In the Tank

IN THE TANK….Mark Kleiman would like to see some intellectual rigor from the mainstream media:

Is there any hope of getting the press to distinguish between (1) the original “think tank” ? the RAND Corporation ? and comparably respectable universities-without-students (Brookings, the Urban Institute) where real social scientists (and real natural scientists, engineers, mathematicians, historians, and policy analysts) do real research and analysis looking for real answers to real questions and (2) faux “think tanks” (Heritage, Cato, the Institute for Policy Studies, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse) set up for the purpose of providing “studies” in support of pre-determined ideological points?

The distinction isn’t hard to make. If you have to read the report to know the conclusion, it’s a real think tank. If you know the conclusion as soon as you know the topic and where it was written, you’re dealing with a phony.

The distinction might be a little harder to make than Mark admits, but his point is still well taken. However, there’s no chance of this happening unless someone comes up with a non-derogatory substitute name for the faux think tanks. Any suggestions?

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