Posts Tagged ‘Deduction’

“Professor” Hercule Poirot, at your service….

In 14 Book Corner on 2011/05/20 at 9:12 AM

What good is knowledge if you do not understand?

What good  knowledge and understanding if you do not apply them?

In addition to knowledge, one must use the tools of analysis and synthesis in order to understand a situation and draw a proper conclusion.

If you want to think logically and get a proper view of factual events, you would do well to follow what Agatha Christie put into the mouth of her character, Hercules Poirot: “Analysis and synthesis, these are the key to the art of deduction.  Rip apart the evidence, detail by detail, to its barest essential till all the pieces fall into place and we have the complete picture of everything that happened.” (PBS “The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim”)

Note: For an entertaining exercise that will improve your powers of deduction, read The Agatha Idea located in Archives under the Category, Book Corner.

Inductive/Deductive Thinking

In 07 Observations on 2011/04/11 at 5:49 PM

There are two basic forms of valid reasoning: Inductive and Deductive.  INDUCTIVE reasoning argues from the PARTICULAR to the general. DEDUCTIVE reasoning argues from the GENERAL to a specific instance.

Writers and professors with an INDUCTIVE orientation start with details and gradually build to an understanding of the larger picture.

In a history course you can start with the details of historical events and build up to an analysis of the underlying motivations for those events.  This style is referred as a facts-to-idea style.

Writers and professors with a DEDUCTIVE orientation start with intuitive ideas or a concept and illustrate or prove them with supportive information or facts. This style starts with a big idea, but many persons get lost in the process and bogged down by too many details.

I use both methods in teaching history depending on the situation. I find it is best to use both methods in teaching because each mind functions differently:  some minds lean towards INDUCTIVE reasoning while other minds employ DEDUCTIVE reasoning more naturally.

It is a case of what in Spanish is termed: “Cada loco con su tema” which translates roughly as “Each nut has its theme.”


The Agatha Idea

In 14 Book Corner on 2011/04/03 at 12:56 AM


If you wish to learn logic, here is a good activity for young and not so young.

Read any Agatha Christie, but I would recommend starting with “And Then There Were None”

1. As you read and find the first person you think that did it, write that name down.

2. As you find evidence that exonerates that person, write what the reason is for exonerating him or her.

3. When you find evidence that contradicts that exoneration, write what that evidence is.

And do these three points for every suspect you get. (You will find you have quite a list).

It is fun being de-railed by “red herrings” and then getting back on the “scent”.

Agatha Christie wrote over a hundred books which have been translated into all major languages.  I have read & re-read them all.  The story line of each book is more interesting and challenging than the sappy version now being mangled by TV versions that would irritate Agatha.

Here is an excerpt from the first reply I received:

My niece is an avid reader and an honors English student.  I shared your idea about reading an Agatha Christie novel and capturing the “who-done-it,” the why and what clues change the “prognosis.”  We tossed around the idea of selecting a Christie novel together to read over spring or summer break and plan to follow the steps you outlined.  She liked the idea.  I suspect my other niece, 12, might also like to join in.