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The Hidden Power of Smell: How Chemicals Influence Our Lives and Behavior

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The main purpose of the book is to provide insight into an area that humans often take for granted. There are wonderful and exciting stories of organisms using chemical signals as a basis of a sophisticated communication system. In many instances, chemical signals can provide more detailed and accurate information than any other mode of communication, yet this world is hidden from us because of our focus on visual and auditory signals.​ Although we have a diversity of senses available to us, humans are primarily auditory and visual animals. These stimuli are sent to the more cognitive areas of our brain where they are immediately processed for information. We use sounds to communicate and music to excite or soothe us. Our vision provides us with communication, entertainment, and information about our world. Even though our world is dominated by other stimulus energies, we have chosen, in an evolutionary sense, either auditory or visual signals to carry our most important information. This is not the case for most other organisms. Chemical signals, mediated through the sense of smell and taste, are typically more important and are used more often than other sensory signals. The world of communication using chemicals is an alien world for us. We are unaware of how important chemical signals are to other organisms and we often overlook the influence of chemical signals in our own life. Part of this naïveté about chemical signals is due to our cultural focus on visual and auditory signals, but a larger part of our collective ignorance is the lack of information about chemical communication in both popular and scientific writings. The popular press and popular writings virtually ignore the chemical senses, especially in regard to their role or influence for humans and our human culture. Academic books and textbooks are no better.

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