Thursday, November 12, 2009

Duly quoted


Cargo cult science


I mentioned this the other day, but it deserves its own post:

During the war they saw airplanes land 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 the man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like 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 ...

---Richard Feynman in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman

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