Choose the link to each finalist to open a copy of her or his essay.
This year’s question has been resolved. Paul Terry, the CEO of StayWell Health Management, a national wellness company based in Eagan, Minnesota, won the debate and a gold medal with his argument that it is more ethical to compromise than to stick to one’s principles.
Mr. Terry will hold the title of “America’s Greatest Thinker” until June 2014 when four new debaters will contest a new question. Explaining why he believes compromise is the best way, Terry argued that “it’s not just about doing good or not doing wrong. Advancing the good of the community is important.” Terry quoted Thomas Aquinas that true love “is not love of but love for.”
Winning a silver medal as the runner up, Caroline Sposto from Memphis, Tennessee gave a spirited defense for the ethical necessity of sticking to principle. Caroline, a fiction writer, proposed, “Compromise should be the last resort, not the first.”
Bronze medals were awarded to David Eckel, an IT consultant from Clayton, North Carolina (on the side of principle) and David Lapakko, a professor of Communication Studies at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota (proposing compromise). David Eckel (who was the gold medal winner in 2010) wrote “the ethical option is not willing compromise of principle . . . it is instead . . . to engage in the hard work of questioning one’s principles and the equally hard work . . . of sticking to them.” Professor Lapakko argued that compromise “shows a healthy respect for others and a healthy degree of humility as well.”
John Forde, host of the Public television show “Mental Engineering,” moderated the 2013 Think-Off debate. The audience at the debate chose the winner after listening to the finalists’ answers to questions prepared by the Cultural Center and by the audience on June 8th.
The Great American Think-Off is a project of the non-profit Regional Cultural Center in New York Mills, Minnesota. Finalists each receive an honorarium of $500 plus transportation and expenses to attend the annual debate held in New York Mills. The 2014 Think-Off question will be published on the Center’s website on January 1, 2014. Anyone may enter by submitting an essay of up to 750 words before April 1st. There is no cost to submit an essay. The McKnight Foundation and many local businesses and individuals provide financial support for the Think-Off.
If you can’t make it to New York Mills to hear this year’s Think-Off, you can still listen on Lakes Radio. Tune to KBRF 1250AM to hear the entire debate, or, you can listen via live streaming at http://www.lakesradio.net/KBRF-AM-1250/10244692 .
You may purchase tickets to the 2013 Great American Think-Off by clicking on the Brown Paper Ticket widget below. You will be connected to the Brown Paper Ticket website for secure online ticket purchase. There is an option to purchase tickets at the advance ticket sale price ($12) and also to purchase tickets to both the Think-Off on the 8th of June and to the pre-Think-Off concert with Larry Long on the 7th of June. Go to the Larry Long Concert link here to learn about this concert. If you purchase tickets to both the Larry Long concert on June 7th and the Great American Think-Off you receive both tickets for $20, a savings of $4 for the two tickets.
You can also purchase Philosopher tickets to the Think-Off. The price of a philosopher ticket is $50 and helps us cover the costs of producing the annual Great American Think-Off. Philosopher tickets provide seating in the first three rows at the James Mann Center for the Performing Arts for an up-close and personal admission. The Philosopher ticket also gives the bearer admission to the Larry Long concert on the Friday before the Think-Off (June 7).