I’ve been a Cecil loyalist for some time now, but with his 18-Jun-1999 column, my confidence has been sorely tested.
Regarding specifically his piece about the ostensible deodorizing properties of stainless steel:
My guess is that Unca Cecil and Larasaurus have fallen victim to one of the most common logical fallacies around: assuming that just because B followed A, A caused B. Sure, things often happen just that way, but there are times when A has nothing at all to do with B.
The probable explanation for what they experienced is the psychological effect called “acclimation”, which roughly means “getting used” to something; in this case, a strong odor. I’m sure we’re all familiar with experiencing strong smells on occasion upon entering someone else’s home, which before too long we unconsciously adapt to and can no longer readily detect. I strongly suspect that this is the key operating principle in the “amazing stainless steel de-stink scenario”.
If I recall my psychology correctly, the stronger the offending sensation, the faster the acclimation process, but I could be all wet about that part. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Larasaurus’ pal Jonathan would have become less and less objectionable over a fairly short period of time, stainless steel or no.
In short, Cecil, your theory stinks!