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"In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes 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", by Richard Feynman
included in 'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!' :
Adventures of a Curious Character
, page 308
or online here or here


"Metaphysics is the name given to a branch of philosophical thought that deals with issues of the fundamental nature of reality and what is beyond experience. ... It is defined in the 1994 Webster's Dictionary (Brittanica CD edition) as "a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology: ontology: abstract philosophical studies: a study of what is outside objective experience".

Evolution and Philosophy -- Is evolution just another religion?
Copyright © 1997 by John Wilkins
(my emphasis -- ed.)

The proper description of "that which lies beyond experience" is
"I have no idea."

And - "do we have anything more important to think about?"

"The word "agnostic" (derived from the Greek agnostos, unknown, or not knowing) was coined by the late Professor T.H. Huxley ... 'Agnosticism is not a creed, but a method, having a single principle of great antiquity.
It simply means that a man (sic) shall not say that he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe ... Agnosticism says that we know nothing of what may be beyond phenomena.' "

RATIONALISM, by M. D. Aletheia in The Rationalist's Manual

"In his 1937 book Ends and Means, (Aldous) Huxley said this: 'It is impossible to live without a metaphysic.
The choice that is given us is not between some kind of metaphysic and no metaphysic; it is always between a good metaphysic and a bad metaphysic, a metaphysic that corresponds reasonably closely with observed and inferred reality and one that doesn’t.' "

Our Crisis of Foundations
by John Derbyshire
National Review, 13 DEC 2004

A mystic is a person who is puzzled before the obvious but who understands the nonexistent.

Attributed to Elbert Hubbard here
(I'd say many mystics have been just fine with the "obvious" or everyday,
but that the belief that one understands the nonexistent is the salient characteristic.)

This is a page of resources on some ideas I believe have done a great deal of harm in the world and continue to do so.

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.

De Divinatione,
bk 2, ch 119

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