The butterfly effect of the "Butterfly Effect"

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16 Scopus citations


The "Butterfly Effect" metaphor states with variance that the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. This metaphor has become part of the common vernacular of Western culture. In this paper I discuss the origins of the metaphor, examine its current usage within popular culture, and present an argument as to why it is popular. I propose that the metaphor is a type of semantic attractor, a narrative device with invariant meaning but audience-specific contextualization. Finally I address whether the Butterfly Effect metaphor is a good example of itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
JournalNonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Chaos theory
  • Edward lorenz
  • Metaphor
  • Sensitive dependence
  • Western culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics


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