The Monkey Law

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Sat, 2016-07-23 07:28

Ockham's Razor says the simplest explanation is the one most likely to be true. Or as the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it: "of two competing theories, the simpler explanation of an entity is to be preferred."

The Monkey Law says that for any given inexplicable or ugly human phenomenon, the most crude, petty, tawdry, nasty, disgusting, wretched, contemptible, "human" explanation is the one most likely to be true.

Thus if a wife bad-raps her husband, it's probably not because he's a truly low or awful person, but rather because he recently forgot their anniversary, or cheated on her, or now wants a divorce. If an employee bad-raps his boss, it's quite likely because the boss recently insulted, demoted, or fired the employee. If someone says he "hates" the local sports team, it's very possibly because they just lost a big game. If a datable girl is described as "having a really good personality," everyone knows she's probably fairly ugly.

All these evaluations of causation can and should be performed quickly.

The key point to the Monkey Rule is : If you can't figure out why someone is suddenly saying or doing something strange or bad, ask yourself: What is the lowest, worst, and most monkey-like possible motivation for his words or behavior? That's probably it!

Why is a sports competitor praising his rival? Not likely because the rival is honestly good or truly deserving. It's probably because the competitor wants to butter him up so he doesn't try as hard, or because the first guys knows he's superior and thus feels no real rivalry with him, or because the two recently had dinner together, or because they both went to the same wild party and had sex with the same red-hot girl.

Why is writer X publicly praising writer Y? Quite possibly not based on merit or genuine admiration, but because they're intellectual allies or personal friends.

Why did that young guy just completely shave his head? No to be stylish and hip, but because he's going prematurely bald.

Why does person A seem to believe in ridiculous, jackass, religion B? Probably not due to rational calculation of truth but rather because his friends and relatives influenced him to believe or pretend thus.

If someone insistently and annoyingly defends the rights of blacks, women, gays, transgenders, Jews, left-handers, blue-eyers, chiropractors, or fortune-tellers, it probably isn't because he's a man of principle who loves liberty and rights-protection for all, but rather because openly or secretly he is black, female, gay, transgender, Jewish, etc.

If someone brags, or "accidentally" admits, that he likes Shakespeare, Masterpiece Theatre, classical music, opera, ballet, foreign films, etc. he probably really doesn't -- he just wants to look personally intelligent, educated, sophisticated, debonair, profound, complex, and subtle. But none of these is likely true of this brainless, soulless monkey -- this shallow, empty dolt, ignoramus, and baboon.

The Monkey Law is a cynical, pessimistic, crude way to look at humanity, and its motivations and underlying causes. But it's also a useful, perceptive, and generally true way.