Wake Up and Smell the Story: Sniffing Out Health and Sickness

This episode of Distillations examines what is perhaps our most underrated sense, and ponders what life would be like without it.

Episode 191 | September 23, 2014

If you asked people which of their senses they most feared losing, they’d probably say sight or hearing. But what about the ability to smell? 

Producer Mariel Carr hit the streets of South Philadelphia to understand how a pervasive odor troubled neighborhood residents in the summer of 2014. Then reporter Jocelyn Frank tells us the story of Mario Rivas, a man who has lived his whole life without a sense of smell, and the great lengths he went to gain one.

Then, we talk to two smell experts, Pamela Dalton, a psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, and David Barnes, a professor of the history of medicine and public health at the University of Pennsylvania. Our guests discuss the connection between smelling, odors, and emotions, as well as the history of odors, germs, and public health crises.


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guests: Pamela Dalton and David Barnes
Reporters: Jocelyn Frank and Mariel Carr
Producer: Mariel Carr
Music: Courtesy of Audio Network