Sniffing Out the Scent of Story

Science News has an article about restoring scent to individuals who have little or no sense of smell.  The research is fascinating in its own right, but it’s also got me thinking about how individuals learn that one of their senses isn’t working as it should.

For example, it’s not uncommon for children who need glasses to be unaware of their need.  In my own case, my siblings and I were capable of turning anything into a competition, so we’d test ourselves for the sharpest eyes by reading stuff across the room.  One day mom and dad overheard, and noticed that I wasn’t able to read stuff that I maybe should have been able too.

The power of suggestion being what it is, I then went out and discovered that there were lots of things I couldn’t read really well, and in fact insisted that glasses were a necessity in spite of my low prescription.

But what if an entire people were missing one of their senses?  How would they know it was missing, with nothing to compare themselves too?  I suspect they would get by just fine, adapting their suroundings, perhaps domesticating an animal that was able to assist, just as people use watch- and drug-dogs.

In fact, if one person in the group was able to use the dormant sense, the rest of the group would probably be skeptical.  Might even consider them crazy.  And of course, there’s the full-circle fruition of this train of thought.  What if this hypothetical people were us?

Makes for some interesting story ideas, doesn’t it?

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