About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « Snatching Iraq from the Jaws of Doves | Main | That Depends on Where the Meaning of “Lie” Lies »

    Attack of the Killer Lepidoptera

    ashtonkusher.jpgQuote:  "Butterfly Effect." Name given to chaos theory by MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz in the 1960s.

    Figure of Speech:  metalepsis (met ah LEP sis), the figure of remote cause.

    A butterfly flapping its wings in South America can change the weather in Central Park -- a phenomenon called "sensitive dependence on initial conditions," or the Butterfly Effect.  It's also an Ashton Kusher movie and the idea behind "Jurassic Park."

    But it's not an original idea.  Ancient rhetoricians made it a figure of speech: metalepsis (Greek for "substitution," unhelpfully).  Anything credited with a remote outcome counts as a metalepsis -- say, blaming Congressional Democrats for the war in Iraq.

    Snappy Answer:  "In politics, it's called the Neocon Effect."

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments (3)

    why is there no "unsubscribe" option for your daily email subscription?
    November 23, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterreader
    Because it's an automatic page created by the blog server. Anyone who wants to unsubscribe can just send me an email. This is a decidedly amateur-run site, with no artificial ingredients. Everything from scratch.

    November 23, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Another expression of a consequence cascade is in a novel written in the late 1930's/early 1940's called 'Storm', by George R. Stewart, the best book ever about weather for a lay readership, for my money. And, yes, it is a novel, not nonfic. In it, and he treats the idea as if it had been around for a long time already, he states that someone sneezing in northwestern China can result in heavy snow falling in New York City. Incidentally, for music/weather trivia junkies, it's from this book that the lyricist for the Broadway musical 'Paint Your Wagon' got the idea to "....call the wind Maria" with a long 'I'.
    November 24, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterloblollyboy

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.