#231: Think Tanks
According to a report recently released by the Think Tanks and Civil Society Institute at the University of Pennsylvania there are 395 think tanks in DC (which is especially amazing to me when compared to the 17 think tanks in my home country). 395. If you made a plan to visit one each day, it would take you a year and a month to finish. Or, if you had started January 1 of last year you would be finishing up this Thursday. That’s incredible.
Undoubtedly a large part of the hundreds of think tanks DC supposedly has are small operations that nobody has ever heard of, and another big chunk is probably political/ideological groups passing as think tanks.
The report ranked think tanks according to criteria like “ability to recruit and retain elite scholars and analysts”, “overall output” and “media reputation.”
All of these are very important criteria. However, it is common knowledge that in DC an important part of a think tank’s reputation (or at least its ability to attract a young audience) is based on the quantity and quality of food provided at its events. On this important criterion all of the DC-based think tanks that made the “Top Think Tanks of the World” list would be screwed. The food at Brookings, the Carnegie Endowment, CSIS and the Wilson Center ranges from abysmal to non-existent.
Goes to show that if you are producing great research, you don’t need to lure people in with free sparkling water because (1) people will come to talk about great ideas and (2) the people that come to listen to people talk about great ideas presumably have good jobs and can afford their own food.
Both are needed, especially in a city that runs on interns during the summer, so good job everyone and special congrats to the organizations that made the top 10 list.