A brief explanation for the uninitiated: The Usenet Oracle is all seeing, all powerful, and generally a smartass. The “lowly supplicants” send the Oracle their pitiful requests for knowledge, and he answers.
For information about how to ask questions of (or answer questions as) the Usenet Oracle, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “help” in your subject line.
The Usenet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:
Oh wise and omnipotent Oracle; Is man the master of his own destiny, or is there a master plan?
And in response, thus spake the Oracle:
Of course there’s a plan! The kids are following it pretty well, too.
I’ve got a wonderful class. Here’s a copy of the instructions:
READ THROUGH THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE PROCEEDING.
ALWAYS OBSERVE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS! USE A LAB COAT AND GOGGLES!
BEFORE THE EXPERIMENT:
Prepare a planet with a stable ecosystem and near-surface hydrocarbons and fissionables. This will be the substrate for the experiment.
EXPERIMENT 1 (Effect of Environment on Individuals):
Place a small quantity of monkeys (Grade H or I) on the substrate. Observe their reaction. How long do the monkeys survive? Try placing them at different distances from the equator. Place some in an ocean. Put a few on the pole. Which region is optimal? Does your finding agree with the data book value for Standard monkeys? Can you explain the difference, if any?
EXPERIMENT 2 (Effect of Environment on Species):
Place a small quantity of monkeys in a forest near the equator. What happens? (If nothing happens for a long time, add some Non-tree-climbing Carnivores as a catalyst.) Plot the average length of the monkeys’ tails as a function of time. What can be observed? What causes the lengthening?
EXPERIMENT 3 (Effect of Environment on Species):
Put some monkeys on a savannah. In a short while, you should be able to see a change in the monkeys. Compare the hind and front legs of a changed monkey. Can the hind feet still grasp objects? What happens to the tail? What does the monkey do with its front legs now that they are not used for walking? Save some of these changed monkeys for the next experiment.
EXPERIMENT 4 (Emergence of Sentience):
NOTE: IF THE MONKEYS DEVELOP “SPEECH”, DISPLAY SIGNS OF “INTELLIGENCE”, OR START SMOKING, PLACE THE EXPERIMENT IN AN ICE BATH TO SLOW THE REACTION. Continue to observe the bipedal monkeys you synthesized in the previous experiment. ZOT trees near monkey colonies. Do the monkeys start using fire? ZOT some mammoths. Did you induce primitive mysticism? Can you get the monkeys to worship you? (Hint: If they have developed speech, try picking one as a “prophet” and ZOT a few “unbelievers”.)
EXPERIMENT 5 (Effect of Species on Environment):
Continue to observe the talking monkeys. You should see more complex tool use and the emergence of technology. Are the monkeys using the near-surface hydrocarbons you provided? How long will they last? What do you suppose the monkeys will do when they are running out? Can you observe any nuclear explosions? Do monkeys get killed by them? Are they accidental?
After the experiment, dispose of the planet. Note that it may be radioactive. Wash the solar system and wipe the desk.
VIDEO DEMONSTRATION (Effect of Individuals on Environment):
After watching the video, describe the mechanism that causes a huge number of monkeys to follow a single leader, and speculate on their reasoning behind giving one single monkey the authority to launch thermonuclear devices to devastate their home planet.