Open to Debate Debates China, January 6th, and Elon This Winter

January 19, 2023
Shore Fire Media Press Release

Kara Swisher, Ian Bremmer, Anthony Scaramucci, Parag Khanna, Andrew Keen among debaters


In the next two months, nonpartisan media platform Intelligence Squared U.S. will release new debates on questions like “Was January 6th an Existential Threat to American Democracy?,” “Has China’s Power Peaked?,” “Has Globalization Backfired?,” and “Is Elon Musk Killing Twitter?” featuring a wide array of experts like Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer, author Andrew Keen, geopolitical specialist Parag Khanna, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and journalist Kara Swisher. Continuing Intelligence Squared’s transition to a hybrid of in-person and virtual events, the globalization debate was taped at the YPO Edge conference and January 6th debate was taped at the Comedy Cellar’s Village Underground.

Intelligence Squared, which officially kicked off its new weekly release cycle on podcast and public radio last year, features new debates and conversations furthering the organization’s mission of combating extreme polarization by exposing audiences to smart arguments across a range of timely issues. The organization won Adweek’s 2022 Podcast of the Year Award for “Best Podcast Event” and is preparing to announce some major changes this spring.

See below for the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate lineup through February. Episodes come out every Friday in podcast apps and on the Intelligence Squared website (many with video too) and air soon after on a range of public radio stations across the country. Check for the latest schedule and debaters as they are announced.


January 6: “Was January 6th an Existential Threat to American Democracy?” – listen/watch here

Yes: Rebekah Caruthers: Election Strategist, Managing Partner at CAE Strategies, and Vice President of the Fair Elections Center

No: Andrew Keen: Author and “How to Fix Democracy” podcast host

By now it is clear, the Red Wave election-denying candidates had hoped to ride left most still waiting on the beach. Those who questioned the outcome of the 2020 election lost key midterm races, which seemed to calm the nerves of many of those fearful as to where the Republic itself was headed. But as the parties begin to prepare for their respective presidential runs, a bigger question looms; one that has taken its cues from President Biden himself. Shortly after the January 6th attacks on the capitol — which were prompted by unfounded messaging about the election’s illegitimacy — Biden sought to convey the severity of what had just happened. “The insurrection was an existential crisis — a test of whether our democracy could survive,” he said. Now, on the heels of the midterms, many not only openly wonder whether that democracy crisis is over, but also question if the words Biden chose were overblown in the first place. It is in that context, and as the 2024 elections come into focus, that we debate this question: Was January 6 an existential threat to American democracy?


January 13: “Has Globalization Backfired?” – listen/watch here

Yes: Rana Foroohar: Global Business Columnist, Financial Times; Author, “Homecoming: The Path To Prosperity In A Post-Global World”

No: Parag Khanna: Founder & CEO of Climate Alpha and Founder & Managing Partner of FutureMap

For a period of time, going global just seemed to make sense. But with China’s rise, Covid-19, and the war in Ukraine, words like “localnomics,” “friends-shoring,” and “decoupling” have helped codify a growing movement that calls for less interdependence between economies. Those in favor of a more “deglobalized” system of trade argue that it is not only more environmentally friendly and responsive to regional needs, but also less of a driver of income inequality. Indeed, globalization’s three-decade trend of trade growing at twice the speed of the world economy has not lifted all boats, they argue. For many, including middle income populations in the industrialized west, it has backfired. Deglobalization is a welcome a shift. Others disagree. Globalization’s virtues are unmistakable, they say, resulting in less poverty and higher incomes across the world. People once cut off from markets benefit from new connections in commerce, culture, and communications. For them, it has not backfired. In fact, in the face of political challenges and volatile markets, more regionally-focused trade constitutes a dangerous circling of the wagons. In this context, we ask the question: Has Globalization Backfired?


January 20: “Is Elon Musk Killing Twitter?”

Yes: Kara Swisher: Host of “On with Kara Swisher,” Co-host of “Pivot” Podcast, and Editor-at-large of New York Magazine

No: Anthony Scaramucci: Founder and Managing Partner of SkyBridge, Former White House Communications Director

These days, the bird’s the word. Since shelling out $44 billion for Twitter, critics say Elon Musk is knocking the social media giant off its perch. Under his guidance, a slew of firings, a resurgence of unsavory Tweeters, and a bevy of on-again, off-again bans, have all raised questions about the platform’s long-term viability. Some investors have labeled Musk an albatross around Twitter’s neck, calling for him to stay focused on Tesla and SpaceX. Others say Musk is actually freeing the bird from anti-conservative censorship, which will engender more open discourse. His moves, they say, are all a part of a broader business acumen that has proven successful in the past. In that context, we ask the timely question of whether Elon Musk is killing Twitter.


January 27: “Is Parenting Overrated?” [re-release]

Yes: Robert Plomin: Professor of Behavioral Genetics, King’s College London

Yes: Nancy Segal: Professor of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton & Director, Twin Studies Center

No: Paige Harden: Psychology Professor, University of Texas

No: Ann Pleshette: Murphy Author & Parenting Expert

What shapes us more: our DNA, or the way we’re raised? This debate, commonly recognized as “nature versus nurture,” has drawn disagreement for thousands of years. So which one matters more? Emerging genetic research indicates that the scale may be tipping toward biology – but not all trust the research. Proponents of the “nature” camp argue it is DNA that determines who we are, as evidenced by identical twins and triplets who are separated at birth and, once reunited, show remarkable similarities despite different upbringings. Rather than trying to identify the perfect parenting style, they argue, caregivers should look to their children’s DNA to identify natural strengths and challenges to promote overall health and well-being. But others strongly disagree, saying that parenting is very important, and the individuals who rear us influence our development, growth, and, ultimately, our lives. The “nurture” camp also points to studies that show how beliefs and behaviors are not innate, as evidenced by stark differences in the expression of adolescence and other life stages across different cultures. Are they right? Or is parenting overrated?


February 3: “Does the Sex Offender Registry Do More Harm Than Good?”

Yes: Emily Horowitz, a sociologist who researches sex offense law and policy

No: Cary Federman, an associate professor at Montclair State University who focuses law and jurisprudence, free speech, democratic theory, prisons and prisoners’ rights

Sexual violence is arguably the most devastating kind. And over the past few decades, the legal landscape has shifted to a more proactive stance. The Wetterling Act requires convicted offenders to register with local authorities. Megan’s Law mandates law enforcement to alert neighbors of those with past convictions in their community. And the U.S. Department of Justice consolidates convictions into a single, searchable site – all in the name of helping people avoid potential predators. But that registry has come under increasing scrutiny. Some suggest that it actually encourages further criminal offenses by making it virtually impossible for offenders to reintegrate into society. Crimes also vary considerably – from public urination, exhibitionists, and so-called “peeping Toms,” to more severe crimes, such as sexual assault and rape. Those differences, they say, are not adequately accounted for in the law. Others say that reducing such a proactive approach and tool will endanger communities, which have consistently supported it in the name of keeping communities safe. In this context, we debate the following question: Does the Sex Offender Registry Do More Harm Than Good?


February 10: “Have Dating Apps Killed Romance” [re-release]

Yes: Eric Klinenberg: Sociologist & Co-Author, Modern Romance

Yes: Manoush Zomorodi: Host and Managing Editor, Note to Self

No: Helen Fisher: Biological Anthropologist, Best-Selling Author & Chief Scientific Adviser,

No: Tom Jacques: Vice President of Engineering, OkCupid

Every day millions of people turn to dating apps to find love. To date, more than 49 million Americans have given digital dating a try and the companies facilitating these matches are raking in billions. But are dating apps really designed to promote long-lasting romance? Apps like Tinder and Bumble make finding a date as easy as swiping right, while digital platforms like and OkCupid use specialized algorithms to help users find the perfect partner, regardless of age or personal preferences. Further, a range of niche sites connect people with highly specific interests, whether it’s single parenthood, a gluten-free lifestyle, or a devotion to Ayn Rand. But some argue that online dating is rife with sexism, racism, and misogyny, and that dating apps ultimately create a culture that prioritizes sex over committed and lasting love. After all, why settle on one match when there may be someone better just a swipe away?


February 17: “Has China’s Power Peaked?”

Yes: Michael Beckley, formerly of the Harvard Kennedy School, the US Department of Defense, the RAND Corporation, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

No: Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group, a leading global political risk research and consulting firm

This was supposed to be the “Chinese century.” In just a few decades, China transitioned from a developing economy to the world’s second largest. Measured in purchasing power parity, it actually surpassed the U.S. economy in 2014, and has since expanded its military, monetary, infrastructure, and soft power capacities in ways that all seemed to point to long-term advantages as a rising power. At the Communist Party’s five-yearly congress in October 2022, Xi Jinping cemented his place as the country’s “helmsman” and its most powerful person since Mao Zedong, with an unprecedented third term as party chief. And yet the failure of China’s zero-COVID policy, a slumping economy, apparent supply chain vulnerabilities within its technology sector, and a problematic demographic profile have all raised questions about the scope of China’s future power. Those who say it has peaked say the Chinese system is facing significant economic headwinds, uneven innovation, a heavy debt burden, as well as mounting frustrations among its younger populations with regard to upward mobility and censorship. Those who say it hasn’t peaked argue that while the nation’s economic growth has indeed slowed, massive Chinese spending in infrastructure, defense, and technology will nonetheless allow it to enlarge its global power projections well into the future. Against this backdrop, we debate this question: Has China’s Power Peaked?


Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded to address a fundamental problem in America: the extreme polarization of our nation and our politics. Through its award-winning live debates and associated programming, the nonprofit organization serves as a model for responsible media in a new age – fair, intelligent, nonpartisan – while restoring critical thinking, facts, reason, and civility to public discourse. Recognized as “Best Podcast Event of 2022” by Adweek, Intelligence Squared U.S. reaches millions through multi-platform distribution, including public radio, podcasts, video live streaming, newsletters, interactive digital content, and on-demand apps. With over 220 debates and counting, plus additional podcast and video content, the organization has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics for over a decade. Intelligence Squared U.S. was initiated by The Rosenkranz Foundation, which continues to provide major support.


For more information on Intelligence Squared U.S., please contact Ray Padgett ( or Mark Satlof ( at Shore Fire Media.