Psychology Of Intelligence Analysis Annotated: Linchpin Assumptions by Tropical Value Investing

This is the fourth of a series of posts that I try to lay down the most relevant lessons from the book  Psychology of Intelligence Analysis by Richard Heuer.

Linchpin Assumptions

  • “Analysts actually use much less of the available information than they think they do.”
  • “People’s mental models are simpler than they think, and the analyst is typically unaware not only of which variables should have the greatest influence, but also which variables actually are having the greatest influence.”
  • “When analysis turns out to be wrong, it is often because of key assumptions that went unchallenged and proved invalid.” Full article here 

Tropical Value Investing more on book below

Psychology Of Intelligence Analysis – Description

The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis has been required reading for intelligence officers studying the art and science of intelligence analysis for decades. Richards Heuer, Jr. discusses in the book how fundamental limitations in human mental processes can prompt people to jump to conclusions and employ other simplifying strategies that lead to predictably faulty judgments known as cognitive biases. These analytic mindsets cannot be avoided, but they can be overcome through the application of more structured and rigorous analytic techniques including the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses.

Psychology Of Intelligence Analysis – Review

Sometimes you can have too much data! 

Interesting study of how analysts dissect and attempt to create a coherent picture out of incomplete information, how they identify and correct for personal bias, etc. There is a very interesting description of study of horse racing ‘touts’ (handicappers) and how important the various tidbits of info are (such as jockey weight, horse race record, etc.). The study started with the touts using a small subset of the big data picture to bet on races, and gradually were given more and more information and continued to bet. Turns out that about 5 bits of data were all the touts needed, and that adding more data DID NOT improve their betting performance–it really was possible for the touts to have too much data. While this book is specifically written for the intelligence community, it has quite a few good ideas for anyone who needs to make critical decisions with incomplete information.

— By Scott A. Prost-domasky on December 1, 2015

A Must Read for Intelligence Analysts

I’ve been in the Intelligence Community for almost nine years. This was a great book for beginners and seasoned analysts alike. This book has great examples, great stories on experiments in analysis, practical tips, and good advice on how to improve intelligence. Even college professors who teach analysis cite from this book, and one even cited the method used in this book as the best one out there (reference […])

Read this book and you’ll get something great out of it that will make you a better analyst.

— By Francisco on January 8, 2009

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis by Richard Heuer

Psychology Of Intelligence Analysis by Richard Heuer