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The Nature of Importance

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posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 11:56 AM
reply to post by Cadbury

actually Jesus Said that Matthew 7:12
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 12:20 PM

Originally posted by Ian McLean
Interesting theories, thanks -- it seems to me that you're making the distinction between 'influence' and 'importance'.

Is the implication then that one is purely measurable by objectively observed behavior (as in the case of advertising), and the other entirely subjective?

It's a nice dichotomy; organizes distinctions; but I don't see why that should necessarily be the case.

I had to ponder this. It seems to me that "influence" connotes subjectivity more than "importance", and I think that is what you are saying -- there is a distinction between objective and subjective, obviously.

One of the most important things Information Theory did was to say that information content is COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE. This seems a little counter-intuitive (since human minds rely so heavily on information) but it was the major breakthrough IMO regarding our understanding of what information actually is.

So I am going to push back in a similar fashion about "importance", saying that it ALSO is totally objective.


For example, was Sept 11th important? It resulted in massive changes. So yes, it was important. Let's say it had an importance of 10,000,000 changes per second, on average, this year.

Was my last birthday, a few weeks ago, important? Not really. It didn't change anything of substance anywhere on the planet. It was definitely barely important. Let's say it had an importance of barely .0000001 changes per second this year.

These hypothetical figures (if correct) would be objective. They could be measured by anyone, and would be independent of human subjectivity.

The objective study, and measure, of "importance" could have some really very practical applications to humanity


Let me elaborate a bit.

If you know Information Theory -- you know that one of the most amazing consequences of this theory was the precise concept of "bandwidth". Specifically, Information Theory proves that there are limits to how much information can go through a communications channel.

Likewise, Importance Theory may have a similar concept, which I will call "ethereal saturation", beyond which no further ripples in time can be induced, and no further importance can be associated with an event.


Another amazing thing that Information Theory revealed was this: regardless of how small the bandwidth of a channel is, you can still communicate through that channel by reducing the speed at which you transmit the information. This permits us to communicate perfectly (although very slowly) with very distant deep space probes.

Likewise, there may a similar concept in Importance Theory. Regardless of "ethereal saturation" it is always possible to increase importance of something by slowly stretching that event out over time. This is the idea behind repeatedly showing the same stupid advertisement over and over again.


I'm making this up as I go. But doesn't it sound reasonable? I think I might be on the edge of something "important".

[edit on 23-6-2008 by Buck Division]

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 03:44 PM
reply to post by Buck Division

Sounds good Buck Division. Sounds important.

Since you touched on the importance of 9/11 in which 3000 died, I´ll briefly name the last Tsunami disaster in which 30 000 died.

And yet our media and also us westerners are much more caught up in 9/11.
Because it is closer to us we make it more important. Because some confusion surrounds the subject, we make it more important. Because the president justified wide-spanning activities, he made it more important.

Nevertheless its 30 000 to 3000.

If I were to contradict you on 9/11 vs. My Birthday I would say that 9/11 is not important because its already over and cant be changed and my birthday is current and can be changed. Therefore my birthday is more important than 9/11.

If anything, then researching 9/11 may be more important than my birthday. But I´ll be unlikely to sit down and dig through files at the expense of my birthday party.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 10:40 AM

Originally posted by Skyfloating
reply to post by Buck Division

Because it is closer to us we make it more important. Because some confusion surrounds the subject, we make it more important.

Perceptive comments, Skyfloating. Apparently, there exists some sort of "axis of importance". It takes two things to objectively measure importance, that being the event, and the things affected by it. You measure importance along a line, or axis, separating the event or condition from each individual.

So this implies something like an "importance gradient" or something --a "field effect" that depends upon your position in time and space. (This may go back to my earlier coinage of the term "ethereal saturation" -- sounds good anyway.)

Edit: This idea of some sort of "axis of importance" and "importance gradient" seems to be a common theme. It has been restated here several times by different people. I'm thinking: this property is fundamental to the nature of "importance".

I didn't think it was that complicated, but obviously it is more involved than I was considering it to be. I'm continuing to work on this.

Please everyone, keep posting your ideas here.

[edit on 25-6-2008 by Buck Division]

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 10:59 AM
I was also thinking about your parallels to information theory, and bandwidth.

Considering examples (the best test of a theory). For example, the old story of "One if by land, two if by sea," a signal coordinating American reaction during the Revolutionary War.

The "information bandwidth" (or as I would call it, the amount of objective data) of that signal was very small -- a single lantern. But the importance was immense.

To analyze why, from a priori data, the importance was so great for such a small event, would require considering the actions and history of all involved: the meetings and coordinations, the speculation of possible British invasion routes, the lay of the land, experience with previous British tactics, etc.

Can that scope be reduced? Are there things we can definitely say will never be important?

posted on Jun, 30 2008 @ 06:20 PM
reply to post by Ian McLean

I've spent three days looking at this final question of yours, going back and forth in my mind:

Can that scope be reduced? Are there things we can definitely say will never be important?

I think this is a fundamental question. Because if EVERYTHING is important, then you can't take away a single event in history -- this is like the "butterfly effect". However, if importance needs to cross a threshold in order for it to be sustained for anytime -- well -- you can probably disregard a lot of things in history.

I'm going to say -- certain things are NOT important. It is like striking a bell -- the sound fades after a few minutes, and you will never be able to tell when the bell was last struck.

If that is true, then you can add this to the nature of importance: It gets below a certain threshold, and it is as if the bell was never struck. It has no importance whatsoever.

Among some conclusions you can draw (if this is true): if you went back in time to the very distant past -- and killed some arbitrary dinosaur -- chances are that you could return to the present and see no change at all. Unless it was an "important" dinosaur.

I'm rereading James Gleick's book "Chaos: Making a New Science", looking for a better answer. I will get back with conclusions, if any.

EDIT: I forgot to add -- maybe the number of things that are important, versus not-important, is some constant. Maybe you could kill an average of ten dinosaurs without affecting the present -- but no more than that -- on average -- depending upon when and where you time-traveled to. What might that number be? (Not such a silly question, I don't think.)

[edit on 30-6-2008 by Buck Division]

posted on May, 31 2014 @ 12:38 PM
Certain things are important whether we believe them to be or not. And some things are important for certain people in certain situations, but are unimportant to others in other situations. What is important is usually fluid - IMHO.

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