Talk:Think tanks

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Is the scope of this page to list think tanks that are known to be funded by industry and serve as third-party spokesmen for them, or all think tanks valid? In sum, do we include the "good" and the "bad"?

I think it should be OK to list all think tanks here. There are a separate lists of front groups and industry-funded organizations which would be natural homes for the specific types of think tanks you're describing. There's also a list of lists that you can use to come up with other ways of categorizing groups and individuals, etc. I think it will take awhile to work up a stable and coherent set of categories for everything, and some articles will obviously belong on more than one list. FYI, my current list of "front groups" includes some organizations that, properly speaking, shouldn't be called "front groups." That was simply the first term I started with, and after working on it for awhile, I realized that "industry-funded organizations" was a better descriptor. (However, some groups actually are front groups and belong on that list too.)--Sheldon Rampton 20:58 Mar 12, 2003 (EST)

Unrelated: How do you do relative links? Since the list of think tanks can get quite large, we may want to break them up by alphabetic category and have a top "toolbar" of letters ("A B C D ...") that links down into the list. Or, create a sperate page for each letter?

One way to do this would be to create separate articles named "think tanks (A-D)", "think tanks (E-H)," etc. Then the main "think tanks" article would include a list at the bottom that looks like this:
At present, however, I don't think the list is long enough to require breaking it up into pieces.
Another way to create sub-articles would by to use a slash, e.g., Weapons of mass deception/external links. --Sheldon Rampton 20:58 Mar 12, 2003 (EST)

The categorization of think tanks into "conservative" and "liberal" is the usual oversimplification which lumps Religious Right theocrats like the Family Research Council in with libertarians like the Cato Institute as "conservative". It is nondescriptive and inoperative.

Probably true, and in any case not extensible beyond the US, since in the UK and Canada a "conservative" favors tax-paid universal health care, etc., and in the US a "liberal" probably favors the death penalty. So these relative terms are basically only useful to describe Denroncratik vs. Republenron spin.
Should this not be titled US think tanks? Then there can be a separate article for UK think tanks like London Health Observatory, Global Commons Institute, UK Energy Institute, etc. And EU think tanks, Global think tanks. The difference being whether there is any serious non-US-policy or non-US participation. Also there must be Russian think tanks, Chinese think tanks, Japanese think tanks countering "Western" spin.

Do global consultative agencies like American Committee for the United Nations University that follow a fairly strict methodology, count as think tanks by this definition?

Also, would a multiple point of view service employing wiki process, like SourceWatch or Meta-Wikipedia, qualify as a "think tank"? Though the public is invited in, credentialism is usually minimized, it might be fair to say that these are "as good as think tanks get" in terms of inclusion or neutrality.

Then there are those that serve more as fora for battles between points of view, like Wikipedia and maybe soon Consumerium.

There are also the global policy groups like SimPol and Global Greens, and NGOs like Amnesty International and Greenpeace that serve a think-tank-like function in addition to advocacy and campaigning.

Knowing where these fit in The Matrix might help...]

It is beyond stupid to have an article on think tanks and delete the only article on futurist methodology. This is exactly what these people do, it is exactly what these people are paid to do, and without understanding it, you don't have any chance to understand their influence.

The same applies to neoclassical philosophy, which you must understand to understand how neoliberal economists and neo-conservative policy wonks team up to trash everything that it says is not important.

There must be AT LEAST a thin veneer of basic articles describing the belief systems and the methods used by the propagandists, or else, you simply cannot analyze propaganda at all. Read some Edward Herman. Or George Lakoff. And for God's sake take sysop powers away from those who have not, and don't even signal objections to an article on [[Talk:]] pages before they delete it. That is just vandalism.

Moved Center for Public Integrity out of think tanks list and into a newly created "non-profit media groups' list -- CPI aren't a think tank that develops policy positions but a non profit journalism group -- Bob Burton


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Another explanation for the fact that the majority of think tanks are conservative or otherwise free-market is that the dominance of the left in academia makes liberal and social-democratic think tanks superfluous. Almost all of the hundreds of university economics, political science, and sociology departments, together with schools of public policy, have a distinctly leftward bias, and serve many of the purposes of think tanks for the left. Lacking a home in the university, the right is left to seek funding from private sources to conduct their policy research.

Reasons for deletion 1) there is no evidence cited of the supposed overwhelming dominance of the left in academia claimed. This claim is far fetched. 2)the funding of the conservative think tanks is as much about a struggle amongst conservatives as an attempt to overwhelm the 'left'. Talk to think tankers and they will rail against moderate conservatives as much as the left. 3)it attempts to maintain the pretence that seeking corporate funding is about research -- its not. The think tanks that chased money from the tobacco companies were not doing research on the impact of smoking -- they were seeking to champion their sponsors interests -- bob

I noticed you read George Lakoff. In Moral Politics he points out one other big reason why there are so many more conservative than progressive think tanks -- namely, that progressives feel money should go directly to those who need help and not to think-tankers. Lakoff argues that progressives need to fund think tanks if they don't want to be overwhelmed by the conservatives. Might be worth mentioning in your article. Mutternich 11:08, 25 Feb 2004 (EST)

Since the UK (with its own list) is part of Western Europe, should the title of that list be changed to 'Other Western European...' or 'Additional Western European...'?

-- I have deleted The Bivings Group as a listing in the think tanks page as they are a PR company and there is a start of an article under Bivings Group listing under PR companies at -- thanks anyway -- cheers -- bob said: In fairness, it should be noted however, that most conservative think tanks arose in the sixties and seventies in response to the perception that liberal academics dominate most traditional universities. Studies of the voter registration records of university professors consistently show that academics in the humanities departments of most universitie vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Conservative alumni and business owners were unhappy that their donations were going to fund professors who were openly hostile to free markets, and who advocated heavy government regulation. Conservative scholars felt that their research could not get a fair hearing in an environment where they were so massively outnumbered.

I replaced most of this. Certainly, the left-wing bias of academia in the 1970s would mean that during that period, conservative donors were more likely to donate to a think-tank than to a university. However, this is not the same as saying that think-tanks arose as a *response* to left-wing academia. Conservative donors set up or funded universities which reflected their opinions *at the same time* (George Mason University, Buckingham University, University of Chicago). Think-tanks are deliberately non-academic, because they are able more easily to act as marketing units rather than research units.

--Gangle 09:09, 20 Jul 2004 (EDT)

-- I reverted the last edit - if think tanks had actual power so that they constituted a world government why would they need to influence ideas and debate? --Bob Burton 16:48, 8 Aug 2004 (EDT)

Peace now Think Tank, and action commitee proposal

I have been wanting to start a think tank to discuss different ways to phase out violence and phase in dialogue, through visual arts and film, theater and spoken word. I know that more important, and more powerful people than myself have tried to bring peace to the Middle East, I know that all the salesmen and entrepreneurs had decended upon us and drew a map that was designed by the huge corporations worldwide, and left us in the lamentable condition that we are in. This compels me to try to create a dialogue similar to the interfaith dialogue group that that I am a member of here in Chicago, to bring together Palestinians and Israelis for dialogue to bring back everybody to the negotiating tables. I invite Israelis, Palestinians, American concerved personalities of all professions, and disciplines, and whoever else want to join, because I cannot sit idly by and accept the status quo of kill or be killed in the Middle East. If should stand idly by then the terorists have won, because they would have divided us and kept us apart through fear and intimidation.

How long would this continue? What kind of future the peoples of the middle east have whether they are Israeli, Palestinian , Lebanese or any other nationality in the region?

I once was encouraged, and still am that even Sharon had finally conceded that he must sacrifice land, and come back to the negotiating table, of course it is sad that he continiues to occupy and solidify his military control of Gaza and the West Bank. I know that he is trying to deny the palestinians the satisfaction of having Isreal withdraw as a sign of defeat, and for that I ask a question...

What were the events that lead to Israeli incursions? Israel says that the Palestinians continue to shell Isrealis? This compels me to ask the same question of Israel What were the events that led to the shelling, and what kind of life do Palestinians live under Israeli occupation? I am not an expert on the area and my source of news is whqtever is available to the pblic in the US, so may be that is why we need this sort of dialogue, which i hope will lead to a delegation to visit both Sharon and Arafat and plead with them. In the name of God Stop! Stop it both of you! In the name of God Hamas stop! Stop attacking Israeli civilians! Stop forcing a suicide only option on your families, Disengage now and return to the negotiating table, both Israel and Palestine will exist only through negotiations, and not through anialating each other. I know that all these words will fall on deaf ears, and that as we say in the middle east , "blood will never become water". I cannot expect the Israeli who just lost his child to a Palestinian rocket, or the Palestinian whose house was demoished or had his btrother,sister,father shot by Israeli troops to talk about peace, but I wish there was another option.

There is no other option but co-existance, a Palestinian state living side by side with an Israeli state, because no matter how much anger , and foam and froth are at Arab or Israeli mouthes, we will never drive each other in the sea, that is dream that will never happen neither to the Arabs nor to the Israelis.

I call on us to create an action committee and visit both Sharon and Arafat and Hamas and bring them back to the negotiating table, There is no other way. Nazem Kamel Elmasri(NED MASRI) or

Another View...

Outside funding can corrupt the integrity of academic institutions. The same corrupting influences affect think tanks, only more so.

Think tanks are like universities minus the students and minus the systems of peer review and other mechanisms that academia uses to promote diversity of thought.


Lack of external accountability can corrupt the integrity of academic institutions. Think tanks are generally free of this corruption.

Think tanks are like universities minus the insularity of the academic world. Scholars working at think tanks generally come into contact with more people outside the academic world, and face pressures to make sure that their work conforms to reality and serves some practical purpose. Conservatives have turned to think tanks as a last resort because government-funded universities have an inherent pro-government bias.

I'm not entirely persuaded that [1] is a think tank as generally definied - as distinct from a website/forum for discussion - but have given it the benefit of the doubt and left it on the page for the moment. I's be happy to hear from anyone else has a view to the contrary. cheers --Bob Burton 19:43, 10 Oct 2006 (EDT)


I have parked the following quote here pending better referencing -- the original link is dead and the page isn't archived in the Internet archive.--Bob Burton 16:09, 22 September 2009 (EDT)

in the words of Yellow columnist John Chuckman, "phony institutes where ideologue~propagandists pose as academics ... [into which] money gushes like blood from opened arteries to support meaningless advertising's suffocation of genuine debate".<ref> [2]