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  1. #1

    Default Blind sniffing vs. preconceived ideas

    After sniffing a couple of samples with missing or damaged labels, and being surprised at how few notes I could ID without knowing what to expect, I decided to run an experiment: when I visit my family for our weekly family dinners, I would wear my current favorite fragrance sample and see what they made of it.
    After noting that they had classy taste (my mother kept insisting L'air du Desert Marocain was the best of any of my 'fume samples, and I should wear it again; my baby sister fell in love with FM L'Eau de Hiver), I found that they generally only perceived a couple of notes at most. Douce Amere was "something you would cook with, like herbs" (accurate enough), and they insisted Aomassai smelled only of vanilla (this matches a lot of reviews I've seen, though not the official notes).
    The really odd one was for Etat Libre d'Orange, they of the Madonna-the-singer's marketing school. All three of them said that Encens et Bubblegum smelled like "flowers," "floral", and "very feminine." (Notes: peach, raspberry, vanilla, lily of the valley, orange blossom, musk, incense.) None of them could smell bubblegum, even when prompted, though that seems to be most of what pre-prompted reviewers smell.

    Anyone else run blind sniffing tests?

    Sidenote: there was an interesting research paper I found that even professional perfumers had dodgy accuracy at picking out more than 3 notes from a blend when blind sniffing; I find that interesting.
    Last edited by Onychophora; 2nd October 2008 at 05:47 PM. Reason: sig
    Ormonde Jayne Woman, Etat Libre d'Orange Encens et Bubblegum

  2. #2
    Aiona's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
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    Default Re: Blind sniffing vs. preconceived ideas

    Someone told me of an experiment in which they made Lifesavers which had the colors mix-matched with the flavors. (For example, green was orange instead of lime, or red was lemon instead of . . . uh, cherry?)

    And people tested them (without knowing the "flavors"), and thought they were new flavors. They couldn't identify them as mis-matched colors-flavors.

    I can't find that experiment anywhere. But I thought that would be an interesting experiment to do with homemade rock candy.

    Rock candy recipe =
    Last edited by Aiona; 2nd October 2008 at 06:06 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Blind sniffing vs. preconceived ideas

    It's even sadder with Jell-O; people will say Lemon is Cherry if you add red food coloring.
    (Source: )
    Ormonde Jayne Woman, Etat Libre d'Orange Encens et Bubblegum

  4. #4

    Default Re: Blind sniffing vs. preconceived ideas

    I know there was an experiment done with wine experts who were served white wine that had been coloured red - they thought it was a red wine. Also, when blind-taste-testing wine, a lot of 'experts' do surprisingly badly, often unable to tell the cheap plonk from the $1000/bottle stuff. The whole subject is very interesting - blind sniffing, tasting etc. I think our perceptions are not as purely single-sense based as some of us think they are.

    Now I want to do a blind sniff test!
    "It's now very common to hear people say "I'm rather offended by that." As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well so fucking what." - Stephen Fry

  5. #5
    ubuandibeme's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Chesterton, Indiana

    Default Re: Blind sniffing vs. preconceived ideas

    LOVE the blind sniffing! I only refer to notes of a frag after sampling...unless I've been enticed to sample a scent by reading what you fellow basenoters have written! - which happens quite often btw! OR, if the notes are printed on the factory sample card.

  6. #6
    odysseusm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Edmonton, Alberta

    Default Re: Blind sniffing vs. preconceived ideas

    I did an experiment with a class. I gave them Jelly Belly candies in three flavours. I told them the flavours ahead of time, and they had to match candy A with flavour 1. Except that I gave them one false flavour. And most people didn't notice, and still matched things up. So our other senses and preconceptions to play a large role. Food testers in a laboratory will view things in a special light that eliminates colour, in an attempt to be more objective.
    On the other hand, I do find it helpful (for myself) to know ahead of time what the fragrance notes are (or are claimed to be) in a scent. I'm speaking of the first time or two that I'm sampling it. Top notes are so volatile that they are easy to miss. And the segues between layers and elements is so complex that it is a lot of stuff to track. Knowing the elements gives me a framework into which I plug the particular sensations. But that is just how it works for me.

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

  7. #7
    Aiona's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
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    Default Re: Blind sniffing vs. preconceived ideas

    Twolf started a thread series (that I was not here for, but loved reading) called the "Blind Sniff" rounds. Here's an excerpt:

    ROUND 1 "Light'n'White"
    Sending: Twolf
    Sniffing: TaoLady, tdi, Moondeva;

    ROUND 2 "Leathers"
    Sending: tinker424
    Sniffing: Abigail, elf, Lady_in_Black;

    ROUND 3 "Mean'n'Green"
    Sending: Twolf (will ship this week)
    Sniffing: Sudsy, smelly dolly, purplebird7;

    ROUND 4 "Orienteering in the Orient"
    Sending: Lady_in_Black,
    Sniffing: Twolf, tinker424, dcfong;

    ROUND 5 "Sheep... rahz?"
    Sending: purplebird7;
    Sniffing: chocolatequark, Indiscreet, ___________.
    I found this very interesting reading. Here's a link to Round 1.

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