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BACK in school, whenever the topic of think tanks came up during discussions, the revered image that came to mind had been that of a distinguished group of bald and bearded men huddled around a table.

Admittedly, I have always held the idea of such in high regard and with deep respect, as even up till today, a strange fascination for this imagined group of individuals remained almost childlike, in a sense. To me, think tanks seemed like those types of secret societies that could only emerge out of Hardy Boys stories.

However, my reverent image of think tanks has become blemished when I later discovered that these have really been nothing but focus groups that pushed their own hidden agenda.

An American author, David Callahan had said think tanks, most common in the mid-50s, were originally created to offer objective analysis of complex issues, such as poverty alleviation and such. As it is, these somehow evolved into being used as workshops from where both the left and the right of ideological movements have brainstormed and fine-tuned their approaches.

In other words, as a means to influence the political landscape of the time, so-called think tanks have dressed up ideological propaganda as serious studies. An example of this could be seen in the depiction of Russia as evil or the Iron Curtain, and America as good, or the land of the free. In its general use, newer versions of think tanks came up with the development of intellectual “brands,” proving most useful in advertising and other marketing schemes, common tools of capitalism.

Thus, from its elite beginnings in some ivy league universities or some scholarly institution, think tanks and the concept of it had extended its seeds far beyond to other learned or interested agenda-laden groups and individuals, with the more prestigious ones backed-up and funded by corporate philanthropic foundations that push for a certain idea.

With the coming of the Internet, the reach of propaganda, or however one wants to call it, has become more significant so that truth can now be looked at and translated from so many angles. Sociologist WILL DAVIS in a treatise had said, “truth has become a kind of war zone that is not good at finding the truth.”

One now only has to pore through countless readings available on all existing social media platforms to know the scope of this seemingly endless information landscape. While there are those who maintain that it is still dialogue and consensus that determines the search for truth. In the end, there are those who favor a “weird fetish that, it is only conflict and debate that will win out in the end.

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