What has Thomas Huxley got to do with these 6 Sulawesi Monkeys?
Thomas Henry Huxley was an English biologist and the chief proponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He is often referred to as “Darwin’s Bulldog” due to his aggressive defense of Darwin.
There was a debate between Huxley and Wilberforce (A British Mathematician), there is very little record of the debate, so little can be certain about actually happened. According to legend Huxley was asked to explain how all the apparent design in life could be the result of chance and responded with the following analogy:
“If given an extremely long period of time, an infinite amount of ink, six monkeys who never die and six typewriters that never break. The monkeys would eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare.”
According to legend Wilberforce did not have a good objection to the analogy and that marked a great turn in the public opinion concerning evolution.
Let us Understand Huxley’s Analogy,
- The universe is the paper and the ink
- The monkeys are “random” external causal agents.
- The input of the random forces is restricted by the laws of the typewriter which would correspond with the laws of nature.
- The complete works of Shakespeare are supposed to be analogous to the complexity of life.
Let us put Huxley to the test
In an interesting experiment, Huxley’s idea was put to the test. A Plymoth University research team left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested Macaques named Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan. Mike Phillips, who runs the university’s Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies, had the following comments concerning the results,
1. “The lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it.”
2. “Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard.”
3. “The monkeys failed to produce a single word”
The chance god!
By the way, you can even buy the book written by Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan titled, “Notes Towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare” for UK 25 pounds.