Wow, thanks for your detailed reply! I’m going to just sort of reply to a random sampling of stuff you said (hope that’s OK).
I suspect one thing that might appeal to these sorts of people, which we have a chance of being able to provide, is an interesting applied-researcher-targeted semi-plain-language (or highly-visual, or flow-chart/checklist, or otherwise accessibly presented) explanation of certain aspects of statistics that are particularly likely to be relevant to these fields.
Makes sense, I’ve been learning more statistics recently and would have appreciated something like this too.
Small sample sizes, but I think in the biology reference class, I’ve seen more people bounce off of Eliezer’s writing style than the programming reference class does (fairly typical “reads-as-arrogant” stuff; I didn’t personally bounce off it, so I’m transmitting this secondhand). I don’t think there’s anything to be done about this; just sharing the impression. Personally, I’ve felt moments of annoyance with random LWers who really don’t have an intuitive feel for the nuances for evolution, but Eliezer is actually one of the people who seems to have a really solid grasp on this particular topic.
Speculation but do you think this might also be because people in more applied sciences tend to be more skeptical of long chains of reasoning in general? My sense is that doing biology (or chemisty) lab work gives you a mostly healthy but strong skepticism of theorizing without feedback loops because theorizing about biology is so hard.
Networking and career-development-wise… quite frankly, I think we have some, but not a ton to offer biologists directly.
That’s fair. I do think it’s worth distinguishing between the rationalist community in a specific case and LW itself, even though they’re obviously strongly overlapping. I say this because I can imagine a world where LW attracts a mostly socially separate group of biology-interested folks who post and engage but don’t necessarily live in Berkeley.