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May 31, 2016

Great Political Debates from Intelligence Squared U.S.

Listen to some informed and civil political debates about issues facing the United States in these great debates from Intelligence Squared U.S.. These Oxford-Style debates set forth a motion and then usually have two people on each side debating for or against the motion. Along with debating back and forth, the participants also each get opening and closing remarks to summarize their viewpoints. The moderator of the debates is author and journalist John Donvan, and he does a superb job of keeping the debates well mannered, intelligent, and moving forward. Each debate generally runs 90 to 100 minutes along with questions from the moderator and from the audience. The audience votes on the motion before the debate and then afterwards. Whichever side changes the most members of the audience to vote for their side by the end is declared the winner. These debates can be watched on YouTube or listened to on MP3 from the Intelligence Squared U.S. website. There is also a 50 minute version of the debate on the Intelligence Squared U.S. website (which is the podcast and radio version). We recommend the full version for the most coherent debates, but either way you'll learn a lot. Challenge your own political beliefs on these complex issues with these intelligent debates!

1. The Two-Party System is Making America Ungovernable

Has the two-party system in America created a toxic dynamic where the most extreme members of each political party can no longer work together? In this debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, Ariana Huffington and David Brooks argue that Democrats and Republicans are stuck in a rotten two party system that forces both sides to obey the party line at the cost of personal beliefs. Their proposed solution is a broader social movement to de-align the two parties and make way for a centrist alternative. In contrast, humorist P.J. O'Rourke is joined by Zev Chafets to argue for how durable the two-party system has remained when put under almost two centuries of stress, and caution against a de-polarized political atmosphere where smaller, single issue-based interests are enabled to fight it out on a national stage.

2. The Rich Are Taxed Enough

In this debate from Intelligence Squared, the two sides square off about the taxation of the rich in the United States and whether they should pay more than they currently do to cover the costs of government spending. Both sides agree that government is running deficits that need to be paid for and that entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare need reform before they spiral government down into much more debt in the coming decades. The side arguing for the motion suggests the best way to raise revenues is to "broaden the base" of the tax system, to cut out of control government spending, and to cut tax rates so that wealthy individuals will invest more into the economy and boost employment which will in turn boost individual income and generate more in overall taxes. The side arguing against the motion suggests that it is a necessity to raise taxes on the rich because of the current deficits government is running and because a more progressive approach in the tax system is the fair thing to do and will ultimately benefit the growth of the economy. They also argue for closing tax loopholes which have prevented the rich from paying their fair share. Both sides feature economists that throw out a lot of statistics supporting each of their arguments, but the moderator John Donvan tries to get beyond the numbers to the core ideas behind each side.

3. Don't Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses

The topic of immigration has become a lightning rod for pundits on both sides of the political spectrum. This debate hosted by Intelligence Squared pits two sides in a nuanced argument pro and con over whether or not America is, or should be the place for the world's "Tired", "Poor" and "Huddled Masses", as immortalized by poet Emma Lazarus at the Statue of Liberty. Arguing for stronger immigration Policy, Kris Kobach and Tom Tancredo work to dispel the nostalgia surrounding America's melting-pot roots, arguing that open immigration in the modern world is unsustainable in a welfare state. No stranger to border issues, San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is joined by Tamar Jacoby to argue for effective enforcement that is at the same time consistent with core American values.

4. Obesity is the Government's Business

Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, but what is the best way of dealing with it. In this Intelligence Squared debate the two sides argue over what role the government should play in confronting this health crisis. The side arguing for the motion that obesity is the government's business, feels that it is time for the government to step up their efforts in educating the public about the causes of obesity and giving the public more opportunities for exercise and health eating. The side arguing against the motion comes from a more libertarian stance that feels the government is not good at accomplishing much and that when it comes to fighting obesity the data isn't there in regards to the programs that it has currently put forth. It's a fun debate over the role of government when it comes to this important issue we are facing.

5. Abolish the Minimum Wage

At some point in anyone's life, the minimum wage is all there is to live on, so how has this 75 year experiment worked out for the American economy? For this debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, James Bernstein is joined by Karen Kornbluh to argue for the moral merits of upholding the minimum wage, stating that it serves as a necessary safety net to ensure that lesser-skilled workers are treated fairly. On the opposite end of the table, Russell Roberts and James Dorn argue that a set wage slows job growth by rendering employees artificially more expensive; this in turn makes it harder for them to find work, and needlessly interferes with an individual's personal bargaining freedom.

6. For a Better Future, Live in a Red State

In this lively debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, two sides argue for and against the claim that the future in America may be brighter if one lives in a more conservative-leaning "Red" state. Arguing for this motion, popular radio host Hugh Hewitt and the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore note migration patterns have favored more affordable red states in recent years, leading many to wider job opportunities coupled with a lower cost of living, and clear sense of traditional values. On the other side, former California Governor Gray Davis is joined by centrist pundit Michael Lind, to argue that Blue states are generally more innovative, feature higher quality education and offer a better healthcare infrastructure. Regardless of who's side you prefer, the debate offers an interesting snapshot of the changing interstate dynamics at play in an America that is getting more polarized across ideological lines.

7. It's Time to End the War on Terror

Is the term "War on Terror" an outdated description that has outlived the current state of play in the global effort to curb terrorist activity? For this Intelligence Squared debate, Security expert Peter Bergen is joined by former Obama-administration expert Juliette Kayyem to argue that while terrorism is still very much a threat, the nature of that threat has changed in the decade since September 11th. With Al Qaeda on its last legs, the "War on Terror" calls back to another era, where the American-led fight to abolish Osama Bin Laden's terror network has given way to a more sporadic, less focused enemy. On the flip-side, Micahel Hayden and Richard Falkenrath argue that the legal tools made available when a country is in a declared state of war allows for lawful execution of operations that would otherwise be considered illegal.

8. Income Inequality Impairs the American Dream of Upward Mobility

Listen to a stimulating debate over income inequality in America and whether or not it hinders the mobility of lower or middle income households to be upwardly mobile economically. Both sides agree income inequality is increasing and that upward mobility is not as good as it should be, especially among the poor. But they disagree as to whether income inequality is the cause of this lack of upward mobility. The side against the motion argues that the data is not there to support that upward mobility is declining in America. They feel that the ever-increasing wealth of the top 1% creates incentives and opportunities for the lower and middle classes to rise up the economic ladder. The side arguing for the motion says it is too soon to tell whether future generations are declining in economic mobility since the increasing income gap has only been on the rise since the late 1970s. They plead that common sense shows us a declining middle class and a working poor that is finding it harder and harder to move up the economic ladder as they struggle to make ends meet. They argue that higher taxation of the super rich can be funneled into innovative programs such as education to bring back the thriving middle class in America. It is a well argued debate from both sides with interesting results at the end from the audience that votes on the motion.

9. The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness

Is the Second Amendment a historic anachronism designed during a time without police and when militias were more important to American national defense? Or does it embody American attitudes towards independence, and remain a vital means of maintaining the security of a free state? In this fierce debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, Alan Dershowitz & Sandy Levinson argue that the right to bear arms would be defined differently if written in 2015, with the basic right of self-defense superseding the specific right to carry weapons. On the opposing side, David Kopel and Eugene Volokh agree that everyone has a basic right to defend themselves, but go further by pressing that the tools necessary (aka. guns) should be explicitly safeguarded for anyone that wishes to use them.

10. Legalize Drugs

Watch this stimulating debate on the motion to legalize drugs. Since the drug war began 30 years ago it has cost the U.S. government $2.5 trillion dollars and has currently locked up over 100,000 nonviolent drug offenders in federal prison. The side arguing for the legalization of drugs points out how the drug war has primarily been waged against minorities and the poor in a disproportionate ratio to drug usage. They argue that drug use does not equal drug abuse, and that many drugs such as marijuana are less harmful to society than the current legal drugs of alcohol and prescription drugs. The side arguing against legalizing drugs points out the detrimental effects some drugs have had on communities such as meth and heroin, and how the drug war has to an extent deterred drug usage. Be sure to wait for the results of this excellent debate from Intelligence Squared U.S.

11. The GOP must Seize the Center or Die

Following the defeat of Mitt Romney in 2012, Intelligence Squared hosted this contentious debate over the future of the Republican party and how it can best win over the electorate. The side arguing for the motion points out that the country is diversifying and changing and that conservatives need to shift their current ideology more towards the center particularly on social issues which have caused fission amongst Republicans. They feel that because Republicans have been so staunchly anti-government, they have become the party of "no" which prevents government from doing much of anything and it has produced exasperation amongst the populace. The side arguing against the motion feels that if conservatives compromise their core principles of limited government and move more towards the center, they will cease to be a viable alternative to the Democrats and they will continue to lose more elections. It's a well carried out debate featuring prominent conservative voices such as David Brooks and Laura Ingraham.

12. Containment Is Not Enough: ISIS Must Be Defeated

Watch or listen to this debate from August 2015 with the motion "Containment Is Not Enough: ISIS Must Be Defeated". In the debate, foreign policy experts argue over what the Obama administration's next steps should be in dealing with ISIS. The side for ISIS being defeated proposes that containing ISIS in the region poses a threat to the surrounding region and the enemies of ISIS around the World, and that this threat will only grow over time. These foreign policy experts do not advocate putting "boots on the ground" of U.S. troops, but they feel a much stronger resolution needs to be put in place to roll back and defeat ISIS. The side for containing ISIS and staying the course with the current U.S. policy, feels that containment is the best option at this time while we wait for the conflict to play out, and that ultimately the turmoil in Syria and Iraq are not our battle to win. They also cite the lack of political will for a full scale war against ISIS in the wake of two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's a good debate that helps to make sense out of a very complicated and messy situation in the Middle East and the results of the debate are quite interesting. Towards the end of the debate questions are received from the audience including questions from David Petraeus and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The debate can be watched on YouTube or downloaded on MP3 from the Intelligence Squared U.S. website.

13. Eliminate Corporate Subsidies

Watch a debate over corporate subsidies in America and whether or not they should be eliminated. In this debate both sides agree that there are some subsidies that are good and there are some subsidies that are bad (such as the unnecessary oil & gas subsidies). But overall each side has differences over whether subsidies are good in general. The side arguing against corporate subsidies says the U.S. government simply cannot afford them, and that the state of corporate welfare in American is favoring big business over small business and making it hard for the little guy. The side arguing for corporate subsidies highlights a lot of areas where subsidies can be helpful in spurring innovation with emerging technologies and lead to great economic success in the future. The results of the debate produce a big swing in opinion in the audience, but we won't give away which way it goes.

14. Abolish the Death Penalty

Is America a culture that lives by the credo "an eye for an eye", or is it becoming apparent that many Americans are rethinking their stance on the Death Penalty? In this passionate debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, Diane Russ Tierny and Barry Scheck argue that killing inmates on death row is an unacceptable risk to innocent lives that any modern society should abolish, going further to cite statistics demonstrating that capital punishment does not lower crime rates, and is racially skewed. On the other side, Robert Blecker and Ken Sheidegger argue that the death penalty should always be an available option for the cruelest offenders, citing rising prison incarceration costs, and basic concepts of human justice as a compelling reason for death to remain the most serious punishment legally possible.

15. Freedom of the Press Does Not Extend to State Secrets

Hear an interesting debate on the freedom of the press and whether or not they have the right under the 1st amendment to publish state secrets. Both sides agree that some state secrets need to be kept such as the identities of spies, nuclear secrets, and other secrets which might obviously endanger the United States. But they disagree as to whether the press or the government has the power to determine the release of other state secrets which may be more controversial. They also debate over new incarnations of "the press" such as the Wikileaks leak from Julian Assange. It's an interesting and sometimes confusing debate over the freedom of the press in this new digital information age.

 

June 24, 2014

Does God Exist? Debates on Video

Recent years have seen an upswell of debate between theologians and prominent voices in the scientific community over the existence of God. With this selection, LearnOutLoud has brought together a series of debates on audio & video asking "Does God Exist?" Below you'll find key figures in the new atheism movement, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins as they square off against defenders from the spiritual side of the table, such as Deepak Chopra, Al Sharpton, and more. Though sometimes contentious, the debates provided here offer useful food for thought for anyone that is questioning a secular vs. spiritual worldview. Get started by clicking any the links below:

1. Science Refutes God: PBS Intelligence Squared U.S.

In this lively debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., atheists Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer take on Christians Ian Hutchinson and Dinesh D'Souza over whether "Science Refutes God". Krauss and Shermer look at the achievements of modern science and see no evidence for God. Hutchinson and D'Souza argue the limitations of science in determining morality and look to religion as the source for many truths. Topics discussed include miracles, the Big Bang, and much more. At then end both sides take some questions from the audience, and then they give the debate results.

2. Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens Debate

Listen to a stimulating debate between the Reverend Al Sharpton and God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens provides many arguments against religion, arguing against religious texts, dogmatic beliefs, and a creator God. Al Sharpton contends that Hitchens cannot prove the non-existence of God and argues that if immoral acts are performed in the name of God that they have no relation to the great character of God. They both reflect on the modern implications of a belief in God, as Hitchens denounces the intrusion of religion into politics and culture (particularly in the Middle East) and Sharpton emphasizes the role of religion in positive social change such as in the American Civil Rights Movement. The whole debate is handled with good humor, even if neither Sharpton nor Hitchens are able to change one another's minds. This debate was held at the New York Public Library and is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.

3. Deepak Chopra vs. Leonard Mlodinow: War of the Worldviews

Start your week with this stimulating debate between spiritual author Deepak Chopra and physicist Leonard Mlodinow on spirituality and science in the contemporary world. Chopra starts the debate by pointing to the mystery of consciousness as proof that God's design of our universe is beyond scientific comprehension. Mlodinow contends that we may understand a great deal more about consciousness in the future and that religion is often there to explain what science can't explain yet. Chopra aruges that with our great gains in science, we have also created some of the greatest threats to life on Earth including nuclear war and global warming, and that we need to emphasize global spiritual development in order to create a sustainable future. Mlodinow agrees that we need spirituality and that science can't answer all questions, but he still doesn't see the need for God and religion in order to explain our universe. Watch this excellent 50 minute debate from FORA.tv.

4. The God Debate: Christopher Hitchens vs. Dinesh D'Souza

Christopher Hitchens debates conservative author and Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza in this debate from the University of Notre Dame. D'Souza argues on the grounds of reason that God is best explanation for the origins of life, the human moral compass, and our capacity of good and evil. Hitchens argues that the universe isn't as ordered as D'Souza would like to believe and that science can prove how the universe came from nothing without the need of a Creator or intelligent design. This debates is available on for free on streaming video on YouTube.

5. The God Debate II: Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig

In this video debate provided by Notre Dame, Christian apologist William Lane Craig debates with best-selling atheist author Sam Harris on whether or not God should be the basis of human morality. Craig frames the debate with the question of whether or not human beings can formulate a solid moral foundation without the existence of God, refuting the claim made by Harris and others that morality is an evolutionary process designed to help humans flourish together in harmony. Harris counters by arguing scientists can come to the question of morality unclouded by religious bias and therefore rely on clear reasoning to help guide humanity to a better future that does not require the sanction of a divine lawgiver. Lively, intelligent, and friendly, Craig and Harris hold their debate on common, respectful grounds before describing where there thinking diverges.

6. Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens Debate Religion

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens debate "Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?". Blair, who recently converted to Catholicism, uses his oratory skills to passionately argue that religion motivates a great deal of good in the modern world, and that a world without religion would be worse off for many reasons. Blair concedes that a great deal of harm has been committed by religious fanatics throughout history, but that this is not a reason to get rid of religion anymore than bad politicians are a valid reason to get rid of politics. Hitchens agrees that religion is not going away, but counters that the world would be better with a great deal more secularism and less religion. He focuses on problems which are compounded when religion intrudes such as poverty and its relation to the subjugation of women. They field over an hour of questions from the audience. It's an excellent debate from two very talented rhetoricians. It is available on streaming video from the C-SPAN video library.

7. Debate: The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion

In this lively debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., four speakers argue whether or not the World would be better without religion. On the faith-based side of the aisle, Dinesh D'Souza and Rabbi David Wolpe point out several strong cases for how religion has provided human beings with a framework for moral action and meaning. Countering these claims are Matthew Chapman and A.C. Grayling, both of whom enumerate on the historically negative social influence of religious belief and do not necessarily agree that faith is synonymous with ethical living.

8. Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham at the Creation Museum

It's not every week that a public debate video gets over 2 million views on YouTube. Yet Bill Nye's recent debate with Ken Ham over evolution and creationism has gained that many views. Ken Ham is a young-Earth creationist who advocates a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. He is also the president of the Creation Museum where this debate is held. Bill Nye is an American science educator who argues that creationism is not a viable model of origins in light of the evidence for Darwinian evolution. They each have a slide show and demonstration for their case which they each present in 30 minutes and then go back and forth in this 3-hour debate. Watch one of the most popular videos on YouTube.

9. Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe: The Great God Debate

In this debate Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe take a look at many aspects of religion starting with answering "What is God?" and then arguing the various merits of the religious and secular worldviews. Rabbi Wolpe argues that religious belief leads to more basic goodness for the individual and for society as a whole as believers are more charitable and do more good works than non-believers. Hitchens argues that much of religious practice is wicked such as missionaries who prosthelytize to those who are weak and vulnerable. It's a very well conducted debate with both sides contributing strong arguments. This debate is available on streaming video from the Forum Network.

 

November 2, 2012

2012 Presidential Debates on Video & Audio

We'll feature a few more audio & video essentials for this close presidential election. We'll start off with the presidential debates. We link to all of the available debates to stream on YouTube (and the ones we link to are available in HD video), and we link to the audio on National Public Radio which you can download on MP3 for each debate.

2012 First Presidential Debate: Obama vs. Romney (10/03/12) (on domestic issues)

2012 Second Presidential Debate: Obama vs. Romney (10/16/12) (mostly on domestic issues)

2012 Third Presidential Debate: Obama vs. Romney (10/22/12) (on foreign policy)

2012 Vice Presidential Debate: Biden vs. Ryan (10/11/12)

And if you're interested in some other opinions from political voices outside the two party system, we recommend the 2012 Third Party Presidential Debate moderated by Larry King and featuring Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, & Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson:

2012 Third Party Presidential Debate (10/23/12)

In case you had missed the major speeches at the Democratic National Convention or at the Republican National Convention, C-SPAN put together a good YouTube playlist featuring the acceptance speeches of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, along with the speeches of Paul Ryan, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Clint Eastwood, Michelle Obama, and Gov. Chris Christie. You can access these speeches here:

2012 Political Conventions Major Speeches

And finally if you want to get beyond the talking points of the candidates we recommend the PBS Frontline documentary:

Frontline: The Choice 2012

Each presidential election year PBS produces the Frontline documentary "The Choice". It premiered a few weeks ago and you can now watch the 2-hour documentary "The Choice 2012" on YouTube. This documentary goes beyond the talking points of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and looks at their biographies in order to discover what drives them and informs their decisions. The documentary goes back to the upbringing of both candidates and follows them through their rise in politics and some of their more recent political struggles. It's a good look at Obama and Romney with insightful interviews from some of the people that have been closest to them. Enjoy this free documentary.

PBS has also posted the audio of "The Choice 2012" on their Frontline audio podcast if you'd like to check it out that way:

Frontline Audiocast - PBS Podcast

And with that we'll remind you to be sure to get out and vote Tuesday, November 6th!

Now a quote from Plato: "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."



 

December 16, 2011

5 Great Christopher Hitchens Debates

christopher-hitchens-debates-blog.jpg Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens passed away yesterday at the age of 62. Hitchens was known as a polemicist and contrarian and his skills in rhetoric made for very engaging debates which he participated in. We've picked out five of the best debates on audio & video from the past few years in which Hitchens debated a worthy opponent. Since the publication of his bestselling book God Is Not Great in which he argues against religion, Hitchens has been one of the more vocal advocates of atheism in today's world. Four of the debates we feature here are about religion. Hitchens also stirred controversy with his support of the Iraq War and his sympathy for neoconservative ideas, and in one debate we feature Hitchens argues his political stance. Enjoy these debates from the late Christopher Hitchens:

1. Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens Debate Religion

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens debate "Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?". Blair, who recently converted to Catholicism, uses his oratory skills to passionately argue that religion motivates a great deal of good in the modern world, and that a world without religion would be worse off for many reasons. Blair concedes that a great deal of harm has been committed by religious fanatics throughout history, but that this is not a reason to get rid of religion anymore than bad politicians are a valid reason to get rid of politics. Hitchens agrees that religion is not going away, but counters that the world would be better with a great deal more secularism and less religion. He focuses on problems which are compounded when religion intrudes such as poverty and its relation to the subjugation of women. They field over an hour of questions from the audience. It's an excellent debate from two very talented rhetoricians. It is available on streaming video from the C-SPAN video library.

2. Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe: The Great God Debate

In this debate Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe take a look at many aspects of religion starting with answering "What is God?" and then arguing the various merits of the religious and secular worldviews. Rabbi Wolpe argues that religious belief leads to more basic goodness for the individual and for society as a whole as believers are more charitable and do more good works than non-believers. Hitchens argues that much of religious practice is wicked such as missionaries who prosthelytize to those who are weak and vulnerable. It's a very well conducted debate with both sides contributing strong arguments. This debate is available on MP3 audio download and streaming video from the Forum Network.

3. On Whether Christopher Hitchens Was Wrong

In this 2008 Hitchens debate liberal author and blogger Eric Alterman talks with Christopher Hitchens via webcam on bloggingheads.tv. The majority of the hour long debate revolves around Hitchens' support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Both argue many points about foreign policy in the Middle East. Alterman argues that liberals have become the true conservative and common sense party in America and the neo-conservatives to which he feels Hitchens belongs are the true radicals. Hitchens begs to differ. In the end they do both agree that they are voting for Barack Obama in 2008. This debate is available on MP3 audio download and streaming video from bloggingheads.tv.

4. The God Debate: Hitchens vs. D'Souza

Christopher Hitchens debates conservative author and Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza in this debate from the University of Notre Dame. D'Souza argues on the grounds of reason that God is best explanation for the origins of life, the human moral compass, and our capacity of good and evil. Hitchens argues that the universe isn't as ordered as D'Souza would like to believe and that science can prove how the universe came from nothing without the need of a Creator or intelligent design. This debates is available on for free on streaming video on YouTube.

5. Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens Debate

Listen to a stimulating debate between the Reverand Al Sharpton and God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens provides many arguments against religion, arguing against religious texts, dogmatic beliefs, and a creator God. Al Sharpton contends that Hitchens cannot prove the non-existence of God and argues that if immoral acts are performed in the name of God that they have no relation to the great character of God. They both reflect on the modern implications of a belief in God, as Hitchens denounces the intrusion of religion into politics and culture (particularly in the Middle East) and Sharpton emphasizes the role of religion in positive social change such as in the American Civil Rights Movement. The whole debate is handled with good humor, even if neither Sharpton nor Hitchens are able to change one another's minds. This debate was held at the New York Public Library and is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.

And if those aren't enough, here are four more Christopher Hitchens debates:

Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Debate at 92nd Street Y

Does Atheism Poison Everything?: Christopher Hitchens Debates David Berlinski

Poison or Cure? Religious Belief in the Modern World: Christopher Hitchens Debates Alister McGrath

Christopher Hitchens and John Haldane at Oxford - We Don't Do God?: God in the Public Square

And for more great audio & video from Christopher Hitchens check out our author pages for him: Christopher Hitchens Audio & Video




 

May 22, 2009

Ten Top Audio & Video Debates

cicerodebateblogfeature.jpgListen to ten great debates with these ten free resources on audio & video. For the past many years we've featured hundreds of free audio & video resources as part of our Free Resource of the Day Emails. From these emails, we've carefully chosen a top ten of the best free debates we could find, with timely topics such as gay marriage, the morality of abortion and the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our selection also showcases stimulating debates on religion, evolution, artificial intelligence and how the internet is developing in the 21st century. From the latest hot-button topics that have captured our attention, to heated discussion on humanity's future, the debates we've selected here are sure to give anyone a better understanding of where they stand. You can check them all out by clicking the links below:

1. Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham at the Creation Museum

It's not every week that a public debate video gets over 2 million views on YouTube. Yet Bill Nye's recent debate with Ken Ham over evolution and creationism has gained that many views. Ken Ham is a young-Earth creationist who advocates a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. He is also the president of the Creation Museum where this debate is held. Bill Nye is an American science educator who argues that creationism is not a viable model of origins in light of the evidence for Darwinian evolution. They each have a slide show and demonstration for their case which they each present in 30 minutes and then go back and forth in this 3-hour debate. Watch one of the most popular debates on YouTube.

2. A Public Debate On The Limits of Intelligent Machines

Can we Create conscious machines that are every bit as self-aware as a human being? Ray Kurzweil and David Gelertner debate the feasibility of this question in this downloadable audio released by WGBH. Kurzweil argues that future technology will allow humans to mechanically simulate consciousness, to which Gelertner counters that mere replication doesn't necessarily lead to self- awareness. Listen in on this lively and thought provoking discourse on what makes the human brain unique. This debate is available on streaming audio & video and MP3 download.

3. Is Abortion Morally Justifiable in a Free Society?

Listen to this 90-minute debate offered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. It's a well-organized debate with interesting arguments for pro-life advocate & philosophy professor Peter Kreeft and pro-choice advocate and author of A Defense of Abortion David Boonin. Boonin argues for the right of a woman to not keep the fetus on "life support" in the womb, while Kreeft that abortion is wrong by moral and religious standards. This debate is available on MP3 download and streaming video.

4. Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens Debate

Listen to a stimulating debate between the Reverand Al Sharpton and God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens provides many arguments against religion, arguing against religious texts, dogmatic beliefs, and a creator God. Al Sharpton contends that Hitchens cannot prove the non-existence of God and argues that if immoral acts are performed in the name of God that they have no relation to the great character of God. They both reflect on the modern implications of a belief in God, as Hitchens denounces the intrusion of religion into politics and culture (particularly in the Middle East) and Sharpton emphasizes the role of religion in positive social change such as in the American Civil Rights Movement. The whole debate is handled with good humor, even if neither Sharpton nor Hitchens are able to change one another's minds. This debate was held at the New York Public Library and is available on streaming video and MP3 download from FORA.tv.

5. The Millennials

In this debate hosted by Book TV, Mark Bauerlein (author of The Dumbest Generation) and Neil Howe (authors of Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation) argue over what the future may hold for the newest generation of young adults. These "Millennials" as they've come to be called will inherit a world where access to information has accelerated everything, possibly to the detriment of personal development. Bauerlein offers a hard portrait of an under-educated generation numbed by digital input while Howe optimistically counters this assessment by giving examples of how kids have developed a more modulated approach to learning thanks to new technological avenues. This debate is available on streaming video through the BookTV website.

6. Creativity, Commerce, & Culture: Lessig vs. Valenti

If you want to hear an interesting debate over copyright in the digital age, tune into this free online video from the USC Annenberg School for Communication. President of the Motion Picture Association Jack Valenti is hilarious as he stubbornly keep to his position for the entertainment industry's battle to maintain it's intellectual property as long as it wants to. Law professor and author Lawrence Lessig has a sense of humor too, but he is seriously concerned that in our increasingly copyrighted culture the artist's freedom and fair use is being stifled. Decide for yourself and be entertained while doing so.

7. The Future of Nuclear Energy

Get ready for a great debate on the future of nuclear energy in America. Andrew Kadak is an MIT Professor of the Practice of Nuclear Engineering and he argues that in the face of global warming we need to face the "second inconvenient truth" that in order to deal with global warming all non-CO2 emitting energy sources must be used, including nuclear energy. Victor Reis was the Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Energy and he argues in favor of growing nuclear power with recycling in order to reduce nuclear waste. Allison Macfarlane is a Professor of Environment Science and Policy at George Mason University. While she acknowledges that nuclear power is a safe energy source compared to the perceived dangers it posed 40 years ago, she still feels that there are too many problems with nuclear power including what should be done with the highly toxic nuclear waste and also how to deal with the threat of developing countries attempting to acquire nuclear energy and nuclear weapons since the path to reaching them is basically the same. It's an interesting debate on an important topic in the national quest to curb global warming. It's available on streaming video from MIT World.

8. Gay Marriage Debate

Watch this debate on gay marriage with David Blankenhorn, author of The Future of Marriage, and Evan Wolfson, author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry. This 2 hour debate, along with audience questions, becomes quite heated, but is very informative as to the positions on each side of the gay marriage debate. Blankenhorn expresses his belief of what marriage is and what it means for parents and children if the definition of marriage is changed. Wolfson cites studies by numerous organizations that have shown gay marriage to not be harmful in regards to raising children, and to deny gay couples marriage is discrimination and violates their civil rights. This debate was conducted on C-SPAN and can be viewed on streaming video through FORA.tv.

9. Israel and Palestine After Disengagement: Where Do We Go From Here?

Listen to one of the liveliest debate we've ever heard between Noam Chomsky and Alan M. Dershowitz over ways to find peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been going on for almost a century now. These two prominent intellectuals have been writing on the conflict for a number of decades and it makes for a very engaging debate regardless of where you stand or how much you know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dershowitz argues that the Palestinians should've accepted the terms during the Camp David Summit in 2000, and that now is a critical time for reaching a peace agreement. Chomsky feels that the terms offered the Palestinians at Camp David were unreasonable and that a two-state solution should follow the ideas presented at the Taba Summit in 2001. The debate goes into many other areas surrounding maps, human rights, and terrorism, along with lots of interesting questions asked from the audience. This debate was conducted at Harvard University's Institute of Politics in 2005, and it is available streaming video the C-SPAN website.

10. Jimmy Wales and Andrew Keen Debate Web 2.0

In this debate from the Commonwealth Club of California journalist David Ewing Duncan moderates a debate over Web 2.0 between Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and author Andrew Keen. Keen brings up many interesting objections to Web 2.0 and its user-based sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and Craigslist. He feels these sites are undermining the ability for creative professionals to make a living because they give everything away for free. He also criticizes Wikipedia because the authors are anonymous and he feels an individual author is required in order to evaluate their writing. Wales feels that Web 2.0 has contributed to a growing creative class and that while the new Internet paradigm has created disruptions in the economy it ultimately leads to a better knowledge-based economy and a better world. This debate is available on streaming video and MP3 download from FORA.tv.

And for more debates on a wide variety of topics you might want to check out: NPR's Intelligence Squared U.S. Podcast.

 

October 8, 2006

CA Governor's Debate on Audio

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So I missed the one & only California Governor's Debate between Phil Angelides & Gov. Schwarzenegger, which was broadcast at 6PM this Saturday during the L.A. Dodgers playoff game. Now I'm trying to find it on audio so I can hopefully get it on my iPod or at least listen to it on streaming audio. But I can't find it anywhere!

I don't know anything about the legality of putting it out there, but this stuff demands to be on audio. I would like to learn more about Phil Angelides, but in the downloads section of his site he's just got a bunch of PDFs (where's the podcast Phil?!). Schwarzenegger's got a podcast which consists of his weekly radio address, but the feed has been dead in iTunes for months now:

http://features.governor.ca.gov/index.php/podcast/rss/
(don't bother clicking, it's a 404!)

I go to all the public radio affiliates in CA: KCRW, KPCC, KQED, and none of them have it. They're doing some rebroadcasting at certain times, but I want it right now on my iPod! I even check Google Video & You Tube to see if anyone put it up on streaming video. Nothing. I went to the chinsy California Broadcasters Association website which was responsible for the debate. No luck.

Update: The Angelides campaign has directed me to it on streaming video: http://cbs5.com/video/?id=17034@kpix.dayport.com. I still wish I could get it on my iPod.