“A Fable,” New Era, May 1976, 25
Once upon a time there was a little Slobovian boy named Gorb who lived in a little boardinghouse with 10,000 Slobovians. Every morning all 10,001 of them were served the most nutritious breakfast cereal available anywhere—Captain Steadfast’s Forthright Whole Wheat Crunchies. Now federal agencies and senate hearings had proven not only that Captain Steadfast’s was the best breakfast food known to man but also that it was, spoonful for spoonful, the most economical cereal on the market. And it tasted great.
One morning just at breakfast time a stranger walked into the boardinghouse and casually tossed a new cereal onto the table that, he said, was groovy, outasight, and everyone was eating. It was called Gurgle, Twaddle, and Sop. Some of the guys said they had heard it was pretty bad, but 10,000 hands nevertheless reached for the box and heaped their bowls high because, after all, it obviously was the thing to do. However, when the box came to Gorb he kindly said, “No, thank you,” and he poured himself a bowl of Forthright Whole Wheat Crunchies.
“Comment!”* roared a chorus of 10,000 Slobovian voices.
“Well, it isn’t any great mystery,” replied Gorb. “I just read on the box here that Gurgle, Twaddle, and Sop has no vitamins, no proteins, none of the good stuff Captain Steadfast’s has, and it even admits to having some real junk in it. The price looks pretty expensive, and I’ve heard it can really taste gross. Besides—I like these Crunchies.”
At that point 10,000 fists hit Gorb on the jaw. “What gall,” mused Gorb as he shrugged his shoulders and went on eating his Captain Steadfast’s.
But even as Gorb was taking his lonely stand, some strange things began to happen around the table. Many of the 10,000 said they were sick; some said they were seeing strange things; a few said they couldn’t see anything at all. Several fell face first into their Gurgle, Twaddle, and Sop, and at least one just cried and cried. But those who were still able kept forcing down the G, T, & S because, after all, somebody had said it was groovy and outasight and everybody was eating it.
It wasn’t long before just one person remained sitting at the table; 10,000 others were screaming around the room or sobbing at their benches or just retching on the floor. The place was a bad scene that didn’t look either groovy or outasight, but at least everybody was doing it—except Gorb. He just quietly finished his Whole Wheat Crunchies and wondered why new always meant better to so many people.
Moral: 10,000 Slobovians can be wrong.