Who moved my brain?

Throwcase casts aside the satirical mantle to passionately implore us all to stop sharing stupid memes. If only the article could be turned into a handy, brain-infesting image or slogan, so we needn’t have to actually read the whole thing or even really understand what is being said!

It is supposed to describe a real scientific experiment that was performed on a group of monkeys, and it is supposed to raise profound questions about our tendency to unquestioningly follow the herd. Unfortunately it is complete and utter nonsense, because no such experiment ever happened. However, so many people are sharing this unverified crock of shit that it really does reveal our tendency to unthinkingly follow the herd; after all, why would you bother verifying an article about monkeys that literally has the tag line “think before you follow”?


Incidentally, I’ve never come across the ‘five monkeys’ thing before today, but I’m sure we’ve all seen the likes of it before. It reminds me of a particular class of corporate management/self-help literature such as the “Who moved my cheese?” book and video.

In other words, it’s the kind of thing that people in positions of minor authority like to use to ‘inspire’ and ‘challenge’ their subordinates or charges; the kind of message that is immediately undermined and made violently intolerable by the context and medium in which it is presented. Look children, I have a cartoon about rats in a maze, a story about monkeys in a cage, and you will learn so much from it!

Clearly I’m not the intended audience for this kind of demeaning tripe, but I can’t help but wonder why these stories are not immediately seen to be deeply insulting. You in your work environment are a tiny humanoid rat lost in a maze, chasing after cheese. Your life, your struggles, your motives and your goals are ultimately absurd. You are an animal, and not even a noble one but the kind commonly used in experiments for their convenience, ease of manipulation, and close relationship to real humans – but not so close that we feel bad when we have to ‘sacrifice’ them.

I think I should write a little book about a plough-horse that slaves away for many years to benefit its owner, and after making its owner rich is replaced with a tractor and sold for dog-meat. The moral is “you’re lucky you got to work as long as you did.”

Does anyone feel inspired yet?


4 thoughts on “Who moved my brain?

  1. Actually that “who moved my cheese” literary masterpiece was a tremendous source of inspiration for me because it made me realize that people in positions of authority (particularly in a corporate/business environment) were just as capable of being fallible/foolish as anyone else (at worst, they might even be likened to the stereotypical “dumb blonde”).

    That particular corporate/self-help piece of “literature” helped to galvanise my scepticism towards such “dumb blondes” and made me realise explicitly that I was trying to play chess while the dumb blondes who managed to manoeuvre their way up the corporate ladder were playing checkers (their best attempt at playing chess I suppose). Upon reflection, that was indeed one of the pivotal moments for me in that environment.

    But even in the world of “chess” (i.e. proper research, rigour, and peer review literature) there are these “dumb blonde” types that manage to infiltrate the realm of chess playing and pretend to cater to those who play chess. They might even offer them a nice shiny chess board on which they can present their research. It seems that once these dumb blonde types get a sniff of where some money might be, they will do their best to lure you with a piece of cheese in a loaded mousetrap. The phenomenon of “predatory open access journals” is another classic case of business compromising research integrity. However, it is heartening to know that sometimes researchers can expose them for who they are and what they are really about: http://www.vox.com/2014/11/21/7259207/scientific-paper-scam

    • I’m really glad I wasn’t at work for the special viewing. I think it would have broken me. On the other hand, I’ve been raised to politely ignore lapses into socially awkward senility in aged seniors, so perhaps that maladaption would have seen me through?

      The problem in the circumstances you refer to was that everyone else was also playing checkers…

      Edit: well, nearly everyone. I think I was playing blind man’s bluff.

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