Schnozzology, a pseudoscientific hoax

From the April 2, 1899 edition of the New York Times, we get an article about “nasology”.

The article claims to be a reprint from the London News. I am suspicious of the dates, it being likely that the London publication was on April 1st, or April Fools Day. That and the fact that I cannot find any reference to this supposed person or his works makes me feel it was a fake. If so, it is still enjoyable.

Don’t be scared by the copyright warning, it is from 1899 and so in the public domain.


WHAT NASOLOGY TEACHES. From The London News. Graphology, palmistry, and all the other new “sciences” which are employed for the detection of character will find a troublesome rival in the discovery of Mr. H. T. Peck the great “nasologist.” It is not by his fingers, nor by his palms, but by his nose, declares Mr. Peck, that the inner qualities and characteristics of a man are revealed. What is your favorite perfume? asks the nasologist of his patient, male of female. Tell me what scent you put upon your handkerchief, or what soap you buy for yours washstand and I will tell you what manner of a man or woman you are. The sincere lover of the scent of violets, for instance, is a true enthusiast for beauty of form, color, and sound. But many only affect a passion for simple odors; their real inclinations tend towards the compound fascinations of eau de Cologne, patchouli, and other artificial odors. Persons who perfume themseves with chypre or with peau d’Espange may be set down as “indolent, chattersome, wasteful, and with a tendency to obesity as they advance in years.” Prudent folk ought to be on their guard against all such as perfume themselves with musk. A taste for musk is an indication of brutality of character; but if the liking for musk be combined with a liking for some other scent the brutal tendencies of the musk-lover will be qualified. The most terrible of all scents, as revelations of character, is that of corylopsis. Any wholesome-minded man or woman who is conscious of a perverse inclination towards corylopsis ought to mortify the nose by total abstinence, exactly as a person with a tendency to alcoholism should mortify the mouth. “No man should commit so fatal and error,” says Mr. Peck, “as to think of marrying a lady who perfumes herself with corylopsis.” The true nasologist, after the diagnosis of our case, will tell us what we ought to smell in order to be cured of our specific bodily, mental, and moral ailments.

I would like to know how Mr. Peck (not this Peck, as far as I can tell) decided what smell meant what. If this was a hoax, it is likely that the author (Peck or not) decided that he just didn’t like the smells listed. Maybe he had a fat and lazy father in law who liked chypre? Did the boss smell of musk? Did he get turned down by a woman who later found a woman, and perfumed herself with corylopsis?


1 thought on “Schnozzology, a pseudoscientific hoax

  1. Pingback: Talk louder, I can’t hear you! | FlowCoef

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