Willpower depletion debunked

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Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:12 am

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In 2011, Baumeister and John Tierney of the New York Times published a science-cum-self-help book based around this research. Their best-seller, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, advised readers on how the science of ego depletion could be put to use. A glass of lemonade that’s been sweetened with real sugar, they said, could help replenish someone’s inner store of self-control. And if willpower works like a muscle, then regular exercise could boost its strength. You could literally build character, Baumeister said in an interview with the Templeton Foundation, a religiously inclined science-funding organization that has given him about $1 million in grants. By that point, he told the Atlantic, the effects that he’d first begun to study in the late 1990s were established fact: “They’ve been replicated and extended in many different laboratories, so I am confident they are real,” he said.

But that story is about to change. A paper now in press, and due to publish next month in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, describes a massive effort to reproduce the main effect that underlies this work. Comprising more than 2,000 subjects tested at two-dozen different labs on several continents, the study found exactly nothing. A zero-effect for ego depletion: No sign that the human will works as it’s been described, or that these hundreds of studies amount to very much at all.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by DrDonkeyLove » Tue Aug 23, 2016 12:54 pm

The author's angst over his foundational beliefs was the best part.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:01 pm

Apparently Zigmund Freud himself was a bit of a fraud: forged case records, destroyed correspondence, made up data etc. And apparently, Darwin plagiarised his Theory from Wallace. My childhood heroes going down one by one...
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Grandpa's Spells » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:54 pm

Pretty sure this isn't a debunking of willpower depletion, but of this clown's interpretation.

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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Yes, I'm drunk » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:00 pm

This is why peer review doesn't work anymore.

Nobody wants to discover the truth.

People just want to get famous with a widely-publicized paper and boost their h-index.

It's the academy's version of Bulletproof® Coffee.

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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:26 pm

Sangoma wrote:Darwin plagiarised his Theory from Wallace. My childhood heroes going down one by one...
That one doesn't hold up. There's a lot of evidence to suggest they worked in parallel and that Darwin just busted his ass to publish sooner.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Boris » Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:32 am

It's been a little while, but I liked the book well enough. The Power of Habit was another one that came out about the same time that was also good.

There are some solid tips in both, but I'm not sure that either one is especially helpful if you aren't going to just fucking get into the process of getting the shit done and keep at it. Establishing discipline and habit is everything - I've always thought so.

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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:17 am

Darwin-Wallace fight has been going on for years. As always, the emotional intensity is always way more up than warranted.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:18 am

Willpower is an absolute bitch: you just have to have it to achieve certain things. No way around it.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by TomFurman » Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:59 pm

Arnold used the term, "want power". Maybe a play on words, but I like it better and use it.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by powerlifter54 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:56 pm

It just comes down to most people want good grades, a nice car, Crazy physical capabilities, a high paying job, looking great nekkid, a huge 401k, or their house having great landscaping, etc. But not many or willing to pay the price to get there.

Choices. And most choose to do nothing.

So i got that going for me.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:14 pm

Until you can identify the neurological mechanism for exercising "free will" (Bon Chance...) the point is somewhat moot.

That which you're gonna do, you're gonna do. The first tenet of Satanism (Do what thou Whilst) gets closer to the mark of what happens when you pursue what you want.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by seeahill » Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:48 pm

Blaidd Drwg wrote:
Sangoma wrote:Darwin plagiarised his Theory from Wallace. My childhood heroes going down one by one...
That one doesn't hold up. There's a lot of evidence to suggest they worked in parallel and that Darwin just busted his ass to publish sooner.
There's a good book, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, by David Quammon that addresses the issue. Very short but, like every Quammon book, meticulously researched. Darwin had come up with the theory 40 (?) years before he published. He was "reluctant" because he knew the theory flew in the face of the religious conventions of the time. When Wallace, an upstart biologist, started sending in his research from Indonesia, Darwin knew he had to publish. He always acknowledged Wallace.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Alfred_E._Neuman » Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:21 pm

Blaidd Drwg wrote:Until you can identify the neurological mechanism for exercising "free will" (Bon Chance...) the point is somewhat moot.

That which you're gonna do, you're gonna do. The first tenet of Satanism (Do what thou Whilst) gets closer to the mark of what happens when you pursue what you want.
That's kind of how I see it as well. I'm skinny and lean by nature, and have always done well at the endurance stuff. Now that I'm in my 40's and still lean and do well with endurance stuff, people are always asking how they can lose weight and how I manage to "make myself row every day". It's not that I make myself do it. I row because I'm going to row. It never occurs to me that it's a choice. I'm gonna do it. If it's not in your make up to put in long hard efforts, no amount of self talk is ever going to make you come home and hop on an erg (or whatever your poison is) every afternoon.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:56 pm

Blaidd Drwg wrote:Until you can identify the neurological mechanism for exercising "free will" (Bon Chance...) the point is somewhat moot.
That by itself opens one huge box of shit.

Scientists say free will probably doesn't exist, but urge: "Don't stop believing!"
At the core of the question of free will is a debate about the psychological causes of action. That is, is the person an autonomous entity who genuinely chooses how to act from among multiple possible options? Or is the person essentially just one link in a causal chain, so that the person’s actions are merely the inevitable product of lawful causes stemming from prior events, and no one ever could have acted differently than he or she actually did? …
The quote doesn't say much about the piece, it's worth reading it in full.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Thu Aug 25, 2016 4:26 am

Harris's book on free will sent me down a rabbit hole of reading on the subject. I'm still not sure that anyone who understands the mechanisms can reasonably argue that it exists but what that means in the grand sense is still super murky.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:17 am

This stuff gets really strange in Buddhism. One guy by the name Nagarjuna (couple of thousand years ago) came up with the Tetralemma - as opposed to Dilemma, the binary logic we are used to. So, in dilemma something is either try or not true. In tetralemma something can be true and not true at the same time. Buddhist oriented physicists like to illustrate it with the properties of the light. The statement "light is a wave" is true, not true, not true but not untrue, and neither untrue nor not untrue. Taking a solid dose of your favourite psychedelic helps to understand this better.

Coming back to the beginning, in Buddhism they say that you don't have free will, as everything is caused by something else - your cause and effect law. At the same time you are fully responsible for your actions. Take couple more mushrooms here. I get the idea (I think) at the intuitive level, but don't ask me to prove it.

Seriously though, the more I think about it and look around, the idea that we act out of free will gets weaker and weaker. Personally I believe that thoughts determine your circumstances stronger than actions. Or rather that actions without correct thoughts are destined to fail... I better shut up before they knock on my door demanding urine sample.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by powerlifter54 » Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:58 pm

We all get caught up in the tide of age, choices, relationships, finances, career, health, etc. In other words when you are younger generally you have a lot more choices and options, but as time goes by you become limited by a lot of things. So while Tim Tebow at 29 can get a MLB tryout, 99.99% can't. But on a day to day basis, despite the current of prior choices that pushes us along, we have a huge variety of choices we make that we do control and can strongly impact your life. i am well aware of the impact of random lightning strikes of a shitstorm. Have had more physical and medical problems in the past year than my whole life. Some completely out of my control, some at least partially the result of my choices. This gets to a debate i have listened to for years on free will vs. pre-destination. IMHO, that time listening to that was a waste. because neither answer is completely defensible. What is actionable, and not at this point because i want it badly, are the day to day choices that will lead to good outcomes. As a young man i was formed by the military ethos of you get things done out of a sense of duty and professionalism not always by personal preference. i have an enormous supply of show up and get it done. The path from skinny 165 to National Level 242 was driven by desire and will. The path going forward to something i don't know yet is driven by discipline, the ability to do things you don't feel like doing.

Control what you can control. Avoid the big blows of life. Enjoy your family, friends, interests, and good food and drink. Rinse and repeat. No guarantees of how many repeats you get.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Thu Aug 25, 2016 4:31 pm

powerlifter54 wrote:This gets to a debate i have listened to for years on free will vs. pre-destination. IMHO, that time listening to that was a waste. because neither answer is completely defensible. What is actionable, and not at this point because i want it badly, are the day to day choices that will lead to good outcomes.

I think this reflects a radical misunderstanding of the state of the debate.

There's virtually no evidence to assume free will exists as a neurological mechanism. I know we all wish and act if it were so...but until the structure of the brain reveals something radically different...do what you're gonna do...cause you're gonna do that anyway.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Thu Aug 25, 2016 4:33 pm

Sangoma wrote:Seriously though, the more I think about it and look around, the idea that we act out of free will gets weaker and weaker. Personally I believe that thoughts determine your circumstances stronger than actions. Or rather that actions without correct thoughts are destined to fail... I better shut up before they knock on my door demanding urine sample.

This is the most interesting area of inquiry in the debate I think.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Yes, I'm drunk » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:42 pm

Sangoma wrote:This stuff gets really strange in Buddhism....
Alan Watts used to question whether the cause and the effect were separate things.

I think he might have expanded that out into a critique of scientific "reason" as well. Not sure, but interesting stuff nonetheless.

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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:35 pm

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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by powerlifter54 » Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:33 am

Blaidd Drwg wrote:
powerlifter54 wrote:This gets to a debate i have listened to for years on free will vs. pre-destination. IMHO, that time listening to that was a waste. because neither answer is completely defensible. What is actionable, and not at this point because i want it badly, are the day to day choices that will lead to good outcomes.

I think this reflects a radical misunderstanding of the state of the debate.

There's virtually no evidence to assume free will exists as a neurological mechanism. I know we all wish and act if it were so...but until the structure of the brain reveals something radically different...do what you're gonna do...cause you're gonna do that anyway.
i don't buy that at all. i do not doubt there is credible evidence that a lot of folks defer to what they feel like doing. But while i agree free will is a frictionless plane type of construct, we all have a choice of what we choose to do in many areas. You may not be the master of your destiny, but you can be the master of your next day, at least in part. Choices matter and their consequences are largely quantifiable.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:06 am

powerlifter54 wrote:
Blaidd Drwg wrote:
powerlifter54 wrote:This gets to a debate i have listened to for years on free will vs. pre-destination. IMHO, that time listening to that was a waste. because neither answer is completely defensible. What is actionable, and not at this point because i want it badly, are the day to day choices that will lead to good outcomes.

I think this reflects a radical misunderstanding of the state of the debate.

There's virtually no evidence to assume free will exists as a neurological mechanism. I know we all wish and act if it were so...but until the structure of the brain reveals something radically different...do what you're gonna do...cause you're gonna do that anyway.
i don't buy that at all. i do not doubt there is credible evidence that a lot of folks defer to what they feel like doing. But while i agree free will is a frictionless plane type of construct, we all have a choice of what we choose to do in many areas. You may not be the master of your destiny, but you can be the master of your next day, at least in part. Choices matter and their consequences are largely quantifiable.
Maybe...

or more likely completely not. There is in fact nearly zero evicen to suggest people do anything other than exactly what they want however counter intuitive those desires may be. In fact, given the unreliability of memory and the brain's near constant attempt to create a narrative to erect meaning from a pile of sticks that is reality, it's every bit as likely that the reverse is true....and that we're all declaring victory after the fact...building a story-line consistent with our own internal mythology.

If I were a betting man I'd say that if there is a roll for self determinism it's the semi conscious narrative creation we all do, meaning you can't really do other that you would do in real time but you MIGHT* through the power of conscious thought, create a mental picture of your future self such that you subconsciously adapt your actions and choices to this "future narrative" ...essentially conscious thought seeds the mental environment...thus..


Conscious awareness of habit and actions *MIGHT* create the foundation for course change moving forward. Or...I'm completely full of shit and even this real time awareness is predetermined.
But what about our ideas of “personality responsibility” and that oh so popular idea of “will power”? Well, the nonexistence of free will, even in this “Beaumeistian” sense, has significant implications there. We have rules and we have consequences for breaking those rules in our society because they do, impact the behavior of the people in our society (to varying extents)). Knowledge of the rules and more importantly, knowledge of the consequences for breaking those rules, enters into the decision making systems of the individuals in our society and gets the vast majority of them to follow the rules, most of the time. But we’d be fooling ourselves if we thought that we could simply “legislate” ourselves to any behavior we wanted. The existence of criminals demonstrates that individuals vary greatly their ability to respond to the incentives we have put in place to affect their behavior. Sure, we could get different results with different incentive, but the key point is that there are stiff limits to what we could accomplish with such.
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Re: Willpower depletion debunked

Post by Sangoma » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:50 am

This is more complicated than would seem at a superficial glance. Seriously fucked up. But backed by serious science.

The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system
Consciousness—Cause or Effect?
I have argued that one of the reasons that it is common to believe in free will is the constant awareness of the capacity to make conscious decisions that appear to causally affect one’s behavior. This relationship is depicted in Fig. 1A, where consciousness, reflecting in part a force WILL, impacts in a causal way the unconscious neural activity of the brain and thus affects behavior. The dilemma here, stressed throughout this article and illuminated in Fig. 1, is that WILL has causal properties (WILL affects behavior) and yet WILL arises in a noncausal way; society “demands” that WILL be “free”—we want to be able to hold people accountable for their actions. Some might argue that there should be an arrow indicating information flow from “unconscious neural activity” to WILL (Fig. 1B). This would provide a causal component for WILL; however, WILL would then lose its “freedom”—it would then simply be a product of GES.

One resolution for this dilemma is that consciousness, rather than being a means by which we influence behavior, is simply a mechanism by which we follow unconscious neural activity and behavior. This model is depicted in Fig. 1C, where the causal component of consciousness is the unconscious neural activity of the brain, and this in turn reflects GES; consciousness has no independent impact on behavior. If there is a flow of information from consciousness to unconscious neural activity of the brain (Fig. 1C, arrow 2), then the causal component of this information does not differ in any way from the input information (Fig. 1C, arrow 1).

In keeping with this line of thinking, are studies that indicate that consciousness is something that follows, and does not precede, unconscious neural activity in the brain. In experiments performed by Libet et al., subjects were asked to move a finger (at “will”) and electrophysiological measurements were determined, both for the finger and the brain (22). Activity of the brain preceded finger movement by ≈500 ms. When the participants were asked to record the time of their conscious decision to move their finger, this also preceded finger movement (in keeping with the apparent causal relationship between will and behavior). However, this conscious awareness followed in time, by a full 300 ms, the initial onset of neural activity. Although such experiments are certainly not proof that consciousness is nothing more than a mechanism of following the activity of the brain, the observations are in keeping with this line of thought (23, 24). Furthermore, a more sophisticated version of these experiments has recently been performed whereby neural activity was measured, not by electrophysiological means but by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In these experiments, brain activity was detected in the prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before subjects were conscious of any decision-making process (25).
Forget about Libet, whose work has been beaten to death.
I am constantly struck by the anomaly associated with the commonly accepted model of consciousness (depicted in Fig. 1A)—namely, WILL lacks any causal component. This problem of causality was appreciated by the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago; and yet, as far as I can tell (and after “constant” conversations on this topic for more than two decades), this anomaly is appreciated by only a relatively small fraction of my professional colleagues. I have suggested earlier that one of the reasons for the popular acceptance of the notion of free will is the constant awareness of conscious thought processes that seem to affect our behavior. Biologists may have an additional reason for entertaining the possibility that there is a biological basis to free will. In the space of a few decades, biologists have been remarkably successful in providing a molecular and cellular framework for most of the fundamental problems in their field. Examples include the description of DNA as the genetic material, the diversity of the immune system, a molecular genetic basis for development, and a molecular model for circadian behavioral rhythms. It occurs to me that the confidence associated with these successes may contribute to the notion that eventually a molecular basis for free will be forthcoming. However, as noted, there are “causal” difficulties with this line of thinking, as appreciated by the early Greeks and as discussed by some philosophers and biologists.
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