Bigsly “mythbusting” basics.

I thought it might be a good idea to compose a “mythbusting” post because there is at least one person on Basenotes.net who seems to want to mischaracterize my positions (for those who care) on various scent-related issues. I don’t really care about what this person thinks, but I do want to try and prevent false claims being made about what I’ve said, though I’d be the first one to point out that like most people, some of my opinions do change over time. First, I’ll quote the post that accuses me of various things:

…You argued that the sample was adulterated. You’ve also argued people are stupid, or that they can’t smell correctly, or that they’re lying. I stated that the physical laws of chemistry and thermodynamics aren’t that weird, and basically, Occam’s razor would suggest that people aren’t all idiots or charlatans.

No, that isn’t the question, most of the things discussed in this thread aren’t 30 or 40 years old.

Maybe. I read one a few years back, but it has nothing to do with this discussion. IIRC, it was comparing an old bottle to a current P&G bottle and a current Shulton India bottle. They did GC or MS, don’t remember which, but it had nothing, nothing, nothing at all to do with going bad. IT was trying to compare the three to see if the Shulton India bottles were truly the same as the vintage, and how different the P&G bottle was. That has nothing to do with the fragrance being good. You can’t determine if an old bottle is good by comparing it to a new bottle from a different point of manufacture and from a different owner.

Of course not, and I just said why.

You have no evidence, only bias. You have no faith in others, only pedagogic correction and lecturing, again based on nothing. You are obstinate to anything and view all claims through a tainted lens of perceived obfuscation. No one who contradicts you can be honest, no proof that does not support your views can be verified.

While another person has already stated that they would not buy vintage from you based on your posts, I must now say that I would not buy from you, nor would I care to continue to read your bluster. Apparently no one but you, the true genius, seems to be able to piece together this conspiracy by a confederacy of dunces who claim their very own property, the fragrances they have smelled and you have not, was never anything less than perfect. The only way to prove it is through the granting of your approval after you have smelled it yourself.

In other words, I won’t have to read you hawk your blog again or beg for “spoiled” niche at supreme discounts, as you can join hankharvey on my ignore list. Bye.

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/386914-Anyone-ever-experience-a-fragrance-going-bad/page3

I have no idea why he claimed that I think people are stupid (nor do I think that my “nose” is superior); what I can say is that I spend a whole lot of time studying these concoctions, and I doubt many others have done the same. Moreover, I have often spoken about how I perceived certain scents as a newbie, and it was mostly enjoyable (though often confusing). I certainly don’t think I was stupid back then, but I had no doubt that others understood a whole lot more than I did (and were detecting notes, accords, aroma chemicals that I could not). All anyone has to do is to search Basenotes.net for my posts and see how often I try to help out newbies (and one will also see that my “MO” is not to insult them). As with most claims of this sort, it seems to be a personal attack disguised as outrage that the person in question said something “beyond the Pale,” the problem being that no such statement was made. In any case, I suggest that those interested go to that BN page and read the relevant posts, if this is of interest to you. Here, I am more concerned with dispelling “myths” people like this want to create about my opinions.

The first important thing to say here is that I’ve made it clear for a very long time now that my preferences have changed over time, and I assume that this is very likely to continue if I pursue this hobby further (which I intend to do). Thus, one could say that I don’t necessarily agree with myself, depending upon what point in time is being referenced. Because of this, I am not at all doctrinaire, though there are some generalizations that I have held for a long time. However, even here, this is not related to what someone else enjoys – that is entirely up to them, and as I’ve said multiple times, if you don’t think my blog is at all helpful nor interesting, why waste your time reading it? So, here are what I think some perceive as major areas of contention:

“Spoilage.”

The first point about this is that the claim always seems to shift, or at least means different things to different people. Some seem to think that a Creed scent they bought a few years ago is “spoiled” if the top notes seem different after a few months. Interestingly, the FromPyrogs author, apparently a supporter of certain spoilage claims, thinks that Green Irish Tweed needs to age for several months, in order to improve the smell! Then there are those who don’t realize that sometimes the liquid in the tube does smell bad (at first), and those who are lacking in olfactory self-awareness (meaning that they can’t imagine that their perceptions have changed rather than the scent). I’ve pointed out that not only do I try to avoid most of the fleeting top notes, but I have also encountered vinegar-like or varnish-like top notes (rarely), or as one person phrased it, a “burnt vanilla” quality. I have yet to experience a drydown that seemed wrong, let alone spoiled. In any case, how is one to address a subject that includes such different definitions, especially when most of the claimants seem unaware of the fact they don’t agree with each other about what they mean? And even for those who are willing to admit that it’s highly unlikely that what one may call “true spoilage” is common, I have yet to hear a reasonable argument about why someone should be criticized for enjoying vintage drydowns, even if they are slightly different than they were 30 or 40 years ago – why does that seem to greatly upset some people?

“Natural versus synthetic.”

Some seem to think that I “hate” aroma chemicals or specific ones. I am not a perfumer and I don’t have “insider” information (other than what a couple of people who worked in the industry in the 80s or 90s told me about cost of ingredients for designers, though Luca Turin has basically said the same thing). so as I’ve said before, my opinions in this context are based upon what one might call “good detective work.” From what I can tell (based upon lists of scents rich in iso e super), there are some aroma chemicals that seem to bother me if they are used at the upper end of what is (or was) considered accepted in these mass-market concoctions. For all I know, some of my favorite scents include a little iso e super, relatively-speaking, but I doubt I like any that are at the upper end. I think Creed has a done a good job blending naturals and aroma chemicals, such as with Green Irish Tweed, for example. Mostly I enjoy complex blends that contain relatively small amounts of aroma chemicals, in comparison to popular designer scents marketed in the last decade or so. And if someone enjoys scents I consider to be “chemical nightmares,” that’s fine with me. Some day I might even find myself enjoying the same scent. However, I think I’ve had enough experience by now to suggest that it’s unlikely I will certain scents.

“He hates top notes.”

No, I just see no reason to risk olfactory fatigue issues in order to try and enjoy fleeting top notes. Top notes that last a long time, such as lavender in many vintage designer “masculines,” are impossible to largely avoid. As I’ve said many times before. some people seem to be more interested in what I call the opening (I don’t remember reading this term used before I began using it), which includes the top notes. They may not find my perceptions/observations to be especially useful, but that is their decision. These people also seem to use a lot more sprays that I do, and that certainly could be a huge factor in cases where there is disagreement.

“He only wears vintage.”

I tend to wear scents that are at least ten years old (in what I think is the early formulation) perhaps five days a week. The aroma chemicals used in many recent designers (and some niche) seem to be used in too crude a way for my tastes (and I’d guess they would smell much better to me if more naturals were used). The main thing I look for in non-vintage are notes or note combinations that are not common in vintage, such coffee and chocolate. And I only wear scents for personal enjoyment so if you are looking for “panty dropper” advice, I suggest not wasting your time reading my blog, though again, that’s something I’ve pointed out more than once in the past.

“He hates certain notes.”

In 2008 I seem to have developed strong sensitivity to certain notes or aroma chemicals, beginning with lavender. Since then, specific sensitivities have come and gone, as well as overall sensitivity. Right now, my overall sensitivity is rather low, but my sensitivity to certain aroma chemicals seems to be high. All I can do is to disclose this perception to readers and let them decide what to make of it. The main thing, IMO, is to always be honest and to admit when you made a mistake that is relevant to the discussion. Some people can’t seem to do this, and my guess is that this is a common personality flaw. I simply do the best I can within the limits that exist. For example, if there are about 2,000 new releases each year, how is one to study even half of them in detail? All you are ever going to get, IMO, are very qualified opinions. This is why I suggest that those looking for “blind buying” advice find a reviewer whose tastes seem to be consistent with one’s own.

“Doing a GS/MS test is not useful.”

In the case of the Old Spice study I’ve mentioned a few times in the past on this blog, the person doing the study, clearly an aficionado, certainly would have noticed a “spoiled” odor, but what this BN member is claiming is ridiculous, because it’s not possible for anyone to know that there are absolutely no scents in existence that have not changed to the point that most people would think of them as spoiled in the same way that they think of spoiled food. Thus this BN members statement includes asking others to “prove a negative,” non-defined usage of technical terms, and the construction of a “strawman” argument. That is, this member does not explain what he means by a “spoiled” scent. If it means that it won’t smell exactly the way it did 40 years ago, who would argue with that? Who could even know for sure, since olfactory perception can change significantly even during the course of one day? If he thinks that one can “hunt down” bottle after bottle of the same 30-40 year old scent and almost all will smell horrible, like rotten eggs or whatever, then he is so “out of touch with reality” I wont waste my time on it (since anyone with basic common sense realizes this sort of thing would have been reflected in online commentary by now). Moreover, as I’ve said, there probably are a few bottles “out there” that don’t smell good enough to wear, but they are the exception that prove the proverbial rule, though as I’ve said for a very long time, I won’t speak to top fleeting notes, even for recent scents, and don’t care much about them.

“He is creating fake subscribers.”

Someone tried to post a comment in which he/she stated that I created fake subscribers to this blog. My guess is that this is a great example of Freudian “transference” (and I suspect this it the author of the FromPyrogos blog), because I have said since the “early days” of this blog that I am mostly writing it for myself. If someone finds it helpful, great; if not, why are you wasting your time reading it? I make no money from this blog, so I have no idea why anyone would care under these circumstances. Perhaps I am from an “older generation” and think along the old newspaper model, where there are writers who get paid and people who write “letters to the editor.” I view myself as more like the latter, and if I am missing something I hope someone will comment and tell me why I should care about how many subscribers there are to this blog. Moreover, I would not do anything intentional to discredit this blog, and creating fake subscribers certainly would be one such thing! And not only have I created no fake subscribers, but I don’t think one friend or relative has subscribed. If I had had pressed them to do this (which I wouldn’t do because it’s intrusive and unethical), I might have at least doubled the number of subscribers I apparently do.

“He misrepresents himself.”

This one is rather funny (to me at least) – as I mentioned in the last post, the FromPyrgos author accused me of misrepresenting my opinion about Animale Animale for Men, basically changing it from positive to negative because I supposedly discovered Jeffrey Dame created it and I supposedly hate Dame. This strikes me as something a mentally ill person would think (in particular, Paranoid Personality Disorder), and if that is the case I hope he gets professional help! I certainly disagree with Dame’s “turned” vintage scent claim (especially for drydowns), but I don’t know the man personally – he might be a wonderful human being who donates huge amounts of money to charity, for all I know. I won’t rehash all the points I made in the last post, so if you are interested you can go there are read about it in the UPDATE section. You can also read my 2008 and 2011 reviews of it on Basenotes.net (which he apparently didn’t think to look for) and also my recent one on Fragrantica.com, and decide for yourself. However, again I’ll point out that I pride myself on “calling them as I see them,” though my sensitivities change, so that, for example, I recently have enjoyed Spark for Men whereas in 2009 or thereabouts I might have called it a “synthetic mess.” Part of what I enjoy about this hobby are these pleasant surprises, and in fact I’m not on a “vintage hunt” for AAfM because I have a feeling it was reformulated badly (if I can find an old bottle I’ll update the post about it).

Lastly, remember that I don’t claim to be perfect, nor even a “professional” in this field – these are all just my opinions and attempts at understanding using the resources readily available to me.

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Filed under Criticizing the critics., The basics.

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