chapter  5
Barriers to Analysis
ByCarl J. Jensen, David H. McElreath, Melissa Graves
Pages 24

Analysis must be unbiased and free from political considerations. While every analyst will acknowledge this goal, analysis often falls short of the mark. Why is this? There are both psychological and bureaucratic reasons. In the first place, humans spend a great deal of time engaged in “fast” decision-making, in which facts are often disregarded and personal perceptions shape the framing of reality. Group decision-making sometimes improves this, but not always. Psychologist Irving Janis conducted significant research into “Groupthink,” where groups engage in sub-optimal analysis because of pressures inherent in social interactions. Finally, some policymakers will reward analysts who tell them what they want to hear while punishing those who provide intelligence that does not support their desired courses of action. Like the young boy who told the emperor he was not wearing clothes, analysts must often display a great deal of personal courage when they deliver “bad news.”