Face of the day



Most of us have been taught that we have five senses.

Sight,smell, touch, taste, hearing.

Five senses

Five senses

Aristotle has been widely credited with coming up with this classification. His ideas profoundly influenced

Judeo-Islamic philosophical and theological thought during the Middle Ages and continues to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals and revered as “The First Teacher” (Arabic: المعلم الأول‎).


It turns out that depending on how you count them we humans actually have 14 to 20 senses. The five we were taught in school were the most obvious ones that we could have figured out for ourselves. The other senses are less obvious and therefore more interesting.

The Harvard School of Medicine lists six extra ones that are pretty hard to argue against. Close your eyes, then touch your nose with your index finger. How did you know which one was your index finger without looking at it? How did you know where your nose was? Did you smell your finger to your nose? Did your sense of touch somehow tell you what the air molecules you encounter along the way to your nose feel like? Nah, that’s proprioception, your body’s awareness of where it is in relation to itself.

Maybe the most interesting one they left out is your sense of timing, which might seem like it’s only a sense in the way that fashion is a sense. But leading neurologists like David Eagleman think it’s the most important of all the senses, since it’s the thread that ties the rest of them together. An apple is just a series of different sensations without your sense of time telling you they’re all happening at the same moment. Still not convinced? Try staring at a white wall in a totally silent room. Your sense of time tells you how much of your life has been wasted because you didn’t take us at our word.

It’s also worth noting that this sense…can operate like a freaking superpower. For instance, if you’re walking in the woods and a bear growls in the bushes behind you and to your left, the bear’s growl hits your left ear a millionth of a second before it hits your right. Your sense of time is able to pick up on that infinitesimal difference and allows you to perfectly triangulate the bear’s location behind you.

If you were only relying on your sense of hearing, you would only know that the bear is somewhere on the left side of your body. Your ears don’t swivel around like a dog’s, so you would have to turn and use your eyes to pinpoint the bear. A blur of brown and black fur would be the last sight you ever saw.


Equilibrioception. Whether you’re slaloming down a slope or strutting down a street, this sense—otherwise known as balance—helps keeps you upright. Although vision plays a role in equilibrioception, the vestibular system of the inner ear is mainly responsible.

Nociception. If you’ve touched a boiling kettle or stubbed a toe, you’re likely all too familiar with nociception, the sense of pain. Recent research shows that what was once viewed as a subjective experience related to touch is, in fact, a distinct phenomenon that corresponds to a specific area in the brain.

Proprioception. Close your eyes and touch your fingertip to your nose. Quick: Where’s your hand? Unless you suffer from a deficit of this kinesthetic sense, you know where your hand is, even though you can’t see it. This sense, the awareness of where your body parts are, sounds silly—until you consider that without it, you’d have to constantly watch your feet to make sure they were planted on the ground.

Thermoception. You notice a chill in the air, so you don a jacket on your way to work. Later, as you enter your warm office, you shed that garment. That’s thermoception, the sense of heat and cold, which relies on temperature sensors in your skin to keep you from overheating or freezing.

Temporalperception. There’s no doubt that the perception of time can be subjective: Three hours spent at a party with friends may speed by, while a three-hour meeting can seem to drag. Yet our sense of time is rooted in biology. Research shows that the basal ganglia and other parts of the brain are responsible.

Interoception. When we take our internal perception into account, we have even more senses. These are linked to sensory receptors found in internal organs, such as those in the lungs that control respiratory rate.”


What about the senses we don’t have? We don’t have the amazing sense of smell that a dog has. Bloodhounds have noses up to 100 million times more effective than ours. Cats can see where we can’t as they only require one sixth of the light level that we need to see. Still, when you think about it the human body is pretty amazing. We take it for granted but we can do some really cool things. My Dad has a compass in his shoulder for example. Even though it is not a super power that has been proved by scientists my Dad can always tell me where North is and when I check with a compass he is correct. My super power is my ability to pick up vibes about a person within a few minutes. I can tell when someone is not genuine or is not a nice person very quickly. When I was a teen I picked up within a short period of time that a man staying in our home was a threat. The adults did not pick it up but my warnings about him turned out to be 100% correct.

What is your super power? Do you have any extra senses?


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  • Michael

    I have a sense of stupidity – it twitches strongly whenever I hear “Andrew Little” or “The Standard” and goes off the chart when someone says “The Daily Blog” and “The Greens”.

    • Bob

      Chemotherapy munted my proprioception. Kept on bumping into people and door frames, about 2cm out. Worst was ducking head to get under an obstacle. Recovered over time.

  • steve and monique

    Labour party members extra sense = Nonsense.

  • The Accountant

    I have a sense of entanglement. If something can be tangled or caught or tied in knots, I can do it. Intentionally or not (See what I did there?).

  • Murray Smith

    Common. where is Common ?
    The most important, yet rarest of the bunch !

    • intelligentes candida diva

      I am totally there with you Murray. My opinion is having an awareness and taking the time to be a little introverted assists one to then apply common sense.

      Here is the link about the death of common sense.


      • Murray Smith

        I presume the stepbrothers will want to hear the will being read.

        • intelligentes candida diva

          Looks grim for them

          • friardo

            Really? People have bemoaned the loss of “common sense” for thousands of years, but in fact what they are talking about doesn’t exist. Put simply we all have some sort of credo we think is sensible, but of course we don’t have that in common with sufficient numbers for it to be called common. What is called common sense is frequently nonsense to others. It’s a loose and indiscriminate term and best buried quietly with no mourners.

          • intelligentes candida diva

            I have sufficient common sense to understand and know that but thank you for the information :-)

      • pak

        Brilliant. A copy should go to every teacher and politician in the land!

  • intelligentes candida diva

    I love this analytical stuff about humans and how we operate.

    Analyse and discern situations would be natural abilities I have. Always results in lots of questions which annoys some people

    • friardo

      Some (most) people aren’t interested in a very wide range of things, let alone discerning or analysing them, and reality is annoying or even scary.

      • intelligentes candida diva

        A broad presumptuous statement, where is your evidence, or are you feeling ‘picky’ because I dont get that reply to my comment as I was referring to myself not ‘some (most) people’ given the topic question was
        “What is your super power? Do you have any extra senses?’

  • Trev_A

    A lot of people have a sense of entitlement

  • I can always find north. That is, until I visited Washington State in the northern hemisphere and found myself pointing due south when my senses “knew” I was facing north. I put it down to the fact I was facing the equator on both occasions. Generally, I have a very good sense of direction and most times I’m in an unfamiliar place can still find my way around.

    • Huia

      I can relate to that Duncan, Ive always had a good sense of direction and have always know exactly where I am in relation to North, that is until I got to Canada and I became a family joke as I didn’t know where I was. I put it down to my inner magnet being tuned to the south pole and when I got near the north pole it went haywire.

      • kehua

        I am the same up there, and the change in driving lanes plus a screwed up equator can fair complicate life , no doubt as down here it has been responsible for driving error.


    A sense of tension/friction when walking into a house or building without having met any people.

  • Benoni

    Of all those senses vision is dominant. The ears might locate the bear to your right and behind you but if you see it exactly to your right that is where you know the bear is. The eyes give location and identification, and equilbrioception and memory are also huge inputs to the visual cortex and the emergent is our marvellous vision.

  • spanishbride

    I never really appreciated the gift that is my eyesight until my pet dog lost an eye. She came home from the vet and jumped onto the couch and missed it by half a metre and landed on the floor. It made me realise that our eyes do a lot more than just see things.

    • intelligentes candida diva

      I know its not classed as one of the sense but when I was running and saw others from children to elderly with genetic mobility issues it made be feel humble for the ability I have

  • Huia

    I believe we have more than the five senses, I also believe we have lost the ability to use a lot of them….they have been dumbed down over time through lack of use.
    I know I have been somewhere and thought there was something off in the area, couldn’t see, smell, touch, taste or hear anything but you just get the sense this is not a place you should be in.

  • Edward Bufe

    I know of two others.Common sense and nonsense. Unfortunately I seem to have the latter

  • Just a thought …

    the sense of “impending doom”….. otherwise known as being a Labour / Greens supporter …..

  • paul468

    I regard my ability to Dowse for water a sense. I also think anything we add the word “sense” to is a sense because we think it is (therefore it is).

  • bluehibiscus

    I have a sense of the ridiculous.