In Sanity We Trust

Diversions: Ape Management

Five monkeys in a room..... Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage hang a banana on a string and put a stepladder underneath it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start climbing towards the Banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape will make an attempt to reach the banana. Again, spray all of the apes with cold water. Now turn off the cold water. If, later, another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent him, even though no water sprays them.

Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes will attack him. After another attempt and attack, he now knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer also goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well.

Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which were sprayed with cold water have now been replaced. Nevertheless, none of the apes ever approach the stairs again. Why not?

"Because that's the way it's always been around here." Sound familiar?