough

April 22, 2014

Have you ever had a moment when you heard an argument that made you examine a long-held belief?

I had a moment like that recently when listening to an NPR Intelligence Squared podcast on college admissions. Intelligence Squared is a high-quality product, as the debate is civil, fact-heavy, and performed with great skill. In other words, it's everything that cable news is not, sort of like reading the best of the college football internet as opposed to relying on Holtz and May to analyze team strength.

What Millennials Want From The Fashion World

April 15, 2014

Millennials haven’t been dealt a very good hand in life: many have graduated into one of the worst recessions in decades, many have piling amounts of student debt, and many suffer a routine malaise and dissatisfaction with their current status in life.

This bad lot leads many people to believe that millennials are, in fact, doomed, which was the proposition in consideration at last week’s Intelligence Squared debate here in New York City, “Millennials Don’t Stand A Chance.” Four debators participated in the discussion, and the side for the proposition–the side that believed millennial’s don’t stand a chance–ended up winning the debate.

Millennials Stand No Chance, Says One Panel And Auditorium

April 13, 2014

Earlier this week, over the course of two hours, a panel of four speakers and an auditorium of voters at the Kaufman Music Center in New Yok City decided that we millennials stand no chance.