Beeminder Forum

Intensity of punishment effects?

Has anybody grappled with how findings like those described below, and similar findings, apply to / jive with how Beeminder functions? (Actually I’m sure somebody has; I’m just wondering if there’s a succinct discussion of it anywhere). Should we all be short-circuiting to a higher pledge level as often as possible so we don’t slowly weaken the effectiveness of Beeminder for ourselves? Or do we believe Beeminder actually gets more effective the better we get with using it? I would like to think the latter, but wonder if anyone has found any evidence like that.

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Or similarly, but less clearly, this slide.

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Love how you’re thinking! I don’t have a thoughtful response at the moment but I just wanted to link to https://blog.beeminder.com/punishment/ by @tierrabluebird for some relevant background reading. Thanks for asking these questions!

Also potentially relevant are some notes I have for a future blog post tentatively called “Paying Is Not Punishment” (there’s also some discussion in another forum thread) as a sort of followup to “Derailing Is Not Failing”.

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Haven’t read your first link yet, but had read the Derailing is not Failing in the past and it made me think that there are arguments on both sides of that. After one has had a few small derails and come to terms with them, it seems to reinforce the Derailing is not Failing thought process, but on the other hand, that thought process could be argued to be just an instance of the punisher weakening as described in the sources above. Nevertheless, as with probably everything related to learning in real life, there are way too many rules interacting to understand it by just appealing to one. I’ll try and think about it for a while, and nevertheless come up with no more insights :slight_smile:

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I will also endeavour to reread that Derailing is not Failing and see if I see it in a new light since it came out. Nevertheless, I’m starting to feel overwhelmed with the idea of analyzing any form of learning rigorously in real life. I guess I just need some actual practical lab/research experience to alleviate that, but I might never get around to that!

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I’ve definitely noticed a barrier to derailing that falls after a few derailments - at first it’s like “no I can’t let myself derail” but then once I derail a few times the barrier gets weakened.

I’m keeping the pledge amount constant, so one way to deal with this would be to increase the pledge after the barrier gets sufficiently weak.

Knowing that derailing will weaken the barrier also provides an incentive not to derail, so as not to weaken the barrier and lose motivation.

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Yeah! Crazy circular business like this is what makes me lose faith that an analysis is even possible. Any ideas we state in this discussion will then become further variables which will influence our behaviours and outcomes! Oh the humanity!!!

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Hmmm… I now feel like letting one of my goals slide tonight, so I can just revel in the depravity of it.

Is this perhaps anomie caused by the COVID? Or acedia from isolation? @dreev, there’s a blog post, see if you can reconcile anomie, acedia, and akrasia into one big, meaningful synthesis! (And make sure you stick to the more complicated ancient treatments of acedia, not the new versions where it’s just lost all depth and become sloth).

  • Chris

P.S. Or a thesis, if it doesn’t fit into a blog post lol

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What are anomie and acedia?

Hey sorry for not responding quickly. I was being a bit facetious: basically they’re all complex ideas from Latin/Greek that start with “a” and would be really difficult to synthesize. But if you think enough about them, it might be interesting. Anomie is a sociological concept; basically it refers to the consequences for an individual if group norms fall apart or aren’t effectively applied to them for some reason. If you’ve never come across it, it’s worth a google. Robert Merton’s later work on it is quite insightful (the original concept was Durkeim’s). Given the seeming loosening of some social norms while others are being tightened, it seemed to be interestingly related to COVID. Acedia is an ancient concept, most thoroughly dealt with in the Christian tradition. It was basically, at first, a “disorder” (sin / vice / evil thought depending on who was writing about it and their theological presuppositions) of hermits; it was a sort of powerful dejection and usually was accompanied by an inability to perform necessary spiritual tasks (but could also have opposite manifestations, such as being immoderately ascetic). Over time it has been warped as an idea, and the later writers (Baudelaire, Huxley, etc.) equivocated it with ennui or mal du siecle. Even later, it became simply a synonym for depression. Given that it was specific, in its most ancient conceptions, to hermits, it seemed germane to COVID isolation. I would advise not Googling it, because it is such a nebulous example in the history of ideas that all the results are a mess. Even the Wikipedia article is terrible, and usually I put great faith in Wikipedia.

Anyways, they’re interesting ideas but I was just kind of joking, along the lines of stressing how difficult things are to analyze, so we should analyze three extremely complex discrepant (and alliterative) ideas while we’re at it.

  • Chris

Can you explain more about the original view of acedia?