Virtual Event: Bo Seo
How Debate Teaches Us
to Listen and Be Heard
in conversation with DEREK THOMPSON
September 23, 2022
12:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store and the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics welcome award-winning and two-time world champion debater BO SEO for a discussion of his book Good Arguments: How Debate Teaches Us to Listen and Be Heard. He will be joined in conversation by senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, DEREK THOMPSON.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by pre-ordering a copy of Good Arguments on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About Good Arguments
When Bo Seo was 8 years old, he and his family migrated from Korea to Australia. At the time, he did not speak English, and, unsurprisingly, struggled at school. But, then, in fifth grade, something happened to change his life: he discovered competitive debate. Immediately, he was hooked. It turned out, perhaps counterintuitively, that debating was the perfect activity for someone shy and unsure of himself. It became a way for Bo not only to find his voice, but to excel socially and academically. And he’s not the only one. Far from it: presidents, Supreme Court justices, and CEOs are all disproportionally debaters. This is hardly a coincidence. By tracing his own journey from immigrant kid to world champion, Seo shows how the skills of debating—information gathering, truth finding, lucidity, organization, and persuasion—are often the cornerstone of successful careers and happy lives.
Drawing insights from its strategies, structure, and history, Seo teaches readers the skills of competitive debate, and in doing so shows how they can improve their communication with friends, family, and colleagues alike. He takes readers on a thrilling intellectual adventure into the eccentric and brilliant subculture of competitive debate, touching on everything from the radical politics of Malcom X to Artificial Intelligence. Seo proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that, far from being a source of conflict, good-faith debate can enrich our daily lives. Indeed, these good arguments are essential to a flourishing democracy, and are more important than ever at time when bad faith is all around, and our democracy seems so imperiled.
Praise for Good Arguments
“Bo Seo pulls off the hat trick of persuasion, combining crisp logic, a compelling story, and a likeable, trustworthy narrator. While his book will turn the shyest introvert into a wannabe debater, it makes a compelling argument of its own: that civil disagreement can save our troubled civilization.” —Jay Heinrichs, New York Times bestselling author of Thank You for Arguing
“At a time of polarization and rage, we all need to learn how to disagree well—and this important, compelling and wise book should be at the heart of how we do so.” —Johann Hari, New York Times bestselling author of Stolen Focus and Lost Connections
“This is not just the electrifying tale of how Bo Seo won two world debate championships. It’s also a user manual for our polarized world. I can’t think of a more vital resource for learning to sharpen your critical thinking, accelerate your rethinking, and hone your ability to open other people’s minds. Good Arguments is the rare book that has the potential to make you smarter—and everyone around you wiser.” —Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again
The “Ethics in Your World” series, presented with Harvard University’s Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics, features leading thinkers taking on tough problems that matter to us all. Learn more about the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics at ethics.harvard.edu.
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