Oliver Sacks on ripe bananas

6 minutes

How the ‘Island of the Colourblind’ made Oliver Sacks rethink ‘normal’

In 1993, inspired by H G Wells’s short story ‘The Country of the Blind’ (1904), the renowned neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks set out to study life on Pingelap – a small Micronesian island where an estimated tenth of the population has achromatopsia, a rare genetic disorder that leaves people close to or entirely colourblind. The results of Sacks’s investigation, compiled in his book The Island of the Colorblind (1996) and explored in this brief animation featuring audio excerpted from a 1998 radio interview, attests to the brain’s – and societies’ – astonishing ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Animator: Patrick Smith

Producer: Amy Drozdowska, David Gerlach

Website: Blank on Blank

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter Sign up
Follow us on
Facebook
Like

‘Aeon is consistently the place to find excellent, provocative and thoughtful writing.

One of my favourite places to find new writers and new ideas.’

Professor Sophie Kerttu Scott, University College London

‘Thought-provoking, eclectic, open-minded and user friendly.

Aeon is like no other site on the internet.’

Larry D, UK, Friend of Aeon

‘Aeon’s combination of intelligence, integrity and flair is vanishingly rare – and I am very grateful for it. It is becoming an indispensable presence in the digital world for those who believe that ideas matter.’

Tom Chatfield, writer and commentator on digital culture

‘Aeon is what readers and writers dream about. It is wide in scope, without ever being shallow. It offers stimulating issues, yet never seeking to be tantalising.

Publishing at its best. I love it.’

Professor Luciano Floridi, University of Oxford

‘Aeon, for me, continues to be one of the best places to spend a quiet afternoon, in the company of some of the most brilliant minds around.’

Shivam C, India, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.
But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Essay/
Mood & Emotion
The myth of ‘mad’ genius

The Romantic stereotype that creativity is enhanced by a mood disorder is dangerous, and dissolves under careful scrutiny

Christa L Taylor

Essay/
Cognition & Intelligence
Gesture talks

Across vast cultural divides people can understand one another through gesture. Does that make it a universal language?

Kensy Cooperrider