Mr. Ross Now Wants to Debate !

After refusing to mention my blog for a long time, despite claiming that hardly anyone reads it, the author of the FromPyrgos blog now wants some sort of debate. I generally like the idea of moderated debates, but after thinking about one in this context, I don’t really know what there is to debate. I feel that my blog speaks for itself, and I have never claimed (unlike Mr. Ross) that my opinions are never going to change. In fact, I’m sure I’d find things that I wrote in the early days of this blog with which I no longer agree! And as much as I often enjoy writing for this blog, I can’t ever imagine arguing that what I’m doing here is “serious.”

If he thinks I mischaracterized something he has written, he can simply write up a post and explain his position to his readers. If he wants to complain because he has occasionally found a “typo” error on my blog, I have no interest in thinking about that at all. If you want to point out a typo, then go ahead and do it, but if you think a person that writes a free blog is going to be perfect, I have no idea what world you are living in and I don’t want to think about it (yes, he has commented about typos on more than one occasion, but that was fine because then I just went ahead and corrected it, without posting the snide comment).

Mr. Ross suggested that fellow fragrance blogger, “Sherapop,” be a moderator for a debate. I think Sherapop could do a good job, but I’d prefer it if she simply asked us questions that she is interested in asking, because I am curious to know how others perceive some of what Mr. Ross and myself have written. I certainly know that many disagree with me, and for a very long time now I have said that I write for myself and those who use these olfactory concoctions in a similar way (and anyone who is just curious about what I’ve been doing and thinking). Mr. Ross, by contrast, seems to believe that he has discovered “the right way” to use these scents. He is entitled to that opinion, of course, but he can’t expect that everyone in the world will agree with him (anyone who has such thoughts may require help from a mental health professional).

However, I do want to address something here that I think is important to note, which is that there are different kinds of “issues” that can arise when discussing scents. Some are clearly opinion while others are clearly about who “got the facts right” (and if someone is wrong, why is it so difficult for some people to simply admit the mistake?). In other cases there may be a “simple misunderstanding” about what someone tried to communicate. In still others there is one person’s experience pitted against someone else’s. Then there are some “oddball” claims that seem to contradict each other, and if the person who made the claim would acknowledge that reasonable people might see such a contradiction and then address it, perhaps it could be resolved quickly, but of course that doesn’t always happen.

One example I’d like to mention here is Mr. Ross’ claim that a new Green Irish Tweed bottle needs to be sort of “aired out” so that some oxidation can occur, and after it does, the scent smells better. On the one hand, this is a scientific claim, and it might be possible to clear it up with a GC (gas chromatography) study, though the only way this claim could be refuted is if the two GC charts were identical. Otherwise, no matter how minute the differences, the claimant could say that those tiny differences are what he or she is perceiving as different. This exact claim came up on a recent thread, so it’s not just about something I or Mr. Ross has discussed on our blogs.

The contradictory element, to me, is how Mr. Ross has talked about old scents degenerating significantly over time (or allowing someone to make this claim on his blog), the reason being (if it does occur in the scent in question) that if oxidation makes GIT smell better why are vintage scents claimed to be “dreck,” “turned,” etc. (with Mr. Ross at the very least not objecting to this characterization)? This is clearly a scientific claim, so where is the scientific evidence? The Old Spice GC study Mr. Ross has referenced suggests that there isn’t much change, in fact! Here are the first two sentences of the Conclusion of that study:

The current Shulton and vintage Shulton products, overall, are very similar. What small differences exist between them may possibly be attributed to the age of the sample or point to a natural variation in components in some essential oil…

I’d really like an answer to this question, but just as when you watch a TV news show:

1. The issue that interests you may never be “covered.”
2. The issue may be covered in a way you consider inadequate in a significant way.
3. You probably don’t know who decides what is covered or why they made the decisions they did.
4. You can complain about poor coverage but it may “fall on deaf ears.”

Thus, if I don’t think my question will be addressed in a reasonable way (and from what I’ve read in his posts I can’t say I am hopeful about this), why should I waste my time on a debate. I have come to conclude that Mr. Ross is being unreasonable on numerous issues, though I am certainly not claiming that he realizes this is the case. In the example I supplied, he can’t seem to imagine that his perception of GIT may change over time because that is the nature of these concoctions vis-a-vis our olfactory “machinery” (with some notes or accords “spiking out” in a way that may be impossible to predict). If he wants to argue that my opinions are unreasonable, nobody is restraining him! At this point, I would rather have readers ask questions, and if there are none, then I don’t see any reason to waste more time here (I’d like to get back to discussing specific scents), on things that have already been addressed in detail.

NOTE: One thing that seems to have really irritated Mr. Ross is my surprise at his claims about the new Creed atomizers. He called it an “aftermarket” atomizer, and in my understanding of the term, this would mean that the spray mechanism and spray cap were replaced, which struck me as bizarre because he also thought the scent was not replaced. Even if this should be classified as a “simple misunderstanding,” I still think it is a rather bizarre claim. This is the first time I have ever heard of such a claim and to me it makes no sense at all; moreover, he didn’t provide any evidence for it ever occurring in the past. As I pointed out (because I tried to do this once), if you try to take apart a sealed atomizer, you may find that it breaks apart, and the bottle can’t be used again (or would exhibit quite a bit of damage). In any case, why doesn’t he just write a blog post about this – he thinks he has many more readers than my blog does, so what is his reason for refraining from doing this ?


Filed under Criticizing the critics.

5 responses to “Mr. Ross Now Wants to Debate !

  1. I am honored to be selected as the moderator for this historic event! Unfortunately, I am still in the midst of moving madness. I should be available again next week. I’ll need a few days to regroup and get my wits about me after this Sisyphean task.

    In the meantime, let us ponder the following question: Is sherapop a perfume collector? Or is she a hoarder? Could this perhaps be a distinction without a difference???? These and more pressing questions will be addressed in an upcoming post on “The Scent of Moving” at the salon de parfum. But first I must finish moving!!!!

    Looking forward to a rousing debate between two of my favorite gentlemen fragrance aficionados! Let’s do it!

    • I think I’ve made my positions clear and I’ve spent quite a bit of time articulating them on this blog, so I’m not sure I want to spend more time saying the same thing. As you said, there has been a kind of implicit debate for some time now, even if Mr. Ross refuses to mention this blog on his (so I find this new idea to be disingenuous). This is another reason why I don’t like the idea – it “rewards” him for not doing what he should have been doing for a long time, which is to simply explain his position on his blog. Moreover, as I learn and experience more, my position may change, at least to some degree, whereas Mr. Ross has claimed to have some sort of unchanging view of how humans perceive odors, despite my citation of several scientific papers, which suggests to me that this an “agree to disagree” kind of situation. However, if Mr. Ross were to tell Sherapop what he is disagrees with most in my blog posts, and she agrees that there is a question to be asked, I would have no issue with her asking her version of that question.

      I’m not interesting debating who has had the most “typos” on his blog or who writes more quickly, so while this may be a concern to Mr. Ross, I will let readers decide what value to place on such things. On the other hand, there are some issues that I do find interesting and worth discussing, such as how scents are classified. There was a kind of debate in the comment section of one post here, and I made it clear that after several years of experience and reading reviews, I didn’t think the current terminology (especially the word fougere) was adequate, and that I thought a better term or phrase was possible. I’m not sure what remains to debate on that subject. It’s a matter of opinion, clearly, and some will agree while others won’t. I don’t think I can make my position clearer than I did there, so again I’m back to wondering what there is to debate that hasn’t been addressed, at least on my end and to my satisfaction, which is why I suggested that readers submit questions if they have any.

  2. willread

    I think you guys are already ‘debating’, albeit in an unstructured and disparate way by separate blogposts (and occasionally by Ross’ alias ‘Abi’. I think a Sherapop moderated debate should be tried. If nothing else it will have entertainment value.

  3. weegee

    I’m always interested in what I perceive as sincere comments/personal evaluations of a fragrance, no matter the source. Over the past few years I have enjoyed reviews by both you, bigsly, and sherapop. Each of you has evaluated fragrances in ways that I have found valuable (when considering a purchase) without self-aggrandizement which I find, in all of its variations, extremely tiresome. I think a “debate” with Mr. Ross would be extremely tiresome as he appears to me to be a contentious individual hell-bent upon self-aggrandizement and I see no point in feeding this appetite.

    Instead, I would much prefer to read a back-and-forth conversation between sherapop and you, bigsly, about any fragrances about which you two choose. Now THAT would be interesting!

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