Sherlock

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P ublished in Great Britain in 2013 by Canongate Books
Ltd,
14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE
www.canongate.tv
This digital edition first published in 2013 by Canongate
Books
Copyright © Maria Konnikova, 2013
The moral right of the author has been asserted
Portions of this book appeared in a different form on the
website Big Think (www.bigthink.com) and in Scientific
American
First published in the United States of America by Viking
Penguin, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10013, USA
Photograph credits:
Page here (bottom left): United States Government
here (bottom right): Wikimichels (Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)
here (bottom left): Biophilia curiosus (Creative Commons

Attribution 3.0)
here (bottom right): Brandon Motz (Creative Commons
Attribution 2.0)
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available on request
from the British Library
ISBN 978 0 85786 724 7
Export ISBN 978 0 85786 725 4
eISBN 978 0 85786 726 1
Typeset in Minion Pro
Designed by Francesca Belanger

To Geoff

Choice of attention—to pay attention to
this and ignore that—is to the inner life
what choice of action is to the outer. In
both cases man is responsible for his
choice and must accept the consequences.
As Ortega y Gasset said: “Tell me to what
you pay attention, and I will tell you who
you are.”
—W. H. AUDEN

CONTENTS

Prelude
PART ONE

UNDERSTANDING (YOURSELF)
CHAPTER ONE

The Scientific Method of the Mind
CHAPTER TWO

The Brain Attic: What Is It and What’s
in There?
PART TWO

FROM

OBSERVATION

TO

IMAGINATION
CHAPTER THREE

Stocking the Brain Attic: The Power of
Observation
CHAPTER FOUR

Exploring the Brain Attic: The Value of
Creativity and Imagination
PART THREE

THE ART OF DEDUCTION
CHAPTER FIVE

Navigating the Brain Attic: Deduction
from the Facts
CHAPTER SIX

Maintaining the Brain Attic: Education
Never Stops

P ART FOUR

THE SCIENCE AND ART OF SELFKNOWLEDGE
CHAPTER SEVEN

The Dynamic Attic: Putting It All
Together
CHAPTER EIGHT

We’re Only Human
Postlude
Acknowledgments
Further Reading
Index

Prelude
When I was little, my dad used to read us
Sherlock Holmes stories before bed.
While my brother often took the
opportunity to fall promptly asleep on his
corner of the couch, the rest of us listened
intently. I remember the big leather
armchair where my dad sat, holding the
book out in front of him with one arm, the
dancing flames from the fireplace
reflecting in his black-framed glasses. I
remember the rise and fall of his voice as
the suspense mounted beyond all breaking
points, and finally, finally, at long last the
awaited solution, when it all made sense
and I’d shake my head, just like Dr.

Watson, and think, Of course; it’s all so
simple now that he says it. I remember
the smell of the pipe that my dad himself
would smoke every so often, a fruity,
earthy mix that made its way into the folds
of the leather chair, and the outlines of the
night through the curtained French
windows. His pipe, of course, was everso-slightly curved just like Holmes’s. And I remember that final slam of the book, the
thick pages coming together between the
crimson covers, when he’d announce,
“That’s it for tonight.” And off we’d go—
no matter how much begging and pleading
we’d try and what sad faces we’d make—
upstairs, up to bed.
And then there’s the one thing that
wedged its way so deeply into my brain
that it remained there, taunting me, for

years to come, when the rest of the stories
had long since faded into some
indeterminate background and the
adventures of Holmes and his faithful
Boswell were all but forgotten: the steps.
The steps to 221B Baker Street. How
many were there? It’s the question Holmes
brought before Watson in “A Scandal in
Bohemia,” and a question that never once
since left my...
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