Virtual Viewing and the Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is a concept from chaos
theory that postulates that even small events can
have big effects. In this case, according to the
laws of chaotic dynamics, a butterfly flapping
its wings over the Amazon rainforest can effect
the weather in China. This is because under the
right conditions, even small changes in a system
can lead to big changes somewhere else in that
system. Tiny perturbations can lead the system to
rapidly change its entire form and structure. The
Butterfly Effect reminds us of the subtle effects
of all the decisions and actions we take on our
larger environment. This goes contrary to our
modern mindset that respects sheer power over
subtle quality. This encourages us to ignore
little details that we think don’t matter so
much. However, one only has to recall to mind
recent disasters of the space shuttles Challenger
and Columbia both of which suffered fatal damage
from seemingly innocuous and minor defects such
as O-ring design or heat tile adhesion. In both
tragic cases, these tiny defects cascaded
together to become catastrophic failures. In
sociological speak, these technologies are known
as “tightly-coupled systems:” the parts are all
closely connected and interact in non-linear

Nowadays, our whole planet is a
tightly-coupled system. Every action we take has
the potential to create effects larger than we
ever anticipated. And similarly, seemingly
irrelevant relationships and processes can have
important consequences on distant parts of the
system. By paying attention to our own attention,
on the silent spaces and empty passageways
between seemingly more important objects and
events, we can cultivate our planetary
intelligence and learn to observe the entire life
process, not just the outcomes that we have been
trained to look for or expect to see. Virtual viewing
is one effective way to learn to do this.