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Eduction, not to be confused with education, is used as a term of art from human-source intelligence, which covers the broad range of situations, voluntary and involuntary, in which information is obtained from human beings. While the term has been criticized as a public relations attempt to soften the impact of controversy surrounding "interrogation", [1] there is value to a collective term that includes:

A broader usage is "to draw out something hidden, latent, or reserved. educe implies the bringing out of something potential or latent (educed order out of chaos}"[2]

Planning interactions

Eduction still includes a great deal of art, although there are potential insights, from the social sciences, of what techniques provide useful information. Broadly, however, four areas show promise:[3]

He believes persuasive messaging has the greatest potential to change positions, while negotiation theory is better suited to the interactive obtaining of information. There is, of course, an immense body of experience with persuasion in advertising, and certainly some in psychological warfare. An insightful police detective once described himself as a salesman, with the job of selling, to the prisoner, the idea that prison was a more attractive alternative than his present situation. Thought control certainly involves persuasion more than negotiation; it seeks conformity and confession, neither one of which is terribly pertinent to obtaining information.

Finding truth

Both in voluntary and involuntary situations, human beings may lie. Knowing the truth has always been a goal of those seeking information. In classical Greek and Roman situations, it was assumed that torture was necessary to get the truth from slaves. Over time, serious analysts realized that tortured information was often that which the subject thought would stop the torture, not necessarily what was true. Current best practices combine using the direct verbal interaction, clues from nonverbal communication, and painstaking correlation of statements with all other available sources. [7]

"Truth serums" were one Holy Grail in interrogation, although none ever demonstrated reliable results. There is much controversy of whether the polygraph has real value; at best, it is a measure of strong emotion rather than truth. The use of neuroimaging in eduction is still an area of research.

Police-oriented studies by the Rand Corporation suggested there is more information on what does not work in interrogation than on what does work. [8]

Nonverbal communication is an area of great interest. The anthropologist Edward T. Hall coined the term proxemics, or the "silent language", addressing such things as interpersonal distance and other, culturally-dependent aspects of nonverbal communication. [9]Police and intelligence human-source collectors make use of a wide range of observational techniques.[10]


  1. Robert Destro (December 2006), Foreword, in Intelligence Science Board, Educing Information—Interrogation: Science and Art, National Defense Intelligence College Press, ISBN 1-932946-17-9, pp. vii-ix
  2. Educing, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  3. Randy Borum (November 2005), Approaching Truth: Behavioral Science Lessons on Educing Information from Human Sources, in Intelligence Science Board, Educing Information—Interrogation: Science and Art, National Defense Intelligence College Press, ISBN 1-932946-17-9, pp. 20-21
  4. Terhi Rantanen (2005), "The message is the medium: An interview with Manuel Castells", Global Media and Communication 1 (2): 135–147
  5. Brett Dellinger (1995), Critical Discourse Analysis
  6. Stella Ting-Toomey (April 15, 1992), Cross-Cultural Face-Negotiation: An Analytical Overview, David See-Chai Lam Centre for International Communication, Pacific Region Forum on Business and Management Communication
  7. Tourison, Sedgwick Jr. (1990). Conversations with Victor Charlie: an Interrogator's Story. Ballantine Books. 
  8. Peter W. Greenwood (July 1979), The Rand Criminal Investigation Study: Its Findings and Impact to Date, Rand Corporation, Rand P-6352, p. 12
  9. Nina Brown, Edward T. Hall: Proxemic Theory, 1966, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Sciences, University of California
  10. Chris Mackey & Greg Miller (2004), The Interrogators: inside the secret war against al Qaeda, Little, Brown & Co., ISBN 0-316-87112-5, pp. 106-112