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

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