A Study in Scarlet
Sherlock Holmes uses a variety of different methods when solving the mystery in A Study in Scarlet. The methods include; working backwards, deduction, and false argument by elimination. I will be describing these in this order because I theorize that in the end Holmes is really making educated guesses or assumptions. By addressing these methods in the descending order that follows, I hope to show that anyone could make these assumptions but wind up with a very different outcome depending on how the variables are eliminated.
WORKING BACKWARDS is the method whereby a person starts with an end result or event and works back through a logical set of reasoning to arrive at certain conclusions. This is often used at crime scenes to build a case. Usually the police use fingerprints, DNA samples, and computer modeling to arrive at their conclusions which are based on scientific fact. This leaves little chance for error or false assumptions. When Sherlock Holmes was solving the mystery he used very loose associations that he then considered facts. An example was when he sniffed the dead man's lips. Sherlockdetected a slightly sour smell which led him to the conclusion that the man had had poison forced upon him. When in fact there are numerous substances and/or conditioning that could produce a sour smell other than poison. With today's forensics saliva would have been gathered and tested before such a conclusion would be made.
DEDUCTION is defined as reaching a conclusion by reasoning. This is probably the strongest method that Sherlock Holmes utilizes when solving the case. Deducing a conclusion is only as strong as the reasoning behind it. In many cases Sherlock Holmes established some fairly weak causal links. Sometimes he would state that a set of observations created a certain outcome. This could certainly of happened and could very well be the cause, but Holmes never eliminated any number of possible …
A Study in Scarlet