Joy Casino Ап Икс Should We Erase Bad Memories? - Open to Debate
August 18, 2023
August 18, 2023

In the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kate Winslet’s character undergoes a procedure to erase her bad memories of her ex-boyfriend. But what if we could do the same in real life? Neurotechnology techniques, such as decoded neurofeedback, open the possibilities of influencing the brain’s neural activity to modify or erase memories that aren’t pleasant or beneficial to our well-being. Those who argue in favor say it could help offer a path to psychological well-being and emotional healing from traumatic and painful memories that lead to anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Those forgotten painful, unwanted memories would give rise to a mentally healthier and happier life. Those who argue against it cite ethical and biological issues, since it interferes with the body’s natural process, and say that tampering with memories could be dangerous to our sense of self and undermine the authenticity of our lived experiences, especially since it is often the bad memories or experiences that shape iconic leaders to drive social change, artists to create, and inspire the underdog to be the MVP.

With this background, we take on the question: Should We Erase Bad Memories?

This debate was recorded live at the Aspen Ideas Festival at The Hotel Jerome’s ballroom on June 27, 2023.

  • 00:00:02

    John Donvan

    Hi, everybody, and welcome to Open to Debate. I’m John Donvan. We are at the Aspen Ideas Festival for this episode, and we are taking on a question of memory. Now, there’s a technology coming into focus right now that once belonged only to science fiction. It’s the ability to use neurofeedback to alter or erase memory on purpose, basically, to hack your brain. You have a memory, you want it gone. Now, it’s gone.

  • 00:00:28

    So what is the case for something like that? Well, one would be when a painful memory keeps interfering with your life, for example, PTSD. But critics raise all kinds of concerns about unwanted side effects, including losing a sense of who you are if your past and what you know of your past can be so easily edited and rearranged. So science and some philosophy in this one, as we debate this question, should we erase bad memories? Let’s meet the debater who’s answering yes, the author of The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology, Duke University professor, director of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, Nita Farahany. Thanks so much.

  • 00:01:08

    Nita Farahany

    Yeah.

  • 00:01:10

    John Donvan

    And arguing no, that we should not erase bad memory, senior reporter for Vox’s Future Perfect and co-host of the Future Perfect podcast, Sigal Samuel. Thank you. I, I understand that the two of you have… You’re, you’re well acquainted. I read an interview that, uh, that you did with Nita. So… And, and it seemed to me that it was quite civil and friendly, so I think, (laughing) I think that that’s-

  • 00:01:35

    Nita Farahany

    I hope so. I hope so. I found the, the conversation to actually be incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking, so I’m delighted to meet up again in this context.

  • 00:01:41

    Sigal Samuel

    Me too, I’m still thinking about that conversation.

  • 00:01:43

    John Donvan

    All right. Well, now, we’re gonna have another one, and we’ll see how that goes.

  • 00:01:45

    Nita Farahany

    (laughs)

  • 00:01:45

    John Donvan

    So we’re gonna move on to our first round, uh, opening statements. Each of the debater has five minutes to make the case for yes or no. Uh, Nita, you are up first. The floor is yours. You are answering yes, once again, to the question, “Should we erase bad memories?”

  • 00:02:00

    Nita Farahany

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here with all of you to argue the question and the affirmative of should we erase bad memories? Um, I wanna offer a subtle reframing as a way forward for the conversation. Instead of should we erase bad memories, I think the question is, should you have the right to erase bad memories if you choose to do so? In other words, do we have the right to choose whether and if so, we want to endure bad memories, or how we mi- wish to move through those experiences in life?

  • 00:02:34

    Um, are we in the driver’s seat of our own mental anguish, or are we subject to the whims of fate, destined to suffer whatever befalls us without actually having a choice in the matter? I believe that we should be in the driver’s seat of making choices about our own brains and mental experiences. Um, as an advocate for what I call a right to cognitive liberty, which we’ll be talking about in the debate today, I argue that we should have a right to be able to modulate, to change our own thoughts, memories, emotions. And to arger- and to argue otherwise undermines our human dignity, human agency, and the right to set the course for our own lives.

  • 00:03:14

    In our debate today, I will talk about some of the tools and techniques, including decoded neurofeedback, that our advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology enable us to be able to change our memories and to change our memories in ways that can improve our lives and our well-being, can enable human flourishing by setting the course and setting the path for our own lives.

  • 00:03:37

    I’m not here to argue that you should erase your memories. I’m not here to argue that you should erase all of your memories. Rather, I’m here to argue that you are in the best position to make that choice, that you are the one who gets to decide on what terms and under what circumstances you endure your own suffering. For me, that has included overriding bad memories when there were more suffering than I could endure, more suffering than I would choose to endure, and more suffering than any person has a right to tell me that I must endure. I want that choice for me. And I want that choice for you as well.

  • 00:04:20

    My esteemed opponent today may argue that erasing bad memories is unethical, or that it’s dangerous, or that it in- interferes with the natural process of life and transcendence, or that it undermines the authenticity of our lived experiences and deprives us of the valuable lessons and motivations that come from adversity. I believe that these arguments are based on false assumptions, that they’re based on outdated views and paternalistic judgments about how we should live our own lives.

  • 00:04:56

    They also assume that memory is fixed and accurate, that it’s an accurate recording of the past and what we’ve experienced when, in fact, it’s dynamic. It’s a reconstructive process that’s constantly influenced by our present emotions, our present experiences. They assume that our natural state of being is preferable to an enhanced state when, in fact, nature is often cruel, unfair, and utterly arbitrary in the types of experiences that we endure, and that we’ve always sought to find ways to transcend the limitations that we experience through science, through technology, through other opportunities.

  • 00:05:34

    More troubling, I think, these arguments are based on the idea that other people know better than we do whether or not we can make choices to erase our own memories, that it assumes that there is some set of regulations and decisions that can be imposed on how you choose to experience your own mental well-being. Erasing bad memories isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a personal choice that should be made with informed consent, with guidance from other people and ethical safeguards. It’s a choice that should be respected and supported rather than condemned or prohibited.

  • 00:06:11

    Erasing bad memories can offer a pathway to psychological well-being and emotional healing for people like me, who’ve suffered a great loss in life and who’ve sought to find ways to move forward by cultivating and co-creating what my experience and my endurance would be. Erasing bad memories can also offer a path of personal growth and development for people who wanna overcome their fears, for their insecurities, who want to be able to cultivate their identity.

  • 00:06:41

    It’s not the same as erasing our past. It means creating ourselves. It means taking charge of our minds, our lives, and our future. It means exercising our cognitive liberty, our right to self-determination over our brains and mental experiences. Thank you.

  • 00:06:59

    John Donvan

    Thank you very much. Um, Sigal, your answer to the question is no. You’re saying, “We should not erase bad memories,” and the floor is yours for your five minutes.

  • 00:07:09

    Sigal Samuel

    Thank you. So thank you all for being here. Um, I’m here to argue that, no, we should not erase bad memories. And I just wanna make clear from the start, I’m arguing that, by and large, we should not erase bad memories. I could envision there might be some exceptions to that. But, generally, I do not think that this is something that we should routinely pursue. And I’m gonna make three arguments for this. They’re actually somewhat different than what Nita was, um, suggesting they would be.

  • 00:07:37

    Um, the first one is that, yes, suffering plays an important role in human life, both for us as individuals and for society. Uh, if you ever… You know, if you think back to an experience of deep suffering you’ve had or a difficult experience, you might remember how that, uh, perhaps has built more compassion in you, um, for others and for their suffering. Suffering also builds confidence in our own resilience.

  • 00:08:03

    You know, if you go through a really painful breakup or a divorce or a loss, uh, and it’s really, really difficult, it sucks. Okay? It’s just horrible. But then, the next time life throws you something like that, you have a little bit more confidence in your ability to get through it. You say to yourself, “I made it through last time. I can probably make it through this as well.” And I think a lot of us have heard the term PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. I think fewer people have heard of its flip side, which is post-traumatic growth.

  • 00:08:36

    Um, and there’s a lot of science about this, about what a powerful phenomenon this is and some incredible exemplars of this, which I hope to get to. Um, but the basic idea is that sometimes people can emerge on the other side of a traumatic experience stronger with new capacities, whether it’s for compassion or, uh, something else, new insights. And they’re in some way… They feel like they’re in some way better than they were before the traumatic event. So I worry that with this kind of technology, we may be cheating ourselves out of an opportunity for post-traumatic growth.

  • 00:09:13

    And on a societal level, if we erase individual suffering or bad memories, what happens to the struggle to address the root cause of the suffering, which is often societal or systemic? Oftentimes, the most ardent activists are those who’ve experienced something tragic. They’ve personally experienced it. Just think about school shootings, for example, on how many of the most vocal, uh, you know, advocates, uh, for gun control are people who’ve been touched by it personally, whether they’re parents or classmates.

  • 00:09:45

    The second argument I wanna make today is that this technology has a huge potential, not only for abuse, but for unintended consequences. In fact, I don’t think that it’s possible to have truly informed consent for this procedure. If you were to bring into this room right now all of the most brilliant neuroscientists in the world, I still doubt whether they would be able to tell you, whether they would be able to understand what all the potential ramifications of erasing your bad memories would be.

  • 00:10:18

    We often think of memories as something that has to do with the past, past experiences. But memories are really constitutive of our present. When I think about myself as a self today, I’m largely just thinking about, “You know, well, that is a function of who was I yesterday, 10 years ago, in childhood, all my experiences.” If you erase some of that memory, I worry that you might interfere with a sense of personal identity or, you know, our sense of psychological continuity over time.

  • 00:10:51

    And, finally, my third argument is that this kind of erasure can lead to the loss of core human capacities or values, like the capacity for unconditional love or solidarity. If we kind of lean into this push, which is very common nowadays in the age of the techno-fix, to make humans perfectable, to sort of achieve mastery or dominion over our nature and our experiences and kind of tailor our experiences a la carte, what happens to people who actually don’t want to erase their painful memories? They’re coming to you for some other kind of social support or patients, or help with their mental health.

  • 00:11:31

    And now society says to them, “No, don’t bother me with your complaints and your needs. There is a clinic down the road that can take care of that for you. Just go avail yourself of the techno-fix and stop bothering me.” I worry there could be an implicit coercion that, uh, starts befalling people, which is all of us really, who eventually have very painful memories, um, when the world becomes less and less patient with our human foibles and the difficulties in our experience. So looking forward to discussing all of this with you. Thank you.

  • 00:12:06

    John Donvan

    Thank you very much. We’re gonna take a break right now. We are debating the question, should we erase bad memories? When we come back, we will continue this debate. I’m John Donvan. This is Open to Debate. We’ll be right back.

  • 00:12:30

    Welcome back to Open to Debate. I’m John Donvan. We’re debating the question, should we erase bad memories? We’ve heard the opening statements from Nita Farahany and Sigal Samuel. And now, we’re gonna get right into the discussion.

  • 00:12:43

    So we now move into a discussion session, and I wanna just share where I see the dividing lines on the argument being. So, uh, Nita started out by saying that she sees an important aspect of this being the question of whether you should have the right to avoid suffering, wha- t- to accept suffering should not necessarily have to be a choice that an individual should have to make if there’s an option not to, that this, uh, technology, by removing the pain of bad memories, can lead to emotional healing, can be a path to conquering fears, and, um, that to not erase means to just accept a pain that doesn’t necessarily have to be there.

  • 00:13:16

    Um, on the other side, we’re hearing, uh, Sigal arguing that just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. She talked about if we erase bad memories, we could lose sight of the cause of the pain and that knowing the cause of the pain in itself can be important. She said that, uh, suffering itself is an important part of life, that out of it comes growth and discovery, and wisdom. Uh, she also worries about some policy issues. Can we really have informed consent? And what happens if the power dynamic shifts somehow and other people are making the decisions, even if it’s through social pressure about who should or should not erase their memories?

  • 00:13:48

    So we’re gonna talk about all of that, but I wanted to just spend, we don’t often do this, but just two or three minutes talking about what this technology is. Would that be helpful to everybody? You’ve- So-

  • 00:13:58

    Sigal Samuel

    Yeah. (laughs)

  • 00:13:58

    John Donvan

    All right.

  • 00:13:58

    Nita Farahany

    Yeah.

  • 00:13:59

    John Donvan

    So that we have a picture of it. So I, I think the technology we wanna talk about is called decoded neurofeedback. Would you like to-

  • 00:14:05

    Nita Farahany

    [inaudible

  • 00:14:06

    ].

  • 00:14:05

    John Donvan

    … take that first?

  • 00:14:06

    Nita Farahany

    Sure. Yeah.

  • 00:14:06

    John Donvan

    Yeah.

  • 00:14:06

    Nita Farahany

    [inaudible

  • 00:14:07

    ] take it.

  • 00:14:06

    John Donvan

    And you can join in as well, please.

  • 00:14:08

    Nita Farahany

    Um, so first, I will say that there are other technologies-

  • 00:14:10

    John Donvan

    Yes.

  • 00:14:11

    Nita Farahany

    … on the table, and I wanna put the kind of spectrum that are on the table. So decoded neurofeedback is a way of being able to trace specific neural activation patterns when you have a particularly painful memory. So you could, uh, imagine a person being in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, or it could be through implanted electrodes or other types of technology that would say, like, “Remember the most painful memory that you have,” and then trace the specific neural pathways that are firing when that painful experience is something that you’re recalling.

  • 00:14:43

    Then, um, through a series of basically games, you implicitly reactivate those same neural pathways but retrain those pathways on positive associations instead of negative associations. In general, it’s not erasing the semantic content, meaning the literal facts of what happened. It’s disassociating and disaggregating the fear, the emotional content from the memory itself. Memory has different components. There are emotional aspects to the memory. There are the literal, like, what happened to the memory. And decoded neurofeedback largely is helping you to disassociate the fear, uh, that’s associated with it or to literally overwrite when that pathway fires and is reactivated involuntarily. Like in PTSD, it now is associated with something positive that you were playing instead.

  • 00:15:34

    There are drugs like propanolol, which have been trialed for a long time to try to reconsolidate memories. Every time you remember something and it gets reconsolidated into long-term memory, it changes a little bit, and you can change your association of the contents through drugs that disaggregate it. Um, there are other techniques that people have talked about. There’s nothing quite like the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind of literally mapping every, uh, memory and then erasing it in its entirety so that you wake up one day and don’t remember a person.

  • 00:16:04

    John Donvan

    Not yet.

  • 00:16:04

    Sigal Samuel

    (laughs)

  • 00:16:05

    Nita Farahany

    Not yet. And I, I-

  • 00:16:05

    John Donvan

    Not ever, not ever?

  • 00:16:07

    Nita Farahany

    Um, I, I, think, I think not ever quite in the way that the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind ende- envisioned it.

  • 00:16:13

    John Donvan

    Yeah.

  • 00:16:14

    Nita Farahany

    But it does literally activate and then make it unstable, change it, and overwrite aspects of it. So it changes it, and then it becomes less stable and degrades over time, like many memories do, rather than having the strengths that enables its recall. That’s the way in which it actually gets erased over time, is that it- memories degrade over time.

  • 00:16:34

    John Donvan

    And, and Sigal, e- where- most of us now are familiar with the term biofeedback.

  • 00:16:38

    Sigal Samuel

    Mm-hmm.

  • 00:16:39

    John Donvan

    You s- you look at your pulse pounding along, and you know that you can relax and see your heart slow down, that there’s a feedback loop going on there, you’re getting this information, and you’re doing something about it. But would you add something more to this description of, of neuro-biofeedback that is… that helps make a graphic picture of it?

  • 00:16:55

    Sigal Samuel

    No. I think Nita gave a great description. I think it’s just maybe worth noting that there’s been a lot of study about related technologies, and it often uses the brain’s, uh, sort of like natural inclination. So it- you, you might be wondering like how you can train the brain to go for a more positive association or something. Sometimes, it might be that you receive a, a reward when, i- in your thoughts, you perform a, a certain action.

  • 00:17:20

    So, for example, if you see a, a video of someone, you know, shooting hoops, right, and the basketball is like gonna go into the hoop, you naturally wanna see it sink into the hoop, right, if it’s like mid-air. And so there’s ways that, with this technology, they can kind of like reward your brain for performing in the more positive association way that we want it to. So, hopefully, that’s like enough to paint somewhat of a picture.

  • 00:17:43

    John Donvan

    Okay.

  • 00:17:43

    Nita Farahany

    Let, let me add one quick thing-

  • 00:17:44

    John Donvan

    Sure.

  • 00:17:45

    Nita Farahany

    … [inaudible

  • 00:17:45

    ] ’cause you said neurofeedback and biofeedback. This is by contrast to exposure therapy, which is that the way that a person degrades or overcomes a memory is by recalling it in vivid detail over and over again until they, in some ways, um, become more comfortable with the memory itself. So instead of reactivating the literal memory through exposure therapy, which can also be s- paired with neurofeedback, but that’s explicit rather than implicit memory o- activation. Decoded neurofeedback means you don’t constantly relive the same memory in order to degrade and essentially erase it.

  • 00:18:19

    John Donvan

    Let’s debate.

  • 00:18:20

    Sigal Samuel

    (laughs)

  • 00:18:20

    Nita Farahany

    Let’s do it.

  • 00:18:21

    John Donvan

    Thank you for that. I hope that was very helpful for everybody. So, Nita, I think all of the objections from Sigal are essentially philosophical and also c- with concerns about implications for policy. But you made the philosophical argument that if we alter some part of our memory, to the point of erasing it, that we might be losing some part of ourselves, and memories are just built into our senses of ourselves, and a sort of implication that, you know, we live in a world now and we don’t know, can we trust any piece of information that we see on the internet? Can we trust any image? If we’re living in a world where we now know that perhaps what’s in our brain is not what used to be there because it got changed, could that be undermining to the sense of self in the way that Sigal is talking about it?

  • 00:19:08

    Nita Farahany

    So I think Sigal’s argument boils down to the idea that there’s something core to memory as it happened to us and having to, um, relive or experience or integrate it into our sense of self that’s critical to human flourishing and human identity. And I wanna offer a different perspective on that, which is the process itself of creation of identity, whether that’s choice about how you want to endure memory or how or whether you want to integrate it into your sense of self and sense of well-being. The idea that memory is something that happens to you and that there is a single way to process it and to endure it, I think, is contrary to what the very core identity of, of agency is.

  • 00:19:51

    John Donvan

    Sigal.

  • 00:19:51

    Sigal Samuel

    Yeah. I think there are potentially multiple different ways to process, reprocess, engage with our memories. And I don’t believe that there is some magical, you know, story or narrative about what has happened to us. I think that the mind abhors a vacuum of story, of narrative. You know, when we erase something or modify it, I, I could imagine for myself, if I were to do this, I, I will obsessively fixate. I could have very easily imagined myself then obsessing about that gap in my memory. And I know it’s not literally erasing the semantic content necessarily, but still, I think I would find myself wondering, “What would I be feeling now-

  • 00:20:28

    John Donvan

    So yeah.

  • 00:20:29

    Sigal Samuel

    … if I hadn’t erased?

  • 00:20:29

    John Donvan

    We, we, we know people who have been, for example, in an accident with a head injury and they can’t remember what happened.

  • 00:20:35

    Nita Farahany

    Mm-hmm.

  • 00:20:35

    John Donvan

    And that gap bothers them, and they seem to struggle to wanna get it back, which suggests to me that what Sigal is saying, that, that, that having, uh, the sense of a hole in your memory can be troubling.

  • 00:20:47

    Nita Farahany

    Yeah. I think if there was literally a discontinuity of self, right, if we’re talking about wiping my memory clean, all of my memory is clean, so that there’s literally like Nita, and then there’s Nita Prime, and Nita Prime has no memory of Nita and anything that came before it, there is a true discontinuity of self.

  • 00:21:04

    Choosing to erase specific memories that are particularly traumatic and ones that are causing enduring suffering that are difficult for you to move past, that, to me, is a process of creation of identity, of integrating the pieces of your life that you wish to have be part of your core identity and the parts of your life that don’t. If the technology gets out of control and, suddenly, it’s literally people getting lobotomized, uh, yeah, I’d be concerned as well.

  • 00:21:31

    John Donvan

    Another, another issue that, uh, Sigal, and I don’t mean to be bringing… I’m gonna bring some of your points too, Sigal-

  • 00:21:36

    Nita Farahany

    Oh, it’s fine. It’s fine.

  • 00:21:36

    John Donvan

    … if that… Okay.

  • 00:21:36

    Sigal Samuel

    (laughs)

  • 00:21:36

    Nita Farahany

    You bring Sigal’s points.

  • 00:21:38

    John Donvan

    Suffering serves a constructive purpose, she was arguing. And, and you’ve made the point that it’s not necessarily getting rid of the fact of knowing that something happened but the, the associations around it that cause pain, which means getting rid of the suffering aspect of it. And so, you’re also saying that suffering is a motivator. Suffering is a teacher. Uh, suffering should be part of life, and let’s not mess with that.

  • 00:21:57

    Nita Farahany

    Yeah. So I mean, I think terrible things happen to people every day, and it’s, uh, a matter of fate as to which terrible thing happens to you. Um, and the idea that you should have to endure whatever life throws at you, and that the only way that you’re living an authentic life is by choosing to take whatever fate has thrown at you and incorporating that into your identity, as opposed to finding ways to move through it that are healthier for you, um, I think that’s a normative judgment about how people cope.

  • 00:22:28

    John Donvan

    Yeah.

  • 00:22:29

    Nita Farahany

    And a perfectly reasonable way to cope, from my perspective, is to erase and modify a memory.

  • 00:22:34

    John Donvan

    We do get Novocain at the dentist.

  • 00:22:37

    Sigal Samuel

    (laughs) So, yeah. So I think there’s a… like there’s a really important point to make here, and I’m glad we’re getting to it. On the one hand, we have this view of religions and philosophies f- for all of human history, basically. I’ve talked about how suffering can be ennobling. There can be this benefit that we reap from suffering. It can lead to growth.

  • 00:22:55

    The Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, had this phrase that I like, “No mud, no lotus,” meaning, if you don’t have the mud of human experience, the suffering, the pain, you’re also not gonna grow to beautiful lotus or the, you know, the meaning or whatever.

  • 00:23:10

    But he also, one time, when someone approached him and asked, “Okay. But how much suffering should we endure,” he said, “Well, not too much,” right? And I love that line because I think this, this is a wise balancing of simultaneously recognizing the value that can be derived from suffering, but also, we don’t wanna have the hubris of coming to any one individual and saying, “I know better than you. I somehow know all of your life circumstances and your temperament and your psychological conditions at this moment.” And, and I can tell for sure that if you were to just tough it out through this suffering, you’re gonna have post-traumatic growth, and it’s gonna be better on the other side. But like w- we don’t want to have that hubris with regards to any one individual.

  • 00:23:55

    And so that’s why I said at the top, I can envision that there would be exceptions to this, right, where it could be that there are some really severe situations where maybe, maybe, someone needs to undergo this, this process of, of erasure. But I think that there is so much, um, weighing against it. I wouldn’t want that to be routine-

  • 00:24:15

    John Donvan

    But I, I, I-

  • 00:24:15

    Sigal Samuel

    … in any way.

  • 00:24:16

    John Donvan
    … I think that that sounds like the case that Nita is making, not that it should be everybody, but that in certain situations. Am I-

  • 00:24:22

    Nita Farahany

    Well, I- that’s right. And I also think that there’s a judgment that Sigal is making about, you know, that there are only certain circumstances in which it’s permissible and that you should feel badly about making choices that, um, e- ease your suffering or make choices about self-determination over your own experiences in life. And I don’t think that those kinds of normative judgments about how we choose to live our own lives, how much suffering is enough, uh, who, who decides how much suffering or which instances of suffering, like, only if you have, you know, had a significant loss in your life are you allowed to erase your memory that every other instance will be judged. No. I think, actually, we should be celebrating cognitive freedom. We should be celebrating people having the ability to make choices and to direct their own mental experiences.

  • 00:25:10

    Sigal Samuel

    I agree that we don’t wanna come with an attitude of judgment. Um, we don’t wanna be like moralizing about this and, and judging people who opt to, to use this technology. If someone said to me, “Sigal, I just feel like this is the right thing for me, I need to do this,” I would approach them with 100% compassion and 0% judgment. At least, I hope that would be my attitude.

  • 00:25:33

    That being said, as much as, you know, it’s very common and popular in our sort of liberal world to talk about, and rightly so, you know, the value of autonomy and individual decision-making and self-determination and you know best for yourself what’s right, yes, but also, hmm, sometimes, you don’t have the bird’s-eye view. Sometimes, there’s wisdom of long traditions that have come before you or other people that can see something you, you are not seeing.

  • 00:26:01

    Um, and there, there might be value to waiting a little bit or trying a different approach, um, that, you know, in that moment of, of intense suffering, you, you might not be accessing, but that later on, i- it might turn out to be very valuable for you to, to like try for that.

  • 00:26:21

    Nita Farahany

    I’d like to take this one head on. This gets to Sigal’s second point about the inability for people to have truly informed consents. And I’ll, I’ll tell you that this is one that makes me upset in general in life. And the reason it makes me upset is because, um, it’s this mantra that’s really pervasive, that experts are in a better position to make choices and that they have the expertise and judgment that you can never individually have to me- be able to make truly autonomous choices.

  • 00:26:49

    But who can make a better choice about what’s in your own personal self-interest? Who’s better aligned with what your values are or what your degree of how much you can handle or how much you want to handle or what you want to integrate into your self-identity than you?

  • 00:27:04

    I think these literacy, uh, tests that people try to put into place as a gateway for people having access to information about themselves or making choices for themselves echo historic types of literacy tests about other people are in a better position to make judgments for what’s best for society than you individually. That, I, I find troubling.

  • 00:27:25

    Sigal Samuel

    Can I reply to that?

  • 00:27:26

    John Donvan

    You can definitely reply to that. Yeah.

  • 00:27:27

    Nita Farahany

    (laughs)

  • 00:27:27

    Sigal Samuel

    So, yes. Uh, I wanna clarify that when I said other people might have wisdom around this, that it might be worth listening to, I don’t particularly, you know, or exclusively mean medical experts. What I mean is that I think there’s, uh, ultimately here, like a difference in worldviews and a question of what kind of culture we wanna create, um, what kind of habits of mind we wanna inculcate.

  • 00:27:50

    So, ultimately, I think this, this conversation, a- at the core of it or underlying it, is this philosophical question. What is a human life for? Is the purpose of life to, to feel good, meaning, you know, have a good time, feel comfortable, feel happy, reduce suffering as much as you can, or is it to make something meaningful? I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here. I just think that these are different approaches, different worldviews, you could call them.

  • 00:28:17

    And I incline towards the, the view that it’s like, “Let’s make something meaningful.” And sometimes, suffering can actually be conducive to that, not always. Again, there are exceptions where it would be, as Thích Nhất Hạnh would say, “Too much, too much suffering. It’s gonna blow you over. You’re not gonna be able to get yourself out of that mud.”

  • 00:28:38

    And there, I don’t wanna come with the hubris and say, “Oh, I know better than you.” But I just think that we’re living in a culture that is so quick to run for the techno-fix that we are habitually shortchanging the other propensity. And I just want us to pause a little bit before we run straight to the clinic. I just want us to pause and consider all the other options.

  • 00:29:00

    Nita Farahany

    I’m troubled by setting a dichotomy between leading a happy life and leading a life of meaning. Um, I think that what is a life of meaning for me and for each of you is something that you are in the best position to choose, that cultivating your own introspection, your mental agility, your relational intelligence with other people, how much suffering you choose to take on, how you integrate that into your own identity, that you’re in the best position to make those choices.

  • 00:29:29

    And so the idea that there is a long tradition, you know, take, for example, I’ve had three children. I had epidurals for two of them. I wish that I had gotten the epidural in time for the third one. That was a kind of suffering that I did not want to endure, and that I would happily go back in a race if I could. But that’s progress we made in society. The epidural is something that I think eases suffering for people, and that by all means, enjoy it.

  • 00:29:56

    John Donvan

    Sigal, Nita talked about reframing the question as, “Do I have the right?” I’m never a big fan of reframing the question to-

  • 00:30:03

    Sigal Samuel

    (laughs)

  • 00:30:03

    John Donvan

    … to win, but I think, I think it’s a relevant part of the discussion. Should individuals just have that right to make that ka- any kind of choice of that nature themselves?

  • 00:30:11

    Sigal Samuel

    Yeah. So it’s a clever reframe. (laughs) Uh, it takes the debate in a different direction, right? I-

  • 00:30:15

    John Donvan

    Right. But, uh, but I wanna take it for one question’s worth of a reframe a- any further.

  • 00:30:18

    Sigal Samuel

    Uh, yeah. So, I, I think that my broad feeling here is in the cultural moment where we find ourselves, I think, that we are in a culture that pushes so much for mastery and dominion over our human condition, this like urge to control and have power over everything and to make it a la carte and to customize and optimize everything.

  • 00:30:40

    It actually seems to me to pose a problem for agency. If you end up w-, uh, really going for this, this approach that’s about having mastery over everything, if you have mastery over all aspects, are you free to struggle, to make a mistake? It seems like we’re almost trying to make the human being perfectable. And then, it’s not clear to me if you actually are, at that point, you know, free to just be merely human, not this perfect being. If you’re not free to make a mistake, e- then, I think you don’t really have agency to be making real choices.

  • 00:31:18

    John Donvan

    We’re gonna have to wrap this up right here and take a short break. We’re debating the question, should we erase bad memories? I’m John Donvan. This is Open to Debate. We’ll be right back.

  • 00:31:26

    Welcome back to Open to Debate. I’m John Donvan, here with Nita Farahany and Sigal Samuel, and we’re debating the question, should we erase bad memories?

  • 00:31:52

    Nita Farahany

    Every person will make a different choice. People already make different choices about how they wanna live their lives, what things they choose to remember, how they choose to endure, and how they choose to move through the worst kinds of suffering. I don’t think it’s seeking perfection.

  • 00:32:07

    What I think it is, is trying to live authentically acu- according to your own values, according to what you believe is something that will help you become who you are that is consistent with your own identity. So I, I don’t think of it as a techno-fix. I think about it as curation of self and curation of your own identity.

  • 00:32:27

    John Donvan

    Okay. I’d like to go to some audience questions now, and, um, I’m gonna start on the aisle here.

  • 00:32:32

    Audience

    So we’re saying, um, that this is a technology to help people, um, potentially deal with trauma that they’ve experienced. We already use things like heavy medications for that.

  • 00:32:45

    John Donvan

    So would, would you be saying your question is, what’s the difference between using a heavy medication and using this technology since we’re in- down that road anyway?

  • 00:32:51

    Audience

    Exactly.

  • 00:32:52

    Nita Farahany

    I think it’s how it works, um, and the precision of it. So, generally, medications come in different classes. Some of them, for example, are, um, like SSRIs, things that generally help you cope and move through a moment. Um, what they do overall, we don’t have a great sense exactly what they do, but what we do know is that they tend to blunt emotion more generally to enable people who are suffering either from depression or acute trauma to be able to move through it without the full force of the emotion.

  • 00:33:20

    The precision is the difference here, which is looking at a specific trauma or memory, and then rather than dampening your emotional response more generally, being able to retrain that brain activity on positive associations instead that enable you to potentially remember some aspects of it, but have that memory degrade over time.

  • 00:33:40

    John Donvan

    Would you like to take on that question?

  • 00:33:41

    Sigal Samuel

    Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s great.

  • 00:33:45

    John Donvan

    Uh, r- on the far side, uh, yes.

  • 00:33:45

    Audience

    At what point is it optimal to erase the memory? Like if it’s a week later or a year later, that person still has the opportunity to grow from the experience even five years later. So at what point would you say is optimal should the person decide to or not to erase the memory? And what would be your argument time-wise?

    34:08

    John Donvan

    That is a really well-phrased question and right to the point. Would you… Who would like to take that? Oh, it goes to you, I think.

  • 00:34:12

    Nita Farahany

    Do you wanna take that first, or I guess it’s to me. But-

  • 00:34:13

    John Donvan

    You- You’re not-

  • 00:34:13

    Sigal Samuel

    Go ahead, and then I’ll, I’ll-

  • 00:34:13

    John Donvan

    Oh, yeah. Okay.

  • 00:34:16

    Nita Farahany

    I mean, I, I think it’s a choice. Like for me, personally, when I’ve used different technologies and techniques to try to intervene on my own memories, it’s when I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t move through it otherwise, that I’ve tried other traditional approaches to doing so, and that I need help to be able to move through those memories in a more precise or, um, a more powerful way than I’ve otherwise been able to do so. I think that is up to the individual. How much suffering do they want to endure and how much can they endure?

  • 00:34:42

    Sigal Samuel

    Yeah. I think that makes good sense. I think that, um, you know, I brought up earlier the example of, you know, um, school shootings or also comes to mind for me, um, as a journalist, other stories I’ve reported on, like I was covering the, uh, sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, for example.

  • 00:34:58

    Now, uh, you never want to… You, you know, you, you talk to survivors and just it’s heartbreaking, and you never wanna go to any one individual and say, “You, you should just, like, uh, hang on to this memory and keep it as crystal clear and sharp in your mind as possible, because maybe in 10 years, you’re gonna bring a class-action lawsuit with 12 other survivors.” Right? You, you don’t want to… You know, I, I do agree with Nita that there is an element here of, like, you don’t wanna presume to say to any one individual, “I know all of your psychological circumstances better than you, better than anyone else, right?”

  • 00:35:35

    Uh, at the same time, right, there is this reality that, um, sometimes when people do feel that they are willing and able to hang on to certain memories, a benefit of that, societally, is that they are then able to maybe bring someone to justice, maybe prevent a certain priest from being able to abuse anybody else in the future. I also… Um, I think about, you know, other horrible traumas (laughs), uh, in history. I think about the Holocaust, right, and survivors I know personally who remembered that, that trauma of being in a concentration camp the rest of their lives.

  • 00:36:09

    There is a, a gift that they then give to society of being able to advocate (laughs) against any kind of genocide like this ever occurring in the future. Again, I don’t wanna come to any individual survivor and say, “I know better than you.”

  • 00:36:24

    John Donvan

    Okay.

  • 00:36:24

    Sigal Samuel

    “You are able to tolerate this.” But-

  • 00:36:26

    John Donvan

    I’m, I’m gonna, I’m gonna move on then to-

  • 00:36:28

    Sigal Samuel

    Yeah.

  • 00:36:29

    John Donvan

    … others in the third row. Uh, gent- if you could stand up.

  • 00:36:31

    Audience

    Can, uh, decoding neurofeedback be used to remove religiosity? I- By that, I mean, you know, some nonsensical ideas that has gone through your he- to your head since childhood.

  • 00:36:44

    John Donvan

    So-

  • 00:36:45

    Audience

    But you know intellectually they’re not meaningful, but you know, don’t eat this-

  • 00:36:49

    John Donvan

    So it’s sort of what else can decoded neurofeedback get at? I’m wondering if you’re asking is if there’s a concern about that. I-

  • 00:36:56

    Sigal Samuel

    What you’re talking about is more of a pattern of thinking. Um, and so it would be harder to trace every neural pathway that is activated as you have a particularly pa- like a particular pattern, um, that’s been inculcated in you over time. Uh, so it’d be harder to do, but, you know, specific memories are, are far easier at this stage, I think, using decoded neurofeedback. Is it impossible to imagine a future in which that could be possible? Maybe.

  • 00:37:22

    John Donvan

    Yes.

  • 00:37:23

    Audience

    How do we know when enough is enough, enough of these, uh-

  • 00:37:28

    John Donvan

    Of the treatment?

  • 00:37:28

    Audience

    Yeah, of this treatment, same as with, with medication.

  • 00:37:30

    John Donvan

    Okay.

  • 00:37:31

    Audience

    We still don’t know.

  • 00:37:33

    John Donvan

    What’s the dosage?

  • 00:37:33

    Audience

    [inaudible

  • 00:37:34

    ]

  • 00:37:33

    John Donvan

    What’s the dosage?

  • 00:37:34

    Audience

    Yeah.

  • 00:37:35

    Sigal Samuel

    Presumably, it would be until the person… the individual is satisfied that their, their levels of suffering are tolerable.

  • 00:37:41

    Nita Farahany

    Or they feel that they’ve forgotten or that it isn’t, a- e- you know, they’re not in echoes of PTSD, that they’re able to sleep at night, that they’re able to close their eyes and not be back in the moment.

  • 00:37:52

    John Donvan

    Thanks. Right in the front row here.

  • 00:37:53

    Audience

    Do we have a place in this conversation for normal processes of filtering and forgetting, such as meditation or, um, religious precepts that are always spinning it to the positive, such as forgiveness?

  • 00:38:08

    John Donvan

    So your question would be would those be better alternatives, I think? Would, would Sigal think that those are better alternatives?

  • 00:38:13

    Audience

    How do we include those processes in this dialogue?

  • 00:38:16

    Sigal Samuel

    Exactly how you phrased it in your last question is, is what I’m trying to get across. How can we make space to include just considering these other options fully, giving them a full chance in a marketplace of ideas and in a culture that right now privileges, I think, the alternative.

  • 00:38:31

    John Donvan

    Why do you think that? I mean, why, why do you think that this technology would crowd out the other options?

  • 00:38:36

    Sigal Samuel

    I think-

  • 00:38:36

    John Donvan

    And, and I wanna see if you feel-

  • 00:38:37

    Nita Farahany

    And, and why isn’t it included, by the way, on the question of should we erase memories? It wasn’t should we erase memories using decoded neurofeedback. It’s should we erase memories? And each of these are different processes and techniques to be able to do so.

  • 00:38:50

    Sigal Samuel

    Sorry. But w-

  • 00:38:51

    Nita Farahany

    Well, I mean so-

  • 00:38:51

    Sigal Samuel

    You’re saying so what’s different about-

  • 00:38:52

    Nita Farahany

    … so the point is these are-

  • 00:38:53

    John Donvan

    These are memory-erasing technique.

  • 00:38:54

    Nita Farahany

    … whether it’s meditation or-

  • 00:38:55

    John Donvan

    Yeah.

  • 00:38:55

    Nita Farahany

    … whether it’s, you know, uh, using exposure therapy, each of these are techniques to try to erase memories. And so what is it about the decoded neurofeedback that you’ve singled out, and is that really so different in the broader debate question of should we erase memories?

  • 00:39:11

    Sigal Samuel

    To me, it seems like there’s some qualitative difference between erasing, and I know it’s not erasing in a sort of like lay sense, but the- what this technology seems like it would do versus a reprocessing that might be a little bit more slow potentially have a little bit of more room for meaning-making and growth to emerge from the process of working through what your narrative is.

  • 00:39:32

    John Donvan

    I wanna move on to another question, the very back corner of the room.

  • 00:39:35

    Audience

    Hi, thank you. I do wa- I wanna go back to this question of intergenerational trauma that as we know, obviously, has cyclical patterns that can go down family member to family member. What would be the benefits or lack thereof of this technology to address intergenerational trauma?

  • 00:39:51

    Sigal Samuel

    I think that, you know, intergenerational trauma, there’s- there, there can be different ways of working through it. Now, again, there might be some scenarios where this… I don’t know. This might be the most effective way. I would have questions around, you know, many of us have probably heard the expression at this point, “The body keeps the score,” right? Different ways that trauma registers in the body, and it’s not just something in your, in your mind, right? So I would have questions about, like, also epigenetics, right? I would have questions about like what aspects of trauma are gonna be passed down regardless of, of this sort of erasure. There’s other ways of processing trauma that also could be worth exploring that could prevent the passing down to further generations.

  • 00:40:31

    John Donvan

    So we’re gonna have, I think, time for one more question, but I do wanna bring up a question that hasn’t come up yet that came from Sigal’s argument that we could be moving into a world where the doctor says to you, “You know what? Ju- just go get the thing erased. I don’t have time to do… go through all of this therapy and everything else,” that it becomes a very, very easy choice, that, that would be a scary world to live in. And i- and if you have, have… can answer that in 45 seconds, I can get another question in.

  • 00:40:52

    Nita Farahany

    Yeah. I actually wrote an article called The Cost of Changing Our Minds, and worried about the possibility in the tort system that requires, for example, reasonable mitigation of your own injuries, that we could come to a place where we believe reasonable mitigation of your injuries includes the requirement to address your psychological trauma through, um, erasing or changing your memories.

  • 00:41:14

    Um, to me, the right to cognitive liberty safeguards against that, because the right to cognitive liberty is the right to self-determination over brains and mental experiences, which means that couldn’t be a condition of participation in society. It’s a broad right to and a right from interference with our minds.

  • 00:41:31

    John Donvan

    This is gonna be the, uh, last question.

  • 00:41:32

    Audience

    Thank you for your time. Um, ma- many new technologies that come out have negative externalities associated with them. I’m curious how both of your points of view would address the negative externalities that are possible with this technology.

  • 00:41:44

    Nita Farahany

    I’m happy to take that on first.

  • 00:41:45

    John Donvan

    Sure.

  • 00:41:46

    Nita Farahany

    So, you know, one of the things that Sigal said was, “It’s hard to have fully informed consents consistent with your question of, we don’t always know what the negative externalities of technologies can be.” That’s true of many choices that we make in life, which is we go into those choices without full information. We have to do the best that we can with the information that we have available to us to make what is never truly fully informed consent to anything, because we can’t know how anything wi- will turn out.

  • 00:42:14

    We nevertheless make choices all the time in the face of uncertainty, and that is part of the process of growth and transcendence, is learning based on the different pieces of information you have available what choices will you make. I think that’s just part of it, is uncertainty is baked in, and every person will make different choices based on that uncertainty.

  • 00:42:32

    John Donvan

    Sigal, do you see regulation for this? Do you see government regulation for this? Do you see the government making decisions about this question?

  • 00:42:39

    Sigal Samuel

    Do I think that would happen if this technology rolls out?

  • 00:42:41

    John Donvan

    Do you, do you think that should happen?

  • 00:42:43

    Sigal Samuel

    Yeah. I mean, I think we have regulations for all sorts of things in the medical and psychological sphere. So I don’t see why this would be any different. But I… when I talk about implicit coercion and what if society, you know, wants to just send you to the clinic, I don’t just talk about what would be happening from, you know, e- bureaucratic government stuff or regulations. I’m talking about what, what your best friend says. Are they willing to, like, patiently listen to you for hours, (laughs) or do they impatiently sort of say, “E- e- go, you know, go resolve it over there at the clinic.”

  • 00:43:09

    John Donvan

    And your thought on government having a role? I think we know clearly that you would not-

  • 00:43:14

    Nita Farahany

    I think you know clearly my view on that, which is (laughs) that should not be, uh, a decision that is being put into the hands of, like, there shouldn’t be an indication, which is only if you qualify for this degree of suffering or this kind of loss or this kind of trauma can you have access to this technology. That, to me, seems like a disaster in the making.

  • 00:43:32

    John Donvan

    All right. I wanna thank everybody for your questions. Oh, thanks for the round of applause. (laughing) Thanks. Um, we’re gonna, we’re gonna go to our closing round now. And in our closing round, uh, each of the debaters has two minutes each to make their final argument for yes or no. And Sigal, since Nita went first for the opening, you have the floor.

  • 00:43:52

    Sigal Samuel

    Sure.

  • 00:43:52

    John Donvan

    Tell us one more time why we should not erase bad memories.

  • 00:43:55

    Sigal Samuel

    So, I wanna briefly tell you the story of Jane McGonigal’s, a woman that I had the pleasure of interviewing, um, a couple years ago. Jane, about a dozen years ago, suffered a terrible concussion. And as a result, she was in bed basically for months with s- just terrible anxiety, vertigo, nausea, pain, you name it, to the point that, um, she became suicidal.

  • 00:44:21

    Jane had something going for her, though, which is that she’s a professional game designer. She said to herself in that moment, “I’m either going to kill myself or I’m gonna turn this into a game.” She ended up turning it into a game, meaning she figured out things that would help her potentially feel better. And i- so things like, um, drink a glass of water, go for a walk around the block, talk to a friend.

  • 00:44:46

    She ou- Whenever she did one of these, she gave herself points. She called it a power-up, right? She, she talked about unlocking achievements. She framed it for herself in, in the terms of a game. This helped her a lot, um, and it helped her so much that she actually ended up turning it into an app called SuperBetter that you can download if you want, um, and it helps people. It’s helped a million people with depression, anxiety, and other issues.

  • 00:45:11

    Now, if you talk to Jane, she says, “I’m really glad that I had that concussion and that experience of suffering 10 years ago. Uh, not only I came out of it super better, stronger than before, experienced post-traumatic growth, but also was able to help all these other people.” Not everyone as Jane should be expected to, you know, uh, uh, make it out in the same way and put out an app, and et cetera.

  • 00:45:37

    But I wanna preserve the option for that kind of, you know, in- allowing ourselves to pause to envision that type of potential future path for ourselves when we’re in a moment of deep suffering. Um, so I’ll leave it there.

  • 00:45:51

    John Donvan

    Thank you very much. Nita, the floor is yours for your closing statement, and you’re answering yes to the question.

  • 00:46:00

    Nita Farahany

    Each of us has a personal journey through grief. I wanna tell you about mine, where I used the power of neurofeedback, um, and a psychologist to be able to move through the greatest trauma in my life. On Mother’s Day in 2017, after 10 weeks of prolonged hospitalization, we lost our daughter, Callista, to a respiratory virus and the complications that followed from it.

  • 00:46:28

    In the weeks and months and years that followed, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t close my eyes without reliving every moment of the trauma in the hospital. It got to the point where I couldn’t parent effectively our third child who came after her, that I reacted in terror, that I was not myself, that I couldn’t be present in the moment. I tried traditional approaches, and it didn’t work for me. Each of us is a mosaic of memories. Each of us makes choices about how we will navigate through them.

  • 00:47:07

    While I don’t have an app that I created as a result of moving through that trauma, I do have a platform to argue that each of us has a right to cognitive liberty, a right to self-determination over our brains and mental experiences to make choices about how we move through that trauma, how we choose to incorporate our everyday experiences, the worst that can befall us, the arbitrary cruelties of fate, and choose whether or not we endure those or make choices to erase and change them.

  • 00:47:43

    I didn’t betray my memory of Callista by choosing to erase the most painful aspects of it. Instead, I endured to be here today to argue for you that you have a right to erase your memories if you choose to do so. Thank you.

  • 00:47:59

    John Donvan

    Thank you. So that, that concludes the argument- argumentation portion of the program, and I just wanna say that as I said at the beginning, what we aim to show at Open to Debate is that people can disagree robustly and honestly and respectfully without having to be- see each other as enemies. I think that was so well demonstrated by the two of you and the way that you did this. I really wanna thank you very much for that.

  • 00:48:21

    Uh, and the last thing I wanna say that we like to find out how we did in terms of your listening and a very simple question by a round of applause, we- I’m gonna have the second follow-up question. But the first question by round of applause, how many of you changed your minds from yes to no or no to yes on this question today? And then just more broadly, how many of you come away from this conversation, this debate, such that you’re gonna think differently about it just because of what you heard here today, regardless of [inaudible

  • 00:48:56

    ].

  • 00:48:58

    So, um, that, that delights us. Um, it means that you were listening closely. That’s the point we’re trying to do here at Open to Debate. So thanks all of you for being open to debate. I’m John Donvan, and we will see you next time.

  • 00:49:19

    Thank you, everybody, for tuning into this episode of Open to Debate. You know as a nonprofit, our work to combat extreme polarization through civil and respectful debate is generously funded by listeners like you, by the Rosenkranz Foundation, and by supporters of Open to Debate. Open to Debate is also made possible by a generous grant from the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund.

  • 00:49:40

    Robert Rosenkranz is our Chairman. Clea Conner is CEO. Lia Matthow is our chief content officer. Marlette Sandoval is our producer. Gabriella Mayer is our editorial and research manager. Gabrielle Iannucelli is our social media and digital platforms coordinator. Andrew Lipson is head of production. Max Fulton is our production coordinator. Raven Baker is events and operations manager. And I’m your host, John Donvan. We’ll see you next time.

Breakdown

BIGGEST SHIFT

Undecided
0%
Undecided
Change in voter behavior
0% - Swung from the Side
0% - Remained Undecided
0% - Swung from the Side
ARGUING NO
0%
ARGUING NO
Change in voter behavior
0% - Remained on the Side
0% - Swung from the Side
0% - Swung from Undecided
ARGUING YES
0%
ARGUING YES
Change in voter behavior
0% - Swung from the Side
0% - Remained on the Side
0% - Swung from Undecided
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
0

Have an idea for a debate or have a question for the Open to Debate Team?

DEBATE COMMUNITY
Join a community of social and intellectual leaders that truly value the free exchange of ideas.
EDUCATIONAL BRIEFS
Readings on our weekly debates, debater editorials, and news on issues that affect our everyday lives.
SUPPORT OPEN-MINDED DEBATE
Help us bring debate to communities and classrooms across the nation.