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Publisher's Summary

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 "brain attic" - Holmes's metaphor for how we store information and organize knowledge - Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights.
Drawing on 21st-century neuroscience and psychology, Mastermind explores Holmes's unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, it shows how each of us, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen our perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our creative powers.
For Holmes aficionados and casual listeners alike, Konnikova reveals how the world's most keen-eyed detective can serve as an unparalleled guide to upgrading the mind.
©2013 Maria Konnikova (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC
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Critic Reviews

"A delightful tour of the science of memory, creativity, and reasoning ... engaging and insightful." (Steven Pinker, Harvard College professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By CC on 02-12-13

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 "beating a dead horse" into new heights. To take on the tone of the author, I have crafted a representative paragraph:

"Sometimes a horse is dead, yet you keep beating it (reads a paragraph from Sherlock Holmes). Do you understand what this means? Have you ever thought of the idea of beating a dead horse? I imagine a thousand My Little Ponies, each a different color, with fabulous mains and tails, hearts and stars, slowly dying and falling to the ground, and tiny little gnomes taking striped bats and hitting them, even after they are dead (reads the exact same paragraph as above that she read before, word for word, from Sherlock Holmes). That said, sometimes people do that. They happen to beat dead horses. Now that phrase is not to be taken literally, but figuratively. When people do that, they tend to over explain or repeat themselves over and over and over again. Did I mention that this happens more than once? It happens over and over. This is called. B.A.D.H. That stands for beating a dead horse (reads the exact same paragraph as above that she read before, word for word, from Sherlock Holmes). Now let's look at some studies where more people tell you how to beat a dead horse. Then I'll tell you again after the study how to beat a dead horse.


Yes, she actually makes an abbreviation for the words motivation to remember, referring to it as "M.T.R." Guffaw.

If there were even ONE new, original or helpful idea in that first hour, I would have been so grateful I would have clicked my heels in glee. But alas, they were all useless ridiculous time fillers like, "did you know that we often don't pay attention to things?…our minds are like an attic, it may look funny, it may have a little chimney, but it may not have a chimney…sometimes people remind us of other people…people who try harder on tests do better…sometimes we all have first impressions or prejudices…have you ever had the experience of forgetting something?...and on and on and on and on….with not one helpful hint in sight.

Also, she reads entire passages from Sherlock Holmes word for word not only twice, but sometimes THREE TIMES in a paragraph! She can't just say, "referring to the paragraph I just mentioned, x y and z", NO, she has to read the ENTIRE THING again and again! I have never seen an editor let an author get away with such ridiculousness, which is why I say she must have been paid by the word.

And could the narrator sound any more condescending? The only thing she should ever read is something that ends in "And thank you for flying the friendly skies"! It was like listening to a debutante talk down to her toy poodle. I almost expected her to chime in with, "And where does Mimi go poopoo? In the widdle doggie doo box, that's RIGHT my little Angelpie!"

At the end of my run, I clicked my iPod off, and when I turned if on again, the book went back to the beginning and HAS NO CHAPTER MARKERS! Which means I WOULD HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE BEGINNING OVER AGAIN to hear the entire thing!

I would rather die a slow death in a sand pit being bitten by snakes while tigers claw out my eyes and vultures pull out my tongue than listen to that again.

But if anyone has a version with chapter markers I'd love to give the rest of the book a chance to see if there are any actual instructions on how to think like Sherlock Holmes. Maybe my first impression of the book from the first chapter is incongruent with the rest of the book. I would be happy to find this to be the case.

P.S. I have listened to hundreds of audio books and in case people think I'm just a grump, this is the first scathing review I've ever given.

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59 of 69 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 04-26-15

Interesting Listening!

What I imagined to be a book about how the greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, solves crimes ended up being about how he thinks. Which was far more beneficial.

The book actually covers a great deal of current scientific studies in psychology and how the brain works. This shows how Sherlock was a step above the rest in his thinking and deductive reasoning.

It also shows the influences acting on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that prompted him to create a character with such, at first glance, peculiar habits that actually lead to better cognitive function ...for example, from time to time when I have been stressed or overwhelmed, I would have a strong urge to go for a walk or hike, now I know why!

There is lots of great information in this one, information that I can't get by just listening once!


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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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