Think Tanks Only Work When People Are Allowed To Think and Have Credible Things to Say

There are lots of Think Tanks in the World, some say too many, others say not enough – those who say too many can’t keep track of them all or they are policy planners and don’t like dissenting opinions. Those who say there aren’t enough realize that the world has so many problems there is just too much work to do and not enough people deployed to do them. Then there are people like me who note that there are too many politically motivated thinking groups who have agendas and use their influence to grease the skids for their dictatorial policy direction. Yes, let’s talk shall we?

There was an interesting piece in CFR Council on Foreign Relations Online Magazine posted on September 28, 2015 titled; “China’s Think-Tank Great Leap Forward,” by Yanzhong Huang. The article noted that while China has many think tanks in many sectors of military, science, economics, and spanning many social issues, these groups are not turning out viable long-term strategies for China. One quote in the article was quite telling:

“In their book “Global Think Tanks” Wang Huiyao and Miao Lu argued that ineffective think tanks accounted for the high error rate (30 percent) in China’s economic policy making.”

The article goes on to state; “The absence of internationally reputable and influential think tanks in China can be attributed to the Soviet think tank management system. Imported by China in the 1950s, the system nested the few think tanks in the party-state apparatus. Researchers in these think tanks were thus no different from state employees in other sectors except that they were advising the government on policy matters,” but the authors of this article did note that things have changed since the 1980s, but still lack the ability to forecast and plan properly.”

It turns out that those who can best guess the future are the ones who are creating it. No one who is only a mere observer does very well when projecting out prediction 10-years out. Public Policy thinking groups seem to do well when making futurist predictions 3-5 years out and some have 80-90% accuracy rates. Please view this YouTube Video; “Arthur C Clarke predicting the future in 1964,” to best understand why this is. What Arthur C Clarke said about predicting the future in 1964, 50-years ago, is very similar to the realities today – people like Ray Kurzweil of the Singularity Institute would back him up in his comments in the present period as accurate still.

Those groups that make public policy really need to consider what they are doing and why – if they are just trying to prove themselves right today, they will generally be wrong tomorrow. Think on this.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Future Concepts. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank; http://www.worldthinktank.net

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