The Think Tank Mystery
Over at The Quick and The Ed, Kevin Carey riffs off a recent Malcolm Gladwell article in the New Yorker about the Enron investigation to make the point that analyzing and interpreting existing information (like the Education Sector does) is increasingly important in a world filled with lots of data but relatively little understanding. Carey's post (Mysteries, Puzzles, & Think Tanks) lays out an argument that is unusually elegant.
What he leaves out, however, is how difficult it is for think tanks to do good analysis and be influential on policy and advocacy at the same time. The two functions do not go well together, and outfits that try and do both -- or get the balance wrong -- are easily dismissed even if the underlying analysis is perfectly responsible.