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You touch or approach a topic dear to my heart: Cargo Cult Manufacturing. As you know, cargo cults are symptoms of cultural mismatches, where one group misunderstands another and goes through the motions of an endeavor, hoping to get useful results. In manufacturing, it's the business of making something that LOOKS right, but doesn't work right.

For example, my wife recently bought a new toaster, made in China as they all are nowadays. The damn thing burns one edge of the bread and leaves the other one cold: It looks like a toaster, but isn't.

My theory is that the Chinese don't eat toast, so they have no idea how a toaster is supposed to work, so they just make these metal boxes that look like toasters. It's Cargo Cult Manufacturing.

by asdf on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:26:21 AM EST
Old-fashioned toasters like this

are not uncommon in Spain. They have only one resistance in the centre, so you have to turn the toast around after one side has been toasted. That's a disadvantage over "box" toasters with resistances on both sides of slots. They also don't have a timer, nor can you regulate the heat.

The advantage is the absence of moving parts. "Box" toasters have automatic spring-loaded slots with moving parts that can get jammed of break. In this case The toast is loaded from the sides instead of inserted in a slot, so this design is more robust.

However, a box with a resistance only in the middle is the worst of both worlds... Cargo cult manufacturing indeed. You would expect them to reverse-engineer the devices they're copying...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a wonderfully efficient mechanical beater that you clamped to the edge of the table. You turned a large cogged wheel with a handle on the wheel that transferred the energy through a simple gear. The two interlocked beaters could be twisted out of the gear for washing. Simple, efficient and cheap.

It is now on the island where we try to do without electricity during the summer, although there's a PV panel for minimal lighting that is somewhat safer than candles or fueled lamps with kids around.

The only electric kitchen gadget I have is a zapper, or 600 watt handheld blender with a tiny sharp propellor blade in a shallow housing. Ideal for purées and soups.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 11:02:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually hadn't heard of Cargo Cults before...thanks for the term.

I don't blame the Chinese in the instance of any of the products though. They are all being contracted by big EU and US corporations. They know what it takes to get a product right. They know that they have to get the design validated several times before production. They must just figure that we are only interested in price and they are willing to provide us with tools that will break in a few years.

I know that we have gone through 3 toasters in 7 years. I repaired a couple of them as long as I could, but at a certain point it isn't worth the headache.

My theory is that we have to get the owners of the stores, and their spouses, to sit in a room and cook toast or whatever in front of us once a week on live TV. Watch one snafu after the other. The world would love the screw-ups and maybe they would push to make better products.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See CARGO CULT SCIENCE by Richard Feynman
Adapted from the Caltech commencement address given in 1974.

During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such
as that a piece of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a
method was discovered for separating the ideas--which was to try
one to see if it worked, and if it didn't work, to eliminate it.
This method became organized, of course, into science. And it
developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It
is such a scientific age, in fact that we have difficulty in
understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when
nothing that they proposed ever really worked--or very little of
it did.

But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me
into a conversation about UFOS, or astrology, or some form of
mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and
so forth. And I've concluded that it's not a scientific world.

...

I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate 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.

...



Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economist: "I'm using mathematical models, and lots of statistics, it ought to work."

Scientist: "So those tools are not helping refine your cause and effect explanations of the economy?"

Economist: "what and what explanation of what, now?"

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:32:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ROFL

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:45:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
John Frum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is also worshipped in Vanuatu by cargo cult followers, the Prince Philip Movement, following a royal visit to the area in 1974.[1] He is now regarded as the head of the cargo suppliers.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:43:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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