Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Maria Konnikova. Viking, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-02657-9
Readers who esteem Sherlock Holmes as superhuman will be pleasantly surprised by Konnikova’s first book, wherein the Scientific American columnist makes good on her premise that the average person can indeed train his or her mind to emulate the thinking style of the iconic fictional sleuth. Partial proof comes, in fact, from his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who in a number of cases used Holmesian deduction to rectify real miscarriages of justice. Starting with Holmes’s concept of the “brain attic,” where care is taken to maximize the use of limited space, Konnikova uses illustrative examples from the original stories to make her points, along the way correcting several misconceptions, pointing out where Holmes went astray, and highlighting his reliance on curiosity and the imagination. She stresses that training one’s brain requires “mindfulness and motivation,” and elucidates the negative effects of continuous partial attention, a hallmark of today’s wired world. (But Konnikova is no Luddite; she observes that while relying on Google can affect one’s ability to remember specific facts, it enhances the ability to know where to find them.) Not for Baker Street Irregulars alone, this fascinating look at how the mind works—replete with real-life case studies and engaging thought experiments—will be an eye-opening education for many. B&w photos. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Agency. (Jan. 7)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012
Release date: 01/03/2013
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Paperback - 273 pages - 978-0-14-312434-4
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