Structured responses to the limited capacity of both organisations and individuals to deal with ambiguity that is inherent to intelligence analysis are necessary to strengthen the ‘chains of inference’ or maximise the rigor of judgements. This essay will focus on overcoming cognitive and to a lesser extent, personal and organisational bias and limitations. Organisational issues that affect the quality of analysis such as analyst training are outside the scope of this short essay. Moreover, many of the high profile intelligence failures are attributable less to organisational obstacles than political or psychological barriers , . The human mind is necessarily vulnerable to cognitive bias in order to distil complexity for comprehension , but this results in several well-documented challenges to accurate intelligence analysis. The numerous challenges to the analytical process require structured methods to mitigate the vulnerabilities, thereby strengthening the chains of inference.
WHY THE CHAINS OF INFERENCE REQUIRE STRENGTHENING
“The circumstances under which accurate perception is most difficult are exactly the circumstances under which intelligence analysis is generally conducted – dealing with highly ambiguous situations on the basis of information that is processed incrementally under pressure for early judgment” .
An analyst must manage the personal and organisational barriers to critical thinking, surmounting a range of biases and limitations. There are three primary categories of bias and limitation to acknowledge and address – cognitive, personal and organisational . Inherent human infallibility persists in spite of acute awareness of the vulnerabilities and without structured methods to counter this, cr...
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...ation”. Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Centre for the Study of Intelligence. 1999. viewed Mar. 2010. https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/psychology-of-intelligence-analysis/art7.html
Heuer, Richards J. “Chapter 6: Keeping an Open Mind”. Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Centre for the Study of Intelligence. 1999. viewed Mar. 2010. https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/psychology-of-intelligence-analysis/art9.html
Heuer, Richards J. “Chapter 8: Analysis of Competing Hypotheses”. Psychology of Intelligence Analsysis. Centre for the Study of Intelligence. 1999. viewed Mar. 2010. https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/psychology-of-intelligence-analysis/art11.html
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