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