Extracting meaning from science

This article from the Boston Globe isn’t about brain science, exactly, but it’s an interesting take on how we find meaning in the results of scientific research. Everyone knows about the butterfly effect, which has to do with very minor changes in initial conditions having profound but essentially unpredictable consequences on later events. The point of the butterfly effect, described by Edward Lorenz, is that the subtle interactions of the natural world confound our efforts to pin down the cause of any particular event. However, the pop culture take on it frequently has it the other way around, focusing on a supposed ability to identify key turning points or critical moments that determine the future. The article is about how we try to wring certainty out of an uncertain world, and about how scientific research is sometimes misunderstood.