Our senses are at the heart of how we navigate the world. Whittling this high-powered and deliciously varied palette down to just five does a great disservice to the sensory experience, Sensational argues. In fact, we could have as many as fifty-three – and they could explain such mysteries as why we kiss, in what way music is a form of emotional currency, and how a dairy-rich diet strained initial Euro-Japanese relations.
Ashley Ward embarks on a sensory expedition to answer all these questions and more. Why do women have a better sense of smell than men? Has the iPhone changed how we touch? Does the Danube really look blue when you're in love?
From the power of cuddling to what canine bowel movements can tell us about geomagnetic fields, Sensational is a surprising look at how our brains shape the way we interpret the world.
A born-and-bred Yorkshireman, Ashley Ward is the author of The Social Lives of Animals and is a professor in Animal Behaviour at the University of Sydney, where he specialises in the sensory behaviour of animals. His career has taken him around the world, from studying krill in Antarctica to sampling sensory deprivation tanks in Australia. He has published over 100 scientific journal articles and a highly cited academic book, Sociality. He is also the author of the bestselling audiobook, Animal Societies. In addition to his professional accolades, he has 4:20 vision and no sense of smell or taste.
"[An] infectiously enthusiastic survey of the human senses [...] underneath the entertainment this is a serious and thoughtful book"
– James McConnachie, Sunday Times
"A rollercoaster combination of science, cultural history, rumour and schoolboy humour"
"Combining biological science with history, culture, sociology and personal reflections, this is a wide-ranging and highly engaging read"
Enlightening and digestible [...] Sensational is not only a rich mine of information, it teaches tolerance and understanding [...] Listening to his book is a delight"
– The Times
"Ward has conjured up a thrilling – and revolting – world of sensory overload in the style of a goofy lecture. Both learned and irreverent, he can be existentially disturbing and extremely funny in the same paragraph – a talent that could make this a future classic of popular science"
– Mail on Sunday
"A dazzling account of how we use sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell to navigate the world"
– Financial Times
"Ward is more than qualified as our tour guide into the dazzling world of senses – both our own and those of other animals [...] an impressive journey"
– BBC Wildlife
"Enjoyable popular science"
"[An] eye-opening pop-science treatise [...] [Ward] packs in innumerable fascinating details [...] the delivery benefits greatly from the author's stylish, evocative prose [...] this will change how readers see the world"
– Publisher's Weekly
"Absorbing, surprising and at times profound. After reading this, reality will never be quite the same"
– Prof Dave Goulson, author Silent Earth
"It is nearly impossible to grasp what other animals smell, see, or feel. Ashley Ward's dive into the way we and other species interpret the surrounding world offers astonishing insights"
– Frans de Waal, author Different: Gender Through The Eyes of a Primatologist