The popular formulation of chaos theory frequently referred to as the “butterfly effect” is nothing more than moth propaganda, according to a recent statement by the butterfly rights group Wing-Weavers.
“For years, moths have tried to divert attention away from their drab, colorless lives by associating butterflies with catastrophic atmospheric events, such as hurricanes or typhoons. Butterflies have had enough of this calumny, and we are ready to unmask the heinous plot of disinformation that moths have perpetrated on us now for many years,” said Wing-Weavers President Florence Flutterson.
A report accompanying the statement purports to trace the flow of money between moth-backed organizations and publishers of both peer-reviewed studies and popular science articles on chaos theory over the last 20 years. Ironically, the report highlights a trail of small amounts trickling over time into journal coffers, creating large profits for the publishers, with a strong correlation in payments and the use of the term “butterfly effect.”
Wing-Weavers was quick to note that the organization does not believe the term was always intended pejoratively. Ray Bradbury’s seminal 1952 paper, “A Sound of Thunder,” demonstrated the compounding impact a butterfly’s death could have on later events. However, by 1972 the idea had become embedded in the scientific community, solidified by Edward Lorenz’s paper, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”
“Moths have always flocked to the slightest shine of an idea, ruining it with their bland bodies and dusty wings,” Flutterson said. “What do you expect of nocturnal creatures?”
Despite Wing-Weavers’ consternation, some butterflies believe the controversy has been blown out of proportion, not unlike a simple flap of the wing that leads to a disastrous shift in the Gulf Stream. “Who can say whether a wingbeat will cause the deaths of millions or carry you to the place where you meet the love of your life. Perhaps it can do both,” said one wistful little Pieridae as she flitted off into a field.
No moths were available during the daytime to provide comment.