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Sunday, January 6, 2013

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: The Value of Creativity and Imagination | Maria Konnikova,Scientific American

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. ...
So writes Maria Konnikova, in an excerpt from her recent book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

The book excerpt continues, under the subhead "Keep Your Distance":
Forcing your mind to take a step back is a tough thing to do. It seems counterintuitive to walk away from a problem that you want to solve. But in reality, the characteristic is not so remarkable either for Holmes or for individuals who are deep thinkers. ...
That assumption affirms Konnikova's definition of imagination earlier in the excerpt:
Imagination takes the stuff of observation and experience and recombines them into something new.
 The excerpt concludes:
In essence, psychological distance accomplishes one major thing: it engages System Holmes. It forces quiet reflection. Distancing has been shown to improve cognitive performance, from actual problem solving to the ability to exercise self-control. ... Adults who are told to take a step back and imagine a situation from a more general perspective make better judgments and evaluations, and have better self-assessments and lower emotional reactivity. Individuals who employ distancing in typical problem-solving scenarios emerge ahead of their more immersed counterparts.
As a (progressive) political junkie and activist, I was especially intrigued by Konnikova's  final statement in this excerpt:
And those who take a distanced view of political questions tend to emerge with evaluations that are better able to stand the test of time.
I haven't read much of Sherlock Holmes, but I plan to soon! 
Konnikova's book excerpt is featured today in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections, available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

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