Can monkeys figure out how to use a hotel key? The real question is whether they can figure out which room the key goes to… but I digress.
The real lesson from monkeys (for our monkeys’ blog) is told in an article from PsychologyToday.com in an article titled What Monkeys Can Teach Us About Human Behavior: From Facts to Fiction.
The article is based on a story that goes like this:
A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.
After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up. After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation.
The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.
The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.
What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.
This story has been repeated in many motivational talks through the years, to stand for the premise that if it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on the other monkeys, what would they say? The reason the monkeys continued to beat up any new monkey trying to climb the ladder is because, “I don’t know, it’s just the way we do things around here”.
Now… that’s a wonderful life lesson. However, it just never happened. There was some studies on monkeys, but none that were this specific. I guess they could have told us stories about monkeys who eat swordfish, and we would believe it.
When I read this story… and the fiction of the story, I thought of metaphors involving pharmaceutical companies or politicians. Pharma, because they pitch drugs for headaches that they claim have been tested with, “ask your doctor if this drug is right for you” and then they go on to say that this headache pill causes everything from hives to death.
As to politicians, they tell us stories about poverty or pain that make for good stories… but just aren’t based in fact. Anything to get elected, and we are tired of it.
I said all that to say, let’s let the monkeys enjoy life. They don’t effect us. Do they really need to teach us a lesson?
And for pic o’ day, here’s another lesson from animals… when there is too much TV watching:
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