Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90

post by palladias · 2013-07-02T02:13:59.962Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 618 comments

This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 90The previous thread has passed 750 comments. 

There is now a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.) 

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: 1234567891011121314151617,18,19.

Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it’s fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that “Eliezer said X is true” unless you use rot13.


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comment by cywtLC2Fy8A · 2013-07-03T09:58:07.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry has already upgraded two existing spells: partial transfiguration and Patronus 2.0

In both cases, he achieved the impossible by ignoring what wizards believe and instead concentrating on his own beliefs.

What does Harry believe about Hermione that other wizards do not? He believes she is a purely biological machine, that there are no souls, and that a reductionist viewpoint is correct.

Therefore, in the right frame of mind, perhaps Harry can reparo a dead human (although canon!reparo cannot repair magical items properly, I wonder if it might restore Hermione without her magic, and if she might just be just as awesome without it.)

Replies from: shminux, ikrase, linkhyrule5, NancyLebovitz, Izeinwinter, FiftyTwo, mavant
comment by shminux · 2013-07-03T22:03:33.981Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why the magical dualism? Since the magic ability has been confirmed genetic and not external in the earlier testing with Draco, a "repaired" wizard will remain a wizard.

Replies from: alex_zag_al
comment by alex_zag_al · 2013-07-04T01:04:47.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a genetic marker that the Source of Magic recognizes. The gene is still there, but the magic may not be. What wizards believe to be the soul leaving might be the Source of Magic withdrawing its power.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2013-07-04T05:57:35.347Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What wizards believe to be the soul leaving might be the Source of Magic withdrawing its power.

Sure, that makes sense. But why would it not come back once the person is alive again?

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-04T14:11:30.455Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because a stateless system is always simpler than a stateful one.

If it assigns magical ability to living brains with wizard genes, that is strictly lower Kolmogorov-complexityi than identifying a wizard at birth, tagging them and then withdrawing power when they 'die'.

(Stateless means no hidden variables; everything can be decided locally.)

Examples of powerful stateless systems: The basic logic gates, the Link Layer of the Internet (barring traffic control utilities), Lambda Calculus, and others.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2013-07-04T16:06:26.035Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You seem to confirm my point. It's a basic logic gate: (wizard genes & alive) = magical ability. remembering that the person was once dead is an extra complication.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T01:00:05.956Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to Quirrel (this might not actually be accurate) troll regeneration works by constantly transmuting itself into its own body. I wonder if that can be applied to a human...

Replies from: NihilCredo, chaosmage, ChristianKl
comment by NihilCredo · 2013-07-04T03:25:28.334Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry would have to maintain the transfiguration for the rest of Hermione's life, or until they find a replacement solution. Given the extent of the injuries that may not be within his strength.

Replies from: sketerpot, ikrase
comment by sketerpot · 2013-07-04T06:24:45.805Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It does sound like exactly the kind of clever hack Harry would use to get an indefinite healthy lifespan, though.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T03:52:28.986Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hermione would probably maintain it. Or maybe someone else. Harry should probably be doing this to himself, too.

comment by chaosmage · 2013-07-05T13:49:55.005Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But memories, like wounds, would be constantly overwritten. This troll, while quite competent in many ways, never displayed learning ability.

Somehow I don't think a human unable to learn would be what Harry would consider a valuable result.

Replies from: Sheaman3773, ikrase, falenas108
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-24T04:03:35.177Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

First, I'm not sure how much learning precisely you were expecting from the troll in this limited period of time, most of which was taken up by it feeling fly-bites and smacking around the flies, nor even how you would expect for such to be seen.

Secondly, it did seem to learn. George hit it with three Ventus spells, each one moving it further towards the edge of the terrace. Between the second and the third, the troll dug its hand into the stone, anchoring it in place so that it would not be blown over the edge. If that's not adapting to match a new threat, I'm not sure what would be--certainly not in the brief time of the fight where most of the attacks were on the level of fly-bites.

If that is not displaying a learning ability, I would like to hear an example of a learning ability that it could have displayed.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-05T18:39:31.109Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I... think that the effects there would actually be much worse: The troll would be basically stateless. It's not even clear how that sort of thing would avoid disrupting the transfig. process.

Perhaps it's somewhat more advanced, like the charms that McGonagall was mentioning.

comment by falenas108 · 2013-09-15T04:34:17.788Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is if the spell made logical sense when carried out to the fullest. But, magic doesn't work like that, it works the way we would naively think if we said "transforming back into itself."

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T21:30:37.851Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to Quirrel (this might not actually be accurate) troll regeneration works by constantly transmuting itself into its own body. I wonder if that can be applied to a human...

Given that human exert sweat I doubt that doing transmution directly on humans is a good idea.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T04:47:17.367Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

... It strikes me that Harry's wand could not be affected by a normal reparo, up until someone threw the Elder Wand itself at it...

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T13:51:10.894Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ideas about what Hermione without magic would do? Presumably some sort of research with occasional overwhelming research-based action, but science? magic? some combination?

Replies from: ikrase, DanielLC
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T00:58:31.867Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Possibly she would get outfitted with a truly ridiculous array of magic items?

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T06:41:59.026Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Become a dentist?

comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-07-03T11:20:15.091Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

... This is perfect.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-07-04T03:56:03.645Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

ill go further. This could be the philosophers stone. It is not a physical object, it is a 600 year old scrap of parchment that explains this. Flamel routinely obliviates this idea from his head after repairing his body back to optimum operating condition because allowing any first year student to live forever and to /raise the dead/ is an insight that seems obviously catastropic to someone raised before modern agriculture and contraceptives.

Repairo works on anything still recognizably a certain kind of object? This would let you restore anyone who has any remains left at all..

Replies from: Desrtopa
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-04T05:03:31.961Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This raises the question of how Flamel is so sure Voldemort couldn't replicate the Stone though. If he doesn't know what it is, he's in no position to make such a claim at all, and if that were what it was and he knew it, this should be just the sort of thing that anyone familiar with Voldemort should expect him to think of.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-07-04T06:26:35.553Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He is in fact not sure of this at all. The entire point of maintaining the illusion that there is a magical macguffin is to keep people like voldemort from speculating about how he maintains his youth. As long as the world is barking up the alchemy tree...

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-07-04T00:11:09.063Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Both of those cases depended on a crucial insight rather than knowledge (Dementors represent death rather than fear, the boundaries of objects are arbitrary) I'm not sure if knowledge of physicalism is analogous.

comment by mavant · 2013-07-03T12:08:41.413Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So much win.

comment by palladias · 2013-07-02T02:17:05.300Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I loved this:

That's not how responsibility works, Professor." Harry's voice was patient, like he was explaining things to a child who was certain not to understand. He wasn't looking at her anymore, just staring off at the wall to her right side. "When you do a fault analysis, there's no point in assigning fault to a part of the system you can't change afterward, it's like stepping off a cliff and blaming gravity. Gravity isn't going to change next time. There's no point in trying to allocate responsibility to people who aren't going to alter their actions. Once you look at it from that perspective, you realize that allocating blame never helps anything unless you blame yourself, because you're the only one whose actions you can change by putting blame there. That's why Dumbledore has his room full of broken wands. He understands that part, at least.

Does anyone else run into the problem of frequently giving this advice to yourself and finding it useful, but struggling to find a non-awful way to convey it to other people? I don't want to get them to self-flagellate, but to look for what leverage they have and not worry as much about what it totally outside of their control. Stoicism seems like the main way people hit on this idea of responsibility in my social circle.

Replies from: buybuydandavis, Qiaochu_Yuan, Alsadius, Eugine_Nier, ChristianKl, Ritalin, Jayson_Virissimo, lukeprog
comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-02T08:06:07.900Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Harry phrased it poorly, and if he meant it, he was absolutely wrong.

Allocating blame on yourself is a category error. We morally judge to separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff - in short, to sort into piles of approach and avoid. You're stuck with you - where ever you go, there you are - so the point of the categorical judgment is simply inapplicable.

The sensible and very valuable part of what he is saying is to look to what you can do, and don't seek to console yourself with "that was his responsibility". Such interpersonal judgments are all about roles

because you're the only one whose actions you can change by putting blame there.

But you can change your actions more directly and more effectively by changing them. Putting blame on yourself is one of the better paths to depression, which is not an effective state. Blame others where appropriate and useful, but don't blame yourself, only search for actions to improve the situation, and choose them. You blame others because their actions are not yours to choose. Don't blame yourself, choose better.

Replies from: None, NancyLebovitz, Ritalin
comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-02T10:11:11.532Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a problem with the concept of heroic responsibility. It's not defined with sufficient resolution to nail down the interpretation of paying attention to specific parts of the causal graph and exclude the interpretation of feeling like a horrible person. I can't decide if Eliezer doesn't worry about people coming away with the second impression or if he actually endorses it.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-02T12:51:39.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Any thoughts about how to apply this sort of thinking when you're extremely stressed?

Replies from: Decius, buybuydandavis, palladias, loserthree, FiftyTwo
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:05:50.952Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I call it "being solution-oriented". Stop any discussion or thoughts as to whose "fault" it was, and look at everything which could have been done to prevent the negative outcome. Consider hindsight bias carefully before saying that a particular action which could have prevented a given crisis had an expected positive return.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-03T11:12:22.836Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Stressed? Like someone who is being whipped for their inadequacies and failures? That kind of stress?

People will scourge themselves in ways that they'd curse if the lashes were landing on anyone else's back. Why is compassion and kindness only for other people? Who but a psychopath would ever even imagine beating another person in ways that we beat ourselves? If it would be cruel to say "X" to someone else, why isn't it cruel to say it to ourselves? If other people don't deserve that, we don't either. The hand that holds that whip is no one's friend, and deserves the same anger no matter who is taking the lash today.

The first rule in the judgment game is fairness - everyone is judged by the same standards. Everyone gets the same compassion, the same kindness, the same will to protect that anyone else does. A good test for fairness is whether SWIM judging SWIM yields the same result, and that test is a first step away from judging yourself at all.

You asked how to apply my previous thinking while stressed, and I assumed stressed by not applying my thinking, but instead blaming yourself. I don't think you get there with the idea alone, as ideas have a different function and operation than our judgment and valuations. Ideas are too bloodless to combat judgment on their own. Judgments are beaten by better judgments. When the judgment is knocked down by another, the idea can then join in and keep it down by kicking it in the head any time it stirs, but it's unlikely to effect a takedown itself, especially in the short term.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T13:42:50.055Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was thinking about Harry's situation-- he's grieving and under very high stakes time pressure, so there are external sources of stress as well as what he's imposing on himself.

As for the real world, I've been trying to undo a very bad habit of self-attack for a while. Realizing that that the attacks are unfair is a start, but only helps occasionally. Getting angry at it is a risky strategy. If it's the wrong kind of anger, it just feeds into the internal rage. I didn't analyse it before, but the difference might be between a fairly emotionally distant "This makes no sense and should stop because it doesn't make sense" (sometimes helpful) vs. "this attacking part of myself is revolting and infuriating and shouldn't exist" (really, the same attitude that causing the problem).

Examples of the "makes no sense" which do some good: For a while, I'd look in the mirror and on some days I'd think I looked fairly good and on other days I'd think I looked like hell. Eventually I realized that looking like hell actually meant looking frightened and/or tired. At that point, it occurred to me that telling someone who was frightened or tired that they looked like hell was wildly inappropriate, and I've at least cut back on that-- sometimes I have negative opinions about how I look, but the intensity is lower.

I also hang onto the idea that beating up on myself for symptoms of depression doesn't make sense.

Hypothesis: People put amazing amounts of work into emotionally abusing each other. I believe that what reinforces the abuse is seeing that the person abused is seen to feel frightened, squelched, unhappy, etc. The abuse may well continue and intensify until hurt is achieved.

I believe that abuse is a tool for status enforcement.

A person who's abused may internalize the situation and come to believe that feeling better isn't safe, because feeling happy, relaxed, confidant, etc. is precisely what draws more abuse.

The solution isn't just believing that internal abuse is wrong, it's alieving that living well is safe.

Replies from: jimmy, buybuydandavis, Velorien
comment by jimmy · 2013-07-03T22:05:06.337Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I went through a situation very similar to Ch90. Same story, different details.

Even got the worse-than-useless attempts at comfort - now I can't even say "I'm sorry" to my uncle for letting his son die. That's one of the few things that still brings me to tears about this whole incident.

My thought process was fairly similar to Harry's, and I've given it a lot of thought, so I might be able to shed some light on the topic.

Any thoughts about how to apply this sort of thinking when you're extremely stressed?

When the pressure was on, there was no room for guilt and it was just do do do with some frantic thinking interpersed - even when it was clear that there was little hope. The feeling that I was to blame didn't come until afterwards, when there was nothing left I could do. At the point where you can still do something, it's not so much the "it's your fault and you should feel bad", but rather "this can't happen. THINK THINK THINK!" which gets in the way.

The main advice I have here is to come to terms with the possibility ahead of time. Get those tears out of the way now, so that should it happen, you just see it for what it is and not what it "can't" be.

Practice helps, but it's hard to deliberately come by legit/safe practice. Even though I had plenty of experience, I didn't realize at the time that I was a more panicked than I needed to be. I had never lost before, and so I thought I was doing "good enough" - though in hindsight, clues were there.

I can't imagine anything I could have done at the time to not feel guilt once it was official, and I'm not sure I would have wanted to anyway.

People will scourge themselves in ways that they'd curse if the lashes were landing on anyone else's back. Why is compassion and kindness only for other people?

Because you usually can't get away with lashing at others.

Lashing at others is often done to shift blame off the attacker even if it doesn't help the attacked take responsibility, and so it makes sense to be punished. It's also easy to win social points for making people feel good and signalling alliance even if it masks over the problem and keeps them stuck.

These things don't really apply internally, and there is a purpose to it.

The solution isn't just believing that internal abuse is wrong, it's alieving that living well is safe.

This is exactly it. Calling something "wrong" and "bad" isn't that helpful. You wouldn't need to call it "wrong" if you didn't have a reason to do it in the first place - and as long as you have that reason, you're going to have an uncomfortable inner conflict about it and will likely do it anyway.

Actually, I wouldn't even call it abuse. It's a message - a very painful message, but just a message nonetheless. Reality isn't what it should be and it could have been if you made better decisions and were more the kind of person you try to be. Pain isn't something to avoid. Avoiding pain rather than avoiding that which causes pain is simply wireheading.

The pain is an impulse to do something about it. I thought I was prepared to keep my family safe. I was wrong. It would be bad to feel all happy and guilt free as long as I had not done my homework to make sure I don't screw up again. No way in hell I'm going to let myself be guilt free if it means I might lose someone else that could have been saved.

As I went through exactly what happened, why it happened, what I could have done differently, how I would have known to do it differently, what changes need to be made to ensure that I do it right in the future, etc... I felt less and less guilt. And then another aspect would come up that I hadn't thought through and I'd have to do it all over again. In the end it's just something that is what it is. I wish I had done things differently and that he were still alive - of course I do. However I can't really beat myself up any more for making the wrong call now that I know exactly what lead me to it. I'm a deterministic system and was in a known state with known inputs, so of course I gave that output. There's just no other way for it to be - might as well wish 2+2=5. The only thing left to do is to change the system so that it does better in the future.

Ideally you'd just get on track to do what you need to do so that you don't need the constant motivation of guilt - and then the guilt can just go away immediately instead of when you're finished working things through. That's what I do with physical pain. However, I wasn't able to do that here. Most can't.

I couldn't because going through and learning what I needed to learn required plowing through nasty ugh-fields. Places where my identity conflicted with reality. No, I'm not perfect at handling situations under stress, and yes it can actually be the difference between having my cousin alive and not. Those aren't fun thoughts, and I didn't want to have to face them. The guilt needed to be high enough to push me through it anyway. I even had my hypnotherapist buddy help guide me through it at first, until I was able to more easily recognize subtle deflections I was making in order to not feel all the pain.

It'd have been better if I just faced all uncomfortable thoughts without flinching. I wish I were able to just accept everything as it comes and make sure I learn enough from bad experiences without needing to feel these pressures, but I'm not there yet. And so of course I felt guilty. The alternative wasn't acceptable.

Replies from: MixedNuts, Benito
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-07-04T13:54:01.882Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's pretty obvious why you wouldn't want to go into details, but this seems rather too vague to be of use. Should I think of plans in case I need to find a student in Hogwarts, to fight a troll, to convince a student to disobey McGonagall? Should I do a headcount every time I walk into a room and try to guess where missing people are and what will happen if someone announces there's a troll in the castle? Should I sign up to Defense classes and duelling clubs and the Armies so I'll get training in thinking and acting under pressure? Should I think of possible ways Hermione could end up dead or hurt or in Azkaban and ways I can prevent that? Should I imagine those outcomes in excruciating detail so that I won't be too shocked if they happen? Once Hermione gets eaten by the troll, how do I use the replays and alternate versions in my head to become better?

Replies from: jimmy
comment by jimmy · 2013-07-04T18:26:47.226Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nah, it's fine. That one was hard for me because it hit a spot I hadn't worked through yet, but I'm good now and not afraid to give details. I just feel weird bringing up personal details when it doesn't feel relevant - like if I were to start talking about the taste of death blood/vomit unnecessarily :P

On the forethought/practice side of things (as opposed to the emotional prep side), it really depends on your risk level. For MoR!Harry, probably something like "all of the above". For me personally, the risk level isn't obscene like that, but given how big my family is and the fun stuff we do, it was almost surprising no one had been seriously injured (before the accident). There's no way I could have planned out the logistics of incident any more carefully - everything was right there. The only mistake I made that night that definitely would have made a difference was treating the guy in danger as less of a PC and more of an NPC. It's actually a mistake I've made in the past, but I had no idea it would apply to him. Even in hindsight it's not obvious.

In terms of preparing for that kind of thing, other than common sense safety protocols, I keep in mind which situations are potentially life threatening and which risk a broken bone at most - and taking extra risks in the latter category because it gets me practice and is fun (never actually broken a bone, or been present while one broken, btw).

In terms of learning from the aftermath, it seems like it just follows from taking responsibility but not blame. You're a deterministic system. Why'd you do what you did? No, "I'm a crappy person" isn't a real answer since there's no fundamental crappiness to excise. In my case, there were several things I didn't think of. None of them I could have been expected to specifically prepare for beforehand, but I probably would have done better if I was less panicked. So why was I panicked? Well, my cousin might die and that's not okay for one, and two, I had never had panic level problems before - I had always managed that really well, and I wasn't far above my normal level, so it wasn't on my mind to regulate it down. I had things to do, and didn't feel like I had time to think. I didn't, really, but I didn't have time to not think and just do the first plan either. So the takeaway is to be emotionally prepared next time and to set myself a lower level of mental excitation to aim for (both actionable for me). I feel like I can let myself off the hook for not noticing a problem that had never impacted me before - I can't see how I could possibly foresee the next "like" thing without unreasonable amounts of thought.

The one game changing decision was to focus on getting him out of danger instead of wasting time trying to figure out how much time we had on the clock. Even now, there's no obvious answer. I'll shift in the direction of more effort towards understanding the situation first, and keep it on mind as a potential source of critical info even if I really can't take a few seconds to figure things out - which really seemed to be the case. The more likely way I could have gotten that right was to have less trust in him to start with - or to prepare him to be more trustworthy. Both of those get long faster than they get informative, but I've been down those paths as well. But yeah, basically take responsibility to change, view yourself neutrally to figure out why you actually did what you did, and what you can actually change so that you'll do better in the future - and then chase it down until there are no worthwhile changes to be made.

The emotional prep side I'll write about in response to Benito's reply to me - maybe tomorrow or something since I have to go have fun now :)

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-04T07:43:05.381Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The main advice I have here is to come to terms with the possibility ahead of time. Get those tears out of the way now, so that should it happen, you just see it for what it is and not what it "can't" be.

Do you mean come to terms with your loved ones dying before there's a problem, or that, after the problem starts / they die, come to terms with it as soon as possible?

Replies from: jimmy
comment by jimmy · 2013-07-06T08:22:22.315Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I meant beforehand - it's just easier real time if you don't have to deal with the "this can't happen!" impulse. Though if you find yourself in the midst of things without having it beforehand just put the emotional reaction off and be realistic. You just don't want to get overly panicked and deny the real danger level. By denying the danger level, you'll you'll rule out dangerous/costly options even if they're the right call. Ben Franklin apparently messed this one up.

Coming to terms with it isn't a happy process though, so people tend not to do it until they're hit in the face with it. Most people will find ways of not thinking about it by pretending they believe in heaven, or pretending they've accepted it being a couple common ones - sometimes pretending they don't care. It's certainly not a fun process - it's just that I think it's worth it anyway. Litany of Gendlin, and all that.

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-07-07T14:05:26.637Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How does one go about doing that? I can tell whether I have a plan to prevent a bad thing or deal with its consequences, and whether I'm repressing thoughts of bad things happening, encouraging them, or letting them happen, but I'm not sure how I know I've come to terms with something.

Replies from: jimmy
comment by jimmy · 2013-07-07T21:08:35.134Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well... It's hard to explain. I've never managed to "just tell" someone and have them pick it up - despite trying. I've always had to guide them through one so that they feel the difference between what they were doing and what I was getting at. I was mostly just pointing it out for the extra motivation to "come to terms with it" - so that if/when you do bump into the option, you know to take it.

If you think you can be the exception, here's my current hack at the problem

EDIT: My newer hack at the problem is mostly "just go read 'focusing' by Gendlin", and then maybe get back to that routine.

Also, I didn't actually create that routine - just that explanation of it. Credit goes to Joe Fobes for that. He knows his stuff when it comes to hypnosis and therapy and stuff.

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-07-08T06:18:41.492Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! You're right, I don't get it. I do have questions, though:

  • How do you recognise success? I don't think I could distinguish it from giving up or going numb.
  • What do endpoints look like? Like, can I answer "I wish he wasn't going to die" with "Because then he won't be alive and that's bad, duh" or do I need to find some way to pick that apart?
  • How does looping back work? "Why do I wish he'd sign up for cryonics? Because if he doesn't he will die. I wish he wasn't going to die." works, but I don't know what to do with "Why am I even acknowledging things? Because jimmy said I'll be more effective at preventing things if I come to terms with them".
Replies from: jimmy
comment by jimmy · 2013-07-09T23:13:31.251Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Damn! That's a disappointing thing to be right about. I admire your continued curiosity on the topic.

How do you recognise success? I don't think I could distinguish it from giving up or going numb.

For example, you're probably not crying over not having a yacht to sail around on. Like, sure, it'd be nice, but of course you don't have a yacht. It feels a lot like that. Someone that just spent all their money on one just to have it sink would be upset about it because they're framing it differently. They're "supposed to" have a yacht, and reality is violating their picture of what they "ought to" have. It's about updating your picture to have it match reality again. Once it feels like there's no way reality "could" be different, then there's no more room for the ought-is divergence to cry about. Just of course it sank - that's what yachts do when you run them into rocks. And of course I ran it into rocks, I was told it was clear. And of course I was told it was clear, Bob is incompetent, and I knew I was taking a risk when hiring him. It's just all understood down to the level where it's just not important enough to go into it. What am I gonna do? Wish that the known-incompetent bob magically got it right? How much sense does that make?

There's no loss of motivation, just loss of distractions. If you want a yacht, fix it - it's just no longer "this can't have happened", it's "it did happen. Shrug". It's all pull motivation now, not a pushing motivation - which is good because things tend to buckle under compression loading anyway.

Perhaps more important is that it just feels right. With going "numb", it's like "I can't let myself want because it hurts too much and I wish I didn't have to bury this hurt" - we can do better than that. It's kinda one of those "when you're dreaming you don't realize you're dreaming, but when you're awake you know you're awake" things. You'll know when you're there. It's not like "eh, am I doing it right? Is this how I "should" feel?". It's more like "ahhhhh... peace at last". Just nothing else you could ask for. I mean, it'd be nice if it never sank, but I'm about as tempted to yearn for that as I am to go on wishing that 2+2=3 - because neither could conceivably happen without ignoring known facts. No more gap where you can wish it went the other way. And so now you can just focus where you need to, because it's clear what you need to do and you're on your way to doing it - and it's the best outcome not ruled out by your understanding of the world.

What do endpoints look like? Like, can I answer "I wish he wasn't going to die" with "Because then he won't be alive and that's bad, duh" or do I need to find some way to pick that apart?

Nah, that doesn't sound like a good answer. The "uh.. Duh?" answer comes up when it seems implied that the asker doesn't share the "it is bad" impression, but we're after a different thing here. Regardless of whether we think it's actually bad, we're tracking down the particular reasons that have emotions attached. For example, "Because then his family won't get to have him in their lives", and "because I can't have him in my life". For me, those were both painful to acknowledge - the latter in particular.

How does looping back work? "Why do I wish he'd sign up for cryonics? Because if he doesn't he will die. I wish he wasn't going to die." works, but I don't know what to do with "Why am I even acknowledging things? Because jimmy said I'll be more effective at preventing things if I come to terms with them".

The "why?" doesn't have to be all of the following questions - it's just purposely vague so that you answer the one (or more) that feels important.

If you need to going down the "Why am I even acknowledging things?" path, that answer is fine, but not the end of the road. The next question is then "why do I even care what this 'jimmy' guy says!?"

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-04T17:28:29.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was thinking about Harry's situation-- he's grieving and under very high stakes time pressure, so there are external sources of stress as well as what he's imposing on himself.

I ended up deleting my comments about Harry in this regard. What happens when "heroic responsibility meets failure", when someone accustomed to doing the impossible finally fails when it counts, and holds himself "heroically responsible"? The whipping begins, and right on cue, we get chapters 91 and 92. In a real person, I think the beating will be savage and the person will likely break himself. But fictional Harry with a Superhuman Dark Side doesn't seem to break, he just gets harder. Someone with a mysterious dark side doesn't make for the most generalizable model of human psychology. We'll see what EY does with this.

A person who's abused may internalize the situation and come to believe that feeling better isn't safe, because feeling happy, relaxed, confidant, etc. is precisely what draws more abuse.

Very interesting point about abuse as a tool for status enforcement. (As an aside, i'd point out what a bizzarro category error it is to be playing a status game against yourself).

Yes. being happy is showing status, which attracts bullies who want to take you down a peg. The abuse gets reinforced by working to reduce status and making the person fearful and miserable, but it is likely prompted by exhibiting a higher status state that can be taken down a peg or two.

And that's a real consideration in the presence of an abuser, which likely becomes an ingrained habit of protection that persists after the abuser is gone. But it's possible to form new habits.

The solution isn't just believing that internal abuse is wrong, it's alieving that living well is safe.

For some people, very likely true. I doubt that all people whipping themselves started off being whipped by others, but I can see how abuse from others would make self abuse more likely in the way you described.

Another potential benefit to whipping yourself is hosting a pity party, which can work with a lot of people, and even has some mileage for a party of one.

More generally, any benefit to the whipping promotes more whipping. I had a different benefit going, which I called self sadism. What if instead of associating with the you that is being whipped, what happens if you associated with the you that is doing the whipping? Self sadism. A grim, cruel, sarcastic pleasure in seeing disappointments and setbacks come to fruition. I decided that was an unhelpful attitude in the long run.

From A Beautiful Mind:

I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites; like my appetite for patterns; perhaps my appetite to imagine and to dream.

I've gotten used to ignoring them and I think, as a result, they've kind of given up on me. I think that's what it's like with all our dreams and our nightmares, Martin, we've got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive.

That was my first diet of the mind - stop indulging in self sadism.

When I realized I was hearing the voice again on the other side of the whip, I eventually found a new tactic. As I said before, alienating that voice as SWIM and is not my friend is step one. Then I would tell him to shut up. La la la, I can't hear you, la la la. Often followed with some teenage vulgarity.

Wasn't I recently mentioning the power of habit with you? A habit of doing something different. I didn't even realize I had this example. I think Tony Robbins would call it a pattern interrupt. I think's it's a pretty good one and works on multiple levels. I had a pretty bad patch where I started responding to whipping this eay, and the bad patch is no more, and hasn't been around in a while. Really, I'm in a better patch than I've ever been in, because I looked at what I was doing, and found the ways I was making life harder than it had to be.

"this attacking part of myself is revolting and infuriating and shouldn't exist"

I've commented before on "it isn't fair" being a bit of semantic free nonsense. "It shouldn't exist" is another. How could a thing have a moral obligation not to exist? It does exist. But it doesn't have to be a crippling problem. Do something different when you bump into him. Do something else besides listen. Almost anything would do. "Don't listen" isn't helpful advice. Life isn't a series of "not doings". "Do something else" is helpful advice. That's something you can do.

I also hang onto the idea that beating up on myself for symptoms of depression doesn't make sense.

Yep, nothing quite like being depressed about being depressed. The power of positive feedback. Again, a mental focus issue. Seemingly intractable problems occur when our response to them makes them worse.

Much like Harry's inner Slytherin, I figured out what I was doing wrong with my mental focus in a number of ways. Listening to the whipping voice was a bad idea. If I had a "friend" like that, you'd tell me to get rid of him. That's good advice whether he's in or out of my head.

Another problem is trying to be "safe", in anticipating everything that might go wrong. Sounds like a good idea, to avoid the problems. It's good to avoid problems. But that turns life into an endless slog through problems. By the availability heuristic, if all you think about are problems, that's all that exists in the world. Further, it is just horrible decision theory to spend life working on the worst case scenarios, as you're not spending that time on much more likely better scenarios, making them even better.

Life is not so hard. The world is not so hazardous (certainly not for me with decent health and earning potential living in the US). If it seems that hard, it's because I'm doing something wrong. I don't have to figure out the right thing to do, I just have to figure out what prompts the mistake, and do something else in response to that prompt.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T14:00:15.728Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe that what reinforces the abuse is seeing that the person abused is seen to feel frightened, squelched, unhappy, etc.

feeling happy, relaxed, confidant, etc. is precisely what draws more abuse.

It seems like you're contradicting yourself there. Would you mind clarifying?

Replies from: NancyLebovitz, gjm
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T14:52:02.259Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see it as a cycle-- the abuser pushes until they see signs of hurt. They may abuse again because they feel like it, but if the abusee shows signs of feeling better, the abuser is very likely to start abusing again.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-03T15:25:29.422Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Seeing that Nancy has replied herself, I worry that I'm mansplaining here, but ...)

The idea, I think, is that it goes like this:

  1. Abuse begins.
  2. Abuser ratchets up level of abuse until victim is visibly hurt.
  3. From victim's perspective, what's happening is that (abuse ratcheting up) correlates with (not feeling unbearably wretched yet).
  4. Victim (or some bit of victim's brain) draws the conclusion that feeling more wretched sooner is the way to stop the abuse ratcheting up.

There is no contradiction because Nancy didn't say that "feeling happy ... is precisely what draws more abuse" but that "a person who's abused may ... come to believe that ... feeling happy ... is precisely what draws more abuse".

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T15:53:41.496Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No problem with your explanation-- you didn't claim that you knew what I was saying better than I did and you basically got my point right.

You've pointed at something I may need to clarify.

I believe both that abusers will attack when their victim is feeling better, and that the victim may conclude (as an alief-- all this stuff is very visceral) that it's safer to not feel better. How pervasive the alief is (just when in the presence of the abuser? when around people who resemble the abuser? when the abuser is in their life? all the time?) varies a lot.

Replies from: buybuydandavis
comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-04T17:38:43.603Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

and that the victim may conclude (as an alief-- all this stuff is very visceral) that it's safer to not feel better.

Which is in fact accurate in the presence of an abuser looking to keep you down, alert to any sign of happiness, and ready to respond with abuse in turn.

comment by palladias · 2013-07-02T15:21:45.452Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do it by reflex. But sometimes I seem to be helpful talking other people through it. Try chatting with a friend about wanting to think this way while stressed and asking them if they could talk you through it if you come to them. Role play a couple plausible scenarios where you would be unproductively upset with yourself and see if you think mopey!you would be persuaded.

Sometimes, I find it helpful to parody (in a warm, we're-sharing-a-joke way, not a cold, you're-being-an-idiot way) the idea that feeling bad could be helpful. "Let's sit here and feel bad together! Even if mopeyness falls off with the square of the distance, with two of us, we'll have a slightly larger range on our magical problem fixing field."

Obviously depends on your audience! Pick a funny image that the other person can recognize themself in and laugh fondly about. Riddikulus!

comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T02:27:00.276Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When feasible, do the things that relieve your stress.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-07-04T00:13:17.031Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Any thoughts about how to apply this sort of thinking when you're extremely stressed?


In all seriousness, its entirely rational to realise you are not in a fit state of mind to examine the issue and focus on other things until you are in a better frame of mind.

Replies from: Velorien, Eugine_Nier
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T00:23:49.359Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pursuant to which, what you do want to do is identify efficient de-stressing methods which work for you, and try to train them to be as reflexive as possible. I know it sounds obvious, but it's a valuable type of conditioning which simply doesn't occur to a lot of people.

Personally, I like meditation and biofeedback, since you can do them whenever and wherever, and use them to either tone down your stress enough to function, or try to get a full reset, depending on how much time you have.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-04T04:54:05.725Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This only works in non-time critical situations.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T19:17:41.183Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is absolutely excellent. Do you mind if I quote this in fiction I'll write in the future?

Replies from: buybuydandavis
comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-06T06:36:36.515Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please do. But if you remember, please let me know when you do, so I can take a look.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T02:34:39.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My issue is that I don't have a good procedure in place for constructive blame: by default, when I blame myself for something mostly what happens is that I rehearse to myself what a terrible person I am without trying to figure out what I could do differently in the future (and then actually making sure that that happens).

Replies from: palladias, NancyLebovitz, maia, loserthree, CronoDAS, wwa, Decius
comment by palladias · 2013-07-02T02:59:56.762Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, being a stoic for such a long time means my reflex is usually, "What is useful here?" And when I run that check on kvetching, it doesn't make the cut. Sometimes I pretend to feel guiltier, since most people read practicality as callousness, but internally, I focus on, "What different action should I take or new data should I look for?"

ETA: Actually, the other check that helps me is asking: "Is there a causal link between my feeling bad and my being helpful?" Usually, no, or if there is, it does the opposite of what I'd like!

Replies from: buybuydandavis
comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-02T08:09:57.342Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"What different action should I take or new data should I look for?"

That's the productive question. Blaming yourself is unproductive.

Replies from: palladias
comment by palladias · 2013-07-02T15:13:16.856Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's blame in the sense of responsibility, not in the sense of just feeling bad. I tend to frame things in terms of heroic responsibility, but a bit more regatively -- in terms of negligence. Every day I go out and sin against people, by commission or omission (or, in a more secular phrasing: every day I go out and metaphorically punch a few people in the face, in my thoughts and in my deeds, in what I have done, and what I have failed to do).

The reason I use the word 'blame' is because the harm I inflict on others is real and it's not alright. The fact that I haven't figured out how to be less negligent, more empathetic, etc does not magically mitigate their hurt. I use the word blame because working out right actions is not an abstract question that I plan to apply in the future, it's something I'm doing fumblingly enough to hurt people now, so I'd better improve right quick.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-02T12:50:05.677Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Current theory: rehearsing to yourself or to other people what a terrible person you are is a natural, self-protective response to what seems like an impossible demand. Sometimes the demand actually is impossible, sometimes the demand is understood correctly and falsely believed to be impossible, and sometimes the demand is defensively interpreted as impossible because the reasonable part is felt to be not worth doing but it doesn't feel safe to just refuse it.

I think this analysis is helping me to break the cycle of rumination about being a terrible person because it lowers the intensity. It's much better than "you shouldn't think you're a terrible person"-- that just becomes another failure.

Replies from: tondwalkar
comment by tondwalkar · 2013-07-04T03:36:59.422Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

a natural, self-protective response to what seems like an impossible demand. Sometimes the demand actually is impossible, sometimes the demand is understood correctly and falsely believed to be impossible, and sometimes the demand is defensively interpreted as impossible because the reasonable part is felt to be not worth doing but it doesn't feel safe to just refuse it.

I'm not sure I follow. What demand?

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T04:11:54.031Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This can be a response to any demand which is felt to be impossible.

Here's an example which is going to be a little vague because there's some privacy I want to maintain, but recently I demanded that someone not repeat the huge social mistake he'd just made. He started talking about what an awful person he was.

In my opinion, what was going on was that he wasn't sure what the boundaries that he needed to not cross were, and wasn't sure he could regulate his behavior, so he was trying to avoid further punishment by saying he was helpless and suffering enough already.

Since then, he's apologized in a way which I think means he understands the issues and will do better.

Replies from: tondwalkar
comment by tondwalkar · 2013-07-04T04:30:31.198Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my opinion, what was going on was that he wasn't sure what the boundaries that he needed to not cross were, and wasn't sure he could regulate his behavior, so he was trying to avoid further punishment by saying he was helpless and suffering enough already.

This is very enlightening. I'm going to probe this by modulating my response to it, and see what I find. Thanks; one karma point feels insufficent.

I think a post on this (?and related) would be much apprecaited if you and/or someone with similar experience could put one together.

Since then, he's apologized in a way which I think means he understands the issues and will do better.

I fear you lost me agian. What is this evidence for?

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T04:35:52.219Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I may write something up when I'm more sure that I'm right and have resolved more of my difficulties. At this point, I've toned down a lot of the self-hatred, but there's an underlying difficulty with doing much of anything that's still a serious problem for me.

That last sentence was mostly included because I imagined people wanting to know what happened next. However, it's also evidence that what I was asking of him wasn't as impossible as he initially thought it was.

comment by maia · 2013-07-02T04:19:53.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am sometimes successful at this; when I am, the script usually goes something like, "What am I worried/upset about? What should I have done differently? What can I do to prepare for this next time?" And then I actually talk myself through the things I could have done differently and whether they would have been successful, and if I hit upon something that would have worked, I try to identify a heuristic or plan that would help me do better in situations like these in the future. And do something to implement it immediately, if possible, or at least burn in into my head so I won't forget.

And if I don't hit upon anything I could have done that I think would have been a good idea, I just say to myself, well, that was just a bad situation. (Like if I happened to do badly at something because of luck, even though statistically, I'm pretty sure what I did was a good idea, even having updated on the evidence of it not going well once.)

This usually helps because if I keep worrying, I just ask myself, "is this a different concern I need to address, or is it the same just feeling-bad as before?" And then if it's a different concern, I do the same thing, trying to identify if this worry is actually a signal I need to think harder about the problem.

And if I really, truly decide, on reflection, that the worry isn't a useful signal, I find that really helps in getting it to go away. Because that way my worrying side feels vindicated, because the concerns have really been addressed; I'm not just forcing them out of my brain because they are worries and worries are bad, but because they are worries with no basis in reality. Once I actually feel confident of that, then I'm not worried anymore.

The trickier part, sometimes, is remembering to do this. I'm less sure about how to do that.

comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T03:17:44.253Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to have this problem a lot more than I do now.

It's possible the change is just the result of the aging chemistry of my body, but I like to think that the thing that turned it around was literally telling myself, "I want to be the kind of person who is cool with having done that." I had to accept the thing that had happened and had to become the kind of person that would accept it.

Or maybe I just had to age. It's possible that's why I don't do a lot of the things I used to find myself unable to stop doing.

comment by CronoDAS · 2013-07-02T02:50:44.019Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Me too.

comment by wwa · 2013-07-02T16:27:16.717Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The answer is already in the story:

"I'm trying to think if there's anything I should be doing right now,"

Naturally Harry thinks of what he could have done differently and/or what he can do better in the future, but his main conscious focus is "here and now". No past, no future, no daydreaming. Here and now. I think this is an excellent advice.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T02:07:04.241Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"I'm trying to think if there's anything I should be doing right now," said Harry Potter. "It's hard, though. My mind keeps on imagining ways the past could have gone differently if I'd thought faster, and I can't rule out that there might be a key insight in there somewhere."

I'd misremembered this-- I thought he'd been trying to get his mind off his possible mistakes, but couldn't, and I get the impression that the people in this part of the discussion didn't think he'd even been trying to get his mind off possible mistakes.

Actually, he wasn't sure where the answer lies, so thinking about his past mistakes might actually offer a useful clue, though I wonder whether his mind is drawn to the topic more than it should be.

It's also possible that this discussion is using HPMOR as springboard to talk about the problem of attending too much to past mistakes rather than trying to find solutions.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:10:13.996Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you emotionally believe that only terrible people allow bad things to happen?

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T22:13:03.712Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Allow" is a strange word; when I'm rehearsing to myself what a terrible person I am it's more like "I caused this bad thing to happen because of my terribleness."

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T05:54:02.665Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When you feel that way, do you feel that terribleness in you is an inherent unchangeable state, like 'vanquishes dark lords', which causes bad things to happen around you?

Meta: I'm not trying to do anything related to blame; I'm trying to understand something odd and interesting, with a likely side effect of being able to provide useful advice.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-03T06:06:44.809Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is the worry, yes.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T06:30:40.226Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you project that onto outside influences? I've got qualms about suggesting how to blame other people, but can you replace "I am a terrible person" with "I have bad luck"?

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-03T08:52:55.865Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the case I have in mind, attempting to do so would provide more evidence that I am a terrible person.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T22:14:57.230Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So then, NOT attempting to do so must be evidence that you aren't a terrible person? Would it help to consider all of the things that you could have done worse?

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-04T00:15:17.841Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not particularly.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T17:27:36.785Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does it feel wrong to anyone else that he's basically complaining to a woman old enough to be his grandmother about how immature she is? This despite the fact that she's proven herself repeatedly to be willing to listen to good advice, and has pulled his bacon out of the fire by quick-witted crisis management at least once?

Replies from: drethelin, Viliam_Bur, linkhyrule5, Decius
comment by drethelin · 2013-07-02T19:59:28.756Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He's an angry 11 year old, and this isn't the first time he's yelled at her.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T03:26:18.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course. This isn't surprising behaviour, but it is behaviour that makes me think less of Harry. (That said, it's one of his few traits that makes me actually think he's eleven, so perhaps I should be grateful)

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-07-03T10:54:52.641Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He seems bad at using people. And that is a weakness, compared with his opponent.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T19:47:47.145Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maturity and competence are not the same thing.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T03:20:42.632Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Immaturity may not be precisely correct, but he's definitely not accusing her of incompetence. Irresponsibility, perhaps. He's not saying that she tried and failed, he's saying that she didn't try. He's saying that she's just blindly playing a role, instead of actually acting responsibly, and that it's so hard-wired into her that it's not even worth him trying to correct it. Hard-wired irresponsibility is close enough to immaturity that it's a reasonable approximation.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:07:37.599Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

She's handled a couple of crises well, but she didn't gain very much respect for not scolding Harry for taking more money out of his vault than she thought he needed.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-03T01:15:31.680Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this is related to Harry's problem, highlighted in the three armies arc, with considering other people as potential sources of ideas.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T15:10:47.088Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's helps to remove blame and responsbility from the equation when you try to get people to do fault analysis.

When trying someone to lead through a learning experience it's good to produce an enviroment where the person doesn't feel judged.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T19:15:51.120Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't want to get them to self-flagellate, but to look for what leverage they have and not worry as much about what it totally outside of their control.

Someone please tell Shinji Ikari about this radical notion.

Replies from: loserthree, CronoDAS
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T02:33:54.277Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't want to get them to self-flagellate, but to look for what leverage they have and not worry as much about what it totally outside of their control.

Someone please tell Shinji Ikari about this radical notion.

Vg jnf arprffnel sbe gur Puvyqera gb or qlfshapgvbany. Gur yrff gurl jrer noyr gb pbaarpg jvgu bgure crbcyr gur zber gurl jrer qevira gb pbaarpg jvgu gurve Rinf. Hagvy gur raq, nyzbfg rirelguvat sbyybjrq gur Fpranevb.

Replies from: Ritalin, Ritalin
comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-04T07:04:12.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm talking about Rebuilt, especially 3.0. Kaworu is kind of like a kid Dumbledore; nice, mysterious, facetious, and completely sucks at consoling or giving advice.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-04T06:09:38.915Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sorry, are you from Gargantia or Ente Isla? I can't understand a word.

Replies from: sketerpot
comment by sketerpot · 2013-07-04T06:18:19.130Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That post consisted of (fairly minor) Evangelion spoilers, encoded with rot13 for the benefit of people who haven't seen it yet.

(For completeness' sake: the language of Ente Isla is English with a bunch of letter substitution, and the language that Ledo speaks in Gargantia is a letter-substituted offshoot of German. They're similar to rot13, but much more pronounceable, since vowels map to vowels and consonants to consonants. More info here.)

comment by CronoDAS · 2013-07-02T20:28:17.849Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Someone did, but not until the last episode of the TV series.

And Shinji's personal and emotional life was screwed up, but NERV did indeed manage to stop every invading alien Angel; the threat that did them in was of a far different nature.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2013-07-02T06:55:14.092Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

BTW, the psychological technique you seem to be referring to from Stoicism is usually called the "dichotomy of control." And yes, it appears to be quite Googleable.

comment by lukeprog · 2013-07-02T02:48:42.506Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think somewhere on LW there's a rationality quote to this effect, possibly by Geoff Anders. But I can't find it at the moment.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T02:55:54.009Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This one?

Things that are your fault are good because they can be fixed. If they're someone else's fault, you have to fix them, and that's much harder.

Replies from: lukeprog
comment by lukeprog · 2013-07-02T03:00:41.454Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by MarkusRamikin · 2013-07-02T09:39:48.696Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you guys agree that Harry is being unfair to Minerva regarding his Time-Turner? "But you thought it was your role to shut me down and get in my way."

At the time she had it locked, she was right: he'd been irresponsible with it and needed to stop abusing his new toy every time a minor problem arose, and there's not a hint that even Harry disagreed with that. You can't refrain from such corrective actions on the remote possiblity that limiting your student's options will do harm. Not-limiting an irresponsible student's options in the relevant way can also lead to harm.

Replies from: fezziwig, drethelin, Velorien, Decius
comment by fezziwig · 2013-07-02T17:34:23.758Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, and it's part of a pattern of behavior. HJPEV consistently finds (seeks out?) uncharitable explanations for other peoples' behavior, especially when he's under stress. It's probably the most 11-year-old-like thing about him.

comment by drethelin · 2013-07-02T17:14:25.247Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this is actually Harry's fault: He should've requested his time turner be unlocked as soon as he could plausibly argue that REALLY IMPORTANT things were happening around and to him. When Mcgonnigall first locked it, he was doing more harm than good with it.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T12:00:48.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It depends on what other corrective options she had. She might, for example, have password-protected it as a form of probation, and told him the password. She could then check every couple of weeks/months to make sure he hadn't used it, while still leaving him the option in case of emergency. Of course, she probably wouldn't have believed him able to not give in to the temptation, and it's hard to say whether she would have been right at that exact moment in time.

Replies from: Skeeve, Alsadius
comment by Skeeve · 2013-07-02T15:30:52.782Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course, she probably wouldn't have believed him able to not give in to the temptation, and it's hard to say whether she would have been right at that exact moment in time.

Considering that she was reacting to the signs of time-turner addiction, a phenomena that had been observed in others before, I think it was a safe assumption for McGonagall to make.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T17:47:47.361Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But the problem is, he's supposed to use it twice a day.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T22:02:03.212Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe a password on the third use? We're getting into speculation over what contingency spells can and can't do now, which is unhelpful, but I do believe there must have been some solutions available other than the one used, and there is no indication that they were considered.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T03:24:24.465Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At some point, these people have a school to run. They can't spend all day thinking of clever stratagems and obscure contingency plans.

Replies from: somervta, Velorien
comment by somervta · 2013-07-04T03:38:02.294Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't this exactly what they spend quite a bit of time doing?

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-04T03:53:50.244Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quite a bit, yes. That's most of why I made the above comment. If they'd spent ten seconds and moved on, I'd slam them for underpreparedness too. But there are limits on how much time they can spend, and they don't seem to have been particularly lax or dismissive. Sure, it's possible that something else could have been considered, but you're deep into the realm of diminishing returns.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T13:08:10.048Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which would be fair, but we are dealing with Harry Potter, chaos magnet extraordinaire and number one target of the Dark Lord believed to be somewhere out there, as well as of any Death Eaters seeking vengeance. There are few circumstances in which he does not need to be considered as a special case, and I think McGonagall knew that by this point.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T17:01:08.679Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which they've basically handled by giving the most imaginative one in the group(Harry himself) an unlimited supply of magical gadgets to defend himself and his friends as well as unlimited access to their war councils. I can think of worse strategies.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T17:37:52.926Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm no longer sure how this relates to my original point, which was that McGonagall's behaviour at the time of locking the Time-Turner was unreasonable given that other, less restrictive, options were probably available. At that time, IIRC, Harry had been given no other special gadgets except the Cloak, and was still in the process of fighting tooth and claw to be included in decision-making at all, rather than being treated as a passive, blissfully ignorant object of protection. (and I'm not sure what unlimited supply of magical gadgets you're referring to even with regard to the present)

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T18:13:41.671Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The trinkets line referred primarily to

In the event that Mr. Longbottom's guardian was so negligent as to keep him in Hogwarts, Mr. Potter wanted him to have a Time-Turner, an invisibility cloak, a broomstick, and a pouch in which to carry them; also a toe-ring with an emergency portkey to a safe location, in case someone kidnaps Mr. Longbottom and takes him outside Hogwarts's wards. I told Mr. Potter that I did not think the Ministry would consent to such use of our Time-Turners, and he said that we should not ask. I expect he will want Miss Granger to receive the same, if she stays. And for himself Mr. Potter wants a three-person broomstick to carry in his pouch." She wasn't awed by the list of precautions. Impressed with the cleverness, but not awed; she was a Transfiguration Mistress, after all. But it still sent shivers of disquiet through her, that Harry Potter now thought Hogwarts as dangerous as spell research.

as well as the fact that she unlocked his Time-Turner basically for the asking.

At the time she locked it this was not the case, granted. But at the time she locked it Harry was abusing it wildly, and there was no obvious danger. Stopping him was the main priority, and the shell did that quite effectively.

Replies from: Velorien, ikrase
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T18:32:36.840Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see. I hadn't made the association between Harry asking for those things and him actually getting them, since generally throughout the story his requests for sensible safety measures end up ignored by the authorities.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T01:15:17.442Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Those are far from unlimited. (except for the invisibility cloak). What about Muggle artifacts, though?

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-04T03:41:46.729Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has he asked for any? And if Harry's imagination has not discovered the limits yet, I think "unlimited" is a fair approximation.

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T03:49:09.706Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He bought a bunch of stuff at the hardware store. But nothing beyond that. One can imagine giving them Muggle comms and possibly weapons.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-04T04:01:46.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Magic in the Potterverse(as is most modern fantasy settings) is incompatible with modern technology. See http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Electricity

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T04:06:58.172Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Huh. On the other hand, Harry was able to use his car battery to waste Draco's shield bubble. It could be only sufficiently complicated stuff, rather than just a brute current.

Might be useful if they get kidnapped out of Hogwarts though, like the portkeys.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T20:58:29.573Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I still don't believe it's been explained why Harry didn't transmutate a one-crystal wide ring through the lock into paper. Is that part of what he blames himself for not thinking of?

Replies from: drethelin
comment by drethelin · 2013-07-02T22:51:55.576Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the lock isn't just physical, it's magical.

Replies from: Decius, ikrase
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T05:47:34.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But is was bypassed, allegedly by holding the locked case in place and spinning the time-turner within it.

It would be fine if it were tried and failed, but I think it's a better narrative if the specific actions the enemy took to prevent the time-turner from being effective were noted, or at least had some direct effect on the attempt.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-03T04:25:37.956Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah. We've seen him be unable to break magical locks with transfig.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T05:44:45.507Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Where? We've seen magical locks resist all types of charms except the unlocking charm, but I don't recall magical locks being attacked by !Harry's transmutation powers.

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-03T18:05:09.709Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He tried to transmute the lock and hinges of the door Draco locked him in.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T22:12:23.563Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

With ordinary transmutation, not partial; evidence for locking spells preventing ordinary transfiguration. That partial transfiguration was considered impossible at the time the locking spells were developed is evidence that it can bypass them.

It would also be odd and useful if the locking spell allowed the casing to survive the kind of physical force that could be provided by a transmuted vise. Harry should know enough about mechanics and materials to create something which can produce both the force and precision needed to destroy the casing without harming the time-turner.

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T00:56:15.703Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to Quirrel, Draco's padlocked-glove-Colloportus trick would withstand 'lesser material forces', implying that it had, at the least, limited tensile strength. (Infinite hardness would be less wierd.)

I don't see why partial transfig should be any easier to break locking spells with.

If Transfiguration can create prestressed objects, (and Partial Transfig almost certainly can) it should be possible to make some very powerful one-shot equipment without liquids or gases. (this includes the transfiguration grenade I mentioned elsewhere.)

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T15:05:32.517Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This has only just occurred to me, but if the sole threat to the students was (as far as everyone knew) an ordinary troll, and it was daylight outside, and they were already in the Great Hall, then why didn't the professors just lead the students out of Hogwarts and into the sunny open before assuming defensive formation? It would also have the advantage of giving a group of casters long range on a melee attacker.

Replies from: Alicorn, Baughn, ChristianKl, Intrism
comment by Alicorn · 2013-07-02T15:35:42.537Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For that matter, I wonder if the sky illusion on the Great Hall ceiling counts? It reflects real weather.

Replies from: Velorien, linkhyrule5
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T01:46:05.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interestingly, the Potterverse is high on mind-affecting spells, but very low on illusions. Assuming illusions are not more difficult to cast than other spells, if artificial daylight holds all the magical properties of normal daylight, vampires and trolls should be virtually (or actually) extinct, since every wizard irrespective of combat training would need only create the illusion of a miniature sun (and presumably close their eyes or look away) to instantly obliterate/incapacitate any such creatures in a fairly large area.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-03T01:15:52.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's probably something magical about direct sunlight.

comment by Baughn · 2013-07-02T16:03:51.734Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Considering McGonagall's first impulse was sending them back to their dormitories, I believe they just didn't think it through.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T21:26:02.264Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This assumes that the troll is the only threat. That's not a safe assumption to make.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T21:58:51.874Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But it is the assumption everyone appears to have made, and they failed to seize upon the obvious solution to the problem they'd set themselves.

Frankly, it seems like the PCs are the only people in the Potterverse to consider that a highly improbable disaster might indicate the presence of a hostile intelligence acting against them.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T22:34:53.624Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, they specifically not made that assumption.

Of course, Minerva thought, the third-floor corridor - this could be a distraction -


Some students were speculating in whispers about what the Defense Professor could possibly be trying to achieve by smuggling in a troll, and whether he was angry that Professor McGonagall had caught on to his attempted distraction, and what it was a distraction from.

Replies from: Intrism, Velorien
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T23:37:14.803Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm actually not sure why they assumed the troll would be a distraction. The 3rd floor corridor is important, but IIRC it's not kept continuously guarded; the troll fiasco won't draw any guards away from their posts. Perhaps the thinking is that the troll might cause the professors to ignore the corridor wards, but I doubt they would be quite that stupid. And, of course, roving bands of professors searching for the troll on high security alert couldn't possibly be good for intruders, even if they're not specifically looking for them. Certainly, attempting a troll "distraction" seems far inferior to drugging Filch and sneaking in at 3AM.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T22:38:31.106Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


That said, an attack on the third-floor corridor would not be a threat to the students. There was no notion expressed that someone would be after the students themselves - the scenario in which a retreat to the outside could be dangerous.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T23:00:08.534Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A retreat by the students to the outside that's babysitted by the professors would prevent the professors from going to the third-floor corridor to defend it.

I think the core error that they made, was not sending Patronuses out to help. McGonnegal should have messaged Dumbledore.

Also there's supposedly the Order of the Phoenix to fight. McGonnegal should have messaged Amelia Bones. Amelia Bones would have time traveled back and arrived into Hogwarts with her crew at directly the right moment to kill the troll.

Michelle Morgan was put on the spot and her primary objective was preventing that the students had to walk around. She's excused for not thinking about getting help from the outside. McGonnegal isn't.

Even McGonnegal herself could without any problem time travel back via Harry time turner and then send the message to Dumbledore and Amelie Bones 6 hours in the past. That way neither Dumbledore nor Amelie Bones would have to use up their own time turner and could use it later that day against another attack.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T04:44:38.798Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Bones is the head of the DMLE. Why would anyone need to call her in on a stray troll? If Hogwarts staff can't handle that, they're not worthy of their titles.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-03T09:55:31.239Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The fact that there a troll in Hogwarts is a sign that Hogwarts is under attack by someone who thinks that he has something to gain from smuggling a troll into hogwarts.

If you notice that someone breaks into your house, you call the police. It's the right thing to do even if you sit with a bunch of friends and you have a bunch of riffles at home because you are an American who loves the second Amendment. The population of magical Britian is very small so Bones basically heads the local police department.

McGonnegal thinks that it's plausible that the troll is a distraction to an attack on the third corridor where something imported get's stored.

There's fog of war.

Even in the case where Amelie Bones has some other fight to fight at the same time, McGonnegal traveling 6 hours back and time and giving more information to Amelie Bones, helps Amelie Bones to understand that multiple targets in magicial Britian are under attack at the same time.

If Hogwarts staff can't handle that, they're not worthy of their titles.

Evidently they can't handle it and as a result one student died. Even if they were 95% certain that they could handle the troll on their own, it would still be prudent to go back in time and place a call for help.

Don't forget that there are people outside of the Great Hall like the Librarian.

Replies from: Desrtopa, Alsadius
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-03T14:17:09.197Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The population of magical Britian is very small so Bones basically heads the local police department.

I'm not sure this is quite right. The population of Magican Britain may be roughly on the level of being served by a "local police department," but I get the impression that they have to devote a greater proportion of their government's resources to law enforcement than muggles would, because wizards are so much harder to police. Every wizard is much better equipped to create public disorder than a muggle would be.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-03T16:23:33.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wizards in general are hard to police, but if the police has turn turners and a lot of the criminals don't have them law enforcement get's easier.

In any case an attack on the school to which the children of everyone go is a serious business and nobody would complain if the ministry does take great care that all children in school are safe.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T16:58:51.565Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you believe this is a distraction, why on earth would you use your ace in the hole dealing with it? Wait to see what it's distracting you from, and then start burning resources. Unless you want Bones to be out of time-turns when she finds out that she needs to go back an extra ten minutes.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-03T17:52:14.964Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A troll entered hogwarts.

In general the troll runs faster than any human. It was luck that Argus Filch is alive to tell the people in the Great Hall about the troll.

This is not to be expected by the person who smuggled the troll into Hogwart. It would be likely that the first contact of the troll with a human would be with a student and the student would be dead.

Hogwarts wards don't go off on troll attacks so the troll might already have killed someone but if time turned people where around they could prevent that student kill.

The politics of a student getting killed after the affair is Draco is complicated.

Wait to see what it's distracting you from, and then start burning resources.

You can't undo things that are already happened with time turners. You also need to be in a position where you can communicate.

Unless you want Bones to be out of time-turns when she finds out that she needs to go back an extra ten minutes.

Then send a patronous to Bones in the now to ask whether it's safe to send her information 6 hours into the past.

In general the heuristic I advocate is when under attack is to communicate the information to everyone who could use it to help defend you.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T16:18:20.589Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That solution has the disadvantage of requiring the students to move through the halls, which is extremely hazardous. The Great Hall has its own risks, but the seventh year armies should be sufficient to secure it.

Replies from: Velorien, Alsadius
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T16:29:06.647Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to the Harry Potter wiki, the Great Hall is located off the Entrance Hall, which suggests that leaving the castle from it should be fairly trivial.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T17:51:52.516Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The professors are mostly there, which is a sufficiently powerful bundle of combat magic to handle a troll. If you don't need to split them into four groups, then there's plenty of leftover firepower.

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-08T22:34:19.786Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's how I would have saved Hermione if I were Harry.

In an accessible but seldom visited hallway of Hogwarts, a rail-way sign reads 6PM to 5PM Express.

At 5:00, a boy materializes under the sign. He is wearing a rail-way conductor's hat. He is holding a trunk. His name is Harry Potter.

Conductor Harry puts down the trunk. He opens the lid. Inside his Trunk of Holding are wooden seats numbered 1 through 1000. All seats appear to be empty.

Conductor Harry yells "Arriving at 5PM! Please add one tally to your forearm now".

Silently, hundreds of people draw a tally mark on their arms.

Conductor Harry steps away from the trunk and the hundreds invisible passengers of the 6PM to 5PM Express disembark.

At 5:10, Conductor Harry closes the trunk lid. He stashes the trunk [EDIT] and Time-Turner in the Great Hall.

At 5:12, Conductor Harry burns his conductor hat. He draws one tally mark on his previously blank arm, and puts on his invisibility cloak. He sighs. He has a long day ahead of him.


At 5:30 in the Astronomy Tower, a smelly and disheveled Harry Potter pulls off his invisibility cloak. He is covered with hundreds of tally marks, and looks like he hasn't slept in days. He yells "Screw this, I'm done!", collapses on the floor, and falls asleep.


At 5:40, the original Harry goes to his room. He has done no time traveling today, and has no tally marks on his arm.

Original Harry locates his trunk and his conductor's hat.

At 5:45, Original Harry brings his trunk and hat to the hallway with a 6PM to 5PM Express sign.

At 5:50, Original Harry puts on his conductor's hat. Harry -- now Conductor Harry -- opens the trunk, steps aside, and yells "All aboard the 6PM to 5PM Express!. Please go to your assigned seat."

Hundreds of invisible Harrys silently climb into the trunk. Each Harry counts the tallies on his arm and sits in the corresponding seat.

At 5:59, conductor Harry yells "Last Call for the 6PM to 5PM Express!"

At 6:00, conductor Harry closes his trunk. He picks up his trunk, and flips his time-turner.

Using this method, Harry can get as much time as he wants to study obliviation, transfigure large objects, or anything else, all with a single twist of his time turner. That's more than enough time to learn to obliviate yourself (and maybe the Weasley) and fake Hermione's death.

Replies from: gjm, Kindly, EternalStargazer, shraiyance, shraiyance
comment by gjm · 2013-07-09T14:55:59.947Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Somewhat-credible conjecture: It is not possible for one Time-Turner to transport another through time. So when conductor Harry, carrying his trunk supposedly full of passenger Harries (Harrys?), flips his Time-Turner ... something bad happens. Maybe the others get left behind somehow, or the Time-Turner just doesn't work, or the universe ends, or something. Consequence: at least in any consistent branch of the universe, Harry fails to get his army of copies.

Replies from: Kindly, solipsist
comment by Kindly · 2013-07-09T15:03:03.289Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can't this be solved by having conductor Harry pass his Time-Turner to smelly Harry around 5:30 PM? Then none of the in-between Potters actually have Time-Turners.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2013-07-09T15:15:56.171Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think so; he needs to use it himself at 6pm to transport everyone back, and smelly Harry mustn't go back himself. [EDITED to add: oops, I'm a twit; it looks like this works. So if this hack isn't viable in the MoRverse, it must be for some other reason, perhaps one of the ones below.]

My brain's fuzzy enough that I'm not confident there isn't some patch along those lines, though; if it turns out that there is, an alternative (which I can't rule out being already refuted by something in canon or HPMOR that I've forgotten) would be that a Time-Turner can transport at most one living person.

[EDITED to add: Actually there's an obviously better one, which is pretty clearly canonical and MoRonical (er, maybe that's not the best term): the 6-hour restriction is not per Time-Turner but per person. If that's "no more than 6 hours of time travel in any subjective 24 hours" rather than, or in addition to, "no further back than 6 hours", then as soon as Harry has a sixth-generation copy in his trunk, something bad happens, hence there is no consistent universe in which he gets a time-travelling army of size bigger than that.]

Of course another possibility is that (in the MoRverse and/or the Rowlingverse) this sort of hack is very much possible, but it seems like the sort of thing that would have been exploited to hell and back by ingenious folks like Voldemort and Dumbledore, so you probably get a more coherent fictional universe if there's some simple principle that prevents it.

Replies from: Kindly
comment by Kindly · 2013-07-09T15:32:41.878Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The loop works because the conductor Harry that uses the Time-Turner at 6 PM is a younger version of the conductor Harry at 5 PM. Conductor Harry at 5:30 PM is going to go sit in the trunk at 6 PM, so he has no further need of the Time-Turner.

I think the most elegant formulation of a restriction that would prevent this (as well as all the things explicitly prevented in HPMoR) is that no path along which information or matter travels can stretch more than 30 hours per 24 hours.

Replies from: solipsist
comment by solipsist · 2013-07-09T15:42:34.780Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, you could put a 6-hour stretched pebble in someone's pocket, and they wouldn't be able to use a Time-Turner?

Replies from: Kindly
comment by Kindly · 2013-07-09T16:40:40.470Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd say yes (until the 24 hours run out and the pebble stops being time-stretched).

Similarly, if you go back 6 hours in time and, say, cast a spell that creates fireworks visible from a large distance, you've just prevented everyone within that radius from using a Time-Turner.

Finally, I'm mostly sure that the incredibly-small-scale changes caused by simply going back in time 6 hours propagate quickly enough that only one person on Earth can use a Time-Turner on any given day.

So yeah, there's a bit of a problem here. Presumably this is one of those "it works how Merlin would have expected it to work" things.

Replies from: shraiyance
comment by shraiyance · 2013-07-15T19:25:32.710Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by solipsist · 2013-07-09T15:12:51.429Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Edited for objection: Harry stashes the Time-turner in the Great Hall (for expository reasons).

comment by Kindly · 2013-07-09T15:26:22.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Whether this method works or not is up to the GM; the as-stated rule is that "information cannot go back more than six hours in time, using any combination of Time-Turners", which would allow this, but it's possible that anything which results in someone having more than 30 hours to a day is also bad. Granted, the hypothesis that 6 hours is the universe simulator's buffer size would suggest that this works.

It's a bit scary that if this scheme fails, there's no clean way for it to fail. In the very simplest case -- you go back in time 6 hours and then try to go back in time 1 more hour -- presumably the Time-Turner just doesn't work and nothing happens. Here, that outcome is not self-consistent: there's only one spin of the Time-Turner, and if it fails then there are no multiple Harry Potters so there is no reason for it to fail.

So if this scheme goes against the Time-Turner constraints, the only consistent outcome is that something unspecified happens to one of the first 6 Harry Potters to prevent them from getting back into the trunk. And summoning unspecified obstacles by the power of Time-Turner consistency seems like a really bad idea.

To fix this, we could have each Harry Potter toss a 100-sided die and leave the loop on a 1 being rolled; then run this algorithm several times. It's likely that spontaneous catastrophic failure has a probability much less than 1%, so the most likely consistent loop assuming this scheme doesn't work is one in which Harry rolls a 1 early on, which is very unlikely to happen assuming this scheme does work. So if several trials of this algorithm consistently keep ending after 1-6 repetitions, then it's almost certain that the universe doesn't like it.

comment by EternalStargazer · 2013-07-10T04:50:33.642Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, he can get as much time as he wants in 40 minute intervals with no breaks in between. Smelly Harry must have been awake at least 1 hour per mark on his arm, unless he has at some point mastered Polyphasic sleep (which is completely contrary to his aberrant sleep cycles as mentioned previously) he is going to be significantly diminished in terms of mental acuity after a mere 24 or so cycles. He would need to spend a few cycles eating. After subjective days without sleep he should be moving into hallucination territory, barring some kind of magical aid. His "useful time" is only between 5:10-5:50 on each cycle, at other times he will be boarding or leaving the express.

It's a moderately good hack, but it isn't of infinite versatility, barring the addition of a bit more cheating to get around the sleep/food problems.

Replies from: solipsist
comment by solipsist · 2013-07-10T17:14:35.538Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a moderately good hack, but it isn't of infinite versatility, barring the addition of a bit more cheating to get around the sleep/food problems.

I think we can let Harry sleep. For example

Instead of drawing a tally mark on his arm, Harry punches a hole in a ticket.

Original Harry doesn't set up chairs in seats 11-20. Instead, he puts a rolling hospital stretcher where chair 11 would go, and leaves 9 empty spots where chairs 12-20 would go. The rolling stretcher has pillows, an empty sleeping bag, and a slot into which you can place a ticket.

When Original Harry moves the trunk to the hallway, he finds 9 stretchers lined up against the wall. Every stretcher has a ticket, and the tickets have 12, 13, 14... 20 hole punches. The stretcher are heavy, like a person is sleeping inside the sleeping bag. Original Harry moves these 9 stretchers into the 9 empty spots he blocked out earlier.

Original Harry puts on his conductors hat and waits for passengers. One of the passengers is Tired Harry, whose ticket has 11 punches. Tired Harry places his ticket into the slot on empty stretcher, climbs into the empty sleeping bag, and goes to sleep. Now all 10 stretchers have ticketed Sleeping Harrys.

On arrival at 5:00, Conductor Harry adds a punch to the ticket of all 10 stretchers. He removes the 10 stretchers from the trunk, and lines the first 9 up against the wall. The last stretcher, with 21 holes punched in its ticket, Conductor Harry stashes in the Great Hall.

At 5:30ish, in the Great Hall, a newly Refreshed Harry wakes up. He gets out of his sleeping bag, picks up his ticket, and continues the day.

comment by shraiyance · 2013-07-15T19:32:24.131Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The method above might not work if we maintain a fixed past.

You see it can be compared to another similar situation.

Harry an hour (6 to 5 pm) in past and finds 4 time tuners with 4, 3, 2, 1 hours left.

Now harry has used all the five time tuners (but not all of their remaining hours) , done his work in the past and the time move to 5 again. here harry will have to leave 4 time tuners for another future harry to pick up. If we are preserving the past then the four time tuners should have the time left that the original time tuners had i.e.. 4, 3, 2, 1.

So you see even when harry uses these 4 extra time tuner he still will be unable to use it them to get back more than 6 hours in past.

Now this can be scaled to 1000 time tuners or 1000 harries with time tuners it would make no difference in the amount of time that can be transversed in past by using time tuner.

Summary :- Even if you find "n" more time turners once you go in the past, you would not be able to use them to go more then 6 hours in past because to preserve past you will have to leave "n" time tuners (after their use), thus have to leave as much time in them as you potentially gained earlier.

Sorry for grammar, spelling mistake, complicated language etc. I am bad at languages.

comment by shraiyance · 2013-07-15T19:27:43.813Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The method above might not work if we maintain a fixed past.

You see it can be compared to another similar situation.

Harry an hour (6 to 5 pm) in past and finds there 4 time tuners with 4, 3, 2, 1 hours left.

Now harry has used all the five time tuners (but not all of their remaining hours) , done his work in the past and the time move to 5 again. here harry will have to leave 4 time tuners for another future harry to pick up. If we are preserving the past then the four time tuners should have the time left that the original time tuners had i.e.. 4, 3, 2, 1.

So you see even when harry uses these 4 extra time tuner he still will be unable to use it them to get back more than 6 hours in past.

Now this can be scaled to 1000 time tuners or 1000 harries with time tuners it would make no difference in the amount of time that can be transversed in past by using time tuner.

Summary :- Even if you find "n" more time turners once you go in the past, you would not be able to use them to go more then 6 hours in past because to preserve past you will have to leave "n" time tuners (after their use), thus have to leave as much time in them as you potentially gained earlier.

Sorry for grammar, spelling mistake, complicated language etc. I am bad at languages.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T22:35:27.383Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just came across this in re-reading chapter 3:

The Killing Curse rebounded and struck the Dark Lord, leaving only the burnt hulk of his body and a scar upon your forehead.

Why a burnt hulk when the Killing Curse does no physical damage whatsoever?

It strikes me that the body doesn't match Voldemort's presumed cause of death, there are no witnesses of said death (since Harry's memory cuts out early), and burning a corpse is a classic way to render it unidentifiable.

Moving from considering evidence to speculation, it strikes me that the prophecy would make it incredibly easy for Voldemort to fake his own death - if he went to the Potters' house, killed the parents, placed a mysterious mark on Harry, and then disappeared, leaving a body behind, there is no way his enemies wouldn't take that as his death and the prophecy's fulfillment.

Replies from: DanielLC, Alsadius, Velorien
comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T06:45:32.669Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If it's plausible for him to be burnt by a rebounding killing curse, then the evidence for a faked death is weak. If it's implausible, he'd have found a better method to fake his death.

Replies from: Ritalin
comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-04T07:11:02.696Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

plausible outcome a rebounding killing curse

It does not happen, there are no antecedents, nobody knows what happens.

Replies from: DanielLC
comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T19:24:24.169Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So it's the second one. It's implausible for a killing curse to rebound, so nobody would believe he died that way. Or at least, their less likely to believe it than believe a more plausible death.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T04:51:26.650Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would he fake his own death, though? He was winning.

Replies from: JTHM, hairyfigment, Randaly
comment by JTHM · 2013-07-03T05:15:05.030Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To make Harry Potter a worshiped celebrity.

comment by hairyfigment · 2013-07-04T19:06:45.736Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because Voldemort isn't real, and Tom was tired of the game anyway when he learned he should probably focus on Harry. (If he died, and was inconvenienced the way Dumbledore thinks, how did someone consistently sabotage the Defense Professor? Though that's weak evidence for a couple reasons.)

Dumbledore doesn't realize that Voldemort is a mask, otherwise he'd be spamming this news everywhere. Even without understanding it, he gave Harry a big hint by faking the scene with the burnt chicken. He hoped Harry would think it through and arrive at the same conclusion. But Albus doesn't want to say it explicitly because it would sound silly, and he already looks like a lunatic.

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-24T04:13:35.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...I've never so much as heard the implication that Voldemort was actively sabotaging the Defense position so much as he cursed it once, and it is the curse that is continuing to do its work. Such speculation doesn't appear to make sense to me now that I have heard it.

Linking the burnt chicken to the burnt husk of Voldemort's supposed body, however...is not something that I've considered, and it actually makes some sense, though I do not say that with a high degree of certainty. Though, why wouldn't he have spoken up by now?

comment by Randaly · 2013-07-03T11:13:09.952Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He was winning.

Probably not. While Voldemort's terrorist group was doing increasingly well, Dumbledore's presence alone would be sufficient to prevent a complete victory, and the entire civil war was a distraction from Voldemort's likely main concern, the muggles.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T13:02:13.952Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This point is repeated in subsequent chapters - e.g. "burnt to a crisp", which given its inconsistency with Avada Kedavra's established effects, really makes it sound like foreshadowing. I do agree that we don't have strong evidence for a motive, though.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T02:30:09.392Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect Quirrell's closing statements to McGonagall at the end of this chapter are not quite what they seem. I'm thinking of two in particular: the first, that he wants Harry kept away from the Restricted Section, and the second, that he wants McGonagall and Dumbledore to try to restore Harry's mood by any means necessary.

The trick to the first one is that he hasn't mentioned sealing off a certain other means of discovering arcane secrets at Hogwarts. Admittedly, Quirrell's suggested that it's probably blocked off anyways. But it might not be; even if the basilisk itself is gone, there might still be useful books. So it looks as though Quirrell is trying to push Harry into finding the Chamber of Secrets. There could be any number of reasons why - though the fact that it's a secret, hidden place at least partially exempt from the Hogwarts wards seems like a good place to start.

The trick to the second one is that McGonagall's way of cheering Harry up is actually going to be quite predictable: she and Dumbledore are likely going to try bringing Harry's parents to Hogwarts. Naturally, this opens up a whole world of possibilities for Quirrell; he could use them as hostages, kill them, Imperius them, or do any number of other nasty things if necessary. Or, if he's interested in understanding Harry better, he could use Legilimency to learn all about his background.

Replies from: palladias, None, Desrtopa, MarkusRamikin, ChristianKl, solipsist, linkhyrule5, Fhyve, westward
comment by palladias · 2013-07-02T02:41:23.716Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, limiting Harry's access to knowledge (warning off the other profs, warding the books, etc) makes Quirrell the sole conduit for advanced knowledge for Harry. (Or at least limits the competition). And Quirrell implied to Harry that he was at his nearly-unrestricted service. That gives Quirrell more access to Harry's thought processes (by the questions he asks) and more capacity to steer his choices.

As to what he's steering them toward, he pushed Harry off of new spells, which makes me wonder if he has an old one in mind. There was talk about rituals of sacrifice here (the blood-to-fire) and generally recently (Tracy Davis's invocation). It's possible that there's some ritual that Quirrell would like Harry to perform, not for what it manifests, but for the changes it makes to the caster.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan, Intrism
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T03:09:41.748Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He probably also wants to push Harry away from new spells for safety reasons (presumably he thinks Harry might try to science up a dangerous new spell and that's how he ends the world; he has some experience with Harry attempting to combine magic and science from Azkaban). If he personally steers Harry towards old spells then at least he knows what those spells do.

It's also possible that the Restricted Section contains enough information for someone like Harry to figure out how to create spells from reading it.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T02:52:11.863Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's possible that Quirrell himself intends to be Harry's source of information, but so far he's only been manifestly unhelpful. Basically every response he gave was a brush-off; he didn't even name his spell of cursed fire. When directly given an opportunity to suggest spells or rituals of his own choosing ("There's some magics I mean to learn"), he wasted it. It's possible that he did so out of concern that he was being listened in on, which would also explain his choice not to switch to Parseltongue; still, it certainly doesn't seem like he's trying to point Harry in any particular direction.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T03:13:35.777Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my analysis, I've considered this strong evidence that Quirrell is genuinely worried about what Harry will do. This isn't (just) a plot to get Harry dependent on him so he can feed what he wants into his ear; this is also an actual limitation on Harry's power, denying him information that he doesn't intend to tell him personally, either.

... given the Prophecy, I can't blame him, though we don't know much about the effects of fighting Prophecies.

Replies from: William_Quixote
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-02T03:28:35.224Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

hmm. I initially read Quirrell as being legitimately worried by the prophecy and taking what actions he can. , Although now that I say that I'm skeptical. If Quirrell was actually afraid of Harry ending the world, then Harry would be dead. Even if Dumbledore can put up serious resistance to killing Harry in Hogwarts, Quirrell would still likely think he has better odds than he does against the end of the world.

Harry is not dead, so its likely Quirrell does not think Harry will destroy the world (at least in the commonly understood sense).

Replies from: Desrtopa, None, linkhyrule5
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-02T04:41:12.831Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Quirrell was actually afraid of Harry ending the world, then Harry would be dead.

Quirrell might, in some manner at least, survive the ending of the world (although I note that the resources available to him after the world is gone do not support a convenient resurrection.) But Harry may have usefulness to Quirrell which is worth whatever risks he poses. Even with Quirrell's great edge in raw power and experience, Harry has already developed magics which Quirrell is not capable of.

Replies from: drethelin
comment by drethelin · 2013-07-02T17:20:55.960Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of my pet theories is that the reason Quirrel ever became voldemort is to take over the wizarding world in order to take over the muggle world to prevent them destroying the earth with nuclear war, which is the only thing he views as a serious threat to his long-term continued existence. He might risk harry ending the world if he's trying to stop another end of the world risk.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-02T13:58:25.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Except that Harry is in some way central to Quirrell's plans for immortality - probably he's a horcrux, but maybe it's something else. Quirrell doesn't want to bump him off.

Replies from: William_Quixote
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-02T18:45:46.680Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I suppose that if Harry is central enouph to his plans and if the reward is high enouph that he would be willing to accept some level of risk and not act in an irreveserseable way until the last possible moment. Still, it does seem like a lot a risk for someone who is generally pretty careful.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T03:55:00.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Except that we don't know how Prophecies work.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-02T03:21:52.808Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's more likely that Quirrell is being sincere, and that he is trying to avert the prophecy that he heard at the end of Ch 89. As evidence, I submit:

"You don't like science," Harry said slowly. "Why not?"
"Those fool Muggles will kill us all someday!" Professor Quirrell's voice had grown louder. "They will end it! End all of it!"

  • Chapter 20


  • Chapter 89

"... If I have to brute-force the problem by acquiring enough power and knowledge to just make it happen, I will."
Another pause.
"And to go about that," the man in the corner said, "you will use your favorite tool, science."
"Of course."
The Defense Professor exhaled, almost like a sigh. "I suppose that makes sense of it."

  • Chapter 90

I'm actually impressed with Quirrell's control, here. We can judge how great his fear of death is from his response to Dementor exposure, and here we have a prophecy which (to him, at least) is signalling the end of the entire universe. He's spent decades desperately trying to find a way to avoid death, and now he thinks he's looking it straight in the face. And nobody in the story has even noticed that he's concerned, although I'm pretty sure he was showing his fear a little at the end of 90 there. He must be gibbering on the inside, and holding it together out of sheer determination.

Of that much I'm fairly confident. This next bit is speculation on my part. I'm not going to give a percentage, it's just a hunch, but it is my pet hunch which I've had for a long time.

Quirrell has it all wrong. HPMORverse is actually a simulation being run at some higher level of reality, and Harry is going to figure this out and either rewrite the universe to his will, or airlift everybody in the world the hell out of there by their bootstraps, thereby mass-producing immortality. Merlin was the last wizard to know that the universe was a sim and he patched it to stop people breaking it. Unfortunately this resulted in the loss of a whole lot of useful stuff which may very well have been grandfathered in.

Replies from: Desrtopa, Alsadius, linkhyrule5, Jonathan_Graehl, Decius, Bakkot, elharo
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-02T04:43:16.001Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell has it all wrong. HPMORverse is actually a simulation being run at some higher level of reality, and Harry is going to figure this out and either rewrite the universe to his will, or airlift everybody in the world the hell out of there by their bootstraps, thereby mass-producing immortality.

I doubt it, on the basis that this is something that's unlikely to appeal to many audiences as a realistic application of rationality, and would probably cheapen the plot for a lot of readers.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T03:31:33.107Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

HPMORverse is actually a simulation being run at some higher level of reality

The funny part is, we know this to be literally true. The less-funny part is that it is incredibly difficult for an author to write himself into his own story as a character without coming off incredibly hokey. Heinlein mentioned himself in passing a couple of times and it wasn't any worse than any other in-joke, but I know of no better examples than that.

Edit: I have, of course, forgotten Godel, Escher, Bach. Not sure how. That's a bit of a special case, though.

Replies from: Emile, CronoDAS, elharo, Swimmy, Benito, Decius, MarkusRamikin, cousin_it
comment by Emile · 2013-07-02T20:12:44.512Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In book 2 of Don Quixote, book 1 is mentioned quite a bit and a lot of characters seem to have read it. I was actually surprised at how interesting and original Don Quixote was.

comment by CronoDAS · 2013-07-02T07:17:57.373Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The less-funny part is that it is incredibly difficult for an author to write himself into his own story as a character without coming off incredibly hokey.


comment by elharo · 2013-07-02T10:50:15.849Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Animal Man by Grant Morrison Of course, that story eventually became exclusively about the character talking to the author.

comment by Swimmy · 2013-07-02T18:11:50.513Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse Five. I think it comes off a little awkward--more a reminder that Vonnegut was himself in Dresden than anything pertaining to the story.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-02T07:35:24.566Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although only tangentially related,

The film 'Adaptation', by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman had a lot of trouble adapting a certain book into a film... And so the film is about Charlie Kaufman having difficulty turning the book into a film.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T08:31:33.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've seen obvious knockoffs of reality and other pseudoautobiographical material done well. There's lots of those. But explicitly having the characters talking to the author, without any pretense, tends strongly towards ham-fistedness. And having the characters inside any other form of nested reality would simply be bizarre.

It's still a fun theory, but I will be greatly surprised to see it, largely because I don't think it can be made good enough to make EY think it's worth printing. Maybe a standalone story with that premise, but not as a tacked-on bit at the end.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:41:14.833Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Clive Cussler manages to write a lot of books that don't become more hokey when he shows up as a DEM.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T03:22:28.978Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But that is almost entirely due to how hokey the books already were. (I read lots of Cussler when I was younger, and it was an example that came to mind of author inserts. It was not exactly a positive example, however. It could be worse though, it could be the Apocalypse novel from Magic, where one of the characters blackmails the author into retconning the last twenty pages. Yes, really.)

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-07-03T03:28:18.733Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It could be worse though, it could be the Apocalypse novel from Magic, where one of the characters blackmails the author into retconning the last twenty pages. Yes, really.)

Wait, that sounds like it could be pretty awesome.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T04:21:48.593Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was within ten pages of the end of a very serious trilogy, full of interplanar warfare and dark moral decisions. Then that came right out of left field. It was possibly the most immersion-breaking thing I have ever seen in fiction.

Replies from: CronoDAS
comment by CronoDAS · 2013-07-06T03:05:23.652Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "author" in question was a relatively minor character, with the quirk of writing everything down as though it were a story. Near the end of the trilogy, he tells some others that he's already written the ending, and the bad guys are going to win. They respond that if the bad guys win, there won't be anyone around to read his book - so he changes his mind and frantically erases the ending as the bad guys close in around him. The character is never mentioned again.

More details.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2013-07-02T09:51:17.194Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The funny part is, we know this to be literally true.

What am I missing?

comment by cousin_it · 2013-07-02T09:15:30.362Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Homestuck, gur fhcreivyynva xvyyf gur nhgube naq gnxrf bire gur pbzvp. Hasbeghangryl ur pnaabg qenj.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T03:51:39.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oddly enough, if you look at the Prophecy in terms of science fiction, it's not too bad. Star-lifting is a thing, and a Singularity of any type would look awfully apocalyptic to a civilization in medieval stasis.

Replies from: Unnamed
comment by Unnamed · 2013-07-02T08:14:19.149Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Star lifting is not only a thing, it's a thing that has been mentioned in HPMOR... by Harry... in response to Trelawney's prophecy.

Chapter 21, after Trelawney says "HE IS COMING. THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY -" and is whisked away:

"Not to mention, tear apart the very what? "

"I thought I heard Trelawney start to say something with an 'S' just before the Headmaster grabbed her."

"Like... soul? Sun?"

"If someone's going to tear apart the Sun we're really in trouble!"

That seemed rather unlikely to Harry, unless the world contained scary things which had heard of David Criswell's ideas about star lifting.

Replies from: CAE_Jones, elharo
comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-02T10:17:53.393Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pointing out the obvious, but

scary things which had heard of David Criswell's ideas about star lifting.

Is long for "Harry James Potter Evans Verres". Of course, he gave plausible explanation for why it couldn't refer to him at the time, and all he had to go on was the letter s, so of course that hypothesis wouldn't have elevated itself to his attention at the time.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-02T10:48:13.012Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Question: what does it mean to say "X is a thing"?

Does it mean:

A) The concept exists? (e.g. Unicorns are a thing)

B) The concept may not exist yet, but it could exist? (E.g. lunar colonization is a thing; but unicorns are not a thing.)

C) the concept actually exists (Space stations are a thing.)

Replies from: Velorien, ShardPhoenix, Decius
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T12:19:01.449Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe in general Internet parlance its usage is closest to A, and more rarely C. Obviously, since A could be made about pretty much anything, it is typically restricted to "the concept exists, and is acknowledged by a sufficient number of people" (e.g. "Rule 34 is a thing").

Replies from: D_Malik
comment by D_Malik · 2013-07-02T13:54:08.748Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And since the phrase "is a thing" is acknowledged by many people, we could say that "is a thing" is a thing. Unfortunately, ""is a thing" is a thing" is not yet a thing.

Replies from: tondwalkar
comment by tondwalkar · 2013-07-04T03:28:36.400Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

""is a thing" is a thing" is a thing in sense C.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2013-07-02T11:56:11.951Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Saying "x is a thing" is a way of reminding people of a relevant concept that may have been overlooked. Whether it's an actual physically existing thing or not depends on context.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:38:57.817Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Context dependent, and possibly the distinction between the three is not really a thing.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2013-07-02T23:24:08.800Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Several people have latched onto the idea that "in fact, harry is in a simulation [because it's fiction]". This is a deeply confused statement. [edit: I misread Argency; he's just speculating - no [because it's fiction] implied - I replied to the wrong comment]

A story can be about anything, and is exactly as meta as its author wants it to be. We've seen Harry use the idea that he's like a hero in a story as an intuition pump, but that's part of the very non-simulated [fictional] world he inhabits :)

I mean, the story events so far could turn out to have been simulated, or we could end up with a story where self-aware fictional characters negotiating with their creator, but I've seen no indication of that so far.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:33:49.793Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That prophecy is too easy to see the trick on from where I sit.

Harry will supercede most current mortality limits, do many of the soft science-fiction things (tear apart the very stars in heaven), but will fail to prevent the final end of the useful universe an eternity from now despite surviving it (he is the end of the world)

comment by Bakkot · 2013-07-02T05:00:15.623Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Replies from: None, buybuydandavis, linkhyrule5
comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-02T06:09:47.896Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, the process in stars is fusion. The same as modern atom bombs, too.

Fission is used in nuclear power plants, and only really used to reach the conditions for fusion in bombs.

Replies from: Protagoras, Bakkot
comment by Protagoras · 2013-07-02T08:21:36.761Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, most nuclear weapons get roughly comparable amounts of their force from fission and fusion, usually a little more from fission. Fission-only bombs are so much less powerful not because fission is but because they have very incomplete fission (around 1% for the Hiroshima bomb design, for example). The fusion reactions used in bombs produce a lot of excess neutrons, by design; all those neutrons flying around mean a lot more fission ends up happening. The only bombs that get most of their power from fusion are neutron bombs (which use a lot less fissionable material, and use the excess neutrons to increase the radiation damage) and clean bombs (which also use a lot less fissionable material, but replace it with lead to absorb the excess neutrons; clean is of course a relative term here).

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T17:36:46.311Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The biggest difference as regards fission is that fusion bombs use U-238 as a power source, which is capable of releasing energy from fission, but which doesn't produce enough neutrons to sustain a chain reaction. But when fed excess neutrons from a fusion reaction, you get an immense energy release from a very cheap material that's used as the bomb casing.

comment by Bakkot · 2013-07-02T06:28:48.433Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-02T08:34:33.383Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also harkens back to:

“Hm,” Harry said. “Suppose you threw it into the Sun? Would it be destroyed?”
“It seems unlikely, Mr. Potter,” Professor Quirrell said dryly. “The Sun is very large, after all; I doubt the Dementor would have much effect on it. But it is not a test I would like to try, Mr. Potter, just in case.”

Also, on Quirrell's particular attitude toward the sun:

Harry had lost. There had been moments when the cold anger had faded entirely, replaced by fear, and during those moments he’d begged the older Slytherins and he’d meant it...
“Is the Sun still in the sky?” said Professor Quirrell, still with that strange gentleness. “Is it still shining? Are you still alive?

Harry lost, and Quirrell's is basically asking "was it the end of the world to lose?"

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T06:05:30.068Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or material. Stars are great sources of raw matter, if you can get at it safely.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-02T10:44:40.794Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd be very disappointed if this were actually plot relevant. The only hint that this might be where we're going is in Chapter 14 and that rules it out:

You know right up until this moment I had this awful suppressed thought somewhere in the back of my mind that the only remaining answer was that my whole universe was a computer simulation like in the book Simulacron 3 but now even that is ruled out because this little toy ISN'T TURING COMPUTABLE! A Turing machine could simulate going back into a defined moment of the past and computing a different future from there, an oracle machine could rely on the halting behavior of lower-order machines, but what you're saying is that reality somehow self-consistently computes in one sweep using information that hasn't... happened... yet..."

Ironically Harry is wrong about this. In point of fact his world is a simulation, as are all novels and fictional universes (though I have to consider the possibility that Harry's world is still not Turing computable. We don't yet have an existence proof of a computer program that can write fiction.)

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2013-07-02T13:22:02.079Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What we see of Harry's world is a simulation and therefore (given a bunch of plausible hypotheses) computable. It doesn't follow that there is any "completion" of Harry's world, filling in all the stuff we don't see, that's computable, still less that there's any "reasonable" completion with that property. So I'd be hesitant to say that Harry's world, simpliciter, is a computable simulation.

Replies from: Decius, ygert
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:37:31.049Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's world isn't Turing Computable from within his world, because it relies on information that hasn't happened yet.

However, in our world, Harry's world doesn't come into existence in the same order that it does in his.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-02T14:28:41.636Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A lack of a "reasonable" completion with that property I agree with. But one could easily construct a computable completion. Specifically, the null completion. In other words, everything that that we don't see and is irrelevant to the story simply does not exist. (Until or unless it does at a future point have an effect on the story.)

In fact, you could argue that this completion is the "real" one: Until Eliezer includes something into the story, how can we say that it exists?

Replies from: Dentin
comment by Dentin · 2013-07-02T21:30:08.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's universe may not be Turing computable in the absolute sense assuming that arbitrary time travel is possible, but with even minor limits you can come up with algorithms that largely work, or will work most of the time.

As an example, run the simulation forward taking snapshots at every point until a backward looking event occurs. Take the snapshots of the two time periods and brute force search for a solution (any solution) that can link the two time periods together without breaking constraints. If a solution is found, throw all the intermediate snapshots away and replace them with the found solution. Otherwise, keep the existing data and fail the time travel event in some fashion.

My understanding is that it is possible to find solutions to these kinds of problems (otherwise we wouldn't know and busy beaver numbers.) It's just not possible to find them via some general, easily computable algorithm.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T03:31:12.506Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This could explain the six-hour limit on Time-Turners - that's the maximum lookback the Atlantis algorithm allows.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-02T04:36:48.481Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The trick to the second one is that McGonagall's way of cheering Harry up is actually going to be quite predictable: she and Dumbledore are likely going to try bringing Harry's parents to Hogwarts.

Really? That doesn't sound like something I'd expect Dumbledore to do. It sounds transparently tactically dangerous given that someone close to Harry has already just died at Hogwarts, and his parents have no idea how to relate to what he's going through now anyway.

Replies from: Intrism
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T12:37:11.830Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It might be dangerous; Dumbledore, however, will blame his own absence for the danger and rationalize that nothing will happen with him there. He kept on overrating Hogwarts' security after the last incident; this one seems no different. Anyways, as McGonagall put it, "What now, Albus? If he will not listen to me, then who?"

Replies from: Desrtopa
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-02T13:35:47.208Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

His parents don't seem like the obvious answer to that question, to me. Sure, he's known them longer than anyone else, but they never really understood or took him seriously. Pretty much the only person who he was fully able to relate to and trust is the one he just lost.

Replies from: Intrism
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T14:13:24.211Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I agree that his parents are not necessarily the perfect solution to this problem. However, you must consider that there is no one else to turn to, unless Draco returns or Harry brings Hermione back. What other plan do you think has a higher probability of success?

(Note that bringing Harry's parents to Hogwarts is also foreshadowed; Dumbledore tells Harry that he will try to have them see him at Hogwarts all the way back in Chapter 62, and yet they apparently haven't visited yet this Easter break.)

Replies from: atorm
comment by atorm · 2013-07-03T16:05:08.688Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you may have inadvertently put your finger on it. This is how Draco returns.

Replies from: Intrism
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-03T16:18:52.833Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really wish that were so, but it just doesn't make much sense to me. Draco left because of both politics and security concerns; while Hermione's death may make the politics a little bit easier, the first death at Hogwarts in fifty years isn't going to soothe Lucius' nerves any.

I suppose that sending Draco back to Hogwarts might be a way for Lucius to signal that he was behind the attack on Hermione, but I think Lucius cares about Draco's safety rather more than signaling. He also has many other, less dangerous ways to signal that; I wouldn't be surprised if he forgave Harry's debt, for instance.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2013-07-02T09:56:48.451Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Like I said in another post, I suspect Quirrel simply wants Dumbledore and Minerva to get in Harry's way in order to get him to distrust them. Or perhaps I should say, to maintain the distrust that currently exists. Asking them to cheer Harry up will only have them keep treating Harry's feelings as a problem to be solved, like what he yelled at Fawkes for, and Quirrel knows this.

He's cut him off from Draco, Hermione, and now he's working on Minerva.

Replies from: palladias, NancyLebovitz
comment by palladias · 2013-07-02T15:02:57.140Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think this will drive Minerva from Harry. Despite the unpleasantness, I think this has decreased her loyalty to Dumbledore and increased it to Harry. Dumbledore was complacent about the lapse and didn't think she was worth blaming. Harry gave her a sense that more is possible (even if he doesn't think she can pull it off) and I think she'll surprise him.

Replies from: Ritalin
comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T19:04:06.156Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, that was kind of a dick move on Dumbie's part, right there. Really disappointing.

Replies from: Intrism, Benquo
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T20:31:10.239Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dumbledore and Harry don't actually do anything very different from each other in that scene. They're both blaming themselves instead of McGonagall. What's different is in how they express that. Harry is very clear about who he is blaming, and why; he tells McGonagall exactly what she did wrong when she asks to be blamed, although he still does not in fact blame her. Dumbledore, on the other hand, offers only comfort; he doesn't even tell McGonagall that he's going to blame himself, although she can very well guess.

It's also worth noting that Harry chooses an interesting fault to explain to Professor McGonagall. He doesn't suggest that, like Quirrell, she should have checked on all the high-value targets before leaving the room. Instead, he told her to trust her students more. This is something that McGonagall could actually do; it's much better suited to her than the more complicated, strategic options Harry would suggest for himself or Quirrell. So, although it's definitely not explicitly said this way, it's pretty easy to read Harry as giving advice here, which Dumbledore notably fails to do.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:45:42.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Flash of insight: Professor McGonagall has (had?) the identity feature "I know better than students what is good for them."

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T03:33:05.485Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

She's a teacher. This is a default state for anyone who spends their life around 11-17 year olds, because about 90% of the time it's true.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T05:41:17.468Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a high prior, but she has it as an intrinsic part of her identity.

comment by Benquo · 2013-07-02T19:09:08.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, it always worked before. He doesn't have a good reason to think it won't work again.

OR, perhaps he is supporting Harry by "discouraging" a hero-to-be, like he did with Hermione.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-02T13:01:02.734Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hypothesis: Minerva gave those really bad orders under magical influence.

Replies from: Vaniver, Velorien
comment by Vaniver · 2013-07-02T14:55:32.725Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some of those really bad orders match the ones she gave in canon, and Dumbledore doesn't seem to think they're out of ordinary for her.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T08:50:49.962Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is MinervaMOR supposed to be more rational than cannon Minerva?

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T15:03:11.909Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The only obvious purpose would be to delay Harry, and it seems like a singularly inefficient way of doing that - I think anyone trying to predict his actions would have assigned good odds to him ignoring everyone and everything else and zooming out of there the second he thought Hermione was in trouble.

Furthermore, there are all kinds of ways trying to magically influence a professor could have backfired. The benefit doesn't seem worth the risk.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T14:25:23.073Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect Quirrell's closing statements to McGonagall at the end of this chapter are not quite what they seem. I'm thinking of two in particular: the first, that he wants Harry kept away from the Restricted Section, and the second,

He set up a situation where Harry wants in the restricted section but McGonagall is trying to stop Harry. The result will be that Harry will get annoyed at McGonagall and Dumbledore for forbidden him access to the restricted section.

that he wants McGonagall and Dumbledore to try to restore Harry's mood by any means necessary.

Harry asked Quirrell to tell McGonagall that he shouldn't be disturbt. From Quirrell's perspective McGonagall is likely to do something that annoys Harry when she tries to restore his mood.

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-02T04:18:14.523Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The trick to the second one is that McGonagall's way of cheering Harry up is actually going to be quite predictable: she and Dumbledore are likely going to try bringing Harry's parents to Hogwarts.

Huh. I assumed that Quirrell was trying to manipulate someone from the Order into to obliviating Harry to further alienate Harry from Dumbledore's side. Harry hasn't detected himself being obliviated yet, and that needs to happen in the next few chapters. But memory charming Harry to happiness a high entropy guess so I don't have much confidence in it.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T02:45:19.753Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One thing I am reading out of this is that Quirrell is (understandably) genuinely worried about what Harry might do, after the Prophecy.

Part of this is making him dependent on Quirrell for information, obviously, but part of this also seems to be a genuine desire to keep certain knowledge out of his hands - I'm 90% sure that the stock answer Vector and Flitwick will tell Harry about spell creation is the same one that Quirrell just gave, for example.

comment by Fhyve · 2013-07-02T03:20:51.068Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why does he think of beefing up the restricted section's security only after his conversation with Harry? What did he learn?

I also don't see bringing Harry's parents to Hogwarts as being terribly predictable.

Replies from: Intrism, Decius
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-02T03:28:47.573Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He doesn't necessarily learn anything regarding the Restricted Section in his conversation with Harry; however, immediately after his conversation is probably his best chance to have McGonagall listen to him about the Restricted Section.

Dumbledore and McGonagall don't really have very many options to cheer Harry up. It's suggested that they already tried other students. Regarding friends, his closest would be McGonagall and Quirrell, neither of whom worked, Hermione and Draco, who are both inaccessible for obvious reasons, and his parents. Of all of these, the last seem like the best option. This is particularly so considering that Harry would very likely want to shield his parents from his present emotions in a way that is not true of Dumbledore and McGonagall. We can debate how well it would work, but short of explicitly using magic on Harry (which might not even be possible, now that he's an Occlumens) it's the only thing McGonagall and Dumbledore could do that would have any kind of chance of success.

Replies from: William_Quixote, NancyLebovitz
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-02T11:10:58.202Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This post makes me think Dumbledore might try to procure Draco to cheer up Harry, but that might not be practical without great cost (political and otherwise)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-02T12:57:09.825Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's parents seem like a bad option for cheering him up. As I recall, he despises them as much as he despises most people.

However, I can easily believe bringing them to Hogwarts will seem like a good idea to someone who's running on automatic. It might even be a good idea-- not emotionally-- but because they'd be safer at Hogwarts than at home.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2013-07-02T13:25:02.183Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry does not despise his parents. It is made very clear that he loves them dearly and vice versa.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:47:33.282Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What evidence do we have that security on the restricted section is actually going to be improved?

Replies from: Fhyve
comment by Fhyve · 2013-07-02T22:22:28.653Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just by telling everyone to keep Harry away from it improves the security

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T05:49:52.074Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really? What attempt to enter the restricted section would be foiled by that countermeasure that wouldn't be foiled by the factors inherent in "restricted section"?

Replies from: Fhyve
comment by Fhyve · 2013-07-03T05:56:18.052Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"I need access to the restricted section, I don't want another one of my friends to die"

I would suspect that an argument along those lines would be much more likely to succeed if Quirrell hadn't given his instructions.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T06:27:57.214Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay, in a very strict sense it does make it harder to access. Harry was unlikely to get permission if he asked before, and now he's more unlikely to get permission.

He still has a time-turner and the Invisibility Cloak. If he can get behind a stack long enough to put the cloak on and take it off, he can defeat 'keep an eye on him'.

Now, putting a door on the restricted section would actually provide a hindrance, but would also tip him off that there were probably new wards.

Tangent speculation: What are the odds that Harry will find the Room of Requirements and learn about its nature and then determine the limits of its capabilities?

comment by westward · 2013-07-02T16:37:02.300Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I read QuirrellMort as being honestly horrified by Harry's conclusions from Hermione's death. My take is that Quirrell engineered the troll to kill Hermione in order to get Harry to become an agent of death, not of life. He thinks Harry could possibly find a way to achieve his goals and wants to prevent both Harry from getting Hermione back and from inventing "universal healthcare". There is also the side benefit of driving a wedge between Harry and Albus / Minerva.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T21:34:40.257Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Other people have done huge amounts for me!" Harry said. "My parents took me in when my parents died because they were good people, and to become a Dark Lord is to betray that!"

(...) "So you are held back by the thought of your parents' disapproval? Does that mean that if they died in an accident, there would be nothing left to stop you from -"

"No," Harry said. "Just no. It is their impulse to kindness which sheltered me. That impulse is not only in my parents. And that impulse is what would be betrayed."

Chapter 20. It would seem Harry dodged a truly enormous bullet there.

comment by mstevens · 2013-07-02T09:40:26.030Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"So you also don't think it's worth the trouble of holding me responsible..."

This could be interesting depending how she reacts later. I'm mostly expecting despair, but with a small chance of a heroic Minerva.

Replies from: AlexMennen, Ritalin
comment by AlexMennen · 2013-07-02T19:07:01.669Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd be pretty shocked if we don't see a heroic Minerva, given how she reacted to Harry's rant and the fact that this incident provided the name for the chapter.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:41:23.219Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's never too late for character growth. Let's just hope she doesn't do something stupid... I mean stupider than usual.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T02:50:19.603Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On a side note -

"But what I must actually tell you is that you will find the standard introductory text in the north-northwest stacks of the main Hogwarts library, filed under M."

First, I rather appreciate the comic relief, Eliezer.

... But second, what the heck are Memory Charms doing outside the--

Right. Hogwarts. Crazies. Nevermind.

Replies from: Desrtopa, loserthree, Rain
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-02T04:33:58.124Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Keep in mind that while on the one hand, memory charms are a crazy broken superweapon for anyone with a bit of unrestrained creativity, they also seem to be a standard response for ordinary wizards on the spot dealing with muggles who've caught a slip in the Statute of Secrecy (for instance, a rampaging dragon.)

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T12:09:59.871Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Counting against this observation is the statement that they're "illegal to use without Ministry authorization". Counting for it is the fact that Quirrell and the other villain candidates seem happy to use them whenever convenient with no negative consequences. Given that the Ministry apparently has a magical net capable of instantly detecting underage spell use, it's odd that they seem completely unable to monitor the use of conditionally legal, illegal, and Unforgiveable magic.

Replies from: Desrtopa, thakil, mare-of-night, Ritalin
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-02T12:21:57.648Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

While they can detect underage spell use, if I remember correctly they canonically cannot detect the type of magic being used. Perhaps it would have been possible to set up spells to detect types of spells in use by adults, perhaps not, but I think wizarding norms on privacy and individual rights probably would make it politically unviable in any case. Remember when Harry offered Minerva his wand when he was going to be staying at home, and she responded that "that isn't done." Wizarding minors aren't allowed to use magic unsupervised, but even muggleborns at home with no adult wizards are still left the use of their wands. That strikes me as a society which has some very strong norms about autonomy.

Replies from: ygert
comment by ygert · 2013-07-02T14:19:51.541Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, perhaps. This makes sense. But, IIRC, in Chamber of Secrets the letter that Harry gets from the ministry specifically states that they detected a hover charm being used at Harrys residence. If that is the case, it means that canonically they do detect the type of magic used.

comment by thakil · 2013-07-02T12:16:27.459Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thats because (mild spoiler for the books) every young person has "the trace" put on them, which can be tracked. Any magic done in the vicinity of someone with the trace on will be picked up on. That said, they are apparently aware that it was a hover charm in book 2, so they can clearly detect the type of magic too...

Replies from: kilobug, mare-of-night, Normal_Anomaly
comment by kilobug · 2013-07-03T15:15:52.955Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's something in the original universe which seems unrealistic to me, so I guess it doesn't work exactly that way in MoR. Someone in the ministry being warned, with the details of the spell used, for every spell used around an underage would mean, de facto, being warned of almost every spell usage done by any parent. It would mean that every spell cast by Lucius when Draco is nearby is detected by the ministry. I doubt both the Death Eaters and the "normal" wizards would accept something like that.

Also, in canon Order of the Phoenix, near the end, Umbridge attempts to cast Crucio on Harry to make him talk, and when she does that, she hides the portrait of Fudge so Fudge doesn't know. If any spell cast near an underage wizard is detected by the ministry, they would know anyway about her casting of Crucio on Harry.

There are many other examples : like, at the end of the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort and his acolytes use many Unforgiveable curses around Harry (killing Diggory, torturing Harry, ...) and there isn't the slightest hint that the ministry detected all that.

So my guess is that the "trace" isn't a perfect detector of every magic used around an underage, but maybe just magic used around an underage by someone who isn't a grown up wizard ? It would detect underage magic, Dobby's magic usage around Harry, but not when parents cast spells around their children, nor when adults (mad Hogwarts teachers or Death Eaters) attack children ?

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-25T17:32:23.231Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is a simpler possibility.

The trace only detects the magic of the caster. The reason that Harry got the note for Dobby's use of magic is because Dobby used inscrutable house elf magic to fake Harry's magical signature.

Or, alternatively, they knew that tracking every spell everywhere there was a child would result in them being inundated with reports, be a violation of privacy, etc., so they have it set to disregard spells cast in known magical areas--basically allowing carte blanche for wizard-raised students, while completely shafting the muggle-raised. That also seems consistent with their policies.

As yet another possibility (and that I was going to use in my HP fic that died with my old comp) the Trace is twofold, both the spell on their wand and the spell on a location, generally their home. This secondary spell is the one that actually detects the magic, while the first merely serves to identify the caster as underaged. Because Dobby would still have to fake something, it would appear to suffer from a complexity penalty, but it would allow for...ah.

I had thought that Riddle had killed his family to create the ring horcrux while he was in school and so should still have the Trace, which research backed up, but which also revealed that he used the wand of the person he was framing for the deeds. Which is rather unhelpful, even if it is obvious. Though he also False Memory-Charmed the man to think that he had committed the deed, which he couldn't use that man's wand for since it was going to be checked, and he was never caught for -that-. That does seem to imply that location is significant.

comment by mare-of-night · 2013-07-02T21:50:51.071Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That sounds like it would give a lot of false-positives for non-muggleborns... (Not arguing with your statement, just noting that it seems like the wizards made a bad choice of what to detect, if there were other options.)

Replies from: thakil, Fermatastheorem
comment by thakil · 2013-07-03T07:12:13.574Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Indeed it is. In book.. 6(?) it is made clear that children in magical families are essentially exempt because of this rule. It is assumed that parents will enforce the rules on their children. It is another example of prejudice in the magical world (which I believe is deliberate. Rowling explicitly and implicitly suggests repeatedly that the current set up of the magical world is corrupt and prejudical)

Replies from: Eugine_Nier
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-03T23:43:09.071Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is another example of prejudice in the magical world

This particular rule strikes me as pretty reasonable. It is assumed that magical parents can manage their children's magic.

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-25T21:28:57.074Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you don't consider that parents might surreptitiously teach their children spells, then sure, that makes sense.

Replies from: Eugine_Nier
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-08-27T05:04:14.555Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Huh? What's there to be surreptitious about? The whole point is that magical parents are trusted to participate in their children's magical development.

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-27T07:20:32.880Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The students were not supposed to do magic over the summer, full stop. There's no official exception there. The leniency could be rationalized as "magical parents can stop their children from casting spells if need be, so we don't need to monitor them," but it's not "go ahead and do magic, magical parents are trusted to teach and guide their children's magic."

If the children are casting spells, then they are breaking the law. If the parent is teaching them without the child actually casting the spell, then there's no need for an exemption.

comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-02T23:33:45.996Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The trace is only placed on muggleborns. The Ministry expects magical parents to supervise the magic use of their own children.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2013-07-02T19:20:08.672Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's right. In order to track illegal or conditionally legal magic, they'd have to put the trace on everyone for their whole lives. This would be a hard law to pass.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:03:16.110Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would it be hard to implement without such a law?

Replies from: Velorien, Normal_Anomaly
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T01:34:46.556Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Technically? Debatable. Practically, yes, because Lucius Malfoy rules magical Britain and would come down hard on anything that interferes with his and his minions' use of illegal magic. Additionally, it would be political suicide to do something like this illegally and get caught (at least in the Potterverse), and of those in power very few would even consider taking that risk in order to prevent illegal magic use.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T05:43:17.102Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would Lucius interfere with his own minions?

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T13:11:32.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My point precisely. A universal trace would result in people in the Ministry, not all of whom are reliably corrupt, being aware whenever Lucius's minions used illegal magic.

A trace that was universal except for Lucius and his minions would be a strategic masterstroke, but would probably lead to outright rebellion if it were discovered, and it seems that Lucius doesn't quite have that much influence, or the wizarding world would already have blood purism codified in law.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T22:13:50.216Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's already true that Draco practiced magic underage and wasn't arrested. Whether that is because the trace doesn't apply to him or because the people who see the results of the trace ignore them is open to doubt...

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T23:21:27.392Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe someone just upthread has explained that the trace only applies to Muggleborns.

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-25T21:25:47.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Clearly not assigned to only Muggleborns (or even Muggle-raised) given that the Weasley twins openly lamented receiving the notices at the end of the first year reminding them not to cast magic over the break.

As to its effectiveness, both I (and apparently at least one other person) already spoke on it.

Draco didn't have a wand yet. Officially. No reason to be tracked.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2013-07-03T20:24:50.744Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What Velorien said, but also, if such a spell was implemented it would be hard to use it for law enforcement without giving away that it existed. They wouldn't be able to use it as court evidence, and if they used it to direct law enforcement personnel to the scene they'd get found out eventually.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T22:02:57.566Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, I was implying that it wouldn't be officially sanctioned in any way. Much like Deep Throat's "follow the money", it could be used to point police toward lines of investigation that would prove fruitful.

comment by mare-of-night · 2013-07-02T21:52:28.907Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

they're "illegal to use without Ministry authorization". Does this include muggles?

Replies from: Fermatastheorem
comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-02T23:31:56.493Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Probably, because the Ministry is in charge of cleaning up after abovementioned slips in the Statute of Secrecy.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:53:30.203Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

it's odd that they seem completely unable to monitor the use of conditionally legal, illegal, and Unforgiveable magic.

Who said they were incapable, dohoho?

comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T03:24:24.893Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

... But second, what the heck are Memory Charms doing outside the--

Right. Hogwarts. Crazies. Nevermind.

Or Quirrell, who has declared his intention to visit the restricted section, is planning to plant the book for Harry's 'benefit.'

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T03:31:29.208Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Doubtful. That's not a lie Quirrell can sustain: Harry can ask anyone else what the status of memory charms is in the Hogwarts curriculum.

Wizards in general need memory charms to deal with muggles, so that's a plausible reason they aren't seen as Dark by the wizarding community. There are probably strong cultural taboos against using them on other wizards (as opposed to muggles), in the same way there are strong cultural taboos against using cars to run over pedestrians even though that's a power that many teenagers acquire here in the real world.

Replies from: Decius, loserthree
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:00:32.651Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, Draco's taboo against memory charms against half-bloods was roughly as strong as his taboo against violent rape of half-bloods. I'm not sure we should accept his initial taboos as either consistent or typical, though.

comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T03:56:13.040Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry can ask anyone else what the status of memory charms is in the Hogwarts curriculum.

I would guess that either

  • A) They will be evasive in answering any precocious questions because Quirrell asked them to be evasive about some precocious questions or
  • B) Quirrell wasn't telling Harry that wizards are stupid and keep dangerous things in plain sight. He was telling Harry that he'd "pass it to [him] beneath a disguised cover." in the guise of telling him how to learn more about memory charms.
Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T04:15:04.687Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A) He doesn't need to ask a professor, he can just ask a seventh-year.

Replies from: loserthree
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T04:17:01.646Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good point. I'm sticking to B, Quirrell was telling Harry he'd pass it to him on the downlow. Note that he didn't say that the book would be labeled "Memory Charms," just that it would be filed under M.

Replies from: JTHM, hairyfigment
comment by JTHM · 2013-07-02T04:27:18.957Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Magick Moste Evile? (This is an in-universe book from canon, in case anyone forgot.)

comment by hairyfigment · 2013-07-02T08:18:50.311Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

B was my thought - or at least I'd definitely check if I were Harry. But checking every book in the section seems time-consuming and suspicious. I think we should assume there is in fact a standard book on Memory Charms there. Doesn't mean it contains a single truthful word.

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T08:33:12.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Even if truthful, it may not actually say how to cast.

Replies from: Fermatastheorem
comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-02T17:33:48.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, Hermione casts Obliviate in her 7th year (presumably without consulting a restricted text from the Department of Mysteries), so the widely available book may actually have enough information for an intelligent reader to learn how to cast it.

comment by Rain · 2013-07-02T12:53:49.963Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the standard introductory text

NOT "how to cast a Memory Charm", NOT "the spells you are looking for", but rather, 'the information readily available to students'.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T19:45:25.003Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Last chapter I complained about EY having hermione Stuffed Into The Fridge, i.e. unceremoniously killed offscreen to provide motivation for the main character. Today I find that he is literally refrigerating her!

Replies from: tondwalkar, David_Gerard
comment by tondwalkar · 2013-07-04T03:51:14.191Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

i.e. unceremoniously killed offscreen

nitpick: Hermionie wasn't just killed onscreen, she was front and center.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-07-03T20:41:24.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Imagine a cryonics enthusiast writing about a cryonics enthusiast making the explanation of his move a pun on a trope name ;-)

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T02:32:19.678Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Of course it's my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything."

The first time this sentence appears in HPMoR is in the italic text that begins Chapter 2:

"Of course it was my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything."

I'll assume the difference between "it's" and "it was" isn't significant. I'm inclined to refocus my attention now on the italic text that begins Chapter 1:

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line...

(black robes, falling)

...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

I didn't know what to make of this when I first read it, and I still don't. Does this describe an event that has already happened? It's not Hermione's death, since that didn't happen in the moonlight.

Replies from: gwern, somervta, Michelle_Z, Alsadius, jonnaraev, Tripitaka, DanielLC
comment by gwern · 2013-07-02T02:35:58.273Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does this describe an event that has already happened?

It's been debated constantly since the start because it's highlighted as important. The best guess was that it might have been when Voldemort attacked the Potters, but there's obvious problems with that (what's the silver? and as far as we know, no blood was shed by Voldemort since he favored AKs). Given that ch90 brings up blood as a powerful sacrificial element, it's looking more like it's about a future event and maybe a ritual by Harry - pursuant to bringing back Hermione being the obvious goal.

Replies from: noahpocalypse, Randaly, ChristianKl
comment by noahpocalypse · 2013-07-02T03:36:25.725Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When you said AKs, I immediately thought you meant AK-47s. That put a very amusing picture in my head.

I might play too many videogames.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:29:42.456Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They share many characteristics, don't they?

comment by Randaly · 2013-07-02T04:28:17.450Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

what's the silver?

The only plot-significant things that have been described as silver are Fawkes, the Time-Turner, Dumbledore's beard, Lucius Malfoy's cane, and Patronus charms. I think we can safely eliminate Dumbledore's beard and Malfoy's cane. If it is in the future, I would have dismissed the time-turner before the past 2 chapters, but not anymore.

(I still believe it likely describes the attack on the Potters. Edit: I no longer believe this.)

Replies from: JTHM, Benito, ikrase, linkhyrule5
comment by JTHM · 2013-07-02T04:32:14.139Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line..."

This sounds like an alchemy circle, which has to be drawn "to the fineness of a child's hair." I guess it involves the creation of a philosopher's stone.

Replies from: tondwalkar, fubarobfusco, hairyfigment
comment by tondwalkar · 2013-07-04T03:17:17.850Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And if Yudkowsky's going to make a Fullmetal Alchemist reference, we know how to make a philosopher's stone, or even crude approximations, but only using human scarifice.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-07-02T05:34:34.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or a horcrux? We still don't know what the ritual for that looks like.

Replies from: elharo
comment by elharo · 2013-07-02T10:39:33.825Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We know from canon and Word of Rowling that it involves murder, and is so disgusting it almost made her editor vomit.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-02T13:03:09.562Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nitpick: "felt like vomiting" is well short of being almost made to vomit.

comment by hairyfigment · 2013-07-02T08:48:18.316Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could be alchemy or related magic used to turn someone's blood into a fake burned body. (Free transmutation seems easy to recognize.) But I've been thinking of it as an event in the past, which now seems dubious.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-02T07:29:09.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the first Canon, unicorn's blood is silver, and that has a life-extension effect.

IIRC, Canon!Dumbledore says it is used as a last, terrible resort of a wretched life (or something).

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T08:40:49.228Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, it's also Unicorn blood.

It could also be Harry using Godric Gryffindor's sword to murder someone (Bellatrix?) in order to power the Summon Death ritual.

Replies from: Alsadius, Ritalin, Fermatastheorem
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T17:39:56.958Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've always interpreted the Summon Death ritual to just create a dementor.

Replies from: pjeby, ikrase
comment by pjeby · 2013-07-03T00:34:18.433Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

FWIW, the Summon Death ritual is a reference to the Rite of AshkEnte, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. The usual purpose of summoning Death in that context was to ask him questions, and a counterspell to dismiss him wasn't required because he was always in a hurry to be back about his business, as soon as the summoning wizards let him go.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T21:56:49.467Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I interpreted it as creating a ... King Dementor or something, that has wide-ranging effects when lit up with True Patronus (probably the Counterspell To Dispell Death).

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T19:00:35.084Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is completely out of character.

Replies from: Alsadius, ikrase
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T03:34:34.162Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Remember his anti-Batman resolution from a few chapters ago, where he said that a dead body means the gloves come off and he quits trying to fight a bloodless war.

Replies from: NihilCredo
comment by NihilCredo · 2013-07-04T03:30:26.591Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer edited out his explicit resolution at some point before these updates began.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-04T03:46:32.410Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Noted. I think it's still a fairly accurate summary of his mental state, however.

Edit: Half of Ch. 85 is still basically in this vein.

Harry closed his eyes, swallowing hard a few times against the sudden choking sensation. It was abruptly very clear that while Harry was going around trying to live the ideals of the Enlightenment, Dumbledore was the one who'd actually fought in a war. Nonviolent ideals were cheap to hold if you were a scientist, living inside the Protego bubble cast by the police officers and soldiers whose actions you had the luxury to question. Albus Dumbledore seemed to have started out with ideals at least as strong as Harry's own, if not stronger; and Dumbledore hadn't gotten through his war without killing enemies and sacrificing friends.

Are you so much better than Haukelid and Dumbledore, Harry Potter, that you'll be able to fight without a single casualty? Even in the world of comic books, the only reason a superhero like Batman even looks successful is that the comic-book readers only notice when Important Named Characters die, not when the Joker shoots some random nameless bystander to show off his villainy. Batman is a murderer no less than the Joker, for all the lives the Joker took that Batman could've saved by killing him. That's what the man named Alastor was trying to tell Dumbledore, and afterward Dumbledore regretted having taken so long to change his mind. Are you really going to try to follow the path of the superhero, and never sacrifice a single piece or kill a single enemy?

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T21:55:32.617Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not anymore. .

Or he could just go all brutalist utilitarian.

Replies from: Mestroyer
comment by Mestroyer · 2013-07-03T03:39:16.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You mean like this?

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-03T04:34:11.678Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ooops. No. I mean more like Grindelvaldesque.

comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-02T17:52:33.319Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would Harry have access to the sword, being a Ravenclaw?

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T06:04:27.863Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It could just be a random knife.

Replies from: Randaly
comment by Randaly · 2013-07-02T06:17:55.948Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Possible, but unlikely.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T12:14:18.032Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The detail given could be that a knife is being used rather than a wand. And no-one we know would use a knife to kill rather than a wand unless there was a very special reason to do so.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:28:43.445Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless they can't do magic...

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T14:15:36.875Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

An alternative to Harry doing the ritual would be that Harry get's sacrificed by a ritual of Quirrelmort to bring back Voldemort.

Given how much Harry trust Quirrelmort, it should be in Quirrelmort's power.

Replies from: loserthree
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T02:52:29.393Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry doesn't trust Quirrell anymore, hasn't trusted him since the Azkaban arc. That was made pretty clear inthe conversation in the dark warehouse immediately after the raid.

comment by somervta · 2013-07-02T02:49:55.361Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that of the italicized parts that appear at the start sporadically throughout the first ~20 chapters, this is now the only one that has not yet appeared later in the story (I went through and checked).

Replies from: loserthree, Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T03:22:56.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When you checked, did you record the chapter with the epigraph and the chapter where the line appeared in the text?

And if you did, would you share it?

Replies from: somervta, somervta
comment by somervta · 2013-07-02T04:44:30.749Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

here. Format is ugly, but simple.

Number of chapter with epigraph - "epigraph" number of chapter with line in text - "original quote"

All are copy pastes.

1 - "Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line... (black robes, falling) ...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word." Not yet appeard

2 - ""Of course it was my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything."" - 90 -""Of course it's my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything.""

3 - ""But then the question is - who?"" 3 - ""Am I - could I be - maybe - you never know - if I'm not - but then the question is - who? ""

4 - ""World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."" 6 - "World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."

5 - ""It would've required a supernatural intervention for him to have your morality given his environment."" 87 - "It would've required a supernatural intervention for him to have your morality given his environment -""

6 - "You think your day was surreal? Try mine." 6 - "You think your day was surreal? Try mine."

7 - ""Your dad is almost as awesome as my dad."" 7 - ""Your dad is almost as awesome as my dad.""

8 - ""Allow me to warn you that challenging my ingenuity is a dangerous sort of project, and may tend to make your life a lot more surreal."" 8 - ""I warn you that challenging my ingenuity is a dangerous project, and tends to make your life a lot more surreal.""

9 - "You never did know what tiny event might upset the course of your master plan." 9 - "you never did know what tiny event might upset the course of your master plan."(also present in Ch 11, second Omake)

10 - none 11 - none

12 - ""Wonder what's wrong with him."" 12 - ""Wonder what's wrong with him,""

13 - ""That's one of the most obvious riddles I've ever heard."" 13 - ""That's one of the most obvious riddles I've ever heard.""

14 - "There were mysterious questions, but a mysterious answer was a contradiction in terms." 14 - "There were mysterious questions, but a mysterious answer was a contradiction in terms"

15 - ""I'm sure I'll find the time somewhere."" 15 - ""2:47PM on Saturday it is, then. I'm sure I'll find the time somewhere."

16 - "I'm not a psychopath, I'm just very creative." 16 - "The best Harry had come up with was "I'm not a psychopath, I'm just very creative" and that sounded kind of ominous"

17 - ""You start to see the pattern, hear the rhythm of the world."" 17 - ""You see, Harry, after you've been through a few adventures you tend to catch the hang of these things. You start to see the pattern, hear the rhythm of the world."

18 - ""That does sound like the sort of thing I would do, doesn't it?"" 18 - ""That does sound like the sort of thing I would do, doesn't it?" said Dumbledore, smiling."

Replies from: loserthree
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T05:35:58.877Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


So 1, 2, and 5 are the only chapters where the phrase doesn't appear in the chapter itself. Do those numbers mean anything recognizable?

EDIT: Yeah. 4. 1, 2, 4, and 5. Upvoting for correcting me.

Replies from: ShardPhoenix, Will_Newsome
comment by ShardPhoenix · 2013-07-02T13:04:22.099Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And 4.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2013-07-02T06:43:28.778Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Someone call Dan Brown!

Replies from: Discredited
comment by Discredited · 2013-07-02T07:13:04.177Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does anyone know how Eliezer codifies pelagic strata?

comment by somervta · 2013-07-02T03:56:21.974Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did not for all of them, but I can easily reproduce it. One moment...

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T02:51:00.831Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought they would be in reverse chronological order or something cool like that, but no dice.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2013-07-02T19:09:33.139Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If a drop of blood is all that's required to summon fire that can burn through the walls of hogwarts, then what can liters of blood do?

Replies from: gwern, ikrase, Decius
comment by gwern · 2013-07-02T21:40:28.508Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, it's not a drop of blood, it's a drop of blood for the rest of your life. But under a reasonable interpretation, Quirrel is perhaps being a little paranoid in avoiding use of that spell.

If we interpret the requirement as it frustrates one drop of blood from coming into creation, well, blood lasts ~120 days; if one drop is 0.05 ml and Quirrel is middle-aged and can expect another 40 years of life (the question about wizard lifespans is relevant here, though), then that's 0.05 * (365/120) * 40 = 6.1 milliliters total loss.

Or if we interpret it as reducing the total capacity of one's blood, well, adults have ~5 liters or 5000 milliliters, so you could use that spell hundreds of times before appreciably reducing your blood content (200 * 0.05ml = 10ml, so you'd go from 5000 to 4990...).

Replies from: Fermatastheorem
comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-02T23:37:06.966Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The latter explanation was my assumption. I am curious whether this capacity loss transfers across bodies when one is possessing someone else or has been resurrected.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T21:54:06.398Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

IDK... Hermionie managed to shatter Hogwarts masonry with an explosive spell, and the Troll smashed it with a club.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2013-07-03T01:32:49.107Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good catch. That slipped my mind. :o

Though, apparently the castle will be "scarred"...?

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-03T03:39:47.112Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Presumably the cursed fire prevents regeneration, means that mundane repairs (magical or mechanical) will not properly integrate, or something like that.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:25:49.595Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sacrificing liters of your own blood is more than enough to kill you.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T02:59:49.279Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The first 20 chapters mostly have similar italicized bits at the top. Many have come to pass, but Ch. 1, the most mysterious of the lot, I do not believe has.

Replies from: elharo
comment by elharo · 2013-07-02T10:34:57.383Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anything to be learned by correlating the chapters where they appear with the chapters with the quote? E.g. do later quotes appear earlier in the book? Or do the appearances of the quotes reinforce the lessons of the chapter where the quote appeared in some way?

comment by jonnaraev · 2013-07-04T13:26:33.106Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of the only things I can recall being referred to as a line, is the Line of Merlin Unbroken - the short rod Dumbledore has when presiding over the Wizengamot. Of course, that's not silver...

EDIT: Just expanding; the Line seems to both refer to the physical object Dumbledore holds, but also the succession of people, going back to Merlin - making Dumbledore literally a fraction of a line.

comment by Tripitaka · 2013-07-03T20:17:44.721Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is another ritual we know of which could be described by the above:

Even so, the most terrible ritual known to me demands only a rope which has hanged a man and a sword which has slain a >woman; and that for a ritual which promised to summon Death itself

Of course there are obvious problems with the exact wording; and it is probable that this ritual just summons a dementor.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T06:54:58.357Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line

A silver cord is commonly said to connect the spirit to the body during astral projection.

Considering that the closest we've seen to astral projection is Hoarcruxes, and they'd be pretty useless if they were that obvious, this doesn't seem like a likely explanation, but I still feel like throwing it out there.

comment by cywtLC2Fy8A · 2013-07-02T14:48:14.358Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Multiple FF.net reviews suggest getting Harry's parents to try and cheer him up. But what about this, before the beginning of chapter 1:

Petunia married a biochemist

I predict Harry might realise his father can help him and find a way to ask/make him help. All the PCs and powerful NPCs around him want Hermione to be dead (either through action or inaction). If she can be revived, a professor of biochemistry might just have relevant knowledge, equipment, and the will to act. Come to think of it, even more so might Hermione's parents.

The biggest problem I see with this is that in the past, Harry felt his father did not take him seriously. However, he now has power his father knows not, and he has resolved to do anything to bring her back - he could credibly threaten his father's career, for example.

The second problem is that Harry may be too wrapped up with being responsible and needing to fix this himself to think of asking anyone else for help, but signalling him via Patronus is at least worth a try and costs little - "We are in a war situation, my best friend was just killed by a double traumatic leg amputation, but I've cooled her to 5 degrees and trying to work out what to do next. Ideas? I am deadly serious."

Replies from: drethelin, Vaniver
comment by drethelin · 2013-07-02T17:11:24.092Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

you're uh, assigning just a tad too much power to the average biochemist.

Replies from: asr
comment by asr · 2013-07-02T17:16:10.565Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Professor Evans-Veres is at Oxford, so he's probably a well-above-average biochemist.

Bear in mind that the question isn't "can top biochemistry professors help stop/undo death" -- it's "can a high-end biochemist be of help, if you can do magic and rearrange matter at the molecular level." And that seems relatively plausible.

Replies from: William_Quixote, NancyLebovitz, ChristianKl
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-02T19:09:43.147Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

you're uh, assigning just a tad too much power to the well above average biochemist.

More seriously, I think Harry's path here is much more magic than bio focused. He's seen memories removed and copied. If he can figure out how to remove ALL the memories from a body, and if he knows the obliviate charm, and if dead cells work for poly juice (which they should since hair is dead) then he has a decent path using only minor variants to known magic.

Replies from: maia, atorm, firstorderpredicate
comment by maia · 2013-07-02T21:14:38.028Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But the way memories are stored in Pensieves, all they provide is a firstperson video feed of things that have happened. That's not enough information to make up a whole person.

Replies from: William_Quixote
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-03T02:02:10.317Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is it first person video, or first person full sense feed (including sound smell, feel of the chair etc.)? Because if its a first person full sense feed, plugging that into human brains is how we get people right now.

If you push the same feed into a brain, you might get the same person at the end. I'll note that the Mr. Bester storyline makes a point of showing how reproducible thoughts are given the same conditions.

comment by atorm · 2013-07-03T15:30:19.808Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hair isn't even cellular. Given that it can be cut off and used, follicles are not required.

comment by firstorderpredicate · 2013-07-02T20:33:37.376Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wouldn't it be a good idea to at least ask? Professor E-V might not have ideas, but he would have contacts at Oxford where he/Harry could find other ideas. The downside is that, by involving the non magical world, his family and those contacts will become bigger targets. And I suspect Harry would be loathe to expose them with an unknown enemy with largely unknown capabilities.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T00:40:54.972Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Getting his father (or just about anyone) up to speed enough to be able to help within the six hour window seems unlikely. The problem isn't motivation.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T21:29:47.356Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could you propose a specific way that a high-end biochemist can help with the condition in which Hermoine happen to be?

Replies from: htns
comment by htns · 2013-07-04T22:10:57.957Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At least he is someone with something resembling medical training, which is some big potential to help, since harry wasn't even clear on how to use a first aid kit.

At first I thought that Harry just sitting there was counter-productive, but then I remembered they probably wouldn't let him kidnap muggles even for a night. However his father would be brought in promptly if Harry asked that.

Also I tried to do some fact checking while typing this, but it turns out new chapters had come out (so I'll drop this and go read them instead).

comment by Vaniver · 2013-07-02T16:05:01.091Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The biggest problem I see with this is that in the past, Harry felt his father did not take him seriously. However, he now has power his father knows not, and he has resolved to do anything to bring her back - he could credibly threaten his father's career, for example.

If his father does not take him seriously, then credible threats are both difficult and costly (because once you have made the threat and they dismiss you, then you need to follow through).

Harry is also bad at threatening, and so I would not recommend it to him even if it were optimal for one with more skill.

Replies from: cywtLC2Fy8A
comment by cywtLC2Fy8A · 2013-07-02T16:55:18.749Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agree; that's not what I meant. I expect him to try any and all sorts of persuasion.

My point was that getting as far as a threat to his career would be acceptable in Harry's current state of mind; credible is not part of my point, but I think he could pull it off; and I think that would be sufficient.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-02T05:54:08.180Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does anyone else here use dictionary of numbers (recommended on the xkcd blag)?

Hermione's body should now be at almost exactly five degrees Celsius [≈ recommended for keeping food cool].

Replies from: Solvent, Alsadius, bbleeker
comment by Solvent · 2013-07-02T10:49:03.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not only do I use that, it means that your comment renders as:

Hermione's body should now be at almost exactly five degrees Celsius [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool].

to me.

Replies from: DanielLC
comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-02T18:53:40.022Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You forgot that I use it too. That means that your comment looks like

Hermione's body should now be at almost exactly five degrees Celsius [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool].

For everyone not using dictionary of numbers, that looks like

Hermione's body should now be at almost exactly five degrees Celsius [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool].

Replies from: TrE, Decius
comment by TrE · 2013-07-02T21:03:07.194Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Now, I think the line is crossed where it gets less and less funny each further iteration.

Replies from: DanielLC
comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-03T00:34:35.904Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't worry. If we repeat it long enough, it will be funny again (Warning: TV Tropes).

Hermione's body should now be at almost exactly five degrees Celsius [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool] [≈ recommended for keeping food cool].

Replies from: malcolmocean
comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-07-03T18:26:53.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't have believed you, but I actually laughed out loud at this. Empirical evidence = it's funny, to me at least.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:17:58.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sounds like an update to the plugin is in order: render both

five degrees Celsius


five degrees Celsius [≈ recommended for keeping food cool]


five degrees Celsius [≈ recommended for keeping food cool]

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T04:35:08.343Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Possibly the latter should have [sic] as well, just because the presence of it in the original could be relevant.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-03T05:38:16.127Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's just pushing the problem one more down the line; you end up with ... [sic] [sic].

Color code it?

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T06:29:46.410Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

[sic] [sic x2] [sic x3] etc.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T06:30:38.788Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You don't want the meat to spoil, after all.

comment by bbleeker · 2013-07-02T14:57:36.909Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm switching from Firefox to Chrome, just so I can use this extension.

Replies from: bbleeker
comment by bbleeker · 2013-07-11T17:06:37.433Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Switching back to FF. I download a lot of .zip files, and sometimes I need to save them and other times I just want to extract the contents quickly. FF asks me what I want to do every time, but in Chrome I have to download a .zip first before I can extract it, then delete it afterwards. (The same sort of thing goes for other file types, but the .zip thing is the most annoying.)

comment by mare-of-night · 2013-07-04T02:07:11.562Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder if resurrection via transfiguration is possible? It's probably too simple a solution narrative-wise, but it seems like something a reductionist should at least try.

Harry and Hermione's failed attempt to transfigure a lost book is evidence against this working, since that also involved transfiguring something specific that contains information. But magic has enough strange rules that there are plausible reasons why that could fail but transfiguring a specific person could succeed - maybe you can't transfigure a specific thing while the original still exists, or something like that.

Harry would probably want to start with some less ethically risky experiments, to avoid making a doomed conscious that doesn't want to die. He could check whether transfiguring a copy of a brain works by having someone else train an animal to do something unusual, and then trying to transfigure an object into that animal. He'd know it worked if the trainer observed the animal doing the thing it was trained to do. (The person doing the transfiguration shouldn't know what knowledge the animal has that makes it unusual, so that they have to transfigure that specific animal, not just an animal with the same appearance that knows the same trick.) For good measure, he should try doing this after killing the original.

If that worked, he'd have to find someone extremely good at sustaining transfigurations to transfigure Hermione, since he wouldn't want her to keep re-dying each time the transfiguration wore off. For it to be a permanent solution, Hermione would have to learn how to transfigure herself like a troll, which could take a while.

Now that I think about it, it should at least be possible to transfigure an inanimate object into a non-specific muggle, if it's possible to transfigure an object into a non-specific animal. If anyone ever did that, it's a really, really good thing they kept it a secret. (No one sees a problem with killing a pig by turning it back into a desk, or burning a transfigured chicken inside a bubblehead charm, and muggles already have less-than-human legal status. Someone might transfigure very short-lived servants, or worse.)

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-03T08:33:02.920Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

An idea I read on the HPMoR subreddit that I don't remember finding here is that "the very stars in heaven" could refer to the Blacks (Every last one of them that we know of has star, constellation or galaxy-related names, including Draco). Hermione also offered "the skeleton is a key" as a hypothetical for what a prophecy that means "Susan Bones has to be there" might sound like, and Hermione did study prophecy on Harry's urging, and we know that Hermione retains book knowledge much better than Harry, though this is still rather weak evidence for a stars -> Blacks style riddle. It did seem pretty unlikely that Belatrix/Sirius would have a reasonable way to reenter the story in the time that remains, but that particular interpretation of the prophecy does point that way--and they are unclosed plot parentheses in the story's final stretch.

Side note: Narcissa was a Black by birth (Belatrix's sister, in fact), and "stars in heaven" is, as other readers have pointed out, an odd phrasing for what would normally be called "the heavens", but not particularly odd if heaven = happy afterlife or wireheading.

Replies from: monsterzero, ygert
comment by monsterzero · 2013-07-06T02:57:58.141Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The word "very" in this sense means "literal". The prophecy is talking about actual stars.

Replies from: malcolmocean
comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-07-22T11:48:29.979Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"very" is the original "literally". I.e. it used to mean "verily" or "in actual fact" and has gone through the same process that "literally" is going through now, where it's just intensive. "really" went through this process shortly after "very" did.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-03T10:13:12.957Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting idea. Unlikely though. PredictionBook link.

Replies from: CAE_Jones
comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-04T10:40:57.945Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed, unless of course Quirrell realizes it is a possible interpretation, at which point he either throws members of the family or their corpses or the tapestry into an airship and manipulates Harry into shredding it. For added effect, he names said airship "The World", then feels much less terrified. (Until Harry applies the principals behind said magical airship to create a magical mech capable of destroying planets, of course!) The defense professor's relationship with puns, however, seems insufficient for him to attempt such a strategy. (Then again, he figured out an interpretation of Harry's ritual chant at the end of Self Actualization...)

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-04T11:45:26.065Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After reading 91 and 92, I'm almost certain that we weren't told something very important about what Harry did from the death of Hermione to the end of chapter 92. I just can't believe Harry Potter, the one who would raze Azkaban at the cost of his life before seeing Hermione send to it would just accept her death and not try to do the impossible again and again to save her. He even swore to "torn apart the fabric of reality" if it's required to help her.

And yet, there are dozens of things he could have tried but apparently didn't try. He didn't try to replace the "oxygenation potion" with a different potion, and when he faced Snape, he didn't even ask Snape if there would be any potion that could be useful. When he met his father, a skilled biochemist, he didn't ask him anything about how to preserve brains. He didn't ask Quirrell if there was a ritual that could freeze Hermione (either cryonics-like, or a kind of temporal stasis) until he discovers a way of resurrecting her. He didn't ask McGonagall if there would be a way to transmute her brain into a diamond-like or whatever substance that would keep the configuration of her brain stable in time. He didn't try to get Hermione to Alcor.

He didn't even try to use his time-turner just to get more time to think and try to find solutions, according to what we were given to read.

So, either he's just so full of pain that he's broken and unable to think, but it doesn't seem at all like that, or he must have tried many other things, much better than those few ideas (some which I got from the comments here). And if he didn't ask anyone for help, while he usually does when needed, it's because he already knew what to do.

comment by GeraldMonroe · 2013-07-02T23:22:58.011Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Prediction : Harry has stolen a march on Quirrelmort. I predict that between the time Professor Mcgonagall unlocked his time turner and Quirrelmort entered the room, he already used the device to visit the library's restricted section.

At least, I hope so : I really want to learn how "spell creation" is done, per EY's interpretation. That will tell us a lot about what magic actually is and what can be done to achieve Real Ultimate Power.

Furthermore, this would be fully rational. Harry's analysis of what to do next should have already made it abundantly clear that he needs to obtain more information, and the restricted section obviously has stuff that might be helpful. And why start on a task now when you can start on it 6 hours ago?

Replies from: Scott Garrabrant
comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2013-07-02T23:31:44.758Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is an error in your analysis. There is no reason to start 6 hours ago, since the alternative is being able to go back 6 hours in the future. Either way, he has the same amount of time. If he finds out he needs to do something in the past, then he could go back. The only difference between researching first and going back first, is that if he researches first, he keeps the option of using the time turner to do something else. (e.g. Use 6 versions of him to do something in parallel at the same time).

When choosing between closing doors available to him and researching, the rationalist researches first.

comment by Macaulay · 2013-07-02T16:16:50.770Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is there a page that lists all of the unresolved hints/clues in MoR? For example, Remembrall-like-a-sun, Bacon's diary, etc.

Replies from: Sherincall
comment by Sherincall · 2013-07-02T19:44:12.310Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This list has been compiled on reddit some time ago. It goes up to chapter 85. Some things have been resolved since then.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-03T02:04:14.390Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Great list. I definitely haven't seen the map errors worked out to my satisfaction. From Chapter 25:

"Still on the fritz," said George.

"Both, or -"

"Intermittent one fixed itself again. Other one's same as ever."

I think at least one of these errors is Tom Riddle, although I'm not sure whether it's the intermittent one or the other one because I'm not sure whether it's more likely to attach to Quirrell or Harry. I don't have any good second candidates.

Replies from: Intrism, Sherincall
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-03T02:29:40.659Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I decided to enumerate all the map errors I could think of.

Name errors: any error in which someone's name is persistently not what you'd expect.

  • Quirrell being named Defense Professor.
  • Anyone (probably Quirrell, maybe Harry) being named Tom Riddle.
  • Quirrell or Harry being named Heir of Slytherin.

Map errors: any error in which the map itself is drawn incorrectly, or in a way you wouldn't expect.

  • The Chamber of Secrets entrance being drawn on the map if/when Quirrell accesses it.
  • Quirrell being drawn inside a wall if/when Quirrell accesses the Chamber of Secrets.
  • If Quirrell can become a spirit, Quirrell being drawn inside a wall when he is in fact inside a wall.
  • Harry being drawn in strange and incorrect places when he's inside of his trunk.

Name persistence errors: any error in which someone changes names.

  • Harry changing names while using his "dark side."
  • Quirrell switching between Quirinus Quirrell and "Defense Professor," possibly when Quirrell "rests."
  • Quirrell being labeled Salazar Slytherin, particularly when he accesses wards.
  • Harry being labeled something more commonly associated with Professor Quirrell when he uses his Potterdar.

Multiple dot errors: any error in which one person is in multiple places.

  • If the Dark Lord can become disembodied (perhaps while Quirrell is "resting"), separate "Quirinus Quirrell" and "Defense Professor" dots in different locations.
  • Any student with a Time-Turner showing up twice on the map.
Replies from: loserthree, linkhyrule5, DanArmak
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T12:51:31.729Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As someone suggested earlier, it's possible that Sirius Black is hiding out as the Weasley owl (the "measured and courteous hoot"). That would fit with Peter Pettigrew being the unfortunate in Azkaban chanting, "I'm not serious."

It's also possible that Pettigrew is hiding out somewhere, I suppose, but that doesn't seem smart.

This also raises the possibility that someone or multiple someones who weren't ever Marauders using small animagus forms to get around the castle, which could show up funny on the map.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-13T00:57:00.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We now also potentially have

  • A hidden troll is marked "Defense Professor".
comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-03T18:42:09.286Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please note that Dumbledore has used the map, and has commanded it to "find Tom Riddle". Many of your suggestions would lead Dumbledore to discover something he hasn't.

Replies from: Intrism
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-03T19:01:07.663Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This isn't so. Quirrell was off campus when Dumbledore used the map. The only suggestion that it eliminates, assuming that Quirrell wasn't using his Potterdar at the time, is the idea that Harry is persistently labeled Tom Riddle.

comment by Sherincall · 2013-07-03T02:27:45.953Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think Tom Riddle would show up on the map, as Dumbledore drew a circle around Quirrell and presented him to the Hogwarts Security System as "The Defense Professor". I'm guessing the map just taps into that system, so that is all they'll see. It could be the constant one, as all the others show up by name. but I'm not sure they'd make a fuss about that.

As for the intermittent, I'm guessing it's Harry when he wears the Cloak - It is explicitly said that it doesn't just turn you invisible like other cloaks, but hides you completely (except for the eye, apparently).

My other candidate for the intermittent one is Time Turned people, but since several students have Time Turners I'm guessing the twins would figure it out eventually. More likely, it just shows the 'current' version of the person.

...Actually, if that were the case, the map could be used to figure out which of the copies isn't time turned. Not sure what you'd do with that info, though.

Replies from: taelor, gjm, Intrism
comment by taelor · 2013-07-03T08:28:08.106Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My other candidate for the intermittent one is Time Turned people, but since several students have Time Turners I'm guessing the twins would figure it out eventually. More likely, it just shows the 'current' version of the person.

Bear in mind that the official explanation is that Time Turners are used to treat "Spontaneous Duplication". If the map showed multiple copies of a Spontaneous Duplication-sufferer running around, that might be dismissed as a feature, not a bug.

Replies from: tondwalkar
comment by tondwalkar · 2013-07-04T03:33:39.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think "Spontaneous Duplication" is made-up by Minerva or someone as an explaination to wave off anyone who might see mulitple Harrys running around due to the time turner.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T12:03:34.313Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Somehow, I am unable to imagine Minerva flat-out lying to a student about an academic fact such as the existence/symptoms of a disease, certainly not without something truly staggering being at stake.

Replies from: tondwalkar
comment by tondwalkar · 2013-07-08T17:09:16.162Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it sounds the way an official lie would sound, and afaik the consequences of botched time travel are truly staggering.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-08T21:19:33.637Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They start with "the Scotland Crater" and go up from there.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-03T09:08:37.310Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As for the intermittent, I'm guessing it's Harry when he wears the Cloak

If the Weasley twins noticed Harry appearing and disappearing, they wouldn't be calling that "[the] intermittent one", they'd be calling it "Harry" or "Potter" or something. No?

Replies from: Sherincall
comment by Sherincall · 2013-07-03T09:31:35.228Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Also, I assume if they saw Tom Riddle or Salazar Slytherin or some other name they consider utterly evil, they'd tell Dumbledore immediately, rather than dismiss it as a bug. Even if they've never heard of Pascal's Mugging, that's just the sane thing to do.

Replies from: robryk, gjm
comment by robryk · 2013-07-03T09:42:35.044Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do they know who Tom Riddle is/was? I don't remember why they should and in canon it at least isn't common knowledge among students (Ginny didn't recognize the name of the person in the diary).

Replies from: Sherincall
comment by Sherincall · 2013-07-03T13:55:18.732Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are right. I'm updating in favor of "Tom Riddle" showing on the map. Still not convinced because when Dumbledore says "Show me Tom Riddle" the twins don't go "Hey, that's the guy that keeps popping up!". That might have happened off screen, but we don't see any evidence that it did.

EDIT: I have re-read that part, and Dumbledore waits until he is alone in the room to say "Find Tom Riddle".

On the other hand, I admire the poetry where having a taboo on the name and story of Voldemort ultimately dooms you, just because you didn't want to remember and talk about the bad things. Harry even talks about this in one of the early chapters, I believe.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-03T11:14:48.444Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with robryk: they've probably never heard of Tom Riddle. And I fear that if they saw SS's name their reaction would as likely be "hey, cool!" as "OK, let's go and talk to the headmaster".

[EDITED to add: hi, downvoter(s). If you'd like to tell me what you think I did wrong, I can probably try to do it less in future.]

Replies from: fubarobfusco
comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-07-03T21:45:28.711Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wouldn't Tom Riddle have been at school around the same time as the Weasley twins' grandparents?

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T21:58:31.460Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But why would they know the names of people in the school at the same time as their grandparents?

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2013-07-03T22:21:13.358Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And, even if they did, they wouldn't know that Riddle = Voldemort. At least, in canon I think Dumbledore or someone says in so many words that scarcely anyone ever connected the two.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-03T02:36:55.317Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think Harry wears the cloak often enough for the Weasleys to notice it. Even then, a missing Harry could be caused by many things other than the Cloak - perhaps the Weasleys just missed him, for instance, or he could be out to lunch with Quirrell. They'd have to watch him as he put the Cloak on for it to be notable.

... Although, hmm... If memory serves, the interaction of Cloak and Map is discussed in canon. Does anyone remember how that worked?

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-03T03:01:38.105Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If memory serves, the interaction of Cloak and Map is discussed in canon. Does anyone remember how that worked?

Harry Potter Wikia says Lupin saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione under the cloak.

Replies from: atorm
comment by atorm · 2013-07-03T15:41:51.864Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That never made sense to me. Four students built an artifact more powerful than a Deathly Hallow through which Death Himself cannot sense his prey?

Replies from: kilobug
comment by kilobug · 2013-07-03T16:18:15.310Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It may have something to do with the fact that the legitimate owner of the Hallow participated in making the map, but the whole map itself is very overpowered for a group of 4 students to create anyway. If it was possible to create such a map, why wouldn't the Hogwarts authority create it ? It's much more likely that the map was made by someone much more powerful, and only slightly altered by the marauders. Maybe they just added the fact that's usually blank and you've to swear you're up to not good to make it work ?

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan, NancyLebovitz
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-03T19:56:48.640Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's probably why its origin was changed in HPMoR (where, as opposed to in canon, it was originally part of the Hogwarts security system and possibly made by Salazar Slytherin).

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-03T16:29:03.871Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wizards invent much less than they theoretically could, which makes them very much like muggles.

comment by JenniferRM · 2013-07-02T17:31:11.107Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's up with Quirrell's twitching lips in Chapter 90?

"That spell of cursed fire. I don't suppose it's a sacrificial ritual that even a child could use, if he dared?"

The Defense Professor's lips twitched.

And then moments later after being deflected from the spell (which, though not named, is probably Fiendfyre?)

"Pity," the boy said. "It would've been nice to see the look on the enemy's face the next time they tried using a troll."

The Defense Professor inclined his head, his lips twitching again.

At the time I read it I just assumed that Quirrell's plans to turn Harry dark were advancing by leaps and bounds and getting such decisive confirmation was causing him to be happy about what he had wrought. After thinking about it some more I'm now wondering if "THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY STARS IN HEAVEN" is someone who should be playing with fiendfyre? Maybe Quirrell's twitches were a sign of fear or worry based on having private knowledge of the prophesy in Chapter 89, in which case a prophetically ironic strategy adjustment may be in the offing?

Replies from: DanArmak, Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-03T18:40:00.758Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find it incredible that Quirrel would ever show his true emotional state on his face, unless he wanted to. Especially given this chapter's title.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T19:19:03.605Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

McGonagall's lips twitch when she's stifling a smile (this is stated several times in the text). Perhaps the same is true of Quirrell? In the second case, canon!Quirrell is responsible for both trolls that occur in the first book and at least according to Harry Potter Wikia is supposed to have a talent for using trolls. In the first case... I think what happened when Voldemort killed Harry's parents involved a sacrificial ritual (Lily sacrificing her life for Harry), so Quirrell might have found that particular idea ironic. Or maybe he's just amused by the idea of Harry using sacrificial rituals because of previous events.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-07-02T19:46:52.033Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also Dumbledore:

"I recognize the name, Harry," said Dumbledore. The old wizard's lips twitched upward. "Although honesty compels me to say that dear Winston was never one for pangs of conscience, even after a dozen shots of Firewhiskey."

No old uses for Quirrel aside from this:

The Defense Professor's shoulders twitched in a slight shrug, the only movement they'd shown since the battle ended.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-02T10:32:30.692Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wish I could promise you that I would obtain one of those highly guarded tomes from the Department of Mysteries, and pass it to you beneath a disguised cover.

Estimate of the probability Quirrell is talking about Roger Bacon's diary?

Slightly higher probability given that canon Harry (OOtP) has a known propensity for ignoring gifts that could have averted disaster until too late.

Replies from: thomblake, Velorien
comment by thomblake · 2013-07-03T15:16:44.482Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What he means is that he wishes that books on memory charms fit that description - but in fact they're not guarded at all or even in the restricted section of the library.

Replies from: benelliott
comment by benelliott · 2013-07-04T05:57:40.586Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's clearly the first level meaning. He's wondering whether there's a second meaning, which is a subtle hint that he has already done exactly that, maybe hoping that Harry will pick up on it and not saying it directly in case Dumbledore or someone else is listening, maybe just a private joke.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T11:56:43.304Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting idea. However, given that Roger Bacon's diary is of interest as a scientific rather than wizardly historical artefact, and wizards wouldn't know an item of scientific value if it electrocuted them...

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-02T12:14:03.365Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Er, I think he means that it looks like Bacon's Diary but is actually something more precious.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T12:23:53.832Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Palm, meet face. This is what happens when you get too little sleep as a result of staying up waiting for the next chapter.

Thanks for the clarification.

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-02T12:26:20.544Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course, the probability is somewhat lowered, because Quirrell would want to disguise it, and I think that the diary of Roger Bacon would stand out... A little.

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T21:44:44.989Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's also his mothers Potions text. ETA: Which contains a secret that really is pretty terrible.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-02T08:18:40.698Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No comment on the shout out to all the Sith Lords in the audience?

and magics that some might consider to be unnatural?"

I think the previous chapter was already bringing back a lot of Anakin flashbacks.

Replies from: moridinamael, MarkusRamikin
comment by moridinamael · 2013-07-02T15:44:12.482Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think anybody gets as excited by a Prequels reference as they do by an Ender's Game or Naruto reference.

Okay, I did chuckle.

Replies from: Ritalin
comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:43:17.666Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's still interesting to see Palpatine of all people freak out and do his very best to stop Anakin from trying resurrections.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2013-07-02T17:05:22.254Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is clearly a coincidence. The idea that Eliezer Yudkowsky approves of the SW prequels is unseemly, indeed blasphemous. I mean... it can't be true, can it?!

On a slightly (but not much) more serious note: there needs to be a reference to Darth Traya somewhere.

comment by Macaulay · 2013-07-02T02:53:54.850Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He had vanished from where he was standing over the Weasley twins and come into existence beside Harry; George Weasley had discontinously teleported from where he was sitting to be kneeling next to his brother's side

What's going on here? Is it just that Harry isn't paying attention to what's happening around him?

Replies from: JTHM, tim, Skeeve
comment by JTHM · 2013-07-02T05:10:21.606Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, the abruptly-ended and grammatically-incorrect sentence preceding this passage indicates actual discontinuity:

"Dumbledore wasn't being very cooperative, and in any case this was several minutes after the critical location within Time"

Notice the lack of punctuation. The end of this sentence has been lopped off, and deliberately. Eliezer Yudkowsky does not make careless punctuation errors.

Replies from: Dentin, UnclGhost, linkhyrule5
comment by Dentin · 2013-07-02T22:44:03.625Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For some reason, my gut instinct is telling me that this is an abnormally important detail. Hooray pattern matching and cache lookup hardware I suppose.

comment by UnclGhost · 2013-07-17T05:20:38.608Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I interpreted it as Harry being jolted out of his all-consuming inner monologue by Dumbledore suddenly touching his shoulder while he wasn't paying attention to Dumbledore at all.

But Harry didn't see anything helpful he could do using spells in his lexicon, Dumbledore wasn't being very cooperative, and in any case this was several minutes after the critical location within Time

"Harry," the Headmaster whispered, laying his hand on Harry's shoulder. He had vanished from where he was standing over the Weasley twins and come into existence beside Harry; George Weasley had discontinously teleported from where he was sitting to be kneeling next to his brother's side, and Fred was now lying straight with his eyes open and wincing as he breathed. "Harry, you must go from this place."

He wasn't paying attention at all to Dumbledore, Fred, or George, and he's startled by their sudden agency. To me it seems more likely that leaving off in the middle of a sentence as he's startled is a stylistic choice, rather than a particularly meaningful missing period.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T05:53:07.128Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As Harry's just pointed out, though, this is several minutes too late.

It's possible that there's still something a Future!Harry can do, but...

comment by tim · 2013-07-02T03:09:14.724Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, it sounded like a first person perspective of Harry-in-shock to me.

comment by Skeeve · 2013-07-02T15:38:20.769Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Prediction: Harry will attempt to learn Obliviation, use his Time-Turner to go back to before, and attempt to mess with his own head to save Hermione while preserving his own experience of events.

This is more likely to not work than work.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:24:56.517Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are too many principals who interact with Harry afterwards for that explanation to be the easiest unless the story we have read is the False Memory that Future Harry implanted in his prior self after he shoved causal theory into a refrigerator and dropped it into Puget Sound.

Replies from: Skeeve
comment by Skeeve · 2013-07-06T11:09:04.325Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That was originally where I was going with that, but further evidence of Harry's plan (the lack of any use of time-turning until at least six hours after the fact) has pretty well falsified my prediction.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-06T22:16:35.677Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Next easiest: Harry goes back 5 hours, sends a note to original Harry explaining exactly what he has to do to save Hermione; original Harry does the heroics, including setting up a fake death and writing the directions he got, while future Harry executes the actions in the chapter, failing to prevent the death. There's a maneuver somewhere in there where future Harry then snaps his fingers, goes back one hour, and somehow initiates the course of events described (probably by blackmailing time).

The theories have now gotten more unlikely than that Harry got the timey-wimey ball and is prohibited by an unstated rule from preventing a plot event.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T19:39:34.778Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To throw on the pile of random maybe-foreshadowing:

I can well foresee that I am fated to sit in the Headmaster's office and hear some hilarious tale about Professor Quirrell in which you and you alone play a starring role, after which there will be no choice but to fire him. I am already resigned to it, Mr. Potter.

-McGonagall, Chapter 17.

This did get me thinking, however. Firing Quirrell would presumably include removing his registration as "Defense Professor" from the Hogwarts wards. What did adding him to said wards do in the first place? The implication must be that the wards somehow distinguish students and staff from intruders, yet they have never actually prevented anyone from illegally entering Hogwarts, nor alerted anyone to such an intrusion.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T19:41:06.372Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Relating to the foreshadowing part,

Harry nodded, his eyes very wide. Then, after a second, "What do I get if I can make it happen on the last day of the school year?"

Replies from: Scott Garrabrant
comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2013-07-03T20:06:31.037Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is very likely foreshadowing.

How close are we to the last day of the school year? The most recent date is April 16th. Does anyone know when Hogwarts ends in cannon?

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T20:26:25.546Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to the wiki, the end-of-term feast of Harry's first year took place on the 8th of June in canon.

Replies from: Scott Garrabrant
comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2013-07-03T20:33:46.039Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok. Yeah, I think the last story arc will be about Quirrell and will take place in June, which makes me think this one ends without the world ending.

Replies from: Desrtopa
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-04T05:08:40.322Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am less confident than I was before that the plot will resolve before the academic year is over.

I considered the possibility of some sort of timeskip in which Harry is engaged in intensive research, but weighing against that, I strongly doubt that Harry is going to bring back a twelve year old Hermione at a point when he himself has grown substantially older.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T06:41:32.426Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Remember, his motivation isn't to live a life together with Hermione or something. His motivation is for Hermione to live out her life.

Replies from: Desrtopa, Eugine_Nier
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-04T06:54:23.677Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's more probable in narrative terms that there will be at least some respect in which Hermione can remain Harry's peer on restoration.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-04T18:11:26.112Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not convinced this is the case. Or rather I suspect his main motivation is the former, with the latter being a rationalization.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-05T21:28:02.946Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


We've seen nothing but evidence that Harry really does care for Random Bystander #4231. His True Patronus wouldn't work if he didn't genuinely want immortality for everyone.

Even if Harry stops caring for Hermione on a personal level (... not likely), he's still going to get around to resurrecting her in the process of resurrecting everyone.

Replies from: Eugine_Nier
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-06T06:39:40.708Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's reaction to her death suggests he'd be willing to use methods to bring her back that wouldn't work applying to everyone, e.g., some type of equivalent exchange. Heck, most of the more promising ideas for saving Hermione involve killing someone else.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-07-06T22:57:51.500Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wrong. Lots of people came up with ideas that involved that. This is not because those options were better. heck, it was not even because they were any good. Generously, it is because those ideas were more dramatic - fit a certain kind of story logic. They were also very, very likely to fail, because they were much too complex. Far to many things would have to go just right in order for any of them to come off, most of them not under the direct control of the plotter. The only timey-wimy gambit I would even attempt in their place is the one I suggested - a substitution of the injection Harry gave her, because that is a single change that does not violate the observed course of events.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T10:37:30.124Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Came up with an idea of a method to ressurrect Hermione.

  1. Cnvag n cvpgher bs Urezvbar
  2. Nfx vs fur vf frys-njner.
Replies from: Mestroyer, ygert, ChristianKl, Decius
comment by Mestroyer · 2013-07-02T13:04:15.074Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Brute force method:

  1. Precommit to create a paradox if whatever arranges time in consistent loops doesn't give you what you want.
  2. If you don't get what you want, receive a red or green slip of paper from your future self. Use time turner, hand to your past self whatever color of paper you didn't get. If you find that the paper has "Do not mess with time" on it, for the slip you hand to your past self, instead write "Fuck you, time."
  3. Discover secrets of Atlantis, hack time travel, etc.

    The problem with this is that time can adjust to avoid the paradox at any point in the timeline, which means that if you are a person who would try to exploit this, the sperm that would have created you was outraced by another one. So perhaps existing depends on not using this. (Parfit's Hitchhiker)

Replies from: Alejandro1, Ritalin
comment by Alejandro1 · 2013-07-02T14:25:34.530Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or, if you try to use this and commit to be really serious about it, you get struck by a meteorite before completing the paradox. Or slip on a banana peel and bash your head. Or a get mauled by a troll. Some external cause comes in and prevents you from fulfilling your paradox.

Replies from: Will_Newsome
comment by Will_Newsome · 2013-07-03T01:42:11.761Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or you never come up with the idea in the first place.

Replies from: Mestroyer, Will_Newsome
comment by Mestroyer · 2013-07-03T03:30:07.351Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or abiogenesis never happened in the first place. That seems a lot simpler than nudging tons of different humans later.

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-24T04:54:38.912Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you know, for some reason that actually strikes me as more terrifying than the fabric of time-space collapsing. Which is incredibly human-centric, since it prioritizes the existence of humanity over the extinction of every species in the universe, and yet is true nevertheless.

I will have to think on this.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2013-07-04T03:33:06.262Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(A deeper insight: "anthropic selection" is what you call a source of optimization that you don't know how to characterize. Existent writing about anthropics is only somewhat cognizant of this.)

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:39:34.060Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by ygert · 2013-07-02T14:16:29.427Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The second bit does not accurately distinguish between a frys-njner ragvgl naq n aba-frys-njner ragvgl gung whfg vf "cebtenzzrq" jvgu gur erfcbafr bs "lrf" gb "ner lbh frys njner?". Hayrff lbh ner vzcylvat gung fbzrubj nfxvat gur dhrfgvba jvyy znxr gur cnvagvat orpbzr frys-njner fbzrubj?

Replies from: robryk
comment by robryk · 2013-07-02T19:47:00.851Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that ikrase wants to draw a parallel with the fbegvat ung.

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T21:48:33.591Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. Plus Harry jbeevrq nobhg qbvat vg gb n cnvagvat fubegyl yngre.

Replies from: ygert
comment by ygert · 2013-07-03T10:25:21.209Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm. I didn't think cnvagvatf jbexrq yvxr gur fbegvat ung va gung erfcrpg. Gurl zvtug, ohg V fgvyy guvax vg zber yvxryl gung Uneel jnf whfg jbeelvat bhg bs n frafr bs pnhgvba.

Va nal pnfr, vs lbhe cyna fhpprrqf, lbh znqr na ragvgl gung orunirf yvxr Urezvbar, cyhf gura lbh znqr vg frys-njner. Gung fgvyy qbrfa'g zrna vg'f Urezvbar, whfg gung vg vf n frys-njner ntrag gung npgf yvxr Urezvbar, Frys-njnerarff vf n arprffnel pbaqvgvba sbe na ntrag gb or Urezvbar, abg n fhssvpvrag bar.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T21:33:26.394Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That method would resurrect something but not the real Hermione.

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T21:39:36.519Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really? That method seems almost identical to uploading Hermione.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-02T21:52:34.890Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In our world Tulpas are mental entities that are somehow self aware.

If you create a Tupla inside your head that's modeled on your friend Alice that died, I wouldn't say that you have ressurected Alice. You have a thoughtform in your head that behaves like you think Alice would behave but it's no real Alice. It's not as good as a real upload.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T20:50:40.167Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That doesn't

Uryc Ibyqrzbeg trg erfheerpgrq, fb Dhveery jvyy fgrre Uneel gb qvssrerag zrgubqf (sbe rknzcyr, ol gryyvat gur abezny crbcyr gung Uneel fubhyq or qvffhnqrq sebz svthevat bhg ubj gb erfheerpg crbcyr ol 'gur abezny zrnaf')

Unless it does...

comment by shminux · 2013-07-02T08:09:26.916Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who are the (remaining) PCs in the story? Harry, Dumbledore, Quirrell, Moody... Anyone else?

Replies from: Discredited, somervta
comment by Discredited · 2013-07-02T12:22:51.823Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Draco and Lucius, Snape, Bellatrix, Amelia Bones. Maybe the Weasley parents or Nicholas Flamel. I haven't given up on Minerva. Grindelwald is still alive and undemented.

Replies from: Fhyve, Ritalin
comment by Fhyve · 2013-07-02T20:28:13.128Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And mentioned numerous times.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:44:04.784Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It would be awesome for the latter to show up...

comment by somervta · 2013-07-02T10:52:59.529Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Snape, potentially.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-02T04:12:54.669Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Curious; when I read Professor Quirrel going into "protect the information from Harry Potter" mode for Macgonnagle, I almost immediately thought this was deeper than "I've changed my mind and it is no longer a good day and holyshit he's going to kill us". The overwhelming majority of readers assume he is being sincerely cautious in an effort to save the universe. I was assuming that there was obviously a slightly deeper plot involved, though I hadn't gotten far in thinking about what before I read the suggestions about alternative sources such as the Chamber of Secrets.

(Harry's lecture to Macgonnagle on identity-based strategy actually made me realize something about myself I feel is worth analysis... somewhere. I may or may not get back on that if I figure out if it's worth publishing.)

Replies from: MarkusRamikin, Velorien, Qiaochu_Yuan, Vaniver, DanielLC, Benito, mare-of-night
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2013-07-02T09:18:55.662Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To me it seemed obvious that Quirrel was just taking the opportunity to isolate Harry from Dumbledore-and-co. He's always tried to make Harry distrust Dumbledore. Now Harry will find them even more obstructionist to his goals, so he will only have Quirrel to go to with his ideas and plans.

I wouldn't be surprised if the next thing we see is Quirrel supplying Restricted books to Harry.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2013-07-02T22:33:49.493Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is definitely true, because he was encouraging Harry in private before setting McGonagall to oppose him.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T23:14:30.206Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's more likely that while Quirrell wants Harry to be dependent on him for information, he also doesn't plan on telling him very much. He's keeping Harry away from people who are (relatively) easy to manipulate (see: McGonagall just took Harry at his word and undid his Time Turner lock), and making sure that he's the one with a final say as to what Harry does and does not know.

Insofar as he can, anyway. We'll see how well that works. Quirrell's deflection w.r.t. spell creation was sufficiently obvious that Harry's probably noticed, which in turn means that he'll be making his own plans.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-02T12:03:59.680Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given the chapter title, the first thought that leapt into my mind is "he's being exactly what Harry wants/expects to see, then being exactly what Minerva wants/expects to see, leaving no-one including us aware of what he actually wants or is actually going to do". Malus points to Minerva for the fact that he told her straight out what he was doing to Harry, but it didn't occur to her whether he might be doing the same to her.

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T20:54:50.084Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

She didn't give any indication that the possibility occured to her, so she's either one level down or a full level above Quirrel.

My prediction is that Znptbaantyr vf n yriry qbja, ohg gung Qhzoyrqber vf n yriry nobir jurer Dhveery rkcrpgf uvz gb or.

Replies from: Fermatastheorem
comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-02T21:50:07.661Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does Dumbledore observe Quirrell's interaction with either Harry or McGonagall?

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T22:14:42.609Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not that I know of. That isn't a requirement for Dumbledore to be GenreSavvy enough to effectively manipulate Quirrell and/or Harry.

Has Dumbledore ever done anything for Quirrell or Harry that he didn't want to?

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T05:03:14.731Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's wrong with assuming that Quirrell wants to keep the universe intact? Quote:

I have no great fondness for the universe, but I do live there.

comment by Vaniver · 2013-07-02T16:07:28.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's lecture to Macgonnagle on identity-based strategy actually made me realize something about myself I feel is worth analysis... somewhere. I may or may not get back on that if I figure out if it's worth publishing.

I get the impression that this is a known part of the LW-sphere, but since no articles immediately come to mind that suggests there's space for one. I recommend committing to write something, and then deciding whether to put it into main or discussion based on how good you think it is at some specified point in the future.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-02T05:51:30.917Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought it might have been that he doesn't want Harry to destroy himself doing something stupid before he could take over the universe.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-02T12:17:39.893Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seemed to me that Quirrel just wants to prevent Harry from bringing Hermione back so she doesn't affect his judgements (positively, but negatively for Quirrel).

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T20:52:06.608Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrel want's Harry to solve the general-case bring-someone-back problem, because Voldemort wants that problem solved.

Replies from: Fermatastheorem
comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-02T21:44:05.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree, but he also doesn't want the universe destroyed in the process.

comment by mare-of-night · 2013-07-02T22:00:51.954Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In light of all the talk about heroic responsibility, my first thought was that if he really, really wanted Harry kept away from those books, he'd steal them or something. (This specific method isn't a very good one because it would raise suspicion, but there has to be a better way to keep them from Harry than going through Macgonnagle.) And maybe he was hoping that Harry would notice the increased wards and try to go there because of it, but that seems like he might be assuming too much.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-07-03T00:10:01.435Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

he'd steal them or something

Such was warding the books rather than the entire Restricted Section. However, Quirrel seems to want to keep Harry away from quite a bit of knowledge: not just particular books, but the entire Restricted Section; not just random spell creation bits, but the entire field of spell creation. This suggests to me that there no single book that is problematic, but any book dealing with the topic at all beyond the fake "usual evasions". If that's the case, then he can't do much else - what is he going to do, abscond with an entire wing of the library?

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-03T02:35:01.204Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that warding books A, B, and C leaks more bits of information than warding all restricted books.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-07-03T02:42:53.977Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a good point too.

comment by purpleposeidon · 2013-07-02T21:06:16.406Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The narration in chapters 88 and 89 have left quite a bit of room for Weasley Twin shenanigans. They are referred to as "the twins" and "Fred or George" up until one gets beat up by the troll. Additionally, the twins gave a respectful nod to McGonagall's demand that they stay in the Great Hall; they could have stayed there the entire time. Harry might have been accompanied by, say, Future Fred and Further Future Fred during his broom flight. I am not sure what the use of this would be, but it might involve them being a hive mind.

Replies from: purpleposeidon, cody-bryce
comment by purpleposeidon · 2013-07-03T07:32:54.863Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This has got me quite convinced that Fred and Fred is going to happen. They are probably connected magically, rather than acoustically, so they might be able to communicate across time. This setup might create the time beacon Harry was wanting.

Or, maybe their connection does not link through time. Send a pair of Weasleys back in time. You now have 4 Weasleys. Wait not-quite-an-hour, and then send 4 Weasleys back in time… 4 Weasleys is twice the number of Weasleys. Are N Weasleys N/2 times as smart as 2 Weasleys? No. It is much more interesting if it is the connections that matter. HE is the Weasley hivemind.

Replies from: chrisfarms, gjm
comment by chrisfarms · 2013-07-03T12:09:06.348Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There was an off-the-cuff line back in Ch25:

Back in the old days, whenever magical identical twins were born, it had been the custom to kill one of them after birth.

I wonder if there is something more to a magical twin connection, that may have even caused problems (confusing the source of magic?), or if this was just a comment on how dark/backwards things were in the old days.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-03T20:44:27.485Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it was mostly something along the lines of "there's no point, you're just going to have two of the same person."

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-03T21:20:05.231Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One does not customarily kill newborn children merely because they're "unnecessary".

Replies from: Ritalin, linkhyrule5
comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-04T07:08:51.486Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Preislamic arabs were infamous for that kind of post-birth birth control. Romans also practiced the same thing: a roman had the right and privilege to kill his descent whenever and however he saw fit. So, it's customary when it's customary.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T06:44:32.406Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

... Yes?

Just because it was "done in the old days" doesn't mean it's the right thing to do...

Replies from: Desrtopa
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-04T07:08:00.944Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the issue is more that it's not a very compelling reason to kill a newborn even by ancient standards.

I suspect it's more to do with two identically-minded people being fundamentally creepy and/or dangerous.

If everyone else ultimately acts primarily in their own self interest, but identically minded twins value each other equally to themselves and always cooperate, and see themselves as an in-group of two to which everyone else is an out-group (which may be a natural result of being able to compare all those different-from-you people to someone who's completely the same as you,) then they might be a nuisance ranging to a major hazard to the rest of society.

If Fred and George's mischief making is typical for wizarding twins, it would explain why ancient society wanted fewer of them.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-03T09:09:32.120Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upvoted because, although I'm about 99.9% sure it's not remotely what Eliezer has in mind, it's a lovely idea.

comment by cody-bryce · 2013-07-02T23:49:34.292Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They gave a respectful nod because they are smartasses.

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-24T04:29:34.606Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...what? They have a respectful nod because they recognized the seriousness of the situation, that it was not a time for pranks.

They only left when the situation got more serious yet, and they pseudo-remembered that they could help.

comment by cousin_it · 2013-07-02T12:09:13.460Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, uh, why isn't Harry trying to save Neville?

I have experiments to run
There is research to be done
On the people who are still alive

Replies from: ygert
comment by ygert · 2013-07-02T14:35:57.915Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Neville is neither dead, nor in immediate danger. In light of what happened to Hermione, in particular how all their precautions were bypassed, they will want to up Neville's security level, and I think it likely that this will come up before the arc is over, but I would not say that it has immediate level urgency.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-04T06:03:42.429Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since no one here has mentioned it (as far as I see), note that Harry spends a significant portion of chapter 91 checking his watch every two minutes. Also note the sentence beginning,

From the outside you would've just seen . . .

Given the frequency and the aforementioned sentence, I think it's not likely that he's just counting down the time till dinner. He could be distracting himself, but he keeps it up during the conversation with his parents. Also, HPJEV is presumably familiar with such a common method of distracting oneself when thinking painful thoughts.

For the record, my current bet is that he used his time-turner and some transfiguration to do something with Hermione's body. The first thing that comes to mind is partial transfiguration of her brain into something much more durable. Taking her entire body is also an option if he can work up a passable fake.

Replies from: bogdanb
comment by bogdanb · 2013-07-05T10:53:42.322Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, note that chapters 88 and 89 are titled "Time pressure", and the exact date and time is specified repeatedly throughout the text. In addition, there’s something funny in chapter 90: Right before Harry has the hypothermia idea, there's a discontinuity:

[The Headmaster] had vanished from where he was standing over the Weasley twins and come into existence beside Harry; George Weasley had discontinously teleported from where he was sitting to be kneeling next to his brother's side, and Fred was now lying straight with his eyes open and wincing as he breathed.

Right after Harry explains the Frigideiro, there’s this:

Fred and George started sobbing.

Which suggests a time loss (likely someone messing with Harry’s memory, the discontinuity sounds a bit like what Mr. Hat did). The sobbs might be because the twins knew what happened during that time, and realized that too long passed for the spell to do anything.

Harry also looks at the Time Turner when he gets it unlocked, and seems to notice or confirm something.

There’s a lot going on here we’re not told.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-03T03:00:22.989Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Chapter 90 now ends with a note that says:

There are no Author's Notes for this chapter. I will quickly remark that this chapter (and further ones up to Ch. 96) were written in advance and did not change in response to any reader speculations.

I did not notice this note when I first looked at the chapter. Does anyone know if this went up with the first posting or was edited in later? If it was edited in later, maybe we should take the random speculations more seriously. If it went up with the first post, then the same point may hold, but with regards to 88-89.

Replies from: gwern, Benquo, loserthree
comment by gwern · 2013-07-03T03:16:00.272Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't notice it either. But Eliezer posted this comment on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/HPMOR/comments/1hh5ph/ch90_salvaging_gender_bias_in_hpmor/cauafkt He may've felt the need to bring it to wider attention.

Replies from: loserthree
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T13:01:28.164Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

ye shall also know that any events occurring there were also of my own impulse and not a halfhearted sop to feminists

Why would we think that? We would think that if he unfridged Hermione.

That is pretty strong evidence that Hermione will be resurrected sooner, rather than later. So I guess the ending where Harry resurrects everyone ever maybe won't seem more likely when this arc is complete.

Unless this is the end.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-03T20:43:42.998Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternatively, McGonagall will become a PC.

comment by Benquo · 2013-07-03T03:22:38.056Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer added it in response to reader speculations.

comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T12:58:44.945Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So we know, for egotistical example, that he did not add "Dumbledore had looked down over the side of the terrace and made a gesture before returning" in response to my post that included risking transfiguration sickness on the list of things for which Harry could get in trouble.

Or, at least, we know that is what the author wishes us to believe. dun dun daaaaaaaah

comment by Benquo · 2013-07-02T19:23:33.012Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"In any case," said the man, "if there is anyone who can be said to be responsible for Miss Granger's death, it is myself, not you. It is I, not you, who should have -"

"I perceive that you have spoken to Professor McGonagall and that she has given you a script to follow." The boy did not bother keeping the bitterness from his voice. "If you have something to say to me, Professor, say it without the masks."

My confidence that Quirrel did it just shot up from 90% to 99%.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-02T03:22:26.645Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This chapter showed that, if it appears that a Time Turner wasn't used, they don't try to use it. Presumably, the reverse is also true. If it appears that it is used, they use it.

I've always figured that the rules deciding which stable time loop were something along the lines of the more likely it is for an event to cause itself, the more likely it is that one happens. If you want a specific time loop to happen, such as giving yourself a paper that factors a given semiprime, you'd make it so that happening causes itself, by copying down the factors if they are correct, and make it so it not happening causes a paradox, by writing something else down. This way, a high portion of time loops are the ones you like.

That can't happen here. They try to cause whatever happened. This means that any stable time loop that isn't too difficult to carry out is equally likely to work. It's implied that there's some sort of force at work here. While it's conceivable that most of the stable time loops with Harry factoring a semiprime were in the same reference class as "DON'T MESS WITH TIME TRAVEL", Dumbledore later managed to use the effect to gain actual information: the time travel he was about to attempt shouldn't be attempted. What's interesting here, though, is that it seems to imply that this force isn't just something that manifests when they do something wrong. It always chooses the time loop. Or more accurately, the rules that I had assumed worked whenever someone wasn't messing with time travel never work. The theory was completely wrong, instead of being something that breaks down under odd circumstances.

And I still wonder: why did the force let Harry do everything he ever wanted to do with time travel before, but then stop him now.

That force just made a very dangerous move. Perhaps it's not trying to do anything like paradox avoidance, as the "DON'T MESS WITH TIME TRAVEL" suggested. Perhaps it's trying to avoid all future paradoxes, by making Harry end the world. I've read about one story where attempting to abuse time travel resulted in the sun going nova. This is might be the same idea, but on a larger scale.

Replies from: JenniferRM, chrisfarms
comment by JenniferRM · 2013-07-02T07:10:29.151Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Back in the story's early days I predicted that prime factoring wouldn't work, because then the story wouldn't be about rationality any more... it would be about time travel. If my theory and your theory are syncretized then "the force" here is simply "Eliezer's plot generation efforts which will output a story consistent with his broader authorial intent".

In this model, the way the characters might be able to choice-fully manipulate "the force that chooses time loops" to give them what they want is by being genre savvy enough to have their planning process be the one that functions as a positive example of science informed x-rationality leading to good outcomes, and the stable time loops that come into existence won't be super dramatic, but they will helpfully nudge them closer to x-rationality-demonstrating victories. Harry's unlocked time turner (as of Chapter 90) becomes more interesting in this light.

However, it seems like there's an element of irony in this framing, because there is almost no scientific evidence that I'm aware of in the heuristics and biases literature (nor inspirational essays in Eliezer's sequences) that the skill of genre-savvy-ness is useful in real life. On the downside I've heard that keeping a diary may have a causal role in depression. On the upside I've also heard that reading more novels than normal tends to give people better "other human modeling" skills that can translate into higher salaries. But neither of these sorts of prosaic angles seem central to LW culture?

Replies from: DanielLC
comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-02T19:05:34.449Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If my theory and your theory are syncretized then "the force" here is simply "Eliezer's plot generation efforts which will output a story consistent with his broader authorial intent".

In a sense, this goes without saying. All stories run on narrative causality. However, part of what makes a story interesting is that it follows consistent laws. There's no drama in a cliffhanger if gravity isn't here to stay. Similarly, the time loops are much more interesting if they're controlled by the characters' intents and abilities, rather than directly based on what fits the plot.

However, it seems like there's an element of irony in this framing, because there is almost no scientific evidence that I'm aware of in the heuristics and biases literature (nor inspirational essays in Eliezer's sequences) that the skill of genre-savvy-ness is useful in real life.

If it's not useful, then that just means that you're wrong genre savvy.

comment by chrisfarms · 2013-07-02T15:53:47.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought it was more that we are just following the story in one of the very lucky universes that has no paradoxes.

Say there are LOTS (not infinite, but unimaginably large number) of universes. One for every configuration, every difference, every spontaneously created particle.

If a paradox is created, the universe ends. (or never was; depending on how you think about it).

We are following a story in one of the universes that did not end due to paradox.

In another one of these universes, harry continued with his experiment. This universe was never meant to be, and in fact it never was. Nobody was around in this universe to write a story about it.

In another one of these universes a toaster materialized out of nowhere next to harry. It stopped his time-travel experiment, and also confused him for the rest of his life. This story was confusing.

In another one of these universes our solar system was never formed. This story was dull.

In one of these universes something clicked in Harrys mind and made him impulsively send back a note saying "DON'T MESS WITH TIME TRAVEL" . This deterred further advances down this road, triggered a desire to send the note back and averted a paradox. This universe continued existing, and made for a good story.

Replies from: DanielLC
comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-02T18:58:08.345Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought it was more that we are just following the story in one of the very lucky universes that has no paradoxes.

That's like saying that we live in one of the very lucky universes that follow the laws of physics.

It's not entirely inaccurate. When you talk about stuff in math, it's common to do something along the lines of taking a universe of sets, and narrowing them down to the one you want. We take all possible universes, then ignore the ones that don't start with the big bang, then ignore all the ones where any moment contains a violation of the laws of physics, and we end up with our universe.

If a paradox is created, the universe ends. (or never was; depending on how you think about it).

Those are two very different things. One results in entire universes existing before being destroyed. The other only involves one universe.

comment by EndlessStrategy · 2013-07-03T09:01:49.203Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The most obvious reason for Quirrel's actions at the end of this chapter is to prevent the prophecy from coming true. The next most obvious, and what I think is correct, is that he's taking those precautions because he wants to make sure Harry doesn't die before he makes the prophecy come true.

Replies from: William_Quixote, DanArmak
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-03T20:46:14.849Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Professor Quirrell spoke with eyes half-lidded, looking out like through slits. "More than the question of whom the prophecy spoke - who was meant to hear it? It is said that fates are spoken to those with the power to cause them or avert them.


Quirrell is of the view that prophecies are sometimes of things that can be prevented.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-03T18:30:42.985Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But a prophecy can't be prevented from coming true. Otherwise it would just be a prediction.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-07-03T18:35:43.089Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But how it comes true is very flexible, and we are warned repeatedly against any simple naive notion like 'a prophecy will come true literally as you think it will', in http://hpmor.com/chapter/86 http://hpmor.com/chapter/28 http://hpmor.com/chapter/72 (especially chapter 86 - why would Merlin bother with a Hall if it was as futile as all that?).

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T01:02:53.161Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's worth noting that Harry's prophecy is partially imperative and partially conditional.

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-03T08:12:35.131Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been wondering about how the Hogwarts wards work. It seems quite contradictory to me that they need a complex setup with a spell killing Draco very slowly to not trigger them, but they aren't triggered when Hermione is critically wounded by having her two legs eaten. If there is a ward warning Dumbledore or the teacher staff when a student is in danger, then Hermione would have been saved, by Dumbledore phoenix-travelling to her before her death (or McGonagall sending a Patronus to Dumbledore so he phoenix-travels if only the teachers within Hogwarts are warned).

Replies from: Izeinwinter, alex_zag_al
comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-07-03T11:25:32.650Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The workaround used on Draco could credibly be the work of a hogwarts student. That was needed because it was intended to be blamed on Hermione. The hit on Hermione did not have that constraint -it is blatantly, obviously, undeniably, the work of a master wizard. The fact that the wards were fucked with is just one stone in the pile of evidence that this was not the work of a fellow student with a grudge, but the work of someone like Bellatrix, Lucius,Voldemort, or a highly competent wand-for-hire.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2013-07-04T01:10:36.556Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure, imagine that whoever killed Draco just did it by cutting off his legs. He would die, Dumbledore would arrive, and catch him. No way to avoid it - Dumbledore can use the time-turner to watch the murder.

The point of evading the wards isn't to ensure the success of the hit, it's to make sure that nobody hears about the death until the six-hour limit hides the murder.

Both Hermione's death and the complex setup used to kill Draco are consistent with wards that respond only to death.

Replies from: kilobug, jsalvatier
comment by kilobug · 2013-07-04T07:55:23.995Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Chapter 79 says clearly : « The clear intent of the Blood-Cooling Charm had been to kill Draco Malfoy so slowly that the wards of Hogwarts, set to detect sudden injury, would not trigger. » So... why didn't the wards detect "sudden injury" when Hermione legs were eaten ?

comment by jsalvatier · 2013-07-05T19:22:21.579Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which brings up the question: has Dumbledore use his time-turner to observe who let the troll in?

comment by Atelos · 2013-07-03T05:57:49.834Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems to me that Harry was a bit too quick to dismiss the Resurrection Stone option. Certainly if it functions according to his current conceptions of it it won't bring Hermione back in the sense he finds meaningful. However the experience of that soul/magic explosion at Hermione's death gives at least some evidence of a soul actually existing, even if still not enough to make it the most probable explanation for the stone's function, and there are other non-soul requiring ways that the stone could function such as looking back in time for the most recent functioning mind. Given the potential difficulty in finding it and the legend about how it's actually counterproductive its still probably not worth spending much effort pursuing it if you don't already know that pursuing it = convincing Riddle/Quirrelmort to go fetch it out from whatever defences he has it under or breaking them yourself, but he should still probably have put a bit more thought into it before rejecting it.

Replies from: CAE_Jones
comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-03T06:16:42.867Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The impression I got from canon is that it works exactly as HJPEV believes even in the Rowlingverse; there is some evidence against this (the resurrected marauders insisting that death doesn't hurt, LIMBO! Dumbledore's information might not be things Harry could have figured out on his own), but as I recall, one of the resurrected ones said "We're part of you, after all", and Dumbledore's "Well of course it's in your head! But why should that make it any less real?" Even if there is an afterlife in the Rowlingverse, it seems like she really did not intend for there to be any method of communicating with it.

Of course, HJPEV does not have access to a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so you're right that he's privileging his hypothesis, and should at least do the obvious test--come up with information that Hermione would know that Harry couldn't figure out on his own, use the stone and ask the Hermione that appears about it.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2013-07-03T09:00:03.795Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the obvious test

Made trickier by the fact that the information needs to be reliably checkable by Harry. And preferably not something he might already have known but mostly-forgotten.

He needs, in other words, a problem in class NP but not P. (Where P is "Potter" rather than "polynomial".)

Replies from: CAE_Jones
comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-03T09:28:01.629Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"The location and description of a specific item in your muggle bedroom" or "Chapter, author, title and quotation from a book that you read but I did not" and "details on your family that you haven't yet told me about" seem like places to start. (The bedroom/family ones require he didn't get any such information over the Christmas break, but from the sounds of it he didn't.)

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T02:45:47.797Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Or if I'd - if I'd only gone with - if, that night -"

Which night is this? Are we talking about Draco here?

Replies from: Benquo
comment by Benquo · 2013-07-02T02:48:22.793Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T19:55:58.619Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I asked the Headmaster to go back and save Hermione and then fake everything, fake the dead body, edit everyone's memories, but Dumbledore said that he tried something like that once and it didn't work and he lost another friend instead.

This sentence is interesting - not least because I had previously assigned a high probability to this being his method of resurrection, but also because it potentially tells us interesting things about time and death in the MoR-verse.

... I'm not entirely sure what, though. That last bit, in particular, that someone else died too when he tried...

Replies from: cody-bryce
comment by cody-bryce · 2013-07-02T23:50:24.852Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The method of resurrection should be 'no resurrection' or I'll have to stop recommending HPMOR.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-03T01:14:11.954Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know. Death is not a holy mystery; death is a problem that should, ultimately, be cheap to solve. I will be very happy if HPMoR ends with the general problem of "people dying" being solved.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-07-03T01:39:30.889Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would be fine if the fic ends with Hermione alive... but Harry had damn well better earn his bittersweet ending.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2013-07-02T14:07:14.409Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dumbledore gave Harry the rock. Relevant? Or Harry just taking advantage of his resources?

Replies from: Scott Garrabrant, loserthree
comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2013-07-02T14:39:30.249Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that large rocks transfigured into something small are in general useful, and Dumbledore knew this.

Replies from: FiftyTwo
comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-07-02T16:15:24.618Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a mention of him being one of the few people who have used transfiguration in combat and lived, I imagine he has a set of techniques like this of which carrying a transfigured rock is the simplest.

Replies from: Ritalin, ikrase
comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:37:18.435Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's... actually pretty brilliant.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-02T21:52:56.442Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have a variety of ideas about transfiguration grenades and things.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-03T04:41:06.470Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Professor McGonagall leaned forwards, her face very hard. "You will absolutely never under any circumstances Transfigure anything into a liquid or a gas. No water, no air. Nothing like water, nothing like air. Even if it is not meant to drink. Liquid evaporates, little bits and pieces of it get into the air. You will not Transfigure anything that is to be burned. It will make smoke and someone could breathe that smoke! You will never Transfigure anything that could conceivably go inside anyone's body by any means.

Replies from: ikrase, Eugine_Nier
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-03T18:30:19.659Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, should be workable with no fluids.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-04T03:37:00.111Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A grenade which does not produce gas? Which does not create anything that enters a person's body? What exactly is your mechanism of action here?

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T04:03:01.418Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, it would produce shrapnel...

I'm a little suprised that when Quirrel was having Harry come up with creative improvised weapons, that Harry did not mention the deliberate use of dangerous transfigurations as a chemical weapon.

The trick is to transfigure a (high-strength metal) shell containing an extremely compressed solid or nonvolatile liquid. The stored energy is in the elastic force.

Specifically, I imagine the following:

  1. Build a compressing machine (can be transfigured, in which case you get to use improbably high tech components.)
  2. Assemble the grenades using natural mundane components.
  3. Pressurize.
  4. Transfigure grenade, but not the machine, into a tiny maintainable form.
  5. Store in pouch or in armored carrier in case of maintain failure.
  6. Finite Incantatem to detonate.

If you can transfigure as fast as Quirrel, you can just transfigure mundane feedstock into this sort of thing pre-charged.

Some pretty simple but custom charms would make this even better.

However, if you can partial-transfigure as fast as Quirrel (and cast the Bubble-head charm, and almost instantaneously cast wandless wordless Finite), you can probably do much better (and more efficiently) with a multilayer system of magical cybernetics (combined with whatever buffs, self-spells, potions, etc already exist), flash-transfigured Iron Man suit parts, and (for the smallest transfiguration-size per output) flash-transfigured antimatter.

I can actually imagine Harry duct-taping a small bottle of water to his wand so that he can always have a ready feedstock for transfiguration.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-04T04:05:31.407Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Shrapnel enters the body. Now, you don't always care about transfiguration safety when you're fighting to kill, but it's still an issue.

Replies from: Intrism
comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T04:14:50.702Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, speaking of shrapnel... If one were to be hit by shrapnel from an object that had been Transfigured into a smaller one, would the shrapnel explode troll-style when the Transfiguration is Finite-d? If so, this seems like an useful effect...

Replies from: ikrase
comment by ikrase · 2013-07-04T07:20:54.628Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thought of it independently.

Tests for Harry to do:

  • Transfigure 100 kg of material into a one microgram antimatter. (Several tons of TNT equivalent, mostly gamma rays.) Detonate in shielded test chamber. Finite. What happens to the charged pions, neutral pions, and gamma rays?
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-04T00:30:14.240Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's always bothered me that we generally see dark wizards doing this.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-04T03:40:56.698Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a safety thing. If you're trying to kill people, you don't care much about their safety.

Replies from: Eugine_Nier
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-04T04:42:31.850Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, I meant dark wizards abusing transfiguration.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T12:04:51.221Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you mind giving a few examples? None spring to mind.

Replies from: Eugine_Nier
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-04T17:48:23.442Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's my point. We don't see dark wizards abusing transfiguration even though it would make sense for them to.

comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T03:22:05.446Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe it really was his father's rock.

Maybe James Potter carried around that specific huge rock, transfigured into something portable, for all the right reasons.

Maybe James even told Dumbledore that if anything every happened to him, Dumbledore should give Harry his cloak, his snitch, and his rock. Dumbles knows that Harry hates Quiddich and the Snitch most of all, so he's holding that one back until he thinks he can present it without it being rejected. The cloak was easy. And he's managed to make Harry carry the rock, so that's got to me making Dead James happy.

I'd suggest that Potters have carried that rock for generations -- for all the right reasons of course -- except that Dumbledore wouldn't ignore heritage like that. He'd call it The Potter Rock or something.

Replies from: falenas108
comment by falenas108 · 2013-09-15T05:13:10.173Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Doesn't he also call the Invisibility Cloak Harry's father's cloak?

comment by shminux · 2013-07-02T08:10:15.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is Harry's Patronus 2.0 out of the bag now?

Replies from: Decius, Ritalin
comment by Decius · 2013-07-02T21:15:30.553Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. The twins know how to keep a secret, even from themselves. Perhaps too well from themselves.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:43:36.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Presumably not, modulo memory charms.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2013-07-02T18:58:18.080Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, he mentions it casually to McGonagall, who did not see it before:

If I'd remembered the Patronus earlier!

Replies from: linkhyrule5, drethelin
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T19:33:02.747Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

All that tells her is that he figured out the Patronus somehow. She doesn't know that there's a 2.0 version.

Neither do F&G, really; it's unique and humanoid, but the real secret is that it kills (un-kills?) Dementors.

Replies from: monsterzero, somervta
comment by monsterzero · 2013-07-06T01:09:29.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The real secret is that once you know why it works, you can never cast Patronus 1.0 again. The humanoid form is a clue, so Harry needs to conceal it.

Killing Dementors is awesome, but in the short term the benefit of showing that ability off does not outweigh the risk of leaving all wizards everywhere defenseless against them.

comment by somervta · 2013-07-04T03:39:39.312Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's also significantly brighter than normal ones (Patroni? Patronuses?)

comment by drethelin · 2013-07-02T19:55:38.940Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was known by the teachers that he could cast Patronus, but that what it was was secret, I think.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2013-07-02T20:18:51.384Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, I thought that only Quirrell, Dumbledore, Draco and Hermione knew about it, and only the first two saw the form.

Replies from: falenas108
comment by falenas108 · 2013-09-15T05:23:10.114Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He basically mentions in front of the entire Wizengamont that he can perform a patronus charm.

Lucius Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "By the report I received, you cannot cast the Patronus Charm, and Dumbledore knows this. The power of a single Dementor nearly killed you. You would not dare venture near Azkaban in your own person -"

"That was in January," said Harry. "This is April."

comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T03:27:32.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It'd been one of the spells he and Hermione had experimented on, a lifetime ago, so he was able to control it precisely, though it had taken a lot of power to affect that much mass. Hermione's body should now be at almost exactly five degrees Celsius.

I feel like this comes off as a bit of an ass pull. It's the suspicious specificity that does it, I think.

It would be easy to prevent that feeling, if you care to and if it's not just me, with a throwaway line in an earlier chapter.

Replies from: arundelo, linkhyrule5, Alsadius
comment by arundelo · 2013-07-02T04:13:46.164Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd say mention in five previous chapters demonstrates that Harry is pretty comfortable with this spell. (I'm highly confident this was intentional on Eliezer's part.)

Replies from: BloodyShrimp
comment by BloodyShrimp · 2013-07-02T06:02:06.460Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

More specifically, in chapter 56:

Kill her and then bring her back, came the next suggestion. Use Frigideiro to cool Bellatrix down to the point where her brain activity stops, then warm her up afterward using Thermos, just like people who fall into very cold water can be successfully revived half-an-hour later without noticeable brain damage. Harry considered this. Bellatrix might not survive in her debilitated state. And it might not stop Death from seeing her. And he'd have trouble carrying a cold unconscious Bellatrix very far. And Harry couldn't remember the research on which exact body temperature was supposed to be nonfatal but temporarily-brain-halting.

He forgot to get his time-turner unlocked, but he remembered to look this up, evidently.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-02T03:48:23.985Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Frigideiro was mentioned, though - when he tests his "dark side," his dark side isn't any more powerful with magic.

Replies from: loserthree
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-02T03:58:25.704Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Frigideiro was mentioned, though - when he tests his "dark side," his dark side isn't any more powerful with magic.

Yeah, but not precision. That's why it's just feel like a bit of an ass pull -- a "butt snag"? -- and why is the way it's so specific is kind of what sets the alarm off for me.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T04:16:19.446Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A cryonics fanboy writing a story about a cryonics fanboy with access to a spell that can freeze a corpse? Specificity is to be expected.

Replies from: CAE_Jones
comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-02T04:31:25.499Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't feel like HJPEV comes across as much of a cryonics fanboy compared to EY. He always has to think for at least a few seconds to think about cooling a corpse--and it's cooling rather than full-blown suspension. He's obviously aware that cooling is a helpful way to avert the risk of permadeath, but he doesn't seem like he's precommitted to signing up for cryonics as soon as he can legally do so. Which, knowing this Harry, probably means he hasn't heard much about it.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T05:11:30.302Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Granted, he's a candle next to a fire, and it was a very new thing in 1992. But remembering the best temperature is the sort of thing he'd do, even having only heard it once.

Replies from: MarkusRamikin
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2013-07-02T09:29:54.297Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder if Eliezer is just being cautious, trying to steer the story away from anything that people would dismiss as blatant cryonics propaganda, and instead just plant enough of a hint to get the normals reading HPMoR, how should I say it, emotionally interested in the idea that a freshly dead person might be preserved, and revived later when we know more.

Replies from: Alsadius, htns
comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-02T17:44:01.181Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd believe it. I don't think he's going to go propagandist, I just think that "Someone I love is dead, better freeze them just in case it can be fixed" is a natural thought path for EY. It's possibly not even a conscious propaganda attempt, that's just how smart and thoughtful people are supposed to act.

(IRL, I think it's a bit different because of the cost involved. But these spells are basically free, so why not try?)

comment by htns · 2013-07-04T23:20:51.789Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's also that Harry shouldn't freeze, he should transmute (as was suggested somewhere above) (or perhaps he should freeze and then transmute). Freezing is rather disastrous if it gets warm again. Even if the transmutation goes off it's relatively fine as long as he arranges it so that the transmutation can be redone quickly.

comment by Macaulay · 2013-07-04T05:27:48.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's "Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres" an anagram for?

Replies from: fubarobfusco
comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-07-04T05:48:38.668Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sarajevo server nymphs retreat.
Shaven tart Marjory perseveres.
Majesty's pervert overran rheas.
Jeremy's transverse vapor earth.
Trojan's preservers tame Harvey.
Jester's revery proves amaranth.
Jerry's pervert overate shamans.
Rajahs' poverty nerve streamers.
Majors preserve earthy servant.

... and a lot of other things.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2013-07-03T06:07:18.475Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What I'm surprised Harry didn't think of was bringing her to a muggle hospital. A combination of muggle and wizard medicine should be able to overcome some plain old shock and blood loss, no?

Replies from: CAE_Jones, RolfAndreassen
comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-03T06:22:49.450Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, after several failed attempts at using magical treatments, Arthur Weasely tried stitches on his Nagini bite, but the venom dissolved them. It wouldn't be surprising if the troll's bite, either naturally or due to the mastermind's buffings, would have similar properties interfering with muggle treatments. Actually, now that I think about it, that's not a bad explanation for why Harry's first aid attempt didn't work. Canon Voldemort does not like making a kill strike that can be easily treated (Rowling even intended for Arthur's bite to be fatal, according to interviews, but changed it while writing, presumably because Harry's link to Voldemort meant this would have broken him more than because it meant he could call for help in a timely fashion, not to mention the effects on his relationships with the Weaseleys.).

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-07-03T15:04:41.155Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Time. The sort of massive blood loss you get from having both legs traumatically amputated high on the thighs is deadly within minutes, at the absolute most. How does Harry get her to an ER in that time? Not to mention mobilising paramedics and whatnot from their rest state to the sort of instant correct action that would be needed. Modern medicine has its limits; the wounds described for Hermione seem to me to exceed them. Really, calling Dumbledore is much more inherent - he is an experienced combatant with access to isntant transport and no need to get things from a cabinet.

Replies from: bogdanb
comment by bogdanb · 2013-07-05T11:08:32.394Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, yeah, but still, ERs can work pretty well, wizards can teleport, witches are more resistant to damage than normal humans, and some magic potions and charms could be added to the conventional medicine. And hey, sudden dual amputation is serious, but it's not completely out of the possible, even ten years ago, especially with tourniquets applied very soon, instant transportation, and magic bonuses.

I mean, where have you seen people die of blood loss and shock, with easy access to medical personel, and nobody trying anything?

comment by Tenoke · 2013-07-02T14:49:11.040Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meaning to post this for a while not because it is a novel idea but just so it is recorded somewhere.

I think that there is a good chance that the story finishes with A SuperIntelligence of sorts. Furthermore, I think that if a SI is actually brought in the story, there is at least 50% chance that it will be a SI built/cast with good intentions which nonetheless destroys (in a way) humanity and/or the universe.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan, ygert, Pentashagon
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T18:20:43.426Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Doubtful. I think people would complain about HPMoR becoming too transparently an Author Tract in that case.

Replies from: JoshuaZ
comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-02T18:33:48.391Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Keep in mind that is already one of the more common criticisms of the story.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-02T19:57:00.607Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess by "too transparently" I mean the following. The worst kind of author tract is when an author shoehorns in some point they want to make in a way that has nothing to do with and distracts from the rest of the story. We already know that HPMoR is about rationality and whatnot - it's exactly what it says on the tin in that respect - but nothing in the story so far suggests the later appearance of a superintelligence, and if one were to appear it would feel shoehorned in.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-03T10:17:10.053Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer specifically and publicly said that this will not happen. There will be no superintelligent AI in HPMOR. I see no reason to doubt Eliezer's word on the matter.

Replies from: loserthree, Tenoke
comment by loserthree · 2013-07-03T12:42:59.040Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm pretty sure that what he said was that nothing was intended as an allegory -- or maybe a metaphor or something of the sort -- to an artificial super-intelligence.

Somebody has the link, I expect.

comment by Tenoke · 2013-07-03T17:58:06.112Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

fair enough

comment by Pentashagon · 2013-07-03T00:25:24.775Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What is Magic besides some form of superintelligence, or at least the remnants of superintelligence? The strongest evidence is that magic-users and even creators don't really have to understand how the spells actually work in order to use them. There is information entering the system from somewhere, and it's enough information to accurately interpret the vague wand movements and sounds of humans and do sufficiently amazing things without too many chaotic side-effects. Even the chaotic side-effects are usually improbably harmless. It's like an almost-Friendly, or perhaps a broken previously-Friendly, AI. Possibly the result of some ancient Singularity that is no longer explicitly remembered.

Replies from: Eugine_Nier, ewang
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-04T05:01:07.634Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The strongest evidence is that magic-users and even creators don't really have to understand how the spells actually work in order to use them.

You don't need to know how muscles work in order to use them to move.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-04T07:59:27.221Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You also don't need to know how algorithms work in order to use them, or even to write them. I don't know how Ukkonen's algorithm works, but I've implemented it. You haven't seen magic until you've seen the suffixes of a string sorted in linear time.

comment by ewang · 2013-07-04T03:21:34.147Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's another, roughly isomorphic statement:

What is Gravity besides some form of superintelligence, or at least the remnants of superintelligence? The strongest evidence is that engineers and even physicists don't really have to understand how gravity actually works in order to use it. There is information entering the system from somewhere, and it's enough information to accurately detect when an object is unsupported or structurally unstable. And the chaotic side-effects tend to be improbably harmful. It's like an almost-Friendly, or perhaps a broken previously-Friendly, AI. Possibly the result of some ancient Singularity that is no longer explicitly remembered.

Replies from: ewang
comment by ewang · 2013-07-04T03:23:31.663Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Never mind, I see your point, although I still disagree with your conclusion on the grounds of narrative plausibility and good writing.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-02T13:11:55.805Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is there any way that tearing the stars apart could plausibly be related to trying to save Hermione?

Replies from: tegid
comment by tegid · 2013-07-02T13:36:53.528Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The simplest I can think of is if huge amounts of energy are needed.

Replies from: None, Desrtopa
comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-02T13:42:30.730Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A star would make a great sacrificial component for a spell. This chapter talks about both sacrificial magic and inventing new spells.

Replies from: Ritalin, DanArmak, NancyLebovitz
comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-02T18:38:22.247Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And thus this story's Holy Shit Quotient has increased to cosmic proportions.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-03T18:51:52.114Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Usually you need to sacrifice something that is yours. Assuming we're not talking about our own Sun, sacrificing some other star seems too easy. It would be like sacrificing someone else's drop of blood to fuel Fiendfyre.

Replies from: Atelos
comment by Atelos · 2013-07-04T04:58:10.383Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Somehow I doubt even those who believed Tracey's Harry summoning ritual was real believed she had ownership over Yog-Sothoth.

Replies from: DanArmak, None
comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-04T08:47:37.922Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think their beliefs correspond to reality in this particular. It's just one more reason to consider the pretend ritual unrealistic - in addition to those that Quirrell gave.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-04T07:54:42.034Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, why do we "own" Sol? Because we live near it and nobody else does? Once HJPEV acquires the ability to sacrifice stars, constructing a space station orbiting Alpha Centauri and living in it for as long as it takes to acquire "ownership" would be trivial.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-04T08:51:45.483Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The word "sacrifice" means to give up something valuable, to experience a loss in trade for gain.

If we lost our own Sun, that would be a tragedy and life on Earth as it currently is would end.

If we lost a neighboring star, we just wouldn't care. That's why I wouldn't call it a "sacrifice". It could be a material component of a spell, certainly. But it wouldn't be a sacrifice.

If you permanently Transfigure a ball of glass into iron with Crystferrium, you don't think of that as "sacrificing" the ball of glass that you had. You're just... using it up.

Replies from: Atelos
comment by Atelos · 2013-07-04T09:41:57.874Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If someone performs the ritual to summon death then they lose a sword and a noose, unless they're a particular sort of obsessed with the remnants of past crimes they wouldn't care either except that they'd need to get new material components if they want to do it again. just as we'd have to pick out another star if we sacrificed Alpha Centauri A..

It seems to me that the term sacrifice is used simply to denote that even if someone wants their spell component back they can't get it, whereas there is a spell to reverse Crystferrium if you find you prefer the original to the glass.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-04T09:47:02.933Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's an excellent point.

But if "ritual sacrifice" simply means "spell with material components which are expended", then every potion ever brewed is a "ritual sacrifice".

Replies from: Velorien