Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I R Monkey...courtesy C. R. Darwin

Original source unknown. But the story appears to have some basis in fact. Courtesy of a colleague who has been sprayed with cold water...

Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.

After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done round here.

And that, my friends, is how company policies are made.

Charles Darwin (February 12, 1809 - April 19, 1882) had a theory that men (and women of course) came from monkeys or apes. This was written about, debated, quelled and then re-institutionalized again and again until modern times when we decided to start looking for other reasons.

The thing about natural selection is that, well, it's natural. So hairy armpits, opposable thumbs and a twisted sense of life are all part of the filtering mechanism - more for what has become to be known as the humosapien (homosapien for all you realists).

It's funny though that after over 100 years of human decision making being influenced by Darwinism,  we have decided that it's no longer the truth behind our long, saggy arms or our unexplained sexual appetite.

What's amusing about this past century is that whatever we have grown up knowing in the 80's and 90's has come to be falsified or rejected. Take our favorite baby planet, Pluto. What fault is it of Pluto's that it ended up at the end of our solar system and has somehow now been thrown out of our little group of 8? Science evolves, humans evolve, etc. 

I'm curious about how different things would be if science was (really) regulated before it regulates us. Everything that is today usually can be attributed to what scientists foretold about discoveries they made a couple decades prior. 

All I know is that what we decide to do is never entirely our own decision. 

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