Building case-studies of akrasia

by Mercurial 1 min read14th Dec 201121 comments


The idea for this came to me when reading nyan_sandwich's "An akrasia case study." I outlined the idea itself in my comment in that thread.

So here's the plan:

  • In a comment reply to this, describe a specific instance of akrasia in your own life. Place an emphasis on the specificity. Focus on a specific task, either positive (i.e., that you judge to be good to do but self-sabotage from doing, like writing a paper) or negative (i.e., that you know you shouldn't do but do anyway, like buying more Frosted Flakes for breakfast and continuing to eat them). The more specific, the better.
  • You can share multiple instances, but please create new comments for each.
  • If you tried an anti-akrasia technique in this specific context, explain what you did and what effect it had. If you have some way in which you measured its effects objectively, please share that. If not, though, that's okay; we can still learn something from what various attempts to tackle different manifestations of akrasia feel like from the inside. The goal here is not to propose solutions; instead, it's to see what different things that feel like solutions seem to do to different kinds of akrasia. So even failed attempts are useful.
  • If you tried multiple approaches or if your approach requires some explanation, you might consider describing it and its effects in a reply to your description of the instance of akrasia you applied it to.

Let me emphasize one more time that we are not looking for solutions in this thread. Please don't give each other suggestions! If you think you're on to something hot in terms of the "kicking" aspect of the Art, please show us with a description of how the technique worked for you on a specific instance - but share the instance first. The goal here is not to demonstrate that you have a clever anti-akrasia technique. The goal instead is to see what different instances of akrasia and attempts to tackle it actually look like.

If at all possible, please share both successes and failures. This is especially helpful if we can see successes and failures of the same technique. This helps to balance out positive bias and gives us a better idea of the parameters within which different techniques work. Be especially wary if you have a favorite anti-akrasia technique because of the subconscious desire to attempt to change reality by pretending your favorite technique is actually perfect. If you do have a favorite technique, please actively seek out its true weak points.

Let's crack this thing!