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Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

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Published by: Bhargav Ram on Feb 13, 2012
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SHERLOCK HOLMES' SCIENCE OF DEDUCTION AND ANALYSIS

Note: Nos. 1-60 is from the Doyle complete canon; 61-94 are from the Basil Rathbone movies, and 95-97 are from the Young Sherlock Holmes movie.

1. Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study, nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it. Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the inquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems. Let him on meeting a fellowmortal; learn at a glance to distinguish the history of the man and the trade or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look for. By a man's finger-nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser-knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-cuffs by each of these things a man's calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent inquirer in any case is almost inconceivable. 2. You should consider your brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilled workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that a little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forgot something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones. 3. An observant man can learn by an accurate and systematic examination of all that came in his way. From a drop of water, a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it. 4. Always approach a case with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. Form no theories, just simply observe and draw inferences from your observations.

Insensibly. and argue from them that something will come to pass. 7. and practice it till it becomes second nature. It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. Never guess. because it presents no new or special features from which deductions may be drawn. They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains. There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps. 12. who. but people do not practice it much. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backward. Always lay great stress upon it. and a very easy one. The most commonplace crime is often the most mysterious. must be the truth. or analytically. 16.destructive to the logical faculty. however. Often what is out of the common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward. instead of theories to suit facts. but it does apply to detective work. whatever remains. nothing is little. It's a very bad definition. will tell you what the results would be. in nine cases out of ten. Detection is. To a great mind.5. That is a very useful accomplishment. 11. The height of a man. 13. It has all been done before. or ought to be. would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. one begins to twist the facts to suit theories. It biases the judgment. Observe the small facts upon which large inferences may depend. if you describe a train of events to them. 9. There is nothing new under the sun. 15. Most people. and so the other comes to be neglected. if you told them a result. his instinct leads him to write above the level of his own eyes. When a man writes on a wall. . When you have eliminated the impossible. The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of this profession. They can put those events together in their minds. 14. however improbable. It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery. 8. 6. can be told from the length of his stride. There are a few people. In solving a problem of this sort. It is a shocking habit . 17. the grand thing is to be able to reason backward. 10. an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner.

18. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is. It should be your business to know things. for the bigger the crime the more obvious. The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler. there is nothing as unnatural as the commonplace. 27. The main thing with people when you talk to them in an investigation is to never let them know that their information can be of the slightest importance to you. 25. . 21. 31. The most difficult crime to track is the one which is purposeless. On examining a woman's appearance. as it were. In an investigation. indeed. and for the quick analysis of cause and effect which gives the charm to the investigation. 22. When someone thinks their house is on fire. 19. or the great issues that may hang from a bootlace. Depend on it. just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify. their first instinct is at once to rush to the thing which they value most. It is good to adopt a system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things. 29. featureless crimes which are really puzzling. the most bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. but concentrate yourself upon details. where there is room for doubt whether any positive crime has been committed. Singularity is almost invariably a clue. 20. 28. It is your commonplace. so that it would be difficult to name a subject or a person on which one could not at once furnish information. Never trust to general impressions. If you listen to them under protest. You must look for consistency. and occasionally. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse. Often the strangest and most unique things are very often connected not with the larger but with the smaller crimes. you are very likely to get what you want. 30.not the best of them. as a rule. Women are never to be entirely trusted . the suggestiveness of thumb-nails. Where there is a want of it you must suspect deception. you should realize the importance of sleeves. 26. Usually in unimportant matters there is a field for the observation. the little things are infinitely the most important. 24. As a rule. In a man it is perhaps better first to take the knee of the trouser. If you do they will instantly shut up like an oyster. To train yourself to see what others overlook. is the motive. the more difficult it is to bring it home. 23.

Then when you have heard some slight indication of the course of events in an investigation. to its highest pitch. 38. however. is a somewhat rare accomplishment. An investigator should look at everything with reference to his own special subject. and become impressed by their beauty. and the same spoke comes up. where he can get it if he wants it. you should be able to guide yourself by the thousands of other similar cases which should occur to your memory. We have not yet grasped the results which the reason alone can attain to. that a man should possess all knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work. you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different. Everything comes in circles. and this in itself implies. deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it. One.32. A man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use. The ideal reason would. It's all been done before. Read nothing but the criminal news and the agony column. so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones. 40. when one had been shown a single fact in all its bearings. the only thought sometimes should be a feeling of their isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there. both before and after. It is the first quality of a criminal investigation that you should see through a disguise. 37. Therefore it is upon logic rather than upon crime that you should dwell. and will be again. 35. But to the investigator. The old wheel turns. Often the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner. Problems may be solved in the study which has baffled all those who have sought a solution by the aid of the senses. a possession of all knowledge. however. The most practical thing that you ever can do in your life would be to shut yourself up for three months and read twelve hours a day at the annals of crime. but if you shift your own point of view a little. It is not impossible. 33. To carry the art. it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to utilize all the facts which have come to his knowledge. as you will readily see. 39. . Logic is rare. It may seem to point very straight to one thing. for example. 34. can see some scattered houses along a countryside. 36. which. Your method should be founded upon the observation of trifles. Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing. The latter is always instructive. As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone. Your eyes should be trained to examine faces and not their trimmings. and the rest he can put away in the lumberroom of his library. even in these days of free education and encyclopedias. Crime is common.

In an investigation. some abrasion. 46. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. and of following docilely wherever a fact may lead you. and thinking what you would do yourself. It takes some imagination. It is the first rule of criminal investigations. having first gauged his intelligence. First real insight into the character of parents is gained by studying their children. 50. out of a number of facts. Otherwise your energy and attention must be dissipated instead of being concentrated. It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize. And their passing moods may reflect the passing moods of others. try to imagine how you would proceed under the same circumstances. and some trifling displacement which can be detected by the scientific searcher. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last. always look for a possible alternative. The Press is a most valuable institution. if you only know how to use it. save perhaps watches and bootlaces. it is only the colorless. Nothing has more individuality. but it pays. uneventful cases which are hopeless. Your thoughts about dogs should be analogous. A dog always reflects the family life. dangerous people have dangerous ones. 47. 42. Results are come by always putting yourself in the other fellow's place. Education never ends. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family. 54. 55. The features given to man are means by which he shall express his emotions. 44. 45. 53. 52.41. As long as the criminal remains upon two legs so must there be some indentation. 48. 43. . which are incidental and which vital. One characteristic that the detective should have in the Science of Deduction and Analysis is the ability to throw the brain out of action and to switch all thoughts on to lighter things wherever you think things could no longer work to advantage. and you can read a man's train of thought from his features. especially his eyes. Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest. In an investigation. 51. and. or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs. and provide against it. Make it a point of never having any prejudices. 49. Always in an investigation you should put yourself in the man's place.

When murders are committed. If. 58. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are. 68. . When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. Facts are always convincing. In an investigation. that the lowest and vilest alleys do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside. no matter how trivial. It is my belief. The average petty thief has a more extensive knowledge of the value of objects. where you then must try to string them together with some thread to make a connection. It is always good to have someone with you on whom you can thoroughly rely. on the other hand. founded upon experience. He has the nerve and he has the knowledge. To the trained ear. than the average collector. and to underestimate one's self is as much a departure from the truth as to exaggerate one's own powers. then they are sometimes a part of something more sinister. Do not agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. Houses. When you follow two separate chains of thought. Local aid is always either worthless or else biased. 62. 61.56. 70. The truth is only arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue. in order to solve the mystery. It's the conclusions drawn from facts that are frequently in error. footsteps have a characteristic rhythm as identifiable as fingerprints. they appear incidental. The best place to hide anything is where everyone can see it. 64. there usually is something that unfortunate victims have in common. you will find some point of intersection which should approximate to the truth. 65. merely because it's obvious. have definite personalities. The science of detection is very much like stringing a handful of beads. that the shape of the ear is an almost infallible means of recognition and identification to the trained eye. the suspects are the beads. that might indicate the motive. People generally forget in assuming a disguise. 69. 67. 57. One of the first principles in solving crime is never to disregard anything. like people. 66. 60. 63. 59. It's often a mistake to accept something as true.

85. The obvious always appears simple. that's murder. If other peculiarities arise. An investigator always needs something more than legends and rumors. Egomaniacs are always so much chattier when they feel they have the upper hand. you will usually find yourself justified. than those that take it. That's why so many murders remain unsolved. 84. even though they prove nothing. 83. Sometimes to leave one unguarded. Now. 72. it is not always the case. People will stick to facts. 80. . 87. one has to take chances. if you go beyond facts. Feline not canine. 74. 86. in order to catch someone. whatever it is. Suicides invariably leave notes behind them. the footprint being balanced from toe to heel. Murder like matrimony. imagine what might have happened. such as. When examining footprints. use the imagination as the criminal does. Never trust plans already made by other people.71. When women are involved in crime. it's best to duplicate the conditions under which the crime occurred. 78. In an attempt to solve a crime. they have a habit of becoming to widely known. Murders do not. Surgical instruments that save life are hardly more pleasant to look at. 76. it's good to know that. 81. Even when facts clearly indicate one thing. No one ever looks twice at a postman. 73. clubfooted people invariably bring their full weight down on the toe. 77. and act upon it. and when you drive a person to suicide. you must have proof. The imagination is where crimes conceived. 79. Proof. such as. the footprint being made by a person not really clubfooted. 75. but wearing a clubfooted shoe. and where they're solved. generally has a motive. In this profession. is apt to be peculiarly subtle and cruel. then the footprint must have some other compensating deformity to explain it. Whenever setting a trap. it's best to bait it with the food they like. can be a skillful trap for one's opponent. Poison is a woman's weapon. Often a good disguise to assume is that of a postman. their method. 82.

96. Anything is possible. The terrifying part about blackmail is that the victim is afraid to fight the accusation. Every crime.88. Never trust the obvious. if he were posing as a madman. 92. 93. one must adapt oneself to the tools at hand." What is the difference between observation and inference? In: Science [Edit] Observation is the process of gathering objective data. 94. into a ruthless killer. 97. sooner or later they'll feel the urge to kill again. 95. 91. Usually this is done with the help of statistical analysis. Watson. and imagination. their name becomes smeared and sometimes their life is ruined. always exhibits a pattern and a purpose in it. . Unless there is method in his madness. which demands attention and practice. Problems of logic. "Come. The temptation of the sudden wealth could possibly turn a once seemingly harmless person. and inference is the process of making some decisions about what the data mean. It's not unlike a finely tuned musical instrument. Purpose and motive are the last things a sane man would imply. 89. until proven otherwise. mathematical equations and riddles are some ways of fine-tuning the mind. Once a person has dipped their fingers in blood. A great detective relies on perception. No matter what situation arises. no matter how false. Once the accusation is made. come! The game is afoot. 90. The deductive mind never rests. intelligence. Murder is an insidious thing.

4. 9. Online Research | Fact. 7. Inference 1. 5. knowledge and emotion. Inferences express probability. Valid inferences are based on sufficient and relevant evidence. artists. The trained observer sees significant details. A sharp eye for details is an important skill for many professions: scientists. accountants. Observers exposed to the same sense impressions do not necessarily see. 6. 6. 2. Inference is the interpretation of facts. physicians. 4. among others. hear. Our training and background provide a basis for our inferences. Inferences enable us to assess and evaluate conditions and make predictions. Observation equips us with the material for thought. during or after observation Confined to what one observes. reflection and judgment. Attention plays an important part in observation. Observation is influenced by experience. Observation is contact with the world through the use of the senses. not certainty. 2.) 3. Observation & Inference | Critical Thinking Statement of fact Made after observation or experience Statement of inference Made anytime—before. 8. 3. We draw inferences on the basis of observations.Observation 1. taste or smell the same things. 5. One can be trained to be a more effective observer. Goes beyond what one observes. (A statement of fact is an observation statement that can be verified by the use of the senses. Some people are more reliable witnesses than others. feel. instructors. or on conclusions drawn from previous observations. may .

inferences. For example. You can use the entire sequence for a longer class. and observing. I always use this sequence early in the term. Before class: • • • Students should have read the book’s introductory notes on observation and inference. you can reference this exercise in future classes for a concrete example of the way audience changes an essay. My second goal is for students to discover the role that audience plays not only in the style of an essay but in how its thesis is conceived. in addition to examples of inventive thesis-making.cannot be made about the future Limited number possible High probability (not certainty as perception dependent on individual interpretive processes) Tends to bring people together and further agreement concern the past. Students should be familiar Roe Ethridge’s Refrigerator in Chapter 1. My first goal is to familiarize the students with the process of making observations and inferences. first by asking the students to observe visual texts and then by asking them to observe their own writing. I pass around . discussing the responses at the start of the following class. I love this sequence of exercises because it introduces so much. The letter should be addressed to their classmates. present or future Unlimited number possible Represents some degree of probability Tends to create distance between people and more likely to cause disagreement Surefire Class: Observation and Inference This sequence pulls exercises and readings from different parts of the book to introduce the class to ideas of observation. In class: • Penny Exercise. I’ve turned step four into an at-home journal assignment. They should bring a hard copy of this letter to class. Conveniently. or you can prune sections away if you have a shorter class. Students should have completed an introductory letter describing themselves and their hopes for the class. and the students practically take themselves through it. and audience. inference. I ask the students to take out a piece of scrap paper and draw a penny from memory. I begin the class with the “penny‿ exercise from the last edition of Seeing & Writing. When they are finished.

I refresh them on the definition of an inference. What does each difference between the two letters suggest? What is the intellectual leap that can be made from the evidence presented? This is a great gateway to thesis-making and also conveniently introduces the idea of audience for further discussion—and students have discovered it on their own. The most obvious inference. or making an argument. What are the differences between their original letters and the new ones? They usually begin by saying that one is “more formal‿ than the other. the details of an essay provide the arsenal from which to make an argument yet are often omitted or not described adequately. For each observation on the fridge. of course. To become good writers. and the more detail the better! The goal is to practice looking closely at a common object. writing an essay. I now ask them to re-write the letter on a piece of scrap paper. The refrigerator exercise allows them to practice observation and inference with a visual text. I ask what they mean by “more formal. As many as possible.‿ I had initially instructed them to consider their classmates the audience for this assignment. Practice with written texts: observing writing. I explain that this is how theses are made: observations produce inferences. I instruct the class to turn to page 4 of Seeing & Writing to the picture of the refrigerator. But upon talking more. with their new audience being Mary Sue Coleman. is that students feel self-conscious writing to an audience that is an authority figure. the process should always begin with observation. and we make a list of differences between their drawings and the actual coin. After a good fifteen minutes of listing observations. Now I want them to take those same skills and practice with written texts. and they change their writing accordingly. and sentence structure. Now we practice making inferences again. I then ask the class to yell out observations about the refrigerator as I write them on the board. again asking for observations. Practice with visual texts: observing a refrigerator.• • • some pennies. Just as the smallest details of the penny distinguish it yet are often overlooked. their original focus or thesis may have changed. the president of the University. When drawing a picture. After about 15 minutes (they don’t have to necessarily finish the entire letter). Now we practice being “good seers‿ for ourselves. I then ask for an inference that can be made about that observation. word choice. Then they may mention that they omitted certain ideas or content included in their original letters—that with this new audience. and inferences are food for thought for a thesis statement. What specifically did they omit and include? Inferring and making theses. I ask for examples of the changes in grammar. So I ask them to get out their “introductory letters. I’m back up the board.‿ I emphasize details. we must become good readers and seers. and how inaccurate our observations of everyday objects can be. This opens a discussion about how little we look. the students come up with impressive inferences on audience and .

tone. one student may note that the way that they wrote their second letters not only revealed their preconceptions about Mary Sue Coleman but also their preconceptions about each other. But for now. observing them. . They assumed that a casual tone would be appropriate/acceptable.‿ Of course. The inferences can quickly turn into the first half of a thesis statement. and in future classes (perhaps the next class?) You can talk about how a thesis statement not only states inferences but asks or addresses why these inferences are significant. or they used it because the potential for friendship and acquaintance existed with the class but not with Coleman. making inferences. a student often changes his or her style based on assumptions about that audience. and developing an argument based on concrete evidence. this is not a fullyformed thesis. such as “When writing to a certain audience. you have illustrated for the students how one goes about taking two documents. For instance.

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