What is the Butterfly bias?
In a complex system, a slight change in the initial conditions can yield completely different or even opposite results. Small actions can have non-proportional consequences.
That is the reason that is called a butterfly bias because there has been scientific proof that a small flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas.
Applied this concept in day's life means that any of our decisions might have a huge impact regardless of its apparent relevance.
How does the Butterfly bias influence my life?
Usually, we assume that our actions are harmless or irrelevant, but a small event can result in a chain reaction that triggers greater events.
Our decisions might significantly impact ourselves and others because everything is connected. We can't be surprised when we realise the consequences of some of our choices.
What can I do about it?
To be aware of the potential impact of any action, an open mind with the capacity to identify subtle relations between different elements is critical. However, it is impossible to predict the future and exercise total control over it.
This might induce the feeling that what we do is irrelevant but, surprisingly, is the other way around because all the actions count. This apparent contradiction means that we shouldn't be obsessed with the flow of the events but very active to contribute to steering them in the desired direction.
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Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? The answer is yes! (Lorenz:
- Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? The answer is yes! (Lorenz:
“Small things in a complex system may have no effect or a massive one, and it is virtually impossible to know which will turn out to be the case.”
- Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World - Stanley McChrystal (Autor), Tantum Collins (Autor), David Silverman (Autor), Chris Fussell (Autor)
“The global economy is an unfathomably complicated machine. To all the complexity of the physical world, you add the psychological complexity of men acting on their fleeting expectations.”
- The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence Annotated Edition Benoit Mandelbrot, Richard L Hudson
The fall of the USSR and the Berlin Wall was accelerated by a Ukrainian nuclear power plant night shift in Chernobyl. They deliberately turned the safety systems off and played around with the reactor, causing an explosion that irradiated vast swathes of Ukraine and Belarus.” “Henry Tandey was in France in 1918 fighting for the British Army when he decided to spare one young German’s life. He was fighting to gain one position and saw one injured German soldier trying to flee. Because he was injured, Tandey could not bear to kill him, so he let him go. The man was Adolf Hitler.” “In 1919, Woodrow Wilson, United States president, received a letter from a young man called Ho Chi Minh who asked to meet him to discuss independence from France for Vietnam. At the time, Ho Chi Minh was quite open-minded and ready to talk, but Wilson ignored the letter, which angered the young Ho Chi Minh. In the 1960s, North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh‘s guerrillas start Vietnam War.” “The biggest volcano in Iceland erupted in 1783. This resulted in a year without a summer as the earth was blanketed by sulfur particles, killing people and livestock. This natural catastrophe resulted in widespread famine, exacerbating the ongoing social grievances in France, triggering what would come to be called the french revolution.”