An Exercise In Deduction, what do these shoes tell you?

In the stories of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes is able to see what everyone else misses. He has a unique ability to observe and make inferences based on what he sees. It's one of the things that impresses us. But what happens when we try to test our abilities as amateur sleuths?

In the images below, I have provided a picture of a boot that belongs to me. What do you see? Let's apply some lessons that we learn from Holmes and see if we can improve our deductive skills.


"Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details." - A Case of Identity, Holmes

The first thing we should do is observe with intention and focus on details. We don't want to make any deductions just yet. Simply observe. But don't be general in your observations. Describe the boots in detail. Tip: Write down your observations on a piece of paper. This will force you to slow down as you look at every image.

Have you done it? What did you write down? Here are my notes so you can compare.

Top left image:

Shoe Deduction

Black sole. Tread around the end of the heal is worn down. I see particles of dirt or sand speckled around the sole. There are some kind of red coloring at different spots. There is a tiny hole by the cross like emblem. The shoe says, "ALDO" in all caps and surrounded by a rectangle. There is a little bit of a color change from the heel and the middle of the boot. It looks more grey. A bit of dirt or clay has been caked over the letter "O" on the word ALDO.

Middle Image:


The boot is in good shape on this part of the boot. The grooves are not worn down. There are five cross like emblems in the center of the boot. There is a concentration of some kind of hardened dirt, clay or poop. There are similar speckled sand particles on the boot as found in the first image. There is also some sort of sphere at the bottom left.

Right Image:


The back of the shoe has some paint smeared against it. The shoe looks like it has lost some of it's color. They appear blackish but the leather has been stripped away on the left side. I can see there is a zipper on the right side of the boot. There are other things to observe like the binding at the back of the shoe where the leather meets. There are stitches at the top, etc...The heel looks pretty well distressed.

Bottom Left Image:


The outside of the shoe really has a lot of discoloration. It has been worn down pretty well. I can see the black and has been rubbed off. The new coloration is almost a greenish one. The lace looks in good order. The heel looks okay from the outside but looks like where the heel meets the bottom of the boot it has been separated a little.


"I make a point of never having any prejudices, and of following docilely where fact may lead me." - Reigate Squares

Now that we have made some observations, let's let the facts lead us to some inferences. But first, let's take a moment to appreciate what we are doing. We are carving out time from our daily lives to improve our ability to deduce. Let's celebrate that. Do a dance or put a smile on. Way to go.

Okay, let's get back on track. Where do the facts take us? The shoes are pretty well worn and old. The discoloration tell us that. Aldo is a company established in 1972, so they have experience making shoes. We can presume they make a shoe that can last. The fact that they are leather additionally tells us that maybe these shoes were costly.

The tiny hole in the shoe tells us that I stepped on an object that punctured the rubber. This tells us that I must be a man of some weight. Since there is only one of these holes in the sole, it was a singular event. Either the item that caused it was really sharp and protruding or I had cause to step really hard.

The back of the heel is worn down but the front of the shoe isn't. This tells us that I mainly step with my heel leading into my steps, that is, I'm not flat footed. It also tells us that I must have worn the shoe for some time to wear down the back of the heel.

At some stage I allowed white paint to get on them. Considering I kept the shoe long enough to let them get discolored indicates how much I liked the shoe. The paint then was an accident or an indication that I no longer cared about the boot and would allow paint to get on them.

The dirt and caked clay tell us that I had last been walking, not in the city upon pavement, but upon country or rustic terrain. The caked on substance also suggests it was possibly wet when I wore them last, otherwise why would the clay cake onto the boot.