Friday, 15 June 2018

The most dangerous phrase in any language is: We've always done it this way.

The above lines are not mine. These are said by famous American computer scientist and US Navy admiral Grace Hopper. I will share a famous experiment that proves this statement to be true.

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage containing a ladder with some bananas at the top.
Every time a monkey tried to climb the ladder, the scientists poured ice cold water on the rest of the monkeys. After a while, every time a monkey climbed up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up to avoid getting showered with cold water. After sometime, no monkey dared climbing the ladder in order to avoid getting beaten up by the other monkeys. Scientists observed that to keep this behavior ongoing they did not need to pour water anymore. As soon as a monkey approached ladder, all the others would pounce upon him.
The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately the new monkey was pulled down and beaten up. After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.

The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.
What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on all those who attempted to climb the ladder, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”
Bottom line: Do not follow the society blindly. If you cannot explain the reasons for your actions, probably it’s time to change them.

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