Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107

post by b_sen · 2015-02-17T01:17:07.195Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 355 comments

Two new short chapters! Since the next one is coming tomorrow and we know it'll be short, let's use one thread for both.

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 105 (and chapter 106, once it comes out tomorrow).  EDIT: based on Alsadius' comment about thread creation for MOR chapters, let's also use this thread for chapter 107 (and future chapters until this nears 500 comments) unless someone objects to doing so.  Given that this is the final arc we're talking about, thread titles should be updated to indicate chapters covered.

There is 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.)

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Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-18T09:56:16.246Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell will be killed by Harry at the end -- but this is all a part of the plan.

Suppose that Quirrell is not the original Riddle, but is just another Riddle's copy. If Quirrell and Harry are both copies of the original Riddle, the original Riddle had no reason to prefer Quirrell's life to Harry's life.

The story about a good hero saving the world by defeating a horrible villain: he did not have to fake it. He could make it real, by letting two of his own copies fight against each other. Realistic hero Harry will be better than a fake hero; he will be more authentic; there will be no risk of discovering his secret in the future.

Just like Harry had a magically induced blind spot in his mind, also Quirrell can be manipulated. (Memory changes, imperius, unbreakable oath... there are many options.) This is why Quirrell does not kill Harry, why he teaches him things, any why he is making him angry at the end. This all is Quirrell's purpose; he is just a tool to prepare Harry for the role of king of the world. Quirrell is not optimizing for Quirrell; he is optimizing for Riddle.

So, this is what I imagine: First Riddle created his copy, Quirrell. Maybe with a specific purpose, maybe just as a backup copy. But later he was not satisfied with the outcome, when he realized that his new memories will not be preserved. So he later created another copy, Harry, killing himself in the process. Before that, he somehow magically commanded Quirrell to train Harry for the role of the king.

Quirrell may not be aware of this, because he was magically brainwashed. This is the power he knows not, the power that will cost him his life at the end. He is actually magically forbidden from killing Harry.

Not sure if the original Riddle was a sociopath (that would explain why he doesn't mind his two copies fighting to death against each other), or whether Quirrell's personality is another effect of the magic, preparing him to be the perfect villain.

Anyway, when Harry outsmarts and kills Quirrell at the end... this is exactly what Riddle has planned from the beginning. This was his plan for becoming a hero. (Maybe there will be a moment when the victorious Harry/Riddle will regain all original Riddle's memories. Or maybe not, because that could make him behave less authentically afterwards. Or maybe yes, because discovering that your favorite teacher was actually Lord Voldemort and defeating him is the most appropriate moment for a minor personality change.)

EDIT: Oh, now it's obvious what is in the mirror, any why Harry has to be there. The mirror contains Riddle's memories that are to be implanted in Harry soon. By the way, Dumbledore already knows many of these things, and has his own plans.

Replies from: Benito, Bugmaster, SilentCal, Benito, JoshuaZ, gothgirl420666, Vaniver
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2015-02-19T16:16:01.274Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course! Why did no one realise this! When horcruxes are basically copying yourelf like an upload (cf. the work of Robin Hanson) then all of the standard theories apply; when you have many tasks to do, run copies of yourself to do them. What other Hansonian techniques could the horcruxes be used for?

I mean, Tom Riddle should be having an excellent life, whilst he's made a copy of himself to figure out how to run the world. Then that copy could be responsible setting up the above plan, and made two more copies.

This reminds me how it's said that Quirrell is inspired by Hanson. Not just his cynical explanations of human behaviour, but also his economics of copying minds. Neat.

comment by Bugmaster · 2015-02-19T04:25:11.717Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe Quirrel and Harry are just individual vectors in a massively parallel multiverse-spanning genetic algorithm, designed to produce the ultimate Tom Riddle.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-02-19T22:15:17.535Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The challenge for this theory is squaring with ch. 102 Quirrell's Parseltongued dismissal of Horcruxes as "meaningless" and "not truly gainsaying death", and so on, and with Quirrell's more recent Parseltonged statement that he cannot be truly killed by any power known to him. I guess he's brainwashed into both these beliefs, with the latter being factually false?

Replies from: TobyBartels, Viliam_Bur
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T22:33:15.863Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The first was said as a snake animagus, and it's not clear whether the inability to lie applies there too.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-20T09:46:46.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell's Parseltongued dismissal of Horcruxes as "meaningless" and "not truly gainsaying death"

Could have referred to generally known Horcrux 1.0, which is non-destructive. There could also be Horcrux 2.0, known only to Tom Riddle.

(There is no mention of Horcrux 2.0 in the story, but we already know that at least two spells have advanced versions: Patronus, Avada Kedavra, and now possibly Transfiguration. Also, if non-destructivity of the copy is the only problem, this problem seems relatively easy to fix once a person is aware of it. There is a technical problem of mixing your personality with the original personality, which you reduce by copying into a baby, and saving your memories. Then there is another technical problem of becoming a helpless baby, which you can solve by creating a non-destructive copy that will protect the baby, which also helps to overcome the Interdict of Merlin.)

Quirrell's more recent Parseltonged statement that he cannot be truly killed by any power known to him

Okay, this one is more serious. If horcrux is merely a copy, then this does not make sense: any number of copies can be killed. So either horcrux is not what Quirrell said, or there are other spells protecting Quirrell. (Also, "horcrux as a copy" would not explain how Quirrell is a spirit able to possess bodies, or how he can use the horcrux in the space, so there is obviously more than just copying.)

Replies from: SilentCal
comment by SilentCal · 2015-02-20T16:36:06.399Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd bank on other spells; "meaningless" is a pretty strong dismissal, and I don't think it could apply to something that let you become a disembodied possessing spirit. The Pioneer horcrux might just be an evil surprise for another planet some day.

Replies from: alienist
comment by alienist · 2015-02-21T02:06:12.897Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Pioneer horcrux might just be an evil surprise for another planet some day.

Probably not, space is incredibly empty.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-23T06:31:22.173Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The main danger, I would imagine, is that somebody searching for signs of extraterrestrial life [that is, extra-their-terra, not extra-our-terra] might actually seek it out. (Hopefully anyone with the technology to make such a search successful already knows about magic and can safeguard against it.)

Replies from: alienist
comment by alienist · 2015-02-24T04:47:33.564Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, that raises the question how exactly does magic interact with aliens? Come to think of it how do hocruxes interact with Terran non-human sentients?

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2015-02-18T19:51:29.174Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This theory is flipping epic. Wow.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-02-19T03:45:02.455Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a very interesting idea. What probability do you assign to it?

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-19T09:41:55.704Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is too complicated, and also my knowledge of HPMOR is suboptimal. (I forgot many parts, didn't read it again, and I have read other fanfics meanwhile. Also in the discussions about HPMOR I regularly read insights that I have completely missed.)

"You know, boy," Professor Quirrell whispered, "I had thought... to teach you everything... the seeds of all the secrets I knew... from one living mind to another... so that later, when you found the right books, you would be able to understand... I would have passed on my knowledge to you, my heir... we would have begun as soon as you asked me... but you never asked."

This also contradicts my theory, unless Quirrell is planning to yet give Harry a last-minute ultra-compressed lesson.

By the way, how much human education is necessary to overcome the Interdict of Merlin? Because the students still have to study the books, don't they? Could teachers just give 1% in speech and let them learn the remaining 99% from books? Could Quirrell give Harry the 1% of everything in this final lesson? His flaunting of overpowered magic could be an introduction to this lesson. Also he made sure they have enough time.

Okay, here are a few silly numbers:

  • Quirrell is Riddle's non-destructive copy, Harry is the destructive copy -- 10%
  • Quirrell "wants" his body to be killed by Harry, without possessing Harry in turn -- 50%
  • there is a spell/curse/oath (other than prophecy) that forces Quirrell to decide suboptimally for his survival -- 10%
  • Quirrell could not kill Harry (with gun) and survive, if Harry now refused to obey him -- 30%
  • the mirror (or the room with the mirror) contains Riddle's memories -- 30%
  • Dumbledore suspects that Harry is Riddle, and expects him to reach the mirror -- 70%
Replies from: JoshuaZ
comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-02-19T14:01:32.315Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Those all sounds like reasonable estimates: too bad. I was hoping to possibly make a few quick bucks out of a conjunction fallacy bet. But given that it is you I shouldn't be surprised that the actual calibration level looks pretty sane.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-20T09:49:09.717Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess my time spent at the CFAR workshop wasn't completely wasted. :D

comment by gothgirl420666 · 2015-02-19T02:14:29.133Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This theory makes sense, but I'm not sure how it could be done in a narratively satisfying way. "Harry defeats Voldemort" is a lot better than "Voldemort wins, only Harry is Voldemort, so in a way Harry wins, but really there was no battle in the first place, and..."

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-19T09:13:35.678Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A narratively satisfying ending could be Harry defeating Voldermort without getting Riddle's memories back. (But reader would be clearly told about the original Riddle's plan.)

Dumbledore probably expected this, so maybe he separated Riddle's memories into two separate heaps: the technical skills, and the values. Harry will take the first part, but refuse to take the second part. (Okay, this feels dumb: why would Dumbledore even provide the opportunity to take the second part?) Or Harry may use the Philosopher Stone to somehow protect his "self" from being overwritten by Riddle.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T22:30:24.906Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dumbledore will provide the opportunity to take the second part iff he predicts that Harry wouldn't take it.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-18T15:17:56.413Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Quirrell and Harry are both copies of the original Riddle, the original Riddle had no reason to prefer Quirrell's life to Harry's life.

By this reasoning, 2 Horcruxes is as many as 7.

Quirrell may not be aware of this, because he was magically brainwashed. This is the power he knows not, the power that will cost him his life at the end. He is actually magically forbidden from killing Harry.

This seems possible. (The other details, as always, seem to reduce the probability.)

comment by dxu · 2015-02-17T02:35:44.701Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...Huh. Unless I've been Obliviated, the summary for HPMoR on fanfiction.net used to show "Hermione G., Harry P." on its character list. Now it says "Hermione G., Tom R. Jr." instead.

EY really doesn't miss anything, does he?

Replies from: JoshuaZ, Transfuturist
comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-02-17T03:03:16.744Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

While amusing, it doesn't seem like a good idea for new readers. Is essentially a spoiler.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-17T04:13:10.340Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...For canon?

Replies from: JoshuaZ
comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-02-17T12:29:05.336Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. Spoiler that it essentially this story will emphasize that. No also that it isn't "canon"- in the canonical version there's a piece of Riddle in the real Harry but its influence is pretty minimal and the person making decisions is still Harry.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-17T16:53:26.656Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd argue that's still the case in this story. If anything, it's more misleading than spoiler. (Which is fine for an in-joke, of course)

comment by Transfuturist · 2015-02-17T02:45:24.461Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is so evil.

comment by UnclGhost · 2015-02-17T19:33:56.511Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Professor Quirrell then turned back to where the Potions Master lay sprawled, bent over and placed his wand on Professor Snape's forehead. "Alienis nervus mobile lignum."

The Defense Professor stepped back, and began to move his left fingers in the air as though manipulating a puppet on strings.

Professor Snape pushed himself up from the ground by smooth motions, and stood once more before the corridor door.

From Chapter 88: Time Pressure, Part 1, before anyone knows about the troll yet:

"You know," Harry said, as he turned his head away to stare at the ceiling illusion of a clear blue sky, "that still creeps me out sometimes."

"What does?" said Fred or George.

The powerful and enigmatic Defense Professor was 'resting' or whatever-the-heck-was-wrong-with-him, his hands making fumbling, hesitant grabs at a chicken-leg that seemed to be eluding him on the plate.

Are there any other times that Quirrell is described making similar gestures? (Note that another time he apparently controls someone else--the centaur in Chapter 101--he doesn't do this, but that may be due to the centaur actually being dead as some have speculated.) [Edit for Ch. 106: Confirmed; the centaur and Fluffy became Infieri.]

comment by jaime2000 · 2015-02-17T20:17:00.839Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just realized why some spells were causing Harry dread, apprehension, and anxiety in chapter 104. It's not because Professor Sprout is controlled by Professor Quirrell (which she is), since other spells of hers fail to trigger the effect and yet one of Tonk's spells does. It's because Quirell is using metamagic to influence the outcome of the battle! He empower's Sprout's brown bolt so that it tears through Professor Snape's shield, and he quickens her stunner so that Snape can't dodge. Then he empowers Tonk's spell to ensure that she will take out Sprout.

In retrospect, this makes perfect sense. There are too many people involved, and combat is inherently chaotic; there is simply no way Quirrell can predict exactly how the fight will go. But he can be there, using gentle nudges to actively steer it towards the small region in outcome-space that ranks high in his utility function, and hope that Harry Potter is too distracted by the battle to notice (which he was; his deduction that Quirrell is behind the plot never once mentions this fact). As a bonus, this explains how Sprout can defeat Snape, when normally we wouldn't expect her to stand a chance.

Replies from: Anatoly_Vorobey
comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2015-02-19T13:21:48.589Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The entire point of that whole battle is to encourage Harry to commit his hidden resources (Lesath under the Cloak). The whole brawl is basically a show put on for Harry's benefit. Since Quirrell controls the time of Harry's coming to the scene, he could easily take out Snape himself and move him out of the way earlier. He didn't need to bring Sprout or manipulate others to come.

Since Quirrell neglected to ask Harry in Parseltongue whether he still has hidden resources Quirrell doesn't know about, it's still just about possible that Cedric Diggory, Time-Turned, is following them under the second Cloak. I hope he does.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2015-02-17T03:02:58.297Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I cannot be truly killed by any power known to me.

Prophecy, much? The power he knows not? I mean, that's a gimme but...

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T10:43:41.894Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's also a misleading statement. In a world where there is an artefact granting permanent transfiguration just down the corridor, there is nothing to stop Harry (or anyone) incapacitating Voldemort long enough to permanently transfigure him into air.

Replies from: MarkusRamikin, skeptical_lurker
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-02-17T10:51:02.291Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Instead of air, I suggest Christmas present wrapping paper. Just for spite.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T11:36:43.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That would result in a twist ending. An act of such sheer pure evil would instantly catalyse his Tom Riddleness and transform him into Voldemort v2, complete with snake face and glowing red eyes.

But the reason I suggest air is that once it disperses it cannot be Finite Incantatemed or Reparoed or targeted by any magical effect we know of. We don't know if Philosopher's Stone transfigurations are permanent in every sense or just in the duration sense, and you do not want any possibility of someone bringing Voldemort back with a first-year spell like Finite Incantatem.

Replies from: polymathwannabe
comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-02-17T13:13:20.316Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would expect Finite Incantatem to work like Dispel Magic and require a caster level check.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T15:59:58.712Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That still wouldn't be safe. The possibility of using "massed Finite Incantatem", as raised by Quirrell, suggests that low-level casters can dispel high-level ones' spells, either by combining power (circumstantial help modifier?) or by getting a natural 20. And matters being as they are, if Voldemort gets transfigured, odds are good that it will be done by Harry (who has a low caster level).

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-17T10:56:36.767Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, firstly the Horocruxes would keep him alive, so all you've done is kill Quirrel, and secondly I'm pretty sure Voldemort's sheilds would prevent Harry either incapacitating or transfiguring him.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T11:28:29.057Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, firstly the Horocruxes would keep him alive, so all you've done is kill Quirrel

On the contrary. Transfigured people don't die until the transfiguration wears off, which it never would, so Voldemort would be effectively dead but without any anti-death protections (such as turning into a disembodied spirit) triggering.

I'm pretty sure Voldemort's sheilds would prevent Harry either incapacitating or transfiguring him.

Not the point. Voldemort said he couldn't be truly killed, not that he was invincible in battle. Any discussion of Voldemort's killability assumes that the attacker has somehow penetrated his ordinary defenses.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-17T19:15:01.746Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

so Voldemort would be effectively dead but without any anti-death protections (such as turning into a disembodied spirit) triggering.

Horcruxes don't work that way in HPMOR:

Horcrux sspell channelss death-bursst through casster, createss your own ghosst insstead of victim'ss, imprintss ghosst in sspecial device. Ssecond victim pickss up horcrux device, device imprintss your memoriess into them. But only memoriess from time horcrux device wass made. You ssee flaw?"

Horcruxes create copies, like uploads. I think what Voldemort means is that whatever happens to this copy, the Voyager copy will survive.

However, if there is a second mechanism of surviving death availible to him, I would imagine he would set it up to be triggered by any form of permanent vegetative state.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-17T22:20:18.566Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ssecond victim pickss up horcrux device, device imprintss your memoriess into them.

Hmm. Is Harry a Horcrux, or a part of Harry, like his scar? Does Harry have the ability to infect secondary victims?

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T11:39:52.027Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, Harry is a Horcrux (created accidentally by the AK attempt), and Ginny is possessed by Tom Riddle because she is imprinted by his diary. Someone speculated earlier that Roger Bacon's diary is Tom Riddle's Horcrux in HPMOR, which has now pretty much been proven true, and so now Harry is a Horcrux and has been imprinted by a second Horcrux.

I think if Harry's dark side has the ability to infect anyone, it would be Harry. I'm actually surprised that Harry hasn't gone far darker.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-18T11:45:45.753Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

which has now pretty much been proven true

It has? How?

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T11:49:32.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because Quirrel referred to Harry as Tom Riddle. Its possible that Quirrel put some other item which is a Horocrux of Tom Riddle in Harry's vicinity, but the diary is by far the most probable because it mirrors canon.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-18T12:19:19.364Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My interpretation of that was extremely different: that Harry got riddled when he was a baby, in Godric's Hollow.

In canon, Ginny reads the diary a lot and this enables Riddle to take her over when he wants to. When he does, she's basically a puppet: it's (fully aware) Riddle scrawling on walls and summoning basilisks, and Ginny's completely unaware of it; afterwards, Ginny is basically her normal self again, with no memory of what Riddle did while operating her body.

There's no sign in HPMOR of anything like that happening to Harry. The Harry whom QQ addresses as "Tom Riddle" has (so far as we can tell) psychological continuity with the Harry we've been following through the previous hundred-plus chapters. There's no sign of "absences" like Ginny had. After being addressed as "Tom Riddle" (and, again, with no indication of any personality changes or anything) Harry resolves explicitly that he is going to do whatever he can to stop QQ. So if we are supposed to understand that the diary had some major effect on Harry, it has to have done it in a way that doesn't "mirror canon" much at all.

What I think is being described here is something more like a personality-upload from Voldemort to baby-Harry, so that what remained in Godric's Hollow that day was (at least according to Voldemort's plans) Tom Riddle implanted in baby-Harry.

(What I can't work out is whether we're supposed to understand that it went wrong, with the Riddle personality getting kinda isolated, like grit in a pearl, as Harry's "dark side", or that it worked exactly as planned and the Harry we see now is what you get when Tom Riddle's mind grows up in baby-Harry's brain, raised by his adoptive parents. I'm not even sure what the latter means exactly. Perhaps the idea is something like this: after the upload, what we get is more or less the same as what we'd have got if baby-Riddle had been raised in Harry's place, but Riddle's adult memories are also stashed away for later use and the latter are the "dark side".)

[EDITED several hours after posting to fix an embarrassing word-omission. I don't think the sense was ever unclear.]

Replies from: lfghjkl, skeptical_lurker, roystgnr, jkaufman
comment by lfghjkl · 2015-02-19T06:10:24.574Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

but Riddle's adult memories are also stashed away for later use and the latter are the "dark side".

I agree with everything you said except that. Look at this line from chapter 17 after Harry picked 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.

It makes it pretty clear that the second spell Voldemort cast on baby-Harry was Obliviate. Since we know that obliviated memories can not be recovered only Riddle's thought-patterns are left in Harry, and that's his dark side.

Replies from: Izeinwinter, gjm
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-19T18:11:39.886Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not necessarily - infants brains are to plastic to retain memory, so it's entirely possible it just erased itself all on it's own.

Uhm. I've been entertaining the idea that Slytherin did something to his descendants to make them immune to memory magics. In which case, maybe the entire point of horcruxing an infant was to get a fork of his mindstate without his memories, because the direct approach would not cut it.

On the other hand, this chain of inferences is getting a wee bit longer than I am at all comfortable with.

comment by gjm · 2015-02-19T08:33:23.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, that's very plausible.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T21:24:47.632Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My interpretation of that was extremely different: that Harry got riddled when he was a baby, in Godric's Hollow.

The problem with this is that presumably since Harry was AKed by adult Voldemort, his scar contains a Horocrux of adult Voldemort.

So if we are supposed to understand that the diary had some major effect on Harry, it has to have done it in a way that doesn't "mirror canon" much at all.

Well, EY often mirrors canon, while making certain changes for the sake of plausibility - for instance the philosoper's stone works differently. I'm not exactly sure why he would want to change the effects of possession, but I could certainly see him changing the way it works.

the Harry we see now is what you get when Tom Riddle's mind grows up in baby-Harry's brain, raised by his adoptive parents. I'm not even sure what the latter means exactly.

I suppose it would mean baby-Harry knowing how to walk and talk from day one.

The more I think about it, the less sense any of this makes. I mean, sure I can buy that Harry's scar is a Horocrux subtly influencing his behaviour. I could imagine that there are multiple entities in his head. But 'Harry' seems to be the primary. If he can't remember any of Riddle's memories, what does it mean to say that he is Riddle?

comment by roystgnr · 2015-02-18T19:35:22.248Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree that Harry has been Harrymort from infancy. But I can't agree that the diary has no major effect:

There's no sign in HPMOR of anything like that happening to Harry.

Harry figures out Quirrell's identity almost immediately after Snape casts some sort of "Dispel Magical Confusion", yet the only character who would have the knowledge and incentive to magically confuse Harry about this is Quirrell himself, who seems to be incapable of directly using magic on Harry or Harry's magic.

I'm not sure exactly how Riddle's horcrux-diary would get around that rule. If two copies of Riddle can't use magic on each other normally, what does it matter if the two copies are Harry+Quirrell or Harry+diary?

But Quirrel does want to keep Harry confused about something, and then he gives Harry a fascinating book that resembles an object of Voldemort's which magically confuses someone in canon, and then Harry appears to lose focus regarding both the book and the questions that Quirrell wants him confused about, and then Harry appears to have been the subject of a magical confusion... The book sure looks suspect.

Replies from: gjm, Vaniver
comment by gjm · 2015-02-18T22:04:57.333Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I could certainly believe that having the diary has had some effect on Harry's mental state (though I think he's been a bit oblivious to Quirrell since before he had it). But that's quite a different matter from saying that since getting the diary he's been subject to such a transformation that before he was Harry Potter and now he's Tom Riddle.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-18T21:54:12.078Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the only character who would have the knowledge and incentive to magically confuse Harry about this is Quirrell himself, who seems to be incapable of directly using magic on Harry or Harry's magic

I seem to recall there being early evidence that McGonagall was influenced by Quirrell, one way or another, to ensure that he ended the school term as teacher. It seems out of character for her to knowingly enchant Harry, but I recall a line where she explicitly dismissed a felt sense of doom in a way that seemed out of character.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-18T15:31:34.974Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's no sign in HPMOR of anything like that happening to Harry.

Wild speculation: hat-and-cloak is Harry possessed by Riddle via Bacon's diary.

comment by dxu · 2015-02-17T01:28:08.801Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I love how so many people are acting as though their pet hypotheses have already been confirmed (both here and on Reddit), despite the fact that the only evidence we've got at this point for most of those hypotheses is Quirrell's word. I don't know about anyone else, but this seems to me like a golden opportunity for EY to pull some sort of epic subversion of expectations and then lecture all of us about confirmation bias or overconfidence or something.

Replies from: RomeoStevens, ChristianKl, NancyLebovitz
comment by RomeoStevens · 2015-02-17T03:11:49.889Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell can even fool people IRL. Let's hope he doesn't escape the box of the fanfiction. Maybe writing the fan fiction installed him as a tulpa on EY's wetware.

Replies from: Quirinus_Quirrell, DanArmak
comment by Quirinus_Quirrell · 2015-02-19T18:43:41.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am not a tulpa and am not (in this instance) running on EY's wetware.

Replies from: Lumifer
comment by Lumifer · 2015-02-19T18:55:50.628Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Slightly paraphrasing the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, "Well you would say that, wouldn't you?" :-D

comment by DanArmak · 2015-02-17T10:44:03.198Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, that's already happened long ago. (Look at that user's post history.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T16:12:33.482Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

EY did write that it's not his intention to mislead readers.

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-17T16:15:45.214Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not misleading readers, yes. Letting readers come to their own conclusion, which happens to be wrong, on the other hand...

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-02-17T03:46:36.279Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm feeling somewhat reassured that my theory that Quirrell is evil is confirmed, but is there still room left for him to turn out to be benevolent?

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-17T04:17:52.817Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seeing as HPMoR is in large part about pointing out how narrative logic doesn't work in reality, it seems plausible to me that even if Q == V, that doesn't necessarily imply that he's evil. (Well, I mean, he is pretty evil, but I'm not sure he's going to end up being the Big Bad of the story.)

Replies from: ReevesAnd
comment by ReevesAnd · 2015-02-17T14:39:42.721Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Following up on the idea of breaking narrative logic, might there not really be a Big Bad at all. Like, Voldemort has sobered up over the years and really just wants to be immortal. He'll go to great lengths to get there, but doesn't plan to destroy the world or anything. Just an idea.

comment by BloodyShrimp · 2015-02-17T02:59:31.740Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry made some serious mistakes in chapter 105.

First, the parseltongue honesty-binding could just be Quirrell's (selective!) wandless magic--I mean, he just forged a note "from yourself" (and why do you even MAKE a self-recognition ("I am a potato") policy if you just forget all about it once you're in a life-stakes intrigue) so you need a lot of extra suspicions going forward. But assuming it's real... there are crucial questions Harry can now profitably ask, with his help conditional on getting immediate Parseltongue answers, along the lines of:

"Why did you set up this elaborate ruse instead of just asking me? Most of what you're saying right now sounds like something I would've probably agreed to if you were open about it, but no, you had to pretend you were dying and kill my friend, so it sure seems like you're planning nefarious things I'd rather not aid even at the cost of my life and the hostages' lives... does my CURRENT utility function actually prefer your planned results to the death of me and the hostages?"

(This isn't the perfect phrasing; for one thing Quirrell doesn't necessarily know Harry's utility function to high accuracy, for another Harry might have disagreed to the "open" proposal at weaker dispreference than "this is worse than my death". But something similar...)

Iff Quirrell is at all "innocent" at this point, he'd want to answer these, and never mind the "my policy is never to reveal that much or people will know I'm guilty later when I actually need to keep mum" stuff; these stakes seem high enough to outweigh any future similar dealings. If he's guilty, then just die like you'd apparently prefer.

[the only edits I made here after getting responses were to correct my spelling of "Quirrell", and this note]

Replies from: dxu, imuli, LauralH, Velorien, DanielLC
comment by dxu · 2015-02-17T03:53:28.935Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree that Harry's actions weren't even close to optimal in that situation, but you have to cut him some slack; after all, he just found out that he was a fork of Lord Voldemort, that his best friend had been killed by his trusted mentor, and, oh, let's not forget that that mentor also happens to be Lord Voldemort. He'd have been hard-pressed to be thinking completely clearly after a series of revelations like that. (Mind you, all of these revelations sans the last one came from Quirrell himself, who's hardly the most trustworthy character out there, but the shock and emotional impact is real nonetheless.)

Replies from: BloodyShrimp
comment by BloodyShrimp · 2015-02-17T03:59:07.460Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Certainly, and in the actual situation, I would have done worse than he actually did. But, this kind of armchair analysis is extremely enjoyable, and a good way to improve your in situ skills.

comment by imuli · 2015-02-17T22:39:31.362Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean, he just forged a note "from yourself"

Or Harry just wrote a note that looked like Quirrell had forged it, to help his past-self figure it out at the appropriate time.

comment by LauralH · 2015-02-17T20:46:51.627Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps this is how Potter will "be seen to once again defeat the Dark Lord"? (re: ch65-66)

comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T10:47:40.007Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

While Quirrell could have asked Harry to help him as a friend, it would have risked Harry balking at any step in the process which involved sufficiently unethical action, at which point Quirrell would have had to pause what he was doing in order to intimidate Harry into compliance (and wait for him to deal with the shock etc.).

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-17T13:02:22.826Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell sometimes makes the mistake of pushing people too much. Perhaps as a consequence of too much cynicism. Harry would probably help Quirrell just because he cares about him... but Quirrell does not understand the concept of "care" and thinks it is only a role that Harry feels obliged to play, which he does not trust as a sufficient motivation to overcome obstacles. So he add further motivation; things that seem sufficiently motivating in his model of Harry.

comment by DanielLC · 2015-02-17T06:31:59.899Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm surprised Quirrell couldn't do a better job with the note. He could have given Harry the memory of making a new self-recognition policy, which would be a sensible thing for Harry to do after his occlumency training.

Replies from: ArisKatsaris, Velorien
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2015-02-17T13:19:13.467Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) It's not clear how easy it is to Memory-charm an Occlumens. 2) As far as we know, Quirrel & Harry can't directly use magic on each other.

Replies from: BloodyShrimp
comment by BloodyShrimp · 2015-02-17T20:06:29.897Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your point 2 is another thing I'm getting pretty suspicious of. Quirrell has set up a very long plan, and could easily have faked this effect with wandless magic, or an enchantment he could later dispel, all along.

Replies from: LauralH
comment by LauralH · 2015-02-17T20:44:58.247Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find it highly unlikely that he faked the Avada Kedavra/Patronus effect in Azkaban...

Replies from: BloodyShrimp
comment by BloodyShrimp · 2015-02-17T22:18:52.171Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That could just be a feature of the True Patronus, which is pretty anti-death and especially anti-indifference-to-other-people's-lives.

Replies from: LauralH
comment by LauralH · 2015-02-17T23:40:43.294Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But that's the first time Potter sees their magic interact, so what effect did Quirrell fake?

Replies from: BloodyShrimp
comment by BloodyShrimp · 2015-02-18T00:13:09.199Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The sense of doom. I thought the magic-can't-interact was mostly just the strongest edge of that--e.g. (maybe "i.e." too) their magic could interact but it would hurt them enough that they don't try.

comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T10:45:39.217Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Memory Charms on students set off the wards, so he'd be drawing attention to himself (plus he'd need to have Sprout do it, which may have various complications of its own).

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-17T16:19:11.692Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why is this comment retracted?

Replies from: Gavin
comment by Gavin · 2015-02-17T17:35:17.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Apparently Professors can cast memory charms without setting off the wards.

comment by imuli · 2015-02-17T01:33:44.440Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The spell in progress that may kill hundreds of students that the stone can fix — sounds like something transfigured into a gas.

Replies from: EricHerboso, solipsist
comment by EricHerboso · 2015-02-17T04:37:21.144Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If the snitch is both the trigger and the epicenter of this spell in progress, then this would explain how the three wishes will be granted by "a single plot". The game is played/watched by mostly Slytherin/Ravenclaw students, so mostly Slytherin/Ravenclaw students would die. I can see a school like Hogwarts then giving both these houses the House Cup as a way to deal with the trauma for surviving students and honor the lost children. So that's all three wishes: both houses win the House Cup, and the snitch is removed from Qudditch, all using "a single plot".

(from Iron_Nightingale on r/hpmor)

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-17T13:05:44.541Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The snitch will explode exactly at the moment when Slytherins and Ravenclaws have the same number of points, higher than the remaining houses. It will kill all students, thus freezing the house points.

This is what happens when you waste your wish on winning a stupid competition.

Replies from: WalterL
comment by WalterL · 2015-02-17T21:36:18.537Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or rather, Voldemort is the first kind of genie, the kind to whom no wish is safe.

comment by solipsist · 2015-02-17T01:39:51.494Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ooooh, I like it!

But Harry was out watching the Quidditch game breathing non-doomy breaths.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-17T01:51:03.451Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The promise was "tonight", and Harry left the Quidditch game at about 11:30 PM. Using colloquial meanings gives Quirrelmort until roughly sunrise to make good, which leaves him plenty of time even using the short nights of Scotland in June.

comment by Astazha · 2015-02-19T19:27:46.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Defense Professor sent Harry the forged message after 11:04pm, but early enough that Harry was able to arrive at 6:49 with 1 hour left on his time turner. The time-turner has been confiscated, but this is still a big security hole.

Example possibility: Harry and Quirrel arrive at the mirror, and time-turned Harry is already there with Dumbledore, Moody, Madam Bones and a dementor, which had not been detected by present Harry because patronus 2.0 is out and shielding everyone from it. Quirrel can't apparate away in Hogwarts, patronus 2.0 stops any AK, and Dumbledore & friends can hold Voldemort off long enough for the dementor to start sucking face with Voldemort, who is particularly vulnerable. Harry retrieves his time-turner and goes back an hour to message Dumbledore via patronus and set this ambush up. Asking Harry to state whether he has betrayed him is of limited use here, since the betrayal can happen in the future but impact the present.

Why has The Defense Professor deliberately preserved an hour on Harry's time-turner? It must be significant to his plan.

Replies from: alephphi, William_Quixote
comment by alephphi · 2015-02-19T23:00:34.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's been bothering me ever since chapter 104 came out. It doesn't seem likely that Quirrel would have just missed that, so I see a couple possibilities:

1) Part of Quirrel's plan somehow requires Harry to use the time turner once, so by having Harry go back five hours he limits Harry's use of it as much as possible.

2) It's a trap. Leaving via time turner is an excellent escape mechanism, and Quirrel knows that Harry has a tendency to overuse it for that purpose. So if Harry does manage to do something unexpected, Quirrel's hoping he'll go for the time turner--only to find that it doesn't work.

Why doesn't it work? Because Quirrel wrote the note at 12:04, went back via his own time turner, and handed the note to the anonymous Hufflepuff*. Thus, if Harry were to activate his time turner for the sixth time at 7:00, it would fail in some fashion ("for you couldn't send information further back in time than six hours, not through any chain of Time-Turners" -- chapter 61).

This is a pretty narrow window, though. Quirrel would have to anticipate that Harry might immediately go back from 11:04 to 6:04 once he got the message, so Quirrel wouldn't have written the note any later than 12:04 (if he wrote it at 12:20, for example, and Harry tried to go back to 6:04, it would fail and he'd know something was up.)

Which means that the forbidden period can't end any later than 6:04, and the absolute earliest Harry would want to use the sixth turn would be 6:49 when the whole thing started. So there's a 15 minute period from 6:49 to 7:04 where Harry thinks he can use the time turner but can't. This would be fine if the whole process were to finish in 15 minutes, but that seems unlikely, especially with Quirrel dawdling in chapter 107.

*It's amusing to think that Quirrel went back to 11:04 to hand the note to the Hufflepuff, whose quote "I know you said not to talk to you, but -" would have, if he had not been interrupted by Harry, ended something like "but I don't see why you gave me a note to just hand back to you ten seconds later. Hey--the version of you that handed me the note is still right there under the bleachers, waving at me and smirking." But really, there's no reason Quirrel would have taken that risk when he could have just gone back further and handed the note to the Hufflepuff "earlier".

comment by William_Quixote · 2015-02-20T12:04:11.675Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I noticed that as well. However, at Azkahban QQ reserved an extra use of the time turner for the end and it proved necessary. He may just think that as a best practice for plotting one should leave an extra use of time turners in as margin of safety.

comment by jaime2000 · 2015-02-17T06:25:56.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why are they having a normal conversation and occasionally switching to Parseltongue to confirm the more important bits? Why not conduct the entire conversation in Parseltongue? Seems like the best way to ensure full cooperation leading to superior outcomes for both parties. Harry has already sneaked one lie past Quirrell, and he has no idea how much of what Quirrell said is true outside of the parts he deliberately chose to speak in Parseltongue.

Replies from: Alsadius, MarkusRamikin, solipsist
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-17T11:39:38.512Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Parseltongue is a low-information-density language - it lacks a lot of technical terms, colloquial phrases, and the like. Communication is much faster in English.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-02-17T08:11:57.463Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because EY wants the chapter to be not-annoying to read, might be one good reason.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T10:39:34.256Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell models himself as more intelligent than Harry, and has had far more time to plan, so he expects to win in any even contest. Being able to lie grants both parties great flexibility of options, which he expects to make better use of than Harry.

Replies from: garabik
comment by garabik · 2015-02-17T20:53:50.612Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

However, Quirrell seems to dislike lies - half truth, yes, misleading information, yes, but blatant lie is just not in his style. Whether this is an inherent feature of his character or sense of honour, or he wants to keep open the possibility to confirm his words later in Parseltongue if need be, that's an open question.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2015-02-17T22:50:04.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Inherent feature. We're told this in chapter 51:

"You can skip this part," Harry said.

The lips twitched again, and then went flat. "Then I shall skip it. Mr. Potter, you sometimes make a game of lying with truths, playing with words to conceal your meanings in plain sight. I, too, have been known to find that amusing. But if I so much as tell you what I hope we shall do this day, Mr. Potter, you will lie about it. You will lie straight out, without hesitation, without wordplay or hints, to anyone who asks about it, be they foe or closest friend. You will lie to Malfoy, to Granger, and to McGonagall. You will speak, always and without hesitation, in exactly the fashion you would speak if you knew nothing, with no concern for your honor. That also is how it must be."

There was silence, then, for a time.

That was a price measured in a fraction of Harry's soul.

comment by solipsist · 2015-02-18T03:52:22.529Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Voldemort doesn't at least sometimes use English to tell the truth, he'll never be able to lie to Harry again.

comment by TsviBT · 2015-02-17T02:27:46.692Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

[EDIT: the Dark Lord of the Matrix have fixed this.]

There's a glitch in the Matrix:

A blank-eyed Professor Sprout had now risen from the ground, had picked up Harry's wand and was wrapping it in a shimmering cloth.

Then Harry does some bargaining, and then...

After that, Professor Sprout picked up Harry's wand, and wrapped it in shimmering cloth; then she placed it on the floor, and pointed her own wand at Harry.

Replies from: avichapman
comment by avichapman · 2015-02-17T05:02:36.223Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I noticed that too. It's often a sign of obliviation. My secondary hypothesis is that it was a mistake and will be corrected in a later update.

Replies from: calef
comment by calef · 2015-02-17T05:22:02.844Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, it's already been changed:

A blank-eyed Professor Sprout had now risen from the ground and was pointing her own wand at Harry.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-17T03:12:40.909Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


  1. Quirrell does not say what the Stone really does. Harry does, in normal speech. (Presumably Parseltongue only prevents willful lies.)
  2. "Anyone else in Hogwarts" is pretty weak, especially since Dumbledore is presumably absent, and most of the people are at the Quidditch match (where is Sprout leading the others?). Especially as Quirrell interprets Hogwarts as "castle" in Parseltongue, and "unlesss I musst" is a pretty wide exemption.


  1. Harry will not be saved by the power of love. (80%?)
  2. Everyone involved in the deal gets 'what they want'--that is, cooperation on the Prisoner's Dilemma with a rational agent who (somewhat) shares your source code is rational, especially when defect-defect is miserable (presumably, both of them dead). (60%?)
  3. Hermione is revived (90%?) and is an Alicorn Princess (20%?).
Replies from: TsviBT, hairyfigment
comment by TsviBT · 2015-02-17T12:41:12.231Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Presumably Parseltongue only prevents willful lies.)

Quirrell also claims (not in Parseltongue):

Occlumency cannot fool the Parselmouth curse as it can fool Veritaserum, and you may put that to the trial also.

It seems like what you can say in Parseltongue should only depend on the actual truth and on your mental state. What happens if I Confundus / Memory Charm someone into believing X? Can they say X in Parseltongue? If they can say it just because they believe it, then Parseltongue is not so hard to bypass; I just Confundus myself (or get someone to do it for me), tell the lie, and then cancel the Confundus. If they can't say something because it is actually false, then Parseltongue is an instant win condition. You just use binary search to figure out the truth about anything.

Or maybe Parseltongue checks the speaker for mind magic, since this is the same principle as the Dark Mark, and Salazar is not too many levels below Voldemort. Is this evidence against the "Harry was Confounded to not realize Quirrell was Voldemort" theory? I don't remember if he talked about that in Parseltongue...

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-17T14:21:47.321Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Parseltongue depended only on the actual truth of the world, Voldemort would have won already, because you can then pull single bits of arbitrary information out of the aether one at a time.

Replies from: Izeinwinter, polymathwannabe
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-17T16:20:25.065Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was designed by Salazar to help his heirs cooperate - Presumably, all the obvious ways to fuck with it are well and truly walled off, because he'd expect a bunch of them to be morons about this and try to light the awesome gift horse of a working trust engine on fire. Also presumably, it isn't an universal oracle, the world not being currently ruled by Salazar Slytherin the God-King. At a guess, it either keeps a log of your life separate from your memory, or the ability to speak parseltounge depends on an intact mind, and the only thing you are able to say in parseltounge if you do memory charms on yourself is "I'm a moron who thinks obliviate is a toy".

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T16:24:29.099Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was designed by Salazar to help his heirs cooperate

That's the story Quirrell tells Harry.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-02-17T15:02:21.135Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But then Harry could simply start saying, "The ssecret to vanquishh deathh iss..." and his entire mission would be over.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-19T19:39:51.395Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"... not known to me yet."

comment by hairyfigment · 2015-02-17T03:31:50.453Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

especially when defect-defect is miserable

Harry, talking about his promise to take the killer of Narcissa Malfoy as an enemy:

Look, Draco, a pledge like this is just begging to go terribly wrong somehow, you know it would go wrong if this were a play -

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-17T05:01:27.590Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I called it long ago(well before the confession) that the killer was Dumbledore, and that this pledge would cause a rift between Harry and either Dumbledore or Draco. Not 100% sure which side Harry will come down on there, but I'd say I'm about 90% that he sides with honesty.

comment by DanArmak · 2015-02-17T14:03:52.956Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why does Quirrel need Harry's help to obtain the Stone? What can Harry do that can't be done by Quirrel, Sprout, Snape (who is now controlled by Quirrel), the other students present (who want to get the Stone but not to use it, bypassing the Mirror), Harry's Cloak and Time-Turner (now in Quirrel's possession), and every other resource Quirrel could have prepared (e.g. Bellatrix)?

Finally, why did Quirrel have to bargain for Harry's help, instead of having Sprout or Snape use Imperius on him?

I haven't seen any theory that explains this, but surely such a major plot point should have been hinted in advance.

ETA: Harry agrees with my interpretation that we're missing something:

Harry knew that this was too good an offer to make to someone at whom you were pointing a gun. Unless you desperately needed their help to get the Philosopher's Stone out of the magic mirror.

Replies from: WalterL, HungryHippo, Astazha
comment by WalterL · 2015-02-17T22:13:04.341Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think we've got Dumbledore to thank for this one, honestly.

CanonVoldemort went to every effort to kill Dumbledore, but it seems clear that RationalistVoldemort could have murdered him at leisure. He keeps Dumbledore around as a sort of Batman to his Joker. It puts the story where he taught him not to respond to hostage taking in perspective.

Despite his disdain, Voldemort has to recognize that Dumbledore's madness is occasionally an advantage. Since he elects not to kill Dumbledore, he has to compensate for it. I'd argue that he actually enjoys it on some level.

Thus, while all logic has Voldemort dead long ago (for all the reasons Harry/Quirrel discuss) Dumbledore leaps to the conclusion that Voldemort is alive and behind everything. That is, he leaps to the correct conclusion, for no reason.

Similarly, given a belief in the existence of Voldemort somewhere in the world, any other wizard would be searching diligently and inventively. Dumbledore, by contrast, sets up a trap that couldn't be more obvious if it was a box propped up by a stick. Quirrel openly mocks it earlier in the tale.

Its a trap that should never work, and yet, here we are, with Lord Volodemort entering the trap.

Harry is, to Voldemort's mind, mostly just a subset of his own abilities. Not as smart, shackled by stupid teachings, not as magically powerful. If the creator of the defenses was some kind of RivalVoldemort there would be no need whatsoever for him to bring the potentially traitorous Harry, but the defenses were designed by Dumbledore, and will be just as stupidsmart as you'd expect.

The traps set up by faculty are more or less just foreplay. They are set up by the Snapes of the world, just weaker and dumber versions of Voldemort. But Dumbledore's might be a whole other kettle of fish.

Perhaps, in order to reach the mirror you must pass a Dementor? Its a stretch to imagine him having a dementor in the school, but maybe its trapped somehow so it can't kill students?

Maybe you have to persuade a phoenix to bring the mirror? Or casting the spell to get to it requires your life energy so that if you don't have a phoenix giving you strength you'll die in the process.

Perhaps its as simple as the magical equivalent of a rock that only Dumbledore is strong enough to life. Or it is just keyed to only open for Harry Potter, because Dumbledore irrationally believes that Harry will be the next Great Hero.

The edges of Voldemort's abilities, those minor tricks and habits that Harry has that Voldemort hasn't deigned to acquire yet, might be the key to Dumbledore's final barrier. Its worth bringing Harry along for that.

Beyond that, I think there is a bit of Steerpike syndrome here. Voldemort is probably, on some level, lonely, and Harry/Tom is useful as a sop to this.

Replies from: Astazha, WalterL, TobyBartels
comment by Astazha · 2015-02-20T11:17:49.573Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think Dumbledore does shit for no reason. I think he knows more than he can let on, so he acts on what he knows but doesn't provide the real justification because it would compromise his sources and methods. He probably has extensive access to prophecies, which are the only way we know about that information can travel back more than 6 hours. Dumbledore has done some very long range things, like "your father's rock", and the hint to Lily about thestral blood. This is a guy who has access to many more relevant prophecies than we have seen. He at least has bugged Trelawney's bedside, and he may have sorted out better access than that. Plus, by being someone who is very powerful and extensively engages with, interprets, and acts upon prophecy, he becomes a relevant actor that prophecies tend to come to. Dumbledore is an excellent tool for prophecy, and vice versa.

comment by WalterL · 2015-02-20T21:51:14.435Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Univat ernq 108, V srry fhcre cebhq bs guvf thrff.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-23T06:26:48.003Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Spoilers for Chapter 108 should be in rot13 in the thread on Chapters 105–107. (At least, I think that's the rule, and I support such a rule. For now, I am having the good sense to not scroll up.)

Edit: Thanks!

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-18T04:01:53.115Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reference for Steerpike syndrome please?

Replies from: WalterL, drethelin
comment by WalterL · 2015-02-18T17:04:19.004Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Gormenghast books are more or less about a castle full of what I'd call anti-rationalists. They are entirely ruled by customs passed down from prehistory, and are generally incapable of change or improvement.

Enter Steerpike, villain of the piece and scullery boy. He is, I guess I 'd call it awake, and strives to improve his lot rather than being content with what his birth dooms him to. He is resisted at every turn by the denizen's bloody minded traditionalism (Spoilers: at one point he murders the 90 year old Master of Rituals, hoping to take his place, only for his 70 year old apprentice to come creeping out of the Room of Abiding where he has been waiting for this moment his entire life.)

Steerpike ultimately descends into terrorism out of more or less pure frustration. There's an incident where his evil works are discovered, but he feels relief more than anything else, since he no longer has to pretend to swallow their dogmas. I see shades of him in Voldemort's expressed deep loathing of the ordinary folks. I think he's delighted to have Harry to talk to, despite being his enemy.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:23:08.153Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks. Gormenghast is one thing that I found in my Google search, but the description that I read of Steerpike didn't highlight loneliness as a character trait.

comment by drethelin · 2015-02-18T07:08:15.342Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a reference to the Gormenghast trilogy, of which one of the main characters is an isolated teenager named Steerpike.

Replies from: Bugmaster
comment by Bugmaster · 2015-02-19T00:36:07.636Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I started reading the first book, but stopped about 20% of the way in (may have been less, it's been a while since then), because I found it stupefyingly boring. Does that trilogy get any better later on ?

Replies from: drethelin
comment by drethelin · 2015-02-19T01:41:16.497Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you find it boring it's probably not for you. I enjoy the language, the descriptions and so on. It's the same as my recommendation for LOTR. I liked it a lot but I don't think everyone should. I find both pleasant to read even when nothing is really happening in the story.

Replies from: Bugmaster
comment by Bugmaster · 2015-02-19T04:18:14.626Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oddly enough I really like LOTR as well as The Silmarillion... So maybe I should give this Gormenghast thing another shot, I don't know.

I think the difference between LOTR/Simlarillion and Gormenghast is that Tolkien's books contain well-crafted language and descriptions of scenery that are punctuated by moments of sheer epic overload; whereas Gormenghast contains the former but not the latter.

But again, I haven't made it that far into it, so I could be wrong.

comment by HungryHippo · 2015-02-17T14:14:16.651Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One theory voiced on the HPMOR subreddit is that Quirrell wants to use the stone to permanently transfigure himself into Harry.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-02-17T14:52:43.429Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That doesn't explain why he needs the real Harry to obtain the Stone.

Replies from: Luke_A_Somers
comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-02-17T16:06:20.849Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He wouldn't need Harry to obtain the stone. He'd need Harry as a model.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-02-17T16:58:38.363Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But then why go through all the trouble of first trying to convince, and then coercing, Harry to cooperate in retrieving the Stone? He can just go get the Stone by himself, and then tackle Harry later. Or stun Harry and take his body along.

Why do the complex plot that got Harry to come there at the same time as Quirrel, potentially disrupting his maneuvers against Snape, and risk Harry's interference while obtaining the Stone?

Replies from: Luke_A_Somers
comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-02-17T17:04:07.261Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was too flat about that statement. It was more of a guess what they were thinking. Making more ideas up - If he retrieves the stone, then Dumbledore will be on-site very quickly. Evidence will point to Quirrell, and Harry will become inaccessible.

He needs Harry there the moment he gets the stone so he can already be Harry by the time Dumbledore shows up.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-02-17T17:26:54.574Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That still doesn't explain why he needs Harry to cooperate in obtaining the Stone. Even if it's more convenient to have Harry walking along, rather than towing his stunned body, Quirrel went to a lot of trouble to secure Harry's explicit help. He actually bargained and traded promises with him.

Which also leads me to ask: why couldn't Quirrel just make Sprout or Snape mind-control Harry using Imperius? Why did he have to bargain with him?

Replies from: gjm, UnclGhost
comment by gjm · 2015-02-17T19:02:13.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, Harry is very good at resisting Imperius, even when cast by Voldemort himself.

Replies from: Alsadius, DanArmak
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-18T01:36:30.032Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In canon, Harry has also resisted even scarier magic cast by Voldemort.

comment by DanArmak · 2015-02-17T19:13:20.295Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good point. Although there's also whatever mind control spell Quirrel just used on Snape:

Alienis nervus mobile lignum

Which Google informs me is a quotation from Horace meaning '[puppet-]wires that others pull'.

Still, I agree it might be too hard to control Harry on short notice using intermediaries.

comment by UnclGhost · 2015-02-17T18:05:33.835Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Based on Harry apparently still feeling the aura of doom when Sprout was casting spells while Imperiused in Ch. 104, it's likely that casting spells on Harry through someone else is subject to the same problems that doing it directly causes. I guess he could still use more mundane means like a tranquilizer dart and some kind of gurney, but it would be difficult to accomplish without either touching or using magic on Harry in the process.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-02-17T19:07:08.437Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a plausible answer as to why he couldn't make Sprout or Snape cast Imperius on Harry. But it doesn't explain why he seems to need Harry's active help.

He could just put Harry into a small, nonmagical cage or box, and float the box along, without his magic ever touching Harry directly. Or he could stuff Harry into the pouch, like Harry did to him in the Azkaban arc. (Granted, Harry can't turn into a snake.) If he needed Harry to be stunned for the duration, he could have told Harry to stun himself, threatening to torture the other students if he didn't.

Replies from: avichapman
comment by avichapman · 2015-02-17T21:15:29.675Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just made a mental connection - probably a stupid one. The pouch's capacity was recently expanded and Cedric has yet to make an appearence...

comment by Astazha · 2015-02-20T11:04:11.629Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this is all part of Quirrel's long game. Voldemort could have taken Magical Britain by force, but didn't. Why Voldemort, then? To be a scary villain and make people rally to "David Munroe". Why? Political power is one answer, and it has been much talked about in the story, but I'm not convinced. "Rule Magical Britain" seems too small. But Magical Britain is the site of Merlin's creations. It contains the Philosopher's Stone. It contains Nicolas Flamel and his lore. It contains the Department of Mysteries, the Ministry has control over time-turners, and so on. Tom Riddle has been playing a very long game to obtain magical power. He has the secrets of Slytherin. He isn't stopping there. Because of the Interdict of Merlin and the resulting decline of magic, old magic is powerful magic. This makes Flamel (Baba Yaga?) a huge, obvious, and dangerous target for Riddle. Dumbledore is as powerful as he is in large part because of what Flamel has shared with him. Riddle wants that power too, and force will probably not do the trick. What he needs is to inhabit a personality that Flamel and/or Dumbledore would support during a time of great need.

The Philosopher's Stone is a huge milestone on his journey to power, but it's not the end. I think Quirrel is setting up a narrative in which Harry destroys Voldemort/Quirrel, but Riddle actually ends up inhabiting Harry (or already does). "Voldemort" can, of course, be resurrected as a convenient antagonist at any time, creating a crisis that will induce Dumbledore to teach Harry all he knows. Dumbledore can be killed, in either that or a subsequent crisis, inducing Flamel to share with Harry even more than Dumbledore knew. And Harry, as leader of Magical Britain and potentially Head Warlock, etc., will have access to other powers as well.

So that's why Harry has to be along, and possibly why Quirrel has suddenly turned obviously villainous instead of just taking Harry up on his offer to help get the stone. Harry is part of the narrative; he has to be there so he can be the hero. Harry's remaining hour on his time-turner might be an intended part of this to make the whole thing plausible to Dumbledore and/or the rest of Magical Britain, who must believe in the end that Harry did actually best Voldemort in some clever way.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-20T18:35:09.992Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It contains Nicolas Flamel and his lore.

Does Flamel live in Britain? In real life, Flamel lived (and died) in France; I can't remember if either canon or MOR said anything about his moving to Britain, but the Wikia doesn't.

Replies from: Astazha
comment by Astazha · 2015-02-20T19:41:13.758Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't know that and I may have made a bad assumption about Flamel's location.

comment by Unnamed · 2015-02-17T02:59:01.803Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell's Parseltongue statements could use a close reading.

I cannot be truly killed by any power known to me.

This could just mean that the Pioneer horcrux prevents him from being "truly killed".

And your girl-child friend sshall be revived by me, to true life and health

This seems quite explicit. Quirrell thinks that he can bring Hermione back to life.

Harry: You already have an idea for what you want from me. What is it?

Quirrell: Your help in obtaining the Philosopher's Stone.

(Not in Parseltongue.) Quirrell later asks Harry in Parseltongue to promise to help get the Stone, but he never says in Parseltongue that help getting the Stone is what he actually wants from Harry.

I do not intend to raisse my hand or magic againsst you in future, sso long ass you do not raisse your hand or magic againsst me.

Does this rule out Quirrell transferring his soul into Harry's body (wiping out Harry's identity and reuniting with the Tom Riddle groundwork that he laid in Harry's mind)? Because without this line, that would be my leading hypothesis for what Quirrell actually wants Harry for.

Replies from: Velorien, LauralH, linkhyrule5, Gondolinian, kilobug, None
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T11:09:43.834Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought it was worth revisiting Quirrell's past uses of Parseltongue. Most are nothing noteworthy, but there are a few interesting ones in Chapter 58.

I did not sseek to sslay the protector man!

Quirrell was telling the truth about not trying to kill Bahry.

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

While this could be literally true, or only true in the context of the hypothetical scenario suggested by Harry, it is worth noting that Quirrell never says in Parseltongue that the healer waiting for Bellatrix is real.

plan iss for you to rule country, obvioussly

This one sounds important now that we know it is definitely true (or at least was at the time).

Replies from: HungryHippo, falenas108, jkaufman
comment by HungryHippo · 2015-02-17T20:11:28.917Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

plan iss for you to rule country, obvioussly This one sounds important now that we know it is definitely true (or at least was at the time).

What does "you" mean, though? Tom Riddle? In which case Quirrell could just as well be speaking of himself. The physical body others designate "Harry"? In which case Quirrell could just permanently transfigure himself into Harry's body using the stone, shoot Harry and vanish the body and claim "Quirrell" had urgent business elsewhere.

Replies from: spriteless, Rukifellth
comment by spriteless · 2015-02-19T04:24:15.004Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Voldemort (or whatever created both Voldemort and Harry) consideres Potter the same person as himself, then "I do not intend to raisse my hand or magic againsst you in future, sso long ass you do not raisse your hand or magic againsst me." is a tautology and always true.

Replies from: Subbak
comment by Subbak · 2015-02-19T23:14:08.579Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is probably not the case however, as it would feel like a very cheap language trick given that Quirrel has used "you" and "I" in parseltongue in a non-ambiguous manner several times already. Even worse, if Quirrel was going by this then he'd risk Harry picking up the trick and promising to help himself get the stone, and not consider it a betrayal.

comment by Rukifellth · 2015-02-18T13:29:58.207Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What if Quirrell is so good at dissociation that he can lie through parseltongue by convincing himself that what he's saying is true?

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-18T23:14:03.919Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Canon!Voldemort, maybe. MoR!Voldemort, not a chance.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:08:59.576Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But rationalists should win, so MoR!Voldie should self-modify to be less Spock-rational and more capable of deceiving himself.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-20T23:00:57.780Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Only if the ability to lie to Harry Potter is more valuable than having a clearly-functioning mind that accurately represents the real world.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-23T06:16:05.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, I'm not denying that it's a Dark Art. He'd have to apply this very selectively. I couldn't pull it off. Eliezer probably couldn't pull it off. But this is Quirinus Quirrell we're talking about!

Edit after Ch 109: That's actually pretty similar.

comment by falenas108 · 2015-02-17T14:51:31.380Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That definitely hints that part of the plan is to make use of Harrymort in some way, which makes the "why the hell did he bring Harry along" part make sense.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-17T18:54:43.384Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Were any of these said by Quirrell as a snake, as opposed to Parselspeaking as a human?

Replies from: LauralH, gjm
comment by LauralH · 2015-02-17T20:40:28.913Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

All of them, as this is the first time Q hasn't turned into his Snake form first...

Replies from: UnclGhost, jkaufman
comment by UnclGhost · 2015-02-17T22:30:20.960Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For that matter, why did he ever bother turning into his snake form? Just to make Harry think he had the limitation of not being able to speak Parseltongue while human, for some reason?

Replies from: Kindly, Alsadius
comment by Kindly · 2015-02-18T01:40:47.931Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort is the last known Parselmouth, so it would be highly suspicious for Quirrell to also be one.

Replies from: UnclGhost
comment by UnclGhost · 2015-02-18T02:24:50.519Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Looks like I misunderstood the relevant passage in Chapter 49--when Quirrell confirms that other snake Animagi can't overhear them, he isn't implying that you also have to be a Parselmouth, he's implying that he can only understand Harry because Harry wills it.

comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-18T01:32:11.198Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For an obvious reason - pretend to have more limits than you do, to be underestimated.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-18T15:26:53.684Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This makes me wonder whether we can trust anything Quirrell said as a snake. Let's say Parseltongue is "the ability to speak in snake language" and was created by Slytherin so that his heirs would have a way to talk to each other in a trusting way (plus so they could talk to snakes, because he liked snakes). Then Harry or Quirrell speaking as humans in Parseltongue are using Slytherin's creation, but Quirrell speaking as a snake animagus is just doing normal snake-talk and wouldn't have the restriction.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-18T15:29:48.256Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But Quirrell's justification RE Parseltongue was "snakes can't lie". So if we believe his explanation to begin with, we must assume that normal snake-talk is equally trustworthy.

Replies from: jkaufman, jkaufman
comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-18T20:08:26.663Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another possibility is that snakes can't lie (lying depends on some brain feature they lack) and Parselmouthing people can't lie (part of how it works) but a snake animagus is neither and so can lie.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:07:54.499Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

FWIW, I'm pretty sure that EY would endorse the claim that lying depends on a brain feature that snakes lack. Lying in the sense of deliberate deception requires a theory of mind of the one being deceived, and snakes aren't that intelligent, or so I believe that EY believes (and for that matter believe myself).

OTOH, snakes aren't intelligent enough to talk either; in HPMOR, they only do so by borrowing the mind of the Parseltonguer. And Parseltonguers can conceive of other minds, both for the benefit of snakes and for their own speech. So this doesn't prove anything.

Replies from: jkaufman
comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-20T14:36:50.466Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lying in the sense of deliberate deception requires a theory of mind of the one being deceived, and snakes aren't that intelligent ...

Yes, I'm pretty sure that's EY's model.

But a snake animagus doesn't have a snake brain; you keep your normal mind while you're an animagus.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-20T18:02:24.943Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I agree. So if Quirrel were deliberately trying to mislead, ‘Snakes can't lie.’ would be a great statement to use.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-18T15:59:14.002Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or it's almost all truth with one crucial lie.

comment by gjm · 2015-02-17T19:58:12.578Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does that matter?

(If you're suggesting that snakes -- even ones that are actually human animagi -- can lie when speaking Parseltongue even though humans apparently can't, where does that come from? If conversely you're suggesting that snakes can't but humans can, surely Harry's failure to say 2+2=3 in Parseltongue is strong evidence against that.)

comment by LauralH · 2015-02-17T20:38:07.377Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the first point : he can only be defeated by the Power He Knows Not!

Replies from: Phigment
comment by Phigment · 2015-02-19T15:17:44.690Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the contrary.

Voldemort can only be defeated by The Power He Knows: Nott!

Notice that Theodore Nott is right outside. He was (oddly) traveling with the Meddling Kids Squad.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-19T16:53:00.368Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Very good.

However, there's nothing odd about his presence with the other children. He's a Slytherin who's been portrayed sympathetically ever since his induction into the Chaos Legion, so it's very plausible that he's a member of the Silvery Slytherins and thus someone Draco would turn to for help in an emergency.

Replies from: Phigment
comment by Phigment · 2015-02-19T21:11:11.091Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's odd in the sense that he hasn't been especially prominent in the story so far. All the others were involved in the bullying storyline, or are Draco.

Therefore, by the principle of conservation of nonsense, Theodore Nott must actually be polyjuiced Dumbledore.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-17T05:18:06.916Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On a side note, note that Quirrell is wrong or lying about already fulfilling the terms of the prophecy. The person that Quirrell marked as his equal, who has powers that Quirrell knows not, is the version of Harry Potter after Quirrell forked himself.

Hence, presumably, the sense of doom.

(... what is odd, though, is that Quirrell seems to be on the losing end of that conflict of magic.)

Replies from: Scott Garrabrant
comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2015-02-19T07:55:18.597Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell marked Harry as his equal. I cannot imagine anything more marking someone as your equal than replacing their mind with your own.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-19T12:21:49.527Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

... but that's not marking someone as your equal, it's killing them and replacing them entirely. That's like saying murdering someone is marking them - maybe, but only in the useless-prophecy "A great nation will fall" sense.

Whereas HJPEV got the same mark that Quirrell got in his first year.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-02-17T12:43:47.893Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I cannot be truly killed by any power known to me.

Memory magics also make "known" rather flexible.

comment by kilobug · 2015-02-17T12:35:23.358Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not intend to raisse my hand or magic againsst you in future, sso long ass you do not raisse your hand or magic againsst me.

Seems quite weak promise to me. He just has to take hostages or do other actions/threats against something Harry values until Harry tries to stop him, and then he'll be free to do whatever he wants to Harry. He can even already have that plan in mind, and still say that sentence in Parseltongue.

But we are back to the problem of "no safe wish", promises made by Quirrell, even in Parseltongue, cannot be trusted. Same for

And your girl-child friend sshall be revived by me, to true life and health

If he does revive her to true life and health, and after 5 minutes kill her again, he would fulfill the promise.

Replies from: ChristianKl, Gondolinian
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T16:40:40.602Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Parseltogue doesn't seem to allow for careful evasive wording but actually makes people speak openly about their intentions.

It's also worth noting that parseltogue doesn't produce binding promises. To do binding promising the unbreakable vow is required.

Replies from: kilobug
comment by kilobug · 2015-02-18T13:53:50.717Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Parseltogue doesn't seem to allow for careful evasive wording but actually makes people speak openly about their intentions.

It's not as fuzzy/rich as human languages, so it's harder to do it, but it's always possible to only say half of the truth which opens all doors to careful manipulation

It's also worth noting that parseltogue doesn't produce binding promises.

Indeed, it doesn't prevent people from reconsidering/changing their mind later on. The speaker has to believe what he says is the truth when he says it, but he can be honestly wrong, and he can change his mind later on.

It seems from the way Harry worded his own part of the deal that if the speak knows he's likely to reconsider, he cannot openly promise it, but it's just a matter of "Harry now knows that future Harry may reconsider, so Harry now can't say future Harry will do it", only about the knowledge of Harry now, and is non binding on the future.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-18T14:06:06.739Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not as fuzzy/rich as human languages, so it's harder to do it, but it's always possible to only say half of the truth which opens all doors to careful manipulation

Richness isn't the only limiting factor. When Harry did his 2+2=3 experiment he automatically said 4. That seems the language automatically makes things that reveal the intention to come out.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:13:23.672Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a good thing that he tried to say 3 and not 5. Otherwise we'd be debating whether snake-language might not be rich enough to include 5. (Compare rabbit language in Watership Down, which has a single word for all numbers above 4, variously translated in the text as 5 or 1000.)

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-20T06:52:42.864Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a common feature of primitive languages (including Proto-Uralic, which Finnish and Hungarian are descended from, as well as possibly Proto-Indo-European according to this paper -- though it's best known from Australian languages), but there's no way Salazar Slytherin would have neglected to put a full system of numerals into a language designed to be used for trustworthily planning and executing plots.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-20T18:25:28.603Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's a full system of numerals? Even in Proto-Uralic, you could say ‘four and one’, and a human mind would understand that (whereas rabbits start getting confused, if I remember my appendix correctly). Conversely, in English, we don't have a word for 21; we just say ‘twenty and one’ (abbreviating the ‘and’ to a hyphen, while in French and German the ‘and’ remains).

Replies from: None, alienist
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-21T08:07:23.054Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A semi-relevant paper: http://www.academia.edu/1917177/On_numeral_complexity_in_hunter-gatherer_languages

A footnote:

Speaker variation is sometimes documented in the Australian numeral systems, but not systematically so. For Bardi, speakers differ greatly in the extent to which they accept numeralsbeyond those given in (2). Materials from the 1920s include forms such as gooyarra agal gooyarra agal gooyarra agal gooyarra ’two and two and two and two’ (for 8), but current speakers uniformly described such phrases as ad hoc enumerations which sounded contrived and ungrammatical. However, the presence of such formations in earlier materials – which date from a time when Bardi was still used in daily conversation – may suggest that the system has contracted as speakers’ knowledge of English has increased.

Also: https://numberwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/is-one-two-many-a-myth/ -- the urapon/ukasar thing suggests that you might be right, but that looks like the same structure as in Bardi.

I note in passing that the patterns in that first paper (that is, limits on numeral systems lining up areally, with Australian and Khoisan languages not having many numerals, other African languages varying but tending toward low limits, and Asian languages having high limits) look like they line up well with the IQ data I've seen, although South America is mildly surprising.

comment by alienist · 2015-02-21T01:57:57.209Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's a full system of numerals? Even in Proto-Uralic, you could say ‘four and one’, and a human mind would understand that

Are you sure? My understanding (from reading some anthropology paper I chanced across is that people in cultures without full number systems do get more confused by large numbers.

Replies from: None, TobyBartels
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-21T07:54:59.767Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right, that's the claim about the Piraha at least: their language has no numerals, only two terms for 'smaller amount' and 'larger amount' and then circumlocutions for things like 'many':

Frank et al. (2008) describes two experiments on four Pirahã speakers that were designed to test these two hypotheses. In one, ten batteries were placed on a table one at a time and the Pirahã were asked how many were there. All four speakers answered in accordance with the hypothesis that the language has words for 'one' and 'two' in this experiment, uniformly using hói for one battery, hoí for two batteries, and a mixture of the second word and 'many' for more than two batteries.

The second experiment, however, started with ten batteries on the table, and batteries were subtracted one at a time. In this experiment, one speaker used hói (the word previously supposed to mean 'one') when there were six batteries left, and all four speakers used that word consistently when there were as many as three batteries left. Though Frank and his colleagues do not attempt to explain their subjects' difference in behavior in these two experiments, they conclude that the two words under investigation "are much more likely to be relative or comparative terms like 'few' or 'fewer' than absolute terms like 'one'".

I haven't seen other studies, but I'd assume that people in cultures without full number systems would get confused by large numbers, just since they don't have practice with them.

Now, the claim about the Piraha is that they wanted to learn to count -- after Everett noticed they couldn't count, they got worried that they were getting ripped off in trade -- but couldn't. I don't know how much to trust that, though.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-23T06:24:30.732Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I still don't know what a full number system is, although you and nydrwracu refer to it again. Is the claim that English has one but Proto-Uralic didn't? If so, how is the distinction drawn?

The case of the Pirahã is different. They have less of a number system than the rabbits of Watership Down, and less of a number system than has already been established for Parseltongue. It makes sense that they couldn't learn to count [although the children could, if I remember correctly what I've read about them]. But I find it much harder to believe that a culture that can count to 4 can't learn to count beyond that.

As for confusion, I'll buy that you get confused much earlier if you grew up counting to smaller numbers. Most English speakers have no good idea how big a million is, even if they're comfortable with the word. Nobody has a good idea how big 3^^^3 is.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-02-17T12:50:00.613Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If he does revive her to true life and health, and after 5 minutes kill her again, he would fulfill the promise.

Well, earlier he did promise:

Help me obtain Sstone of Transsfiguration, and I sshall try my hardesst to ressurrect your girl-child friend to true and lassting life.

Replies from: garabik, Jiro
comment by garabik · 2015-02-17T21:03:35.786Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Help me obtain Sstone of Transsfiguration, and I sshall try my hardesst to ressurrect your girl-child friend to true and lassting life.

But not necessarily the same physical form - thus the Alicorn Princess.

Replies from: jkaufman
comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-18T15:44:23.210Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe she needs to come back as a unicorn, so she can have steady access to unicorn blood?

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-18T19:49:25.809Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Except that according to Quirrell, the unicorn has to die in the drinking for unicorn blood to have its healing effect.

Replies from: hairyfigment
comment by hairyfigment · 2015-02-19T00:04:16.472Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hence the wings - she's a phoenixcorn. /lie

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:10:32.885Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And when House Potter is elevated to royalty, then she (as a member of that house) becomes a Princess … now everything is explained!

comment by Jiro · 2015-02-17T17:04:11.235Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Memory charm him to believe that some random young female person is his friend, and restore that person.

Alternately, just find a young female friend who is already alive. Doing your best to resurrect a living person == no action.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-17T18:01:02.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

seems like that last one also doesn't explicitly prevent quirrell shooting harry with a gun.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-17T18:31:12.048Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

seems like that last one also doesn't explicitly prevent quirrell shooting harry with a gun.

"Raise my hand," in standard usage, also contains the use of any weapons to harm.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-18T04:35:05.963Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Then one assumes he wouldn't have to specify the magic clause (which uses a wand as a weapon held in the hand).

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:14:24.870Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wandless magic

comment by aleksiL · 2015-02-20T18:58:11.519Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there seem to be two separate challenges on the Potions room parchment: a simple one consistent with canon and the skills and abilities of the target audience, and a complex one requiring an hour or so of careful and precise work. Looks like Harry and Quirrelmort focus exclusively on the long formula, ignoring the puzzle.

On rereading the relevant part of Ch. 107, it appears that Harry has an idea he doesn't want to share shortly after the broomstick conversation. On a close reading, it appears that he manages to avoid the topic, first evading a request to answer a question in parseltongue by talking about Snape, then veering further off topic with dementors.

So did Harry manage to pull a fast one? Are the Effulgence instructions forged? If so, by whom? Is the duration of one hour significant for time-turning? What did I miss?

Replies from: b_sen
comment by b_sen · 2015-02-20T19:50:06.391Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ooooh. That may well be a challenge that behaves differently around people who were or weren't supposed to be there.

Perhaps solving the logic puzzle is sufficient to gain entry, and most students will either not think to flip the parchment over or get bored before they finish brewing the potion it describes. But Snape expects Voldemort to notice the lack of wards and decide to brew the potion, and accordingly has booby-trapped the potion in some manner that triggers upon its completion or after some time sufficient that he expects students to get bored first.

The duration may well also be significant for Time-Turning.

comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2015-02-17T07:53:02.273Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seems a bit strange that Quirrell didn't ask Harry to confirm in Parseltongue that Harry didn't have any contingency measures beyond those Quirrell already knows about (Lesath under the cloak). In the last chapter's discussion there were theories that Cedric Diggory might be around, time-turned with Harry. Even if not, why wouldn't Q make sure H doesn't have anyone else around to help or set up any other measures? Harry's promise "shall call for no help" isn't enough, if things are already set in motion for someone to help him.


comment by major · 2015-02-20T19:15:37.377Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a theory going around about how it was Amelia Bones who killed Narcissa Malfoy, based on nothing more than the stray thought 'Someone would burn for this.' What she said to Dumbledore during Hermione's trial ('You know the answer you must give, Albus. It will not change for agonizing over it.') seems to be taken as further evidence.


Of course it was Voldemort who did it!

I think what most of you fail to realize is, the whole thing happened after Voldemort heard the prophecy from Snape. Dumbledore predictably ignored the blackmail, and would not have killed anyone like that in retaliation (he would never crack, no matter what), but was willing to falsely claim he did it - one lie to an enemy is a small price to ensure no further loss of life to blackmail attempts. This resulting in Malfoy hating Dumbledore was also predictable. His hate kept the conflict alive after Voldemort's planned disappearance. This kept the lines of battle predictable, set the stage for Voldy's planned return.

I don't recall seeing anyone state this, and I really hope someone did - it would suck to be the only person who could realize something simple like this.

Replies from: hairyfigment
comment by hairyfigment · 2015-02-20T20:56:55.627Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did mention this, along with some other guesses.

comment by Velorien · 2015-02-20T14:49:05.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think much of what we are being told about Parseltongue is a lie.

What we've been told: Parseltongue is the language of snakes. Because snakes cannot lie, Parselmouths also cannot lie in Parseltongue. Salazar Slytherin invoked the Parselmouth Curse on himself and his descendants to take advantage of this last fact by using it as a trust engine.

However, snakes have no spoken language. This is a fact established by Muggle science. So what is Parseltongue, really?

Parseltongue has four confirmed functions.

  • 1) It can temporarily awaken snakes to the level of human intelligence.
  • 2) It can compel obedience from any snake so awakened.
  • 3) It enables two-way conversation with any snake. This seems to be a passive, area of effect feature, as Draco's Patronus speaks to Harry in Parseltongue without any way of knowing in advance that Harry will be able to comprehend it.
  • 4) It prevents the speaker from knowingly making false statements.

Note that 1,2 and 3 are thematically unrelated to 4 (given that one does not expect a snake to lie, and in any case can order it to speak the truth).

Suppose the wizard S (possibly Salazar, possibly not) creates a spell or ritual that makes one a Parselmouth. Is it likely that they create a magical user interface for controlling snakes, and then decide that it also needs to prevent the user from lying?

On the other hand, suppose S has created a perfect trust engine. They decide, as we know, not to make this information public, either in order to preserve an advantage for themselves and the allies whom they will teach the spell/ritual, or because they fear the chaos doing so would bring (every deceitful person would wish it destroyed, while everyone who fears being deceived would want it made universal), or both.

They then conceal the trust engine inside another, separate ritual, which grants the power to understand and command snakes. Even if such a ritual becomes known, people generally aren't bothered about the ability to command snakes (which are a low-status animal anyway). Nor will they see anything strange about Parselmouths using their speciality language to communicate securely with each other. If S is Salazar Slytherin, he also has perfect cover for why he'd want to create such a ritual because the snake is already his personal symbol - or perhaps he adopts that symbol after creating the ritual, giving himself and his descendants a plausible reason to be Parselmouths.

So why is the ritual known, according to Voldemort, as the Parselmouth Curse? There are no downsides to the power to understand and command snakes. But if S or one of their successors calls it a curse, that radically reduces the number of people who might seek to learn and use it.

P.S. One obvious argument for Parseltongue being a language is that being a snake animagus supposedly lets you speak it without being a Parselmouth. However, we don't actually have any evidence for this - Quirrell is a Parselmouth already, so his ability to speak Parseltongue in whatever form is not a test that behaves differently under different circumstances. His statement that a snake animagus is not the same as a Parselmouth only supports this observation.

comment by ourimaler · 2015-02-19T22:50:59.913Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What kind of impressed me about "The Truth, part 1" was the reveal.

Consider: In most mystery novels, the reveal scene(s) is where the detective explains what the reader has been struggling to figure out since the start of the story. It provides a powerful "ah-ha!" moment if done right.

Here, everything Harry figures out is stuff the reader most likely already knew, thanks to meta-knowledge. We're watching him figure out what we'd been hoping he'd figure out for dozens of chapters. By all rights, it shouldn't provide that ah-ha feeling.

And yet... it does. I think the stream of consciousness really sells it. It helped me feel like I was inside Harry's head, living through that realization.

comment by iceman · 2015-02-19T07:59:14.139Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of the ongoing patterns in HPMoR is how certain spells require people to believe certain things or to be in certain emotional states. Harry can perform partial transfiguration because he actually believes in timeless physics. Harry can cast Patronus 2.0 because of his beliefs about life and death. Avada Kedavara requires hate (or indifference).

I see no references to the conversation between McGonigal and Quirrell. "Professor Quirrell made a sharp gesture, as though to indicate a concept for which he had no words." McGonigal reacts. That there is a concept that these two characters know of, but have not actually explained to the reader. I expect this to play a part in the grand finale.

Almost everything related to Quirrell is related to death. There are simply too many instances to list exhaustively; this is just things that immediately come to mind. Voldemort was all about death during his reign; "mort" is in his name. He talks about stars dieing on multiple occasions. He brings the dementor to Hogwarts. He brings Harry to Azkaban. Hermione. Unicorns. The actual outcome of the conversation above that I linked to is that McGonigal whispers to Harry, "I had a sister once," and then leads to Harry going on his field trip with Lupin, which is about the Peverell brothers, which is about death. He has made his own wasting away prolonged and visible. Over the last few chapters, he has done certain things that would be counterproductive if his goal was to merely obtain the philosopher's stone.

My final prediction: Everything in the last few chapters which shows him being a sloppy carton villain is a ruse, is being done deliberately to manipulate Harry. Quirrell plays the game One Level Higher Than You. Quirrell's plot is to manipulate Harry into a certain mental state, which is directly related to the gesture he made to McGonigal, which is one of the major unresolved questions.

As to what end, there I am slightly hazy. My roommate believes that Methods is a retelling of The Sword of Good, and that Quirrell is at minimum the antivillian seeking positive utilitarian gains, possibly by vanquishing death. I think that's likely but am not confident enough to bet on it.

While we are at it, where are the Deathly Hollows? Quirrell took the Cloak of Invisibility. I presume that he has the Resurrection Stone if he's plotting something related to death. As far as I know, Dumbledore has the Elder Wand. Hey, didn't Quirrell say that he had a plan to defeat the Headmaster if he showed up?

Replies from: Viliam_Bur, gjm
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-19T09:03:31.648Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Quirrell wants to teach Harry to give up.

First he does it explicitly, during the lesson. Okay, that is not really giving up; it's rather "pretending to lose, so you survive and have your revenge later". But even that is difficult for Harry. So maybe learning this lesson is just a first approximation towards really giving up?

"The boy cannot be allowed to continue in this state of mind. He will become dangerous. ... It is my professional judgment ... that the boy could join the ranks of those whose rituals are inscribed upon the tombstones of countries."

And recently it seems like Quirrell is taking his time to break Harry psychologically, demonstrating his advantage by overpowered attacks, reminding him about all the hostages he can kill.

The sadness and horror that Harry had pushed down flared up again, and his dark side had no stored patterns for handling the emotions. Why, Professor Quirrell, why are you like this...

Professor Quirrell smiled. "That reminds me. Have you betrayed me yet?"

It seems as if Quirrell wants Harry to betray him. And then he would kill the hostages. And then he would tell Harry: "It's all your fault."

Which would be the opposite of what Hermione told Harry. But we already know that Quirrell is trying to push Harry in the opposite direction than Hermione would.

What is he trying to achieve by this? Maybe if Harry gives up, he will lose his ability to cast Patronus 2.0. Why is that important? Because it is the only spell that Harry knows and Quirrell does not; therefore the greatest danger to Quirrell?

Or maybe Quirrell wants Harry to snap and become an efficient ruthless killing machine just like him.

Replies from: LizzardWizzard, ChristianKl
comment by LizzardWizzard · 2015-02-19T14:21:23.002Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But quirell knows that Harry possesses the power which kills dementors, so it can't be related to prophecy from his perspective

Replies from: RobbBB
comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2015-02-19T22:06:40.169Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

'"he has power the Dark Lord knows not" could mean that the Dark Lord doesn't know that the power exists, or it could mean the Dark Lord doesn't know how to use the power. The prophecy didn't say 'he has power the Dark Lord knows not of.'

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-19T11:06:41.520Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or maybe Quirrell wants Harry to snap and become an efficient ruthless killing machine just like him.

"like" doesn't really get to the point. There a reason he calls him Tom.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-20T09:57:42.073Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So far, Harry is able to describe how to be an efficient killing machine, but he didn't kill anyone yet. Didn't even try.

comment by gjm · 2015-02-19T08:48:44.410Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the conversation between McGonagall and Quirrell

This isn't relevant to your comment here, but I was amused in the light of recent events by the following remark in that conversation:

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

Back on topic:

Quirrell's plot is to manipulate Harry into a certain mental state, which is directly related to the gesture he made to McGonagall

Maaaaybe. But in that conversation it seems to me as if the mental state he's referring to and gesturing at is something like "determination to do away with death by all means possible" and while Q might be bluffing when he indicates to anyone who'll listen that Harry's attempts are likely to have diastrous consequences, I'm more inclined to take him more or less at face value there.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-17T14:12:27.063Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We have a bunch of Parseltongue statements from earlier in the fic. Who wants to go back and see if any of them were lies?

Replies from: Tenoke
comment by Tenoke · 2015-02-17T17:02:12.564Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fwiw, I am not convinced that Quirrel is definitely telling the truth there. For one, "Sslytherin not sstupid. Ssnake Animaguss not ssame as Parsselmouth. Would be huge flaw in sscheme."

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-18T08:04:16.454Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He's human when he talks in Parselmouth, though, and chances are the whole Harry's-a-Parselmouth-because-Voldie-is deal is carried over from canon too.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:24:09.648Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He [QQ]'s human when he talks in Parselmouth

Only now. The past statements were made as an animagus.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-19T08:39:30.518Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Presumably because outing himself as a Parselmouth might have given the game away, but now Harry has already decided he's Voldemort so there's nothing to lose.)

comment by twanvl · 2015-02-17T11:00:06.215Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I cannot be truly killed by any power known to me, and lossing Sstone will not sstop me from returning, nor sspare you or yourss my wrath. Any impetuous act you are contemplating cannot win the game for you, boy.

The last sentence was not said in parseltongue. Could it be that Quirrell used English because it is a lie, and he believes that there is something that Harry could do to win?

Replies from: ChristianKl, drethelin
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T11:15:21.446Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could it be that Quirrell used English because it is a lie, and he believes that there is something that Harry could do to win?

Quirrell doesn't know whether Harry can do something he didn't think of.

comment by drethelin · 2015-02-17T17:45:27.942Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Parseltongue is limited, and perhaps Quirrell felt the need to use big words like impetuous and contemplating.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-20T14:22:27.640Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The last line of 107 says:

Those of you who have outstanding disputes regarding the Defense Professor's secrets should bet now, or forever hold your peace.

Anybody care to guess what secrets will be revealed in the next chapter?

comment by SilentCal · 2015-02-20T00:00:58.987Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Realization: when Harry first encountered the dementor and saw his parents' murder, he noted that the neutral patterns of the memory shouldn't have even existed. Maybe that's because it's a false memory? I note this now because it removes constraints from what V might have actually done that day.

Replies from: garabik, hairyfigment
comment by garabik · 2015-02-20T14:05:00.445Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe that's because it's a false memory?

It is very likely. Also from Chapter 3, when McGonagall told Harry about his parents' murder:

And somewhere in the back of his mind was a small, small note of confusion, a sense of something wrong about that story; and it should have been a part of Harry's art to notice that tiny note, but he was distracted. For it is a sad rule that whenever you are most in need of your art as a rationalist, that is when you are most likely to forget it.

comment by hairyfigment · 2015-02-20T20:39:12.884Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, but who cast it? If V did it before the inability to cast spells on each other went into effect, would the memory still be there today?

The absence of a Horcrux ritual would support your theory, but V could have done that with some guy he burned to death after the memory ends.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-20T20:43:54.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, but who cast it?

Voldemort had plenty of minions.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-23T06:32:51.852Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort didn't have nearly as many minions after his apparent death, although I admit that there would be some possibilities still available.

comment by BarbaraB · 2015-02-19T10:38:58.969Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did I understand correctly, that the parchment contained 2 alternate instructions for dealing with the room enchanted by Snape ? One side of the parchment contained a comparatively short puzzle, similar to the canon HP, while the other side contained incredibly long and laborious recipe ? When a child or young student is given 2 alternate version of homework, one short and entertaing, while other a boring and laborious pain in the ass, which one do they normally choose ? Voldermort, however, does not believe in simple solutions, he tends to do overkills all the time. Maybe that was the distinguishing feature, which Harry wondered about ?

"... real-world security systems had the goal of distinguishing authorized from unauthorized personnel, which meant issuing challenges that behaved differently around people who were or weren't supposed to be there."

Replies from: BarbaraB
comment by BarbaraB · 2015-02-19T17:07:53.484Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not retract, I just pressed the wrong button...

But, anyway, some people have hypothesis, that Voldermort plans for Harry to rule the world (as his copy). Quirrel says something like that in parseltongue during Azkaban arch. So some believe, he is showing Harry some of the most powerful spells in this chapter on purpose. That is also consistent with what is happening.

comment by Axel · 2015-02-18T00:29:17.310Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When Salazar Slytherin invoked the Parselmouth curse upon himself and all his children, his true plan was to ensure his descendants could trust one another's words, whatever plots they wove against outsiders.

  • You have two parents, four grandparents, eight grandparents, etc.
  • A generation is 20-25 years (depending on how young people have children)
  • Salazar Slytherin lived one thousand years ago.

In short, today either every wizard in Britain is a descendant of Salazar Slytherin or none is. It seems awfully convenient for Quirell to suddenly have a foolproof way to make Harry believe certain claims. It seems to me that the whole "snakes can't lie" thing would have been revealed when Quirell was trying to convince Harry he didn't want to kill Bahry in Azkaban. In fact, that would have shortened that particular discussion considerably, in a situation where time was essential.
It has already been established that ventriloquism and silencing charms exist and that Quirell can do silent and wandless spell casting, so the "two plus two" test could easily have been faked.

Replies from: UnclGhost, Kindly, MathMage, Liam Goddard
comment by UnclGhost · 2015-02-18T01:27:17.219Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Iirc, in canon, the Gaunt family (Voldemort's family) was the last living set of descendants of Salazar Slytherin, and they were very inbred by the time of the books, so it appears that JKR at least provided some workaround for this.

As for the reliability of Parseltongue, there's some precedent for it apparently serving as truth-enforcement. Chapter 49:

"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.


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

Harry nodded.

"Ansswer in sspeech."


"Will do as I ssaid?"


Professor Quirrell is known for his aversion to unnecessarily redundant conversation, so it seems likely here that he wants to be sure Harry is telling the truth. Later, in Chapter 66:

"Lessson I learned is not to try plotss that would make girl-child friend think I am evil or boy-child friend think I am sstupid," Harry snapped back. He'd been planning a more temporizing response than that, but somehow the words had just slipped out.

It would have helped Quirrell convince Harry in Azkaban, but it's possible he thought it would be more useful for Harry not to know yet how much information his unwittingly-true answers were giving Quirrell.

Replies from: imuli
comment by imuli · 2015-02-19T01:26:46.027Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And might possibly have prompted Harry to insist on hearing about Bellatrix in Parselmouth.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-19T11:33:03.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell didn't reveal that he's a Parselmouth but instead went through the road of transforming in a snake that might not be bound by the Parselmouth truth saying bind.

Replies from: tim
comment by tim · 2015-02-20T06:37:35.579Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ssnake Animaguss not ssame as Parsselmouth. Would be huge flaw in sscheme.

I think this is strong evidence for Quirrell being bound by the same rules in animagus form. Discounted because he could have very easily been lying there.

comment by Kindly · 2015-02-18T00:38:23.486Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The argument from number of descendants equally applies to the question "Why isn't every wizard in Britain, or none of them, a Parselmouth?" It does not make any particular feature of being a Parselmouth more likely.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-18T02:06:48.919Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

.. I have a theory about that.

What is the number one piece of advice we give people about relationships? The one rule which is regarded as the key to success and happiness in romance?

Its honest communication.

Salazar's decendants can have a perfect, magically enforced, version of that. And all they have to do is marry their cousin. The family wasn't obsessed with blood purity at all, it is simply that after growing up in a household where harmony was routinely established via this glorious gift of Salazar, the very idea of intimacy with anyone that this could not be shared with was usually repugnant.

That's why Quirrel calls it a curse. It lead the entire clan down a path of inbreeding! Unintentional consequences are unintentional.

Replies from: Tripitaka, fubarobfusco, skeptical_lurker
comment by Tripitaka · 2015-02-18T18:05:04.117Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Canon!Salazar is a bloodpurist already. He and the other founders of Hogwarts have a big row about it- who should be able to attend Hogwarts? Only the pureblooded! Apparently this is the reason why he built the chamber of secrets in the first place... Awesome theory otherwise.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2015-02-18T07:12:55.841Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's why Quirrel calls it a curse. It lead the entire clan down a path of inbreeding! Unintentional consequences are unintentional.

Perhaps — but in canon, Voldemort himself is not a pureblood. For that matter, his mother was not exactly raised to know how to have healthy relationships.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-18T10:12:47.752Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Riddle was born out of the near-final collapse of the bloodline. Grandparents were awful because of over 500 years of insularity and intermarriage. Mother whammies cute boy as escape tactic / because she's just seriously fucked up. But because his mother conceived him with someone not from the family, he ends up the first scion in, well, most likely centuries to be born with good health. Physically, anyway.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T06:53:41.246Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It lead the entire clan down a path of inbreeding!

By all rights, Volde should be an inbred retard, not a genius dark lord.

Replies from: Subbak
comment by Subbak · 2015-02-18T08:46:29.246Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's not how inbreeding works, though... If one of your parents' family (in Voldie's case, his mother) has been inbred for generations but the other parents has a completely different gene pool, then you should be fine. Inbreeding just makes it more likely that you have two of the same recessive allelle (which is bad in many situations), but Voldie only got one of each from his mother.

Replies from: None, skeptical_lurker
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-19T08:02:26.869Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is only if all deleterious alleles are recessive. Though of course, we don't have any numbers and can imagine anything.

ETA: and a single recessive deleterious allele in the father's genome would have disproportionate consequences. Although there would be about 50% chance of getting it, humans carry lots of such stuff, so overall probability of weak (but at least viable) progeny should still be high enough.

Replies from: Subbak
comment by Subbak · 2015-02-19T23:54:38.503Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Inbreeding just makes it more likely you get two of the same allele (with bad consequences if said allele is deleterious), it does not make it inherently more likely that any single allele you have is deleterious.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-20T16:25:48.672Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

True. And a progressively large portion of progeny would die before procreating, exactly because of that. Maybe there would even be bottlenecks along the way.

Yet it seems to me that a squib (?) whom Merope chose could have a different set of heterozygous=hidden deleterious alleles, which in Merope's genome would not have been eliminated yet, but getting close to it.

Also, how on Earth was Slytherin's curse even inherited? It would be something outside of genes, since he didn't know about their existence. So the ability would be develop undiminished with blood 'dilution', which means a Parselmouth cannot be seen as evidence of pure-bloodedness, which would be a blow to Draco's belief in his father's ethics... And in Harry's belief in genes-only inheritance...

Now, if Salazar was secretly a woman, and only daughters would get to be Parselmouths, that would be another story...

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T10:41:35.151Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I actually do understand genetics, but I forgot that Voldie had a muggle father. Been a long time since I read canon HP.

Replies from: BarbaraB
comment by BarbaraB · 2015-02-19T11:06:45.542Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unlike canon, Voldie's father in HPMoR could have lacked magical phenotype, but must have had one magic allele and at least some distant wizard/like ancestors, because of inheritance of magic in HPMOR (which is different from canon). If somebody sequenced the DNA of HPMoR version of Voldie's father, they would find the squib genetic make-up, not muggle.

That is just a side technical note, though. The father was probably sufficiently unrelated to the mother's family, which probably really helped with the inbreeding problems.

comment by MathMage · 2015-02-18T22:06:56.782Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's not how ancestry works.

First, generally speaking, exponentiation of ancestry breaks down rapidly (pedigree collapse), otherwise we arrive at the absurd conclusion that any living person has a trillion great-to-the-thirtieth-grandparents. In reality, go back far enough and ancestors start occupying many positions in the tree.

Second, obvious counterexample: suppose Salazar Slytherin marries and has one child, who marries and has one child, etc...and fifty generations later, there is still only one descendant of Salazar Slytherin per generation. This counterexample can be broadened; suppose the descendants of Salazar Slytherin's second child all died in the Black Plague. In short, it's not the case that a distant ancestor is either everyone's ancestor or no one's...not until you get to mitochondrial Eve and y-chromosomal Adam, anyway, but that's another story (and much older than 1000 years ago).

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-18T22:29:02.668Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, the exponentiation of ancestry proves that Salazar is the ancestor of everyone in Great Britain by the pigeonhole principle, except in your case where each of his descendants only has one child. That is an extreme outlier and not likely to happen, all things considered.

A recent paper shows that everyone who lived in Europe 1000 years ago is an ancestor of everyone living in Europe today (barring immigration of course):

We can furthermore conclude that pairs of individuals across Europe are reasonably likely to share common genetic ancestors within the last 1,000 years, and are certain to share many within the last 2,500 years. From our numerical results, the average number of genetic common ancestors from the last 1,000 years shared by individuals living at least 2,000 km apart is about 1/32 (and at least 1/80); between 1,000 and 2,000ya they share about one; and between 2,000 and 3,000 ya they share above 10. Since the chance is small that any genetic material has been transmitted along a particular genealogical path from ancestor to descendent more than eight generations deep [8]—about .008 at 240 ya, and 2.5×10−7 at 480 ya—this implies, conservatively, thousands of shared genealogical ancestors in only the last 1,000 years even between pairs of individuals separated by large geographic distances. At first sight this result seems counterintuitive. However, as 1,000 years is about 33 generations, and 2^33≈10^10 is far larger than the size of the European population, so long as populations have mixed sufficiently, by 1,000 years ago everyone (who left descendants) would be an ancestor of every present-day European.

Great Britain is a lot smaller than Europe as a whole, so it probably takes even less than 1000 years for this effect to work.

Replies from: Kindly, None, MathMage
comment by Kindly · 2015-02-19T01:26:38.310Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's true that a family tree either dies out or grows exponentially, but 2 is not necessarily the relevant exponent.

If the expected number of children an average descendant of Slytherin has is N, after 33 generations we should expect to see N^33 heirs of Slytherin. (You should think that this manipulation is suspicious as well, but it can be justified mathematically in, say, the Galton-Watson model.) Taking N=1.25 gives us only around 1500 descendants after 1000 years. And this is, if anything, an overestimate that does not take any intermarriage into account.

Powers of 2 only become relevant if you're looking backwards from a specific person; for example, if you want to know whether two people have a common ancestor. In that respect, I (tentatively) believe the paper you link to.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-19T01:56:13.997Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of us must be wrong; it can't both be the case that everyone 1000 years ago is an ancestor of everyone living today, and that the average person 1000 years ago only had 1500 descendants.

I think N is closer to two or higher; assuming the average person has two children, they will have four grandchildren on average, eight great-grandchildren on average, and so on. So there really should be 2^33 heirs, though not 2^33 unique heirs; many of those heirs are just different genealogical paths to the same people.

I think if N were below two, it would be below the replacement rate and the population would shrink over time.

Replies from: Kindly
comment by Kindly · 2015-02-19T02:15:43.277Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Indeed, I doubt that everyone 1000 years ago is an ancestor of everyone living today. I expect that everyone 1000 years ago is an ancestor of everyone [Edit: at least within a geographical region], of no-one, or is atypical in some way (for example, I expect a family that is well-off to have a number of children sampled from a different distribution, which has no reason to have mean greater than 2).

You are right, though, that across the board N has to be greater than 2 or else the global population would shrink over time. Moreover, if (when we look at Slytherin's descendants specifically) N is 1 or less, we expect the Slytherin line to eventually die out. This leaves room for a line that neither dies out nor grows as quickly as population does overall.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-19T07:55:15.123Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, bu 1) GB as a country has lots of immigration, 2) there are those Asian wizards sporadically mentioned before. Maybe the martial arts master whom Voldemort killed was another of Salazar's grand(...)children, and the girl living 'where they don't get invitations to Hogwarts' is yet another one?

(Or maybe she's a resurrected, Obliviated and Time-turned Hermione. After all, Quirrell didn't say he will restore her to Harry, andsuch a resolution would, from Harry's point of view, equal the destruction of Hermione's self and so a sacrifice large enough... Though that would violate restrictions on Time-turners).

On the other hand, it seems redundant of them to have discussed the possibility of a dying wizard making an Unspeakable Vow, and an opportunity for it not arising before the end).

comment by MathMage · 2015-02-20T01:14:45.221Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The pigeonhole principle doesn't say what you want it to. It guarantees that some ancestors will show up multiple times on everyone's trees; it does not guarantee or even suggest that every ancestor present on anyone's tree is present on everyone's trees.

That aside, it's not clear that the descendants of Salazar Slytherin would mix sufficiently with the rest of magical Britain in 1000 years of wizard generations (possibly longer than Muggle generations, given differing lifespans) for the paper's findings to apply. Running with general experimental assumptions is not effective for specific and extraordinary cases.

comment by Liam Goddard · 2019-10-25T13:18:25.517Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Due to the magic resonance, Quirrell can’t cast spells on Harry, so the test wasn’t faked.

comment by CronoDAS · 2015-02-17T21:01:03.545Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

WMG time:

Quirrell is dying because he's Tranfigured himself. (I don't know why at this point.)

Replies from: CellBioGuy, Astazha
comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-02-18T03:36:06.559Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I still think the illness is faked to give everyone a ready suspicion as to the nature of his inevitable failure as defense professor at the end of the year, rather than the true reason.

Replies from: LauralH, linkhyrule5, ChristianKl
comment by LauralH · 2015-02-18T04:26:21.525Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well some of it is faked, but he didn't intend to get caught drinking Unicorns.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-18T07:48:01.367Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Too much of the illness is verified by other people. Pomfrey, for example - I can't imagine Dumbledore would leave Quirrell alone with Pomfrey and then not check her for mind magic.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-18T17:33:06.568Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In that case I don't see the need for drinking unicorn blood.

Replies from: CellBioGuy
comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-02-18T18:08:54.923Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Increasing the credibility of the fake, of course.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-18T21:17:52.685Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Only towards Harry who's probably not in a good position to spot a fake illness anyway.

On the other hand it adds exposure. Even with Harry it lead to the episode with the centaur.

comment by Astazha · 2015-02-20T20:36:10.805Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

From Ch 79:

"You are making highly questionable assumptions," the Defense Professor said with an edged voice. "What makes you think I did not steal his body outright using incredibly Dark magic?"

I think this is what is atrophying Quirrell's physical body.

comment by Gavin · 2015-02-17T18:51:01.463Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrel seems on the road to get the Philosopher's Stone. It's certainly possible that he will fail or Harry ( / time-turned Cedric Diggory) will manage to swipe it at the last minute. But with around 80k words left to go, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of story left if Harry gets the stone in the next couple of chapters.

I draw your attention to a few quotes concerning the Philosopher's Stone:

His strongest road to life is the Philosopher’s Stone, which Flamel assures me that not even Voldemort could create on his own; by that road he would rise greater and more terrible than ever before. (Chapter 61)

“It’s not a secret.” Hermione flipped the page, showing Harry the diagrams. “The instructions are right on the next page. It’s just so difficult that only Nicholas Flamel’s done it.” (Chapter 87)

“I was looking to see if there was anything here I could figure out how to do. I thought, maybe the difficult part about making a Philosopher’s Stone was that the alchemical circle had to be super precise, and I could get it right by using a Muggle microscope—” “That’s brilliant, Hermione!” The boy rapidly drew his wand, said “Quietus,” and then continued after the small noises of the rowdier books had died down. “Even if the Philosopher’s Stone is just a myth, the same trick might work for other difficult alchemies—” “Well, it can’t work,” Hermione said. She’d flown across the library to look up the only book on alchemy that wasn’t in the Restricted Section. And then—she remembered the crushing letdown, all the sudden hope dissipating like mist. “Because all alchemical circles have to be drawn ‘to the fineness of a child’s hair’, it isn’t any finer for some alchemies than others. And wizards have Omnioculars, and I haven’t heard of any spells where you use Omnioculars to magnify things and do them exactly. I should’ve realized that!” (Chapter 87)

So we have multiple mentions of the possibility of creating a Philosopher's Stone. We also have Quirrel's promise not to kill anyone within Hogwarts for a week. And Flamel may still be out there, with the knowledge of how he created the Stone in the first place.

All this leads to the possibility that Quirrel gets ahold of the current Philosopher's Stone, and Harry learns enough in seeing the stone in person to be able to recreate it using a combination of magic and technology.

You can't transfigure anything that doesn't exist yet, so just having a Stone doesn't mean an instant singularity. You can't just will a superwizard or an AI into existence. This leaves plenty of space for a war between two sides, both of which have permanent transfiguration at their disposal.

comment by gRR · 2015-02-18T06:08:09.848Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am confused about how Philosopher's stone could help with reviving Hermione. Does QQ mean to permanently transfigure her dead body into a living Hermione? But then, would it not mean that Harry could do it now, albeit temporarily? And, he wouldn't even need a body. He could then just temporarily transfigure any object into a living Hermione. Also, now that I think of it, he could transfigure himself a Feynman and a couple of Einsteins...

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T06:49:19.722Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Transfiguring someone into existence just so they can die a few hours later would certainly be regarded as dark arts. If Harry ends the transfiguration on Hermione's dead body, they QQ can use it as a template, whereas it might not be possible to transfigure Feynman for the same reason you can't transfigure a lightsaber.

Replies from: CellBioGuy
comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-02-18T07:26:01.221Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Quirrel will restore Hermione to life. He will also gain access to a Hermione template that he can use on inanimate matter to create more of her to threaten Harry with the torture of.

This doesn't even require him to have the stone. It would work perfectly well with temporary copies too.

Replies from: Subbak, skeptical_lurker
comment by Subbak · 2015-02-18T08:49:55.038Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If this was feasible then all Dark Wizards would probably be using temporary clones of their minions to do their bidding instead of real minions.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T11:30:31.910Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are three possibilities here:

1) It takes longer to clone someone than the transfigureation lasts, so by the time you have cloned their feet, their head has detransfigured. (This assumes that humans are so complex that you have to concentrate on one part of them at a time, like Harry's pencil.) In this case, cloning is useless.

2) It takes longer to clone someone than the transfigureation lasts, but the time-limit starts once the transfigureation is complete. In this case, cloning minions is still useful for increasing numbers before a battle, or for suicide missions, but the dark lord would also have to work out that the body needs to be kept cold (otherwise parts of it would die while you are transfiguring other parts) and then warmed and brought to life with a defibrillator. Its quite possible no-one would ever have thought of this, and had the skill and moral flexibility to implement it.

3) It takes less time to clone someone than the transfigureation lasts. In this case, the earth would quickly be overrun by self-replicating minions.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:36:24.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So (3) can be ruled out on empirical grounds.

Replies from: Subbak
comment by Subbak · 2015-02-19T23:45:35.506Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is still weird, though. Do we have any bounds on the relation between size of the object and time you can maintain the transfiguration. Harry can maintain (without contact) some transfigurations for a pretty long time, even with a large-ish object like a cauldron. Unless the time you can maintain a transfiguration decreases very fast with the size of the end object (Harry transfigured a unicorn and a big rock into something small and maintained it easily), there is no reason why Quirrel would not be able to create transfigured clones able to clone themselves. And we know that transfiguring an inanimate object into something living can easily be done for strong wizards, as McGonnagle proved early in the story with the desk into pig thing.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T11:43:42.476Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right now, Quirrel holds all the cards, certainly against Harry, and Dumbledoor has shown himself to be immune to blackmail.

But maybe later.

comment by cogitoprime · 2015-02-18T02:55:26.637Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Realization: Not only is it suspicious that Harry finally makes the Quirrell=Voldemort connection almost immediately after Snape hits him with an anti-Confundus spell but the fact that Quirrell hasn't obliviated Harry yet is positive proof that he intends Harry to know that Q=V for the time being. For what purpose?

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-18T04:20:27.189Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrell can't safely cast spells on Harry.

Replies from: cogitoprime
comment by cogitoprime · 2015-02-18T04:34:16.768Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oops, he could just have Snape do it though or wake up someone else to do it.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-18T11:52:24.832Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

.. It's possible Harry can't be obliviated. Salazar wanted his descendants to have a trust engine. Memory charms are a good way to break such an engine. So he may have taken steps to prevent that. Heck, Occlumency might suffice all on it's own to put a stop to that trick.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-18T18:28:31.186Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Parseltongues couldn't be Obliviated, I would expect that to become something known in legend. Memory Charms get thrown around like candy, after all.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-18T18:49:46.786Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do we know it isn't? I mean, you have a very good point, and I didn't think of that problem - it is really not a secret you could plausibly keep for a thousand years, even with flawless commitment to family loyalty, because sooner or later someone will try to obliviate one of you and get away both alive and with their memory intact.

But on the other hand, Parsel-tongue seems like the kind of thing that's going to just accumulate rumors about it's properties like it was coated in velcro. Picking out which of the properties attributed to that ability are actually real from all the baseless rumors might be quite difficult. Especially if there are other defenses against obliviate.

.. And if defenses are possible, they have to exist. About 3 seconds after someone told me about memory charms and obliviate, I'd personally make "Become Safe From That Shit" priority number one, They're skincrawlingly, mindwarpingly awful spells. The kind of thing where if there isn't any other counters, I'd move to mars to preclude the possibility.

Replies from: linkhyrule5
comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-18T21:07:11.774Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hm. Point. It really depends on how rare Parseltongues were - I'm pretty sure the only ones left are Voldemort and, well, Voldemort, but that might well be because Voldy killed them all. If they used to be "uncommons" rather than "rares", to use the CCG terms, then I'd expect the true legends to stand out much more than if nobody really knew much of anything.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-02-17T17:26:43.703Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given EY's noticeable penchant for echoing canon, I have a general guess as to what Quirrell's plans for the schoolmaster are...

Replies from: Macaulay, TobyBartels
comment by Macaulay · 2015-02-18T04:09:11.270Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Snape kills Dumbledore?

Replies from: SilentCal
comment by SilentCal · 2015-02-18T17:38:18.041Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Once you think of it, he couldn't leave that one out. There has to at least be a big nod, though the actual murder won't necessarily happen.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-18T04:03:36.993Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, don't be shy! We're all free to make predictions, as long as we don't rely on private or retracted information from EY.

comment by Kawoomba · 2015-02-17T16:34:03.264Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's commitment is quite weaksauce, and it was surprising that he wasn't called on it:

I sshall help you obtain the Sstone (...) sshall not do anything I think will annoy you to no good end. Sshall call no help if I expect them to be killed by you or for hosstagess to die.

So he's free to call help as long as he expects to win the ensuing encounter. After which he could hand the Stone to a subdued Quirrell for just a moment, technically fulfilling that clause as well. Also, the "to no good end" qualifier? "Winning against Voldemort" certainly would count as a good end, cancelling that part as well.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T17:02:39.475Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Parseltongue doesn't produce binding promises. There no need to technically fulfill clauses. It doesn't function as a commitment device. It just makes someone talk frankly about his own intentions.

Harry can't provide any stronger commitment and is indeed sorry about his inability to provide a stronger commitment.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-02-19T00:36:23.865Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Prediction: the philosopher's stone is the resurrection stone. QQ said Flamel wasn't the true creator, and two stones with resurrectiony powers runs afoul of Occam. V can still do his best to make a true Hermione, but it'll really be his model of her.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-19T01:00:04.272Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems a bit improbable as Q most likely already has the Resurrection Stone (in chapter 40, Harry relays to Q Dumbledore's description of the Resurrection Stone, and Q immediately realises that there are things he urgently has to do -- the obvious interpretation being that he has in fact seen the Stone before, not knowing what it is, and is off to get hold of it).

Though, now I think about it, perhaps that obvious interpretation is a bit too obvious and we should conclude only that Q wanted Harry to think he knew where to find the Resurrection Stone. (But there's no indication that Harry drew any such conclusion.)

Replies from: Tenoke, TobyBartels
comment by Tenoke · 2015-02-19T02:10:01.529Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought it is at least reasonable to suspect that the stone from Chapter 96 might actually be the resurrection stone.

Neither of them noticed the tall stone worn as though from a thousand years of age, upon it a line within a circle within a triangle glowing ever so faintly silver, like the light which had shone from Harry's wand

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:45:18.531Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's the right symbol, but in canon the Resurrection Stone is much smaller. I interpreted this as the Peverells' gravestone, enchanted to give a Peverell descendant the ‘Thrayen beyn’ quote upon making a suitable vow.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:42:51.367Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

he has in fact seen the Stone before, not knowing what it is

FWIW, this is a true fact in canon.

comment by b_sen · 2015-02-17T22:00:29.746Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What could Harry use to get out of this pickle?

  • His mind, obviously, especially since negotiation is a possible action.
  • Wandless magic? (Presumably learned from Bacon's diary.) Probably not anything requiring lots of magical power, but recall from the Azkaban arc that he could dispel his own magic almost effortlessly even back then. Now that he finds second-year spells easy, he just might be able to wandlessly manage that or other spells requiring very little magical power, such as Somnium, Innervate, and the TPC. Or possibly very small transfigurations (like a millionth of a gram of botulinium toxin), since he's had so much practice with that branch of magic.
  • Anything he's already transfigured and is carrying with him. Sulphuric acid chips?
  • His control over Dementors, which he doesn't need spells for.
  • Ritual magic? He may not need a wand to perform a ritual.
  • Possibly a backup wand / Time-Turner / other useful device?
  • Mastery over his Cloak? He didn't give it to anyone as a possession.
  • Mastery / ownership of other objects? Perhaps the Philosopher's Stone also has an "owner" property?
  • Summoning a phoenix? Even if he can't get a phoenix of his own, he may be able to call one to aid him in a selfless act of heroism.
  • Plans (for help or otherwise) already set in motion? Someone might look for him at the Quidditch game (probably as part of the debate about the Snitch), realize that he's not there despite setting up the banner and being interested in the outcome of the debate, and go look for him. Or maybe he's hidden someone in his pouch, or told Cedric about what he's doing. Or due to the Bayesian Conspiracy, Draco will realize that he's been Obliviated and help Harry.

I've probably missed something, so feel free to add more in the replies.

Replies from: ChristianKl, SilentCal, UnclGhost
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-18T17:34:47.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think its something he'll do alone.

Flamel + Dumbeldore aren't stupid. Especially Flamel's game plan is not known to us.

Replies from: b_sen
comment by b_sen · 2015-02-20T19:59:14.373Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Snape may also have an unknown game plan.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-23T06:28:45.114Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Especially since Snape's loyalty to Dumbledore may be weaker now that Harry has talked to him about Lily.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-02-18T19:00:38.408Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, it doesn't take a Seer to tell us the best hope is with capabilities V doesn't know about. Other things could still play a part, but don't expect them to make the decisive difference.

What does that leave us?

  • Aspects of Harry's mind other than raw intelligence/creativity. In particular, V seems to have a hard time modeling goodness.
  • More accurate prophecy interpretation (Dark Lord is death)
  • Possibly control over dementors; V may not know the full extent, though he knows about the scaring and that Harry survived Azkaban.
  • Partial transfiguration. Dumbledore flagged this possibility way back, and I'm definitely calling Chekhov's Gun on the shaping exercises. The problem is how Harry will get to do any transfiguration. And in the event he does get a chance to do one "harmless" transfiguration, V can just ask him in Parseltongue if he's planning anything.

It's also possible V won't be able to fully predict Harry's intelligence because he's never faced a copy of himself before, but Moody is a pretty good practice opponent. In particular, having fought Mad-Eye means V won't be caught of guard by the extent of Harry's precautions.

comment by UnclGhost · 2015-02-17T22:19:42.835Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As for the last possibility, he doesn't leave from the Quidditch game until around a quarter past 11, so that can't help him for another five hours or so.

Replies from: b_sen
comment by b_sen · 2015-02-18T17:41:55.930Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, but that doesn't mean it won't help him eventually, and he may be able to hold out for those five hours.

Or Draco might have ordered Crabbe and Goyle to come find him if he doesn't return, or set other backup plans in motion.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-02-20T23:35:41.224Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


EDIT: based on Alsadius' comment about thread creation for MOR chapters, let's also use this thread for chapter 107 (and future chapters until this nears 500 comments) unless someone objects to doing so.

I guess I kind of object? Not out of any principle or logic, but I just feel like this thread has kind of been stagnating and not really encouraging new top-level replies because they're crushed under all the highly upvoted posts and don't get as much attention.

Especially since everything is changing so fast in this final arc, I like the idea of having a distinct thread for each chapter, so all replies have the same context, instead of as in a mixed thread like this, where a post based on the latest information may be drowned out by now-irrelevant theories from earlier chapters, and it is not clear to the reader which posts are implicitly based on which chapters unless they have a table of chapter update times and check the date of posts.

ETA: I had just missed the posting of this thread when I wrote the following.

If no one objects to my objection, I'll go ahead and post a thread for chapter 109 and chapter 109 alone, once it is released. Or, if anyone feels similarly, I or someone else could post a thread for the just-released chapter 108, which isn't yet explicitly included in this current thread.

Actually, why not have a poll?


ETA: Apparently the bold markdown syntax doesn't work with poll options. My bad.

comment by b_sen · 2015-02-20T19:40:47.070Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Adding to my previous prediction comment:


Harry attempted to obtain a useful object (such as Snape’s wand) when he knocked Snape over in Chapter 106. 75%

The ritual which promises to summon Death itself (Chapter 74) summons a Dementor. 80%

The lost counterspell to dismiss whatever is summoned by the ritual involving "a rope which has hanged a man and a sword which has slain a woman" (Chapter 74) is the True Patronus Charm. 80%

Harry’s mental development has been significantly influenced by his body’s descent from the Potter line. This includes genetic effects, heritable magical effects, and interactions between such effects and his environment, but excludes purely environmental effects of being raised in the Verres-Evans household. 70% (In other words, suppose the following counterfactual: Voldemort came to believe that the prophecy referred to a different wizarding infant child who had been living in a similar environment up to that point (canonically Neville also fits the prophecy), attacked that household in order to perform whatever mind-altering magic he actually performed on the infant Harry on the other infant child, and leaves all blood relatives who would otherwise care for the child dead / insane / otherwise unable to do so. Suppose further that Dumbledore asks Petunia to adopt this infant, so this hypothetical other child is also raised in the Verres-Evans household. My prediction is that there would be some significant difference between this hypothetical child’s mental development and Harry’s mental development.)

The procedure Voldemort describes that "destroyed all but a remnant of Harry Potter" (Chapter 105) involved a Horcrux. 75%

Quirrell was enhancing Sprout’s and Susan’s magic in the battle in Chapter 104. 70%

Snape is still capable of somehow intervening in Voldemort’s plot, despite the bodily control spell Voldemort used. 50%


Snape may be an Occlumens. In Chapter 27, Harry recalls that "the book said that a successful Legilimens was extremely rare, rarer than a perfect Occlumens, because almost no one had enough mental discipline." Since Snape clearly has the discipline, the awareness of mind magics, the (at least outward) ability to pretend, and motivation to learn Occlumency (it would be extremely useful to someone in his position), he may well have become an Occlumens at some point.


Quirrell is messing with Time. Recall Harry’s experiment with Time in Chapter 17, where he precommitted to an algorithm for recovering prime factors of a large number that relies on the stable-loop property of Time-Turners, but got the unexpected result of "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" instead. His precommitment had failed to rule out the logical universe where he got "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME".

Quirrell is clearly relying on the stable-loop property of Time-Turners when he says "Oh, we have time. There would be a great uproar if we were discovered here, guarded by an Inferius. You did not act like you had heard of such an uproar at your Quidditch match, before you arrived in this time and spoke to Snape as you did." (Chapter 107) Leaning on this property to get what you want seems to be the definition of messing with Time, and also something we can expect Quirrell to be inclined towards based on his similarities with Harry.

Now suppose that Quirrell made the following precommitment in order to further lean on this property: "If my plot involving the boy known as Harry Potter succeeds in its objectives by 10:30 PM, I will then arrange for the note asking him to come to the forbidden corridor to be sent to him at such a time that he must use five spins of his Time-Turner. Otherwise, I will send no note to him." This precommitment appears to guarantee his success if Harry shows up, and in particular appears to rule out universes where Harry shows up and defeats Quirrell. But it doesn’t rule out logical universes where Harry shows up and defeats Quirrell because it doesn’t rule out logical universes that can be described by "Harry shows up, defeats Quirrell, and then arranges to have such a note sent to his past self for the purposes of paradox avoidance." So Quirrell just might wind up with a much nastier message not to mess with Time.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-23T06:38:26.269Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Particularly since Harry is just the sort of person who would send such a note. He knows not to mess with time!

Fortunately for Quirrell, I expect that he also knows this of Harry and so is not doing what you suggest in your last observation.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-02-18T03:00:56.465Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did Harry ever give serious thought to whether his strong desire to never be responsible for a death actually makes sense when he's going to have to deal with violent situations?

Replies from: tim, linkhyrule5
comment by tim · 2015-02-20T06:16:08.629Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Chapter 85. And arguably his scenes with Dumbledore regarding "the phoenix's price."

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-02-18T07:43:22.961Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, it seems to be axiomatic. It's not a matter of "being responsible for a death" so much as "death is bad." Even in a violent situation, the ideal is to save everyone's life.

As he then says, though, if you can't save everyone, you have no right playing batman.

comment by solipsist · 2015-02-20T03:31:23.767Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Mr. Hat and Cloak turns out not to be Flamel, then Flamel is..... Hagrid? Filtch? Dumbledore? Ron? Unseen? If Hagrid had appeared in any scene not required by canon symmetry or Quirell's fake Parseltongue explanation then I would suspect him more. Dumbledore's fear of being a dark wizard would make sense, but he seems too young and had a family.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-20T10:05:53.847Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


I am Ron Weasley(TM). :DD
Nay, Tom Riddle was me!


comment by avichapman · 2015-02-20T00:20:46.371Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just had another thought in relation to Harry's second transfigured object. I had thought as Quirrel did that Harry's second transfigured object was Hermione's body. (Though Harry successfullly fooled Quirrel into thinking the second object was the steel ring. It wan't, but we know he has something because of the mention of 'the other one' in Chapter 104.)

But just after Hermione's body dissappeared, they throroughly searched Harry's person and stuff for transfigured objects and finite incantatem-ed the lot. Perhaps Harry's second transfigured object is not Hermione, but something aquired more recently? I'm thinking of Cedric. Can a living body be transformed into something solid like a rock without deleterious effects?

Replies from: Velorien, garabik
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-20T00:23:56.432Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can a living body be transformed into something solid like a rock without deleterious effects?

Emphatically not, according to McGonagall. "In a few hours you would be sick, and in a day you would be dead".

comment by garabik · 2015-02-20T10:26:43.463Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But just after Hermione's body dissappeared, they throroughly searched Harry's person and stuff for transfigured objects and finite incantatem-ed the lot.

The corpse could be transfigured into the necklace of the time-turner. This is such an incredibly stupid and dangerous idea that no-one would ever suspect Harry to do anything like this. Or he can transfigure Hermione into one chain link of the necklace (safer failure mode).

Are there any (known) size limits to the transfiguration? If not, there's plenty of room at the bottom...

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T07:55:05.719Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ch 107

the standard counter-Charm for a boggart is, of course, Fiendfyre

Why not Avada Kedavra, which is the usual countercharm for anything with a brain?

Because, if you get within sight to aim, it will scare you and you will flinch away.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-19T08:50:07.479Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also because it was (at least to my mind) funnier than if he'd said the counter-charm was AK and done what he usually does.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-02-18T17:43:28.468Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Beneath the trapdoor was a gigantic plant, something like an enormous dieffenbachia with wide leaves emerging from the central stem like a spiral staircase, but darker-colored than a normal dieffenbacchia, and with tendril-like vines emerging from the central stem and hanging down.

Misspelling of dieffenbachia.

comment by cultureulterior · 2015-02-17T07:54:50.730Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are two prophecies at work here that I don't understand, which even now have to be vital to the ending

  • Thrayen beyn Peverlas soona ahnd thrih heera toal thissoom Dath bey yewoonen

I really don't get why Quirrel is doing this knowing the prophecy of the stars.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-17T10:37:43.955Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Prophecies are told to those with the ability to fulfill or avert them, and Trelawney told her prophecy to Quirrell. Thus, he knows that his actions may be able to prevent Harry from ending the world.

comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-17T01:23:30.263Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I dislike this - the existing thread is only at 140 comments, and should be used for at least today's chapter. There's probably going to be another posted Wednesday, at this rate.

Replies from: b_sen
comment by b_sen · 2015-02-17T01:30:36.050Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is there a consensus on when to post new threads (and conversely, when to keep using the old thread for new chapters) that I should be aware of? If so, please let me know.

For comparison, the thread before last is at 172 comments, although that's from late January.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-17T01:31:53.910Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After a long gap, or when the old thread hits/gets close to 500 comments and starts getting cut off. During the last serious run of chapters, they were hitting 500 virtually every chapter, but that seemed to be the principle adhered to in past.

comment by DanielLC · 2015-02-20T00:20:07.247Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given that the only thing Harry seemed to manage to keep a secret from Quirrel is what he really transfigured Hermione into, I suspect Harry might have to win by using the trick he did with the Troll, but with Hermione instead of a rock.

Replies from: polymathwannabe
comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-02-20T02:04:17.669Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Crazy hypothesis: he transfigured Hermione's body into a copy of himself, and sent the copy in his stead.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-18T22:50:31.302Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I feel the need to point out that the first three rooms can be beaten very quickly in the manner that a first-year might (assuming that flying over the chessboard is ok) and yet Quirrel only slows down for the room which takes an hour. It would only have taken a moment to summon the snitch-key, and since they don't have a perfect read on Snape, if the potions room might have been trappeded, then so might have the other rooms.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T08:41:16.267Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The other rooms were trapped, but Quirrel detected and disarmed the wards. In Snape's room, he detected no wards, and that's what makes him suspicious.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-19T11:55:02.389Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Snape has much better muggle lore than the average wizard. I'm guessing anyone trying to solve that room with violence will get a faceful of claymore mine or the equivalent. No wards detectable because the traps are not magic.

Replies from: TobyBartels, skeptical_lurker
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-19T22:34:39.445Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Snape is an asshole, but my model of him would not actually kill a first-year.

Replies from: tim
comment by tim · 2015-02-20T02:33:17.685Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I doubt a first year would have any chance of brute-forcing their way through a fire door that normally requires such a ridiculously complex potion to nullify.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-02-20T18:43:10.738Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Fiendfyre is the only way to force it, then I agree. But ‘anyone trying to solve that room with violence’ is pretty broad.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-19T13:09:34.621Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And if this is possible (I have no idea whether there is a 'detect claymore' spell) then the other rooms could have had claymores too.

Replies from: Subbak
comment by Subbak · 2015-02-19T23:57:55.002Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, it's possible that all the rooms were designed by different professors with little to no cooperations so that one single breach would not compromise the security of the whole thing. If Snape wanted to put claymores in other rooms, he'd need to tell the other professors.

comment by cousin_it · 2015-02-17T19:52:10.737Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does anyone else get the feeling that these "payoff" chapters are less exciting to read than the "mystery" chapters were? This isn't meant to take a stab at Eliezer, I've noticed that in many written works. Ra and Fine Structure were also more fun when they were mysterious. Worm and Pact somehow manage to avoid that, maybe because they don't rely so heavily on mystery, and have fight scenes and character drama to compensate.

Replies from: HungryHippo, Fivehundred, None, dxu
comment by HungryHippo · 2015-02-18T17:27:57.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Snape's big reveal in canon had a similar effect on me, since it was more or less solved by the readers ahead of time.

IIRC, at the end of The Dark Tower series King breaks the fourth wall and basically says: are you certain you want to read the ending? It will not be as good as you expect, so you might as well stop right here and savor the journey rather than being disappointed by the destination.

Replies from: Fivehundred
comment by Fivehundred · 2015-02-19T10:19:06.543Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That isn't what 'breaking the fourth wall' means- it would be some element of a fictional universe engaging with or acknowledging reality.

I would also like to express my fiery and eternal hatred for the 'happy' ending he wrote. The final ending redeemed for me what was an irredeemable book.

comment by Fivehundred · 2015-02-19T10:06:55.092Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fine Structure is a terrible example, if we're critiquing fiction in general. It literally is a smattering of high-concept puzzle pieces prior to the final two chapters.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-18T03:27:49.088Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


I had lost track of Ra until this comment implied that it was completed.

So I read the ending and was soundly disappointed. It had the same ending as an earlier short story of his.

Ah well. I guess it's time to write off sam512 for the foreseeable future.

Replies from: cousin_it
comment by cousin_it · 2015-02-18T11:46:50.175Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When the final chapter of Ra was released, I also felt pretty disappointed, so I went back over the story, trying to figure out where it went wrong. I concluded that the turning point was Abstract War, and actually came up with an explanation of everything before Abstract War that made more sense to me than Sam's explanation. It was pretty fun! I've posted it on reddit here.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-18T16:05:54.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well done! That makes a great deal more sense.

comment by dxu · 2015-02-18T01:54:13.712Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Same here, unfortunately, mostly because there haven't really been any surprising revelations so far. I'm holding out hope that Eliezer is going to pull something, though. (Well, not really "holding out hope". More like I'd be extremely surprised if he didn't have something up his sleeve.)

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-18T09:12:35.710Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He has said that HPMOR is intended to be "solvable" and that at least one person worked out what was going on (no, I have no idea how much detail that implies) very early on. So I wouldn't be astonished to find that all the remaining Big Ideas have been guessed.

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-19T00:08:34.090Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He also said that if someone guessed the entire plot, they'd "know" immediately. I don't think any reader has had a revelation like that yet (apart from the mystery reader who guessed it near the beginning).

Replies from: alienist
comment by alienist · 2015-02-19T03:31:23.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It could be that EY is overestimating how "obvious" (for lack of a better word) everyone else will find something "obvious" to him.

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-19T03:41:24.020Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's possible, but (unless I'm misremembering) the one reader who did guess the plot said it seemed "obvious" to him/her as well, which is evidence in favor of it being obvious once you see it.

Replies from: TryingToThink
comment by TryingToThink · 2015-02-19T16:23:13.002Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This could explain the reduced number of comments. As Alsadius pointed out, there used to be 500 comments per chapter, so it stands to logic that as the series advance more users figure it out and stop commenting so as not to spoil it.

Replies from: dxu, jkaufman
comment by dxu · 2015-02-19T16:44:36.966Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Without even leaving a comment saying, "I've figured it out"?

Replies from: TryingToThink
comment by TryingToThink · 2015-02-19T21:44:38.325Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You have a point, though there's no need to. I know I wouldn't, since I can't see what benefit would come from it. Specially if they figured it out between arcs (since there were no discussion threads active, or nearly none at least.) But probably at least a few would've said it and taking into account how many people would've needed to figure it out for that to account for the reduced number of comments, it's strong evidence against it. Sorry, I guess I didn't think it through too much.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-02-20T15:57:21.318Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

These are also way shorter chapters.

comment by vericrat · 2015-02-17T02:43:16.502Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"That is your condition for helping me to obtain the Stone?" said Professor Quirrell. Harry nodded, unable to form words.

Does that mean that Voldemort is freed from his previous offer to resurrect Hermione? Voldemort specifically says "That is your condition" which Harry agreed to. If so, Harry is going to be kicking himself later.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-17T02:47:50.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Afterwards, Voldemort explicitly includes this in his statement of the deal:

And your girl-child friend sshall be revived by me, to true life and health

Replies from: vericrat, hairyfigment
comment by vericrat · 2015-02-17T02:58:37.270Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My sincere thanks, I missed that.

comment by hairyfigment · 2015-02-17T02:50:32.818Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

From this, we conclude that Voldemort will transform himself into a girl.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-17T02:52:47.196Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

More likely: Boy-Who-Lived gets Draco Malfoy pregnant. :P

Replies from: Epictetus
comment by Epictetus · 2015-02-17T04:45:33.712Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

More likely: Boy-Who-Lived gets Draco Malfoy pregnant. :P

And here I was thinking I'd purged all memory of that fic...

comment by fezziwig · 2015-02-20T21:51:39.614Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, Voldemort is explained, and in a way I find persuasive. I wasn't sure it was possible.

comment by fractalman · 2015-02-20T19:46:36.011Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So. you know how Dumbledore thinks that Fred and George are kinda/sorta the heirs of Gryffindor?

I give them 90% odds of at least showing up.

comment by major · 2015-02-19T21:41:30.214Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hat and Cloak is Salazar's creature. He (it?) was put in the Chamber to be a counter to the second thing Merlin did when he laid the Interdict in force, namely biasing holders of time-displaced information toward simpler (non-catastrophic) loops - my best guess is, by creating random change in subject's mind which randoms into thoughts leading to paradox-free behavior; from this side of the 4th wall it can look like 'being stupid for the sake of plot'. (to clarify: the random thought is an extra degree of freedom by which the situation can be paradox-free without big complicated catastrophic coincidences)

HC's original job is to bring/send back future information and limit exposure of Heir. Kinda like what Millicent does, or Snape did with Rianne - you know, it's a difficult concept, needs good examples by the time it is explained. (for the record, this clicked for me during the 'Groundhog Day attack' which originally came before the 'Interlude with the Confessor' chapter - to me that chapter was a confirmation not a clue.)


The 'Harry = Tom Riddle' thing doesn't sit right with me. The whole point of teaching Harry, the point of going this slow now, is to get Harry to embrace his dark side for a successful takeover - and look, he already thinks of it as part of him, not a separate side. I predict the sense of doom will decrease, Harry will interpret it as 'Quirrell losing strength' and 'now is the time to be clever' when in reality it will be - well, either it's him getting closer to being taken over by his dark side, or it is directly faked by Q to be a false encouragement towards same.

comment by cultureulterior · 2015-02-19T13:42:52.764Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I were Snape, I would use a gas. Something which becomes hazardous after a certain time. Or merely change the nitrogen/oxygen balance after a certain time.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T23:20:47.265Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The gun jabbed slightly forward, causing prickles of sweat to appear on Harry's forehead. "Drop your wand. Now."

Harry dropped it.

That's a mistake. The response should be to transfigure air into a very thin net of carbon nanotube that's invisible and that can be between him an Quirrell's gun. Transfiguration doesn't seem to need speaking if I remember right.

Replies from: Nornagest, imuli, Alsadius, avichapman
comment by Nornagest · 2015-02-17T23:47:16.694Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What happens if he just bolts and tries to use the Time-Turner as soon as possible? He gets shot, obviously, or at least shot at; but wizards seem hard to kill by mundane means, bullet wounds usually aren't immediately fatal, and fast-moving targets in close quarters are hard to hit. I think he has a good chance of survival, maybe better than if he does what the legendary dark wizard wants.

On the other hand, if future Harry suddenly appeared, Time-Turned, in the forbidden corridor with serious wounds from Muggle weapons, I can't see that doing anything other than causing a massive stink. The fact that present him and the rest of the students got to the forbidden corridor without encountering a stink may count as evidence that it wouldn't work.

comment by imuli · 2015-02-18T00:14:23.028Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You cannot transfigure from air, hard physical limit. Harry tested this.

Replies from: TryingToThink
comment by TryingToThink · 2015-02-19T16:13:56.491Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can't you? If I recall correctly, Harry tried and failed before succeeding with Partial Transfiguration, while he was still thinking in the terms of atoms. Also, you could consider transfiguring air as a partial transfiguration unless it's within a closed system, since you can't think of air as a whole or defined object. So it stands to consideration that Harry might be able to do it using the model of timeless physics like he did to achieve partial transfiguration, since we have no proof that he tried again afterwards ( that I recall ). Still, this wouldn't be the best moment to try it.

Besides, could've just tried to levitate the gun or something towards the gun he could use as a shield, and run away or retrieve his invisibility cloak or used the spare turn on the time-turner... There are countless possibilities. Even if he did appear on the corridor one hour before, when only Snape was there, he could probably convince him of acting as he did towards him... Which would've opened the possibility of another Harry hidden somewhere ready to try to take down professor Quirrell, or rather a Harry who had already sent a messenger Patronus to Dumbledore so he could quietly and without disrupting the Quidditch match take down the very charming Defence professor. Actually, this could still happen if Harry somehow retrieves his time-turner, or even if Cedric is hidden in Harry's pouch and uses it ( though I'm not sure how this would turn out... )

comment by Alsadius · 2015-02-18T01:44:09.092Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is a sheet of carbon nanotube so thin that it's invisible actually going to stop a bullet? And even if it does, once Quirrell realizes what happened, what are the odds Harry can keep such a wall up for more than three tenths of a second?

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-18T13:32:30.565Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is a sheet of carbon nanotube so thin that it's invisible actually going to stop a bullet?

Glass also manages to let light through. Carbon nanotubes are very strong. To make them invisible you just have to get the structure right and have big enough pores in the net for the wavelength of light to pass through.

what are the odds Harry can keep such a wall up for more than three tenths of a second?

The wall is Harry magic and as thus not able to be simply canceled by Quirrell. It also doesn't take that long to grab the time turner and activate it. Probably less than a second.

comment by avichapman · 2015-02-17T23:44:46.768Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good idea. Not enough time.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-17T10:46:20.511Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

First of all guys i'm french so please forgive my language mistakes I think we have to keep some spaces without rationality, Harry Potter is a novel created with a universe which is out of all our reality concepts, and this is made on purpose. Do we need to make it rational? This a great fanfiction but i think that if we want to find the rational, we have to make a difference between what is rationnal and what was made to not be rationnal :) to be understood clearly, I'm not blaming the fanfiction by itself, I'm just suprised that we try to make it rational, it's a novel I don't thinks it has to be coherent at each page, each line. Just to finish :When you're looking for the coherence or th rational You'll find it Just for clarify, there's no personal attacks in there, this is just for bring out a behavior We all have

Replies from: polymathwannabe, Osuniev
comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-02-17T13:24:04.783Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The purpose of this fanfiction is not to force the Potterverse to make sense; it's to use its popularity as a teaching tool. I don't think anybody here has seriously complained that a fantasy setting was the chosen tool; the fact that magic doesn't exist in the real world does not prevent enjoyment of the novels.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-17T14:45:51.328Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What I'm saying is the intent is laudable and that's fine, I mean,if we try to make everything more rational,finally we wil no longer able to distinguish what is rational to what we made rational for me we have to leave room for irrational because it includes a large part of our world,this fanfiction is very well written but for me it should stay to the rank of fanfiction instead of object of study, after all maybe I don't understand the true meaning of this one,in this case i apologize for my last comment, what do you think?

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T14:50:46.667Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean,if we try to make everything more rational,finally we wil no longer able to distinguish what is rational to what we made rational for me we have to leave room for irrational because it includes a large part of our world

What exactly do you mean with the irrational that includes a large part of your world? Do you feel it's threatened by Eliezer's writing?

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-17T15:09:44.071Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean irrational allow the dream,have you ever thought about the fact you could be professional singer or astronaut or even better another person or animal, Keep some irrational in or life is essential to describe us as human. And no i don't feel it's threatened by this novel, this novel's great i think it's the fact that we make it a studie's object that CAN be threatening for the small part of irrationality we all still have. I'm not saying that for this behavior in particular, i'm saying that for all thoses kind of behavior like (just an exemple I read on another forum :) ) "The lord of the ring is a critics of the consumer society" , I think Lord of the ring is a beautiful story but I don't think we have to see it with a rational point of view to enjoy it, that's what I'm saying

Replies from: thaliawoods, ChristianKl
comment by thaliawoods · 2015-02-17T16:38:35.531Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I usually just lurk around these threads and never post anything, but I'm going to jump in here and say that, if I understand what you're saying correctly (which I'm not sure I do, though I've read your posts in both english and french), I think you're misunderstanding the purpose of HPMOR? It's not a hate-fueled enterprise, and EY has said before that he's not writing MOR to mock the Harry Potter series (I think in an author's note he once said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that he completely understands the plot holes and irrationality that exist in HP as it's a series of books for children, and he thinks that writing a novel for children is probably more difficult than writing a novel for adults). And I don't think EY (or any rationalist, for that matter) is trying to stop people from having irrational dreams (or even holding some irrational beliefs); it is at its core about logic, and patterns of thinking, and seriously examining why you think the things you think and believe the things you believe.

And concerning your LOTR example (and I say this as someone not particularly invested in LOTR and I can't comment on that interpretation), it is possible for a narrative to contain allegorical elements while still being a story, and it's possible for readers to interpret meanings from a text that weren't intended by an author, and the lack of authorial intent doesn't mean that those meanings aren't still a valid reading of the text. HPMOR is a teaching tool for rationality, but it's also a story, and we're still meant to enjoy it. Neither of those things threaten the other.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-17T16:59:10.249Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given LessWrong ideals of rationality there nothing irrational about having a dream to be a professional singer provided the dream makes one happy and one's goal is happiness.

PS: When speaking in a foreign language in which one isn't very skilled, it's useful to keep sentences short.

comment by Osuniev · 2015-02-17T13:32:03.017Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Comme le titre l'indique, ce roman cherche à être rationnel.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-17T14:45:52.533Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

C'est ce que je dis, l'intention est louable et c'est très bien, je veux dire que à force rendre tout rationnel on ne saura plus distinguer ce qui est rationnel de ce que l'on a rendu rationnel, pour moi on devrai laisser de la place a l’irrationnel car il compose un grande partie de notre monde, la fanfiction est très bien écrite mais pour moi devrais rester au rang de fanfiction au lieu d'objet d'étude,après peut être n'ai je pas compris le vrai sens de cette dernière et dans ce cas je m'excuse pour ce commentaire, qu'est ce que tu en penses?