My girlfriend calls me monkey. This is because I’m quite a hairy and very cheeky. But its also because she knows it annoys me a little bit. Which is fair enough, I deserve this because I call her HitamPudding. Hitam is the word for black in Indonesian and she cannot get her head around the idea that people like to eat blackpudding over here. Am sure they eat worse stuff over there, but anyway..

Here are 2 monkey related things that I find fascinating.

1) Evolution

Humans cannot grasp the scale of big things like Mark Zuckerberg’s bank account or the number of grains of sand on a beach, or even the most enormous thing there is, the universe. This works the other way around too. We find it impossible to visually comprehend tiny things, like the brain of an ant or molecules.

Then there is time. The earth has been around for 4.5 billion years and has turned from lump of rock to globe shaped water filled planet covered by vegetation and animal life. Billions of years later, about 6 million years ago, apes evolved into humans. About 5,500 years ago these humans made civilisations. People struggling to imagine the conditions our grandparents lived in while at war with Germany 60 years ago, let alone 10,000 years ago when they were hunter gatherers.

I find it hard to get my head around the way that nature allowed millions of tiny adaptations over millions of years to turn an ape into a human. I admittedly don’t know too much abut what happened along route but if we can now subjugate monkeys, does that mean humans will evolve into something that has dominion over us?

2) The Ladder

The experiment was on a group 5 Rhesus Monkeys who had some bananas hung from th ceiling out of reach. They then had a pair of ladders put in to the room that reached up to the bananas. Naturally the monkeys climbed the ladder to get the food. However, once a monkey started climbing the ladder all of the other monkeys got sprayed with ice cold water.

This led monkeys to learn that if they climbed the ladder they all got soaked with nasty freezing water.

Then the scientists replaced a monkeys with a new monkey who didnt know the efects of climbing the ladder so obviously had a crack at it. When they got onto ladder they were attacked by the other monkeys. If one of the new monkeys started to climb the ladder they would be attacked as the monkeys who knew about the water and did not want to be sprayed. So the new monkeys learned never to scale the ladder. They learned that if they did they’d be attacked!

New monkeys were swapped in another 3 times, and what they found was that even though the previously new monkeys did not know why they were beaten up for climbing the ladder, they would still join in beating up new monkeys that tried. Mob rule for monkeys.

finally the last monkey was replaced and the effects were the same. a cultural norm had prevailed despite none of them knowing why.

The question is.. Does this happen with human societies? And how can we tell which of of our thoughts are our own and which are inbuilt conditioning?


One thought on “Monkeys

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