Can we induce morality in sea monkeys?

The question of whether or not morality can be induced in another species has troubled me for some time. In an attempt to answer this question, I performed an experiment on some sea monkey’s I happened to aquire (note: I chose sea monkey’s b/c the package they came in clearly showed them living in stable familial groups and that their technology level was high enough to enable them to construct fairly complex shelters). The results–posted below–were inconclusive so I was wondering if anyone had performed similar experiments. If so, I would appreciate it greatly if you would post your results.
Thank you for your time.


29 January 1998: Initial Experiment

In an attempt to induce an organized system of morality in the seamonkeys I received at our office Christmas party, I’ve decided to introduce them to religion. This was done by lowering a 2 inch, plastic Cat-in-the-Hat icon into their environment. It is hoped that the seamonkey’s will, by being confronted with an overwhelmingly large and (to them) incomprehensible event (i.e. the introduction of the plastic icon into their jar), begin to formulate some sort of belief in the supernatural in order to explain the previously mentioned ‘event’. In the second stage of this experiment, I have decided to use a straw to randomly remove a few seamonkeys from their jar and then (after a few minutes of vigorous shaking) return them to the jar. It is hoped that this experience will induce a significant proportion of the abducted seamonkeys to claim that they have ‘special knowledge’ of their environment (i.e. there’s a big guy on the outside of our jar who enjoys torturing us) and then become the precursor’s of a new priestly class by using this insight to scare the hell out of their peers.

3 Febuary 1998: Preliminary Results

I have been unable to observe any signs of religious activity among the seamonkeys (no visible haranguing of the masses, no signs that the seamonkeys are nailing each other to trees, etc.) since the introduction of the Cat-in-the-Hat icon into their tank. Given this information, I hypothesize that brine shrimp have a ‘steady state’ type of religious conciousness wherein the entire culture converts enmass to whatever morality system is articulated by the ‘priestly class’ (in this case the ‘Abductees’ which, I might add, were incredibly hard to capture)–hence no religious conflict and no need to harangue folks or to nail heretics to chunks of wood, etc.
EXPERIMENT 1A: In an attempt to induce some sort of religious conflict in the Seamonkey community, I have introduced a vibrating Mr. Potato Head icon to the other side of the glass jar (this is interesting in and of itself–who in the world would come up with the idea of converting a standard Mr. Potato Head into some sort of massaging device?! Amazing…). I feel that the Mr. Potato Head icon, with its goggly eyes, blindingly orange nose, and paunchy build, will cause the seamonkeys which (by design or accident) frequent it’s side of the jar to display social and moral characteristics which are substantially different from the ones displayed by the Cat-in-the-Hat devotees. In addition, I will utilize the vibration mode of the Mr. Potato Head to ‘rock the seamonkey’s world’ by causing it to shake the entire jar for a few moments. It will be interesting to see if the faith of a few zealots (i.e. the Abductee’s on the Cat-in-the-Hat side) will be sufficient to maintain the old religious system in the wake of the societal vibrations caused by Mr. Potato Head.

3 March 1998: Final Results

I am sorry to announce that my experiments on inducing morality in seamonkeys must be considered an unmitigated failure. At no time during the experiments did I see any evidence of moral behavior or even immoral behavior from the test subjects (although, with a strict Puritanical worldview, aimlessly roaming around their jar could be considered ‘immoral’ I suppose). In addition, further experimentation is now impossible as the test subjects had the bad grace to ‘pass on’ over the weekend. The cause of death is uncertain–their numbers had been diminishing steadily for weeks) as my attempts to perform an autopsy on several of the larger corpses caused them to be mashed into an unrecognizable . There is no hard evidence linking the unfortunate demise of the seamonkeys to my attempts to instill moral fiber in them, however. I believe the experiment failed because it was not undertaken in a controlled laboratory setting. The unbridled enthusiasm of my co-workers once they learned of my experiment led to several ‘contamination events’ during the course of my studies including: abducting the entire biosphere in a well-intentioned attempt to ‘rescue’ the seamonkeys (I should note that I found the poor buggers sandwiched between a gigantic portrait of someone’s glowering family and a hulking, faceless lace angel figure–I don’t doubt that the rapid transition from the relatively benign Mr. Potato Head/Cat-in-the-Hat environment to this harsh reality would shock even the most settled culture). In addition, several lame attempts at humor such as putting an ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign over the seamonkey biosphere and calling me ‘Herr Doktor Mengele’ in front of the test subjects could not help but introduce even more moral structures than were already influencing them. Lastly, and most seriously in my professional opinion, several of my co-workers got carried away in their enthusiasm for my work and literally encrusted the entire biosphere with plastic figurines of slavering lizards, bug-eyed frogs, and various unsavory arachnids. When I arrived, there were so many of these hellish idols clustered around the experiment that there was no way that the test subjects could get sunlight, much less see their ‘gods’. One can only wonder what the abrupt eclipse of a culture’s holy icons by such demonic figures would have on the general populace. Obviously the lack of a laboratory environment seriously contaminates any results that can be gleaned from this experiment.
On a final, more optimistic note, I did notice that the seamonkey jar was positioned by my ‘When in trouble, when in doubt; run in circles, scream and shout’ sign. Although I never heard any ‘shout outs’ from the test subjects, they certainly swam in circles constantly. Perhaps I didn’t induce morality in them, but I surely induced confusion. Any way you slice it, I got my $1.50’s worth of fun out of them…

The cruelhearted experiments you performed are nothing short of an outrage and I am suffering terrible anguish and emotional pain because of that exploitation.

I’m calling PETA!!!

And the ACLU for violating their Freedom of Religion!

That was funny as hell, by the way: :slight_smile:

I was about to say that’s easy, put 'em in the microwave, until I realized you didn’t say “mortality.”

I don’t know about the brine shrimp in your “bioshphere” but my years working at Biosphere II lead me to think you might have some results with a pseudo-druid approach. The gift shop there sold “Ecospheres”, sealed glass globes with a few shrimp and some algae. They survive a long time if given correct light but I never heard them say “amen brother.”

You should have pulled the plug before you got to the Dr. Mengele bit.

Hmmm. When they died, they weren’t all wearing Nikes by any chance? Tiny purple shrouds?

Not to mention the blatant prejudice displayed in the OP’s initial premise, namely that religion–in the form of the most base, Cat-in-the-Hat worshipping superstition–is somehow necessary for morality. I’ll have you know that atheistic sea monkeys are just as moral as their superstitious little aquarium-mates.

I’m adding the Freedom From Religion Foundation to the list of organizations to be contacted.

Maybe we should all sue the Chicago Reader, too.*

[sub]*Note to Moderators: That was a joke. Please do not shoot me. Thank you.[/sub]

Dude! You missed your chance to conclusively prove your point! All you had to do was “show them the light.”

Seriously though, you were too soft.

Next time try the highly effective Crusader Technique. Get some plastic drink swords, and every so often hold the Cat in The Hat near the tank. Spear any that do not swim directly towards it with the little sword. Repeat whenver you are feeling as if you are lacking in power over them. Replace Sea Monkeys as required. Eventually you’ll have a few that worship the Cat. Only then can you instill in them some values of your choosing. That’s when you’ll have to break out the miniature rack, wheels, and some kitchen matches to act as stakes :slight_smile:

That’s the funniest OP I’ve read in a long time Wabbit, so much so that I shall now have to sue you for damages sustained to my keyboard from fluids being nasally ejected on it while reading your post.

PS Where can I buy a vibrating Mr Potato Head?

Hmm, I don’t mind everyone contacting those various organizations as long as they furnish more test subjects for me.
How do you think a person from PETA would react to a large Cat-in-the-Hat icon? Or a vibrating Mr. Potato Head? Could they be induced to worship it as a god?

These are the burning questions which keep me up at night… :wink:

And I beg to differ on the religion part: the fact that a species (i.e. us) exists that created NOT ONLY a Mr. Potato Head toy but then ALSO had the sophistication to make it vibrate, well, call me crazy but that speaks to something, somewhere managing our evolution. I would further assert that if we ever find life on other planets, the best way to judge not only their technological but also their spiritual advancement would be to see if they have a comparable device.

Wabbit …

May I have your permission to reprint your OP in Teemings Extras?

Oh, don’t worry. Moderators don’t shoot posters. That is a privilege reserved for administrators.

DO hold still for a moment, would you?

[sub]This message has been brought to you by the Re-Elect Lynn for Lord High Executioner Committee[/sub]

Thanks! And glad you all liked it. As far as buying a V-MPH, I’m afraid that technology is highly restricted. I mean, you’ve already seen how much damage one slightly twisted individual has caused with one! Would you really be comfortable unleashing this technology on an unsuspecting world? Think of the drop-off in numbers of brine shrimp if nothing else…

I swear God, I was working on something exactly like this. It had to do with Sea-Monkey morality, and the fact the it was actually I who invented the ecosphere, using the highly evolved Artemia Nyos (Sea Monkeys) instead of the cheesy little shrimp.

What are the chances of something like that happening?
(Mine wasn’t as good as Wabbit’s though)

You should consider publishing this essay in the Annals of Improbable Research:

Oh my god, my brain is on the same wavelength as the guy who’s daughter craps on cats. I think I’m going to start free-basing Prozac now… :wink:

Re: Bad Astronomer–done! Wish me luck.

Once you have the trademark water leash it’s easy to catch Sea Monkeys.

What I like to do is catch a Sea Monkey, fill a shot glass with Vodka, and drop the Sea Monkey in. Then you do the shot.

If you are really tough, than you can do flaming Sea Monkey shots!

I don’t know about inducing morality into Sea Monkeys, but I know how to make the depraved. All you need to do is put a couple of drops of Vodka into their little aquarium. Cover them with a towel, so it’s real dark. Wait about five minutes, then wip the towel off and shine a bright flashlight at them while yelling “Freeze Motherfucker! Police!”

I swear to you they’ll freak out.

If you killed all your Sea monkeys don’t worry about it. They are a 100% renewable pet. Just keep your aquarium, and let all the water evaporate. Once it’s dry, refill it with aerated fresh distilled water. Your Sea monkeys will come back to life!

Now you can do more shots!

The other thing that’s fun to do is get a clear mason jar, and fill it with homemade seawater(you can buy the makings of Seawater real cheap at a pet store.) Mix it to twice normal strength. Put a little gravel in the bottom. Put in a couple of Sea Monkeys and some food. Let the ecosystem come into balance and seal the top on the jar. If it’s only 2/3 full you’ll have created your own ecosphere that will live forever (unless you kill it.) Make sure there is some green algae in the jar first.

If you have a fish tank, it’s always fun to drop a Sea monkey in! Fish love Sea monkeys! They play tag. The Sea Monkey always loses.

Another fun thing to do is get a tub of water and put it outside. Add a bunch of salt, and throw your Sea Monkeys in. With a little luck they’ll breed prodigiously on whatever falls into the tub, and soon you’ll have millions of them!

Can you do a shot for each one?

You can strain them out of the water, grind them into a meal, and make 100% natural Sea monkey burgers! Natures perfect food.

You can read William Blake to Sea Monkeys, and they don’t mind.

You can tell them about the girl that left you.

You can have sex with your Sea Monkeys…

Ummm. Never mind.

I think I may have detected a slight flaw in your methodology, Wabbit. The sheer power of the Vibrating Mr. Potato Head as a religious icon may have overwhelmed the results.

I know, for I am currently the Bearer of the Vibrating Mr. Potato Head for my office. People come from all over the building to worship him, rubbing him all over their shoulders, and making noises of a religious nature.

If this icon has that sort of power over humans, imagine its effect on the Sea Monkeys. It’d be like… living next door to Cthulhu.

Perhaps a more neutral symbol of faith? Like a cheese dog, or a Furby?

It seems obvious to me that the demise of your sea monkeys was due to the addition of the religious icons around their world. As the different factions broke off and begin worship in their own manner, tensions between the different groups began to grow and grow.
At last, with the tension in the tank so thick you could spead it with a knife, some small callous remake made by one monkey to another regarding his or her different beliefs, led to a religious holocaust from which none survived.
While you may not have been able to instill morality into your group, at least you did give them some sort of devotieism and a cause that they felt was worth dieing for.
Hmmm, sounds kinda like the Middle East.

You’ve given me an idea for a follow-up experiment. What if we took your fornicating, drinking, lazing around seamonkey’s and put them in the same tank with my strictly moral, Potato-Head worshipping seamonkey’s. Maybe seamonkey’s don’t have the diverse, culturally-complex religions we do: they’re just moral or amoral. In which case they should fight each other (which was kind of the whole point to this thing anyway). And I think mine, with the fire that can only come from the spiritual knowledge that Mr. Potato Head can instill in it’s worshippers, would kick the living bejesus outta yours. Then we’d really see some heretic bar-b-cue’s, I tell ya… :wink:

Isn’t comparing the V-MPH to Cthulhu, like, BLASPHEMY?!?!