The autumn programme of debates from Intelligence Squared has just been announced. These events put some of the world's great thinkers (plus a few who are there to fan the flames) on stage to debate 'for' or 'against' a particular motion. It can all feel a little pompous to those more at home in an informal pub debate than an Oxbridge Union clash. But we've yet to find an intellectual grapple more stimulating than these Wrestlemanias of the mind. Think TED Talks on steroids, and in well-tailored togs.
Here's the programme - see if you can guess who is 'for' and who 'against':
Motion: SEX, BUGS AND VIDEOTAPES: THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PUBLIC FIGURES DESERVE MORE PROTECTION FROM THE PRESS
7 September, 2010, Cadogan Hall.
Speakers: Max Mosley, Tom Bower, Ken Macdonald QC, Zeinab Badawi (Chair).
Motion: THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS IS A CHARADE
21 September, 2010, Methodist Central Hall
Speakers: Mustafa Barghouthi, Martin Indyk, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Jonathan Paris, Edward Luttwak, Manuel Hassassian, Richard Lindley (Chair).
Motion: ASSISTED SUICIDE SHOULD BE LEGALISED: THE TERMINALLY ILL SHOULD HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO BE HELPED TO END THEIR LIVES
19 October, 2010, Royal Geographical Society
Speakers: Emily Jackson, Alex Carlile QC, Debbie Purdy, Ilora Finlay, Mary Warnock, Richard Harries, Sue Lawley (Chair).
Motion: STOP BASHING CHRISTIANS! BRITAIN HAS BECOME AN ANTI-CHRISTIAN SOCIETY
3 November, 2010, Royal Geographical Society
Speakers: George Carey, Matthew Parris, Peter Hitchens, Claire Rayner, Howard Jacobson, Dom Antony Sutch, Jonathan Freedland (Chair).
Motion: DON’T EAT ANIMALS
9 November, 2010, Kensington Town Hall
Speakers: Abbas Daneshvari, Julian Baggini, Heather Mills, Robin Dunbar, Peter Singer, Paul Levy, Simon Jenkins (Chair)
It's a mouthwatering programme, if a little skewed toward morality and light on artistic, scientific or technological themes. Tickets cost £25 (with discounted season tickets available) and events begin at 6.45pm.
Intelligence Squared also arrange lectures by solo speakers. This season's luminaries include Elizabeth Gilbert (15 September, Cadogan Hall); Pervez Musharraf (29 September, Kensington Town Hall) and William Gibson (4 October, Cadogan Hall).
Previous talks are available on the website via podcast or video.