Sunday, 17 November 2013

Snowclone analysis

A "snowclone" is a multi-use template into which many things can be substituted. For instance:

  • ___ is the new ___;
  • There are always more ___ in the ___;
  • Keep ___ and ___ ___;
  • Once a ___ always a ___;
  • Dude, where's my ___;
  • The new ___ on the ___;
  • You say ___, I say ___;
  • Yo Dawg, I herd you like ___, so I put a ___ in your ___ so you can ___ while you ___;
Snowclones make relatively attractive targets for meme frequency analysis and phylomemetics - since there are many related variants, and the surrounding phrasal template often makes it easy to find and identify them.

To help illustrate the idea, I did some meme frequency analysis on Theodosius Dobzhansky's famous snowclone:

Nothing in ___ makes sense except in the light of ___

The results:

  • Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution (560,000)
  • Nothing in medicine makes sense, except in the light of evolution (20,200)
  • Nothing about protein structure classification makes sense except in the light of evolution (8,220)
  • Nothing in glycobiology makes sense except in the light of evolution (4,690)
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of DNA (1,750)
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of ecology (754)
  • Nothing in morality makes sense except in the light of evolution (337)
  • Nothing in biochemistry makes sense except in the light of evolution (124)
  • Nothing in psychology makes sense except in the light of evolution (119)
  • Nothing in economics makes sense except in the light of evolution (81)
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of phylogeny (74)
  • Nothing in politics makes sense, except in the light of cultural evolution (55)
  • Nothing in human psyche and society makes sense except in the light of cultural evolution (10)
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of genetics (9)
  • Nothing in Nazism makes sense except in the light of evolution (5)
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of fitness landscapes (5)
  • Nothing about human cooperation makes sense except in the light of cultural evolution (3)
  • Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of the big bang (3)
  • Nothing in economics makes sense except in the light of ecology (3)
  • Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of information (2)
  • Nothing in biology (including psychology) makes sense except in the light of evolution (1)

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