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01 June 2007

Also Not Intelligence, Economist edition

It seems that poor tradecraft and a lack of substantive depth do not only plague academic efforts at intelligence analysis. Even the most reputable of shops, such as the Economist Intelligence Unit, appear to be occasionally affected.

Unfortunately, it appears that this particular exercise was yet another in the long line of quantitative follies using methodologies borrowed from the international relations / political science tradition, where gross statistical formulations are used as a proxy for in depth analysis of issues.

The churning movement of data passing through the system does not equal relevance. The numbers do not lend greater credibility to a shallow effort. We understand that financial types have a bias towards hard figures, but stats are not always money.

This incident is frankly a damn shame. We have long held the EIU in high regard due to the quality of its work, and its longstanding contributions to the private intelligence field. Only Oxford Analytica has had a tenure as distinguished over such a long term of service. We hope that this is merely an aberration – after all, every shop has its bad calls some days.

h/t Instapundit

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