Information vs. Intelligence | Everyday Espionage Podcast with Andrew Bustamante

Key Takeaways

  • Espionage is about taking information and finding the intelligence within
  • Information and intelligence are not the same things
    • Intelligence is information you are not supposed to have (factual, truthful, hidden)
  • How do spies work with information?
    • Validation → analysis → synthesis → application
    • Information → knowledge → application → experience
  • The majority of the world is doing it wrong; we are collecting information, then experiences, and then when they align we think those are facts
    • “We live in a world where If you have an experience that aligns with any piece of information we are almost compelled, encouraged to draw the conclusion that that becomes a fact.”Andrew Bustamante
  • Sometimes you have to challenge your own experiences to gain real knowledge. That’s espionage.
    • Cognitive bias – in the process of indexing and building information, our mind also creates automated processes in our cognitive functions that skip logical steps
  • How do you separate fact from fiction? How do you find a liar?
    • The reason that spies can apply this is that they recognize how the mind processes the information loop
  • In-group bias – all of us want to be part of something
    • This bias makes us reach conclusions based on information that allows us to feel like we belong to a group
    • Belonging to a group is not innately bad, as long as we become aware of it and seek information from alternate sources

Intro

  • The goal of Everyday Espionage Podcast is to show you how to find the knowledge amid the noise of information
    • In this episode, former covert CIA officer Andrew Bustamante (@EverydaySpy) discusses the difference between intelligence and information and shows how you can use that knowledge to your advantage
  • Host – Andrew Bustamante (@EverydaySpy)

It’s Not About Guarantees, It’s About Promises

  • The first guy who started teaching Bustamante about espionage was enormous (are spies supposed to be enormous?)
    • What did the “big” guy teach him?
    • Espionage is not about guarantees, it’s about promises
  • What promises?
    • “What you are about to learn will change the way you see the world for the rest of your life.” – The Enormous Spy
    • Espionage is about taking information and finding the intelligence within
    • If you don’t get the intelligence, you failed
  • Information and intelligence are not the same things
    • You can get information anywhere (nobody is trying to hide information)
    • Intelligence is information you are not supposed to have (factual, truthful, hidden, made up of secrets, etc.)

From Information to Intelligence

  • How do spies work with information?
    • Validation → analysis → synthesis → application
    • Without application, you have nothing
  • By converting information to the intelligence we learn to convert information into knowledge
    • It doesn’t stop with knowledge, it’s a continuum
    • By applying the knowledge you gain experience
    • Information → knowledge → application → experience
  • The majority of the world is doing it wrong; we are collecting information, then experiences, and then when they align we think those are facts
    • The experience and the information could be valid, but the conclusion can still be false
    • “We live in a world where If you have an experience that aligns with any piece of information we are almost compelled, encouraged to draw the conclusion that that becomes a fact.”Andrew Bustamante
  • That is not a fact. That is not intelligence
    • Knowledge is the advantage, information is just a risk
  • The evolutionary process of converting information into knowledge:
    • Take the information, analyze it, synthesize it, and look for sources of information that confirm, corroborate, reject or deny

Keep Going Through the Information Loop

  • The experiences that you engage in produce more data (new information) – repeating the process
    • Is your experience biased? Consistent with other people’s experiences? Is it flawed? Keep going through the information loop/triangle
  • Sometimes you have to challenge your own experiences to gain real knowledge. That’s espionage. How do you separate fact from fiction? How do you find a liar?
    • Most of this is not new information, but here is the big thing: the reason that spies can apply this is that they recognize how the mind processes that loop. It’s not only learning and applying
    • Our mind works against us in that information loop

What To Do When Your Mind Works Against You

  • Cognitive bias – in the process of indexing and building information, our mind also creates automated processes in our cognitive functions that skip logical steps
    • “People are less aware of the decisions they make based on indirect influences like ego, emotions and individual biases.”Andrew Bustamante
  • In-group bias – all of us want to be part of something
    • This bias makes us reach conclusions based on information that allows us to feel like we belong to a group
    • They fit the group more than they fit us and that prevents us from converting information to knowledge – that’s the first stumbling block
  • Confirmation bias – makes you conclude that whatever information you hear the most frequently is the truth
    • Belonging to a group is not innately bad, as long as we become aware of it and seek information from alternate sources
  • Multiple sources will take you from information to knowledge
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Notes By Dario

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