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Furry Weather Report: Chaos Theory

This morning at 8 AM it was 38º Fahrenheit--clear and crisp, in a shivery kind of way, after an unpredicted rain. (For those of you on the Celsius system, 38º F is 3º Celsius--in either system, just a few degrees above freezing.)

I have gotten used to our meteorologists being fairly good at predicting the near-term weather, and when they said that the rain was moving to Southern California (in a big way), leaving it clear up here for the next few days, I believed them. That is, until I saw the low-lying clouds yesterday morning that definitely looked like rain in the next 24 hours to me. And I was right. Later in the evening. I heard the rain falling hard and steadily on my roof, and the cats started coming in with sprinkles on their fur.

The reason why the weather cannot be correctly predicted 100% of the time is that, although there is a certain kind of orderliness to how the weather works, it is never exactly the same twice. There are many factors that affect the weather, some more acknowledged than others, all of which come together to create that magnificent and ever-changing display in our sky and air.

Many scientists have come to believe in what is called the chaos theory. Now, in the general way, "chaos" means a complete and total lack of order; disorderliness, in some minds bordering on malevolence. However, in the scientific sense, "chaos theory" refers instead to the concept that certain systems are so complex, and are open to influences from "outside" sources, that it is impossible to make specific predictions about what is going to happen, yet there is enough orderliness that it is possible to make general predictions. Because of the complexity of the interactions between the forces in a chaotic system, a slight change at one point can have big results later on.

You may have heard the simple example of how a chaotic system works: A butterfly flapping its wings in Japan could set in motion a series of events that result in a storm in California. Which pretty much encapsulates it rather nicely.

The "butterfly" could be anything, and doesn't have to just be one thing; it could be a lot of little things, or one big thing and some little things, and so on. The point is that there are so many other things in the system, and the interactions between them are so varied and complex, that introducing anything new into the system has big effects. Also, even having something change that is already in the system, or even just having things withn the system go about their daily business of being and acting, will still result in unpredictable results--at least at the level of fine detail, though at a higher and more general level, general results can be predicted.

Using the weather, here's a practical example: We can say with confidence that the Pacific Northwest will experience storms from October/Novemberish through March/Aprilish. That's a general, high-level prediction. However, we cannot predict exactly when those storms will happen, or how much rain will fall, for any given day more than a few days away. We can't say right now that next fall the rains will begin on such-and-such a date. There are too many factors and there is too much that can happen between now and any time too distant in the future.

Some Can Predict the Weather

Interestingly, this isn't universally true. The original Old Farmer's Almanac was suposedly highly accurate, and it predicted weather many years into the future. The formulas and calculations that were used, however, are a secret, though they supposedly take into account the movements of the planets and our moon, as well as sunspots and a number of other factors. It is still considered to be about 80% to 85% accurate, having predicted the severe storms in the Northeastern states (Maine through Virginia) for February 16 through 19, 2003 almost two years ago.

(For an entertaining side note on the Old Farmer's Almanac written in a style reminiscent of Robert B. Parker's writings, see this essay.)

Other Factors

In addition, there are other factors that affect the weather as well. Seth, an entity who spoke through Jane Roberts, said that we humans collectively affect the local weather; that the weather is a reflection of the sum total of the interactions among the thoughts and emotions of the humans in the area. Though he went beyond weather and said that all the earth-based events--eathquakes, floods, and other events, some of which are more closely tied to what we call weather than others--are all the result of the lively interactions of our thoughts, decisions, and emotions, all of which take place on the conscious level, but which we so instantly hide from ourselves that we are not normally aware of the decision or of the decision to hide the decision. (I think these explanations are in The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events.)

Seth's ideas fit nicely with chaos theory, because these interactions among our thoughts and emotions are just another set of complex processes taking place--they just aren't necessarily or normally acknowledged by the scientific community. However, it also brings up a very interesting question. If it is true that we humans collectively are creating the weather, then could that mean that someone who is tuned into that level of interaction on the spirit plane could tune into and predict the weather?

Perhaps, though the same arguments against being able to predict the weather in the long term apply: Because the future is an unwritten book, and we all have free will, we cannot say with certainty how we are going to be feeling or what we are thinking even in the next hour, let alone next fall. Though perhaps the factors that the Old Farmer's Alamanac's secret formulas use could provide an insight what affects our thoughts and emotions on a group scale.

Further Reading

Here are some links for your reading pleasure.

  1. The scientific approach.
  2. The spiritual approach.
    • Some Seth/Jane Roberts books that I recommend.
    • Not a lot on chaos theory, but a really good compilation of spiritually-oriented pages.
  3. And just for fun, you can get your own weather journal at the Old Farmer's Almanac store. Write your own furry weather reports!

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