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In the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, we have the master of deduction. Sir Arthur himself was a physician trained in
diagnostics whose hobbies included investigation of the paranormal. Sherlock offers not merely exquisite entertainment, but
also lessons in problem solving. To discover Sherlock's "Method", let us gather his advice on the subject.


"I will not bias your mind by suggesting theories or suspicions, Watson," said he; "I wish you simply to report facts in the fullest
possible manner to me, and you can leave me to do the theorizing." 63.

"By George!" cried the inspector. "How ever did you see that?" "Because I looked for it." 48.

"Sherlock Holmes had listened with the utmost intentness to the statement ... He now drew out his notebook and jotted down
one or two memoranda." 50.

He held his open notebook upon his knee, and from time to time he jotted down figures and memoranda in the light of his
pocket-lantern. 18.

"This case is quite sufficiently complicated to start with without the further difficulty of false information." 89.

"It is just these very simple things which are extremely liable to be overlooked." 24.

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." 58.

"On the contrary, to my mind nothing could be more clear. Let me run over the principal steps. We approached the case, you
remember, with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. We had formed no theories. We were simply there to
observe and to draw inferences from our observations." 77.

"... (the old home was) surrounded by a high sunbaked wall mottled with lichens and topped with moss, the sort of wall - " "Cut
out the poetry, Watson," said Holmes severely. "I note that it was a high brick wall." 93.

I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would at once have hurried into the house and plunged into a study of the mystery.
Nothing appeared to be further from his intention. With an air of nonchalance which, under the circumstances, seemed to me
to border upon affectation, he lounged up and down the pavement, and gazed vacantly at the ground, the sky, the opposite
houses and the line of railings. ... I had no doubt that he could see a great deal which was hidden from me. 5.

"I can see nothing," said I, handing it back to my friend. "On the contrary, Watson, you can see everything. You fail, however, to
reason from what you see. You are too timid in drawing your inferences." 34.


"They say genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains," he remarked with a smile. "It's a very bad definition, but it does apply
to detective work." 8. "I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule." 16. "But why not eat?" "Because the faculties
become refined when you starve them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion
gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.
Therefore, it is the brain I must consider." 88. "We all need help sometimes," said I. 22. One of Sherlock Holmes's defects - if,
indeed, one may call it a defect - was that he was exceedingly loath to communicate his full plans to any other person until the
instant of their fulfilment. Partly it came no doubt from his own masterful nature, which loved to dominate and surprise those
who were around him. Partly also from his professional caution, which urged him never to take any chances. The result,
however, was very trying for those who were acting as his agents and assistants." 67. "Yes," he said in answer to my remark,
"you have seen me miss my mark before, Watson. I have an instinct for such things, and yet it has sometimes played me false. It
seemed a certainty when first it flashed across my mind in the cell at Winchester, but one drawback of an active mind is that
one can always conceive alternative explanations which would make our scent a false one. And yet - and yet - Well, Watson, we
can but try." 92. "I can afford to talk of my blunders, for you know my work well enough to be aware of my successes." 86. "I
have been beaten four times - three times by men, and once by a woman." 31. "I said that he was my superior in observation
and deduction. If the art of the detective began and ended in reasoning from an armchair, my brother would be the greatest
criminal agent that ever lived. But he has no ambition and no energy. ... he was absolutely incapable of working out the
practical points which must be gone into before a case could be laid before a judge or jury." 43. (In reference to his brother
Mycroft Holmes.) "He has two out of the three qualities necessary for the ideal detective. He has the power of observation and
that of deduction. He is only wanting in knowledge, and that may come in time." 13.


"We are coming now rather into the region of guesswork," said Dr. Mortimer. "Say, rather, into the region where we balance
probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination, but we have always some material basis on
which to start our speculation." 59. "Ah, that is good luck. I could only say what was the balance of probability. I did not at all
expect to be so accurate. "But it was not mere guesswork?" "No, no: I never guess. It is a shocking habit destructive to the
logical faculty. What seems strange to you is only so because you do not follow my train of thought or observe the small facts
upon which large inferences may depend." 15. "If I take it up I must understand every detail,"

" 40. "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic. and you have to stock it with such furniture as you
choose. Watson... "You see. "I can't make bricks without clay. a provisional one. "You are right. It biases the judgment." 33. "I
thought over every possible course. "It would cease to be a danger if we could define it. . There is nothing new under the sun.
Calgary. the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study. The most difficult
crime to track is the one which is purposeless. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last. Watson.. a logician could
infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. "Elementary. So all life is a
great chain." 6." 2. but we can only test their value by further inquiry." answered Holmes thoughtfully. "Data! data! data!" he
cried impatiently. smiling at my expression of surprise. Intense mental concentration has a curious way of blotting out what has
passed.. and yet I lack the one or two which are needful to complete my theory. you may find it pointing in an equally
uncompromising manner to something entirely different." 47. which shall focus the whole art of detection into one volume. His
ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. laughing. "it is my business to know things. Perhaps I have trained myself to see
what others overlook. so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. "I think that I have seen now all that there is to see..
where he can get it if he wants it. but if you shift your own point of view a little. I'll have them!" 42."69." "But the Solar
System!" I protested. "Take time to consider. and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library. "you do find it
very hard to tackle the facts. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth
travelled round the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it. "It is one of those
instances where the reasoner can produce an effect which seems remarkable to his neighbour." 38." 1. The smallest point may
be the most essential. or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic
walls and can distend to any extent. There is one rather obvious line of investigation. He will have nothing but the tools which
may help him in doing his work. effect.he propped his testtube in the rack. it is odd if you can't unravel the thousand and first.
"Well. Like all other arts. but of these he has a large assortment." said Holmes demurely." "To forget it!" "You see.you really
should." 78." he said. A MASTER OF KNOWLEDGE .courtesy Jock F. My surprise reached a climax." said he. my dear Watson"
.Excerpts from The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to establish the Sherlock Method. 275 9853." said
Holmes. 36. the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort
that he comes across.. . Holmes shook his head gravely. though possibly a meretricious. "It is a capital mistake to theorize
before you have all the evidence..." 66. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to
my work. "I say now. we have several." 27. one simply knocks out all the central inferences and presents one's audience with
the starting-point and the conclusion. after doing so. "It may seem to point very straight to one thing. "You appear to be
astonished. Holmes grinned at the last item. "I propose to devote my declining years to the composition of a textbook. It has all
been done before." said he. and began to lecture with the air of a professor addressing his class . nor is life long enough to
allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it. . "No data yet." he said. "Let us take it link by link." 29. 14
October 1992. So each of my cases displaces the last . however. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he
takes into his brain-attic." 74. We should be laughed out of court if we came with such a story and such evidence. "From a drop
of water ." 3. If. The barrister who has his case at his fingers' ends and is able to argue with an expert upon his own subject finds
that a week or two of the courts will drive it all out of his head once more."it is not really difficult to construct a series of
inferences. so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out." "Not a shadow of one ." he explained." 28.
Now this is not purposeless. "What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently: "you say that we go round the sun. and if
you have all the details of a thousand at your finger ends." 39.. not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones. "There is
a strong family resemblance about mis- APPENDIX A PAGE 2 deeds. "Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing. when I found
incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. therefore." 54." 80." 4.
".. each dependent upon its predecessor and each simple in itself. "Never mind.. and this is the best. KNOWING WHEN IS
ENOUGH "Surely we have a case. because the latter has missed the one little point which is the basis of the deduction. and all in
the most perfect order.only surmise and conjecture. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge
you forget something that you knew before. "Read it up . I cannot guarantee that I carry all the facts in my mind. McTavish.
"Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it. one may produce a startling. Who is it who profits by it?" 44. "Ah! there
lies our problem. "Education never ends. But I'll have them.." 25.. "You have a theory?" "Yes." he answered. as I said then. I
hold in this hand several threads of one of the strangest cases which ever perplexed a man's brain. said he." 79. It is of the
highest importance. that a man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use. "You said
you had a clue?" "Well." said he.

whatever remains. "You will not apply my precept. 26. Calgary. "Eliminate all other factors. "just sit down in this chair and let
me preach to you for a little." 35.. would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led
up to that result. I don't know quite what to do. "All is well that ends well." said he with something of the air of a clinical
professor expounding to his class. balanced one against the other." 9. "How often have I said to you that when you have
eliminated the impossible. far from making the case more difficult. I had arrived at this result. My case is." said Gregson. In the
everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward." said Holmes. "This complicates matters. 7. "It is an old maxim of
mine that when you have excluded the impossible. "This is all an insoluble mystery to me." said I. smiling. Watson. they were
complicated enough before. "I knew that seclusion and solitude were very necessary for my friend in those hours of intense
mental concentration during which he weighed every particle of evidence. "I ought to know by this time that when a fact
appears to be opposed to a long train of deductions. for no other hypothesis would meet the facts." 17. whatever remains. who
has a bad habit of telling his stories wrong end foremost." "You're sure it doesn't simplify them?" observed Holmes.. "I simply
can't leave that case in this condition. must be the truth. "Now Watson. . "You are like my friend. and made up his mind as to
which points were essential and which immaterial." 81. Most people. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning
backward. THE METHOD OF EXCLUSION "By the method of exclusion. the grand thing is to be able to reason backward." 10.
rubbing his hands.courtesy Jock F. and a very easy one. however improbable. shaking his head. Let me see if I can make it
clearer. "that all the queen's horses and all the queen's men cannot avail in this matter. Sit down on this bench. "We must fall
back upon the old axiom that when all other contingencies fail." 70. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely
connected case. "These strange details." 30. but people do not practise it much. must be the truth. "it clears every instant." said
Holmes. "I should like a few more facts before I get so far as a theory . almost complete.." 85." 71. 275 9853. THE ART OF
REFLECTION "I think I should like to sit quietly for a few minutes and think it out. how dangerous it always is to reason from
insufficient data. As I focus my mind upon it. "Heaven knows. "Look here Watson. and the one which remains must be the
truth. "Let us see then if we can narrow it down. "that I do not quite follow you." he said when the cloth was cleared. Watson.
They can put those events together in their minds. It's wrong . laughing. as I have told you. "At least we may accept it as a
working hypothesis. That is a very useful accomplishment.I'll swear that it's wrong. "I'm afraid. Simple as the case seems now.
and the very point which appears to complicate a case is. but we must not err on the side of overconfidence. "It grows darker
instead of clearer. Light a cigar and let me expound. come." 72.it's all wrong .." "I hardly expected that you would. APPENDIX A
PAGE 3 to be much deeper and more subtle than I at first supposed. Every instinct that I possess cries out against it. let us judge
the situation by this new information. "Well now Watson." "Simple!" I ejaculated. In solving a problem of this sort." 82.
however improbable. if you told them a result. my dear Watson. will tell you what the result would be." said he." 37.. if you
describe a train of events to them. have really had the effect of making it less so." "I confess.Excerpts from The Complete
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to establish the Sherlock Method." 11. whatever remains. however. it invariably
proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation." 57." said Holmes. when duly considered and scientifically handled..
and allow me to lay the evidence before you .. "come to an entirely erroneous conclusion which shows. "I begin to suspect that
this matter may turn out THE RULE OF REASONING BACKWARD "I have already explained to you that what is out of the
common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance..." 90. ". sir." said I." he said. "I had. I must reconsider my ideas. "Surely. it
seems rather less impenetrable."12. McTavish.. "All day I turned these facts over in my mind. "I should have more faith. "we
have half an hour to ourselves. 20." 19. .. . Let us make good use of it." 14." 55.. there may be something deeper underlying it.
There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically. Please arrange your thoughts and let me
know. or analytically. and argue from them that something will come to pass. who.." 75." he said. THINGS OFTEN SEEM
INEXPLICABLE "The more outre and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined." 73. however
improbable must be the truth?" 21." said Holmes. 14 October 1992. There are few people. and so the other comes to be
neglected. and I should value your advice. the one which is most likely to elucidate it. and to find that line of least resistance
which my poor friend had declared to be the starting-point of every investigation. "Come.. constructed alternative theories. in
their due sequence exactly what those events are ." he answered. Dr." "On the contrary. endeavouring to hit upon some theory
which could reconcile them all. 46. we have been compelled to reason backward from .

"Well. "You must act. and so discover the truth behind the data. "Sherlock Holmes had. One should always look for a possible
alternative. . you will find some point of intersection which should approximate to the truth." 87. "Start her up. "Any news?" he
asked eagerly." 56. then?" "By no means. One of the most remarkable characteristics of Sherlock Holmes was his power of
throwing his brain out of action and switching all his thoughts on to lighter things whenever he had convinced himself that he
could no longer work to advantage." 84." 49. Inspector. I was prepared for a hound." 64." 94.. 83. . and thinking what you
would do yourself. When you follow two separate chains of thought. for having exposed you to this fright. "There go two of my
threads. "You have not lost heart. having first gauged his intelligence. THE RULE OF PERSPECTIVE "You know my methods in
such cases. "Keep your revolver near you night and day." said Holmes. To those who master the method. It is used to gather the
data. I have felt like one of those poor rabbits when the snake is writhing towards it. and the odds are that one or other of them
guides us to the truth. is a negative one. inexorable evil... "Very well. as I expected." said Holmes. Watson.Excerpts from The
Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to establish the Sherlock Method. my dear Watson!" CLIENT WISE ." 76.
Sir Henry. there again you ask me more than I can possibly answer.. CONCLUSIONS The Sherlock Method then is founded upon
common sense and specialist knowledge. my dear Watson. It is the first rule of criminal investigation. We must cast round for
another scent. and never relax your precautions." 51. ". This detective procedure has much application in any problem solving
situation.. good-humouredly. Its exercise depends upon sufficient observation." 41. "My report. It takes some imagination..
white hands . I have a check for five hundred pounds which should be cashed early. It seems otherwise only to those who skip
steps: either of data or reason. but not for such a creature as this. McTavish. to link the data. by always putting yourself in the
other fellow's place.." 52." 32. for the drawer is quite capable of stopping it if he can. madam. So it is. things are "Elementary.
effects to causes. Watson. in a very remarkable degree." 23. One of our greatest statesmen has said that a change of work is
the best rest. but now at last it came to my aid. There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against
you. . For two hours the strange business in which we had been involved appeared to be forgotten ." 61. 14 October 1992.. we
progress. "You'll get results. I seem to be in the grasp of some resistless. "We all learn by experience. Solution is singular.
Nothing but energy can save you. or you are lost. and provide against it. I try to imagine how I should myself have proceeded
under the same circumstances. I gave my mind a thorough rest by plunging into a chemical analysis.courtesy Jock F. And the fog
gave us little time to receive him. meanwhile take my assurance that the clouds are lifting and that I have every hope that the
light of truth is breaking through. "We owe you a deep apology. "I have no desire to make mysteries.. but it pays.he sank his
face into his thin." 53." 45." 65."I have felt helpless. CONTINGENCIES AND ALTERNATIVES ". "Nay. I put myself in the man's
place." 62. Deduction is the skill tool to forge links in a chain of reason. for it's time that we were on our way. I had seven
different schemes for getting a glimpse of that telegram. but it is impossible at the moment of action to enter into long and
complex explanations. 275 9853. "Luck had been against us again and again in this inquiry. This process is completely logical."
68. This is no time for despair. But we hold several threads in our hands. I don't profess to understand it yet. Watson." 60. and
your lesson this time is that you should never lose sight of the alternative.. "We progress. "Now we will take another line of
reasoning." 91. which no foresight and no precautions can guard against. "To tell the truth" ." "Tut! tut!" cried Sherlock
Holmes.. APPENDIX A PAGE 4 THE NEED FOR RECESS "Well. Calgary. the power of detaching his mind at will. and.. Watson. man.
but I could hardly hope to succeed the very first time.

19. Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Adventure Adventure of of the the Bruce-Partington Bruce-Partington Disappearance of
Lady Frances Carfax. p321. p519. A Study in Scarlet. A Study in Scarlet. p137.. A Study in Scarlet. Baskervilles. Baskervilles. 58. A
Study in Scarlet. p246. p219. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. p461. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. Five Orange
Pips. The Problem of Thor Bridge. 81. p683. p636. Valley of Fear. Baskervilles. The Problem of Thor Bridge. The Adventure of the
Solitary Cyclist. The Adventure of the Dancing Men. p964. p1068. p1069. p971. p747. p693. 78. Baskervilles. 17. 22. 64. The
Adventure of the Devil's Foot. p789. 76. 51. 47. 62.C. The Sign of Four. 63. p980. The Sign of Four. The Naval Treaty. p570.
p31.courtesy Jock F. The Yellow Face. Doubleday. 275 9853. p925. 40. 10. 16. The Adventure of Black Peter. 14 October 1992.
45. 42. Original copyrights by Harper and Brothers. 12. p764. p29. The Boscombe Valley Mystery. p907. p657. 84. Hound of the
Baskervilles. p895. International Magazine Company and Liberty Weekly. The Problem of Thor Bridge. p135. 23. 7. 18. 67. The
Adventure of the Empty House. 53. The Sign of Four. p359. The Musgrave Ritual. the Second Stain. p883. p1121. Baskervilles.
p98. p698. p322. The Greek Interpreter. p457. The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone. Baskervilles. The Adventure of Black Peter.
p27. 86. The Sign of Four. 3. The Sign of Four. 54. 34. 35. 2. Quarter. p24. p84. p642. 9. 79. 37. p521. p683. 24. p902. 26. p223.
66. 77. 13. A Case of Identity. p272. p1059. p628. Baskervilles. Adventure of the Cardboard Box. 74. p929. A Study in Scarlet. 80.
p1064. 91. p754. Baskervilles. 28. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. The Sign of Four. 46. A Study in Scarlet. 57. 89. Plans.
55. p950. 20. p92. 8. p111. The 85. 87. 82. A Study in Scarlet. p541. NOTES: 1. Plans. 33. Adventure of Wisteria Lodge. p110.
p315. 6. p511. 50. The Sign of Four. 43. 5. The Adventure of the Speckled Band. The Naval Treaty. Adventure of Wisteria Lodge.
p687. The Adventure of the Retired Colourman. 59. The Sign of Four. 27. p109. The Sign of Four. Baskervilles. p28. 72. 75. p736.
65. Adventure of the Red Circle.Excerpts from The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to establish the
Sherlock Method. The Sign of Four. 92. 90. The Adventure of the Dancing Men. p192. p1014. The Complete Sherlock Holmes in
two volumes published by Doubleday. p895. 21. 30. McTavish. p484. A Study in Scarlet. p412. p91. p311. 56. 31. p436. 83. p295.
His Last Bow. 44. 48. Collier's Weekly. p93. p761. Valley of Fear. 29. 69. p136. A Study in Scarlet. 61. p141. The Sign of Four. The
Boscombe Valley Mystery. 4. p213. p875. p23. 71. p692. . 32. p699. p870. Calgary. Adventure of the Red Circle. p926. p904. The
Adventure of the Dancing Men. p696. The Adventure of the Missing ThreeThe The The The The The The The The The The The
The The The Adventure of Adventure of Adventure of Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the
Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the Hound of the the Abbey Grange. 68. Plans.
11. Adventure of Wisteria Lodge. p83. 70. p132. The Adventure of the Retired Colourman. Five Orange Pips. 60. 38. 41. The
Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. The Boscombe Valley Mystery. The Crooked Man. p204. The The The The The The The The
The The The The The The The APPENDIX A PAGE 5 Hound of the Baskervilles. The Sign of Four. p49. His Last Bow. The Adventure
of the Beryl Coronet. the Abbey Grange. 94. . A Study in Scarlet. p96. The Sign of Four. A Study in Scarlet. 25. Doyle. The
Problem of Thor Bridge. 36. p50. p21. The Sign of Four. A Study in Scarlet. p225. 15. 52. Five Orange Pips. Sir A. 73. Baskervilles.
14. 93. 39. Baskervilles. 49.. 88. Baskervilles. Adventure of the Cardboard Box. Adventure of the Red Circle. p771. p757. p1114.
p99. p211. p567. p30.