Book Presmell

Gad I dislike week out. And this week it gets extended by a Mundae holy day. Once the (relatively) heavy schedule of Saturdae things accomplished, time hung heavy, like an elephant on a gibbet. And Sundae is usually worse.

So to consume of that time I may as well note all the grrr brrr being accorded the graduate student Maria Konnikova. I have seen no less than three web articles in the last week on her and her book “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.” I have to admit to being a bit perplexed. Back when I was a graduate student I did not have time to write books. That had to wait until I got kicked out of graduate shule. But she is a psychology graduate student in New Yawk City, which has the tantalizing aroma of explaining much.

First of all, survey sources consistently indicate that the stamp collecting science disciplines are harder than the “real science” disciplines. Certainly on a statistical basis it takes longer to get a Ph.D. in physics than in psychology, by almost a factor of 2! And since New Yawk City is the eye of publishing and supposedly almost cultish on keeping auslanders unpublished, the grrr brrr could be nothing more than just evolutionary advertising.

On the third hand – moties seem less alien when discussing psychologists – she is an emigre and so likely using her brilliance and ambition and industry to elevate herself in Amerika.

But I don’t really care. What I care about fundamentally, why I give even thirty picoseconds of attention span to this is the aspect of Holmes. Of all the fictional characters in the literature of English, he is premier, almost transcendent. Only Richard Ballenger Seaton and Michael Valentine Smith give him a run. My own path to observation was lubricated by Conan Doyle and so any elaboration of technique or method, even given the low probability of my learning at my advanced age, is attracting.

Also, I was taken early on, courtesy of skillful marketing, no doubt, by a throw away quote “I think you lead an impoverished life if you only read nonfiction.”  This was grabbing not because it is surprising, but because it is accurate. Fiction provides many useful balances in mental and physical life. From my observation, it does not need defense. Setting aside the half of the population that readeth not, including street signs and nutritional information labels, the challenge is getting most of the readers to read some nonfiction. The issue, from my perspective, is how to get the lotus eaters to come to a balanced diet.

The only folks who consume mostly nonfiction are people like myself who find the modern fiction to be unworthy of attention span – time. Too much of it is trash. Not that I do not read fiction, but much of it is retreads from my youth. No, not Tom Swift Junior, but definitely Heinlein and the Smiths. And Conan Doyle. Especially the lesser works. We must not forget that Holmes was the cash cow and once the feed formula was found to give good quantity of milk, experimentation and elaboration had to be restricted to other works.

So I have bought Maria’s book. I have picked it up twice to start and ground slowly away. I had hoped that a psychologist would be able to write more engagingly than a physicist, given my last few disappointments. But thus far I have been unable to immerse myself. I am not ready to give up yet, I want this to work despite the distaste of the grrr brrr.

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