Imagine that i invent a limerick, and tell it to several of my friends. If it is a good limerick, they will pass it on to their friends; if it is very good, it will spread around the English-speaking world. But if, like the Old Man of Japan, it does not scan, my friends will rightly forget it. Limericks, in other words, like many other ideas, resemble genes in being “replicators”: they can reproduce their kind, and different limericks will differ in their success in doing so. Richard Dawkins, in The Selfish Gene, noted this similarity with genes, and coined…
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