Whether in a classroom, conversing with colleagues or debating over the dinner table, here are a few hot topics to get you talking.
Unfortunately, the pros and cons of many controversial topics fail to tip the balance and provide a conclusive answer. For this reason, some practices undergo constant scrutiny and debate.
Is animal testing justifiable?
The major pro of animal testing is that it enables researchers to find drugs and treatments to improve health conditions, sometime even saving human lives.
Animals selected for testing are considered similar to humans, allowing pharmaceutical companies to minimise undesirable side effects and increase safety of prescription medication.
The negative implications of animal testing are widely publicised. Animals frequently killed or kept in captivity suffering injuries incurred by medical tests.
Some substances tested are never actually used and the process is extremely expensive.
Is the death penalty an effective means of retribution?
Victims often feel that a long stint in prison is grossly disproportionate to the heinousness of the crime committed. The death penalty provides a sense of justice for many who’ve suffered at the hands of certain offenders.
However, studies about the death penalty have reached contrasting conclusions about its effectiveness as a deterrent. Also, contrary to popular belief, the cost of executing an offender is far greater than a life sentence in prison.
Do violent video games increase the risk of violent behaviour?
There is wide consensus among researchers that violent video games increase aggression, bullying and fighting. For this reason, many argue that in order to curb juvenile crime rates, the use of violent video games should be controlled.
Conversely, studies depicting links between such video games and violent behaviour often fail to consider other factors such as mental health or volatile family environments.
What motivates you in the workplace, money or passion?
Money provides security and increases self-esteem; many work in order to be paid and aspire to receive promotions to improve lifestyle. Some people are happy to work 9-5 in less challenging jobs if the financial rewards are greater.
For others, the chance of promotion is unimportant because passion for their role outweighs financial desires. Working and achieving results is enough to motivate some to get up and go in to work each day.
Should we fear advances in artificial intelligence (AI)?
With computer programs capable of beating world champion gamers and developing the ability to understand natural language, AI has taken major strides in recent years.
Many celebrate these advances which have led to fraud detection, driverless transport and speech recognition for multiple applications. The argument is that this progress is an opportunity for humanity, allowing individuals more leisure time.
However, critics worry that AI will see a decrease in job opportunities and even develop interests of its own. Some go as far to speculate that AI threatens the place of humans in the world more broadly.
With these concerns in mind, experts are calling for a regulatory body to be established in order to prevent or control the misuse of AI.