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January 04, 2023



All those things were extremely common things back then, so I would not worry about it. (I have not run across an *oil* dude not paying his workers, just because I've read fewer oil books, but... stiffing or shortchanging workers when you thought you could was definitely a thing.)(er, *is* definitely a thing, see also insisting on paying people via for-charge debit cards, requiring them to go through security screenings before they clock in, various forms of wage theft...)

Sometimes old fiction books explain the magic smelling powers as someone having absorbed a lot about geology, etc. so as to be able to see where things are likely, but saying they can "smell" water or gold or oil is interpersonally easier than trying to explain this to a "but this site doesn't look any different from that site" poor-observation-skills skeptics. Other times you just plain have seventh-son-of-a-seventh-son/magic-stick stuff going on. (other times they have a magnetic-headed staff sticking to the place in the cave floor under which there is a copper deposit but not where there is iron and I shake my head and sigh.)


KC - that IS a magic stick. and maybe a magic confirmation bias stick.


My best guess is that the author knew a tiny bit about magnets and thought there were probably magnets for each type of metal, but who really knows?

Anyway! You can probably do better than that!

Also it is possible to literally smell oil, in some cases (when there's just enough saturation of the ground or contamination of water, some people can smell it and some can't)(our household has two noses and those noses are on the opposite ends of the average-nose-sensitivity spectrum, so I have no problem believing that one cowboy out of 20 can smell something the rest of them absolutely can't - and that goes double if the other 19 smoke and the one doesn't!), so you've got that going for you as well: it is in fact more plausible than smelling treasure! :-)


KC - well, I was on my way to finding that they have invented: " ... highly sensitive electronic noses called sniffers that can 'sniff out' hydrocarbons" but I was waylaid by the discovery that some people get addicted to the smell of gasoline.


Like, "addicted to shopping" addicted, or physiologically-dependent addicted, because if the latter, then I definitely want to know more, but if the former, eh, I know people "addicted" to air fresheners, perfumes, the smell of the woods, etc. and also know someone who finds the scent of bleach very soothing and honestly I kind of like the smell of windex myself, so...


KC - what I read referred to dopamine and serotonin, so I'd say physically addicted.


But the dopamine hit you get from getting a "like" on a facebook post isn't the same as a chemical dependence a la nicotine exactly? (but yes, you're right, the line is fuzzy)(I've got alllll sorts of opinions about drug dependence, though, too; is it dependence if *you still have the condition the medication is ameliorating* or only if you can't get off the med once the physical problem has gone away?)

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