Well that is pretty much it - I don’t really get the concept of a think tank and why people would pour millions of dollars into them. I’m aware they influence policy etc. but when some dude says “I work for a think tank” what the heck doe he do all day long. Think?
I just wanted to chime in and say that this is a question that I always forget to ask. It seems very non-obvious how you could generate money simply producing ideas where the end consumer isn’t even clear.
Where do they get their money from?
Why does the source give it to them?
What is their short-term goal?
Do people literally get paid to think about a problem or is there some common methodology?
What are their end products?
The original concept was that educated people, from diverse fields of expertise would be supported in order to encourage them to develop new ways of examining old questions. That brought about new answers that helped develop at least new insights into our social, and technical and even religious thinking.
However, it became a lot more common to gather influential people of similar ideological beliefs, and have them try to find ways of making their own opinions seem more important, and more politically desirable. The money comes from the same sources that drive our entire political system. Legalized bribery is the cornerstone of our system. Think tanks pay for themselves by providing billions of dollars in benefit, and even direct payments to people who are in positions to spend other people’s money.
Like them or not don’t underestimate the power of politically oriented “think tanks”. A lot of competing political notions and ideas about the way US society needs to be run had their genesis and incubation in think tanks.