Well, that's my point. There's all these arguments hanging around here and when you take any of the general approaches, like utility theory, you tend to bump into them with nasty consequences. As I said: I don't really have a way to "solve" this.
So far as I recall, Ainslie's thesis is that the various "modules" of the brain have hyperbolic discount curves which are then composed to yield an exponential curve. Akrasia is what happens when particularly strong specific impulses spike above the exponential discount curve. Ainslie predicts what you actually see: lots of people making rational decisions punctuated by failures of "willpower" large and small.
I'm also unsure whether you're overstating LessWrong's obsession with akrasia. It's never felt over-generalized. The focus on it seems reasonable enough insofar as LeWers seem to be drawn heavily from students and techies, two groups for whom akrasia can be particularly destructive. So even if hyperbolic discounting is rarer (than I'm still not sure what), the expected negative value of akrasia may be particularly high for LeWers, leading to its perennial popularity.
Your target populations are very different. Your average philosophy undergrad is closer to your average undergrad than is the average LeWer. Pitting LeWers against philosophy undergrads who spend substantial amounts of their time on unassigned philosophical investigation and discussion seems a more fair fight, at least if you also handicap LeWers for age.
Shokwave got it more or less in narrative form. Thinking rationally gives you a shot at breaking path dependence before you get too far gone to turn back.
The irony of this thread is that there are, atm, 24 comments, one post and 46 karma points between them. So either there's a lot of counterbalancing karma or no one wants to opine!
This presumes that extending the life of an existing person by 100 years precludes the creation of a new person with a lifespan of 100 years. We will be motivated to prefer the former scenario because it is difficult for us to feel its relevance to the latter.
No, he's probably not wrong but he's also not relevant. The OP probably isn't importing the meme directly from 19th century France. In the US, you import the meme from two general sources: hippies or the tech industry. Given the author's own description of his life, the tech industry seems most likely.
But who knows: maybe he's a meme hipster and only imports French originals?
Facts that need to be cleared first: (1) you are 22, (2) "passion" is a meme imported from the tech industry.
You shouldn't have a sense of direction at 22. If you do, you're doing it wrong; it means forswearing experimentation, which is a huge net positive endeavor at that age.
People usually develop a sense of direction because of path dependence. Since you are not in a professional major, dependence is weak. The down economy, with its ebb of opportunity and grim signals, worsens any confusion. If you feel you are even more confused than you should be, that's probably the reason.
The passion thing is just what techies talk about to thump their chests. It means whatever the speaker needs it to, just ignore it.
If you query Less Wrong, what is the probability that the median response is acceptably close to correct? Please provide confidence intervals, feel free to break out any classes of propositions if you feel that it would be unfair/poor form/not very fun at all to group all classes together but explain why.
What is the proposed mechanism? Is it that they think harder about it or simply that they read more carefully? Test design criteria often specify a number of interventions to prevent mistaken readings (for example, using "NOT" rather than "not" or emphasizing queries in bold type after a long paragraph).