Monkeys for Nothin and Chips for Free
By ice rivers
Money…….monkey….what’s the difference? The difference is k and what a difference a kay makes. Or a guy whose name begins and ends with k.
Ya see, I was part of the research team that introduced the concept of money to monkeys just to see what would happen. We started by giving monkeys poker chips. At first the monkeys were kind of interested in the chips but once they discovered that they couldn’t eat the chips or have sex with them, the interest diminished dramatically.
That’s when we introduced the grapes. If a monkey gave us a poker chip, we would give the monkey back a grape. Over a period of three months, the monkeys began to grasp the idea of barter. Once they got the idea, we tried a few more experiments like gambling. The monkeys were willing to gamble as long as we removed the risk of losing everything. The monkeys were willing to spin a wheel if the resulting spin included the possibility that they could get another grape for the grape they “risked” if they won but would not lose their grape if they lost. Monkeys were very willing to play in a win-win situation.
No wonder game shows are so popular.
We were learning a lot about simian behavior until unintended consequences took our experiment into an orgiastic orbit that we had not imagined. We kept the monkeys in a large cage but there was a smaller compartment attached to the cage where we took the monkeys when we wanted to teach them about money.
One evening a lab attendant named Kirk abandoned his position shortly after being reprimanded by Dr. Chaney, our project director. In his haste to depart, Kirk left the chips unattended and the door separating compartments slightly ajar. It didn’t take long for Albert, our alpha monkey, to notice that the chips were unguarded and the door was unlocked. Albert gathered all eight chips and took them back into the main cage.
At this juncture, I happened upon the scene. I didn’t interfere. In the name of discovery, I watched. Albert gave a chip to all seven of his cagemates and kept one for himself. Apparently altruism is not strictly a human phenomena, equally apparent was the natural link between burglary and altruism. All of the monkeys seemed delighted with the chips. One of the monkeys, a male named Elvis, decided to deepen the altruism so he gave his chip to a female named Lola.
In the next eight seconds two important events occurred; one I contacted Dr. Chaney for advice and two Elvis mounted Lola and they had intercourse.
Dr Chaney told me to try and get the chips back but do so gently. I tried but the monkeys wouldn’t surrender their ill gained bounty. Chaney arrived and suggested that we give each of the monkeys a grape in exchange for the pilfered poker chips.
Albert was the first to make the trade. Albert got his grape. Lola was the last to make her trade. She offered both her chips. Dr. Chaney decided to give her two grapes in fair exchange for her efforts
. I told Chaney about Elvis and how as a result of his patronizing, Elvis was now the only monkey in the cage without a chip or a grape. Chaney decided to throw Elvis a ‘What the hell” grape. This move didn’t sit well with Albert. Albert threatened Elvis who backed down. Exercising his alpha ness, Albert took the “what the hell” chip from Elvis …..and gave it to Lola.
Eight seconds later Albert and Lola were having intercourse and momentarily forgot about their grapes. Lola now had three grapes and they were vulnerable so Elvis snatched two of them….devoured one immediately and gave the second grape to a female named Gloria. Eight seconds later Elvis and Gloria, well ya know.
The law of unintended consequences accelerated the velocity of our experiment into another orbit evidenced by the chain of events that continued when a third male named Dale absconded with the grape that Gloria had momentarily abandoned and presented that grape to Dina Eight seconds later……
Et cetera Et cetera
. Our research team spent the next week summarizing the lessons we had learned about altruism, robbery, prostitution, evolution,imitation, solicitation, enterprise and prosperity. We flirted with the idea of seeking further funding in order to introduce what we had learned about the relationship of monkeys to money beyond the laboratory and into the wild.
Chaney decided that wouldn’t be a good idea. We had learned all we needed to know. If we expanded the experiment into the wild and successfully introduced chips and grapes into the species at large, Chaney believed that we would irredeemably and artificially alter the behaviour of the species, the unintended consequences of which might be as threatening to our survival as to the survival of the monkeys themselves. We ended the experiment.
A few days later, I opened an IRA account. As the account manager went on and on about all the ways money could be hidden and used to make more money, I kept thinking about poker chips and grapes.
Chips and Chimps
Money and Monkey