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9 Tips For Making Deductions Like Sherlock Holmes

Observe the details

When Holmes first met Dr. Watson, his soon to be partner in solving crimes, the detective deduced his personal history from his appearance.

Holmes sees his new acquaintance's symptoms of tropics, sickness, and injury, and is able to see how they fit together and offhand claim: "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive."

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9 Tips For Making Deductions Like Sherlock Holmes

9 Tips For Making Deductions Like Sherlock Holmes

https://www.businessinsider.com/9-ways-to-observe-and-deduce-like-sherlock-holmes-2014-7

businessinsider.com

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Key Ideas

Observe the details

When Holmes first met Dr. Watson, his soon to be partner in solving crimes, the detective deduced his personal history from his appearance.

Holmes sees his new acquaintance's symptoms of tropics, sickness, and injury, and is able to see how they fit together and offhand claim: "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive."

Pay attention to the basics

When Holmes famously quips that the solution of a case is "elementary," he's not simply dismissing the detective work as easy. Rather, he's talking about elements, the essentials of a situation.

"Whatever the specific issue, you must define and formulate it in your mind as specifically as possible — and then you must fill it in with past experience and present observation," -- Konnikova writes

Use all of your senses

In the novel " Hound of the Baskervilles," Holmes assembles clues not just by reading everything he can find, but involving all his senses.

We shouldn't neglect our senses — since they influence our decisions in ways we don't even realize.

Be 'actively passive' when you're talking to someone

Konnikova's take: "Holmes ... focuses all of his faculties on the subject of observation ... He listens, as is his habit, 'with closed eyes and fingertips together.' ... He will not be distracted by any other task. As passive observers, we are not doing anything else; we are focused on observing."

Give yourself distance

When Holmes is dealing with a particularly thorny case, he occupies himself with another activity, like playing the violin or smoking a pipe.

Konnikova contends that pipe smoking is a way for Holmes to constructively distract himself from his thinking. 

Say it aloud

Holmes talks to Watson about everything.

The telling helps, Holmes says. "Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person."

Adapt to the situation

When Holmes meets a would-be source of information, he profiles him or her, looking for any advantage that might be communicated by their appearance.

He tells Watson how he nabbed details from a gambling type from intentionally losing a bet to him.

Find quiet

If you're out there detecting all the time, you need to give yourself breaks.

Watson, who writes of his friend: "I knew that seclusion and solitude were very necessary for my friend in those hours of intense mental concentration during which he weighed every particle of evidence, constructed alternative theories, balanced one against the other, and made up his mind as to which points were essential and which immaterial."

Manage your energy effectively

Here's what he said when Watson begged him to eat:

"The faculties become refined when you starve them ... surely, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider."

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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 ...

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

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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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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Holmes practices mindfulness

Mindfulness means focusing on only one problem or activity at a time.

Our brain cannot do two things at once. “What we believe is multi-tasking is really the brain switchin...

Organize Your Brain Attic to remember more

The “brain attic” is Holmes’s analogy for the human mind and how we store information.  Just consuming information leads to mental clutter that gets difficult to access when you need it.

We are more likely to remember something if we connect it to a sensory experience or previous action, like writing or connecting memories to smells or sounds.

Take a brain break if you want to be more creative

Holmes plays the violin, because it takes him out of his thinking mind and places him in a purely physical state.

“Taking mental holidays can be incredibly productive for creativity", even something as simple as taking a walk in the park during your lunch break instead of eating at your desk.

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