eli5-What is a think tank?

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eli5-What is a think tank?

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Organization, often non-profit, dedicated to researching and publishing in certain area, typically public policies, economy, environment, etc.

It’s a large, metal vehicle on treads that uses a big gun to blast knowledge into people.

Or, it’s just a group of people you consider clever and you use them to bounce ideas around and work on them.

It’s where business interests and wealthy people get together to decide what kind of laws they want. Then media companies will publish articles about their ideas and this is used to shape public sentiment. It’s one of the primary mechanisms by which the ruling elite exercise influence over society.

Much of our scholarship and writing on public policy issues comes out of universities, but universities generally intend to be non-partisan and address issues from a level of academic remove — for example, they’re more likely to respond to how a proposed law would affect the system they study and than they are to write the law they think would be best.

Think tanks are generally half way between a university and a political party. They write articles, white papers, proposed laws, etc., but they do so from a particular political viewpoint and more openly advocate for a particular political outcome than professors would generally feel comfortable doing. They may be generally conservative/progressive or they may push a particular policy agenda — pro business, low tax, libertarian, environmental, LGBT, etc.

The Heritage Foundation is very influential in conservative legal policy, for example, and is generally seen as creating a short list of judges to be considered for Republican appointments to the Supreme Court. On the other side, the Brookings Institute generally advocates for researched backed policies, which tend to lean left in that they’re in favor of government activity to address social and economic problems.

They basic serve as mills to churn out “research” tailored to their clients requirements.

If you want actual academic, nominally non-partisan, nominally unbiased research you go to a university and can sponsor a research topic and they’ll return the findings. The findings may be slanted towards what they think you want to hear, but normally will be grounded in some level of academic standards.

A think tank is an outfit who produce stuff that looks like academic research, but is nakedly partisan, openly biased and will give you the findings you’re paying for. The papers they produced are then used to give an air of credibility to the customer’s goals – the customer can point to these publications as though they were independent academic research findings and use them to support their agenda.