Debate time

DEBATE TIME: Tonya Abari and Anthony Berryhill discuss the question “Which plays a larger role in shaping one’s life: success or failure?” with moderator Ashley Hanson in the 2018 Great American Think-Off.

It’s time to put on the thinking caps and dust off the philosophy books. The 2022 Great American Think-Off has officially begun.

The Great American Think-Off is hosted every year by the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and has been an annual tradition for almost three decades. It’s a philosophical essay and debate competition that draws the thoughts and musings of people from all across the country.

The think-off was created to give everyday people the opportunity to engage in civil disagreements about various “powerful ideas” that affect society. It is meant to make philosophy approachable, and a tool for all people.

The annual event has received national recognition and has been featured on C-SPAN, the New York Times and The Today Show. Additionally, the competition has received thousands of essay entries, including entries from all 50 states and some international entries as well.

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is pleased to announce that the question for the 29th annual think-off has officially been selected. Chosen by popular vote, the question for 2022 will be: Which should be more important, personal choice or social responsibility?

“When you make an important decision, what do you consider in your assessment of pros and cons? Certainly, you think about how that choice will affect you personally … how about its impact on society?” asked the cultural center in a recent press release announcing the prompt. “Which is more important to you: your personal gain/loss, or a sense of responsibility to the whole?”

This theme will guide respondents’ answers in this year’s essay prompt. The cultural center recommends that respondents base their essays on personal experiences and observations rather than on philosophical ruminations or abstractions.

Anyone is welcome to respond to the question in the form of a written essay, no more than 750 words. And there is plenty of time to form ideas and firm arguments, as the deadline is not until Apr. 1, 2022.

The strongest essays will be selected and these writers and thinkers will have the opportunity to share their thoughts during the live debate that culminates the Great American Think-off on June 11, 2022. Four winners will receive a $500 cash prize. The ultimate debate winner will be selected by the audience.

Topics that were covered in previous think-offs include ‘Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?’, ‘Does technology free us or trap us?’ and ‘Income inequality threatens democracy: agree or disagree?’

For more information about The Great American Think-Off and for contest details visit or call the cultural center at 218-385-3339.

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