I beg to differ

The English of Deduction

on January 11, 2014

Hello all, Happy 2014!

Deduction is defined as “to use logic or reason to form (a conclusion or opinion about something)” or “to decide (something) after thinking about the known facts”. It’s the type of reasoning that Sherlock Holmes (briefly mentioned in my earlier post here) uses to solve his cases.

Well, if you’ll excuse me for jumping on the bandwagon, I’ve recently started watching the excellent show that is Sherlock and I’m obsessed.

In his own words,


This type of reasoning can relate to AP English because when we stare at a text, the words are evidence, and it is up to us to form conclusions. On the AP exam, we will be asked questions about style, tone, narration, diction, syntax, etc. We aren’t supposed to use outside information, the author’s assumed perspective, or any bias.

“Let me run over the principal steps. We approached the case, you remember, with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. We had formed no theories. We were simply there to observe and to draw inferences from our observations.”

Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

When reflecting on my Scarlet Letter essay, I found that the reason I lost some points was because I tried to assume the author’s intent and perspective. It lead to me forming conclusions that I couldn’t back up with reasonable evidence.

The lesson of the story is: let the text guide you. Allow the evidence to show you the answer. Even though you might first stare at the text like a drunk Sherlock:

eventually, you’ll get the hang of it and be able to write an essay about it. (yay…)

And lastly, a few pieces of advice for the upcoming finals!


(Disclaimer: I read Doyle’s original Holmes stories long before I knew about the BBC show Sherlock. I’ve always liked the character, but I like to enjoy the show and the books as two separate things.)

3 responses to “The English of Deduction

  1. MaggieA says:

    Wow, this is great advice! I will use the power of deduction for finals. Awesome post. (Btw I’ve heard great reviews for Sherlock, is it worth a watch?)

  2. Umbreen says:

    I know this wasn’t the main point of your post, but I definitely agree that I don’t really think of the show in terms of the books or vice versa. They’re both good, but for different reasons.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: