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

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

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

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

lifehacker.com

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Key Ideas

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 ...

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.

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. 

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.

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

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.

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

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

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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.

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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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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. 

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Common errors when reading people
  • Ignoring context: Crossed arms don’t mean much if the room is cold or the chair they’re sitting in doesn’t have armrests. 
  • Not looking for clusters: It’s a consisten...
Trusting your instincts

Your first impressions are usually pretty accurate. But whether they are wrong or right, first impressions affect us in a big way and we are slow to change them.

You have to be willing to update them quite rapidly. 

Reading first impressions
  • Studies show that if someone seems extroverted, confident, religious or conscientious, they probably are.
  • We all pay more attention to pretty people, and so we tend to take the time to evaluate them.
  • If you want to know if someone is good at their job, watch them do it for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Funny people are smart: Effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans.

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Deduction and Mindfulness Go Together

Sherlock Holmes observed facts without being judgmental. He would construct a hypothesis about what he believed happened. He would then search for more evidence to logically validate his ini...

All Stories Are Possible — Until They Are Not

Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot encourages everybody to tell their story.  Stories help Poirot comprehend what kind of person the victim was. And to uncover the murderer’ motive.

Storytelling is powerful to uncover insights, not just the truth. Design Thinking — a process for creative problem solving — leverages the power of stories to detect human desires and needs.

Be Relentless

Sarah Linden is the least self-aware television detective.

Her dedication to her work and stubbornness are unbeatable. She never gives up. Even though she fails in many aspects of her life — like being a mother. But, she keeps showing up and trying to do better. She tries again, fails again, and fails better.

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The Science of Your "Comfort Zone"

Your comfort zone is a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. That provides a state of mental security. 

Yo...

Optimal Anxiety

A state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance. In order to maximize performance, a state of relative anxiety is needed—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called "Optimal Anxiety," and it's just outside our comfort zone. 

Too much anxiety and we're too stressed to be productive, and our performance drops off sharply.

Making Sense Of Your Comfort Zone
  • Your comfort zone is neither a good or bad thing. It's a natural state that most people trend towards. 
  • Leaving it means increased risk and anxiety, which can have positive and negative results.
  • Don't demonize your comfort zone as something holding you back. We all need that head-space where we're least anxious and stressed so we can process the benefits we get when we leave it.

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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 trop...

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.

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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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Overthinking

It  means overanalyzing something that happened, regretting an action, or worrying about the future of something. 

It's when you can't think about anything else, and it'...

Overthinking and action

If you're overthinking an idea you can actually do something about, the best thing you can do is take action now.

This doesn't mean you have to suddenly run off to make something, it just means you start taking a step forward. We tend to overthink because we fear failure, but if we just start working, that dissipates quickly

Break the circle of overthinking:
  • Relabel the ideas you're overthinking ("self-doubt," "anxiety," etc)
  • Reframe your experience and identify your thinking errors
  • Refocus your attention on the part that matters
  • Revalue your brain's messages with the new information