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How are "independent" think tanks funded?

 
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:08 pm
Once in a while I'll search for information and come across an independent , public/social policy think tank. The information usually seems unbiased.

But the money to do the research has to come from somewhere. And when money is involved there is usually a bias.

Is there any way to be sure that the information they present is truly unbiased?

Thanks!
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Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:11 pm
It usually takes some leg work. Each site should have an "about us" link on the home page. That should take you to a page, which, if it has been honestly composed, will set out any particular agenda which the institution is intended to serve. They should also list their supporters. From there, you'd have to find out about the individuals or institutions which support them.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:14 pm
Oh yeah . . . bias . . . i can't imagine any information which you would come across, for which there is not a verifiable scientific research methodology, which is not biased. You just have to learn what the bias is, and decide how you feel about that. When one learns history at a university, one spends a good deal of time learning historiography. The methods of historiography are much like the methods of an investigator on a criminal case--one looks for motives and opportunities, whose interests are served, and what motives they might have for hiding or distorting facts.

In the end, this is something you'll have to do with about any subject you approach, including science.
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djjd62
 
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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:16 pm
i've always wanted to work for an independent think tank

it sounds pretty cool

just sitting around all day, independently thinking
OmSigDAVID
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:26 pm
@djjd62,
djjd62 wrote:

i've always wanted to work for an independent think tank

it sounds pretty cool

just sitting around all day, independently thinking
What happens if u fall asleep while u r independently thinking?
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:26 pm
Okay.... here's the funding page for a site that I use once in a while: http://www.childtrends.org/_catdisp_page.cfm?LID=131

Do you think you would trust information from that site?

Brookings is probably the biggest and best known think tank. I went to their site and could not find a list of groups that fund it.

Do you/ would you trust their research?
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:39 pm
The child trends funding page has a pretty broad range of supporting institutions, and if i had any comment, it would be that it might be slightly left-leaning. However, if the question is whether or not i would trust their research, i'd have to say that it would depend on the methodology they reported that they had used.

The Brookings Institution is probably the most influential of American think tanks. It is usually assumed to be centrist or left-leaning, but it is very jealous of its reputation for scholarship and independence, so it would be fair to assume that it is not influenced by the points of view of its contributors. The descriptions of the Brookings on a partisan basis are usually a product as much of the political agenda of the person describing the institution as it is of any agenda ascribable to the institution. Many liberal commentators, for example, have in recent years accused the institution of having been too readily supportive of the foreign policy agenda of the Bush administration. In the end, one has to look at the material they produce, and who produced it. Their board includes Democrats, Republicans and scholars who have never announced any political affiliation.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:56 am
@Setanta,
Thanks, Setanta!
0 Replies
 
 

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