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"Now you know... and knowing is half the battle!" - G.I. Joe

Indeed knowing is half the battle, and this subtle reference to the importance of intelligence in warfare is more true than I ever understood watching this cartoon on TV as a child.

Intelligence Operations work off the basic premise that there is incredible value in knowing detailed information about particular things, specifically things that other do not know much about.

In this section I hope to compile a resource for learning the tricks of intelligence gathering, analysis and general spycraft. How spies are trained, how intelligence works, and as much other declassified, incontroversial, legal, and most importantly useful information as I can possibly compile.

According to Wikipedia:

Intelligence has been defined in many different ways; including, but not limited to abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, reasoning, learning, having emotional knowledge, retaining, planning, and problem solving.

Intelligence is most widely studied in humans, but has also been observed in animals and plants. Artificial intelligence is the simulation of intelligence in machines.

Within the discipline of psychology, various approaches to human intelligence have been adopted. The psychometric approach is especially familiar to the general public, as well as being the most researched and by far the most widely used in practical settings.

The type of intelligence we are going to talk about here is the usefulness of things you know, and the study of what kinds of things you need to know in order to be useful. We are going to talk about the structure of lies within intellectual frameworks and talk about how people lie effectively. We will review a list of time tested proven and effective tools for rigorously dismantling lies, putting knowledge to the test, exposing disinformation and misinformation, as well as other great tricks of intelligence and spy-craft.

An interesting and rewarding thought experiment regarding intelligence is to imagine what it would be like if you knew everything there is to know. You'd essentially become God-like and rich over night. You'd know the locations of long buried treasures, everyone's username and passwords for everything. You'd know how to penetrate secure areas, you'd know how to trick and fool everyone or blackmail them with private personal information. You'd have this massive data base of detailed and unlimited knowledge, and there's no telling what you would decide to do with it, especially if you knew what all the consequences would be for all of your actions ahead of time. Of course, this is completely unrealistic, but still worth thinking about.


"Knowledge is power" - Sir Francis Bacon

Knowledge is, quite basically, what you know. Or at least what you think you know.

According to Wikipedia:

"Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts, information, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); it can be more or less formal or systematic. In philosophy, the study of knowledge is called epistemology; the philosopher Plato famously defined knowledge as "justified true belief." However, no single agreed upon definition of knowledge exists, though there are numerous theories to explain it.

The following quote from Bertrand Russell's "Theory of Knowledge" illustrates the difficulty in defining knowledge:
"The question how knowledge should be defined is perhaps the most important and difficult of the three with which we shall deal. This may seem surprising: at first sight it might be thought that knowledge might be defined as belief which is in agreement with the facts. The trouble is that no one knows what a belief is, no one knows what a fact is, and no one knows what sort of agreement between them would make a belief true. Let us begin with belief."


According to Wikipedia:

"Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message. Information can be recorded as signs, or transmitted as signals. Information is any kind of event that affects the state of a dynamic system. Conceptually, information is the message (utterance or expression) being conveyed. The meaning of this concept varies in different contexts. Moreover, the concept of information is closely related to notions of constraint, communication, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, understanding, mental stimuli, pattern, perception, representation, and entropy."

By far the easiest and most practical way to acquire information is through the interception of communications. Since the sharing of information must be done via communications, it is a worthwhile effort to study all the possible methods of communication in order to acquire information.

Most intelligence work deals with the interception of communication. It's estimated that over 70% of the work performed by the NSA is signals intelligence.


According to Wikipedia:

"Communication is the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. Derived from the Latin word "communis", meaning to share. Communication requires a sender, a message, and a recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver has understood the message of the sender."

The idea of "communicative commonality" is a staple of intelligence operations and secret keeping. The establishment of "code words"" is a common practise of creating a distinct communicative commonality, which can only be properly understood by those who understand the code words. This assures that any interception of the message will not result in a correct interpretation, and if the code words are chosen properly will effectively mislead the unintended recipient to a different interpretation of the message. For example drug dealers will often talk in code, so that their comminication will be interpreted as a discussion of about something benign and legal such as food. A "slice of pizza" for example could refer to "1/8 of an ounce" since a pizza is usually cut into 8 slices, one slice being 1/8 of the pizza. This idea of a code word meaning two different things at once is called ambiguity. Ambiguous communication effectively decieves a 3rd party intercept into conclusions other than those intended for the recipient. Ambiguous code words can also have disadvantages since the true-intended meaning of the code word can often be obvious once the context is fully understood. Code words can also be chosen completely at random, so they bear no significance to the intended meaning.

Comminications and signals often use encryption in order to distort or scramble a message, thus preventing coherent interception. Often times combinations of code words, encryptions, and other techniques are used to further obscure the original message. However it is still important that the intended recipient is able to properly interpret the message, otherwise we have miscomminication.

Secure Communications networks such as the US Military's Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) are often used for the communication of classified information.


"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." - Benajmin Frankin (a funny quip, though entirely untrue)

"It is a commonplace that “you can’t keep secrets in Washington” or “in a democracy, no matter how sensitive the secret, you’re likely to read it the next day in the New York Times.” These truisms are flatly false. They are in fact cover stories, ways of flattering and misleading journalists and their readers, part of the process of keeping secrets well. Of course eventually many secrets do get out that wouldn’t in a fully totalitarian society. But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of secrets do not leak to the American public. This is true even when the information withheld is well known to an enemy and when it is clearly essential to the functioning of the congressional war power and to any democratic control of foreign policy. The reality unknown to the public and to most members of Congress and the press is that secrets that would be of the greatest import to many of them can be kept from them reliably for decades by the executive branch, even though they are known to thousands of insiders."
- Daniel Ellsburg (Legendary leaker of the "Pentagon Papers" in 1971)

Keeping Secrets is essential to a functioning state for a variety of reasons, primarily security. State Secrets are often Classified according to their importance or the risk they pose to security. For example Nuclear Launch Codes, or White House Security Systems have a higher risk to national security and thus a higher classification than the type of information you would find on JWICS or something.

By far the easiest and most effective way of keeping secrets is simple Non-Disclosure. The most effective way of assuring that others keep secrets is by use of a legally binding contract often times known as a Non-disclosure agreement. Other methods include threats, blackmail, extortion, etc. but perhaps the easiest way to ensure that someone keeps a secret, especially a really important and dangerous secret, is through assassination. This is a desperate, worst case scenario, but it has been used before: The DC Madam is an excellent example.


The main requirement for a successful lie is it's degree of believability. In order for something to be believable it must span a logical gap and successfully explain the missing information in between. The more of these logical gaps that a lie can successfully span, the higher it's degree of believability will be.

Simple Example: Two teenagers each tell their parents that they are sleeping over the other friend's house, but instead they both go to a party somewhere else. The parents each believe that their kid is sleeping over the other friend's house, and thus the lie holds up, at least until they decide to call the other friend's house to check in. This simple experiment of a telephone call is sufficient to expose the lie. The teenagers, being inexperienced, did not think all the possibilities through and did not plan ahead. They did not understand that lies have "layers" or "degrees", and that these must all be accounted for ahead of time.

The game of lying is a lot like chess, the liar must plan things out many moves ahead. Although by their nature lies cannot stand up to continued scrutiny, for a lie to be effective it doesn't need to. Most inquisitors will quit questioning after penetrating 1 or 2 layers, as long as the lie continues to check out. They usually will not probe very far beyond 3 layers of confirmation, before deciding that something must be true. Often times a lie can be constructed where there is only a single layer, and all other layers are impenetrable.

Impenetrable Example: A teenager gets into a minor accident. No other vehicle is involved and nothing is reported officially, though there is now a minor though definitely visable scrape and dent along the side of mommy and daddy's car. The teenager proceeds to lie explaining that the accident was not their fault and instead occurred at the High school parking lot, where some inexperienced teen driver (clearly not they themselves) swiped the car in the parking lot and drove away without leaving a note or anything. No one of course witnessed this happen, and the teenagers claims they didn't discover the damage until the imagined perpetrator was already gone. The story is believable and completely impenetrable beyond this primary layer since the alleged perpetrator is unknown and further inquiry to prove or disprove this avenue is practically impossible. It is unlikely that the parent's will examine the damage in any serious detail, and as long as the damage is somewhat consistant with the explanation then the lie remains impenetrable. Even if the parents were to then report the crime to the police, without a serious investigation (which is highly unlikely in a simple traffic accident) the lier has no chance of being caught.

I am sure you can think of more complex examples of lies which function on a variety of levels and appear truthful upon shallow examination, but fall apart under intense scrutiny.

Complex Example: In order to support the fradulent wars modern propaganda uses the same repeated approaches to the topic over and over. They begin with truthful enough statements and use these truthful to reframe the argument. This is called "framing the argument", and it works by setting up the way people think about or approach an issue. The "frame" ensures the context under which the lie is examined will allow the lie to hold up and be seen as true.

Reinforcing Lies

As long as you can keep the attention of your audience focused on the types of logical frameworks that your lie successfully explains, it will reinforce the effectiveness of the lie.

The easiest way to reinforce a lie is through the use of media. By setting up pre-arranged talking points, and a list of things to mention and not mention during a staged discussion of a particular topic, the media can effectively frame the argument in a way that best supports the lie being pushed.

Power Tools of Truth

The essential problem with truth is that you can never prove conclusive that anything is true. You can only prove something is not true. We merely assume that the things we cannot disprove are true. We use inductive logic to conclude that a specific case or proven experiment applies generally, which is usually but not always the case.

Most people judge something as being true or not, based on things they already “know”. This correspondence from ‘observable things’ to knowledge, and our knowledge to how we observe things, is called “Accord”, what is “true” is what accords. Whether it be a matter or a proposition, it must accord. It must be according to something. This is why when you state a fact, you must usually say “according to THIS source”. However the very basis of “accord”-That which is according to, is limited to one’s current tools and methodology from scientific discovery. The nature of how we come to believe and understand things is called “epistemology”. The way you control people’s understanding of truth is to control their epistemology by controlling the information they are exposed to (aka “Censorship”). - Heidegger: The Essence of Truth (1930)

The Scientific Method

"If it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong! ...and that simple statement is the key to science." - Richard Feynman

"Experiment is the arbitrator of competing hypotheses" - Galileo

The Scientific Method is a body of investigative techniques for disproving hypotheses by testing them with controlled experiments.

The Scientific Method is one of the most effective tools for exposing falsehoods that has ever been devised.

Logical Fallacies

A fallacy is something that seems true, reasonable, or logical but on further inspection is not actually a valid proof.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the different types of fallacies so you will know how to call people out when they are using one to prove their argument. Understanding and spotting logical fallacies is a key to debunking bunk, and winning arguments.

By far the most common fallacy is the "Causation Correlation" fallacy, the two varieties of this fallacy are:

post hoc ergo propter hoc: believing that temporal succession implies a causal relation.


Argument: It rained just before the car broke down. The rain caused the car to break down.

Problem: There may be no connection between the two events. Two events co-occurring is not an indication of causation.

cum hoc ergo propter hoc: believing that correlation implies a causal relation.


Argument: More cows die in the summer months. More ice cream is consumed in summer months. Therefore, the consumption of ice cream in the summer months is killing cows.

Problem: No premise suggests the ice cream consumption is causing the deaths. The deaths and consumption could be unrelated, or something else could be causing both, such as summer heat. Also called causation versus correlation.

Someone will lie to you today. Do you have the skills to detect it? In How to Spot Lies Like the FBI, veteran FBI agent Mark Bouton shows you how to perceive when someone is trying to trick you by interpreting their body language, facial expressions, and verbal "tells." Bouton uses photographs and specific examples of how detecting lies helped him nab killers, kidnappers, bank robbers, con men, and bombers. The same techniques can help you spot when family, friends, lovers, salesmen, and repairmen are trying to deceive you. This knowledge will enrich your enjoyment of life and take the doubt out of your relationships.