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What’s 10% Human And Has A Long Tail?

And I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the Devil.

Let’s start with the 10% part. From an interview published in the WSJ with Bonnie Bassler, microbial geneticist at Princeton University:

… scientists are learning that microbes interact with humans in complex and often-useful ways. For starters, humans have one trillion cells of their own, but 10 trillion cells of bacteria. “At best,” says Dr. Bassler, “you’re only 10% human.”

And regarding the Long Tail, from Wikipedia we get:

The Long Tail” is a concept put forth by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article which described the niche strategy of businesses, such as Amazon.com or Netflix, that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities.

What the Long Tail observes is that under the right circumstances a usually silent majority can invoke their rights and get their just desserts.


If we start with the fact that only 10% of the cells in our body is us, then perhaps it’s just possible that we only serve for the pleasure of the other 90%.

Another example is described in “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins.

The contention is that the genes that get passed on are the ones whose consequences serve their own implicit interests (to continue being replicated), not necessarily those of the organism, much less any larger level.

He also introduced the concept of self-reproducing ideas, or memes, which (seemingly) use humans exclusively for their propagation.

Which leads to the more interesting question of where the Head Ends and the Tail Begins.

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2 thoughts on “What’s 10% Human And Has A Long Tail?

  1. Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.
    Mao Tse-Tung
    The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.”
    – Chairman Mao Tse-Tung

    Posted by Sal | October 20, 2009, 6:35 pm

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