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Today I learned: The WWII cargo cults of the Pacific Ocean
During World War II, cults sprung up all over the South Pacific after Allied and Japanese air-dropped cargo missed the targets and were taken as signs of the gods by native islanders.
Mon, Feb 06, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I came across a really interesting thread
over at Reddit's Today I Learned subreddit
about "cargo cults," religious practices that spring up in pre-industrial societies after coming across items from the developed world, usually waylaid cargo. In this example, after World War II, cargo cults sprung up on many islands after natives concluded that air-dropped supplies meant for Allied and Japanese troops that landed on their islands and shores were actually gifts to them from the gods. In some cases, stereotypical American soldiers were cast as deities, as in the case of the John Frum cargo cult
. One cargo cult even placed England's Prince Philip as the top god of their pantheon after he and Queen Elizabeth visited their island in the '70s.
After things calmed down in the Pacific Ocean at the end of WWII, the amount of lost cargo plummeted, motivating some cargo cults to construct mock airstrips, airports and radio in a bid to entice the gods to bless them with more cargo. Click over to the Wikipedia entry on "cargo cult
" to learn more.
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