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What is Chaos Theory and what does it reveal to us?

What is Chaos Theory and what does it reveal to us?

July 12, 2024

Imagine that we place an egg in the top vertex of a pyramid . Now let's think that we throw a cork at the source of a river.

We will know in which direction the egg will fall or at what point of the river the cork will end once we have observed the result. But nevertheless, Could we predict it? Although with the final result numerous models can be elaborated regarding how the experiment has ended in one way or another, there are a large number of variables that may or may not influence the final result.

There is a theory that indicates that nature and the universe in general do not follow a predictable model, called the theory of chaos.


General approach to chaos theory

The chaos theory is, more than a theory, a paradigm that supposed at the time a scientific revolution , reflecting that many systems that until now have been considered deterministic and predictable have severe limits on predictability. That is, they were not as useful as it was believed when predicting future events. This is important, since one of the foundations of science is the ability to eliminate uncertainty about what will happen.

Initiated by Henri Poincaré as a precursor and popularized thanks to the work of mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz, chaos theory has been used in fields such as mathematics and meteorology to explain the inaccuracy and the difficulty to obtain predictable results of the reality.


The butterfly Effect

This theory is widely known for what has come to be called the butterfly effect, according to which "the faint blow of the wings of a butterfly can be the cause of a hurricane thousands of miles away." It is indicated in this way that the existence of a specific variable can provoke or alter others, influencing itself progressively until obtaining a result outside the expected.

In summary, we can consider that the chaos theory establishes that small changes in the initial conditions create great differences with respect to the final result , with which a great majority of the events and systems are not totally predictable.

It is important to keep in mind that despite the appearances, the chaos to which this theory refers does not imply a lack of order, but that the facts and the reality do not fit a linear model. However, the chaotic can not go beyond certain limits. The egg we mentioned in the introduction can only fall or fall in any direction. In other words, the possibilities are multiple but the results are limited, and there are predispositions for the phenomena to happen in a certain way, predispositions known as attractors.


The theory of chaos in Psychology

Chaos theory was initially conceived in order to explain the existence of divergences in the results of the application of mathematical, meteorological or astrological models. However, such a theory It is applicable to a large number of disciplines, including those related to health sciences and social sciences . One of the scientific disciplines in which this theory has a certain applicability is psychology.

The theory of chaos, as a paradigm that concludes that small changes in initial conditions can generate a great diversity in the results, can serve to explain the enormous diversity that we can find in terms of attitudes, points of view, thoughts, beliefs or emotions. Although as a general rule most people seek to survive and self-fulfill in different ways, There is a very wide variety of circumstances that transform our behavior and thinking and shape our way of living life . For example, living a relatively happy and quiet life does not ensure that a person does not develop a mental disorder, just as suffering from severe trauma may not produce subsequent disorders.

Differences between people

It can be useful in trying to explain why some people can develop strengths or mental problems that others can not. It can also explain why certain treatments are not effective in certain people even when they are effective in most people. Or why two people with the same genes and the same life experiences do not react in the same way to a specific event or stimulus.

Behind it can be personality differences, cognitive capacity, focusing attention on specific aspects, emotional and motivational situation at that moment or other multiple factors.

Likewise, some psychological processes like anxiety could be linked to chaos theory . For many people with anxiety and related disorders, not knowing what can happen before their performance in the middle causes a deep sense of discomfort to arise, and with it a possible active avoidance of the feared.

In other words, the uncertainty generated by the difficulty to establish reliable predictions, due to the multiple possibilities of a chaotic reality awakens the feeling of worry. The same thing happens with disorders such as compulsive obsessiveness, in which the uncertainty that something dreaded can happen due to intrusive thoughts induces anxiety and can lead to the use of compulsions as a temporary protection measure.

Small details that change our destiny

Within psychology and this theory, genetics and culture could be considered as attractors, producing a certain tendency to behave in a certain way. But this does not mean that we all behave the same or have the same ways of thinking. Behavioral patterns and habits are also attractors, which may explain why in some cases of mental disorders there are recurrences.

However, there are also complete remissions of symptoms, due to the introduction of new elements and alternative reconstructions of dysfunctional internal processes. The simple fact of crossing someone on the street or not doing so can cause unexpected effects that make us behave differently.

Human groups and the effect of chaotic theory

The same thing happens in organizations, systems in which multiple elements interrelate in different ways and with different objectives. In the case of the company, it is widely known that today it is essential that it be able to adapt to changes so that it can remain. However, this adaptability must be constant, since it is not possible to foresee the totality of situations that may occur. They must be able to face chaos.

And there can be a lot of variables that can affect its operation and maintenance. The level of production of an employee can be affected by his personal circumstances. Customers and / or suppliers of said company may be late in their payments and shipments. Another company may try to acquire the company or attract its workers. There may be a fire that destroys part or all of the work done. It can increase or decrease the popularity of the company due to factors such as novelty or the emergence of better alternatives .

But in any case, as we have previously indicated, the fact that reality is multiple and chaotic does not imply that it is disordered. The theory of chaos teaches that science in general must be adaptable and non-deterministic, always bearing in mind that an exact and absolute forecast of all events is not viable.

Bibliographic references:

  • Lorenz, E.N. (nineteen ninety six). The Essence of Chaos. University of Washington Press.

String Theory Explained – What is The True Nature of Reality? (July 2024).


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