Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes presents the story of one of the most famous detectives we’ve ever known and his adventures in the world of uncovering mysteries while highlighting the secrets of his powerful mind, psychological tricks, deduction games, and teaching you how to strengthen your cognitive capacity.

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Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes Summary

Whether you’re passionate about crimes and the world of mystery or don’t have much to do with it, you’ve probably heard the names of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The mystery-solving duo rose to fame by solving even the most difficult criminal cases in London, all through their astonishing brain power.

Their popularity went on to grow with the appearance of the BBC show that carries their name. Even today, millions are fascinated by the power of deduction, intuition, and the benefits of training their brain to uncover minute details, all through neuroscience and psychology. Nevertheless, these are the topics we’ll explore in the summary of Maria Konnikova‘s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Here are the three most fascinating lessons from the book:

  1. Our brain has two systems: one that’s reflexive, and one that’s conscious.
  2. Remember information better by storing it in structures and main folders in your mind.
  3. Biases and heuristics can significantly alter our decision-making and thinking processes.

To train your mind like detective Holmes, you’ll have to pay attention to these lessons in depth. Therefore, we’ll explore each one of them in detail.

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Lesson 1: Learn to harness your conscious system and notice the patterns of the reflexive one

As humans, we are wired in curious ways. Take our brain for example. We have a conscious mind that can actively think about problems, ways to fix them, interpret surroundings, and many more. Then, there’s our reflexive system, which takes the first answer as the correct one. 

Now, guess which one we’re using more. Hint: It’s the reflexive system! Our brain is self-trained to save energy and interpret surroundings in the most convenient way. However, if you want to make the most out of your thinking processes, you’ll have to learn to use your active cognitive power.

To do so, psychologists call for mindfulness, which is the part art part science of living in the moment, actively acknowledging surroundings and feelings, and overall being aware. This system takes energy and focus, which is why it is not easy for us to engage with it.

However, if you want to think reasonably and logically, you’ll have to keep reminding your brain that it must be proactive, engaged, and aware. You must give yourself a wake up call in the face of challenges and actively think about solutions while questioning assumptions, rather than take the easy way out.

Lesson 2: To declutter the brain and think better, you’ll have to understand how to store information

The brain works enough on its own to make you function, but when it comes to proactive thinking, you’ll have to bring consciousness into play. Therefore, in the face of unsolvable mysteries, Holmes was doing just that. 

One good way to do so is by training your brain to remember important information and structure it in a user-friendly way. Holmes thinks of his brain as an attic where information gets stored. The attic hosts contents (experiences, memories, information, knowledge) and structures (the way you store the content).

Therefore, you can actively decide where and how to store content and move it around to create blocks of specific information. You can even try it right now, by adding all this information into a mind block called psychological tricks, for example. 

Now, Holmes also keeps a main attic folder in his brain, which constantly stores important and urgent information that he needs. This information helps him solve cases. Therefore, to retain such pieces of data, you’ll have to motivate yourself to remember them. Link it to already existing information or make it as tangible as possible.

Lesson 3: Biases, the weather, our faulty assumptions, and many other factors alter our decision-making process

Naturally, our decision-making process is constantly changing based on our life experiences, information accumulated over time, interactions with other people, and many other factors. In other words, we are inclined towards certain biases that alter our judgement.

To break free from them and achieve maximum objectivity, we’ll have to acknowledge them first. Neuropsychology shows that we like to make decisions based on the rule of thumb. Some of our decisions are a result of the availability heuristic, which implies that we judge based on how much information we can remember.

Obviously, other bits of data could change the entire decision, yet we choose to answer right away even if we know that we can’t recall the entire information. We’re also biased to judge people based on our first impression of them or what other people said about them.

These biases, and many others, affect our judgement heavily and can alter the entire course of a decision. For this reason, we must force ourselves to be objective and have all the information available before making a decision. Moreover, it’s best to always doubt ourselves and try to notice biased patterns.

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes Review

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes presents the mind hacks that the famous real-life detective Holmes used to debunk tricky cases and solve crimes in London. The book explores the right mind structures, retention tips and tricks, memory skills, a conscious approach to problem solving, and many other brain hacks to think just like Holmes. Reading this book will improve your logical reasoning and your problem-solving skills, all while helping you become proactive in your thinking and analyse things more in-depth.

Who would I recommend the Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holme summary to?

The 30-year-old person who’s passionate about the story of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the 35-year-old person who loves to read about psychology and mind tricks, or the 27-year-old individual who feels as if they have biases that alter their judgement and want to learn how to let them go.

Last Updated on October 6, 2022

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.