Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Sherlock Effect

This morning one of my feeds brought a nice little article from a learning and attention issues blog entitled "The Batman Effect: What My Research Shows About Pretend Play and Executive Functioning." The writer, a child development expert from good old U of M named Stephanie Carlson is writing about four-year-old children and what pretending to be Batman does to their skills at dealing with problems, and even though it may be a little unscientific to extrapolate from what she found, her findings do resonate a bit with my own experiences in the Sherlockian world.

I've heard it often said that there's something just a little better about Sherlockians than your average bear (to paraphrase Yogi Bear's standard claim of being "smarter than the average bear). And that could mainly be our bias toward liking people who like what we like. But after reading Carlson's thoughts on young children, I'm now wondering if there might be something more to our Sherlockian superiority. (Oh, does that sound horribly egotistical. But wait . . .)

Carlson found that a child pretending to be Batman helped him deal with tough, and even impossible, tasks. It gave him patience, it put him at a helpful distance from the issue, and it generally made him perform at a more mature level, like they were older than they actually were. And here's the best quote: "It helps him see different options for finding a solution."

Which suddenly reminded me of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. And . . . wait a minute . . . isn't Sherlock Holmes a more complex predecessor to Batman's detective side? And doesn't many a Sherlockian quietly and, unbeknownst-to-family-or-coworkers, internally play Sherlock Holmes now and then?

It's a little harder to test adults while having them play Sherlock Holmes, but from what I've seen of such creatures in the wild, I think there is evidence that playing Sherlock Holmes might have a similar effect. And being a Sherlock Holmes fan over the long term? Who knows what brain patterns that might develop?

But there sure seem to be a lot of highly successful Sherlockians out there. And that might just be due to "the Sherlock effect."

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