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The Sunday Read: ‘The Forgotten Sense’


“Smell is a startling superpower,” writes Brooke Jarvis, the author of today’s Sunday Read. “If you weren’t used to it, it would seem like witchcraft.”

For hundreds of years, smell has been disregarded. Most adults in a 2019 survey ranked it as the least important sense; and in a 2011 survey of young people, the majority said that their sense of smell was less valuable to them than their technological devices.

The coronavirus has precipitated a global reckoning with the sense. Smell, as many have found in the last year, is no big deal until it’s missing.


Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Parin Behrooz, Carson Leigh Brown, Anna Diamond, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Emma Kehlbeck, Tanya Perez, Kelly Rogers and Margaret Willison. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.

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