Re: Richard Brodie: this beats all your tricks!

Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog (
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 20:31:26 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 20:31:26 -0500
From: (Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog)
Subject: Re: Richard Brodie: this beats all your tricks!

>Dear colleagues memeticists,
>This is just a good story. But I thought it was one subscribers of this
>list shouldn't miss.
>Richard Brodie showed us a lot of tricks to spread a meme in his book,
>but read this one.
>We bought us a box of cornflakes. On the box was a little quiz: 20
>statements to be answered with right or wrong, at about the level of
>10-year-olds. One had to cut out statements and answers and make some
>kind of device whereby one could first look at the statement (e.g.:
>there are more stars than people), whereafter one could let pop out the
>columns 'Right' and 'Wrong'. The answer was indicated as a cross in one
>of both columns. As such, children could check whether they had answered
>I could answer all questions, which reassured me that my knowledge was
>at least that of a 10-year-old, something I had started doubting about
>seriously after subscribing to this list.
>Except for one question: 'Man descends from ape'. I had answered
>'right', but the cross was in the 'Wrong' column.
>When I told this during the coffee break at our lab, someone said: of
>course, you had Quaker cornflakes!!
>What an ingenious way to spread a meme: hiding your creationist message
>between 19 correctly answered 'scientific' statements, offering it as a
>toy, presenting it to children, on a packet of food! Richard, this beats
>all the tricks you presented! Quakers are really smart for being
>Mario Vaneechoutte

I asked some people about this, and was told by a Quaker colleague:

>I would also point out that "Quaker" cereals have nothing to do with
>the American Society of Friends, American Friends Service Committee,
>or any other Quaker organization; rather, the originator of the firm
>chose that symbol because he thought it would appear trustworthy,
>wholesome, and all like that. Purely an advertising stunt.

The "firm" he mentions is Quaker Oats and their corporate subdivisions.

He, and another colleague as well, pointed out that the Quakers are not a
creationist religious group, in the sense that they do not make literal
acceptance of the Biblical story a part of their beliefs.

Also, strictly speaking, human beings are not descended from any living
ape. Instead, we share a common ancestry with the chimp, gorilla, and so
on. I do not know if this technicalism was intended by the people who
wrote the questions.

Nor am I sure if this story is "net lore" or a real event. Mario's phrase
"This is just a good story" might mean that it's net lore, but I'm not

Any information on this?

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