Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85

post by FAWS · 2012-04-18T02:30:26.958Z · score: 9 (12 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 1114 comments

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This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 85The previous thread  has long passed 500 comments. Comment in the 15th thread until you read chapter 85. 

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: 12345678910111213, 14, 15.

As a reminder, it’s often useful to start your comment by indicating which chapter you are commenting on.

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Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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

1114 comments

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comment by Daniel_Starr · 2012-04-20T23:37:09.312Z · score: 28 (30 votes) · LW · GW

HPMOR is making me rethink human nature -- because of how people react to it. This is a story full of cunning disguises, and readers seem reluctant to see past those disguises. RL rkcerffrq chmmyrzrag ng ubj many readers took forever to decide Quirrell = Voldemort; I think I now know why.

I suggest that humans are instinctive "observation consequentialists." That is, we think someone is competent and good if the observed results of their actions are benign. We weigh what we observe much more strongly than what we merely deduce. If we personally see their actions work out well, we'll put aside a great deal of indirect evidence for their incompetence or vileness.

In HPMOR, Quirrell's directly observed actions are mostly associated with Harry getting to be more of what he thinks he wants. Even rescuing Bellatrix amounts to Harry getting to save a broken lovelorn creature in terms of what we directly observe. To believe Quirrell evil we have to bring in all kinds of expected consequences to weigh against those immediate positive observations.

Does the resistance to saying Quirrell=Voldemort maybe reflect a broader unwillingness to overlook what we directly witness in favor of abstract deduction? If it does, this implies some interesting predictions about human behavior:

  • if you can be kind and moderate in your personal behavior, you can get away with incredible amounts of institutionally-mediated violence and extremism, especially to anyone who feels like they "know" you. Hypothesis: the most dangerous people are those who can give us the illusion of "knowing" them while they command an institution whose internal operations we don't see.

  • More generally, an institution "wired" to do us harm can get away with it much longer than an individual doing it personally and directly. Faceless corporate evil, faceless societal evil, and faceless government evil are much more deadly than our emotional impulses realize. Hypothesis: we are biased to confuse the institutions with our attitude toward their leaders, or to refuse to act against the institutions because of the outward manners of their leaders.

  • if this 'observation consequentialism' bias is heuristic, then maybe it evolved as an anti-gossip function. In that case we should expect that people are too quick to believe outrageous things about people they can't observe. Hypothesis: the further away someone is from your understanding, the less likely you are to think of them as mostly a typical human being, and the quicker you are to believe them a saint, a monster, or something similarly exciting.

  • And, alas for EY, hypothesis: telling a story about cunning disguises, in which the protagonist of the story does not see through those disguises, is almost always going to lead to lots of readers also not seeing through those disguises.

comment by moridinamael · 2012-04-20T23:55:44.047Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Additionally, abusive relationships persist because the victim just can't help but forgive the abuser when the abuser is choosing to be nice. It can be hard to even believe your own memories of abuse when the abuser is smiling at you and giving you compliments.

I try to recall Quirrell murdering Rita Skeeter in cold blood every time I catch myself feeling like he's the good guy in the story.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-04-22T01:44:26.027Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I think the reason I was reluctant to accept that Quirrell is Voldemort is that Harry is a lot smarter than me and he trusted Quirrell.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-25T04:31:16.397Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

That's actually a surprisingly good reason. In real life, the best rationalist you know is probably not a character in a story and feeling a sense of opposing pressure when you disagree with them is probably a pretty good idea.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-22T07:07:03.949Z · score: 4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

This should cause you to update down your view of Aumann's Agreement theorem.

(I am reminded of many professional scientists tricked by charlatans when magicians were not fooled- because the scientists knew where to look for truth, and the magicians knew where to look for lies.)

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-04-27T00:16:10.696Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have updated by learning of it's existence.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-22T07:10:56.854Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This should cause you to update down your view of Aumann's Agreement theorem.

Could you explain what you mean by this? I'm having trouble parsing "update down your view of".

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-22T07:25:48.476Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Could you explain what you mean by this? I'm having trouble parsing "update down your view of".

Aumann's Agreement theorem is a neat true result about fictional entities. Its applicability to real entities is subjective, and based on how close you think the real entities are to the fictional entities. Increasing that distance makes AAT less relevant to how you live your life, and increasing that distance is what I mean by "update down your view of."

My feeling is that those entities are really distant, to the point where AAT should not seriously alter your beliefs. "I trusted X because Y trusted X" is a recipe for disaster if you trust Y because of different domain-specific competence, rather than their deep knowledge of X.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-22T07:57:30.303Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Right, ok. I'd already thought that AAT is essentially irrelevant to actual human behavior, so I was confused what brought it up.

ETA: No idea why you were downvoted so far.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2013-09-11T10:25:38.056Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On fictional evidence?

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-25T20:41:02.952Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Harry is eleven.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-05-10T14:41:40.486Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm twenty-one, and I'm hell of a lot dumber than him in every aspect - despite having an IQ in the top one percent of humanity (135).

comment by thomblake · 2012-05-11T14:13:18.570Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I generally expect that learning who to trust is something that comes from age and experience more than IQ.

comment by Locke · 2012-04-21T15:11:21.537Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think anyone failed to see the signs that Quirrel is Voldemort in HPMOR. There are just those of us who believed it to be a Red Herring, because "that's how stories are supposed to work." If a potential solution to a mystery seems very obviously true in the first quarter of the story, then in most stories it's probably not the true solution. . Of course, at this point there's just no denying it.

comment by Grognor · 2012-04-21T08:10:54.443Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Or it's just the halo effect, since Quirrell is awesome and of course awesome people are always good. You are making things up!

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-22T23:03:34.545Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

if you can be kind and moderate in your personal behavior, you can get away with incredible amounts of institutionally-mediated violence and extremism, especially to anyone who feels like they "know" you. Hypothesis: the most dangerous people are those who can give us the illusion of "knowing" them while they command an institution whose internal operations we don't see.

This suits extremely well with both local communities relationship to known criminals and to historical figures. Politics is a mind-killer and so on, but a lot of heroes of different nations have done some downright nasty stuff, but managed to keep their reputation due to perceptions about their personal manner. It has recently been used by leaders such as Chavez and Khomeini, but American presidents have also used this effect extensively (why kiss babies?) and historical figures from Cesar to Richard Lionheart and countless of medieval kings have also garnered good will by the actions they have undertaken in public while at the same time doing something in the opposite direction of way greater magnitude through their institutions of power.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-22T05:12:12.101Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm skeptical that people who've taken a long time to accept that Quirrel is Voldemort constitute a significant proportion of HPMoR readers. Sure, I've noticed a considerable number of them too, but HPMoR has a lot of readers. There's a risk of availability bias here; a reader who expresses skepticism that Quirrel is Voldemort automatically attracts attention from anyone who thinks it's obvious, whereas other people who think it's obvious don't.

Personally, I've had no trouble at all accepting that Quirrell is evil ever since his first class, where he praised Harry's killing instinct. Villains pointing out and encouraging protagonists' darker impulses is a time honored trope, and praising an eleven year old in front of a whole class of other children for his drive to kill seems pretty indicative of evil to me.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-22T20:13:57.842Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Part of the problem is what 'he is Voldemort' really means: he isn't like canon Voldemort or even with how MOR Voldemort is reported to be.

As for his obvious evil: it's too obvious, he seems to be the sort who enjoys playing the cynical villain but is actually, if not nice, at least nice to his friends. And Harry seems to be a friend. If he was trying to manipulate Harry he wouldn't have called it intent to kill, he'd have called it being decisive or intelligent or somesuch.

Oddly enough, open villainy can be a great cloak for subtle villainy.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-04-22T23:38:54.482Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

To be honest, I'm not even sure if Voldemort is Voldemort, in the sense of being the man behind the proverbial curtain here. Everything about him from the name up screams "assumed persona": he's far more theatrical a figure than a blood-purist demagogue would need to be, and some aspects of what he does even look counterproductive in that context. And while the canon Tom Riddle did all the same stuff and all for no particularly good reason, in the context of MoR I think we can assume that there's an agenda behind it.

I don't know for sure what that agenda is yet, but a good first step seems to be this question: why would you want to pose as a supervillain? As it happens, Eliezer has touched on that before.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-08-18T12:02:27.359Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

More proof:

Added to this...

Harry looked at the fading sky.

He'd seen Professor Quirrell turn into a hardened criminal while facing the Auror, and the apparent change of personalities had been effortless, and complete.

Another woman had known the Defense Professor as 'Jeremy Jaffe'.

How many different people are you, anyway?

I cannot say that I bothered keeping count.

You couldn't help but wonder...

...whether 'Professor Quirrell' was just one more name on the list, just one more person that had been turned into, made up in the service of some unguessable goal.

Harry would always be wondering now, every time he talked to Professor Quirrell, if it was a mask, and what motive was behind that mask. With every dry smile, Harry would be trying to see what was pulling the levers on the lips.

...would seem to suggest that Quirrelmort was pretending.

As you pointed out, Eliezer has suggested that humanity might benefit from a Dark Lord to unite against.

And Quirrell has used Voldemort as a reason for magical britain to unite.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-08-18T15:43:06.067Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To clarify, this is only weak evidence in favor of Nornagest's theory, but it seems like we shouldn't be postulating evil mutants without considering other possibilities.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2012-12-18T20:02:19.206Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell and Harry are both horcruxes of Voldemort, and there is a decent chance that Quirrell has guessed that this is the case by now, if he didn't always know. Quirrell thus has a very good reason to be nice to Harry...they are partially the same person.

But just how much similarity does hpmor Voldemort bear to cannon Voldemort?

Intelligence boost aside, both Harry and Quirrell have the exact same motives as canon Voldemort (power and immortality). The only difference between them is that Harry has an ethical component to his utility function - that's pretty much the only difference between Harry and Quirrell. Tom Riddle for his part is not against ethics - he just doesn't care about them. There are different varieties of evil: let's not confuse amorality with sadism.

So there is absolutely no reason why Quirrell should view Harry as an enemy, except where Harry interferes with his plans because of his morality. If Harry succeeds at all his goals, so does Quirrell (to some extent. There is still the "dominance" component of power, which is a zero sum game. It's hard to tell how much Quirrell cares about that.)

Harry's view of Quirrell is slightly more problematic. Because of Quirrell's lack of ethics constraints, Quirrell has many more options open to achieve his power/immortality goal than Harry does. So while Harry doesn't need to kill Quirrell, he does need to prevent him from achieving is goals in unethical ways.

In fact, my current prediction is that Harry will "win" by achieving Quirrell's goals ethically, thereby making it unnecessary for Quirrell to behave immorally.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-04-23T20:41:53.249Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Some thoughts...

When reading through the first time, it did seem really obvious that Quirrell was an improved, much more rational version of Voldemort; so blatantly obvious that it made me think if it was a clear red herring. (In the same way that Snape is the canon red herring.) I wondered if Eliezer had reversed things, so that Snape is the real villain and Quirrell the real good guy...

However on re-reading, my prime suspect is now Professor Sprout (Chapter 13):

Maybe Professor Sprout was the Game Controller - the Head of House Hufflepuff would be the last person anyone would suspect, which ought to put her near the top of Harry's list. He'd read one or two mystery novels, too

comment by gwern · 2012-04-23T22:10:06.062Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

the last person anyone would suspect

Of course, everyone knows that, just like they know Dumbledore's not really insane, it's just a cover!

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-05-10T14:39:49.187Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

if you can be kind and moderate in your personal behavior, you can get away with incredible amounts of institutionally-mediated violence and extremism, especially to anyone who feels like they "know" you. Hypothesis: the most dangerous people are those who can give us the illusion of "knowing" them while they command an institution whose internal operations we don't see.

Exactly! That's just like what all the most infamous dictators did, and what Machiavelli recommends in The Prince.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-21T00:23:17.361Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Your third sentence (at least up to the semicolon) should be rot13ed, although the proposition it expresses is pretty well known.

comment by Daniel_Starr · 2012-04-21T00:40:46.383Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How about the first five words?

comment by gjm · 2012-04-21T09:01:09.585Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

OK, I guess.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-22T16:42:37.425Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could someone who has been reading HPMOR more assiduously than me say whether and where it has been explicitly revealed, in the story itself, that Quirrel is Voldemort?

comment by gjm · 2012-04-22T18:15:07.564Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It has not.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-22T18:59:41.994Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Ah. In that case, I choose to discount gur qr-choyvfurq nhgube pbzzrag ba gur znggre and predict that Quirrell, as we have seen him so far, is neither Voldemort, nor Voldemort's puppet.

ETA: Edited only to rot13 something and correct Quirrell's name.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-22T19:26:53.637Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I further predict, more speculatively, that Harry will wrongly come to the opposite conclusion, betray Quirrel, and only too late realise his mistake in turning against his strongest ally. Furthermore, Harry will make this mistake through applying what he has learned from Quirrel about good and evil to Quirrel himself.

All predictions based solely on my reading of the published story.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-22T19:39:26.840Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And furthermore, as a result of this, Harry's eventual victory will come at far greater cost than it otherwise would.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-24T18:25:01.261Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Beware the conjunction fallacy. Your scenario is complicated enough that its probability must be small, and also detailed enough that your brain is likely to try and overestimate that probability.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-24T18:34:31.863Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Of course. As I said in another comment, I rate the combined probability substantially below 0.5.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-10-07T23:25:55.993Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think Quirrel is dying. He has lapses where he goes into "zombie-mode" and what is that, really? It could be some kind of disease or magical illness- perhaps at the end of the year Harry permanently loses his mentor because the illness has finally killed Q or put him in a coma.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-22T19:31:15.625Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah. In that case, I choose to [...] predict that Quirrel, as we have seen him so far, is neither Voldemort, nor Voldemort's puppet.

What odds would you give for that?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-22T19:40:03.066Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not interested in a monetary bet, but when I reach into the unknown depths within and pull out a number, it's 80%. For my more speculative predictions, I'd put the chance that I am right in every detail substantially below 50%. I shall be most gratified if it turns out that I nailed it.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-22T19:47:49.395Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not interested in a monetary bet

Neither am I; I should have said "probability".

80%

...Wow. Really? Bearing in mind that Eliezer is on record as saying he does not deceive his readers with red herrings?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-22T20:03:29.668Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, really. Certainly, Quirrell has some significant relationship to Voldemort, and the questions of who Quirrell really is and what that relationship is have been raised in the fic. But I don't think Eliezer has been deceiving the readers.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-22T21:23:33.994Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Some bits of the foregoing discussion really ought to be rot13ed.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-23T18:29:15.607Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Spoilers ahoy:

Ryvrmre unf pbzzragrq gung Ibyqrzbeg == Dhveeryy zber guna bapr. Va gur puncgre jurer Dhveeryy fnlf ur pnfg n fcryy ba gur Cvbarre cyndhr, gur nhgube'f abgrf pbagnvarq gur fragrapr "Ibyqrzbeg ubepehkrq gur Cvbarre cyndhr!"

The only way you can be remotely correct is if Eliezer has outright lied to us. You are almost directly calling Eliezer a liar. I believe that the probability of Eliezer being a liar is way, way, way lower than the probability that your theory, which is quite crackpottish and heretofore unsubstantiated even without considering Eliezer's comments on the matter, is correct.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-23T19:40:17.971Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Beware the Löbian death spiral.

Lbh ner ersreevat gb qr-choyvfurq zngrevny, juvpu nf sne nf V'z pbaprearq qbrf abg rkvfg. Nalguvat gung Ryvrmre unf jvguqenja sebz pnaba, ur vf serr gb punatr ng jvyy. Zl vzcerffvba (V qba'g ernq zbfg bs gur UCZBE guernqf) vf gung gung pbzzrag bs Ryvrmre'f, juvpu ab ybatre rkvfgf, vf gur fbyr fbhepr sbe D=I. V nyfb abgr gung gur Cvbarre vapvqrag unccrarq jryy orsber gur riragf bs UCZBE; jurgure D jnf= I gura V qba'g unir na bcvavba ba.

I gave in-world reasons, based purely on published HPMOR canon, for thinking Q != V. A meta-consideration tending in the same direction is this. In Rowling canon, Q=V, but this is a dramatic reveal at some point in the first volume. Readers coming to HPMOR having read Rowling, seeing that this is an alternate version of the Potterverse, will immediately be wondering how all the characters of the two parallel universes correspond to each other. Hence the question, as soon as Quirrell appears: is Q V? Now, how can the answer to this question be revealed as a surprise, if the answer is that Q=V? The only way of making a mystery of it is to plant suggestive hints that Q=V and then, when the time comes, reveal Q != V.

Anyway, I'm right or I'm wrong, and the story itself will give the real answer soon enough.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T18:45:13.862Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Now, how can the answer to this question be revealed as a surprise, if the answer is that Q=V? The only way of making a mystery of it is to plant suggestive hints that Q=V and then, when the time comes, reveal Q != V.

What makes you think it's supposed to be a surprise or a mystery? Maybe it's supposed to be obvious.

comment by CuSithBell · 2012-04-23T19:53:43.022Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Now, how can the answer to this question be revealed as a surprise, if the answer is that Q=V? The only way of making a mystery of it is to plant suggestive hints that Q=V and then, when the time comes, reveal Q != V.

Or, plant suggestive hints that Q=V, assume you'll think it's a red herring, then reveal Q=V. If there's only one possible answer to a mystery, then it isn't a mystery!

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-24T08:18:51.797Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's only so many levels of bluffing that can fit into the cognitive space around the fic. Cf. the Unexpected Execution and the Blue-Eyed Monks. And look at all the people who are convinced already that Q=V. It will be a surprise to them if they turn out to be wrong.

And of course there's this, from chapter 12:

Harry caught a glimpse of the back of his head, and it looked like Professor Quirrell might already be going bald, despite his seeming youth.

HPMOR!Quirrell doesn't hide the back of his head, which is oddly bald! It's a Significant Detail! A Clue! But Everyone is Ignoring it!

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-04-25T09:27:35.034Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I took that particular passage as evidence that Rational!Voldemort is not so incompetent as to risk discovery through hat-removal.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-25T10:23:39.249Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I reject this explanation simply because it isn't an interesting explanation.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-25T13:00:42.061Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just to amplify that, there has to be a reason that Rowling!Voldemort hides on the back of Q's head. (Ok, the meta-reason might be that Rowling just thought this would be really creepy and didn't think about what would actually be smart for V to do, but that's Rowling!Potterverse all over: brilliant façade, nothing behind it.) So that reason, even if EY has to invent it on Rowling's behalf ("Rowling!V is stupid" isn't good enough), has to still apply. For EY!Voldemort to be in control of Quirrell some other way cannot be justified just by saying that EY!V is smarter and found a way. Specific differences need specific explanations.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-25T15:48:12.610Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When Dumbledore is entertaining the possibility that shade!Voldemort possessed Hermione he doesn't say "But we know that's not the case because the back of her head isn't deformed."

More generally, there's been lots and lots of specific changes to how magic in general and certain magics in particular work. Forex: in canon there's no such thing as "magical exhaustion". Basically everything about Transfiguration is different. Combat is different, and far more detailed.

comment by sconzey · 2012-08-08T14:25:11.258Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Given that AB has correctly surmised who Q is, and AB's knowledge of Q is correct, circumstantial evidence that Q=V would be that Q re-establishes contact with his family and then they are all killed by V.

I currently believe that Q is V in some significant way, but they are not 'the same person' either.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-04-21T16:21:20.492Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You deserve far more karma than what you received, my friend.

By the way, could you link me to the argument expressed here?

RL rkcerffrq chmmyrzrag ng ubj many readers took forever to decide Quirrell = Voldemort

comment by glumph · 2012-04-21T21:05:07.689Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Right here.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-04-22T22:13:21.352Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-22T03:04:41.346Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand why this was downvoted... the original source has been deleted but Glumph posted a link to an accurate copy of it.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-22T00:18:35.005Z · score: -4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

HPMOR is making me rethink human nature -- because of how people react to it.

The readers of HPMOR are likely an extremely biased sample of humanity, and I'd think particularly for this issue.

We like to let reality decide, and despite our general intellectual "confidence" in ourselves relative to others, we instinctively see that our inferences can and are likely to be wrong. We want to be less wrong, while others generally assume that their inferences are already right.

On the more speculative side, I think that there are many different motivations for accepting a belief as true, and compared to most other people, we are less motivated by hearsay evidence, even when it comes from the Voice of God. Fiction itself always implies some suspension of disbelief. For me, at least, the natural suspension includes the Voice of God and Rowling, which probably enhances the distrust of hearsay within in the story.

In the book, what we've seen of Quirrell has generally been positive, if not always cheery.

His one observable "crime" was killing Rita Skeeter, a crime for which I have a fair amount of sympathy, and would call overzealous justice more than criminality. She ruthlessly destroys lives with complete disregard for the truth to make a buck and amuse herself, and was destroyed in the act of such criminality, by one of her intended victims. The word I have for that is Justice. How many lives has she destroyed? How many lives did Quirrell save by destroying her? I don't think I would have done the same, and wouldn't have encouraged him to do so, but I wouldn't hold it against Quirrell either.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-22T02:20:13.330Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

She doesn't destroy any lives. Who does the Inquirer destroy? She makes people embarrassed and the only effects we ever really see are schoolchildren making stupid assumptions about harry. Certainly nothing CLOSE to deserving the death penalty. Killing Skeeter was EVIL.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-22T02:27:33.156Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Skeeter was a paid witting propagandizing accomplice for a Death Eater in both MoR and canon.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-22T03:10:30.681Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

And she was perfectly willing to tar a Hogwarts Professor as a death eater, and tar Harry as a Dark Lord in training.

Rita let out an incredulous laugh. Of course the man wasn’t a real Death Eater. The paper wouldn’t have published it if he was.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-22T03:13:25.233Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

And so were a ton of people who read her article. She was pandering to her audience. Do you want to kill all of them too? Being biased is not worthy of capital punishment.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-22T05:14:04.157Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Whether or not being biased is worthy of capital punishment is a completely different issue than whether she has in fact destroyed people's lives.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-04-22T05:36:06.301Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Destroyed people's lives" is an odd expression.

It can sometimes mean "kidnapped people, held them in prisons, and tortured them to death."

And it can sometimes mean "written embarrassing things about people."

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-22T05:46:31.335Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Well, when it means "written embarrassing things about people," it tends to carry the additional meaning that those writings cost people their social standing and possibly their livelihoods, turning them into paraiahs and possibly landing them in prison.

In any case, accusing someone of being a Death Eater goes far beyond the territory of "embarrassing." As we witnessed in the early chapters of the story, nearly everyone has traumatic experiences associated with the war. Death Eaters are The Hated Enemy from a war that still looms so large in the memories of the public that they're afraid to say the name of their leader. On the face of it, this should be at least as weighty an accusation as accusing a schoolteacher of being a member of al-Qaeda.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-22T06:06:23.301Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Several problems with this:

1 no one has turned into a pariah or gotten into prison because of her tabloid, unless you count harry being slightly shunned by people who don't matter.

2, Is accusing someone of being a secret Deatheater really that different than all the people that accuse Obama of being a secret muslim? It's sensationalist nonsense that no reasonable person believes. No one ACTED on the belief that Quirrel is a secret deatheater, and I doubt anyone seriously believed it anyway.

3, Al Qaeda has no Lucius Malfoy. Being known to be a former Deatheater doesn't seem to cause him that much trouble.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-22T13:59:54.033Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Slightly shunned? He essentially went from hero to outcast, and "people who don't matter" consisted of the majority of the wizarding public, in school and out. If he hadn't proven himself right about basically everything, that reputation could have followed him for the rest of his life. Do you think your livelihood wouldn't be affected if most of your country thought you were, as she put it, "dangerously disturbed?"

And you're arguing that "no one" was turned into a paraiah or imprisoned because of her, when our entire sample of people she's smeared is a number we can count on our fingers, out of a career of more than a decade built on attacking people's reputations.

Lucius is widely agreed to have been a Death Eater, at least by his political opponents, but he's also been found innocent by the judicial system. O. J. Simpson is widely agreed to be a murderer, and it certainly affects how the public views him, but he's not actually being punished for it. Both Lucius and O. J. have the advantage of already being rich, and not needing to hold down a job. Other characters, on the other hand, have been punished for being Death Eaters by life in Azkaban.

Rita accusing Quirrell of being a Death Eater is thus quite different from accusing Obama of being a secret Muslim, as being a Muslim isn't actually illegal, and that allegation was only believed by people who had already formed their opinions on him, whereas Rita has an established record of changing people's opinions, and creating them for people who haven't already.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-25T21:34:43.322Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

O. J. Simpson is widely agreed to be a murderer, and it certainly affects how the public views him, but he's not actually being punished for it. Both Lucius and O. J. have the advantage of already being rich

This might have been true to some extent in 1997, but not so much today. By the end of the civil trial, O.J had spent most of his money on his defense, and he had to even give up prized possessions like his Heisman Trophy in order to pay the damages. He didn't have enough property to pay all the damages, and the only reason he had anything left after that is that California law doesn't allow taking pensions to pay for damages, so he still had his NFL retirement to support him. But right now, he's serving a long prison sentence for armed robbery from trying to take back some of his football memorabilia - some of the folks he engaged in that offense with got away scot-free, since the prosecution was much more interested in taking down O.J. So yes, the public perception did affect him.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-04-22T06:24:50.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Despite being largely built from real-world prototypes, the Death Eaters don't have any great real-world analogies that I'm very familiar with. As a violent political organization that gained substantial power and waged a full-blown civil war quite recently, they seem close to the IRA, but they don't have the historical context that colored that conflict; the strong blood-purity emphasis puts them close in some ways to Klansmen or neo-Nazis, or the early Nazi Party before it dropped its revolutionary angle, but there doesn't seem to be a strong nationalist component and the methodology is different.

Point is, I'd forbear from reasoning too far by analogy here; the situation's too unusual. About the best we can do is look at the in-universe consequences of various people's actions, and from that perspective the accusation looks pretty damned weighty. Especially for a schoolteacher.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-23T13:23:28.442Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's worth noting that, in canon, Rita's writing results in Hermione receiving piles of hate mail including booby-trapped letters containing toxic chemicals. It also results in the Ministry, as represented by Fudge, taking a very dim view of Harry on the evidence of her articles alone ("having funny turns all over the place").

Given the apparent gullibility and quickness to violence of the general population in the Potterverse (with no comment on how this may or may not resemble the real world), it is entirely plausible that Rita's other victims were also the targets of such abuse, including risks to their health. And let's not even get started on the possibility of vigilante justice (you don't mess with Lucius Malfoy because he is, in fact, Lucius Malfoy, but what about less well-defended targets?), or the way key institutions such as the Wizengamot are easily swayed by rumour and rhetoric.

In light of the above, I assign a very low probability to the hypothesis that Rita Skeeter's writing has not resulted in cases of bodily harm and miscarriage of justice (up to and including Azkaban and/or death).

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-10-10T09:08:12.943Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

no one has turned into a pariah [...] because of her tabloid, unless you count harry being slightly shunned by people who don't matter.

I think you need to recheck the standard definitions of "pariah". Most people, I think, would consider his experiences "being turned into a pariah", and I am unsure what definition of "pariah" you are using. In canon, government officials considered him sufficiently unreliable to discount his eyewitness testimony that Lord Voldemort had returned. That's quite a fall for "the boy who lived". If Skeeter can do that much damage in a single article, imagine if she had chosen an already unpopular target.

That said, she certainly didn't "deserve" death.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-22T02:52:56.946Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

She worked at a newspaper and punished gossip stories that would sell. was she any more "Paid" than any other employee at a biased newspaper? It's been a while since I read the relevant book but I don't recall her being bribed by or taking orders from Lucius.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-22T03:51:33.071Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

She worked at a newspaper and punished gossip stories that would sell

Gossip stories that were weapons (used by one side to prosecute two separate wars with thousands of casaulties) and acknowledged as such by all well-informed players; or are we going to claim that Skeeter, investigative reporter par excellence, somehow missed that she was really working for Malfoy despite everyone else knowing?

Whether Lucius hands her a sack of gold or signs a check to the Daily Prophet makes no difference. It would be like asking whether Tokyo Rose was paid on an hourly basis or annual salary.

(Or if the payment method does make a difference, I will remember the particular corporate and moral niceties for if I ever hire an assassin.)

comment by TimS · 2012-04-22T05:47:56.431Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

canon!Skeeter was a tool of Fudge. Thus, if Fudge was a tool of Malfoy, then Skeeter was a tool of Malfoy. But I'm not convinced that Fudge knew that he was a Malfoy tool. Certainly, his reactions amount to "doing worse than Neville Chamberlain when confronting an evil tyrant," which was a very advantageous position for the Ministry of Magic to take, from Malfoy's point of view.

Nonetheless, my impression from canon was that Fudge's "la-la-la I'm not listening strategy" was a happy accident from Malfoy's point of view, not a planned strategy. And if Fudge was not conspiring with Malfoy, then it seems reasonable that Skeeter (a knowing lackey of Fudge) would not think she was one of Malfoy's tools.

Of course, a substantial amount of this impression is based on my belief that Rowling was a terrible world-builder and that the canon Potterverse contained essentially zero competent plotters. For example, Chamber of Secrets is an unintended consequence of Malfoy's petty act against a bureaucratic rival. Voldemort received no benefit from Malfoy's acts, and Malfoy should have know that. Heck, Malfoy himself received no benefit, and didn't even seem to expect one. In short, he shouldn't have used a powerful Voldemort artifact the way he did.

Edit: None of this should be read as disagreeing with the view that Skeeter knew that a natural consequence of her work was destroying people's lives and this didn't bother her one bit.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-26T22:11:29.892Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's the impression of the characters in book 5, but the end of book 4 pretty clearly shows that Fudge's impressions of Harry were guided by Skeeter, not the other way around.

"You are prepared to believe that Lord Voldemort has returned, on the word of a lunatic murderer, and a boy who… well…"

Fudge shot Harry another look, and Harry suddenly understood.

"You've been reading Rita Skeeter, Mr. Fudge," he said quietly.

...

Fudge reddened slightly, but a defiant and obstinate look came over his face.

"And if I have?" he said, looking at Dumbledore. "If I have discovered that you've been keeping certain facts about the boy very quiet? A Parselmouth, eh? And having funny turns all over the place -"

As for what you said about Lucius being a shoddy plotter--well, he did fail in CoS, so you could make an argument to that opinion. But look at it from another point of view.

  • Through an excessive amount of force --an admittedly stupid move which did get him kicked off of the Board eventually--he got Dumbledore removed as Headmaster, and if Harry hadn't triumphed against ridiculous odds, it likely would have stuck.

  • If Ginny had been caught releasing the Basilisk, Arthur is discredited, which would reverse those irritating acts that he was (somehow) making into law.

  • If Ginny fails to be saved, then either she gets blamed for everything and Arthur is discredited or she is taken to be another victim; either way and she would be dead, which is icing on the Flawless Instrument of Death's cake.

  • If Ginny is saved but people don't believe her about the diary controlling her actions (remember, Dumbledore was supposed to be gone), then Arthur is discredited.

  • We don't know too much about how much Lucius knew about the diary, but he might have known that it would have targeted Harry, which would have been quite the coup.

  • If the diary would have escaped, I would argue that Voldemort would get something out of it; perhaps the life stolen from Ginny could have been given to Voldemort's shade?

  • None of this mentions the fact that many mudbloods were supposed to die, which he would consider to be a good thing, at least.

Lucius did not succeed in CoS--at all, really, besides temporarily removing the headmaster--but that doesn't mean he wasn't planning to get anything out of it.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-22T04:04:23.563Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Where are you getting this? All we know about her is she writes semi-accurate stories about Harry in the books and Quirrel says she is Lucius' pawn. Where do we hear about her writing propaganda during the wizarding wars? Her behavior makes just as much sense if she's just a sensationalist writer trying to sell papers to credulous idiots as if she's a paid servant of Lucius.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-22T05:17:44.077Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Semi-accurate? She blatantly makes things up and spins things in order to smear her subjects. You could as well call an article "semi-accurate" which accuses someone of being a child molester, when the reality is that they do, in fact, spend time around children.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-22T13:27:56.885Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Setting aside that incredibly weighted analogy...

I think that's exactly what Drethelin meant when s/he said "semi-accurate". The point is that all Skeeter did was make up gossip and at the end of the day that's not that bad. If you can point to an actual instance of someone dying or coming to great harm that stemmed from a Skeeter article, then... you can think of ONE bad thing she did. And your proposed solution is to kill her?

Hermione solves the Skeeter problem in Canon without shedding any blood, and even she goes overboard on the justice by trapping the woman inside a glass jar for hours/days. I can think of plenty of ways to stifle Skeeter without even using teleportation or invisibility or time travel - imagine what a mighty wizard like Quirrel could do. Quirrel even says that he's going to crush her (turns out he meant that literally) just for the sheer enjoyment of it, and not because it's what she deserves.

I just think that the people who support killing Rita Skeeter probably decided that it was a good idea because they hated her, and then cast around for justifications that sounded better than that.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-22T13:54:24.499Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

If you can point to an actual instance of someone dying or coming to great harm that stemmed from a Skeeter article, then... you can think of ONE bad thing she did.

If you dredged through canon, you would probably only come up with 20-30 deaths unequivocally and specifically at Voldemort's hand as opposed to random Death Eaters, mysterious deaths, deaths inferred but not actually known to have been Voldemort's doing, general carnage implied but not stated etc. Maybe he's not such a bad guy after all!

Demanding specific incidents is like demanding specific incidents of lung cancer before you can discuss the moral guilt of tobacco executives. 'Ah, but how do you know that lung cancer was thanks to their tobacco smoking? Lung cancer is pretty common, you know!' Or power plants or...

('How do you know Skeeter's articles helped kill this particular person during Voldemort's ignored rise to power in canon, or helped him kill people during his first war? Can you prove that Skeeter's article was either necessary or sufficient to keep the population apathetic and let people like Cedric Diggory die?')

In the real world, we have the luxury of investigating propagandists like Anwar Al-Awlaki or Goebbels, and can even nail them all the way down to specific deaths - this Somali kid in Minneasota decided to become a jihadi, killing himself and 4 others, that sort of thing.

In the fictional world, alas, short of someone asking Rowling whether Skeeter's articles contributed to any deaths, we cannot know. There's no fact of the matter about it. It's fake, it's not real, it never happened.

In the real world, however, being the top reporter on a government propaganda rag... What sort of blood-guilt do you think a comparable North Korean reporter or news anchor (eg. Ri Chun Hee) bears?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-22T15:15:05.481Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you dredged through canon, you would probably only come up with 20-30 deaths unequivocally and specifically at Voldemort's hand as opposed to random Death Eaters, mysterious deaths, deaths inferred but not actually known to have been Voldemort's doing, general carnage implied but not stated etc. Maybe he's not such a bad guy after all!

But you've moved the goalposts. I didn't ask for deaths that were unequivocally and specifically at Skeeter's hand - there definitely aren't ANY of those, so if that was our condition of guilt she'd be good and Voldemort would be bad. All I asked for were ones that could be traced back to one of her articles - perhaps there are one or two of those, but if we're allowing that as our condition of guilt then Voldemort shares responsibility for just about every death we hear about in canon so he has hundreds if not thousands of deaths on his hands.

Either way, my point was that in order to argue that Skeeter's death was justified on utilitarian grounds, one has to prove that killing her would save lives. Killing her definitely costs one life. Stopping her from publishing costs no lives. I'm not trying to argue that Skeeter is a good person, I'm just pointing out that in the grand scheme of things she's not that bad, and that there are plenty of ways to eliminate her as a threat without getting blood on one's hands.

Your example about the tobacco executives is misleading. We DO require evidence that tobacco kills in order to condemn tobacco executives as being morally bankrupt. Luckily, we have that evidence. I'm asking for evidence that Skeeter articles kill, because one of the main arguments of the Kill Skeeter camp seems to be that they do kill. If you can bring me that evidence I'll continue to agree that Skeeter needs to be stopped but I still won't agree that she should have been killed, any more than I want to kill tobacco executives.

I'm going to repeat that for the sake of clarity. My argument is not:

"Skeeter never hurt anyone so she should be spared."

My argument is:

"Well, I don't agree that Skeeter definitely did kill anyone - I want to hear more evidence. Even if she did, though, we don't need to kill her to save lives, so we shouldn't do that. Therefore, Quirrel did a bad thing."

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-22T13:39:24.028Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When did I ever propose killing her? Quirrell is evil, but just because Rita got herself killed by someone more evil than she was doesn't mean she wasn't a pretty terrible person.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-22T14:41:10.933Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I didn't mean to point the finger at you specifically. I should more correctly have written, "the proposed solution," or something.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-25T21:23:05.023Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Folks seem to be waving their hands at whether there's anything definitive written about Rita causing real harm, so...

In canon, Rita was not portrayed as explicitly on anyone's side, and probably the worst direct consequence of anything she wrote, that was explicitly mentioned, was Hermione receiving hate mail after being accused of using love potions. relevant HP wiki article

In HPMOR, If we take Quirrell at his word in Chapter 26, Rita was trying to destroy Harry's reputation, which is a real harm. In chapter 22, Draco thinks "The Daily Prophet was one of Father's primary tools, he used it like a wizard's wand." - and we all know the sorts of things Lucius gets up to with a wizard's wand. In chapter 80, the Prophet printed stories directly accusing Hermione of trying to kill Draco, before her trial.

I haven't been able to find any reference that Skeeter or the Prophet were aiding Voldemort during the War, in canon or MoR.

comment by Brickman · 2012-04-18T13:18:02.513Z · score: 25 (27 votes) · LW · GW

Is it me, or does Harry's solution to this dilemma seem rather... half-assed? Ignoring potential the loss of effectiveness from his resolving to suddenly switch directions the first time things get bad, is he really going to know the first time someone dies as a result of his war? How will he know the difference? He's already gotten someone killed by his actions (Rita Skeeter, who he doesn't even know about) and another person gravely injured (that auror hurt by the rocket, who he doesn't know about but admittedly he thought the whole affair was a mistake afterward anyways). How about opportunity costs, the fact that if you handed me 100000 galleons demanding I save at least 10 lives with it I could hand you back 99000 in change. And that's before the "war" even "started"; hostilities are going to get more open and more direct from here. It's madness to think you can finish war, even a weird semi-geurella war like this, with zero casualties, or that you'll know about every one.

With the condition he gave himself anyone should be able to see that "failure" is a foregone conclusion. And there's very good odds he's not going to learn that what he's doing isn't working until he's racked up a far worse bodycount than one.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T13:24:44.040Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

He's already gotten someone killed by his actions (Rita Skeeter, who he doesn't even know about)

Not for any realistic sense of the phrase 'by his actions'. Quirrel squished Rita of his own accord for his own purposes and Harry's presence there is damn near irrelevant.

comment by Brickman · 2012-04-18T13:41:45.917Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Morally he didn't do it, and maybe Quirrel even had a desire to kill her sitting on a back burner before Harry got involved, but her death was caused by her interaction with Harry. It is no stretch to say that there is at least one hypothetical sequence of actions Harry could have taken, even given knowledge at the time (not realizing she worked for Lucius or was an animagus) which would not have resulted in her death. Heck, doing nothing would have resulted in her not death.

That is the level of challenge Harry is taking upon himself. Not just to not kill anyone, not just to keep your hands clean, not just to save people when he can. He's declaring that if any innocent person anywhere dies and there's something he could have done differently to save them, that's his failure condition. You can't do that.

That said, I thought about it a few minutes more and it could be his resolution is really about knowing he doesn't know how bad the situation is. It's certainly possible to get through, say, a political power struggle with someone like Lord Malfoy without anyone getting killed. Harry considers it possible but doesn't yet believe that his opponent is Voldemort. If his opponent is Voldemort avoiding casualties is impossible. If his opponent is someone less evil (though still pretty nasty), and the scope of the conflict is much smaller, he might be able to pull it off.

comment by fgenj · 2012-04-18T18:17:52.996Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

but a single nameless innocent bystander who catches a Cutting Curse

It seems that he promised himself to stop trying to save everyone even if a minor character dies accidentally. In that case it wouldn't matter if he considered himself directly responsible for the death of Rita Skeeter.

You can't do that.

Indeed. I don't see how he could manage not to compromise his 'every human life is precious' principle in a war. He's hesitating between two possible courses of action -- doing the math or playing Ghandi -- and neither seems like a satisfying choice. He really needs to become omnipotent or at least avoid the necessity of making such a choice.

comment by fgenj · 2012-04-18T17:35:19.668Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

but a single nameless innocent bystander who catches a Cutting Curse

It seems that he promised himself to stop trying to save everyone even if a minor character dies accidentally. In that case it wouldn't matter if he considered himself directly responsible for the death of Rita Skeeter.

You can't do that.

Indeed. I don't see how he could manage not to compromise his 'every human life is precious' principle in a war. He's hesitating between two possible courses of action -- doing the math or playing Ghandi -- and neither seems like a satisfying choice. He really needs to become omnipotent or at least avoid the necessity of making such a choice.

Edit: Oops, I messed up quotes and accidentally retracted the comment

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-18T13:33:19.743Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrel squished Rita of his own accord for his own purposes and Harry's presence there is damn near irrelevant.

Kinda-sort of.

Harry inadvertently gave Fred&George the idea of making up rumours about Quirrel (by telling them he doesn't like rumours, and asking them to leave Quirrel out of it). Which Rita Skeeter published.

And the prank he actually commissioned gave Quirrel a plausible explanation for Rita Skeeter's disappearance.

Morally Harry is not really responsible IMO. But causally, eh... her death would have probably not have happened if he hadn't talked to the Weasley twins about her.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-18T16:47:35.985Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Morally he still deliberately ruined her, regardless of whether he thought it would cause her death. Doing something to ruin the reputation of someone who lives by their reputation is morally bad even if you didn't think through all the consequences.

--edited for language and clarity.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T16:52:39.322Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Morally he still deliberately fucked her, regardless of whether he thought it would cause her death.

Different language would be more appropriate to the context. Not because I have qualms with foul language, but because I actually got the impression that we were considering rape-ethics or philosophy in magic-mediated edge cases till I followed the link.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-18T17:12:15.237Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

thanks

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T21:21:16.219Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Only if she doesn't deserve to have her reputation wrecked. Skeeter did - I don't think Quirrell's murder is justified, but the phrases he had Harry repeat are all basically accurate.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-26T23:21:21.118Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The irony of this statement is overwhelming--I do hope it's deliberate.

comment by Swimmy · 2012-04-20T01:44:06.015Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your opportunity cost point is more obvious to me than your Rita Skeeter point. Harry just sacrificed several lives, not just in people he could save today but almost certainly in people he could have saved once the war started. Potentially justified if Hermione is nigh-irreplaceable in the project of discovering the underlying structure of magic, which might give a hint as to where the plot's going. But I'm not sure Harry could reasonably predict that.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-18T12:14:54.729Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, after thinking a few minutes about the Batman-Joker/where do you put Dark Wizards if you're determined not to use Dementors anymore problem...

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

I can think up of possible ways out of this meta-problem, in order to sustain the dilemma: Perhaps really powerful Dark Wizards require too vast a portion of magical power to sustain the vow. Perhaps there are dark rituals whereby using them, Dark Wizards can break out of even an (ill-named) Unbreakable Vow. Perhaps Dark Wizards tend to have made other rituals that already make them immune to Unbreakable Vows... Perhaps unbreakable vows need be really really specific in some weird manner like "I will not kill Bill Weasley", and "I will not kill Charlie Weasley" necessarily are two separate vows, so that "I will not kill any human" isn't enforceable...

But these are additional problems that are not yet mentioned/listed/foreshadowed in the story. Ugh, Unbreakable Vows seem something of a game breaker right now.

Sidenote: Whenever I think of something such, I worry that the author will think he'll have to rewrite/revise everything he had already planned, and that we'll never get an update again. Not my intention, I swear.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-18T13:05:10.784Z · score: 43 (43 votes) · LW · GW

Unbreakable Vows are ridiculously broken, as Harry briefly observes in Ch. 74. They're even more ridiculous in fanfictions where people can just grab a wand and swear something on their life and magic and thereby create a magically binding vow. I had to nerf the hell out of their activation costs just to make the MoR-verse keep running. I can't depict a society with zero agency problems, a perfect public commitment process and an infinite trust engine unless the whole story is about that.

comment by Lavode · 2012-04-18T19:01:54.352Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I mentioned this in the TVtropes thread, but Merlin did not think through his interdict all that well - If you are going to compromise everyones mental integrity to end a cycle of magical destruction, then limiting information spread is an asinie way to do it - it would make infinitely more sense to subject all wizards to a magical prohibition against large scale destruction and killing. Phrasing it so that it wards agaist Dunning-Kruger fueled magical accidents without shutting down experimentation entirely is an interesting exercise, but should be possible.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-18T22:29:57.514Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Frankly, we don't know enough about why Merlin did what he did to judge his action either way -- we don't know what danger was being foreseen, we don't know the limitations of his own powers. There's really no sense in criticizing him or praising him at this point of time - we lack crucial information.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-08-18T02:48:31.881Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible that the Interdict is a natural property of the Source of Magic, and was swept up in the legend of Merlin as time passed. We have no real evidence for a time when people could record spells indefinitely, AFAIK.

comment by Tripitaka · 2012-04-19T12:04:10.341Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I understood Merlins Interdict to be interfering with The Source of Magic, not with "everyones mental integrity", which would seem much much harder to do. Magic seems to function by checking prerequisites, like "waved magical active stick in spatial pattern X", "said wingardium leviosa with exact pronounciation Y"- Just add to this list of prerequisites of sufficiently powerfull spells a call of a function which checks wether the user is authorized; if not, check wether user should be authorized. If ve is, add to list of authorized user, if not, deny.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T12:10:36.717Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Doesn't work. It's not that powerful spells are known but can't be cast, the function of the Interdict somehow causes powerful wizards' notes to be unintelligible to the uninitiated.

comment by Lavode · 2012-04-19T22:19:56.707Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not just notes. - All written instructions on how to do spells above a certain level just flat out fail unless someone explains the spell to you in person at least once. Which has to be a mind hack, and if you are willing to alter peoples minds to remove the risk of idiots or madmen blowing up the planet/opening the gates of hell/ect, then picking this specific modification is very.. odd.

Hold up.. checking assumptions. Can anyone think of a way for the edict of merlin to do what it does without tampering with peoples minds?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T22:36:42.346Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Back up one step further: what evidence do we have that the Interdict actually exists? As opposed to, say, all powerful wizards simply having the same inclination toward secrecy and self-discovery. How did Quirrell put it...

The fools who can't resist meddling are killed by the lesser perils early on, and the survivors all know that there are secrets you do not share with anyone who lacks the intelligence and the discipline to discover them for themselves! Every powerful wizard knows that!

I've never received the impression that wizards powerful enough to be subject to the Interdict have actually tried to circumvent it. If all known examples of written instructions for powerful spells were gibberish to begin with, would the world look any different? Not to mention, why would it be necessary to cast a huge mind-altering spell to make people do what they were inclined to do anyway?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-20T11:54:21.244Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hold up.. checking assumptions. Can anyone think of a way for the edict of merlin to do what it does without tampering with peoples minds?

Trivial.

Someone explaining to you in person is the same as someone authorizing you to use a piece of software. You can still speak the words of the spell, still do the sacrifices, but the computer is just not going to listen to your commands unless you've been given those privileges.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-08-05T13:00:13.754Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that would be a possibility for controlling distribution of powerful spells, except that the Edict of Merlin explicitly doesn’t do that: you can’t speak the words because you can’t understand the writing. If you could read and speak the spell (and whatever else the spell requires) presumably you could cast it. (Otherwise Merlin needn’t have bothered making the texts unintelligible as well.)

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-20T06:56:36.952Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can anyone think of a way for the edict of merlin to do what it does without tampering with peoples minds?

If by “tampering” you mean just “permanently modifying”, the Source of Magic (TM) could just watch wizards’ minds(1) to detect when they’re writing in sufficient detail(2) high-level(3) spell descriptions, and enchant the written artifact.(4)

(1:) I can’t think of a way it would act the way it does—i.e., trigger wand-less and wordless spells, as well as accidental magic—without reading wizards’ minds at all times (or tampering with their minds at birth), anyway, at least not while following Harry’s genetic marker theory.

(2:) It needs to act only when the description tells you what to do, not what it does. Presumably it lets a historian describe what wondrous feats Merlin did as long as he didn’t describe how the spell was cast.

(3:) I’m really curious how that works. It’s clear that some spells are “harder” to cast, and some are “more powerful” than others (not sure if the two are perfectly correlated), but AFAIK it’s never described what that really means, except for trivial things like complex wand patterns and not-really-helpful stuff like “only first-year student magic level”.

(4:) Basilisks turn you to stone when you look at them, the Mirror-of-I-can’t-remember-who-it-was showed you what you wanted when you looked at it, so it’s clear that magic effects can be triggered by looking at the magical item.

(4b:) Exactly what “written artifact” means would be kind of hard to figure out. If it also applies to non-textual artifacts—sound recordings, encoding a description with smells and colors, planting a row of trees of two species to spell the description in ASCII—then it’s really complicated.

It might just look at what people intend to do, but then it would be vulnerable to complicated attacks like encrypting the description with a key, giving the encrypted text to a scribe who knows the described spell but doesn’t know the key nor what the encrypted text is, and asking them to write the encrypted text, then writing the key separately—or even unintentional recordings. Then again, we have no evidence it isn’t vulnerable to all that, there would have been little opportunity centuries ago. Harry’s pouch does respond to languages neither the caster nor the user knows, but then again it doesn’t answer for simple encodings like “1+1” for “2”...

comment by AndrewH · 2012-04-18T19:56:09.499Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

With Unbreakable Vows, the... arbitrator?... sacrifices a portion of their magic permanently yes? One issue is that, after you die you might need that magic for something, like the more magic you have the more pleasant (or less!) magically created heaven is. In any case, even if magical society was fine with sacrifices, they might reason thus, and not use unbreakable vows. Such a society would make investigation (magical!) into potential afterlife a top priority, so lack of use of such a ritual might be compensated by finding out there is a heaven (or hell).

comment by sketerpot · 2012-04-20T03:59:05.345Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is a society that has no problem using dementors as prison guards. I'm sure they would be willing to compel each criminal to act as the binder for one other criminal. It seems like a very small price to pay.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-08-18T03:04:11.560Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Since there seems to be some confusion on this point: in canon, at least, an "Unbreakable" Vow didn't actually stop you breaking it, it just killed you if you did. If a person is willing to sacrifice their life - and if you resurrect using a horcrux, that could easily be worth it - you can still commit crimes.

And if you swore to obey the law - is being found guilty is now an automatic death sentence, even if you honestly thought it was legal? I doubt a working legal system based on Unbreakable Vows is trivial to come up with.

That said, they are unquestionably broken in canon. Very, very broken. Few are willing to stake their life over, say, business deals, but there are loads of situations in which they would be a massive game-breaker.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T15:44:40.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not to mention perfect self-motivation.. Actually I still don't understand why it is not used that way. Unbreakable Vows only require energy until said vow is fulfilled right?

Seems to be a lot more effective than A. Robbins...

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-18T16:50:50.609Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Nope, ritual magic = permanent sacrifice.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-18T20:23:12.986Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Now we can make the Death Eaters bind trivial Unbreakable Vows over and over again until they lose all of their magic. So now Azkaban is unnecessary and the initial problem with Unbreakable Vows allowing for easy solutions to the prison vs. execution dilemma resurfaces again.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-18T20:28:51.313Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Trivial vows might not trigger the ritual correctly. Remember one of the participants has to have had the option of trying to trust the person in question and choose not to. A vow over something that they'd have no reason to trust the person on otherwise may not work.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-19T00:04:27.949Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The initial statement seems plausible but not the reason you gave for it. Even trivial assertions involve trust. Your statement "a vow over something that they'd have no reason to trust the person on otherwise" reverses the burden of proof/trust that must be overcome. You still have to choose to trust someone even if you don't have evidence saying that they break promises, lacking evidence proving them distrustful does not preclude having to choose to actively trust them.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-19T12:28:42.992Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One major problem concerns the legal rights of magical criminals; what if you're later found to be innocent? There'll be no way to reclaim their magic. Hence I doubt Harry would prefer this solution.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-19T06:44:23.634Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That reminds me-- at some point in canon, Dumbledore says "There are worse things than dying", and my original thought was that Voldemort could be turned into a Muggle. As it turned out, Dumbledore presumably meant the consequences of creating Horcruxes, but I do wonder how Voldeort would manage if he were turned into a Muggle.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T17:06:23.082Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you; I even managed to figure that out myself (with the help of our ever vigilant and watchful google); as seen in my response to Desrtopa (24 seconds before you clicked the comment button apparently).

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T17:40:36.884Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

with the help of our ever vigilant and watchful Google

FTFY. Show proper reverence, heathen!

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-18T16:28:38.483Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not to mention perfect self-motivation.. Actually I still don't understand why it is not used that way. Unbreakable Vows only require energy until said vow is fulfilled right?

I don't think this is ever stated, and I'd err on the side of assuming not, because that would make them easier to abuse, which would be narratively inconvenient.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T16:50:26.462Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Makes sense. I was confused so I looked it up: "And the third wizard, the binder, permanently sacrifices a small portion of their own magic, to sustain the Vow forever." I guess the self-improvement part is out of the question then...

Still; it'd be a pretty hardcore thing to do for an ambitious dying grandfather. Make his grandson, age 3, swear the vow (something along the lines: "I will never spend an awake moment on anything except improving my abilities or the situation of my family" - it could be phrased better) and then die happily.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T16:57:07.675Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Still; it'd be a pretty hardcore thing to do for an ambitious dying grandfather. Make his grandson, age 3, swear the vow (something along the lines: "I will never spend an awake moment on anything except improving my abilities or the situation of my family" - it could be phrased better) and then die happily.

Age three? Does the vow actually impel you adhere to it or does it just kill you when you are about to break it? (I thought the latter.) Didn't he just kill his grandson?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-18T19:27:53.138Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In canon at least, you just die if you break the Vow.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-18T17:23:14.934Z · score: 28 (28 votes) · LW · GW

You could just strip their magic.

If there exists any ritual that happens to permanently remove a portion of somebody's magic (Unbreakable Vow), then you could just repeat that ritual meaninglessly until that person was completely stripped of magic permanently. Or you could use other rituals which require similar permanent sacrifices until you achieve the same effect. Keeping a permanently magicless wizard imprisoned is a trivial task, and obviates the need for dementors.

Side Note: That's actually my pet theory on why Dementors as prison guards are acceptable to the public. It could be that governments used to use rituals to permanently strip prisoners of magic before imprisoning them. This would make them a revenue center instead of a funds sink. This would naturally encourage the magical government to find more and more excuses to imprison people, similar to how the 'tough on crime' cycle is accelerated by the for-profit prison systems in some places. A police state would be soon to follow. Then, after a cultural revolution, Dementors were adopted as the less evil option to house criminals. It also helps explain why so many rituals are banned. It's unlikely to be true in HPMoR, but it'd be a nice thought for another fanfic.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-18T17:26:12.104Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Another problem with this system is the permanence. People get sent to Azkaban for less than lifetime sentences, but if you use this to strip someone of magic it's gone forever. I suppose you could use degrees of magic removal as punishment but that seems hard to balance to different powerlevels of wizard.

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2012-08-17T00:11:21.554Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A permanent loss of magic is probably much more ethically justifiable than a temporary period of torture.

comment by drethelin · 2012-08-20T05:58:53.610Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This statement contains at least three assumptions that need to be unpacked before it is of any use.

  1. What do you mean by ethically justifiable?

  2. What do you mean by temporary and torture? 2a. To reduce it to absurdity, I would rather be slapped than lose my hand painlessly. Where do you draw the lines on temporariness and tortureness? Is living without magic after having it a form of torture? How much life expectancy does it take before a permanent disability is worse than a temporary pain?

  3. Why is "probably much more ethically justifiable" a fact about either of these things rather than a fact about how you feel about them?

Sorry for the slow response, I was at gencon.

Also, welcome to posting!

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2012-11-14T06:43:14.785Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, drethelin!

  1. How deep of an analysis do you want? Ultimately, what I mean is that torture tends to foreseeably decrease the net positive valence of all experience to a greater extent than does incapacitation.

  2. We both know those are fuzzy terms. And as a utilitarian I acknowledge that some extremely minimal torture could in principle be more justifiable than an especially severe incapacitation. But everyday cases of what we call 'torture' are intuitively much more painful and dehumanizing than, say, permanently depriving a person of a firearms or automobile license. Do you think that one's long-term ability to use magic would tend to cluster on the other side of torture, on a scale of resultant human suffering?

  3. Descriptively, most ethical systems would, I think, agree with my assessment; so if 'ethically justifiable' just means 'able to be justified under what various people take to be the right ethical principles,' it is an empirical statement. But I'll instead take the approach of stipulating what I mean by ethical justifiability in psychological terms, the felt positive and negative valence of experiences. If this is a real property of mental states, what I call 'ethical justifiability' will rest on the distribution of those states. I am responsible for how I use my words, but my words are not on that account 'about me.'

comment by drethelin · 2012-11-14T06:56:23.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Based on your description it seems more sensible to put torture on a continuum with incapacitation rather than holding it separate, as if it decreases future positive utility it seems like another sort of incapacitation to me. At this point I think we're down to math/data on happiness of post torture experiences versus post incapacitating experiences, which because it is 1 am and I have already taken melatonin I am too sleepy to want to look into. My intuitive leaning is that the effects of torture fade with time more than the effects of incapicitation, eg because I might eventually begin to forget how bad being tortured was but can never forget how I have one fewer limb, but this is only an intuition.

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2012-11-14T16:33:34.646Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Our ability to fruitfully debate this issue, while we remain in fiction, is probably very limited. It may be underdetermined whether losing one's magic feels more like losing a driver's license or like losing a limb. If I'm conceiving of magic loss more in the former terms (magic as a toolbox), you more in the latter terms (magic as an intimate part of the magician), then it's unsurprising that we'll arrive at different intuitions.

That said, I'm unclear on what your argument is for treating torture and incapacitation as a 'continuum.' I of course think they can be placed on a continuum of suffering; and I concede that their distribution over the continuum partly overlaps, though I think the bulk of torture involves more intense aggregate suffering than does the bulk of incapacitation. But you seem to be making a different claim now -- that torture IS a kind of incapacitation, or that incapacitation is a kind of torture.

The latter claim I can understand, but reject; incapacitation can sometimes be used to torture someone, but it does not follow that incapacitation itself is always just watered-down torture, for the same reason that the existence of 'Chinese water torture' does not imply that drinking water is, in any interesting sense, on a continuum with torture.

The former claim, that torture is a kind of incapacitation, seems more paradoxical. Is the suggestion that inflicting involuntary pain on someone is nothing but depriving that person of a certain ability -- the ability, presumably, to be happy during the torture, or the ability to not suffer flashbacks afterward? I'm not sure this is a useful reframing, though it is interesting.

comment by drethelin · 2012-11-14T18:07:43.721Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's not my argument, I thought it was yours. When you talk about torture decreasing future positive utility of all experiences that seems pretty clearly to me the same reason to dislike disability.

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2012-11-14T18:50:12.825Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The reasons to dislike acute torture and superpower incapacitation are the same only in the very reductive way in which any two bad things are, given a monistic meta-ethics, bad for 'the same reason.' Sexual assault and poor dinner etiquette, if (monistically) bad, are bad for 'the same reason' in some attenuated sense. But for practical purposes this is not very informative, and I was trying to be at least a little practical in comparing the costs of torture and incapacitation.

Likewise, superpower incapacitation can be worse than torture mostly in the sense that any two generic acts can be dustspecked. This falls out of quantitative sensitivity in ethics (especially consequentialist ethics) as a boring side-effect, just as reducibility of reasons falls out of monism as a boring side-effect. In both cases, it has no special relevance to the topic at hand, and noting these general features of utilitarian tradeoffs doesn't prevent us from also noting that typical real-world torture tends to produce more net suffering than typical real-world superpower incapacitation. (To make magic loss a counterexample to this trend, one would need to better flesh out what one takes magic to be.)

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T17:37:56.353Z · score: 0 (12 votes) · LW · GW

similar to how the 'tough on crime' cycle is accelerated by the for-profit prison system in America.

Beware political examples where they are not necessary.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-18T22:57:20.717Z · score: 24 (24 votes) · LW · GW

Azkaban is commentary on Muggle prisons. I really hope people got that.

comment by BenLowell · 2012-04-19T01:46:30.475Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I've been reading about muggle prison conditions lately, and while I've understood that "prison conditions are terrible and torturing people is pointless etc" for both systems, it did not occur to me that you were making a commentary.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-19T00:12:00.964Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

In general, how does one determine whether X in HPMOR is supposed to [represent / be commentary on] Y? I could make up a connection between Azkaban and Muggle prisons, probably by running it through my black-box mental model of Eliezer, but I don't feel any kind of justified in the connection.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-19T00:14:44.261Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

In general, how does one determine whether X in HPMOR is supposed to [represent / be commentary on] Y?

Usually it more or less outright says it in the title.

comment by syzygy · 2012-05-15T07:11:12.013Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Congratulations, you have just discovered the difference between art and design. If Azkaban had been designed to be a commentary on muggle prisons, the connection would have had to have been made explicit within the text. The fact that Eliezer pointed out the connection does not mean he consciously tried to make it explicit in the text. Since the connection is implicit rather than explicit, the commentary is an artistic interpretation of the text. You don't need to feel justified in an artistic interpretation.

comment by thomblake · 2012-05-15T13:52:25.166Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think your distinction carves reality, or language, at the joints.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-19T20:32:52.220Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It actually made me sit and think for a minute (though not the full five - oops) about whether there was any way I could contribute to improving conditions in prisons, that was comparatively low-cost, that I had overlooked.

I didn't think of one, but it's worth thinking about some more, probably.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-19T13:19:46.009Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It seems much more like a commentary on the American prison system than anything else. The Western European systems don't generally suffer many of the problems of American Muggle prisons, or the problems they do share are often to a smaller degree. Britain is one of the middle range countries in this regard, but this may be enough for some people to not get the point.

comment by komponisto · 2012-04-19T18:41:42.092Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

While American prisons may indeed be worse (on average) than their Western European counterparts, the latter are still more than bad enough for the commentary to apply.

In any case, most of the suffering of imprisonment is psychological and derives from having one's freedom restricted and status reduced (to put it mildly). So the (physical) conditions of the facility may be almost beside the point (despite the fact that this is what it is most socially acceptable to focus on).

comment by orthonormal · 2012-04-20T15:06:44.002Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

So the (physical) conditions of the facility may be almost beside the point (despite the fact that this is what it is most socially acceptable to focus on).

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that massive institutionalized rape is not beside the point.

comment by komponisto · 2012-04-20T15:50:34.981Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Ahem:

So the (physical) conditions of the facility may be almost beside the point (despite the fact that this is what it is most socially acceptable to focus on).

...not to mention the fact that the behavior of persons is arguably not within the scope of "the (physical) conditions of the facility".

In short, the comment contained more than enough hedging to preclude such a retort.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-20T16:07:52.250Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

In short, the comment contained more than enough hedging to preclude such a retort.

Even if it did, orthonormal's point contains a significant subclass of the suffering that occurs in prisons. Hence ignoring it or sweeping it under a hedge seems somewhat strange.

comment by komponisto · 2012-04-20T17:04:13.866Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Let's back up. Here is the history of this conversation:

  1. Eliezer stated that "Azkaban is commentary on Muggle prisons".

  2. JoshuaZ replied:

It seems much more like a commentary on the American prison system than anything else. The Western European systems don't generally suffer many of the problems of American Muggle prisons, or the problems they do share are often to a smaller degree. Britain is one of the middle range countries in this regard, but this may be enough for some people to not get the point.

Notice what this says: Western European prisons are so good that Eliezer's commentary is really only about American prisons. (Also note the implication that the Muggle world is partitioned into two regions: Western Europe and the United States.)

3. I -- having become familiar with the similarities and differences between the U.S. and European criminal justice systems as a result of the Amanda Knox case -- disputed this, in a comment whose point was to argue that Western European prisons are not pleasant places. They are, in fact, really awful places. Yes, they may not be as bad as U.S. prisons, but they are still bad: places of torment, suffering and despair, despite the fact that the facilities may be a little nicer. They are bad enough that the Azkaban metaphor applies. (And U.S. prisons are nowhere near as bad as those in other, non-Western-European parts of the world -- so was Eliezer's commentary "only" or "mostly" about China, Iran, or North Korea, and not really about the American justice system at all? Of course not.)

Furthermore, at the time he was writing the Azkaban-rescue sequence, Eliezer knew that Amanda Knox -- then trapped in a Western European prison -- was among his readers. This is just one of many reasons why it simply isn't plausible that the commentary was meant to be geographically (and thus, in effect, politically) limited to the United States.

4. Some people (bizarrely) downvoted my comment and attempted to educate me about the evils of United States prisons, as if I were unfamiliar with the subject. This is completely missing the point. My comment argued that European prisons are bad, not that American prisons are good. My point was that the fact that European prisons have (for example) bidets does not make them spas. I did take a slightly "extreme" line -- that the real torment of incarceration is psychological. But this is not actually an absurd position by any means. I expect that relatively few who have actually been incarcerated would disagree -- even among those who had been imprisoned in terrible physical conditions. For one thing, such treatment often has a specifically psychological purpose.

The two "sides" in this argument are: people who think the Azkaban metaphor applies universally (me), and people who think its scope is restricted to the United States (JoshuaZ). Everything I have said in this thread should be understood in that context. In no sense am I downplaying any bad aspect of American prisons. To "correct" me on such a point is to increase the noise and decrease the signal.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-20T18:40:15.405Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is not a case of me not reading the previous thread before commenting.

It seems much more like a commentary on the American prison system than anything else. The Western European systems don't generally suffer many of the problems of American Muggle prisons, or the problems they do share are often to a smaller degree. Britain is one of the middle range countries in this regard, but this may be enough for some people to not get the point.

Notice what this says: Western European prisons are so good that Eliezer's commentary is really only about American prisons. (Also note the implication that the Muggle world is partitioned into two regions: Western Europe and the United States.)

In my opinion, you're reading too much into the original comment. There are fewer Western Europeans in prison than Americans. Aside: their "Western Europe" is much larger than the traditional one, which already has a higher population than the United States, and so we can also say there are fewer prisoners per capita in Europe than the United States.

It'd be surprising if American prisons didn't tend to have more problems.

For all narrative purposes, the only regions of the Muggle world that significantly matter to the story are Europe and the United States, so your aside seems a misplaced criticism.

I more or less agree with your assessment of the metaphor, but there is no purpose to letting a poorly-grounded argument carry through just because one agrees with the conclusion.

To "correct" me on such a point is to increase the noise and decrease the signal.

Aye, but pray, where was the signal in the first place?

comment by orthonormal · 2012-04-20T18:27:28.250Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's not under the scope of "having one's freedom restricted and status reduced", either. Sorry if I misinterpreted you, but it looks as if I'm not the only one who thought you were omitting the most significant part of the horror of modern prisons.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-21T01:33:03.984Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

What specific commentary were you trying to make? The possible commentaries that I can think of:

a) prisons are too brutal. If so how brutal do you think prisons should be?

b) prisons should be replaced with a different form of punishment. If so what punishment do you have in mind?

c) criminals shouldn't be punished at all.

d) I haven't really thought about these issues at all but saying "boo, prisons!" is a great way to signal that I'm compassionate.

The people who seem to agree with Eliezer's commentary should feel free to specify which commentary they agree with.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-21T01:44:01.342Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Here's one more option:
e) People don't think enough about the level of brutality in prisons, and when they do think and talk about it they find it easier to applaud brutality; because anyone who spoke against it "would associate themselves with criminals, with weakness, with distasteful things that people would rather not think about", while speaking in its favor make you look tough on crime.

Given political discussions I've partaken in other forums, I know full well that whenever I condemned prison rape and suggested ways in which it might be reduced/prevented, the typical response was something to the effect of "Why do you love criminals so much?"

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-21T03:33:58.812Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Given political discussions I've partaken in other forums, I know full well that whenever I condemned prison rape and suggested ways in which it might be reduced/prevented,

For example: Punish rapes among inmates in the same manner that other rapes of citizens by other citizens. Punish rapes of inmates by wardens in the same way with the additional loading that should be applied to all abuses of authority, particularly state sanctioned authority. But to do that we would need to replace Uncle Sam with Uncle Ben.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-21T04:40:52.512Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Punish rapes among inmates in the same manner that other rapes of citizens by other citizens.

That would be by sending them to prison, which is not much of a punishment to someone who's already in prison.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-21T05:19:43.476Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That would be by sending them to prison, which is not much of a punishment to someone who's already in prison.

Yes it is. Not all sentences are life sentences. Then there are the obvious differences in types of imprisonment - including level of security and whether they have access to other prisoners or are confined to solitary.

comment by Strange7 · 2012-06-23T21:55:45.730Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not all, but entirely too many. If someone is already going to be in a big concrete box for the next ten years no matter what they do, and doesn't expect to survive more than five years in that environment, what more can you do to them?

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-26T23:32:04.238Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Put them in a smaller concrete box and with other prisoners that lower that estimate of their lifespan?

comment by Strange7 · 2012-06-27T15:23:08.686Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Assume they're already in the worst box that various legislation (mostly related to human rights) permits you to construct, or the closest cost-effective approximation thereof.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-27T16:35:53.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At that point, if they are not already, they should be put into solitary. Some would consider it reward, but if they prey on others, then they should be put somewhere that they can't--that's (ostensibly) why they're there in the first place, at least in part.

comment by ygert · 2012-05-25T13:50:16.991Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Locking criminals up for years, away from everyone else, seems like a horrible way of scaring others into not committing crimes.

Following this train of thought, ideally prisons should be replaced with a more public/visible type of punishment. Maybe caning?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-05-25T14:56:10.068Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I dunno. In the real world, I know a lot of people who seem awfully frightened of prisons. But sure, maybe they'd be more frightened of public caning.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-21T02:20:48.554Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

and when they do think and talk about it they find it easier to applaud brutality

Well, being brutal is directly connected to a prison's ability to serve its function.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-21T02:54:32.567Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The stated function of a prison is to imprison (i.e. detain). If the function of the prison was to get people physically hurt, then the state would have official torturers to brutalize people to such exact specifications as their convictions by the courts (e.g. official sentences would state things like "ten years in prison, plus three beatings and one anal rape per month", and the state would hire official rapists for the purpose).

If brutality was supposed to be part of a prison's specification, then we would have the responsibility of quantifying how much brutality is deserved for each crime. (the question you asked "How brutal should they be?" doesn't only work for people criticizing their current brutality, but also for the people who support it, you see)

But the delegation of this task randomly to convicts speaks of the same hypocrisy that Quirrel mocks in the chapters in question.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-04-21T04:01:04.132Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The stated function of a prison is to imprison (i.e. detain).

There are several functions commonly ascribed to prisons, including:

  • Detention: to prevent people with criminal tendencies from having the opportunity to commit crimes against the general public, by physically separating them from the public.
  • Deterrence: to deprive criminals of the pleasures of normal society, in order to discourage other people from becoming criminals. If you would like to live with your partner, children, and friends in relative comfort instead of with a cellmate in relative discomfort, you have a motivation for staying out of prison.
  • Rehabilitation: to cure criminals of tendencies that may lead them to commit crimes; for instance, lack of cultural or moral education, or lack of non-criminal job skills. This is given as a reason for prisons to offer classes, job training, etc.
  • Penitence: to put criminals in an isolating environment where they will reflect on their crimes and regret them — or a panoptic environment in which they will internalize the conduct standards of the authorities.

(I'm not disagreeing with you on the badness of prison brutality; just on the "stated function" claim.)

comment by TimS · 2012-04-21T02:32:16.972Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's not exactly an undisputed assertion.

Penitentiaries were name for the theory that prisoners should be penitent. More generally, rehabilitation is often a purpose of imprisonment.

It's a factor for every US federal judge to consider when deciding what sentence to impose. In fairness, 3553(a) authorizes a judge to consider just about anything - it's totally agnostic as to the appropriate theory of punishment.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-21T03:19:13.954Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's not exactly an undisputed assertion.

True, but neither is the theory of evolution. ;)

When it comes down to it, the purpose of prisons is to reduce crime. The two main methods by which they accomplish this are being sufficiently nasty to deter would be criminals, and keeping the people who fail to be deterred confined so they can't victimize law-abiding citizens.

Rehabilitation mostly exists so that (some of the) people doing the locking up can signal their compassion by supporting it.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-21T03:29:58.390Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

the purpose of prisons is to reduce crime.

Rapes, murders, and beatings in prison are also supposed to be crimes, no?

The two main methods by which they accomplish this are being sufficiently nasty to deter would be criminals,

At this point you're surely using the same argument that would be used to justify Dementors in Azkaban -- it makes Azkaban nastier: hence it serves as deterrent.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-21T04:43:41.446Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At this point you're surely using the same argument that would be used to justify Dementors in Azkaban -- it makes Azkaban nastier: hence it serves as deterrent.

And I've yet to hear a good counterargument.

comment by Swimmy · 2012-04-21T10:20:30.037Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

If your argument is simply "brutality acts as a deterrent," it's almost certainly true. If your argument is, "Therefore the current level of prison brutality is optimal," or, "we should be happy with prison brutality," the only counterargument needed is that nobody's provided any evidence at all for those positions.

But if either of those is the assertion, here are some counterarguments: 1) There is a countereffect: longer (and therefore more brutal) prison sentences increase rates of recidivism. 2) Flogging and caning are brutal deterrents. Many (most?) people will take a punishment of flogging over a punishment of a long prison sentence when given the choice. Ergo at least for many, prisons are more brutal than literal torture. 3) From a cursory glance at stats, violent crime rates don't seem to be much lower in countries with higher incidences of prison rape or prison hospitalizations. I would like to see some rigorous analysis on this. 4) Violent crime rates don't seem to be much higher in countries that employ flogging or caning. Again, not a rigorous statistical analysis, but weak evidence nonetheless. 5) Let's not forget that we're trying to minimize violent crime, and prison brutality is just the perpetration of violent crime while in prison. Prisoners are people too, and many of them are innocent or overcharged. Determining optimal brutality levels will take this into account. 6) And of course I shouldn't even have to say that a large number of people undergoing the brutality of prison are completely innocent of hurting anybody at all; they are only guilty of crimes that shouldn't be crimes.

I don't think there's any evidence at all that the brutality levels in western prisons are optimal. But are they a deterrent? Yeah, sure. And the death penalty is a deterrent of shoplifting. What's the relevance to the actual debate of prison brutality? That people who applaud prison brutality have a point? Not any more than advocates of the death penalty for shoplifting do.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-23T01:51:41.952Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My point that the merely pointing out that prisons are brutal is not enough to argue that they should be made less brutal.

comment by Swimmy · 2012-04-23T02:10:41.406Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In that case you are completely correct! But I think the counteropinion generally being expressed here, if not clearly, is that prisons are extremely brutal.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-23T02:28:20.291Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But I think the counteropinion generally being expressed here, if not clearly, is that prisons are extremely brutal.

My point is basically "so what?", i.e., they're missing part of their argument.

Also, extremely brutal compared to what? As ArisKatsaris pointed out in several places in this thread the most dangerous thing prisoners have to fear in modern prisons is their fellow prisoners.

comment by Incorrect · 2012-04-21T05:25:54.673Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Hurting people is bad.

comment by asr · 2012-04-21T05:34:53.853Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There's an argument (first advanced by Beccaria in the late 18th century) that it matters more that punishment be swift and certain, than that it be harsh. If people don't really believe a punishment is likely to happen to them, it won't deter reliably. Human cognitive biases being what they are, we might be better served trying to make punishment visible, rather than horrifying. Azkaban, being remote and unpleasant to think about, is perhaps less effective than some punishment that would be constantly in sight. Having the convicted criminal's wand broken. say.

Beccaria puts it much better than I could, so I'll just refer you to his essay on the topic: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/An_Essay_on_Crimes_and_Punishments/Chapter_XXVII

In a society with veritaserum, legilimency and assorted other magic you'd think it would be straightforward to establish guilt or innocence in the vast majority of cases.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-21T05:52:20.460Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In a society with veritaserum, legilimency and assorted other magic you'd think it would be straightforward to establish guilt or innocence in the vast majority of cases.

Of course, said society also has occlumency and memory charms.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-21T08:28:05.315Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

And I've yet to hear a good counterargument.

It's not as if you've stated the exact position you want a counterargument to: Is it "the more brutal the better"?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-23T02:05:58.175Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My point is that with prisons, the more brutal, the more effective. Yes, there are tradeoffs to consider. I actually agree with your statement here that the justice system would work better if people were willing to admit its main purpose was deterrent, secondarily detention, and not implicitly delegate the brutality part to other convicts so they can wipe their hands of it.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-21T18:16:59.026Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My $0.02: there are several different functions person A can perform by punishing person B for some action C.

For example:
(a) lowering B's chances of performing C in the future
(b) lowering the chances of observers performing C
(c) encouraging observers to anti-identify with B
(d) encouraging observers who anti-identify with B to support A
(e) encouraging observers who identify with B to oppose A

IME, conversations about how prisons should work become really confused because people aren't very clear about which of those functions they endorse.

Personally, it seems clear to me that (b) is by far the most valuable of these goals. That said, prison policy has almost no influence on (b); law enforcement and courts are far more relevant, and their current implementation pretty much screens off the effects of prison policy.

People who are interested in (a) and also value B's continued existence will tend to be interested in punishment as a behavioral modification tool, and will happily set it aside in favor of more effective behavioral modification tools as science develops them.

People interested in (a) who don't value B's continued existence will be uninterested in punishment, since simply killing B is more efficient.

AFAICT, the folks who establish the policies that govern prisoner punishment (as distinct from prisoner restraint) are primarily motivated by the desire to obtain political support, which suggests minimizing (e) and maximizing (d), which does seem to be what most of our prison policies are designed to do. Maximizing (c) is one way to minimize (e), though there are many others.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-23T01:15:02.817Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Personally, it seems clear to me that (b) is by far the most valuable of these goals. That said, prison policy has almost no influence on (b); law enforcement and courts are far more relevant, and their current implementation pretty much screens off the effects of prison policy.

This isn't obvious at all. In particular if prisons were extremely nice, their deterrent effect would be much less no matter how law enforcement and the courts worked. One could argue that the policies in the current Overton window aren't significantly different from each other, but that argument would have to be made.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-23T01:52:46.073Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed that if prisons were extremely nice, their deterrent effect due to the threat of punishment would be lower than it is now.

That said... when the mechanism that results in my being punished for an act is perceived as unreliable and capricious (including, but not limited to, cases where it is unreliable and capricious), the correlation between the severity of the punishment and the intensity of the deterrent effect is much, much lower than when the mechanism is perceived as fair and reliable.

So if law enforcement and courts were perceived as fair and reliable (that is, reliably assigning punishment to criminals and not assigning punishment to noncriminals), I expect making prisons equally unpleasant would create a much greater deterrent effect (to being a criminal) than it does now.

If my goal is to maximize deterrent effect, then, I expect that I would do better to invest my efforts in increasing the perception of law enforcement and courts as fair and reliable than to invest them in increasing the perception of prisons as unpleasant.

But, as I say, I don't think many people involved in setting prison policies are primarily motivated by maximizing deterrent effect.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-23T02:18:09.952Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That said... when the mechanism that results in my being punished for an act is perceived as unreliable and capricious (including, but not limited to, cases where it is unreliable and capricious), the correlation between the severity of the punishment and the intensity of the deterrent effect is much, much lower than when the mechanism is perceived as fair and reliable.

Depending on what you mean by "unreliable and capricious", I find this dubious. At the very least it seems to me that brutal dictatorships are much better at reducing crime (at least the crimes they care about) than democracies. For example, Mussolini's successful campaign against the Sicilian mafia.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-23T02:41:50.106Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What I mean by enforcement being unreliable and capricious is, roughly. that agents believe that their performing the act is not well-correlated with their being punished.

It sounds from that wiki article like Mussolini created an environment where people believed that being a mafioso would reliably result in being punished.

I suspect they also believed that not being a mafioso stood a good chance of being punished, which has other consequences; when punishment occurs in the absence of a reliable and controllable cue, the result is learned helplessness. But if we care about deterring criminals and we don't care about the effect on noncriminals, punishing 90% of criminals and 5% of noncriminals can work OK, even if only 5% of the people we punish are criminals.

Of course, if we care about things in addition to deterrence, that may not be a great policy, but that's another conversation.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-24T04:21:05.509Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What I mean by enforcement being unreliable and capricious is, roughly. that agents believe that their performing the act is not well-correlated with their being punished.

So what you're saying is that in modern developed states committing crimes is not well-correlated with being punished? I find this highly dubious.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-24T04:38:12.475Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

At the very least, I'm saying that that's the perception: most crimes go unpunished.
But yes, I also suspect that perception is true. I haven't done any research on the matter, though, and attempts to find statistics via cursory Googling failed.
If you have any cites handy, I'm happy to be corrected.

comment by asr · 2012-04-25T06:41:07.540Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Eugine said:

committing crimes is not well-correlated with being punished? I find this highly dubious.

TheOtherDave said:

the perception [is] most crimes go unpunished.

These aren't actually in contradiction. If a criminal committing a "mid-size" offense has a 25% chance of being caught for each crime, then being a career criminal is likely to end you in jail, but most crimes will still be unpunished.

My sense is that most crimes (and most dollar-loss to crime) are small/midsize thefts; hundreds or thousands of dollars, not more. Thefts big enough to set you up for a lifetime are freakishly rare compared to the number of criminals. And that means to have a tolerable lifestyle as a criminal, you have to commit lots of offenses -- so even a small chance of being caught for each mugging or burglary starts to add up.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-25T12:44:31.484Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I agree with this. I'd be surprised if the chance was as high as .25, but the principle is the same; career criminals can count on eventually being arrested.

That said, the original context of this discussion was the behavior-modification effects of prison policy on the not-yet-arrested population, and from a behavior modification point of view a punishment that usually fails to kick in for the first several crimes doesn't do much to deter those first few crimes.

And making the punishment more and more severe doesn't help the deterrence factor all that much in that situation, which was my original point.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-26T05:03:21.997Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

and from a behavior modification point of view a punishment that usually fails to kick in for the first several crimes doesn't do much to deter those first few crimes.

Disagree. It deters the first crime. It's deterrent power will decrease for subsequent crimes (until caught) unless the criminal has friends who have been caught.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-26T13:18:38.619Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you say more about the mechanism whereby increasing the severity of a punishment I am confident won't apply to my first crime deters my first crime? That seems pretty implausible to me.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T15:02:54.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If committing a crime required playing Russian Roulette, a gun with a bullet in it would be more of a deterrent than a gun with a paintball in it. Yes?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-26T17:06:58.570Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The law-enforcement/courts system has significantly better first-time odds than Russian Roulette. For most crimes, the odds that I will be arrested and convicted and sentenced to significant jail time for a first crime are significantly lower than one in six.

"But Dave," someone will now patiently explain to me, "that doesn't matter. An N% chance of death is always going to be significantly worse than an N% chance of a paintball in the head, no matter how low N%. It's scale-invariant!"

Except the decision to ignore the psychological effects of scale is precisely what I'm skeptical about here. Sure, if I make prisons bad enough (supposing I can do so), then everyone rational does an EV calculation and concludes that even a miniscule chance of going to prison is more disutility than the opportunity cost of foregoing a crime.

But I don't think that's what most people reliably do faced with small probabilities of large disutilities. Some people, faced with that situation, look at the magnitude of the disutility and ignore the probability ("Sure it's unlikely, but if it happened it would be really awful, so let's not take the risk!"). Some people look at the magnitude of the probability and ignore the disutility ("Sure, it would be awful, but it's not going to happen, so who cares?").

Very few look at the EV.

That said, if we restrict our domain of discourse to potential criminals who do perform EV calculations (which I think is a silly thing to do in the real world, but leaving that aside for now), then I agree that doubling the expected disutility-of-punishment (e.g., making prisons twice as unpleasant) halves their chance of performing the crime.

Of course, so does doubling the expected chance of being punished in the first place .

That is, if I start out with a P1 confidence that I will be arrested and convicted for commiting a crime, a P2 confidence that if convicted I will receive significant prison time, and a >.99 confidence that the disutility of significant prison time is D1, and you want to double my expected disutility of commiting that crime, you can double P1, or P2, or D1, or mix-and-match.

So a system primarily interested in maximizing deterrent effect among rational EV calculators asks which of those strategies gets the largest increase in expected disutility for a given cost.

It's not at all clear to me that in the U.S. today, doubling D1 is the most cost-effective way to do that if I consider decreasing the QALYs of prison inmates to be a cost. So if someone insists on doubling D1, I infer that either...:
...(a) they value the QALYs of prison inmates less than I do, or
...(b) they have some reason to believe that doubling D1 is the most cost-effective way of buying deterrence, or
...(c) they aren't exclusively interested in deterrence, or
...(d) something else I haven't thought of.

In practice I usually assume some combination of (a) and (c), but I considered (b) potentially interesting enough to be worth exploring the question. At this point, though, my confidence that I can explore (b) in this conversation in an interesting way is low.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T17:34:39.698Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Some people look at the magnitude of the probability and ignore the disutility ("Sure, it would be awful, but it's not going to happen, so who cares?").

It seems rather difficult to actually affect those people, though. The difference between P1=.04 and P1=.08 would have dramatic effects on an EV-calculator, but very little effect on the sort of person who judges probabilities by 'feel'.

That is, if I start out with a P1 confidence that I will be arrested and convicted for commiting a crime, a P2 confidence that if convicted I will receive significant prison time, and a >.99 confidence that the disutility of significant prison time is D1, and you want to double my expected disutility of commiting that crime, you can double P1, or P2, or D1, or mix-and-match.

I would suppose the D1 advocates would argue that the hidden costs of increasing P1 are higher than you think, or possibly they just value them more (e.g. the right to privacy). I admit I've never heard a good argument that what the US needs is to greatly increase the likelihood of sentencing a convict to significant prison time.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-26T17:58:00.982Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The difference between P1=.04 and P1=.08 would have dramatic effects on an EV-calculator, but very little effect on the sort of person who judges probabilities by 'feel'.

I would expect it depends a lot on the algorithms underlying "feel" and what aspects of the environment they depend on. It's unlikely these people are choosing their behaviors or beliefs at random, after all.

More generally, if I actually want to manipulate the behavior of a group, I should expect that a good first step is to understand how their behavior depends on aspects of their environment, since often their environment is what I can actually manipulate.

Edit: I should add to this that I certainly agree that it's possible in principle for a system to be in a state where the most cost-effective thing to do to achieve deterrence is increase D. I just don't think it's necessarily true, and am skeptical that the U.S. is currently in such a state.

the hidden costs of increasing P1 are higher than you think

Sure, that's another possibility. Or of P2, come to that.

I admit I've never heard a good argument that what the US needs is to greatly increase the likelihood of sentencing a convict to significant prison time.

Is this not the rationale behind mandatory sentencing laws?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T21:27:26.369Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I admit I've never heard a good argument that what the US needs is to greatly increase the likelihood of sentencing a convict to significant prison time.

Is this not the rationale behind mandatory sentencing laws?

I can't think of a response to this that isn't threatening to devolve into a political argument, so I'll bow out here. Sorry.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-25T05:21:04.697Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At the very least, I'm saying that that's the perception: most crimes go unpunished. But yes, I also suspect that perception is true. I haven't done any research on the matter, though, and attempts to find statistics via cursory Googling failed. If you have any cites handy, I'm happy to be corrected.

In that case, why aren't you stealing money and donating to SIAI? ;)

But seriously, there are countries where your comment is actually true. You can tell the difference pretty easily.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-04-25T05:37:35.759Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

To be honest, I'm not convinced that it isn't true even in first-world countries. Solve rates for murders in the US appear to be around 66% as of 2007. I haven't directly been able to dig up solve rates for crimes in general, but clearance rates (the rate of crimes prosecuted to crimes reported) are available, and are well under 50% for pretty much everything except murder. Most prosecuted crimes appear to result in convictions, but this still says to me that TheOtherDave's got it right, at least in a US context and assuming that most reports aren't frivolous.

YMMV for other nations.

ETA: Looking over these statistics again, I strongly suspect that the "solve" figures you find in various places are in fact identical to the clearance rates I refer to. So the reports-to-convictions ratio would be significantly lower -- compare conviction rates for cases brought to court.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-25T12:39:10.382Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I infer that your intuitions differ from mine but you don't have any cites handy either.
Fair enough.
Updated, to a degree proportional to my confidence in the reliability of your intuition on this matter, in your direction.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-20T02:39:07.905Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I thought it was a nice commentary, but I hadn't realized it was intentional (on either your or Rowling's part). If you want anyone to get it, you need to slip in anal rape or something, and even then most readers will miss it.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-04-20T11:15:41.637Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

IAWYC but don't actually make it a rape.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-05-10T14:35:57.969Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think the "anal rape" was a joke on Gwern's part; I oppose such jokes on political grounds.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-05-10T14:57:08.204Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you oppose jokes involving rape because of social consequences of rape being found to be funny, jokes involving rape because of direct consequences on people hearing the joke, jokes about prison rape because of consequences of prisoners, or something else?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-05-10T14:59:17.599Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

All three of those, and I could probably think of other adverse consequences given time.

comment by gwern · 2012-05-10T14:56:10.542Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was quite serious. And why not? Murder is worse than anal rape, and that has already been included; besides that, people have argued we see at least one kind of rape already in MoR.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-20T03:36:59.188Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Especially those of us who deliberately try to avoid drawing conclusions about authorial intent from text. Whether the author is trying to make an analogical point with a fictional construct is not something I think about too much while reading fiction, though of course correspondences I notice (intentional or not) inform my reading.

comment by komponisto · 2012-04-19T02:07:07.125Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

By the way, I believe the rescue of Bellatrix was around the point in the story that Amanda Knox had gotten to when she made it out of Muggle Azkaban herself.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-20T02:38:05.010Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Really? I understood from the human interest fluff pieces I tried to avoid that she had used her time in Azkaban very well, learning Italian to a high level and catching up on a great deal of high-quality reading. I don't think Bellatrix would regard their stays, pound for pound, as equivalent.

comment by komponisto · 2012-04-20T08:42:09.419Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think you misunderstood me: by "point in the story she had gotten to" I meant literally the point in the actual story (MoR). It wasn't some kind of figure of speech about her experience. (I wonder how many other people misunderstood my comment in this way; it's an interpretation that never occurred to me. I thought people knew she was a MoR reader.)

However, her experience itself was no picnic, fluff pieces notwithstanding.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-20T15:27:39.776Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I thought people knew she was a MoR reader.

It's been mentioned in Author's Notes. For what it's worth, I thought gwern's comment was a non sequitur on first reading.

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-20T14:25:59.394Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought people knew she was a MoR reader.

I took your original post to mean this, and looked for other information about it, and found none.

comment by komponisto · 2012-04-20T16:11:40.011Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

See here.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-19T13:09:20.343Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, but due to the politics is a mind-killer thing, we don't really comment on it... just like a lot of other political hints are left alone (at least on my behalf) and I try to focus on making predictions and figuring out where the agents in this story will go given their apparent rationality (or lack thereof) and value sets. That's the reason why I read this: it's well-written entertainment I can use to train my ability to predict and phrase said predictions. Plus I like to see theories put to practice.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-18T18:03:52.713Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't aware that was a particularly politically charged example since it's not currently on either side's discussion plate.

I do think it's somewhat relevant with them both being profit motivations that encourage increasingly stricter laws and enforcement. Then again if I'd been able to notice the problem I wouldn't have put it in there in the first place.

Taking your advice, do you think I should edit it out and remove the example? Or better yet, could anyone think of an example that's not so politically proximate that illustrates the same effect? I'd image a similar thing would occur in ancient Rome with slaves, or maybe colonial-era governments with indentured servitude, but I'm not quite as familiar with those.

Edit: And thank you for reminding me, I've edited.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T18:08:59.041Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure "tough on crime" is associated with the "right wing".

That said, it might seem better if you just left out "in America", or replaced it with "in some places".

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-04-18T20:43:22.334Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps there are dark rituals whereby using them, Dark Wizards can break out of even an (ill-named) Unbreakable Vow.

Well, they can die. I've seen nothing to suggest that Vows destroy Horcruxes.

comment by culdraug · 2012-04-19T00:51:50.979Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if this fact is possibly relevant to some Cunning Plot in which - perhaps just as one among many positive results - Voldemort "died" and resurrected via horcrux in order to escape an Unbreakable Vow. I remember in response to chapter 84, people were wondering what, if Voldie's apparent death at Godric's Hollow was intentional, was in it for him.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-18T23:52:21.378Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But will they come back free of the Vow? It seems entirely plausible to me that it would follow them into their new incarnation.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-04-19T11:14:49.122Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

They could still break it once per incarnation.

comment by wirov · 2012-04-20T13:20:07.736Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

… thus killing one human per incarnation, thus creating one horcrux per incarnation.

Now, if there were some way to automate the whole getting-a-body-business …

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-04-20T01:34:14.364Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not in the specifications. They just say, 'anyone who breaks the Vow dies.' Ending with death is a feature.

Though if the people who first found the spell really thought that way, they must not have truly believed anyone could stay in their world after death.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-18T18:31:28.724Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

I don't think it would be that easy. This is isomorphic to making wishes with an evil genie--or coding a human-level AI with a list of deontological commands. It could be done, but probably not in an EY fanfic and probably not without a skilled magical lawyer.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-18T19:38:46.738Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The difference is that evil wizards are not, as a rule, a different intellectual order than we are. We have some idea of their set of options. Not so for a powerful AI. A dark lord is at least somewhat bounded by the human imagination.

comment by gmaxwell · 2012-04-18T21:33:42.642Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

are not, as a rule, a different intellectual order than we are

Yes they are— in the sense that they will have decades to spend ruminating on workarounds, experimenting, consulting with others. And when they find a solution the result is potentially an easily transmitted whole class compromise that frees them all at once.

Decades of dedicated human time, teams of humans, etc. are all forms of super-humanity. If you demanded that the same man hours be spent drafting the language as would be spent under its rule, then I'd agree that there was no differential advantage, but then it would be quite a challenge to write the rule.

comment by Lavode · 2012-04-18T22:03:52.111Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

also, unlike the case of an AI where you have to avoid crippling it, lest it becomes pointless to build it in the first place, using unbreakable wows as a punishment for grand crimes against humanity means that the restraints can be nearly abritarily harsh. The people writing the wows have no need to preserve the decision space they leave their victim or respect their autonomy. TLDR: Voldemort would not be able to spend decades thinking of ways around the wow, because doing so would violate any sensibly formulated wow. (stray toughts, sure, you have to permit that, or the wow kills in a day. Sitting down and working at it? No.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-18T21:48:20.620Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Decades of dedicated human time, teams of humans, etc. are all forms of super-humanity.

Only in an extremely weak sense. Humans can do and think things that cats just can't, even if they think for a long, long time, or have a bunch of cats working together. The power of a truly superhuman intellect is hard to imagine, and easily underestimated.

In any case, the drafter of the rules would have an enormous comparative advantage, because he can unilaterally enforce dictates on the other party, while the other party has no such authority. It's not guaranteed he'll cover all the angles within the human domain, but it's at least possible, unlike in the case of an AI, where such a strategy is basically guaranteed to fail.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T13:00:16.162Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, after thinking a few minutes about the Batman-Joker/where do you put Dark Wizards if you're determined not to use Dementors anymore problem...

Kill them. With great power comes great getting-held-responsible-if-necessary.

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

Oh, no, this is much better. Magical evilness castration.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-04-18T21:51:37.495Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I thought Dumbeldore said that he found a way to imprison Grindelwald without dementors but I can't find were he says that. edit fixed major spelling error can->can't

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-18T22:01:14.917Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

"Are there Dementors in Nurmengard?"

"What?" said the old wizard. "No! I would not have done that even to him -"

The old wizard stared at the young boy, who had straightened, and his face changed.

"In other words," the boy said, as though talking to himself without any other people in the room, "it's already known how to keep powerful Dark Wizards in prison, without using Dementors. People know they know that."

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-18T22:57:40.219Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That seems like a significant plot point. Do we know how that is done?

comment by moritz · 2012-04-19T08:33:31.657Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In canon it's definitively done.

But how?

I'm pretty sure that both canon and MoR are silent on how it's done, which is a real pity.

In canon there is a scene where Voldemort breaks into Nurmengard to ask Grindelwald where the Wand is, and then kills him. In a non-magical world I'd say that the fact that somebody can break in means that somebody can break out too, with help from the outside. Even if that's not the case in a magical world, it means that his followers could continue to communicate with him. Not good.

On the other hand there seems to be magic in canon that cannot be broken or circumvented, except for a very specific trigger. Think of the Fidelius charm, which hides a building from everybody, except those that the secret keeper has told the location. Or the potion in the cave that must be drunk, and cannot be vanished, transigured or otherwise "magiced". Maybe a similar kind of "absolute" magic exists that can be used to imprison people reliably. So reliably that no Auror need to stand guard, and are tortured with humming.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-19T10:20:19.104Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

the fact that somebody can break in means that somebody can break out too, with help from the outside

There is the issue of wands. Wandless magic is, at least for humans, much less powerful than wand magic. So it's perfectly conceivable to me to have obstacles that are virtually impossible to overpower if you're wandless, but possible to overpower if you're a wand and are a good wizard (which Voldemort surely is).

The "his followers could continue to communicate with him" is indeed a real problem. But it seems (both in canon and in MOR) Azkaban itself is not so hard to break from the outside, only (almost) impossible to escape from inside.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T00:31:12.383Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nope.

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-04-18T22:04:22.339Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore doesn't come right out and say it, but it's there in Chapter 77;

"In other words," the boy said, as though talking to himself without any other people in the room, "it's already known how to keep powerful Dark Wizards in prison, without using Dementors. People know they know that."

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-18T15:42:35.058Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

Wands as Oath Rods? I'm ok with this.

ETA: Apparently the relevant historical use is under binding rod. Same thing.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T13:05:32.702Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ugh, Unbreakable Vows seem something of a game breaker right now.

RE: the game breaker opening example: Iron vs bronze weapons is a game breaker? Hardly. The difference in weapon quality there is minor (and even arguable). Bronze vs Steel... sure, that's a big deal but even then not worthy of 'game breaker' accolades.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-19T01:25:27.195Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I believe the reason is that iron weapons are easier to make, hence you can field larger armies.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-20T07:10:23.743Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

IIRC, it’s not actually easier to make iron (you need higher temperatures), but the ore is more easy to obtain. Copper and tin ores are rarely found together, so you need long-range trading to make lots of bronze.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-19T01:37:08.428Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I believe the reason is that iron weapons are easier to make, hence you can field larger armies.

That roughly the same as my understanding of the advantage of basic iron vs bronze.

comment by Brickman · 2012-04-21T03:26:45.666Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I thought of a possible reason why they wouldn't do this. Basically, you've got two choices with the unbreakable vow ploy: Obtain a class of civil servants willing to give up their own magic to do the job (fat chance), or force the criminals to do it to each other. The natural answer is the latter right? Well yes, except the part where you have to hand a criminal whose crime was severe enough to warrant stripping some of his magic a wand and give him enough mental breathing room to perform a complicated, powerful ritual. Some of them are just gonna go along with it, sure, but you only gotta have one high-profile screwup before that kind of a policy is abolished.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-21T03:50:39.246Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The natural answer is the latter right? Well yes, except the part where you have to hand a criminal whose crime was severe enough to warrant stripping some of his magic a wand and give him enough mental breathing room to perform a complicated, powerful ritual. Some of them are just gonna go along with it, sure, but you only gotta have one high-profile screwup before that kind of a policy is abolished.

Or, you could think strategically for a few minutes then, for example, only give magic wands to wizards for this purpose after they have themselves sworn unbreakable vows that would prevent any misuse.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-06-02T05:32:02.732Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

In Ch. 7, the Harry-and-Draco conversation needs to be toned down even further because multiple parents have announced their intention to have their children read this fanfic – and I know that revision is going to be controversial, but Draco’s current conversation is also a little out-of-character by the standards of the Draco in later chapters.

I am very saddened by this. Chapter 7 was what really hooked me into the story. Half of it was Harry's incredible "This is why science ROCKS" speech, which is still one of my most favorite monologues ever. And half of it is the pure emotional shock of hearing an 11-year-old boy casually say he plans to rape a 10-year-old girl. It had an immediate physical effect on me, and the after-effects lingered for the rest of the day. The fact that it came so out of the blue in such an unexpected setting... it was damned effective. I will be very sad to see it go.

This raises a question for me - I know of at least one 11 year old reading this story. Sometimes kids read things above their grade level, and are exposed to concepts earlier than usual (I suspect that happened to almost everyone on LW). So... is HPMoR intended primarily for adult audiences, or for children? Considering the level of the writing, the many concepts that are probably too complex for most children, and the entirety of the Azkaban arc... isn't it fair to say that this is a work aimed at adults? And if so, should it really be diluted because some children will also get their hands on it? Can you imagine if your favorite dark/disturbing anime was trimmed to fit a PG rating because kids would end up seeing it?

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-06-02T08:36:16.653Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Strongly agree with this.

I have no problem with making Draco's character more consistent, and if Eliezer honestly feels that that should mean removing or altering his casual dehumanisation of peasants, so be it.

But I urge Eliezer to seriously ask himself, with all his strength as a rationalist, about this and any other changes: "Would this be sacrificing the quality of the narrative for the sake of making a very, very mature story superficially more marketable to children?"

And yes, I feel those apparently charged words are wholly appropriate: removing a rape reference is just a terribly superficial way of making the story 'kid-friendly', because it isn't kid-friendly in much, much deeper ways. If a kid isn't ready to know what 'rape' means, would you want him to read Chapter 82? Or the Bellatrix chapters? If anything the rape reference in Ch. 7 works as an excellent gatekeeper, filtering the audience before the really disturbing stuff begins to kick in.

comment by roystgnr · 2012-06-09T03:08:37.157Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Leading HPMoR's list of kid-unfriendly points: the question "what extenuating circumstances could make it right to torture an innocent person to death" is integral to the plot. Even if everything else that can be mangled into a toned-down version is so mangled, the result will merely be more artistically compromised, not more kid-friendly.

On the other hand, the definition of kid-friendly keeps changing. The Hunger Games trilogy includes (somewhat indirect, but still quite clear) references to prostitution (both in poverty-induced despair and as a result of human trafficking), as the cherry on top of the whole "children being forced to murder each other" plot line.

I would still suggest changing the rape reference for character consistency reasons. At least, Draco shouldn't think of it as "rape" - ISTR studies show that even real life rapists typically find some "she was asking for it" rationalization for their attitudes. MoR:Draco does an excellent job rationalizing pro-Death-eater attitudes later in the fic. A pro-rape rationalization might be different in that Harry ought to be able to see through something so appalling immediately, but from Draco's PoV there ought to be some self-justifying framing to it.

comment by 75th · 2012-06-07T03:23:35.949Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I agree, and will be more blunt: making that change strikes me as the kind of thing a conservative Republican Christian home-schooler parent would do to their children's books using Liquid Paper and an ink pen, rather than something that a rationalist — who understands that someday kids need to realize that the world sucks and human beings do awful things to each other — would do to his own story, which he has made abundantly clear is intended for adults.

Eliezer should simply advise those parents not to read the story to their children, unless they're absolutely certain that the children are ready for grown-up subject matter.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-02T08:39:27.125Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And yes, I feel those apparently charged words are wholly appropriate: removing a rape reference is just a terribly superficial way of making the story 'kid-friendly

I didn't think it was kids that that particular removal was trying to make the story more friendly to.

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-06-02T09:43:23.077Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In Ch. 7, the Harry-and-Draco conversation needs to be toned down even further because multiple parents have announced their intention to have their children read this fanfic – and I know that revision is going to be controversial, but Draco’s current conversation is also a little out-of-character by the standards of the Draco in later chapters.

This is an explicit statement that the concern about kids reading MoR is what is prompting the revision, with minor considerations about Draco's character being secondary.

comment by Merdinus · 2012-06-02T18:37:59.078Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Who did you think it was trying to make the story more friendly to?

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-06-14T17:06:50.413Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are people in the world who can have their whole day ruined by the mention of rape. It's why we have things like trigger-warnings.

comment by Merdinus · 2013-03-08T17:33:08.699Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Only just figured out my inbox =] at the time I wrote that, I was new to fanfic, and had literally never realized the negative effect rape-as-plot-device could have on some people. Just looked at the chapter on hpmor and noticed Eliezer didn't put a trigger warning, which I find surprising.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2012-12-18T19:30:45.806Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One thing is clear...hpmor's Harry probably wouldn't approve of toning things down in a story just because children might here it.

The danger of exposing children is that they might get into misguided ideas, or get damaged by the exposure. The average child has heard rape jokes, so they aren't going to be damaged reading about someone talking about rape. Keep in mind, in this story we hear about murder and graphic depictions of both fantasy and realistic torture...removing the rape line is not going to make this that much more child friendly.

Nor will they get misguided ideas from that line, since it is clear that those types of statements are not acceptable and are the hallmark of evil people.

Really, the only people benefiting from the removal are the parents, who don't have to worry about awkward questions.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T02:56:52.357Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

The introspective morality-dump chapters are not my favorites (eg. I find the 'imagine distant descendants' to be entirely useless intuitively, and would prefer versions of the update-now argument which are more like 'decide now how you would update your beliefs based on predictions you make now failing or succeeding, since once they actually fail or succeed you'll be embarrassed & biased'), but oh well let's begin analysis.

A year ago, Dad had gone to the Australian National University in Canberra for a conference where he'd been an invited speaker, and he'd taken Mum and Harry along. And they'd all visited the National Museum of Australia, because, it had turned out, there was basically nothing else to do in Canberra. The glass display cases had shown rock-throwers crafted by the Australian aborigines - like giant wooden shoehorns, they'd looked, but smoothed and carved and ornamented with the most painstaking care. In the 40,000 years since anatomically modern humans had migrated to Australia from Asia, nobody had invented the bow-and-arrow. It really made you appreciate how non-obvious was the idea of Progress. Why would you even think of Invention as something important, if all your history's heroic tales were of great warriors and defenders instead of Thomas Edison? How could anyone possibly have suspected, while carving a rock-thrower with painstaking care, that someday human beings would invent rocket ships and nuclear energy?

This is actually a pretty bad example. The Australians and New Guineans etc. were not necessarily incompetent (witness the boomerang, or the independent invention of the blow-gun), and specifically, throwing-sticks (atlatl) are really fearsome weapons which can throw darts or rocks insane distances more comparable to English longbows than anything else. Throwing sticks for spears were in military use in ancient Greece or Egypt, areas which always had bows-and-arrows.

A better example would be Tasmania and technology it lost, like making fire.

In a land where Muggleborns received no letters of any kind

This would seem to indicate Harry over-estimated the magnitude of his inference in the early chapters about the implication of so few Muggleborns at Hogwarts, but immediately raises the question of what do those lands do with their Muggleborns.

Finally:

She came awake with a gasp of horror, she woke with an unvoiced scream on her lips and no words came forth

Sybil is now definitely the bearer of at least one unvoiced prophecy, and if I'm counting right, at least two - she woke up without speaking in some earlier chapter as well.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T05:18:59.742Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This would seem to indicate Harry over-estimated the magnitude of his inference in the early chapters about the implication of so few Muggleborns at Hogwarts, but immediately raises the question of what do those lands do with their Muggleborns.

Burn them.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-04-18T06:23:46.661Z · score: 7 (13 votes) · LW · GW

If you knew that a woman in your village was communing via socially unapproved rituals with a transhuman intelligence of unknown nature and preferences, would you convince your village to burn her to death? Ideally you'd just use the Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol, but then her own soul remains at risk—burning her alive at least gives her strong incentive to repent.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-18T06:43:02.604Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol

But where would we get that many D-class personnel?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-18T08:00:54.148Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol

For the record, I don't think that was a good idea under any of the plausible scenarios.

Edit: do the people upvoting this have any clue what I'm referring to?

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-19T04:34:32.163Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I know I don't. What are you referring to?

comment by wgd · 2012-04-19T05:19:37.859Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell from my limited research, it appears to be a combination of the SCP Foundation's "Object Classes" with a hypothetical new object class "Roko" which I believe to be named for an LW user who appears to no longer exist, but made a post at some point (the best I can establish is that it had to be prior to December 2010), presenting some idea which later came to be called a "basilisk", because the very knowledge of it was judged by some to be potentially harmful and unsettling. The post was deleted, although it appears to be possible to find copies of it or at least the basic idea if one cares enough.

So presumably the containment protocol for Object Class: Roko is simply to destroy the offending information and maybe take steps to prevent a recurrence? I'm mostly guessing, anyone who actually knows this context firsthand want to comment on whether my guess is close?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-19T09:08:15.149Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell from my limited research, it appears to be a combination of the SCP Foundation's "Object Classes" with a hypothetical new object class "Roko" which I believe to be named for an LW user who appears to no longer exist

This seems likely. The user in question was a top contributor and made a lot of creative and speculative posts along similar lines.

but made a post at some point (the best I can establish is that it had to be prior to December 2010), presenting some idea which later came to be called a "basilisk", because the very knowledge of it was judged by some to be potentially harmful and unsettling.

More precisely he made a post presenting a different clever game-theoretic solution which could, among other things, be used to counter the thing that became called a "basilisk".

comment by Username · 2012-04-20T08:23:37.273Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Spot on.

Edit: Downvotes? Please explain.

comment by Username · 2012-04-20T08:15:53.298Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Spot on.

Though it helps the joke to know that the response to Roko's post and its censorship was huge and blew the entire incident way out of proportion. Several things happened, included Roko leaving the site (a top 10 contributor at the time) and deleting all his posts and comments. And there was a post by a guy who threatened to raise existential risk by 0.0001% everytime a Lesswrong post in censored, which as some people pointed out was equivalent to killing ~6,000 people. Which, at the same time as causing a huge uproar on the site, actually helped to spread the basilisk. Eliezer and Alicorn both think it's a dangerous idea, and say that people with OCD tendencies are especially at risk. Personally it doesn't bother me, but I can see how it could mess some people up. I will say it has little practical value, so my advice is that it's not really worth the effort to track it down.

So yes, Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol is deletion, actively preventing a resurfacing, and has the SCP connotations of a large-scale mobilization of resources to stop a potential disaster.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T16:23:31.878Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you knew that a woman in your village was communing via socially unapproved rituals with a transhuman intelligence of unknown nature and preferences, would you convince your village to burn her to death?

It was a question of expectation, not preference.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-04-19T00:18:58.687Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Right, but I'm curious about your preference.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-18T03:02:50.342Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

While it is clear that the Tasmanian aborigines did lose a lot of technological know-how, there's some dispute over whether they actually lost fire. Unfortunately, I don't have a great source for this. The claim is sourced in the relevant Wikipedia article, but the citation is to a dead-link.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T03:08:00.823Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

As I pointed out to the person who brought that up in the discussion I linked, the dispute is pretty desperate pleading.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-18T03:13:33.039Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, reading your argument there I'm convinced. The tertiary nature of the sources claiming they had fire-making, combined with the well-documented preservation of fires are both pretty strong arguments.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-18T03:04:12.114Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My theory would be they just have some weird powers and never really find out what it means to be a wizard. Various Mediums are probably unknowing Muggleborns.

comment by JulianMorrison · 2012-04-19T22:42:15.165Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard (I forget which of two sources it was so I can't cite) that per anthropological theory, the Tasmanians had taken not a retrograde, but an alternative, approach - that there are two branches humans have taken in regard of technology.

One is to have a maximal technology base, growing as new ideas are learned and maintained down the generations by apprenticeship and later by writing. Even at the flints-and-shells stage this requires specialism to get things done expertly.

The other is to have a minimal technology base, one kind of pot, one kind of weapon, windbreaks instead of fire, and all made out of things that can be expediently rustled up from common materials when needed and casually discarded when not, and which can be taught without effort and without specialism. It means that the species can be scattered down to the least grouping, and lose nothing. It means the individual is complete, alone and naked. They can drop everything and recreate it afresh at need.

The Tasmanians (and to a lesser extent, the aboriginal Australians) took that path. It wasn't some sort of massive technology fail. It was a different way to be successful.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-19T23:07:42.298Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

That theory is possibly the most elaborate sour grapes I've ever seen.

comment by JulianMorrison · 2012-04-19T23:15:47.900Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't follow, care to explain?

FWIW the expedient technology route is the one taken by all other species that have any technology at all. A chimp drops his ant poking stick when he's done poking the ants. It's clearly capable of being an evolutionary success.

comment by see · 2012-04-20T05:35:29.698Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The Parlevar were wiped out entirely. Both species of chimp have an ICUN Red List status of Endangered. I would suggest that being wiped out or nearly so by competitive pressure brought to bear by close genetic relatives who took up a different strategy is not a marker of a strategy being an "evolutionary success".

comment by JulianMorrison · 2012-04-20T10:13:44.036Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Inability to cope with technology maximizing societies is kind of a special case. It applies to basically ALL animals, birds, fish, plants, and even to other humans who decided on being expedient technologists. If you can't call the Parlevar successful ("Before British colonisation in 1803, there were an estimated 3,000–15,000 Parlevar" -- Wikipedia) then you can't call any of the species successful that we wiped out or massively reduced.

comment by JulianMorrison · 2012-04-20T09:38:07.119Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Before British colonisation in 1803, there were an estimated 3,000–15,000 Parlevar" -- Wikipedia

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-04-20T11:40:40.610Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds kinda awesome in a "specialization is for insects" way, but at the end of the eon you're still dying of appendicitis.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-20T06:43:52.386Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nick Szabo discusses similar ideas here with regard to Polynesians.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-18T04:21:54.027Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is the same instance, it's word for word the same as her previous nightmare, this chapter just continues it a little farther and shows that there are people all over the globe who are also having visions of bad things to come.

Unless my memory has totally failed me.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T04:42:44.462Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's weird. So is the first instance supposed to be a massive flashforward (despite no one ever noticing this before because it was written as present tense), or is this second instance supposed to be a big flashback (despite being written as though it happens after Harry finishes his soliloquy)? Maybe Eliezer deliberately or accidentally just made it very similar.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-18T04:52:03.254Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

No, this one is 11pm, the previous one was 2am.

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-04-18T09:07:37.531Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Um, the accepted Outcome Pump explanation of prophecies says that only the right listener will discharge the time "pressure". (Possibly relevant.) The same prophecy could fail to erupt many times.

OT: In Ch. 25, Hold Off On Proposing Solutions, Harry considers only intelligent and evolutionary causes of optimization. I have no clue if an Outcome Pump could coherently explain all magic.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T16:19:58.368Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The same prophecy could fail to erupt many times.

As the CS saying goes, things happen 0, 1, or indefinitely many times. Why does this Sybil failure happen only twice (as opposed to every night, the prophecy not having gone off on a vacation or anything), and why is it linked with additional characters who were not also linked to the previous incident?

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-04-18T16:59:47.973Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why does this Sybil failure happen only twice

I don't think we should assume that. The end of 85 reads to me like a flailing optimization process that can't 'find' a natural route to changing Harry's future and is pushing absurdly improbable routes.

comment by V2Blast · 2012-04-18T06:37:09.799Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's safe to assume it's deliberate, although I do not think it is the same instance.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-05-01T01:02:48.714Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone else think it plausible that Harry's third last name, "Verres," comes from Mr. Verres in the webcomic El Goonish Shive? EGS Mr. Verres is a government scientist with a bespectacled semi-magical mad scientist son, and pretty much everything else in MOR is a shout-out.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-05-02T02:00:11.871Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Accidental, but I'm willing to claim credit for it. It started as a portmanteau of Vassar and Herreshoff.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2012-12-13T10:50:23.353Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd always assumed it was related to Veres / Latin for truth.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T06:20:43.083Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, Harry. Who have you just doomed with your folly?

Harry realizes the error, and yet continues to generalize from fictional morality.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T12:26:44.108Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Which error does he realize? So far as I can tell, he sees a failure mode on both sides, and so chooses the best compromise he can come up with.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T16:43:24.086Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Two illustrations:

It was abruptly very clear that while Harry was going around trying to live the ideals of the Enlightenment, Dumbledore was the one who'd actually fought in a war. Nonviolent ideals were cheap to hold if you were a scientist, living inside the Protego bubble cast by the police officers and soldiers whose actions you had the luxury to question. Albus Dumbledore seemed to have started out with ideals at least as strong as Harry's own, if not stronger; and Dumbledore hadn't gotten through his war without losing friends and killing enemies and sacrificing allies.

For commentary, we turn to Bismarck: "A fool learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others."

Even if Dumbledore was right, and the true enemy was utterly mad and evil... in a hundred million years the organic lifeform known as Lord Voldemort probably wouldn't seem much different from all the other bewildered children of Ancient Earth. Whatever Lord Voldemort had done to himself, whatever Dark rituals seemed so horribly irrevocable on a merely human scale, it wouldn't be beyond curing with the technology of a hundred million years. Killing him, if you didn't have to do it, would be just one more death for future sentient beings to be sad about. How could you look up at the stars, and believe anything else?

Do Achilles and Odysseus not seem too different to modern eyes? No- one is pride and folly, and the other prudence and wisdom. But unfortunately one must be Odysseus to know that, and Harry is an Achilles.

History remembers actions; fiction remembers people. And so Harry thinks that the future will remember everyone currently alive as they are in fiction, rather than as their deeds show them to be. Indeed, once you have "cured" Voldemort by scooping out his will and past, what remains? Why does he think the future will hold life to be as precious as the present does, instead of cheap, as it did and will again in Malthusian economies?

Harry does not look at the stars; he looks at himself. He would do better to look at others.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T21:47:07.278Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Why does he think the future will hold life to be as precious as the present does, instead of cheap, as it did and will again in Malthusian economies?

Because he has no intention of letting that happen.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T23:22:21.356Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Intentions are insufficient.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T23:28:59.573Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Intentions are insufficient.

Intentions and having already outright declared what 'shall not be' (see dementor scene) are sufficient for at least establishing what possible futures Harry cares about and plans on happening. (I personally criticized said scene because it seemed like cheap overconfident grandstanding of the kind fitting to an 11 year old.)

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-04-19T05:49:16.793Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

it seemed like cheap overconfident grandstanding of the kind fitting to an 11 year old.

I'm confused is this supposed to be a criticism of the writing or of Harry?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-19T07:30:54.586Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused is this supposed to be a criticism of the writing or of Harry?

Harry, to a certain extent. As well as not the writing per se, but the brand of transhumanist bluster written about. Where some we emotionally roused to cheering, I cringed.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-19T00:14:29.408Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Vaniver was talking in terms of predictions about what the future people would think. You responded in terms of what Harry wanted to happen. Unless you're making a statement about Harry suffering from some form of bias here (in which case your comments are unclear) then Vaniver is right. Intentions have no effect on what the future actually will be. Predicting what will happen in the long term is different then planning to cause something to happen in the short term.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-19T00:36:52.090Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Vaniver was talking in terms of predictions about what the future people would think. You responded in terms of what Harry wanted to happen.

Vaniver was talking about Harry's evaluation of the future outcomes. Once again, I point out Harry's forceful and unambiguous declarations to the dementor about what the future 'shall' be and assert relevance of that kind of thinking to how Harry would evaluate the thoughts of of the people he labels as those from the future.

Intentions have no effect on what the future actually will be.

I've heard about a particular neurological condition (typically caused by traumatic brain injury) where this is the case. For the rest of us intentions do have an effect. (That's kind of the main reason we have them in the first place.)

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-19T03:25:05.492Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Vaniver wasn't talking about Harry's evaluation of future outcomes, he was talking about Harry's predictions of future thoughts that future people would have. That's why Vaniver said "why does he think the future will hold life to be precious", etc. "He think the future will" clearly refers to a prediction made by Harry.

So your response is only relevant if you were trying to say Harry's predictions were tainted by his value judgements. But I don't think that's what you were saying, correct?

Intentions have no impact on the future, only actions do. Unless you want to pretend that the neurons firing around in your brain are causally significant (in terms of effects to the outside world) in any substantive way, which would be dumb. Harry "declaring" that he considers death unacceptable and intends to stop it is "insufficient" to cause immortality. He would need to take actions like making an immortality pill and giving it to everyone, or something.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-19T07:48:41.517Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Vaniver wasn't talking about Harry's evaluation of future outcomes, he was talking about Harry's predictions of future thoughts that future people would have. That's why Vaniver said "why does he think the future will hold life to be precious", etc. "He think the future will" clearly refers to a prediction made by Harry.

I believe you are incorrectly modelling the way Harry thinks and misunderstand the implications of the words Harry has uttered. The implicit prediction is conditional. On, for example, not catastrophic failure and extinction. To illustrate the position: Harry would not change the thinking here or the degree to which his meaning is valid if he happened to believe that there was a 95% chance of human extinction instead of any possible evaluation of future humans.

So your response is only relevant if you were trying to say Harry's predictions were tainted by his value judgements. But I don't think that's what you were saying, correct?

That is not my primary point. I would perhaps also say that this is likely. Or at least that he uses overconfident rhetoric when expressing himself, to a degree that my instincts warn me to disaffiliate.

Intentions have no impact on the future, only actions do. Unless you want to pretend that the neurons firing around in your brain are causally significant (in terms of effects to the outside world) in any substantive way, which would be dumb.

I assert the thing that you say is dumb. My model of causality doesn't consider atoms inside the computational structure of powerful optimization agents to be qualitatively different in causal significance to atoms outside of such entities. Neurons firing around in powerful brains are among the most causally significant things in existence.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2012-12-18T19:24:04.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Erm...there isn't even conservation of energy in that universe. Do you really think Malthusian economics still holds in such a world?

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T21:14:29.929Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Do Achilles and Odysseus not seem too different to modern eyes?

No, they're both violent primitive barbarians. One preferred a bow, the other a spear, if I remember correctly. And Harry is not trying to look mere thousands of years into the future.

Why does he think the future will hold life to be as precious as the present does, instead of cheap, as it did and will again in Malthusian economies?

No, I'm pretty sure Harry thinks the future will hold life to be much more precious than the present does.

As for why, probably bad reasoning, but I wouldn't hold that against him. Moral progress maybe? The optimism of youth? Because if the future doesn't hold things that are similar to us but better then it's a Bad End and probably won't hold anyone whose opinion we care about?

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T23:17:36.859Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, they're both violent primitive barbarians.

And yet, we have classics departments.

And Harry is not trying to look mere thousands of years into the future.

I suspect Harry will not be disappointed if the future he envisages fails to arrive in a few thousand years.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2012-12-18T19:24:57.412Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Erm...there isn't even conservation of energy in that universe. Do you really think Malthusian economics still holds?

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-18T21:12:54.252Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

When it becomes possible to cheaply create life, then I expect Malthusian constraints to quickly become tight. (To be more precise, I mean that the long-term population growth rate minus death rate times per capita resource expenditure cannot exceed the resource growth rate.)

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2012-12-19T02:57:37.449Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why? In this world, energy is free. Which means, that with sufficient technology, all resources are free. As long as no one recklessly goes around creating resource-using life forms at an incredible rate, we should be fine...

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-19T03:07:56.187Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In this world, energy is free.

Is it? There's a big difference between a constraint you're not sure about and a constraint that doesn't exist.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T21:06:21.270Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Granted, "Voldemort won't look so bad from a distance" is absurd. But the ultimate decision he made seemed pretty good, as such things go.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T23:20:14.885Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

just one more death for future sentient beings to be sad about.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-19T00:59:29.503Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

He's an 11 year old, he's allowed to still be stupid in his idealism.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-19T02:56:24.258Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that it's absurd to find it probable that the future beings would value all lives, even the lives of the incredibly stupid and evil ancients. It's conceivable, and plausible, but we don't have any evidence, and we have lots of bias from fiction.

But this comment doesn't seem relevant to what Vaniver said. Harry being idealist in no way is related to the probability that future beings will think that Voldemort should or should not have been killed. Your comment makes sense if you're addressing why Harry came to the conclusions he did, but not if you're discussing whether or not the sentient creatures would value Voldemort's life.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-19T04:14:31.014Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My point is that Harry's beliefs are dumb(getting better, but still dumb), and therefore the conclusions that he draws from those beliefs are silly and poor.

That said, a thought occurs. Doe the True Patronus work for someone willing to do murder(even if it's to save net lives)?

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-19T20:26:43.298Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, if not, then there's mutual exclusivity between some Dark Wizard and Light Wizard abilities.

You can cast a Horcrux, OR a True Patronus, but not both. Interestingly, both are ways of avoiding encounters with death.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-19T02:41:43.025Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"I'm a young boy," Harry said, "and I judge myself."

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-19T02:49:41.830Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Which is good, because I'm judging him too.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-18T09:46:56.074Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

And from what he imagines the future will think. Updating on evidence that hasn't arrived yet?

EDIT: is the negative karma a mere "I think differently" or did I do something objectionable?

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-18T13:55:58.665Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Updating on evidence that hasn't arrived yet?

Not quite. I think the point is that because we aren't perfect Bayesian reasoners, we neglect to update on some of the available evidence. But getting into the right frame of mind can help you avoid that. (Cf. the reasoning behind Harry's decision to tell McGonagall about the Parseltongue message from the sorting hat.)

The heuristic Harry is using here, is to imagine a future test he thinks would be decisive, and ask himself what outcome he expects from that test. That's a way to "unlock" and find out about your beliefs about the present.

Personally, I get very little use out of this technique, since my problem tends to be uncertainty about the likely consequences of my actions, not uncertainty about which outcome would be best.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-19T19:34:33.384Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Personally, I get very little use out of this technique, since my problem tends to be uncertainty about the likely consequences of my actions, not uncertainty about which outcome would be best.

Have you tried it on a micro-scale? I employ a modified version of this technique as a constant motivation tool. (Eg, I don't feel like going to the gym and prefer to read things on the internet, so I query my future self from 4 hours ahead and future self from a couple days ahead for each Everett branch of action and poll my imagination of their opinions. Invariably the 4 possible-future me's all outvote present me and force me to the gym.)

I find it very good for peer pressuring myself with my future selves, but it only works on things I cognitively know the 'right' answer to yet am emotionally unconvinced by. It also helps exceptionally well for hyperbolic discounting. I think that Harry is using a similar tool to line up his emotions and motivations with what he knows cognitively and to avoid the shortsighted path (Kill 2/3rds of the Wizengamot) in lieu of the path he'd previously decided on.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-19T20:43:28.345Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, it is pretty useful in timescales up to about a week. After that I can't really imagine myself or predict the future very well.

For some reason I compartmentalized and failed to notice that this is the same technique applied to much longer timespans.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-18T14:50:53.131Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's a better way to put it than what I said. Or in Quirrelian terms, you win.

Not that Harry's convinced me in the slightest.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T13:09:37.372Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And from what he imagines the future will think. Updating on evidence that hasn't arrived yet?

That is still updating based on evidence that he already has albeit via a possibly dubious application of imagination to make predictions.

EDIT: is the negative karma a mere "I think differently" or did I do something objectionable?

No idea.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-18T16:29:16.921Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And from what he imagines the future will think.

And where does he learn how to imagine about the future? From the past, or from his fiction?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-23T03:47:13.090Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, Bellatrix Lestrange is married to Rodolphus Lestrange and does not have a child. In MoR, Bellatrix Black is unmarried, but has a child- Lesath Lestrange, the acknowledged bastard of Rastaban Lestrange. (In canon Rodolphus' brother's name was Rabastan, but I'm assuming that's a typo.) Lesath is currently a fifth year, so he was born in either '75 or '76. Bellatrix was actively leading attacks as a Death Eater in '71. Presumably a pregnancy would require some amount of maternity leave from the whole 'going on raids, fighting Aurors' thing.

So. Why would Voldemort allow / order one of his most powerful servants to have a child?

comment by DanArmak · 2012-05-06T00:45:52.876Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Um. Maybe he was experimenting with the powerful magic protection that a mother's love grants her child?

comment by glumph · 2012-05-07T01:48:39.520Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

We know that LL loves his mother, but does she love her son? Does she love anyone but Voldemort?

comment by DanArmak · 2012-05-07T02:38:19.508Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

She'd love her son if Voldermort wanted to make her love him.

Seriously, this has got to be true just for subversion value.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-24T04:02:15.260Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Given that his ideology is based to blood purity, he may very well (at least put up a show of) encouraging purebloods to have children.

Also, given what we know about Bellatrix's relationship to Voldemort, maybe Lesath is actually Voldemort's son and Rastaban adopted him after Voldemort's downfall, falsely acknowledging paternity so he wouldn't have the stigma of being the son of a dark lord.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-24T04:22:05.381Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Given that his ideology is based to blood purity, he may very well (at least put up a show of) encouraging purebloods to have children.

He chose to express this viewpoint by ordering his extremely loyal, highly skilled unmarried female pureblood warrior-assassin to have a kid in the middle of a war?

maybe Lesath is actually Voldemort's [son]

This is possible, but... he's kind of, you know, wimpy. I'm just not seeing it. (Also, it seems like we might have gotten some indication that Quirrell has interacted with him somehow, if this were true.)

Rastaban adopted [him] after Voldemort's downfall

Rastaban was in Azkaban immediately after Voldemort's downfall. Also, Lesath was somewhere around five years old at the time.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-24T04:27:54.715Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He chose to express this viewpoint by ordering his extremely loyal, highly skilled unmarried female pureblood warrior-assassin to have a kid in the middle of a war?

Well, the Nazi's did something similar.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-24T04:39:04.981Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Let me rephrase:

He chose to express this viewpoint by ordering his extremely loyal, highly skilled warrior-assassin to get pregnant in the middle of a war?

That's the relevant bit, and also coincidentally the part where the Lebensborn analogy breaks down.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-24T04:09:02.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

she wouldn't have the stigma of being the daughter of a dark lor

Minor note- Lesath is a boy.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-24T04:24:41.228Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks fixed.

comment by Aharon · 2012-05-05T22:37:59.499Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1) Even in Muggle society, there are women who work close to their normal capacity despite pregnancy up to shortly before birth. 2) The physiological consequences after birth can probably be healed by magic. 3) Voldemort might also enjoy causing her psychological pain by having her become attached to the child she will bear and then taking it away from her afterwards. He continued torturing her well after he already had her total loyalty, so this might just be another way to do so.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-23T14:20:57.316Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

a) I s'pose he does expect losses. Replenishing his ranks in the long term seems to be an acceptable idea (he is, more or less, immortal) b) Pity points? Perhaps the good guys held back against a pregnant woman? c) How long is she realistically out of the game, considering wet-nurses, time-turners and so on: half a year? d) If Bellatrix had gotten reckless, having a kid might have been a good way to rein her in a little bit..

comment by Logos01 · 2012-04-24T03:39:18.273Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Emotional blackmail on LeStrange. Also -- half a year is too long a time period. by far.

Figure without time turners but with healing magics and potions an eight month birth. Rip the kid out of her womb, and heal her back into active duty. You lose her services for maybe a month. (Up to six months in and she's still combat-capable.)

Heal both kid and mother, and there you go. (also, if we can assume accelerated gestation potions then we get even more silly. No "downtime" at all No need for time turners.)

comment by Daniel_Starr · 2012-04-20T18:55:21.522Z · score: 11 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell's tale of "I played a hero, but it didn't get me political power" doesn't hold up. The "lonely superhero" is just as much a mere storytelling convention as the "zero-casualties superhero". Either Quirrell is leaving something out, or the author is ignoring real-world politics for storytelling convenience.

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity. Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington. This is true in nondemocracies too: consider the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Marlborough, or Sir Francis Drake.

What gets you loneliness and isolation is being a pioneer.

In real life, heroes go unrewarded exactly and only when their enemies aren't yet regarded as enemies by the rest of society.

The socially isolating thing isn't fighting Nazis when you're an American, it's fighting Nazis when you're a German. Being a reformer is isolating.

"The lonely superhero" is just as much a mere literary convention as "the zero-casualties superhero".

Of course, "the lonely superhero" reflects an underlying truth. The real bravery we could use more of from people is the bravery to give up status.

So the deeds we see Batman and Superman perform are mere stand-ins for socially brave deeds that make less good stories but matter far more: the scientist defending an unpopular hypothesis, the leader admitting to his followers he doesn't have an answer, the skilled and intelligent person who chooses to work on something that matters instead of something that makes the most money. Those are the real heroes we need, and they really are lonely.

So just as "the zero-casualties superhero" is a literary figure for "we need people who'll take risks for others", the "the lonely superhero" is a literary figure for "we need people who are willing to be mocked for doing what's right".

But within the context of the story, Quirrell's "I fought the villain but got no respect" is nonsense. Humans don't work that way. We have to assume Quirrell is leaving something out.

Did Dumbledore see through him and undermine him politically at every turn?

Alternatively, perhaps Quirrellmort is as bad at mass politics as he is good at individual violence? There's evidence he's got no clue how to handle 'inspiration' as a motive, though he gets 'greed' and 'fear' just fine.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-22T15:36:18.207Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Good points, but reading carefully, it seems Riddle's hero persona wasn't a pure "lonely hero." Rather:

There was a man who was hailed as a savior. The destined scion, such a one as anyone would recognize from tales, wielding justice and vengeance like twin wands against his dreadful nemesis.

Also:

Several times he led forces against the Death Eaters, fighting with skillful tactics and extraordinary power. People began to speak of him as the next Dumbledore, it was thought that he might become Minister of Magic after the Dark Lord fell.

However:

It was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant... I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward.

In particular, Quirrell's Yule speech reminded Bones of one or more speeches hero-Riddle apparently gave, which she describes as "castigating the previous generation for their disunity against the Death Eaters."

So taken together, it seems hero-Riddle was widely liked, and could have been the next Minister of Magic had he so chose. However, Riddle was upset about the fact that other people did not unite behind him strongly enough, did not take enough responsibility, and said mean things about him. (Note Riddle's decision making process based on what he enjoys doing most.)

He may have also worked himself into the awkward situation where, though he intended "Voldemort" to lose the war, it wasn't quite clear how that was going to happen because Voldemort's followers were more united.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-21T02:38:14.077Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity.

Well, yeah, it got Quirrel's "hero" political opportunity too. He was invited back to the fold of the Most Ancient House, and after the death of everyone else there, he would have wielded the vote in the Wizengamot. But they didn't sufficiently obey him as leader.

Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington.

Alcibiades was accused and recalled by the Atheneans while on the expedition he had been advocating. Pausanias (victor of Plataies) and Miltiades (victor of Marathon) barely lasted a year after their famous victories, before getting accused of treason.

But within the context of the story, Quirrell's "I fought the villain but got no respect" is nonsense. Humans don't work that way

Knowing something of Ancient Greek history, and how they tended to treat all their most successful generals, it seemed very believable to me.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-21T03:20:32.637Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Successful generals are threats. You also see this in Byzantine history (inspiring a similar situation in Asimov's Foundation universe), and Chinese history too: a successful general like Belisarius becomes a threat to the throne and may be sabotaged in various ways. Belisarius was lucky: all his emperor did was short-change him and set him impossible missions. Chinese generals might just see themselves executed.

comment by glumph · 2012-04-20T21:51:32.230Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm assuming the 'past-Quirrell' that Quirrell tells Hermoine about in Chapter 84 is the 'young man' that Amelia Bones believes is now Quirrell. (Is this reasonable?)

If that's the case, then one way of understanding the situation is this: Riddle assumed two personas---Voldemort and Light Riddle---in order to experiment with different ways of acquiring power. He found that the Voldemort-path was much more preferable on account of the loyalty he could obtain via the Dark Mark. The Dark Mark was so effective that the loyalty he earned as Light Riddle seemed negligible by comparison; thus he complains that he got no help from his 'allies'.

So Riddle retired his Light persona by faking his own death and continued only as Voldemort. Now that he sees Harry as a potential puppet, he wants to ensure that he/Harry have loyalty comparable to that secured with a Dark Mark. He therefore calls for a 'Light Mark' in his speech before Christmas.

EDIT: Of course 'Light Riddle' (if he existed) and Voldemort would have looked different; Minerva remembers Voldemort as snake-like. If the above is right, then Voldemort's disfiguration would have to be a disguise rather than real damage from Dark Rituals.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-20T22:07:39.606Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(Is this reasonable?)

It's certainly what I immediately assumed.

Light Riddle

Not actually Riddle, but yeah.

He found that the Voldemort-path was much more preferable on account of the loyalty he could obtain via the Dark Mark. The Dark Mark was so effective that the loyalty he earned as Light Riddle seemed negligible by comparison; thus he complains that he got no help from his 'allies'.

Amelia claims that Quirrell's Yule speech calling for a Mark of Britain / Light Mark "struck her as familiar", and was one of the clues that brought to mind the vanished Noble Hero.

If the above is right, then Voldemort's disfiguration would have to be a disguise rather than real damage from Dark Rituals.

Or he could have been possessing the actual body of his former classmate.

comment by avichapman · 2012-06-20T01:48:04.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It always seemed to me that 'light Riddle' was not Riddle, but Quirrell before he was possessed by Voldemort. Remember that he visited a dojo and learned to fight, Later Voldemort attempted to do the same and failed. There would be little point in coming back to learn again if he was the same person.

comment by Slackson · 2012-06-20T02:17:42.687Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Unless he just wanted to play the part of the angry Dark Lord, and get people to treat him as such, to his own advantage.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-21T02:03:20.353Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity. Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington. This is true in nondemocracies too: consider the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Marlborough, or Sir Francis Drake.

Depends on the situation. A good Samaritan who stopped the kidnapping of the president's daughter because he was in the right place at the right time will get some fame but probably won't be able to leverage that incident into a political career.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-18T02:46:27.399Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Why should the time of an ominous decision be so relevant to seers? Even if the consequences of the decision have a big impact on the future, that future already was the future. It's not like there is a default future before you make your decision and a different future afterwards, your decision itself would already be a part of the future of any earlier point in time. From a many worlds perspective you might have several different possible futures so your overall prospect of the future might significantly change after an important branching, but Harry's decision doesn't seem particularly influenced by recent random chance; it seems unlikely that from the perspective of 6 hours ago most future Harrys would make a completely different decision.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-18T11:50:43.159Z · score: 24 (24 votes) · LW · GW

The clock is a gift from Dumbledore. On the one hand, it could be recording. On the other hand it could be transmitting. On the gripping hand, Dumbledore has a Time Turner.

If Dumbledore wanted to assure that any time he was the best pressure-release for a prophesy that pressure was released as easily and discretely as possible and less likely to be overheard, he would want to make it easy for the Prophesy Force to get that information to him.

So he gives her a clock and tells her to ask it for the time each time she wakes up in the middle of the night. The clock tells Dumbledore. Dumbledore gets invisible. Then it's just a jump to the left and he receives any prophesy intended for him.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T13:59:21.793Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

That's so obvious in retrospect, and Dumbledore is so meddling, that now I don't think he's allowed not to have thought of that.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-18T12:21:45.811Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So when the clock responds to her question, that's actually invisible Dumbledore?

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T13:09:19.781Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

No. It's just a clock. But it is there, so Dumbledore knows at which point in time he should jump back to (given the option of course) {all this is an interpretation of loserthree's post}

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-18T13:44:01.768Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I meant, if whenever she queries the clock for the time, Dumbledore will have arrived already, then there was no need for him to enchant the clock further to respond to the query - he could just answer it himself, since he's already there.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-18T14:31:41.366Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That may fall under the don't-mess-with-time injunction. Easier to just be silent and let the clock do its job.

comment by EliAndrewC · 2012-04-18T16:15:48.942Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That might explain the first sentence of Albus Dumbledore's aftermath in Chapter 63: "It might have been only fifty-seven seconds before breakfast ended and he might have needed four twists of his Time-Turner, but in the end, Albus Dumbledore did make it."

Or perhaps not, since there would presumably be more than 4 hours between 2am (when Trelawny heard the prophecy) and the end of breakfast.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-22T04:02:03.438Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

it looks like it's saying that Dumbledore used four twists of his time-turner to make it to breakfast.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-18T03:08:58.937Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. On first reading, I just took the premonitions as being an indicator of how close we are to the apocalypse, not necessarily being caused by Harry's resolution. And yet you're right; both the premonitions we've seen so far immediately followed Harry's resolving something.

The first resolution was Harry saying that he would destroy Azkaban, whether it meant ruling Britain or summoning arcane magics to blow the building up, and that those who support Azkaban are the villains.

This resolution was Harry saying that if his war caused a single death, he would start killing villains as fast as possible.

So if these are all related, I guess all Quirrell needs to do is make Harry remember both those resolutions after someone dies and while he's in his Dark Side, and then sit back and watch as Harry exterminates 90% of the British population.

comment by Locke · 2012-04-18T03:13:05.584Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

More like 60%, I think.

comment by Locke · 2012-04-18T03:20:50.998Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Never mind, the "far too few" comment Harry makes during the trial means you're likely correct.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-18T15:52:10.145Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, no, if we're using the trial votes as the gauge, it's probably like 70/30? Maybe? But I was thinking of not only those who would sentence Hermione to Azkaban, but all those who support Azkaban in general, which is surely a significantly higher percentage.

comment by Locke · 2012-04-18T16:02:47.718Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't referring to the actual vote, but rather to the reaction to Harry's speech.

Some of the members of the Wizengamot were looking abashed at the Boy-Who-Lived's admonition, and a few others were nodding violently to the old wizard's words. But they were too few. Harry could see it. They were too few.

And that's just those who agree that Children shouldn't be exposed to dementors, and it seems to be like it's <20%. It's probably only around .1% of the population who don't want anyone of any age given to the Dead Things.

comment by Locke · 2012-04-18T02:53:12.054Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer seems to be taking a page from Alicorn's book. In Luminosity Alice is plagued by differing visions as Bella constantly changes her mind about her future, and then the actual future snaps into place when a final choice is made.

comment by shminux · 2012-04-18T04:57:54.442Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

That's how it is in the canon Twilight (Eclipse).

comment by Locke · 2012-04-18T05:37:02.160Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Try not to take this as me being a big snobby snob, but did you actually read them?

comment by loup-vaillant · 2012-04-18T09:13:33.190Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Secondary source: I have seen the first 3 films, and Alice explicitly (and repeatedly, I think) states that "a decision has been made" when she has a vision. That decision needn't be made by Bella specifically though.

comment by shminux · 2012-04-18T14:50:35.898Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Weirdly enough, I have read both the canon and the Alicorn's fanfic.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-18T02:59:01.353Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And I already remarked in the Luminosity thread that that makes no sense. It makes even less sense in a universe with time turners.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-18T03:03:53.180Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Essentially? It has to happen at some point along the timeline, and whatever engine runs magic finds it simplest to give visions simultaneous to the decisions that cause them. (Or at least, contribute in some major way to them.)

Or, in other words, enforced narrative causality.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2012-12-18T19:38:12.656Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Take the present state of the universe and use an imperfect tool to extrapolate likely future outcomes. Changing your mind causes the present state to shift towards predicting a certain future outcome more.

The only weird thing is that you can actually fool people by pretending. The prediction mechanism has to have some very specific flaws for that to work.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T03:00:35.470Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you assume both free will and prescience, it's natural. You cannot see the consequences of a decision that has not yet been made, but once it has been, then you can view it. Think of the visions in Dune, as one of the better-known examples - the visions that the seers see are infinite branches, not single facts, and the branch points are their decisions. (The analogy is not perfect - in Dune, the decisions of non-seers are taken as given - but I hope the idea is clear).

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-18T10:59:26.315Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Free will as opposing "determinism" is a confused concept according to Eliezer's opinion, and also according to mine -- see Thou Art Physics

Basic points is that we're part of the physical world-- if free will means anything, it must mean the ability of our current physical state to determine our decisions. "Libertarian free-will" in the sense of people making decision that can't be predicted from the current state; that's inevitably just randomness, not anything that has to do with people's character traits or moralities or cognitive-processes -- nothing that is traditionally labelled "free will".

comment by dspeyer · 2012-04-18T14:39:59.381Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But the Potterverse is dualist. Even if horcruxes get some massive retcon, animagi preserve that in MOR.

So maybe souls are immune to the normal patterns of time and causality, and a decision from the soul has special properties for prophecy. Only when all involved souls have chosen does the timestream become fixed enough for prophecies. I'm not sure what that means for time turners. Maybe people who have gone back are out of contact with their souls.

This would cost the story applicability, but it is a story, not a treatise.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T15:22:27.524Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But the Potterverse is dualist. Even if horcruxes get some massive retcon, animagi preserve that in MOR.

It enjoys the mind/body distinction, for sure, but not necessarily strongly (not more strongly than a physicalist who wants to be neuropreserved). Random proposed mechanisms for animagi:

  • the human mind is very compressible, so it's not hard to build a cat-sized brain that runs a human
  • the brain actually gets teleported to another dimension and operates the cat via telepresence
  • the cat is animated through magic and most of its mass is actually used to run computation (slightly less plausible for a beetle)
comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-04-19T17:38:45.725Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Or the obvious one: space is compressed using the same method as every other bigger-on-the-inside object wizards use everywhere all the time.

comment by cwillu · 2012-05-10T07:41:22.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Beetle-sized (of the beautifully blue sort), at least.

Note also that the body the mind wears apparently (according to quirrel) does have an impact on the mind.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-18T19:06:59.516Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mere dualism isn't enough to save libertarian free will. To the extent your decision is characteristic of you it is at least in principle predictable, at least probabilistically. The non-predictable component of your decision process is by necessity not even in principle distinguishable from that of Gandhi or Hitler in any way. So how can you call the result of the non-predictable component deciding with your free will?

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-18T03:07:05.341Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you assume both free will and prescience, it's natural.

You mean libertarian free will, which already doesn't make sense all by itself, and even then the combination doesn't make sense for additional reasons, starting with that seeing anything would usually require that only main characters have free will.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T03:33:51.198Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Now that is a phrase I've never heard before. I follow neither the term nor the argument, and would appreciate elaboration.

Edit: And to address the one point I do follow, someone's decision has to be the tipping point. Again, narrativium being what it is, that someone is likely to be a main character.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-18T03:38:42.081Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is you stated "if you assume both free will and..." as though free will is a thing that exists.

See free will on the wiki. (This is supposed to be a kind of do-it-yourself exercise; the page I linked has spoiler alerts you might want to pay attention to.)

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-19T21:37:47.618Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So my promised followup. In order for the world not to display absolute determinism(of the sort where you can project infinitely far ahead given sufficient computing power and knowledge of world-state), then there needs to be a point at which new information is added. Alternately, the limits on the computing power of the Source of Magic's Precognition Engine impose a horizon on predictions. In the former case, some new information is added to the system - likely in the form of a quantum world-choice - that is sufficient to allow a prophecy to be made. In the latter case, the choice of timing is pure coincidence, which makes it very unlikely. It's also possible that the Source simply cannot access all possible data, but only things that have explicitly been formed into conscious thoughts - not sure how accurate predictions could be without sufficient access to the physical world, but perhaps "macroscopic and consciousness" is sufficient? IDK.

In any case, "free will" is a convenient shorthand for the idea I was getting at, which people seem to have understood, but it is not strictly accurate. I think my thought process was quite fuzzy, and you've sharpened it significantly, for which i thank you.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T22:10:42.391Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's also possible that the Source simply cannot access all possible data, but only things that have explicitly been formed into conscious thoughts

I'd say partial Transfiguration is pretty strong evidence that the Source of Magic is paying very close attention to wizards' conscious thoughts, whatever else its data-gathering abilities.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T12:16:49.545Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, is that all. Yes, free will is a meaningless term...unless you have time travel and/or prescience, in which case it suddenly becomes meaningful.

Edit: Upon further consideration, I'm not sure that's true. I have to run to work, but I'll ponder this and update later.

Edit 2: See http://lesswrong.com/lw/bto/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6ekb

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T12:48:39.832Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Upon further consideration, I'm not sure that's true.

I agree with your second thought. Those two don't qualitatively change the meaningfulness of the term.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-18T14:27:35.703Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had understood the intention of the free will solution here to be normalizing: i.e. we should end with the result that we have free will in every sense that's important to us. In other words, we can make decisions from our own character and reasoning, we are responsible for those decisions, etc. etc.

If all that's true, if free will is no less important and meaningful for all the findings of natural science, then why wouldn't it likewise be important for seers and prophecy?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T14:32:48.977Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If all that's true, if free will is no less important and meaningful for all the findings of natural science, then why wouldn't it likewise be important for seers and prophecy?

Isn't that what my comment claims?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-18T18:34:38.378Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If so, we have no disagreement.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-22T03:58:38.871Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or to put it another way, your ominous decision can cause a prophecy at any time, past or future, so why should the prophecy happen soon after the decision?

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-27T02:19:36.180Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My understanding would be that the future is in flux--until Harry made that resolution, he could have not made that resolution, but once the decision was made, the future switched over to the one that causes as those prophesies.

comment by loup-vaillant · 2012-04-18T11:59:49.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It occurred to me that I didn't notice a prior omnious resolution each time Sybil Trelowney makes a prediction. Mayhaps some resolutions happened off-stage. It might be interesting to try and guess what resolution could have triggered each prediction?

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T12:28:41.875Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How many previous Trelawney predictions have there been?

comment by jimrandomh · 2012-05-01T03:57:36.191Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how my mind dug this up, but way back in Chapter 17, Harry visits Dumbledore's office and is overloaded with bizarreness: Dumbledore sets fire to a chicken, he gives him his father's rock, he gives him his mother's potions textbook which contains a terrible secret... but one of these things is not like the others. Dumbledore gave Harry his father's rock, with instructions that Harry satisfied by creating a magical ring and wearing it at all times.

Blur out all the hilarious details for a minute, and that scene is: Dumbledore made Harry create a magical ring and wear it at all times, and distracted him so well that he never thought about what the ring does. My hypothesis is that some aspect of magic is governed by an XP-like mechanic, and that sustained transfiguration (especially of large masses) is an unusually effective way of gaining magical power. Dumbledore wants Harry to exploit this, but he considers it a major secret, so he substituted a nonsensical explanation and prepared a collection of very flashy distractions to keep it from being questioned. He might've even left the real explanation in his pensieve, so that he wouldn't have to lie. Read in this light, the scene makes a whole lot more sense. It explains Harry's anomalous magical power. It explains Dumbledore's anomalous magical power.

It is also the only way Dumbledore could truly mark someone as an equal.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2012-12-04T06:57:08.509Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The potions textbook is not a hilarious detail. I'm almost done catching up on all of the MoR discussion on LW, and it seems consensus among people who have thought about it is that gur cbgvbaf grkgobbx fubjf Qhzoyrqber vagresrevat obgu va Yvyl'f eryngvbafuvc jvgu Fancr naq va Yvyl'f perngvba bs gur cbgvba fur tvirf Crghavn.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-05-01T04:10:26.929Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It explains Harry's anomalous magical power

What anomalous magical power?

comment by jimrandomh · 2012-05-01T04:28:46.266Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Today, children," began the calm professional voice of the Transfiguration Professor, just as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened that week, "we shall learn how much effort it takes to sustain a Transfiguration, and why, at your age, you should not even try."

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-05-01T04:36:57.935Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"Um," Harry said. "Actually I was thinking that once I know how, I could Transfigure the rock into a ring and wear it on my finger. If you could teach me how to sustain a Transfiguration -"

"It is good that you asked me first," Professor McGonagall said, her face growing a bit stern. "If you lost control of the Transfiguration the reversal would cut off your finger and probably rip your hand in half. And at your age, even a ring is too large a target for you to sustain indefinitely without it being a serious drain on your magic. But I can have a ring forged for you with a setting for a jewel, a small jewel, in contact with your skin, and you can practice sustaining a safe subject, like a marshmallow. When you have kept it up successfully, even in your sleep, for a full month, I will allow you to Transfigure, ah, your father's rock..." Professor McGonagall's voice trailed off.

So, if it is a training method, it's one McGonagall knows about and in fact specifically suggested.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-09-12T13:36:55.338Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Idea: someone should compile a list of times when Quirrell says "Interesting" or is otherwise surprised by Harry.

He does it a lot, and we might see an interesting pattern emerge.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-23T13:04:25.000Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I think HPMoR has colored my thinking about scholarship and I'm really happy about this. Recently I have been reading the literature on mathematics education, and I find myself thinking of what I read as books that can give me power, like uncovering principles of magic and becoming capable of greater battle magic. I'm basically doing what Dumbledore and Riddle did and it works in real life.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-19T03:38:19.889Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking about it earlier and Harry has massively underranked the utility of Horcruxes. If one person must die so that a different person can live 100K+ more years then that is an incredibly desirable tradeoff from an impartial utilitarian standpoint and everyone should be doing this. You could even choose to murder only old and dying people so that there would be almost no loss of net time that people spend alive. He dismissed it way too quickly during his conversation with Dumbledore.

comment by Locke · 2012-04-19T05:10:38.292Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think it has to be cold-blooded murder, not a utilitarian sacrifice.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-04-19T17:47:26.830Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if burning Narcissa Malfoy to death would count, or if it had too many positive externalities. (I'm less and less sure how to model Dumbledore as MoR proceeds, particularly since even if he's "supposed to be good", Eliezer is writing him and Eliezer is some sort of consequentialist; I wouldn't want to rule out the possibility that Dumbledore deemed himself indispensable and his soul's contiguousness dispensable to the war effort.)

comment by Eneasz · 2012-04-24T22:29:48.225Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It would explain why Harry always has to carry around an otherwise normal-seeming rock...

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-24T23:05:02.381Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How would it do that?

comment by Eneasz · 2012-04-25T15:57:27.564Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It was a lame joke about Dumbledore making Harry protect his Horcrux by telling him it was his Father's Rock. Nevermind me...

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-19T21:45:27.704Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't want to rule out the possibility that Dumbledore deemed himself indispensable and his soul's contiguousness dispensable to the war effort.

I actually consider that to be a very likely case.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-22T18:11:17.665Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This would explain why Dumbledore is so worried about becoming a Dark Lord. It's also less improbable than it initially seems because Harry already established that Dumbledore hasn't thought through his views about death, etc, very well, and that Dumbledore has some nearly contradictory beliefs.

The rationale that I imagine him using is: "I would sacrifice my immortal soul to save my friends mortal lives". Which is incredibly generous and would make him into a praiseworthy hero.

The most probable way I see EY working in a "Dumbledore has a Horcrux" thing is through a plot where Dumbledore is not a Dark Lord, but thinks he is, and Harry thinks Dumbledore is evil, and Quirrell is manipulating both of them. Even then, I still don't think this is very probable.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-23T02:07:15.954Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Of note - the canon version is that murder rends the soul, and a horcrux merely preserves one part of it in a separate object than your body. Dumbledore did not need to create a horcrux to have sacrificed the contiguousness of his soul, assuming canonical soulphysics at least.

Of course, I see no reason not to create a horcrux if you're doing murder anyways(unless there are significant additional costs associated), but then Dumbledore has a very different view of death than I do.

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-04-28T15:26:11.113Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This might put something of a different slant on the events surrounding the death of Narcissa Malfoy, if true.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-28T18:25:34.962Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Could you explain? I don't see how "Dumbledore killed her" is a 'different slant'.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-28T22:21:10.274Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think he's getting at the horcrux theory?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-28T22:31:15.714Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I keep getting confused by people reading "murder" as "created a Horcrux", I really should have learned that lesson by now.

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-04-29T18:13:31.571Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I hadn't previously seen any clear motive for Dumbledore to kill Narcissa. That he might have done so to help keep himself ready to defend Magical Britain at least provides a possible explanation.

Assuming that he did, in fact, do broadly what Draco said, anyhow.

Pedanterrific, I'm not conflating the two acts, merely observing that one may illuminate the other.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-30T18:47:43.546Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Evidence in favor: Dumbledore thinks it's plausible that he's the Dark Lord from the prophecy, which would require it possible to destroy all but a remnant of him.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-29T23:08:17.157Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I hadn't previously seen any clear motive for Dumbledore to kill Narcissa.

The standard theory is that he killed her to show the death eaters that attacking families of Order of the Phoenix members will now be repaid in kind.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-30T02:21:35.904Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

stranded

You mean standard? Or is this jargon I'm unfamiliar with?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-05-01T04:24:43.573Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, fixed.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-29T18:18:00.669Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You said "this" as though it were a reference to "deemed his soul's contiguousness dispensable to the war effort", which just means "he was willing to commit murder". It's the murder that splits the soul, not the Horcruxing.

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-04-30T11:02:42.649Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're correct, but I was responding to the whole statement:

I wouldn't want to rule out the possibility that Dumbledore deemed himself indispensable >and his soul's contiguousness dispensable to the war effort.

If our dear Headmaster murdered Narcissa because he thought his continued availability to Magical Britain was more important than avoiding that kind of atrocity, or keeping his soul whole then that means that he used the murder to protect himself from death, and in this context that means that he made a Horcrux.

This is, of course, all conjecture. We don't know for certain that Dumbledore himself did the deed, or that it went down the way that the surviving Malfoys believe it did. We do know that Dumbledore finds it useful for them to believe it, and we do know that he has studied how horcruxes are made as part of his Anti-Voldemort campaign, and we can be fairly sure that Madame Bones knows the truth of the matter of Narcissa's death

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-30T12:14:18.227Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What evidence do we have that Bones knows the truth of the matter? She knows that Dumbledore might be tempted to confess to Lucius in the trial scene, and after that the best link I've ever seen anyone draw between her and Narcissa is the "Somebody would burn for this!" from TSPE. The latter implies nothing, and the former doesn't require any special level of knowledge.

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-04-30T16:28:36.299Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was only thinking of the trial scene, I'm afraid.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-26T23:07:56.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't the first one to note this, but:

“That depends,” Amelia said in a hard voice. “Are you here to help us catch criminals, or to protect them from the consequences of their actions?” Are you going to try to stop the killer of my brother from getting her well-deserved Kiss, old meddler?

In Chapter 56, one chapter after the "Somebody would burn for this." quote.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-30T18:47:02.837Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Evidence in favor: Dumbledore thinks it's plausible that he's the Dark Lord from the prophecy, which would require it possible to destroy all but a remnant of him.

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-04-30T11:05:23.867Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I do wonder whether the Source of Magic, or whatever it is that determines whether a Horcrux can be made, draws a distinction between deaths in combat, deaths accidentally caused and deaths deliberately and avoidably caused.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-19T13:04:59.028Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

(upvoted chaosmosis) How is utilitarian not cold-blooded? As far as I understand, utilitarians work by assigning utility values between different outcomes and choosing the one with the most utility. That seems pretty cold-blooded.

100k years worth of life > 2 minutes of intense pain and loss of 2 years of life.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-04-20T11:10:36.404Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Utilitarianism has to be equally-blooded for all outcomes, but this can also be accomplished by being hot-blooded about everything. Instead of shrugging and not caring about the pain and two-year loss, you can mourn it while also grinning and clapping your hands and jumping around shouting for joy at the perspective of someone gaining so much life.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-19T21:43:56.706Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Because any utilitarian with a brain will also think of things like "What will the consequences on society be if this sort of thing becomes normal?".

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-19T08:38:30.738Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In ch.79 Dumbledore mentions the human sacrifice has to be "committed in coldest blood, the victim dying in horror"

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-04-19T13:51:01.102Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

How about some kind of Russian roulette -- two people get wands, one is magical, one is not, they are supposed to cast some paralysis spell and then Avada Kedavra on each other. The paralysis spell gives the victim enough time to realize they have lost, and thus to die in horror.

Yet, if average(years gained) is more than average(years lost), the transaction is good from utilitarian viewpoint. Especially if both parties are volunteers. I don't know whether this qualifies as "cold-blooded murder", though -- I would need more precise definition.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-19T14:49:15.451Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. Alternatively Harry could seize power and then force gladiators to murder each other and have perform Dark Rituals to create a Horcrux after the killings, that would probably be evil enough. Also, this would be a better sport than Quidditch, so it's win-win.

comment by nohatmaker · 2012-05-18T00:03:19.274Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One possible explanation is that the horcrux doesn't require a murder to create, but it does require a human brain to restore the backup to. This doesn't seem terribly likely, but I think it would be a elegant solution to why horcruxes need murder.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-19T20:36:20.252Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like that's a questionable assumption that Harry would be eager to test, once he found out about Horcruxes. For example, can you cast a Horcrux on the power of, say, Avada Kedavra-ing a nonmagical nonhuman creature? If not, how about a magical creature?

What if you could create a low-quality backup that way? Wouldn't it still be better than nothing?

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-19T20:37:21.486Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

OTOH if true it does provide some evidence for Dumbledore's belief that souls are real things distinct from the body they work on.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-25T00:24:38.495Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it has to be cold-blooded murder, not a utilitarian sacrifice.

Doesn't the latter tend to involve the former when the 'sacrifice' is the life of another?

comment by Lavode · 2012-04-19T22:11:03.976Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is daft. Horcruxes are not the only available means of life extention, which voids the entire rest of the debate. There is the stone, whatever he can think up independently and worst come to worst, from harrys point of view, the odds of him, personally, dying of old age before the muggles come up with a hack to fix ageing is very low. 170 years, starting the clock in 1980 gets him to 2150!

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-04-20T10:15:02.190Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

2120-ish given Time Turner abuse.

Edit: Oh wait, that's already included in your 170-year figure, isn't it?

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-22T18:05:25.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

None of those other options have a very high probability and all of them will lose lives while they are being discovered. At the very least, Harry should implement a mass Horcrux program and at the same time or after its implementation he should also continue to search for better ways to make people immortal.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-19T04:35:37.214Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If your utility function assigns utility exclusively to "time spent alive," sure. But Harry's utility function also assigns utility to "keeping people alive", regardless of time.

comment by Dias · 2012-04-19T07:49:54.903Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You could create Horcruxes as a side-product of capital punishment, something Harry doesn't seem to mind.

Maybe you could kill people who were about to die anyway, and consented? Could you use abortion in this manner?

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-22T23:44:54.674Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

With time travel you could pull off last minute injunctions on people who were going to die anyways. Think of it as Prisoner of Azkaban escapes, except instead of preventing deaths you just make use of them.

I think it'd work best as a mirror to the organ donor / organ recipient list. You sign up, and when you would normally have a catastrophic broomstick accident (or whatever), you instead have a couple medical professionals and the horcrux maker visit you 5 minutes before your appointed time.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-19T08:59:09.258Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You could create Horcruxes as a side-product of capital punishment, something Harry doesn't seem to mind.

That seems rather naive of him if so. Advocating a justice system run by humans with that kind of moral hazard is a recipe for disaster.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-19T10:15:42.705Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

capital punishment, something Harry doesn't seem to mind.

Why do you say that ? He seems very opposed to capital punishment to me, that's why he takes the resolution to try to not kill Voldemort. That's also why he wants to destroy Azkaban.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-19T16:58:15.122Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Harry's a little inconsistent about this, depending on his mood. He's definitely talked at least somewhat seriously of just rounding up and killing all former death eaters etc.

comment by moritz · 2012-05-06T11:34:34.758Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One thing I'm missing from this whole horcrux discussion is: What happens if you die of age, and have a horcrux?

People just seem to assume that once you have a horcrux, you won't wither and die.

But we have no indication to believe this is what actually happens. canon!Voldemort catches a rebounding killing curse, and the horcrux doesn't make him live on in perfect health. Instead he is very close to death, has no body, and needs to possess animals or other humans to extort some influence.

So what happens if you have a horcrux, and come close to dying from old age? It seems to me that your body would die, and you'd need some avenue to live again, and that is not a nice prospect at all. If you have access to a philospher's stone you wouldn't have such a problem, but then you wouldn't need a horcrux in the first place. What else can you do? Possess another human, who suffers greatly from it. Or the ritual that requires a servant of yours to sacrifice a limb; oh, and there's only a limited supplies of bones from your father, so you can't repeat it indefinitely.

In summary, it seems that a single death doesn't give you 100k+ years of live without additional major costs.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-19T16:53:02.953Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I think Harry didn't want Dumbledore to see him considering it. He was trying to maintain the moral high ground, so he could condemn Dumbledore for thinking it was good to die of old age. Not that I think this was a conscious act, but he sensed that thinking seriously about it wouldn't make the conversation go his way.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-04-20T06:58:06.202Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's an interesting idea, especially since Harry is entirely on board with dying wizards using their magic to fuel Unbreakable Vows. I forget, do Horcruxes require a murder of an unwilling subject specifically, or can they be created if the subject willingly sacrifices himself to fuel the ritual ?

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-04-20T15:24:03.437Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In Cannon you had to split your soul, which according to Slughorn required an act of evil. The supreme act of evil - murder.

If Slughorn is right, then no, a willing sacrifice wouldn't do it.

He implies though, that it's not the external consequence of the act that counts, so much as the internal soul wrenching aspects. For some, it might be enough to strangle a puppy. And as you progressed in evil, murder most foul might not be sufficient to tear at your soul. When you've killed four, it's easy to make it five.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-20T16:43:20.450Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For some, it might be enough to strangle a puppy. And as you progressed in evil, murder most foul might not be sufficient to tear at your soul. When you've killed four, it's easy to make it five.

You would think so, but that doesn't seem to be how it works in canon. The diary and Nagini were both Horcruxed with one murder. In fact, it's suggested that making Horcruxes makes your soul "unstable", making it easier to make more (canon HP was even unintentionally pseudo-Horcruxed).

comment by malderi · 2012-04-18T15:35:09.432Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer,

It might be useful to put a notice at the bottom of the chapter about new entries taking a while. All previous chapters have a similar note about the next update, and the lack of one on this chapter may imply the ending of the fic to some (especially those that don't read the discussions).

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-21T23:52:30.046Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Hasn't Harry basically signed up to be a Dark Lord in 85, at least by the Sorting Hat's standards?

then the gloves come off and the villains die as fast as possible; and I won't pretend that real people in real life can go through a war without sacrificing anyone...

Compare the talk with the Sorting Hat:

I am not Dark Lord material!

“Yes, you are. You really, really are.”

Why! Just because I once thought it would be cool to have a legion of brainwashed followers chanting ‘Hail the Dark Lord Harry’?

“Amusing, but that was not your first fleeting thought before you substituted something safer, less damaging. No, what you remembered was how you considered lining up all the blood purists and guillotining them.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-04-22T01:13:06.233Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Oh god, I have this mental image of Harry standing next to a blood soaked guillotine insisting that he is a Light Lord!

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-25T03:32:34.670Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Aaand lo, this shows up:

comment by pleeppleep · 2012-04-26T02:04:05.431Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is the cutie mark supposed to be a patronus? I can't tell.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-01T03:56:50.666Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Space shuttle, perhaps. What does "Mr. Swirl" mean?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-04-26T01:11:46.257Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

We managed to convert Eliezer to the herd? Yesssssssssss!

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-22T02:55:34.747Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that's quite fair to Harry - he hasn't promised to kill everyone who disagrees with him, just "the villains". That's a pretty nebulous group, but I think given context we can infer that he's not planning a Reign of Terror-style pogrom just yet.

Sounds to me like he'll pursue non-violent methods unless he thinks the only reasonable way to save lives is by killing the bad guys. I mean, if it was just Lucius Malfoy leading the other side, and Lucius was only trying to further the pure-blood cause through political maneuvering and rallies and stuff, there'd be no reason to up the ante by getting violent. On the other hand, if there are people out there who are trying to kill Harry's friends in order to bring down the anti-purist movement then NOT responding with force would be bringing a knife to a gunfight. I thought that was the point of this whole soliloquy - it's fine to oppose plots with plots, but you have to be prepared to admit that non-violent counter-plots might not be enough against someone who is willing to actually kill people to get the job done.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-22T05:33:06.687Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Let's recall the full quote:

I will make a bargain with myself, Harry said to within himself, to all his parts. I will follow the path of the superhero as far as I can. But if I can't - if anyone dies, not just an Important Character like Hermione or Professor McGonagall but a single nameless innocent bystander who catches a Cutting Curse - then the gloves come off and the villains die as fast as possible; and I won't pretend that real people in real life can go through a war without sacrificing anyone...

To be more concise: "if a single innocent bystander dies, then the villains die as fast as possible". Which itself simplifies to "the villains die as fast as possible", since it is assured that an innocent will die in a war.

If Harry can't be the superhero and save everyone, the intent to kill comes out and he kills bad guys as fast and efficiently as he can. I'll admit it's probably not the guillotine, since if he has them captured, he probably won't kill them. But owling hand grenades? Well, maybe not either. Collateral damage. But a sniper with a clear shot? Of course, as fast as he can get those clear shots.

I thought that was the point of this whole soliloquy - it's fine to oppose plots with plots, but you have to be prepared to admit that non-violent counter-plots might not be enough against someone who is willing to actually kill people to get the job done.

Harry has gone beyond that, however. He's not just willing to kill, it's the first option. "The villains die as fast as possible."

To be fair to Harry, he's obviously wrestling with the issue, and trying to find answers. I don't know that this answer is going to last too long. All or nothing, save everyone or be completely ruthless, are clearly not the only two options, and I'd expect him to figure that out in fairly short order.

Dumbledore was only as ruthless as he felt he needed to be to win. Harry is talking about being absolutely ruthless toward his enemies, and exterminating them like a roach infestation.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-22T06:37:28.841Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

it is assured that an innocent will die in a war

It is not assured that an innocent will die in war, nor is it assured that there will be a war in the first place.

In a standard political disagreement, Harry shouldn't anticipate innocent deaths. The only reason Harry has to consider innocent deaths is that somebody targeted his friends. That still doesn't imply a war worth retaliating against, any more than any other random murder which occurs every day. You don't respond to a crazy murderer or an lone assassin with indiscriminate hand grenades against everybody who opposes you.

Harry doesn't know if there's going to be a war. Right now, there's no reason for anyone except for Quirrell to expect for there to be bloodshed, and that'll only happen if Quirrell decides to start some.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-22T15:19:16.699Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But presumably "villain" here means something like "enemies actually involved in fighting this conflict, in other words who are likely to kill someone." Doesn't include people who merely have despicable opinions, or even bystanders such as Narcissa (possibly) was.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-22T05:43:47.783Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Second option. Given what you quote, he's willing to let an innocent die in order to try out his first option: "the path of the superhero." Whether that's a significant investment in the first option or not depends, I suppose, on how likely he thinks he is to prevent innocents from dying via his second option, and on whether spending an innocent life he could have saved is a significant cost.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-05-04T23:11:49.279Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

An odd thought: it will be a dramatic irony if the innocent is killed by Bellatrix. That would actually tie together the two Sybill premonitions/awakenings (first part of a prophecy is set up by Bella getting out; second part by Harry's resolution to kill the villains as fast as possible on the death of an innocent; another part still to come will be triggered by the death of the innocent itself at Bella's hand. Sybill doesn't understand the whole picture yet, which is why she can't articulate the whole prophecy.)

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-22T07:04:25.624Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Hasn't Harry basically signed up to be a Dark Lord in 85, at least by the Sorting Hat's standards?

He chose that life in chapter 10.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-20T00:30:47.102Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

By Word of God, we know that horcruxes exist in the HPMoR universe. It seems like by now we ought to be able to start figuring out what a horcrux is.

In Canon, a horcrux is a fragment of a soul. But it stands to reason that this will not be the full answer in MoR, as it's a fairly serious violation of the author's beliefs. So if we're to disregard supernatural and religious concepts, the obvious first idea is that horcruxes are storage media for some portion of a brain's data.

The problem is that most of what makes up a brain has been strongly hinted to not be the answer, either. It certainly looks like Harry is a horcrux in this universe, and Harry already thought of that possibility in different terms, yet the Sorting Hat says with 100% confidence that there is no extra "mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings" in Harry's head. And I'm disregarding out of hand any clever-schoolboy loopholes like "The horcrux is Harry's foot!"

What is left of a brain, if mind and intelligence and memory and personality and feelings (and a soul) are eliminated? It would be fitting, though a bit precious, if the answer were somehow "rationality", if you could come up with a sensible reason to say that a person's decision-making algorithms don't fall under any of those five categories. But I certainly can't; "mind" by itself seems pretty all-encompassing to me.

But I'm new to Less Wrong and not yet very well read about the art of rationality, so it could be that this will be an easy question for some of you. What explanation remains that would describe what a horcrux is? Are there accepted theories out there that I haven't seen? Or is it maybe time to start questioning my premise that Harry is a horcrux in the first place?

comment by Nornagest · 2012-04-20T00:54:52.207Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

It certainly looks like Harry is a horcrux in this universe, and Harry already thought of that possibility in different terms, yet the Sorting Hat says...

The exact phrasing of the Sorting Hat's statement was as follows:

...there is definitely nothing like a ghost - mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings - in your scar. Otherwise it would be participating in this conversation, being under my brim.

Now, anyone that's read the sort of fairytale where riddles are important should immediately be able to come up with a half-dozen loopholes in that, but I think we can dismiss most of them out of hand given that the Sorting Hat has no particular incentive to be misleading. The most promising option that remains, by my reading, is that there's nothing separate about the Horcrux contents for the Hat to key off of -- they effectively are Harry, or part of him. He's probably tapping that part of himself when he has his Dark Side episodes, at the very least, but I don't think that's the full extent of the Horcrux's influence: at various points he asks himself or people around him why he doesn't think like other children, and narrative parsimony points rather strongly to the one unique trait we know he has.

The weakest point of this theory, as best I can tell, is the lack of any (obvious) memories from Voldemort; I think we can safely assume the Hat would have found them if they were locked away somewhere within him, but on the other hand it'd be a rather poor resurrection that resulted in an amnesiac personality-clone. Riddle's diary from Chamber of Secrets also argues along these lines. Unfortunately, we haven't seen any other Horcruces in MoR, so we have nothing in-universe to compare against, and canon may not be reliable. Perhaps the relevant memories got wiped out by infantile amnesia or something.

comment by glumph · 2012-04-20T06:29:13.163Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The most promising option that remains, by my reading, is that there's nothing separate about the Horcrux contents for the Hat to key off of -- they effectively are Harry, or part of him.

That seems to be supported by this passage from Chapter 85:

Maybe because his dark side wasn't an imaginary voice like Hufflepuff; Harry might imagine his Hufflepuff part as wanting different things from himself, but his dark side wasn't like that. His "dark side", so far as Harry could tell, was a different way that Harry sometimes was. Right now, Harry wasn't angry; and trying to ask what "dark Harry" wanted was a phone ringing unanswered.

The idea is, crudely, that if Harry is a Horcrux, it is not because he has some distinct thing inside him, but because some part of Voldemort (part of his soul?) has "merged" with Harry.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-04-20T10:08:08.535Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort's Killing Curse worked. Lily's son is dead. The sacrifice magic hurt Voldemort and created a new person in Harry's body from Voldemort's mind, who we've been reading about ever since. The hat doesn't notice this because it never met the previous Harry. Voldemort knows all this and is treating Harry as his mind-child.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-20T18:18:32.860Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

So Harry 1.0 was overwritten by Tom Riddle 2.0, but this time Tom got a loving family?

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-21T03:06:14.551Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I just realized that the existence of the Dark Side is evidence against this.

Harry would be all Dark Side if his original personality had been overwritten.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-24T22:31:56.007Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It could be that horcruxes performed on things with brains are intensely unreliable -- so, instead of the brain being able to assert itself over any dumb matter it's bound to, like a book, it suddenly finds itself fighting for control with matter that has a 'soul' of its own. In this case, the horcrux gets trapped in the brain of an infant child, and you sort of split the difference - the horcrux is partially destroyed by years of being trapped in a baby brain, but leaves certain skills and intellect and preferences behind, integrated into Harry's brain.

An alternative hypothesis is that the horcrux is inactive, or unconscious, in some form, and has been integrated into Harry's brain, and Quirrelmort has a plan that involves waking it up at some point in the future if Harry can't be pushed into his dark side by subtler means.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-20T18:43:03.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'll note that that passage really doesn't shift any likelihood away from this explanation.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-20T21:07:00.910Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That explanation would have been a pretty good one, right up until the Humanism chapters, where exposure to a Dementor turns Harry directly into Voldemort for a few minutes. After that it doesn't really hold water anymore.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-20T23:52:17.157Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd agree that it shifts probability away from that explanation, since passing out and waking up without a shred of compassion for other people is certainly less a reaction you expect from someone with only some fairly normal personality quirks than someone with something really unusual going on, although I'll note that Harry has always had something of a conflict between the part of him that cares about and wants the best for everyone, and the part of him which doesn't like or relate to other people, and this is certainly not unique or indicative of multiple personalities. But to say that exposure to a dementor "turns Harry directly into Voldemort" seems like jumping to conclusions to me. If we didn't already know that in the original canon, Harry was inadvertently made a horcrux of Voldemort, I'd say it was an extremely premature narrowing of the hypothesis space.

Voldemort might think like Harry did when he was dementor-warped, but we've never gotten to see inside his head, and he didn't act like Harry acted.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-22T00:25:47.822Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It's not merely that Harry thought a certain way:

There was a compulsion to chew and swallow chocolate. The response to compulsion was killing.

People had gathered around and stared. That was annoying. The response to annoyance was killing.

Other people were chattering in the background. That was insolent. The response to insolence was to inflict pain, but since none of them were useful, killing them would be simpler.

"The response to compulsion was killing." Not just "He wanted to kill Dumbledore". The way it's phrased implies a memory, a history, a system of behavior that was predetermined and practiced. The only way that can be is if Harry has directly and fully assumed the mind of someone who has already established all that in their past. For me, "turn[ed] directly into Voldemort" is as accurate a way as any to describe that, unless it's someone other than Voldemort he turned directly into.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-22T04:56:50.255Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"He wanted to kill Dumbledore" would have been poor dramatic phrasing. "The response to compulsion was killing" could mean that he has a memory and history of this, or it could simply mean that in his state of mind, killing seems like the natural response to being compelled to do things by others. If I were trying to write that, I would sooner write "the response to compulsion was killing" than "He wanted to kill Dumbledore."

The fact that Harry underwent a serious personality change on exposure to the dementor, and Hermione speculated that such a thing might happen to a person who already had that darker personality within them, is a substantial piece of evidence that Harry has something more unusual going on than some personality quirks. The phrasing used in that scene, on the other hand, I do not think can reasonably be treated as evidence of anything in particular. In fact, I can't think of a single explanation for Harry's personality change which would make the phrasing seem weird, given that artistic impact of the words being used is as important a consideration as their connotations.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-22T20:33:47.103Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't read the 'the response to X was Y' approach as experience as Voldemort. I thought it was the goal-orientedness side, the intent to kill. The algorithm of 'I am here, I want to be there, where is the shortest route'.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-22T18:24:31.827Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I can't imagine Voldemort or Quirrell thinking so crudely, even in terms of goal systems.

comment by AnotherIdiot · 2012-09-10T15:47:20.497Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that the horcrux doesn't need memories. The stored fragment of the soul serves not as a means of resurrection, but to sort of "anchor" the soul to the living world. So the main part of the soul, the part that stays within the living body until death, is left to linger. There is evidence for this: in canon, the first time Voldemort dies, his soul still lives, gathers strength, and then gets a servant to help him, without any contact with the horcruxes.

And I expect that Voldemort actually planned on making Harry a horcrux; what better protection against a prophetic rival than to make him have to suicide to kill you?

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-20T08:53:08.429Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"In your scar." Not "in you", not "in your head", not "in your brain".

May as well have said there wasn't a ghost in your left pinky toe, for as much as "in your scar" rules out anything.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-20T09:00:14.162Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The implication of the next part was that IF there was a different spirit anywhere in harry it would be participating in the conversation. Considering how frank the hat is about Harry's potential for evil, I don't think it would have lied in a petty fashion like this.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-20T18:05:58.905Z · score: -5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Otherwise it would be participating...

The It being referred to is the nonexistent entity in his scar. Not any possible entity or intelligence. Like the one in his left earlobe.

comment by gRR · 2012-04-20T12:35:30.746Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

We can try to assume that a horcrux is literally a fragment of a soul, in the Hofstadterian sense. It is then indeed an abstract algorithm (or a set of them), and it need not include memory and separate intelligence, although it would include personality and feelings.

Extrapolating on what we know about how the Source of Magic interprets things, we should expect inanimate object horcruxes to be generally passive, while alive horcruxes to incorporate the algorithms into their own minds, although still somewhat separate.

[It'd be cool to read about how a horcruxed software would behave.]

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-20T01:22:15.180Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In Canon, a horcrux is a fragment of a soul. But it stands to reason that this will not be the full answer in MoR, as it's a fairly serious violation of the author's beliefs

I would guess that the author sees conservation of energy as pretty important also. I would not be at all surprised if souls really exist in the HPMoR universe.

comment by glumph · 2012-04-20T06:23:42.324Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Va gur Nhgube'f Abgrf sbe Puncgref 39--40 (Cergraqvat gb Or Jvfr), Ryvrmre nccrnef gb or qryvorengryl inthr nf gb jurgure gur UCZBE havirefr unf na nsgreyvsr. Ng yrnfg, gung'f ubj V ernq guvf:

Vg'f na vagrerfgvat dhrfgvba nf gb jurgure Uneel vf orunivat nf n Syng Rnegu Ngurvfg jvgu erfcrpg gb uvf fxrcgvpvfz nobhg na nsgreyvsr. Gb or engvbany, lbh jnag gb unir gur fbeg bs zvaq gung, vs vg svaqf vgfrys va n jbeyq jvgu ab nsgreyvsr, qbrfa'g oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr, naq vs vg svaqf vgfrys va n jbeyq jvgu na nsgreyvsr, qbrf oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr. W. X. Ebjyvat pyrneyl oryvrirq gung gur Cbggreirefr unq na nsgreyvsr, naq jebgr vg nppbeqvatyl; vs Uneel svaqf uvzfrys va gung havirefr, naq ur fgvyy qbrfa'g oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr, gung'f abg arprffnevyl n tbbq fvta sbe uvf engvbanyvgl.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-24T22:33:27.179Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lrf, ohg fbzrgvzrf gur rivqrapr ninvynoyr gb lbh vf zvfyrnqvat. V qba'g guvax gur rkvfgrag rivqrapr whfgvsvrf oryvrs va na nsgreyvsr, tvira gur xabjyrqtr ninvynoyr gb Uneel.

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-04-20T18:30:08.210Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It certainly looks like Harry is a horcrux in this universe, and Harry already thought of that possibility in different terms, yet the Sorting Hat says with 100% confidence that there is no extra "mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings" in Harry's head.

I would add that in Cannon, Harry is a horcrux, which adds a fair amount of weight to the idea.

Some possibilities for why the hat would make the statement;

  • Harry's scar isn't a horcrux.
  • A horcrux is nothing like a ghost, mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings.
  • The sorting hat was wrong, or lying.
  • Something about Harry-the-horcrux prevents detection by sorting hats. For example, it can't be active (and therefore the hat can't detect it) unless Harry is in dark side mode.
  • Something about Volemort's horcrux is different than the hat expects. For example, an occlumens can hide from detection.

While I like the idea that the horcrux is only active when Harry is in dark-side mode, I can't see any reason to favor that theory.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-04-20T00:54:32.582Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted. I don't have any enlightening ideas about the nature of Horcruxes, but I have always wondered (given what the Hat said) why so many of the theories in these threads take for granted that Harry is a Horcrux, and I invite anyone who subscribes to this theory to explain how they reconcile it with the Hat's statement.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-20T01:16:35.714Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I think the repeated and explicit naming of Harry's Dark Side as a thing within and separate from the rest of Harry is a decent reason to take for granted that Harry's a horcrux. But then, we had decent reason to take for granted that Lucius thought Harry was Voldemort, until we learned a couple of chapters ago of the mysterious unnamed hero from the seventies.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-20T01:30:09.290Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But then, we had decent reason to take for granted that Lucius thought Harry was Voldemort, until we learned a couple of chapters ago of the mysterious unnamed hero from the seventies.

Am I misreading you, or do you think the new information about Noble Hero is evidence against the idea that Lucius thinks Harry is Voldemort? If that's so, could you elaborate as to why?

comment by 75th · 2012-04-20T15:37:30.236Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, eh, that statement was actually based on a major stupid error that I didn't realize was a major stupid error until I tried to type it just now. Quirrell's Yule speech made Amelia Bones think Quirrell was this Noble Hero; Harry's Yule speech made Lucius Malfoy think Harry was… someone. I stupidly pattern-matched this Noble Hero into that blank, somehow forgetting the fact that the speeches involved were not the same or made by the same person and were in fact in direct opposition to one another. If I hadn't been so coy about it I would have discovered this before embarrassing myself.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-04-20T07:06:04.130Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I think the repeated and explicit naming of Harry's Dark Side as a thing within and separate from the rest of Harry is a decent reason to take for granted that Harry's a horcrux.

Take for granted? Maybe Harry has read some IFS stuff in with all the cognitive science, math, philosophy, modern physics, and other things that he's read.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-19T20:11:46.813Z · score: 8 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I guess this has come up before, but I take it the reason to be Voldemort is that as soon as muggles get load of magic, they'll figure out how become magical, transmute 3 stage thermonuclear devices from concrete, apparate them over cities, etc. So magic means the total removal of all technological or economic restrictions on nuclear warfare. And time travel.

So if you figured the muggles would discover the magical world pretty soon, and if you wanted there to be any people at all in the future, you'd have to make the society of magical knowledge completely closed. This means taking over, at least, the magical world and probably the muggle one too. And in order to prevent anyone from seeing magic as technology and doing productive research on it, you'd have to make it completely scary, so that their fear and moral hatred would override their ability to study it proficiently.

If that's true, then muggle science is similar a soon-to-be-uncontrollable AI (it is at least by many orders of magnitude a better optimizing system then the magical world's own research efforts), and Voldemort is a last ditch effort at reboxing. If that's right, it seems hard to argue with Voldemort.

comment by Nominull · 2012-04-20T18:51:23.156Z · score: 31 (33 votes) · LW · GW

I think people in the Less Wrong community are a little too fast to analogize any existential threat to the threat of rogue AI. The threat of people blowing up the world with nuclear weapons seems a lot more analogous to the threat of people blowing up the world with nuclear weapons.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-18T07:17:49.991Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

In the 40,000 years since anatomically modern humans had migrated to Australia from Asia

BTW - this was the accepted figure as of 1991, but molecular evidence suggests 62,000-75,000 years. Which makes Harry's point even more strongly: it took a long time for humans as we know them to invent what we think of as basic stuff.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-18T07:28:29.555Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

At a cursory glace the date you cite seems to be for the time the population they are descended from split from African populations, not for when they arrived in Australia. Genetic evidence cannot show where your ancestors lived, only how they were related to other populations (which might imply things about where they lived provided you already know that for the other populations)

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-18T08:50:02.700Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, you're right - this piece gives 50,000 years ago for the arrival.

But the point stands as to the minimum time humans were anatomically and cognitively modern.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-04-18T09:08:05.714Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Genetic evidence can't show where your ancestors lived, but it can gesture furtively in one direction while mouthing "look over there". Even in hunter-gatherer populations, there's enough mobility that it shouldn't take anywhere near 22,000 years for African genes to make their way to Australia (or to wherever the proto-Australians were living at the time).

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-18T20:10:56.372Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I approve of your stealth xkcd reference.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T12:27:46.331Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's a big difference between a few people making their way over and genes achieving fixation.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-09-13T04:15:40.402Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Something is definitely funny with Goyle. He's able to do martial arts, is extremely good with a broomstick, and doesn't trust Draco when Draco lies to him. At first, my interpretation was just that Goyle was much more capable in this version. That's still a possibility, but I feel like if that were the case then maybe Crabbe also would have been made more capable. I feel as though Goyle will do something important soon, definitely.

I even briefly entertained the possibility that Goyle was a Mary Sue, for about ten seconds, but that idea doesn't have anything to recommend it besides the humor of it.

comment by matheist · 2012-09-13T06:43:54.289Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

He also spent a long time with the sorting hat.

"Goyle, Gregory!" There was a long, tense moment of silence under the Hat. Almost a minute.

Chapter 9

comment by cultureulterior · 2012-05-03T15:59:22.962Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think that Salazar's Serpent was a trap Tom Riddle fell into. It was a Langford Basilisk Horcrux, like the book Ginny got in the original timeline, so When Tom Riddle read out the information embedded, he was possessed by Salazar Slytherin. That's why nppbeqvat gb Ibyqrzbeg/Evqqyr/Fnynmne vg frrzf gb unir whfg orra n terng frecrag, abg n onfvyvfx, juvpu vf whfg jung ur jbhyq fnl. Guvf nyfb rkcynvaf gur qnzntrq guvaxvat Uneel frrf.

This might well explain Harry as well, since in OT Voldemort had a giant serpent hanging around. He might not have had one in this timeline, but if he did, it would explain a lot of why he kept it around- it was a horcrux duplicator/imprinter.

comment by avichapman · 2012-06-19T03:46:40.588Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've been seeing stuff like this all thread: "That's why nppbeqvat gb Ibyqrzbeg/Evqqyr/Fnynmne vg frrzf gb unir whfg orra n terng frecrag, abg n onfvyvfx, juvpu vf whfg jung ur jbhyq fnl. Guvf nyfb rkcynvaf gur qnzntrq guvaxvat Uneel frrf."

What does it mean? I assume it's some sort of code.

comment by arundelo · 2012-06-19T04:03:56.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is rot13. It's used to hide spoilers. You can decode it at rot13.com.

comment by avichapman · 2012-06-19T04:15:47.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. Now I'm in on the secret. :)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-01T16:08:35.646Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In an attempt to find Quirrell's motives, I have listed the evidence I have about him, and now have a theory I have not seen on LessWrong or anywhere. I did it mostly mentally, but I'll try to put down all the evidence I took into account as unbiasedly as possible. I assume you know Quirrell = Voldemorte = Tom Riddle.

-Quirrell said Harry's wish was impossible. The wish was that Quirrell come back again the next year as the Defense Professor at Hogwarts. He also burned the paper on which the wish was written and he did not tell the audience what it was. If Quirrell intended to come back the next year, he would not have minded the question. Therefore, he is probably only staying a year, but he does not want most people to know.

-He took Harry's "Dark Side" explanation in stride, which normally should have sounded like a terrible excuse. He therefore probably knows something about it.

-Hermione claimed that Quirrell wanted the Dementor to eat Harry. I see no reason for Hermione to have lied. Quirrell stopped the Dementor's feeding after Harry had already turned to his Dark Side by telling Flitwick to remove the wand. After this event, Harry's sense of Doom grew stronger. I doubt that Harry's Dark Side coming out would have been a permanent change, however, simply He didn't seem to do much else to turn Harry dark, except making him say that his destroying of Skeeter was a good thing, and that can easily be explained by him being annoyed by Harry's whining. I take it from this that he wanted to get Harry's dark side out more, and that that was the intention behind the Dementor, but he's not trying to turn Harry evil per se. -Quirrell also seemed very eager to believe Harry would have the ambition of becoming a Dark Wizard. I take it from this that he expected Harry's Dark Side to have more control over him.

-He gave a speech stating that magical Britain should unite with a mark under a good leader, inferring that it should be Harry, and claimed that Harry's next speech which said the opposite was interfering with his plots. He also has helped the students of Hogwarts grow stronger and wiser. I therefore presume that he wants light strong, because he could just as easily have been a bad professor, given Hogwart's track record.

-He was able to go to Harry's house thanks to a phone book, which probably required Harry's Stepfather's last name to find. This means he couldn't have kidnapped Harry before meeting him in Hogwarts, but that he could if Harry went back home for the summer.

-He rescued Bellatrix Black from Azkaban, but tried to do so subtly, and it would probably have been impossible to save her without Harry learning the True Patronus, which was not predictable. I know 2 possible uses to Bellatrix: come back to life, or get his wand back. Quirrell had the opportunity to kidnap Harry and still have Bellatrix Black (right after they had saved her, he could have just not gone back to Mary's Place and taken Harry with him), which would have allowed him to come back to life in full strength, but he didn't take it. The plan was supposed to go unnoticed, but that failed, which made Dumbledore, Minerva, and Snape suspect Voldemorte is coming back, preventing Harry from going back home for the summer. He then wanted to make a plot that would make everyone believe Harry had defeated Voldemorte again, so I presume he doesn't plan on coming back as Voldemorte, at least not yet.

-Quirrell had an opportunity to kill Dumbledore (when he was weakened by the Dementor), but he didn't take it. His plan is therefore not to kill Dumbledore, or at least he needs to get other things done before killing him, and taking that opportunity would have prevented him from accomplishing them because he would have been ousted from Hogwarts.

-Quirrell knows how to get back to life by stealing a body, though it has negative side-effects that get worse over time.

-Harry and Quirrell are very similar in terms of wand, parseltongue, and they have some weird magical resonance, and a sense of doom when they approach each other.

-Quirrell has told Harry not to trust Dumbledore. After saying "I don't suppose you have a common enemy" to Harry, Hermione, and Draco, he glanced at Dumbledore almost imperceptibly fast. The only thing I can make of this is that he doesn't like Dumbledore.

-Quirrell blocked attempts to identify him by the aurors who knew he was not Quirrell, but the Hogwarts map couldn't find him when asked to find Tom Riddle, his true name. I'm thinking body-stealing makes you that person for all things linked to the name of the purpose, which would make the spell identify him as Quirrell. He doesn't want the aurors to identify him as such, however, because they already know that he's not Quirrell, unlike Dumbledore. Update: as moritz has pointed out, Quirrell wasn't there when Dumbledore asked the map to find Tom Riddle. I also assumed that Amelia Bones was referring to Tom Riddle when she was talking about a person sorted into slytherin in his same year, though Eliezer has confirmed that this is not so by changing the year of birth. So I have no evidence for this anymore. But come to think of it, even if the map would identify Quirrell as Tom Riddle, that probably means that Quirrell doesn't know about the map, and therefore he hasn't planned for it.

-Quirrell tried to get rid of Hermione. I don't think he intended to get rid of Draco, because he saved Draco from death, and had Harry not beaten all odds and saved Hermione, Draco would probably not have been removed from Hogwarts by his father. He probably expected her to go to Azkaban, but he would settle with her going to some far-away school. I can think of 2 motives for this: turn Harry to his Dark Side more, or get rid of Hermione (probably both).

So what is Quirrell plotting? I think he's planning on stealing Harry's body like he stole Quirrell's, at the end of the year when Harry goes back for the summer. He's been bringing out Harry's Dark Side, which he probably created inside Harry (maybe as a "horcrux", whatever that is), because that would allow him to better fit inside the body. He doesn't want to turn Harry evil, however; he wants to become the hero again as Harry Potter, and become the ruler of Britain under a light mark. He's also trying to harm Dumbledore, though, because he doesn't like him and is a threat. Maybe he has other motives as well for harming Dumbledore. He got rid of Hermione because she is the most likely to notice a change in Harry, and he didn't do it during the Christmas vacations because it would be suspicious if both Harry changed and the Defense Professor disappeared at the same time, unless it was summer and the professor disappeared because he left for normal reasons.

Update 1: I read some more comments, and I've noticed that some people think Quirrell crippled Harry by turning him into an Occlumens and teaching him to lose. I disagree. Harry learned to pretend to lose, not to give up. I think this was more a measure to prevent Harry from self-destructing himself like he almost did when fighting Snape. And Harry becoming Occlumens, while preventing him from testifying under veritasaerum, was probably mostly to allow Quirrell to use Harry in his plots without the danger of Dumbledore legilimensing something important.

Update 2: It's interesting that I used an euphemism for the word "hate" when describing Quirrell's relationship with Dumbledore. The word "hate" just felt too strong to describe any emotion Quirrell could have towards others. Quirrell is far too good a manipulator, he even makes me feel as though he's too collected and calm to actually hate anyone.

comment by moritz · 2012-05-02T12:42:58.227Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

but the Hogwarts map couldn't find him when asked to find Tom Riddle, his true name.

Note that Quirrel was at the Ministry for Magic for interrogation while Dumbledore used the map to search for Riddle.

comment by DanArmak · 2012-05-06T00:55:56.147Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think he's planning on stealing Harry's body like he stole Quirrell's, at the end of the year when Harry goes back for the summer.

Harry isn't going home for the summer.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-07T17:46:33.145Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know that, but he was originally going to go home for the summer. Harry has accidentally foiled it by messing up in Azkaban and effectively forcing himself to stay in Hogwarts, but that doesn't change what Quirrell's plan was in the first place. So now Quirrell will either need to find a way to remove Voldemorte from Dumbledore's fears, or come up with a new plan altogether. I guess I should have been more clear in my comment, sorry about that.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-05-03T01:51:39.077Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Deathly Hallows need to appear in Quirrell's motivations at some point.

Also, the prophecy.

I feel like the end-game conflict will involve Snape doing something cool. But I'm biased because Canon!Snape was my favorite character and I'd really like for this Snape to be similarly cool, even if he turns out to be playing for the wrong team.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-05-11T16:11:33.221Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Deathly Hallows need to appear in Quirrell's motivations at some point.

Why? They didn't in the original canon, and while they're useful, there's no obvious reason whatever he's planning must hinge on using them.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-05-11T16:22:53.463Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry told Quirrell about the symbol that is on the Deathly Hallows and Quirrell shortly after cut the meeting short. From chapter 40:

"Anyway," Harry said hastily, "I did think fast enough not to suggest the obvious idea about the Resurrection Stone in front of Dumbledore. Have you ever seen a stone with a line, inside a circle, inside a triangle?"

The deathly chill seemed to draw back, fold into itself, as the ordinary Professor Quirrell returned. "Not that I can recall," Professor Quirrell said after a while, a thoughtful frown on his face. "That is the Resurrection Stone?"

Harry set aside his teacup, then drew on his saucer the symbol he had seen on the inside of his cloak. And before Harry could take out his own wand to cast the Hover Charm, the saucer went floating obligingly across the table toward Professor Quirrell. Harry really wanted to learn that wandless stuff, but that, apparently, was far above his current curriculum.

Professor Quirrell studied Harry's tea-saucer for a moment, then shook his head; and a moment later, the saucer went floating back to Harry.

Harry put his teacup back on the saucer, noting absently as he did so that the symbol he'd drawn had vanished. "If you happen to see a stone with that symbol," said Harry, "and it does talk to the afterlife, do let me know. I have a few questions for Merlin or anyone who was around in Atlantis."

"Quite," said Professor Quirrell. Then the Defense Professor lifted up his teacup again, and tipped it back as though to finish the last of what was there. "By the way, Mr. Potter, I fear we shall have to cut short today's visit to Diagon Alley. I was hoping it would - but never mind. Let it stand that there is something else I must do this afternoon."

And of course in canon, he has seen the Stone but didn't realize what it was at the time.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-05-11T17:40:28.980Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's good reason to suspect that he's now in possession of the Stone, but I suspect that whatever plans he's laid were made far in advance of his coming into possession of it. His statement to Harry that he wouldn't turn down a chance to try it may be the exact truth; in his place I certainly wouldn't have made plans hinging on it before knowing how I'd get it.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-26T02:47:14.721Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I just thought of something.

When Quirrell shows Harry the stars in outer space he's probably getting the images from his probe-Horcrux.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T02:49:36.021Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Think one step further. What does this imply about his other Horcruxes?

comment by wirov · 2012-04-26T15:24:38.933Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That they're in places with a not-so-good view? In chapter 46, Harry guesses:

"Well," said Harry, "besides trying to get [something you don't want found] into the molten core of the planet, you could bury it in solid rock a kilometer underground in a randomly selected location - maybe teleport it in, if there's some way to do that blindly, or drill a hole and repair the hole afterward; the important thing would be not to leave any traces leading there, so it's just an anonymous cubic meter somewhere in the Earth's crust. You could drop it into the Mariana Trench, that's the deepest depth of ocean on the planet - or just pick some random other ocean trench, to make it less obvious.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T15:27:38.908Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Apparently I was being excessively coy. I meant they can't be destroyed without his knowledge. (Also, I notice you left out the stratosphere one.)

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-26T20:04:50.026Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you meant without his immediate knowledge then I interpret it as evidence pointing more towards the opposite conclusion, although it doesn't point very far either way. He possibly wouldn't bother to go to check on his Horcruxes if he was immediately aware of what their condition is. It's only weak evidence but it points against the idea that he's aware of all of his soul-parts at once.

if you meant that he'll find out as soon as he goes to check on them, then I agree.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T20:29:41.356Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by "goes to check on them"? I just meant he could set aside an hour every Sunday to cast "view-of-space, view-of-sky, view-of-dirt, view-of-magma, view-of-ocean" for five seconds each. Presumably the spell would fail or something if the viewpoint Horcrux had been destroyed.

ETA: Quirrell states to Harry (so take with an entire shaker of salt, but still) that the spell takes a lot out of him to cast, so he couldn't cast it again "today, or tomorrow either". Even assuming that's true, that just imposes a three-day break between individual checks, so the longest a Horcrux would go unexamined would be two weeks. Or he could leave the Spacecrux out of the usual lineup because it's relatively unreachable, just check it on special occasions (and to show off for Harry).

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-27T04:51:16.383Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's the type of thing I was referring to with "goes to check on them", I didn't mean to imply that he moved his physical body.

Dualism makes for stupid problems with grammar.

comment by wirov · 2012-04-26T15:39:07.412Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, okay. If I remember correctly, this was suggested by Dumbledore in canon (with some handwaving about Voldemort not noticing it, because his soul is too hurt), that's probably why this didn't occur to me.

I read the scene as the stratosphere idea being a precursor to the space idea, not an idea on it's own. Although after re-reading, I'm not so sure anymore…

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T15:44:44.841Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Void/Ether.) Also, canonMort settled on six Horcruxes because he thought splitting his soul into seven pieces would have some beneficial effect (never specified, perhaps because his first 'crux was destroyed by the time he made the sixth). If the stratosphere doesn't qualify, that leaves a Horcrux unaccounted for.

comment by moritz · 2012-04-26T12:21:20.806Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You mean, like, the book he gave Harry?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T14:57:05.986Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That isn't a Horcrux, from Word of EY.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-26T14:23:40.619Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why do we think that this is a Horcrux? Just canonical similarities?

comment by moritz · 2012-04-27T12:33:18.923Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. That and the fact the book is resistent to rough handling. Though of course if I were a magical archaeologist, I'd also find some spell that makes those valuable artefacts as indestructible as possible.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-26T12:37:44.701Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That explains something that was bugging me about the star spell, namely why the sun and the moon don't dominate the view field.

comment by Nisan · 2012-05-19T13:37:00.465Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It also explains why the spell has to be kept a secret.

comment by 4hodmt · 2012-05-19T12:58:33.191Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The moon wouldn't be visible as a distinct point of light from the sun, and while the sun would be bright enough to attract attention, various people have suggested it could be positioned directly below Harry's feet to avoid notice.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-26T14:22:48.424Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, this led to a different thought immediately afterwards which I didn't have time to post.

This could explain (some of) Quirrell's dormant-times. He's visiting his other Horcruxes and checking on them. It doesn't fit perfectly because I wouldn't expect it to take much longer than a few seconds for him to check on them. Maybe he's possessing people during those times, or something.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-04-26T17:21:24.730Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps a better suggestion is that his "down time" involves synchronisation of his memories/program state between Horcruxes, and it gets worse the further Pioneer moves from Earth... Even with magic, there's no way round speed of light limits.

Quirrell probably wasn't expecting that, which could explain why his days as a Dark Lord are numbered (and also explains why he's desperate to train up Harry as a replacement, assuming his goal of uniting the wizarding world is sincere).

I'm also wondering if the 6 hour limit of Time-Turners is a crucial variable somehow, so that he could synch at distances up to 6 light-hours, but not otherwise. Does anyone know when the Pioneer 11 probe got more than 6 light-hours away from Earth? Was it around 1991/1992??

comment by Gastogh · 2012-04-26T17:46:56.317Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

As of February 8, 2012, sunlight takes 11.9 hours to get to Pioneer 11 at its approximate distance. (Wikipedia)

It's been on its way since April 1973 (for right about 39 years), so assuming a steady speed, it would've passed the six-hour limit roughly 19,5 years ago, or in late 1992.

comment by Carwajalca · 2013-07-18T07:59:02.181Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Pioneer 11 is moving at a speed of 11.4km/s relative to the Sun. The Earth's orbital speed is around 30km/s. Hence it's possible that the Earth-Pioneer distance increases to over six hours for a while and then drops again.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-26T20:10:21.323Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What time is it in terms of Potter Time? The books take place a few decades ago but I forget exactly when.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T20:38:53.804Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

April 1992.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-27T05:24:41.065Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Given that Pioneer fooled around in the Solar System for a while, making flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, our calculation should be a bit different. 1992 is a useful lower bound, which we arrived at by calculating what would happen if Pioneer took a straight path out into interstellar space. In fact, it flew by Saturn in September 1979. A bit of trigonometry tells me that if it left Saturn in a straight line tangent to that planet's orbit, it would probably reach the critical distance some time between '95 and '97, depending on Earth's own position in its orbit. This rough map seems to suggest that it did take that approximate path, but it's hardly accurate. If Pioneer skirted closer to the sun again, inside Saturn's orbit on it's way out then the critical distance comes later, but if it veered away harder then it comes earlier.

I had typed my calculations up, but I lost them just now when I accidentally pressed the back button. Hell's bells and buckets of blood.

Anyway, basically what this tells us is that Quirrel probably has at least a few years of grace before Pioneer gets too far away, if that is in fact what's going on. I think there's a fair likelihood that this theory is correct, but given what I've said here, I don't think the timing of the Pioneer's critical distance should be counted as strong evidence in favour of that.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-04-27T17:35:52.550Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the calculations... I had a rough guess that 6 light-hours was reached some time in the 90s, but didn't know enough about the flight-path to check this.

I believe that the 6 light-hour limit only makes sense as a theory if Quirrell is going to hit it in this school-year (and it explains why it is impossible for him to continue as a teacher next year). If he's still got a few years grace it doesn't work so well, and I suspect that Eliezer would have done a detailed calculation if he was relying on this theory, rather than a rough-and-ready / linear interpolation calculation.

However, I still like the idea of Quirrell being hoisted by his own genius petard (and by his hatred of science, since if he'd bothered to study it, rather than just using it, he might have avoided that mistake).

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-27T18:25:34.789Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

However, I still like the idea of Quirrell being hoisted by his own genius petard (and by his hatred of science, since if he'd bothered to study it, rather than just using it, he might have avoided that mistake).

How's he supposed to know that the Horcrux connection craps out at six light-hours? Presumably he's the first to have a Horcrux anywhere but Earth.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-04-27T20:51:47.074Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

From Chapter 61:

(weighing, Minerva knew, the possibility that he might want to go back more than two hours from this instant; for you couldn't send information further back in time than six hours, not through any chain of Time-Turners)

If information cannot travel back more than six hours, and a "soul" (stored on a Horcrux) is information (as Quirrell describes it), then it is a reasonable guess that the soul cannot travel over a spatial separation of more than 6 light-hours. Further than that, and it seems the soul parts must fall out of synch, though exactly what happens then is anyone's guess. Does Quirrell die? Are there two separate Quirrells, one stranded permanently on Pioneer, and the other on Earth? Can the one on Earth be killed, even if the one on Pioneer is never destroyed?

comment by APMason · 2012-04-27T21:49:50.044Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

If information cannot travel back more than six hours

This does seem to be a constraint that exclusively affects the time-turners. Otherwise prophesies wouldn't be possible. It also seems like it's an artificial rule rather than a deep law of magic because after the Stanford Prison experiment, Bones tells Dumbledore that she has information from four hours in the future and asks whether he'd like to know it. That there is relevant information from four hours in the future is information from the future - she would not have said that if it were otherwise, so it seems there must be exemptions of that kind.

Alternative hypothesis: prophesies are jive, and Eliezer didn't think of the other thing.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-07-18T04:30:50.938Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Bones tells Dumbledore that she has information from four hours in the future and asks whether he'd like to know it. That there is relevant information from four hours in the future is information from the future - she would not have said that if it were otherwise, so it seems there must be exemptions of that kind.

That's information to a careful logical thinker. There's a lot of evidence that magic to a large extent acts as a naive person might expect reality to act. Broomsticks and the bag of holding are both examples of this.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-28T02:11:24.462Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

If information cannot travel back more than six hours, and a "soul" (stored on a Horcrux) is information (as Quirrell describes it), then it is a reasonable guess that the soul cannot travel over a spatial separation of more than 6 light-hours.

More then 6 hours in what reference frame?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-19T03:02:05.205Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The reference frame of the Heart of Magic, naturally.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-10-16T20:02:23.173Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Returning to this thread after a few months...

I see Eliezer has responded in a way which kills my theory stone cold. (Though it was dead anyway if the 6 light-hour separation by Pioneer wasn't reached in 1992.)

But basically what I was thinking was this. Consider any two space-time points x and y. Either they have a time-like separation, or a space-like separation or a null separation. If they have a space-like separation then there is a particular inertial reference-frame in which they are only separated in space, not in time. If the spatial separation in that frame is > 6 light-hours, then information cannot travel from x to y. (Or, if you want to think of it in terms of a causal graph, and Pearl's intervention calculus, then every intervention to the graph at x will leave events at y unaltered.)

Incidentally, this formulation implies the rule that "information can't go back in time more than 6 hours" and implies it in any inertial reference frame. For if information could travel from x to a point z, more than 6 hours in the past of x (but at the same place) in some reference frame, then it could be sent further along a future-pointing null vector from z to y (by an ordinary light-beam), where y is > 6 light-hours from x in the same reference frame. So the restriction of "no spatial jumps > 6 light-hours" neatly implies "no temporal jumps back > 6 hours".

Basically, this looks something like the Minkowski interval formulation: there is no privileged reference frame, just a new constant of nature (i.e. whatever 6 light-hours translates to in Planck lengths).

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-10-17T03:55:19.213Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But basically what I was thinking was this. Consider any two space-time points x and y. Either they have a time-like separation, or a space-like separation or a null separation. If they have a space-like separation then there is a particular inertial reference-frame in which they are only separated in space, not in time. If the spatial separation in that frame is > 6 light-hours, then information cannot travel from x to y. (Or, if you want to think of it in terms of a causal graph, and Pearl's intervention calculus, then every intervention to the graph at x will leave events at y unaltered.)

The problem is that points that 6 light-hours away from X have points more than 6 light-hours away from X in their future light cone.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-10-17T19:25:11.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So the issue here is that we might have three points x, y and z, where x and y have a space-like separation, y and z have a time-like or null separation (which is future pointing from y to z) and x and z have a space-like separation. Further, d(x,y) < 6 (measured in light hours), but d(x,z) > 6.

If so, then the principle I described would prevent information passing from x to z. So it either prevents information transmission from x to y; or if a Time-Turner has already been used to get info from x to y, prevents the further transmission from y to z. The last would be a very interesting effect, because either there is no communication attempt from y to z at all, or the usual communication methods - like light-beams - are attempted, but fail for some reason.

Alternatively, suppose the principle I described is wrong, and info can move from x back in time to x', then forward to y, then to z by the usual physical means. Then I believe we can make d(x,z) arbitrarily large and this opens up some even more exciting possibilities.

Consider a two-dimensional example, with one space and one time co-ordinate - space first then time. Fix a particular inertial reference frame. Point x is (0,0), point x' is (0, -delta) i.e. a tiny bit in the past of x. Point y is (delta, 0) i.e. a tiny bit spatially separated from x, and then point z is (delta+t, t) i.e. t hours in the future from y along a light beam through x' and y.

Then d(x,z) = Sqrt( (delta+t)^2 - t^2 ) = Sqrt(2 x delta x t + delta^2) which of course grows without limit as t gets arbitrarily large. And there is some reference frame in which x and z are that distance apart spatially. So now here's a neat trick. Imagine that Harry wants to send a message to the Andromeda galaxy, but without it taking two millions years to arrive. Let's say that x is the Earth now, and z is somewhere in Andromeda which is approximately "now" in the Earth's reference frame, and in cosmological terms (e.g. at z, measurements of the temperature of the background radiation and the Hubble constant are the same as at x). Then Harry finds a suitable alternative reference frame in which to pick the points x' and y, uses a Time Turner to send a message from x to x', then uses ordinary light to send it through y to z. Instant magical faster-than-light signalling out to any distance! And indeed faster-than-light space travel as well, provided he can transfigure rockets that travel at near-light speed...

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-05-02T01:54:18.245Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why the heck is this being voted down? It's a perfectly valid question! You could have some Minkowskian interval that Time Turners can't go further back than, and it would make sense in terms of Special Relativity, but there's no obvious analogy for a maximum spacelike separation being built into the laws of magic.

I may be willing to put Time Turners in my fic - I may even be willing to swallow the single-world interpretation of QM which that necessarily implies - but even I'm not going to give magic a privileged reference frame, or talk like "hours" are an intrinsically meaningful measure. Special Relativity is... I mean... it's over the local properties of the variables on which everything else is built, it's the stuff that the fabric of reality is locally made of. It's like having Harry not be made of atoms.

comment by rocurley · 2012-05-03T02:20:30.978Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If you're not willing to have a privileged reference frame, how do time turners know where to go?

(Especially thorny is that the surface of the earth accelerates upwards relative to inertial reference frames; if you stay in your inertial reference frame played backwards through time, you don't lose the earth in space, but you do oscillate through it like a mass on a spring. I personally think this is a really cool way for time travel to work, but it's clearly not how time turners do).

comment by maia · 2012-05-03T02:23:54.323Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

If Time Turners went backwards in intervals of 81 minutes, instead of an hour, that'd fit with the "you fell to the center of the earth and oscillated back" method of inertial time travel.

comment by MugaSofer · 2013-07-29T17:17:44.277Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... and that's why TTs only go back in increments of one hour :D

More seriously, 'tis magic. It works how the person who made it expected it to work, if Harry is correct, whether that's Aristotelian acceleration or just our intuitions about how "moving backwards in time" should look.

(Maybe it simulates a "marker" sitting in your position as the timeline is rewound. What happens if you travel to somewhere a wall was just built?)

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T05:42:30.154Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The time turner remembers its worldline and jumps back along it, in a perfectly relativistically invariant way.

comment by rocurley · 2012-05-04T14:07:30.166Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's perfectly well defined, but you also wind up inside yourself 6 hours ago, which is an issue.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T14:48:17.996Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's not your original objection! Also, my model (elsewhere in this thread) defines time-turners as world-splitters, which avoids the time loops.

comment by rocurley · 2012-05-05T21:05:44.067Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not saying it's my original objection, it's a new one. It's addressed by having them be world splitters, but I didn't know you had posted about that elsewhere.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-05-03T11:15:47.319Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Could you re-explain this?

Especially thorny is that the surface of the earth accelerates upwards relative to inertial reference frames; if you stay in your inertial reference frame played backwards through time, you don't lose the earth in space, but you do oscillate through it like a mass on a spring. I personally think this is a really cool way for time travel to work, but it's clearly not how time turners do

I don't even konw what search for in google so that I undestand it: special relativity?

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-05-03T18:34:35.668Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

First, imagine yourself in a spaceship far away from any gravitational sources. If your rockets are off, objects inside the ship left at rest relative to it will stay at rest. In this situation, your ship is in an inertial reference frame, so called because in it the law of inertia is valid. (By contrast, if your rockets are on, objects left at rest will start accelerating towards the back wall, unless there is some countervailing force acting on them).

Now imagine your spaceship close to Earth, within its gravitational field. What is an inertial frame now? Not the situation of the ship at rest relative to Earth: in this situation, objects will accelerate ("fall", as we usually say) towards the bottom of the ship. The ship is in an inertial frame only if it is freely falling towards Earth[1], like an elevator when the cable breaks: then, objects left at rest inside it will stay at rest relative to it absent countervailing forces (because they will be "falling" at the same universal rate g = 9.8 m/s^2).

So a frame accelerating towards Earth with g is an inertial frame. If we abstract away all other forces that will come into play when the ship crashes hitting the Earth and think only of the effects of gravity (which is what determines the inertial frames, according to GR), the freely falling trajectory would continue straight through Earth, emerge at the other side, reach a maximum altitude, fall again, and so on like a mass on spring. Thus the frame that follows Earth in its trajectory through space while oscillating back and forth through it is an inertial frame.

[1] IActually, it could also be shooting up from Earth but decelerating (to fall eventually), or be in a stable orbit around it. All these situations have the key property that objects at rest relative to the ship tend to stay at rest relative to it.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-05-03T19:19:00.237Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Really thank you, Alejandro1, you clarified the "inertial reference" point.

Going a little bit beyond, what the heck the gravity has to do with time turners and time travel? My knowledge is pretty restrict in this area (almost zero), so if you can't answer this in a simple way [1]; just saying "go study X" will work fine,too, if that's the case.

[1] As Feynman says, if you want to explain something complicated for someone, you can rephrase or use analogies as long as the person has an (or a few) equivalent model of that topic in their reality. So, if the topic requires some model that I don't own by not knowing lots of relativity, just point that out so that I can study and not lose good threads like this in the future. Thanks.

comment by rocurley · 2012-05-03T20:32:32.861Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

So, in this fic, you time travel and you wind up in the "same place" as you started. The concept of "same place", however, is actually really complicated. The earth is spinning and orbiting the sun, which is itself orbiting the center of the galaxy, which is in turn....

My first intuition was that, if you traveled in time, you would wind up floating in space. However, it's not at all obvious that a reference frame where the sun is stationary is better than any other, which is how I got to using your current stationary inertial reference frame: it's the only one that's unique from all the other possible ones, and yields the behavior above.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-05-03T20:56:29.858Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I got it! wow, it feels great ;) thanks again.

comment by rocurley · 2012-05-03T18:28:33.631Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Imagine you're on a merry-go round. You could calculate physics as if you and the merry-go-round were rotating, and that will be fine. Alternatively, you could pretend you're not rotating (choosing a non-inertial reference frame). However, if you want physics to still work, you have to introduce centrifugal and coriolis forces to make everything work out properly (this is the force you feel "pushing" you out to the edge).

Now in general relativity, inertial reference frames are those that are in free fall. An example of an inertial reference frame would be an orbiting satellite. Note that there is no gravity in an inertial reference frame like a satellite. Now, you can pretend that standing on the surface of the earth is an inertial reference frame (ignoring totally the rotation for now), but to make everything work out properly, you need to introduce a new force accelerating you downward: gravity.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-05-03T19:19:43.205Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks!

comment by Random832 · 2012-05-03T17:53:13.213Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

General Relativity, actually. You could also look for "gravity as a fictitious force".

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-05-03T19:21:03.975Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I guess one future key ability will be know how keywords use to solve a problem. Using the google, of course.

comment by DanArmak · 2012-05-04T00:58:46.027Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Unless MoR is going to include an explanation of how magic is implemented in terms of known (or new and deeper) laws of physics, Harry might as well not be made of atoms. After all, modern technology conveniently doesn't work near magic so we can't investigate the matter...

Which should Harry believe at this point: that the Ultimate Law is better described as fundamentally Muggle physics with a Source of Magic built on top; or that the Ultimate Law is an alien, magical, human-intuition-confirming system where someone once cast a big spell that specified the Muggle laws of physics? Hell, if the existence of magic is actively erased from the minds of Muggles, maybe we shouldn't put too much trust in the Muggle evidence for the natural evolution of humans, or for the age of the world.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-05-02T21:23:28.027Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I might be missing something obvious, but I don't think it implies single world quantum mechanics. It certainly makes it messier thou.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-05-04T00:12:46.116Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You can't have a "stable time loop" without a single future.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-05-04T21:10:26.001Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You sure can! It's a bit hard on the complexity, but probably less so than spontaneous collapse.

there are a bunch of different versions, the most obvious (but not only) class consists of proceeding the simulation as if time travel didn't exist then pruning paradoxical branches retroactively. There's tweaks and hacks needed to figure out how that actually works with interference, and to fix the problem of any branch where time travel is invented at all losing all it's measure in effect acting as a probability pump preventing it, but you're smarter than me and can probably work out better versions.

Just think about it for 5 minutes. ;p

comment by ialdabaoth · 2013-07-19T00:31:40.251Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You can if nearby Everett branches reinforce each other and 'bleed over' into each other. Then you wind up with a bifurcation diagram, with each path's "weight" based on the number of other paths that are close/similar enough to reinforce it, and some paths can converge into the internal appearance of a stable time loop.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-05-04T00:32:01.020Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can't you have mixed states that are stable or at least self-consistent? Something like there's a 50% chance you go back and kill your grandfather and there's then a 50% chance you don't exist? I seem to remember David Deutsch discussing something similar at one point.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-05-04T03:52:07.751Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but that's not a "stable time loop" as portrayed in either cannon or MoR.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-10-16T20:54:28.113Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It may be better to put it like this: "if there are many worlds, then time travel would generally create loops across worlds; it does not force consistency within a single world".

However, if the Source of Magic is careful how it sets up the loops, it can force a consistent outcome, or at least force one of the consistent outcomes to become much more probable than any inconsistent outcome (one which loops between worlds). In particular this still allows any NP problem, or indeed any PSPACE problem, to be solved in polynomial time using tricks like Harry's factorisation attempt (though perhaps with a small probability of failure). See Scott Aaranson's wonderful lecture here.

So the fact that Harry always observes a consistent single-world loop doesn't by itself imply a single world interpretation, or any non-computability. It simply means that the Source of Magic is a PSPACE oracle!

comment by thomblake · 2012-05-09T22:57:27.235Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As soon as I saw the stable time loop in HPMOR, I thought, "Oh, they're all in a simulation."

comment by hirvinen · 2013-07-18T08:00:46.405Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think a simulation (Y) is a process of mimicking something else (X). In which case we should not observe in Y something (Z) that couldn't happen in X.

So maybe we should rather say that Y is a game with otherwise X-like rules, but additional rules that allow Z, rather than calling it simulation. Or at least I think if "simulation" Y is not an accurate simulation of X, we should use some explicit qualifier to indicate its non-accuracy.

comment by pengvado · 2012-05-03T00:49:14.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You could put something sorta like a Time Turner in MWI. But I don't see any way to do it that would reliably result in consistent time-loops, as opposed to people observing different results in their second pass than they remember from the first.

comment by avichapman · 2012-10-05T07:06:25.352Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could this constraint apply in other ways? Suppose magic is the result of something that responds to the wishes of witches, as suggested at one point. If that something is Earth-based, perhaps a wizard on an outbound spacecraft would stop being able to do magic when he reaches 6 light-hours out. An interesting experiment.

Harry might be able to realistically do an experiment similar to this as a first year if there is a magic spell that lets you communicate with an object. He could use a spell to accelerate that object to a very high speed and then check in on it as it approaches the 6 light-hour point.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-27T22:12:14.772Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Idea: Dumbledore says

"And therefore," the old wizard finished quietly, "the remainder of the soul is bound to its chained part, lingering here when its body is destroyed.

Maybe the Pioneercrux is dragging the shade-part into space.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-27T15:01:14.457Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

...I meant April 1992 is when Taboo Tradeoffs happens.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-27T15:39:25.025Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know. Gastogh made the 1992 calculation. I was making the point that although Gastogh calculated Pioneer to have reached the critical distance of six light-hours in 1992, and you pointed out that Taboo Tradeoffs was happening in 1992, we shouldn't take this coincidence as evidence in favour of the theory that communication between horcruxes and their master is limited to light speed, and that this is somehow related to time turners. I don't necessarily think either of you support such a theory, for that matter, nor am I making any argument for or against that theory itself.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-26T20:09:30.303Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Even with magic, there's no way round speed of light limits.

Apparation might get around that. Fawkes might too.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T20:43:55.349Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Apparation and Portkeys, probably not- I don't believe we have an MoR viewpoint experience of Apparation, but in canon the interval is noticeable. An international Portkey is described in MoR as

A sickeningly hard yank caught at Harry's abdomen, considerably harder than the yank that had transported him to Azkaban, and this time the distance traversed was great enough that he could hear an instant of silence, watch the unseeable space between spaces, in the crack between one place and another.

If the transit time increases with distance, and is perceivable from one point on Earth to another, it's probably not FTL.

Phoenices are more viable, though. The description / speculation on firetravel in Chapter 82 definitely leaves open the possibility.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-18T11:44:06.289Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can't see Quirrell making a mistake like that; and even if he did I think he would have noticed it and moved heaven and earth to fix it and get his Horcrux back before it got that far away as soon as it got far enough away for the problem to be noticeable.

comment by wirov · 2012-04-26T15:31:27.101Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No, this does not explain any dormant-times. See chapter 20: While Quirrell shows Harry the sphere of stars, he is not in zombie mode; he talks to Harry and even notices Dumbledore's imminent arrival.

Note though, that this doesn't not rule out the hypothesis of him visiting his Horcruxes during zombie mode – for all we know, there might be another mechanism one could use to check on one's Horcruxes.

comment by Nominull · 2012-04-18T02:38:48.942Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't Harry a little young to have played Fate/Stay Night, both in the sense of it being a Japanese porno game not suitable for 11-year-olds and it not having been made yet when the story is set?

EDIT: Clearly this is intended as a hint that he has the time-traveling adult Voldemort's memories implanted in him.

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-04-18T03:45:25.741Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Those are very valid objections, but since the phrase "great works of literature like Hamlet or Fate/Stay Night" constantly causes hilarious overreactions whenever I link Three Worlds Collide around, I'm entirely supportive of Eliezer taking liberties for this purpose.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-04-20T11:50:13.162Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, Hamlet sucks!

comment by Randaly · 2012-04-18T04:57:21.637Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer isn't bothering to consider publication dates, and has ignored them in the past- eg Barbour's The End of Time wasn't published until 1999, yet Harry still knows timeless physics.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-18T16:07:52.816Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer has said that he's giving a pass to any science in the story, but I don't think he's applied that policy to all fiction Harry has consumed. In the Azkaban break, Eliezer noted that Harry was quoting from the trailer of a movie (Army of Darkness,) which hadn't been released yet, and in the tvtropes discussion thread, he attested that he had checked the chronology of the trailer.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T13:54:26.572Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Barbour's The End of Time wasn't published until 1999, yet Harry still knows timeless physics.

I was under the impression Harry didn't learn that from Barbour - he derived it himself.

comment by Randaly · 2012-04-18T14:28:56.140Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think so- the passage implied that other muggleborns might know it as well:

Even if some Muggleborn knew about timeless formulations of quantum mechanics

Plus I get the feeling that it's beyond Harry's own capabilities, since his original thoughts/ideas are also (generally) Eliezer's original thoughts/ideas

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-18T21:13:31.010Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, no. Harry's smart, but he's not that smart.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-18T02:57:07.408Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

You can always imagine that in the HPMoR fictional universe, Fate/Stay Night came out in some form much earlier -- same way that variations of 'Gargoyles' and "Death Note" seem to have been wizardly entertainment earlier than their real counterparts came out in the real world....

Anyway, it's not really useful to fuss about the chronology of fictional references too much, either from the point of view of the readers, nor from the point of view of the author...

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-18T16:11:09.426Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Personally, I find shout-outs less jarring than straight out references to Harry having consumed fiction that shouldn't exist yet. The Tragedy of Light isn't Death Note, it's The Tragedy of Light, even if the real life inspiration is obviously Death Note.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-18T02:52:22.448Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

According to canon, the original PlayStation was available in 1993. So if certain electronic media are available earlier in the MoR universe, it's only a slight embellishment of an existing canon discrepancy.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T02:58:11.248Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What canon? The original PS came out in December 1994.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-18T03:04:32.154Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Rowling made a mistake and gave Dudley a PS in 1993.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-18T03:27:20.760Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I am totally using that as my rejoinder there - "If Dudley can get a Playstation in 1993, clearly Playstations are timeless in canon."

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-18T03:32:43.399Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, you can violate the six-hour limit on backward movement of information with Playstations?

Does that mean the Department of Mysteries has a Playstation department?

plots evilly

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-18T03:35:23.742Z · score: 28 (30 votes) · LW · GW

No, no, the sand in the Time-Turners' hourglasses is made of ground-up Playstations.

comment by Locke · 2012-04-18T04:47:29.956Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that would actually make sand, it must be the game-discs.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-18T10:09:14.065Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This brings to mind the scratched game CD in Homestuck.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-19T17:19:20.563Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Presumably Sega is the only organization with the power to stop PS from taking over the world, hence their constant warfare in Megatokyo.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T02:47:50.096Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

porno game not suitable for 11-year-olds

Well, if you ignore the chronological problems, apparently an all-ages version was released by Typemoon in 2007 (Fate/stay night Réalta Nua).

(More generally, visual novels don't necessarily contain that much porn - comparable to what you can find in regular novels. I'm fairly sure there were many more porn scenes in the books I was reading at 11, like Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant.)

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T13:14:23.414Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or Justine... But perhaps that was just the wrong book to steal from my dad's library. Or right. Updated evidence from encounters later in my life would suggest the latter, public opinion the former.

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-04-18T03:40:18.592Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Anachronism notwithstanding, the anime adaptation isn't pornographic, so he could have seen that instead.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-18T02:46:31.023Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Clean" versions exist, taping a piece of paper over the screen and holding "enter" is an option, and a lot of the physics is after his time too.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-25T21:56:48.223Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I know similar sentiments have already been expressed, but...

Calling it a "porno game" seems wrong - that could really only be right if literally everything with a depiction of sex is "porno". It has a couple of sex scenes. At least, someone playing Fate/Stay Night looking for porn will be sorely disappointed.

(And the way the "Creating a physical link between Shirou and Saber" scene was handled in the anime, I think I'd rather it were the sex scene from the visual novel, despite my generally disliking sex scenes.)

comment by BlackNoise · 2012-04-18T04:29:54.579Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He didn't actually had to have read it, merely to have come across that particular quote.

comment by major · 2012-06-02T16:41:01.975Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Re: revisions

Harry reached up, wiped a bit of sweat from his forehead, and exhaled. "I'd like this one, please."

Harry's entire body was sheathed in sweat that had soaked clear through his Muggle clothing, though at least it didn't show through the robes. He bent down over the gold-etched ivory toilet, and retched a few times, but thankfully nothing came up.

Hermione shut her eyes and tried to concentrate. She was sweating underneath her robes.

"Forget I said anything," said Draco, sweat suddenly springing out all over his body. He needed a distraction, fast - "And what do we call ourselves? The Science Eaters?"

Children don't sweat that much - it's a physiological difference from adults.

(This is just the first page I found with a nice at-glance comparison table and a list of references.)

I have considered that this is a deliberate difference, some clue about the way magic effects wizards, like, magic increases body heat, and wizarding children get adult sweat-glands to compensate; this seemed interesting:

[Draco would have been dead], had his body's own magic not been resisting the effects of the Blood-Cooling Charm.

But, in the end, I think not. No, it looks much more like exaggeration to convey the character's state of mind; it's normal practice in writing as I understand, but somewhat unbecoming in rationalist fiction, I think. It undermines the idea that causality isn't violated for plot/writing reasons.

It doesn't surprise me that the amazingly insightful critics of HPMoR who may have picked up on this couldn't pinpoint it, though. Motivated cognition usually gets in the way.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2012-12-13T11:53:40.253Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think EY might just not be familiar with the physiology of children. Didn't the original version of chapter 7 imply that Draco couldn't get an erection? Puberty is nothing resembling a requirement for those. And the alternate version of "boy who lived gets Draco Malfoy Pregnant" had female Draco as 13, when it would have made more sense for Harry to be the older one (boys hit puberty later on average than girls).

comment by gjm · 2012-06-03T22:21:53.069Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could you explain your last paragraph? Is it referring to any (sincerely or ironically) "amazingly insightful critics" in particular? What motivated cognition do you think might be their problem? (For the avoidance of doubt: I am not asking you to explain the concept of motivated cognition.)

The impression I get from that paragraph is that there are some specific people (maybe just one specific person) you have in mind, that you think their thinking is messed up, and that you're indulging in a bit of snarkiness. But I am unable to come up with any coherent idea of what they might have said that would make much sense (ironically or otherwise, snarkily or otherwise) of what you wrote.

comment by major · 2012-06-04T08:13:32.926Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it works like this: this sort of thing can trigger some people's bullshit detector. They sense that something is off when this 'rationalist fiction' tries to to claim some sort of special status, while still doing the usual writing tricks. Of course they fail to pinpoint the source of the contradiction (most don't habitually look out for the 'Is that your true rejection' thingy - especially if they already have some reason to jump to an EY-bashing conclusion, mostly something status-based; I call that sort of thing 'suspiciously self-serving'). Instead they offer less specific criticism, which of course will not be true, so it will be rejected by anyone else. Most of those who are not pre-disposed to negativity will simply ignore the sense of unease, if they have it at all.

Now, I could have said as much without the snark. I was trying to create an ugh field for the 'euthanistic critics'. I would not have my comment waved as banner in the "Yudkowsky's writing sucks" camp - call it a personal preference. Yeah, I'm probably overestimating the gives-a-shit quotient here.

Also I have criticized a few people for jumping to the conclusion of writer's mistake, when I thought there was more to it, so when I show how what I think a real mistake looks like... yeah, guilty of pride. And since that may make me look like more of an idiot, if Eliezer completely ignores this... that's why 'suspiciously self-serving' can be a problem; if it's not connected to reality, it's bound to flop. :(

I tried not to have anyone specific in mind when I wrote the comment, but I was most likely primed by mention of DLP.

comment by wgd · 2012-05-15T04:49:51.401Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Has there been any serious discussion of the implications of portraits? I couldn't find any with some cursory googling, but I'll be really surprised if it hasn't been discussed here yet. I can't entirely remember which of these things are canon and which are various bits of fanfiction, but:

  • You can take someone's portrait without them explicitly helping, as evidenced in canon by at least one photograph of someone being arrested, whose picture in the newspaper is continually struggling and screaming at the viewer. I don't remember which book this was or any of the particulars unfortunately, but I'm pretty certain it's a thing that was in one of them. Or maybe one of the movies. Moving on.
  • They can perform simple tasks of short-term memory and carry on a coherent conversation.
  • They can walk from picture to picture to communicate with each other.
  • They can operate simple mechanisms in some way. In canon, the door to Gryffindor Tower is a portrait, which requires a password before opening.

As far as I can tell, portraits in the Harry Potter universe would be a gigantic game-breaker if it weren't for all the other game-breakers overshadowing them. I suppose it's possible to mitigate this (maybe a picture carries less of the "person" compared to a portrait for which they have to sit for hours) but if that's not the case, portraits appear to be essentially a way of involuntarily uploading a copy of someone and enslaving them for all eternity, and all you need is knowledge of what they look like and a modicum of artistic ability.

edit: Oh crap, in MoR they ask portraits questions about knowledge they would have had before being painted, like "what spells did they teach you as a first year" and "did you know a married squib couple". So you're not just getting a basic "human" imprint, you're getting that specific person.

And on the flip side of that, not all the portraits in Hogwarts are necessarily real people. What moral weight does a newly-created personality in a portrait have?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-05-18T02:06:29.822Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was under the impression that portraits were sort of like the sorting hat.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-05-23T22:02:04.075Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I believe it was discussed in Pretending To Be Wise, where Harry compares them to ghosts. Advanced but non-sentient partial simulations of people.

comment by matheist · 2012-05-13T01:17:20.464Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Ng gigebcrf, rl fnlf, "V gubhtug crbcyr jrer tbvat gb trg "gur cybg" sebz Pu. 1-3, cbffvoyl Pu. 1, naq guvf jnf gur Vyyhfvba bs Genafcnerapl", naq yngre "Ru, lbh'yy frr jung V'z gnyxvat nobhg nsgre lbh ernq gur svany nep naq gura ernq Puncgre 1 ntnva."

What would a hypothesis about the end of the story look like which uses only information from chapter 1?

Claim: Harry's war with Voldemort will destroy the world. Support: In Chapter 1, Petunia says about Lily's reasons for not making her pretty, "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 ..." Suppose Lily really did say those things, and believed them, and that there was the force of a prophecy behind them. If Lily hadn't made Petunia pretty, Petunia would not have married Michael Verres, and Harry would not have grown up with science and math and sci-fi (and the attendant humanism) and rationality. A much weaker Harry would have attended Hogwarts, and fought Voldemort, and presumably would have lost. The world would survive, albeit under Voldemort's thumb.

As a result of Petunia being made pretty, Harry grew up around books that made him strong, strong enough to pose a credible challenge to Voldemort. If they're evenly matched, and fight to the death, then they take the world down with them.


This feels consistent with the events in the story so far, but it doesn't really seem that the story is driving towards this conclusion. Except most recently, with the ominous feelings from the various seers following (caused by? who knows) Harry's ominous resolution in chapter 85.

But it's all I've got for a prediction that's consistent with the events thus far and is foreshadowed in chapter 1.

comment by gjm · 2012-05-13T23:32:51.931Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If Harry's going to end the world, surely a more likely way -- especially given the author's known interests and opinions -- is by bringing about the magical world's equivalent of a Singularity? MoR!Harry is on record (albeit not in chapters 1-3) as wanting to take over the world and, er, optimize it. There are suggestions elsewhere that terrible things have happened in the past on account of over-powerful magic. (Again, not in chapters 1-3.) Centaurs and other purveyors of prophecy might dread this even if the singularity ends up being a good one, because it would be a point beyond which they wouldn't be able to see anything.

Another possibility -- which again could reasonably be said to be heavily foreshadowed, if it comes to pass, but not in the first few chapters: Harry is somehow going to put an end to magic. (He wants to do away with Azkaban by any means possible, no matter how drastic. He's already explicitly considered the question of which side he'd be on if it came down to muggles versus wizards, and decided for the muggles.)

I don't assign a terribly high probability to either of these. There seems to be no shortage of mutually incompatible outcomes with a certain degree of foreshadowing, and if there's a good way to decide between them then I haven't spotted it yet.

comment by Randaly · 2012-05-13T23:42:52.978Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

However, Eliezer has said that he doesn't plan on putting a Singularity in the story.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-07-11T20:34:28.782Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

rot13 please!

comment by arundelo · 2012-07-11T20:56:30.880Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer has stated this publicly (not using the word "singularity", but I assume that's what Randaly was thinking of), so it's not subject to the spoiler policy in this thread's parent post.

comment by 75th · 2012-05-13T02:12:27.622Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've always suspected that Petunia's paraphrases there of Lily are mostly true — that's a contributing factor to my believing that some level of apocalypse is in the story's future — but just guessing that Really Bad Stuff is going to happen seems a far cry from us "getting 'the plot' " from Chapter 1, or chapters 1 through 3.

Neither the remainder of Chapter 1 nor the whole of Chapter 2 seem to have any significant hints. In Chapter 3, here is what I can see that might have hidden meaning:

"I had the strangest feeling that I knew him..." Harry rubbed his forehead. "And that I shouldn't ought to shake his hand." Like meeting someone who had been a friend, once, before something went drastically wrong... that wasn't really it at all, but Harry couldn't find words.

Maybe we were supposed to get more out of this at the time? Perhaps we were supposed to infer that Quirrell or one of his alter egos had been an up-and-coming hero?

The Killing Curse is formed of pure hate, and strikes directly at the soul, severing it from the body. It cannot be blocked. The only defense is not to be there.

Maybe, contrary to my previous protestations, we are supposed to believe that Harry wasn't really hit with Avada Kedavra?

(And somewhere in the back of his mind was a small, small note of confusion, a sense of something wrong about that story; and it should have been a part of Harry's art to notice that tiny note, but he was distracted. For it is a sad rule that whenever you are most in need of your art as a rationalist, that is when you are most likely to forget it.)

I'd always chalked this up as being the revelation Harry has at the end of the Humanism arc: that Dark Lords don't usually go after infant children, and that there must be an important reason why Voldemort did. But maybe there's something more to it.

…Or, conversely, maybe we have already figured out the stuff Eliezer was referring to, we just didn't figure it out as early as he expected. Matheist, do you have a link to that quote? I couldn't find it by ⌘Fing Methods's TV Tropes pages.


(Does anyone else find it really weird to read "EY" as a reference to Eliezer? It always reads to me like a Spivak pronoun with faulty verb agreement.)

comment by matheist · 2012-05-13T05:20:27.935Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Caution, possible spoilers, in the form of comments about the guessability (or lack thereof) of the plot. First quote and second quote.

I always assumed that the note of confusion was, "How could anyone possibly know what spells the dark lord cast, and what the effects were, if there were no survivors besides a baby".

comment by 75th · 2012-05-13T19:30:49.968Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. It occurs to me that Harry's life in chapters 1 and 2 bears some similarities to Tom Riddle's life from canon. Both their mothers used potions to make their fathers love them; both their fathers thought magic was disgraceful; the Deputy Head of Hogwarts visited both of them, showed them magic, made them thirsty for knowledge of magic, and warned them against unacceptable behavior that both of them had exhibited in the past; both of them always knew they were extraordinary, and were proved right when magic came into their lives.

…but even if all that is intentional, which it almost certainly is, I still don't see what we're supposed to infer about the entire plot. Is Harry going to grow up, murder his family, create six Horcruxes, and hide them where someone can easily find them and destroy them?

I always assumed that the note of confusion was, "How could anyone possibly know what spells the dark lord cast, and what the effects were, if there were no survivors besides a baby".

That makes quite a bit more sense, and should in fact have been incredibly obvious. I didn't start reading Methods until the hiatus following the Stanford Prison Experiment arc, and I didn't start thinking and theorizing until after I'd read all those chapters twice, so I didn't approach the question with a properly blank slate.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-07-31T19:43:21.014Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The most frustrating part of that note of confusion lies in the magic of the world, I think. What is actually possible to do with magic? What do witches and wizards think is possible? What does Harry think is possible?

Let me illustrate by looking at the question that you brought up:

How could anyone possibly know what spells the dark lord cast, and what the effects were, if there were no survivors besides a baby?

Prior Incantato: If they got their hands on Voldemort's wand, then they could see that he cast the Killing Curse. This would be weak evidence indeed, but it is possible to see what he cast. They did not recover Voldemort's wand, but Harry doesn't know this. Canon and MoR founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Legilimency: A somewhat popular fan theory for canon, Dumbledore could have read baby Harry's mind right afterwards. Canon and MoR founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Curse Scar: A lot of people make a huge deal out of the scar that Harry has. They seem to feel that it was created from surviving exposure to the Killing Curse, though how that would be known when he was the first ever is something of a mystery. Perhaps because it registers similarly to scars left behind by other Dark curses, at least in terms of being unhealable. See residue. Somewhat canon-founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Divination/Scrying/Past-Viewing: It might be possible to remotely view the scene, to see what happened, from the past, in real time, or in the future. Divination is real, though it seems to be more cryptic than that, Scrying seems to be unknown, but Past-viewing is clearly not possible after what happened with Hermione, though Harry doesn’t know this yet. Partially founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Wards: Clearly whatever wards they put up in addition to the Fidelius Charm (because in a more competent world, they shouldn't have had a single point of failure) did not keep Voldemort out, but that didn't mean that the monitoring aspects had to have died. It's possible that there's a magical video of the whole thing, or a record of what spells were cast where and when. Primarily speculative. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Killing Curse residue: Perhaps one way that they could distinguish if the Killing Curse was involved in a death is by checking the bodies to see if there is a residue left over on the corpse. If Harry has the residue but is still alive, that would be strong evidence. Speculative. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

And this is just what I thought up in a few minutes. Harry could have multitudes of ideas about how magic works and what it could do, but until he learns something, he has no idea of what’s possible. How could the question be “how do they know?” when there are so many different possibilities of how they could know? We're not really much better, because though we have a leg up from canon, MoR has already changed some of the rules.

comment by matheist · 2012-08-01T07:22:37.287Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, that's a very good point. If Harry is aware of his own ignorance, then he might be willing to accept that there are ways of knowing things like "which spell did the dark lord cast", without actually knowing himself what those ways are.

In that case — i.e. in the case where Harry is aware of his own ignorance and is aware in that moment — then I have no idea what else the note of confusion could be.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2013-08-25T15:33:34.772Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I've thought before, the note of confusion could be why a spell that "strikes directly at the soul, severing it from the body" would leave a "burnt hulk of his body."

It's not doubtless, there are explanations for why this might make sense--perhaps it does kill at a touch, and then sets the body on fire; it's magic, who knows?--but this makes the most sense to me.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-18T02:47:18.276Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Andromeda is not the closest galaxy. The closest currently known galaxy is the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy but this wasn't known until after the story took place. However, others were known at about this time such as the Large Magellanic Cloud which is only visible from the Southern Hemisphere but has been known for centuries, or Draco Dwarf which you can see with a good telescope in the Northern Hemisphere. Andromeda is however the only one that is easily visible and very large in the Northern Hemisphere.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-18T03:01:23.900Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the LMC and SMC were considered to belong to a lesser category of galaxies than Andromeda. Or am I just thinking of the spiral/blob distinction?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-18T03:07:29.946Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There are size/shape distinctions but they are all galaxies. There are issues with spiral/blob issues although in the last few years the discovery of a lot of smaller dwarf galaxies have raised issues with the standard classification. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about this in detail. Size issues may be relevant in that LGM is much smaller than Andromeda (by a factor of around 100).

comment by avichapman · 2012-12-06T02:11:26.437Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I was re-listening to the podcast of Chapter 20 (Bayes's Theorem) when I was struck by an idea. It builds on another idea I heard in this same forum. The original idea was that Quirrel had Horcruxed the Pioneer plaque and that, due to the nature of magic, his Horcrux passing beyond a distance of 6 light hours would lead to his death due to a limitation on magic's ability to affect things more than 6 hours into the past - which would be needed for faster than light communications.

Having now re-listened to that chapter, I've picked up some new clues. Harry had made the suggestion that it might be possible to add an entire human mind's worth of information to the Pioneer plaque by creating a portrait or arranging for a terminally ill person's ghost to be attached to it before launch. Quirrel of course denied that he had done anything like that through a bit of misdirection. This leads many to speculate that he had Horcruxed the probe, downloading a copy of himself into it for posterity.

I had the idea that perhaps he downloaded himself into the probe and then started to operate his body by remote control. When his body goes limp, it's because he's not at the 'controls' at that moment. Once the probe passes beyond 6 light hours, it will become impossible for him to continue to tele-operate his body any longer and he will be trapped on the probe for the rest of its flight time. I believe he is revealing an important clue in the following paragraph:

"Sometimes," Professor Quirrell said in a voice so quiet it almost wasn't there, "when this flawed world seems unusually hateful, I wonder whether there might be some other place, far away, where I should have been. I cannot seem to imagine what that place might be, and if I can't even imagine it then how can I believe it exists? And yet the universe is so very, very wide, and perhaps it might exist anyway? But the stars are so very, very far away. It would take a long, long time to get there, even if I knew the way. And I wonder what I would dream about, if I slept for a long, long time..."

Is he contemplating the eons that await him while the probe moves on to 'some other place'? Does he plan to put his mind on hold, to sleep, for most of that flight time?

comment by matheist · 2012-12-13T04:24:27.715Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Very clever idea! But it doesn't pan out, sadly. I just checked on Wolfram-Alpha. The distance from the earth to Pioneer 11 on the Ides of May, 1992, Quirrell's presumed last day of class, is actually 4.84 light hours, not 6.

Some experimenting on W-A shows that Pioneer 11 passes 6 light hours around August 25, 1995.

comment by avichapman · 2012-12-14T03:52:05.576Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point about the light hours thing. It sort of kills the hypothesis.

I agree with drethelin that the 6 hour mark doesn't have to correspond with Quirrel's last day of school. However, in the last story arc, Quirrel talks like his time limit is only a short time away, perhaps only a month. Of course, he could be talking about his inevitable firing from the defense professor position.

comment by drethelin · 2012-12-13T06:15:10.996Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In what sense does it not pan out? Why would Quirrel's last day of class need to align with the last day he will be able to maintain his body on earth?

comment by matheist · 2012-12-13T07:31:36.762Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's just no reason for it, story-wise. If EY had wanted the distance to Pioneer 11 to relate to Quirrell's zombie-ness in this way, he would have written the story so that the hard time-travel limit was 4.84 hours, so that it would coincide with the last day of classes. That makes a good story.

But the dates don't line up, and so there's no reason to believe that this is anything other than a fun theory.

comment by drethelin · 2012-12-13T10:34:55.077Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't make any sense. Eliezer quite often tries to point out that things don't go down the way they do in stories, and it would be a ridiculously unlikely coincidence that whatever the time travel limit was, that happened to be the exact distance in light hours from earth to Pioneer on a certain date in the future. If the plaque is horcruxed, it happened WAY before Harry was even born, so it's not like Quirrel could've even arranged it to coincide with the end of Harry's first year at Hogwarts intentionally for drama.

comment by matheist · 2012-12-13T16:22:52.349Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you saying you believe this theory? (What's the evidence?) Or merely that I'm disbelieving it too quickly?

comment by drethelin · 2012-12-13T21:48:33.435Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're disbelieving it for the wrong reasons. The biggest problem and one which Mugasofer mentions in his comment is that there's no set up system or reason for Quirrel to be remote controlling his body. Horcruxes don't really work like that in Canon, and it also doesn't match what we see: eg Quirrel doesn't take hours to respond to every single thing. It's possible zombie-mode is some sort of "cloud uploading" process by which he sends memories to his Horcruxes but it doesn't really seem like that would be affected by this sort of thing.

I think it's more likely that Pioneer is just a badass way to make a Horcrux and that zombie-mode is a consequence of something else, probably his mind-control battle with Quirrel or whoever Quirrel used to be.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-12-06T13:33:13.004Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. It's certainly not impossible, but there seem to be two main problems with it - not unanswerable problems by any means, but problems nonetheless.

  • If Quirrelmort is spending his zombie periods at the voyager plaque, what on earth is he doing during that time? Watching the stars? But he said he can only rarely cast the spell that shows him the stars (seems like an odd thing to lie about.)
  • This clashes massively with the horcruxes from canon. Sure, there could be differences, but ... if horcruxes act as "remote controls" you have one horcrux, presumably, which seems like a rather drastic change (and IIRC Q implied having multiple horcruxes somewhere, didn't he?)

In canon, horcruxes were intelligent and capable of using magic, but also acted to prevent your soul from leaving this plane. If there turns out to be an afterlife, which EY hasn't ruled out AFAIK, then possibly different minds with the same ID confuse whatever mechanism is responsible; thus Q has given over a copy of his mind to an eternity of space, which is an interesting notion.

comment by avichapman · 2012-12-12T03:10:21.423Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that Quirrel went away to the plaque when he was in zombie mode, nor to suggest that it had become a Horcrux. Instead, what I am suggesting is that Quirrel is always in the plaque and is operating his body by remote control. If it takes some effort to do so, he might let the body go slack when he doesn't need to be doing anything.

As for the horcrux, this could always be a different, but perhaps related, spell.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-12-12T09:01:13.417Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, right. I just assumed you meant horcruxes.

Vg'f na vagrerfgvat gubhtug, ohg Ryvrmre unf fgngrq gung gur Cyndhr jnf fhcbfrq gb or n Ubepehk.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-28T18:17:52.978Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

And then there was that promise Harry had sworn.

Draco to help Harry reform Slytherin House. And Harry to take as an enemy whoever Harry believed, in his best judgment as a rationalist, to have killed Narcissa Malfoy. If Narcissa had never gotten her own hands dirty, if indeed she'd been burned alive, if the killer hadn't been tricked - those were all the conditions Harry could remember making. He probably should've written it down, or better yet, never made a promise requiring that many caveats in the first place.

There were plausible outs, for the sort of person who'd take an out. Dumbledore hadn't actually confessed. He hadn't come right out and said he'd done it. There were plausible reasons for an actually-guilty Dumbledore to behave that way. But it was also what you'd expect to see, if someone else had burned Narcissa, and Dumbledore had taken credit.

Harry overlooks the huge out that Draco is leaving Hogwarts and so won't be reforming the Slytherins.

comment by Macaulay · 2012-04-18T05:26:42.313Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Harry thought the deepest split in his personality wasn't anything to do with his dark side; rather it was the divide between the altruistic and forgiving Abstract Reasoning Harry, versus the frustrated and angry Harry In The Moment.

This as well as the distant descendants part seems to draw on Robin's near vs. far theory.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-18T05:25:42.821Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I was a bit surprised to not see the "many who die deserve life" quote from Tolkien, but perhaps that one is about deciding to kill prisoners or not.

comment by V2Blast · 2012-04-18T06:43:28.859Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

While it is relevant to Harry's desire not to have to kill, it was not as related as the other quotes were to his struggle between idealism and realism in fighting a war.

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-04-18T03:50:38.142Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What is the Anansi the Spider quote from? Anansi the Spider is a character from mythology and folklore, so it's not as obvious as the others... is it Neil Gaiman, or some other source?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-18T13:01:52.668Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Web of Angels.

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-04-19T06:41:27.587Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The one by John M. Ford? (There's a newer novel by Lilian Nattel by that title as well, but I don't think that's it...)

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T04:07:55.936Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a pretty big Gaiman fan, but I don't recognize it from either Sandman or Anansi Boys, nor do I see anything in Google Books.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-04-18T04:22:29.360Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You checked American Gods?

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T04:43:38.543Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Google Books has search for it, so I assume it's not from there.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-18T11:38:32.713Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It may be para- or misphrased. The author told us at some point that HJPEV quotes from the author's memory while Hermione quotes from reality.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T16:25:00.651Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Give me a little credit, I didn't just search for the exact quote but also the key verbs and nouns ('anansi killing words weight iron hesitate' and variations).

EDIT: Eliezer says it's Web of Angels, I assume the 2012 book not by Gaiman; it is listed in Google Books as no preview.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T16:47:01.701Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I assume the 2012 book not by Gaiman

Web of Angels is from 1980.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-18T16:50:34.027Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's also, funnily enough, from 2012. Someone should pass a law against non-unique titles!

But googling for plot summaries of the '80 novel, it's cyberpunk and pushes the web metaphor pretty far, perhaps far enough to have an Anansi character. That's probably it.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-18T16:54:55.356Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was originally going to complain because Web of Angels was published in late 1992, but then I realized that's a reprint by a different publisher.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-07-15T09:41:53.318Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Pox on ninja edits. I liked the Ghostbusters' song. :(

And I liked it when Quirrel said the single most dangerous monster in all the world was "The adult wizard".

Wonder how many more happened that I haven't noticed yet.

comment by 75th · 2012-07-18T00:26:54.539Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

"The adult wizard" was changed quite a while before the most recent round of retcons. Most of the other changes I can understand, even the removal of Ghostbusters, but this one seems completely indefensible. He's listing species that are dangerous, so it makes more sense to use a biology-type word like "adult".

And as Quirrell is perfectly open later on in telling everyone that he believes Harry wishes to become a Dark Lord, and also that he still wishes to teach Harry how to defeat his foes, there's no reason for him to put on false airs and claim that all the students present will have Dark Wizards as their enemies. He even took "Defense Against Dark" out of the class's name for crying out loud!

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-07-18T07:04:51.922Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you can understand the removal of Ghostbusters, please explain it to me. There's nothing entertaining about that part of the chapter any more.

I mean, I do know that some people in the reviews were unhappy with how 'now it's a songfic', but others liked it - I certainly did, it was funny to imagine - and at least the scene made sense. While now you have people just shouting Harry Potter! out of the blue, and basically everything happening and everyone reacting exactly as before for little apparent reason.

comment by 75th · 2012-07-19T06:30:44.623Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that the new scene seems very awkward, though I'm not sure whether I would have thought so if I weren't already familiar with the old version.

Eliezer has said that some people would have "massively bad associations" to songs in fanfics. I don't read fan fiction in general, so I have no idea what he's specifically referring to. But, err, given the interactions I've had with fandom people, I can definitely imagine them being utterly unable to see past their preconceived notions and snap judgments to logically evaluate a given scene on its own merits and subtleties.

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-07-19T07:28:48.059Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He got a LOT of complaints in the reviews about the Ghostbusters song.

comment by Locke · 2012-07-18T06:19:36.385Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I'd really like to know Eliezer's reasoning here. What are the possible advantages of this change?

I suppose it is technically more accurate, since not all adult wizards are more dangerous than Dementors or Trolls. Dark Wizards, on the other hand, specifically train to be so.

comment by cultureulterior · 2012-06-02T19:25:47.419Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The deeper problem in Ch. 6 is that Harry’s conflict with Professor McGonagall looks too much like a victory – it is a major flaw of Methods that Harry doesn’t lose hard until Ch. 10, so he must at least not win too much before then. That’s the part I’m working on at this very instant.

Strongly disagree with this. That's the bit that caused me to continue reading. Luckily, I have the raw text downloaded, and can make my own canonical printed version.

comment by 75th · 2012-05-20T02:50:41.473Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line...

(black robes, falling)

...blood spills out in liters, and someone screams a word.

That, of course, appears before the start of Chapter 1. It's gotten a lot of attention and a lot of speculation. Clearly it depicts something that happened in the past, or that will happen in the future, and we'll all get lots and lots of goosebumps when we figure out what it is.

But that passage has a little brother that I haven't seen anyone talk about. Before the start of Chapter 2, we get this:

"Of course it was my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything."

That doesn't sound that significant. It sounds like Harry Potter, to be sure, but it sounds like it could happen anywhere. The little blurbs before the chapters that follow do appear in those chapters, or at least in chapters nearby (I believe the Chapter 3 blurb appears in Chapter 6, and most of the rest appear in the body of the chapter they preface).

But this one does not. As far as I can tell with both grep and Google, this passage has not yet appeared in the story, 84 chapters later. Clearly it either (a) slipped Eliezer's mind and hasn't been revised in his several retcon binges, or (b) is way more important than it sounds.

To me, if I accept that this line must be important, it maybe sounds like something Harry would say after doing something really dark and evil, while he's in the depths of his Dark Side. Like, something horrible happens and it's not 100% clear that he did it, or someone like Dumbledore is in disbelief that he did it, and instead of denying it he just says "Of course it was me, idiot, who else?" Or maybe it's after he's out of his Dark Side, he realizes what he's done, and instead of trying to save himself he's just completely numb and confesses in a monotone.

EDIT: Or it might be Quirrell, sarcastically referring to everyone else's suspicion that all bad things must be the Defense Professor's fault. If so he's probably either confessing for real because he's beyond caring whether people know, or maybe he's hiding the truth in plain sight with false irony.

But I haven't been around for very long, so it's possible that people have whole edifices of theory about this quote and just don't talk about it because it's old news. Has it been talked about? If so, what's been guessed? If not, what do y'all think?

comment by grautry · 2012-05-20T16:28:29.850Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What it reminds me the most of is Harry's discussion with Hermione about the need for heroic responsibility - about always shouldering the responsibility for any final outcome of events, instead of thinking that your job is done when you, say, go to Professor McGonagall and tell her to do something about it.

My guess(though I wouldn't assign a very high probability to this) is that it will be uttered by Harry while he's away from anyone he considers to be sane or responsible(like, say, Quirrell) and he fails to prevent something tragic from happening. A more specific hypothesis: Quirrell's identity is revealed by him doing something unspeakably evil and Harry blames himself for not piercing the disguise earlier.

comment by CuSithBell · 2012-05-20T04:47:56.788Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hm. Personally, I read that as how Harry sees everything that goes wrong - every poor choice that he allows other people to make, every tragedy he didn't adequately anticipate - as expressed, among other places, in his discussions in Diagon Alley with McGonagall about the difficulties growing up smarter than his parents and the potential necessity of a magical first aid kit. But yes, now that you mention it, it certainly could be something to be echoed darkly in the endgame - though I am likewise unaware of the potential edifices of theory surrounding it.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-05-23T21:59:34.814Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It reminded me very much of Harry's line to Remus in Chapter 42 when Remus tells him not to judge his father too harshly, as they were only kids, and Harry says "I'm eleven and I judge myself"

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-22T16:38:29.336Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This may have been addressed already, but why doesn't Harry suspect at this point that Quirrell is Voldemort, or at least working for Voldemort?

This is especially puzzling after we get to hear Harry's thoughts on what happened to Hermione in 85.

Now, maybe I'm suffering from obvious-in-retrospect syndrome here, given that I did not realize Quirrell was Voldemort until V ernq Ryvrmre'f fvapr-ergenpgrq fgngrzrag gung Dhveeryy vf Ibyqrzbeg. But that was before the Stanford Prison Experiment arc. Relevant facts in that and the Taboo Tradeoffs arc:

  • Quirrell broke Bellatrix out of Azkaban
  • Voldemort is the only person in the world with an obvious motive for wanting to break Bellatrix out of Azkaban, and is who everyone else thinks is responsible
  • Quirrell uses at least one alternate identity, and Harry suspects him of having many more
  • Quirrell's explanation of his motives for breaking Bellatrix out of Azkaban (she might know something useful, also a whim, see Ch. 60) aren't terribly satisfying
  • During Hermione's trial (Ch. 80), Harry thought that it "seemed horribly and uniquely plausible that the entity who'd Memory-Charmed Hermione was the very same mind that had - made use of - Bellatrix Black."
  • In Ch. 85, we see Harry is taking the possibility that Quirrell was behind the plot against Hermione seriously.

What pieces of evidence doesn't Harry have here? He doesn't know about horcruxes so he can't make the connection to Quirrell's story about the Pioneer Plaque, and Hermione hasn't (yet?) told Harry what she's realized about what Quirrell did and why (Ch. 84). But Harry still has a lot of evidence.

The one thing that may be tripping Harry up--and was tripping me up until the moment I mentioned in rot13 above--is that Quirrell seems very serious about his "I don't want to be a Dark Lord, I want you to be a Dark Lord, Harry!" line, and it's hard to make sense of Voldemort taking that attitude.

Maybe Ridvolquir interpreted the prophecy as saying he can't defeat Harry until Harry becomes a Dark Lord???

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-22T20:46:03.524Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're missing the mundane explanation. Harry really likes Quirrell. He's the person he most relates with in the world; he's the person he looks up to; he's the smart/strong/cool teacher Harry wants to be when he grows up.

Surely there were other people, maybe better people, to trust and befriend? Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Hermione, Draco, not to mention Mum and Dad, it wasn't like Harry was alone...

Only...

A choking sensation grew in Harry's throat as he understood.

Only Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Hermione, Draco, they all of them sometimes knew things that Harry didn't, but...

They did not excel above Harry within his own sphere of power; such genius as they possessed was not like his genius, and his genius was not like theirs; he might look upon them as peers, but not look up to them as his superiors.

None of them had been, none of them could ever be...

Harry's mentor...

That was who Professor Quirrell had been.

Any person, especially a child, will gladly ignore and forgive a million counter-indications as long as they really like the person.

comment by Quirinus · 2012-04-23T20:22:07.408Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

For it is a sad rule that whenever you are most in need of your art as a rationalist, that is when you are most likely to forget it.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-27T04:54:38.223Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding the initial sensation of doubt he had: I don't remember ever figuring out what caused it.

Does anyone have any theories?

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-23T01:35:15.558Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort is the only person in the world with an obvious motive for wanting to break Bellatrix out of Azkaban, and is who everyone else thinks is responsible

What motive would Harry expect Voldemort to have? As far as I can recall, he doesn't know about the components required for the spell to revive someone kept from death by horcruxes, and Bellatrix is not a very capable servant for the time being, and he doesn't believe Voldemort cared about her in any case. Quirrell, on the other hand, has already claimed a selfish motive that he personally has for freeing Bellatrix that would not apply to Voldemort.

Keep in mind that for Harry, the potential hypothesis space is huge. Quirrell might secretly be Rudolph Wizencamp in disguise. Don't know who Rudolph Wizencamp is? Well, neither does Harry, he's only lived in the wizarding world for a few months after all. We can reason by dramatic convention and conservation of detail, but for Harry, the list of all possibilities raised by the facts about the wizarding world that he's aware of is far from exhaustive.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-23T02:22:33.168Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore told Harry in the "Today your war has begun" speech that Bellatrix was one of three things Voldemort needed to return as strong as he was before.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-23T02:45:27.460Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What were the other two things?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-24T10:32:05.353Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

See chapter 61:

The flesh of his servant, willingly given; the blood of his foe, forcibly taken; and the bone of his ancestor, unknowingly bequeathed. Voldemort is a perfectionist -" Albus glanced at Severus, who nodded agreement, "- and he would certainly seek the most powerful combination: the flesh of Bellatrix Black, the blood of Harry Potter, and the bone of his father.

Though personally I think Albus Dumbledore's blood (if he could obtain it) and Salazar Slytherin's bone (if he could find such) would be a more interesting combination; as it differs from canon in all three elements.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-24T16:32:14.703Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I have alarm bells going off in my head and I feel like I read something suggesting that Quirrell took Harry's blood at some point in time. Or that Harry bled in his presence. Or something. This could be a fake memory though because it's very vague.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-24T17:49:18.869Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Was it this bit?

"He didn't have any choice," said Harry. "Not if he wanted to fulfill the conditions of the prophecy."

"Give me that," said Professor Quirrell, and the newspaper leaped out of Harry's hand so fast that he got a paper cut.

Harry automatically put the finger in his mouth to suck on, feeling rather shocked, and turned to remonstrate with Professor Quirrell -

comment by moridinamael · 2012-05-02T00:32:34.732Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Earlier in this very same chapter, Harry tells Quirrell that he can't imagine Quirrell hurting someone unless he means to. (This was in context of their discussion of the Gryffindor who cast a dark curse without knowing what it did.)

So we can assume that either Quirrell isn't as precise as Harry thinks and accidentally hurt Harry, or that he's exactly as precise as Harry thinks and took the blood on purpose.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-26T03:00:57.937Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Snape tells Moody that the "bone of the father" has to be removed from the original grave during the ritual. It stands to reason that the other two components must be sacrificed during the ritual as well.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-26T03:14:08.551Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good point. (Why is it a reply to me rather than chaosmosis?)

comment by 75th · 2012-04-26T03:22:26.176Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I couldn't decide where to put it! Your post was kinda sorta a furtherance of chaosmosis's point, and and it could have been a reply to ArisKatsaris below too, and and it was just so confusing!

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-24T18:35:31.352Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nice catch! Upvoted.

But personally I doubt it has some deeper significance. Quirrel seemed honestly distracted by the article at that time -- and a papercut doesn't leave much if any blood on the paper... as the paper moves away fast enough that blood doesn't even have time to flow on it.

comment by JGWeissman · 2012-04-24T18:41:55.299Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I find "a papercut doesn't leave much if any blood on the paper... as the paper moves away fast enough that blood doesn't even have time to flow on it" way more convincing than "Quirrel seemed honestly distracted by the article at that time".

comment by HonoreDB · 2012-04-24T19:05:06.871Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

a papercut doesn't leave much if any blood on the paper... as the paper moves away fast enough that blood doesn't even have time to flow on it.

It is possible to engineer, though, if you're manipulating the paper with great telekinetic precision. I accidentally bloodstained a book that way when I was about Harry's age.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-09-16T01:00:39.556Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Though it must be said that in canon, it didn't take much. After cutting Harry's arm with a dagger, "Wormtail, still panting with pain, rumbled in his pocket for a glass vial and held it to Harry's cut, so that a dribble of blood fell into it."

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-24T18:30:55.382Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That was it.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-24T17:00:41.885Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I also don't remember anything specific about Harry bleeding in any chapter, but an opportunity to take it unawares would have been just before chapter 60, when Harry was sleeping in Quirrel's presence.

A potential problem with Quirrel doing this is that the ritual's requirements seem to distinguish between "forcibly" and "unknowingly". It's possible that he'll have to do it by directly forcing Harry to give up his blood, not by deceiving or tricking him, or even letting him lie unconscious while he's pulling it out.

comment by shminux · 2012-04-24T18:38:48.604Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This assumes that Harry is V's foe, not an obvious assumption in this fanfic.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-27T04:53:33.523Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I was referring to a question of objective fact, not a prediction or speculation. Saying that Harry bled in Quirrell's presence in no way assumes that Harry is Voldemort's foe. Your comment wasn't relevant to mine.

Neg karma, anyone care to explain why?

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-09-16T00:44:54.118Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry has also fallen asleep around Quirrel since then, in the warehouse after the prison break.

comment by shokwave · 2012-04-23T02:49:43.471Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Bone of ancestor, blood of sworn enemy (assuming Bellatrix will fulfil the 'flesh of servant' role; it seems very likely.)

That is how it went in canon, anyway, although Voldemort used Peter Pettigrew as the servant there.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-24T10:26:41.106Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nitpick: You're not wording it exactly right. In canon it said "bone of the father" and "blood of the enemy" -- not "bone of the ancestor" nor "blood of sworn enemy".

comment by shokwave · 2012-04-24T12:00:14.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Right.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-23T01:59:30.596Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point about Bellatrix not being a very capable servant. Hmmm...

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-23T01:55:50.015Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

We can also remember that harry was asked by Lesath Lestrange, which gives you an obvious other option for someone who would want to break her out. Having a child who loves her is going to change his view of the evilness of breaking her out.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-22T20:53:42.855Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe Ridvolquir interpreted the prophecy as saying he can't defeat Harry until Harry becomes a Dark Lord???

For Harry to be the Dark Lord in the prophecy, and Voldemort the one with the power to defeat him, would require Voldemort to be born to those who thrice defied Harry. Taken literally the prophecy requires the one with the power to defeat the Dark Lord to be younger than him.

Quirrell's explanation of his motives for breaking Bellatrix out of Azkaban (she might know something useful, also a whim, see Ch. 60) aren't terribly satisfying

Yeah, they're not satisfying to me either. If Bellatrix knew any rare and dangerous magic, I'd expect Dumbledore to have learned whatever he could from her by whatever means are within his moral restraints, and then Obliviated her to stop anyone else from doing the same thing. This puts some restraints on Quirrill's magic usage, too: if he uses any magic that he taught to Bellatrix, Dumbledore will recognize it.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-22T21:08:18.951Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that was a hypothetical alternate interpretation of "and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal", actually.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-23T02:00:28.908Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that was my intent. The thought is that Voldemort thinks that by helping Harry become a Dark Lord, he can fulfill that part of the prophecy.

comment by asr · 2012-04-22T17:54:34.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe Ridvolquir interpreted the prophecy as saying he can't defeat Harry until Harry becomes a Dark Lord???

Or possibly he is lying.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-23T02:17:32.619Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, though somehow I believe him. Though if RidVolQuir can lie well enough that I believe him, with all my extra knowledge, no wonder Harry is fooled.

Reasons for believing him, though, are:

  • The "don't want to be a Dark Lord, not enough fun" rationale fits very well with what else we know about the HPMOR version of the character.
  • Shows other signs of being sincerely interested in teaching.
  • Was pissed off when Harry disagreed with his Yule speech, and apparently not just because Harry said so in public. Rather, he seems to really cares that Harry agree with him about it.
  • Has made a matter-of-fact prediction that Harry will become a Dark Lord, if he learns everything Quirrell has to teach. And he wasn't trying to deter Harry from that path, which suggests Harry going in that direction (if not succeeding) is a part of his plans.
  • Was annoyed with Harry when Harry wouldn't go along with his fake-defeat-of-Voldemort plan.
  • This quote: "I wish for Britain to grow strong under a strong leader; that is my desire. As for my reasons why," Professor Quirrell smiled without mirth, "I think they shall stay my own." Given Quirrell's Yule speech, the first part is pretty clearly true, and the second part is consistent with a plot with a component (Harry becoming Dark Lord) that in principle can't be concealed from Harry, but whose end result isn't in Harry's best interest.

Note: I've suspected Quirrellmort was sincere about the "help Harry become Dark Lord" thing for a long time, but I recently re-read Chs. 60-66, which greatly increased my confidence about that.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-25T02:55:48.250Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Was pissed off when Harry disagreed with his Yule speech, and apparently not just because Harry said so in public. Rather, he seems to really cares that Harry agree with him about it.

I think the Yule speech was largely to set up the wizarding world to take Harry as their Dear Leader. Having Harry argue against it was not what Quirrell had in mind.

Quirrell:

It should have been obvious even to you that you should have stayed silent, and consulted with me first, not spoken your worries before the crowd!”

I think he wants Harry to be the Dark Lord too, so that in the end he can take over his body like Quirrell's and rule as Dark Lord Harry, when Harry seems to defeat Voldemort.

comment by DanArmak · 2012-05-06T01:18:09.648Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The "don't want to be a Dark Lord, not enough fun" rationale fits very well with what else we know about the HPMOR version of the character.

And yet he played the role of Dark Lord for many years, even after he quit his Savior persona because that wasn't fun enough.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-23T02:55:54.379Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This post helps a lot. I knew that all the evidence for Quirrell = Voldemort was insurmountable, but I was uneasy with the conclusions everyone seemed to be drawing for it. I realize that this was because I was viewing RidVolQuir as evil, like canon Voldemort, rather than as the unique agent he is. I agree with your analysis, although I think RidVolQuir will turn sinister soon enough (unless Snape does something soon?).

One thing that your analysis can't explain very well: Quirrell's involvement with the plot to get Harry's friends.

Maybe it was Snape who planned the plot. Snape's motives are a complete unknown right now, but clearly important. But Quirrell still warned Hermione to leave which seems like evidence against Snape being the culprit. Only now I realize that telling Hermione to leave is what a good and sane teacher with concern for her well being would do. So that would resolve this fairly well.

Sorry for the stream of consciousness style of this comment.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-24T04:13:04.599Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that your analysis can't explain very well: Quirrell's involvement with the plot to get Harry's friends.

The standard explanation is that they were a good influence on him. In chaper 66 Harry tells Quirrell that after the Azkaban debacle:

"Lessson I learned is not to try plotss that would make girl-child friend think I am evil or boy-child friend think I am sstupid,"

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-24T04:54:18.101Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I said "one thing that [his] analysis can't explain very well: Quirrell's involvement with the plot to get Harry's friends" I was falsely thinking that only wholly evil motivations could motivate that plot. But it could have easily been for some distorted and twisted version of the greater good.

I don't like the idea of RidVolQuir being wholly evil, such beings are improbable. I initially hoped for and thought I would receive a sympathetic Voldemort. Unfortunately I no longer think that's going to happen because I think that the post dementor attack Harry evil mode which wanted to kill everyone is meant to be evidence that Harry is Voldemort's Horcrux, which would also indicate that Voldemort's soul is inherently and totally evil. I don't like that idea and hope my prediction is wrong.

The grandparent of this comment made me feel a little better about the odds of a not-totally-evil Voldemort, but not very much better. Now that I think about it though, since RidVolQuir has thus far been portrayed in such a way that allows the reader to sympathize with him, maybe even a Voldemort with the automatic killing response would still somehow manage to be less boring and more realistic than I anticipate. That seems like it would be tough to pull off though.

comment by drnickbone · 2012-05-04T22:58:20.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that's been really puzzling me since re-reading TSPE - why exactly DID Quirrell break Bellatrix out? If it's to do the resurrection spell (as in canon) then why not take Harry's blood right after the prison break, and just resurrect already? (Further, it assumes that Voldemort's body was dead in the first place and needed resurrecting, which we can't assume because Godric's Hollow looks like a set-up.)

But Quirrell's own claimed motive (to learn some of Salazar Slytherin's secrets) is even dodgier. If Quirrell actually is Voldemort, then he knows those secrets anyway. (Or does he? If he died, them perhaps his Horcrux memory doesn't count as a living mind within the smallprint of the edict of Merlin).

So I observe that I am confused.

comment by MBlume · 2012-04-19T05:23:01.576Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Wondering how Dumbledore knew Harry was planning on reformulated Quidditch. Seems possible that he was just on the platform.

On a related note, it occurs to me that we should just assume there's two Dumbledores running around any time anything important happens. No immediate consequences leap out at me, though =/

comment by LauralH · 2012-04-19T05:33:25.771Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Likely, he read F/G or Ron's mind.

comment by gRR · 2012-04-19T10:54:21.925Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Seems possible that he was just on the platform

Yes, I always assumed so. Same way he knew about Harry's mysterious conversation with Lucius. Heh probably didn't need Harry to repeat it, but used the occasion for some teaching ("write it down!") and for checking Harry's honesty and trust.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T12:06:05.437Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think if he had actually been there to overhear it he would have handled the trial a little differently. It seems very likely at this point that he didn't get "Lucius thinks I'm Voldemort" from Harry's retelling, and he certainly would if he had heard it himself.

And I don't see the fact that he knew of Harry's encounter with Lucius as needing any particular explanation; it happened in public, with at least one person who might have spoken to Dumbledore about it standing right there.

comment by gRR · 2012-04-19T12:44:25.844Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore's apparent knowledge and how it is used or not always seemed inconsistent to me (example).

Regarding Harry's dark side=Vold's Horcrux, there were many hints that Dumbledore knew it from the beginning (Tolkien quote, inappropriate laughs at exactly the right places, questions about Dark Wizards). So he would be able to deduce Lucius' thoughts from Harry's story, even without being there.

But I'm not sure how the knowledge (or its lack) would affect his behavior in the trial.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T13:45:22.912Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

About the Horcrux (what brought this up?): Dumbledore implied to McGonagall that there was only one Horcrux. It's possible to construct reasons why he would do that when he knew there were more, but it's evidence against the idea.

And the trial: Dumbledore seemed to be basing his actions on a rather bad model of Lucius. Unless you think the outcome of the trial was what Dumbledore had in mind?

comment by gRR · 2012-04-19T14:07:55.954Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

what brought this up?

Knowledge that Harry is a Horcrux, plus Harry's recitation of his encounter with Lucius, are sufficient to deduce that Lucius thinks Harry=Voldemort. So, "Dumbledore doesn't appear to know this during the trial" is not evidence for or against "Dumbledore overheard Harry-Lucius conversation".

Dumbledore implied to McGonagall that there was only one Horcrux.

He only implied there was one that needs to be found.

And the trial: Dumbledore seemed to be basing his actions on a rather bad model of Lucius.

Could you show specific bad actions that Dumbledore would perform differently if he knew Lucius' thoughts about Harry (assuming he actually didn't)?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T14:22:37.549Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

He only implied there was one that needs to be found.

...Oh.

Could you show specific bad actions that Dumbledore would perform differently

You know, reading back through, I actually can't. So, um, nevermind then.

comment by gRR · 2012-04-19T13:19:34.264Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And I don't see the fact that he knew of Harry's encounter with Lucius as needing any particular explanation; it happened in public, with at least one person who might have spoken to Dumbledore about it standing right there.

I just went and reread "38. The Cardinal Sin". The only strange remark that Madam Longbottom heard is:

"Of course..." said Lucius slowly. "I do feel the fool now. This whole time you were just pretending to have no idea what we were talking about."

It's not obvious, to put it mildly, to get from this to "writing notes about a long mysterious conversaion".

EDIT: Hmm. Or maybe it is obvious to Dumbledore...

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-19T13:40:27.621Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it kind of is, actually.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T13:27:18.625Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Prediction time!

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll feel forced to kill Quirrel: 0.2 > p > 0.15 [UPDATED from 0.1 > p > 0.05]

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll feel forced to kill Dumbledore: 0.12 > p > 0.08

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll end up killing the wrong person (bad judgement call on Harry's behalf): 0.15 > p > 0.1

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll end up killing the wrong person (bad execution on Harry's behalf): 0.1 > p > 0.05

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll not kill the right bad guy at the right time hence become indirectly responsible for the deaths of innocents: 0.3 > p > 0.2

  • Please add and/or comment on predictions.
comment by kilobug · 2012-04-18T13:51:34.141Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Your probabilities seem way too low to me. Just one chance in 10 that because of the vow he'll be forced to kill the one we have many evidence to believe he's the arch-enemy ? Can you elaborate the reasons why you put such a low probability to that ?

comment by DanArmak · 2012-04-18T16:15:08.537Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think he can kill Quirrel. Certainly not without a very cunning plan and Dumbledore at his side. And vice versa.

ETA: by vice versa I meant he can't kill Dumbledore without Quirrel's help.

I'm sure Quirrel could kill Harry very easily if he so desired.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T17:02:26.417Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think he can kill Quirrel. Certainly not without a very cunning plan and Dumbledore at his side. And vice versa.

At least, not by the end of the school year!

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T15:37:44.186Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, of course. First of all, I just updated it to 0.15-0.20. This might actually be a bit high, but I've set it higher than what I feel is right due to my bias (consisting of Eliezer finding a more interesting way of writing the story).

It is "so low" due to the following:

  • a) I believe that Quirrel is not seeking a physical confrontation with Harry (earlier we saw him toss Harry a knut (that could have been a portkey to a volcano))

  • a.1.) Harry wouldn't win such a confrontation (a sneak attack would of course be much more likely to get the job done)

  • a.2.) If there is a confrontation and if that confrontation ends with the death of Quirrel, I expect the wands or Lily's ritual to be the deciding factor, not any action of Harry's.

  • b) I consider it most probable that Quirrel tries to turn Harry to his ways (0.6 < p < 0.5)

  • b.1) Harry might try to counter-turn Quirrel. I do doubt though that this will end with one of them dying. Killing one another seems so irrational...

  • c) if Harry decides Quirrel must die, he'd do better using henchmen

[I'm now officially not a fan of the editing options here]

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-18T16:40:48.703Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, I think part of my surprise was from a different understanding of "he'll feel forced to kill Quirrel", to me that means "he'll take the decision of trying to kill Quirrel, using whatever indirect plan, surprise, henchmen, ... in the process", not just a one-to-one fight in which Harry kills Quirrel (like the way he kills Voldemort in the cannon). I agree the probability of such one-to-one fight is quite low.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T19:31:04.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Even so, I doubt Quirrel would leave clues as to him killing anyone (due to him knowing Harry doesn't like killing and me believing b))

comment by LauralH · 2012-04-19T07:17:20.639Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, Harry really really doesn't want to kill ANYONE. He didn't even want to kill the nasty canon-style description of sadistic!Voldemort, for pete's sake.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-19T18:40:20.273Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the probabilities sounded high! He said he'd take the killer of Narcissa as his enemy, but did he promise to kill? I'm not sure why SkyDK and to a greater extent you are moving straight to killing - albeit his intent to kill has been noted, but he's also very anti-death.

If the vow really did say he would kill, maybe higher. But I don't find Harry's obsession with keeping the vow plausible: I think it's Author Avataring, either straightforward/accidental or because Eliezer is quite deliberately exploring his own challenges and by extension that of other could-be Eliezer-types.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-19T21:59:08.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think SkyDK was referring to the vow he made in chapter 85, that he'll try the superhero way (not killing his enemies) as long as no one dies (be it a friend or just a by -stander), but that the day someone days because of his enemies, he'll no longer restrain himself and kill them. Not to the "old" vow about avenging the death of Narcissa.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-18T14:37:57.181Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I feel pretty confident that he won't directly kill Dumbledore (also I feel that Dumbledore is innocent, which influences my belief that Harry won't kill him).

I think he'll do something based on his belief that Dumbledore is evil, and that his action will be stupid and put Dumbledore or some other people into danger, probably in danger from Quirrell. That's a standard module in these kind of stories.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-18T13:29:24.927Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Try putting an additional line break after each of your examples. That will come out more like (I infer that you) intended.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-18T15:41:10.427Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Our time zones are different (hence you might have written me in the middle of my writing), but I think I reached my goal: thank you for your help. I'm still struggling a little bit with the interface.

comment by Manfred · 2012-12-13T06:07:55.914Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are muggle artifacts containing immense investment of intelligence. I bet some sort of Potions Master could make an unprecedented intelligence potion - or at least one good enough to let them figure out how to make the next one...

The potion should make a soft "foom" when stirred.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-12-13T08:49:41.618Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

An intelligence potion? Sure. But being smarter doesn't help you make more powerful intelligence potions. And potions wear off. And EY can't write a character more intelligent than he is. And it would probably require destroying something unique, otherwise you could just photocopy a calculus textbook for infinite smarts without actually inputting any intelligence.

... but there are probably intelligence potions of some kind.

comment by Manfred · 2012-12-13T14:55:08.610Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

being smarter doesn't help you make more powerful intelligence potions.

Huh, so are you of the opinion that all the useful potions have been discovered already, or that discovering potions does not depend at all on intelligence?

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-12-13T19:28:01.821Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Discovering new potions, sure. That doesn't help you brew a more powerful intelligence potion.

In fact, there may not be such a potion; IIRC Harry resolved to research such things early on, so presumably it's either unavailable or beyond his skill level.

Also, if a potion can let you discover new potions, wouldn't potion-makers already have done so? It depends how narrow potion-space is, I guess ... it seems to be wider than in canon.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-11-03T15:02:44.078Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Latest Author's Note Update.

There’s a chance here to reach up toward that impossible dream of a better world where people aren’t crazy all the damn time, because believe it or not, nobody’s really tried anything like this before. [...] Science, reason, and rationality – it’s what Muggles use instead of magic, and it’s all we’ve got.

I thought it was really inspiring.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-09-17T01:23:26.132Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

From chapter 74: "Even so, the most terrible ritual known to me demands only a rope which has hanged a man and a sword which has slain a woman; and that for a ritual which promised to summon Death itself - though what is truly meant by that I do not know and do not care to discover, since it was also said that the counterspell to dismiss Death had been lost."

I missed this the first time I read it, but to me, it seems to pretty clearly refer to creating a dementor - Quirrell doesn't understand what it means because he doesn't know about the true patronus charm. Anyone have any theories on how this will be used, or if I'm off entirely? I can't imagine Harry creating a dementor, and Harry never seems to realize what this actually means. But Quirrell seems like he would if Harry ever told him about the true patronus form.

http://predictionbook.com/predictions/8287

http://predictionbook.com/predictions/8286

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-09-17T08:48:49.000Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Having just read most of Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethsar series, I recognize now this as a reference to the spell of Seething Death.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-09-18T11:34:10.738Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Darn, I was sure it referred to the secret origin of the dementors, and/or the deathly hallows.

Oh well.

I suppose it was just a misdirection for (from?) this:

the chant of every ritual names that which is to be sacrificed, and that which is to be gained [...] always, in each element of the ritual, first is named that which is sacrificed, and then is said the use commanded of it.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-09-18T11:44:42.983Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

... And now I've found this and don't know what to think.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-09-18T11:49:27.076Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There's no necessary incompatibility. The specific ingredients may have been chosen to be a homage and a reference to Lawrence Watt-Evans Seething Death and yet the described ritual can still contain foreshadowing for HPMoR's plot as well.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-09-18T12:06:01.965Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose. I'm less worried about the ingredients as the "missing counterspell". It just seems too central to the plot - I can't see the whole story being based on something that's a reference to something else. As I said, I'm still updating on the possible connection to the opening paragraph.

comment by Quirinus · 2012-09-25T19:00:03.777Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I missed this the first time I read it, but to me, it seems to pretty clearly refer to creating a dementor - Quirrell doesn't understand what it means because he doesn't know about the true patronus charm.

I think it was implied that he somehow deduced that the dementors are a physical manifestation of death, possibly even before Harry's showcase of the true Patronus spell.

"No," Professor Quirrell said, sounding rather severe. "You don't tell us why, Mr. Potter, you simply tell us that we are not to know. If you wish to devise a hint, you do so carefully, at leisure, not in the midst of conversation."

Harry nodded.

"But," said the Headmaster. "But, but what am I to tell the Ministry? You can't just lose a Dementor!"

"Tell them I ate it," said Professor Quirrell, causing Harry to choke on the soda he had unthinkingly raised to his lips. "I don't mind. Shall we head on back, Mr. Potter?"

"I ate it". Eat death. Death eater.

Quirrell can't perform the true patronus because he isn't as hopeful and positive about the nature of humanity and the vanquishing of death. As dumbledore put it, he doesn't live, but cowers of fear from death.

And then, more interestingly, in chapter 53, when giving Bellatrix the death eater password:

"Those who do not fear the darkness..." murmured Bellatrix.

The snake hissed, "Will be conssumed by it."

"Will be consumed by it," whispered the chill voice. Harry didn't particularly want to think about how Professor Quirrell had gotten that password. His brain, which thought about it anyway, suggested that it had probably involved a Death Eater, a quiet isolated place, and some lead-pipe Legilimency.

Compare it to the plan Harry's dark side came up with on Chapter 81:

Say that, to set up the if-then expectation, and wait for people to understand and laugh. Then speak the fatal truth; and when the Aurors' Patronuses winked out to prove the point, either people's anticipations of the mindless void, or Harry's threat of its destruction, would make the Dementor obey. Those who had sought to compromise with the darkness would be consumed by it.

That's way too nice of a parallelism in prose for it to be a coincidence.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-09-17T08:02:23.127Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... Why would Quirrell create a dementor?

Considering he is especially weak to them, and the one Harry destroyed vowed to hunt him down as soon as it saw him.

Unless, of course, it gives you a personalized Deathly Hallow. Hmm.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-09-17T14:52:14.818Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort used dementors in his army in cannon. That was my thinking.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-09-17T16:28:12.370Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That is a marvelous image, which is making me giggle.
Sadly, I suppose you probably meant "canon."

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-09-17T17:38:15.723Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hehehe, of course.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-09-17T15:43:30.557Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, right.

Suddenly, Harry teaching Qurrelmort how to reduce Dementor effects using the memory of the Stars is looking less wise.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-09-11T03:10:17.821Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm doing a reread.

"In any case, when I was thirteen years old, I read through the historical sections of the Hogwarts library, scrutinizing the lives and fates of past Dark Lords, and I made a list of all the mistakes that I would never make when I was a Dark Lord."

Harry giggled before he could stop himself.

"Yes, Mr. Potter, very amusing. So, Mr. Potter, can you guess what was the very first item on that list?"

Great. "Um... never use a complicated way of dealing with an enemy when you can just Abracadabra them?"

"The term, Mr. Potter, is Avada Kedavra," Professor Quirrell's voice sounded a bit sharp for some reason, "and no, that was not on the list I made at age thirteen. Would you care to guess again?"

Why does Quirrell react this way? I see two major possibilities.

  1. He is picky about using the proper term. That's the surface appearance, and it jives well with the model of Professor Quirrell as a formerly evil teacher. But, we have to realize that ambiguous data might count as non ambiguous data when dealing with Professor Quirrell, because his skills at deception are so great. I think it's convincing that he might respond sharply to Harry misusing a term like that, but we don't see him do anything else in the book like that. And, if he was primarily focused on teaching, shouldn't he have been happier that Harry clearly understood the lesson he was trying to hammer into them, rather than focusing on a technical mistake? I think it's pretty convincing, but not an accurate explanation.

  2. He took it personally. Specifically, this might have happened because he had the opportunity to simply avada kedavra Harry, but then he didn't. I don't believe that it's ever been confirmed in HPMOR that Harry actually got hit by the killing curse. Using more meta clues, Harry's alternative to avada kedavra'ing your enemies is a suspiciously specific sort of scenario, but yet also a very obvious lesson. Voldemort would have been upset that Harry so easily recognized what his mistake was. I also think Harry's lighthearted tone would do a lot to provoke Voldemort. The combination of these things might have made Quirrell's mask slip.

I guess I don't really think there's any strong evidence for two, but it's just interesting to me how reading the book two times before this allows me to reinterpret Quirrell's behavior. I enjoy this.

comment by Benquo · 2012-09-12T21:45:50.795Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

1 sounds plausible because the name of the spell is also the manner in which it is cast; to develop the habit of saying a spell's name wrong could result in an accidental, disastrous misfire.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-09-12T22:34:57.241Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Option 3: Both.

comment by gwern · 2012-09-12T22:26:03.703Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think #1 is much more plausible. Notice that Draco did not misuse any terms, and addressed Quirrel twice as 'Professor'; saying 'Abracadabra' is flippant and a tad contemptuous of the greatest gem of Quirrel's chosen field.

The personal version seems to either trade on knowledge of canon (not the first time, though! and such references can be spotted on the first read-through) or presume a version of Voldemort's fall we currently have no evidence for, although this is certainly a controversial topic.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-09-12T22:34:35.436Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The personal version seems to either trade on knowledge of canon (not the first time, though! and such references can be spotted on the first read-through) or presume a version of Voldemort's fall we currently have no evidence for, although this is certainly a controversial topic.

I don't understand why the personal version would trade on knowledge of canon. I was intending for the version of Voldemort's fall to be the conclusion that the personal version argued towards, rather than its starting assumption.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-09-03T17:48:58.472Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know if anyone discussed this before, but it's been bugging me for a while.

It's supposed to be impossible to bring information back more than six hours with any combination of time turners. The obvious method would be that once someone delivers a message to you from the future, you can no longer go back in time further than six hours before when they're from. This wouldn't really work. Every time you travel back, you bring the information that you were not stopped by a time-traveler. Either the time turner never works, or anyone that's going to use one will be somehow completely immune to anything a time traveler does. They could send a black hole from the future that devours the planet, and you'd have to not only survive, but not even notice. Or, at least, you'd have to have a doppelganger that appears to come back from the post-black hole future but doesn't know about it.

comment by Kindly · 2012-09-03T23:16:04.096Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You're right. In fact, in the story we already have questionable use of information travel:

There was another pause, and then Madam Bones's voice said, "I have information which I learned four hours into the future, Albus. Do you still want it?"

Albus paused -

(weighing, Minerva knew, the possibility that he might want to go back more than two hours from this instant; for you couldn't send information further back in time than six hours, not through any chain of Time-Turners)

- and finally said, "Yes, please."

If there were a hard limit of some sort, then Dumbledore wouldn't be able to go back more than two hours after hearing that question, no matter what, because "there will be information in 4 hours" is itself information. The limit is somehow more complicated than that, which opens it up for abuse.

I expect this to be a plot point eventually.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-09-03T21:33:35.750Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

So you're thinking of something like this?

Alice: Okay, it's almost noon, and we've been sitting alone in this room for some hours now without seeing Carol, and this plan has been in place since last night. Bob, you wait until 6pm, and then check to see if the enemy has reached the pass yet. If they haven't, come back and tell me. But if they have, stay when you are - and if I don't hear from you at noon, I'll go back to 6am and tell Carol.

And then Carol-at-6am has information about whether the enemy has reached the pass at 6pm?

comment by DanielLC · 2012-09-04T03:07:28.192Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. You can actually make arbitrarily long chains. You have each person go back in time and stop the next person if they're not stopped. You "start" the chain at the end, and depending on when you do it, you can send back one bit. For example, you give Alice, Bob, Carol, and Daniel time turners. At midnight, Alice goes back to stop Daniel if Bob doesn't stop her, at 6:00 AM, Bob goes back to stop Alice unless Carol stops him, etc. If the enemy attacks on the night of the 28th, Daniel stops Carol. If they don't, he doesn't. This means that if they attack, Daniel and Bob go back every day. If he does, Carol and Alice go back. You'd actually need a fifth person to make up for the fact that none of this is instantaneous, but if you have enough time-turners, you can send arbitrarily long messages arbitrarily far into the past.

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-09-05T01:10:08.677Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You don't actually know that Bob didn't see the enemy at the pass, you only know that for some reason, Bob didn't come back and tell you. Perhaps the reason he didn't is because you would have sent that information back in time, and so he couldn't.

Another possibility is that information loses "coherence" the further back it travels. (or forward, depending on which side your standing on) Think of it as a signal to noise problem - six hours isn't the limit, it's the limit of what we can correct for with the magic of the time turners. Prophecy seems to defeat the limit, but only by being nearly incomprehensible.

Or maybe it is possible, but insanely dangerous. There are hints that Atlantis was destroyed by something involving the time stream.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-09-05T03:15:05.738Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps the reason he didn't is because you would have sent that information back in time, and so he couldn't.

But every time someone uses a time turner, they send that information into the past. If it didn't block them then, why would it block them now?

Another possibility is that information loses "coherence" the further back it travels.

There are ways of fixing that. For example, you could send people back in groups of three. Then you have them go back unless they're stopped by at least two people.

Or maybe it is possible, but insanely dangerous.

That's possible. The longer the time stream, the more likely that the closed time loop you end up with involves a hurricane or worse. I believe there was a book where the world ended because someone didn't think about that. You could prevent it by allowing a "maybe", so long as you make it likely enough that something you didn't think of doesn't become more likely.

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-09-05T18:10:22.601Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps the reason he didn't is because you would have sent that information back in time, and so he couldn't.

But every time someone uses a time turner, they send that information into the past. If it didn't block them then, why would it block them now?

Because you would have sent that information back in time. It didn't block them "then" because they weren't going to send the information further back. The effect could be more subtle - instead of preventing you from succeeding, it could prevent you from trying (don't mess with time) or even make you not think of trying.

Another possibility is that information loses "coherence" the further back it travels.

There are ways of fixing that.

No, you can't "fix" it, you can only reduce the effect. If a signal is weak, you can amplify it. But that only works up to a point. And apparently, that point is six hours, even with magical amplification and correction.

I believe there was a book where the world ended because ...

I remember a short story by Larry Niven - Rotating cylinders and the possibility of global causality violation. The short story first appeared in Analog, was reprinted in CONVERGENT SERIES, and it contains the immortal line "I imagine the sun has gone nova". Because the universe protects its cause-and-effect basis with humorless ferocity.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-09-06T05:50:36.968Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It didn't block them "then" because they weren't going to send the information further back.

They weren't planning on it, but the information was sent nonetheless. P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They came back) < P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They did not came back)

But that only works up to a point.

Not really. The amount of time you can send back increases exponentially with the number of people sent back. If you only get it right a third of the time, sending one guy back only works a third of the time, but sending a hundred people back, you'd get about 67 +- 5 people sending the right bit, and you'd get it right about 99.98% of the time. If you have two hundred people, you'd get it right about 0.9999997% of the time.

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-09-06T23:02:16.394Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

They weren't planning on it, but the information was sent nonetheless. P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They came back) < P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They did not came back)

That presupposes that P(Bob came back) is not affected by your decision to send the information further on. I'm postulating that IF you would have sent the information further back, THEN P(Bob came back) = 0. Of course, it might not actually work that way, but if my supposition is correct, then Bob not coming back tells you nothing. The event only carries information if you aren't going to make use of that information.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-09-07T04:40:12.316Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That presupposes that P(Bob came back) is not affected by your decision to send the information further on.

No. I gave an example in which it was not decided to send information back. It's simply impossible to go back in time without proving that you weren't killed by a time-travelling assassin.

comment by Randaly · 2012-09-03T21:53:40.692Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Such a scheme would presumably wind up with the message "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" being sent back.

(A sort of theory of relativity, but for fixed time travel instead of a fixed maximum velocity, would be a more interesting solution. I don't think this is possible to create, however.)

comment by DanielLC · 2012-09-04T03:12:16.300Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This happens whether or not you do it on purpose. Every time anyone goes back in time, they bring information that they weren't stopped. Ergo, if someone brings back a paper that says "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME", you know something was up. It would facilitate the information transfer. And thanks to conservation of expected evidence, every time someone doesn't bring back a paper like that, you are now more certain that something like that didn't happen.

comment by Randaly · 2012-09-04T04:27:23.473Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. My claim was that p(message[*]|attempt to send info back more than six hours)=1. This is at least reasonable- it's almost exactly analogous to what happened to Harry in his experimenting.

[*]: More precisely, that the only result is that a message, with no identifying marks, appears in a location nobody is watching, and so forth. Wizards might still try to draw conclusions from this, but they would be wrong.

[**]: Since this is a fictional universe, we can directly specify its fundamental laws with 100% confidence. If this isn't a fundamental law, then whenever this can be violated so can the 6-hour rule. (eg if this is something Merlin put in place to prevent dangerous experimenting, or whatever.)

comment by DanielLC · 2012-09-04T06:12:33.596Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If someone plans to go back in time, and doesn't plan to be interrupted, they won't normally get the message because they weren't trying to find a loophole. If someone else decides to send a message further back by standing in front of where they were and going back in time, then how will that message change anything? I suppose it could send you the message before you even think about that, but what if it's spur of the moment? Will it send you a message just because you were going to do something? Then again, it's not as if those messages can't be used to get information. Dumbledore totally did that when he found that message saying "no".

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-07-20T06:20:11.133Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_Rock

I have an untrustworthy feeling like I must have been the only person around here who didn't realize this.

comment by Carwajalca · 2013-07-18T08:06:59.886Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nope, you weren't.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-05-22T19:39:30.112Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I just reread this bit, while Harry and Quirrel are discussing where to hide things:

Or ideally you would launch it into space, with a cloak against detection, and a randomly fluctuating acceleration factor that would take it out of the Solar System.

I just noticed that this could be the in-world cause of the Cvbarre Rssrpg.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-05-22T19:43:15.832Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This point has been independently worked out by a few people. I think there have been at least two threads on that subject (a while ago I posted the same thing and someone pointed then to a prior thread discussing the same idea).

comment by 75th · 2012-05-22T21:42:28.825Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, the Cvbarre Rssrpg was recently explained. But then, McGonagall's Presbyterian upbringing was recently explained, as well.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-05-22T23:08:43.478Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you repeat the explanation, or point me to the link? I was pretty sure I wasn't the first person to see that question, but I didn't know it'd been Jossed. I wouldn't mind an explanation of McGonagall's Presbyterian upbringing either.

comment by arundelo · 2012-05-22T23:41:20.838Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Cvbarre Nabznyl has been explained in real life (although according to the relevant Wikipedia entry, this explanation has not yet been universally accepted).

I don't know about the McGonagall thing.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-05-23T13:13:31.131Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Cool! Thanks for the link.

comment by 75th · 2012-05-25T00:02:36.789Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Pottermore revealed that Minerva McGonagall's father was a Presbyterian minister, who kinda freaked out when he learned about magic. McGonagall in canon, therefore, was raised knowing perfectly well about Muggles; she wasn't a pureblood raised in the wizard world as MoR depicts.

So what I meant was that given that there's absolutely no way to write himself out of getting McGonagall's backstory wrong, I am perfectly content for Eliezer to not attempt to write himself out of this far subtler discrepancy from reality.

comment by Yuu · 2012-05-12T18:33:27.402Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 23:

If Harry is correct about how magic is inherited, this idea can bring some interesting issues in future chapters. Short resume of Harry's idea: there are recessive magic gene (M) and dominant non-magic gene (N). Magic users have two magic genes (MM), and pair of them are needed to work with magic. Squibs have one magic gene (MN) and muggles have two non-magic genes (NN) all of them can't do magic.

First, how squibs appears? Actually people with MN genes can live between muggles because muggle-borg wizards and witches are born from parents with MN genes. But let's just do not call them squibs. Real squibs are born from couples of witch and wizard and both parents have MM genes. N gene can appear here as a result of mutation only.

Second, half-breeds exist. Magic-users can have children from giants, goblins, veela and, possibly, some other creatures. These half-breed can use magic, and there are two possibilities: they have MM genes or they have some m gene. m gene should be recessive gene, when appears with M gene, because according to HP wiki all known half-breeds can use magic. So half-breeds have MM or Mm genes.

What can Harry do with all these things? He can come with some eugenic proposal how to increase number of wizards, this may even help to make relationship with Lucius better. He can just find this M gene and connect it to the source of magic. But I'm not sure, that Harry will have time for all these, he may have more important goals. I hope he can delegate some of these studies to somebody else, for example, to Draco.

By the way, can Polyjuiced person become pregnant and give birth?

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-05-12T20:18:28.632Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Second, half-breeds exist. Magic-users can have children from giants, goblins, veela and, possibly, some other creatures. These half-breed can use magic, and there are two possibilities: they have MM genes or they have some m gene. m gene should be recessive gene, when appears with M gene, because according to HP wiki all known half-breeds can use magic. So half-breeds have MM or Mm genes.

Canon has Hagrid and Maxime (half-giant), Fleur and Gabrielle (one-quarter veela), and Filius Flitwick (part goblin). Veelas and goblins use forms of magic, but giants don't. That may be not because giants lack the genetic ability, but because they lack the attention or intelligence to learn how to make use of it, though. Goblins appear to have intelligence around human level, but use magic differently from witches and wizards.

Other species noted for using their own flavors of magic include house-elves and centaurs. There aren't any part-house-elf or part-centaur characters in canon or HPMoR, though.

comment by Yuu · 2012-05-13T05:53:41.171Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree about giants, they may lack of training to use wizard's spells, but some of their abilities may be magic-based, for example, spell resistance, extra strength (comparing with non-magical creatures of the same size), maybe some regeneration ability.

Harry can make some broad study of non-human blood and find something interesting.

comment by moritz · 2012-05-15T14:03:45.154Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I dimly recall that in canon, Squibs are actually the children of two wizards. That contradicts Harry's finding directly.

But then Rowling probably didn't have any rules in mind about how magic inherits, so it might be impossible to come up with a good theory that explains everything we know from canon.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-05-18T01:59:31.733Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I had always assumed squibs are caused by point mutations.

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-05-16T17:46:33.209Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If Harry's theory is right, squibs can't be normal genetic descendants (mutation not withstanding) of wizards, but adultery is a very real, very common thing. Cannon does not rule out the possibility, though given that the books were meant to be accessible to children it's not surprising that Rowling doesn't go into detail on the matter.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-02T19:57:05.722Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a new one.

comment by gjm · 2012-05-11T01:19:20.093Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 83 on hpmor.com ends with a "you have reached the story's in-progress mark" note even though it is no longer the latest chapter.

comment by matheist · 2012-05-09T22:38:03.572Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If I were Quirrell, and I wanted Hermione out of Hogwarts, and Dumbledore has warded her against magic, and I failed to convince her to leave, what would I try next?

I would identify those people who have the most influence over her, and attempt to convince them to convince her to leave. Who have we seen to have influence over her? By "influence", I mean that she respects them or might for some reason listen to them. Harry, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Mandy, her parents.

Quirrell likely won't be able to (or won't attempt to) talk Dumbledore, McGonagall, or Flitwick into persuading Hermione to leave. He can put pressure on Harry. Putting pressure on Mandy (either with mind magic or just psychology) might also be effective. Some interrogation techniques involve prolonged deprivation followed by small kindnesses. If everyone hates Hermione, a single friendly face could persuade her to do what she otherwise might not.

He could arrange for Hermione's parents to learn of the events. As McGonagall points out in ch 84, and as Hermione later thinks to herself during her chat with Quirrell, "Mum would want her to RUN AWAY and her father would have a heart attack if he even knew she was being faced with the question."

What other avenues does Quirrell have, besides persuasion? "Hostile magic" and a "spirit [touching]" her would be detected. Can he slip her a potion? Attack her physically? Use non-hostile magic, whatever that might be? Convince her to hex herself? Use hostile magic on someone else force them to attack her physically?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-10T21:45:55.735Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Not magic" seems like the obvious answer to me. RL Humans have been doing terrible things to each other forever without breaking any laws of physics.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-05-11T15:05:46.165Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I were Quirrell, and I wanted Hermione out of Hogwarts, and Dumbledore has warded her against magic, and I failed to convince her to leave, what would I try next?

I would identify those people who have the most influence over her, and attempt to convince them to convince her to leave. Who have we seen to have influence over her? By "influence", I mean that she respects them or might for some reason listen to them. Harry, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Mandy, her parents.

Shouldn't that depend on why he wants her to leave? If I were Quirrell, and I were trying to isolate Harry without him suspecting I was trying to isolate him, I would not encourage him to make the people around him leave. I also wouldn't want to do anything that would risk making the other professors unnecessarily suspicious.

comment by cultureulterior · 2012-05-10T09:09:27.949Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure the Powers that Be at Hogwarts would allow her to be taken home by her parents...

comment by glumph · 2012-05-13T03:59:37.192Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do Hermoine's parents even have the right to withdraw her? Harry's parents apparently do not have such a right:

Muggles had around the same legal standing as children or kittens: they were cute, so if you tortured them in public you could get arrested, but they weren’t people. Some reluctant provision had been made for recognizing the parents of Muggleborns as human in a limited sense, but Harry’s adoptive parents did not fall into that legal category (Chapter 26).

comment by cultureulterior · 2012-05-13T09:31:02.958Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But Professor McGonagall had made other visits after her first trip, to "see how Miss Granger is doing"; and Roberta couldn't help but think that if Hermione said her parents were being troublesome about her witching career, something would be done to fix them...

This quote in particular makes that point...

comment by 75th · 2012-05-09T21:34:32.014Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Some predictions for the next arc and beyond:

The climax where Quirrell's identity and/or motives are revealed will be in the next two arcs (p ≈ 0.8), and possibly in the next arc (p ≈ 0.3).

This last arc ended ominously; I think we're perilously close to seeing some serious shit. I assigned low probability to this happening in the next arc because Eliezer said the next arc picks up immediately after this one. We're still in April, and I have this hunch that maybe Harry's "What do I get if I can make it happen on the last day of school?" line to McGonagall was foreshadowing. I also think we'll get to see Quirrell execute his Christmas Wish plot. And speaking of Quirrell plots,

Quirrell will execute his Final Solution to the Granger Problem in the next arc (p ≈ 0.75) and very possibly succeed (p ≈ 0.5)

The next arc is going to pick up immediately following the last one. I assume that "immediately following" means "the day after". Quirrell might have given her more than one night to consider if he weren't planning on getting rid of her immediately. If seers all over the world have nightmares one night, then presumably something bad is going to happen very soon thereafter. Hermione meeting (or maybe even almost meeting) a horrible demise would send Harry straight to his Dark Side, and who knows what he'd do then.

The worldwide seer activity is due to Harry being about to kill a lot of people. (p ≈ 0.35)

Harry Potter's Dark Side just figured out a reliable way to kill large numbers of people in a small amount of time. Maybe he's about to use it.

The Trigger Warnings are next going to be updated for a chapter called Gur Olfgnaqre Rssrpg. Vs n ohapu bs crbcyr jngpu Urezvbar trg uheg naq yrg vg unccra, Uneel zvtug qrpvqr gurl nyy arrq gb qvr.

Or, if you connect Harry's two unwittingly ominous resolutions that directly preceded the two Trelawney nightmares, he might decide that everyone in Britain who supports Azkaban's use of Dementors needs to die. All he needs is a broadcast medium to disable the country's Patronuses, and he can send a Dementor to create a wizarding holocaust.

I assign low probability to this not because I think the clues don't point reasonably strongly in this direction, but because I fail to see how Harry and the story could recover from it. Perhaps Dumbledore would subdue Harry and take him into hiding? But then we wouldn't see the end-of-year stuff at Hogwarts, unless it happens two or three arcs from now.

At some point, Harry will break his Time-Turner to get out of a sticky situation. (p ≈ 0.85)

Twice in early chapters we were told that strange things happen when Time-Turners are broken. Once would be an offhand reference, but twice indicates to me that Eliezer has something in mind. If Harry successfully rescues Hermione from whatever Quirrell tries to do to her next, I think this might be how.


Those probabilities are mostly pulled out of thin air, but I've seen other people use them, so apparently it's expected. Is there some systematic method people use to arrive at them, or do you just sort of look out a window and see what number feels right?

comment by 75th · 2012-05-14T00:28:51.779Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I meant to add this when I originally wrote the above post, but forgot, probably because it's pretty obvious:

A major focus of the next arc will be Quirrell teaching the first years to cast Avada Kedavra. (p ≈ 0.9)

Quirrell was antsy to get back to his classes, of which there are not many left. And teaching the Killing Curse is a good way to make sure Harry is deeply in tune with his Dark Side when Quirrell executes his plot against Hermione. Harry's Dark Side will of course be exceptionally good at casting the Killing Curse, and casting it will make it easier for him to stay Dark when he wants to. Whenever Harry next gets back to his Light Side thereafter, he'll be alarmed at how right it felt for him to cast it; indeed, he'll probably start finding it hard to resist casting it whenever something activates his Dark Side.

comment by aleksiL · 2012-05-14T23:36:52.146Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I get the feeling that if Harry learns the Killing Curse he'll manage to tweak it somehow, on the order of Patronus 2.0 or partial Transfiguration.

I arrived at this idea by intuition - it seems to fit, but I don't think there's much explicit support. AFAICT I'm mostly pattern-matching on story logic, AK's plot significance and symmetry with Patronus, and Harry's talent for breaking things by thinking at them.

I think my probability estimate for this (given that Harry learns AK in the first place) is around 30%, but I suspect I'm poorly calibrated.

comment by 75th · 2012-05-15T00:16:37.653Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I'm finding it hard to imagine what a "True Killing Curse" would do differently; the Standard Killing Curse seems to leave things pretty much good and dead. Perhaps it would kill Phoenixes permanently? Offing Fawkes would be a nice Yudkowskian punch in the gut. Or maybe it would kill all of the victim's horcruxes as well? But it'd be a drag if Eliezer introduced the Cvbarre ubepehk only to have Harry discover a shortcut that makes him not have to deal with it.

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-06-14T20:13:26.846Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Circumventing Horcruxes would be one option, certainly. Harry has already thought how blindingly stupid it is that the killing curse must be cast using hate in order to work. If he were going to change anything about it I would imagine that that observation would feature.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-05-14T23:50:41.895Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A common method to get an idea what is the "subjectively correct" number to use as your probability is to imagine yourself betting (a moderate amount of money you would be willing to risk) on the claim, and deciding which odds would you accept. For example, if you would accept betting up to $40 against $10 on your claim, but not more, then the probability you assign to it is 0.8. If you would be willing to bet only up to $10 on a chance of winning $90, then your probability is 0.1.

comment by 75th · 2012-05-15T00:08:03.076Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I actually considered revising all my estimates using the rubric "What would I pay for ten shares of this prediction on Intrade?" But I decided that that method would likely introduce a strong bias based on my financial situation, even if I tried to imagine myself to be in a financial situation closer to the median.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-14T00:48:49.989Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Those probabilities are mostly pulled out of thin air, but I've seen other people use them, so apparently it's expected. Is there some systematic method people use to arrive at them, or do you just sort of look out a window and see what number feels right?

The probability you assign to a hypothesis should accurately represent your degree of belief that the hypothesis is true. Moreover, your degree of belief should be coherent with the rules of probability theory. Unfortunately, we human beings are notoriously bad at probabilistic reasoning. So while there are systematic methods for assigning probabilities based on evidence, it takes a lot of work to use them properly. For a lot of untrained people, myself included, the best we can currently do is see how we feel, attempt to quantify it, and try to constrain it based on rational factors.

If you want to learn more, a few key search words here are "Bayes' theorem," "heuristics and biases," and "debiasing." If you read through the sequences - a daunting task, I know - a lot of it is covered in detail. Or if you'd prefer to read some academic papers and books on the subject, I'm sure I and other users could make recommendations.

comment by arundelo · 2012-05-08T23:46:13.353Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Aaron Swartz (this guy) gave a short but glowing review to HP:MoR in April.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-03T19:08:12.120Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

There has been some confusion on how the time turners work and whether they are compatible with relativity.

This comment is meant to explain the simplified mechanics of it, as outlined in the User Manual.

Time turner keeps track of its world line for up to 6 hours back. When activated, it creates a branch of the whole Universe inside the past lightcone of the spacetime point on that world line and transports the wearer to that branch.

FAQ:

  • Q. Why is my time turner limited to just 6 hours? A. Time turner has to keep track of your personal past well enough to spawn a completely new copy of the universe seamlessly and instantly. This is a lot of information to keep track of, a spacetime volume of roughly 13.6 billion light year^3*year. Your time turner keeps has a perfect snapshot of the current state of the Universe, and it contains a sophisticated magical firmware to extrapolate what this state had been up to 6 hours prior (proper time in the time turner's reference frame). This is done by simulating the universe backwards, which runs into the standard thermodynamical limitations. The hard limit of 6 hours was put in place to prevent the reconstructed copy of the universe from being significantly different from the user's subjective experience.

  • Q. Why does my time turner create a new branch of the universe instead of modifying the existing branch? A. Unfortunately, the laws of General Relativity prohibit any true modification of the past. The GR RFC specifies a unique metric (and therefore unique matter content) for each spacetime point. Any attempt to have two or more copies of the same object at the same point in spacetime would be in violation of the RFC, and so is not supported by your time turner.

  • Q. What happens to the original universe after I activate my time turner? A. The original branch still persists as if no time turner had been activated. However, since there is no known way to communicate between parallel universes, you do not need to worry about anything that happens to the copy of you and anyone you failed to save from a certain death by activating your time turner.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-08-18T02:12:23.182Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I can't believe no-one has pointed this out yet:

The MORverse is timelessl, with a single, self-consistent timeline.

  • Harry's partial transfiguration stems from realizing that reality is timeless.
  • IIRC, Eliezer has mentioned that he thinks our universe is also timeless, and has mentioned this as a fact in other sci-fi works.
  • You can't "change" the past.

There is absolutely no need to debate the way time travel operates in the MORverse. There are, however. other questions about time turners, such as how they define "information from more than six hours ahead" in order to refuse to transport it.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-05-04T03:43:46.308Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Time turner keeps track of its world line for up to 6 hours back. When activated, it creates a branch of the whole Universe inside the past lightcone of the spacetime point on that world line and transports the wearer to that branch.

This seems inconsistent with Harry pranking himself.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T03:49:14.765Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, I guess the inconsistent part is the original Harry disappearing after awhile...

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-05-04T04:01:36.763Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I understand your explanation correctly, the inconsistent part is Harry experiencing the prank the first time through the loop.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T04:15:32.853Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, that one is fine, as long as the story is told from the POV of Harry #2

comment by gjm · 2012-05-03T22:53:09.036Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like it's consistent with how time-turners look to their users, but it's not so clear that it fits with how their use looks to other people. Wouldn't you expect that (something like) half of all time-turner uses by people other than oneself would appear to fail (i.e., the user vanishes but there's no sign that they reappeared at an earlier time)?

comment by Benquo · 2012-05-07T14:00:54.133Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Much less than half the time. Remember, if Harry1 uses his time turner, he creates Universe2 with Harry2=Harry1_6_hours_ago. But in 6 hours, Harry2 will use his time turner, creating Universe3 with Harry3...

So IF there is a stable time loop of any kind, most universes will have that loop.

This raises the interesting prospect of stable sets of universes, with 6-hour histories A, B, and C. If a Harry that experiences A uses his time turner and does B, and a Harry experiencing B does C, and Harry experiencing C does A, then most copies of Harry will experience an inconsistent time loop, and it will seem like he actually went back and changed time.

If time loops are generally observed to be consistent, then this is evidence that single-state equilibria are much more probable than multiple-state equilibria.

comment by Benquo · 2012-05-07T14:02:59.615Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Note that this explanation does not require Magic to simulate or calculate anything aside from creating a copy of a past state of the universe.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-03T23:01:01.285Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wouldn't you expect that (something like) half of all time-turner uses by people other than oneself would appear to fail (i.e., the user vanishes but there's no sign that they reappeared at an earlier time)?

No, the user does not vanish, it's just half the time time-turner appears to do nothing. Fortunately, the story line both in canon and in HPMoR only traces the path where time-turners work.

comment by gjm · 2012-05-03T23:19:08.035Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

the user does not vanish ... appears to do nothing.

How is that consistent with "transports the wearer to that branch" from your description?

the story line ... only traces the path where time-turners work.

Huh? That's like presenting a story in which one character has a magic pair of dice that always roll 12, and then explaining that how they "work" is that they make the universe branch 36 ways, and in one branch they roll 12 -- and the story "only traces the path where they always rolled 12".

In fact, it's worse. No one who talks about time turners in the story (either canon or HPMOR) says anything like "for some reason, other people's time turners often fail, but you'll never find your own doing so"; there is no suggestion that any such thing has been observed. So is the story "only tracing the path" where nearly all past time-turner use happens to have gone down the "good" branch?

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T00:03:20.398Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How is that consistent with "transports the wearer to that branch" from your description?

Oh, I guess I was unclear. Time-turner does not delete a person from a timeline, this is expensive, unnecessary and violates General Relativity. A new copy of the wearer is inserted in the branched timeline where none was before.

In fact, this insertion is the only part of the time-turner's description that is questionable under any known physical laws: It takes either energy momentum non-conservation or both FTL matter transmission and Lorentz invariance breaking to create something from nothing.

comment by DanArmak · 2012-05-03T23:31:54.930Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So is the story "only tracing the path" where nearly all past time-turner use happens to have gone down the "good" branch?

On a charitable interpretation: every story ever written (excluding directly self-contradictory ones) describes a universe (quantum branch) which exists. Choice of story to write == choice of universe evolution to describe. Shminux just told you what evolution is described by HP stories. It's about as valid as saying "here's a story where magic works, although it never does in our own universe, and the reason is - there's such a universe out there and we just chose to tell its story".

Does that actually explain anything more than saying "it's magic, and here are its laws" would? Probably not. But it's still a perfectly valid statement to make.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T00:04:40.176Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does that actually explain anything more than saying "it's magic, and here are its laws" would?

As I mentioned in the other comment, except for the actual appearance of a person from nowhere in the branched timeline, no laws of physics are broken.

comment by gRR · 2012-05-04T01:54:50.405Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Q. Why does my time turner create a new branch of the universe instead of modifying the existing branch? A. Unfortunately, the laws of General Relativity prohibit any true modification of the past.

It is not actually necessary to change the past. It is sufficient to change the present, including all memories of affected people.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T02:01:45.691Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That seems way harder than simply duplicating an existing state, especially if you believe in esoteric models, like the MWI, where the world splits like there is no tomorrow.

comment by gRR · 2012-05-04T02:12:37.917Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know... you think duplicating a spacetime volume of roughly 13.6 billion light year^3*year is easier than making a few modifications on a small scale? Note, that the ability to make those modifications is already present (teleportation, mind spells, etc).

The MWI/word splitting/etc arguments are somewhat unsatisfactory. Basically, you're saying that anything is possible and happens somewhere. Then, you don't even need Time Turners or any Source of Magic, you just find the MWI branch where the events happened "naturally", and say that your story is about this specific branch.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T03:16:02.403Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree, your approach can also work, though it has other issues (it results in hard-to-smooth-over discontinuities, such as rewriting all of history to match the "new" current date). The again, maybe there is a solution similar to the original ComedTea effect.

you just find the MWI branch where the events happened "naturally", and say that your story is about this specific branch.

In no version of the MWI that I know of you can communicate with the other worlds.

comment by gRR · 2012-05-04T04:19:09.832Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In no version of the MWI that I know of you can communicate with the other worlds.

Why would you need to communicate? You only need to know that the right branch exists.

Also, if "everything happens somewhere" is true, then there must exist branches that look exactly as if communications with other worlds have taken place there, whatever that means.

comment by shminux · 2012-05-04T05:38:04.345Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not keen on discussing the MWI much, but presumably to jump on it you need to find a way to get there somehow.

comment by gRR · 2012-05-04T12:40:48.579Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, you just need to find a branch in which your exact copy "naturally" spontaneously appeared in the place you need.

I'm not keen on MWI explanations either. As I said, they are unsatisfactory.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-04T11:20:22.773Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it makes more sense to hypothesise that HPMOR-universe is a simulation being run in some meta-universe, and that time turners (and magic in general) are examples of complicated, explicit case rules that are hard-programmed into the simulation program.

To quote EY's story "The Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover"...

"Vg npghnyyl qbrf fbhaq zber yvxr zntvp guna culfvpf," fnvq Unebyq Furn, jvgu n frevbhf ybbx ba uvf snpr. "V'ir orra guebhtu rabhtu jbeyqf gb xabj gur qvssrerapr - jul, onpx va zl rneyl qnlf, V hfrq gb geniry nebhaq orgjrra jbeyqf ol qrfpevovat gur ehyrf hfrq gb guvax nobhg gurz! Gur Ynjf bs Fvzvynevgl naq Pbagntvba, gung fbeg bs guvat. Riraghnyyl V jbexrq bhg gur ynjf bs gubhtug juvpu qrfpevorq gung jubyr zhygvirefr, juvpu vf ubj V tbg bhg... ohg bhe fgbevrf pna jnvg hagvy yngre. Naljnl, Znevn, gur ybtvp bs gur riragf lbh'er qrfpevovat vf bar jurer pbafpvbhfarff unf rssrpgf gung gnxr cerprqrapr bire gur ynjf bs culfvpf - jurer ybjre yriryf bs betnavmngvba tvir jnl gb uvture yriryf bs betnavmngvba. Gurer ner havirefrf jurer gur ivfvoyr ehyrf ner fvzcyr, zngurzngvpny, naq shaqnzragny, naq rirelguvat gung unccraf, unccraf jvguva gurz. Naq gurer ner havirefrf jurer gur ivfvoyr ehyrf ner pbzcyvpngrq naq unir rkcyvpvg fcrpvny pnfrf sbe fhesnpr curabzran - naq hfhnyyl fbzr bs gur ivfvoyr ehyrf ner nobhg zragny curabzran, naq qba'g ivfvoyl erqhpr gb ehyrf nobhg aba-zragny cnegf. Jr pnyy gur sbezre fbeg bs havirefr 'angheny', naq gur ynggre fbeg 'zntvpny'. Ol bhe pbairagvbaf, Znevn, lbh jbhyq or pbafvqrerq gb pbzr sebz n zntvpny havirefr - be zntvpny zhygvirefr, engure, fvapr lbh'ir nyernql zbirq nebhaq vafvqr vg naq qvfpbirerq fbzr bs gur ehyrf sbe geniryvat."

This explains why magic is so difficult to explain in terms of physical laws - it's irreducibly complex. Things like being able to sustain human-level cognition even after being transformed into a cat and time turners only counting it as information if you're consciously aware of some specific fact from the future (instead of knowing that there's something you might want to know, as Dumbledore does when Bones asks him if he wants to hear the news from six hours in the future) are products of the fact that that magical rules pay special attention to things like the brain states of humans. Similarly, the laws of thermodynamics are irrelevant because magical laws are just as fundamental and operate as exceptions to these rules - "energy cannot be created or destroyed except when someone waves a wand and says "fridgerio"."

If I'm right, the simulation probably either:

a) selects between possible time-paths on the fly, calculating the most probable path within a given, bounded probability space for any given moment. Most of these tend to not actually be loops at all (they're linear and don't include time travel), but when time turners get involved the universe has to chew through the numbers until it settles on the most probable, stable loop. In this case, the six hour limit may stem from a processing limitation, i.e. the computer can only handle a certain number of calculations at once. This version doesn't inherently explain kooky messages like don't mess with time, so they must be the product of specific, complicated rules too - "allow people to fool around with time unless they try to find primes or otherwise buck the system".

or b) calculated all of time from start to finish in one giant flop. In this case, there are no contingent time-paths, everything happens because it had to happen that way in order for the next thing to happen. In this case, the simulation had to choose not between different possible momentary time paths but different possible universes, and the six-hour limit is probably just a number that the simulators picked to keep things relatively simple. In this case, kooky messages are necessary because that's just what happens to happen in this universe.

Perhaps there is a set of meta-rules governing what the magical laws are, allowing people to invent new spells if they delve deep enough into the mysteries, I think we probably need more information to decide on that point. If such meta-laws do exist then we can expect Atlantis to have been a real civilisation in HPMOR-universe, which formulated most of the magical laws we see today by action of the meta-laws. If there aren't any such meta-laws, Atlantis is probably the civilisation/individual/planet/universe/computer running the HPMOR simulation (or else a previous situation which was used as a test-run for the current one), which would explain how it seems to have been "erased from time". It was never in the universe to begin with, so of course you can't see it by looking into the past.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-05-02T19:51:32.093Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I just noticed that JKR has identified canon!Draco's wife (which is glimpsed at and never named in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows) as "Astoria Greengrass", Daphne Greengrass's younger (by two years) sister.

I wonder if Eliezer knew of this, and if that's part of the reason he made House Greengrass a "Noble and Most Ancient" one...

comment by 75th · 2012-05-03T20:53:09.704Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

TIL that Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis exist in canon, and were not created out of whole cloth by Eliezer for Methods.

comment by redbayes · 2012-05-05T09:08:29.770Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You might find this site helpful to keep track of canon characters: http://familytrees.genopro.com/harry-potter/

I recommend EY to visit it too if possible, since he hasn't read the last few books, this might bring him to date with new developments.

comment by 75th · 2012-05-05T21:22:21.942Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. That's interesting, but its interestingness is damaged by the fact that it lists neither Davises nor Greengrasses.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-05-04T01:42:39.738Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Pretty much all first-year student characters of HPMoR with significant roles existed in canon, at least as names (most of their personalities were not detailed in canon) -- that most definitely includes the entirety of SPHEW, and other important-to-HPMoR figures like Blaise Zabini, and even less important figures like Kevin Entwhistle.

I was just wondering whether the specific making of Greengrass into a "Noble and Most Ancient House" was decided by Eliezer because JKR married off her Draco to a Greengrass family member. Or if it was just a coincidence.

edited to add: TIL I learned what TIL means.

comment by redbayes · 2012-05-05T09:04:30.900Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The "I learned" is redundant, unless you mean that you learned that you just learned what TIL means, in which case you could have prefaced it with a 'that'.

I kid, I kid.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-18T02:38:59.232Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I had forgotten about the vow to Draco. Maybe that was some of Harry's anger at Dumbledore in the previous chapter - not just denial of what Dumbledore may have done, but denial of what he might do about it.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-08-05T19:18:36.959Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I figured out an exploit to make Horcrux users even more invincible.

A. If you make a Horcrux, you cannot be destroyed unless your Horcrux is destroyed.

B. People can be Horcruxes.

QED if one person turns another into a Horcrux and the other reciprocates then they have foolproof immortality.

This method also has three other benefits over the Dark Lord's attempt, that I can think of. First, it requires only two murders, not seven. Second, it causes twice as many people to become immortal. Third, you'll retain a much larger portion of your soul than you would otherwise, and avoid much of the consequent degeneration.

Quirrelmort is playing on the level below mine, clearly.

comment by Locke · 2012-08-06T17:46:17.894Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How about Animagus-ing into an immortal jellyfish? Certainly not an ideal life, but if it lets you keep old age at bay long enough the muggles will discover human immortality.

comment by 75th · 2012-08-19T04:26:22.014Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hangonasec. Is this, like, real? Are there jellyfish that don't die of age? Because your comment seems too random if it's not a real thing. But I'm not going to look it up, because if I do I might see pictures of undying deep sea creatures, which I don't think I can handle.

EDIT: Looked it up, and sure enough. Turritopsis nutricula. No pictures. And maybe lobsters, too. Crazy.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2012-08-11T00:40:37.217Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like it

comment by gwern · 2012-08-05T22:21:12.010Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, that was suggested a while ago. :) It was one of the wilder theories; I don't think I bothered to record a prediction for it.

(IMO, I don't think it works. Consider Voldemort: he was destroyed by an Avada Kedavra and became a wandering spirit anchored by his physical Horcruxes, yes? So what would happen if he and Harry were mutual Horcruxes? You Avada Voldemort; he becomes a wandering spirit anchored by the physical living Harry; then you Avada Harry so Harry becomes a wandering spirit - but wait, there is no physical Horcrux, it was already destroyed! And with Harry now gone, so is Voldemort.)

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-08-10T18:39:49.289Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, Dumbledore claims that Voldemort's soul latched onto Harry's soul, which means that this would work. Dumbledore is very smart and knows much more about magic than I do, so I think that it would probably work.

Souls might not exist in HPMOR. But I think they very well might. Otherwise:

  1. Dumbledore is wrong. That doesn't seem likely on the basis of his general intelligence alone. Since he's really experienced and has access to tons of knowledge Dumbledore is even more likely to be right because he has evidence for souls that we don't.
  2. Magic becomes bizarre. Souls are really the only way to make sense of Human to Animal transfiguration, or the fact that Horcruxes require murder specifically to divide one's identity, and they're referenced a lot elsewhere in the magic system (for example, with the Dementor's Kiss).
  3. Voldemort wouldn't have survived. But he did.

Since there's no HPMOR world evidence against souls, and some evidence for souls, rational people inside HPMOR should believe in souls. This is sort of similar to how rational people from thousands of years ago probably would have been justified in believing in a deistic God.

We, however, have access to a counterargument, because we live outside HPMOR. The best reason to disbelieve in HPMOR souls is that Eliezer probably wouldn't like them. That would overwhelm the above three problems, if Eliezer dislikes souls enough to either put a lot of extra work into the story in order to solve those problems, or enough to feel justified in leaving the problems as is.

I can't evaluate that, because I don't know Eliezer's preferences.

comment by gwern · 2012-08-10T19:14:34.689Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, Dumbledore claims that Voldemort's soul latched onto Harry's soul, which means that this would work. Dumbledore is very smart and knows much more about magic than I do, so I think that it would probably work.

Latching onto Harry's soul doesn't prove that mutual horcruxes would work since it doesn't address my example of destroying horcruxes one at a time, and I'm pretty sure Dumbledore nowhere says that the mutual horcrux scheme would work.

comment by thrawnca · 2016-07-24T22:33:10.930Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

you cannot be destroyed

In the sense that your mind and magic will hang around, yes. But your material form can still be destroyed, and material destruction of a Horcrux will destroy its ability to anchor the spirit.

So, if two people are mutual Horcruxen, you can still kill person 1, at which point s/he will become a disembodied spirit dependent on person 2, but will cease to be an effective horcrux for person 2. You can then kill person 2, which will permanently kill both of them.

All you really achieve with mutual Horcruxen is to make your Horcrux portable and fragile (subject to illness, aging, accident, etc).

comment by sboo · 2014-02-03T13:58:35.283Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

you can only horcrux matter, not "minds".

comment by Locke · 2012-06-02T05:14:58.184Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm very much in favor of removing the Ghostbusters song from canon, and putting it in the Omakes.

comment by Merdinus · 2012-06-02T18:31:27.631Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

No, man. It's era-appropriate and one of the few examples of Weasley awesomeness. It made me grin like a maniac when I read it. I think maybe having Rationalist!Harry chant the chorus was a bit off, but then, people do occasionally show odd bursts of confidence in front of strangers in humorous situations. It's a bit of a character-shift, but appropriate for the circumstance.

Edit: Months later, I just looked at the change, and it saddens me a fair bit. The replacement text feels like filler in comparison, and I'm afraid that when I convince people to try MOR they won't see him in the same awesome light I did so quickly. I feel like some of rationalist!Harry's mischievousness has been removed. I mean, I was almost pattern-matching him to a rationalist Bobobobo, but I enjoyed it.

comment by drethelin · 2012-06-02T19:00:53.997Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree, though the version in the podcast is super awkward

comment by Eneasz · 2012-06-02T19:08:54.829Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was extremely self-conscious and awkward while doing it, I'm not surprised it came through.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2012-08-11T00:51:07.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It wasnt bad Eneasz. Honestly, I will try to sing it some day and it will be way worse than yours but less awkward because I am not making the coolest thing ever for the rest of the interwebz trust me xD anyway tell Hermione shes AWESOME for me.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-08-14T17:11:47.377Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I will let her know. :)

However I think you meant to direct this comment to Eliezer. I'm simply translating the coolest thing ever into audio format, he is doing the actual creating.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-06-02T11:47:44.625Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't understand the song (I haven't watched Ghostbusters), but I think the existence of a song itself to Harry, when he's walking down to the selector hat is a nice, funny point in the history.

That's why I think it must to be kept. It's one of those things that actually makes sense in the HPMOR world.

comment by Locke · 2012-05-14T22:36:18.493Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Even though Harry doesn't have magical-love-protection, I think we should take note of the fact that it's probably still in play and fairly broken.

If Quirrell could get Bellatrix to take a deadly spell from for him, he'd have Love's permanent protection against Dumbledore(if that were the caster). And, with the right amount of cleverness, he could probably arrange for her death to protect all death-eaters in the same way Harry provided protection to all of Hogwarts.

Frankly I wouldn't put it past Dumbledore to arrange for something similiar, for the greater good.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-05-18T02:02:05.537Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The way cannon magic seems to work, love-potion based love probably doesn't count as Real Love for purposes of protection.

Edit: In fact the quote at the top of the Potter wiki article on love potions says:

Powerful infatuations can be induced by the skilful potioneer, but never yet has anyone managed to create the truly unbreakable, eternal, unconditional attachment that alone can be called Love.

comment by Locke · 2012-05-18T22:42:31.618Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Bella isn't under the in