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Muirhead competing in Think-Off Saturday

NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. -- This year's Great American Think-Off marks the 20th year of the celebration of philosophy by debating the same question as the inaugural Think-Off two decades ago: "The nature of humankind: inherently good or evil?"

The Think-Off will be held at the New York Mills high school auditorium at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 9.

Representatives on the side of humankind being good, Marie Anderson of LaGrange, Ill., and Marsh Muirhead of Bemidji, Minn., will go head-to-head to start the evening.

Muirhead will be making a rather unique appearance as the reigning Greatest American Thinker after winning last year's event.

Muirhead posits, "The greater portion of humanity strives towards the good in its institutions, laws, religions, and art, though no heart or mind remains blameless in its lapses."

In a round where like-minded debaters try to outduel each other on the same point, Anderson will counter with, "Shame, grace, and empathy are the three forces that infuse goodness into humanity."

Edward DeLong, of Virginia Beach, Va., and Adam Bright, of Boulder, Colo., will debate the evil side of the question.

DeLong believes that without the teaching of morals and ethics, the nature of humankind is evil.

His counterpart, Bright, takes his own responsibility to task in his essay, stating acts of goodness are not enough to determine an answer. The debate, for Bright, centers on a look to the ultimate ethical dilemma: how individuals respond to the existence of global injustice and suffering.

The audience will vote for the winners of each round of debates, along with providing questions for the final round.

This year's moderator will be George Blitz.

A reception for the four debaters and audience members will follow the Think-Off at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.