Thursday, June 22, 2006

Put on Your Thinking Cap

Ten Monkeys

I read about this experiment on behavioral patterns, a very long time ago and I always wanted to share this with others. It was an eye opener for me in many respects. I am sure you will enjoy reading this.

Its about a group of ten monkeys and a hanging banana. This group of ten monkeys are put inside a glass room. In the middle of the room, a single banana is left hanging, just within the reach of the monkey’s jump. The glass room has numerous inlets fitted with water jets. As soon as the monkeys are put inside the room, all of them see the banana hanging in the middle. Now, every time a monkey tries to jump from the floor and reach for the banana, the scientists open up high powered water jets through the inlet holes and splash them on all the monkeys. This happens every time one among those monkeys go for the banana. Over a period of days, each of the ten monkeys tries its hand on reaching for the banana, only to be welcomed by instantaneous water jets being splashed on all the monkeys, causing deep pain and anguish. After a couple of days, what the scientist observed was that, none of the monkeys went for the banana. Occasionally, one of them, tempted, would go for the banana, but then all other monkeys would jump on this monkey, beat it black and blue and stop it from reaching the banana, fearing the impending water jets, even when no water jets were being splashed on them. The scientist had successfully internalized the fear and the cause and effect system of monkey going for banana - triggering a water jet - leading to pain and anguish.

This went on for while and then the scientist replaced one old monkey with a new monkey from outside. This new monkey, as soon as it entered, saw the other monkeys and a banana hanging in the centre and to its surprise no monkey was trying to go and get it. Having thought for a while, unable for figure out the reason, it instinctively went for the banana, only to be pounded by the other monkeys, beaten and thrashed to the ground. The new monkey wondered why other old monkeys would do that, because after all it was going for a hanging banana, something a monkey always does naturally. It waits for sometime, and then tries again, and again, only to be faced with the same reaction from other monkeys. Finally, it too sits quiet under the banana, like others. And the point to be noted here was that the fear factor was internalized in the new monkey, without having been subjected to any water jet treatment.

Like this, the scientists replaced one monkey after another until all the ten old monkeys, who had faced the water jets were replaced by a completely new set of monkeys. The banana still hung in the centre. Every time, a new monkey entered the room, it instinctively tried to go for the banana, only to be beaten black and blue by the others, until its natural instinct to jump for a banana was overcome and suppressed, atleast as long as it remained in the glassroom.

It was a simple experiment, but the results are a big revelation. The glassroom depicts a society and each new monkey, a new generation of life on this earth. The set of principles and situations at a particular point of time and for a particular set of people, are not the same over a period of time, but people’s reaction to such situations gets internalized and templated that others blindly follow or forced to blindly follow the rut, killing the natural human instincts of seeking knowledge and reasoning it by logic. Most of the superstitions and to great extent, religion as such in today's world, are a simple reflection of this process of forced internalization over thousands of years of human existence. Afterall, a phenomenon could also be a foolishness embraced by millions. If only we could apply our minds, we can atleast leave this world a better place to live for our children!!


RUMS said...

Yes, but dont you think things are changing slowly these days? To eradicate stupidity would be incredible...but it is happening with increasing awareness...

L>T said...

I agree with 'rums' things are changing. human beings evolve pretty slowly tho. Religion a big problem in my opinion. But with all the conflict in the world it is being shown for what it is. A trouble maker & way to divide people. It's amazing how seemingly rational people can believe such weird crap.

The experment with the monkeys shows alot about us. If it was humans & not monkeys, do you think race or culture would apply or make a difference?

Prophet of Doom said...

A good example to illustrate the weird yet widely prevalent entity named "convention" or "tradition" ...

@ l>t .. it wouldve made no difference if it was humans, regardless of race / culture et. al.

L>T said...

I agree, I wouldn't make a diffence. :)

The Soul Doctor said...

Please accept my deepest regrets for not having been able to reply to your comments in time. My profession is keeping me extremely busy, and leaves me with little inclination to look at my blog at the end of the day. I would be lying if I say that I dont have time though.:)!!

The Soul Doctor said...


You are right that things are changing for good, but just not at the required pace. For every one emancipated soul, there are two dogmatic ones produced. In our society and friends circle things may appear to be changing. But if you look mankind as a whole, we must include the rural majority as a whole. Overall, its a perception of change rather than change itself that is prevalent.


Religion is its true sense may not be all that crap. THe way it is construed, rather misconstrued is most definitely crap.

I agree with RAM. If it were human beings, it would make no difference. I can point a million examples. In fact my next blog is about a real incident highlighting the same. I am sure you would agree with me after reading that.


Yeah....traditions and conventions are stuff followed over a thousand years, even though most of us know that these were formulated with limited understanding or inputs or different situations prevailing at that point of time.

Somewhere,somehow we tend to believe that our forefathers were much more wiser, even when at the same time, we curse our imdt fathers for being "stuck up" in life and give a cool term for that as generation gap:))

Shashank said...

one word doc 'WOW' , so tru dat even i dint see the bigger picture.
i mean colleges and companies do that all the time , by changing rules and policies for evry set of newcomers thus avoiding resistance and smoothly ironing out the gaps. its now aftr reading this that saw the this is evident all around us.

Adriana said...

You wouldn't happen to know the name and scientist of the original article, would you?
Thank you