Cargo Cult Science

three clear beakers placed on tabletop

This is a brilliant talk (I came across this via a link) that merits a full read. I apologise that the complete context of the article isn’t available (or the scientist) who had delivered this, but it merits repetition here. Follow the link through at the bottom of the blurb. I have emphasised the key point here (to be read in conjunction with the current AI flux and autonomous cars, etc.)

In the South Seas there is a Cargo Cult of people.  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 a 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, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

Cargo Cult Science

Cargo cult science in the context of autonomous vehicles- been there to nowhere!