The Thoughtless Tank

I am mulling over an idea for a story set in a Think Tank.

I read an excerpt from Massimo Pigliucci’s book Nonsense on Stilts in the latest issue of Skeptic Magazine It is a critique of the Think Tank industry. He says that many Think Tanks have become advocates rather than providing independent advice.

A few years ago, I started to notice that trend. I also noticed that many “Think Tanks” were one-person operations. I even considered starting my own Think Tank because I felt that so many of their “research reports” were things that I could knock off in an afternoon. I came to my senses though.

I am now starting to see the potential for an interesting story along with some social commentary about Think Tanks. I can see a protagonist who is torn between the desire to advocate a position he believes in, and yet wanting to be intellectually honest. There could be conflict with others at the Think Tank as they pressure him to toe the party line. There could be internal conflict as he questions whether his has seen what he wants to see, and ignored reality.

One problem I foresee in writing this story is coming up with a suitable topic for the conflict to be over. If I pick a real topic, like global warming or terrorism, some people will take sides for or against the character depending on their views on the topic.

In The Spanish Prisoner, David Mamet never does reveal what “The Process” is. I think this story would have to do the same thing. However, just because David Mamet can do is successfully, doesn’t mean I can. I tried this approach in my short story Billy’s Big Discovery

I’ll need to let this idea brew for a while before I tackle it.

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