Insights: Other

Not Even Intelligence Analysts Expected the Spanish Inquisition

This link is meant to make intelligence analysts feel a little better about their predictive skills. If there’s a profession renowned for failure to make accurate analysis of forthcoming events, then the profession of economist come top of the class as this article describes. As an aside, one of the authors discussed in the article…

Network Visualisation: Flows

I’m not obsessive* about Big Pharaoh’s network chart of Middle East relations, despite this being the third in a series of blog posts which might indicate otherwise. Here’s a visualisation of support flows created in Palantir and then converted into a .gif image. Apologies for the poor quality and small image size. The lines without…

Love, Hate and Network Analysis

Looking at The Big Pharaoh’s network diagram again, I began wondering if the tools of network analysis could be deployed to make more sense of it. One of the useful capabilities within many social network analysis (SNA) tools is visual clustering – the ability to show entities which are similar (based either on properties of…

The Nature of the Link

On 22nd August last year, the following letter appeared in the Financial Times: Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad! Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi. But Gulf states are pro-Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood! Iran is pro-Hamas, but Hamas is backing…

Correlations, Causality and Complexity

Did you know that people who live in flat areas of Europe are statistically more likely to vote for right-wing candidates? This is one of the interesting correlations thrown up by research reported in this Economist blog. It’s not without some fairly significant limitations, as the commentary beneath points out, but it’s interesting nevertheless. What…

Intelligence Analysis, Chimps & Hammers

There’s an old adage that states that “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. It’s sometimes known as ‘Maslow’s Hammer’ or ‘the Law of the Instrument’, but perhaps the most entertaining variant is the use of the term “Birmingham Screwdriver” to describe a sledge-hammer. Sure enough, if you’ve just spent the…

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…

Wot can we lern about inteligense from books?

Intelligence  Analysis and Reporting is an excellent website for finding books on intelligence related matters. It’s not flashy, but it is very functional, with an excellent index and lots of reviews. Top Tip: Use it in conjunction with Abebooks to find your loved-ones a better* alternative to socks this Christmas, for a fraction of the…