“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 and in using it in order to accomplish more, think better, and decide more optimally." - Ellen Langer
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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.
Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge:
To move from a System Watson- to a System Holmes-governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation.
As Holmes tells Watson, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”
Attics have two components: structure and contents. Your memory attic should not be jumbled and mindless so that knowledge gets lost.
"To cultivate our knowledge actively, we need to realize that items are being pushed into our attic space at every opportunity. "
When we’re in our default System Watson mode, we don’t “choose” which memories to store. They just kind of store themselves—or they don’t, as the case may be.
Before we include something in our brain attic we must first observe it.
It’s not just about the passive process of letting objects enter into your visual field. It is about knowing what and how to observe and directing your attention accordingly: what details do you focus on? What details do you omit?
It’s about understanding how to contextualize those details within a broader framework of thought.
We cannot allocate our attention to multiple things at once and expect it to function at the same level as it would were we to focus on just one activity.
To think we also need distance.
Forcing your mind to take a step back is a tough thing to do. It seems counterintuitive to walk away from a problem that you want to solve.
Not only does distance facilitate imaginative thinking but it also helps counter short-term emotions.
It is important to both see and to observe. As Holmes tells Dr Watson: “You see, but you do not observe.”
This mental alertness, or mindfulness, is cultivated with deliberate practise. Mindfulness allows Holmes to observe those details that most of us don’t even realize we don’t see.
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 switching quickly from one task to the next.”
A study points out that those who are multi-taskers are less efficient.