May 4, 2017

One More Question with Dan Drezner

Dan Drezner, senior fellow on public opinion and foreign policy for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, discusses the positive and negative impacts of a more open ideas industry. 


"The thing I'm writing about with the ideas industry is, where do I think good foreign policy ideas can come from and the answer is they can come from anywhere, potentially. That s one of the more interesting things about the sort of new kind of ideas industry, the barriers to entry have been lowered considerably. So, you don't necessarily have to work at a prestigious university or at a high-powered think-tank to have your opinion, potentially, be out there, and be read by a lot of the public, or be read by key policy makers. The question I want to ask is, that, when ideas are introduced to what extent are they properly evaluated and assessed, and that's the key part in the part where I'm a little worried about the state of the ideas industry. Because, while I think the barriers to entry have gone down, unfortunately the barriers to exit have gone up. By which I mean stupid ideas don't die in foreign policy; they kind of live on in a zombie-like status only to be revived later when some people have occasionally forgotten why they didn't work previously, and that's my real concern. That, for the marketplace, for ideas to function properly you want to actually be able to have interesting ideas come from a whole variety of sources, but you also want to have public intellectuals that are able to criticize and assess those ideas to within an inch of their life, and that's the part of the ideas industry that I think, unfortunately, has been weakening over the last couple of decades, and that's the problematic aspect to the book. "


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