Akrasic Reasoning

by MatthewBaker 3 min read5th Aug 201120 comments

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This post is in a constant state of revision, similar to this post. This is mainly because I do not have a beta and this is based on many personal experiences that are unclear at times.

 

This subject has been touched on many times throughout LessWrong because Akrasia is the most dangerous foe of any true follower of Rationality. When you know you could be amazing but you find yourself unable to change due to the havoc that feelings can play with your thoughts you feel helpless and I want to help you surpass that. I am beginning a Journey to fight Akrasia directly in all its forms and in the past such Journey's have been abandoned without much progress. In this mini-sequence of posts I plan to not only document my fight to push past the depressing weight of Akrasia as a tool to keep me on the path, I will also provide some anti-Akrasia reports on my progress with different techniques that fellow LessWrongians can look back on and draw strength from in times of despair and laziness.

 

My name is Matthew Baker and I want to save the world.

I think most people share the feeling that the world should be saved and that only true sociopaths can discount the value of all sentient life. This is so important because the majority of people aren't able to defeat their innate Akrasic reasoning, ugh fields, and other factors that prevent them from functioning in a way that aligns with their beliefs. I think that if you believe in something, and you wish to be more rational towards the world then you should either push your beliefs towards the current state of reality or push reality towards your current state of beliefs.

When I was younger and sought something that I could devote effort to that would change the world for the better, I was quite disillusioned by the fact that nearly every cause relied on their innate biases to deal with the problems facing them. From political struggles to moral tribulation humanity is very good at ignoring things that don't coincide with their worldview. I always sought to surpass that but for a long time I failed to find anything to believe in that coincided with reality. Now that my skepticism is satisfied I have to logically take a look at what things are preventing me from promoting my beliefs. Akrasia is the most dangerous foe of any true follower of rationality. I've personally experienced Akrasia as the feeling when you know you could be amazing but you find yourself unable to change due to the havoc that feelings can play with your thoughts. I am beginning a journey to fight Akrasia directly in all its forms. I've attempted this in the past without making much progress; I'm hoping a different approach will help me succeed (or at least make new and different mistakes). In this mini-sequence of posts I plan to document my fight to push past the depressing weight of Akrasia. As a tool to keep me on the path, I will also provide some anti-Akrasia reports on my progress with different techniques.

My goals for this quest are varied yet connected. I don't intend to take them all on at once, but instead phase them in over the upcoming month and see if i can find the limit of my ability to avoid wasting time.

  1. My goal to make myself more fit and transition to eating healthier food, right now I'm fairly skinny and I want to build some muscle to match with my height(6'1"). Enough so that I dont have trouble picking up things and carrying them without much out-word signalling of effort, but I'm not looking to become a bodybuilder or anything I just wanna optimize the vessel carrying my consciousnesses with better food and habits.

  2. My goal is to become more skilled socially, I rested on my social laurels for a long time and focused on associating with people that fit my views on set issues. For maximum success I will focus on general social group construction as I advance into my second year of college. I wanna see how much fun and rationality I can spread if I focus on being skilled at gathering smart and interesting people into the fun vortex I can create around me.

  3. My goal is to get a substantially higher GPA then I did last semester. I spent very little time on school but managed to pull off a 3.1 which was lower than my first semester GPA and I want this trend to reverse as I spend more focused time on school and actually study for the first time in my life.

 

Things that prevent me from achieving my goals are mostly random web browsing and gaming, lots of ugh fields I've only recently been able to write down and start purging from my thought process, negative emotions that sap my willpower and currently unknown other factors. Hopefully I will be able to surpass these problems with the power of self reflection and sharing, classical conditioning and positive substance use.

My goals for the upcoming week involve some social and fitness goals until school starts on the 20th. Hopefully I can get these partially phased in and be able to focus more on academia once I'm back up at school. For specific milestones I want to dance closely with at least 1 girl at a rave I'm going to tonight up in LA and I want to start working on pull-ups so I can get back up to my previous total(3) and start building from there.

I expect I'll have to deal with some social anxiety at the rave and some ugh field's towards the fitness, but hopefully this form of specific goal setting and reflection will work well. I will also have substances available for backup in case I fail to perform to my personal expectations. Combined, this should allow me to surpass my Akrasic Reasoning of the past for the sake of our combined future.

What can you gain from my efforts as fellow rationalists? Hopefully, once I've competed my journey I'll be able to explain my mind state well enough that you can learn from it and apply it to your own goals. When my mental state is low reading about how someone else was able to push back up from a similarly bad state can be amazingly helpful and I hope that I can provide that to others.

 

Tsuyoku Naritai! My Friends

P.S. If luck exists, I wish to gain more of it and believe in it so wish me luck with my first top level post. :) Edit: Its now in discussion until I see a surge of excitement towards the idea of this mini-sequence.

 

 

 

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