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Jacobson's Organ

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Smell is our most seductive and provocative sense, invading every domain of our lives. We can identify our relatives by smell alone, detect the availability of a potential mate, sniff out danger and distinguish between good and bad food just with our noses. Nothing is more memorable than a smell. so why do we persist in dismissing the nose as a blunt instrument? In this book Lyall Watson rescues our most unappreciated sense from obscurity. He brings to light new evidence concerning Jacobson's organ: an anatomical feature discovered high in the nose in 1811 and dismissed for centuries as a vestigial ghost. Yet recent research has shown Jacobson's organ to be the phenomenal mechanism necessary for operating a true "sixth sense", feeding the area of the brain that affects our awareness, emotional states and sexual behaviour. With it, we have access to a world we thought we had lost. Following the seven classes of smell devised by the pioneering botanist Carolus Linnaeus in his "Odores Medicamentorum", Watson examines the diverse roles of smell and pheromones in human beings, plants and animals. He reveals the curious ways in which trees communicate their distress, the tricks truffles use to attract the attention of passing pigs, the olfactory abilities of feral children, the unerring capability of certain species to find their way home, the bond we have with our offsprings, the psychosexual effects of perfume, and the link between smell and memory formation.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Getting organized: fragrances - a nose is born; hircinos - in warm blood; ambrosiacos - on the net. Part 2 The fragrant ape: tetros - scents of self; nauseosos - in bad odour; aromaticos - smelling good. Part 3 The most human thing: alliaceos - the sixth sense; taxonomy.


There's little doubt that smell plays a significant role in the lives of humans. Watson (Beyond Supernature), like many before him, argues convincingly that odors are superb at rekindling lost memories. He is also in good company when he asserts that some smells and some pheromones often have consequential but unconscious effects on humans. Beyond rehashing what has become widely accepted, Watson attempts to discuss the importance of Jacobson's Organ, the "unconscious partner to the nose." Jacobson's Organ, also called the vomeronasal organ, consists of two small pits in front of the nasal septum with nerves feeding directly to the most primitive, limbic area of the brain. Scientists believe that the vomeronasal organ in humans, as in reptiles, can sense large molecules that have no impact on our ordinary sense of smell. Watson claims that it is "a chemical clearing house for subliminal impressions, for... bad vibes, warm fuzzies, instant dislikes and irresistible attractions. Just the sort of will-o'-the-wisps with which any decent sixth sense ought to be concerned." Perhaps there is a sixth sense mediated by Jacobson's Organ. The problem, however, is that Watson spends virtually all of his time providing eclectic information on the traditional sense of smell, only alluding to Jacobson's Organ. Only in his final chapter does he focus on it directly; and there, to his credit, he writes, "everything that follows here is pure speculation on my behalf." As with his earlier work, Watson provides tantalizing conjectures, but his uncritical acceptance of the paranormal reduces his credibility. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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