Re: virus: ESS's and Punc. Equil.

Tim Rhodes (
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:52:37 -0700

Eric wrote:

>So my question is -- when did Puncuated Equilibrium enter the meme
>pool? And has anybody else written on the relationship between
>evolutationary stable strategies and puncuated equilibrium?

In a recent e-mail convesarion with Mario Vaneechoutte he pointed out to me that since memes don't self-replicate although they do evolve, they do not undergo natural selection in a similar manner to biological life.

Bill wrote:

>A note about punctuated equilibrium - It sounds like the idea that a
>"stable set" exists at any moment to be untenable - only because of the
>logistics of billions upon billions of sets of DNA remaining without any
>positive change for any measurable amount of time seems unlikely. I have
>to look at this as an oversimplification - that if your set was small and
>you could watch, then it might look like punctuated equilibrium - also if
>you followed a single species it would look that way. The basic idea seems
>solid to me though.

I think part of the point is that for self-replicating units 99.9% of that mutation is going to effect the ablity of DNA itself to replicate, screwing up the production of protiens and enzymes and whatnot that the DNA needs to copy itself. So for a self-replicating entity the only stable strategies are ones that at least preserve the ablity to perform that self-replication, limiting the possible variations for the gene.

But since memes are replicated by an agency outside themselves (brains) they have a wider range of informational space that variations can explore without directly interupting the replication process.

-Prof. Tim