WTF is a “Cargo Cult”?

I am listening to Rear Guard Security Podcast #1 via iTunes. Ranum just mentioned “A cargo cult”.

I had no idea what that meant.

Now I know – its very odd!

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 white people 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.

Thanks Wikipedia!

3 Responses

  1. The only thing I would quibble with Wikipedia on is that sometimes, rather than trying to copy “white” influences, is that they will attempt to recapture ancient beliefs in the hopes that the ancestors will reward them with goods.

  2. In the context I used it “cargo cult” meant that they’re practicing the FORM but not the SUBSTANCE of behaviors. I.e.: “oooh, bob has an IDS I’d better get one too!! uhhh… what IS and IDS, anyway?”

  3. Thanks for the info. I am looking forward to podcast #4.

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