From prediction to learning

Opening experts' minds to unfolding history

Richard K. Herrmann, Jong Kun Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although it would be nice if the intelligence community's tradecraft or the academic community's theories could predict the future, it is essential that international security experts learn quickly and accurately from unfolding history. This article reports on a multiyear study of experts dealing with security on the Korean Peninsula. It examines how experts learn and what can derail rational updating. Three factors common to much of the work in security studies contribute to the problem: the tendency to treat the intentions of other actors as unknowable private information that is beyond empirical examination; the inclination to believe that power provides a parsimonious explanation, even though it is multifaceted and dependent on numerous components; and the penchant for engaging in "factor wars" over which causal factors are most important while paying little attention to the cumulative and interactive effect of multiple factors. Collectively, these three factors produce overconfidence in hindsight and leave experts prisoners to their preconceptions. The article investigates in the Korean case whether translating narrative expert beliefs systems (i.e., theories) into Bayesian networks can open minds and promote more appropriate updating, and suggests that it can.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-161
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Security
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Mar 1

Fingerprint

expert
history
learning
international security
knowledge-based system
system theory
prisoner
community
narrative
examination

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law

Cite this

@article{f5c02a275a0c4f1284856e019d9fbb11,
title = "From prediction to learning: Opening experts' minds to unfolding history",
abstract = "Although it would be nice if the intelligence community's tradecraft or the academic community's theories could predict the future, it is essential that international security experts learn quickly and accurately from unfolding history. This article reports on a multiyear study of experts dealing with security on the Korean Peninsula. It examines how experts learn and what can derail rational updating. Three factors common to much of the work in security studies contribute to the problem: the tendency to treat the intentions of other actors as unknowable private information that is beyond empirical examination; the inclination to believe that power provides a parsimonious explanation, even though it is multifaceted and dependent on numerous components; and the penchant for engaging in {"}factor wars{"} over which causal factors are most important while paying little attention to the cumulative and interactive effect of multiple factors. Collectively, these three factors produce overconfidence in hindsight and leave experts prisoners to their preconceptions. The article investigates in the Korean case whether translating narrative expert beliefs systems (i.e., theories) into Bayesian networks can open minds and promote more appropriate updating, and suggests that it can.",
author = "Herrmann, {Richard K.} and Choi, {Jong Kun}",
year = "2007",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1162/isec.2007.31.4.132",
language = "English",
volume = "31",
pages = "132--161",
journal = "International Security",
issn = "0162-2889",
publisher = "MIT Press Journals",
number = "4",

}

From prediction to learning : Opening experts' minds to unfolding history. / Herrmann, Richard K.; Choi, Jong Kun.

In: International Security, Vol. 31, No. 4, 01.03.2007, p. 132-161.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - From prediction to learning

T2 - Opening experts' minds to unfolding history

AU - Herrmann, Richard K.

AU - Choi, Jong Kun

PY - 2007/3/1

Y1 - 2007/3/1

N2 - Although it would be nice if the intelligence community's tradecraft or the academic community's theories could predict the future, it is essential that international security experts learn quickly and accurately from unfolding history. This article reports on a multiyear study of experts dealing with security on the Korean Peninsula. It examines how experts learn and what can derail rational updating. Three factors common to much of the work in security studies contribute to the problem: the tendency to treat the intentions of other actors as unknowable private information that is beyond empirical examination; the inclination to believe that power provides a parsimonious explanation, even though it is multifaceted and dependent on numerous components; and the penchant for engaging in "factor wars" over which causal factors are most important while paying little attention to the cumulative and interactive effect of multiple factors. Collectively, these three factors produce overconfidence in hindsight and leave experts prisoners to their preconceptions. The article investigates in the Korean case whether translating narrative expert beliefs systems (i.e., theories) into Bayesian networks can open minds and promote more appropriate updating, and suggests that it can.

AB - Although it would be nice if the intelligence community's tradecraft or the academic community's theories could predict the future, it is essential that international security experts learn quickly and accurately from unfolding history. This article reports on a multiyear study of experts dealing with security on the Korean Peninsula. It examines how experts learn and what can derail rational updating. Three factors common to much of the work in security studies contribute to the problem: the tendency to treat the intentions of other actors as unknowable private information that is beyond empirical examination; the inclination to believe that power provides a parsimonious explanation, even though it is multifaceted and dependent on numerous components; and the penchant for engaging in "factor wars" over which causal factors are most important while paying little attention to the cumulative and interactive effect of multiple factors. Collectively, these three factors produce overconfidence in hindsight and leave experts prisoners to their preconceptions. The article investigates in the Korean case whether translating narrative expert beliefs systems (i.e., theories) into Bayesian networks can open minds and promote more appropriate updating, and suggests that it can.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=34248366547&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=34248366547&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1162/isec.2007.31.4.132

DO - 10.1162/isec.2007.31.4.132

M3 - Review article

VL - 31

SP - 132

EP - 161

JO - International Security

JF - International Security

SN - 0162-2889

IS - 4

ER -