Sunday, March 29, 2009

Being Think Tanks and Institutes

Watching C-Span this morning confirmed my long-held belief that think tanks and institutes are aligned to prove their particular political agenda on an array of issues from the military to education to foreign policy etc.

The scholarship of these organizations does not seem to be to disprove their ideology, which is the basis of relevant factual understanding, but to propagate their particular agenda to align sources who agree. Agreement then becomes the vehicle to sway government and public opinion for particular outcomes.

Come to think of it, is this what scholarship is, the effort to approve ideology as opposed to disproving it? Perhaps to some degree this is what science is too and the reason for procedures and medicines that are later proven to be harmful. Maybe this is the wrong kind of thinking for think tanks and institutes. Maybe we should try the opposite--disproving our ideology and agenda.

Is the motive for research than influenced by our agenda, our particular biases and opinions? Does this affect outcomes?

2 comments:

dave wheeler said...

Judith,

As I do the research on each of the 4 foundation issues for the project I definitely see agenda driving data in many areas. It's like talking point and spin central. Data cut and parsed to meet your need and position.

Polls and statistics...you can make them say what you need them to. I also see a lot of "non-profits" whose sole deliverable and service is reports and studies. Definitely a need and opportunity for change in this area

judith ellis said...

Without doubt, Dave. As you can probably see from the post that I am interested in how we seek information and how this influences our thinking and eventually outcomes. I remember writing papers in college and when researching thinking of ways to disprove my hypothesis. I remain the same in just about everything.