The Japanese monkey, Macaca Fuscata, has been observed in the wild for
over 40 years. In 1952, on the island
of Koshina, scientists
started feeding the monkeys by dropping sweet potatoes in the sand. While the
monkeys liked the taste of the potatoes, they didn't like the sand.
An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by
washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother
and to her playmates, who also taught their mothers. Over a period of several
years, all the young monkeys on the island learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes
to make them more palatable. But only the adults who imitated the children
learned this trick. Other adults kept eating the sandy sweet potatoes.
Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain
number of Koshima monkeys were washing their sweet potatoes - nobody knows how
many. For the sake of the story, let's suppose that when the sun rose one
morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima
Island who had learned to
wash their sweet potatoes. Let's further suppose that later that morning, a
hundredth monkey learned to wash the potatoes.
That's when it happened. The additional energy of this hundredth monkey
seemed to create an ideological breakthrough for the entire species. By that
evening, nearly every monkey in the tribe was washing their sweet potatoes
before eating them.
But that's not all. The most surprising thing observed by the
scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes somehow jumped
overseas. Soon colonies of monkeys on other islands, and the mainland troop of
monkeys at Takasakiyama were also washing their sweet potatoes!
Although the exact number may vary, the "Hundredth Monkey
Phenomenon" means that when a limited group has a certain realization, it
remains the conscious property of that few. But, at a certain point of
"critical mass," when just one more mind tunes-in to the new idea,
the field is exponentially strengthened, and the awareness is picked up by
Just think what this bit of science can mean for mankind. Every time we
adopt a new habit or belief that helps our community, we increase the
collective wisdom of humanity and get one person closer to changing the world !