Think tank

A think tank is a group of individuals in military laboratories, corporations, or other institutions dedicated to high-level synergistic research on a variety of subjects. Discoveries and activities which resulted from think tanks include:

In the United States of America think tanks generally receive funding from private donors, and make up an important part of forming both foreign and domestic policy. Because some think tanks are private organizations, the members of such think tanks have more freedom to propose and debate ideas than people within government.

Typically, an issue such as national missile defense will be debated within and among think tanks and the result of these debates will influence government policy makers. Some are clearly aligned with a pro-market approach to the economy whilst others, especially those with an emphasis on social welfare, social equity or environmental outcomes, are viewed as left-of-centre.

Critics such as Ralph Nader have pointed out that the private nature of the funding of such think tanks may bias the resulting findings. Some argue that the members will be inclined to promote or publish only those results which will ensure the continued flow of funds from the private donors. This risk of distortion also threatens the reputation and integrity of organisations such as universities, once considered to stand wholly within the public sector. Some supposed think tanks may be more accurately understood as a front for a marketing or public relations organisation.

In the case of the People's Republic of China, there are a number of think tank organizations, sponsored by governmental agencies, but which often retain enough non-official status to be able to propose and debate ideas more freely. Indeed, most of the actual diplomacy between China and the United States takes the form of academic exchanges between members of think tank groups.

Table of contents
1 Centers of Human Thought or Tools for Propaganda
2 Mapping the US think tank network
3 Well-Known Think Tanks
4 See Also
5 External Links

Centers of Human Thought or Tools for Propaganda

Many think tanks today are little more than tools for propaganda. Their purpose is often simply to construct, publish, and promote arguments in favor of a predetermined ideology such as conservative, liberal, libertarian, socialist, communist, etc... The ideology is determined by whatever corporation or group is funding the think tank activities.

At least one new think tank has been formed whose mission is to break this mold-and become a true center of human thought, dialogue, and learning. The Wisdom Project[1] calls itself the first open source think tank. It welcomes anyone into discussion forums and uses a system of voting to determine what input is published. Rather than promoting a particular ideology, the Wisdom Project says its purpose is to foster and promote wisdom through open debate and dialogue.

Mapping the US think tank network

Since think tanks generally prefer secrecy for their internal organising methods, making it to difficult to map their network of connections and interests.

One method of trying to document the think tank network is by using published books by members of the think tanks and/or by journalists who write about them, and recording whose names occur together on any single page of these books. While crude, this method is used by NameBase [1] and its results are publicly available [1].

Well-Known Think Tanks

United Kingdom

United States

See Also

External Links


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