Guest Post: Sherlock Holmes for Investors

Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes?  Did you cuddle up with an Arthur Conan Doyle anthology edition the size of a Volkswagen on rainy days in your youth?  Well, you don’t have to admit it to enjoy this post by Clay over at Stoic Trading.  He’s allowed me to run it for you here in its entirety, have fun! – JB


Twenty five quotes from Sherlock Holmes for traders and financial analysts:

1) We balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination. (The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1902)

2) “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.” (The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, 1892)

3) There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. (The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1892)

4) It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment. (A Study in Scarlet, 1887)

5) 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. (A Scandal in Bohemia, 1892)

6) It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. (The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet, 1892)

7) One should always look for a possible alternative, and provide against it. It is the first rule of criminal investigation. (The Adventure of Black Peter, 1905)

8) I never guess. It is a shocking habit — destructive to the logical faculty. (The Sign of the Four, 1890)

9) It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental and which vital. Otherwise your energy and attention must be dissipated instead of being concentrated. (The Reigate Puzzle, 1893)

10) “It is of the first importance,” he cried, “not to allow your judgment to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit, a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning.” (The Sign of the Four, 1890)

11) “They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains,” he remarked with a smile. “It’s a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.” (A Study in Scarlet, 1887)

12) In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically. (A Study in Scarlet, 1887)

13) There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you. (The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1902)

14) 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. (A Study in Scarlet, 1887)

15) Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the inquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems. (A Study in Scarlet, 1887)

16) Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. (A Case of Identity, 1892)

17) The little things are infinitely the most important. (A Case of Identity, 1892)

18) You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles. Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to bring it home. (The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1892)

19) I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule. (The Sign of the Four, 1890)

20) “I am glad of all details,” remarked my friend, “whether they seem to you to be relevant or not.” (The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, 1892)

21) Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person. (Silver Blaze, 1893)

22) “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” “The dog did nothing in the night-time.” “That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes. (Silver Blaze, 1893)

23) Any truth is better than indefinite doubt. (The Yellow Face, 1893)

24) Education never ends Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last. (The Red Circle, 1905)

25) We must look for consistency. Where there is a want of it we must suspect deception. (The Problem of Thor Bridge, 1927)

26) Bonus fact: In the stories by Conan Doyle, Holmes often remarked that his logical conclusions were “elementary”, in that he considered them to be simple and obvious. However, the complete phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” does not appear in any of the 60 Holmes stories written by Doyle.

Compiled from:


Thanks, Clay!

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