Friday, May 2, 2014
Equality, Monkeys, and Bananas
You may have heard this story. I got it from John Kennan, who claims it originated with computer scientists. There are some monkeys in a cage. Someone puts a banana at the other end of the cage. When one monkey goes for the banana, the other monkeys are sprayed with a fire hose. This is repeated a few times. Then, whenever one monkey makes a move for the banana, the other monkeys beat him/her up. After a while, one monkey is replaced. Of course, that monkey goes for the banana and the others beat him/her up. This keeps happening, and eventually none of the monkeys in the cage have ever seen a fire hose. But whenever a new monkey arrives and makes an attempt to get the banana, he/she gets beaten up. Asked why, the monkeys say: "That's the way we've always done it."