Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 21, chapters 91 & 92

post by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T11:49:07.263Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 368 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 chapters 91 & 92 . The previous thread has passed 500 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: 1234567891011121314151617,18,19,20.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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.

368 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by moridinamael · 2013-07-04T20:44:02.528Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Tom Riddle in canon was described as a classic charming psychopath, while the Defense Professor seems to be genuinely icy and blind to others' internal states. He even verbalizes this a few times, e.g. "I don't have the knack." So either HPMOR!Riddle was actually not charming but instead vastly more intelligent in a cold, calculating way, or the Monroe/Quirrell persona is supposed to be outwardly cold and obtuse while still secretly possessing insight, or this fragment of Riddle's soul has lost whatever insight or ability that formerly made him charming, or something I haven't thought of.

comment by bramflakes · 2013-07-04T22:57:20.965Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrel tells Harry that they share an ability to "become" whoever they pretend to be. We even see this when Quirrel pretends to be someone else to the Healer after the Azkaban breakout. It would be very odd if Quirrel were able to do this and not have any insight into how people's emotions feel like from the inside. I believe that Quirrel knows perfectly well how emotions work; the icy exterior is just a role he plays.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-05T05:58:18.599Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Quirrell's model of emotions can be all that refined, since he seems to have repeatedly and legitimately mismodelled both Harry ("yes, I actually do care about people even if I don't relate to them, I don't want to be a Dark Lord,") and Hermione ("You know, a shadowy figure in a hooded cloak is really not the most trustworthy messenger.")

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-26T19:03:26.890Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Obligatory protest that we don't know for certain Mr. Hat-and-Cloak is Quirrell.

The way I interpreted that, he thought that if he first showed up looking innocent and good, she would have suspected that the outside was a sham. But after she revealed that she really doesn't think that outsides are always deceptive, he changed his modeling.

Though that would still mean that he mismodeled her, yes.

My thoughts on the mismodelling* of Harry are much more speculative.

comment by Gurkenglas · 2013-07-12T13:19:17.493Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that Quirrel would keep that part of his guise up once the fate of the very stars in heaven is on the table.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-04T23:35:07.425Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell == Voldemort. This does not imply that Voldemort == Riddle. Dumbledore at least thinks that Voldemort was Tom Riddle, but consider the possibility that Dumbledore is wrong about this. Remember Voldemort really doesn't look very human at all, and could be almost anyone. Maybe Riddle was misdirection.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T23:41:04.309Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I know someone with Asbergers who manages to be very charming because he learnt social rules.

You don't need empathy to charm people.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-07-05T01:57:13.928Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I know someone with Asbergers who manages to be very charming because he learnt social rules.

Aspergers. (I've occasionally heard "Ass burgers" used as an insult. No 'b'!)

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-07-05T06:57:23.549Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's a South Park reference. Insulting, yes.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-05T04:39:50.427Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

After all, where else would the term "sperg" come from?

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T11:24:21.429Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Asperges, in french, is a type of food. Eggplants, I think...

comment by gjm · 2013-07-05T11:30:36.903Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Asparagus.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-05T08:53:34.458Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You don't need empathy to charm people.

Yes. Psychopaths are a prime example.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-07-04T15:20:11.891Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Did anyone else find it increasingly implausible that the teachers kept trying to speak to Harry while he was thinking? The first one or even two approaches made sense, but if a person who has just lost a close friend says that they want to be alone until dinner, the only sensible course of action seems to be to say "okay" and leave them alone. It'd be one thing if he hadn't spoken for anyone in a month, but this was just a few hours: it'd have been completely reasonable for anyone to want to be alone for that long.

Granted, given that this is Harry, they might have thought that he was in risk of doing something really rash... but if they feared that he'd do something so bad that it wouldn't have been enough for them to guard the door to the room where he was in, then McGonagall would have been insane to unlock his Time Turner! And if they thought that he was in danger of developing some really crazy plan while thinking, it should have been obvious after the first couple of times that interrupting him now would just make him more unreceptive, and it would have been better to wait until dinner.

I'm just drawing a complete blank here - why did they keep doing it? Doesn't seem to make any sense to me.

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-04T17:40:32.880Z · score: 20 (24 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell is trying to alienate Harry from his lifelines by manipulating everyone into being unhelpfully helpful. It's one of the core emotional triggers for the Harry, and the Defense Professor knows this.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T23:38:39.534Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

After this chapter I've updated heavily in favor of Quirrell being genuinely terrified and trying to run damage control. That means giving him more emotional lifelines.

Admittedly, it also probably means making Harry dependent on an information source Quirrell can trust not to say too much, i.e. himself, but...

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-05T04:11:35.838Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That does not seem to jive with the last lines of chapter 89, which are first-person accounts of Quirrell's feelings.

He'd felt the fury the boy had directed at some annoyance who was likely Dumbledore; followed by an unknown resolution whose unyielding hardness even he found adequate. With any luck, the boy had just discarded his foolish little reluctances.

Unseen by anyone, the Defense Professor's lips curved up in a thin smile. Despite its little ups and downs, on the whole this had been a surprisingly good day.

EDIT: I also updated in favor of Quirrell being genuinely terrified after chapter 92, but only slightly. The evidence from chapter 89 still dominates in my mind since 89 has an uncensored account of Quirrell's true feelings.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-05T04:13:23.534Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

And quite specifically, ironically, and counterpointedly placed before the prophecy.

comment by solipsist · 2014-03-01T04:41:37.590Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Note for readability: I did not realize that the prophecy was dialog, said aloud by Trelawney, until I read this comment. I read the prophecy as Quirrell thinking to himself, narrating for the reader why he was happy.

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-06T02:27:15.056Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From 93:

The Defense Professor watched them both, the woman and the crying boy. His eyes were very cold, and very calculating.

He did not think that this would be enough.

Woop. There goes that theory :-).

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-06T19:21:18.523Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

First time I read that, I interpreted it as "it would not be enough to prevent Harry from tearing the world apart". But there is another possible interpretation : if we consider that Quirrelmort was trying to turn Harry dark, and killing Hermione was part of that plan, then we can interpret it completely to the opposite : the killing Hermione won't be enough to turn Harry dark.

I don't give a high probability to the second interpretation, but it does stand on its own feet.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-04T22:12:45.856Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For a rationalist fic, where you're meant to be able to work things out though, it does seem a bit 'magical' if the answer to every "well that's a bit weird" is "Quirrell probably did it". It's fitting the evidence to your theory.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-05T12:45:43.754Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

What weird things do we know Quirrell wasn't behind?

  1. Dumbledore is Santa Clause and sneaks into students' bedrooms to leave them notes.
  2. Snape was helping SPHEW.
  3. Whoever memory charmed Rita Skeeter (Gilderoy Lockhart?) was almost certainly not Quirrell.
  4. Harry himself was behind the weird events in Chapter 13. In fact, Harry is behind a lot of the weird events in the book, but we don't always realize that because we see them from his point of view.
  5. The universe is behind Comed-Tea.

Anything else?

comment by alex_zag_al · 2013-07-06T19:27:53.678Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Whoever memory charmed Rita Skeeter (Gilderoy Lockhart?) was almost certainly not Quirrell.

What? Why? There was that time that he threatened her in chapter 25. Also, it would explain how he knew that Harry had enlisted the Weasley twins.

There's a motive, too. At lunch afterward, he made Harry deal with the cognitive dissonance of ruining somebody's life, yet feeling proud of himself at the same time. If I was Quirrell I would have helped fake the story just to make Harry rationalize destroying Rita Skeeter.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-06T21:24:14.493Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible that the Weasley twins hired Quirrell and not Lockhart, but I tend to think that Quirrell was genuinely surprised at the newspaper article about Harry's betrothal and it took him a few minutes to realize it was done with a false memory charm. Quirrell's smart, but not omniscient.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T22:16:41.575Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. Now if only Quirrell wasn't actually behind 75% of all the weird things happening in the story (as far as we can tell)...

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-05T05:03:41.119Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For any weird thing, you may be able to find someone who thinks that "Quirrell did it". That doesn't mean some faction out there believes Quirrell is responsible for every weird thing -- different people think Quirrell is responsible for different weird things.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-04T18:37:58.518Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It wasn't done at Quirrel's suggestion, though, as far as we can tell.

comment by tim · 2013-07-04T19:41:28.674Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Well, (in chapter 90), McGonagall's first visit seemed to be of her own accord but then the Defense Professor went in and upon returning said this to her:

And though it is not my own area of expertise, Deputy Headmistress, if there is any way you can imagine to convince the boy to stop sinking further into his grief and madness - any way at all to undo the resolutions he is coming to - then I suggest you resort to it immediately."

Manipulating and convincing people of things is absolutely Quirrell's area of expertise and it seems plausible that he realizes that putting immense pressure on McGonagall to do something (because poor old Quirrell sure can't!) will cause her to make poor decisions regarding whether Harry should be left alone and/or unobstructed in his activities.

Further supported by Snape's line from when he enters the room at the beginning of chapter 51:

"I also cannot imagine what the Deputy Headmistress is thinking," said the Potions Master of Hogwarts. "Unless I am meant to serve as a warning of where it will lead you, if you decide to take the blame for her death upon yourself."

and by the continuing pressure Quirrell exerts on McGonagall at the end of chapter 52:

"That would be worse than pointless. Dumbledore cannot reach the boy. At best he is wise enough to know this and make things no worse. I lack the requisite frame of mind. You are the one who - but I see that you still look for others to save you."

Again Quirrell cites his own inability to help with the problem and now disqualifies Dumbledore as well. The last part in particular echos Harry's criticism of her ineffectiveness and I wouldn't be surprised if Quirrell was somehow aware of their exchange and using McGonagall's weakened confidence to spur her to action.

So Quirrell seems to be manipulating McGonagall directly and everyone else by extension.

comment by JayDee · 2013-07-05T10:07:47.916Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect Quirrell was aware of the exchange, if he can do the same trick as in canon with names:

"No! You-Know-Who killed Hermione!" She was hardly aware of what she was saying, that she hadn't screened the room against who might be listening. "Not you! No matter what else you could've done, it's not you who killed her, it was Voldemort! If you can't believe that you'll go mad, Harry!"

Specific mention of not screening the room, and then saying the V-word out loud.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-26T19:43:12.146Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you talking about the Taboo? Because I really got the impression that he couldn't implement it until he was in charge of the Ministry.

comment by JayDee · 2013-08-27T09:46:11.352Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That is a good point. And in canon, it was a useful thing to do since it was only the Order & Co. who dared say the name, allowing for decent signal to noise.

I'd thought maybe in HP:MoR the order might be showing more caution, but in Multiple Hypothesis Testing Dumbledore uses the word - and with Moody there. I'd expect the HP:MoR versions of Dumbledore and Moody to to avoid it if they thought there was serious risk.

That said, the specific mention of not screening for listeners does still jump out at me like a Hint.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-27T19:32:05.949Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It struck me as a hint as well, but I don't think it was specifically saying Voldemort's name that did it. It's just that she openly states that she believes him to be alive and active, and thus reveals to a surreptitious listener that she--and likely Dumbledore--have this knowledge or are acting under these beliefs. That's more than enough, given the interest that the murderer and Quirrell (if they are different people) would have in the room at the time.

comment by Vaniver · 2013-07-05T11:41:17.064Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Did anyone else find it increasingly implausible that the teachers kept trying to speak to Harry while he was thinking? The first one or even two approaches made sense, but if a person who has just lost a close friend says that they want to be alone until dinner, the only sensible course of action seems to be to say "okay" and leave them alone.

Eh. In more typical situations it isn't that odd to force people who want to be alone in bleak times to not be alone. (I'm not sure if the primary impetus here is an anti-suicide measure, the thought that it improves mood, despite the annoyance, or the inability of people who want to help to convince themselves they are helping without visible action.) That Quirrel recommended it makes it more sensible (though, as the strong reader suspicion goes, Quirrel is trying to sabotage their relationship with Harry), even though Harry protests.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T15:31:07.811Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

McGonagall may have been insane to unlock the Time-Turner, but she was simply incapable of withstanding the emotional pressure Harry suddenly put her under. Doubtless it is not something she had originally intended to do, and she may well regret it horribly once she regains the capacity for rational thought.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-07-04T15:46:52.394Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore spied on their conversation, though - if he'd considered the matter that serious, he ought to have stepped in and taken the Time Turner or re-locked it.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T15:47:46.185Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

At the price of alienating Harry a good bit further, of course.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T17:34:53.074Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If McGonagall wouldn't, Harry would go to Dumbledore. It's extremly unlikely that Harry wouldn't get his Time-Turner unlocked in the situation as Harry is willing to alienate the two but they aren't willing to alienate Harry.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-06T02:48:13.436Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry is extremely creative, with an intent to kill, powers others know not, and a Time Turner. He killed a troll and escaped from Azkaban using his unique transfiguration skills.

Harry is dangerous and desperate. He's not just some depressed kid who wants to be left alone, he's an apocalypse waiting to happen.

McGonagall would have been insane to unlock his Time Turner!

Insane, or just playing by the rules, as usual? Very dumb, as I commented elsewhere, to give a desperate Harry unfettered control of his Time Turner, at his prompting.

comment by hairyfigment · 2013-07-06T05:02:24.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think Minerva herself considered it worthy of note that Dumbledore had used Transfiguration in combat and was still alive. She should know that Harry has joined this elite group. Now, you could use this as evidence of his recklessness if you believe there were lots of people like Harry who died. But I don't believe he would use some of the ...inventive solutions people have proposed, nor would Minerva believe it.

I think she should actually have unlocked his Time-Turner after Bellatrix, or at least after the trial, though she made the right decision by locking it when she did.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-06T06:35:26.675Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Now, you could use this as evidence of his recklessness

I wouldn't. That's the rule following MInerva talking. She may have retired. We might see the new Griffindor Minerva doing what it takes to win, taking every edge she can in transfiguration. Harry's rock trick should be trivial for her.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-04T15:32:05.647Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Had the first two been Macgonnagle and the Defense Professor, then the rest make a bit more sense in that the Defense Professor urged Macgonnagle to do whatever it took to get Harry off his current path, and, well, Harry had just lectured her about how responsibility works, and so she was in a state of mind that demanded action.

That said, you're totally right: continuing to throw potential emotional bonds at him to try and cheer him up wasn't the best idea, at least not so soon. Surely Macgonnagle is smart enough to know that Harry knew exactly what was going on, and would therefore be less receptive? It's a general trend when working with stubborn and upset people, and I imagine this is no less true among Hogwarts students, and thinking about it for five seconds should have made it clear that it'd only be worse with Harry. I suppose she couldn't think of anything better to try.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-07-04T15:44:46.605Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It wasn't just McGonagall, though - Dumbledore was the one who fetched Harry's parents, even though he had listened to Harry's and McGonagall's conversation and thus knew exactly what the situation was. Not to mention all the other teachers who she had clearly briefed on the situation before they went in.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-06T02:49:57.230Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Seems like a deliberate provocation.

comment by htns · 2013-07-05T01:20:35.992Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seemed to me it was the way Harry told them off. He didn't exactly act like the day was wrapped up and everything was already said.

comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-07-04T12:51:40.360Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Consider that Harry is not the only player on the board:

McGonagall is being pushed towards taking action to fix this. Very, very hard. I do not just mean the defense professor. I mean the entire situation is leaning on her to go beyond the usual.

Snape: Been a loose cannon for a while now, and might decide to do something about this.

The Defense Professor. Probably set the hit in motion, but might be looking for the "undo! UnDo!" button due to the fallout.

Dumbledore: .. nah, actually do not think he is going to exert himself over this.

So, at present, there is a non-zero probability that Harry is carrying around McGonagalls living brain transfigured into a diamond because she swapped herself for Hermione, then Snape swapped the oxygenating potion for the draught of living death, and Harry decided to arrest decay with the tools at his disposal.

Mad cackle

Wait. I missed one. And Hermione and/or McGonagall got her soul anchored to the whooping willow courtesy of a timetraveling defense professor. (all the horcrux proposals ignore the fact that neither Harry nor Hermione would use that technique, nor do they know it. But Quirell does. And would. )

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-07-04T15:40:11.270Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

This may have been mentioned elsewhere, but chapter 53 introduces "death dolls", and Hermionie's corpse is decribed as "waxy and doll-like".

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T13:27:50.120Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The whole point of a death doll is to imitate a dead body perfectly and fool people into confusing the two (that was the implication with the death-doll of Bella). If so, we wouldn't expect Hermione's body to look unrealistic if it's in fact a death doll substitute.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T15:01:36.653Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

These chapters caused me to update more in favor of Quirrell being genuinely scared. However, there are still some things that confuse me. First, Quirrell's not citing the prophecy in his favor, even though McGonagall was the one who paired him with Trelawney in the first place, and there's absolutely nothing incriminating in hearing a prophecy under those circumstances. Second, well, this is a problem with a murder-based solution, and I would expect Quirrell to take it unless (for some magical, personal, or prophetic reason) he finds death preferable to a world in which Harry is dead.

As far as Harry destroying the world goes, I'm most worried about Fred and George. In canon, they become quite skilled at spell creation in later books, and it's suggested that they experiment in earlier books; they're probably not especially good yet, but they might know enough information (or have enough books) to be dangerous already.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T15:07:21.268Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell values Harry - at least instrumentally, for purposes as yet uncertain, and possibly emotionally (if he is capable of valuing a person in that way). He is too valuable to kill except as a last resort, and Quirrell's actions suggest that he thinks he can avert the prophecy and make the killing unnecessary (otherwise he would not be taking all the measures he is currently taking).

As for not informing others of the prophecy, doubtless he feels that whatever (frantic and desperate) actions they might take in response would interfere with his own much more intelligent attempt to resolve the situation.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T16:00:41.623Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

That's fair enough, but I just thought of one more thing that Quirrell could do that he's choosing not to... Why isn't Quirrell doing the star thing again, or at least offering to do so?

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T16:07:20.444Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

That... is an extremely sensible thing to do.

However, Harry would probably reject it the way he rejected Fawkes's song - he doesn't want to be freed or distracted from his pain, since he considers it the proper and correct response to the death of his best friend. He may also believe that it's powering his dark side, and thus helping him look for ways to save Hermione.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T17:14:40.556Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible that he would reject it, yes, but I don't think it's that easy to compare it to Fawkes' song. If memory serves, phoenix songs actually change one's mood; the stars wouldn't do that, just comfort him. And, even if Harry does reject it, it's unlikely to cost Quirrell anything to make the offer.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T01:50:14.751Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Showing Harry the stars at this point would probably kill him. The image of the stars is a talisman to him, representing the necessary triumph of human will over death. Harry has just made a resolution to unmake death, and we know he can do it because of Trelawney's prophecy. The next time he sees that image he is going to act on his resolution if he hasn't already, and right now he's exhausted and confused and desperately unhappy... He needs to be rested.

And besides, given that Quirrell thinks that Harry will destroy the world when he acts on his resolution, he should be diverting Harry's attention from the stars at all costs, and trying to bind him more strongly to the Earth and the people on it, which he is doing. I'm loving the irony of Voldemort desperately trying to remind Harry of all the people who love him.

Mind you, whilst I think Quirrell is smart enough to not show Harry the stars given what he knows, I could be wrong. So maybe he will try that at some point and it will blow up in his face.

EDIT: Hmm, prediction failed. I guess this means that I'm more swayed by emotion than Harry. No surprises there.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-04T15:18:54.518Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do kinda feel like "Snape asked for advice on understanding a prophecy; the defense professor should consider it." Except I'm sure Quirell doesn't view anyone else as smart enough to be any better at it than him, except possibly Harry/Snape/Dumbledore, except (A) not really and (B) he doesn't trust any of them with the prophecy, I'm sure.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T23:32:50.227Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, he has no way to prove the existence of a prophecy beyond taking asking Dumbledore to take Harry to the Hall of Prophecy. And a prophecy that Harry will end the world, coming from the obviously evil Defense Professor, is... well, obviously evil. Even if it isn't.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T03:57:47.502Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell can't prove it, but as it happens, the Headmaster has recently heard a true prophecy with (likely) very, very similar wording. Since Quirrell didn't hear more than a few words of the other one, the fact that the two are so like each other would be strong evidence that Quirrell's prophecy is also genuine.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-05T01:19:25.251Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He has a way: Legilimency. Occlumens can let others into their memory, and we are told the intonation of prophecy cannot be faked by false memory charms. Let Dumbledore into a carefully guarded compartment of his identity, expose only the memory of the prophecy, and you're done - everyone will trust Dumbledore's word.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-05T01:34:25.062Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like there is some conflicting text here

in 27 we read:

Or if you were a perfect Occlumens, you could race ahead of any probes, answering queries as fast as they were asked, so that the Legilimens would enter through your surfaces and see a mind indistinguishable from whoever you were pretending to be.

Even the best Legilimens could be fooled that way. If a perfect Occlumens claimed they were dropping their Occlumency barriers, there was no way to know if they were lying. Worse, you might not know you were dealing with a perfect Occlumens. They were rare, but the fact that they existed meant you couldn't trust Legilimency on anyone.

http://hpmor.com/chapter/27

But on the other-hand Snape says

The voice of a seer has a quality, an enigma which even Legilimency cannot share, how could that be imbued in a false memory? Do you think the Dark Lord would believe my mere words? The Dark Lord seized my mind and saw the mystification there, even if he could not seize the mystery, and so he knew the prophecy had been true.

but, we have no confirmation that Snape is a perfect Occlumens and if the Defense Professor is, or is suspicious enough that people think he might be, its unclear if even Legilimency could be trusted to confirm the prophecy

comment by gwern · 2013-07-05T01:45:51.149Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, examining Snape's words more carefully than my memory, I think I was simply wrong. Snape says that the 'quality' is something that 'even Legilimency cannot share', and so how did the Dark Lord then verify Snape's memory? He seized Snape's mind with such force and magic that Snape's Occlumency would've been hopeless and instead of perceiving the prophetic quality of voice, he looked for Snape's personal confusion at not understanding the prophecy.

So it seems that Dumbledore could not verify it after all: he could not be sure of breaking Quirrel's Occlumency both out of ethics and because Quirrel seems to be closer to Dumbledore in power than Snape was to Voldemort, and he cannot simply verify the prophetic quality in whatever memory Quirrel chooses to provide.


Which of course still leaves the Hall of Prophecy: surely Quirrel's word about a prophecy of the apocalypse would be worth defying the Department of Mystery over, in order to verify?

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-05T01:55:27.672Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To hear the prophecy you need to be mentioned in it. So maybe anyone can hear this prophecy because the end of the world effects everybody. But if not, taking Harry there and him hearing it would be confirmation that its about him.

Though, verification may be a moot point and Dumbledore may already know the prophecy about Harry. After all, Dumbledore heard the end of the prophecy in the dinning hall back when it was "he is coming" rather than "he is here". And Dumbledore also gave excuses not to take Harry into the hall of prophesy

Harry was staring directly at Albus. "Can I go to this Department of Mysteries place and hear the recorded prophecy? The original tone of voice might be helpful, from what I've heard."

Light glinted from the reflection of Albus's half-moon glasses as the old wizard slowly shook his head. "I think that would be unwise," Albus said. "For reasons beyond the obvious. It is dangerous, that place which Merlin made; more dangerous to some people than others.".

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T15:19:02.425Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 79:

"The grim!" Professor Trelawney said in a quavering voice, as she peered into George Weasley's teacup. "The grim! It is a sign of death! One whom you know, George - someone you know is to die! And soon - yes, it shall be quite soon, I think - unless of course it is later -"

It would have been a good deal scarier, thought Fred and George, if she hadn't said the same thing to every single other student in their Divination class.

I'm having to update my probability that HPMOR!Trelawney is actually good at her job.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-05T16:21:12.819Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

If everyone in the class knows Hermione (which is likely for a loose definition of 'knows' since everyone has probably heard of her either through SPHEW or as General Sunshine, as her being called up at lunch to receive an award) then telling that to everyone in the class may not include even a single miss. Which makes Professor Trelawney very accurate indeed.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T15:23:42.923Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

My estimate of Trelawney in Methods has, for quite some time, been that she may or may not be good at formal Divination, but that she is a terrible teacher and an excellent seer, and that Dumbledore keeps her around primarily for the latter reason.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-05T15:23:07.565Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not really. if she says the same thing each time it shouldn't be surprising that a rare hit occurs. It seems heavily implied that Dumbledore keeps her around (both in canon and in HPMOR) because she occasionally emits a genuine prophecy.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-05T15:48:51.675Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Not really. if she says the same thing each time it shouldn't be surprising that a rare hit occurs.

Ah, but consider how rarely students die at Hogwarts: we're at a 50-year gap between Myrtle and Hermione. If Trelawney told every student this year that they were going to die, but not the other years, then actually she's remarkably accurate.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-05T15:53:19.793Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, do we have any reason to think she's only done it this year?

comment by tim · 2013-07-05T16:58:20.372Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Possibly. Since Fred and George thought it would have been a good deal scarier "if she hadn't said the same thing to every single other student in their Divination class" rather than "if she hadn't said the same thing every year/week/day," its weakly implied that this is the first time she's make this prediction.

edit: although "every single other student in their Divination class" is somewhat ambiguous and could mean that over the course of the semester she has made this prediction for everyone at different times.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T19:40:15.146Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

edit: although "every single other student in their Divination class" is somewhat ambiguous and could mean that over the course of the semester she has made this prediction for everyone at different times.

Then again, after SPHEW, everyone in the school "knows" Hermione.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-26T15:54:16.364Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, at least, she did that sort of thing every year. That only means so much here, of course.

comment by cousin_it · 2013-07-05T15:09:41.966Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

In light of Eliezer's recent trolling, I guess it's official that all foreshadowings in the fic, even the ones that seemed like jokes, are going to come true. Let's see! The date is April 1992, we're at the end of the second act:

"Even if you had kissed him first, you know what that would make you? The sad little lovestruck girl who dies at the end of Act Two." (Ch.46)

Harry is going to expose Quirrell in May:

"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." (...) "What do I get if I can make it happen on the last day of the school year?" (Ch.17)

Harry is a copy of Monroe:

"And I'm secretly sixty-five years old." - "You don't look half that" (Ch.38)

"Born 1927, entered Hogwarts in 1938, sorted into Slytherin, graduated 1945." (Ch.84)

And Harry is going to marry a whole lot of people.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2013-07-06T19:03:06.202Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sixty-five years old is also consistent with being Tom Riddle, who was born December 1926. (Remember, that quote is from September, a few months before Tom RIddle's 66th birthday.)

(birth year and month from harry potter wiki)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-05T15:20:59.554Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What "trolling" are you referring to?

comment by cousin_it · 2013-07-05T15:31:16.087Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Killing Hermione with a mountain troll and causing strong fan reactions, of course :-) Note that the troll was introduced in Ch.16, and Quirrell made a callback to that scene when he advised Hermione to run away in Ch.84.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2013-07-04T16:28:10.426Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder what steps Harry took to test the limitations of his own Patronus. The thing is humanoid and it /speaks/. Is it conscious? Does it have memory, can you give it information, dispell it, call it back the next cay, and have it still know the information? Can it perform useful cognitive work, solve problems? Does it exist anywhere and in any way while not called forth by Harry's spell? (Can it think while Harry is asleep? what an asset that would be!)

And, dare I ask, can it recursively self-improve? ;) Okay, okay, stop it with the rotten tomatoes.

I'm sure the answer to most or all of that is "no" just because of the way it would affect the story but, if I were Harry, I'd test it anyway. It is a safer and more convenient magical-humanoid-that-speaks to examine than a Dementor, and Harry has given a lot of thought to how their minds work...

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T18:49:51.222Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

"Is there another Patronus still present?" the old wizard said clearly to the bright creature.

The bright creature dipped its head in a nod.

"Can you find it?"

The silver head nodded again.

"Will you remember it, should it depart and come again?"

A final nod from the blazing phoenix.

-

They hadn't even gotten to the end of that corridor before Harry's Patronus raised its hand, politely, as though in a classroom.

Harry thought quickly. The question was how to - no, that was also obvious.

"It seems," Harry said in a coldly amused voice, "that someone has instructed this Patronus to speak its message only to me." He chuckled. "Well then. Pardon me, dear Bella. Quietus."

At once the silver humanoid said in Harry's own voice, "There is another Patronus which seeks this Patronus."

"What? " said Harry. And then, without pausing to think about what was happening, "Can you block it? Stop it from finding you?"

The silver humanoid shook its head.

Note that Harry's Patronus appears to inform him of its own initiative regarding a fact which is important for him to know. Also that it delays until he is prepared to hear the message.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-07-05T18:10:48.921Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It might be borrowing mental capacity from Harry himself - useful for more perfect division of attention, but not necessarily better for all purposes.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T16:40:44.724Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Technically, a Dementor is not a humanoid - it only appears as one to those unable to face the cognitive gap that represents death.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-04T14:34:09.830Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Just noticed this creepy detail:

The Grangers had hardly left with Madam Pomfrey before the Defense Professor had knocked upon the door to her office and then entered without waiting for her answer, and spoken before she could say a word.

Madam Pomfrey is in charge of the medical ward, so the Grangers are not going home, they are going to a hospital.

In magical Britain you're only allowed to remember what the government thinks you should remember, and remembering the existence of magic or that you have a son named Harry is a privilege, not a right.

Harry from the prior chapter to his parents who still have a living child to give them this warning.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T15:03:25.855Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

Or, perhaps, Madam Pomfrey is taking them to see the body, since it is in her medical ward.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T14:39:33.051Z · score: 17 (21 votes) · LW · GW

That is extremely creepy.

On the other hand,

  • Obliviation does not require a hospital in any way
  • Harry would probably snap and take Hogwarts apart brick by brick if the staff permanently took away his parents like that, and I don't think anyone involved is stupid enough not to get that

My interpretation is that Madam Pomfrey is a trustworthy staff member, while at the same time being inconsequential enough that her time can be spent on escorting Muggles around. She is also used to dealing with horrified parents, and therefore a good first point of contact for the Grangers.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-04T14:54:24.417Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense, its possible I'm being paranoid, but when people with inconvenient memories get taken to hospitals it does make me worry.

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-04T15:01:36.253Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

What I'm wondering is more why Harry doesn't push for his parents to be temporarily obliviated of his own existence, as a mean to protect them.

Hermione did it in canon at the beginning of the Deathly Hallows, and that was a very sensible thing to do, and it told a lot about Hermione for her to cast that spell.

And yes, it's very creepy, this "Obliviate !" scene in Deathly Hallows almost made me cry (both in book and in movie), it was the saddest scene of the 7 books to me. (And yeah, I know, I should be more sad about the people who actually died...), but Harry definitely is rationalist enough to force himself to do something as painful as that if it's to save his parents.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-05T01:48:37.493Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This was a bad idea in canon and will be an even worse idea here where obliviations are permanent.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-05T02:06:37.448Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, they were pseudo-permanent in canon too. It seems like the caster of a Memory Charm can revoke it, but nobody else.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-04T14:36:28.839Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds like they're either having medical issues due to stress, or they're going to where Hermione is being kept. If they were to be obliviated, I'm sure it would be in their own home.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-07-04T20:11:58.625Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Obliviating the whole of Hermione's existence seems counterproductively difficult: She lived in Muggle Britain for 11 years. Are they going to Obliviate all the neighbours and relatives who remember her and might ask casually how she is doing at school? As for Obliviating the memory that she's dead, then why tell them in the first place? It is not clear what sort of memory eradication could be usefully applied. Maybe a False Memory of her dying in some sort of sports accident, rather than being half-eaten? But again, in that case, why tell them the actual truth?

comment by drethelin · 2013-07-04T23:07:40.744Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This happened in Canon, and was done by Hermione herself, albeit in her I think 6th or 7th year.

comment by wubbles · 2013-07-05T00:11:01.806Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hermione didn't erase her own existence, but implanted false memories to get her parents to go to Australia. Distance did what magic couldn't.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T00:18:41.842Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, she did both of those things. And, incidentally, it's the false memories bit that would be impossible in Methods - Hermione, of course, did not spend years to give her parents what are apparently years worth of memories.

comment by Gurkenglas · 2013-07-12T14:18:11.519Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's only perfect, undetectable Memory Charms that require that much time. Giving someone years of memories in the quality that is customary for years-old memories, when no Wizard has anything against it, is probably not that difficult.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-07-04T23:53:15.252Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well. I stand by the criticism. Either Hermione, or Rowling, wasn't thinking things through.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-12T15:02:21.206Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, in Hermione's case, she may not wanted to give her parents that level of grief. Although frankly, I'd rather remember a loved one who I think died then not remember them at all, and I suspect that Hermione would think the same way. So canon Hermione likely didn't really think this through. (Frankly, the first time I read what she did to her parents, I was absolutely appalled- I don't think Rowling really appreciates how absolutely insidious and violating memory modification is.)

comment by TimS · 2013-07-12T15:31:55.509Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I distantly recall that canon!Hermione was trying to remove her parents as potential hostages / revenge targets. I think the goal was to get them to Australia without violating the Statute of Secrecy. This doesn't make sense, now that I think about it - her parents already knew she was a witch, why is telling them about the war a violation of secrecy. Updating towards my memory being wrong.

Even assuming my memory is right, I agree with you that Rowling's reasoning is disturbing. There are so many other ways to protect the information in canon (eg Fidelius), yet Rowling picks the least consensual, least possible to give informed consent method.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-07-13T04:05:30.484Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I distantly recall that canon!Hermione was trying to remove her parents as potential hostages / revenge targets. I think the goal was to get them to Australia without violating the Statute of Secrecy. This doesn't make sense, now that I think about it - her parents already knew she was a witch, why is telling them about the war a violation of secrecy.

I suspect this is because they wouldn't voluntarily abandon their daughter, this was her way of pulling a more hero than thou on them.

comment by Baughn · 2013-07-05T11:30:18.902Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It could easily blow up in their faces, yes.

There's still the possibility that they'll be obliviated of what happened just now, in order to gain time, although that's not quite in character for anyone involved. It'd also blow up - Hermione has a sister, who I don't think has ever been mentioned in Hogwarts.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T11:49:42.483Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Said sister wasn't present in the Grangers' house during the Christmas meal sequence, so it's possible she doesn't exist in the Methodsverse.

comment by Fermatastheorem · 2013-07-05T18:52:54.928Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

According to this interview, Hermione no longer has a sister in canon either.

The relevant Q and A:

Does Hermione have any brothers or sisters?

No, she doesn’t. When I first made up Hermione I gave her a younger sister, but she was very hard to work in. The younger sister was not supposed to go to Hogwarts. She was supposed to remain a Muggle. It was a sideline that didn’t work very well and it did not have a big place in the story. I have deliberately kept Hermione’s family in the background. You see so much of Ron’s family so I thought that I would keep Hermione’s family, by contrast, quite ordinary. They are dentists, as you know. They are a bit bemused by their odd daughter but quite proud of her all the same.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T13:41:37.449Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's still the possibility that they'll be obliviated of what happened just now,

Then why tell them in the first place?

comment by Baughn · 2013-07-05T22:02:51.894Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are multiple people working at Hogwarts, who occasionally work at cross purposes. Depending on their reaction, they may also have been intended to influence Harry.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-04T20:00:56.026Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Harry looked at his mechanical watch again, but it still wasn't time.

...

Time passed, and yet more time. From the outside you would've just seen a boy, sitting, staring at his wand with an abstracted gaze, looking at his watch every two minutes or so.

Why is Harry looking at his watch so frequently? And why was he so insistent on a particular deadline for people not bothering him? He seems to be paying an unusual amount of attention to the time, and that suggests Time Turner shenanigans, although I'm not sure what they are.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-05T00:25:50.005Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

He needs 6 hours of uninterrupted time with Hermione's body. His present self guards the door while his future self does whatever he plans on doing to prepare her body for long term preservation.

See this quote from chapter 91 set right after Harry exits the room where her body is stored:

When the door opened again, Harry seemed to have changed, as though that minute and a half had passed over the course of lifetimes.

That "lifetime" is more specifically 6 hours.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T01:00:50.199Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Lifetimes" could also be literal (though this is a bit dubious considering that it's from McGonagall's POV) - perhaps Harry managed to reanimate Hermione for multiple brief periods? Or, perhaps Harry experimented with animating, killing, or reanimating other, smaller creatures?

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-05T01:24:28.592Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I highly doubt that he would mess around with her body more than necessary. He knows that he doesn't yet have the knowledge or power to resurrect her, and any experimenting will have to be done when there isn't a limited time-frame to stop her body from deteriorating further.

My current best guess as to what happened in that room is that Harry spent a good deal of time transfiguring her body into an element so stable, that the atoms won't move around "too much" in the days/weeks/months/years he would need before being able to resurrect her. He then transfigured a replacement body from some dirt lying around.

It's also possible that he just transfigured her brain into this element and just left the rest of her body as it is.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-05T02:55:52.325Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Alternatively, he could have simply entered the room and watched the room for six hours, perhaps while random-walking. By doing so, he ensures that the only observer he needs to worry about himself, so that far-future Harry can plan a time travel trip in security.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-05T03:11:59.223Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I highly doubt he would do that as well, given that there is no known method to travel further than 6 hours back in time. He would not base his entire "save Hermione" plan on a hope that he could somehow find a way around this constraint.

What he does at this very moment should exclude as few plans to save her as possible, and not preserving her brain would exclude almost all of them.

Alternatively, he could have simply entered the room and watched the room for six hours, perhaps while random-walking. By doing so, he ensures that the only observer he needs to worry about himself, so that far-future Harry can plan a time travel trip in security.

Also, given how time travel works in this story, the only thing he would achieve with this is making it impossible for future Harry to do any changes at all to Hermione's body in these 6 hours (since he can only "change" what he doesn't know).

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-05T05:48:13.485Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The former is granted; better to be sure. (Though any trick that can overcome information-theoretic death has a decent chance of allowing arbitrary time travel anyway.)

The latter, however, is easily dealt with: show up under the Invisibility Cloak, hit his past self with some variant of the Confundus Charm. Since he's watched the entire 6 hours, he can be certain this will be sufficient.

... except he can't, because someone else could've pulled the same trick. Nevermind; retracted.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-05T17:30:53.739Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Though any trick that can overcome information-theoretic death has a decent chance of allowing arbitrary time travel anyway.

I do not see how that would follow at all, could you please explain?

The latter, however, is easily dealt with: show up under the Invisibility Cloak, hit his past self with some variant of the Confundus Charm.

Dumbledore has already told Harry that he tried a variant of this once and that it didn't work. "Time" didn't like that. See this quote from chapter 90:

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 should at the very least be considered weak evidence to not "mess with time" in the way you're suggesting, and Harry will not go for a plan when he only has evidence against it being the best solution (this + time travel is constrained to 6 hours + not preserving her brain will make "easier" plans to save her impossible).

Since he's watched the entire 6 hours, he can be certain this will be sufficient.

This is not how time-travel works in this story, he doesn't need to watch her to do it. The less he knows about the situation the more he can "change" it, so the absolute smartest thing he could do if he planned this is to stay as far away from her body as possible.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-05T21:09:21.269Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I do not see how that would follow at all, could you please explain?

Reversing information-theoretic death is fundamentally the problem of taking a bunch of atoms in random configurations and getting a person out of it - and not just any person, a particular person about whom you no longer have any data whatsoever.

This problem is fundamentally equivalent to time travel: if you can time travel, you can just go back and copy the original, and if you can reverse information-theoretic death, you can "resurrect" the visible universe at whatever time and put yourself in, essentially, a simulation of a prior time.

Dumbledore has already told Harry that he tried a variant of this once and that it didn't work. "Time" didn't like that. See this quote from chapter 90:

Actually, there's a stronger example from the Standford Prison Experiment arc, which is why I already retracted this point. (Though why it doesn't work is still a legitimate and interesting question.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-05T21:49:13.476Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This problem is fundamentally equivalent to time travel: if you can time travel, you can just go back and copy the original, and if you can reverse information-theoretic death, you can "resurrect" the visible universe at whatever time and put yourself in, essentially, a simulation of a prior time.

A person is a good bit smaller than the visible universe.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-06T00:30:02.356Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, yes. But that's a practical/engineering problem. It is a useful and interesting fact that you can simulate any computer and execute any game by using a Conway's Game of Life Board of sufficient size; this does not mean that making a square-kilometer Board and hiring a few million people to update it is at all practical.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-06T03:17:26.616Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The machine required to make the universe would be larger than the universe; the machine to make a brain or person need only be bigger than the person.

There's a qualitative difference at some point along the line.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-06T05:48:26.225Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not at all. Humans are much smaller than skyscrapers, but we can design, simulate, and build skyscrapers.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-06T22:11:13.917Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you meant to say that humans can operate machinery which can do those things. The crane must be taller than the skyscraper, but we can't design a crane large enough to lift the counterbalance for a space elevator, much less actual stellar-scale engineering. There's a qualitative difference somewhere between a skyscraper and the altitudes of stable orbits.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-07T00:44:20.557Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... No?

Intelligence and creativity can replace brute force. You don't need a crane taller than a skyscraper, you just need to get taller than the skyscraper somehow - a skycrane, a ladder made of constructor robots, a collapsible crane taller than a single floor that you carry from floor to floor, so on. You definitely don't need a crane for a space elevator, you use a rocket.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-07T01:39:01.735Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Now build a skyscraper with a rocket; the two are qualitatively different. Making a person is qualitatively different from making a planet, which is qualitatively different from making a galaxy, which is qualitatively different from making a universe.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-07T03:52:20.822Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

... Okay, so we're talking past each other. Define "qualitatively different," please.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-07T05:57:46.086Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Two things are qualitatively different if no amount of either one can serve as a viable substitute for the other; TNT and U-235 are qualitatively different explosives mostly because TNT does not generate neutrons.

The construction project that makes a planet be scaled down to make one person, and the project which makes a galaxy cannot be scaled down to make a planet even though creating galaxies involves creating planets: The process by which a galaxy is created cannot be scaled down to make a single planet.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-07T08:53:45.255Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I see. Fair enough.

When I say that two processes are identical, I'm talking about a theoretical or mathematical identity, not a practical identity. If you can reverse information-theoretical death, then, at least in theory, time travel is possible; he same device may not be able to do both, but the one implies the other.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-05T22:47:32.378Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This problem is fundamentally equivalent to time travel

I agree that if you solve time travel you can also solve death, but the other implication does not hold. A possible way for Harry to "resurrect" Hermione is to scan her brain, run it through an error-correcting algorithm (to reduce/remove errors introduced from decay and it being transfigured) and then "print out" a brain that is arbitrarily similar to Hermione's brain at the moment of her death. This will of course depend on the amount of computing power available to Harry, but since he is already "destined" to tear apart the stars, that will probably not be a problem. It'll also require some "minor" scientific breakthroughs.

Now, I am not at all saying that this is Harry's plan to resurrect her (In fact I suspect his plan to be very different from this), I am merely providing an example for how you can "restore" someone who is dead without being capable of time travel.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-06T00:31:48.803Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By definition, however, an information-theoretic death means that such an error-correction scheme would be impossible; such a machine would require knowledge that, by the Uncertainty Principle, cannot be attained.

Thus, if you did have that capability regardless, it could then be used to rewind an arbitrary section of the universe to an arbitrary time, which is equivalent to time travel.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-06T01:18:36.333Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By definition, however, an information-theoretic death means that such an error-correction scheme would be impossible; such a machine would require knowledge that, by the Uncertainty Principle, cannot be attained.

Ok, now we're just talking past each other. Just googled the term "information-theoretic death" and got the following definition from wikipedia:

Information-theoretic death is the destruction of the information within a human brain (or any cognitive structure capable of constituting a person) to such an extent that recovery of the original person is theoretically impossible by any physical means.

This is obviously the situation that Harry has to avoid. If his plan was:

  1. Allow Hermione's brain to decay so much that it becomes theoretically impossible to restore it.
  2. Do something theoretically impossible.

Then his plan is just wrong.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-06T05:46:57.614Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Information-theoretic death implies the absence of time travel.

With time travel, the concept is nonsensical.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-07-06T13:03:49.746Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, that would depend entirely on whether or not time travel beyond 6 hours into the past is possible. So, in other words, it's time travel arbitrarily far back in time that would make this term nonsensical.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-07-04T22:07:48.077Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The answer s much simpler I think. He has precommitted to stay there until dinner, but the process of thining over his failures is deeply emotionally unpleasant so he really wants it to be over.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T11:27:28.814Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

One point for parsimony. Minus one point for failure to properly model the character.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-07-06T02:41:32.217Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nice idea.

If Harry wanted to do something rash to get Hermione back, messing with the Time Turner would be considered "rash". Also, Harry did conveniently manage to get his time turner unsheathed.

Harry tries something with his time turner. Harry gets a note - "Don't." Harry writes on the note, "Give Hermione back, or kiss my ass - take your pick."

comment by cultureulterior · 2013-07-04T18:53:38.794Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

"Rule 8: Any technique which is good enough to defeat me once is good enough to learn myself"

Voldemort has been defeated once. What would he do, if he wanted to learn how?

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T19:39:19.211Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I am inclined to believe that he wasn't defeated - the body everyone believes to be his had been "burnt to a crisp", which is inconsistent with everything we know about the Killing Curse.

Assuming, however, that the official account is accurate, the logical next step would be to learn the True Patronus Charm, the only thing he knows which can block a Killing Curse. He might also want to study Harry for lingering magical effects (if any such effect can endure over twelve years), though this is made more difficult by the resonance effect.

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-05T12:57:14.214Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do we know the True Patronus blocks the Killing Curse ? My own interpretation was more than Quirell-Harry magical interaction made both spells to fizzle when they interact (like in canon, where repeatedly Voldemort casting AK on Harry leads to unexpected results), but it wouldn't work with someone else casting either of the spells.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T14:12:39.949Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible. However, insofar as the True Patronus is powered by the absolute rejection of death, and the Killing Curse is pretty much death in spell form, it is plausible that one could block the other.

comment by hairyfigment · 2013-07-05T18:55:09.932Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the idea was that reality extrudes an error message when they meet, because the Source of Magic can't decide what should happen. And when this error message meets...whatever causes prophecies...we get Harry's sense of doom (which seems stronger after his first Patronus casting and then after his recent resolution). I admit that second part confuses me.

Hopefully - since the oldest prophecies we know of supposedly refer to "the end of the world and its magic" - they all result from Ohtori "It" Harry reaching back in time.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T11:31:53.083Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Nobody checked for dental history, did they?

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T11:47:25.891Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It seems unlikely that the DMLA are even aware of such techniques. However, we do not know either way.

Edit: How would anyone have access to Voldemort's original dental records in the first place? And would they be accurate given all the self-modification he apparently underwent during his time as the Dark Lord (glowing red eyes, serpentine features etc.)?

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T14:29:02.682Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wizard ignorance on muggle matters is truly spectacular...

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-05T04:35:53.253Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Assuming the official account is accurate, we have no better explanation for what happened than Rowling's love shield(though I've heard the closely related theory that it was Voldemort breaking his promise to Lily that did it, because the laws of magic somehow enforce contracts). MoR!Voldemort is not the sort to leave it as an enigma, so he's likely gone looking through obscure magical texts of the sort that he didn't check pre-death to figure out what had the power to do it. As such, he would presumably have learned the importance of true love and/or honesty, and altered his tactics accordingly, which may be why Quirrelmort is noticeably less evil-acting than Voldemort.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T09:20:11.088Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort didn't break his promise to Lily - he intended to, presumably, but Lily broke her side first by trying to kill him instead of acting like a willing sacrifice.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-26T19:27:57.011Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

First, I am certain that he completely anticipated her response. Desperate pleas aside, she wouldn't have trusted that he would have really left Harry alive. He gave her a few seconds to think, come to that conclusion, and then she tried to the only option she thought she had left.

Second, the wording was:

"Very well," said the voice of death, now sounding coldly amused, "I accept the bargain. Yourself to die, and the child to live. Now drop your wand so that I can murder you."

The only part of the bargain that she had to uphold was dying.

Though I'm not at all certain that the scene is what it looks like.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2013-07-06T19:45:10.532Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe the love-magic is the essential tool in Voldemort's new plan. He's going to induce Harry to love all of humanity in the same way that Harry's mother loved him, and then make him die protecting them. They'll all be unkillable and the Voldemort's fears of a nuclear apocalypse will never materialize.

comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T00:52:13.397Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's a nice idea, but love-magic doesn't actually make people immortal. It wouldn't prevent nuclear apocalypse in the long run.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-08T03:40:10.928Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Harry should love all of humanity, and then get killed by a nuclear bomb, thereby giving all of humanity immunity to nuclear bombs.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T15:50:58.222Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

For the foreshadowing pile:

Chapter 20 (on the Pioneer plaque):

"So I am going to violate rule two - which was simply 'don't brag' - and tell you about something I have done. I don't see how the knowledge could do any harm. And I strongly suspect you would have figured it out anyway, once we knew each other well enough."

Chapter 46:

"Tell me, Mr. Potter, if you wanted to lose something where no one would ever find it again, where would you put it?"

Harry considered this question. "I suppose I shouldn't ask what you've found that needs losing -"

"Quite," said Professor Quirrell, as Harry had expected; and then, "Perhaps you will be told when you are older," which Harry hadn't.

Edit: Chapter 49:

"One might even regret your infant self's victory," said Professor Quirrell. His smile twisted. "If only You-Know-Who had lived, you might have persuaded him to teach you some of the knowledge that would have been your heritage, from one Heir of Slytherin to another." The smile twisted further, as though to mock the obvious impossibility, even given the premise.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-04T15:11:01.140Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, the Department of Mysteries has a room filled with preserved brains, presumably for research. For unexplained reasons, it includes a quick connection to the death room (where the vale is located). Ron, under the influence of an unknown mind-altering spell (confunding?), summoned one of the brains, and it attacked him with a silvery substance that sounds like a more solid version of the typical memories put into pensives. (This left scars, and seemed to break Ron out of the spell before silencing him.). Later, someone (I forget who, but a member of the Order of the Phoenix) commented that Ron would be fine, but the marks left by thoughts were deep--implication being that the silvery ribbons that came from the brain and grappled him were thoughts.

We don't know, based just on that evidence, that the Department of Mysteries can preserve human brains, or that said brains are capable of some form of thought in that state. What we do know is that they had tanks of the brains (I seem to remember it being several tanks, but I'm not sure), they seem to be in good condition for all that non-neurologist Harry can tell, and that they resisted Ron's accio with a projection that a knowledgeable wizard described as thoughts.

It makes me wonder what would happen if MoR Harry broke into the Department of Mysteries in his current state. (You know, in the few minutes before he found a way to open the "no, seriously, do not open this door" door and destroyed the universe.)

comment by Sherincall · 2013-07-04T15:27:53.121Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Unlikely to ever make an appearance, due to meta-knowledge:

Jura Ryvrmre fgnegrq guvf fgbel, ur unqa'g ernq gur obbxf, naq gubfr fprarf qba'g nccrne va gur zbivrf. Jr nyfb xabj gung ur xarj rknpgyl jung unccraf sebz gur fgneg, fb ur unq guvf cynaarq orsber ernqvat nobhg gur QbZ oenvaf.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-04T15:39:21.582Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent point, though gur jnl Uneel zragvbaf Ibyqrzbeg'f syvtug va uvf Qrzragbe synfuonpx vzcyvrf Ryvrmre ng yrnfg yrnearq ubj zhpu ovttre n qrny gung jnf va gur obbxf guna va gur zbivrf, nygubhtu fb sne vg'f orra n guebj-njnl yvar, fb vg qbrfa'g ernyyl punatr gur cbvag.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-04T14:56:37.182Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

"Harry Verres"? What happened to "James Potter Evans"? I'm not sure what this means but I don't think EY is such a careless author that it means nothing. Maybe it's just intended to emphasize Harry's connection to his adoptive parents, but just maybe...

Is anyone else suddenly wondering what really happened to James Potter and Lily Evans 10 years prior? Have we seen their bodies? Harry "remembered" their deaths while demented, but given the emphasis on false memory charms in this story, that's not reliable. And we still don't know exactly why the Remembrall lit up when Harry grabbed it.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-07-04T17:26:41.395Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Unlike Potter and Evans, Verres is a name with no connection to the wizarding world.

comment by pedanterrific · 2013-07-06T00:31:24.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It has as much connection as Evans, I should think.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2013-07-04T17:03:01.802Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Has anyone else noticed that Quirrell knew James Potter?

"James Potter," said Professor Quirrell, his eyes narrowing. "The boy is not much like James Potter.

comment by robryk · 2013-07-04T17:16:25.342Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

No, this means that the person Quirrell is pretending to be knew James Potter. So, either Quirrell's image of David Monroe knew James or Quirrell is inserting an inconsistency.

comment by Nornagest · 2013-07-04T19:49:27.363Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't seem likely to be an inconsistency to me. James (and Lily) Potter were members of the Order of the Phoenix during the last war. I don't recall David Monroe being a member of that group in this continuity, but he was an active member of the opposition. It stands to reason that moderately important opposition figures would have known each other, especially since there seem to have been relatively few people actively involved in the war on either side.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-04T20:02:01.793Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Moody's wording in ch86 seems to imply the Order may not have even existed before Monroe 'died':

"Flush of gratitude and all that," Mad-Eye Moody said sourly. "It didn't last, but at least James and Lily got a fancy title and a useless medal to take to their graves. But that's leaving out eight years of complete horror after Monroe disappeared and Regulus Black - he was Monroe's private source in the Death Eaters, we're pretty sure - was executed by Voldie. Like a dam breaking and gore flooding out, drowning the whole country. Albus bloody Dumbledore himself had to step into Monroe's shoes, and that was barely enough for us to survive."

(Although you could argue that Monroe had formed and was the head of the Order, and that is what Moody meant.)

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T13:38:44.124Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Although you could argue that Monroe had formed and was the head of the Order, and that is what Moody meant.

Then it's less likely that it would have been called the order of the Phoenix.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T17:07:43.753Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

If Quirrell is Voldemort, which is more or less a foregone conclusion at this point, then James and Lily are "those who have thrice defied him". It seems natural to assume that he would know a certain amount about them. He also observed James's behaviour in the face of mortal danger to him and his family, which I imagine tells you a lot about a person.

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-04T17:56:30.916Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The boy is not much like David Cameron either. I haven't met David Cameron, but still feel qualified to make that assertion.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T18:22:36.136Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

James Potter was not a David Cameron-level celebrity before his death; even if he were a celebrity, I strongly doubt that one could understand his reasoning processes from only what was reported in the Daily Prophet.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T04:55:29.071Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The "soulsplosion," in Hermione's death, was extremely hard to miss. But it was notably absent in a previous wizarding death we supposedly witnessed: Harry's mother's death. This has provided some unexpected confirmatory evidence for an old pet theory of mine: that Harry's memory of his parents' death was faked. I can only assume someone else brought a similar theory up around here before, so I won't go into too much detail.

If it were a false memory, though, why would the soulsplosion be missing? Well, we get an answer for that in Chapter 86: some things can't be adequately faked in false memories. If whoever created the false memory had included a false wizard's death, Harry might have wondered what exactly the strange light show was; if he had researched it, he might have realized that what he remembered was faked. But Harry had never seen a wizard die before; an omitted soulsplosion would therefore arouse no suspicions, whereas a faked one might. Hence there was none.

comment by knb · 2013-07-05T05:01:05.748Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There is no reason to believe the burst of magical energy happens in every magical death. It could be something that only happens under particular circumstances, or for particular types of wizards/witches. For example, the killing curse might kill people too quickly for them to understand that they are dying.

Another possibility is that it can only be perceived under certain circumstances.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-07-05T06:56:21.811Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

For example, the killing curse might kill people too quickly for them to understand that they are dying.

Or the Killing Curse destroys the soul (as does the Dementor's Kiss), whereas bleeding to death merely releases it from the body.

A test: Are there any ghosts of people killed by Avada Kedavra? Ghosts are noted as being only echoes of the dead person — but if they are echoes formed by the release of an intact soul, then there would not be one for anyone killed in a way that consumes the soul, such as Avada Kedavra or the Dementor's Kiss.

(I can't think of any in canon. The four House Ghosts were all killed by mundane means, and Moaning Myrtle by a basilisk's stare.)

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-05T09:43:39.640Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do the temporary ghosts of resurrection stone and "priori incantatem" count for you ?

That could only work if "permanent" ghosts are really made from souls (Dumbledore hypothesis), but the temporary ghosts are made from memories (HJPEV hypothesis). While it's not impossible to have both mechanism, Occam's razor gives it a low prior, I would more suspect the same mechanism behind both.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-05T13:49:42.556Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or the Killing Curse destroys the soul (as does the Dementor's Kiss), whereas bleeding to death merely releases it from the body.

In the original HP canon, people killed by AK appeared to Harry near the end of the last book, when he ambiguously crosses over into the afterlife.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T14:11:25.034Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

McGonagall tells Harry that the Killing Curse "strikes at the soul, severing it from the body".

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-05T19:34:10.710Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, Quirrell says that it will "instantly kill anything with a brain." I'd be careful about assigning too much evidence to McGonagall's pronouncement, since it's likely that she doesn't really have the information necessary to isolate that conclusion.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T14:17:07.372Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or the Killing Curse destroys the soul (as does the Dementor's Kiss), whereas bleeding to death merely releases it from the body.

McGonagall tells Harry that the Killing Curse "strikes at the soul, severing it from the body".

Well, looks like that objection is dealt with.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T14:29:12.855Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How did this get here?

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T12:23:59.438Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Or that it's detected via one's magical sense, and baby-Harry didn't have it properly developed yet.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T13:13:12.476Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That hypothesis is one that I considered. However, Harry can see every other magical effect just fine; he has no problem with the Avada Kedavra or any of Voldemort's special effects. Of course, if the memory is real, it must have been stored magically, and "enough magic to record magical memories but not enough to see the special effects" sounds like a very specific level of magic. The AK rebound, if it actually happened, may also indicate that Harry had enough magic for his resonance with Quirrell.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T22:40:35.849Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

However, Harry can see every other magical effect just fine; he has no problem with the Avada Kedavra or any of Voldemort's special effects.

He doesn't see anything a Muggle wouldn't see. There's no reason to think the green light part of Avada Kedavra is magical.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-10T15:07:52.013Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, it seems to be visible. to Muggles. The scene where Voldemort kills the Riddle House caretaker seems to imply that (although not fully since it turns out we are getting the scene from Harry's mental connection to Voldemort).

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-05T05:01:51.192Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I might accept that if it weren't for the fact that I have plenty of other good reasons to suspect that particular memory. This piece of evidence, like any other, isn't conclusive. But it certainly helps. (Also, all of your qualifiers incur some complexity penalty, particularly "types of wizards.")

comment by shminux · 2013-07-04T17:30:08.411Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I think we are now well past Ender and on to Ender after the buggers kill Valentine.

Any creative souls want to imagine how this omake would go?

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T23:43:40.336Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

On a side note, this probably should've really, really worried Michael.

... For that matter, it probably did.

comment by tgb · 2013-07-05T19:42:15.412Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

V jbaqre vs Ryvrmre vapyhqrq guvf (naq cbffvoyl bguref) nf n jnl bs znxvat gur ernqre hapregnva bs nal fcbvyre-evqqra ersreraprf ur cynprf guebhtubhg gur grkg. Abj V pna fgvyy uneobe hapregnvagl vs RL unf Uneel gnyx nobhg Nanxva orpbzr Qnegu Inqre.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-07-04T14:31:49.528Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

... Snape was not in the list of people told to deflect Harry from questions about spell creation.

Canon Snape both created spells and had some of Voldemort's hoarded lore.

And Harry does not know this. Or at least, we have no reason to believe that he does, and the fact that he didn't ask Snape about either seems like further evidence that he doesn't know (although, he knows that Snape did not resurrect Lillie, so might not have thought it worth pursuing).

I suppose this information is more frustrating than useful, since I don't expect Harry to be learning that Snape is a potential resource for anything that the Defense Professor deflects him from. (Well, so is Dumbledore, but we know how Dumbledore feels about it.)

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-07-04T14:47:23.633Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

He also doesn't particularly trust Snape; Snape is still on his list of potential suspects.

Of course, Quirrell is also high on his list, but having already become part of (in a sense, the entirety of) his inner circle, it's hard to kick him out again.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T21:41:25.500Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Snape is a professor. Why wouldn't he ask Snape?

He obviously can't ask everyone, but I'd expect he'd at least ask the professors, some of the more promising students, and any student who seems to create a spell. And maybe all of Hogwarts.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-04T12:05:04.159Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

So, what did Harry do in that minute and a half he had with Hermione's body?

My best guess is that he transfigured her body into something, then transfigured something else into a copy of her body. Either that or he just used partial transfiguration on her brain and left the rest of the body behind as unimportant.

It's just not like Harry to just abandon his efforts to preserve her body, especially after he took care to keep it cold. If he has her brain transfigured into a coin or something, that should suffice as a preservation method.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-07-04T12:10:51.509Z · score: 24 (24 votes) · LW · GW

You'll notice that he made sure no-one went in the room for several hours, during which he had his Time-Turner unlocked. He then went in there himself.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-04T12:17:26.420Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't explain what the past him was doing. Had six hours past between the troll attack and then? Even if not, it seems a wast of time to sit for awhile and just waste time when he could have done his traveling back immediately after his time-turner was unlocked.

comment by davidchart · 2013-07-04T14:42:10.749Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW · GW

I think Harry spent the time sitting in front of the room planning what he was going to do to revive Hermione, because what went wrong when he got her killed was largely due to time constraints. It is explicitly stated that he was there for hours, and Minerva says it looks like years have passed when he comes out. So, I also think that whatever Harry planned, and then tried for several hours, did not work, and he came out with Hermione still dead. He is saying that there is nothing left to plan at the beginning of 92, whereas after he cools Hermione he thinks that he now has time to think. That strongly suggests he thought, tried the plan, and it failed.

On the other hand, Minerva has been told explicitly that people have generally not done everything they can, teaches Transfiguration, and quite definitely feels terrible over Hermione's death. She is also free to use the Time-Turner. So, yes, I also think she went back, Transfigured herself into Hermione, and let herself be killed, as that was, by that point, the only way to save Hermione's life. She probably borrowed Harry's invisibility cloak to hide Hermione from all the people who mustn't know that she is still alive if she is to survive. That hasn't happened yet, but there is still time. (Note that she also identifies with the other specified victim of the troll, Mrs Norris.)

This is well within Minerva's capabilities as stated, explains who was asking for the troll to be led away (Hermione under a cloak), and fits with Dumbledore's comment about losing another friend instead. It also has the potential to appease the feminists, because Hermione is saved by a woman acting heroically after Harry has failed.

I also find it a lot easier to live with. My reaction to death has got stronger as I've got older, and I cope a lot more easily with someone sacrificing themselves to save someone else than with someone just being killed. Agency matters. I still feel a bit sorry for the troll, though.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T15:48:24.552Z · score: 12 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know about the feminists, but I'd be happier if there were more than one female rationalist in the story. And I'd definitely be interested to see a rationalist Minerva taking part rather than dead.

One trope I've gotten very tired of is the character who becomes much wiser and/or better and then dies almost immediately. I want to see how the improved version handles their life.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T16:04:18.101Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

A rationalist Minerva would be great, but I must admit my scepticism of how far she can get. She has a lot to unlearn compared to someone like Hermione, and her only potential mentors are Harry (who has too much else on his mind) and Quirrell (who is Quirrell).

comment by edkeyes · 2013-07-04T18:38:33.778Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The likelihood of this theory is definitely boosted by "Hermione's" last words, as that's exactly the message that a disguised McG would want to give him.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-05T21:18:52.166Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

...it is? So you're saying Hermione would, as she lay dying, want to tell Harry it was all his fault?

comment by faul_sname · 2013-07-05T23:23:36.182Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, edkeyes is saying that McG would have a higher chance of saying that if she were dying than Hermione would have of saying that if she were dying. Hermione might want to say something completely unrelated.

comment by Ambition · 2013-07-05T04:01:41.940Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Harry told his patronus to specifically seek out Hermione, which lead him to the Troll. He also got a response back of "AHHHHHHHHHH", which seems suspicious enough, but not completely solid evidence. These details don't seem to match up with the idea that somebody else died in Hermione's place.

I think we are meant to assume that Hermione did die, or at least experienced something close enough to death that Dumbledore was alerted.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-05T12:12:14.878Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Seeing a glowing super bright human patronus for the first time might be enough to get an ' "AHHHHHHHHHH"'

comment by Decius · 2013-07-06T03:36:05.709Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

While stunned, under an invisibility cloak, watching someone transfigured into you die...

comment by Ambition · 2013-07-05T19:09:03.620Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fair point.

comment by jkaufman · 2013-07-04T20:21:01.477Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If we're thinking of who else might have been in Hermione's place, McGonagall only kind of fits:

"There was a burst of something that was magic and also more, a shout louder than an earthquake and containing a thousand books, a thousand libraries, all spoken in a single cry that was Hermione; too vast to be understood, except that Harry suddenly knew that Hermione had whited out the pain, and was glad not to be dying alone."

That's a very Ravenclaw way to die. Who fits better?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T03:16:01.995Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Any member of the Verres family.

comment by maia · 2013-07-04T22:11:09.240Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think this theory is cool, and sort of hope that this is what happened. But... Dumbledore says he felt a student die. Whatever magical detection he uses for this probably wouldn't trigger for Polyjuiced McGonagall.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T03:16:54.325Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I bet the Deputy Headmistress can enroll students at will.

comment by drethelin · 2013-07-04T23:15:34.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unless she told him what her plan was before he encountered harry.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T22:19:27.748Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What about Transfiguration, which is what davidchart talks about? If you are literally becoming another copy of an existing student, perhaps this interacts with the wards differently than merely drinking a potion that alters your appearance.

(Yes, transfiguring yourself into another living being is fatal, but not straight away, and this is a suicide mission)

comment by Username · 2013-07-05T01:12:16.557Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mcgonagal would have to have someone else transfigure her, or else the spell would end when she dies. (Perhaps dumbledore? Not sure he would go for it.) Polyjuice would be another approach, but it wears off after an hour, so dumbledore would have to do another body swap after Hermione/mcgonagal is killed. Again, not sure he would go for it. Who else? Quirrel might be desperate enough. Snape is loose but I don't see him going for it.

So several things would have to fall into place but the plot buildup is definitely there.

comment by davidchart · 2013-07-05T09:22:03.267Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Wasn't there a story about someone who accidentally Polyjuiced herself into a cat and, instead of getting help, hid from the teachers, so she got stuck cat-like? McGonagall could turn into a cat and Polyjuice herself into Hermione from that state, to get the effect deliberately. The waxy, doll-like appearance could be a side-effect of deliberately botched Polyjuice. Or... Hermione could Transfigure McGonagall. Hard, but quite possibly just within her capabilities, with guidance.

The ward message is a problem, but, as jaibot suggested, maybe McGonagall enrolled herself as a student. Or maybe the wards sound the same for students and teachers, and Dumbledore interpreted it when he saw "Hermione" dead.

The description of the death scene is Harry's interpretation, not objective truth.

At this point in the narrative, I can add epicycles to deal with the problems, which is just as it should be. It is a beautiful theory (and my baby!), and I still have a few hours before the really ugly facts show up.

Edit: And here they are. The tragedy of theories strikes again…

comment by gwern · 2013-07-06T16:42:10.647Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It is a beautiful theory (and my baby!), and I still have a few hours before the really ugly facts show up.

My condolences. It really was a nice way to save Hermione.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-07-04T12:27:58.332Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't explain what he was doing, but it does mean he has a lot longer than one and a half minutes to do it.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-04T12:57:36.458Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I see what you mean. Good catch. That broadens up the possibilities a bit. In any case, he almost certainly was doing something to preserve Hermione's body. He certainly wouldn't just abandon it like that.

comment by davidchart · 2013-07-04T13:06:08.944Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, it looks like the first version of this did break a convention, and a strikethru won't stop it annoying people, so let's edit it as well and put a new post up.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-04T14:16:21.995Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

On the one hand, some things make it look like he did something of great significance there. (Which is why this subthread is happening at all.)

On the other hand, ch.92 seems to show Harry, from his own point of view, at least convinced that Hermione is lost-and-gone-for-ever and that there's nothing he can do about it. Which means that either Eliezer is deceiving his readers in ways I think he wouldn't, or Harry has managed to memory-charm himself, or he hasn't done anything that (from his own perspective) gives a substantial chance of saving or recovering her. The first two of those three options seem pretty unlikely to me.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T23:12:43.516Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It strikes me that Harry just asked how to use Memory Charms, and he has access to a time turner...

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T12:07:20.247Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Would it make more sense to just save her brain instead of saving her whole body?

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-04T14:41:03.574Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Figuring out how to resurrect the dead will be hard enough. Figuring out the way the brain connects to the body and reconnecting all the individual nerve connections makes the challenge much harder. I'm not sure we know all the connections even now with much better technology and decades of additional scholarship. Saving just the brain makes the problem much harder. Keep in mind that the reasons actual cryo sites offer brain only options has a lot to to with cost, storage, transport, etc and not due to thinking its a fundamentally better option.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-04T15:17:26.403Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

a fundamentally better option.

But it is fundamentally better: the smaller the volume you are trying to vitrify, the better the process works because the greater surface area is compared to volume, and so you get faster and more even cooling (and in humans, you get problems with circulation getting blocked off after a certain point). Go read through http://chronopause.com/ . This is why you can drop small things into LN2 and they recover fine, or why Fahy could do a kidney and bring it back, but why we can't do larger things.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-06T03:38:13.432Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Those are instrumentally better reasons, not fundamentally better.

comment by Ishaan · 2013-07-04T16:13:46.780Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Figuring out the way the brain connects to the body and reconnecting all the individual nerve connections makes the challenge much harder.

I study neuroscience. You may know something I don't, but I think body transplants would be a lot easier than resurrecting the dead, as long as you save the first few sections of the spinal chord as well - repairing broken spinal chords, albeit imperfectly, is somewhat in the realm of current technology. If we're talking magic, I don't think spinal chord injuries would even be a big deal.

Edit: never mind everything written below about the freezing

I was quite disappointed when Harry just froze her like that. The rapidly expanding ice will destroy much of her data - in real cryonics you pump 'em full of antifreeze to prevent this. Even if he revives her, she might not quite be the same now. He should have transfigured her head into a small crystalline structure and later found some way to securely maintain the spell (and if no one knows he did it, the pesky authorities won't try to take off the spell).

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T16:15:27.344Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Harry didn't freeze her. He cooled her to 5° Celsius, equivalent to 41° Fahrenheit and well above the freezing point.

comment by Ishaan · 2013-07-04T16:23:41.503Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Oops...somehow my imagination inserted freezing! In that case, he really aught to contact a team of muggle and wizard doctors and have them swap knowledge immediately...(might be too risky for other reasons, of course)

comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T00:07:45.042Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Or your mind read Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. I originally thought that he froze her until I read more carefully. (This is presumably a risk primarily for American readers.)

comment by jkaufman · 2013-07-04T20:25:27.899Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think body transplants would be a lot easier than resurrecting the dead

Definitely. There's been some news around this: HEAVEN: The head anastomosis venture Project outline for the first human head transplantation with spinal linkage (GEMINI.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-04T19:03:53.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think think I know anything you don't. It's possible I just have a dated conception of how hard it is to repair severed nerves.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-04T12:15:14.273Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, on reflection that branch of my theory looks more likely.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2013-07-04T18:55:51.780Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Two small points:

  1. Chapter 91 was creepy, especially when I tried imagining 11 year old Daniel Radcliffe speaking Harry's dialog. There will probably never be a live-action HPMOR.
  2. I'm really impressed with how Quirrellmort is being written here. I expected him to start being somewhat unsubtle at this point, but I was wrong and he's being more subtle than ever.
comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T00:53:32.762Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I usually imagine rational!harry as 20-year-old Daniel Radcliffe. Try as I might, I just can't imagine him as an 11-year-old. The few occasions when the story thrusts his age to my attention are always jarring.

comment by solipsist · 2013-07-06T01:48:19.094Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Possible legilimency episode during Quirrell's tirade to McGonagall:

"You." Professor Quirrell spun, and she found herself gazing directly into eyes of icy blue.

...

A wordless image crossed her mind of a patch of glass on a steel ball.

This could be Quirrell finding out about Harry's partial transfiguration. More likely, it is nothing.

comment by Spurlock · 2013-07-07T02:14:08.721Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like this theory. But it's worth noting that Moody claimed that Voldemort could legilimens without making eye contact. EY seems pretty big on Conservation of Detail, so there's a good chance that this will turn out to be important. Of course, Conservation of Detail also weighs in favor of this eye-locking episode being important, so I suppose it could go either way.

Or both: perhaps sightless legilimency is handicap-inducing like wandless magic, so eye contact might be required to read a witch as powerful as Minerva.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-26T15:52:32.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

He already had a clue in the form of the hole Harry had transfigured in the wall of the Azkaban.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2013-07-06T20:13:18.482Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"I am smarter than you. I think faster than you. I am more experienced than you. But the gap between the two of us is not the same as the gap between us and them. If you can miss something, then so can I."

Did somebody just get marked as an equal here is that it?

comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T01:54:46.485Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not yet, but the gap is small.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T18:12:30.660Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What does anyone make of Quirrel's claim to be David Monroe?

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T19:51:25.233Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

It means that it's confirmed that Quirrell wants people to think he's secretly David Monroe. I'd be wary of drawing any other conclusions, though it does seem more likely that Quirrell pretended to be Monroe during the war.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T18:26:49.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mean in general, or in Chapter 92?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T19:30:59.566Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In Chapter 92.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T19:34:26.826Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I have no theories yet. I did, however, just come across the following in my re-reading (chapter 60):

The Defense Professor's eyes were still in shadow, dark pits that could not be met. "Call it a whim, Mr. Potter. It has sometimes amused me to play the part of a hero. Who knows but that You-Know-Who would say the same."

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T13:15:57.920Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do we actually know (or strongly suspect) why Dumbledore hired Quirrell? It seems like when hiring a Defense Professor, "you may not investigate my true identity" should be a red light on the scale of a supernova, and Dumbledore may or may not be insane, but he is not stupid, and he's certainly never shown any sign of trusting Quirrell.

comment by ygert · 2013-07-04T13:37:35.965Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

It is impossible to hire good Defense Professors. Full Stop. The position is heavily cursed, and anyone who takes it leaves within the year. Practically no one will take the post in the position. Under these circumstances, if someone is willing to be the defense professor, well, that means Hogwarts has a defense professor this year. Again, this is a job no one wants after all these years of mishaps befalling the defense professors, like clockwork, every year.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T13:45:05.146Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I know it would defuse the whole dramatic potential of the thing, but has the wizarding world really not heard of one-year contracts? After all, there seems to be no rule that the professor has to leave due to harm coming to him or her, and many appear to leave due to circumstances set in motion before their arrival (like pre-existing incompetence).

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-05T04:12:41.293Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Lupin, Umbridge, and Snape all survive their terms as Defence professor essentially intact. One is drummed out by PR pressure, and two get promotions. Out of six total, that's not an awful record.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-27T03:06:07.149Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

...what?

Lupin was publicly outed as the wizarding version of a leper, if every leper was considered a serial killer, and this information that will not become secret again later. If he was having trouble keeping himself employed before...

Umbridge was freaking gang-raped by centaurs, traumatizing her. I mean, she got better and did get a nice position later, but...jeez.

Snape did survive a whole extra year, that's true, but then he died. By the hand of the same person who implemented the curse, by the by. It could be a coincidence...but maybe not.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-08-27T22:48:04.609Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lupin seems to have done okay. Yeah, being outed is unpleasant, but it doesn't seem to have really affected him.

Umbridge...well, I have difficulty believing that even Voldemort would include bestial gang-rape as part of a curse. And while it is again something I wouldn't want to have happen(to put it lightly), she doesn't seem the worse for wear - she's not any crazier after than before.

The Snape angle is interesting, though - I never thought of it that way.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-28T14:47:25.858Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I assumed he kept working for Dumbledore, via the Order of the Phoenix. At the very least, after Voldemort did rise again. He certainly was being kept busy enough by them from the 5th year on.

I don't really have this difficulty, but alright. I doubt he specified anything in the casting--it could be as simple as "they leave the position before the end of the year in a manner that makes them feel regret." Snape would certainly regret having to kill Dumbledore.

I know, the levels of Umbridge's trauma at the end of 5th year is inconsistent with how she was seen later. I thought that mental magics were involved, but I admit it's speculative.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-27T03:07:40.882Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Moody did have a one-year contract--when he introduces himself to the classroom, he says he'll only be there for the year. And yet he didn't exactly get off free and easy, either.

comment by gwern · 2013-08-27T15:13:17.815Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, but that was the fake Moody - nothing he says can be trusted.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-27T19:34:19.924Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

An open lie, which could easily get back to the headmaster ("why can't the cool Auror guy stay for more than one year?") would be an exceedingly foolish way to start the year. Amusing nevertheless.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T21:39:07.830Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen a fanfic where they started using that loophole.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-07-04T14:19:53.205Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why doesn't Dumbledore just diffuse the responsibility? Have battles like the current ones run by different teachers throughout the year, and also have each teacher, in their own lessons, teach a bit more practically about their spells?

Or is a tradition thing, like the snitch? Will people not let Dumbledore get rid of Defence Against the Dark Arts, even though it means their children won't learn anything?

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-04T14:51:15.251Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

A risky plan. What if dividing the subject among 20 profs made all 20 of them subject to the curse and lost the entire faculty? In the wizarding world, messing with things you don't understand extremely well can be dangerous.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T15:00:06.174Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

That's a very good point I hadn't considered.

I wonder if Dumbledore has actually done any experimenting over the last 50 years, like the one-year contracts I suggest downthread, or having two staff members rotate responsibility each year (and teach something innocuous like Muggle Studies in the meantime).

A also wonder what kind of curse would have such an incredibly powerful effect, and whether Voldemort could have used a scaled-down version of it to, say, get Dumbledore out of the headmaster position. Bearing in mind the original curse was cast before Voldemort had even achieved his full power.

comment by hairyfigment · 2013-07-06T05:44:21.697Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, we have some reason to believe Voldemort cast a literal curse on the position long ago.

In MOR, we have little reason to believe Voldemort ever lost his original body, and almost no reason to think that he's been a powerless ghost.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T14:35:00.757Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It would be very hard to implement. Hogwarts only seems to have one teacher per subject, and many of those have given no sign of usefulness outside their own subject area (Hooch, Sprout, Sinistra) or indeed within it (Binns, Trelawney). They would struggle to take on the content of the DADA curriculum even collectively.

We do know that some past defense professors have been effective even during just one year - Tonks is considered Auror material, for example, and she didn't pick all of that up from Quirrell. So abolishing the subject would be a step too far, not to mention that it would lead Hogwarts into conflict with the Ministry for failing to follow the national curriculum.

comment by Fuyu · 2013-07-04T15:20:16.164Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I thought that was because Tonks trained under Moody?

"Sign up for the Auror preparation program in your sixth year," said Susan. "It's the next best thing. Oh, and if a famous Auror (assumed it was referring to Moody?) offers to oversee your summer internship, just ignore anyone who warns you that he's a terrible influence or that you're almost certainly going to die."

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T15:26:39.714Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but one assumes that Moody doesn't offer to oversee someone's summer internship unless they've really impressed him.

comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-07-04T17:10:05.899Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

She is a born shapeshifter. Of the line of Black. Moody offered to oversee that internship to learn who she was, because it would be fracking stupid not to. Finding out that Tonks is astonishingly decent people must have been the best news Moody got in decades.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-04T13:55:03.597Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Probably because Quirrell is insanely good at being a Defense Professor. After a long string of incompetents, I might be willing to overlook a little "obviously evil" if it meant getting the best Defense Professor in a century.

comment by drethelin · 2013-07-04T23:10:37.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Being sinister and secretive is also a common Slytherin behavior, and they're not ALL evil. It's also possible he thinks he hired an incognito David Munroe.

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-04T13:34:13.515Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore seems quiet desperate to find a Defense professor, so much he'll accept about anyone (except Snape, but I guess that's because he wants to keep Snape in Hogwarts for more than one year), both in canon and in MoR. He keeps a close eye on the defense professor then (or at least, he does in MoR, he didn't seem to do it much in canon).

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-04T19:07:13.457Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm actually starting to believe Eric_M_S is right, and Harry might use the resurrection ritual - blood of the foe, bone of the ancestor, flesh of the servant. No, I don't know how he'd source Draco's blood, Quirrell being out of the question, and the bone is a tall order as well, even with both parents at Hogwarts and Harry apparently about to learn the Obliviation spell. Perhaps a tooth will do? They are dentists...

But it's still a wonderful idea, because it pays off the story's Star Wars references, in particular the comparison of Neville to Darth Vader. If a lightsaber spell is introduced in the second act, someone must lose his hand to it in the third.

Neville Longbottom cuts off Ron Weasley's hand with a lightsaber. This has to happen.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T19:44:33.248Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Truly awesome though that wouuld be, as others pointed out in the thread you link, there's no reason to believe that said ritual works on the properly dead.

Furthermore, think about the implications if it did work - everyone who knows about it, including all Death Eaters, would have those three items readied in case of their unexpected demise, and would thus be functionally invincible.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T21:47:32.632Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see why bone would be difficult, given that it doesn't have to be taken from a living ancestor. Not unless Dumbledore prepared for this and warded their graves.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-04T21:58:38.923Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry's unable to leave Hogwarts. There could be ways around the restriction, but they add complexity to the solution.

ETA: Which, to be clear, looks completely unworkable on its in-universe merits. The real problem is that Harry's never heard a full description of the ritual, neither Dumbledore nor Voldemort would give him one, and Voldemort would have stolen the book that contains it.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T22:01:56.581Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Then again, it could be "bone of a living ancestor, unknowingly bequeathed". Now we know why Madam Pomfrey's the one in charge of the Grangers...

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-05T04:38:00.236Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort's father's bone is sufficient in canon. Tom Riddle Sr. is long dead.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-07-04T23:41:40.853Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Then why would they have been poisoning the bones of Voldemort's dead ancestors?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T03:57:34.988Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps a tooth will do? They are dentists...

Maybe, though I don't think teeth have any actual bone in them. But I'm sure a pinky toe wouldn't be missed. Not so much as one's child, anyway.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T04:33:41.602Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think teeth have any bone in them either. I'm perplexed by the number of serious criticisms this comment has received. I was telling a joke. Does it not read like one?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T05:19:36.795Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not really, but all of the responses sound friendly to me. Mine certainly was.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-05T08:30:59.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is there anyone who qualifies as a servent for Hermoine?

As far as foes go, the troll might be viable.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-07-05T18:25:29.361Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Harry himself could be viable too... not the best, but could work.

Also, where's the philosopher's stone? That was supposed to be the best way, in canon.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T19:33:09.725Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Still in the third-floor corridor, as far as we know. But while we know it can extend life (and in canon, you have to keep brewing and taking Elixir of Youth for that to work), there's no hint that it can bring back the dead.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-07-06T16:37:28.217Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not the dead-as-a-doornail, on its own - but given that it was Voldemort's preferred method, it seems like something that continues to be relevant after some form of death. Could come in handy in some way.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-09T12:32:38.153Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It might work as part of a two-step resurrection process, with the first step being to get Hermione as alive as the shade of Voldemort was in canon. Of course, that would rely on the existence of souls, which Harry does not believe in.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T12:01:20.463Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The story looks more and more like it will end with Harry destroying the whole world. It would highlite the existential risk that comes from scientists who try to do everything in their power.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2013-07-04T13:52:36.556Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW · GW

I'm expecting a positive ending for a few reasons, one of which is that since this is rationality propaganda I doubt Eliezer wants to portray Harry's super-rationality as having ultimately bad results.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T17:08:11.602Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It's rationality propaganda that isn't supposed to encourage people to accelerate the way to unfriendly AI but rationality propaganda that is supposed to prevent unfriendly AI from happening.

As far as the story goes, Harry is very rational but Quirrell is on a level where he outplays Harry. In the end Harry is a bit a projection of how Eliezer sees his own childhold self.

On the one hand Eliezer was very smart and rational. On the other hand he was delusional because he didn't take unfriendly AI seriously as something that can actually happen in reality.

A little bit of knowledge is dangerous. Creating people with enough rationality to do damage but not enough rationality to see the dangers of the whole enterprise isn't in the interests of MIRI.

If the reader learns that just being rational doesn't mean that you and that you better think before you mess with powers outside your control like an AGI, Eliezer teaches a very valuable lesson.

The hero always wins isn't a rationality lesson.


As far evidence in the story goes, Harry is rational because Petunia got a beauty portion from her sister. He sister got told from a centaur that the world would end when she gave Petunia the portion.

It's in chapter 1. (edit: I first mistakenly wrote chapter 10)

Now we have "HE IS HERE. THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY STARS IN HEAVEN. HE IS HERE. HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD." at the end of chapter 89.

Quirrelmort takes it extremly seriously. He makes a point that when he was hypersmart Voldemort, he respected some sensible boundaries.

Quirrelmort is the person who fears that scientists will destroy the earth. He shares the fear to which Eliezer pledged his life.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T17:38:59.374Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

As far evidence in the story goes, Harry is rational because Petunia got a beauty portion from her sister. He sister got told from a centaur that the world would end when she gave Petunia the portion.

-

"And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to - the most ridiculous things, and I hated her for it."

You're conflating two different reasons there. Also, Lily was not stupid. I find it hard to believe that she could receive an apocalypse prophecy and not share it with Dumbledore at the very least. There is no evidence whatsoever that Dumbledore is aware of a prophecy connecting Harry to the end of the world.

Edit: Also, having gone through Chapter 10, I can't see anything there which supports your theory.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T21:11:58.086Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, my mistake. It says at the top http://hpmor.com/?post_type=chapter&p=10 so I thought it was chapter 10. It's chapter 1.

I'm refering to the paragraph:

“And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to – the most ridiculous things, and I hated her for it. And when I had just graduated, I was going out with this boy, Vernon Dursley, he was fat and he was the only boy who would talk to me in college. And he said he wanted children, and that his first son would be named Dudley. And I thought to myself,what kind of parent names their child Dudley Dursley? It was like I saw my whole future life stretching out in front of me, and I couldn’t stand it. And I wrote to my sister and told her that if she didn’t help me I’d rather just -”

Lily told Petunia that the world would end when Lily gave Petunia the beauty potion. Lily isn't stupid and would tell that to her sister for no reason.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T22:07:47.526Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Lily told Petunia that the world would end when Lily gave Petunia the beauty potion

Lily gave Petunia the beauty potion

Lily isn't stupid

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T22:19:46.158Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Let's say a centaur just told Lily that the world would end when she gave Petunia the beauty potion without being in prophecy mode.

At the beginning that was enough for Lily to refuse. But in the end she didn't saw how giving Petunia the beauty potion would end the world in any literal sense so she gave it to Petunia.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T22:41:36.910Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to

Excuse 1) The world will end if Lily is nice to her sister (with no source cited).

Excuse 2) A centaur told Lily not to give Petunia the potion (with no explanation of why not).

These are two completely separate assertions.

Furthermore,

  • Petunia states that Lily came up with a number of other, equally ridiculous excuses, which means those two shouldn't be assigned any special importance in the list.

  • From what we know of centaurs, they are rare and typically hostile to humans, which makes it highly improbable that Lily had any sort of meaningful conversation with one.

  • All prophecies we know of are highly cryptic, and there is no reason to believe that centaurs can decode them well enough to identify two specific, highly obscure humans.

  • Lily already has far better motives not to give Petunia the potion, namely 1) they dislike each other and Lily doesn't want to grant her sister's wish and/or 2) the potion is very dangerous to take and she doesn't want to endanger her sister's life. Prophecies of doom are a much less probable explanation than either.

  • If Lily heard what she thought was a prophecy of doom, she would be very stupid not to share it with anyone, say Dumbledore. Lily was not stupid, but there is no evidence that she told anyone about such a prophecy.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-04T23:32:37.106Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

If Eliezer would have wanted to foreshadow the fact that rational Harry would go on to end the world in chapter 1, this is what it would look like.

Petunia states that Lily came up with a number of other, equally ridiculous excuses, which means those two shouldn't be assigned any special importance in the list.

When Petunia says "ricidulous excuses" it means that she doesn't understand the validity of the excuses.

What do you think is Eliezer's motivation for Lily giving ricidulous excuses? Making her look like the person that gives ricidulous excuses?

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T12:03:48.067Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What do you think is Eliezer's motivation for Lily giving ricidulous excuses? Making her look like the person that gives ricidulous excuses?

It's established from the start that Petunia bullied Lily before Lily got magic, and later that Lily is not a very forgiving person, so it's entirely plausible that she just didn't want to use her potion-brewing skills for her sister's benefit, and came up with off-the-cuff excuses not to do so.

The excuse section serves as character development for Petunia. It establishes her troubled relationship with Lily, and the excuses make Lily sound like a petty little girl (which it seems like she was at the time, based on her relationships with James and Severus) rather than cold and harsh as she would have seemed with a flat-out "no" with no reason given. It establishes why Petunia dated Vernon at all, and gives her a chance to talk about her self-image issues and how she wasn't the kind of person who would gravitate to Vernon for his personality (the way canon!Petunia seems to be). It also makes her sympathetic by revealing the extent of her emotional vulnerability with the suicide threat.

We would get none of this had Lily just given Petunia the potion straight away.

Additionally, consider the timeline necessary for your theory to pan out:

  • Decades before the "power to vanquish" prophecy, which is only made after Harry's birth, and the "HE IS COMING" prophecy, which is only made after Harry does certain things at Hogwarts, the centaurs already know that he is going to destroy the world.
  • In spite of the cryptic nature of prophecies, they manage to identify a completely random teenage witch and her Squib sister as the subjects, as well as one specific action Lily must perform to lead to Harry being brought up a rationalist.
  • They somehow convey their warning to Lily, despite the lack of contact between humans and centaurs, but not emphatically enough to actually stop her dooming the world.
  • After determining that the end of the world is nigh, they sit on their equestrian posteriors and do nothing for the rest of time, not even warning the likes of Dumbledore (for whom I believe they have respect).
  • Lily speaks to no-one of the terrible warning she has received from a race famed for their powers of divination.
  • Lily does the one thing that she has been told will doom the world.

Or...

  • A teenage girl who is bad at forgiving people comes up with excuses not to go out of her way to help the sister who used to bully her.

Which would you assign a higher probability?

comment by elharo · 2013-07-05T12:53:18.904Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In the real world? The second, unconditionally.

In fantasy fiction that runs on narrativium? Especially fiction that is known to be full of hints, foreshadowing, and clues that the author put there? The first.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T14:28:03.385Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The whole point of this story (or one of them) is that it is not intended to run on narrativium, that people make decisions and things happen for rational, believable, predictable reasons. It is a puzzle meant to be solved, using the information given rather than appeals to tropes and meta-thinking.

Also, even if you were right, this is just a really terrible scenario. While there is foreshadowing of Harry ending the world thanks to the latest prophecy, there have been no other clues whatsoever pointing at centaurs, or a special role for Lily in causing the apocalypse, or any other point whatsoever that the theory relies on.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-05T14:37:12.409Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

The difference between the real world and narrativium is not that in the former people make decisions and things happen for rational, believable, predictable reasons and in the latter they don't. That's the difference between good narrativium and bad narrativium.

The difference between the real world and narrativium is that in the real world things happen in a variety of complex and interconnected ways without necessarily being goal driven. However in a story, HpMoR included, things happen to drive the story along. The author has designed the events of the story to reach his desired end state. That is, in fiction the ending causes the beginning whereas in real life the beginning causes the ending.

Real life doesn't have a narrative. Fiction, rationalist fiction included, does.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-05T17:58:03.264Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The whole point of this story (or one of them) is that it is not intended to run on narrativium, that people make decisions and things happen for rational, believable, predictable reasons. It is a puzzle meant to be solved

The real world is chaos. The real world isn't a puzzle that's meant to be solved. Puzzles need narrativum.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-05T13:06:41.831Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Decades before the "power to vanquish" prophecy, which is only made after Harry's birth, and the "HE IS COMING" prophecy, which is only made after Harry does certain things at Hogwarts, the centaurs already know that he is going to destroy the world.

You make a mistake in that you add additional details into your story for which there's no reason.

A "beauty potion" -> "end of the world" prediction wouldn't need to mention Harry at all.

Centaur divination isn't an exact science. Centaur are quite capable of making mistakes when it comes to interpreting the stars.

It's quite possible that a centaur came up with the idea that "beauty potion" -> "end of the world" is one possible explanation for the movement of stars that he saw.

There no certainity in the way they practice their craft. It's quite possible that the prediction was at a strength that enough to produce a reluctance in handing out the potion but not strong enough to tell everybody about it.

A teenage girl who is bad at forgiving people comes up with excuses not to go out of her way to help the sister who used to bully her.

A smart person doesn't come up with excuses that are ridiculous, but makes excuses that are credible.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T14:23:57.467Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A "beauty potion" -> "end of the world" prediction wouldn't need to mention Harry at all.

It is, however, a prophecy about Harry, whether anyone knows it or not, and all other prophecies about Harry were pronounced not long before or after the key events that caused fate to head in that direction (Voldemort's confrontation with baby Harry, Harry's grim resolution...). Your suggestion that there was a twenty or so-year gap with this one does not match this pattern.

A smart person doesn't come up with excuses that are ridiculous, but makes excuses that are credible.

Only if their objective is to persuade. And if her objective had been to persuade Petunia that she was telling the truth, she'd have taken the time to explain what she'd been told until it no longer sounded like a ridiculous excuse.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-05T14:56:20.559Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There's another aspect you seem to be missing: this event is a major part of the primary divergence between HPMR and canon, namely how Harry is brought up.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-07-05T17:46:49.667Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your suggestion that there was a twenty or so-year gap with this one does not match this pattern.

I think that Petunia getting the beauty potion was a key event that caused fate to head in that direction. If she didn't she would be married to Dursley and Harry wouldn't get his rational edcuation.

It is, however, a prophecy about Harry, whether anyone knows it or not, and all other prophecies about Harry were pronounced not long before or after the key events that caused fate to head in that direction

That's probably not true. A lot of students have divination classes at hogwarts and make predictions on a constant basis.

I find it very unlikely that those devination classes all passed without any predictions that involved Harry.

Most future telling in the Harry Potter universe isn't about prophecies of the kind where Trelawney goes into a trance and speaks the words of the prophecy.

Centaurs don't do future telling that way. They do astrology which can take years to interpret.

And if her objective had been to persuade Petunia that she was telling the truth, she'd have taken the time to explain what she'd been told until it no longer sounded like a ridiculous excuse.

If I told you that a friend of my talked to his spirit guides and they told him, that I should write you an email, how long would it take for me to explain to you the fact in a way that doesn't sound ridiculous?

You also seem to somehow assume that people persue every goal that they have with maximum energy. That isn't the case.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T23:19:43.779Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Conservation of detail. The two excuses mentioned can be assigned greater significance on a meta level.

And an apocalyptic prophecy is much like Pascal's Mugger: the centaur may not be in prophecy mode, so fear-of-embarrassment might keep you from telling Dumbledore, but you'd still rather not take the risk.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T11:54:35.070Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"I talked to a centaur and he told me x" is hardly embarrassing. She wouldn't even have to claim to believe it, just say "what do you think of this claim based on your superior experience?" And it's obvious Dumbledore would want to know.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-05T21:20:52.861Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't it?

"Hey, most powerful wizard in the world. I know you're very busy, but a centaur told me that if I give my sister a beauty potion the world will literally end."

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T13:56:44.617Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore knew something we don't because he secretly helped Lily make a highly dangerous potion in the first place!

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T14:14:32.305Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you say Dumbledore helped Lily make the potion? Lily was a rising star of Potions herself.

comment by Atelos · 2013-07-05T14:27:08.861Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

When Dumbledore showed Harry the comments he made in her potions textbook the potion he was commenting on was the Potion of Eagle's Splendor, which is the potion for an increase in the Charisma stat (which technically doesn't have to involve appearance but is often considered correlated with it) in 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons.

ETA: The other things which makes it more suggestive is that the potion Petunia took was dangerous or rare, else more witches would also have permanently improved their appearance, and a normal potion listed in the standard 5th year text presumably wouldn't be; The suggestion presented was thestral blood, thestral blood was implied to have a role in the permanence of the Cloak and as Harry deduced that potions making isn't creating magic but reshaping that which is there some component in Petunias potion must have an association with Permanence.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T17:36:49.922Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

thestral blood was implied to have a role in the permanence of the Cloak

I know the blood is used to mark the Deathly Hallow symbol on the Cloak, but could you remind me where it says this relates to permanence? I rather assumed that, since thestrals are invisible to all those who have not seen and comprehended death, the relevance of thestral blood was to do with death and/or hiding from it.

the potion Petunia took was dangerous or rare (...) and a normal potion listed in the standard 5th year text presumably wouldn't be

I really really wish I could believe that, but I can't, not in the wizarding world. Felix Felicis, which is extremely difficult to make and disastrous if brewed wrong (and disastrously powerful when brewed right, especially in the hands of children), is to be found in the same textbook.

comment by Atelos · 2013-07-05T18:23:20.342Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know the blood is used to mark the Deathly Hallow symbol on the Cloak, but could you remind me where it says this relates to permanence?

Hmm, rereading the section of his Azkaban trip where Harry was making his Cloak related discoveries I seem to have confused the fact of the thestral blood symbol empowering the Cloak with someones conjecture in some discussion thread after we learned the law of potion conservation that the thestral blood suggested as a substitution in the eagle's splendor potion could have served as a modifier to make it permanent.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-05T14:34:17.398Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore opened the book, seemingly at random, and Harry leaned in to see.

"Do you see these notes," Dumbledore said in a voice so low it was almost a whisper, "written in the margins of the book?"

Harry squinted slightly. The yellowing pages seemed to be describing something called a potion of eagle's splendour, many of the ingredients being items that Harry didn't recognise at all and whose names didn't appear to derive from English. Scrawled in the margin was a handwritten annotation saying, I wonder what would happen if you used Thestral blood here instead of blueberries? and immediately beneath was a reply in different handwriting, You'd get sick for weeks and maybe die.

"I see them," said Harry. "What about them?"

Dumbledore pointed to the second scrawl. "The ones in this handwriting," he said, still in that low voice, "were written by your mother. And the ones in this handwriting," moving his finger to indicate the first scrawl, "were written by me. I would turn myself invisible and sneak into her dorm room while she was sleeping. Lily thought one of her friends was writing them and they had the most amazing fights."

Dumbledore scribbles nonsense in the margins of the Eagle's Splendour recipe of Lily's book =/= Dumbledore helps Lily brew Eagle's Splendour. At most, it confirms that Lily knew how to brew said potion when she was in her fifth year.

Furthermore, even if Dumbledore helped Lily brew a fifth-year potion, there is no reason to believe that he did so secretly, or that he had ulterior motives beyond helping her. Lily was a student he paid rather creepy special attention to - why wouldn't he help her with a special project?

comment by jsalvatier · 2013-07-05T17:01:11.644Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, that's interesting, Petunia really did get sick for weeks

"Anyway," Petunia said, her voice small, "she gave in. She told me it was dangerous, and I said I didn't care any more, and I drank this potion and I was sick for weeks, but when I got better my skin cleared up and I finally filled out and... I was beautiful, people were nice to me," her voice broke, "and after that I couldn't hate my sister any more, especially when I learned what her magic brought her in the end -"

comment by Dev_Null · 2013-07-06T05:56:51.909Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have to write it somewhere - because what is the point of a belief that does not allow you to make predictions that you are willing to stand by - and I guess this is the place. I believe that Hermione is not dead (duh!), and planned this all for the purposes of getting Harry out of his debt to Malfoy and/or preventing herself from being used as a weapon against Harry. She used or was discovered by Fred and George who were subsequently memory charmed by Dumbledore, who has spent entirely too much time off-camera of late.

Edit: I'll add that - on the odd chance I'm right, and this ends up sounding like bragging - I don't think that makes me particularly clever; I think it speaks to skillful but subtle hinting on the part of the author.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-06T19:28:22.321Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

what is the point of a belief that does not allow you to make predictions that you are willing to stand by

The route from mental phenomena to actions does not have to pass through explicitly modeling and making predictions about the world. You can just have beliefs that function as simple heuristics for making actions without any modeling or prediction at all.

and planned this all

I find this highly unlikely. Hermione should have some concept by now of how destabilizing an effect her apparent death would have on Harry. I don't think she'd have the heart to knowingly deceive him like this.

comment by Dev_Null · 2013-07-08T08:11:59.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'll admit that's the problem I have the most trouble with, but after the debacle in the Library she may have felt like he didn't care, and / or be steeling herself to prove that she can be as calculating and strong as Harry.

On the other hand, it may all just be wishful thinking on my part. But it does explain:

1) the beginning of the scene in the Library (with Hermione desperately searching for a way out of the debt) 2) Harry's casual mention of the fact that he's not sure whether it will absolve him of the debt or not 3) Weasley brain wipes 4) Dumbledore's persistent absences

Plus it would firmly establish Hermione as Harry's equal, putting the boot in on various speculations about HPMOR being sexist in what I can only imagine would be an extremely satisfying fashion, from Eliezer 's pov.

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-09T12:18:04.432Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Plus it would firmly establish Hermione as Harry's equal, putting the boot in on various speculations about HPMOR being sexist in what I can only imagine would be an extremely satisfying fashion, from Eliezer 's pov.

Except that the plot was already established when Eliezer started writing, long before said sexism speculations developed. He's been very emphatic about that. So while this would be a bonus, it can't factor into predictions of the plot.

comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T01:54:16.965Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for putting your prediction out there like this, even though I very much disagree (for the reason that Qiaochu said, for example).

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2013-07-04T14:22:46.450Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Combined with previous chapters it looks like top-level Wizards know that the secret of spell-creation is potentially universe-wreckingly dangerous, and that Quirrel fears that Harry is about to try to do it.

comment by gwern · 2013-07-04T15:11:41.799Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Combined with previous chapters

With the end of c89, I flashed back to the curious bit during the Wizengamot trial about some powerful old members now paying attention to Harry - did they interpret correctly his Dementor-frightening as indicating a newly created spell (Patronus 2.0) and that Harry might be joining their fraternity? Specifically, ch81:

It does not occur to them to second-guess the application of such reasoning to the events they have seen with their own eyes in the Most Ancient Hall. Indeed, they are not consciously aware that they are using story-reasoning on real life. As for scrutinizing the Boy-Who-Lived with the same careful logic they would use on an political alliance or a business arrangement - what brain would associate to that, when a part of the legendary magisterium is at hand? But there are a very few, seated on those wooden benches, who do not think like this. There are a certain few of the Wizengamot who have read through half-disintegrated scrolls and listened to tales of things that happened to someone's brother's cousin, not for entertainment, but as part of a quest for power and truth. They have already marked the Night of Godric's Hollow, as reported by Albus Dumbledore, as an anomalous and potentially important event. They have wondered why it happened, if it did happen; or if not, why Dumbledore is lying. And when an eleven-year-old boy rises up and says "Lucius Malfoy" in that cold adult voice, and goes on to speak words one simply would not expect to hear from a first-year in Hogwarts, they do not allow the fact to slip into the lawless blurs of legends and the premises of plays. They mark it as a clue. They add it to the list. This list is beginning to look somewhat alarming. It doesn't particularly help when the boy yells "BOO!" at a Dementor and the decaying corpse presses itself flat against the opposite wall and its horrible ear-hurting voice rasps, "Make him go away."

comment by gjm · 2013-07-04T16:05:38.917Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I took all that as indicating that they thought Harry was [EDITED to add: er, that should be "might be"] Voldemort, an idea we know Lucius is already taking seriously.

comment by Mestroyer · 2013-07-04T23:23:23.969Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The only plausible reason whoever killed Hermione hasn't killed Harry too is because they want him to remain alive. They could have, because Hogwarts security is no great impediment to whoever did this, and Harry isn't a genius in his sleep. They would have, too. Anyone who hates Hermione would hate Harry, too. He was summoned to help during her confrontation with bullies. He used legal tricks to intervene when she was about to be "kissed." He's obviously the bigger threat, and whoever killed Hemione should have some fear of vengeance from him.

Unless it's Voldemort, who knows that Harry is a horcrux, as in canon, and knows that in killing Harry he would injure himself. Quirrel knows that he has a telepathic link with Harry. As Quirrel told McGonagall, he is a wizard "almost" on the level of Dumbledore and Voldemort. The Quirrelmort theory posits one less extremely powerful wizard. Hermione was killed by a troll. In canon, that is Quirrel's signature. Quirrel is voldemort in canon.

Am I missing anything?

comment by pleeppleep · 2013-07-05T04:51:09.744Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrel in Methods has pretty much stated that he's trying to mold Harry into a dark lord. That requires Harry to be alive and is significantly more likely if he doesn't have Hermione's moral influence.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T11:22:51.854Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And then there's Snape... who knows what evil lurks into the hearts of men?

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-07-05T11:25:43.912Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's funny.

comment by WrongBot · 2013-07-04T17:19:25.228Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell is That Fucker.

Heavy spoilers for Nonjon's excellent A Black Comedy follow.

Va N Oynpx Pbzrql, Qnivq Zbaebr vf gur ragvgl perngrq jura gur Ubepehk va Evqqyr'f qvnel fhpprffshyyl erfheerpgf vgfrys, jvgu gur gjvfg gung vg jnf perngrq hfvat nyy bs Ibyqrzbeg'f 'cbfvgvir' rzbgvbaf. Guhf Qnivq Zbaebr vf bccbfrq gb Ibyqrzbeg, unf uvf zrzbevrf naq fxvyyf, naq frrf gung fgbel'f Uneel nf n cbgragvny gbby, nyyl, be rira rdhny.

Fbhaq snzvyvne? Gur anzr whfg znxrf vg boivbhf.

comment by shminux · 2013-07-04T18:10:33.689Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The story had me at

He couldn't resist letting his mind wander onto the benefits and drawbacks of a turkey animagus form.

comment by Paulovsk · 2013-07-05T01:24:43.129Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Started reading now. It's highly rated, so I'm expecting it to be at least amusing.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-05T04:31:52.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I read it on recommendation from one of these threads. It was amusing, but I've enjoyed others of the author's stories more - the Potter/Firefly crossover Browncoat, Green Eyes, for all that the premise sounds dumb, was excellent.

comment by shminux · 2013-07-05T22:42:32.336Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the one-liners, like

if you've ever seen an anaconda you can understand why I sometimes get called a parselcrotch.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-07-06T03:45:54.894Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

ABC was certainly funny as hell. (I actually reread it last night, after making the above post, hence the upgrade from "amusing"). The David Monroe plot element that's so often mentioned in these threads though seems entirely tacked-on. I disliked that feeling of the plot starting 2/3 of the way through.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2013-07-04T16:55:09.909Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Defense Professor had knocked upon the door to her office and then entered without waiting for her answer, and spoken before she could say a word. Part of Minerva wondered distantly whether Harry Potter had picked up that habit from his Defense Professor

Huh. Drawing connections between the two of them seems obvious, but then again, I might be reaching.

comment by Tripitaka · 2013-07-05T12:12:06.117Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some thoughts on "Hermiones brain will be transfigured and kept frozen by Harry":

We know from Harrys first transfiguration lesson that transfigured living things undergo changes with time, which will kill said things. Harry knows this, and is thus likely to thing of deep-freezing the Hermione-diamond. Only he also plans to retransfigurate his fathers rock, and we know that one sustained transfiguration is a serious drain on his magic. Add to that the magical drain from having to cool the H-diamond and its thermal buffer, I think it unlikely that he did something of that sorts.

One way to circumvent the drain of the transfigured H-diamond would be to make it microscopically small, but he still would have to touch it regularly; given that its temperature should be in the cryogenic range, only touches with his wand would be feasible.

The only way I can think of to circumvent these problems would be to have others partake in the task, but that brings with it other problems.

Any thoughts which theories Harry tested with

"Is that a usual tactic, by the way?" Harry said, voice still odd. "Carrying something large Transfigured into something small to use as a weapon? Or is that a usual exercise for Transfiguration practice?"

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T12:18:58.949Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Any thoughts which theories Harry tested with

"Is that a usual tactic, by the way?" Harry said, voice still odd. "Carrying something large Transfigured into something small to use as a weapon? Or is that a usual exercise for Transfiguration practice?"

He tested whether Dumbledore anticipated his use of the rock when he told him to carry it around. He's looking for explanations of all the early behavior where Dumbledore pretended to be mad, since he now believes that while Dumbledore may have wrong and even "mad" beliefs, he only does things like burning chickens to mess with people.

comment by mare-of-night · 2013-07-05T16:18:57.624Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Alternately, he might want people to believe he has transfigured his father's rock again, but not be actually planning to keep it transfigured, because he wants to carry the Hermione diamond and let people think it is the rock.

comment by Tripitaka · 2013-07-05T18:35:31.957Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Any thoughts on the changing/cooling issue? That seems to really get brushed off. Is a perfect diamond supposed to be absolutely stable at room temperature?

comment by Plasmon · 2013-07-05T18:43:14.692Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It isn't

Contrary to the popular belief that "diamonds are forever", they are in fact thermodynamically unstable under normal conditions and transform into graphite.[13] However, due to a high activation energy barrier, the transition into graphite is so extremely slow at room temperature as to be unnoticeable.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-06T03:06:38.572Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What is the most stable thing at room temperature, with magical assistance?

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-06T13:23:46.690Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Arguably a troll - it's constantly transfiguring itself back into the same form.

comment by Decius · 2013-07-06T22:17:29.116Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So transfigure Hermione's brain into a troll until you figure out how to save her.

Twitch.

comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T01:42:24.813Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that a troll's transfiguration is supposed be stable at that level of detail.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-07-05T13:45:15.540Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Only he also plans to retransfigurate his fathers rock, and we know that one sustained transfiguration is a serious drain on his magic.

I rather suspect he would be willing to sacrifice that goal (whim) if it seemed like it would help Hermione.

comment by WrongBot · 2013-07-04T17:12:43.184Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hermione will be resurrected before the conclusion of this story.

(Given that Harry wins and souls aren't real.)

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-07-05T01:38:16.599Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a bit divided on how I'd feel about that. On the other hand, finding a way to resurrect her would be thematically appropriate. On the other hand, it would also be thematically appropriate if there wasn't any way, and you just had to accept that the universe doesn't always play fair, with you sometimes not getting everything you want despite your best efforts.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-07-04T23:42:29.983Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'll go a step farther, and say that regardless of the existence of souls, Hermione will be resurrected before the conclusion of this story.

comment by Dorikka · 2013-07-04T20:23:43.560Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I sorta feel that I know what you're getting at, but "Hermione lives" seems like a precondition for "Harry wins", no?

comment by WrongBot · 2013-07-04T20:46:36.797Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

By "wins" I just meant "beats the bad guy(s)".

comment by kilobug · 2013-07-05T17:27:11.903Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is a very significant risk that without Hermione, Harry will become a bad guy. That's what the Hat warned him about, and we have reasons to think that it's why Quirrelmort tried to remove Hermione from Harry. And that's what the prophecies seem to be warning about.

comment by WrongBot · 2013-07-05T19:27:25.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The bad guy(s) relative to Harry. Hermione coming back is important whichever way his morality goes.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T03:46:09.493Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I continue to have at least 30% confidence that Hermione was never dead. There are too many would-be-conclusive bits of evidence just barely out of reach.

comment by WrongBot · 2013-07-05T03:54:26.812Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm about 95% confident Eliezer wouldn't do such a thing.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-07-06T16:55:36.115Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What would normally be considerd dead, sure. I wouldn't put it 19:1 against that Harry successfully prevented information-theoretic death.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T04:47:36.221Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I really miss Intrade.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T12:56:16.719Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is it reasonable to think that Harry's parents will be safer at home?

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-04T12:57:49.104Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Not safer per se, but less likely to come to Voldemort's attention.

Edit: Chapter 37 also has Quirrell tell Harry that Dumbledore has thorougly warded his parents' home (though the fact that he is telling Harry this after having crossed said wards does nothing to reassure us, the readers).

"No one's supposed to know where I am!" said Harry, still keeping the shriek quiet. "Even owls are supposed to deliver my mail to Hogwarts, not here!" Harry had agreed to that willingly; it would be silly if a Death Eater could win the whole war at any time just by owling him a magically triggered hand grenade.

Professor Quirrell was grinning, from where he stood in the backyard beyond the window. "Oh, I shouldn't worry, Mr. Potter. You are well protected against locating Charms, and no blood purist is likely to think of consulting a phone book." His grin grew wider. "And it did take considerable effort to cross the wards that the Headmaster put around this house - though of course anyone who knew your address could simply wait outside and attack you the next time you left."

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T13:10:37.234Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

It's an interesting point that the Death Eaters are going to be even more ignorant of the muggle world than the rest of the wizards are.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-07-05T04:06:00.905Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

MoR Voldy shouldn't need any hand holding to come up with a list of useful leverages against his mortal enemy.

comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T01:56:03.307Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

ch 93

Eliezer, you made me cry.

comment by drethelin · 2013-07-06T02:36:20.750Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

spoilers for 93

Strongly STRONGLY approve of the letter from dad, but kind of disappointed about how much talk about house points there was. Who the hell cares? Why didn't anyone interrupt to talk about what had actually just happened or ask the Weasleys about facing the troll or anything?

Hermione's body being gone: Congruent with some form of resurrection, congruent with transfiguration being used by Harry to preserver her, congruent with other possible preservation options, also possible that Quirrel or someone else wants to use the body for horrible rituals.

comment by Intrism · 2013-07-06T02:42:04.196Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The House Points are more of a way to formalize Minerva eating crow for all the students that broke the rules and acted when the situation required it. And, of course, most of the points talk was really about extending them to more students, which was extremely necessary for Harry. The Neville talk was probably the least justified, but there is a shard of importance in that Harry had to forgive and defend Neville during it.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-06T02:49:18.009Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The house points are symbolic. There are two worlds, the world of ordinary Hogwarts activity and the world where crazy shit happens, usually because of Harry somehow, and some kind of relationship between these worlds needs to be established. Especially because actually there's only one world and bad things happen when students, especially Gryffindors, are too afraid of repercussions from the first world to behave sensibly in the second.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2013-07-06T02:49:52.279Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You should write Chapter 93 at the beginning of your comment, as a spoiler warning of those who didn't read it yet.

Are the rules to create a new thread for each new update, to avoid this problem?

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T20:15:17.889Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Though the English grammar is kind of second-rate, the anthem Reluctant Heroes from Attack on Titan is great for this theme of "We fight wars and our friends die" thing that's been going on in this fic

EDIT: Corrected typo oh lordy this is so embarassing...

comment by Velorien · 2013-07-06T13:21:23.426Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You may want to correct the typo on "though" - on a first reading it seems like you're criticising Eliezer's grammar and then going on to make a separate comment.

comment by CronoDAS · 2013-07-04T19:54:49.042Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is Quirrel hinting that McGonagall should Memory Charm Harry into not knowing that one of his best friends just died? (Worst case, Obliviate everything that happened since he received the Hogwarts letter, tell him he was hit by a truck and has been in a coma the whole time, then kick him out of Magical Britain completely.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-04T20:22:49.998Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Where could the story possibly go in your worst case?

Now that I think about it, I wouldn't mind seeing a story about a middle-aged person who was kicked out of their Chosen One situation twenty years ago, but now the politics have shifted and they have to deal with magic and intrigue again. However, this would not remotely be HPMOR.

comment by CronoDAS · 2013-07-04T20:44:12.381Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Where could the story possibly go in your worst case?

Harry somehow figures out what really happened and breaks the Masquerade wide open on his own? (No police record of the hit and run, for example?) You're right, though, it is a story-killer, so it's not going to happen quite that way, but anything less comprehensive would be a much easier lie to catch.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-05T19:53:06.830Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd give a pretty to see a story about the Masquerade getting busted open, but I don't think it fits in HPMOR.

comment by drethelin · 2013-07-05T20:24:19.861Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The masquerade is starting to come apart in Harry Potter and the Natural Twenty but that part of the story is still in its infancy.

comment by Zoe · 2013-07-05T18:09:19.096Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone else find it implausible that Quirrell would both act upon the latest prophecy moments after hearing it and act as though he interpreted it in the most literal sense possible? To suppose that he is acting out of concern when speaking to McGonagall is to accept that this is what he does.

Yet, it has been made explicit in HPMoR that prophecies are riddles addressed to the one who hears it. Quirrell knows this. I thus find it unlikely that he would jump on the first ''obvious'' literal interpretation rather than ponder the riddle.

Not to mention that if Quirrell did embrace the line about the world ending in the most explosive, catastrophic and literal sense possible, and that it alarmed him, it would be foolish of him to say nothing of the prophecy. And Quirrell--we know that at least--is not foolish.

So, if the prophecy about the end of the world is a riddle, what could be its answer?

My hypotheses so far:

  1. Harry tries to revive Hermione, and the knowledge he acquires in order to do so (whether or not he succeeds) lets him solve the riddle of what magic is/how it is ruled. He chooses to make that knowledge public, thus changing the face of the magical world to those who live it it. (50% estimate)
  2. Harry will succeed in actually cheating death, and either as a result or through the means he employs to do it, this will affect the source of magic in a way that will change some of its features. (40% estimate)
  3. Harry does not succeed in reviving Hermione, and this somehow ends up in the world catching on fire. (5% estimate).
  4. Harry is not the one whom the prophecy refers to. It could be Snape, for example. (2% estimate).
comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T18:52:02.542Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So, if the prophecy about the end of the world is a riddle, what could be its answer?

The only outcome I've found any hints for so far is the intelligence amplification hypothesis. The last time Harry brainstormed ways to achieve ultimate power, mind magic was first on the list. And he was recently heard to say 'I will change and be less stupid'. IA breaks the plot, though, and leaves the author with a character he can't write, so I'm not hugely confident of it.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T20:12:11.638Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

People seem to have had an easy enough time writing a convincing CelestiAI.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T20:47:55.174Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Clarification/nitpick: I'm sure Eliezer could create a character, tell us that it was smarter than him, and have most of us accept that, or at least lull us to suspending our disbelief. This isn't quite the same thing as writing a character who's smarter than him.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-05T21:05:16.830Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that at least Quirrell is smarter than him, when it comes to pure mental horsepower.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-05T22:28:15.338Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, I see I've been using words in an idiosyncratic way, so I'll just dump out my thoughts on the subject, most of which came from Eliezer's author notes:

To write a character successfully, you need to show that character acting in ways in which it would be plausible for them to act. To write a character who's smarter than you - who would plausibly choose courses of action and speak lines of dialog that wouldn't occur to you - you need to cheat. Smarter-than-Author-Intelligences can think faster and remember more, but they can't be better than you at seeing the connections between the facts at their command. If they're Emmett Brown, they can invent amazing technologies, but the scientific explanations for them will be gibberish. If they're Sherlock Holmes, they reach startling and true conclusions on the strength of bad evidence.

The movie Gattaca is full of artificially-selected superbeings who never speak a single witty line. That's the difference between a character who's supposed to be smart and a character who's successfully written that way, between telling and showing. Eliezer may have intended for Quirrell to be smarter than him in some sense, but he hasn't been written that way, because he couldn't have been.

Unless all you meant by 'horsepower' was thinking speed, in which case you might be right. Dunno.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-06T01:43:09.325Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I did mean thinking speed. Note the exchange where Harry blames Quirrell for not thinking of stuff in time, and Quirrell retorts that even smart people miss stuff and need time to reach their conclusions. An author has usually much more time than the characters and the benefit of controlling the world entirely, so he can make the characters more intelligent than him in that they're able to think faster and better under pressure, and that they're able to legitimately draw the right conclusions from the evidence that's been left available to them.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-06T01:57:55.221Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Then we don't disagree on anything except word choice. Hooray! Upvotes all around.

comment by TobyBartels · 2013-07-07T01:50:03.348Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So that's how you get high karma, is it?

comment by JohnSidles · 2013-07-05T11:50:32.114Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Conspicuously absent from the canon, and from Methods of Rationality (so far) --- and absent entirely from the Hogwarts curriculum --- are two fundamental elements of rational cognition:

  • mathematics, and
  • artificial intelligences (AIs)

Therefore

Postulate 1 "Magic" is the name that witches, wizards, and muggles alike give to the practice of manipulating physical reality by negotiation with agents that are (artificial? primordial? evolved? accidentally created?) intelligences.

Postulate 2 "Magical Spells" is the name that witches, wizards, and muggles alike give to an evolving set of protocols for negotiating with an existing community of (mysterious) intelligences. These protocols are designed to minimize the risks and harms associated to the practice of magic, by concealing the physical origins of magic.

Postulate 3 The chief organizing objective of the Hogwarts curriculum is to preserve the social fictions that are associated to Postulates 1 and 2.

Postulate 4 Harry Potter is regarded as dangerous because he seeks to evade the restrictions associated to Postulates 1, 2, and 3, by inquiring into the true nature of magic and its actions.

Literary Remark Harry Potter would do well to reflect upon the words and fate of Captain Ahab:

"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event — in the living act, the undoubted deed — there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. Ohg abg zl znfgre, zna, vf rira gung snve cynl. Jub'f bire zr? Gehgu ungu ab pbasvarf."

Conclusion Harry Potter's quest to restore Hermione Granger may be leading him and the Hogwarts crew to a similarly disastrous fate as Ahab and the Pequod crew.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T12:22:47.286Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Abominable Conclusion 1: the AIs that first negotiated with humanity, thousands of years ago, to levitate objects on command, had insisted that humans speak the protocol words... Wingardium Leviosa.

comment by William_Quixote · 2013-07-05T13:15:49.797Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

AI-1: And so we have decided to grant the humans great powers

AI-2: but when we bestow our awesome power upon the puny humans they may become arrogant and forget that they are small and ridiculous

AI-1: we've thought of that, and have a solution...

Wingardium Leviosa!

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-05T22:39:13.995Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Except that said humans won't develop the language where those not-words sound kind-of-sensible for a few more thousand years. And even then, most of the people in the world wouldn't get the joke. (Do French wizards cast French spells? What about the Chinese?)

comment by monsterzero · 2013-07-06T03:11:07.647Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do French wizards cast French spells? What about the Chinese?

Probably. Quirrell teaches at least one spell which is clearly neither of English nor Latin origin.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-07-06T10:14:50.244Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent point, I'd forgotten about that. Ma-ha-su.

Since Eliezer does nothing accidentally, this is very strong evidence that wizards invent spells with words related to the language they speak, and that spells then have a high turnover rate that doesn't let them survive longer than their languages.

comment by JohnSidles · 2013-07-05T12:59:28.101Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

LOL --- perhaps a chief objective of the Ministry of Magic is to conceive and require obfuscating interfaces to magic! That would explain a lot!

Parallels to real-world high-school and/or undergraduate mathematical education ... are left as an exercise. :)

comment by elharo · 2013-07-05T12:29:24.171Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  1. Both canon and HPMoR have arithmancy. In HPMoR, "Harry and Professor McGonagall had bought his textbooks from Flourish and Blotts just under the deadline. With only a slight explosion when Harry had made a beeline for the keyword 'Arithmancy' and discovered that the seventh-year textbooks invoked nothing more mathematically advanced than trigonometry." And Harry really shouldn't have exploded. Many real world Muggle schools don't get as far as trigonometry by the end of high school, and they don't have to spend any time on charms or transfiguration.

  2. Ryvmvre unf fgngrq gung guvf vf abg na NV fgbel.

comment by JohnSidles · 2013-07-05T12:56:28.014Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For a professional-grade comment on "muggle math" versus "Hogwarts math", see Michael Spivak's Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I.

To express this point another way ... how likely is it, that Harry's final understanding of magic will be non-mathematical? What grade of mathematical abstraction capabilities will Harry need to acquire?

comment by tgb · 2013-07-05T21:02:25.269Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I can't find the particular proofs of Noether theorems that your link refers to. Can you help me find them? I see no instances of the word "muggle" in Spivak's paper - in fact no index at all. Is there a different version of it? Please help, as I would greatly appreciate reading this!

Edit: I see now that the comment was referring to a book by Spivak, and that the linked PDF is only on 'elementary mechanics.'

comment by JohnSidles · 2013-07-05T23:20:09.973Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Edit 1: Kudos to "gjm" (see above) for pointing to Spivak's page on Amazon!

Edit 2: Spivak's Hogwarts proof implicitly uses a fundamental theorem in differential geometry that is called Cartan's Magic Formula ... this oblique magical reference is Spivak's joke ... as with many magical formulas, the origins of Cartan's formula are obscure.

Regrettably, tgb, even the redoubtable Google Books does not provide page-images for Spivak's Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I. The best advice I can give is to seek this book within a university library system.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-05T23:40:40.505Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Amazon UK's "look inside" feature has it. I haven't checked Amazon US. Search for "Muggles"; first result (page 576) is the one.