Return to all Blog Posts

Always ask questions

My thoughts are on monkeys today.

Yes, monkeys.

Have you ever heard of the 5 Monkeys Experiment?

Let me explain it.

There were five monkeys that were placed in a cage. There was a ladder in the middle of the cage with bananas on the very top rung. However, every time a monkey tried to climb the ladder, all the monkeys were sprayed with ice cold water. After this happened many times, when a monkey started to climb the ladder, all the other monkeys would pull him off and beat him up so they could all avoid being sprayed with the ice water. It didn’t take long and no monkeys would climb the ladder.

BUT THEN…an old monkey would be removed and a new monkey would be put in his place. The very first thing the new monkey would do is try to climb the ladder to get the bananas. However, he would be pulled and beaten by the other monkeys. No ice water was sprayed and he never knew exactly why the other monkeys wouldn’t let him go up the ladder because he had never been sprayed with the ice cold water. However, he did understand that his behavior wasn’t to be tolerated so he stopped trying.

One by one, each of the original monkeys was replaced with a new monkey until none of the original group remained in the cage. Every single time a monkey went up the ladder, the rest of the group pulled him off and beat him, even though none of those monkeys had ever experienced the icy blast of water. They just knew they weren’t supposed to go for the bananas even though they never really knew the reason why.

If monkeys could talk and you asked them why they did what they did they would probably say, “I don’t know, that’s just how it has always been done.”

I don’t know if this story is real or made-up, however it does paint a very real picture of culture and how we tend to do things that we are told to do without questioning the reason behind it, even long after a reason may even exist.

Question everything! Be curious.

And if there is something you are doing just because you’ve been told “that’s just what we do”, ask why.