Edit: Apparently not actually pseudomath, only looks like it, due to undefined scale and meaning of parameters. Although still contains a simplification made for rhetorical reasons that makes the formula wrong (see footnote 6).

This leaves us with "the procrastination equation":

I don't believe such pseudomath is a good way of evoking the relevant intuitions, given the downside of being meaningless. Isn't it strictly better to just say is as follows?

These are the factors that influence motivation the most:

Even if there is an interpretation where this does make sense, in your own presentation (in this post) you'd still need to define the terms and their units to turn this into a meaningful hypothesis, and state that it's indeed meaningful, to disambiguate from the rhetorical usage that I suspected in it.

Comment author:lukeprog
06 February 2011 02:25:15AM
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36 points
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Vladimir,

I am using the equation rhetorically, on purpose. The footnote given immediately after the equation explains that the version in this post is pseudomath, and lists the paper that gives the true equation (and its measurement units) and argues for its validity. I even went to the trouble of uploading a PDF of that paper (and 30+ others) so you can read it yourself:

I do not argue for the truth of any of my claims in this article. That would take a book, not an article. I just list the advice, and leave the arguments about truth and conceptual validity for the footnotes and the references, which I have provided, with great effort.

Comment author:Wei_Dai
06 February 2011 01:03:04AM
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10 points
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Isn't the equation just standard expected utility maximization, with hyperbolic discounting? (That is, if Luke hadn't removed the additive constant in the denominator that was in the original equation.)

Comment author:Dorikka
06 February 2011 12:04:28AM
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2 points
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I'm not sure whether I agree with you or not. The four terms in the equation don't have nearly as much predictive power as one might hope to obtain from an equation: specifically, we don't really know what units any of the four quantities are measured in.

On the other hand, having an equation does give us marginally more data than your preferred presentation does. At least we know that the relationship looks more like (E)(V)/((I)(D)) as opposed to, say, (E+V)/(I+D), or some such. I do feel that having an equation present (with the appropriate mathematical disclaimers) helps me gain an intuitive understanding of the concept presented.

The objection is not wrong, it's only partially wrong in that the pseudomath was inspired by correct math and not just a positive/negative influence list.

## Comments (148)

Best*8 points [-]Edit: Apparently not actually pseudomath, only looks like it, due to undefined scale and meaning of parameters. Although still contains a simplification made for rhetorical reasons that makes the formula wrong (see footnote 6).I don't believe such pseudomath is a good way of evoking the relevant intuitions, given the downside of being meaningless. Isn't it strictly better to just say is as follows?

Using the equation allowed Steel (2010a) to predict fairly accurately the behavior of students in an online course at the University of Minnesota.

*0 points [-]Even if there

isan interpretation where this does make sense, in your own presentation (in this post) you'd still need to define the terms and their units to turn this into a meaningful hypothesis, and state that it's indeed meaningful, to disambiguate from the rhetorical usage that I suspected in it.(Correction included in the comment.)

*36 points [-]Vladimir,

I

amusing the equation rhetorically, on purpose. The footnote given immediately after the equationexplainsthat the version in this post is pseudomath, and lists the paper that gives the true equation (and its measurement units) and argues for its validity. I even went to the trouble of uploading a PDF of that paper (and 30+ others) so you can read it yourself:Steel & Konig (2006). Integrating theories of motivation.

Academy of Management Review, 31(4): 889-913.I do not argue for the truth of

anyof my claims in this article. That would take a book, not an article. I just list the advice, and leave the arguments about truth and conceptual validity for the footnotes and the references, which I have provided, with great effort.*10 points [-]Isn't the equation just standard expected utility maximization, with hyperbolic discounting? (That is, if Luke hadn't removed the additive constant in the denominator that was in the original equation.)

Yup!

*2 points [-]I'm not sure whether I agree with you or not. The four terms in the equation don't have nearly as much predictive power as one might hope to obtain from an equation: specifically, we don't really know what units any of the four quantities are measured in.

On the other hand, having an equation does give us marginally more data than your preferred presentation does. At least we know that the relationship looks more like (E)(V)/((I)(D)) as opposed to, say, (E+V)/(I+D), or some such. I do feel that having an equation present (with the appropriate mathematical disclaimers) helps me gain an intuitive understanding of the concept presented.

Edit:Fixed order of operations.*1 point [-]Dorikka,

See here.

I now understand. Thanks.

This is still +8 even though the objection is wrong and lukeprog's article is awesome?

The objection is not wrong, it's only partially wrong in that the pseudomath was inspired by correct math and not just a positive/negative influence list.