It's easy to point and laugh at 'Cargo Cult' societies. Generally it's sneering, and many in the 'West' would like to think it's only in Bongobongoland that folk would confuse the appearance of an object with being the object itself.
But that's not the case.
Firstly, from Ben Goldacre's ever-lovely Bad Science, comes this piece about Bill Nelson's Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface. It's basically some wires and a headset that somehow makes a computer read your brain. The beauty of the cargo cultishness is that it *looks* plausible - well, as plausible as a magical electronic sweatband can do. Yours for a bargain £10,750. And not so different from those magical coils of wires and bundles of electronic kit that supposedly make your stereo sound so much better. Well, they look like kosher stuff, so they are, aren't they?
Then we have this marvellous story about a man not being allowed on a plane with an object that looked like a bomb. That's right - he wasn't allowed on a plane with something that, while not being a bomb, *looked* a bit like one.
The TSA have sheepishly updated their article in the light of blogging on the subject, but it's still there: a thing that looks like a bomb, but isn't, was confiscated from a passenger.
The passenger was an engineer and said he built the battery to power his DVD player for the long flight to Hawaii. After recognizing that the item could be seen by other passengers as a threat, the man surrendered it to Supervisory TSO Raiford Patterson and was allowed to board the flight.
So, the advice is clear. If you're going to bomb something, don't use a bomb that looks like a bomb. Particularly don't use a big black sphere with 'BOMB' on the side. Or you might get rumbled.