I think the best place to start would be to state the following: Do not fear math. I spent far too long dodging equations and, when that wasn’t possible, freezing in a state of absolute confusion when faced with something like:
By the end of this post, you’ll hopefully be able to understand the above is not just a bunch of jibberish. Now before we get into the nitty gritty of the subject, I think a clarification of my assumptions is in order:
- That you’ll have a basic understanding of evolutionary biology. If not, then may I suggest Evolution as a very good, and highly comprehensive, introductory text. Failing that, you can always pop over to the wikipedia page.
- Although these posts will refer to evolutionary biology, my background is in linguistics and socio-cultural evolution — and as such, I will tend to default to the position of explaining these latter areas.
- It might sound insulting, but you’ll also need a basic understanding of math. You’ll be surprised by the number of people who, despite being very bright, lack even an elementary grasp of the fundamentals. A good place to start is with Kahn Academy’s wonderful online resource: http://www.khanacademy.org/.
- Having said that, I’m not really expecting anything beyond algebra level math, and I’ll do my best to try and clarify any confusions in the comments section. Also, I’m hardly a math guru, so I welcome anyone with a solid background in math to provide any hints, tips or suggestions, and, in the event I’m plain wrong, point out any mistakes.