Thoughts for No One in Particular

A flap here, a tornado there

I am referring to the now well-known concept, described by an American meteorologist E.N.L. in his paper published in the ’70’s, that imperceptibly small causes can have recognizably large effects in distant time and location.


I believe that there are two key issues here: (a) that causes are imperceptible, and (b) that effects are recognized in distance from causes. Issue (a) implies that we cannot consciously control the small causes, because by definition we are not aware of them. Issue (b) implies that by the time we recognize the large effects, the causes could be long gone. What does this all mean?


Maybe there is no need for us to be concerned about causes, because we cannot control them.

Maybe there is no need for us to be concerned about effects, because we cannot know what caused them.

Maybe there is no need for us to be concerned about anything any more, and who can blame us for becoming indifferent?


But I do not think this is the path of thoughts the concept intends to lead us to. In the cause of issue (a), with ceaseless effort, even small causes can become perceptible, just like finding miniscule particles in the universe with the advancement of technology. And as for issue (b), with accumulation of knowledge and experience, large effects can become predictable in closer distance, just like increased precision in weather forecasts with the use of big data.


Keenness, I think, is where this new path of thoughts will lead us to. How can we stay indifferent?


One thought on “A flap here, a tornado there

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