Some science behind the scenes
We rely less on smell to build up an image of the world, but much the same observations can be made about our sense of smell as they can about our sight – it is limited to only that which we need to know in order to operate as we were designed.
Rather than go into detail around the measures of smell, I will provide one example, a comparison of humans and dogs. While the human brain is dominated by a large visual cortex, the dog brain is dominated by an olfactory cortex. The olfactory bulb in dogs is roughly forty times bigger than the olfactory bulb in humans, relative to total brain size, with 125 to 220 million smell-sensitive receptors. The bloodhound exceeds this standard with nearly 300 million receptors. Dogs can discriminate odours at concentrations nearly 100 million times lower than humans can. The wet nose is essential for determining the direction of the air current containing the smell.
What can we conclude about our sense of smell?
- First, we are able to smell only a fraction of the smells which do exist. This is amply demonstrated by the example of the dog which can smell far more smells than we can. It can also be demonstrated that the ability to differentiate smells also differs substantially between people – perfumers and wine tasters for example.
- Secondly, the information gathered by the nose is processed, much as it was with sight, so that it is recognisable and can be acted on so that we know the smell of a flower, or of smoke [which may signal danger], or the smell of a good steak barbecued on a charcoal grill.
- Thirdly, we do not ‘smell what other creatures ‘smell, our ‘reality’ from smelling is not their ‘reality’.
Overall, we do not smell Reality.
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