Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Andrew Newberg: Think Like the CIA

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In his book, "Why We Believe What We Believe", author Andrew Newberg lists eight strategies that the CIA uses to teach its intelligence gathering anaylsts to think more wisely and open-mindedly. This allows them to analyze situations more critically and thus be able to construct more effective solutions to problems.

As much as I shy away from taking advice from our government I consider these strategies, which Newberg gleaned from a CIA handbook, ones that are beneficial for everyone to keep in mind as we navigate our way through everyday circumstances as well as try to make sense of some of the events in the world, both local and global. Some of the suggestions might seem like common sense while others might be new ideas to be considered for implementation. Some of the ideas listed seem to be very similar, yet if you read them closely, there are distinctions between them.

I hope you find them useful!

 8 Strategies to Think More Critically

(1) Become proficient in developing alternative points of view.

(2) Do not assume that the other person will think or act like you.

(3) Think backward. Instead of thinking about what might happen, put yourself into the future and try to explain how a potential situation could have occurred.

(4) Imagine that the belief you are currently holding is wrong, and then develop a scenario to explain how that could be true. This helps you to see the limitations of your beliefs.

(5) Try out the other person's beliefs by actually acting out the role. This breaks you out of seeing the world through the habitual patters of your own beliefs.

(6) Play "devil's advocate" by taking the minority point of view. This helps you see how alternative assumptions make the world look different.

(7) Brainstorm. A quantity of ideas leads to quality because the first ones that come to mind are those that reflect old beliefs. New ideas help you to break free of emotional blocks and social norms.

(8) Interact with people of different backgrounds and beliefs.

From: "Why We  Believe What We Believe", Andrew Newberg, p. 259

Which strategy do you find most useful? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks!


  1. Very interesting insights here, Jessica. I think that it's crucial, especially for a writer, to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Gives such new thoughts and perspectives on things. However, it's easier said than done as it requires getting out of one's comfort zone.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Do not think the other person will act or think like you. I think this one is very vertical.Most times we assume that others are like us but both societal and other moral up bringing differentiate us.

  3. It's great to be able to think from both inside and outside of the box. As a former special agent I totally agree with what you are saying. It's a matter of death or life in mission, not a theory. It is hard to feel like being in someone else's shoes while my feet are still in my shoes. But that's a wake-up call. That takes us into the cave of wonder. Can I do that? So intelligence business is not a science in my humble opinion. It's more of an art. Sang