Locard’s exchange forensic principle: Every contact leaves a trace

May 3, 2016

Edmond Locard

The great forensic scientist Edmond Locard is known as the French Sherlock Holmes. Locard’s exchange principle is that every contact leaves a trace

A gun fired leaves residues that are revealed in the hair, on skin, and most markedly on the thumb and forefinger of the shooter. Unfortunately for the criminal investigator, and fortunately for the perp, the residues can be transferred.  Not just to another person using the gun, but by the act of shaking hands, or other physical contact.

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The curious start to a rugby match: A tale of two anthems

March 2, 2015

The Ireland team celebrate winning the RBS 6 Nations Championship in the dressing room 15/3/2014

On March 1st, 2015, something strange happened at the start of a Six Nations International rugby match between Ireland and England. It was something I have never experienced before, although I must have watched several hundred such occasions since my schooldays

My story has some of the elements of a Sherlock Holmes puzzle, and I’ve described it in that spirit. Imagine, if you will, the following, as recounted in a message sent to the great detective.

Dear Mr Holmes,

I approach on behalf of a personage who holds high office in the land who has requested my help. Forgive me for disturbing you on a matter which is baffling to me. I can only hope that through the brilliance of your intellect that progress might be possible. Your success in the case of the missing Cambridge three-quarter encourages me that you will be prepared to help in this instance too.

I refer to an event that took place before the start of last Sunday’s rugby match. You will recall it was played in Dublin between the two undefeated teams in the annual Six Nations tournament. My state of agitation comes from an incident that occurred as I was watching the build-up to the match from the comfort of my sitting room, courtesy of the BBC’s televisual reporting

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Sherlock Holmes series on BBC TV illustrates charismatic infatuation

January 26, 2014

The recent Sherlock Holmes series on BBC Television was launched in a sustained and skillful blaze of publicity. Its impact suggests an explanation of charismatic influence

The advertising hype created a teaser over the apparent death of Sherlock at the end of the first series two years earlier. The character in the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories survived a fall. The viewers were now invited to explain the survival of the Sherlock as played by Benedict Cumberbatch

The Holmes Watson relationship

Two themes dominated the first of the three episodes. The first was How did Sherlock survive the fall from a high building? The second was the intense homoerotic nature of the Holmes Watson relationship.

The Marmite factor

The reaction of viewers to all episodes was intense. The reviews released a quite astonishing emotional outpouring of replies. Fans demonstrated the so called Marmite effect [you love it or loath it, with little cool or rational reactions displayed] Nearly a thousand comments appeared hours after the Guardian review.

For the first two episodes reviewers tended to be rather lukewarm towards the production, acknowledging outstanding elements of acting and plot but rather unsatisfactory coherence and more than a whiff of smug self-indulgence. The third was widely regarded as by far the most dramatic and compelling to watch.

The infatuation effect

As evidenced by the thousand comments [of the first two and more unsatisfactory episodes for the critics], a sizable proportion of fans were infatuated by the mega-star of the series, Holmes played by Benedict Cumberbatch. For this group, the overwhelming emotion was unconditional expressions of love, coupled with anger at those who expressed any signs of disappointment in the production.

Is this a clue to the nature of charismatic leadership?

Possibly. At least there is a suggestion of a line of research into followership and charisma. The vulnerability induced in followers by the charismatic leader could be studied through investigation of the concept of celebrity infatuation.