The People Who Couldn’t Smell – A Story

Once upon a time in a country far, far away, tucked into an isolated valley, there lived the Tsiehtas, a group of people with only four senses. They could see and hear and feel and taste, but they couldn’t smell.

One day a visitor from neighboring Htiaf arrived in the valley. He admired the quaint cottages and well-kept lawns and beautiful gardens. But when he stopped beside a rose bush and pressed his nose to a blossom, a smile came over his face.

“This is the most fragrant flower I’ve ever found,” he said. “You have a real treasure in your valley.”

The Tsiehtas looked at the visitor suspiciously. “No offense, sir,” said the lord high counselor, “but there is no such thing as ‘fragrant.’ Certainly we appreciate the beauty of the blossoms, and for that reason we treasure our roses.”

“No fragrance? Of course there’s a fragrance. A sweet, rich scent that lingers even after I move to another part of the garden.”

“Ha-ha! You have a rich imagination … unless you are trying to intentionally propagate deception.”

A crowd begin to gather.

The visitor raised his voice. “Please believe me. I’m not making this up. The scent is so strong it overpowers that of the newly cut grass.”

“You think grass has a scent, too?” the lord high counselor said.

The crowd laughed, but one small boy dropped to his knees and buried his face in the grass. “I do think I smell something,” came his muffled voice.

“Nonsense and fairy tales. We have no evidence that ‘scent’ exists,” said the lord high counselor. “Show me this fragrance you speak of.”

“How can I show you that which is invisible?”

“And how can we believe in something without any proof?”

“I’m your proof! And so is my young friend here.” The visitor patted the little boy’s shoulder. “The fact that we can smell these scents is evidence they exist.”

“Hardly. Another visitor might arrive tomorrow and tell us the sun smells disgusting. Should we believe him, too?”

“What about this boy, one of your own?”

“You said yourself, he’s a boy. He’ll grow out of his fantasy.”

Sadly the visitor from Htiaf turned away. “How can I convince the Tsiehtas the scent is real when they can’t smell? If only I could give then the sense they are lacking!”

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm  Comments (3)  
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  1. Do you really not see what’s wrong with this argument?


  2. Scientists say that 95% of the universe consists of “dark matter.” Being that we can only “see” 5% of the real world, I’m inclined to think humility and faith are a tad more valuable. Under these conditions, believing in the “invisible” seems a bit more rational.


  3. Well, scaryreasoner, it’s a story, not an argument, but I’d be interested to hear what you think is wrong.

    Mike, I wasn’t aware of the huge percentage scientists concede to dark matter. Thanks for adding that fact to the discussion.

    I find it intriguing that so much of what we consider part of our physical world isn’t actually visible. I’ve mentioned gravity before, but scent is another as is sound. Sure, we can detect smells physically, but not visually so. We can study the effects of gravity but are unable to see the actual force itself.

    Given the fact that we take so much of the physical world to be real, even though we can’t see it and have only the word of scientists to verify that it is so, I wonder why it seems like such a leap for people to believe that the spiritual exists.



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