sherlock holmes

OGB Podcast #37- A Scandal In Bohemia


The tables have turned. Scott makes Karl read “A Scandal In Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Understanding this short story is to understand what made young Scott tick.

Sherlock Holmes is a saint of reason which could account for why our Reader-In-Chief finds him so refreshing. His character exclaims, “it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data… insensibly, one begins to twist fact to suit theories instead of facts to suit theories.” For Holmes, whatever theory is left that the data supports, no matter how improbable, had to be the answer to him. In this way, he was attracted to finding the truth more than the outcome.

The world is an explicable place- one where he can deduce who you are simply by looking at your shoes. To Holmes, humans are rational actors with incentives and motivations. So long as he can find out what their motives are, all that’s left is looking at the sense data to figure out what happened and who did it.

Scott and Karl talk about this view of rationality in great length. Tune in and hear the discussion of what is, to an art, the first real detective story.

Tune in to hear their discussion! 

Show Highlights

  • Why young Scott fell in love with Sherlock Holmes
  • The role of Irine Adler as the platonic ideal of what a woman can be for Holmes
  • Discussion of contemporary Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock Holme’s relationship with the truth
  • The character Watson
  • Sherlock Holmes versus other detective stories
  • The hyper-rational criminal
  • Karl’s theory in The Odyssey 
  • Would the world be better or worse if everyone was Holmesian?
  • Sherlock Holmes versus Edar Allen Poe
  • Sir Arthur Conon Doyle making Aristotle’s 4 Causes fun

Resources/Articles/People Mentioned In The Podcast


Scott Hambrick: Hey I’m Scott and this is Karl, and today we will be discussing “A Scandal In Bohemia” 

Karl Schudt: Ya so I thought this will be a little different from LOTR where I was the guy who loved it and made you read it, and you’re the one who loved this. I’m reading it and I’m thinking, “there’s something here that is the key to Scott Hambrick. There’s some reason why he loves this story so much and Sherlock Holmes in particular and I’d kinda like to delve into that.”

Scott Hambrick: Let’s do that. but just I’d like to point out Karl is like “hey read this 1100 page book” for me and I’m like ok and then I ask him to read this 13-page short story. I’ve got to tell a little story first. When I was, I don’t know, I had read Sherlock Holmes probably when I was 8 like you. And then, some years later, I was maybe 12 or so, we went to a garage sale and here was a set of these books at the garage sale. 

Karl Schudt: He’s holding up a finely bound, does it have gold leaf pages? 

Scott Hambrick: Ya. 

Karl Schudt: it’s high affluent.

Scott Hambrick: It’s a set of books by Black’s Readers Service, printed probably in the 40s and you could buy them on a subscription and get one a month. They have a ribbon sewn in the binding, and boy I wanted those. This is my first great books set. I think mom paid 50 bucks. 

Karl Schudt: 5-0? 

Scott Hambrick: I believe that’s right. It would be in 1984, that’s a big deal. So my sister and I have read most of these books in this set, by the way Blacks Reader’s Service the main product they sold was that big hardback set of Zane Grey Western Novels that you may have seen. But my sister and I read these a lot. We spent a lot of time with these. I gave them to my sister, she has them, but I bought my own set on eBay. Scandal in Bohemia, I think, is the first of the short stories if I’m not mistaken. The sign of 4 came first, the first Sherlock Holmes book. And then Doyle didn’t make a great deal of money off of that thing, he sold the rights to it for a flat fee and was pretty sore about that. Got a deal with The Strand magazine to do some serials and introduced Sherlock Holmes to the readers of the Strand with this story “A Scandal In Bohemia.” What are the things you said about it, he was able to do something pretty good even though it was a strictly commercial endeavor. He may have even gotten paid by the word for these. 

Karl Schudt: When we talk about writing and great books and everything, a lot of these guys are writing for money and it’s ok. It’s ok if you’re of good character, if you have good thoughts in your head, and I’m not sure Victor Hugo had good thoughts or good character, but if you have an interesting exterior life and you write on a deadline, the stuff you write is going to be good. Charles Dickens got paid a penny a word so that’s why those novels are so long. He got paid if they were longer, but they’re still good. I would not turn up my nose to Pulp or whatever you want to call this stuff, Penny Dreadful or anything, it might be really good. I’ve read a lot of bad science fiction, stuff that appears in the magazines and never got much. It’ snot important works by important authors. 

Scott Hambrick: Maybe, we’ll see. You know? 

Karl Schudt: Ya. 

Scott Hambrick: “A Scandal In Bohemia” I love the first line. “to Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman.”

Karl Schudt: THE is in all caps. She is represented of her sex. She is the platonic ideal of what woman can be. Ya. So is this about a great love affair? 

Scott Hambrick: No, I don’t think so. 

Karl Schudt: There’s no love, I mean there’s no romance. They did it in the BBC TV series and made it somewhat a romance because modern people. If it’s not sex we don’t know what it is. Their Irine Adler is very different. But in this, there’s no relationship between her and Sherlock Holmes. Not a physical relationship. 

Scott Hambrick: Only admiration. So you wanted to psychologies me a little bit. Do we want to talk about the story or do you want to do that first? 

Karl Schudt: We can give the outline of the story first. So this is a spoiler, we should just put a spoiler warner at the front of these. We’re going to talk about the book and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re going to know what’s in it. So go read it first.

Scott Hambrick:it’s 18 pages so go read it. 

Karl Schudt: Hit pause, go download it from, read it, and half an hour later come back and press play. 

Scott Hambrick: Here’s the outline. Watson has been married, He’s walking down the street. I’m going to drop in on our old rooms on Bakers street so he goes and see’s Sherlock Holmes while he’s there, a masked stranger arrives and engages Sherlock Holmes for work. And Sherlock Holmes knows who he is before he announces who he is of course. The king of Bohemia and he describes a blackmail plot that he’s embroiled in and Sherlock Holmes goes on to concoct a scheme whereby he can retrieve the materials that the blackmailer is using. The blackmailer foils him but she is a person of honor. She is blackmailing the king because she loves him. 

Karl Schdut: Because she loves the king? 

Scott Hambrick: Yes, she does not want another woman to have him, he’s getting married. It’s not about money, it’s just don’t get married you only marry me. And then she gets hip to it, she foils Sherlock Holmes plot, but being a woman of honor, she meets another man and pledges to never harm the king. Sherlock Holmes loves it that he was bested, the end. 

Karl Schudt: Ya pretty much, it’s pretty simple. 

Scott Hambrick: But all that shit happens in 18 pages! 

Karl Schudt: It’s like an Italian opera. What hits me is she foils him and he loves it. So, I’ve been thinking about that. I was wondering if Adler had written a book called how to disagree. If he hadn’t he should have. Because typically what happens, this happens to Socrates too, you get in a discussion or interaction with someone and the other person beats you. And your reaction is anger, revenge, something like that. Instead of what Sherlock Holmes does here which is she beat me, and she’s perfect and wonderful and I’ll always love her as the ideal woman. 

Scott Hambrick: He would like a lock of her hair.

Karl Schudt: He probably would. Love from a distance that the woman was smarter than him in this particular occasion. I think that’s a wonderful reaction. If I have an opinion and I think I’m right and you convince me that I’m wrong, that’s a good thing. And I’m not going to say damnit Hambrick. I might say that, but it would a good damnit. Ya. so I thought that was intriguing. The way she does it, she recognizes, should we tell Sherlock Holmes? 

Scott Hambrick: It’s wonderful. by the way, let’s have a little debate real quick. Have you seen the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes? That’s the BBC series from the 80s through 1990? Something like that. Where it’s all Edwardian costume, they as faithfully reproduced these stories as could possibly be done in film 

Karl Schudt: No I don’t think so. 

Scott Hambrick: And then there’s the Benedict Cumbernic Sherlock Holmes, the new one. I like the Jeremy Brett better. The new ones are a lot of fun, but it’s not the same thing. 

Karl Schudt: Right. 

Scott Hambrick: It’s not the same thing. 

Karl Schudt: It’s an attempt to make Sherlock Holmes as he would have been in modern times.

Scott Hambrick: Which I’m not interested in. 

Karl Schudt: I don’t know that you could have in modern times. 

Scott Hambrick: They’ve got that show Monk where he solves crimes. That’s good enough. you don’t need to screw with Sherlock Holmes. 

Karl Schudt: That’s interesting. Sherlock Holmes is a saint of reason. And to have that, you have to be in an age that values reason. So part of the fun, and part of what young Scott was attached to was that. Here’s a guy that can deduce who you are by looking at your shoes.

Scott Hambrick: The world is an explicable place for Sherlock Holmes. 

Karl Schudt: I don’t know that we think that’s so anymore. You have to have, like, the Monk series Adrian monk the character in that series, I forget the actors name 

Scott Hambrick: Tony Shale? 

Karl Schudt: He’s very good in everything that he’s in. But he has to be portrayed as a damaged person who can’t leave his house. And that’s why he can dwell in reason. Reason is a weird place that only weird people go to. Nobody cares about this stuff. 

Scott Hambrick: The other Sherlock Holmes is a much weirder, fringe person than Jeremy Brett or Arthur Doyle’s character is as well. 

Karl Schudt: You got to make him strange! Interesting.

Scott Hambrick: I think “Scandal In Bohemia” is 1888 he wrote it, something like that. But this is deep industrial England. You know? This is the England that is Brunel built and capability brown, James what, this is a highly rational group of people at this point that see the world as something they can understand and do something with. 

Karl Schudt: Ya expect I think I need to argue with myself so you have to help me out here. What does Sherlock Holmes do when he doesn’t have a case. 

Scott Hambrick: It’s not that he doesn’t have a case, if he isn’t challenged he bites his own tale. He does drugs and lays around and acts like a San Francisco millennial. 

Karl Schudt: Maybe the thing that I’m seeing now is the same thing as 1888. 

Scott Hambrick: En oui? 

Karl Schudt: If you’re really smart, you’re an outcast. Which also might be part of the attraction. Boy if you’re a smart kid in public school.

Scott Hambrick: At Katousa Oklahoma. 

Karl Schudt: And OK boys and girls we’re going to go around the room and read aloud. Did you have that happen? 

Scott Hambrick: There was a guy in my English class, small school, and his last name started with an f mine started with h, so he was always right next to me in the seating and we would go around the room and read. And if you and I were going to do some sort of Amos and Andy comedy sketch about a guy that couldn’t read that had to read outlaid in class that is what it was. he read to me once a week in public schools from age 6-17. 

Karl Schudt: It’s hard.

Scott Hambrick: Ugh, hated it. So awful. 

Karl Schudt: It’s not his fault.

Scott Hambrick: It’s not his fault. 

Karl Schudt: But if you happened to be sharper than the other stick in the shed, you’re going to be bored and if there was cocaine and the stuff that Sherlock Holmes had, you might do it. You know? 

Scott Hambrick: Poor guy. I can’t talk about him without naming him. I don’t want to poop on your point. You’re right. It was pretty bad for that guy too, he didn’t want to read to us. That’s not fair. 

Karl Schudt: But you’re all in one schoolroom, you gotta do the same thing. That’s another topic. 

Scott Hambrick: The world for Sherlock Holmes was not a scary place. It was a world that a series of two pipe problems. Really hard problem was two pipes, he would load his pipe smoke two bowels, and he would have it solved. It’s a series of two pipe problems. He just had enough time he could figure it out. Humans are rational actors with incentives and motivations for him. And if he could just find out what their incentive and motive was, and look at all the sense data, he could figure out what happened and who did it. 

Karl Schudt: Is this the Sherlock Holmes quote,” if you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be it.”

Scott Hambrick: From “A Scandal In Bohemia” he says, “it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. “ Capital! He’ll put you out for that. “insensibly, one begins to twist fact to suit theories instead of facts to suit theories.” He’s all about the data, and parking through it, whatever theory is left that the data support no matter how improbably had to be the answer to him. 

Karl Schudt: What if you don’t like the theory? What if you don’t like what the data supports? 

Scott Hambrick: Well, you know what, one of the stories I considered having us read was the Boscombe Valley Mystery. in which he finds out that the person who did the murder broke the law but he didn’t think that she did anything unjust. So, I don’t think that he liked finding it out but he decided to not report her or go to the authors with that. He wasn’t attached to the outcome necessarily. 

Karl Schudt: He was attached more to finding the truth, than the outcome. 

Scott Hambrick: Truth and pursuing justice. He taught it was justice that was done in the Boscombe Valley Mystery when the lady killed the guy. It’ been a long time since I’ve read the story. 

Karl Schudt: I’ve got some other threads that I want to pull one. what about Watson? 

Scott Hambrick: Gotta have Watson or the stories don’t work. Sherlock Holmes is so cold and calculating. He couldn’t be a partial narrator, give us the human details because he’s not interested in the human details, the color of the thing. Watson is able to stand in for us and show us the things that he thinks is interesting. Sherlock Holmes is only interested in the things material to the case. 

Karl Schudt: Is Watson interesting to him? 

Scott Hambrick: You know, I’ve thought about that. They’re friends and over the series of works they fight for each other and risk their lives for each other. Watson was reprieved when reports came through of Sherlock Holmes death. I don’t know how important Watson was to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes seems to deeply cherish Watson’s fidelity, honesty, ability to be a confidant, He loved that he carried a revolver. I don’t know. In this story, Sherlock Holmes says to Watson, you don’t mind breaking the law. And Watson says not in the least, not in a good case. And he says ok we’re going to go rob this broad. Does he love Watson or does he just appreciate the qualities that Watson has. And can he separate the two. I don’t know man. 

Karl Schudt: I like when they see each other in the beginning of the story and Sherlock Holmes says wedlock suits you- I think Watson you’ve put on 7.5 lbs. And Watson is upset and says 7! you know it was 7.5. 

Scott Hambrick: Right. He says you did not tell me that you intended to go into harness. he had to go take up work again. and then Sherlock Holmes describes how he figured out all these things and then Watson says, you would certainly be burned had you lived a few century ago. These stories are so funny. 

Karl Schudt: They’re fun stories. I am not as much a fan as Scott. 

Scott Hambrick: How are you not. 

Karl Schudt: It’s probably too rational. 

Scott Hambrick: Right. 

Karl Schudt: I like unicorns and elves and things. 

Scott Hambrick: Well, Irene Adler is a unicorn. 

Karl Schudt: Don’t make fun of me. One of the things that I like, lets follow that one. There is a detective two books written by the guy that wrote hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, Douglas Adams. they flip the Holmesian thing. the Holmesian thing is climate the possible and whatever is left, no matter how improbable is probable it in the dirt gently books, you eliminate the probability and whatever is left no matter what is left, it must be it. The books are funny too because he’s always right. There’s a character that’s a rain god and he’s a truck driver, and he’s aways raining. It’s the clouds giving him love cause he’s the rain god. the reason it struck me, on one had you have the completely rational universe you know the extends of if you’re going to be Sherlock Holmes you need to know all the things that are possible. You might not know. Maybe that’s me just with my fantasy imagination, you know. maybe there is a ghost sometimes. 

Scott Hambrick: Right. there are some mysteries here there’s one where a guy is trying to kill Sherlock Holmes, assassinate Sherlock Holmes. I can’t remember what story it is. and Sherlock Holmes figures out who it is because he’s aware there’s one guy who has this high power air rifle whatever. But he had to know that. one of the things about these stories is Sherlock Holmes has this enormous catalog of newspaper clippings and information that he’s kept and he knows everybody in the underworld, he understands the workings of London, he has to have a huge knowledge base, its not just rationality he has to have a huge knowledge base of his surroundings and what’s possible. he’s always doing chemistry experiments and studying tobacco ash because he has to know everything about the world for it to make sense to him. 

Karl Schudt: It’s all very clear cut. I read a lot of mystery. So Dirk Gently is quite different. Longmire is a series I’ve been reading recently. He has an owl perch on his doorpost and he’ll know that somebody has died. Do you know? 

Scott Hambrick: Ya I can’t read that. 

Karl Schudt: I guess that’s the big boundary line. Is the world a completely explicable, rational place? 

Scott Hambrick: I thin itt is if you have enough of the data, but you’ll never have it. 

Karl Schudt: Are there any characters in Sherlock Holmes who are merely spiteful? Where you don’t know why they do the bag thing?

Scott Hambrick: I don’t think so. everybody knows about mortared, his arch-nemesis who is really black, dark Sherlock Holmes. he’s a hyper rational criminal he does the criminal works seemingly for the challenge for it. it’s an intellectual exercise it seems. there’s a blackmailer mentioned in a couple of these stories, Charles Augustus Milverton. Milverton seems to be just completely evil. he likes screwing with people, he likes hurting people, he’s a grabber he likes money. 

Karl Schudt: Is it money or is it just evil? Sometimes it seems to me in my experience of the world, there are people in the world who are just mean as a snake. 

Scott Hambrick: I think Milvertone is malevolent. Maybe not, but most of his characters need money, overacted and were overly passionate, Crimes of passion, trying to obtain property, they’ve got some motivation that I don’t agree with. It’s not just hulk smash ugly. But I agree, there seems to be raw malevolence out there 

Karl Schudt: And it’s not too often in the Sherlock Holmes stories, most of the Sherlock Holmes stories it’s a matter of degree. Sherlock Holmes is ration, the criminal is rational but the Crimean screwed up the calculation. it’s a failure of knowledge not a failure of will I guess. here’s another thread, let’s talk about Irine. Irine Adler. So the way she figures this out, we warned you ahead of time, dear listener, to pause and read it. This is how she figures it out. What they do is they pretend to light their house on fire. 

Scott Hambrick: They throw a simple plumbers smoke torpedo

Karl Schudt: I’ve actually used a plumbers smoke torpedo in my high school days. We would plug one end of the sanitary and we would climb up and see if the smoke came up in places it shouldn’t. It turns out the seminar had his storm drains going to the sanitary. Oops, you’re not supposed to do that. We blew smoke, I think his kid came out and there’s blue smoke coming out of the toilet. Well anyway, you throw one of that into the house and then yell fire and the thought was that Irene Adler, though she be a woman, she is still bowman and in a moment of panic will go to that which is most precious to her. 

Scott Hambrick: And her, not having a babe in arms, would go to her jewelry box. But not her, she’d go to the photographs and the blackmail materials. and Sherlock Holmes sees where it is. 

Karl Schudt: As soon as she’s done, she realizes what it is. she sent a letter to Sherlock Holmes at the end. 

Scott Hambrick: She’s like who could possibly have tricked me? She’s like hell it could only be Sherlock Holmes. She immediately puts on the disguise and starts heading to bakers street and sees Sherlock Holmes returning from the caper and says goodnight mister Sherlock Holmes as she walks by she’s dressed as a boy. So that’s how she knew that it was Sherlock Holmes so she sends a letter to the king care of 2201 bakers street and they open the letter letting the king know the secrets are safe with her but she would retain the material in case he would be an a hole later. And sent a photograph. The king was like name your price Mr. Sherlock Holmes, he said I would only like Irenes photograph. Now, she gave him, he was a witness in her wedding to her solicitor because he was in disguise trying to figure out the whole situation. He was drug into the wedding as a witness, given a golden sovern for his trouble that he would wear on his watch fob forever it’s awesome! 

Karl Schudt: Let me go far-field up. 

Scott Hambrick: He took some expense money upfront, which is about a year’s income, a thousand pounds which would have been upper-middle class annual income in London at the time and a gold coin and her picture. it wasn’t about the money for him. 

Karl Schudt: What this made me think about was Penelope and Odysseus. I’m always thinking about Homer, that’s a golden thread in my life, but when Odysseus comes out of the water and talks to nasica he’s wishing her good things and nothing is better than a marriage where two minds meet, two minds, a delight to their friends a terror to their enemies and I’m thinking she’s Penelope. Penelope who is just as crafty as her husband. Obviously they’re not the same but you can make some comparisons you always needed to know, the sirens. right?

Scott Hambrick: I’m stretching with ya. 

Karl Schudt: Am I too far out am I being fantastical?

Scott Hambrick: I don’t know that Sherlock Holmes and Adler here are Odysseus and Penelope. 

Karl Schudt: They are Odysseus and Penelope. It’s an ideal of love which is Look she’s so smart, she beat me, she’s wonderful, she’s perfect.

Scott Hambrick: They clearly share values in a deep, deep way. 

Karl Schudt: And the values the mind, right? Do you think she’s in love with the solicitor?

Scott Hambrick: She said that she was.

Karl Schudt: I’ve found a better man than him. 

Scott Hambrick: Did she say love?

Karl Schudt: She said she found somebody better.

Scott Hambrick: “I love and am loved than a better man than he.”  I don’t know. How much can a female Sherlock Holmes love. The king may do what he will without hindrance from who he is cruelly wronged. I keep it only to safeguard myself and preserve a weapon for any… 

Karl Schudt: if I die, release these. 

Scott Hambrick: What do they call that a kill switch?

Karl Schudt: Something like that. I want to hear more from her. I’m sad she doesn’t show up too much. They talk about her in other stories. 

Scott Hambrick: What a woman oh what a woman cried the king of bohemia. Did I not tell you how quick and resolute she was? Would she not have made an admiral queen? Was it not a pity she wasn’t on my level.” “I’m sorry that I was not able to bring your majesty to a better conclusion.” 

Karl Schudt: Sherlock Holmes is quizzing the king of bohemia on what happened. It’s my paper, well you could say it was stolen. Well, I appear in the photograph. Oh. 

Scott Hambrick: Send nudes. 

Karl Schudt: Woman make claims of kings all the time and you could just deny them, but not if you have the photos. Which if you want to write backstory what did she ever see in the king of bohemia 

Scott Hambrick: He’s a big strapping guy, a king, richly dressed, abusive of his verbs as only a German could be, and he clearly thought a great deal of her, so. You know, we don’t get a big story here about the virtues of the king. 

Karl Schudt: He probably wrote this in 20 minutes. I don’t know his writing style. He probably had that sentence, “to Sherlock Holmes, she was always the woman.” Oh that’s a great beginning. 

Scott Hambrick: Now how do I write that woman. What must she be?

Karl Schudt: it is a quick read, it presents a view of rationality that is attractive, I think. I still have the same worry with Sherlock Holmes, is it a complete life 

Scott Hambrick: What is Watson to us? I think you have to have a Watson tell the story so you can see that Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have a complete life. 

Karl Schudt: Ya, Watson has to get married and he leaves. there’s this line, I think that I had better go, Sherlock Holmes. Stay where you are I am lost without my Boswell. 

Scott Hambrick: What is it Samuel Johnson had his life chronicled by Boswell, right. So he’s the chronicler. 

Karl Schudt: So it’s Watson who can have the normal life, and the way Sherlock Holmes shares in the normal life is hanging out with Watson. There was a cool meme I saw. So they were both (actors in the latest BBC ting) were in the Hobbit movie. Which, I don’t recommend seeing. And Cumberbatch plays the dragon. And so, it’s like Sherlock Sherlock Holmes playing the dragon and Watson’s actor is playing Bilbo Batons and it just shows them looking together, Sherlock Holmes? Watson? It’s for a case! He’s in disguise as a dragon in middle earth. 

Scott Hambrick: He has these powers of observation and he knows everything. He knows 23 thousand varietals of tobacco ash. He can carry off perfect disguises. He’s a masterful actor, he’s enormously strong. He has a big bully burst into rooms and tells Sherlock Holmes he’s going to kill him and grabs the poker at the fireplace and Sherlock Holmes straightens it back out. he’s a superhero, he’s batman. 

Karl Schudt: Let’s go back to that which we’ve mentioned in passing so far. Cause I think this is genuinely useful and good. So Watson is always amazed, he tries to do what Sherlock Holmes does. He tries to deduce what people are just by looking at them. Did you ever do that? Did you ever sit in a restaurant and look at the people. 

Scott Hambrick: All day. 

Karl Schudt: Figure out who they are and what they’re doing. Sherlock Holmes says, quite so. You see but you do not observe. What does that mean to observe verses to see. 

Scott Hambrick: Sherlock Holmes has to see things almost out of their context. When Watson sees a guy he says “hmm that’s a nice well-dressed guy. Looks like a fellow Londoner. He’s not a hobo. That’s it. Sherlock Holmes sees everything in great resolution and none of it is contextual. He understands that the context all has elements and he breaks it down and observes each element and rebuilds the context around each element. So when the guy walks in, he says he’s a great big strapping guy. He’s richly dressed, I’ve already gotten his letter it’s on expensive paper, the watermark is german, this guy is wearing all this weird fur. He’s probably german. 

Karl Schudt: Not a very good disguise for the king of bohemia. 

Scott Hambrick: He does violence to his verbs, ect. He’s aware of impending nuptials because he reads everything. Blah blah blah. He figures out who it is. Whereas Watson was just awestruck by the whole weirdness of the whole thing. He saw it all, but he wasn’t able to observe it. 

Karl Schudt: Do you think that this is a skill that one ought to cultivate? 

Scott Hambrick: I do, I don’t know that you should use it as a superpower to figure out every single person you come in contact with. When you need it, you need to be able to take a step back, observe things with some remove, and see them as they are and draw conclusions. People call it “intuition” but I think what people use their “intuition” they are like running a script in their head, right? “Ah, I’ve encountered this sort of thing before. And this is what happened and so on.” And so they just hold these concepts in their head the data coming at them matches a pattern that they’ve already seen. There’s some kind of unconscious cognition that happens. And boom and idea pops into their head. That was my intuition. I don’t think so. I think they’re running a script that lets them come to a conclusion. That conclusion they think is an intuition I think it’s a super quick subconscious cognition. He wants all of his cognition to be conscious, Sherlock Holmes does. 

Karl Schudt: In my example of another literary detective, he sees the owl perch and knows somebody is dead. It’s not the owl, he’s been thinking and thinking, doesn’t know it, and it all comes together and sees the owl. 

Scott Hambrick: Are you trying to make my point back to me with the owl? 

Karl Schudt: Ya. 

Scott Hambrick: No that’s just a rubbish story. 

Karl Schudt: You never had a moment like that you know what happened but you’re not sure the conscious steps. 

Scott Hambrick: Ya but it wasn’t because a pigeon crapped on the porch. There was a car wreck! 

Karl Schudt: Owls are symbolics 

Scott Hambrick: That’s just bad writing. 

Karl Schudt: I”m crossing those books off the ones I’m recommending to you 

Scott Hambrick: You see some lady dressed a certain way and she pulls into the parking lot erratically and slams her car into the park. And you’re like I got a bad feeling about this, I’m getting out of here. It’s not intuition. You worked as a grocery store when you were 17 and some lady with her hair teased up real big storms in to speak to a manager. She’s got the I want to speak with your manager hairdo. It’s not an induction, You’ve just seen it before. 

Karl Schudt: I don’t know that you have.

Scott Hambrick: You’ve seen something significantly like it. My buddy Ray says “If it smells like poop, feels like poop, looks like poop, you don’t have to taste it to know it’s poop.” Enough of the poop boxes are checked with this lady. You don’t have to sit down to make a checklist. That’s the plumber rule by the way. 

Karl Schudt: That summer working down in the sewers, it is in it’s the best to position immediately upon deposit. As it goes through the pipes it does not get any better. that smell. Sometimes I get a whiff of it in the streets of Chicago, wafting up from the underground. You’ll never forget it. So you had your example when you were in a checkout counter and you had one situation. And now you’re in another situation saying it’s the same, but it’s not. There’s likeness. This is a puzzle. So how do you know there’s a likeness. How do you know, like Aristotle talking bout induction. You see a bunch of examples of something and now you know it’s universal. How do you know the second case is a case of trouble. 

Scott Hambrick: That’s the thing. You don’t know. But you have a really good reason to suspect. You drop the ball 10,000 times, you cannot prove that it proves the 10,0001 times. But we can trust that it will. So when I see the lady driving a chevy avalanche and multicolored hair with the thing swooped over and whip into the parking lot and slam it. And the car is still rocking while she’s walking in the building, I don’t need to go talk to her. She might be as sweet as sugar. I’ll pass. That’s the problem with induction 

Karl Schudt: The problem is you’re never in exactly the same situation you were in the past. I don’t know that it’s as clear cut as a Holmesian case would be. 

Scott Hambrick: Of course not. 

Karl Schudt: I’ve got a bad feeling about this. I wonder if there’s an element of observation. Well that’s the point of observing. The point of observing is to try to determine what sort of situation it is. To get as much data as you can. so that you can fit it into a good recollection a good intuition. So if you just see the king walk in and you haven’t really thought about him. But if you’re looking at interesting shoes and you’re collecting data, there’s a scene in the story where does he know what Watson has been doing cause he sees the cuts on the shoe? 

Scott Hambrick: Ge’s got a careless charwoman working for him. 

Karl Schudt: Who has not done the shoes correctly. That might be useful. My wife read a book about being your own bodyguard. I think Brett interviewed the guy. A lot of it was about observation. Collect the data, be sure exactly what is going on around you so that you can make room to have the correct, I’m going to say, intuition about what sort of situation it is. Is it beyond the baseline. if the woman comes in and drives a little crazy. That’s beyond the baseline, I better be on my guard. 

Scott Hambrick: And you might be wrong. 

Karl Schudt: Mostly you are wrong. I’ve thought one guy was going to shoot one lady. She was dropping her kid off for school and the guy was behind her and it was a narrow place and he couldn’t get past her. And he was getting angrier and angrier and finally she pulled through and then he dropped his kid off. This is at a Christian school by the way, and then he drove away. And then he drove back to yell at her. And I saw him driving back. I’m like “ Man I’m getting out of here I think there’s going to be gunplay. There wasn’t but it was all my antenna was up. You get mad at a woman in front of you and then you’re going to be so mad you’re going to drive back to curse at her some more? That’s way beyond baseline. I had one of my kids in the car saying “what’s going on?” she wasn’t observing. I was just like this is weird. 

Scott Hambrick: I was driving one day and I turned my left turn signal on to turn into a parking lot which was across the street. So I had to pull across oncoming traffic. I turned my turn signal on I saw a pedestrian on the sidewalk. I pulled across traffic to turn left into this parking lot, and the guy had seen me but something happened, I don’t know what it was but he stepped right in front of me. I had to slam on the brakes and my rump is out in traffic, but I didn’t kill the guy. It startled the heck out of him. He ran across the sidewalk and moved on. I pulled into the parking lot, well, I started to get out of the car and I saw that guy was coming towards me. I thought this guy is going to want to have a scrap but he stepped off the curb in front of me. I couldn’t have done anything else. I have a blackjack in my car. I got my blackjack and he walked up. If I need to, I guess I”m going to have to kill him. Cause I’m not going to let him kill me. And he said, “man I”m so sorry I don’t even know what I was doing. I just stepped in front of you. I have no idea what I was doing. I’m so sorry. I appreciate you getting on those brakes I’m glad oncoming traffic didn’t get you. You have a good day, man.” So I put my blackjack from my right to my left hand, shook his hand, and said have a great day, be safe out there.” But it looked like we were going to have an altercation. 

Karl Schudt: You were observant and you stayed rational. But I was going to crush the oral across his right eye if I needed to. you’d hate to have a bad situation come up and you not have made the observation. Sherlock Holmes is a model. 

Scott Hambrick: Would the world be better or worse if everyone was Holmesian. 

Karl Schudt: Well they wouldn’t mate. 

Scott Hambrick: Sherlock Holmes could find someone to pet his genome in if he had to to keep the world going. He wouldn’t enjoy it a bit. 

Karl Schudt: That would be an interesting story. 

Scott Hambrick: “Dear ms. adler. You and I once crossed paths over a matter of the king of Bohemia. I can’t help but notice the population is declining, it might be good if one of my genome comes across you egg. I will be in Paris…” That’s Sherlock Holmes foreplay. I’ve enclosed a chess problem. Should you solve it, you will know where I will be. At which time we can engage in Cortes and help. 

Karl Schudt: I think there are some bits missing in him. 

Scott Hambrick: I need to write some fan fiction I think. 

Karl Schudt: Pseudonyms I hope. There’s a line from Thomas Aquinas that has haunted me since I read it.

Scott Hambrick: Who is the Sherlock Holmes of theology by the way. 

Karl Schudt: Ya absolutely. That’s a good way to put it. Thomas Aquinas solving mysteries. As Sherlock Holmes as a classic. It’s at the beginning of Suma Theologie for people who already believe what you believe so you can’t use the bible. in this case we must appeal to reason, in which all men must acquiesce. and I had this mark in my copy of the book, the chess mark, the exclamation point and the question mark. That’s really good. That’s really hopeful. I don’t think that it’s true, I don’t think that people do not but they should. 

Scott Hambrick: Ya, all these Austrian economists in their efficient market theory they assume everyone is a rational actor. 

Karl Schudt: How many rational actors that you’ve met?

Scott Hambrick: There are people that are rational situationally. When I”m outside of those limited situations I’m just an ape throwing poop, eating too much, doing things that hurt me. 

Karl Schudt: We’re not rational very much. I think it would be better if we were more Sherlock Holmesian. But not the full Sherlock Holmes. 

Scott Hambrick: The full Sherlock Holmes. Never go full Sherlock Holmes. But what about this though. I think you and I think that people, including ourselves, listen: I think that people aren’t rational because I observe me. So if people aren’t fully rational, is it still best to approach them in a Holmesian way? It might still be the best approach, to assume that they are because insofar as they are not rational, it’s pretty nutty. Can you make decisions about people trying to figure out where their nuttiness is going to go? That’s what sociality is right? What is the human nuttiness going to lead to. Should you try to predict the nuttiness? Or should you assume they are rational? 

Karl Schudt: If you are observing someone and predicting. the irrationality is a data point. 

Scott Hambrick: Like the guy who stepped infant of my car that I almost hit, it would have been rational for him to be scared and to have reacted in an angry way. 

Karl Schudt: Ya, so that’s a reasonable deduction. And something to guard against. I think in interaction with people, an appeal to reason, I don’t know what else you appeal to. 

Scott Hambrick: Pathos. 

Karl Schudt: Ya but pathos is like a rutter. You can steal somebody with it, but how do you know that you’re emotions are leading you to the right thing? You’ve got to think about it. Daughter comes in with the wrong kinds of boyfriend. 

Scott Hambrick: Do I go to my car and get my blackjack? 

Karl Schudt: you can give all of the reasons why, he’s got the meth addiction and it’s just not going to be good. But I love him. 

Scott Hambrick: You don’t know him like I do! 

Karl Schudt: Well you shouldn’t love him, that’s the point. But love doesn’t always wait for rationality. It doesn’t even often wait for rationality 

Scott Hambrick: My mother told me that love is not enough. 

Karl Schudt: Right and my big fat greek wedding the old greek lady says, love, what does love have to do with marriage? 

Scott Hambrick: Tina turner told me what’s love got to do wth it? 

Karl Schudt: Elvis Presley told me love 

Scott Hambrick: Basra told me love hurts. How far can we go? That’s as far as I can go. 

Karl Schudt: But , ya. How do you deal with that. It’s a genuine aspect of human experience. Well, ok, here’s a question. Which is more real. That might not be a good adjective to apply to real. Which is more real. The calculation. 

Scott Hambrick: Authentic? 

Karl Schudt: sure. Ya, that’s hiddegarian. The calculative reason or value and love? Seeing somebody and saying Marcel puts it about loving somebody. When you look at somebody and you love somebody what you’re saying though at least shall not die. You’re giving eternal, infinite value to a finite human. And it don’ts make any sense. This is where the stoics in my opinion get it wrong. They think that your kid can die and you can not care. 

Scott Hambrick: These stoics can kiss my ass. If you’re a modern stoic you don’t have to. But if you’re a dead guy that wrote these books. It’s not virtuous to not care if your kids die. “is so far as you can do that is the degree you are not human.” 

Karl Schudt: is Sherlock Holmes a stoic? 

Scott Hambrick: No he holds the virtues of Adler in the highest degree. 

Karl Schudt: A stoic would not keep her picture. 

Scott Hambrick: If Adler was not married to this other woman, I followed you home, you almost got me and if we tangle 3 more times you might get me 2 out of 3, I gotta be with you. It might have been the Sherlock Holmes and Adler detective agency and it would be a whole other series of stories. 

Karl Schudt: Have you read Dorthy Sayers mysteries

Scott Hambrick: I haven’t I need to. I love when she rights non fiction. 

Karl Schudt: Harriet Vane show sup in one of the stories. It’s Lord Peter Whimsy, which is great name, well the full name is Peter Death Braden Whimsy. it’s like 4 animus. 

Scott Hambrick: A little on the nose. I’m detective Dick Fanciful. Whatever. 

Karl Schudt: Sorry. I didn’t pick the name. But well he’s this bachelor who collects rare books and has his own Watson, bunter who was his Sargent in world war 1, about the fourth or fifth book he saves Harriet vane from- you don’t like the name?

Scott Hambrick: It’s fun. My name is Rosemary Shallow. 

Karl Schudt: I’m pretty sure Harriet vane is Dorthy Sayers. He says Harriet, I’ll just say that. From being executed form a murder charge, the series goes on and ends up being the both of them, you know? The character comes in and takes over. They are great fun, my daughter loves them. I reread them, I always forget who did it. 

Scott Hambrick: This is another wonderful person, Sayers, an interesting good person and they’re writing interesting, good stories. And stories that are about the good. The Sherlock Holmes books are about virtue. They may be unbalanced and maybe we don’t want everyone to be Sherlock Holmesian although I do. The characters in the book are good. 

Karl Schudt: Did you notice the detail she’s a contralto? So when she says good evening Mr. Sherlock Holmes, she can do it in a low voice. That’s a nice little detail. But lets talk about, one of the things that we talk about for great books is that they might inspire a genre. And so, I’ve talked a few of my favorites. I read mystery books on my own. They wouldn’t have been there without Arthur Conan Doyle. 

Scott Hambrick: People say Edgar Allen Poe’s story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, is the first detective story. I don’t care. this is it to an art. 

Karl Schudt: Everybody copies this. So Dorthy Sayers did it, she’s pretty explicit about it. It was Sherlock Holmes that inspired her. And you come up with a character and you solve mysteries. GK Chesterton has a series of mysteries which are the opposite of these. It’s not reason. You can figures out who did it in father brown’s story by knowing correct metaphysics. cause the bad guy always gets it wrong. 

Scott Hambrick: If you’re bad you’re the one that would do the wrong thing, which commits the crime. 

Karl Schudt: This little catholic priest detective figures it out by knowing his theology it’s inspired by Sherlock Holmes it’s just taking the framework. Brother caddy, I read a bunch of those it’s about the medical monk. It’s fun.

Scott Hambrick: Sam Spade, they’re Sherlock Holmes stories. They have the interview in the office, spade goes out into the city, and there’s the reveal at the end. there’s a MacGuffin. Right? It’s the photographs here, in this one, in the spade books, it’s the motif falcon. 

Karl Schudt: There’s not enough weightlifting in literature. There needs to be. 

Scott Hambrick: It’s so boring for everyone else. 

Karl Schudt: There needs to be like, what would be a detective who is a massive gym meathead kind of a guy. 

Scott Hambrick: Would have equated heavy I’m sure of it.

Karl Schudt: The opening scheme is him pulling a 600 lb deadline and then she walked in.

Scott Hambrick: You ever read any of these Jack Reacher books? 

Karl Schudt: Melissa is. 

Scott Hambrick: Reacher will take a job that is hard labor just to get in shape. He’ll like hand dig a swimming pool and just get all jacked and lean and then something will be afoot and he’ll have to go kill a bunch of people. It’s kinda like that. At the beginning of the story he’s moving 60,000 blocks of cinderblock and then the bad guy comes to town. 

Karl Schudt: If you guys like mysteries, you have sir Arthur Conan Doyle to thank. He took Aristotle and made it fun. Is that the 4 Cause? 

Scott Hambrick: The orange pipes? 

Karl Schudt: Sounds like a singing group. 

Scott Hambrick: Which story is it, I think it’s the blue carbuncle the guy shows up and he waits for Sherlock Holmes and he doesn’t show up and he leaves his hat behind. and Sherlock Holmes is looking at this hat and he’s figured out everything about this dude. He hands the hat to Watson, what can you tell us about the owner? Watson does a pretty good job, and you’re like that’s great. And Sherlock Holmes explicates even more about the owner. I think Aristotle could have done it, if he had a hand lens and some time he could have done it. 

Karl Schudt: Watson moves towards being able to be Sherlock Holmesian. I think something that’s attractive about Sherlock Holmes is you feel like you could do it. If only you could observe as much and if you knew 300 varieties of tobacco ash. Lord petter whimsy has the first addition. 

Scott Hambrick: I love Sherlock Holmes, there’s action in the stories, there’s some gunplay, there are burglaries, the good guys do burglaries. Crazy shit happens, there are physicians on the mores, there are fires, there are people almost crushed to death, people get their thumbs cut off, people make geese, swallow jewels, plaster,… all kinds of fun stories. you get to read about Edwardian London. Lots of detail, costume and affect and language it’s so much fun. 

Karl Schudt: I have a question. Should you and I go solve crimes? 

Scott Hambrick: I would like to solve these kinds of crimes. That’s another thing, these kinds of crimes are pretty innocuous you know they aren’t like rapes and serial murders, the crimes aren’t dark and ugly they are bank robberies and paper forgeries and- 

Karl Schudt: No domestic violence calls 

Scott Hambrick: It’s property white-collar crimes, it misunderstandings. The red-headed league. There’s an ad in the paper and this read headed guy reads it. If you’ve got fiery red hair, we’ve got a job for you. It’s just copying out of the encyclopedia Britannic by hand because a wealthy redheaded guy died and wanted to leave a good income to other read headed people. this is weird as hell. I can’t figure out why this guy would pay me like a really good wage to just write for like 4-5 hours a day to copy the encyclopedia Britannica, he goes to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is like this is curious so they have to go figure out what happened. It’s great! I like those kinds of things, ya. It’s not just crime. They are mysteries. 

Karl Schudt: Which one of us would be holes and which would be Watson? 

Scott Hambrick: Depends on what we’re talking about. if an owl lands on the lamppost, you’re Watson. That’s you. Cause I don’t think it’s material to the mystery at hand. 

Karl Schudt: Ya it’s a lot of fun, go read it. 

Scott Hambrick: Rachel price. the woman. no, I don’t know. 

Karl Schudt: she is one of the woman that’s for sure. 

Scott Hambrick: Rachael Price of Lake Street Drive. What are we going to do about their trumpet player? need to have him turned. 

Karl Schudt: He’s playing guitar for most of the gig and then he pick sup a cold horn and it plays flat. 

Scott Hambrick: Alright. 

Karl Schudt: That could be solved. 

Scott Hambrick: It’s a little sharp. Let’s bend it with our mouth, we’ve played a little trumpet. we can temper that trumpet a little bit. 

Karl Schudt: Or just bring a heater so it’s warmed up. 

Scott Hambrick: We need to invent a trumpet stand that just puffs 86 degree air through it. 

Karl Schudt: This could be the first case that Hambrick and Schudt solve. The case of the out of tune trumpet. 

Scott Hambrick: The problem of the flat brass. 

Karl Schudt: Ya. We could do it. 

Scott Hambrick: So that’s a little inside pool, one of my favorite bands today, it changes, you know? Thank God it changes. Is lake street drive, go listen to a little blue-eyed soul. 

Karl Schudt: I got to see them at riven, they were excellent. 

Scott Hambrick: That horn needs a tune sometimes. There’s Sherlock Holmes, you can’t go wrong. Doyle famously hated him, he raised his price all the time to continue to pump out these stories because he hoped that if I get paid this much I will write a story but if they quit asking that won’t bother me either. People continued to pay him it’s a legendary character. Doyle did such a good job with them. Go read them. I’ve read some other Doyle stuff, he’s one for you. Maybe we should read this just you and I. A “Knight around the Nihilists.” 

Karl Schudt: I don’t know that one. 

Scott Hambrick: Great stuff. Foundational! I think it’s going to make it. It’s a whole new genre. 

Karl Schudt: Sure it. Why don’t you all go find out. You tell us. 

Scott Hambrick: They’re short, read them in the bathroom. Remember when people used to read when they were in the bathroom. 

Karl Schudt: I do but then I go beady. 

Scott Hambrick: We need to make bathrooms great again. 

Karl Schudt: Now everybody looks at their phone. If somebody lends you their phone you better wash your hands. 

Scott Hambrick: Oh god! I hadn’t thought of that! You’re right. alright guys there’s another onlinegreatbooks podcast, it’s damn sure online. I hope it was great and it was about a book and it is a podcast so we’ve gotten most of it. Go to and check out what we’re doing there. We don’t necessarily read Sherlock Holmes but we read fiction, we read nonfiction, we read works of philosophy, we read works of theology, we read poetry, we read plays, and we talk about the things in those books. We talk bout it kind ain this way the conversation goes where ever it needs to go, it’s pretty interesting stuff. What were you going to say Karl? 

Karl Schudt: This podcast is kinda like letting off steam. When you’re a buried in Plato and Aristotle all the time 

Scott Hambrick: Roger that. 

Karl Schudt: You gotta read some fun stuff. 

Scott Hambrick: I’m reading the antI fun. I reading Hobbes Leviathan. I got a long way to go, I haven’t read this before. Hobbes makes his case for a commonwealth that he calls the Leviathan. He is living in civil war in England as he’s writing this. 

Karl Schudt: I believe they ad recently cut off the head of their king. 

Scott Hambrick: He clearly would be upset about that and he needs to write out what he thinks a commonwealth should be and he puts forth his metaphysics and epistemology. He says, Karl, that sense data applies pressure to the receiver creates a counter-pressure which in that counter pressure creates an image upon the mind of the receiver. That image, he calls, an imagination and then an aggregation of imaginations are memory and the imagination is perfect but the body being imperfect in a content state of decay, the memory, therefore, decays. 

Karl Schudt: He snuck something in there. 

Scott Hambrick: He snuck a lot of something. Which one are you bothered by? 

Karl Schudt: How do you make mind out of pressure? 

Scott Hambrick: That rebound thing, the pressure thing, that’s kinda what the eardrum does right? And you have this precision, these little sensors in your fingers that feel things and he’s onto something, maybe? But he’s got the mind there he does talk about the will. the will is appetitive for him and it wants things and it acts based on memory and experience to obtain these objects of appetite so anyways, he builds this whole wacko metaphysical system then he’s going to build an even wackier government system. 

Karl Schudt: Does the authoritarian totalitarian government that I take it that he is proposing is that the sort that you come up iwht when you start with is metaphysics? If his metaphysics are bad, everting after it has to be bad. Thomas Hobbes would have been a criminal. 

Scott Hambrick: Man for Hobbes life is famously short and brutish and full of woe. 

Karl Schudt: Solitary nasty brutish and short 

Scott Hambrick: Man unless he is socialized lives by tooth and claw. We’ll see where he goes with this It’s written in England. King Charles, what do you call that era. 

Karl Schudt: I don’t know, there’s a name for it. Restoration or something? Cause they kill him and get a new king. You know he translated Thucydides? I happen to have it. Not the first edition. 

Scott Hambrick: hat’s off. but you know, he’s got this classic approach where he starts with zero and he starts with some assumptions and then he builds his work on it. and it, I admire that and hats off and we’ll see where it goes. It seems awfully wacko I’m trying to be open-minded and generous with mister Hobbes. 

Karl Schudt: As you should be. 

Scott Hambrick: We all love the comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes. Can you believe that? 

Karl Schudt: You making fun of Harriet vane and peter whimsey?

Scott Hambrick: Right! And they name the kid after John Clavin the tiger is Thomas Hobbes 

Karl Schudt: Do you know his teachers’ name? Ms. Wormwood. 

Scott Hambrick: that’s CS lewis stuff right. Bad metaphysics leads to bad places, guys. But my metaphysics was good that day and I didn’t beat that guy with my blackjack. Thank ya’ll for listened we’ll talk to you guys in another week or so. 

Interested in joining the OGB community?  Join our VIP Waiting List and get priority registration access the next time a Seminar Group becomes available!


Don’t miss the limited-time window to get started with Online Great Books immediately!

sherlock holmes


Don’t miss the limited-time window to get started with Online Great Books immediately!

Your email address will not be published.