Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Intelligence and Imagination

I often have conversations with students who claim to want to become intelligence agents (or analysts). More often than they will have been told that they should some something technical, something that would "prepare" them to be able to analyze; there must be some sort of information that they should get; there must be a scientific method to such a thing, they say, much like the study of accounting if want to be an accountant. I, of course, respectfully disagree. I talk with them about what they should study and why. David Brooks agrees with me:

I’ll believe the intelligence community has really changed when I see analysts being sent to training academies where they study Thucydides, Tolstoy and Churchill to get a broad understanding of the full range of human behavior. I’ll believe the system has been reformed when policy makers are presented with competing reports, signed by individual thinkers, and are no longer presented with anonymous, bureaucratically homogenized, bulleted points that pretend to be the product of scientific consensus.

Discussions - 3 Comments


This is also the great sendup in the film "Patton." The German intelligence analyst who has Patton figured out quotes history and literature to his confused superiors. Not taking him seriously they plod along digesting greedily every morsel of disinformation sent to them from U.S. and British intelligence. In a strange way "Patton" is the best film defense of the liberal arts that I have ever seen.

Onward and upward.


I tried to email some comments to Dr. Schramm, but apparently there was a problem with the final address, and it was rejected. Help???

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