Of all the fictional characters available, none come off as smart, or as cunning, as the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.
â€œHolmes is an expert at person perception,â€ says Konnikova. A great example of this happens during Holmesâ€™s initial meeting with Dr. Watson, in A Study in Scarlet. Based on Watsonâ€™s demeanor, his knowledge of chemistry, and the difference in skin color between Watsonâ€™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 (Watsonâ€™s skin tones) and the unseen (Englandâ€™s involvement in the Afghan war).
â€œExperts actually see the world differently than non-experts,â€ says Konnikova. â€œIf youâ€™re an expert at card magic, youâ€™ll feel things in the cards that a normal person canâ€™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.â€
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.