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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Friday, August 02, 2013

Fortunately for our healthcare system, a growing number of forward-thinking doctors are focusing on the cause of disease and advocating for lifestyle and nutrition reform. 

If all health care professionals would just ask a few simple lifestyle and nutrition intake questions in their history process, change could happen.  

If eye doctors in the United States alone improved the eating habits and nutrient intake of just two patients a week, that number could exceed six million people a year. 

Could this be another One Hundredth Monkey?
In 1952, on the island of Koshima, Japan, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkey liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.

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. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers too.

This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes -- the exact number is not known. But, let us just 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, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.

Did one extra monkey create critical mass?

By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!

Another most surprising thing was observed by the scientists. The habit of monkeys washing sweet potatoes jumped over the sea. . . colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes.

When a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness seems to be communicated from mind to mind.

Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people. But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!

This collective commitment to identifying disease cause and prevention will eventually reach critical mass and have the same effect as the 100th  Monkey.

We hope you will join us in this effort. 

Ellen Troyer, MT MA - Biosyntrx CEO / Chief Research Officer
Spencer Thornton, MD - Biosyntrx President / Chief Medical Officer


Today's column reinforces the law of diffusion of innovation discussed by Simon Sinek in the last Biosyntrx Sunday stop at the Intersection of Nutrition Science, Visual Science, Art, Music and Humanities.  Critical mass tipping points are possible, if we believe they can happen.   For those of you who are interested here is the link to the Biosyntrx core values Why, How and What   


Thank you Ken Keys for being gracious enough to not copywrite your 100th Monkey story knowing that it would have a better chance of being shared and read if you allowed others to use it as metaphor.