Page last updated: 2021-08-26 Thu 00:00

Notes on David T. Moore's "Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analysis"

Table of Contents

This is some NSA manual I found in my ~/pdf/dl directory. Below are just my interpretations of what I deem to be the most important things to be extracted from that book (I have not finished reading it yet though).

1 Definitions

Thinking (reasoning) - involves objectively connecting present beliefs with evidence in order to believe something else.

Critical Thinking - a deliberate meta-cognitive (thinking about thinking) and cognitive act. Involves reflecting on the thinking process and reasoning to a conclusion at the same time.

Two goals of critical thinking:

  • coming to a solution
  • improving the reasoning


  • specialized form of knowledge (which aids people's judgement and decision-making)
  • an activity (means by which data and information are collected, their relevance to an issue established, the information interpreted and disseminated to individuals and organizations who can make use of it)
  • an organization (directs and manages the above activities to create the above form of knowledge as effectively as possible)

2 Introduction

Inductive reasoning - moving from the specific to the general, "that something is probably true", suggests many possible outcomes, or the range of possible outcomes. No way of knowing whether a solution is correct.

Inductive reasoning: Case -> Result -> Rule

Deductive reasoning - moving from the general to the specific, addresses questions about adversarial behavior, intentions. Certain facts indicate specific outcomes. "that something is necessarily true"

Deductive reasoning: Rule -> Case -> Result

Abductive reasoning - reveals plausible outcomes to the intelligence analyst. When an adversary's actions defy interpretations through existing paradigms, abductive reasoning generates novel means of explanation.

Rule -> Result -> Case

Critical thinking - a framework to aid these types of reasoning, to assess the Rules, the Cases, and the Results and their appropriate usage

3 What Is Critical Thinking?

Elements of Thought:

  • Purpose of thinking (why examine the issue?)
  • Question at issue (what is the issue at hand?)
  • Evidence (what relevant data, experiences are needed for assessment?)
  • Inferences & Interpretations (what can be inferred from the evidence?)
  • Concepts (what theories, definitions, axioms, laws, principles, or models underline the issue?)
  • Assumptions (what presuppositions are being taken for granted?)
  • Implications & Consequences (what might happen? what does happen?)
  • Points of view (what other perspectives need consideration?)

Standards for Critical Thinking

  • Vague vs. Clear
  • Innacurate vs. Accurate
  • Imprecise vs. Precise
  • Irrelevant vs. Relevant
  • Shallow vs. Deep
  • Narrow vs. Broad
  • Illogical vs. Logical
  • Trivial vs. Significant
  • Unfair (biased, opinionated) vs. Fair

Competencies of Critical Thinkers

  • Recognizing problems/questions, finding effective means of solution
  • Engaging in meta-cognitive activities identifying biases, assumptions, performance as solutions are developed
  • Interpreting data, appraising evidence, evaluating statements to recognize logical relationships and connections between prepositions
  • Inferring warranted conclusions and generalizations from evidence
  • Testing above by seeking out contradictory evidence enabling one to judge the credibility of claims
  • Conveying sound, well-reasoned arguments
  • Focusing on the process of reasoning with the intention of improving the process