Observation and Deduction

Power Up Your Deduction Skills with Critical ThinkingP

Once you start paying close attention to the world, you can start turning those observations into theories or ideas. Deduction is about thinking through a situation logically, and then applying critical thinking to what you’re seeing. Essentially, critical thinking is analyzing what you observe closely, and deduction is coming up with a conclusion based on those facts.P

Analyze What You See or Read, and Ask QuestionsP

How to Develop Sherlock Holmes-Like Powers of Observation and DeductionSEXPAND
You’re not going to find a complete guidebook out there for critical thinking, but the first step is to recapture your childlike awe of the world and start asking as many questions as possible. Konnikova suggests you start asking yourself questions:P
It’s important to teach yourself to think critically about something. So, when you store new information or learn anything new, you don’t just by rote put it in your brain, you learn to critically analyze everything. You ask yourself, “Why is this important?” “How does this connect with things I already know?” or “Why do I want to remember it?” When you’re doing that you’re training your brain to make connections between things and you’re building a network of knowledge.P
This is a bit of extra work, but boosting your reading comprehension isn’t that hard, and when you get in the habit of doing it you’ll walk away with a stronger memory of what you read. When you’re asking a lot of questions, you’re thinking critically, and that improves your skills at deduction in general. We’ve talked before about using Michel de Montaigne’s idea of writing notes in books, and that’s an excellent step to take here as well. Once you write down your opinion, and the questions you have after reading, it’ll solidify those ideas in your head longer.Photo by francois.P
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Form Connections Between What You See and What You KnowP

How to Develop Sherlock Holmes-Like Powers of Observation and DeductionSEXPAND
Of course, all the increased perception and critical thinking isn’t going to do you any good unless you can start making connections between the knowledge you have and what you see. Konnikova describes this as maximizing your mental real estate:P
It’s not necessarily that Holmes remembers more, but that he can see connections that people usually miss. People think Holmes is this paragon of logic, but that logic is innately imaginative at its core. He doesn’t think linearly, he engages his entire network of possible connections.P
Essentially, Holmes remembers so much because he encodes knowledge by seeing its uses right away. It’s similar to how the memory palace works, but instead of leveraging the memory on a space, it connects it to previous knowledge like a mind map. Traditionally, mind maps are used as brainstorming tools, but they’re a great way to take notes as well. I used mind maps for notes throughout college to connect ideas between classes together, and it helped solidify those memories in my head far better than when I simply wrote down what the professor was saying.P
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So, how does all this work together? The more connections you make, and the more often you think critically, the better you’re going to get at making deductions:P
It has to do a lot with the way that information is stored in Holmes’ brain. It’s kind of a circular argument—learning to think critically about something will also innately teach you remember something better. In doing that you’re not only enhancing your ability to make deductions but you’re also increasing your knowledge base.P
With a little practice and critical thinking, you’ll eventually be able to start making those trademark leaps in logic Holmes is known for.P

Observation and Deduction

Increase Your Knowledge BaseP

How to Develop Sherlock Holmes-Like Powers of Observation and DeductionSEXPAND
One of the big takeaways from Sherlock Holmes—or any detective out there—is that it’s rarely worth it to condense your knowledge into a specialty. Being more of a renaissance type with both your learning and your skill set will make your skills of deduction much stronger. Konnikova sums it up like so:P
You should be broad in your knowledge. Holmes says that you should have a clean “brain attic,” but he’s also a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He reads incredibly broadly—he reads about art, music—things that you would think have no bearing on his detective work. I think that’s an important lesson that we can take. It’s bad to overspecialize, and we should try to remain as curious about all the different types of things you want to learn.P
Being a student of everything isn’t an easy task, but whether you’re looking to read people better, or just increase your general knowledge base, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few places to start from our own archives:P
It takes a lot of practice and the formation of true habits to emulate the way Sherlock Holmes and other detectives view the world, but it’s not that difficult to do yourself. Once you train your brain to stop and pay attention to the tiny details, the rest of the process falls into place. Before you know it you’re able to analyze any situation—whether it’s a friend’s hangover or a stranger’s affair—in no time. Photo by Nick Webb.P
Maria Konnikova is a journalist, psychologist, and author of the upcoming book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. You can find more of her writing on her web site.P