Cargo cult

Anthropology, social learning

"Cargo cults are religious practices that have appeared in many traditional tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. They focus on obtaining the material wealth (the "cargo") of the advanced culture by imitating the actions they believe cause the appearance of cargo: by building landing strips, mock aircraft, mock radios, and the like." (From Wikipedia)

While this may sound ridiculous, we do the same thing. We imitate the morning routines of a billionaire or the writing process of the nearest writing guru, thinking that will bring us the same results. We read the books Warren Buffett recommends, hoping we'd become like him in the process. Or we rename the project manager into "scrum master" and the weekly meeting into a "sprint", thinking that will give us the results of agile project management.

There's Cargo cult programming, Cargo cult science, Cargo cult startups and, most likely, an equivalent to whatever field you can think of.

Whenever we copy the obvious, surface level behaviors but not the deeper behaviors (that actually produce the results), you can describe the situation with the Cargo cult metaphor.

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