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Think Tank “Truthiness”

By Alexander Russo — February 28, 2007 1 min read

The battle between think tanks and academic researchers over the issue of whose reports and research are more trustworthy continues this week in EdWeek, with a commentary (Truthiness in Education).

Written by the folks who started the Think Tank Review Project, the commentary points out: “At a time when America’s education policymakers have nominally embraced the idea of tying school reform to “scientifically based research,” many of the nation’s most influential reports are little more than junk science..often written by people with little discernible expertise and invariably not subjected to peer review, these reports consistently end with a findings section that supports the ideological preferences of the research sponsor.”

My view is that, while academic researchers need to clean up their own house (in terms of relevancy, rigor, & political bias) and there are some problems with the review project, think tanks need to consider whether they undermine themselves in the long run by putting out so many sometimes low-quality reports and trying to be both dispassionate researchers and influential opinion leaders. As I’ve written before, it’s hard to do both well.

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