Photo Credit: Marie Hale via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Marie Hale via CC Flickr

The following short story is supposedly a true tale of an experiment that was done in the UK a few years ago. I read of the account on It serves as a great illustration and reminder as to why we should not judge other people or get involved in a cause without knowing the true account behind it….why it started…how it began….etc. We all need to be very careful and think twice before following a tradition, religion or a system blindly. 


The experiment went something like this:

The clinicians put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room was a ladder which lead to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tried to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys were sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up.

Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempted to climb the ladder.

One of the original monkeys was then removed, and a new monkey was put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wondered why none of the other monkeys were doing the obvious and going for the delicious fruit. Undaunted, he immediately began to climb the ladder.

Suddenly, all the other monkeys fell upon him and beat him silly. He had no idea why.

However, he no longer attempted to climb the ladder.

A second original monkey was removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempted to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys again, pounded the crap out of him.

This beating included the previous new monkey, who was grateful that he wasn’t not on the receiving end this time. He participated in the beating because all the other monkeys were doing it. However, he had no idea why he was attacking the new monkey.

One by one, all the original monkeys were replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them were ever sprayed by ice water. None of them attempted to climb the ladder. All of them enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tried to get to the bananas, without having any idea why.

That is how traditions, religions and systems get established and followed. That is why, like I previously stated, that we should all be cautious when we become interested in joining a tradition, religion or cause. We don’t want to fall into the trap of doing things “just because” everyone else does it or, “it was always done this way.” While the old motto, “Monkey see…monkey do” can be somewhat true, we need to be careful of what kind of  ”monkeys” we become.