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  1. Jul 2017
    1. Cargo cultism is the bureaucratic rationality of blindly following established procedures and respecting authority. In the moral domain, that can lead ordinary people into committing genocide without reflection; in science, it leads to nutritional recommendations that may also have killed millions of people. When you look into how those recommendations were arrived at, it becomes obvious that honesty would compel the entire field of nutrition science to resign in recognition of its total failure—both scientific failure and moral failure.
    2. “Doing what scientists do” is not doing science, and won’t deliver—just as “doing what a ground crew does” doesn’t bring planes. It’s just going through the motions.
    3. In other words, you can only begin your career as a scientist by doing cargo-cult science. Eventually—if you are smart and lucky—you can upgrade. But almost all scientists get stuck at the cargo cult stage; and almost all supposed science is cargo culting.
    4. “Cargo cult” describes not just science, but much of what everyone does in sophisticated rich countries. I’m not speaking of our religions; I mean our jobs and governments and schools and medical systems, which frequently fail to deliver. Companies run on cargo cult business management; states run on cargo cult policies; schools run on cargo cult education theories (Feynman mentioned this one); mainstream modern medicine is mostly witch doctoring. An outsider could see that these cannot deliver, because they are scripted busy-work justified by ideologies that lack contact with reality. Often they imitate activities that did work once, for reasons that have been forgotten or were never understood.