Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Think Tank Panels - A Humorous Look

In his book The Beltway Bible, Eliot Nelson has a section in which he humorously describes think tank panels:

Ubiquitous sight inside the Beltway.  Navel gazing is one of D.C.'s most beloved pastimes, and it's no surprise that every week the city plays hosts to dozens - if not hundreds - of panels where its bottomless well of experts gather to impress each other.  Truly, these things are no less common a sight in the nation's capital that black Lincoln Navigators with tinted windows.
Panelists pontificate on roundtables dedicated to the challenges of updating the tax code in the age of hashtags, they ponder the future of dog-grooming regulatory regimes at the Brookings Institution, and they convene at the National Press Club and discuss the challenges restless leg syndrome poses to think tanks in the post-MySpace environment.  Most panel titles follow a similar blueprint, with a catchy statement or question followed by a description of the event - something along the lines of, "Right Tighty, Lefty Loosey?  Examining Knobs in the 21st Century" or "You Say, 'Potato,' I Say, 'Where's the Lactation Room?'  Updating OSHA Regulations for Today's Working Parents."
Though this theory has not been confirmed, it's entirely possible that panels are just excuses for people to have photos of themselves taken while striking a thoughtful pose behind a folding table.  Those things make for great Twitter bio photos, especially for people who don't have a TV appearance from which they can take a still from.

Check out all our past posts on think tank events (such as this one and this one), as Think Tank Watch has documented all the fun, fails, and follies of think tank events over the past years.  Here is more on Washington think tank events.