I am by many measures unusual. My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor’s of Science. This is without further qualifier, such as major. While I have spent decades working as a software engineer, I have come to think of myself as an analyst. I initially thought I was a systems analyst, but I suspect that I am really an unrestricted analyst and have been since years before attending university. I have met a few others who I would also call unrestricted analysts, but we are not common, in fact, not close to common enough, and this is the first time I have used that term to describe us.
I will attempt to explain what I mean by the term unrestricted analyst (UA). When a UA listens to a presentation or engages in a conversation about something, the UA builds light-weight mental models for all the relevant components. A UA then exercises those models to find an easily extracted properties and parameters, especially those that reveal the limits of those models and the corresponding components. Sometimes the exercise of the model spill over and we write down notes and formulae, and give instance to the general description “back of the envelope calculations”. This is similar to the behavior of a systems analyst except that a UA does not limit the practice to any realm or discipline. A UA may be at liberty to decide for his or her self how much detail to incorporate, what degree of precision to use, and even which questions to entertain. For a true UA every situation is potentially one to analyse.
Now for an extreme example. A friend of a friend tried to interest me in a video that purportedly provided indisputable evidence that a top government official played a role in the death of another official. I did not need to see the video to render the evaluation that the video was, at best, worthless. In order for the death of the official, as reported in the media, to have been murder, it would have required far more resources than would have been required to erase that friend-of-a-friend along with the video. Thus, the video was a fraud, the video was a threat to all who got near it, or the implicated official was so far beyond reach that no effort was being expended to suppress the evidence (and this later case could only serve to reveal how impotent we were).