Weather Forecast


The Great American Think-Off releases the 2010 essay and debate question "Do the wealthy have an obligation to help the poor?"

America's premier amateur philosophy contest, The Great American Think-Off, releases its 2010 essay and debate question: "Do the wealthy have an obligation to help the poor?" In writing essays on this question, potential debaters may address individuals, groups, or nations as the essayist determines. The Great Debate will be held in New York Mills, Minnesota on Saturday, June 12th, 2010 before a live audience.

Entering the competition is easy. Just submit an essay of 750 words or less by April 1, 2010 (postmark date). You may send your essay in one of three ways: through the mail to Great American Think-Off, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, P.O. Box 246, New York Mills, MN 56567 or email to (no attachments) or submit on-line at There is no submission fee--submissions are accepted at no charge to writers.

The key to writing a successful essay is to ground your argument in personal experience. The judges are looking for essays that address this central problem of moral philosophy by speaking about personal experience rather than abstract philosophical reasoning. Tell a good story that shows a firm standing on one side or the other of this philosophical question.

A panel of judges will select four finalists to come to New York Mills, Minnesota, for the final debate to be held June 12, 2010. The names of the four finalists, who each receive $500 plus travel, food and lodging expenses, will be announced May 1, 2010. The winner is decided by the audience attending the debate on June 12th and she or he will be named "America's Greatest Thinker for 2010".

Celebrating its 18th year, the Great American Think-Off is a national philosophy competition providing an opportunity for ordinary people to voice their opinions on some of life's more perplexing questions. Last year's question, "Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?" was debated successfully by John Pollock, a civil rights attorney from Montgomery, Alabama. John won the gold medal by arguing that it is sometimes wrong to do the right thing in the 2009 Great American Think-Off debate. Other questions debated in this annual event have included "Which Should You Trust More, Your Head or Your Heart?" (2007) , "Which is More Valuable to Society: Safety or Freedom?" (2005), "Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?" (2002), "Is Democracy Fair?" (2000), "Is the Death Penalty Ethical in a Civilized Society?" (1997), and "Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?" (1998).