The New Yorker: Fact

"The Picture Problem"

The New Yorker recently ran an article which provides more insight into the problems of intelligence. In this case, it's a kind of intelligence that seems quite solid -- pictures, which you can see with your own eyes.

You can build a high-tech camera, capable of taking pictures in the middle of the night, in other words, but the system works only if the camera is pointed in the right place, and even then the pictures are not self-explanatory. They need to be interpreted, and the human task of interpretation is often a bigger obstacle than the technical task of picture-taking. This was the lesson of the Scud hunt: pictures promise to clarify but often confuse.
In exploring just how that can be true, the author casts a wide net: USAF hunting in the "Scud Box" during the Gulf war, the trouble with mammograms, the tremendous sacrifice and utter failure of WWII bombing runs on German ball-bearing factories, and the reasons why Colin Powell's UN presentation on Iraqi WMD went wrong.

Take a few minutes to read it. You'll find it fascinating, and be better informed as to some of the problems of intelligence too.

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