Erik Naggum's Ideas and Principles

Perception, Abstraction and Communication

The process of abstraction consists of rejecting irrelevant data and selecting relevant data to form an idea. The more concrete an idea, the easier it is to see which was the relevant and which was the irrelevant data, the easier for others to judge why each was discarded or retained, and the easier to communicate it. Conversely, the more abstract an idea, the harder.

When communication with other people becomes the primary source of new ideas, there is a danger that we receive "destilled perception", where it is no longer possible to know what was rejected or retained to arrive at it, nor why. Given that we are moving into an Information Age where communication of ideas takes an ever bigger share of our new ideas, losing track of the rejected data is a major problem. I do not believe humans are prepared to handle the lack of rejected data. That is, the validity of our ideas rests on knowledge of the information that argues for and against it. If no such knowledge or information exists, our ideas are not valid. In particular, the lack of verifiable, rejected data, leaves us no means to examine the conditions on which it was rejected.

Erik Naggum