Assessing Uncertainty in Intelligence

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Assessing Uncertainty in Intelligence

Citable link to this page


Title: Assessing Uncertainty in Intelligence
Author: Zeckhauser, Richard Jay; Friedman, Jeffrey Allan

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Friedman, Jeffrey A., and Richard Zeckhauser. 2012. Assessing Uncertainty in Intelligence. HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP12-027, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Full Text & Related Files:
Abstract: This article addresses the challenge of managing uncertainty when producing estimative intelligence. Much of the theory and practice of estimative intelligence aims to eliminate or reduce uncertainty, but this is often impossible or infeasible. This article instead argues that the goal of estimative intelligence should be to assess uncertainty. By drawing on a body of nearly 400 declassified National Intelligence Estimates as well as prominent texts on analytic tradecraft, this article argues that current tradecraft methods attempt to eliminate uncertainty in ways that can impede the accuracy, clarity, and utility of estimative intelligence. By contrast, a focus on assessing uncertainty suggests solutions to these problems and provides a promising analytic framework for thinking about estimative intelligence in general.
Published Version:
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at
Citable link to this page:
Downloads of this work:

Show full Dublin Core record

This item appears in the following Collection(s)


Search DASH

Advanced Search