Saturday, May 2, 2009

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis

I recently came across a book written for Intelligence Analysts in the CIA. After reading just the introduction and the a couple of chapters I can tell it will be the subject of several (many?) future posts. Although this book by Richards Heuer, Jr. is directed towards the analysis of what I call "soft" information, it is equally useful for scientists and engineers working with more concrete (or simple) evidence.

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis is available on-line. There is also a 2006 version available .

This book is about avoiding pitfalls when analyzing information and looks like it will address the topic from a higher level. In Chapter 2 Heuer already addresses the issues of simple evidence and confirmation bias. Heuer points out that "We tend to perceive what we expect to perceive" It is easier to notice data that already fits into our mind-set and is similar to what we already know. This is a little different than perceiving what we want to perceive which I think is a little easier to recognize and avoid.

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