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Forum Post: "The Butterfly Effect", by Paul Balles.

Posted 6 years ago on Feb. 20, 2012, 7:48 p.m. EST by shadz66 (19985)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

February 20, 2012 "Information Clearing House" ( http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ )

A small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state.

The poverty stricken nobody whose death changed the world, Mohamed Bouazizi, was a 26 year old from Tunisia.

His story prompted self-immolations across the world. While burning one's self to death is not new, the effect of Bouazizi's act has been unusually strong.

His father died when Mohamed was three. He was the main bread winner, earning less than £100 a month for his mother, sick uncle and 5 younger siblings.

On December 17th, he set up his stall as a street trader selling fruit; but within minutes Faida Hamdi, a municipal inspector and 2 other officers tried to confiscate his merchandise because he did not have a trading permit.

Vendors have a choice when faced with a municipal inspector: they can flee, and leave behind both barrow and merchandise; pay a fine equivalent to several days’ earnings; or fork out a bribe.

Bouazizi was not prepared to do any of these. Hamdi began seizing his apples; he tried to grab them back, and she slapped him in the face, the height of humiliation for an Arab man.

He complained but was told there was nothing he could do.

Two hours later, he was back, poured 2 bottles of paint-thinner over himself, and demanded, once more, to see an official. Then he lit his cigarette lighter. The rest is current history

Bouazizi died of his burns on January 4, 2011, setting off the demonstrations in Tunisia in early 2011.

Mohamed Bouazizi’s death from his wounds prompted protests across Tunisia, forcing autocratic President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.

Britain’s The Times newspaper on Wednesday named as person of the year Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian whose self-immolation inspired uprisings that toppled dictators across the Arab world and shook the region's remaining autocracies.

Bouazizi was followed by self immolation of Mohsen Bouterfif in Algeria, Yacoub Ould Dahoud in Mauritania.

In the past, many people recoiled from such protesters as attention-seeking lunatics. Or the authorities were too powerful.

According to Robert F. Worth, writing in the New York Times, “Whatever the motive, suicide sometimes spreads like a disease, especially when heavily covered in the media.”

David P. Phillips, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego, published a 1974 study documenting spikes in the number of suicides after well-publicized cases. He called it “the Werther effect,” after the rash of suicides that followed the 1774 publication of “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” the novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe whose romantic hero kills himself.

“One thing is strongly suggested by the academic studies: People are more likely to copy suicides if they see that they have results, or get wide attention,” Dr. Phillips said.

In 1972 meteorologist Edward Lorenz theorized that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could cause a tornado in Texas.

The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events.

Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

The temptation is to attempt to predict what small changes will have major effects. The best one can do is to fantasize on what's possible and to wager on what's probable.

Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu's end came suddenly and unexpectedly when the government harassed an ethnic Hungarian priest over something he had said.

Remember these words from a Bruce Springsteen song:

From small things, mama Big things one day come


Hail To The Butterfly ...

Vive Les Papillons ..

dum spiro, spero .


Dr. Paul J. Balles, is a retired American university professor and freelance writer, has lived and worked in the Middle East for 40 years - first as an English professor {Universities of Kuwait and Bahrain}, and for the past ten years as a writer, editor and editorial consultant.

[Article copied verbatim under "Fair Use" from : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30596.htm .]



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[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

Further to the above and re. the author, please also see :

pax et lux ...