View Full Version : Eileen Weir = Stuart Smalley

04-27-2006, 10:18 AM
Apr 27, 2006, 4:19:12 AM by Eileen Weir

Scientists studying and recording the behavior of the Macaca Fuscata monkey on the Japanese island of Koshima during the 1950’s discovered an amazing phenomenon of social change.

As gracious guests in the simian community, the scientific observers provided the monkeys with sweet potatoes, dropping the tubers in the sandy soil for collection and consumption by the tribe. While the monkeys happily devoured the raw sweet potatoes and enjoyed the provided food, they disliked the grit covering the exterior. Displaying great resourcefulness, an 18-month old monkey named Imo discovered a solution to the problem by washing her collected potatoes in a nearby stream. Liking the results of this simple action, Imo taught her mother the technique and shared her new-found knowledge with the other young monkeys in the colony.

Between 1952 and 1958 the cultural innovation was slowly adopted by all the young monkeys on the island, who in turn taught the skill to their mothers. Only the elders who willing learned from the youth experienced the social improvement of eating cleaned sweet potatoes, while those who neglected to adopt the innovation continued to consume the vegetables covered in sandy soil.

By the fall of 1958 a total of ninety-nine Koshima monkeys, young and old, were washing sweet potatoes. Under the scrupulous monitoring of the scientists, finally the one hundredth monkey was observed as it first embraced the habit. By that evening, almost every monkey in the tribe had conformed to the practice of washing potatoes. The added energy of the one hundredth monkey, scientists concluded, created an ideological breakthrough that impacted the entire island colony. The practice, in fact, soon migrated over the sea as monkey communities on neighboring islands and the mainland began spontaneously washing their potatoes.

Author and lecturer Ken Keyes, Jr., a peace activist as well as an expert in personal growth and social consciousness and creator of the Living Love self-help method, ascertained from this remarkable account, known as the 100th Monkey Phenomenon, that when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, the new awareness is communicated from mind to mind, not simply from action to imitation, example to implementation, practice to training.

Though the precise number needed to inact significant social change varies, the 100th Monkey Phenomenon demonstrates that when a limited number of people are aware of an innovation, it will likely remain the intellectual and conscious property of these few. But a point exists where the addition of one more person tuning into a new awareness strengthens the energy field or the circle of influence to such a degree that the discovery is instinctively learned by almost everybody.

It is what writer and author Malcolm Gladwell calls the “tipping point,” the moment when an idea, trend or social behavior breaks through some intangible barrier to infect an entire culture. Gladwell, best-selling author of Blink and The Tipping Point, describes the phenomenon as an epidemic, spreading much like a disease. He convicingly argues that ideas, not just actions, are contagious and the correct combination of people can unconsciously set off explosive trends and shared attitudes.

Kansas City seriously needs to be “tipped.” Put out an APB for the 100th monkey.

Visitors and newcomers to Kansas City are invariably impressed with the gem of the Midwest. Clean, friendly, accessible, culturally diverse and suprisingly urbane for a prairie town, Kansas City is often called a well-kept secret and a pleasant surprise. Expecting The Grapes of Wrath tourists and business travellers are no doubt relieved to see that we survived the Dust Bowl and emerged as a city of style and sophistication.

Both the 100th monkey and tipping point phenomenons of social change generate from within the culture they ultimately alter and gradually infect a greater community. Kansas Citians, conversely, seem to be the last to recognize the attitributes that make our city so desirable to outsiders. The rap on this town is that it suffers from an inferiority complex, constantly needing to be convinced of its own worth by affirmation from without as well as from within.

Case in point. Voters rather unanimously rejected the April 4th ballot issue that would have provided an optional enclosure for Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums. The concept was perhaps too unusual for voters to comprehend and the funding for it was too complex to articulate in a single sound bite. A “yes” vote for the rolling roof would ensure Kansas City a Super Bowl and consideration for additional major sporting events as well as world-class entertainment bookings and special engagements.

Critics of the successful stadium tax and the defeated rolling roof initiative painting the promise of championship games and All-Star exhibitions as gimmicks, underhanded ploys designed to tempt taxpayers to a vote of support. Gimmicks are self-created by definition and dubious by nature. The contingencies placed upon the rolling roof were in fact neither.

The National Football League and Major League Baseball noticed the efforts put forth to upgrade and enclose the Truman Sports Complex and eagerly rolled out the red carpet for Kansas City. As seasoned veterans of the country’s professional sports venues, the powers that be at the league offices of the nation’s premiere athletic associations demonstrated real delight in the opportunity to bring their top competitions to America’s heartland. A little sprucing up and a big umbrella to keep preciptation off the sponsors were all the enticement needed to lure NFL and MLB execs to our humble hometown.

Why is it the people who live in K.C. are the ones who think the least of it? We can’t accept a compliment with grace, fail to see our town as a desirable destination worthy of national attention and acclaim. Part of Kansas City’s charm is its inherent value system that honors hard work, modesty and frugality. Those standards are apparent to everyone who visits or relocates here. There’s nothing pretentious about our town.

That’s not me. At all. I am a firm believer in giving – and taking – credit when credit is due. I’m very proud of my upstate New York hometown and there is absolutely nothing whatsoever great about it. I cheer heartily for my team even when they stink. I would never boo anyone who wore my team’s uniform or publicly humiliate one of its representatives. I deplore false modesty and self-depreciation. I wouldn’t live in a place that I couldn’t rave about to my friends and family, and, consequently, I work hard to make my town the kind of place where I want to live.

Maybe we are all too close to the problems, the disappointments, the struggles that our city, and every city, faces. Residing in this place for a long time may have caused inhabitants to lose an appreciation for the metropolitan’s appeal. Familiarity has bred contempt.

What will tip Kansas City? Who will be the 100th monkey who finally launches us to a self-image of one of America’s premiere cities? How about a Super Bowl? An All-Star Game? Another Final Four? A national political convention? Look yourself in the eye, Kanas City, and believe that you deserve it. You do.


04-27-2006, 10:23 AM
Another KCchiefs.com article telling us how stupid we are.

As much as I hate to harp on it, it really has become a theme.

04-27-2006, 10:47 AM
Personally, I like the article and think it is right on.

I miss living in KC and wish it would do the things needed to bring it to greater glory and prominance.

just my opinion...

kc rush
04-27-2006, 10:53 AM
At least its sports related for a change.

However, shouldn't the discussion be on the draft, mini-camps, changes being implemented by the front office and new coaching staff instead of on a vote that happened weeks ago?

Rain Man
04-27-2006, 10:59 AM
Why did monkeys on other islands start washing their potatoes? How did they communicate and learn over distances? And where did the other monkeys get their potatoes?

04-27-2006, 11:38 AM
What frustrates me is that they keep spinning the rejection of the rolling roof concept to a rejection of KC wanting a Super Bowl, Final Four, etc. I honestly believe that the rejection had more to do with people not liking the specific method proposed to enclose Arrowhead rather than the concept itself.

Personally, I would be more open to a stadium renovation that incorporated a retractable roof similar to the one in Houston rather than the rolling roof concept that, aside from being an eyesore between the stadiums when not in use, has little usefulness for Kaufman Stadium.

If the intent is to be able to enclose Arrowhead for these big events, I believe that they should propose a concept that is specific to Arrowhead. Of course that's just my humble opinion, but I would be interested to see how the voting populace would respond.

04-27-2006, 11:42 AM
Why did monkeys on other islands start washing their potatoes? How did they communicate and learn over distances? And where did the other monkeys get their potatoes?

Hopefully Elaine will do a follow-up article to answer these burning questions.

Rain Man
04-27-2006, 12:07 PM
This monkey thing is killing me. I may have to go to a research library tonight.

Rain Man
04-27-2006, 12:15 PM
Some smart-sounding web sites are saying that the whole monkey-potato-washing jump to other islands is not supported in the research.


However, when Myers went back to the original research cited by Watson, she did not find the same story that he tells. Where he claims to have had to improvise details, the reports are quite precise, and they do not support the "ideological breakthrough" phenomenon. At first, she was disappointed; but as she delved deeper into the research, she found a growing appreciation for the lessons the real story of these monkeys have for us.

Up until 1958, Keyes' description follows the research quite closely, although not all the young monkeys in the troop learned to wash the potatoes. By March, 1958, 15 of the 19 young monkeys (aged two to seven years) and 2 of the 11 adults were washing sweet potatoes. Up to this time, the propagation of the innovative behavior was on an individual basis, along family lines and playmate relationships. Most of the young monkeys began to wash their potatoes when they were one to two and a half years old. Males older than 4 years, who had little contact with the young monkeys, did not acquire the behavior.

By 1959, sweet potato washing was no longer a new behavior to the group. Monkeys that had acquired the behavior as juveniles were growing up and having their own babies. This new generation of babies learned sweet potato washing behavior through the normal cultural pattern of the young imitating their mothers. By January 1962, almost all the monkeys on Koshima Island, except those adults born before 1950, were observed to be washing their sweet potatoes. If an individual monkey had not started to wash sweet potatoes by the time he was an adult, he was unlikely to learn it later, regardless of how widespread it became among the younger members of the troop.

In the original reports, there was no mention of the group passing a critical threshold that resulted in the idea being imparted to the entire troop. The older monkeys remained steadfastly ignorant of the new behavior. Likewise, there was no mention of widespread sweet potato washing in other monkey troops. There was mention of occasional sweet potato washing by individual monkeys in other troops, but Myers thinks there are other simpler explanations for such occurrences -- if there was an Imo in one troop, there could be Imo-like monkeys in other troops.