Monday, February 09, 2004
'How spooks and Politicians get It wrong' is the them of a book by Richard Heuer profiled in the Observer on Sunday 8th. The entire text of The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis seems to be online.. Themes are:
Our Mental Mental Machinery
Tools For Thinking
Conclusions: Improving Intelligence Analysis
It all looks very like what I spent over a decade doing as an OU Associate Lecturer. Trying to get Open University students to write real essays. Basic intellectual frameworks of setting real questions, marshalling evidence for and against, distinguishing between arguments (evaluating and comparing evidence) from catalogues of supposed facts, and re-evaluating the original question in the light of the evidence and argument. The disciplines that move people to honours degree level work.
One quote from the book:
>>>New information is assimilated to existing images.
This principle explains why gradual, evolutionary change often goes unnoticed. It also explains the phenomenon that an intelligence analyst assigned to work on a topic or country for the first time may generate accurate insights that have been overlooked by experienced analysts who have worked on the same problem for 10 years. A fresh perspective is sometimes useful; past experience can handicap as well as aid analysis. This tendency to assimilate new data into pre-existing images is greater "the more ambiguous the information, the more confident the actor is of the validity of his image, and the greater his commitment to the established view."(Jervis 1976)<<<
Citation is to Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976).