Derek Tastes of Ear Wax

This documentary looks at the fact that perhaps one in every hundred people experiences a blending of the senses.

Imagine if every time you saw someone called Derek you got a strong taste of earwax in your mouth. It happens to James Wannerton, who runs a pub. Derek is one of his regulars. Another regular’s name gives him the taste of wet nappies. For some puzzling reason, James’s sense of sound and taste are intermingled.

Dorothy Latham sees words as colours. Whenever she reads a black and white text, she sees each letter tinged in the shade of her own multi-coloured alphabet – even though she knows the reality of the text is black and white. Spoken words have an even stranger effect. She sees them, spelled out letter by letter, on a colourful tickertape in front of her head.

Both James and Dorothy have a mysterious condition called synaesthesia, in which their senses have become linked. For years scientists dismissed it, putting it in the same category as séances and spoon-bending. But now, synaesthesia is sparking a revolution in our understanding of the human mind.

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  1. I’m a little bit skeptical about the conclusions that have been made in the non-synesthesiac control groups.

    For instance, at 25:00;It is easy to associate higher pitched notes with lighter colors, and darker colors with lower pitched notes. Is this really synesthesiac, or just an association between the contrasts of light and dark, low and high?

    Then again at 30:35, about the number lines and the keyboard test. Isn’t that just because it easier to handle one side of the (linear arranged) numbers on a keyboard? I automatically use my left hand for numbers under 6. This is because it is faster.

    I have my doubts in the claims of how common it must be among the general population. Conclusions like these are open for discussion, and these conclusions might even be false.

    But it is still an amazing documentary that shows the world synesthesia and it’s ‘maybe’ evolutionary advantages. I enjoyed.

  2. Great documentary. I’m a synesthesiac, so it’s great to learn about why I’ve been involuntarily seeing all these colors my whole life. 
    I agree with the comments people gave in the end, about not wanting to live without color synesthesia. Even though I don’t find much use for it in my day to day life it’s extremely entertaining.

  3. I have a similar condition in that when I hear numbers I smell farts.

  4. I have a similar condition in that when I hear numbers I smell farts.

  5. a good one video, it gives to inspiring for me to try ear wax.