The 100th Monkey

A Story About Social Change
Excerpt from the book "The Hundredth Monkey" by Ken Keyes, Jr.

The Japanese monkey species "Macaca Fuscata" has been observed in the wild for over 30 years. In 1952, scientists placed sweet potatoes in the sand for these monkeys on Koshima Island. The monkeys loved the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the soil and sand sticking to them unpleasant. Imo — an 18-month-old female — found that she could solve the problem by cleaning the potato in the nearby river. She showed this trick to her mother. Her playmates also got to know this new method and showed it to their mothers as well.

The scientists were able to observe how this cultural innovation was increasingly adopted by other monkeys. Between 1552 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them tastier. But only those adults who imitated their children learned about this social progress. The other adults continued to eat dirty potatoes.

Then something surprising happened. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of monkeys were already washing the potatoes - how many exactly is unknown. Let's say that one day at sunrise there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island washing their sweet potatoes. And let's also assume that during the course of this morning the 100th monkey learned to wash his potatoes.

That's when it happened! On the same evening, practically everyone in the clan began to wash their sweet potatoes before eating. The added energy of the 100th monkey had somehow produced an ideological breakthrough.

But the most surprising thing for the scientists was that the "fashion" to wash sweet potatoes jumped over the sea. Monkey colonies on other islands and the monkey population of Takasakiyama on the mainland also began to wash their sweet potatoes.

When a critical number reaches a certain consciousness, this new consciousness can be communicated from mind to mind.

Although the exact number may be different, the 100th monkey phenomenon means that the recognition of a new path by a small number of people can remain limited to their field of consciousness. But there is a point at which an individual who joins can make the necessary difference, where the field jumps over to others.



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