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The Smell of Fear: Anomalous in the Olfactory?

If you could anticipate subtle changes in the environment with your five senses in ways that others can’t, how would you imagine this occurring? What if, when someone was being dishonest, you could collect an odd greenish hue emanating from them in your periphery? Or what about a noticeable electric sensation tingling the tips of your fingers when you shook hands with someone who found you attractive?

Using one’s imagination, it’s interesting to consider how things might appear around us if, rather than using extra-sensory perception (ESP), heightened awareness could be achieved using our five known senses. What would people’s innermost thoughts sound like as they rattled past one’s earlobes and into the consciousness of an unsuspecting eavesdropper? What would emotions like love, happiness, sadness, or fear smell like if they had particular aromas?At the Ask Doc Paranormal website, a recently ordained minister named Lydia from Butte, Montana, claims she can actually sense through smell whether couples she is marrying are compatible. “When couples stand before me, I can sense by scent alone, if these two individuals are meant for each other,” she claims. Lydia also says she has, in the past, been able to “smell” subtle differences in DNA and other minute traces of the human condition around graveyards and spooky locations. Lingering around places where the dead lay dreaming seemed to be having a bit of a negative impact on her life, so Lydia decided she would “do something positive for humanity” and undertake ministerial duties, whereby allowing her to unite young couples in holy matrimony.

Specifically, Lydia describes catching “the acrid odor of marital misery” around the time she has couples take their vows, even describing one incident where an elderly couple in their late 80s and early 90s married, only to have things turn sour the night of their wedding dinner! The newly wedded bride, disgusted with her husband’s excessive love of scotch, “packed her bags, moved into a retirement community, and filed for divorce.” Lydia claims about 40 percent of her marriages end up this way… and that her overactive olfactory can detect it before it happens!

Especially when it comes to human types, this is a rather odd thing to have manifest in the psychic realms of predictability. When it comes to animals, using the senses in extraordinary ways is an everyday occurrence… but what happens when, for instance, a feline is able to catch the scent of death before it happens?

Earlier this year, the English Telegraph reported the story of Oscar, a black and white feline who had been hanging around the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence, Rhode Island. There, the furry fellow has a rather odd reputation for being able to sense the oncoming death of patients, who he often will accompany in their last hours by laying beside them. Geriatrician Dr David Dosa found the cat’s ability so unique that he compiled a report detailing 50 instances where he observed the cat’s appearance preceding the death of a patient Oscar had visited.

Dosa supposes that Oscar is able to detect ketones, which are biochemicals given off by dying cells that create a distinct odor some animals can perceive. In fact, there are also a variety of reports where dogs have the apparent ability to smell cancer. Therefore, could it be possible that a handful of humans, like Lydia the minister, might also be able to detect minute scents that are indicative of things to come?

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Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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