Afternoon Inquisition 12.13

So, the following is probably my favorite question to ask people, simply because I think my answer to it makes me a bit of a freak, and maybe I’m subconsciously trying to find others like me. Who knows? Anyway, on to the inquisition!

If you had to give up one of your five senses, which would you choose?

Related Articles


  1. Smell. It’d be the one I’d miss less. (But, on the other hand, I understand that smell and taste are related, so I’m not sure you can give up the former without losing the latter too.)

  2. @shanek: Um, excuse me, but we have a LOT more than five senses…

    Okay… of those, plus taste, smell, etc…

    I’d give up spicy food. Probably. But only so I could RULE in chili eating contests…

    One question: does that mean I would also get a pass on the ring of fire?

  3. Sight – need that
    Hearing – I think I could get by
    Taste – I could get by, but I’d miss tasting things and I love food
    Smell – see taste
    Touch – more necessary than people think
    Proprioception – definitely necessary
    Balance – definitely necessary

    So I guess hearing.

  4. Smell. Aside from taste there would be to much day to day irritation and loss of ability involved to lose anything else.

  5. I could never give up hearing. Life without music? Although there are several thousand musical pieces embedded in my mind already, so I suppose it would be tolerable for a while. But no new music? No way. Smell? Sounds good, but too interwoven with taste, and spicy food is a must. Touch? Mmmmmm, no….That leaves sight. I’d learn Braille. I think, sight then.

  6. Smell and taste.

    In fact; I have been a grad students for several years now, so, I essentially got a head start on that (hmmm, ramen noodles)

  7. @vodyanoj: glad i’m not the only one…i’d go with sight for exactly the reasons you mention. i’m too much of a hedonist to give up smell, taste, or touch, and i think being deaf is much more isolating than being blind. plus, music.

  8. carr2d2: No you’re not alone! (Although there are damn few like us, and as the Scottish toast goes, “they’re all dead!”)

    As I am slowly losing my hearing—due to age, no doubt, as well as overexposure to Motorhead and others of like ilk live during my younger days—I become more and more aware of how isolating deafness would be. Not that I am *deaf*, but I am more so than, say 10 years ago… At least I still have my sense of pitch… So my response, doubtlessly, is coloured by that realization.

  9. @sethmanapio: yes, but to me, that’s more about my identity and the image i choose to project, which makes it a bit irrelevant whether or not i can actually see them (i can’t really see the ones on my back as it is).
    and while i do have a strong appreciation for visual beauty, my appreciation for smell, taste, and touch is much more integral to my ability to live a fully satisfactory life.

  10. I’d give up my sense of perspective. First stop after that: bitch-slapping Roger Ebert for his review of Karate Kid 3. I loved that movie, dangit.

  11. Can I give up taste without giving up smell, please? I’d like to keep smell, just in case there’s somethin’ funky growing under my fridge… I’d hate to have to be told by a guest that something nasty this way stinks!
    I’d like to give up taste because that would help me cut down on my binging. I eat purely for taste, and I am therefore a fatty.

  12. I think taste. I enjoy taste, but I don’t need it the way I need sight and hearing (a good part of any day is spent reading things on the Internet with music playing), and touch, balance and proprioception and all kind of necessary, so that leaves smell and taste. Smell is a big part of taste, so if I lost that it would be like losing one and a half senses, so I’ll go with taste.

  13. @sethmanapio: Agreed. I have very poor vision as it is and not having my glasses makes me feel very vulnerable. Although, perhaps that’s mostly related to being in karate class and having blurry fists flying at my face before I got contacts…

  14. @Wendy:
    Taste doesn’t influence smell, smell influences taste. Without functional tastebuds olfactory receptors would still work just fine.

  15. I finally faced the facts and started wearing hearing aides earlier this year, at the age of only 29, clearly evidence that I genuinely did party harder than everyone else at College. So I have some personal experience of losing one of my senses.

    To be honest, as I’d been going deaf for a long time, over a decade, due to persistant “Rocking Out” it was a bit of shock putting them in and hearing things again; The World is a loud and scary place, I’d got used to my quite peacefull muffled world.

    So much so I only wear them when I really have to, Theater, Cinema, Interviews, Resturants, otherwise I don’t bother with them (I bought myself special headphones for the TV years ago)

    I don’t miss music as much as I thought I would (of course I can still hear decent bands like Motorhead if I go to see them live and fight my way to the front), and conversations only work if people speak up, but I’m starting to pick up a bit of lip reading which is handy in social gatherings.

    All in all, going/being deaf isn’t as bad as you might think, no noise distraction and I don’t have a mobile phone so people aren’t ringing me up all the time.

    It’s probably the sense you can adapt to losing (as opposed to never having) the easiest. Especially if, like me, you’re the sort of person who “lives inside their own head” to begin with

  16. Oh and I’m also extremely short-sighted, but I’v always worn jam-jars so I don’t even think of that as losing a sense.

  17. My first thought was “sense of fair play,” but in keeping with the actual spirit of the question, I’ll say smell.

    Sight? No way no way no way. I like to drive, I couldn’t do my job, I couldn’t use the internet, I couldn’t hike or camp or fish or generally be outside on my own…. no way. No way no way no way.

    Hearing? This was my first thought, then I realized I was listening to music right now as I type this, and I wouldn’t want to give this up.

    Touch? No thanks. I enjoy sex and masterbation too much.

    Taist? This wouldn’t be too bad. It’s similar to smell, and tied in with it, but sometimes you smell nasty things. I don’t ever taist anything I don’t like.

    Smell for sure. I love flowers, and I’d miss them, and food wouldn’t taist as delicious, and I love the smell of a campfire and the fresh air after an autumn rain…. sigh…. but if I had to give one up, it’d have to go.

    Good question!

  18. I forget to Answer.

    Well, Hearing’s already gone and I’m managing without that, I’m also happy to kiss goodbye to Smell and Taste at a push.

    Sight I’d obviously want to keep, as losing it is the most handicapping loss of all. And Touch I’d want to keep since without it you often harm yourself without realising, thats what f*cks up lepers (loss of feeling, leading to damage, leading to fingers dropping off) not the actual infection itself.

    Balance is a tricky one though, I had Labrythnitis before going all-out Beethovan and totally lost my Balance (vomiting from montion sickness while in bed, thats how bad it was) but after a couple of months I was able to re-learn it back. Balance gone forever would be a bastard but with anti-nausia pills and a wheelchair you could probably get onl with your life again. Unless you were a gymnast.

  19. So… I really can’t see how anyone could possibly choose anything but smell and possibly taste. There’s a reason our sense of smell is so pathetic–because it’s not as important in our lives as sight, hearing, touch(and accompanying kinesthetic awareness and things)
    Why give up sight? To be horribly handicapped? as opposed to the mild irritation that a lack of smell causes? (I know someone with no sense of smell, aside for the smell of mint, and she doesn’t seem to think it’s so bad)

  20. I’d go with smell – My husband lost his sense of smell following a brain injury. He seems to taste food fairly normally and doesn’t seem to miss the sense, but I do have to constantly remind him that what he just did in the bathroom wasn’t lemon-scented, and Jebus, light a candle, would you?

  21. @shanek: Um, excuse me, but we have a LOT more than five senses:
    That explains alot. Here I thought the aliens switched my body to a fat one and instead I find out they stuffed my body with sensor arrays.

  22. I’d be willing to get by without my 6th sense. It’s just as easy to con people out of money without actually using my psychic powers.

  23. I would definitely go for taste. Since most of the sensation of taste comes from smell receptors in your nose, I don’t really think it would be that great of a loss.

  24. Sight. I’d rather be blind, where people can assist you in getting around and whatnot, book readers, all that. But like many previous commenters, I could NEVER give up music. I’m tearing up just thinking of it.

    Although I tend to be a visual learner, but I’m sure I’ll get past that.

    Definitely sight (out of the traditional five).

  25. I would give up hearing.

    I love good food, reading and baking, and to do those, you need taste, smell and sight. Music and movies are nice, but I could survive without them, or work around to enjoy them without sounds. And I count every other sense absolutely necessary.

  26. @ballookey: I do have to constantly remind him that what he just did in the bathroom wasn’t lemon-scented, and Jebus, light a candle, would you?

    I’m pretty sure that this is a marriage constant, unrelated to the loss of his sense of smell.

  27. @carr2d2 and @vodyanoj: I’m with you. Even though I like to draw, I think that I’d rather give up my sight than lose the others. They are, IMHO, more intimate than sight in many ways, and communication through those channels is more personal and meaningful (to me) than a lot of the things I see on a regular basis.

    Of course, I’d have to get somebody to read me the Skepchick posts every day. Maybe with a different distinct voice for each author, like Jim Dale reading the Harry Potter books. That’s be kind of fun.

  28. Taste,

    In fact, I may voluntarily give that one up, if there is a surgery for that.

    It gets me into nothing but trouble.


  29. Im not givin up any of em, no way, no how, and you can’t make me!
    So there! Ha, I guess I told you guys :)

  30. Hearing. I’m half deaf already but I don’t find myself missing it.

    But. I read somewhere blind and deaf people were asked which sense they would rather do without and most of both groups said sight.

  31. Taste would be the least missed (and least dangerous to not have). It consists of just sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Most of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. Of course, that apple pie would smell/taste cinnamon-like but not sweet, but I could stand to lose a few pounds. :)
    Losing your sense of touch is extremely dangerous, and as a musician, life would be miserable without sight and hearing.

  32. I know I’m rather in the minority here, but I would definitely give up hearing, more by process of elimination than anything else. Touch isn’t even in the running: it would be too dangerous to live without, and I am a very tactile person in the first place. To never be able to feel a hug again is included in my nonreligious definition of hell. Sight would lessen or eliminate the pleasure I get from some of my favorite hobbies, such as photography, movies (including silents), balloon twisting, and looking at naked women. Taste: I need me some ice cream, dammit. Smell (ignoring the fact that it would also essentially eliminate taste as well) is too intimately connected with memory. No other sense can bring back an old, forgotten memory the way that smell can, and little feels like home so much as the smell of your lover as you sleep next to them.

    That just leaves hearing. I like music, but it’s never really been that big a thing with me. I tend to be bad with words, and really can do my best communicating when I can see someone’s body language so I feel that deafness, strangely, would be the easiest for me to adapt to in terms of communication.

    Oh, and despite the pretty serious nature of this post, if I lost my sense of humor I think I would really just die.

  33. I would give up purple.

    (Oh yes, and @Oskar Kennedy (LBB) COTW. But don’t get your hopes up Oskar. My last nominee got dissed, just because she “doesn’t actually comment on Skepchick”.)

    I am a Hedge

  34. No, No wait, my sense of despair over the future of humanity.

    Yah, that’s one I would like to give up.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button