Mystery makes magnificent

In the adventure of the Red Headed League, Sherlock Holmes meets Jabez Wilson for the first time, and the following conversation ensues:

Holmes: Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some done manual labour, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else.

Wilson: How in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes? How did you know, for example, that I did manual labour?

Holmes: Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more developed.

Wilson: But the writing?

Holmes: What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it upon the desk?

Wilson: Well, but China?

Holmes: The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right wrist could only have been done in China.

Wilson (laughing): Well, I never! I thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see that there was nothing in it, after all.”

Holmes: I begin to think, Watson, that I make a mistake in explaining. ‘Omne ignotum pro magnifico,’ you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid.

“Omne ignotum pro magnifico”. This Latin phrase translates roughly to “everything mysterious makes things magnificent”. Mysterious people inspire awe. They speak rarely, and when they do, they are often cryptic. Entire professions are based on keeping people in ignorance- magicians, fortune tellers and the like.

Conversely, once the mystery is revealed, it holds no charm. The spell is broken. A card trick explained is one that is discarded. Several people have shifted our understanding of the world by breaking its mystery and we are likely to discredit each one of them.

Nicholas Copernicus, against the wisdom of his time, proposed that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Sigmund Freud spoke about the duality of the conscious and the sub-conscious mind.

Sushrutha envisioned and performed plastic surgery is 600 BC.

Aristortle classified all living beings into plants and animals back in the fourth century BC.

“Plants and animals?” You might ask. “That is certainly no big achievement”.

Spoken just like Jabez Wilson.

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