Seeking suggestions: Less Wrong Biology 101

by virtualAdept 1 min read20th May 201122 comments


I’ve been a reader and occasional commenter here for a while now, but previously have not had a solid idea of what I could or wanted to contribute to the community in posting.  In light of recent comments stating an interest in more posts that offer concrete, factual information as well as remembering lukeprog’s call for such things in his Back to the Basics of Rationality post, I am considering a series of condensed posts about biology.  As someone who has spent my formal education on biologically-focused engineering (bioengineering BS, now studying bioinformatics under a chemical engineering department for my PhD) but has always had the bulk of my friends in electrical engineering, computer science, and more traditional chemical engineering, I’ve gotten used to offering such condensed explanations whenever biology works its way into a discussion.  From what I’ve seen on LW thus far, the community educational base leans more in those (non-biology) directions, so I believe this is a niche that could use filling. 

Since biology is a rather broad subject, and you could all go read Wikipedia or a textbook if you wanted a very detailed survey course, my intent is to pick targeted topics that are relevant to current events and scientific developments.  Each post would focus on one such event/Awesome New Study, discussing the biological background and potential implications, including either short explanations or links to the basics needed to understand the subject.  If there are any political ties to the subject, I will withhold my explicit opinions on those aspects unless asked in the comments. 

My questions, then, are the following:

  • Is this something that people here would find interesting/useful in the general sense?  (While I do enjoy talking to myself, doing so on this topic has gotten a bit old, so I really do want to know if no one really thinks this will be helpful.)
  • How long/in-depth would you like?  This question is intended to gauge what my background explanation: background links ratio should be.
  • And most importantly, what are some topics you would like to see discussed?

UPDATE: Having followed the comments so far and done some preliminary outlining, I'm leaning toward a more organized progression of topics that will still tie into current interests and developments, but not be centered on them.  A bit more thought and putting ideas to text indicated that I could group the interest areas into biological categories (molecular, populations, developmental, neuro, etc) fairly easily, which would then allow for a 'foundations' post to introduce each major category, followed by posts that go over What We Know Now, Why We Care, and Where It's Going.