Archive for: 2013

Keeping It in the Family – Public Communication Intelligence in History

The Bode family and the Willes family played a peculiar and crucial role within the British Intelligence community between 1732 and about 1844.  In Oliver Cromwell’s time the post of “Secret Man” in the Post Office was established in 1657 to open and examine suspicious letters of intelligence value. Communications interception by governments really isn’t…

The Lady and Her Damned Dog.

My apologies, this is one of my heavier blog posts.  David Hume (1711-1766) was a philosopher who has some interesting thoughts that I think may apply to the field of intelligence analysis.  He developed some interesting thoughts about human knowledge in a philosophical sense, some of which provoke ideas for today’s intelligence analyst. One of…

The Importance of Ignorance in Intelligence

Here’s a chewy subject. At IMSL we offer our analytical services to a range of markets. Although most of our in- house talent has been originally drawn from the military and police, we now have significant skill sets in other areas – money laundering, politics, healthcare, and a range of commercial stuff. So, how important…

R V Jones and “crowd-sourced” intelligence from WW2

I’m re-reading RV Jones’s description of British technical intelligence activities in WW2 “Most Secret War“, and was reminded of an excellent and innovative use of what perhaps today we would call “crowd-sourced” intelligence.  One of the projects Jones was responsible for was developing technical intelligence of German radar systems.  Some of these systems were relatively…

Mr Crosby, “AskInt” and Deception

There’s a nice story here, told by David Niven to Lady Diana Cooper about an innovative intelligence operation in WW2. I can’t vouch for its veracity of course but it’s a nice story.  It can be found in the book “Darling Monster“, the letters of Diana Cooper to her son, John Julius Norwich. The story…

Rumour has it

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking and reading hard about rumour and its relationship with intelligence. I think it’s quite important.  I’ve got a few blog posts on this to come but to start off, here’s some initial considerations which I hope you might find interesting. Rumour and intelligence overlap.  In some sectors…

Hanlon’s Razor

I’ve made my views about conspiracy theorists clear in a few earlier posts.  While not quite at the level of  conspiracy theories I have often seen intelligence analyses that assess certain actions as being malicious actions by individuals when the evidence is not there  I’ve seen it too in business. I think this is often…

I see your moustache and raise you a beard

Panjandrum, in the post below, makes an excellent point about what I think is a common cognitive bias in the intelligence world – that of framing ones views according to the dogma of others.   Interestingly there are others prior to Keynes and Einstein who recognised this very human flaw.  Sir Francis Bacon (yes, that…

Why do you think that?

In the course of a recent research project I stumbled across the following two quotes. My research has got nothing to do with how we develop ‘world-view’ and how this subsequently constrains our thinking, but it’s an interesting theme, and these quotes provide a neat juxtaposition: “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt…

Jokes for Intelligence Analysts: #1

There is an unfortunate stereotype regarding intelligence analysts – that we are humourless, data-obsessed and not prone to sparkling conversation. Like all stereotypes, there may be some small element of truth in it, but I will do my best to counter it with the following (analysis based) joke: —————————————————————– Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go…