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Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  5,467 ratings  ·  535 reviews
No fictional character is more renowned for his powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes. But is his extraordinary intellect merely a gift of fiction, or can we learn to cultivate these abilities ourselves, to improve our lives at work and at home?

We can, says psychologist and journalist Maria Konnikova, and in Mastermind she shows us how. Beginning with the
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Hardcover, 273 pages
Published January 3rd 2013 by Viking Adult (first published 2013)
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Masha Volski In a sense, this book genuinely makes you feel smarter. Like that dream textbook that you seem to have a conversation with? It's extremely…moreIn a sense, this book genuinely makes you feel smarter. Like that dream textbook that you seem to have a conversation with? It's extremely interesting, however there is so much information to absorb that it took me a while to finish. I read it in addition to other books because it is more about the information than the storyline. (less)

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C
Feb 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
"Mindless: How to Regurgitate Useless Information"

Do you know what I learned in the first hour of this book while I went on my morning 5 mile run before I realized that there are no chapter markers?

Absolutely nothing. I actually groaned out loud numerous times and yelled "Come ON! Are you serious?" to the running path. The only explanation I can think of is that author must have been paid by the word, because she has reinvented the meaning of taking commonly known ideas and taken the phrase "be
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Andreas
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I was surprised about the many negative reviews here at Goodreads. The main complain is that the author doesn't come up with something new, which is true, and that the Sherlock Holmes examples are taken too far.

In the last months I have read a couple of books about our brain, perception, memory and how we think. Many of the discoveries can be found here in the book, nicely wrapped in the world of Sherlock Holmes. This by itself is an amazing thing! It's astonishing how good it works and a great
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Janey
Feb 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: scrapped
If you're an avid Sherlock Holmes fan like me, then most likely you have already come across the examples and quotations explored in this book. Because that's what this book is all about: quotations, quotations and exploring and dissecting those Sherlock quotations in every manner possible. In short, you won't be learning anything new.

But if you're such a ginormous fan that you'll read even the back of a shampoo if it's labeled Sherlock Holmes, then by all means, read this. This book is more of
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Aaron Thibeault
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
*A full executive summary of this book is available here: http://newbooksinbrief.com/2013/01/28...

The main argument: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes is as popular today as when he was created back in the late 19th century. This comes as no surprise, of course, since there is just something about Holmes’ peculiar qualities—his keen observation, clever imagination, and incisive reasoning capabilities—that is both awe-inspiring and inspirational. We admire Holmes for cutting thro
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Bayla
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
"If you get only one thing out of this book, it should be this; the most powerful mind is the quiet mind. It is the mind that is present,reflective, mindful of its thoughts and its state. It doesn't often multitask, and when it does, it does so with a purpose" (p. 257).

A fine blend of character analysis, psychological research, and good writing, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes caught my interest and held it all the way through, which is a difficult task for nonfiction in general. M
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VaultOfBooks
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
By Maria Konnikova. Grade: B

Sherlock Holmes, hands down, is my favourite detective, and Conan Doyle an absolute genius. Like all fans of his genre, I’ve devoured the books, the TV shows, and now, the movies. This is one such adaptation wherein author Maria Konnikova, a graduate of Harvard University and holder of PhD in psychology from Columbia University, applies her brain to find the science beneath the thrill.

The point of this book is simple. There’s something about Sherlock Holmes that keeps
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Mike
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Well written grammatically but...

An extremely frustrating read in so far as that the inescapable premise of the book appears to be that psychological principles can be taught upon the back of an entire fiction. There is such paradoxical logic in this that at times I felt genuine anger, the work is simply riding the crest of a huge wave of interest in Sherlock Holmes at present, this is not in the main, psychology, but literary review in the guise of science, and as such the whole thing appears
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Leah
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just a note: I review Sherlock Holmes-related books on a blog, so my reviews on Goodreads are generally shortened versions of those posts


Maria Konnikova, a doctoral candidate in psychology at New York’s Columbia University, first encountered Sherlock Holmes as a child, when her father read Waton’s accounts to her and her siblings at bedtime. As happens for many, the sleuth stuck with her, and in Mastermind she combines current psychological insights with lessons from the Canon, in the touchingly
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Atila Iamarino
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mente, cerebro, psicologia
Outro passeio por como pensamos, desta vez seguindo as histórias de Sherlock Holmes. Maria Konnikova resgata como Doyle pensou no personagem e como as histórias são construídas para mostrar como uma mente investigativa pensa. Ela vai resgatando nosso viés mental e contrastando Sherlock e Watson com os modos de pensar em Rápido e Devagar.

Esperava mais sobre o processo de dedução e a reconstrução de fatos. Acabou sendo mais um livro sobre como pensamos.
Emeraldia Ayakashi
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I do not think like Sherlock Holmes. Not in the least . This is the rather depressing conclusion I came to researching , until I read this book ...
Watch and observe. This is the secret key. When I first read these words, I was a child then and I was amazed.
Alertness and keen sense of observation used by Sherlock Holmes to solve the biggest mysteries are legendary. Although Sherlock Holmes is often used a survey to ascertain the facts , its approach demonstrates that he relied too much on his int
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Lisa
Jan 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm not going to finish this book because (1) it is redundant (padded like a high school paper with an assigned word count); (2) the psychological and neurological concepts are fairly basic; and (3) it's more about Holmes her hero than a book on mindfulness. If you're a big Sherlock Holmes fan, you'd probably like this.
Rob Slaven
As usual, I received this book for nothing from a GoodReads giveaway but despite that kindness I give it my candid opinion below.

Our author's submission is one of those that tries to be two things at once, cross-selling you on a bit of neuroscience in the context of Sherlock Holmes as favorite fictional genius. The basic format boils down to something like this:

* Quote from a Sherlock Holmes story
* Here's what Holmes did that was so genius
* Here's what Watson, mental midget, did. [explanation of
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Sadaf
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a psychology student, I am familiar with many of the studies that the author has mentioned to support her explanations. But, I like how she puts it across in a manner that layman could easily understand. What makes it different from mainstream psychology books, is that she takes sherlock holmes stories to explain how he trained his brain to think, and gives examples from his words and actions.
She also delves into real life incidents in the criminal world at the time when Sherlock holmes was
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Meg
Dec 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
A marketing ploy with a catchy title, devoid of any new, insightful content whatsoever. I am both a zealous Sherlock Holmes fan and familiar with Konnikova's work for the New Yorker, which, while not especially well-written or scientifically rigorous, at least attempts to discuss new research findings in contemporary neuroscience. At least it gets the mental gears turning in fresh directions. But, this useless, supposed "close-reading" of Holmes is a merely a childish regurgitation of detail thr ...more
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #193 on December 21, 2012, on our special Book Review episode. This book was reviewed by Scott Huler and the review can be heard starting at timestamp 00:00:58. http://skepticallyspeaking.ca/episode...
Tom
Jan 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Simplistic and lacking research behind many of the suppositions, the book is more homage to Holmes and Doyle than how to improve thought process.
Crystal Starr Light
Sherlock Holmes is the epitome of the mystery genre and the private detective. He uses his senses, his expansive knowledge, and his cunning skill to seek out the truth behind the crimes that come to his door. But what goes on in Sherlock Holmes mind? How does he think? And can we get anywhere near the skill of the Master Detective?

While I like Sherlock Holmes well enough, reading two books and a couple movies based on the stories is not enough to call me a fan. The primary reason I read this boo
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ArwendeLuhtiene
I found this book engaging, interesting and useful, both as a Sherlock Holmes fan and as someone who is interested in self-help books about self-awareness and how to hone our critical thinking and problem-solving strategies in our everyday life.

+1 When talking about how bias influences people's thinking, there are also some (brief, though) mentions of various forms of discrimination - sexism, racism, heteronormativity and ableism, mainly. She cites, for example, the study showing that women per
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Jim Razinha
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful survey of thought processes and cognitive theories woven within a framework of how the characters Sherlock Holmes and John Watson might approach problem solving. I hope Ms. Konnikova continues to write, because she has a talent like Sagan for making science accessible.

I found it less "how to" than the title suggests, rather "here are possibilities why you might think a certain way". I am particularly interested in the additional reading suggestions...the list grows longer with each of
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Ahmed ElMashad
Oct 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1) What is the book about ?
-Maria Konnikova explains how she thinks Sherlock Holmes think. So the title is misleading.

2) What to expect from the book ?
-Redundancy, and hours of a boring book.

3) Recommended for whom?
-Any Sherlockian who has a lot of time to spare, and want to read something Holmesian.
Chanda
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me this was a three-star read but it will easily warrant a higher rating from someone with a more developed interest in the subject matter. I started with gusto but at about the halfway point my interest started to wane and the last half was a struggle. To the author's credit, I can't imagine any less talented writer would have been able to actively engage me that far and certainly not kept me involved enough to actually finish. The irony in my struggle to pay attention was that ultimately, ...more
Sarah
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Fans of Sherlock Holmes, detective wannabes, and those who wish to improve their cognitive skills may find “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes” by Maria Konnikova to be an interesting—and certainly a thought-provoking—read. This nonfiction work tackles the inner functioning and the elements behind the mind of the most well-known detective in literary fiction. Konnikova contrasts what she terms “System Watson” from “System Holmes,” with the former being that which overlooks details and ...more
Jeanne
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Not what I expected. This book is one third anecdotal observations about using the powers of deduction in everyday life. That was very interesting. One third examples from Sherlock Holmes mysteries, kind of interesting but very chopped up and you never get the entire story. And one third part of some psychology thesis, not interesting at all. Plus the author treats Holmes as if he is not a fictional character but an actual detective from history and as if Conan Doyle did not manipulate both the ...more
Quinn
Jan 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
I had to skim this one, it was pretty boring. It reads a lot like a literary examination of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books. Before you read this book go to page 257 read the paragraph in the middle of the page that starts with "If you only get one thing out of this book..." if you like what you read then start at the beginning and if you get bored put the book down.
Janet
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I find it annoying when "scientific" evidence is presented to help prove facts, but no notation is provided except a brief suggested reading at the end of the book. Where are the footnotes or endnotes? Where is the specific study that Konnikova is referencing? Also, I have not read a lot of Doyle and I felt like that was another detriment.
Jehona
Apr 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring! I only managed to finish it on my third try. It doesn't reveal anything new about Sherlock's thought process. Nothing the average reader cannot see while reading the stories. On top of that, it fails to produce any special trick Holmes uses. Nothing that the average person could just learn to use. He just seems to be smart.

So, this is not a psychological profile of a fictional character revealing something unexpected on one hand and it is not a collection of useful tricks that one can us
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Harshit Bisht
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
(Will possibly revise in the future)
While the number of Sherlock Holmes references was definitely enjoyable as a huge fan of the famed detective, they often seemed to be interpreted desperately in a way to fit with the material presented, as opposed to embodying the ideas seamlessly. This made the book seem like word vomit in many places, making it far less compelling to read. The material itself seemed interesting, if not entirely new or revolutionary. Never imagined I’d say this about a book,
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anotherfungurl
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Was a long read, but an interesting one as well. I think I learned a lot from this book.

I have not read Sherlock Holmes or watched the tv series, but I have a good idea of what it is about and who sherlock is.

This book really gave a detailed info about how to think like sherlock, how to be more aware of our surroundings and be focused on the subject, even be able to distract urself in the correct manner.

Everyone should read it. ❤
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Bea Legata
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
nice, could have been shorter, kinda repetitive
John Darceno
livro muto bem afundado de um ponto de vista científico na mente do maior detetive do mundo, Sherlock Holmes. Apresenta diversos vieses e conceitos psicológicos que podem ser muito uteis para alguém com o objetivo de pensar tão logicamente como Holmes. Por ser bem científico e consisto, a leitura pode ser um pouco pesada, mas não senti nenhum problema quanto a isso.
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Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes 1 20 Apr 10, 2014 06:45AM  
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  • Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy: The Footprints of a Gigantic Mind
  • Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You're So Tired
  • The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick
  • The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective's Greatest Cases
  • The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life
  • Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
  • Breakthrough!: Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination
  • The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date
  • Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory
  • The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part I: University
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“the most powerful mind is the quiet mind. It is the mind that is present, reflective, mindful of its thoughts and its state. It doesn’t often multitask, and when it does, it does so with a purpose.” 28 likes
“We are terrible at seeking evidence that challenges our own beliefs, but other people do us this favor, just as we are good at finding errors in other people’s beliefs.” 8 likes
More quotes…