Tag Archive - Deduce versus Induce

Deduce or Induce? It’s Elementary, Watson …

Whether or not Sherlock Holmes ever said “Elementary, Watson” is debatable. What’s not in question is Holmes’s keen powers of observation that made him a master of deductive reasoning. He was able to deduce, or draw, specific conclusions from general principles. “I deduce that it was the butler with the lamp stand.” (oh, waitthat’s Clue).

The word deduce has a different meaning than induce. Whereas deduce relies on specific conclusions, induce means to derive a general principle from specific observations. Inducing implies more of a supposition.

For example: I might deduce that since all mammals have fur, that creature running across my floor at night is a mammal. That might make me induce that all mammals are very furry. That latter supposition is general rather than specific. Continue Reading…