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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why no one wants to monkey around with how things have always been done

I came across this story in an e-zine from a technical society. It appears elsewhere on the internet with no documented source so I feel free to pass it along.

Three monkeys are locked into a room that contains a banana suspended from a rope. The dominant monkey grabs the banana, which triggers an icy shower. The other monkeys make the attempt with similar results. Finally all three of them give up on eating the banana. Then one of monkeys leaves and another comes in to replace it. The new arrival immediately makes a move for the banana. Naturally the other two monkeys react violently to prevent this. The new monkey soon learns not to try eating the banana. Another of the original monkeys departs and a replacement arrives. It too is made forcefully aware of the no-banana rule. Finally, the last of the original monkeys departs. The new monkey who arrives is quickly convinced to comply with the rule that no matter how tasty the banana looks, and how easy it could be grabbed, it must not be touched. None of the remaining monkeys know what will happen if they try to eat their favorite food, but the prevailing culture prohibits it even being considered.

Does this story not provide some food for thought about experimenting on how things have always been done? Be careful though, you might earn a cold shower (or worse) for the attempt! Worse yet, you will very likely discover that the banana can be plucked, but those in power will get to eat it. Make sure you at least get a taste for being the one who questions the status quo.


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