Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Wed 04 May 2005 - 22:53:29 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity"

    At 10:00 AM 04/05/05 -0700, Bill wrote:
    >Dear Derek,
    >>>The flu virus, HIV, and others seem to mutate much, much more
    >>>rapidly than memes,
    >>We can't measure the mutation rate in memes. so there is no way to
    >>compare them to RNA or DNA.
    >Well, lack of precision does not preclude comparison, it just makes it
    >coarse grained. For example, take this quote from Chaucer:
    > I warne yow wel, it is no childes pley.
    >Eight memes (lexemes), counting 'childes pley' as one, six mutations
    >(including short to long 'i' in 'childes') in over more than 600 years.
    >Millions of replications, at least. That's gotta be slower than the flu, no?

    I started to talk about germ line as opposed to somatic replication, because while a lot of people have learned Chaucer, very few did serial copying. One the other hand, perhaps you are referring to language shifting generation by generation. People who are up on this (such as my wife, an English major) say there was more evolution in the language between Chaucer and Shakespeare than from has happened since (about twice as long).

    To normalize for comparison, you would figure out bits of change per generation since at the root of it, genes and memes are both information.

    Keith Henson

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