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Dmytry comments on How to Beat Procrastination - Less Wrong

156 Post author: lukeprog 05 February 2011 06:49PM

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Comment author: Dmytry 08 February 2012 06:50:01PM *  6 points [-]

I think the biggest problem with procrastination is that it results from fairly rational formulae, give or take a little outdated evolved psychology. The rewards that are far in the future are intrinsically less certain as the probability of drastic change accumulates over time, especially for impulsive individuals; the rewards of studying are many years into the future, and the utility of those rewards is very, very low on the biological scale of things, for the people living in rich countries.

As far as biology is concerned, human is a system with 1 ultimate goal: reproduction. Other behaviours (e.g. pursuit of status) are only means to an end. Studying in the developed countries, in particular is an extremely ineffective form of pursuit of status which is particularly unlikely to improve reproductive success, and is likely to decrease it.

It is bloody hard to use rationality to fight for the behaviours (studying) which much of your hardware has rightfully and rationally deemed irrational and not worth the time expenditure.

The conscious 'mind' is like a naive figurehead that gets fooled by everyone and everything, which is good for a honest face while repeating the lies (it repeats lies told by CEO, it repeats lies he heard on tv, et cetera). The figurehead got talked into adoption of currently-ineffective yet traditional strategy, but the CEO won't even bother to listen and produce a counter-argument, or explain it's choice. CEO just commands. The whole point of having a naive figurehead is to keep the figurehead in the dark. The CEO is a private fella, he sits in his office and lets everyone else think that figurehead is the CEO. The figurehead himself has to think so. The figurehead has barely mind of his own; he can't compare things and find inconsistencies; he keeps thinking that he's the CEO even though nothing obeys him (albeit the figurehead does make the coffee and can often wreck damage to the corporation by giving a sleeping pill to the CEO, i.e. taking the 'anti procrastination' drugs).

Now, if you are in a developing country and you are facing really bad life if you don't study - then it is different story. Then your procrastination is fairly irrational and outright dumb.

edit: to be more constructive. You can try thinking harder about what the future is going to be like - running out of oil, runaway technological progress, genetically engineered diseases, and such. Then perhaps you will at least get yourself rational-ish motivation to study hard science, as it may help you survive (a very long shot though and the improvement in survival might be negligible). Still, that won't make the 'CEO' care about the paper that says that someone thinks you ought to have learnt something after having been listening to lectures and preparing for exams (a degree paper). Studying for exam real quick then forgetting what you learnt? Forget about doing this, the only studying that will matter is the one that lasts in your head and this form of studying is much slower and might not even keep up with the courses.