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Mercurial comments on An akrasia case study - LessWrong

31 [deleted] 10 December 2011 08:46PM

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Comment author: Mercurial 11 December 2011 04:50:15AM *  11 points [-]

I personally think this is a fantastic contribution. I don't know whether your techniques will work for anyone else, but this kind of specificity can give us some good directions to consider as we develop the "kicking" aspect of the Art.

I have to wonder if the ten thousand techniques for fighting akrasia and the general theory of motivation might be at too high a level of abstraction for where we are with understanding the phenomenon. It seems like understanding the science should let us create a consistent Akrasian Judo, but I'm under the impression that it doesn't work that way in practice. It seems more like individuals work out their own personal anti-akrasia techniques and then later can see how it fits into the procrastination equation.

I wonder if it would be helpful if many more people here followed your example and described the problem as a case study instead of proposing solutions. In your case, you did propose a solution, and I'll bet that it doesn't work for most people. Yet I think even your perspective on your solution is helpful as a case study because it gives us insight into both a specific manifestation of akrasia and what at least one solution to that specific form feels like. If we had a whole lot of case studies like that (with both successful and failed attempts to apply anti-akrasia techniques), I think we might be able to see patterns in a way that keeps us from thinking that our strategies work or fail for the reasons we think they do.

I'd like to start a new discussion to get this started, but I'll wait a bit first to see what others think in case I'm missing something.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 12 December 2011 11:14:21AM *  1 point [-]

The combination of mentioning Judo and asking for specific examples reminded me of a think I've noticed myself doing subconsciously. My introspection isn't clear enough to say if it works thou, or even if I'm really doing it as much as I think, but. Still here it is: Try to make your brain classify unproductive stuff as work, and productive stuff as play. Most important clues are if it's voluntary and if it's fun. So set up a schedule forcing yourself to do the kind of things usually procrastinate with in an optimised and work like way, then on your free time from that play around with things that also have productive side effects and you learn from.

If you're doing it RIGHT you'll always be doing things that are both fun and productive. If you do it wrong you'll never have fun and do totally unproductive stuff half the time and productive stuff but inefficiently the rest.

More concrete example: "Ok, I have to finish these LW articles I'm behind with THEN I'm allowed to take a break and do some programming.", then proceed to procrastinate the articles by doing writing exercises. source: all of the last few weeks. This is also why I haven't been commenting on stuff in the discussion section lately.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 December 2011 08:48:44AM 1 point [-]

Ha! Thanks for appreciating.

I've been really into the "kicking" idea since I read the craft and community sequence. I have some other posts in the works specifically targeting that, but I wasn't even thinking of this in those terms. Now that you say it tho, this does seem to be on that track.

then later can see how it fits into the procrastination equation.

this is gold. I thought the same thing earlier today when I reread the procrastination eq stuff. It all suddenly made sense given this experience.

you did propose a solution, and I'll bet that it doesn't work for most people

I'm assuming your referring to the practicing the banhammer idea? I suppose I did. The idea was mostly to describe my interpretation of what happened, but the whole "kicking" idea has made me want to tie everything back to what rationality dojos should be teaching. It seems easy to get lost in the abstract if you don't focus on that.

I'm glad you understood that the purpose of the post was as a specific datapoint.