Significance

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Significance により Mind Map: Significance

1. Working definition:

1.1. Something is significant because it differs form preconceptions and/or expectations and norms, or because it changes said expectations.

1.2. Significance is a judgement dependent on how something is perceived.

1.2.1. Significance is subjective even in math and science.

1.2.1.1. In math, significance is dependent on the p-value which is dependent on human judgement.

1.2.1.1.1. See: Math, Statistical significance.

1.3. Merriam-Webster definition - paraphrased:

1.3.1. Used as a noun, significance is more synonymous to the word meaning and/or importance than it does to the word signify. Signify can have a similar meaning to significance if used in a different part of speech: for example signifier.

1.3.1.1. A signifier is essentially a marker or sign of significance.

2. Intentionality:

2.1. Significance can be created unintentionally.

2.1.1. For example, Jan 13, 2018, Hawaiian false nuclear missile alert.

2.1.1.1. In this case, fear for predictions of future events was highly significant to many people, disrupting their lives.

2.1.1.2. Whether the emotion is fear or something else, any thing that prompts heightened emotions could be qualified as personally significant to the people experiencing the emotion.

2.1.1.2.1. Since this is an assumption (I was not in Hawaii at the time) I have no idea what this event was like, or how it affected people, but based on prior knowledge, I believe it would have been both terrifying and personally significant.

2.1.2. Something else to consider is both the source of the preditiction and its likelihood of occurring.

2.1.2.1. If you consider receiving two theoretical warnings: 1. You are about to spontaneously combust. 2. A nuclear missile alert. You are much more likely to believe the latter, because there is much more of a precedent for nuclear weaponry, and the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, than there is for (human) spontaneous combustion.

3. Subjectivity

3.1. Significance is a subjective observation since there is no physical way to measure a concept such as significance or importance.

3.1.1. Significance is a subjective observation entirely dependent of both personal and context and universal context. universal.

3.1.2. It is also binary: something is either significant or insignificant.

3.1.2.1. But within the term there are degrees of significance or insignificance, and additional distinctions such as personal or global significance.

4. Relativity

4.1. Relativity revolves around subjectivity.

4.2. An event can be entirely insignificant if it is not relative to something else.

4.2.1. As with special relativity (See: Science, Physics, Relativity), where motion is relative, significance is relative to context.

4.2.2. An event entirely removed from context is meaningless, but when put in context, it can be very significant.

4.2.2.1. Take pushing a button as an example. It, in itself, is not a very significant act. It could be turning on a radio, a phone, an oven, even a button on a piece of clothing. But it could also release a nuclear weapon. Yes, there are definitely more steps involved in the launch of nuclear weaponry than pressing a single button, but it is definitely part of the process.

5. Scale

5.1. Personal Significance vs Global Significance

5.1.1. Personal Significance

5.1.1.1. Since events or actions do not affect everyone the same way or to the same degree, using terms that imply the opposite becomes problematic.

5.1.1.2. The solution to this is personal significance:

5.1.1.2.1. I consider personal significance to be how an event, action, or any form of change impacts an individual's expectations, beliefs, knowledge, or norms.

5.1.1.2.2. Since truly expressing such an impact to another person is virtually impossible, the only significance you can even hope to define - internally- is your own.

5.1.2. Global Significance

5.1.2.1. Global significance is a very loosely defined concept, relying heavily on both knowledge and assumptions.

5.1.2.1.1. My working definition of global significance is that something is globally significant if it impacts millions of people’s lives.

5.1.2.1.2. Personal significance is generally a more accurate term, but when referring to broader significance, I use global significance as a suitable substitute.