RECOBIA - Reduction of Cognitive Biases in Intelligence Analysis

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By Toby Macdonald
BBC News
24 February 2014
With every decision you take, every judgement you make, there is a battle in your mind - a battle between intuition and logic. And the intuitive part of your mind is a lot more powerful than you may think. We may not be able to change ourselves, but by being aware of our cognitive limitations, we may be able to design the environment around us in a way that allows for our likely mistakes.
by Matthew Harwood
February 8, 2014
Al Jazeera America

With NSA overreach, nobody is safe from confirmation bias. When investigators have mountains of data on a particular target, it’s easy to see only the data points that confirm their theories — especially in counterterrorism investigations when the stakes are so high — while ignoring or downplaying the rest. The case of Brandon Mayfield cruelly illustrates this reality.

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Price Action Lab Blog 
By Michael Harris
January 19, 2014
Focusing on what is perceived as important is the cardinal mistake of most technical analysts. Normally what is overlooked may be equally or even more important. Usually what is more important is very hard or impossible to see.There are at least three cognitive biases involved when such naive technical analysis is performed: (a) selective perception, (b) confirmation bias and (c) survivorship bias.


According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2013? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 20 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 600), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on Jan 10, 2013,  and is the #11 most viewed of the year.


The human brain is capable of 1016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any computer currently in existence. But that doesn't mean our brains don't have major limitations. The lowly calculator can do math thousands of times better than we can, and our memories are often less than useless — plus, we're subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions.

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By K. Wheaton
19 November 2013

In a world where the majority of analysts are bi- if not multi-lingual, the question of how language affects both the analytic process and analytic product is an important one. Emotion, language processing and cognitive biases aside, the intriguing question remains: Would you make the same decision in English as you would in, say, Chinese? Most analysts would likely answer yes to this question, but recent research led by Boaz Keysar out of the University of Chicago suggests otherwise. The study, published in Psychological Science, concludes that “people are not as loss averse in a foreign language as they are in their native tongue".

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By Jay Mooreland
September/October 2013 Issue
This article evaluates the recent problems at the national retailer J.C. Penney and how behavioral biases may have influenced poor decisions that led to the problems. Mr Johnson's -  CEO of J.C. Penney - decisions were influenced by three basic behavioral biases. This article review the biases that influences Mr Johnson' s executive decisions and demonstrate how those same biases influence investors. These biases are cognitive in nature, meaning they influence how we think and analyse situations. The good news is the influence of these biases can be reduced, or perhaps eliminated, through recognitions and education.
by Maurice Ewing
HBR Blog
October 31, 2013
By now it’s generally accepted that if senior leaders suffer from cognitive biases their decisions can severely undermine company performance. Yet, leaders are not the only members of organizations that exercise poor judgment: Non-leaders are sometimes irrational too. Bearing this in mind, it is imperative that strategy-setters make explicit allowance for just how cognitively fragile their employees might be – or else they risk not fully understanding why their “perfectly rational” strategies don’t work.

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November 4, 2013
Mercyhurst University intelligence studies
Presentation of the Mind's lies game, a game-based approach that actively engages participants in identifying and mitigating biases using realistic scenarios.
The Oklahoman
by Silas Allen
15 October 2013

The game, called Macbeth, gives players a group of suspects and information to help decide who committed the crime. The player guides agents as they collect information, and then decides whether that information was affected by certain types of cognitive bias. The game is already getting interest from several federal agencies. Although Macbeth was designed with the intelligence community in mind, the developer of the game said the same model could be used in other areas.

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Source: Business Insider
Date: 23/08/2013

People aren't as rational as we would like to think. From attentional bias — where someone focuses on only one or two of several possible outcomes — to zero-risk bias — where we place too much value on reducing a small risk to zero — the sheer number of cognitive biases that affect us every day is staggering. Understanding these biases is key to suppressing them — and needless to say, it is good to try to be rational in most cases. How else can you have any sort of control over investments, purchases, and all other decisions that you make in your life?

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