Hyperbolic Discounting

06 January 2016

Deadline gorillas have a habit of creeping up on people. They then jump out creating panic and mayhem.

This phenomenon is well explained by Tim Urban who writes about The Panic Monster*. It is a great read and there are definite parallels between My Many Me's and Wait But Why*. I would be lying if I said I was not inspired by his work. Thanks Tim!

I know it is called discounting but it works the other way too. Think of it as dividing. Dividing makes things smaller if you divide by a number greater than one. However, if you divide by a number smaller than one (e.g. a half), it makes things bigger. Dividing by zero makes things very frigging big indeed.

Gorilla Me versus The Panic Monster

It is probably worth pointing out that Tim Urban's Panic Monster and Instant Gratification Monkey are not quite the same as Gorilla and Monkey Me. Gorillas represent your fears of future unwanted outcomes and not a state of mind (i.e. panic). However if you zap an urgent and important Deadline Gorilla with a Hyperbolic Discounter gun, this would create a Panic Monster.

Monkeys represent your desires for future gratification. Zapping an imminent Monkey Me would create an Instant Gratification Monkey.

Do we consciously zap Gorillas and Monkeys? No, the blaster is almost always set to auto rapid fire.

* an asterisk at the end of a link means that if you click this link you will be taken to another site.