How to Develop Sherlock Holmes-Like Powers of Observation and Deduction - Deepstash

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How to Develop Sherlock Holmes-Like Powers of Observation and Deduction

https://lifehacker.com/how-to-develop-sherlock-holmes-like-powers-of-observati-30765350

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How to Develop Sherlock Holmes-Like Powers of Observation and Deduction
If there's one spy skill we all envy, it's the Sherlock Holmes-like ability to quickly read a situation and come up with a theory that explains it (like the toothpaste stain that reveals your co-worker overslept, or the nervous twitch that shows your friend drank too much).

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Observing people and situations is an incredibly valuable tool. 

It gives you the ability to notice subtle cues during conversations, job interviews, presentations, and anywhere else so you can react to situations more tactfully.

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Increase Your Powers of Observation

Learn how to notice small details.

It's not a superhuman ability. It's important to note when talking about Holmes that he has spent a lifetime cultivating the habits of mindfulness. So it's not like he was just born with this ability to be in touch with the world. What we choose to notice or not notice is a way of framing it in our own mind. We have a lot of bad habits in our mind, and we have to retrain ourselves to really notice the world. Everything we do rewires the brain, but we can rewire it in a way that mindfulness eventually becomes less of an effort. -- Konnikova

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Force Yourself to Slow Down

Give yourself monthly or daily challenges to form a new habit of observation.

Ideas could include trying new foods weekly and writing about them, noticing the color of a co-worker's shirt every day, or even just looking at a new piece of art closely once a day.

The idea is to gradually teach yourself to notice small details in your environment and daily life. 

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Take Field Notes to Focus Your Attentions

If you're really struggling to pay attention and personal challenges aren't working, try field notes: writing descriptions and drawing pictures of what you see.

If you're at work, dedicate 10 minutes to observing one person's behavior. Jot it down on paper.

This will help you to start paying attention to the tiny details.

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Briefly Meditate Daily

Meditation is all about teaching yourself focus.

There's this whole area of mindfulness training that teaches you to pay attention to yourself and what's going through your head more. ... just taking a couple minutes at your desk. -- Konnikova

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Learn to Critically Analyze Everything

Critical thinking is analyzing what you observe closely, and deduction is coming up with a conclusion based on those facts.

When you're asking a lot of questions, you're thinking critically, and that improves your skills at deduction in general.

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Form Connections Between What You See and What You Know

 It's not necessarily that Holmes remembers more, but that he can see connections that people usually miss. People think Holmes is this paragon of logic, but that logic is innately imaginative at its core. He doesn't think linearly, he engages his entire network of possible connections. 

The more connections you make, and the more often you think critically, the better you're going to get at making deductions

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Increase Your Knowledge Base

It's rarely worth it to condense your knowledge into a specialty.

You should be broad in your knowledge. Holmes says that you should have a clean "brain attic," but he's also a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He reads incredibly broadly—he reads about art, music—things that you would think have no bearing on his detective work. I think that's an important lesson that we can take. It's bad to overspecialize, and we should try to remain as curious about all the different types of things you want to learn. -- Konnikova

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Think like Sherlock Holmes

“What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving a crime. It is an entire way of thinking."

"Holmes provides... an education in improving our faculty of mindful thought...

Engagement

As children, we are remarkably aware to the world around us. This attention wanes over time as we allow more pressing responsibilities to attend to and demands on our minds to address. And as the demands on our attention increase so, too, does our actual attention decrease.

 As it does so, we become less and less able to know or notice our own thought habits and more and more allow our minds to dictate our judgments and decisions, instead of the other way around.

Pitfalls of the Untrained Brain

Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge: 

  • System one is real-time. This system makes judgments and decisions before our mental apparatus can consciously catch up. 
  • System two, on the other hand, is a slow process of thinking based on critical examination of evidence. Konnikova refers to these as System Watson and System Holmes.

To move from a System Watson- to a System Holmes-governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation.

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Systematic approach

Most people jump straight from finding a problem to attempting to solve it.

Having a systematic approach to how you deal with problems, as opposed to just going by gut and feelings, ca...

Study the problem first

Detectives and investigators use the process. They ask both obvious and unthinkable questions.

Get close and collect information about how the problem is manifesting.  Understand where the problem does and doesn’t happen, when the problem started, and how often the problem occurs to generate critical insight for the problem-solving effort.

Question for great answers

  • Don’t look for solutions immediately; Keep redefining the problem until you arrive at the root cause.
  • Don’t try to guess the solution; try to understand how the obstacles, or challenges manifest first.
  • Gather data to analyze all potential root causes.
  • Consider all options, regardless of how irrelevant they currently appear.
  • Find a way to connect the dots. Make better analogies. One good analogy is worth three hours of discussion.

See and observe

It is important to both see and to observe. As Holmes tells Dr Watson: “You see, but you do not observe.

Why mindfulness is important

  • Mindfulness can lead to improvements in physiological well-being and emotional regulation.
  • Mindfulness can even enhance our levels of wisdom, both in terms of dialectism (being cognizant of change and contradictions in the world) and intellectual humility (knowing your own limitations).
  • Mindfulness can lead to improved problem solving, enhanced imagination, and better decision making.

Mindfulness and inattentional blindness

When we focus on one particular element in a situation or problem, our brains can cause all the other elements to ‘disappear', so that we will have no conscious experience of having ever been exposed to them.

Inattentional blindness illustrates the limitations of our attentional abilities. We can’t ever multitask the way we think we can. Something will get lost.