Take five chimpanzees. Put them in a big cage. Suspend some bananas from the roof of the cage and provide the chimpanzees with a stepladder. NOW – add a proximity detector, so that when a chimp goes near the banana, a water hose opens and the whole cage is thoroughly soaked.

Soon, the chimps learn that the bananas and the stepladder are best ignored.

Now remove one chimp, and replace it with a fresh one. That chimp knows nothing about the hoses. He sees the banana, notices the stepladder, and because he is a smart primate, he envisions himself stepping on the stepladder to reach the bananas. The moment he is trying to grab the stepladder… the four other chimps spring on him and beat him squarely. He soon learns to ignore the stepladder.

Then, remove another chimp and replace it with a fresh one. The scenario occurs again; when he grabs the stepladder, he gets mauled by the four other chimps — yes, including the previous “fresh” chimp. He has integrated the notion of “thou shall not touch the stepladder”.

Iterate. After some operations, you have five chimps who are ready to punch any chimp who would dare touching the stepladder — and none of them knows why.

  • We fight against same sex marriage, only because we get beaten from somebody who is telling us that this is bad.
  • We send our sons and daughters to war only because somebody telling us that war is for freedom – even if 100,000 die
  • We buy products on black Friday because somebody tells us: that day things which are otherwise more expensive are now magically cheap
  • We support “No child left behind”, not even wondering if now all children are behind

We don’t like the nay sayer (and I do too) but is there a risk to become too much of a follower?

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