Hunt Lab Training

The Hunt Lab provides professional development services focusing on building analytic capability.

We are working on a comprehensive suite of short courses covering the central analytic concepts and skills possessed by top-quality analysts.

Our courses focus on the essence of good analytic thinking. They are intended to complement and extend lower-level or technical training offered in-house or by other providers. Read more about our current training offerings below or contact us to discuss possible collaborations.

Advanced Analytic Rigour

Analytic rigour is essential for well-reasoned, trustworthy and high-impact analytic products. This course teaches a new and efficient method for evaluating analytic rigour called the Reasoning Stress Test that was developed with funding from the US Intelligence Community. In collaboration with the Australian National Intelligence Community, The Hunt Lab has developed training on the Reasoning Stress Test method that is delivered multiple times a year for intelligence managers from a range of organisations. Participants learn how to identify the different types of reasoning used in intelligence analysis, and the most important and common reasoning flaws. The Reasoning Stress Test methodology was formulated by Hunt Lab researcher Ashley Barnett and is based on extensive archival research on the types of arguments used in intelligence analysis. Participants will practice applying the Reasoning Stress Test method to declassified analysis, gaining an understanding of how the method can be applied to real products. Reasoning stress test evaluations are used to construct clear, precise, and actionable feedback. Additionally, the course provides participants with concepts and skills that will help them promote analytic rigour within their organisations.

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Making the CASE

This one-day introductory workshop covers fundamental principles of reasoning on any topic, with a focus on how to make a case in in short written products such as memos, sections of reports, or policy proposals. It uses the CASE approach, a form of argument mapping developed over decades of teaching and research at universities and with major organisations. The CASE approach helps analysts organise their thoughts, identify and correct assumptions and flaws, and present their reasoning in a clear and compelling manner. This is not a generic writing program, but rather training in developing and presenting reasoning, adapted to the context of the organisation with real or realistic examples and exercises.

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Recognizing and Managing Disinformation and Influence

From vaccination and climate change to national elections and COVID-19, conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation can spread like wildfire in new social media ecosystems. The Hunt Lab offers a number of training packages, developed by Dr Morgan Saletta, regarding disinformation and malicious influence. These include:

  • The Melbourne MicroCert in Recognizing and Managing Disinformation is ideal for intelligence analysts, science communicators and other professionals seeking an indepth understanding of how disinformation impacts organisations, as well as the best practice skills needed to detect, assess, and counter it. This is a public version of a training package developed for and delivered though the Australian National Intelligence Academy. Participants who complete the online assessment will receive a micro-credential from the University of Melbourne, equivalent to ¼ of a University subject. If you are an organisation, we can work with you to tailor aspects of this training to your context, and can offer private cohort deliveries. For further information on tailoring options for organisations, contact Jane McAlear.
  • Recognizing and Managing Disinformation and Malicious Influence Workshops. Workshops are generally 1 day, but bespoke offerings can be negotiated.
  • Recognising and Managing Disinformation webinar series. This three-part webinar series introduces learners to disinformation as a global phenomenon that has proliferated in the fertile new communication ecosystems provided by social media, new technology platforms and their marketing and business models.

Deception: The art and science of how to direct people’s attention and thinking

Adversarial deception is a main challenge for intelligence analysis, significantly increasing the degree of uncertainty analysts must grapple with. This course explains some of the core principles of deception and how to detect it. It covers three main topics. 1) The illusion of attention, covering psychological findings and demonstrations illustrating how we persistently and erroneously think that we notice more than we do. 2) The many guises of misdirection, where participants will learn the different ways in which our thinking can be manipulated into accepting a false explanation or theory. 3) Detecting deception, which covers the critical thinking skills that can help us check for and recognise deception. Participants will also learn several magic tricks and other demonstrations of deception that require a practical mastery of the principles covered in the course. By the end of the course, they’ll appreciate former deputy director of the CIA John McLaughlin’s claim that “Magic and Intelligence are really kindred arts”.

Reasoning Stratagems: constructing well-justified, high impact arguments

Learn how to construct concise, precise, and cogent arguments. When presenting an argument, it often seems that there is a tension between keeping it brief and adequately justifying the assessment. However, many arguments are needlessly verbose, confusingly structured, or poorly justified due to the author being unaware of how to explain how the reasoning works. Participants in this course learn how to distinguish between the different types of reasoning used in analysis and what they need to do to successfully establish a conclusion using these inferences. The course teaches not only the logical relationship between certain types of evidence and conclusions, but also how to clearly explain these relationships so the audience or reader can easily follow the reasoning. Participants will master these skills through practice with declassified historical products and more recent unclassified assessments. Some of the types of reasoning covered in this course are, 1) inference to the best explanation (i.e., abductive reasoning), 2) weighing causal drivers, 3) using indicators and signatures, 4) strategic calculations, 5) inferring generalisations from samples, 6) extrapolating trends, 7) appeals to analogy, 8) argument by elimination, 9) enumeration of causal pathways, and 10) corroborating sources.

Argument Mapping with Rationale: Building logical arguments using argument mapping software

An argument map is a way of visually representing the structure of the reasoning for an assessment or conclusion. This course teaches participants how to use specialist argument mapping software, called Rationale, developed by Tim van Gelder at the University of Melbourne. The software helps overcome cognitive limitations which can inhibit our analysis and evaluation of reasoning, and so can help people develop a deeper understanding of the reasoning that they read and write. By learning how to map arguments, participants will gain a better understanding of how arguments work and will be better equipped to formulate and clearly communicate their reasoning. Argument maps are useful for drafting, presenting, and reviewing arguments. And they can also be used to keep track of a debate, to help make sure all participants are ‘on the same page’. The course uses a training methodology which has been established through extensive research, as one of the best ways to teach reasoning skills including a course developed by the instructor, Ashley Barnett, and other experts for Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).


Detecting Flaws in Reasoning Melbourne MicroCert

A reasoning flaw is any type of issue with analysis that can undermine the justification for an assessment. Detecting and removing reasoning flaws improves the quality of assessments. Participants in this course will learn how to identify the most common and important reasoning flaws by using a taxonomy of flaws developed at the University of Melbourne in collaboration with the Australian intelligence community. Participants who complete the online assessment will receive a micro-credential from the University, equivalent to ¼ of a University subject.

Thinking with Probabilities (in development)

Uncertainty is inherent and unavoidable dimension of analytic work. This two-day workshop aims to help analysts and managers better assess, reason with, and communicate uncertainty in quantitative probabilistic terms. The workshop does not train analysts to be technical specialists in areas such as statistics and research methods, data science, or forecasting. Rather, it is a grounding in the most essential and practical aspects of probabilistic thinking for direct application in the kind of work most analysts do day-to-day.

Explanatory Reasoning (in development)

A common analytic task is identifying the most plausible explanation of some event (e.g., security breach, missile launch). In collaboration with US partners, the Hunt Lab has been developing a new framework (method and support software) to support analyst teams in complex explanatory reasoning. This two-day workshop will introduce analysts to the new framework, positioning them to deploy the framework on real problems, or more generally strengthening their understanding and skills in explanatory reasoning

Collaborate with Us

The courses listed above were developed in partnership with major organisations looking to address some fundamental challenges in analytic work.

We can work with you to develop focused and effective courses targeting specific analytic needs in your organisation.

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