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Theory Theory

This is an open and independent inquisition around the following conjecture:

Do scientific theories follow the same evolutionary principles of natural selection?

Relativity, geometry, thermodynamics, logic, linguistics, theology and most other fields of research seem to follow the same patterns we observe in natural species: theories compete with each other to explain observable phenomena and make predictions, they mutate over time as they get transcribed, interpreted and translated and they reproduce crossing over between different fields causing new branches of thoughts.

Theories seem to use natural language as their unit of representation (like DNA) carried over a variety of mediums (papers, books, etc).

As opposed to protein, theories seem to produce explanations and predictions that are advantageous, which make their carrier (humans) more fit to survive, increasing their chances of beign passed over to the next generations.

Theories are so pervasively replicated and reproduced that you can trace their lineage looking at the explicit scientific citation.

Like species, they seem to follow the sort of taxonomical and hierarchical organization: higher level studies (e.g. philosophy, mathematics, biology, etc) branch into a variety of sub fields (e.g. computer science, physics, etc), much like humans are mammals which are animals.

Unlike species, abstract theories are transcribed, reinterpreted, reproduced, distributed and combined at a much faster pace than physical DNA, so they evolve substantially faster.

A lot of open questions and things to explore:

  • What’s the origin of theories? What was the evolutionary advantage of the very first individual that generated and propagate the very first theory?
  • How are they represented and preserved? Natural language?
  • How are they transmitted? Written word?
  • Do theories compete? If so, for what resources? Utility? Predictions?
  • Do theories replicate? Sexually?
  • Do theories mutate? Transcription? Reinterpretation?
  • Do theories go dormant?
  • How does it compare with genetic evolution?
  • What type of evidence was gathered to support natural selection?
  • If this conjecture fits observable evidence, what predictions can it make?
  • In addition to fitting evidence and making predictions, what other evolutionary advantages do theories bring to their carriers?
  • Does this conjecture apply to all forms of thought?
  • What area of research does Theory Theory belong to? Epistemology? Evolutionary Biology?
  • Are there counter examples to this conjecture?

Interested? Drop me a line!