Monday, January 14, 2013

How to Think Like Holmes

Although much pop neuropsychology is just self-help gussied up to look like science, the book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes is the kind of self-help I wouldn't mind getting anyway. In a promotional article on Slate, the author unpacks just one cognitive trait Holmes seemed to display: focused attention in place of non-directed thinking. Or, as Holmes rebuked Watson, "You see, but you do not observe." In order to truly transmute our experiences into observations, we must learn to tune out distractions and live mindfully in the present.

Konnikova's own observation - that the myriad distractions modern thinkers must combat helps unfocus and distract us - is not new. But the study she cites, showing that "a wandering mind is an unhappy mind", gives pause for thought. Dividing your attention between work, email, facebook and random Wikipedia look-ups may not just be bad for productivity. It also seems to degrade your intellectual capacity and your emotional buoyancy.

All this to say that I'd love to read this book, and that I should probably get back to work right now.

No comments: