Friday, September 26, 2008

Evaluating HUMINT Source Reliability (McGill Research Blog)

Prof. Will McGill points to a recent paper in Law, Probability and Risk on assessing the competence of human sources. The authors of the journal article, David Schum and Jon Morris (of George Mason University and the CIA, respectively), argue that there are four major categories of questions one should ask to determine the reliability of a human source. According to Will's excellent summary of the article, the fours big categories are:

  • Competence (or is the source qualified to the provide information?)
  • Veracity (or does the source believe what he/she is saying?)
  • Objectivity (or was the source’s belief based on the evidence obtained by the source?)
  • Observational Sensitivity (or how good was the evidence obtained by the source?)
Underneath each of the main categories there are a variety of different questions that should be asked to determine the overall evaluation for each category. Will breaks these down as well in his blog post.

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