Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9

post by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-09T13:29:52.355Z · score: 10 (15 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 725 comments

Contents

  (The HPMOR discussion thread after this one is here.)
None
725 comments

(The HPMOR discussion thread after this one is here.)

The previous thread is over the 500-comment threshold, so let's start a new Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread.  This is the place to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter fanfic and anything related to it. The latest chapter as of 09/09/2011 is Ch. 77.


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: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.  The fanfiction.net author page is the central location for information about updates and links to HPMOR-related goodies, and AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author's Notes.

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Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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

725 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Solvent · 2011-09-20T10:36:16.274Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Has it occurred to anyone else how good magic would be for psychological experimentation?

To start with, imagine you get the consent of your subjects to be Obliviated. Then, you can try exposing the subjects to differing stimuli while they're in exactly the same starting state, and you can precisely and easily measure the effect of whatever change you've made.

Even better, imagine the marketing opportunities. Think of Mr Hat and Cloak's dictionary attack, but with a focus group, and different advertisements for your new product. Show them the ad, then ask them how much they liked it, then Obliviate them again.

Also, you could try to remove the effect of priming on yourself with self-targeted obliviation.

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen, leaving you with only a note saying "Don't look at SqueeHorse" or something.

I really want magic.

comment by Micaiah_Chang · 2011-09-21T19:21:08.555Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if there's a different attitude toward spoilers or "great works of art" in the Wizarding World because of memory charms. Hats which could charm endings or plots out of people's minds, people who would only read one book over and over again by repeatedly blasting it out of their heads, or museums/theme parks Obliviating any previous experience there so that every time is fresh.

Would also like to see Eliezer lampshade the Snape kills Dumbledore spoiler by having everyone present self obliviate or something similar.

comment by FAWS · 2011-09-20T21:39:49.194Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen

Is this an actual problem rather than just people making a show of how strongly they are disgusted by expressing the wish to unsee, asking for brain bleach etc?

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-20T21:54:15.628Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I dunno, you tell me.

Now see, if you had the ability to Obliviate yourself you would be able to find out what those links lead to.

comment by FAWS · 2011-09-20T22:02:45.210Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Lemon faces, goats and a rick-roll? I don't think I get the joke.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-20T22:05:26.197Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A) Lemon party, not lemon faces.

B) You are way too trusting.

C) DO NOT GOOGLE THOSE THINGS.

D) Ok yes the rickroll was just for fun. But seriously.

comment by FAWS · 2011-09-20T22:26:23.802Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Meh. I did just google lemon party, and the impact was just about zero. That's supposed to be a shock image? Goatse had some impact on me when I first saw it years ago, as did 2g1c, but the mere memory of either of those doesn't (how could a memory shock?). I can't even imagine wanting to erase the memories, what for? I might want to store pleasant memories in a pensive to experience something pleasant "for the first time" a second time in different way, and then restore the original memory, but looking at goatse for the first time is not exactly something I consider pleasant (though not as big a deal as some seem to either).

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-20T22:50:45.568Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I dunno. Personally I haven't been able to look at chocolate milkshakes the same way for a while, and I used to actually like them, so that's a memory I would prefer buried. (But goatse was just mildly impressive, and lemonparty didn't even merit a twinge.) Probably everyone reacts differently to that sort of thing.

What do you think of memetic attacks, e.g. basilisks?

Edit: You know, if you downvoted me for being disgusting that means you agree with my premise. You should be downvoting FAWS, not me! (Not strictly serious.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-09-25T09:58:21.204Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know about what they mean by it on 4chan, but "what has been seen cannot be unseen" applies to certain styles of literary criticism, and I'm not even sure whether some of it is really "what has been "seen" cannot be unseen".

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-09-25T20:03:07.191Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"What has been seen cannot be unseen" refers to disgusting images that one wishes one could forget.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-09-25T22:21:09.302Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's hard to unsee plausible intellectual patterns, too.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-09-25T22:47:51.359Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you give an example? I'm not sure I know what you mean.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-09-26T01:48:46.768Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This is heading straight into mindkiller territory, but there's a style of reading which involves tracking everything that might be offensive in a story. The thing is, sometimes what looks like reasonable deductions of background beliefs is a result, but it's a hell of a way to treat fiction as a matter of habit.

comment by hairyfigment · 2011-09-29T18:05:45.965Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, you might start to think of Aslan as a sapient blood cell for a cosmic horror.

(If you want the details and don't see them after following that link, one of the later comments on this lovely page lays out the major points.)

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-30T02:44:28.548Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the trees, man, the treeees

they're eating the univerrrrse

(That was an awesome link, thank you.)

Edit: It's a good thing I read all the way through the comments again before posting my paraphrase of Eliezer's bit in Amputation of Destiny about there being an "extra lion".

comment by hairyfigment · 2011-09-30T06:45:16.547Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ha, any time.

I suspect Lewis would technically agree with every part of that comment except the obstinate and absurd suggestion that a flat world with a blue dome around it -- through which people can sometimes see the Emperor's teeth mountains surrounding the dome -- has a different origin from our world.

comment by Incorrect · 2011-09-30T02:32:01.440Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Offensive to whom? If you personally aren't really offended by anything, are you immune to this?

In three worlds collide there's the non-consensual sex plot point that some people misunderstood as being misogynist rather than the result of EY selecting a particularly unusual point in culturespace. Is this the kind of analysis you are talking about?

I really just don't see how this meme could infect you unless you already have a disposition of looking for things to take offense to.

Do you have any other examples?

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-30T04:29:00.299Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In three worlds collide there's the non-consensual sex plot point that some people misunderstood as being misogynist rather than the result of EY selecting a particularly unusual point in culturespace. Is this the kind of analysis you are talking about?

People thought that was misogynist? Wasn't it a male being abhorred by a culture in which he may not be forced by a woman? Unless my memory fails me that's totally the wrong offense to be taking. :)

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-10-03T03:52:04.518Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Was there a point to that bit of the story? I'm not objecting to it, I just suspect that I may have missed something; it seemed kind of random.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-10-03T04:07:19.639Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The point as I understand it was to have the humans not have exactly our moral system. Morals evolve over time, and most people in any given generation would be shocked by the ethical and moral attitudes of people a few generations down the line. This attitude of the population reflects that. It also helps broaden the scope of the questions raised by not making one of the moral systems identical to our general moral system, so we don't immediately look at the morality of the humans and just say "but that's the right system!"

Overall, while I think I understand why Eliezer did this, it seems to be a very tiny benefit for a very large distraction. Overall, a net negative in getting his points across.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-10-04T04:21:23.445Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It also has the potential to undermine the point of the story if a reader finds non-consensual sex as abhorrent as eating babies.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-04T04:34:07.923Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Babyeaters vs Superhappies vs Libertarapists:

Whoever wins, we lose.

comment by Incorrect · 2011-10-08T21:29:48.542Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What's wrong with the superhappies?

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-08T23:41:20.824Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You know, I almost made a flippant remark about the abolition of "bodily pain, embarrassment, and romantic troubles" meaning an end to rape (oh no!) when I remembered untranslatable 4 which is arguably even better, so...

More seriously, I don't quite understand your question. There doesn't have to be something wrong with them for them to value different things than we do, such that a victory for them is a loss for us.

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-10-03T20:27:18.350Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

OK, thanks, I agree with you.

comment by lessdazed · 2011-09-25T22:25:03.829Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could I convince you otherwise?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-09-25T22:52:54.660Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd need some evidence. The best would be a method that worked for me. I'm not sure how it could be demonstrated convincingly on other people, but I'm open to suggestions.

Also, does your method (if that's what you're implying) work for visual images?

comment by lessdazed · 2011-09-25T23:02:31.555Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It was a joke, since general beliefs are about plausible intellectual patterns. So long as you refuse to be convinced otherwise, your opinion is automatically at least partially right.

comment by gwern · 2011-10-26T16:52:01.386Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Then, you can try exposing the subjects to differing stimuli while they're in exactly the same starting state, and you can precisely and easily measure the effect of whatever change you've made.

Somewhere on LW, I think, someone suggested that 'discovering perfect psychological manipulation' was a problem akin to NP - hard to find, easy to check. So give rationalist!Voldemort a time-turner, a servant, and a a dungeon...

comment by wedrifid · 2011-10-26T23:32:20.464Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Somewhere on LW, I think, someone suggested that 'discovering perfect psychological manipulation' was a problem akin to NP - hard to find, to check

Did you leave out an 'easy to' in there?

comment by dlthomas · 2011-10-26T23:36:38.443Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I expect just an "easy"

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-22T21:40:23.373Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen, leaving you with only a note saying "Don't look at SqueeHorse" or something.

Given that I was just prompted to google for SqueeHorse I have to wonder how well that would work. (I still don't understand why I wouldn't want to look at SqueeHorse. Is it even a thing?)

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-23T01:36:19.707Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

SqueeHorse is a term for bishōnen yaoi mpreg.

The More You Know ~

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-05T00:54:34.597Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Citation needed.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-05T00:58:47.963Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Click the star.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-05T01:15:15.613Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know what text that image is supposed to represent, and tineye doesn't turn anything up. I'd originally read it as meaning something like "bwahaha, I told you a horrible thing", but your reaction to the grandparent seems to suggest it means something more like "lol, not really".

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-05T01:17:07.505Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh. Sorry. (Tineye didn't turn up anything? That's surprising.)

Reference. Part of the point of being that oblique was not to give away the joke, but eh.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-08T00:36:55.456Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Feel free to downvote.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-08T00:42:27.551Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

...Why would I?

Frankly I'm amazed my own contributions to this conversation haven't been downvoted into the lithosphere for being deliberately misleading. It doesn't even seem that funny, in retrospect.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-08T00:49:23.138Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To make the explanation easier to not see, thus restoring some measure of obliquity.

If you don't want to karma-punish, you could always upvote the invitation for balance.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-08T01:43:01.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you insist!

(I felt surprisingly guilty about it, so I upvoted you twice.)

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-23T05:08:48.201Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

SqueeHorse is a term for bishōnen yaoi mpreg.

A term for that huh? Well, now it all makes sense! I think the 'yaoi' bit is something to with fantasy gay porn for girls. No idea about the other two and I suspect I don't need to know. Fortunately all google gave me for SqueeHorse was a rather cute seahorse. :)

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-09-25T20:01:44.766Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A bishonen is an androgynous-looking pretty male in Japanese anime. mpreg is short for male pregnancy.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-25T22:06:22.264Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You confirmed my suspicion. I didn't need to know.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-22T21:46:38.333Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(Mpreg?)

comment by moritz · 2011-10-04T12:00:17.197Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I guess that too frequent obliviation damages or wears out the mind, and iirc there are several hints that it can be quite cathastrophic if an obliviation goes wrong.

So there probably wouln't be large scale psychologic experiments based on obliviation.

comment by Solvent · 2011-10-05T06:56:32.511Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's a good point. Maybe not "large scale", but some scale.

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-09-22T20:38:13.589Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The focus-group groundhog day attack is used in the classic science fiction story (rot13) Ghaary Haqre gur Jbeyq.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-22T20:55:32.473Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but... what makes a focus-group groundhog day attack more useful than just, you know, having multiple focus groups?

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-09-23T02:36:02.381Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It eliminates variation between focus groups. If people are as deterministic as depicted in MoR chapter 27, the slightest variation in behavior would be a clue about how to refine the ad.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-12-04T09:02:33.879Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds like it would lead to overfitting.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2011-11-03T18:46:04.423Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I have an idea for an epic maneuver that a wizard could perform as a last resort in certain emergency situations. A severely wounded wizard could, if there is something of much greater utility then his own life on the line, transfigure himself into a healthy version of himself in order to continue the fight. This would be a death sentence, but still worth it if the stakes were high enough.

Then again Harry can already sustain a small transfigured object even in his sleep. Perhaps the most powerful of wizards could sustain a transfiguration on their own body indefinitely. Or... Professor McGonagall said that it would be possible for a child to transfigure themselves into an adult bodily form. Perhaps if the wizard could not sustain an object the size of their own body indefinitely after the emergency situation has passed they could again transfigure themselves into a adolescent, child, or midget form in order to achieve a body with a volume that they could sustain. Unless doing another transfiguration would cause the consequences of the previous transfiguration to be imposed on the new form. Though I don't see why that would necessarily be the case.

This would be a very fragile sort of existence. They would be much weaker due to the constant drain on their magic and incapacitation or anything that dispels the transfiguration would result in death.

comment by drethelin · 2011-11-05T07:12:29.614Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

It's also been noted that trolls are constantly transfiguring themselves into themselves, which lays a pretty good precedent for this kind of transfiguration!

comment by gwern · 2011-11-03T23:15:13.451Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You know, that might work. I mean, it's well-known that "Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration" allows one to increase the amount of good food you have.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T02:15:41.680Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

...Is it just me, or should that create a post-scarcity economy? Because that lets you make food in ways that violate the conservation of energy.

How to survive as a wizard:

  1. Get some nutritious, nonperishable food.
  2. Make more.
  3. Eat, but not all of it.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 indefinitely.

Water isn't a problem, since aguamenti conjures it.

So, question: why are there house elves? Why does Mrs. Weasley cook?

...Why can't the Weasleys buy a can of Coca-Cola, create as many more as they want and sell them? And do the same with hot dogs? And get rich?

No, seriously. That makes no sense. But that's a problem with canon, not MoR.

comment by gwern · 2011-12-22T05:01:52.744Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The dark secret, AspiringKnitter, is that all the food magic actually works on the same principle as the Hogwarts Hall meals - enslaved house-elves in obscure kitchens. That they feel no need to mention this merely demonstrates how thoroughly wizarding society is based on slavery. (We didn't hear about the house-elves for how many books?)

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T05:54:56.573Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One, actually, but your point still stands. That is just plain creepy. Wait a minute. Why would it work for people who don't own house-elves, then?

comment by gwern · 2011-12-22T15:38:34.840Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Watch your Fox News; it's England so they have socialism.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T18:37:00.182Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

They have socialized slavery?

There are so many things wrong with that.

comment by gwern · 2011-12-22T19:24:20.922Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, you know, under socialism everyone is a slave to the state. So it's hardly inconsistent.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-23T22:17:44.622Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You know, I wonder whether Magical Britain has policies as liberal (American liberal, which I think means socialist in the rest of the world) as Real Britain. Somehow, I think not, but do we have evidence either way?

comment by Suryc11 · 2011-12-24T07:56:15.272Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

American liberal, which I think means socialist in the rest of the world

Just a minor nitpick, I think it's the other way around. I'm reasonably sure that the American form of liberalism is usually on the right end of the political spectrum in other Western democracies. What is called liberal in other countries is what many Americans would call socialist and what is called moderate is 'American liberal'. Specifically, the Democratic Party's (the major party that most Americans call liberal) significant policy stances would probably be considered moderate in Great Britain and conservative in Denmark.

comment by Emile · 2011-12-27T11:28:27.810Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What is called liberal in other countries is what many Americans would call socialist

Nope, in France "libéral" is closer to American "libertarian", i.e. pro-free markets, anti-welfare (as opposed to the "mainstream" right wing, which isn't particularly hostile to big government, and is more about traditional values and whatnot, and of course as opposed to the socialists and other left-wingers, who are very much at odds with the liberals). I think "liberal" has the same meaning in most of Europe (and in most of the world, though I'm less sure of that), and Americans and Canadians are more of the exception (where for historicaly reasons "socialist" had anti-American connotations, so the label "liberal" was adopted instead. This is a gross oversimplification).

comment by Suryc11 · 2011-12-28T00:56:02.178Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the clarification. I did remember that in other countries liberal meant classically liberal as opposed to American modern liberalism. So in France, "libéral" is economically liberal but not necessarily socially permissive? Or did you mean "small-l libertarianism" when you referred to American "libertarian" and not the Libertarian Party?

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-24T08:16:37.791Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Let me rephrase: we would consider your socialists liberal, even though certain parts of the world have a political spectrum shifted so far to the left that even your right-wing parties are liberal. In this case I meant that I wonder whether Magical Britain is as far to the left as regular Britain.

comment by shminux · 2011-12-22T19:00:21.387Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think gwern omitted the tag in his reply

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-22T20:43:21.227Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

No: it was there, he just spelled it Fox News.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2011-11-03T19:05:06.996Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ha, I had another thought that this could explain professor Flitwick's size, but that is probably something that you would want to be common knowledge. You wouldn't want someone accidentally casting Finite on you. Then again I think it has been said that the effectiveness of Finite is depended on the power of the caster, so Flitwick being a former dueling champion may not need to fear it being accidentally dispelled.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-25T23:37:07.726Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Ok. I really don't like the new omake with the ponies.

I understand that Eliezer is trying to criticize overemphasis on peer review. But the bottom line is that peer review is really important: groups of humans who look at something critically are much more likely to notice mistakes and flaws then one will notice by one's self. This is not a trivial point.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-26T09:55:30.662Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I dislike it but not for that reason. There are so many great hooks for rationalist lessons in the actual show, but instead he makes an anvilicious alternate universe to take a cheap shot at a completely unrelated subject. It's such a waste. I am disappointed.

comment by Vaniver · 2011-09-27T01:16:39.745Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, when I sat down to make a rationalist MLP fanfic, I realized that the only part of the show that I would change is possibly Feeling Pinkie Keen.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-27T12:12:31.474Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yea. The approach to making an MLP rationalist fanfiction is not to change the original material, it's by working within the set format to provide rationalist lessons. If done properly probably indistinguishable from the canon episode scripts except for not being in a scrip format and being about slightly more advanced subject matter.

For example, from what I've herd about the minicamp:

"Dear princess Celestia, today I learned that although the idea that someponies opinion of you is infuenced by somehting as arbitary and wastefull as fashion might seem unpalatable, it can non the the less be unwise to ignore the fact that it is, even amoung friends. Ponies can not always control their subconius impresions, and this is no reason to in turn judle them.

  • Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."
comment by Vaniver · 2011-09-27T13:09:50.941Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In related news, remember the advice that keeping a diary increases happiness? Guess how I'm writing mine. :3

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-28T09:34:22.345Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's awesome, now I want to see some of those! There got to be SOME that are not to personal or can be easily modified to hide to personal information, right?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-09-27T23:28:27.648Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're both thinking a bit too narrowly about the topic of rationalist MLP fanfiction. It needn't be about correcting irrationalities of the original material (which I'm guessing was Vaniver's approach?) but it doesn't need to just follow the show's "how to treat your friends" moral lessons either... It could introduce new readers to some really advanced LessWrong concepts.

...ooph, I don't know if I should share the ideas I have on this or not. Because I am thinking of writing rationalist MLP fanfiction, and if so I'd prefer there'd be some surprised delight from readers.... but if I don't end up having the time to write said fanfiction, it's better that I share them, lest they not be known at all.

...I suppose if I don't find the time in the next few months to write said fanfiction fully, I'll just share all the ideas I have on the topic in some thread here and encourage anyone else who wants them to pick them up and use them.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-28T09:32:08.065Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My post wasn't supposed to be "how all rationalist fanfiction should be made", but rather "how I recommend Vaniver to go about it, given the evidence I have about his strengths and weaknesses as a writer". Guess I could have worded it better.

I look greatly forward to reading your fic! In fact, since given the priors I have over LWers I guess I probably know more about MLP lore and fan conventions (remember all those things Eliezer said in MoR authors notes about the importance of fan conventions? You'd BETTER give Luna an abacus! ), I humbly offer myself up as a prereader even thou I probably suck at most editorial work given my zero experience.

Also, once you're done, you REALLY should send it over to Equestria daily. Correcting for writing quality bronies might be an even better recruitment pool than the Harry Potter fandom, since even thou it's smaller it's closer to the LW demographic and I don't think HP has a centralized hub like Equestria Daily which means greater penetration can be reached by something good enough to get on there. In fact, it may be worth having more seasoned LWers, or even Eliezer himself really, look over it for quality.

comment by Document · 2011-10-02T08:12:05.833Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Personally I've found a lot of the show's lessons to be overly one-sided and applause-lightish. Also, I like/dislike how the show dances around carnivory; I'd love to see HJPEV-Twilight (or whoever) react to Fluttershy explaining how she runs her meadow.

There's also the world mechanics of raising the sun and why only the princesses are immortal and all that, and various smaller mysteries, but (1) lots of fic writers and theorists are probably exploring that, and (2) a lot of it is high-profile enough in the series that it stands a reasonable chance of being elaborated on there. The fact that the Potter books have concluded is one of the advantages to setting a rationalist/munchkin fic there.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2011-10-02T16:07:06.535Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

There's also the world mechanics of raising the sun

(In my planned fanfic, "Friendship is Natural Philosophy," it turns out that heliocentrism is true, and Princess Celestia has just been pretending to raise the sun in order to maintain her grip on power.)

comment by Vaniver · 2011-10-02T15:07:53.996Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Personally I've found a lot of the show's lessons to be overly one-sided and applause-lightish.

Of course. The issues with rewriting them to be rationalist are twofold: first, they're primarily about friendship, where rationality is mostly silent on direct advice, and second, they're on features where one-sided advice is generally better than two-sided advice.

Consider, for example, Twilight's nerdy scholarship. It's shown to be useful (it's a major source of her magical power and she'll often know things because of it) but have its limits (let's learn how to do a slumber party from a book!). Which, of course, is the sort of thing you'll find in any of lukeprog's articles on relationships here. Rationality's primary lesson is "learn from successful examples and build up experience" rather than "book smarts are sufficient to interact with other people in real-time."

As an example of one-sided advice, take the lesson of Bridle Gossip:

Never judge a book by its cover. Someone may look unusual, or funny, or scary. But you have to look past that and learn who they are inside. Real friends don't care what your "cover" is; It's the contents of a pony that count. And a good friend, like a good book, is something that will last forever.

Obviously, appearances can provide useful information. The standard human bias, though, is to overweight appearance- and so advice to humans should generally be along the lines of "discount appearance" rather than "use appearance optimally," because the first is harder for humans to twist than the second.

The fact that the Potter books have concluded is one of the advantages to setting a rationalist/munchkin fic there.

I personally dislike the "rationalist fic = munchkin fic" association, but suspect that is atypical of LW users.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-02T14:26:53.976Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The lessons are supposed to be simple - it's a show for little girls after all - and any real wisdom to be found in the show lies elsewhere, mainly on a more meta level in the community rather than canon content, and even then isn't very Deep.

There are many fan theories about carnivory, but most likely the show dancing around it is a consequence of pony society doing so. Given that she's quite the scholar she almost certainly already knows about it, although a city pony with no biology education or experience with animals might not. I don't think anypony would consider it all that big a deal thou or carnivores wouldn't be around or at least not common.

Yea, it's been explored a lot. Generaly they are considered godlike.

comment by Document · 2011-10-03T10:14:52.600Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The lessons are supposed to be simple - it's a show for little girls after all - and any real wisdom to be found in the show lies elsewhere, mainly on a more meta level in the community rather than canon content, and even then isn't very Deep.

"Applause lights" doesn't mean "simple" or even "wrong"; it's more like "things that sounds good regardless of rightness or wrongness in a particular context". Or at least that's how it makes sense to me to use it.

There are many fan theories about carnivory, but most likely the show dancing around it is a consequence of pony society doing so.

Surely causal arrows point from creative decisions to show content, not the other way around. More to the point, not all ponies can dance around it; "animals (don't) take care of themselves", so if Fluttershy doesn't feed the snakes they don't eat. And she makes a regular census of at least the bunnies, meaning she might know exactly how many die when Rarity lets Opalescence out.

Given that she's quite the scholar she almost certainly already knows about it, although a city pony with no biology education or experience with animals might not.

I can think of plots that might mitigate that, but yeah, the built-in outsider perspective is another advantage of HP.

I don't think anypony would consider it all that big a deal thou or carnivores wouldn't be around or at least not common.

They might see it as a lesser evil than "wiping out" whole species, or they might have the eventual goal of creating a self-sustaining ecosystem where predators would be necessary. But I think all three of those have potential. Unfortunately there's probably not much interest in writing what would come off as a vegan author tract, even with the difference that the animals would be be sapient.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-03T19:28:24.680Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Applause lights" doesn't mean "simple" or even "wrong"; it's more like "things that sounds good regardless of rightness or wrongness in a particular context". Or at least that's how it makes sense to me to use it.

This surprised me. The definition I'd have given for applause lights would have been "A statement so obviously the Right Thing that it provides no useful information".

So I went back and checked the original article, and it turns out no definition was ever given, just a few examples, and those are compatible with both views and don't fit either perfectly. So I checked your karma in case it was just a noobish mistake by me, precommited to change my mind if you had a lot more than me, but it turns out you have even less. Thus I'd say you were wrong in correcting me.

Also, the answer to your question is there anyway.


By dancing around it I meant the same way humans do with sex or the conditions in factory farms.


That doesn't sound like something ponies would do.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-10-04T00:38:24.783Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The definition I'd have given for applause lights would have been "A statement so obviously the Right Thing that it provides no useful information".

From Applause Lights: "I think it means that you have said the word "democracy", so the audience is supposed to cheer. It's not so much a propositional statement, as the equivalent of the "Applause" light that tells a studio audience when to clap."

I think that depending on what you mean by "The Right Thing" (whether you mean it mockingly or actually), you're right or wrong in your understanding of what applause lights means. But either way: the point of "applause lights" is that it's more of a signal for mutual self-congratulation than something with actual meaning/content.

e.g. "God bless the United States of America".

So I checked your karma in case it was just a noobish mistake by me, precommited to change my mind if you had a lot more than me, but it turns out you have even less. Thus I'd say you were wrong in correcting me.

Ugh. Seriously? You probably didn't mean this as bad as it sounded, but it effectively looks as you're saying he was wrong in correcting you not because he was actually wrong, but because he shouldn't correct people with higher status (as marked by karma points).

That's a really really bad attitude to have.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-04T08:14:25.409Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think that depending on what you mean by "The Right Thing" (whether you mean it mockingly or actually), you're right or wrong in your understanding of what applause lights means. But either way: the point of "applause lights" is that it's more of a signal for mutual self-congratulation than something with actual meaning/content.

I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to call it mocking, but I certainly meant it in a way not very correlated with actually being correct or moral.


I use total karma as evidence about how likely someone is to be correct about LW conventions, since in order to get very high karma you have to have been here for a long time and have written a lot and thus getting misunderstandings sorted out by being corrected. I also use it as weaker evidence at being correct in general about anything, since I believe LW consensus to be correlated with that. I put LW karma in roughly the same class of evidence as market prices, something which can sometimes say quite silly things but on other occasions be more trustworthy than your own brain. I could actually feel through introspection I weren't able to consider the issue without bias so I just let that decide.

comment by Document · 2011-10-04T02:41:51.367Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ugh. Seriously? You probably didn't mean this as bad as it sounded, but it effectively looks as you're saying he was wrong in correcting you not because he was actually wrong, but because he shouldn't correct people with higher status (as marked by karma points).

Ironically I considered noting that comment in my reply and saying something like "Respect for recognizing noisy evidence as evidence.".

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-04T08:17:49.054Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, I am flatered! ^_^

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-10-04T00:43:43.307Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You probably didn't mean this as bad as it sounded, but it effectively looks as you're saying he was wrong in correcting you not because he was actually wrong, but because he shouldn't correct people with higher status (as marked by karma point).

I suspect that he meant something like "Applause Lights" is an LW specific term. Therefore, to a very rough approximation, karma levels may be a rough way of estimating who understands how the term is used around here since karma roughly approximates how much time someone has spent here.

That seems like an extremely weak argument, and I agree that the way it was phrased sounded pretty bad. I don't think my interpretation is that much better.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-04T08:16:31.489Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That was a factor in considering karma stronger evidence in this case than I usually do, yes.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T01:42:38.338Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Applause lights" doesn't mean "simple" or even "wrong"; it's more like "things that sounds good regardless of rightness or wrongness in a particular context". Or at least that's how it makes sense to me to use it.

This surprised me. The definition I'd have given for applause lights would have been "A statement so obviously the Right Thing that it provides no useful information".

Then allow me to step in as one of the foremost experts on the writings of Eliezer (self-proclaimed).

All that applause lights 'mean' is "you should clap now". From the wiki:

It's not so much a propositional statement, as the equivalent of the "Applause" light that tells a studio audience when to clap.

(Beware - this example is mind-killing)

Thus, you say "democracy" to get people to nod their head and agree with you. This is not because "democracy" means anything obviously right; also, the label gets applied inconsistently in both directions. The entire purpose of calling something "democracy" in those contexts is to mark it as "approved".

comment by Document · 2011-10-03T20:13:21.315Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was correcting your interpretation of my use of the phrase, not your use of it. (On further thought I could reword it "words whose practical meaning is 'applaud this statement'"; that might cover both.)

That doesn't sound like something ponies would do.

Not sure which you mean, but I know there's contradictory evidence to what I cited. I don't think I want to talk about the "reality" of the show, though, just possible fanfic interpretations. My belief about the show is that it'll continue to dance around the subject, and that the occasional slips will continue to contradict each other.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-03T21:44:02.549Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find discussing "possible" interpretations to be rather pointless because basically anything is possible. There are usually 3 interpretations worth going into any depth of; the one intended by the original author, the one that has become fanon and most fans are in consensus about, and the one that would be most likely if the cannon material was interpreted as true observations about the universe.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-26T12:48:53.978Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, so many of the omake are already pretty anvilicious. But yes, it could be more directly relevant to the show certainly.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-28T11:57:15.343Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, since interest in rationalist MLP is starting to blossom again, my thoughts are straying back to my The Elements of Rationality project that was discontinued some time ago as I realized how much the stuff I had done sucked, and by now I have much better knowledge and tools such that it is more likely to result in somehting slightly less embarasing.

One such tool is this: http://generalzoi.deviantart.com/art/Pony-Creator-Full-Version-254295904

So, input the pony/accessory/pose code under the body/accessorize/pose>advanced tab in the pony creator to see it. Oh, and the cutie marks don't work in the string export for obvious reasons, so for those you'll have to wait until I upload images, if I ever do.


NAME: Riddle Heart
ELEMENT: Curiosity
CUTIE MARK: Q-over-o ( see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question_mark#History )
PONYCODE: 2S2S000010FEC7EFFFC49D0040100E1FEUQ1G32000000002F08AFE8AFF7FFF0N107F3FCC004CB2
POSE CODE: 000277065045288030070005000023001023006330312047

NAME: Dance
ELEMENT: Precision
CUTIE MARK: Bullseye
PONYCODE: 2S2S006000F2D199FFC49D00001AA7C49UP1837408000002P13D3112E8CBA505107F3FCC004CB2
(Ugh, this one sucks, didn't find any good mane OR eye settings.)

NAME: Cirrus
ELEMENT: Lightness
CUTIE MARK: aspen leaf
PONYCODE: 2S2S00002075CDFEFFC49D00D0100BB96UN1837000000002F07AFE95FF7FFF11107F3FCC004CB2
POSE CODE: 000000000061315295095355319000000326314331323056

NAME: Bacon
ELEMENT: Empiricism
CUTIE MARK: DNA strand
PONYCODE: 2D1Z002100E21919FFC49D0090000BB96UN183700C20000301E5E5E5F7F7F729107F3FCC004CB2
ACCESSORY CODE: 066CC6623A2C37066CC66066CC66066CC6604E8FBAFFFF8C066CC66066CC66066CC66066CC66
FAVOURITE SHOW: Mythbusters

NAME: Cold Fire
ELEMENT: Relinquishment
CUTIE MARK: Ying-Yang
PONYCODE: 382V0A00008AFEC2FFC49D009009B7441UN1837203210000V077512CFF7FFF0C107F3FCC004CB2
POSE CODE: 000354018004352005122002358312011335301338008349

5/12 PONIES CREATED!

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-09-28T13:29:02.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Woah, thanks for linking that tool, I'm gonna be playing with it like mad! :-)

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-10-02T16:26:27.912Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, this is awesome. Here's what I've got so far from playing around with it: Pony Code: 332S0P01003D42D19EFEE40200000D5FEUP173700002000001000000FE000000107F3FCC004CB2 Accessory Code: 066CC6606677CCFCC0000066CC66100000004E8FBAFFFF8C066CC66066CC66066CC66066CC66 Pose Code: 000247046080267056037000000324000000314043014331

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-02T17:19:04.296Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted for extreme irrelevance. Sorry, I can't find any possible excuse for posting this here without explanation.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-02T17:30:35.724Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can't tell if serious.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-02T21:15:00.792Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Because I also posted pony codes? Those were part of a somewhat serious art project based on the twelve virtues of rationality. Normal Anomalys post on the other have is basically indistinguishable from random playing around.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-26T02:42:17.788Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ponies? What are you talking about?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-26T02:47:36.055Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer added a new omake to chapter 64 which involves a rationalist version of My Little Pony.

comment by Unnamed · 2011-11-03T02:42:10.427Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

It's been awhile since the last update, so here's a scene from the HPMOR in my head.

Hermione offers Harry a Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Bean, warning him that when they say "every flavour" they mean every flavour. The first one that Harry eats is booger-flavoured, and he gets frustrated about the foolish candy-makers, complaining that of all the flavours that he could've gotten, his first bean tasted like boogers. Hermione reminds him that it says "every flavour", so he shouldn't be surprised if it ended up tasting like something nasty. Harry has Hermione list flavours of Bertie Bott's beans that she has eaten, and then goes on a rant:

Out of all possible flavours, every single flavour that Hermione has mentioned is recognizable as something regularly found on or in the human body, and the majority are types of food. Harry tries to explain the concept of flavourspace - the entire set of all possible flavours - and what a skewed understanding of flavourspace wizards must have if "every flavour" beans only draw from the tiny proportion of flavourspace which they already regularly taste. So, yes, he should be surprised that the first bean he ate, which could have taken on any flavour in the vast universe of flavourspace, tasted like something that normally grows just inches from one's taste buds.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-11-07T18:46:25.554Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Which MY head continues: The nature of magic turned out to be sensitive to that kind of notion, and the flavours not predetermined, so the very next one tastes like dementor or strangelet.

comment by Locke · 2011-12-27T17:15:28.514Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you tried to lick a dementor would you tongue be stuck to it?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-12-27T19:06:16.587Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

no, it'd be stuck in it. And then necrosis happens.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T15:43:16.289Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

While I was reading Harry Potter, I kept thinking that the House system was destructive, both in terms of making people impose restrictions on themselves, and creating deep divisions in the wizarding world. Hogwarts is in this sense the primary cause of both the previous and the coming wizard war.

In Eliezer's fiction, it's more apparent that the Hogwarts house system is a mindless, destructive mechanism set in motion hundreds of years ago that no one person can change or escape. Even Dumbledore couldn't abolish the house system; the political pressure would pop him out of Hogwarts like a cork from a champagne bottle.

I don't understand why Dumbledore can't maintain order among the students and protect them from each other, though... it seems to be within the powers of the Hogwarts faculty, if they set their minds to it.

Dumbledore and McGonagall's weaknesses are more apparent in Eliezer's fiction. Which would score realism points with me, except that the deconstruction of the perfect Dumbledore is balanced by the imagination of a perfect Harry.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-25T22:33:30.772Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore and McGonagall's weaknesses are more apparent in Eliezer's fiction. Which would score realism points with me, except that the deconstruction of the perfect Dumbledore is balanced by the imagination of a perfect Harry.

Harry is far from perfect. He has his own glaring weaknesses. He's excessively clever (sometimes at the expense of wise or rational), his ego clouds his decisions, he is paranoid, incapable of relating to humans normally and shows disconcerting tendencies towards codependency.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-09-25T18:25:23.922Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

While I was reading Harry Potter, I kept thinking that the House system was destructive, both in terms of making people impose restrictions on themselves, and creating deep divisions in the wizarding world.

It's based to the actual House system used in British boarding schools.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-25T19:00:35.468Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, but they don't determine your house by your personality or beliefs about blood purity.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T18:44:56.343Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How about the different colleges in British universities? Do the members of Balliol hate the members of Merton?

comment by Sarokrae · 2011-09-25T19:17:37.219Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Well, these days college intake is fairly mixed up among different personalities and backgrounds. Taking Cambridge, most people jokingly hates St John's and think Homerton are less intelligent. The rivalries probably stemmed from some historical background though.

But really, just grouping people randomly is enough for some hostility. We only don't actually hate each other because we have to work together sometimes.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-10-04T05:02:44.615Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore needs to say that Hogwarts has run out of water, and make the houses cooperate to get a new water supply.

comment by gwern · 2012-01-30T18:11:29.788Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Slytherin would defect and free-ride, alas, tiding itself over with _Aguamenti_s.

comment by gjm · 2011-09-25T21:31:57.084Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Taking Cambridge, most people jokingly hates St John's and think Homerton are less intelligent.

In my ~10 years at the university, I don't recall ever meeting anyone who joked about hating St John's. And for most of that time I was at Trinity, where you might think John's-hatred (jocular or otherwise) would be strongest.

Until rather recently, Homerton didn't take students in any subject other than Education. Whether that actually meant its students were less intelligent than those of other colleges, I don't know, but it's not an entirely crazy idea. (I think Homerton's subject balance is still quite different from those of the other colleges.)

[EDITED to add: For the avoidance of doubt, I don't mean that people reading education are particularly unintelligent-by-Cambridge-standards. Only that (1) intelligence surely does vary somewhat by subject, and (2) some subjects have the reputation of requiring particularly high intelligence and education isn't one of them. So if there's a stereotype of Homerton students being less intelligent, it probably has causes less crazy, though not necessarily more correct, than mere historical rivalries.]

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-25T22:29:53.834Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've done one year at Trinity as an undergraduate, and I've already heard many anti-St Johns references.

comment by Jadagul · 2011-09-26T10:59:45.412Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was a grad student at Churchill, and we mostly ignored such things, but my girlfriend was an undergrad and felt compelled to educate me. I recall Johns being the rich kids, Peterhouse was the gay men (not sure if that's for an actual reason or just the obvious pun), and a couple others that I can't remember off the top of my head.

comment by Sarokrae · 2011-09-27T12:34:20.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought Homerton was the obvious gay pun?

And one thing that IS reasonably accurate: New Hall is a female version of Hufflepuff. It is most of the time filled up by the "leftovers" (pooled there)...

comment by rebellionkid · 2011-09-28T00:33:17.298Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A lot of the "hate" between colleges is perpetuated in the same way as most Cambridge traditions. Freshers read on wikipedia what Cambridge traditions are and then emulate them. There is belief in belief that people from St Johns are horrible but not much more.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-09-28T03:21:38.670Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, these traditions somehow propagated before the internet.

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-09-28T05:44:26.793Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In 1993, when I matriculated at Caltech (whose House system Wikipedia claims is based on Cambridge's college system), we got a handbook (the little t) with all of the traditions in it.

comment by Sarokrae · 2011-09-28T08:17:07.681Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's pretty much the way Hogwarts works, right?

comment by TuviaDulin · 2011-10-15T04:14:21.805Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

MoR Harry did seem like a Marty Stu in the early chapters, but the further I read, the less I thought so. For one thing, his intelligence is balanced out by egotism, insensitivity, and inability to think in the longterm. For another, most of his really impressive feats of intellect and willpower are actually owed to Voldemort's horcrux (his "dark side"), which means Harry doesn't get full credit for them. I think MoR Harry is far from perfect.

You're totally right about the house system, though. That's why I really love the subplot about Quirrel's armies; it breaks up the house system and lets all the students interact more. I'm so glad we got to know the Slytherin girls...

comment by wedrifid · 2011-10-15T10:49:48.031Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

MoR Harry did seem like a Marty Stu in the early chapters, but the further I read, the less I thought so. For one thing, his intelligence is balanced out by egotism, insensitivity, and inability to think in the longterm. For another, most of his really impressive feats of intellect and willpower are actually owed to Voldemort's horcrux (his "dark side"), which means Harry doesn't get full credit for them. I think MoR Harry is far from perfect.

Wait... you don't attribute dark side Harry to Harry? Damn. They're the main parts I empathize with!

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T15:55:47.730Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

BTW, we're told in canon there are other schools for wizards and witches, but everyone famous seems to have gone to Hogwarts. Why? There isn't even an entrance exam, and most of the teachers are incompetent; so it can't be either their selectiveness or the quality of their education.

How can we estimate the number of witches and wizards in the world from canon? And, also, the number of students at Hogwarts?

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-25T17:30:30.968Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How can we estimate the number of witches and wizards in the world from canon? And, also, the number of students at Hogwarts?

J. K. Rowling was never too bothered with the numbers (by her own admission). In particular the total number of students in Hogwarts is portrayed as much greater than the number of students per year multiplied by seven, and the wizarding world is absurdly small but still far too large to account for the fact that there appears to be only one school in Britain.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-09-28T09:20:00.344Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The sadder thing is that Eliezer doesn't seem particularly bothered with numbers either. The "armies" each of the generals have are mentioned to have 24 soldiers each.

24x3=72 students in the first year. This would only make sense if the size of the classes in MoR were about twice as big as in canon. But MoR has never mentioned a single non-canonical first-year student, as far as I can remember, which would imply the opposite, that the sizes of the classes must be about as big as in canon (namely about 40 students in the first year, all houses combined).

EDIT TO ADD: above comment now retracted as factually false, see comments below.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-09-30T00:17:45.696Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The sadder thing is that Eliezer doesn't seem particularly bothered with numbers either.

I beg your pardon. Check Ch. 30 and you should see some non-canonical first-year student cameos in Draco's army. For, may I mention, exactly that reason - I was explicitly familiar with the dilemma of the discordant Rowling statements and decided to resolve in favor of Hogwarts having around a thousand students, so that having around half the students sign up for the armies would give you 72 first-year soldiers.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-09-30T01:12:27.947Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, nice. I also see some names like "Melvin Coote of Gryffindor" and "Allen Flint" of Slytherin, in the Chaos army.

Apologies for the mistake.

comment by Atelos · 2011-09-26T12:47:46.744Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the teachers? Binns and Trelawney certainly, Snape, but arguably he's more unprofessional and unpleasant than incompetent. Often the defense professor is incompetent, I suppose. Canon!Harry had Lupin, Snape and fake Moody for competent defense professors and Quirrel, Lockhart and Umbridge for incompetent ones. We have no reason to doubt the teaching ability of Mcgonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Sinistra, Vector or Babbling. Burbage's Muggle studies course is often a subject of ridicule in fanfiction, but that might be a result of the (inter?)-national curriculum rather than her individual competence, and so would be no better at other schools. Hagrid's Care of Magical Creature's lessons were of very uneven quality, but he could teach well when he had his head together.

As to the preeminence of Hogwarts, perhaps its as simple as Hogwarts being the only British school with a comprehensive curriculum, the others focusing on particular areas of magic and functioning more or less as magical trade schools. We don't technically know that there's no entrance exam for the common witch or wizard, we just know Harry didn't have to take one, he could have been admitted as a legacy student or simply because he's the boy-who-lived. Or the barrier could be financial.

comment by Eneasz · 2011-10-12T20:06:31.452Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Real World Effects of SPHEW

Raemon has written at moderate length about feminist issues in HPMoR. In fact, this post is credited by Eliezer as

High probability this comment had something to do with the surprise creation of SPHEW.

I don't wish to speculate about these issues because I don't feel I have the depth of knowledge needed to contribute meaningfully. However I do have a real life effect of SPHEW to report.

I produce the Methods of Rationality Podcast. For the most part it's a solo project, but after receiving a few requests I've gotten comfortable enough with it that I've decided to integrate other voices as long as it doesn't require much additional work from me. Meaning - just send me the audio file of you reading the lines and I'll incorporate it if I can. I didn't really expect much response from this approach, and for the most part I didn't get one. Seems no one is really interested in doing Gregory Goyle's lines. :)

With a notable exception. The girls of SPHEW. I received a complete reading of all of Daphne's lines before I even announced I was willing to take other voices. It was one of the primary motivators for overturning my previous policy and saying I would accept others. Since then I also received all Tracey's and the start of Susan's with a commitment of a full reading. I'm still at least two months away from the first appearance of any of the SPHEW witches, and probably a full year away from their eventual official SPHEW adventures.

I believe SPHEW has indeed promoted heroism among witches in the real world. Regardless of what feminist themes may have been explored, it's my opinion that SPHEW has had a positive real-world effect. :)

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-12T12:50:42.626Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 76: "And that's why I can destroy Dementors and you can't," said the boy. "Because I believe that the darkness can be broken."

This is interesting, because it touches upon a thought I had about the Dementors back in Chapter 45. In canon, Dementors are manifestations not of death or even fear, but of despair. (I believe Rowling has said she drew upon her own experiences of depression.) That's why chocolate helps, why they generate feelings of hopelessness, why they take away happy memories and leave unhappy ones, and why their ultimate power is to put people into a coma rather than to kill them. None of this makes sense for a manifestation of death.

But Harry's response would work either way. A happy memory, a pleasant thought, can shield against despair, but it can't destroy it. Hope, on the other hand, true grim hope – the belief that things can be made better and, crucially, the unshakeable determination to make them so, not by thinking 'wouldn't it be nice if…' but by knuckling down and solving the insoluble problem – is the only true cure for despair. And that sort of hope, which Harry shows, is actually pretty hard to hold truly, which would explain why almost no-one else has found the same way that Harry has.

I don't believe this was Eliezer's intention. Harry's views on death are far too close to Eliezer's own as shown in http://yudkowsky.net/singularity/simplified for me to feel that the Dementors are intended to be anything else. But I quite like my interpretation. Aside from anything else, since that sort of hope can be reinforced by being shared (enhancing both resolve and the feeling that the task is possible), it leaves open the possibility for a Patronus 3.0 by group-casting.

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-09-12T20:21:10.327Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think what Harry says is heartfelt, but it's also a decent false trail to prevent Dumbledore from accidentally working out the secret and losing his ability to cast a Patronus.

Not that Dumbledore necessarily needs that. He's in a great position for doublethink: he can presumably use the Pensieve, label the memory "the secret of dementors and the Patronus charm," then Obliviate himself. Locking the basilisk away in a secret chamber, if you will.

comment by MinibearRex · 2011-09-12T21:06:45.174Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's why chocolate helps, why they generate feelings of hopelessness, why they take away happy memories and leave unhappy ones, and why their ultimate power is to put people into a coma rather than to kill them. None of this makes sense for a manifestation of death.

I don't know about chocolate, but bad memories are definitely scars you get from death. And what I suspect triggered the idea in Eliezer's mind to make Dementors be about death is the idea of the Dementor's kiss, because of the old metaphor "kiss of death".

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-09-12T23:20:01.626Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Erm, I'd guess what gave my brain the idea originally was the fact that in canon they are flying corpses in grave shrouds.

comment by MinibearRex · 2011-09-13T20:45:13.054Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In your story they are corpses. In canon, they're green humanoid monsters wearing hooded robes, that represent despair. Considering Rowling's own pro-death position, I don't think it's likely she would have deliberately created enemies that were supposed to be the physical embodiment of death (although the movies showed dementors and death as looking nearly identical). Given the changes I saw you make to them in order to make your point, I assumed it was just something you were changing completely from canon. Apparently I was wrong. Did you think of dementors as representing death while reading Prisoner of Azkaban, or is it an idea you developed later?

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-09-14T02:04:57.020Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, they're green humanoid monsters wearing hooded robes,

Um, what? Description from Prisoner of Azkaban, emphasis mine:

"a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, grayish, slimy-looking, and scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in water; the thing beneath the hood, whatever it was, drew a long, slow, rattling breath, as though it were trying to suck something more than air from its surroundings."

Nowhere does it say that they are green. The best description I can think of is "flying corpses that hide their appearances," which works pretty well as a symbol of Death.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-14T19:45:01.825Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

On a tangential note, despite there being no description to that effect anywhere in them, when I read the first few books I found myself invariably imagining Snape as being purple.

So if MinnibearRex came away with the impression that some entities from the books were supposed to be some entirely different color than the author intended, he's certainly not the only one.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-09-15T13:44:01.782Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Snape dresses somewhat similarly to Count von Count.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-09-13T23:36:32.655Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Despair? I thought JKR mentioned depression, not despair. And the dementors are grey, not green.

And JKR's own experience with depression was after the death of her mother -- so the "death causes depression" is similar in content to "Dementor destroys all positive emotions". There's no reason why JKR couldn't use imagery of death in combination with her emotion.

In the books, an afterlife exists. But the soul-destruction, the true death, is what the Dementor seems to cause. Again -- if JKR's mother had just died, her most depressed thoughts about it would be the ones that involved thinking about the true death of soul-annihilation (the Dementor's kiss), not an afterlife.

comment by hairyfigment · 2011-09-13T22:45:06.280Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Green? No. From the American edition of PoA:

A dead, slimy hand slid out from under the cloak[...]Then it raised both its rotting hands -- and lowered its hood. Where there should have been eyes, there was only thin, gray scabbed skin, stretched blankly over empty sockets. But there was a mouth...a gaping, shapeless hole, sucking the air with the sound of a death rattle.

And for the first appearance of a dementor Rowling talks about drowning. I don't know about the skin over the eyes, but the rest of it explicitly points to death.

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-13T12:07:23.217Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

bad memories are definitely scars you get from death

That's backwards. I suppose experiencing the death of someone close to you could leave a mental scar in the form of a bad memory. But that's hardly the definition of a bad memory. Nor is a painful memory an inevitable outcome of someone's death.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-09-15T15:11:35.526Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 14:

Otherwise we shall see you again three months later and you will be two years older and dressed in a loincloth and covered in snow and that's if you stay inside the castle.

If this sort of time-stretching effect could be controlled, it would be incredibly useful. One could research and prepare at leisure for an imminent attack, at a much better speedup than the mere 25% offered by Time-Turners. If it can go the other way as well, Salazar Slytherin might very well still be alive somewhere in Hogwarts.

comment by Solvent · 2011-09-20T10:28:03.088Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with encouraging LessWrongians to read your fanfic is that they spot the logical flaws in and/or ways to manipulate everything you describe. It's why I love this website.

comment by drethelin · 2011-09-15T15:43:04.682Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

we he could easily still be alive anyway, because it's known that philosopher's stones exist and who knows who is using one apart from flamel?

As far as this go, I would guess it's more of a joke on harry than anything significant.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-21T21:19:15.395Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

we he could easily still be alive anyway, because it's known that philosopher's stones exist and who knows who is using one apart from flamel?

I would guess Flamel knows. He's the inventor, and considering that he's stated with confidence that Voldemort couldn't make one himself, and would need to go after the preexisting one, then there must be some really exceptional barriers to anyone else making them. Otherwise Voldemort could simply have imperiused or tortured anyone who could make one in order to get one for himself.

If there were any feasible way to gain control of a philosopher's stone without having to get one's hands on the Philosopher's Stone, it would completely break the story.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-21T21:47:35.676Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but... just for the sake of argument...

Flamel is an inventor. And when assigning confidence in statements he makes about Philosopher's Stones, you need to bear in mind that he's the only inventor dumb enough to get caught. Anyone who independently invented it before him (or after) managed to keep it secret, that's all.

Or maybe there's more than one way to create a Philosopher's Stone and Flamel discovered the most difficult, so now he has an inflated idea of how hard it would be for someone else to duplicate his feat.

Or possibly Flamel is the Dread Pirate Roberts and there's no such thing as a Philosopher's Stone at all.

I'm not sure which explanation I like more, actually.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-22T20:03:38.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Philosopher's Stone would be phenomenally useful to Quirrelmort, and if it weren't really hard to get, he would presumably already have one. After all, if there's anyone with an incentive to find the easiest way to get their hands on one, it's him.

As for the Philosopher's Stone not being real, I doubt Dumbledore would have gone to such lengths to guard it if he weren't convinced it was, and I doubt tricking him into buying into a fake would be easy.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-22T20:08:43.198Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As to the second: the whole point of having it at Hogwarts to begin with was as bait for a trap, right? If everyone believes it's real, it serves just as well for that purpose as if it actually were real. Even if Dumbledore knew it was a fake, he would still have every reason to guard it to the best of his ability.

As to the first... what makes you think he hasn't?

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-22T20:12:56.401Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if HPMoR is consistent with canon, it would circumvent the need for him to conduct the ritual to get his old body back at all. Dumbledore also suggested it as an alternative route that Voldemort could take to return to power.

And the point of having it at Hogwarts wasn't just as bait for a trap; Voldemort and his minions, even in the original canon, were capable of stealing from even the more secure vaults at Gringotts. In HPMoR, it could just be a trap, but if it's so obvious as to not serve that purpose, and there's nothing to protect, then what's the point?

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-22T20:44:16.224Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(Just to save everyone some time, here are the relevant quotes.)

HPMoR Chapter 61, Dumbledore to McGonagall and Snape:

His strongest road to life is the Philosopher's Stone, which Flamel assures me that not even Voldemort could create on his own; by that road he would rise greater and more terrible than ever before. I would not have thought Voldemort able to resist the temptation of the Stone, still less because such an obvious trap is a challenge to his wit. But his second avenue is nearly as strong: The flesh of his servant, willingly given; the blood of his foe, forcibly taken; and the bone of his ancestor, unknowingly bequeathed. Voldemort [...] would certainly seek the most powerful combination: the flesh of Bellatrix Black, the blood of Harry Potter, and the bone of his father. Voldemort's final avenue is to seduce a victim and drain the life from them over a long period; in which case Voldemort would be weak compared to his former power.

Dumbledore, at least, thinks the obviousness of the trap won't preclude its success.

HPMoR Chapter 76, Quirrell to Snape:

A single glance would tell any competent wizard that the Headmaster has laced that corridor with a ridiculous quantity of wards and webs, triggers and tripsigns. And more: there are Charms laid there of ancient power, magical constructs of which I have heard not even rumors, techniques that must have been disgorged from the hoarded lore of Flamel himself. Even He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would have had trouble passing those without notice.

That second bit is particularly interesting. It seems to suggest that Flamel would have been capable of protecting the Stone himself just as well as it's being protected now, in which case why have it at Gringotts in the first place?

The question in my mind is: how could Voldemort know if the Stone in Hogwarts is fake or not? I mean, the situation seems to be that Dumbledore went to visit his old teacher Nicholas and came back with a "Philosopher's Stone" in a small leather bag, which he deposited at Gringotts, and later took to Hogwarts. If you assume he actually is trying to protect the Stone, it would pretty much have to be a fake, wouldn't it? (It'd be pretty funny if the real one was teleported into the Marianas Trench or something.)

And I think it's something of a mistake to assume the only reason for breaking Bellatrix out of Azkaban is the resurrection ritual. Suppose that he does already have the Stone - maybe he replaced it with a fake months ago, maybe he invented it on his own, whatever - wouldn't it still be useful to him to retrieve his most powerful and loyal servant?

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-22T20:53:59.692Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Bellatrix isn't remotely his most powerful servant anymore after her stay in Azkaban, and he could probably do to someone else what he did to her in the first place. Plus, in canon, once he returned to his former power, he was able to break everyone out of Azkaban. It might not be a great idea to sacrifice the element of surprise by doing so, but still, if he already had a route to power even greater than he possessed before, I don't see why he'd stall on using it.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-09T22:23:28.606Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

he could probably do to someone else what he did to her in the first place.

Interesting. I hadn't even considered the possibility that the story about brainwashing Bellatrix might actually be true.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-10-23T16:17:24.878Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Personally I'm assuming that Quirrelmort rescued Bellatrix to influence Harry. He now has first-hand evidence that Harry was engaged in a major crime, has shown Harry a part of the Wizarding world which he could never accept which was enabled by democracy, has shown Harry that Dumbledore isn't as proactive as Harry would want him to be, almost convinced Harry that a revolution is necessary, convinced Harry to lie to protect him, and has made Harry feel sorry for Bellatrix. Generating a 'false alarm' of Voldemort's return is a nice side effect as well if he doesn't plan on acting immediately, Dumbledore may well have just expended significant political capital too early. If he was planning on going through with the ritual, then he had Harry right there with him. (Although he could have just taken some blood while Harry was asleep, of course.)

The only motivation I can see for him to retrieve her otherwise is that he couldn't remember what happened at Godric's Hollow or to the Longbottoms, so he wanted to retrieve Bellatrix to find out, he regretted what he did to her (seems unlikely), or he's not Quirrelmort, and is really just a powerful but neutral wizard who wants to try and retrieve some of Slytherin's magics.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-10-23T16:31:58.833Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The most obvious motivation given what we know about Quirrelmort and what he needs to regain his old power is that he retrieved her for use in the spell that will restore his body. For his motive to be anything else would constitute a twist.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-22T21:11:44.934Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Plus, in canon, once he returned to his former power, he was able to break everyone out of Azkaban.

I would be rather surprised if, after all the characterization and buildup we've been given so far, MoR!Voldemort turned out to be capable of this as well.

It might not be a great idea to sacrifice the element of surprise by doing so, but still, if he already had a route to power even greater than he possessed before, I don't see why he'd stall on using it.

As a suggestion: he may have decided that his goals are better served by remaining in his current guise (which he presumably could not do if he regained his body) than by sheer magical power, at least for now.

comment by Rubix · 2011-09-22T01:43:12.103Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The fic often takes 'joke' aspects of magic and explores their less harmless uses. It leads the reader to be unwilling to take any reference as simply a joke - this as opposed to the original text, where the fact that it was meant to be a children's book led to a lot of bite-sized humorous references with enormous, unexplored potential.

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-09-27T19:04:39.962Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but that's jokes by the narrator (or by the world), not jokes by the characters.

comment by JenniferRM · 2011-09-09T16:01:14.175Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

In the previous thread there was some discussion on Ch 76's obliviation powered dictionary attack on Hermione. Most of that discussion seems to have assumed that what we saw between Hat And Cloak (HAC) and Hermione was simple to understand and relatively unskilllful... with Hermione's "tootsie pop" response being inane and HAC's probing appearing ham-handedly ignorant.

My impression was that we didn't see the first or second cycle of relatively normal behavior for either character, but more like the 7th cycle (12 minutes per cycle for 90 minutes?), where HAC was doing something radically different each time to probe Hermione's knowledge, feelings, etc in different ways, probably using legilimency. She was exhausted, like someone "in the box" with the police, except more stressful due to not even knowing she's in the box. And the questions don't have to be subtle, they just have to make her think of useful things while her eyes are visible. I don't think she was the ultimate target either, but rather she is the closest non-occlumens to Harry other than possibly Draco, so mind raping her to learn about Harry is "safer" even if it demonstrates horrifying levels of evilness... which raises issues about how to hide that it happened from Albus and Minerva.

I'm curious what other people's takes on the situation are. Specifically, what cycle do you think we saw out of how many total? Also, what are the odds that Hermione will be dead or missing in the next substantive chapter?

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-09T22:14:20.195Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I would guess that Hat-and-Cloak probably wasn't using leglimency, or it wouldn't have needed Hermione to say that she found the mysterious getup suspicious.

comment by JenniferRM · 2011-09-10T02:31:31.250Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how it worked in canon (and would expect semi-random behavior given Rowling's tendency to fudge world building details that a more mechanistic thinker might nail down) but in MoR it appears that legilimency allows the reader to perceive the "conscious surface thoughts" of the readee, plus the feeling of active reading (used by an occlumens to race ahead and put fake conscious surface thoughts in the way), plus the traces of past reading.

When Albus read Harry early in the story to look for traces he asked Harry what Harry had recently eaten so as to prevent himself from reading anything private in Harry's mind. If words can be used to redirect attention to banal issues so that it is impossible for even Albus to see more deeply, it stands to reason (to me anyway) that visibility is relatively shallow and that words could also be used to redirect attention towards the sensitive issues. So, HAC using legilimency probably couldn't get a verbal reason for lack of trust without a probe to raise "trust of HAC" in Hermione's mind, but once raised he would have been able to tell if she lied or detect any reasons that jumped into her mind that she didn't say out loud for strategic reasons... and not much more.

I could be wrong. "Word of god" might contradict me. But assuming I'm not, then my working model of the fic includes that HAC now knows, for example, that Harry has a deathly hallow (because Hermione would probably have consciously surfaced the most dramatic evidence that Harry totally trusts her when HAC asked about that stuff and that's pretty dramatic evidence). Given how many readers didn't even get that cycles of oblivation were being used on her I'd guess that something too optimized (to the point of silence) would be even less intelligible in text.

I guess a totally "optimized" oblivation/legilimency cycle could probably do a full loop within like 8 seconds and would just involve a "don't think of a polar bear" shout, reading everything brought up by that, then obliviate and repeat. We didn't see that happen at all. Either we didn't see it because it was impossible, or Eliezer didn't think of it, or Eliezer didn't think HAC would think of it, or it would have been too squicky and thereby violated the artistic permissions of the audience.

My bet is that this kind of manipulation would be impossible based on the in-story mechanics of legilimency and related spells... that the pragmatics of the process require a measure of indirection even with naive victims so that their eyes can't be closed, and their thoughts have time to percolate, and things only mentally accessible from within a specific conversational context can occur to them to be read, and so on.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-10T03:51:07.946Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Even assuming those are the limits of leglimency, I think that "this guy seems really suspicious" would be pretty near the surface of Hermione's thoughts without any additional prompting.

comment by drethelin · 2011-09-10T02:43:48.815Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

the occlumency trainer harry hires is able to read deeply within harry's mind without a lot of trouble. I think thoughts are probably easier or harder to read based on how surface they are. Dumbledore made them think of something else so he wouldn't accidentally read anything private because of how EASY it is to read surface memories, not because thinking of something else prevents being read entirely.

comment by moritz · 2011-09-14T12:16:50.082Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There seem to be two forms of leglimency, one that requires an explicit spell and a wand, and can be performed by most wizards. That's what Mr. Best in MoR uses, and what canon!Snape uses while trying to each Harry Occlumency. The victim knows what's going on, but usually can't do anything against it.

The second one is the form that Dumbledore (and canon!Voldemort), which just requires looking into the eyes of the victim, and lots of training. This is the "stealth mode", and most victims don't notice the intrusion at all.

It was always my intuitive understanding that the first form allows you to dig deep into one's memory, wheres the second form only shows you what the victim is thinking right now.

Does that make any sense?

comment by Nornagest · 2011-09-14T16:33:40.454Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If I remember right, a moderately big deal is made of wandless magic in the last couple books of the canon. I don't think it's come up in MoR yet, but it seems simpler to suppose that Dumbledore and canon!Voldemort are performing a wandless version of Snape's Legilimency than to assume a more fundamental difference between the types.

comment by gwern · 2011-09-14T17:15:49.164Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It could just be a power difference. If wandless magic came with no penalties attached, you'd have to be mad to continue to use wands if you can manage wandless magic like Dumbledore can. It strictly dominates wands - you can't be disarmed nearly as easily. (And when we see wizarding children 'naturally' use wandless magic, isn't it weaker than what they can manage with wands?)

A big enough difference of degree can look like a difference of kind.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-14T19:06:16.508Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It strictly dominates wands

Except when you're fighting trolls and need a Nasal Magic Delivery Device.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-14T19:58:39.129Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or when you don't know any spells but your opponent has perfectly good eye sockets. (Or when your wand is made of elder.)

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-15T00:51:26.143Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Two things, one: being more difficult to disarm isn't really as much of an advantage as it might seem. Remember, we have some idea of how magical combat works in MoR, and it seems to revolve around layers of active and passive defenses - during Bahry One-Hand, veteran Auror, v. Polyjuiced!Quirrel, the description went

According to the Defense Professor, the essential art of dueling consisted of trying to put up defenses that would block whatever someone was likely to throw at you, while trying in turn to attack in ways that were likely to go past their current set of defenses. And by far the easiest way to win any sort of real fight - Professor Quirrell had said this over and over - was to shoot the enemy before they raised a shield in the first place, either from behind or from close enough range that they couldn't dodge or counter in time.

If telekinesis-type spells (Accio, Expelliarmus, Wingardium Leviosa) are relatively easy to shield against, fights would tend to end by incapacitation rather than disarming whether you had a wand or not.

And two: interestingly, 'accidental magic' (used by wizarding children before they get their wands, generally in times of high emotion) is actually somewhat more impressive than what just-got-their-wands first years can do. Example: before he went to Hogwarts, canon!Harry once managed to get from standing on the ground to standing on the roof of his school without quite being aware of how he did it - the text seems to imply some kind of teleportation / Apparation, but it could have been self-levitation - either way, much more impressive than anything he could do for a while afterwards.

comment by gwern · 2011-09-15T15:25:02.357Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

And two: interestingly, 'accidental magic' (used by wizarding children before they get their wands, generally in times of high emotion) is actually somewhat more impressive than what just-got-their-wands first years can do.

So? This is like someone saying, after scraping a violin for a few minutes, 'pfft, I can whistle more musically than this darn thing'. It's a tool, and like all tools, takes time to master, but when it does, you're much better than without the tool. (Think about how long it takes to learn a computer, and what one can do with it.)

comment by rdb · 2011-09-17T13:33:13.308Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 24: Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis: Act 2 ... The line of reasoning continued: Atlantis had been an isolated civilization that had somehow brought into being the Source of Magic, and told it to serve only people with the Atlantean genetic marker, the blood of Atlantis.

And by similar logic: The words a wizard spoke, the wand movements, those weren't complicated enough of themselves to build up the spell effects from scratch - not the way that the three billion base pairs of human DNA actually were complicated enough to build a human body from scratch, not the way that computer programs took up thousands of bytes of data.

So the words and wand movements were just triggers, levers pulled on some hidden and more complex machine. Buttons, not blueprints.

And just like a computer program wouldn't compile if you made a single spelling error, the Source of Magic wouldn't respond to you unless you cast your spells in exactly the right way.

The chain of logic was inexorable.

Under that hypothesis, accidental magic by wizarding children — otherwise without appreciable magic power, could be a Source of Magic initiated emergency "Help" spell.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-09-16T20:26:41.832Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've been thinking about magical training that doesn't look like conventional schooling, and training accidental magic would be an interesting place to start. Would it be like learning jazz? Improv? A soft martial art?

comment by Xachariah · 2011-09-15T06:48:30.930Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

interestingly, 'accidental magic' is actually somewhat more impressive than what just-got-their-wands first years can do.

Harry (in cannon) performs accidental magic during times of high emotion and when he's not able to cast spells (ie, before he has his wand or summer vacations). This is also true with Ariana Dumbledore, Snape, and Neville in each other occurrence of accidental magic in the series. In HP:MoR, wizards use the mana/muscle system for magic. It seems likely that magic can 'build up' if unused and release in an explosive (sometimes literally) fashion in the form of accidental magic. Furthermore, since nobody seems to intentionally use it, it must have a drawback; extreme draining of magic disproportionate to the effects seems like a logical effect.

Interestingly, both Tom Riddle and Lily Evans were able to consciously control 'accidental' magic as children. They both ended up the greatest spellcasters of their year. This would further reinforce the hypothesis that it extremely drains your 'magic' muscle, given that working out one's magic has been established to make one a stronger spellcaster.

comment by gwern · 2011-09-15T15:23:38.334Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Furthermore, since nobody seems to intentionally use it, it must have a drawback; extreme draining of magic disproportionate to the effects seems like a logical effect.

Lack of control seems like the biggest issue. 'Oops, I nearly killed someone' (Ariana), 'Oops, I didn't mean to make that glass disappear' (Harry), etc.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2011-09-14T16:22:53.246Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Rather than two forms of legilimency, I thought it was a matter of the caster's facility with the spell.

In other words, it was my understanding that amateur Legilimens had to use their wand and the incantation in addition to eye contact, and with practice they could do away with the wand and word. That branch of magic is easily made wandless, perhaps.

comment by JenniferRM · 2011-09-10T03:02:01.961Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That bit was textually sparse but my reading there was that in the fourth lesson where he pulled many secrets he was reading Harry's memories of having been read over a longer period and it raising issues and them talking out an acceptable resolution so that the teacher would keep teaching. Presumably Harry could bring the whole conceptual network up "above his surface" right off the bat just to get it out of the way on purpose, which seems to be implied by this line:

...you saw that we already had a long discussion about whether you were willing to teach me Occlumency, and in the end you decided to do it, so can we just get this over with?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-10T22:01:57.651Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When Albus read Harry early in the story to look for traces he asked Harry what Harry had recently eaten so as to prevent himself from reading anything private in Harry's mind. If words can be used to redirect attention to banal issues so that it is impossible for even Albus to see more deeply

I didn't interpret it that way. Rather, I interpreted it that Dumbledore didn't want to incidentally get data about any other thoughts, he just wanted to look for signs of prior tampering. In that limited context, he didn't want Harry to think about anything that wasn't Dumbledore's business. A skilled legilimens if they are trying might be able to still get more out of that situation.

comment by JenniferRM · 2011-09-10T22:51:55.628Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

But Quirrell was also there, and presumptively allied with Lucius and against Albus.

"If you don't tell him," Professor Quirrell said then, "I will, even if you fire me for it."

If Albus read Harry in front of Quirrell without doing something to prevent invasive reading being possible in principle then it would have given Quirrell much more ammunition to use in a complicated way. They actually did quibble over the matter, and the fact of the quibble (rather than a bigger deal) directly implies that both Quirrell and Albus had precise models of what was possible with legilimency under those conditions, and knew each knew, and knew what could be safely done and safely accused, and didn't bother to argue about bigger issues, where they mutually understood, and understood that each understood, and understood that Harry could verify, that the distraction had been sufficient to make it impossible for Albus to have engaged in profound impropriety.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-12T13:17:07.317Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

the fact of the quibble (rather than a bigger deal) directly implies that both Quirrell and Albus had precise models of what was possible with legilimency under those conditions, and knew each knew, and knew what could be safely done and safely accused, and didn't bother to argue about bigger issues, where they mutually understood, and understood that each understood, and understood that Harry could verify, that the distraction had been sufficient to make it impossible for Albus to have engaged in profound impropriety.

Or that Quirrell had a precise enough model of Dumbledore that he knew he could only hurt his standing with Harry by accusing Dumbledore of things that Harry could easily learn were out of character enough to be improbable.

If he starts accusing Dumbledore of things he doesn't himself believe that Dumbledore would do, he could end up being discredited and then looking paranoid rather than wise and experienced.

Dumbledore's remark that "That was all I looked for" doesn't sound like something he would say if, while reading Harry, he couldn't have looked at anything else if he wanted.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-09T16:54:38.388Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder whether the Tootsie Pop reference was a Leaning on the Fourth Wall hint to the readers or if we're meant to take that as Hermione subconsciously remembering what was going on? ("One hundred and eighty-seven. I tried it once." is kind of chilling, in that context.)

Or it could've been just a meaningless flippant remark, that too.

And 12 minutes per cycle? For the script given in the chapter, I'd peg it at more like 2 to 4.

Edit: Actually, I just though of a way to get an upper bound - the amount of adrenaline the human body can produce in 2-4 minutes is probably pretty sharply limited, right? Mr H&C presumably had to startle Hermione at the end of every cycle, so the physiological reaction would match up to the initial surprise and smooth over any discrepancies. I find it hard to imagine that "a rush of shock and fear hit her like a Stunning Hex over her whole body" more than five or so times without just leaving her burned out completely. (Not that she didn't seem pretty burned out by the end.)

And she can't be dead. For she is the bearer of a most marvelous destiny-

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-09-10T05:17:29.368Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Actually I looked up in Wikipedia how many licks it takes to get the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop, and picked a number that seemed commensurate with the human-licker experiments.

The Chilling Implications you point out (how many licks does it take to get to the center of Hermione?) were totally lost on my consciousness until now. I wonder if that subconscious imagery had anything to do with why my brain produced that response from Hermione?

But still, probably not 187.

comment by shokwave · 2011-09-10T05:39:32.712Z · score: 23 (27 votes) · LW · GW

how many licks does it take to get to the center of Hermione?

I'm sure there are other authors on fanfiction.net who could answer this for us.

comment by lessdazed · 2011-09-15T07:28:25.857Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

fanfiction.net

It's 34. The rule there is that the answer is always 34.

comment by Hyphen-ated · 2011-09-15T04:28:34.701Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"187" is a slang term for murder, which comes from the California penal code. Is this a coincidence?

comment by Xachariah · 2011-09-10T05:57:21.259Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I find it hard to imagine that "a rush of shock and fear hit her like a Stunning Hex over her whole body" more than five or so times without just leaving her burned out completely.

I think you're misreading the situation. From Hermoine's point of view, it seems like she's suddenly getting flooded with adrenaline. The truth is that she's had the same level of adrenaline in her body and is just being made aware of it. It's similar to how walking four miles then getting obliviated an hour back would feel like you've just gotten teleported and been hit with a jelly legs jinx.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-10T18:18:47.564Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The exact phrasing at the end of the cycle that happened onscreen was:

[...] the black mist evaporated away, no longer obscuring; she saw the face beneath, and recognition sent a jolt of terrified adrenaline bursting through her -

- she felt a momentary sense of disorientation -

- and then a rush of shock and fear hit her like a Stunning Hex over her whole body, she found that without any thought or any conscious decision her wand had leaped into her hand [...]

My interpretation, and maybe I am reading too much into it, is that it was necessary to give her a shock right before the Obliviation, because otherwise the physiological experience would be going from 'walking calmly down the hallway' to 'walking tiredly down the hallway,' which wouldn't jive with convincing herself she just reacted very quickly (her wand leaped into her hand).

Also, why else would you reveal your true face to someone just before you Obliviate them and show them a different, equally false appearance? Eliciting the reaction seems to be the obvious motive, and helps get around a weakness of Obliviation - that it only affects the neurological, not the rest of the body (hence Harry's signaling method of biting his lip).

comment by Xachariah · 2011-09-10T22:54:58.566Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I assumed that revealing your true face to the person would not ever be remember, so it wouldn't matter what you did. There's no reason to bother going into another room or even turning around (and risking them trying to run/hex you) to swap faces if you're just going to obliviate them anyways. It's just a result of being weary with the whole process.

These are only dry runs at cracking her password. You practice a dozen times until you succeed, obliviate her and let her settle down, obliviate her so she doesn't remember the settling down time, then do the successful attempt. The "most glorious destiny" attempt won't be what she remembers, but rather a seamless polished version after Mr HAC has confirmed it will work.

The final, final version will have her never even suspecting anything suspicious or having discontinuities like spinning around and wands leaping to her hands. Heck, it need not even occur at the same time, but rather a day later so she doesn't get suspicious of lost time. Or at least, that's what I would in the same position.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-10T23:14:03.260Z · score: 34 (34 votes) · LW · GW

Missed opportunity:

"I've been sent to help you, so please don't be afraid. I am your servant in all things; for you, my Lady, are the last magical descendant of Merlin-"

"That's ridiculous."

(fleeting disorientation)

"For you, my Lady, are the last magical descendant of Ravenclaw-"

"I don't believe you."

(fleeting disorientation)

"For you, my Lady, are the bearer of a most marvelous destiny-"

Edit: (Personally, I prefer " - she felt a momentary sense of disorientation - "; it seems a little more subtle, but I guess that's not the effect he's going for.)

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-09-12T23:25:25.868Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

It is more subtle and I do prefer it. The problem is that a substantial fraction of reviewers are still saying they've got no idea what's happening during the ellipses, and I care about that.

Your version is a little too unsubtle, but the fact that people were buying the "last descendant of Merlin thing" had me wondering what it would've taken to actually trigger their skepticism.

"For you, my Lady, are the last descendant of Cthulhu -"

"For you alone must stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness -"

"Only you can prevent forest fires -"

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-13T04:16:37.160Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

No, I get why you changed it, and I certainly wasn't offering that as any kind of serious suggestion, but... well, maybe it's elitist of me, but frankly I don't understand what benefit there is to catering to the lowest common denominator of ffnet readers. I mean, the lowest common denominator of ffnet readers is pretty low. (Boy-Who-Lived Gets Draco Malfoy Pregnant! sorry i suk at sumries lol, dont liek dont read)

On another note:

"For you, my Princess, are of the blood of the dragons -"

"You have the ability to overcome great fear -"

"By your powers combined, I am -"

"Yer a wizard, Hermione -"

comment by shokwave · 2011-09-14T12:28:37.755Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Raising the sanity waterline and all that.

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-13T15:09:43.782Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. It was so obvious to me that Hermione was being Obliviated that when I read the instruction at the start of the next chapter I went back to see what I could be missing. It didn't occur to me that peope might not be getting it. And that was when it had ellipses.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-14T03:37:01.596Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm one of the people who was confused by the Merlin thing and said as such in my review that I wasn't sure if it was lying or not. In that version, the Obliviation was a lot less obvious. My initial reading was that the entity in question was trying to appear (probably untruthfully) to have been testing Hermione previously and was now ready to reveal itself in its true, nice form. It even occurred to me that it might even have been its actual form with it finally happy that it could appear as a nice being rather than as some terrible mystery. I was in particular thinking of the part in the Chronicles of Prydain where the companions are shocked to find out that the nasty looking hags true form might actually be beautiful young women. In that text they call it out explicitly.

Still, the switch to the repeated ... made it really clear what was going on in a really blunt, squicktastic fashion. I have to agree with pedanterrific that you may want to be careful not to play to the lowest common denominator of ff.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-12T23:39:53.262Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"For you alone must stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness -"

I would really like if it included this. If you did go with pedanterrific's suggestion this might also help reduce the squicktastic aspect of the repeated memory erasure. Actually, the juxtaposition might make it more squick; I'm not sure.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-13T00:03:55.936Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

(In hindsight, Giles felt it was a little embarrassing, how obvious the solution was.

After all, what teenage girl doesn't want to feel special?)

Euurghh the more I think about this the worse it gets

comment by orthonormal · 2011-09-11T05:53:33.440Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Sure Thing.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-11T06:14:20.566Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh! Ives! I love Ives. I spent a whole winter reading him once. I was so excited after ten pages that I went out and bought everything else he wrote.

(Bell rings.)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-09-10T23:40:54.848Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"You win" seems appropriate.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-11T09:51:37.742Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think so. Eliezer needs to revise his chapter again.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-09-09T20:32:49.167Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the Tootsie Pop bit was just a reference to this.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-09-12T23:28:09.311Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I discovered that when researching HPMOR.

comment by gjm · 2011-09-09T20:20:37.991Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'd describe the "tootsie pop" response as contemptuous rather than inane.

comment by moritz · 2011-11-30T09:11:49.316Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Blocking the Unblockable Curse.

This is mostly related to canon, but also a bit to HPMoR.

I've always wondered why the killing curse counts as "unblockable". In "Order of the Phoenix", Dumbledore blocks it by moving a statue in its path. Seems to work nicely. There is other evidence that solids stop the killing curse -- if it went through it, you could accidentally kill somebody behind a wall when missing your target. Prof. Moody would surely have mentioned that danger when talking about the killing curse, if that was the case. So you could carry around a steel plate strong enough to block the curse, and quickly move it into its path. Not easy, but possible.

There are also several instances where simple spells conjure animals (I remember bats and small birds). I wonder if you could simply conjure an animal into the way of the killing curse. It might need to have a minimal size to work, but a powerful wizards should be able to do that.

I also wonder if there are ways to combine charms: one detection charm that triggers another one. For example one that detects killing curses, and enables apparation or a portkey.

So, one proven way to block a killing curse, one conjectural, and another conjectural way to escape it. I can't believe the wizards still call it "unblockable" :-)

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-11-30T13:28:57.679Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

*Meow*

comment by Zaine · 2012-04-04T07:08:51.710Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure that 'unblockable' is meant to mean it was the only magic known to have no counter-effect, or counter-spell. Now Harry has discovered the true Patronus charm is the counter spell to Avada Kedavra. It makes sense when you think about it, which I'm sure is why Eliezer included it in the first place. The Dementors are voids of nothingness, into such nothingness tumble all living things once their life is extinguished (according to present evidence, anyway); in other words, the Dementors are parts of Death, but are not Death Incarnate (which can be summoned according to a Dark Ritual Quirrell read tell of as a spritely young lad). Thus, if the Patronus charm has the ability to repel a piece of Death, then in accordance with magic's apparent system of dualities, the Patronus charm must represent the opposite of Death: Life.

All but Harry cast their Patronus using memories, figments of the mind based upon reality; because they only conjure a thought reminiscent of all life can be, they can only manifest a fragment of life force to shield themselves from Death - an imperfect shield, permeable to Death.
Harry recognizes the two poles of reality: Death, or absence - and Life, or presence. Harry brings to mind all that reality really is to us, namely all that a life can ever possibly experience, and pushes that in the face of the part of Death that is Dementors.* Harry has this ability because he strives to and greatly succeeds in deceiving himself of nothing (he's not perfect - yet); through rationality he is able to have an accurate enough map of the territory that his conjured thought actually is a picture of all life can be, and so he can manifest the entirety of his Homo sapiens sapiens being. His Patronus not only represents but is pure life force, so it can overwhelm and obliterate imperfect representations of Death id est Dementors.

Likewise, as both Dementors and animal Patronuses are imperfect representations of their respective pole, their effects more or less cancel; an animal Patronuses' ability to repel a Dementor is in apparent proportion to its representative accuracy. Harry's true Patronus is the the form of Life itself, and so he can destroy Dementors and cancel Death; Dumbledore accepts most of the Life dimension of reality, and nearly all of the Death dimension of reality, and so his representation of Life, his Patronus, is the strongest and brightest yet mentioned.

Now comes the tricky part of this hypothesis. The Killing Curse is equal to death in that if struck by it, assuming no inherent rule of magic regarding altruistic protective love interferes, you will die. The true Patronus has demonstrated the ability to overpower and destroy imperfect representations of Death, as it is the duality opposing Death in true form. However, the Killing Curse and the true Patronus cancel, so it must then follow that the Killing Curse is Death in true form, but not Death Incarnate.

However, this theory is completely blown away if the true Patronus doesn't cancel the Killing Curse at all, that Harry blocked Quirrell's Avada Kedavra merely by effecting an interaction of their magic. Whether the true Patronus can truly block the Killing Curse remains to be seen.


*From what I've gleaned from the text, I do not think Harry's statement, "I think of the absolute rejection of Death as the natural order [paraphrased]," accurately reflects his thought processes preceding the casting of the true Patronus; to reject Death is to acknowledge it, and I don't think Harry acknowledges Death at all when casting the charm. Furthermore, I do not even think it possible to cast the true Patronus when thinking of Death at all. When casting the charm, Harry calls to mind all that Death isn't, and all that life is; he thinks purely of life, with not even a single shard of a thought of Death in mind.

As an aside, I find it particularly clever how in contrasting everyone else in the wizarding world, or agents of general humanity, with Harry, an agent of rationality, Eliezer characterizes animal Patronuses as akin to the self-deceptions and biases of most of humanity, and the true Patronus as akin to the power earned through the diligent application of rationalist techniques to everyday life, through elucidating the difference between animals'\ capacity for understanding and human capacity for understanding.
\Excludes humans as a subset; the sentence becomes awkward otherwise.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-12-17T08:58:38.030Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My assumption was always just that the "summon death" bit referred to creating a Dementor, and that they are much more directly about death than simple nothingness. This isn't necessarily implied by the text, but it seems the more likely explanation.

And yes, you can definitely argue with the author about their own characters, to a certain extent. (I.e., "He'd never do X, Y is way more like him!" okay, "Harry is actually a 57-year-old woman!" not okay). You're well within the lines here.

comment by Zaine · 2012-12-17T09:33:27.898Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... 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.

  • Chapter seventy-nine, HP:MoR

I can see your interpretation, but Quirrel's commentary does not lend it credence. He does fear Dementors, or rather their effect upon him, but - no, your interpretation holds; regardless of how high a probability there may be of the spell merely summoning a Dementor, the inability to dismiss what's summoned leaves too high a risk of freeing something worse.

Though I would think Quirrel would clearly express those concerns over opting to speak warily and vaguely of the ritual - and I think it out of character for him to not have thoroughly contemplated it.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-12-17T09:42:19.279Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does Quirrell know that Dementors are death? I think Quirrell's interpretation is based on a lack of data, not on a difference of opinion.

comment by Zaine · 2012-12-17T09:51:25.078Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, I see your point. The theory still holds should the ritual summon one Dementor or many, and I've benefited from considering it; thank you.

comment by Zaine · 2012-12-04T07:18:09.779Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Am I arguing with the Eliezer about his own character here? If so, is that allowed?

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T02:03:58.734Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's ridiculous. It's ridiculous that the curse would be considered unblockable under those circumstances and ridiculous that I didn't think of that already.

And yet... it seems you're right. In fact, now I think it would make sense for wizards to use shields in duels.

comment by dlthomas · 2011-12-22T02:34:13.761Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Assuming shields light enough to be practically carried could be thick enough to block it.

comment by sboo · 2012-01-21T01:40:07.540Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

harry carries around a small boulder as ring. the transfiguration could be finite incantem'd before battle. although quirrel did say that most magic battles are actually ambushes.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T04:43:40.897Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And someone could just cast evanesco on the shield, now that I think about it.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T02:35:35.398Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You need to remember how wizards think. If the killing curse can't be blocked by spells, then it simply can't be blocked. They mean that if you use it in a duel, it doesn't matter what sort of shield spell your opponent has up, it won't work, and so the spell isn't very sporting and therefore is unforgivable.

comment by wuthefwasthat · 2012-01-09T07:38:12.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Harry's patronus also blocks a killing curse, in Azkaban (in HPMoR)

comment by Serpentsong · 2012-01-21T05:37:54.270Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

An idle bit of speculation, which has probably been brought up before, but it occurred to me that MoR Voldemort, being more intelligent than his canonical counterpart, may not have seen fit to stop at a mere 7 horcruxes. Why not simply make as many as (in)humanly possible, rather than adhering to some superstitious wishy-washy stuff about "7 is a powerfully magic number"? It is almost certain that the mechanics of horcrux-construction in MoR are different from those in canon (e.g. mind-upload rather than soul-splitting), so perhaps the limit that Canon!Voldemort faced (unstable soul-fragments) is not something that would be encountered in quite the same form as MoR!Voldemort.

To provide the merest scrap of substance to my speculation, I noticed that in Chapter 53 (TSPE, Part III), Quirrell states:

“Yess,” hissed the snake, “but do not underesstimate her, sshe wass the deadliesst of warriorss.” The green head dipped in warning. “One would be wisse to fear me, boy, even were I sstarved and nine-tenthss dead..."

The bolded interests me, partly because of something Dumbledore states in Chapter 61 (TSPE, Part XI):

"...Voldemort’s final avenue is to seduce a victim and drain the life from them over a long period; in which case Voldemort would be weak compared to his former power."

Slowly draining a victim's life and being weak compared to his former power is certainly what occurred with Canon Voldemort possessing Canon Quirrell--perhaps MoR Quirrelmort benefits from a similar arrangement? If so, the adjective "starving" certainly fits.

Now, we already know that Quirrelmort likes to play ironic little games with what he says--in fact, he admits as much himself in chapter 51: The lips twitched again, and then went flat. "Then I shall skip it. Mr. Potter, you sometimes make a game of lying with truths, playing with words to conceal your meanings in plain sight. I, too, have been known to find that amusing."

To return to the point, if hypothetically describing himself as "starving" falls into the same class of ironically veiled truth-statements Quirrelmort enjoys dropping from time to time (see ch. 49: "If only You-Know-Who had lived, you might have persuaded him to teach you some of the knowledge that would have been your heritage, from one Heir of Slytherin to another," or perhaps "Tell them I ate [the dementor]"--->"I am a death-eater", or again Harry had asked why Professor Quirrell couldn’t be the one to play the part of the Dark Lord, and Professor Quirrell had pointed out that there was no plausible reason for him to be possessed by the shade of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named), what might be the import of "nine-tenths dead"?

My thought was simply that "nine-tenths dead" might be a clue as to the number of Horcruxes MoR!Voldemort created.

comment by Locke · 2012-01-21T06:02:55.449Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If there are any negative repercussions of Horcrux-making in MoR, and I'm fairly certain there are, I should think Quirrell would have no good reason to make any Horcruxes besides the one. It's absolutely unreachable, why damage your soul any further?

comment by Serpentsong · 2012-01-22T07:48:53.106Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Any reason(s) in particular that you're certain that Horcrux-creation would have detrimental effects significant enough that Voldemort would create only one, maximum? I assume it must have some detrimental effects, because otherwise, given a Rational Dark Lord armed with a time-turner, we'd be looking at Horcruxes proliferating as fast as he can make them. Tens or hundreds or thousands of horcruxes, one on every muggle device launched into or out of orbit, if he could manage it.

I notice that you seem to take for granted the existence of "souls" in MoR, which is far from certain. Actually I would rate the possibility as decidedly uncertain, since if souls and their attendant afterlife existed, it'd put quite a dent in the entire motivation for Harry's "conquer death and achieve immortality for everyone" program. And as prasannak noted, Harry has raised the alternate hypothesis that horcrux creation is less soul-fragmentation and more mind-uploading: "Maybe he found some way of duplicating the power of the Resurrection Stone, only he loaded it in advance with a complete copy of his brain state. Or something like that." (Chapter 39)

edit:

And I just remembered a brief exchange between Quirrell and Harry in chapter 46, which (to me, at least) hints at the existence of more than one horcrux. Quirrell asks Harry, hypothetically speaking, where he would choose to "lose something where no one would ever find it again." (I assumed he was being all ironic again and was talking about horcruxes.) Harry reeled off a list of about 5 possible hiding places, to which Quirrell responds "All excellent suggestions... But tell me, Mr. Potter, why those exact five? ...There is an interesting pattern to them.... One might say it sounds like something of a riddle." (Riddle? Irony overload.)

It just dawned on me that those 5 hiding places could only be clues to a riddle (the riddle of where Voldemort chose to hide all his horcruxes) if they didn't encompass the complete set of all horcrux hiding places, meaning that there are probably more than 5. Additionally, those 5 hiding places would only be good "clues" if they were themselves correct hiding places, from which further hiding places could be extrapolated based on some sort of shared similarity.

comment by Locke · 2012-01-22T16:06:57.290Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

V jnf haqre gur vzcerffvba gung rirelguvat nobhg fbhyf naq gur nsgreyvsr sebz pnaba ubyqf gehr va ZbE. Ryvrmre fgngrq gung Uneel svaqf uvzfrys va n havirefr jvgu na nsgreyvsr juvyr abg oryvrivat va na nsgreyvsr, ohg guvf vf abg n synj va uvf engvbanyvgl orpnhfr Ebjyvat jebgr ab npghny rivqrapr bs gurfr guvatf vagb ure havirefr.

comment by Serpentsong · 2012-01-23T00:05:45.935Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mean Eliezer said that in an author's comment or something? If so I concede the point, though the text of MoR doesn't appear to me to support the existence of either souls or afterlife (even ghosts are less sapient than they are in canon).

I'm also doubtful about it from a story-telling standpoint, since if spiritual immortality for humans exists by default, it would make all of Harry's stated ambitions to achieve transhuman immortality in the material universe, for everyone, a bit pointless and perhaps even restrictive (that's a whole new world you never get to explore, if you never die). Also, since MoR has a certain didactic function, for Eliezer to establish spiritual immortality in the Rationality!verse would kind of take away from the impact of his anti-death and pro-cryonics sentiments.

As regards your comment about Rowling, I think in canon there's at least one piece of evidence strongly supporting the existence of an afterlife. In Deathly Hallows, during the "King's Cross" scene when Harry is AK'd into Limbo by Voldemort, Harry ostensibly meets the departed soul of Dumbledore, who tells him all manner of things (regarding his own past and the Deathly Hallows) that only the true Dumbledore would know. If one is particularly skeptical, one can write this off as total delusion on Harry's part (thus rendering suspect everything "Dumbledore" tells him), but that would go completely against the spirit of the story.

comment by Locke · 2012-01-23T02:02:25.902Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

V oryvrir ur zrnaf rivqrapr gung pna or bognvarq ol aba-qrnq crbcyr. Urer'f gur yvax.

comment by Serpentsong · 2012-01-23T02:49:13.740Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see, thanks for the link. Honestly though, va gung abgr Ryvrmre frrzf gb pbzr evtug bhg naq fnl gung va ZbE gurer vf ab nsgreyvsr: "Pu. 39 vf nyfb gur ynetrfg punatr V arrqrq gb znxr gb Ebjyvat'f ynjf bs zntvp, rzcunfvf ba arrqrq - bgurejvfr, lbh creprvir, punenpgre zbgvingvba tbrf bhg gur jvaqbj." Ol punenpgre zbgvingvbaf V vzntvar ur jnf guvaxvat bs gur fnzr pbapreaf V zragvbarq jura V gnyxrq nobhg gur "fgbel-gryyvat fgnaqcbvag" nobir.

comment by Locke · 2012-01-23T03:52:22.738Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

V guvax lbh znl or pbeerpg ba obgu cbvagf, npghnyyl. V'yy tb onpx naq rqvg zl cbfgf, V thrff.

comment by major · 2012-01-22T15:16:04.124Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

if souls and their attendant afterlife existed, it'd put quite a dent in the entire motivation for Harry's "conquer death and achieve immortality for everyone" program.

Oh, quite the opposite!

comment by Serpentsong · 2012-01-23T00:19:12.159Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I worded that poorly. It wouldn't put a dent in his underlying motivations (he would still love life, and no doubt be relieved at the news that the dead aren't lost forever), but it would make his current ambitions to optimize this world a bit beside the point, if he also needs to concentrate on optimizing the next one.

Or did you mean something else?

comment by prasannak · 2012-01-22T05:35:48.567Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Because he is nothing if not thorough?

And a mind-upload might not have negative repercussions in MoR, vis-a-vis canon.

comment by matheist · 2012-01-07T00:43:47.591Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Re Chp 35

I searched all the threads, and didn't find any mention of this. There's a hint in the conversation between Hat&Cloak and Zabini: namely, the fact that there is a conversation at all. Why does H&C need to talk to Zabini if he's just going to obliviate him anyway? Here's one possible answer: he needs some information from Zabini.

I don't think he needs Zabini's report on the conversation — partly because he keeps talking afterwards, and partly because there are independent reasons to think that H&C is either Quirrel or an agent of Quirrel's. (For instance, the "keyed into the wards" comment, as well as the fact that H&C exactly predicts Quirrel's reaction to Zabini's statement, and the fact that this statement ended up benefiting Quirrel.)

So what information does H&C need? Note that he tells Zabini, "The reward I promised you is already on its way to your mother, by owl." In other words, Zabini was clever enough to insist that his reward go to a third party, leaving someone around to remember that he's owed an award in case he's obliviated. H&C seems to me to be turning the conversation at every step towards Zabini's mother. Eventually, he receives the information that Zabini doesn't know how his mother persuaded her last suitor to marry her.

It's unclear why this information would satisfy H&C, but it does seem that he needs to take care of Zabini's mother in some way (obliviate her, probably), and that he's trying to figure out how difficult this will be. This seems reminiscent of Quirrel's later behavior towards Auror Bahry — he tries to figure out exactly what Bahry knows and what the other aurors expect so that he can appropriately memory-charm him.

Any thoughts on the matter?

comment by orthonormal · 2012-01-07T21:54:27.487Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Huh! Given that it would create (what currently looks like) a completely irrelevant tangent to the main plot, I think the interview might have just happened so that the readers can see Hat-and-Cloak in action. The excuse could be that Hat-and-Cloak is addicted to monologuing to characters that ve's about to Obliviate anyway.

Also, welcome to Less Wrong!

comment by matheist · 2012-01-12T01:10:50.056Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I hope that doesn't turn out to be the reason for the conversation to have happened — it's a little unsatisfying. I guess another reason for H&C to need to talk to Zabini could be in order to use legilimancy on him. Presumably, in this case, to discover whether Zabini told anyone else besides his mother about H&C.

Edit: On reflection, this seems quite likely to me. H&C turns the conversation to betrayal, and if the plan is to use legilimancy on Zabini, then Zabini would need to be thinking about betrayals (and whether he has betrayed H&C) in order for the legilimancy to be useful.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-16T04:51:21.420Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So what information does H&C need? ... H&C seems to me to be turning the conversation at every step towards Zabini's mother. Eventually, he receives the information that Zabini doesn't know how his mother persuaded her last suitor to marry her.

I think you might be overthinking things. H&C keeps bringing the conversation around to the consequences of serial betrayal. One off-hand remark (the "keyed into the wards" comment) leads Zabini to think about his guesses as to who H&C might be. The Obliviation only comes after Zabini thinks to himself that no one gave him a chance to sell out H&C.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2011-10-18T03:02:43.755Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Well I am in HMPOR withdrawal so I will post an idea that I have about the origin of the "unverbalizable fear" that Harry has while under the sorting hat about going to Hufflepuff where he will be happy. This idea is based on the few descriptions of the relationship between harry and his father in the early chapters

I was going to post the excerpts in this comment, but it is quite a bit of content so I will abstain for now. If someone wants me to post the excerpts I will. For now suffice it to say that Harry does not feel respected by his father and the only positive feeling that his father is said to display towards Harry is pride.

His eyes glanced over to his father Michael Verres-Evans, who was looking stereotypically stern-but-proud

You might say that his father dropping everything for a last minute book buying spree was a very kind thing to do. Indeed Harry himself says that his dad is "awesome" because he buys him books, and uses the memory later when trying to cast the patronius charm. However, considering the lack of respect and affection that Harry's father shows I have to ask if the book buying spree was really for Harry. It seems more likely to be an attempt to help Harry "be all that he can be" not for Harry, but for himself. So he can continue to feel proud about the achievements of his child.

Children need the expression of love and affection from their parents in order to feel secure. If all Harry can get from his father is pride then it will be very important for him to maintain it. I submit that Harry's unverbalizable fear is an unconscious fear of abandonment(death for most of human history) if he loses his fathers pride by choosing the path of happiness over achievement.

comment by kilobug · 2011-09-12T19:22:53.517Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I've been searching a bit, but didn't find any "process" for translation of HP:MoR. Being a native french, I can offer a bit of my time to translate part of it, but :

  1. I would like to know what's the standard process, since a translation can at some points alter the meaning, is there any review or agreement from Eliezer required ?

  2. There seems to be two french translations already started. I don't want to conflict with other persons. Are the current translators still active ? If so, do they require help, or do they prefer to work alone ?

  3. Do you think it would be a good idea to setup a discussion on LW or a wiki page about translation in general, with the process, the status of the current translations (if the translator(s) are still active or not, ...) ?

comment by gwern · 2012-01-30T18:25:10.446Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There seems to be two french translations already started. I don't want to conflict with other persons. Are the current translators still active ? If so, do they require help, or do they prefer to work alone ?

Shouldn't you ask them directly? What are the odds they'll be reading down a few hundred comment in this page?

comment by kilobug · 2012-01-30T22:53:09.175Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I did, and I'm working with one team ;)

But I was more looking for general informations and policies about translations. And maybe a way to organize them from LW (wiki or main). But I didn't get much reply here, so I just went on with other channels.

comment by Locke · 2011-12-27T17:10:33.732Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think that the new information 78 would give us to discuss ought to balance out the cliffhanger, no matter how large.

Also, I wonder if Harry might use the Headmasters conclusions about the return of the Dark Lord to request private lessons. Most likely not Horcrux-related lessons, but similiar to what Ron and Hermione expected Dumbledore to teach him in Canon. In this universe Love is certainly not Harry's Deus ex Machina, so Dumbledore ought to want him to be more competent in Battle Magic.

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-09-27T21:02:09.351Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I've been reading a chapter of MoR to my girlfriend every time we go to a park, and we just got up to Chapter 39. Two thoughts:

  1. It's fun to try to imitate a long series of random noises with your mouth alone in a public place.

  2. Sarah's immediate reaction to the first part was "Why doesn't he just ask Harry for a Pensieve memory of his conversation with Lucius? Dumbledore doesn't use notes." I can't see why not either. My first reaction was that Pensieves haven't been referenced in MoR yet and might work differently, but I was wrong; Draco's going to use his memory of Harry's first date to blackmail him.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-27T21:19:44.675Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The exact details of memories are malleable. It may very well be that pensieves in this setting can only recover what the person remembers not what they actually experienced. It may be that this could still be useful for interrogating less disciplined minds who can remember details but not realize they do, but Dumbledore may think that if there were any specific details that were important enough Harry would in fact remember them.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-27T21:18:16.492Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Another example would be Draco, to Harry, in Chapter 7:

"The courts use Veritaserum, but it's a joke really, you just Obliviate yourself before you testify and then claim the other person was Memory-Charmed with a false memory. If you've got a Pensieve, and we do, you can even get the memory back afterward."

And that's a very good point. I can't quite tell whether Dumbledore picked up on the mistake that Lucius made, just from Harry's memory - the only reaction we are directly told about is

Dumbledore's face had grown more remote as Harry went on, and at the end there was a look of ancientness about him, a sternness in the air.

"Well," said Dumbledore. "I suggest you take the best of care that the heir of Malfoy does not come to harm, then. And I will do the same." The Headmaster was frowning, his fingers drumming soundlessly through the inky black surface of a plate inscribed with the word Leliel. "And I think it would be most extremely wise for you to avoid all interaction with Lord Malfoy henceforth."

and then the conversation switches tracks. If Dumbledore did get the subtext just from Harry's (described, offscreen) verbal recollections, then the lack is just a minor puzzling detail; but if he didn't, when he most certainly could have from the inhumanly perfect reproduction of a Pensieve, failing to use one seems a critical flaw.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-10-03T22:01:43.613Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe he's not ready to ask Harry to offer such a major sign of trust as allowing someone else to put one of his own memories in their pensieve and view it directly?

Also, do we know if more than one person's memories can be put into a single pensieve? Maybe different people's memories can't be mixed.

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-10-04T00:57:02.294Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Also, do we know if more than one person's memories can be put into a single pensieve? Maybe different people's memories can't be mixed.

In canon, they can--Harry spends much of the sixth book exploring memories from many different people, all in the same pensieve. In MoR, Draco says "we" have a pensieve, implying there's a Malfoy Pensieve, where an "I" would imply that his and his dad's are separate.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-20T06:03:24.570Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I find myself wondering about the supposed safety of Hogwarts. The wards are given as an explanation for this but if students are able to constantly hex each other in the halls, Quirrel is able to cast extremely powerful spells, and an unnamed 6th year replicated the Sectumsempra incident from cannon without any apparent interference from the wards I cant imagine what it is exactly that the wards are supposed to do to insure the safety of the students.

Consider that the school is full of 11-18 year olds with access to weapons of mass destruction and it seems to me that the apparent safety of the place for the past 50 years is due to luck rather then anything inherent in system.

comment by jimrandomh · 2012-02-21T04:38:03.417Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Consider that the school is full of 11-18 year olds with access to weapons of mass destruction and it seems to me that the apparent safety of the place for the past 50 years is due to luck rather then anything inherent in system.

Perhaps luck is inherent in the system. The canon storyline does include a literal luck potion, so similar things are plausible. They also have and use a seer, and short-range time travel. The latter two could be used in ways that prevent deaths without a corresponding reduction in close calls.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-23T03:46:42.392Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ya, If current generation wizards can brew a potion of luck then why not an ancient ward of luck? Sounds reasonable to me.

comment by MinibearRex · 2012-03-06T03:04:48.242Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From Ch. 36:

Hermione's mother had looked very alarmed, and Harry had quickly interrupted and done his best to explain that all the spells were stunners, Professor Quirrell was always watching, and the existence of magical healing meant that lots of things were much less dangerous than they sounded

Now the "all spells are stunners" isn't always true, but for the most part (at least in canon) the hexes they use aren't really powerful. But I think that most of the safety record is due to the latter two factors. How many times in canon have characters had injuries that would have required many months of physical therapy in the real world, and been fine a week later?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-23T14:27:08.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I cant imagine what it is exactly that the wards are supposed to do to insure the safety of the students.

All external threats (without internal assistance) for a start. As for internal threats there is the old "If you kill your fellow students with either spells or via garrotting them with your shoelaces like any mortal could do then Dumbledore, Snape, Quirrel and McG will @#%@ you up!", and anything less than actually killing them and the staff can heal you.

None of this helps vs the "Students learn transfiguration. Everybody dies." problem but that was outside the scope of authorial comprehension.

comment by moritz · 2012-02-21T15:52:22.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In my understanding, the wards serve mostly two purposes: prevent harm from the outside (by mostly isolating Hogwarts magically from the outside), and analytical wards that inform the school authorities if something really bad happens.

So if you want to murder someone inside of Hogwards, you face the problem that the murder is immediately detected, and then you're sealed off from the outside -- the chances of escaping aren't very high.

You are right that the wards don't seem to prevent any accidents, but it seems that most "school magic" doesn't go horribly wrong without prior warnings. For example in potions, people seem to know which potions are dangerous, and those are only done under supervision.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-21T00:20:45.313Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There are almost certainly enchantments to detect the use of deadly magic within the school, and Madam Pommfery can fix pretty much anything a Hogwarts student could be expected to cast without murderous intent.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-21T01:56:03.580Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Transfiguration?

comment by Locke · 2012-02-21T02:17:19.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wizards are ignorant, but not really stupid. I think the vice-headmistress is quite effective with her warnings.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-22T01:13:11.163Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Risk taking, irrationality, and emotional volatility are pretty common traits of children in that age range. I don't think that is necessarily the case, but for children brought up in the environment of magical Briton that is certainly true for the majority of them. There were times around that age when I felt like setting the world on fire and if I had access to "the button" I might have pressed it. I think I would not have, but I cant be sure.

I think it would be quite incongruous to talk in confident tones about the safety of a junior high-school that stored weapons of mass destruction in an unlocked utility closet.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-22T01:20:01.361Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is actually an interesting point to bear in mind: the average wizard's ability to cause large numbers of deaths is a lot greater than the average muggle's. It doesn't take a genius on the level of Voldemort to transfigure a hundred pounds of bleach (or name your poison) into air and release it inconspicuously in Diagon Alley.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-23T18:59:20.811Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The average muggle's ability to cause a large number of deaths is pretty high too (at least in America, where guns aren't too hard to get). My former high school has been around for 43 years now, and has never had a mass murder, and had quite a few more students than Hogwarts does. Columbine-level events are nearly unheard of, even though they wouldn't be much harder to execute than the hundred-pounds-of-bleach plan. The wards are probably just there to prevent outside attack from political opponents, and the children are assumed to be as well adjusted as anyone else in society.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-23T19:13:36.045Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One: I wasn't thinking in reference to Hogwarts students, just wizards in general. (Hence 'Diagon Alley' rather than 'the Great Hall'.)

Two:

Blaise stared at the black mist, now beginning to feel a little uneasy. But it ought to take a Hogwarts professor to do anything significant to him without setting off alarms.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-12-04T18:22:08.539Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Except that the "hundred pounds of bleach" plan requires only a single, irreversible action, so it's more like pressing a button.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-02-22T03:57:33.564Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It kind of does. In how many fanfics is anything like this suggested?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-22T12:55:56.938Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't take a genius on the level of Voldemort to transfigure a hundred pounds of bleach (or name your poison) into air and release it inconspicuously in Diagon Alley.

It kind of does.

It really doesn't. They teach transfiguration to the children from about 8 years old and some of them do not completely fail. They tell the students a bunch of things that are really dangerous to do. There are many people below the level of Voldemort who have both the knowledge and skill to kill people effectively with transfiguration if they so desire. It really isn't that much of a genius feat of creativity.

In how many fanfics is anything like this suggested?

Relatively few fan-fictions are based around the crude exploitation of basic magic for the purpose of terrorism. This says a lot more about what makes a good story than about how hard it is for average wizards to play terrorist. Significant plot arcs about magical terrorists sound cooler if they use fancy dramatic magic that sounds mysterious and hard to acquire rather than the simplest thing that would work.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-03-01T03:54:07.203Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

They tell the students a bunch of things that are really dangerous to do.

They go further than that: the standard textbook includes a horrifying animated photograph of a murder victim. The idea that Transfiguration can be used as a weapon is taught in the very first class session.

In the wood-shop class which I took when I was a year or two older than a Hogwarts first-year, we were taught that the tools are dangerous. We were taught that you can cut your arm off with a bandsaw if you behave foolishly near it; and that if you lower the drill on the drill-press against your hand, it will put a hole through your hand. However, we were not specifically taught about the possibilities of shop tools for intentional murder. It was assumed that any accidents would be just that: accidents.

Now, Transfiguration is more dangerous than shop tools; Transfiguring a brick to air or water could sicken or kill quite a few people, whereas a belt-sander is really only dangerous to those within shoving distance. But a shop-class student casting around for a weapon would probably seize upon a chair-leg or two-by-four much more readily than a saw-blade. The Transfiguration student — having been explicitly instructed that the art has been used to intentionally kill — would much more likely bring that to mind.

comment by drethelin · 2012-02-27T00:47:20.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

kind of tangential, but would an arbitrary wizard even know what bleach is?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-27T06:59:20.861Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose the question would be "Is the typical magical cleaning potion harmful when dispersed in small amounts throughout the body?"

comment by drethelin · 2012-02-27T07:14:52.197Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I guess you could also just transmute a lot of a solid into gas while bubbleheading yourself and just leave it to disperse.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-27T09:03:28.529Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would use Aluminium, in small amounts. It wouldn't so much be terrorism as it would be counterintelligence. Literally. Do some experimentation (on political prisoners) first and then some calculations on air dispersal concentrations and work out how much the human body can absorb via untranfiguration without being detected. Then proceed to provide a chronic internal dose of Aluminium to select enemy targets over an extended period. The slow but steady cognitive decline would have no apparent source and would be noticed only after it has been resulting in poor decision making for a long time. Just what you need when you are planning a magical war.

comment by Rhwawn · 2012-02-27T19:53:35.753Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Aluminum sounds like it'd have a long half-life and leave elevated levels in the blood and hair for a long time - and so is easily tested for. It'd be better to use something which washes out quicker. Lots of drugs damage cognition and disappear quickly; maybe scopolamine, but there are probably better suggestions.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-27T22:50:52.674Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Aluminum sounds like it'd have a long half-life and leave elevated levels in the blood and hair for a long time

That's rather the point. Supplying a dose at a rate that is below the ability to detect at the moment of the untransfiguration causes the aluminium to build up in the brain over the long term and result in a slow but steady decline in function without anything to prompt attention unless the decline in function itself is noticed - and that sort of introspective access is rare.

Lots of drugs damage cognition and disappear quickly; maybe scopolamine, but there are probably better suggestions.

Naturally drugs are the first things to consider - or more precisely the more extreme potions and the venom of exotic magical beasts. But drethelin was considering the easiest option - that of just getting a bunch of easily accessible matter and transfiguring away. Just grabbing an aluminium can and dispersing it once a day seems like the best choice as far as easily accessible mundane materials go. Naturally if we have already ruled out bleach the more complex human poisons are way out but what do you think would be the best magical poison/venom? Basilisk fang has potential. Spiders could be fun. But now I'm speculating about transfiguring philosopher's stones. It seems the HPverse one only works on metal but if there were a related midaslike substance that was less specific it'd be rather hilarious to turn all your enemies to gold in a flash by standing upwind.

  • and so is easily tested for.

And yet isn't. Even muggles who know what Aluminium is beyond "weird muggle softdrink cans" and know what the effects can be don't bother to test for Aluminium even when signs of toxicity start appearing.

comment by Rhwawn · 2012-03-02T05:02:39.747Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And yet isn't. Even muggles who know what Aluminium is beyond "weird muggle softdrink cans" and know what the effects can be don't bother to test for Aluminium even when signs of toxicity start appearing.

But if they start testing, aluminum will likely be one of them. Aluminum poisoning is not that rare or exotic - your deodorant or Antacids can give you it, and so I assume doctors are at least glancingly familiar with it. This tactic works only until someone learns of it. There must be better substances to use!

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-02T08:30:47.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This tactic works only until someone learns of it.

This rather seems to apply to the weaponized transfiguration in general. Compared to identifying and removing Aluminum that is dispersed into the cells of the brain - never mind trying to fix existing neural damage - is far more difficult than defending against the whole class of transfigured gas attacks.

There must be better substances to use!

That particular tactic is, of course, an optimization within the domain "transfigure arbitrary commonplace solid". Did you consider the alternate substances discussed in the comment to which you are replying? Are there some superior options to those that you would suggest? Creating the perfect magical terrorist attack is naturally of great interest.

comment by rdb · 2012-02-29T22:53:08.540Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If transfiguration can only result in non-magical substances, then science would help to transfigure to CBW agents - ending up too close for comfort. Wards cast in transfiguration classrooms and dormitories to detect intent to violate transfiguration rules would catch those, a wise expansive interpretation would catch the worst I can think of (critical mass of fissile material => will generate gas). The Hogwarts House system should force conformity and channel risk-taking into known paths. If failing to attempt homework would lose points, depression and mental illness could be caught early. Would the wizarding world have something of the culture of manners of the Diamond Ages's Victorians, with wards and parlours working as firewalls and time for threat assessment/decontamination?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-27T05:28:17.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This question occurred to me partway through writing the great-grandparent, hence the 'or some other poison' clause. I'd expect naturally unpleasant chemicals to have lower lethal dosage requirements than, say, argon. (Although maybe the mapping involved interacts with molecules such that you'd be better off with mercury. Who knows?)

comment by Alicorn · 2012-02-22T05:29:32.474Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Most fanfics don't lean hard on dangerous!transfiguration...

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-24T16:27:13.335Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see the replies you previously posted to my comment... I may have clicked "report" instead of "context" on accident. If so, I apologize.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-21T21:40:45.506Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a thought: Hogwarts is described as being the only magical school with a zero percent fatality rate, and it's implied that the last time a student died was Myrtle, fifty years ago. Except all students are taught within the first week enough about Transfiguration to know how to kill someone with it. I can believe the murder rate is that low, but what about the suicide rate? Not one teenager in fifty years?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-21T22:08:09.062Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hogwarts is described as being the only magical school with a zero percent fatality rate, and it's implied that the last time a student died was Myrtle, fifty years ago.

These two things are incompatible with each other. Perhaps Hogwarts is lying about the former.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-21T22:34:00.852Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Or, you know, they were talking about averages over the last few decades, not FOREVER.

comment by gwern · 2012-02-21T22:41:35.727Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't make much sense; Myrtle was described as the first fatality in a long time, which is why it was so shocking and nearly closed down Hogwarts completely - the consequence which caused Tom Riddle to back off and seal off the basilisk again. 5 decades is quite long enough for this to be a somewhat bizarrely low rate.

On the other hand, wizards are described as having very long lives on average, which is not very consistent with a high accident or suicide or homicide rate overall, and Hogwarts is a pretty small school, as the estimates go. Add in the claims of extraordinary Wizarding physical resilience (book 1, IIRC), and maybe that's enough to give the very low death rate.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-21T22:55:14.081Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Myrtle was a murder from an unknown assailant who could evade the protective wards of the school, and probably murder at will again -- "there's an uncaught murderer among your children" is a much more scary thing than an accidental fatality of the sort that I assume are still occasionally happening in other magical schools through negligence/etc.

When there's an accidental poisoning because some kid tried to brew an anti-acme potion, parents can just advise their children not to ever try anything as foolish as that -- and they even have the accidental death of the other kid as a warning for such foolishness...

comment by gwern · 2012-02-22T04:02:16.624Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I forget my Chamber of Secrets exactly, but wasn't Hagrid made the scapegoat for a fatal 'accident' and that was how Myrtle's death was explained away publicly?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-22T04:59:41.256Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 49:

Professor Quirell [sic] leaned back, smiling. "This is not a puzzle you can solve on your own, Mr. Potter, so I will reveal the answer. Over the winter holiday, I was alerted to the fact that the Headmaster had filed a request for a closed judicial panel to review the case of one Mr. Rubeus Hagrid, whom you know as the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts, and who was accused of the murder of Abigail Myrtle in 1943."

"Oh, of course," said Harry, "that makes it downright obvious that I'm a Parselmouth. Professor, what the sweet slithering snakes -"

"The other suspect for that murder was Slytherin's Monster, the legendary inhabitant of Slytherin's Chamber of Secrets. Which is why certain sources alerted me to the fact, and why it caught my attention sufficiently that I spent a good deal of bribe money to learn the details of the case. Now in point of fact, Mr. Potter, Mr. Hagrid is innocent. Ridiculously obviously innocent. He is the most blatantly innocent bystander to be convicted by the magical British legal system since Grindelwald's Confunding of Neville Chamberlain was pinned on Amanda Knox. Headmaster Dippet prompted a student puppet to accuse Mr. Hagrid because Dippet needed a scapegoat to take the blame for the death of Miss Myrtle, and our marvelous justice system agreed that this was plausible enough to warrant Mr. Hagrid's expulsion and the snapping of his wand.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-22T09:48:53.410Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, Hagrid had brought the giant-spider Aragog at around the same time -- and it was thought to have accidentally escaped his watch and murdered Myrtle. (so it was accident/criminal negligence on the part of Hagrid, murder on the part of Aragog)

We don't know the exact details in the HPMOR-verse, ofcourse.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-21T22:14:05.816Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ehh... that seems kind of hard to cover up. Myrtle's death caused a panic and nearly resulted in closing the school. Technically, "0% fatality rate" could mean four out of every thousand students die.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-02-21T22:03:41.444Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If I remember right, it's implied that botched Transfiguration is a painful way to go -- it's compared to a severe illness. If its consequences are sufficiently well-known and unpleasant, it could be that it's not attractive as a suicide method.

On the other hand, Transfiguring your brain into aspic or something like that sounds pretty quick and reliable to me. Perhaps that's difficult for technical reasons.

comment by HappilyDeranged · 2012-02-22T03:58:26.766Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Most likely Transfiguring only your brain or a single organ would fall under partial Transfiguration, which presents the obvious challenge.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-22T07:36:31.825Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 15:

If you press your wand to your body and imagine yourself with golden hair, afterward your hair will fall out. If you visualize yourself as someone with clearer skin, you will be taking a long stay at St. Mungo's. And if you Transfigure yourself into an adult bodily form, then, when the Transfiguration wears off, you will die."

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-21T21:54:03.370Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

According to a random Google first-page result, the annual suicide rate amongst teens is about 0.01%. While HPMOR's Hogwarts has a higher population, in canon (Word of God, really) the population was around 100 students per year, which suggests we'd see a teen suicide at Hogwarts about every century.

Rough figures say 20% of teens attempting suicide end up killing themselves; assuming all Hogwarts attempted suicides are successful, you'd still only have one every 20 years. And I'd suspect teens would be less suicidal at Hogwarts, and despite warnings would not try effective things like transfiguration very often.

comment by skepsci · 2012-02-27T08:49:27.015Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Except that students stay at Hogwarts for 7 years, not one, which would put the suicide rate at Hogwarts at one per 14 years, not one per century (if wizards commit suicide at the same rate as muggles). If you assumed that Wizarding suicide attempts were 5 times as likely to be successful, that would put the rate at one suicide every 3 years.

Of course, it's entirely possible that the wizarding resilience to illness and injury also makes them more resilient to mental illness, and that's why suicide rates are lower.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-27T15:44:33.372Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I'm not mistaken, that rate was based on the number of people who live to teenage years and then kill themselves during their teenage years, not the number of teenagers who kill themselves per year.

Of course, it's entirely possible that the wizarding resilience to illness and injury also makes them more resilient to mental illness, and that's why suicide rates are lower.

Interesting idea.

comment by skepsci · 2012-02-27T20:17:49.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, it's an annual rate. You quote it as an annual rate, and it matches the annual rate I found by repeating your search. So you need to multiply by seven to get the rate of people committing suicide during the years they would, if a Hogwarts student, be attending Hogwarts.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-27T20:43:30.900Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm... it looks like you're correct.

Interestingly this site seems to say that the US suicide rate for teenagers is .01%, and the US suicide rate is also .01%. Curioser and curioser.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-23T18:51:32.040Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And I'd suspect teens would be less suicidal at Hogwarts

I don't understand why you think that. Having increasingly comfortable lives hasn't reduced the suicide rate in the developed world (as far as I know), and the Hogwarts school/prison system doesn't seem very different from our own.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-23T20:16:49.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Having increasingly comfortable lives hasn't reduced the suicide rate in the developed world (as far as I know)

Not sure about that one. Though comparing gdp to suicide rate (via Wikipedia) seems to suggest nothing in particular.

As much as humans have the ability to become blase about anything (thus double-witches), I would think having magical powers (or at least access to the cheering charm) would tend to decrease depression and such.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-23T19:04:41.357Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, Magical Britain went through a period of civil war / domestic terrorism in the sixties and seventies intense enough that ten years later, most children have lost one or both parents. One would expect this to have an effect.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-21T22:16:32.461Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, run that one by me again. Assuming 20% of teens attempt suicide, and that in Hogwarts all attempted suicides are successful. Wouldn't that mean a 20% fatality rate, not one every twenty years?

And you know, I just looked up some of the research myself, and I'm wondering where my impression of a high suicide rate came from, exactly.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-21T23:50:50.072Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And you know, I just looked up some of the research myself, and I'm wondering where my impression of a high suicide rate came from, exactly.

From what I've seen, suicide rates for teens are generally higher than for older or younger people.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-21T23:48:26.164Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, run that one by me again. Assuming 20% of teens attempt suicide, and that in Hogwarts all attempted suicides are successful. Wouldn't that mean a 20% fatality rate, not one every twenty years?

Wow, epic fail writing that sentence. Editing. Thanks.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-23T14:01:12.996Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the apparent safety of the place for the past 50 years is due to luck rather then anything inherent in system.

Like, say, magic.

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-09-25T17:36:15.473Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I was just wondering: does anyone else hope Eliezer fleshes out Magical History? I find it a pity that we don't get to see how Magical Britain became what it is now. I mean, so far he's reflected (very broadly) on the current political situation through Draco, but he's continued to keep us in the dark about Voldemort's rise to power, the situation that led to that, the circumstances surrounding the beginning of magic (as a technology, since Harry has confirmed that the rules for spells aren't natural laws), the founding of Hogwarts ...

So, which do you all think are most important for Eliezer to touch upon? Can you think of any others you want to see?

Also: I know that wizards generally ignore muggles, but they are another entire civilization, with documentation of their history, living in secret right next to the Muggle society. Wizarding history could provide a lot of insight into Muggle history because of how the two are so closely related.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T18:40:32.575Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It would be interesting, but it would also be taking on a bigger burden.

Changing the events of Harry Potter starting with the first book, is less drastic than changing the history of the Harry Potter world, which is less drastic than changing the history of the real world.

Saying anything that canon didn't say about wizarding history would be changing wizarding history. Doing that in a way that didn't imply changes in muggle history would be very difficult.

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-09-25T19:31:37.286Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer has already mentioned things like Atlantis. History would probably play a role in finding out how magic works in general. Harry, from a political perspective, would do well to learn how the situation arose, and it may be an opportunity for Eliezer to set up an Aesop.

And it wouldn't necessarily change history. The muggle world as it is in canon is very similar to how it is in the real world, down to things like Playstations, yet Rowling invents a wizarding history that manages to not change much. All of the science Eliezer has mentioned is historically accurate to the year. It's not a stretch to say that the only part about HPMOR that is an alternate universe from canon is wizarding history, because even the existence of a wizarding world in canon didn't manage to change much.

Of course, this would be impossible to discuss in-universe without many-worlds magic. Harry can't find out why the existence of a wizarding world has not changed history if, from his perspective, there was no other "reality" for him to compare it to that he can actually draw evidence from.

However, wizards having their own history means they have their own documentation of that history. This means there are far more primary sources that may have been magically preserved, and muggles could, in the future, use these to learn more about their own history. They might even be able to settle historical debates that have gone on for decades, like what the actual pathogen that devastated Europe during the Black Plague was (since there is significant controversy over whether it was in fact the bubonic plague). Not to mention the existence of things like Pensieves. Magical historians are comparatively spoiled rotten when it comes to primary sources of historical events.

So the implications would be that, instead of changing muggle history, muggles would be more knowledgeable about what actually happened.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-25T19:42:57.249Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Nicolas Flamel was born c. 1330. Why use a primary source when you can have a zeroth source?

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-09-25T19:52:46.869Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

His testimony and memories would still be considered primary sources by historians. I don't think there is such a thing as a zeroth source. And every source has its limitations -- frankly, a shelf full of memories all relating to a specific event (which, canon, is possible) would be better than the memories of only one person, depending upon the subject in question.

But still. The things that man must have seen ...

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-25T22:29:16.841Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

His testimony and memories would still be considered primary sources by historians. I don't think there is such a thing as a zeroth source.

It would seem to only apply to Flamel and then only when considering his past self in the first person rather than the abstract Me_1500 sense.

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-09-27T20:08:05.494Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For things that canon changed about Muggle history, try Wikia:Mistakes in the Harry Potter books. (Most of that is irrelevant continuity errors, but some of that is contradictions with the real world.) Also see remarks about calendars in the HP Lexicon timeline.

comment by prasannak · 2011-12-27T06:14:15.254Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Chp 78 ---

Eliezer, given all the waiting, and that Chp 78 is 17K words, can we have a NY gift of Chp 78 in 3 parts? 5K each spaced about a week apart? That should take us till the third week of Jan :)

From an addict's perspective, drip helps :)

comment by obfuscate · 2012-01-02T19:47:18.496Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Update 12/28: Ch. 79 done at 6,700 words. I think I'll see if I can get this entire arc done before I start posting it - if not, I'll give up and post before too long, but I'm encouraged by how fast Ch. 79 went.

comment by Locke · 2011-12-27T17:28:46.756Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He already tried to subdivide 78, and it didn't work out. But frankly I'd read it even if it cut off midsentence.

comment by prasannak · 2012-01-16T04:02:11.262Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At this stage, I'm ready for mid word :)

Knowing there's one chapter ready makes it even harder to wait...

My suggestion, even if it 'spoils' 78 a bit, is to drop 5K words of 78 at a weeks interval each, that'll sake our thirst better than a big drop 78, a big drop 79 and then long wait...

comment by thakil · 2011-09-09T13:50:49.404Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested in discussing the world Eliezer has created. Its alternate in obvious and subtle ways. Obviously, in this world both Harry and Quirrelmort are rationalists, but lots of other elements have changed.

-Dumbledore seems more changed by war than his book incarnation, to the point where he is making some obviously bad choices that have impacts on the school -The school is a more dangerous place than it was in the books. By this, I mean that in books 1-4, despite some hijinks, the actual danger was pretty darn low- in first year Harry had to actively try to get into mortal danger (ignoring some deeply unsubtle assasination attempts by Quirrel). In particular other students are never a danger to each other, yet theres a strong implication that here fights really can escalate- or at least that was the attempt with the Heromione arc. This is probably due in part to Dumbledore's approach (I don't believe that the 'Dore of the books would have tolerated such an escalation at all), and the beefing up of Slytherin house, and the Malfoy's in particular. While Lucius Malfoy was clearly a powerful individual in the books, his manipulations were fairly clunky, and nowhere near as subtle as portrayed here.

I think I need to have it in my head that many of the characters are subtly different here, because sometimes I read their portrayal as mocking the attitude in the books, and while sometimes that IS whats happening, sometimes its just because the characters aren't quite the same.

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-09-09T17:27:51.131Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

While Lucius Malfoy was clearly a powerful individual in the books, his manipulations were fairly clunky, and nowhere near as subtle as portrayed here.

We assume he's competent because Dumbledore keeps referring to him as competent, but Dumbledore does have a motive to exaggerate his enemy's power. He constantly uses Lucius as an excuse to not do something, and he flat out tells Harry early on that weakening Dumbledore strengthens Malfoy.

But Malfoy is in over his head. Every time we see or hear from him, he's getting something wrong, being ineffectual, or being publicly humiliated. By contrast, he seems pretty darn effective in the books. His scheme in Chamber of Secrets was simple and robust enough to work, and even with Harry repeatedly being in the right place at the right time it still ends with the Weasleys discredited and the Malfoys untouched. (Edit: Sorry, misremembered. He goes after Dumbledore prematurely and loses. Good scheme apart from that, though.)

His main obvious difference from canon is the way he's raised his son.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-09T19:33:52.745Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

even with Harry repeatedly being in the right place at the right time it still ends with the Weasleys discredited and the Malfoys untouched.

Malfoy gets kicked off the board of governors I thought?

comment by gwern · 2011-09-09T20:07:26.192Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I checked and yes:

The house-elf also protected Harry from Lucius's subsequent attack and blasted his former master down a flight of steps. Lucius was dismissed as a Governor for his threats against the other eleven colleagues.

I'd have to read CoS again, but from the sound of it, he wasn't kicked off as a direct result of the scheme but for other things - the threats. If he had been cooler-headed...

comment by rdb · 2011-09-10T07:44:14.133Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In part 7, Michaelos observed that Dumbledore blames himself for Harry being left with his evil stepparents, and wrote the comment on Lily's musing on modifying the (D&D-style) Eagle's Splendor potion in her text book while she slept.

Ch 1. "And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to - the most ridiculous things, and I hated her for it. ... "Anyway," Petunia said, her voice small, "she gave in. She told me it was dangerous, and I said I didn't care any more, and I drank this potion and I was sick for weeks, but when I got better my skin cleared up and I finally filled out and... I was beautiful, people were nice to me," her voice broke, "and after that I couldn't hate my sister any more, especially when I learned what her magic brought her in the end -"

Perhaps, the brighter Lily, child of the enlightenment, growing up in the technological optimism of the 60s had determined to help her sister, and minimize the risks as she understood them. Giving Petunia the potion being a major change in the time line. Dumbledore may have been trying to prevent that.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-11T05:21:39.847Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Hm. Quoted in the linked post is the fact that Dumbledore's suggested revision to the Potion of Eagle's Splendor (the one that would end up making the imbiber sick for weeks, as happened to Petunia) was, specifically, replacing blueberries with Thestral blood. Now where else has that come up recently?

And Harry knew, now, that the concealment of the Cloak was more than the mere transparency of Disillusionment, that the Cloak kept you hidden and not just invisible, as unseeable as were Thestrals to the unknowing. And Harry also knew that it was Thestral blood which painted the symbol of the Deathly Hallows on the inside of the Cloak, binding into the Cloak that portion of Death's power, enabling the Cloak to confront the Dementors on their own level and block them. It had felt like guessing, and yet a certain guess, the knowledge coming to him in the instant of solving the riddle.

Considering that by the time he annotated Lily's book, Dumbledore had certainly had around thirty years to study the Elder Wand (which canonically has a Thestral tail-hair core), and may or may not have already examined the Cloak of Invisibility as well, this certainly seems suggestive of something. I've no idea what, though. ("Charming as death" doesn't seem like much of a compliment.)

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-11T19:37:33.855Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. I don't see Dumbledore in canon being so stupid as to fail to either ward his room against time-travel or recognise that that was how Harry got in.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-11T21:26:22.339Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Come to think of it I can't see MoR!Dumbledore being so stupid as to not recognise it. Not only does MoRdore use timeturners heavily himself and strategically analyze time loops with Snape he has also seen (some of) what MoR!Harry has managed with them previously.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-11T21:37:07.729Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

One does not simply timetravel into MoRdore's office.

comment by MinibearRex · 2011-09-12T02:49:05.163Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I think he'll probably work it out exactly three hours later, when Professor McGonagall shows up outside his door.

comment by Sniffnoy · 2011-09-10T03:56:34.943Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Syntax note: End a line with two spaces to enforce a line break.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-07T17:10:22.254Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer is now recommending specific readings for the "Know everything Harry does!" quest instead of handwaving it with "eh, just study every single thing I wrote after 2005 and you'll be a much bigger threat than Harry."

I've gotta say I appreciate this, all the more because it's probably tedious work.

In short, エリエザー様万歳!

comment by matheist · 2012-02-23T05:18:14.905Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Just reread chapter 40.

"Which is why the Resurrection Stone is not the most valuable magical artifact in the world," said Harry.

"Precisely," said Professor Quirrell, "though I wouldn't say no to a chance to try it." There was a dry, thin smile on his lips; and something colder, more distant, in his eyes. "You spoke to Dumbledore of that as well, I take it."

Sounds to me like Quirrell had never heard of the resurrection stone before this conversation. Later in the chapter, it becomes apparent that he has never heard of the deathly hallows symbol. After Harry shows him the symbol, he excuses himself and cuts short the outing. Perhaps he has seen the stone before and is running off to find it? His ignorance fits with canon, where he uses the Peverell ring (with the stone inset) to make a horcrux.

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-23T07:00:45.612Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

From Chap 26

The key to a puzzle is often something you read twenty years ago in an old scroll, or a peculiar ring you saw on the finger of a man you met only once.

Possibly Voldemort made the Resurrection stone/ring into a Horcrux while killing his 'uncle'.

Later in the same chapter, Quirrell suggests that he's made Bacon's diary into a Horcrux.

"Oh," said Professor Quirrell, "don't worry about a little rough handling. You could toss this diary in a fireplace and it would emerge unscathed. In any case, I await your decision."

In canon, one of the main properties of a Horcrux is that it is indestructible by ordinary means, but since Quirrell has only 'recently acquired' this, it might just be charmed? Or would it be a Horcrux of Quirrell, rather than of Voldemort? Not sure...

[Edit] Original comment was screwed up, I had something in mind, and wrote parts of it here which made little sense

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-24T04:36:37.389Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just because Quirrell says that he recently stole it does not mean it is true. Telling harry that it is stolen property is a good way to make sure he keeps it secret without causing any suspicion about the nature of the book. I think that the diary is a horcrux and another attempt to turn Harry over to his dark side permanently.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-23T21:02:54.379Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't downvote, but I'm curious: what brought up Bacon's diary? You dropped in "or at least Bacon managed to charm it to be nearly indestructible" as though it was mentioned in the parent.

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-24T03:58:23.074Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hehe, now re-reading it, I realize I've muddled things up :) - some parts in my head, some came out into the comment... Fixing it now...

comment by Pringlescan · 2012-02-10T20:51:22.468Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Cross posting what I wrote on TV Tropes

'm pretty sure i've figured out quirrelmorts plan for harry and magical britian. To TLDR it for you guys, hes going to train harry as a caesar, and use harry as a figurehead/puppet to force magical britian into a war of conquest with the rest of the magical world, probably selling it as a world wide war on dark wizards. Then once england owns the wizard world, they own the entire world since you can't fight invisible mind rapers.

Viewed in this context all of his actions start making sense. Harry is a very well known figurehead and a natural leader for magical Britannia to unite behind. Suddenly quirrelmorts speech of uniting magical Brittan under one person (harry) makes sense, once you've imbued all the power into a single leader its a lot easier to effectively run a war, as well as hurting harry's main competition for power. His first step is to go to Hogwarts, the most important place in england. He organizes it so that he can get away with blatantly improving the combat effectiveness of all the Hogwarts students there, developing and show casing the future generals and officers of the later wars. Also because those generals and officers will develop followers, all he has to do is gain influence over those people and he gains all of their followers as well. He also gets to develop his own Caesar, Harry. Hes already said that power in the magic world flows from strong wizards and their followers.

Then he convinces harry to undertake a war against the magical world. He points out that it will impossible to get rid of things such as the power of the noble houses and Azkabhan without taking power. He also points out to harry that if he wants to raise the living standards of the muggle world he will need a united magical world behind him, something that he will be unable to do by peaceful means since he will first need to exterminate all of the dark wizards. With both harry and quirrelmort on the same side with technology they would be able to both curb stomp other countries and administer them effectively.

Then with Harry's participation, he puppet masters a civil war in another country and gets magical England to step in to save the country, and get harry/draco appointed/showcased as wonderful warriors. They then use this power to keep taking over more and more of the real power in england. Then you start administrating the new country as a vassal state, raise more recruits, get a bigger army, rinse and repeat until they own the magical world. Then with the magical world united they own the muggle world since lets face it, you can't fight a foe that can turn invisible and mind rape your leaders.

And of course since england is ruling the world as an empire, and harry is ruling the world as caesar, and quirrelmort has his hooks into harry, quirrelmort now rules the world. Or at least thats what my plan wold be if I were quirrelmort.

Also on rita skeeter, they either memory charmed her into believing everything herself, or imperiused her into doing so, or simply used the polyjuice potion to turn it in themselves. My money would be memory charming her because it would be the most practical reliable way of getting her to believe everything, writing an authentic article and convincing her editor to run it the next day as the headliner.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-11T16:36:47.896Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This seems far too long-term for the purposes of Eliezer's story. The only way a plan of this detail would make MOR better is if we actually got to see it acted out, and I cannot imagine Eliezer not wrapping up the plot before Harry is old enough to rule. He's certainly not going to fast-forward through the majority of Harry's Hogwarts time.

No, I think Quirrelmort's plan is explicitly linked to the Sorcerer's Stone. If he can get Harry to obtain it for him, he's won.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T16:11:24.746Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The parent was the first hypothesis that I formed when I first read that chapter, but it doesn't check out. Putting yourself out of action for ten years and waiting another ~7 for your chosen champion to mature doesn't look like an optimal way of taking over the world.

And then there's the whole Philosopher's Stone plot. Clearly, he's planning to return to power.

Come to think of it, why is the Philosopher's Stone in Hogwarts this year? Dumbledore introduces the Third Floor Corridor in chapter 12, so we know it hadn't been around before.....

Why lay out a bait for Voldemort the year Harry joins Hogwarts? What does DD know?

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-22T06:01:03.686Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

From canon. Because this was the year that Quirrellmort tried to steal it out of the vault at Gringotts. So it needed to be somewhere safer - the only place safer than Gringotts -> Hogwarts.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-22T06:24:39.436Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, Quirrelmort tried to steal it after it was taken away. We were never told why Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort would try to get a hold of it that year.

comment by skepsci · 2012-02-14T11:17:09.686Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also on rita skeeter, they either memory charmed her into believing everything herself, or imperiused her into doing so, or simply used the polyjuice potion to turn it in themselves. My money would be memory charming her because it would be the most practical reliable way of getting her to believe everything, writing an authentic article and convincing her editor to run it the next day as the headliner.

My most plausible hypothesis is that their plan for fooling Rita Skeeter is some incredibly clever black box that Eliezer hasn't bothered to fill in, even for himself, because it's simply not that important to the plot to waste time coming up with something suitably clever they might have done. Any attempt to figure out what they did would then be wasted, since the author can't be dropping clues to an answer he doesn't even know.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T16:01:36.451Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If that turns out to be true, I shall be very disappointed in Eliezer.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-02-22T03:58:43.818Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I know what they did and it shall be revealed.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-22T06:20:55.437Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I know what they did and it shall be revealed.

Keikaku doori.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-27T10:37:21.361Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

(TL note: keikaku means plan)

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-27T12:59:10.312Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

So. It has come to this.

comment by Rhwawn · 2012-02-27T19:49:04.740Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

http://xkcd.com/1022/ for those not up on their XKCD.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-27T13:54:14.565Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It can't be herped.

comment by skepsci · 2012-02-27T08:24:01.248Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-22T12:27:58.151Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My most plausible hypothesis is that their plan for fooling Rita Skeeter is some incredibly clever black box that Eliezer hasn't bothered to fill in, even for himself, because it's simply not that important to the plot to waste time coming up with something suitably clever they might have done.

To be honest that passage didn't strike me as strong enough to warrant inventing a fake black box. It's the sort of thing that is only worth putting in there because you've thought of a clever way to do it but just coming out with it directly feels slow story wise and it is better to give folks a chance to guess.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2012-03-05T19:32:40.456Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think its worse than that for Harry.

Remember that one possible means of Voldemort's resurrection is possessing someone, like he is now (presumably) possessing Quirrel. I think he ultimately plans to turn Harry into a perfect host for himself, and then jump into Harry's body once the latter has conquered the world for him.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-14T02:24:22.534Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One would think that magical journalists would have some countermeasures to that sort of thing worked out. All of the papers would read like the Quibbler if you could hang around outside the newspaper offices disillusioned and memory charming people.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-05T05:32:13.430Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

And as long as we're trying to find magical exploits, I wonder what Harry would do if he got his hands on some Felix Felicis.

For instance, if he locked himself in a room with only a weegie board (or scrabble tiles), would it be forced to spell out whatever information he needed to know? Would it only answer his direct questions, or could it just start warning him about all of Quirrell and Dumbledore and Lucius' plans and how to beat them?

comment by Alicorn · 2012-02-05T05:42:26.350Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

weegie board

Ouija.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-05T06:11:38.332Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Dammit, English Language, stop fucking with us.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-05T06:19:51.356Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

English?

Kennard claimed he learned the name "Ouija" from using the board and that it was an ancient Egyptian word meaning "good luck." When Fuld took over production of the boards, he popularized the more widely accepted etymology, that the name came from a combination of the French and German words for "yes".

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2012-02-11T05:51:16.424Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I got the impression that Felix Felicis had extraordinary or possibly perfect knowledge of the current state of the world and the drinker's utility function, was thus able to calculate the best course of action over the period of time the drinker would be under its influence for, and hijacked the drinker's System 1 (and possibly motor control) until it was out of xyr system.

If it DOES hijack the user's motor control, which there is SOME evidence for, then it probably would work with a Ouija board (but scrabble tiles come in specific, limited sets-- might not work right), but then what does it mean that Harry didn't use one in canon when his goal was to find out about the horcruxes? If it were that easy, the potion should have made canon Harry use something similar to find the number of horcruxes and their locations, and probably the curses on them, too.

So I think it doesn't do that. And I don't know how much good it could do him in a locked room with a Ouija board if it can't do that. I think the best thing there is to shout "Hey, Hermione, the experiment's a failure! Let me out!"

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-15T20:57:19.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed; one wonders why Harry didn't accidentally break a horcrux that day, or why there weren't more enemy casualties in the Battle of the Astronomy Tower.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2012-02-16T02:16:56.120Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Harry accidentally breaking a horcrux would have been so phenomenally difficult... AND, the FF had to time everything right to happen to meet Slughorn AND happen to brush against Ginny at just the right time, and then he spent the whole time after that at Hagrid's. The nearest horcrux was in the Room of Requirement; the nearest horcrux-destroyer was in Dumbledore's office. And which is more valuable, one horcrux or knowing how many there are?

comment by EphemeralNight · 2011-09-09T18:51:40.646Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I've already posted this in the reviews as well as on TvTropes, but I figure it can't hurt to share it here as well. (As well as pose it somewhat more formally.)

Harry's freak-out in the beginning over the animagus transformation got me thinking. Between the two possiblities: a) the laws of physics Harry believes are wrong and b) the animagus transformation only appears to violate Conservation but doesn't actually do so, it seems fallacious to skip to possibility-a without ruling out possibility-b.

After some thought, I was able to generate a hypothesis for how Variable-Mass Shapeshifting Between Multiple Fixed 3-Dimensional Structures might work without violating Conservation; I don't know enough about physics to guess if it is plausible--One of the clues I'm basing this guess on was that Harry did not in any way remark upon the existence of containers that are bigger on the inside than on the outside, and the inference that magic can create space and that this does not violate any law of physics that Harry knows of.

The two or more 3-dimensional forms with differing mass all exist simultaneously in an unchanging 4-dimensional superstructure. The form that is perceivable in our 3-dimensional universe is whatever cross-section of the superstructure happens to intersect our 3-dimensional grid, and "changing form" involves only unidirectional motion along the inferred extrauniversal axis.

VMSFF = Variable-Mass Shapeshifter with Fixed Forms

Possible Evidence for:

  • VMSFFs rarely have more than one alternate form. (Magic has to create space for each alternate form on the 4th spacial dimension. No indication that additional space does not require additional energy to maintain.)
  • VMSFFs transform quickly. (Same reasoning as above: there is as little intermediate matter as possible.)
  • VMSFFs demonstrate similar cognition regardless of form. (Suggests both brains are present and active at all times.)

Possible Evidence against:

  • Dementor effect is less in animal form. (Suggests that either both brains are not equally present, or that Dementor Effect is constrained to 3-dimensional space.)
  • Animal urges change with the form. (Suggests that both brains are not equally active. Weak evidence, as bleed-over of urges between forms is observed.)
  • Injuries in one form translate to the other(s). (Suggest the two forms are not separate parts of a larger entity.)

Tests:

  • How is an animagus form destroyed? (Is it closer to Amputation or Obliviation?)
  • Does wearing heavy clothes vs. nudity affect the amount of energy necessary to transform? (Does the difference in energy match the inertia of the clothes?)
  • What does the change feel like to the animagus? (Is it sensationless as switching from one set of sensory imputs to another would suggest, or is it sensable as having sensory imputs within changing matter would suggest?)
  • In the case of the Wolves in Luminosity, is the mass of consumed food greater than the mass of the Wolf's human body plus waste? (If so, does the cumulative difference match the mass of the Wolf upon first Floof? For animagi, does the magical energy expended to create the alternate form in the first place match that needed for the transfigured-creation of a similar mass?)
  • Is being an animagus a permanent drain on one's power?

In any case, I've been thinking about it for a while and a 4-dimensional superstructure is the only way I can imagine it working. Alternate Hypotheses anyone?

comment by gwern · 2011-09-09T20:10:56.510Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  • Is being an animagus a permanent drain on one's power?

Evidence for: the most powerful wizards we know of never have Animagus forms (Grindelwald, Dumbledore, Voldemort, the Founders of Hogwarts, Merlin) that are mentioned.

Evidence against: Harry's parents & co. regarded Animagus as something so desirable that they were willing to break a strong government law and work hard to figure out how to turn themselves into Animagi. No such penalty seems to ever be mentioned.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-09T22:11:36.551Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Evidence for: the most powerful wizards we know of never have Animagus forms (Grindelwald, Dumbledore, Voldemort, the Founders of Hogwarts, Merlin) that are mentioned.

Voldemort is an unregistered animagus in MoR canon.

comment by gwern · 2011-09-09T23:06:19.969Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You mean Quirrel? Quirrel no longer seeks power directly through battle magic, and the more I think on him actually the more he seems like a wildcard blowing up all sorts of theories.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-09T23:12:30.809Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Tom Riddle, who became Voldemort, is the one who added to his list of rules

Become an animagus.

comment by EphemeralNight · 2011-09-09T20:44:43.548Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It could easily be a very small drain. Harry goes around with that transfigured rock on his finger which is implied to be a not-insignificant constant drain on his magic, yet does not seem to be a noticable detriment to his spellcasting.

Another Test: A persons magic is often likened to a muscle; it gets stronger with use. If the "muscle" could be measured directly would its average strength be higher among Animagi? (Actually testing that would be impossible; there simply aren't enough animagi in the world to get meaningful statistics, but if there were...)

Edit for "Duh" moment. If destroying someone's animagus form is non-invasive, does the former animagus suddenly have slightly more magical power than before their form's destruction?

comment by major · 2011-09-10T08:37:41.243Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Distinct Animagus form. Swap and teleoperate.

comment by smk · 2012-03-08T21:17:37.611Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Are time-turners really not turing computable? Is Harry ever going to figure out what allows magic to (seem to?) break the laws of physics? Is "we're living in a simulation" eliminated as a possibility?

comment by Locke · 2012-03-11T15:47:05.976Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He could be living in a simulation in a universe which has time-travel.

comment by skepsci · 2012-02-15T10:01:01.514Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A hypothesis I'm currently toying with: Quirrell and HJPEV are different versions of the same individual, in some sense, and the Quirrell version is using some form of magic (probably involving breaking the 6-hour-limit on sending information backwards through time, possibly involving possession of a real Quirrell) to carry out a process of recursive self-improvement on himself. The story we're currently reading takes place in one iteration of the loop.

Has anyone posted this idea before on the net?

There are some serious problems with this hypothesis:

  • Quirrell and HJPEV appear to have very different utility functions.
  • Performing recursive self-improvement starting with a human hardly seems like the kind of thing Eliezer would advocate, considering the likelihood of ending up with an unfriendly superintelligence.

So it's probably wrong, but I thought it was interesting enough to post.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2012-03-05T00:55:09.888Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My theory is that when Voldie shot baby Harry, he copied one of his horcruxes into Harry, overwriting Harry's original soul/mind. HJPEV is what Voldie/Quirrel might have been like if raised under different circumstances.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-16T02:39:47.316Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell is definitely Voldemort, or rather Voldemort and Quirrell are alternate identities of Tom Riddle.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-15T21:09:31.227Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Performing recursive self-improvement starting with a human hardly seems like the kind of thing Eliezer would advocate

Fortunately, Eliezer has repeatedly pointed out that Harry isn't Eliezer and has different ideas/priorities.

Quirrell and HJPEV appear to have very different utility functions.

Quirrell seems to be trying to fix that too; sounds like a feature, not a bug.

Has anyone posted this idea before on the net?

There have been numerous time travel / "Quirrell is Harry" theories before. Given the relationship between MoR and other fanfic, I'd be surprised if there was never a Peggy Sue or other non-time-turner time travel. Insane Weasley brothers notwithstanding.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-16T17:26:53.351Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The story we're currently reading takes place in one iteration of the loop.

I don't think this fits the style. Much in the same vein as Stross's "Palimpsest" (and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure for that matter), the reader/viewer always sees only the final iteration, because that's what the subjective experience would be to someone experiencing this. So if this is the case, we're reading the last iteration (see both the initial time-turner prank and the attempted use of the time-turner to factor in polynomial time).

That being said, it's my pet theory that Harry goes dark and does something horrible in the future, and sends himself way back to try to stop all that, and we're reading the final iteration of that. And that future Harry is Mr Hat-and-Cloak. But that's just me, and this isn't well supported.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-02-11T12:20:16.898Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry if this has been asked before, my meagre google-fu skills fail to reveal it.

Chapter 55. When Harry cast his Patronus in Azkaban, he lost some of his "life" to sustain it:

Slowly the light died back down.

Part of Harry's life flowed back into him.

Part had been lost as radiation.

[...]

So Harry walked on, leaving a piece of himself behind. It would dwell in this place and time forever, he knew. Even after Harry came back someday with a company of other True Patronus casters and they destroyed all the Dementors here. Even if he melted the triangular building and burned the island low enough that the sea would wash over it, leaving no trace that such a place as this had ever once existed. Even then he wouldn't get it back.

If you taboo "life", what exactly did Harry lose there and why should he never be able to regain it? It seems unlikely that MoR of all things subscribes to the idea of living things having a life force in some vitalist or spiritualist sense...

Also, will this have any effect on anything in the story? Did Harry permanently weaken his own magical potential or something of that sort?

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-13T21:32:28.833Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I also view this as poetic language, not a literal loss of some substance, but a major change in the person that is called Harry. If enough change makes you a different person, than any major change can be seen as the fractional death of the previous person you were. Value drift is a pretty common subject around here.

Harry has just been inside an active concentration camp for hours. I hear that many allied soldiers were massively altered when they first came upon & liberated the Nazi concentration camps. It's even possible that something similar to this was written by returning soldiers in memoirs. I think poetic language is to be expected when processing this sort of trauma.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-11T16:23:10.867Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It means Harry will never be able to truly forget or move past that horrible day. A part of him will always be there, just as a part of Dumbledore will always be in the black room. I am reminded of Barney's "second that would last forever" from HIMYM.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-02-11T17:15:03.170Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure something more literal was meant. The way the story is written, it sounded like Harry was in danger of dying from exhaustion, expending... something, to fuel his Patronus. And expending irrecoverably, it is stressed, so it's not like he just did the equivalent of a life-or-death sprint which made him really tired.

comment by FAWS · 2012-02-11T21:06:13.316Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see no indication that the thing permanently sacrificed was the same thing fueling the Patronus. I think the Patronus burns "life" in the sense of one of the things Dementors also suck out, but that can be regenerated by resting (it was implied that the prisoners in Askaban would partially recover magic and something else if the Dementors didn't keep sucking it out when the true Patronus gave Bella a weeks worth of such regeneration back), and it seems unlikely that such a loss to Patronus radiation would be more permanent than loss to Dementors.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-11T18:39:16.689Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmmm, I see what you mean. "For it wasn't his magic he had expended, it had never been his magic that fueled the Patronus Charm."

I don't think that using the Patronus 2.0 permanently sacrifices anything though. After all, he's perfectly fine after killing the Dementor at Hogwarts, a situation in which none of his "life flowed back into him."

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-12T21:56:30.725Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you sure? I read it as referring back to that scene specifically. The exact quote:

Harry felt... well, normal again. Sane-ish. The spell hadn't undone the day and its damage, hadn't made the injuries as if they had never been, but his hurts had been... bandaged, meliorated? It was hard to describe.

Dumbledore was also looking healthier, though not fully restored. The old wizard's head turned for a moment, locked eyes with Professor Quirrell, then looked back to Harry. "Harry," Dumbledore said, "are you about to collapse in exhaustion and possibly die?"

"No, strangely enough," Harry said. "That took something out of me, but a lot less than I thought it would." Or maybe it gave something back, as well as taking... "Honestly, I expected my body to be hitting the ground with a thud about now."

(Bold emphasis mine.)

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-15T21:04:57.325Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking the Patronus was fueled by HP (TVTropes warning). From the whole "magic makes you tired" effect, I had thought something like "life force" was a reasonable assumption.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-04T03:37:34.353Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is it possible to get Dementors to play poker with you by strongly expecting that behaviour?

comment by Locke · 2012-02-04T06:23:03.825Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think the circular logic might make them implode, rendering Patronus 2.0 unnecessary.

"I expect the Dementors to play poker with me because I expect the Dementors to play poker with me because I expect..."

But if you were weak-minded enough (or strong-minded enough?) to trick yourself into genuinely believing that would work, I suppose it would. But in that case, what exactly is the limit of their power? Can you expect a Dementor to turn into an all-powerful friendly AI?

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-05T03:25:46.258Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But in that case, what exactly is the limit of their power? Can you expect a Dementor to turn into an all-powerful friendly AI?

Looks like Eliezer found himself another plot bunny.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2012-02-05T01:24:20.602Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It should be possible to test whether or not the mental gymnastics are even possible by getting rationalists to make homeopathy work by believing in it. Then again, it might be harder to expect that a cloaked monster that eats happiness will play poker than to believe that pills packaged just like normal pills will cause symptom relief when you're sick. So you might need to get someone who didn't know about dementors and tell them that they play poker. Be sure to tell it with a straight face. In a textbook might work best.

As Locke says, the question is how much they're capable of doing just because you expect it. Can they break the laws of physics? That sounds like an awesome thing to test.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-05T03:24:10.260Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

getting rationalists to make homeopathy work by believing in it

Uh... homeopathy doesn't require you to believe in it . That's not how the placebo effect works.

So you might need to get someone who didn't know about dementors and tell them that they play poker. Be sure to tell it with a straight face. In a textbook might work best.

If there's a magical way to plant false memories, you don't need to put in nearly that much work.

ETA: There were Memory Charms in Rowling's version.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-05T03:52:49.532Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is in this one, too.

"The courts use Veritaserum, but it's a joke really, you just Obliviate yourself before you testify and then claim the other person was Memory-Charmed with a false memory. If you've got a Pensieve, and we do, you can even get the memory back afterward. Now, ordinarily the courts presume in favor of Obliviation having occurred rather than more complicated Memory Charms. [...]"

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2012-02-05T22:59:57.723Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point.

comment by Nick_Roy · 2011-10-04T21:32:55.580Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Something I just noticed from Ch. 55:

Amelia Bones: "Someone would burn for this."

Did Amelia Bones burn Narcissa Malfoy?

comment by TuviaDulin · 2011-10-11T20:01:08.622Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, I just had a chilling realization in regards to that. From chapter 62:

'"No," said the old wizard's voice. "I do not think so. The Death Eaters learned, toward the end of the war, not to attack the Order's families. And if Voldemort is now acting without his former companions, he still knows that it is I who make the decisions for now, and he knows that I would give him nothing for any threat to your family. I have taught him that I do not give in to blackmail, and so he will not try."

Harry turned back then, and saw a coldness on the old wizard's face to match the shift in his voice, Dumbledore's blue eyes grown hard as steel behind the glasses, it didn't match the person but it matched the formal black robes.'

I strongly suspect that Dumbledore burned Narcissa Malfoy so that the death eaters would stop targeting the families of Order members. Judging by his tone of voice and body language in this excerpt, this is probably the one action during the war that Dumbledore most regrets having had to do.

If I'm right, Harry will be in a difficult moral situation when he learns the truth. Was what Dumbledore did justified? On the one hand, torturing a mostly innocent person to death is deplorable no matter how you slice it. On the other, if that was the only way to stop many other innocents from being tortured to death...

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-10-12T20:46:52.711Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Another thought which occurred, is that Amelia Bones killed Narcissa in revenge for the Death Eater's killing of her family members, then Dumbledore claimed responsibility in order to send a message to the Death Eater's and Malfoy to discourage further attacks on the Order's families, and prevent Lucius from finding any evidence of Amelia's responsibility, which might have allowed him to remove one of Dumbledore's more powerful allies. He probably would have had to have been careful to give the impression that he would be willing to do so 'again' to the other Death Eaters if he wanted them to stop, though, unless Lucius cares a lot more about his allies than shown so far, or at least made some threat against Draco, who Lucius seems to care about.

EDIT: I was wondering how killing Lucius' wife would provide leverage over the other Death Eaters when I realised something rather obvious in retrospect, Dumbledore is the Headmaster of Hogwarts. He already has plenty of leverage, doesn't he? If need be he can hold all the school age children of Death Eaters and their allies hostage, or expell them, denying them good education and potentially giving them a bad reputation. If the parents withdrew the children and sent them abroad though, they could grow up without the knowledge of local politics provided by a hogwarts education (including personal knowledge of everyone important in your age group, which in such a small society, not-having would likely be a big disadvantage.)

comment by TuviaDulin · 2011-10-15T03:56:02.468Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, good point. Using someone else's moral lapses to his advantage without getting his own hands dirty would be very much in character for MoR Dumbledore.

Either way, I suspect that Harry and Draco's attempt to uncover the truth, and Harry having to consider Dumbledore's position at the time, will be a major story arc at some point.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-10-15T20:23:22.846Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd imagine that the Death Eater's own activities would be brought into the lime-light as well, if it were a major arc.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2011-10-16T17:46:09.414Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, especially considering that Harry already started to do this (when he made Draco admit that the death of Lily Potter was "sad"). When Draco learns that his father burned several other innocent women to death before Dumbledore/Bones returned the favor, he and Harry will both find themselves in difficult moral situations.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-17T02:17:36.962Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How so? (Hint: in Harry's opinion, the moral response to burning several innocent women to death does not involve burning more innocent women to death.) In this case, the only difficulty on Harry's part would be explaining to Susan why he annihilated her aunt.

Edit: Okay, I've read over the thread again and I honestly have no idea what the downvote is for. Please explain?

Edit: Clarified in whose opinion that was the case.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-10-17T03:42:58.994Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(Hint: the moral response to burning several innocent women to death does not involve burning more innocent women to death.)

Depends, it may very well make sense from a TDT/UDT point of view.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-17T03:53:40.205Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Really, that's what people are objecting to? For goodness' sake, I'm not a deontologist or anything, I'm just referring to what was described as "condition three":

"Condition three is that Narcissa has to have been burned alive. If that part of the story turns out to be something exaggerated just to make it sound a little worse, then I get to decide for myself whether or not to still go through with the pledge. Good people sometimes have to kill. But they don't ever torture people to death. It's because Narcissa was burned alive that I know whoever did that was evil."

It wouldn't be a difficult moral situation on Harry's part because he specifically thought of this exact circumstance in advance.

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-11-13T21:30:18.062Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Until he finds a person who he would describe as good but had legitimate reasons to torture someone? The situation would be contrived, but it's still possible.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-10-17T20:40:07.064Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can't remember whether it was Dumbledore specifically who was named in that pledge, making it invalid if someone else did it (technically, at least, Draco would probably consider it a betrayal if Harry found out who did it but didn't help him get revenge) but if Amelia did it, then Hermione could be dragged into the situation as well, as a friend of Susan's, and we could have a fascinating obligation tug-of-war for Harry.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-17T21:40:12.651Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Condition two is that I'm pledging to take as an enemy whoever actually did kill Narcissa, as determined to the honest best of my ability as a rationalist. Whether that's Dumbledore, or someone else. ...

... Condition five is that if whoever killed Narcissa was tricked somehow into doing it, then my enemy is whoever tricked them, not the person who was tricked."

And yes, I think it would be somewhat difficult on Harry's part to explain himself to the people who care about the person who did it; but in this case, Hermione of all people would probably understand why Harry took as his enemy someone who - again - burned an innocent woman to death. I don't think that's the kind of thing Hermione would be willing to let slide just because the person is a friend's aunt.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-10-23T14:58:37.661Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, very well then. Thank you for clearing that up.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-10-17T04:46:29.431Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It wouldn't be a difficult moral situation on Harry's part because he specifically thought of this exact circumstance in advance.

This may indicate that Harry has not through the relevant issues enough to appreciate this sort of moral dilemma. That said, this is a good demonstration of a possible failure mode of TDT/UDT-like approaches where they might end up leading to something that looks like cycles of revenge which they have precommitted themselves to.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-17T05:18:09.036Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry has not [thought] through the relevant issues enough

Of course he hasn't, condition three up there is based firmly (or as firmly as anything can be based in such shifting sands) in some kind of fuzzy instinctual deontology. Harry isn't perfect.

In formulating this, I realized what my mistake likely was, and edited the original comment.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-11T20:32:00.847Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The timing seems to line up - the period of seventeen months between Draco's birth and the Dark Lord's defeat works well as "toward the end of the war," and Draco never speaks of his mother as though he had any direct memory of her - except...

The problem is that Draco's description of the sequence of events doesn't seem to leave room for the Dark Lord still being corporeal at the time.

And Father couldn't testify under Veritaserum because he was an Occlumens, he couldn't even get Dumbledore put on trial, Father's own allies didn't believe him after Dumbledore just denied everything in public, but we know, the Death Eaters know, Father wouldn't have any reason to lie about that, Father would want us to take revenge on the right person ...

That doesn't really sound like it happened in a state of open war, does it?

So if it happened shortly after the end of the war, it probably isn't what Dumbledore is referring to there.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-10-11T21:07:53.602Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't really sound like it happened in a state of open war, does it?

No. But it doesn't have to. If we stipulate instead that Dumbledore was untouchable during the actual war for practical reasons (say, being one of the most powerful wizards alive and the de-facto commander of an opposing force, hence well protected), Lucius is left with excellent reasons to go after him through legal channels after the war's over. Neither side seems to have been operating with the full blessing of the legal government, and terror tactics resulting in the deaths of innocents are exactly the kind of thing that a Ministry-run truth and reconciliation commission should be interested in.

It probably wouldn't have started out that way, but your wife's murder isn't the kind of thing you just forget after a ceasefire gets signed. Given Draco's age, the later, legal stages of the feud would be what he'd remember, and thus what he'd convey to Harry.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-11T21:27:25.045Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To me, it's more like... if this happened while Voldemort was hanging around, why would anyone, even the Death Eaters, have to take Lucius' word for anything? Sure, he can't take Veritaserum cause he's an Occlumens, but even if the Dark Mark can't compel truthfulness there's still the issue of uber-magic forensic techniques.

And it's important to note that it's not "a ceasefire gets signed", but rather 'Lucius barely squeaks out of a life sentence through copious bribery'. It seems like one way or another Lucius had to wait quite some time after war's end to level these wild charges at Dumbledore, as doing so from the defendant's stand would seem a rather pathetic attempt at misdirection. In other words, I highly doubt that "a Ministry-run truth and reconciliation commission" was involved at any stage of the process.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T01:55:43.201Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The theory I've been going with for a long time is that Dumbledore killed Narcissa accidentally while disposing of Tom Riddle's diary - he thought the house was empty and used Fiendfyre - and then later rationalized her death for the reasons you gave above.

comment by TobyBartels · 2012-03-15T13:53:35.292Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's been previous discussion about that here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/2nm/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2pc3

It's an obvious flaw in Harry's promise, not to check that the killing was deliberate.

comment by thomblake · 2012-03-15T15:43:57.184Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Aha - and here I'd misremembered that I came up with that on my own.

comment by TobyBartels · 2012-03-15T16:20:06.421Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh yeah, that was you! Well, I've done that.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2012-03-05T19:05:34.925Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting theory. Though one wonders why Dumbledore didn't just grab the diary and bring it to a safe location before destroying it.

Maybe there was some kind of alarm that would have instantly summoned Lucius if it was taken out of the house? Then again, if you had an alarm system, you'd think someone casting the most destructive spell known to the modern world inside your house would also trip it...

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-10-17T17:55:50.753Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Harry only promised that if he found out who did it he would take them as his enemy. Bad things don't happen to Harry's enemies, weird things happen to Harry's enemies. I don't think Harry will have any moral qualms about making weird things happen to Dumbledore.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2011-10-18T16:23:28.613Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

We've never actually seen Harry deal with a real, deadly enemy before. When he pledges to take someone as his enemy, in the formal way he did when Malfoy told him about Narcissa, I think what he's talking about goes beyond the level of schoolyard bullies and annoying reporters.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-09-09T22:32:49.310Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone else wonder why Sirus hasn't shown up in this story yet? I get the whole

Peter Pettigrew x Sirus Black = tragedy lovers keeps them from being central to the story up to this point

But is it still an accepted fact in MoR verse that Pettigrew is innocent?

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-11T20:08:38.922Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have Sirius down as an outsider for Hat-and-Cloak.

comment by MinibearRex · 2011-09-12T02:36:55.996Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sirius didn't seem to me to be quite intelligent enough for that. Harry makes a comment about Pettigrew being substantially smarter than Black. Additionally, there was this line:

"You are the clever one," said the voice, and the black mist evaporated away, no longer obscuring; she saw the face beneath, and recognition sent a jolt of terrified adrenaline bursting through her -

Mr. Hat and Cloak is apparently someone Hermione is familiar enough with to recognize at a quick glance.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-12T04:52:15.686Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It's easily possible that Hermione has seen at least one picture of Sirius (she mentions him by name as the Potters' betrayer in Chapter 8), and given her memory it would be plausible for her to recognize him, even months afterward. Additionally, Sirius is one of the few people who would cause an immediate reaction of terror at first sight.

Another one might be - bear with me here - Lucius Malfoy. This idea is a little shakier, as it's less plausible that Hermione is familiar with his appearance, but the advantage is that it neatly accounts for the otherwise-strange

The black mist darkened and lightened, like a shake of the head. "I am frightened of Harry Potter," it whispered. "Of the coldness in his eyes, of the darkness that grows behind them. Harry Potter is a killer, and anyone who is an obstacle to him will die. Even you, Hermione Granger, if you dare truly oppose him, the darkness behind his eyes will reach out and destroy you. This I know."

since Lucius seems to be convinced Harry is possessed by Voldemort. (Though it casts a certain odd light on Mr H&C's warning to Hermione about Lucius, I think it's at least possible that he could bite his tongue enough to say "though you are Muggleborn, you possess a power of wizardry greater than any pureblood" if he considered it just a flattering lie.)

The obvious antipathy toward Dumbledore and knowledge of Snape serve equally well as evidence for Lucius or somehow-evaded-going-to-Azkaban!Sirius. Interestingly, they also work for Pettigrew, who Lupin tells us "adored secrets," but who presents the issue of Hermione almost certainly not recognizing or being terrified of him.

Of course, the only reason to entertain such out-there possibilities is how weirdly clumsy and out-of-character this latest act would be for Quirrel. Mr H&C's first appearance (in Chapter 35) is really obviously Quirrel, if for no other reason than

Chapter 35: Mr. Hat and Cloak gave a whispery chuckle. "Indeed," said the whisper. "With the murder of one student five decades ago being the exception that proves the rule, since Salazar Slytherin would have keyed his monster into the ancient wards at a higher level than the Headmaster himself."

Chapter 49 (Quirrel): "First, I believe the Chamber of Secrets is real, as is Slytherin's Monster. Miss Myrtle's death was not discovered until hours after her demise, even though the wards should have alerted the Headmaster instantly. Therefore her murder was performed either by Headmaster Dippet, which is unlikely, or by some entity which Salazar Slytherin keyed into his wards at a higher level than the Headmaster himself."

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-12T20:46:26.297Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is that. But it's just occurred to me: if the person attacking Hermione is not Snape, then what's Snape been doing to make him late and quite exhausted in Chapter 77?

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-12T22:38:07.984Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Well, what do we actually know about the sequence of events? Assuming that things are presented in chronological order seems a bit premature, especially in this fic. More specifically, of the Aftermaths last chapter we know that

  • Dumbledore+Harry began at 6pm (with an addendum at 9),

  • Quirrel+Snape was precisely at sunset,

  • Draco+Bulstrode was at some unknown time in the afternoon or evening,

  • Draco+Goyle was some unknown time after that, and

  • Hermione+Mr H&C was also unknown, but either before or after Draco+Bulstrode (since Millicent was present at the meeting Hermione was coming from.)

As far as I know, we are given no indication at all when Interlude with the Confessor happens. It could be immediately after Snape gets back from the meeting with Quirrel, it could be immediately after Hermione is mindraped, it could be the next day for all we know.

But even assuming the Aftermaths are in chronological order, and the Interlude does immediately follow on to the last Aftermath... Snape could have been, say, checking on the third-floor corridor to make sure Quirrel wasn't bluffing about having stolen and replaced the Stone. In fact, I would expect him to have done this anyway, whether or not he then put on a Hat and Cloak and serial-Obliviated a twelve year old girl. (Eugh.)

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-13T15:29:19.104Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's all true. And on re-reading, I'm going to go back to my original thought of Quirrel, with the emotional involvement being faked to keep Hermione's interest. Quirrel did, after all, speak up for her when all others were silent.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-13T16:08:38.225Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There's certainly evidence pointing that way: "the sibilant whisper" - "dry as dust" - "the high-pitched chuckle" , "What's your name?" "That is the riddle, young Ravenclaw" , and indeed "for now you have seen how the others stayed silent"...

But while I could easily believe that Jeremy Jaffe is better at projecting false emotion than Hermione is at discerning it, I have a much harder time believing that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, whose eyes blazed crimson like miniature suns, could forget the value of surface appearances.

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-14T11:45:30.646Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe he's not forgetting, just trying to double-bluff Hermione by appearing suspicious.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-27T19:23:08.778Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

We haven't seen anything of Madam Pince in MOR, have we? You'd think Harry would make a point to talk to the magical librarian. Come to think of it, she might be Hat and Cloak. Although not if H&C = Santa Clause.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-04T02:59:51.627Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You'd think Harry would make a point to talk to the magical librarian.

Something is wrong here.

comment by Locke · 2012-03-04T05:39:42.595Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It could just be that Eliezer didn't think of it.

If not (WMG-Mode engage!), then perhaps he spoke to her the first time he went to the library and was for some reason memory-charmed, possibly because he deduced some sort of secret of hers.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-04T14:09:33.399Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's a simpler explanation that I hadn't thought of before: Dealing with adults isn't a course of action that occurs to Harry. (Remember the "why didn't I think of that" when he thought of telling McGonagall about the Sorting Hat charm?)

In other words, it's very in-character for Harry. Yay to Eliezer for consistent character development.

Now, the real WMG: Voldemort was this way as well. (Notice that in the King's Cross discussion, it's Harry saying "I prefer to deal with the part of House Malfoy that's my age" that really freaks Lucius out.)

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-03-05T03:02:49.225Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the reason that that statement freaked him out is because Lucious was talking to harry as if he was possessed by Voldemort in an attempt to see if that was the case, and he interpreted the remark about age as a confirmation. It makes sense if you look at the statement as a deception because Ms. Longbottom walked up. I'm paraphrasing the first part:

I wont tell Ms. Longbottom to leave because "I prefer to deal with the part of House Malfoy that's my age" =>

I would like to tell Ms. Longbottom to leave because I prefer to deal with the part of House Malfoy that's my age(but I wont because I want to keep up appearances).

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-05T07:33:39.326Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That reading seems far-fetched.

Let's go over the conversation....

Part I: Lucius accosts Harry and speaks to him as if he were Voldemort. Harry pretends to be Voldemort (without meaning to). Lucius maintains his calm.

Part II: Harry goes "you think I could benefit from doing Draco harm. But it is irrelevant, Lucius. He is my friend, and I do not betray my friends." Lucius goes 'what the fucking FUCK?'

Part III: Longbottom arrives, Lucius asks Harry to send her away, Harry spouts the "my age" comment, and Lucius goes, "I do feel the fool now. This whole time you were just pretending to have no idea what we were talking about."

Judging by part 3, Lucius wasn't fooled by Harry's act in part 1, but kept playing along just to make sure. Harry says enough incriminating stuff in part 1, but that doesn't convince Lucius... Clearly, he realises that that's what anyone trying to gain information would say. Since he's convinced in part 3, though, he must have had a relatively low prior on anyone except Voldemort saying what Harry did... But why? Why? What's so special about that one off-hand comment?

<retracted, see Locke's reply> Then again, if he wasn't convinced in part 1... Why was he shocked in part 2? I can imagine him being shocked at Voldemort saying something like that, but why would he be shocked at Harry Potter saying it?

.... Something's not right about this whole thing.

comment by Locke · 2012-03-05T15:37:28.059Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If he was indeed a 2nd-level player, he would have pretended to be shocked as a part of his 0th-level act. Then he somehow comes to the conclusion that Harry is 3rd-level.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-05T17:00:29.924Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course... he was still keeping up the act... he even went "lol Longbottom's now working for Voldy" a little while later. It never occurred to me that the shock could be fake.

In other words, everything makes perfect sense assuming that "I prefer to deal with the part of House Malfoy that's my age" has some hidden significance that associates it with Voldemort.

As to what that significance could be...

comment by Locke · 2012-03-05T17:13:16.454Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort is actually hundreds of years old and prefers to communicate with Malfoy's ancestor, Helga Hufflepuff's ghost?

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-03-06T01:59:34.673Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I still think he takes it as a confirmation that Voldemort is possessing Harry. Voldemort is much closer in age to Lucius then Draco. Voldemort playing strange games with your son is much more concerning then the boy who lived playing strange games with your son. Also consider Lucius's parting statement: "And as you have asked nothing more of me, I will ask nothing more of you."

Why would the boy who lived ask anything of Lucius? Voldemort certainly would.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-06T02:23:16.364Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I still think he takes it as a confirmation that Voldemort is possessing Harry.

No shit, Sherlock.

The question is "why?"

comment by Rhwawn · 2012-02-27T19:45:03.751Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We haven't. If you Google 'pince site:http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/', you'll see she is mentioned exactly once, in the context of Harry being allowed restricted books on Occlumency.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-20T04:46:03.345Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Next Omake: The Rationalist's Guide to the Galaxy.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T12:20:56.488Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Oh, the little fiddly things?" said Dumbledore. "They came with the Headmaster's office and I have absolutely no idea what most of them do. Although this dial with the eight hands counts the number of, let's call them sneezes, by left-handed witches within the borders of France, you would not believe how much work it took to nail that down."

Chapter 17.

I know it's supposed to be a joke, but.... How? Is Dumbledore monitoring every wizard and witch's sex life? And how did he manage to crunch that data? Do wizards have calculating machines?

Or maybe he meant to say "the documentation took a lot of work to find and decipher"?

ETA: If it was Rowling writing this, the 'device with the golden wibblers' mentioned in the very next sentence would become a major plot point later in the series.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-21T16:20:20.147Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Eh, it was probably a given from the start that it was counting something.

Then immediately after the French Ministry of Magic authorizes/legalizes a new "Give yourself multiple orgasms" charm, or even just a new magical Viagra, the device's count jumps up. At that point Dumbledore knows it's counting something that correlates strongly with sexual satisfaction, but the count is a bit too low to be counting the orgasms of the entire French female magical population. Turns out the inventor was a jealous French wizard who tried to keep tabs on his left-handed wife, but keyed in the criteria too weakly, so that any left-handed witch within the borders of France would do.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-19T15:50:54.909Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I find it more likely that he tinkered with the object itself, if that's even true.

I wonder if Quirrell could have managed to get a fiddly thing of his own invention into the headmaster's office before Dumbledore took over for Dipot. Perhaps as a gift to the old headmaster. It'd be an incredibly useful source of knowledge, if Wizards do in fact have magical listening devices.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T16:17:59.269Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You'd expect the Headmaster's office to be laced with anti-eavesdropping charms.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-19T17:39:19.133Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How would that work, exactly? Would the Sorting Hat be unable to hear anything said in there? I should think not. And whatever doesn't work on the sorting hat probably wouldn't work on the instruments. Or what about all the portraits? There's some definite spying potential in the slytherin headmasters.

comment by gwern · 2012-02-19T20:50:16.910Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly. A recording device doesn't have to be actively broadcasting every thing; it could be just that Quirrel gets updates any time he is summoned to the headmaster's office. Untimely intel is better than no intel.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-20T13:14:37.707Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You'd expect the Headmaster's office to be laced with anti-eavesdropping charms.

Although when the Headmaster is Dumbledore who can control such things without aids with less than a flick of the finger or someone with the cunning to want to be selectively overheard the expectation is not quite so clear.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-20T14:15:11.639Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Although when the Headmaster is Dumbledore who can control such things without aids with less than a flick of the finger or someone with the canny to want to be selectively overheard the expectation is not quite so clear.

..... what

What are you trying to say? Looks like a 'damn you autocorrect' moment to me... ('canny' isn't a noun, for instance)

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-20T14:36:18.720Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Eek. Somehow I changed from 'cunning' to 'savvy' mid-word!

comment by gwern · 2012-02-19T20:49:09.533Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From context, I got the strong impression that the gadgets came with the office and Dumbledore is speaking about the work of deciphering what each one is measuring. If he was creating that device, why would he speak of the 8 hands as one of 'them', the 'they' that 'came with the Headmaster's office', most of which he has not figured out - except this one which records X...

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-20T02:18:51.570Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Um.... No, he didn't create them. It says right in the quote that they came with the office.

Question is.... How did he figure that one out? 'Number of orgasms by left-handed witches in France'; that isn't the kind of data you'd find written down somewhere.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-12-05T02:15:30.169Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not in 1993, anyway. You could probably find data to that effect today.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2012-03-05T19:18:03.573Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if this is a reference to the movie "Amelie," with her seemingly supernatural ability to correctly guess how many orgasms are taking place in Paris at any given moment.

comment by SpaceFrank · 2012-02-28T05:10:59.879Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Considering the ridiculous context of the rest of the conversation, (i.e. Dumbledore either pretending to be insane or actually letting some real insanity slip through) is it too far outside the realm of possibility for that comment to be a joke? It seemed like Dumbledore was going out of his way to screw with Harry in this chapter. Even if the machine actually does what he said it does, I could easily see the comment about "how much work it took to nail that down" being a joke Dumbledore told for his own amusement, knowing that Harry was too young to "get it".

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-28T07:49:49.394Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"how much work it took to nail that down"

Now I get it!

...(Yuck.)

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-28T13:16:34.756Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

rofl

Hadn't caught that before.

comment by moritz · 2012-02-21T15:57:51.671Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are certainly some analytical charms that give you some sort of idea how magical objects work. For example where Harry offers Dumbledore and Quirrel some Comed Tea, they both analyze it before drinking.

The complexity of such analytics probably scales withe complexity of the magical object that is being analyzed, so finding out about the dial was probably immensely difficult, but not by collecting and correlating data, but by inspecting the device rather closely.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-23T21:11:54.257Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not that I disagree, precisely, but I'm not sure you can use the Comed-Tea thing as evidence that it's possible to analyze how magical objects work: Quirrell and Dumbledore both seemed taken by surprise by the actual effect, after all. The charm(s) they used seem more likely to be poison/biologically-interactive-potion detectors.

Or maybe they both decided to fake being caught off guard. That seems like Dumbledore's style, anyway.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-03T14:20:51.017Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell and Dumbledore both seemed taken by surprise by the actual effect, after all.

So was Draco, who had been told the effect; unlike Harry, he probably didn’t doubt that the thing worked, he probably just thought that it’d be lame.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-18T20:35:30.929Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Something I've been trying to puzzle out for the past day, and failing. From Chapter 39, as Harry is talking to Dumbledore:

"The obvious test to see if the Resurrection Stone is really calling back the dead, or just projecting an image from the user's mind, is to ask a question whose answer you don't know, but the dead person would, and that can be definitely verified in this world. For example, call back -"

Then Harry paused, because this time he'd managed to think it through one step ahead of his tongue, fast enough to not say the first name and test that had sprung to mind.

Who was the first name (and test) that had sprung to Harry's mind? The quick rejection implies it would be something that would make Dumbledore think he is evil, or reveal to Dumbledore that Harry has some information that Harry doesn't want Dumbledore to know he has, or emotionally wound Dumbledore. And yet the shade would also have knowledge that no one alive would know, but the dead person would, and could be tested in the real world.

Things that have recently happened and might be on the tip of Harry's mind: Harry had a mysterious confrontation with Lucius Malfoy on platform 9.75, has met Neville's grandmother, and has discussed with Dumbledore what mischief Quirrell could unleash if he tricked the Headmaster into letting a Dementor onto the school grounds. They've also discussed immortality and afterlives (with some focus on Harry's parents).

Any guesses? I have a couple, but they seem quite weak to me.

comment by BrazenWord · 2012-02-28T12:18:21.590Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

HPEV was likely thinking of Merlin, but a much simpler test would be to call back Pierre de Fermat.

Granted, there wouldn't be a solid "no" if the remarkable proof were faulty, and perhaps you would be better off having a mathematical novice do the summoning just to be certain.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-06T02:27:18.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Since people don't seem to be noticing matheist's answer, I'm copy-pasting it here:

He talks to Quirrell later about not making the obvious suggestion in front of Dumbledore, and goes on to say:

"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." (Ch. 40)

comment by TuviaDulin · 2012-03-05T19:22:31.576Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort. He'd summon Voldemort's ghost and make it tell him the spells it learned from Salazar's basilisk.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-03-06T02:26:20.609Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

... Why are people still splitting hairs over it? It was answered a few chapters later.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-03-05T20:57:15.989Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

At this point in the story Harry didn't know about the basilisk yet.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-05T19:59:19.569Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And that was when Harry realized that there was exactly one person who'd originally told Professor McGonagall that the Dark Lord was still alive in the first place; and it was the crazy Headmaster of their madhouse of a school, who thought the world ran on cliches.

happens after

Then Harry paused, because this time he'd managed to think it through one step ahead of his tongue, fast enough to not say the first name and test that had sprung to mind.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-18T22:57:53.880Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I assumed he immediately thought of Dumbledore's family members. As to what he'd ask them, nothing comes to mind.

Alternatively, Harry may have been refraining from using the thing he would actually do with the Stone as an example. For instance, asking the founders of Hogwarts for lost magic secrets or seeing if Merlin knew anything about Atlantis.

comment by matheist · 2012-02-18T23:54:09.712Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

He talks to Quirrell later about not making the obvious suggestion in front of Dumbledore, and goes on to say:

"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." (Ch. 40)

comment by pengvado · 2012-03-07T00:41:43.380Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why is "summon Merlin" dangerous to suggest to someone who falsely believes in an afterlife? And if it is dangerous to suggest, why is it safe to actually do as a test?

comment by matheist · 2012-02-18T23:01:06.263Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He could ask Salazar Slytherin where the chamber of secrets was, perhaps.

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-19T07:50:54.064Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Obviously Voldemort - to figure out what really happened that night.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-20T07:04:36.235Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My first thought was either Voldemort or his parents, but there is no way to verify what they say, so it could easily be a projection of the summoner's own interpretation and doesn't work as a test.

comment by Locke · 2012-01-21T15:14:20.558Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Status update, Jan 19 2012: Now working on Ch. 81. I think I'd really better finish at least Ch. 81 before posting Ch. 78, due to the number of backward edits I've been making, and the extent to which they form a dramatic unity that should be posted regularly/predictably after the first chapter hits."

Well, it's nice that we didn't need to ask for a progress update. About how long might 81 turn out to be?

comment by prasannak · 2012-01-22T05:31:27.499Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Answered today..

  • Today's HPMOR words written: 3,800.
  • Latest chapter with a complete draft: Ch. 81.
  • Hours past bedtime stayed up before even starting to go to sleep: 1.5.

Now we wait till the whole arc is done and dusted...

I like this form of update :)

comment by Locke · 2012-01-22T16:16:20.942Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The more I realize taking his time will make the story even better, the more I want to read the story right now. I do hope this arc isn't as enormous as SA.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T05:57:31.268Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Who here is a little creeped out by Snape agreeing to kiss her in the latest chapter?

comment by shminux · 2011-12-22T18:48:05.316Z · score: 14 (18 votes) · LW · GW

If you are creeped out, you are probably taking it out of context.

Sure, if you describe it as "he molested a minor and made her forget about it", it sounds quite creepy. But if you think of it as a lonely, inexperienced and deeply troubled boy thanking a girl fawning over him for her help in a tricky situation the best way he can, then maybe you will see that the difference in physical age does not automatically translate in this case into any kind of a power difference.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-12-23T09:03:54.461Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Who here is a little creeped out by Snape agreeing to kiss her in the latest chapter?

Not even remotely. It's a shame they couldn't do more.

There is a good reason to have laws that prohibit this kind of liaison - the potential for abuse is enormous. But this isn't a case that the rules are necessary for.

comment by sboo · 2012-01-21T01:36:57.502Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

not me. there was consent and the capacity for consent, so the kiss was wistful at worst.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2011-12-25T03:53:37.334Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. She is in 7th year which makes her probably 18 years old. That makes it less creepy, but being in 7th year also means that Snape is still being abusive towards her and her class mates. There is no amount of context that can remove the creep from a middle age teacher kissing a student he as been abusing for the last 7 years.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-03T12:50:37.040Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

She's in Slytherin. I think Snape doesn't significantly abuse Slytherin students.

comment by LauralH · 2013-01-31T22:58:47.149Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was a little creeped, but more because she would be forgetting it rather than because of consent issues. She was the one asking him, after all. And as a character moment, it was huge - his first kiss! The rope of his love for Lily is shredding all the more! Will anything keep him as an agent of the Light?

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-10-04T01:20:42.708Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

J.K. Rowling is releasing some character bios on Pottermore, and showing a flagrant disregard for MoR!canon. In particular, McGonagall's father was a Muggle Presbyterian minister. Even though, in MoR:

Minerva stared at Severus, feeling sick to her stomach. She had studied Muggle religion - it was the most common reason for needing to Memory-Charm the parents of Muggleborns - and she knew enough to understand what Severus had just said.

Furthermore, per the bio McGonagall was ten years old and still living in the Muggle world when atomic bombs were dropped, so she'd probably know about nuclear war.

Obviously this sort of collision is inevitable, and since it's a full-blown AU there's no obligation to fix it. In this case, though, it might be possible to enhance the text with some minor retcons. In chapter 61, maybe when Severus mentions prayer, Minerva remembers her childhood and thinks "they had offered prayers, every dinner and every Sunday at church, for the brave soldiers at the front. It had seemed impossible to her, at that age, for any remotely humanlike being to even consider not answering them."

Then later in the same chapter, when Dumbledore alludes to nukes:

"What?" said Minerva. She had heard of guns, of course, but they weren't that dangerous to an experienced witch -

Maybe then Minerva thinks back, and remembers that nobody would explain to her exactly why Japan surrendered, as though what had happened was something even more terrible than a war...

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-10-04T01:58:36.221Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I think Eliezer shouldn't fuss too much making the MoR! universe consistent with any new information, especially not chapters already posted. Too much cost in time, too little benefit.

And a half-blood McGonnagal would need be drastically rewritten, it's not just those few passages, it's her entire attitude towards the Muggle world.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2011-10-11T20:03:45.873Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, this.

Methods of Rationality already contradicts Harry Potter canon on several counts, and we're all okay with that. Why bother changing this one thing?

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-04T01:49:44.917Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that Minerva serves a useful narrative purpose primarily because she is a not-particularly-well-informed pureblood in Dumbledore's inner circle. Making her a half-blood alongside Snape... well, it reduces the opportunities for culture shock rather a lot. Who could be brought in to showcase the viewpoint of Light-sided purebloods, the Weasleys?

Not to mention I feel like Minerva would be a lot less sympathetic as a character if she weren't so consistently off-balance.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-10-04T01:26:22.788Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is great. I really like this idea. The only worry I have is that as Rowling keeps releasing more and more stuff as part of her bid to stay relevant and continue to make oodles of money, this will lead to a temptation to make more and more convoluted changes to HPMR.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T01:53:16.440Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Word of God is not canon, and indeed is often trumped by fanon.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-21T15:40:51.579Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

comment by Vaniver · 2011-09-27T01:41:26.261Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For whatever reason, I didn't make this connection until now.

Prediction about Quidditch and the House Cup:

Dhveery znavchyngrf Enirapynj naq Fylgureva gb fpber whfg gur evtug ahzore bs cbvagf va gur svany tnzr gb znxr gur Ubhfr Phc n gvr. Guvf vf znqr cbffvoyr ol gur tnzr raqvat ng n cerqrsvarq gvzr.

Caveat:

Gur Ubhfr Phc vf njneqrq ng gur raq bs gur fpubby lrne, juvpu vf cebonoyl abg vzzrqvngryl nsgre gur ynfg Dhvqqvgpu tnzr. Nf jryy, vs Fylgureva naq Enirapynj unir hardhny fpberf orsber tbvat vagb gur tnzr, boivbhfyl n gvr vf gur jebat erfhyg.

comment by HonoreDB · 2011-09-27T21:36:11.953Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'd been assuming that they'd abuse the existing rules--Ravenclaw and Slytherin would agree not to catch the Snitch until both teams have racked up an obscene amount of points, and then they'd deliberately engineer a tie. This would both force a rule change and allow both to win the Cup.

But you've pointed out a potential problem: the tie can be broken by any professor. All McGonagall has to do, once she realizes what's going on, is promise to break the tie in favor of one side, and the other side will have no choice but to defect. Quirrel's bound by his promise not to award house points unfairly, but maybe he could blackmail Snape into promising to maintain the tie.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T01:48:33.476Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrel's bound by his promise

Only as far as anyone sees. Quirrell is not Harry and is not opposed to lying.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T17:03:09.282Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I tried putting the HTML for MoR on an eReader, and the paragraph breaks disappeared, making the story seem like the hectic ravings of a madman on speed.

Some of the paragraph breaks are rendered by the Kobo eReader as paragraph breaks. But looking at the HTML, I can't figure out what the rule is. Does anyone know?

(P.S. - Do not buy a Kobo eReader.)

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T17:52:07.844Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I tried replacing every

with

^M^M

(a blank line between paragraphs), but that didn't work.

comment by rdb · 2011-09-26T07:58:19.509Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why not use the epub or mobipocket versions, depending what the Kobo supports? Calibre reads both, the mobipocket is fine on my iRex and I have an epub version on my phone.

http://ikeran.org/rationality.epub http://ikeran.org/rationality.mobi

(mentioned on http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2269863/Less_Wrong ) Android, iPhone/iPad app links there too.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-22T23:09:12.548Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I had been assuming that the third-floor corridor was just a way to keep young Gryffindors distracted. Surely even Dumbledore wouldn't be daft enough to entice the Dark Lord into a school. But Quirrell seems to think it's of interest. Confusing...

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-09-25T18:35:12.077Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That brings up another point. In the Philosopher's Stone, Dumbledore enchants Erised so that only those who want to find the stone, but not use it, would be able to have it. If Dumbledore did in fact hide the stone in Hogwarts, I can't see either Harry or Quirrell not wanting to use the stone.

Is it even possible for Dumbledore to hide anything in such a way that Harry can get at it, but Quirrell cannot? Harry's major ideal difference -- his war against death -- isn't even understood by Dumbledore. Not to mention that such a hiding place would have been constructed before Dumbledore even met Harry.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-27T20:20:40.409Z · score: 50 (50 votes) · LW · GW

Random, low-confidence but possibly amusing prediction: in MoR the final obstacle of the third-floor corridor is called the Mirror of Vec, because it's inscribed Noiti lovde talopart xet nere hocru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.

It's much more thematic, at least.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2015-02-23T21:02:28.329Z · score: 31 (33 votes) · LW · GW

Great idea! I should do that.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-23T21:55:26.221Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

... Have you had this sitting in a bookmark for four years so you could give him credit?

I'm not sure whether to be impressed or squee at the adorables. Probably both.

comment by Transfuturist · 2015-02-23T21:44:15.512Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You are utterly psychotic.

comment by Brickman · 2011-09-27T02:55:34.284Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think you hit on a key point that several are missing--Dumbledore wouldn't want HJEPV to have the stone any more than Quirrell (well, maybe a little more, but certainly less than nobody having it or even than handing it off to, say, some random Hufflepuff). In canon Harry didn't just not want to use it, he didn't want it used--that was his entire motivation for getting it. Rational Harry would, probably quite literally given enough time to think on the situation, kill to use it, and use it repeatedly. And Dumbledore knows this.

Canon Harry was, in fact, a person Dumbledore would be willing to loan the stone to if necessary. Rational Harry is not. The mirror actually represents a pretty effective screening process for who does and doesn't fall in that category, especially combined with what in theory should have been a screening test to ensure you were a capable enough wizard to protect it and/or had the approval of several people he trusted in a more general capacity. In fact now that I say that, it suddenly seems plausible that the mirror wasn't in any way tied to how it was hidden, and instead was just the trigger used for retrieving it. In which case, actually, a sufficiently powerful wizard with sufficient time could probably deconstruct the spell and take it by force, simply because no lock is perfect, which is why it still needed to be guarded in the first place and why stopping Quirrell was necessary.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-27T03:15:13.155Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Loophole: Harry doesn't want to use the stone, he wants to reverse engineer it, and mass produce more. So he can easily commit to not using the stone.

comment by Brickman · 2011-09-27T12:30:51.375Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is, Dumbledore's not going to tell Harry what the condition is for getting the stone. Why would he? He didn't tell canon Quirrell, who was standing there trying to figure out why he couldn't get it. He didn't even tell canon Harry until after the fact. The mirror as a screening process works even better if the person being screened doesn't know what it's testing for, and thus can't fake it.

And Harry would want to use the stone, make no mistake. The first thing he'd do with it is make himself immortal, to make sure no accident or fluke could stop him from having time to mass produce the immortality elixir. And he'd be using it for study anyways. But the most important part is that even if he is capable of precommitting and one-boxing, and even if that kind of trick fools the mirror, he'd first need to know that that was the condition necessary to obtain the stone. And you can probably count the number of people Dumbledore trusts with that information on one hand.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-09T23:34:50.226Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But the most important part is that even if he is capable of precommitting and one-boxing, and even if that kind of trick fools the mirror, he'd first need to know that that was the condition necessary to obtain the stone.

Given the author, Harry could also be told after getting the stone that he could only get it if he would not use it, and therefore he would not use it. And he's already been cautioned against magical paradoxes.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-27T12:47:33.732Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok. Valid point. But after trying at a few minutes Harry might be able to understand Dumbledore enough to realize what the trick is. On the other hand, that might take far more empathy for the viewpoints of others than Harry generally has.

comment by moridinamael · 2011-09-27T20:13:54.214Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This begs the question, if Harry figure out the secret of the mirror, would he be able to construct an Occlumency proxy personality who didn't want the stone?

Of course there is no answer to this question except "Whatever the author decides."

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-09-28T03:36:45.751Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with Occlumency proxy personalities is that you have to be very careful, otherwise you're subject to Amnesiac Dissonance. The smarter the proxy personality, the worse a problem this is.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-25T18:49:54.524Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, why did Harry even want the stone? He could have just left it in there.

I'm pretty sure HJPEV could precommit to not using the stone himself, in order to use it on others.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-09-25T18:55:09.217Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds like a reasonably good prediction about the way that plot path would go. It sounds at least partially analogous to one-boxing, and we know the author one-boxes.

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-09-27T19:18:07.051Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, why did Harry even want the stone? He could have just left it in there.

Indeed! I've always imagined the only explanation as sheer carelessness; MoR!Harry would have left it. (Ironically, since taking the stone goaded canon!Quirrelmort into touching Harry and thereby being destroyed, it was actually good that canon!Harry took the stone; but MorR!Harry doesn't know that this would happen, at least not yet.)

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-27T21:27:04.678Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(Ironically, since taking the stone goaded canon!Quirrelmort into touching Harry and thereby being destroyed, it was actually good that canon!Harry took the stone; but MorR!Harry doesn't know that this would happen, at least not yet.)

In the books Harry's success is essential due to the fact that every time Voldemort tries to kill him Harry is magically protected by something unforeseen. Voldemort isn't clever enough to just kill him by non-magical means.

In MoR I imagine that Harry won't have such convenient protections.

comment by see · 2011-10-18T03:22:37.838Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort isn't clever enough to just kill him by non-magical means.

Well, you know how it would actually play out, given Canon!Voldemort

"Okay, my wand didn't work against Harry, and a borrowed wand didn't work against Harry. What I need to do is get the ultimate wand!"

"Master, it may be impertinent of me, but why don't we just get you an AK-47 and let you shoot him? Or maybe a grenade launcher or something?"

"But then I won't have defeated him with magic! My magic must be the mightiest!"

"Um, wait, if you need the boost of the ultimate wand, isn't that already proof your magic on its own—"

"Avada kedavra! All right, anyone else have helpful suggestions?"

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-09-25T20:00:34.850Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure HJPEV could precommit to not using the stone himself, in order to use it on others.

I don't think that would be enough. In canon, Quirrel wanted the stone to use on Voldemort, not on himself, and he couldn't get it.The only way to get the stone in canon would be to want to have it to keep someone else from having it. HJPEV would want to use it on other people, therefore he can't get it. Unless he could get an exception for wanting to give it to someone else, who would then be able to use it.

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-09-25T20:05:34.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, but how would he know to do so? Harry didn't know about that rule in canon. He wouldn't have the impulse to not use the stone on himself unless he knew that wanting to do so would prevent him from getting it.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-09-27T19:23:30.664Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Harry's major ideal difference -- his war against death -- isn't even understood by Dumbledore.

Which means that Dumbledore probably wouldn't enchant it in such a way that Harry could get it.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-09-25T20:20:59.198Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The Weasley twins at one point mention taking the corridor all the way to the magic mirror and back, although they presumably didn't escape detection while doing so. If that's possible, I'd say it's unlikely that a guy like Quirrell would have found it impossible to defeat himself or (if he was concerned about detection) to leverage some student adventurer into defeating.

The safe bet seems to be that it's a red herring.

comment by orielwen · 2011-09-16T08:54:53.252Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

April now, is it? Then the next thing that's going to happen is that everyone except Harry goes home for Easter (Easter Sunday was 19 April in 1992, and they'll probably take most of the holiday before it rather than after it since it's so late that year) and Harry's parents come to visit him. That should be interesting. I hope he's told them he's not allowed to leave Hogwarts.

comment by Alex_Altair · 2011-09-18T21:35:56.598Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't think it was possible for muggles to enter Hogwarts. Isn't it invisible to them?

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-09-19T13:34:20.170Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Typically, yes, even Hogsmeade is invisible to them. But I'm sure that there are ways to invite specific individuals (although I can't recall that it was ever done in the books).

comment by Xachariah · 2011-09-18T04:00:38.911Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, there was no Easter/Spring break mentioned, merely Christmas and Summer. It's a shame, because the interaction between Harry and his parents while his parents visit Hogwarts would be amazing. I can't wait for summer vacation to come.

Edit: Apparently I stand corrected. Good to know.

comment by Jadagul · 2011-09-18T21:00:48.958Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It's mentioned, just not dwelled on. It's mentioned once in passing in each of the first two books:

Sorceror's Stone:

They piled so much homework on them that the Easter holidays weren't nearly as much fun as the Christmas ones.

Chamber of Secrets:

The second years were given something new to think about during the Easter holidays.

And so on. It's just that I don't think anything interesting ever happens during them.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2011-09-12T19:11:34.097Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that I found interesting but that I haven't noticed anyone else mention.

In chapter 76, we have:

But, as Hermione had explained to Millicent, prophesying wasn't controllable, there was no way to ask for a prophecy about anything in particular. Instead (the books had said) there was a sort of pressure that built up in Time, when some huge event was trying to happen, or stop itself from happening. And seers were like weak points that let out the pressure, when the right listener was nearby. So prophecies were only about big, important things, because only that generated enough pressure; and you almost never got more than one seer saying the same thing, because afterward the pressure was gone. And, as Hermione had further explained to Millicent, the seers themselves didn't remember their prophecies, because the message wasn't for them. And the messages would come out in riddles, and only someone who heard the prophecy in the seer's original voice would hear all the meaning that was in the riddle. There was no possible way that Millicent could just give out a prophecy any time she wanted, about school bullies, and then remember it, and if she had it would've come out as 'the skeleton is the key' and not 'Susan Bones has to be there'.

But in chapter 63, we have:

Final Aftermath:

She came awake with a gasp of horror, a disruption of her breathing that left her feeling deprived of air and yet her lungs didn't move, she woke up with an unvoiced scream on her lips and no words, no words came forth, for she could not understand what she had seen, she could not understand what she had seen, it was too large for her to encompass and still taking shape, she could not put words to that formless shape and so she could not discharge it, could not discharge it and become innocent and unknowing once more.

"What time is it?" she whispered.

Her golden jeweled alarm clock, the beautiful and magical and expensive alarm clock that the Headmaster had given her as a gift upon her employment at Hogwarts, whispered back, "Around two in the morning. Go back to sleep."

Her sheets were soaked in sweat, her nightclothes soaked in sweat, she took her wand from beside the pillow and cleaned herself up before she tried to go back to sleep, she tried to go back to sleep and eventually succeeded.

Sybill Trelawney went back to sleep.

This aftermath was widely considered to have been Trelawney giving a prophesy. However, as we just found out (assuming that the information Harry and Hermione gathered is accurate) that prophesies aren't given, the pressure doesn't get released, unless the right person is nearby. However, Trelawney appeared to be alone in that aftermath. This opens a number of different options.

  • The information from the books is wrong.
  • Trelawney was not as alone as she appeared.
  • The speculated recording spells count as being the right nearby listener. Interestingly, this could mean that Dumbledore isn't the right listener, if others also have recording or listening spells around Trelawney.
  • Trelawney wasn't actually giving a prophesy. The first time I read it, I thought that she "couldn't discharge it," and then it did discharge but didn't realize, because she could never remember her prophesies. But with this new information, that suggests to me that perhaps all of the pressure was building and building, but it was unable to vent itself at that time because the right person wasn't there. If this prophesy is similar to the one in canon, then that means it won't express itself until she's near Harry Potter.

Does anyone else see anything that I missed?

comment by moridinamael · 2011-09-12T19:28:21.493Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

During Hermione's description, my brain immediately pointed out that no one could possibly know whether or not Seers can give prophesies with no one around to hear them, because the Seers don't remember doing it and, well, there's no one else around to notice.

Maybe Seers are just constantly prophesying when they're alone and no one has any idea.

comment by Xachariah · 2011-09-15T06:14:57.190Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Confirmation Bias exists for wizards just as well as muggles.

Nobody remembers the three other children destined to defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and that's to be expected for someone who dies so young with no notable achievements to their name. But Harry Potter? Why, once the Dark Lord is defeated and the story gets out, everyone will know he was prophesied to win for sure!

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-14T19:39:42.967Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

They could possibly know, if they were to, say, keep recording devices on a large population of known seers, but from what we've seen so far I don't think I would credit the wizarding world in general with that much rigor.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-14T20:03:59.710Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that would really settle the matter, though. All you would then know is whether seers prophesied when only in the presence of recording devices. (If a seer prophesied in the forest and no one was there to hear, would it constrain the future?) I wonder what you would call that, actually- the Cassandra Uncertainty Principle?

comment by [deleted] · 2011-09-13T07:38:05.951Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  • The information from the books is wrong.

The official explanation for prophecy was presented alongside a character who exploits other people's belief in destiny in order to mislead them. It appeared in a chapter called "Surface Appearances". It might not be safe to take it at face value.

I think there were already (extratextual) reasons to doubt that Eliezer would implement prophecy that way, but there's another one.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-14T00:23:22.405Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

(This sort of goes along with all the other responses to the grandparent, but Donny's is the best fit):

I'm having a hard time believing that the girl who said this-

Instead (the books had said) there was a sort of pressure that built up in Time, when some huge event was trying to happen, or stop itself from happening. And seers were like weak points that let out the pressure, when the right listener was nearby. So prophecies were only about big, important things, because only that generated enough pressure; and you almost never got more than one seer saying the same thing, because afterward the pressure was gone.

Is the same girl who said this-

Hermione turned back to face Dumbledore again, took a deep breath, and said, "Well, maybe people who are going to be heroes, will be heroes no matter what. But I don't see how anyone could really know that, aside from just saying it afterward. And when I told you that I wanted to be a hero, you weren't very encouraging."

Okay, say that prophecies are caused by 'pressure in Time' from great events that are 'trying' to happen. How could anyone know that? What's worse, though, is that she did this research with Harry, who apparently let her walk away believing this nonsense.

Edit: (And if Eliezer pops in to say the Department of Mysteries has a room full of Temporal Barometers I will be very unhappy.)

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-14T06:19:41.576Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Even if the explanation given for the observations is wrong, it wouldn't change the observations, that prophesies only ever seem to be about big important things, don't occur on demand, and don't get delivered by multiple seers or by the same seer more than once. Whether Hermione believes the explanation or not (she'd certainly be wise to be skeptical of it) doesn't affect whether she has enough information to dispense with the hypothesis that Millicent is a seer.

The fact that she related the contents of some books to Daphne and Millicent doesn't necessarily mean she bought their contents wholecloth, it could have just been the simplest way to make a point. She might have believed it; remember that Hermione much more than Harry is used to taking things she reads at face value, and compartmentalization is normal, but I wouldn't take it as established.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-14T21:33:22.650Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am able to distinguish between observations and inferences, and I certainly never argued that Millicent (or, rather, her sister/Miss Felthorne) was actually a seer. The problem was that Hermione seemed not to distinguish between them, even in a mental aside. Heck, even Draco only took one conversation with Harry before he figured out the difference between demonstrable facts and non-demonstrable explanations for those facts.

Of course, the more I think about it the less unlikely it seems. The whole 'pressure in Time' business rather offended my sensibilities at first, but... well, they certainly don't treat fragile Time-Turners as though they were irreplaceable artifacts of lost Atlantis, which rather implies they can make more, which rather implies (though certainly does not prove, given the example of Transfiguration) that they have some idea what they're talking about when it comes to the theory.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T00:46:17.142Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think it also sort of implies that Eliezer has a coherent metaphysics going on behind the scenes. The decision theoretic generalization of anthropic selection, reifcation of good story selection effects like conservation of detail or whatchamacallit from tvtropes, things like that. I heard that he once wrote a story about time machines? Or at least one about "outcome pumps". I wouldn't be surprised if he reuses his cleverest ideas from there in HP:MoR.

One question about theology, miracles, and Newcomblike problems that intrigues me:

If I was in a Harry Potter fanfic I would probably find out within 3 hours and then spend the next two weeks reading about common plot twists of Harry Potter fanfiction, knowing that my breaking the fourth wall so explicitly was either happening behind the scenes or I was in the fanfic of a very meta-cognizant author.

But what if that's a bad idea? The author has a model of me in his head, and if he knows that I'm the type of person who does that then he might change the story to make my metaness futile (because the only reason you'd write a story like that is to include irony of some kind), or less saliently he might just decide not to write the story in the first place. So should I not allow myself to think certain thoughts about what characteristics the author of the farce is likely to have, because doing that is like asking to be made the subject of an ironic twist?

Unfortunately IRL I'm in a Will_Newsome story where the hidden rules are significantly harder to think about.

comment by Nominull · 2011-09-16T00:55:53.540Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You won't think of it. You just won't discover you're in a fanfic! The laws of physics are running on an author, and that author doesn't want you to discover you're in a fanfic. I expect you will have trouble thinking thoughts physics itself does not want you to think.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-16T09:08:15.545Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That depends on the author. If an author is good enough, and have an accurate enough model to realize he would in the first place, and still chose to base the character of a real person, then hopefully they author cares enough about accuracy to not do hamfisted overrides like that.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-15T00:59:23.606Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If I was in a Harry Potter fanfic I would probably find out within 3 hours and then spend the next two weeks reading about common plot twists of Harry Potter fanfiction,

In fanfic for almost any universe (whether Harry Potter, Star Trek or whatever) fanfiction devoted to that universe doesn't exist for obvious reasons. So this seems unlikely. Moreover, even if one had almost any fanfic that did have the fictional version of the universe inside that universe also (almost all of which is deliberately silly things like Barry Trotter) there's not much way for you to rule out being a character in the fanfiction- you are random Muggle number 10543549 and you will never encounter any wizards in your life, or if you do, will not realize it. In the unlikely event that you do realize it you will probably be quickly obliviated.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T01:04:48.402Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant "if I was in roughly Harry's situation in HP:MoR" (and "I would read about common plot twists that seemed pertinent to the sort of story that I found myself in", not "I would already know which story I was in, recursively" though that would be pretty cool). I almost agree with your analysis except for decision theoretic reasons I never expect to find myself as a muggle in any story. ("My" "self" grumble dissatisfaction grumble.)

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-15T01:09:23.421Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I hate be the one to break this to you, Will, but... you can't do magic. I'm sorry.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T02:08:07.654Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like I should make a bet, but it's a poor habit to make bets on the tails of distributions. (Meaning I suspect that I'm slightly less sure I can't do magick than others would be but I'm still pretty damn sure I can't, at least not in a way that others would say could be legitimately described as magick.)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-15T02:14:19.997Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Based on http://predictionbook.com/predictions/3377 I'd think you'd have to assign at least a 5% chance that you can if I'm reading this correctly since this is only one possible method of using magic. Is 5% close enough to the tail that you don't think bets should be made over it?

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T02:20:04.951Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No, that's a different reading of "can"; I guess by "can" I meant "I currently use magick but am unaware that I am doing so"; if we were talking about potential to learn magick then I'd have to put it at around 5%. Me unknowingly doing magick is more like a you know actually I'd rather not talk about that. Still probably a lot higher than others would guess but magnitudes lower than 5%.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-09-16T20:48:59.750Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Are you willing/able to discuss the causes of your unusually high belief in magic?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-15T01:08:23.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I meant "if I was in roughly Harry's situation in HP:MoR"

Can you expand on what part of his situation would do that? What is the scenario in question? Someone shows up at your door tomorrow and tells you that you are a wizard? I'm still not clear what situation is the one in question.

for decision theoretic reasons I never expect to find myself as a muggle in any story.

What do you mean? I can understand the argument that random muggles aren't likely to be simulated to full fidelity and so entities that have enough processing power to act as observers shouldn't expect themselves to be random bystanders in a story about people they never meet. But this has nothing to do with decision theory so you seem to be driving at some other point.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T01:51:10.029Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's really hard for me to answer your first question. Basically everything about HP:MoR has been optimized to be a good story, so I'm tempted to answer "everything", but I realize that isn't helpful. But for some reason I find listing things aversive. Um. Um?

The simulation fidelity thing is actually I think equivalent to the decision theory thing; or at least, fidelity of simulation is directly correlated with decision theoretic significance. I don't anticipate being understood and thus can't muster up the energy to try to be understood, recursively. I'm sorry. But the simulation thing is basically close enough, yeah.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-15T02:07:00.443Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's really hard for me to answer your first question. Basically everything about HP:MoR has been optimized to be a good story, so I'm tempted to answer "everything", but I realize that isn't helpful.

I'm not sure someone in a good story would recognize that they are in a story even when it is highly optimized. From the reader's perspective Harry might be interesting but even from his perspective he's spent days in classes, he's spent hours listening to Professor Binns drone on, he's had to do tedious homework, and he's had 11 years where he was just like a lot of other very smart kids, many of whom beat him in math contests.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T02:11:31.795Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Right, if you start from decision theory then the prior is high and if you start from naive realism then the prior is really low, but I mean, the likelihood ratio started out high the very moment he realized he was abnormally intelligent and he had three last names, and ever since then it just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and...

He lost in math contests, but I think he thought himself smarter than almost all other humans along the dimensions that actually mattered. He explicitly has a messianic complex.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-15T02:22:16.619Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Right, if you start from decision theory then the prior is high and if you start from naive realism then the prior is really low, but I mean, the likelihood ratio started out high the very moment he realized he was abnormally intelligent and he had three last names, and ever since then it just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and...

Three last names is not that uncommon, and there are a lot of abnormally intelligent people in the world. Of the people who are in the top tenth of a percent in intelligence there have to be around six million people on the planet who fit that. So the chance that anything special is happening is still really low at that point. The chance might get higher overtime. And it helps that Harry is genre aware enough to sarcastically ask if there's a prophecy about him. (That section is still by far one of my favorite parts of the story.) So he's already located the hypothesis to some extent although he may have located it due more to pattern matching than actual evidence. Moreover, at the same time, Harry knows from talking to Dumbledore and reading old books about Gryffindor and others that in their universe there is such a thing as heroes. So Harry doesn't have a strong reason to see why his heroism isn't different than Gryffindor's. He might be the character with well meaning intentions who goes evil so that someone can arise to stop him in a few years. He'll be the classic MagiTech using villain, and it might even have a big anti-transhumanist undercurrent.

It seems that you might be engaging in a weird form of hindsight bias together with possibly the illusion of transparency.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-15T02:42:32.094Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This whole conversation is just so hilarious.

MoRdore approves!

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T02:34:09.782Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't follow. Or, it seemed like you were listing reasons why he should suspect he's in a story, but then you seemed to think I was committing hindsight bias for thinking so. Is it because "3 hours" is an exaggeratedly short time to make the inference? 'Cuz "I'm the main character" had secretly been Harry's hypothesis since forever, as was revealed under the Sorting Hat.

ETA: (Main character status qua main character status is hard to get without teleological optimization, and that's hard to get without authors behind the scene. (Evolution counts as an author but that just gets rolled into your baseline... I can't easily express that. I feel a faint urge to cry.))

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-15T02:40:58.524Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry if that wasn't clear.

The first part is a response to your observation about abnormal intelligent. My point was that there are around six million people of Harry's intelligence level, so being that intelligent is not a good reason to think one is a protagonist.

I then agreed that Harry's aware of the genre in question which might help slightly.

My point about Gryffindor and the like was that even if Harry thinks he's in a story he doesn't have good reason to necessarily assume he's the protagonist. In fact, look at the confusion from other genre aware characters about what genre they are in. So Harry could be a well simulated villain for later use.

Harry under the sorting Hat thinks he's important. That's not the same thing as thinking one is a protagonist in a story. Being willing to believe that one is the prophesied hero upon everything will fall is something lots of little kids want to believe. A lot of them convince themselves that they are somehow important or unique. (A weird example are Emo and Goth kids who convince themselves that they somehow have terrible suffering which no one else understands. Similarly, this is why X-Men is such a popular comic.)

The hindsight bias is that you know that Harry really is the main character. So in that context it is easy for you to look at all the evidence and say "yeah! See. It is obvious."

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T05:41:18.817Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(If I implied that Harry should know he's the main character then I take that back; I only meant to say he should know he's character of note in a story.)

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T02:57:36.626Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think that Harry's supposed to be about one in 2 million intelligence, since Eliezer was at one in a million and Harry's supposed to be somewhat smarter than Eliezer. Has this been discussed here before? If so, what were the conclusions?

comment by katydee · 2011-09-15T18:53:12.050Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I thought Harry was supposed to be as intelligent as Eliezer, but on the path sooner. Writing characters more intelligent than yourself is generally considered extremely difficult and not often done, though HPMoR breaks enough "rules" already that I wouldn't be too surprised if you were correct.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-15T19:04:09.514Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

And Father had finished by saying that plays like this were always unrealistic, because if the playwright had known what someone actually as smart as Light would actually do, the playwright would have tried to take over the world himself instead of just writing plays about it.

(Of course, nothing says he couldn't write plays as a hobby...)

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T02:44:47.226Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly it might be less hindsight bias than typical mind fallacy/heuristic. Harry is like Eliezer, I am like Eliezer, I am like Harry, and I've always guiltily thought I was the main character, and I'm pretty sure that Eliezer and Harry have too. (Luckily there are many stories going on.) Combined with all the explicit cues about wanting to become God and thinking he's incredibly important and then being sorta vindicated by the prophecy...

"Being the Messiah is like being Athlete of the Year."

comment by Will_Newsome · 2011-09-15T03:04:07.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

if you start from decision theory then the prior is high

I feel obligated to explicitly note that literally interpreted this is a straightforward abuse of the words "decision theory" and "prior" even if the concept I'm getting at isn't too abusive.

comment by hairyfigment · 2011-10-13T23:39:44.234Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The simulation part makes more sense to me. You mean to say that you think every relevant mind either lives in a simulation or thinks they do?

Please forgive me for asking, but do you want an Argument that Saves everyone who would exist in Tegmark IV? Because I don't believe this gets you there.

comment by Eneasz · 2011-09-16T17:41:10.166Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure Killgore Trout's writings in Vonnegut's books would count. But Vonnegut's universes are hardly typical.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-15T03:46:29.280Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, not especially relevant, but your suggestion that Eliezer reuse clever ideas from previous stories just suddenly made me realize:

I really, really want to see V'olde'Ger vs. the Superhappies.

comment by Eneasz · 2011-09-16T17:38:03.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wish I could up-vote this multiple times. Do you know of any actual fiction written with this premise (that's also good)?

comment by Unnamed · 2011-09-16T19:50:34.203Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The pretty good 2006 movie Stranger than Fiction has a premise along these lines, and so does the 1914 book Niebla by Miguel de Unamuno (which I haven't read).

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-16T17:54:35.595Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what specifically you mean by "this premise". Would the Dark Tower series by Stephen King count? That's the first work of literature that I'm aware of that had a sort of anti-Death of the Author (Resurrection of the Author?) as an actual plot point.

(For extra meta, the guy who came up with the term 'death of the author' was Roland Barthes.)

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-16T09:51:38.486Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Which means whenever Harry and Dumbledore are disagreeing about the world being a story with Heroes, etc, Wil\l_Newsome would realise that Harry's skepticism was irrational and Dumbledore had it nailed.

comment by hairyfigment · 2011-09-16T19:46:35.376Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It might have a credible meaning, depending on how we explain the facts of time travel. Perhaps some agent inspires prophecies to help ensure a coherent timeline.

This suggests that HJPEV or Voldemort will, as a result of the prophecies, affect the distant past somehow and become their own metaphorical grandfather (e.g by 'erasing Atlantis'). But it doesn't have to mean that. Perhaps without post-prophecy Harry, Voldemort would simply have gotten bored with world domination and decided to kill his own grandfather again.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-14T01:50:38.265Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There may be theoretical considerations that suggest that prophecy works this way. There may be some framework where this is the simplest interpretation, sort of how many-worlds is arguably the simplest interpretation of quantum mechanics even though we can't observe other branches of the wave.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-14T02:21:43.718Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I... guess...

You know, it occurs to me that out of such renowned experts as Dumbledore, Trelawney, that unnamed Bavarian seer, the Unspeakables, and the centaurs...

I kinda want to know what Luna Lovegood thinks about prophecy before I decide what to believe.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2011-09-12T20:41:51.782Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Back in chapter 21 Trelawney started giving a prophecy in the middle of lunch and Dumbledore used the phoenix to teleport her away. If the books are correct this probably made the prophecy useless as anyone in the room could have been the intended recipient, but the true meaning would probably be lost among that large an audience anyway.

As a side note if the he-who-is-coming in the prophecy is Mr. hat-and-cloak then that would rule out Snape and Quirrell. Though I don't think manipulating first year army battles and messing with Granger's head would count as "tearing apart" anything worth prophesying about.

comment by gwern · 2012-01-30T18:35:29.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's pretty clear she didn't give it:

she could not put words to that formless shape and so she could not discharge it, could not discharge it and become innocent and unknowing once more.

So, the question is whether Trelawney has been carrying a headache since chapter 63 and has been within earshot of Harry. Doing a quick search on her name, 'prophecy', and one or two other terms, as far as I can tell there has been zero mention of Trelawney since.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T08:59:14.249Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems that Akinator doesn't recognise any HPMOR characters.

This sounds like a job for a few procrastinators with a weekend to spare.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-19T15:42:28.585Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well it got Harry. V'yy tb sbe Dhveeryyzbeg abj.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T16:15:17.372Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well it got Harry

You mean the movie version, right?

ETA: Naq sbe fnavgl'f fnxr qba'g nqq uvz nf "Dhveeryzbeg". Vg'f n uryy bs n fcbvyre. "Dhvevahf Dhveeryy" fubhyq qb whfg svar.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-19T16:18:22.304Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nope, HJPV. They had a crudely-drawn picture and said he'd been guessed 114 times.

V vagebqhprq vg gb gur Onggyr Zntvp Cebsrffbe. (Bu pbzr ba, vg'f boivbhf rira vs vg'f abg bssvpvny. )

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T17:07:42.353Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

They had a crudely-drawn picture and said he'd been guessed 114 times.

o.O 112 people couldn't have seen my original comment and played it yet. Apparently HJPEV was already on the database. (Akinator didn't seem to recognise the name when I entered it, though... odd.)

The obvious explanation is that it's not keeping count properly.

(Bu pbzr ba, vg'f boivbhf rira vs vg'f abg bssvpvny. )

Nf Ryvrmre svtherq bhg, vg'f fgvyy orggre gb xrrc vg dhvrg.

ETA: Played again. This is what I got:

Character already played 3 times. last played on 19/02/2012 - 10H01

Apparently there are two records for the same character. The one I added is called 'Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres (Methods of Rationality)'

comment by Locke · 2012-02-19T17:28:53.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Alright, I'll Rot13 all this.

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-02T05:29:26.939Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer,

Could we have an update every 10 days telling us where you are? Makes the waiting much easier, knowing we're getting more.

One like last time with #of words, chapter would be great.

The super awesomeness of HPMOR so far is what makes all the anticipation fun...

comment by gwern · 2012-02-02T18:00:41.212Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would it be even more awesome if someone set up ~190 predictions on PB.com just for MoR speculation?

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-03T06:18:27.891Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Blame not the users for doing what the site was intended to enable. Blame the suckiness of the interface.

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-08T17:11:25.437Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Woot! Perhaps a few days more, and then I'll have to take the day off :)

Currently 4,800 words into Ch. 83, the Aftermath (final chapter) of the next story sequence.

comment by shminux · 2012-02-02T05:49:17.636Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe he could even post a puzzle or a hint once in a while :)

comment by Locke · 2012-02-03T03:05:50.448Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That would take effort he could be spending on coming up with in-story puzzles.

But yeah, scheduled progress updates would be spectacular. Even if he hasn't written anything, I'd rather know that than nothing.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-02-04T15:16:54.283Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That would take effort he could be spending on coming up with in-story puzzles.

Or, you know, trying to save the world.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-04T15:20:30.099Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm fairly certain he's doing this in his free time. You can't possibly expect him to write his Rationality Book all day long.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-09-29T03:09:42.562Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It occurs to me that a Pensieve would be a powerful tool for dealing with any of the Newcomblike problems that have come up so far or are likely to come up in the future -- getting past the magic mirror, for example. Just extract any memories relating to debiasing that you might have, put them in a jar labeled do not open until Christmas, and go talk to whatever the Omega of the moment is.

Might not work like that in practice -- I wouldn't expect it to IRL, at least, since scrubbing a memory probably wouldn't get rid of the weightings that have grown around the concepts it links to. But there's enough story potential that I can see a case for handwaving that away. Starting with the potential value stability problems...

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T02:24:30.808Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unless being more rational caused you to decide to one-box. Actually, I can't see where someone's intuition about that problem would go from one-boxing to two-boxing as they learned rationality. Nor do I see how knowing less would make you want the Philosopher's Stone but not want to use it.

Am I missing something here?

comment by Nornagest · 2011-12-22T02:42:31.786Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To be honest, looking back at that from three months on I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking. I do still think there's a lot of interest and story potential in a magical item that allows you to edit your own mind to some extent: if pulling out memories also removes your associations with them, you don't just have external storage, you have something very close to a general personality editor.

I'd actually be a little surprised if it doesn't come up down the road -- but the specific application that 20110929!Gest suggested up there looks far-fetched to me now. You'd have to have a very good idea of what's linked to what in your head, and you'd probably have to make some pretty extensive changes to change your answer to a Newcomblike problem. Enough to make the whole operation uncertain and rather dangerous. I don't think I'd try it, anyway.

comment by AspiringKnitter · 2011-12-22T03:02:14.852Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I agree with this.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T18:19:28.589Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

From chapter 76:

"I asked Professor Quirrell why he'd laughed," the boy said evenly, "after he awarded Hermione those hundred points. And Professor Quirrell said, these aren't his exact words, but it's pretty much what he said, that he'd found it tremendously amusing that the great and good Albus Dumbledore had been sitting there doing nothing as this poor innocent girl begged for help, while he had been the one to defend her. And he told me then that by the time good and moral people were done tying themselves up in knots, what they usually did was nothing; or, if they did act, you could hardly tell them apart from the people called bad. Whereas he could help innocent girls any time he felt like it, because he wasn't a good person. And that I ought to remember that, any time I considered growing up to be good."

Isn't this equivalent to renouncing Harry's entire rational approach of weighing costs vs. benefits?

In the chapter, what Harry is arguing is very different from what Quirrell said. Harry is arguing that Dumbledore is not optimizing correctly, presumably because he feels the pain of the deaths of his friends more than he feels the pain of all the things that were prevented by their deaths. Quirrell is saying, Don't try to optimize; just be free, amoral, and chaotic, and do whatsoever you will.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-25T22:25:57.379Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell is saying, Don't try to optimize; just be free, amoral, and chaotic, and do whatsoever you will.

I don't think that is what Quirrell is saying. He is criticising a real failure mode in in 'good' people.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-25T18:49:46.874Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't this equivalent to renouncing Harry's entire rational approach of weighing costs vs. benefits?

Yes. Which is why the very next thing Harry said was

"Don't worry, Headmaster," said the boy. "I haven't gotten my wires crossed. I know that I'm supposed to learn goodness from Hermione and Fawkes, not from Professor Quirrell and you."

According to you:

Quirrell is saying, Don't try to optimize; just be free, amoral, and chaotic, and do whatsoever you will.

The relevant quote would be from Chapter 20:

"What makes something right, if not your wanting it?"

"Ah," Harry said, "preference utilitarianism."

"Pardon me?" said Professor Quirrell.

"It's the ethical theory that the good is what satisfies the preferences of the most people -"

"No," Professor Quirrell said. His fingers rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I don't think that's quite what I was trying to say. Mr. Potter, in the end people all do what they want to do. Sometimes people give names like 'right' to things they want to do, but how could we possibly act on anything but our own desires?"

Yay, ethical egoism!

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T20:23:17.206Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The talk about Fawkes also confused me. When Harry goes on to say that, next time, he'll do what he thinks Fawkes would do, that's also renouncing optimizing - in a different way. Fawkes doesn't plan ahead or optimize; it (Phoenixes are ) represents completely rule-based, not goal-based, ethics.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-25T22:49:02.224Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, setting aside the tangent of phoenix gender... I think

Fawkes ... represents completely rule-based, not goal-based, ethics.

is an interesting idea, that could perhaps be correct.

(I'm struggling to figure out what the Gunpowder Plot and deontology have to do with each other, though.)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-25T20:57:21.552Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Phoenixes are parthenogenetic

How do we know this? They repeatedly burn themselves to rejuvenate but do we know anything about their reproduction. After being remade in fire it is the same phoenix.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-25T21:20:19.721Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also, parthenogenesis isn't the same thing as hermaphroditic self-fertilization. If phoenices were parthenogenetic (which we have no reason to believe) that just means they would be female, not "it".

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T22:16:06.059Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, I'm going to change that to 'asexual'.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-25T22:36:49.152Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What makes you think that phoenices are asexual, exactly?

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-03T16:22:21.776Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

HPMoR phoenixes have a fairly thorough fire symbolism; the teleportation is compared to a flame extinguishing in one place and rekindling elsewhere. It seems reasonable to assume that phoenixes reproduce in the same way that flame spreads, kindling themselves wherever they can find a hero to burn for fuel.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-03T16:32:13.720Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems reasonable to assume that phoenixes reproduce in the same way that flame spreads, kindling themselves wherever they can find a hero to burn for fuel.

"The phoenix's price isn't inevitable," the boy said. "It's not part of some deep balance built into the universe. It's just the parts of the problem where you haven't figured out yet how to cheat."

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-05T00:45:26.322Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It might be a burning-bush type of thing where the hero doesn't get 'used up' by the phoenix. The metaphor is still strong enough that, in my opinion, phoenixes should work like that.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-05T01:14:55.868Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I just thought the wording of 'phoenix's price' was auspicious, I agree that that's an interesting and poetic idea. (And looking back through, the fire symbolism is even more robust than I remembered.)

Problem: Dumbledore (who presumably should know) says in Chapter 62

"Harry," whispered the old wizard, "phoenixes do not understand how winning a battle can lose a war." Tears were streaming down the old wizard's cheeks, dripping into his silver beard. "The battle is all they know. They are good, but not wise. That is why they choose wizards to be their masters."

Edit: Does that make it clearer? I just thought the quote seemed to indicate a relationship other than 'use as fuel for reproduction'.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-05T17:14:09.921Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, I think I see now.

I don't think that Dumbledore knows as much about phoenixes as he thinks he does.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-10-05T01:26:37.633Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see what that quote has to do with fire symbolism.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-10-05T01:40:11.915Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fire burns its fuel.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-05T01:45:48.438Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The inexorable conclusion is that phoenixes are fueled... by evil!

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-05T01:35:03.053Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Edited for clarity.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-09-25T22:33:18.174Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If you're optimising without vast computing power, and without complete knowledge of your utility function, you can seek heuristics and decide to follow them even when subsequent calculations tell you otherwise.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T05:23:15.283Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Tiled in pentagons? That I want to see. Or... not. Probably not.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-09-25T06:05:45.418Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I actually looked that up on my last reread. It turns out there are several known pentagon tilings, some of which are quite attractive, although of course none use regular pentagons.

comment by Plasmon · 2011-09-25T08:20:06.288Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You may also be interested in Uniform tilings in the hyperbolic plane. In this non-euclidean plane, regular pentagon tiling is possible, and, using some mapping to Euclidean space, aesthetically pleasing pictures may be produced.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T15:31:13.133Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

So we may presume the hallway in question had a vaulted ceiling.

comment by bogdanb · 2011-10-15T13:06:32.487Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Or that Hogwarts is doing funny things with space, which we know it does regularly.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-12-26T14:02:55.621Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I was being careful to include at least one logical impossibility in the story so that my writing it could not increase its measure.

comment by jimrandomh · 2011-12-26T20:08:43.124Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that actually works. At most, you've reduced the measure increase by the inverse-exponential length of the shortest program that rewrites in a way that undoes the impossibility. What kind of serial fiction extrapolating simulator lacks that as a builtin feature, but still works?

comment by Sniffnoy · 2011-12-26T21:49:33.212Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But as others have pointed out, that just indicates that that section of Hogwarts is negatively curved. Of course, you say "at least one", so...

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-26T14:07:17.088Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As others have pointed out, it's not entirely impossible.

comment by Micaiah_Chang · 2011-09-18T22:50:40.417Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that I've wondered about-and note that I'm not entirely sure if this is the right venue for asking- is what Eliezer thinks about the Visual Novel format a storyline structure (obviously not for MOR, that increases the entry barrier way too much for a cute and pop introduction to Rationality. ) I know that he decided to use the Normal/True ending for the Three Worlds Collide story, but what does he think about, let's say, the relatively long common route into different story branches format, the three "distinct" story format (Fate/Stay Night), or the "controlled redo format" (sort of like Tsukihime, where in order to get a complete idea of the setting, characterization and themes you need to finish all the routes in a certain order).

I half wish there's a magical encyclopedia for MoR like there was in Fate/Stay Night, but that's understandably not as fun to read or write as actually showcasing the powers.

Although talking about made me think: I totally want to see an Omake where Harry gets Bad Ended by getting addicted to video games after he goes back to his parents for the summer...

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-18T23:15:59.567Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I seem to recall there was some playing around with Suzumiya-style Anachronic Order in earlier MoR chapters, but it was pretty self-contained and easy to follow. Plus there's some just downright confusing parts- chapter opening quotes that are never referenced again, Aftermaths that don't seem to have anything to do with the previous chapter, stuff like that.

And there's definitely some real potential for an omake chapter of Bad Ends: Harry accidentally destroying Dumbledore's ability to cast the Patronus Charm, Harry insulting his mother to Snape just a little more, Harry saying the wrong thing to Lucius in King's Cross, Harry realizing aloud to Quirrel what the ritual to summon Death really was...

Harry successfully transfiguring nanotech.

comment by thomblake · 2011-12-28T16:59:27.075Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

I had actually been tossing around the idea of a fic where each chapter is a bad end for MoR, possibly one for each chapter. Working title: 'Everyone dies'.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-01-25T00:22:18.474Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

One for each chapter? I'd read that.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-12-28T17:13:18.104Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not "Rocks fall, everyone dies"?

comment by thomblake · 2011-12-28T17:23:23.968Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking the first chapter should feature rocks falling.

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-09-25T18:37:06.541Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How would successfully transfiguring nanotech be bad, exactly?

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-25T19:01:19.599Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The bit I'm referencing is from Chapter 28:

Earlier, Harry had very secretly - he hadn't even told Hermione - tried to Transfigure nanotechnology a la Eric Drexler. (He'd tried to produce a desktop nanofactory, of course, not tiny self-replicating assemblers, Harry wasn't insane.) It would have been godhood in a single shot if it'd worked.

Now, try to imagine Chapter28!Harry - after learning to lose, but before going to Azkaban and reconciling with his dark side - attaining "godhood in a single shot". How well do you imagine that might have worked out?

(This is leaving aside the myriad ways this scheme could have gone horribly wrong, of course. The point is, even if everything went according to plan it most probably would have been a Bad End.)

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-12-26T14:06:24.222Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

When I'm done with the Hermione Granger route, I'm going to write the Luna Lovegood route, then the Bellatrix Black route, then the Draco Malfoy route, and then the harem ending!

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-21T17:01:41.760Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

.... Now you've got my hopes up.

Goddammit Eliezer, demonstrate that you're capable of finishing one route before laying out your awesomecool plans for the future.

comment by MBlume · 2012-01-20T07:12:41.387Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Won't you have to brainmod before you write the Draco Malfoy route?

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-22T02:38:32.172Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

From a literary point of view, why would that have any advantages that several weeks of watching yaoi anime would not?

comment by Pavitra · 2012-01-22T03:22:38.763Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I believe what you're proposing is a brainmod.

comment by MBlume · 2012-01-22T07:38:02.765Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I seem to recall when Eliezer mentioned Sirius/Pettigrew, people complained that the story was now slash and therefore horrible. Eliezer suggested that he would like to actually insert some m/m porn, just to upset these people further, but that writing such would be too actively unpleasant.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-22T10:23:01.227Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A Draco route doesn't require m/m porn any more than the True Route requires straight porn. -___-

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-22T10:41:19.236Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, the Draco route could very well require mpreg, from all we've heard about it so far.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2012-03-09T23:01:54.925Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The HPMOR discussion thread after this one is here.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-22T19:46:19.465Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From 2/7 to 2/10 Eliezer wrote 10,000 words, while working on the Rationality Institute. If he continued at that pace, he'd be at 10,000 words by now. Realistically, I'd estimate that he's had even less time to write, and is at around 7,000. So, new chapter in March?

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-19T13:01:30.764Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Eh, Aberforth is dead?

Dumbledore leaned back in his padded throne. His eyes were as cold as anything Minerva had seen from him since the day his brother died.

Chapter 18.

Hadn't noticed this before. Interesting...

comment by gRR · 2012-02-15T09:29:04.177Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do we know of the second Hat-and-Cloak:

  • doesn't know Hermione well
  • clever, but not too clever (it takes him a LOT of time)

=> not Quirrell or Snape

  • has some motive, probably foreshadowed (EY is a good writer)
  • was recognized by Hermione

=> not anyone unknown

  • has no morals (mindrape)
  • knows that Severus Snape is a Death Eater
  • says he knows the true reason for the coldness in Harry Potter's eyes
  • and says he's frightened of it
  • and says he knows HP is dangerous to Hermione
  • says: "Lucius Malfoy has taken notice of you, Hermione..."

=> He's Yhpvhf Znysbl!

One thing contrary: He says he knows the true nature of Professor Quirrell's mysterious illness. This doesn't fit...

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-15T10:08:55.435Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Assume Quirrell is not able to model 'good' people well -> we know he is not all powerful, and this is certainly where he is weak - witness conv with Harry on 'give a finger of my wand hand', 'does it really matter what your friends think', etc.

And each iteration with Hermione could have brought a different reason from Hermione, which was then subverted - we only saw one arc. Also H&C wanted Hermione as a willing participant, not as an NPC, much harder than simply memory charming her.

It's very unlikely EY has used two different H&C, and there was the 'wards keyed in' statement of both H&C & Quirrell earlier.

Will need much stronger evidence to say Quirrell is not H&C.

comment by major · 2012-02-16T08:54:01.234Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

there was the 'wards keyed in' statement of both H&C & Quirrell

Ch71:

Salazar Slytherin's ghost [...] is still keyed into the Hogwarts wards so he knows everything that happens, I bet.

So, maybe H&C is Padma!!1!

sigh. Can we please let this idea die already? It's no more than common use of a technical term.

Amelia Bones, Ch55:

And change the harmonics on everything changeable, they may have stolen our keys.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-16T10:31:23.487Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So, maybe H&C is Padma!!1!

sigh. Can we please let this idea die already?

Downvoted for the attitude. People in LessWrong generally understand the difference between "evidence" and "indisputable proof".

When you say that "we should let this idea die already", are you actually claiming that the similarity of the H&C and Quirrell statements in regards to Slytherin's monster is exactly zero evidence towards H&C and Quirrel having some connection between them? Are you really saying that the author is exactly as likely to have H&C and Quirrel use the exact same phrase in regards to Slytherin's monster, if they were the same character, and if they were completely unrelated characters?

If you're not saying that, then all you're saying is that you feel it should be weighed as less significant evidence than how some people are weighing it -- but a mere disagreement on how it should be weighed doesn't justify your tone or the way you say "please let this idea die already".

comment by major · 2012-02-16T11:34:17.043Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it's a historical fact that when I first saw this term-use-implies-identity idea, I rolled my eyes at it. What I think happens here is this:

The first appearance of H&C does indeed seem to imply Quirrell is H&C. He walks off after Zabini, Zabini's lie benefited him, and so forth. And however shakily, the common use of a term could support this as well.

But. Later we find evidence that it is indeed simply a technical term - as quoted above, (but it seems to be ignored, because the first H&C incident already implies a Q=H&C - at least I think this is what people feel), and then, in Ch76 we see something more important, a strong contrast between Quirrell reading the possibly-perfect-Occlumens Snape vs. H&C failing to read Hermione to such a degree that he needs to be told how suspicious he is. It points to them not beeing the same (which seems to be also ignored, because shared term-use already implies Q=H&C).

Rather than examining the evidences independently, they all seem to be lumped into an unassailable whole.

This is how it feels like when you are using One Argument Against An Army.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-15T19:40:25.218Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Zambini's actions during the Lake-Battle were not good for Quirrell. It did end in Harry hearing that Dumbledore acted dark, but Quirrell knows Harry well-enough to predict he wouldn't trust that information. So if Quirrell was really H&C, he should have had Zambini serving Potter all along so that Harry would win and be more likely to rule the country.

But I also very much doubt that it's Lucius, as he doesn't seem to fall into the category of "clever, but not too clever."

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-15T21:13:13.525Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So if Quirrell was really H&C, he should have had Zambini serving Potter all along so that Harry would win and be more likely to rule the country.

As much as Quirrell knows to favor simple plans, I expect he also has a Xanatos Gambit or two up his sleeve. I don't expect to be able to predict Quirrell's actions.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-15T21:24:55.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You think getting Harry made Magical-Dictator-For-Life is simple? Besides, H&C's conversation with Zambini makes no sense if it's Quirrell. If he's about to obliterate the kid, he hasn't the slightest reason to keep up his charade of plotting to set the Headmaster and Defense Professor against one-another.

While none of this makes it impossible that Quirrell is H&C, I don't think we have a good enough reason to suspect him that it's all irrelevant.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-15T22:55:59.211Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Zambini

Zabini.

obliterate

Obliviate.

If he's about to obliterate the kid, he hasn't the slightest reason to keep up his charade of plotting to set the Headmaster and Defense Professor against one-another.

Did he, though?

Blaise hesitated, but his curiosity was eating him alive. "Can I ask now why you want to cause trouble between Professor Quirrell and Dumbledore?" The Headmaster hadn't had anything to do with the Gryffindor bullies that Blaise knew about, and besides helping Kimberly, the Headmaster had also offered to make Professor Binns give him excellent marks in History of Magic even if he turned in blank parchments for his homework, though he'd still have to attend class and pretend to hand them in. Actually Blaise would have betrayed all three generals for free, and never mind his cousin either, but he'd seen no need to say that.

The broad black hat cocked to one side, as if to convey a quizzical stare. "Tell me, friend Blaise, did it occur to you that traitors who betray so many times over often meet with ill ends?"

comment by Locke · 2012-02-16T00:57:34.993Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. But nonetheless, H&C wouldn't need a report if he'd been in the conversation Blaise was reporting on.

comment by matheist · 2012-02-16T03:59:53.187Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

cough

Unless H&C needs to figure out (through legilimancy) who else Zabini might have told about his existence, so that he can go and obliviate them too.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-15T21:12:10.572Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

and there was the 'wards keyed in' statement of both H&C & Quirrell earlier.

I'd still write this off as unintentional except that I believe Eliezer then would have changed the wording now that it's been brought up.

It's still possible Quirrell was eavesdropping on H&C or vice-versa.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-15T23:10:58.297Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My own currently favored theory is:
U&P naq Dhveery ner qvssrerag vaqvivqhnyf ohg obgu unir n Ibyqrzbeg vzcevag. Guvf pnhfrf gurz gb or fvzvyne be vqragvpny va fbzr erfcrpgf naq qvssrerag va bguref.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-17T02:37:58.288Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

After listening to the podcast of chapter 35 I was sure that H&C was Quirrell. H&C told Zabini the slander about Dumbledor to tell Quirrell, and Quirrel knew that Zabini would slander Dumbledor when he talked to him. If Quirrell is not(or is not controlling) H&C then he would have had to find out the details of H&C's plot. Presumably there would have only been a single, surprised in the hallway, meeting between H&C and Zabini. The only options I see for Quirrell finding out about it is:

  1. Quirrell somehow knew the time and place that H&C chose for the meeting.
  2. Zabini became a Sextuple agent.
  3. Quirrell used legilimency on Zabini

1 Is unlikely considering the nature of the meeting. 2 is unlikely considering the inner thoughts of Zabini we have access to through the text. 3 is certainly possible since we only have Quirrell's own statement that the game would be boring as a reason he does not use legilimency.

Actually now that I think about it I am going to say that H&C is not Quirrell, and Quirrell knew that Zabini would slander Dumbledor because he used legilimency on Zabini.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-22T17:33:02.990Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
  1. Quirrell used legilimency on Zabini

I think it was just obliviation. I recon the description of obliviate as the feeling when you forget what you were doing in the middle of doing it seems close to what Zabini experiences.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-02-26T22:09:26.877Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What I meant is that legilimency is the reason that Quirrell knew that Zabini would slander Dumbledor when he talked to him.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-15T22:50:14.491Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

=> He's Yhpvhf Znysbl!

cough, cough

comment by Eneasz · 2012-02-13T21:26:20.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Now over 500 comments. Time for new thread?

comment by Locke · 2012-02-13T23:12:58.633Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think we should wait until the new arc to start, since going by past progress I would expect it sometime this week. If Eliezer could give us another progress update it'd help.

comment by drethelin · 2012-02-13T23:41:31.687Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

agreed

comment by matheist · 2012-01-23T06:27:10.368Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand Draco's exchange with Lucius at the end of Chapter 7. Anyone know what's going on?

Here are my thoughts, which of course may easily be completely wrong.

Facts: 1) Harry states, "So during the Incident at the Potions Shop, while Professor McGonagall was busy talking to the shopkeeper and trying to get everything under control, I grabbed one of the customers and asked them about Lucius."

2) Harry states, "So you really are his one weak point. Huh."

3) Draco's letter to his father asks about Harry's "weak point" comment, Lucius's reply reads, "I would say that you had been so fortunate as to meet someone who enjoys the intimate confidence of our friend and valuable ally, Severus Snape."

--

Conclusions:

  • The wording of Harry's statement in fact 2 suggests that Harry's source put him on to the "weak point" assertion. The "so you really are" bit sounds like a hypothesis that has just been confirmed.

  • A bit of a reach: Harry's source in the potions shop was Severus Snape, and Snape is allied with Lucius. If the first conclusion is true, then this would explain the speed of Lucius's response to Draco. That is, Snape tells Harry about Lucius, including that Draco is his only weak point, and then reports the conversation to Lucius; when Draco reports the "weak point" comment, Lucius understands that Harry has spoken to Draco.

  • Snape is the potions teacher and hence might reasonably be found in the potions store.

--

This is not very satisfying to me because Harry doesn't later recognize Snape as being someone he has seen before, and his appearance is quite distinctive to Harry. Polyjuice seems like a stretch.

comment by TomM · 2012-01-24T00:18:21.298Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

No secret information is required for Harry to come to his conclusion of "So you really are his one weak point. Huh."

Available evidence:

  • Lucius is well known as a hard bastard (initially supplied by random customer, reinforced by Draco)
  • Draco is well cared for (he is healthy, very well dressed, displays no social anxieties, worships his father)
  • Draco is probably indulged or even spoiled (Draco's behaviour)
  • Draco is being groomed to be Lucius' successor and therefore his equal (very clear by this point)

From this evidence it can be reasonably concluded that Lucius loves his son.
For a hard man like Lucius, this makes Draco his likely weakest point.

Lucius is simply underestimating Harry's ability to make good use of the available information (and possibly also underestimating how much Draco has given away while trying to cultivate Harry).

EDIT: 25 Jan 2012 - I just noticed that a previous incomplete revision of this comment appeared below by accident. It is now retracted...

comment by matheist · 2012-01-24T05:07:37.466Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nice. I like your explanation much better than mine. Keeping in mind that Lucius knows very little at this point about what Harry is like — and that Harry is only eleven! — I guess it's reasonable for Lucius to assume that such an observation by a fellow student of Draco's would require some adult tutelage.

comment by TomM · 2012-01-25T01:01:46.219Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I just realised that I missed another very strong piece of evidence which immediately precedes Harry's statement: Draco states that Harry should meet Lucius - he is actually offering Harry privileged access to his father.

This strengthens my view that Harry has noted that Draco offers (multiple paths to) influence with or threat to Lucius.

comment by TomM · 2012-01-24T00:08:49.889Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry saying that Draco was Lucius' only weak point was probably just an (accurate) surmise given the available evidence:

    1. Lucius is well known as a hard bastard (information from random customer)
    1. Draco is visibly well cared for (and his behaviour suggests that he is indulged or even spoiled in many ways)
    1. Draco is being raised to be his father's successor and equal

Therefore Lucius probably loves Draco, making him a weak point.

No secret information is actually required to make this assessment, though it might be considered a bit close to a guess.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-12-20T06:42:58.196Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's a very subtle bit that I just realized that's worth mentioning as a possibility. Rot13 for spoilers:

Va puncgre 46, Uneel yvfgf uvf boivbhf jnlf bs uvqvat na bowrpg. Gur pbagrkg gurer urnivyl vzcyvrf gung uvf yvfg vf n fhofrg bs Ibyqrzbeg'f npghny ubepehk yvfg. Va gung yvfg Uneel fnlf

Be vqrnyyl lbh jbhyq ynhapu vg vagb fcnpr, jvgu n pybnx ntnvafg qrgrpgvba, naq n enaqbzyl syhpghngvat nppryrengvba snpgbe gung jbhyq gnxr vg bhg bs gur Fbyne Flfgrz. Naq nsgrejneq, bs pbhefr, lbh'q Boyvivngr lbhefrys, fb rira lbh qvqa'g xabj rknpgyl jurer vg jnf.

Fvapr jr nyernql xabj gung Ibyqrzbeg ubepehkrq gur cvbarre cyndhr guvf ynfg ovg nobhg n enaqbzyl syhpghngvat nppryrengvba irpgbe fbhaqf n ybg yvxr vg vf na rkcynangvba sbe gur cvbarre nabzny http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_anomaly

If this is correct then that's a really clever and subtle touch.

comment by Unnamed · 2011-12-20T07:00:13.773Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Scooped

comment by Asymmetric · 2011-11-13T21:27:12.283Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry has said that Hermione is his moral center. Is she? Should she be?

I have mixed feelings. She's hardly a paragon, and if she's going to continue to develop into her own character instead of a satellite of Harry, Eliezer's going to outline her faults in more detail. We've seen this with Harry. Every time he undergoes a trial, readers learn more and more how fallible he is, and why.

Thoughts?

comment by Locke · 2011-12-27T17:13:31.031Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hermione is far from perfect, but she's nonetheless the most traditionally-moral person at Hogwarts. I think Harry is correct not to want to emulate her entirely, yet still respect her enough to ask her advice on morally ambiguous issues.

comment by sboo · 2012-01-21T01:46:31.439Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

""And," her voice said, "if you want to break school rules or something, you can ask me about it, I promise I won't just say no.""

perhaps eliezer's is not outlining but "fixing" her faults. by the end of ch75, hermione seems to have experienced a crisis of faith and become more morally harry.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T02:20:23.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Remember that being a good person, to Eliezer, is not just 'shut up and multiply'. For humans, it also requires having the sort of personality that does not allow you to pass a person in need without helping them. Hermione is such a person, and Harry realizes that he needs that if he doesn't want to stray from the path / become a dark wizard.

comment by Alex_Altair · 2011-10-29T00:17:24.020Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have a hypothesis about the origin of magic.

Obviously it was a long time ago, presumably prehistoric. Could the creaters have been neanderthals? They died out comparatively recently, the soonest possible time being 30,000 years ago. Is this long enough for all traces of their civiliation to disappear? There is also strong evidence that many humans have some remains of neaderthal DNA (to fit with the Atlantis DNA hypothesis). They were physically dominant to Homo sapiens, which would make it easier for them to dominate technically as well. (In real life, their larger size required a larger calorie intake, which may have contributed to their extinction.) Whoever it was, somebody apparently reprogrammed the AI with pseudo-latin commands.

For the curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-10-29T04:51:28.217Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Whoever it was, somebody apparently reprogrammed the AI with pseudo-latin commands.

Or the Latin language was partially based on a the AI's command language.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-10-29T05:53:07.971Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

the soonest possible time being 30,000 years ago. Is this long enough for all traces of their civiliation to disappear?

No.

If this hypothesis were true, we would expect to see no wizards among people of recent African stock, who do not have Neanderthal DNA, and this is not the case in the original canon, but that aside, the idea that a powerful AI was created by a species with markedly less cranial capacity and signs of advanced tool use than our own sounds highly implausible right off the bat.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-10-29T08:02:31.773Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Another possibility consistent with AA's idea is that the AI was created for the use of, rather than created by, the Neanderthals. Admittedly I'm now going down the AI-Designer-Of-The-Gaps rabbit hole, which suggests this line of reasoning is best discarded quickly.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-03-07T21:38:34.086Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the soonest possible time being 30,000 years ago. Is this long enough for all traces of their civiliation to disappear? No.

Note that Dumbledore says something like “erased Atlantis from time”, which suggests more than just the passage of 30 k years is involved in hiding the traces.

comment by Alex_Altair · 2011-10-29T07:47:36.777Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cranial capacity is about the same (reference wikipedia in my original comment). Also, our knowledge of their tool use is somewhat moot if we don't even know anything about a super advanced civilization. As in, what else are we missing about the past? The point about Africans is the strongest.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-29T08:55:48.303Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As to the second point (archaeological evidence):

Severus shrugged. "From the rumors I have heard, Headmaster, Muggle weapons are only slightly worse than the more... recondite aspects of wizardry -"

"Worse?" gasped Minerva, and then shut her mouth as though by force.

"Worse than any peril left in these fading years," said Albus. "Not worse than that which erased Atlantis from Time."

What's worse than nukes? Balefire.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-02-10T02:39:07.906Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's a decent chance you already know this, but that bit is probably a reference to Harry Potter and the Wastelands of Time. I don't think that fic describes what did its Atlantis in in any great detail (though it's been a year or two since I read it), but whatever it was, it was probably an apocalypse of subtype dug too deep and awakened an ancient evil. All the absurdly lethal skeletal guardians left lying around seem to point in that direction, at least.

On the other hand, there's enough references to D&D magic floating around that balefire wouldn't be too outré.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-10T02:18:15.693Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Balefire's not even that bad, unless you're the Dragon Reborn and can balefire back more than a couple minutes.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-10T12:04:14.312Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's not really fair. Balefire didn't get its bad reputation from Rand wiping out cities with it until the universe destabilized.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-10T15:51:20.342Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My point was that you have to be a ridiculously powerful wielder of the One Power before being able to weave balefire stronger than a nuke. There's probably only a handful of people in the series that can do it, now that the Choedan Kal is broken.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-02-10T16:40:54.044Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But there's no shortage of people who could accomplish it cooperatively, if you get male and female channelers working together.

I'm sure that in Wheel of Time there were plenty of ways to obliterate a city with the One Power back in the Age of Legends. The issue isn't that it can obliterate cities, but that if you use it for wholesale destruction like that, unlike, say, explosions, it fucks up the very fabric of reality.

comment by gwern · 2012-02-10T02:19:44.617Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Just get a circle of men and women...

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-10T02:21:07.289Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No evidence that circle can weave balefire. But haven't read books after Crossroads, so maybe it appears later.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-02-11T02:14:44.169Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is there any evidence that there are things which can be woven individually which can't be woven by circles? I don't remember any.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T02:11:47.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Balefire.

I'd say you're looking at the wrong canon, but that's never stopped Eliezer before.

comment by major · 2011-10-22T11:24:14.304Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So. Ch76, the part about how prophecies work. Has anyone else seen the connection to Amputation of Destiny?

comment by moritz · 2011-09-15T14:11:52.502Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There seems to be a slight contradiction.

On the one hand, Harry and Hermione find out that one needs to know what a spell does in order to cast ist successfully (Ch 22, "If you didn’t tell her at all what the spell was supposed to do, it would stop working.").

And then in 26, about the 6th years Griffindor (canon!Harry) who hexes canon!Draco: "He is in his sixth year at Hogwarts and he cast a high-level Dark curse without knowing what it did.”

Shouln't that be impossible? Or if the knowledge from Harry and Hermione's experiment wasn't very general, Harry should have noted at least. (Though honestly I didn't notice during my first read, being amused about the reference to canon).

comment by Atelos · 2011-09-15T14:28:54.744Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The next line after "If you didn't tell her at all what the spell was supposed to do, it would stop working." says

If she knew in very vague terms what the spell was supposed to do, or she was only partially wrong, then the spell would work as originally described in the book, not the way she'd been told it should.

Knowing that the spell is 'For enemies' apparently counts as knowing in very vague terms what it will do.

comment by ahartell · 2011-09-09T21:13:03.051Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"The world around us redunds with opportunities, explodes with opportunities, which nearly all folk ignore because it would require them to violate a habit of thought"

Is this a typo? If not, I don't think it flows very well.

comment by Nominull · 2011-09-11T06:14:41.548Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you explain where you suspect a typo to be?

comment by bogdanb · 2011-09-11T07:36:45.210Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It’s probably “redound”, it sounded weird to me to at first, but it is an English word, albeit probably not very often used at present:

http://www.leoyan.com/century-dictionary.com/cent2jpgframes.php?volno=06&page=5022 (top of right column)

comment by ahartell · 2011-09-11T17:10:31.452Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well "redund" isn't a word without the "O" and I think it would scan better with just "redounds with opportunities" or "explodes with opportunities." The second part isn't really a problem in the quoted text though.

comment by bogdanb · 2011-09-12T21:38:40.636Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Damn it, my brain’s playing tricks on me. I know the word “redound”, I’m pretty sure I used it even, and “redund” did feel weird, but when I looked for it in a dictionary, twice, I still didn’t notice the missing “o”...

comment by NihilCredo · 2011-09-11T20:27:34.956Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would also change the first "opportunities" to "possibilities".

comment by prasannak · 2012-02-19T07:57:50.455Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore tells Harry that Voldemort has used Dark Magic to save his own 'soul' at the cost of Myrtle's life. So Harry knows of at least one Dark Ritual which needs a death as sacrifice, ie making a Horcrux.

Quirrell tells Harry that the darkest ritual he knows requires only a sword that has slain a woman, and a rope that has hanged a man - to summon death.

Since Harry knows Quirrell knows every Dark Ritual there is worth knowing, and one of the rules of Evil Overlords is to get immortality, Harry knows that Quirrell is not telling him about the Horcrux ritual. If he puts the 'where to hide a Horcrux' & 'the lose 5 things' bits together, he will know he can never kill QuirrellMort, since he's unlikely to get to any of the Horcruxes anyway.

comment by Locke · 2012-02-19T15:39:44.803Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think making a Horcrux qualifies as a ritual. And if it did, it requires one death whereas the one Quirrell mentions requires two (albeit indirectly and with the possibility of them not being murders).

He probably is hiding some darker rituals, but I doubt the making of Horcruxes is one of them.

comment by Atelos · 2012-02-22T12:32:22.373Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, he could be judging the ritual most terrible on effects rather than sacrifices, and Quirrel's worldview obviously judges summoning Death, especially without the dismissal, as more terrible than making yourself some flavor of immortal.

comment by Locke · 2012-01-30T04:45:38.044Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So, you guys think Harry is going to immediately start on destroying Lord Jugson?

comment by shminux · 2011-12-22T18:58:09.021Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to be a common POV here that Quirrell is/harbors Voldemort in MoR, like he does in canon. I see no reasons to assume that's true, and even the goal of the Azkaban break does not seem as straightforward as Dumbledore appears to think.

Am I missing some clear indications to the contrary?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-22T19:23:52.933Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A significant portion of my confidence regarding the Quirrell/Voldemort equivalence in HPMoR derives from sources outside the HPMoR text itself. I suspect the same is true of most people who share that POV.

comment by Prismattic · 2011-12-23T21:42:47.990Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Possibly also from the fact that most regular readers of HPMOR probably think that EY is pretty good at plotting a story, and that introducing Voldemort late in the year as an entirely new character is the sort of cheap trick he is unlikely to resort to.

comment by shminux · 2011-12-22T19:35:40.189Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have inside info from the Mr Less Wrong himself?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-22T20:13:48.299Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand the situation, there is at the moment no official statement that the author endorses regarding the Quirrell/Voldemort equivalence. (I might be wrong about this; I haven't been keeping track.) But, for example, their equivalence in canon is an example of an extra-textual source that contributes to that confidence.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-23T16:37:53.550Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ryvrmre npghnyyl vffhrq n Jbeq bs Tbq (JNEAVAT: GIGebcrf) ba gur znggre va bar bs uvf rneyl nhgube abgrf nsgre abgvat gung znal bs uvf ernqref jrer choyvpyl jbaqrevat nobhg gur vffhr, ohg gura ur tbg n pbhcyr bs erivrjf gung pbaivaprq uvz gb yrg gur zlfgrel fgnaq. Lbh pna fgvyy svaq gur abgr ba NqryrarQnjare'f nepuvir (gur bar yvaxrq gb va gur bcravat cbfg). Whfg tb gb gur frnepu one naq ybbx sbe gur jbeq "ubyl". Ubjrire, n ybg bs crbcyr jub unir ernq gur cebpynzngvba nccneragyl pbafvqre vg gb or n uhtr fcbvyre, fb ernq vg ng lbhe bja evfx.

Be ner lbh abg grpuavpnyyl ylvat ol fnlvat "ab bssvpvny fgngrzrag gung gur nhgube raqbefrf"?

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T02:41:09.791Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Be ner lbh abg grpuavpnyyl ylvat ol fnlvat "ab bssvpvny fgngrzrag gung gur nhgube raqbefrf"?

Vg'f abg raqbefrq va gur frafr gung gur nhgube abj nterrf vg'f na haarprffnel fcbvyre naq crbcyr fubhyqa'g tb fcbvyvat vg.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-12-19T21:36:53.973Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What Lucius thinks Harry is plotting during their conversation in chapter 38: Whose interest is served by Harry's refusal of Quirrell's plan to strengthen magical Britain, by uniting it under a strong wizard? Lucius vf n oybbq chevfg; gb uvz, gur rarzl bs zntvpny Oevgnva, jub jbhyq orarsvg sebz guvf jrnxarff, vf Zhttyrf. Ur guvaxf Uneel vf n Zhttyr fhcerznpvfg, is the theory I propose.

comment by FAWS · 2011-12-19T21:52:33.698Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My impression was that Lucius suspects Harry to be Voldemort, hence the I know it was you message after the Askaban breakout.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-12-19T22:04:52.957Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Or he's just smart enough to realize that the use of Muggle technology in the breakout is the sort of thing Harry would do. Lucius also may have his own intelligence network, which could for example include aurors, or could include some Slytherin students (unknown to Draco of course) which could give him the sort of information necessary to make the connection. If he thought that Harry was actually Voldemort he likely would have already gone to pledge his allegiance.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T02:37:20.646Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If he thought that Harry was actually Voldemort he likely would have already gone to pledge his allegiance.

Canon Lucius maybe, MoR Lucius no. He still has plausible deniability.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-12-19T22:06:01.435Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That makes more sense than mine. But then why not just agree to rule and set up fake dangers (e.g. a fake returning Voldemort)? Also not sure why Voldemort!Harry would want to hurt Draco.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-15T17:23:48.745Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Apparently, according to canon Tracy David is a half-blood in Slytherin. Is she a half-blood in HPMR? Given that she's a much more important character here, it would seem likely to come up.

Edit: This may be wrong. Claim that this is canon seems uncited.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-18T23:46:27.549Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Er, except that link never actually claimed that 'fact', or any of the others, to be canon. "Head canon" is a term for "things that I pretend are true but have no basis in reality". (It's only canon in your head, geddit?)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-19T01:07:51.354Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, I had not encountered that term before. Thanks very much for the clarification.

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-09-19T13:33:04.831Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like that page's head canons! I read them for all four houses.

comment by TobyBartels · 2011-09-18T23:36:18.321Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't usually make corrections like this, but since people might want to do a search, the name is spelt ‘Tracy Davis’.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-09-15T20:10:57.717Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The HP Wiki seems to suggest that her being half-blood is based on drafts and notes that were never officially released.

Anyway, even if it were full canon, the question of whether Slytherin has halfbloods seems like the kind of thing MoR would overwrite for the sake of worldbuilding consistency, like whether Slytherins are always evil, or whether Dumbledore is insane, or whether Sirius Black is guilty.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-15T20:30:11.814Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Uh, I'm pretty sure Slytherin has halfbloods either way. Cause, you know, Snape.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-09-15T20:44:16.678Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

And Riddle...

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-09-21T21:10:05.835Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Pettigrew hasn't spent the last eleven years as the Weasley family pet, because that would be ridiculous, but I doubt Sirius Black is guilty. At the very least, it would require more than obvious consistency preserving changes to justify that.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-09-22T18:35:53.137Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure whether Sirius Black is guilty, but I don't take his canon innocence as significant information on the question. That's what I meant by "overwrite" as opposed to "reverse": the new state is mostly uncorrelated with the old state.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T20:31:25.472Z · score: -3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

There seems to be only one way this story can end.

  • Eliezer is concerned with people building AIs that have tremendous power.
  • The powerful wizards in HPMoR represent the AIs.
  • Harry wants, and appears destined, to become the singleton AI.
  • Eliezer believes that any AI that is not provably constrained, by its design, to follow rules that lead to , will inevitably - and I use that word to mean "with such high probability that you shouldn't even think about the cases where it doesn't" - lead to violating those rules.
  • Harry cannot be redesigned from the ground up to provably implement any ethical system.
  • Therefore, for Harry to do anything other than destroy everything that we, the readers, hold dear, would go against everything Eliezer has written about AI.

(It could alternately end with Harry killing himself and Voldemort, neutralizing Voldemort and giving up his own power, letting Voldemort kill him on realizing that Voldemort is less of a threat than he himself is, or in some other way kicking the problem down the road for the next generation. But the only final resolution of the story's central theme that is consistent with Eliezer's writings seems to be for Harry to destroy the world.)

comment by Nornagest · 2011-09-25T20:57:55.820Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not convinced of your second point. Powerful MoR wizards aren't nearly as constrained as people in our world, but the only person in the story that's explicitly trying to act as a optimizer over a generalized utility function rather than to achieve some set of concrete goals -- that is, the only person acting as Eliezer's concept of AI would -- is Harry himself. There are a number of ways that plot thread could be resolved, but destroying the world as we know it isn't the one I'd bet on -- although I'd expect the threat of such destruction to come into play at some point down the road.

We've also seen Eliezer's take on the Dark Lord-as-optimizer concept play itself out once before, in "The Sword of Good", and that -- avoiding spoilers -- didn't seem to resolve in a way consistent with your premise.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-25T20:55:28.630Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Whoah, whoah. Wait. Back up.

The powerful wizards in HPMoR represent the AIs.

What the heck?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T22:08:35.019Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If not all of them, at least Harry does.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-25T22:20:34.074Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

No he doesn't. He's just an AI creator. If he was representing an AI the entire story would have been over at Chapter 1.

Eliezer would not write a parable in which an AI made a slow journey to power, on the way learning valuable moral lessons through social interaction with the people he cares about. That completely undermines all that he stands for.

  • Therefore, for Harry to do anything other than destroy everything that we, the readers, hold dear, would go against everything Eliezer has written about AI.

Harry destroying the world would make a reasonable conclusion albeit for different reasons than Harry being an AI. That said, the lesson to be learned is too complicated for fanfic readers to be expected to learn from just a story. It is hard to convey that Harry made the correct decision to try to save the world even though he failed and destroyed everything because the alternative was certain failure and at least his chances were better than that.

Which reminds me: I hope there is a chapter in which Harry (or someone else) loses something dramatically but realizes (or has Harry explain to them) that they made the right choice anyway. And the converse in which a decision is wrong even though it turned out well.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-26T02:35:52.760Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Which reminds me: I hope there is a chapter in which Harry (or someone else) loses something dramatically but realizes (or has Harry explain to them) that they made the right choice anyway. And the converse in which a decision is wrong even though it turned out well.

Agreed.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-26T02:35:12.817Z · score: -4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Harry is not an AI creator. That would require him to create an AI. There is no AI in the story, and no hints that there will be any AI. Harry is on his way to achieving personal power, without any technological intermediator.

Eliezer would not write a parable in which an AI made a slow journey to power, on the way learning valuable moral lessons through social interaction with the people he cares about. That completely undermines all that he stands for.

Why? Do you think Eliezer believes AIs are incapable of learning valuable moral lessons through social interaction with the people it cares about? Presumably, even within Eliezer's model, an AI can be moral and kind and loving to humans for some time period. If you think that "unfriendly AI" will necessarily be amoral and incapable of love - well, that's just silly. The reasons for believing that are exactly the same as the reasons for believing that computers can never be intelligent.

As to "slow", that's just one of the things that scales differently because of the analogy being used.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-26T09:15:46.912Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Harry is not an AI creator. That would require him to create an AI.

What the? I'm downgrading from your "Harry represents an AI" to "Harry represents an AI creator" and now you want to get technical and say "there is no AI in the story"?

Why? Do you think Eliezer believes AIs are incapable of learning valuable moral lessons through social interaction with the people it cares about? Presumably, even within Eliezer's model, an AI can be moral and kind and loving to humans for some time period. If you think that "unfriendly AI" will necessarily be amoral and incapable of love - well, that's just silly.

I believe Eliezer would rather dip his... arm... in a vat of acid than suggest to his readers that an AI will act like a clever well intentioned child that learns valuable moral lessons through social interactions with those he loves, over a long period of a slow, rather inefficient quest for power.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-09-26T20:07:16.292Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I believe Eliezer would rather dip his... arm... in a vat of acid than suggest to his readers that an AI will act like a clever well intentioned child that learns valuable moral lessons through social interactions with those he loves, over a long period of a slow, rather inefficient quest for power.

Please cool it down a bit.

Just two chapters ago, Harry was compared to a all-powerful summoned entity that knew nothing about how humans worked and so had to be taught not to eat people and stuff. Hermione accepted that comparison as somewhat fitting. So the comparison of Harry to non-human intelligences is MoR!Canonical, even though it was a huge exaggeration even within the context of the story, expressed by people genuinely scared of Harry -- the Harry who seemed more powerful than a Nameless Horror and might need the magical nations of the world to ally against him in order to seal off his incursion into our reality.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-26T10:04:36.491Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I believe Eliezer would rather dip his... arm... in a vat of acid than [write something slightly at odds with his belifs into a fanfiction]

My hyperbole is going of like crazy over here. You should probably cease this conversation before it becomes even more heated. Both of you.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-26T10:20:17.579Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

My hyperbole is going of like crazy over here. You should probably cease this conversation before it becomes even more heated. Both of you.

I don't think you get it. If you think you can substitute "write something slightly at odds with his beliefs into a fanfiction" even remotely appropriately into that context then you do not have enough knowledge about Eliezer's publicly expressed goals to be making the kind of moral judgement you presume to make.

I wrote my claim because it sounds like a hyperbole but isn't. For the right value of 'acid' my claim is a literal counterfactual prediction. And I don't mean a "dipping his arm in vinegar" technicality. I'd estimate the approximate value of acid required to make the preference stand is something that would fall short of leaving permanent scars but give him significant pain for a week. Maybe that is a little light... perhaps leaving some scarring but leaving full function and sensitivity on the hand so he can still type. Just so long as some of that typing constitutes a massive disclaimer and retraction to undo some of the damage his toxic propaganda would have done.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-26T19:00:41.540Z · score: -3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I said Harry represents an AI. You said Harry is an AI creator. I was just taking you at your word. It didn't occur to me that you meant Harry represents an AI creator, because that wouldn't make any more sense. Harry does not represent an AI creator unless he creates something that is in some way analogous to an AI. There is no hint he will do that. Harry is not creating an AI, and is not creating anything analogous to an AI.

Whereas Harry has properties analogous to a recursively self-improving AI on the way to having godlike power. And the danger that Harry will pose once he attains these godlike powers is one of the central themes of the fanfic, and is highlighted throughout the entire fanfic, over and over again.

I believe Eliezer would rather dip his... arm... in a vat of acid than suggest to his readers that an AI will act like a clever well intentioned child that learns valuable moral lessons through social interactions with those he loves, over a long period of a slow, rather inefficient quest for power.

The slowness is due to humans, who represent the AIs, operating only at human speeds, and does not detract from my point.

I still have the impression that you think Eliezer's view implies that an AI cannot be well-intentioned, or learn valuable moral lessons through social interactions with those he loves. Why? That is exactly as absurd as saying that computers can never be intelligent. (I am ignoring questions of whether a computer program can subjective experience love, since "love" used as a verb refers to the action rather than to the subjective experience. But, still, anyone who follows Eliezer at all should be a materialist and therefore believe that a computer program can in principle love as well as a person can.)

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-26T19:39:58.973Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I said Harry represents an AI. You said Harry is an AI creator. I was just taking you at your word.

Your interpretation is technically grammatically valid but not remotely reasonable.

I still have the impression that you think Eliezer's view implies that an AI cannot be well-intentioned, or learn valuable moral lessons through social interactions with those he loves. Why? That is exactly as absurd as saying that computers can never be intelligent.

This impression, however, is not even a technically valid interpretation.

comment by smk · 2011-10-04T11:11:37.086Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"A rationalist!hero should excel by thinking - moreover, thinking in understandable patterns that readers can, in principle, adopt for themselves." - Eliezer

I think Harry is supposed to be a rationalist!hero. I think he's supposed to succeed in the end. The fact that he also has the potential to be very dangerous and destructive is, I think, just about the dangers of power itself, and the importance of ethics + reason in making decisions. Especially when you have something to protect.

I think Harry's ethics are actually not too far from EY's. Of course he has ethical failures and character flaws, and that pesky dark side, but he's mostly headed in the right direction. And though he's quite unusual, he doesn't have some sort of inhuman psychology. A protagonist's quirks are often exaggerated, because stories have to shout.

I don't think he represents an AI at all.

comment by shokwave · 2011-10-04T12:05:15.776Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think Harry's ethics are actually not too far from EY's

Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres' morality is to Eliezer Yudkowsky's morality as Paul Muad-dib Atreides' is to Frank Herbert's.

(That is, both Harry and Paul are heroes, and have hero morality. They have their view of a horrifying future they may cause: the jihad, and becoming a new Dark Lord. But they have a desire to make things better as well - well, Harry more so than Paul. And in reading their story, you are supposed to fall into the same trap they do - thinking that if they just try hard enough, they can still do good, still have an impact, still be a hero, without bringing about the horrible future. And so they aim closer and closer to that horrible future, looking for the edge of the circle where the bad thing doesn't happen but they are still a hero, with a hero's legacy - when what they should be doing is making the bad future as unlikely as possible, not making the bad future only just barely fail to happen!)

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-04T16:22:42.837Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That is, both Eliezer and Paul are heroes, and have hero morality. They have their view of a horrifying future they may cause: the jihad, and the creation of a UFAI. But they have a desire to make things better as well - well, Eliezer more so than Paul. And in reading their story, you are supposed to fall into the same trap they do - thinking that if they just try hard enough, they can still do good, still have an impact, still be a hero, without bringing about the horrible future. And so they aim closer and closer to that horrible future, looking for the edge of the circle where the bad thing doesn't happen but they are still a hero, with a hero's legacy - when what they should be doing is making the bad future as unlikely as possible, not making the bad future only just barely fail to happen!

This is why I stringently oppose all forms of AI research.

If you disagree with that last sentence, which part of the analogy do you think is flawed?

comment by shokwave · 2011-10-05T11:52:12.705Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The bit where Eliezer isn't a character in a novel.

Sure UFAI pattern-matches to the Dune jihad better than anything in HPMoR, but even then Eliezer isn't acting like Paul at all. A Muad-dib!Eliezer would be working feverishly in the basement of the fortified SIAI bunker (which would actually be a cult) to put together an "at-least-it-isn't-paperclips-forever" AI before the US government finds his location and drops a bunker buster on him. Right about now we would have tense negotiations with national entities grimly ending in Eliezer pressing the On switch.

This sounds nothing like what is actually happening, does it?

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-10-05T15:28:38.091Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, no. (Hopefully not. Not as far as I know, anyway.)

The point I was making was less about the similarities to Dune (which I shamefully have only a vague knowledge of) and more about this assertion:

I think Harry's ethics are actually not too far from EY's

Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres' morality is to Eliezer Yudkowsky's morality as Paul Muad-dib Atreides' is to Frank Herbert's.

Cause see, the thing is, Harry isn't working feverishly in a bunker, either. I guess the question is: what do you think Eliezer would do differently in Harry's situation?

Edit: I've just realized I anchored onto the wrong part of that analogy. It may actually be fair to describe Harry's recent approach as leaning towards "tense negotiations with national entities grimly ending in ... pressing the On switch." Um. So.

I'm not going to retract, but I think I've got more of an appreciation for your point of view, now.

comment by shokwave · 2011-10-06T02:47:59.578Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For the life of me, I can't find it - but there is a comment from EY about HJPEV's actions (appearing suboptimal in some commentor's view because he was busy winning a school wargames competition instead of Transfiguring more carbon nanotubes and building supercomputers and space elevators) to the sarcastic effect of "It's almost as if he's not me!".

This is what prompted me to compare Eliezer's HJPEV to another author's "supposed-avatar-but-actually-the-author-is-smarter-than-that" character.

comment by BenLowell · 2011-09-26T03:30:44.079Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like a fitting conclusion would be for Voldemort's last remnant to end up on the Voyager spacecraft, so that he is forever in the stars, away from earth.

comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-26T03:39:25.683Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No. Really?

(Pioneer spacecraft. "V'olde'Ger" is a joke based on a Star Trek movie.)

Edit: Raargh beaten by thirty seconds.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-26T03:38:53.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Pioneer, not Voyager.

comment by FAWS · 2011-09-25T21:20:19.071Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How do you reconcile this view with the Sword of Good story?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-09-25T22:14:16.815Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the Sword of Good focused on the question of how culture can blind our moral sensibility. I would say that story just wasn't about that problem.

It is true that neither the Lord of Dark in that story, nor Harry in MoR, is expected to enter into the rapid recursive self-improvement anticipated for an AI. Though I would expect MoR's Harry to figure out a way to do that, given wizardly powers over time.

comment by ahartell · 2011-09-26T01:40:05.634Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused. Didn't The Sword of Good end with the destruction of the world, just as PhilGoetz would predict?

comment by pengvado · 2011-09-26T04:45:46.387Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

No.

comment by TwistingFingers · 2012-03-06T02:42:57.515Z · score: -6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think we can all agree that Harry's inability to accept natural death as a good thing (hubris) is an impossible trait for a young boy to have unless they have been exposed to great evil.

I expect it to later be revealed that Harry's inability to accept the natural order is due to Voldemort's horcrux being placed within him. When he is healed of it he will probably remain intelligent but stop being power-hungry/evil.

comment by Locke · 2012-03-06T04:39:27.230Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If an eleven-year-old can have Eliezer's knowledge of Bayes' Theorum or the ability to cite studies on most fallacies off the top of their head, they can come to the proper conclusions about death.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-06T03:32:40.263Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think we can all agree that Harry's inability to accept natural death as a good thing (hubris) is an impossible trait for a young boy to have unless they have been exposed to great evil.

First: is the parenthetical comment meant to be a summation of the previous term? Second: agreed, as long as the definition of "great evil" includes the fact that roughly a hundred and fifty thousand people die every day.

I expect it to later be revealed that Harry's inability to accept the natural order is due to Voldemort's horcrux being placed within him. When he is healed of it he will probably remain intelligent but stop being power-hungry/evil.

This is an interesting idea, because Harry's inability to accept the natural order was explicitly stated to be the reason he could cast the True Patronus Charm. Is that part of what you refer to as "power-hungry/evil", or...?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T21:19:25.163Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are better ways for a fundamentalist Christian to troll LW. Ask Will_Newsome to give you a few lessons.