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Is Chaos Theory "Anti-Science"?

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Jeremy1952
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Is Chaos Theory "Anti-Science"?

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In the December, 2002 "New Scientist" magazine there is a review of a new book by James Trefil, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, titled Cassell's Laws of Nature. Roy Herbert's review ends with the following paragraph: A bonus is that he has taken time to add an introduction on science and the scientific method. This is inspiring, especially now, when science has lost a lot of the prestige it had in the first half of the last century and is under renewed attack, for example by the proponents of "intelligent design" and even in its own backyard by chaos theory.Is Herbert implying that chaos theory is an attack on science? As I read it, that seems to be the implication. I thought that chaos theory was important mainstream science, elucidating processes and events that previously were mysterious. What do you think? Is that what Herbert means? Is he right?
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Is Chaos Theory "Anti-Science"?

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JeremyI know nothing about Chaos theory, but if you care to explain it a bit I might then have an opinion. Chris
Jeremy1952
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Re: Is Chaos Theory "Anti-Science"?

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It isn't something I have a deep understanding of, so I'm probably not the right person to explain it. I was kinda hoping another member could put it "in a nutshell" for us, and maybe knows why, or if, it is getting some scientific hackles up.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Is Chaos Theory "Anti-Science"?

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JeremyWe just gained a new member named Victor MacGill - from New Zealand. Check our his intro in the Introduce Yourself! forum. One of his interests in Chaos Theory, so maybe we can drag him in here for some conversation on the subject.Chris
victormacgill

Chaos theory

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I am guessing a bit as to what the reviewer might have meant by seeing Chaos Theory as being against science. Chaos Theory very clearly has its orgins in science and has a very large scientific body of research and theory to back up its claims. As with anything there are people who will take the scientifically solid base and represent it in a not so scientific form to suit their own particular ideology. I am probably one of those people, without a real grounding in science,m but find the theory really makes sense. My interest is particularly in its relationship to humans and human society, which makes it very hard to come to empirically provable hypotheses.Anyway, what most probably makes Chaos theory seem unscientific to some people, is that it whole basis is that the universe is ultimately unpredictable. I don't know if you have heard of the story of a butterfly wing flapping in texas causing a storm over new York (the places involved usually vary depending on who is talking and where). the idea is a bit of a stretch, but clearly shows that small events can have major consequences. More traditional science - ie newtonian physics says the cause is proportional to the effect. ie push something a little bit, the object will only move a little bit, But when a system is very intricatley interconnected that often doesn;t hold. eg the environment. A small change in one species could radically change the whole environment, green house gases, a small rise in temperature could have a major impact on the whole globe.A mathematician Henri Poincare about 1900 showed that it is mathematically impossible to determine the prajectories of three planetary bodies exactly - eg sun moon and earth. As soon as one moves it's relationship to the others changes, which changes them, which in turn change the original planet. It isimpossible to work out. If we can't solve a problem with only 3 bodies invovled, how can we possibly solve other complex system problems that occur around us everyday , often with millions or billions of interacting parts involved.Chaos theory is a part of Complexity Theory and both of them create an amazing view of life I find really amazing with lots of philosophical implications.there are similaritires between chaos theory/complexity Theory and quantum mechanics, which also says the universe is ultimately unpredictable - eg The Heisenberg Hypoythesis. Chaos Theory is no more anti science than quantum mechanics, which is very much ion the mainstream of science.For anyone interested to learn more a very good site which has a lot of material that is generally pretty good - some gets a bit technical, which is great if you are into it, but enough reasonable simple stuff to find out the basics is www.calresco.org I am happy to write more and answer questions. I have just completed an MA in Chaos and Complexity over the net through the University of Western Sydney. Tha's enough for now though, it's getting near midnight.cheersvictor
Jeremy1952
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Re: Chaos theory

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Thanks!
Juxtaform

Re: Chaos theory

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Once I had grasped the principles of Chaos Theory I ran across Theodor Schwenks book "Sensitive Chaos". It was a very interesting look into the dynamics of water movement from it's role in the shaping of simple life forms to its influence in our own bodies.
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