Cargo Cults of the Unconscious Mind

We have all heard of the South Seas islanders who belong to bizarre cargo cults. The cults got started shortly after WW II when the Americans pulled out of their many military bases scattered across the Pacific. It was cheaper to leave large quantities of supplies and gear behind than to transport them home so, as is so often the case with the Americans, they generously donated the materiel to the inhabitants of the islands. Having seen all this abundance arrive in airplanes, but not understanding where it came from, the less sophisticated natives decided they could get more of this cargo (and thus secure eternal peace and happiness) by simply luring passing planes from the sky. All they had to do was clear a rough runway, build a wooden plane for a decoy, and set up some homemade landing lights by making fires lined up in neat parallel rows.

Douglas C-47 Cargo Plane

Not all cargo cults have to do with South Seas islanders and US supply planes. The West has its own peculiar cargo cults. (Image: public domain)

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