QM is a series by Kristin Robbio, where she aims to debunk common myths using her baseline knowledge of science, technology, and ability to strategically research random shit through Google.
A lot of what we learn as kids isn’t true. Obviously, it can be difficult for adults to explain to kids a lot of complex concepts such as why the sky is blue or how we digest our food. While teachers, parents, etc. can try to put these things in simplistic terms for younger generations, adults often find it easier to use blanket statements or tell straight up lies to better communicate an abstract or complicated ideas. Makes sense, right?
Unfortunately, this does an injustice to people everywhere. We grow up believing some of the basic ideas we learned at a young age are true and matter-of-fact, when in reality, we’re living a lie—or at least, an uninformed truth.
One of the biggest misconceptions we learn in the first years of our education is about the “5 Senses,” an extremely fundamental lesson that takes less than a day to explain to a group of 6-year-olds. Whether it be through Haley Joel Osment’s portrayal of a demented child or your own personal experience of undefinable sensations, you probably know that there’s more to the story.
When you think of “The Senses” you’re most likely considering the direct, organ-based senses: touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing. These all have an obvious correlation with a particular organ on the body (i.e. touch is sensed through the nerves on your skin, taste is sensed by your tongue in your month), but what about pain? Heat sensations? Balance? We feel these things, but we aren’t taught that they are one of the fundamental “5 Senses.”
Neurologists agree that there are between 9 and 21 describable human senses, divided up primarily into either somatic or interoceptive senses. Somatic senses are what the outer body experiences, including (but not limited to) the “5 Senses,” pressure, heat, and pain. Interoceptive senses describe what you experience internally—balance, organic senses (i.e. hunger, thirst), and proprioception. Each of these specific sensations are something you’ve been experiencing your whole life—you probably just didn’t know the word for it.
When you take a look at the Big 5, you can see that each sense is a broad descriptor that gives you (or, in this case, 6-year-old you) the tools to construct ways to interact with the world, but when examined closer, each has more depth that allows you to interpret the world. Our adult influences weren’t trying to trick us, rather they were giving us the fundamentals to be able to later understand complex emotional and physical feelings we couldn’t then comprehend.