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Chris

Research methods

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Dear all,

I am teaching social science research methods for undergraduates, and I am looking for scenes that show particular research methods applied by Holmes. What (short) scenes do you think would fit best? Do you know any scene in which Holmes is using statistics or document analysis?

Thank you so much!

Best wishes

Christian

 

 

 

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Hey, Chris -- welcome to Sherlock Forum!  :welcome: 

Thanks for your inquiry.  It's pretty cool that academics are beginning to draw examples from television shows.  Just recently, on another part of the internet, another sociologist was requesting information about Star Trek.

As for Sherlock's research methods, just off the top of my head, there's this brief scene from early in "A Scandal in Belgravia":

SHERLOCK: Do people actually read your blog?
JOHN: Where d’you think our clients come from?
SHERLOCK: I have a website.
JOHN: In which you enumerate two hundred and forty different types of tobacco ash. Nobody’s reading your website.

... and the continuation just a bit further along:

JOHN: Look at that. One thousand, eight hundred and ninety-five.
SHERLOCK: Sorry, what?
JOHN: I re-set that counter last night. This blog has had nearly two thousand hits in the last eight hours. This is your living, Sherlock – not two hundred and forty different types of tobacco ash.
SHERLOCK (sulkily): Two hundred and forty-three.

... which shows that "our" Sherlock, like Doyle's original, needs to compile much of his own specialized database.

I'm sure there are other examples, hopefully ones in which Sherlock's methods are shown to be more relevant!  Just give us a while to think of them.

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Hi Chris and welcome to the forum! :wave:

YMMV, of course, but if you're looking for real, actual methods of statistics or similar, I'm afraid Holmes (both the modern version of Sherlock and the man in general, imo) isn't the one you're looking for. Holmes' method is keen observation, and his deductions are based on thoughts too complicated for anyone else to follow, more or less. I honestly can't remember any of Holmes' incarnations ever utter something as basic as, "Assuming Gaussian distribution ..." and, really, that's probably part of the charm of the character. He's just too brilliant for us mere peons to understand. :lol:

If you're looking for genuine methods, you might be luckier with a movie based on a real person, like, dunno, Vidocq.

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5 hours ago, Caya said:

Holmes' method is keen observation, and his deductions are based on thoughts too complicated for anyone else to follow....

... or something like that, yeah!  But if Chris was specifically asking about the BBC Sherlock, then here's my take on his methods:

On 3/8/2013 at 1:56 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

... to my way of thinking, what he does is more of an art than a science. He's so effective at what he does simply because his insights tend to be accurate. Even though he sometimes explains what he did (i.e., what steps he took), there's no way that he can explain how, because his thought processes consist of right-brain insights strung together with left-brain logic.

... which is either looking at the same thing from the other end, or else Sherlock's method is different from Holmes's, or maybe I've become too enamored of my own phrases.  I did come across an example of his use of statistics, though, while looking for the above quote:

On 4/6/2013 at 9:07 PM, Julia Mae said:

Sherlock assumes the killer in [A Study in Pink] is a man because it's statistically more likely....

Here's the actual quote (note that it also uses logic), from about a fifth of the way down this page:

Quote

He could only keep her case by accident if it was in the car. Nobody could be seen with this case without drawing attention – particularly a man, which is statistically more likely – so obviously he’d feel compelled to get rid of it the moment he noticed he still had it. Wouldn’t have taken him more than five minutes to realise his mistake. I checked every back street wide enough for a car five minutes from Lauriston Gardens ...

By the way, I found that by doing a Google search on

"ariane devere" "sherlock transcript" "statistically"

... and that was the only one that came up, so it's apparently the only time that he's used the word "statistically" in any episode to date.

Come to think of it, Chris, you could try doing similar web searches on other words, such as "statistics."  (Note to self: read every page of this write-up, in order to see whether Google still has a wild-card function.)  If you're not already familiar with Ariane Devere's Sherlock transcripts, you might want to read this explanation of the difference between a script and a transcript.  Ariane's transcripts are meticulously done, bless her heart, so they're generally considered the next most reliable source to actually watching the episode -- plus they're searchable (as above)!

 

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Well, I think the OP has disappeared? But I'm interested in the question anyway, although it's probably not the answer, especially that I still have a lot to catch up, and these are all imho.

I think Sherlock uses a lot of experiments as his 'research method'.

He has broad knowledge about a lot of things (and zero in things he is not interested with), I would guess medical, forensic, chemistry, weaponry, ballistic, physics, animal/nature, culture, psychology, geology to name a few, and of course, ashes. 243 of them, only from tobaccos.

To deepen those knowledge into something usable for his works, he conducts experiments.

For example experiments in lab (TGG? I need rewatch!) to identify botulinum toxin found in shoes. I believe there is some reactive non-reactive antigen ??? etc etc involved in trying to identify the chemical culprit by recognizing the base character and work on that.

We could see in HOB he also conducts experiments on what he believes to be hallucinogen on John to fully understand the impact to see how significant its application to the case, or, when he has free time it was mentioned that he likes to conduct experiment on John or himself too. He is not the best roommate (God NO) but this is the most effective way to see and/or experience the result first hand to draw good conclusion or result.

I also believe he likes to improve his knowledge on ballistic by shooting Mrs.Hudson pots and pans, or maybe a mannequin with fake liquid blood to see the pattern of blood splatter or projectile of bullets, this is actually very essential part of forensic and I believe the fictional Sherlock Holmes actually inspired the real implementation of real life crime investigation on this area. When he enters the room of bullet victims, he has very good idea about the range of shooting, the direction, positions, shortlist the type of weapon used, killer hand orientation and time of shooting. Noone seems to be bothered by shooting in Baker Street, and when he was bored in TGG, I'm pretty sure that he already studied all sort of ballistic, including shooting from his back from weird angle.

On culture/language, for example he catches the usage of archaic 'Hound' from Henry which he immediately finds odd coming from him.

On animal/nature, there are wide range of natural toxin that could be used for murder weapon; lion's mane, the speckled band case for example, natural toxin like tetrodotoxin, ciguatoxin, ricin, batrachotoxin etc etc are essential knowledge for Holmes beside others. I imagine in Victorian era it's probably easier to commit a murder, where even wall paper, coloring of your cloth or cough medicine could kill you.

 

So yeah, imho, his 'research method' is knowing a LOT of things that are useful for his work (who cares about those astronomy and van buren supernova anyway) and conducting a lot of self-taught experiments when information outside are not sufficient. He is not the sort who relies on sources, if he couldn't find them he  would look for answer himself.

On the side note, he has this ability to catch when something is not right or 'in order' in the room, wrong position, wrong item. For example, Jennifer's Wilson suitcase, VanCoon's order of things, his desk location, Ian Monfork's wife usage of past tense etc etc. I think this is his natural instinct that makes him good.

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20 hours ago, Van Buren Supernova said:

Well, I think the OP has disappeared?

Well, he hasn't logged in for a little over a week.  But you know how it is, some people only show up every now and then.  ;)   (Welcome back, VBS!)

20 hours ago, Van Buren Supernova said:

I also believe he likes to improve his knowledge on ballistic by shooting Mrs.Hudson pots and pans, or maybe a mannequin with fake liquid blood to see the pattern of blood splatter or projectile of bullets....

... and don't forget beating a corpse to study the amount of bruising possible after death.  Or harpooning a dead pig (apparently -- though the original Holmes definitely did that).

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On 6/19/2020 at 11:28 AM, Carol the Dabbler said:

But you know how it is, some people only show up every now and then.

Good God, who does that kind of thing???? :P

On 6/19/2020 at 11:28 AM, Carol the Dabbler said:

... and don't forget beating a corpse to study the amount of bruising possible after death.  Or harpooning a dead pig (apparently -- though the original Holmes definitely did that).

I actually really want to know his research results on these.

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Maybe you could do some research to find his research results, and then let us all know.

 

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