Cavemen of higher education

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page. The HBD — happy birthday — note is presumably for one of Piraro’s two K-named daughters.)

A twist on the caveman cartoon meme, with a Neanderthal pursuing a higher education. And attempting to get college credit for his life experiences.

Let’s call the caveman in #1 Thag, after the Far Side‘s Thag Simmons:


(#2) Gary Larson’s 1982 tribute to Thag Simmons

Life/work experience. Many, perhaps most, US online universities have programs for awarding college credit for life or work experience; a few traditional colleges do.

The intention is for a granting college to recognize knowledge gained through work and life experiences, of the sort that might have been obtained at another educational institution and then transferred to the granting college. Note: the credit is not for the experiences themselves, but for the knowledge — in fact, the explicit knowledge — gained through them (which might then be verified by testing).

Thag is hoping to pursue a degree in archaeology, defined as in Wikipedia:

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. … It is particularly important for learning about prehistoric societies, for whom there may be no written records to study.

Now it’s not enough for Thag to have lived in a prehistoric society, immersed in its culture; we all live in societies, with cultures, but that doesn’t make us sociologists or anthropologists. It’s (probably) not even enough that Thag’s able to serve as a consultant on his prehistoric society and its material culture; we are all, in principle, able to serve as consultants in a similar way, but that doesn’t make us social scientists.

The crucial ability would be for Thag to show that he has explicit knowledge about the organization of his society and the nature of the elements of its culture. He needs to be able to act like an archaeologist.

Walk like a caveman, talk like a scientist.

A better class of caveman. Thag’s brethren have achieved some kind of fame in a series of ads for GEICO insurance (on GEICO and its clever ad campaigns, see my 8/23/15 posting “Kraken! And GEICO!”). From Wikipedia:

The GEICO Cavemen are trademarked characters of the auto insurance company GEICO, used in a series of television advertisements that aired beginning in 2004.

[You can watch an assemblage of the ads here (#3).]

The campaign was created by Joe Lawson and Noel Ritter while working at The Martin Agency. According to an episode of the public radio show 99% Invisible, “It’s so easy a caveman could do it” was first coined by Ritter. The inspiration for the campaign came from Pastoralia, a short story by George Saunders – the story revolves around two employees, a man and a woman, who work as “cave-people” for a failing theme park. In 2004, GEICO began an advertising campaign featuring Neanderthal-like cavemen in a modern setting. The premise of the commercials is that GEICO advertises that using their website is “so easy, a caveman could do it”; and that this slogan offends several cavemen, who not only still exist in modern society but live as intelligent, urbane bachelors. The first three GEICO commercials to feature cavemen were “Apartment”, “Apology”, and “Boom Mic”.

Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ben Weber played the two earliest cavemen and continuously reprise their roles. Actor John Lehr appears most frequently as the caveman,


(#4) John Lehr in character

while Ben Wilson has also portrayed one of the characters. The makeup effects for the caveman include facial prosthetics, dental veneers, lace hairpieces, and body hair, and were designed and created by Tony Gardner and his special effects company Alterian, Inc…

[The entry provides a list of 21 ads, beginning with:]

— 1. As a fake, caveman-insensitive commercial is being filmed, the boom operator turns out to be a Neanderthal caveman who stops the filming and yells “Not cool!”

— 2. Two cavemen in their apartment watch the ad from commercial # 1 on TV, and take offense at its condescending tone, as it makes cavemen seem less intelligent.

— 3. A spokesman meets with two cavemen in a restaurant to apologize for the promotion, explaining that “we had no idea you guys were still around.” One of the cavemen tells the waiter, “I’ll have the roast duck with the mango salsa.” Considered as a subtle jab at AFLAC, for its duck mascot (AFLAC once televised a humorous commercial; having duck served in an Asian restaurant to potential buyers of the insurance programs). The other caveman informs the waiter that “I don’t have much of an appetite, thank you.” (Writer Ron Rosenbaum called the roast-duck line “the iconic moment” of the ad series, due to “the surreal contradictions” of cavemen “au courant enough to be unimpressed by now antiquated nouvelle cuisine.”)

3 Responses to “Cavemen of higher education”

  1. Tim Evanson Says:

    Actor Matthew John Armstrong looks so similar to the GEICO caveman that he’s been mistaken for him on the street.

    His resume allegedly has the line “NOT the GEICO Caveman!” at the top.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    Wayno’s title for the cartoon, on his Facebook page: Delta Cro Magnon.

  3. [BLOG] Some Wednesday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky looks at the treatment of cavemen, as subjects and providers of education, in pop […]

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