A fun evolution model?

A lot of the debate here surrounds what exactly we mean by ‘evolution’. Since we don’t have a clear idea, much of the discussion devolves into semantic arguments, most boring of all the arguments!

To remedy the situation, here is a simple model of evolution, somewhat faithful to biological evolution, that can maybe serve as a reference.

What is the model? Why, simply spelling! Appropriate, too, since each amino acid has a representative letter from the English alphabet. Additionally, has precedent with Dawkins’ infamous weasel example, and the even more infamous Shakespeare writing monkeys.

So, an example genome is:


The genes are the individual words. Fitness is based on whether the genome consists of words in the dictionary. A bit more complicated can be whether the genome is grammatically correct.

Now, we can talk about various evolutionary mechanisms:

  1. flipping random letters
  2. copying words
  3. deleting random bits
    and so on.

From there, we have a bit more concrete idea what exactly is necessary for a form of evolution that can go from bacteria to Bach. Entirely reliant on the English language that is oh so familiar to everyone on the forum.

What do you think?



Withdrawn for further rumination.

1 Like

I think English orthography is an abomination and mixing around letters to get words is not analogous to DNA.

But we could compare the Lord’s Prayer in Old English, Middle English, and Modern English and it would have some parallels to biology. That could be fun.

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;
Si þin nama gehalgod
to becume þin rice
gewurþe ðin willa
on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg
and forgyf us ure gyltas
swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge
ac alys us of yfele soþlice

Oure fadir şat art in heuenes
halwid be şi name;
şi reume or kyngdom come to be.
Be şi wille don
in herşe as it is dounin heuene.
yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.
And foryeue to us oure dettis şat is oure synnys
as we foryeuen to oure dettouris şat is to men şat han synned in us.
And lede us not into temptacion
but delyuere us from euyl.

Our father which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.


Please speak for yourself.


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