A Tale of Two Instances of Akrasia:
- Say you have a hard deadline in a month and you know you’ll end up
down to the wire. You check the exact time of the deadline and see
that it’s 9am. Groan! That portends a brutal all-nighter. Why couldn’t
they have made it 9pm the previous night? (Similarly, deadlines that
are timed so as to ruin a holiday.)
Note that that lamentation is patently crazy. Nothing prevents you
from setting your own deadline 12 hours ahead of the real one. But
I’ve heard such lamentations often, including from myself. Such people
are classic akratics and should derive huge value from forcing
themselves to make steady progress as the deadline approaches,
eliminating that all-nighter.
They rarely do though. Instead they resolve to pretend the deadline is
earlier, and then pull the all-nighter anyway.
I think StickK and Beeminder are offering something hugely valuable there.
- An instance of akrasia – failure to save up for an important
purchase – which has a pretty good solution: layaway.
Here’s an article about that:
I think Beeminder beats layaway, but I’m not hopeful about reaching
the demographic that have a use for it. (Poor people, in other words.)