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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

6 Post author: bogdanb 27 March 2012 06:07PM

This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 81, which should be published later today. The previous thread passed 400 comments as of the time of this writing, so it will pass 500 comments soon after the next chapter is posted, if not before. I suggest refraining from commenting here until chapter 81 is posted; comment in the 12th thread until you read chapter 81. After chapter 81 is posted, I suggest all discussion of previous guesses be kept here, with links to comments in the previous thread.

There is now a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.) When posted, chapter 81 should appear here.

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,nine, ten, eleven, twelve.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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 (1099)

Sort By: Controversial
Comment author: Eneasz 02 April 2012 09:35:13PM 1 point [-]

With Eliezer's comments about how plots are better when they aren't needlessly complicated and the point isn't to trick the reader into wildly off-base or over-the-top-speculation, I've increased my probability of Harry being placed into Slytherin by the actual Sorting Hat up to 50%. If we assume that it was Dumbledore that veto'd the Hat's choice, why didn't he place Harry into Gryffindor? He would have been much closer to MacGonagal, Dumbledore's most loyal agent. Was he trying to keep him close to Hermione? Can anyone recall support for that in the text?

Comment author: Osuniev 02 January 2013 11:22:44AM 1 point [-]

HPMOR!Harry's wand signalled itself to him by BLUE and BRONZE sparks, while Canon!Harry's one made red and gold. (IMO as a reference to the Phoenix, not Griffindor).

I'd take it as a strong hint from EY that Ravenclaw IS Harry true House.

Comment author: 75th 02 April 2012 09:45:19PM *  11 points [-]

This is another case of an issue that's supposed to be mysterious to the characters, but not to the readers. We know what actually happened: the Sorting Hat said "SLYTHERIN!" to try to scare the crap out of Harry, to make his life flash before his eyes, to make him think that his hopes and dreams were ruined, so he would get serious and vow right then and there not to become the next Dark Lord. But the Hat actually, truly meant him to go to Ravenclaw.

Harry acknowledges that this is what happened: "It had been an awfully cruel prank the Hat had played on him, but you couldn't argue with the results on consequentialist grounds."

No other characters know what happened, so it adds to Harry's mystique for them, but we, who saw the whole thing from Harry's point of view, ought to know better.

Comment author: Eneasz 03 April 2012 03:33:48PM *  2 points [-]

Harry is wrong sometimes. From his point of view Quirrell is awesome, and engaging his Dark Side is a perfectly valid option whenever he runs into a problem hard enough (despite his vow to not become the next Dark Lord). He acts more Slytherin than Ravenclaw most of the time.

If Harry had an image of himself as belonging to Ravenclaw and not Slytherin, and the Hat told him "You deserve this too" and then yelled out "SLYTHERIN!"... and then after a few seconds of silence yelled out "Just Kidding, RAVENCLAW!" - given that Harry knows nothing about any of the major players, and has no idea how powerful Dumbledore is and his usual crazy-style of plotting - than to him the most probable explanation is likely "The hat must've played a cruel prank on me to teach me a lesson."

But if he had knowledge of the politics and players in Hogwarts, didn't have such a strong self-identity as Ravenclaw, and hadn't had his "prank" mental network readily available due to the Hat scolding him about it just a few minutes beforehand, a neutral interpretation of the facts would've placed at least an equally high probability on someone meddling with his sorting, as on the Hat played its first prank in over 600 years.

Comment author: 75th 03 April 2012 09:52:06PM *  6 points [-]

Your "neutral interpretation of the facts" apparently ignores the facts that the Sorting Hat has never been self-aware before, that Harry is aware that the Hat is self-aware now, and that the Hat is borrowing a lot of knowledge and a little bit of personality from Harry's own brain at the time of the prank.

I just fail to see how you can take an explanation that fits 100% of the known facts, and then somehow, by applying

Eliezer's comments about how plots are better when they aren't needlessly complicated and the point isn't to trick the reader into wildly off-base or over-the-top-speculation

, you come up with a needlessly complicated and speculative idea that assumes the existence of secrets we have no clues about.

Comment author: Eneasz 03 April 2012 10:50:20PM *  -1 points [-]

I don't see how self-awareness makes any sort of difference?

Either explanation fits 100% of the known facts. Harry assumes the Hat pranked him because that's what he wants to believe. But that Harry was actually sorted into Slytherin is considered more likely by several intelligent characters in the story. Regarding Quirrell's belief of this, Harry even admits:

Professor Quirrell was wrong, but wrong in such a convincing way that Harry was starting to think that it simply was the rational judgment given the evidence available to Professor Quirrell. There were times, never predictable times but still sometimes, when you would get improbable evidence and the best knowable guess would be wrong.

What evidence does Harry have that Quirrell lacks? The only relevant special knowledge he has is that the Sorting Hat had some extra ability to appreciate humor at the time of his sorting, and wanted to steer him to Hufflepuff. I don't consider that strong evidence. However it is the reason that I even allow a 50% chance that the prank really did occur, as opposed to being 80%+ certain that Harry is actually Slytherin.

And what sort of evidence did Quirrell have that Harry lacked? A knowledge of how Dumbledore works, how the various factions in the school mesh, and the history of the Sorting Hat's lack of screwing around when it comes to the business of sorting. Harry knows all those now, but he's already fixated on his previous answer and doesn't want to abandon it.

We've been given more than just clues - we've been told directly by two characters that Harry is actually Slytherin, indirectly by at least one, and have Harry's actions to judge him by. When the most intelligent and rational character in the fic considers this the simplest/most probable answer, I don't think it's that complicated or speculative. It may very well be a large flashing neon sign by the author saying "Hey! Consider this hypothesis! This one right here that I've repeated several times and pointed out how likely it seems!"

Comment author: 75th 04 April 2012 01:54:32AM 6 points [-]

I don't see how self-awareness makes any sort of difference?

You said:

a neutral interpretation of the facts would've placed at least an equally high probability on someone meddling with his sorting, as on the Hat played its first prank in over 600 years.

But you did not consider that since the Sorting Hat was sentient for the first time in its existence, it would be very likely to do other things for the first time in its existence.

The only relevant special knowledge he has is that the Sorting Hat had some extra ability to appreciate humor at the time of his sorting

Seriously? Harry knows the entirety of his conversation with the Hat, which no one else knows. In that conversation the Hat used all of Harry's knowledge and vocabulary to try to convince him to go to Hufflepuff, Harry obstinately refused, the Hat got pissed at Harry's obstinacy, and then, with Harry demanding to go to Ravenclaw, and the Hat admitting that only Harry's choices can determine where he belongs, the Hat says "You deserve the scary thing I'm about to do to you" and calls out "Slytherin!" and lets Harry stew on that for eight full seconds before calling out "Ravenclaw!"

That is hardly a mere "extra ability to appreciate humor".

the most intelligent and rational character in the fic considers this the simplest/most probable answer

Yes, he does, but he does not have all the information necessary to come to an informed conclusion. Harry does, and so do we. Harry and we are the only ones privy to his conversation with the sentient Sorting Hat.

And when thinking about the above passage on a more "meta" level, if Eliezer had intended us to have any lingering doubts about the Sorting, he would not have have flatly had our protagonist say "Professor Quirrell was wrong," and he certainly would not have gone on to point out, in the very passage you quoted, that Quirrell did not have all the evidence available to him, so as to corroborate his statement.

I know you want this to be a mystery, but there are plenty of other mysteries in this story to wonder about that are far more deserving of your attention than this matter, which was settled many chapters ago.

Comment author: Locke 03 April 2012 03:40:30AM *  5 points [-]

But Harry is a Slytherin. At his very core is his ambition to become immortal and reorganize the universe to his satisfaction. He wants knowledge, and he wants it for its own sake, but it's not his deepest wish. If he looked into the Mirror of Erised he'd see himself as the benevolent and omnipotent lord of the universe, not himself surrounded by books.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 28 March 2012 11:11:10AM 1 point [-]

Harry: Use magic to cheat on gambling, or do the arbitrage-y thing.

Lucius: Suddenly you don't understand anything.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 01 April 2012 10:14:00PM 0 points [-]

Dumbledore pointed to the second scrawl. “The ones in this handwriting,” he said, still in that low voice, “were written by your mother. And the ones in this handwriting,” moving his finger to indicate the first scrawl, “were written by me. I would turn myself invisible and sneak into her dorm room while she was sleeping. Lily thought one of her friends was the one writing them and they had the most amazing fights.” ... Dumbledore was looking at him with a serious expression. “Do you understand the implications of what I have just told you, Harry?” ... “Ah well,” said Dumbledore, and sighed. “I suppose your intelligence has limits after all, then. It seems I was greatly premature in my enthusiasm. Shall we all just pretend I didn’t say anything incriminating?”

We have inferred that he got between Snape and Lily with the notes in the potions book. But Harry has no way of inferring this from the above. The only thing I can think to infer here is that Dumbledore was taking an "inappropriate interest" in Lily while she was a student.

I'm running with the theory (from Donny) that the prophecy was planted by Dumbledore as a plot to lure Voldemort into a trap, where Lily completed a dark ritual to protect Harry and destroy Voldemort should he attack Harry. Thinking further on this, I concluded that Lily would have to be in on the plot for it to have any hope of working. Then I recalled feeling that there was some "off" connection between Lily and Dumbledore, and came up with this.

What was Harry supposed to conclude from Dumbledore invisibly sneaking into Lily's room while she was a student, besides the obvious that Dumbledore was fooling around with Lily? It almost seems like he's trying to tell Harry he's his father. See his sadness and disappointment later in the scene.

Comment author: [deleted] 02 April 2012 10:28:15PM *  1 point [-]

I'm running with the theory (from Donny) that the prophecy was planted by Dumbledore as a plot to lure Voldemort into a trap, where Lily completed a dark ritual to protect Harry and destroy Voldemort should he attack Harry.

Objection. I don't believe Lily completed a ritual. She's not the one who spoke the words in the correct order. I don't think Voldemort would accidentally confer a protection upon an intended victim, either.

My version of this theory has Dumbledore creating the same setup as in canon because he thought it would lead to the same result as in canon. Not because he'd read the novels or anything, but because it looked like the logical outcome to him. He's brilliant, but no rationalist, and he fell prey to the conjunction fallacy, formulating a complicated plot with lots of plausible-sounding detail.

Still, he got two out of three right. Lily and Snape acted as expected. If only Voldemort had been a little dumber.

ETA, just to be clear: I think Dumbledore expected Harry to be protected and Voldemort to be defeated by the power of Lily's love, as in canon. He thinks Voldemort would be blind to an attack from this direction, because

"it is evil which does not know love, and dares not imagine love, and cannot ever understand love without ceasing to be evil."

ETA2: Actually, the part about the conjunction fallacy is wrong. I mistook Snape's involvement for an extraneous detail, but it's not. For the protective magic to activate, Lily needed to have been offered the chance to survive. Snape's role was to beg Voldemort to spare her. So every piece of the plot has a function.

Comment author: gjm 02 April 2012 09:49:34PM 4 points [-]

Hmm, haven't we seen something like that before? "I know you arranged my father's death." [pause] "No. -- I am your father."

Comment author: bogdanb 02 April 2012 02:05:52AM 1 point [-]

I started writing a counter-argument and remembered the date. This is meant as an April 1st joke, right?

Comment author: ygert 29 March 2012 09:55:58AM 0 points [-]

Has anyone ever tried to figure out why Quirrel (who is possessed by Voldermort) does not have Voldermort's face sticking out the back of his head? In this story, He is not wearing a turban, but is instead described as "slightly balding". Why this change from canon? The law of conservation of detail says that this means something. But what?

Another strange point is that Quirrelmort stopped an anti-polyjuice spell that was directed at him in chapter 79, for no apparent reason. Why? Is he for some reason using polyjuice? But I am pretty sure that he is possessing Quirrel, so what need is there to polyjuce into him?

My proposed answer is this: Voldermort is possessing Quirrel, and to avoid the possibility of being discovered on the back of Quirrel's head, he is using polyjuce to turn his Quirrel/Voldermort composite body back into a only Quirrel body, without a face on the back of the head. This allows him to throw off a certain amount of suspicion from people like Dumbledore who probably know that when a disembodied spirit posseses someone the possesee gets another face on the back of his head. Quirrel not having anyone on the back of his head is therfore proof to Dumbledore that he is not being possesed by Voldermort.

This is the only way I can think of to reconcile the fact that Quirrel is being possessed by Voldermort with the fact that Quirrelmort did not want to be hit with an anti-polyjuice spell, plus it also explains the departure from cannon about the back of Quirrel's head, and in addition it shows the high level of intelligence Voldermort has in this story.

Comment author: drethelin 29 March 2012 04:07:32PM 3 points [-]

Quirrel stopped the polyjuice spell to be intimidating, same as how he was manipulating the lights. Misdirecting the Aurors to polyjuice makes them more worried, and about the wrong thing.

But I think really it doesn't matter, because the reason in my mind why Voldemort isn't on Quirrel's head is because that would be fucking stupid. Plenty of changes from canon are simply people getting smarter, and this is one really obvious one. If his face HAS to be sticking out of whoever's body he is riding, the back of the head is basically the worst place to put it. It's way easier to accidentally reveal than say, the back, the stomach, or the side of the leg, and all of those places are covered as a matter of course by wizard's robes.

Comment author: Locke 28 March 2012 02:00:07AM *  -2 points [-]

And here... we... go.

Comment author: thelittledoctor 28 March 2012 02:02:18AM *  1 point [-]

OMG it's been past seven for two whole minutes and no new chapter Eliezer must be taunting us!

(Edit: I promise this is a joke, please don't downvote me into oblivion.)

Comment author: Lambda 28 March 2012 02:08:07AM *  1 point [-]

The fanfiction.net mirror has chapter 81 posted. Meanwhile, hpmor.com has today's Author's Note up, but not #81 itself. This is a shame, since I think that hpmor.com provides a substantially better reading experience...

Edit: And now it has #81 up too. Sorry about that.

Comment author: kilobug 28 March 2012 09:09:41PM *  1 point [-]

I'm wondering why Lucius tried to get out of the deal.

If Harry is Voldemort in hiding, he should guess that Harrymort needs Hermione for something (a dark ritual perhaps ?) and shouldn't get out of the deal.

If Harry isn't Voldemort in hiding, then Lucius would get two benefits in one : a payment of the blood debt he has towards House Potter (which could cost him a lot in the game of politics), and a debt from the Boy-Who-Lived, which could grant him a lot in the same game. And lots of money in addition, which is always a good thing to have.

I know that Draco is "his only weakness", but Draco didn't suffer any permanent harm. So he shouldn't be so upset to give up such a political advantage just to send Hermione to Azkaban, which doesn't bring him much. I don't get how a cunning Slytherin like him can discard such an advantage for pure vengeance over an "attempt" which didn't do any real harm.

Edit : I forgot to add : also, trying to get back on his offer on mere technicality in front of the whole Wizengamot damages the honour of House Malfoy, that's an additional cost to his attempt.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 29 March 2012 06:14:54PM *  7 points [-]

I'm wondering why Lucius tried to get out of the deal.

I see it as a status game. Previously Lucius had suggested that Dumbledore take Hermione's place in Azkaban, not because Lucius thought there was much of a chance that Dumbledore accept this offer, but rather to strike at the idea of Dumbledore's supposed heroic altruism.

Now when Lucius named 100,000 galleons as the price to erase the debt, he was trying a similar tactic -- Lucius didn't expect that Harry accept this, Lucius wanted to strike at the idea of his enemies being heroic and altruistic.

But Harry accepts - which in terms of impressiveness is a blow in Harry's favor and against Lucius, despite the fact that Harry's now endebted to Lucius, and because the sum named is so outrageously large.

But then Lucius thought he saw a opportunity to strike back at Dumbledore and Harry, because he thought they were pretending a play to raise Harry's status even further (not just heroically altruistic, but super-heroically tough, able to destroy Azkaban, all by himself).

So he attempted to call Harry and Dumbledore's bluff. And it failed again.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 06:50:14AM 1 point [-]

Earlier I noted that EY has a good bit of foreshadowing. Really spells things out.

A lot of that comes out in the dialogue. It occurred to me that dialogue is the closest thing we get to an unvarnished measurement in a story. The description of scenes and events are the voice of the author, but a character says what he says.

Except for cute things like "I'm not serious."

Comment author: cultureulterior 01 April 2012 10:11:59AM *  -2 points [-]

"You fools!" shouted Lucius Malfoy.

Lucius is using classical villain language (Matthew 5:22 etc...), which he really shouldn't be doing in any sensible world unless he's been contacted by Voldemort, or believes that Voldemort would have wanted him to do so. If we assume that he thinks that Voldemort wants him to play the villain role, the reason for his villainous behavior is made rather more clear.

Comment author: aladner 01 April 2012 02:47:06PM 0 points [-]

I'd say trying to have a 12 year old girl tortured to death is a better example of villainous behavior. I also don't see much evidence of Lucius doing any of this to help Harrymort. It seems more like a desperate attempt to sabotage him out of fear and anger.

Comment author: cultureulterior 01 April 2012 03:15:30PM *  1 point [-]

Agreed. However, very few people are villains in their own minds. And You Fool! has classically been a narrative tag for villains for over a century.

Comment author: ChrisHallquist 29 March 2012 06:44:36AM 2 points [-]

Um... I haven't been participating in these threads until now (will do so vigorously now), but what are current theories on the reasons behind what Quirrellmort has done so far?

It's clear to me that Hat and Cloak = Quirrellmort. So what did Quirrellmort stand to gain from this ploy? Was he trying to deprive Harry of allies, to eventually force him to rely more on Quirrellmort? Or specifically remove Hermione as a Morality Chain? Is this about maneuvering Harry into a position where he will eventually feel he must make war on Magical Britain, with Quirrellmort acting as the Man Behind the Man? Setting up Harry as a fall guy when Voldemort makes his second play for control of Magical Britain? Very confused here.

It's interesting that Harry needed to consult his dark side to arrive at this solution. It seems that the dark side is the piece of Voldemort's soul put into Harry when Harry was made a Horcrux. But is there a telepathic connection to Quirrellmort? When Harry consults his dark side, does it result in general Voldemort-like thoughts, or does the dark side coordinate with Quirrellmort? If the latter, maybe Quirrellmort wanted Harry to call in the blood debt for some reason.

Comment author: see 30 March 2012 07:10:26AM 10 points [-]

Let's assume that Hermione had actually been sentenced to Azkaban. How many advantages would Quirrelmort have gained?

  • Discredited Dumbledore somewhat with a student almost being killed
  • Directly eliminated a Light-side witch showing skill at military command and Battle Magic
  • Made Harry more vulnerable by knocking out an ally/friend/moral compass
  • Driven a wedge between Harry and House Malfoy, eliminating Draco as an ally/friend and ensuring no Malfoy-Potter alliance could form against a resurgent Voldemort
  • Broken the Dumbledore-Harry alliance forever if Dumbledore actually let Hermione go to Azkaban; otherwise force Dumbledore to go into open rebellion against the law.
  • Made Harry take the majority of the Wizengamot as enemies who needed to be punished, both encouraging him to become darker and the members to have reason to be hostile to Harry in turn.
  • Provoked Harry into a (possibly) suicidal effort to destroy Azkaban, which (possibly) could enable a mass breakout of Voldemort supporters from same.
  • Isolated Magical Britain from the rest of the wizarding world for sentencing a child to Azkaban.
  • Delegitimized the Wizengamot in the eyes of everyone in Magical Britain horrified at the sentence.

There may be more that aren't coming to mind, but, well, the potential payoffs for Quirrelmort were pretty high.

Comment author: Spurlock 30 March 2012 12:43:27PM 8 points [-]

Mostly good points, but one issue:

Directly eliminated a Light-side witch showing skill at military command and Battle Magic

If Quirrel were worried about this, he could have just not put all the effort into teaching her military command and battle magic (at a level so far beyond what is expected of his position). If light-side heroes like Hermione are something he's worried about, best to just not go around creating them.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 31 March 2012 05:12:59AM 1 point [-]

Isolated Magical Britain from the rest of the wizarding world for sentencing a child to Azkaban.

Do we have any evidence that the rest of the magical world would care?

Comment author: see 31 March 2012 05:29:22AM 3 points [-]

Yes. Weak evidence, but:

A click from the rod in Dumbledore's hand silenced the room. "You are out of order," the old wizard said sternly. "And your proposal is barbaric, beneath the dignity of this assembly. There are things we do not do. Lord Malfoy?"

Lucius Malfoy had listened to this with an impassive face. "Well," Lord Malfoy said after a few moments. A cold gleam lit his eyes. "I had not planned to ask it. But if that is the will of the Wizengamot - then let her pay as any in her place would pay. Let it be Azkaban."

A great cheer of rage went up -

"Are you all lost?" cried Albus Dumbledore. "She is too young! Her mind would not withstand it! Not in three centuries has such a thing been done in Britain!"

"What will the other countries think of us?" said the sharp voice of a woman that Harry recognized as Neville's grandmother.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 12:41:06PM *  3 points [-]

There’s also that “and in Asia, they tell other stories entirely” line (wording from memory, I think in the previous chapter). And at some point two characters say something to the effect that even Voldemort didn’t use the worst kinds of magic, or every country would have risen against him.

All suggests other countries at least look at what’s going on, but are reluctant to act unless things get Really Bad.

Comment author: Brickman 31 March 2012 01:31:04AM 2 points [-]

I don't think Harry actually would have taken Dumbledore as an enemy if Dumbledore failed to save Hermione, as he clearly was trying and even using up political capitol. Only having Dumbledore stand in the way of Harry saving her would do that, and when Dumbledore realized just how determined Harry was he had the sense to step aside.

Also I'm not really sure how well "Delegitimized the Wizengamot in the eyes of Magical Britain" would have worked--rest of the world yes, but the papers were certainly doing a hatchet job on her. The question is how representative of the populace is the press? Obviously the biggest papers is Lucius's and Fudge's soapbox here and in canon, but there's more than one paper in those newsstands and dissent isn't illegal until the death eaters take over in the last few books. I'm going to go with "not at all representative of public opinion", but propaganda exists because it works and they sounded prepared to present a unified front.

The rest, though, sound like things he could have planned on and represent MASSIVE gains for Voldemort. I especially like the "Isolated Magical Britain from the rest of the wizarding world" one--I didn't even think of it, but it fits. He didn't just get rid of Hermione, he goaded his enemies into committing an atrocity against her.

Comment author: Benquo 29 March 2012 06:02:10PM *  16 points [-]

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

Harry named two people in particular - Hermione and Draco - who made him less susceptible to Quirrelmort's influence. This plot nearly removed both of them from Harry.

Comment author: Cranefly 28 March 2012 10:26:39PM *  2 points [-]

I have a confusion!

Way back in Chapter 39, Harry says:

"I want to live one more day. Tomorrow I will still want to live one more day. Therefore I want to live forever, proof by induction on the positive integers."

This immediately caught my attention, given that Harry talks in earlier chapters about his worldview relying on Bayesian inference. Yet, for induction over an infinite sequence of unknown, informative experiences to hold, he has to have assigned an integral prior. Hijinks!

My first thought was that this was a clue dropped by the author to Harry's blind spot and potentially tragic flaw -- after all, "will you notice your confusion" is right there on the tagline! The subsequent emergence of Harry's Patronus spell as the True Patronus, based on this very conviction, undermined that theory somewhat, though if you elide the "True" part of it (ascribing the name to Harry's preteen self-admiration, maybe), the special magnitude of Harry's Patronus can be handwaved by the enormity of his happy thought and not necessarily the sound logic or underlying reality of it.

This has been on my mind for a while, but the most recent Author's Notes ("nothing is there to deliberately fool the readers") seem to confirm that this analysis is far too subtle: that if the narration calls Harry's Patronus the True Patronus, it is; if Harry's absolute faith in universal immortality has been given plot support, then it should be taken as axiomatic to the fiction.

Any ideas? Has Harry accidentally arrived at a true conclusion by non-inferential means?

Comment author: Alsadius 29 March 2012 08:26:10AM 4 points [-]

Honestly, that comes across as a flaw in Eliezer's worldview more so than Harry's. I've seen him make the same argument in his own name, and it's pretty transparently false(cf. anyone committing suicide, ever). Being forced to die is evil and ought to be opposed, but I have a feeling that literal immortality would appeal to many fewer people than might be expected.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 30 March 2012 10:48:42PM 2 points [-]

it's pretty transparently false(cf. anyone committing suicide, ever)

Please distinguish behavior from preference. See for example this post: Urges vs. Goals: The analogy to anticipation and belief.

Comment author: Alsadius 31 March 2012 05:53:38PM 0 points [-]

Are you actually trying to suggest that literally nobody who has ever committed suicide has genuinely wanted to not be alive? I mean sure, there's the "cry for help" gone wrong, and similar, but there's also the ones who actually want to die.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 01:05:51PM *  2 points [-]

Are you actually trying to suggest that literally nobody who has ever committed suicide has genuinely wanted to not be alive? [...] but there's also the ones who actually want to die.

True, suicide by mistake is probably rare, but I don’t think that’s what Vladimir meant.

If I’m tortured and I can’t find a way of making it stop, I might “want to die”. But that’s not because I don’t want to live, it’s because I don’t want to live in torture.

I don’t really have much knowledge of the subject, but my impression was that most suicides are of the “I can’t live like this anymore” kind, not “dying would be kinda cool”, albeit with the “like this”=“torture” being a YMMV issue in many cases.

I’m not saying there aren’t other possibilities, just that simply pointing to suicides without more careful analysis is not clear proof of Harry’s induction being wrong.

Comment author: Alsadius 02 April 2012 02:14:24AM 0 points [-]

Harry's induction is only correct if either wanting to live one more day implies wanting to live two more days as a mathematical law(which is not true) and that it's impossible to change your mind partway through a two-day period(which is also not true), or if he knows what he will desire at every possible future date. Since neither of those conditions holds, mathematical induction fails.

Comment author: Alsadius 01 April 2012 03:26:16AM 2 points [-]

"Death is bad" is a true conclusion that Harry has arrived at through legitimate means. "I will always want to live forever" is utter nonsense, but it's not necessary for the True Patronus.

Comment author: Lavode 28 March 2012 01:39:17PM *  2 points [-]

Re: the debt. I think Lucius may have been playing very high speed chess when he picked the amount. The point isnt to have Harry in debt to him, the point is to afford ex-deatheaters loyal to Lucius the oppertunity to trade in a blood debt to Harry for a monetary one to him. If this is so, the debts are likely to be paid off long before Harry can set any money making schemes in motion. - This would count as a downside to being in debt to Lucius - He cannot refuse cash in lieu as long as he is a debtor.

The ending note of that trial couldnt have been more precisely picked to convince people that he is a bodysnatch victim. Riddle me this? Gah. Incoming kidnapping and exorcism attempts. Not that Harry wouldnt benefit from a good exorsism.

Hermonie is going to read the note she gave him on dementors as soon as she is out of palfreys office, right? Seems nigh-inevitable. And I dont think she is nearly as commited to secrecy as Harry is, so word might well get out on how he pulled that stunt very shortly. On balance, this would tend to reduce the odds of him being murdered by a good citizen, so not all bad?

Comment author: James_Blair 30 March 2012 05:40:33PM *  3 points [-]

Is there anyone keeping a history of the story? I suspect there are some clues to be gleamed from the edits.

(Note: I originally specifically asked for what was chapter 76 but now 77, but I realized that the thing I was looking for was there all along. Regardless I am still interested in a history.)

Comment author: ajuc 28 March 2012 09:28:32PM 3 points [-]

So if Hermione is vassal of Harry, and Harry is temporary vassal of Lucius, then is Hermione vassal of Lucius?

Or do the muggle medieval rule "the vassal of my vassal is not my vassal" works in magical Brittain also?

Comment author: Blueberry 28 March 2012 11:00:10AM 10 points [-]

I love Chapter 81, but it would have been way better if Draco was the one accused of murder, so Harry could marry Draco.

Comment author: thomblake 28 March 2012 06:54:37PM 4 points [-]

I smell omake

Comment author: jimrandomh 29 March 2012 04:55:15PM *  11 points [-]

Prediction: Harry will try to explain the general concept of arbitrage to Dumbledore, and it will be blocked by the Interdict of Merlin.

Because otherwise, certain things about the wizarding economy make no sense at all.

Comment author: FAWS 29 March 2012 09:45:34PM 10 points [-]

The Interdict of Merlin blocking transmission of non-magical knowledge between living minds?

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2012 09:44:02PM 21 points [-]

Funny, but unfortunately people telling other people things is exactly what the Interdict of Merlin doesn't forbid.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2012 06:20:41PM 6 points [-]

The magics of Echo Gnomics from the Counterweight Continent?

Comment author: Alex_Altair 29 March 2012 05:12:48PM 3 points [-]

I don't quite understand. Arbitrage has nothing to do with magic.

Comment author: loserthree 29 March 2012 05:41:54PM 1 point [-]

It's a joke, I think. And if it is it's hilarious.

I laughed aloud.

Comment author: jimrandomh 29 March 2012 09:03:21PM 6 points [-]

It was't a joke, but rather a completely serious prediction of a joke. That's hardly the same thing at all.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 30 March 2012 06:00:25AM 1 point [-]

That one is funny too.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 29 March 2012 10:17:45PM 4 points [-]

Honest dilemma: Should Hermione decide to get the memories of casting the Blood-chilling Charm obliviated?

On one hand, one would think that messing even more with Hermione's mind should be a no-no. On the other hand, we're pretty sure it's a false memory, and it seems grossly unfair for her to have to remember attempting to commit a murder that she didn't truly attempt.

Second question: Regardless of what Hermione should do, will she so decide it?

Third question: If she doesn't so decide, will some helpful other person override said choice for her sake and obliviate her anyway?

Comment author: buybuydandavis 31 March 2012 09:50:41PM 2 points [-]

If she wanted to do that, I'd have the memory extracted and saved as evidence.

Comment author: Desrtopa 31 March 2012 01:35:34AM *  5 points [-]

If she does get the memory erased, she's going to be awfully confused when someone else inevitably brings it up again.

Edit: it occurs to me that you probably only meant the memory of performing the charm itself, not the memory of being put on trial for murder. But even if they did that, I suspect she'd imagine something just as bad to fill the space, knowing what was supposed to go in it.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 07:08:39PM 4 points [-]

One thing I noticed about Harry's language - increasing talk in computer terms. PC, SYSTEM ERROR, Internal Consistency Checker.

His Dark Side is tremendously efficient at information recall and causal inference. Interesting that Quirrell remarked on the value of memory recall to a wizard. I've wondered if the Dark Side was just an interface to a computing system, but it's clear that's not all that it is.

It seems like the Dark Side is two things, an efficient computation engine, and the dark emotions related to Death: the terror and hatred. Why are those linked? Why does a computation and recall engine have to be linked to emotions at all, and if it's going to be emotions, why not positive Mr. Glowy Person feelings?

Comment author: tadrinth 29 March 2012 08:42:56PM 0 points [-]

The dark side is presumably the result of the botched Horcrux creation ritual and is in some way an aspect of Voldermort's mind or soul. An AI might have different modules for emotions and computation, but a human mind is not so cleanly separated.

Comment author: TimS 28 March 2012 02:40:08AM 4 points [-]

What was dark about any of what Harry did?

Risky as all get out, but Hermione is easily worth an otherwise useless debt and substantially all of Harry's material wealth - especially if the actual villain gets caught, which helps lead to the rule of law in Magical Britain.

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 03:06:14AM *  1 point [-]

Well if she actually did it, then he'd have fired off most of his ammunition to save a girl who tried to kill an innocent kid. Even if it's not "Dark", it certainly doesn't help the light side.

Edit: I don't think she did, just following through on a comment I made on the last thread.

Comment author: kilobug 28 March 2012 01:49:08PM 0 points [-]

I don't think the debt is "otherwise useless" it could have been used as much more powerful political weapon.

But that isn't dark. Harry acted Gryffindor on that, not Slytherin.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 06:45:35AM 6 points [-]
  • Harry spoke out of turn.
  • Harry threatened his betters.
  • Harry brought up awkward subjects without regard to how uncomfortable they would make people.
  • Harry showed off how powerful he was when he really didn't need to.
  • Harry totally cheated his enemies out of a well earned victory.

That all sounds Gryffindor.

The most Slytherin thing was done by McGonagal when she invoked a technicality.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 07:49:17PM *  5 points [-]

There are so many ways for Harry to get money - I hope the debt doesn't become a major plot point. If there are downsides to the debt in terms of obligations to Lucius, Harry should just get the money and be done with it.

If the Supreme Mugwump doesn't want Harry to be indebted to Lucius, shouldn't he be able to call in a few favors and have it paid off tomorrow? There's the general blood debt to Harry. The general goodwill to Harry. The desire by others not to have the Boy Who Lived in debt to Malfoy.

There should be enough people in the Wizarding world who'd want to help Harry, or owe him, to pay off the debt immediately.

And then there's all the ways Harry could make money using magic in Muggleland. Get him an internet connection in Hogwarts and play the market using his time turner. The Grangers look like they have rather deep pockets and could provide Harry some decent seed capital, if not pay it off themselves. He did save their daughter from being tortured to death. If nothing else, he could just play the gold-silver arbitrage.

In fact, why not decide to be filthy rich and bankrupt the Old Money like Lucius in the magical world?

The debt really just shouldn't be a problem.

Comment author: David_Gerard 28 March 2012 08:46:44PM 11 points [-]

Get him an internet connection in Hogwarts and play the market using his time turner.

Early '90s. That'd be a JANET connection, which was an academic network. I expect AOL or Compuserve might be possible. We're talking about the mists of prehistory here, i.e. before 1995. Heck, it was even before the National Lottery was operating in the UK (that started 1994). The stock market would be playable, if he had a suitable adult to front for him.

No, how he makes serious money in the muggle world in 1991 Britain may require actual research.

Comment author: Logos01 29 March 2012 04:04:03AM 0 points [-]

No, how he makes serious money in the muggle world in 1991 Britain may require actual research.

"Hi. See this gold bar I have in this box? See this silver bar I have in this box? Buy gold if the exchange rate falls below X, and deliver it to Y address. Buy silver if the gold exchange rate goes ABOVE this rate, and then start selling the gold. These bars? Oh, yeah. They're seed money for the operation. We'll talk once you've depleted the funds for this operation."

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 02:10:53AM 5 points [-]

Poll to see whether the speculation made the chapter reading experience better or worse.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 March 2012 03:27:24AM 3 points [-]

I enjoyed every bit of the speculation but then finding out that some of the speculation was correct disappointed me. I would approve of a repeat if you made the puzzle sufficiently hard that nobody figures it out.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 07:02:00AM 0 points [-]

When more people are speculating, I am less likely to be the first one with a theory. That takes away from my enthusiasm.

80 was also really sad and caused me bad Fremdschämen. I was really glad the next chapter was so soon and tried not to think about the story much in the meantime. So maybe that was a bigger part of it.

Comment author: Eponymuse 29 March 2012 02:33:57AM 3 points [-]

I hope you write the ending you want, rather than playing games to see which ending we will earn.

Comment author: thomblake 29 March 2012 08:21:31PM 1 point [-]

Not to worry, I'd expect that both endings will be written, and the game will just determine which one gets labelled "True Ending" in big, friendly letters.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 March 2012 02:24:32AM 11 points [-]

Where is the vote that "all the speculation was a better than the chapter itself"?

That's no slight on the chapter, mind. The discussion was both entertaining and useful.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 02:11:26AM 49 points [-]

Vote up if you think all the speculation got in the way of the chapter itself.

Comment author: Locke 28 March 2012 02:28:20AM 24 points [-]

Five days was too long, IMO. If we only had 24 hours I would have enjoyed it much more.

Comment author: Rejoyce 28 March 2012 05:06:55AM 2 points [-]

Five days was perfect in my perspective. To be honest I thought the speculation had the potential to be very fun and mentally stimulating but the way we did it was completely wrong. What ended up happening was everyone proposed own theories left and right and in the end only a few people got some of the answer right, whereas if we collaborated better we could have ended up with an entire community who guessed most of the answer right. Makes for more overall happy.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 02:11:10AM 31 points [-]

Vote up if you think that the experience of reading the chapter was better for all the speculation.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 March 2012 09:56:38AM 2 points [-]

I would say it was, but only because you managed to include elements of the speculation while still thinking of plots and turns that I did not see speculated. With the amount of speculation I participated in, it felt like an excellent emotional roller coaster, which I will try to describe with a few anecdotal sentences.

"Yes, that idea has been referenced!" "Yes, that idea has been referenced as well! Multiple points, I knew it, I was expecting multiple points to come up, I should have posted that instead of remaining silent." "Oh, I should have seen that! In hindsight it feels like could have guessed that." "Wait, THAT wasn't the true answer?" "Wait, WHAT? I never would have guessed this!" "He's surprised, but it made perfect sense!" "Heehee, he even referenced that as well!"

But it seems like it was only that good because you managed to narrowly outwit the amount of effort I had to put into it and the amount of collective thought I had taken the time to read. I feel like if I had been speculating to an overly large extent that I wouldn't have been able to consider it as a story, but that if I hadn't been speculating at all I wouldn't have gotten the twists and turns it was taking.

So while I personally would vote for this option, I think I can see several reasons why it wouldn't necessarily work for other people in the same way it did for me, assuming I'm right about my mental pictures of other readers.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 March 2012 03:40:26AM 24 points [-]

It did make it better. But please don't make people solve a puzzle to get a happy ending. The downside of getting only a sad ending if people fail at that is too high. Not just in terms of how many people will get negative utility from that, but also it will substantially reduce how many people will be willing to recommend the story to others (once it is finished). The potential downside to that is simply too large.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 06:58:30AM 4 points [-]

Nah. We can do this.

Comment author: aladner 30 March 2012 04:49:46PM *  11 points [-]

"Enough, Mr. Potter," said Professor McGonagall. "We shall be late for afternoon Transfiguration as it is. And do come back here, you're still terrifying that poor Dementor." She turned to the Aurors. "Mr. Kleiner, if you would!"

Is it just me, or does that NOT sound like someone who just found out that dementors, thought to be manifestations of fear, are afraid of her student? I'm guessing it's one of two things:

  • She's so relieved that one of her student isn't going to be tortured to death that she isn't really processing everything else that's going on or

  • She thinks the whole thing is a trick Harry and Dumbledore came up with, and dementors aren't really afraid of Harry.

Either one could lead to a very entertaining aftermath.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 March 2012 08:18:10PM 12 points [-]

Or, she's simply ceased to be surprised at the extent of Harry's abilities outpacing her expectations of them.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 11:50:57AM *  2 points [-]

Or, she’s the head of Gryffindor, and she felt the need to at least appear to put up a brave front in support of her students.

Comment author: erratio 31 March 2012 08:08:45PM *  5 points [-]

Or, you know, relief + dry sense of humour = exactly that kind of reaction as a coping mechanism.

I am reminded of why I prefer British comedy to American - in American comedies everyone tends to be very obvious and melodramatic, while in British the tendency is more towards understated and deadpan. McGonagall's reaction fits perfectly into the latter category, trivialising the entire situation rather than mugging for the audience. (Not that some of the humour in the earlier chapters hasn't been overblown melodrama. Harry's parents leaving the room to have hysterics stands out as the most obvious example)

Comment author: summerstay 01 April 2012 01:11:27AM 2 points [-]

Fawlty Towers is a good example of the understated and deadpan nature of British comedy.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 31 March 2012 03:47:48PM 2 points [-]

Or, in addition to everyone else's reasons, she's already working hard to maintain a calm demeanor for the sake of Hermione and Harry.

Comment author: loserthree 31 March 2012 06:54:08AM 10 points [-]

McGonagall is House Head of Gryffindor.

She is just that unflappable.

Comment author: pedanterrific 31 March 2012 07:51:10AM 6 points [-]

You have no idea how tempted I am to go back through the story and come up with a montage of Minerva sputtering incoherently / tearing her hair out / sticking her fingers in her ears and going la la la / at a loss for words / blurting something inadvisable / etc.

Comment author: loserthree 31 March 2012 02:58:46PM *  11 points [-]
Comment author: FAWS 30 March 2012 09:10:42PM 11 points [-]

Unlike most of the room she knows Harry well enough that even him scaring a Dementor, no matter how surprising, wouldn't make her personally afraid of Harry; she might be worried about what trouble he could cause but she knows perfectly well that he wouldn't do anything to her. Besides it was less of a surprise for her since Dumbledore already told her Harry had developed a new charm.

Comment author: aladner 30 March 2012 09:59:57PM 2 points [-]

I agree that her being afraid of Harry isn't something I would expect, but her comments make me think she isn't taking the situation seriously.

Comment author: Vaniver 28 March 2012 05:45:20AM 18 points [-]

Harry Potter is not so clever, part 2. (Perhaps I should call this "advice for Harry," to be less negative.)

"I accept your offer," said Harry's lips, without any hesitation, without any decision having been made; just as if the internal debate had been pretense and illusion, the true controller of the voice having been no part of it. "I should have the whole amount ready by the end of the month." It would take his arbitrage trick, but certainly the Headmaster would let him do that instead of going into debt to Malfoy.

Lucius Malfoy stood motionless, frowning down at Harry. "Who is she to you, then? What is she to you, that you would pay so much to keep her from harm?"

"My friend," the boy said quietly. "As is your son- I would have fought as hard and paid as much to keep him from Azkaban."

"Save it," Harry suggested.

"Let us all go home, indeed." His blue eyes were locked on Harry, as hard as sapphires.

Harry looked further up.

"This is how far I go for my friends, Lord Malfoy. And now that Hermione is safe, I would like your permission to visit Draco. "

Overall: what the heck is Harry's model of Malfoy? Why has he not put any effort into developing it? Why, for the love of wisdom, scare him in public?

It may not be too late to turn him from an enemy to an ally, but Harry is making this too hard on himself. His flair for the dramatic is not helping things, either.

Comment author: ajuc 28 March 2012 06:13:03PM 0 points [-]

Arbitrage trick is overengineering. Just trade on forex and use time turner to go back and choose the deal.

With 40 000 galleons even going back a few minutes could suffice.

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 06:43:07AM 19 points [-]

Harry may be an overachiever, but he's still 11 - he's allowed to be bad at manipulating people. He's still at the "All I have to do is out-clever everyone and I can take over the world" stage. He has the tools to pull it off much of the time, but he still thinks of his opponents as pieces, not as players, which is a pretty serious hole in his worldview when it comes to things like manipulating Lucius Malfoy.

Comment author: Vaniver 28 March 2012 02:41:17PM 1 point [-]

Harry may be an overachiever, but he's still 11 - he's allowed to be bad at manipulating people.

"I'm a young boy," Harry said, "and I judge myself."

He's still at the "All I have to do is out-clever everyone and I can take over the world" stage.

Hence why I have been titling this "not so clever."

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 06:41:19PM 1 point [-]

Oh, of course. He just reminds me a lot of the obnoxious little shit that I was at that age(albeit much more well-read, which is a feat), and has some of the same gaping flaws in his mental model of the world.

Comment author: Xachariah 28 March 2012 06:04:10PM *  35 points [-]

Idea: Making the money back will be much more difficult than most people anticipate, including Harry.

Reason: Many wizards are highly motivated towards finance and would exhaust every opportunity to generate infinite gold. The rich wizards of the Wizengamot considered 100,000 galleons to be a lot of money.

First, imagine all the ways a wizard could make effectively infinite amounts of muggle money. Arbitrage. Use a time turner and win at the stock market. Use a time turner and win the super-lotto. Imperius (or love potion, false memory charm, groundhog day attack, etc) any billionaire and take part of their fortune. Mind trick some bankers with fake documents (as Dumbledore does in book 6). Go rob some banks with invisibility and teleportation (and/or a time turner). Use magic to secure a job with a 50 million dollar golden parachute with very generous terms. Make huge amounts of drug money as a courier via teleportation/portkey. Sell 5 galleon trinkets to muggle collectors for millions of dollars each. Etc., etc., etc..

Some of them are more risky, some of them are less risky, but I bet that any member of these forums could get at least $50 million in a week if we were wizards.

And yet, when they mention a price of 100,000 galleons people are shocked. The reaction does not look like it's 1/15th of a week's worth of effort he's got to worry about. Dumbledore views it as a major problem that Harry is 60,000 galleons in debt. We know from chapter 70 that it's a known thing that witches and wizards will trick a muggle with a love potion and rape them. Yet nobody thinks to slip Bill Gates a love potion, convince him to part with $2 billion, and blow Lucius out of the water with 100 million galleons. And these are among the most financially motivated people in all of wizardry, not the common population, who consider 2 million pounds as more than weekend spending money. I notice I am confused.

I'll brainstorm some possible explanations:

  • Gringotts won't mint your gold for a nominal fee: Griphook could have been lying, mistaken, or omitted something. Maybe you bring in a ton of gold and they just laugh at it for not having a special magical signature. Unlikely but possible.

  • Gold isn't available to purchase with muggle money: Wizards could own the gold exchanges and gold mines. They do nominal trading for electronics and jewelry, but the vast share of gold goes to the wizarding world. Possible, but it would drastically change the face of the real world (eg World Reserves would be a lie, and Ron Paul is a wizard).

  • The Department of Magical Law Enforcement is way more effective than I imagine: They can find and intervene in not only all cases of magic misuse (eg imperius or bank robberies), but check other means like love potions. Seems unlikely, considering the current crime investigation and how the last war went. Result - Arbitrage and stock/lottery manipulation work.

  • The wizarding world is full of complete inverse-omega class idiots: Always a good theory. But it doesn't sound right for the entirety of the wizarding world (including a ton of muggle-born) to act so completely stupid.

  • The financial tycoons on Wizengamot actually do this: Maybe most of the Wizengamot fortunes exist due to questionable sources. That would explain the majority of evil people doing the voting. Still, that doesn't explain the reaction to the 100,000 galleons.

  • The people who would do this are not on the Wizengamot: Maybe this does happen. Perhaps all the muggle-born realize how easy it is to live a life of luxury in the muggle world and do exactly that, and only venture into the magical world when the want to go shopping. They have the best conveniences of both worlds and none of the dangers of either. This... actually sounds kinda plausible. Plus, there isn't a great job market for muggle-born.

Something doesn't add up. The Wizengamot is full of bright, ambitious people, most of whom have dedicated their lives to finance (makes 4 unlikely). If they're arguing over lucrative ink importation rights it means they've already figured out arbitrage. They wouldn't worry about importing ink, if they weren't leveraging different prices between the market where they're purchasing ink and the market where they're selling ink. Something as simple as triangle arbitrage should be figured out immediately. If wizards already discovered arbitrage, but they don't try and arbitrage in the muggle markets directly, it would be evidence that 1 or 2 is in play. 3 and 5 are already unlikely, so I guess 1&2 or 6 make sense.

I'd be interested to see if Harry actually manages to make infinite money, and if so what it means about the world.

Comment author: moridinamael 30 March 2012 04:47:57PM 2 points [-]

Further, perhaps ambiguous evidence that Harry's machinitions won't be as successful or simple as he imagines. From Chapter 20, in reference to Quirrell's insistence that Dumbledore pay for Harry's Occlumency lessons with a neutral party:

Dumbledore was frowning. "Such services are extremely expensive, as you well know, and I cannot help but wonder why you deem them necessary."

"If it's money that's the problem," Harry spoke up, "I have some ideas for making large amounts of money quickly -"

"Thank you Quirinus, your wisdom is now quite evident and I am sorry for disputing it. Your concern for Harry Potter does you credit, as well."

Dumbledore immediately identifies Harry's money-making scheme as a terrible idea (even without knowing what exactly it is) and is actually willing to compromise his prior stance merely by being reminded how ignorant and childish Harry can be.

Dumbledore is probably the number one character, except for perhaps Snape, who has demonstrated the most knowledge of Muggle technology, culture, and institutions. I think it's a good bet that Dumbledore, hearing Harry's statement, immediately realized that Harry had hatched some hare-brained scheme with all kinds of horrible consequences that were obvious to Dumbledore, with his knowledge of both worlds, but opaque to Harry.

Comment author: TimS 30 March 2012 05:28:18PM 13 points [-]

For what it's worth, I interpreted this exchange as Dumbledore recognizing why it would be bad for someone to read Harry's mind. In other words, a competent plotter who didn't have society's interest at heart could implement Harry's ideas successfully to cause significant harm. I didn't take the exchange to show that D believed the ideas wouldn't work basically as intended with a minimum of unanticipated consequences.

In short, Lucius Malfoy shouldn't be able to read Harry's mind to gain a destabilizing amount of wealth.

Comment author: see 28 March 2012 09:46:13PM *  11 points [-]

Let's quote the current author's notes:

One thing I did notice was that many readers (a) neglected simple solutions in favor of complex ones, (b) neglected obvious solutions in favor of nonobvious ones, and (c) suggested that the correct hints had been put there for deliberately deceptive purposes.

General announcement: I do not lie to my readers. Almost everything in HPMOR is generated by the underlying facts of the story. Sometimes it is generated by humor – I can’t realistically claim that comic timing that precise would occur in a purely natural magical universe. But nothing is there to deliberately fool the readers.

Methods of Rationality is a rationalist story. Your job is to outwit the universe, not the author. If it taught the lesson that the simple solution is always wrong because it is “too obvious”, it would be teaching rather the wrong moral. There are some cases where people have scored additional points by successful literary analysis, e.g. Checkov’s Gun principles. But the author is not your enemy, and the facts aren’t lies.

Now, yes, it is possible that Eliezer Yudkowsky's Author Note on this very chapter is a lie, and he will suddenly reveal a whole series of barriers to paying the debt that will shut off everything from arbitrage to time turners to Dumbledore using the Philosopher's Stone in the manner allowed in canon, without having given us any previous hints as to what they are. But I think Eliezer Yudkowsky is not lying, and that at least one of the many simple solutions proposed (or another simple solution) will work.

Comment author: ajuc 28 March 2012 10:06:10PM 2 points [-]

So everybody except Harry are holding idiot balls?

Comment author: see 28 March 2012 10:35:05PM 5 points [-]

There are at least three methods of paying off the debt relatively easily, mentioned earlier in this discussion, that are fundamentally unavailable as ways of making money for the vast majority of wizards on the Wizengamot. One, using the Philosopher's Stone, is explicitly mentioned in the very comment you replied to.

So, no, I don't think the people in the story are holding Idiot Balls.

Comment author: David_Gerard 28 March 2012 08:50:28PM 12 points [-]

The people who would do this are not on the Wizengamot: Maybe this does happen. Perhaps all the muggle-born realize how easy it is to live a life of luxury in the muggle world and do exactly that, and only venture into the magical world when the want to go shopping. They have the best conveniences of both worlds and none of the dangers of either. This... actually sounds kinda plausible. Plus, there isn't a great job market for muggle-born.

Like going off to live in a poor country if you have a first-world income to live on. I believe it's already been remarked that this is about how magical Britain views muggle Britain.

Comment author: Desrtopa 28 March 2012 06:23:09PM *  33 points [-]

I think that taking advantage of muggles in lots of ways is against the law, so imperiusing or memory charming a billionaire would be forbidden. I wouldn't be at all surprised if people have thought of and maybe tried using time turners to cheat the muggle lottery, so I'd give fair odds that's illegal too. When it comes to arbitrage though, remember that while wizards in general may not be tremendously stupid, they tend to be incredibly clueless about the muggle world; remember that Arthur Weasley can pass as a premier expert on muggle artifacts. The fact that the values of gold and silver in the muggle world are totally divorced from their value in the wizarding world is likely to be very little known, and the concept of arbitrage may be completely foreign to them as well (look how primitive their whole financial system appears to be.)

The fact that Mr. Bester, Harry's occlumency instructor, said he wished he could remember "That trick with the gold and silver" implies that a) the idea is not obvious to most wizards, and b) he thinks he would at least stand a chance of getting away with it.

Comment author: IneptatNormal 06 April 2012 04:47:06AM 4 points [-]

I think it's also important to remember that all these fancy smancy new ways of making money haven't really been around that long.

Wizards live to be more than a hundred years old, and in general don't have a bunch of children. There's been only a couple generations in which many of these money making methods have been around - for example, the stock market has only existed in a convenient form since, say, 1910? And this story takes place in 1992. Eighty years really isn't that long in wizard years. And while a small percentage ten-year-olds in the 1990s might happen to have some idea of how the stock market can be manipulated for personal gains, probably only a vastly smaller number may have known in, say, 1940 - before the information age.

The noble houses - the wizards that probably make up the majority of the Wizenagamot - are kind of implied to have been rich and powerful for a long time. If any of these people are young enough to have gone to Hogwarts after the thirties, and been humble enough to have taken Muggle Studies, and really paid attention when it came to the Great Depression, and happened to do background reading on the subject in order to exploit it, then sure, maybe it's already done.

But given the information we have, I doubt this is widely known and regularly done enough to be a problem for Harry.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 30 March 2012 01:20:54AM *  3 points [-]

Why not just chose a muggle institution that has a lot of gold and is corrupt enough you don't mind stealing from(shouldn't be hard) and walk in under the cloak of invisibility, alohomora the locks and fill up the bag of holding with gold? I agree that sounds too easy to not already have been done though.

Comment author: MinibearRex 31 March 2012 06:57:06AM 4 points [-]

I think this one would fall under the jurisdiction of the DMLE. In Canon, there were a few scenes with Arthur Weasley in which he discussed criminal cases involving wizards using magical powers against muggles.

Comment author: SkyDK 29 March 2012 03:43:58PM 7 points [-]

I disagree. Harry can do partial transfiguration. If he cannot figure out ways to earn insane amounts of cash just through that then he is too retarded to be called rational (remember that he can actually extract resources in ways the wizarding world cannot - as I write in another place: mining ++).

Plus you underestimate the degree of separation between the two worlds plus the extreme lack of respect the wizarding world holds for muggles.

And about the 100.000 galleons: well if they're bright, ambitious and socially aware plus they're using questionable sources they SHOULD act surprised. Not acting surprised would give away their game to the idiots remaining.

I will be severely disappointed if EY will waste time on the money issue. It doesn't deserve much more than a paragraph. Perhaps two just to let us know that Harry won't abuse it, because he doesn't want to call too much attention to himself.

Comment author: loserthree 28 March 2012 05:55:47PM *  9 points [-]

Edit: While some points may remain useful for the sake of reference, this theory is disproved in Chapter 82, and Aberforth's death no longer lacks narrative purpose.

Who killed Narcissa?


  • Dumbledore

  • Bones

  • Lucius

  • Voldemort

  • Someone else

HJPEV tells us that this doesn't fit the headmaster's style. His style is curiously consistent.

There is one offhand remark, vengeance, and a practical cold-heartedness favoring Bones. "Why not Bones?" is only a little better than no argument at all.

Lucius is presented as a devoted family man. It would be inconsistent characterization for him to do this. That works for real life, but HP&tMoR is fiction, which must make sense.

Voldemort has reason not to do this, as it made a fool out of one of his tools and weakened his side by making them less willing to strike indiscriminately.

I have a 'someone else' theory: Aberforth killed Narcissa. Aberforth is dead, and meaningfully so due to Conservation of Detail. We know little else about him from HP&tMoR. Only that he didn't testify against his brother in the death of his sister, and his brother got quite stern when he died. Basically, this theory allows me to put a piece in a puzzle because it fits, not because the image on the piece makes me think it goes with the pieces next to the hole. Also, I get to write the following paragraph.

In a world where innocents are dying, where evil is winning and good people live in fear for their loved ones, one man had the courage to do what must be done. Aberforth Dumbledore is Narcissa's Immolator.

Aberfoth kills his enemy's wife, informs his brother of what he's done, and then dies either at his own hand or, less style-consistently, his brother's. He knows that his brother will take this atrocity/sacrifice and make the best of it, and in so doing he saved countless 'light side' family members.

He did it all to make up for killing his sister and allowing his brother to kind of take the blame. Maybe.

Comment author: orthonormal 31 March 2012 06:45:56PM 1 point [-]

It has to be Dumbledore, by Conservation of Narrative Detail: There's no way that the conditions of Harry's promise to Draco would have been spelled out in such detail if learning the truth would be all it took to expiate it.

It's going to turn out that Dumbledore did intentionally burn an innocent Narcissa Malfoy to death, but for a justifiable reason (though it's going to be interesting to see what that could be), and thus Harry is going to have the impossible task of convincing Draco to let him out of the promise.

Comment author: loserthree 31 March 2012 09:11:19PM 2 points [-]

Other than my desire for Snape to kill Dumbledore, I don't see any reason why HJPEV should talk Draco into letting him out of the promise.

It is more important to the themes of the work for HJPEV to follow through on a promise so dramatically given, than to shirk it. Likewise, it would be important for Dumbledore to face the consequences as administered by HJPEV.

You have an interesting point about the promise. It is awfully detailed for something that would just be set aside. Still, it could have been so detailed just to allow a semi-light character like HJPEV to bond with a semi-dark character like Draco. Or maybe to allow the author to demonstrate the practice of thinking things through, through HJPEV. Or, as the Pedant One points out, something else entirely.

Comment author: pedanterrific 31 March 2012 07:31:52PM 2 points [-]

It has to be Dumbledore, by Conservation of Narrative Detail: There's no way that the conditions of Harry's promise to Draco would have been spelled out in such detail if learning the truth would be all it took to expiate it.

Always be aware that there may be a possibility you haven't thought of.

Comment author: clgroft 30 March 2012 03:31:35AM *  0 points [-]

Interesting idea.

My pet theory for some time has been that Narcissa was a Horcrux, and that Dumbledore was destroying said Horcrux by the only means he could—Fiendfyre. Are there any obvious gaps?

(EDIT: pedantarrific below points one out.)

Comment author: loserthree 30 March 2012 03:49:01PM 2 points [-]

Probably as much "not the headmaster's style" to kill someone who happened to be a Horcrux so directly instead of weaving a complex plot to something, something, something, and then something else.

Comment author: pedanterrific 30 March 2012 03:48:28AM 3 points [-]

Yes: why would Dumbledore allow McGonagall to think that Voldemort only had one Horcrux?

"Perhaps not, then," Dumbledore said after Minerva tried to explain. "I confess I had been hoping for something that would help in finding Voldemort's horcrux, wherever he may have hidden it. But..." The old wizard shrugged.

Comment author: hairyfigment 31 March 2012 07:54:00AM 2 points [-]

Voldemort has reason not to do this, as it made a fool out of one of his tools and weakened his side by making them less willing to strike indiscriminately.

I disagree. The last part is an inference, and I think we have more evidence that the killing prevented any peace between Lucius and Dumbledore in Voldemort's absence.

(I don't know how much stress to put on this, but we learn that Draco thinks the death had this effect in the same chapter where he tells us to understand strange plots by looking at the outcomes. Seems at least 90% certain the author meant us to suspect Voldemort when he wrote that.)

Now, Donny just pointed out that Voldemort could have faked his death entirely by, say, transfiguring some chickens and burning them. We also know that his treatment of Bellatrix ensured her devotion to him would not count as a happy memory and would thus continue in Azkaban. I think he intended this effect, meaning he planned for the possibility of seeming to lose. It sounds like he planned for that from the start.

Setting fire to a chicken back in Chapter 17 should increase P(Dumbledore did it, and is a sadist). But supposedly DD's weakness lies in doing evil "For the Greater Good," not in having fond memories of the time he burned a woman to death. Seems more likely to me that he suspects Voldemort faked a burned body (per Donny's guess), but can't say so because he has no convincing explanation for why V hasn't visibly acted since then. So he just taught Harry to doubt such appearances.

Comment author: Aharon 31 March 2012 10:09:28AM -2 points [-]

Should you take into account the possibility that the chicken was just something transfigured before increasing the probability of Dumbledore being a Sadist?

Comment author: DanPeverley 28 March 2012 03:34:54AM 9 points [-]

I am really interested in how this is all going to work back at Hogwarts. Harry has already been pushing the envelope in the past, but this was a public power display. Draco's out for a while, Hermione will be considered a murderess by significant portions of the school (and apparently she's now magically sworn to obey Harry?), Quirrel is doing... something... and all the schemers and plotters are scheming and plotting on overdrive. I think the money will really be the least of Harry's concerns before this tangle is unwoven. I sort of enjoy learning little bits about Eliezer in the author's notes. "Why yes, I do lead the same sort of life as fanfiction characters, thank you for noticing," made me laugh quietly to myself. This is doubtless because I am a gossip-monger and a hopless platonic voyeur of other peoples lives.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 06:27:16AM 4 points [-]

Unless EY adds it in, Harry forgot to snap his fingers.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 06:40:48AM 0 points [-]

Sweet! That would have been much better than Boo!

Comment author: kilobug 29 March 2012 04:14:31PM 0 points [-]

To me the "boo" issue is somehow a way for Harry to remind everyone he's still a child, to both unsettle them a bit more and make them more prone to forgive his impertinence.

Or maybe it's not that calculated. After all, Harry is still a child, as smart and rationalist as he is, and it just pleased him to say "boo" and he didn't think much about that part, not sure.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 29 March 2012 08:22:23PM 3 points [-]

He doesn't need a miracle to scare dementors.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 07:16:23PM 5 points [-]

Hermione will be considered a murderess

That's attempted murderess and Minion#1 in Harry's Dark Army.

Maybe Hermione needs to join Chaos Legion now. I don't see how she can be credible as a leader in opposition to Harry anymore, even in a game.

Comment author: Rejoyce 31 March 2012 05:09:56PM *  10 points [-]

A matter with the Comed-Tea that was bugging me for a while:

Chapter 14:

SO THAT'S HOW THE COMED-TEA WORKS! Of course! The spell doesn't force funny events to happen, it just makes you feel an impulse to drink right before funny things are going to happen anyway!

Hypotheses: Comed-Tea on person = impulse to drink, Comed-Tea not on person = no impulse to drink.

According to Chapter 12:

Harry couldn't help but feel the urge to drink another Comed-Tea. (And when he didn't...) Harry inhaled his own saliva and went into a coughing fit just as all eyes turned toward him.

So no matter what, even if you don't end up drinking it, you will get the Impulse before something funny happens.

Chapter 46:

I have been saving them for special occasions; there is a minor enchantment on them to ensure they are drunk at the right time. This is the last of my supply, but I do not think there will ever come a finer occasion.

So Harry has used up all of his Comed-Tea. (edit: it appears that Harry actually has tons left unless he's not mentioning some he drank/gave away, look at bottom of post)



It is apparent that you'll still get the impulse to drink whether or not you do end up drinking. So why didn't he save a can he's never ever going to drink?

Even if Harry will end up choking on his saliva, wouldn't the early notification of something ridiculous happening be helpful to him in any way? Like... it'd be an early warning to be prepared for whatever another person could say/do in conversation. Or if he's looking for interesting information, say from the library, he can just walk by all the shelves until he gets the Impulse-- that'd be an indicator that he's near the shelf that has the interesting book. There might be more uses.

Chapter 14:

Thankfully, Harry’s panicking brain remembered at this point that he did have something he’d been planning to discuss with Professor McGonagall. Something important and well worth her time. It was at this point that Harry realized he was faced with a priceless and possibly irreplaceable opportunity to offer Professor McGonagall a Comed-Tea and he couldn’t believe he was seriously thinking that and it would be fine the soda would vanish after a few seconds and he told that part of himself to shut up.

The charm even works for other people. If, for example, Harry wishes to test whether or not someone knows that Voldemort is alive, he could see if he has the Impulse to give that person a drink, all while thinking about saying that "The Dark Lord is still alive". If he gets the Impulse, they don't know. If he doesn't, then they already know/has been suspecting that he's been alive.

Chapter 8:

The boy reached into his pouch and said, "can of soda", retrieving a bright green cylinder. He held it out to her and said, "Can I offer you something to drink?"

Hermione politely accepted the soda. In fact she was feeling sort of thirsty by now.

In fact, just asking, "Are you feeling thirsty?" seems to be enough to trigger the charm's apparent spit-taking powers. Harry could think about talking about Voldemort, and ask if the other person's thirsty. If yes, they would take whatever he's going to say as a surprise, if no, then they won't. Geebus this thing is powerful.

edit: actually, I'm going to check the text and see Harry actually used up his supply. Be right back.

Chapter 7: “Two dozen cans please.” (24) He tossed a can to Draco and then started feeding his pouch... (23) (Harry's drinking one too) (22) Harry snarled, threw the can violently into a nearby garbage can, and talked back over to the vendor. “One copy of The Quibbler, please.” He paid over four more Knuts, retrieved another can of Comed-Tea from his pouch... (21)

Chapter 8: The boy reached into his pouch and said, “can of soda”, retrieving a bright green cylinder. He held it out to her and said, “Can I offer you something to drink?” (20)

Chapter 12: Harry reached into his pouch and whispered, “Comed-Tea”. (19)

Chapter 46: “Three sodas." (16)

Nevermind, Harry lied, he still has tons unless he's been drinking them and not mentioning it. However the Comed-Tea hasn't been mentioned since, so it might actually be all gone.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 11:31:11AM *  6 points [-]

Chapter 17:

"I'm feeling thirsty," Harry said, "and that is not at all a good sign."

Dumbledore entirely failed to ask any questions about this cryptic statement.

He doesn’t seem to choke after this, but there follow several occasions where might have, had he been drinking. Anyway, the sentence means he kind of does use the Comed-Tea to kind-of-sort-of-predict the future, albeit not systematically.

Regarding the counting, his line in chapter 14 might be meant to suggest he had been doing more experiments “not on camera”. There are only three occasions where he’s seen using it until then; he shouldn’t have been that frustrated about the explanation after that few tries.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 April 2012 02:03:09AM 2 points [-]

Earlier thoughts on Comed-Tea here

Comment author: brilee 01 April 2012 01:56:26AM 1 point [-]

I interpreted Comed-tea as the simplest example of backwards causality - an event A causing event B, where A occurs /after/ B in time. Eliezer introduced Comed-Tea to make the point that the HPMoR universe does not operate by what we imagine to be standard causality rules.

I suspect that, the same way that messing with Time somehow results in a message saying "NO", it would be similarly impossible to commit to drinking Comed Tea.

Comment author: Eponymuse 31 March 2012 10:13:55PM 5 points [-]

If, for example, Harry wishes to test whether or not someone knows that Voldemort is alive, he could see if he has the Impulse to give that person a drink, all while thinking about saying that "The Dark Lord is still alive". If he gets the Impulse, they don't know. If he doesn't, then they already know/has been suspecting that he's been alive.

Unless he actually followed through with saying that Voldemort is still alive, this wouldn't be enough.

Comment author: thelittledoctor 28 March 2012 02:34:12AM 11 points [-]

I think my favorite part of this update comes not from the chapter, but from the Author's Notes:

"If you write sufficiently good fanfiction, you can realize your romantic dreams!"

(Although "Make him go away" is either tied for the position or a close second.)

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 03:00:30AM 11 points [-]

I have a suspicion that the average fanfic-created relationship is not caused by anything best described as "good".

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2012 01:08:35PM 13 points [-]

Prophecy update!

Like most readers, I took Trelawney's magical clock for a listening device. What if it transmits instead of receives?

We've seen Dumbledore manipulating events into storylike patterns. He was the instigator of the three-way tie, and he precipitated Snape's fall and eventual redemption by the power of love.

In his Fortress of Regrets, Dumbledore gave the surface appearance of being terribly reluctant to allow his decisions to cause the deaths of others. But in the last chapter he was ready to let a small child be tortured to death - with much trembling reluctance, of course - in order to preserve his plans.

Could he have caused Trelawney to deliver the prophecy, triggering the other half of Snape's destiny, while feeding the Potters to Voldemort to create his orphan hero?

Dumbledore meant for Voldemort to have been killed by Lily's sacrifice. He believes it happened. Instead, Voldemort, taking the obvious trap (thanks Vladimir!) as a challenge to his wit (thanks Gwern!), pretended to lose (thanks buybuydandavis!), while fulfilling the letter of the prophecy in a manner maximally advantageous to himself.

He disarmed the trap by goading Lily into attacking him. He left a burnt husk of a body - not his, Avada Kedavra leaves no marks - and departed unharmed. Voldemort's not a ghost possessing Quirrell. He stole Quirrell's body the way he stole Harry's, although the defect in the copying process is different. He doesn't need Bellatrix's flesh to rise again. He rescued her, at least in part, while acting in the role of someone who'd been fooled by Dumbledore's ruse.

Events have followed the course of prophecy because someone created one as a deception and someone else played along as a counter-deception.

It looks viable to me. What do you think?

Comment author: buybuydandavis 31 March 2012 10:09:17PM *  1 point [-]

Ha! So Dumbledore inserts prophecy as a trap, and Voldemort plays along to set his own trap. Nice!

One reason I like implanted prophecy theory is that it would play into rationalist biases against prophecy. I expect magic to be explained as commands to some AI in Atlantis. But prophecy? Seeing into the future? Messages from Atlantis?

Maybe it's just my bias against backward in time causality, which he has really committed to anyway, with Comed-Tea. Me, I'd rather that prophecies are explainable by other means.

But wouldn't this imply that Dumbledore doesn't really see Harry as the destined savior against Voldemort? Maybe he is just saving him to use as a trap again, unaware that Voldemort had already seen through the trap and was playing it for his own purposes? Yeah, saving him as a trap again makes sense, since the dark ritual should still be binding.

As long as we're adding in people playing the prophecy, how about Lily and James? They could have been playing the honeypot knowingly, in league with Dumbledore. I'm reminded of Dumbledore bringing up Lily Potter as a heroine, and noticed the incongruity at the time, though I didn't notice my confusion, as it were. Now that I do, saying she was a heroine seems like she was promoted beyond her station, unless she played a knowing part in her sacrifice to attempt to bring down Voldemort. That would certainly qualify her for the ranks.

One thing - a Voldemort plan to upload into Harry could be said to keep the terms of the dark ritual by allowing Harry to live on a permanent basis. And Harry as Dark Lord also satisfies those terms.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 12:31:05PM 2 points [-]

I'm reminded of Dumbledore bringing up Lily Potter as a heroine, and noticed the incongruity at the time, though I didn't notice my confusion, as it were. Now that I do, saying she was a heroine seems like she was promoted beyond her station, unless she played a knowing part in her sacrifice to attempt to bring down Voldemort.

I’m not sure I understand, what incongruity do you see there? IIRC, at least in MoR, the prophecy says something like “born to parents that have thrice defied him”, so James and Lily did take part in the war other than just trying to defend Harry when Voldemort came after him. (They had to have defied him three times so that he would know who the child is, assuming he went after him because of the prophecy.) That sounds kind of heroic even without them doing it just as a trap, given what used to happen to Voldie’s opposition.

Comment author: pedanterrific 01 April 2012 08:12:56PM 3 points [-]

McGonagall's description:

[...] Everyone wished for something more to be done, and no one dared take the lead to propose it. Whoever stood out the most became the next example.

Until the names of James and Lily Potter rose to the top of that list.

And those two might have died with their wands in their hands and not regretted their choices, for they were heroes; but for that they had an infant child, their son, Harry Potter.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 01 April 2012 07:56:20PM 2 points [-]

Point in your favor - when discussing heroines during his time as Headmaster at Hogwarts with Hermione, he suggested she might add both Alice Longbottom and Lily Potter to the list. I'd count that as a point in favor of "thrice defying" as membership to the club.

But still, does defying the Dark Lord thrice really put you in the top 3 witches of 40 years, and the top 15 or so witches and wizards? With all the people who died, with Dumbledore's room full of dead friends, there aren't others who had done more and risked more?

Lily and James were in hiding. Are they really the best examples of heroes in the last 40 years - two people in hiding from Voldemort?


Many have stood their ground and faced the darkness when it comes for them. Fewer come for the darkness and force it to face them.

Hiding in Godric's Hollow sounds more like the former than the latter to me.

Unfortunately, even in canon, "thrice defied" occurred offstage, so we don't know the details. Just to keep it clear, though, the prophecy occurred before the births of Neville and Harry, so well before the deaths of Alice and Lily, so whatever final defiances they had at their deaths are not part of the 3.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 08:59:06PM *  2 points [-]

Unfortunately, even in canon, "thrice defied" occurred offstage, so we don't know the details.

Yeah, so I can’t quite contradict you. (Also, I haven’t read all books, and for those I read I wasn’t very careful with the details.)

That said, my understanding was that first Lily and James fought Voldemort before they had Harry, and perhaps for a while afterwards. And presumably fought well, since they survived to do it thrice, and courageously, if they didn’t stop after the first time (which would qualify both as heroes). In contrast, the journalist mentioned at some point was killed, together with his entire family, after simply writing an article. He was possibly brave (or maybe just an optimist), but not quite heroic.

(It’s not perfectly clear, but the wording of the prophecy seems to suggest that they defied V. thrice before H.’s birth, and possibly again afterwards.)

My understanding was that they went into hiding after they learned that Voldie was going after Harry; presumably this was because of the prophecy, but it doesn’t mean they knew it was a trap (if it was). Note that in MoR Dumbledore says he taught Voldie & Co. not to go after families of the Order of the Phoenix just for blackmail—which obviously had to be before his death—which suggests that they went into hiding only because (and after) they knew Voldie had a better reason to go after Harry, the prophecy. But nothing (AFAIK) indicates that they’d be aware that it was a trap (if it was one).

Also, going into hiding is not necessarily selfish or cowardly (i.e., wanting just to protect themselves and their son). If they knew and believed the prophecy they could just be trying to protect the future defeater of Voldie. Everyone was surprised at baby Harry (apparently) destroying Voldemort, including those that knew the prophecy, so their theory must have been that he’d defeat him after he grew up.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 01 April 2012 09:24:01PM 1 point [-]

Also, going into hiding is not necessarily selfish or cowardly (i.e., wanting just to protect themselves and their son).

But not what I'd call heroic, either.

On the other hand, it would be definitely be heroic to set yourself up as bait for Voldemort on what was fully intended as a suicide mission.

If we go with the theory that Dumbledore was setting a trap for Voldemort, based on a dark ritual, I would think it's rather important to make sure that Lily fulfills the dark ritual. IN fact, I think this theory requires that Lily and James are in on Dumbledore's plot, otherwise why not just apparate away? Have port keys set up? At least have Lily and James attack him together?

The prior odds that Lily will just happen to fulfill the terms of a dark ritual seem miniscule, even if we assume that Voldemort had been prepped to give Lily a chance to live.

If it was a plot by Dumbledore to have Lily perform a dark ritual, Dumbledore would tell her to increase the odds that she actually fulfills the ritual. Otherwise he's spending the lives of two members of the Order for a miniscule chance at killing Voldemort.

IN fact, if Dumbledore is going to do this kind of plot, he'd want to set it up in advance with the people involved, not draft them after he got the ball rolling, so that he could arrange a proper prophecy.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 11:10:47PM *  1 point [-]

If it was a plot by Dumbledore to have Lily perform a dark ritual.

I’m not quite sure how you got to the dark ritual part. At least, I see no hint of this, nor any indication that Lily would go with it. Even if you’re going with the “love sacrifice as old magic” in canon and calling it “dark” just because it has a sacrifice, I’m not quite sure it would work if you did it with the explicit purpose of stopping Voldie (intent might taint the sacrifice). Dumbledore might create a situation where Lily would sacrifice herself for Harry, because Dumbledore intends to get rid of Voldie, but this (I think) requires that Lily not know about it, so that her intent is pure.

Canon is careless enough with details to be hard to use for explanations. For example:

otherwise why not just apparate away?

It does sound weird, but then again if it were that easy even Voldie would have much more trouble killing people than it appears. http://harrypotter.wikia.com/ suggests that for side-along apparition (i.e., for taking someone with you who can’t do it themselves) the “passanger” needs to be a wizard, and might need to have a wand. So maybe they just couldn’t take Harry. Also, Voldie might just have a policy of casting Anti-disapparition jinxes when he attacks, it’s not clear how hard they are to make. Something like this might also explain why someone who’s hunted by Voldemort, even in hiding, doesn’t have with them a dozen intercontinental portkeys, just in case. (In MoR, at least. In canon they probably just didn’t think of it.)

[...] for a miniscule chance at killing Voldemort.

If he’s actually thinking in story terms rather than faking it, he’d likely think it almost certain rather than minuscule.

Comment author: pedanterrific 01 April 2012 11:59:36PM 1 point [-]

Why did you link there rather than here?

Comment author: Eponymuse 30 March 2012 09:03:02PM 1 point [-]

Seems unlikely that the original prophecy was caused by Dumbledore, at least by the method of the magical clock. As in canon, Trelawney seems to have made the prophecy during a job interview, presumably before she was regularly sleeping with the clock. I expect that if Dumbledore wanted her to make a false prophecy at a specific time, something like an Imperius folled by Obliviation would be more expedient. Furthermore, we have seen Trelawney spontaneously prophecy in the dining hall; this prophecy at least appeared unplanned by Dumbledore.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 March 2012 12:05:42AM 15 points [-]

Oh hey. And we have a confession.

"I'm sorry to say, Harry, that I am responsible for virtually everything bad that has ever happened to you."

I actually noticed the dissonance when I read this, that Dumbledore had apparently overlooked the biggest and most obvious tragedy of Harry's life. But I didn't realize what it meant. Whoops.

Comment author: FAWS 31 March 2012 11:30:33PM *  5 points [-]

And more significantly:

"Severus," Albus Dumbledore said, and his voice almost cracked, "do you realize what you are saying? If Harry Potter and Voldemort fight their war with Muggle weapons there will be nothing left of the world but fire!"

"What?" said Minerva. She had heard of guns, of course, but they weren't that dangerous to an experienced witch -

Severus spoke as though she weren't in the room. "Then perhaps, Headmaster, he is sending a deliberate warning to Harry Potter of exactly that; saying that any attack with Muggle weapons will be met with retaliation in kind. Command Mr. Potter to cease his use of Muggle technology in his battles; that will show him the message is received... and not give him any more ideas." Severus frowned. "Though, come to think of it, Mr. Malfoy - and of course Miss Granger - well, on second thought a blanket prohibition on technology seems wiser -"

The old wizard pressed both his hands to his forehead, and from his lips came an unsteady voice, "I begin to hope that it is Harry behind this escape... oh, Merlin defend us all, what have I done, what have I done, what will become of the world?"

There aren't really any other good candidates for what he might have done to cause this particular problem (even if he felt responsibility on account of e g. not having been able to beat Voldemort permanently himself it seems unlikely to phrase it like that).

Comment author: alex_zag_al 29 March 2012 07:27:56PM *  8 points [-]

He disarmed the trap by goading Lily into attacking him.

Unnecessary detail, may or may not be the case. If he was aware of the trap, it would not matter whether this disarmed it; he just needed to not cast Avada Kedavra on Harry. Harry's memory of the event does not end with Voldemort casting the Killing Curse on him.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2012 10:11:13PM 2 points [-]

You're right. I would go ahead and flag everything in that paragraph as questionable. The method of Quirrell's possession, for example: perhaps Voldemort erased his mind and is possessing him through an artifact. It wouldn't change the overall picture.

Comment author: jimrandomh 27 March 2012 11:10:45PM *  43 points [-]

This is probably not the solution Harry's going to use in Chapter 81 (I'm writing this before it was posted), but a friend and I were discussing it and came up with a possible solution. I decided it would be much more fun as a piece of fanfanfiction rather than an abstract description, so here it is. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing.

Chapter 81b: Alternate Solution

Beyond all panic and despair his mind began to search through every fact in its possession, recall everything it knew about Lucius Malfoy, about the Wizengamot, about the laws of magical Britain; his eyes looked at the rows of chairs, at every person and every thing within range of his vision, searching for any opportunity it could grasp -

And the start of an idea formed - not a plan, but a tiny fragment of one. He spelled out N-O-T-E on his fingers, and, as discretely as he could, drew a piece of paper out from his bag that he did not remember putting there. It read:

"Mess with time if you want!"

And then he heard a loud bang, and another while he was stuffing the note back in his bag, and he looked up to see that a circular piece had pushed out from the wall, (that wall that could've withstood a nuclear explosion), far in the back where no one had been looking. Heads turned in unison to look as four glowing, silver human shapes emerged from the three-foot diameter hole, and began walking down the aisle towards Hermione. No one in the room but Harry and Dumbledore suspected they were Patronuses.

Prime Minister Fudge should have been angry, that magical creatures would dare barge in; but for some reason he couldn't quite place, he was calm. Auror Gawain was too busy casting shield spells to acknowledge how scared he was. Harry had a pretty good idea where this was going, but decided that "confused" was the best expression to wear. Professor McGonagall nearly had a stroke. Lucius Malfoy's angry expression had vanished, leaving his face perfectly blank. His entire row had stood up, and drawn their wands. To his left, five wizards Harry didn't recognize were pointing at the human Patronuses; to his right, seven wizards pointed their wands at Dumbledore.

Lucius himself had his wand, and his gaze, fixed firmly on Harry. For a brief and accidental moment, the boy who thought he was a rock looked back.

Wands too numerous to count followed those glowing figures, as they walked down the aisle towards Hermione. Harry noticed that Fawkes had perched silently on her shoulder, and she was taking slow, deep breaths.

Behind each wand, a wizard thought that someone else ought to do something. A rare upside to the bystander effect, Harry would later note. For the time being, his mind was busy choreographing the movements of four invisible figures, who were definitely not bumping into each other. When the Patronuses had reached the bottom-most platform, where Hermione sat, they stopped, and looked up at Dumbledore's platform.

"Who dares interrupt these proceedings?" Dumbledore's voice boomed out. In fact, he was glad that they had been interrupted, and knew exactly who he was talking to; but as Chief Warlock, he had to express indignance, or else someone else would have gone and done it for him.

This better be good, Harry thought, because I won't be able to think of anything else once I've been anchored.

"We are the Guardians of Merlin", said the first Patronus, in Harry's best impression of a Scottish accent.

"In that case, I yield the floor to the Guardians of Merlin", said Dumbledore. "May I ask why you are here?"

"We were a safeguard created by Merlin, to protect the purity of the Wizengamot. In his wisdom, Merlin set down a list of especially vile deeds; should this assembly should decide to perform one, we awaken. And so we are here."

Lucius turned away from Harry, and towards the front. "Ridiculous. This is no different than the many other times we have punished murderers, and no ghosts or apparitions appeared then." He put a slight emphasis on "ghosts or apparitions". He had no idea what they really were, but there was ample precedent saying ghosts and apparitions weren't allowed to do things.

Harry wondered what lie his future self would tell. Then the second patronus spoke, in exactly the same voice as the first. "It is different, because sending this girl to Azkaban would satisfy the first requirement for a ritual!"

The murmurs stopped. Several members of the audience suddenly noticed the dementor in the room, on a level where they had not noticed it before. Professor McGonagall actually did have a stroke, but it was a small one, of a kind that could be fully repaired by magic later. For a moment, Dumbledore lost himself in his role and forgot that he was speaking to four copies of Harry Potter.

Five seconds passed before Dumbledore broke the silence. "Are you saying that this trial is part of a dark ritual?"

"Yes", said all four patronuses simultaneously, convincing several members of the assembly to abandon the idea that they were all controlled by one person. The figures were new, important, and mysterious. Hermione was no longer salient.

"Do you know who could be behind this?" Dumbledore asked.

Heads turned towards Lucius, who looked around and noted exactly whose heads they were, handling the sudden deluge of important information by recording only the ways in which it differed from what he would have expected. Lucius knew then, that he had to lose; not only was he facing four new and completely unknown pieces, pieces which had been powerful enough to carve a hole in the indestructible wall of the Wizengamot, his own role was looking altogether too suspicious. He looked left, met the eyes of his servant, August Stoessel, and sent a thought.

Two seats left, August stood up and shouted, "It must be Lord Voldemort!" The audience's attention shifted slightly. Lucius decided that four days later, Stoessel - Imperiused and falsely rumored to be a perfect occlumens - would confess to the whole thing, claiming (though no one would believe the last part) to have been Imperiused by Lord Voldemort himself.

Dumbledore looked very disturbed. Onlookers did not find this surprising, but they would have been surprised by the reason, if they knew. Dumbledore had just put the pieces together - Harry had performed an advanced plot, and time turned in spite of his time turner's locked shell, just as he must have done on the day Bellatrix Black broke out of Azkaban.

"Talk of dark rituals is unfit for discussion here", Dumbledore said, a little shakily. "If there are no objections, I believe we can suspend the previous vote and reconvene tomorrow morning, after the Ministry has had a chance to speak with these Guardians. We will vote whether to release or punish Hermione then, with fuller information."

Lucius did not object. He would have a whole day to plan his next move. Harry did not object. He would have a whole day to plan his next move.

The Guardians of Merlins left first, through the strange hole from which they had come. Then the Aurors left, taking Hermione, their patronuses, and the dementor, slightly smaller but still intact. Then the audience left, Harry among them, and he excused himself to go to the bathroom, where he anchored his time turner inside its shell like Quirrell had shown him, and spun the shell twice. Finally Dumbledore left; but he was only two steps out the door when he disillusioned himself, spun his time turner twice, and reentered.

Two hours earlier, an invisible Harry Potter was wandering around the Wizengamot building, first looking for his earlier self so he could place the "Mess with time if you want" note, then looking for the other side of the wall he had seen cut open. He found it in a secluded storeroom, with ten minutes to spare, set down a piece of paper and marked it with a single tally. Soon he was joined by another Harry, who had used his time turner only once, and another, and another. Rather than take off their invisibility cloaks, they announced their arrival by marking the paper with a second, third, and fourth tally.

Dumbledore watched invisibly from inside the Wizengamot chamber as four invisible Harry Potters used partial transfiguration to cut a hole in the wall. He watched invisibly as four Human Patronuses entered the room. And then an invisible Harry Potter bumped into the invisible Dumbledore, changing events from how they were meant to go; and the entire twisted tangle of time loops collapsed into a paradox and never was. Reality would take a different path, one in which Harry chose a simpler solution, one that did not require three things to all happen.

Comment author: moritz 28 March 2012 10:00:59AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for writing that, I enjoyed it.

There's a tiny problem with it: Patronuses speak with the voice of the one who cast them, and the members of the Wizengamot have already heard Harry talking, so they'd notice there's something wrong with the Merlin connection.

Comment author: jimrandomh 28 March 2012 03:08:14PM 0 points [-]

This may be pushing the limits of Harry's control over his Patronus, but humans can speak in funny voices even without magic, and doing so to prevent characters from recognizing who they are is a standard trope. This deserves mention, though, so I'll edit to include one.

Comment author: 75th 30 March 2012 04:55:53PM *  17 points [-]

I wish to register my alarm at this:

This was actually intended as a dry run for a later, serious “Solve this or the story ends sadly” puzzle

Given that he was "amazed" at our performance this time, presumably an equivalent performance would pass the future test — but even if that's true it doesn't comfort me much.

I humbly beg our author to consider simply withholding updates, rather than issuing an ultimatum that may result in us never getting the "true" ending. "I won't post any more chapters until you solve this," rather than "I'm going to torch the last few years of your life if you're not smart enough."

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 31 March 2012 03:52:00AM 4 points [-]

I agree, this is a bad idea. I didn't figure out the answer when it was just for fun; my performance will probably only get worse under stress (and there's not much farther to fall from "uh... well, maybe it has to do with destroying Dementors, I give up").

I know this shows no confidence in my own rationality, or that of the other readers, but can we please just have a normal story?

Comment author: James_Blair 30 March 2012 05:31:28PM *  2 points [-]

There's nothing to worry about. We were presented with the same challenge in Three Worlds Collide. If we don't succeed, we will just get a false ending instead of a true ending.

Comment author: Xachariah 30 March 2012 10:42:18PM 11 points [-]

A always thought the false ending was better.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for stories where everyone lives happily ever after. :-)

Comment author: Alex_Altair 02 April 2012 02:50:53PM 2 points [-]

I agree. The "false" ending definitely ranks higher in my CEV than the "true" ending.

Comment author: 75th 30 March 2012 07:47:44PM *  3 points [-]

…did you mean "along with a true ending"? Because "instead of" is precisely what I fear, but your links seem to indicate that we might get both endings? I don't understand, and Three Worlds Collide predates my awareness of Less Wrong so I don't have firsthand knowledge of exactly how that went down.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 March 2012 10:27:04PM *  4 points [-]

I think he meant that in case of failure, the happy ending will simply become the "false ending" instead of the "true ending". Since we get both either way, there really isn't a difference.

Comment author: 75th 31 March 2012 02:31:11AM 2 points [-]

Gotcha. As long as we do get to read the full, complete, unbesmirched and unabridged "good" ending, I can live with that.

Comment author: James_Blair 31 March 2012 01:19:17AM *  2 points [-]

Yes. The exact phrasing of the challenge was:

With a sudden motion, the Confessor's arm swept out...

  1. ... and anesthetized the Lord Pilot.

  2. ... [This option will become the True Ending only if someone suggests it in the comments before the previous ending is posted tomorrow. Otherwise, the first ending is the True one.]

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 08:12:32PM 18 points [-]


Remember when H&C told Hermione that Harry would sacrifice her if she became inconvenient to his plans for global domination? Guess Hermione can tell him to kiss her ass on that one.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 28 March 2012 10:14:08PM 19 points [-]

I doubt she remembers any of that conversation.

Comment author: Chrysophylax 17 February 2013 01:25:40PM -1 points [-]

I'm not sure if this is the place for it, but I haven't found somewhere better and I don't see how it could be plot-critical. Nevertheless, warning for very minor spoilers about chapter 86.

I gave my mother a description of the vrooping device, and she had no idea. I said that it was one of a collection of odd devices with bizarre uses, and the conversation progressed as follows:

"Well in that case, it was an egg coddler." "An egg coddler?" "Coddling is like poaching but slower and gentler." "What about the pulsing light and the vrooping?" "The vrooping is to put you in mind of a hen and the light is for enterainment while you wait." "I'll suggest it." "Good egg!"

Given that we are meant to be able to recognise the vrooper, that it matches no known magical device and that Heads of Hogwarts tend to create strange devices to mystify their successors, it seems reasonable to me to presume that the vrooper is a really weird form of a muggle device. I further suggest that it's use is for cooking something or for keeping it warm (it might, for example, be a phoenix-egg incubator, given that Fawkes doesn't seem to build nests).

I'm not sure what kind of stance we need to take with regards to the characteristics of the device - if all of its properties are meaningful, then we should have identified it by now, and, moreover, we have no reason to believe that the designer would want all its properties to make sense. On the other hand, its real designer is EY, who expressed surprise that we haven't guessed by the time his last progress update came out.

Comment author: Osuniev 23 December 2012 02:28:05AM *  4 points [-]

re-reading chapter 76 made me realise the prophecy could not be about Voldemort at all :

Let's look at this prophecy in detail :

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches,"

Vanquish, as Snape said, is a strange word to describe a baby accidentally toasting Voldemort, especially since we have evidence that this might not be what really happened. "Dark Lord" is used by EY quite loosely, and not as something specifically relating to Voldemort. Indeed, Dumbledore seems to worry that he could be this Dark Lord. Now, if we step outside of what we think we know about the prophecy...

Who is Harry trying to "vanquish" ? Who is it which Harry has "the power to Vanquish" ?

Dementors ? Death in general ? Dementors as an incarnation of Death ?

Could Death be considered as the Dark Lord ? I admit this is stretching the use of the word Dark Lord, but it does sounds interesting and more appropriate to Vanquish. Now, bear with me a moment and let's look at the rest of the prophecy : Born to those who have thrice defied him,

Now, while Lily and James have defied death 3 times, there's a million person in the same case on the planet. But WHO has defied Death three times in the Universe ?

The Peverell Brother. Harry's ancestors through the Potter Family.

Born as the seventh month dies, And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal,

The Tale of the Three Brothers specifically says : "..."And then he [the third brother Ignotus, owner of the Cloak] greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, as equals, they departed this life." Harry having the Cloak works, as such. Alternatively, Harry "killing" Dementors make Death and he litteraly equals, in that they can destroy each other.

But he will have power the Dark Lord knows not,

The only unique powers Harry has are Dementor 2.0 and partial transfiguration Dementor 2.0 seems rather good.

And either must destroy all but a remnant of the other, For those two different spirits cannot exist in the same world.

I find really interesting that nowhere it is said that the dark lord "lives". "Destroy all but a remnant" could mean Dementing Harry, or Destroying all dementors except one, or giving Philosopher's Stones to everyone but without the death rate falling to zero (because accidental Death would still happen buit would not be an inevitability.

Note that this theory (still improbable, if I had to bet on it I wouldn't assign more than a 15 % chance for Death to be the "Dark Lord" of the prophecy) is still compatible with Dumbledore trying to trick Voldemort in a Dark ritual, or both of them interpreting the prophecy as in canon.

Comment author: Osuniev 01 April 2015 11:16:08AM 1 point [-]

Well, so much for that !

Comment author: MugaSofer 20 July 2012 02:59:48PM 2 points [-]

IIRC, canon!Harry met a vampire in book VI. Does anyone know if they exist in the MORverse?

My instinct would be that rational!Harry would have already encountered them while researching immortality - especially since he frequently compares the wizarding world with D&D, where the primary form of magical immortality is to become an undead wizard, or "lich", although I doubt he would actually accept immortality via vampirism - they may be bound by magical law (or at least the Statute of Secrecy) but I expect it still screw with your utility function, magic and social/legal status.

I don't remeber him explicitly dismissing this path, which could be conservation of detail, indicative that vampires don't exist in MOR, or me misremembering.

Comment author: prasannak 04 April 2012 05:13:32AM 1 point [-]

Can we get a sub-reddit? I'm tired of finding out which is the right thread for the present, and all the posts are scrambled over multiple threads, etc.

A sub-reddit might also get new people to hpmor, as opposed to being on lesswrong.com

I don't have a reddit account, but I'd create one if hpmor was there.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 04 April 2012 07:14:58AM 3 points [-]
Comment author: glumph 04 April 2012 04:29:29AM 1 point [-]

Did anyone archive the April Fool's chapter from ff.net?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 04 April 2012 10:04:02AM 3 points [-]

The April Fool's chapter was never in fanfiction.net, it was in a site made to look like like fanfiction.net, where it still is.

Comment author: PeerInfinity 04 April 2012 03:12:21AM 9 points [-]

"You can't put a price on a human life."

"I agree, but unfortunately reality has already put a price on human life, and that price is much less than 5 million dollars. By refusing to accept this, you are only refusing to make an informed decision about which lives to purchase."

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 04 April 2012 02:17:58AM 2 points [-]

Time for a new thread, surely.

Comment author: cultureulterior 04 April 2012 08:49:43AM 1 point [-]
Comment author: tadrinth 04 April 2012 02:08:28AM 22 points [-]

I'm not sure if anyone has commented on this, but I just noticed it while rereading the Self-Actualization chapters:

Hermione went to tremendous lengths to be her own person rather than just something of Harry's, including becoming a general and fighting bullies. Now she has sworn herself into Harry's service and house forever. That is really sad.

Comment author: TuviaDulin 04 April 2012 05:51:45AM 2 points [-]

That's only a legal formality, though. Harry hates the wizard society and wouldn't use its laws against her, and he'd discourage others from acknowledging it.

Still, Hermione (unlike Harry) cares what others think of her, so being surrounded by people who act as if she belongs to Harry is going to hurt her.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 05 April 2012 01:56:33AM *  3 points [-]

That's only a legal formality, though. Harry hates the wizard society and wouldn't use its laws against her, and he'd discourage others from acknowledging it.

He's just (ab)used the laws of wizarding society to get Hermione out. I can certainly imagine him using his position over her if it is useful for solving the next crisis he has to deal with.

Also, Harry has a dark side, it might also do things.

Comment author: GeorgieChaos 22 September 2012 10:54:34AM 1 point [-]

The laws of Wizarding society are, broadly speaking, insane. There is a vast gulf between twisting or breaking a rule that makes no sense and violating the trust of a friend like Hermione.

Comment author: CountlessArgonauts 03 April 2012 09:53:07PM 8 points [-]

"Yes," said Dumbledore, as he descended to the bottom of the dark stone stairs. "Let us all go home, indeed." His blue eyes were locked on Harry, as hard as sapphires.

It suddenly occurs to me that Dumbledore has seen two interactions between Harry and a Dementor. In the first one, it almost destroys him. In the second, he casts a Patronus that destroys it. Neither would seem to provide the kind of evidence that you would need to confidently assume that other Dementors would run away from you if you said "Boo" to them.

So, is this enough evidence for Dumbledore to decide that he's wrong about who broke Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban?

Comment author: gRR 03 April 2012 02:10:17AM 22 points [-]

Hypothesis: the Source of Magic is an AI with the goal to work in the way (magical) people really believe it should work. Or maybe, to make the world work in the way (magical) people really believe it should work. The strength of belief appears to be important, so a strong belief can override weak ones. On the other hand, when something is already "generally known" to work in a certain way, this is a very strong belief.

1. Broomsticks work by Aristotelian physics [because it was what people believed when the broomsticks were invented, and now people just know (=believe really strongly) that's how broomsticks should behave]
2. Spell names and laws [inventors create spells by finding sounds they believe should work. When spells become known, they stabilize in that form]
3. Potions Law
4. Ritual magic [people really believe in sacrifices and not getting something for nothing]
5. Ghosts (and afterlife?) [effects of religious beliefs]
6. Harry's partial transfiguration [very strong belief, finds a loophole to not be in conflict with existing strong beliefs of other people]

Magic doesn't make sense to Harry because it now reflects lots of ad hoc rules and beliefs accumulated in centuries. Wizards and witches believe them from childhood. [No wonder they are half-insane.]

Interestingly, this hypothesis implies that Dumbledore's narrative causality may actually work - people do believe in stories.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 04 April 2012 07:06:16AM 7 points [-]

Wow. That's just an absolutely fabulous theory. In one fell swoop, you explain why EY appeared to leave AI out of his largest story yet, plausibly account for a vast array of in-story phenomena, and rehabilitate a character (Dumbledore) who seems suspiciously irrational for someone who's supposed to have oodles of meaningful in-story-real-world accomplishments. The theory has falsifiable, concrete predictions -- for example, we should not expect the AI to care if Harry asks it really nicely to give everyone magic powers; nor should we expect magic to be able to do anything that a super-intelligent AI couldn't do (simulating cat-brains is AOK; uncomputably complicated time loops are not OK). The theory also seems to fit with Chapter 82's hint that people subsumed by pheonix fire are re-instantiated "instances" of a more general Fire. In other words, the AI can maybe call the "Harry" subroutine somewhere else if it wants.

I'm in awe.

One possible victory condition if the AI in fact is coded to enforce the beliefs of people with a particular genetic marker is for Harry to find a way to put that marker into most people / his friends using a retrovirus. Does anyone else find it in the least suspicious that Harry's father is an expert biochemist?

So, have there been any fundamentally uncomputable events in the story so far? :-)

Comment author: 75th 02 April 2012 09:15:55PM 5 points [-]

Almost all the possible consequences of Quirrell's plot with Hermione might have helped Quirrellmort somehow:

  • Hermione goes to Azkaban and Harry goes permanently Dark.
  • Hermione goes to Azkaban and Harry goes permanently Light, killing himself to destroy it.
  • Harry saves Hermione, further antagonizing Draco's father and thereby Draco himself.
  • The wedge is driven further between Harry and Dumbledore.
  • Harry looks very Dark in front of all of wizarding Britain, losing him Light allies.
  • Harry looks very powerful in front of all of wizarding Britain, gaining him influence.
  • Harry vows to wreak havoc on the entire wizarding nation.

The question is which set of events Quirrell most wanted to happen, and whether he will consider the events of Chapter 81 a success or a failure. Harry successfully saved Hermione, which might indicate failure if we take the plot at face value. But Quirrell would surely have foreseen Harry's going to any lengths to save Hermione, and Quirrell knows that Harry read that Rita Skeeter article. Perhaps he

The Harry-horcrux has a speaking part in Chapter 81, saying "DIE" when he looks at Dumbledore. If Quirrell's main goal was not to immediately rid Harry of all his strongest allies, but simply to further coax out Harry's Dark Side and further drive the wedge between Harry and Dumbledore, then he can count it as a success.

Maybe Quirrell didn't actually have one particular outcome in mind; maybe he just wanted to inch the pieces forward so he could plan his next move.

I do hope that tomorrow's chapter shows us what happened with Quirrell, how he got out of his interrogation without drawing attention, and what his mental state is about all this. If everything up to now has gone as planned, surely the rest of the arc will show Quirrell's attempt to make Harry believe that Dumbledore was behind it all. If everything has not gone as planned, if Quirrell did not expect to see Harry spend 250% of his fortune to save Hermione, then Quirrellmort will be pissed, and I shudder to think what his drastic next move might be.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 03 April 2012 05:48:07AM 2 points [-]

Every possible result is a negative for Harry when his closest ally is accused of murdering his next closest ally. Even if he "wins" it is going to hurt, and it did. I can't square that with the motives of someone who wants to make Harry dark and strong. It is a big risk, especially when you are stuck in an interrogation cell for the grand finale.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 01 April 2012 07:12:02PM *  5 points [-]

Thoughts on the whole "guess the solution" situation from last chapter.

When I first reached the end of the chapter and the "You have 5 days to find the solution" bit, for some frantic moments I was worried that Eliezer would let get Hermione go to Azkaban if we weren't sufficiently clever to find the solution. It seemed rather unlikely, because we didn't seem to be so very near the end of the whole of HPMOR (and surely Hermione's effective killing would have major repercussions).. but I had already known about the similar situation in Three Worlds Collide, so yeah, I couldn't be quite sure. I read the related author's notes trying to check for a confirmation or the opposite, but there was nothing clearly stated, only the hint that a solution should have been clearly foreshadowed.

At around this point, after a few brief seconds of considering begging Eliezer not to let Hermione get eaten by Dementors, no matter whether we find the solution or not -- I just decided to do the simpler and slightly less embarrassing thing and actually figure out the solution instead. (Reading the author's notes had convinced that it was meant to be a fair solution after all)

I must have come up with the idea in 5 minutes after that, as I was rereading the chapter. I don't remember the exact thought-process, but I do remember that the solution "snapped easily into place" as Eliezer mentioned. When I thought it, I was certain this was the solution. It was pretty much the only earlier significant discussion of the handling of debts in Wizarding society. From an authorial-perspective it explained why Fred&George's article had to talk about saving Arthur Weasley from the Imperius curse, instead of saving his life. That a trading-of-debts was possible was indicated in the very previous chapter (though the particular debts mentioned wouldn't have been valid).

So, yeah, once I had thought it up, I was pretty confident it was the real solution, enough to bet money on (and win some money) it. It had snapped into place.

During the later discussions I did think also about whether Malfoy will try to bankrupt the Potters in addition to the debt, because I did consider the fact that the monetary compensation of Arthur Weasley was also mentioned in that Rita Skeeter article... which thought was also partly behind several of my various specifications I listed at the time I did the bet-- it being a lesser debt, it being only part of the solution, etc, but I didn't mention it for two reasons (a) At this point Eliezer had already clarified that Harry's solution was really written, and that therefore my adding further details wouldn't actually help save Hermione (b) I had been sufficiently convinced by Malfoy "not for any price will I trade away vengeance", etc, that I thought it would most likely not be a monetary debt that Malfoy would seek in compensation.

(b) was wrong, because I didn't properly consider that Malfoy might make an offer that he believed it certain to be refused, and that would be obvious to all that he thought it certain to be refused. I should have considered this possibility, because after all Lucius had already done the same in the current chapter.

What I thought Malfoy might seek in additional compensation, or that Harry Potter might offer in additional compensation, if the two debts didn't cancel themselves out... would be an Unbreakable Vow towards the purpose of hunting down whoever was behind the plot to hurt Draco or the killing of Narcissa; much parallleling the earlier promise Harry made to Draco himself. I felt this was the sort of thing that might let both Lucius Malfoy and the Wizengamot save face; and yet would produce interesting consequences further down the line.

Comment author: [deleted] 01 April 2012 06:00:20PM *  11 points [-]

Just an odd thought about something Draco said in Chapter 48:

Before them was a small empty place of stone set against the night sky. Not a roof like the one he'd dropped Harry from, but a tiny and proper courtyard, far above the ground. With proper railings, elaborate traceries of stone that flushed seamlessly into the stone floor... How so much artistry had been infused into the creation of Hogwarts was something that still awed Draco every time he thought about it. There must have been some way to do it all at once, no one could have detailed so much piece by piece, the castle changed and every new piece was like that. It was so far beyond the wizardry of these fading days that no one would have believed it if they hadn't seen the proof in Hogwarts itself.

...is - is Hogwarts sentient? If it's animate, capable of creative expression, and self-constructing, it's not out of the question that Hogwarts might be in some sense intelligent or alive. It'd also explain some things about the Hogwarts security system, to say nothing about the Room of Requirement, in canon.

Comment author: cultureulterior 31 March 2012 09:12:52PM *  12 points [-]

Progress of Eliezer vs JKR, Fvapr Ryvrmre unf fgngrq gung gur fgbel jba'g or ybatre guna gur frira obbxf, cre jbeq, naq gung vg'f zber guna unysjnl qbar

Comment author: Paulovsk 01 April 2012 01:37:47PM 2 points [-]

I don't get it pretty clear. Could you explain in few words?

Comment author: cultureulterior 01 April 2012 02:05:07PM 6 points [-]

The individual colored patches are the five first JKR books, and the overlapping patch is The Methods of Rationality, plotted by chapter and book, vs the number of total words written. MoR is now longer than all the first four books put together. The reason I made the graph was I was wondering if those two individual EY statements (rot13'd in my statement above) were would add up to make more than one bit of information, but they did not.

If Eliezer finishes Methods of Rationality at 150% of current length, we'd end up midway into the sixth book.

Comment author: Desrtopa 31 March 2012 01:28:39AM 3 points [-]

Question entirely unrelated to the current events of the story:

What would happen if a person bought a pack of Comed-Tea and committed to drinking one every morning with breakfast?

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 11:43:01AM 1 point [-]

You might simply forget to do it, or the idea might simply not occur to you unless there are enough surprising events going to follow every morning. Or, if the idea occurs to you, it might be because there are a couple surprising events followed by a scary event that causes you to abandon the idea. (À la “do not mess with time”, but less obvious.) The space of possible stable time loops is huge.

Also, like somebody mentioned, it might not be perfect. It probably doesn’t work within Azkhaban, for example. The producer might simply make it “good enough” and expect that most people won’t bother to ask for their money back.

Comment author: Pavitra 31 March 2012 04:21:23PM 5 points [-]

Harry sometimes successfully resists the urge to drink Comed-Tea, and then something spit-take-inducing happens anyway. It's just a prediction with a clever user interface, not an artifact of eldritch power (except to the extent that predicting the future constitutes eldritch power, which is a nontrivial extent).

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 31 March 2012 03:45:11AM 1 point [-]

Well, that depends on whether people's decisions to drink Comed-Tea are controlled by the Tea's knowledge (??) of when they're going to see something ridiculous and whether it can affect anything else. It also depends on how powerful the mind-control is.

If it just sends a "drink Comed-Tea" impulse whenever something funny's going to happen, the precommitment would probably beat it. If it controls your mind, either you'd only be able to decide that if you were fated for twelve consecutive days of surprises with breakfast, or you'd just forget about it when you weren't fated for a surprise. If it can control the rest of the universe to any extent at all, it'd probably try to make you decide to begin at a time when you were likely to face a lot of surprises, and then conspire to delay breakfasts or make you forget to drink it until something surprising was going to happen. And we can't rule out that, as a desperate measure, it could alter your sense of humor a little, or prompt you to, e.g., turn on the television at the right moment.

Comment author: Desrtopa 31 March 2012 01:46:18AM 1 point [-]

I thought about it a bit more, and I'm going to hazard a guess.

It's charmed to taste bad if drunk at the wrong times. If the customer insists on drinking it anyway, it won't work and they can get their money back.

Comment author: TimS 31 March 2012 01:55:20AM 3 points [-]

It's already charmed to mess with your desires by making you want it at certain times. Why can't it be charmed to make you not want it when it won't work. You wouldn't even notice that your preferences were being edited.

Comment author: Desrtopa 31 March 2012 02:11:36AM 4 points [-]

How far can that charm extend though? If I had never seen a can of Comed-Tea (hey, I already haven't,) I'd want to try it out according to a consistent schedule. If a can of soda has the power to control people's minds without their ever coming in contact with it, we're already getting into realms of omnipotence-via-soda.

Comment author: bogdanb 30 March 2012 03:48:26AM *  9 points [-]

I think I figured out how Dumbledore knew about Harry wanting to change the rules of Quiddich. Instead of reading student minds he used the cloak:

This is the Cloak of Invisibility [...] Your father lent it to me to study shortly before he died, and I confess that I have received much good use of it over the years.

(Emphasis mine. Well, of course, that he would use it is obvious and the note is not proof of anything, but that’s what triggered the idea. Also, it makes a lot of sense that Harry’s father would lend the cloak to Dumbledore for study.)

If he did this on the train platform (which would make sense as an opportunity to be mysterious to new students, or just to Harry) there’s a bit of other interesting stuff he might have heard. Whatever Draco cast (the description doesn’t quite match Quietus, and it was wordless or at least not heard by Harry), it probably doesn’t work for a cloaked guy near you, and certainly not Dumbledore if he really wanted to listen.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 30 March 2012 05:58:44AM 2 points [-]

Then maybe the cloaked Dumbledore is the one that told Harry to talk to Hermione.

Would that make the mysteries less complicated, or more?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 30 March 2012 07:44:55AM 2 points [-]

Then maybe the cloaked Dumbledore is the one that told Harry to talk to Hermione.

We already know it was McGonagall that told Harry to find Hermione, no? Where's the mystery?

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 30 March 2012 02:07:34AM 3 points [-]

Since we're doing this by chapter now, I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I'm not sure where to put it otherwise.

I was rereading chapter 26, Noticing Confusion, and-- maybe I'm not the first person to notice this-- I was thinking of a certain other indestructible diary.

Surely Quirrelmort wouldn't give Harry that diary, right? But if the book is indestructible, and made of paper, there is magic involved. He does say Bacon was a wizard, but also that his experiments never got very far without a wand. Making books indestructible does not seem like not getting very far.

Comment author: see 30 March 2012 03:43:35AM 6 points [-]

Surely Quirrelmort wouldn't give Harry that diary, right?

I thought it was fairly obviously that diary, and thus an effort by Quirrelmort to take over/destroy Harry the way Ginny was (almost) in canon. Harry has apparently avoided the trap entirely because he is under the logically reasonable impression that he needs to learn Latin to read Roger Bacon's diary. I'm pretty sure other people have reached the same conclusion in previous threads.

We then see a second effort to approximately the same end with the Dementor brought on school grounds (at Quirrelmort's instigation) with Harry's wand "accidentally" being left near the cage.

Comment author: Anubhav 31 March 2012 02:32:08AM 4 points [-]

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