If the use and abuse of evidence in policy debates concerns you, you might find Alan Monheit’s editorial in Inquiry stimulating. There’s a lot in it, including his litmus test for credibility.
My own litmus test for the credibility of such institutions involves the following questions: Are think tanks on the right ever willing to acknowledge instances in which the market may be inadequate in allocating resources or that government intervention in private markets may be a necessity? Are there circumstances in which taxes should be increased beyond supporting national defense and having the resources to respond to catastrophes? For more progressive research institutions, my test is just the opposite: Would they be willing to acknowledge the advantages of some market-based outcomes or to concede that a reduction in entitlement spending or tax subsidies may be required to enhance public welfare? From my perspective, partisan institutions that exhibit knee-jerk reactions to particular policy initiatives lose credibility as legitimate contributors to policy debates.
I have my own, related test. What’s yours? If you don’t have one, why not?
Monheit’s piece is ungated. I encourage you to read it and bring your thoughts back here for a discussion. All views welcome.