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.
Coverpage image: Peter Lomas via Pixabay [Public Domain]