Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Friday, January 21, 2005

Monkeys & Bananas & Cages, Oh My!

Circa Bellum, at his eponymous blog, relates a great story he entitles "Hold That Monkey" that I remember from one of my Sociology classes in college. Here's a tidbit...
I read about a study done some time ago, I don’t remember all of the details but it involved monkeys. If memory serves me, they took a group of monkeys and put them in a caged environment. A step ladder was placed in the middle of the cage and some bananas were placed on the top of the ladder.

Every time a monkey would climb the ladder and attempt to get at the bananas, one of the scientists would spray the monkey with cold water. The monkeys soon learned to ignore the bananas on the ladder.

Variable One. Remove one monkey, and introduce a new monkey who knows nothing about the cold water treatment. The other monkeys watch in amused fascination as he goes up the ladder to get the bananas.

But! This time the researchers spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. Guess what happens. Next time new monkey goes after the bananas, the rest of the monkeys grab him and beat the shit out of him. He soon learns to ignore the bananas.

It doesn’t take long to get the monkeys conditioned to stopping a new monkey from going for the bananas. After a period of time, one by one, you have removed all of the original monkeys and replaced them with new monkeys. Yet, the monkeys, none of whom have ever seen anyone sprayed with cold water, will violently interfere with any monkey who goes after the bananas.

One or two generations and it ain’t the man that’s holding you back, brother monkey.
Go and read the rest!