About Sherlock Holmes

You see, but you do not observe.”
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Four days ago, I was on my way to work. I was listening to some music on the train while thinking about certain conversations I had during those two weeks I spent back home in Lebanon. The main ones that caught my attention that morning were about the never ending battle between capitalism and communism on the one hand, and the struggles that children go through in class on the other.

I was reflecting the several arguments and examples used in those two conversations. I like to call them conversations rather than debates because not every discussion has to end with one party convincing the other; sometimes, we can agree to disagree, share our points of view for the sake of understanding each other and learning to live together. That is actually the most beautiful aspect in humans, in my opinion at least.

I think that the most beautiful thing in human beings, the one that truly separates us from other creatures in this universe, is our ability to connect the dots together even when the connection is not as obvious as we may find it to be. The best example I can think of would be Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpiece of a character: Sherlock Holmes.

If you ever got to read one of the many books or one of the many movies and series made about this character, there is one particular trait that keeps on coming back, which is what makes Sherlock Holmes the great detective he is known to be, given the context: his attention to detail and ability to organize his thoughts in such a way that the connection becomes very weird, hence allowing to reason in a way that seems superhuman to you and I. Once explained, although it makes to the common reader and viewer, the concept of having been to spot that particular detail and tie it to the web of ideas and clues related to the topic in hand is the true genius of Sherlock Holmes.

“Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”
-Sherlock Holmes

Coming back to the topics I was thinking about on that train to work, several theories started to pop up in my mind, all of which were trying to answer the following question that was spinning in my head whenever I would think of capitalism, communism, children struggling at school and the way they were perceived by society:

“Why did I feel that there was something in other people’s opinions and arguments on those matters?”

Without going into the details of what was discussed in each of those conversations, I noticed a particular mistake that we often tend to make whenever we are trying to solve a problem or trying to justify our position, which is what puts us – me included – on a much lower level of intelligence in comparison to geniuses such as Albert Einstein and Sherlock Holmes.

The thing is that whenever we aim to justify our position, or to find a solution to a problem, we tend to connect the dots in a linear and direct way. The main flaw with such reasoning is that it borders and limits us to a certain chain of thoughts, alternatives excluded. In other words, we tend to answer questions that require a bit of subjectivity using one-factor models, instead multi-factor ones. For example, when I was discussing the reasons as to why communism would be the ideal system for today’s world, the causes would always turn around the concept of inequality and giving everyone equal opportunities. However, this raises several other questions that could only be answered when the subject is tackled under different angles at the same time. The same applies when you try to understand why some students struggle at school more than others without actually being broken or retarded.

“To the great mind, nothing is little.”
-Sherlock Holmes

The greatest challenge we can give our minds is the analysis of every single detail of a situation, no matter how small they are. Becoming able to develop a web of ideas and concepts out of one small detail is the true proof of what our minds are truly capable of: reasoning beyond reason. It is not something we learn to do in an instant, but we learn to do for the rest of our lives, as there is always something new to learn.

“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.”
-Sherlock Holmes

This is also how some people are able to get to the bottom of things and others cannot. When investigating a crime scene, does the detective focus only on what he can see? Or does he take every single detail into consideration, both past and present, internal and external? That is the singularity of mathematics in our lives, being able to connect several ideas and concepts together in order to come up with the truth, through trial and error.

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”
-Sherlock Holmes

Categories Society, Thoughts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close