The Altruistic Replicator

by Phil Fraundorf (UM-StL) / version 01 March 1996.

"Wherein lie clues to the origin of simple rules for the fair replication in group of everyone's ideas. The vote and free-speech and gene-sharing during reproduction exemplify such bargains, which can be important in long-term pair bonds as well. For more on this subject, see The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (Oxford University Press, 1989)."


The evolving of codes underlies
much of what we find under earth's skies.
From primordial soup
and biochemical goop,
genes begat eukaryotes, trees, and I's.

Our soup of ideas is more recent.
Replication of thoughts is quite decent.
Ideas, jokes, songs and schemes,
when replicating become memes,
which evolve like hearsay from precedent.

The co-operate meme is an old one,
and although oneness can simply be fun,
replication of code
stamped by each in the fold,
underlies every persisting union.

The cause for the bargain is clear,
codes that replicate will still be here!
Rewarding all in the group
with their kids in the soup,
is how codes still around may well steer.


  • For ideas on recovering the cadence of a limerick from each of the 4 verses above, take a look at the highlighted version of this poem. Suggestions on ways to decrease the need for such help, or to otherwise improve the poem, are invited.
  • Send comments and/or complaints to philf@newton.umsl.edu