[extropy-chat] Questionnaire on senses

pjmanney pj at pj-manney.com
Sat Jan 27 22:24:26 UTC 2007

>Anna Taylor wrote:
>> On Fri Jan 19 08:31:49 UTC 2007 Damien Broderick:
>>>What do you think is your most keen sense?
>> Kinesthesia.

I sent Anna an offline reply a few days ago, agreeing with Damien.  It's my keenest sense, too.  

Anna wrote:
>> My apology, I meant, what is your most natural keen
>> sense?

Anna, I don't understand what this correction in your question means.

Anders wrote:
>Well, that is a natural sense. Sometimes called proprioception. The sense
>of where the different body parts are and in what tension muscles and
>tendons are. It is usually bunched together with touch, but it should
>properly be regarded as an independent sense (different receptors,
>slightly separate cortical representation).

For me, Kinesthesia is what Anders wrote, but more.  It has never felt at all like 'touch' to me.  From a functional standpoint, it has a completely different objective than touch.  It's an exploration and perception of inner space.  Not outer space.  And it's not just about muscular control, but the ability to monitor the entire body - muscular, skeletal, organs, the whole enchilada, in detail.

Below is an edited version of what I sent Anna offline:

I'd have to agree [with Damien]. Me, too. I'm a former dancer. Do yoga... 
Come from a long line of athletes, but I hated sports. (My grandmother was an all-around sportswoman and one of the first women to do Judo in America -- there's old newsreel footage of her somewhere wrestling with another woman. Grandfather played pro-baseball. Mom went to college on sports scholarship. Her idol, who she was lucky enough to know, was Babe Didrikson Zaharias -- wiki her.  I'll bet Kinesthesia was her keenest sense, too.) 

But it's way beyond the ability to control my body.  I know my body and what it does and doesn't do, inside and out, intimately. It fascinates my doctors, because I'm always right, whether it's because they think I've got something I know I don't or visa versa (I guess that's unusual). My son has the same genetic component, but my daughter doesn't and it pisses her off. He has minute muscle control and can turn it on and off and he's only 10. He also does martial arts.

[snip - discussed other senses]

Smell is only adequate. I shattered my face as a teen and had my nose and sinuses rebuilt twice. It's never been the same. It also affected my singing [badly]... :-( 

To this, Anna, I want to add a comment in reference to Spike's friend,  the man who had no sense of smell, but got it back in his 60's.  I had very little sense of smell from the age of 20, which was 5 years after my first operation, when my nasal passages were collapsing, to age 35, when I had my second surgery, opening them up again.  And what a difference it made.  I obviously remembered what things smelled like, so the good and bad smells remained in the same catagories.  The world now is so much richer with an adequate, but not stellar, sense of smell.  I'm not synethesiac, but the only word I can think of is that smell brings... "color"... to my world.  My initial reactions to people are subtly different, too.  Hard to explain, but the added bandwidth helps with accurate impressions.  I once compared it to feeling like a dog, when they take an immediate like or dislike to someone.

Which brings back a funny memory:  The only time my sense of smell worked between 20 & 35 was when I was pregnant.  And then I really did feel like a dog!  I could smell everything, although how it so abruptly turned on and off, given the structural issues, was anyone's guess.  I could track scents, avoided lots of scents because they made me nauseous, and if a piece of cooked meat was anywhere near me, I felt like I could levitate and float on the scent traces in the air, like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.


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