The Butterfly Effect Fallacy
begun 1-26-99
give background
  classical butterfly effect
give counter
    pool table
  computer lacked complexity
give implications
  universal effect false
  effect possible

[give background] The Butterfly Effect is a fallacy. [classical butterfly effect] The effect is that small changes in the past produce arbitrarily large changes in the present. [discovery] The effect was discovered by modeling weather on a computer. A slight change in the start variables completely changed the resulting weather.

[give counter] The effect doesn't occur because evolved objects [maintenance] cybernetically structure (i.e. produce systems which dynamically maintain themselves by absorbing energy) the universe and compartmentalize the effects of small changes. [pool table] For example, the balls on a pool table will come to rest in a different position after the break if the balls are not packed tightly. However, if the triangle (i.e. a cybernetic structure) is left on the balls, then the balls won't fly apart no matter how tightly they were packed. [computer lacked complexity] Computer simulations don't account for evolved cybernetic structures and thus produce the Butterfly Effect anomalously.

[give implications] [universal effect false] The effect implies the universe is completely unpredictable because all tiny events each redesign the destiny of the universe. However, in accord with our intuition, the effect is false. People excel at producing systems which are highly predictable, which alone counters the effect. [effect possible] It is possible for a small event to have a large impact, but this is the exception rather than the standard. The less cybernetically structured a system (e.g. weather), the more the effect applies to it.

The Butterfly Effect basically says that if you changed a tiny event that happened in the past, the repercussions on what today looks like would be vast. As far as I know, it was discovered by a person who was modeling the weather on a computer. He ran the program with a certain set of starting conditions and saw what the weather looked like after five days or something. He decided to run the model process again with the same starting conditions but got a completely different result in what the weather looked like after five days. The reason was that he had inadvertently round off one of the starting condition numbers off in like the twentieth place of the number. In other words, a tiny change in the starting variables had a huge effect in the end result.

to be continued...

John LeFlohic