How To Use Analytical Reasoning Like The Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes
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How To Use Analytical Reasoning Like The Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes

Want to solve mysteries but now sure where to start? How about here?

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Sherlock Holmes has swept the world by storm since he debuted in "A Study In Scarlet," which was published in the Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. This famous detective has solved many cases over the span of his lifetime and continues to point out things that, as he claims, "you see but do not observe," to help solve his cases. John Watson, his faithful companion has always marveled at Sherlock Holme's impressive intellectual skills and has always asked the question, "is it possible for someone else to learn them?"

The answer, is yes, but honestly, I do not think anyone can match up Sherlock's superhuman analytical skills but, here are few tips on how to think like the world's most famous and greatest detective.

Tip #1: Make sure you are always aware and observing your surroundings, including the minute details.

There are many things that we can pull from just observing the world around us. For instance, I can infer, since you are reading this article, that you either have an interest in Sherlock Holmes or you are reading this because you know the author (me), you are literate, own a laptop or some other device that has access to the internet, and that you were just recently browsing through Facebook or twitter.

Make sure you pay attention to the small details, because these are often the ones that tell us the most about a person or an object, and it will be these small little facts where are big inferences come from. For example, in "A Study in Pink" from the BBC hit television "Sherlock", Sherlock Holmes makes these observations of John by just looking at him. (Please click on the link below to watch clip.)


The more small details you notice the better the more facts you will have to go on when you begin to piece together your theories about a particular person, item, or event.

Tip #2: Develop a list of hypotheses that explains the causes of the facts you have observed.

It is important to begin to think about some of the causes of the facts that you have noticed. For example, taking in the example from the clip above of Sherlock deducing who John's brother was by his phone, (which, later turns out to be his sister but that is beyond the point,) Sherlock begins making a list of causes to the observations he has about the scratches on the phone, which helps him point out the relationship status on John's relative.

If you follow Sherlock's line of reasoning he gives reasons for why the phone was in the condition that it was in, being kept in the same pocket as keys and coins, must be a drunk because there are scuff marks around the edges of the charger port, and the engravings tell Sherlock about the failed relationship between Harry and Clara, and since Harry gave the phone away, says that Harry broke it off with Clara and not the other way around.

We can make the same deductions. For example, in my New Testament class there is a girl who sits beside me. I deduced before even talking to her that she was a horseback rider and probably part of the equestrian team. How did I know? I made a bunch of observations.

1. She was wearing her socks very high over her riding pants, and loose shoes that are easy to slip off but still cover her toes.

2. She was also wearing a bracelet that had looked like a bit that would go into a horse's mouth.

3. She carried herself proudly and with very good posture.

These observations may not seem like much but once I began to put possible causes next to the facts the story became more clear.

1. Her high socks over her riding pants legs most likely signal that she was going to the barn later. This theory can be further enforced by the fact that she was wearing close-toed shoes that were easy to remove, probably because she was going to be putting on riding boots later. Though, these facts could also point to the idea that she just likes this type of fashion sense, but that was less likely.

2. Her bracelet was a dead give away. Yes, it could follow the second line of reasoning from my first observations with her pants, socks, and shoes, that this is just a fashion thing, but again, it seems more likely that the bracelet held an association with what she enjoyed or a passion of hers. In this case, horses and horse-back riding.

3. The way she carries herself says a lot about who she is. Good posture is one of the vital things that is taught to any horseback rider because it is important for the safety of the rider and the horse. It also looks better if someone is sitting properly and holding their posture up which gives off this air of confidence. Because she holds herself this way and holds it, even when she was sitting down, revealed to me an unconscious effort to maintain this good posture, thus furthering the idea that this particular student was a horse back rider, since this theory fit with the other parts of evidence. (Another theory was that she was just taught proper posture as a child by her parent's but this theory wasn't as strong as the previous one.)

Tip #3: Throw out the unlikely causes.

So for this tip, I am just going to show you another clip from BBC's Sherlock because, I think Sherlock Holmes explains it the best. But this clip comes from season 2 episode 2, the "The Hound of Baskerville."


Tip #4: Produce an overarching theory to fit all the facts, not the other way around.

(Please watch this clip before going on to the next section)


It is important to fit your theory to the facts present and not the other way around. Contrary to modern political belief, there is no such thing as an alternative fact. Anything that is a fact has to be solid and unchanging. Now in order to understand why facts the way they are, you have to connect them with theories. Now, theories can change but you have to make sure that whatever theory you end on includes all of the facts, or else, you will find that you end up incorrect.

That sums up on how to deduce information like Sherlock Holmes! Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and go start solving the little and big mysteries of life! You never know what you might find!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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