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Butterfly Effect

Category
Causality
Butterfly Effect

Definition

The idea that a very small action can eventually lead to a significant difference to a system — such as a butterfly flapping its wings which eventually accumulates weeks later into a hurricane.

Origin

Originally coined by meteorologist Edward Lorenz, who discovered in the 1960's that tiny, butterfly—scale changes to the starting point of his computer weather models resulted in anything from sunny skies to violent storms—with no way to predict in advance what the outcome might be (source).

Everyday Use

This can be as true day-to-day as it is for destiny-altering hurricanes. The simple act of not hitting the snooze button, or of expressing gratitude in the morning, or sticking to that habit for just one more day — these can be all that was needed to nudge the chaos of everyday life into a particular direction, for good or for ill.