Reasoning Backwards at the George C. Marshall Institute

In September 2001, the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank, appointed Matthew B. Crawford as its Executive Director. At the time, the think tank boasted that Crawford had "won numerous academic fellowships, including the Bradley Fellowship, The H.B. Earhart Fellowship, and the University of Chicago Century Fellowship; he was the John M. Olin Postdoctoral Fellow in the Committee on Social Thought." The think tank, which has long promoted the work of prominent climate change skeptics, claims that it provides "unbiased technical analyses on a range of public policy issues." However, Crawford recently wrote that "certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn't fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style -- that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning."