June 15, 2007
A Quickie Guide To Conservative Think Tanks
Rick Perlstein has the goods on what a shoddy, faux-think tank Heritage is. But sad as it is that they write fundraising letters as if they were city council candidates in Texas, it's the tip of the iceberg: It's not just that they don't respect research, it's that they often don't respect their own research, which makes it hard for anyone else to trust the findings. I've heard stories of their people publicly decrying and denying their own research because it proves ideologically inconvenient (I'll try to get permission to tell some tomorrow).
As a general guide, Heritage is generally considered the most hackish of the major conservative think tanks. AEI is quite a bit better, with serious researchers scattered among the more occasional ideologues (though they still have their share of shameful moments). And Cato, which is libertarian rather than conservative, is usually quite above the board.
June 15, 2007 | Permalink
Being a public intellectual seems like a boondoggle, but working for the Heritage Foundation seems like one of the sweetest possible plums.
In any event, everybody should visit my blog in order to make me some sort of do-nothing, gas-bag public intellectual.
Posted by: Wido Incognitus | Jun 15, 2007 5:06:54 AM
Don't let their "incompetent" reputation fool you. They're just one cog in the wheel. Jim Lobe has the goods on the web of relationships everyone should be paying more attention to:
Posted by: Brighid | Jun 15, 2007 6:36:50 AM
And Cato, which is libertarian rather than conservative, is usually quite above the board.
Cato? Putting aside the fact libertarianism is a incoherent mishmash of contradiction and inconsistency, much of what they crank out is rubbish.
Certainly their recent yammerings WRT Social Security have been outlandish, if not dishonest.
Posted by: Jadegold | Jun 15, 2007 11:08:47 AM
"Cato? Putting aside the fact libertarianism is a incoherent mishmash of contradiction and inconsistency, much of what they crank out is rubbish."
Yeah, but there is, given their ideological blinders, they at least give a nod towards intellectual honesty, wheras AEI aren't even in the same county as intellectual honesty, and Heritage would need a radio telescope to find it.
Posted by: Sock Puppet of the Great Satan | Jun 15, 2007 2:31:01 PM
As always, we must lower the bar for conservatives. All these groups are hacks, liars, and cheats, just as a murderer is still a murderer whether they kill one or many.
Posted by: Ricky | Jun 15, 2007 3:09:07 PM
As late as the mid-80's AEI used to be above-board; a center-right counterpart to the center-left Brookings. It has hacked out since, although it still has Norm Ornstein. Heritage was always Heritage.
Posted by: Joe S. | Jun 15, 2007 4:09:33 PM
Ezra, you are making the fundamental mistake that Heritage and similar organizations exist to do good research. They don't. They exist to put a patina of "researchiness" onto political ideology.
I think it's unlikely that Heritage's sloppy comparison in the linked article (comparing average US to low-income immigrant households) was entirely innocent. A lot of these think tanks not only come to their research with a bias, but almost with a goal of what they want it to demonstrate.
It's like expecting the American Family Institute to release a research study saying that, "Hey, what do you know, gays and lesbians can make perfectly good parents!"
Posted by: Narc | Jun 15, 2007 9:06:55 PM
Hey, AEI has the best lunches in town. Don't even bother going to CATO, those assholes make you put the mayo packets on yourself.
Posted by: alec | Jun 17, 2007 2:15:18 PM
Posted by: aizheng | Jun 18, 2007 2:42:21 AM
Posted by: judy | Oct 8, 2007 9:22:58 AM
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