Review: Intelligence Analysis – Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations

5 Star, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Information Operations, Intelligence (Government/Secret)
Amazon Page

Baruch Fischhoff and Cherie Chauvin (eds.)

5.0 out of 5 stars Insider/Academic/Psychology Overview, Avoids the Negatives,July 25, 2011

First off, this book is not being offered by Amazon but rather by third party sellers seeking to leverage public ignorance. The book is available for $70 instead of $130 at National Academies Press, where it is also available for free by the chapter–every chapter–which gladens my heart. That is how it should be, and earns the book a fifth star despite the rather narrow view offered by the insider/academic authors in the aggregate, all focusing on the psychology of intelligence analysis.

Any US book on intelligence analysis that fails to include work from Jack Davis, Carmen Medina, Michael Andregg, and Andy Shepard is immediately suspect. Since Look Inside the Book is not available, below I reproduce the chapters and authors, with a very strong recommendation that the book be examined at National Academies Press and bought there or here–for those who have Amazon accounts, the extra cost is probably negligible, but needs to be pointed out.

Part I: Introduction
1 Analysis in the U.S.Intelligence Community: Missions, Masters, and Methods–Thomas Fingar
Part II: Analytic Methods
2 Operations Research and Intelligence Analysis–Edward H. Kaplan
3 Applications of Game Theory in Support of Intelligence Analysis–Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
4 Use of Signal Detection Theory as a Tool for Enhancing Performance and Evaluating Tradecraft in Intelligence Analysis–Gary H. McClelland
5 Qualitative Analysis for the Intelligence Community–Kiron K. Skinner
Part III: Analysts
6 Individual Reasoning–Barbara A. Spellman
7 Intuitive Theories of Behavior–Hal R. Arkes and James Kajdasz
8 Group Processes in Intelligence Analysis–Reid Hastie
9 Social Categorization and Intergroup Dynamics–Catherine H. Tinsley
Part IV: Organizations
10 Communicating About Analysis–Baruch Fischhoff
11 Structuring Accountability Systems in Organizations: Key Trade-Offs and Critical Unknowns–Philip E. Tetlock and Barbara A. Mellers
12 Workforce Effectiveness: Acquiring Human Resources and Developing Human Capital–Steve W. J. Kozlowski
13 Implementing Change: Organizational Challenges–Amy Zegart

Every chapter is marvelous and authoritative. Where the book falls short is in its failure to come to grips with the reality that intelligence analysts today, whether in governments or in corporations, are generally deaf, dumb, and blind, badly led, forced to wear blinders, and generally not at all empowered with substantive desktop or back office analytic tools, budgets for external support, travel, and interaction, and so on. No one in the US Government is being held accountable for wasting $80 billion a year to produce “at best” 4% of what a major commander or policy or acquisitions leader needs, and nothing for everyone else. The corrective or remediation trilogy, is free online at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, and consists of two articles and a monograph: “Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else,” “Fixing the White House and National Intelligence,” and “Human Intelligence (HUMINT): All Humans, All Languages, All the Time.”

Put in a reflexive sort of way, how analysts analyze cannot be addressed without first coming to grips with garbage in–the average analyst does not speak the language, has not lived in the culture, knows virtually no one across any of the domains being analyzed, and is more often than not ignored by all policy makers, acquisition managers, and operational commanders. It is in that context that I point to Baruch Fischhoff's briefing online of 22 September 2008, “Mobilizing for Effective Decision-Making,” a truly remarkable 53 page presentation that makes provision for mediocre and corrupt sources and methods coming in, and totally inattentive if not contemptuous consumers on the output end.

The book could easily be expanded and offered in a second edition, or complemented with a second volume that integrates multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making (M4IS2) practitioners. A solid book from a US-centric, secret-centric, “assume the collection is good and complete” perspective, the book falls short in the larger context.

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