Analysis, History, Science

Some Thoughts About Handling Empirical Data in the Social Sciences

I was recently asked to review some grant applications for several social science research projects of relevance to national security. The applications are interesting and I’ve enjoyed seeing the proposal process from a new perspective. However, I’ve noted a common theme regarding the handling of data that I think is intuitively problematic with respect to theory building given my own interest in epistemology and the robustness of any claims that can be made from our research.

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Intelligence, Interviews, National Security, Science

Interview with Joseph Eash III

As my dissertation is reaching it’s conclusion, I am working towards making more of its research accessible via the web. This post continues the series of interviews that I performed as part of that research on Agent-Based Modeling and intelligence analysis. In the interests of full-disclosure, Joe was my boss for more than three years (2001-2004) when I worked for him as a research associate in the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at National Defense University. Under’s Joe’s and Desmond Saunders-Newton’s mentoring, I was introduced to Agent-Based Modeling and complexity theory. I owe Joe a special debt professionally and intellectually and am proud to have benefited from his mentoring. This interview was conducted on September 6, 2012.

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Analysis, International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Science

Kenneth Waltz, Iran and Nuclear Weapons

As I’ve been in the final months of completing my dissertation, I’ve had far less time to devote to the blog and topics that I’d like to spend more time thinking and writing about. While it is now beyond the news cycle, Kenneth Waltz’s recent essay in Foreign Affairs was quite interesting, but also misleading. At first glance, the policy prescriptive nature of the article was eye catching and challenging, and essentially continued his long-running debate with Scott Sagan and the rest of the international security studies community over the spread of nuclear weapons. The problem with Waltz’s argument, however, is less about his particular conclusions, than the broader problems of academic theory, models in general (both formal and informal), and their relevance to policy in the first place.

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Analysis, Conferences, International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Science

Observations on Quantitative Modeling in Defense and Intelligence Analysis

Over the last couple of weeks I had the opportunity to participate in a two conferences that focused on the role of formal modeling in intelligence and defense analysis. The preparation for these events kept me away from the blog, and I’m hoping to have a chance to write more as the majority of my time and attention return to my dissertation for the next several months.

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International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Science

Commemorating Desmond Saunders-Newton

Today, November 24th, marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Desmond Saunders-Newton, a dear friend and mentor who left this world far too soon. Dez, as he was known, possessed a unique combination of vision and ability to think big, and yet connect with people on the most human and personal of terms. He first introduced me to complexity theory, Agent-Based Modeling (ABM), and computation in general, creating the lens through which I see the international system through. I don’t fully know how to characterize my years of working with Dez, or the depth of the pain felt by his absence, but wanted to acknowledge his role in my life in some way on this Thanksgiving holiday.

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