Do you want to think like Sherlock Holmes? What is it that separates Sherlock Holmes from his long-suffering friend and side-kick Dr John Watson? What makes Holmes such a superior detective, able to piece together clues and solve problems that seem elementary to Watson only in hindsight? And can we – most of us Watsons ourselves – ever harness a bit of Holmes’ extraordinary powers of mind, not to solve crimes, but simply to improve our lives at work and home? The answer is yes, and in her book Mastermind: How to Think like Sherlock Holmes, psychologist Maria Konnikova shows us how.
Using plots and passages from the wonderfully entertaining Holmes stories, she illuminates how Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective embodies an ever-present mindfulness, and how this active mental disposition proves foundational to his success. Beginning with Holmes’ concept of the ‘brain attic’ – a metaphor for the information we choose to store in the mind and how we organise our knowledge, Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Moving through principles of logic and deduction, creativity and imagination, Konnikova puts 21st-century neuroscience and psychology in service of understanding Holmes’ methods and helps us to employ these methods to develop better strategies, solve difficult problems and enhance our creative powers.
Maria Konnikova was born in Moscow and grew up in the United States. She writes the weekly Literally Psyched column for Scientific American, and formerly wrote the popular psychology blog Artful Choice for Big Think. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where she studied psychology, creative writing, and government. She also holds an MPhil in psychology and an MA in political science from Columbia, where she is currently studying for a doctorate in psychology. Visit her website at www.mariakonnikova.com.
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