GEOG 885
Advanced Analytic Methods for the GEOINT Professional

SGAM Step 4: Evidence


As stated earlier, much of geospatial intelligence work never departs the foraging loop (steps 1-4) and simply consists of extracting information and repackaging it without much actual analysis.

In assembling the evidence, list all the factors that may have an impact upon judgments about the hypotheses. Do not limit the factors to concrete evidence in the current intelligence reporting. Also, include all assumptions or logical deductions. These assumptions may generate strong preconceptions as to which hypothesis is most likely. Such assumptions often drive the final judgment, so it is important to include them in the list of "evidence."

First, list the general evidence that applies to all the hypotheses. Then consider each hypothesis individually, listing factors that tend to support or contradict each one. You will commonly find that each hypothesis leads you to ask different questions and, therefore, to seek out somewhat different evidence.

For each hypothesis, ask yourself this question: If this hypothesis is true, what should I expect to be seeing or not seeing? What are all the things that must have happened, or may still be happening, and that one should expect to see evidence of? If you are not seeing this evidence, why not? Is it because it has not happened, it is not normally observable, it is being concealed from you, or because you or the intelligence collectors have not looked for it?

Note the absence of evidence as well as its presence. For example, when weighing the possibility of military attack by an adversary, the steps the adversary has not taken to ready his forces for attack may be more significant than the observable steps that have been taken. In the case of a business, some competitors like to leak information to the press to condition the market while others suddenly announce new offerings that take the industry by surprise. This recalls the Sherlock Holmes story in which the vital clue was that the dog did not bark in the night. One's attention tends to focus on what is reported, rather than what is not reported. It requires a conscious effort to think about what is missing but should be present if a given hypothesis were true.