But that was not the case this week when prolific think tanker Justin Wolfers, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, lashed out at Michael O'Hanlon, a well-known security and defense scholar at Brookings, for writing about a subject he admittedly is not an expert in: vaccines and autism.
Following are the Tweets that Wolfers wrote:
Dear @Brookings Time for quality control: Why publish a foreign policy scholar's musings on the autism-vaccine link? http://t.co/4tAlD2Rrvh— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) September 29, 2015
Serious scholarship built @Brookings' reputation. A foreign policy guy rambling about vaccines destroys it. Why do this? cc @strobetalbott— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) September 29, 2015
Here's a hint. Anytime you feel the need to offer the qualifier "I am not an expert," you should probably not offer your "expertise."— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) September 29, 2015
Here is the paper in question that O'Hanlon wrote on autism/vaccines. In it, he notes that he is the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, but also says he is not a scientist in the field of biology or medicine.
So, should a think tank scholar to able to publish pieces on subjects that they are not experts in?
It seems that Wolfers does not worry an ounce about upsetting Brookings or his colleagues, probably because he is affiliated with numerous other think tanks - including five of the top 10 economic think tanks.
But, just for a littler entertainment, Think Tank Watch would love to see Wolfers and O'Hanlon settle the score at the Brookings Fight Club.