The benefits of a lecture and instructional video are immense, short, portable and audio visual pieces of information from some of the greatest minds on the planet, yep lectures can do wonders. But the problem with lectures as with having a single flavor of ice cream is, boredom. Thus as an alternative to a single person churning out knowledge, the competitive atmosphere of verbal sparring in a debate is not a bad way to learn a few things and explore new ideas via the pieces of some famous individuals.
The Video above is an interesting depiction of the exchange between Stephen Fry and Ann Widdecombe from the Debate : “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world“.
It was in this spirit that the last post explored a TV show. Today we move to another format, video recorded and webcast. The Intelligence Squared debates originated in the UK moving to various nations of the world. It was when they came across the Atlantic that America did what it does, with the concept and the phenomenon became global. The debates are based on the Oxford Style. That means that the result of the debate is decided by the percentage of the population that is swayed after the debate to the speaker’s cause. Two opinion polls of generally a 1000-2000 strong audience are taken, one before and the other after the debate. With the need to create a balanced atmosphere perhaps the selection of an equally biased audience might be done but still the experience is not an overly orchestrated one. Each debate has generally 2 speakers for and 2 against the motion whose speeches are followed by audience question and answer rounds. The topics range from Foreign policy, history, science, social policy, art, culture and also the environment. The agency also operates in Israel, Greece, Hong Kong and a few other regions.
Although the outlook to many of the events is a commercial one for tickets are sold online there are a large number of videos of the debates available on the website of Intelligence Squared and also on its Youtube Channel. Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry, Tony Blair, Richard Dawkins are a few of the notables to have debated on this platform. The Versus Debates sprung from the partnership of this organization with Google making for even more interesting watching and brain fodder.