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text 2015-08-26 04:37
"The faculty of deduction is certainly contagious, Watson."
Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (Paperback) - Common - by Maria Konnikova

So, you guys might perhaps be aware that I'm a pretty big fan of Mr. Holmes. :] A second stab at the stories alongside watching BBC's Sherlock led to a bit of an obsession with his adventures as well as his method of thinking, which led me to purchase Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova. This book is incredibly fascinating- it shows that thinking (somewhat) like Holmes is within the realm of possibility, but beyond that it explains how normal human beings can benefit from his methods in everyday life. 

"Deduction" as Sherlock practices it, is actually really good brain exercise. It can be helpful when looking for jobs, meeting new people, or assessing an unfamiliar situation. A lot of Konnikova's advice also seems like it would be helpful for those struggling with ADD. The whole idea behind the book is to "learn to pay attention better"-- to not let your mind get clogged with all the distractions of our modern world.

While reading Mastermind, I began scouring the internet for related information on "the art of deduction", and I found a lot of helpful stuff. I've been meaning to keep up my 'Sherlocking' posts, but moving across the country kind of got in the way- it takes a lot of mental energy to practice deduction and write blogs about it. :] Currently, my boyfriend has the book on tour with him, so it'll be a month or so before I can continue. So, this isn't a review. BUT I did make these really cool posts (or at least I think they're really cool) on my tumblr and I wanted to share them. They sum up the basics of 'Sherlocking' and most of what I have learned (and retained) so far. They look way better on my tumblr, so I'm just going to post the links: 

'Sherlocking' - The Basics pt. 1

'Sherlocking' - The Basics pt. 2


Even if you're not a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, this stuff is pretty neat! Within the posts are links, those lead to a reference page (sidebar link #5). I'm working on getting it more organized than that but it's hard. I'm proud of what I have so far, though! 

Thanks for reading, guys. 


SH Tags: peek/a wild sherlock appears/hello/sherlock/102/i heard you summon me Looking for a particular Sherlock reaction gif? This blog organizes them so you don’t have to deduce them out.

[image source]

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url 2015-08-10 22:15
'Sherlocking' - the basics (pt.2)

So we’ve briefly covered learning how to ‘pay attention better’ and how to overcome our biases in order to properly observe. The next step is applying what you already know to your observations.

When deducing, there’s a lot you have to be able to quickly recall. Remember, we only know what we can remember at any given point. When you’re Sherlocking on your own (i.e. researching body language, helpful facts, observation skills, etc) and you need to remember something the best thing to do is to make it come alive, the way Sherlock does when he ‘goes to his mind palace’ in The Hound of the Baskervilles episode.



It seems silly, but making a fact come alive with stories and gestures is much more effective than just repeating it to yourself over and over. The more cues, the more likely retrieval will work. If you’ve ever had to cram for an exam you may have used this technique without even realizing it- I remember I would often have to resort to reading a note card out loud in a funny voice in order to retain certain facts my brain was just refusing to take in. 
(I’m going to make a separate post about mind palaces later since they’re pretty advanced, imo. Also there’s already a lot of helpful posts about them, like the one where I found the above .gif, which can be found here.)

When practicing deduction, always have a goal. No one can pay attention to everything, all the time. It will take years of practice to be anywhere near an actual Sherlock level of observation, so for now it’s important to pick specific things to observe. For example, you may want to figure out if someone you’ve just met is right or left handed. Focus on the details that you think will help you figure that out based on the knowledge you already have. 

I just started Sherlocking a few weeks ago, and already I am noticing that I’m better at consciously directing my attention and I’m able to pick up on body language more easily. Basically all I’ve been doing is searching the internet for tips, reading Mastermind, and practicing.
I think the best practice to start off with is to pick something to notice each day. For example, one day I decided I was going to look for red shoes- I saw 12 pairs walking from one end of the mall to the other. It sounds stupid but simply being aware like that instead of having your face in your phone is really great beginning practice.

So hopefully I did an alright job of putting together an introduction to Sherlocking. I know this blog is supposed to be only for bookstuff so I wont post too much more about deduction on here, but I thought it was neat enough to share... and I got most of my information from Mastermind anyway, so it works. 
Thanks for reading! <3

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text 2015-08-09 21:18
‘Sherlocking’- the basics (pt. 1)

[This post is from my tumblr page, and it looks a lot better there. I didn't want to just link it though because I know no one will care to click the link and this is actually really cool and something I'm pretty proud of. :D] 

So, recently I started watching Sherlock… which led to reading the stories… which led to buying a book called Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes… which turned into an obsession with his methods and practicing them myself. Every day at work I study how to read people and pay attention better. It’s a fascinating hobby that is actually really good brain exercise, and learning how to read body language and pay attention to detail is extremely useful when looking for jobs or attending social events. Aside from Mastermind, I have been using some dedicated reddit and tumblr pages as well as random other pages to help with my studies, and I have found some really great information. However, a lot of the pages are no longer active or can be hit or miss as far as content goes, and I’ve found myself sifting through pages of what I consider to be largely useless information to find pertinent posts (woo, alliteration!). SO, I’m gonna do a thing. I never say “once a week I’ll…” because, let’s face it, I still have no discipline; but let’s say “here and there” I will post bits and pieces of advice and information for people who would like to make deduction a helpful hobby of their own. I have a pretty good outline of notes and whatnot, so we can start from the beginning...

First of all, I very much recommend Maria Konnikova’s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, because there’s a lot you need to know about how your brain works in order to teach it to properly observe, and she does an amazing job of concisely explaining all that… but skipping over the neuroscience, I’ll do my best to start off with some simple advice for beginning to acquire Sherlocking (deduction) skills.

Basically, the goal is to learn to ‘pay attention better’- to stop and think about what you’re paying attention to, what information you’re taking in, how you’re processing it, and what you might be missing.  
(For example, when Sherlock first meets Watson and remarks that he has been in Afghanistan, one of the things that had caught his attention was Watson’s tan, something clearly not representative of London’s climate. That one detail opens up a whole world of possibilities that Sherlock narrows down by pairing that observation with others- no tan above the wrists, haggard appearance, military bearing, etc to figure out what he does and where he was stationed.)
In order learn to pay attention properly, Konnikova points out two essentials:mindfulness and motivation. You have to be present, and you have to want to pay attention. ‘Our minds are wired to wander, it’s their default; the brain is constantly gathering information from both the external world and our internal states and monitoring that information for signs of something that is worth its attention. Getting your mind not to wander requires an act of conscious will.’ Being able to properly observe also means being aware of and overcoming all sorts of biases.

The next step is applying what you know to your observations… which you will find in ‘Sherlocking’- the basics (pt.2), which is queued up and will be up shortly!
Thanks for reading, fellow nerds. <3


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review 2013-05-11 00:00
Brilliant Deduction: The Story of Real-Life Great Detectives - Matt Kuhns Brilliant Deduction: The Story of Real-Life Great Detectives by Matt Kuhns attempts to answer the question, “Who are the greatest detectives to have ever lived?” Long before the days of CSI teams, DNA experts and fingerprint analysis there were detectives who used basic skills such as observation, disguise and analysis to solve crimes. Brilliant Deduction details the lives of nine men from the 19th and 20th centuries who helped to make detective work a respected profession and inspired such famous fictional characters as Sherlock Holmes and Hercules Poirot.

Kuhns explores the lives of the best of history’s real-life detectives. Detecives such as: Eugene Francois Vidocq; Jonathan Whicher; The Pinkertons; Ignatius Pollaky; Isaiah Lees; William Burns; and Ellis Parker. It was very interesting to read about their backgrounds and the circumstances that led them to a life as a detective. For example, Eugene Vidocq had spent years living a life of crime including multiple arrests, escapes from jail, living on the run and living under assumed identities before he became involved with detective work. Many of the details of Vidocq’s life are unconfirmed and based on speculation because of his life of crime and assumed names. He is the first detective detailed in the novel and immediately captured my attention.

The cases Kuhns discussed in his book are intriguing. The methods used to garner confessions are amazing, especially when you consider that these crimes took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. Kuhns details and historical accuracy are impressive. There were times during the book when I took it upon myself to stop reading and Google some of the people, crimes, and locations to verify the facts and read more information. I became so fully engrossed in this novel I couldn’t simply read it and put it away. I had to continue to pursue information and research. It’s intoxicating.

It was a riveting read from beginning to end. In addition to reading about the detectives it was also curious to read about the advancement of detective skills. How did uncover work first begin? What about footprint analysis? DNA? Fingerprinting? Tracking and observation? Informers? For anyone interested in criminal forensics or mystery it is unbelievably fascinating. It’s a recommended read for anyone interested in true crime, mystery and history.

My only problem with this book was the number of sentences that began with the conjunctions “and” or “but.” I know that the acceptance of sentences beginning with conjunctions is a highly disputed writing style. There is a portion of the literary world that finds it entirely acceptable and then there are others, like me, who find it unacceptable and inappropriate. Conjunctions are, by definition, used to join two clauses or ideas together. Beginning a sentence with a conjunction is a style that I find annoying and distracting. I do not feel as though the majority of readers will find it as distracting as I did and, obviously, I still enjoyed the book very much. I would still highly recommend that you pick up the book and give it a read especially if you are interested in mysteries. The research and storytelling is superb!

Review by Ashley LaMar
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review 2011-08-18 11:10
Fatal Deduction
Fatal Deduction - Gayle Roper This book had a good writing style and a decent story, but it also seemed to drag on a little too long, and I really didn't like how all the non-Christians in this story were completely unlikable. If you're a die-hard fan of crossword puzzles, you might like this; otherwise, stay away.
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