By David T. Moore
Analysts and analysts alone create intelligence. Although technological marvels assist analysts by cataloging and presenting data, information and evidence in new ways, they do not do analysis. To be most effective, analysts need an overarching, reflective framework to add structured reasoning to sound, intuitivethinking. "Critical thinking" provides such a framework and goes further, positively influencing the entire intelligence analysis process. Analysts who adopt critical thinking stand to improve their analysis. This paper defines critical thinking in the context of intelligence analysis, explains how it influences the entireintelligence process, explores how it toughens the art of intelligence analysis, suggests how it may be taught, and deduces how analysts can be persuaded to adopt this habit.
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Additional resources for Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analysis (Second Edition)
Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, United States Senate, 108th Congress, 7 July 2004, 23. Cited hereafter as SSCI, Iraq. 23 Elder and Paul, Analytic Thinking,, 7. – 12 – Skill-Based Definitions Other approaches to defining critical thinking focus on the specific skills. For example, Diane Halpern considers that [critical] thinking is the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome. It is… thinking that is purposeful, reasoned, and goal directed – the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions, when the thinker is using skills that are thoughtful and effective 24 to the particular context and type of thinking task.
When the correct phenomena or questions – and related alternative explanations – are not fully considered, intelligence failures occur. For instance, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 19 Elder and Paul, Analytic Thinking, 7. 20 Robert Jervis, System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social Life (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 10. Cited hereafter as Jervis, System Effects. 21 Emile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1938), xlvii.
S. Intelligence Community before the former’s 1998 nuclear test. S. S. sought and was able to obscure them until after the test. Then, the Indian government boasted of its 11 success. Abduction forces a close consideration of the evidence at hand. ” Only then can an assessment of accuracy be determined. ” Despite their individual limitations, induction, deduction, and abduction taken together offer a means of thoroughly examining evidence in order to arrive at accurate intelligence conclusions.