Comment by tim on Time management and Do your tasks in a different order · 2016-08-22T05:33:26.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know it will take me 10 minutes to get gas, 30 minutes to go to the grocery store and some as-of-yet unknown amount of time to deploy a new build of a website to the production server (things might go smoothly, or I might be spending several hours trying to track down some configuration error).

If I can survive until tomorrow without filling my car with gas and getting food at the store, it doesn't make any sense to do those "fixed tasks" first and then risk not having enough time to complete the "flexible" (yet more immediately important) task.

Your examples conflate the idea of a task that takes a variable amount of time and task that isn't particularly important. You need to shower and dress for your appointment whether or not it takes 20 minutes every time. What you're really saying is, "do the most important tasks first then, if you have time, do some less important tasks" - which isn't particularly insightful.

Comment by tim on The increasing uselessness of Promoted · 2016-04-02T09:52:32.231Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good lord. I haven't been on LW in quite a while, but I wholeheartedly agree.

The collection of articles currently on the front page are painfully useless to someone looking to discuss "the art of human rationality" rather than be inundated with content blatantly serving the interests of a particular company/organization.

This content will (for the most part) appeal to people already in the fold. But what, in any way would a newcomer to the site gain from articles titled:

  • Why Is Our Company Great? Click Here To Find Out!
  • Donate Money To Us, Please!
  • Read About What Our Company Does - It's Super Important!
  • Please, Take Our Survey And Maybe WIN BIG!

Are these massively unfair oversimplifications of the actual content of the articles? Yes. Are these roughly along the lines of what a newcomer to the site will hear in their brain when they look at the front page? Almost certainly.

Comment by tim on LINK: An example of the Pink Flamingo, the obvious-yet-overlooked cousin of the Black Swan · 2015-11-06T07:26:49.241Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I was fortunate enough to enter a percent sign after my estimate which resulted in an explicit warning, but an open-ended text box is not a great way to structure this poll.

Comment by tim on Crazy Ideas Thread - October 2015 · 2015-10-10T00:26:32.261Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


I am interested in your idea but based on your description, I am legitimately uncertain as to how it is measurably different from what Google already does.

I am certainly not saying that Google is and always will be the best.

Comment by tim on Crazy Ideas Thread - October 2015 · 2015-10-09T06:03:08.034Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That conveys a much different impression than

What I want is to input any blob of data and output should be all possible relations this blob of data has with any other blob of data. ... If I input a picture, all pictures of the same object(s) is the natural answer this GLT should return.

And how is this functionality

Millions of filters would be inside GLT, already. Yours may be added. It is a main advantage over Google.

any different from Google in the first place? Are you implying they aren't already mining information regarding each user's search-revision and link-clicking habits to improve their filters as whole?

Comment by tim on Crazy Ideas Thread - October 2015 · 2015-10-08T03:15:17.328Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I dunno. I don't think I would use what you're describing over Google. Filtering the associations with little to no work from the end user is huge. If I type "register s" into google, it instantly understands that I want to know about registering scripts in due to my previous search history, the types of sites I visit, etc.

I think you are underestimating what a tremendous pain in the ass it will be to manually filter through the massive number of associations with a particular string.

In incognito mode "register script" gives links to various resources (WGA/Library of Congress/etc) directed at screenwriters along with sites directed towards programming in languages I don't know and don't care about. And this is after Google has removed/hidden links it believes to be spammy or generally unhelpful toward people who make this search.

Comment by tim on The Trolley Problem and Reversibility · 2015-09-30T06:03:11.211Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I am not a deontologist, but it's clear you're painting the entire school of thought with a fairly broad brush.

However, deontologists would say that you don’t have the right to make that decision.

It is hard to argue against this conclusion, assuming that there is a strong moral obligation for Aaron not to flick the switch, along the lines of “Do not kill”.

I can’t see any pathway to find a logical contradiction, but I can’t imagine that many people would defend this state of affairs.

It is hoped that this post won’t be oversimplified into a, “this is why you are wrong” post, but to help deontologists understand and refine their commitments better.

The entire tone of the post reeks of strawmanning. There is no discussion regarding how different sets of deontological rules might come to seperate conclusions. Each premise is assumed to be correct and there is zero effort made to exploring why it might be wrong (see: steel manning). And finally, almost every paragraph ends with a statement along the lines of:

  • " seems..."
  • "...seems consistent with..."
  • "...I can’t imagine that..."
  • "...this doesn’t seem..."
  • "...seems strange to suggest..."
  • "...this seems like a very hard position to defend."

If you ignore the ethical prescriptivism, there's not a whole lot of substance left.

Comment by tim on Stupid Questions September 2015 · 2015-09-04T05:38:46.694Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Every game has rules and every rule can be gamed. What makes you think that sociopaths are rendered less threatening when living in a capitalist society? If anything, it seems like capitalism would be a highly advantageous environment for a sociopath compared to a society where all important economic entities are mired in government oversight.

Comment by tim on Meta post: Did something go wrong? · 2015-09-01T04:00:57.875Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I guess...

But I would never think to navigate to the FAQ of a site and scroll through several hundred lines of completely unrelated text to find an instance of the link which allows me to then view a comprehensive collection of new content from said site.

Comment by tim on Meta post: Did something go wrong? · 2015-09-01T03:50:08.115Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So, no?

Comment by tim on An accidental experiment in location memory · 2015-09-01T03:25:56.879Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This doesn't seem particularly odd to me. If someone moved the ignition of your car up by 20mm, I bet you'd slam your key into the surrounding plastic at least a couple times.

Comment by tim on Meta post: Did something go wrong? · 2015-09-01T03:11:53.978Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is this a link that is supposed to be readily accessible? A quick search through the source of this page doesn't turn up any hits for "all/new" outside your post here and it's corresponding entry in the recent comments section.

Maybe this obvious to regular users of reddit, but I had no idea you could filter lists of posts with the /r/ syntax.

Comment by tim on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-27T03:24:37.965Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This feeds directly into what the OP has just broken free from: a cycle of continuously re-convincing himself that this relationship might not be what it appears on the surface and that he still has a responsibility to the other party.

One-sided advice is exactly what the brain needs to stop it from falling back to the endless well of excuses and rationalizations.

Comment by tim on Personal story about benefits of Rationality Dojo and shutting up and multiplying · 2015-08-27T03:00:57.013Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Setting aside emotion and simply doing the math is certainly worthy of praise in of itself. But I feel this anecdote would be better served after you have gone through with the purchase, lived in the house for a period of time and been able to say unequivocally: "I am really happy that we live in this house."

The pending uncertainty over the actual outcome casts a pretty big shadow over "yay we did rationality!"

Comment by tim on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-26T04:43:33.547Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While I don't agree with the way they phrased their explanation, it's akin to saying "I'm not sure if 2 + 2 = 4 is true, but I am sure it can't equal anything else." Then falling back to "but there could be oddities in the foundation of mathematics that I'm not aware of" when pressed on the inconsistency.

If you claim that your understanding of logic isn't exhaustive, I don't see how you can also claim that X is logically impossible. ("I'm not a car expert but there is no possible way the problem is with the engine")

Comment by tim on Why people want to die · 2015-08-26T03:28:58.356Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Huh, I have harbored that misconception for a really long time. Pretty annoyed that I never thought to examine that statistic further (it just sounds so right!). Thank you.

e: regardless of the fact that there is a decade or so of actual increased lifespan between the two periods, this still solidly harpoons my analogy.

Comment by tim on Why people want to die · 2015-08-25T05:09:30.865Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

How much of this effect is an inherent effect of evolution + aging and how much is the effect of the surrounding social and cultural norms? Do elderly people who still have a well-established, high-status place in society and actively contribute to its well being also experience the sensation of "waiting for death?"

Comment by tim on Why people want to die · 2015-08-25T04:49:54.289Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not really buying the analogy between massive wealth and superlongevity. Virtually unlimited access to super-stimulation such as fame, drugs and any other rush you could want to get your hands on doesn't seem all that comparable to an unlimited supply of everyday normal life.

The everyday reality of living forever isn't going to be shockingly more exciting than regular ol' not living forever. There will be new awesome and crazy stuff, but you'll have had lifetimes to grow used to them. People born into them will think of them like how we currently think of small handheld computers that can connect us to almost everyone we've ever known and effortlessly tap into a huge reservoir of collected human knowledge.

Seems more analogous to looking at the average level of wealth/lifespan in 1700 and wondering how our brains could ever handle the lavish living conditions and doubled life expectancy of 2015.

Comment by tim on Rationality Quotes Thread August 2015 · 2015-08-07T02:02:18.424Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Because it's a fully general counterargument against caring about or doing anything. That you shouldn't care about something because it is temporary is poison. I can't even imagine the hell we would live in if views like this were widely and earnestly adopted.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jul. 27 - Aug 02, 2015 · 2015-07-28T02:24:27.259Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am probably misunderstanding something here, but doesn't this

Then the correct guess, if you don't know whether a given question is "easy" or "hard"...

Basically say, "if you have no calibration whatsoever?" If there are distinct categories of questions (easy and hard) and you can't tell which questions belong to which category, then simply guessing according to your overall base rate will make your calibration look terrible - because it is

Comment by tim on (Rational) website design and cognitive aesthetics generally- why no uptake? · 2015-07-25T03:51:43.489Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But what are you basing that that off of? There are a ridiculous number of confounding factors that might explain why a particular website doesn't conform to the latest studies in web usability (money, time, the site gets tons of hits already, management is hard to talk to, etc) outside of "professional web designers don't seem to use [empirical web design data]."

And if you go beyond the web designers themselves then you are really just asking why companies/corporations don't tirelessly invest in making the best website possible.

Comment by tim on (Rational) website design and cognitive aesthetics generally- why no uptake? · 2015-07-24T02:32:57.785Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is the premise that modern sites do not take studies on aesthetics/usability/effectiveness into account even true? I've moved into web development over the past 8 months or so and I regularly search for topics such as "log in vs sign in," "ok cancel button placement" and "optimal web page navigation."

It seems to me that there is no shortage of studies, opinions and hard evidence on display regarding the (in)effectiveness of particular web design choices. Granted not every google hit is going to cite a formal study, but a surprising amount do. Googling the above over the past ten minutes or so has given me references to a study on optimal text layout, a study on label placement/alignment, why dropdown menus apparently suck, and how presenting users with too many choices is detrimental to user engagment (admittedly this one was generalized to the web after the fact).

Comment by tim on (Rational) website design and cognitive aesthetics generally- why no uptake? · 2015-07-24T02:05:05.917Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Regardless of the content of either of those sites, the first is clearly more aesthetically pleasing despite the lack of shit moving around on the page. Scrolling to the bottom of the second (which shouldn't even be a thing at all: it's like a <100px scroll on a standard monitor and even hiding the taskbar and bookmarks toolbar in Chrome still leaves a miniscule amount of vertical scroll) reveals a copyright footer (and "top" link!) that is almost comically out of place after viewing the content above it. I would be very surprised if this site worked because of its modern web facade rather than in spite of it.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jul. 20 - Jul. 26, 2015 · 2015-07-23T04:13:08.423Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Clarity, you have a large number of comments with incorrect Wikipedia links. Your "introspective illusion" comment directly above this one does it correctly. You clearly are capable of generating functional links to Wikipedia pages.

Please take a few minutes to make your recent comments less frustrating to read. It is frankly astounding that so many people have given you this feedback and you are still posting these broken links.

Comment by tim on On the Galactic Zoo hypothesis · 2015-07-17T04:13:14.120Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's this extremely intelligent alien species that has evolved a distinct sense of morality very similar to our own, just more rigid. So rigid that they are incapable of even comprehending the way we might think. And we view killing them just as we view recycling computers.

What happens next?

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jul. 13 - Jul. 19, 2015 · 2015-07-15T02:36:59.468Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Are you confused as to why politicians would repeat a phrase that reliably energizes their political base even though it may not represent reality completely accurately?

Comment by tim on Inaugral bump thread (12th July to 19th July) · 2015-07-13T05:12:42.845Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They don't create a new discussion post drawing attention to an old thread once a week, no. Whether there is one person a week who would make the same post in a less obtrusive thread dedicated to such posts is another question.

The existence of the Open Thread complicates the issue a bit as well.

Comment by tim on Inaugral bump thread (12th July to 19th July) · 2015-07-13T02:10:38.406Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I believe you're supposed to link to a past post you feel is valuable enough that people who missed its initial appearance in discussion should go back and read it. The idea of this thread being that you don't have to create a new post and clutter up discussion to do so.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-07-03T03:27:12.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Complicating factor: if maintaining a good relationship with my parent might slightly increase the amount I expect to be able to donate to effective charities at the cost of (in expectation) making me less happy, does this change my obligations?

I can't lend you any specific advice here, but I'm pretty confident that this is an insane thing to even consider considering in the situation you describe.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-30T05:50:32.545Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

On the face of it, I don't feel that this particular risk differentiates itself enough from "what if [insert subtle end-of-times scenario here]?" to be worthy of specific consideration. It's a lot of what ifs and perhapses.

Comment by tim on Praising the Constitution · 2015-06-30T03:24:27.044Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While I agree that the process seems absurd on the face of it, I don't think it's as nonsensical as it appears at first glance.

It's way, way easier to have a small group of people re-interpret a static text over and over than it is to have a larger group of people, accountable to an even larger group of constituents, write new text that they all agree on over and over.

edit: I guess basically what I'm saying is that democracy is hard and this is a nice out?

Comment by tim on The great quote of rationality a la Socrates (or Plato, or Aristotle) · 2015-06-23T23:19:39.208Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This a great example of a question that belongs in the Open Thread.

Comment by tim on Happiness interventions · 2015-06-21T06:21:14.343Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Re: the linked site. Browsing the homepage raises so many red flags that it's borderline overwhelming.

  • Offering me a free 45-page report? - Awesome, what do I get if I pay you money?

  • 16 Happiness Ideas That Really Work! - Um, good? Is this seriously BuzzFeed style clickbait?

  • Direct Brain Stimulation, a Trillion Dollar Invention? - Wow that's a lot of money, I'd better start reading right now!

And this overtly manipulative style continues for basically the entire first page of posts.

Admittedly everything that I've pointed out is entirely unrelated to the actual content - it may be well researched and worthy of a second chance. But there are so many blatant attempts to manipulate the reader to click click click that I find it extremely difficult to take seriously right from the start. The broken links in the OP don't help at all.

Comment by tim on We Should Introduce Ourselves Differently · 2015-06-19T06:17:30.102Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is not directly related to the wording of the introduction, but to the accessibility of the homepage to new users.

I have been an avid lurker/reader of LW since the beginning. Over the past year or two, I have almost exclusively read the discussion forum due to it's high turnover rate and greater density of "bite-size" ideas that tend to require less time to process and understand than promoted posts.

Only recently I've realized that a noticeable part of the reason I immediately click "Discussion" after navigating to my bookmark is

  1. My eyes glaze over the "Less Wrong is..." section which I find overly verbose and unnecessary (e.g. Less Wrong --> bullet points: community blog --> discussion board --> rationality materials -- communicates the same information in a much more clear and upfront fashion. No one stumbling upon this site cares if the blog is "curated" or that our rationality materials are "edited" - they want to see the content).

  2. This may seem like a minor thing but: the two sections below the LessWrong banner are "MAIN" and "DISCUSSION" (are we LessWrong or Less Wrong? The banner and says one thing and the text below says another. There is a lot of variability just in the posts below). The "MAIN" link is rendered in bold by default. I click the "unvisited" link that indicates that it will take me to different content. After the layout change it took me many visits to realize that clicking "MAIN" took me to which displays the actual content + previews of promoted posts. I really really think that the "MAIN" link on the homepage should not be in bold type unless you are on the ~/promoted or ~/comments pages.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jun. 8 - Jun. 14, 2015 · 2015-06-09T05:19:06.660Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

She may very well have magical powers, but the assumption that she is using them solely for his benefit and not misleading or manipulating him to her own ends is primarily what I take issue with.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jun. 8 - Jun. 14, 2015 · 2015-06-09T03:45:53.893Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Unless I missed an extremely large piece of evidence regarding the red-lord-of-light-lady's trustworthiness, I don't think we can say any assessment is "completely justified." My impression of Stannis' new advisor is someone with a nice looking bag of tricks that likes to take credit when things go right and likes to counsel faith and patience when things go wrong.

She could also be the real thing. She could also be the real thing but have her own selfish motives. She could be westerosi-satan tempting Stannis in preparation to suck him into eternal damnation.

While condemning Stannis solely on the "ick" factor of his actions is inadequate, so is calculating the utility of those actions starting from "the red lady is telling the truth."

Comment by tim on Confession Thread: Mistakes as an aspiring rationalist · 2015-06-04T06:08:03.180Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly this. I am a big fish in a small pond. I have been seriously programming for about a year now and I am far and away the most technically skilled person at my (completely-non-technically-focused) business.

I have learned more in this past year than I did through all 4.5 years of college. I am given a tremendous amount of freedom in the approach I take to solving problems which allows me to constantly say to myself, "hey, the way I've been doing this before works...but I bet I can take an hour and learn a better way."

Initially I was writing VBA macros to automate the more menial aspects of my job. That eventually became insufficient for what I wanted to do and I moved on to C# and wrote a sizeable WinForms application which expanded my automation to other departments within the company. This eventually led to a promotion to a more formally technical position and I now have the pleasure of learning the ropes of ASP.NET, JavaScript, CSS to continue the development of our online inventory tracking system - used by employees, clients and various business partners.

(I use "pleasure" a bit loosely as web programming is turning out to be far more absurd than anything I've done in desktop development. I've spent hours and hours working around various quirks that only affect specific versions of IE under certain circumstances. Which I'm sure is par for the course but holy hell what a culture shock.)

I have gotten better at dealing with internal bureaucracy and politics; I've learned how to speak slower and give effective, understandable presentations; and I've become proficient at learning the ins and outs of a business that I have no inherent interest in outside of the fact that understanding it allows me to design more effective software for the people I work with day in and day out.

While my situation is certainly not the norm, being a "big fish in a small pond" can open many doors for personal growth and learning if you are fortunate enough to find yourself in a job where you are able, willing and allowed to exploit your position to relentlessly learn and improve your skills throughout the course of everyday activity.

edit: more in the spirit of the thread, this sort of position can lead to a lot of undeserved self confidence and leads to some harsh wakeup calls when you run across a big fish in a big pond. It can also get rather lonely when you don't have a mentor figure to turn to on a daily basis and more or less have to wing things you don't quite understand yet. I've had several moments of intense embarrassment where, leaning on past successes, I pushed my position far too aggressively and ended up unnecessarily costing myself and my company time and money that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, Jun. 1 - Jun. 7, 2015 · 2015-06-04T02:29:13.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I have a particularly extreme fear of public speaking, but it certainly makes me feel very nervous. People are investing their time and attention into what you have to say and if you disappoint them, you have a whole room full of people that are immediately allied against you in their distaste for what you provided them in return for that attention.

Disappointing a few people in a crowd of many is nothing. Disappointing the crowd is fucking terrifying.

Comment by tim on Less Wrong lacks direction · 2015-05-27T02:48:20.660Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, but it's not fair to start with "given that I read a post and it was on a personal blog..." if the odds of you reading said post in the first place is higher when posted on LW rather than someone's personal blog that you may not be aware of or check regularly.

Comment by tim on Open Thread, May 11 - May 17, 2015 · 2015-05-12T03:32:59.824Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the spirit of Lumifer's comment, anything we would consider an entity would have to be able to learn or we wouldn't be considering it at all.

Comment by tim on If You Like This Orange... · 2015-04-02T03:37:05.654Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Oooh I see. Now the post is interesting and worthwhile.

Comment by tim on Pratchett, Rationality, and Winning · 2015-03-18T06:23:06.694Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I read a tremendous amount of Overcoming Bias/The Sequences/Less Wrong from ages ~18-21 as I was transitioning from high school and into college. I cannot overstate how much this exposure impacted my mindset during these - generally tumultuous - years.

I don't recall ever feeling that I should be ~doing something more~ or doing anything other than exploring the world around me as I decided what I wanted to do with my life.

While a lot of the drive behind Less Wrong has evolved to emphasize optimal investment/philanthropy/career choices/etc, I don't think the underlying ideas and motivations behind "LW-style rationality" would condemn anyone for pursuing and exploring what they were interested in, regardless of level of salary or status associated with what they loved.

Comment by tim on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-17T03:53:01.360Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't give you a downvote, but I certainly want to downvote the linked site for a header that responds in a particularly nauseating fashion to the scroll wheel.

Comment by tim on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-06T03:16:55.482Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Harry weirdly ignored the missing recognition code on LV's forged message.

This is not how (Harry's) recognition code works. It is used to identify exact(ish) copies of himself because he is the only one - barring magical mental shenanigans - that can immediately recognize it. Writing it down on a piece of paper and then giving that piece of paper to someone else would defeat the purpose entirely.

Comment by tim on Three Kinds of Cost · 2015-03-05T06:40:14.091Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This article is a great hands on demonstration regarding the opportunity cost of of reading 1,600 words explaining what Wikipedia can in less than 100.

Comment by tim on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-05T04:46:34.334Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I admit I did forget about that specific incident.

However, Dumbledore going cell to cell in Azkaban and Lord Voldemort attempting to subvert a prophecy predicting the end of the world in a fixed, controlled location seem like two very different things from a reader perspective.

It is also implied that Dumbledore did sense Harry's magic - at least on some level.

...the strongest had only as much magic left as a first-year child.

But he dismisses this because he is looking for a wizard strong enough to break into Azkaban and free Bellatrix Black. Lord Voldemort on the other hand, should be immediately and unconditionally suspicious of any and all magic he senses from Harry Potter.

Comment by tim on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-05T04:24:10.873Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am assuming that Voldemort, about to attempt the subversion of a prophecy to destroy the world, is not standing around in a graveyard with Harry Potter, a recently reanimated Hermione with unicorn powers and a bunch of Death Eaters of at least slightly questionable loyalty without any detection spells raised at all.

Comment by tim on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-05T04:14:52.099Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The biggest problem for me is that when I imagine myself reading these events and Voldemort going, "A nice try but I can sense whatever transfiguration trick it is that you're using. Thank you, that will take me some time to perfect in my eternity," I don't feel surprised.

Throwing additional stipulations and conditions into the situation doesn't change the fact that the way in which Voldemort loses is not convincing.

It doesn't feel like Harry earned the win because I can just as easily imagine Voldemort laughing at Harry's childish tricks and killing him. For the finale to truly be satisfying, there has to be a specific, pre-established reason why Voldemort was unable to defend against Harry's tactics and, at least in my mind, this was not the case.

Simply being unaware of partial transfiguration doesn't cut it. This is a person who casts nearly thirty charms to discuss sensitive information in Mary's room and recognizes the value of ambush and surprise attacks. Yet in his final moment of securing his eternity is unable to sense transfigured material winding its way around himself and his followers. Material transfigured by person he has a known magical resonance with.

It simply does not feel reasonable for Voldemort to lose like this, no matter how many addendums are added to justify his behavior in these final chapters.

Comment by tim on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-05T03:45:59.196Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

All that has to happen is that there is some entity that behaves and responds in the same way that Mr. Counsel does. While it might be likely that the Mr. Counsel character is Lucius, there is nothing in the laws of time that prevent the person under that hood from being someone else - particularly because Harry took care not to look closely at the remains of the decapitated death eaters.

Comment by tim on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T04:34:36.150Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Waiting for the other foot to drop because, as I'm sure the comments are full of, it is completely absurd that a wizard as powerful as ~Lord Voldemort~ is incapable of detecting a transfigured spidersilk looping its way around him and his followers regardless of his unawareness of partial transfiguration.

It's still magic.

Wizards are not blind to magic around them created by methods they are unaware of. The patronus charm 2.0 was still noticeable by Quirrel and Dumbledore. When Harry demonstrated partial transfiguration, Dumbledore and McGonagall were surprised both by the effect itself and by how similar it appeared to normal transfiguration - "He simply Transfigured a part of the subject without Transfiguring the whole..."