preconceptions," she explains. "To bring issues to the table and engage in civilized aggression that can only happen in a live environment, with two educated sides focusing on a discussion." Peel suggests the idea harks back to Socrates and the Forum. Find a topical issue. Debate it between two sides, with experts leading the charge. Argue it passionately; intelligently. Have a vote before and after, so you can see how the audience has been influenced. Come away mentally engaged. Do it again, a month later.
AAccording to Peel, this hunger for live conversation may have been provoked by the solitary immersion of today's online worker; it is certainly a side effect of the wave of data that crashes over us all. "It is hard to find opinion alongside the constant barrage of information we have," she says. "Very often the depth to which one can go is exchanged for breadth. We want to give people the ability to consume that second layer, that interpretation; to see
“The BRITISH MEDIA has the most tremendous LEVEL of DISCUSSION and the need to hear both sides”
both sides and to then take away their own opinion."
It comes as no surprise that the brain trust of the organization is based in London, the intellectual hub of a country in which broadsheet comment pages are voraciously consumed by readers seeking explanations behind headlines. "The British media has the most tremendous level of discussion and the need to hear both sides," she says. "It sets a very high standard."
She sees Intelligence Squared as highly transferable, and is
in negotiations for its forums to take place in Dubai, Nigeria, Israel, Chile and South Africa – all places where the freedom of speech has been challenged, and which are now eager for liberal debate.
Peel has forged alliances with DebateMate, an institution that promotes debate and discussion in British state schools, and hopes to introduce that idea in Asia. For her, the ability to argue with "intelligent aggression" is a vital life skill. "As we all get so focused on our computers, being able to go out
there and present one's opinion is going to become increasingly important. I think there is a tremendous value in encouraging the next generation to go out there and have their say." She pauses. "As long as that doesn't mean my children negotiating their bedtime." To join in the debate, visit intelligencesquared.com
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