Monkeys & Shakespeare

As a brief diversion from Turnbull’s implosion, I just came accross the following story from the BBC:

The study: A single computer was placed in a monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo to monitor the literary output of six primates.

Who and when: Students at University of Plymouth, 2003, paid for from a £2,000 Arts Council grant

The aim: To test the “infinite monkey theory”, which states that if a monkey hits keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, it will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

What was learnt: The theory is flawed. After one month – admittedly not an “infinite” amount of time – the monkeys had partially destroyed the machine, used it as a lavatory, and mostly typed the letter “s”.

Of course, the lesson learnt (according to  current public policy theory at least)  isn’t that the theory is flawed at all, rather, that we need to pump even more money into this research…

(H/T Barking Up The Wrong Tree)

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