This years’ IdeaFestival is off to a roaring start with a presentation from Maria Konnikova, author of a book titled Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Ms. Konnikova suggests that one way to solve problems is to mimic the techniques of observation that Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes used. Studies show that active attention provides more results than being a passive observer. This mindfulness or presence is difficult in practice in our modern world where we have become slaves to constant bombardment of information from different sources.

The thread that ran through all of the days’ IdeaFestival presentations for me was seeing all possibilities.

Alex Stone’s talk on Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind shared the idea of being guided by assumptions, and finding patterns where none seemingly exist.

In his afternoon session, comedian Chris Bliss talked about how every act of communication is actually an act of translation, and it is wise to view failure as another point of information that can be used positively.

Juxtaposed with this was marine biologist Rafe Sagarin, suggesting that it’s as important that we learn from successes as it is from failures. He pointed out how we can observe and learn from about complex systems from nature, and that biology trumps politics.

The day was closed with presentations about different approaches have been taken to solving what appear to be big challenges.

Sandwiched in the middle of all this was a lunchtime talk by Calvin Johnson, who endured a horrendous experience and wrongful incarceration, about his long road to exoneration, thanks to the Innocence Project, and admission of DNA evidence in his case.

An excellent, and a bit exhausting day.