Five Monkeys in a Cage.


Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put away the cold water.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

Why not?

Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

(See note below)


Most Luos have no idea why they hate the Gikuyu or vice-versa. Well, who cares. That’s the way it’s always been around here!!

And it’s not just in the above case of tribalism or racism that rational judgment is set aside, most human beliefs are deeply conditioned by dogma and tradition. Many seemingly rational people find it difficult to question or confront what are actually constructed belief systems. Most humans are in a mental cage much like the experimental monkeys.

5 thoughts on “Five Monkeys in a Cage.

  1. This got me laughing so hard that it sobered me up to a grave situation existing in our these days we call modern. It’s a glaring fact to any intelligent individual that modern man knows almost nothing of such horizons as exist outside the confines of science and religion. Like Joseph de Maistre pointed out that those who are called “scientists” today (I would include “spiritual scientists” here such as theologians and their likes) have hatched a real conspiracy. That they have made science their monopoly and absolutely do not want anyone to know more than they do or in a different manner an they do.
    Scientists or religious leaders who are bold enough to even as much as explore their field in a different manner are ostracised and excommunicated from their academic peers, and their studies shunned as mere frivolity at best, and insanity at worst. Most do not want to commit this kind of career suicide and often result to ‘spraying his fellow monkeys with cold water’.
    It’s a whole lot of banana-monkey-cold water and hoses-silence-the-non-conformist games in today’s world! 🙂


  2. Perfect story of conditioning as part of the social engineering we were threatened with/promised [depending on whether you have already succumbed to the conditioning or not].


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