The top 5 anti-science think tanks

Josh Rosenau is collecting nominations for the top 5 anti-science think tanks in America. Clearly the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Discovery Institute have a lock on two of the places, but which ones should fill the other three places?

Here in Australia, the IPA is the easy winner as the top anti-science think tank, with staff including Alan Moran, Sinclair Davidson, Jennifer Marohasy and Tom Switzer (opinion editor at The Australian for much of their war on science).


  1. #1 Bek
    December 24, 2008

    The Heartland Institute and SEPP have got to take two of the remaining 3 places.

  2. #2 MarkH
    December 24, 2008

    I would advise not forgetting that most all ideological groups will fudge the science. So don’t forget about focus on the family and IWF crapping on contraception and homosexuals with pseudoscience, or Jenny McCarthy and her ilk trying to green our vaccines through HEAL/Generation Rescue, or PETA suggesting milk causes autism and animal research doesn’t work, or whoever wants to believe whatever isn’t science.

    Limiting to think tanks does diminish the field, but you’re still working within the State Policy Network to find these guys for the most part in the USA.

    I’d say my rank list 1-5 would have to be Heartland, DI, CEI, AEI, and a 300-way tie for 5 including Cato, focus on the family, IWF, Reason, and any of those other libertarian jokers on the SPN site.

  3. #3 John Cross
    December 24, 2008

    I would throw in CO2 Science into the mix.

    Merry Christmas to everyone.


  4. #4 Ian Forrester
    December 24, 2008

    Here are four Canadian additions to the list:

    Friends of Science

    Natural Resources Stewardship Project

    Fraser Institute

    Frontier Centre for Public Policy

    The last group sent me an unsolicited copy of Singer and Avery’s book. I sent them a nasty e-mail in response.

  5. #5 Bill O"Slatter
    December 24, 2008

    Rebecca Weisser has replaced the execrable Switzer as opinion editor at the Murdoch Trumpet. Weisser did some excellent work on why DFAT failed to control the AWB ( similar to Overington), and perhaps she should direct her considerable sociological skills to understanding the Australian’s war on science , its encouragement of industry funded belief over science and her part in this Propaganda-Maschine.

  6. #6 Brian D
    December 24, 2008

    I’d like to suggest, as an honorable mention, the Maze of Twisty Little Think Tanks. (See Frank Bi’s blog for more; anything he labels “nexus” contains large numbers of think tanks and advocacy groups — occasionally 50 or more each!).

    They’re not exclusively anti-science (a few of the servers are more densely populated than others in this regard), and they are rather diffuse, hence why they’re only up for an honorable mention. They make up for anti-scientific quality with volume in both senses of the term.

    I would, however, like to note that both the Fraser Institute and CATO appear to have links into this maze.

    As for my votes to the anti-science top 5, I’d say Discovery Institute, CEI, Heartland, Fraser (if it qualifies, it may be considered Canadian), and any remnant of George C Marshall (since it seems to have been a granddaddy to antiscience movements almost as long as they’ve existed).

  7. #7 bi -- IJI
    December 24, 2008

    Thanks Brian D. :) Speaking of nexuses, the most interesting nexus to me is the IP address, which webhosts a number of ‘international’ think-tanks and the Tennessee “Al Gore is fat!” Centre for Policy Research.

    I’m guessing that the server itself really belongs to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, since it also owns a few other addresses in the IP subnet… though I don’t remember seeing it in the limelight a lot.

  8. #8 Hank Roberts
    December 25, 2008

    Going up to the level of the IP address/server, and correlating the Board of Directors lists and the funding sources, will simplify this.

    There aren’t that many baddies — just lots of fake faces.

    Why list finger puppets when you know it’s a sock puppet?
    Why list sock puppets when you know who’s inside them?

  9. #9 John Mashey
    December 26, 2008

    I don’t think this is a thinktank, but this Perth lady Jo Nova looks like another one for Oz:

    Anybody know her?

  10. #10 Paul
    December 26, 2008

    I think many of these groups should be labelled anti-change organisations.

    I don’t mean they are anti-change in a literal sense, but they are anti-change when it comes to anything that might undermine their established stance on issues important to their own survival or their supporters survival.

    Unions have the same sort of problem, in fact in many respects you could label them as a ‘union’.

    There are similarities between the fanatical anti-climate enthusiasts and some aspects of extreme Communism.
    Many of these fanatics want to close down the science institutes involved in climate change research because they don’t like the message being sent out from them. When you tell these anti-science fanatics they have Stalinist tendencies, they get pretty angry or they shut up.

  11. #11 bi -- IJI
    December 26, 2008

    > in fact in many respects you could label them as a ‘union’.

    I won’t call them unions: workers’ unions tend to actually comprise the workers they claim to represent, while members of think-tanks tend to be PR mouthpieces hired by industry players, rather than the industry players themselves.

  12. #12 Dano
    December 26, 2008

    Why list sock puppets when you know who’s inside them?

    Decision-makers need to know there are few voters out there who occupy the denialist fringe.

    Despite the small number, they are energetic and type many words a day, writing Letters to the Editor, blog comments (“GLOBUL WARMINS A SCAY-UM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), etc.

    So, pointing out the italicized has much value.



  13. #13 Lurker
    December 27, 2008

    The Hudson Institute – featuring the Avery twosome (Good thing Daddy Dennis could create a ‘career’ for lil Alex) – is always good for a laugh.

  14. #14 Dano
    December 27, 2008

    Hudson Institute – good one. I left them out of my top 5 list, but could easily drop someone and replace with Dennis and son Alex.

    The Averys have spread much FUD. Much FUD – industrial chemicals, GMOs, Andura Smetacek, Tyrone Hayes has been vindicated (but who in The Media will admit that vindication?).

    There is definitely a niche for someone to follow up on these vindications – more so that what Monbiot or Palast is doing, deeper than that…