The term cargo cult science refers to an analogy between certain fields of research in the sciences, and cargo cults—i.e. the anthropological phenomenon of some primitive tribes in which the tribe 1) regards advanced peoples as angels whose purpose is to deliver goods (cf. first contact), and 2) regards some mimicry or pantomime of their own as functionally relevant to or causal for the delivery of such goods.
The term cargo cult science was first used by the physicist Richard Feynman during his commencement address at the California Institute of Technology, United States, in 1974, to negatively characterize research in the soft sciences (psychology and psychiatry in particular) - arguing that they have the semblance of being scientific, but are missing "a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty".
- Cargo Cult Science (pdf) article with pictures as originally published in Engineering and Science, Volume 37:7, June 1974.
- Cargo Cult Science (html) by Richard P. Feynman.
- Audio Excerpts
最為知名的貨物崇拜，是於第二次世界大戰太平洋戰爭時，美軍於太平洋一 個小島建立一臨時基地。當時島上的土著看見美軍於「大鐵船」（軍艦）內出來，皆覺得十分驚訝。此外他們也看到有一些「大鐵鳥」（軍用飛機）運送穿著美軍軍 服的人，以及得多物資。這些土著看見這種情況均感到很驚訝，並覺得這些「大鐵船」及「大鐵鳥」十分厲害。加上美軍也提供部份給土著，而這些物資對土著來說十分有用，結果令這些土著將美軍當作神。
- Vanuatu cargo cult marks 50 years (BBC News)
- Information on the Jon Frum Cargo Cult (still active)
- Contemporary Cargo Cults by John FitzGerald
- Western Oceanian Religions
- 2006 Smithsonian Magazine article entitled: "In John They Trust."
- Cargo cults includes a bibliography
- Account of a Visit to a Jon Frum Village in 2005
- Air Force Magazine, January 1991, Vol. 74, No. 1. Summary from the guys who fly those Cargoes.
- Cabinet Magazine article
- Cargo Cult YouTube Video
A cargo cult is an anthropological phenomenon whereby some primitive tribes:
1) regard advanced civilization as supernatural with the ability to deliver to them goods and knowledge alien to their culture; and,
2) regard some mimicry or pantomime of this civilization on their behalf as functionally relevant to or causal for the delivery of such goods or knowledge.