General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Which of these senses is chief: Sight, Hearing, Touch, Smell/Taste?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10191points) January 30th, 2013

Of our high senses, which is greatest? Is this question unfair? Unanswerable? Unreasonable?

Is it sight? Which we use to marvel at the beauty of the universe, and the myriad life forms.

Is it hearing? That allows us to hear the whisper of hot summer winds?

Is it touch? The warmth of a raging fire?

Is it taste? The gritty sweetness of a ripe pear?

Which of these senses do you most treasure? Is most valuable? Is CHIEF?

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18 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

Sight would be on the top of my list . . .but very thankful to have all…including sense of smell.

AshlynM's avatar

I’d have to say sound.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Feel free to support your answer.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Taste gets my vote.

El_Cadejo's avatar

For me it’d be sight then sound. Sight I think is for obvious reasons extremely difficult to navigate this world without sight, not to say it isn’t possible but there’s a lot you’re unable to do. The loss of hearing would be horrible though. I spend countless hours listening to music (I’m broadcasting a radio show right now) and to never being able to listen to music again would be pretty depressing to me.

Yeahright's avatar

Sight then sound. Total darkness would scare me. I’d feel helpless and insecure.

burntbonez's avatar

Sight seems more immediately useful than any other sense. Does that make it chief? Does calling it chief mean anything? Hey whatever. This is fluther. We are asked a question and we answer it. Don’t matter if the answer is meaningless.

ETpro's avatar

I’d prefer not to leave home without any of them, but if I had to say which compromises you most when lost, it’s touch. People lacking that sense can; without even knowing it; slice right through their hand while cutting food, bang into things and suffer bruises or even broken bones, put their hand on a hot frying pan and not know they are getting burned till they smell the smoke or hear the sizzling sound. Having a sense of touch is vital to survival. Those who have lost any of the rest learn to compensate.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Proof positive of why the rectum is the most important body part!


Response moderated (Spam)
zensky's avatar

Smell and Taste are the least important. Yes, it would suck to not be able to smell and taste food, perfume et al. But I could live without it. Sound is important, but not vital. It wouldn’t be a musical life – but many people who are deaf enjoy productive and wonderful lives.

I’d have to say sight.

May I add a wish that this remain but hypothetical alone for all the lovely jellies here – and they should never have to face such a horrible decision.

But GQ.

mattbrowne's avatar

When we look at the sensory processing power of our brain 80% get allocated to interpreting visual input. When it comes to the speed of making associations nothing can beat smell.

gambitking's avatar

Sight is by far the prominent sense, taking up the most brainpower and governing the majority of our decisions and actions.

Unbroken's avatar

@mattbrowne and @gambitking stole my answer. Our brains are visually dominant. In order to relate to other people effectively it is better no matter what your individual preference in the matter to cave to the masses.

Seek's avatar

I think there’s a reason that the complex eye has evolved around 50–100 times throughout Earth’s history. Photoreceptor cells probably evolved several times before the Cambrian explosion.

Sight is imperative to life in most cases, particularly for delicate Homo sapiens, who has little natural armour against things like falling rocks, predatory animals, or re-arranged living rooms.

I was originally tempted to say “touch”, but as long as you have eyesight, you can compensate at least somewhat for a lack of sensation. Touch only goes so far in helping someone cross a busy highway, for example.

mattbrowne's avatar

Touch is chief for human well-being (oxytocin).

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hearkat's avatar

Our ears do so much more than allow us to hear the speech of others or listen to music. The inner ear organ is very primitive and is formed in the first trimester in humans… it detects not only sound waves, but also vibrations relative to motion and spatial positioning relative to gravity, and it is doing this many months before we can see. We close our eyes when we go to sleep, trusting our auditory-vestibular system, which continuously collects and analyzes sound and motion, to alert us if something is awry.

Our eyes are limited to what is in front of us, but our ears provide us with awareness of the world all around us and beyond visual obstacles. Typically, we hear a falling rock (to use @Seek_Kolinahr‘s example) and are able to reflexively locate it with our eyes. There are creatures that are blind who rely solely on their ears to navigate through the world. I recently learned that there are parks that are cutting back on noise pollution because of the impact it has on wildlife.

Our brains may need to use more space and energy on visual processing, but that may well be because the ears became incredibly efficient many millennia ago. However, since our species has designed our world based on vision, the loss of that sense would likely be more handicapping to humans.

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