April 25, 2019

Introducing Uncharted's Argument Mapper

Reasoned assessment, analysis, and decision making

David Sheffield, Michael Crouch 

Intelligence analysts, criminal investigators and legal practitioners frequently face complex cases with large volumes of ambiguous, uncertain, contradictory or inconclusive evidence. They must rapidly analyze the evidence, assess the situation and recommend options with clear justification to decision makers. Moreover, inherent human cognitive biases, such as neglect of probability, confirmation bias and recency bias further complicate objective analysis.

Analysts standing around a whiteboard with notes affixed

Lacking rigorous, approachable critical thinking tools, analysts must manually assemble evidence and draw conclusions in an ad hoc manner susceptible to cognitive biases.

Despite the challenges, few critical thinking tools address the unique demands of these disciplines, and none have been widely adopted. Complexity, inflexibility and insensitivity to the constraints of these environments are common, leaving the need for well-designed, easy-to-use software.

Over the past few years we set out to solve these issues by working in frequent, close collaboration and testing with intelligence community analysts and methodologists. Design of the system was guided by several key goals. It had to be simple for non-technical users to learn and apply. It had to communicate reasoning in an easily understood form. And it had to incorporate rigorous, well-founded logic specific to the task of reasoning about evidence.

Hypothesis linked to supporting and refuting evidence

Uncharted Argument Mapper - Ease of use, clear structured critical thinking techniques and collaboration

The resulting system, Uncharted® Argument Mapper, combines structured critical thinking techniques with intuitive visualization to support theoretically sound evidence-based reasoning. With simple, fluid interactions, practitioners can structure arguments by building hypotheses, attaching supporting or refuting evidence, and assigning evidence weights. Argument Mapper automatically balances each piece of evidence to calculate and visualize the degree of support for the parent hypothesis. This clear flow of logic helps practitioners easily understand the reasoning chain and overcome cognitive biases. Argument Mapper is also a collaborative platform that allows practitioners to share analyses or invite peer critiques to support efficient, confident decision-making.

For more information about Argument Mapper, contact us at info@uncharted.software.