Majority of Nation’s Scientific Knowledge Now Comes from Snapple Bottle Caps

A study released today by the National Science Foundation states that most of the average American’s comprehension of science originates from “Real Facts” printed on the underside of Snapple bottle caps. According to the report, the quirky facts, which appear under the caps of all Snapple and Diet Snapple drinks, have quickly eclipsed news reports, television documentaries, and even high school and university classes as the primary source for the nation’s understanding of scientific truth.

“In a survey of the American public, less than half of the respondents were able to positively identify a diagram of the periodic table, let alone articulate the concept of an element,” said Roger Flanagan, a Presidential Science Advisor and the study’s author. “However, fully 87% knew that giraffes have black tongues, as stated in Snapple Real Fact #22.”

One of the study’s strangest findings was that Snapple Real Facts frequently provide supplemental knowledge about topics that the average American can often barely comprehend. “An overwhelming majority of the population recognized the accuracy of Snapple Real Fact #117, which states that ‘Saturn would float if it were placed in a gigantic bathtub,’” said Flanagan. “This is true, of course, because the gas giant has an average density that is less than that of water. However, we were surprised to find that only 9% of Americans could identify Saturn as a planet in our own solar system. It turns out the other 91% believed that the Real Fact was referring to the car.”

Reaction from the scientific community has been mixed. “Science is not a purely theoretical field—it affects our everyday lives in a number of ways. It’s alarming that most Americans don’t know simple scientific facts that affect their personal health,” stated Sandra Vorhaus, a molecular biophysicist at Johns Hopkins University. “On the other hand, I suppose that there may be some practical value in knowing that termites eat through wood two times faster when listening to rock music. That’s #52, by the way.”

Mitchell Goldberger, CEO of the Snapple Beverage Corp., praised the study’s findings. “Our company is proud to fulfill a valuable civic function through our Real Facts program,” he said. “Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that ‘a well-informed populace is the best defense against tyranny.’ How better to fight tyranny than with a little of the ‘best stuff on Earth’?”

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President Declares National Day of New Kids on the Block Remembrance

WASHINGTON, D. C. (AP)—In a solemn ceremony yesterday in the Rose Garden, President George W. Bush declared a nationwide Day of Remembrance for the popular ’80s singing group New Kids on the Block. “We are gathered here today for a single reason,” said Bush, flanked by his Cabinet and a bipartisan Congressional delegation. “To recall five American icons: Jordan Knight, Jon Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood. They were, are, and always will be our New Kids.” The President then released five doves into the air as a lone bagpiper droned the familiar strains of “You Got It (The Right Stuff).”

President Bush proceeded to read, in chronological order, the New Kids’ complete discography. “Stop It Girl. Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind),” he intoned stoically. “Popsicle. Angel. Be My Girl.” The list was later continued by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, radio personality Casey Kasem, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The day’s impact was felt both nationally and locally, as communities across the country held their own observances. All 437 citizens of rural Hanover, Montana gathered for a candlelight vigil in Courthouse Square, where the Chester A. Arthur High School choir sang their own rendition of “What’cha Gonna Do About It?” In St. Louis, Missouri, Mayor Francis Slay unveiled five life-size murals constructed by local artists from thousands of copies of the liner notes from Step by Step, the album often referred to as “The New Kids’ Sgt. Pepper.” The remembrance was even observed in outer space, as astronauts aboard the International Space Station donned vintage “NKOTB” t-shirts and released five doves into orbit.

Some citizens chose a quieter form of remembrance. William Freedman, a Camden, New Jersey bus driver, observed the day by leafing through his complete collection of New Kids trading cards. “Here’s #76, entitled ‘Jordan andDanny at the Studio.’ Look at them: so young, so innocent…there’s so much they didn’t know,” he said. “This one’s also a sticker.”

President Bush concluded the day with a nationally televised address from the Oval Office. However, Mr. Bush immediately broke form by tossing his pre-written speech to the floor and rising from his desk. “Sometimes words alone are not enough to express what we feel,” he murmured. The President then launched into an impromptu a cappella version of the New Kids’ hit 1989 single “Hangin’ Tough.” “Listen up everybody if you wanna take a chance. / Just get on the floor and do the New Kids’ dance,” the President sang in a full and lovely tenor. “Don’t worry ’bout nothing ’cause it won’t take long. / We’re gonna put you in a trance with a funky song, ’cause you gotta be / Hangin’ tough, hangin’ tough, hangin’ tough.” After several more verses and an improvised dance break, Mr. Bush returned to his seat and concluded his remarks by repeatedly screaming, “I love you Donnie! Whoooo!”

The members of New Kids on the Block could not be located for comment.

—Originally written for The Yale Record in 2003

Whites Appropriate One Millionth Slang Term

MILLBURN, New Jersey (AP)—When fourteen year old Madison Flanders uttered the phrase “Fo’ shizzle, my nizzle” to a group of friends in the suburban Short Hills Mall, she had no idea that she was making linguistic history. Lexicographers at the American Heritage Dictionary have officially identified this statement as the one millionth time that whites have totally usurped a word from black slang into their own idiom.

“Young Madison may not fully realize its implications, but her light-hearted quip authoritatively tipped the scales of ‘fo’ shizzle, my nizzle’ in favor of Caucasian, as opposed to African-American, usage,” said Dr. William DeWitt, editor-in-chief of the dictionary. “Besides the obvious milestone this case presents, it is also noteworthy for being the fastest such appropriation we have yet recorded. The time between when blacks first used this unique phrase and whites totally coopted it is a record seven and a half months. Just for some historical perspective, it took forty-nine years for whites to put their definitive stamp on the word ‘cool.’”

If past usage trends are any indication, “Fo’ shizzle, my nizzle,” which roughly translates as “for sure, my acquaintance,” will abruptly decline in use among young blacks as new slang terms are created to take its place. However, all evidence indicates that this cycle will endlessly repeat itself, as these same novel expressions will once again fall into mainstream white usage, thus necessitating another round of linguistic invention.

“African-American teens have been the ‘R&D lab’ for new slang in the U.S. for the past hundred years,” stated Dr. DeWitt. “Ever since whites started using the word ‘hunky-dory’ around the turn of the century, this pattern has consistently recurred. However, despite the symbolic significance of cracking one million, a disturbing trend is developing. We’ve observed that the gap between when blacks first coin a new slang word and whites steal it is decreasing at a nearly exponential rate. Our current projections indicate that by 2015 the majority of whites will be using new black slang just twenty-one seconds after creation.”

Dr. DeWitt continued: “No one really knows what will happen once the black-invention-towhite-vernacular interval hits zero. Some speculate that it could be akin to entering a black hole—the everyday laws of linguistics that we live by may no longer apply. A few experts have even gone so far to say that at that point—and I know that this is hard to believe—whites may even start to invent slang for themselves, which will in turn be picked up by blacks. I can’t even imagine what such a nightmarish linguistic terrain would look like.”

Asked for comment on the “slang meltdown” described by Dr. DeWitt, Madison Flanders commented that it was “totally wack.”

—Originally written for The Yale Record in 2003