chapter  3
37 Pages

Thoughtless Think Tanks: Sound Bite Thinking About the History and Intent of Prevailing Wage Laws

Scholarship discovers facts. But we are living in the world of think tank scholarship. Too often, think tank scholars do not see their jobs as discovering facts. They see their job as creating factoids. Factoids are not facts, but are treated like facts. They are presented as facts. They are packaged in sound bites and are promulgated to, and by a credulous media. In the hands of unscrupulous editorialists and lobbyists, they are better than facts. They are factoids, a modern, easy to swallow substitute for the truth. In the world of think tank research on prevailing wage regulations, the classic factoid of the 1990s is this:

The Las Vegas Review Journal did not create this factoid. Nor did Mark Fischer. They bought it, hook-line-and-sinker, second-hand, from a think tank in Washington. This is a story about factoids, and the facts they cover up. Where did this factoid come from? How did it spread? What are the facts it covered up?