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DanArmak comments on Experiential Pica - Less Wrong

81 Post author: Alicorn 16 August 2009 09:23PM

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Comment author: DanArmak 17 August 2009 02:01:29AM 5 points [-]

If you are severely plagued by akrasia, and there is some large class of experiences that you completely leave out of your life, attempt to find a way to incorporate something from that class.

I find this suggestion hard to follow. There are far more experiences I don't have than ones I do have, and I think this is true for almost everyone. How would I know where to start? Should I take up dancing? Baking? Painting? Horse riding? Ant farming? Blogging? :-)

If our brains can have a deficiency of some kind of activity, there must be a relatively small number of such activity types. Unless we can figure out what they are we won't make much progress.

Also, unlike pica (where you say at least some sufferers have a craving for iron-rich food, which helps them), we don't know if "positive" akrasia ever drives people to do the thing they lack (because we don't know what it is they lack). Why should we suppose akrasia ever serves to fix a problem except by coincidence?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 17 August 2009 09:43:11AM *  9 points [-]

There are far more experiences I don't have than ones I do have, and I think this is true for almost everyone. How would I know where to start? Should I take up dancing? Baking? Painting? Horse riding? Ant farming? Blogging? :-)

If you cannot work out an answer, and you want an answer, then you must look for one. This is also called "research".

Alicorn said "some large class of experiences", and by definition, there aren't all that many of those. Physical exertion, craftsmanship, artistic creation, social interaction, intellectual endeavour (although people reading LW are unlikely to be doing too little of that), making money...

Pick something, anything, pursue it seriously, see if it does anything for you, take it as far as seems useful. Repeat.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 17 August 2009 05:09:38PM 8 points [-]

intellectual endeavour (although people reading LW are unlikely to be doing too little of that)

Unless they are spending all their time reading community sites such as LW as a substitute for, say, acquiring the kind of detailed, in-depth understanding that you typically need textbooks for.

Comment author: Z_M_Davis 18 August 2009 04:07:58AM 1 point [-]

intellectual endeavour (although people reading LW are unlikely to be doing too little of that)

There's no such thing as too much intellectual endeavor! There's too much to know!

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 18 August 2009 06:07:55PM 1 point [-]

There is if doing other stuff will make your time spent on intellectual endeavor significantly more productive.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 August 2009 02:20:39AM 3 points [-]

at least some sufferers have a craving for iron-rich food, which helps them

Not food. Pica is by definition an appetite for non-food; best-case scenario, they're eating actual iron objects or iron-rich dirt or something.

Not knowing what classes of activities exist is a handicap, but we can make guesses - exercise is plausibly one, and one that looks promising for other reasons. I suspect that creative activities, possibly including baking, is another, and there's some evidence that sunlight and fresh air are splendid things to have, so going outside might be useful too.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 August 2009 02:59:06AM 1 point [-]

Exercise and sunlight and so on are definitely good for us. But why do you think they're particularly linked to akrasia? I know they're linked to various mood disorders and so on...

I guess I just don't understand why you're proposing this hypothesis and not another. Is is just the analogy with pica, on the level of "akrasia is a craving to do or not-do X, so maybe its cause is doing or not-doing some unrelated Y"? Does this explain/retrodict some known facts about akrasia that I missed? Or is it just a direction of investigation for now?

Comment author: Alicorn 17 August 2009 03:23:03AM 4 points [-]

I guess I just don't understand why you're proposing this hypothesis and not another.

I can only propose hypotheses I think of.

Is is just the analogy with pica, on the level of "akrasia is a craving to do or not-do X, so maybe its cause is doing or not-doing some unrelated Y"? Does this explain/retrodict some known facts about akrasia that I missed? Or is it just a direction of investigation for now?

It's mostly just a direction of investigation, based on a known thing the brain can do - when some Y is is needed, the brain is known to sometimes ask for unrelated X, which does not eliminate the root problem (need for Y). I'm saying that Tetris et. al. may be the Y in a pattern like this.

Comment author: gwern 30 September 2009 04:16:15PM 1 point [-]

How would I know where to start? Should I take up dancing? Baking? Painting? Horse riding? Ant farming? Blogging?

You say that like trying all of those would be a bad thing or something!

Comment author: DanArmak 30 September 2009 06:12:48PM *  0 points [-]

I was saying there are far too many things I don't do for the suggestion 'do something new' to be effective without a non-random way of choosing what to try next.

Also, I'm sure there are some experiences or combinations of experiences I don't have that would turn out to be bad. The examples I gave weren't intended to evoke that idea, though.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 17 August 2009 04:23:38AM 1 point [-]

*How would I know where to start? *

The ancestral environment.

In fact camping might be a good default answer.

Comment author: CronoDAS 17 August 2009 05:10:25AM 3 points [-]

Camping tends to make me miserable, for some reason.

Comment author: Technologos 18 August 2009 05:57:29AM 0 points [-]

I'd suggest that, even more than camping, any one of rock climbing, forestry, or hunting would probably provide the concrete achievement sense that pica/akrasia requires.