Having Been Human
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Sat Dec 29 15:07:50 2012
Smells and Vegetarianism

Nowadays when I smell chicken or steak, it seems pretty different than I remember. I can't tell if it's that my sense of smell has literally changed, or if how I parse smells is.

I think there probably is a reasonably principled distinction; with vision, for example, there's an actual visual field we should have for a given scene (even as we attend differently to it based on all sorts of things and there are well-known intrinsic attentiona effects). When I look at a face, I know that there's some specialised hardware used for that and other complex visual discrimination, and I can shift my parsings of a given face if I work at it (parse a face as adult or child, for example). I think there's probably a similar effect for smell. Even as it's harder to quantify.