A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes, Peter Bevelin

A fantastic book I recently read, here are my notes on it:
What distinguishes Holmes from most mortals is that he knows where to look and what questions to ask.
Holmes first gathered all the evidence he could that was relevant to his problem. At times, he performed experiments to obtain fresh data. He then surveyed the total evidence in the light of his vast knowledge of crime, and/or sciences relevant to crime, to arrive at the most probable hypothesis. Deductions were made from the hypothesis; then the theory was further tested against new evidence, revised if need be, until finally the truth emerged with a probability close to certainty.
But only what is useful – it can be dangerous to know too much
All the knowledge which he possessed was such as would be useful to him.
With every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.
It is useful to know something about human nature and what motivates people
Work is the best antidote to sorrow,
Sorrow is often wisdom’s companion but it is better to learn from others sorrow to prevent our own
Note: Learn from the mistakes of others
Never jump to conclusions and try to collect facts as open-minded as possible
Dont make hasty judgments.
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
The fatal mistake which the ordinary policeman make is this, that he gets his theory first, and then makes the facts fit it,
Observation – Start with collecting facts and follow them where they lead
More is missed by not looking than not knowing.
We can’t observe or collect facts without some kind of view – what to look for, how to look and how to interpret what we see
Make sure “facts” are facts – Is it really so? Is this really true? Are there exeptions?
Don’t miss the forest for the trees – It is not the amount of information that counts but the relevant one.
More information isn’t necessarily better information but it may falsely increase our confidence – What is not worth knowing is not worth knowing
“A wise man sees as much as he ought, not as much as he can.”
– Montaigne
We need to both observe the big picture – forest – and the details – trees.
Reasoning backwards – working back from observations/effects to causes
Note: Reverese Engineering
Before you try a complicated hypothesis, you should make quite sure that no simplification of it will explain the facts equally well.
But don’t try to over-simplify complex matters – especially when we deal with systems with complicated interactions
History often repeats itself There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before. So look for lessons in history
But sometimes we learn more by looking for differences – not similarities – in situations
But remember that we see what we are looking for – if we look for similarities, this is what we see, if we look for the differences, that is what we find.
Eliminate possibilities – What can we exclude? – Assuming the true solution or explanation is among the considered possibilities old axiom that when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
These deductions, gentlemen, must however be confirmed by absolute and concrete evidence…Never neglect to ratify your deductions.
Facts don’t lie but we may have interpreted or stated them wrong and therefore drawn the wrong conclusion
Distance gives perspective – Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the problem and get a fresh perspective
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
It we could see the world the way others see it, we easier understand why they do what they do
A rule is only a rule if it’s always true!
Watch out for overconfidence
Do we really have an important case? Deal with things that really matter and that we can do something about
Don’t think about how to get things done, instead ask whether they’re worth doing in the first place

How to be Fascinating …

Fascinating things/ people do/ are :

  • Provoke strong Emotions
  • Create Advocates
  • Become a cultural shorthand for a set of actions or values
  • Incites Conversations
  • Force the competition to conform to them
  • Are not afraid to challenge status quo

Triggers of Fascination:

  1. Alarm: Provocing a alarming signal in people does
  2. Lust: Talking to the senses. Sex sells.
  3. Trust: The only strategy to build long term commitment to something/ to someone is by establishing trust.
  4. Power: The show of Authority
  5. Prestige: What makes to the product/ person stand above the rest?
  6. Mistique: Sending mixed signals
  7. Vice: We like things that are forbidden, play with that

These are the 7 triggers that acording to the author make us fascinated of something, he recommends to use them wisely and never all at once.

Book on the subject: Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

Habits and how to change them

1. The Cue: This is the trigger that launches you into “zombie mode.” The cue may be something as simple as seeing the first item on your to-do list (time to start next week’s homework!) or seeing a text message from a friend (time to dawdle!). A cue by itself is neither helpful nor harmful. It’s the routine—what we do in reaction to that cue—that matters.

2. The Routine: This is your zombie mode—the routine, habitual response your brain is used to falling into when it receives the cue. Zombie responses can be harmless, useful, or, in the worst case, so destructive that they defy common sense.

3. The Reward: Habits develop and continue because they reward us—give us a dollop of pleasure. Procrastination is an easy habit to develop because the reward—moving your mind’s focus to something more pleasant—happens so quickly. But good habits can also be rewarded. Finding ways to reward good study habits in math and science is vital to escaping procrastination.

4. The Belief: Habits have power because of your belief in them. For example, you might feel that you’ll never be able to change your habit of putting off your studies until late in the day. To change a habit, you’ll need to change your underlying belief.


How to change:
The only thing I can change:

The Cue: Recognize what launches you into your zombie, procrastination mode. Cues usually fall into one of the following categories: location, time, how you feel, reactions to other people, or something that just happened


I got this from the great book: A Mind for Numbers

Suvivorship Bias

We for the most part only the Winners but not the much greater amount of losers who did not win. 

This is called survivorship Bias, the tendency to only see the survivors but not the ones that failed. What follows this bias is a the believe that success comes easy or is a result of pure talent. We fail to see all the people who tried but did not succeed, often with a similar amount of talent.

We see someone successful and start to believe that we could do it too since he did it, but what does not cross our mind are those thousands and thousand wo didn’t make it.

The only read antidote against this fallacy is to look at real evidence. Where we can clearly see how many people tried and failed. Then we get the point that for each Zuckerberg there are millions of promising entrepreneurs who failed.

The road to success is littered with failures from which we can learn a lot, but we first have to acknowledge that it is almost never as easy or as forseeable as it seems. +

We also tend to overestimate our ability which makes us believe in our superiority over others. Before we make such a claim we have to look for factual evidence for why we are special and an exception to the rule. Look at your past how right your  were at estimating your true ability in the face of a challenge. The best way to actually know our abilities is by getting honest feedback from an other person, then we have to take that critic to heart.

Never forget: In the media we only see the ones that made it, but not the ones that failed miserably. Keep in mind and look for real evidence before you estimate your ability to do the same.

Book-of-the-Week Newsletter: Willpower

Willpower by Roy Baumeister Book Summary

The main Take-Aways:

1. Willpower in a finite resource, that gets depleted as you use it. Think of it as a battery. We use up Willpower all the time, but the more demanding a task is the more Willpower it will use up.

2. You recharge Willpower by resting and eating food that is high in Glucose, like fruits.
3. Do the most demanding work when you have the most Willpower, meaning in the morning or after a meal. 
4. Decisions take up a lot of Willpower, before making an important decision make sure that your are recharged.
5. When our Willpower is low there will be bad consequences like: 1. Things are much more frustrating 2. We do things we latter regret 3. We eat bad food 4. We make more mistakes.
The best way to prevent these consequences is by being aware of our low Willpower and making an effort to recharge it.

Learned Helplessness

When we get burned doing something for a few times, we stop trying, we stop trying to change, we become reactive instead of proactive. This thinking is called Learned Helplessness.

Learned Helplessness can occur in every area of life (just some examples):

  • Wealth , thinking we can’t change our income.
  • Health, just accepting our unhealthy eating habits because we think change is impossible.
  • Love, staying in a bad relationship instead of searching for someone else.
  • Happiness, keeping negative people around us just because we grew up together.

The best way to get out of this trap is by accepting full responsibility for our current situation and becoming proactive at trying to change.

Check every aspect of your life, where have you given up control, instead of taking full responsibility?


I got this lessons from this book.

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt


The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
 Three most important points:
1. The Happiness Formula: Happiness = Setpoint (how happy you are by nature, biological) + Conditions of your life (Love and the pursuit of the right goal) + Voluntary Activities (helping others with your unique strengths )
2. Life is what you make of it, we often don’t have the control over the things that happen to us, but over our response to it we do. Adversity gives us three main advantages:1. We find hidden Abilities in us 2. We gain a changes philosophy in things. 3. Adversity is what makes our Life’s Story interesting.
3. Conclusion: “Happiness is not something you can find, you have to get the conditions right and then wait.” Some of these Conditons are within and some outward, which include meaningful work, good relationships and striving for a meaningful goal. Work on the relationships between you and these three factors and you are on your way towards real happiness.

Mindwise by Nicholas Epley Book Notes

“The main problem is that we think we understand the minds of others, and even our own mind, better than we actually do”

When we try to predict how attractive people will find us, we are mostly better of just randomly guessing. Because our predictions are not any better.

Even after a long time (even a lifetime) together we grosly  overestimate the amount of insight we have about the other.

“The problem is that the confidence we have in this sense far outstrips our actual ability, and the confidence we have in our judgment rarely gives us a good sense of how accurate we actually are.”
We dont understand how people think as good as the think we do.

Its often a huge difference between what people say the will do and what they will actually do. Example: Outspoken racist often dont act remotly racist.

People so habitually underestimate how long it will take to get tasks done that psychologists have come up with a name for it: the planning fallacy. We think a task is much easier/ faster then it actually is.

“…interesting thing about the planning fallacy is that despite having so much experience committing it ourselves, we so consistently think that our own mistakes are things of the past rather than the present. This only ensures that we’ll keep making the same mistake over and over again.”

We only see the fnished product but never the process behind it. We know all about the fnished thing but nothing about how it came to be.
“… we can only guess at what’s going on inside our heads to construct those conscious experiences. We can report feeling happy but are only guessing when explaining why”

Unconsiously we find symetry in people the most attractive. But we dont really know about it.

“Have you ever noticed that everyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

Others are mindless?

We see other people as mindless, we dont realise that they have feelings too. We dont give a shit about them. We see them as objects not much more often. We fail to imagine that they feel too.
(Until the early 1990s doctors operated on infants without numbing them because they did not saw them as full  Humans beings.

Soldiers find it very difficult to kill people at close range because now they see them as actual Humans like themselve (much less acurate) Thereby physical distance it a huge factor in how well we can relate to others.

“This link from imitating another person’s actions to experiencing the other person’s emotions is a critical link for understanding the minds of others.”

“Those who are close to us are considered mindful human beings, “like me.” As people become more and more different from us, or more distant from our immediate social networks, they become less and less likely to engage our MPFC (interest in them). When we don’t engage this region, others appear relatively mindless, something less than fully human”.

When talking about other people outside our circle we often use animalistic terms showing as how less we see them.

Eyes even when not human make us behave better. The more a thing malfunctions we think it has a mind of his own.

Unexpected events make us associate them with some form of a mind -> God?
“A normal, mundane, exactly-as-expected day does not trigger thoughts of a divine mind”!
“The universal tendency to anthropomorphize nature stems from our nearly universal “ignorance of causes.”

“The more people in this survey liked their car, the more they reported it appearing to have a mind, beliefs, desires, and a personality.” Teddybears! Barby! …

Being lonely triggers us to see minds where there are none. And find religion much more interesting. We feel beings that dont actually exist. We also start seeing things as much more mindful like put pets or things around us. We go nuts!

Two different kinds of problems: failing to recognize a mind in something that actually has one, such as a human, or recognizing a mind in something that is actually mindless.

What is in the other mind?

“Your self not only provides a unique vantage point on the world; it also provides a lens made up of beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and knowledge that you interpret the world through. Your interpretive lens may differ from others…”

One consequence of being at the center of your own universe is that it’s easy to overestimate your importance in it, both for better and for worse.

A bad sign of a ego-centric approach is when you think others are contstantly talking about you, while the are not.

The fear that others will laugh about us are mostly over estimated by our self centered thinking. Thats why many fear public speaking. Spottlight Effect.

In all of the cases we ever studied, those in the throes of an embarrassing moment consistently overestimated how harshly others were evaluating them. Even once the social spotlight was on them, it did not burn as hot as those in its glare expected it to. The audience will forget it much faster then I will I am my worst critic by far.
“Relax. Others likely won’t notice, and if they do, they likely won’t mind”

The most natural consequence of the lens problem is assuming that others will interpret the world as you do, because you can’t identify exactly how your own interpretation is being influenced by the lens you view it through.

Curse of Knowledge; Knowledge is a curse because once you have it, you can’t imagine what it’s like not to possess it.
A reason why we dont feel understood by others, because we are experts of ourselfs. We use a microscope on ourselfs we see/ judge on things others would never even see.
“You have to think about how this person would evaluate you compared to others in general and overall, not how this person would evaluate you compared to your past or based on your fine-grained features.”

Missunderstanding in Email:
“People using ambiguous mediums think they are communicating clearly because they know what they mean to say, receivers are unable to get this meaning accurately but are certain that they have interpreted the message accurately, and both are amazed that the other side can be so stupid”

… two different versions of egocentric biases, one produced by differences in attention (the neck problem) and the other produced by differences in interpretation (the lens problem two people percieve the same thing much different). Of these two, I believe the existing evidence suggests that the neck problem is easier to overcome than the lens problem.

You cannot simply try harder to view the world through the eyes of another and hope to do so more accurately, because the lens that biases your perceptions is often invisible to you.

Individuals within large groups are almost invisible to us.

Judging a mind based only on a person’s behavior can resemble flat earth thinking because understanding the mind of any person requires a broader perspective than our experience routinely provides.

The tools at our intuitive disposal—our own mind, stereotypes about the minds of others, and others’ observed actions—are simplifying heuristics that give imperfect insight into the minds of others.

How to really mind read then:

Gesture and perspective talking are no appropriate tools for that.
“We’ve now looked many times for evidence that perspective taking—actively trying to imagine being in another person’s circumstances—systematically increases mind reading and have yet to find any supportive evidence”

You get your PhD in mind reading, according to Darwin, by learning to compare what a person shows quickly with what they say slowly.

“Trying harder to get another person’s perspective instead of trying to take it.”
Just ask them about it.
First, the main barrier to getting perspective is that others won’t tell you what you’d like to know. They lie, mislead, misdirect, avoid, or simply refuse to divulge the truth. It’s important, however, to keep the magnitude of this barrier in perspective.

But, rather, through the hard relational work of putting people in a position where they can tell you their minds openly and honestly.

Tai Lopez P.A.S.E System

In Tai’s Accelerator Program (just to clarify I am no affiliate 🙂 he shares his personality type system he uses to categorize people. It is called the P.A.S.E System each letter stands for a certain trait. Here they are:


Practical  = Logical and accountant type people.

Action = People with a lot of energy. they are eager to start new things but have difficulties sticking to them.

Social  = People for whom social contacts are the most important, they love to chit chat.

Emotional = People who get emotional quickly, they are often fear based.


We all have traits of these four but in a different order so for instance one might be very social. gets angry quickly and takes action only after endless persiuasion. Therefor he would be Social first, then Emotional, then Practical and at the end Action orientated . Personality Type: SEPA

The best way to start using this technique is by using it on yourself by getting honest feedback from others.