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"You know my methods, Watson"1
The rooms at No. 221B Baker Street consisted of a couple of comfortable bedrooms and a single, large airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by two broad windows. One winter's night, as we sat together by the fire, my friend Sherlock Holmes said, "I have some papers here which I really think, Watson, it would be worth your while to glance over."2 He handed me next year's marketing plan, marked "rejected."
"Surely we have a case,"3 I said.
"Not a shadow of one-only surmise and conjecture," he replied. "We have to prove all this and we are not in a position to do it."4
"But how, Holmes, how?"
"You know my methods in such cases, Watson.5 I never guess. It is a shocking habitdestructive to the logical faculty.6 The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.7 We need the facts, the data, the observations. The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.8 Observation with me is second nature."9
He sat forward in his armchair, and spread out the documents upon his knees. Then he lit his pipe and sat for some time smoking. "It is of the highest importance to be able to recognize out of a number of facts which are incidental and which are vital.10 Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them.11 There comes a time when for 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."12
He paused and I recalled how in many of Holmes' cases the facts themselves have often been so slight or so common-place in others the facts have been of the most remarkable and dramatic character.
He continued, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilled workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment and all in the most perfect order."13
"The new year rapidly approaches. There's still time to gather the data and prove our case. Come, Watson, the game's afoot."
Quotes from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
1The Crooked Man
The Gloria Scott
3 The Hound of the Baskervilles
4The Hound of the Baskervilles
5The Musgrave Ritual
6The Sign of the Four
7The Valley of Fear
8The Hound of the Baskervilles
9A Study in Scarlet
10 Silver Blaze
11The Sign of the Four
12A Study in Scarlet
13A Study in Scarlet
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