Response to The Hundredth Monkey : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Why the "100th Monkey Theory" in nonsense, the following is taken from "Why People Believe Weird Things - Pseudoscience, Superstition And Other Confusions Of Our Time," by Michael Shirmer:

(1) The story goes that Japanese scientists gave monkeys on Koshima Island potatoes. One day one of the monkeys learned to wash the potatoes and then taught the skill to others. When about 100 monkeys learned the skill, (so called "critical mass"), suddenly all the monkeys knew the skill, even monkeys 100 of miles away from Koshima Island. THESE EVENTS DID NOT HAPPEN.

(2) The so-called scientific process discussed by Watson in "Lifettide" is: "one has to gather the rest of the story from personal anecdotes and bits of folklore among primate researchers, because most of them are still not quite sure what happened. so I am forced to improvise the details." Watson then speculates that "an unspecified number of monkeys were washing potatoes in the sea. (page 2-8) . . . This is not the scientific process let alone a viable theory.

(3) Some scientists actually did record what happened: (Baldwin et. al 1980; Imanishi, 1983; Kawai 1962). The research began with a troop of 20 monkeys in 1952, and every monkey on the island was carefully observed. By 1962, the troop had increased to 59, and 36 of the 59 were washing potatoes. The "sudden" acquisition of the behavior actually TOOK 10 YEARS, and the "100 monkeys" were actually only 36 in 1962. . . . not all the monkeys in the troop were exhibiting the washing behavior. 36 monkeys were not a "critical mass even at home. And while there are some reports of similar behavior on other islands, the observations were made between 1953 and 1967. IT WAS NOT SUDDEN, nor was necessarily connected to Koshima. The monkeys on the other islands could have discovered this simple skill themselves or inhabitants of the other islands might have taught them. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS EXTRAORDINARY CLAIM, there is not even a real phenomenon to explain.

(4) Books about this theory are: "Lifetide" by Lyall Watson and "The Hundredth Monkey" by Ken Keys

(5) This theory is commonly cited as empirical proof for the theory that thought can so how be transferred between people, especially in a meditative state. This is part of the agenda of TM or Transcendental Meditation. If enough people meditate at the same time, some sort of "critical mass" will be reached, thereby inducing significant planetary change. NONSENSE.

(6) If there is a wide hot debate about this, then the debaters either don't know the facts and do not understand the nature of scientific inquiry

- Robert

At 01:47 PM 10/20/1998 +0000, you wrote: > >The 100th Monkey Theory,...based on the theory of morphogenesis! I >love it. Ken Keyes is the author, . . . It was and continues to be either hotly debated or totally dismissed or believed in whole heartedly.

-- R. Cowing (, October 26, 1998


Robert: there is a difference between successfully refuting a given proof of a thesis and positively proving that thesis to be untenable. I.e., the original hundredth monkey story may be specious. But it would be irrational to dismiss morphogenesis solely on that basis. The collected works of Shakespeare are "NONSENSE" to an infant - or a madman.

We all respect scientific method, but some of us working in this area are not making any claims; our results speak for themselves. A growing popular impatience with the snot-nosed foisting of arbitrary demarcation critera (for "science"), and with the inflation of scientific method from an information-organizing principle to a transcendent, irrational "Truth-discovering" principle, is but one of those results. You could try using a little more morphogenesis yourself, and a little less arrogance.


-- E. Coli (, October 26, 1998.

These two books (or either one of them) by Rupert Sheldrake are really required reading for any discussion of thiis so-called "Hundredth Monkey" idea.

The Presence of the Past : Morphic Resonance & the Habits of Nature

A New Science of Life : The Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance

A case he cites: English farmers raise a lot of sheep. Some years ago they realized that they could modify cattle guards (reduce the bar spacing) to work for sheep. This saves a lot of time otherwise spent opening and closing gates. The new sheep guards worked just fine. One day one sheep (probably accidentally) fell down and rolled over one of these guards, and found himself in another field. The other sheep in the flock began to do what the first sheep did. That farmer had to put his gates back up. The funny part was that in a relatively short time all the sheep in England had "learned" how to get across a sheep guard the same way. Not from observation of the first flock, they were widely separated. So writes Sheldrake.

-- Tom Carey (, October 27, 1998.

Lucky there aren't any really intelligent sheep you'd only need one then they'd all be so, learning through the unseen ether by some inexplicable influence. I suppose sheep will always be sheep, wonder if the same applies to lemmings.

-- Richard Dale (, October 27, 1998.

Here's my two bucks worth regarding "morphogenesis."

I spent several years in the late 80's/early 90's living in an actual honest to god San Francisco Haight Ashbury leftover '60's hippie commune. Sex, drugs and rock 'n roll! We ran a very successful computer business, published books and newspapers and even created our own state licsensed religion.

Part of the idea behind this religion was that there are many beautiful things in all religions, (science being one of them) and that there many similarities. Why stick with just one when you can have the best of all of them? We played around with all kinds of things, and came across the idea of "Morphogenetic Fields." 100th monkey and all that good stuff. In our religion we created "dieties" (and some of them created themselves) and "communicated" with these "dieties" using an "alphabet board" (similar to a oujia board).

3-5 people would hold a cup together and someone would ask a question and the cup would move around the board and spell out responses. Sometimes the responses were profound, sometimes trite. Sometimes they were relevant, sometimes not. Sometimes the "dieties" speaking would take the "conversation" to unexpected places, sometimes they would be cranky and not want to "talk."

Now, obviously there are all kinds of explanations for this, and we thought of them all, and tested them. No, it did not seem possible that one person was controlling what was being said. We tried all combinations of people, and even tried them blindfolded. There were individuals and combinations that were better "receptors." It doesn't mean that it had anything to do with "morphogenesis."

We decided that as a viable explanation, it was the "collective unconscious" among the "receptors" and other people in the room that was doing the work. And that Morphogenetic or "M Fields" as we called them were one manifestation of the collective unconscious. Now someone can choose to get all scientific theory on me about all this, I don't really care. However, I do know what I experienced, numerous times, and I had the pleasure many times of watching a newcomer's face light up when they experienced it for the first time!

-- pshannon (, October 27, 1998.

Gosh, since I was quoted in the question at the top of this thread I spose I should respond. I cannot remember the title of the logical fallacy but the gist of it is absense of evidence is not evidence of absense. Is that "post hoc ergo propter hoc?" Fallacy of affirming the consequent...? No matter. Morphogenesis, M Fields, as I stated in my original response to the first 100th Monkey Thread, is fascinating to me. I neither embrace it as a religion nor discount it as nonsense. I recall though that many in the world of quantum physics these days are finding themselves in strange realms they can only discuss in metaphysical terms. I feel in good company that I am willing to consider there are "more things in Heaven and on Earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophies."

No need, as I see it, for anyone to raise their blood pressure over what is clearly discussed as theory. Life's short...Eat dessert first. Take a walk in the sunshine. Hug a friend.

-- Donna Barthuley (, October 27, 1998.

Question to pshannon.

What are these "dieties" you write about.

My assumption is that they are probably "deities" who don't eat as much!

-- Craig (, October 27, 1998.


Actually, they were rather lean!

-- pshannon (, October 27, 1998.

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