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Feature Christmas 2011: Diagnosis

The writing’s on the wall for Sherlock

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7406 (Published 20 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7406

Re: The writing’s on the wall for Sherlock

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a tour de force of backward writing, in which the author retrospectively writes from the end to the beginning. This means that Doyle creates masterful mysteries in order to contrast Dr. Watson’s plodding, deductive, a priori reasoning from cause to effect, with Sherlock Holmes’ incisive, inductive, a posteriori reasoning from effect to cause. Needless to say, none of this is elementary.

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 December 2011
Hugh Mann
Physician