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Critical Thinking for Strategic Intelligence 2ed

by Katherine Pherson and Randolph Pherson CQ Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 408 pages
AU$103.00 NZ$106.96
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Pherson and Pherson return with a new edition of their highly regarded, easy-to-use handbook based on core critical thinking and analytic techniques. This indispensible text is framed around 20 key questions that all analysts must ask themselves as they prepare to conduct research, generate hypotheses, evaluate sources of information, draft papers, and ultimately present analysis, including: how do I get started? Where is the information I need? What is my argument? And, how do I convey my message effectively?


Drawing upon their years of teaching experience, Pherson and Pherson have made sure that the book is richly illustrated with useful graphics that diagram and display the processes and structured analytic techniques for arriving at the best possible analytical products, and a set of carefully crafted case studies at the end of the book tie directly to end of chapter questions, allow readers to self-assess. Also, each of the book's chapters are organized the same way, making it easy for analysts to trace the key steps: Setting the Stage Looking More Deeply Key Takeaways Considering the Case Study

Part I. How Do I Get Started?

1. Who Are Your Clients?

2. What Are the Key Questions?

3. What Is the Broader Context for the Analysis?

4. How Should I Conceptualize My Product?

5. What Is My Analytic Approach?

6. Can Collaboration Contribute to a Better Answer?

Part II. Where is the Information I Need?

7. How Do Models Help My Analysis?

8. What Types of Information Are Available?

9. Can I Trust the Sources?

10. How Should I Assess the Reliability of Internet Information?

Part III. What is My Argument?

11. Are My Key Assumptions Well-Founded?

12. Can I Make My Case?

13. Did I Consider Alternative Hypotheses?

14. How Do I Deal With Politicization?

15. How Might I Be Spectacularly Wrong?

Part IV. How Do I Convey My Message Effectively?

16. Is My Argument Persuasive?

17. How Should I Portray Probability, Levels of Confidence, and Quantitative Data?

18. How Can Graphics Support My Analysis?

19. How Do I Present My Message in the Most Compelling Way?

20. How Do I Know When I Am Finished?

Part V. Case Studies

I. Countering the Iranian Nuclear Threat: Stuxnet and Its Broader Implications

II. Puzzling Food Poisonings in Germany

III. The End of the Era of Aircraft Carriers

IV. Financial Crises in the United States: Chronic or Avoidable?

V. Yemen: An Expanding Security Threat?

"Pherson & Pherson’s Critical Thinking for Strategic Intelligence is the best example of applying critical thinking I've ever found. The book actually provides the "how to" do the things formatted according to the phases of the intelligence cycle other books present conceptually."
Katherine Hibbs Pherson, Chief Executive Officer of Pherson Associates, teaches and advises on the use of critical thinking skills and structured analytic techniques to intelligence analysts in the U.S. Government's Intelligence and Homeland Security Communities. Ms. Pherson and her company work directly with U.S. Government agencies and in partnership with a number of companies on strategic planning, security, and analysis projects for the U.S. Government. Ms. Pherson completed a 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in intelligence and security analysis and resource management in 2000. Her leadership in the security arena led to the adoption of a risk management methodology, the strengthening and the implementation of overseas security countermeasures, and improvements in dealing with unsolicited contacts. As head of the Director of Central Intelligence's Center for Security Evaluation, she managed the Intelligence Community's involvement in rebuilding the penetrated U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Ms. Pherson received her A.B. in Hispanic Studies from Vassar College, an M.A. in Spanish Linguistics and Latin American Studies from the University of Illinois, and an M.A. in Communications from the University of Oklahoma. She is a recipient of the CIA's Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal and the Intelligence Community's National Distinguished Service Medal.   


Randolph H. Pherson is president of Pherson Associates, LLC; CEO of Globalytica, LLC; and a founding director of the nonprofit Forum Foundation for Analytic Excellence. He teaches advanced analytic techniques and critical thinking skills to analysts in the government and private sector. Mr. Pherson collaborated with Richards Heuer in developing and launching the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses software tool, and he developed several analytic techniques for the CIA's Sherman Kent School, many of which were incorporated in his Handbook of Analytic Tools and Techniques. He coauthored Critical Thinking for Strategic Intelligence with Katherine Hibbs Pherson, Cases in Intelligence Analysis: Structured Analytic Techniques in Action with Sarah Miller Beebe, and the Analytic Writing Guide with Louis M. Kaiser. He has developed a suite of collaborative web-based analytic tools, TH!NK Suite(R), including a collaborative version of ACH called Te@mACH(R). Mr. Pherson completed a twenty-eight-year career in the Intelligence Community in 2000, last serving as National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Latin America. Previously at the CIA, Mr. Pherson managed the production of intelligence analysis on topics ranging from global instability to Latin America, served on the Inspector General's staff, and was chief of the CIA's Strategic Planning and Management Staff. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Medal for his service as NIO and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. Mr. Pherson received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in international relations from Yale University.