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Cargo Cult Science

I ran across the term “cargo cult science” and was trying to get a better
understanding of the term. Here is what the late Professor Feynman defined
cargo cult science as:

In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to
happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put
fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man
to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head to headphones and bars
of bamboo sticking out like antennas–he’s the controller–and they wait
for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form
is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t
work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science,
because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific
investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the
planes don’t land.

I think nowadays many would use the term pseudoscience to describe
this phenomenon. But the most important thing about cargo cult
science or pseudoscience is a misunderstanding of what the scientific
method is about. Unfortunately, politics and economics can influence
the ‘scientific truth’ far more than one can think.

Read Dr. feynman’s description of cargo cult science

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