Hundredth Monkey (was NGO Accountability) (fwd)

Victor Guest vic at
Tue Jan 13 07:43:04 EST 1998

I think we may have forgotten the distinction between things that are
accurate but not true and those that are not accurate, but are true. There
are levels "correctness" up to the level of the sublime, which is
inexpressible in words anyway. Words are always approximations, being of
human origin, they are of necessity, limited and imperfect.

If "true" means anything, the Hundredth Monkey story is "true." Whether it
is accurate or not, I wouldn't know nor probably care. The debunking in
Camilla's website reference seems to circle around the debunking
researcher's belief that such behavior could not spread beyond a particular
island without some "mysterious intervention." It is filled with
generalities and is not scientific nor based upon any research on the
question. It is more of a "bah-humbug" on the notion of some spiritual
intervention than a coming-to-grips with the notion that behaviors once
learned are easier for species members to replicate than they were for the
originator(s) of the behavior.

Anyone interested in the "truth" of the phenomena described in HM -- hmmm,
Hundredth Monkey has the same initials as Holistic Management -- might want
to check into the work of Rupert Sheldrake. He tries to pry us loose from
our mechanistic world view (the debunker's world view, by the way) and
propel us into a holistic one in which we are connected through "morphic
fields."His books include The Rebirth of Nature and A New Science of Life.
In one of the most readable of his works, The Presence of the Past, he writes:

"This book explores the possibility that memory is inherent in nature. It
suggests that natural systems, such as termine colonies, or pigeons, or
orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all
previous things of their kind, however far away they were and however long
ago they existed." 

He gives many examples of behavior shifts in both plants and animals that
illustrate the application of the Hundredth Monkey principle, including the
difficulty of replicating mouse/maze experiments, because no subsequent sets
of mice have as many errors as the original set.. 

He has a recent book out called something like "7 Experiments That Can
Change the World," -- I loaned it out, so don't have the title quite right. 

The H. Monkey story seems to me to reside in the company of  the "Story of
the Man Who Planted Trees," though I suspect it is more "accurate" than that
mythic, life-changing story. This has been an interesting topic.


At 08:33 AM 1/8/98, you wrote:
>Okay, folks, if you are so inclined, check out this website for some
>1996 responses from one of the senior Japanese researchers who was
>involved in the project that led to the legend of The Hundredth Monkey:
>I can't tell you how disappointed I was to read about this...but I'm all
>for truth.
>Camilla in Arkansas
Barbara Ashley Phillips
American West Institute for Conflict Resolution
P.O. Box 676
Halfway, Oregon 97834
(541) 742-6790 (Phone)  (541) 742-5175 (Fax)
Email: baphillips at

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