Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bias in think tanks

Writing occasionally here about ways that media can, usually unintentionally, distort news, I was interested to see this article pointing to similar distortions by defence think tanks. Benjamin H Friedman gives five ways that think tanks may become biased:

1) Institutional funding: "If you take government or industry money, you will hesitate to undertake research that offends your sponsors."

2) Personal profit bias: "Many defense and homeland security experts, especially the most prominent ones, work for defense contractors or investment companies in that industry."

3) Ambition: "Those pining for jobs in the Obama or Thune administration are not going to tell you exactly what they think about Afghanistan without considering how their would-be bosses would react."

4) Selection bias: "as people that go into the international development business are likely to support increased foreign aid, defense analysts are more likely than most to be hawkish people."

5) Social convention: "...it seems impolite and for many people uncomfortable to swim against the tide. And we unconsciously adjust our political views to fit in with those around us."

2 comments:

  1. ...in other words, think tanks are as human as the rest of us, eh, Shane?!

    ReplyDelete

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