Targeting U.S. Technologies


Explanation of Estimative Language

DSS adopted the IC estimative language standard for use in the DSS "Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry." The use of synonymous phraseology such as "we judge," "we assess," or "we estimate," as well as terms such as "likely," or "indicate," represents our efforts to convey an analytical assessment or judgment. These assessments, based on incomplete or at times fragmentary information, are not a fact, proof, nor do they represent empirically-based certainty or knowledge. Some analytical judgments are directly based on collected information; others rest on previous judgments, both of which serve as building blocks. In either type of judgment, we do not have "evidence" showing something to be a fact or that definitively links two items or issues.

Intelligence judgments pertaining to "likelihood" are intended to reflect DSS's sense of the probability of a development, event, or trend. Assigning precise numerical ratings to such judgments would imply more rigor than we intend. The chart below provides a rough idea of the relationship of terms to each other.


We do not intend the term "unlikely" to imply an event will not happen. We use "probably" and "likely" to indicate there is a greater than even chance. We use words such as "we cannot dismiss," "we cannot rule out," and "we cannot discount" to reflect unlikely - or even remote - events whose consequences are such that it warrants mentioning. Words such as "may" and "suggest" are used to reflect situations in which we are unable to assess the likelihood generally because relevant information is nonexistent, sketchy, or fragmented.

In addition to using words within a judgment to convey degrees of likelihood, we also ascribe "high," "moderate," or "low" confidence levels based on the scope and quality of information supporting our judgments.

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