Improving the science of intelligence analysis
Intelligence analysis is frequently portrayed as a “connect the dots” exercise. However, this kind of simple analogy fails to illustrate the complexity of the process. In reality, intelligence analysis involves an adapted form of the scientific method, including to varying degrees induction, deduction, and abduction in the process of developing and then attempting to falsify hypotheses. Yet most intelligence analysis practitioners are not social science methodologists. Many may not even realize that analytic “best practices” are built on the framework of social science research practices. It turns out that intelligence analysis is more a qualitative than quantitative form of social science research. As the following section outlines, the intelligence studies literature clearly describes how analysts derive meaning from accumulated information according to the interplay of facts, hypotheses, and theory that make up an intelligence analyst’s approximation of social science methodology.