First and Second Order Chaos


I was just reading Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, and he mentioned something interesting about chaos.

There are two main classifications of chaos.

  1. First Order Chaos doesn’t respond to prediction. The example he gave is the weather. If you predict the weather to some level of accuracy that prediction will hold because the weather doesn’t adjust based on the prediction itself.

  2. Second Order Chaos is infinitely less predictable because it does respond to prediction. Examples include things like stocks and politics.

Basically, the first kind you can apply science to and end up with predictable behavior (within limits) even if the phenomenon is chaotic. But the second type is extremely resistant to this when the results of the predictions are available to others to respond to.

I think it’s super interesting, and useful, to recognize the difference between these two types of unpredictability.


  1. Image from worldofpiggly.

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