When dealing with the future, we use a language that includes specific notions such as the expression of probability and of impacts. In terms of probability, for example, we use words such as “likely” and for impacts terms such as “severe”. Furthermore, to be truly complete, we should add a confidence judgement.

As explained by Heuer in the case of probability, these are expressions of subjective judgements. As a result, these words are a source of “ambiguity and misunderstanding” (Richards J. Jr. Heuer, , Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1999: 152).

Our members and trainees can download below a “cheat sheet” of these words with their explanations. For probability we provide the correspondence between subjective words and numerical probability.

Click on the image or link to download.
(You need to be a member or a trainee to download the file).

Coverpage image: Peter Lomas via Pixabay [Public Domain]

Published by Dr Helene Lavoix (MSc PhD Lond)

Dr Helene Lavoix, PhD Lond (International Relations), is the President/CEO of The Red Team Analysis Society. She is specialised in strategic foresight and warning for international relations, national and international security issues. Her current focus is on the war in Ukraine, international order and the rise of China, the overstepping of planetary boundaries and international relations, the methodology of SF&W, radicalisation as well as new tech and security.

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