What Can Covid-19 Teach Us About the Mysteries of Smell?

Losing smell is terrifying.

"People are unaware smell is important until they lose it. And then they're terrified."

We think that smell is less important to us than our other senses only because we're fooling ourselves. After all, you wouldn't eat a beautiful cake if it smelled like sewage, but you would probably try some ugly gloop that smelled like cinnamon. Smell scientists estimate that Covid could kick off a sort of global reckoning, forcing our conscious minds to recognize what our brains have known all along.

In this week's cover story, Brooke Jarvis reports on how the virus's strangest symptom — losing the ability to smell — has opened new doors to understanding our most neglected sense.

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