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Endeavour. 2004 Sep;28(3):104-8.

Sherlock Holmes: scientific detective.

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  • 1St John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439, USA. snyderl@stjohns.edu

Abstract

Sherlock Holmes was intended by his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, to be a 'scientific detective'. Conan Doyle criticized his predecessor Edgar Allan Poe for giving his creation - Inspector Dupin - only the 'illusion' of scientific method. Conan Doyle believed that he had succeeded where Poe had failed; thus, he has Watson remark that Holmes has 'brought detection as near an exact science as it will ever be brought into the world.' By examining Holmes' methods, it becomes clear that Conan Doyle modelled them on certain images of science that were popular in mid- to late-19th century Britain. Contrary to a common view, it is also evident that rather than being responsible for the invention of forensic science, the creation of Holmes was influenced by the early development of it.

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