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. Developed in collaboration with the Australian National Intelligence Community, the training is delivered multiple times a year for leaders of analytic teams from a range of organisations. Participants learn how to identify the most important and common reasoning flaws and how to avoid them. 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 practise 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. While primarily aimed at team leaders, this training is also beneficial for aspiring leaders and analysts who want to efficiently review the rigour of the products they read and write.

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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.

 

Detecting Deception

Adversarial deception is a main challenge for intelligence analysis, significantly increasing the degree of uncertainty analysts must grapple with. Uncovering deception is a key role of the intelligence analyst – whether they be in strategic all-source, military, law enforcement or intelligence collection roles. However, to efficiently evaluate deception, you need to understand how it works. This course explains some of the core principles of deception and how to detect it. It covers four main topics.

  • The illusion of attention – covering psychological findings and demonstrations illustrating how we persistently and erroneously think that we notice more than we do and how this illusion can be used to the deceiver’s advantage.
  • The many guises of misdirection – where participants will learn the different ways in which our attention and thinking can be manipulated and directed.
  • How to mislead a target’s explanatory reasoning – a detailed examination of how to subtlety plant clues and information so that the target will accept the intended false explanation or theory and believe that it is a well-supported judgement free from manipulation.
  • Detecting deception – which covers the critical thinking skills that can help us check for and recognise deception. Participants will be able to apply these deception detection techniques more effectively given their understanding of how deception works.

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Argument Mapping & Logic: constructing well-justified, high impact arguments

Argument Mapping and Logic is an in-depth examination of the structure of reasoning and how to clearly articulate the justification for an assessment. It’s often difficult to succinctly present the argument for a conclusion. However, many products are needlessly long or confusingly structured because the author is unsure how to explain the logical structure of their reasoning. Participants will learn essential critical thinking skills, such as how to analyse reasoning structure, distinguish between the different types of reasoning, formulate logical and well-structured arguments, and identify unstated assumptions. A deeper and richer understanding of the structure of argumentation makes it easier to present rigorous reasoning concisely.
The course uses a training methodology called argument mapping. It has been established as one of the best ways to teach reasoning skills through extensive research, including a course developed by the instructor, Ashley Barnett, and other experts for an IARPA research project. An argument map is a way of visually representing the structure of the reasoning for an assessment. The course uses specialist argument mapping software, called Rationale, developed by the Hunt Lab director, Tim van Gelder, at the University of Melbourne. 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.

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Introduction to Strategic Analysis

Introduction to Strategic Intelligence teaches concepts and tools for rigorously answering strategic questions and for making complex strategic situations intelligible. It provides an overview of fundamental skills, from how to formulate insightful questions to presenting clear and impactful assessments. It covers critical thinking and analytic reasoning, thinking about complex systems, forward projections, understanding adversaries, and opportunity analysis.

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Reasoning Stratagems for intelligence analysis

When people formulate or evaluate arguments, they often do so without being aware of what type of reasoning is being used. This “reasoning agnosia” makes it difficult to efficiently construct and evaluate argument. 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) understanding an adversary’s strategic calculations, 5) inferring generalisations from samples, 6) extrapolating trends, 7) appeals to analogy, 8) argument by elimination, and 9) corroborating sources.
 

 

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.

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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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