Shades of gray: releasing the cognitive binds that blind us
Hensley, Patrick D.
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The United States Intelligence Community is tasked with providing the intelligence necessary to protect the homeland and U.S. interests abroad. Technology acts as a force multiplier for intelligence analysts, but that advantage also comes with substantial risk. The risk lies in our reliance on technology and processes, and the tradecraft of intelligence analysis and critical thinking appears to be losing relevance. During the intelligence analysis process, weak signals are often identified and then dismissed. In hindsight, these weak signals are realized as missed opportunities that could have allowed the Intelligence Community to mitigate the threat. This research examines cognitive bias from multiple perspectives and affirms that cognitive bias does influence intelligence analysis, and intelligence analysts need to understand the effects of cognitive bias. This research presents a recent case study and determines the negative influences of those biases had an impact on the decisions that were ultimately made in error. As a result of this research and analysis, several mitigation strategies are identified and included as recommendations to the Intelligence Community. These strategies present the United States with an opportunity to decrease the influences of cognitive bias on intelligence analysis, leading to a more effective and resilient Intelligence Community.
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