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Thursday, February 23, 2023

Mayhew gets confused

I am confused by the "butterfly effect." I mean, I get the concept.  A butterfly flapping its wings causes something else of more amplified dimensions, which in turn causes other things, leading up to a giant storm of some kind.  

What I don't get is this: there are many other tiny things, microclimate-wise, that also happen along the way. A woman slams her car door.  I breathe too heavily for a while after a jog. A small child frightens a wren, which then flies off. You can't have such a linear account of the pitiful butterfly causing something else, since that something else is going to have other causes and effects quite apart from the butterfly. The model only works if you posit perfect laboratory conditions with no other interference--which is kind of contrary to what the butterfly effect is supposed to be. 

And, generally speaking, bigger events are going to have bigger consequences than small ones, so the idea of something small having such an outsized effect would be the exception, not the way things normally worked. What makes that one butterfly so special?  

[Curtain closes while Mayhew continues to rant about the butterfly effect, to no effect.]

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