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Game of monkeys and ladders, how to learn wrong behavior while being rational.

So it starts, people disable swap space on their Linux servers and desktops then much later complain about their computers choking when they use up all their preciously guarded memory. "Why would anyone design an OS like this!" they lament, well its simple. Your home computer is a variable load machine and not some static production server with a known workload, and even then disabling swap space if you do not have perfect knowledge of the system is hardly a sin.

There is an anecdote I heard a while back that perfectly describes how these situations happen: Scientists set up an observation room with sprinklers in it and a banana on a ladder. They let three monkeys in the room. Whenever a monkey goes to climb the ladder the scientists turn the sprinklers on till the monkeys learn to keep each other from climbing the ladder. Now the scientists switch out one of the monkeys for a fresh one without any memory of the evil cold sprinklers. This new monkey only sees a delicious piece of fruit right for the picking, however whenever he climbs the ladder the other monkeys will become aggressive and beat him till he learns to do to not do so. The scientists observing this replace another one of the original two remaining with a fresh monkey. The cycle repeats with both the oldest and older monkey joining in the beating and the new monkey learns not the climb the ladder. This is when the scientists replace the final monkey and remove the sprinklers. When the final monkey comes in and tries to climb the ladder the other two will stop him from climbing by beating the shit out of him. None of these monkeys know why but they all understand perfectly that you should not climb the ladder.

Lets think about this, Some credible guy said something and we follow it. This is rational, though its quite likely he gathers his opinions from others (turns out you can only really talk to other people and yourself). Now we should first and foremost go trough the tedious process of asking why he is doing something before we try to do it ourselves. Remember our ability to communicate is about the only thing that sets us apart from the monkeys.

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