Information obtained for analysis may contain or be based on assumptions (ideas treated as facts but that are not yet supported by available evidence) that are not immediately obvious. On the other hand, the analyst might introduce, in the process of the analysis, assumptions that are mistakenly treated as evidence. Consequently, the analyst must have the capability to identify and challenge any and all assumptions, because they are very likely to be invalid or misleading.

The tendency to overlook or accept assumptions in an analysis might be related to biases introduced into the process, such as certain mind sets and expectations, but they can also be a function of simply not being attentive to their possible existence. The need to challenge assumptions arises mainly while organizing information into premises. Premises should be based on the evidence at hand, an effort that can be defeated by the inclusion of ideas and beliefs based on conjecture. Therefore, as a part of the premise formulation process, there should be a conscious effort to identify, challenge, and remove information that cannot be supported by the evidence at hand. This is an important analytical effort because the premises, once developed, provide the primary basis for hypothesis development.


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