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Great American Think-Off finalists announced

The Cultural Center in New York Mills announced the four finalists from the essay contest portion of the 25th annual Great American Think-Off. These four individuals each win $500 and a trip to New York Mills in June for the debate.

In their essays, the finalists have presented an argument supporting their response to the question, "Has the 2016 election changed our perception of truth?" Two finalists assert that it has changed how the American public sees truth, and two finalists proffer that it has not. The debate among the four armchair philosophers will take place on Saturday, June 10, in the midst of a celebratory anniversary weekend in New York Mills.

The four finalists are (in alphabetical order): Nancy Krier of Olympia, Wash.; Pamela Lewis of Queens, N.Y.; Kris Pauna of Prior Lake; and David Shapiro of Seattle, Wash.Krier and Shapiro argued "no" while Pauna and Lewis answered "yes."

These finalists were chosen by a committee of volunteers who read the essays (with all personal information redacted), rank them, get together to discuss and choose the winning essays. Only after making the selections are the writers' personal information revealed. Upon receipt of the finalist bios, the committee was surprised to learn that two of the four finalists are local high school graduates (New York Mills and Wadena), as both are now living in larger cities in different regions of the United States.

Tickets to see these four debate in the 25th annual Think-Off in June are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and $5 for students. All audience members will have the opportunity to vote in the contest to decide who presents the better argument and earns the title of America's Greatest Thinker for 2017.

For more information please call the Cultural Center at (218) 385-3339 or visit the Think-Off online at To purchase tickets online, visit