Olfactory Perception The Sense of Smell
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Olfactory Perception The Sense of Smell
(PD) The Lady and the Unicorn - Smell
The cactus flower radiates slowly,
the radiance higher than browns,
lower than yellows,
heavier than reds,
there exists a balancing of weights,
that describe the vibrance,
that is violet.
Copyright©2009-2013 - Updated October 18, 2013
The strongest indicator of real-world intelligence is an individual's ability to consciously discern sensorial perceptions. It is not the perception that marks a quality of mind, but rather it is the manner of which the mind is used. The measuring of olfactory perception is one of the few methods of accurately illustrating intellectual ability.
Abstract: The topic of olfactory perception has importance in all fields of study including biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, philosophy, logic, and the experience of life itself. The following article lightly touches on minor histories that include Darwinian interpretations of olfaction, with the Darwinian history being a foundation of modern biological and chemical interpretations. It is hoped that the article may lend a sufficient enough quantity of information and references so that an individual interested in the sense of smell might recognize that the topic is much more complex and important than what is popularly believed.
The following seven links (plus an update) jump to the different sections within this article.
History of Olfactory Perception
Long before Lao Zi and Gautama Buddha first spoke words of enlightenment, there existed individuals who attained manners of heightened awareness, and though the types of awareness are not listed in words alongside those of organized philosophies and ideologies, still the masters of each manner of awareness recognized the other masters, for the art of awareness exhibits itself not in words, but in what words are not spoken. In some forms of popular Zen it is taught to shun the senses, and the teachings are surely of benefit to many individuals, but Zen is not the ultimate teaching, and he who achieves mastery must achieve that which is greater than the teaching. The shunning of the senses may help some individuals to discover their own consciousness, but even so, if a man finds satisfaction and contentment with his first level of awareness, he will not achieve the second nor the greater states of awareness.
It is an incorrect belief to assume that all men must begin life with a similar state of unawareness, and that all men must therefore follow the same path to awareness. The common teachings of Judaism, Tao, Buddhism, and Western philosophy are for the common students, but the uncommon teachings, not spoken with words, are for the uncommon students, and among the silent teachings are those that emphasize conscious awareness of sensorial perceptions.
Within the many philosophies of man there exist three primary manners of interpretations: (1) that of the written word for men of words to memorize, (2) that of the guided teachings for men of ability to follow and to be led, (3) and that of the unwritten and unguided for the adept to acknowledge. The story of blind Isaac not being able to discern one son from another by the sense of touch and smell is typical of what is deemed to be normal for humans. An accomplished Zen master, though blind, can walk freely among a crowd because he is sensorially aware of his other senses. Accomplished masters of other manners of awareness are noted for their abilities to know the hearts of other men, to sense a man's personality from a distance, and of the many perceptions that the masters might perceive, it is the normal man who invents the beliefs of miracles and supernatural powers, while the masters simply regard the talents as aware observations.
The personal investigation and practice into the sense of smell is not new, and the main focus for the moment is to clarify that many individuals through the millennia have purposefully invested quantities of effort to achieve heightened states of sensorial perception, and it is within the several different levels of personal experience that there will exist several different levels of thought on the topic of olfactory perception.
Aristotle's Metaphysics, translated by W.D. Ross, states "All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things." It is well acknowledged that man, from before the time of recorded history, has given his greater attention to the sense of sight, with little attention given to the sense of smell. If Aristotle had acquired a skill in olfaction, or of any other sensorial perception, he might have written that aromas can and do provide for greater details of objects than what sight can provide.
Darwin's View of Olfactory Perception
It is useful to critique a small portion of Darwin's writings so as to illustrate that many theories of modern biology were founded upon easily refuted conjectures. It was through the omitting of the importance of intellectual talents that the original theories of evolution were born, and still today the theories continue to exclude the mind as having the primary role.
Darwin incorrectly assumed, without evidence, that animals think and perceive scents the same as do humans. If the sense of smell has dramatic cognitive differences among humans, then it is to be expected that non-humans may possess an even wider variance that humans have no knowledge of nor experience with.
Again Darwin interpreted the quality and quantity of olfaction relative to his own personal abilities, rendering his conclusions as conjectures and inventions. Just because a man cannot smell a scent, one man's lack of ability does not necessitate that all creatures must share a similar inability.
The above quote is highly enlightening, for it lends evidence that if Darwin and his peers thought that it was important to make note that non-Darwin-like races could recognize individuals by scent, then it implied that the Darwin-like races generally do not possess such a capacity. If the Darwin-like races did not possess the sensorial capacity to discern one individual's aroma from another, then the Darwin-like races were not qualified to speak on the topic of olfactory perception. Modern research states that within two weeks a baby is able to recognize the scent of its mother's milk from the scent of another woman's milk. If a baby can discern the differences of scents, then the ability to recognize personal scents is not uncommon, but perhaps the ability is often lost due to individuals not rationalizing scents as the person ages. This is also a good reminder that babies can smell and remember scents, which opposes a popular belief that infants cannot create nor possess long-term memories.
For many individuals it is a simple thing to recognize the different scents of different individuals, and to then recognize the different individuals by their scents. To discern individuals by scent there first must exist the capacity for olfactory perception, then the mental acuity to consciously be aware of the sensorial perception, to mentally associate the aroma to the individual, to then place the perception into memory, and to then later retrieve the memory and logically associate the memory to a current perception. Each individual's scent contains information of the individual's health, age, gender, racial genetics, foods eaten, and most everything else about the person. The races that could detect individuals by scent exhibited higher levels of active real-world intelligence than what Darwin sketched for his own genetics.
Sensorially acute individuals can discern a person's gender from a distance of several feet away, and not only by smell, but also by the felt radiance of body heat and the information within the radiance. The writings of Darwin's are useful in their being evidence of how theories are sometimes born without the theorists themselves having an experience within the topic.
Darwin simply invented his conclusions. Do all individuals recognize all dangers with the eyes? And if not, then must there be a similar conclusion as Darwin's, that a man's eyes are of no value? A child is considered to have a psychological defect if the child does not recognize the danger of a man who is wearing a monstrous mask, but similarly, most adults do not easily recognize danger until the danger is threatening immediate bodily harm. The average person does not recognize danger in the facial expressions of cult leaders', nor of politicians'. The typical person also does not recognize the purposeful deceit in a person's tone of voice. If the average person were able to perceive all dangers with the eyes and ears, then there would be few cult leaders, and governments would be populated with honest politicians.
Not all men are created identical, and just because some men might not use the senses that they are born with, it does not imply that all men must be identically limited of mind and body. No race, including Darwin's, is so uniform and flawless that all of its individuals abstain from living within the most filthy of environments. Modern man has all but destroyed the planet with pollution, microwave radiation continues to escalate unabated, grocery store food is more often than not of low quality that stinks to the healthy person, and it has been those of a Darwin-like genetics who have been the greater cause. One man's interpretation does not make for fact, and Darwin's interpretations are easily verified to have been with error.
It is useful to comment here that the sense of smell is dependent on variables that include the person's own aromas. Individuals who eat meat reek of rotting flesh; the stench emanates from their bowels and pores, a stink that wild animals quickly recognize — especially herbivores — but meat eaters almost never recognize their own aroma unless the individuals abstain from meat for a month or more. There is also a distinct stench that is associated with schools, business offices, and other public buildings; a nauseating aroma that can only be described as human feedlots. Convalescent homes carry the scents of dying flesh, minimum security prisons often have a thick aroma of mental retardation, and all human dwellings possess their own specific aromas that very clearly define the inhabitants. In part, it is the mind's ability to tune-out repetitive sensory perceptions, to become as deaf and blind to the perception of scents, sounds, and sensations of touch that are common within the individual's environment. It is the human mind's ability to tune-out perceptions that enables humans to live in filthy environments without the humans recognizing the filth. The two main items of importance here are that (1) Darwin's theories were not based on a knowledge of the topic, and (2) it is the mind that regulates the greater portion of a person's olfactory perception.
Again Darwin simply invented a conclusion without first possessing reasonable evidence, but it does appear plausible that mankind is devolving of mind and body. Current research appears to show that it is not so much the body that is degenerating, but rather it is the mind. The normal human still retains the ability to sensorially perceive a large quantity of perceptions, but it is the mind that has chosen to ignore and to not consciously analyze the perceptions. A man cannot be both a pious monk and a businessman, nor can a person be both a real-life cowboy and an astronaut. Similarly, a man cannot be both spiritual and scientific simultaneously, and in whatsoever goal we choose, our choice requires that we choose against other possible goals. It remains an absurdity that western philosophy and science continue to believe that there is no difference of thought patterns between the many different chosen lifestyles. Most modern theories of olfaction continue within a similar error.
It appears convenient to excuse-away one's inferiority through the claiming that the individual has no choice but to be restricted to his genetics, but such is not the case with individuals who, of similar racial genetics as Darwin's, have exhibited and validated that their eyesight is of a superiority beyond what Darwin deemed possible. Darwin simply did not possess useful information about sensorial perceptions, and thus his conclusions were flawed. As stated previously, the current state of man appears to show a lessening of sensorial acuity due to the lessening of the mind, not the body. Nevertheless, there is some truth to Darwin's idea of lessened use being a cause of lessened ability: the lessened use of the mind will, of course, lead to the lessened ability of the mind, and it is within the western style of thought that the lessening is most noticeable.
The materialistic interpretation attempts to reduce all things down to a level of physical matter as being the sole measure of all abilities. As the following references will help to illustrate, science has only recently begun recognizing that all sensorial perceptions are influenced by all things else including diet and the individual's own personal emotions and mind-set. It is not a racial trait that enables a man to sensorially perceive a thing with acuity, but rather it is a combination of many things, including intellectual will.
The book's ideas are structured upon a materialistic interpretation, and the interpretation is without a knowledge that individuals with superior sensorial perceptions are often of the smaller nasal cavities. Darwin's theories were based upon a simplistic mathematics, where theories were formed upon the believing that greater size might somehow infer greater quality.
A comment, sarcastic as it might be, that I made in my notes while reading Darwin's Descent: "An interesting observation those are, that the "imbecile" is associated with the smelling of food prior to eating, and yet previously Darwin alluded to the so-called inferior mind being one that did not smell food before eating. Hopefully the two variances simply did not know to, or think, to include the additional observances of mannerisms associated to eating, such as style, speed, and mechanical movements that separate the imbecile from the uncaring individual who does not smell his food before eating, which includes negroes and "civilised" man in the same category. Surely, it is hoped, that all men smell their food prior to eating, and though the "civilised" races appear to have lost the ability for conscious sensory perception, that their brains are still at least subconsciously aware of aromas and what the aromas represent."
Another comment in my notes: "How pleasing it is to see this! With great sadness do I reflect upon the youth of this current generation, who in the 21st century do not know that there is friendship and playfulness in animals, and even insects. Our young are raised to be ignorant of Nature, to see nothing, to smell nothing, to feel nothing, to taste nothing, to hear nothing. Our young are taught from birth to learn mathematics and words, without our young being given the opportunity to understand what the words and symbols might mean. Our young have no true concept of what Nature is, and if it were not for the blue sky and an occasional cloud, our young may not even be capable of knowing we exist as creatures in a non-human-made environment. It is no surprise that humanity has polluted and all but destroyed the planet, for after all, a person cannot protect what he does not know to exist."
There is indeed a scent of moisture in hollows. I myself have lived within an arid region of Texas, and I am fully familiar with the scents of distant moisture in hollows. Perhaps a thirsty dog might hope to find water where there exists a scent and tactile perception of moisture, but a human should possess sufficient intelligence to discern the differences of scents to rationalize where there might exist water in the soil, on top of the soil, or as vapor.
The above quotes from Darwin's Descent were given so as to illustrate that the foundation of modern scientific thought on sensorial perception was — in part — structured by individuals who were inexperienced and not qualified to speak of the topic.
Normal Olfactory Perception
An unexpected but welcomed bit of information arrived from the very unlikely source of Richard Dawkins' Darwinist book The God Delusion. From page 417: "I've speculated that bats may 'see' colour with their ears. …The point is that the nature of the model is governed by how it is to be used rather than by the sensory modality involved."
The quote by The God Delusion is actually quite useful. The description is useful for the general public to perhaps catch a glimpse of how some life-forms — including humans — may interpret their sense of hearing; that of intensities of frequencies, denseness and speeds, emotionally sensed perhaps not too dissimilar as to what humans emotionally sense when mentally interpreting colors, but self-created like a metaphorical concept of the variations of intensities that are light waves. The sense of smell can be similar, in that it is not always the sensing itself, but rather how the sense is used and interpreted. Most humans appear to be passive in their sensorial perceptions, only becoming conscious of perceptions that overpower the mind and force the consciousness to become aware of the perception, but some individuals purposefully and consciously 'listen' for details within all senses, and thus are aware of much more than what the typical human may believe to exist.
Page 418: "A dog that had never met capric acid would perhaps have no more trouble imagining its smell than we would have trouble imagining a trumpet playing one note higher than we have head a trumpet play before. It seems to me entirely reasonable to guess that a dog, or a rhinoceros, might treat mixtures of smells as harmonious chords. Perhaps there are discords. Probably not melodies, for melodies are built up of notes that start or stop abruptly with accurate timing, unlike smells."
Again very good, and I was personally very pleased and with gratitude to have found the words in print because the words describe to me an attribute of normalcy, that of a normal human not self-creating a conscious sensation of higher and lower wave-frequencies of aromas, nor of a normal human recognizing the 'chords' within complex aromas. To better clarify, however, for some individuals a complexity of simultaneous aromas is not a 'chord,' as in several different frequencies resonating in harmony, but rather there is a different recognition of the pattern, one that I will not elaborate on here beyond stating that the cognition of the scents is similar to what was mentioned in this article's introduction:
Countless times I have asked various individuals for information of whether they can self-create sensorial sensations that describe higher and lower 'notes' of perceptions, but except for my wife, never did anyone reply. I suspected that the inability for most humans to become conscious of varying degrees of sensorial focus was the reason why western philosophy could never discover the origin of ethics, and now with The God Delusion presenting the thought that humans normally cannot sense and mentally discern variances of olfactory waves, I am of a strengthened opinion that my suspicion was likely valid.
Nevertheless, it is observable that humans do in fact perform mental weighings of sensorial perceptions, but usually only subconsciously and at a very low ebb. Humans would not be capable of walking and driving automobiles if not for the ability to mentally weigh sensorial perceptions, and it has been an interesting project to calculate percentiles of trends of intellectual capacity by observing how humans drive. A recent entertaining observation was of a line of traffic along about a ten mile stretch of highway where the center and left lanes had been closed for repair. I counted the times that about thirty vehicles in front of me hit their brakes, which was between fifty to one-hundred times for each of the vehicles, while I only had to touch my brakes once. Surely it would be possible for most of the other drivers to have driven more rationally if they were instructed to do so, but the event illustrated the human tendency to behave relative to an emotion of selfish impatience rather than to act upon conscious reasoning. If the typical human will not apply effort to drive at a uniform speed, or to save on gasoline, or to save on brake replacements, or to maintain safe distances between vehicles, then of course the typical human will not apply effort to being conscious of any sensorial perception, and the word 'typical' must therefore also be connected with the individuals — such as Darwin — whose vocations may have been in the sciences of biology, for if the individuals were not as common as the most common of humans, then the individuals would have long ago known the natures of ethics and olfaction.
Of the several importances within this topic, one is that the purposeful conscious investigation into a sensorial perception — especially one like the olfactory — is a portion of the self-training that an individual may accomplish while mastering a religion or philosophy, and it should always be an accomplishment of all individuals whose aim is to learn of Nature, science, and biology. Without an individual having mastered their own sensory perceptions — and thus be capable of readily describing in detail how the various types of perceptions are altered by emotions and self-controlled focus — the individual cannot reason usefully about science and biology.
A simple example that helps to illustrate one of the byproducts of self-observation is one's ability to sensorially recognize another person's health and personality from a distance. The Bible story of Nathanael in John 1:47-50 is useful as an example: "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these."
In the Bible story, as remains common today, many people often leap to believe that a person's ability to sense a thing that the common person cannot perceive must imply some form of magical, paranormal, or supernatural power. There is nothing miraculous about smelling a person's health at a distance, nor is there anything miraculous about many of the other Bible stories, including that of healing some forms of blindness by touch.
At the heart of some religions and non-western philosophies are practices that could give a tremendous quantity of light into numerous topics that modern science would profit from, especially psychology and biology. By The God Delusion aiming to destroy all religions and most everything connected to religions, the book unknowingly aimed to destroy the only known method of advancing western science beyond its current limitations, and rather ironically, the book also attempted to obliterate the evidence that some religious 'miracles' are actually quite normal things that most any healthy human can do if the individual first masters the self-observation. The reason for presenting the previous three paragraphs will become obvious during the last sections of this article.
The God Delusion, written by one of the world's best known biologists, lends evidence that the normal human olfactory potential is not rationalized abstractly. I had always recognized that there exists variances of different individuals' ability to intellectually manipulate numerous simultaneous thoughts and memories, with some of the individuals being capable of analyzing multiple thoughts simultaneously while other individuals are only able to analyze one thought at a time, but until recently I had no publicly acceptable reference to support what 'normal' might imply.
Modern Theories of Olfactory Perception
Nature-based logic concludes that nothing in Nature exists alone, separate from all others. Nothing in the universe arrived into existence by itself, and neither will anything ever exist in solitude. Olfactory perception, the sense of smell, must exist as a tactile perception whose nature is colored by the influences of a multitude of simultaneously occurring events.
Emotions influence and color all perceptions, as do the perceptions influence and color all emotions. All acts of life and Nature influence all other acts, and never can it be said that the act of olfactory perception occurs under a single cause. The degree of conscious attentiveness that an individual applies to a sensorial perception will in turn heighten or lessen the degree of memory retention of the perception, as will the quality of the memory in turn influence the quality and quantity of logic when the perception is compared and weighed to a future perception.
In the past it was believed that a human cell was little more than protoplasm, a mixture of molecules that reacted to the specific design of the cell. Only in recent years has biology discovered that the cell is intensely complex, of a complexity that has been compared to that of a major city. Similarly, biology and psychology remain within the belief that the human body is little more than a protoplasm of a few organs that react to their own specific design. Eventually it will be learned that the body is far more complex than a cell, and as the new discoveries of the cell rendered past theories to have appeared primitive, so will the discovery of the complexity of the body render current theories as primitive.
The universe is wave-based, there does not exist solid matter, nor solid molecules, and therefore all manners of perception are based upon a sensing of waves. (See also William James Sidis - When A prodigy is Not a Prodigy for additional information about wave-based physics.) The sense of sound is the tactile perception of waves of air, as is sight the tactile perception of light waves, and in all things in Reality all are perceived through a manner of tactile perception. Though humans may have segregated sensorial perceptions into five or more senses, and then applied nouns to each, that of sight, sound, taste, smell, and feel, still each of the sensorial perceptions exist as a means of a living creature to perceive its world, and perhaps a more holistic interpretation of the senses is that each one perceives the same things, waves, but each of the five senses are tuned to perceive specific ranges of wave frequencies.
The purpose of this article is to illustrate the common beliefs of olfactory perception, and to then lend additional information that illustrates how the sense of smell does not exist in solitude by itself, as if a materialistic mechanical act, but rather there exist many entertaining observations that suggest that the human creature does in fact exist within the universe of waves, and that the human may have far greater potential for perceiving his world than what he has been led to believe.
Within mainstream theories some researchers have acknowledged that olfaction cannot be a mere mechanical effect: "...perception cannot be understood solely by examining properties of individual neurons, a microscopic approach that currently dominates neuroscience research." (Walter J. Freeman, The Physiology of Perception, February 1991 Scientific American, Vol 264, (2) Pgs. 78-85). It is also repeatedly admitted by established researchers that to date there still does not exist a full and acceptable theory of olfaction: "...which is the structure that organizes olfactory perceptions according to a certain (so far unknown) system." (Amir Madany Mamlouk, Olfactory Perception).
Within non-western philosophies it has been known for thousands of years that the sense of smell influences an individual's emotions and intellect, as do the emotions and intellect influence the sense and interpretation of smell, and now western science is beginning to accept the knowledge as well: "The underlying theme of my research is to understand how biological mechanisms and cognitive processes interact and influence perception, cognition and behavior." (Rachel Herz, PhD, Brown University)
The SesquIQ Sensory Quotient (SQ) tests illustrate that intelligence can be observed through one's capacity for sensorial perception, and one's acuity of SQ is directly proportional to one's conscious intelligence. Mainstream science is beginning to recognize some of the same features: "There is a prevalent assumption guiding contemporary research in olfactory neuroscience: the perception of a smell is a direct outcome of its chemical and molecular properties. However, increasing behavioral evidence suggests that cognitive factors, such as learning, experience, and sensory context, play an equally important role in how humans perceive the quality or character of a smell." (Jay A. Gottfried, MD, PhD, Influences of Olfactory Experience and Learning on Odor Perception and Odor Processing in the Human Brain)
The most common belief is that the sensation of odor arrives into existence through a chain of biochemical and electrical signals. It is an unfortunate reality that the analogies of computer programming have too frequently become accepted as being the actual process itself. The analogies have become so deeply intermingled with thought that it is now not uncommon to find theories of physics being based upon the belief of computer-like binary information exchange. The universe is not binary, the universe is not composed of solids, and neither can olfaction be based upon binary singles and solids.
It is also commonly believed that olfactory perception is triggered during inhalation. If the concept were complete, then it would appear reasonable to assume that the act of smelling is a perception of airborne molecules, but as presented later in this article, some forms of olfactory perception are not limited to inhalation, and therefore the theory of airborne molecules cannot be the full answer. Too, without there being an in-depth comparison of a person's sensitivity when subjected to different humidity and temperature — as would occur when breathing out — it is not acceptable to automatically assume that inhaling and exhaling are singularities that are not accompanied with and influenced by other factors.
I myself have countless questions of current beliefs that appear to not yet have answers. If the nasal cavities commonly have a moist coating, then how is it that the molecules reach the 'lock and key' receptors? Do the molecules burrow through the moisture and mucus? And if so, then why do the receptors not become clogged once the receptors are filled with odorants' molecules? And if the odorant's molecules remain within the receptors, then why does the perceived scent so quickly dissipate during exhalation? If the olfactory receptors are able to perceive molecules at a distance, which would enable the sense of smell without the molecules having to actually come into contact with the receptors, then what is the maximum distance that a receptor can perceive a molecule? If molecules fit into a receptor with 'lock and key' accuracy, then does that not also require that the molecules enter the receptors at a specific angle? Would it not be highly improbable for a random molecule to be of a specific angle to mate with the receptor? Is it the moisture within the exhalation that washes molecules from receptors? And if so, then how might it be possible to smell with a moist nasal cavity or in a high humidity region? Of the numerous other questions on my mind, it appears that few or none have been given full consideration in current theories. It has been the lack of questions that has enabled popular theories of olfaction to have continued unchallenged, and for biology itself to continue in direct opposition to the laws of physics.
It is estimated that the human brain has about 15 to 50 billion neurons plus approximately 150 to 500 trillion synaptic connections. Individuals familiar with basic electrical theory are able to quickly verify that there are not enough neurons and synaptic connections in the human brain to permit one day of memories, let alone one-hundred years of memories. If your computer had a 1,000 gigabyte hard drive, how many high definition two dimensional videos could it store? A few days' worth? Perhaps a week? A good quality one hour long video can easily require over 4gb, which simply means that the hard drive can only store around 250 good quality videos: about ten and a half days of video. Do you believe that 150 of the hard drives can store a hundred years' of continuous three dimensional videos that include detailed information of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, emotions, health, and so much more? If neurons functioned as computer-like binary states of electrical charge, without there being the potential for analog variances, then the belief of the physical human brain being the center of human consciousness cannot be true, and the present theories of olfaction cannot progress because of the theories remaining tied to the incorrect belief that an electrical signal is in itself a sensorial sensation. If it were true that an electrical signal were capable of being a sensation of olfaction, then by the same standard we must also state that all electrical signals possess within themselves a form of sensorial cognition, which then demands that we also conclude that the entirety of the universe is conscious with sensorial perceptions. It is strongly hypocritical for a theory to claim that an electrical impulse can create a sensorial perception, but with the same breath declare that there can be no form of intelligence outside of an earthly animal. The current theories held within biology are unacceptable due to their lack of experience, lack of firsthand observation, and the numerous contradictions of logic.
I have read of recent findings - dating back to 2007 - that axons may vary their signals by amplitude, which is a much more reasonable theory since the concept is in agreement with the basic Nature-made physics of analog information, and not in agreement with the man-made binary concept. It was in 2003 that I challenged binary theories in my book Reality. If a concept is valid in physics, then the same concept must remain to be valid in all other fields, and with the topic before us at the moment, if analog is the only manner of transferring information in physics, then so must analog be the method in biology. Olfactory perception simply cannot be the product of binary impulses as is popularly taught.
To better clarify so as to not leave the impression that analog is as simplistic as the word may imply, within the action of a wave there is a tremendous quantity of other actions that compose the concept of analog. As the cell is much more complex that what was previously popularly believed, so is an analog wave of a complexity that far exceeds cellular complexity. The effect of a four dimensional body passing through a two dimensional membrane is rather fascinating, while the popular beliefs of binary and analog are rather simpleton and of no direct usefulness.
A newer theory by Luca Turin — circa 1990s — promotes the concept that it is not so much the shape of a molecule that is being perceived, but rather the molecule's vibration. The theory's concept is that olfactory receptors detect a molecule's infra-red frequency, which allows for a relatively small number of receptors to recognize a much larger number of odorants. The Turin theory has merit in it allowing for the existence of a wave-based universe, plus the potential of 'smelling' an odorant through a layer of moisture in the nasal cavity without the odorant coming into physical contact with a receptor. The Turin theory is not complete, but it is a good start and much favored over popular models.
Various claims have stated that some researchers have attempted to prove or disprove Turin's theory by having normal untrained individuals participate in olfactory experiments. To my knowledge the publicized results have claimed that Turin's theory must be incorrect since the participants did not smell differences of odors. As the SQ tests verified, well over 99.9% of the general human population cannot consciously recognize a sensorial perception beyond the most rudimentary, and if over 99.9% of the population is naturally limited in sensorial cognition, then of course the results of the experiments would conclude that the normal untrained individual would not recognize differences. It is an unfair and biased research project that purposefully selects participants who hold no potential for discerning variances of aromas, and thus it is important to clarify that the claims against Turin's theory may not have been validated themselves.
Lessons In Smelling - Essays on Olfactory Perception by Clare Batty is an excellent dissertation on the philosophical view of olfaction. Most interesting to me are the comments of page 7 related to sight being a "mosaic of apparent three-dimensional objects" as compared to page 12's "…brewing coffee, the smell does not… occupy more or less determinate locations... the smell simply pervades." This item is very important, for in my studies, and of what little information I have been capable of gleaning from the public, the typical human does not perceive dimensionalities within olfactory perception. Though a person might be capable of discerning from what direction a strong odor is arriving if the individual turns their head to face the odor-producing object, still the individual is not likely to mentally construct a dimensional presence of the aroma, that is, the individual will not mentally perceive the aroma's distance of origin, the aroma's intensity relative to the origin's intensity, nor the aroma's spatial deflections within the environment (not too differently than how most individuals analyze the directions and origins of sound). Without an individual giving conscious attention to the perception of an aroma, and thus permitting the creation of memories of aromas from different distances and directions and intensities, the individual will not later be capable of producing a logic based upon the need for memories to be weighed relative to a current olfactory perception, and thus the lack of conscious attention at one point in life renders the individual incapable of mental discernment of future olfactory perceptions.
Also, as Scientific Method — Twelve Logic Steps as a Methodology of Investigation illustrates, without a creative mental and emotional stance there will be little or no mental cognition of a sensorial perception. Humans typically approach the topic of olfactory perception with disinterest and biased opinions, which render the individuals incapable of accurate sensorial perceptions.
On page 9 of Batty's dissertation a reference is made to the gypsy moth, that "is able to detect the pheromones of the female... from several miles away." It is useful to remember this little bit of information for when the topic is raised later in this article.
Page 10: "Not all auditory experiences are directional or determinately spatial…" I have learned that some individuals cannot mentally discern dimensional structurings of sound waves as determined by hearing how the sound varies relative to its bouncing from the sides and backsides of objects. By hearing the variances of sound, as is in part suggested by the Doppler Effect, the sense of hearing is capable of discerning the presence of objects, as well as the objects' densities and temperatures and compositions, as bats may similarly perceive objects through the perception of sound waves. Humans typically give little to no conscious thought and analysis to sensory perceptions, and thus it is to be expected that the individuals may not discern the nature of any.
Page 12 continues with "There is some evidence that humans can localize odor sources in highly controlled circumstances… But these circumstances are the exception, not the rule, and do not represent the typical experiences of human subjects in their environment. For this reason I will not consider them here." Batty correctly referenced the existence of individuals with acute sensorial perceptions, and Batty correctly stated the disclaimer that the dissertation was restricted to the topic of common olfactory perceptions by common individuals.
At this point it is useful to bring back into thought the popular belief about molecules plus the bit of information about the gypsy moth. From the University of Illinois' Focus on Plant Problems it is stated that "The adult males are out several days before the female. The male can "smell" a female from as much as a mile away." I personally do not know if a male gypsy moth can smell a mate at one inch or one-hundred miles away, but for the sake of generalities let us assume that the moth can smell a potential mate at about a mile or more away.
If the USDA fact sheets are correct, then female moths have a maximum wing span of about two inches. One mile is about 63,360 inches, or about the distance of 31,680 female moths spread wing tip to wing tip. Regardless of an olfactory receptor's capacity for detecting small quantities of molecules, if the molecular theory for olfactory perception were true, then the male moth's potential for smelling a female moth from a mile away is still limited to the male moth's capacity for detecting molecules. Obviously, the female moth must expel a sufficient enough quantity of pheromone molecules for all male moths within a mile to perceive.
Extreme Sensitivity in an Olfactory System by Anna Maria Angioy, Alessandro Desogus, Iole Tomassini Barbarossa, Peter Anderson and Bill S. Hansson: "We recorded olfactory-induced cardiac responses to evaluate olfactory response thresholds to behaviourally relevant odours in a moth. Specific antennal receptor neurons enable insects to detect biologically meaningful odours such as sex pheromones and host-plant volatiles. The response threshold values demonstrated here are well below anything earlier reported in any organism. A heart response was triggered by less than six molecules of the most efficient odours hitting the antennae of the insect. The behavioural significance of this extreme sensitivity most likely lies in the creation of awareness and readiness to respond behaviourally at higher concentration levels."
According to the article, about six molecules must be present for the one specific individual insect to initially "smell" a potential mate. How long of a duration exists before a moth's detection of a pheromone molecule will cause the singular molecule perception to fade? Must the six molecules be perceived in sequence within, say, ten seconds? The previous question is meant to ask for additional information so that it might be possible to rationalize how many molecules the female moth must emit within a specific timeframe.
The last sentence in the quote is quite excellent and deserves repeating: "The behavioural significance of this extreme sensitivity most likely lies in the creation of awareness and readiness to respond behaviourally at higher concentration levels." If only it were possible for popular opinion to accept the concept that humans too require mental awareness and a readiness to respond to sensorial perceptions, and that it ought to be recognized that the lack of awareness and readiness will result in the lack of sensorial acuity, and thus, a lessening of information necessary for rational thought. (See also Scientific Method — Twelve Logic Steps as a Methodology of Investigation.) While living in a remote rural area, I repeatedly observed wild animals not responding to threatening aromas until after the odors were of a relatively high intensity. It seemed very peculiar to me that the scents I smelled, which described a threat to the animals, were not detected and/or reacted upon by the animals until the danger was very close, to within two- to three-hundred yards. Though it may be popularly believed that most animals have a keener sense of smell than humans, it has been observed that some humans are more sensorially acute than many animals, and the cause of the differences is largely due to focused awareness.
Musings on the Theories of Olfactory Perception
A difficulty with the concept of physical molecules floating about in the air is due, in part, to the requirement of the female moth to secrete a sufficient enough quantity of pheromones for a male moth to smell the female at a mile or more away, which implies that the female's molecules must occupy a diameter of no less than two miles and at a depth of at least ten to twenty feet deep for a distant male moth in a tree to perceive the molecules. That is a lot of pheromones! If there are about 63,360 inches in one mile, then 4,014,489,600 square inches times pi equals about 12,605,497,344 square inches in the one mile radius. Multiplying the surface area by 240 to allow twenty feet of depth for male moths in trees to perceive the molecules, the total sums to around 3,025,319,362,560, and multiplied by no fewer than six to permit male detection, the final sum is about 18,151,916,175,360 pheromone molecules that the female must secrete for an undetermined duration of time. I am not a biologist, nor have I performed the necessary experiments myself to determine the quantity and duration of pheromone secretions of a female moth, and so I do not know if the articles presented an accurate concept of whether a male moth can actually smell a female at a mile away, or if it might only be a few moths downwind, or perhaps only one moth gets lucky enough to be in the direct path of the female's airborne pheromones.
The math, of course, is merely a logical weighing of how many molecules a female must secrete to exist within each cubic inch within the one mile radius, and math can never make a thing true, but the numbers do help to illustrate that we, the public, are not being given sufficient information to base a rational conclusion. "A" male moth may smell "a" female moth once from a mile away, but a one-time event does not infer that "all" male moths smell "all" female moths from up to a mile away. There are too many unanswered questions for anyone to rationally accept the claim that male moths can smell the molecules from female moths from a distance of a mile away. If, as one article suggested, human researchers planted female pheromones onto a male, then where was the female at the time? One foot away, or one-thousand miles away? A further clarification of each claim is required before there can be an acceptable conclusion of any.
Too, if olfactory perception were truly only the perception of molecules, then the male moth would have no means of determining from what direction the molecules arrived, and thus, the male moth would not have the capacity to know which direction to fly to find the female. A normal human may rationalize the source of an odor by sniffing many different things and places to determine where the odor is the strongest, and then mentally conclude that the greatest intensity of odor signifies the likely source of the odor, but if a male moth is a mile away and only perceives six to sixty-thousand or so molecules one time, then how might the moth know from where the molecules originated? Must there either be a continual stream of molecules from the female for the male moth to determine varying degrees of intensities, and if so, then must not the female be secreting the very high quantity of pheromones on a frequent or continual basis — of which is strongly suspected that the female moth would not be biologically capable of producing such a high quantity of pheromones — or might there be a different explanation for the long distance olfactory perception?
It is crucially important to continue questioning popular beliefs. The researchers themselves may possess a wealth of information related to their experiments, but the articles being presented to the public require blind faith and a string of assumptions that the uninformative information in the articles is sensible. Was the cardiac response in the male moth due to an interpretation that a female moth must be very close? If the male moth's senses are so acute, then why was the moth not smelling female moths already? Were there no other moths within one or two miles of the lab? If placing a specific number of molecules on an insect results in a measurable response, then what does the response imply aside from the response itself? No popular theory of olfaction includes a description of the actual scent itself, nor how the scent is mentally registered, and the absence of description is irrefutable evidence that the theories are simply imaginary. A human may register one form of cardiac response when seeing an attractive mate, while registering different cardiac responses for each of the five different senses, and since the public writings about moth sensitivity do not include an in-depth description of the innumerable possible cardiac responses in male moths, then the public information about moth olfaction is inadmissible. All theories of olfaction that do not include an in-depth description of the what and how a living being is sensing an aroma are intellectually impoverished and undeserving of consideration. (I go a little further into this topic at BeyondProdigies.com.)
Examples of Acute Olfactory Perception
(©) Cliff location
A useful example that illustrates differences in olfactory perception is a personal experience while sitting near the top of a cliff. The sitting location was approximately 350 yards to the south of a dirt road. The photograph shows the layout of the land, the small sandstone cliffs rising about fifty feet above the road, a car parked on the road, and a house that is located within about twenty-five yards across the dirt road. The wind speed varied at about ten to thirty miles per hour, and the direction of the wind was from the cliffs towards the road. While enjoying the warm and sunny winter day, my lazily soaking up the warmth of the sandstone and the soothing environment, an overwhelming stench pervaded my senses, of an intensity not too dissimilar to that of standing at the fence of an overpopulated stockyard. The stench described numerous details, including old cotton blue jeans soiled with decades-old automotive greases and oils combined with various types of clay dirt from different areas of the region, plus the body odors of an overweight unbathed man in a typical chronological physical age of his sixties who eats too much low quality meat, whose health is fair at best, who has a lower than average intelligence, and among the many other descriptions perceived within the scent was that of an obese female, of a slightly younger age than the man, not married to the man, but who with a similar degree of uncleanliness also had increasing health problems common among individuals in their sixties and later, primarily that which I personally term to be a state of cellular degeneration of which the body's cells are losing their structural integrity and allowing cellular fluids to escape.
The stench was very strong, very strong, so intense that I began feeling physically nauseated. The stench was one where the odor is not greatly attenuated while exhaling; the stench continued regardless of whether I inhaled or exhaled. My first thought may have been to suspect that the nearest neighbor upwind from my location, about six-hundred to eight-hundred yards to my south, might have arrived on his land, but upon my recognizing the manner of perception, I then realized that the aroma was indeed from a source located over a land mass, but not from upwind. Before I had time to fully interpret the aroma's exact direction, a car appeared on the road before me, the car traveling towards my right, coming into view from behind a hill to my left. The car's windows were rolled up, and though I could not see the individuals within the car, by that time I had determined that the source of the stench was indeed from the car's interior.
I will skip over the details of what thoughts ran through my mind over the next few minutes, and jump to the event of my walking towards the man, where at about two-hundred yards distant I felt as though I might faint from the increasing stench. I was relieved, however, that when about twenty-five yards from the man, the stench subsided in its intensity of one type, while the stench increased its intensity of a second type. The second type of stench is of the more normal manner of smelling particles of an object. At the closer range I was able to endure the stench with little discomfort while verifying that my earlier perceptions of the man were correct. Though the man and I stood about twenty-five yards from the vehicle, with focused attention I visually observed the female within the car, and confirmed my previous perceptions of her health, age, size, and marital status.
The above example is but one of countless others where a human is capable of discerning information that popular science believes to be impossible. If olfactory perception were based solely on the detection of physical molecules, then my perceptions would have been miraculously fantastic coincidences, but invalid. If olfactory perception were limited to the vibrations of physical molecules, then again my perceptions would be invalid, but physical molecules do not exist, the universe is wave-based, and wheresoever there exists a wave there will also exist resonances of the wave. A molecule does not exist by itself; the molecule did not self-create itself, nor does the molecule's wave structure end within the spatial location of the molecule, and to say otherwise would be a direct denial of physics and common sense.
A male moth may smell a female from miles away, and though the moth may have the olfactory capacity to detect molecules at a close proximity, the moth may also have the olfactory potential of humans' to sense the wave vibrations of molecules at great distances. The wave frequency of odorants is within a narrow range, and as the eyes can perceive waves at the speed of light, so might the olfactory perceive waves at a different range of frequencies. It is not a miracle to smell waves; it is merely being in the state of awareness and readiness to smell.
It is an incorrect assumption to conclude that the ability to perceive a molecule must infer that the physical perception of molecules is the one and only possible means of olfactory perception. As with olfactory possessing two or more means of perception, so also are there manners of tactile perception which, not unsurprisingly, lend additional support for the concept of wave-reception at distances and through 'solids.' Within mainstream science, Turin's theory is the better choice, for Turin's theory allows the possibilities within physics, that of waves shaped by resonances, but Turin's theory is not yet complete.
At present there are two main facets of Reality that are still missing in physics. As a child I was informed that I was not qualified to speak on the topic, and since the declaration was never rescinded, today I continue holding to the behavior of keeping my mouth shut and of not speaking openly of what ought to be obvious. Someday physics will recognize the two missing elements, plus a relatively minor third, and when that day arrives, perhaps then will mainstream science allow for the possibility that humans are indeed wave-based creatures in a wave-based Reality.
Hypothesis 1: Long distance olfactory perception is caused by molecules being raised up into the atmosphere and circulated back towards the ground upwind from the original source.
Answer: On numerous occasions I questioned myself if such a circulation might have been the cause, but what about the occasions of smelling sausage cooking before the first puff of smoke exits a distant wood cook stove? There was not enough time for the molecules to exit the house, rise into the atmosphere, circulate upwind, and then fall back down to the ground. Too, the perceived directions of from where the odors originated were correct. If the molecules were arriving from above, then the sensed origin should have been interpreted as coming from above.
Hypothesis 2: The interpretation of the perception was an illusion that just happened to later be correct; a fantastic coincidence.
Answer: I could accept one coincidence, maybe two, but not thousands spread out over a period of decades. Many individuals experience similar perceptions, and it is interesting to ponder how the distant perceptions occur.
Hypothesis 3: If all olfactory perceptions were validated as accurate, then what about the John Wheeler concept of the past perceiving the future? Might there be some connection, that instead of actually detecting odorants of whatever form, there may instead be a sensing of an approaching future?
Answer: All possibilities do remain open, but some distant perceptions are not verified at close proximity, but rather are used to direct the vision to observe and avoid contact with the odorant's source. The olfactory perception of a specific animal at a distance, an animal that is purposefully avoided, cannot be of a future olfactory perception if the close-range perception never occurs.
Hypothesis 4: Synesthesia?
Answer: No. Acute sensorial perception that correctly perceives a thing within its standard manner of cognition is not a disorder. Without first seeing, hearing, tasting, or touching an object, there can be no olfactory synesthesia. Though it has become a popular social fad to place labels of disorders on all above-average talents, the practice is improper and only leads to further restricting the study of olfactory perception.
The bottom line is that regardless of what the final answer might someday be about olfactory perception, the answer will not be binary nor of a materialistic belief in solid matter.
It is common for a person to recognize from which direction a loud sound originates. By hearing the different intensities and densities of sound waves, a healthy person's mind applies logic to the several features within the sound (loudness/softness, Doppler effect, stereophonic, etc.) and can derive a useful conclusion of from where the sound originated. When isolated in a room that has a closed door and window, still the individual can often determine from which direction a sound originated from outside of the room. It is the mind that assembles the data of heard perceptions, and it is the mind that logically compares and analyzes the data. The biological presence of aural devices (ear drum, etc.) is not the singular beginning and end of auditory perception; a sensory perception is merely data input, and it is the mind that uses the data to derive a useful concept of what the data implies.
The primary item worthy of attention is that no quantity of sensorial perceptions are of value if the mind is not capable of applying logic to the perceptions. All useful human sensorial perception is logics-based and measurable as a form of real-world intelligence. For more than a decade the SesquIQ SQ (sensory quotient) test has measured the human potential of both sensorial capacity as well as the intellectual capacity of applying sensorial perceptions. The SQ testing method has enabled the creation of a standardization of what is deemed to be the norm of human potential, with the greater emphasis being within the intellectual capacity.
Similar to the ability of some animals' to perceive ultrasonic and infrasonic waves through means other than ears, so likewise are some humans more adept at sensorially perceiving and logically analyzing vibrations and waves at frequencies from below 1 hertz to over 1019 hertz (gamma). Some humans experience intense pain when exposed to the microwave radiation of cell phones, as well as the megahertz of wireless phones, and it is within the ability of consciously perceiving beyond the norm that allows for improved theories of olfaction.
Olfactory perception has a similar requirement for logical analysis as with auditory perception. The sensorially perceived data does not of itself insert knowledge into the mind; the data sent to the mind must be received, the data must be recognized by the mind to exist, and the mind must apply logic to what the mind recognizes as a sensory perception. Regardless of an individual's sensorial acuity, still it remains to be the intellectual ability that distinguishes whether or not the individual recognizes what the sensorial perceptions imply.
As the several references and links illustrated, there has been little or no attention given to the intellectual requirements of olfaction. If an academic or scientific research into the logics of olfaction has occurred, to my knowledge it has not been made public, and more importantly, the information has not been applied with the aim of enhancing the human experience of life.
Without discussing the confidential scoring methods of the SQ test, it is enough to simply state that there is substantial evidence that supports three distinct variations of human intelligence: (1) the norm, which includes over 99% of all humans, (2) the consciously aware, which appears to comprise approximately .005% of the population, and (3) a classification that combines enhanced sensorial perception, cognition, and a specific method of analysis. For ease of use I will refer to the third classification as "Sens-logic." The usefulness of knowing that sens-logic exists is that it enables us to recognize what is possible and what may exist within all healthy humans, albeit perhaps at a lower quantity.
Relative to olfactory perception, the sens-logic mind analyzes scents with a somewhat similar reasoning as the normal person reasons the sense of sound. By 'listening' to the movements and speeds and intensities of aromas, the sens-logic individual is able to discern from what direction the aroma originated, how quickly the aroma is dispersing, what components exist within the aroma, and numerous other fine details that are verifiable with measuring instruments. The Batty dissertation is useful for illustrating what is deemed to be the normal state of human reasoning: the typical human will perceive a mixture of scents and may mentally conclude that the aroma of brewing coffee "simply pervades," but the individual will not apply logic to the olfactory perception in a manner similar to auditory perceptions. The sens-logic individual perceives a very large quantity of information within all sensory perceptions, including information that is not known to exist within any current writings.
The SQ data illustrates that different types of intelligence — as suggested by Gardner — do not have direct parallels to sens-logic. Sens-logic appears to stand alone with its own unique characteristics of sensorial perception, cognition, and style of reasoning. Due to the SQ test projects having been primarily researched through a high IQ society, it is to be expected that to date the greater interest in the SQ results has been with the qualifying of intelligence beyond what the normal IQ tests currently permit. To date, the results continue to show that IQ scores are not an indicator of potential SQ, but SQ is an indicator of potential IQ, which appears to imply that SQ is the better indicator of intelligence.
The usefulness of knowing that the sens-logic individuals exist is that the information gleaned from their talents enables us to derive more rational theories about the sense of smell, theories that are based more on the mind and less on particulate theories. With the normal person's eyes receiving the same information as the sens-logic person's eyes — a single common pencil — and yet the recorded perceptions are fully different in complexities, there can be no question of whether the acuity of sensorial perception is contingent on genetics or mind: it is the mind that defines the ability to recognize what is sensorially perceived. Similarly with the sense of smell, the sens-logic description of aromas has opened a fully new view into the nature of olfaction.
It remains my preference to not speak of conclusions until after popular science has discovered similar conclusions, and so I am hesitant to speak of the details within olfaction. I will, however, share a hint, that if academia is to ever arrive at a useful concept of olfaction, then what is needed is for the biologist to walk across the hall and speak to the physicist about electrical theory, and then walk down the hall to speak to a psychologist about repetitiveness, and to then exit the building to go in search of observing Nature. This article dropped numerous hints that point towards an obviousness that continues to be ignored by biology: it is not beneficial for the mind to be given words to memorize, but it is useful to apply effort and to strive to understand.
[Update March 30, 2013: A sizable quantity of the latest SQ data that describes the mental patterning of acute olfaction is now available in the Beyond Prodigies book.]
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