Harry R. Schwartz

Software engineer, nominal scientist, gentleman of the internet. Member, ←Hotline Webring→.

bearded cartoon drawing of the author · 1B41 8F2C 23DE DD9C 807E A74F 841B 3DAE 25AE 721B

Monkey Island

Monkey Island

Published . Tags: animals, neuroscience.

I heard this (true) story several years ago, and it’s stuck with me:

A zoo keeps its monkeys on an island in the middle of a small lake. You can take a tour on a catamaran that motors around the island. A zookeeper answers questions over the boat’s loudspeaker.

A tour member asks, “I notice that there’s no fence around the lake. Why don’t the monkeys escape?”

“Good question,” says the zookeeper. “Members of this species of monkey are naturally strong swimmers, and any of these monkeys could easily paddle across the lake and leave the zoo. But none of the monkeys in this colony have ever seen another monkey swim, so they don’t realize that they can.”

I’m sure I’m a monkey, but I can’t figure out how. Which is the problem with being on Monkey Island.