Over the past decade Intelligence Squared has won a golden reputation for its ability to get articulate, famous people together in a room and have them haul each other intellectually and rhetorically over the coals. Before a paying audience. Hence we were intrigued when they requested our involvement in their “Cycling Festival” to be held at the Royal Geographical Society on September 8th.
Run closely along the lines of a public session of the Oxford Union, Intelligence² live debating events set a motion to be discussed among speakers who are guaranteed to bring the Truth, or at least their own personal versions of it, with them. When all have spoken, the audience votes on whether said motion should be carried or not, based on the persuasiveness of either side’s arguments or style.
In the past they have featured such fine talkers as Stephen Fry, Christopher Hitchens and Boris Johnson, and their performances are all available to view online to subscribers at the Intelligence Squared homepage.
Runs red lights, runs the city of London. Cyclist, mayor and Intelligence² guest Boris Johnson.
Whether the motion set is potentially controversial or seemingly innocuous, there are two things that have marked out Intelligence² live debates since they started in 2002. Their themes are without fail topically relevant; and they bring forth the very best from those invited.
That their attention turns in September to human powered wheels is proof again, if proof were needed, of the pivotal role being played by the bicycle in political, social and environmental matters.
Chaired by Sir Rocco Forte, the debate will see “Flying Scotsman” Graeme Obree, essayist and author Geoff Dyer, award winning fiction-writer-turned-enfant-terrible-of-journalism-turned-public-intellectual Will Self (pictured above) join our man Vin Cox (Guinness World Record pictured above) of the Global Bicycle Race at the Dispatch Box.
And of course, probably given that cycling is one thing everybody can more or less agree on, speakers won’t be taking sides. Rather, they’ll speak individually about the bike, bikers and biking, and perhaps make a statement or two about the insights presented by the other speakers.
All those in favour say “Aye!”
The Intelligence Squared Cycling Festival
Sponsored by Brooks England
September 8th at the Royal Geographical Society, London.
Doors open 6.00 p.m.
Graeme Obree will have his own unique angle.