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April 5, 2012 5:38 pm  #1


Observing is all well and good, BUT...

You can observe all you want but still not understand how to put the pieces together. :/ I've been trying to be more observant and have found out that I'm not half bad at it, but the problem comes down to this: I don't know what the things I am observing MEAN in the context that they are in.

For example: Just because I observe, say, a scuff mark on the wall, doesn't mean I automatically know what put it there. Just because I see a bruise on someone's arm, doesn't mean I can instantly figure out what caused it.

Basically, I'm just wondering how I can get better at being able to put the things I observe together in my head to come to a conclusion. It seems like it would be a hard sort of thing to practice -- is it even something that you CAN practice?


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"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - A.C. Doyle
 

April 5, 2012 6:54 pm  #2


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Oh my God, I've so been trying to learn this too. The other day I went to a cafe on my own for this very purpose and just sort of looked at people. I looked at their shoes, clothes, hair, jewelery, which hands they were using to do stuff etc etc, and then tried to work out things like what they did for a living, what relationship they had with the people they were with, where they'd just been etc. It was very hard and I'm pretty sure I got none of it right! Also, I was staring at people for ages and I'm sure they must have noticed.

I would just love to be able to do it. I think maybe it is a case of practicing but then, you're not going to know if you're right unless you go up to the people you've been deducing and ask them...that's the awkward part.


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April 5, 2012 7:39 pm  #3


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Yeah, that's exactly my problem: Not being able to know if I'm right or not (and I'm definitely not brave enough to go up and ask a stranger if I AM right haha). Also, it does get a bit awkward at times, staring at people. Especially if they happen to look over and you have to turn away quickly to avoid being caught haha. ;P

I've tried to observe stuff about my friends, because obviously I wouldn't mind asking THEM if I was right. But then there's the problem of being biased -- of course I already know so much about my friends that anything I observe about them I would subconciously look at under the preconceived notions and ideas that I have about them, their habits, and their personality. So it just makes it more complicated really. ;(


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DON'T PANIC

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - A.C. Doyle
     Thread Starter
 

April 5, 2012 9:22 pm  #4


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Yeah, it's difficult to know what to do really... ...I mean, I guess just keep doing it and then one day you might realise that you're right by overhearing a piece of conversation or something. I guess also, you could try it on people you've just met or been introduced to...That way, you know nothing about them to start off with, but it would be easier to find out if you were right than it would with just a random stranger. Kind of like when Sherlock first meets John...And then the trick is to be able to do it faster, so that you only have to look at someone for a few seconds instead of staring at them for 10 minutes!


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April 6, 2012 1:28 pm  #5


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

42_and_221B wrote:

You can observe all you want but still not understand how to put the pieces together. :/ I've been trying to be more observant and have found out that I'm not half bad at it, but the problem comes down to this: I don't know what the things I am observing MEAN in the context that they are in.

For example: Just because I observe, say, a scuff mark on the wall, doesn't mean I automatically know what put it there. Just because I see a bruise on someone's arm, doesn't mean I can instantly figure out what caused it.

Basically, I'm just wondering how I can get better at being able to put the things I observe together in my head to come to a conclusion. It seems like it would be a hard sort of thing to practice -- is it even something that you CAN practice?

Observation is more than just looking.
Your examples are still just 'seeing'.

Let's take the first one.
I observe, say, a scuff mark on the wall

To observe, you take note of all details:

How high up is it? - eg. If it is at adult eye level then a small child didn't make it.

What colour is the mark? - this could lead you to look around for things of that colour that are mobile and able to be moved at the same height to the mark.

Is the mark just on the surface or has the wall been dented in anyway? - this tells you how hard the object connected with the wall (and all the implications that go with the answer to that)

What is the texture of the mark? - is it rough or smooth or oily , etc . Leads to telling you the type of article it could be from also.

And so the list goes on with a multitude of possible questions that could be asked including shape, surrounding area, etc etc.


Now you are thinking 'well yeah I see all that at first glance' and yes you DID SEE all that. But you didn't OBSERVE those points. The trick is to notice those points & instantly start deciding the answers to all those questions.


THAT is the difference between seeing and observing.


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Sherlock Holmes 28 March 13:08

Mycroft’s popularity doesn’t surprise me at all. He is, after all, incredibly beautiful, clever and well-dressed. And beautiful. Did I mention that?
--Mark Gatiss

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert McCloskey
 

April 6, 2012 1:29 pm  #6


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I'm definitely not going to stop trying, that's a given. ;D Hopefully after a while I'll start picking things up faster, like you said. And maybe one day, if I'm very lucky, I'll be able to see half of what Sherlock sees. ;P


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DON'T PANIC

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - A.C. Doyle
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April 6, 2012 1:35 pm  #7


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

The thing is, and something that Conan Doyle points out all the time is that it is NOT that remarkable to do really.

Think of all the deduction scenes in the BBC version and in the Canon stories. Once explained, they are all common sense little facts that are strung together in one long deduction.
It's not necessary to know obscure facts really. Most things are quite basic.
I guess that is what annoys me at the moment with the wild theories. They are NOT things that Sherlock Holmes stories are based on. The whole idea is to take simple facts & string them together to form a deduction. The end result is a fascinating deduction, all made of of tiny simple facts, nothing more.
Sherlock Holmes doesn't need Wikipedia!


____________________________________________________________________________________________
Also, please note that sentences can also end in full stops. The exclamation mark can be overused.
Sherlock Holmes 28 March 13:08

Mycroft’s popularity doesn’t surprise me at all. He is, after all, incredibly beautiful, clever and well-dressed. And beautiful. Did I mention that?
--Mark Gatiss

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert McCloskey
 

April 6, 2012 1:36 pm  #8


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

@kazza474 Yeah, I get what you mean. But I usually DO try to do that, ask questions about the thing I'm observing and try to make assumptions based on that. It's just that my assumptions are usually way off. :/ Or I simply just don't know what could have caused a 'dent in the wall' at that height or depth or whatever. ;(


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DON'T PANIC

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - A.C. Doyle
     Thread Starter
 

April 6, 2012 1:38 pm  #9


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Haha, sorry, didn't catch your last post before I posted. I totally agree with what you're saying - maybe I just need to stop making it so complicated in my mind. ;P


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DON'T PANIC

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - A.C. Doyle
     Thread Starter
 

April 6, 2012 1:41 pm  #10


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Yeah well we wont get everything right ( even SH doesn't ).
Try thinking maybe of whether the wall is in a 'traffic' area , who walks past there etc.

Always apply the KISS theory - Keep It Simple Stupid!


____________________________________________________________________________________________
Also, please note that sentences can also end in full stops. The exclamation mark can be overused.
Sherlock Holmes 28 March 13:08

Mycroft’s popularity doesn’t surprise me at all. He is, after all, incredibly beautiful, clever and well-dressed. And beautiful. Did I mention that?
--Mark Gatiss

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert McCloskey
 

April 6, 2012 8:04 pm  #11


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

I so don't get out often enough to do this. There's only so much you can observe about your own living room.


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April 6, 2012 11:24 pm  #12


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

@kazza474 Haha, good point. :D I'll try to keep that in mind as I keep practicing my observational skills. ;D

@Sherlock Holmes I know what you mean. Thankfully, I actually do get out a decent amount, but when I do, I don't usually have time for really observing because I'm too busy trying to get things done. ;P


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DON'T PANIC

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - A.C. Doyle
     Thread Starter
 

April 7, 2012 3:41 am  #13


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Sherlock Holmes wrote:

I so don't get out often enough to do this. There's only so much you can observe about your own living room.

pffffttt. Don't tell me you have no dust?
Dust ... is eloquent!


____________________________________________________________________________________________
Also, please note that sentences can also end in full stops. The exclamation mark can be overused.
Sherlock Holmes 28 March 13:08

Mycroft’s popularity doesn’t surprise me at all. He is, after all, incredibly beautiful, clever and well-dressed. And beautiful. Did I mention that?
--Mark Gatiss

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert McCloskey
 

April 7, 2012 5:44 am  #14


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

I have an extremely eloquent house then! Lol


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April 7, 2012 8:39 am  #15


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Hmmm. Maybe I should spend more time analysing the dust. It sounds more fun than cleaning it anyhow.


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June 19, 2012 12:55 pm  #16


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Thanks for the tips masters! Sometimes I feel so lazy to do it. And so the hardest part of the observation is, how long will you observation time will last. To elaborate, everytime you enter a room, everytime you meet a person, you observe them and deduce. That's the hardest part for me, sometimes I even go dumb. Well I can't keep them up for long!

 

December 31, 2012 11:59 am  #17


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

I've got a little suggestion too,which I use when I'm feeling kinda "sherlocky", if you know what i mean! ;)
Observe stuff about yourself, that way you will make the connections much more easier and you'll always know if you're right.then you can use those little details about yourself to observe others.
for example your state of nails, what you are wearing and how you look can say a lot about you.make that connection as what each sign is saying about your character and then you have a list of details about it in your mind.
Anyway, that's how I "deduce", and if I'm very very lucky sometimes I get it right about others too.

 

December 31, 2012 9:07 pm  #18


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Would the same techniques used in cold reading help with getting correct observations for some?

When reading people you can go too far and trying to add meaning to every gesture at first but when the shock and awe of it has worn off a little you will notice things about people that will tell you so much more about who they are. I shocked a guest at our house once when I brought him a painkiller one morning at breakfast. As it turned out he did have a headache but had neither asked for the painkiller nor mentioned the headache or even touched his head. (And no, heavy drinking was not involved the night before.)

I'm guessing this was one of the rare moments where it is perfectly ok to ask the person you are observing. I would also refrain from shaking strangers by the shoulders shouting 'am I right?!' They might think I was mental.


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May 23, 2014 8:22 am  #19


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Sherlock Holmes wrote:

Oh my God, I've so been trying to learn this too. The other day I went to a cafe on my own for this very purpose and just sort of looked at people. I looked at their shoes, clothes, hair, jewelery, which hands they were using to do stuff etc etc, and then tried to work out things like what they did for a living, what relationship they had with the people they were with, where they'd just been etc. It was very hard and I'm pretty sure I got none of it right! Also, I was staring at people for ages and I'm sure they must have noticed.

I would just love to be able to do it. I think maybe it is a case of practicing but then, you're not going to know if you're right unless you go up to the people you've been deducing and ask them...that's the awkward part.

In order to completely be sure of a deduction,you need to get more evidences that point to the deduction you're about to make... When you leave out the improbable,whatever remains is the truth no matter how impossible it seems.

 

June 8, 2016 4:35 am  #20


Re: Observing is all well and good, BUT...

Most of these posts are about practicing observation and deduction. This is a good thing but I would like to see more Sherlockians using observation and deduction to help people in the real world. I know this is possible because I have done it many times. For example there was one time I was standing near the large swimming pool of my apartment building. About six people were standing around the pool fully clothed except for one young lady wearing a bathing suit. Her boyfriend was clothed. For some unknown reason  she attempted to push him in the water. He dodged, and she went in instead..at the deep  end.
She started splashing around like she couldn't swim. We all heard someone say "she can swim, she's just faking.". I decided to ignore that statement and moved to the side of the pool closest to her. While I was still moving, I examined her movements. She was only a few feet from  the edge of the pool but I could tell from her movement she had no idea how to swim even a few feet. Nobody was helping. Since I was not a good swimmer. I decided quickly to stoop at the edge of the pool, and taking advantage of my hight and length of arms, and reach under the water to one of her hands as she was slowly rising to the surface. I lifted my hand to bring her up more quickly. When she broke the surface she started breathing rapidly, but not coughing. Observing that she hadn't swallowed any water I started pulling her toward the edge of the pool. Others began helping to steady me and help her out of the pool. After a few minutes she told me "thank you for saving my life". I said "you're welcome."  One point here is, you can't fix a problem until the problem occurs. 


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