[LINK] IPA, astroturfing and fantsy themes

Glen Turner gdt at gdt.id.au
Fri Feb 17 01:32:28 AEDT 2012

I'm not against "think tanks". Some of them are very good: RAND
Corporation would be fine example. It hasn't always got it right, but it
is plain what it's agenda is -- the advancement of US interests.

What concerns me much more are think tanks where the agenda is adopted
with a view to funding and where the results of the research invariably
supports the think tank's agenda.

Real research is a messy thing. You get unexpected results. This has
even become a grand tradition in science. All young scientists are told
the story of Fleming, the failed experiment, the Petri dish of mould,
and the discovery of penicillin.

Research which doesn't get messy once in a while isn't real research, it
is PR.

But really, these think tanks don't even do real research. For all of
their talk about the causes of climate change I very much doubt that
those think tanks have a single sensor collecting data.

What they do is criticism. Because that's what their clients want. They
want a level of doubt, an air of technical controversy. Because this
helps them delay government action to regulate their industry.

For this reason having "competing" think tanks is no great help. If the
aim of the think tank is to create controversy, then having your own
think tank furthering that controversy is an own goal.

 Glen Turner <http://www.gdt.id.au/~gdt/>

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