Are humans constantly but subconsciously smelling themselves?

Here is the opening of a lengthy abstract of a new paper by Ofer Perl,, and it may help explain why it is so hard to avoid touching your face:

All primates, including humans, engage in self-face-touching at very high frequency. The functional purpose or antecedents of this behaviour remain unclear. In this hybrid review, we put forth the hypothesis that self-face-touching subserves self-smelling. We first review data implying that humans touch their faces at very high frequency. We then detail evidence from the one study that implicated an olfactory origin for this behaviour: This evidence consists of significantly increased nasal inhalation concurrent with self-face-touching, and predictable increases or decreases in self-face-touching as a function of subliminal odourant tainting. Although we speculate that self-smelling through self-face-touching is largely an unconscious act, we note that in addition, humans also consciously smell themselves at high frequency.

File under Questions that are Rarely Asked, via Michelle Dawson.


Don't shake hands with Germans.

Never eating and browsing again.

This blog highlights inane research uncritically while going all Andrew Gelman on epidemiologists. I wonder why...

Well, we can't praise Trump for keeping US corona deaths at Standard Flu Season Levels.

Much better to rip into epidemiologists! Gotta unleash the hate somewhere.

It's only been 8 weeks (51 days since we reached 10 deaths). I'd slow your roll with the congratulations at the death toll being in the ~50,000 range. Talk to us in another month.

Steve, I know you have your hopes up that MILLIONS WILL DIE so you can look like one of the Very Smart And Serious People that populate this comment section. Keep your fingers crossed.

Mr. Lasers - if only there were numbers that existed between 50,000 and MILLIONS, then I wouldn't have egg on my face. Well played, sir.

Using CDC data for known deaths on Wiki, here is the 7 day average of increases in deaths over the past 37 days:

Mar 19 to 25…32%
Mar 26 to 1…..26%
Apr 2 to 8……. 17%
Apr 9 to 15…...10%
Apr 16 to 22…..6%
Past three days....5%

Around here that fits the definition of "exponential."

An exponential heading in a good direction.

The exponential function of total infections is unstable because the reproduction number changes. If the exponential function itself is unstable then if we say the pandemic is exponential it's really only an academic statement. A exponential function with a particular reproduction number would have no practical application beyond a short period of time. In this case, I wonder if it isn't better to just say it's fast spreading.

The total long-run growth is determined by the second derivative, not the first derivative. Learn some basic maths.

Your comment seems irrelevant and it does not seem to challenge what I wrote.

Except for Biden who is smelling little girls and young women.

That's Great news!

In related news, testing per day in the US has increased by 50% over the last 3 days.

I wear a mask
To stop
Smelling myself

Trump announced today
That the White House Dog,
Named Lindsay Graham,
Is able to detect
Covid 19.

He will be enlisted to smell
All of the pants of
Persons who meet with the President.

Lindsay doesn't mind
As long as
The President
Throws him a
Bone once and awhile.
And pats him on the head.

The GOP controls the Senate. Trump will be president until January 2025.

No bail out for you.

And Corn Pop was a bad dude. And he ran a bunch of bad boys. And back in those days -- to show how things have changed -- one of the things you had to use, if you used Pomade in your hair, you had to wear a baby cap. And so he was up on the board and wouldn't listen to me. I said, 'Hey, Esther, you! Off the board, or I'll come up and drag you off.' Well, he came off, and he said, 'I'll meet you outside.'

My car was mostly, these were all public housing behind us. My car - there was a gate on here. I parked my car outside the gate. And he said, 'I'll be waiting for you. He was waiting for me with three guys with straight razors. Not a joke. There was a guy named Bill Wright the only white guy and he did all the pools. He was a mechanic. And I said, 'What am I gonna do?' And he said. 'Come down here in the basement, where all the mechanics- - where all the pool builder is.' You know the chain, there used to be a chain that went across the deep end. And he cut off a six-foot length of chain, and folded it up and he said, 'You walk out with that chain, and you walk to the car and say, 'you may cut me man, but I'm gonna wrap this chain around your head.'

Donald, are you off your medications?

You are getting stale, repeating from your greatest hits. You won't win being so tired, because Trump is a master at what you rarely achieve. This is from yesterday's WH transcript.
"POTUS: No. Of course not…It was said sarcastically. It was put in the form of a question to a group of extraordinary hostile people. Namely, the fake news media.
Jeff Mason: Some doctors felt you needed to clarify that after your comments.
POTUS: Of course, all they had to do was see just — you know the way it was asked. I was looking at you.
Jeff Mason: No you weren’t sir. I wasn’t there yesterday.
Weijia Jiang: You were looking at Dr. Birx.
POTUS: What’s that?
Weijia Jiang: You were looking at Dr. Birx.
POTUS: I was looking at Bill. I was looking at the doctor. I was looking at some of the reporters. I don’t know if you were there. Were you there?
Weijia Jiang: I was there and I watched you ask her.
POTUS: You were there. You were there. You I never forget.
Jeff Mason: I wasn’t there yesterday.
POTUS: You were not?
Jeff Mason: No sir.
POTUS: Yeah. I didn’t think you were there."

What do you have from yesterday? Or the day before that?

You're sleepy Joe. And your ratings are awful.

Isn’t it normal to check yourself for BO? You don't want to offend, do you?

Not been showering much, lately, I take it?

Ultraviolet might work on B0, or maybe just very powerful light. We should probably start with very powerful light first, and work up to the UV later, maybe by January 2025.

We need to speed up research, not slow it down.

Do babies touch their faces with their hands as much as adults? Could the actual mechanism be a microbe conspiracy?

My pet theory regarding hand to face touching is there are 'friendly microbes'(currently classified) that compel teenagers and adults to touch their faces. These microbes are passed naturally from mother to child and have been around for 1000s if not 100s of 1000s of years.
The microbes reward is some byproduct we produce in our bodies when we are ill.

That’s what Joni Mitchell believes

Olafaction is life

Because nobody ever touches their eyes to check smells.

One undervalued advantages of wearing masks is that they prevent you from touching your face.

Are people who lack a sense of smell more likely to misuse personal pronouns?

Makes some sense. We have a keen sense of smell and aversion to rancidity and putridity. Smelling for infection and rotting would be common until modern medicine came along. Further, we know that certain mammals can be trained to identity illnesses with a simple smell test. The capacity to be aware of trouble via scent is well within us. I suspect as we evolve and medicine gets even better, this innate drive to face touch will disappear.

If you care about someone, remember to ask them "do you still smell?"

I find face touching is part of every day communication, it enhances speech and body language.

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