@andrewchen

Get the newsletter · 2018 essays (PDF) · Featured · Recent

Cargo cult science

Ever heart the term cargo cult science? Richard Feynman made a famous speech about it. Basically the idea is that science is not merely the numbers and analysis and jargon, but really hinges on a philosophy on scientific investigation. One should be very honest and try to find the truth, not argue some point at the expense of honest scientific dialog. I’ve often seen the term used when describing the science that accompanies court cases, or political discussion :(

Anyway, the term come from the "cargo cults" of the Pacific islands, where natives would set up fake airplane runways and radio towers in an effort to get a Jesus-like figure, John Frum, to send cargo planes. This stemmed from their understanding that they were behind (without cargo) because of a lack of magic or ability to conjure it, rather than because of technology/knowledge/whatever. Anyway, here’s a good overview of the phenomenon: The last cargo cult.

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.