Origin of the Butterfly Effect: Busting the Modern Fictional Myth

Origin of Butterfly Effect: Busting the Modern Fictional Myth

The concept of the butterfly effect definitely rings a bell in the minds of people who have had deep interests in science fiction and fantasy movies such as the The Butterfly Effect, Mr. Nobody, Havanna and About Time. Like the movies and the books on the same concept suggest, the butterfly effect meaning is the infinite possibilities that are created at every turning point in our lives depending on the choice that we make. It is based on the fact that small changes can lead to bigger consequences that will ultimately result in an entirely different reality.

The cult-classic, Deep Simplicity, written by John Gribbin states “some systems … are very sensitive to their starting conditions, so that a tiny difference in the initial ‘push’ you give them causes a big difference in where they end up, and there is feedback, so that what a system does affects its own behavior.” The existence of various studies on the Butterfly Effect has been around since the 13th Century. Long-time back Benjamin Franklin expressed the butterfly effect psychology in a poetic perspective:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For want of a horse the rider was lost,
For want of a rider the battle was lost,
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Origin of Butterfly Effect: Busting the Modern Fictional Myth

The term ‘Butterfly Effect’ was coined by Edward Lorenz while studying the weather patterns. He was a meteorology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Weather statisticians back then believed that weather can be predicted on the basis of studying historical records. So according to them if they could go back to the historic data and find the conditions similar to the present day they would know what’s coming next.

Lorenz was doubtful about the above stated fact and ran experimental tests to finally come to one single conclusion. He said that there were multiple minor variables that could lead to much bigger consequences so it was impossible to carry out accurate long-term weather prediction. Later with the help of computers, Lorenz created a mathematical model which was fed with current day weather statistics and could add up to predict long-term weather conditions.

Thanks to the fired imagination of writers from all over the world, over the years the concept of the butterfly effect is now more of an urban myth. It has popularly become one of the most favourite themes in the world of fiction and entertainment. The Ashton Kutcher starrer ‘The Butterfly Effect’ movie showed how a seemingly minor and insignificant decisions that we take in our lives can lead to a massive impact on the consequent future events.

Origin of Butterfly Effect: Busting the Modern Fictional Myth

If linked with human psychology, without actually understanding the true meaning and the origin of the theory, it can lead to people having episodes of stress as it would make them re-think and re-evaluate their past decisions. The regret and the possibility of another reality can become a major cause of disturbance in people’s present situation.

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