Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-20T19:15:37.377Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

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


Of course it was Voldemort who did it!

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

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

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-19T21:41:30.214Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hat and Cloak is Salazar's creature. He (it?) was put in the Chamber to be a counter to the second thing Merlin did when he laid the Interdict in force, namely biasing holders of time-displaced information toward simpler (non-catastrophic) loops - my best guess is, by creating random change in subject's mind which randoms into thoughts leading to paradox-free behavior; from this side of the 4th wall it can look like 'being stupid for the sake of plot'. (to clarify: the random thought is an extra degree of freedom by which the situation can be paradox-free without big complicated catastrophic coincidences)

HC's original job is to bring/send back future information and limit exposure of Heir. Kinda like what Millicent does, or Snape did with Rianne - you know, it's a difficult concept, needs good examples by the time it is explained. (for the record, this clicked for me during the 'Groundhog Day attack' which originally came before the 'Interlude with the Confessor' chapter - to me that chapter was a confirmation not a clue.)


The 'Harry = Tom Riddle' thing doesn't sit right with me. The whole point of teaching Harry, the point of going this slow now, is to get Harry to embrace his dark side for a successful takeover - and look, he already thinks of it as part of him, not a separate side. I predict the sense of doom will decrease, Harry will interpret it as 'Quirrell losing strength' and 'now is the time to be clever' when in reality it will be - well, either it's him getting closer to being taken over by his dark side, or it is directly faked by Q to be a false encouragement towards same.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102 · 2014-08-01T22:28:46.314Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"don't think about it either way" does not necessarily mean indifference, it means reverting to default behaviour.

Humans are (mostly) pro-social animals with empathy and would not crush another human who just happens to be in their way - in that they differ from a falling rock. In fact, that's the point of hate, it overrides the built-in safeguards to allow for harmful action. According to this view, to genuinely not give a damn about someone's life is a step further. Obviously.

The thing about built-in default behaviour given by evolution is that it will not trigger in some cases.

Rationality and the English Language

"Unreliable elements were subjected to an alternative justice process"—subjected by who? What does an "alternative justice process" do? With enough static noun phrases, you can keep anything unpleasant from actually happening.

or HPMoR Ch.48

Your brain imagines a single bird struggling in an oil pond, and that image creates some amount of emotion that determines your willingness to pay. But no one can visualize even two thousand of anything, so the quantity just gets thrown straight out the window.

or HPMoR Ch.87

Because the way people are built, Hermione, the way people are built to feel inside [...] is that they hurt when they see their friends hurting. Someone inside their circle of concern, a member of their own tribe. That feeling has an off-switch, an off-switch labeled 'enemy' or 'foreigner' or sometimes just 'stranger'. That's how people are, if they don't learn otherwise.

My point with that is, it's completely in line with what Eliezer usually talks about, so you know it's a perspective he holds, not just rationalization.

For completeness' sake,

Not like certain people living in certain countries, who were, it was said, as human as anyone else; who were said to be sapient beings, worth more than any mere unicorn. But who nonetheless wouldn't be allowed to live in Muggle Britain. On that score, at least, no Muggle had the right to look a wizard in the eye. Magical Britain might discriminate against Muggleborns, but at least it allowed them inside so they could be spat upon in person.

still feels off. Oh, wait, I know! Maybe Harry is being Stupid here. Or Eliezer is being a Bad Writer. Again.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-12-10T20:35:36.504Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Muggle hospital.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-15T18:10:54.238Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

About horcruxes

Magic itself seems predisposed to keeping wizards in existence, what with ghosts and resistance to blunt trauma, and Avada Kedavra requiring they be very sure about the outcome, and all that. A ritual that requires murder seems to be opposing that spirit. Can't magic make up it's mind? Or was it designed by multiple, competing purposes?

It occured to me that horcrux might be more of a late addition to magic; a hack, a twisting of an existing function. If so, the requirement may not be there for the usual reasons (to represent the making of a significant choice, as Quirrell put it), but rather as a requirement of limited resource.

What might that be? Life force? Nonsense, 'one must die for another to live' is in fact a bad non-reductionist cliché, and don't get me started on it. How about soul?

What existing aspect of magic best resembles a horcrux?

Thus I've concluded that a horcrux is the corruption of a newly made ghost; it's loaded with the state vector of the caster instead of the victim.

This gives two obvious predictions. Those killed for a horcrux will not leave ghosts. Muggles are unsuitable.

Since both predictions run contrary to canon (Moaning Myrtle and old man Frank Bryce), and Eliezer is unlikely to do that on a whim, they were adequate.

(I'm no longer sure when exacly I came up with all of the above. Pretty sure it was before the Azkaban arc.)

Chapter 71, Parvati talks about Hogwarts' '0% fatality rate' and nobody acts like it's known falsehood. Sure, it was an argument about something else, and it was narrated, not explicit, but still. How could they not know about Myrtle? Simple, there is no moaning reminder.

After this I realized I made a bad assumption (quite possibly my luckiest mistake - but never mind that). I thought the ghost creation process is subverted at the root, making the requirement check for ghosts (afraid of dying, the will to stay, or whatever it is) done on the caster. Instead, depending on implementation details, a hack may be more likely to work on what is already there; so for the ghost to be there, the victim has to have that preference.

If you don't want to draw attention to the fact that you're killing people who are likely to leave ghosts, you have to use some other criteria, and kill a lot. If only 1% of the population would leave a ghost, and you pick your victims at random, on avarege you have to kill 100 people to get one horcrux. And if you only kill the brave who dared to oppose you, it might take significantly more. Better kill their family as well. Of course, there may be ways to increase the probability of ghost as well ('the victim dying in horror'? dunno).

So this explains why mor!Voldemort's campaign was more bloody than canon, and also why smart!Voldemort didn't win quickly. Also, nerfing an overpowered spell.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-06-04T08:13:32.926Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it works like this: this sort of thing can trigger some people's bullshit detector. They sense that something is off when this 'rationalist fiction' tries to to claim some sort of special status, while still doing the usual writing tricks. Of course they fail to pinpoint the source of the contradiction (most don't habitually look out for the 'Is that your true rejection' thingy - especially if they already have some reason to jump to an EY-bashing conclusion, mostly something status-based; I call that sort of thing 'suspiciously self-serving'). Instead they offer less specific criticism, which of course will not be true, so it will be rejected by anyone else. Most of those who are not pre-disposed to negativity will simply ignore the sense of unease, if they have it at all.

Now, I could have said as much without the snark. I was trying to create an ugh field for the 'euthanistic critics'. I would not have my comment waved as banner in the "Yudkowsky's writing sucks" camp - call it a personal preference. Yeah, I'm probably overestimating the gives-a-shit quotient here.

Also I have criticized a few people for jumping to the conclusion of writer's mistake, when I thought there was more to it, so when I show how what I think a real mistake looks like... yeah, guilty of pride. And since that may make me look like more of an idiot, if Eliezer completely ignores this... that's why 'suspiciously self-serving' can be a problem; if it's not connected to reality, it's bound to flop. :(

I tried not to have anyone specific in mind when I wrote the comment, but I was most likely primed by mention of DLP.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-06-02T16:41:01.975Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Re: revisions

Harry reached up, wiped a bit of sweat from his forehead, and exhaled. "I'd like this one, please."

Harry's entire body was sheathed in sweat that had soaked clear through his Muggle clothing, though at least it didn't show through the robes. He bent down over the gold-etched ivory toilet, and retched a few times, but thankfully nothing came up.

Hermione shut her eyes and tried to concentrate. She was sweating underneath her robes.

"Forget I said anything," said Draco, sweat suddenly springing out all over his body. He needed a distraction, fast - "And what do we call ourselves? The Science Eaters?"

Children don't sweat that much - it's a physiological difference from adults.

(This is just the first page I found with a nice at-glance comparison table and a list of references.)

I have considered that this is a deliberate difference, some clue about the way magic effects wizards, like, magic increases body heat, and wizarding children get adult sweat-glands to compensate; this seemed interesting:

[Draco would have been dead], had his body's own magic not been resisting the effects of the Blood-Cooling Charm.

But, in the end, I think not. No, it looks much more like exaggeration to convey the character's state of mind; it's normal practice in writing as I understand, but somewhat unbecoming in rationalist fiction, I think. It undermines the idea that causality isn't violated for plot/writing reasons.

It doesn't surprise me that the amazingly insightful critics of HPMoR who may have picked up on this couldn't pinpoint it, though. Motivated cognition usually gets in the way.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-05T13:10:01.349Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Care to elaborate? 'Interesting' is a word with many connotations.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12 · 2012-03-27T08:22:48.618Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As we know, Harry's idea of double memory-charm has not been presented to the Wizengamot, which is a good thing; not only is it low status, as Harry realized, it's also unlikely to work, as Snape pointed out. Also, that's not what happened.

Hermione has been told the right lie, to lead her through the right emotions - a growing suspicion towards Draco, mainly - and then she was Obliviated, and told the same lie over again, went through the same emotions again, and again. If the sense of disorientation isn't a problem, she could have been looped through just the final, triggering sentence. Comulative effects had left her with the reoccuring thoughts and nagging doubts, the obsession we were told about. Even the idea of confronting Draco at the next battle, or keeping her doubts to herself could have been planted this way.

Hopefully it will be seen as a typical Voldemort-like cleverness by enough of the Wizengamot for the rest to work. In fact, redirecting Lucius's anger towards the real perpetrator should be doable, and most of his faction (politics!) would be eager to accept Harry's suggestion that Dumbledore was foolish enough to let an agent of the Dark Lord teach at Hogwarts - I doubt it would be a good idea to reveal the truth too early.

Quirrell, who, I think, is still held within the Ministry, will be brought for questioning, and revealed to be Voldemort. Whether it will be his power or the Bystander Effect (the title of the next trigger warning page) that holds the Wizengamot back long enough, I don't know. Actually, a single threat could make most of them hesitate long enough... Than, just as planned, he tries to kill Harry, explodes, then it's cheers and Butterbeers all 'round.

Harry will choose to cooperate with this plan because he will see it's aim wasn't to kill his friends - Draco could have been left for dead, and wasn't - and because he doesn't have five days to think of anything else.

It would be a serious change in the story and, with Quirrell gone, he couldn't fulfill his promise of both Slytherin and Ravenclaw winning the House Cup - but these things would not motivate Voldemort to pass on this opportunity, I think.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-16T20:09:21.430Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My guess is, the intermittent one is H&C taking the appearance (and name, on the map) of students who are elsewhere to walk among the children, listening to rumours, maybe even talking to them. I'm going to assume he can disappear as well as change shape when out of sight, otherwise it would be too easy to track him down; plus, that's why it's 'intermittent'.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-14T13:55:20.647Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

At this point it's almost funny how everyone seems to think I'm dissing Eliezer. Oh, well. Sarcasm clearly doesn't work in writing.


Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-14T10:02:15.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course. Otherwise Eliezer would be a Bad Writer. There are circumstances where 'heat conduction' is the correct answer, you know.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-14T09:07:17.586Z · score: -6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So, we have a guy who preaches a lot about rationality, writing a fiction of rationality, and his main character isn't acting rationally at times... Gee, I wonder how long it'll take for you to notice your confusion. Oh, but there isn't one, right? He is just a Bad Writer. Right? ;)

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-14T08:18:44.353Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Ha! Or maybe Eliezer has been rolling his eyes at us (or, rather, y'all), and gave us a blatant hint with the contrast of competent Quirrell interrogating sneaky Snape and less experienced H&C working on naive Hermione. I think you're just clinging to your one beautiful idea, instead of examining other possibilities - like, say, H&C is taking instructions from Quirrell, maybe?

See? Two can play that game.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9 · 2012-02-16T11:34:17.043Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it's a historical fact that when I first saw this term-use-implies-identity idea, I rolled my eyes at it. What I think happens here is this:

The first appearance of H&C does indeed seem to imply Quirrell is H&C. He walks off after Zabini, Zabini's lie benefited him, and so forth. And however shakily, the common use of a term could support this as well.

But. Later we find evidence that it is indeed simply a technical term - as quoted above, (but it seems to be ignored, because the first H&C incident already implies a Q=H&C - at least I think this is what people feel), and then, in Ch76 we see something more important, a strong contrast between Quirrell reading the possibly-perfect-Occlumens Snape vs. H&C failing to read Hermione to such a degree that he needs to be told how suspicious he is. It points to them not beeing the same (which seems to be also ignored, because shared term-use already implies Q=H&C).

Rather than examining the evidences independently, they all seem to be lumped into an unassailable whole.

This is how it feels like when you are using One Argument Against An Army.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9 · 2012-02-16T08:54:01.234Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

there was the 'wards keyed in' statement of both H&C & Quirrell


Salazar Slytherin's ghost [...] is still keyed into the Hogwarts wards so he knows everything that happens, I bet.

So, maybe H&C is Padma!!1!

sigh. Can we please let this idea die already? It's no more than common use of a technical term.

Amelia Bones, Ch55:

And change the harmonics on everything changeable, they may have stolen our keys.

Comment by major on HPMOR: What could've been done better? · 2012-01-30T17:28:00.234Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, that was just something he was trying to get out of his system.

You got that right. After this thing becomes relevant in the story, there may be complains, and while I'm sure Eliezer will explain it competently, people are prone to throwing accusations of asspull around. So if there is enough detail in a time-logged, non-edited comment, it can be pointed out later. 'It's not an asspull, look, this idiot even guessed it. You can read about the stuff he used to do it in the Sequences.'

Now that I no longer feel like I'm doing LW a disservice by sitting on such validation, I can go back to speculating quietly.

As for the rest, I guess you're right, though I note that's not why you started this thread. Also of note is the fact that this is LessWrong, not some random ff site. Getting things right might be higher priority here, than elsewhere.

Comment by major on HPMOR: What could've been done better? · 2012-01-30T17:23:31.392Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Um.. The initials are not clues, NBT is just how I refered to the theory (Next Big Thing). Sorry about any confusion this might have caused.

Comment by major on HPMOR: What could've been done better? · 2012-01-30T08:27:49.692Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

did you intend to skip actually telling us what NBT is?

Of course. The hard part about noticing your confusion isn't recognizing it, when it is pointed out. It's, you know, the noticing part. I tell you, I get a few points of karma for it, maybe, and everyone looses the opportunity to do it for themselves. Now, that's negative sum!

I think one thing that keeps people from asking questions is the flinching from the uncertainty that may never get resolved. But that's clearly not the case with MoR (unless Eliezer is evil, and his puzzles will never be resolved in-story). These are well stuctured puzzles leading us along (hell I'm identifying puzzle arcs), and we just have to make some effort.

I guess my sense of justice doesn't like how something deep gets complains about surface stuff, when that surface can in fact be justified by the deeper stuff. Stupid sense of justice.

Comment by major on HPMOR: What could've been done better? · 2012-01-29T12:06:36.477Z · score: -3 (17 votes) · LW · GW

It's a bit long, sorry.

Let me bore y'all with a bit of my puzzle-solving MoR.

Near the end of 2010 I came up with a theory (which I codenamed NBT), some far-out thing that explained a few observations, and removed a good deal of confusion. As an aside it also led me to predict the existence of a certain clue - more on that later. Also, I think it may be endgame-relevant.

Since this theory was kinda subtle, I felt I needed more data on it, so I filed it away and waited. Somewhere along the way I realized that it explained even more things than I thought, thus raising my confidence in it (retrograde prediction? - my surprise about it is evidence to me, even if it wouldn't convince anyone else), though of course it could still be subject to positive bias, as I was well aware.

Enter the final batch of SA arc, late August and early September (2011). It contained an unlikely event, one I would have bet against seeing, without NBT. With it, it was just the kind of thing I would expect. So I marked NBT confirmed. Shortly afterwards a random re-reading of an older part led me to discover the clue I predicted earlier, an innocent little sentence I completely missed before, one that contains a hint connected to the nature of magic. As it happens, this clue also explains how the Interdict of Merlin was made - the mechanism.

Thus feeling my theory NBT strongly confirmed I confronted the one part I was still confused about, and within ten minutes I moved from 'a bit tricky but possible' to 'simple, elegant, neat'. I didn't need any knowledge that wasn't available when I came up with NBT, so I could have had that answer a lot earlier - I'll call the crucial bit of understanding V-factor.

(Also, Self Actualization confirmed one more prediction of mine. I suppose for others that particular bit of noticing-your-confusion could be a hint for a difference-from-canon mystery that didn't lead anywhere; for me, it was evidence I was right all along about one more thing. This theory was required for later, but I'm sure I wouldn't have needed the confirmation; I was pretty sure of this one. Just mentioning that to show why I'm glad SA happened.)

All this reminded me of the moral of That Alien Message, specifically how limiting it is to think 'we need more information' and do nothing, instead of actually sitting down, and confronting the mystery. On one hand I saw things most would say can't possibly be seen, on the other hand I failed to find out things fast enough because I didn't think I could possibly have seen them.

Because I'm not perfect (yet), I didn't update on everything immediately; to be more precise, it wasn't until January of 2012 that I applied the V-factor to my previous theories of the nature of MoR magic, but when I did, I became unconfused. The First Cause of Verresverse Magic became clear. Looking back, and seeing that I could have had the whole thing a year earlier if I tried - not hindsight, the conclusions that led to it are clearly traceable - really drove the point home.

My point with all this? Methods of Rationality is full of subtle puzzles, reasons beneath the obvious, as others have pointed out in much less word, and also plenty of ways to practice and test your rationality skills. Noticing confusion, generating alternative hypotheses, countering positive bias, above all. And yes, these are well constructed puzzles, not like the messy reality, but the point is to have the grooves worn into the mind.

Nitpicking the story, complaining about things we wouldn't even notice from other authors, holding Eliezer to higher standards, because 'Hey, we're rational(ists)!' while failing to notice that these may well be deliberate hints of something deeper ... it's ... well ... kinda stupid, ain't it? Like how sophisticated fan-fiction readers might pattern-match Harry of early chapters as Mary Sue, while failing to notice all the clues about his coldness, concluding it is a sign of incompetent author, when it is in fact a hint of something more going on. A useful lesson about how noticing confusion and generating an alternative hypothesis might be needed, at best.

Also, if you have been reading LW for a while and have been passionate about improving your rationality, yet you failed to notice so far how good an opportunity MoR is ... I just spoiled it for you; it was a test, and you failed it. Sorry.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9 · 2012-01-22T15:16:04.124Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

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

Oh, quite the opposite!

Comment by major on HPMoR: What do you think you know? · 2011-10-24T11:49:13.417Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The mock offer he made to Lily is not funny. It's the kind of kick the dog thing authors write when they want to make you dislike the villain. Eliezer is better than that. What made it laughworthy for Voldemort was the delicious irony of Lily offering her life in exchange of a life that would not have been taken to begin with. From this it was clear he knew the whole prophecy and that Snape heard the whole thing. Took me some time to figure out why it's different from canon, though of course that should have been clear too. Snape is no fool. And the outcome of his no-fool-ness has been known by than.

About your list, I think the failed-notice thing in ch 3 is simply the 'strikes directly at the soul' and 'leaving only the burnt hulk of his body' thing. Also I doubt Voldemort would share his plans with Lucius.

But, yeah, plenty of clues.

Comment by major on HPMoR: What do you think you know? · 2011-10-24T07:50:06.904Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, well... It was only guessable since Ch43. Is that how you saw it?

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9 · 2011-10-22T11:24:14.304Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So. Ch76, the part about how prophecies work. Has anyone else seen the connection to Amputation of Destiny?

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9 · 2011-09-10T08:37:41.243Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Distinct Animagus form. Swap and teleoperate.

Comment by major on Harry Sue and The Methods of Rationality · 2011-04-29T09:01:21.638Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Aside from Harry's parents, there was only one "unrealistic" adult so far (by Ch6), McGonagall, who assumed Harry might have been abused. Her tolerance is reasonable.

It's irrelevant, though. Harry is behaving strangely, and you assume it's bad writing. I guess, since you have read some fanfiction ("OOC is irritating to me"), you aquired a useful heuristic for filtering out bad fanfic; it's just that it is bound to give some false positives.

Comment by major on Harry Sue and The Methods of Rationality · 2011-04-29T08:10:12.736Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer addressed it here

If you saw a character talking like that in a published SF novel, you would know that he was an alien or genetically engineered or that the author meant you to know something was funny about him. In fanfiction they assume that it's either the author's conceit or, more probable yet, you're just a terrible author who can't write realistic eleven-year-olds. I thought it was so blatantly lampshaded that nobody could possibly mistake it for an accident, but no, fanfiction readers just don't think like that - they don't look for clues and they do assume lousy authors.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-02-03T11:56:42.764Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry was tested (via Veritaserum) after the Daily Prophet incident. The fact that he is being tested in regards to Quirrell's illegal activity is not evidence of it's failure, it only shows that it's impossible enough to make someone suspect Harry Potter was involved.

A flashback where Quirrell explains the failsafe to Harry might have helped, though. For example, he would have foresaw the hide-from-dementors nature of Patronus 2.0 as a clue for Dumbledore (which is probably what prompted him to make this particular failsafe in the first place). How much of it did he explain to Harry?

It is not really important, however. The moment Harry recieved the message at 3PM, he was committed. DO NOT MESS WITH TIME!

Still, your question made me notice my (possible) confusion, so... good one.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-01-30T12:33:15.752Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think Ch21 (near the end) played with this idea already. How many potential first week has Eliezer thought through before settling on that one, I wonder.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-01-30T11:46:38.864Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also, it's a hint. With the previous generation so weak in Battle Magic (due to Voldemort's curse - and this was discussed before, I think), it was part of Professor Quirrell's plan to train up Harry's schoolmates as well, so he can have a decent army someday.

It's easy to miss it because of the funny. Eliezer does this kind of misdirection all the time.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-01-29T10:28:26.475Z · score: -7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

My vote is on reflexive use of magic

Heh. No.

It's about as relevant as the mokeskin pouch burping after swallowing stuff. Not exacly for the same reasons, though.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-01-18T07:35:28.904Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good, I'm probably no crazier then them, than. Did they also guess Quirrellmort's endgame plans before the hiatus? (Well, in retrospect, it was guessable way before that.)

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-01-16T23:12:44.152Z · score: 21 (23 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to figure out the James' Rock thing yourself, you should probably stop reading now.

I read this in ch58

Luckily - well, not luckily, luck had nothing to do with it - conscientiously, Harry had practiced Transfiguration for an extra hour every day, to the point where he was ahead of even Hermione in that one class; he'd practiced partial Transfiguration to the point where his thoughts had begun taking the true universe for granted, so that it required only slightly more effort to keep its timeless quantum nature in mind, even as he kept a firm mental separation between the concept of Form and the concept of substance.

And the problem with that art having become so routine...

...was that Harry could think about other things while he was doing it.

and (putting my contrarian nature to good use) thought, the other reason he was good at it was, he concentrated on maintaining his transfigured ring stone all the time. Then I realized that's all thanks to Dumbledore and I started to wonder if it was intentional. In search of clues I reread ch17, specifically the part where Harry got the rock, and then went on to read the Lily's potion book part because it seemed related. That's when I realized I fell for some deliberate obfuscation, as I came away with the impression that Lily was asking questions and mysteriously receiving answers in her potion book. Realizing it was not the case, most of the rest was seen in a flash.

Just as Dumbledore challenged Lily with strange potion-related questions in order to get her to do extra research, possibly directing her to books and topics where she learned something extra about stuff, thus becoming exceptional at potions (which is canon fact), so too did he present Harry with a challenge, expecting him to find the obvious solution of maintained transfiguration in order to follow the advice of a wise old wizard.

Why would he do that? In Ch28 McGonagall seems to think this feat of Dumbledore impressive:

He had used Transfiguration in combat and he was still alive.

Now, how would you do this? Why, by having the ability to concentrate on transfiguration while paying attention to something else (such as the back and forth of a duel). Sounds familiar? To do this, being able to concentrate on transfiguration without conscious attention is indispensable. Dumbledore simply started building up his pet hero early, since, you understand,

Transfiguration must be learned and practiced at a young age in order to maximize your adult ability.

(McGonagall, Ch15)

I mention all this now because Ch67 gave me the impression it will come to light soon. Could be wrong about that.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6 · 2011-01-13T01:29:06.348Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

... they make several copies of an inmate’s clothes when they enter, and replace them as the old pair wears out.

With respect, it sounds like you're clinging to your theory. A much simpler explanation is the effect significantly decreasing over distance. Also the effect on living prisoners body is psychological, wasting away, not physical, like corrosion or decomposition.

What would Harry have thought about leaving the flask, then?

Harry? You mean Harry "the Defense Professor of Hogwarts was all like 'Let's get Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban!' and you were like 'Okay!'" Potter? As I recall he was busy pretending to be Voldemort in front of Bellatrix, and afterwards busy angsting over the loss his mentor. I don't see his lack of fussing over details as a strong reason to conclude anything.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6 · 2011-01-13T01:26:11.780Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Even assuming it's possible to tell the difference between a few years old rotting corpse and a few years old rotting death doll (magic might help there), Dementors don't care about the dead, and a powerful enough wizard can easily sneak into Azkaban to replace a corpse. Finding a fake corpse in Bellatrix's cell would be a mystery, another conspiracy theory, not a sure signature of Voldemort. It might not convince anyone. Why settle for half-solutions?

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6 · 2011-01-12T17:20:54.522Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It took you long enough, but you are still to be congratulated on having realized it before most.

Unfortunetly, like the rest, you're still stuck thinking it was a mere distraction. Ask yourself, what happened as a result? Who's plan benefited from it? Was it foreseeable?

Harry is still too young, his magic is still weak. He will need some more time before he can be the Hero and Leader Dumbledore and Quirrell wants him to become.

Suppose the rescue plan goes flawlessly. No one would be the wiser, until the time some Bellatrix-sightings or something similar casts doubt on her death. Once her cell is investigated (if enough of her clothes remained to cover her after ten years, the vial would last long enough too), the same thing would have happened, Dumbledore soundig the alarms, and people turning to Harry Potter to save them.

That was the plan, anyways. It succeeded the moment the vial was placed in the cell, so long as they got out without being identified. And it's only a minor inconvenience that it had to happen early.

It's difficult to see only if you think Quirrell lied about wanting Harry as a leader.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6 · 2011-01-07T18:44:40.971Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ugh, really?

I thought it's obvious it was told to Dumbledore. I also thought it obvious it implies that it was Dumbledore who suggested the new rule. If people can't see that, I shouldn't be surprised most can't see the full extent of Dumbledore's plot.

Had the battle lasted longer, had one army pulled ahead in points, the other two would have switched to point-diminishing. The natural attractor for the situation was a three-way tie. All because whoever made such rule predicted Harry Potter would find the way to exploit it. Zabini's job was fine-tuning. And once the explosive situation was taken care of, Hermione's wish (suggested by Dumbledore) helped reinforce the officially accepted group dynamics. That Draco did something similar with his wish just goes to remind us that some people do benefit from maintaining the status quo.

Comment by major on How To Lose 100 Karma In 6 Hours -- What Just Happened · 2010-12-12T10:31:37.434Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW


My interpretation (which Eliezer's above comment seems to have confirmed) was, Eliezer deleted Roko's comment for the exact same reason he would have deleted an epileptic-fit-inducing animation. Simply to protect some of the readers, many of whom might not even be aware of their own vulnerability, for this is not exacly a commonly triggered or recognized weakness.

I felt all the rest with 'existential risk' and 'supressed ideas' was just added by people in the absence of real information. Like, someone saw 'existential risk' near (in?) Roko's comment and heard that Eliezer is worried about 'existential risks' so they concluded that must have been the reason the post was deleted. This sort of thing tends to happen, especially when they were already critical, such as timtyler, who was taking potshots at Eliezer and the SIAI even before Roko's post was deleted (top 2 comments). (Yes, I mention timtyler because I know his opinion could have affected yours)

My big problem with this theory is that it requires you to have been making a basic mistake. Which is always suspect, since shown yourself a smart and competent poster. (That some other posters, such as WFG were foolish is a given, I'm afraid.) So the simplest way to resolve my confusion is to ask you directly, hence this comment.

Why do you dismiss the above interpretation? What do you see that I don't?

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6 · 2010-11-28T16:57:50.602Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My apologies.

I was going to comment on how Ch61 made me realize I lack the ability to predict what others find obvious (specifically why Dumbledore and Snape doesn't see the purpose of the left-behind vial, and, more importantly, do reviewers fail to mention it because it's obvious or because nobody sees the discrepancy), but then I didn't, because I realized probably no one cares.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6 · 2010-11-28T00:53:18.184Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Ch 62. Holy crap! Dumbledore killed Narcissa in response to the kidnapping and murder of Aberforth?! That doesn't sound right. For one thing, how can he still own the Bird of Good, then?

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5 · 2010-11-21T23:21:05.816Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why would Bellatrix hide the wand next to Pappa Riddle's grave? Kinda arbitrary, isn't it? Unless that was the designated meeting place where she was supposed to wait. As Yvain pointed out, it's possible she aquired the wand from Voldemort's corpse, and went looking for the shade afterwards.

There are other possible meeting places beside the graveyard, the only reason I can see for going there is for the bones. It means a plan for the revival ritual was in the making, still missing an enemy. My guess is, it was a safety net thing, bring the baby there, do the deed, and if something goes wrong, instant resurrection. Who would think a simple touch of the destined enemy could kill as well.

Something did kill Voldemort, and with the safety net almost ready, it must have been something unexpected. Had everything went as planned, Voldemort wouldn't have disappeared for ten years.

This is my guess, anyways. Still a few things unexplained. What made the scar? Voldemort's touch? Horcroux? Also, technically, Lily died in a duel, same as James. There might not be any protection at all.

Also the AK color thing? mor!Harry saw only the one that killed Lily.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5 · 2010-11-21T03:59:32.854Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What, nobody? Oh, well.

Voldemort stands next to the crib of his destined enemy, the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord, the completely defenseless one year old child. The Dark Lord's most faithful servant, Bellatrix, is waiting for him at the graveyard, near his father's grave. One Side-Along-Apparition, and not even death will slow Voldemort down for long.

Too bad he died the moment he touched the baby.

Comment by major on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread · 2010-07-04T23:50:28.856Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know about subtle. I noticed it on my second read.

Why call it Aftermath 2? Why not just a nameless block? How is it the result of anything?

I guess I didn't fail to notice my confusion.

Dumbledore messed with the girl's mind to test if Snape was still in love with Lilly.

What I'm a bit uncertain about is the 'Ever since the start of this year' part. Has he been setting something like this up every year to have something ready when needed? More like, was that an intended implication?

Mind, the second part only occured to me after I read the reviews re Ch29 Notes.

Comment by major on Rationality is Systematized Winning · 2009-04-03T22:42:25.950Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Naive argument coming up.

How Omega decides what to predict or what makes it's stated condition for B (aka. result of "prediction") come true, is not relevant. Ignoring the data that says it's always/almost always correct, however, seems ... not right. Any decision must be made with the understanding that Omega is most likely to predict it. You can't outsmart it by failing to update it's expected state of mind in the last second. The moment you decide to two-box is the moment Omega predicted, when it chose to empty box B.

Consider this:

Andy: "Sure, one box seems like the good choice, because Omega would take the million away otherwise. OK. ... Now that the boxes are in front of me, I'm thinking I should take both. Because, you know, two is better than one. And it's already decided, so my choice won't change anything. Both boxes."

Barry: "Sure, one box seems like the good choice, because Omega would take the million away otherwise. OK. ... Now that the boxes are in front of me, I'm thinking I should take both. Because, you know, two is better than one. Of course the outcome still depends on what Omega predicted. Say I choose both boxes. So if Omega's prediction is correct this time, I will find an empty B. But maybe Omega was wrong THIS time. Sure, and maybe THIS time I will also win the lottery. How it would have known is not relevant. The fact that O already acted on it's prediction doesn't make it more likely to be wrong. Really, what is the dilemma here? One box."

Ok, I don't expect that I'm the first person to say all this. But then, I wouldn't have expected anybody to two-box, either.

Comment by major on Rationality is Systematized Winning · 2009-04-03T18:06:14.310Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

After all, your decision can't empty box B, since the contents of box B are determinate by the time you make your decision.

Hello. My name is Omega. Until recently I went around claiming to be all-knowing/psychic/whatever, but now I understand lying is Wrong, so I'm turning over a new leaf. I'd like to offer you a game.

Here are two boxes. Box A contains $1,000, box B contains $1,000,000. Both boxes are covered by touch-sensitive layer. If you choose box B only (please signal that by touching box B), it will send out a radio signal to box A, which will promptly disintegrate. If you choose both boxes (please signal that by touching box A first), a radio signal will be sent out to box B, which will disintegrate it's content, so opening it will reveal an empty box.

(I got the disintegrating technology from the wreck of a UFO that crashed into my barn, but that's not relevant here.)

I'm afraid, if I or my gadgets detect any attempt to temper with the operation of my boxes, I will be forced to disqualify you.

In case there is doubt, this is the same game I used to offer back in my deceitful days. The difference is, now the player knows the rules are enforced by cold hard electronics, so there's no temptation to try and outsmart anybody.

So, what will it be?