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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9

10 Post author: Oscar_Cunningham 09 September 2011 01:29PM

(The HPMOR discussion thread after this one is here.)

The previous thread is over the 500-comment threshold, so let's start a new Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread.  This is the place to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter fanfic and anything related to it. The latest chapter as of 09/09/2011 is Ch. 77.

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.  The fanfiction.net author page is the central location for information about updates and links to HPMOR-related goodies, and AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author's Notes.

As a reminder, it's often useful to start your comment by indicating which chapter you are commenting on.

Spoiler Warning:  this thread is full of spoilers.  With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13.  More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it's fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that "Eliezer said X is true" unless you use rot13.

Comments (718)

Comment author: Solvent 20 September 2011 10:36:16AM 23 points [-]

Has it occurred to anyone else how good magic would be for psychological experimentation?

To start with, imagine you get the consent of your subjects to be Obliviated. Then, you can try exposing the subjects to differing stimuli while they're in exactly the same starting state, and you can precisely and easily measure the effect of whatever change you've made.

Even better, imagine the marketing opportunities. Think of Mr Hat and Cloak's dictionary attack, but with a focus group, and different advertisements for your new product. Show them the ad, then ask them how much they liked it, then Obliviate them again.

Also, you could try to remove the effect of priming on yourself with self-targeted obliviation.

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen, leaving you with only a note saying "Don't look at SqueeHorse" or something.

I really want magic.

Comment author: Micaiah_Chang 21 September 2011 07:21:08PM 12 points [-]

I wonder if there's a different attitude toward spoilers or "great works of art" in the Wizarding World because of memory charms. Hats which could charm endings or plots out of people's minds, people who would only read one book over and over again by repeatedly blasting it out of their heads, or museums/theme parks Obliviating any previous experience there so that every time is fresh.

Would also like to see Eliezer lampshade the Snape kills Dumbledore spoiler by having everyone present self obliviate or something similar.

Comment author: FAWS 20 September 2011 09:39:49PM 10 points [-]

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen

Is this an actual problem rather than just people making a show of how strongly they are disgusted by expressing the wish to unsee, asking for brain bleach etc?

Comment author: pedanterrific 20 September 2011 09:54:15PM *  4 points [-]

I dunno, you tell me.

Now see, if you had the ability to Obliviate yourself you would be able to find out what those links lead to.

Comment author: gwern 26 October 2011 04:52:01PM *  5 points [-]

Then, you can try exposing the subjects to differing stimuli while they're in exactly the same starting state, and you can precisely and easily measure the effect of whatever change you've made.

Somewhere on LW, I think, someone suggested that 'discovering perfect psychological manipulation' was a problem akin to NP - hard to find, easy to check. So give rationalist!Voldemort a time-turner, a servant, and a a dungeon...

Comment author: wedrifid 22 September 2011 09:40:23PM 3 points [-]

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen, leaving you with only a note saying "Don't look at SqueeHorse" or something.

Given that I was just prompted to google for SqueeHorse I have to wonder how well that would work. (I still don't understand why I wouldn't want to look at SqueeHorse. Is it even a thing?)

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 03 November 2011 06:46:04PM *  19 points [-]

I have an idea for an epic maneuver that a wizard could perform as a last resort in certain emergency situations. A severely wounded wizard could, if there is something of much greater utility then his own life on the line, transfigure himself into a healthy version of himself in order to continue the fight. This would be a death sentence, but still worth it if the stakes were high enough.

Then again Harry can already sustain a small transfigured object even in his sleep. Perhaps the most powerful of wizards could sustain a transfiguration on their own body indefinitely. Or... Professor McGonagall said that it would be possible for a child to transfigure themselves into an adult bodily form. Perhaps if the wizard could not sustain an object the size of their own body indefinitely after the emergency situation has passed they could again transfigure themselves into a adolescent, child, or midget form in order to achieve a body with a volume that they could sustain. Unless doing another transfiguration would cause the consequences of the previous transfiguration to be imposed on the new form. Though I don't see why that would necessarily be the case.

This would be a very fragile sort of existence. They would be much weaker due to the constant drain on their magic and incapacitation or anything that dispels the transfiguration would result in death.

Comment author: drethelin 05 November 2011 07:12:29AM 12 points [-]

It's also been noted that trolls are constantly transfiguring themselves into themselves, which lays a pretty good precedent for this kind of transfiguration!

Comment author: gwern 03 November 2011 11:15:13PM 5 points [-]

You know, that might work. I mean, it's well-known that "Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration" allows one to increase the amount of good food you have.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 22 December 2011 02:15:41AM 6 points [-]

...Is it just me, or should that create a post-scarcity economy? Because that lets you make food in ways that violate the conservation of energy.

How to survive as a wizard: 1. Get some nutritious, nonperishable food. 2. Make more. 3. Eat, but not all of it. 4. Repeat steps 2-3 indefinitely.

Water isn't a problem, since aguamenti conjures it.

So, question: why are there house elves? Why does Mrs. Weasley cook?

...Why can't the Weasleys buy a can of Coca-Cola, create as many more as they want and sell them? And do the same with hot dogs? And get rich?

No, seriously. That makes no sense. But that's a problem with canon, not MoR.

Comment author: gwern 22 December 2011 05:01:52AM 6 points [-]

The dark secret, AspiringKnitter, is that all the food magic actually works on the same principle as the Hogwarts Hall meals - enslaved house-elves in obscure kitchens. That they feel no need to mention this merely demonstrates how thoroughly wizarding society is based on slavery. (We didn't hear about the house-elves for how many books?)

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 22 December 2011 05:54:56AM *  2 points [-]

One, actually, but your point still stands. That is just plain creepy. Wait a minute. Why would it work for people who don't own house-elves, then?

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 03 November 2011 07:05:06PM 4 points [-]

Ha, I had another thought that this could explain professor Flitwick's size, but that is probably something that you would want to be common knowledge. You wouldn't want someone accidentally casting Finite on you. Then again I think it has been said that the effectiveness of Finite is depended on the power of the caster, so Flitwick being a former dueling champion may not need to fear it being accidentally dispelled.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 25 September 2011 03:43:16PM *  15 points [-]

While I was reading Harry Potter, I kept thinking that the House system was destructive, both in terms of making people impose restrictions on themselves, and creating deep divisions in the wizarding world. Hogwarts is in this sense the primary cause of both the previous and the coming wizard war.

In Eliezer's fiction, it's more apparent that the Hogwarts house system is a mindless, destructive mechanism set in motion hundreds of years ago that no one person can change or escape. Even Dumbledore couldn't abolish the house system; the political pressure would pop him out of Hogwarts like a cork from a champagne bottle.

I don't understand why Dumbledore can't maintain order among the students and protect them from each other, though... it seems to be within the powers of the Hogwarts faculty, if they set their minds to it.

Dumbledore and McGonagall's weaknesses are more apparent in Eliezer's fiction. Which would score realism points with me, except that the deconstruction of the perfect Dumbledore is balanced by the imagination of a perfect Harry.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 September 2011 10:33:30PM *  11 points [-]

Dumbledore and McGonagall's weaknesses are more apparent in Eliezer's fiction. Which would score realism points with me, except that the deconstruction of the perfect Dumbledore is balanced by the imagination of a perfect Harry.

Harry is far from perfect. He has his own glaring weaknesses. He's excessively clever (sometimes at the expense of wise or rational), his ego clouds his decisions, he is paranoid, incapable of relating to humans normally and shows disconcerting tendencies towards codependency.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 25 September 2011 06:25:23PM 9 points [-]

While I was reading Harry Potter, I kept thinking that the House system was destructive, both in terms of making people impose restrictions on themselves, and creating deep divisions in the wizarding world.

It's based to the actual House system used in British boarding schools.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 25 September 2011 07:00:35PM 3 points [-]

Yeah, but they don't determine your house by your personality or beliefs about blood purity.

Comment author: TuviaDulin 15 October 2011 04:14:21AM 6 points [-]

MoR Harry did seem like a Marty Stu in the early chapters, but the further I read, the less I thought so. For one thing, his intelligence is balanced out by egotism, insensitivity, and inability to think in the longterm. For another, most of his really impressive feats of intellect and willpower are actually owed to Voldemort's horcrux (his "dark side"), which means Harry doesn't get full credit for them. I think MoR Harry is far from perfect.

You're totally right about the house system, though. That's why I really love the subplot about Quirrel's armies; it breaks up the house system and lets all the students interact more. I'm so glad we got to know the Slytherin girls...

Comment author: wedrifid 15 October 2011 10:49:48AM 8 points [-]

MoR Harry did seem like a Marty Stu in the early chapters, but the further I read, the less I thought so. For one thing, his intelligence is balanced out by egotism, insensitivity, and inability to think in the longterm. For another, most of his really impressive feats of intellect and willpower are actually owed to Voldemort's horcrux (his "dark side"), which means Harry doesn't get full credit for them. I think MoR Harry is far from perfect.

Wait... you don't attribute dark side Harry to Harry? Damn. They're the main parts I empathize with!

Comment author: PhilGoetz 25 September 2011 03:55:47PM *  4 points [-]

BTW, we're told in canon there are other schools for wizards and witches, but everyone famous seems to have gone to Hogwarts. Why? There isn't even an entrance exam, and most of the teachers are incompetent; so it can't be either their selectiveness or the quality of their education.

How can we estimate the number of witches and wizards in the world from canon? And, also, the number of students at Hogwarts?

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 25 September 2011 05:30:30PM 6 points [-]

How can we estimate the number of witches and wizards in the world from canon? And, also, the number of students at Hogwarts?

J. K. Rowling was never too bothered with the numbers (by her own admission). In particular the total number of students in Hogwarts is portrayed as much greater than the number of students per year multiplied by seven, and the wizarding world is absurdly small but still far too large to account for the fact that there appears to be only one school in Britain.

Comment author: Atelos 26 September 2011 12:47:46PM 3 points [-]

Most of the teachers? Binns and Trelawney certainly, Snape, but arguably he's more unprofessional and unpleasant than incompetent. Often the defense professor is incompetent, I suppose. Canon!Harry had Lupin, Snape and fake Moody for competent defense professors and Quirrel, Lockhart and Umbridge for incompetent ones. We have no reason to doubt the teaching ability of Mcgonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Sinistra, Vector or Babbling. Burbage's Muggle studies course is often a subject of ridicule in fanfiction, but that might be a result of the (inter?)-national curriculum rather than her individual competence, and so would be no better at other schools. Hagrid's Care of Magical Creature's lessons were of very uneven quality, but he could teach well when he had his head together.

As to the preeminence of Hogwarts, perhaps its as simple as Hogwarts being the only British school with a comprehensive curriculum, the others focusing on particular areas of magic and functioning more or less as magical trade schools. We don't technically know that there's no entrance exam for the common witch or wizard, we just know Harry didn't have to take one, he could have been admitted as a legacy student or simply because he's the boy-who-lived. Or the barrier could be financial.

Comment author: Unnamed 03 November 2011 02:42:10AM 14 points [-]

It's been awhile since the last update, so here's a scene from the HPMOR in my head.

Hermione offers Harry a Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Bean, warning him that when they say "every flavour" they mean every flavour. The first one that Harry eats is booger-flavoured, and he gets frustrated about the foolish candy-makers, complaining that of all the flavours that he could've gotten, his first bean tasted like boogers. Hermione reminds him that it says "every flavour", so he shouldn't be surprised if it ended up tasting like something nasty. Harry has Hermione list flavours of Bertie Bott's beans that she has eaten, and then goes on a rant:

Out of all possible flavours, every single flavour that Hermione has mentioned is recognizable as something regularly found on or in the human body, and the majority are types of food. Harry tries to explain the concept of flavourspace - the entire set of all possible flavours - and what a skewed understanding of flavourspace wizards must have if "every flavour" beans only draw from the tiny proportion of flavourspace which they already regularly taste. So, yes, he should be surprised that the first bean he ate, which could have taken on any flavour in the vast universe of flavourspace, tasted like something that normally grows just inches from one's taste buds.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 07 November 2011 06:46:25PM 12 points [-]

Which MY head continues: The nature of magic turned out to be sensitive to that kind of notion, and the flavours not predetermined, so the very next one tastes like dementor or strangelet.

Comment author: Locke 27 December 2011 05:15:28PM 2 points [-]

If you tried to lick a dementor would you tongue be stuck to it?

Comment author: Armok_GoB 27 December 2011 07:06:16PM 2 points [-]

no, it'd be stuck in it. And then necrosis happens.

Comment author: orielwen 12 September 2011 12:50:42PM 14 points [-]

Chapter 76: "And that's why I can destroy Dementors and you can't," said the boy. "Because I believe that the darkness can be broken."

This is interesting, because it touches upon a thought I had about the Dementors back in Chapter 45. In canon, Dementors are manifestations not of death or even fear, but of despair. (I believe Rowling has said she drew upon her own experiences of depression.) That's why chocolate helps, why they generate feelings of hopelessness, why they take away happy memories and leave unhappy ones, and why their ultimate power is to put people into a coma rather than to kill them. None of this makes sense for a manifestation of death.

But Harry's response would work either way. A happy memory, a pleasant thought, can shield against despair, but it can't destroy it. Hope, on the other hand, true grim hope – the belief that things can be made better and, crucially, the unshakeable determination to make them so, not by thinking 'wouldn't it be nice if…' but by knuckling down and solving the insoluble problem – is the only true cure for despair. And that sort of hope, which Harry shows, is actually pretty hard to hold truly, which would explain why almost no-one else has found the same way that Harry has.

I don't believe this was Eliezer's intention. Harry's views on death are far too close to Eliezer's own as shown in http://yudkowsky.net/singularity/simplified for me to feel that the Dementors are intended to be anything else. But I quite like my interpretation. Aside from anything else, since that sort of hope can be reinforced by being shared (enhancing both resolve and the feeling that the task is possible), it leaves open the possibility for a Patronus 3.0 by group-casting.

Comment author: HonoreDB 12 September 2011 08:21:10PM 9 points [-]

I think what Harry says is heartfelt, but it's also a decent false trail to prevent Dumbledore from accidentally working out the secret and losing his ability to cast a Patronus.

Not that Dumbledore necessarily needs that. He's in a great position for doublethink: he can presumably use the Pensieve, label the memory "the secret of dementors and the Patronus charm," then Obliviate himself. Locking the basilisk away in a secret chamber, if you will.

Comment author: Pavitra 15 September 2011 03:11:35PM 13 points [-]

Chapter 14:

Otherwise we shall see you again three months later and you will be two years older and dressed in a loincloth and covered in snow and that's if you stay inside the castle.

If this sort of time-stretching effect could be controlled, it would be incredibly useful. One could research and prepare at leisure for an imminent attack, at a much better speedup than the mere 25% offered by Time-Turners. If it can go the other way as well, Salazar Slytherin might very well still be alive somewhere in Hogwarts.

Comment author: Solvent 20 September 2011 10:28:03AM 10 points [-]

The problem with encouraging LessWrongians to read your fanfic is that they spot the logical flaws in and/or ways to manipulate everything you describe. It's why I love this website.

Comment author: drethelin 15 September 2011 03:43:04PM 4 points [-]

we he could easily still be alive anyway, because it's known that philosopher's stones exist and who knows who is using one apart from flamel?

As far as this go, I would guess it's more of a joke on harry than anything significant.

Comment author: Desrtopa 21 September 2011 09:19:15PM 6 points [-]

we he could easily still be alive anyway, because it's known that philosopher's stones exist and who knows who is using one apart from flamel?

I would guess Flamel knows. He's the inventor, and considering that he's stated with confidence that Voldemort couldn't make one himself, and would need to go after the preexisting one, then there must be some really exceptional barriers to anyone else making them. Otherwise Voldemort could simply have imperiused or tortured anyone who could make one in order to get one for himself.

If there were any feasible way to gain control of a philosopher's stone without having to get one's hands on the Philosopher's Stone, it would completely break the story.

Comment author: pedanterrific 21 September 2011 09:47:35PM *  17 points [-]

Yes, but... just for the sake of argument...

Flamel is an inventor. And when assigning confidence in statements he makes about Philosopher's Stones, you need to bear in mind that he's the only inventor dumb enough to get caught. Anyone who independently invented it before him (or after) managed to keep it secret, that's all.

Or maybe there's more than one way to create a Philosopher's Stone and Flamel discovered the most difficult, so now he has an inflated idea of how hard it would be for someone else to duplicate his feat.

Or possibly Flamel is the Dread Pirate Roberts and there's no such thing as a Philosopher's Stone at all.

I'm not sure which explanation I like more, actually.

Comment author: Rubix 22 September 2011 01:43:12AM 4 points [-]

The fic often takes 'joke' aspects of magic and explores their less harmless uses. It leads the reader to be unwilling to take any reference as simply a joke - this as opposed to the original text, where the fact that it was meant to be a children's book led to a lot of bite-sized humorous references with enormous, unexplored potential.

Comment author: TobyBartels 27 September 2011 07:04:39PM 2 points [-]

Yes, but that's jokes by the narrator (or by the world), not jokes by the characters.

Comment author: moritz 30 November 2011 09:11:49AM 11 points [-]

Blocking the Unblockable Curse.

This is mostly related to canon, but also a bit to HPMoR.

I've always wondered why the killing curse counts as "unblockable". In "Order of the Phoenix", Dumbledore blocks it by moving a statue in its path. Seems to work nicely. There is other evidence that solids stop the killing curse -- if it went through it, you could accidentally kill somebody behind a wall when missing your target. Prof. Moody would surely have mentioned that danger when talking about the killing curse, if that was the case. So you could carry around a steel plate strong enough to block the curse, and quickly move it into its path. Not easy, but possible.

There are also several instances where simple spells conjure animals (I remember bats and small birds). I wonder if you could simply conjure an animal into the way of the killing curse. It might need to have a minimal size to work, but a powerful wizards should be able to do that.

I also wonder if there are ways to combine charms: one detection charm that triggers another one. For example one that detects killing curses, and enables apparation or a portkey.

So, one proven way to block a killing curse, one conjectural, and another conjectural way to escape it. I can't believe the wizards still call it "unblockable" :-)

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 30 November 2011 01:28:57PM 12 points [-]
Comment author: Zaine 04 April 2012 07:08:51AM *  3 points [-]

I'm pretty sure that 'unblockable' is meant to mean it was the only magic known to have no counter-effect, or counter-spell. Now Harry has discovered the true Patronus charm is the counter spell to Avada Kedavra. It makes sense when you think about it, which I'm sure is why Eliezer included it in the first place. The Dementors are voids of nothingness, into such nothingness tumble all living things once their life is extinguished (according to present evidence, anyway); in other words, the Dementors are parts of Death, but are not Death Incarnate (which can be summoned according to a Dark Ritual Quirrell read tell of as a spritely young lad). Thus, if the Patronus charm has the ability to repel a piece of Death, then in accordance with magic's apparent system of dualities, the Patronus charm must represent the opposite of Death: Life.

All but Harry cast their Patronus using memories, figments of the mind based upon reality; because they only conjure a thought reminiscent of all life can be, they can only manifest a fragment of life force to shield themselves from Death - an imperfect shield, permeable to Death.
Harry recognizes the two poles of reality: Death, or absence - and Life, or presence. Harry brings to mind all that reality really is to us, namely all that a life can ever possibly experience, and pushes that in the face of the part of Death that is Dementors.* Harry has this ability because he strives to and greatly succeeds in deceiving himself of nothing (he's not perfect - yet); through rationality he is able to have an accurate enough map of the territory that his conjured thought actually is a picture of all life can be, and so he can manifest the entirety of his Homo sapiens sapiens being. His Patronus not only represents but is pure life force, so it can overwhelm and obliterate imperfect representations of Death id est Dementors.

Likewise, as both Dementors and animal Patronuses are imperfect representations of their respective pole, their effects more or less cancel; an animal Patronuses' ability to repel a Dementor is in apparent proportion to its representative accuracy. Harry's true Patronus is the the form of Life itself, and so he can destroy Dementors and cancel Death; Dumbledore accepts most of the Life dimension of reality, and nearly all of the Death dimension of reality, and so his representation of Life, his Patronus, is the strongest and brightest yet mentioned.

Now comes the tricky part of this hypothesis. The Killing Curse is equal to death in that if struck by it, assuming no inherent rule of magic regarding altruistic protective love interferes, you will die. The true Patronus has demonstrated the ability to overpower and destroy imperfect representations of Death, as it is the duality opposing Death in true form. However, the Killing Curse and the true Patronus cancel, so it must then follow that the Killing Curse is Death in true form, but not Death Incarnate.

However, this theory is completely blown away if the true Patronus doesn't cancel the Killing Curse at all, that Harry blocked Quirrell's Avada Kedavra merely by effecting an interaction of their magic. Whether the true Patronus can truly block the Killing Curse remains to be seen.

*From what I've gleaned from the text, I do not think Harry's statement, "I think of the absolute rejection of Death as the natural order [paraphrased]," accurately reflects his thought processes preceding the casting of the true Patronus; to reject Death is to acknowledge it, and I don't think Harry acknowledges Death at all when casting the charm. Furthermore, I do not even think it possible to cast the true Patronus when thinking of Death at all. When casting the charm, Harry calls to mind all that Death isn't, and all that life is; he thinks purely of life, with not even a single shard of a thought of Death in mind.

As an aside, I find it particularly clever how in contrasting everyone else in the wizarding world, or agents of general humanity, with Harry, an agent of rationality, Eliezer characterizes animal Patronuses as akin to the self-deceptions and biases of most of humanity, and the true Patronus as akin to the power earned through the diligent application of rationalist techniques to everyday life, through elucidating the difference between animals'** capacity for understanding and human capacity for understanding.
**Excludes humans as a subset; the sentence becomes awkward otherwise.

Comment author: Alsadius 17 December 2012 08:58:38AM 3 points [-]

My assumption was always just that the "summon death" bit referred to creating a Dementor, and that they are much more directly about death than simple nothingness. This isn't necessarily implied by the text, but it seems the more likely explanation.

And yes, you can definitely argue with the author about their own characters, to a certain extent. (I.e., "He'd never do X, Y is way more like him!" okay, "Harry is actually a 57-year-old woman!" not okay). You're well within the lines here.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 22 December 2011 02:03:58AM 2 points [-]

That's ridiculous. It's ridiculous that the curse would be considered unblockable under those circumstances and ridiculous that I didn't think of that already.

And yet... it seems you're right. In fact, now I think it would make sense for wizards to use shields in duels.

Comment author: Serpentsong 21 January 2012 05:37:54AM 10 points [-]

An idle bit of speculation, which has probably been brought up before, but it occurred to me that MoR Voldemort, being more intelligent than his canonical counterpart, may not have seen fit to stop at a mere 7 horcruxes. Why not simply make as many as (in)humanly possible, rather than adhering to some superstitious wishy-washy stuff about "7 is a powerfully magic number"? It is almost certain that the mechanics of horcrux-construction in MoR are different from those in canon (e.g. mind-upload rather than soul-splitting), so perhaps the limit that Canon!Voldemort faced (unstable soul-fragments) is not something that would be encountered in quite the same form as MoR!Voldemort.

To provide the merest scrap of substance to my speculation, I noticed that in Chapter 53 (TSPE, Part III), Quirrell states:

“Yess,” hissed the snake, “but do not underesstimate her, sshe wass the deadliesst of warriorss.” The green head dipped in warning. “One would be wisse to fear me, boy, even were I sstarved and nine-tenthss dead..."

The bolded interests me, partly because of something Dumbledore states in Chapter 61 (TSPE, Part XI):

"...Voldemort’s final avenue is to seduce a victim and drain the life from them over a long period; in which case Voldemort would be weak compared to his former power."

Slowly draining a victim's life and being weak compared to his former power is certainly what occurred with Canon Voldemort possessing Canon Quirrell--perhaps MoR Quirrelmort benefits from a similar arrangement? If so, the adjective "starving" certainly fits.

Now, we already know that Quirrelmort likes to play ironic little games with what he says--in fact, he admits as much himself in chapter 51: The lips twitched again, and then went flat. "Then I shall skip it. Mr. Potter, you sometimes make a game of lying with truths, playing with words to conceal your meanings in plain sight. I, too, have been known to find that amusing."

To return to the point, if hypothetically describing himself as "starving" falls into the same class of ironically veiled truth-statements Quirrelmort enjoys dropping from time to time (see ch. 49: "If only You-Know-Who had lived, you might have persuaded him to teach you some of the knowledge that would have been your heritage, from one Heir of Slytherin to another," or perhaps "Tell them I ate [the dementor]"--->"I am a death-eater", or again 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), what might be the import of "nine-tenths dead"?

My thought was simply that "nine-tenths dead" might be a clue as to the number of Horcruxes MoR!Voldemort created.

Comment author: Locke 21 January 2012 06:02:55AM 3 points [-]

If there are any negative repercussions of Horcrux-making in MoR, and I'm fairly certain there are, I should think Quirrell would have no good reason to make any Horcruxes besides the one. It's absolutely unreachable, why damage your soul any further?

Comment author: Serpentsong 22 January 2012 07:48:53AM *  3 points [-]

Any reason(s) in particular that you're certain that Horcrux-creation would have detrimental effects significant enough that Voldemort would create only one, maximum? I assume it must have some detrimental effects, because otherwise, given a Rational Dark Lord armed with a time-turner, we'd be looking at Horcruxes proliferating as fast as he can make them. Tens or hundreds or thousands of horcruxes, one on every muggle device launched into or out of orbit, if he could manage it.

I notice that you seem to take for granted the existence of "souls" in MoR, which is far from certain. Actually I would rate the possibility as decidedly uncertain, since 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. And as prasannak noted, Harry has raised the alternate hypothesis that horcrux creation is less soul-fragmentation and more mind-uploading: "Maybe he found some way of duplicating the power of the Resurrection Stone, only he loaded it in advance with a complete copy of his brain state. Or something like that." (Chapter 39)


And I just remembered a brief exchange between Quirrell and Harry in chapter 46, which (to me, at least) hints at the existence of more than one horcrux. Quirrell asks Harry, hypothetically speaking, where he would choose to "lose something where no one would ever find it again." (I assumed he was being all ironic again and was talking about horcruxes.) Harry reeled off a list of about 5 possible hiding places, to which Quirrell responds "All excellent suggestions... But tell me, Mr. Potter, why those exact five? ...There is an interesting pattern to them.... One might say it sounds like something of a riddle." (Riddle? Irony overload.)

It just dawned on me that those 5 hiding places could only be clues to a riddle (the riddle of where Voldemort chose to hide all his horcruxes) if they didn't encompass the complete set of all horcrux hiding places, meaning that there are probably more than 5. Additionally, those 5 hiding places would only be good "clues" if they were themselves correct hiding places, from which further hiding places could be extrapolated based on some sort of shared similarity.

Comment author: Locke 22 January 2012 04:06:57PM *  2 points [-]

V jnf haqre gur vzcerffvba gung rirelguvat nobhg fbhyf naq gur nsgreyvsr sebz pnaba ubyqf gehr va ZbE. Ryvrmre fgngrq gung Uneel svaqf uvzfrys va n havirefr jvgu na nsgreyvsr juvyr abg oryvrivat va na nsgreyvsr, ohg guvf vf abg n synj va uvf engvbanyvgl orpnhfr Ebjyvat jebgr ab npghny rivqrapr bs gurfr guvatf vagb ure havirefr.

Comment author: Serpentsong 23 January 2012 12:05:45AM 2 points [-]

Do you mean Eliezer said that in an author's comment or something? If so I concede the point, though the text of MoR doesn't appear to me to support the existence of either souls or afterlife (even ghosts are less sapient than they are in canon).

I'm also doubtful about it from a story-telling standpoint, since if spiritual immortality for humans exists by default, it would make all of Harry's stated ambitions to achieve transhuman immortality in the material universe, for everyone, a bit pointless and perhaps even restrictive (that's a whole new world you never get to explore, if you never die). Also, since MoR has a certain didactic function, for Eliezer to establish spiritual immortality in the Rationality!verse would kind of take away from the impact of his anti-death and pro-cryonics sentiments.

As regards your comment about Rowling, I think in canon there's at least one piece of evidence strongly supporting the existence of an afterlife. In Deathly Hallows, during the "King's Cross" scene when Harry is AK'd into Limbo by Voldemort, Harry ostensibly meets the departed soul of Dumbledore, who tells him all manner of things (regarding his own past and the Deathly Hallows) that only the true Dumbledore would know. If one is particularly skeptical, one can write this off as total delusion on Harry's part (thus rendering suspect everything "Dumbledore" tells him), but that would go completely against the spirit of the story.

Comment author: prasannak 22 January 2012 05:35:48AM 2 points [-]

Because he is nothing if not thorough?

And a mind-upload might not have negative repercussions in MoR, vis-a-vis canon.

Comment author: matheist 07 January 2012 12:43:47AM *  10 points [-]

Re Chp 35

I searched all the threads, and didn't find any mention of this. There's a hint in the conversation between Hat&Cloak and Zabini: namely, the fact that there is a conversation at all. Why does H&C need to talk to Zabini if he's just going to obliviate him anyway? Here's one possible answer: he needs some information from Zabini.

I don't think he needs Zabini's report on the conversation — partly because he keeps talking afterwards, and partly because there are independent reasons to think that H&C is either Quirrel or an agent of Quirrel's. (For instance, the "keyed into the wards" comment, as well as the fact that H&C exactly predicts Quirrel's reaction to Zabini's statement, and the fact that this statement ended up benefiting Quirrel.)

So what information does H&C need? Note that he tells Zabini, "The reward I promised you is already on its way to your mother, by owl." In other words, Zabini was clever enough to insist that his reward go to a third party, leaving someone around to remember that he's owed an award in case he's obliviated. H&C seems to me to be turning the conversation at every step towards Zabini's mother. Eventually, he receives the information that Zabini doesn't know how his mother persuaded her last suitor to marry her.

It's unclear why this information would satisfy H&C, but it does seem that he needs to take care of Zabini's mother in some way (obliviate her, probably), and that he's trying to figure out how difficult this will be. This seems reminiscent of Quirrel's later behavior towards Auror Bahry — he tries to figure out exactly what Bahry knows and what the other aurors expect so that he can appropriately memory-charm him.

Any thoughts on the matter?

Comment author: orthonormal 07 January 2012 09:54:27PM 5 points [-]

Huh! Given that it would create (what currently looks like) a completely irrelevant tangent to the main plot, I think the interview might have just happened so that the readers can see Hat-and-Cloak in action. The excuse could be that Hat-and-Cloak is addicted to monologuing to characters that ve's about to Obliviate anyway.

Also, welcome to Less Wrong!

Comment author: matheist 12 January 2012 01:10:50AM *  7 points [-]

I hope that doesn't turn out to be the reason for the conversation to have happened — it's a little unsatisfying. I guess another reason for H&C to need to talk to Zabini could be in order to use legilimancy on him. Presumably, in this case, to discover whether Zabini told anyone else besides his mother about H&C.

Edit: On reflection, this seems quite likely to me. H&C turns the conversation to betrayal, and if the plan is to use legilimancy on Zabini, then Zabini would need to be thinking about betrayals (and whether he has betrayed H&C) in order for the legilimancy to be useful.

Comment author: kilobug 12 September 2011 07:22:53PM 9 points [-]

I've been searching a bit, but didn't find any "process" for translation of HP:MoR. Being a native french, I can offer a bit of my time to translate part of it, but :

  1. I would like to know what's the standard process, since a translation can at some points alter the meaning, is there any review or agreement from Eliezer required ?

  2. There seems to be two french translations already started. I don't want to conflict with other persons. Are the current translators still active ? If so, do they require help, or do they prefer to work alone ?

  3. Do you think it would be a good idea to setup a discussion on LW or a wiki page about translation in general, with the process, the status of the current translations (if the translator(s) are still active or not, ...) ?

Comment author: Locke 27 December 2011 05:10:33PM 8 points [-]

I think that the new information 78 would give us to discuss ought to balance out the cliffhanger, no matter how large.

Also, I wonder if Harry might use the Headmasters conclusions about the return of the Dark Lord to request private lessons. Most likely not Horcrux-related lessons, but similiar to what Ron and Hermione expected Dumbledore to teach him in Canon. In this universe Love is certainly not Harry's Deus ex Machina, so Dumbledore ought to want him to be more competent in Battle Magic.

Comment author: HonoreDB 27 September 2011 09:02:09PM 8 points [-]

I've been reading a chapter of MoR to my girlfriend every time we go to a park, and we just got up to Chapter 39. Two thoughts:

  1. It's fun to try to imitate a long series of random noises with your mouth alone in a public place.

  2. Sarah's immediate reaction to the first part was "Why doesn't he just ask Harry for a Pensieve memory of his conversation with Lucius? Dumbledore doesn't use notes." I can't see why not either. My first reaction was that Pensieves haven't been referenced in MoR yet and might work differently, but I was wrong; Draco's going to use his memory of Harry's first date to blackmail him.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 September 2011 09:19:44PM 7 points [-]

The exact details of memories are malleable. It may very well be that pensieves in this setting can only recover what the person remembers not what they actually experienced. It may be that this could still be useful for interrogating less disciplined minds who can remember details but not realize they do, but Dumbledore may think that if there were any specific details that were important enough Harry would in fact remember them.

Comment author: pedanterrific 27 September 2011 09:18:16PM *  6 points [-]

Another example would be Draco, to Harry, in Chapter 7:

"The courts use Veritaserum, but it's a joke really, you just Obliviate yourself before you testify and then claim the other person was Memory-Charmed with a false memory. If you've got a Pensieve, and we do, you can even get the memory back afterward."

And that's a very good point. I can't quite tell whether Dumbledore picked up on the mistake that Lucius made, just from Harry's memory - the only reaction we are directly told about is

Dumbledore's face had grown more remote as Harry went on, and at the end there was a look of ancientness about him, a sternness in the air.

"Well," said Dumbledore. "I suggest you take the best of care that the heir of Malfoy does not come to harm, then. And I will do the same." The Headmaster was frowning, his fingers drumming soundlessly through the inky black surface of a plate inscribed with the word Leliel. "And I think it would be most extremely wise for you to avoid all interaction with Lord Malfoy henceforth."

and then the conversation switches tracks. If Dumbledore did get the subtext just from Harry's (described, offscreen) verbal recollections, then the lack is just a minor puzzling detail; but if he didn't, when he most certainly could have from the inhumanly perfect reproduction of a Pensieve, failing to use one seems a critical flaw.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 20 February 2012 06:03:24AM 7 points [-]

I find myself wondering about the supposed safety of Hogwarts. The wards are given as an explanation for this but if students are able to constantly hex each other in the halls, Quirrel is able to cast extremely powerful spells, and an unnamed 6th year replicated the Sectumsempra incident from cannon without any apparent interference from the wards I cant imagine what it is exactly that the wards are supposed to do to insure the safety of the students.

Consider that the school is full of 11-18 year olds with access to weapons of mass destruction and it seems to me that the apparent safety of the place for the past 50 years is due to luck rather then anything inherent in system.

Comment author: jimrandomh 21 February 2012 04:38:03AM 9 points [-]

Consider that the school is full of 11-18 year olds with access to weapons of mass destruction and it seems to me that the apparent safety of the place for the past 50 years is due to luck rather then anything inherent in system.

Perhaps luck is inherent in the system. The canon storyline does include a literal luck potion, so similar things are plausible. They also have and use a seer, and short-range time travel. The latter two could be used in ways that prevent deaths without a corresponding reduction in close calls.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 23 February 2012 03:46:42AM 4 points [-]

Ya, If current generation wizards can brew a potion of luck then why not an ancient ward of luck? Sounds reasonable to me.

Comment author: Asymmetric 25 September 2011 05:36:15PM 7 points [-]

I was just wondering: does anyone else hope Eliezer fleshes out Magical History? I find it a pity that we don't get to see how Magical Britain became what it is now. I mean, so far he's reflected (very broadly) on the current political situation through Draco, but he's continued to keep us in the dark about Voldemort's rise to power, the situation that led to that, the circumstances surrounding the beginning of magic (as a technology, since Harry has confirmed that the rules for spells aren't natural laws), the founding of Hogwarts ...

So, which do you all think are most important for Eliezer to touch upon? Can you think of any others you want to see?

Also: I know that wizards generally ignore muggles, but they are another entire civilization, with documentation of their history, living in secret right next to the Muggle society. Wizarding history could provide a lot of insight into Muggle history because of how the two are so closely related.

Comment author: prasannak 27 December 2011 06:14:15AM *  6 points [-]

Chp 78 ---

Eliezer, given all the waiting, and that Chp 78 is 17K words, can we have a NY gift of Chp 78 in 3 parts? 5K each spaced about a week apart? That should take us till the third week of Jan :)

From an addict's perspective, drip helps :)

Comment author: obfuscate 02 January 2012 07:47:18PM 3 points [-]

Update 12/28: Ch. 79 done at 6,700 words. I think I'll see if I can get this entire arc done before I start posting it - if not, I'll give up and post before too long, but I'm encouraged by how fast Ch. 79 went.

Comment author: Locke 27 December 2011 05:28:46PM 2 points [-]

He already tried to subdivide 78, and it didn't work out. But frankly I'd read it even if it cut off midsentence.

Comment author: prasannak 16 January 2012 04:02:11AM 5 points [-]

At this stage, I'm ready for mid word :)

Knowing there's one chapter ready makes it even harder to wait...

My suggestion, even if it 'spoils' 78 a bit, is to drop 5K words of 78 at a weeks interval each, that'll sake our thirst better than a big drop 78, a big drop 79 and then long wait...

Comment author: thakil 09 September 2011 01:50:49PM 6 points [-]

I'm interested in discussing the world Eliezer has created. Its alternate in obvious and subtle ways. Obviously, in this world both Harry and Quirrelmort are rationalists, but lots of other elements have changed.

-Dumbledore seems more changed by war than his book incarnation, to the point where he is making some obviously bad choices that have impacts on the school -The school is a more dangerous place than it was in the books. By this, I mean that in books 1-4, despite some hijinks, the actual danger was pretty darn low- in first year Harry had to actively try to get into mortal danger (ignoring some deeply unsubtle assasination attempts by Quirrel). In particular other students are never a danger to each other, yet theres a strong implication that here fights really can escalate- or at least that was the attempt with the Heromione arc. This is probably due in part to Dumbledore's approach (I don't believe that the 'Dore of the books would have tolerated such an escalation at all), and the beefing up of Slytherin house, and the Malfoy's in particular. While Lucius Malfoy was clearly a powerful individual in the books, his manipulations were fairly clunky, and nowhere near as subtle as portrayed here.

I think I need to have it in my head that many of the characters are subtly different here, because sometimes I read their portrayal as mocking the attitude in the books, and while sometimes that IS whats happening, sometimes its just because the characters aren't quite the same.

Comment author: HonoreDB 09 September 2011 05:27:51PM *  9 points [-]

While Lucius Malfoy was clearly a powerful individual in the books, his manipulations were fairly clunky, and nowhere near as subtle as portrayed here.

We assume he's competent because Dumbledore keeps referring to him as competent, but Dumbledore does have a motive to exaggerate his enemy's power. He constantly uses Lucius as an excuse to not do something, and he flat out tells Harry early on that weakening Dumbledore strengthens Malfoy.

But Malfoy is in over his head. Every time we see or hear from him, he's getting something wrong, being ineffectual, or being publicly humiliated. By contrast, he seems pretty darn effective in the books. His scheme in Chamber of Secrets was simple and robust enough to work, and even with Harry repeatedly being in the right place at the right time it still ends with the Weasleys discredited and the Malfoys untouched. (Edit: Sorry, misremembered. He goes after Dumbledore prematurely and loses. Good scheme apart from that, though.)

His main obvious difference from canon is the way he's raised his son.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 09 September 2011 07:33:52PM 5 points [-]

even with Harry repeatedly being in the right place at the right time it still ends with the Weasleys discredited and the Malfoys untouched.

Malfoy gets kicked off the board of governors I thought?

Comment author: gwern 09 September 2011 08:07:26PM 4 points [-]

I checked and yes:

The house-elf also protected Harry from Lucius's subsequent attack and blasted his former master down a flight of steps. Lucius was dismissed as a Governor for his threats against the other eleven colleagues.

I'd have to read CoS again, but from the sound of it, he wasn't kicked off as a direct result of the scheme but for other things - the threats. If he had been cooler-headed...

Comment author: rdb 10 September 2011 07:44:14AM 3 points [-]

In part 7, Michaelos observed that Dumbledore blames himself for Harry being left with his evil stepparents, and wrote the comment on Lily's musing on modifying the (D&D-style) Eagle's Splendor potion in her text book while she slept.

Ch 1. "And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to - the most ridiculous things, and I hated her for it. ... "Anyway," Petunia said, her voice small, "she gave in. She told me it was dangerous, and I said I didn't care any more, and I drank this potion and I was sick for weeks, but when I got better my skin cleared up and I finally filled out and... I was beautiful, people were nice to me," her voice broke, "and after that I couldn't hate my sister any more, especially when I learned what her magic brought her in the end -"

Perhaps, the brighter Lily, child of the enlightenment, growing up in the technological optimism of the 60s had determined to help her sister, and minimize the risks as she understood them. Giving Petunia the potion being a major change in the time line. Dumbledore may have been trying to prevent that.

Comment author: pedanterrific 11 September 2011 05:21:39AM *  9 points [-]

Hm. Quoted in the linked post is the fact that Dumbledore's suggested revision to the Potion of Eagle's Splendor (the one that would end up making the imbiber sick for weeks, as happened to Petunia) was, specifically, replacing blueberries with Thestral blood. Now where else has that come up recently?

And Harry knew, now, that the concealment of the Cloak was more than the mere transparency of Disillusionment, that the Cloak kept you hidden and not just invisible, as unseeable as were Thestrals to the unknowing. And Harry also knew that it was Thestral blood which painted the symbol of the Deathly Hallows on the inside of the Cloak, binding into the Cloak that portion of Death's power, enabling the Cloak to confront the Dementors on their own level and block them. It had felt like guessing, and yet a certain guess, the knowledge coming to him in the instant of solving the riddle.

Considering that by the time he annotated Lily's book, Dumbledore had certainly had around thirty years to study the Elder Wand (which canonically has a Thestral tail-hair core), and may or may not have already examined the Cloak of Invisibility as well, this certainly seems suggestive of something. I've no idea what, though. ("Charming as death" doesn't seem like much of a compliment.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 25 September 2011 11:37:07PM 15 points [-]

Ok. I really don't like the new omake with the ponies.

I understand that Eliezer is trying to criticize overemphasis on peer review. But the bottom line is that peer review is really important: groups of humans who look at something critically are much more likely to notice mistakes and flaws then one will notice by one's self. This is not a trivial point.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 26 September 2011 09:55:30AM 15 points [-]

I dislike it but not for that reason. There are so many great hooks for rationalist lessons in the actual show, but instead he makes an anvilicious alternate universe to take a cheap shot at a completely unrelated subject. It's such a waste. I am disappointed.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 September 2011 01:16:39AM 8 points [-]

Indeed, when I sat down to make a rationalist MLP fanfic, I realized that the only part of the show that I would change is possibly Feeling Pinkie Keen.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 27 September 2011 12:12:31PM 3 points [-]

Yea. The approach to making an MLP rationalist fanfiction is not to change the original material, it's by working within the set format to provide rationalist lessons. If done properly probably indistinguishable from the canon episode scripts except for not being in a scrip format and being about slightly more advanced subject matter.

For example, from what I've herd about the minicamp:

"Dear princess Celestia, today I learned that although the idea that someponies opinion of you is infuenced by somehting as arbitary and wastefull as fashion might seem unpalatable, it can non the the less be unwise to ignore the fact that it is, even amoung friends. Ponies can not always control their subconius impresions, and this is no reason to in turn judle them. - Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

Comment author: Vaniver 27 September 2011 01:09:50PM 7 points [-]

In related news, remember the advice that keeping a diary increases happiness? Guess how I'm writing mine. :3

Comment author: Armok_GoB 28 September 2011 09:34:22AM 4 points [-]

That's awesome, now I want to see some of those! There got to be SOME that are not to personal or can be easily modified to hide to personal information, right?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 27 September 2011 11:28:27PM 5 points [-]

I think you're both thinking a bit too narrowly about the topic of rationalist MLP fanfiction. It needn't be about correcting irrationalities of the original material (which I'm guessing was Vaniver's approach?) but it doesn't need to just follow the show's "how to treat your friends" moral lessons either... It could introduce new readers to some really advanced LessWrong concepts.

...ooph, I don't know if I should share the ideas I have on this or not. Because I am thinking of writing rationalist MLP fanfiction, and if so I'd prefer there'd be some surprised delight from readers.... but if I don't end up having the time to write said fanfiction, it's better that I share them, lest they not be known at all.

...I suppose if I don't find the time in the next few months to write said fanfiction fully, I'll just share all the ideas I have on the topic in some thread here and encourage anyone else who wants them to pick them up and use them.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 28 September 2011 09:32:08AM 2 points [-]

My post wasn't supposed to be "how all rationalist fanfiction should be made", but rather "how I recommend Vaniver to go about it, given the evidence I have about his strengths and weaknesses as a writer". Guess I could have worded it better.

I look greatly forward to reading your fic! In fact, since given the priors I have over LWers I guess I probably know more about MLP lore and fan conventions (remember all those things Eliezer said in MoR authors notes about the importance of fan conventions? You'd BETTER give Luna an abacus! ), I humbly offer myself up as a prereader even thou I probably suck at most editorial work given my zero experience.

Also, once you're done, you REALLY should send it over to Equestria daily. Correcting for writing quality bronies might be an even better recruitment pool than the Harry Potter fandom, since even thou it's smaller it's closer to the LW demographic and I don't think HP has a centralized hub like Equestria Daily which means greater penetration can be reached by something good enough to get on there. In fact, it may be worth having more seasoned LWers, or even Eliezer himself really, look over it for quality.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 September 2011 12:48:53PM 3 points [-]

Well, so many of the omake are already pretty anvilicious. But yes, it could be more directly relevant to the show certainly.

Comment author: Anubhav 07 March 2012 05:10:22PM *  5 points [-]

Eliezer is now recommending specific readings for the "Know everything Harry does!" quest instead of handwaving it with "eh, just study every single thing I wrote after 2005 and you'll be a much bigger threat than Harry."

I've gotta say I appreciate this, all the more because it's probably tedious work.

In short, エリエザー様万歳!

</unabashed cheer>

Comment author: matheist 23 February 2012 05:18:14AM *  5 points [-]

Just reread chapter 40.

"Which is why the Resurrection Stone is not the most valuable magical artifact in the world," said Harry.

"Precisely," said Professor Quirrell, "though I wouldn't say no to a chance to try it." There was a dry, thin smile on his lips; and something colder, more distant, in his eyes. "You spoke to Dumbledore of that as well, I take it."

Sounds to me like Quirrell had never heard of the resurrection stone before this conversation. Later in the chapter, it becomes apparent that he has never heard of the deathly hallows symbol. After Harry shows him the symbol, he excuses himself and cuts short the outing. Perhaps he has seen the stone before and is running off to find it? His ignorance fits with canon, where he uses the Peverell ring (with the stone inset) to make a horcrux.

Comment author: Pringlescan 10 February 2012 08:51:22PM *  5 points [-]

Cross posting what I wrote on TV Tropes

'm pretty sure i've figured out quirrelmorts plan for harry and magical britian. To TLDR it for you guys, hes going to train harry as a caesar, and use harry as a figurehead/puppet to force magical britian into a war of conquest with the rest of the magical world, probably selling it as a world wide war on dark wizards. Then once england owns the wizard world, they own the entire world since you can't fight invisible mind rapers.

Viewed in this context all of his actions start making sense. Harry is a very well known figurehead and a natural leader for magical Britannia to unite behind. Suddenly quirrelmorts speech of uniting magical Brittan under one person (harry) makes sense, once you've imbued all the power into a single leader its a lot easier to effectively run a war, as well as hurting harry's main competition for power. His first step is to go to Hogwarts, the most important place in england. He organizes it so that he can get away with blatantly improving the combat effectiveness of all the Hogwarts students there, developing and show casing the future generals and officers of the later wars. Also because those generals and officers will develop followers, all he has to do is gain influence over those people and he gains all of their followers as well. He also gets to develop his own Caesar, Harry. Hes already said that power in the magic world flows from strong wizards and their followers.

Then he convinces harry to undertake a war against the magical world. He points out that it will impossible to get rid of things such as the power of the noble houses and Azkabhan without taking power. He also points out to harry that if he wants to raise the living standards of the muggle world he will need a united magical world behind him, something that he will be unable to do by peaceful means since he will first need to exterminate all of the dark wizards. With both harry and quirrelmort on the same side with technology they would be able to both curb stomp other countries and administer them effectively.

Then with Harry's participation, he puppet masters a civil war in another country and gets magical England to step in to save the country, and get harry/draco appointed/showcased as wonderful warriors. They then use this power to keep taking over more and more of the real power in england. Then you start administrating the new country as a vassal state, raise more recruits, get a bigger army, rinse and repeat until they own the magical world. Then with the magical world united they own the muggle world since lets face it, you can't fight a foe that can turn invisible and mind rape your leaders.

And of course since england is ruling the world as an empire, and harry is ruling the world as caesar, and quirrelmort has his hooks into harry, quirrelmort now rules the world. Or at least thats what my plan wold be if I were quirrelmort.

Also on rita skeeter, they either memory charmed her into believing everything herself, or imperiused her into doing so, or simply used the polyjuice potion to turn it in themselves. My money would be memory charming her because it would be the most practical reliable way of getting her to believe everything, writing an authentic article and convincing her editor to run it the next day as the headliner.

Comment author: Locke 11 February 2012 04:36:47PM 2 points [-]

This seems far too long-term for the purposes of Eliezer's story. The only way a plan of this detail would make MOR better is if we actually got to see it acted out, and I cannot imagine Eliezer not wrapping up the plot before Harry is old enough to rule. He's certainly not going to fast-forward through the majority of Harry's Hogwarts time.

No, I think Quirrelmort's plan is explicitly linked to the Sorcerer's Stone. If he can get Harry to obtain it for him, he's won.

Comment author: Locke 05 February 2012 05:32:13AM 5 points [-]

And as long as we're trying to find magical exploits, I wonder what Harry would do if he got his hands on some Felix Felicis.

For instance, if he locked himself in a room with only a weegie board (or scrabble tiles), would it be forced to spell out whatever information he needed to know? Would it only answer his direct questions, or could it just start warning him about all of Quirrell and Dumbledore and Lucius' plans and how to beat them?

Comment author: Alicorn 05 February 2012 05:42:26AM 3 points [-]

weegie board


Comment author: Locke 05 February 2012 06:11:38AM 2 points [-]

Dammit, English Language, stop fucking with us.

Comment author: pedanterrific 05 February 2012 06:19:51AM 3 points [-]


Kennard claimed he learned the name "Ouija" from using the board and that it was an ancient Egyptian word meaning "good luck." When Fuld took over production of the boards, he popularized the more widely accepted etymology, that the name came from a combination of the French and German words for "yes".

Comment author: JenniferRM 09 September 2011 04:01:14PM *  13 points [-]

In the previous thread there was some discussion on Ch 76's obliviation powered dictionary attack on Hermione. Most of that discussion seems to have assumed that what we saw between Hat And Cloak (HAC) and Hermione was simple to understand and relatively unskilllful... with Hermione's "tootsie pop" response being inane and HAC's probing appearing ham-handedly ignorant.

My impression was that we didn't see the first or second cycle of relatively normal behavior for either character, but more like the 7th cycle (12 minutes per cycle for 90 minutes?), where HAC was doing something radically different each time to probe Hermione's knowledge, feelings, etc in different ways, probably using legilimency. She was exhausted, like someone "in the box" with the police, except more stressful due to not even knowing she's in the box. And the questions don't have to be subtle, they just have to make her think of useful things while her eyes are visible. I don't think she was the ultimate target either, but rather she is the closest non-occlumens to Harry other than possibly Draco, so mind raping her to learn about Harry is "safer" even if it demonstrates horrifying levels of evilness... which raises issues about how to hide that it happened from Albus and Minerva.

I'm curious what other people's takes on the situation are. Specifically, what cycle do you think we saw out of how many total? Also, what are the odds that Hermione will be dead or missing in the next substantive chapter?

Comment author: Desrtopa 09 September 2011 10:14:20PM 12 points [-]

I would guess that Hat-and-Cloak probably wasn't using leglimency, or it wouldn't have needed Hermione to say that she found the mysterious getup suspicious.

Comment author: JenniferRM 10 September 2011 02:31:31AM *  9 points [-]

I'm not sure how it worked in canon (and would expect semi-random behavior given Rowling's tendency to fudge world building details that a more mechanistic thinker might nail down) but in MoR it appears that legilimency allows the reader to perceive the "conscious surface thoughts" of the readee, plus the feeling of active reading (used by an occlumens to race ahead and put fake conscious surface thoughts in the way), plus the traces of past reading.

When Albus read Harry early in the story to look for traces he asked Harry what Harry had recently eaten so as to prevent himself from reading anything private in Harry's mind. If words can be used to redirect attention to banal issues so that it is impossible for even Albus to see more deeply, it stands to reason (to me anyway) that visibility is relatively shallow and that words could also be used to redirect attention towards the sensitive issues. So, HAC using legilimency probably couldn't get a verbal reason for lack of trust without a probe to raise "trust of HAC" in Hermione's mind, but once raised he would have been able to tell if she lied or detect any reasons that jumped into her mind that she didn't say out loud for strategic reasons... and not much more.

I could be wrong. "Word of god" might contradict me. But assuming I'm not, then my working model of the fic includes that HAC now knows, for example, that Harry has a deathly hallow (because Hermione would probably have consciously surfaced the most dramatic evidence that Harry totally trusts her when HAC asked about that stuff and that's pretty dramatic evidence). Given how many readers didn't even get that cycles of oblivation were being used on her I'd guess that something too optimized (to the point of silence) would be even less intelligible in text.

I guess a totally "optimized" oblivation/legilimency cycle could probably do a full loop within like 8 seconds and would just involve a "don't think of a polar bear" shout, reading everything brought up by that, then obliviate and repeat. We didn't see that happen at all. Either we didn't see it because it was impossible, or Eliezer didn't think of it, or Eliezer didn't think HAC would think of it, or it would have been too squicky and thereby violated the artistic permissions of the audience.

My bet is that this kind of manipulation would be impossible based on the in-story mechanics of legilimency and related spells... that the pragmatics of the process require a measure of indirection even with naive victims so that their eyes can't be closed, and their thoughts have time to percolate, and things only mentally accessible from within a specific conversational context can occur to them to be read, and so on.

Comment author: Desrtopa 10 September 2011 03:51:07AM 10 points [-]

Even assuming those are the limits of leglimency, I think that "this guy seems really suspicious" would be pretty near the surface of Hermione's thoughts without any additional prompting.

Comment author: drethelin 10 September 2011 02:43:48AM 7 points [-]

the occlumency trainer harry hires is able to read deeply within harry's mind without a lot of trouble. I think thoughts are probably easier or harder to read based on how surface they are. Dumbledore made them think of something else so he wouldn't accidentally read anything private because of how EASY it is to read surface memories, not because thinking of something else prevents being read entirely.

Comment author: moritz 14 September 2011 12:16:50PM *  7 points [-]

There seem to be two forms of leglimency, one that requires an explicit spell and a wand, and can be performed by most wizards. That's what Mr. Best in MoR uses, and what canon!Snape uses while trying to each Harry Occlumency. The victim knows what's going on, but usually can't do anything against it.

The second one is the form that Dumbledore (and canon!Voldemort), which just requires looking into the eyes of the victim, and lots of training. This is the "stealth mode", and most victims don't notice the intrusion at all.

It was always my intuitive understanding that the first form allows you to dig deep into one's memory, wheres the second form only shows you what the victim is thinking right now.

Does that make any sense?

Comment author: Nornagest 14 September 2011 04:33:40PM 4 points [-]

If I remember right, a moderately big deal is made of wandless magic in the last couple books of the canon. I don't think it's come up in MoR yet, but it seems simpler to suppose that Dumbledore and canon!Voldemort are performing a wandless version of Snape's Legilimency than to assume a more fundamental difference between the types.

Comment author: gwern 14 September 2011 05:15:49PM 2 points [-]

It could just be a power difference. If wandless magic came with no penalties attached, you'd have to be mad to continue to use wands if you can manage wandless magic like Dumbledore can. It strictly dominates wands - you can't be disarmed nearly as easily. (And when we see wizarding children 'naturally' use wandless magic, isn't it weaker than what they can manage with wands?)

A big enough difference of degree can look like a difference of kind.

Comment author: pedanterrific 15 September 2011 12:51:26AM *  2 points [-]

Two things, one: being more difficult to disarm isn't really as much of an advantage as it might seem. Remember, we have some idea of how magical combat works in MoR, and it seems to revolve around layers of active and passive defenses - during Bahry One-Hand, veteran Auror, v. Polyjuiced!Quirrel, the description went

According to the Defense Professor, the essential art of dueling consisted of trying to put up defenses that would block whatever someone was likely to throw at you, while trying in turn to attack in ways that were likely to go past their current set of defenses. And by far the easiest way to win any sort of real fight - Professor Quirrell had said this over and over - was to shoot the enemy before they raised a shield in the first place, either from behind or from close enough range that they couldn't dodge or counter in time.

If telekinesis-type spells (Accio, Expelliarmus, Wingardium Leviosa) are relatively easy to shield against, fights would tend to end by incapacitation rather than disarming whether you had a wand or not.

And two: interestingly, 'accidental magic' (used by wizarding children before they get their wands, generally in times of high emotion) is actually somewhat more impressive than what just-got-their-wands first years can do. Example: before he went to Hogwarts, canon!Harry once managed to get from standing on the ground to standing on the roof of his school without quite being aware of how he did it - the text seems to imply some kind of teleportation / Apparation, but it could have been self-levitation - either way, much more impressive than anything he could do for a while afterwards.

Comment author: gwern 15 September 2011 03:25:02PM 4 points [-]

And two: interestingly, 'accidental magic' (used by wizarding children before they get their wands, generally in times of high emotion) is actually somewhat more impressive than what just-got-their-wands first years can do.

So? This is like someone saying, after scraping a violin for a few minutes, 'pfft, I can whistle more musically than this darn thing'. It's a tool, and like all tools, takes time to master, but when it does, you're much better than without the tool. (Think about how long it takes to learn a computer, and what one can do with it.)

Comment author: rdb 17 September 2011 01:33:13PM 10 points [-]

Chapter 24: Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis: Act 2 ... The line of reasoning continued: Atlantis had been an isolated civilization that had somehow brought into being the Source of Magic, and told it to serve only people with the Atlantean genetic marker, the blood of Atlantis.

And by similar logic: The words a wizard spoke, the wand movements, those weren't complicated enough of themselves to build up the spell effects from scratch - not the way that the three billion base pairs of human DNA actually were complicated enough to build a human body from scratch, not the way that computer programs took up thousands of bytes of data.

So the words and wand movements were just triggers, levers pulled on some hidden and more complex machine. Buttons, not blueprints.

And just like a computer program wouldn't compile if you made a single spelling error, the Source of Magic wouldn't respond to you unless you cast your spells in exactly the right way.

The chain of logic was inexorable.

Under that hypothesis, accidental magic by wizarding children — otherwise without appreciable magic power, could be a Source of Magic initiated emergency "Help" spell.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 September 2011 08:26:41PM 2 points [-]

I've been thinking about magical training that doesn't look like conventional schooling, and training accidental magic would be an interesting place to start. Would it be like learning jazz? Improv? A soft martial art?

Comment author: Sheaman3773 14 September 2011 04:22:53PM 3 points [-]

Rather than two forms of legilimency, I thought it was a matter of the caster's facility with the spell.

In other words, it was my understanding that amateur Legilimens had to use their wand and the incantation in addition to eye contact, and with practice they could do away with the wand and word. That branch of magic is easily made wandless, perhaps.

Comment author: pedanterrific 09 September 2011 04:54:38PM *  10 points [-]

I wonder whether the Tootsie Pop reference was a Leaning on the Fourth Wall hint to the readers or if we're meant to take that as Hermione subconsciously remembering what was going on? ("One hundred and eighty-seven. I tried it once." is kind of chilling, in that context.)

Or it could've been just a meaningless flippant remark, that too.

And 12 minutes per cycle? For the script given in the chapter, I'd peg it at more like 2 to 4.

Edit: Actually, I just though of a way to get an upper bound - the amount of adrenaline the human body can produce in 2-4 minutes is probably pretty sharply limited, right? Mr H&C presumably had to startle Hermione at the end of every cycle, so the physiological reaction would match up to the initial surprise and smooth over any discrepancies. I find it hard to imagine that "a rush of shock and fear hit her like a Stunning Hex over her whole body" more than five or so times without just leaving her burned out completely. (Not that she didn't seem pretty burned out by the end.)

And she can't be dead. For she is the bearer of a most marvelous destiny-

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 September 2011 05:17:29AM 8 points [-]

Actually I looked up in Wikipedia how many licks it takes to get the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop, and picked a number that seemed commensurate with the human-licker experiments.

The Chilling Implications you point out (how many licks does it take to get to the center of Hermione?) were totally lost on my consciousness until now. I wonder if that subconscious imagery had anything to do with why my brain produced that response from Hermione?

But still, probably not 187.

Comment author: shokwave 10 September 2011 05:39:32AM 23 points [-]

how many licks does it take to get to the center of Hermione?

I'm sure there are other authors on fanfiction.net who could answer this for us.

Comment author: Hyphen-ated 15 September 2011 04:28:34AM 3 points [-]

"187" is a slang term for murder, which comes from the California penal code. Is this a coincidence?

Comment author: Xachariah 10 September 2011 05:57:21AM 7 points [-]

I find it hard to imagine that "a rush of shock and fear hit her like a Stunning Hex over her whole body" more than five or so times without just leaving her burned out completely.

I think you're misreading the situation. From Hermoine's point of view, it seems like she's suddenly getting flooded with adrenaline. The truth is that she's had the same level of adrenaline in her body and is just being made aware of it. It's similar to how walking four miles then getting obliviated an hour back would feel like you've just gotten teleported and been hit with a jelly legs jinx.

Comment author: pedanterrific 10 September 2011 06:18:47PM *  4 points [-]

The exact phrasing at the end of the cycle that happened onscreen was:

[...] the black mist evaporated away, no longer obscuring; she saw the face beneath, and recognition sent a jolt of terrified adrenaline bursting through her -

- she felt a momentary sense of disorientation -

- and then a rush of shock and fear hit her like a Stunning Hex over her whole body, she found that without any thought or any conscious decision her wand had leaped into her hand [...]

My interpretation, and maybe I am reading too much into it, is that it was necessary to give her a shock right before the Obliviation, because otherwise the physiological experience would be going from 'walking calmly down the hallway' to 'walking tiredly down the hallway,' which wouldn't jive with convincing herself she just reacted very quickly (her wand leaped into her hand).

Also, why else would you reveal your true face to someone just before you Obliviate them and show them a different, equally false appearance? Eliciting the reaction seems to be the obvious motive, and helps get around a weakness of Obliviation - that it only affects the neurological, not the rest of the body (hence Harry's signaling method of biting his lip).

Comment author: Xachariah 10 September 2011 10:54:58PM 5 points [-]

I assumed that revealing your true face to the person would not ever be remember, so it wouldn't matter what you did. There's no reason to bother going into another room or even turning around (and risking them trying to run/hex you) to swap faces if you're just going to obliviate them anyways. It's just a result of being weary with the whole process.

These are only dry runs at cracking her password. You practice a dozen times until you succeed, obliviate her and let her settle down, obliviate her so she doesn't remember the settling down time, then do the successful attempt. The "most glorious destiny" attempt won't be what she remembers, but rather a seamless polished version after Mr HAC has confirmed it will work.

The final, final version will have her never even suspecting anything suspicious or having discontinuities like spinning around and wands leaping to her hands. Heck, it need not even occur at the same time, but rather a day later so she doesn't get suspicious of lost time. Or at least, that's what I would in the same position.

Comment author: pedanterrific 10 September 2011 11:14:03PM *  35 points [-]

Missed opportunity:

"I've been sent to help you, so please don't be afraid. I am your servant in all things; for you, my Lady, are the last magical descendant of Merlin-"

"That's ridiculous."

(fleeting disorientation)

"For you, my Lady, are the last magical descendant of Ravenclaw-"

"I don't believe you."

(fleeting disorientation)

"For you, my Lady, are the bearer of a most marvelous destiny-"

Edit: (Personally, I prefer " - she felt a momentary sense of disorientation - "; it seems a little more subtle, but I guess that's not the effect he's going for.)

Comment author: orthonormal 11 September 2011 05:53:33AM *  8 points [-]
Comment author: [deleted] 10 September 2011 11:40:54PM 6 points [-]

"You win" seems appropriate.

Comment author: wedrifid 11 September 2011 09:51:37AM 8 points [-]

I think so. Eliezer needs to revise his chapter again.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 September 2011 11:25:25PM 14 points [-]

It is more subtle and I do prefer it. The problem is that a substantial fraction of reviewers are still saying they've got no idea what's happening during the ellipses, and I care about that.

Your version is a little too unsubtle, but the fact that people were buying the "last descendant of Merlin thing" had me wondering what it would've taken to actually trigger their skepticism.

"For you, my Lady, are the last descendant of Cthulhu -"

"For you alone must stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness -"

"Only you can prevent forest fires -"

Comment author: pedanterrific 13 September 2011 04:16:37AM *  12 points [-]

No, I get why you changed it, and I certainly wasn't offering that as any kind of serious suggestion, but... well, maybe it's elitist of me, but frankly I don't understand what benefit there is to catering to the lowest common denominator of ffnet readers. I mean, the lowest common denominator of ffnet readers is pretty low. (Boy-Who-Lived Gets Draco Malfoy Pregnant! sorry i suk at sumries lol, dont liek dont read)

On another note:

"For you, my Princess, are of the blood of the dragons -"

"You have the ability to overcome great fear -"

"By your powers combined, I am -"

"Yer a wizard, Hermione -"

Comment author: shokwave 14 September 2011 12:28:37PM 5 points [-]

Raising the sanity waterline and all that.

Comment author: orielwen 13 September 2011 03:09:43PM *  2 points [-]

I agree. It was so obvious to me that Hermione was being Obliviated that when I read the instruction at the start of the next chapter I went back to see what I could be missing. It didn't occur to me that peope might not be getting it. And that was when it had ellipses.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 14 September 2011 03:37:01AM *  6 points [-]

I'm one of the people who was confused by the Merlin thing and said as such in my review that I wasn't sure if it was lying or not. In that version, the Obliviation was a lot less obvious. My initial reading was that the entity in question was trying to appear (probably untruthfully) to have been testing Hermione previously and was now ready to reveal itself in its true, nice form. It even occurred to me that it might even have been its actual form with it finally happy that it could appear as a nice being rather than as some terrible mystery. I was in particular thinking of the part in the Chronicles of Prydain where the companions are shocked to find out that the nasty looking hags true form might actually be beautiful young women. In that text they call it out explicitly.

Still, the switch to the repeated ... made it really clear what was going on in a really blunt, squicktastic fashion. I have to agree with pedanterrific that you may want to be careful not to play to the lowest common denominator of ff.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 12 September 2011 11:39:53PM *  3 points [-]

"For you alone must stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness -"

I would really like if it included this. If you did go with pedanterrific's suggestion this might also help reduce the squicktastic aspect of the repeated memory erasure. Actually, the juxtaposition might make it more squick; I'm not sure.

Comment author: pedanterrific 13 September 2011 12:03:55AM 8 points [-]

(In hindsight, Giles felt it was a little embarrassing, how obvious the solution was.

After all, what teenage girl doesn't want to feel special?)

Euurghh the more I think about this the worse it gets

Comment author: [deleted] 09 September 2011 08:32:49PM *  3 points [-]

I thought the Tootsie Pop bit was just a reference to this.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 September 2011 11:28:09PM 2 points [-]

Yeah, I discovered that when researching HPMOR.

Comment author: gjm 09 September 2011 08:20:37PM 9 points [-]

I'd describe the "tootsie pop" response as contemptuous rather than inane.

Comment author: Eneasz 12 October 2011 08:06:31PM 12 points [-]

Real World Effects of SPHEW

Raemon has written at moderate length about feminist issues in HPMoR. In fact, this post is credited by Eliezer as

High probability this comment had something to do with the surprise creation of SPHEW.

I don't wish to speculate about these issues because I don't feel I have the depth of knowledge needed to contribute meaningfully. However I do have a real life effect of SPHEW to report.

I produce the Methods of Rationality Podcast. For the most part it's a solo project, but after receiving a few requests I've gotten comfortable enough with it that I've decided to integrate other voices as long as it doesn't require much additional work from me. Meaning - just send me the audio file of you reading the lines and I'll incorporate it if I can. I didn't really expect much response from this approach, and for the most part I didn't get one. Seems no one is really interested in doing Gregory Goyle's lines. :)

With a notable exception. The girls of SPHEW. I received a complete reading of all of Daphne's lines before I even announced I was willing to take other voices. It was one of the primary motivators for overturning my previous policy and saying I would accept others. Since then I also received all Tracey's and the start of Susan's with a commitment of a full reading. I'm still at least two months away from the first appearance of any of the SPHEW witches, and probably a full year away from their eventual official SPHEW adventures.

I believe SPHEW has indeed promoted heroism among witches in the real world. Regardless of what feminist themes may have been explored, it's my opinion that SPHEW has had a positive real-world effect. :)

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 18 October 2011 03:02:43AM *  11 points [-]

Well I am in HMPOR withdrawal so I will post an idea that I have about the origin of the "unverbalizable fear" that Harry has while under the sorting hat about going to Hufflepuff where he will be happy. This idea is based on the few descriptions of the relationship between harry and his father in the early chapters

I was going to post the excerpts in this comment, but it is quite a bit of content so I will abstain for now. If someone wants me to post the excerpts I will. For now suffice it to say that Harry does not feel respected by his father and the only positive feeling that his father is said to display towards Harry is pride.

His eyes glanced over to his father Michael Verres-Evans, who was looking stereotypically stern-but-proud

You might say that his father dropping everything for a last minute book buying spree was a very kind thing to do. Indeed Harry himself says that his dad is "awesome" because he buys him books, and uses the memory later when trying to cast the patronius charm. However, considering the lack of respect and affection that Harry's father shows I have to ask if the book buying spree was really for Harry. It seems more likely to be an attempt to help Harry "be all that he can be" not for Harry, but for himself. So he can continue to feel proud about the achievements of his child.

Children need the expression of love and affection from their parents in order to feel secure. If all Harry can get from his father is pride then it will be very important for him to maintain it. I submit that Harry's unverbalizable fear is an unconscious fear of abandonment(death for most of human history) if he loses his fathers pride by choosing the path of happiness over achievement.

Comment author: smk 08 March 2012 09:17:37PM 4 points [-]

Are time-turners really not turing computable? Is Harry ever going to figure out what allows magic to (seem to?) break the laws of physics? Is "we're living in a simulation" eliminated as a possibility?

Comment author: skepsci 15 February 2012 10:01:01AM *  4 points [-]

A hypothesis I'm currently toying with: Quirrell and HJPEV are different versions of the same individual, in some sense, and the Quirrell version is using some form of magic (probably involving breaking the 6-hour-limit on sending information backwards through time, possibly involving possession of a real Quirrell) to carry out a process of recursive self-improvement on himself. The story we're currently reading takes place in one iteration of the loop.

Has anyone posted this idea before on the net?

There are some serious problems with this hypothesis:

  • Quirrell and HJPEV appear to have very different utility functions.
  • Performing recursive self-improvement starting with a human hardly seems like the kind of thing Eliezer would advocate, considering the likelihood of ending up with an unfriendly superintelligence.

So it's probably wrong, but I thought it was interesting enough to post.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 05 March 2012 12:55:09AM *  3 points [-]

My theory is that when Voldie shot baby Harry, he copied one of his horcruxes into Harry, overwriting Harry's original soul/mind. HJPEV is what Voldie/Quirrel might have been like if raised under different circumstances.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 16 February 2012 02:39:47AM 3 points [-]

Quirrell is definitely Voldemort, or rather Voldemort and Quirrell are alternate identities of Tom Riddle.

Comment author: thomblake 15 February 2012 09:09:31PM 2 points [-]

Performing recursive self-improvement starting with a human hardly seems like the kind of thing Eliezer would advocate

Fortunately, Eliezer has repeatedly pointed out that Harry isn't Eliezer and has different ideas/priorities.

Quirrell and HJPEV appear to have very different utility functions.

Quirrell seems to be trying to fix that too; sounds like a feature, not a bug.

Has anyone posted this idea before on the net?

There have been numerous time travel / "Quirrell is Harry" theories before. Given the relationship between MoR and other fanfic, I'd be surprised if there was never a Peggy Sue or other non-time-turner time travel. Insane Weasley brothers notwithstanding.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 11 February 2012 12:20:16PM *  4 points [-]

Sorry if this has been asked before, my meagre google-fu skills fail to reveal it.

Chapter 55. When Harry cast his Patronus in Azkaban, he lost some of his "life" to sustain it:

Slowly the light died back down.

Part of Harry's life flowed back into him.

Part had been lost as radiation.


So Harry walked on, leaving a piece of himself behind. It would dwell in this place and time forever, he knew. Even after Harry came back someday with a company of other True Patronus casters and they destroyed all the Dementors here. Even if he melted the triangular building and burned the island low enough that the sea would wash over it, leaving no trace that such a place as this had ever once existed. Even then he wouldn't get it back.

If you taboo "life", what exactly did Harry lose there and why should he never be able to regain it? It seems unlikely that MoR of all things subscribes to the idea of living things having a life force in some vitalist or spiritualist sense...

Also, will this have any effect on anything in the story? Did Harry permanently weaken his own magical potential or something of that sort?

Comment author: Locke 11 February 2012 04:23:10PM 3 points [-]

It means Harry will never be able to truly forget or move past that horrible day. A part of him will always be there, just as a part of Dumbledore will always be in the black room. I am reminded of Barney's "second that would last forever" from HIMYM.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 11 February 2012 05:15:03PM *  2 points [-]

I'm pretty sure something more literal was meant. The way the story is written, it sounded like Harry was in danger of dying from exhaustion, expending... something, to fuel his Patronus. And expending irrecoverably, it is stressed, so it's not like he just did the equivalent of a life-or-death sprint which made him really tired.

Comment author: Eneasz 13 February 2012 09:32:28PM *  4 points [-]

I also view this as poetic language, not a literal loss of some substance, but a major change in the person that is called Harry. If enough change makes you a different person, than any major change can be seen as the fractional death of the previous person you were. Value drift is a pretty common subject around here.

Harry has just been inside an active concentration camp for hours. I hear that many allied soldiers were massively altered when they first came upon & liberated the Nazi concentration camps. It's even possible that something similar to this was written by returning soldiers in memoirs. I think poetic language is to be expected when processing this sort of trauma.

Comment author: Anubhav 04 February 2012 03:37:34AM 4 points [-]

Is it possible to get Dementors to play poker with you by strongly expecting that behaviour?

Comment author: Locke 04 February 2012 06:23:03AM *  5 points [-]

I think the circular logic might make them implode, rendering Patronus 2.0 unnecessary.

"I expect the Dementors to play poker with me because I expect the Dementors to play poker with me because I expect..."

But if you were weak-minded enough (or strong-minded enough?) to trick yourself into genuinely believing that would work, I suppose it would. But in that case, what exactly is the limit of their power? Can you expect a Dementor to turn into an all-powerful friendly AI?

Comment author: Anubhav 05 February 2012 03:25:46AM 4 points [-]

But in that case, what exactly is the limit of their power? Can you expect a Dementor to turn into an all-powerful friendly AI?

Looks like Eliezer found himself another plot bunny.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 05 February 2012 01:24:20AM 2 points [-]

It should be possible to test whether or not the mental gymnastics are even possible by getting rationalists to make homeopathy work by believing in it. Then again, it might be harder to expect that a cloaked monster that eats happiness will play poker than to believe that pills packaged just like normal pills will cause symptom relief when you're sick. So you might need to get someone who didn't know about dementors and tell them that they play poker. Be sure to tell it with a straight face. In a textbook might work best.

As Locke says, the question is how much they're capable of doing just because you expect it. Can they break the laws of physics? That sounds like an awesome thing to test.

Comment author: Anubhav 05 February 2012 03:24:10AM *  3 points [-]

getting rationalists to make homeopathy work by believing in it

Uh... homeopathy doesn't require you to believe in it . That's not how the placebo effect works.

So you might need to get someone who didn't know about dementors and tell them that they play poker. Be sure to tell it with a straight face. In a textbook might work best.

If there's a magical way to plant false memories, you don't need to put in nearly that much work.

ETA: There were Memory Charms in Rowling's version.

Comment author: pedanterrific 05 February 2012 03:52:49AM 2 points [-]

There is in this one, too.

"The courts use Veritaserum, but it's a joke really, you just Obliviate yourself before you testify and then claim the other person was Memory-Charmed with a false memory. If you've got a Pensieve, and we do, you can even get the memory back afterward. Now, ordinarily the courts presume in favor of Obliviation having occurred rather than more complicated Memory Charms. [...]"

Comment author: PhilGoetz 25 September 2011 05:03:09PM 4 points [-]

I tried putting the HTML for MoR on an eReader, and the paragraph breaks disappeared, making the story seem like the hectic ravings of a madman on speed.

Some of the paragraph breaks are rendered by the Kobo eReader as paragraph breaks. But looking at the HTML, I can't figure out what the rule is. Does anyone know?

(P.S. - Do not buy a Kobo eReader.)

Comment author: orielwen 16 September 2011 08:54:53AM 4 points [-]

April now, is it? Then the next thing that's going to happen is that everyone except Harry goes home for Easter (Easter Sunday was 19 April in 1992, and they'll probably take most of the holiday before it rather than after it since it's so late that year) and Harry's parents come to visit him. That should be interesting. I hope he's told them he's not allowed to leave Hogwarts.

Comment author: Locke 27 February 2012 07:23:08PM 3 points [-]

We haven't seen anything of Madam Pince in MOR, have we? You'd think Harry would make a point to talk to the magical librarian. Come to think of it, she might be Hat and Cloak. Although not if H&C = Santa Clause.

Comment author: Anubhav 04 March 2012 02:59:51AM 4 points [-]

You'd think Harry would make a point to talk to the magical librarian.

<tiny note of discord>

Something is wrong here.

Comment author: Rhwawn 27 February 2012 07:45:03PM *  2 points [-]

We haven't. If you Google 'pince site:http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/', you'll see she is mentioned exactly once, in the context of Harry being allowed restricted books on Occlumency.

Comment author: Locke 20 February 2012 04:46:03AM 3 points [-]

Next Omake: The Rationalist's Guide to the Galaxy.

Comment author: Anubhav 19 February 2012 12:20:56PM *  3 points [-]

"Oh, the little fiddly things?" said Dumbledore. "They came with the Headmaster's office and I have absolutely no idea what most of them do. Although this dial with the eight hands counts the number of, let's call them sneezes, by left-handed witches within the borders of France, you would not believe how much work it took to nail that down."

Chapter 17.

I know it's supposed to be a joke, but.... How? Is Dumbledore monitoring every wizard and witch's sex life? And how did he manage to crunch that data? Do wizards have calculating machines?

Or maybe he meant to say "the documentation took a lot of work to find and decipher"?

ETA: If it was Rowling writing this, the 'device with the golden wibblers' mentioned in the very next sentence would become a major plot point later in the series.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 21 February 2012 04:20:20PM *  15 points [-]

Eh, it was probably a given from the start that it was counting something.

Then immediately after the French Ministry of Magic authorizes/legalizes a new "Give yourself multiple orgasms" charm, or even just a new magical Viagra, the device's count jumps up. At that point Dumbledore knows it's counting something that correlates strongly with sexual satisfaction, but the count is a bit too low to be counting the orgasms of the entire French female magical population. Turns out the inventor was a jealous French wizard who tried to keep tabs on his left-handed wife, but keyed in the criteria too weakly, so that any left-handed witch within the borders of France would do.

Comment author: Locke 19 February 2012 03:50:54PM *  4 points [-]

I find it more likely that he tinkered with the object itself, if that's even true.

I wonder if Quirrell could have managed to get a fiddly thing of his own invention into the headmaster's office before Dumbledore took over for Dipot. Perhaps as a gift to the old headmaster. It'd be an incredibly useful source of knowledge, if Wizards do in fact have magical listening devices.

Comment author: Locke 21 January 2012 03:14:20PM *  3 points [-]

"Status update, Jan 19 2012: Now working on Ch. 81. I think I'd really better finish at least Ch. 81 before posting Ch. 78, due to the number of backward edits I've been making, and the extent to which they form a dramatic unity that should be posted regularly/predictably after the first chapter hits."

Well, it's nice that we didn't need to ask for a progress update. About how long might 81 turn out to be?

Comment author: prasannak 22 January 2012 05:31:27AM *  5 points [-]

Answered today..

  • Today's HPMOR words written: 3,800.
  • Latest chapter with a complete draft: Ch. 81.
  • Hours past bedtime stayed up before even starting to go to sleep: 1.5.

Now we wait till the whole arc is done and dusted...

I like this form of update :)

Comment author: Locke 22 January 2012 04:16:20PM 2 points [-]

The more I realize taking his time will make the story even better, the more I want to read the story right now. I do hope this arc isn't as enormous as SA.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 September 2011 01:41:26AM 3 points [-]

For whatever reason, I didn't make this connection until now.

Prediction about Quidditch and the House Cup:

Dhveery znavchyngrf Enirapynj naq Fylgureva gb fpber whfg gur evtug ahzore bs cbvagf va gur svany tnzr gb znxr gur Ubhfr Phc n gvr. Guvf vf znqr cbffvoyr ol gur tnzr raqvat ng n cerqrsvarq gvzr.


Gur Ubhfr Phc vf njneqrq ng gur raq bs gur fpubby lrne, juvpu vf cebonoyl abg vzzrqvngryl nsgre gur ynfg Dhvqqvgpu tnzr. Nf jryy, vs Fylgureva naq Enirapynj unir hardhny fpberf orsber tbvat vagb gur tnzr, boivbhfyl n gvr vf gur jebat erfhyg.

Comment author: HonoreDB 27 September 2011 09:36:11PM 5 points [-]

I'd been assuming that they'd abuse the existing rules--Ravenclaw and Slytherin would agree not to catch the Snitch until both teams have racked up an obscene amount of points, and then they'd deliberately engineer a tie. This would both force a rule change and allow both to win the Cup.

But you've pointed out a potential problem: the tie can be broken by any professor. All McGonagall has to do, once she realizes what's going on, is promise to break the tie in favor of one side, and the other side will have no choice but to defect. Quirrel's bound by his promise not to award house points unfairly, but maybe he could blackmail Snape into promising to maintain the tie.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 22 September 2011 11:09:12PM 3 points [-]

I had been assuming that the third-floor corridor was just a way to keep young Gryffindors distracted. Surely even Dumbledore wouldn't be daft enough to entice the Dark Lord into a school. But Quirrell seems to think it's of interest. Confusing...

Comment author: Asymmetric 25 September 2011 06:35:12PM 5 points [-]

That brings up another point. In the Philosopher's Stone, Dumbledore enchants Erised so that only those who want to find the stone, but not use it, would be able to have it. If Dumbledore did in fact hide the stone in Hogwarts, I can't see either Harry or Quirrell not wanting to use the stone.

Is it even possible for Dumbledore to hide anything in such a way that Harry can get at it, but Quirrell cannot? Harry's major ideal difference -- his war against death -- isn't even understood by Dumbledore. Not to mention that such a hiding place would have been constructed before Dumbledore even met Harry.

Comment author: pedanterrific 27 September 2011 08:20:40PM 50 points [-]

Random, low-confidence but possibly amusing prediction: in MoR the final obstacle of the third-floor corridor is called the Mirror of Vec, because it's inscribed Noiti lovde talopart xet nere hocru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.

It's much more thematic, at least.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 23 February 2015 09:02:28PM 31 points [-]

Great idea! I should do that.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 23 February 2015 09:55:26PM 6 points [-]

... Have you had this sitting in a bookmark for four years so you could give him credit?

I'm not sure whether to be impressed or squee at the adorables. Probably both.

Comment author: dspeyer 23 February 2015 11:04:21PM 3 points [-]
Comment author: Brickman 27 September 2011 02:55:34AM 7 points [-]

I think you hit on a key point that several are missing--Dumbledore wouldn't want HJEPV to have the stone any more than Quirrell (well, maybe a little more, but certainly less than nobody having it or even than handing it off to, say, some random Hufflepuff). In canon Harry didn't just not want to use it, he didn't want it used--that was his entire motivation for getting it. Rational Harry would, probably quite literally given enough time to think on the situation, kill to use it, and use it repeatedly. And Dumbledore knows this.

Canon Harry was, in fact, a person Dumbledore would be willing to loan the stone to if necessary. Rational Harry is not. The mirror actually represents a pretty effective screening process for who does and doesn't fall in that category, especially combined with what in theory should have been a screening test to ensure you were a capable enough wizard to protect it and/or had the approval of several people he trusted in a more general capacity. In fact now that I say that, it suddenly seems plausible that the mirror wasn't in any way tied to how it was hidden, and instead was just the trigger used for retrieving it. In which case, actually, a sufficiently powerful wizard with sufficient time could probably deconstruct the spell and take it by force, simply because no lock is perfect, which is why it still needed to be guarded in the first place and why stopping Quirrell was necessary.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 25 September 2011 06:49:54PM 3 points [-]

In canon, why did Harry even want the stone? He could have just left it in there.

I'm pretty sure HJPEV could precommit to not using the stone himself, in order to use it on others.

Comment author: [deleted] 25 September 2011 06:55:09PM 6 points [-]

That sounds like a reasonably good prediction about the way that plot path would go. It sounds at least partially analogous to one-boxing, and we know the author one-boxes.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 25 September 2011 08:00:34PM 4 points [-]

I'm pretty sure HJPEV could precommit to not using the stone himself, in order to use it on others.

I don't think that would be enough. In canon, Quirrel wanted the stone to use on Voldemort, not on himself, and he couldn't get it.The only way to get the stone in canon would be to want to have it to keep someone else from having it. HJPEV would want to use it on other people, therefore he can't get it. Unless he could get an exception for wanting to give it to someone else, who would then be able to use it.

Comment author: TobyBartels 27 September 2011 07:18:07PM 3 points [-]

In canon, why did Harry even want the stone? He could have just left it in there.

Indeed! I've always imagined the only explanation as sheer carelessness; MoR!Harry would have left it. (Ironically, since taking the stone goaded canon!Quirrelmort into touching Harry and thereby being destroyed, it was actually good that canon!Harry took the stone; but MorR!Harry doesn't know that this would happen, at least not yet.)

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 27 September 2011 09:27:04PM 3 points [-]

(Ironically, since taking the stone goaded canon!Quirrelmort into touching Harry and thereby being destroyed, it was actually good that canon!Harry took the stone; but MorR!Harry doesn't know that this would happen, at least not yet.)

In the books Harry's success is essential due to the fact that every time Voldemort tries to kill him Harry is magically protected by something unforeseen. Voldemort isn't clever enough to just kill him by non-magical means.

In MoR I imagine that Harry won't have such convenient protections.

Comment author: see 18 October 2011 03:22:37AM 12 points [-]

Voldemort isn't clever enough to just kill him by non-magical means.

Well, you know how it would actually play out, given Canon!Voldemort

"Okay, my wand didn't work against Harry, and a borrowed wand didn't work against Harry. What I need to do is get the ultimate wand!"

"Master, it may be impertinent of me, but why don't we just get you an AK-47 and let you shoot him? Or maybe a grenade launcher or something?"

"But then I won't have defeated him with magic! My magic must be the mightiest!"

"Um, wait, if you need the boost of the ultimate wand, isn't that already proof your magic on its own—"

"Avada kedavra! All right, anyone else have helpful suggestions?"

Comment author: [deleted] 27 September 2011 07:23:30PM 2 points [-]

Harry's major ideal difference -- his war against death -- isn't even understood by Dumbledore.

Which means that Dumbledore probably wouldn't enchant it in such a way that Harry could get it.

Comment author: Nornagest 25 September 2011 08:20:59PM 2 points [-]

The Weasley twins at one point mention taking the corridor all the way to the magic mirror and back, although they presumably didn't escape detection while doing so. If that's possible, I'd say it's unlikely that a guy like Quirrell would have found it impossible to defeat himself or (if he was concerned about detection) to leverage some student adventurer into defeating.

The safe bet seems to be that it's a red herring.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 12 September 2011 07:11:34PM 3 points [-]

One thing that I found interesting but that I haven't noticed anyone else mention.

In chapter 76, we have:

But, as Hermione had explained to Millicent, prophesying wasn't controllable, there was no way to ask for a prophecy about anything in particular. Instead (the books had said) there was a sort of pressure that built up in Time, when some huge event was trying to happen, or stop itself from happening. And seers were like weak points that let out the pressure, when the right listener was nearby. So prophecies were only about big, important things, because only that generated enough pressure; and you almost never got more than one seer saying the same thing, because afterward the pressure was gone. And, as Hermione had further explained to Millicent, the seers themselves didn't remember their prophecies, because the message wasn't for them. And the messages would come out in riddles, and only someone who heard the prophecy in the seer's original voice would hear all the meaning that was in the riddle. There was no possible way that Millicent could just give out a prophecy any time she wanted, about school bullies, and then remember it, and if she had it would've come out as 'the skeleton is the key' and not 'Susan Bones has to be there'.

But in chapter 63, we have:

Final Aftermath:

She came awake with a gasp of horror, a disruption of her breathing that left her feeling deprived of air and yet her lungs didn't move, she woke up with an unvoiced scream on her lips and no words, no words came forth, for she could not understand what she had seen, she could not understand what she had seen, it was too large for her to encompass and still taking shape, she could not put words to that formless shape and so she could not discharge it, could not discharge it and become innocent and unknowing once more.

"What time is it?" she whispered.

Her golden jeweled alarm clock, the beautiful and magical and expensive alarm clock that the Headmaster had given her as a gift upon her employment at Hogwarts, whispered back, "Around two in the morning. Go back to sleep."

Her sheets were soaked in sweat, her nightclothes soaked in sweat, she took her wand from beside the pillow and cleaned herself up before she tried to go back to sleep, she tried to go back to sleep and eventually succeeded.

Sybill Trelawney went back to sleep.

This aftermath was widely considered to have been Trelawney giving a prophesy. However, as we just found out (assuming that the information Harry and Hermione gathered is accurate) that prophesies aren't given, the pressure doesn't get released, unless the right person is nearby. However, Trelawney appeared to be alone in that aftermath. This opens a number of different options.

  • The information from the books is wrong.
  • Trelawney was not as alone as she appeared.
  • The speculated recording spells count as being the right nearby listener. Interestingly, this could mean that Dumbledore isn't the right listener, if others also have recording or listening spells around Trelawney.
  • Trelawney wasn't actually giving a prophesy. The first time I read it, I thought that she "couldn't discharge it," and then it did discharge but didn't realize, because she could never remember her prophesies. But with this new information, that suggests to me that perhaps all of the pressure was building and building, but it was unable to vent itself at that time because the right person wasn't there. If this prophesy is similar to the one in canon, then that means it won't express itself until she's near Harry Potter.

Does anyone else see anything that I missed?

Comment author: moridinamael 12 September 2011 07:28:21PM 20 points [-]

During Hermione's description, my brain immediately pointed out that no one could possibly know whether or not Seers can give prophesies with no one around to hear them, because the Seers don't remember doing it and, well, there's no one else around to notice.

Maybe Seers are just constantly prophesying when they're alone and no one has any idea.

Comment author: Xachariah 15 September 2011 06:14:57AM *  4 points [-]

Confirmation Bias exists for wizards just as well as muggles.

Nobody remembers the three other children destined to defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and that's to be expected for someone who dies so young with no notable achievements to their name. But Harry Potter? Why, once the Dark Lord is defeated and the story gets out, everyone will know he was prophesied to win for sure!

Comment author: Desrtopa 14 September 2011 07:39:42PM 3 points [-]

They could possibly know, if they were to, say, keep recording devices on a large population of known seers, but from what we've seen so far I don't think I would credit the wizarding world in general with that much rigor.

Comment author: pedanterrific 14 September 2011 08:03:59PM *  10 points [-]

I don't think that would really settle the matter, though. All you would then know is whether seers prophesied when only in the presence of recording devices. (If a seer prophesied in the forest and no one was there to hear, would it constrain the future?) I wonder what you would call that, actually- the Cassandra Uncertainty Principle?

Comment author: [deleted] 13 September 2011 07:38:05AM 3 points [-]
  • The information from the books is wrong.

The official explanation for prophecy was presented alongside a character who exploits other people's belief in destiny in order to mislead them. It appeared in a chapter called "Surface Appearances". It might not be safe to take it at face value.

I think there were already (extratextual) reasons to doubt that Eliezer would implement prophecy that way, but there's another one.

Comment author: pedanterrific 14 September 2011 12:23:22AM *  8 points [-]

(This sort of goes along with all the other responses to the grandparent, but Donny's is the best fit):

I'm having a hard time believing that the girl who said this-

Instead (the books had said) there was a sort of pressure that built up in Time, when some huge event was trying to happen, or stop itself from happening. And seers were like weak points that let out the pressure, when the right listener was nearby. So prophecies were only about big, important things, because only that generated enough pressure; and you almost never got more than one seer saying the same thing, because afterward the pressure was gone.

Is the same girl who said this-

Hermione turned back to face Dumbledore again, took a deep breath, and said, "Well, maybe people who are going to be heroes, will be heroes no matter what. But I don't see how anyone could really know that, aside from just saying it afterward. And when I told you that I wanted to be a hero, you weren't very encouraging."

Okay, say that prophecies are caused by 'pressure in Time' from great events that are 'trying' to happen. How could anyone know that? What's worse, though, is that she did this research with Harry, who apparently let her walk away believing this nonsense.

Edit: (And if Eliezer pops in to say the Department of Mysteries has a room full of Temporal Barometers I will be very unhappy.)

Comment author: Desrtopa 14 September 2011 06:19:41AM *  5 points [-]

Even if the explanation given for the observations is wrong, it wouldn't change the observations, that prophesies only ever seem to be about big important things, don't occur on demand, and don't get delivered by multiple seers or by the same seer more than once. Whether Hermione believes the explanation or not (she'd certainly be wise to be skeptical of it) doesn't affect whether she has enough information to dispense with the hypothesis that Millicent is a seer.

The fact that she related the contents of some books to Daphne and Millicent doesn't necessarily mean she bought their contents wholecloth, it could have just been the simplest way to make a point. She might have believed it; remember that Hermione much more than Harry is used to taking things she reads at face value, and compartmentalization is normal, but I wouldn't take it as established.

Comment author: hairyfigment 16 September 2011 07:46:35PM 2 points [-]

It might have a credible meaning, depending on how we explain the facts of time travel. Perhaps some agent inspires prophecies to help ensure a coherent timeline.

This suggests that HJPEV or Voldemort will, as a result of the prophecies, affect the distant past somehow and become their own metaphorical grandfather (e.g by 'erasing Atlantis'). But it doesn't have to mean that. Perhaps without post-prophecy Harry, Voldemort would simply have gotten bored with world domination and decided to kill his own grandfather again.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 12 September 2011 08:41:51PM 3 points [-]

Back in chapter 21 Trelawney started giving a prophecy in the middle of lunch and Dumbledore used the phoenix to teleport her away. If the books are correct this probably made the prophecy useless as anyone in the room could have been the intended recipient, but the true meaning would probably be lost among that large an audience anyway.

As a side note if the he-who-is-coming in the prophecy is Mr. hat-and-cloak then that would rule out Snape and Quirrell. Though I don't think manipulating first year army battles and messing with Granger's head would count as "tearing apart" anything worth prophesying about.

Comment author: EphemeralNight 09 September 2011 06:51:40PM *  5 points [-]

I've already posted this in the reviews as well as on TvTropes, but I figure it can't hurt to share it here as well. (As well as pose it somewhat more formally.)

Harry's freak-out in the beginning over the animagus transformation got me thinking. Between the two possiblities: a) the laws of physics Harry believes are wrong and b) the animagus transformation only appears to violate Conservation but doesn't actually do so, it seems fallacious to skip to possibility-a without ruling out possibility-b.

After some thought, I was able to generate a hypothesis for how Variable-Mass Shapeshifting Between Multiple Fixed 3-Dimensional Structures might work without violating Conservation; I don't know enough about physics to guess if it is plausible--One of the clues I'm basing this guess on was that Harry did not in any way remark upon the existence of containers that are bigger on the inside than on the outside, and the inference that magic can create space and that this does not violate any law of physics that Harry knows of.

The two or more 3-dimensional forms with differing mass all exist simultaneously in an unchanging 4-dimensional superstructure. The form that is perceivable in our 3-dimensional universe is whatever cross-section of the superstructure happens to intersect our 3-dimensional grid, and "changing form" involves only unidirectional motion along the inferred extrauniversal axis.

VMSFF = Variable-Mass Shapeshifter with Fixed Forms

Possible Evidence for:
* VMSFFs rarely have more than one alternate form. (Magic has to create space for each alternate form on the 4th spacial dimension. No indication that additional space does not require additional energy to maintain.)
* VMSFFs transform quickly. (Same reasoning as above: there is as little intermediate matter as possible.)
* VMSFFs demonstrate similar cognition regardless of form. (Suggests both brains are present and active at all times.)

Possible Evidence against:
* Dementor effect is less in animal form. (Suggests that either both brains are not equally present, or that Dementor Effect is constrained to 3-dimensional space.)
* Animal urges change with the form. (Suggests that both brains are not equally active. Weak evidence, as bleed-over of urges between forms is observed.)
* Injuries in one form translate to the other(s). (Suggest the two forms are not separate parts of a larger entity.)

* How is an animagus form destroyed? (Is it closer to Amputation or Obliviation?)
* Does wearing heavy clothes vs. nudity affect the amount of energy necessary to transform? (Does the difference in energy match the inertia of the clothes?)
* What does the change feel like to the animagus? (Is it sensationless as switching from one set of sensory imputs to another would suggest, or is it sensable as having sensory imputs within changing matter would suggest?)
* In the case of the Wolves in Luminosity, is the mass of consumed food greater than the mass of the Wolf's human body plus waste? (If so, does the cumulative difference match the mass of the Wolf upon first Floof? For animagi, does the magical energy expended to create the alternate form in the first place match that needed for the transfigured-creation of a similar mass?)
* Is being an animagus a permanent drain on one's power?

In any case, I've been thinking about it for a while and a 4-dimensional superstructure is the only way I can imagine it working. Alternate Hypotheses anyone?

Comment author: gwern 09 September 2011 08:10:56PM 3 points [-]
  • Is being an animagus a permanent drain on one's power?

Evidence for: the most powerful wizards we know of never have Animagus forms (Grindelwald, Dumbledore, Voldemort, the Founders of Hogwarts, Merlin) that are mentioned.

Evidence against: Harry's parents & co. regarded Animagus as something so desirable that they were willing to break a strong government law and work hard to figure out how to turn themselves into Animagi. No such penalty seems to ever be mentioned.

Comment author: Desrtopa 09 September 2011 10:11:36PM 5 points [-]

Evidence for: the most powerful wizards we know of never have Animagus forms (Grindelwald, Dumbledore, Voldemort, the Founders of Hogwarts, Merlin) that are mentioned.

Voldemort is an unregistered animagus in MoR canon.

Comment author: EphemeralNight 09 September 2011 08:44:43PM *  5 points [-]

It could easily be a very small drain. Harry goes around with that transfigured rock on his finger which is implied to be a not-insignificant constant drain on his magic, yet does not seem to be a noticable detriment to his spellcasting.

Another Test: A persons magic is often likened to a muscle; it gets stronger with use. If the "muscle" could be measured directly would its average strength be higher among Animagi? (Actually testing that would be impossible; there simply aren't enough animagi in the world to get meaningful statistics, but if there were...)

Edit for "Duh" moment. If destroying someone's animagus form is non-invasive, does the former animagus suddenly have slightly more magical power than before their form's destruction?

Comment author: Nick_Roy 04 October 2011 09:32:55PM 4 points [-]

Something I just noticed from Ch. 55:

Amelia Bones: "Someone would burn for this."

Did Amelia Bones burn Narcissa Malfoy?

Comment author: TuviaDulin 11 October 2011 08:01:08PM 9 points [-]

Actually, I just had a chilling realization in regards to that. From chapter 62:

'"No," said the old wizard's voice. "I do not think so. The Death Eaters learned, toward the end of the war, not to attack the Order's families. And if Voldemort is now acting without his former companions, he still knows that it is I who make the decisions for now, and he knows that I would give him nothing for any threat to your family. I have taught him that I do not give in to blackmail, and so he will not try."

Harry turned back then, and saw a coldness on the old wizard's face to match the shift in his voice, Dumbledore's blue eyes grown hard as steel behind the glasses, it didn't match the person but it matched the formal black robes.'

I strongly suspect that Dumbledore burned Narcissa Malfoy so that the death eaters would stop targeting the families of Order members. Judging by his tone of voice and body language in this excerpt, this is probably the one action during the war that Dumbledore most regrets having had to do.

If I'm right, Harry will be in a difficult moral situation when he learns the truth. Was what Dumbledore did justified? On the one hand, torturing a mostly innocent person to death is deplorable no matter how you slice it. On the other, if that was the only way to stop many other innocents from being tortured to death...

Comment author: Fergus_Mackinnon 12 October 2011 08:46:52PM *  7 points [-]

Another thought which occurred, is that Amelia Bones killed Narcissa in revenge for the Death Eater's killing of her family members, then Dumbledore claimed responsibility in order to send a message to the Death Eater's and Malfoy to discourage further attacks on the Order's families, and prevent Lucius from finding any evidence of Amelia's responsibility, which might have allowed him to remove one of Dumbledore's more powerful allies. He probably would have had to have been careful to give the impression that he would be willing to do so 'again' to the other Death Eaters if he wanted them to stop, though, unless Lucius cares a lot more about his allies than shown so far, or at least made some threat against Draco, who Lucius seems to care about.

EDIT: I was wondering how killing Lucius' wife would provide leverage over the other Death Eaters when I realised something rather obvious in retrospect, Dumbledore is the Headmaster of Hogwarts. He already has plenty of leverage, doesn't he? If need be he can hold all the school age children of Death Eaters and their allies hostage, or expell them, denying them good education and potentially giving them a bad reputation. If the parents withdrew the children and sent them abroad though, they could grow up without the knowledge of local politics provided by a hogwarts education (including personal knowledge of everyone important in your age group, which in such a small society, not-having would likely be a big disadvantage.)

Comment author: TuviaDulin 15 October 2011 03:56:02AM 5 points [-]

Ah, good point. Using someone else's moral lapses to his advantage without getting his own hands dirty would be very much in character for MoR Dumbledore.

Either way, I suspect that Harry and Draco's attempt to uncover the truth, and Harry having to consider Dumbledore's position at the time, will be a major story arc at some point.

Comment author: Anubhav 19 February 2012 08:59:14AM 2 points [-]

It seems that Akinator doesn't recognise any HPMOR characters.

This sounds like a job for a few procrastinators with a weekend to spare.

Comment author: prasannak 02 February 2012 05:29:26AM 2 points [-]


Could we have an update every 10 days telling us where you are? Makes the waiting much easier, knowing we're getting more.

One like last time with #of words, chapter would be great.

The super awesomeness of HPMOR so far is what makes all the anticipation fun...

Comment author: Asymmetric 13 November 2011 09:27:12PM *  2 points [-]

Harry has said that Hermione is his moral center. Is she? Should she be?

I have mixed feelings. She's hardly a paragon, and if she's going to continue to develop into her own character instead of a satellite of Harry, Eliezer's going to outline her faults in more detail. We've seen this with Harry. Every time he undergoes a trial, readers learn more and more how fallible he is, and why.


Comment author: Locke 27 December 2011 05:13:31PM 5 points [-]

Hermione is far from perfect, but she's nonetheless the most traditionally-moral person at Hogwarts. I think Harry is correct not to want to emulate her entirely, yet still respect her enough to ask her advice on morally ambiguous issues.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 25 September 2011 05:23:15AM *  2 points [-]

Tiled in pentagons? That I want to see. Or... not. Probably not.

Comment author: Nornagest 25 September 2011 06:05:45AM 8 points [-]

I actually looked that up on my last reread. It turns out there are several known pentagon tilings, some of which are quite attractive, although of course none use regular pentagons.

Comment author: Plasmon 25 September 2011 08:20:06AM 7 points [-]

You may also be interested in Uniform tilings in the hyperbolic plane. In this non-euclidean plane, regular pentagon tiling is possible, and, using some mapping to Euclidean space, aesthetically pleasing pictures may be produced.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 25 September 2011 03:31:13PM 6 points [-]

So we may presume the hallway in question had a vaulted ceiling.

Comment author: bogdanb 15 October 2011 01:06:32PM 4 points [-]

Or that Hogwarts is doing funny things with space, which we know it does regularly.

Comment author: Micaiah_Chang 18 September 2011 10:50:40PM 2 points [-]

One thing that I've wondered about-and note that I'm not entirely sure if this is the right venue for asking- is what Eliezer thinks about the Visual Novel format a storyline structure (obviously not for MOR, that increases the entry barrier way too much for a cute and pop introduction to Rationality. ) I know that he decided to use the Normal/True ending for the Three Worlds Collide story, but what does he think about, let's say, the relatively long common route into different story branches format, the three "distinct" story format (Fate/Stay Night), or the "controlled redo format" (sort of like Tsukihime, where in order to get a complete idea of the setting, characterization and themes you need to finish all the routes in a certain order).

I half wish there's a magical encyclopedia for MoR like there was in Fate/Stay Night, but that's understandably not as fun to read or write as actually showcasing the powers.

Although talking about made me think: I totally want to see an Omake where Harry gets Bad Ended by getting addicted to video games after he goes back to his parents for the summer...

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 September 2011 11:15:59PM 17 points [-]

I seem to recall there was some playing around with Suzumiya-style Anachronic Order in earlier MoR chapters, but it was pretty self-contained and easy to follow. Plus there's some just downright confusing parts- chapter opening quotes that are never referenced again, Aftermaths that don't seem to have anything to do with the previous chapter, stuff like that.

And there's definitely some real potential for an omake chapter of Bad Ends: Harry accidentally destroying Dumbledore's ability to cast the Patronus Charm, Harry insulting his mother to Snape just a little more, Harry saying the wrong thing to Lucius in King's Cross, Harry realizing aloud to Quirrel what the ritual to summon Death really was...

Harry successfully transfiguring nanotech.

Comment author: thomblake 28 December 2011 04:59:27PM 27 points [-]

I had actually been tossing around the idea of a fic where each chapter is a bad end for MoR, possibly one for each chapter. Working title: 'Everyone dies'.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 January 2012 12:22:18AM 9 points [-]

One for each chapter? I'd read that.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 December 2011 05:13:18PM 4 points [-]

Not "Rocks fall, everyone dies"?

Comment author: thomblake 28 December 2011 05:23:23PM 5 points [-]

I was thinking the first chapter should feature rocks falling.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 December 2011 02:06:24PM 12 points [-]

When I'm done with the Hermione Granger route, I'm going to write the Luna Lovegood route, then the Bellatrix Black route, then the Draco Malfoy route, and then the harem ending!

Comment author: Anubhav 21 January 2012 05:01:41PM 5 points [-]

.... Now you've got my hopes up.

Goddammit Eliezer, demonstrate that you're capable of finishing one route before laying out your awesomecool plans for the future.