Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84

post by FAWS · 2012-04-11T03:39:38.702Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 1239 comments

Contents

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1239 comments

The next discussion thread is here.

 

This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 84The previous thread  has passed 500 comments. Comment in the 14th thread until you read chapter 84. 

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

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: 12345678910111213, 14.

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Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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

1239 comments

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comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T07:07:41.597Z · score: 54 (72 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had this idea about Tom Riddle's plan that I appreciated having criticized.

Tom Riddle grew up in the shadow of WWII. He saw much of the Muggle world unite against a threat they all called evil, and he saw Europe's savior, the US, eventually treated as the new world leader afterward, though it was somewhat contested, of course. That threat strongly defined it's own presentation and style, and so that style and presentation were associated with evil afterward.

Tom didn't want to be Hitler. Tom wanted to actually win and to rule in the longer term, not just until people got tired of his shit and went all Guy Fawks on his ass. He knew that life isn't easy for great rules, but thought that was worthwhile. He knew that life was even harder for great rulers who ruled by fear, so that wasn't his plan.

So Tom needed two sides, good and evil. To this end he needed two identities, a hero and a villain.

I guess he didn't think the villain didn't need to have any kind of history. Maybe he didn't think the villain would matter much or for long. Voldemort was just there for the hero to strike down. That was a mistake, because he lacked a decoy his enemies were eventually able to discover his identity.

Then there's this hero. The hero is a what passes for a minor noble in magical Britain. He's from a 'cadet' branch of the family, which means he doesn't stand to inherit anything substantial because he's not main line.

Most importantly, he goes missing in Albania. That's a shout out to canon and a code phrase for "became Tom RIddle's bitch."

As Voldemort, Tom sows terror and reaps fear. He's ridiculously evil and for Dumbledore redefines evil because he is apparently evil without necessity. Dumbledore can't tell what function that outrageous evil serves because Dumbledore thinks that evil is done sincerely. He doesn't know it's just a show.

Tom stages a dramatic entrance into the drama for his hero: he saves the president's daughter, or something like that. Totally Horatio Alger. It's a cliche, which may be EY's way of helping us to understand that Tom is fallible, more then than now.

Tom promotes his hero from Minor Noble to Last Scion of House X by killing off the rest of his hero's family. Tom simultaneously builds legitimacy for his hero's authority and leverages the tragedy to build sympathy for his hero's cause.

Tom's mistake was thinking that would be enough. There was a threat to the peace. There was a solution. The people instead chose to wallow in their failure and doom. He made it all so clear, so simple, and yet the morons just didn't get it.

I'm sure anyone whose been the biggest ego in the room during improv could sympathize.

When Tom realizes that his plan has failed and cannot be made to work in the intended fashion, he exits his hero, stage left. At that point, 75 or so, he doesn't have a good plan to leave the stage as his villain, so he kind of kicks it for a few years, tolerating the limits of his rule and getting what meager entertainment he can out of being a god damned theater antagonist.

When Tom gets a chance, he pulls his villain off the stage and may or may not have done something to the infant Harry Potter.

Now he's using the Scion of X as an identity layer to keep the fuzz off his back, while manipulating Harry into a position of power, and I'm guessing he plans to hit Harry with the Albanian Shuffle a little while later and give World Domination another try.

Tom Riddle is a young immortal. He makes mistakes but has learned an awful lot. He is trying to plan for the long term and has nothing but time, and so can be patient.

comment by Nominull · 2012-04-11T07:25:27.693Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a really good explanation for how Dumbledore's recollection of the purposeless evil of Voldemort can be reconciled with the clearly purposeful evil of Quirrell.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-04-11T11:43:01.017Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And why Voldie'd lay low for TEN YEARS waiting for a hero.

(Still... see Chris Halquist below. '73 to '81? He must've had some plan going.)

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T08:35:12.021Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He's patient?

I believe he intends to upload into Harry after arranging for Harry to "kill" Voldemort and take power. He showed up just in time for Harry's first year at Hogwarts - first year in public. Then creates the whole army business which propels Harry to leadership.

Also, even though he "was winning" the war, finishing off Dumbledore, holder of the Elder Wand, is non trivial. Much better to become Harry and have Dumbledore pass on his power to you.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T12:52:09.423Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah. He did. And yeah, that's odd. There's probably something else going on there that we don't know about.

comment by knb · 2012-04-11T10:50:02.942Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been thinking along the same lines, probably because I watched Code Geass not too long ago, and this is basically the "Zero Requiem" gambit employed by Lelouch. He creates a totem of pure evil as a target of the world's hatred, then publicly destroys it, establishing a hero as savior-king. Riddle, like Lelouche, is portrayed as a "Byronic hero"--mysterious, cynical, cunning, arrogant, and brilliant. If this interpretation is correct, Harry might not be his future meatpuppet, but actually the "chosen one", who will fulfill the role of the hero and unite the world as savior-king after destroying the risen Voldemort.

But of course it could have just been a "Palpatine Gambit". In this version, Riddle was using his Voldemort persona to create fear, which his other persona takes advantage of to turn Magical Britain into the Empire, consolidating all power to himself. But in this version, much to the consternation of Tom Riddle, the "Republic" actually doesn't give up power to the obviously qualified hero (due to diffusion of responsibility, political maneuvering, etc.) So instead he decides to just seize power as Voldemort, but by bad luck, he is struck down by Lilly Potter's self-sacrifice. Now he is back, and wants to use Harry as his new hero, but he needs to make it plausible, by convincing Harry of his political views, and making him super-formidable. That way, when "Harry" (actually Riddle acting via Imperius/polyjuice, etc.) takes over Britain and strikes down the resurrected "Voldemort" in his 7th year, people will believe it was possible. Riddle will then rule Britain (and eventually the world as "Harry Potter".

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T13:04:01.060Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see any need for a sacrifice or a Voldemort who goes alone to confront the kind of threat he takes seriously enough to take seriously the threat posed by an infant.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:12:27.664Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I cannot parse that.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:33:30.724Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The circumstances we are given in MOR do not require or imply a sacrifice. There are no hints that Harry was saved by a sacrifice. I can't think of any hints about any reason at all that he was saved, really.

If Vodlemort hears of a threat that is an infant and he takes that threat seriously enough to do something about an infant, we are not told anything about Voldemort that makes it in character for him to confront a threat like that alone.

That is, there is more than one problem with the story we have concerning the night Harry's parents died.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T14:43:56.463Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would he need backup to kill a baby? We've seen him do more dangerous things(e.g., sitting in Hogwarts for a year scheming) without backup.

And yes, the sacrifice story comes from canon, not MoR. Still, with no other hints, that gives it a pretty high prior probability.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T03:41:50.884Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would he need backup to kill a baby?

People protect babies and it would be reasonable to expect that people would work especially hard to protect babies that are prophesied to save the world from an evil villain. It turns out that his enemies were idiots and suffered a single point of failure, but even if he thought he knew that the target would be under protected the smart thing to do is not to depend on his quisling and go in alone.

And yes, the sacrifice story comes from canon, not MoR. Still, with no other hints, that gives it a pretty high prior probability.

How high is this canon bonus to probability of yours? Would you say that Aberforth was probably a zoophile just because he was in canon? Or that Ron and Hermione will probably get together because they did in canon? Or that Snape will kill Dumbldedore because he did in canon?

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-14T04:19:20.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What was idiotic about the way Harry was protected? They were betrayed to a superior force by someone highly placed, and there's no good defense against that. And Voldemort was knowingly superior to every possible defender, so why would he worry about it?

And re prior probabilities, it's obviously dependant on the issue in question. On something where MoR is silent, canon carries a lot of weight. On something where MoR spends time adjusting expectations, canon carries very little weight. So it's quite likely that Aberforth loved goats(though even more likely that MoR will stay silent on the topic), but quite unlikely that Ron and Hermione will get together(because the story is explicitly listed as Harry/Hermione, and has been proceeding accordingly). And Snape killing Dumbledore...actually that one's not implausible, because both characters seem quite similar to their canon versions. If they were put in the same position, they'd likely do the same thing. I don't think the story will run long enough to get there, but if it does somehow, I can see it. I'd certainly put the probability higher than McGonagall or Flitwick doing him in.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T05:45:10.866Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What was idiotic about the way Harry was protected?

Did you miss the part about a single point of failure?

Fate of the whole fucking world and the critical security decisions and on site protective services are trusted to a crew of twenty somethings who were really close in school. Idiots.

And Voldemort was knowingly superior to every possible defender, so why would he worry about it?

The only reason to work alone is if working with others means watching your back more. We have no evidence that Vodlemort executed his other raids singlehandely, so we should believe that he did it the smart way with backup. So why the sudden switch from terrorist to cheap slasher monster?

On something where MoR is silent, canon carries a lot of weight. On something where MoR spends time adjusting expectations, canon carries very little weight.

MoR is not silent on the question of sacrifice, it is covered under the primary themes of the story. Throwing your life away futilely not smart and should not be rewarded in a story with rationalist aspirations. There's no exposition on the subject of mother's love sacrifice charms, so if this is what happened it will be unforeshadowed. EY has said that is a bad thing to do so we should guess that he probably doesn't intend to do that.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-14T14:35:51.991Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Find me a protection scheme that applies to the situation at hand with a second point of failure, and I'll accept your criticism of the plan they had. Highly-placed traitors are really, really hard to defend against.

Similarly, find me an example of Voldemort having backup on any of his attacks, and I'll believe that him lacking it here is relevant.

Rationality is about winning. Lily Potter won that night, as much as she believably could have. I'd say she did okay by "throwing her life away".

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T15:17:49.992Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Find me a protection scheme that applies to the situation at hand with a second point of failure, and I'll accept your criticism of the plan they had.

Have Dumbledore be the Secret-Keeper.

Similarly, find me an example of Voldemort having backup on any of his attacks, and I'll believe that him lacking it here is relevant.

The Ministry raid at the end of OotP.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-14T18:31:08.123Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you want to replace a single point of failure for defending a baby with a single point of failure for the entire Order? Remember what happens when the Secret-Keeper dies, after all.

And there's a bit of a difference between hitting a single-family house and a large battle.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T18:37:46.466Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you want to replace a single point of failure for defending a baby with a single point of failure for the entire Order?

How would Dumbledore be any easier to kill as a Secret-Keeper than otherwise? Wait, before that, how would Dumbledore's death be any more crippling to the Order if he was a Secret-Keeper than otherwise? He dies, they've pretty much lost the war, baby Harry Potter or no baby Harry Potter.

Remember what happens when the Secret-Keeper dies, after all.

I am. Are you?

(Dumbledore's death resulted in everyone read into the Secret of 12 Grimmauld Place becoming Secret-Keepers themselves; the Fidelius was still in place.)

Edit: The wiki claims- unfortunately without attribution- that Dumbledore offered to be the Potters' Keeper, and was turned down.

Edit2:

Similarly, find me an example of Voldemort having backup on any of his attacks, and I'll believe that him lacking it here is relevant.

The Ministry raid at the end of OotP.

And there's a bit of a difference between hitting a single-family house and a large battle.

Emphasis mine.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-15T20:06:58.226Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The wiki claims- unfortunately without attribution- that Dumbledore offered to be the Potters' Keeper, and was turned down.

I definitely remember this from the third book. The adults are talking about the Potters' deaths in the Three Broomsticks Inn and someone mentions that Dumbledore himself offered to become the secret keeper, but was turned down with insistences that Sirius Black would never betray them.

EDIT: Found it.

"So Black was the Potters' Secret-Keeper?" whispered Madam Rosmerta.
"Naturally," said Professor McGonagall. "James Potter told Dumbledore that Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was planning to go into hiding himself... and yet, Dumbledore remained worried. I remember him offering to be the Potters' Secret-Keeper himself."

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T08:40:40.102Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right now this post has 53 points. WHY?

The post where put down the theory this grew from only has 2 points. Don't go voting it up just because I mentioned that. I don't want anything 'fixed' I just want an explanation.

This isn't written any better than my other posts, which commonly stay under 3 points and go negative often enough. Those other posts are totally contributions to the conversation. Some of them are even helpful.

I left points hanging. I didn't defend what I was saying. I just told a story. That's what you want?

I'm not even the first to revisit this speculation since my low vote theory post. Chris Hallquist was saying pretty much the same thing and he didn't get over 40 upvotes.

What are you upvoting?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T08:57:54.748Z · score: 29 (33 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I left points hanging. I didn't defend what I was saying. I just told a story. That's what you want?

Why hello there! We are called humans, have you met us before?

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:20:42.093Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because votes come more from the location in the thread than from quality of the post - sheer numbers of people reading it swamp a better post made 400 spots downthread. Also, it puts down in decent fashion a thesis that's getting kicked around a lot and that is rather appealing.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-13T08:50:21.276Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The post where put down the theory this grew from only has 2 points.

I don't think your current post "deserves" as many upvotes as it got, but that other post is just bad. Badly written, badly argued, makes lots of unsupported random claims, like "Voldemort killed Narcissa".

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-04-12T10:38:35.215Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This isn't written any better than my other posts, which commonly stay under 3 points and go negative often enough.

Well, I thought it was!

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-04-12T20:25:28.224Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One factor is that it's a top-level comment to a popular post, and once a top-level comment outcompetes most others it's shown more prominently and read by more people.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-12T12:27:23.677Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe the illusion of transparency doesn't let you see how much clearer this comment [EDIT: I mean the parent comment] is.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T16:02:25.479Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did you just get burned by the Illusion of Transparency while referencing the Illusion of Transparency?

Well. Done.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T12:32:57.854Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're probably right. I have no fucking clue what you're thinking.

comment by Eponymuse · 2012-04-12T20:12:13.610Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I downvoted the previous post because it was a needlessly complicated, poorly justified plan. Crucially, there was little indication of why Voldemort would want to pretend to lose, when he was already winning the war. By contrast, your more recent post is a good analysis of the new insight into Voldemort's history and motivations provided by the latest chapter.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-12T12:37:36.466Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I liked the story you told, I found it interesting so I upvoted (but your post was like at 5 or 6 when I upvoted it, I wouldn't have upvoted it if it was already above 30, I tend to avoid upvoting posts which are already too high, unless they are really wonderful).

I didn't see the first one - I don't read all the comments, depends of my schedule. Maybe since you posted your new one earlier in the thread, when it wasn't too bloated, more people saw it ?

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-11T16:06:07.663Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess he didn't think the villain didn't need to have any kind of history. Maybe he didn't think the villain would matter much or for long. Voldemort was just there for the hero to strike down. That was a mistake, because he lacked a decoy his enemies were eventually able to discover his identity.

Perhaps not so much. We may believe Voldemort to truly be Tom Riddle for the following few reasons.

  • The Order of the Phoenix thinks Voldemort is Tom Riddle.
  • Voldemort is Tom Riddle in canon
  • In Chapter 70, Quirrell, who we are to understand is Voldemort, talks about a witch taking advantage of a muggle man, which is part of Tom Riddle's tragic backstory in cannon.
  • He just can't seem to help himself from punning his damn name, between the references to 'riddles' and his godawful anagram.

But canon doesn't count, this fic diverges strongly in places.

And knowledgeable, otherwise competent characters are wrong about things.

And, most tellingly, we now know that Voldemort in his Quirrell mask has been dropping hints that he is actually your Scion X (or David Monroe or whomever). He could just as easily be falsely hinting at the Riddle identity.

Yes, I am suggesting that the student that opened the Chamber of Secrets in '41 was not Tom Riddle, but someone else. Why pick one patsy, when you could have two? It's just one more murder, hardly anything at all.

This means that Voldemort, whomever he really is, had a backup identity behind 'Voldemort' just like he has a backup identity behind Quirrell. It means that he didn't get discovered back in the '70s. And it means that he's just as slick and awesome and I hope he is, as I wish he is.

Oh, damn. I have far, far too much affection for this character. 84 is my new favorite chapter.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T08:29:24.818Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That sounds unsolvable with only the information we've been given.

If it was another kid in Hogwarts that opened the chamber then why haven't there been any hints in the text to this man behind the man who is also the man behind the other man who is pretending to be the man behind yet another man.

And if it was an adult then also who because there are not hints and how did they get into Hogwarts and the Chamber and I don't think you mean it was someone who was already grown up in 41.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T01:29:25.940Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When Tom realizes that his plan has failed and cannot be made to work in the intended fashion, he exits his hero, stage left. At that point, 75 or so, he doesn't have a good plan to leave the stage as his villain, so he kind of kicks it for a few years, tolerating the limits of his rule and getting what meager entertainment he can out of being a god damned theater antagonist.

This strikes me as the least characteristic part of your idea. Quirrellmort doesn't seem like someone who would have taken a few years kicking it around trying to come up with a new plan.

ETA: I think that for the most part this seems like a pretty likely outline. I think the evidence stacks up in favor of the new character being a dupe of Voldemort, and this strikes me as the most plausible motivation for him to be playing both sides. I think his plan would probably even have been workable in the sense of making the heroic identity the de facto leader of the country, but he called it quits when he realized that the prize for heroism was not being lavished with adulation, but being treated as responsible for being a hero all the time, whereas the prize for being a Dark Lord was fawning obedience. There are all sorts of directions he could have gone from here, including him deciding that the world seems particularly hateful and so why not keep up the villain role, when the benefits are so much better? But spending a few years in an "okay, now what?" slump seems out of character.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T08:13:54.565Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are all sorts of directions he could have gone from here, including him deciding that the world seems particularly hateful and so why not keep up the villain role, when the benefits are so much better? But spending a few years in an "okay, now what?" slump seems out of character.

Yeah, I get that now.

I've amended my suspicion to be that Riddle enjoyed himself in the Voldemort role, for maybe a little less than eight years. I still think he intentionally left the stage and didn't somehow end up on the losing end of a Nuts roll vs.. infant. Tom Riddle bites it in a cutscene? Lame.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T13:30:29.854Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My primary hypothesis is still that getting cindered by Harry was the consequence of some unknown unknown, some event that Voldemort wouldn't have been able to predict in advance by being really good at planning.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T14:51:05.453Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Tom Riddle grew up in the shadow of WWII. He saw much of the Muggle world unite...

Tom didn't want to be Hitler...

In case it's relevant, remember that Hitler was just a muggle pawn of Grindlewald, and the Holocaust existed to fuel Gindlewald's dark rituals.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:27:26.045Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sorry. I don't understand what you're suggesting. Please say more about your point.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T14:17:20.698Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

World War II had a different story in Harry Potter, and it's a bit clearer in MoR. It was sparked by Grindlewald's desire to have dominion over the muggles - the muggle war was just a reflection of the wizarding war going on at the same time. Grindlewald was the real power in Germany, and Hitler just a pawn. The reason Dumbledore couldn't take down Grindlewald until the war was over, was that Hitler was fueling Grindlewald's power using dark rituals involving the blood sacrifice of millions of muggles.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T03:34:43.885Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, that is one of the holes in this thing.

Riddle probably got his idea to exchange heroism for power from somewhere else.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T10:30:19.808Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Holocaust wasn't why Hitler lost.

The world didn't know about the Holocaust and had trouble believing it had happened. Much of the Nazi higher ups didn't know about it. A particular high ranked Nazi officer kept a diary while he was in Nuremburg throughout the trials. Among other things, it records him being told about and shown evidence of the Holocaust, denying it, confronting it, and reconciling it with his beliefs. If I remember correctly he remains loyal to the cause, all except the Holocaust, which he thought was terrible even when he thought it was fake.

Tangent aside, Hitler was hated by many non-Germans before he started losing. He was hated by some of his own people before he lost. He didn't lose because he was hated, he lost because war is decided by logistics, strategy, morale, and luck. Even when his side could keep up the others, it couldn't sustain logistics against giants like Americans and Soviets.

Wait... was that another tangent?

Oh, yeah. So villains act and heroes react, right? Tom wanted to be the hero because he thought people love heroes and promote them to positions of power. And Tom wanted power. So first you make a villain who makes a mess, then you make a hero who rallies the people around himself, cleans up the villain, and sustains his momentum and rally to take over the world!

I guess.

But doesn't have to be about the Holocaust.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-12T10:40:04.431Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted because I don't see where thomblake is supposed to have said that the Holocaust was why Hitler lost, so I don't see what you're responding to.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T13:57:19.348Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I totally don't know what thomblake meant. I just tried to spread the words around and hope they caught some rain.

I'm not REALLY retracting this in that it remains true. But I am taking a different approach.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-11T08:37:51.624Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this is right in broad strokes, but what you call "a few years" is '73 to '81, kind of a long time to "kick it" because your plan went astray.

Furthermore, Quiddle also often talks about his motives in terms of what he found "amusing," "felt like," or "pleasant" (in conversation with Hermione). Then there's this:

"You know, Mr. Potter, if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had come to rule over magical Britain, and built such a place as Azkaban, he would have built it because he enjoyed seeing his enemies suffer. And if instead he began to find their suffering distasteful, why, he would order Azkaban torn down the next day. As for those who did make Azkaban, and those who do not tear it down, while preaching lofty sermons and imagining themselves not to be villains... well, Mr. Potter, I think if I had my choice of taking tea with them, or taking tea with You-Know-Who, I should find my sensibilities less offended by the Dark Lord."

I think he's not quite so given to long-term planning as you imagine.

comment by LucasSloan · 2012-04-11T09:13:41.627Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a difference between using long term planning to develop a power base, and being willing to use your power base to indulge your desires.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-11T09:38:21.381Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So the quote is not the best illustration of Quiddle's character. But does seem to have abandoned the "hero" plan (at least in its initial version) on the basis of what was "more pleasant."

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T08:32:56.850Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you want this quote?

"So -" Hermione's voice sounded strange in the night. "You left your friends behind where they'd be safe, and tried to attack the Dark Wizard all by yourself?"

"Why, no," said Professor Quirrell. "I stopped trying to be a hero, and went off to do something else I found more pleasant."

comment by somervta · 2012-12-18T15:17:04.960Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Furthermore, Quiddle...

Love it!

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T09:48:50.968Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He had to wait for his exit. He could kill off the hero at any time, that's easy. Heroes just die.

But villains need to be vanquished.

comment by LucasSloan · 2012-04-11T09:54:49.198Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You think that someone as competent as Voldemort couldn't have created a faster exit strategy?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T12:51:13.249Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The world was not offering him an opportunity to be vanquished in a fashion that would allow him to escape.

Moody and Dumbledore would be too thorough, and everyone else wasn't good enough to touch him.

Or maybe he had reasons for staying Voldemort until he heard about the 'prophesy' and decided that was a good opportunity.

comment by LucasSloan · 2012-04-11T19:04:22.063Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can think of ways to be vanquished much quicker than he did, especially if he's willing to be reverted to horcrux. Challenge Dumbledore to a duel and lose. Be seen doing some dark ritual, which then goes out of control, killing him. Hell, I'm sure someone as competent as Voldemort could have faked a prophecy about his doom. I don't see why you think that Voldemort wasn't willing to use villainhood to achieve total dominance - he was winning, he would have gotten what he wanted.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T01:40:22.506Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can think of ways to be vanquished much quicker than he did, especially if he's willing to be reverted to horcrux. Challenge Dumbledore to a duel and lose. Be seen doing some dark ritual, which then goes out of control, killing him. Hell, I'm sure someone as competent as Voldemort could have faked a prophecy about his doom.

If I were Voldemort, I wouldn't have waited on that prophesy until I needed to make an exit.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T17:58:51.383Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So in this scenario, why is he dying? Before, we were unsure that his cataplexy was getting worse; I pointed out that on-screen he seems as active or more active than ever. But Bones says: "And you seem to be resting more and more frequently, as time goes on." and she would know. Are we speculating that whatever dupe's body that Riddle stole is breaking down 60-odd years later after Albania?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T08:24:28.948Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So in this scenario, why is he dying?

That is a good question. I don't know why he appears to be dying.

Maybe Riddle was put Scion of X's body on ice when he put an Albania with a nail through it up side his head. Then he trotted it out for a few years in the seventies, then put it back on ice. And it turns out that's not good for a body and so it's kind of falling apart or something.

Maybe Quirrell wants the appearance of weakness, for all the right reasons.

Maybe Scion of X has been alive the whole time, imprisoned in his own usually motionless flesh. And since the only thing he could do was wait there, motionless, he practiced being lethargic. And he became strong and wise in the ways of lethargy, so that Voldemort must ration his own strength and only force Scion of X to action when absolutely necessary.

Maybe when Quirrell is 'resting' he's actually busy in the Dream Place leading the Crunch Rebellion against the Evil Empire of Sogg.

comment by DSimon · 2012-04-16T05:08:22.683Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And he became strong and wise in the ways of lethargy[...]

I will definitely have to put that in my General-Purpose Excuses File. :-)

comment by LucasSloan · 2012-04-11T19:23:36.968Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell's body is in its 30s.

comment by trlkly · 2012-04-24T07:33:55.059Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My interpretation of the book is that the Defense Professor looks just like Quirrell. If this is the case, then maybe it takes more and more out of him to maintain the illusion that he is someone else. Or maybe he actually inhabits the body Quirrell, and Quirrell is slowly fighting back.

Then again, I still have a hard time reading the DP as actually being Voldemort, so take my instincts with a grain of salt.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T08:37:16.297Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe it's the Dark magic, which requires a bit of sacrifice with every use.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T09:05:00.258Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're mixing up Dark magic and ritual magic.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T17:29:10.291Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is remarkably internally consistent and consistent with the evidence available to us.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-04-11T19:09:38.675Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really like your theory of what happened, but have a different idea about Tom's motives. When the hero disappeared, people were already speaking of him as the next Dumbledore. He had two easy paths to world domination. Put yourself in his place and his personality, what would you do? I'd probably get bored and set about creating the only thing I don't have: a worthy adversary. This also explains why Harry Potter is so overpowered.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T01:31:13.380Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Put yourself in his place and his personality, what would you do? I'd probably get bored and set about creating the only thing I don't have: a worthy adversary.

I wouldn't. Sign me up for unworthy adversaries all the way.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T08:58:59.699Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This violates fun theory if the adversaries are really unworthy.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T12:43:38.330Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would do other things for fun than risk losing.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-12T16:17:05.396Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my understanding of fun theory, you have worthy adversaries, but low consequences in case of failure. Like a video game, where if you lose, you lose a few hours of gaming at worse. Not that if you lose, you end up in Azkaban feeding the Dementors.

At least for myself, I like hard games, not easy ones, but I like it when defeat isn't too severe; I do sometimes play games in "iron will" mode (no saving, if you lose, restart all from the beginning), but not often, it's really the upper limit to what I accept when losing.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T10:12:46.962Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

set about creating ... a worthy adversary

Just to put slightly differently what others have already said: We're talking here about a version of Voldemort who has read the Evil Overlord List (or written his own version or something of the kind). It is hard to reconcile either half of that with taking considerable trouble and risk to raise up a "worthy adversary".

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T08:16:14.043Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Asking for a worthy adversary is asking to lose. Quirrell taught his 'worthy adversary' Harry to lose as an attempt to weaken him, not to make him stronger. Harry is just too caught up in his Quirrell worship to see that.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-04-12T09:18:31.182Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pretending to lose can be a good move, and if you are able to play it at the right moment, it makes you stronger.

Did Quirrell ask Harry to accept some unrepairable damage? No. It was only about signalling, and temporary pain (any resulting damage is guaranteed to be healed magically later). Quirrell taught Harry that signalling defeat is not the same thing as being defeated. Just like Voldemort, pretending to be killed by a baby, is not really dead.

(I agree that asking for a worthy adversary is suicidal. Having a sparring partner can be useful, but you should be able to destroy them reliably, when necessary.)

EDIT: Though, you have a good point. Willingness to simulate defeat may reduce emotional barriers against (real) defeat, which in some circumstances could weaken one's resolution to fight. Humans are not perfectly logical; when we do something "as if", it influences our "real" behavior too. That's the essence of "fake it till you make it" self-improvement... or perhaps, in this specific situation, self-weakening.

comment by alex_zag_al · 2012-04-11T13:52:02.150Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is it possible that he disappeared as Tom Riddle not because his plan wasn't working, but because Dumbledore had discovered Voldemort was him?

comment by Eneasz · 2012-04-14T20:40:35.770Z · score: 31 (33 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Am I losing my mind, or was there a change made to Chap 16? I recall this section:

" No, there is exactly one monster which can threaten you once you are fully grown. The single most dangerous monster in all the world, so dangerous that nothing else comes close. The adult wizard. That is the only thing that will still be able to threaten you."

However now it reads:

" No, there is exactly one monster which can threaten you once you are fully grown. The single most dangerous monster in all the world, so dangerous that nothing else comes close. The Dark Wizard. That is the only thing that will still be able to threaten you."

If it was changed... why the change? The original was better, and (perhaps more to the point) more in keeping with Quirrell's character. He wouldn't distinguish between adult and Dark wizards when it comes to threat-to-his-students assessment.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-14T22:00:30.931Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're right. I search the PDF version, and have been told it doesn't receive edits in it's build (currently - though that's the plan for the future).

"The adult wizard." pg. 226

And I agree. I don't like the change either. Thinking that other adult wizards aren't a threat to you unless they're Dark is a horribly mistaken bias in more ways that one.

comment by drethelin · 2012-04-15T06:49:43.482Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Definitely not insane. Do not like this change.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-14T21:07:43.680Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're losing your mind, then either I am too or the nature of your mind-losing is a hallucination about what the chapter says now. I remember the same original text as you do (or, at any rate, the words "the adult wizard" and certainly not "the Dark wizard"). And I strongly agree that the original version is better.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-16T02:31:08.123Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah. I dislike this change. "Dark" makes sense for Quirrell to say for purposes of not sounding too evil, for not sounding like he's encouraging being dangerous. But at that point in the story, it was pretty clear Quirrell thought it was a good thing to be dangerous, and saying "adult" wizard is more consistent with that. It's also more consistent with his decision to call "Defense Against the Dark Arts" "Battle Magic."

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-14T21:21:20.513Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It used to say "adult wizard" yes -- I just confirmed it with an old pdf.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-14T21:17:12.814Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe it's phrased that way in order to be similar to the bit several sentences down:

You are here to learn how to defend yourselves against the Dark Arts. Which means, let us be very clear on this, defending yourselves against Dark Wizards.

That instance of "Dark" makes sense (since they're Dark Arts and not "Adult Arts") and so there is a reason to use "Dark Wizard" throughout.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-15T19:15:26.433Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Best rationalization I can think of, but I still don't approve of the change. Let us remember that Quirrell intends to help Harry become a Dark Wizard, in which case, since Harry is in the classroom, he should include Light Wizards in the class of people who can threaten the students present.

It also makes more sense to say "the adult wizard" since that sentence is the conclusion of a list of species that are dangerous, and "adult" sounds more biological.

Maybe there's an important reason for this change, but otherwise I think this is too much like a composer making inane changes to a piece after it's already written, or like George Lucas messing with the original Star Wars trilogy.

comment by HonoreDB · 2012-04-15T22:42:35.947Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Quirrell is working with an unconventional definition of Dark. Something like "in violent opposition to you."

comment by LKtheGreat · 2012-04-16T19:17:47.446Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That passage, of course, ties into what the Defense Professor says in the latest chapter: "You cannot use the Killing Curse, so the correct tactic is to Apparate away." If I had to work from the premise that the revision is actually related to that, I'd assume it's emphasising the Defense Professor being, in fact, a Dark wizard.

But I agree that from a point of view outside Eliezer's head, it appears to have at best neutral impact, and at worst negative impact on the effect of the passage.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-11T11:05:39.968Z · score: 26 (28 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer, in an edit, just reminded me that Tom Riddle is 65 years old. And from there I got to looking that other ages. Dumbledore is 110. Bahry One-Hand and Mad Eye Moody are each at least ~120. From chapter 39, I got the impression that 150 years old is uncomfortably old (maybe 90 in muggle years) and 200 is unthinkably old (110+ for muggles). So now I'm confused again.

Where are all the old people? What would family trees look like if people really lived to be 120+ regularly? If you're a child you've got two parents, and 4 grandparents, but what about the 8 great grandparents...and the 16 great^2 grandparents...32 great^3 grandparents...64 great^4 grandparents... 128 great^5 grandparents...256 ...512 etc? Plus, imagine the number of children each couple would have if people jumped from 40 fertile years to 80. I could buy that with older ages, people would wait longer to have kids (In canon they mention that it was slightly unusual for people to be having children at 20 years old). That would explain why there aren't 7-10 generations of family at the reunions, but on the other hand, I wouldn't expect Wizards to be big fans of birth control or abortion. Plus, that doesn't explain where all the grandparents are.

So many things don't match up. In retrospect, it seems odd for Lucius Malfoy to be alone in front of the Wizengamot when he ought to have four grandparents roughly Dumbledore's age and two parents at around Voldemort's age (though canonically his father dies of an old age disease prior to 1996...what?). That hearing doesn't seem like the kind of event his family would skip out on. The bureaucracy and government structures don't make sense either. When I first read the story, I thought the Ministry and other power structures were dominated by old fogies, but now I realize that they're damn near children! Plus, education for 7 years makes no sense if you expect to live another hundred; muggles spend 1/5-1/6th of their life in education, but wizards only 1/15th. And heck, how does Harry go to his muggle relatives when he ought to have dozens of still surviving wizard relatives up higher in the family tree?

I suppose the real answers to these questions is that JK Rowling didn't think through the societal implications of living 150+ years old and HPMoR adopted it rather than having to overhaul the entire canon. But that's not quite a satisfying answer. So, can anyone think of any thoughts or theories on how the magical world looks the way it does with regard to age? I'd rather save my suspension of disbelief for birds of fire and talking hats, not have to spend it on census statistics.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-04-11T12:39:36.911Z · score: 17 (19 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In recent history they've had two devastating wars. Plotting and infighting seems perpetual. Most adults spend a reasonable amount of their time using dangerous magic (there was some mention of wizard specific diseases like 'dragon pox' in canon). And everyone in the world can kill you instantly with their wand. So even if their notional life expectancy is high the number of dangers that reduce the population is enormous.

Actually given how easy deadly curses are I'm surprised there are any wizards left... Possibly explains why age correlates with magical power/skill.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-12T06:23:44.209Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually given how easy deadly curses are I'm surprised there are any wizards left... Possibly explains why age correlates with magical power/skill.

Probably for the same reason the existence of guns hasn't resulted in human extinction.

comment by DSimon · 2012-04-16T04:56:36.462Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the other hand, I don't carry a gun on my keychain, but a wizard's wand is used to do everything from insta-death to turning on and off the lights in a room.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-05-25T03:12:50.288Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, not only is casting the killing curse extremely illegal, it's probably beyond the abilities of most wizards anyway. It's said to take powerful magic, and most adult wizards aside from professors and aurors are implied to be inept at even the basics of defensive magic.

I thought it added verisimilitude to the setting, that rather than being on a level far above teenage students after decades of honing their skills, most witches and wizards are fairly incompetent and don't remember most of what they were made to learn in school, much like how most of our population can't win Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T15:11:06.084Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't expect Wizards to be big fans of birth control or abortion.

Are you assuming vaguely medieval tech = Catholic = opposed to birth control and abortion?

The Catholic Church didn't declare that all abortion was murder until the Renaissance, and I don't think there's any reason to think that wizards are generally Catholics. ETA Nor is there any reason to think that Catholics are reliably obedient to Popes.

The simplest explanation might be that wizards (like Tolkien's elves, but less so) just aren't very fertile.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T07:19:04.593Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Church of England, surely.

As an American I can tell you confidently that the wizards and witches of magical Britain have one quality above all others: they are British.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-12T13:50:34.685Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This would explain why religion never comes up in canon.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T16:13:25.895Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It does, a little bit. I think there's one church service, seen from the outside, and some important grave -- Harry's parents? -- has a quotation from the New Testament on it. ("The last enemy to be defeated is death", which of course plenty of not-at-all-religious people would have much sympathy with.) But yes, religion in the UK tends to be rather less conspicuous than in the US.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-04-11T21:21:27.702Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

'Fanon' generally assumes there are relatively simple and well known contraceptive spells, and given the known abilities of magic that would seem a fairly easy thing to create.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T01:12:06.202Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Plus, education for 7 years makes no sense if you expect to live another hundred; muggles spend 1/5-1/6th of their life in education, but wizards only 1/15th

This, at least, does not confuse me. It's not like this is a historical constant, for most of human history most people have spent less.

Anyway, it's implied that vocational training exists after one is finished with one's mandatory education.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-11T16:14:05.168Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't expect Wizards to be big fans of birth control or abortion.

Why not?

There are only thirty hours in a day and every child means greater demands on your time. It's not like they can hire muggles to raise their kids, like affluent muggle families might hire less-affluent folk to look after theirs. And we don't hear about anyone being raised by house elves.

Why wouldn't they want sex without conception?

comment by faul_sname · 2012-04-11T23:54:58.809Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Particularly since there's almost certainly an easy spell for that.

comment by loup-vaillant · 2012-04-12T10:14:52.379Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which seems to be unknown to 7th year students of Hogwarts.

It was hard to muster a proper sense of indignation when you were confronting the same dignified witch who, twelve years and four months earlier, had given both of you two weeks' detention after catching you in the act of conceiving Tracey.

Sigh. Magical education is seriously lacking.

comment by moritz · 2012-04-12T16:15:47.056Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or maybe they simply wanted a child? That can happen at that age, even if it's not all that common in our societies.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-04-12T19:16:53.374Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

True. It's not like having a child at that age will prevent them from going to college or have any particularly negative effects in the HPMORverse.

Edit: I accidentally a word there. Edit 2: And then I the put word in the wrong place.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:33:24.803Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, but you generally don't do the deed somewhere you can get caught if you're actually a serious couple of that sort.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:17:42.518Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wanting a child does not necessitate responsibility.

comment by HonoreDB · 2012-04-13T22:06:30.362Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or you cast the spell after doing the deed, and that one time they were too busy fleeing/claiming this wasn't what it looked like/getting castigated/getting dressed.

...just how many pregnancies has McGonagall caused, anyway?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T10:50:51.432Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps it still has a drawback.

This being a Potterverse it wouldn't be something straightforward like the way a condom insulates against body heat or decreases sensation. It'd be that the semen is magically transported into a nearby container. If you don't have a proper container prepared it ends up somewhere inconvenient like someone's pocket, or outer ear, or mouth. Or that both parties must spend a moment beforehand concentrating on a blue sphere, or the smell of vomit, or the sound of breaking celery. Or maybe it just makes a lady's feet numb.

So some people in some situations skip the contraceptive because they aren't prepared or don't want to deal with the complication.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:32:27.188Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

More likely, parents got offended by the thought of that spell getting taught officially, and the (edit)Davises just missed out on the unofficial version?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:18:48.831Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have we heard of magical Britain being remarkably prudish in either MOR or canon?

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T14:46:13.410Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Remarkably", no. But at a school where kids as young as 11 go, it'll perhaps seem incongruous. And again, we have an example of a couple kids still in highschool conceiving a kid somewhere they got caught at it - if birth control was both easy and well-taught then that's unlikely to have happened.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T03:56:03.511Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had sex ed at that age. I think it was a remarkably unproductive use of time for most of the people in there. But there was a least one girl who was pregnant the next year, so it's possible that it prevented further pregnancy.

Sex education does not prevent all pregnancy any more than driver's education prevents all accidents. Kids both fuck and fuck up.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T02:36:13.969Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Davises.)

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:57:44.552Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Edited.

comment by moritz · 2012-04-12T02:08:14.733Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are only thirty hours in a day and every child means greater demands on your time.

Which is much less of an issue if your own parents and grandparents (and maybe even another generation) are around to dote on your children.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T02:22:16.529Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which is much less of an issue if your own parents and grandparents (and maybe even another generation) are around to dote on your children.

Except they'd also be around to dote on your nieces and nephews (who are also their grandchildren) and the children of your first cousins (since those children would be their great-grandchildren just as much as your own children would be). In fact, because they're subject to multipliers as they go further up the family tree, they have even less time for each child.

This does not make any stronger argument against desiring sex without conception, not does it weaken my "only thirty hours in a day" argument for sex without conception.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-11T11:57:11.486Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) The war 2) Some wizards are more equal than others.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T12:42:45.855Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1a) Also that other war before that one

3) Dumbledore uses his Time Tuner all the time. If he received it in his teens there could be almost twenty five extra years on that airframe.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2012-04-11T16:36:42.592Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Might be a Baby Boom effect, combined with high death rates from the wars. Basically, WWII still has visible effects.

comment by Bluehawk · 2012-04-12T02:12:48.438Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's easy to forget that world events that might have had lasting visible effects in present day might have much bigger lasting effects in a world of extended lifespans and older parenting that is also taking place twenty one years ago.

So I guess what I'm saying is I agree?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T13:16:56.806Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Considering how poor the Weasleys are, most wizards might well use birth control and abortion. Both seem like they should be magically feasible, and wizards might actually know whether fetuses are conscious.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-11T13:53:32.275Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(nods) And the Fetusmouths were driven into isolated seclusion in the early 1200s due to ethical concerns, and also they were really annoying at baby showers.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T15:29:40.797Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And thus did the nine Ancient and Most Noble Houses of Britain become eight.

comment by Bluehawk · 2012-04-12T02:10:08.096Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fetusmouth sounds to me remarkably like a synonym for "babyeater".

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T21:47:08.297Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Weasleys do seem to be more cosmetically poor than anything else. I mean, we're told they're poor, and that they wear shabby clothing and have hand-me-down wands, but they own a big house and land and broomsticks and a car(!) and everyone of age in the family is gainfully employed, often in reasonably respectable and lucrative jobs. Makes you wonder where the money's going.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-12T23:42:12.272Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure, but it could be that while they're hardly desperate, they can't quite run with people who are upper middle class or better. They're getting by, but they don't have much to spare.

comment by LauralH · 2012-04-14T05:52:47.445Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Speaking as the middle of 5 kids - having a bunch of kids close to the same age like that can get expensive, and Molly didn't work.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-26T06:46:41.447Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Beyond what has already been said by other posters, they take vacations all the time. I get that it was probably a narrative technique, to get them out of the way and either keep Ron around or move him away, but it was unbelievably frustrating that they would choose to all go out and have fun before getting Ron a wand that was actually attuned to him, considering how central to their lives wands are.

I'm probably biased both in my love of (the idea of) magic and in my enjoyment in being a homebody, though I'm not sure what that might be called at the moment.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:30:21.897Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For most of the series, they have several school-age children, and many of the employed ones are at least somewhat estranged from the parents. It's not hard to believe that they could be fairly shabby.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-11T21:28:49.556Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I’ve actually seen something on the lines of “interesting potions for girls if you know what I mean”—but though I don’t remember if in canon or MoR.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:28:50.754Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, but even with birth control our families are bigger than that. Perhaps it's just Voldemortality?

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-13T11:29:58.470Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, the Weasleys have a somewhat larger family, despite participating in the war, and they’re somewhat low-status among the magic users. It might be a semi-unconscious cultural thing. Most Slytherins concentrate on building status, or on grooming a heir worthy of it if they have status (and have little love to split), the Ravenclaws are busy reading books, Griffindors are busy heroing like Dumbledore, and Hufflepufs have to pick up all the slack.

But yeah, war is probably the main reason, the older parts of family trees have more branches. (Well, out-of-universe it’s probably just how writing works: you initially concentrate on a few characters, and they have to be diverse so you make them from different backgrounds and families, so you have mostly only-children, but later you need to build up the relationships so you get more complex family trees in the past.)

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:28:00.377Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Kids really aren't that expensive in the grand scheme of things, as long as you don't spoil them too badly. If my great-grandparents could afford to raise a family of 13 during the Depression, then I think any random wizard could afford to have more than a couple.

comment by maia · 2012-04-12T19:06:00.103Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nitpick:

Plus, imagine the number of children each couple would have if people jumped from 40 fertile years to 80.

Why would you think that would happen? Women already regularly outlive their fertile periods in real life. Unless you're also proposing some magical mechanism of fertility increase (and if so, why?), you wouldn't expect fertile periods to increase.

Of course, wizards would have longer fertile periods, but you still bump into the hard limit of how many children witches are willing and able to have.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:16:14.607Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe he is thinking of fertility the way a gamer thinks of health.

Wizards are just healthier. There isn't a solid, hard science fiction explanation for why they heal faster and shrug off harder hits. They just do.

Likewise no attention needs to be paid to the nature of the end of fertility or the resources that run out or the way the odds of viable offspring and safe childbirth start ramping down around in the mid to late twenties in normal females. They just don't in a witch's life.

comment by maia · 2012-04-13T16:20:11.474Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could be, although there is still menopause, which is more what I was thinking about... That seems less attached to a general concept of "health" to me for some reason.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-13T07:22:08.246Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wizards are just healthier. There isn't a solid, hard science fiction explanation for why they heal faster and shrug off harder hits. They just do.

Unlike in Dresdenverse where I just finished reading Butters giving an analysis (when he should have been working out how to escape from zombies!)

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:43:01.010Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unlike in Dresdenverse where I just finished reading Butters giving an analysis

That scene is exactly what I was thinking of.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T15:02:10.294Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd always assumed canon Dumbledore had limited access to the Philosopher's Stone.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T15:13:44.826Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't it stated in Book 1 that both he and Flamel were using the elixir?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-11T15:16:44.798Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, Flamel and his wife were mentioned as the users of the elixir.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-11T21:18:17.753Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As with others, I don't see why they'd oppose birth control. I'd assume magic allowed very good, easy, birth control. After all, Arthur Weasley is known for two things: big family, and tendency to use Muggle techology rather than the superior magic alternative. I'm assuming serious condom malfunction.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-11T21:20:02.419Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why do you find repeated condom malfunction more plausible than wanting a big family?

comment by taelor · 2012-04-16T21:50:49.820Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternately, they just wanted a girl and kept trying until they got one.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-14T08:25:52.150Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because it's the only large family mentioned and the only family that relies on Muggle technology over superior magic (e.g. stitches).

Wasn't deadly serious: I don't know if it's mentioned directly, but it can't be a mistake that it's a family of six boys, then a girl, and then no further children. I've seen that pattern before.

Oddly, that implies that (some) wizards can't/won't sex-select their kids.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-04-22T20:58:18.873Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Minor note- condoms date as a technology from the 1600s. The wizarding world has taken many muggle technologies from well after that (such as door knobs). Wizards would likely have had time to not only make and adopt reliable condoms but use magic to improve them.

comment by wirov · 2012-04-14T20:56:55.451Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well … Arthur's the one who's fond of Muggle technology. Molly didn't really approve of the flying car in the second book and she definitely didn't approve of the stitches, so it's rather unlikely that she'd approve of some Muggle invention made from rubber which Arthur suggests for contraception.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-22T20:40:58.047Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, that. I refer you to my 'not deadly serious' point. It's not that it stands up to scrutiny so much as it's a neat parallel

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T08:58:20.264Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

and the only family that relies on Muggle technology over superior magic (e.g. stitches).

You don't think the stitches were Arthur's idea, do you? Cause they weren't.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-22T20:45:48.549Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The book says him and the healer agree on them: not sure if he came up with the idea but they got his support.

Interesting, the next generation got a more rational form: Fred+George's lockpicking is a great idea, not just for underage magic reasons but because you suspect wizards would cast complex locking charms on things to protect from Aloharama but not actually make the lock itself very secure from a mundane angle. Which has parallels to the sadly rare RPGs that allow you to get round complicated locks that frustrate you rogue by smashing the chest to pieces with a two-handed hammer.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:34:18.336Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because he's not the brightest bulb?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-11T06:05:08.247Z · score: 24 (28 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've edited the birthdate of the person Amelia refers to, to be 1927 - too many people were interpreting that as "She thinks he's Tom Riddle" despite the House incongruence, an interpretation I'd honestly never thought of due to Illusion of Transparency.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-11T11:11:58.492Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're underestimating how quick people are to latch onto a detected pattern at the tiniest bit of evidence, and highly overestimating how quick they're to let go of the pattern they (brilliantly) detected when evidence to the contrary appears.

Any date at around that era will keep making people think she identified him as Tom Riddle, no matter any other evidence to the contrary, unless you explicitly have her mention a different name for him by chapter's end.

If you don't want people to have that confusion by chapter's end, just edit the chapter to have her name him with whatever non-Tom-Riddle name she thinks him to be.

comment by DeevGrape · 2012-04-11T17:29:10.071Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Said by Quirrell, but appropriate to the question of EY publishing the name of the hero: "it is clear he does not wish the fact announced, and has reasons enough for silence. "

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-11T17:50:44.810Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

it is clear he does not wish the fact announced, and has reasons enough for silence. "

Whether true or false, it isn't clear to me. Eliezer has edited chapters in the past for the purposes of clarity/removal of red herrings.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-12T23:58:14.032Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the idea was to hint at Riddle(the Albania reference in particular seems intended for that purpose) and then swerve, and 1927 does that effectively - it's in the right ballpark to make people think of him, but when they go look it up, it's not.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-11T17:47:42.392Z · score: 11 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I recommend checking out what your hints mean in canon, because that's what we have to go off of. The first thing I did when I saw 1926 was head over to the Harry Potter wiki and figure out who was born in 1926. It's Riddle and three of his Death Eater pals, all from Slytherin, of which the obvious option is Riddle. Riddle fits the biographical details you give, with minor modification consistent with the upgrades people get from canon (a MOR Riddle might decide to not murder his family while still in school, for example). The canon rules for Houses appear to be "only Black is Noble and Most Ancient," and so we really don't have any idea which houses are the seven mentioned by Bones, and what the eighth missing house could be. Gaunt is a way better option than, say, Lestrange (where we know Lesath is alive).

In a fanfic, you should expect people to suspect that new characters are canon characters rather than completely new characters, which the person Bones is describing now appears to be (no canon births in 1927).

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-04-14T06:44:17.237Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you - I assumed it was a canon character, and came to this thread to find out who it was.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-11T06:28:18.084Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Facepalm

Of course, if Riddle wanted to create a hero persona for himself, he wouldn't use his real name, especially not when his villain persona's name was an anagram of his real name.

So to create his hero persona, he looked for a dead scion of a Most Ancient House who he could impersonate. In his Voldemort persona, he orders the kidnapping of the Minster of Magic's daughter, then rescues her in his hero persona, &c.

Also solves the problem of why doesn't Bones know Riddle became Voldemort.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T14:02:03.281Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

especially not when his villain persona's name was an anagram of his real name.

I don't think that's an issue. It's a really long anagram - 'I am Lord Voldemort' to 'Tom Marvolo Riddle'. You need his middle name, you need to use 'Tom' rather than 'Thomas', and how many would think of prepending 'I am Lord' to 'Voldemort', especially when 'Lord' is mostly (exclusively?) used by Death Eaters. (Did anyone in the entire world besides Rowling get that anagram before it was published in Book 2? No one in canon but Harry seems to know.)

Remember that folks like Hook would publish hash - I mean, anagram - precommitments to their great scientific discoveries. Against humans without computers, anagrams are pretty effective trapdoor functions. (And that's when you know there's an anagram in the first place.)

EDIT: For 'Tom Marvolo Riddle', the AWAD anagram server says 74,669 possible anagrams. Some are quite ominous, eg. 'Dread Mil Volt Room'.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-04-11T23:44:20.923Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That, and an anagram that long can become almost anything. Exapmles: Armored doll vomit, odd immoral revolt, and my favorite, devil marmot drool. So even with the "marvolo", and even with the knowledge that it anagrams to something you're not going to spontaneously make that association unless you have prior reason to suspect voldemortiness.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T23:51:36.570Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

odd immoral revolt

Of course - it's so obvious in retrospect! And it even encodes a hint about Quirrel's future activities too:

devil marmot drool

(If you squint, his resemblance to a devil marmot is clear.)

comment by gjm · 2012-04-11T15:07:48.716Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In fairness, I think the first anyone heard of "Marvolo" as Riddle's middle niddle -- er, I mean name -- was when he anagrammed it for Harry in the Chamber of Secrets. So it's not a big surprise that no one else guessed the anagram.

comment by HonoreDB · 2012-04-11T19:03:41.141Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, it was a total cheat. That's why I put my anagram in the Dramatis Personae.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T20:16:29.348Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Incidentally, what's happened with that play since I left my comment?

comment by HonoreDB · 2012-04-13T15:18:33.029Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Most of the stuff I was hoping for hasn't panned out thus far. The ebook gets a few downloads each week, mostly as referrals from the HPMoR fan art page.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-13T15:34:36.992Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's too bad. Maybe you should just re-release it for free so you at least get some readers?

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-05-06T01:46:48.764Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The American version definitely says in the flashback, "she lived just long enough to name me -- Tom after my father, Marvolo after my grandfather." (And the book introduced him as T.M. Riddle.) I have no reason to think the British version lacked this info.

comment by gjm · 2012-05-06T19:13:36.753Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Am I misremembering? Isn't that after the point where he anagrammatizes it for Harry in the CoS?

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-05-06T21:54:04.347Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Definitely not. First Riddle uses the diary as a Pensieve-style flashback machine and gives Harry this info, then Ginny steals the diary back, then we get to the CoS climax.

comment by gjm · 2012-05-07T11:03:39.685Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh yes, you're right. So, yeah, a sufficiently ingenious reader might have noticed the (apparent) throwaway comment about the names, noticed that the letters of "Voldemort" are contained in "Tom Marvolo Riddle", and worked out the rest before the big reveal fifty pages later. I remain of the opinion that it's no big surprise if no one did.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-11T07:02:43.764Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah. And checking the Harry Potter wiki, I see I had forgotten just how far the "pureblood" house of Gaunt had fallen in canon.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-12T23:45:55.064Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What house incongruence? Mystery Man was a Slytherin, as was Riddle.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:35:15.539Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He means that Tom Riddle isn't connected to any noble house but Scion of X was. So it is incongruent that people would just to think that Scion of X was Tome Riddle.

Born or married house, not sorted house.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T14:42:11.566Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, I see. He's messed with character backgrounds so much that I figured Gaunt had just been made noble or something, but fair enough.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-11T06:12:45.982Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What House incongruence? They're both Slytherins.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-11T04:55:05.725Z · score: 21 (27 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

EY doesn't seem so fond of Rand, and it's like he's building her up as the great bugaboo of the story. That whole talk with Hermione was one of those "Gault Recruits a Striker" speeches.

If you live in a world where you are punished for what was called Good:

And yet it was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant. To throw every possible obstacle into his way. I was not naive, Miss Granger, I did not expect the power-holders to align themselves with me so quickly - not without something in it for themselves. But their power, too, was threatened; and so I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward."

And rewarded for what was called Evil:

"And it was the strangest thing - the Dark Wizard, that man's dread nemesis - why, those who served him leapt eagerly to their tasks. The Dark Wizard grew crueler toward his followers, and they followed him all the more. Men fought for the chance to serve him, even as those whose lives depended on that other man made free to render his life difficult... I could not understand it, Miss Granger."

What should you do?

Voldemort Shrugged:

"Why, no," said Professor Quirrell. "I stopped trying to be a hero, and went off to do something else I found more pleasant."

At that point, it's hard to complain. But I'm seeing Rand paired with Lord Foul. Consider Harry, Dumbledore, and Quirrell.

Harry: Harry's eyes were very serious. "Hermione, you've told me a lot of times that I look down too much on other people. But if I expected too much of them - if I expected people to get things right - I really would hate them, then.

"No..." said Professor Quirrell. "That was not why I came here. You have made no effort to hide your dislike for me, Miss Granger. I thank you for that lack of pretense, for I much prefer true hate to false love.

Dumbledore: There is evil in this world which knows itself for evil, and hates the good with all its strength. All fair things does it desire to destroy."

The Moral of the Story seems to be Harry finding an answer to the weakness, stupidity, and evil of others besides hating them and destroying them.

You get a lot of interesting passages just by searching for Hate.

The Killing Cure is formed of Pure Hate

And it’s not that I hate this Ron guy,” Harry said, “I just, just...” Harry searched for words. “Don’t see any reason for him to exist?” offered Draco. “Pretty much.”

“Sometimes,” Professor Quirrell said in a voice so quiet it almost wasn’t there, “when this flawed world seems unusually hateful, I wonder whether there might be some other place, far away, where I should have been.

Right now this flawed world seemed unusually hateful. And Harry couldn’t understand Professor Quirrell’s words, it might have been an alien that had spoken, or an Artificial Intelligence, something built along such different lines from Harry that his brain couldn’t be forced to operate in that mode. You couldn’t leave your home planet while it still contained a place like Azkaban. You had to stay and fight.

There’s no light in the place the Dementor takes you, Hermione. No warmth. No caring. It’s somewhere that you can’t even understand happiness. There’s pain, and fear, and those can still drive you. You can hate, and take pleasure in destroying what you hate.

But then something in the world changed, and now you can’t find any great scientists who still think skin color should matter, only loser people like the ones I described to you. Salazar Slytherin made the mistake when everyone else was making it, because he grew up believing it, not because he was desperate for someone to hate.

“I guess I was stupid too,” Draco said. “All this time, all this time I forgot that you must hate the Death Eaters for killing your parents, hate Death Eaters the way I hate Dumbledore.”

“No,” Harry said. “It’s not—it’s not like that, Draco, I, I don’t even know how to explain to you, except to say that a thought like that, wouldn’t,” Harry’s voice choked, “you wouldn’t ever be able to use it, to cast the Patronus Charm...”

Harry remembered it from the night the Dark Lord killed his parents: the cold amusement, the contemptuous laughter, that high-pitched voice of deathly hate.

Fury blazed in Harry then, blazed up like fire, it might have come from where a phoenix now rested on his own shoulder, and it might have come from his own dark side, and the two angers mixed within him, the cold and the hot, and it was a strange voice that said from his throat, “Tell me something. What does a government have to do, what do the voters have to do with their democracy, what do the people of a country have to do, before I ought to decide that I’m not on their side any more?”

The old wizard’s voice was pleading. “And it is possible to oppose the will of your fellows openly or in secret, without hating them, without declaring them evil and enemy! I do not think the people of this country deserve that of you, Harry! And even if some of them did—what of the children, what of the students in Hogwarts, what of the many good people mixed in with the bad?”

“Don’t go!” The voice came in a scream from behind the metal door. “No, no, no, don’t go, don’t take it away, don’t don’t don’t—” Why had Fawkes ever rested on his shoulder? He’d walked away. Fawkes should hate him. Fawkes should hate Dumbledore. He’d walked away. Fawkes should hate everyone—

rage grew in him alongside the self-loathing, a terrible hot wrath / icy cold hatred, for the world which had done that to her / for himself, and in his half-awake state Harry fantasized escapes, fantasized ways out of the moral dilemma,

You have everything now that I wanted then. All that I know of human nature says that I should hate you. And yet I do not. It is a very strange thing.

A couple more that I recalled showing the difference between Harry answer and Quirrells. See the last in particular.

There was a pause at this. Then the boy said, “Professor, I have to ask, when you see something all dark and gloomy, doesn’t it ever occur to you to try and improve it somehow? Like, yes, something goes terribly wrong in people’s heads that makes them think it’s great to torture criminals, but that doesn’t mean they’re truly evil inside; and maybe if you taught them the right things, showed them what they were doing wrong, you could change—” Professor Quirrell laughed, then, and not with the emptiness of before. “Ah, Mr. Potter, sometimes I do forget how very young you are. Sooner you could change the color of the sky.” Another chuckle, this one colder. “And the reason it is easy for you to forgive such fools and think well of them, Mr. Potter, is that you yourself have not been sorely hurt. You will think less fondly of commonplace idiots after the first time their folly costs you something dear.

“I’m certainly becoming a bit frustrated with... whatever’s going wrong in people’s heads.” “Yes,” said that icy voice. “I find it frustrating as well.” “Is there any way to get people not to do that?” said Harry to his teacup. “There is indeed a certain useful spell which solves the problem.” Harry looked up hopefully at that, and saw a cold, cold smile on the Defense Professor’s face. Then Harry got it. “I mean, besides Avada Kedavra.” The Defense Professor laughed. Harry didn’t.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T09:06:16.539Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You should break up your quote blocks with an extra line so they look like separate quotes..

comment by oliverbeatson · 2012-04-11T12:28:38.094Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find some of the most relatable parts of the story to be the vague hero-against-the world / morality allegory, particularly in the dialogue quoted here. I think as much of the micro-morality of the story is Randian in a way that as much of the surface dialogue might paint Rand as a negative colour (if only by showing how ugly her beliefs on the surface, but revealing their purer roots). Harry is basically saying "Yes, everyone is incompetent; woe that they didn't have the luck to be not, and let's try and change that without getting too annoyed". With greater intelligence comes greater ability (and in a sense perceived moral obligation) to restrain or make productive one's hatred towards that which can't be changed or that can't be changed easily. Harry is taking morality as being the extent to which a strength can compensate for weakness in the spirit of creating future strength. The Randian 'strike' is a utilitarian way to achieve Randian values, and not an inherently Randian way or whatever. I don't think it's immediately obvious Harry isn't aiming for Randian values, if perhaps narratively in a way that Ayn Rand would not have imagined - i.e. strength and weakness are much more complexly intertwined.

(It's not obvious either that I'm disagreeing with the parent post.)

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-14T03:11:01.248Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think as much of the micro-morality of the story is Randian in a way that as much of the surface dialogue might paint Rand as a negative colour

Definitely. For me, EY hits some of the exact same buttons that Rand does, though maybe a little harder. In Rand's terms, the Sense of Life is the same. EY's money shots, Harry's internal dialogues, are practically interchangeable with the money shots in Anthem and We The Living, also internal dialogues of the main characters. It's a Nietzschean Yes! to life. I can't think of anyone more similar to either in that respect.

The same sense of life, but they part ways on ideological conclusions. Quirrell as the Big Bad, is busy giving the No Duty to others, free to be an Egoist speech. I don't think we're intended to sympathize. Then EY makes a package deal of an egoistic love of life and it' opposite - Despite, the contempt for life because of it's "imperfections". Reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life, where a different kind of package deal is used to recommend the squashing of George's youthful egoism.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-14T04:38:04.883Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell as the Big Bad, is busy giving the No Duty to others, free to be an Egoist speech. I don't think we're intended to sympathize.

Oops.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T06:34:27.629Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's taken me three passes over the newest posts to figure out that you meant you sympathize with him. Upvoting for (delayed) chuckle.

Do you sympathize with Randian protagonists, too?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-14T08:16:20.275Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you sympathize with Randian protagonists, too?

I doubt it. I'm not familiar with any Randian protagonists but if they act in accord to what I understand of Randian philosophical agenda then their attitude would be gratingly incompatible with my sympathy. From what I understand Randians are have their options artificially constrained in the direction of a particular interpretation of 'selfishness'. Quirrel can do whatever the heck he wants and care about whatever he wants. Doing whatever the heck he wants gets my sympathy and also a certain kind of trust.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-04-11T14:19:28.650Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was thinking of Rand through this entire chapter too, but I dismissed that as a cached thought because of the recent "In Defense of Ayn Rand". Perhaps I shouldn't have.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T01:52:20.968Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the "I quit and did something more fun" bit was very Rand, the rest much less so.

comment by vali · 2012-04-11T07:20:13.189Z · score: -3 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Moral of the Story seems to be Harry finding an answer to the weakness, stupidity, and evil of others besides >hating them and destroying them.

EY has made it his life goal to creating an artificial intelligence that is friendly to humans. A mind that transcends us without hating us. Harry MUST triumph over Quirrel, and he must do so by being more moral, not more intelligent. Because if Harry wins by being smarter, then EY would be conceding that morality is a weakness, or at the very least that strength and strength alone will determine which AI will win. And there would always be that risk that the AI would "grow up" as Quirrel puts it, and realize that "the reason it is easy for you to forgive such fools and think well of them, Mr. Potter, is that you yourself have not been sorely hurt". And something tells me that EY's solution is not to create a being that can't be hurt.

My guess is that "The power that the dark lord knows not" is, in some way, a solution to this problem. Harry will triumph for the same reason EY's friendly AI will (supposedly) triumph. But we will see. I haven't read enough of EY's stuff on friendly AI to know for certain what his solution to the AI problem is, only that he thinks he has one.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T07:49:04.348Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry MUST triumph over Quirrel, and he must do so by being more moral, not more intelligent.

That doesn't sound right. If you're looking for ways Harry could win, why not take Harry's advice and draw up a list of his relative advantages? He does have them - knowledge of superrationality, knowledge of science, ability to empathize with non-psychopaths, to name three - and they're likely to be part of the solution.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T02:06:39.338Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

then EY would be conceding that morality is a weakness, or at the very least that strength and strength alone will determine which AI will win.

I'm pretty sure that he does believe that if an AI goes FOOM, it's going to win, period, moral or no. The idea that an AI would not simply be more preferable, but actually win over another AI on account of being more moral strikes me as, well, rather silly, and not at all in accordance with what I think Eliezer actually believes.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-11T07:34:51.639Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As of last week Eliezer didn't have any plans to include an allegory to FAI, and expected any such allegory to work very badly in story terms ("suck like a black hole").

comment by vali · 2012-04-11T08:00:45.361Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh. I feel a little silly now.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-12T07:21:29.656Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's dawned on me that one of the biggest themes of this fic may be the importance of being able to notice flaws in one's models of other people. Virtually every time something has gone wrong in one of Voldemort's plans, it is because he is weak in this area:

  • Failure to predict how Harry would react to seeing him (as Quirrell) trying to kill an Aurour in Azkaban
  • Failure to predict that Hermione would be suspicious of Mr. Incredibly Suspicious Person
  • Failure to see how far Harry would go to keep Hermione out of Azkaban
  • Failure to talk Hermione into leaving Hogwarts of her own free will
  • The initial failure to predict that people would not treat him very well in his hero role

Then there's Lucius, seeing everything in terms of self-interested plots, and concluding Harry is Voldemort because of it.

And finally, the bit in chapter 81 about how Harry is wiser than either Dumbledore or Voldemort, because he realizes he's able to realize when he doesn't understand people.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T07:28:34.532Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(I think one of those Azkabans should be a Hogwarts.)

There's also the two miscalculations in the speech before Yule- Harry's wish (which I think genuinely caught him by surprise) and Harry's publicly disagreeing with him (likewise).

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-12T07:35:39.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fixed the Azkaban/Hogwarts mistake.

And yes, the Yule speech belongs there as well.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-12T07:38:37.292Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's dawned on me that one of the biggest themes of this fic may be the importance of being able to notice flaws in one's models of other people.

Not that the theme isn't present, but I almost consider that a general theme of fiction. Romeo and Juliet is enabled by the authorities on both sides not having accurate models of their respective scions. Of Mice and Men is about Lenny's inaccuracy in his model of George. Die Hard always ends because the villain does not have an accurate model of John McClane. I'm sure you could write a whole book about Death Note. etc.

While it is present in HPMoR, it doesn't strike me as especially significant any more so than other fiction, compared to the many more overtly rationalist themes already present.

comment by trlkly · 2012-04-24T06:50:39.679Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you are erring when you assume that these are Voldemort's plans. They might be, but I don't think they have to be. The story seems to have deviated quite far from the original story.

In fact, my reading is that Quirrell may actually be some good guy, destroying our expectations from the story. I mean, has his turban even been mentioned?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-24T07:02:40.713Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Chapter 12 (the Welcoming Feast):

The young, thin, nervous man who Harry had first met in the Leaky Cauldron slowly made his way up to the podium, glancing fearfully around in all directions. Harry caught a glimpse of the back of his head, and it looked like Professor Quirrell might already be going bald, despite his seeming youth.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-24T11:36:36.098Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The the first omake in chapter eleven, combined with the "philosophy of fanfiction" in the "more info," at HPMOR.com, strongly suggests that Voldemort is possessing Quirrell, but Quirrell isn't wearing a turban because Voldemort found some smarter method that wouldn't be trivially easy for Rational!Harry to figure out. Other major clues that something is up with Quirrell are:

  • His mysterious illness
  • Chapter 20 strongly hints that he turned the Pioneer Plaque into a horcrux.

And those are just the clues we got in the first 20 chapters. In another comment in this thread, I made a rather long list of clues restricting myself to thinks Harry knows about.

comment by ygert · 2012-11-28T12:07:11.149Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My idea for this is that Voldemort is on the back of Quirrell's head, but then the Quirrellmort composite polyjuiced himself back into Quirrell, so that he doesn't have the huge vulnerability of having a face on the back of his head. (This explains the mystery of why he blocked the polyjuice detection spell that was cast at him at the ministry.)

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-04-24T12:47:26.809Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the other hand, Dumbledore and McGonagall both know some reason that Quirrell's nature is absolutely not to be inquired about by anyone. Dumbledore even evaded the Aurors' question on the subject. If the secret that they are guarding is that Q=V, then either they're all on V's side or they've been jinxed or blackmailed in some way. I don't find any of those possibilities credible. That implies that there is some other secret in play about Quirrell's nature. I don't think there's room for two such secrets, the other one being Q=V.

More likely, Q contains a fragment of V but Q remains in control. Q's lapses into zombieness are a side effect of what it takes to stay in control. Inquiries are dangerous because of the possibility, as with Harry under the Sorting Hat, of awakening the fragment to self-awareness. Q is valuable to Dumbledore and the forces of light because of the insight he can provide into Voldemort's history and how Voldemort thinks. Perhaps control over that piece of V will also be useful for magical reasons.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-17T13:08:30.739Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And finally, the bit in chapter 81 about how Harry is wiser than either Dumbledore or Voldemort, because he realizes he's able to realize when he doesn't understand people.

This is a better interpretation of that bit than I've seen before--I approve.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T07:27:33.797Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Failure to talk Hermione into leaving Azkaban of her own free will

Assuming you meant Hogwarts...

If there is a possession element to this plot, as Dumbledore believes, it may not have been her will she was fighting when she had to clamp her mouth shut to keep it from saying Yes.

comment by Lavode · 2012-04-12T08:04:34.265Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dumbledore explicitly warded her against mental interference as soon as he got her back - Which is presumably why Quirrell didnt use the groundhog day attack again. He only got one try to sway her this time, and while his mental model was more accurate based on the data from the last go.. nope, fail.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T08:20:49.328Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're right.

The old wizard nodded in affirmation. "If any hostile magic is cast on her, or any spirit touches her, I shall know, and come."

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-12T07:34:54.396Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

D'oh, right fixed.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-04-11T18:43:49.977Z · score: 19 (23 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've always had a soft spot for Quirrell. It's made me blind to a lot of his flaws, so I've tried to actively focus on his evil actions and how much I would hate someone doing that to me. But this latest chapter made me love him all over again. Even though I realize it probably contains huge amounts of misrepresentation if not outright lies.

I'm worried I may be turning Bad.

OTOH, this may just be superb writing, to make the villain so completely relate-able. Either way, every time a chapter goes Quirrell-heavy I swoon. Glad we got one in the current arc so I don't have to wait longer.

comment by anotherblackhat · 2012-04-12T02:56:09.325Z · score: 21 (25 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm worried I may be turning Bad.

You need not trouble yourself. Examining Quirrell's actions has merely made you realize how much you would like to have his power. "Bad" is just a label applied by those too weak to seize that power.

Do not fear the dark side - we have cookies!

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T15:33:23.131Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Bad" is just a label applied by those too weak to seize that power.

Um, no. Just because we're evil doesn't mean we have to lie carelessly. Let's leave the Captain Planet villainy to Ferris Bueller (that asshole).

"Bad" in the sense you mean is a label placed on behaviors by individuals or groups who wish to discourage those behaviors, usually because it is beneficial to themselves to suppress those behaviors without regard to the benefit or detriment of others who may engage in those behaviors.. I have to say 'usually' because sometimes they do so for stupid reasons instead of self-interest.

Recognize the behaviors to which labels like 'bad' or 'evil' are likely to be applied, and practice them judiciously. A life well lived is a lift filled with risk, but weigh each carefully, determine to the best of your ability if your 'evil' behaviors are worth the risk and act accordingly. And for the sake of all that is unholy, learn for your damned mistakes.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T16:55:34.147Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

“There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it."

-Lord Voldemort

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T17:12:37.821Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, and look where that got him, eh? Someone's out there arguing that no one could sincerely be that evil, that he's got to be faking it. And that argument got over fifty karma.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-04-12T20:15:26.316Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Bad" in the sense you mean is a label placed on behaviors by individuals or groups who wish to discourage those behaviors, usually for selfish reasons. I have to say 'usually' because sometimes they do so for stupid reasons instead of self-interest.

"Selfish" is a wrong word in this context, for what you mean is person's (idealized) goals/values, which are probably not purely selfish.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T01:39:19.711Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am unsure that I understand your objection to the word, but I will replace it with a complicated phrase to try and be more clear.

And thank you for that link; that is an interesting article. The choice between stubbing my toe and a complete stranger being tortured for fifty years without my knowledge is especially interesting. I experience empathy, so I expect that amount of suffering by another when linked by the petty intimacy of being the person to allow/make it happen will create more suffering for me than would stubbing my toe.

If I would never know, though, if it were wiped from my mind that it happened or that I played a part, then the right choice is the other's torture, not stubbing my own toe. But it is difficult to say so, it is difficult to separate myself-deciding from myself-living-with-it.

Or maybe the suffering-by-empathy at the very point of deciding to sentence the other to the fifty-year oubliette of torture is greater than the direct suffering of stubbing my toe. Curious.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-14T08:50:31.981Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The right choice? Who is it telling you that you've got to have the other person tortured, if you just happen not to feel like it?

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T16:14:38.023Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who is it telling you that you've got to have the other person tortured, if you just happen not to feel like it?

I may not understand what you're asking. Is this an internal family thing? There is only me in here, even if I talk to myself in thought.

The problem I have with the dilemma is that it expects me to separate myself-as-I-answer from myself-as-I-live-with-my-choice. If I had a realistic example, that might help

Scenario 1

me-who-answers : "I empathize with the fifty years of as yet hypothetical suffering of a stranger, and choosing that causes me more pain than I expect to feel from stubbing my toe, so I will choose to stub my toe."

me-who-lives-with-my-choice : "Ow! What the fuck did you do that for?"

me-who-answers : "So a stranger wouldn't suffer torture for fifty years."

stranger : "Yeah, thanks for that. You don't know how much that means to me."

me-who-lives-with-my-choice : "Yeah, you're right. I do not and cannot ever know, so he did not decide that for my sake. He decided it for himself. So, me-who-answers, how's that working out for you?"

me-who-answers : "Oh, I don't exist anymore."

me-who-lives-with-my-choice : "Well fuck you, toe-stubber!"

Scenario 2

me-who-answers : "Despite empathizing with the fifty years of as yet hypothetical suffering of a stranger, I recognize that I am ephemeral and my discomfort with this decision is less important than lasting effects on my successor."

me-who-lives-with-my-choice : whistles ignorantly

stranger : "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-04-15T04:54:28.262Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just because your memory is going to get wiped afterwards does not mean that your on-the-spot preference is worth any less than post-memory-wipe-You's. If you had a choice between being memory wiped, then stubbing your toe; versus taking a powerful kick to the balls now, then being memory wiped, I doubt you would sigh and spread your legs.

If you are gifted (or, in this particular case, cursed) with enough empathy that the very act of deciding to condemn a stranger to torture causes you pain, then I'm not sure you can concoct a hypothetical scenario wherein you can ignore said empathy while retaining your agency and/or identity.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-15T17:24:18.523Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just because your memory is going to get wiped afterwards does not mean that your on-the-spot preference is worth any less than post-memory-wipe-You's.

It really does, though. post-memory-wipe me lasts a lot longer. On-the-spot-me only exists until he decides.

If you had a choice between being memory wiped, then stubbing your toe; versus taking a powerful kick to the balls now, then being memory wiped, I doubt you would sigh and spread your legs.

Whoa, hey now. That's not just pain, that's an indignity. But you're right.

(Apples-to-apples I'd take the worst headache I've ever had if I wouldn't remember it and knew there'd be no long term damage over stubbing my toe in a conventional fashion.)

If you are gifted (or, in this particular case, cursed) with enough empathy that the very act of deciding to condemn a stranger to torture causes you pain, then I'm not sure you can concoct a hypothetical scenario wherein you can ignore said empathy while retaining your agency and/or identity.

I wouldn't call it "pain," but it is an unwelcome experience. Beyond a the risk of retribution or similar consequences, isn't that why you don't hurt the people you can hurt? Aren't there experiences you would not call pain that you'd choose pain over? I get the feeling that I'm missing something obvious, here.

I've got an idea why I was hesitating instead of taking the easy answer in the first place. I think it felt like a trick question and I fixed on the not-remembering part. It was so out of place, so wild that it just had to determine the answer. Like, why would you put that in the question if it wasn't what the question was about?

Acting without remembering has to be irrelevant, it's just too damn far out of scope. I'm never going to appreciate it on a meat level and don't need to plan for making decisions with that caveat. Fuck that noise.

Some skills aren't especially useful outside of the environment that spawned them.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-17T11:51:01.403Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would like to learn why this comment has been penalized..

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-04-15T18:49:19.103Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upon further reflection, I think the question of "how much of the pain/suffering/unpleasantness/etc. from a given even happens on the spot, and how much lingers on in the memory?" has an answer that wildly varies, even for the same individual.

The worst physical pain I ever felt involved a certain surgical operation, but it causes me no discomfort whatsoever to remember it; conversely, I once got stung by an unknown insect while still half-asleep, and the thought still makes me twitch and clutch at my neck. On a more mental level, there are a few seemingly random subjects that make me flinch and feel burning shame whenever brought up, because almost a decade ago I happened to make a fool of myself in conversations that involved them; yet those were by no means the most sorrowful moments of my life, or even the most embarrassing.

So I would consider the question "would you take X pre-memory wipe, or Y post-wipe?" highly dependant on X and Y. And yes, I find myself agreeing that X='condemn a stranger to torture' would be exactly the kind of event that inflicts the majority of its suffering through memory and regret.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-16T01:46:14.301Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On a more mental level, there are a few seemingly random subjects that make me flinch and feel burning shame whenever brought up, because almost a decade ago I happened to make a fool of myself in conversations that involved them; yet those were by no means the most sorrowful moments of my life, or even the most embarrassing.

Regret management seems to get more important with age. The fuckers accumulate.

One thing I do is remind myself, "I want to be the kind of guy who's cool with having done that." And, if possible, "It was an inexpensive lesson that it was good to learn." Do affirmations like that have any impact on your regrets?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T22:21:12.740Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is he actually loyal to his students or Up To Something?.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T09:59:57.610Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could be both. In any case I think it's a fair assumption that Quirrell is always up to something.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-04-12T18:25:48.972Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is driving me crazy.

I never know when he's doing evil or not. This chapter, for example, led me to believe he was doing good at some point of his life. Although my rationalist-beginner-side is screaming at me he is Voldemort or something, I can't help but sympathize with that point.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-13T05:30:24.369Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This chapter, for example, led me to believe he was doing good at some point of his life.

Um, his "good" deed consisted of attempting to set up a fake ultimate hero and getting really pissed of when people didn't fall for it.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-13T12:44:03.231Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We don't actually know that yet. It's only a popular fan theory.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2012-06-26T06:16:57.635Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Velorien should not be downvoted. He asked himself the fundamental question of rationality:

What do I think I know and how do I think I know it?

and the fact of the matter is, we don't know that that's true, it is a falsifiable theory with supporting evidence and multiple proponents but we don't know yet.

Upvoted.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-15T02:57:58.536Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Remember: Quirrell can care about his students any time he likes, because he's not Good.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-15T15:16:01.653Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or perhaps it's more accurately phrased as "I can show up the good guys any time I want to make them look bad, because I'm not constrained by the same fear of ill consequences that they are".

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T08:26:46.721Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think he takes his responsibilities seriously. His evil comes from his condemnation of the weakness, stupidity, cowardice, and irresponsibility of others. He lives up to his standards, but others don't.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T15:35:37.821Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm confident that is how Quirrell is meant to appear. But the villain's real face may be a bit of a riddle.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:28:17.783Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Groan.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T17:12:03.856Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You know you love it.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T19:39:06.658Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do, that's the worst part.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-04-15T03:00:37.923Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree that he takes his responsibilities seriously. But I think his evil comes more from the fact that he almost certainly had some plot in mind when he freed Bellatrix, and the fact that he tried to get Hermione fed to Dementors because he didn't like the influence she was having on Harry.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-15T03:24:49.091Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who doesn't have plots in this book? I hardly think that's a test for evil in this book - more like a test for intelligence.

And we don't know that he tried to get Hermione fed to the Dementors. When I try to read his mind on that point, I think his main goal was to get Harry to turn against the government of magical Britain - and it seemed like a fine success in those terms, at least in the moment.

See previous comment http://lesswrong.com/lw/bfo/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/68tv

Assuming that it was all a Quirrell plot - which I do at this point - he could also have redeemed Hermione at the last minute with some evidence after she was condemned, and his point with magical Britain had been made. And he could get some Good Guy points with Harry for saving Hermione. Maybe not too, but it's hardly certain he would have allowed her to die.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-17T13:22:17.690Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think Hermione plots, at least not outside the wargame.

Also, Quirrell would want her influence to be removed from Harry. Much as I hate to admit it, this would probably have extended to allowing her to die.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-15T05:06:48.768Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who doesn't have plots in this book? I hardly think that's a test for evil in this book - more like a test for intelligence.

Not the best test. Ron is intelligent. Ron does not appear to plot, only form and employ strategy.

Assuming that it was all a Quirrell plot - which I do at this point - he could also have redeemed Hermione at the last minute with some evidence after she was condemned, and his point with magical Britain had been made.

Like he did with Harry against the Dementor.

Like he claimed he intended to do with the auror he threw an AK at.

Like he did in the Draco the Drop Lord Theatre incident. We should be suspicious of that one, as well.

Like he did as Voldemort when he set his Forces of Evil up to self destruct after he left the game, thereby sparing the rest of the world.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T01:40:51.164Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upvoted for letting me know I'm not the only one.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T07:44:41.099Z · score: 19 (23 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the spirit of making people flee screaming out of the room, propelled by a bone-deep terror as if Cthulhu had erupted from the podium:

One thing I really enjoy about HPMoR is how it likes to show intelligent people taking unreasonable-seeming ( = actually reasonable) precautions. Amelia Bones in chapter 84, and also in the Azkaban arc, Dumbledore and Snape and even Minerva on various occasions... not quite sure why but I really enjoy reading that sort of a thing.

comment by Psy-Kosh · 2012-04-11T18:19:10.342Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interestingly enough, that's also why I liked the older seasons of Mythbusters. You'd see much more of the planning/preparation for their tests, including all the safety considerations.

ie, they'd do the usual "don't try this at home", but then you'd actually see just how much planning/etc it takes to do such things properly and safely.

comment by DSimon · 2012-04-16T05:18:06.455Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hm, yeah, I hadn't noticed that. They do still show the engineering and problem-solving process (where they laboriously set up an experiment, run it, and its results turn out to be completely useless), but not really the safety stuff that goes along with it anymore.

Maybe it's because they are running more myths per show now that the build team pretty much does their own separate thing?

comment by elpechos · 2012-04-20T08:14:51.491Z · score: -7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fuck you

comment by elpechos · 2012-04-20T08:14:11.347Z · score: -7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fuck you

comment by Nominull · 2012-04-11T03:54:56.191Z · score: 19 (25 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I needed chocolate to recover from reading this chapter. ;_;

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-11T04:13:30.168Z · score: 21 (29 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You warm my terrible heart.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-11T15:13:43.060Z · score: 17 (21 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"But I -" Her excellent memory helpfully replayed it for the thousandth time, Draco Malfoy telling her with a sneer that she'd never beat him when he wasn't tired, and then proceeding to prove just that, dancing like a duelist between the warded trophies while she frantically scrambled, and dealing the ending blow with a hex that sent her crashing against the wall and drew blood from her cheek - and then - then she'd -

This seems to suggest that her memories of the duel are a fabrication (or the "Draco" she was fighting was someone else under the influence of polyjuice). Draco has no particular reason to further provoke her and was genuinely unsure whether he could beat her. It doesn't seem obvious why anyone would do that if there was going to be a genuine duel anyway, though. Maybe the the genuine memories were just touched up a bit? Alternatively, why might Draco behave as in that memory when there's no one else around? (the behavior would have made more sense for the second, public duel)

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T00:20:55.017Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I notice that the only thing we're told about Hermione's appearance in Chapter 78 is that she has bags under her eyes, no mention of a cut on her cheek.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-12T02:45:56.918Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That seems like the sort of thing wizards would heal as a matter of course.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T02:58:26.180Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not first-years.

[...] even the most trivial healing Charms, if you tried to cast them with wand and incantation, were at least fourth-year spells.

(I'm referring to the scene at breakfast before the arrest.)

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-12T04:41:11.593Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(I'm referring to the scene at breakfast before the arrest.)

Ah, okay. I was thinking at the trial. A slight cut could heal up in the ~eight hours between the fight and breakfast, especially if she managed to sleep, but that does seem like a clue that the memory is fake.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T13:17:17.761Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A slight cut could heal up in the ~eight hours between the fight and breakfast

Really? Papercuts bother me for a couple days at least.

Something about a witch's constitution, perhaps.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-04-12T21:01:36.359Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suggest you reroll. I heal paper cuts in a couple of hours.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T06:47:26.678Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suggest you reroll.

Thanks, but nah. I'm a healthy white male American with a middle class background and an intelligence greater than one standard deviation above the mean. Slow healing wounds are not enough to reroll in the face of the great risk of a less privileged life.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T13:35:53.597Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, you get to pick your race and your class (middle), and assuming you roll 3d6 for stats the odds are at least one of your results will be 14 or better, so none of those attributes are at risk.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T03:31:16.982Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, you get to pick your race and your class (middle)

Pfft

I'd stick with the Human race. I don't like the lack of supplemental material for the others. They're really under developed.

I have serious doubts that class in the sense you use it in could possibly be elective. The spread just doesn't match any decision making process I'd want to relate to.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-12T23:21:05.875Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Papercuts bother me for a couple days at least.

I heal paper cuts in a couple of hours.

Both statements are true of me, depending on what's meant by "heal". Depending on where the papercut is (sensitive place, callus, etc) it might stop bothering me long after it's any risk of bleeding.

I suggest you reroll.

Upvoted for this suggestion.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:16:04.207Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You don't think a pissed-off 12 year old who's fighting a duel for vengeance might be inclined to rub a little salt in the wounds?

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T00:29:10.895Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems to suggest that her memories of the duel are a fabrication (or the "Draco" she was fighting was someone else under the influence of polyjuice). Draco has no particular reason to further provoke her and was genuinely unsure whether he could beat her. It doesn't seem obvious why anyone would do that if there was going to be a genuine duel anyway, though.

Well, the whole obliviate cycle on Hermione took place at a time when the events that led to Draco willingly challenging Hermione to a duel probably could not have been predicted, unless someone caused them deliberately. Draco had no intention of challenging Hermione until his hand was forced by some apparently chance events in a battle that did not have to go that way. So if a third party was planning a duel, that turn of events might not have been in their plans.

Although it raises the question of what they would have done if the battle had not turned out that way, since Hermione probably would not have challenged Draco.

comment by loup-vaillant · 2012-04-12T13:27:30.207Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although it raises the question of what they would have done if the battle had not turned out that way, since Hermione probably would not have challenged Draco.

Possibly nothing, if Quirrell is to blame. That would sound just like him:

"Usse ssensse, boy! Ssupposse I am evil. To end usse of you here iss obvioussly not what I planned. Misssion iss target of opportunity, invented after ssaw your guardian Charm, whole affair meant to be unnoticed, hid when left eating-place. Obvioussly you will ssee persson pretending to be healer on arrival! Go back to eating-place afterward, original plan carriess on undissturbed!"

Although he may have waited for this kind of opportunity to occur. He could also have arranged to increase its daily probability (Hat and Cloak making Hermione paranoid, for instance), without triggering it more directly.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T16:37:42.852Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Obvioussly you will ssee persson pretending to be healer on arrival!

Is... is it not possible to lie in Parseltongue? I mean, we have

"I am not regisstered," hissed the snake. The dark pits of its eyes stared at Harry. "Animaguss musst be regisstered. Penalty is two yearss imprissonment. Will you keep my ssecret, boy?"

"Yess," hissed Harry. "Would never break promisse."

The snake seemed to hold still, as though in shock, and then began to sway again.

and

You ssay nothing, to no one. Give no ssign of expectancy, none. Undersstand?"

Harry nodded.

"Ansswer in sspeech."

"Yess."

"Will do as I ssaid?"

"Yess.

comment by loup-vaillant · 2012-04-12T22:20:57.813Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't think of that. Sounds worth considering. But it doesn't change the fact that pretending to be a healer doesn't prevent being a healer. Quirrell knows that Harry knows it, so to me, "pretending to be healer" doesn't provide meaningful evidence in any direction.

Plus, Quirrell is exploring a hypothetical, here. And the healer could be genuine, and somehow tricked, seduced, or bribed. Now that I think of it, this is even more probable than the false healer hypothesis: a real healer genuinely convinced of doing good is probably both easier to find and more reliable than an actual minion.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T22:34:39.912Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess for me the thing that tips the scales between 'real healer' and 'minion pretending to be a healer' is that I don't think it's actually in Quirrell's interests to deprogram Bellatrix of her loyalty to Voldemort.

Though presumably she is at least competent in regular healing, of the sort needed to get Bella back in fighting trim.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:20:52.695Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Harry explicitly says earlier that he'd say he could be trusted with a secret, even if he couldn't be, because it was never helpful to be ignorant of it. I think his statement there is actually a known lie(albeit not by much, given that he seems to consider Quirrell his third father). 2) I think he was just trying to make things very clear - forcing people to actively say something instead of just passively accepting is an effective way of gauging them.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T03:27:24.208Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry explicitly says earlier that he'd say he could be trusted with a secret, even if he couldn't be, because it was never helpful to be ignorant of it.

I'm going to need a direct quote. The only thing I can think of similar to this is

"All right," Harry said slowly. It was hard to see how having a conversation and being unable to tell anyone could be more constraining than not having it, in which case you also couldn't tell anyone the contents. "I promise."

Not to mention

A secret whose revelation could prove so disastrous that I must ask you to swear - and I do require you to swear it seriously, Harry, whatever you may think of all this - never to tell anyone or anything else."

Harry considered his mother's fifth-year Potions textbook, which, apparently, held a terrible secret.

The problem was that Harry did take that oaths like that very seriously. Any vow was an Unbreakable Vow if made by the right sort of person.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T04:02:03.236Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The first of those was what I was referring to. Apparently it's phrased a bit more softly than I remember, though it certainly displays that mindset. And all the second one says is that honest people keep their word. There's things in the world more important than honesty, Kant be damned.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T04:18:38.646Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

...I don't think it does. I think what we're supposed to take from those passages, plus every other time Harry has made a promise, is that he doesn't make promises with the intent to break them.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T05:16:19.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The latter, yes. The former, no. I think he's basically honest, and as such the statement made in Parselmouth is not a lie, but he's not going to feel himself bound by that promise in extremis.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T05:24:20.024Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Unless Parseltongue is magically binding.) But yeah, of course I agree that Harry doesn't consider keeping his word to be the be-all end-all. For instance, in the course of TSPE there were several times that Harry considered breaking that specific promise and confessing all, and I don't think the fact that he promised not to was ever even brought up in his internal narration- the decisive factor was always the consequences to Quirrell if he did.

But I still disagree quite strongly with

Harry explicitly says earlier that he'd say he could be trusted with a secret, even if he couldn't be, because it was never helpful to be ignorant of it. I think his statement there is actually a known lie

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:18:21.205Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Create enough tension and it'll spring loose somewhere, and I doubt Quirrel much cared where. There's no way that those two(Hermione in particular, given the lack of political training) have enough self-control to hate each other, think that they're scheming at each other, and then do absolutely nothing about it for an extended period.

comment by Scott Alexander (Yvain) · 2012-04-11T11:09:44.913Z · score: 17 (19 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nicholas Flamel (born 1340) could be almost as good a source of ancient spells lost to the Interdict of Merlin as Slytherin's Monster (exact creation date unknown, but Godric Gryffindor was alive in 1202 and Slytherin was a contemporary). He also seems to be dependent on Albus Dumbledore for protection; maybe it's time Dumbledore called in some quid pro quo if he hasn't already?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-11T12:10:54.087Z · score: 22 (24 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nicholas Flamel (born 1340) could be almost as good a source of ancient spells lost to the Interdict of Merlin as Slytherin's Monster

From Chapter 77:

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.

So Dumbledore's already using some of Flamel's knowledge in his efforts against Voldemort.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T14:13:54.913Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He also seems to be dependent on Albus Dumbledore for protection; maybe it's time Dumbledore called in some quid pro quo if he hasn't already?

If Dumbledore had that kind of leverage, he would have used it to either move or destroy the Philosopher's Stone.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-11T08:35:13.459Z · score: 16 (22 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry nodded. " At least nobody's going to try hexing you, not after what the Headmaster said at dinner tonight. Oh, and Ron Weasley came up to me, looking very serious, and told me that if I saw you first, I should tell you that he's sorry for having thought badly of you, and he'll never speak ill of you again."

"Ron believes I'm innocent?" said Hermione.

"Well... he doesn't think you're innocent, per se..."

Ron approves of trying to murder Draco Malfoy?

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T14:59:35.424Z · score: 25 (27 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ron approves of trying to murder Draco Malfoy?

I'm pretty sure even canon Ron would at least say he approves of killing Draco.

comment by taelor · 2012-04-12T03:57:28.238Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I recall correctly, canon!Ron has admitted to fantasizing about murdering Draco on several occasions. The one that comes most readily to mind was in book 4, when they were discussing Durmstrang's location in the far north, and Ron comments wistfully about how easy it would be to push Draco off a glacier and make it look like an accident.

comment by trlkly · 2012-04-24T07:47:12.070Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He does hate him very much, remember.

And your idea makes a lot more sense than min: Ron alone was smart enough to be scared of Hermione-the-murderer that he wanted to get on her good side.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-04-24T08:10:06.861Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Either that, or he's just in love with Hermione, and wants to support her in any way he can.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T09:08:50.616Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's what I thought at first, but that explanation still leaves me confused. Canon!Ron was a good guy, more or less, I can't see EY flattening the character into a mere Malfoy-hater.

I'm sure the anti-Malfoy sentiment helped, but additionally he probably believes one of those poor explanations of what "really happened".

comment by knb · 2012-04-11T10:00:00.102Z · score: 23 (25 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I took it as Ron approving of killing Malfoys. That doesn't seem unreasonable considering their families were on opposite sides of an extremely bloody war within recent memory.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-11T11:29:31.457Z · score: 23 (29 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And that he's twelve.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-11T10:11:13.036Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure canon Ron was good in the sense of regarding slytherins as people. Harry potter has a rather jolly tendency to rank getting people into detention on a simular scale to getting thwm savaged by a hippogriff, particularly in the early books.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-11T13:52:00.778Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I recall that when Harry discovers curses of unknown effect in the Half-Blood Prince's book, the first thing he does is go and try them out on Slytherins to see what they do. In fact, Eliezer references this.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-11T19:13:55.331Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yup. One of several stabs at canon!Harry. And Ron is probably even more extremist anti-Malfoy than Harry. Trying to remember what he says at the point when they end up having to try to save Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle in the Deathly Hallows.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-11T21:29:51.117Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If memory serves, it was, "If we die for them, I'll kill you, Harry!" Said while fleeing fiendfyre on broomsticks.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-11T19:13:53.952Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not exactly like that. It only happens once (not a plural "curses", "Slytherins", ... as you said), against Draco, and it's not Harry cold-bloodly going to try it on Draco, but he does it under anger in a time at which Draco provokes Harry. That was a very unethical and stupid move of Harry, but it was a burst of uncontrolled anger that happened once, not a cold-blood tendency to do it.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-11T20:30:12.577Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, he also tests a toenail-growing curse on either Crabbe or Goyle, and at least one other on a different Slytherin.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T20:53:24.811Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was on Crabbe, and I believe the only other experiment was Harry accidentally casting Levicorpus on Ron in the bedroom.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-12T16:20:18.843Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He did cast curses on other Slytherin during various fights, but I don't think any of those was a test.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-12T16:40:03.008Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry had already attempted a few of the Prince's self-invented spells. There had been a hex that caused toenails to grow alarmingly fast (he had tried this on Crabbe in the corridor, with very entertaining results); a jinx that glued the tongue to the roof of the mouth (which he had twice used, to general applause, on an unsuspecting Argus Filch); and, perhaps most useful of all, Muffliato, a spell that filled the ears of anyone nearby with an unidentifiable buzzing, so that lengthy conversations could be held in class with out being overheard.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-14T08:48:27.745Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And people go around complaining about HJPEV being a bastard.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-14T20:32:45.114Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The difference being that in cannon Harry acts and thinks his age and thus acts immature. In MoR Harry mostly thinks like an adult except he still acts immature.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T09:23:17.314Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And people go around complaining about HPJEV being a bastard.

Why do people use this?

Also, why Harry Potter James Evans Veras?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T10:01:42.771Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait. Wait just one minute.

Can Eliezer edit his posts without leaving an asterisk?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T10:25:37.071Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait. Wait just one minute.

Can Eliezer edit his posts without leaving an asterisk?

Yes. Yes he can. Must be an administrator thing.

I expect he could edit mine, too, if he wanted.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-14T12:25:41.248Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait. Wait just one minute.

Can Eliezer edit his posts without leaving an asterisk?

Yes. Yes he can. Must be an administrator thing.

Do you mean he both can and has done so at least once in the past? That is in poor taste if he has. (And I think I recall the comment in question having the wrong name order the first time I read it.)

Note to self (and others): Assume all Eliezer comments have an asterisk.

(If it is the case that Eliezer can't leave an asterisk even if he chooses to then the fault is of course not his and it should be filed as a bug and change request.)

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T12:50:40.089Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait. Wait just one minute.

Can Eliezer edit his posts without leaving an asterisk?

Yes. Yes he can. Must be an administrator thing.

Do you mean he both can and has done so at least once in the past?

Yes. I am positive that I pasted that line and did not rearrange it.

Note to self (and others): Assume all Eliezer comments have an asterisk.

Either he or someone he strongly influences has administrator access to the site and can change any comment at any time. You either have to trust him or assume that all comments have an asterisk.

Is there supposed to be something especially secure about this place?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-14T13:08:34.699Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Either he or someone he strongly influences has administrator access to the site and can change any comment at any time. You either have to trust him or assume that all comments have an asterisk.

No, I don't - there is no such dichotomy. I really could (and do) expect Eliezer to not edit other people's comments without it being apparent to anyone but at the same time to edit his own comments without leaving an asterisk - because he just did. So instead of taking a small amount of information from the convenience of an asterisk on a given comment I take zero information.

Is there supposed to be something especially secure about this place?

No. If I really (really) wanted to I could hack it myself I expect. I already live in Melbourne (where the Trike developers who work on lesswrong reside). Even discounting my actual computer security knowledge all I'd need is a gun and a ninja outfit. But the expected cost/expected benefit ratio suggests I'm not likely to do that. I similarly don't expect Eliezer to go around editing other people's comments behind our backs. Not because he couldn't if he really wanted to - just because it doesn't seem likely that he'd bother. (He has done so at least once - changed a post title while he was promoting it. He did it without thinking and with good intentions but realized later that it was a total brain fart. A lapse into naivety, not a corruption of power.)

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T13:36:42.948Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I don't - there is no such dichotomy.

Right, sorry. You either have to trust him to some degree or assume that any content may be compromised.

I don't understand all the interest in this. Is there a section of the site where unedited comments carry special weight?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-14T13:40:02.327Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't understand all the interest in this. Is there a section of the site where unedited comments carry special weight?

I saw your comment in the recent comments page and thought the technical question was mildly curious. It's more fun than arguing with people who spam "You're a cult, I'm right!" or "Science doesn't make any sense unless I say it does!" which were the only other things that were going on at the time.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T17:11:00.523Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I started using it because I believed the protagonist is not just an alternate Harry Potter but a truly different person.

(I don't believe that quite as strongly, anymore.)

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T09:35:00.631Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's shorter than "MoR!Harry".

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-14T09:52:59.184Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But harder to spell. HPJEV.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T09:55:39.679Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, and it's Verres, not Veras. What's your point?

I noticed that, I was just answering a different question.

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-14T09:57:30.138Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, if I were comparing it to spelling out the whole name, you'd be right. But I was comparing it to "MoR!Harry". EDIT: Which makes my response relevant to yours.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-14T13:26:59.768Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure canon Ron was good

Couldn't agree more.

comment by Paulovsk · 2012-04-11T10:09:19.098Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And it is likely that he likes her, just as in canon.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-11T13:49:45.808Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Canon!Ron had a lot of time and personal interaction in which to grow to like Hermione. MoR!Ron is in a different house, and much of his interaction with her is informed by her close friendship with Harry, whom he considers Evil. And according to Ron, being friends with Evil is extremely damning in and of itself.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-04-12T03:01:55.801Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, Canon!Ron and Canon!Harry both thought Hermione was a twat until the troll incident.

comment by cultureulterior · 2012-04-11T10:36:22.444Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hat and Cloak might have tried the algorithm on Ron first.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T12:43:30.759Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ron was not a target of interest. Hat and Cloak wanted both Hermione and Draco out of the picture.

comment by Lachann · 2012-04-11T12:07:25.164Z · score: -4 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe he's afraid she'll come after him next.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-12T08:02:36.804Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder how long it'll be till everyone in Hogwarts realizes that the whole recent attempted-murder plot was designed by Quirrel for the sole purpose of having both Slytherin and Ravenclaw win the House Cup at the same time (because when Slytherin and Ravenclaw lose students mid-terms, the school rules are ambiguous about whether the points earned by those students should be counted towards winning the House Cup)

I'm expecting the plot to have also contained as a crucial component a Golden Snitch with a delayed-action memory charm, which will cause the Ministry to overreact by banning Golden Snitches on school grounds, thus fullfilling Harry's wish of Snitch-less Quidditch as well.

I'm only half-joking with the above.

comment by Lavode · 2012-04-12T08:21:20.768Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quidditch really nags me, because the team you are playing with has nearly zero relevance. And it is so unnessesary, even if Rowling desired a position on the team of key importance, the way the snitch works is still wrong - If it was worth zero points, but catching it ended the game, then seekers are still key, they just cannot win entirely on their own anymore, and the job would require more than just "flies fast",

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T13:25:11.600Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or if catching the snitch gave you the option of ending the game or of having it re-released after a short random time. That way a seeker of the losing team could still engage in snitch denial other than trying to crash his counterpart into the ground.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-12T12:20:49.044Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To be honest there is still a small impact of the rest of the team on the game : the Beaters can use the Bludgers against the seekers (so they do interact with seekers and affect their chance of catching the Snitch), and there are occasional cases in which the Quaffle point difference is high enough so the Snitch doesn't decide the game (the final of the World Cup in cannon).

But yes, since the first time I heard about the rules of Quidditch, I was "gah, that just doesn't make sense - make the Snitch worth much less, like 30, at the very least".

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-12T15:02:10.509Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hypothesis: Once upon a time, the wizarding world had no popular sport of its own, and Quidditch was more akin to aerial dueling, a one-on-one contest of skill. Then, someone realised all the various benefits/opportunities offered by popular sports (perhaps by watching the Muggle world), and added extra rules and a team element to give the crowds something to watch while the Seekers continued their long periods of boredom interspersed with sharp bursts of activity.

Quidditch today generates a massive market in terms of matches, merchandise, contracts, celebrity culture etc. - a market that benefits the economy as a whole and certain key segments of it especially. It also serves various other purposes common to team sports, such as channeling the volatile energy of young people, and creating a harmless outlet for tension between countries (harmless in theory, anyway - we don't have riot statistics for the wizarding workl).

Whoever shaped Quidditch into its modern form didn't need a balanced game - they just needed something to fill the sport-shaped gap in wizard society. Such a hypothesis would explain why Quidditch is so poor in game design terms - unbalanced scoring, disproportionately high risk of injury and matches of unpredictable length don't matter quite so much if your goal is to pander to the audience rather than make a fair test of the competitors' skills.

comment by mjr · 2012-04-12T16:38:02.777Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Canonically the situation was quite reversed, the Snitch (or rather it's predecessor, the Snidget) having been introduced to the already existing Quidditch game by a noble's quirk. I doubt this is different for MoR.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-12T16:51:48.614Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alas. I have not read any of the follow-up works, and did not realise that they would persist in demolishing any attempt to inject credibility into the Potterverse.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-17T13:05:56.036Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the canon explanation is about as credible as yours, and they're both pretty good. "A typical competitive ballgame got merged with competitive bird-hunting" is a decent way it could have happened.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T22:43:29.020Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm experimenting with reproducing the sound of the really horrible humming in Mathematica. I haven't changed the duration of notes yet, but I've experimented with trying to make things sound as horribly off-key as possible. I've started out with just changing the pitches of the notes by adding normally-distributed noise. So far the main discovery I've made is that for greater effect, the magnitude of the change should be proportional to the length of the note. Any ideas for things to try?

I'm using MIDI sounds, which are the simplest to set up, but also have the drawback that every pitch must correspond to an integral semitone, which limits how horrible things can sound. Also, what is a good standard MIDI instrument for simulating humming?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T19:53:14.190Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

After several hours of experimentation, I have figured out what the trick is. Quirrell did nothing except hum the same song for four hours. The Auror's mind filled in the rest. After four hours of listening to the same fifty-one notes over and over again, I'd be calling code RJ-L20 too.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T01:11:17.769Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the one hand, I once listened to "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" for three days straight. I had not stopped enjoying it when I stopped listening to it. (My roommates and guests did not share my enthusiasm, but I don't think they ever liked the song.)

On the other hand, while attempting to transfer a customer to the appropriate party I once listened to "Unchained Melody" for almost an hour. I didn't snap (it was a mill of a call center, so public nervous breakdowns were not unheard of), but the piece gained the ability to infuriate me even without the extra hours and fuck-with-your-brain inconsistency.

comment by thescoundrel · 2012-04-11T22:50:45.051Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would think the real key to horrible humming would not be to have it be uniformly horrible, but so close to brilliant that the horrible notes punctuate and pierce the melody so completely that it starts driving you mad- a song filled with unresolved suspensions, minor 2nds where they just should not belong, that then somehow modulate into something which sounds normal just long enough for you to think you are safe, when it collapses again, and the new key is offensive both to the original and to the modulation. This is not just random sounds, this is purposeful song writing, with the intent to unsettle- in my mind, something like sondheim at his most twisted, but without any resolution ever.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T22:58:17.739Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, first we're dealing with variations on a specific tune. The reason I suspect that random variations might work well is that if the probability of a change is sufficiently low, it would have exactly the effect you suggest: mostly the original "Lullaby and Goodnight", but with occasional horrible. Of course, if I were actually a cruel genius, I could do better, but it would be foolish of me to admit to being one.

Another reason random changes might work well is that they are by definition unexpected. If I did something purposeful, it would have a pattern; the real Quirrell might break that pattern by observing his victim's reactions, but not having a pattern at all might also be an interesting thing to try.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T07:01:29.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My music theory is rusty and anyway underdeveloped. But I don't think individual notes can be disturbingly off key. It is the relationship between notes that takes them out of key. A single note of any frequency will produce harmonics with anything in the environment that is capable of responding, and thus create its own meager, on key accompaniment.

I think MIDI keeps you from even approaching the kind of terrible close but not quite right tones you want to reproduce.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-12T23:10:21.388Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Changing one individual note in a monophonic tune absolutely can be horribly off key. Melody is harmony, and harmony is counterpoint; even with a single voice humming, if the tune is "classical" enough your brain understands intuitively where the chord changes are and what the bass line should be.

You don't need microtonal pitches to violently defy people's expectations.

(EDIT: Though you almost certainly do need microtonal pitches to precisely mimic the effects described in the text. But I think you certainly could do something horrible without them.)

comment by thescoundrel · 2012-04-12T13:44:33.184Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think you need to even venture into the world of quarter pitches in order to create horrible humming. To give an idea of a song that twists your expectations of keys and time signatures and melodic progression, and breaks it in specific ways to ramp tension, check the epiphany from sweeney todd.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:35:06.493Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't really notice anything wrong with that. it jumped around a lot, and it wasn't especially good, but it didn't much bother me.

comment by thescoundrel · 2012-04-13T03:45:32.215Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I forget that when I listen to it, I have the background of the story and buildup already, so I start with different expectations- perhaps not the best example.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T04:03:00.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, I've listened to a fair bit of weird proggy music.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T14:01:26.182Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a continuous spectrum of pitch. The character is kind of showing off, like he always kind of is.

He's probably hitting notes that are multiples of irrational numbers when described in Hertz.

Retracted because it seemed the best way to acknowledge the correction: the vast majority of common musical notes are multiples of irrational numbers when described in Hertz.

comment by arundelo · 2012-04-12T14:59:03.912Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

FYI, in the tuning system commonly used for western music, all notes except A are irrational frequencies in hertz. Example: A below middle C is 220 hertz, and middle C is

(220 * (2 ^ (1/12)) ^ 3) hertz ~= 261.6255653006 hertz.

(To go up a half step, you multiply the frequency by the 12th root of 2.)

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:41:47.498Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

At risk of derail, how the hell did they ever get a twelfth root into music?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T04:08:49.065Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We think of intervals between tones as being "the same" when there is a constant ratio between them. For instance, if two notes are an octave apart, the frequency of one is twice the other.

Thus, if we want to divide the octave into twelve semitones (which we do have twelve of: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B) and we want all of these twelve semitones to be the same intervals, then we want each interval to multiply the frequency by 2^(1/12).

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T05:26:52.960Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Every part of that makes sense except for the lack of E# and B#, and why x2 is called an octave. Thanks for the info, and for reminding me why musical theory is one of three fields I have ever given up on learning.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T16:46:11.588Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The reason we avoid E# and B# is to get nice-sounding chords by only using the white keys. This way, the C-E chord has a ratio of 2^(4/12) which is approximately 5/4; the C-F chord has a ratio of 2^(5/12) which is approximately 4/3; and the C-G chord has a ratio of 2^(7/12) which is approximately 3/2.

In fact, before we understood twelfth roots, people used to tune pianos so that the ratios above were exactly 5/4, 4/3, and 3/2. This made different scales sound different. For instance, the C major triad might have notes in the ratios 4:5:6, while a D major triad might have different ratios, close to the above but slightly off.

There's also the question of whether the difference between these makes a difference in the sound. There's two answers to that. On the one hand, it's a standard textbook exercise that the difference between pitches of a note in two different tuning systems is never large enough for the human ear to hear it. So, most of the time, the tuning systems are impossible to distinguish.

On the other hand, there are certain cases in which the human ear can detect very very small differences when a chord is played. To give a simple (though unmusical) example, suppose we played a chord of a 200 Hz note and a 201 Hz note. The human ear, to a first approximation, will hear a single note of approximately 200 Hz. However, the difference between the two notes has a period of 1 second, so what the human ear actually hears is a 200 Hz note whose (EDIT) amplitude wobbles every second. This is very very obvious, it's a first sign of your piano being out of tune, and in different tuning systems it happens to different chords.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-14T21:47:01.858Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The reason we avoid E# and B# is to get nice-sounding chords by only using the white keys.

and only 12 notes per octave. With more notes per octave you can distinguish between F# and Gb without losing much accuracy in the most common keys.

In fact, before we understood twelfth roots, people used to tune pianos so that the ratios above were exactly 5/4, 4/3, and 3/2. This made different scales sound different. For instance, the C major triad might have notes in the ratios 4:5:6, while a D major triad might have different ratios, close to the above but slightly off.

Nitpick: I'm no expert in historical tunings, but AFAIK medieval music used pure fifths, where near-pure major thirds are hard to reach. This became a problem in Renaissance music so keyboard instruments started to favor meantone tunings with more impure fifths, to make 4 fifths modulo octave a better major third in the most common keys. (The video demonstrating the major scale/chords generated by a fifth of 695 cents shows this rationale.) As soon as people began to value pure major thirds in their music the fifths in keyboard music became more tempered. Keyboard tunings with both pure 3/2s and pure 5/4s were not widely used, because of the syntonic comma.

In Renaissance music 12-equal was used for lutes for example, which shows that even though people knew about 12 equal temperament and could approximate 2^(1/12) well they didn't like to use it for keyboard instruments. The tuning of the keyboard gradually changed to accommodate all 12 keys of modern Western music as the style of music started to call for more modulations in circa 18th century. But you are overall correct that different keys in the twelve-tone keyboard sounded different. (even in the 18th century.)

On the one hand, it's a standard textbook exercise that the difference between pitches of a note in two different tuning systems is never large enough for the human ear to hear it. So, most of the time, the tuning systems are impossible to distinguish.

I find it hard to believe this. If these differences were mostly not significant there would be no reason for the existence of different tuning systems. What kinds of differences between tuning systems are you talking about?

comment by gjm · 2012-04-13T22:27:12.698Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

a 200Hz note whose pitch wobbles slightly every second.

Actually it's the amplitude that wobbles, and more than slightly.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T22:56:04.170Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you, edited.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T19:42:26.682Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And I suppose that "the white keys", defined some centuries ago, are a more difficult standard to change than the underlying mathematical assumptions. Right.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-13T22:33:00.082Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, the white keys are far from being an arbitrary set of pitches. Very roughly, they're chosen so that as many combinations of them as possible sound reasonably harmonious together when played on an instrument whose sound has a harmonic spectrum (which applies to most of the tuned instruments used in Western music). I don't mean that someone deliberately sat down and solved the optimization problem, of course, but it turns out that the Western "diatonic scale" (= the white notes) does rather well by that metric. So it's not like we'd particularly want to change the scale for the sake of making either the mathematics or the music sound better.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-13T06:23:41.786Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Notes sound good if they're approximately simple rational multiples of each other. Hence you want your scale to contain multiples.

Since the simplest multiple is x2 we use that for the octave. As for why we break it up into 12 semitones, the reason is that 2^(7/12) is approximately 3/2 and as a bonus 2^(4/2) is a passable approximation to 5/4.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T15:06:35.227Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm referring to the name. What relation does it have to eight?

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-13T15:24:33.848Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eight notes: C D E F G A B C. (People used to not know how to count properly.* I think it comes from not having a clear concept of zero.)

* One can argue that this counting system is no worse than ours, but to do so, one would have to explain why ten octaves is seventy[one] notes.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-13T22:35:02.344Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Similarly, other musical intervals -- i.e., ratios between frequencies -- have names that are all arguably off by one. A "perfect fifth" is, e.g., from C to G. C,D,E,F,G: five notes. So a fifth plus a fifth is (not a tenth but) a ninth.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-13T04:07:19.616Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Look up "equal temperament." There are 12 half-steps in an Octave, after each octave the frequency should double, and the simplest way to arrange it is to make each step a multiplication by h=2^(1/12) so that h^12=2.

Many people report that "natural" intervals like the 3:2 and 4:3 ratio, sound better than the equal temperament approximations, though I don't hear much of a difference myself.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T20:08:39.923Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's really obvious if you expect any decent math to invoke exponents of 2.

comment by thescoundrel · 2012-04-12T14:11:23.329Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The vast majority of humans don't have perfect pitch, so the specific pitch of the note is far less important than the relationships to the notes surrounding them. I agree that he is rather showing off, but unless you spend a very large amount of time ear training, you likely cannot tell when a note is a quarter tone sharp or flat. However, just like there are cycles of notes that always sound amazing together when you run them through variation (see the circle of 5ths), there are notes that sound horrible and jarring. Furthermore, the amount of time it takes to reliable sing quarter tones is ridiculously high- it is something that life long trained musicians cannot do. (Of course there is another discussion about how our formulation of music causes this, but lets set that aside for now.) I think it is far more likely that he has studied a circle of 7th's and 2nd's, or something to that effect- he has created a musical algorithm where the pattern itself is so convoluted, it is not intuitively detected, and the notes/key changes produced so horrible, it wears on the mind.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T16:06:39.751Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Even without a lot of ear training, you can quite likely hear if a note is a quarter-tone out relative to its predecessors and successors.

comment by thescoundrel · 2012-04-12T17:09:11.040Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here is a quarter tone scale. While the changes are detectable right next to each other, much like sight delivers images based on pre-established patterns, so does hearing. When laid out in this fashion, you can hear the quarter tone differences- although to my ears (and I play music professionally, have spent much time in ear training, and love music theory) there are times it sounds like two of the same note is played successively. Move out of this context, into an interval jump, and while those with good relative pitch may think it sounds "pitchy", your mind fills it in to a close note- this is why singers with actual pitch problems still manage to gain a following. Most people cannot hear slightly wrong notes. However, none of this approaches the complexity of actually trying to sing a quarter tone. The amount of vocal training required to sing quarter tones at will is the work of a master musician- much like the the person who can successfully execute slight of hand at the highest level is someone who spends decades in honing their craft.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T20:49:51.254Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just tried some experiments and I find that if I take Brahms's lullaby (which I think is the one Eliezer means by "Lullaby and Goodnight") and flatten a couple of random notes by a quarter-tone, the effect is in most cases extremely obvious. And if I displace each individual pitch by a random amount from a quarter-tone flat to a quarter-tone sharp, then of course some notes are individually detectable as out of tune and some not but the overall effect is agonizing in a way that simply getting some notes wrong couldn't be.

I'm a pretty decent (though strictly amateur) musician and I'm sure many people wouldn't find such errors so obvious (and many would find it more painful than I do).

Anyway, I'm not sure what our argument actually is. The chapter says, in so many words, that Q. is humming notes "not just out of key for the previous phrases but sung at a pitch which does not correspond to any key" which seems to me perfectly explicit: part of what makes the humming so dreadful is that Q. is out of tune as well as humming wrong notes. And yes, the ability to sing accurate quarter-tones is rare and requires work to develop. So are lots of the abilities Q. has.

(Of course that doesn't require that the wrong notes be exactly quarter-tones.)

Python code snippet for anyone who wants to do a similar experiment (warning 1: works only on Windows; warning 2: quality of sound is Quirrell-like):

import random, time, winsound
for (p,d) in [(4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(7,1),(12,2),(11,2),(9,2),(9,2),(7,1),(None,1), (2,1),(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1),(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1),(5,1),(11,1),(9,1),(7,2),(11,2),(12,4)]:
    if p is None: time.sleep(0.2*d)
    else: winsound.Beep(int(440*2**((p+1*(random.random()-0.5))/12.)), 200*d)
comment by ircmaxell · 2012-06-11T03:20:35.724Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's a tweak I made that I think keeps to the spirit.

import random, time, winsound

timebias = 0.2
pitchbias = 0.7
changebias = 0.75

current = [(4.,1.),(5.,1.),(7.,3.),(None,1.), (4.,1.),(5.,1.),(7.,3.),(None,1.),(4.,1.),(7.,1.),(12.,2.),(11.,2.),(9.,2.),(9.,2.),(7.,1.),(None,1.),(2.,1.),(4.,1.),(5.,3.),(None,1.),(2.,1.),(4.,1.),(5.,3.),(None,1.),(2.,1.),(5.,1.),(11.,1.),(9.,1.),(7.,2.),(11.,2.),(12.,4.)]

timeshift = 1;
while 1:
    timeshift = timeshift + timeshift * random.uniform(1 - timebias, 1 + timebias)
    if timeshift > 1.0 + 2.0 * timebias or timeshift < 1.0 - 2.0 * timebias:
        timeshift = random.uniform(1.0 - timebias / 2.0, 1.0 + timebias / 2.0)
    key = random.randrange(0, len(current) - 1)
    if random.random() > changebias:
        if current[key][0] is not None:
            current[key] = (current[key][0] + current[key][0] * random.uniform(-1.0 * pitchbias, pitchbias), current[key][1])
    else:
        current[key] = (current[key][0], current[key][1] + current[key][1] * random.uniform( -1.0 * timebias, timebias))
    time.sleep(random.random())
    for (p,d) in current:
        if p is None: time.sleep(0.2*d * timeshift)
        else: winsound.Beep(int(440*2**(p/12.)), int(200*d*timeshift))

Basically, each loop it tweaks the song slightly from the one before it, randomly. The three different bias settings on the top dictate how the song evolves. But besides just changing the song, the rate of any play varies randomly (according to the timebias as well).

The timebias applies to changes of timing. So the tempo of the play, the rate of change of the length of a note and the length of pauses are all shifted by the timebias randomly. increasing this number will create more dramatic swings in time changes from run to run (as well as the overall bounds of the tempo).

The pitchbias applies to pitch changes. Increasing it will let the algorithm drift from the normal song much faster. Too high will cause obvious swings in notes. Too low, and it'll take forever to get a decently maddening change (but perhaps that's part of the master plan).

The changebias indicates the chance that on a particular loop, the pitch of a random note will change, or if the duration will change. This change is carried on to all future plays (and will have a ripple effect)

The result is quite maddening, as parts of the song will randomly trend back towards the correct notes. And notes you could have sworn were wrong will appear normal later. And back and forth it goes. Just repeating, and changing until you get driven mad (or bored) enough to ^C...

Basically, it's a genetic algorithm without a binding fitness function. Its random changes will just propegate infinitely towards chaos. But for a very long time it will have the "feel" of the original song...

comment by Schroedingers_hat · 2012-04-25T17:39:44.287Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I couldn't help myself. I had to have a go at making it, too.
http://jsfiddle.net/GVTk2/

Didn't check it on anything other than chromium, and I can't guarantee it won't eventually use all your memory and crash.
It's horrible in many ways: switches key, misses the frequency of notes, changes from 2^(1/12) ratio between semitones, pauses at random and changes note length.

Take a listen, there's always a chance it'll stop :D

/edit ambiguity. Come to think of it, skipping notes is the one thing I didn't do. Note that it starts reasonably close to being in tune and slowly degrades.

comment by LauralH · 2013-02-08T01:06:54.443Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is pretty awesomely horrible, all right! ::applause::

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-12T21:48:19.545Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't get this to work in Wine. Could you please put up a recording? Thank you :-)

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T23:04:44.494Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try this instead; it should work on any OS and generate a .wav file you can play. (It's better than putting up a recording because you can play with the parameters, put in your own tune, etc.)

import math, random, struct, wave
from math import sin,cos,exp,pi
filename = '/home/dgerard/something.wav' # replace with something sensible

def add_note(t,p,d,v):
    # t is time in seconds, p is pitch in Hz, d is duration in seconds
    # v is volume in arbitrary (amplitude) units
    i0 = int(44100*t)
    i1 = int(44100*(t+d))
    if len(signal)<i1: signal.extend([0 for i in range(len(signal),i1)])
    for i in range(i0,i1):
        dt = i/44100.-t
        if dt<0.02: f = dt/0.02 # attack: 0..1 over 20ms
        elif dt<0.2: f = exp(-(dt-0.02)/0.18) # decay: 1..1/e over 180ms
        elif dt<d-0.2: f = exp(-1) # sustain: 1/e
        else: f = exp(-1)*(d-dt)/0.2 # release: 1/e..0 over 200ms
        signal[i] += f*v*(sin(2*pi*p*dt)+0.2*sin(6*pi*p*dt)+0.06*sin(10*pi*p*dt))

def save_signal():
    m = max(abs(x) for x in signal)
    d = [int(30000./m*x) for x in signal]
    w = wave.open(filename, "wb")
    w.setparams((1,2,44100,len(signal),'NONE','noncompressed'))
    w.writeframes(''.join(struct.pack('h',x) for x in d))
    w.close()

signal = []
t=0
for (p,d) in [(4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(7,1),(12,2),(11,2),(9,2),(9,2),(7,1),(None,1), (2,1),(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1),(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1),(5,1),(11,1),(9,1),(7,2),(11,2),(12,4)]:
    if p is not None: add_note(t, 440*2**((p+1*(random.random()-0.5))/12.), 0.3*d+0.1, 1)
    t += 0.3*d
save_signal()
comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T23:19:15.273Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is quite Quirrellicious:

signal = []
t=0
for (p,d) in [(4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(7,1),(12,2),(11,2),(9,2),(9,2),(7,1),(None,1), (2,1),(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1),(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1),(5,1),(11,1),(9,1),(7,2),(11,2),(12,4)]:
    if p is not None: add_note(t, 440*2**(((p+random.choice([-1,0,0,0,1]))+random.random())/12.), 0.3*d+0.1, 1)
    t += 0.3*d*math.exp(random.random()*random.random())
save_signal()

It (1) displaces 20% of notes up and 20% of notes down by one semitone, (2) detunes all notes randomly by about +/- a quarter-tone, and (3) inserts random delays, usually quite short but up to a factor of about 1.7 times the length of the preceding note or rest.

[EDITED to add: actually, I think it distorts the pitches just a little too much.]

[FURTHER EDITED: really, it should be tweaked so that when two consecutive notes in the original melody are, say, increasing in pitch, the same is true of the distorted ones. I am too lazy to make this happen. A simpler improvement is to replace the two pitch-diddlings with a single call to random.choice() so that you never get, e.g., a semitone displacement plus a quarter-tone mistuning in the same direction. I also tried making the timbre nastier by putting the partials at non-harmonic frequencies, which does indeed sound quite nasty but not in a particularly hummable way. This doesn't introduce as much nastiness as it would in music with actual harmony in it; one can make even a perfect fifth sound hideously discordant by messing up the spectrum of the notes. See William Sethares's excellent book "Tuning, timbre, spectrum, scale" for more details, though he inexplicably gives more attention to making music sound better rather than worse.]

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T00:37:39.354Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For further fun, get the code to play the lullaby, wait an exponentially distributed time with mean, say, 30 seconds, and then start again with 99% probability.

If you were using this on someone else, starting again would be mandatory. But the only way to build up hope that it will stop in yourself, when you know how the code works, is to add a small chance of stopping.

Edit: upon further consideration, the distribution should be Pareto or something with a similarly heavy tail.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:43:19.158Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please post a recording, for those of us who don't want to have to set up whole programming environments to watch a Youtube video.

comment by fgenj · 2012-04-16T02:50:58.800Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've made a recording with SuperCollider using almost the same algorithm as in the Python script above, here's the link /watch?v=wjZRM6KgGbE.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-16T03:32:56.228Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It loses much of the impact when you intentionally seek it out, I think. The lullaby loop midi I found to be more annoying than the errors.

Still, thanks for posting that - it's certainly interesting.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-16T06:24:46.428Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It loses much of the impact when you intentionally seek it out, I think.

Listening to something is not at all the same as listening to something for seven hours.

comment by fgenj · 2012-04-16T19:45:41.400Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Personally, I find random changes a little disorienting even if I'm expecting them (like a deceptive cadence in a familiar piece). Though this feeling of disorientation is not unpleasant, so a simple loop would be more annoying for me too.

comment by zerker2000 · 2013-01-23T10:17:03.516Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"unavailable": what gives?

comment by Incorrect · 2012-04-13T00:50:33.710Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh well, I guess bad music isn't actually so annoying... I tried it and it didn't bother me at all.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-13T01:30:31.217Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Apparently I'm not quite as good at tormenting people as Lord Voldemort. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-15T03:29:01.987Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't find the result all that unpleasant. Probably because the sound file was still pretty close to what the intervals/notes were "supposed" to be, my brain categorized them into the right categories. It would have been worse if I perceived them as "completely wrong" intervals (as in a seventh instead of a fourth) rather than just "out-of-tune" intevals.

comment by 75th · 2012-04-12T23:20:03.372Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Whooo, that is awesome.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-12T23:17:35.510Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So simple, and yet so awful ... you're onto sheer antimusical gold here.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-12T23:09:46.720Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Awesome. Is this your creation?

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T23:23:05.192Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure that the word "creation" is quite right (except in so far as for some musically-minded people it may bring to mind the other words "representation of chaos") but yes, I'm afraid it is.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-12T20:58:12.224Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just to add: (1) The pointless "1*" is because I experimented with other sizes of error too. (2) A slight modification of this lets you, e.g., have the pitch drift downward by 1/10 of a semitone per note, which for me at least is very noticeable and unpleasant even though each individual interval is OK.

comment by mbrigdan · 2012-04-29T00:24:21.275Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While all of the evil credit of course goes to you, I feel that I have made some neat* modifications:

signal = []
t=0L
pscale=5
pexp=2
transpose = 0
iterations = 10
for ii in range(1,iterations):
    for (p,d) in [(4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(5,1),(7,3),(None,1), (4,1),(7,1),(12,2),(11,2),(9,2),(9,2),(7,1),(None,1), (2,1),(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1), 
(4,1),(5,3),(None,1), (2,1),(5,1),(11,1),(9,1),(7,2),(11,2),(12,4)]:
        if p is not None: 
            add_note(t, random.choice([440*2**(((p+transpose)+random.choice([-1,0,0,0,1]))/12.),440*2**(((p+transpose)+random.random())/12.)]), 0.3*d+0.1, 1)
        t += 0.3*d*math.exp(random.random()*random.random())
    transpose = random.choice([-14, -9, -7, -4.5, -2, -1, 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 4.5, 7, 9, 14]) #transpose up or down
    t += 5*(pexp*((pscale**pexp)/((random.randrange(200,600,1)/100)**(pexp+1)))) #wait a while before repeating
save_signal()

*Where neat is, of course, a synonym for evil

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-12T21:04:49.625Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

See, I'm the sort of person that reads that and wants to buy that record. Probably from the small ads in the back of The Wire.

(Breaking musical rules sufficiently horribly is a well-established way to win at music, even if you're unlikely to get rich from it. Metal Machine Music actually got reissued and people actually bought it.)

comment by 75th · 2012-04-12T23:02:21.396Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure how much music you know, and I'm not sure how much music Mathematica knows, so if this is all Greek or too hard, disregard it all:

Try different diatonic modes and different scales altogether. Switch from Major to Phrygian in the middle of a phrase. Switch to different sets of keys depending on whether consecutive tones are ascending or descending. Use a lot of Locrian mode, it is generally wrong-sounding. Try mapping diatonic scale degrees to octatonic ones somehow, and switch between the two octatonic scales at random. See if you can produce a portamento between two notes, and use it a lot when two notes are separated by only a semitone.

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-04-16T14:23:26.543Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Additionally, switch tunings at random. This would be extremely difficult, but I'd imagine the disorientation caused would be related to how difficult it is. Switch from 12-ET to Pythagorean to Arabic to some obscure Baroque tuning, and base them all on different pitch centres.

comment by gjm · 2012-04-16T20:54:18.468Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When what you're listening to is purely melodic (like humming) I think such differences would either be unnoticeable or indistinguishable from just humming out of tune, to all but the most expert listeners.

A whole Pythagorean comma -- i.e., all the out-of-tune-ness you can get from Pythagorean tuning, crammed into a single interval -- is only about a quarter of a semitone. A quarter-comma meantone "wolf fifth" is actually even worse than this, but it's still only about 1/3 of a semitone.

If you have a computer with Python on it, you could grab the code from my discussion elsewhere in the thread with thescoundrel and experiment; I think you'll find that the sort of tuning-switching you describe would be altogether too subtle to be very effective as psychological warfare. [EDITED to add: in particular, I found that to my ears a quarter-tone error is quite often obtrusively unpleasant but a quarter-semitone is generally no worse than "a bit out of tune".]

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-04-17T09:49:23.923Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm. You're probably right. I've experimented with different tunings but I didn't play anything purely melodic. The effect is probably a lot more apparent when you're dealing with intervals rather than just pitches.

That said, changing the central pitch that the temperament is based around makes the differences bigger again; but that's not too useful as a tool for actually creating this melody. I think it'd be noticeable for the arabic tuning system too; that's extremely different to Western temperaments.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T08:21:56.281Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

EY is one hilarious fellow. He should do standup. The Horrible Humming was just too funny.

And interesting too, because you wonder if it could work.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T09:47:37.304Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Tolerance for rejection is a much harder qualifier to meet for success in standup than being funny is. Just, you know, so you know.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-12T20:06:36.253Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am reminded of the first time Australian musician Lester Vat did his famous show Why Am I A Pie? (there's audio and video there.) He got up on stage at a rock'n'roll pub - it was a "What Is Music?" weird noise festival, but no-one expected this - went up to the microphone, and for forty-five minutes, just repeated the words:

"Why ... am I ... a pie?"
"Why ... am I ... a pie?"
"Why ... am I ... a pie?"

After fifteen minutes people didn't even have the energy left to tell him to fuck off. By twenty minutes people were slamdancing to it.

Repetition. It's powerful stuff.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-04-13T05:50:34.861Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Relevant.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:45:25.235Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

After three minutes, I'd be out of the bar and telling the manager not to expect me back.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T03:57:36.175Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

it was a "What Is Music?" weird noise festival

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T05:28:10.769Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Correction: After I saw the sign, I'd realize that people have far too much time on their hands, and go home without setting foot in the bar.

That said, even the sort of people who go to such events probably have some limits.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T06:33:13.669Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That said, even the sort of people who go to such events probably have some limits.

Yes. It sounds like it takes them twenty minutes to start making the best of things.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-12T16:12:57.552Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Horrible Humming was great in itself, but it felt a bit artificial to me : why didn't the Auror just cast a Quietus charm ? Silencing prisoners with a gag is not that unusual in the Muggle world, and I would definitely except the wizards to use a Quietus charm or equivalent if a prisoner started to bother the Aurors with sound. It's not like Wizard Britain is very respectful of human rights of prisoners and that gags (mundane or magical ones) would be felt a non-acceptable behavior.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T16:18:24.537Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell would probably have sneezed it away, again.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-12T16:38:44.138Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I also really doubt that any police force would let a prisoner resist them that way again and again, they would call reinforcement and break him. Even if he didn't do anything before, just resisting police forces is a criminal in many places, and it would really surprise me if Wizard Britain, with its awful human rights record, would let that go.

Edit : unless there is something much, much deeper at work here. Like Quirrel imperiusing or controlling in another way some high-ranking officers.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T17:01:02.203Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wizarding police have to allow for the fact that some possible prisoners (Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Voldemort) are capable of beating up the whole police department put together. When someone displays surprising power, it makes sense to back off, at least until you're sure you can take him.

comment by kilobug · 2012-04-12T18:01:17.845Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hum, in canon at least, when they try to arrest Dumbledore at the end of tome 5 (HP and the Order of the Phoenix) they don't seem that hesitant to arrest him, as soon as they have proof he's doing something illegal, and they seem quite surprised he escaped.

But that could be a point of divergence between canon and HP:MoR, especially if the head of the Auror is very intelligent in HP:MoR, she could know about not escalating conflicts too easily.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T18:16:47.027Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, MoR has a much more well-thought-through concept of what it means to be a powerful wizard, and the difference between that and a normal wizard.

And even in canon, I'm not sure it makes sense for them to be surprised he could escape- everyone thinks of Dumbledore as the most powerful wizard alive- but they could have conceivably been expecting him not to attempt to resist arrest, because he's generally more law-abiding than that.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T17:03:35.690Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I also really doubt that any police force would let a prisoner resist them that way again and again, they would call reinforcement and break him.

It happens they did not. We know that, because he isn't broken and there's no sign they tried, other than the mention that he has apparently sneezed more than once. Also, he's not under arrest.

The Defense Professor of Hogwarts was being detained, not arrested, not even intimidated.

Magical Britain has a history of exceedingly powerful individuals that the muggle world just doesn't. It is not unreasonable that law enforcement developed differently as a result.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T20:10:54.578Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Listening and watching - monitoring - appears to be part of the job.

Because of the humor, I'm willing to suspend belief a little on realism. It's not a fundamental plot point. But it is funny.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-12T16:55:24.089Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To cast the charm would be effectively to admit defeat before an unarmed prisoner (in a way that calling in a replacement according to standard procedure wouldn't), and also to be roundly mocked by other Aurors if they found out. Or so the Auror in question presumably thought.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-12T20:06:08.005Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Casting the charm is also an admission of defeat.

comment by q4-g03olf · 2012-04-12T02:35:39.545Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might check out a program called Max/MSP if you want to get really deep into this stuff. It handles conversions between MIDI and audio signal pretty elegantly. Other ideas..

You might try making notes that change pitch continuously You might try putting the breaks in parts of the music where we expect it to continue. MIDI "doo" or other synth voice instruments tend to sound pretty maddening on their own without much special effort. Maybe layer in helicopter sounds or applause to simulate breathiness?

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-12T21:03:49.053Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The FluidSynth sound fonts are quite nice within their instruments' usual range, but do try going up or down a bit far for great lulz.

comment by enoonsti · 2012-04-13T05:21:03.365Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just out of curiosity, what's your set-up (MIDI controller, software, etc)? I have an old Oxygen 8, Ableton Live 8, and some VSTs. My music sucks.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-13T07:50:10.380Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

LMMS, a cheap'n'cheerful open source knockoff of FruityLoops. It's basically a toy (e.g., it has no undo. Seriously). But fun.

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-04-16T14:29:37.974Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is might be my favourite comment thread on all of Less Wrong. Terrible pity that the poster left!

EDIT: Semi-relevant.

EDIT 2: I have a great love for some technically awful music that I find still entertains me loads. I inflict The Shaggs on my friends in college every excuse I get.

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-04-12T06:00:55.117Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I was reading that part, all I could think was "Man, I have to try do that..."

I'm using MIDI sounds, which are the simplest to set up, but also have the drawback that every pitch must correspond to an integral semitone, which limits how horrible things can sound.

There are ways around this: a program called Scalar allows you to build microtonally tuned scales and set them up to be controlled by MIDI. Also, Native Instruments' Kontakt allows you to change the tuning of instruments and map the new tuning to a keyboard.

Scalar is free but hard to use: I was never actually able to figure out how to set it up to hear the scales I'd built - but my laptop seems to have a grudge against MIDI devices anyway. Kontakt is a lot easier to use but costs a couple of hundred euro.

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-04-12T10:00:21.970Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also: Most decent DAWs will have a pitch bend function, that might be an easier way again to get around it. I'll check if Reaper can do it, and get back to you. (Also, I might do this myself once the semester is over.)

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-11T03:48:51.391Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yay!

"Not this again!" Minerva said. "Albus, it was You-Know-Who, not you, who marked Harry as his equal. There is no possible way that the prophecy could be talking about you!"

The old wizard nodded, but his eyes still seemed distant, fixed only on the road head.

This is another brick in the wall of the Prophecy and Potter massacre being a setup by Dumbledore.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T02:56:29.656Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not a nail in the coffin? Evidence for and against Dumbledore and Voldemort as authors of the prophecy:

+Dumbledore

  • Was the apparent beneficiary of the prophecy

-Dumbledore

  • Seems to have a world model that includes such entities as "heroes" and "evil", and is ripe for exploitation
  • Gives every outward sign of believing the prophecy is genuine
  • Gave Trelawney a magical clock that's probably a listening device

+Voldemort

  • Was the actual beneficiary of the prophecy, if he pretended to lose
  • Suddenly has a history of setting up both sides of a conflict (My reaction to Ch. 84 was: ...really? You waited until you were half a million words into the fic before introducing this? Really?)
  • Has a history of creating orphaned heroes of destiny
  • Would have been the one who sent Snape to overhear the prophecy
  • Chose Harry and not Neville as his target, then allowed Snape to learn the meaning of the prophecy and that he intended to attack the Potters

-Voldemort

  • Reacted strongly to a mention of prophecy once, possibly because he takes prophecies seriously
  • Could have defeated Dumbledore by conventional means
  • Should not be trying plots as complicated as this one

Quirrell has indicated that he plans to go to war with the Muggles and rule the entire world. If Percent_Carbon is right, and "Tom didn't want to be Hitler. Tom wanted to actually win", he may think that conquering Britain as Voldemort would cost him the larger war. He needs a hero, and his first hero failed. So for eight years afterward, he continued to build up the legend of Voldemort, slowly grinding down the opposition, and then, when all hope seemed lost, a prophecy struck like a bolt of lightning and Voldemort was defeated by a baby in his crib.

On the evidence so far, I've switched to Team Voldemort. You were right the first time. Dumbledore could still be responsible for the Potters being betrayed, because he expected Voldemort to be blindsided by Lily's sacrifice, since "evil cannot ever understand love". The prophecy itself came from Tom. Harry is the Last Scion Redux, but this time his storybook hero status is even more blatant, and he'll rise to power with the insights into rulership that Tom learned as Voldemort. Like creating a "Light Mark".

That's what I think today, anyway. Updating is fun.

comment by see · 2012-04-12T18:12:08.021Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Suddenly has a history of setting up both sides of a conflict

Hmm? We have no good evidence to distinguish between the following two hypotheses:

  • Voldemort was playing both sides of things up until 1973, when he dropped one side for some reason
  • When Voldemort embarked on the Quirrell deception, he knew investigation would reveal that he wasn't actually Quirrell, so he deliberately dropped hints that would deceive investigators into believing he was a hero who, in reality, died back in 1973.

All we know is Quirrell has let hints drop that he was the hero who disappeared. There is no reason to expect that any of his hints are anything other than deliberate lies. If a competent investigation would discover that Qurrell's not really Qurrell, then the deception absolutely requires a second layer to last the year, so people like Bones can feel satisfied that they've discovered "the truth" about Quirrell without suspecting he's Voldemort. The existence of this second-layer deception now does not provide any evidence that the same deception existed eighteen years earlier.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T08:54:54.728Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is no reason to expect that any of his hints are anything other than deliberate lies.

Quirrell certainly talks about the need to act exactly as the person you're impersonating would act. His speech to Hermione would be no evidence at all if it were delivered by someone who practised what Quirrell preaches.

But that isn't Quirrell. Far from putting up a perfect facade, Quirrell's mask is constantly slipping. He "makes a game of lying with truths, playing with words to conceal his meanings in plain sight." His dialogue is peppered with hints to his identity, his past, and his intentions. Almost everything he says about himself is a clue.

His love of the killing curse and his intent to kill. His childhood ambition to become a Dark Lord. The Muggle dojo. The Pioneer plaque. His intention to crush Rita Skeeter. Repeated use of the word 'Riddle'. His willingness to be identified as having eaten 'death'. His wish for Britain to grow strong under a strong leader. The story of Merope's enslavement of Tom Riddle Sr. His theft of Quirrell's body using incredibly dark magic.

I think you've confused the actual character of Quirrell with the master of deception that he claims to be. When he tells Hermione about the time he spent as a hero, that is evidence that what he's relating is a twisted version of the truth. Because it usually is.

Incidentally, while I was collecting links, I discovered that Quirrell foreshadowed this after all.

"It has sometimes amused me to play the part of a hero. Who knows but that You-Know-Who would say the same."

I read this as his saying Voldemort has previously played the part of a hero. And, as above, I think it's probably true. What's your take?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:40:57.192Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm? We have no good evidence to distinguish between the following two hypotheses...

Yeah we do. When EY writes that the heroic Scion of X vanished while traveling Ablania in 45 he is telling the readers that Voldemort took him by making a shout out to what happened to Quirrell in canon.

The Ablanian Shuffle is good evidence.

comment by see · 2012-04-13T19:59:43.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess it depends on your definition of "good". Care to quantify yours?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T04:37:36.899Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess it depends on your definition of "good". Care to quantify yours?

I guess you should quantify your own definition of the word, perhaps in the same post in which you ask someone else to quantify theirs, since you used it first.

I'd say p>0.95 that "Went on a graduation tour abroad and disappeared while visiting Albania." is meant to communicate something to the readers that it does not communicate to the characters.

I'd say p>0.75 that the thing it is meant to communicate is that the hero was compromised by Riddle, like Quirrell was in canon.

I don't expect it to be the same. Voldemort's shade in canon may have had possession capacity that young Tom Riddle did not.

I'd say p>0.5 that the hero was replaced, that Tom Riddle physically played both roles in his own flesh.

Your turn.

comment by see · 2012-04-14T06:36:35.396Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(I asked you to quantify what you meant by "good" because I was suspecting you were treating a probability of, say, 30% as "good", and we were getting our terms crossed. Obviously not.)

I'd say p>0.75 that the thing it is meant to communicate is that the hero was compromised by Riddle, like Quirrell was in canon.

Whereas I'd put that at roughly p=0.25.

I mean, sure, it might be trying to communicate that, but, I've got:

"Reader! She's about to undercover the Defense Professor is Voldemort!" as a message intended to be sent to the reader but not the characters at about p=0.25.

"The heroic Slytherin discovered something about Riddle in Albania in 1945, and spent his time trying to follow up on it. When Voldemort came back openly to Britain, so did he. What the hero learned in 1945, or in the years between 1945-1970, is going to be important to Harry's defeat of Voldemort, and here's the hint that keeps it from coming entirely out of the blue" (or variations of the theme) as about p=0.15

"The 'heroic' Slytherin died in 1945 in a confrontation with Riddle/Voldemort. In 1970, an ambitious person unconnected to Voldemort then tried to exploit the Voldemort's rise as a chance to make himself leader of Britain under the dead man's name, and died or quit in 1973. Voldemort then found it useful to try the same con as a backup for Quirrel." at roughly p=0.15

And, "Eilizer is planning to do something else with it, that I haven't thought of" at about p=0.2

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T07:12:49.703Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fantastic.

I dismiss the bait and switch because the passage does not seem to lay down that tease; p0.8 he would clean out other things that only exist to support his ill conceived tease. There isn't a WHAM paragraph with few words surrounded by white space. It's just not built like a bait and switch shocker.

While reading, I thought that Scion of X did fight Riddle and did as Hermione suggested:

"You left your friends behind where they'd be safe, and tried to attack the Dark Wizard all by yourself?"

And after Voldemort killed him he kept the identity close because things like that can be useful. But I know that I am gullible and literal (p>0.2 that I under value literal interpretations after an alternative is available), so I dismissed that as soon as I thought up an explanation that worked on a more in character plot. p<0.01

I dismiss the unknown, unrelated, unremarked third party because of Conservation of Detail. p<0.01

I don't have any other speculation worth mentioning, so "something else" gets p<0.25.

comment by see · 2012-04-14T07:30:54.142Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If 1970-1973 was a con by Voldemort, why was it given up in 1973? Surely he expected it to take longer than a couple of years to begin with, didn't he?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T08:13:33.520Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"In all honesty," said Professor Quirrell, looking up at the stars, "I still don't understand it. They should have known that their lives depended on that man's success. And yet it was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant. To throw every possible obstacle into his way. I was not naive, Miss Granger, I did not expect the power-holders to align themselves with me so quickly - not without something in it for themselves. But their power, too, was threatened; and so I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward." Professor Quirrell shook his head as though in bemusement. "And it was the strangest thing - the Dark Wizard, that man's dread nemesis - why, those who served him leapt eagerly to their tasks. The Dark Wizard grew crueler toward his followers, and they followed him all the more. Men fought for the chance to serve him, even as those whose lives depended on that other man made free to render his life difficult... I could not understand it, Miss Granger." Professor Quirrell's face was in shadow, as he looked upward. "Perhaps, by taking on himself the curse of action, that man removed it from all others? Was that why they felt free to hinder his battle against the Dark Wizard who would have enslaved them all? Believing men would act in their own interest was not cynicism, it turned out, but sheerest optimism; in reality men do not meet so high a standard. And so in time that one realized he might do better fighting the Dark Wizard alone, than with such followers at his back."

I don't know how long he thought it would take, but it sounds like he had no idea how hard it would suck.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T07:25:00.862Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If EY originally intended the bait and switch, then regretted it, p>0.8 he would clean out other things that only exist to support his ill conceived tease.

What other things?

That is, if the bait-and-switch was intended, he would've had to come up with an actual character that fit all those facts as well, and it seems like "he spent seven years sleeping in the same room as Voldemort" is a non-trivial detail to change.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T08:22:49.466Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If EY originally intended the bait and switch, then regretted it, p>0.8 he would clean out other things that only exist to support his ill conceived tease.

What other things?

The Albanian Shuffle. See says there is a real chance that it is mentioned just to string the reader along and make us think Bones is about to say that Quirrell is Riddle.

"Reader! She's about to undercover the Defense Professor is Voldemort!" as a message intended to be sent to the reader but not the characters at about p=0.25.

I dismiss this because EY changed the date, which comes at the top of the passage, just so readers wouldn't jump to think Bones is talking about Riddle. If EY took such a step to prevent the tease that Bones was about to name Riddle, then I would expect EY would not leave things in that were only there to build up that tease.

So the Albanian Shuffle is dismissively unlikely to be referenced for the sake of making the reader think Bones was about to name Riddle. I really don't know how you could think that in the first place unless you first read that paragraph after already thinking that Bones was going to name Riddle.

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-14T09:01:27.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Before the date change, there was a legitimate chance that the reader would come away from the discussion thinking that the person Bones was describing actually was Riddle, and that both Bones and Quirrell understood her to have been talking about Riddle. Which if unintended is a far greater problem than "thinking Bones was about to name Riddle, then it turns out no". This was, in fact, my reading when I was actually going through the chapter.

(tl;dr: It's not a "tease" that Bones was about to name Riddle that's the problem, the problem is that it wasn't resolved with a clear indication that they're not talking about Riddle)

Changing the date fixes this because the reader can go look it up and realize that it can't be Riddle after all.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T09:18:31.377Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Changing the date fixes this because the reader can go look it up and realize that it can't be Riddle after all.

"OhmygodohmygodOHMYGOD! Bones is going to figure out Quirrell is Voldemort! OHMYGOD! What's he going to do?!?! He's surrounded by aurors, he's in DMLE headquarters!... Oh my GOD! Those aurors are so screwed!!"

looks up Tom Riddle online because that's totally what all readers would do

"Oh, hm. That's not Riddle then. I wonder who it is?"

...

Are you really suggesting that EY means the reader to do this? He said he wasn't going to lie to us anymore. See's low-probability theory of tease and WHAM involves EY lying to his readers, but your take on it that they were supposed to be totally tricked until the look it up online (?!?!) is turns that up to ridiculous levels.

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-14T09:44:11.848Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The fact that the conversation doesn't end with her actually saying Riddle is what would prompt readers to look it up. Are you saying that readers that are still with the fic after eighty chapters haven't learned enough about rationality to take two minutes to verify an assumption after noticing they are confused?

He said he wasn't going to lie to us anymore.

If that meant he couldn't ever make a conversation that seems to be going one way but turns out to be different a few paragraphs later, it would lead to a VERY boring story.

P.S. My point was that the problem that EY fixed was that the obvious thing to check (looking up canon!Riddle's biography) leads to an apparent confirmation.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-14T07:47:03.485Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That would only have changed if the year he started Hogwarts changed, which it did not. The birth date didn't change by a whole year, just from late enough in 1926 to enter Hogwarts in 1938 to early enough in 1927 to enter Hogwarts in that same year.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T07:56:34.602Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. Exactly. That's my point.

(Not sure why you said this.)

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-14T08:37:30.971Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(I lost track of what you were trying to argue, and the comment in isolation seemed to suggest that the non-trivial change had happened. A clause like "so the fact that this was carefully kept constant is evidence in favor of ..." would have helped. )

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T01:59:55.190Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is no reason to expect that any of his hints are anything other than deliberate lies.

On the contrary, the reference to Albania is almost certainly a clue to the reader that the hero was replaced.

comment by see · 2012-04-13T04:01:30.468Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Almost certainly?

It's suggestive, sure, that he showed up from a long disappearance at about the same time as the "First Wizarding War" began. But the year could just be the one he returned at for some other reason, like, say, his Muggle Albanian wife dying.

In the latter case, why 1970? Because, like the original coincidental 1926 birth year, Eliezer was trying to make people go, "'Oh no, is she about to identify Voldemort?' . . . to be contradicted soon after by the Gaunts not exactly being on the Wizengamot or having a patroness grandmother."

Anyway, if you really think it's "almost certain", I'd like to arrange a bet on that. Say, my $5 against your $100?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T04:21:04.530Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You'd lose. Canon!Quirrell was possessed by Voldemort in Albania.

comment by see · 2012-04-13T05:34:44.523Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Canon!Riddle got Ravenclaw's diadem out of a hiding place in Albania circa 1945. Thus the inclusion of all four details — 1926, 1945, Albania, and 1970 — can all be explained as part of the same "Oh no, is she about to identify Riddle/Voldemort?" fake-out that was then deliberately blown up by the inconsistency with the Gaunts.

None of them need a separate cause to explain why Eliezer included them; all of them are explained sufficiently by the author-confirmed fake-out without adding the hypothesis "The hero who showed up in 1970 was a trick by Voldemort."

But if you're so sure I'm wrong, how about I put up my $5 against, say, your $500?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T05:46:52.005Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It would be more like your 1¢ against my empty instant ramen packaging, so no.

If you're that eager to lose money, loserthree can have it.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T17:10:25.515Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you, Pedant One.

I will make three excuses for not taking the gracious offer of $5.00 (pre-tax) from the Holy See of Whereever, then I will give you a real answer.

  • I'm acclimating to your subculture too fast for my taste and don't care to speed things along by participating in your quaint rituals of sacrifice.
  • Five bucks is sufficiently low status that winning would set me back from taking the offer.
  • I have butter on my face.

I kind of lied: the status matter is totally part of the issue. But the real reason is that I have been conditioned to overvalue losses to gambling. I can only play poker by convincing myself it isn't gambling.

Really, though, isn't that gauche? Does it feel right to taunt a stranger with two-thirds of a fast food meal?

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T18:02:17.843Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have butter on my face.

Even Urban Dictionary is no help with this one. What?

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T18:15:00.070Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was totally non sequitur. Also very old. Maybe obscure.

http://www.bash.org/?10739

I think it's still in the top 200 quotes on the site.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T18:18:27.962Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, first google result if I hadn't used quotes. Duh.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T18:22:47.247Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Without confirmation bias, would that actually have helped? I'm certain I don't know what that would look to someone who didn't know what I was going for. But I have the Illusion of Transparency on my mind since I saw someone catch it while trying to help someone with it.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T18:27:14.762Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes - I'd suspect that the phrase as used in the top search result was the canonical version, then search for that instead, and find it had a lot more hits than the quoted original search and the first reference is repeated several times.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T18:33:44.207Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I meant, would that have told you what you originally meant to find out.

Did you only want to know where it came from?

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T18:58:53.945Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I didn't only want to know where it came from.

Yes, it's clear from context in the link that it doesn't mean anything.

comment by see · 2012-04-14T07:10:50.330Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really, though, isn't that gauche? Does it feel right to taunt a stranger with two-thirds of a fast food meal?

Is that really it? Would you have been happier with, say, $20 against $400? I generally think of "almost certain" as indicating p≥0.95; the $5 was driven by the math of keeping your potential loss down.

And, not that I'm asking for you to actually answer, but ask yourself - is it really that you overvalue losses from gambling? If I were offering to put $2,000 up against your $100, would you still refuse because of the exact same chance you'd lose that exact same $100?

(I raised the odds to reflect p≥0.99 for pedanterrific because he implied that I was being a sucker for offering 1-for-20 odds.)

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T15:48:17.518Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I understand you correctly, you're saying that unless I am willing to tie significant amounts of money up for the sake of winning tiny amounts of money, I lack the confidence I claim.

It that didn't have the sound, the feel of a scam with it's a-sure-thing-isn't vibe it'd be a passable bullying tactic for the mathematically adept sort with something to prove. I've pushed people around for a living, so I like to think can appreciate a good push.

Or maybe that scamishness is part of the push?

The mark thinks himself a rational fellow, so he's unlikely to bolt. Bringing money into it makes the mark nervous. The mark mistakes his nervousness about money for doubt about his claim. You capitalize when the mark starts backing down, and claim some petty victory.

Seems like an awful lot of work for a small show, but thanks for the trick. Maybe I'll make something of it.

comment by see · 2012-04-14T20:35:45.977Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you're saying that unless I am willing to tie significant amounts of money up for the sake of winning tiny amounts of money, I lack the confidence I claim.

No, not at all. Not being willing to tie up the money is a perfectly sensible reason to refuse the bet. Opportunity cost isn't remotely connected to confidence levels; that I quite confidently expect a Treasury bond to pay me the promised interest doesn't mean I'd rather spend the money on something else that I value more.

And you certainly don't owe me an explanation of any kind as to why you refuse a bet. You merely owe yourself a good one instead of a bad one.

Seems like an awful lot of work for a small show,

Then it would seem improbable that I'm putting the work in for the small show you identified, no? Not impossible, of course, but maybe you need a better theory of what I was trying to do.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T16:12:33.238Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not saying it can't be used as a status attack the way you're suggesting, but this is a thing people do here. Something about calibrating confidence levels.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T16:31:25.638Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Huh.

Doesn't actually look like fun.

Good for them, though. I'll stick to poker and "status attacks," thanks.

Is there much here on status attacks?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-14T17:20:13.990Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I accepted the bet by ITakeBets, it didn't feel like a status attack -- just that he/she was honestly evaluating the likelihood of the event differently than I was, and so we both had a positive-return expectation given our different models. And I had the odds enough tilted enough away from my confidence levels, so that it worth the bother of betting.

I'd most likely not have accepted a bet from someone that offered it in the way that "see" did though. And I'd not feel the need to offer any excuse other than "No, I don't feel like making a bet with you".

If anyone makes you feel like you're obliged to bet money, just refuse to bet -- you don't have to offer any excuses.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T17:36:13.138Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks. Your reassurance isn't unappreciated.

When the Pedant One used the term 'status attack' instead of push or bully or buffalo, I thought maybe that indicated there were resources on the topic. I love the feeling when I find there is a developed system and language for describing and expanding on something I thought I was familiar with. It's almost always a game-changer.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T18:19:30.567Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a good resource. Actual 'attacks' are a little too Dark Arts-y to get much discussion on LessWrong, though.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T19:31:08.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks. It's a nice list.

No DADA, eh?

Is rationality and a desire for self-improvement supposed to provide defense against Dark Arts as a side effect?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-14T19:39:09.615Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's something, but it would be good if there were more discussion of the topic, yeah.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-04-14T16:13:44.552Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's better than that - the classic con is to make the mark feel like he's putting one over on you.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T16:34:46.391Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is what I meant when I mentioned that a sure thing isn't.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T17:11:32.425Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The author has suggested we pay attention to the Conservation of Detail. With that in mind, the involvement of Albania is enough for almost certainty.

comment by see · 2012-04-13T19:58:46.176Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The detail is already conserved by its known use to try to make the reader suspect Bones is going to discover Quirrell is Riddle/Voldemort. Now the question left is whether Albania is a Chekhov's Boomerang, or whether theories based on it are an example of Epileptic Trees. I know I'm not "almost certain" either way.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T08:03:07.691Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The prophecy itself came from Tom.

So let me follow along. It seems like one extra level to what I've been thinking in terms of plotting.

The whole Voldemort Dark Lord war is just part of a bigger plot. First he creates the Villain of Voldemort. Then he creates a prophecy about a child destined to kill him - the eventual Hero. Dumbledore walks right into it by trying to use the prophecy as a trap to kill Tom, with Lily sacrificing herself in a dark ritual as the trap. So Tom gleefully takes the bait to create his Hero, and either is really diminished, or just goes on vacation for a few years waiting for Harry to get older. But clearly he also does something to Harry - creating the ultra resourceful Dark Side which itself contributes to the Harry Legend. And then Dumbledore grooms his hero as well, because he believes that he is destined to be the Hero because of what Voldemort has done to him.

IN the end, he'll lose to Harry again, once Harry is well on his way to being the Light Lord, but he'll upload into Harry and become the Hero ruler instead of the Dark Lord, until he uses up Harry's body. The end.

Another point in favor of this is Quirrell's talk with Harry after the bully climax, where he said Harry has everything Quirrell had ever wanted - the love, fear, respect, and admiration of everyone in school. This is exactly what he is after again - to rule and be feared, loved, respected, and admired.

You may or may not be going for the Upload bit.

That's a little bit of an evolution for me. I considered taking over Good Harry as a target of opportunity for Voldemort. That even the Voldemort persona is part of the scheme is new.

But I've got a new shiny toy. Evil for the Sake of Evil. In his contempt for the stupidity and weakness of people, I have a hard time seeing him even wanting to be the Hero anymore. He's now the Joker. He's Lord Foul - Corruption. He wants to corrupt Good. Corrupt Dumbledore into things like killing Narcissa. Corrupt Harry into being a Dark Lord. Corrupt Hermione and turn her away from Good. He wants Evil to be taken as Good. Then maybe he takes over.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-04-12T10:48:11.003Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He wants Evil to be taken as Good.

I think it's the other way: he wants good people to be seen as fallible and fallen.

My model of him is like: "So when I tried to be the hero, people disrespected me, but for some reason the same people respect Dumbledore, Hermione, Harry. Why?! Oh, they are probably better at signalling. So let's manipulate them into difficult situations where even if they choose good, it will either ruin them or send bad signals."

He does not want to redefine the words with capital letters. That's a fool's game. He is just jealous that other people succeeded in having a good image, where he failed despite his cool plans. He wants good people to have bad image, so that he can become a person with the best image, which is his preferred way to rule the world; probably because it seems safer in long run than being an evil overlord.

I believe his frustration at his inability to become a credible hero. But at least he is learning. He has learned that "a single super-heroic action" is not a good plan, so now he is trying "a child with magical destiny" plan. He cynically believed that he could fool all people; now he is even more cynical, because he believes that he cannot fool them by something that makes sense (killing a few Death Eaters and saving a princess? meh.), but could do it by a superstition (to kill Voldemort while being a baby? cool, and nobody suspects anything!).

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-11T15:42:22.194Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some time after Chapter 38 showed us that Lucius thinks HJPEV is Voldemort, I took his position seriously and looked over the rest of the story.

If Voldemort is the hero, what is Quirrell? I figured he was the Basilisk. And if Quirrell was not the antagonist, who was? I figured it was Dumbledore because the opposite of rational is insane, not stupid.

I now think Quirrell is Voldemort and Dumbledore is not especially insane, but I wish I had thought to reinterpret the prophesy without Voldemort as the obvious bad guy back then. There is so much potential there.

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-11T03:47:33.392Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why wasn't one of the first things Harry did when returning from the trial exposing Hermione to the light of the True Patronus while she was still unconscious (it looks like it didn't happen at least)? He already knows it restores recent Dementor damage, has a plausible reason to know in that he experienced it himself under Dumbledore's eyes and could have told Dumbledore to secure his cooperation. Is his anger at Dumbledore getting in the way?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-11T03:52:15.162Z · score: 32 (34 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since I don't anticipate getting a chance to point it out inside the fic itself, and the hint is unreasonably subtle:

When Hermione woke the third time (though it felt like she'd only closed her eyes for a moment) the Sun was even lower in the sky, almost fully set. She felt a little more alive and, strangely, even more exhausted. This time it was Professor Flitwick who was standing next to her bed and shaking her shoulder, a tray of steaming food floating next to him. For some reason she'd thought Harry Potter ought to be leaning over her bedside, but he wasn't there. Had she dreamed that? She couldn't remember dreaming.

Harry didn't think of it instantly, but given a little time...

comment by Merdinus · 2012-04-12T03:04:01.781Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Possibly a rubbish first post, but this highlight draws attention to something rather misleading: she was more exhausted? Reading that originally rang bells in my head at the same pitch as Hermione being memory-charmed. Then, I played with the idea that Harry taught her the True Patronus then obliviated her, for all of two seconds. Mind circles.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-04-20T14:57:45.395Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seeing this before the parent, I thought you meant kissing, which worked on Harry when he was demented, and references fairy tales.

comment by purpleposeidon · 2012-04-11T07:11:31.040Z · score: -6 (28 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Disclaimer: Terrible omake ahead.

She felt a little more alive and, strangely, even more exhausted.

Isn't Hermione a little young for that? And how could she manage to obliviate Harry's patronus afterwards?

comment by Anubhav · 2012-04-11T11:47:54.704Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why on earth is this in the negative? We downvote bad jokes now?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-11T12:01:01.393Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We downvote bad jokes now?

As one of the downvoters, haven't we always downvoted bad jokes?

This was a bad joke, not in the sense of inappropriateness (a similar but better joke at http://lesswrong.com/lw/ams/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/61ew was heavily upvoted), but in the sense of being strained, weak, and largely unfunny.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-11T23:52:14.121Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you, by the way.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-04-11T12:18:25.148Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As one of the downvoters, haven't we always downvoted bad jokes?

Somehow I haven't seen that happen in the ~3 months I've been here.

I'll take your word for it, though.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T13:38:27.809Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been here since the beginning, and yes, good jokes get upvoted, bad jokes get downvoted. 'good' and 'bad' are of course highly subjective.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-04-11T23:58:07.347Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Things with negative karma get downvoted even more. You hadn't noticed?

Edit: perhaps not. It actually took longer to go from -2 to -3 than 0 to -2. I think we need more data points.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-11T06:29:10.324Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And I hope the next thing he does is to teach her how to cast the True Patronus.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T08:05:12.755Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How confident are we that it's even teachable?

Perhaps the thing she should be taught is Occlumency, for both her own sake and so that she can keep secrets. Though I'm not sure that would be possible at her age and with her disposition...

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-11T21:01:32.970Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's sure.

“Hah,” said the boy; his smile seemed realer now, warmer. “She’s having trouble for exactly the same reason I did. There’s enough light in her to destroy Dementors, I’m sure. She wouldn’t be able to stop herself from destroying Dementors, even at the cost of her own life...”

EDIT: I think he also believed he could teach Malfoy.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T21:25:35.270Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh I know he thinks she has the potential and I'm in no doubt myself either.

My point is it doesn't necessarily mean it can be transmitted; how come Godric never trained a whole cadre of True Patronus users? Perhaps everyone needs to figure it out themselves, like Harry (and presumably Godric) did.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T08:14:18.752Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do we know that Godric could do it? I recall Harry musing on Godric and Rowena knowing that Dementors were Death (pg 742, pdf) - but would that automatically imply that they could also cast the True Patronus?

Harry can because he rejects Death as part of the natural order. Is there any evidence that they did? I don't remember any evidence that anyone but Harry has ever done it.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-12T08:18:54.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry opened his mouth, and then, as realization hit him, rapidly snapped his mouth shut again. Godric hadn't told anyone, nor had Rowena if she'd known; there might have been any number of wizards who'd figured it out and kept their mouths shut. You couldn't forget if you knew that was what you were trying to do; once you realized how it worked, the animal form of the Patronus Charm would never work for you again - and most wizards didn't have the right upbringing to turn on Dementors and destroy them -

I read this as meaning that Harry believes Godric could do it. Maybe I'm assuming too much, though, because I really like that idea.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T09:09:17.556Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think he's just describing what happens when you tell people Dementor's are Death. He considered that a tactic in the WIzengamut to prevent them from being able to cast a patronus, and gives no thought to the possibility that knowing that would enable them to cast the True Patronus.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-12T09:12:59.428Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, makes sense. There goes that theory of mine...

(Hm. This "changing your mind" business is strangely unpleasant.)

comment by loup-vaillant · 2012-04-12T14:10:12.161Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't be surprised if changing one's mind requires the same kind of mental effort required to change habits. Spending willpower is not very pleasant.

comment by oliverbeatson · 2012-04-12T12:53:14.797Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought that was odd: that they would actually have to understand, and not just be told that Dementors are death. Like in the same way that under-confidence in your ability to perform a physical action actually undermines your ability to do it, which should be relatable if you've ever tried to back-flip on a trampoline or forced yourself to perform an action in spite of an anticipation of pain or great displeasure -- but so long as you expect being able to do it, you can still do it. But if someone just said 'Dementors are death', you'd cast your animal patronus just fine so long as you didn't grok it. Which made me suspicious of Harry's possible tactic in the Wizengamot.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-04-12T16:35:43.076Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the problem is the lack of a Happy Thought to confront Death. Harry has one - his absolute rejection of Death as the natural order, and his belief that we shall overcome some day.

As long as you still believe that death is inevitable, that everyone will die - there is nothing happy about that to comfort you.

I believe that Harry internally discusses this point.

comment by loup-vaillant · 2012-04-12T14:16:43.132Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you tell them the whole riddle ("what is most scary, unkillable etc"), then give the answer, I'd say there's a good chance that it would cast enough doubt for the animal patronuses to fail, at least temporarily. Also, Harry could improve his credibility by casting his human patronus.

comment by oliverbeatson · 2012-04-12T14:30:21.509Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, especially on the last point. It still feels like there's a large philosophical knowledge-set to convey before their Patronus fails reliably for the right reason. I see what you mean though. Maybe the habit (mental) necessarily built into the Patronus charm would be harder to override more than temporarily due to the strength in habit, or at least without genuinely shifting how that person conceptualises all the relevant stuff.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-12T22:31:28.136Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see no reason to believe that Godric could cast the True Patronus. Even if he knew enough to ruin his ability to cast the traditional one(and knowing that it was literally hiding from death would likely be enough to make him disdain it), that doesn't mean that he could take the necessary leap to using the True Patronus.

comment by tadrinth · 2012-04-12T00:08:27.582Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wizarding society likes to let people figure out the dangerous secrets for themselves. You don't tell people the dangerous secrets until they have proven themselves on the easier ones, you don't tell people the secret of potion invention because they might get turned into cats, etc.

Of course, Harry can violate that as he pleases if it is just a social convention, and Harry's guesses at principles seem\ to hold up far better than it seems like it should.

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-04-11T17:54:40.172Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Incidentally, are there no Author's Notes for chapter 84?

comment by mstevens · 2012-04-11T13:46:49.248Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't actually go to meetups, but Harry's comments about anti-conformity training made me wonder if it'd be worth trying.

You could retest the original experiment, see if lesswrongians can avoid it through knowledge of the effect.

You could mock obviously true statements to practice withstanding opposition.

You could practice the ability to do harmless but nonconformist things to gain the ability to do so if the situation called for something unusual, but you might otherwise be too conformist or embarassed. (each meeting attendee shall order a coffee whilst wearing the ceremonial tea-cosy!). I suspect some of this overlaps with PUA a little and easily veers into general confidence building.

I don't know if rehearsals would do any good, but you could go through the motions of not complying with the Milgram experiment, making people handle little fake emergencies...

You could wonder if EY is planning things like this for the Center for Modern Rationality.

comment by Spurlock · 2012-04-11T17:23:08.261Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know if rehearsals would do any good

Really, this is how I feel. I'd be really surprised if a setup like that actually worked. I'm not sure Harry is supposed to actually believe (with any confidence) that it works for Chaos. Ultimately you know and everyone else knows that it's just a charade, and that really your "nonconforming" is just conforming one level below surface: You stand there and take abuse that you know to be insincere, and then get a pat on the back about it later, just like everyone else did on their turn.

Hopefully CMR has a better exercise in mind. A really good anti-Asch training tool seems like a great thing to have.

You could mock obviously true statements to practice withstanding opposition.

The danger with this seems to be that you'll also be developing skills for attacking correct positions. It's training you to develop tactics for entrenching yourself in incorrect beliefs. Also it seems to lend itself to the view of arguments as status conflicts rather than group truth-investigation (though I suppose we do need to at least practice how to handle arguments with people who do perceive them this way).

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-12T05:56:22.765Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disagree. I think it would have a very good chance to work.

To a perfect Bayesian, the importance of an act is not what it looks like on the surface, but the state of the world that makes such an act possible. Unfortunately (or fortunately in this case), human minds are not perfectly Bayesian.

To the human mind, merely resembling another thing is enough for the mind to form connections and associations between the two. This is why public speaking courses can improve people's abilities and lessen their fears of public speech. Even though people know they're just speaking in front of a class who is obligated to receive the speech well, their mind naturally reduces the anxiety they feel for any future speaking engagements. The mind says "eh, it's close enough. I can do this," just like how anti-conformity training should fool the mind into considering it 'close enough' to real disagreement. Speech classes don't not work perfectly, just like chaos training (I assume) doesn't work perfectly, but it's pretty good.

Anti-conformity training seems practically identical to a proven training method, and thus I rate it highly likely to work.

comment by Spurlock · 2012-04-12T14:10:04.427Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, I guess it's just an empirical question where we differ in predictions. Personally I don't think the analogy with public speaking is very strong, because public speaking classes are actually public speaking. People stand up and speak in front of lots of people, that's just what it is.

Upon reflection though, it does seem like there's one way that it might help, which is that it might help you figure out how to go about non-conformity, what exactly you can do or say in such a situation. So even if your mind doesn't buy into the charade, roleplaying with good partners might help you figure out ways to navigate a non-conformity situation. Having those methods worked out in advance might make you less hesitant to speak out in real world situations, but only to the extent that your hesitation is about not knowing what exactly to say or do (as opposed to fear of social punishment, the usual explanation for Asch's results).

What I've always wondered about with Asch's experiment is how much of a difference a small monetary incentive (say, $1 per correct answer) would make. It seems like the experiment is odd in that there is no incentive to give correct answers, but at least a potential or perceived social incentive to give conforming ones. This seems like it would be relevant to our disagreement because it's a question of whether the situation becomes different when something is actually on the line. Unfortunately I can't seem to google up any examples of variations like this.

comment by Solvent · 2012-04-13T01:57:45.862Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What I've always wondered about with Asch's experiment is how much of a difference a small monetary incentive (say, $1 per correct answer) would make.

I would be really interested in the result of this experiment.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T16:45:48.698Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anti-conformity training seems practically identical to a proven training method, and thus I rate it highly likely to work.

There is a difference. Even if the class (during a public speaking course) is obligated to receive the speech well, you know that their approval might be insincere and that's still scary. In the proposed nonconformity exercise you would be sure that the other participants don't really disapprove.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T22:19:08.987Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that if you've got a deeply habitual inhibition against firmly disagreeing with people, even a known-to-be-simulated experience of breaking the inhibition can help quite a bit.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-04-12T09:30:17.847Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Putting it in another perspective: if you have an inhibition against doing something, you will also have an inhibition against simulating it. But the latter is easier to break by reminding you that it is not real.

comment by Brickman · 2012-04-13T02:18:29.599Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Personally, to me it struck me as something I would try on a group of first graders (provided I knew I wouldn't be sued) but not on a group of adults. They know it's just a game, and treat it as such, but nobody's going to refuse because to me that sounds like a very fun game (approached from the right mindset, anyways, and provided you make sure the audience doesn't take it too far. I'd probably hand pick people to "criticize" and make myself a member of that group so I could step in if another was being problematic). So they all do it, and they all think it doesn't matter outside the game, except that since it was so unusual a thing to ask them to do they're going to remember when you tell them why they did it at the end of the lesson, and they're not going to forget it anytime soon. Preferably do it when they would normally be having a "normal" lesson.

Harry's army is about four years too old for that angle to work, so I wouldn't expect much of the "training". I'd expect more from the entirely conscious chain of reasoning that they respect General Potter, and that he has them do all kinds of weird "training" things and an awful lot of them turn out to be good ideas, and that he told you outright that he thinks this is an important thing for you to try to do. But then, that's a conscious chain of thought, and by the time an issue like this hits conscious thought it's already passed all the lines of defense that matter. So I wouldn't expect much of it. But hey, he's already employing a scatter shot approach towards their weirdness training so if this one idea doesn't work out it doesn't cost him much more than the time it took him to plan the exercise.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T02:33:08.877Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But hey, he's already employing a scatter shot approach towards their weirdness training so if this one idea doesn't work out it doesn't cost him much more than the time it took him to plan the exercise.

There's almost certainly a way to do this sort of thing that would function quite well as a morale and team-building exercise even if it didn't work at all on the conformity level.

Not that the Chaos Legion needs more morale.

comment by mstevens · 2012-04-12T10:26:23.933Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In one sense, yes I agree it's a charade, but people are non-rational and often very sensitive to the form of things. To me it sounds at least worth trying.

Pondering this further, I think the biggest problem is finding a way to measure conformity even in the face of people knowing they're being tested for conformity.

comment by raptortech97 · 2012-04-14T23:45:54.474Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do not have the audience be part of the group being tested. Pull in confederates off the street, and tell them about the test. Do not allow subjects to see each other's testing. Let's say now that the current subject is Alex. Alex prefers vanilla ice cream to chocolate ice cream. Now go through the anti-conformity training.

After the training, hold a break (still with just Alex and the confederates). Offer ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, and, say, mango. Have most (maybe about 80%) of the confederates go for the chocolate, 10% for the vanilla, and 10% for the mango.

The mango should help to decrease the suspicion, as should having not everybody go for the chocolate. It may help to have the confederates go through the training as well, to decrease suspicion.

The problems I see with this are a) Cost. This one I'll ignore, because that is a matter of practicality. b) The subject group is not the group conforming. This will decrease the likelihood of conforming.

The problem with having the subject group be the confederates, is that then the subject group knows how the test is being done.

comment by raptortech97 · 2012-04-14T23:35:21.400Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do not have the audience be part of the group being tested. Pull in confederates off the street, and tell them about the test. Do not allow subjects to see each other's testing. Let's say now that the current subject is Alex. Alex prefers vanilla ice cream to chocolate ice cream. Now go through the anti-conformity training.

After the training, hold a break (still with just Alex and the confederates). Offer ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, and, say, mango. Have most (maybe about 80%) of the confederates go for the chocolate, 10% for the vanilla, and 10% for the mango.

The mango should help to decrease the suspicion, as should having not everybody go for the chocolate. It may help to have the confederates go through the training as well, to decrease suspicion.

The problems I see with this are a) Cost. This one I'll ignore, because that is a matter of practicality. b) The subject group is not the group conforming. This will decrease the likelihood of conforming.

The problem with having the subject group be the confederates, is that then the subject group knows how the test is being done.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-04-12T06:58:54.807Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ultimately you know and everyone else knows that it's just a charade, and that really your "nonconforming" is just conforming one level below surface: You stand there and take abuse that you know to be insincere, and then get a pat on the back about it later, just like everyone else did on their turn.

Indeed ... This sounds like an initiation, not a rationality exercise.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T15:42:48.064Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You meant this one, right?

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T00:58:31.458Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Based on my own experiences being a lone dissenter, the main thing that has allowed me to stand up and maintain my position consistently in the face of uniform opposition and derision, was not expecting much of everyone else in the first place.

For example, in an introductory logic course, when the professor made a mistake, which everyone else in the class agreed with, and I was the sole person to disagree, and attempt to explain it in the face of the entire class brushing me off and laughing about how I thought I knew better when the answer was so obvious to everyone else, it didn't seem weird to me at all that every other person would make the same mistake and I would be the only one to notice it. It wasn't confusing to me, and my success in showing the professor in a couple minutes after class that she had been mistaken after all confirmed for me that my expectations were on track.

Conforming to the beliefs of the crowd is perfectly sensible behavior, in domains where you have no reason to expect yourself to be more accurate than anyone else. Learning to disregard conforming instincts completely is a bad idea, because a lot of the time, it really will be everyone else who's right, and you who's making a stupid mistake which will make you feel like an idiot when you finally realize it. Refusing to conform is both achievable and proper when you have a palpable expectation that other people are going to be stupid.

Unfortunately, it's rather easy for one's expectations of other people's intelligence and rationality to become poorly calibrated.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-04-12T09:43:22.178Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Having an experience of being right where everyone else is wrong, is good for breaking the fear of nonconformity.

When I was a child, I participated on a science olympiad and on one question I gave an answer that seemed trivially wrong, but in fact it was correct. (There were two objects of different size, made of same material, balanced on a lever, then both immersed in water. How will the balance chance?) Everyone thought I was wrong, and the official solution confirmed it. Then the organizers realized they made a mistake, and confirmed my solution.

Since then I knew (also on emotional level) that it is possible to be right, even if everyone else disagrees. Sometimes it is wise to keep quiet, because the social consequences of nonconformity are real, but being alone does not make one automatically wrong. It was a good lesson.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T07:08:22.357Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the other hand, the fact that you were comfortable being the lone dissenter while untrained in resisting conformity may indicate that your social wiring is atypical. Some people in some situations may interpret that difference as a socioemotional flaw.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T12:35:27.294Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It might be that my own experiences won't generalize to other people, but in domains where I haven't developed an expectation that everyone else really will make mistakes that I didn't, if everyone else is saying I'm wrong, I'll tend to conclude that I'm probably wrong.

I wouldn't exactly say I was untrained though. We learn from our life experiences. I was smarter than the great majority of my peers growing up, and fairly precocious, a stage ahead through my childhood, so seeing people around me believing things that seemed head-in-sand stupid, because the things they believed were actually stupid, as the products of less developed minds, was simply the way of the world as I grew up.

The hard part, which I see reflected among many other people who grew up ahead of their peers, was developing a sense of when you really should expect other people not to be any less sensible than you are.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T00:03:34.244Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

From www.hpmor.com/notes/82/:

The Center for Modern Rationality is offering $50 prizes for any suggested rationality training exercises that look good enough to test, and $500 prizes for any suggested exercises that we actually adopt into a unit. Specific descriptions of mental skills, accompanied by the request for exercises to teach them, have been posted for the units Be Specific and Check Consequentialism. (Think of this as trying to invent the actual content of the bizarre exercises that Harry has been inflicting on the Chaos Legion since Ch. 29… oh, wait, I haven’t mentioned those in the text yet, have I?)

comment by mstevens · 2012-04-12T10:18:37.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, interesting.

I may well have read that and forgotten the Harry reference, I knew he was working on exercises.

comment by TrE · 2012-04-12T17:02:28.991Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I doubt whether it's good to do actual anti-conformity training because it might make you too non-conforming (i.e. sticking to wrong positions). Instead, maybe it'd be better to do training on how to use others' opinions as evidence, similar to calibration training. The approach of anti-conformity training sounds good, but I'd stray in some statements which are actually false, the goal here is to actually get to the right conclusions whether the rest of society is right or wrong.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T03:09:51.773Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems unlikely to be the sort of field where people will overcorrect - the causes of conformity(both psychologically and sociologically) are immense, and a bit of training will not overbalance the scales.

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-11T07:43:23.977Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No one seems to be commenting on the way that dumbledore identified quirrel to the wards. It seemed to me to be a very clear hint that someone else was somehow within that circle and so is also recognised as the defence professor, has top level Hogwarts permissions etc. Possibly Mr hat and cloak?

comment by Nominull · 2012-04-11T07:58:51.888Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's possible, but not everything that's possible is true. You'd think there'd only be able to be one Defense Professor, especially if that position was referred to with the definite article, and so properly coded wards would throw an exception if his identifier did not uniquely pick out an individual.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T08:22:59.742Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It means that he won't show up as Tom Riddle or Voldemort or Quinirius Quirrell or Jeffe Japes or Scion of X on the Marauder Map. He'll show up as The Defense Professor.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T08:57:57.303Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That doesn't seem to follow.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T14:05:22.724Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, maybe this is the glitch in the Marauder's Map? 'the Defense Professor' is a little unusual a tag opposed to 'Minerva McGonagall' or ordinary names. (Although yes, it could also be reading 'Tom Riddle' or whatever, and Dumbledore wouldn't notice because IIRC he only grabs the Map from the twins to check for Riddle in Hogwarts after Quirrel goes to the Ministry.)

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-04-11T14:40:16.539Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah. p > 0.6 that this is the constant error in the marauders map for me. That's exactly what I thought when I was reading this.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T15:02:31.277Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The glitch in the Marauder's Map is

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-04-11T15:13:34.642Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might want to edit those to clarify the constant glitch as opposed to the intermittent.

Since I made it, I'll estimate this, but I'm really hesitant to flood my predictionbook with HPMOR predictions. We really need categories there.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T15:28:19.215Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Done.

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-04-13T23:17:48.226Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The intermittent error could also be a pet snake, though I don't know if that would count as "standing" in the circle. Does Voldemort have a house-elf?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T09:09:11.895Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That doesn't seem to follow.

Doesn't it?

The old witch sighed. "What does Dumbledore think of this?"

The man in the detention cell shook his head. "He does not know who I am, and promised not to inquire."

The old witch's eyebrows rose. "How did he identify you to the Hogwarts wards, then?"

A slight smile. "The Headmaster drew a circle, and told Hogwarts that he who stood within was the Defense Professor. Speaking of which -" The tone went lower, flatter. "I am missing my classes, Director Bones."

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T09:12:28.836Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Correct me if I'm misremembering, but can't the Marauder's map show all people people in Hogwards? Regardless of them getting explicitely identified to the wards, so it must get its names independently.

I mean, what makes you think the Map is affected by this?

comment by DavidAgain · 2012-04-11T10:16:41.692Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given that places can be made unplottable, I'd guess identities can be made unknowable. Uncertainty in potterverse can be a quality of the thing itself...

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T09:18:37.114Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Regardless of them getting explicitely identified to the wards, so it must get its names independently.

If it must, then Dumbledore overrode it.

He did so specifically to prevent himself from learning the Defense Professor's identity, because that was the term stipulated by Quirrell.

Those lines were specifically included to keep the story from prematurely reaching its climax as soon as Quirrell returns to Hogwarts. I think you will enjoy stories more if you accept that sometimes things happen for story reasons.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T10:22:57.753Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

actually, never mind

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T21:36:03.165Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Methods of Rationality, the Weasley twins refer to the Map as being part of the Hogwarts security system. So it probably gets the information from the wards.

My interpretation of the quote is that the Headmaster overrode the usual process of identification (which is automatic) in order to protect Quirrell's privacy; in that case, the Map would also know nothing beyond "The Defense Professor".

An alternative interpretation, however, is that the circle-drawing bit was only meant to key Quirrell into the wards as a professor. Normally, I suppose, this would be done by something like "I, Headmaster of Hogwarts, declare Quirinus Quirrell to be the Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts! So mote it be!" In this case, Quirinus Quirrell was a false name, and Dumbledore knew this, so he used an alternative process that doesn't require a name.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-11T23:30:43.025Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Methods of Rationality, the Weasley twins refer to the Map as being part of the Hogwarts security system. So it probably gets the information from the wards.

Yes; remember that they speculate it was made by Salazar himself, and remember in ch43 Quirrel independently says:

Professor Quirrell sipped from his own waterglass again. "Well then, Mr. Potter, I shall freely tell you what I know or suspect. 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.

The twins never mention in canon seeing the Basilisk on the map.

(Salazar seems to have specialized in security - one of his other talents was being a Legilimens.)

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T01:22:24.673Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The twins never mention in canon seeing the Basilisk on the map.

That would have borked the plot, and it's entirely probable that Rowling hadn't even come up with the Marauder's Map by then.

In MoR canon it probably makes more sense if it doesn't show up on it though; the whole Chamber of Secrets certainly doesn't.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-04-12T07:30:19.765Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Methods of Rationality, the Weasley twins refer to the Map as being part of the Hogwarts security system. So it probably gets the information from the wards.

Yes, but how do the wards get people's names? It's not like the name "Ron Weasley" is tattooed on every molecule of the boy's body.

True Names are a feature of some systems of magic — Earthsea comes to mind — but not of the canon Potterverse, nor of MoR as far as I can recall. In canon, the name "Voldemort" has unusual power because of specific spells keyed on it, and it's an adopted name.

Real-time Legilimency? If so, we would expect the map to display whatever name matched a person's self-image; and a sufficiently potent Occlumens could be expected to fool it by sufficiently good Method acting.

On the other hand, there's a subsystem of Hogwarts Castle that does get told the name of every student on their first day, and has a close-up chance to read it from them by what resembles Legilimency: the Sorting Hat. Possibly a similar system is in place for professors and others ... which involves the Headmaster drawing a circle ...

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T07:38:06.901Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was recently discussed here. I came up with this specific idea here.

The 'drawing a circle' thing: Dumbledore expects Riddle to show up on the Map as Riddle forty-five years after he graduated. Apparently student records are preserved; professors wouldn't need to be named to the wards unless they weren't alumni.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T04:23:12.136Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like an important feature of a security system would be to detect outsiders as well as students.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-13T04:24:58.455Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who says it doesn't? The problem would be coming up with a way to get their names.

comment by Alex_Altair · 2012-04-11T19:53:55.107Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, the map was made by "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs". I'm pretty sure Voldemort could override an artifact made my four teenagers.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-11T21:37:34.876Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was labeled as made by them, which isn’t necessarily reliable information, considering the incantation you use to activate it. And at one point it’s shown to locate and identify people under the True Cloak of Invisibility, which seems like powerful magic. (It could also be “made” in the sense that they found some sort of magical ingredient or component, ancient and much more powerful than they could make, which the integrated into the map, or even just that they customized an existing map with their silly “access code”.)

And in MoR, Dumbledore himself needed to use the map. Which suggests it was much more powerful than what four of his students could have made.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-12T01:23:26.391Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And at one point it’s shown to locate and identify people under the True Cloak of Invisibility, which seems like powerful magic.

Rowling probably hadn't even decided that Harry had the True Cloak of Invisibility yet.

comment by taelor · 2012-04-12T04:18:14.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternately, they found some way to tap into the castle's existing security systems.

comment by LKtheGreat · 2012-04-16T16:21:02.349Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How many instances can y'all remember where Eliezer has repeated himself in an oddly specific way?

  • Chapter 17, when Harry picks up Neville's Remembrall: "The Remembrall was glowing bright red in his hand, blazing like a miniature sun that cast shadows on the ground in broad daylight."

  • Chapter 43, when Harry has a Dementor-induced flashback of the night... something happened in Godric's Hollow: "And the boy in the crib saw it, the eyes, those two crimson eyes, seeming to glow bright red, to blaze like miniature suns, filling Harry's whole vision as they locked to his own -"

That really sets off my deliberate-hint senses - so much is repeated that it's got to be intentional. (My apologies if this was already discussed to death in the considerable time since #43 was posted.)

Likewise the basilisk, which I know was discussed at some point:

  • Chapter 35, H&C speaking: "Salazar Slytherin would have keyed his monster into the ancient wards at a higher level than the Headmaster himself."

  • Chapter 49, the Defense Professor speaking: "or by some entity which Salazar Slytherin keyed into his wards at a higher level than the Headmaster himself."

I'm sure I could find more if I put my mind to it, but that's all I've got for now.

comment by Benquo · 2012-04-16T18:13:24.971Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have no idea how to interpret the first clue. Are Voldemort's eyes Remembralls?

comment by LKtheGreat · 2012-04-16T18:23:47.772Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My interpretation was that we're meant to connect the two incidents and conclude that Harry's (seemingly numerous) forgotten memories are something to do with Voldemort, whether specifically memories of that night or something wider.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-16T21:59:05.465Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, the fact that he remembered the night of Voldemort’s attack (I have 80%+ confidence it was a real memory, though I’m not sure of what), it’s clear that there was at least one thing that he had forgotten at the time he held the Remembrall. I hadn’t made the connection until now. Previously I thought the crimson eyes were a hint pointing to Moaning Myrtle’s recounting of her encounter with the basilisk. Now I wonder if it’s just a coincidence because the “blazing sun” simile works well for a bright Remembrall, or if Eliezer is giving us a three-way hint. A basilisk being present at Godric’s Hollow had a lot of awesomeness potential, but it does seem like the less likely hypothesis.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone has forgotten most of their infancy—presumably, Dementors don’t bring such memories back because they’re almost never as traumatic as Harry’s—and Remembralls don’t start glowing like mad in everybody’s hands, so something is still missing there.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-16T22:26:07.975Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the other hand, pretty much everyone has forgotten most of their infancy—presumably, Dementors don’t bring such memories back because they’re almost never as traumatic as Harry’s—and Remembralls don’t start glowing like mad in everybody’s hands, so something is still missing there.

Much more than infancy - apparently everything before 10 is suspect, and everything before 4 especially so according to Wikipedia on childhood amnesia.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-04-17T12:36:18.817Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Previously I thought the crimson eyes were a hint pointing to Moaning Myrtle’s recounting of her encounter with the basilisk.

The basilisk has yellow eyes in the movies, and probably in book-canon as well. Are they explicitly stated to be red in MOR?

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-17T13:06:09.354Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The basilisk has yellow eyes in the movies, and probably in book-canon as well.

Yes.

Are they explicitly stated to be red in MOR?

The basilisk hasn't been mentioned by name in MOR, aside from Moody suggesting it as a poison. Slytherin's Monster was mentioned as possibly-not-real in Chapter 49, but without physical description. So no, there's no reason to think it has red eyes.

comment by bogdanb · 2012-04-20T06:08:34.015Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, you’re right. Turns out my memory over-dramatized a bit Myrtle’s words. She said only “I just remember seeing a pair of great, big, yellow eyes.” For some reason I thought she had also said something like “blazing suns”.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-16T23:46:52.108Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

After the escape from Azkaban, I thought that the most likely thing for the Remembrall to have been referring to, must have been the Newtonian physics that Harry was mentioned to have forgotten about in regards to broomstick flying -- but am not quite sure that makes sense anymore. At the time the Remembrall lit up, Harry hadn't spent any time steering/accelerating the broomstick, and had barely seen anyone else fly at all.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-17T12:22:33.665Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I prefer "Time turners are supposed to be a secret, don't flaunt it".

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-17T23:40:27.197Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That was my interpretation also.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T04:12:08.338Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This chapter significantly increased my probability estimate that Quirrell was entirely behind the plot to > 90%. Also, the humming torture was awesome, but not helping his case.

Also, who the hell was Bones' story referring to? That whole section heavily confused me.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-04-11T05:13:53.830Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The humming torture sounds similar to Vetinari's clock, only taken to the next level. I liked it too.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, the memetic attack is also similar to "The Book" in Anathem, though the delivery vector is different.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T06:48:30.972Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tried looking up Vetinari's clock, but I only found a bunch of people building them. Which book is it from?

comment by JacekLach · 2012-04-11T09:30:50.032Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havelock_Vetinari

Lord Vetinari also has a strange clock in his waiting-room. While it does keep completely accurate time overall, it sometimes ticks and tocks out of sync (example: "tick, tock... ticktocktick, tock...") and occasionally misses a tick or tock altogether, which has the net effect of turning one's brain "into a sort of porridge". (Feet of Clay, Going Postal).

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T10:39:22.160Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you.

I wonder how hard it would have been to build such a clock at Discworld's tech level. It might require magic.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-04-11T16:55:47.328Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fortunately, magic is widely available. That said, it should be possible to build such a clock using perfectly mundane means; after all, Discworld denizens do have perfectly ordinary mechanical clocks, AFAIK.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T17:20:09.066Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It would have to have its own tick completely muffled while just producing the fake tick. Perhaps the accurate time is produced by a clock on the other side of the wall.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-04-11T18:57:02.585Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Assuming, of course, that the clock does keep accurate time :-)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-04-11T22:07:54.637Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While it does keep completely accurate time overall

Pratchett quote a few posts upstream.

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-04-11T04:30:27.660Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Same. The part about disappearing in Albania is from canon-Quirrell's backstory - that's where he ran into Voldemort's wandering ghost, so it's interesting that in MoR he supposedly went there before the war. The rest of the background recounted by Bones and by Quirrell himself don't really ring a bell with me, the closest thing I can think of is him needing "reconciliation" with the Lady of the House being reminiscent of Sirius Black and his spat with his family, but Sirius already exists in MoR and had a different history.

It might be possible that in MoR the house of Gaunt (the one canon!Voldemort is from) did not fall into poverty and retained their household and Wizengamot influence? If the general 'powering up' of characters can go that far back it would be plausible. And now that I think of it, Quirrell initiated talk about witch-on-Muggle magical seduction during the SPHEW arc, which could suggest that that part of his family background was carried over from canon.

(One of the things that annoy me about HPMoR is that when I can't quickly figure out what a certain passage might be hinting to, I have to assign a frustratingly high probability to the event that it's simply a reference/homage/in-joke to one of the myriad HP fanfictions.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T04:57:23.799Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My concern is largely that Bones seems to be hinting that Quirrelmort is someone else, who was believed to be dead, someone who was thought to be a powerful enemy of Voldemort who went missing, which meshes with his spiel to Hermione. Presumably the person Bones thinks he is isn't Quirrel, since he's publicly known to be that person. Who on Earth is she referring to?

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-11T05:08:55.389Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thomas Marvolo Gaunt-Riddle, hero of wizarding Britain? Though since Dumbledore knows that Tom Riddle is Voldemort that seems like quite the narrow escape; his game would be up if Bones and Dumbledore talked openly to each other.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-04-11T11:36:04.122Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't foresee this being a plausible interpretation, and have just now edited the birthdate to 1927 to avoid further confusion. It was intended as a bit of an, "Oh no, is she about to identify Voldemort?" moment, to be contradicted soon after by the Gaunts not exactly being on the Wizengamot or having a patroness grandmother. But as it's plausible-to-the-reader that the Gaunts are different in this fic, I feel like I need to do something to cut down plausible misunderstandings I didn't foresee. (I've also edited Ch. 53, fyi.)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

comment by FAWS · 2012-04-11T07:10:43.686Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait, that doesn't work, for Voldemort being a known parselmouth to allow Hagrid a retrial after discovering the charm on the Sorting Hat Tom Riddle and Voldemort have to be known to be the same person.

EDIT: Eliezer jossed heroic Riddle in the mean time anyway.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-12T23:26:51.512Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Remember, his spiel to Hermione happened after Bones fingered him as the dead hero. It's possible that he decided to just jump into the persona with both feet.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-11T05:03:54.512Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My thoughts.

comment by Randaly · 2012-04-11T16:16:37.586Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't attach very high probability to this, but: Yermy Wibble? (The guy who proposed a magical draft and was killed for it.)

ETA: To clarify, the reason I think it's a bit improbable is that the mysterious guy's family was dead when he returned, whereas Yermy's family was killed at the same time he was.

Double edit: Forgot that Wibble was first introduced in Chapter 3, in a way that made it clear he's not this guy. This is clearly wrong, forget it.

comment by GeorgieChaos · 2012-04-12T03:12:02.125Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. Madam Bones said that the man she suspects Quirrell of being just disappeared (and, indeed, was the last of his family before he did so). Granted we don't know where most of Wibble went, but 1) he had a family, and they were peeled as well, and 2) I don't think having your skin found flapping loose in your office counts as a mysterious disappearance.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-11T23:43:46.539Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A bit improbable? Another difference would be that Wibble was killed, rather than disappeared.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-04-11T04:23:21.231Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Riddle.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T15:16:36.910Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An interpretation of the revelations of Chapter 84 that is almost surely wrong, but was first to rise to my attention:

Quirrell's description of the War to Hermione was an honest description of the conflict between Voldemort and Dumbledore from Voldemort's point of view. Voldemort, like Draco's father and his friends, thought Dumbledore was an evil wizard who needed to be stopped at all cost. But even as people shored up support for Dumbledore, they reviled Voldemort.

And Dumbledore has realized he was the bad guy. When he says:

There is evil in this world which knows itself for evil, and hates the good with all its strength. All fair things does it desire to destroy.

he's referring to the darkness he saw in himself, when he began to "resent Harry's innocence", and looking back on the way he's lived his life.

As I said, this interpretation is almost certainly not true; Amelia was clearly talking about someone the public would think of as a hero, so didn't mean Voldemort (and it's not supposed to be Tom Riddle's story).

comment by thescoundrel · 2012-04-11T15:31:15.178Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just for fun, consider this: Quirrelmort is more likely to be able to produce a true patronus than Dumbledore, as Quirrelmort understands that death should be avoided. Patronus 2.0 as the power the Dark Lord Knows not?

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T15:38:27.650Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Obviously all the good guys are anti-death and bad guys are pro-death.

comment by thescoundrel · 2012-04-11T15:41:03.909Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

“People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” -- The Grim Grotto

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-11T17:29:05.202Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect Voldemort is less likely to produce a true Patronus. The Patronus 2.0 comes from facing death and rejecting it. Voldemort certainly rejects death, but it doesn't seem like he's faced it the way Harry has.

Voldemort: "This 'death' thing is horrible, get it away from me! I'll tear apart my very soul if that's what it takes to escape death!"

Harry: "You dare threaten me and the people I feel responsible for, you pitiful little leftover of the evolutionary process? I will end you if it's the last thing I do."

Admittedly, this is based more on a canon portrayal of Voldemort, since MoR!Voldemort's views on the subject have yet to be made explicit (and he seems altogether more emotionally healthy than the canon version).

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T00:34:53.869Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought this bit was interesting:

And felt a distant, hollow echo of emptiness radiating from where Death waited, washing over Harry's mind and parting around it, like a wave breaking on stone. Harry knew his enemy this time, and his will was steel and all of the light.

"I can already feel the Dementors," said the gravelly voice of the Polyjuiced Quirrell. "I did not expect that, not this soon."

"Think of the stars," Harry said, over a distant rumble of thunder. "Don't allow any anger in you, nothing negative, just think of the stars, what it feels like to forget yourself and fall bodilessly through space. Hold to that thought like an Occlumency barrier across your entire mind. The Dementors will have some trouble reaching past that."

There was silence for a moment, then, "Interesting."

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T14:51:22.872Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Scary. I wonder if that's him actually figuring out the trick.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-16T08:26:18.187Z · score: 8 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm wondering if EY is going to come through on this whole "Dumbledore is the Dark Lord and Quirrelmort was in the right all along" approach that he has hinted at recently. There's a precedent here which raises my probability estimate of this slightly, [rot13 for spoilers from another EY story] va uvf fgbel "Gur Fjbeq bs Tbbq" gur gjvfg jnf gung gur ureb'f pubvpr orgjrra tbbq naq rivy jnfa'g n pubvpr bs juvpu bar gb sbyybj (gung jbhyq or boivbhf, pyrneyl) vg jnf gur zhpu uneqre pubvpr bs juvpu jnf juvpu. Gur "tbbq thlf" ghearq bhg gb or rivy naq gur "onq thlf" ghearq bhg gb or tbbq.

So from recent chapters it seems like we're supposed to at least be considering the possibility of that Quirrelmort has been playing some colossal super-villain gambit this whole time in order to set up the rise of Light Lord Harry and defeat death once and for all, and that the Dark Lord prophesied to oppose all this is Dumbledore, who has marked Harry for his equal by nominating him as the future leader of the people he mistakenly believes to be The Good Guys and who wants us all to embrace death when it comes.

This concerns me a little bit, not because I don't like the idea of Voldemort being secretly good but because it would be tragic for Dumbledore to turn out to be so evil. Don't get me wrong, Dumbledore is greatly mistaken on many points but on the surface it doesn't seem fair to call him a Dark Lord. His intentions seem to be better than almost every other person in the wizarding world, and it seems a bit rich to brand him with that label just because he opposed someone who was doing a very good job of pretending to be EVIL with a capital everything.

This, of course, is WORSE because it means that EY won't do it like that - if Quirrel turns out to be good it will mean that Dumbledore has known the Voldemort gambit was a ploy all along, and has been actively opposing Quirrel's attempt to reform the world because he doesn't think the end justifies the means. And now he's been broken further and further, forced to do more and more horrible things and turned into a monster just because he didn't want monstrous things to happen! I just can't help but think that it would have been better for Quirrel to sit down and talk this all out with Dumbles, but even if for some reason he couldn't, I dunno if it's fair to Dumbles to call him a Dark Lord since he was trying hard but got it wrong.

Of course there's always the possibility that Dumbledore doesn't care about the means and is just opposed to Quirrel because Quirrel wants to kill death. That would make Dumbledore more evil but be less tragic. It also seems a bit less believable that Dumbledore could be so smart but so intractable in his wrongness on this one point, though.

What do you guys think?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-16T13:46:37.891Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That the only death Tom is opposed to is his own.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-04-18T00:42:36.240Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think the guy who doesn't think twice about torturing or murdering anyone who slights him will turn out to be in the right all along.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-17T13:41:22.841Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My viewpoint is essentially opposite yours, lolz.

I don't really think it's probable that Dumbledore will become the next Dark Lord. The only thing that has happened so far to suggest this is the one line by Dumbledore in Chapter 84 (there might be other evidence but it would help if you would explicitly point it out). And I suppose there's an argument to be made that Voldemort couldn't have "marked Harry as an equal" since Harry was a baby who Voldemort expected to easily kill (which is why Voldemort didn't bring reinforcements). And there's probably some people on here who think Narcissa was burned alive (but I am almost certain that Dumbledore faked her death and that she is living in a secret OOTP base somewhere).

But I think the counter evidence is stronger. It's too late in the story to suddenly change the villain, and Dumbledore probably wouldn't have the opportunity or motive to cause mass death. Those points seem simpler and like stronger arguments than the above. Consider that, in canon, Voldemort attacking a baby was apparently enough to mark Harry as an equal. Also consider that Dumbledore was completely hysterical when he mentioned the possibility that he would become the next Dark Lord.

It would help if we actually knew what some of the unheard prophecies say. Maybe Dumbledore was misinterpreting one of them, and he doesn't have to be a Dark Lord at all, but Harry would still fight him. That's not a great solution and it's actually less probable than anything above, but it does represent a kind of middle ground based on details and possibilities not yet made known to us.

And, I actually like the idea of Dumbledore being a Dark Lord who was corrupted by his power. I really don't think it would be sad, because I'm not attached to canon Dumbledore very much. I actually don't really care about any of the Canon!Harry Potter main characters, I just realized that. I only care about the minor characters, and thus far HPMOR has only improved those characters.

Dumbledore as Dark Lord just would be really cool. Maybe the rule of cool will outweigh my above probability based assessments, and he'll end up being a Dark Lord. I hope so, at least, unless EY figures out something even cooler to do.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-17T16:29:38.913Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As far as evidence in the form of plot hints, I'll have to go do a proper search when I'm not about to go to bed, but in the mean time... IMHumbleO, there's a strong case that Quirrel could be trying a supervillain gambit in order to make the world a better place. We know that there's a Dark Lord >somewhere<, and if it's not Quirrelmort then I think it can only be Dumbledore. Of course there is a whole spectrum of possibility here - maybe Quirrel is supervillain gambitting but is STILL the Dark Lord, maybe he isn't but Dumbles is the Dark Lord anyway, &c, &c. Also relevant is the fact that Dumbledore seems to have access to the Philosopher's stone but is not using it to save lives. I don't understand why that is, and as a result it feels like there's some major aspect of the Dumbledore-Voldemort dynamic that we're in the dark about.

Anyway, without going through and marshaling all the evidence I'm not prepared to make a bet either way on how it's all going to pan out. I do think the Dark Lord Dumbledore scenario is one that would have to be weighed in order to make such a bet, though, which is why I brought it up for discussion. I agree that that sort of ending could be done cool-ly. Whatever happens, I have a baaaaad feeling that Harry is going to find out that the world is a very, very ugly place pretty soon and I hope he comes through that without being irredeemably darkened.

comment by Strange7 · 2012-06-23T22:26:44.922Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(there might be other evidence but it would help if you would explicitly point it out)

There's this, from chapter 80:

You would expect that chain of light to miss a step, sometime down through the centuries; that it would go astray at least once, and then never return. But it has not. The Line of Merlin continues, unbroken.

(Or so say those of Dumbledore's faction. Lord Malfoy would tell you otherwise. And in Asia they tell other tales entirely, which may not make Britain's version wrong.)

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-16T21:44:13.510Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're confused about the meaning of Sword of Good. Without giving away too much, that is not the meaning I came up with. Instead I came away with the idea that everyone is the hero of their own story. Nobody is born innately evil

Dumbledore is good. Quirrell is good. Harry is good. Malfoy is good. But they're each only playing out the morality they've learned. Malfoy's morality about maintaining 1600s era stability and order and bringing prestige to the family. Dumbledore's is a conservative evolution of his imperial/nationalist era morality that turned sour. Quirrel's morality is difficult to discern, but I'd guess he was based on Randian Objectivism or Nietzschean philosophy. Harry's morality is rationalist and singularitarian. It's obvious to me that Harry's morality is the only one that's truly good. But then again I'm a rationalist singularitarian, and I bet people from other eras would look at the moralities differently.

I think the story is set up like this because that's the way the world works. Everyone thinks they're doing the good-and-right thing, but everyone has different starting points for their moralities. Wars occur because people have different ideas about what good-and-right is and how to achieve it. In real life, two good people sit down and talk to each other and neither one changes their mind, and the wars still happen. And the wars are not between good guys and bad guys, they're between good guys and good guys.

But that's the world we live in.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-17T00:36:35.086Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're confused about the meaning of Sword of Good.

No, Argency summarized it well. It isn't a treatise on moral relativism.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-17T03:08:21.789Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that one of the premises behind both of these stories is that there is one objectively correct morality, given that a few basic definitions are shared. "If we agree that suffering is bad and that ~suffering is good then humanist, rational utilitarianism should follow directly," or something.

I can definitely agree that acting in a way that fails to optimally minimise suffering is >bad<. I can even agree that in a lot of cases, punishing bad people will minimise further suffering. The problem is (and this is the message that I got from The Sword of Good) no one sane actually thinks of themselves as the bad guy of the story, and it takes an Act of Rational Intellect to make a justified choice about which side is actually right about being right.

The upshot is that I balk at the "evil" label. People are bad and good, only cartoon characters are evil because they do bad for bad's sake. I guess in my head I think that to be a Dark Lord requires being Evil and not just bad. That might be a silly definition, since it means I'm essentially defining Dark Lords not to exist, but then again we only hear about them in children's stories and HPMoR.

Sometimes (not every time) I get a twinge of subconscious worry when EY primes his argument-cannon with rational powder but emotional wadding. It makes for incredible chapters - I get fully body pins and needles whenever Harry does something amazing with a dementor - and when the emotion is humanist triumphal awe then it's probably safe. I know the argument: there's no reason why rationality and emotion have to weaken one another; emotion aimed by rationality can work to good ends. I just don't want to confront a situation where Dumbledore ends up being the Dark Lord despite wanting to be a good guy and trying very, very hard - because there's the risk there of sending the message that we should not only fight against powerful bad people, but hate them because they are Evil for not quite being smart enough. I don't think that would be emotion aimed by rationality.

I know that's not the sort of ending EY would craft, I only wonder how we >would< write a Dark Lord Dumbledore ending, and how likely it is that he will.

EDIT: I just re-read the "Are you enemies innately evil" article that Xachariah referenced, only this time I read it from the point of view of a moral relativist. I have gained an insight into how the other side thinks. I have also found even more motivation to make hard relativism extinct.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-17T13:56:26.107Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A form of relativism does follow from naturalism, as does a moral system which favors ones own gains above the gains of others. See: the babykillers story.

Egoism and relativism are actually pretty powerful arguments. "Good" does not exist external to perception or experience. I cannot experience the "good" of anyone else's experience, except in an extremely diluted way through empathic networks, so in order to maximize the amount of good that exists I must try to maximize my own pleasure and achieve my own values. This doesn't preclude helping others, we can be helpful to others if we enjoy or value being helpful, etc.

Everyone accepts relativism on a small scale, like with favorite colors. It's not very different on a large scale, either. If someone is genetically modified to have a passionate drive to eat children, and has a burning desire to do so and sees nothing wrong with doing so, I think they should eat children. It's not justifiable to hold people to obligations that they don't internally recognize as correct, for the same reasons that "because God said so" is not an actual moral argument.

There's an important difference between this kind of relativism and other kinds, though. The kind of relativism I'm trying to defend here doesn't say that nothing is wrong and that all paths lead up the same mountain, or whatever. I'm trying to say that because morality is derived from inherent values, where those inherent values change we will get different moral answers for different people. But most humans share a lot of values, so this kind of relativism really doesn't open itself up to the kind of gut-level criticism that most people throw at it, like the argumentum ad consequentum "but then everyone would murder everyone!" which is so popular.

I personally don't follow any form of relativism, although I'm fairly selfish and egoist (yay rationality!), but that's because my ethics are totally ad hoc and disorganized. I personally use a sort of story based virtue ethics to justify my actions ("what would a hero do?"; "what kind of hero am I?"). Stories are important to humans, so there's probably a naturalistic or cultural justification somewhere in there, but I don't really know what it is specifically.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-17T16:16:17.435Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, that's the difference between hard relativism and soft relativism. Hard relativism holds that there is no "right", and that's the one I think has to go. Mind you, I think the relativism you describe is still a bit hard for me - I'd argue that whilst what is right is relative in the sense that it's contingent on the situation at hand, within a given situation rightness is fixed and not at all dependent on one's viewpoint. I certainly don't agree that a relativism with any hardness to it follows from naturalism. I say this only to identify my position relative to your own, since this probably isn't the right place for me to start trying to debate against your ethics. Plus it's 2am and I spent all day at uni arguing ethics. I'm burnt out.

I read the baby-eaters story a while ago - I think I disagree with EY on that one, although it's possible I misread it. I share his apparent belief that the baby-eaters had to be stopped: the babies were suffering and suffering=bad. I don't see why the first, "fake" ending was the sad one, though - to me the second, "real" ending was the horrible one and the fake one was close enough to what I would have tried for if I'd been there. I am warning you now, if I ever meet super-intelligent aliens who want to raise the human race up from perdition and erase the need for suffering, I'm going to be on the side of the angels until humanity sorts it's shit out.

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-17T20:00:43.196Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you think the humans should have stopped the Babyeaters, but you don't think the Babyeaters were evil for pursuing the values that evolution gave them, then you agree that naturalism leads to the form of relativism I am defending and that this form of relativism is okay.

An equivalent: the homosexuality "debate".

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-18T00:46:31.493Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well as I've said somewhere in this tree, I don't like the "evil" label, so I'll stick to "bad". But I do think that the baby-eaters were bad, regardless of what they were evolved to do. There are a whole bunch of things that humans are evolved to do that I also think are morally wrong - I think that humans who do those things are bad. If we didn't have a drive to do bad things, no one would ever do them and morality would be pointless. The baby-eaters perhaps shouldn't be hated too much for being bad (in the story they weren't as intelligent as humans and they thought slower) but in my books they definitely were bad, and had to be stopped.

So I don't need to admit relativism for the sake of consistency. I think the homosexuality thing is probably a huge can of worms that would trap me in this thread for weeks if I opened it, so with your permission I'm going to let that one pass.

I also, by the way, think that the baby-eaters' psychology was probably impossible, and their evolutionary path extremely contrived and unlikely. I know baby-eaters aren't necessary to argue for relativism, but if they were then I would think that relativism was outlandish and absurd. On the other hand, I think my ethics still extends to this crazy borderline case, so I'm willing to allow it for discussion, but that's a reflection of my confidence in my ethics, not the fitness of the thought experiment.

Anyway, I'm not trying to convince you - I only spoke out against relativism above to register my disapproval of extreme hard relativism, which you don't appear to espouse. I look forward to your reply if you choose to make one, but I won't rebut it because we are waaay off topic for the thread. :)

comment by chaosmosis · 2012-04-18T05:24:55.298Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure thing, that all means that you don't support (pure) naturalism, which is okay with me even if I like naturalism.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-18T05:31:55.942Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree. What a pleasant conversation. This is why I love Less Wrong.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-15T18:07:54.795Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A very minor mistake at ch.84

It was only expected that you should save bullies.

This of course should be something like "save them from bullies" or "save people from bullies".

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-15T22:09:31.670Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's disturbing that I read that like three or four times without once noticing.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-13T17:03:31.769Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A question not on the latest chapter but ch4:

McGonagall shook her head. "Your father was the last heir of an old family, Mr. Potter. It's also possible..." McGonagall hesitated. "Some of this money may be from bounties that had been placed on You-Know-Who, payable to his ki-" McGonagall swallowed the word. "To whoever might defeat him. Or those bounties might not have been collected yet. I'm not sure."

Did we ever find out whether the bounties were collected? I was wondering whether 40k Galleons was a reasonable sum for last heir of ancient family + entire wizarding world's bounties on Voldemort, but I can't remember the question ever being answered in the first place.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-13T17:52:09.410Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Davises have 300 Galleons in their vault, and they do not seem to be especially poor or especially wealthy. If Harry has 130 times the wealth of an average family, that sounds like a reasonable sum for the circumstances stated.

It's worth noting that we don't really know to what extent bounties would have been placed on Voldemort. For one thing, it seems like the international community couldn't give a toss about the fate of Britain, and British wizards seem to have spent their time cowering in terror and believing that Voldemort was invincible, rather than financing mercenary warfare.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-13T18:01:25.552Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Davises have 300 Galleons in their vault, and they do not seem to be especially poor or especially wealthy. If Harry has 130 times the wealth of an average family, that sounds like a reasonable sum for the circumstances stated.

It's hard to compare, yes. But if you want to compare with the Davises and Potter fortunes, it doesn't sound like 40k is all that much.

For example, if we wanted to compare bounties, we could compare Voldemort to Osama bin Laden's federal bounty of $25 million; googling, the median net worth of an American household is something like $90,000, which gives us a Muggle multiplier of not 130x but 277x. If the Davises really are average (median) then with a Muggle multiplier the bounty on Voldemort might be as high as 113k galleons*. Then presumably you'd have the Potter family fortune of unknown thousands but let's round to 7k and then 120k total - that's 3 times what Harry actually has.

Of course, one can make assumptions which would erase a difference of 300% but you see why I might wonder if Harry did actually receive the bounties.

* Which if anything sounds low to me - Lucius shocks people by demanding 100k for Hermione just for attempting to kill Draco, but it seems plausible they would not be shocked by something like 10k - and Voldemort doesn't just attempt to kill one person, he kills dozens, hundreds, thousands, and multiple Noble House members. The Order, a subaltern organization unapproved of by Magical England, is able to raise 100k all on its own for its own operations. And so on.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-14T04:38:57.433Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Muggle America is also some hundreds of thousands of times more populous than wizarding Britain. That does change some things when it comes to ratios of that sort.

comment by Rejoyce · 2012-04-14T09:47:42.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, is that $25 million in 1991 dollars (year the book's taking place) or 2011?

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-14T14:45:19.639Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The reward was posted in 2001, and was unmodified for inflation until it was taken down in 2011.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-15T01:57:49.505Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My median income figure was from ~2009; combined with the bounty not being inflation-adjusted, this implies this nominal ratio is an underestimate of the real ratio.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T18:25:58.119Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That muggle net worth includes property values that would not be reflected in the Davis vault.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-13T18:35:22.772Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wizards are specifically described as not engaging fractional-reserve banking, which implies that any real estate is bought without debt with saved-up funds; hence, we would also expect to see savings reflected in wizard vaults and the Davises in particular unless we think they already bought a property (in which case the 300 galleons would then become a massive underestimate, yes).

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-13T18:52:41.032Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No fractional-reserve banking does not imply this - there could be lenders (whether goblins or wizards) with a large supply of their own gold which they use to make loans. Or landowners could sell property with a "rent to own" payment plan. Fractional-reserve banking is only necessary if you want to lend someone else's gold.

comment by gwern · 2012-04-13T19:06:13.653Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was not using implies in the logical deduction sense. Not having fractional-reserve banking eliminates a massive source of capital which could be used for mortgage lending and ceteris paribus will reduce such lending, does it not?

comment by open_sketchbook · 2012-04-17T16:56:25.289Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's entirely possible that, for the most part, land ownership is not an economic issue for wizards. They are a very small population with no reliance on infrastructure and with easy, accessible and instant transportation from the FlooNetwork and apperation. They don't have pay utility bills either.

I'm willing to bet the only properties that change hands with meaningful frequency are shops in Hogsmead and Diagon Alley. Some folks rent rooms in these places when they are young and career-driven, but when they settle down to raise a family, if they haven't got a property to inherent, they just zip out to some picturesque chunk of rural Britain, get their friends together or hire some specialists to magically assemble a house, and then the ministry stops by to register the place and hook the fireplace up to the Floo Network for a fee.

The vast majority of wizards we see in canon live rurally. Bill and Fleur get set up with a little seaside cottage when they get married and no mention is ever made of cost. The only wizarding house that isn't rural which we know of is Number 12, Grimmauld Place, which was probably straight-up stolen from it's muggle owners in the 19th century and hidden.

Of course, if some muggles show up to ask why their land suddenly has a cozy little house on it that wasn't there yesterday, you bust out the memory charms and suddenly it's been your property all along, sorry for the trouble neighbor.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T18:06:21.506Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's probably worth comparing it to "the entire war chest" of the OOTP, 100k galleons.

Edit: ah, you did that.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-04-14T23:09:11.583Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's worth noting that we don't really know to what extent bounties would have been placed on Voldemort. For one thing, it seems like the international community couldn't give a toss about the fate of Britain

Well, so far as the international community consists of other governments. There may have been plenty of concerned foreign citizens.

comment by Velorien · 2012-04-15T12:26:20.750Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, but we see not a single foreign finger being lifted to help magical Britain - and with wizards, individuals can be as influential as governments. Compare Dumbledore and magical Germany (though admittedly he had a clear personal stake in stopping Grindelwald). Absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and all that.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-13T18:06:06.366Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did we ever find out whether the bounties were collected?

No.

It's still possible he's got some money down the pipe.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-14T04:40:39.435Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or that the unpaid bounties were put up by people who now believe Voldemort to have returned.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-15T02:14:24.995Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can somebody explain to me why Harry was so into House points before Azkaban recalibrated his sense of perspective? It makes sense why most people seek them; you take several dozen kids, split them up into different groups, and soon enough you hear them talking about how they can't let those Gryffindor jerkasses win the House Cup and so on. But it seems to me like you need to identify with your House to an unhealthy degree to take so much pleasure in earning points for it. Hermione obviously has that problem (cf. her speech about House Ravenclaw in ch. 34), but I would have expected Harry to avoid falling into such an obvious trap.

Note that Draco never seems interested in getting house points (as far as I can remember, anyways), so I guess his Slytherin education allowed him to see what the Ravenclaws missed: House Points are just one of those totally useless things you use to incentivize people into desired behaviors without having to give them any real, costly rewards. Like employee of the month awards, and military medals, and lesswrong kar-

...

Nevermind, I think I get it now.

(But seriously, karma at least has an individual tracking component that allows one to gain status in the community; is there anything about house points that would win Hermione or Harry more status than they would if they just kept getting good grades in class, answering questions correctly, and saving victims from bullies?)

comment by Nornagest · 2012-04-15T02:31:37.731Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

is there anything about house points that would win Hermione or Harry more status than they would if they just kept getting good grades in class, answering questions correctly, and saving victims from bullies?

Sure. By earning house points, Harry and Hermione are essentially doing a favor for their houses independently of whatever they did to earn those points. It's a favor that's absolutely useless in functional terms (at least, I don't remember the House Cup granting any substantial perks), but that doesn't matter too much to the psychology involved; you're well above the 20 karma threshold but you still get a little spike of satisfaction when someone upvotes you, don't you? Same mechanism at play.

This is complicated slightly by the fact that House standing is zero-sum, but I still think in-house status gain would outweigh out-of-house status loss thanks to a number of considerations. Point allocations tend not to be announced to the entire school, for one thing.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-04-15T03:19:40.263Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But seriously, karma at least has an individual tracking component that allows one to gain status in the community

In order to be an effective incentive system, house points would necessarily need to be awarded in social circumstances were other students can track them. And in practice that's usually how they're awarded. Points are given out in front of the class so all of the student's classmates can see them instead of privately. Some of this may be because teachers primarily interact with students in classes, but even private events which earn house points are announced publicly later.

Functionally, in canon, the house point system physically updates as soon as anyone authorized says "10 points to Gryffindor." Since it's auto-updating I'd be surprised if they don't track the reasons why as well in a magic ledger or something. When teachers were in strong contention for the house cup, they would give out house points on the flimsiest excuses, but they'd always have a reason for it, which implies that it's tracked. Otherwise teachers would subtract 50 points because 'potter looks stupid' when they're alone in the lavatory instead of taking 10 points for backchat while in class to unfairly win the house cup.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-16T00:20:45.957Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who's the person who've deleted their account, and may I ask why? It's always sad/confusing when we lose someone and we can't even know the reason.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-16T00:35:09.934Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was jaimeastorga2000. I think Misha deleted their account today too.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-04-16T15:05:48.146Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I regret that Misha is gone, he was one of the smarter commenters on mathy decision theory posts.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-16T11:13:31.945Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(blinks in surprise)

How odd and sad...

comment by Nornagest · 2012-04-16T00:36:57.217Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, for whatever reason he chose to unperson himself, so I'm not sure if I should be saying this, but that was jaimeastorga2000, I believe. I don't know why he decided to leave.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-15T18:02:58.048Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hermione obviously has that problem (cf. her speech about House Ravenclaw in ch. 34), but I would have expected Harry to avoid falling into such an obvious trap.

Hermione is less passionate about Ravenclaw than Harry is -- e.g. Hermione in January thinks that she should have gone to Gryffindor. Harry is very clear about wanting to go to Ravenclaw, and belonging to Ravenclaw.

Either way it's clear that it's marked how many points each student gets -- Dumbledore in Hermione's trial mentions she has earned 103 points for Ravenclaw so far, and even in canon it seems to be known who cost them/won them points (e.g. in Harry Potter & the Philosopher's stone, the protagonists are ostracized at some point for costing Gryffindor 50 points each)

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-11T12:43:55.401Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But at least I know now what true evil would say for itself, if we could speak to it and ask why it was evil. It would say, Why not?"

A brief flare of indignation inside her. "There's got to be a million reasons why not!"

"Indeed," said Dumbledore's voice. "A million reasons and more. We will always know those reasons, you and I.

Anyone care to name three?

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-11T12:56:06.832Z · score: 27 (31 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. you will be scolded
  2. your parents would be so very disappointed with you
  3. this is certain to go on your permanent record
comment by thomblake · 2012-04-11T15:05:06.664Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Surely "You've broken at least 3 school rules" belongs at the top of Hermione's list.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T15:54:58.378Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought you were being an ass. And I thought what you said was funny.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T09:44:09.647Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you will be scolded

By people who are in my ingroup? Certainly. People who I see as "them" (outgroup) can rage at me all they want. Overall this one seems weak.

your parents would be so very disappointed with you

It is very interesting how powerful this one still seems to be in my mind. I suspect I would have major psychological difficulties dealing with immortality for all or the abolishment of privacy.

this is certain to go on your permanent record

This one is very strong too.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-04-13T05:55:28.376Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

your parents would be so very disappointed with you

Yes. Don't know about the other two, but seeking the approval of various authority figures as they appear in my mind, consciously or not, is definitely one of my most frequent motivations when I act altruistically.
Not too troubled about privacy or immortality, though; I view both as more or less inevitable if a half-decent singularity does come, unless it's incredibly weird, not just Eliezer-level weird. That is, I want to want both, and don't currently worry too much as to whether I want either one in my heart of hearts.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T06:14:41.081Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not too troubled about privacy or immortality, though; I view both as more or less inevitable if a half-decent singularity does come, unless it's incredibly weird, not just Eliezer-level weird. That is, I want to want both, and don't currently worry too much as to whether I want either one in my heart of hearts.

The thing is that as awful as this sounds authority figures you care about dying is a source of freedom for people. I would never want my parents to die so I have say more "freedom" in defining my morality (or perhaps in ways my model of them in my head would disapprove of), but we would be locked into our socially defined roles much more than we are today.

Also an erosion of privacy makes normative feedback from your social group basically instant, people are pretty conformist, so a reduction of privacy means society wide greater conforming to social norms.

Which obviously can be a good thing by say much reducing murder or rape, but again is pretty much a big step towards say political totalitarianism and the domination of one human value system (that happens to be favoured by such an envrionment or happens by pure chance to be the dominant one when the transition happens) over others.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-14T09:18:13.353Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

...thanks. I think.

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-12T07:15:42.117Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't tell if I'm being upvoted for my sarcasm or for mistaken impressions of sincerity, but 18 seems like a lot of points for snark. Either is okay, I guess, but there is some conflict.

Until thescoundrel's reply I didn't take the question seriously. It seemed to me that Dumbledore and Hermione were self righteously congratulating themselves for how not evil they were, and that MarkusRamikin was fishing for participation only for the sake of socializing.

comment by thomblake · 2012-04-12T16:43:01.474Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I took ArisKatsaris's and yours to be Dumbledore's and Hermione's answers to that question, respectively, and was amused.

Humor gets highly upvoted. 18 upvotes doesn't mean person X thinks your comment is better than a comment with 10 upvotes; it means that on net 18 people thought to upvote it. And lots of people upvote for humor.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-12T08:38:50.553Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't tell if I'm being upvoted for my sarcasm or for mistaken impressions of sincerity, but 18 seems like a lot of points for snark. Either is okay, I guess, but there is some conflict.

I evaluated your response relative to the question, not your intent (and would have put the intent down as 'satire').

Those are actually two of the most powerful reasons real people don't 'be evil' and would even serve as a non-trivial component of what a description of 'evil' would reduce to if we wanted to break down how the cognitive algorithm works.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T09:45:52.222Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your response basically is why I'm not "evil". I up voted because of that.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T15:53:07.044Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People like you worry me.

I identify as 'evil' when it's safe to do so, because it's apt. I worry about people who think they're not evil but act evil when they think no one could ever know, or who think they're outright good but may one day be faced with a traumatically delivered realization of the fiction that is the ordered, punishment-delivering universe their parents conditioned them to act as though they believed in, or who surrender their judgement of right and wrong to the mob.

Those sorts of people tend to not be very good at being good, and to be even worse at being bad. They can't be depended on to either follow a system of laws or their own self-interest to the best of their ability. They are difficult to model and surprisingly volatile.

Of course, my problem with this might be my fault. I'm not sayin'; I'm just sayin'.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-12T16:30:32.754Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think I ever claimed to be "good".

surrender their judgement of right and wrong to the mob.

Most people do.

They are difficult to model and surprisingly volatile.

Feature. Not bug.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-04-13T06:05:22.263Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think I ever claimed to be "good".

Now, now. Your preferences might not always reveal you wanting "good" things to the exclusion of "evil" ones, but I guess that you're socialized and "brainwashed" well enough to value valuing "good" things above the vast majority of selfish or neutral ones.
You've said before that you'd be scared to self-modify to want what you now want to want... but your moral intuition is fairly ever-present even when you aren't listening to it, right? Or am I just projecting myself?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-13T06:10:02.880Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well yes but there is quite a big difference between having moral standards and actually living up to them enough to think of oneself as "good". At least in my brain truly "good" people are very rare.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-04-13T06:31:05.390Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Haha, the thing is, I was raised partly on D&D, which was my first source of a metaethical theory, and there, at least in theory, much of alignment is defined by intentions (at least, that's how I read it in my teenage years). Then again, I might have twisted that a bit to conform to my own beliefs. Either way, I grew up believing that e.g. a witch who has never actually hurt anyone personally but helps an evil tribe and would betray marauding "heroes" to them can indeed be "Lawful Evil", and, consequentially, a con artist who's sensitive, guilt-ridden and helps the poor sometimes can indeed be "Chaotic Good" (Oskar Schindler - the real one, not Spielberg's flat copy - is a hero for me, his case feels incredibly heart-warming). It's a carticature of my actual feelings, of course, but nonetheless I'm attracted to what is derisively called comic-book morality; I find it, at the very least, better for society than e.g. "rational egoism" informed with Hansonian theory.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-12T17:10:38.969Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think I ever claimed to be "good".

That's a very fair complaint. I'll edit my previous post.

They are difficult to model and surprisingly volatile.

Feature. Not bug.

I suppose. Objectivists are less worrisome, but admittedly inferior company. And the rare few who by every appearance are as good for goodness sake as you could ask may not cause worry, but there's always something disquieting about them.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:39:34.708Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Speaking practically, I suspect that indoctrination is responsible for a surprising percentage of the good attitudes people have. Society putting up a giant wall of opprobrium to bad acts in children is in all likelihood a major factor in why we are good - habits are wonderful things.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-13T17:20:20.829Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is there an amount of external modification of behavior that you'd allow as child-rearing without calling it indoctrination?

Or can you tell me precisely what you mean by that word?

Or, for that matter, the word 'society'? Aren't 'parents' enough? Does it really take a village?

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T19:19:00.188Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a word that's often used negatively, but it's not necessarily bad. Embedding a doctrine into a child is a pretty necessary part of parenting, I'd say.

And it doesn't "take a village", but parents are not generally the only influences a child has - school, friends, TV, extended family, and the like all exist, and most of them do a decent job of trying to pound certain important things into kids' heads.

comment by loserthree · 2012-04-14T01:05:02.079Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a word that's often used negatively, but it's not necessarily bad. Embedding a doctrine into a child is a pretty necessary part of parenting, I'd say.

Thanks. I'd still like to know if and how you differentiate indoctrination from non-indocrtinary child-rearing.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-14T04:22:44.472Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not a topic I've given sufficient thought to to provide a well-considered answer. But at first blush, I'd say that "indoctrination" only refers to subjective things - morality, ideology, religion, and that sort. Objective things - letters, numbers, etc. - are simply education.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-14T04:31:50.421Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hm.
I'm not quite sure in what sense a choice of language is objective but a choice of religion is subjective. They both strike me as aspects of a culture... though it is admittedly easier to raise a child without a religion at all than to raise one without a language.
Then again, I'm content to say that human parenting pretty-much-universally involves indoctrination. As does education, for that matter, although not all indoctrination is educational and not all education is indoctrination.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-14T14:40:42.777Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But you're not teaching the kid to believe in English, just how to speak it. Saying to your kid "This is what Christians believe" would be education, saying "This is what we believe" is indoctrination. It's the difference between creating knowledge and creating belief(as fuzzy as that line can be sometimes).

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-04-14T15:04:38.313Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(nods) Similarly, you aren't saying "this is what English-speakers speak," you are saying "this is what we speak."

I'm not suggesting that indoctrinating someone in a language is the same thing as indoctrinating them in a religion, or that it's morally equivalent, or that they are equally useful, or anything of the sort. But they are both indoctrination (as well as both being education).

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-04-12T07:22:06.259Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

thescoundrel's list seems more like things Quirrell or Harry would come up with than Dumbledore or Hermione.

Also, I thought your comment was hilarious, so there's that. Maybe it's because I read it in 11-year-old Emma Watson's voice.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-12T08:02:16.959Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I asked seriously, but I upvoted you for making me smile.

comment by Alsadius · 2012-04-13T02:37:51.258Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You spend way too much time worrying about how you're getting too much karma, man :p

comment by Percent_Carbon · 2012-04-13T07:07:26.567Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Curiosity is a virtue.

These two posts make up about a quarter of the total karma points I have. They are outliers beyond my outliers. The reasons people give for upvoting them are entirely worth investigation.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-11T12:47:33.081Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anyone care to name three?

  1. Because evil causes people to feel pain.
  2. Because evil causes people to feel grief.
  3. Because evil causes people to feel fear.
comment by Baughn · 2012-04-11T13:41:49.653Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course they do.

Why is this a problem?

Assuming evil people will be susceptible to such arguments is similar to assuming a sufficiently smart AI will automatically become good.. well, you didn't say otherwise.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-04-11T13:47:26.246Z · score: 30 (32 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Assuming evil people will be susceptible to such arguments

I didn't say evil people will be susceptible to such arguments.

I was naming three reasons that good people have to not be evil, not three arguments that would cause evil people to stop being evil.

comment by Baughn · 2012-04-12T09:51:53.215Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Dumbledore was looking for the latter, though.

He isn't going to find any, but that's beside the point.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-04-14T09:24:12.805Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(