Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4

post by gjm · 2010-10-07T21:12:58.038Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 658 comments

[Update: and now there's a fifth discussion thread, which you should probably use in preference to this one. Later update: and a sixth -- in the discussion section, which is where these threads are living for now on. Also: tag for HP threads in the main section, and tag for HP threads in the discussion section.]

The third discussion thread is above 500 comments now, just like the others, so it's time for a new one. Predecessors: one, two, three. For anyone who's been on Mars and doesn't know what this is about: it's Eliezer's remarkable Harry Potter fanfic.

Spoiler warning and helpful suggestion (copied from those in the earlier threads):

Spoiler Warning:  this thread contains unrot13'd spoilers for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality up to the current chapter and for the original Harry Potter series.  Please continue to use rot13 for spoilers to other works of fiction, or if you have insider knowledge of future chapters of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

A suggestion: mention at the top of your comment which chapter you're commenting on, or what chapter you're up to, so that people can understand the context of your comment even after more chapters have been posted.  This can also help people avoid reading spoilers for a new chapter before they realize that there is a new chapter.

658 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Alratan · 2010-10-09T17:08:55.955Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

The discussion of snake's sentience reminded me of an argument I once made about the nature of pureblood discrimination against Muggles, which I'll reproduce here:

Consider how we, as humans, justify our definitions of personhood. Why do we say that chimps, for example, are not people? Essentially, we come up with a list of features which we have, and things which aren’t people don’t have, like talking, tool use, etc. and then say everything which looks very similar to something which has those features is a person (why, for example, we consider a severely mentally retarded person a person).

In the Wizarding World, manufacturing a facsimile of sentience – talking, etc. is trivial. Even a very poor family can purchase multiple such objects as a child’s toy (Magical Chessmen). They would reject that these object are people, they’re simply toys, not truly free willed, despite resembling that strongly. When it comes down to it, the only difference between real people and all these simulacra seems to be the ability for autonomous magic use – so this becomes the criteria for person-hood.

For wizards, form is not a determinant of nature, thanks to the various transmutations and shapeshifting that is possible, this means that something looking similar to a person cannot be assumed to have the characteristics of a person, so the familiarity based extension I mention above that we have doesn’t apply.

All in all, by this rather natural definition, Muggles aren’t people. All they are is clever simulacra, with no greater moral significance than a child’s toy.

Move back to the chimp analogy. A chimp can do many things a person can do, but falls short on the key criteria. Despite this it’s being suggested that human-chimp hybrids may be genetically viable. It’s quite possible such a hybrid would then meet the criteria for personhood by our definition. Would you approve of people breeding with chimps? Or accept chimp-human hybrids as full members of society without reservation?

comment by Pavitra · 2010-10-09T17:59:52.644Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I actually rather like the canon Ministry of Magic's current definition of personhood, which is "any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws".

Further, certain intelligent creatures such as centaurs have declined legal personhood status in favor of self-governance.

comment by Alratan · 2010-10-09T18:14:52.115Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not so much talking about the legal definitions, as about the basic intuitions that form the framework for the moral reasoning that goes into determining behaviour and then the formal laws and systems that govern them.

It's one of the priors that someone with a non magical upbringing may never consider, that the basic foundation of moral reasoning is different for pureblood wizards.

That other sapient beings have weight as moral actors is pretty basic, and if pure bloods were to instead use a different intuition as the starting point for moral construction, then Harry has a very substantial amount more work to do.

n.b., I have to admit that I was rather disappointed by their being a physical basis for magical ability that proved Harry was right and the pureblood faction wrong. I think it would make a far more interesting setting if the pure bloods were actually factually correct but still morally wrong. Just as interesting would be there being no physical basis for magical ability, and it simply being an example of large scale magic such as the taboo or the cure on the DADA job, the equivalent of a curse or blessing on a family line.

comment by Pavitra · 2010-10-09T19:32:58.318Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I didn't mean to make it about law. I just happen to find that particular definition pretty intuitively appealing; that the definition was canon magical law was a minor side point of only marginal relevance.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-16T16:38:42.777Z · score: 17 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer's author notes say: If you want to know everything HJPEV knows and more, read the Sequences.

That would have been fair enough while there were only a few chapters of MoR up. Now, however, Eliezer is promising that reading the Sequences will teach readers how to perform Transfiguration, how to protect themselves against telepaths, how to conjure up a (v2.0) Patronus, and so forth. That seems a little optimistic.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-10-18T17:32:48.220Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Well I read Lesswrong, and I'm already protected against all know telepaths, and can destroy every dementor in existence.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-16T18:20:58.975Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I can only imagine how disappointed they'll be when they learn stuff about how to build benevolent superintelligences instead.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-16T19:17:54.848Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW · GW

You've worked out how to do that now? Cool!

comment by Strange7 · 2010-10-19T04:35:30.727Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I can't find the article where you list hardware specs. Is it on the wiki?

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-21T04:42:56.959Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is true, but I don't think the Sequences need to teach what has already been covered to a sufficient degree of detail in the text. I can, for instance, vouch that Occlumency is taught well enough by the fic alone; since I read chapter 27, no-one has been able to read my mind! And I think I got the theory for conjuring a Patronous v2.0 down, too; as soon as I get a magic wand, I can put that to the test and see if it works.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-11T21:36:43.024Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Has Quirrell been kissed by a Dementor? With Voldemort responsible, presumably.

That would explain his zombie mode - when he slouches, drools, doesn't speak, and can only stagger around.

And in chp 45 the Dementor could have been speaking to (zombified) Quirrell rather than to Voldemort when it said to Quirrelmort "that it knew me, and that it would hunt me down someday, wherever I tried to hide."

Voldemort can take over Quirrell and act through him, turning him into articulate Quirrell. But when he's not actively in control Quirrell enters zombie mode. Voldemort might be going someplace else while he leaves Quirrell on autopilot, or maybe he just needs to rest because controlling Quirrell uses up his energy.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-21T02:42:12.758Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

More evidence for this: when he sees Quirrell slumped over in Chapter 16, he thinks "Now what does that remind me of...?" What could Harry possibly have seen that might look similar to zombie mode Quirrell? Well, just a chapter earlier, he saw a picture of a criminal killed by exposure to Dementors (the criminal who transfigured gold to wine as payment for a debt).

I can't think of any alternate hypothesis for what Harry might have seen to remind him of zombie Quirrell. There just aren't very many things he's been exposed to in the first 15 chapters.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-21T04:28:48.357Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Good catch. That does seem like another hint, although the alternative that comes to mind is that he just reminds Harry of zombies. (Minor correction: it's chp 16, not 14).

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-21T16:08:30.534Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter number fixed.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-21T04:30:11.020Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've had some thoughts about why, within the HPMOR world, it makes sense for Voldemort to choose to occupy a dementor-kissed body. I don't know the details about how the magic works or the solution to the HPMOR!mind-body problem, but it seems like it would be easier to take over a vacated body than to try to share the space with the original soul. It seems like a cleaner process, with no ambiguity about who's in control within the body. Second, based on Voldemort's personality (assuming that's what we're seeing from Quirrell) I think he'd prefer to be alone rather than having a roommate as he does in canon. Third, removing the original Quirrell also removes the need to rely on him to keep the secret and not give himselves away out of stupidity, lack of self-control, poor acting skills, or outright betrayal. Finally, other people might be able to tell when a body contains two souls - if the Sorting Hat can do it, why not the Hogwarts security system?

comment by gwern · 2010-10-28T23:02:10.505Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But when he's not actively in control Quirrell enters zombie mode. Voldemort might be going someplace else

It can't be this; a Dementor-kissed body is a vegetable which doesn't do anything at all, much less shuffle around slowly. (Checking the HP wiki, it seems a kissed-body does still breath and have a heartbeat.) If Voldemort is controlling the body, he has to be controlling it at all times in some capacity.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-10-28T23:19:39.325Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Unless this is another (minor) departure from canon.

comment by topynate · 2010-10-09T20:53:42.924Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Harry chokes on his water twice in ch 49. Suppose that Quirrell, having been tricked into drinking Comed-Tea, finds out what spell makes it work, and puts it on Harry's water. Then he can think the following: here are some guesses I have about Harry. I will think about them in order; if Harry raises his glass, I will state my guess.

A pretty interesting way of reading minds, right?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-09T22:25:50.879Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry tested that. He concluded that the tea works the other way. That is, it detects when something weird is going to happen and gives you an impulse to drink.

comment by topynate · 2010-10-10T00:38:14.918Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Harry tested whether you could make something weird happen by drinking the tea, not whether you could make someone drink the tea when you did something weird, subject to you not yourself knowing what would be weird enough before you saw them drinking.

I have refined my idea based on some re-reading. I forgot that you aren't guaranteed to choke on every sip. Someone let me know if the following is too farfetched.

As you said, when something shocking is going to happen, someone with access to the tea feels an impulse to drink it. Now recall this line from chapter 7, not given much thought to by Harry:

"It doesn't always happen immediately," the vendor said. "But it's guaranteed to happen once per can, or your money back."

So translating to the backwards-causation hypothesis, if nothing shocking is going to happen before you finish drinking the can, the tea stops you drinking it.

OK, let's put this together with the idea that time-reversed causation preserves self-consistency. I deduce that if you sit someone down in front of a glass of Comed-Tea for lunch they will start drinking from it only if they will be shocked enough to choke on it at some point. So what you do is resolve to take the 'water' away if your lunch-mate drinks from it and does not splutter. The Comed-Tea enchantment, by self-consistency, will ensure that this never actually happens, so you can now be certain that if your buddy raises his glass and starts to sip, he will choke.

Now you do what I suggested and run through your guesses. If your buddy raises his glass, you know that what you're about to say will be shocking. If he doesn't, you don't bother saying it. We know that Comed-Tea creates a strong impulse to drink it when one is about to be shocked, so your buddy, not knowing what he's drinking, is a sure bet to drink it if he is in fact about to be shocked. The only part of my idea that is now in question is this: if your resolve to do something shocking is conditional only on him drinking the tea, and his drinking the tea is conditional only on your being about to do something shocking, will he drink the tea in response to your commitment, given that your possible action is in fact shocking?

A causes B; B causes A. Do A and B both occur, or do neither? That's exactly the same question that occurs to Harry when he gets the Time-Turner. And that in turn makes me think that I'm missing something, because it can't be the case that all temporally self-consistent A-B pairs happen. Any ideas?

comment by MattFisher · 2010-10-14T10:11:35.553Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, there's nothing that says the tea will force your lunch-mate to drink on the first thing you think about that would cause him to choke. You could run through a dozen true and shocking guesses in your head without him feeling any urge to drink. Once you get bored and give up thinking of new hypotheses, if your lunch-mate hasn't drunk from the can, the vendor's guarantee is still intact because none of the the tea has been drunk. Why does this remind me of the halting problem?

On the other hand, if you wait until after your lunch-mate has taken his first sip (taking the risk that something unexpected and shocking will happen when he does so), and you have resolved to take away the drink immediately after his second sip, you might be in a better position.

You also need to hope that the shocking event that causes your companion to choke is not an epiphany on his part where he suddenly deduces one of your secrets.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-10T04:26:36.384Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That does seem like it may just work. It is also a case where TDT comes in handy. Causal reasoning would suggest that once you have already got your answer there isn't any reason to actually make the scene (which could potentially give away your strategy.)

There are some limitations on working out whether the 'weird' is 'good guesswork' specifically but it certainly gives you some strong evidence.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-17T08:18:43.949Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So what you do is resolve to take the 'water' away if your lunch-mate drinks from it and does not splutter.

I don't think that the vendor will apply the guarantee in that case. Next you'll forget about messing with causality and just try to get your money back by opening the can and pouring the contents away. Surely the guarantee only applies if one finishes drinking it!

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-09T22:48:58.941Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How much intelligence does it take to know when something weird is going to happen?

Where is the intelligence located?

I think I'd feel worse about drinking something like that (except that it doesn't mind?) than eating deep-fried talking rattlesnake.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-09T23:17:31.552Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Errr, good point.

Of course, for all I know it wants to be drunk. If that is the case then who am I to go about projecting my mind and other optimising?

The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. 'A very wise choice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,' it said, 'I'll just nip off and shoot myself.'

He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. 'Don't worry, sir,' he said, 'I'll be very humane.'

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-11T00:13:04.162Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How much intelligence does it take to know when something weird is going to happen?

About as much as it takes to detect a sudden involuntary contraption of the throat muscles, combined with a jolt of various hormones and a few other such symptoms.

So, probably not much more than a polygraph. Plus whatever intelligence may or may not be required to look into the future.

comment by hairyfigment · 2010-10-19T20:32:32.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(Forgive me if people already discussed all this and just I didn't see it.)

Where is the intelligence located?

Well, we know a person can appear to turn into a cat. One could probably take this as evidence for wizards' ability to fit a time-traveling intelligence into a can of soda. But it seems to me that the simplest explanation for both (or the one with the greatest prior probability) involves a Source of Magic teleporting in a newly made cat body that it controls using the memories and personality traits it finds in the human body it just snatched. Then this intelligence 'writes' the changes to the original body or a copy. So the good news is, you probably don't have to worry about the soda and wizards seem halfway to a form of immortality.

Obviously this has disturbing implications as well. The fact that Harry's world still exists seems like a good sign, as does the existence of time-turners if that really rules out a standard simulation. But the fact that "the Universe wants you to say 'Wingardium Leviosa'," suggests an imperfectly-Friendly AI that cares about a dubious form of volition among people with a certain genetic marker.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-19T21:25:56.645Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But the fact that "the Universe wants you to say 'Wingardium Leviosa'," suggests an imperfectly-Friendly AI that cares about a dubious form of volition among people with a certain genetic marker.

Sounds like J K Rowling and her memetic descendents.

comment by jsalvatier · 2010-10-11T03:16:27.896Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It does mind, it has a defense mechanism to get you to spit it out.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-25T19:00:31.330Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

chp 51-54 & A/N

Is it plausible that Harry would go along with this rescue? It is harder to accept than a Sirius rescue, which would've been based on the belief that Sirius was actually innocent (he hadn't done the awful things he was convicted of). The extenuating circumstance of having become evil under the influence of the Dark Lord provides a much weaker reason to rescue someone, and requires much more trust in the person who is conveying the information (since they must not only get the facts right, but make some subtle and complex judgments about the prisoner's character and what they deserve).

If Quirrell had just come straight out and asked Harry to help him break Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban, and to pretend to be Voldemort while doing it so that she would follow him out, I don't think he would have done it. Far too many red flags. Sure, Harry wants to end Azkaban, but to start with Bellatrix, who undeniably did so many evil things? Quirrell's case in favor of Bellatrix's innocence sounds like what a partisan would say when trying to make their side seem favorable, not an argument that Harry would buy (just as he could see through Draco's case against Dumbledore). Genre savvy Harry has read plenty of stories about villains with a sympathetic backstory.

Harry knows that Dumbledore doesn't trust Quirrell, he can imagine how Hermione would react to this (and she was right about transfiguration experimentation), or how Neville would react (Neville, who said with his voice shaking that torturing his parents was "not even close to the worst thing she's ever done").

Or even how Draco would react: Bellatrix Black? She was one of the few who were truly evil (chp 47). Forget that nonsense about wanting to save a poor innocent person from the nasty Dementors (you really think that's why Quirrell wants to break someone out of Azkaban?), this is obviously part of a plot. As Father would ask, who benefits? What kind of plot would involve breaking Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban?

But Quirrell didn't just come right out and suggest that they go free Bellatrix from Azkaban, he gradually and artfully got Harry to buy into the plot. So if we're going to wonder whether it's plausible for Harry to go along with it, we'll have to look at how Quirrell manipulated him into agreeing, and why Harry fell for the manipulations and wasn't stopped by these red flags.

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-25T20:51:00.514Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's two things going on here. The first is that Harry is psychologically in fantasy-mode during these chapters, and the second is Harry's self-esteem issues regarding his own intelligence.

"You are about to invite me to join a secret organization full of interesting people like yourself," said Harry, "one of whose goals is to reform or overthrow the government of magical Britain, and yes, I'm in."

Fantasy-mode: Harry is being recruited by a secret group of highly interesting rebels. They fight against the stupid, evil, corrupt government of Magical Britain. Their cause and methods are righteous beyond question (otherwise Harry would ask a few, instead of immediately inducting himself).

Quirrell believes Magical Britain must be ruled under the dictatorship of a powerful leader, as we learned in chapters 34-35 (whereas Harry believes in democracy). So what kind of secret rebel organization is he likely to be a member of? It doesn't matter. Harry is in fantasy-mode -- he could be in a secret organization of interesting people whose goal it is to change the world!

Fantasy-mode is completely obvious throughout these chapters, especially at the start of 52.

Self-esteem issues: This thing with Quirrell being able to make "amazing deductions from scanty evidence" has been brought up before. Quirrell has also told him things like "You should have figured this out", "you're childish", and sometimes it even seems like Quirrell is testing Harry's intelligence. This is making Harry insecure, and even desperate now. He's thinking a week in advance of how he'll answer Quirrell's questions, rather than suffer the humility of having not already deduced and fully understood the secret plan by the time he was asked.

Quirrell is playing Harry on at least these levels: "save the world" fantasy, and "you are not as intelligent as I" subtle cues. These weaknesses of Harry are apparent in a lot of previous chapters. Since these are established vulnerabilities, it's plausible that Quirrell can successfully exploit them without Harry knowing.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-28T18:03:58.878Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Fantasy-mode is completely obvious throughout these chapters, especially at the start of 52.

Yes.

Which also makes me remember the titles of these chapters.

I originally thought the title was suggesting that we were going to explore the underlying motives of the Aurors/Dementors/prisoners... but the SPE has very little to do with prisons, really, and a lot to do with the ways in which people's thinking and behavior gets distorted by the roles they adopt.

Much as Harry, as you point out, is distorting his own thinking by choosing the role of Noble Warrior in an Epic Fantasy.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-10-28T23:14:52.327Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I originally thought the title was suggesting that we were going to explore the underlying motives of the Aurors/Dementors/prisoners... but the SPE has very little to do with prisons, really, and a lot to do with the ways in which people's thinking and behavior gets distorted by the roles they adopt.

IWICUTT.

("I wish I could upvote this twice" deserves a shorthand around here.)

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-25T19:47:50.514Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell gradually brought Harry into the plot, getting him to make a series of commitments so that by the time the full plot was revealed it would be hard for him to back out. The gradual escalation of commitment is reminiscent of the Milgram study, more than the Stanford prison experiment. Quirrell framed each step in general terms that would activate Harry's noble motivations for going through with the plot or undermine his defenses and objections at later steps. And Harry was rushed, so that he wouldn't have time to think things through fully on his own and analyze them from different angles, which made it much easier to lead Harry's thoughts down the path that Quirrell wanted.

In chp 49 Quirrell revealed his secret illegal animagus form, which seemed innocent enough - Quirrell had voluntarily disclosed it for no clear benefit, which made it hard to hold it against him. But in doing so, he brought Harry into a conspiracy, where they had secrets from the rest of the world which Harry was comfortable with even though they might look bad to other people. He got Harry to set aside the law as a standard for evaluating what was happening. Harry knew that the law is flawed, but he also should have recognized that rules are often there for a reason (like the transfiguration safety rules) and so the law is a useful heuristic which should only be ignored with extreme caution. Proclaiming his lack of respect for the law also made it hard for Harry to later ask himself "what would Hermione think about this?" since he'd already crossed boundaries that she wouldn't cross and it had seemed innocent enough.

At the start of their meeting in chp 51, Quirrell asked "do you trust me?" Harry considered and answered yes, since he trusted Quirrell on the whole, more than not. But trust should not be a binary yes/no question, but rather a question of how far and in what ways. Bringing a Dementor into Hogwarts was at the edge of how far Dumbledore would trust Quirrell, and Harry could have imagined what Dumbledore would think of the prison break, but at first the question was just "do you trust me?", not "do you trust me for this very suspicious-sounding plot" or "do you trust me over Dumbledore?" (plus, Quirrell had had some success at getting Harry to distrust Dumbledore). Establishing trust in general made it harder for Harry to doubt Quirrell about the most relevant particulars. If you're concerned that someone seems kind of Dark and has hidden motives, then it's not smart to trust them to have good reasons for freeing Bellatrix Black, no matter how intelligent & clear-thinking they are or how helpful they have been to you personally. But with trust established, Harry didn't think things through and connect those particular reasons for distrust to those particulars of what Quirrell was doing; he was willing to defer to Quirrell. Part of Harry's problem was a kind of Aumann failure - since he trusted Quirrell's rationality, he didn't reason everything through on his own, which made it easier for Quirrell to trick him. There's also the UFAI mistake where being impressed by someone's intelligence makes you think that they share your goals - exacerbated, in this case, by how much Harry identified with Quirrell.

Quirrell introduced the Azkaban breakout plot as a way to free some unspecified innocent person. Harry wants to end Azkaban, and framing the breakout in this way makes it seem like a smaller version of that, which can be based on the same noble motives that capture Harry's imagination (as we see at the start of chp 52). The sense of heroism makes Harry willing to take dramatic action - otherwise, he'd probably balk at something so extreme. In this heroic state of mind, and in a rush, Harry doesn't stop to consider that Quirrell's reasons for wanting to free Bellatrix probably aren't the same as Harry's reasons for wanting to end Azkaban or free innocents.

When Quirrell finally identifies Bellatrix as the target, is Harry really going to back out now? He'd break someone out of Azkaban, just not her? Sure, the case for Bellatrix's innocence seems a little sketchy, but if Quirrell says it's true then the details must fill out the argument convincingly - Quirrell can definitely think clearly about these things, and you trust him. And there's no time now to get all the information that you're missing and think it all through yourself. Sure, this would look bad to other people, or to the law, but this is a big dramatic heroic thing which is judged by a higher standard, which those other people don't understand. Even Hermione wouldn't understand what I want to do here.

So I can see how the versions of Hermione and Dumbledore that Harry has in his head could be neutralized. His inner Gryffindor is caught up in a heroic fervor about saving someone from the Dementors of Azkaban. His inner Ravenclaw is overawed by Quirrell's superior intellect and has been wasting its efforts trying to impress Quirrell by guessing what he'll say next. His inner Hufflepuff was shut down early in the process, and is being ignored by the time its warnings could seem most plausible to the rest of him. But what happened to his inner Slytherin, and the Draco inside his head? They, ironically, are the ones whose warnings (about suspicious plotting) should have the best chance of getting through to Harry. So I guess the question is whether it's plausible that all of these psychological tricks would've been enough to quiet Harry's suspicion. Is it plausible that it could happen, and is it likely enough to happen for Quirrell to try this risky plot?

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-26T00:33:34.868Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But what happened to his inner Slytherin, and the Draco inside his head? They, ironically, are the ones whose warnings (about suspicious plotting) should have the best chance of getting through to Harry.

That's an interesting point. In context of that, consider the following -- Harry is now [end of chapter 54] without protection from the Dementors, thus gone entirely to the 'dark side,' which in Harry as in most is rather Slytherin. That means that Harry is now in the perfect position to see how he's been manipulated, and act against on it: specifically, betraying Quirell and going with his first story "He made me do it." He can even attribute his attacking an Auror who thought about Moody* to the Dementors and potentially get away with the whole thing.

Just something to consider.

* I misread, but the point remains.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-26T07:13:44.896Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

his attacking Moody

Not Moody, but a cameo Auror who thought about Moody

comment by jsalvatier · 2010-10-25T23:42:58.724Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was surprised that we basically did not get to hear Quirrell explain how he knew Bella was innocent nor Harry ask.

comment by FAWS · 2010-10-26T00:38:05.660Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell explicitly said that he couldn't tell him. There are a number of other interesting and important questions Harry could have asked, though.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-25T23:26:35.341Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

One other thing that Quirrell did was to portray the government of magical Britain as the opposition, since he and Harry agree that it's corrupt and incompetent. That made it easier for Harry to dismiss opposition to the plot as foolishness. It also bound Harry & Quirrell closer together in Harry's mind, and made their shared rationality salient.

But it could have driven Harry & Quirrell apart, since this is one area where Harry knows something about Quirrell's goals. They have talked about what kind of government would be best, and they disagree. They even had a kind of public debate about it. So why would Harry be so eager to join a secret organization to reform or overthrow the government of magical Britain, without at least worrying about what kind of government they're trying to bring about?

That's a worry that should carry over to Quirrell's actual plot. It's a very basic question: why is Quirrell doing this? What is he trying to accomplish? But one that Harry apparently never asks.

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-26T08:42:10.206Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The extenuating circumstance of having become evil under the influence of the Dark Lord provides a much weaker reason to rescue someone, and requires much more trust in the person who is conveying the information (since they must not only get the facts right, but make some subtle and complex judgments about the prisoner's character and what they deserve).

If Harry is a utilitarian, he shouldn't need extenuating circumstances. He should want to free everyone from Azkaban and from all forms of torture and suffering, including truly evil people. The only reason not to free Bellatrix Black should be the danger of her attacking other people later on, and that's the point on which he should seek reassurance from Quirrel (re: what they are going to do with her once freed).

But it seems Harry reverts to common human morals in the last few chapters. He attaches much weight to Bella's innocence. He thinks he'd like to kill Voldemoret as revenge or punishment.

comment by Document · 2010-10-28T20:07:40.253Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The only reason not to free Bellatrix Black should be the danger of her attacking other people later on, and that's the point on which he should seek reassurance from Quirrel (re: what they are going to do with her once freed).

Another reason is that (as pointed out elsewhere) there could be other people much more deserving of being freed; freeing Bellatrix or freeing her first might cost him the opportunity of freeing any of them in the near future.

comment by whpearson · 2010-10-28T20:46:35.928Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

And failing to free her at all may cost him the opportunity to save the world. Harry should have had some doubts as to whether he was ready for the mission.

Failing that, the other thing that has been bothering me for a while is why did Quirrel take Harry to save Bellatrix now? If Quirrel was pure Voldy he wouldn't care about Bellatrix, he doesn't love her. Saving her now, by taking a young idealistic boy on an important high-stress mission, doesn't seem like a good plan. How much does an evil overlord value saving henchwomen, what risk is worth it?

I am not sure that Quirrel is pure Voldy. I'm half tempted to predict that Quirrel is Harry-grown-old-and-dark transported through time in some fashion. Hence the extreme inability to touch each other and the fact that Quirrel's priors are too good. There is a fair amount of evidence against that (lack of patronus, for one). But it is a fun idea.

comment by Vaniver · 2010-10-28T22:41:32.456Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Saving her now, by taking a young idealistic boy on an important high-stress mission, doesn't seem like a good plan.

Unless the primary purpose is to change Harry. Duping Harry into rescuing Bellatrix Black creates some pretty hefty blackmail- most importantly by Harry against himself. Harry can name the fallacies involved, but that's no guarantee he can overcome them.

Remember, pretty much every action Quirrel has taken so far has been pedagogical. It seems far more likely that he's grooming Harry than that he's rebuilding his power base.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-28T21:10:33.223Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If it did turn out to be that I'd be annoyed since a) old Harry time traveling back has been done before and b) it would be such a stretch from the standard plot that making it turn out that way would strike me as too far removed from the original.

comment by whpearson · 2010-10-29T14:37:39.684Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it could make a decent story. I'm not sure that it hasn't strayed too far from canon anyway.

Sngr/Fgnl Cbggre

Nsgre guvf qronpyr, Uneel trgf pncgherq naq chg va Nmxunona sbe n ovg. Ur ybfrf nyy uvf unccl zrzbevrf naq gur novyvgl gb pnfg Cngebahf (vg vf n unccl zrzbel) naq fbzr bs uvf engvbanyvgl genvavat. Ur rira sbetrgf ur vf Uneel Cbggre (ur yvxrq orvat n obl jvgu qrfgval).

Urzvbar/Dhveery/Qenpb naq gur jrnfyrlf zbhag n erfphr, jvgu Urezvbar univat yrneag cngebahf sebz Uneel'f abgr.

Uneel vf nffhzrq gb or gur qnex ybeq, ol gur nhgubevgvrf, fb vf abg fnsr ng guvf gvzr, ur jbhyq or uhagrq qbja, fb vf genafcbegrq onpx va gvzr.

Gurer ur xvyyf bss Ibyqrzbeg cebcre naq fybjyl orpbzrf Dhveery. Guvf nyfb rkcynvaf jul gur Qrzragbef unir n orrs jvgu Dhveery, ur unf gur znex bs fbzrbar jub rfpncrq Nmxnona.

Dhveery unf gb pbnpu Uneel va guvf jnl gb sbez n fgnoyr gvzr ybbc.

Abj V qba'g ernyyl guvax vg vf guvf. Ohg fgvyy vg jencf hc n ahzore bs fgenaqf. V nyfb unira'g ernq rabhtu snasvp be gur ynfg srj obbxf bs Uneel Cbggre fb zl frafr bs jung unf orra qbar be fubhyq or qbar vf abg irel fgebat.

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-29T15:29:27.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Guvf nyfb rkcynvaf jul gur Qrzragbef unir n orrs jvgu Dhveery, ur unf gur znex bs fbzrbar jub rfpncrq Nmxnona.

I believe that the Dementors have a beef with Quirrell because (rot13) gur Qrzragbef ner Qrngu vapneangr naq Dhveeryy qrsvrq qrngu ol perngvat n ubepehk, abg gb zragvba qlvat naq abg fgnlvat qrnq. Gurl jnag gur cevmr gung'f orra qravrq gurz.

comment by whpearson · 2010-10-29T20:10:35.701Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Reading some wikis tell me that Dementors didn't have a problem with Voldy in canon, and that condition applies there. So either that is a deviation from canon, due to a change in the nature of Dementors or something else is going on.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-29T20:33:09.479Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Dementors don't represent death in Rowling's canon. They are identified with depression.

comment by bogus · 2010-10-29T21:26:46.972Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Potential spoiler:

Vg pbhyq or gung Uneel vf fvzcyl zvfgnxra nobhg gur gehr angher bs Qrzragbef: Gurl qb abg ercerfrag Qrngu (gung vf Yrguvsbyqf), ohg engure zntvpnyyl pbapragengrq rkvfgragvny natfg (spoiler). Uneel'f gubhtug va gur Uhznavfz frdhrapr vf uvf guvat gb cebgrpg (spoiler), juvpu (jura uryq fgebatyl) vf n engvbany pbhagre gb rkvfgragvny natfg. Navznyf ner rssrpgvir Cngebav orpnhfr gurl'er abg ersyrpgvir rabhtu gb srry rkvfgragvny natfg.

Gur ovttrfg ceboyrz jvgu guvf gurbel vf gung Oryyngevk qbrf unir "fbzrguvat gb cebgrpg"--ure vagrafr ybir sbe Ibyql. Guvf gubhtug fubhyq unir rvgure fuvryqrq ure sebz gur vasyhrapr bs Qrzragbef be orra sbetbggra nf cneg bs gur Qrzragbef' trareny rssrpg.

Fbzrguvat gb guvax nobhg sbe n zber pnabavpny fcvabss, gubhtu.

Nfvqr: Sha naq rkpvgrzrag jbhyq nyfb jbex nf rssrpgvir pbhagref gb rkvfgragvny natfg. Cerqvpgvba: Serq naq Trbetr Jrnfyrl jvyy qrirybc na rira zber rssrpgvir Cngebahf ol erqvfpbirevat fbzr bs gur 31 ynjf bs Sha (spoiler).

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-29T20:33:51.248Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, in canon he eventually recruited the Dementors, IIRC. This seems like a change in the nature of the Dementors.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-29T17:52:04.499Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you edit your rot13 comments to plain-text I'll upvote.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-29T14:58:15.072Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the general issue is that the overarching setting is essentially the same or very close to the original even if the details have changed. That's an implicit pact that Eliezer has essentially made with the readers.

For what it is worth, prior to the end of the series there was a fair bit speculation that either Voldemort or Dumbledore was really a time traveling Harry (this speculation seemed most prominent after book 4 before book 5 came out).

At a general meta-level I also doubt Eliezer will do anything like this because this is still to a large extent Eliezer's vehicle for trying to illustrate concepts about rationality and that sort of plot line would seriously distract from such a goal.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-29T14:53:02.956Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, but how does he kill Voldemort? Your scenario doesn't provide any power-up to go from irrational prisoner in Azkaban to Dark Lord-killer.

I suggest that before that, Harry remembers Quirrel's story about the Chamber of Secrets, and regretfully kills the basilisk as well (to keep the time-loop stable). Indeed, a time-loop might explain how Quirrel found about it in the first place - the search procedure was simply to systematically investigate every old legend, and the Chamber was simply the one that panned out.

comment by whpearson · 2010-10-29T14:58:15.238Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It depends how far back in time he is sent. He might have plenty of time to power up. Being fairly dead inside he might've got close to Voldemort and learnt his secrets, pretending to be an ally and then betrayed him.

comment by MartinB · 2010-10-29T18:25:46.601Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It was mentioned that the time turner only works for 6h/24h. He first would have to invent time travel for longer distances.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-29T19:22:51.527Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't endorse the future-Harry theory at all, but that said, I do think this would be a principled extrapolation... that is, it wouldn't come out of nowhere, narratively.

We've already seen Harry experiment with time (and be warned not to). And we've seen, during Harry's experiments with transmutation, that previously binding constraints on magic can be overcome by adopting a different model of what the magic is doing (1).

I'm no more an expert on the nature of time than I am on the nature of matter, but on the face of it a constraint like "6h/24h" seems as arbitrary as "whole objects only" (2).

So it stands to reason that a similar exercise of using a more accurate model of time could cause that constraint to evaporate (3), allowing Harry to develop an improved Time Turner with no practical upper limit on temporal range.

All of that said, Fermi's Paradox as applied to time travel is a real problem. OTOH, if we're willing to believe that "muggles" don't notice the existence of wizards, I guess it's not implausible that temporal natives don't notice the existence of temporal tourists.

(1) One explanation is that by adopting a more accurate model of the manipulation being performed, one can discard constraints that were only ever consequences of the inaccuracies in one's earlier model. (This seems the most likely explanation, given the author's philosophical sensibilities.)

(2) Perhaps more, actually. There is a difference between how a cluster of iron atoms interacts with the other iron atoms in a chunk of iron, and how it interacts with the surrounding atmosphere, and that difference could fundamentally affect how transmutation works. It doesn't in the MORverse, it seems, but it could have. Whereas I can't think of any meaningful difference between a 6-hour displacement in time ("distimement"?) and a N-hour displacement for any N that is not a significant fraction of the age of the universe.

(3) That said, Harry would be well advised to take far more precautions than are currently available to him before experimenting. It may be that the 6-hour limit is actually a safety factor derived from the maximum distance over which the Turner can adjust the user's spatial coordinates to keep them on the surface of the Earth, for example. Then again, the same could be said of experimenting with transmutation... at the very least, understanding where the extra energy goes seems like a good safety precaution. Then again again, I guess that sort of attitude is why I'm not a protagonist in heroic fiction.

comment by MartinB · 2010-10-29T20:40:58.104Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And then he could bring some venture capital to save a certain car manufacturer from bankruptcy

comment by bisserlis · 2010-10-29T08:35:06.523Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, can you explain why lacking a patronus is evidence against Quirrel being a time-traveling Harry? He would have the same super-bright human patronus that Harry does, which would be a bit of a tip that he was Harry-from-the-future. So obviously he would pretend to not have one.

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-29T20:59:22.984Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Alternative idea: You only get one patronus. Harry's got hit by AK, so now he can't cast patronus anymore.

comment by bisserlis · 2010-10-29T22:03:33.401Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Shhh, if you're not careful, patronuses will be sentient next. Is it ethical to dismiss a sentient patronus?

comment by whpearson · 2010-10-29T14:22:02.488Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If he had a patronus he could have saved Bellatrix a long time ago, by himself or using a more reliable ally than Harry. He seemed to have been waiting for Harry, thus either he doesn't have a patronus or he needed Harry to do this task for some other unknown reason.

comment by bisserlis · 2010-10-29T19:26:04.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still confused. I think because I assume that saving Bellatrix was definitely not the point of the trip, and whatever the real point was, it specifically has to do with Harry so Quirrel's patronus status is irrelevant with respect to the Azkaban trip. Couldn't Quirrel always have used an ally in the plot? They wouldn't even necessarily have to be willing or reliable on their own, or can't you summon a patronus under the imperius curse?

Now I feel like I did when reading the chapter on the final army battle. I think I'm an n-1 player.

comment by whpearson · 2010-10-29T20:50:36.152Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I got the impression that Harry's patronus was special and strong for shielding against the Dementors, perhaps no others would have been strong enough to hide an escaped felon? Why hadn't more people been broken out?

Okay if saving Bellatrix is not about saving Bellatrix, could whatever it was about have been done in a more controlled environment? Could Quirrell have hired some goons to play a part in some formative point of Harry's education/ensnarement rather than taking a teen into a live fire situation.

What would have happened if Harry hadn't been able to cast Patronus? Could Quirrell have taught the lesson/ got a hold on Harry in a different way? If so why hadn't Quirrell got this hold as soon as he could have? It seemed that Harry's Patronus was the trigger for the Azkaban mission (Quirrell suggests it just after he finds out about it, why does Quirrell need to get the hold now).

The only explanation that makes sense in the "azkaban is not about bellatrix" scenario is that Quirrell wanted it to fail all along... I see insufficient incentive for Quirrell for the positive outcome to offset the severe risk of it going wrong.

I'm also confused. None of the explanations for what is going on make sense. Quirrell's motivation/identity seems the most under explained.

comment by bisserlis · 2010-10-29T21:57:35.800Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I'm not sure whether or not it's better at shielding, because we're told that people break in to Azkaban to shield the inmates so that they might have regular non-nightmare dreams, or just a half-day of patronus time. So we know that just one typical patronus is strong enough to protect people from the worst effects of a Dementor for 12 hours.

I don't think we know enough about the defenses of Azkaban to say at what point the typical rescue operation would fail. But when we're witnessing the aurors in the command center, I find it interesting that only attempts to relieve the pain of being in Azkaban through patronus-presence are brought up (in the bit about bribes), not escape attempts. Perhaps it has to do with the "perfect crime" logic.

As to what the actual purpose was in this whole excursion, I have no idea.

I'm not sure intentional failure is the only explanation. It could be some weird bonding experience. Maybe Quirrel always dreamed of raiding wizarding prisons, pulling off bank heists, and taking over the world with his son. Chapter 55: "Adoption Papers"

I think from the duel that we can infer that Quirrel didn't expect to lose, even in a one-sided fight against a team of aurors. He was just playing games when it was one-on-one. Maybe he used the killing curse because he was (overly) confident that Harry was committed to trusting him completely with regards to this mission and didn't expect to be blocked.

Maybe chapter 55 will answer all of our questions. Ha. Haha.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-30T11:05:28.244Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Someone talked about the chapter being in "fantasy mode". My first thought was that they were saying that the chapter might be a dream. This doesn't seem to be what they meant, but the chapter is so odd in terms of the overall story that I don't want to entirely exclude the hypothesis.

At that point, the hard thing is thinking of a way that it being a dream or other sort of hallucination wouldn't be completely infuriating. I'm not sure if it "Harry has an enemy who's attacking him in his dreams" would be good enough, though that would be a very Harryish nightmare. Maybe it's his subconscious telling him that Quirrell isn't entirely trustworthy.

comment by MartinB · 2010-10-30T11:12:23.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I usually do not like dream episodes if they are not well hinted at. It often feels like a cheap excuse to blow everything up without hurting the status Q.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-10-28T23:12:27.851Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How much does an evil overlord value saving henchwomen, what risk is worth it?

Not worth it. But this is:

"Your wand," murmured Bellatrix, "I hid it in the graveyard, my lord, before I left... under the tombstone to the right of your father's grave...

comment by MartinB · 2010-10-28T23:37:46.898Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Which would not requiring a rescue mission, but just going in & out. Which - as we learned - is rather cheap to do.

comment by MartinB · 2010-10-28T22:47:38.090Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrel seems to not know some theoretical concepts that Harry does know.

comment by whpearson · 2010-10-29T14:26:47.972Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I have a theory for that. See my rot13'd reply to JoshuaZ.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-10-28T21:12:36.744Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe Quirrel was (acausally) decision theoretically obliged to save her.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-28T23:15:17.591Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Acausal" and "(T/U)DT" aren't magic words that, upon invoking them, suddenly make it rational to act like a good Samaritan and against your own goals and interests.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-10-29T08:09:47.220Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking more that he might have promised to rescue her if she needed it, so that she would agree to help him.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-28T23:30:50.438Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, they only make it seem rational to some people.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-28T23:35:55.039Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Heh. If you had seen the part of my post I eventually deleted, you would have been digging a trench. Fortunately I didn't feel yet ready to put such a broad accusation forward with the necessary confidence.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-28T02:39:37.310Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

People aren't very good at being utilitarians when there's heavy emotional issues involved even if they are generally good at thinking rationally in other situations. For example, I'm generally a utilitarian, but when I read about this extremely disturbing story I wanted the people responsible to suffer badly for a very long time. And I still do. I don't just want them to die to prevent future harm. I want them to burn. I want them to burn so much that it almost makes me wish there were a vengeful god to torture them. And if I had the choice between simply killing the people involved and making them die slow, agonizing deaths, I'd likely pick the second and them lie to myself and convince myself that that was somehow the utilitarian thing to do.

Humans have a lot of trouble being good utilitarians when the stakes are high.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-28T02:20:16.480Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

he only reason not to free Bellatrix Black should be the danger of her attacking other people later on, and that's the point on which he should seek reassurance from Quirrel (re: what they are going to do with her once freed).

Even if Harry's not a utilitarian, I'd still like him to be smart enough to realise that this is still an important practical question to ask.

But he's only 11, so I only hope that EY will let him realise his mistake later.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2010-10-28T23:53:30.880Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's also the TDT idea that people who did evil things should be punished.

comment by h-H · 2010-10-29T00:18:52.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

yeah, punishing agents for doing 'bad things' as a deterrence against other agents acting similarly is quite rational.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-29T00:32:50.750Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It is a lot more important than just deterring similar acts. A failure to punish after having made a commitment to punish removes a big part of the deterrent effectiveness of all kinds of punishment for all kinds of 'bad things'. For that matter, it may decrease trust that the government/society will keep its other commitments - pension obligations, for example.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-25T19:56:09.289Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

To add to this, what will be done with Bellatrix after she is freed? Wouldn't Harry need an answer to this before cooperating with Quirrell?

Simply releasing Bellatrix to her own recognizance would be like releasing a hungry lion near a grade school during lunch hour. Without Voldemort personally directing her actions she would act out of her own sense of vengeance.

It isn't obvious to me that a simple "trust me" from Quirrell would convince Harry to cooperate.

comment by jsalvatier · 2010-10-25T23:37:52.274Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I thought this was weird too, but EY has a habit of revealing plans as they are enacted rather than beforehand.

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-25T21:25:10.089Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell's case in favor of Bellatrix's innocence sounds like what a partisan would say when trying to make their side seem favorable, not an argument that Harry would buy (just as he could see through Draco's case against Dumbledore). Genre savvy Harry has read plenty of stories about villains with a sympathetic backstory.

This is the one thing that bothers me about this; Quirrell's excuse for Bellatrix seems good enough to cover a lot of people. Hence I expect at least one of the following should hold:

  • Harry refuses to go along (this didn't occur)
  • Harry insists on modifying the plot to break out more people (this didn't occur)
  • Harry insists on going back to break out more people, to Quirrell's dismay
  • Harry insists on going back to break out more people, just as Quirrell was going for

...though I guess those last two look a good deal less likely now that I've seen the extent to which they bungled the breakout.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-10-17T00:22:58.127Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Something that came up in a conversation offsite between me and Adelene Dawner:

Both in canon and MoR, where are all the grandparents and great-grandparents?

Supposedly, wizards have much longer lifespans than Muggles. I'm a Muggle, about to turn 22, and I've still got a grandparent left. Meanwhile, baby Harry managed to be orphaned without any of his grandparents stepping forward to take him in, or even trying to have a relationship with him. Perhaps Lily and Petunia's folks, Muggles both, were dead by this time - they never show up in canon - but what happened to pureblood James's mom and dad? Or their parents, or their siblings - when these people could all easily have lived to be a hundred years old, there should be some many-generation families running around.

The only visible ancestors we have before the canon epilogue are Augusta Longbottom, and, by the end of the series, Andromeda Tonks. Old characters like Dumbledore and McGonagall exist, but seem unmarried, childless, grandchildless. The Weasleys had at least one great-aunt and one great-uncle, but neither Molly nor Arthur has parents coming around for dinner, and they try to be an awfully close-knit family.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2010-10-17T01:10:30.590Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The only visible ancestors we have before the canon epilogue are Augusta Longbottom, and, by the end of the series, Andromeda Tonks.

Not only that, but if I remember correctly, Augusta Longbottom was portrayed as being considered old. Wizards seem to follow the same schedule as muggles for settling down and having kids, so she should have been about 70 when Nevil started at Hogwarts - not even middle-aged compared to a 200-year expected lifespan.

comment by erratio · 2010-10-17T01:25:55.384Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure this is too unusual relative to our own society: these days life expectancy in Western countries is around 80-100, but people still tend to be considered to be getting old at fifty, relatively old by sixty and definitely old by seventy. In our case though we have the excuse that it's a recent change.

This implies pretty awful things about wizarding society, if we can safely assume that people with children retire around sixty and then spend the next century or so being ornamental, and that it's been like that for centuries.

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-18T14:43:46.461Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There was a war with Grindelwald that took the place of World War 2 in the wizarding world. Presumably, many of the older generations perished in that conflict as well. And we have few tales of the potentially-bloody history prior to that.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-21T01:34:39.950Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There was a war with Grindelwald that took the place of World War 2 in the wizarding world.

It's very slightly hinted in canon that these were actually the same war. In MoR (and, I would guess offhand, quite a few other fanfics), this is pretty well confirmed.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-18T04:36:15.769Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The usual handwave by people discussing Rowling's canon is that any missing family members were probably casualties of the civil war against Voldemort, I think.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-10-18T12:03:27.338Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

There's no obvious comparative shortage of people from any particular age group. Unless the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix selectively went around a little over a decade ago and picked off enemies with grandchildren/married offspring who were likely to go on to have kids, but not non-grandparents with kids - which, really, why? - this is an unsatisfactory explanation. And it'd have to be both sides. We're not just missing Molly's Prewett ancestors, we're missing Abraxas Malfoy too.

comment by bogdanb · 2010-11-03T12:09:40.728Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Death Eaters seem to have a proclivity for killing one’s family. That would explain very thin family trees for anyone that was involved with the war. That’s because families of DE-opposers are killed, because people with less family would be more likely (i.e., less demotivated) to fight against Death Eaters, and people already fighting DEs are less likely to start families to avoid having a lever over them. The obvious exceptions, like Ron’s large family, are children born after the war, sort of like baby-boomers.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-11-03T13:20:08.746Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ron is the second-youngest child in his large family, and he's Harry's age. So most of his siblings were born during the war.

comment by bogdanb · 2010-11-16T15:24:28.564Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, you’re right. I was confusing Voldemort’s war with the earlier war (the one matching WW2). I only realized the distinction when I was too far from a computer to retract the comment. That said, Ron’s family could still be just an exception. The logic still stands, it just went from “supported” to “not supported” by evidence (rather than “contradicted”).

comment by somervta · 2013-10-31T04:00:21.634Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

They have just been through a war - many such people may have died. It's also possible that most wizards/witches had children much later, and the relatively 'young' families we see were a response to the war.

comment by fibby · 2013-10-31T03:03:48.535Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It is possible that most wizards/witches die not of old age, but simply because being a wizard is such a HUGE occupational hazard. If you use magic every day, you can make a fatal mistake eventually; especially if your magical power keeps increasing with age, whereas your memory / ability to concentrate goes down. And there are everyday spells that can easily kill you if you get them wrong, Apparition comes to mind. Yet it is possible that death in a magic accident is so common that it isn't even viewed as big tragedy. You'd have to be either extremely good (Dumbledore), or very careful (Moody, McGonagall), or both to survive to an old age.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-10-26T12:31:13.980Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 54: why don't Harry and Quirrell cast Somnium on Bellatrix instead of deceiving her? (The deception requires Quirrell to tell Harry the Death Eater password, among other things...) Why does Quirrell talk to Bahry so confidently while Bellatrix can hear him? Why does he follow his whims to play-duel and then kill Bahry instead of quickly subduing and memory-charming him, if they planned to pull off the perfect crime? Why is he so vulnerable to Dementors that he drops immediately when Harry's Patronus vanishes, even though Bahry's Patronus is still there successfully protecting Bahry and Harry? (Or am I misunderstanding the reason for his screaming? It's very similar to Harry's screaming when he first encountered a Dementor. If the screaming were caused by Quirrell's spell coming in contact with Harry's - brother wands or whatever - then Harry should've felt a symmetrical effect, which he didn't.)

Also, am I the only one stupid enough to only now realize that the professor's name is Quivering Squirrel?

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-26T18:15:16.529Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

why don't Harry and Quirrell cast Somnium on Bellatrix instead of deceiving her? (The deception requires Quirrell to tell Harry the Death Eater password, among other things...) Why does Quirrell talk to Bahry so confidently while Bellatrix can hear him? Why does he follow his whims to play-duel and then kill Bahry instead of quickly subduing and memory-charming him, if they planned to pull off the perfect crime?

That reminds me of something else Quirrell arranged for Harry -- occlumency. If they read Bella's and the Auror's mind, they'll see Harry as a villain, and since Harry has training in occlumency, he's no way to prove them wrong. The entire thing looks like a set-up.

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-26T20:53:06.377Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Harry didn't even consciously try to stop Quirrel's killing curse. It was an accident. Quirrel couldn't have counted on it happening to set Harry up.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-27T01:53:36.932Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, you're quite right. Perhaps Quirrel was planning to kill the Auror to make it clear that a break-out had occurred? That way, a full check of the prison would occur and Bella's replacement would likely be found. Which in turn would mean that it was put there simply to deceive Harry into a false sense of security. When the break in is made public, Dumbledore would naturally come under suspicion (since a Dementor disappeared under his watch) and he would suspect Harry. That might also explain the lack of the 30th charm by Quirrel. Might make Harry traceable.

I could be completely wrong, of course. Pure speculation.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-26T19:00:14.805Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The Auror saw Quirrell fight him with amazing skill, attempt the killing curse, and turn into a snake. Harry saved him from the killing curse. Quirrell's the clear bad guy from his point of view (is that enough evidence for people to conclude that Q=V?), and only Harry's last Somnium spoils his innocence.

It will also be clear that they were lying to Bella, at least about some important things, since it was Harry's Patronus.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-26T19:13:18.056Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure I'm being exceedingly careful here, but...

is that enough evidence for people to conclude that Q=V?

It's enough evidence to conclude that he's a bad guy.

Assuming I had never read Eliezer's assurances that Q=V, I would most definitely not put it past him to make his rewriting of HP not so much about the Dumbleharry vs. Voldemort war, but about the internecine fight between Quirrell/ColdHarry and Dumbledore/WarmHarry about how to confront the Voldemort threat - by finding a worthy dictator (in the original intent of the word, hopefully) or by making free citizens, I mean subjects of Her Majesty stand up for themselves. Each of them convinced that fighting Voldemort by the other's means would be as bad or worse than giving up; each of them wondering how much can they scheme and sacrifice, how close can they come to Voldemort's methods in order to successfully lead the fight against him... damn, speculating about it makes me want to read it already, no matter all the stuff that doesn't quite work with this scenario (sense of doom in primis).

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-28T00:17:57.445Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

So write it. Nothing wrong with having an AU of an AU.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-26T20:44:54.196Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I mean: Is it enough evidence for people within the story to conclude that he is Voldemort? Being a ridiculously powerful dark wizard should be enough for them to locate the hypothesis and consider it a possibility, at least for those who know that Voldemort is alive. Then there are other clues: his attempt (with Harry) to free Bellatrix Black, knowledge of the Death Eater password (among him & Harry), his strange relationship with Harry Potter (including the odd magical interaction & Harry's sense of doom), and his ability to turn into a snake. Is that enough evidence to convince someone like Dumbledore who already knows that the Dark Lord lives? Is it enough for the rest of the wizarding world to be persuaded?

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-11-02T20:23:58.103Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

that depends on whether they still trust harry after this... If he gets out Draco is going to figure it out for sure, dumbledore and mcgonagal I am not certain about, and the wizarding world in general? I would say not a chance, but it opens up some interesting possibilities for the story if the wizarding war erupts out of nowhere again so quickly.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-26T18:18:13.168Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Bingo. I think you have it.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-10-27T02:47:21.431Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How about: Should Harry have trusted Quirrell? I don't mean "did it have a good outcome"; I mean, was Harry's trust justified by what he knew? Would you have done the same thing?

In retrospect, I think Harry ought to have said, "Professor Quirrell, I owe you a great debt, and have great respect for you. If you ask me to do something, I'll probably do it. But I don't trust you one single bit." But I doubt I would have said that myself.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-28T02:30:10.488Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also, am I the only one stupid enough to only now realize that the professor's name is Quivering Squirrel?

Sorry, how does ‘Quirinu‑’ become ‘Quivering’?

comment by dclayh · 2010-10-28T05:17:34.959Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why does he follow his whims to play-duel and then kill Bahry instead of quickly subduing and memory-charming him,

Presumably, as I mentioned below, for the stated reason that "'It's been quite a while since I had a serious fight with a serious opponent'" As Quirrel himself said earlier, if you can't have some fun once in a while, what's the point?

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-26T20:51:50.913Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why is he so vulnerable to Dementors that he drops immediately when Harry's Patronus vanishes, even though Bahry's Patronus is still there successfully protecting Bahry and Harry? (Or am I misunderstanding the reason for his screaming? It's very similar to Harry's screaming when he first encountered a Dementor. If the screaming were caused by Quirrell's spell coming in contact with Harry's - brother wands or whatever - then Harry should've felt a symmetrical effect, which he didn't.)

It was caused by the spell contact. Harry was also screaming (Bahry's POV mentions hearing this). He was probably less affected than Quirrel because he was much farther away.

Case in point: Quirrel had spent about a minute in Azkaban (top floor) without any Patronus, until Harry arrived, and all that happened was that he had to lean on the wall for a bit to recover.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-10-26T21:14:28.246Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Naw, Quirrell spent that minute in his snake form because it's less vulnerable to Dementors, and when disaster struck he threw away his wand (recall how Harry got attacked through his wand) and assumed snake form again, probably as a last ditch defense. So I'm not sure if your final point supports your conclusion or mine.

And Harry was probably screaming just because he was scared.

ETA: I just realized another funny thing. As Quirrell is an unregistered Animagus and Bahry saw him transform, in the aftermath he'll be going to Azkaban for two years unless something unusual happens.

comment by katydee · 2010-10-27T06:59:51.708Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have very little, if any, idea of what something "usual" would look like under these circumstances.

comment by EchoingHorror · 2010-10-27T06:33:45.275Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Polyjuiced Quirrell, mind you.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-26T21:38:41.224Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

ETA: I just realized another funny thing. As Quirrell is an unregistered Animagus and Bahry saw him transform, in the aftermath he'll be going to Azkaban for two years unless something unusual happens.

"And then it was already too late" prompts in the text suggest that Quirrell died (and probably won't revive himself as Quirrell again).

Edit: This seems to be an inference from incorrect assumption, correction here.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-10-26T22:02:43.569Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The most direct interpretation of "it was too late" is that Harry's Patronus was down long enough for the Dementors to find them and see Bellatrix had escaped.

comment by EchoingHorror · 2010-10-27T06:58:48.409Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Probably. And with the Aurors coming, Harry won't have the chance to recast his Patronus before they all find him and give him a good talking-to.

Prediction in rot13: Bs pbhefr, jura gurl neevir, gurer jvyy or rvtug yrffre cngebav xrrcvat gur srne bs qrngu bss Dhveeryy. Vs gur fghaavat fcryy unf jbea bss, naq gur snpg gung ur guerj njnl uvf jnaq naq ghearq vagb n fanxr zrnaf gur qrzragbef ner uvf ceboyrz, abg gur pynfu jvgu Uneel'f zntvp, V cerqvpg fbzr irel vagrerfgvat guvatf jvyy unccra. Zbfgyl rcvp cjantr. Rvtug vf rabhtu, evtug?

comment by pjeby · 2010-10-27T16:51:52.004Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The fear of dementors isn't Quirrel's problem, it's that his spell and Harry's touched. He threw away his wand to stop the magical cascade, and Harry was screaming because he felt the same thing, but didn't understand it as quickly as Quirrel did.

comment by EchoingHorror · 2010-10-28T01:19:05.825Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does that also explain why he turned back into a snake? I must have missed where that and throwing away a wand can help with a magical cascade.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-28T13:05:36.998Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It will be aesthetically unsatisfying if turning into a snake helps.

comment by thomblake · 2010-11-05T18:00:56.874Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Note that on Quirrell's "Evil Overlord List", Rule 34 ("I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.") has been replaced by (translated from Parseltongue) "Become Animaguss. All ssensible people do, if can. Thuss, very rare." (Per chapter 49)

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-05T18:26:12.959Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note that on Quirrell's "Evil Overlord List", Rule 34 ("I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.") has been replaced by (translated from Parseltongue) "Become Animaguss. All ssensible people do, if can. Thuss, very rare." (Per chapter 49)

Or, "I will turn into a snake. It always helps."

comment by cousin_it · 2010-11-05T18:12:28.815Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a weird coincidence that the rule would have number 34.

comment by thomblake · 2010-11-05T18:33:44.387Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, there are more than 33 rules. It's not a particularly weird coincidence.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-05T18:42:17.548Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not weird, perhaps, but rule 34 on Quirrel's snake form is certainly creepy.

comment by pjeby · 2010-10-28T03:38:24.200Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know why he turned back into a snake; others have suggested he's less susceptible to Dementor influence in that case. It is also possible that his alternate form was some kind of magic done to his snake form, and that he simply reverted to snake form on losing control of whatever was producing his fake human form.

That throwing away the wand is helpful was suggested by the previous incident with the dementors and Harry's wand.

Actually, it's possible that 1) he needed to throw the wand away to stop the cascade, but 2) became a snake to avoid any Dementor influence happening by way of the wand. He may also have felt that Bellatrix would be less likely to kill Voldemort's favorite snake than some random human tool/servant of his.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-05T18:28:37.648Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Snakes are easier to carry, for example.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-05T18:36:26.726Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

More energy efficient. Less hygiene requirements.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-26T22:09:36.756Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see this interpretation as plausible, too much implied drama for such an insignificant event in context (as more evidence, "last seconds tickling away" is a death metaphor). Dementors alerting Aurors about the escape is just the last nail in the coffin.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-10-27T16:06:58.502Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, it's the last seconds ticking away for a successful escape attempt- if Harry had put up his Patronus, there might have been time for Quirrell to recover, use a Memory Charm on the Auror, and abscond with BB without raising the alarm.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-27T16:16:00.263Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I now see that as more plausible than originally (having learned that my interpretation is not obvious to others), but remain uncertain and favoring the hypothesis of Quirrell having died. We'll see what was actually intended.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-28T17:13:01.883Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

...and if I replace my previous assumption that Quirrell collapsed as a direct result of Dementor influence that was opened by disappearance of Potter's Patronus, with the much more plausible assumption that he collapsed because of magic incompatibility with Potter's Patronus of the same nature as what killed him the first time, and only additionally suffered from Dementors, then it doesn't follow that Dementors cause overwhelming harm, and so that prolonged exposure leads to death. This also explains throwing away the wand: make own magic weaker to reduce the effect of magical incompatibility.

Thus, now the hypothesis that Quirrell died seems less plausible than the alternative.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-27T02:35:35.486Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Really? I think it suggested that it was now too late for Dark Lord Harry to return to being Good Lad Harry without external intervention, a la kiss. He's in too dark a place to think Happy Thoughts.

comment by DaveX · 2010-10-27T13:58:39.403Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I read it as too late for Harry to save himself. And before that, Voldy was already gone, prior to Bahry's reflexive stunner spell.

comment by jsalvatier · 2010-10-26T17:05:29.421Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't realize it until you mentioned it.

comment by Randaly · 2010-10-07T22:04:08.932Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Hey Eliezer- if you're planning to upload your Author's Notes to the LW wiki, it might be helpful to post that intention to your profile on Fanfiction.net. I know of at least 3 groups independently trying to collect all of the AN's themselves:

comment by MartinB · 2010-10-08T03:41:55.496Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Please do. I would like to read the earlier notes.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-16T08:44:47.077Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I, too, have been trying to collect whatever AN's I could, along with the little description blurbs. My version is a bit messy, though.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-10-26T13:02:31.228Z · score: 11 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed something odd in chapter 17, which seems relevant:

Harry was rather confused. "But this could be important, yesterday I got this sudden sense of doom when -"

"Mr. Potter! I have a sense of doom as well! And my sense of doom is suggesting that you must not finish that sentence!" ... "This isn't like you!" Harry burst out. "I'm sorry but that just seems unbelievably irresponsible! From what I've heard there's some kind of jinx on the Defense position, and if you already know something's going to go wrong, I'd think you'd all be on your toes -" ... "I see," Harry said slowly, taking it all in. "So in other words, whatever's wrong with Professor Quirrell, you desperately don't want to know about it until the end of the school year. And since it's currently September, he could assassinate the Prime Minister on live television and get away with it so far as you're concerned."

Professor McGonagall gazed at him unblinkingly. "I am certain that I could never be heard endorsing such a statement, Mr. Potter. At Hogwarts we strive to be proactive with respect to anything that threatens the educational attainment of our students." ... "Oh, I doubt that, Mr. Potter. I doubt that very much." Professor McGonagall leaned forward, her face tightening again. "Since you and I have already discussed matters far more sensitive than these, I shall speak frankly. You, and you alone, have reported this mysterious sense of doom. You, and you alone, are a chaos magnet the likes of which I have never seen. After our little shopping trip to Diagon Alley, and then the Sorting Hat, and then today's little episode, I can well foresee that I am fated to sit in the Headmaster's office and hear some hilarious tale about Professor Quirrell in which you and you alone play a starring role, after which there will be no choice but to fire him. I am already resigned to it, Mr. Potter. And if this sad event takes place any earlier than the Ides of May, I will string you up by the gates of Hogwarts with your own intestines and pour fire beetles into your nose. Now do you understand me completely?"

As Harry observes, this exchange is extremely out of character for McGonagall. Telling Harry not to voice his concerns about Quirrel, I could believe; but cutting him off mid-sentence, and them making such a graphic, violent threat if he does, I can not. It is so out of character, in fact, that I think it must be a symptom of being Imperiused.

We know that Voldemort used to use Imperius quite a bit, and the only real reasons he might stop would be if someone figured out how to detect it (which hasn't happened), or if his new form didn't have the power. One Imperiused person rules out the second possibility, so if if Quirrelmort put an imperius on McGonagall, he has almost certainly used it elsewhere too.

Which brings us to Harry's attempted breakout of Bellatrix. Breaking in to Azkaban to rescue Bellatrix Black, I could just barely believe. Pretending to be Voldemort while doing so, however, pushes credibility too far. From Chapter 52 to Chapter 54, Harry is Imperiused. There are just too many things stupid and suspicious about the plan to believe that Harry overlooked all of them.

And that brings us to the question of what Imperius actually does. And this, I think, explains the chapter title, "The Stanford Prison Experiment", which otherwise seems not to fit at all. The conclusion of that famous experiment was that if you give someone a role - even a fake role, like a prison guard over subjects in a psychology experiment who are technically free to leave - then they adopt it as part of their identity, including the evil parts, and become blind to the wrong things they do as part of that identity. So perhaps that's what Imperius does: it assigns its target a particular role, which their mind will bend to accommodate. That would also explain why the title was redacted for part 1, which takes place before the Imperius curse was cast.

Here are some abnormalities in Harry's mind:

This was it, this was the day and the moment when Harry started acting the part.

And in another part of him, like he was just letting another part of his mind carry out a habit without paying much attention to it...

Professor Quirrell had instructed Harry, calmly and precisely, how he was to act in Bellatrix's presence; how to form the pretense he would maintain in his mind.

The only problem with this theory, is that Harry believes that Quirrel can never use magic on him. His Patronus and Quirrel's Aveda Kevadera certainly didn't interact well, and there seems to be an issue if they touch. But the theory that they can never use magic on each other, seems to have appeared from nowhere; there is no evidence for it whatsoever, except the sense of doom. Perhaps that idea was planted, to make the idea that Harry was Imperiused seem less plausible?

comment by Mercy · 2010-10-26T14:48:12.213Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

And, sorry this has probably been gone over before, but why doesn't Harry think about the sense of doom all that much? He keeps glossing over it as if he's under a Somebody Else's Problem type field. If he's under some sort of mental power it's likely causing both mistakes

comment by DaveX · 2010-10-26T18:43:57.869Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think the title was redacted in order to not give the game away too early, as in Chapter 9.

Maybe the magical incompatibility is real, and perhaps the dark social engineering behind the Stanford Prison Experiment relates to Chapter 16, Lateral Thinking. In Ch16, there's almost the same words in all-caps dizzying his brain. It might be explained by the sense of doom and magical incompatibility. Also Ch16 has “Mr. Potter, I never said you were to kill. There is a time and a place for taking your enemy alive,..." If Quirrell senses similar doom on his side, framing Harry as the Dark Lord and almost capable of breaking his most trusted lieutenant out of Azkaban might be a cunning lateral-thinking plot to dispose of all but a fragment of his nemesis without using anything direct.

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-27T06:36:18.679Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm.. it seems clear that the "sense of doom" is important. Possibly even an indicator that one is being imperius'd -- if these theories are correct.

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-26T18:03:14.418Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The business with Snake-Quirrell whispering instructions to Harry might suggest the Imperius Curse. In Rowling's book #4, Moody casts the curse on students and that's just what it's like -- verbal commands that are followed without question (unless you're trained in resisting the curse). Bellatrix doesn't seem to notice that Harrymort is talking to his snake. Perhaps Voldemort was known to do this all the time, but it could be because the instructions were being issued directly to Harry's brain.

But the fact that they can't cast magic on each other is a big obstacle for this theory. Of course, a key point in these chapters is that it's possible to control somebody without ever Imperiusing them.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-26T19:47:24.636Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

When Harry powered up his Patronus, Quirrell was not able to get him to stop verbally. This suggests that Harry is not Imperiused.

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-27T06:34:40.977Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Under a certain reading Quirrell actually did get him to stop.

"My lord! You must stop it!" ... "Please, my Lord!"

The words went unheard.

They were far from him, the Dementors in their pit, but Harry knew that they could be destroyed even at this distance if the light blazed bright enough, he knew that Death itself could not face him if he stopped holding back, so he unsealed all the gates inside him and sank the wells of his spell into all the deepest parts of his spirit, all his mind and all his will, and gave over absolutely everything to the spell -

And in the interior of the Sun, an only slightly dimmer shadow moved forward, reaching out an entreating hand.

WRONG DON'T

The sudden sense of doom clashed with Harry's steel determination, dread and uncertainty striving against the bright purpose, nothing else might have reached him but that.

If you had been watching from outside you would have seen the interior of the Sun brightening and dimming...

Brightening and dimming...

...and finally fading, fading, fading into ordinary moonlight that seemed like pitch darkness by contrast.

Within the darkness of that moonlight stood a sallow man with his hand outstretched in entreaty, and the skeleton of a woman, lying upon the floor, a puzzled look upon her face.

Where is that "WRONG. DONT." coming from? Harry's inner dialogue or Quirrell? Note that the sense of doom has been associated with Quirrell's proximity since the start of the mission, and the "man reaching out in entreaty" is Quirrell. So maybe it actually only was by Quirrell's influence that Harry was able to stop.

Anyway, I think the bit about them not being able to cast spells on each other (which is true-ish in canon) is a stronger argument. But other have pointed out how unusual it is that Harry would go along with any of this unless he was either being imperiused or mind-fucked by Quirrell.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-27T14:06:48.690Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Anyway, I think the bit about them not being able to cast spells on each other (which is true-ish in canon) is a stronger argument.

Probably, but EY is a tricky writer and can make me second guess everything.

It appears that the phrase "The sudden sense of doom clashed with Harry's steel determination", tells us what happened. The Quirrell doom field brought Harry to his senses. In that context "WRONG DON'T" appears to be Harry's awakened response to what he is doing. Nothing seems to imply that Harry's will is not his own.

However, the sense of doom suggests a connection between Harry and Quirrell. Based on canon this suggests Q=V, but I suppose it might also suggest that Quirrell has been Voldemort. The connection with Harry could be residual.

That special connection could be the source of "WRONG DON'T". It implies that Quirrell has a subtle route to Harry's mind that does not require the Imperius curse and that gets around Harry's Occlumency. In canon Harry could sense Voldemort's mood and occasionally see through his eyes.

So perhaps Quirrell is reading Harry's mind and carefully manipulating him through the scar connection. This would help to explain Quirrell's ability to make deductions from insufficient evidence.

Chapter 49, Prior Information:

There were times when Harry suspected that Professor Quirrell had way more background information than he was telling, his priors were simply too good.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-27T02:33:43.600Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You have to remember the fact that the Imperius curse can be resisted in canon. There's no reason for that to not apply here.

comment by ata · 2010-10-23T22:54:21.708Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I would like to take this opportunity to hail Discordia, and say that yes, in fact, I would like it very much if you started convincing people that I was some sort of shadowy conspiratorial figure. Honestly I'm disappointed that this hasn't happened already.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I've long suspected you had Discordian sympathies (even before HJPEV started being really overt about it with Chaos Legion and such), and that I often already do portray you as a shadowy conspiratorial figure (and, occasionally, as a dark wizard) when I tell people about your work. Honestly, SIAI is the closest thing I know of to an actual honest-to-Gog real-life New World Order conspiracy, or at least the only one I know of whose master plan to utopia is both (1) plausible, and (2) not shockingly uncreative or unambitious or reactionary about what a better world could look like.

comment by JStewart · 2010-10-10T04:46:04.000Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I have a question about chapter 49 and was wondering if anyone else had a similar reaction. Assuming Quirrell is not lying/wrong, and Voldemort did kill Slytherin's Monster, then my first thought was how unlikely that Slytherin's Monster should have even survived long enough to make it to 1943. No prior Heir of Slytherin had had the same idea? Perhaps no prior Heir of Slytherin had been strong enough to defeat Slytherin's Monster? No prior Heir had been ruthless enough?

Maybe this constitutes weak evidence for the theory that Quirrell is lying.

comment by AdShea · 2010-10-11T20:55:28.489Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It also could be that the Basillisk has some sort of genetic memory (or DNA-based cognition ala the Super Happies!) such that the monster in the book is not the original monster but rather a great-great grandwhelp of the original monster. This would allow any heirs to kill their specific monster while the line (and thus memories) are preserved.

(This is of course all predicated on Slytherin realizing that his descendents may be nasty enough to keep knowledge from others by any means possible).

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-16T07:18:27.099Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is of course all predicated on Slytherin realizing that his descendents may be nasty enough to keep knowledge from others by any means possible.

I wonder, did Slytherin actually expect his descendants to be nasty? In MoR quite possibly not.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-11-01T11:19:56.377Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Chapters 55-56: disappointment. Harry recovered way too easily, if the story were consistent he'd be screaming on the floor until the Aurors arrived. The obstacle of Bahry's future testimony shouldn't have been so easy to remove, now I'm suspicious that Eliezer will deal with the obstacles posed by McGonagall, Dumbledore and others in the same fashion. In general, the end of Ch. 54 seems to promise all hell breaking loose, 55 undoes that, tries to build more suspense instead, and fails to be believable because it erased previous suspense too easily. It's like a prelude that promised a fugue and didn't deliver. But the part where Harry momentarily thinks of Bellatrix as a good unquestioning minion was one of those moments of brilliance that I love the fic for.

The best description of hell breaking loose I've ever read was the first part of Dostoevsky's "The Idiot". I first read it assuming it would be a difficult work of "serious" literature, and it totally upset my expectations by being more exciting than any "fun" literature I'd seen. Here's how it goes: all the heroes and the main conflict are introduced in the first couple pages, then the situation quickly becomes tense, then passions begin to flare up, then the whole thing explodes while we're not even halfway into the chapter, and when you expect it to subside it explodes some more instead, then more and more, and unbelievably the chaos just keeps growing until the last page of Part 1 when it ends with a couple paragraphs and you have to close the book rather than read on to Part 2, because you're shaking and you need to work out who was thinking what.

comment by Eneasz · 2010-11-05T15:41:39.947Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

disappointment. Harry recovered way too easily, if the story were consistent he'd be screaming on the floor until the Aurors arrived.

I've thought about this a bit. Emotionally, I agree with you. But all the counter-arguments make sense. I've finally narrowed it down to a single sentence, at the end of Chapter 54:

(And then it was already too late.)

This sentence is epic. It sent shivers down my spine when I first read it. It resounds with finality. The jig is up. The battle has been lost. Despair, all ye mighty. I couldn't wait for the next installment to find Harry waking up in an holding cell with his plans crumbling about him, desperately thinking his way out of this jam without giving up his friend.

Now, I do actually enjoy the next two chapters. But the promise of finality was broken. Ch55 starts out with "And then it was already too late... PSYCH! It's not too late at all!" It feels like the X-men comic books I'd read as a kid, which on the cover showed our heroes dead or mortally wounded, the villain of the month triumphant above them, but when you grab the comic and read it you find that nothing like that happens in the story.

If that line was removed (or at least changed to not be so Final) the transition between 54 and 55 wouldn't be jarring.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-11-05T18:10:28.618Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry waking up in an holding cell with his plans crumbling about him, desperately thinking his way out of this jam without giving up his friend

Prisoner's Dilemma, huh? :-) I had the same hopes for 55. Right now it looks like Harry will escape the mess without losing anything. Whyyy? Corwin of Amber had a spectacular failure that got him imprisoned and blinded, and the story was better for it.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-05T15:58:25.170Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're right. The power of that line even confused me into jumping to conclusion that Quirrell died, despite a much better explanation. The book will be better if this device is changed.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-11-02T23:36:38.789Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Harry recovered way too easily, if the story were consistent he'd be screaming on the floor until the Aurors arrived.

Well, to the accusation of inconsistency I will respond that (a) Harry is not standing five paces away from a Dementor this time and (b) he has been strengthened somewhat by previous realizations, thus he does not instantly fall over and gets a chance to recover.

comment by PeerInfinity · 2010-11-02T19:30:03.357Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Chapters 55-56: disappointment. Harry recovered way too easily, if the story were consistent he'd be screaming on the floor until the Aurors arrived.

I agree entirely.

In chapter 52, I was able to empathize with Harry. I felt what he was feeling. And the feelings were was surprisingly intense.

But in the next chapters the story just started getting too unrealistic, and Harry became an impossibly superpowered character, and I lost my emotional connection with him.

This was a constant problem throughout the rest of the story too, but the problem is especially egregious in this story arc. And the impossibly-superpoweredness kept escalating.

Chapter 52 was vaguely plausible.

Chapter 53 might have been plausible, if Harry had a lot of time to prepare.

Chapter 54 was only slightly less realistic than chapter 53.

And I thought that after Chapter 54, this story arc was over. Harry failed at his mission, and just had to keep from losing his mind entirely before the aurors found him and he had to face the consequences of his actions.

But then in chapter 55, he made a miraculous recovery. Noone could recover like that. Not even Eliezer Himself could recover like that.

From then on, this wasn't a story about a real person, it was a story about an impossibly superpowered character, and the story lost almost all of its emotional impact.

I still think Harry should have just given up, and turned himself in to the aurors. I don't see how this could possibly end well, and Harry's actions in chapters 55 and 56 are just making things a whole lot worse.

But this is a story, and so of course it's going to end well, no matter how stupid or reckless the protagonist seems to be acting.

It's still an awesome story though, it's just that the suspension of disbelief is gone.

But that's just my opinion. Your Mileage May Vary.

EDIT: ok, I accept Eliezer's explanation and David Allen's explanation of why Harry was able to recover. I take back my complaint about Harry's recovery being unrealistic. But, not knowing what Harry's plan is in chapters 55 and 56, it still seems to me like Harry would have been better off giving up.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-02T21:49:15.279Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Harry became an impossibly superpowered character

One of Harry's established traits is his highly trained reflex to question his own perceptions, especially under difficult circumstances.

This situation is probably the most extreme that we have seen Harry in. In this context that ability comes across as a super-power, but it is not out-of-character.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-02T20:15:33.106Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with most of your comments, but -

But this is a story, and so of course it's going to end well, no matter how stupid or reckless the protagonist seems to be acting.

So you'd offer 4-1 odds on that bet?

comment by PeerInfinity · 2010-11-02T20:38:02.597Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

sorry, what I should have said is that the story as a whole will end well. It's still possible that Harry's actions in this particular story arc will have disastrous consequences, that Harry will have to try to fix later. It's also very likely that Harry won't be able to fix all of the disastrous consequences.

but I would still offer 1-1 odds that this particular story arc will end without disastrous consequences... though there is some ambiguity about what counts as "disastrous".

um... oops... did I just challenge Eliezer to not give this story a happy ending? I want a happy ending. or at least a bittersweet ending. It's just that I would prefer if the protagonist didn't recklessly get into impossible situations that he then goes on to use impossible superpowers to get out of.

And what happened to Harry having learned how to lose? This seems like a situation where losing immediately is the best option. The more Harry resists, the worse things will be when he loses. Unless something really improbable happens.

Anyway, I expect that all of these things that I'm complaining about are probably a case of "the plot demands it". It would have been nice if Eliezer could have avoided these problems, but sometimes you just can't please everyone.

Also, we won't know for sure if Harry is holding the idiot ball until we find out what his plan is, hopefully in the next chapter.

oh, and is it just me, or are the words "trust the author" really unconvincing? I mean, if you already know how generally awesome Eliezer is, it's a whole lot easier to trust him as an author, but those words would be entirely unconvincing to anyone who hasn't heard of Eliezer before... though he has already earned lots of trust with the previous chapters...

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T17:14:08.157Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(Harry having to learn how to lose was great.)

Remember "The Cold Equations"? I wouldn't be shocked if Eliezer wound the entire fanfic up with some similar message.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-11-03T18:54:10.524Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I remember the extensive discussion about "The Cold Equations", in which it was concluded that the only way that sort of tragedy could be generated would be if there was massive organizational incompetence.

Stowaways were a known problem. Why wasn't the spaceship locked? Why was there a door on the closet?

I think a reasonably happy ending is forced for MOR. Harry survives. So do other major good characters. However, perhaps a MFAI (Magical FAI) is created, and power and responsibility are handed off to it. What would Harry do with the rest of eternity then?

comment by Alicorn · 2010-11-03T19:26:10.355Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What would Harry do with the rest of eternity then?

I think there's textual evidence suggesting that he would have descendants and then attend a lot of birthday parties on celestial objects.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-11-04T00:32:31.581Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He might still enjoy exploring how magic works-- I expect it's as rich a field as physics. (Last I heard, the idea that physics may offer unlimited depths is still respectable.)

Ending for a rationalist fairy tale: And then they learned how to live happily ever after.

comment by MartinB · 2010-11-04T00:51:31.938Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But he gets the 'ever after' before he learns how to make 'happiness'

comment by PeerInfinity · 2010-11-05T04:47:45.833Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What would Harry do with the rest of eternity then?

Harry will invent Fun Theory, of course. And then he'll spend the rest of eternity testing and improving this Fun Theory.

comment by shokwave · 2010-11-05T05:04:33.501Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

massive organizational incompetence.

I would think Rowling's creation and management of the Harry Potter universe is quite clearly an example of massive organizational incompetence. Eliezer's characters might try their very hardest to save themselves, but like the stowaway they were dead the moment they were born into Rowling's universe.

comment by MartinB · 2010-11-03T19:22:40.384Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No no no no no. Not a stupid space Aesop as in the cold equation. No!

comment by komponisto · 2010-11-03T20:06:39.988Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Remember "The Cold Equations"?

What an awful story. I just read it, and am now in a state of outrage.

The message is ostensibly that the laws of nature don't care about human welfare, which, as we all know, is true enough. But the problem described in the story is entirely human-caused: a straightforward engineering failure. It's the result of stupidity, poor planning, and failing to learn from past mistakes.

And the sexism ("OMG It's a girl!") makes it all the more distasteful, although that's probably unfair of me, since it was after all written in the 1950s.

I can't see Eliezer writing a story like this. Ever.

comment by whpearson · 2010-11-01T12:34:50.749Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Even with Bahry obliviated there should be lots of clues it was Harry. Especially now that Quirrell is down and whatever spells he was casting to confound the wizarding equivalent of forensics are probably down. Harry sized foot prints in the dust, cloth fibers where Harry lay down? The angle/position that the stunning spell hit Bahry implying it was cast from a low elevation?

Or to put it another way who are the Wizarding community going to think did this?

Ex-death eaters? Not killing Bahry is a sign that it is not them. The unusual patronus that seemed to be able to hide Bellatrix, and will possibly kill Dementors next chapter, has the hallmarks of Harry.

If they didn't know about the existence of time turners then they might be fooled, but he has used them so much, it is really a poor alibi.

So yeah put me in the camp of all hell should still be breaking loose even if Harry doesn't get caught red handed in Azkaban.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-02T20:16:42.035Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Even with Bahry obliviated there should be lots of clues it was Harry. Especially now that Quirrell is down and whatever spells he was casting to confound the wizarding equivalent of forensics are probably down. Harry sized foot prints in the dust, cloth fibers where Harry lay down? The angle/position that the stunning spell hit Bahry implying it was cast from a low elevation?

The wizarding world doesn't stoop to non-magical forensics. Footprints? Fibers? How barbaric.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-01T16:57:06.658Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that it is obvious to most of the other characters that it is a patronus that is hiding Bellatrix. It would also be discounted because she remains invisible under the cloak after Harry's patronus is extinguished in Ch. 56.

Canon Dumbledore would have observed the masking power of Harry's patronus, and would be clever enough to to guess that the Harry's cloak could have this property. Presumably the HPMOR Dumbledore is at least this clever.

Dumbledore however observed Harry's extreme response to an unshielded dementor, so he might be confused at a Harry that walks around unprotected and apparently unaffected.

Working against Harry is that Dumbledore's patronus could be used to identify Harry's patronus as the one it observed in Azkaban, and that any dementor that observes Harry, and survives, could also identify him. It seems that if Dumbledore wants to later verify or exclude Harry as the intruder, he can.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-01T12:43:41.298Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell would plan well to already have a scapegoat prepared.

comment by whpearson · 2010-11-01T13:06:44.112Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1 ) But Harry thinks the scapegoat was possibly him! Which doesn't help.

2) Or if Quirrell wasn't trying to set up Harry it could have been random ex-death eaters, hence the need to kill Bahry with a killing curse for a consistent story. Which Harry scuppered by saving him.

3) Assuming a scape goat likely to obliviate rather than killing curse, Harry doesn't know who it is and what power they should have and how smart they should be. His actions, such as stopping cast the patronus, while keeping Bellatrix hidden, are giving more information to the wizarding world. Might they be able to guess that whoever is keeping Bellatrix hidden has a deathly hallow cloak thing?

Actually apparently Dumbeldore believes that Dementors should be able detect people in an Invisibility cloak, because they sense them through emotion. According to the wiki page anyway. So maybe Dumbledore would be fooled.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-01T13:12:20.167Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Grandparent (my comment) was probably

Quirrell would do well to already have a scapegoat prepared.

comment by gwern · 2010-11-01T17:17:58.172Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Actually apparently Dumbeldore believes that Dementors should be able detect people in an Invisibility cloak, because they sense them through emotion.

Everyone expects invisibility cloaks to not be very good - they usually aren't. The Deathly Hallow one is described as being fantastically valuable for being a 'true' invisibility cloak*, and not merely equivalent to a 'very strong Disillusionment charm' and weakening quickly with age (to quote from memory Luna Lovegood's dad; and speaking of them, we haven't heard very much from them since the first few chapters).

If Dumbledore expects a 'true' Invisibility cloak, then this is basically == expecting Harry.

* Yes, this does raise the question how Dumbledore could apparently see through it to Harry and the Mirror of Erised in book 1. The charitable explanation is that he was bluffing or heard Harry; the uncharitable one is that like Lucas, Rowling only came up with the Deathly Hallows and the ultimate ending late in the game.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-05T06:11:48.710Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

he uncharitable [explanation] is that like Lucas, Rowling only came up with the Death Hallows and the ultimate ending late in the game

That is undeniable. Invisibility cloaks are mentioned in the early books, and no hint whatsoever is given that Harry's is special. It would have been better if she could have done a real Lucas (or an Eliezer) and edited the earlier references in the earlier books.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-05T08:01:14.918Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It would have been better if she could have done a real Lucas (or an Eliezer) and edited the earlier references in the earlier books.

I'm not sure which is worse - a single magic gene or midichlorians. But to be honest I might be willing to trade off Ron for Jar Jar.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-23T20:08:54.215Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Some thoughts about Comed-Tea.

(I apologize in advance if these have already been discussed; there are a LOT of MoR comments and I haven't read all of them. If someone points me at the thread I'll slink off quietly and apologetically and read it.)

1) It seems there have to be two pieces to the behavioral control surrounding Comed-Tea (supposing Harry's basic theory is correct).

The first piece is, as Harry infers, inducing the drinking of Comed-Tea just before a surprising event is about to occur.

The second is suppressing the drinking of Comed-Tea otherwise. Were it not so, the "guarantee" wouldn't work... there would be no reliable expectation of something surprising happening when you drink it.

That second part needn't be magical, incidentally; there are many things that suppress people's desire to drink them via non-magical routes... castor oil is a canonical example. But if Comed-Tea had blatantly aversive properties Harry presumably would have noticed that. So whatever the aversive factor is, it's subtle (which still doesn't make it magical).

Actually, now that I think about it, the first piece of that is so unreliable (that is, most surprising events aren't preceded by drinking C-T) that it's probably better to model it the other way: the unusual aspect of C-T is that it suppresses the desire to drink it UNLESS something surprising is about to happen.

This seems like a realization worth highlighting in the text, as it gets at a very basic and important fact about false positives and false negatives that people lose sight of all the time.

2) Harry seems to be holding the Idiot Ball when it comes to Comed-Tea's implications.

That is, he convinces himself that Comed-Tea doesn't have the ability to Alter the Very Fabric Of Reality... all it does is combine some minor clairvoyance with the ability to magically influence his decision to drink it... and drops the subject.

Um... really? Isn't that second thing basically a limited version of the Imperius Curse? Isn't that at least noteworthy?

At the very least, it suggests that Comed-Tea is an empirical test of defenses against magical mind-control: if Comed-Tea still works on Harry while using X, then X is not a defense against magical mind-control. Harry in the MoRverse is apparently an Occlumens; testing whether using Occlumency suppresses the effect of Comed-Tea seems worth doing. (This is admittedly difficult because Comed-Tea doesn't work reliably, but it's the best thing he's got at the moment. It seems out of character not to try. Also, if I'm right about point 1, then maybe Comed-Tea does work reliably... maybe it's chemically very addictive, but magically suppresses the cravings except at the right time. In that case using Occlumency against it, if it worked at all, would suddenly cause one to crave it. Which would be startling.)

More broadly, the implication that magic to systematically influence Harry's behavior without his knowledge or consent -- in other words, to introduce bias -- is cheap and widespread seems fundamentally important. What other forms of mind-control are operating in the wizarding world? Does Occlumency work against all of them? Does anything work against all of them? Who markets this stuff, anyway, and how was it developed, and why isn't it classified as an Unforgivable Soft Drink? Is there a variant formula that influences people not to bully one another, or to think rationally, or to hail Harry as their lord and master?

That none of this even occurs to Harry (let alone the rest of the wizarding world) in a world nominally without the Idiot Ball seems like a plot hole. That said, one could retcon it by suggesting that ubiquitous magical mind-control artifacts also suppress thinking about magical mind control. (You might even expect this: mind-controlling artifacts that don't do this don't become ubiquitous.)

Narratively, all of this seems like a worthwhile topic to explore in the context of MoR. The parallels to advertising and critical thinking skills, for example, seem inescapable.

3) I see a number of comments talking as though the Comed-Tea itself were influencing minds to drink it at the right moment, and as I recall Harry thinks this way as well.

That something is influencing the drinker's mind seems a sound theory, but that the Comed-Tea itself is doing so seems less clear. Harry should at least consider alternate theories.

In particular, if Harry is still positing an eavesdropping Atlantean Font of All Magic that responds to "Wingardium Levioso", it seems just as plausible that the AFoAM mediates the drinking of Comed-Tea.

Admittedly, the AFoAM is pretty close to being a Fully Generalized Explanation... which is to say, Harry is coming awfully close to theism there. But I suppose that's another post.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-11-06T21:56:00.523Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

(slaps self on forehead) It just occurred to me that the precognition theory is experimentally distinguishable from the alter-reality theory for Comed-Tea.

If Comed-Tea operates on precognition, then the frequency of potential spit-take inducing events (that is, events absurd enough to cause you to do a spit-take were you drinking something) should be the same for communities that have the stuff and communities that don't... the only difference should be that Comed-Tea containing communities drink the stuff just before they happen.

OTOH if the frequencies aren't the same, then the precognition theory runs into trouble. In that case something does appear to be increasing the likelihood of absurd events.

Of course, a third theory is that drinking Comed-Tea simply makes things seem more spit-take-worthy than they otherwise would be, thereby increasing the perceived frequency of such events... much like the frequency of giggle-inducing events increases after eating a hash brownie.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-23T21:28:54.951Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

1) Agree

2) "Limited version of the Imperius Curse" looks like an exaggeration to me - it isn't just a matter of scope, the Comed-Tea impulse can be resisted with little effort.

The level of its power of mental manipulation seems about on par with that of the bakery in the city I grew up in, which had set up shop in front of a particularly frequented bus stop and which would keep its doors half-open, even in winter, drowning the waiting (and often hungry) students and workers in the delicious smell of fresh bread and pastries.

That is to say, it's conceivable that the Comed-Tea doesn't use "real" mind-altering magic at all, but simply broadcasts a signal which, to the brain, appears analogous to the gurgling of a fountain on a hot summer day.

3) Well, yes, if all magic relies on the AFoAM while spells and magical items are just triggers this has a lot of implications, but I don't see how this concerns the Comed-Tea more than any other thing.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-24T03:08:16.341Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Re: Imperius -- Yeah, I'm admittedly exaggerating here, and agreed that for legal purposes the power level matters, or at least ought to. I stand corrected.

Re: bakery -- The difference between behavioral manipulation via knowable mechanisms (e.g., bakery smells) and via unknown mechanisms (e.g., magic spells) seems important. It's way easier to overcome/compensate for a known bias than an unknown one of the same strength.

Re: AFoAM -- yes, agreed. The AFoaM is pretty darn close to a Fully Generalized Explanation.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-23T20:14:36.265Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or, looking at it the other way... if it's plausible that Comed-Tea is capable of influencing Harry to drink it at the right moment (or, rather, just before the right moment), then I'm not sure why it isn't plausible that the phrase "Wingardium Levioso" is capable of influencing objects to levitate.

Words don't normally have that ability, and I can't imagine how they could, but the same is true of soft drinks.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-10-09T15:01:45.555Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell is reading Hermione and Draco's minds, and the story he told Harry about how he learned that Harry was a parselmouth, in chapter 49, is partially fabricated. While that story does explain Quirrel knowing that Harry's a parselmouth, it doesn't explain why he chose to confirm that knowledge on his very next private meeting after Draco found out. Also, as Harry observed, Quirrell has at least one hidden source of information:

(EDIT: On rereading, Harry brought up parselmouth first, which explains the timing. But the remaining arguments for the conclusion that Quirrell is reading Hermione and Draco's minds still apply, and still seem sufficient.)

"There were times when Harry suspected that Professor Quirrell had way more background information than he was telling, his priors were simply too good."

And besides that, simply as a prior probability, Quirrell ought to be reading every mind he's confident he can get away with reading, and Hermione and Draco are very unlikely to notice . This also suggests that when Quirrell arranged for Harry to learn occlumancy, it was a bit of misdirection; he knew he'd be able to get the same information from Harry's friends, but that having suggested it would make Harry more inclined to trust him. Finally, this means that the secret of partial transfiguration is not safe, and if Quirrell is Voldemort then it does not satisfy the conditions of the prophecy.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-09T23:26:48.124Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

it was a bit of misdirection; he knew he'd be able to get the same information from Harry's friends,

Harry's friends? Harry is a compulsive secret keeper! He will not even tell Hermione how to make patronuses and he keeps what he does with Malfoy and Hermione a hidden from each other (and incidentally manipulates them by keeping the key details of what he is trying to do to them to himself.)

comment by AdShea · 2010-10-13T18:02:01.622Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry may be a compulsive secret keeper, but he also uses the scarlet letter technique a bit too often and Quirrel probably realizes that.

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-10-27T20:02:50.540Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The way I understand it, MOR is meant to be an example of how a rational being might go about approaching a completely new and confusing set of observations, such as discovering that magic is real. However, I think harry has missed a lot of the low hanging fruit he could be researching. Although my suspension of disbelief shut down these thoughts pretty fast when I first started reading, I was always pretty curious about why magic was created in the first place, why only certain people could control it, and how exactly the energy needed for spells was obtained and applied. So here are a few things I would want to research ASAP if I was harry.

A) Is it possible to fool the source of magic (sm) so that it allows a muggle to cast spells? It was pretty safe for harry to rule out the idea that your DNA contains all the information needed to create a complex mechanism which can generate a magical field and respond intelligently to your intentions, so it makes sense that your DNA only serves as a signal that tells an external force to activate spells when you verbally or non verbally cast them. However, this raises a few interesting questions. does sm actually read everyone's DNA constantly/ whenever they try to cast a spell? or does the sequence of DNA cause a more obvious external change to your appearance that sm looks for? If it uses something like the pattern of your brainwaves, the shape of your face, etc as a marker, then it may be possible for a muggle to mimic a magic user easily and vice versa, but if it actually DOES read your DNA, then where? Could you grow a heart using a magicians DNA, have it implanted, and acquire magical abilities? For that matter, if you preserved the body of a dead wizard, and set up a electric transmitter in their mind which mimicked the signals sent when someone cast a spell, what would the effect be? Any recognition system should be possible to fool, and this would be the most important thing to test for me. Imagine being able to give every person dying of thirst or hunger in the world unlimited access to the resources they need. there would be no more third world countries, although you would also be distributing a terrible weapon.Which actually brings up another question...

B) Why on earth would you invent a powerful system for allowing someone to directly effect reality with their thoughts, and then let everyone with the right DNA use it with no inhibitions whatsoever? Avada Kedavera, Imperio, and fiendfyre may have their uses, but I would not let all of my ancestors use them without supervision with no more training then it takes to cast any other kind of spell. It would be as idiotic as giving everyone I knew the codes required to launch a nuclear missile whenever or wherever they wanted too using their cellphones. Even if they all had good intentions, someone is going to make a dumb mistake eventually. Creating a system for inhibiting the use of such spells would be complex, but only an idiot would not try. This has several implications for harry, either magic was invented by a moron, there are even MORE powerful spells out there that he could cast if he knew the access codes (!!!), or someone already found out how to game the restrictions so they fell apart long ago and nobody even realizes they exist, you may even be able to get it working again.

C) the SM has to have a a sustainable energy source somewhere, a method for using this energy to create the effects we call spells, and in order for it to perform the complicated routines needed to assess someones intentions, it probably has to be somewhat intelligent. Somewhere out there may be an AI, a group of slaves being used to perform observations and calculations, or the work is being sent on a distributed computing network to the minds of every sentient being on the planet. this may be the hardest thing to research since there are almost an infinite variety of of possible systems which may be the cause, and it is probably concealed. But, If you could find the physical source of magic, you could reprogram it to do whatever you wanted, and could achieve world peace or destruction in one step

I would write more but I am honestly hoping for people to actually read through this and give their thoughts, so I guess I had better stop now in the hope of remaining somewhat concise.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2010-10-27T22:06:15.674Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

The "low hanging fruit" which you argue Harry ought be researching... they seem to involve organ transplants and the manipulation of dead bodies with "electric transmitters in their mind which mimicked the signal sent when someone cast a test".

Are you serious? How the hell would a first-year student of Hogwarts perform these experiment? How can you call these "low hanging fruit"?

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-11-02T20:08:54.708Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Low hanging meaning that the concept would be fairly easy to come up with, reveal a lot about how magic actually works, and it would be simple to implement. If you can convince a dying wizard who sympathizes with muggles to donate their body to science, the rest is easily within harries means. Also, harry could even test the idea on himself or draco first. If you set up a radio to mimic human brainwaves, tell the wizard to hold onto a wand without casting any spells, and mimic the signal from a wizard casting a spell, you would be able to at least confirm whether or not it is worth trying to get a unconscious / dead / completely artificial body.

As for the organ transplant, that idea sucked which is why I should not write when I am tired, there are a lot more tests you should logically do first. I imagine that you could find a dying wizard who consented to the experiment and was willing to be an organ donor, a muggle who needed a new heart, and see what happens, but since there is no evidence that the DNA in your heart, mind, feet, etc is what is read, it would make more sense to wait until later.

And finally, I resent the implication that his being a student makes a difference :p if their society makes it impossible him to do it, he has more than enough influence to get help from an adult.

comment by Desrtopa · 2010-11-04T01:50:06.599Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How exactly do you propose that they set up a radio to mimic human brain waves? Not only would this be extremely technically complicated, almost certainly beyond Harry's resources or knowhow, even if the source of magic actually constantly reads wizards' brain waves, what reason do we have to suspect that it would not be able to distinguish neurological activity from a radio transmitter projecting the same patterns?

It sounds like a huge amount of work for a test which stands a great chance of being completely useless given that Harry doesn't have anywhere near enough data to home in on this as a meaningful avenue for investigation.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-10-27T22:08:07.772Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

But, If you could find the physical source of magic, you could reprogram it to do whatever you wanted, and could achieve world peace or destruction in one step.

I think that many people here would disagree with you about how easy FAI is.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-27T22:38:55.241Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Furthermore, we already have magic plenty, but not understanding of how to use it.

comment by Karl · 2010-10-27T21:19:51.204Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A) is very hard to test given the restriction on using magic around muggles. As for B), powerful spells are mostly restricted by the edict of Merlin. C) is, as you pointed out, extremely difficult to research effectively. I'm more surprised that Harry never bothered to ask how new charms are discovered. After all, how are you supposed to figure out that you are supposed to say "Wingardium Leviosa" and then move your wand in a certain way? And he as been told that new charms were discovered every year, so we know it's possible.

comment by Document · 2010-10-28T09:24:37.216Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

IIRC, in canon they tend to talk about spells being "invented" rather than discovered. For a while I pictured advanced wizards somehow writing particular programs into the Source of Magic, which were then run by saying the spell name; or at least something like that.

comment by MartinB · 2010-10-28T09:23:56.746Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Harry makes mistakes too. He once planned out a whole series of experiments only to have the first one turn out way different that expected. I hope there is a completely usefull justified explanation for magic, but even if not it was well worth reading. Hopefully it is not something like scrapped princess.

comment by Document · 2010-10-28T07:22:30.165Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In chapter 30, Harry makes himself pass out by casting Luminos 12 times rapidly. That could be a foothold for investigating the effects of casting magic on the human body; he could see if he can replicate the result consistently, then try it with different spells or combinations of spells and different rates of casting, and possibly other varied conditions.

comment by Vaniver · 2010-10-27T22:28:08.078Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Avada Kedavera, Imperio, and fiendfyre may have their uses, but I would not let all of my ancestors use them without supervision with no more training then it takes to cast any other kind of spell.

This is why, in canon at least, they must be cast with hatred. That's a great safety valve for getting rid of accidental murders.

(I also suspect you mean descendants, not ancestors.)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-28T06:12:53.889Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is why, in canon at least, they must be cast with hatred. That's a great safety valve for getting rid of accidental murders.

I think I'd prefer the safety valve working the other way. "Let's limit it only to the people most likely to abuse it" sounds like a dubious tactic. Although come to think of it it is a rather good analogue to elements of standard morality (with respect to power and status).

comment by Vaniver · 2010-10-28T22:50:42.533Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I'd prefer the safety valve working the other way.

I agree that a safety valve that makes sure only Good Guys (who?) kill Bad Guys (who?) would be more morally valuable. But if you're doing that you might as well program moral laws into the universe itself, so it is impossible to lie, steal, or murder.

This is a technically feasible (but this is magic we're talking about) hack which makes it more difficult to mistakenly murder or torture people with magic.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-10-18T21:18:13.783Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Re. the "sentient snakes": I had a similar reaction, "What, snakes in this world are intelligent, and that has no consequences?" But centering the reaction on moral issues... well, this is a gripe/rant/sore spot with me. Particularly when the word "sentient" is involved.

"Sentient" means the ability to feel. I don't know if snakes are sentient. But I absolutely guarantee you that cows and pigs are sentient.

In moral debates, the word "sentient" is one of a class of words I call "words that don't mean what they mean": words that we systematically abuse, by having 2 definitions; and we use the word in practice with definition 1, and pretend it has definition 2 when we want to justify our actions.

It is so very very common for people to talk about "sentient life", and use it to mean "life forms with a grammatical language". If you just came out and said, "I think that the feelings of beings that can't express themselves with a recursive grammatic structure need never be considered", people would realize how unjustified and self-serving this view is. So people use the word "sentient", yet in a way implying it applies only to beings with grammar, so they can say what they want to say, but in a way that sounds like they are saying something less self-serving.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-21T01:36:58.520Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is a problem throughout science fiction, of which EY (or MoR!Harry) is probably an innocent victim. I don't know how it started, although offhand I doubt that it began in an attempt (conscious or otherwise) to justify cruelty to non-human animals.

It certainly can be confusing, however.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-10-21T02:26:09.351Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think "Star Trek" may be responsible for this common word "misuse".

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-26T05:12:33.209Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The article on Memory Alpha (which is written from the perspective that Star Trek is reality) suggests otherwise: it implies that ‘sentient’ was not used in this way in the original series, but we've seen examples already on this thread that predate The Next Generation.

However, that article is still a good reference on the meanings that might be nice to point out to sci-fi fans.

comment by AdShea · 2010-10-19T02:04:16.695Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're looking for the difference between Sentient and Sapient. The problem is that they are often conflated to make an awful mess of things.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-10-19T16:43:22.292Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Sapient means "wise". Most people are not sapient.

Curious why people voted this down. It is correct. Please comment. Note that people don't have a good feeling for what "sapient" means; it is preferred over "wise" only when people wish to be obscure. And using your species name as your criterion for having moral standing is rigging the game.

In any case, I am not looking for the difference between sentient and sapient. The Harry Potter chapter I'm responding to said -

"SNAKES ARE SENTIENT?"

comment by dclayh · 2010-10-08T03:34:09.580Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Ch. 49. The throwaway reference to Tenorman Family Chili is awesome.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-08T03:54:25.186Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed, vg vf na ncg & njrfbzr pnaavonyvfz ersrerapr. Rot13'd for those who haven't seen the awesome South Park episode that it's referencing. The full episode is available to watch here if you'd like to make up for that deficiency.

comment by Danylo · 2010-11-01T03:43:58.781Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Slight spoilers for those who haven't read chapter 55:

My god, Harry is infuriating. Why, after realizing that Quirrell might have set him up, after deciding to doubt everything Quirrell said about the plan (and needlessly dismissing his doubts), did he assume that there really is a magical psychologist to fix Mme.Black up?

Why, after deconstructing his predicament did he then fail to apply the same rationalism to its immediate effect? Ugh. If there's one scene that convinced me that he's under the Imperius curse, it's his thinking up ways of convincing the likely-fictional-Doctor of healing the likely-uncurable maniac.

These past 5 chapters have been as infuriating as thrilling. I hope Harry stops being human and once again becomes his hyper-rationalist self at some point in the near future.

P.S. Does anyone else find dramatic irony to be the most infuriating, anxiety-inducing literary tool known to man?

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-11-01T03:59:28.325Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

P.S. Does anyone else find dramatic irony to be the most infuriating, anxiety-inducing literary tool known to man?

No, I personally find it a close second to the comedy of errors (which I just plain cannot watch or read, I instinctively curl up in a fetal position or storm out of the room upon exposure - being unjustly blamed is my biggest rage button by far).

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-05T06:09:38.502Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The comedy of errors also makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, but I enjoy it anyway out of sheer masochism.

It must be played for laughs, however.

comment by PeerInfinity · 2010-11-02T19:38:30.753Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, I personally find it a close second to the comedy of errors (which I just plain cannot watch or read, I instinctively curl up in a fetal position or storm out of the room upon exposure - being unjustly blamed is my biggest rage button by far).

I have the same "problem". Though I could claim that it's a personality flaw in everyone else that allows them to enjoy watching the misfortune of others.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-25T22:23:36.967Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Edit: My inference that Quirrell is overwhelmingly vulnerable to Dementors seems to be incorrect, explanation here, although he is more vulnerable than usual. The importance of keeping Patronus 2.0 up derives from it being a blind spot for Dementors, allowing prisoners to escape. Enough time without Patronus 2.0 leads to impossibility of prison break.

Ch. 54. Since Quirrell was that unusually vulnerable to Dementors, he should've made the point of how important it is to keep the Patronus 2.0 up at all times and immediately restore it in case of failure, making that idea more available to Harry's mind. Not making that point explicitly was stupid.

(Quirrell should know that, since Auror's Patronus utterly failed to shield him from Azkaban's Dementors, which means that he must've felt the difference between level of protection from the Dementor offered by different Patronus variants at training session at Hogwarts, as well as the abnormal vulnerability to Dementors shielded by merely classical Patronus. The point of the training session now seems to be exactly the research on influence of Dementors on possessed Quirrell, with Harry's wand left near the Dementor possibly an experiment.)

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-26T17:21:13.463Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The point of the training session now seems to be exactly the research on influence of Dementors on possessed Quirrell, with Harry's wand left near the Dementor possibly an experiment.

brilliant.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-19T02:58:01.143Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

50.

Harry would be doing himself a favour to broaden his circle of friends. Hermione is an unreliable companion and even in the best of times it is terribly impractical to so limit your options. Even from a raw, practical, 'Slytherin' perspective why on earth would Harry be dreaming of claiming complete social dominance of the peer group when he hasn't even got a stable social network within it yet?

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-19T13:04:02.354Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Had he approached Padma in a friendly manner, putting himself on equal footing (instead of trying to teach and impress!), and then told her pretty much the same things he ghost-whispered, it would still have likely redeemed her, except he also would have gained a precious friend and possibly ally (and Hermione's respect). Interestingly, he would also have been following both Quirrell and Flitwick's advice in doing so.

But in any case: "Self-centredness", combined with its cousin Arrogance, is the main flaw that keeps Harry from being a Mary Sue, that keeps him making enough mistakes to allow the story to be unpredictable rather than Harry Steamrolls Everyone (steamroller stories are occasionally fun, but seldom for long). The time, if any, for him to solve that flaw should normally be the final part of the story arc.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-19T14:59:22.851Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

FYI: Version 1 of Ch. 50 had Harry approaching Padma directly... and having to be considerably more threatening in order to have a smaller impact on her, which is what got him in trouble with Hermione in the original version.

Version 2 won out over Version 1 because it was weirder, and therefore more awesome; and also because it got him into less trouble with Hermione - I didn't like having her be quite so clearly in the right in Version 1, i.e., so right that even Harry would notice. It had to end on a note of ambiguity from Harry's perspective.

The thing a reader suggested that I'm embarrassed not to have thought of as an option was that Harry should have gotten a teacher Padma respected to do it. But then Harry would not have thought of this over an even longer time period than I didn't. And it probably still wouldn't have worked as well as the ghost, on a purely individual level for Padma, simply because Mysterious Visitations are supposed to be Life-Changing Events and having a teacher talk to you isn't.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-19T14:02:58.865Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Had he approached Padma in a friendly manner, putting himself on equal footing (instead of trying to teach and impress!), and then told her pretty much the same things he ghost-whispered, it would still have likely redeemed her, except he also would have gained a precious friend and possibly ally (and Hermione's respect).

The may be ok advice and perhaps worth a shot. It may even work - in a fantasy story. But real people tend to have better (or, rather, stronger) social and psychological boundaries - it is actually hard to exact fundamental personal change from people just by approaching them in a friendly manner. And giving unsolicited brutally personal advice to people actually isn't a reliable way to gain friends.

Interestingly, he would also have been following both Quirrell and Flitwick's advice in doing so.

Not Quirrel's. Not like that. Quirrel's advice pertained to an entirely different sort of influence than what you and Flitwick suggest. With Quirrel's Slytherin-typical strategy you influence by controlling the political, reputational payoffs. Direct heart-to-hearts are completely opposed to the spirit of it.

I also suggest that "self-centredness" is not the relevant flaw of Harry's here. This is actually a situation where more self-centredness would have prevented the err (such as it was). Harry has blurry boundaries on just what he is optimising for. Is he optimising for his self, is he optimising for blades of sentient grass or is he optimising for what Hermione might call "her own business"? People don't tend to like it when you act to control things that they don't perceive to be 'yours' - even if, as in this case, it is a benefit to all concerned. A self-centred Harry would have made entirely different mistakes to boundariless-Harry.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-10-19T15:04:45.253Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

And giving unsolicited brutally personal advice to people actually isn't a reliable way to gain friends.

It is also -- outside fiction -- not a reliable way to get people to follow that advice.

Neither is offering friendly advice. Or, for that matter, advice of any sort, however delivered.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-19T13:29:15.986Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Had he approached Padma in a friendly manner, putting himself on equal footing (instead of trying to teach and impress!), and then told her pretty much the same things he ghost-whispered, it would still have likely redeemed her,

Personally, I disagree. When I imagine Harry approaching Padma with such a strategy, I see Padma reacting to his attempt to understand her with revulsion and self-justifying lies to minimize cognitive dissonance, thereby pushing her even further from being able to admit to herself the truth of what he says.

The ghost gambit works because, like an anonymous comment, she can't employ a cached thought like 'everything Harry says is evil and intended to manipulate me and false' and reject it out of hand, and she is rendered weak and uncertain in a way independent of Harry. Nor can she overrule her cognitive dissonance by focusing anger on Harry for manipulating her - because she has very strong evidence that it isn't Harry manipulating her.*

But perhaps I am too cynical.

* Yes, we know that Harry did it and that he obviously did it because of his invisibility cloak. But she doesn't know about the cloak, and given the enormous unlikelihood of Harry having such a cloak and a Time-turner, I don't think she is wrong to conclude it wasn't Harry.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-19T14:06:35.280Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ahh, I hadn't read this when I replied to the message in my inbox. But I absolutely agree.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-10-29T01:38:10.835Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Consider how, in 51-54, Harry decides to trust Quirrell. No one ought to trust Quirrell, at all. He has some agenda, which he does not let on to. Even if he did describe his complete agenda, you'd never be able to trust that he was telling the truth, because he's so rational and self-controlled that he would be equally able to tell you something almost the truth, except for certain modifications made to make your cooperation more likely.

And few people trust Harry; and with good reason.

The more rational someone is, the less you can trust them. The less rational someone is, the more you can trust them. You can trust a bigot to keep acting bigoted. You can trust a religious zealot to stay true to her faith. You can trust someone who votes the party line without thinking to keep voting the party line.

Whereas, a religious zealot who actually thinks about her religious principles is much less reliable. The Jesuits are a perfect example of this - religious, but prone to thinking about their religion, and thus a neverending source of heresy and controversy within the Church. A politician who actually thinks about the issues might break with his party, or vote differently than the people who elected him expected.

How much does society rely on our irrationality, on our inability to change our minds or avoid signalling our true intent, and our inability to avoid following through on our emotional commitments (revenge, punishment, reward, nepotism)? What's the social cost of rationality? Is it reasonable to think that people have evolved to be less-than-optimally rational?

comment by shokwave · 2010-10-29T06:03:09.111Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The more rational someone is, the less you can trust them. The less rational someone is, the more you can trust them.

I think in this post when you say 'trust' you really mean 'predict'. A trivial counterexample: the more rational someone is, the more I can trust them to be free of errors in their reasoning. And it IS easier to predict a religious zealot staying religious, or predict that a bigot will remain bigoted, than it is to predict a rational agent attempting to maximize their utility (especially if you're an obstacle to their utility).

Is it reasonable to think that people have evolved to be less-than-optimally rational?

Well, yes, if there was some shortcut that gave the mostly-optimal answer, or gave the optimal answer most of the time, and gave it in a significantly faster time than optimal rationality. The common example is, I think, reacting to the presence of a lion. Abject, heart-pounding, run-for-your-life terror is not optimally rational (it generally precludes climbing a tree) but it gives a mostly-optimal answer in a much shorter time than attempting to reason out the optimal course of action.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-29T13:12:06.964Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This gets to one of the Hard Problems, both for FAI and a great deal of life. How can you tell who can be trusted to do a good job of taking your interests into account?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-10-29T21:05:54.617Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

But what if our irrationalities aren't quick-and-dirty heuristics optimized for speed? What known cognitive biases are even applicable to running away from a lion?

What if some of our cognitive biases are evolved adaptations that make human society work better? It would be pretty surprising to me if this weren't the case!

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-29T21:28:50.362Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Just because they are evolved, doesn't mean they are optimal. An evolved adaptation can be just as "dirty" as a fast cognitive heuristic; the architectural constraints of learning through genes can be just as constraining as those of coming up with something to do fast.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-29T21:56:29.626Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, and let me add to that, just because something was adaptive when humans evolved doesn't mean it is at all adaptive now. To use a concrete example, the weight humans put on anecdotes is likely connected to the fact that in our ancestral environment, that was the primary source of data about what the risks around us were. However, now this leads to silly things like people being terribly scared of shark attacks precisely due to the rarity of such attacks making them get a lot of news coverage.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-10-31T01:44:57.572Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've put forward a hypothetical, not claimed a proof. What's the point of responding, "But that isn't necessarily the case"?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-31T05:29:25.264Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You know, you're right. I was responding to peripheral aspects of your proposal rather than central ones, which is a waste of everyone's time. My apologies.

So, OK... rolling back: if I'm understanding you, you're hypothesizing that our biases are not design flaws, but rather adaptations to obtain the group-level benefit of having individuals be more irrational and therefore predictable.

(Is that right? I'm trying to infer a positive claim out of a series of questions, which is always tricky; if I've misunderstood your hypothetical it might be helpful to restate it more explicitly.)

Perhaps irrationality does provide a group-level benefit, as you suggest. For example, maybe it's easier to get valuable group behaviors by manipulating irrational people than by cooperating with rational ones. That doesn't strike me as too plausible, but it's possible.

Even granting that, though, I have trouble with the idea that the benefit to individual breeders exceeds the costs to the individual of being more easily manipulated by others.

comment by shokwave · 2010-10-30T03:31:54.857Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, not evolved adaptations, but how about culturally/socially imprinted cognitive biases? Something about

What if some of our cognitive biases are evolved adaptations that make human society work better?

clicks with Nancy's comment here.

The more I thought about it ... it seemed like rational agents couldn't trust anyone (the best course is to convince them to trust you and then betray them while never trusting anyone yourself) except in the early and middle stages of iterated games. But a society where everyone irrationally trusted everyone else, and irrationally nobody betrayed anyone else, would be more successful than the 'rational agent' community. (all things being equal; if their irrational trust also caused them to irrationally trust lions...) It might stretch the word evolution too much, but I think the term "competitive selection" applies to this process of societies competing with each other for growth and the most effective societies wiping out the less effective societies (wiping out or completely integrating, as the lesser society's land and resources would already be purposed towards supporting a society, and therefore more desirable than land requiring work).

Basically, what if 'trust' is because a society where everyone trusts the other guy to cooperate in a PD was successful enough to dominate the landscape?

NB: Originally I had thought of trust as a sort of greenbearding. Is there an analogous concept in sociocultural evolution?

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-30T03:54:05.968Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A population or society in which everyone trusts completely is not an ESS. A population or society in which everyone adopts the slogan "trust, but verify" and cooperates in the punishment of defectors and non-punishing freeriders probably is an ESS, assuming the cost of verification and punishment are low and verification is reasonably effective.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-30T12:10:43.680Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

it seemed like rational agents couldn't trust anyone (the best course is to convince them to trust you and then betray them while never trusting anyone yourself) except in the early and middle stages of iterated games.

In the real world, the iteration never completely ends.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-29T22:27:29.203Z · score: 0 (20 votes) · LW · GW

evolved adaptations that make human society work better

ERROR: POSTULATION OF GROUP SELECTION IN MAMMALS DETECTED

comment by timtyler · 2010-10-31T08:41:24.768Z · score: 6 (20 votes) · LW · GW

evolved adaptations that make human society work better

ERROR: POSTULATION OF GROUP SELECTION IN MAMMALS DETECTED

Speech seems like an evolved adaptation that makes human society work better.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-02T01:50:11.526Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why are people voting Tim's comment down so hard? Are there actually three people out there, let alone a majority of LWers, who do not believe it is correct?

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2010-11-02T07:29:04.460Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I was just thinking how there's a weird hivemind thing going on with the downvotes. Well-written and cordial posts arguing against the site's preferred positions are being summarily downvoted to invisibility.

This doesn't look like a very healthy discussion dynamic.

comment by shokwave · 2010-11-02T08:30:49.233Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I have been using the Kibitzer since I started posting, and my handle on this matter is that well-written, cordial posts that don't use LW techniques are downvoted. That is, they argue against the preferred position, and they are downvoted because they argue badly. Small corroborations: the posts that get summarily upvoted are ones that point out lack-of-rationality in the arguments, upvotes on topics when they aren't flawed.

If that seems like an unhealthy discussion dynamic then you should review the LW techniques for rationality and make a top level post explaining how using these techniques, or how requiring everyone to use these techniques, could result in unhealthy discussions.

Possibility: Well-written, cordial posts are your criteria for upvotes because cordiality and well-writtenness usually correlate with clear thinking and good reasoning. This is true over most of the blog, except for the edge cases. These cases have their roots in subtle cognitive biases, not gross emotional biases, and it's possible that lack of writing skill and cordiality points out gross emotional biases but not subtler ones.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2010-11-02T09:27:47.066Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think I feel the problem is more a mismatch between the subtlety of the problem and the bluntness of the tool. Downvotes are a harsh and low-signal way of pointing problems in arguments, and seem more suited to punishing comments which can be identified as crap at a glance. Since this site isn't doing the free-for-all comedy club thing Slashdot and Reddit have going, I'm not sure that the downvote mechanic quite belongs here to begin with. Users posting downright nonsense and noise don't even belong on the site, and bad arguments can be ignored or addressed instead of just anonymously downvoting them.

And yes, this probably should go to a toplevel post, but I don't have the energy for that scale of meta-discussion right now.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-02T09:49:03.563Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Users posting downright nonsense and noise don't even belong on the site, and bad arguments can be ignored or addressed instead of just anonymously downvoting them.

Downvoting mechanism is one way of making sure that obvious nonsense-posting gets visibly and quickly discouraged. Without it, there would be more nonsense.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T04:29:45.331Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that's actually true. There are very few nonsense posts (or at least, very few that get voted down); and when there are, downvoting doesn't always discourage the poster. When I see a post with a negative score, it's more often one that is controversial, or that disagrees with LessWrong dogma, or that was made by someone unpopular here, or that is in the middle of a flamewar between two users, or that is part of a longer conversation where one poster has triggered an "omega wolf" reaction from the rest of the pack by acting conciliatory.

comment by Emile · 2010-11-02T09:55:08.580Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoting wrong comments may be harsh for the person being downvoted, but hopefully in the long run it can encourage better comments, or at least make it easier to find good comments.

There may be some flaws in the karma system or the way it's used by the community, but I don't see any obvious improvements, or any other systems that would obviously work better.

Look at mwaser: he complains a lot about being downvoted, but he also got a lot of feedback for what people found lacking in his post. Yes, a portion of the downvotes he gets may be due to factors unrelated to the quality of his arguments (he repeatedly promotes his own blog, and complains about the downvotes being a proof of community irrationality - both can get under people's skin), which is a bit unfortunate, but not a fatal flaw of the karma system.

comment by mwaser · 2010-11-02T10:57:31.404Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've never made the claim that the downvotes are "proof" of community irrationality. In fact, given what I believe to be the community's goals, I see them as entirely rational.

I have claimed that certain upvotes are irrational (i.e. those without any substance). The consensus reply seems to be that they still fulfill a purpose/goal for a large percentage of the regulars here. By definition, that makes those upvotes rational (yes, I AM reversing my stand on that issue because I have been "educated" on what the community's goals apparently are)..

I am very appreciative of the replies that have substance. I am currently of the opinion, however, that the karma system actually reduces the amount of replies since it allows someone to be easily and anonymously dismissed without good arguments/cause.

comment by Emile · 2010-11-02T13:21:44.939Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

By curiosity, what do you consider to be the community's goals?

I am currently of the opinion, however, that the karma system actually reduces the amount of replies since it allows someone to be easily and anonymously dismissed without good arguments/cause.

1) In itself, reducing the amount of replies is a feature, not a bug; I expect most readers would prefer few comments of high quality than many comments of varying quality.

2) the only instances of 'someone being dismissed without good arguments/cause" have been obvious spam and cranks. I don't think it's a fair description of the reaction to your comments, however; you've had plenty of detailed criticism.

comment by mwaser · 2010-11-02T20:59:37.517Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The stated goal of the community is to refine the art of human rationality. Unfortunately, rationality is an instrumental goal dependent upon the next-level-up or terminal goal. Most people, including me (initially, at least), assume that the next goal up is logical argumentation or discovery of how to reason better.

Most of the practices here are rational in terms of a specific individual's goals (mostly in terms of maintaining beliefs) but are strictly contrary to good argumentation techniques. The number of ridiculous strawmen, arguments by authority, arguments by pointing to something long and rambling that has nothing to do with the initial argument, etc. is nothing short of overwhelming.

So the next goal up clearly isn't rational argumentation. Assuming that it was was the mistake that I made in the post Irrational Upvotes (and why I subsequently retracted my stand that they were irrational). They are rational in relation to another goal. My error was in my assumption of the goal.

One of Eliezer's main points is learning how to learn where you go wrong. This community is far worse at that than most I've seen. Y'all know how to argue/debate "logically" much better -- but it's normally to the purpose of retaining your views, not discovering where you might have gone wrong or where you might do better.

(I'll cover 1 and 2 in subsequent comments -- thanks for a high-quality response)

comment by shokwave · 2010-11-03T07:33:54.624Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

the number of ridiculous strawmen, arguments by authority, arguments by pointing to something long and rambling that has nothing to do with the initial argument, etc. is nothing short of overwhelming.

Some things to consider on these points (mostly because I have not noticed a prevalence of these issues)

  • Strawmen. If, at point X, Y looks like a strawman of a position, then at point Y, X will look like a strawman. I think. If that's the case, it could be that many of us are at point X (LW rationality techniques, etc) and you are at point Y - making valid, credible arguments that we are countering with strawmen, as it were.
  • Arguments by authority. A hallmark of LessWrong is linking back to the sequences or to other posts; this could very easily look like we are saying "Eliezer said that's not the case". We aren't; he just produced a very good explanation of why it isn't the case, and it's easier to link to that explanation rather than fumble through our own duplication. Another point is that the average LWer is far more capable of deferring to people they know to be often correct - their judgement as a Bayesian reasoner is itself evidence. This looks even more like argument from authority, but there are subtle differences.
  • Links to long, rambling segues that aren't related. They are related, mostly. A combination of decompartmentalised thinking, skill with readily drawing analogies, and skill with (very) long inferential distances can produce relationships that seem bizarre or unlikely.

Lastly, this comment:

it's normally to the purpose of retaining your views, not discovering where you might have gone wrong or where you might do better.

is definitely a concern for ALL LWers. I suspect you have stumbled onto a case analogous to theism: it is not the case that we wish to retain our atheism and therefore we argue to keep that view - we really, truly, have considered all the evidence and all the arguments, and we reject it on those grounds.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T21:25:49.836Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Has it got to the point where replying to this would be a violation of the 'Do not feed the trolls' convention? I had written a brief response but realize it may be better to ignore instead. But I will defer to the judgement of others here... if there are people who are still taking mwaser seriously then I will engage as appropriate.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T04:21:07.058Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Has it got to the point where replying to this would be a violation of the 'Do not feed the trolls' convention?

mwaser does not sound trollish here to me:

This community is far worse at that than most I've seen. Y'all know how to argue/debate "logically" much better -- but it's normally to the purpose of retaining your views, not discovering where you might have gone wrong or where you might do better.

There are users whom I think this describes well, including a few very active and usually-correct ones.

comment by JGWeissman · 2010-11-02T21:31:06.397Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Has it got to the point where replying to this would be a violation of the 'Do not feed the trolls' convention?

Not exactly, but I would support a "Do not feed the crackpots" convention.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T21:39:04.056Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. An important distinction. Trolling is entirely different in nature (and much more normatively objectionable). Although one way to create trolls is to feed the crackpots after midnight.

comment by mwaser · 2010-11-02T21:17:04.436Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW
  1. Yes, reducing the total amount of replies is a feature. Reducing the amount of good replies (and/or the diversity of replies) is a bug. Making it easy to make a mistake is a major bug. Too many people don't bother to understand a post before they upvote or downvote it -- they go with their initial prejudices. To form a coherent reply requires reading and understanding a post -- assuming, of course, it is a post with substance (which is why I "complain" about substanceless posts).

  2. Look at my most recent post here. It's down to -5 and has exactly one pretty useless comment. I have gotten some really good criticism. I've also had posts where the only comments are endless repetitions of "he is obviously making this assumption" -- regardless of how many times I say, "No, I don't believe that. I am deriving my point from this other direction." (Though, I must also admit that some of my original replies were not that clear, courteous, or cool-headed ;-)

comment by timtyler · 2010-11-03T07:12:34.147Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems as though you don't like karma systems. But surely they do much more good than bad. Poor karma has precious few consequences around here. Maybe there should be more - like throttling comments.

comment by shokwave · 2010-11-03T07:36:20.685Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted, because a comment suggesting "throttling comments" is exactly the kind of comment I would like to throttle. :P

comment by mwaser · 2010-11-02T11:29:07.598Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Lest people think that I'm mellowing out, I will continue to argue that upvotes are unwise (shortsightedly "rationally" fulfilling one goal while overlooking a number of the voter's own goals -- not to mention being rather unsocial/discouraging particularly when perceived as piling onto mindless/substanceless arguments).

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2010-11-02T10:24:27.061Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Look at mwaser: he complains a lot about being downvoted, but he also got a lot of feedback for what people found lacking in his post. Yes, a portion of the downvotes he gets may be due to factors unrelated to the quality of his arguments (he repeatedly promotes his own blog, and complains about the downvotes being a proof of community irrationality - both can get under people's skin), which is a bit unfortunate, but not a fatal flaw of the karma system.

I did. The feedback that actually told him something came as replies. I'm not seeing how the use of downvotes actually helped there, and it did seem to add unnecessary nastiness to the exchange.

comment by Emile · 2010-11-02T13:14:34.209Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree it's a bit harsh, and not always useful. It's a bit of a pity that the karma system doesn't allow to make a difference between "5 people found this post not-that-great" and "5 people found this post absolutely terrible".

Maybe it would be nice to have a system that would allow for more nuance, but it would also have to be easy enough to understand and use, and not be easy to game.

Also, I would say that the downvotes did have some utility, by expressing "you should pay more attention to criticism, most people here disagree with you".

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T13:42:55.404Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it would be nice to have a system that would allow for more nuance, but it would also have to be easy enough to understand and use, and not be easy to game.

For example, make 'terrible' votes cost karma.

comment by XiXiDu · 2010-11-03T11:48:47.997Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What about the ability to mark a comment as obsolete if you changed your mind? It will then be under the fold but people won't be able to downvote it anymore. Or should people who changed their mind be punished infinitely? I noticed that I often delete comments that get downvoted if I changed my mind, e.g. understood where I was wrong, because they keep getting downvoted long after the discussion ended. By deleting it I destroy the context and consistency of the discussion. But I also do not want to be downvoted anymore for something I don't believe and I want to signal that I changed my mind.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-11-03T12:18:15.361Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What about the ability to mark a comment as obsolete if you changed your mind?

If you change your mind, just edit the comment to say so.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-03T12:29:20.683Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Preferably by adding that statement, without changing the original comment, so that existing discussion doesn't break.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-03T14:56:26.032Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

People here tend to reward humility vigorously. (Humility including the strong non-submissive kind that doesn't base the ego on attachment to being right, not just signals of lower status.)

As Richard suggests editing your comment, leaving the original while adding a retraction is a good idea (and somewhat of a convention). You can make it bold by using two asterices on both sides.

It is also worth adding a reply later on in the discussion explaining your new position and why you changed it. Unless I confuse you with someone else (quite possible) I think I recall you once before changing your mind and acknowleding it publicly. By reading that I gained a lot of respect for your judgement (or that of whoever else it was if I mistake your identity).

comment by Emile · 2010-11-02T13:52:34.234Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not a bad idea; having all votes public may also be an improvement.

Still, I suspect that whatever the system, there would be someone to argue that it sucks, which isnt't an excuse to not improve it, but a reason to be cautious.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-02T14:25:29.324Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

having all votes public may also be an improvement.

The purpose of implementing voting, as opposed to (for example) soliciting critical/praising comments, is to get more information about people's attitude towards individual comments, by lifting reasons not to signal (and thus lock the community focus better, protecting it from watering down). Commenting would be less frequent because (1) it's more difficult to comment; (2) if you have little to say, or what you'd say has already been said, you don't want to create more noise.

Requiring that votes are made public will discourage some of the voters from signaling their attitude, or otherwise distort the signal for image purposes. I'm not even sure whether voluntary public voting is a good idea, because of the image-driven distortion effect, but since it's presumably no worse than with commenting, it might not be that bad.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T14:08:02.571Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not a bad idea; having all votes public may also be an improvement.

I will oppose that option for as long as I have breath. If it is implemented then I recommend to all participants that they find a way to game that system so as to minimize the damage.

(I'll not repeat the reasons here but I have mentioned them previously.)

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2010-11-02T14:04:40.284Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Metafilter has a pretty simple system. Users can favorite posts and comments. The favorite count and the names of the favoriters are public. There are no corresponding unfavorites. Instead, the users may silently flag the post, indicating that it seems to be bad enough that a moderator should probably take a look. The moderators clean up crap comments manually, guided by the flags.

comment by XiXiDu · 2010-11-02T14:01:24.469Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't read the above thread. But here's an idea I had about the Karma system: If you want to downvote someone you're asked to provide a reply explaining why you downvoted the comment. If you downvote 5 times without explaining yourself you'll lose 1 Karma point.

It always really bothers me if I get downvoted without getting feedback because without feedback I'm unable to improve, refine my writing skills or rationality. What's the point then? Merely losing Karma score will led people to conclude (unjustified) that they are downvoted for various reasons but not that they may be wrong or that their comment simply does not add anything valuable to the debate. Negative Karma without feedback causes resentment in all people except those who already acquired enough rationality skills and realization to infer that there might be something wrong with their comment and not with the person downvoting it. The Karma system as it is will therefore discourage newcomers and make them conclude that LW is merely an echo-chamber and does not tolerate their precious critique.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-02T14:50:53.143Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It always really bothers me if I get downvoted without getting feedback. ... The Karma system as it is will therefore discourage newcomers and make them conclude that LW is merely an echo-chamber and does not tolerate their precious critique.

I felt the same way when I first started posting here. Particularly when I was challenging the local conventional wisdom. But now I realize that anonymous unexplained downvotes are a form of feedback, and a particularly valuable form of feedback to someone prepared to take advantage of it.

Because feedback in the form of comments simply provokes an automatic verbal response from you. You learn nothing from the experience. You just get some practice at constructing rationalizations. But feedback in the form of anonymous downvotes forces you to stop and reflect: Just what does this mean? What do I need to change so as to prevent this? What experiments should I undertake?"

ETA:

Negative Karma without feedback causes resentment in all people except those who already acquired enough rationality skills and realization to infer that there might be something wrong with their comment and not with the person downvoting it. The Karma system as it is will therefore discourage newcomers ...

A good point. So for LW regulars, it may be worth remembering that it is more informative to upvote explicit criticism of newbie mistakes than to downvote the mistakes themselves.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T15:14:30.716Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So for LW regulars, it may be worth remembering that it is more informative to upvote explicit criticism of newbie mistakes than to downvote the mistakes themselves.

A good suggestion. I expect whether I follow it or not will depend on how arrogant the newbie is. Unless, of course the explicit criticism is 'you are being arrogant and annoying. We are more fussy about that sort of thing here than in many other places on the internet'. Then I suppose the same principle would apply. :)

comment by XiXiDu · 2010-11-02T15:00:09.675Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But now I realize that anonymous unexplained downvotes are a form of feedback, and a particularly valuable form of feedback to someone prepared to take advantage of it.

But if you were posting a comment about cooking wouldn't you weigh the Karma of a chef differently than that of someone who has merely joint your culinary community to read up on some recipe?

But feedback in the form of anonymous downvotes forces you to stop and reflect: Just what does this mean? What do I need to change so as to prevent this? What experiments should I undertake?"

I don't expect most of all people to conclude this naturally. I believe there is some evidence for this, as for example this Wiki entry states:

It's unclear whether Descartes, Spinoza or Leibniz would have lasted a day without being voted down into oblivion.

And that is actually from a 'Rationality Wiki', so what might John Doe conclude?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T15:40:47.033Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It's unclear whether Descartes, Spinoza or Leibniz would have lasted a day without being voted down into oblivion.

I loved that line. It was put in there among 'the ugly' but I consider it one of the best features of lesswrong. Just because they talk about some guy in high school doesn't mean their thinking is any good! Eat downvote burn until your thinking gets up to scratch Descartes. Read the damn sequences!

(I wonder if Descartes would end up getting into arguments with Mitchell... "I thought I was me, I still think I'm me, therefore I am still me!")

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-02T15:27:27.435Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But if you were posting a comment about cooking wouldn't you weigh the Karma of a chef differently than that of someone who has merely joint your culinary community to read up on some recipe?

My experience with comments has been that it is wisest to ignore the reputation of the source and simply focus on the words. (One exception: interpreting irony).

So I doubt that knowing the source of up- and down- votes would be particularly useful either. If I know that a great chef has downvoted my chili recipe, I still don't know whether it is because he doesn't like my spelling, doesn't like my ingredients, or simply doesn't care for chili.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-11-02T15:40:03.353Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If a chef downvotes your chili recipe, it could be because he doesn't like your spelling, your ingredients, or chili.

If a random person downvotes your chili recipe, it could also be because she doesn't like your spelling, your ingredients, or chili.

The first downvote is still more informative even given any particular reason for downvoting, because the chef is more likely than a random person to know how to spell "roux", cook a perfect pot of pinto beans, or have good reasons to dislike chili as a class of food (e.g. "tried seven versions, don't like any" v. "had it when I was a kid and didn't like it").

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T14:25:22.613Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I personally believe I am usually better off not knowing who downvoted me. Quite often (although not always) when people downvote my comments I hold their judgement in contempt. This includes those comments that receive initial downvotes but rebound to become significantly positive once the better (and less impassioned) judgement of the broader community sets in.

If the comments justifying their downvote disgust me then I just end up losing respect for the individual. Since it isn't all that much of a benefit to me to know who has objectionable judgement in such matters and it is far more pleasant to converse with people I respect I prefer to not know.

(Oh, and if I had to comment every time I downvoted things would get downright spammy!)

Negative Karma without feedback causes resentment in all people except those who already acquired enough rationality skills and realization to infer that there might be something wrong with their comment and not with the person downvoting it. The Karma system as it is will therefore discourage newcomers and make them conclude that LW is merely an echo-chamber and does not tolerate their precious critique.

This is a very good point. I upvoted your comment for this point even though I don't believe your suggestion would work well as a general practice. I agree that there are times when explanations are beneficial and in the case of new users this is definitely something to remember.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T14:46:37.581Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Example - while I was writing this my previous comment went to -1. This is not a big deal at all and nor is it particularly surprising. But all the same I am glad I don't know who the culprit was ('culprit' framing intended to convey perspective) and have no difficulty at all in inferring either what their actual motivations likely are or what reasons they would actually express.

The mere fact of a downvote is of some use to me in as much as it informs me that it is a topic on which it will be beneficial to me to replace personal sincerity with political optimisation. ie. Use the kind of language that makes critics look bad for criticizing (instead of casually leaving a wide open target). Present whatever statements are most likely to achieve a desired outcome rather than just saying what I believe.

I don't think anyone would benefit if someone went and justified their voting decision and I would be surprised if I found it much more informative than the integer representation.

EDIT: While I was writing this comment the '-1' in question changed to '+2'. That did surprise me!

comment by XiXiDu · 2010-11-02T14:42:49.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm aware that you do not support making votes public, so forcing people to comment is something you don't support either. I haven't read up on your reasons yet. But consider that as any community grows more popular the number of people that do not indentify with its motto will grow too. This might ultimately result in a reputation system that does not reflect the base and therefore the intended standards of the community, in this case the refinement of rationality. More so if the number of people previously equipped with the sufficient skills required in any given community is very low. And for those reasons I believe that making votes public gives people a chance to spot unreasonable votes based on differing matters of taste or bias.

Any resentment is better directed at certain individuals, as you are able to inquire about their reasons, than the community as a whole, as people will rather just leave.

comment by Emile · 2010-11-02T15:06:57.121Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The biggest downside I see to public voting would be the emergence of a pattern of reciprocity - both "you downvoted my post, so I'll downvote yours" and "you upvoted my post, so I'll upvote yours".

Any resentment is better directed at certain individuals, as you are able to inquire about their reasons, than the community as a whole, as people will rather just leave.

I don't think so -- 10 downvotes from one single individual is much harder to forget than 10 downvotes from the community in general. 100 downvotes from the community in general might make you want to leave, but 100 downvotes from a single guy might have the same effect too (and you'll start hating him way before that).

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T15:06:52.345Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm aware that you do not support making votes public, so forcing people to comment is something you don't support either.

I suppose it does at that. Although I note that I wouldn't like explanations to be forced even if comments are public. The main reason is that it makes things more personal and emphasizes disagreement. I also anticipate that I will quite often not believe the explanation! People's justifications for their opinions and particularly their social judgments are generated by a different mechanism to what gives them that opinion. The question "is that their excuse or their real reason?" will always apply and quite often warrant the answer 'excuse'.

This might ultimately result in a reputation system that does not reflect the base and therefore the intended standards of the community, in this case the refinement of rationality.

But consider that as any community grows more popular the number of people that do not indentify with its motto will grow too.

What do you suggest I do to discourage this? ;)

(I note that it is also likely true that the number of people who agree with me may increase too, particularly if it is a position I expect people to appreciate more as they gain a more sophisticated grasp of lesswrong social dynamics.)

More so if the number of people previously equipped with the sufficient skills required in any given community is very low.

Errr.... that seems to suggest that-which-is-lesswrong has already been lost!

And for those reasons I believe that making votes public gives people a chance to spot unreasonable votes based on differing matters of taste or bias.

Err... that isn't 'for those reasons' so much as it is an independent point. But it is a good point and something that would be the most prominent advantage to sacrificing anonymity. For related reasons some forums make the karma impact of votes dependent on the karma of the voter (stepped approximately logarithmically proportional).

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-02T15:00:33.853Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A possible alternative is to have only manually approved voters (like moderators, but more numerous), with other things staying the same. Requiring commenting is not a good option.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-02T15:45:49.661Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Slightly OT, but it might be wise to have some sort of automatic limit on voting too often just after acquiring an account here. If LW should happen to attract the negative attention of Pharyngula, or the chan hordes, or the Conservapedia crowd, or yaoi fangirls, or tea partiers, or some other populous constituency, they could vote each other up in karma and then be pretty disruptive.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T15:10:05.085Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A possible alternative is to have only manually approved voters (like moderators, but more numerous), with other things staying the same.

I suspect I'm not the only one who would be instinctively averse to that. :)

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-02T15:26:01.121Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's mostly a community reanimation measure. If quality of voting merely starts to deteriorate, a moderate karma cutoff that enables voting might do the trick.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T15:42:25.035Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That would be worth a shot at least.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T04:24:43.415Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to see total upvotes and downvotes, not just the sum.

I thought for a minute that votes made using the kibitzer could count for more. But this would be a feature that would favor dishonest users (who could game it) over honest users.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-11-02T18:16:55.023Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A notion for a slightly more informative karma system. Each person can apply 1, 2, or 3 karma points (plus or minus).

Instead of just giving the number of points, the slot after the date has total points, number of plus points, number of minus points, and number of voters.

I realize there's a little redundancy, but I think that would be alright to make it more convenient for anyone who doesn't want to be constantly doing routine arithmetic.

The idea would probably be a little graph showing point accumulation over time, but that seems like too much added work for the site.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T04:13:23.873Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The kibitzer does nothing to protect people from groupthink.

comment by shokwave · 2010-11-03T04:38:10.187Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What exactly do you mean by groupthink? Let's taboo the word a bit:

  • All members of group agree (same answer)
  • All members of group have same/similar thought process (same process to answer)
  • Answers or processes are flawed (this could just be a common mistake)
  • Flaws are not corrected because group consensus is more important (this is the bit that distinguishes groupthink from a common mistake, it perpetuates)

Those last two are important parts of groupthink. Without that last one, mathematicians are guilty of groupthink, because they all apply the same (somtimes flawed) processes and get the same answers. Maths isn't groupthink because attempts are made to discover and fix flaws, and these attempts aren't ignored out of hand.

The kibitzer blocks out names and karma scores; so you can't tell what the group consensus is (either by the person's name; "the community thinks this guy is a troll" or by vote; "-5? this post must be bad"). I follow the same process as everyone else in evaluating a comment, but I don't know if I've gotten the same answer as them. In practice, when I've checked, I do get the same answer, so it satisfies the first two conditions. But is the process flawed? And is meeting the group's consensus more important than fixing these flaws?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T08:13:00.061Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well-written and cordial posts arguing against the site's preferred positions are being summarily downvoted to invisibility.

I haven't seen any recent examples of this recently (since the last times cryonics evangelism was considered, of course.) I suspect that instead you do not recognise the kinds of error in reasoning that have been detected and responded to.

comment by MartinB · 2010-11-02T07:56:59.658Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That would be a systemic problem that deserves its own top level post.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-02T13:52:36.216Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Speech, sexual selection rituals, sex itself, cooperation in the social insects ... There are many things which seem to require a more complex and subtle narrative for their explanation than the usual simple Darwinian story of a mutant individual doing better than his conspecific competitors and then passing on his genes.

But that doesn't mean that a died-in-the-wool neo-Darwinian needs to accept the group-selection explanation any more than an Ayn Rand fan confronted with a skyscraper has to admit that Kropotkin was right after all.

However, I am taking your implicit advise and dutifully upvoting Tim's comment.

comment by timtyler · 2010-11-03T07:21:14.970Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't suggesting that speech evolved via group selection - just that it evidently did evolve - and so proposing the existence of "evolved adaptations that make human society work better" is not an error.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T04:02:03.380Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Tim's comment doesn't say that speech evolved via group selection. It could be that it did not; in that case, Tim's comment would be pointing out that Eliezer was unjustified in calling out a belief in "evolved adaptations that make human society work better" as an error.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T08:06:03.066Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why are people voting Tim's comment down so hard?

I have seen people observe that they tend to be inclined to downvote tim readily, having long since abandoned giving him the benefit of the doubt. (This is not my position.)

Are there actually three people out there, let alone a majority of LWers, who do not believe it is correct?

Absolutely - when considering what it means in multiple level context which Tim explicitly quoted he is wrong on a group-selection-caps level of wrongness. (I was not someone who voted but I just added mine.)

I thought your (PhilGoetz) post on group selection was a good one, particularly with the different kinds of (subscripted) group selection that you mentioned and mentions of things like ants. But now that I see what prompted the post and what position you were trying to support I infer that you actually are confused about group selection, not merely presenting a more nuanced understanding.

ERROR: POSTULATION OF GROUP SELECTION IN MAMMALS DETECTED

... is spot on.

comment by timtyler · 2010-11-02T09:03:25.219Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It surely is an unsympatthetic reading to conclude from: "What if some of our cognitive biases are evolved adaptations that make human society work better?" - that those adaptations did not also benefit social human individuals, and may have evolved for that purpose.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T11:03:58.341Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You may note that I took care to emphasize that my reply was to what you were conveying in the context. Phil's comment does postulate group selection. While as a standalone sentence your comment is literally correct I downvoted it because it constitutes either a misunderstanding of the conversation or a flawed argument for an incorrect position.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T04:12:15.797Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What is the incorrect position? If you say "that group selection is possible", please state your reasons for being so certain about it.

In any case, my comment does not postulate group selection. It wasn't even on my mind when I wrote it.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-03T15:11:19.666Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you say "that group selection is possible",

I do not. That would be a bizarre position to take (or assume, for that matter). I elsewhere indicated my appreciation for your post on the subject, with particular emphasis on an example you gave where group selection does apply. My support does not extend to the position your comment here conveys and I instead (obviously) repeat Eliezer's objection.

(Equally obviously there is nothing to be gained by continuing this conversation. It is based on nothing more than what meaning some unimportant comments convey and whether or not people have cause to accede to your demand (implied request?) to up-vote Tim.)

comment by timtyler · 2010-11-03T07:18:18.646Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for clarifying that. Not just an unsympathetic interpretation, an innacurate one.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T04:05:46.118Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You are reading in too much context. You only have to look at the portion reproduced in Tim's comment. Eliezer asserted that there is no such thing as evolved adaptations that make human society work better. Tim provided an example, proving Eliezer wrong.

If you think I'm confused, try to say why. So far, no one has presented any evidence that I am "confused" about anything in the group selection post. There is some disagreement about definitions; but that is not confusion.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-03T04:53:09.039Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer asserted that there is no such thing as evolved adaptations that make human society work better.

Close, but not exactly correct. My interpretation of what Eliezer EMOTED is that there are no adaptations which evolved because they make human society work better. That would be group selection by Eliezer's definition. Eliezer might well accept the existence of adaptations which evolved because they make humans work better and that incidentally also make society work better.

ETA. Ok, it appears that a literal reading of what EY wrote supports your interpretation. But I claim my interpretation matches what he meant to say. That is, he was objecting to what he thought you meant to say. Oh, hell. Why did I even decide to get involved in this mess?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-03T15:04:49.854Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Close, but not exactly correct. My interpretation of what Eliezer EMOTED is that there are no adaptations which evolved because they make human society work better. That would be group selection by Eliezer's definition. Eliezer might well accept the existence of adaptations which evolved because they make humans work better and that incidentally also make society work better.

I believe this to be correct representation of Eliezer's meaning and that meaning to be be an astute response to the parent.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T17:11:34.482Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Even though I wrote the parent, and already told you that's not what I meant?

Claiming that the parent invoked group selection means claiming that human societies can't evolve adaptations that make society work better except via group selection. Claiming that the parent should thus be criticized means claiming both that, and that group selection is not a viable hypothesis. Tim provided a counter example to the first claim; my later post on group selection provided a counterexample to the second.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-04T20:45:02.981Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, I agree that a careful reading of your comment suggests the possibility that group selection was not in your mind and therefore that EY jumped to a conclusion. I believe your claim now that group selection was not on your mind. But, I have to say, it certainly appeared to me at first that your point was group-selectionist. I almost responded along those lines even before EY jumped in with both feet.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-04T16:51:29.457Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do not agree. In particular I don't accept your premises.

It is not necessary for you to persuade me because this conversation is not important. I observe that the likelyhood that either of us succeeding in persuading the other of anything here is beyond negligible.

comment by mwaser · 2010-11-04T17:00:49.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Using "because" on evolution is tricky -- particularly when co-evolution is involved --and society and humans are definitely co-evolving. Which evolved first -- the chicken or the chicken egg (i.e. dinosaur-egg-type arguments explicitly excluded).

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-10-31T01:42:50.923Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Error: Most of human history is a recounting of group selection in humans. Every time one group of people displaces another group by virtue of superior technology or social organization, that's group selection.

Having a belief in, or at least openness to, group selection, is one of my rationality tests.

In related news, this weeks Science has the clearest demonstration of group selection that I've seen: The ability to self-pollinate in plants gives individuals a great reproductive advantage; but also increases the likelihood of the entire species going extinct. The presence of a feature (self-pollination) that provides an advantage to the individual, provides a disadvantage to the species, that causes species-level selection.

comment by timtyler · 2010-10-31T07:56:59.358Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most of human history is a recounting of group selection in humans. Every time one group of people displaces another group by virtue of superior technology or social organization, that's group selection.

That is one definition of "group selection". However, there is another definition - according to which "group selection" must refer to a different theory from "individual selection" - a theory that makes different predictions. For that you would need to show that the genetic traits that led to technological mastery benefited groups in a way that was systematically different from the way that they benefited the individuals that composed those groups.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-01T02:13:00.307Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think it suffices to show that selection can operate at the level of the group. Even if all of the traits involved provide some advantage to individuals, if they also provide an advantage to the group, then group-level selection needs to be considered.

It is more interesting if you can show that a trait that does not confer an advantage to an individual, has an effect on group selection. But it is an unreasonable bias to demand that group selection requires traits that do not provide any advantage to an individual, and yet at the same time not insist that the theory of individual selection requires traits that do not provide any advantage to the group.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-01T15:36:11.046Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I should clarify - "group selection" connotes what Tim is describing: Selection for altruistic traits in individuals, by selection at the group level. That's because, historically, group selection has been invoked only to explain things that individual selection can't.

However, this has led to people excluding selection at the group level from models and simulations, because "group selection bad".

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-31T05:42:17.127Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is something of a quibble, but you really shouldn't think of species-level selection as a kind of group selection. In both group and individual selection, it is the species that evolves. But in species-level selection, the species does not evolve. It is selected - it either lives or dies.

Another key difference - the usual argument against group selection is that it is ineffective since individual selection is a stronger force. That is, individual selection is said to push harder and change the species more than does group selection. But comparing species-level selection and individual selection, it makes no sense to say that one is more powerful than the other. They are playing different games.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-01T02:18:52.077Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is something of a quibble, but you really shouldn't think of species-level selection as a kind of group selection. In both group and individual selection, it is the species that evolves. But in species-level selection, the species does not evolve. It is selected - it either lives or dies.

Sorry, but I think this is completely wrong. Species-level selection isn't "like" group selection. It is group selection. In group selection, groups are selected for or against. That is the mechanism for group selection. That is the mechanism for group initially described by Darwin in chapter 4 of Descent of Man, and defended by Edward Wilson. It just happens not to be the straw-man depiction used by some opponents of group selection. They chose to ignore selection at the group level because it is easier to rebut group selection if you first assume that it doesn't happen.

Can you provide a reference for that usage?

comment by timtyler · 2010-10-31T08:03:25.048Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But comparing species-level selection and individual selection, it makes no sense to say that one is more powerful than the other. They are playing different games.

They are both attempting to influence the same germ line. They are both attempting to influence the same set of traits. It makes reasonably good sense to look at a trait - and to ask whether it is more for the benefit of the individual or the species.

For example, one such trait might be: a love of swimming. That might be bad for an individual (drowning), but good for the species (island speciation).

comment by timtyler · 2010-10-31T08:00:44.102Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is something of a quibble, but you really shouldn't think of species-level selection as a kind of group selection. In both group and individual selection, it is the species that evolves. But in species-level selection, the species does not evolve. It is selected - it either lives or dies.

Just because we are dealing with one individual, that doesn't mean it doesn't evolve. Check with the definitions of the term "evolution" - they (mostly) refer to genetic change over time. You could argue that they also (mostly) talk about a "population" - and one individual doesn't qualify as a "population" - but if you think through that objection, it too is essentially wrong.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-31T13:39:03.230Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed: In both group and individual selection, it is the species that evolves. But in species-level selection, the species does not evolve. It is selected - it either lives or dies.

Tim: Just because we are dealing with one individual, that doesn't mean it doesn't evolve.

Uh, I'm pretty sure I just stated that an individual - the species - does evolve. It evolves by way of organism-level or group-level selection. It just doesn't evolve by going extinct or not.

As for whether one individual qualifies as a population, I've thought about that and completely failed to imagine a population of one individual evolving by way of the standard mechanisms of evolutionary population genetics. That kind of population cannot evolve by differential birth, death, or migration. (I suppose it can change by mutation).

The thing you have forgotten in trying to extrapolate the meaning of 'population' in this way is that the essential feature of a biological evolving population is that its size is not fixed and its membership changes in time, whereas a population of exactly one entity by definition does not change its membership count in time.

Now, I will agree that a population of entities (say, the population of biological species within a genus) can evolve by selection even though its membership count occasionally fluctuates through having only a single individual. The genus does evolve. But the evolution of the genus as a population of individual species and the evolution of the component species as (possibly structured into groups) populations of individual organisms are conceptually distinct processes.

But here is not the place to continue this discussion. If you wish, please bring it up on sbe, and Dr. Hoeltzer can join in. I think he is getting probably lonely over there since we left, and the newsgroup is dominated by John, Tom, and Peter.

comment by timtyler · 2010-10-31T14:44:20.758Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed: In both group and individual selection, it is the species that evolves. But in species-level selection, the species does not evolve. It is selected - it either lives or dies.

Tim: Just because we are dealing with one individual, that doesn't mean it doesn't evolve.

Uh, I'm pretty sure I just stated that an individual - the species - does evolve. It evolves by way of organism-level or group-level selection. It just doesn't evolve by going extinct or not.

"Does NOT evolve" was the term you used. However, with your clarification, it now looks as though this was mostly just a misunderstanding.

IMO, it is mostly OK to think of species level selection as a type of group selection - where the "groups" are species. Maybe there are some meanings of "group selection" for which this is bad - but I would say: mostly OK.

Yes, a population of 1 changes by mutation. Self-directed evolution is an example of that.

If you A) insist on a population having more than 1 member and B) define evolution in terms of genetic change in populations, then the conclusion is that one big organism would no longer be "evolving" when it changed - which I think would be a totally absurd conclusion - a sign that you had got into a terminology muddle.

That may not be a big deal for today's organic evolution - but it makes a big difference for the study of cultural evolution. There, populations with only 1 member are much more common.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-02T03:29:06.336Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My apologies. Most theorists say species selection is a subclass of group selection; but Stephen J. Gould says it is not. See the long explanation here.

But comparing species-level selection and individual selection, it makes no sense to say that one is more powerful than the other. They are playing different games.

That is true if you're talking about features that groups have and individuals don't, or traits that aren't inherited genetically. But all the literature on group selection is about the competition between individual and group (including species) selection, within the same game of selecting genes.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-02T05:24:23.129Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I appreciate the effort you are putting into this, but I fear the terminological and theoretical confusion regarding group selection run far too deep. One enthusiastic person is not going to straighten things out in a forum where evolutionary biology is not the central focus. And now that academian has weighed in, the cause is hopeless. ;)

I agree with you (and Tim) that Eliezer's opposition to group selection was a bit naive and under-informed. But not completely wrong-headed. Many incorrect arguments in favor of group selection have been made over the years. A lot of them were incorrect because they simply did not work. Others were "epistemologically incorrect" because, though they worked, they could be reinterpreted more "parsimoniously" as individual-level selection.

D.S. Wilson's "Truth and Reconciliation" blog series strikes me as an example of extremely dishonest labeling. What he is really saying is that if everyone who disagrees with him would just accept his version of the truth, then reconciliation will take place. And his book "Unto Others" strikes me as even more dishonest. He defines "group selection" extremely broadly, provides examples of corner cases in which his "trait group selection" mechanism works, and then (here is the dishonest part) claims that if group selection works even in this extreme case, then it will obviously work in other cases.

Then he proceeds to discuss the case which every non-professional has in mind when he thinks of group selection - human evolution with groups = tribes, group death = tribe extinction, and group birth = split-up of a successful and populous tribe. The trouble is that the math of group selection really doesn't work in this case.

The only cases I know of where the group selection models do work are (1) Species level selection (Gould/Eldredge), examples like your non-selfing plants; and (2) the examples that Wilson gives in which "groups" are rather short-lived entities which "succeed" by keeping their members alive for a while and then returning them safely to the general population, where the individuals reproduce. A good example of a group that Wilson might use as an example of trait-group selection would be a flock of geese conducting a seasonal migration. Such a group might be selected against if it got seriously lost, or blundered into a tornado, or suffered some other collective catastrophe.

A human hunting party is another example of a "group" such that the mathematics of group selection works. A human tribe of hunter-gatherers is not, unless it is so reproductively isolated from other tribes so as to qualify as a species. I'm pretty sure that this degree of isolation (less than two cross-tribe matings per generation) has never held over any long period of time in human history.

But group selection for cultural traits is another question. If genes get transferred between tribes, but memes do not, then selection at the level of tribes may well help to determine the course of human cultural/memetic evolution.

Well, I seem to have provided you with a long response, which, unlike your own efforts, does not include any links/citations. Sorry about that. You are under no obligation to trust or believe me on this stuff. I will merely assert that I (and tim_tyler as well) have been a serious amateur enthusiast for evolutionary theory for many years. Clearly, you have been too. I do recommend though, that you take a second look at D.S. Wilson's work in light of my criticisms. He really is pulling something of a bait-and-switch. See if you agree.

comment by timtyler · 2010-11-02T22:10:40.683Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your 2p on D.S. Wilson's Unto Others.

It sounds as though I like multi-level selection a bit more than you do.

Evidence from our own species suggests habitat variation can cause significant morphological differences (despite gene flow) which selection can then act upon.

I also find things like this one interesting:

"Senescence as an adaptation to limit the spread of disease"

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-03T00:02:45.230Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds as though I like multi-level selection a bit more than you do.

I think so. I'm not quite so purist as Dawkins, but I am pretty close. But I do realize that it is not really an empirical scientific question. It is really simply a matter of what kind of models you prefer. Most cases in which group selection models work can also be explained just as well by individual-level selection or kin-selection.

Speaking of which:

I also find things like this one interesting: "Senescence as an adaptation to limit the spread of disease"

Yes. Very interesting. Red Queen strikes again. But since they are already thinking about Bill Hamilton, why don't they take the further step and realize that the senescent death of an old individual not only reduces the population density for the benefit of the group - the death specifically is beneficial to those individuals in the group who are the most immunologically similar to the deceased.

In other words, this mechanism ain't Red Queen + Group Selection; it is Red Queen + Kin Selection.

comment by timtyler · 2010-11-03T08:43:31.320Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes: sex and death!

Their model exhibits locality (with limited diffusion - V.N. or 5x5 neighbourhood) as well.

So: a death benefits kin not just through immunological similarity - but also because neighbours are likely to be kin - and death takes an adjacent pathogen load out of circulation.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-12-31T14:53:28.827Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In related news, this weeks Science has the clearest demonstration of group selection that I've seen: The ability to self-pollinate in plants gives individuals a great reproductive advantage; but also increases the likelihood of the entire species going extinct. The presence of a feature (self-pollination) that provides an advantage to the individual, provides a disadvantage to the species, that causes species-level selection.

I realize your views may have changed by now, but isn't that obviously caused by Red Queen effects? Just like all other sexual reproduction?

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-29T22:42:10.347Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmmm. Presumably there would be no objection had the speculation been worded "evolved adaptations that make people thrive in human society".

Now all I need to do is to figure out whether the meanings of the two are really different.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-29T23:25:29.212Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Be careful.

"Adaptations that make people thrive" can be interpreted in two ways: "adaptations that make people [who possess those adaptations] thrive" or "adaptations that make people [in general, including those who don't possess the adaptation] thrive."

As I understand it, the latter interpretation is essentially equivalent to group selection; the former is not. So it helps to be clear about what exactly you're saying.

Your original formulation ("make society work better") implies the latter pretty strongly. Your rewording is more ambiguous.

In any case, if you are proposing the former -- that is, if you are proposing that some of our biases have evolved to make the individuals expressing that bias more successful -- there's no group selection error, and I agree that it would be pretty surprising if that weren't the case.

Of course, as has been said several times, that doesn't mean those biases currently make individuals expressing them more successful.

comment by WrongBot · 2010-11-03T15:53:54.383Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If group selection wasn't responsible for naked mole rats, what would be the right term for it? Kin selection seems like too much of an understatement for them.

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-29T13:40:15.633Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your second quote is ill-formatted.

comment by shokwave · 2010-10-29T13:57:49.172Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Cheers!

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T14:02:41.838Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The more rational someone is, the less you can trust them. The less rational someone is, the more you can trust them.

This is not always the case. In fact, in practice I trust rational people far more than those that are irrational. If I know what a rational person's goals are, know the respective payoffs for each of the various available options then I can reliably predict what the rational person will do. Irrational people can not always be counted on to do what is in their own best interest - this makes them less predictable than they would be if they were rational unless they are an adversary trying specifically to foil your intelligence.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-10-25T22:09:55.575Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Ch. 54: If Harry and Quirrell discussed the possibility of an Auror seeing them, Harry should have told Quirrell that AK is out of the question- no sense in killing one innocent person in the course of saving one innocent person.

And it's a pretty big miscalculation of Quirrell not to anticipate Harry's intervention at the key moment. He really should have seen by now that Harry's light side is that strong.

Unless, of course, that was the real gambit somehow.

ETA: Loved the writing, though- I was on the edge of my seat.

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-26T08:48:16.155Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And it's a pretty big miscalculation of Quirrell not to anticipate Harry's intervention at the key moment. He really should have seen by now that Harry's light side is that strong.

Harry didn't consciously intervene. His Patronus 2.0 sort of teleported to block Quirrel's spell. Quirrel (like Harry) may not have even been aware that could happen.

comment by dclayh · 2010-10-28T05:07:08.432Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And it's a pretty big miscalculation of Quirrell not to anticipate Harry's intervention at the key moment.

I interpreted it that he was just too caught up in duelling-lust, and momentarily eriregrq gb uvf Qnex Ybeq crefban, forgetting how Harry would react.

ETA: rot-13d some stuff which is apparently supposed to be secret again.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-28T06:23:35.184Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

ETA: rot-13d some stuff which is apparently supposed to be secret again.

Huh? Spoilers for HP and HP:MoR are fair game here!

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-28T17:07:59.713Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Spoilers for HP:MoR that do not come from the text itself are not so much fair game.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-28T19:33:48.575Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They are if they are derived independently from the text via discussion here or guesswork. ie. You can guess stuff. They aren't if, um, you raid Eliezer's dwellings and find yet to be published manuscripts, for example. Or torture Eliezer to find out his plans. Any source of knowledge that hasn't passed through the bottleneck of the text at some point.

Dclayh didn't reveal anything remotely privileged. Or anything that hasn't been speculated on ad infinitum.

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-28T19:50:25.810Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

dclayh was complying with the spirit of this request from Eliezer:

I came to realize in time that what I thought was a bug was a feature, however frustrating that may be for me, so please rot13 that comment with the warning "spoilers even if you've read all chapters".

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-25T22:12:24.653Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's also a pretty big miscalculation of Harry not to anticipate Quirrell using AK in such a case! But that makes sense, considering how Quirrell got him into this in the first place.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-24T03:43:50.333Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

chp 51

Lesath Lestrange to Harry Potter in chp 27: "They say you can do anything, please, please my Lord, get my parents out of Azkaban, I'll be your loyal servant forever, my life will be yours and my death as well, only please -"

comment by gwern · 2010-10-24T17:43:04.096Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So, you predict that Quirrel will also be trying to free Rodolphus (Bellatrix's husband), that is, Lesath's other parent?

(Is Rodolphus even alive in MoR? There are now so many points of difference that I can't really track them any more. EDIT: well, he wasn't mentioned at all in the last few chapters, and Quirrel seems perfectly satisfied with escaping with just Bellatrix, so I guess Rodolphus is out of the picture.)

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-24T18:51:15.817Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, but it suggests that Lesath might suspect Harry's involvement in the escape and have an interesting reaction. Neville and Snape were there to witness this pleading, and Harry's reaction, so they could also be suspicious.

It's also possible, as others have been suggesting, that Lesath's father is not Rodolphus but Voldemort.

comment by pjeby · 2010-10-25T03:44:16.438Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No, but it suggests that Lesath might suspect Harry's involvement in the escape and have an interesting reaction.

I'm a bit disappointed that Harry hasn't noticed this, nor thought to ask what will happen when somebody has escaped Azkaban after a mysterious Dementor disappearance at Hogwarts... nor considered that Dumbledore at least should immediately suspect Harry's involvement, especially if any Dementors at Azkaban turn up missing.

What's more, if the Dementors are able to speak to the guards (as stated in ch. 51), then what exactly will happen when they report Harry's human-shaped Patronus?

Not considering any of these things seems out of character for Harry, his dreams of heroism notwithstanding. It seems he is making a huge mistake here, and preparing for a big change in his fortunes.

I'm beginning to wonder if Quirrelmort hasn't been planning all along to present Harry as "Voldemort returned", while he comes off looking like someone trying to protect magical Britain from this terrible scourge. He's spoken on the need for a Light Mark, and Harry publicly opposed it... which will look bad in retrospect.

[Edit: I guess I should've waited for ch. 53. Never mind.]

comment by alethiophile · 2010-10-25T22:24:07.229Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm uncertain of Quirrel's motivations here. It's possible that up-till-now has been Just According To Plan, and the plan is to blame Harry for attempting to break Bellatrix out of Azkaban, and hence utterly discredit him as a possible later rival. However, this seems a little much like a Xanatos Roulette; Quirrel could not necessarily have planned for the Auror he fought to be there and to react in the precise way he did, and he certainly could not have planned for Harry's Patronus v2.0 being able to block AK (and Harry wanting to do so), nor for Harry losing his Patronus afterward. Thus, it seems likely that either Quirrel was indeed planning to be caught, but in a less flamboyant way, or that he meant to carry off the breakout and was messed up himself by Harry's actions.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-24T19:50:02.714Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, but it suggests that Lesath might suspect Harry's involvement in the escape and have an interesting reaction.

That would be an interesting scene - 'you saved my mother; why didn't you save my father, Harry?!'

Would Lesath feel bound to serve Harry just for Bellatrix's rescue? Maybe. IIRC, child psychologists find that kids bond with the mother more.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-26T13:55:39.761Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If Harry ever has an extraordinary need to manipulate Lesath, he could play it off something like "You dare to complain to your Lord, after he saved one of your parents to show his generosity and mercy? When you hadn't yet done a thing for him? If you want your father's freedom, earn it! Serve me faithfully, and you shall be rewarded as you deserve."

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-26T14:01:09.989Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can't imagine he'd go that way - way too 'dark lord'. I could see him taking this opportunity to try to convert Lesath again though.

comment by gwern · 2010-11-29T16:02:55.451Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's also possible, as others have been suggesting, that Lesath's father is not Rodolphus but Voldemort.

Latest chapter (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/63/) seems to put the kibosh on that:

"I understand, my Lord," said the older boy, his voice wavering a little, "you do not trust my cunning, and indeed I have shown myself a fool... I only wanted to say to you, that I am not ungrateful, that I know it must have been hard enough to save only one person, that they're alerted now, that you can't - get Father - but I am not ungrateful, I will never be ungrateful to you again. If ever you have a use for this unworthy servant, call me wherever I am, and I will answer, my Lord -"

Obviously makes no sense if 'Father' is Voldemort; Lesath could be mistaken or deceived, but of course that's a more specific scenario and so less likely.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-11-01T05:45:48.227Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

chp 55

Cognitive therapy as a pre-Patronus intervention in early stage Dementation

comment by shokwave · 2010-10-29T05:46:53.555Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It occurred to me that Harry is confused with Hermione's reactions (possibly Dumbledore's) not because he is a consequentialist and she is a deontologist, but rather because he hasn't yet realised that offending her is a consequence of being a consequentialist, and so he should include "deviates from deontological ethics; may offend friends and society" as one of the negative consequences for actions that otherwise seem right by consequentialism.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-29T05:39:04.170Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

So, what's the importance of Roger Bacon's diary? Canon & conservation of detail both suggest it's something, possibly a horcrux or possibly some other tool of Quirrelmort. This Voldemort is too smart to horcrux his own diary, but this diary would be an awfully convenient trojan horse for him to have (extremely durable, treasured by Harry).

It doesn't seem to produce any sense of Doom, though, which seems to count against the horcrux hypothesis.

Could Quirrell be using it to spy on Harry, to get his curiously accurate priors? Does Harry keep the diary in the pouch which he carries around everywhere, and which he brought to Azkaban, and which the Quirrell cast a spell on and entered in snake mode? If so, it could be a part of Quirrell's current plot. (Or, Quirrell could've done something else with Harry's pouch, which doesn't involve the diary.)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-29T13:33:01.964Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't seem to produce any sense of Doom, though, which seems to count against the horcrux hypothesis.

In canon Harry's sense of pain when encountering Voldemort doesn't occur when encountering horcruxes. Moreover, it turns out that Harry is an accidental horcrux and he doesn't have any similar reaction to himself, or even to a time traveled version of himself that he sees. So by analogy a horcrux here may not be enough to trigger the sense of doom.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-29T13:09:45.168Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Could Roger Bacon's diary have important information in it?

I would be pleased if Quirrel was using the diary to affect Harry (whether by getting Harry to accept a gift or by some magic-related method), but Harry read it with more knowledge and/or attention and/or willingness to make deductions, and got some crucial addition to his abilities thereby.

comment by DaveX · 2010-11-05T19:40:11.330Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If it is a "very recently" created horcrux, one thing it means is that the maker is healthy enough to make horcruxes. Taken with Ch54, killing-curse ricochets might not be as damaging as one expects.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-05T20:36:59.668Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Taken with Ch54, killing-curse ricochets might not be as damaging as one expects.

Perhaps for similar reasons that death by basilisk glare isn't all that that damaging when reflected.

comment by tenshiko · 2010-10-21T02:24:59.132Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

EDIT: Spoilers even if you have read all chapters (particularly spoilery to those who have not read the original books). Following post is in rot13. Collapse thread from this comment if you want to avoid said spoilers, as some repliers commented in rot26 before it was established this information qualified as spoilage.

-

Gurer unf orra fbzr pbaprea nobhg ubj vg qbrfa'g frrz gb or pbzzba xabjyrqtr gung Dhveery vf orvat cbffrffrq ol Ibyqrzbeg va guvf fgbel (pbeerpg zr vs V'z jebat, ohg V xabj gung nppbeqvat gb gur nhgube'f abgr nepuvir ba uggc://jjj.obk.arg/funerq/skq7ce100m Lhqxbjfxl fgngrq gung "gur ernqre vf fhccbfrq gb xabj ng guvf cbvag gung CD vf YI"). Ubjrire, nf sne nf V haqrefgbbq, gb znal ernqref (zlfrys vapyhqrq) vg fgvyy frrzf fbzrjung nzovthbhf. N cebcbfrq pnhfr bs gur ceboyrz:

N: Dhveeryy vf cbfrffrq ol Ibyqrzbeg. O: Gur jnl Dhveeryy npgrq va pnaba va sebag bs Uneel, cevbe gb gur erirny gung ur jnf Ibyqrzbeg, jnf trarenyyl cynlvat gur ebyr bs n zvyq-znaarerq cebsrffbe. P: Gur jnl Dhveeryy npgf va ZbE va sebag bs Uneel vf nf n onqnff cebsrffbe.

Gur xrl nffhzcgvba orvat znqr ol pregnva ernqref vf gung N--->O naq bayl O, naq fb ~O--->~N, naq fb P--->~N. Guvf vf n pyrne snyynpl jura fgngrq rkcyvpvgyl, ohg jura yrsg vzcyvpvg gur vzcebcre ybtvp tbrf haabgvprq ol zbfg. Fbzrguvat gung zvtug uryc va guvf ertneq zvtug or gb unir fbzr nqhyg cbvag bhg gung Dhveeryy unf punatrq fvapr gurl ynfg zrg uvz, rg prgren, nygubhtu ng 50 puncgref vg'f engure uneq gb chg gung va fzbbguyl naq vg jbhyq pbzr bss gb ernqref cerivbhfyl pbaivaprq gung Dhveeryy jnf abg Dhveeryyzbeg (jurgure sebz vaabprapr gb UC pnaba be whfg abg guvaxvat vg nccyvrq va guvf cnegvphyne fgbel) nf urnil-unaqrq sberfunqbjvat, naq gb ernqref jub unq haqrefgbbq gur znggre sebz rneyl ba vg jbhyq frrz gb or znxvat n cyrnfnagyl fhogyr cbvag gbb boivbhf.

comment by JStewart · 2010-10-22T00:49:43.672Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I have not read the original Harry Potter series. I first learned that Quirrell was Voldemort when, after finishing the 49 chapters of MoR out at that point, I followed a link from LW to the collected author's notes and read those.

I think that for those who have not read the source material (though there may not be many of us), it is basically impossible to intuit that Quirrell is Voldemort from the body of the fanfic so far.

That said, I don't feel like I missed out in any way and don't see why it necessarily needs to be any more explicit until the inevitable big reveal.

Edit: I just remembered that, as you can see, my prior comment on this post was written after I read chapter 49 but before I learned that Quirrell == Voldemort.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-22T01:01:03.707Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer planted lots of clues about many facts that are never explicitly revealed, in such a way that noticing correct hypotheses is sufficient to confirm them upon observing enough of those little clues. Now, for some facts, it could be difficult to even locate them, but Quirrell=Voldemort seems to be a good hypothesis to entertain, even if it's not apparently confirmed from any single passage, and it does get lots of evidence if you know to look for it.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-22T01:40:58.790Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How much of that is hindsight bias? Clues that show a specific hypothesis if you've located the hypothesis aren't necessarily that helpful. For me at least, even knowing the that Q=V, and seeing the clues, they don't intrinsically point to that. Most of them can be explained simply by the idea that Quirrell is subtle, evil, and likes corrupting people.

The biggest clue is the material about the Horcrux and if one hasn't read the books that likely goes completely out the window. (In fact, if I were Eliezer, I'd have Harry find out about Horcruxes pretty soon to help the less knowledgable readers.)

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-22T16:50:48.361Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The biggest clue is the material about the Horcrux and if one hasn't read the books that likely goes completely out the window. (In fact, if I were Eliezer, I'd have Harry find out about Horcruxes pretty soon to help the less knowledgable readers.)

Wait, were Horcruxes mentioned explicitly in the text anywhere so far? The one Horcrux we know about is only explicitly stated to be such in the author's notes; at any rate, I didn't figure out it was a Horcrux without reading them.

I concluded Q=V early on based on:

  1. Quirrell seems to flip between two wildly different personalities
  2. In canon, his body is housing Voldemort ...which I found to be enough to conclude that he is being intermittently possessed by Voldemort. (OK actually I'm simplifying a little but I don't think the other details are relevant.)
comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-22T18:50:10.092Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The only result for CTRL-F "horcrux" is in a private conversation between Dumbledore and McGonagall, and it doesn't say what it is except that it belongs to Voldemort. Dumbledore does later tell Harry that Voldy achieved immortality through some scary rituals, but says nothing about the method other than that it involves a murder, so a canon-ignorant reader wouldn't be able to make a confident connection. "Horcrux" could very well be Voldermort's super-weapon, or a fancy term for "hideout".

As for clues to Q=V that don't rely on canon knowledge, the two biggest ones that come to mind are the sense of "doom" that Harry repeatedly perceives when coming physically near Quirrell (when something magical happens to Harry that is unusual or impossible even in the wizarding world, it's safe to assume that it's a consequence of his unique battle with Voldemort), and especially the tale he tells about Voldemort and the monastery, which despite his cover story of a deliberate "survivor" should make anyone raise an eyebrow.

On the other side, however, there is the fact that, in a marginally subtler way, Quirrell is NOT Voldemort. Everything we are told about Voldemort in MoR (at least part of which comes from reliable accounts) matches canon Voldemort and suggest an equally cartoonesque villain composed mostly of questionable motives, self-defeating pettiness and pointless cruelty, with zero PR skills and awful fashion sense, not to mention a certain fondness for the Idiot Ball. But if Quirrell is Voldemort, that requires Voldemort being not just far smarter and more patient, but possessing ambitions more sophisticated than being a Dark Lord on his Dark Throne in the land of Britain where the Shadows lie.

Which just so happened to have been the entire core of his character! For all functional and narrative purposes, whatever change Voldemort underwent when he turned into Quirrellmort was so drastic that we might as well say that he is no longer Voldemort.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-10-22T21:51:33.810Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

On the other side, however, there is the fact that, in a marginally subtler way, Quirrell is NOT Voldemort. Everything we are told about Voldemort in MoR (at least part of which comes from reliable accounts) matches canon Voldemort and suggest an equally cartoonesque villain composed mostly of questionable motives, self-defeating pettiness and pointless cruelty, with zero PR skills and awful fashion sense, not to mention a certain fondness for the Idiot Ball.

Eliezer has previously written that a supervillain (meant to be defeated) might do more for world unity than just about anything else. (If the words "I did it thirty-five minutes ago" mean anything to you, you get the idea.)

It's plausible that MoR Voldemort was a facade put up by Quirrell as part of a strategy to bring the wizarding world together and face the very real threat of Muggleborne nuclear war– and both his speech to Hogwarts and his private discussion with Harry make this more plausible.

However, it looks like the Boy-Who-Lived ruined his original plan somehow, and he's trying Plan B now by mentoring Harry.

comment by Thausler · 2010-10-24T02:30:48.068Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If Voldemort's plan was to cause Britain to unite under a Mark of Britain killing Yermy Wibble and his family was a funny way to accomplish it.

Voldemort may have been operating under the same false assumption that Wibble was (that Wibble's martyrdom would legitimize his ideas), but a villain that clever could have at least done some better PR work on Wibble during the seventies.

comment by hairyfigment · 2010-10-23T05:40:00.395Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Note, too, that if V knew he could 'die' and then possess someone, and if he also believed his followers could only lose to a dictator who united magical Britain against them, then he likely figured it didn't matter if they won or not.

comment by hairyfigment · 2010-10-23T05:17:29.148Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Everything we are told about Voldemort in MoR (at least part of which comes from reliable accounts) matches canon Voldemort and suggest an equally cartoonesque villain composed mostly of questionable motives, self-defeating pettiness and pointless cruelty, with zero PR skills and awful fashion sense, not to mention a certain fondness for the Idiot Ball.

Except we also have Dumbledore describing V as clever like Harry, or words to that effect. The two monastery stories seem consistent with this: first of all, canon!Voldemort would never have sought out a Muggle teacher at all. Second, the two stories together suggest that MoR!Voldemort got what he wanted and then returned without his disguise to get revenge, like he said Harry would do if Harry became like him. Also, what orthonormal said.

Edited to add: and come on, we know MoR!V killed Narcissa Malfoy. Draco told us himself to look at the result and ask who benefits. The plan surely broke an evil overlord rule or three, at least in spirit, but if V couldn't get Lucius on his side he probably needed to kill the default leader of the pureblood faction anyway. And V, as a skilled Legilimens, could probably count on Lucius responding irrationally to his wife's death one way or another.

comment by komponisto · 2010-10-22T14:57:17.247Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For me at least, even knowing the that Q=V, and seeing the clues, they don't intrinsically point to that. Most of them can be explained simply by the idea that Quirrell is subtle, evil, and likes corrupting people.

The Law of Conservation of Detail (TV Tropes warning) implies that an important character who is subtle and evil (or even just subtle) has a substantial probability of being the villain.

I hadn't read the original series either, and so at first I had no idea that Q=V except from the Author's Notes; however, I suspect that by this point in the story I would have begun entertaining it seriously as a hypothesis. (And of course as long as the story is still being written, there's always some chance Eliezer could change his mind.)

comment by ata · 2010-10-22T22:03:51.555Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The Law of Conservation of Detail (TV Tropes warning) implies that an important character who is subtle and evil (or even just subtle) has a substantial probability of being the villain.

But there are a lot of subtle characters in HPMOR; Quirrell might be the most subtle and the most apparently evil, but he's not the only one. That would imply that Harry, Dumbledore, and Lucius also have substantial probabilities of being the villain.

Edit: Then again... maybe that's correct.

On the other hand, I think we've been told to expect most characters to be substantially smarter than their canon equivalents, and maybe this kind of subtle schemingness just comes automatically when you have a bunch of smart wizards who don't trust each other and have potentially conflicting goals that they all take seriously as things-to-protect.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-22T15:27:53.827Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't mind one little bit if the story is structured like Lensmen, with several layers of villains that have to be discovered.

Admittedly, this is less likely in the wizarding world-- the population is much lower than in a universe with multiple inhabited galaxies.

On the gripping hand, it would be really cool if Quirrel/Voldemort were a claw on a finger of a conspiracy of evil alien wizards. Presumably, Cthulhu is part of the middle layer.

comment by LucasSloan · 2010-10-22T21:12:43.289Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Law of Conservation of Detail (TV Tropes warning) implies that an important character who is subtle and evil (or even just subtle) has a substantial probability of being the villain.

However, while that gives evidence that Quirrel is the villain, it doesn't necessarily follow that the villain (the one that is Quirrel) must be Voldemort.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-10-22T21:28:55.142Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why does Quirrelmort even have to be a villain? Sure, he was terribly evil in canon, and in the back story, but he's obviously been through some sort of magical transformative process, and that he may have made him redeemable. Killing Rita Skeeter is a pretty substantial mark against him, but we have very little idea what his real goals are.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-25T16:24:27.660Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

He just tried to kill an innocent man, so that settles that.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-22T20:58:53.266Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I came to realize in time that what I thought was a bug was a feature, however frustrating that may be for me, so please rot13 that comment with the warning "spoilers even if you've read all chapters".

comment by tenshiko · 2010-10-22T21:23:52.927Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Edit has been made. My apologies for having missed the note where you retracted the statement on which I based my previous comment.

Also... (rot13 for potential spoilers) abgr sbe puncgre 18 pynvzrq gung Fancr "jnf qngvat Yvyl Rinaf", nppbeqvat gb gur Rireabgr nepuvir. Zl zrzbevrf bs pnaba nf jryy nf uggc://ra.jvxvcrqvn.bet/jvxv/Frirehf_Fancr pynvz gurl jrer whfg sevraqf, gubhtu Fancr jnf va ybir jvgu ure. Jnf guvf na reebe gung jnf ergenpgrq yngre, na reebe gung jnf arire ergenpgrq, be qryvorengr?

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-22T22:12:00.834Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It was acknowledged as an error in a later Author's Note.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-23T00:47:20.111Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And WOW did I ever get called on it. It leaves a small but ugly hole, too, because now it looks like something that ought to stem from the single point of departure, but was actually meant to be unchanged from canon. I should probably just take the "boyfriend" line out of Ch. 17, or rewrite it or something.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-23T01:08:24.807Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had assumed the boyfriend was James, since I didn't remember in which year they got together (and if I had, I would just have assumed a MoR timeline shift rather than another boyfriend).

Also, checking that passage, Dumbledore says that the first scrawl was his and the second Lily's. Is that correct or, as it looks like, an accidental switch? i.e. did Dumbledore claim that he wrote a suggestion to use a toxic ingredient and that Lily, after finding a stranger's note in her book, proceeded to write a response under it?

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-26T06:53:27.943Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had assumed the boyfriend was James

There is something like this in canon. When Petunia recognises the name of Azkaban, she says it was ‘something he said’ to her sister. I misinterpreted the referent of that pronoun, and I'll bet that many others did too.

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-22T15:15:52.912Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I consider the thing that you point to a spoiler for future chapters for those readers lucky enough to not have had it spoiled the first time around, and it would be nice if you did not state it explicitly in your comment.

comment by tenshiko · 2010-10-22T20:56:40.964Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I apologize if you or anyone else reading does in fact feel spoiled by my previous comment. Unfortunately I don't think it's really possible to revise the spoilers out of the comment and maintain the meaning; the matter is referred to within the following comments anyway, and since there are following comments it would be disingenuous to remove the comment altogether.

However, I would point out that, considering the matter has been referenced explicitly by the author a long time ago, it would seem that at this point that there is an aspect of the story that isn't being appreciated by readers without this knowledge. Compare the resolution of chapter 26 for readers not familar with certain aspects of GOF, or certain interesting aspects of who Hermione and Harry's generals in the armies are.

Hmmmm. Does this count as "inside knowledge of future chapters" or not? It's stated that any published chapters of MoR as well as HP in general are fair game for no spoilers in these comments, and the public nature of the author's notes makes the moniker of inside knowledge dubious.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-23T02:15:24.478Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The guidelines in the spoiler warning about what should be rot13'd are just what I came up with when I posted the first discussion thread. My thought was that comments like yours shouldn't have to be rot13'd, since these threads are supposed to be full of spoilery discussions from people who know the canon or have spotted hints in MoR and are sharing their insights and informed speculation. People who want to figure out MoR on their own probably don't want to read this discussion, so I put the spoiler warning for them at the top so we wouldn't have to worry about rot13'ing every other comment.

But it's Eliezer's story, so he has final say over what should be rot13'd. Your comment didn't look any worse than all of the other comments that have referenced the D-I vqragvgl, and I still don't think it makes sense to rot13 all of the comments that contain those kinds of spoilers, so maybe Eliezer could clarify what guidelines he thinks we should use for rot13 in these threads.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2010-11-02T17:49:45.977Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But it's Eliezer's story, so he has final say over what should be rot13'd

No, Eliezer has policy over rot13 on all stories because he is a utility monster.

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-10T18:09:51.182Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to be a plot hole in MoR (ETA: not in canon - so the zombiehood is important) that no-one who appears on screen seems to have known Quirrel before his appointment as teacher. In particular, no-one ever gets to ask, "why is Quirrel acting like a zombie, he didn't do that when I met him ten years ago". Neither does anyone say, "I know you've been wondering why Quirrel acts like a zombie; he's been like that ever since I met him ten years ago, and here's why."

No-one is holding the idiot ball. Therefore Dumbledore didn't take a complete stranger on as Defense Professor; Quirrel must have had references.

Since the zombie-hood is due to possession/mind control (in canon), we can assume that it implies possession in MoR as well (even if possession isn't true here). Also, Dumbledore remains suspicious of Quirrel. Therefore Dumbledore must have investigated Quirrel's zombie-hood, or gotten a satisfying explanation from Quirrel himself.

Further note: Dumbledore can cast warding spells such as "no-one who wishes to harm the people living here may enter this house" (this was used on Harry's house in canon and was powerful enough to protect Harry from Voldemort and the Death Eaters in the summer vacations). The warding spells on Castle Hogwarts are described as diverse and very powerful, and if they didn't have this function already, Dumbledore would have added it (in canon he presumably was holding the idiot ball and didn't do this). Therefore we know Quirrel isn't planning to harm Harry directly, or at least wasn't planning to do so at the time he entered the castle.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-14T05:31:01.071Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

You can't cast that ward on Hogwarts, or a lot of students wouldn't be able to enter. Not to mention a few professors. Frankly, I don't understand how the Dursleys managed to enter their own home.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-10-10T22:32:54.364Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

In canon, Quirrell had been a Hogwarts professor for several years before Harry enrolled, and other professors actually had noticed that he hadn't been himself ever since he came back from a trip. Specifically, he had suddenly become unusually meek and afraid of everything. They attributed it to something like post-traumatic stress syndrome; I don't remember the details, but they seemed to believe that he had encountered some kind of danger and had barely escaped with his life. (In Book 7, it's mentioned that Dumbledore had indeed been suspicious of Quirrell and had given Snape the task of watching him.)

comment by blogospheroid · 2010-10-11T04:50:07.462Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Was he a professor of something other thanDADA? Cos' I think in Canon, Dumbledore had mentioned that they never managed to have a defence professor for more than a year after Voldy's curse.

I wonder what all tests must they have done on that curse. Did they try to alternate professors between two subjects? Did they try semester assignment? After all it has been atleast 12 years or so for that curse, right?

Even in MOR, a string of bad events or bad professors has happened, so I assume not much has changed there.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-10-11T05:25:45.606Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Was he a professor of something other than DADA?

Yes. Rowling said in an interview that he taught Muggle Studies.

comment by fibby · 2013-10-31T20:10:30.688Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder why they haven't simply renamed the course. If it was called "Battle Magic", would V's curse still apply? What if it was something completely new, like "Sunshine Course"? What if the name was changed to, say, "Transfiguration"? Let the students have McGonagall's Transfiguration and Quirell's "Transfiguration". Students might get a little confused on their first week, but the benefit of having the actual education outweighs the cost... (and btw it's legal to have 2 professors of the same subject -- in canon HP they had Trelawny and Firenze both teaching Divination; not to mention that the headmaster is free to create new positions, like he did with The Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts).

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-11T09:41:27.218Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're right! Fixed.

comment by jsalvatier · 2010-10-11T03:15:15.204Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It may be more challenging to write a ward that covers many people rather than a single person or small number of people.

comment by arundelo · 2010-10-10T18:56:41.068Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure Quirrell is not a zombie in canon.

comment by alethiophile · 2010-10-24T17:07:50.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure the ward on the Dursleys' house was a.) specifically targeted for Harry and b.) specific to Voldemort or those influenced by him, due to c.) it drawing on the lingering force of Harry's mother's sacrifice of her life. A similar ward on Hogwarts in general would probably be impractical. (In canon, Harry dies (or intends to die, anyway) in order to protect the greater body of Hogwarts students, and the protection of that magic extends to them, but not as strongly (Voldemort's magic, instead of just bouncing off, does not bind them fully and wears off after a short period of time, viz. Neville and the Body-Bind curse). It might have been possible to make a ward out of this, but it probably wouldn't have been as strong as the already-existing wards, due to that limitation.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-09T19:38:25.963Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To what extent can magic be used to make food that doesn't require killing?

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-14T05:19:44.140Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the few cases where canon is very clear about how magic works: Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-14T05:59:42.935Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So it looks as though food can be created without additional killing, and if Harry is willing to eat duplicates of preserved food (I can't see any reason why not), then the proportion of killing to the amount of food can be driven very low.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-16T07:20:30.147Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Particularly given that magical healing would allows the collection of initial 'food prototypes' with no long term damage! (Although it would probably rule out things like hearts.)

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-10-09T19:40:48.276Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 6 mentions a "bottle of food and water pills", which seems to have been forgotten about.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-09T19:47:00.310Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is not necessarily food created by magic, though: maybe someone took ordinary food and magicked it into a pill.

comment by sidhe3141 · 2010-10-10T05:55:05.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Canonically, it can't beyond increasing the amount (a really bad idea in MoR) or summoning something that's already dead. Not sure if it can in MoR, given that it seems mostly to use the 3.5 D&D spell list (although, come to think of it, neither create food and water nor heroes feast is a Sor/Wiz spell). Although even if it turns out plants are sentient, fruit should still be mostly okay.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-10T06:36:31.959Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose that milk and infertile eggs would still be problematic because the cows and chickens are killing plants.

On the other hand, what's morality for? I thought the original intent was to improve life, not to make it impossible.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-16T07:27:25.315Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, what's morality for? I thought the original intent was to improve life, not to make it impossible.

Morality? Original intent? To assert political influence among the tribe in a way that benefits yourself while simultaneously preventing yourself from making faux pas that would result in negative political (or occasionally environmental) consequences to yourself in cases where explicit reasoning about probable social outcomes is prohibitively expensive.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-16T13:12:09.226Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Always a pleasure to hear from the Slytherins.

OK, why do you think Harry is concerned with ethical behavior to all sentients?

I think there's some evolutionary pressure on morality, so that it's a mixture of requirements for behavior which improve the odds of survival for the group, maintain the status of high-status people, and/or are just people making things up because they sound cool/seemed like a good idea at the time/distinguish the group from other groups. People are encouraged to think of all three as the same sort of thing.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-16T16:17:36.127Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Always a pleasure to hear from the Slytherins.

Ahh, but am I? Or am I a hufflepuff who does not base his value system on self-deception?

The original intent of the egg laid by hens was something to do with the reproduction of chickens. Yet as far as I'm concerned eggs are there to be separated white from yolk, whipped thoroughly and combined with the extract from artificially selected cane. Morals, ethics and values general are similar - what matters to me is not what the original intent was or causal factors but what my values happen to be right now. I get to choose which of my values I consider, well, part of 'me'.

I note that maintaining the belief "the original intent of morality was to improve life", or even "the intent of morality that can be inferred from human behavior is to improve life" is not necessarily a stable belief to hold. That is, exposure information from the world around them through either social observation or theoretical study will cause the belief to be discarded because it just isn't, well, true. To refer to a well known exhortation by a source held here in disrepute: don't build your house on sand!

OK, why do you think Harry is concerned with ethical behavior to all sentients?

It seems he took his intuitive value for 'other thing that I can empathise with' and applied it more generally than most. This is not a logical problem - there is a huge space of values that are internally coherent. Yet it does have implications that lead me to consider the values of Harry are only slightly preferable to those of Clippy. Optimizing the universe by those criteria would create an outcome that I personally (and I suggest most people) would not like all that much.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-16T16:26:27.091Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's some evolutionary pressure on morality, so that it's a mixture of requirements for behavior which improve the odds of survival for the group, maintain the status of high-status people, and/or are just people making things up because they sound cool/seemed like a good idea at the time/distinguish the group from other groups. People are encouraged to think of all three as the same sort of thing.

My thinking is along similar lines... yet I divide the three modes from a slightly different perspective. I don't put much weight on the 'odds of survival for the group' for example, although there is definitely a sense in which moral claims are meant to be interpreted as declarations of pro-social norms. I had tended to leave off 'just making things up because they sound cool' because I was focusing on the explicit political influences but come to think of it "seemed like a good idea at the time" probably does explain a lot!

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-16T23:33:31.604Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, what's morality for? I thought the original intent was to improve life, not to make it impossible.

Morality? Original intent? To assert parental influence upon your unruly children in a way that gives you a moment's peace while simultaneously preventing your children from making future faux pas that would result in negative political (or occasionally environmental) consequences to the little darlings, in cases where explicit reasoning about probable social outcomes is just too complicated for those immature brains.

Elaine Morgan's ideas about mankind's physical origins may have been all wet, but I think she was right on when talking about where human society and language came from. Hint: it wasn't created to satisfy the needs of adult male hunting bands.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-17T00:50:45.868Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Morality tends to become less necessary as one matures. It is also, as you allude, plays a less significant role in all-male social competition than in mixed group or all female competition. Yet to limiting it as you do to just children is a mistake. The role of morality is clearly visible outside of the family unit and used by and directed at adults.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-10-18T00:51:34.986Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Morality tends to become less necessary as one matures.

Are you using "morality" in some narrow technical sense, here? I ask because this statement seems so bizarrely false to me that it seems like you may have been saying something entirely different than my understanding of what you said.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-18T07:42:00.794Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm using a perfectly standard definition of morality. I can only assume you are using a different meaning of necessary.

Take, for example, 'crossing the road'. Look both ways, hold hands, etc. That is all presented using the mechanism for morality. This is necessary for most young children because their ability to reason out natural consequences and actually make responsible judgements is undeveloped. As an adult you don't need to to have a feeling when you cross the road that you may be transgressing on an absolute moral law. You take care because you know about the dangers of cars.

Then, on the social side of things, consider 'please and thankyou'. It is presented as a moral obligation to children. Part of being a 'good boy and girl'. Because children don't have decades of experience and a theoretical grasp of the intricacies of deference to status and supplication. As people mature they learn when it is best to supplicate and when supplication would actually be detrimental. Heck, in the worst case following that moral literally get you killed.

I make no suggestion that abandoning ones ethics entirely is either a good thing or practical. I can only assume that is the 'bizarrely false' thing that you are talking about. Because the fact that morality is more useful for children than for adults seems blatantly obvious. Perplexed (although not myself) went as far as to say it is the sole reason for morality's existence!

comment by randallsquared · 2010-10-20T04:37:57.265Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, so you're not using morality in the sense of a deep understanding of motivations and consequences which guide a person not to do things which may eventually harm them, but in the sense of rules for people to follow when they haven't thought it through, or can't think it through. I think that sufficiently explains our difference on this.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-28T07:02:38.426Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds about right to me.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-19T00:03:17.815Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Take, for example, 'crossing the road'. [...] That is all presented using the mechanism for morality. This is necessary for most young children [...]

Mine is still too young for us to let her cross the road unshepherded, but I'm certainly not presenting that sort of thing to her "using the mechanism for morality"; at least, I'm trying not to and so far as I can tell I'm succeeding. (I think my wife is doing likewise, but I don't know for sure; we haven't discussed the matter in depth.) When there's something she mustn't do for reasons of safety, we tell her "don't do X, it's dangerous and here's why". Seems to be working well so far.

Now, maybe however I present things my daughter interprets them using "the mechanism for morality" (e.g., if that's automatically triggered by any sense of parental disapproval); it's hard to tell. And maybe I, or my daughter, or both, are unusual. But a blanket statement that "That is all presented using the mechanism for morality" seems to me to need some actual justification which isn't in evidence; it looks clearly false to me.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-19T00:33:27.515Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is no other example you can think of where morality is useful for keeping young people from being hurt by environmental or social dangers that they are later able to handle in a more sophisticated, practical way, without the morals of children protecting them?

This may be an inferential distance that is too large to cross. Morality is something that many find hard to reduce.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-19T08:07:45.810Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Obviously I can think of any number of examples in which one could use "the mechanism of morality" to keep young children from being hurt. Your claim, however, was not merely that there are such examples; it was that in such cases "that is all presented using the mechanism of morality". Not "could be presented", not "is often presented", not even "is usually presented"; simply "is presented".

The (perhaps unreasonably strong) literal interpretation of this, with an honest-to-Cthulhu universal quantifier in it, seems to me to be demonstrably false, though of course if you bothered to say what you mean by "the mechanism of morality" it might turn out otherwise, since the childrearing practice I know best, namely my own, is firmly nonmoralistic about such things. It seems to me that weaker interpretations are at best in need of solid supporting evidence.

The time for worrying that you might be on the high side of a too-large inferential gap is after you have made a bona fide attempt to explain your position, found it not understood, and considered carefully whether the problem is that the other party is too stupid or ignorant to understand you or that what you're saying doesn't really make sense. In particular, the following exchange doesn't seem reasonable to me:

Proponent: blah blah blah X blah blah blah.

Skeptic 1: I wonder if you have a nonstandard understanding of X.

Proponent: I'm using a perfectly standard definition of X. Blah blah blah X blah.

Skeptic 2: That second thing you said seems implausible to me, because blah blah blah blah.

Proponent: I think maybe you're too stupid or ignorant for us to talk about this; the notion of X is hard for many people to reduce.

... because it surely can't be true both that your usage of X is straightforward and standard and needs no elaboration and that when someone else disagrees with you in this area the problem a good inference is that you understand how to reduce X and they don't.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-19T10:51:19.059Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It is not a position which I have a particular vested interested in evangelising. I also know from experience and would in any case predict theoretically that when discussing morality there is a significant signalling cost to doing so from a detached descriptive perspective rather than from 'within' - even when not actually advocating anything 'immoral'.

My initial statement was a casual observation of the way morality works - not a declaration that I would be willing to engage in a verbal duel with anyone who considered it 'bizarrely false'. The chances of such a conversation being productive is negligible, so I am happy to leave you to disagree and would never presume to question your right to express disagreement or presume that any readers would consider the question resolved when disagreement remains.

I don't disagree with 'is often', by the way and note now that there is a difference between 'skeptic 1' and 'skeptic 2' that changes the meaning of your claim somewhat.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-19T14:18:06.482Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, yes, there's a difference between Skeptics 1 and 2, because they're different people: just as randallsquared and gjm are different people. I wasn't the person who called your statement "bizarrely false" and I have no wish for a verbal duel (though it sure seems like you're trying to have one, for some reason) nor for a clash of evangelisms. What I was hoping for was a reasoned discussion.

Far be it from me, though, to insist that you bear a significant signalling cost. (Though I think you already paid it; anyone who'd be upset at a detached discussion of morality was probably already upset by your statement that morality becomes less important as one matures.)

[EDITED some hours after writing, to add: for that matter, those same people were presumably even more upset by your earlier comment about the original purpose of morality. It's a bit late to be worrying about what those people might think of you.]

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-20T03:19:03.195Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, yes, there's a difference between Skeptics 1 and 2, because they're different people

Yes, I got that and added the last bit at the end. That difference indicated to me that your own interest was limited to the specific example about road crossing. I conceded 'sometimes' or 'often' there so I don't think I have a substantial disagreement with you there.

It's a bit late to be worrying about what those people might think of you.

True enough. They feel sufficiently 'out group' that different instincts are in play. The relevant factor is that it is a behaviour that I hold in utter contempt. And contempt is the one one emotion that I find has an unambiguously deleterious influence on thought. It makes me careless. (Not noticing a different commenter, for example.) It is better to avoid such situations all together. Hindsight suggests I should have downvoted and ignored Randall, rather than replying.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-17T01:42:07.575Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. But the context was "original intent". Morality originated as a way to align children's behavior with mother's wishes. It then was discovered that it could be extended to align adult behaviors with tribal wishes.

That is my story and I'm sticking to it.

comment by hairyfigment · 2010-10-16T22:46:54.244Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If by "assert political influence," you mean not accept garbage like the Pirate Game, and by "tribe" you mean any group of mammals. Obviously I'm using a broad definition of morality here.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-16T23:20:50.177Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If by "assert political influence," you mean not accept garbage like the Pirate Game, and by "tribe" you mean any group of mammals.

No, I don't mean that and it isn't exactly the kind of game morality is set up to handle.

But it is an interesting link and the progression is far from intuitive.

comment by hairyfigment · 2010-10-19T19:17:45.248Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

...OK, I have little experience with the game Taboo, but people claim to have found 5 major instincts that together provide "mechanisms" for nearly all societal codes. I care more about the first two then the others.

Before, I linked to evidence that dogs care about Fairness in a way that seems to clearly increase their chance of surviving to reproduce in the wild. (Though I admit they'd likely never have to face the Pirate Game as such.) This study purports to show Empathy and its backward cousin Group Loyalty in mice.

Your examples seem to work by Authority, which I feel pretty confident exists in other animals (especially for children). It makes a certain amount of sense to describe rules of this nature as ways to assert political influence, provided we include unconscious political behavior and allow a wide range of motives for wanting to influence others.

"Purity" seems like a mindless animal's version of germ theory.

(Edited once for clarity in the first paragraph.)

comment by Strange7 · 2010-10-14T19:57:59.011Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Mutilating, yes, but not necessarily killing. Grass can regrow after being cropped.

Chickens are also at least partly insectivorous, but if insects turn out to be sapient (and Rita Skeeter certainly demonstrates that it's possible to hide human-level intelligence in an insect) it might be time to rethink the existential triage priorities.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-10T12:25:11.118Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

given that it seems mostly to use the 3.5 D&D spell list

Er, really?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-16T07:21:29.326Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Use an asterix on either side of the word or phrase to make italics.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2011-01-05T18:31:11.243Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The website hosting MoR now has a popup with audio when you go to it, so it is now NSFW.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-02T21:31:16.198Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Would Harry's patronus block any killing curse, or only one thrown by Quirrell?

comment by DanArmak · 2010-11-03T11:56:59.857Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Harry's own interpretation of the DOOM feelings are that any two magics cast by Harry and Quirrel might mutually annihilate in this way.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T16:59:49.167Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

With Chapters 55-56, I have some theories regarding Quirrell's true plan. He is Voldemort (or rather contains a piece of Voldemort) but we know he doesn't want Harry dead; he's had ample opportunity to simply murder Harry if that was the goal. I think rescuing Bellatrix is a distraction as well, really nothing more than a cover story or "fortunate side effect" of achieving the true goal. If rescuing Bellatrix was the true goal, he wouldn't have jeopardized the mission by attempting to murder the auror.

I think Quirrell's ultimate goal is the Dementation of Harry, probably in order to draw out Harry's dark side (which I think is the horcrux-fragment of Voldemort). He tried this at Hogwarts and it would have worked if not for Hermione's intervention. Since he was unlikely to be able to bring Dementors to Hogwarts a second time, he concluded that he'd have to bring Harry to Azkaban. The rescue plan is a cover story designed to persuade Harry into going to Azkaban--although I suppose Quirrell figured he might as well make the rescue target someone who could actually be useful to him/Voldemort if freed.

So basically Quirrell deliberately put himself out of commission, thinking that Harry would quickly fall prey to the Dementors in such a situation. The hole in my theory is that this seems like an all-or-nothing play: he's now revealed at least three pieces of important information to Harry (1. His own willingness to kill innocents; 2. The spell-clash aspect of their joined magics--which for my theory to be correct, Quirrell must already have known about; and 3. Quirrell's own insanely-high power level). These three pieces together are probably enough to make Harry suspect that Quirrell is an aspect of Voldemort, once he has the chance to think things through. Quirrell is subtle enough that he should have had a backup plan in place in order to retain Harry's trust in the event that Harry is not Demented, but I can't imagine what that might be. Maybe Quirrell's backup plan involves the Imperius Curse or memory charms or something. I'd say that "Kill Harry" would be the simplest and most obvious backup plan, but I think Voldemort wants/needs Harry alive.

Not a prediction so much as a guess: Bellatrix's Innervate charm did work on Quirrell. He's currently faking unconsciousness (and remaining in the form that gives himself some protection from the Dementors) as he waits to see whether Harry will or will not succumb to Dementation.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-02T21:25:25.355Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So basically Quirrell deliberately put himself out of commission

To counter this, it was Harry's actions that lead to the fight with the auror. Up to the point that Harry almost lost control of his patronus Quirrell had been acting to shield Harry's hearing, perhaps fearing that exact response. I don't think there is any evidence that the fight was inevitable.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T22:52:50.455Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that it's unreasonable to expect that Quirrell could have anticipated the entire chain of events that led to the duel with Bahry. However, it's not at all unreasonable to expect that a duel with one or more aurors would occur at some point during the course of breaking in and out of Azkaban, and in fact we know that Quirrell planned for this contingency, because he gave Harry standing orders for what to do if/when it happened. So, while that fight was not inevitable, a fight was always likely.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-11-02T19:10:10.715Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think Quirrell's ultimate goal is the Dementation of Harry, probably in order to draw out Harry's dark side (which I think is the horcrux-fragment of Voldemort). He tried this at Hogwarts and it would have worked if not for Hermione's intervention.

Doesn't work. It was Quirrell (and only Quirrell) who spotted Harry's wand next to the Dementor's cage and alerted Flitwick so he could remove it.

If he had wanted Harry Demented he would have kept his mouth shut.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T19:49:44.265Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think he did that because he didn't want Hermione going in front of the Dementor again -- she was getting too much information from it -- and also because he figured (rightly) that Harry had already received enough exposure for his purposes.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-11-02T17:14:27.753Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But it was more likely that Harry would get picked up be Aurors than Dementors (now it doesn't look that way, but Quirrell couldn't have predicted Harry's actions), and Quirrell wouldn't risk his own arrest.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T19:53:14.903Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, my theory definitely depends on believing that Quirrell COULD predict Harry's actions when he cast the killing curse on the auror. You also have to be willing to believe that Quirrell knew Harry would figure out a way to observe the battle, even though he was ostensibly lying out of sight. I think the first is more of a stretch than the second. Anyone who knows Harry at all could predict that he would try to find a way to spy on the battle: using the Patronus to block the Killing Curse is a much more specific action that only somebody who understands Harry really well would be able to predict. I guess I'm willing to believe that Quirrell does understand Harry that well.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T20:24:59.898Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Patronus to block the Killing Curse is a much more specific action that only somebody who understands Harry really well would be able to predict. I guess I'm willing to believe that Quirrell does understand Harry that well.

Harry really isn't that hard to predict... If he had a few moments spare I can even imagine him giving an impassioned speech on the subject before he used the patronus.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-02T21:29:57.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could Quirrell have guessed that Harry's patronus would block a killing curse? That seems like a stretch.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T21:54:44.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is it possible that any magical interaction between Voldemort and Harry would cause that effect -- a kind of blast radius that cancels both their magic, causing painful feedback in the process?

Then Quirrell wouldn't need to know exactly what magic Harry would use in response, just that he would do something, and that in doing so both of them would be temporarily shut down...causing Harry to lose his Patronus no matter what kind of magic he'd used to try and block the Killing Curse. This might be consistent with the sense of doom that Harry feels when close to Quirrell--it's kind of a magical matter/antimatter thing, for lack of a better metaphor.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-02T22:03:32.096Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I concede that Quirrell should have have known that Harry would intervene if possible, and that he might have guessed that painful feedback would be the outcome of any intervention. I would also offer that Quirrell throwing away his wand does imply he had some idea of what was happening.

However, I still don't see that Quirrell intended for the fight to occur.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T22:36:48.220Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He gave Harry instructions for what to do in the event that they encountered an auror, so clearly he'd at least anticipated the possibility that a duel would happen at some point during the prison break. We're also told that Harry's maneuver with the mirror is something he'd "practiced...in the Chaos Legion," so Quirrell should also have anticipated that Harry would be watching the duel if/when it happened. At the very least, he knows that Harry will be able to hear it.

So. The duel was not outside Quirrell's plan. Therefore his actions during the duel must also have been deliberate and have been part of the plan. If those actions seem to foil the plan, then...it was never the real plan. And the real plan must somehow be furthered by Quirrell's actions. So the only way I can make sense of Quirrell's behavior is to think that he was deliberately trying to provoke the reaction he got from Harry.

Why? What does it gain him? Well, it leaves Harry exposed to Dementors. And coincidentally enough, this is the second time that Quirrell's actions have left Harry exposed to Dementors. At which point I decide that it's not coincidence at all. So my theory is really just trying to answer the question, "Why does Quirrell want Harry exposed to Dementors?"

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-02T22:56:30.903Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

If those actions seem to foil the plan, then...it was never the real plan.

A Bayesian villain plots under uncertainty, and shouldn't be judged with Hindsight bias.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-11-02T23:32:15.278Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that we can't reasonably assume that the Patronus teleport, magical feedback and subsequent Dementor exposure had been part of Quirrell's plan.

However, the much more limited and much more certain prediction that AK'ing a guard Auror while in Harry's earshot would cause a mess and make the stated "perfect crime" plan impossible is easily within Quirrell's ability to figure out beforehand, even on the spot.

Therefore, his casting of AK - if not the very unusual result - is sufficient evidence that the "perfect crime" plan was at least to some degree horsecrap. Not that he must have wanted Harry to get caught, but, unless he had a doppelganger of Bahry in his pocket to replace him with, he certainly wasn't as interested in a clean breakout as he had claimed.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-11-02T23:39:21.181Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. The exact disastrous consequences of Harry's reaction were most likely not part of the plan, and can't be seen as a serious flaw or rationalized-in-hindsight as having been part of the plan all along.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T23:10:32.394Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But there's nothing in the situation that would have come as a surprise to Quirrell. If his goals were the ones he stated to Harry, then Quirrell is indeed left holding the Idiot Ball.

EDIT: By "nothing in the situation that would have come as a surprise," I mean the fact that there's a duel with an auror in Azkaban, and that Harry is present and observing. In that situation casting a Killing Curse is idiotic, if the goal is simply to keep moving with minimum fuss. Quirrell would have known that perfectly well when he was making his plan.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-11-02T23:35:32.847Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He could have confidently foreseen that the AK would have ruined the "perfect crime" and pissed Harry off.

He could not have confidently foreseen that Harry's Patronus would teleport in the way, block the Killing Curse, cause a magical backlash, and disappear.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T23:40:58.576Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I realized after I wrote that line about "nothing in the situation that would have come as a surprise" that it could be read that way, and I edited to clarify.

My speculation is that Quirrell might have reason to assume that any intervention by Harry would cause the magical backlash, but that really is just speculation, I freely admit.

comment by PeterS · 2010-11-03T05:51:06.276Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why does Quirrell want Harry exposed to Dementors?

At the risk of building this theory on top of another unconfirmed theory... It's been speculated that Quirrell himself is Demented. He doesn't appear so when Voldemort is telepathically controlling him, but when Voldy takes a cigarette break or whatever Quirrell enters zombie mode. Quirrell is just kind of an empty body, zombie-like unless Voldemort is logged in.

Maybe Voldemort wants to control Harry's body in a similar fashion. What the difference is between dementing and then telepathically inhabiting, versus simply using the Imperius Curse... /shrug.

comment by MartinB · 2010-11-03T00:43:40.645Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why does Quirrell want Harry exposed to Dementors?"

Removing happiness makes for better evil.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-03T01:10:13.790Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Alternatively, Voldemort has tried killing Harry, it didn't work, so he wants to eliminate Harry as a potential obstacle through other means. If Harry's soul is sucked out (or whatever the Dementor's Kiss does, actually) then he is still alive technically but not an obstacle. It's worth a shot as an alternative approach to just trying to kill Harry over and over, which is what canon Voldemort tries to do.

Also, and this can't possibly be Quirrell's reasoning, but it's still an interesting thought: the MOR version of The Prophecy says that "either must destroy all but a remnant of the other". If Harry is subjected to irreversible Dementation, all but a remnant of him is destroyed.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-02T23:44:24.901Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Therefore his actions during the duel must also have been deliberate and have been part of the plan.

I am confused by Quirrell's behavior in attempting to kill the auror, so I assume that there is something that I don't know or understand about Quirrell's motives.

What I don't see yet is that Quirrell was relying on the dual to occur, only that it was a possibility that he accounted for.

"Why does Quirrell want Harry exposed to Dementors?"

Assuming that this was part of the Plan, in some sense, then it comes across to me as a test. Perhaps to force Harry to confront his sensitivity dementors, perhaps simply to test him in an apparent no-win situation.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T23:57:51.227Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am confused by Quirrell's behavior in attempting to kill the auror, so I assume that there is something that I don't know or understand about Quirrell's motives.

What I don't see yet is that Quirrell was relying on the dual to occur, only that it was a possibility that he accounted for.

You're right, that's all we can know for sure from the story so far. My theory is purely speculative, a guess at Quirrell's true motives. It springs more from earlier chapters than from this one: I think it was really suspicious of Quirrell to go to all that trouble to bring Dementors into Hogwarts, and I'm inclined to believe that Hermione got true information from her encounter with the Dementor (namely, that Quirrell wanted Harry drained). Given that background, it seems more than a little suspicious that Quirrell has brought Harry into the same danger all over again, which is why I'm so quick to believe that stripping Harry of his Patronus was part of the plan. But I definitely don't think I have all the details worked out.

Assuming that this was part of the Plan, in some sense, then it comes across to me as a test.

But in that case isn't he risking a lot for very little reward?

comment by David_Allen · 2010-11-03T00:18:03.472Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But in that case isn't he risking a lot for very little reward?

Your point would seem to apply to the whole rescue attempt, and especially to Quirrell's attempt at murder.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-11-02T17:22:38.275Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wha? Quirrell knew about Harry's superpower against Dementors before he proposed the mission.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-11-02T19:50:37.802Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's why he cast the killing curse -- to get Harry to expend his Patronus.

comment by Danylo · 2010-11-03T22:07:49.874Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's reasonable to assume that he could predict the Patronus stopping the curse. Harry didn't know it could do it. How could Quirrell, who can't even cast Patronus 2.0?

Additionally, he had to be certain that Harry wouldn't be able to recall his Patronus, which would also be beyond him.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-11-02T11:48:54.575Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've figured out what Harry's "sense of doom" reminds me of. The old action movie Timecop with Van Damme. The antagonist there used a clever plot to help a younger version of himself succeed in the past, but they had to avoid touching because "the same matter cannot occupy the same space". In the end the protagonist forces them to touch, whereupon they both die in freaky fashion and disappear from the timeline. But it's probably just another of Eliezer's clever shout-outs, not an actual clue.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-27T18:17:22.397Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A few thoughts, just to go on record with them. As always, apologies if I'm repeating well-covered ground; I have not read all the comments on this thread, nor am I likely to. I would appreciate pointers to comments I ought to read, though.

Polyjuice, Bahry would have called it, if he'd thought that anyone could possibly do magic that delicate from inside someone else's body

OTOH, the same person is described in ch52 as

the... man Professor Quirrell had Polyjuiced into.

It's unclear whose voice that is in, but the same sentence describes the voice as "unfamiliar," which suggests we're getting Harry's POV rather than Word Of God. So Harry believes Quirrell Polyjuiced into this man.

So either: A. Harry is right, and Bahry is mistaken about what's possible while Polyjuiced. B. Bahry is right, and Harry is mistaken about what happened. C. They're both right, and something weird is happening. (E.g., Harry's companion is not actually doing magic as delicate as he appears to be doing, or some such thing.)

B seems most plausible to me, as Bahry ought to know about such things. The simplest explanation is that he isn't Polyjuiced at all -- the "sallow lanky bearded man" with the "low and gravelly" voice is Harry's companion's natural form. (Of course, there might be other means of changing his appearance that we've never heard of before, but that would be a cheap narrative trick.)

Which suggests he is not and never was the actual Quirrell. And also that he is not and never was anyone Harry would recognize (from pictures, from extrapolation in mirrors, etc.)

Professor Quirrell had pointed out that there was no plausible reason for him to be possessed by the shade of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

So either: A. There is in fact no plausible reason for this. B. There is a plausible reason, but neither Quirrell nor Harry can think of one. C. There is a plausible reason, but Harry can't think of one, and Quirrell is pretending not to be able to think of one.

The most likely of those given the data I'm aware of is A. Which suggests that Professor Quirrell is not and never was possessed by Voldemort (ETA: er, I mean, by the shade of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).

Which is not to say that Harry's companion isn't or wasn't.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-10-27T20:00:39.978Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The fact that Quirrel sometimes reverts to zombie mode suggests that Voldemort is teleoperating that body. Perhaps he has more than one body for that purpose, and simply used a different body for the breakin, rather than polyjuicing the first one. It would be odd that both bodies could assume snake-form, but I see no reason in principle why that magic wouldn't be transferrable.

If that's what happened, then the Quirrel body might still be alive somewhere. Voldemort might be alive (in which case he would return to Quirrel's body, and pin the blame on Harry), or temporarily dead, in which case Quirrel's vacant body might turn up somewhere.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-28T20:08:38.502Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is plausible, and fits with my speculation that Quirrell's been Dementor-kissed.

On the other hand, Harry still feels a sense of doom when Quirrell is in zombie mode, which suggests that Voldemort isn't completely gone then.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-28T15:25:11.953Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Re: Voldemort teleoperating Quirrell... if there's a quick summary somewhere of why this is a plausible explanation for Q's occasional zombie mode, I'd love a pointer.

Re: remote-snakeform... if that's what's going on, it would be better writing to introduce the possibility of remote animagusing somewhere along the line. Lacking any such introduction (or have I just missed it?) it seems a far simpler explanation that Harry's current companion and Harry's DODA instructor share a body, and that body is a snake animagus. (cf hooves, horses, zebras)

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-27T18:40:13.393Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I think the naive reading is that the narration is from Harry's POV, and Quirrell Polyjuiced into the man (as planned), and Quirrell is such a badass that he can do whatever magic he wants while polyjuiced, which is unusual enough for Bahry not to expect it.

And Quirrell claiming there's no plausible reason to think he's possessed by Voldemort is just him thumbing his nose at the reader (aside from the usual misdirection).

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-27T19:42:43.351Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  • If it turns out to be just "Quirrell is such a badass" then I'll be very disappointed.

  • My reason for choosing A over C wrt: possessing Quirrell is not that Quirrell lying is implausible (that much is entirely likely) but that it raises the question of why, if there is a plausible reason, and Harry was invited to think of one, he didn't come up with any.

That said, we're only getting cherry-picked fragments of Harry's thinking, and he's being manipulated anyway. So maybe Harry just isn't thinking straight.

Still, until I see a plausible reason to believe it, I don't.

comment by Desrtopa · 2010-11-04T02:35:10.745Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Considering that Quirrell is one of the most powerful and feared wizards ever to live, sheer competence is probably the simplest explanation for him being able to perform exceptional feats of magic while handicapped.

From Bahry's perspective, the possibility that the unknown criminal he's facing is secretly the most dangerous dark wizard of modern times is unlikely enough not to merit immediate consideration. From the readers' perspective, it's an established fact.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-11-04T03:42:28.106Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Huh.

When you put it that way, it seems plausible.

In fact... you're right, and I'm wrong.

If there's a highly salient fact in play that Bahry neither knows nor can reasonably be expected to consider, which is certainly a strong possibility, then Bahry's beliefs about the situation stop being credible evidence about much of anything, and I should not be treating them that way.

I'm falling into the trap of assuming that everybody else already knows what I know.

I hereby repudiate my earlier speculations.

Thank you.

comment by knb · 2010-10-27T06:58:46.388Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Re: 54:

Harry can still salvage the situation somewhat, if I understand the ending. They're going to know Bella escaped, but Harry can still put Quirrel in his pouch (since he's in snake form) and hide with Bella under the invisibility cloak, right? Or can Aurors see through the cloak in HP:MOR? I think in canon nobody can penetrate the Cloak's invisibility.

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-27T07:11:56.006Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Moody's eye can see through the Invisibility Cloak.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-28T00:30:10.445Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

One of the systematic changes in MoR is that things which are sufficiently powerful are artifacts, and things which are artifacts are sufficiently powerful: The Marauder's Map was originally devised by Slytherin as part of the creation of Hogwarts and only slightly twisted by the Marauders (Ch. 25), and the Cloak of Invisibility is now in a class of its own compared to standard invisibility cloaks or Disillusionment (Ch. 54).

Rowling, of course, wrote that thing with Moody's eye before she decided the Cloak of Invisibility was a major artifact. So if Moody's eye can still see through it in MoR, it's going to be because either Moody's eye is also a major artifact, or, more likely, a specialized artifact devoted to seeing through invisibility (a specialized, specific artifact can defeat a generally more powerful artifact if the specialization is narrow enough).

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-28T03:25:35.039Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Wow... I had imagined that Moody lost his eye in a fight or something -- but it would be way more awesome if he cut it out intentionally, to replace it with an eye more suited for the hunt.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-10-29T12:21:56.962Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The idea of Moody as a voluntarily enhanced magical cyborg is awesome indeed.

In fact, the entire notion of human enhancement using magic would be an interesting theme to explore. It's already been done to some degree with the idea of defeating death and Harry making a mental note to research mind-altering spells in chapter 12 (intelligence explosion?), but things like Moody's eye and Wormtail's hand (which was strong enough to crush stones) show that there are also ways for Wizards to improve their abilities by replacing body parts with magical counterparts. Seeing what the wizarding world and/or Harry think of such ideas would be pretty interesting.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-28T14:29:56.107Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And very Odin-esque.

comment by Psy-Kosh · 2010-10-28T14:38:22.046Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Mad-Eye Modin?

comment by gwern · 2010-10-28T15:59:32.900Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd read a crossover between the Elder Edda and Harry Potter; certainly it's no stranger than HP & Christianity.

Even better might be a triple crossover of Norse mythology, Harry Potter - and H. P. (Lovecraft).

comment by gwillen · 2010-11-01T20:59:08.414Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Calls to mind:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_Vecna

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-28T02:39:48.973Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

the Cloak of Invisibility is now in a class of its own compared to standard invisibility cloaks or Disillusionment

As you already know, this is already true in canon; it's just that, as you say, it took Rowling a while to decide this.

I do like that you gave the Map such a great pedigree; it really was too powerful for a few students to make on their own.

comment by pjeby · 2010-10-28T03:41:15.612Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Harry can still put Quirrel in his pouch (since he's in snake form)

They can't touch each other, so no. Quirrel also obviously knows this, because his pre-mission prep was carefully designed to avoid them touching each other or casting any spells on each other, vs. easier ways to accomplish the same tasks.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-28T03:46:37.902Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In canon there are ways to penetrate it. Mad-Eye Moody's magic eye can see through it.

comment by DaveX · 2010-10-27T13:45:38.414Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Auror Bahry threatened some "area effect curses" and "anti-disillusionment" charms, so they seem to have some effective methods if they suspect invisible adversaries.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-10-25T09:09:21.444Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Chapters 51-54: bravo! Some of the best writing so far. My new favorite line from the fic: "it was a down payment on everything that Harry meant to accomplish with his life". I immediately had to rewatch the training montage from the 2008 film "Wanted" that starts at about 46:00 to get more of the same emotion.

comment by dclayh · 2010-10-28T05:32:45.794Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Some of the best writing so far.

On the other hand, it also contains this sentence:

Something precious and irreplaceable inside Harry withered like dry grass and vanished forever.

which appears to mean nothing and serve no purpose except to irritate me by reminding me of terrible BDSM erotica.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-28T15:33:15.567Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Whaaaa? I don't think you and I have been reading the same terrible BDSM erotica.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-10-28T18:15:10.937Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think I've been reading the same terrible BDSM erotica as dclayh. It's the last three words, where it slips over into telling, and telling with histrionic exaggeration. (If this were terrible erotica, I would suspect the author of getting a little too excited at this point.)

"Irreplaceable" is dubious as well. Are we, nevertheless, going to see it replaced, and in less time than forever? Only you know that at this point, but if so, the sentence is wrong. On the other hand, if the sentence is literally true, it seems a gratuitous spoiler to reveal it, a random grabbing of a fact out of the narrative future and thrusting it in front of the reader.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-01T06:24:46.964Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

‘Something precious inside Harry withered like dry grass.’ also has the advantage of brevity. It now reads to me like a good sentence.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-11-01T11:39:41.962Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also has an interesting implication, which may or not be what Eliezer wants-- individual blades of grass die, but grass regrows.

comment by thomblake · 2010-11-02T14:04:09.932Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Irreplaceable" is dubious as well. Are we, nevertheless, going to see it replaced, and in less time than forever? Only you know that at this point, but if so, the sentence is wrong. On the other hand, if the sentence is literally true, it seems a gratuitous spoiler to reveal it, a random grabbing of a fact out of the narrative future and thrusting it in front of the reader.

The narration has largely been from Harry's point of view, and so if Harry thinks that it's gone forever, that's a reasonable thing to state.

Also, a line like that one can be fine if it's just pointing out a connection that the audience should have made already. For instance, if we were talking about Harry losing his virginity, it would be okay to point out that some part of Harry's innocence had been lost forever (he can't un-lose it).

comment by bogdanb · 2010-11-03T11:50:20.678Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If a male who just lost his virginity is obliviated about that particular fact, is any part of his innocence lost?

comment by Perplexed · 2010-11-03T15:16:08.811Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Only if he develops a rash, or his T-cell count falls.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-03T15:32:18.591Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If a male who just lost his virginity is obliviated about that particular fact, is any part of his innocence lost?

Not in the emotional and psychological sense that 'innocence' is sometimes used. However sometimes 'innocence' is (or, particularly, has been) hijacked for a more crude but less literal meaning. Like 'know' or even just 'powder my nose'. That kind of trivial boolean innocence is lost.

comment by Document · 2010-11-03T20:32:32.736Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not in the emotional and psychological sense that 'innocence' is sometimes used.

Not necessarily, if Obliviate doesn't literally restore your brain to the exact state it was in before the period in question.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-04T16:56:22.936Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hmmm. Now I'm wondering whether obliviation could be exploited to enhance the experience of early (but not technically first) sexual encounters. If one maintained the changes to confidence and presumably sexually relevant skills but also maintained the excitement, anticipation and perception of novelty of the first time...

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-05T03:16:34.794Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Didn't Madonna have a song about this?

comment by Document · 2010-11-05T04:01:16.025Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sort of implemented in John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos:

My guess was this: He wanted this to be his first kiss. At the moment, it was. If the experiment worked, and he got his memory back, this memory would still contain, nevertheless, in all innocence and all solemnity, love's first kiss.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-05T04:18:06.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good book?

comment by Document · 2010-11-05T05:09:56.456Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Eh. Not so much that I feel compelled to read the third one.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-11-03T21:29:08.984Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Restoring the exact brain state is probably overkill.

I'd expect resetting to their previous values the connection-strengths in the portion of the conceptual activation network centered around to restore what I understand by "innocence" in this context.

In fact, it might be sufficient (assuming you didn't have the old values lying around to support a real reset) to just lower those connection-strengths by a constant factor. Which would perhaps be installing a new innocence rather than restoring the old one, but not only do I suspect it would be very hard to tell the difference, I'm not actually sure the distinction means anything in the first place.

Anyway, perhaps I'm just being pedantic. But it seems worthwhile, in a community that is often concerned with mind-as-algorithm rather than mind-as-attribute-of-brain, to acknowledge the distinction.

As long as I'm here, I should mention a third approach: activating an additional node that inhibits . A lot of real-world attempts at preserving innocence seem to operate this way, although it seems to me that the result is nothing at all like the innocence they purport to preserve.

comment by WrongBot · 2010-11-03T15:24:44.495Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose that would depend on how one defines virginity. And innocence, for that matter; the two need not be synonymous.

comment by MartinB · 2010-11-03T15:37:12.355Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AManIsNotAVirgin

comment by WrongBot · 2010-11-03T16:01:55.782Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah. I guess the laws of narrative causality demand that Draco Malfoy actually be a female 13 year-old rapist pregnant with Harry's baby. Given what he's up against, Harry really needs to be as fully-qualified a protagonist as possible.

I wonder if Dumbledore was the one who arranged it...

comment by MartinB · 2010-11-03T19:18:38.311Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Males don't get raped. At least not till 1992. There will be a trope for that too.

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-11-03T19:51:11.405Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, what's meant by this?

comment by MartinB · 2010-11-03T20:02:36.790Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This trope: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RapeIsOkWhenItIsFemaleOnMale and this movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disclosure_(film) Which brought the topic of males getting raped into the realm of the acceptable legal topics. Obviously it is not okay to rape anyone, but in many cases males have problems getting heard when it happens to them. Same goes for domestic violence.

Edit: added 2 missing words

comment by Document · 2010-11-03T20:29:27.427Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Huh. I initially upvoted assuming it was a reference to some law passed in the UK.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-10-28T14:21:13.722Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The sentence would be greatly improved by deleting its last three words.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-23T14:19:50.673Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

New chapter.

In the lack of Comed-Tea, I suggest taking a sip of something before the final line.

Regarding the fact that, at the start of the scene, Quirrell skips one of the thirty security Charms, the most straightforward explanation is that it was just the one preventing time-travel within the room, but could there have been a more devious purpose?

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-24T01:35:21.073Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What seems strange to me is going to such a convoluted setup just to speak privately, when they already have a way of doing so. Either Quirrell doesn't actually trust the privacy of Mary's Room, or he's up to something. The latter seems more likely.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-24T02:51:25.782Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe they're headed straight to Azkaban and they need Mary's Room as their alibi.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-24T03:07:28.960Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe not "need", but could use as a precaution. Getting located as hypothetical culprits is too close to failure for expected outcome. On the other hand, what alibi given timeturners?

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-24T03:58:35.320Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Harry is bound to be a potential culprit in Dumbledore's mind, since he knows about the Patronus 2.0 and invisibility cloak. Although any alibi that places Harry with Quirrell is liable to increase Dumbledore's suspicions instead of reducing them, no matter how airtight it seems.

comment by ata · 2010-10-24T04:07:04.011Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Although any alibi that places Harry with Quirrell is liable to increase Dumbledore's suspicions instead of reducing them, no matter how airtight it seems.

This would provide an opportunity to have Harry explain conservation of expected evidence to Dumbledore, which is very slight evidence that it's going to happen (and would make a fun scene, in any case).

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-24T00:50:55.452Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would guess that he omitted the one preventing anyone from apparating into the room. They have to get back in somehow in a few hours.

comment by topynate · 2010-10-24T01:06:29.738Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's almost it. My bet is that the invisibility cloak detector is the missing charm. Harry and Quirrell are already in the room when they arrive for the first time, and as soon as they see themselves leave via Time-Turner, they take the cloak off and finish their meal before leaving. But yeah, they have to be in the room at the same time that a bunch of charms are on it, so they can't seal it off completely.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-24T02:10:24.113Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure you (and VN) have it right. EY commented (to VN) that someone had already figured it out, and your theory had already appeared in a comment at the main fanfic review site.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-24T01:05:50.046Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

They have to get back in somehow in a few hours.

They don't. They just need to already be there, which opens another possibility for the omitted Charm: to avoid detecting/incapacitating themselves.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-23T14:45:26.783Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Conservation of Detail. Obviously it means something; with some imagination on your part you could deduce what.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-23T16:45:48.743Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I can't see how it's possible to deduce such things, in the sense of obtaining an answer associated with high degree of confidence. It seems to be hindsight bias on your part to assume it's deducible, and similarly for some of the other hidden "facts" (or, alternatively, you meant to say something else, and didn't mean to imply high degree of confidence being obtainable, but I can't imagine what).

(Imagination allows noticing promising hypotheses, where a person lacking said imagination would need to learn that hypothesis from someone else. But it doesn't allow making confident conclusions despite lack of information, where uncertainty is appropriate. So there could be hypotheses which are better than any other possible hypothesis, but none of them would be "the deduced answer". If you argue that imagination is the problem, you need to be able to argue for your conclusion in a way that fends off other possible conclusions, and not just consistently determine your conclusion as an author by adding more facts to the story.)

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-23T22:58:38.204Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Saw someone else do it already.

Actually this is a fallacy I've seen coming up a lot in discussions of the fic. People are so enchanted with being able to come up with many possibilities that they forget to ask which are the probable possibilities. Sure, the laws change somewhat when you're matching wits with an author instead of reality; but when it comes to people talking about lots of other possible explanations for the Mendelian pattern in wizard genetics, for example, they seem to be doing a Culture of Objections thing where they declare victory as soon as they come up with an overlooked possibility that can be used to reject the paper, never mind the prior probability on it.

I've seen this answer gotten, so I know it's gettable.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-23T23:56:32.404Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Saw someone else do it already.

Do what? Confidently name the "official" hypothesis, guess teacher's password? There certainly are good hypotheses, possibly one hypothesis significantly better than any other, which makes the probability of privileging the one you had in mind non-trivial and thus explains your observations. It doesn't follow that it's correct to assign high level of certainty to that hypothesis (as a within-world event, not prediction about what you had in mind, as the latter would be biased towards the best guess and away from the long tail).

(My best guess in this particular case is "enable time turners (in some sense)", but I won't be confident it's indeed so, it could be something else. ETA: On reflection, "revealing if someone is already in the room" is a better guess, although one could sidestep the defenses by entering from the future as well as from the past, and so not be present at the time of the casting.)

comment by cousin_it · 2010-10-25T07:49:25.730Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Seconding Nesov's point. If you ask people to guess the number you have in mind, and someone says "three" (while others say "one" or "five" or "a hundred"), and you did in fact have in mind "three", that doesn't prove the answer is "gettable". Not saying that it isn't in fact gettable, only that you need a stricter test. For example, sometimes ask someone else to post a comment with the correct answer (or do it yourself using an alias) and see how it fares compared to other hypotheses.

comment by mwaser · 2010-11-03T12:14:56.700Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I assume that it's been suggested before but . . . . may I suggest (cast a vote) that you spend a bit more effort to advertise HP&tMoR in more places? It's awesomely accessible (especially when considered in comparison to virtually anything else with close to the explanatory power) and an awful lot of fun to boot. (Actually, I should be suggesting that everyone here who likes it should make an effort to advertise it to all their friends. It certainly should have far, far more than 578 people who Like it on Facebook.).

comment by wnoise · 2010-11-04T06:09:39.368Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fanfiction is low status. Signaling considerations keep me from doing this with anyone associated with my offline identity.

Sad, but true.

comment by simplicio · 2010-11-04T06:13:48.631Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've found integrating the two identities to be a very pleasant experience. A great cognitive dissonance reducer.

comment by bogdanb · 2010-11-03T12:00:46.580Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, the likeliest (i.e., simplest IMO) in-world hypothesis is that Azkhaban already has lots of wards on it, and one of the “standard” ones was not necessary because of that.

ConservationOfDetail suggests that’s not the case, but I don’t quite see how we can deduce what you’re trying to do, especially keeping in mind that authors can do the same deductions we do and like to twist things by just picking a less-likely hypothesis and explain it after the fact (or just make the dice fall that way).

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-05T03:14:53.019Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They're not in Azkaban at the time; this is the discussion in Mary's Room.

comment by bogdanb · 2010-11-16T15:32:10.154Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, you’re right. I got confused about which chapter we were discussing, sorry about that.

That said, something similar applies here: Quirell did 29 charms in Mary’s room, and 30 outside of it. A very simple hypothesis would be that the 30th was something already “implemented” in Mary’s room. (In fact, given that Mary’s room is described as particularly safe even before the charms, the surprising thing is he didn’t do significantly more than 30 charms outside it. The uniqueness of Mary’s room suggests that it would be hard to duplicate it, but it seems strange that nothing could be done to at least approximate it.)

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-18T08:11:13.827Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But didn't he do all 30 charms on a previous visit to Mary's room?

There are too many chapters now for me to track this down easily.

comment by topynate · 2010-10-24T00:34:50.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What if: a) Quirrell and Harry's actions in ch 51 only make sense in light of their planning to do something in particular, and b) doing that thing requires a charm not to be in place? I think that counts as a correct deduction.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-24T00:39:15.607Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(Somewhat) plausible hypothesis, not something to be confidently believed (which is the working interpretation of "deduction" I'm using, as stated at the beginning of the comment).

comment by topynate · 2010-10-24T01:30:24.256Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From the differing ways we treated the same two hypotheses just now I think we're disagreeing on how fine a distinction we accept between two hypotheses before we say that they're significantly different. From my perspective, apparating into the room and walking in under the cloak are functionally the same. In both cases, the purpose of leaving a charm off is to enable Q and H to walk out of the door as if they never left, and it's that which I'd say is a valid deduction. Within all the hypotheses which fit that pattern, some seem more likely than others, but perhaps none are more than plausible.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-24T02:22:30.501Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

the purpose of leaving a charm off is to enable Q and H to walk out of the door as if they never left ...

It seems so, which would seemingly provide an airtight alibi for anyone except HP and his friends.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-23T15:49:01.977Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Oh yes, I suspect it's meant to make Harry traceable. Here's my take on what's going on:

Guess One: Voldy is still an evil bastard, and in addition to that, he's immensely cocky. He lied by speaking the truth to Harry [Why else would that dialogue be there?], 'Black is innocent of being a slave to Voldy.' The truth being that she was an independently evil witch.

Guess Two: Three people excluding Voldy and Harry know that he can kill Dementors. When evil Black lass escapes, blame falls on him.

Guess Three: The lack of the security charm allows time-travel to be tracked. They see Harry going back in time shortly before the escape. Harry is ostracized by society and attacked by ministry, turns against ministry for obvious reasons.

Guess Four: The above is Voldy's plan for Harry. What actually happens is that he meets Serius and frees him, leading to a fallout between Harry and Voldy.

Well, that's that.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-10-09T01:03:41.389Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am happy to promote this fanfic on my blog, which, so far as I know, has no readers :)

comment by DaveX · 2010-11-01T21:28:15.193Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Chap 65:

Harry's treatment of the different (agents?) in his head make me wonder about the MOR Horcrux mechanics and the possibility of making copies of a being. If the horcrux copying process is repetatively damaging, like analog copies of a wax cyinder recording, there would be a degradation in each stage, and the last horcrux, Harry would be the poorest copy. Or if each horcux was same-quality, there might have been only something like limitations on the first analog-digital conversion, and successive generations of copies might be exact, like digital-to-digital. The ability to copy consciousness is interesting. One can, a la Star Trek transporters, destroy the original to keep from having duplicates, you could let either the scanning process not destroy things, or you could make the construction process repeatable. High-fidelity digital reproduction make software and IP copies have constant marginal cost, and I wonder what that might mean for copies of consciousness.

If Voldemort can have a number of horcruxes, each of which can regenerate a new Voldy, why can't he generate multiple selves from them? Would a being with the ability to copy itself do so, or not? A team of Voldemorts, or post-horcrux-Voldemorts would be more powerful and resilient than a single one. Or is Voldemort too selfish to work with himself?

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-02T05:05:57.679Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Would a being with the ability to copy itself do so, or not?

Most of them do, for reasons that should be obvious.

comment by DaveX · 2010-11-02T15:33:22.076Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Copying mind state differs from sexual or asexual reproduction. I was wondering how the MOR soul-splitting, copying, backup, imprinting, and possession mechanism works and how it might be exploited.

Could, for instance, Harry split his soul into its separate agents without the act of murder? Or is the important part of the Horcrux magic stealing someone's soul to use as media to make a copy your own soul? How close are Harry's suppositions in Ch20 to the MOR-reality?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T15:49:12.407Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Could, for instance, Harry split his soul into its separate agents without the act of murder? Or is the important part of the Horcrux magic stealing someone's soul to use as media to make a copy your own soul? How close are Harry's suppositions in Ch20 to the MOR-reality?

Evidence for a 'soul' and the need to eliminate another in order to do horcrux like magic gives some credence to theories that MoR is in a simulated world. You need to wipe out an existing virtual machine in order to put an extra instance of yours there, splitting your own may require dividing your 'soul/computational resources' between multiple instances, etc.

comment by DaveX · 2010-11-02T17:42:10.331Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How do we know that one needs to eliminate another soul in order to do horcrux-like magic?

If copies require wiping out of existing virtual machines, population growth should be impossible. Since, at least in the muggle world, population growth happens, would this be evidence against a theory of a simulated world?

Also, if the Bacon Diary is a "very recent" Horcrux, wouldn't that imply the cost to the original is not a strict division?

comment by thomblake · 2010-11-03T14:32:18.206Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How do we know that one needs to eliminate another soul in order to do horcrux-like magic?

I think that was a reference to canon - creating a horcrux requires murder (Confirmed in MoR by Dumbledore in chapter 28)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T15:45:07.930Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Copying mind state differs from sexual or asexual reproduction.

In which case change 'do' to 'would' in Toby's comment, keeping reasoning the same.

comment by DaveX · 2010-11-02T16:51:24.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm dense, but the obvious bits seem interesting. If resources are limited, each copy would end up sharing a smaller fraction of the same pool. If there is some fidelity loss in the copying, copies may have conflicting objectives. The risk of a duplicate becoming a rival seems non-trivial. If there a significant cost/damage to the original in the copying process, perhaps most would not.

MOR's horcruxing process seems different than canon, and the differences between what is required by the author's narrative, by what actually happens in biology, or by what would hypothetically happen in really-real reality given some future copying process seem non-obvious.

ETA: It seems like Toby's comment uses "is" to prove "ought", and extending that to cover future mind copying does the same.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-04T03:58:16.756Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm dense, but the obvious bits seem interesting.

You're not dense; they are interesting. It was Darwin's great discovery! And you're right to suggest that under certain conditions (such as limited resources and poor fidelity) they would not.

It seems like Toby's comment uses "is" to prove "ought"

I certainly didn't intend to say anything about ‘ought’. Maybe it's bad that most beings with the ability to copy themselves do so; then how can we stop it? (Perhaps we should limit resources and interfere with the fidelity!)

comment by DaveX · 2010-11-05T21:31:29.514Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My posts was fuzzily asking a couple things: one about what Voldemort in MOR would/should/did do, where I read your answer as that we should look to the natural world, and a more general one about beings in general, where it is obvious that they do indeed copy themselves.

In the biological world, resources are limited, and we're in competition with fairly evenly matched competitors. AI-wise, I don't see how we could effectively limit the resources or interfere with the fidelity for a sufficiently advanced AI.

Back to the particular example of horcruxes in MOR, It seems like the costs and perhaps fidelity are significantly different than canon (Bacon's diary?), and I wonder if that will have interesting implications.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-11-02T17:55:39.293Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like Toby's comment uses "is" to prove "ought", and extending that to cover future mind copying does the same.

He does not.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-29T17:51:07.642Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The rot13 use is becoming excessive in this forum, there is already a spoiler warning on the post. Let EY make a special request for it when he thinks speculation goes too far.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-29T21:13:06.355Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I think the policy should be that you do not need to rot13 anything about HMPOR 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.

More specificallly, (and I have to use rot13 here), vg'f svar gb jevgr nobhg Ibyqrzbeg pbagebyyvat Dhveeryy (jvgubhg hfvat ebg13), ohg lbh qb arrq gb hfr ebg13 vs lbh zragvba gur qryrgrq nhgube'f abgr nobhg gung be pynvz gung Jbeq bs Tbq unf rfgnoyvfurq gung D=I.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-29T22:24:06.704Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I affirm that this is what I think the policy should be. Speculation does not require spoilers.

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-11T13:49:00.833Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted for endorsing a policy that requires people to keep track of whether something is still in the current version of the fic. I didn't know until today that the thing Unnamed put in rot13 had been "disrevealed".

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-13T09:35:56.557Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted for endorsing a policy that requires people to keep track of whether something is still in the current version of the fic. I didn't know until today that the thing Unnamed put in rot13 had been "disrevealed".

I only just discovered what you meant here. I totally agree. Enforcement of 'unrevelation' spoiler policies is utterly absurd and is a norm that I would oppose rather than support.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-04-11T16:12:04.185Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

a policy that requires

The worst that can happen is that you make an error (and possibly fix it). A meaningful question could be, for example, whether the incentives drive the outcome in a wrong direction, or their enforcement is more trouble than it's worth.

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-11T17:49:14.448Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

A meaningful question could be, for example, whether the incentives drive the outcome in a wrong direction

Independent of the fact that I believe the desired outcome (less free discussion) is itself a wrong direction, it also encourages EY to be careless with authors notes in the future, due to believing he can "take them back". It also punishes people for honest mistakes.

or their enforcement is more trouble than it's worth.

Maybe 8 karma isn't a lot to you, but it's what I lost just for disagreeing, not even for violating the rule myself. I also think that rot13 is a bad choice, since it requires external programs - implementing a spoiler tag for comments the way there appears to be one in use in some article posts would reduce the burden both to discuss spoilers and to read those discussions. (this is more "compliance is more trouble than it's worth" than "enforcement is more trouble than it's worth", but it's a similar kind of problem.)

I think a likely result is that people either shy away from discussing it at all, or have it as an implicit assumption (to their unrot13ed posts) and are caught in a trap when someone who doesn't know asks what they're talking about. Or we end up with a lot of noise whenever someone who isn't aware of the rule runs into it.

comment by Random832 · 2012-04-11T19:55:32.209Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I will add, having read some of the thread again with an eye for it, that it is enforced haphazardly. I've seen numerous posts that mention it and have a positive score.

EDIT: Here's a link to my post with a list of such posts

comment by wedrifid · 2012-04-13T09:42:43.426Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

EDIT: Here's a link to my post with a list of such posts

Don't do that. You're just helping the arbitrary punishers find more targets!

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-04-13T10:27:43.367Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

never frakking mind

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-29T21:34:59.845Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it's fine to post about X without rot13

I would add: Or if X can be reasonably derived from evidence in MOR and/or canon.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-29T18:05:11.983Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder how difficult it would be to add a "Rot13 this" button to the options under each text item (that is, next to "Vote up" and "Vote down" and so forth).

That would significantly reduce the nuisance factor associated with reading r13'd posts, without the site having to give up whatever value it is people see in using them.

Not that I'm offering to write the code, or anything actually useful like that. Just ruminating.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-29T18:13:25.744Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is not an endorsement of the add-on , but if you use Firefox

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-29T18:22:20.081Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

/dave feels sheepish/

Yes, of course there would be such a thing, and I ought to have looked for it rather than proposing that the feature be built into the site itself. Clearly, my intuitions have been distorted by working on self-contained rather then Web apps for too many years.

Thanks for both the thought and the pointer.

comment by JGWeissman · 2010-10-29T18:17:00.993Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If we are going automate this, we should just use spoiler tags, so the marked text can be revealed on highlighting, or when a button is clicked or whatever.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-31T05:39:11.428Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's much too much work, and it'll be pretty bad for the website. It'll require another database query for every post on every thread (which means the site will be slower and more expensive), but it'll only be used on, what? The Harry Potter threads and the occasional brainteaser?

Textbook example of overkill.

EDIT: I misunderstood the request. I stand by it being overkill, though.

comment by ata · 2010-10-31T05:52:37.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It'll require another database query for every post on every thread (which means the site will be slower and more expensive)

Whence the extra database queries? Presumably it could all be done on the client side in JavaScript.

I agree that it would be overkill to have it on every comment, though.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-31T14:31:35.237Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How would this be done client side? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the request, but to me it sounded like he wanted to have an option to vote to rot13 posts that you think are spoilers.

Edit: To clarify, the reason I think that's what he meant is that he said it should appear next to the vote up/vote down buttons. Those only appear after you post. I suppose you could still have a client-side rot13 button down there, but it'd be a bit useless.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-01T07:00:47.854Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You would use the button to un-rot13 spoilers that the poster had already rot13-ed. It would be for the convenience of the reader only.

The Firefox add-on is even better if it can rot13 inside TEXTAREAs, which is a convenience for the writer as well.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-11-01T11:46:52.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

QuickROT sort of works inside text fields. Select, rightclick, QR, copy to clipboard, paste (your text has stayed selected).

The drawback is that QuickRot won't appear for the same text more than once, even if it's in a different text field in a different tab.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-31T06:02:14.346Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It was earlier pointed out to me that the same goal can be achieved already (and without any changes to database interaction) by means of a browser plugin, which is a superior approach all around and makes this whole thread moot. So, yes, agreed that it was a lousy idea in the first place.

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-29T18:12:54.058Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

EY has made such a special request for it, and most of the rot13 content here is in compliance with that particular request.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-29T19:04:29.480Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've noted a general request to rot13 actual knowledge of future events, but that this does not cover speculation on future events or on possible reasons for past event.

I've seen only a specific request from EY on a specific post, but it wasn't clear to me that this expanded the general rule.

Did I miss a critical point here?

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-29T19:09:08.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Did I miss a critical point here?

My answer in more annoying rot13, to be very explicit:

Vg jnf erirnyrq ol RL va na nhgube'f abgr gung Dhveeryy vf Ibyqrzbeg, orpnhfr ur jnf sehfgengrq gung ur rkcrpgrq uvf ernqref gb vaghvg gung ohg fbzr crbcyr jrer abg trggvat vg. Ubjrire, ur'f orra pbaivaprq gung vg orvat nzovthbhf jurgure Dhveeryy vf Ibyqrzbeg vf n tbbq guvat, fb unf erzbirq gur nofheqyl oyngnag uvag ur oevrsyl nqqrq gb bar puncgre naq unf orra pbafvqrevat vg n fcbvyre rire fvapr. Nyfb eryngrq vf gur snpg gung Dhveeryy!zbeg ghearq gur Cvbarre cyndhr vagb n ubepehk.

comment by David_Allen · 2010-10-29T19:32:11.008Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perfect, thanks for the clarification.

I will respond in kind to maintain that rule:

Vg vf snve sebz pnaba, naq bhgfvqr bs RL'f fgngrzragf gb nffhzr D=I. Ng yrnfg nf snve nf nal bgure fcrphyngvba va guvf sbehz. Fb V jbhyq nethr gung pbzzragf yvxr guvf bar sebz lbh ner vaureragyl serr sebz gung pbagnzvangvba, hayrff lbh ersre gb RL'f pbasvezngvba qverpgyl:

gur Qrzragbef ner Qrngu vapneangr naq Dhveeryy qrsvrq qrngu ol perngvat n ubepehk, abg gb zragvba qlvat naq abg fgnlvat qrnq. Gurl jnag gur cevmr gung'f orra qravrq gurz.

Just my opinion, perhaps we should let the lawyers fight it out. :)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-26T03:34:07.538Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a general question based on the observations that Harry doesn't seem to be as acute as usual in the most recent chapter-- could there be a spell on him which is taking his default ability to check on whether things make sense down a few notches? What would it take for him to notice something like that?

comment by Perplexed · 2010-10-26T03:52:39.487Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would he even notice if he were under an Imperius? Or would his consciousness be busy maintaining the illusion of free agency?

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-26T07:20:57.591Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Would he even notice if he were under an Imperius?

In canon, Imperius causes a sense of calm happiness. We'd notice it whenever the narration took his PoV, even if Harry didn't.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-26T13:13:47.584Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Harry's weird, and I'm not going to make a definitive statement about what he can notice. Him noticing that he's under an Imperius curse would probably be worth a chapter, and I have a feeling the time turner might be involved somehow.

General question: could the be such a thing as a slow Imperius, so that the effect looks to everyone like a natural change of mind?

Another general question: Is there a way to check people for any spells that might be affecting them?

comment by gwern · 2010-10-26T14:35:11.387Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

General question: could the be such a thing as a slow Imperius, so that the effect looks to everyone like a natural change of mind?

Sure, why not? It's magic. A slow Imperius is no weirder than many other already used spells.

What does canon think? Well... I believe our only real POV from an Imperius'd person is when 'Madeye Moody' casts Imperius on Harry during a Defense class, and IIRC Harry's mind is instantly & profoundly messed up even before Moody issues any commands; likewise, the imprisoned Barty Crouch is well aware that he is being controlled. Similarly for the Gringotts Goblin in Deathly Hallows.

The chapter title, IMO, points to clever social engineering, not magic.

comment by LucasSloan · 2010-10-16T07:23:38.563Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

New Chapter: 50.

comment by hairyfigment · 2010-10-15T02:45:02.609Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In part 3 of this thread people talked about the likely locations of 5 Horcruxes and the riddle that "Quirrell" mentions. Somebody mentioned the pun, the fact that canon!Voldemort's mother named him Tom Marvolo Riddle. I don't think anyone pointed out that he made himself the answer. 'What exists in every Greek or magical element?' Sounds like Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Canon!Voldemort infected historical artifacts with parts of himself because he valued, and wanted to see himself as the fruition of, the history of wizardry in general and Hogwarts in particular. (I think Rowling gave him a Gryffindor artifact in the form of Harry Potter in order to show that Voldemort's evil existed in some form throughout that history and no House escaped completely.) MoR!Voldemort probably also values magical history, but sees it as part of a vastly larger whole. So he distributed his backups throughout the elements of reality as pictured in magical history. In so doing he happened to corrupt the Pioneer 11 plaque, but any message there seems like a function of his desire to rule humanity at least as much as his alleged admiration for the Pioneer program. If EY decided to continue Rowling's metaphor, he probably locates the source of MoR!Voldemort's evil in reality itself, or values drawn from archaic thinking, or both.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-10-08T10:23:35.397Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In ch. 47 Harry teaches Draco how to cast a Patronus, but in ch. 48 he refuses to teach Hermione. Why?

comment by hairyfigment · 2010-10-15T01:36:46.983Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The more I think about this the more that bit in ch. 48 seems like a mistake by the author. Harry did tell her. She presumably still has the "42" envelope containing the piece of paper where Harry wrote the secret obliquely. Ch. 48 reads like EY forgot that.

Edit: OK, technically Harry implied back then that she should avoid reading it unless she had to, so Hermione followed his wishes when she put the paper away unread. How do they expect this to work?

"That feels like a dementor. Better apparate away -- oops, can't do that, another wizard must have made an anti-apparation hex. Better pull out that wax-sealed paper I always carry and calmly open it with one hand, using the other to hold my wand in case I need it to defend against my postulated wizard opponent, and then calmly read Harry's hint while hoping the dementor doesn't make me forget who Harry is, and then figure out what he meant, and then apply the knowledge to the problem of duplicating a spell that Harry prepared carefully in a relatively safe situation."

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-08T10:26:44.277Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

He refuses to teach the advanced kind, and expects she can't perform the regular kind in any case (which she tried). Draco couldn't learn regular Patronus because, being a Slytherin, he never made a honest effort.

comment by JGWeissman · 2010-10-08T17:41:57.996Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Harry should be able to help Hermione find a happy thought appropiate for Patronus 1.0, as he did for Draco.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-08T17:46:05.403Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Inability to find a happy thought is not the problem.

comment by JGWeissman · 2010-10-09T02:17:56.649Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Not all happy thoughts work. Harry suggested to Draco a particular happy thought that would work: his father protecting him from human frailty. This is appropriate to protect against a symbol of death, as Harry's father buying him books is not.

So no, Hermione's problem is not that she can't find a happy thought, but that she doesn't know what sort of happy thought she is supposed to find.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-10-09T06:20:37.859Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Um, it's pretty much established the reason Hermione can't cast an animal Patronus is because she doesn't have faith in an afterlife...

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2010-10-09T09:09:42.176Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it was established one way or another what the reason for Hermione was.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-15T05:27:51.957Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The standard Patronus "feels wrong" when Hermione tries to cast it, just as it does to Harry.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-17T08:31:58.498Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-14T05:11:48.486Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Really? Cite? I didn't catch that.

Edit: Answered by EY in a nibling of this comment.

comment by Matt_Stevenson · 2010-10-09T00:57:08.585Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Didn't Harry also swear to keep what he and Draco experiment with secret? This is why he never told her about the magic gene either, unless I am misremembering things.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-15T22:14:37.354Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Harry teaches Draco to cast Patronus 1.0, Hermione wants to learn Patronus 2.0. Harry doesn't want anyone to know of 2.0, so he keeps it secret. Draco learning of 1.0 is a net gain in terms of Dementor containment -- he represents all of Slytherin.

Hermione learning of 2.0 would be a 'net gain' at face, but too risky to allow. If others learn of the secret from her (or read her mind to find out) and the secret spreads, then it's a net loss for Dementor containment. You gain a second 'lifer' (I wanted to say Dementor killer, but that's a bit oxymoronic) and potentially lose thousands of normal guards.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-09T23:32:15.058Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In ch. 47 Harry teaches Draco how to cast a Patronus, but in ch. 48 he refuses to teach Hermione. Why?

So the parable supports his intended real world lesson to the greatest extent possible. The details of the whole subplot are actually extremely well done. Some of the transposition is subtle enough for me to be not quite sure whether it was intended or merely coincidental.

Mind you, any persuasiveness is dependent on actually thinking Harry is making good decisions. But at least it serves as a medium by which he can educate (a more positive word than 'indoctrinate' but something in between the two would be better) without violating the whole point of secrecy by explaining why he believes a real world secret should be kept - which would in most cases sabotage the whole exercise.

comment by frozenchicken · 2010-10-11T11:19:29.521Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What Harry SHOULD have said was that the information was highly secret and that as she wasn't adept in Occlumency he wasn't even able to tell her. It wouldn't have gone and explained his motivations clearly, which we all know he loves to do, but it would have answered the question clearly without implying that he doesn't trust her. That's sorta his strength and his weakness.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-11T11:26:24.686Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It wouldn't be the real reason, and if he understands that, it would also be a lie.

comment by frozenchicken · 2010-10-11T12:06:31.231Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fair call. That said, including it in the reasoning whilst still doing his usual explaining would have markedly improved things without having to be dishonest.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-08T07:15:17.353Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Bah. Doubly a cliffhanger. I don't like waiting!

Shame about the Basilisk. That creature would have been almost as handy as a familiar as Dumbledore's phoenix!

comment by blogospheroid · 2010-10-08T09:27:35.505Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Slitherin's monster would have been a great snake, but most definitely not a bassilisk in HPMOR. If it had been created to transmit knowledge, it would be some other kind of serpent. Otherwise, one look and oops! there goes the heir of slytherin.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-08T13:38:28.995Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Otherwise, one look and oops! there goes the heir of slytherin.

Survival of the fittest. Sounds like something Slytherin would do to weed out potentially unworthy heirs. ;)

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-17T05:05:43.722Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In canon you can look at it indirectly (e.g. through a camera lens, or a reflection). You get injured, but not dead. Maybe if you look at it through your Snake Animagus eyes, you'll be okay.

It seems to be required that the Heir be a Parseltongue. It's not a stretch to require that the Heir also be a Snake Animagus -- after all, there are many more people who can speak snake than become snake. In canon, Harry wasn't the Heir but could still access the chamber -- apparently any Parseltongue could have. In MoR, that would mean any Parseltongue could have accessed all of Slytherin's secrets. But only the Heir of Slytherin can access the chamber (according to legend?). Therefore Parseltongue is not sufficient to gain access (if the legend is true).

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

-- Chapter 49

I venture that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets responds to Snake Animagus Parseltongue but not Common Parseltongue.

comment by alethiophile · 2010-10-24T19:42:33.438Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I read that quote as saying that snake Animagi were more common than Parselmouths, because snake Animagus could be learned, but Parseltongue has to be transmitted directly or indirectly through Slytherin's line (directly, by genetics a la V, or indirectly, by bit-of-soul transfer a la HP. Though Rowling never says whether Harry lost his Parseltongue after the bit of V's soul in his died in DH.)

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-25T03:11:56.130Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

/shrug if so then there goes that theory. I had thought Parseltongue was just rare. Didn't realize you needed to be one of Slytherin's heirs (or get in through a loophole like HP).

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-10-24T20:36:22.858Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't say in the books, but I think she's said that he did.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-11-02T18:59:14.680Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

New thread after 500 comments.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-28T17:14:43.522Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

chp 54

So much for Harry's intent to kill. The Most Dangerous Student in the Classroom gets to his first real battle and he does just the opposite.

I guess Harry's Gryffindor/Patronus side is leading the way here, not his Slytherin/dark side (as I mentioned in the last paragraph of my other comment).

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-28T18:00:32.641Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it wasn't an individual who deserved death. Harry may have an intent to kill but he isn't going to direct it at someone like an Auror without a lot more provocation.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2010-10-27T18:53:50.610Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

ch53

(Harry had asked why Professor Quirrell couldn't be the one to play the part of the Dark Lord, and Professor Quirrell had pointed out that there was no plausible reason for him to be possessed by the shade of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.)

Also... why in the world is Harry using the labels "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" and "Dark Lord" in his thinking, rather than "Voldemort"? Ditto Quirrell. It seems pointlessly imprecise.

We've established that there can be multiple Dark Lords, maybe even at the same time, and I see no clear reason to believe there's only been one in the last century. And one can manufacture "He Who Must Not Be Named"s to one's heart's content. Is this deliberate, either on the author's part or (bizarrely) the characters'?

[edit: oops. I'm a doof; thomblake points to the relevant cite below. (Thanks thomblake!) Which now makes me really wonder whether there's a massive piece of misdirection going on along the lines of what I reference below.

What I ought to do is go back through the fic and see who says what about the-presumed-to-be-singular-entity variously referred to as "Dark Lord," "He Who Must Not Be Named," "Voldemort", "Tom Riddle", etc. and decide what I believe about that entity's singularity.

Well, no. What I ought to do is get back to work. Here I go...)

Now that I think about it, this would be a decidedly clever strategy for a mastermind in the HPverse has to adopt.

That is, suppose I establish the "He Who Must Not Be Named" convention and then order a trusted (male) lieutenant to do something, and order everyone never to call him by name, on pain of death.

Now, "He Who Must Not Be Named" is doing that thing, while I am doing something else (say, establishing an alibi).

There's a term for the fallacy this takes advantage of, where I confuse myself by forgetting that the referent for a label like "the President of the United States" can change between uses; I've forgotten what it is.

Of course, this wouldn't work with any forensic technique that actually involved interacting with objects in the world outside one's mind.

But magic in the HP-verse (and, really, magic in fiction more generally) is so bizarrely inconsistent about when it's interacting with objects and when it's interacting with labels that it might be worthwhile.

comment by thomblake · 2010-10-27T19:05:25.171Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Also... why in the world is Harry using the labels "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" and "Dark Lord" in his thinking, rather than "Voldemort"? Ditto Quirrell. It seems pointlessly imprecise.

In canon, using Voldemort's name was highly discouraged. Also:

Chapter 3:

"Voldemort?" Harry whispered. It should have been funny, but it wasn't. The name burned with a cold feeling, ruthlessness, diamond clarity, a hammer of pure titanium descending upon an anvil of yielding flesh. A chill swept over Harry even as he pronounced the word, and he resolved then and there to use safer terms like You-Know-Who.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-28T02:48:38.618Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We've established that there can be multiple Dark Lords, maybe even at the same time, and I see no clear reason to believe there's only been one in the last century.

In fact, there have been at least two Dark Lords in this (the 20th) century, since Grindelwald (defeated 1945) was also a Dark Lord. (But in canon, he is still alive at this time and imprisoned, although in Nurmengard rather than in Azkaban.)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-28T02:54:23.892Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do we know he is still alive? We know he was alive late enough for him to overlap with Voldemort. Is there any canon that says he is alive by the beginning of book 1?

comment by gwern · 2010-10-28T02:59:02.481Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Who, Grindelwald? He's alive up to Deathly Hallows, where Voldemort breaks into Nuremberg, I mean, Nurmengard, and kills Grindelwald for control of the Master Wand.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-10-28T03:00:49.074Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. I forgot that those events occurred in Book 7. For some reason I misremembered how Voldemort found out that Dumbledore had the Master Wand.

comment by lmnop · 2010-10-28T02:58:09.691Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In book 7, Voldemort visits Grindelwald at Nurmengard in order to interrogate him about the location of the Elder Wand, and then kills him. So Grindelwald was definitely alive in book 1.

comment by DaveX · 2010-10-27T16:44:55.006Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ch 54 (emphasis in original)

Are things like the "insanely powerful opponent", the spell caught on the end of the wand, and wizardry run wild and then controlled when "[t]he man threw his wand away from himself (he threw away his wand!)" like stuff in canon, Or is this something we should take particular note of?

Perhaps Voldemort/Quirrell are manifestations of something insanely powerful that really does not want to be examined by human science?

comment by PeterS · 2010-10-27T07:28:41.691Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 51 (emphasis added):

As Professor Quirrell stood up from where he'd bent over by the pouch, and put away his wand, his wand happened to point in Harry's direction, and there was a brief crawling sensation on Harry's chest near where the Time-Turner lay, like something creepy had passed very close by without touching him.

Chapter 54:

"Sorry," whispered the eleven-year-old boy, "here," and he held out the wand toward Bahry.

Bahry barely stopped himself from snarling at the traumatized boy who'd just saved his life. Instead he overrode the impulse with a sigh, and just stretched out a hand to take the wand. "Look, son, you're really not supposed to point a wand at -"

The wand's end twisted lightly beneath Bahry's hand just as the boy whispered, "Somnium."

Seems to indicate that Quirrell casted some kind of spell on Harry at that point in Chapter 51.

Anyone have any ideas as to what this is about?

Slowly, slowly, as Professor Quirrell had instructed, the pouch began to float toward Harry, who waited alert for any sign the pouch was opening, in which case Harry was to use the Hover Charm to propel it away from him as fast as possible.

Why does he need to float the pouch about at all? Why not just pick it up?

comment by pengvado · 2010-10-27T12:47:49.720Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Seems to indicate that Quirrell casted some kind of spell on Harry at that point in Chapter 51.

That's the telekinesis that allowed Harry to activate the time-turner. If Harry's hypothesis about the sense of doom being magical disharmony is correct, then the creepiness would just be from getting close to one of Quirrell's spells. And the subterfuge with the wand direction isn't intended to fool Harry (who knew that Quirrell planned to cast telekinesis), but rather is Quirrell's distrust of the privacy wards.

comment by jsalvatier · 2010-10-10T14:42:07.556Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer mentioned an RSS feed in the author notes. Can you actually get one? I was under the impression that you could not.

comment by cwillu · 2010-10-11T05:23:33.641Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

http://demented.no-ip.org/~feep/rss_proxy.cgi?5782108

You can also get email alerts of new chapters, directly from fanfiction.net

comment by Snowyowl · 2010-10-07T22:46:47.111Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So many questions... For one, Quirrel is pretty good at magic - did he figure out a way past the Interdict of Merlin, or is he just that good? And does he still have You-Know-Who in the back of his head in this continuity?

comment by knb · 2010-10-08T00:18:43.235Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What was the Interdict of Merlin again? I googled but none of the links were defining, just referencing.

If Vold. is in his head, it isn't visible, Quirrel no longer wears the turban he used to hide it in canon.

comment by Matt_Stevenson · 2010-10-08T04:58:11.877Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

From Ch. 23

There's something called the Interdict of Merlin which stops anyone from getting knowledge of powerful spells out of books, even if you find and read a powerful wizard's notes they won't make sense to you, it has to go from one living mind to another

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-08T00:20:54.038Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ahh, was that what Harrizer called his plan to stop the misuse of magic or knowledge in general by limiting it to people who can discover it for themselves?

If so I was actually trying to do the reverse lookup a week or so ago.

comment by knb · 2010-10-08T00:27:17.022Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

OK, I think that is it. H.P. thinks its why witches are no longer as powerful as they used to be. The idea was to prevent dangerous fools from having powerful magic, but it also means a lot of ancient magic was lost as some spells were never orally transferred, and there was no written copy to be discovered later.

comment by blogospheroid · 2010-10-11T04:33:39.330Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It was the ancient magical equivalent to an existential risk prevention mechanism.

comment by cwillu · 2010-10-08T02:05:01.332Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And note the hat's commentary on the matter.

comment by NQbass7 · 2010-10-08T10:56:02.304Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"There's something called the Interdict of Merlin which stops anyone from getting knowledge of powerful spells out of books, even if you find and read a powerful wizard's notes they won't make sense to you, it has to go from one living mind to another."

Chapter 23

comment by gwern · 2010-10-08T00:03:54.573Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We don't know. Maybe he is Voldemort sobered up and his magic skillz are from the basilisk; maybe Voldemort is a parasite again, or maybe he and Quirrel have 'traded utility-functions'. Tons of speculation has been offered - indeed, one might say that of the many mysteries in MoR, Quirrel is chief.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-10-08T12:33:10.347Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer has drawn attention to the fact that Quirrell just has a bald patch on his head, which he does not conceal, where canon!Quirrell has Voldemort's face. This suggests that MoR!Quirrell at one time had Voldemort's face stuck there, but somehow got free of it. In which case, where is Voldemort now? Who would be absolutely the worst person, from Harry's point of view, to turn out to be possessed by Voldemort?

Dumbledore.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-08T22:15:03.323Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Who would be absolutely the worst person, from Harry's point of view, to turn out to be possessed by Voldemort?

Harry.

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-10-08T14:48:44.881Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore? I think the worst situation for him would be if it was hermione

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-10-08T16:41:36.107Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Harry is smart enough not to be so scope-insensitive. It would be personally painful for him if Hermione had succumbed to that fate, but disastrous for the world which Harry wants to save if Dumbledore had. Dumbledore's power, plus Voldemort's own, plus what he got from Slytherin's Monster looks like a challenge fit for a superrational scientist-wizard.

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-10-08T18:30:18.970Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Although my point was mainly on the emotional level, I don't know... even with Dumbledores political power and magical experience, possessed!Hermione would be a much greater threat to the world than possessed!Dumbledore, given her memory, her sanity, and the speed she learns spells. combined with the motivation of wanting to take over the world, I would expect her to be much stronger than Dumbledore before long. (both in combat and politically) Though she seems like an unlikely choice for a muggle-born hater.

On another note, I do not think that Voldemort left Quirrel for someone else, he still seems to be controlled by another being most of the time, even if there are less visible marks. Quirrel may have applied some kind of permanent illusion, instead of using a turban.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-08T18:36:38.663Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or better than a permanent illusion, a magically-induced blindspot like the Interdict of Merlin or the thestrals.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-09T10:01:41.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why have a noticeable bald spot instead of hair?

comment by gwern · 2010-10-09T14:07:04.213Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe a blind spot is an empty spot, and an empty spot on a head = bald spot? Hair would be a presence, not an absence.

Presumably when one reads a book under the Interdict of Merlin, one reads blank pages, not mildly obscene limericks about a man from Nantucket.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-09T19:35:16.366Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think a sensible wizard would cover any blind spot they create with something very ordinary, if this is possible.

comment by AdShea · 2010-10-19T01:52:44.309Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Possibly it's an illusion or Someone Else's Problem Field (Perception Filter) such that the evil is still there, most people just don't see it because they don't want to.

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-10T17:55:03.703Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Presumably some people knew the real Quirrel person back when Voldermort was still alive. Maybe he just naturally had a bald patch all along.

Also, we don't know that hiding a bald spot is possible (or safe). For instance, making someone pretty using magic is known to be very dangerous.

comment by Document · 2010-11-03T21:46:42.532Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Presumably some people knew the real Quirrel person back when Voldermort was still alive. Maybe he just naturally had a bald patch all along.

...in which case the bald patch isn't evidence to us that Voldemort is or was there.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-10-09T17:11:44.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On another note, I do not think that Voldemort left Quirrel for someone else, he still seems to be controlled by another being most of the time, even if there are less visible marks.

Yes, I don't have any ideas about zombie-Quirrel/lucid-Quirrel, or Harry's sense of doom around the latter. Does any of that exist in canon, and if it does, what's the story there? I'm only familiar with the general ambience of the Potterverse, not having read any of the books or seen the films. (Spoilers welcome, I don't intend to read/see them.)

Here's an idea about the sense of doom following on from V having tried but failed to possess Q: Harry's scar is a piece of Voldemort (doesn't canon have the scar being a horcrux of V?), and the sense of doom is the Voldemort-fragment's fear that Quirrel might discover and destroy it.

Quirrel has spoken of at least one past experience that appears to have been Voldemort's (killing an entire monastery because the master wouldn't teach him). So, maybe what we are looking at is a Quirrel/Voldemort merging, in which Quirrel is in control (except in zombie mode), and the Voldemort-fragment reduced to nothing more than memories.

comment by AdShea · 2010-10-11T21:11:01.091Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The sense of doom may just be a filled-with-fantasy Harry brain's interpretation of the Voldemort-emotion/proximity as opposed to the pain that cannon!Harry felt. MoR!Harry already has a far different view of things due to his fiction reading (just look at his interactions with Hermione), why not a different mapping of an unnatural sense?

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-10-11T04:52:27.808Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

remember what the sorting hat said though... It seems unlikely that voldemort put the necessary protections on harry's soul-fragment to stop the sorting hat from detecting it considering that he almost died as soon as he attacked harry.

comment by AdShea · 2010-10-11T21:09:44.450Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The sense of doom may just be a filled-with-fantasy Harry brain's interpretation of the Voldemort-emotion/proximity as opposed to the pain that cannon!Harry felt. MoR!Harry already has a far different view of things due to his fiction reading (just look at his interactions with Hermione), why not a different mapping of an unnatural sense?

comment by knb · 2010-10-10T07:48:17.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Haven't read Canon Potter in many years but I believe Harry had pains in his scar when Voldemort was awake/active on Quirrel's body. In the book, Harry often misattributed this to Snape's presence (I think).

Harry's scar wasn't a Horcrux (nor was Harry*) in canon, although that was a very popular fan guess before the 7th book came out. I'm extremely intrigued by how this whole story line is going to play out.

*Actually, according to canon, Harry had a piece of Voldemort's soul but was never Horcruxed on purpose, so Voldemort was unaware of this fact.

comment by gjm · 2010-10-10T12:33:12.602Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Er, I thought Harry was one of Voldemort's horcruxes in canon, or something very much like one.

comment by knb · 2010-10-10T18:53:21.735Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Whoops, you're right about that. Though, according to wiki Harry isn't technically a Horcrux:

Voldemort inadvertently sealed a fragment of his soul within Harry Potter while attempting to murder him. Rowling has explicitly stated that Harry never became a proper "Dark object" since the Horcrux spell was not cast.

So you can hold a part of a guy's soul and not be a horcrux?! This is why HPMOR is better than canon.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2010-10-12T16:31:44.307Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's better than canon... because you disagree on what the definition of a made-up word should be?

I'm guessing that if Harry had been a proper "dark object', he'd never have been vulnerable to ordinary injury, same as the other Horcruxes weren't vulnerable to ordinary injury.

comment by knb · 2010-10-12T19:42:30.639Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It just seems like such an arbitrary distinction. You're right, though. There are many ways this fic is better than canon, and that is a very minor component.

comment by Eneasz · 2010-11-01T17:43:26.965Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding Author's Note:

I shall also remark that the writing behind this chapter follows what I think of as the "Anvil Chorus" plot structure. Is there a TV Trope for that?

Perhaps: Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-11-02T05:11:50.014Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

More like AnvilOnHead. But I don't that this is what EY was getting at either.

comment by ProfessorPost · 2010-10-15T00:09:12.972Z · score: -19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Harry Potter is a brilliant series of novels about Evil, in politics, in pedagogy, and in attacking people with whom one disagrees. That it is set in a world where Magic wortks (though more on a cook-book basis than an axiomatic or empirical science basis).

Irrational people who pretend that they are Rational, and devote blogs to boasting about their purported rationality. Is it rational for me to be driven crazy by them?

I think that I'm mostly rational, most of the time. The people I know in person (especially professional Physicists and Mathematicians and computer programmers in areas such as A.I.) who insist that they are entirely rational, all of the time, have at times annoyed me, especially when, for example, their pose breaks down and they leap and yell for joy while clapping their hands at Sarah Palin speeches (as one ex-FermiLab JPL neighbor of mine does), or turn red-faced and yell at me. We are imperfect beings, and I consider it a flaw to pretend that we are perfectly rational.

In the monograph that I've been working on for a couple of years about lying and deception, axiomatized, using bisimulation, there is a deep epistemic question about to what extent you can know something, but not know that you know it. In vernacular, this is about "the unconscious" mind, which Freud and others have explained at length is dedicated to "primary" mental processes (affective) rather than "secondary" mental processes" such as rational cognition.

Not to single out the academically suspect Eliezer Yudkowsky merely because he declines to rationally admit that I exist, but he screamed at my former business partner and still friend John Sokol (an internet pioneer, first to send video through the net) and then wept "like a little girl" (said Sokol). I thus cannot accept that someone is "rational" because he self-publishes that he is, and worships Bayes' Theorem.

In my informed opinion, Eliezer Yudkowsky is an irrational blow-hard cult-leader who denies my very existence. Last time I checked, I am still banned for posting comments on the only-self-published Eliezer Yudkowsky's blog, where he refused ever to retract the public claims that I am a hoax perpetuated by Professor Philip V. Fellman (then a full-professor at Southern New Hampshire University) and internet pioneer, inventor John Sokol. Feel, free, facebook friends, to post anytime on Yudkowsky's blog that copious evidence confirms my existence. And asking why he persists in pretending to be rational. Call me irrational, but I take it personally when I am defamed online.

I stand by to see if I am censored, or if I receive a years-late apology.

comment by ProfessorPost · 2010-10-15T00:23:01.867Z · score: -27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

Reposted, will some spelling errors corrected. I am a professionally published award-winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author, who is amused by the fan fiction in question, but wonders why the author does not attempt to have paid, edited, Fantasy or Science Fiction published in a SFWA-endorsed Major Market.

Harry Potter is a brilliant series of novels about Evil, in politics, in pedagogy, and in attacking people with whom one disagrees. That it is set in a world where Magic works (though more on a cook-book basis than an axiomatic or empirical science basis).

Irrational people who pretend that they are Rational, and devote blogs to boasting about their purported rationality. Is it rational for me to be driven crazy by them?

I think that I'm mostly rational, most of the time. The people I know in person (especially professional Physicists and Mathematicians and computer programmers in areas such as A.I.) who insist that they are entirely rational, all of the time, have at times annoyed me, especially when, for example, their pose breaks down and they leap and yell for joy while clapping their hands at Sarah Palin speeches (as one ex-FermiLab JPL neighbor of mine does), or turn red-faced and yell at me. We are imperfect beings, and I consider it a flaw to pretend that we are perfectly rational.

In the monograph that I've been working on for a couple of years about lying and deception, axiomatized, using bisimulation, there is a deep epistemic question about to what extent you can know something, but not know that you know it. In vernacular, this is about "the unconscious" mind, which Freud and others have explained at length is dedicated to "primary" mental processes (affective) rather than "secondary" mental processes" such as rational cognition.

Not to single out the academically suspect Eliezer Yudkowsky merely because he declines to rationally admit that I exist, but he screamed at my former business partner and still friend John Sokol (an internet pioneer, first to send video through the net) and then wept "like a little girl" (said Sokol). I thus cannot accept that someone is "rational" because he self-publishes that he is, and worships Bayes' Theorem.

In my informed opinion, Eliezer Yudkowsky is an irrational blow-hard cult-leader who denies my very existence. Last time I checked, I am still banned for posting comments on the only-self-published Eliezer Yudkowsky's blog, where he refused ever to retract the public claims that I am a hoax perpetuated by Professor Philip V. Fellman (then a full-professor at Southern New Hampshire University) and internet pioneer, inventor John Sokol. Feel, free, facebook friends, to post anytime on Yudkowsky's blog that copious evidence confirms my existence. And asking why he persists in pretending to be rational. Call me irrational, but I take it personally when I am defamed online.

I stand by to see if I am censored, or if I receive a years-late apology.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-16T11:34:19.897Z · score: 41 (45 votes) · LW · GW

Reposted, will some spelling errors corrected. I am a professionally published award-winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author, who is amused by the fan fiction in question, but wonders why the author does not attempt to have paid, edited, Fantasy or Science Fiction published in a SFWA-endorsed Major Market.

"Will" should be "with". "Science fiction" and "fantasy" shouldn't be capitalised, nor should "major market". The last sentence is very awkward, with three past participles stepping on each other's role, and should be rewritten.

Harry Potter is a brilliant series of novels about Evil, in politics, in pedagogy, and in attacking people with whom one disagrees. That it is set in a world where Magic works (though more on a cook-book basis than an axiomatic or empirical science basis).

It is debatable whether "Evil" should be capitalised. The third comma should be deleted. The second sentence is completely broken.

Irrational people who pretend that they are Rational, and devote blogs to boasting about their purported rationality. Is it rational for me to be driven crazy by them?

"Rational" should not be capitalised. The paragraph has no logical connection to the one that precedes it.

I think that I'm mostly rational, most of the time. The people I know in person (especially professional Physicists and Mathematicians and computer programmers in areas such as A.I.) who insist that they are entirely rational, all of the time, have at times annoyed me, especially when, for example, their pose breaks down and they leap and yell for joy while clapping their hands at Sarah Palin speeches (as one ex-FermiLab JPL neighbor of mine does), or turn red-faced and yell at me. We are imperfect beings, and I consider it a flaw to pretend that we are perfectly rational.

"Physicists" and "mathematicians" should not be capitalised, especially if "computer programmers" isn't. "All of the time" clashes with "at times". "For example" should be placed five words later. "Yell" is repeated. Your shorter example should precede the longer one.

In the monograph that I've been working on for a couple of years about lying and deception, axiomatized, using bisimulation, there is a deep epistemic question about to what extent you can know something, but not know that you know it. In vernacular, this is about "the unconscious" mind, which Freud and others have explained at length is dedicated to "primary" mental processes (affective) rather than "secondary" mental processes" such as rational cognition.

Do not cite a work that is not available to your audience, unless you can expect them to trust you. "Axiomatized, using bisimulation" is extremely awkward, and if the words are used correctly is not relevant to the point you're making. "In vernacular" should follow a technical explanation. You missed an "as" before "Freud". You added an extra quote. There should be symmetry between the explanations of what primary and secondary mental processes are.

Not to single out the academically suspect Eliezer Yudkowsky merely because he declines to rationally admit that I exist, but he screamed at my former business partner and still friend John Sokol (an internet pioneer, first to send video through the net) and then wept "like a little girl" (said Sokol). I thus cannot accept that someone is "rational" because he self-publishes that he is, and worships Bayes' Theorem.

Proslepsis is a vulgar trick. "Still" is unnecessary. "Internet" clashes with "net". There should be a "the" before "first". "Said" should be "according to". That final conjunction is a crime against humanity and should be replaced by "or because he".

In my informed opinion, Eliezer Yudkowsky is an irrational blow-hard cult-leader who denies my very existence. Last time I checked, I am still banned for posting comments on the only-self-published Eliezer Yudkowsky's blog, where he refused ever to retract the public claims that I am a hoax perpetuated by Professor Philip V. Fellman (then a full-professor at Southern New Hampshire University) and internet pioneer, inventor John Sokol. Feel, free, facebook friends, to post anytime on Yudkowsky's blog that copious evidence confirms my existence. And asking why he persists in pretending to be rational. Call me irrational, but I take it personally when I am defamed online.

There is a qualitative difference between 'being an irrational blow-hard cult-leader' and 'denying your very existence'; do not mix both in the same statement. "Only-self-published" is not a legitimate compound adjective. "Ever" is not used like that. It is a single "claim", not multiple ones. "Full professor" is not hyphenated. The comma before "inventor" should be an "and". There shouldn't be a comma after "feel". "Facebook", for once, should be capitalised. "Anytime" shoud be "at any time". "Asking" should be "to ask", connecting with the previous "to post". That sentence should also be merged with the preceding one.

I stand by to see if I am censored, or if I receive a years-late apology.

The comma is unnecessary.

The text as a whole is severely lacking in coherence, jumping from one argument to the next with only the thinnest of connections, and is peppered throughout with unjustified assertions. The tone is also wildly inconsistent, mixing solemn proclamations with personal vendettas. The persuasive power of this essay, as a result, is irredeemably compromised, to the point that any writing you may produce in the future will suffer from violent prejudice.

Conclusion: Whatever "professional publisher" might have "professionally published" your writing deserves to be neither.

-- Summer Glau

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2010-10-17T00:00:23.224Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This is the funniest thing I've read all week, and the fact that it's nested under a highly downvoted comment where few people will see it makes me sad.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-17T00:24:21.390Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Brilliant.

(Why the Glau signature?)

comment by Alicorn · 2010-10-17T00:31:39.199Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Reference to this.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-17T02:22:52.855Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Ahh, yes, I'd forgotten that one. Even more brilliant.

comment by Mitchell_Porter · 2010-10-19T08:48:02.017Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

A guide for the perplexed:

This message is by Jonathan Vos Post, who three years ago - before LW split from OB - had some comments deleted on an OB thread, and when his pals (Fellman and Sokol) showed up to confirm his existence, they were interpreted as sockpuppets and also deleted.

Evidently, he will not rest until this wrong is righted, as he has mentioned it on various blogs, in August 2007 I II III, May 2008, and February 2010, and now here in October 2010. His compadre Dr Fellman also got into the act at one time.

(I didn't know any of this fifteen minutes ago, btw. It all came from google.)

Professor Post, I doubt you will ever get an apology for having been called a fictitious entity on a blog three years ago, but be sure that we all now know that you exist.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-19T15:21:14.682Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I now sort of want to meet him. Preferably while we're both plastered.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-21T01:59:29.759Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This message is by Jonathan Vos Post

I know him from other blogs, and it never occurred to me that ‘ProfessorPost’ was him. I am disappointed.

Jonathan: From the links cited above, I can see why you got so upset, but the comment that you posted didn't explain any of this. As written, it's unfair nonsense. Pretend that you were me reading it; what would I get from it?

PS to help in the pretence: HP:MoR Ch 1 was the first thing by EY that I ever read, and it's not very old. So that gives you an upper bound on what I could know about him, and I can assure you that I'm far from pushing it. On the other hand, you already know about how much I know about you.

comment by komponisto · 2010-10-17T10:14:55.839Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer Yudkowsky...screamed at my former business partner... and then wept "like a little girl"... I thus cannot accept that someone is "rational" because he self-publishes that he is, and worships Bayes' Theorem.

The test of whether one is rational is in fact whether one obeys Bayes' Theorem, not whether one avoids screaming or weeping.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-10-19T15:16:42.860Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Another good test of rationality is whether you're more confused by fiction than by reality. Just thought I should mention that in this connection.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-10-17T11:29:21.713Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The test of whether one is rational is in fact whether one obeys Bayes' Theorem, not whether one avoids screaming or weeping.

(Insert 'epistemically' rational to make the first half true. The part about the screaming is right regardless.)

EDIT: Upvoted the parent to 0 make sure it didn't look like it was me who downvoted it. I know you just hate unexplained downvotes that don't appear to have any cause.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-10-17T11:24:14.914Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The test of whether one is rational is in fact whether one obeys Bayes' Theorem

People don't generally "obey Bayes' theorem", and in the nuts and bolts of human rationality that is hardly the salient feature, merely something to look for when situation allows.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-17T08:30:15.747Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The people I know in person […] who insist that they are entirely rational, all of the time, have at times annoyed me[.]

Yeah, such people annoy me too.

That's why I particularly like the title of this blog. One can never be perfect, but one can strive for perfection. One can never be 100% correct, but one can be Less Wrong.

PS to all: Yeah, I know that I've made my comment in a poor context, but ‘Less Wrong’ really is an excellent title for a blog, isn't it? I just want to sing its praises.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-17T09:26:42.669Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed about "Less Wrong"-- not only do I like the name, but when I mention it, it generally gets a good response from people who've never heard it before.

comment by moshez · 2011-02-04T22:38:35.287Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

YES! When I showed the blog to my friends, they immediately "got it": "It's not about being always right, which is impossible, it's about being wrong less often".

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-10-20T00:25:26.324Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find the same thing. However, I think it gives the impression that humans are almost rational, and only need to correct biases to become so. In fact the situation is quite the reverse, rational minds occupy a very small area in mind-space, and it requires a positive effort to hit this target.

comment by TobyBartels · 2010-10-21T01:24:01.948Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think it gives the impression that humans are almost rational, and only need to correct biases to become so.

That's why nobody should use a silly name like ‘Overcoming Bias’. (^_^) :-)

Actually, I disagree. To me, ‘less wrong’ is a title of humility that suggests that we are wrong but need to become less so. In contrast, ‘more correct‘ would suggest to me that we are already correct but can still become more so.

Similarly, ‘half full’ sounds optimistic while ‘half empty’ sounds pessimistic, even though their literal meaning is identical. It's a matter of the emphasis to which the listener is drawn.

This may be highly subjective.

comment by FeepingCreature · 2012-01-31T19:43:43.066Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Imo 'half full' implies that the glass is filling, whereas 'half empty' implies that it is emptying.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-10-20T10:37:24.060Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have any ideas for a short phrase to express that concept?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-10-20T11:14:46.638Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think this isn't exactly the same, but is in a similar direction.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-10-20T11:57:58.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not really. Um, MoreRight?

comment by Alicorn · 2010-10-15T00:28:31.391Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Please go away.

comment by Danylo · 2010-10-15T22:37:23.849Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Reposted, will some spelling errors corrected. I am a professionally published award-winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author...

Protip: if you're going to make claims like that, and then spend several paragraphs bashing another author -- don't be a coward. Post proof of your identity. In fact, post proof of every claim you make. You can't* declare people 'academically suspect' without providing a citation. You can't declare people irrational without providing at least a quotation of irrational thought.

An example of irrational thought: "The people I know in person (especially professional Physicists and Mathematicians and computer programmers in areas such as A.I.) who insist that they are entirely rational, all of the time, have at times annoyed me, especially when, for example, their pose breaks down and they leap and yell for joy while clapping their hands at Sarah Palin speeches (as one ex-FermiLab JPL neighbor of mine does), or turn red-faced and yell at me."

First, you draw conclusions about all from a very small survey. Next, you dismiss all the pursuit of rationality because it is inherently unreachable. There is a difference between 5% and 95%, and while neither is 100% one is much more than the other.

P.S. The audacity of posting on a website run by Eliezer and declaring yourself to be 'censored.' Well, it speaks volumed.

P.P.S. "Edit" button exists for a reason. See this post as an example of how to use it. I reported your duplicate post, I suggest you delete it.

*You can, be be prepared to be laughed at and ignored.

comment by SeventhNadir · 2010-10-15T00:28:33.081Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would you like someone to talk to about this ProfessorPost? You seem quite distressed that your existence has not been acknowledged.