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|Headquarters||Notting Hill, London|
Intelligence Squared is an organisation that stages debates around the world. It was founded in 2002 in London where its head office is based, but now operates globally in the US, Australia, Hong Kong, Greece, Ukraine, Chile, Nigeria and Israel. The debates are held in the traditional Oxford style, with as many as 2,500 people attending some events.
Intelligence Squared was founded by two media businessmen, Jeremy O'Grady and John Gordon, in 2002. Hannah Kaye has been executive producer in London since 2006. In 2012, the company passed into the new ownership of Amelie von Wedel, Yana Peel and David Legg. Topics covered include “The problem with this country is the Daily Mail”, “Free market capitalism is so 20th century” and “Putin has been good for Russia”. A number of debates have sold over 2000 tickets, including “Churchill was more a liability than an asset to the free world” and “The world would be better off without religion”. As well as debates, there have been festivals on subjects such as London / Paris, climate change, and technology, and talks and interviews with figures including Jimmy Carter, Eric Schmidt, Patti Smith and Werner Herzog. In 2006 Intelligence Squared US was set up by Robert Rosenkranz in New York. Since then other Intelligence Squared licensees have begun to operate in Sydney (2008), Kiev in partnership with the Foundation for Effective Governance (2008 – 2014), Hong Kong (2009), Athens (2010) and Israel (2013).
Typically, a motion for debate is proposed and outlined by the chair, and there are two teams of speakers lined up to argue either for or against the motion. There are opening set speeches followed by Q&A from the floor and a lively interchange between the speakers. The audience is asked to vote before the debate and then again at the end, to see how far the arguments have swayed people’s minds. Previous speakers include Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins, Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens.
In 2012, Intelligence Squared started a partnership with Google producing the Versus Debates. The first, titled "It's time to end the War on Drugs", was on 13 March 2012, featuring Richard Branson, Russell Brand, Antonio Maria Costa, Eliot Spitzer, Geoffrey Robertson QC, Fernando Cardoso and Julian Assange. The second Versus event was "Hip-hop doesn't enhance society, it degrades it". Q-Tip, KRS-One, Jesse Jackson, Jason Whitlock, dream hampton and more debated the politics of hip-hop to a hall of 2,000 and an online audience of 80,000.
Intelligence Squared on TV
Intelligence Squared debates have also been broadcast globally on BBC World to audiences of up to eighty million. These have included "George W Bush is the worst American President for the past fifty years", "The Future of Iraq" and "The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world". Intelligence Squared also release all their videos free online to YouTube.
Intelligence Squared in the US
In September 2006, Intelligence Squared U.S., was launched by Robert Rosenkranz, an initiative of The Rosenkranz Foundation, a non-profit organization. IQ2US Intelligence Squared U.S. is a live debate series with the goal of raising the level of public discourse and promoting a realization that, on contentious issues, those who challenge the conventional wisdom have intellectually respectable and often persuasive viewpoints. Intelligence Squared U.S. encourages citizens to “Think Twice” about their opinions and participate in the conversation, and it provides a forum for balanced discussion that transcends emotion and ideology. Through an annual series of between 10 and 12 live Oxford-style debates,brings together experts and audience around public policy and cultural issues. IQ2US debates air on the Bloomberg Television network and are heard on more than 220 NPR stations nationwide. Intelligence Squared U.S. attracts top tier thinkers and the world's leading authorities debating the most pressing issues of the day. Dana Wolfe is the executive producer and John Donvan of ABC News is the moderator.
Intelligence Squared in Israel
In 2013, Intelligence Squared Israel was launched by Roxanne Horesh. The first live Oxford-style debate was held on April 2013 in Tel Aviv Museum of Art on the subject "If Israel continues on its current course, it cannot remain both a democratic and Jewish state".