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How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes


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Image of the Week #74, January 7th, 2013:


From: Sherlock Holmes, the mindful detective by Maria Konnikova at Literally Psyched.

Source: Sidney Paget, Wikimedia Commons

Sidney Paget’s illustrations of Sherlock Holmes not only helped influence the film noir genre with their strong shadows, they also took the character of Holmes and ingrained a very specific image of him in the minds of all contemporary and future readers of Conan Doyle’s famous character. While Sherlock Holmes exhorts us, as Literally Psyched blogger Maria Konnikova writes, “to observe, not merely to see” many people familiar with the character may not realize how much of their mental image of the character stems from the hundreds of illustrations Sidney Paget did over the course of his career.

From Konnikova’s post and her new book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes:

“Every day, countless items, some glanced, or heard, or felt, or smelled only briefly–perhaps without ever registering in our consciousness–affect our minds and play into our decisions.”

Our mental landscapes are filled with hundreds if not thousands of fictional characters – how many of those images come from descriptions in the text rather than the quiet strength of illustrations?



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  1. 1. dubina 5:01 pm 01/9/2013

    Interesting questions:

    ******

    From Konnikova’s post and her new book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes:

    “Every day, countless items, some glanced, or heard, or felt, or smelled only briefly–perhaps without ever registering in our consciousness–affect our minds and play into our decisions.”

    Bora Zivkovic:

    “Our mental landscapes are filled with hundreds if not thousands of fictional characters – how many of those images come from descriptions in the text rather than the quiet strength of illustrations?”

    ******

    “Dr. Robert Hare estimates that 1% of the population in North America are psychopaths, the term that he uses. The population of the United States is more than 305 million. That means, according to his standards, there are more than 3 million psychopaths in the country.”

    “In The Sociopath Next Door, Dr. Martha Stout says 4% of the population are sociopaths. That would add up to 12 million of them in the United States.”

    “As you can see, estimates are all over the place. The Lovefraud Risk Calculator only projects the number of sociopaths in a community. The calculation assumes that between 1% and 4% of the U.S. population are psychopaths or sociopaths.”

    ******

    Holmes is now portrayed as a resident of New York City (“Elementary”, CBS). Jonny Lee Miller is cast in that role as a “good psychopath” (though Ms. Konnikova has objected to characterization of the PBS character played by Benedict Cumberbatch).

    Psychopaths and sociopaths probably find “Elementary” interesting and instructive to some extent. Does that make it a mass media training ground?

    Link to this
  2. 2. CliffClark 7:19 pm 01/9/2013

    The character of Sherlock Holmes was based on a medical doctor. It would be of great benefit if current medical doctors, especially general practitioners/family physicians, thought and behaved more like Holmes.

    Link to this

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