Could you clarify the mindset behind the question? I am not sure I have a meaningful opinion of it as I am not sure what is meant by the language in the second part of the koan.
I don't think either of the two koans are as instructive as desired.
As previously pointed out, a cult can still teach useful information; noticing that you have learned useful information is not sufficient to differentiate a cult from a non-cult.
It seems there are two different interpretations to the ending of the second koan: that the student understood that clothing doesn't matter, or that he didn't. It depends on whether the clown suit merely represents Robes 2.0 or whether it is counter-cultish behavior.
--- Robes 2.0: What is the point of the robes, then? If the student is questioning the point of the robes, the answer is not to say, "it doesn't matter; just focus on my teachings". Okay, then why not take off the robes? The question goes completely unaddressed. It's not like the master treated it as a teaching opportunity, where the whole point of the robes is for the student to question the robes. Or was that the point? In which case, the learning occurs more as a "ok, Master is full of shit" moment, rather than "aha I see that Master has taught another great lesson", which I think is less than ideal.
--- Counter-cultish: What are we supposed to take from this story? The student had a legitimate question which the master refused to answer, and instead solidified a mistaken impression on the student? Sounds like a real wise master.
Actually, what exactly are the arguments/evidence that distinguish these two hypotheses?
I'm pretty new at evolutionary biology so I don't really know... anyone want to point me in the right direction?