If Sherlock Holmes Were a Genealogist (Part 5): Step #4—Imagination, The Workshop of the Mind

 Step #4—Imagination, The Workshop of the MindBy Barry J. Ewell

Sherlock Holmes often sought seclusion to help him solve a problem; he would remove himself from all disturbances so that he could use his imagination to freely explore the problem from all angles.

As with Einstein, Holmes would take up the fiddle to help himself relax. While one part of his mind would be occupied with playing the violin, the greater part of his mind was able to roam free and form new ideas.

Holmes referred to the imagination as the mother of truth. In his times of reverie, he could allow the interplay of ideas to generate new insights into whatever case was taxing him at that time.

So there you have it. You are just as much a genius as Sherlock Holmes.

Keep an open mind when you evaluate your “evidence.” The research process can be defined in five steps:

  1. Gather data in order to define the problem(s) accurately.
  2. Look for answers in more than one source in order to draw conclusions from all evidence.
  3. Look for other alternatives.
  4. Follow clues to their logical conclusions in order to make decisions based on facts.
  5. Gather more data.

Your research should be critically analyzed for accuracy and completeness at each phase of your search. Remember: when looking at the documents you so painstakingly acquired, you should use them, reuse them, and then use them again. The following steps will help you glean all you can from your sources:

  • Ask yourself, “What are they trying to tell me?”
  • Determine what they were used for.
  • Remember the time frame and the context within that time frame.
  • Search for clues.
  • Eliminate the impossible.
  • Check out the possible to come up with the probable.
  • Look for substantiating documentation.

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