5. Review the documentation of assumptions and doubts expressed during the verification and authentication processes for evidence of unconscious and emotional bias patterns. What is Objectivity? THE PRINCIPLE OF OBJECTIVITY Objectivity pertains to how our judgment correlates to the external world, as it actually exists, regardless of our desires. Written in the context of intelligence doctrine, Objectivity requires us to evaluate all judgments for the deliberate distortions and manipulations due to self-interest. To understand Objectivity, we must define “external world.” The external world is existence apart from one’s self. Unfortunately, Existence, a metaphysical axiom, completely resists objective definition. With the exception of concepts referring to sensations and metaphysical axioms, every concept can be objectively defined and communicated in terms of other concepts. 93 The exceptions, sensations and metaphysical axioms, require ostensive definitions: To define the meaning of the color “blue,” for instance, one must point to some blue objects to signify, in effect: “I mean this.” . . . To define “existence,” one would have to sweep one’s arms around and say: I mean this.” 94 The Principle of Objectivity requires us to be the honest broker and messenger of that which exists and may occur. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Pitfalls that Limit Objectivity 62 —Mark Twain Both Accuracy and Objectivity are influenced and shaped by biases. Many people use the term Objectivity to mean freedom from bias. 95 This is incorrect; no judgments can ever be truly unbiased. Biases are inescapable, but their influence may be recognized and managed. 96 I will establish a clear line between the two principles by declaring that biases which limit accuracy are unconscious and the biases which limit objectivity are conscious and deliberate. Unconscious biases lead to misperceived data — a limiting factor of Accuracy, while conscious biases lead to the deliberate manipulation of data to support a pre-determined outcome — the limiting factor of Objectivity. 93 Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (New York: Mentor, 1979), 52-53. 94 Rand, 53. 95 Barzun and Graff, 174. 96 Jack Davis, “Combating Mindset,” Studies in Intelligence, 35, no. 4 (Winter 1991): 13-18.
Politicization. The Principle of Objectivity highlights the ambivalent relationship between the intelligence profession and its customers. On one hand, customers fear the possibility of politically “tainted” intelligence and adamantly support the primacy of independent and honest analyses. On the other hand, many customers also dislike their intelligence support because it has the potential to undercut policies, provoke public controversy, and reduce a decision-maker’s options. 97 Objectivity is a matter of integrity. Integrity dictates that intelligence professionals not pander to customers who want reinforcement of their beliefs and policies. Integrity also dictates that intelligence professionals freely and openly adjust assessments as new evidence provides additional pieces of the puzzle. Conclusions and hypotheses are always provisional, based on the best information available at the time. Institutionalization. Any hypothesis that provides the basis for a management decision becomes institutionalized, and as such, directly influences how new data are perceived. Expectations tend to replace detached observation, shape official policies, and draw bureaucratic supporters. Roberta Wohlstetter, Amos Perlmutter, and Abraham Ben- Zvi point to instances when analysts have creatively interpreted data so that they would not “rock-the-boat.” In the case of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. Army and Navy planners focused their efforts on Atlantic and European affairs and tended to ignore signals from the Far East. 98 In a slightly different twist, the failure to predict Egypt’s attack on Israel in October 1973 “was largely due to the intelligence community’s disregard for warning indicators because they contradicted finished intelligence that minimized the possibility of war.” 99 Toward Performance Standards for Objectivity Attaining a consistently acceptable level of Objectivity requires the disciplined use of a systematic method. Much of what we do to attain Accuracy also applies to Objectivity. The key is to focus on the judgments that arise during analysis. The following is a list of fundamental activities that can lead to honoring the Principle of Objectivity. 1. Employ a systematic and documented analytical method to establish consistency of judgment. 2. Develop and record a list of competitive hypotheses that explain the target’s behavior and decisions as viewed from the available evidence. 97Hans Heymann, Jr, “The Intelligence-Policy Relationship,” Studies in Intelligence, 28, no. 4 (Winter 1984): 61-64. 98 Wohlstetter, 701. 99Abraham Ben-Zvi, “Hindsight and Foresight: A Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of Surprise Attacks,” World Politics 28 (April 1976): 386; Amos Perlmutter, “Israel’s Fourth War, October 1973: Political and Military Misperceptions,” Orbis 19, no. 2 (Summer 1975): 453. 63