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“Connect the dots” considered harmful

The FBI and the CIA are being criticized for not keeping better track of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the months before the Boston Marathon bombings. How could they have ignored such a dangerous person? …

Rather than thinking of intelligence as a simple connect-the-dots picture, think of it as a million unnumbered pictures superimposed on top of each other. Or a random-dot stereogram. Is it a sailboat, a puppy, two guys with pressure-cooker bombs, or just an unintelligible mess of dots? You try to figure it out. …

We have to accept that there always will be a risk of terrorism, and that when the occasional plot succeeds, it’s not necessarily because our law enforcement systems have failed.

-Bruce Schneier, Intelligence Analysis and the Connect-the-Dots Metaphor

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