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Spy On Me, I’d Rather Be Safe – Intelligence Squared debate Wednesday (live webcast)

Intelligence Squared debates

Spy On Me, I’d Rather Be Safe (click the LIVE STREAMING link)

The IQ2 webcasts are free.

Debate: 5:30-7:00 PM (Eastern)
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Burke Theater at the U.S. Navy War Memorial
701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC

The NSA collects data on billions of phone calls and internet communications per day. Are these surveillance programs legal? Do they keep us safe? If not for the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, most Americans would be unaware of the vast amounts of information their government is secretly collecting, all in the name of national security. But whether you believe leakers are heroes or traitors, an important public conversation has finally begun, and we should ask ourselves: What tradeoffs are we willing to make between security and privacy?

As Benjamin Franklin might have asked, “Are we giving up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, and thus deserving of neither?”

Stewart Baker First Asst. Secretary for Policy, Dept. of Homeland Security
Richard Falkenrath Principal, The Chertoff Group & Former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor

David Cole Professor of Law, Georgetown Univ. Law Center
Michael German Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington

For debate related reading, go to IQ2‘s research page here (click The Research link).

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The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness – Intelligence Squared debate Thursday (live webcast)

Intelligence Squared debates

The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness (click the LIVE STREAMING link)

The IQ2 webcasts are free.

Debate: 6:45-8:30 PM (Eastern)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Kaufman Center
129 West 67th Street
New York, New York

“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” –2nd Amendment

Recent mass shooting tragedies have renewed the national debate over the 2nd Amendment. Gun ownership and homicide rates are higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation, but gun violence has decreased over the last two decades even as gun ownership may be increasing. Over 200 years have passed since James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights, the country has changed, and so have its guns. Is the right to bear arms now at odds with the common good, or is it as necessary today as it was in 1789?

Alan Dershowitz Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Sanford Levinson Professor of Law and of Government, University of Texas

David Kopel Research Director, Independence Institute & Associate Policy Analyst, Cato Institute
Eugene Volokh Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

For debate related reading, go to IQ2‘s research page here (click The Research link).

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Richard Dawkins speaks at Caltech Sunday (live webcast)



An Appetite for Wonder—The Making of a Scientist in Conversation with Michael Shermer

• Event Date: Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 2 pm PST
• Location: Beckman Auditorium, Caltech
• Speaker: Richard Dawkins
• Tickets: Sold out

RICHARD DAWKINS’ first book, The Selfish Gene, caused a seismic shift in the study of biology by proffering the gene-centered view of evolution. It was also in this book that Dawkins coined the term meme, a unit of cultural evolution, which has itself become a mainstay in contemporary culture. In An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins shares a rare view into his early life, his intellectual awakening at Oxford, and his path to writing The Selfish Gene. He paints a vivid picture of his idyllic childhood in colonial Africa, peppered with sketches of his colorful ancestors, charming parents, and the peculiarities of colonial life right after World War II. At boarding school, despite a near-religious encounter with an Elvis record, he began his career as a skeptic by refusing to kneel for prayer in chapel. Despite some inspired teaching throughout primary and secondary school, it was only when he got to Oxford that his intellectual curiosity took full flight, ultimately climaxing in the 2006 publication of The God Delusion, which made Dawkins a world famous public intellectual engaged in social activism.

Event Sponsors: The Skeptics Society
This Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture at Caltech will be webcast live on the Livestream Skeptic Live Channel.
The live stream will also be available on the Skeptics Society upcoming lectures web page.


Conversation Replay
October 21, 2013: This event is available for free replay. Click the link below, then, in the window that opens, click the image of Richard Dawkins to start the video. We will upload this to our YouTube Channel in the next few days. For now, you can watch it here.

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Richard Dawkins with Brian Greene: An Appetite for Wonder (live webcast Tuesday)



Richard Dawkins with Brian Greene: An Appetite for Wonder

Tue, Sep 24, 8 pm (Eastern time)

Location: 92nd Street Y
Lexington Avenue at 92nd St
New York, NY
Venue: Kaufmann Concert Hall
Ticket price: from $34.00

[from 92Y website:]
When Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, coined the term “meme” in The Selfish Gene 37 years ago, he can’t have anticipated its current popularity as a word to describe internet fads.
But this just is one way in which he thrives as an intellectual in the internet age. The firebrand atheist energetically promotes science and rationalism on Twitter. According to The New York Times his books “make the reader feel like a genius.” Join us for a look inside this beautiful mind.


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The U.S. Drone Program is Fatally Flawed – Intelligence Squared debate Tuesday (live webcast)

Intelligence Squared debates

The U.S. Drone Program is Fatally Flawed (click the LIVE STREAMING link)

The IQ2 webcasts are free.

Debate: 6:45-8:30 PM (Eastern)
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Kaufman Center
129 West 67th Street
New York, New York

Remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, have been the centerpiece of America’s counterterrorism toolkit since the start of the Obama presidency, and the benefits have been clear.  Their use has significantly weakened al Qaeda and the Taliban while keeping American troops out of harm’s way.  But critics of drone strikes argue that the short-term gains do not outweigh the long-term consequences—among them, radicalization of a public outraged over civilian deaths.  Is our drone program hurting, or helping, in the fight against terrorism?

Ahmed Rashid, Pakistan-based Journalist & Author
John Kael Weston, Fmr. State Dept. Political Adviser to Marine Units, Iraq & Afghanistan

Admiral Dennis Blair (USN, Ret.), Former Director of National Intelligence
General Norton Schwartz (USAF, Ret.), Former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force

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The U.S. Has No Dog in the Fight in Syria – Intelligence Squared debate Friday (live webcast)

Intelligence Squared debates

The U.S. Has No Dog in the Fight in Syria (click the LIVE STREAMING link)

The IQ2 webcasts are free.

Debate: 5:30-7:00 PM Mountain time (7:30 PM Eastern)
Friday, August 9, 2013
Paepcke Auditorium at The Aspen Institute
1000 N. Third St.
Aspen, Colorado
Presented in partnership with Aspen Strategy Group at the Aspen Institute

When it comes to Syria, does the U.S. have a ‘dog in the fight’? There are no good options and many reasons not to intervene in Syria: Assad’s powerful allies, the public’s aversion to another war, and wariness over an opposition army that includes Islamic extremists. Holding back means ignoring a growing humanitarian crisis, where the number dead has topped 100,000. Discovery of Assad’s use of chemical weapons prompted President Obama to approve the delivery of small arms and ammunition to rebel forces. But does this call for more assertive policy from the administration, or would direct intervention hurt our strategic interests?

Richard Falkenrath Principal, The Chertoff Group & Former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
Graham Allison Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy and Plans

R. Nicholas Burns Former Under Secretary of State, Political Affairs
Sir Nigel Sheinwald Former British Ambassador to the United States


Categories: Uncategorized.

Live Chat: Is Human Cloning on the Horizon? (Thursday, 3pm EDT)


After a decade of failed attempts, researchers have finally managed to establish stem cell lines derived from cloned human embryos. Such patient-specific stem cells are potentially valuable for studying—and perhaps someday treating—a variety of diseases. What does the cloning breakthrough mean for medical research? And what ethical concerns does it raise? Does it pave the way for reproductive human cloning? Should the United States join other countries in banning any attempts to use the technique to make a human baby? And should donors of human oocytes—necessary for the cloning procedure—be paid for their donations, or does that open the door to exploitation? Does an alternative way of making patient-specific stem cells, called iPS cells, make clone-derived stem cells superfluous?

Join stem cell and cloning expert Dieter Egli of the New York Stem Cell Foundation and bioethicist Debra Mathews of Johns Hopkins University on Thursday, 27 June, at 3 p.m. EDT on this page for a live chat when we address these questions and take yours.

[iCP note: The comment box on the chat page may be used to submit questions for the experts in advance.]


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2013 World Science Festival live streaming starts Thursday

World Science Festival

The 2013 World Science Festival runs May 29 to June 2 in New York City.

Take a look at their schedule of free live webcasts (beginning Thursday).

Here are iCouchPotato’s best bets (times are Eastern):

The Whispering Mind: The Enduring Conundrum of Consciousness

Terry MoranMélanie BolyChristof KochColin McGinnNicholas Schiff

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

It’s an old question:  what is consciousness?  Today, sophisticated brain imaging technologies, clinical studies, as well as the newfound ability to listen to the whisper of even an individual nerve cell, are bringing scientists closer than ever to the neurobiological basis of consciousness.  Join some of the world’s leading researchers who are primed to determine if Homo sapiens are the only conscious species, if consciousness lives only within our brain or also outside of it, and ultimately, the fundamental biochemical processes underlying the life of the mind.


Keith DevlinRaphael BoussoPhilip ClaytonSteven StrogatzW. Hugh Woodin

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

“The infinite! No other question has ever moved so profoundly the spirit of man,” said David Hilbert, one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th century. A subject extensively studied by philosophers, mathematicians, and more recently, physicists and cosmologists, infinity still stands as an enigma of the intellectual world. Thinkers clash over questions such as: Does infinity exist? Can it be found in the physical world? What types of infinity are there? Through an interdisciplinary discussion with some of the world’s leading thinkers, this program will delve into the many facets of infinity and address some of the deepest questions and controversies that mention of the infinite continues to inspire.

Multiverse: One Universe or Many?

John HockenberryAndreas AlbrechtAlan GuthAndrei LindeNeil Turok

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

The inflationary theory of cosmology, an enduring theory about our universe and how it was formed, explains that just after the Big Bang, the universe went through a period of rapid expansion. This theory has been critical to understanding what’s going on in the cosmos today. But now, this long-held notion—which seems to suggest as-yet-unproven and perhaps unprovable features such as the multiverse—is under increasing attack. Through informed debate among architects of the inflationary theory and its prime competitors, this program will explore our best attempts to understand where we came from.


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Tax the Rich (More) – Munk debate Thursday (live webcast)



Debate: 7:00 PM EDT
Thursday, May 30, 2013
The live webcast will be free, but to get the link sent to you on Thursday, you need to get a free membership by providing your email here.

Paul Krugman: “The simple analytics say that we should soak the rich, hard.”
George Papandreou: “We have created an uber-class, a super-class, that is beyond democratic control of our nations.”

Newt Gingrich: “The effort to finance Big Government through higher taxes is a direct assault on civil society.”
Arthur Laffer: “If I could figure a way to stop future Congresses from ever raising taxes I’d do it every day of the week and twice on Sunday.”

How should advanced countries respond to growing income inequality? For some the answer is obvious: redistribute the wealth of the top income earners who have enjoyed, for almost a generation, the lion’s share of all income gains. Imposing higher taxes on the wealthy is the best way for countries such as Canada to reinvest in their social safety nets, education, and infrastructure while protecting the middle class. Others argue that anemic economic growth, not income inequality, is the real problem facing advanced countries. In a globalized economy, raising taxes on society’s wealth creators leads to capital flight, falling government revenues, and less money for the poor. These same voices contend that lowering taxes on everyone stimulates innovation and investment, fuelling future prosperity.

To advance the public policy debate of our time, the Munk Debates will move the motion: Be it resolved, tax the rich (more)…

Interesting that Paul Krugman has replaced the originally scheduled Robert Reich. Previous formal debate appearances by Krugman I am aware of online are this 2008 IQ2 debate on healthcare and this 2011 Munk debate on the economy. In any event, as a non-economist, this issue seems endlessly confusing, with both sides just talking past each other. I hope this debate helps.


Thursday update from Munk Debates:

Welcome to the live stream of the Munk Debate “Tax the Rich More”.

You can watch the entire debate proceedings on this page starting at approximately 7:00 PM EDT. If you would like to add your comments to our live blog please use the CoveritLive link on that page, or join the conversation on Twitter at #munkdebate.

Tell us what you think about the debate, in real time. We will be posting questions during the proceedings and tallying an instantaneous online vote of the viewing audience at

You can also join in our post-debate video chat starting at approximately 8:40 PM EDT. Ask questions of experts, share your analysis of the debate and more from 8:40 PM EST onwards. To participate in this post-debate video chat see the Spreecast video function below the Livestream (on the debate live stream page).


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The GOP Must Seize the Center or Die – Intelligence Squared Debate Wednesday (live webcast)

Intelligence Squared debates

The presence of David Brooks* (of whom I am a fan) on this panel gives me some hope that thoughtful discussion will actually take place.

The IQ2 webcasts are free.

The GOP Must Seize the Center or Die (click the LIVE STREAMING link)
Debate: 6:45-8:30 PM (Eastern)
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Kaufman Center
129 West 67th Street, New York
For those of you in New York, tickets are sold out.

2012 was a disappointing year for Republicans. The failure to win key swing states in the presidential election and surprising losses in the House and Senate have prompted some reflection. Was their embrace of small government, low taxes, and a strong conservative stance on social issues at odds with shifting American demographics? Or did the GOP embrace the right platform, but the wrong candidates?

David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
Mickey Edwards, Former US Congressman (R), Oklahoma

Laura Ingraham, Host, The Laura Ingraham Show
Ralph Reed, Chairman, Faith and Freedom Coalition

* See David Brooks on this 2011 IQ2 debate: The Two-Party System is Making America Ungovernable.


Categories: Uncategorized.