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Author Topic: monkeys, bananas, and ladders
Not R
The Red and the Green Stamps


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There's an old story I've often heard (without attribution, of course) quoted as gospel truth, restated eloquently here as a "parable." In short: Several monkeys (or chimps) are placed in a cage with a banana hanging over the ladder. When any monkey attempts to climb the ladder, the rest are punished (usually with a spray of cold water), and they learn to attack any monkey who tries to climb the ladder. Each monkey in turn is replaced with a new monkey, who learns to attack any monkey that tries to climb the ladder, until no monkey has ever seen the original punishment but all have learned this behavior.

Does anyone know the origin of this story?

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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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That story is almost certainly an Urban Legend. It sounds like a variation on the "100th Monkey Phenomenon".

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Terrified, mortified, petrified, stupefied... by you!

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anue
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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At my Duke TiP class, our instructor (a Duke graduate) re-told us this story. I don't know if it helps, but that might add to its veracity..

Tree "no, it might not" Hugger

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om mani padme hum

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variable
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
It sounds like a variation on the "100th Monkey Phenomenon".
The Hundredth Monkey phenomenon, at least as explained under that name, was supposedly a demonstration of a collective consciousness or subconscious for several seperate colonies of monkeys. This, on the other hand, if true would just be a demonstration of socialized norms being effected amongst a single group of primates and wouldn't really be at all surprising.
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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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The chimp/ladder/banana story is not to be believed regardless of its imaginary potential for being true. It reeks of UL from top to bottom. Especially unbelievable is the idea that "all the chimps are simultaneously sprayed with pepper spray". How would they accomplish that short of fumigating the entire enclosure? What grant-giving body would support this research? Where is the original research paper, and where was it published?

The reason it resembles the 100th Monkey Phenomenon is because both are Urban Legends.

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Terrified, mortified, petrified, stupefied... by you!

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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Up in a Tree Hugger:
At my Duke TiP class, our instructor (a Duke graduate) re-told us this story. I don't know if it helps, but that might add to its veracity..

Tree "no, it might not" Hugger

University instructors (and professors) believe Urban Legends just like anyone else.

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Terrified, mortified, petrified, stupefied... by you!

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Paul Unwin, I Presume
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Even if it is true

a) Those bananas are certainly rotten by now, and
b) What is the incentive for a new monkey to join in the assault on those reaching for the fruit? Sure, he himself gets attacked several times when he's a "newbie" (hmmm...) but when another monkey goes for the fruit, what is gained by joining in the attack? I doubt he'll recieve retribution from the rest if he simply decides not to join in, though I could see how such punishment might arise.

I wonder, though, if we see things like this in online communities. I can't come up with a specific example, but I think I've seen situations in which newbies to a board (not necessarily this one) are jumped by the community "enforcers" for a transgression that may have caused problems in the past, but is now benign. I wonder....

Paul "signifyin' monkey" Unwin

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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Unwin, I Presume:

. . . Those bananas are certainly rotten by now . . .



Huge happy grin!

quote:

What is the incentive for a new monkey to join in the assault on those reaching for the fruit?



To maneuver himself more into the "in group" and reduce his status as a tyro.

quote:

I wonder, though, if we see things like this in online communities. I can't come up with a specific example, but I think I've seen situations in which newbies to a board (not necessarily this one) are jumped by the community "enforcers" for a transgression that may have caused problems in the past, but is now benign. I wonder....

I had thought this was the whole point of the allegory; we *see* it happening, right in front of our eyes, as new members get scolded for such grave sins as misspellings, grammatical errors, repeating the hoariest of old ULs, failing to search for a topic before asking about it, etc. etc.

It's sort of like one's first "Bookachow." It feels good; it gives you a sense of "really belonging." And our primate consciousness places a VERY high emotional premium on social belonging.

(In a state of nature, it literally means life over death.)

Silas (NFBSK, YOMANK, and Don't Hang That Munchkin [hand me the pliers]) Sparkhammer

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When on music's mighty pinion, souls of men to heaven rise,
Then both vanish earth's dominion, man is native to the skies.

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Paul Unwin, I Presume
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
I had thought this was the whole point of the allegory; we *see* it happening, right in front of our eyes, as new members get scolded for such grave sins as misspellings, grammatical errors, repeating the hoariest of old ULs, failing to search for a topic before asking about it, etc. etc.

But aren't those actions wrong in their own right, so to speak? The monkeys were punished arbitrarily for an arbitrary action. What is something we've seen people do here or elsewhere that was once wrong but is now arbitrarily taboo?

quote:
It's sort of like one's first "Bookachow." It feels good; it gives you a sense of "really belonging."
Like making Silas grin.

Paul "never trust a monkey" Unwin

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George Kingfish Stevens
Deck the Malls


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For the benefit of those who did not read all the OP, it seems the question is "Does anyone know the origin?" not "Is this true?"
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Joostik
The First USA Noel


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What’s wrong with this experiment?

Chimpanzees are highly social animals. Put five of them together in a cage, first thing they will do – even before looking for food – is establishing a social ranking order. Put bananas in the cage. The first one who will be allowed to get the fruit is the Top ranking or Alpha Ape. For any other chimpanzee to try first would result in immediate punishment from the Alpha Ape.

So the Alpha Ape tries to get the bananas. They all get sprayed (in most versions with water). Will the Alpha Ape now get mobbed by his underlings? Very unlikely. He’s the Boss, no matter what.

Put another Chimp in the cage. The Alpha Ape will not let him near the bananas. Should the newcomer become Alpha Ape himself, he will try. And all get sprayed. And so on.

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guruwan2b
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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It is re-told here on this site. Binghampton U in NY.

But no origin.

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Too much of this navel gazing and we'll disappear up our own arses.
Danvers Carew

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anue
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Barns & No Bull:
quote:
Originally posted by Up in a Tree Hugger:
At my Duke TiP class, our instructor (a Duke graduate) re-told us this story. I don't know if it helps, but that might add to its veracity..

Tree "no, it might not" Hugger

University instructors (and professors) believe Urban Legends just like anyone else.
Aye, I know, hence the interym (sp?), but we were talking about animal experiments and it was relevant in our class..

Eh, this is a useless post.

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om mani padme hum

Posts: 2306 | From: tennessee | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

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