The Slinky Cult

Regarding Did the Inventor of Slinky join a cult in Boliviacolumn:

According to his wiki, the religious organization that Slinky inventor Richard Jamesbecame involved with was the Wycliffe Bible Translators, an organization that finds its way into a lot of conspiracy theories as it’s rumored to be a CIA front. IIRC, there was some South American leader who fell down a flight of stairs under suspicious circumstances; I fonder if he did so slowly and hitting every step on the way down.

He probably only hit one or two steps, then rolled the rest of the way…

The Wycliffe Bible Translators aren’t a cult, and there’s no reason to think that they are a C.I.A. front either. The Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics, a closely related organizations, send out people to areas where there are obscure languages with no writing systems and no literature in the language available. These people (who are usually referred to as missionaries, although their job is different from most missionaries) spend several years with thise groups. The missionaries are trained in linguistics, particularly in what’s called field linguistics. They work with the speakers of these languages until they understand the phonology, the grammar, the morphology, the semantics, and the vocabulary of the language well enough that they can write an introductory textbook on the language, a dictionary, and, most importantly, a translation of the Bible into that language. These (so-called) missionaries are told specifically that their job is not to waste their time trying to convert the speakers of these languages. Their job is to prepare the way for future missionaries who will do that. Once they have done sufficient work on the grammar, the dictionary, and the Bible translation, they return to their native country, possibly to be sent on to another language area doing the same thing again.

For some interesting insight on these people, you might want to read Daniel Everett’s book, Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes. He’s hardly a tremendous fan of the organization, since he slowly decided that he was an atheist. You might decide that these people are naive, misguided, or stupid from reading Everett’s book, but they aren’t evil or part of some weird conspiracy:

They seem no more cultish than the Gideons. That’s why I used the phrase “religious organization” and qualified the CIA front rumors as rumors. I think that would be a ridiculous ruse for the CIA since the main places they’d be likely to need moles in South America would be cities and military bases and not tribes so remote the Bible hasn’t been translated into their language.

On the other hand, it’s a great strategy for getting a lot of really good field linguistics done for free! :stuck_out_tongue:

These people produce Ethnologue, among other things. This is a website and a book with the same information which catalogs the languages of the world. It’s about as close to a definitive account of the world’s languages as you can get:

The Slinky article is again on the front page, so I’ll post a link to the Wiki page.

It discusses the Wycliffe Bible Translators, among other things.

It must be a very small and secret cult because I haven’t seen a slinky for more years than I can remember.

We buy them every Xmas for stocking stuffers.

Also “The Slinky Cult”: band name!

If you put the words “In what stores are Slinkys sold?” into Google, you’ll get a huge list of places local to you where it’s sold. It’s not a high-profit item, so it’s not prominently displayed. It’s sold in places like dollar stores, drug stores, low-end department stores, and some shops doing just random items.

You can get them at any Wal-Mart.

You can get them from Walmart

Some people are like slinkys, they are no fun until you push them down the stairs…

And, here, I had always thought that the inventor of the Slinky was named Loopner. :wink: