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Bureaucracy in the Planet of the Apes

Unknown Author

Comment by Paula Peterson

(Excerpt) "… As an example, an interesting story comes to mind. I once read in a psychology publication about a young mother who always slices the ends off the meat loaf before placing it on a dish to serve her family: she doesn’t know why she does it —only because her mother did it that way. When her mother is asked why she sliced off the ends of the meat loaf before serving the family, she only knows that her mother did it that way. When the elderly grandma is asked why she sliced off the ends of the meat loaf before serving it to the family she answers that she sliced the ends off to make it fit into the only serving tray she had at the time. Namaste."


 1. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long an ape will go to the stairs in order to climb up and reach the banana.

2. As soon as he touches the stairs all the apes are sprayed with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result —all the apes are sprayed with shocking cold water. This continues for a few more times with each attempt.

3. Turn off the cold water. Later on, if another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes —to avoid getting sprayed with cold water— will try to prevent the ape from climbing the stairs even though no water is actually sprayed on them.

4. Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new ape. The new ape sees the banana and —not knowing of previous events— wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack he knows that if he tries to climb up the stairs, he will be assaulted.

5. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs to get to the banana and is attacked. The previous newcomer (of #4) also takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

6. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs in the first place, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.

7. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs in order to climb up to get the banana.



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