Chief Admin


Blogs: 171
Pages: 4
Memos: 113
Invitations: 1
Location: Kyoto and Auckland
Work interests: research, editing, science communication
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: email = researchcooperative-at-gmail-dot-com
Favourite publications: Various, and especially the open access versions of older journals with effective review systems

Founding Member

Work: ethnobotany, prehistory, museum curation
Affiliations: 1996-present: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. 1995: Freelance editor, Kyoto. 1994: JSPS Research Visitor, Kyoto University, Kyoto. 1993: Research Visitor, Australian National University, Canberra. 1991: Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.1990: STA Fellow, National Institute for Ornamental Plants, Vegetables, and Tea (NIVOT), Ano, Japan
Contact: National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan 565-8511
Biographical: Established the Research Cooperative in 2001
Favourite Publications: Various

Category: Film

The Irene Adler Affect

By Research Cooperative, 2012-07-23

After watching another Sherlock Holmes episode with my 15 year old son, I am experiencing the Irene Adler Affect once again: That tantalising, tender feeling of almost...


A dictionary definition of the term 'affect' as a psychological term is suitable here: 'a feeling, emotion, or desire, esp. leading to action'.

What is it that leads us to action as scientists? Not always, or perhaps even rarely, some kind of logical chain of argument. We are ultimately motivated by personal feelings, unless we happen to be robotic automatons.

Of course, we all have different feelings, and reasons. But the Irene Adler Affect for Sherlock Holmes is the attraction of a mystery and trail of clues that lead to a resolution that is never complete, that inevitably leads to further mystery, and a new trail.

She is forever unreachable, setting up a trail of clues and answers that are forever tantalising to him, no matter how close he comes to her.

As scientists, we cannot live in a fictional world and recast ourselves in different centuries in order to pursue our scientific curiosity. We have to accept that the unattainable Irene Adler will outlive us.

All we can do is add questions and answers to a tangled trail of clues, and hope that others will pick up something we left for them in a year, or ten years, or in a hundred years.

When I write a research paper, no matter how obscure the topic and the publication, I like to think that someone might find something new to follow even if they pick up the trail one hundred years later.

Perhaps to be immortal, as scientists, we have to be both Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler at the same time. In the movie fiction, the two characters do almost seem to be different faces of one person.

Unfortunately, we have to be our own scriptwriters as well. No matter how exciting the work seems to us, unless we are also great writers, the work may not seem so very exciting to others.

Not to worry. Even a deadpan and dry manuscript that has no obvious importance or historical significance can emerge as the veiled clue that tantalises and tempts others, later.

It is better to to do great research without fanfare than poor research with great fanfare.

With time, great research will eventually be recognised, if we all make an effort to see the greatness in others.

Irene A. has given us a clue, and is waiting.

Posted in: Film | 1 comments