This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

OHooligan's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by OHooligan

Comment 17 by QuestioningKat

Thanks QK, I just had an "Aha!" moment. Here it is again in slow motion:

Ideas are not themselves material.

Exactly. They're Information. But so are genes. They're long strands of digital data encoded in DNA molecules. It isn't the molecule that is passed on when DNA replicates. It's the Information.

The atoms are different, but the gene remains the same. How many of the atoms in the original egg-and-sperm combination that started your good self are still within your body somewhere? Don't know? Nope, me neither. But does it matter? Not a bit, I'd say. And what are the odds of any of these atoms making it into one of your children? About as near as you can get to zero. But what are the odds of a particular gene getting through into one of your children? 50% isn't it?

All genes are pretty much equal if all you do is count the number of atoms of each element, it's the arrangement, the Information, that matters.

so, to paraphrase your insightful comment (and give you the credit)

Genes are not themselves material.


So, in easy bites:

Genes are information.

Memes are information.

The same rules can apply to both these kinds of information.

Both are kinds of information that can evolve, by replication, mutation, and selection by competition for limited resources.

And finally, the "Aha!!!": I'll put it as an assertion:

Evolution is an innate property of Information, independent of the specifics of the processes that encode, replicate, mutate and select it.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 04:46:32 UTC | #949879