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CIA Guide to Optimised Thinking

Complex situations are – by their very nature – difficult to understand. Compound this with the fact that in any given situation we’re all going to have cognitive biases that make us view situations differently and inaccurately, and you’re going to have a bit of a mess when it comes to thinking about and analysing difficult situations.

The CIA have released the full text of [Psychology of Intelligence Analysis;] a book on the psychology of analysing surveillance data. While aimed at the CIA’s analysts, it’s also a great general guide on how to understand complex situations and avoid our natural cognitive biases in reasoning.

A central focus of this book is to illuminate the role of the observer in determining what is observed and how it is interpreted. People construct their own version of “reality” on the basis of information provided by the senses, but this sensory input is mediated by complex mental processes that determine which information is attended to, how it is organized, and the meaning attributed to it. What people perceive, how readily they perceive it, and how they process this information after receiving it are all strongly influenced by past experience, education, cultural values, role requirements, and organizational norms, as well as by the specifics of the information received.

via Mind Hacks