Excess Noise Knowledge Base

Definitions for those who work in communications and perception


Our minds are rich; they are filled with a wealth of impulse and knowledge that guide our decisions throughout life.

Though our brains are highly complex, as I write, brain science is advancing rapidly. We know more today than ever before. We know what most areas of the brain do. What’s exciting is the democratization of this knowledge. You can download apps that describe the brain in greater detail than anatomy books a mere twenty years ago. The problem is that individual messages are not yet decipherable. We cannot read minds. We cannot definitively and without doubt understand how the brain will react to a specific set of signals. We can, however, using acquired knowledge, understand why the sound of corn popping in a microwave will solicit a very different response from a teenager than a war veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. For the former, the pop of popcorn evokes movies and fun. To the war veteran, the sound can be a chilling reminder of a distant battlefield, inciting anxiety, even panic.

Until we can read minds, we need another model. We could just ask the person but first of all, it would be an ex post facto response. The model would not allow us to anticipate a reaction. A simple ask is also usually wrong. People are not able to accurately recount their emotions.  They tend to oversimplify and exclude subtle thoughts and afterthoughts. And what if we are trying to pre-analyze a message that is about to go out not to one person but to many, perhaps of different ages or cultures.

We need a model that enables us to determine how the human brain processes information. We have been developing and using one such model since 1977. As a student of communications under Dr. Malik, who authored ‘Communication Analysis of Information Complexes’ and ‘Communication Analysis of Environment’, I was exposed to the physical and natural reactions to the world around us. Dr. Malik taught us to measure this world, to understand how humans perceived the signals and how humans instinctively reacted to them.

We needed more. We needed the model to help us understand how humans react based on more than just instinct or culture. We needed our four filter paradigm.

  • First, our model identifies how the message relates to fundamental human hardwiring [our genetic coding – what we were born with];
  • Second, it identifies how the message relates to human imprinting [our culture, tradition or experience – what we’ve learned or acquired];
  • Third, how the message relates to present interference [trends, other’s influence and current circumstances – what surrounds the message];
  • Finally, the likely impact or effect of the message or decisions resulting from the message [consequences, impact, success – what will happen if you act on the message].


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This glossary of definitions is not intended as an academic reference. It is an exercise in thinking on our part. We hope to grow it and welcome any suggestions you may have.