This skill is closely related to two skills addressed earlier—consider alternative perspectives and counter biases, expectations, mind sets, and oversimplification. Seeking disconfirming evidence is an important component of efforts taken to develop and test alternative competing hypotheses and is done in the face of biases that work to impede such efforts. A particularly important influence, confirmation bias, affects the development of alternative hypotheses by tending to prevent the analyst from seeking information other than what is likely to confirm a favored explanation.

The skill, then, is the ability to seek disconfirming evidence, particularly in the testing of hypotheses, when the more natural inclination is to seek confirming evidence. This skill is applied to intelligence analysis mainly during the testing of hypotheses. Assuming that the analysis has been performed effectively to this point, the analyst has two or more alternative explanations for the information at hand; testing these alternatives requires the collection of additional information that will ultimately result in selecting the most valid or producing some composite that is the most valid. To overcome our built-in human tendency to seek confirming evidence, the analyst needs to learn the techniques and discipline of seeking disconfirming evidence during the hypothesis testing process.


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