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The Effect Zeitgeist

by Katie Leo 


Tags: Science, Technology, butterfly effect, bradley effect, lipstick effect, IEEE Spectrum,

The use of the word effect to describe far-reaching phenomena has gone mainstream. What started as a way to describe scientific principles—think Doppler effect, butterfly effect, greenhouse effect—the word has branched out like a debutante whose time has come. In this month’s IEEE Spectrum, Paul McFedries breaks down the ripple effect of effect, including:

1) the much-discussed Bradley effect (and its alter ego, the reverse Bradley effect), in which white voters choose white candidates in spite of claiming otherwise in polls
2) the lipstick effect, in which consumers make small, comforting purchases during a recession rather than big ticket items
3) the iPod halo effect, in which all Apple products benefit from the popularity of iPods
4) the CSI effect, in which jurors expect smoking gun-type forensic evidence from prosecutors, based on their viewing of the popular TV shows
5) the NASCAR effect, in which copious amounts of advertising appear on anything from Websites to clothing

Source: IEEE Spectrum