domingo, 15 de julio de 2007

Las soluciones no son magicas

Pero algunos actuan como si lo fueran, llovera en el Comahue?

A cargo cult is any of a group of unorthodox religious movements appearing in tribal societies in the wake of Western impact, especially in New Guinea and Melanesia. Cargo cults sometimes maintain that manufactured western goods ("cargo") have been created by divine spirits and are intended for the local indigenous people, but that Westerners have unfairly gained control of these objects. Cargo cults thus focus on overcoming what they perceive as undue 'white' influences by conducting rituals similar to the white behavior they have observed, presuming that the ancestors will at last recognize their own and send them cargo. Thus a characteristic feature of cargo cults is the belief that spiritual agents will at some future time give much valuable cargo and desirable manufactured products to the cult members. In other instances such as on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, cult members worship Americans who brought the cargo. [1]

Based on the above definition, cargo cult is also used in business and science to refer to a particular type of fallacy whereby ill-considered effort and ceremony takes place but goes unrewarded due to a flawed model of causation. For example, Maoism has been referred to as "cargo cult Leninism" and New Zealand's optimistic adoption of liberal economic policies in the 1980s as "cargo cult capitalism".

Discussions of cargo cults usually begin with a series of movements that occurred in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The earliest recorded cargo cult was the Tuka Movement that began in Fiji in 1885. Cargo cults occurred periodically in many parts of the island of New Guinea, including the Taro Cult in Northern Papua New Guinea, and the Vailala Madness that arose in 1919 and was documented by F.E. Williams, one of the first anthropologists to conduct fieldwork in Papua New Guinea. Less dramatic cargo cults have appeared in western New Guinea as well, including the Asmat and Dani areas.

The classic period of cargo cult activity, however, was in the years during and after World War II. The vast amounts of war matériel that were airdropped into these islands during the Pacific campaign against the Empire of Japan necessarily meant drastic changes to the lifestyle of the islanders, many of whom had never seen Westerners or Japanese before. Manufactured clothing, medicine, canned food, tents, weapons and other useful goods arrived in vast quantities to equip soldiers — and also the islanders who were their guides and hosts. With the end of the war the airbases were abandoned, and "cargo" was no longer being dropped.

In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood, and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses. The cultists thought that the foreigners had some special connection to their own ancestors, who were the only beings powerful enough to produce such riches.

In a form of sympathetic magic, many built life-size mockups of airplanes out of straw, and created new military style landing strips, hoping to attract more airplanes. Ultimately, though these practices did not bring about the return of the god-like airplanes that brought such marvelous cargo during the war, they did have the effect of eradicating the religious practices that had existed prior to the war.

Over the last seventy-five years most cargo cults have petered out. Yet, the John Frum cult is still active on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu. And from time to time, the term "cargo cult" is invoked as an English language idiom, to mean any group of people who imitate the superficial exterior of a process or system without having any understanding of the underlying substance.

The term is perhaps best known because of a speech by physicist Richard Feynman at a Caltech commencement, wherein he referred to "cargo cult science", and which became a chapter in the book Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!. In the speech, Feynman pointed out that cargo cultists create all the appearance of an airport right down to headsets with bamboo "antennas", yet the airplanes don't come. Feynman argued that some scientists often produce studies with all the trappings of real science, but which are nonetheless pseudoscience and unworthy of either respect or support.

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