Arnold Kling  

Tevi Troy on Think Tanks

Caplan, Kahneman, Bastiat, and... The Real Concentration of Powe...

Nick Schulz and I talk with him in this video. Comments welcome. What can we do to make this a regular program that you look forward to every week?

The conversation raises doubts about whether the emerging trends in think tanks are positive. Toward the end of the discussion, we raise the issue of whether donors should want think tanks to be as partisan and media-driven as they have become.

As with all non-profits that purport to serve a public function, think tanks have the luxury of defining success internally. A profit-seeking business ultimately has to answer to customers, but a non-profit only has to satisfy donors. For a think tank, the customer might be policy makers, and it could be that today's think tanks are not providing what policy makers could best use.

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COMMENTS (6 to date)
Daniel Kuehn writes:

This is interesting.

You might be interested in knowing that a CAP co-founder (Sarah Wartell) is the new president of the Urban Institute (where I was for five years and am still associated with intermittently).

The researchers, the board, and the executive office at the Urban Institute are all very serious about being a think tank, and not an advocacy organization. I think the decision to bring on Wartell was about more presence in the media, and not about turning into an advocacy organization (I think you can have the former without the latter) - still, it will be interesting to see how it turns out. I imagine Wartell understands this, and whatever happens there's a lot of institutional inertia at Urban that I think would prevent something like that.

Saliency writes:

"What can we do to make this a regular program that you look forward to every week?"

The content is interesting. If you continued to interview people of interest I would tune in each week.

Your productions values could be higher. I found the video to actually detract from the experience not add to it. That said I would still tune in if the content continue to be good.

OneEyedMan writes:

Watching things takes to long but I would definitely read a transcript if that were available.

Greg writes:


make this an mp3 like EconTalk so i can listen to this at the gym!!!

if you want to have successful podcasts what you ought to have are topics which are very interesting but not so obvious. What i really like about EconTalk is that i actually learn something every time because the guests are not straight forward CNN pundits but are a little off the beaten track.

also if you do this as a regular thing it ought to have a good website like econtalk, with a few links for the topics discussed and a few amazon links etc.

i am not really sure whats the point of making it a video instead of just offense intended but i don't really want to watch couple of middle aged men's heads bobbing up and down for an hour...

Greg writes:

i really like this because this is a proper conversation and not just an interview (like EconTalk, which is also great). and this is not a panel discussion with 10 minute replies, but a conversation where the participants just talk as much as they like.

what i would REALLY like to see is some kind of a long (2 hours at least) conversation between 3 or 4 experts on topics. like they used to have in the 1970s (late night sober+serious tv) before MTV.

of course there is no reason not to make this available as mp3, so i could listen to it at the gym.

1) make it way longer so the participants can really get stuck in
2) get people off the beaten track
3) have 3 or 4 guests
4) make this available as mp3

Dain writes:

I remember having a conversation on this issue with Jeffrey Friedman of the Critical Review Foundation, publisher of the journal of the same name. He was having a hard time maintaining donors in the face of competition from the relatively moralistic and passionate Mises Institute, among others. It's an anecdote, but it bolsters the idea that donors seek a clear, partisan agenda and little ambiguity (save for the amount needed to keep up appearances, perhaps).

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