“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
March 17, 2015
Intelligence Squared hosted a lively debate last week over the so-called “Right to be Forgotten” embraced by European courts—which, as tech executive Andrew McLaughlin aptly noted, would be more honestly described as a “right to force others to forget.” A primary consequence of this “right” thus far has been that citizens are entitled to demand that search engines like Google censor the results that are returned for a search on the person’s name, provided those results are “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant.” In other words, if you’re unhappy that an unflattering item—such as a news story—shows up as a prominent result for your name, you can declare it “irrelevant” even if entirely truthful and ask Google to stop showing it as a result for such searches, with ultimate recourse to the courts if the company refuses. Within two months of the ruling establishing the “right,” the company received more than 70,000 such requests.
March 12, 2015
The University of Oklahoma expelled two fraternity members this week after video of them leading a racist chant went viral. Now, a Google search of the young men’s names shows the incident right at the top of the results.
But should this still be the case in 30 years? Should future employers and girlfriends be able to use Google to easily discover the video? Or would it be better for the U.S. to create a law to allow such men, one day in the future, to cloak their youthful misdeeds?
On Wednesday night at the Kaufman Center in New York City, the Oklahoma frat brothers were discussed as part of a larger debate over whether it’s time for the U.S. to adopt a “right to be forgotten” law to help people hide their past.
March 12, 2015
The “right to be forgotten” should be adopted in the U.S. because Americans deserve the ability to exercise control over their personal data. Then again, the right to be forgotten could be seen as a form of censorship that aims to conceal past news. At least that's what four privacy and technology experts debated Wednesday night.
The experts considered whether the ruling should be (hypothetically) implemented in the U.S. Organized by Intelligence Squared, a live New York City audience served as the barometer for which side won the debate. Before any words were exchanged, 36 percent believed the U.S. should adopt the ruling; 26 percent were against it, and 38 percent were undecided.
February 13, 2015
Immigration and innovation will enable America to maintain its position as a superpower, experts say, despite policy mistakes made along the way.
Are America's best days behind it? Or should the world continue to bet on its future as a global superpower?
That was the subject of a spirited, four-person debate this week in New York City at the Kaufman Music Center, the 100th in a series called Intelligence Squared. Over the past decade, the debate event, sponsored by the public policy and education organization Rosenkranz Foundation, has featured a variety of experts weighing in on pressing topics of the day, such as the U.S.'s Middle East policy, genetically modified food, and the ethics of fracking, among other things.
October 10, 2014
Some very smart people try to make the case that gobbling up phone data on all of us isn’t really a constitutional case. Let’s see if they convince you…
Intelligence Squared held a debate on exactly this topic. If you’ve never checked out Intelligence Squared, I highly recommend it. Imagine a televised argument, except instead of sound bytes spewed by yelling heads, accomplished experts calmly and rationally hash out the issues with enough time to guarantee that nuance isn’t sacrificed to make time for another commercial.
October 08, 2014
A resounding win! A Philadelphia audience sided squarely with team civil liberties in a debate hosted yesterday by Intelligence Squared. Arguing for the motion, "Mass Collection of U.S. Phone Records Violates the Constitution," were ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo and Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center. They faced off against John Yoo, a former Justice Department attorney known for authoring the Bush-era torture memos, and Stewart Baker, former NSA general counsel.
October 08, 2014
A strong majority of audience members thought mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure following an Oxford-style debate on the topic last night sponsored by Intelligence Squared, which is affiliated with NPR. The motion — “mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the Fourth Amendment” — polled at 46 percent among audience members before the debate and at 66 percent afterward. Arguing in favor of the motion were ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo and Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center. Opposing it were former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker and John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer best known for writing the Bush Administration memo justifying enhanced interrogation of terror detainees that critics have dubbed torture. Before the debate, 17 percent of audience members opposed the motion and 37 percent were undecided. After the debate, 28 percent opposed it and 6 percent were undecided.
October 01, 2014
A recent debate, “Embrace the Common Core?” hosted by Intelligence Squared, featured some of the nation’s top experts on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The Oxford-style “2 vs. 2” debate show included comments on topics such as whether or not the CCSS are actually right for kids and the rationale behind national standards. In particular, the debate focused on the controversial CCSS-aligned assessments and the cognitive appropriateness of the standards. The debate offered a refreshing take on what is often a politically charged topic. Many other educational bloggers have also offered analysis of this debate, including Diane Ravitch and The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss.
September 25, 2014
On September 9, I attended the NPR-syndicated Intelligence Squared debate, "Should Schools Embrace the Common Core?" Although it has been reported that close to 80 percent of Americans now oppose the Common Core Standards, the initial poll of the live audience showed that 50 percent of the audience was for, 13 percent against, and 37 percent undecided. So one obvious question is: How much of the audience was made up of people who had some skin in the Common Core game?
September 24, 2014
New York public school principal Carol Burris, an outspoken standards critic and defender of leveled reading, recently published an anti-Common Core missive on the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog that was fairly typical of the form. Where, she wondered, “is the research to support: close reading, increased Lexile levels, the use of informational texts, and other questionable practices in the primary grades?”
The blog post, which has already been intelligently critiqued by Ann Whalen at Education Post, expanded on remarks delivered by Burris earlier this month at an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate with Fordham president Michael Petrilli and former assistant secretary of education Carmel Martin. There, too, she demanded evidence of literacy improvements arising from the use of complex texts.
September 19, 2014
Intelligence Squared U.S. sponsored a debate September 9, 2014 on the Common Core State Standards. Four participants argued whether American schools should embrace the standards. They included Carmel Martin, a former assistant Secretary of Education and current executive vice president at the Center for American Progress, Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York in Rockville Centre, New York, and Frederick Hess, director of educational policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Martin, from the "left," and Petrilli, from the "right," argued in support of Common Core. Burris, from the "left," and Hess, from the "right," were opposed.
September 17, 2014
So where is the research to support: close reading, increased Lexile levels, the use of informational texts and other questionable practices in the primary grades? During our recent Intelligence Squared debate on the Common Core the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli told the audience he “spent the big part of the weekend talking to some reading experts.” When I later asked Mr. Petrilli for the evidence of the research on Common Core reading methods he said, “Well, I will be happy to go find it for you after this debate.” I am still waiting.
September 14, 2014
Embrace the Common Core State Standards? Do not embrace the Common Core? That was the question in New York when four people — two for embracing and two against — participated in a recent debate about the controversial initiative.
The event was sponsored by an organization called Intelligence Squared U.S., which offers forums for debates and discussions of topical issues.
September 12, 2014
Petrilli is the current president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and an editor of Education Next. He is a frequent poster and seems to be in the know about many of the education comings and goings. His feed is a good resource if you want to read some interesting articles on education, or if you want to know about the latest education debate (he recently spoke in favor of the Common Core at a "Embrace the Common Core" debate sponsored by Intelligence Squared U.S. -- would you be surprised if we told you Ravitch then blogged about it?)
September 11, 2014
I am not exactly sure what “Intelligence Squared” is, but it sponsored an interesting debate about Common Core.
Speaking for Common Core was Mike Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Carmel Martin, formerly assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education and a strong enthusiast for Race to the Top as well as the Common Core.
Speaking in opposition to the proposition of embracing the Common Core was Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center in New York, and Rick Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
I found Burris and Hess far more persuasive than Petrilli and Martin.
September 10, 2014
Four partisans with strong opinions debated the Common Core State Standards on Tuesday night in New York City as part of the very lively but civil Intelligence Squared U.S. series, which will air on NPR.
June 03, 2014
The Seattle experiment in wage rate regulation should provide yet another opportunity to test the effects of this type of labor market policy. In the meantime, I leave you with this informative Intelligence Squared debate on the motion “Abolish the Minimum Wage."
May 14, 2014
The Cato Institute’s James Dorn and the Hoover Institution’s Russell Roberts made this point at length during an Intelligence Squared debate last year in which they advocated doing away with minimum wages. “Right now there are people within a few blocks of where we are sitting who cannot find work simply because their skills are not worth $7.25 an hour,” Russell told the audience. “Why would you condemn those men and women to a wage of zero?”
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.
April 15, 2014
The essence of due process, as Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman recently argued at an Intelligence Squared debate, is that “the government would not kill its own citizens without a trial.” That derived from the English Magna Carta of 1215, and the Framers of the U.S. Constitution had such a history in mind when, in the Fifth Amendment, they wrote that no one may “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
So this seems like an easy issue: The Constitution is clear that due process is required before the federal government takes a citizen’s life. But in many cases, that would fly in the face of common sense.
Professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out in the same debate that a bank robber firing at police as he flees is not entitled to a trial before police can shoot back at him. This exception is widened in the case of war, which is why the laws of war have never required a prior hearing before incapacitating an enemy combatant that is on the battlefield.
March 20, 2014
The intellectual case for preferences is looking increasingly shaky. Last month, a packed auditorium at Harvard Law School featured an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on whether “affirmative action does more harm than good.” Harvard professor Randall Kennedy, the author of the book For Discrimination, and Columbia professor Ted Shaw, the former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, argued that diversity is an important and noble goal that universities must pursue. UCLA professor Richard Sander, author of the book Mismatch, and University of San Diego professor Gail Heriot, a commissioner on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, presented statistics from over 20 peer-reviewed studies that showed how the good intentions of affirmative-action supporters have had disastrous results.
March 06, 2014
Last night at the National Constitutional Center, NPR’s Intelligence Squared hosted a debate for broadcast on the limits of executive power, specifically is the president exceeding the constitutional powers of his office when, absent due process, he orders a fatal drone strike on an American citizen living abroad who is suspected of aiding or abetting terror plots that would harm American citizens or the homeland. Such was the case with the fatal drone strike executed against Anwar Al-Awlaki, a charismastic Imam and advocate for Jihad who was born in New Mexico.
The specific question being debated was not whether or not drone strikes are moral or legal, or even useful for advancing U.S. Foreign policy objectives, it was whether or not the president violated the constitutional rights of this particular American citizen. As per the premise of the show, the audience is polled about whether they are for or against the motion before the debate begins then again at the end. Before the debate, the audience vote tally was: 29% for, 44% against with 27% undecided.
March 04, 2014
Famed criminal defense lawyer, retired Harvard Law School professor and cable news gadfly Alan Dershowitz will be at the National Constitution Center tomorrow to debate the legality and ethics of drone strikes on American citizens. In advance of tomorrow’s debate, we got Mr. Dershowitz on the horn. DISCUSSED: When it’s OK for the President of the United States to order the assassination of an American citizen; his theory of a “Continuum Of Civilianality; why he is advocating for the court-supervised use of torture in so-called ticking time bomb situations; Zionism and how to resolved the Israeli-Palestinian crisis; is Edward Snowden a hero or villain; is mass surveillance of all American citizens constitutional under the Fourth Amendment; is O.J. Simpson innocent or guilty?
PHAWKER: Tomorrow, you’ll be at the National Constitution Center for the Intelligence Squared Debate. You’ll be arguing that President Obama was within the legal limits of executive power when he ordered the fatal drone strike on New Mexico-born Jihadist rabble-rouser Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. You will argue that the President can order the assassination of an American citizen absent any due process if he’s suspected of aiding and abetting the terrorists abroad in the killing of Americans. Can you summarize your argument for us?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes. I think that both international law and American constitutional law simply requires that the President determine under his war-power authority that the person targeted is a legitimate combatant, not a civilian. That’s the important line – the line is between combatant and non-combatant...
March 04, 2014
What if affirmative action actually hurts minorities?
Badger Pundit has the rundown on a debate at Harvard Law School over the proposition in the title of this post, Epic smackdown of affirmative action at Harvard — following debate, audience’s opposition rises nearly a third.
It’s a discussion that people on campuses don’t like to have. Good for Harvard Law School for hosting such a debate with well-qualified speakers arguing each side. Too often the argument against affirmative action is denegrated as racism.
A speaker in favor of the proposition argued that affirmative action is an “epic policy failure” because it actually hurts — not helps — minority achievement through lower graduation and professional accomplishment rates.
March 02, 2014
The president has the constitutional authority to target American citizens overseas.
This authority is derived from his war-making power as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But this does not mean that the president has unfettered discretion to strike anyone he chooses.
The executive's war-making power is checked by the Founding Fathers' reservation in Congress of the power to declare war. The executive may not use this power unless authorized to do so by Congress.
March 02, 2014
The White House is once again weighing whether to kill an American citizen overseas as part of its "targeted killing" program.
This extrajudicial killing program should make every American queasy. Based on largely secret legal standards and entirely secret evidence, our government has killed thousands of people. At least several hundred were killed far from any battlefield. Four of the dead are Americans. Astonishingly, President Obama's Justice Department has said the courts have no role in deciding whether the killing of U.S. citizens far from any battlefield is lawful.
The president, it seems, can be judge, jury, and executioner.
February 28, 2014
Intelligence Squared presented a very lively debate last night at Harvard Law School — “Resolved: Affirmative Action On Campus Does More Harm Than Good.” Arguing for the motion were Gail Heriot, professor of law, University of San Diego School of Law and member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Richard Sander, professor of law, UCLA School of Law. Arguing against the motion were Randall Kennedy, professor of law, Harvard Law School; and Theodore Shaw, professor of law, Columbia Law School.
The debate largely focused on Rick Sander’s empirical work, which tends to show that affirmative action actually harms its intended beneficiaries. Regular readers will recall that Rick guest-blogged about this provocative work two years ago.
It was particularly striking to see this prominent debate on the Harvard Law School campus–since, ironically, it can often seem, on elite campuses, that the very topic of affirmative action on campus is taboo.
February 28, 2014
A panel featuring Harvard Law School professor Randall L. Kennedy and others debated the pros and cons of affirmative action Thursday evening at the Law School’s Ames Court Room.
Arguing that affirmative action does more harm than good, University of San Diego Law professor Gail Heriot and University of California, Los Angeles Law professor Richard H. Sander asserted that affirmative action reduces the percentage of minorities who succeed at selective academic institutions.
On the opposing side, Columbia Law School professor Theodore M. Shaw and Kennedy argued in favor of affirmative action as a means of advancing university goals while benefitting the educational experiences of all students.
February 15, 2014
The Volokh Conspiracy’s Nicholas Rosenkranz links to the “particularly lively” Intelligence Squared debate this week in New York City: “Resolved: Snowden Was Justified.” Arguing for the motion were Daniel Ellsberg, the guy who delivered the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other media outlets in 1971; and Ben Wizner, legal adviser to Edward Snowden and attorney for the ACLU. Arguing against the motion were Andrew C. McCarthy, the guy who prosecuted the Blind Sheikh; and Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA and chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
February 12, 2014
A New York audience devoted nearly two hours yesterday evening to a riveting Intelligence Squared debate about Edward Snowden and the surveillance regime that his disclosures revealed.
The motion up for debate was "Snowden Was Justified." Arguing for the motion were Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, and Ben Wizner, Edward Snowden's legal advisor and the director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project. They debated Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, and Ambassador R. James Woolsey, a former CIA director. A pre-debate vote revealed the audience's feelings on the whistleblower to be evenly split, with 29 percent for the motion, 29 percent against, and 42 percent undecided.
Unsurprisingly, Ben and Daniel won, decisively. In a fascinating back-and-forth, they demonstrated why we're all better off after Snowden, in a world with a window into a once-secret regime that everyone – including all three branches of government – is now debating out in the open.