Intelligence squared is a debate show where 2 teams of two debate over a proposition (motion). All four debatants get an opening and closing speech, and in the middle they must answer to questions from the show host and the audience. The audience makes an initial vote, and a new vote after the debate. The team able to change most minds (in %) is the winner of the show.
Watched these so far
Don't eat anything with a face
Chris Masterjohn, the author of "The Daily Lipid" was one of the debatants. I was hoping for some serous discussion between him and Neal Barnard, but unfortunately the focus was only on claims and discussions of causality. The case had several sides: The humanistic is it right to kill to eat when we know we don't have to? Animals will get killed in the nature anyway and perhaps it could be more humane it we did it right (not saying the way we do it now it good for the animals). Should we deny our human nature? We had the health aspect where claims that meat cause obesity and cancer. The best way to get optimal health would be going vegan. It was argued against the alternative interpretation that other things cause these diseases, especially industrialized processing and farming. It was an interesting debate with many good points on each side.
The FDA's caution is hazardous to our health
This debate was focused on development of drugs and to some extent apparatus such as walking aids and artificial organ support. Food recommendations were not a part of the debate. The FDA is tasked with protecting the public and does so by rigid testing before allowing products in to the marked. The defenders (saying it is hazardous) argues that we now have methods that can individualize treatment and that the FDA's "one size fits all" solution to the problem is getting in the way of development of needed medication. The opposition refers to cases of mostly generic drugs have gone very wrong because of a lack of rigid testing, and specifically unintentional side effects. It's a good thing to separate between drugs that only eases something, like pain, and drugs intended to cure lethal diseases. It's all about risk.
The discussion focuses on the recent breach where the NSA lied to congress about collecting phone call meta data proactively on the American population. The opposition of the motion focused on the principle of reasonable doubt before surveillance is initiated in order to support democracy. The defenders claim the task of having to wait for post mortem collection will fail and that existing access controls is enough for avoiding misuse of the information.
Congress Should Pass Obama's Jobs Plan
This one is old and the plan was down voted, but the debate was interesting. The argument was primarily of weather or not governmental help in the form of changing hands of money in economic crisis benefits the economy overall. Arguments against are that regulations like minimum salary and dis-allowance of discrimination makes it harder for businesses to hire people, while the defenders say this kind of acts is a kind of first aid kit that can bootstrap a failing economy.
The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion and Science Refutes God
Both of these are interesting because they highlight the world we live in now where scientific endeavors keep providing answers that conflict with the major religions. Science can never disprove a god, but it can say a lot about what a god isn't.