An oldie from my July 17, 2007 entry on LiveJournal.
If a vortiquat falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, did it really fall?
Well, you have to know what a vortiquat is before you can determine what happens when it falls and what–if any–sound occurs. So without an understood symbol for the frame of reference, it’s just abstraction.
If a video camera with a microphone records a tree falling in the forest, it still falls and makes noise. If a video camera with a microphone records a vortiquat falling in the forest, it’s still abstraction because there’s no symbol in consciousness for reference. Whoever views the tape will see and hear the tree, but the flexibility of their consciousness will determine whether or not they can sense the vortiquat.