Friday, March 28, 2008

More Monkey Business: The Hundredth Monkey Effect

According to Wikipedia, The Hundredth Monkey Effect generally describes the instant, paranormal spreading of an idea or ability to the remainder of a population once a certain portion of that population has heard of the new idea or learned the new ability. However, for those of you that don't know the origin of this phenomenal Effect, you're not only going to get excited you're going to instantly re-realize how freaking similar we are, as today's modern civilization, to this wonderfully wild species.

The year was 1952. The setting was an island somewhere in the south seas. A few anthropologists were studying the behavior of the macaques, a Japanese Monkey native to the islands with a diet consisting primarily of sweet potatoes. By routine, the monkeys would dig up a potato, break it in half and eat only from the center in order to avoid the potato's sandy coat, discarding the rest. After one potato, the monkey would go back to dig another. One insightful afternoon, a pioneering monkey decided to rinse his potato, allowing him to eat it whole, and dig for fewer potatoes. Consequently, he not only began enjoying a cleaner habit, he instantly created more free time to enjoy the things he loved to do. Was he praised immediately?

Just the opposite. His family and friends just couldn't understand why he was doing something so different! Despite this, some of the onlooking monkeys became privy to the transition and began washing their potatoes too. Slowly but surely, many more of the surrounding monkeys shared in the innovation. Hundreds of monkeys continued to hold fast to their comfortable method even though they began to notice the abundance the other monkeys were enjoying at the beach. Now, supposedly when the hundredth monkey took the leap of faith, all the rest followed. Most remarkably and due to an evident mass consciousness, the paradigm immediately shifted amongst the monkeys inhabiting the neighboring islands too!

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