whence the absentminded professor/bacon?
6 August, 2006
Found a popular-press article about some fascinating research on willpower that leads to some interesting conclusions. The experiment:
Take, for example, a group of hungry volunteers who were left alone in a room containing both a tempting platter of freshly baked chocolate chip biscuits and a plate piled high with radishes. Some of the volunteers were asked to sample only the radishes. These peckish volunteers manfully resisted the temptation of the biscuits and ate the prescribed number of radishes. Other, more fortunate, volunteers were asked to sample the biscuits.
In the next, supposedly unrelated, part of the experiment, the volunteers were asked to try to solve a difficult puzzle. The researchers weren’t interested in whether the volunteers solved it. (In fact, it was insoluble.) Rather, they wanted to know how long the volunteers would persist with it. Their self-control already depleted, volunteers forced to snack on radishes persisted for less than half as long as people who had eaten the biscuits or (in case you should think chocolate biscuits offer inner strength) other volunteers who had skipped the eating part of the experiment.
Read the article to see how this led Reaganite and I to this conclusion: