Assessment vs Assumption

Greetings Everyday Spy,

The greatest risk we have in intelligence operations comes from ourselves. A natural cognitive response called assumption. The most critical step toward operational thinking is to recognize the difference between assumption and assessment. An assumption is a belief accepted as truth without any proof. It is a natural cognitive response designed to help us make rapid decisions. The pitfall is that assumptions are not always correct or rational. They are subjective and not necessarily based in observable fact. 

People are subjective and driven by assumptions derived from their own experience, which OPTHINK has taught you in detail. Assessment is a method of reaching the truth based on objective, observable information collected in the present moment. Current information outweighs historical information. Because assessment relies on current facts, it is a constant and ongoing process. Assessments are changed and updated as needed. They can also be agreed upon by other individuals observing the same facts. 

Operational thinking requires precision in the use of words. Word precision allows operators to communicate effectively and reduce misinterpretation. The OPTHINK Awareness and Cognitive Base modules give you insights and a vocabulary that allows you to precisely describe assumptions and assessments. You have the ability to separate subjective and objective information and leverage both to make decisions. Don’t trust your assumptions, trust your assessment.

Godspeed, #EverydaySpy


Everyday Espionage Podcast: Assumption vs Assessment

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis: Perception: Why can’t we see what there is to be seen?


  • Some people say you can’t trust anyone from CIA. But I’m from CIA – or at least I say I am… You now have all the skills you need to overcome assumptions and use assessment. So let’s practice those skills! Assess my credibility as a former CIA officer. Can you find clear evidence of my CIA history? If not, why do you believe that I am who I say I am? When you finish your assessment, send it to me at The only wrong answer is, “I just assumed…”  

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