June 18, 2013

Teaching People To Overcome Biases With Games At Origins, Global Intelligence Forum

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Inspired by the announcement of Intelligence Advanced Research Project
Agency's Sirius Program a couple of years ago, I set out to design a tabletop (i.e. card) game that would help people learn more about cognitive biases and hopefully learn to limit the effects of some of the worst of them.

My first two attempts were ... OK ... but I couldn't quite get them to work.  Either they took too long to play or playtesting suggested that the learning effects were too small.

One day, though, it hit me - a design that was both manageable in terms of time and had good evidence to suggest that it would teach people not only how to identify bias situations in real life but also to apply effective strategies for mitigating the effects of those biases!  In short, I had a good game with proven mechanics and a testable hypothesis -- I was off to the races!

This summer (finally), I am taking my best design, The Mind's Lie, on the road to actually test it.  First up is the Origins Game Fair this week in Columbus, Ohio.  I need participants to test the game and I figured where better to go than one of the world's largest tabletop game fairs?

We have a booth and will be recruiting potential participants for an experiment to see if the game actually works (we are also recruiting for new students, so if you are in the Columbus area and are interested in learning more about our program for you or your son or daughter, do not hesitate to drop by). 

We will be playing the same game at the Global Intelligence Forum in Ireland in early July.  GIF is unquestionably my favorite conference (and not only because Mercyhurst sponsors it...).

It is the only place I know where intel professionals from all over the world and from across all three major intelligence sub-disciplines - national security, law enforcement and business - meet to talk about how to improve the practice of intelligence.  It is exciting intellectually, in a beautiful town on the coast of Ireland, and is still small enough to actually get to know some people (some pretty interesting people, actually...) instead of just bumping into them.

This year, if The Mind's Lie works like I think it will, the participants will get the opportunity to walk away with a better ability to evaluate evidence in an unbiased manner as well - worth the price of admission, I think!

If you are in the Columbus area this weekend drop by.  We will be showcasing The Mind's Lie and all our other games for intelligence analysts in booth 745 in the exhibit hall.  If you haven't made plans to go to the Global Intelligence Forum, there is still time to register - hope to see you there!

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