Of all the fictional characters available, none come off as smart, or as cunning, as the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.
“Holmes is an expert at person perception,” says Konnikova. A great example of this happens during Holmes’s initial meeting with Dr. Watson, in A Study in Scarlet. Based on Watson’s demeanor, his knowledge of chemistry, and the difference in skin color between Watson’s tanned face and pale wrist, Holmes deduces Watson is a military doctor, who recently returned from the Anglo-Afghan war. He takes all of the clues into account, both the seen (Watson’s skin tones) and the unseen (England’s involvement in the Afghan war).
“Experts actually see the world differently than non-experts,” says Konnikova. “If you’re an expert at card magic, you’ll feel things in the cards that a normal person can’t feel: are they new, have they been properly stored, how much does the paper stock weigh, and how many cards are in your hand at any given point.”
But Holmes is also an expert at identifying his own biases–i.e. the memories in his brain attic that might influence his perception of a person or situation.
For more, read Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.
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