"Connecting the dots" is a cliché that has been used since the 9/11 disaster and refers, whether its users know it or not, to a failure of research and analysis. A good deal of ink has been spelled over how improve the dot connecting capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence System without really addressing the fact that analytic failure must be attributed to the actual people doing the analysis. So the real question is how can U.S. intelligence agencies improve the capabilities of their analytic work forces? There are of course a number of steps that can be taken to improve the quality of U.S. intelligence analysis and this book by David Moore provides some significant and valid ideas on this subject.
Moore has spent the better part of his career in the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) worrying over how to describe the processes involved in intelligence analysis and more importantly on how to improve them. This book is a distillation of some his findings as of 2007.
It should be immediately noted that this book is not an iteration of a set of mechanical steps that should be followed in the analytic process that will lead to the perfect intelligence product. It is not a "how to" book. Rather it presents a careful and largely accurate analysis (I use the word advisedly) of the analytic processes involved in producing intelligence. Moore understands that these processes are cognitive and involve such intangibles as curiosity, collation, objective reasoning, and skepticism. The book's title reflects Moore's belief that `critical thinking' is central to successful analysis. He understands critical thinking to mean the ability to simultaneously create a chain of reasoning and to objectively challenge the logic of that chain. Central to Moore's approach is his understanding of the simple fact that analysis is simply a particular way of thinking. This is why he argues that a good analyst is continually reviewing and challenging his/her own thought process as necessary to protect the integrity of the analytic process.
Moore is at heart a teacher and he has developed numerous courses on topics related to intelligence analysis, including critical thinking. He is also an excellent instructor.
Perhaps in the latest frenzy over "failures to connect the dots" the senior leadership of the IC ought to consider using this highly useful book to develop a more effective analytic work force.