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08-08-2009, 17:02   #1
gvn
 
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Cargo Cults and John Frum

I found this pretty long article on cargo cults, specifically the John Frum cult on the Islands of Vanuatu, from the Smithsonian Magazine to be very good.

A quick definition of a Cargo Cult, so you can see what topic the article covers:

Quote:
A cargo cult is a type of religious practice that may appear in primitive tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced, non-native cultures. The cults are focused on obtaining the material wealth of the advanced culture through magical thinking, religious rituals and practices, believing that the wealth was intended for them by their deities and ancestors.
Absolutely fascinating.
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08-08-2009, 19:09   #2
 
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I always found Cargo Cults to be amazing. They show how quickly a belief system can become established.
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08-08-2009, 21:28   #3
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Scientology is newer and larger phenomenon. It shows what money and threatening with Lawyers can do to establish a "belief system" quickly.

Can the Admins change my name now?
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09-08-2009, 16:10   #4
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Scientology is newer and larger phenomenon.
But it's unarguably less interesting. I doubt that there are too many Scientologists who actually believe in the doctrines of Scientology. As you say below, it's a church where money rules.

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It shows what money and threatening with Lawyers can do to establish a "belief system" quickly.
The difference between the cargo cults and Scientology is the sincerity and earnestness of their followers. The belief of those in a cargo cult is solemn, while the belief of a Scientologist (in the vast majority of cases I'd imagine) is absolutely insincere.
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10-08-2009, 12:54   #5
 
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Good article.

I can't agree with you on Scientology though. Whatever about the founder and the higher ups the only reason it works is exactly because people sincerely believe. I mean would you pay hundreds (thousands) of euro for treatments you didn't think worked?
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10-08-2009, 19:57   #6
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I remember reading about this in one of Sean Moncrieff's books (I think it may have been God: A User's Guide).
I then saw the cult of John Frum on the BBC series "Around The World In 80 Faiths". You should be able to find that entire series on youtube if you search for it.
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11-08-2009, 19:08   #7
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Originally Posted by --amadeus-- View Post
Good article.

I can't agree with you on Scientology though. Whatever about the founder and the higher ups the only reason it works is exactly because people sincerely believe. I mean would you pay hundreds (thousands) of euro for treatments you didn't think worked?
Yah, you're right. I was generalizing the belief of Scientologists.

But still, the fact that Scientology has insincere and planned foundations, verses the almost spontaneous and "organic" foundations of the cargo cults, means to me that it's far less interesting.
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12-08-2009, 01:53   #8
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I remember being highly skeptical about these 'cults' when I first heard of them, I presumed that it was 'White' Propaganda and historic revisionisim to show how 'vastly superior' We were over them.

then I went to Chisoul where I witnessed this first hand, a lot of what they say in the article about it being their version of a 'Gaelic revival' called Kastom makes a lot of sense, but yeah the cargo Cult is a very real thing, the aulfella 'joseph' that I talked to about it remmembers it, it started in the 20's and thirties with missionaries, but at that stage it was only small scale as the boats only cvame once a month, he saisd that it would have died out except for the American involvement in the islands during WW2.

Bear in mind that the locals prayed vigorosly during the thirties for more Cargo, then as if by magic their prayers get answered in the 40's, you can see how shrewd 'priests' could twist these events to 'prove' that their faith is not unfounded.

the old 'runways' that they built can be very interesting too, they demonstrate a basic understanding of what a runway is for whilst its abundantly clear that there is no understanding of the principles involved in how they work, I've seen one that was curved, I've seen one that has the peak of a hillock in the midle of it, I've seen whats left of one carved on a sand dune.

I had a theory in the CT Forum that Some of the Nazaca lines came about in the same manner
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01-09-2009, 16:59   #9
 
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Arugably the cargo cult is a pre-scientific science, and not a cult at all, not in the same league as worshipping the gray haired chap in the sky. What the islanders saw was.

1) People come
2) Build runways and towers.
3) Call in supplies with telephones.

To the best of their abilities they tried to replicate these actions. What was unclear to them was the hidden mechanisms, the electronics etc. ( I know there was also some worship of John Frum but humans do that sort of thing).

Was that stupid? Was it even religious? The electronics part could not have been even dreamt off by them. It would be as if Aliens came to earth, seemed to have some technology which involved electronics ( which we can understand) and some other mechanism ( which we can not). Say telepathy. And we mimic what we can understand, but fail the bit we couldnt even begin to understand. Is that not a sort of science?


As far as the Islanders knew, you built the tower, the runway, and the telephone ( whose innards you couldnt have guessed) and stuff dropped from the sky. They replicated that to the best of their ability.
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14-08-2019, 14:51   #10
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https://meaningness.com/metablog/upg...our-cargo-cult
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14-08-2019, 15:05   #11
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There's a story that back in the forties Issac Asimov bumped into Ron Hubbard and they got to talking about how hard it was to make a living writing science fiction. Hubbard said to Asimov, "The only way to make real money is to start a religion." A few years later he started Dianetics, which eventually became Scientology.
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