Tom Bogart to Discuss “Cargo Cult” Economics at Friday’s Science Forum

 

Tom Bogart, president of Maryville College and economics professor there, will be speaking at Friday’s Science Forum.

Bogart has written two books on urban economics and economic policy and co-authored a book on green energy.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown-bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to share their research with the general public in a conversational presentation.

The weekly presentations begin at noon on Fridays in Room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena. Attendees can bring lunch or purchase it at the arena. Each presentation is forty minutes long and is followed by a question-and-answer session. Science Forum presentations are free and open to the public.

Bogart said he will talk about how some US economic policies are reminiscent of South Pacific “cargo cults.”  This term describes religious-like beliefs held by some South Pacific islanders who first came into contact with Westerners in the early twentieth century, especially during World War II, and began to associate Westerners’ visits with receiving technology, supplies, and riches.

In the 1970s, physicist Richard Feynman compared some types of scientific research to cargo cults. Now Bogart plans to do the same with economics.

In particular, he will discuss the cargo cult idea that it is important to live like Europeans. Bogart says he sees this idea mirrored in American economic policies that emulate Europe. He’ll also discuss economic policies reminiscent of “table ceremonies” performed by cargo cults, in which participants prepare a replica of the cargo they hope to receive.

Bogart says these ideas are “very topical for this time and place and important to economic development.”

Future Science Forums will feature:

  • April 12: Stephanie K. Drumheller-Horton, instructor of earth and planetary sciences, presenting  “Crocodylian Bite Marks in the Fossil Record”
  • April 19: Devon M. Burr, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, discussing “The Moon That Would Be a Planet: Saturn’s Giant Titan”
  • April 26: Joan Markel, curator of Civil War exhibits at the McClung Museum, presenting “Digging into Our Civil War Past”

The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research. For more information about the Science Forum, visit the Office of Research website.

C O N T A C T :

Holly Gary (865-974-2225, hgary@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)

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