Intelligence (military, etc.)
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Intelligence (not the IQ sort) is one form of applied critical thinking. Intelligence analysts are in the evidence business, and it is important that they get it right.
Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, by Richard Heuer, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency
A useful guide to critical thinking in the light of insights from cognitive psychology about how human thinking goes wrong. Despite the title, the book has little essential connection to intelligence analysis; it is really just about thinking in general.
A Compendium of Analytic Tradecraft Notes
CIA-produced guide to good practice in producing and delivering intelligence. Lots of good material here for the intelligence analyst wanting to improve critical thinking, or the critical thinker interested to learn more from intelligence analysts. [3 Jun 03]
Selective Intelligence by Seymour M. Hersh
Discusses how "the Cabal," a small group in the Pentagon, dominated intelligence in the lead-up to the 1993 Iraq war, including promoting the view that Iraq had extensive WMD, weapons which (at time of writing) have not been found. Contains interesting insights into the nature of intelligence and the kind of political and bureaucratic forces which can corrupt it. [9 May 03]
Connecting the Dots: The paradoxes of intelligence reform by Malcolm Gladwell
Essay on the intelligence so-called failures leading to 9/11. Two themes stand out: hindsight bias, whereby something which we know to have happened looks much more easily predictable in retrospect than it did prior to the event; and the conflict between the need for competition on one hand and sharing on the other between intelligence agencies. Not Gladwell's finest moment - in my opinion Gladwell is rather too forgiving of the intelligence bureaucracies - but interesting nevertheless. [5 Mar 03]
Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong by Kenneth M. Pollack
Very perceptive discussion of one of the greatest and most widespread intelligence blunders of our time. A fascinating blend of history, social psychology, and practical recommendations. "Context is crucial to understanding any intelligence assessment. No matter how objective the analyst may be, he or she begins with a set of basic assumptions that create a broad perspective on an issue; this helps the analyst to sort through evidence...In the absence of hard evidence, the intelligence analysts tended to fall back on the underlying assumptions they had begun with." [12 Jan 04]
The Odds of That by Lisa Belkin
What are the odds of that? Well, actually, considerably higher than you think... A fascinating essay describing our cognitive biases in thinking about coincidences, and relating those topics to terrorism and conspiracy theories. "Most often, though, coincidence is a sort of Rorschach test. We look into it and find what we already believe." [10 Aug 02]
This page last updated: 20 Jun 2007