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Related to your earlier post on "Future Selves," the Time cover story also discussed why people have difficulty with intertemporal trade-offs ..

[... there's the irrational way we react to risky behavior that also confers some benefit. It would be a lot easier to acknowledge the perils of smoking cigarettes or eating too much ice cream if they weren't such pleasures. Drinking too much confers certain benefits too, as do risky sex, recreational drugs and uncounted other indulgences. This is especially true since, in most cases, the gratification is immediate and the penalty, if it comes at all, comes later. With enough time and enough temptation, we can talk ourselves into ignoring almost any long-term costs. "These things are fun or hip, even if they can be lethal," says Ropeik. "And that pleasure is a benefit we weigh."]

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