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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85

9 Post author: FAWS 18 April 2012 02:30AM

The next discussion thread is here.

 

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 85The previous thread  has long passed 500 comments. Comment in the 15th thread until you read chapter 85. 

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.) 

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: 12345678910111213, 14, 15.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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 (1105)

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 18 April 2012 12:14:54PM 24 points [-]

Okay, after thinking a few minutes about the Batman-Joker/where do you put Dark Wizards if you're determined not to use Dementors anymore problem...

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

I can think up of possible ways out of this meta-problem, in order to sustain the dilemma: Perhaps really powerful Dark Wizards require too vast a portion of magical power to sustain the vow. Perhaps there are dark rituals whereby using them, Dark Wizards can break out of even an (ill-named) Unbreakable Vow. Perhaps Dark Wizards tend to have made other rituals that already make them immune to Unbreakable Vows... Perhaps unbreakable vows need be really really specific in some weird manner like "I will not kill Bill Weasley", and "I will not kill Charlie Weasley" necessarily are two separate vows, so that "I will not kill any human" isn't enforceable...

But these are additional problems that are not yet mentioned/listed/foreshadowed in the story. Ugh, Unbreakable Vows seem something of a game breaker right now.

Sidenote: Whenever I think of something such, I worry that the author will think he'll have to rewrite/revise everything he had already planned, and that we'll never get an update again. Not my intention, I swear.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 April 2012 01:05:10PM 44 points [-]

Unbreakable Vows are ridiculously broken, as Harry briefly observes in Ch. 74. They're even more ridiculous in fanfictions where people can just grab a wand and swear something on their life and magic and thereby create a magically binding vow. I had to nerf the hell out of their activation costs just to make the MoR-verse keep running. I can't depict a society with zero agency problems, a perfect public commitment process and an infinite trust engine unless the whole story is about that.

Comment author: AndrewH 18 April 2012 07:56:09PM 3 points [-]

With Unbreakable Vows, the... arbitrator?... sacrifices a portion of their magic permanently yes? One issue is that, after you die you might need that magic for something, like the more magic you have the more pleasant (or less!) magically created heaven is. In any case, even if magical society was fine with sacrifices, they might reason thus, and not use unbreakable vows. Such a society would make investigation (magical!) into potential afterlife a top priority, so lack of use of such a ritual might be compensated by finding out there is a heaven (or hell).

Comment author: sketerpot 20 April 2012 03:59:05AM 6 points [-]

This is a society that has no problem using dementors as prison guards. I'm sure they would be willing to compel each criminal to act as the binder for one other criminal. It seems like a very small price to pay.

Comment author: Lavode 18 April 2012 07:01:54PM 5 points [-]

I mentioned this in the TVtropes thread, but Merlin did not think through his interdict all that well - If you are going to compromise everyones mental integrity to end a cycle of magical destruction, then limiting information spread is an asinie way to do it - it would make infinitely more sense to subject all wizards to a magical prohibition against large scale destruction and killing. Phrasing it so that it wards agaist Dunning-Kruger fueled magical accidents without shutting down experimentation entirely is an interesting exercise, but should be possible.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 18 April 2012 10:29:57PM 8 points [-]

Frankly, we don't know enough about why Merlin did what he did to judge his action either way -- we don't know what danger was being foreseen, we don't know the limitations of his own powers. There's really no sense in criticizing him or praising him at this point of time - we lack crucial information.

Comment author: MugaSofer 18 August 2012 02:48:31AM 3 points [-]

It's possible that the Interdict is a natural property of the Source of Magic, and was swept up in the legend of Merlin as time passed. We have no real evidence for a time when people could record spells indefinitely, AFAIK.

Comment author: Xachariah 18 April 2012 05:23:14PM *  29 points [-]

You could just strip their magic.

If there exists any ritual that happens to permanently remove a portion of somebody's magic (Unbreakable Vow), then you could just repeat that ritual meaninglessly until that person was completely stripped of magic permanently. Or you could use other rituals which require similar permanent sacrifices until you achieve the same effect. Keeping a permanently magicless wizard imprisoned is a trivial task, and obviates the need for dementors.

Side Note: That's actually my pet theory on why Dementors as prison guards are acceptable to the public. It could be that governments used to use rituals to permanently strip prisoners of magic before imprisoning them. This would make them a revenue center instead of a funds sink. This would naturally encourage the magical government to find more and more excuses to imprison people, similar to how the 'tough on crime' cycle is accelerated by the for-profit prison systems in some places. A police state would be soon to follow. Then, after a cultural revolution, Dementors were adopted as the less evil option to house criminals. It also helps explain why so many rituals are banned. It's unlikely to be true in HPMoR, but it'd be a nice thought for another fanfic.

Comment author: drethelin 18 April 2012 05:26:12PM 9 points [-]

Another problem with this system is the permanence. People get sent to Azkaban for less than lifetime sentences, but if you use this to strip someone of magic it's gone forever. I suppose you could use degrees of magic removal as punishment but that seems hard to balance to different powerlevels of wizard.

Comment author: RobbBB 17 August 2012 12:11:21AM 2 points [-]

A permanent loss of magic is probably much more ethically justifiable than a temporary period of torture.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 18 April 2012 06:31:28PM 7 points [-]

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

I don't think it would be that easy. This is isomorphic to making wishes with an evil genie--or coding a human-level AI with a list of deontological commands. It could be done, but probably not in an EY fanfic and probably not without a skilled magical lawyer.

Comment author: [deleted] 18 April 2012 07:38:46PM 5 points [-]

The difference is that evil wizards are not, as a rule, a different intellectual order than we are. We have some idea of their set of options. Not so for a powerful AI. A dark lord is at least somewhat bounded by the human imagination.

Comment author: gmaxwell 18 April 2012 09:33:42PM 7 points [-]

are not, as a rule, a different intellectual order than we are

Yes they are— in the sense that they will have decades to spend ruminating on workarounds, experimenting, consulting with others. And when they find a solution the result is potentially an easily transmitted whole class compromise that frees them all at once.

Decades of dedicated human time, teams of humans, etc. are all forms of super-humanity. If you demanded that the same man hours be spent drafting the language as would be spent under its rule, then I'd agree that there was no differential advantage, but then it would be quite a challenge to write the rule.

Comment author: Lavode 18 April 2012 10:03:52PM 6 points [-]

also, unlike the case of an AI where you have to avoid crippling it, lest it becomes pointless to build it in the first place, using unbreakable wows as a punishment for grand crimes against humanity means that the restraints can be nearly abritarily harsh. The people writing the wows have no need to preserve the decision space they leave their victim or respect their autonomy. TLDR: Voldemort would not be able to spend decades thinking of ways around the wow, because doing so would violate any sensibly formulated wow. (stray toughts, sure, you have to permit that, or the wow kills in a day. Sitting down and working at it? No.)

Comment author: beoShaffer 18 April 2012 09:51:37PM *  4 points [-]

I thought Dumbeldore said that he found a way to imprison Grindelwald without dementors but I can't find were he says that. edit fixed major spelling error can->can't

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 April 2012 10:01:14PM 12 points [-]

"Are there Dementors in Nurmengard?"

"What?" said the old wizard. "No! I would not have done that even to him -"

The old wizard stared at the young boy, who had straightened, and his face changed.

"In other words," the boy said, as though talking to himself without any other people in the room, "it's already known how to keep powerful Dark Wizards in prison, without using Dementors. People know they know that."

Comment author: hairyfigment 18 April 2012 08:43:22PM 9 points [-]

Perhaps there are dark rituals whereby using them, Dark Wizards can break out of even an (ill-named) Unbreakable Vow.

Well, they can die. I've seen nothing to suggest that Vows destroy Horcruxes.

Comment author: culdraug 19 April 2012 12:51:50AM 12 points [-]

I wonder if this fact is possibly relevant to some Cunning Plot in which - perhaps just as one among many positive results - Voldemort "died" and resurrected via horcrux in order to escape an Unbreakable Vow. I remember in response to chapter 84, people were wondering what, if Voldie's apparent death at Godric's Hollow was intentional, was in it for him.

Comment author: Desrtopa 18 April 2012 11:52:21PM 3 points [-]

But will they come back free of the Vow? It seems entirely plausible to me that it would follow them into their new incarnation.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 19 April 2012 11:14:49AM 3 points [-]

They could still break it once per incarnation.

Comment author: wirov 20 April 2012 01:20:07PM 4 points [-]

… thus killing one human per incarnation, thus creating one horcrux per incarnation.

Now, if there were some way to automate the whole getting-a-body-business …

Comment author: wedrifid 18 April 2012 01:00:16PM 7 points [-]

Okay, after thinking a few minutes about the Batman-Joker/where do you put Dark Wizards if you're determined not to use Dementors anymore problem...

Kill them. With great power comes great getting-held-responsible-if-necessary.

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

Oh, no, this is much better. Magical evilness castration.

Comment author: Vaniver 18 April 2012 06:20:43AM 15 points [-]

Oh, Harry. Who have you just doomed with your folly?

Harry realizes the error, and yet continues to generalize from fictional morality.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 April 2012 12:26:44PM 7 points [-]

Which error does he realize? So far as I can tell, he sees a failure mode on both sides, and so chooses the best compromise he can come up with.

Comment author: Vaniver 18 April 2012 04:43:24PM 16 points [-]

Two illustrations:

It was abruptly very clear that while Harry was going around trying to live the ideals of the Enlightenment, Dumbledore was the one who'd actually fought in a war. Nonviolent ideals were cheap to hold if you were a scientist, living inside the Protego bubble cast by the police officers and soldiers whose actions you had the luxury to question. Albus Dumbledore seemed to have started out with ideals at least as strong as Harry's own, if not stronger; and Dumbledore hadn't gotten through his war without losing friends and killing enemies and sacrificing allies.

For commentary, we turn to Bismarck: "A fool learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others."

Even if Dumbledore was right, and the true enemy was utterly mad and evil... in a hundred million years the organic lifeform known as Lord Voldemort probably wouldn't seem much different from all the other bewildered children of Ancient Earth. Whatever Lord Voldemort had done to himself, whatever Dark rituals seemed so horribly irrevocable on a merely human scale, it wouldn't be beyond curing with the technology of a hundred million years. Killing him, if you didn't have to do it, would be just one more death for future sentient beings to be sad about. How could you look up at the stars, and believe anything else?

Do Achilles and Odysseus not seem too different to modern eyes? No- one is pride and folly, and the other prudence and wisdom. But unfortunately one must be Odysseus to know that, and Harry is an Achilles.

History remembers actions; fiction remembers people. And so Harry thinks that the future will remember everyone currently alive as they are in fiction, rather than as their deeds show them to be. Indeed, once you have "cured" Voldemort by scooping out his will and past, what remains? Why does he think the future will hold life to be as precious as the present does, instead of cheap, as it did and will again in Malthusian economies?

Harry does not look at the stars; he looks at himself. He would do better to look at others.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 April 2012 09:47:07PM 7 points [-]

Why does he think the future will hold life to be as precious as the present does, instead of cheap, as it did and will again in Malthusian economies?

Because he has no intention of letting that happen.

Comment author: Vaniver 18 April 2012 11:22:21PM 5 points [-]

Intentions are insufficient.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 April 2012 11:28:59PM 4 points [-]

Intentions are insufficient.

Intentions and having already outright declared what 'shall not be' (see dementor scene) are sufficient for at least establishing what possible futures Harry cares about and plans on happening. (I personally criticized said scene because it seemed like cheap overconfident grandstanding of the kind fitting to an 11 year old.)

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 01 May 2012 01:02:48AM 13 points [-]

Does anyone else think it plausible that Harry's third last name, "Verres," comes from Mr. Verres in the webcomic El Goonish Shive? EGS Mr. Verres is a government scientist with a bespectacled semi-magical mad scientist son, and pretty much everything else in MOR is a shout-out.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 May 2012 02:00:11AM 16 points [-]

Accidental, but I'm willing to claim credit for it. It started as a portmanteau of Vassar and Herreshoff.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 13 December 2012 10:50:23AM 2 points [-]

I'd always assumed it was related to Veres / Latin for truth.

Comment author: pedanterrific 23 April 2012 03:47:13AM *  13 points [-]

In canon, Bellatrix Lestrange is married to Rodolphus Lestrange and does not have a child. In MoR, Bellatrix Black is unmarried, but has a child- Lesath Lestrange, the acknowledged bastard of Rastaban Lestrange. (In canon Rodolphus' brother's name was Rabastan, but I'm assuming that's a typo.) Lesath is currently a fifth year, so he was born in either '75 or '76. Bellatrix was actively leading attacks as a Death Eater in '71. Presumably a pregnancy would require some amount of maternity leave from the whole 'going on raids, fighting Aurors' thing.

So. Why would Voldemort allow / order one of his most powerful servants to have a child?

Comment author: DanArmak 06 May 2012 12:45:52AM 7 points [-]

Um. Maybe he was experimenting with the powerful magic protection that a mother's love grants her child?

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 24 April 2012 04:02:15AM *  5 points [-]

Given that his ideology is based to blood purity, he may very well (at least put up a show of) encouraging purebloods to have children.

Also, given what we know about Bellatrix's relationship to Voldemort, maybe Lesath is actually Voldemort's son and Rastaban adopted him after Voldemort's downfall, falsely acknowledging paternity so he wouldn't have the stigma of being the son of a dark lord.

Comment author: pedanterrific 24 April 2012 04:22:05AM 3 points [-]

Given that his ideology is based to blood purity, he may very well (at least put up a show of) encouraging purebloods to have children.

He chose to express this viewpoint by ordering his extremely loyal, highly skilled unmarried female pureblood warrior-assassin to have a kid in the middle of a war?

maybe Lesath is actually Voldemort's [son]

This is possible, but... he's kind of, you know, wimpy. I'm just not seeing it. (Also, it seems like we might have gotten some indication that Quirrell has interacted with him somehow, if this were true.)

Rastaban adopted [him] after Voldemort's downfall

Rastaban was in Azkaban immediately after Voldemort's downfall. Also, Lesath was somewhere around five years old at the time.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 24 April 2012 04:27:54AM 2 points [-]

He chose to express this viewpoint by ordering his extremely loyal, highly skilled unmarried female pureblood warrior-assassin to have a kid in the middle of a war?

Well, the Nazi's did something similar.

Comment author: Aharon 05 May 2012 10:37:59PM *  2 points [-]

1) Even in Muggle society, there are women who work close to their normal capacity despite pregnancy up to shortly before birth. 2) The physiological consequences after birth can probably be healed by magic. 3) Voldemort might also enjoy causing her psychological pain by having her become attached to the child she will bear and then taking it away from her afterwards. He continued torturing her well after he already had her total loyalty, so this might just be another way to do so.

Comment author: FAWS 18 April 2012 02:46:27AM *  11 points [-]

Why should the time of an ominous decision be so relevant to seers? Even if the consequences of the decision have a big impact on the future, that future already was the future. It's not like there is a default future before you make your decision and a different future afterwards, your decision itself would already be a part of the future of any earlier point in time. From a many worlds perspective you might have several different possible futures so your overall prospect of the future might significantly change after an important branching, but Harry's decision doesn't seem particularly influenced by recent random chance; it seems unlikely that from the perspective of 6 hours ago most future Harrys would make a completely different decision.

Comment author: 75th 18 April 2012 03:08:58AM *  16 points [-]

Hmm. On first reading, I just took the premonitions as being an indicator of how close we are to the apocalypse, not necessarily being caused by Harry's resolution. And yet you're right; both the premonitions we've seen so far immediately followed Harry's resolving something.

The first resolution was Harry saying that he would destroy Azkaban, whether it meant ruling Britain or summoning arcane magics to blow the building up, and that those who support Azkaban are the villains.

This resolution was Harry saying that if his war caused a single death, he would start killing villains as fast as possible.

So if these are all related, I guess all Quirrell needs to do is make Harry remember both those resolutions after someone dies and while he's in his Dark Side, and then sit back and watch as Harry exterminates 90% of the British population.

Comment author: loserthree 18 April 2012 11:50:43AM *  23 points [-]

The clock is a gift from Dumbledore. On the one hand, it could be recording. On the other hand it could be transmitting. On the gripping hand, Dumbledore has a Time Turner.

If Dumbledore wanted to assure that any time he was the best pressure-release for a prophesy that pressure was released as easily and discretely as possible and less likely to be overheard, he would want to make it easy for the Prophesy Force to get that information to him.

So he gives her a clock and tells her to ask it for the time each time she wakes up in the middle of the night. The clock tells Dumbledore. Dumbledore gets invisible. Then it's just a jump to the left and he receives any prophesy intended for him.

Comment author: thomblake 18 April 2012 01:59:21PM 12 points [-]

That's so obvious in retrospect, and Dumbledore is so meddling, that now I don't think he's allowed not to have thought of that.

Comment author: Locke 18 April 2012 02:53:12AM *  9 points [-]

Eliezer seems to be taking a page from Alicorn's book. In Luminosity Alice is plagued by differing visions as Bella constantly changes her mind about her future, and then the actual future snaps into place when a final choice is made.

Comment author: shminux 18 April 2012 04:57:54AM 11 points [-]

That's how it is in the canon Twilight (Eclipse).

Comment author: Alsadius 18 April 2012 03:00:35AM 4 points [-]

If you assume both free will and prescience, it's natural. You cannot see the consequences of a decision that has not yet been made, but once it has been, then you can view it. Think of the visions in Dune, as one of the better-known examples - the visions that the seers see are infinite branches, not single facts, and the branch points are their decisions. (The analogy is not perfect - in Dune, the decisions of non-seers are taken as given - but I hope the idea is clear).

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 18 April 2012 10:59:26AM 6 points [-]

Free will as opposing "determinism" is a confused concept according to Eliezer's opinion, and also according to mine -- see Thou Art Physics

Basic points is that we're part of the physical world-- if free will means anything, it must mean the ability of our current physical state to determine our decisions. "Libertarian free-will" in the sense of people making decision that can't be predicted from the current state; that's inevitably just randomness, not anything that has to do with people's character traits or moralities or cognitive-processes -- nothing that is traditionally labelled "free will".

Comment author: FAWS 18 April 2012 03:07:05AM 3 points [-]

If you assume both free will and prescience, it's natural.

You mean libertarian free will, which already doesn't make sense all by itself, and even then the combination doesn't make sense for additional reasons, starting with that seeing anything would usually require that only main characters have free will.

Comment author: Daniel_Starr 20 April 2012 11:37:09PM *  29 points [-]

HPMOR is making me rethink human nature -- because of how people react to it. This is a story full of cunning disguises, and readers seem reluctant to see past those disguises. RL rkcerffrq chmmyrzrag ng ubj many readers took forever to decide Quirrell = Voldemort; I think I now know why.

I suggest that humans are instinctive "observation consequentialists." That is, we think someone is competent and good if the observed results of their actions are benign. We weigh what we observe much more strongly than what we merely deduce. If we personally see their actions work out well, we'll put aside a great deal of indirect evidence for their incompetence or vileness.

In HPMOR, Quirrell's directly observed actions are mostly associated with Harry getting to be more of what he thinks he wants. Even rescuing Bellatrix amounts to Harry getting to save a broken lovelorn creature in terms of what we directly observe. To believe Quirrell evil we have to bring in all kinds of expected consequences to weigh against those immediate positive observations.

Does the resistance to saying Quirrell=Voldemort maybe reflect a broader unwillingness to overlook what we directly witness in favor of abstract deduction? If it does, this implies some interesting predictions about human behavior:

  • if you can be kind and moderate in your personal behavior, you can get away with incredible amounts of institutionally-mediated violence and extremism, especially to anyone who feels like they "know" you. Hypothesis: the most dangerous people are those who can give us the illusion of "knowing" them while they command an institution whose internal operations we don't see.

  • More generally, an institution "wired" to do us harm can get away with it much longer than an individual doing it personally and directly. Faceless corporate evil, faceless societal evil, and faceless government evil are much more deadly than our emotional impulses realize. Hypothesis: we are biased to confuse the institutions with our attitude toward their leaders, or to refuse to act against the institutions because of the outward manners of their leaders.

  • if this 'observation consequentialism' bias is heuristic, then maybe it evolved as an anti-gossip function. In that case we should expect that people are too quick to believe outrageous things about people they can't observe. Hypothesis: the further away someone is from your understanding, the less likely you are to think of them as mostly a typical human being, and the quicker you are to believe them a saint, a monster, or something similarly exciting.

  • And, alas for EY, hypothesis: telling a story about cunning disguises, in which the protagonist of the story does not see through those disguises, is almost always going to lead to lots of readers also not seeing through those disguises.

Comment author: moridinamael 20 April 2012 11:55:44PM 16 points [-]

Additionally, abusive relationships persist because the victim just can't help but forgive the abuser when the abuser is choosing to be nice. It can be hard to even believe your own memories of abuse when the abuser is smiling at you and giving you compliments.

I try to recall Quirrell murdering Rita Skeeter in cold blood every time I catch myself feeling like he's the good guy in the story.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 22 April 2012 01:44:26AM 10 points [-]

I think the reason I was reluctant to accept that Quirrell is Voldemort is that Harry is a lot smarter than me and he trusted Quirrell.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 April 2012 04:31:16AM *  13 points [-]

That's actually a surprisingly good reason. In real life, the best rationalist you know is probably not a character in a story and feeling a sense of opposing pressure when you disagree with them is probably a pretty good idea.

Comment author: Grognor 21 April 2012 08:10:54AM *  8 points [-]

Or it's just the halo effect, since Quirrell is awesome and of course awesome people are always good. You are making things up!

Comment author: SkyDK 22 April 2012 11:03:34PM 5 points [-]

if you can be kind and moderate in your personal behavior, you can get away with incredible amounts of institutionally-mediated violence and extremism, especially to anyone who feels like they "know" you. Hypothesis: the most dangerous people are those who can give us the illusion of "knowing" them while they command an institution whose internal operations we don't see.

This suits extremely well with both local communities relationship to known criminals and to historical figures. Politics is a mind-killer and so on, but a lot of heroes of different nations have done some downright nasty stuff, but managed to keep their reputation due to perceptions about their personal manner. It has recently been used by leaders such as Chavez and Khomeini, but American presidents have also used this effect extensively (why kiss babies?) and historical figures from Cesar to Richard Lionheart and countless of medieval kings have also garnered good will by the actions they have undertaken in public while at the same time doing something in the opposite direction of way greater magnitude through their institutions of power.

Comment author: Multiheaded 10 May 2012 02:39:49PM 4 points [-]

if you can be kind and moderate in your personal behavior, you can get away with incredible amounts of institutionally-mediated violence and extremism, especially to anyone who feels like they "know" you. Hypothesis: the most dangerous people are those who can give us the illusion of "knowing" them while they command an institution whose internal operations we don't see.

Exactly! That's just like what all the most infamous dictators did, and what Machiavelli recommends in The Prince.

Comment author: Desrtopa 22 April 2012 05:12:12AM 4 points [-]

I'm skeptical that people who've taken a long time to accept that Quirrel is Voldemort constitute a significant proportion of HPMoR readers. Sure, I've noticed a considerable number of them too, but HPMoR has a lot of readers. There's a risk of availability bias here; a reader who expresses skepticism that Quirrel is Voldemort automatically attracts attention from anyone who thinks it's obvious, whereas other people who think it's obvious don't.

Personally, I've had no trouble at all accepting that Quirrell is evil ever since his first class, where he praised Harry's killing instinct. Villains pointing out and encouraging protagonists' darker impulses is a time honored trope, and praising an eleven year old in front of a whole class of other children for his drive to kill seems pretty indicative of evil to me.

Comment author: DavidAgain 22 April 2012 08:13:57PM 5 points [-]

Part of the problem is what 'he is Voldemort' really means: he isn't like canon Voldemort or even with how MOR Voldemort is reported to be.

As for his obvious evil: it's too obvious, he seems to be the sort who enjoys playing the cynical villain but is actually, if not nice, at least nice to his friends. And Harry seems to be a friend. If he was trying to manipulate Harry he wouldn't have called it intent to kill, he'd have called it being decisive or intelligent or somesuch.

Oddly enough, open villainy can be a great cloak for subtle villainy.

Comment author: Nornagest 22 April 2012 11:38:54PM *  14 points [-]

To be honest, I'm not even sure if Voldemort is Voldemort, in the sense of being the man behind the proverbial curtain here. Everything about him from the name up screams "assumed persona": he's far more theatrical a figure than a blood-purist demagogue would need to be, and some aspects of what he does even look counterproductive in that context. And while the canon Tom Riddle did all the same stuff and all for no particularly good reason, in the context of MoR I think we can assume that there's an agenda behind it.

I don't know for sure what that agenda is yet, but a good first step seems to be this question: why would you want to pose as a supervillain? As it happens, Eliezer has touched on that before.

Comment author: Locke 21 April 2012 03:11:21PM *  10 points [-]

I don't think anyone failed to see the signs that Quirrel is Voldemort in HPMOR. There are just those of us who believed it to be a Red Herring, because "that's how stories are supposed to work." If a potential solution to a mystery seems very obviously true in the first quarter of the story, then in most stories it's probably not the true solution. . Of course, at this point there's just no denying it.

Comment author: jimrandomh 01 May 2012 03:57:36AM 10 points [-]

I'm not sure how my mind dug this up, but way back in Chapter 17, Harry visits Dumbledore's office and is overloaded with bizarreness: Dumbledore sets fire to a chicken, he gives him his father's rock, he gives him his mother's potions textbook which contains a terrible secret... but one of these things is not like the others. Dumbledore gave Harry his father's rock, with instructions that Harry satisfied by creating a magical ring and wearing it at all times.

Blur out all the hilarious details for a minute, and that scene is: Dumbledore made Harry create a magical ring and wear it at all times, and distracted him so well that he never thought about what the ring does. My hypothesis is that some aspect of magic is governed by an XP-like mechanic, and that sustained transfiguration (especially of large masses) is an unusually effective way of gaining magical power. Dumbledore wants Harry to exploit this, but he considers it a major secret, so he substituted a nonsensical explanation and prepared a collection of very flashy distractions to keep it from being questioned. He might've even left the real explanation in his pensieve, so that he wouldn't have to lie. Read in this light, the scene makes a whole lot more sense. It explains Harry's anomalous magical power. It explains Dumbledore's anomalous magical power.

It is also the only way Dumbledore could truly mark someone as an equal.

Comment author: Brickman 18 April 2012 01:18:02PM 26 points [-]

Is it me, or does Harry's solution to this dilemma seem rather... half-assed? Ignoring potential the loss of effectiveness from his resolving to suddenly switch directions the first time things get bad, is he really going to know the first time someone dies as a result of his war? How will he know the difference? He's already gotten someone killed by his actions (Rita Skeeter, who he doesn't even know about) and another person gravely injured (that auror hurt by the rocket, who he doesn't know about but admittedly he thought the whole affair was a mistake afterward anyways). How about opportunity costs, the fact that if you handed me 100000 galleons demanding I save at least 10 lives with it I could hand you back 99000 in change. And that's before the "war" even "started"; hostilities are going to get more open and more direct from here. It's madness to think you can finish war, even a weird semi-geurella war like this, with zero casualties, or that you'll know about every one.

With the condition he gave himself anyone should be able to see that "failure" is a foregone conclusion. And there's very good odds he's not going to learn that what he's doing isn't working until he's racked up a far worse bodycount than one.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 April 2012 01:24:44PM 9 points [-]

He's already gotten someone killed by his actions (Rita Skeeter, who he doesn't even know about)

Not for any realistic sense of the phrase 'by his actions'. Quirrel squished Rita of his own accord for his own purposes and Harry's presence there is damn near irrelevant.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 18 April 2012 01:33:19PM 8 points [-]

Quirrel squished Rita of his own accord for his own purposes and Harry's presence there is damn near irrelevant.

Kinda-sort of.

Harry inadvertently gave Fred&George the idea of making up rumours about Quirrel (by telling them he doesn't like rumours, and asking them to leave Quirrel out of it). Which Rita Skeeter published.

And the prank he actually commissioned gave Quirrel a plausible explanation for Rita Skeeter's disappearance.

Morally Harry is not really responsible IMO. But causally, eh... her death would have probably not have happened if he hadn't talked to the Weasley twins about her.

Comment author: Brickman 18 April 2012 01:41:45PM 15 points [-]

Morally he didn't do it, and maybe Quirrel even had a desire to kill her sitting on a back burner before Harry got involved, but her death was caused by her interaction with Harry. It is no stretch to say that there is at least one hypothetical sequence of actions Harry could have taken, even given knowledge at the time (not realizing she worked for Lucius or was an animagus) which would not have resulted in her death. Heck, doing nothing would have resulted in her not death.

That is the level of challenge Harry is taking upon himself. Not just to not kill anyone, not just to keep your hands clean, not just to save people when he can. He's declaring that if any innocent person anywhere dies and there's something he could have done differently to save them, that's his failure condition. You can't do that.

That said, I thought about it a few minutes more and it could be his resolution is really about knowing he doesn't know how bad the situation is. It's certainly possible to get through, say, a political power struggle with someone like Lord Malfoy without anyone getting killed. Harry considers it possible but doesn't yet believe that his opponent is Voldemort. If his opponent is Voldemort avoiding casualties is impossible. If his opponent is someone less evil (though still pretty nasty), and the scope of the conflict is much smaller, he might be able to pull it off.

Comment author: fgenj 18 April 2012 06:17:52PM 7 points [-]

but a single nameless innocent bystander who catches a Cutting Curse

It seems that he promised himself to stop trying to save everyone even if a minor character dies accidentally. In that case it wouldn't matter if he considered himself directly responsible for the death of Rita Skeeter.

You can't do that.

Indeed. I don't see how he could manage not to compromise his 'every human life is precious' principle in a war. He's hesitating between two possible courses of action -- doing the math or playing Ghandi -- and neither seems like a satisfying choice. He really needs to become omnipotent or at least avoid the necessity of making such a choice.

Comment author: chaosmosis 12 September 2012 01:36:55PM *  9 points [-]

Idea: someone should compile a list of times when Quirrell says "Interesting" or is otherwise surprised by Harry.

He does it a lot, and we might see an interesting pattern emerge.

Comment author: malderi 18 April 2012 03:35:09PM 9 points [-]

Eliezer,

It might be useful to put a notice at the bottom of the chapter about new entries taking a while. All previous chapters have a similar note about the next update, and the lack of one on this chapter may imply the ending of the fic to some (especially those that don't read the discussions).

Comment author: 75th 20 April 2012 12:30:47AM *  8 points [-]

By Word of God, we know that horcruxes exist in the HPMoR universe. It seems like by now we ought to be able to start figuring out what a horcrux is.

In Canon, a horcrux is a fragment of a soul. But it stands to reason that this will not be the full answer in MoR, as it's a fairly serious violation of the author's beliefs. So if we're to disregard supernatural and religious concepts, the obvious first idea is that horcruxes are storage media for some portion of a brain's data.

The problem is that most of what makes up a brain has been strongly hinted to not be the answer, either. It certainly looks like Harry is a horcrux in this universe, and Harry already thought of that possibility in different terms, yet the Sorting Hat says with 100% confidence that there is no extra "mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings" in Harry's head. And I'm disregarding out of hand any clever-schoolboy loopholes like "The horcrux is Harry's foot!"

What is left of a brain, if mind and intelligence and memory and personality and feelings (and a soul) are eliminated? It would be fitting, though a bit precious, if the answer were somehow "rationality", if you could come up with a sensible reason to say that a person's decision-making algorithms don't fall under any of those five categories. But I certainly can't; "mind" by itself seems pretty all-encompassing to me.

But I'm new to Less Wrong and not yet very well read about the art of rationality, so it could be that this will be an easy question for some of you. What explanation remains that would describe what a horcrux is? Are there accepted theories out there that I haven't seen? Or is it maybe time to start questioning my premise that Harry is a horcrux in the first place?

Comment author: Nornagest 20 April 2012 12:54:52AM *  13 points [-]

It certainly looks like Harry is a horcrux in this universe, and Harry already thought of that possibility in different terms, yet the Sorting Hat says...

The exact phrasing of the Sorting Hat's statement was as follows:

...there is definitely nothing like a ghost - mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings - in your scar. Otherwise it would be participating in this conversation, being under my brim.

Now, anyone that's read the sort of fairytale where riddles are important should immediately be able to come up with a half-dozen loopholes in that, but I think we can dismiss most of them out of hand given that the Sorting Hat has no particular incentive to be misleading. The most promising option that remains, by my reading, is that there's nothing separate about the Horcrux contents for the Hat to key off of -- they effectively are Harry, or part of him. He's probably tapping that part of himself when he has his Dark Side episodes, at the very least, but I don't think that's the full extent of the Horcrux's influence: at various points he asks himself or people around him why he doesn't think like other children, and narrative parsimony points rather strongly to the one unique trait we know he has.

The weakest point of this theory, as best I can tell, is the lack of any (obvious) memories from Voldemort; I think we can safely assume the Hat would have found them if they were locked away somewhere within him, but on the other hand it'd be a rather poor resurrection that resulted in an amnesiac personality-clone. Riddle's diary from Chamber of Secrets also argues along these lines. Unfortunately, we haven't seen any other Horcruces in MoR, so we have nothing in-universe to compare against, and canon may not be reliable. Perhaps the relevant memories got wiped out by infantile amnesia or something.

Comment author: glumph 20 April 2012 06:29:13AM 8 points [-]

The most promising option that remains, by my reading, is that there's nothing separate about the Horcrux contents for the Hat to key off of -- they effectively are Harry, or part of him.

That seems to be supported by this passage from Chapter 85:

Maybe because his dark side wasn't an imaginary voice like Hufflepuff; Harry might imagine his Hufflepuff part as wanting different things from himself, but his dark side wasn't like that. His "dark side", so far as Harry could tell, was a different way that Harry sometimes was. Right now, Harry wasn't angry; and trying to ask what "dark Harry" wanted was a phone ringing unanswered.

The idea is, crudely, that if Harry is a Horcrux, it is not because he has some distinct thing inside him, but because some part of Voldemort (part of his soul?) has "merged" with Harry.

Comment author: MixedNuts 20 April 2012 10:08:08AM 16 points [-]

Voldemort's Killing Curse worked. Lily's son is dead. The sacrifice magic hurt Voldemort and created a new person in Harry's body from Voldemort's mind, who we've been reading about ever since. The hat doesn't notice this because it never met the previous Harry. Voldemort knows all this and is treating Harry as his mind-child.

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 April 2012 06:18:32PM 11 points [-]

So Harry 1.0 was overwritten by Tom Riddle 2.0, but this time Tom got a loving family?

Comment author: chaosmosis 21 April 2012 03:06:14AM 7 points [-]

I just realized that the existence of the Dark Side is evidence against this.

Harry would be all Dark Side if his original personality had been overwritten.

Comment author: gRR 20 April 2012 12:35:30PM 4 points [-]

We can try to assume that a horcrux is literally a fragment of a soul, in the Hofstadterian sense. It is then indeed an abstract algorithm (or a set of them), and it need not include memory and separate intelligence, although it would include personality and feelings.

Extrapolating on what we know about how the Source of Magic interprets things, we should expect inanimate object horcruxes to be generally passive, while alive horcruxes to incorporate the algorithms into their own minds, although still somewhat separate.

[It'd be cool to read about how a horcruxed software would behave.]

Comment author: JoshuaZ 20 April 2012 01:22:15AM 4 points [-]

In Canon, a horcrux is a fragment of a soul. But it stands to reason that this will not be the full answer in MoR, as it's a fairly serious violation of the author's beliefs

I would guess that the author sees conservation of energy as pretty important also. I would not be at all surprised if souls really exist in the HPMoR universe.

Comment author: glumph 20 April 2012 06:23:42AM 6 points [-]

Va gur Nhgube'f Abgrf sbe Puncgref 39--40 (Cergraqvat gb Or Jvfr), Ryvrmre nccrnef gb or qryvorengryl inthr nf gb jurgure gur UCZBE havirefr unf na nsgreyvsr. Ng yrnfg, gung'f ubj V ernq guvf:

Vg'f na vagrerfgvat dhrfgvba nf gb jurgure Uneel vf orunivat nf n Syng Rnegu Ngurvfg jvgu erfcrpg gb uvf fxrcgvpvfz nobhg na nsgreyvsr. Gb or engvbany, lbh jnag gb unir gur fbeg bs zvaq gung, vs vg svaqf vgfrys va n jbeyq jvgu ab nsgreyvsr, qbrfa'g oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr, naq vs vg svaqf vgfrys va n jbeyq jvgu na nsgreyvsr, qbrf oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr. W. X. Ebjyvat pyrneyl oryvrirq gung gur Cbggreirefr unq na nsgreyvsr, naq jebgr vg nppbeqvatyl; vs Uneel svaqf uvzfrys va gung havirefr, naq ur fgvyy qbrfa'g oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr, gung'f abg arprffnevyl n tbbq fvta sbe uvf engvbanyvgl.

Comment author: chaosmosis 13 September 2012 04:15:40AM 7 points [-]

Something is definitely funny with Goyle. He's able to do martial arts, is extremely good with a broomstick, and doesn't trust Draco when Draco lies to him. At first, my interpretation was just that Goyle was much more capable in this version. That's still a possibility, but I feel like if that were the case then maybe Crabbe also would have been made more capable. I feel as though Goyle will do something important soon, definitely.

I even briefly entertained the possibility that Goyle was a Mary Sue, for about ten seconds, but that idea doesn't have anything to recommend it besides the humor of it.

Comment author: matheist 13 September 2012 06:43:54AM 11 points [-]

He also spent a long time with the sorting hat.

"Goyle, Gregory!" There was a long, tense moment of silence under the Hat. Almost a minute.

Chapter 9

Comment author: cultureulterior 03 May 2012 03:59:22PM 7 points [-]

I think that Salazar's Serpent was a trap Tom Riddle fell into. It was a Langford Basilisk Horcrux, like the book Ginny got in the original timeline, so When Tom Riddle read out the information embedded, he was possessed by Salazar Slytherin. That's why nppbeqvat gb Ibyqrzbeg/Evqqyr/Fnynmne vg frrzf gb unir whfg orra n terng frecrag, abg n onfvyvfx, juvpu vf whfg jung ur jbhyq fnl. Guvf nyfb rkcynvaf gur qnzntrq guvaxvat Uneel frrf.

This might well explain Harry as well, since in OT Voldemort had a giant serpent hanging around. He might not have had one in this timeline, but if he did, it would explain a lot of why he kept it around- it was a horcrux duplicator/imprinter.

Comment author: [deleted] 01 May 2012 04:08:35PM *  7 points [-]

In an attempt to find Quirrell's motives, I have listed the evidence I have about him, and now have a theory I have not seen on LessWrong or anywhere. I did it mostly mentally, but I'll try to put down all the evidence I took into account as unbiasedly as possible. I assume you know Quirrell = Voldemorte = Tom Riddle.

-Quirrell said Harry's wish was impossible. The wish was that Quirrell come back again the next year as the Defense Professor at Hogwarts. He also burned the paper on which the wish was written and he did not tell the audience what it was. If Quirrell intended to come back the next year, he would not have minded the question. Therefore, he is probably only staying a year, but he does not want most people to know.

-He took Harry's "Dark Side" explanation in stride, which normally should have sounded like a terrible excuse. He therefore probably knows something about it.

-Hermione claimed that Quirrell wanted the Dementor to eat Harry. I see no reason for Hermione to have lied. Quirrell stopped the Dementor's feeding after Harry had already turned to his Dark Side by telling Flitwick to remove the wand. After this event, Harry's sense of Doom grew stronger. I doubt that Harry's Dark Side coming out would have been a permanent change, however, simply He didn't seem to do much else to turn Harry dark, except making him say that his destroying of Skeeter was a good thing, and that can easily be explained by him being annoyed by Harry's whining. I take it from this that he wanted to get Harry's dark side out more, and that that was the intention behind the Dementor, but he's not trying to turn Harry evil per se. -Quirrell also seemed very eager to believe Harry would have the ambition of becoming a Dark Wizard. I take it from this that he expected Harry's Dark Side to have more control over him.

-He gave a speech stating that magical Britain should unite with a mark under a good leader, inferring that it should be Harry, and claimed that Harry's next speech which said the opposite was interfering with his plots. He also has helped the students of Hogwarts grow stronger and wiser. I therefore presume that he wants light strong, because he could just as easily have been a bad professor, given Hogwart's track record.

-He was able to go to Harry's house thanks to a phone book, which probably required Harry's Stepfather's last name to find. This means he couldn't have kidnapped Harry before meeting him in Hogwarts, but that he could if Harry went back home for the summer.

-He rescued Bellatrix Black from Azkaban, but tried to do so subtly, and it would probably have been impossible to save her without Harry learning the True Patronus, which was not predictable. I know 2 possible uses to Bellatrix: come back to life, or get his wand back. Quirrell had the opportunity to kidnap Harry and still have Bellatrix Black (right after they had saved her, he could have just not gone back to Mary's Place and taken Harry with him), which would have allowed him to come back to life in full strength, but he didn't take it. The plan was supposed to go unnoticed, but that failed, which made Dumbledore, Minerva, and Snape suspect Voldemorte is coming back, preventing Harry from going back home for the summer. He then wanted to make a plot that would make everyone believe Harry had defeated Voldemorte again, so I presume he doesn't plan on coming back as Voldemorte, at least not yet.

-Quirrell had an opportunity to kill Dumbledore (when he was weakened by the Dementor), but he didn't take it. His plan is therefore not to kill Dumbledore, or at least he needs to get other things done before killing him, and taking that opportunity would have prevented him from accomplishing them because he would have been ousted from Hogwarts.

-Quirrell knows how to get back to life by stealing a body, though it has negative side-effects that get worse over time.

-Harry and Quirrell are very similar in terms of wand, parseltongue, and they have some weird magical resonance, and a sense of doom when they approach each other.

-Quirrell has told Harry not to trust Dumbledore. After saying "I don't suppose you have a common enemy" to Harry, Hermione, and Draco, he glanced at Dumbledore almost imperceptibly fast. The only thing I can make of this is that he doesn't like Dumbledore.

-Quirrell blocked attempts to identify him by the aurors who knew he was not Quirrell, but the Hogwarts map couldn't find him when asked to find Tom Riddle, his true name. I'm thinking body-stealing makes you that person for all things linked to the name of the purpose, which would make the spell identify him as Quirrell. He doesn't want the aurors to identify him as such, however, because they already know that he's not Quirrell, unlike Dumbledore. Update: as moritz has pointed out, Quirrell wasn't there when Dumbledore asked the map to find Tom Riddle. I also assumed that Amelia Bones was referring to Tom Riddle when she was talking about a person sorted into slytherin in his same year, though Eliezer has confirmed that this is not so by changing the year of birth. So I have no evidence for this anymore. But come to think of it, even if the map would identify Quirrell as Tom Riddle, that probably means that Quirrell doesn't know about the map, and therefore he hasn't planned for it.

-Quirrell tried to get rid of Hermione. I don't think he intended to get rid of Draco, because he saved Draco from death, and had Harry not beaten all odds and saved Hermione, Draco would probably not have been removed from Hogwarts by his father. He probably expected her to go to Azkaban, but he would settle with her going to some far-away school. I can think of 2 motives for this: turn Harry to his Dark Side more, or get rid of Hermione (probably both).

So what is Quirrell plotting? I think he's planning on stealing Harry's body like he stole Quirrell's, at the end of the year when Harry goes back for the summer. He's been bringing out Harry's Dark Side, which he probably created inside Harry (maybe as a "horcrux", whatever that is), because that would allow him to better fit inside the body. He doesn't want to turn Harry evil, however; he wants to become the hero again as Harry Potter, and become the ruler of Britain under a light mark. He's also trying to harm Dumbledore, though, because he doesn't like him and is a threat. Maybe he has other motives as well for harming Dumbledore. He got rid of Hermione because she is the most likely to notice a change in Harry, and he didn't do it during the Christmas vacations because it would be suspicious if both Harry changed and the Defense Professor disappeared at the same time, unless it was summer and the professor disappeared because he left for normal reasons.

Update 1: I read some more comments, and I've noticed that some people think Quirrell crippled Harry by turning him into an Occlumens and teaching him to lose. I disagree. Harry learned to pretend to lose, not to give up. I think this was more a measure to prevent Harry from self-destructing himself like he almost did when fighting Snape. And Harry becoming Occlumens, while preventing him from testifying under veritasaerum, was probably mostly to allow Quirrell to use Harry in his plots without the danger of Dumbledore legilimensing something important.

Update 2: It's interesting that I used an euphemism for the word "hate" when describing Quirrell's relationship with Dumbledore. The word "hate" just felt too strong to describe any emotion Quirrell could have towards others. Quirrell is far too good a manipulator, he even makes me feel as though he's too collected and calm to actually hate anyone.

Comment author: moritz 02 May 2012 12:42:58PM 4 points [-]

but the Hogwarts map couldn't find him when asked to find Tom Riddle, his true name.

Note that Quirrel was at the Ministry for Magic for interrogation while Dumbledore used the map to search for Riddle.

Comment author: DanArmak 06 May 2012 12:55:56AM 2 points [-]

I think he's planning on stealing Harry's body like he stole Quirrell's, at the end of the year when Harry goes back for the summer.

Harry isn't going home for the summer.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 May 2012 05:46:33PM 2 points [-]

I know that, but he was originally going to go home for the summer. Harry has accidentally foiled it by messing up in Azkaban and effectively forcing himself to stay in Hogwarts, but that doesn't change what Quirrell's plan was in the first place. So now Quirrell will either need to find a way to remove Voldemorte from Dumbledore's fears, or come up with a new plan altogether. I guess I should have been more clear in my comment, sorry about that.

Comment author: gwern 18 April 2012 02:56:52AM *  19 points [-]

The introspective morality-dump chapters are not my favorites (eg. I find the 'imagine distant descendants' to be entirely useless intuitively, and would prefer versions of the update-now argument which are more like 'decide now how you would update your beliefs based on predictions you make now failing or succeeding, since once they actually fail or succeed you'll be embarrassed & biased'), but oh well let's begin analysis.

A year ago, Dad had gone to the Australian National University in Canberra for a conference where he'd been an invited speaker, and he'd taken Mum and Harry along. And they'd all visited the National Museum of Australia, because, it had turned out, there was basically nothing else to do in Canberra. The glass display cases had shown rock-throwers crafted by the Australian aborigines - like giant wooden shoehorns, they'd looked, but smoothed and carved and ornamented with the most painstaking care. In the 40,000 years since anatomically modern humans had migrated to Australia from Asia, nobody had invented the bow-and-arrow. It really made you appreciate how non-obvious was the idea of Progress. Why would you even think of Invention as something important, if all your history's heroic tales were of great warriors and defenders instead of Thomas Edison? How could anyone possibly have suspected, while carving a rock-thrower with painstaking care, that someday human beings would invent rocket ships and nuclear energy?

This is actually a pretty bad example. The Australians and New Guineans etc. were not necessarily incompetent (witness the boomerang, or the independent invention of the blow-gun), and specifically, throwing-sticks (atlatl) are really fearsome weapons which can throw darts or rocks insane distances more comparable to English longbows than anything else. Throwing sticks for spears were in military use in ancient Greece or Egypt, areas which always had bows-and-arrows.

A better example would be Tasmania and technology it lost, like making fire.

In a land where Muggleborns received no letters of any kind

This would seem to indicate Harry over-estimated the magnitude of his inference in the early chapters about the implication of so few Muggleborns at Hogwarts, but immediately raises the question of what do those lands do with their Muggleborns.

Finally:

She came awake with a gasp of horror, she woke with an unvoiced scream on her lips and no words came forth

Sybil is now definitely the bearer of at least one unvoiced prophecy, and if I'm counting right, at least two - she woke up without speaking in some earlier chapter as well.

Comment author: drethelin 18 April 2012 03:04:12AM 3 points [-]

My theory would be they just have some weird powers and never really find out what it means to be a wizard. Various Mediums are probably unknowing Muggleborns.

Comment author: Vaniver 18 April 2012 05:18:59AM 6 points [-]

This would seem to indicate Harry over-estimated the magnitude of his inference in the early chapters about the implication of so few Muggleborns at Hogwarts, but immediately raises the question of what do those lands do with their Muggleborns.

Burn them.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 18 April 2012 06:23:46AM *  7 points [-]

If you knew that a woman in your village was communing via socially unapproved rituals with a transhuman intelligence of unknown nature and preferences, would you convince your village to burn her to death? Ideally you'd just use the Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol, but then her own soul remains at risk—burning her alive at least gives her strong incentive to repent.

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 April 2012 06:43:02AM 14 points [-]

Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol

But where would we get that many D-class personnel?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 18 April 2012 03:02:50AM 4 points [-]

While it is clear that the Tasmanian aborigines did lose a lot of technological know-how, there's some dispute over whether they actually lost fire. Unfortunately, I don't have a great source for this. The claim is sourced in the relevant Wikipedia article, but the citation is to a dead-link.

Comment author: gwern 18 April 2012 03:08:00AM 4 points [-]

As I pointed out to the person who brought that up in the discussion I linked, the dispute is pretty desperate pleading.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 18 April 2012 03:13:33AM 7 points [-]

Hmm, reading your argument there I'm convinced. The tertiary nature of the sources claiming they had fire-making, combined with the well-documented preservation of fires are both pretty strong arguments.

Comment author: Eneasz 02 June 2012 05:32:02AM *  18 points [-]

In Ch. 7, the Harry-and-Draco conversation needs to be toned down even further because multiple parents have announced their intention to have their children read this fanfic – and I know that revision is going to be controversial, but Draco’s current conversation is also a little out-of-character by the standards of the Draco in later chapters.

I am very saddened by this. Chapter 7 was what really hooked me into the story. Half of it was Harry's incredible "This is why science ROCKS" speech, which is still one of my most favorite monologues ever. And half of it is the pure emotional shock of hearing an 11-year-old boy casually say he plans to rape a 10-year-old girl. It had an immediate physical effect on me, and the after-effects lingered for the rest of the day. The fact that it came so out of the blue in such an unexpected setting... it was damned effective. I will be very sad to see it go.

This raises a question for me - I know of at least one 11 year old reading this story. Sometimes kids read things above their grade level, and are exposed to concepts earlier than usual (I suspect that happened to almost everyone on LW). So... is HPMoR intended primarily for adult audiences, or for children? Considering the level of the writing, the many concepts that are probably too complex for most children, and the entirety of the Azkaban arc... isn't it fair to say that this is a work aimed at adults? And if so, should it really be diluted because some children will also get their hands on it? Can you imagine if your favorite dark/disturbing anime was trimmed to fit a PG rating because kids would end up seeing it?

Comment author: NihilCredo 02 June 2012 08:36:16AM *  13 points [-]

Strongly agree with this.

I have no problem with making Draco's character more consistent, and if Eliezer honestly feels that that should mean removing or altering his casual dehumanisation of peasants, so be it.

But I urge Eliezer to seriously ask himself, with all his strength as a rationalist, about this and any other changes: "Would this be sacrificing the quality of the narrative for the sake of making a very, very mature story superficially more marketable to children?"

And yes, I feel those apparently charged words are wholly appropriate: removing a rape reference is just a terribly superficial way of making the story 'kid-friendly', because it isn't kid-friendly in much, much deeper ways. If a kid isn't ready to know what 'rape' means, would you want him to read Chapter 82? Or the Bellatrix chapters? If anything the rape reference in Ch. 7 works as an excellent gatekeeper, filtering the audience before the really disturbing stuff begins to kick in.

Comment author: roystgnr 09 June 2012 03:08:37AM 5 points [-]

Leading HPMoR's list of kid-unfriendly points: the question "what extenuating circumstances could make it right to torture an innocent person to death" is integral to the plot. Even if everything else that can be mangled into a toned-down version is so mangled, the result will merely be more artistically compromised, not more kid-friendly.

On the other hand, the definition of kid-friendly keeps changing. The Hunger Games trilogy includes (somewhat indirect, but still quite clear) references to prostitution (both in poverty-induced despair and as a result of human trafficking), as the cherry on top of the whole "children being forced to murder each other" plot line.

I would still suggest changing the rape reference for character consistency reasons. At least, Draco shouldn't think of it as "rape" - ISTR studies show that even real life rapists typically find some "she was asking for it" rationalization for their attitudes. MoR:Draco does an excellent job rationalizing pro-Death-eater attitudes later in the fic. A pro-rape rationalization might be different in that Harry ought to be able to see through something so appalling immediately, but from Draco's PoV there ought to be some self-justifying framing to it.

Comment author: someonewrongonthenet 18 December 2012 07:30:45PM *  3 points [-]

One thing is clear...hpmor's Harry probably wouldn't approve of toning things down in a story just because children might here it.

The danger of exposing children is that they might get into misguided ideas, or get damaged by the exposure. The average child has heard rape jokes, so they aren't going to be damaged reading about someone talking about rape. Keep in mind, in this story we hear about murder and graphic depictions of both fantasy and realistic torture...removing the rape line is not going to make this that much more child friendly.

Nor will they get misguided ideas from that line, since it is clear that those types of statements are not acceptable and are the hallmark of evil people.

Really, the only people benefiting from the removal are the parents, who don't have to worry about awkward questions.

Comment author: major 02 June 2012 04:41:01PM *  6 points [-]

Re: revisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment author: wgd 15 May 2012 04:49:51AM *  6 points [-]

Has there been any serious discussion of the implications of portraits? I couldn't find any with some cursory googling, but I'll be really surprised if it hasn't been discussed here yet. I can't entirely remember which of these things are canon and which are various bits of fanfiction, but:

  • You can take someone's portrait without them explicitly helping, as evidenced in canon by at least one photograph of someone being arrested, whose picture in the newspaper is continually struggling and screaming at the viewer. I don't remember which book this was or any of the particulars unfortunately, but I'm pretty certain it's a thing that was in one of them. Or maybe one of the movies. Moving on.
  • They can perform simple tasks of short-term memory and carry on a coherent conversation.
  • They can walk from picture to picture to communicate with each other.
  • They can operate simple mechanisms in some way. In canon, the door to Gryffindor Tower is a portrait, which requires a password before opening.

As far as I can tell, portraits in the Harry Potter universe would be a gigantic game-breaker if it weren't for all the other game-breakers overshadowing them. I suppose it's possible to mitigate this (maybe a picture carries less of the "person" compared to a portrait for which they have to sit for hours) but if that's not the case, portraits appear to be essentially a way of involuntarily uploading a copy of someone and enslaving them for all eternity, and all you need is knowledge of what they look like and a modicum of artistic ability.

edit: Oh crap, in MoR they ask portraits questions about knowledge they would have had before being painted, like "what spells did they teach you as a first year" and "did you know a married squib couple". So you're not just getting a basic "human" imprint, you're getting that specific person.

And on the flip side of that, not all the portraits in Hogwarts are necessarily real people. What moral weight does a newly-created personality in a portrait have?

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 May 2012 02:06:29AM 2 points [-]

I was under the impression that portraits were sort of like the sorting hat.

Comment author: matheist 13 May 2012 01:17:20AM 6 points [-]

Ng gigebcrf, rl fnlf, "V gubhtug crbcyr jrer tbvat gb trg "gur cybg" sebz Pu. 1-3, cbffvoyl Pu. 1, naq guvf jnf gur Vyyhfvba bs Genafcnerapl", naq yngre "Ru, lbh'yy frr jung V'z gnyxvat nobhg nsgre lbh ernq gur svany nep naq gura ernq Puncgre 1 ntnva."

What would a hypothesis about the end of the story look like which uses only information from chapter 1?

Claim: Harry's war with Voldemort will destroy the world. Support: In Chapter 1, Petunia says about Lily's reasons for not making her pretty, "And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to ..." Suppose Lily really did say those things, and believed them, and that there was the force of a prophecy behind them. If Lily hadn't made Petunia pretty, Petunia would not have married Michael Verres, and Harry would not have grown up with science and math and sci-fi (and the attendant humanism) and rationality. A much weaker Harry would have attended Hogwarts, and fought Voldemort, and presumably would have lost. The world would survive, albeit under Voldemort's thumb.

As a result of Petunia being made pretty, Harry grew up around books that made him strong, strong enough to pose a credible challenge to Voldemort. If they're evenly matched, and fight to the death, then they take the world down with them.


This feels consistent with the events in the story so far, but it doesn't really seem that the story is driving towards this conclusion. Except most recently, with the ominous feelings from the various seers following (caused by? who knows) Harry's ominous resolution in chapter 85.

But it's all I've got for a prediction that's consistent with the events thus far and is foreshadowed in chapter 1.

Comment author: gjm 13 May 2012 11:32:51PM 4 points [-]

If Harry's going to end the world, surely a more likely way -- especially given the author's known interests and opinions -- is by bringing about the magical world's equivalent of a Singularity? MoR!Harry is on record (albeit not in chapters 1-3) as wanting to take over the world and, er, optimize it. There are suggestions elsewhere that terrible things have happened in the past on account of over-powerful magic. (Again, not in chapters 1-3.) Centaurs and other purveyors of prophecy might dread this even if the singularity ends up being a good one, because it would be a point beyond which they wouldn't be able to see anything.

Another possibility -- which again could reasonably be said to be heavily foreshadowed, if it comes to pass, but not in the first few chapters: Harry is somehow going to put an end to magic. (He wants to do away with Azkaban by any means possible, no matter how drastic. He's already explicitly considered the question of which side he'd be on if it came down to muggles versus wizards, and decided for the muggles.)

I don't assign a terribly high probability to either of these. There seems to be no shortage of mutually incompatible outcomes with a certain degree of foreshadowing, and if there's a good way to decide between them then I haven't spotted it yet.

Comment author: Randaly 13 May 2012 11:42:52PM 2 points [-]

However, Eliezer has said that he doesn't plan on putting a Singularity in the story.

Comment author: 75th 13 May 2012 02:12:27AM *  4 points [-]

I've always suspected that Petunia's paraphrases there of Lily are mostly true — that's a contributing factor to my believing that some level of apocalypse is in the story's future — but just guessing that Really Bad Stuff is going to happen seems a far cry from us "getting 'the plot' " from Chapter 1, or chapters 1 through 3.

Neither the remainder of Chapter 1 nor the whole of Chapter 2 seem to have any significant hints. In Chapter 3, here is what I can see that might have hidden meaning:

"I had the strangest feeling that I knew him..." Harry rubbed his forehead. "And that I shouldn't ought to shake his hand." Like meeting someone who had been a friend, once, before something went drastically wrong... that wasn't really it at all, but Harry couldn't find words.

Maybe we were supposed to get more out of this at the time? Perhaps we were supposed to infer that Quirrell or one of his alter egos had been an up-and-coming hero?

The Killing Curse is formed of pure hate, and strikes directly at the soul, severing it from the body. It cannot be blocked. The only defense is not to be there.

Maybe, contrary to my previous protestations, we are supposed to believe that Harry wasn't really hit with Avada Kedavra?

(And somewhere in the back of his mind was a small, small note of confusion, a sense of something wrong about that story; and it should have been a part of Harry's art to notice that tiny note, but he was distracted. For it is a sad rule that whenever you are most in need of your art as a rationalist, that is when you are most likely to forget it.)

I'd always chalked this up as being the revelation Harry has at the end of the Humanism arc: that Dark Lords don't usually go after infant children, and that there must be an important reason why Voldemort did. But maybe there's something more to it.

…Or, conversely, maybe we have already figured out the stuff Eliezer was referring to, we just didn't figure it out as early as he expected. Matheist, do you have a link to that quote? I couldn't find it by ⌘Fing Methods's TV Tropes pages.


(Does anyone else find it really weird to read "EY" as a reference to Eliezer? It always reads to me like a Spivak pronoun with faulty verb agreement.)

Comment author: matheist 13 May 2012 05:20:27AM *  3 points [-]

Caution, possible spoilers, in the form of comments about the guessability (or lack thereof) of the plot. First quote and second quote.

I always assumed that the note of confusion was, "How could anyone possibly know what spells the dark lord cast, and what the effects were, if there were no survivors besides a baby".

Comment author: 75th 13 May 2012 07:30:49PM *  6 points [-]

Hmm. It occurs to me that Harry's life in chapters 1 and 2 bears some similarities to Tom Riddle's life from canon. Both their mothers used potions to make their fathers love them; both their fathers thought magic was disgraceful; the Deputy Head of Hogwarts visited both of them, showed them magic, made them thirsty for knowledge of magic, and warned them against unacceptable behavior that both of them had exhibited in the past; both of them always knew they were extraordinary, and were proved right when magic came into their lives.

…but even if all that is intentional, which it almost certainly is, I still don't see what we're supposed to infer about the entire plot. Is Harry going to grow up, murder his family, create six Horcruxes, and hide them where someone can easily find them and destroy them?

I always assumed that the note of confusion was, "How could anyone possibly know what spells the dark lord cast, and what the effects were, if there were no survivors besides a baby".

That makes quite a bit more sense, and should in fact have been incredibly obvious. I didn't start reading Methods until the hiatus following the Stanford Prison Experiment arc, and I didn't start thinking and theorizing until after I'd read all those chapters twice, so I didn't approach the question with a properly blank slate.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 31 July 2012 07:43:21PM 4 points [-]

The most frustrating part of that note of confusion lies in the magic of the world, I think. What is actually possible to do with magic? What do witches and wizards think is possible? What does Harry think is possible?

Let me illustrate by looking at the question that you brought up:

How could anyone possibly know what spells the dark lord cast, and what the effects were, if there were no survivors besides a baby?

Prior Incantato: If they got their hands on Voldemort's wand, then they could see that he cast the Killing Curse. This would be weak evidence indeed, but it is possible to see what he cast. They did not recover Voldemort's wand, but Harry doesn't know this. Canon and MoR founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Legilimency: A somewhat popular fan theory for canon, Dumbledore could have read baby Harry's mind right afterwards. Canon and MoR founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Curse Scar: A lot of people make a huge deal out of the scar that Harry has. They seem to feel that it was created from surviving exposure to the Killing Curse, though how that would be known when he was the first ever is something of a mystery. Perhaps because it registers similarly to scars left behind by other Dark curses, at least in terms of being unhealable. See residue. Somewhat canon-founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Divination/Scrying/Past-Viewing: It might be possible to remotely view the scene, to see what happened, from the past, in real time, or in the future. Divination is real, though it seems to be more cryptic than that, Scrying seems to be unknown, but Past-viewing is clearly not possible after what happened with Hermione, though Harry doesn’t know this yet. Partially founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Wards: Clearly whatever wards they put up in addition to the Fidelius Charm (because in a more competent world, they shouldn't have had a single point of failure) did not keep Voldemort out, but that didn't mean that the monitoring aspects had to have died. It's possible that there's a magical video of the whole thing, or a record of what spells were cast where and when. Primarily speculative. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

Killing Curse residue: Perhaps one way that they could distinguish if the Killing Curse was involved in a death is by checking the bodies to see if there is a residue left over on the corpse. If Harry has the residue but is still alive, that would be strong evidence. Speculative. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible.

And this is just what I thought up in a few minutes. Harry could have multitudes of ideas about how magic works and what it could do, but until he learns something, he has no idea of what’s possible. How could the question be “how do they know?” when there are so many different possibilities of how they could know? We're not really much better, because though we have a leg up from canon, MoR has already changed some of the rules.

Comment author: Macaulay 18 April 2012 05:26:42AM 6 points [-]

Harry thought the deepest split in his personality wasn't anything to do with his dark side; rather it was the divide between the altruistic and forgiving Abstract Reasoning Harry, versus the frustrated and angry Harry In The Moment.

This as well as the distant descendants part seems to draw on Robin's near vs. far theory.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 April 2012 05:25:42AM 6 points [-]

I was a bit surprised to not see the "many who die deserve life" quote from Tolkien, but perhaps that one is about deciding to kill prisoners or not.

Comment author: V2Blast 18 April 2012 06:43:28AM 3 points [-]

While it is relevant to Harry's desire not to have to kill, it was not as related as the other quotes were to his struggle between idealism and realism in fighting a war.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 18 April 2012 02:47:18AM *  6 points [-]

Andromeda is not the closest galaxy. The closest currently known galaxy is the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy but this wasn't known until after the story took place. However, others were known at about this time such as the Large Magellanic Cloud which is only visible from the Southern Hemisphere but has been known for centuries, or Draco Dwarf which you can see with a good telescope in the Northern Hemisphere. Andromeda is however the only one that is easily visible and very large in the Northern Hemisphere.

Comment author: avichapman 06 December 2012 02:11:26AM 5 points [-]

I was re-listening to the podcast of Chapter 20 (Bayes's Theorem) when I was struck by an idea. It builds on another idea I heard in this same forum. The original idea was that Quirrel had Horcruxed the Pioneer plaque and that, due to the nature of magic, his Horcrux passing beyond a distance of 6 light hours would lead to his death due to a limitation on magic's ability to affect things more than 6 hours into the past - which would be needed for faster than light communications.

Having now re-listened to that chapter, I've picked up some new clues. Harry had made the suggestion that it might be possible to add an entire human mind's worth of information to the Pioneer plaque by creating a portrait or arranging for a terminally ill person's ghost to be attached to it before launch. Quirrel of course denied that he had done anything like that through a bit of misdirection. This leads many to speculate that he had Horcruxed the probe, downloading a copy of himself into it for posterity.

I had the idea that perhaps he downloaded himself into the probe and then started to operate his body by remote control. When his body goes limp, it's because he's not at the 'controls' at that moment. Once the probe passes beyond 6 light hours, it will become impossible for him to continue to tele-operate his body any longer and he will be trapped on the probe for the rest of its flight time. I believe he is revealing an important clue in the following paragraph:

"Sometimes," Professor Quirrell said in a voice so quiet it almost wasn't there, "when this flawed world seems unusually hateful, I wonder whether there might be some other place, far away, where I should have been. I cannot seem to imagine what that place might be, and if I can't even imagine it then how can I believe it exists? And yet the universe is so very, very wide, and perhaps it might exist anyway? But the stars are so very, very far away. It would take a long, long time to get there, even if I knew the way. And I wonder what I would dream about, if I slept for a long, long time..."

Is he contemplating the eons that await him while the probe moves on to 'some other place'? Does he plan to put his mind on hold, to sleep, for most of that flight time?

Comment author: matheist 13 December 2012 04:24:27AM 3 points [-]

Very clever idea! But it doesn't pan out, sadly. I just checked on Wolfram-Alpha. The distance from the earth to Pioneer 11 on the Ides of May, 1992, Quirrell's presumed last day of class, is actually 4.84 light hours, not 6.

Some experimenting on W-A shows that Pioneer 11 passes 6 light hours around August 25, 1995.

Comment author: MBlume 19 April 2012 05:23:01AM 5 points [-]

Wondering how Dumbledore knew Harry was planning on reformulated Quidditch. Seems possible that he was just on the platform.

On a related note, it occurs to me that we should just assume there's two Dumbledores running around any time anything important happens. No immediate consequences leap out at me, though =/

Comment author: CronoDAS 18 April 2012 03:50:38AM 5 points [-]

What is the Anansi the Spider quote from? Anansi the Spider is a character from mythology and folklore, so it's not as obvious as the others... is it Neil Gaiman, or some other source?

Comment author: gwern 18 April 2012 04:07:55AM 3 points [-]

I'm a pretty big Gaiman fan, but I don't recognize it from either Sandman or Anansi Boys, nor do I see anything in Google Books.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 April 2012 01:01:52PM 4 points [-]

Web of Angels.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 15 July 2012 09:41:53AM 4 points [-]

Pox on ninja edits. I liked the Ghostbusters' song. :(

And I liked it when Quirrel said the single most dangerous monster in all the world was "The adult wizard".

Wonder how many more happened that I haven't noticed yet.

Comment author: 75th 18 July 2012 12:26:54AM *  7 points [-]

"The adult wizard" was changed quite a while before the most recent round of retcons. Most of the other changes I can understand, even the removal of Ghostbusters, but this one seems completely indefensible. He's listing species that are dangerous, so it makes more sense to use a biology-type word like "adult".

And as Quirrell is perfectly open later on in telling everyone that he believes Harry wishes to become a Dark Lord, and also that he still wishes to teach Harry how to defeat his foes, there's no reason for him to put on false airs and claim that all the students present will have Dark Wizards as their enemies. He even took "Defense Against Dark" out of the class's name for crying out loud!

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 18 July 2012 07:04:51AM *  3 points [-]

If you can understand the removal of Ghostbusters, please explain it to me. There's nothing entertaining about that part of the chapter any more.

I mean, I do know that some people in the reviews were unhappy with how 'now it's a songfic', but others liked it - I certainly did, it was funny to imagine - and at least the scene made sense. While now you have people just shouting Harry Potter! out of the blue, and basically everything happening and everyone reacting exactly as before for little apparent reason.

Comment author: 75th 19 July 2012 06:30:44AM 2 points [-]

I agree that the new scene seems very awkward, though I'm not sure whether I would have thought so if I weren't already familiar with the old version.

Eliezer has said that some people would have "massively bad associations" to songs in fanfics. I don't read fan fiction in general, so I have no idea what he's specifically referring to. But, err, given the interactions I've had with fandom people, I can definitely imagine them being utterly unable to see past their preconceived notions and snap judgments to logically evaluate a given scene on its own merits and subtleties.

Comment author: CronoDAS 19 July 2012 07:28:48AM 3 points [-]

He got a LOT of complaints in the reviews about the Ghostbusters song.

Comment author: Locke 18 July 2012 06:19:36AM 3 points [-]

Yeah, I'd really like to know Eliezer's reasoning here. What are the possible advantages of this change?

I suppose it is technically more accurate, since not all adult wizards are more dangerous than Dementors or Trolls. Dark Wizards, on the other hand, specifically train to be so.

Comment author: cultureulterior 02 June 2012 07:25:47PM 4 points [-]

The deeper problem in Ch. 6 is that Harry’s conflict with Professor McGonagall looks too much like a victory – it is a major flaw of Methods that Harry doesn’t lose hard until Ch. 10, so he must at least not win too much before then. That’s the part I’m working on at this very instant.

Strongly disagree with this. That's the bit that caused me to continue reading. Luckily, I have the raw text downloaded, and can make my own canonical printed version.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 22 May 2012 07:39:30PM 4 points [-]

I just reread this bit, while Harry and Quirrel are discussing where to hide things:

Or ideally you would launch it into space, with a cloak against detection, and a randomly fluctuating acceleration factor that would take it out of the Solar System.

I just noticed that this could be the in-world cause of the Cvbarre Rssrpg.

Comment author: 75th 20 May 2012 02:50:41AM *  4 points [-]

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line...

(black robes, falling)

...blood spills out in liters, and someone screams a word.

That, of course, appears before the start of Chapter 1. It's gotten a lot of attention and a lot of speculation. Clearly it depicts something that happened in the past, or that will happen in the future, and we'll all get lots and lots of goosebumps when we figure out what it is.

But that passage has a little brother that I haven't seen anyone talk about. Before the start of Chapter 2, we get this:

"Of course it was my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything."

That doesn't sound that significant. It sounds like Harry Potter, to be sure, but it sounds like it could happen anywhere. The little blurbs before the chapters that follow do appear in those chapters, or at least in chapters nearby (I believe the Chapter 3 blurb appears in Chapter 6, and most of the rest appear in the body of the chapter they preface).

But this one does not. As far as I can tell with both grep and Google, this passage has not yet appeared in the story, 84 chapters later. Clearly it either (a) slipped Eliezer's mind and hasn't been revised in his several retcon binges, or (b) is way more important than it sounds.

To me, if I accept that this line must be important, it maybe sounds like something Harry would say after doing something really dark and evil, while he's in the depths of his Dark Side. Like, something horrible happens and it's not 100% clear that he did it, or someone like Dumbledore is in disbelief that he did it, and instead of denying it he just says "Of course it was me, idiot, who else?" Or maybe it's after he's out of his Dark Side, he realizes what he's done, and instead of trying to save himself he's just completely numb and confesses in a monotone.

EDIT: Or it might be Quirrell, sarcastically referring to everyone else's suspicion that all bad things must be the Defense Professor's fault. If so he's probably either confessing for real because he's beyond caring whether people know, or maybe he's hiding the truth in plain sight with false irony.

But I haven't been around for very long, so it's possible that people have whole edifices of theory about this quote and just don't talk about it because it's old news. Has it been talked about? If so, what's been guessed? If not, what do y'all think?

Comment author: grautry 20 May 2012 04:28:29PM *  7 points [-]

What it reminds me the most of is Harry's discussion with Hermione about the need for heroic responsibility - about always shouldering the responsibility for any final outcome of events, instead of thinking that your job is done when you, say, go to Professor McGonagall and tell her to do something about it.

My guess(though I wouldn't assign a very high probability to this) is that it will be uttered by Harry while he's away from anyone he considers to be sane or responsible(like, say, Quirrell) and he fails to prevent something tragic from happening. A more specific hypothesis: Quirrell's identity is revealed by him doing something unspeakably evil and Harry blames himself for not piercing the disguise earlier.

Comment author: CuSithBell 20 May 2012 04:47:56AM *  4 points [-]

Hm. Personally, I read that as how Harry sees everything that goes wrong - every poor choice that he allows other people to make, every tragedy he didn't adequately anticipate - as expressed, among other places, in his discussions in Diagon Alley with McGonagall about the difficulties growing up smarter than his parents and the potential necessity of a magical first aid kit. But yes, now that you mention it, it certainly could be something to be echoed darkly in the endgame - though I am likewise unaware of the potential edifices of theory surrounding it.

Comment author: Yuu 12 May 2012 06:33:27PM *  4 points [-]

Chapter 23:

If Harry is correct about how magic is inherited, this idea can bring some interesting issues in future chapters. Short resume of Harry's idea: there are recessive magic gene (M) and dominant non-magic gene (N). Magic users have two magic genes (MM), and pair of them are needed to work with magic. Squibs have one magic gene (MN) and muggles have two non-magic genes (NN) all of them can't do magic.

First, how squibs appears? Actually people with MN genes can live between muggles because muggle-borg wizards and witches are born from parents with MN genes. But let's just do not call them squibs. Real squibs are born from couples of witch and wizard and both parents have MM genes. N gene can appear here as a result of mutation only.

Second, half-breeds exist. Magic-users can have children from giants, goblins, veela and, possibly, some other creatures. These half-breed can use magic, and there are two possibilities: they have MM genes or they have some m gene. m gene should be recessive gene, when appears with M gene, because according to HP wiki all known half-breeds can use magic. So half-breeds have MM or Mm genes.

What can Harry do with all these things? He can come with some eugenic proposal how to increase number of wizards, this may even help to make relationship with Lucius better. He can just find this M gene and connect it to the source of magic. But I'm not sure, that Harry will have time for all these, he may have more important goals. I hope he can delegate some of these studies to somebody else, for example, to Draco.

By the way, can Polyjuiced person become pregnant and give birth?

Comment author: matheist 09 May 2012 10:38:03PM 4 points [-]

If I were Quirrell, and I wanted Hermione out of Hogwarts, and Dumbledore has warded her against magic, and I failed to convince her to leave, what would I try next?

I would identify those people who have the most influence over her, and attempt to convince them to convince her to leave. Who have we seen to have influence over her? By "influence", I mean that she respects them or might for some reason listen to them. Harry, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Mandy, her parents.

Quirrell likely won't be able to (or won't attempt to) talk Dumbledore, McGonagall, or Flitwick into persuading Hermione to leave. He can put pressure on Harry. Putting pressure on Mandy (either with mind magic or just psychology) might also be effective. Some interrogation techniques involve prolonged deprivation followed by small kindnesses. If everyone hates Hermione, a single friendly face could persuade her to do what she otherwise might not.

He could arrange for Hermione's parents to learn of the events. As McGonagall points out in ch 84, and as Hermione later thinks to herself during her chat with Quirrell, "Mum would want her to RUN AWAY and her father would have a heart attack if he even knew she was being faced with the question."

What other avenues does Quirrell have, besides persuasion? "Hostile magic" and a "spirit [touching]" her would be detected. Can he slip her a potion? Attack her physically? Use non-hostile magic, whatever that might be? Convince her to hex herself? Use hostile magic on someone else force them to attack her physically?

Comment author: Desrtopa 11 May 2012 03:05:46PM 2 points [-]

If I were Quirrell, and I wanted Hermione out of Hogwarts, and Dumbledore has warded her against magic, and I failed to convince her to leave, what would I try next?

I would identify those people who have the most influence over her, and attempt to convince them to convince her to leave. Who have we seen to have influence over her? By "influence", I mean that she respects them or might for some reason listen to them. Harry, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Mandy, her parents.

Shouldn't that depend on why he wants her to leave? If I were Quirrell, and I were trying to isolate Harry without him suspecting I was trying to isolate him, I would not encourage him to make the people around him leave. I also wouldn't want to do anything that would risk making the other professors unnecessarily suspicious.

Comment author: SkyDK 18 April 2012 01:27:18PM *  4 points [-]

Prediction time!

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll feel forced to kill Quirrel: 0.2 > p > 0.15 [UPDATED from 0.1 > p > 0.05]

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll feel forced to kill Dumbledore: 0.12 > p > 0.08

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll end up killing the wrong person (bad judgement call on Harry's behalf): 0.15 > p > 0.1

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll end up killing the wrong person (bad execution on Harry's behalf): 0.1 > p > 0.05

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll not kill the right bad guy at the right time hence become indirectly responsible for the deaths of innocents: 0.3 > p > 0.2

  • Please add and/or comment on predictions.

Comment author: kilobug 18 April 2012 01:51:34PM 4 points [-]

Your probabilities seem way too low to me. Just one chance in 10 that because of the vow he'll be forced to kill the one we have many evidence to believe he's the arch-enemy ? Can you elaborate the reasons why you put such a low probability to that ?

Comment author: DanArmak 18 April 2012 04:15:08PM *  5 points [-]

I don't think he can kill Quirrel. Certainly not without a very cunning plan and Dumbledore at his side. And vice versa.

ETA: by vice versa I meant he can't kill Dumbledore without Quirrel's help.

I'm sure Quirrel could kill Harry very easily if he so desired.

Comment author: SkyDK 18 April 2012 03:37:44PM *  3 points [-]

Yes, of course. First of all, I just updated it to 0.15-0.20. This might actually be a bit high, but I've set it higher than what I feel is right due to my bias (consisting of Eliezer finding a more interesting way of writing the story).

It is "so low" due to the following:

  • a) I believe that Quirrel is not seeking a physical confrontation with Harry (earlier we saw him toss Harry a knut (that could have been a portkey to a volcano))

  • a.1.) Harry wouldn't win such a confrontation (a sneak attack would of course be much more likely to get the job done)

  • a.2.) If there is a confrontation and if that confrontation ends with the death of Quirrel, I expect the wands or Lily's ritual to be the deciding factor, not any action of Harry's.

  • b) I consider it most probable that Quirrel tries to turn Harry to his ways (0.6 < p < 0.5)

  • b.1) Harry might try to counter-turn Quirrel. I do doubt though that this will end with one of them dying. Killing one another seems so irrational...

  • c) if Harry decides Quirrel must die, he'd do better using henchmen

[I'm now officially not a fan of the editing options here]

Comment author: kilobug 18 April 2012 04:40:48PM 3 points [-]

Thanks, I think part of my surprise was from a different understanding of "he'll feel forced to kill Quirrel", to me that means "he'll take the decision of trying to kill Quirrel, using whatever indirect plan, surprise, henchmen, ... in the process", not just a one-to-one fight in which Harry kills Quirrel (like the way he kills Voldemort in the cannon). I agree the probability of such one-to-one fight is quite low.

Comment author: Nominull 18 April 2012 02:38:48AM *  8 points [-]

Isn't Harry a little young to have played Fate/Stay Night, both in the sense of it being a Japanese porno game not suitable for 11-year-olds and it not having been made yet when the story is set?

EDIT: Clearly this is intended as a hint that he has the time-traveling adult Voldemort's memories implanted in him.

Comment author: 75th 18 April 2012 02:52:22AM *  6 points [-]

According to canon, the original PlayStation was available in 1993. So if certain electronic media are available earlier in the MoR universe, it's only a slight embellishment of an existing canon discrepancy.

Comment author: Randaly 18 April 2012 04:57:21AM 9 points [-]

Eliezer isn't bothering to consider publication dates, and has ignored them in the past- eg Barbour's The End of Time wasn't published until 1999, yet Harry still knows timeless physics.

Comment author: Desrtopa 18 April 2012 04:07:52PM 4 points [-]

Eliezer has said that he's giving a pass to any science in the story, but I don't think he's applied that policy to all fiction Harry has consumed. In the Azkaban break, Eliezer noted that Harry was quoting from the trailer of a movie (Army of Darkness,) which hadn't been released yet, and in the tvtropes discussion thread, he attested that he had checked the chronology of the trailer.

Comment author: NihilCredo 18 April 2012 03:45:25AM 11 points [-]

Those are very valid objections, but since the phrase "great works of literature like Hamlet or Fate/Stay Night" constantly causes hilarious overreactions whenever I link Three Worlds Collide around, I'm entirely supportive of Eliezer taking liberties for this purpose.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 18 April 2012 02:57:07AM 7 points [-]

You can always imagine that in the HPMoR fictional universe, Fate/Stay Night came out in some form much earlier -- same way that variations of 'Gargoyles' and "Death Note" seem to have been wizardly entertainment earlier than their real counterparts came out in the real world....

Anyway, it's not really useful to fuss about the chronology of fictional references too much, either from the point of view of the readers, nor from the point of view of the author...

Comment author: Desrtopa 18 April 2012 04:11:09PM 8 points [-]

Personally, I find shout-outs less jarring than straight out references to Harry having consumed fiction that shouldn't exist yet. The Tragedy of Light isn't Death Note, it's The Tragedy of Light, even if the real life inspiration is obviously Death Note.

Comment author: David_Gerard 18 April 2012 07:17:49AM *  7 points [-]

In the 40,000 years since anatomically modern humans had migrated to Australia from Asia

BTW - this was the accepted figure as of 1991, but molecular evidence suggests 62,000-75,000 years. Which makes Harry's point even more strongly: it took a long time for humans as we know them to invent what we think of as basic stuff.

Comment author: FAWS 18 April 2012 07:28:29AM *  7 points [-]

At a cursory glace the date you cite seems to be for the time the population they are descended from split from African populations, not for when they arrived in Australia. Genetic evidence cannot show where your ancestors lived, only how they were related to other populations (which might imply things about where they lived provided you already know that for the other populations)

Comment author: Manfred 13 December 2012 06:07:55AM *  3 points [-]

There are muggle artifacts containing immense investment of intelligence. I bet some sort of Potions Master could make an unprecedented intelligence potion - or at least one good enough to let them figure out how to make the next one...

The potion should make a soft "foom" when stirred.

Comment author: RobertLumley 17 September 2012 01:23:26AM *  3 points [-]

From chapter 74: "Even so, the most terrible ritual known to me demands only a rope which has hanged a man and a sword which has slain a woman; and that for a ritual which promised to summon Death itself - though what is truly meant by that I do not know and do not care to discover, since it was also said that the counterspell to dismiss Death had been lost."

I missed this the first time I read it, but to me, it seems to pretty clearly refer to creating a dementor - Quirrell doesn't understand what it means because he doesn't know about the true patronus charm. Anyone have any theories on how this will be used, or if I'm off entirely? I can't imagine Harry creating a dementor, and Harry never seems to realize what this actually means. But Quirrell seems like he would if Harry ever told him about the true patronus form.

http://predictionbook.com/predictions/8287

http://predictionbook.com/predictions/8286

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 September 2012 08:48:49AM *  6 points [-]

Having just read most of Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethsar series, I recognize now this as a reference to the spell of Seething Death.

Comment author: Quirinus 25 September 2012 07:00:03PM 4 points [-]

I missed this the first time I read it, but to me, it seems to pretty clearly refer to creating a dementor - Quirrell doesn't understand what it means because he doesn't know about the true patronus charm.

I think it was implied that he somehow deduced that the dementors are a physical manifestation of death, possibly even before Harry's showcase of the true Patronus spell.

"No," Professor Quirrell said, sounding rather severe. "You don't tell us why, Mr. Potter, you simply tell us that we are not to know. If you wish to devise a hint, you do so carefully, at leisure, not in the midst of conversation."

Harry nodded.

"But," said the Headmaster. "But, but what am I to tell the Ministry? You can't just lose a Dementor!"

"Tell them I ate it," said Professor Quirrell, causing Harry to choke on the soda he had unthinkingly raised to his lips. "I don't mind. Shall we head on back, Mr. Potter?"

"I ate it". Eat death. Death eater.

Quirrell can't perform the true patronus because he isn't as hopeful and positive about the nature of humanity and the vanquishing of death. As dumbledore put it, he doesn't live, but cowers of fear from death.

And then, more interestingly, in chapter 53, when giving Bellatrix the death eater password:

"Those who do not fear the darkness..." murmured Bellatrix.

The snake hissed, "Will be conssumed by it."

"Will be consumed by it," whispered the chill voice. Harry didn't particularly want to think about how Professor Quirrell had gotten that password. His brain, which thought about it anyway, suggested that it had probably involved a Death Eater, a quiet isolated place, and some lead-pipe Legilimency.

Compare it to the plan Harry's dark side came up with on Chapter 81:

Say that, to set up the if-then expectation, and wait for people to understand and laugh. Then speak the fatal truth; and when the Aurors' Patronuses winked out to prove the point, either people's anticipations of the mindless void, or Harry's threat of its destruction, would make the Dementor obey. Those who had sought to compromise with the darkness would be consumed by it.

That's way too nice of a parallelism in prose for it to be a coincidence.

Comment author: chaosmosis 11 September 2012 03:10:17AM *  3 points [-]

I'm doing a reread.

"In any case, when I was thirteen years old, I read through the historical sections of the Hogwarts library, scrutinizing the lives and fates of past Dark Lords, and I made a list of all the mistakes that I would never make when I was a Dark Lord."

Harry giggled before he could stop himself.

"Yes, Mr. Potter, very amusing. So, Mr. Potter, can you guess what was the very first item on that list?"

Great. "Um... never use a complicated way of dealing with an enemy when you can just Abracadabra them?"

"The term, Mr. Potter, is Avada Kedavra," Professor Quirrell's voice sounded a bit sharp for some reason, "and no, that was not on the list I made at age thirteen. Would you care to guess again?"

Why does Quirrell react this way? I see two major possibilities.

  1. He is picky about using the proper term. That's the surface appearance, and it jives well with the model of Professor Quirrell as a formerly evil teacher. But, we have to realize that ambiguous data might count as non ambiguous data when dealing with Professor Quirrell, because his skills at deception are so great. I think it's convincing that he might respond sharply to Harry misusing a term like that, but we don't see him do anything else in the book like that. And, if he was primarily focused on teaching, shouldn't he have been happier that Harry clearly understood the lesson he was trying to hammer into them, rather than focusing on a technical mistake? I think it's pretty convincing, but not an accurate explanation.

  2. He took it personally. Specifically, this might have happened because he had the opportunity to simply avada kedavra Harry, but then he didn't. I don't believe that it's ever been confirmed in HPMOR that Harry actually got hit by the killing curse. Using more meta clues, Harry's alternative to avada kedavra'ing your enemies is a suspiciously specific sort of scenario, but yet also a very obvious lesson. Voldemort would have been upset that Harry so easily recognized what his mistake was. I also think Harry's lighthearted tone would do a lot to provoke Voldemort. The combination of these things might have made Quirrell's mask slip.

I guess I don't really think there's any strong evidence for two, but it's just interesting to me how reading the book two times before this allows me to reinterpret Quirrell's behavior. I enjoy this.

Comment author: Benquo 12 September 2012 09:45:50PM 3 points [-]

1 sounds plausible because the name of the spell is also the manner in which it is cast; to develop the habit of saying a spell's name wrong could result in an accidental, disastrous misfire.

Comment author: gwern 12 September 2012 10:26:03PM 2 points [-]

I think #1 is much more plausible. Notice that Draco did not misuse any terms, and addressed Quirrel twice as 'Professor'; saying 'Abracadabra' is flippant and a tad contemptuous of the greatest gem of Quirrel's chosen field.

The personal version seems to either trade on knowledge of canon (not the first time, though! and such references can be spotted on the first read-through) or presume a version of Voldemort's fall we currently have no evidence for, although this is certainly a controversial topic.

Comment author: DanielLC 03 September 2012 05:48:58PM 3 points [-]

I don't know if anyone discussed this before, but it's been bugging me for a while.

It's supposed to be impossible to bring information back more than six hours with any combination of time turners. The obvious method would be that once someone delivers a message to you from the future, you can no longer go back in time further than six hours before when they're from. This wouldn't really work. Every time you travel back, you bring the information that you were not stopped by a time-traveler. Either the time turner never works, or anyone that's going to use one will be somehow completely immune to anything a time traveler does. They could send a black hole from the future that devours the planet, and you'd have to not only survive, but not even notice. Or, at least, you'd have to have a doppelganger that appears to come back from the post-black hole future but doesn't know about it.

Comment author: Kindly 03 September 2012 11:16:04PM *  5 points [-]

You're right. In fact, in the story we already have questionable use of information travel:

There was another pause, and then Madam Bones's voice said, "I have information which I learned four hours into the future, Albus. Do you still want it?"

Albus paused -

(weighing, Minerva knew, the possibility that he might want to go back more than two hours from this instant; for you couldn't send information further back in time than six hours, not through any chain of Time-Turners)

- and finally said, "Yes, please."

If there were a hard limit of some sort, then Dumbledore wouldn't be able to go back more than two hours after hearing that question, no matter what, because "there will be information in 4 hours" is itself information. The limit is somehow more complicated than that, which opens it up for abuse.

I expect this to be a plot point eventually.

Comment author: Alicorn 03 September 2012 09:33:35PM 4 points [-]

So you're thinking of something like this?

Alice: Okay, it's almost noon, and we've been sitting alone in this room for some hours now without seeing Carol, and this plan has been in place since last night. Bob, you wait until 6pm, and then check to see if the enemy has reached the pass yet. If they haven't, come back and tell me. But if they have, stay when you are - and if I don't hear from you at noon, I'll go back to 6am and tell Carol.

And then Carol-at-6am has information about whether the enemy has reached the pass at 6pm?

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 20 July 2012 06:20:11AM 3 points [-]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_Rock

I have an untrustworthy feeling like I must have been the only person around here who didn't realize this.

Comment author: gjm 11 May 2012 01:19:20AM 3 points [-]

Chapter 83 on hpmor.com ends with a "you have reached the story's in-progress mark" note even though it is no longer the latest chapter.

Comment author: 75th 09 May 2012 09:34:32PM *  3 points [-]

Some predictions for the next arc and beyond:

The climax where Quirrell's identity and/or motives are revealed will be in the next two arcs (p ≈ 0.8), and possibly in the next arc (p ≈ 0.3).

This last arc ended ominously; I think we're perilously close to seeing some serious shit. I assigned low probability to this happening in the next arc because Eliezer said the next arc picks up immediately after this one. We're still in April, and I have this hunch that maybe Harry's "What do I get if I can make it happen on the last day of school?" line to McGonagall was foreshadowing. I also think we'll get to see Quirrell execute his Christmas Wish plot. And speaking of Quirrell plots,

Quirrell will execute his Final Solution to the Granger Problem in the next arc (p ≈ 0.75) and very possibly succeed (p ≈ 0.5)

The next arc is going to pick up immediately following the last one. I assume that "immediately following" means "the day after". Quirrell might have given her more than one night to consider if he weren't planning on getting rid of her immediately. If seers all over the world have nightmares one night, then presumably something bad is going to happen very soon thereafter. Hermione meeting (or maybe even almost meeting) a horrible demise would send Harry straight to his Dark Side, and who knows what he'd do then.

The worldwide seer activity is due to Harry being about to kill a lot of people. (p ≈ 0.35)

Harry Potter's Dark Side just figured out a reliable way to kill large numbers of people in a small amount of time. Maybe he's about to use it.

The Trigger Warnings are next going to be updated for a chapter called Gur Olfgnaqre Rssrpg. Vs n ohapu bs crbcyr jngpu Urezvbar trg uheg naq yrg vg unccra, Uneel zvtug qrpvqr gurl nyy arrq gb qvr.

Or, if you connect Harry's two unwittingly ominous resolutions that directly preceded the two Trelawney nightmares, he might decide that everyone in Britain who supports Azkaban's use of Dementors needs to die. All he needs is a broadcast medium to disable the country's Patronuses, and he can send a Dementor to create a wizarding holocaust.

I assign low probability to this not because I think the clues don't point reasonably strongly in this direction, but because I fail to see how Harry and the story could recover from it. Perhaps Dumbledore would subdue Harry and take him into hiding? But then we wouldn't see the end-of-year stuff at Hogwarts, unless it happens two or three arcs from now.

At some point, Harry will break his Time-Turner to get out of a sticky situation. (p ≈ 0.85)

Twice in early chapters we were told that strange things happen when Time-Turners are broken. Once would be an offhand reference, but twice indicates to me that Eliezer has something in mind. If Harry successfully rescues Hermione from whatever Quirrell tries to do to her next, I think this might be how.


Those probabilities are mostly pulled out of thin air, but I've seen other people use them, so apparently it's expected. Is there some systematic method people use to arrive at them, or do you just sort of look out a window and see what number feels right?

Comment author: 75th 14 May 2012 12:28:51AM 6 points [-]

I meant to add this when I originally wrote the above post, but forgot, probably because it's pretty obvious:

A major focus of the next arc will be Quirrell teaching the first years to cast Avada Kedavra. (p ≈ 0.9)

Quirrell was antsy to get back to his classes, of which there are not many left. And teaching the Killing Curse is a good way to make sure Harry is deeply in tune with his Dark Side when Quirrell executes his plot against Hermione. Harry's Dark Side will of course be exceptionally good at casting the Killing Curse, and casting it will make it easier for him to stay Dark when he wants to. Whenever Harry next gets back to his Light Side thereafter, he'll be alarmed at how right it felt for him to cast it; indeed, he'll probably start finding it hard to resist casting it whenever something activates his Dark Side.

Comment author: aleksiL 14 May 2012 11:36:52PM 6 points [-]

I get the feeling that if Harry learns the Killing Curse he'll manage to tweak it somehow, on the order of Patronus 2.0 or partial Transfiguration.

I arrived at this idea by intuition - it seems to fit, but I don't think there's much explicit support. AFAICT I'm mostly pattern-matching on story logic, AK's plot significance and symmetry with Patronus, and Harry's talent for breaking things by thinking at them.

I think my probability estimate for this (given that Harry learns AK in the first place) is around 30%, but I suspect I'm poorly calibrated.

Comment author: 75th 15 May 2012 12:16:37AM *  2 points [-]

Interesting. I'm finding it hard to imagine what a "True Killing Curse" would do differently; the Standard Killing Curse seems to leave things pretty much good and dead. Perhaps it would kill Phoenixes permanently? Offing Fawkes would be a nice Yudkowskian punch in the gut. Or maybe it would kill all of the victim's horcruxes as well? But it'd be a drag if Eliezer introduced the Cvbarre ubepehk only to have Harry discover a shortcut that makes him not have to deal with it.

Comment author: Alejandro1 14 May 2012 11:50:41PM 5 points [-]

A common method to get an idea what is the "subjectively correct" number to use as your probability is to imagine yourself betting (a moderate amount of money you would be willing to risk) on the claim, and deciding which odds would you accept. For example, if you would accept betting up to $40 against $10 on your claim, but not more, then the probability you assign to it is 0.8. If you would be willing to bet only up to $10 on a chance of winning $90, then your probability is 0.1.

Comment author: 75th 15 May 2012 12:08:03AM *  3 points [-]

I actually considered revising all my estimates using the rubric "What would I pay for ten shares of this prediction on Intrade?" But I decided that that method would likely introduce a strong bias based on my financial situation, even if I tried to imagine myself to be in a financial situation closer to the median.

Comment author: arundelo 08 May 2012 11:46:13PM 3 points [-]

Aaron Swartz (this guy) gave a short but glowing review to HP:MoR in April.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 02 May 2012 07:51:32PM 3 points [-]

I just noticed that JKR has identified canon!Draco's wife (which is glimpsed at and never named in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows) as "Astoria Greengrass", Daphne Greengrass's younger (by two years) sister.

I wonder if Eliezer knew of this, and if that's part of the reason he made House Greengrass a "Noble and Most Ancient" one...

Comment author: anotherblackhat 19 April 2012 02:41:48PM 3 points [-]

Tom Riddle: "And how exactly does one split his soul?"
Slughorn: "Well, you must understand that the soul is supposed to remain intact and whole. Splitting it is an act of violation, it is against nature."
Tom Riddle: "But how do you do it?"
Slughorn: "By an act of evil -- the supreme act of evil. By committing murder. Killing rips the soul apart. The wizard intent upon creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage: he would encase the torn portion --"

MoR!Horcrux might be different, but it seems likely that killing a willing victim isn't good enough, it has to be murder most foul. If a MoR!Horcrux is different, and only requires a death, then why assume a human death is required?

Comment author: kilobug 19 April 2012 03:26:34PM 8 points [-]

Additionally, it seems (at least in cannon) that making a Horcrux mutilates the person, damaging (or completely destroying) his ability to love, use empathy, ... so from an utilitarian point of view, it's not "a lot of life years" again "a few life years" but "a lot of years living a mutilated life" against "a few years living a complete life", which is not the same.

And if horcruxing really gets rid of empathy, love and related emotions, it's likely that if it were generalized, the whole society would collapse - leading to lots of negative utility.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 19 April 2012 06:01:09PM 4 points [-]

The only cannon example is Voldemort who mangled his soul six or seven times. A single Horcrux might be less destructive. Also, we may be confusing cause and effect. But then we also have no examples of a Horcurx actually extending life - Voldemort's was cut short despite making several.

I would also like to point out that it's possible to value diversity. The utility of a single point of view for 200 years may not be as great as two points of view for 90.

Comment author: DavidAgain 22 April 2012 08:38:46PM 3 points [-]

Rather unfortunately, I think JK has confirmed that a large part of Voldemort's inability to love is because he's effectively a child of rape (via love potion).

Although I have no doubt your 'too much butter spread over too little bread' approach to Horcruxes as damaging.

Comment author: Xachariah 20 April 2012 04:52:15AM 19 points [-]

You know, this sounds terrible but might be able to put the abortion debate to rest using the creation of a Horcruxes. It would be a horrible violation of human rights and ethics, but you could nail down the exact moment it became murder with enough testing. (Edit: I suppose you could do this on fetuses already slated for abortion anyways to avoid the ethical dilemmas.)

I wonder if pro-lifers and pro-choicers would have different threshholds for age required when to create a horcrux. And if so, I wonder if it would it be possible to create a horcrux with a murder that exists entirely within the mind of the murderer (eg, fake murder like in the Milgram experiment).

It's probably best that I'm not a wizard scientist.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 21 April 2012 03:37:38AM 13 points [-]

So after thinking about it some more, I came up with a possible rationale/rationalization why a wizard's death might be needed.

Assume the "script kiddy magic" theory is right - A powerful wizard can be bind complex magic into a simple to execute script, with a key phrase (and/or emotion or gesture). Thus it wasn't some perverse law of the universe that decided "Wingardium Leviosa" is how levitation is activated, but some perverse ancient wizard.

A Horcrux stores an image of you, and the activation sequence is bound to the death of a wizard. It was meant to be an emergency backup script, activated on the death of the wizard. I.e. the ancient who created it was thinking that when a wizard dies, they would automatically be backed up into a Horcrux. This explains where ghosts come from, and why the ghosts we know of were all wizards. Later, someone figured out how to activate the script without dying. Unfortunately, the method they discovered involved killing another wizard.

A backup is limited by the hardware that runs it, so ghosts, which can only barely be said to run, don't seem like real people. They have limited ability to form new memories, so they seem more like chatbots than people (in the MoR universe). A Horcrux is even more limited unless it can get near a brain, but has some "upload" magic associated which means it can possess people under the right circumstances. Harry could be a Horcrux, in the sense that he might contain a backup image of Voldemort, but it can't (normally) run for much the same reason Voldemort can't cast a spell on Harry. That's why the hat didn't sense it.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 18 April 2012 02:38:59AM 3 points [-]

I had forgotten about the vow to Draco. Maybe that was some of Harry's anger at Dumbledore in the previous chapter - not just denial of what Dumbledore may have done, but denial of what he might do about it.

Comment author: alex_zag_al 23 April 2012 01:04:25PM 9 points [-]

I think HPMoR has colored my thinking about scholarship and I'm really happy about this. Recently I have been reading the literature on mathematics education, and I find myself thinking of what I read as books that can give me power, like uncovering principles of magic and becoming capable of greater battle magic. I'm basically doing what Dumbledore and Riddle did and it works in real life.

Comment author: Daniel_Starr 20 April 2012 06:55:21PM *  11 points [-]

Quirrell's tale of "I played a hero, but it didn't get me political power" doesn't hold up. The "lonely superhero" is just as much a mere storytelling convention as the "zero-casualties superhero". Either Quirrell is leaving something out, or the author is ignoring real-world politics for storytelling convenience.

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity. Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington. This is true in nondemocracies too: consider the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Marlborough, or Sir Francis Drake.

What gets you loneliness and isolation is being a pioneer.

In real life, heroes go unrewarded exactly and only when their enemies aren't yet regarded as enemies by the rest of society.

The socially isolating thing isn't fighting Nazis when you're an American, it's fighting Nazis when you're a German. Being a reformer is isolating.

"The lonely superhero" is just as much a mere literary convention as "the zero-casualties superhero".

Of course, "the lonely superhero" reflects an underlying truth. The real bravery we could use more of from people is the bravery to give up status.

So the deeds we see Batman and Superman perform are mere stand-ins for socially brave deeds that make less good stories but matter far more: the scientist defending an unpopular hypothesis, the leader admitting to his followers he doesn't have an answer, the skilled and intelligent person who chooses to work on something that matters instead of something that makes the most money. Those are the real heroes we need, and they really are lonely.

So just as "the zero-casualties superhero" is a literary figure for "we need people who'll take risks for others", the "the lonely superhero" is a literary figure for "we need people who are willing to be mocked for doing what's right".

But within the context of the story, Quirrell's "I fought the villain but got no respect" is nonsense. Humans don't work that way. We have to assume Quirrell is leaving something out.

Did Dumbledore see through him and undermine him politically at every turn?

Alternatively, perhaps Quirrellmort is as bad at mass politics as he is good at individual violence? There's evidence he's got no clue how to handle 'inspiration' as a motive, though he gets 'greed' and 'fear' just fine.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 21 April 2012 02:38:14AM 12 points [-]

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity.

Well, yeah, it got Quirrel's "hero" political opportunity too. He was invited back to the fold of the Most Ancient House, and after the death of everyone else there, he would have wielded the vote in the Wizengamot. But they didn't sufficiently obey him as leader.

Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington.

Alcibiades was accused and recalled by the Atheneans while on the expedition he had been advocating. Pausanias (victor of Plataies) and Miltiades (victor of Marathon) barely lasted a year after their famous victories, before getting accused of treason.

But within the context of the story, Quirrell's "I fought the villain but got no respect" is nonsense. Humans don't work that way

Knowing something of Ancient Greek history, and how they tended to treat all their most successful generals, it seemed very believable to me.

Comment author: gwern 21 April 2012 03:20:32AM 9 points [-]

Successful generals are threats. You also see this in Byzantine history (inspiring a similar situation in Asimov's Foundation universe), and Chinese history too: a successful general like Belisarius becomes a threat to the throne and may be sabotaged in various ways. Belisarius was lucky: all his emperor did was short-change him and set him impossible missions. Chinese generals might just see themselves executed.

Comment author: ChrisHallquist 22 April 2012 03:36:18PM 11 points [-]

Good points, but reading carefully, it seems Riddle's hero persona wasn't a pure "lonely hero." Rather:

There was a man who was hailed as a savior. The destined scion, such a one as anyone would recognize from tales, wielding justice and vengeance like twin wands against his dreadful nemesis.

Also:

Several times he led forces against the Death Eaters, fighting with skillful tactics and extraordinary power. People began to speak of him as the next Dumbledore, it was thought that he might become Minister of Magic after the Dark Lord fell.

However:

It was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant... I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward.

In particular, Quirrell's Yule speech reminded Bones of one or more speeches hero-Riddle apparently gave, which she describes as "castigating the previous generation for their disunity against the Death Eaters."

So taken together, it seems hero-Riddle was widely liked, and could have been the next Minister of Magic had he so chose. However, Riddle was upset about the fact that other people did not unite behind him strongly enough, did not take enough responsibility, and said mean things about him. (Note Riddle's decision making process based on what he enjoys doing most.)

He may have also worked himself into the awkward situation where, though he intended "Voldemort" to lose the war, it wasn't quite clear how that was going to happen because Voldemort's followers were more united.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 21 April 2012 02:03:20AM *  3 points [-]

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity. Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington. This is true in nondemocracies too: consider the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Marlborough, or Sir Francis Drake.

Depends on the situation. A good Samaritan who stopped the kidnapping of the president's daughter because he was in the right place at the right time will get some fame but probably won't be able to leverage that incident into a political career.

Comment author: glumph 20 April 2012 09:51:32PM *  3 points [-]

I'm assuming the 'past-Quirrell' that Quirrell tells Hermoine about in Chapter 84 is the 'young man' that Amelia Bones believes is now Quirrell. (Is this reasonable?)

If that's the case, then one way of understanding the situation is this: Riddle assumed two personas---Voldemort and Light Riddle---in order to experiment with different ways of acquiring power. He found that the Voldemort-path was much more preferable on account of the loyalty he could obtain via the Dark Mark. The Dark Mark was so effective that the loyalty he earned as Light Riddle seemed negligible by comparison; thus he complains that he got no help from his 'allies'.

So Riddle retired his Light persona by faking his own death and continued only as Voldemort. Now that he sees Harry as a potential puppet, he wants to ensure that he/Harry have loyalty comparable to that secured with a Dark Mark. He therefore calls for a 'Light Mark' in his speech before Christmas.

EDIT: Of course 'Light Riddle' (if he existed) and Voldemort would have looked different; Minerva remembers Voldemort as snake-like. If the above is right, then Voldemort's disfiguration would have to be a disguise rather than real damage from Dark Rituals.

Comment author: pedanterrific 20 April 2012 10:07:39PM 3 points [-]

(Is this reasonable?)

It's certainly what I immediately assumed.

Light Riddle

Not actually Riddle, but yeah.

He found that the Voldemort-path was much more preferable on account of the loyalty he could obtain via the Dark Mark. The Dark Mark was so effective that the loyalty he earned as Light Riddle seemed negligible by comparison; thus he complains that he got no help from his 'allies'.

Amelia claims that Quirrell's Yule speech calling for a Mark of Britain / Light Mark "struck her as familiar", and was one of the clues that brought to mind the vanished Noble Hero.

If the above is right, then Voldemort's disfiguration would have to be a disguise rather than real damage from Dark Rituals.

Or he could have been possessing the actual body of his former classmate.

Comment author: chaosmosis 26 April 2012 02:47:14AM 8 points [-]

I just thought of something.

When Quirrell shows Harry the stars in outer space he's probably getting the images from his probe-Horcrux.

Comment author: pedanterrific 26 April 2012 02:49:36AM 2 points [-]

Think one step further. What does this imply about his other Horcruxes?

Comment author: chaosmosis 19 April 2012 03:38:19AM *  9 points [-]

I was thinking about it earlier and Harry has massively underranked the utility of Horcruxes. If one person must die so that a different person can live 100K+ more years then that is an incredibly desirable tradeoff from an impartial utilitarian standpoint and everyone should be doing this. You could even choose to murder only old and dying people so that there would be almost no loss of net time that people spend alive. He dismissed it way too quickly during his conversation with Dumbledore.

Comment author: Locke 19 April 2012 05:10:38AM 6 points [-]

I think it has to be cold-blooded murder, not a utilitarian sacrifice.

Comment author: Alicorn 19 April 2012 05:47:26PM *  10 points [-]

I wonder if burning Narcissa Malfoy to death would count, or if it had too many positive externalities. (I'm less and less sure how to model Dumbledore as MoR proceeds, particularly since even if he's "supposed to be good", Eliezer is writing him and Eliezer is some sort of consequentialist; I wouldn't want to rule out the possibility that Dumbledore deemed himself indispensable and his soul's contiguousness dispensable to the war effort.)

Comment author: Eneasz 24 April 2012 10:29:48PM 4 points [-]

It would explain why Harry always has to carry around an otherwise normal-seeming rock...

Comment author: SkyDK 19 April 2012 01:04:59PM 4 points [-]

(upvoted chaosmosis) How is utilitarian not cold-blooded? As far as I understand, utilitarians work by assigning utility values between different outcomes and choosing the one with the most utility. That seems pretty cold-blooded.

100k years worth of life > 2 minutes of intense pain and loss of 2 years of life.

Comment author: MixedNuts 20 April 2012 11:10:36AM 10 points [-]

Utilitarianism has to be equally-blooded for all outcomes, but this can also be accomplished by being hot-blooded about everything. Instead of shrugging and not caring about the pain and two-year loss, you can mourn it while also grinning and clapping your hands and jumping around shouting for joy at the perspective of someone gaining so much life.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 19 April 2012 08:38:30AM 4 points [-]

In ch.79 Dumbledore mentions the human sacrifice has to be "committed in coldest blood, the victim dying in horror"

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 19 April 2012 01:51:01PM *  6 points [-]

How about some kind of Russian roulette -- two people get wands, one is magical, one is not, they are supposed to cast some paralysis spell and then Avada Kedavra on each other. The paralysis spell gives the victim enough time to realize they have lost, and thus to die in horror.

Yet, if average(years gained) is more than average(years lost), the transaction is good from utilitarian viewpoint. Especially if both parties are volunteers. I don't know whether this qualifies as "cold-blooded murder", though -- I would need more precise definition.

Comment author: chaosmosis 19 April 2012 02:49:15PM *  8 points [-]

Yeah. Alternatively Harry could seize power and then force gladiators to murder each other and have perform Dark Rituals to create a Horcrux after the killings, that would probably be evil enough. Also, this would be a better sport than Quidditch, so it's win-win.

Comment author: moritz 06 May 2012 11:34:34AM 4 points [-]

One thing I'm missing from this whole horcrux discussion is: What happens if you die of age, and have a horcrux?

People just seem to assume that once you have a horcrux, you won't wither and die.

But we have no indication to believe this is what actually happens. canon!Voldemort catches a rebounding killing curse, and the horcrux doesn't make him live on in perfect health. Instead he is very close to death, has no body, and needs to possess animals or other humans to extort some influence.

So what happens if you have a horcrux, and come close to dying from old age? It seems to me that your body would die, and you'd need some avenue to live again, and that is not a nice prospect at all. If you have access to a philospher's stone you wouldn't have such a problem, but then you wouldn't need a horcrux in the first place. What else can you do? Possess another human, who suffers greatly from it. Or the ritual that requires a servant of yours to sacrifice a limb; oh, and there's only a limited supplies of bones from your father, so you can't repeat it indefinitely.

In summary, it seems that a single death doesn't give you 100k+ years of live without additional major costs.

Comment author: Lavode 19 April 2012 10:11:03PM 4 points [-]

This is daft. Horcruxes are not the only available means of life extention, which voids the entire rest of the debate. There is the stone, whatever he can think up independently and worst come to worst, from harrys point of view, the odds of him, personally, dying of old age before the muggles come up with a hack to fix ageing is very low. 170 years, starting the clock in 1980 gets him to 2150!

Comment author: linkhyrule5 19 April 2012 04:35:37AM 4 points [-]

If your utility function assigns utility exclusively to "time spent alive," sure. But Harry's utility function also assigns utility to "keeping people alive", regardless of time.

Comment author: chaosmosis 28 April 2012 06:17:52PM 5 points [-]

And then there was that promise Harry had sworn.

Draco to help Harry reform Slytherin House. And Harry to take as an enemy whoever Harry believed, in his best judgment as a rationalist, to have killed Narcissa Malfoy. If Narcissa had never gotten her own hands dirty, if indeed she'd been burned alive, if the killer hadn't been tricked - those were all the conditions Harry could remember making. He probably should've written it down, or better yet, never made a promise requiring that many caveats in the first place.

There were plausible outs, for the sort of person who'd take an out. Dumbledore hadn't actually confessed. He hadn't come right out and said he'd done it. There were plausible reasons for an actually-guilty Dumbledore to behave that way. But it was also what you'd expect to see, if someone else had burned Narcissa, and Dumbledore had taken credit.

Harry overlooks the huge out that Draco is leaving Hogwarts and so won't be reforming the Slytherins.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 April 2012 11:52:30PM *  7 points [-]

Hasn't Harry basically signed up to be a Dark Lord in 85, at least by the Sorting Hat's standards?

then the gloves come off and the villains die as fast as possible; and I won't pretend that real people in real life can go through a war without sacrificing anyone...

Compare the talk with the Sorting Hat:

I am not Dark Lord material!

“Yes, you are. You really, really are.”

Why! Just because I once thought it would be cool to have a legion of brainwashed followers chanting ‘Hail the Dark Lord Harry’?

“Amusing, but that was not your first fleeting thought before you substituted something safer, less damaging. No, what you remembered was how you considered lining up all the blood purists and guillotining them.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 22 April 2012 01:13:06AM 9 points [-]

Oh god, I have this mental image of Harry standing next to a blood soaked guillotine insisting that he is a Light Lord!

Comment author: Argency 22 April 2012 02:55:34AM 5 points [-]

I don't think that's quite fair to Harry - he hasn't promised to kill everyone who disagrees with him, just "the villains". That's a pretty nebulous group, but I think given context we can infer that he's not planning a Reign of Terror-style pogrom just yet.

Sounds to me like he'll pursue non-violent methods unless he thinks the only reasonable way to save lives is by killing the bad guys. I mean, if it was just Lucius Malfoy leading the other side, and Lucius was only trying to further the pure-blood cause through political maneuvering and rallies and stuff, there'd be no reason to up the ante by getting violent. On the other hand, if there are people out there who are trying to kill Harry's friends in order to bring down the anti-purist movement then NOT responding with force would be bringing a knife to a gunfight. I thought that was the point of this whole soliloquy - it's fine to oppose plots with plots, but you have to be prepared to admit that non-violent counter-plots might not be enough against someone who is willing to actually kill people to get the job done.

Comment author: [deleted] 19 April 2012 08:11:46PM 8 points [-]

I guess this has come up before, but I take it the reason to be Voldemort is that as soon as muggles get load of magic, they'll figure out how become magical, transmute 3 stage thermonuclear devices from concrete, apparate them over cities, etc. So magic means the total removal of all technological or economic restrictions on nuclear warfare. And time travel.

So if you figured the muggles would discover the magical world pretty soon, and if you wanted there to be any people at all in the future, you'd have to make the society of magical knowledge completely closed. This means taking over, at least, the magical world and probably the muggle one too. And in order to prevent anyone from seeing magic as technology and doing productive research on it, you'd have to make it completely scary, so that their fear and moral hatred would override their ability to study it proficiently.

If that's true, then muggle science is similar a soon-to-be-uncontrollable AI (it is at least by many orders of magnitude a better optimizing system then the magical world's own research efforts), and Voldemort is a last ditch effort at reboxing. If that's right, it seems hard to argue with Voldemort.

Comment author: Nominull 20 April 2012 06:51:23PM 32 points [-]

I think people in the Less Wrong community are a little too fast to analogize any existential threat to the threat of rogue AI. The threat of people blowing up the world with nuclear weapons seems a lot more analogous to the threat of people blowing up the world with nuclear weapons.

Comment author: chaosmosis 05 August 2012 07:18:36PM *  2 points [-]

I figured out an exploit to make Horcrux users even more invincible.

A. If you make a Horcrux, you cannot be destroyed unless your Horcrux is destroyed.

B. People can be Horcruxes.

QED if one person turns another into a Horcrux and the other reciprocates then they have foolproof immortality.

This method also has three other benefits over the Dark Lord's attempt, that I can think of. First, it requires only two murders, not seven. Second, it causes twice as many people to become immortal. Third, you'll retain a much larger portion of your soul than you would otherwise, and avoid much of the consequent degeneration.

Quirrelmort is playing on the level below mine, clearly.

Comment author: Locke 06 August 2012 05:46:17PM *  3 points [-]

How about Animagus-ing into an immortal jellyfish? Certainly not an ideal life, but if it lets you keep old age at bay long enough the muggles will discover human immortality.

Comment author: gwern 05 August 2012 10:21:12PM 3 points [-]

Actually, that was suggested a while ago. :) It was one of the wilder theories; I don't think I bothered to record a prediction for it.

(IMO, I don't think it works. Consider Voldemort: he was destroyed by an Avada Kedavra and became a wandering spirit anchored by his physical Horcruxes, yes? So what would happen if he and Harry were mutual Horcruxes? You Avada Voldemort; he becomes a wandering spirit anchored by the physical living Harry; then you Avada Harry so Harry becomes a wandering spirit - but wait, there is no physical Horcrux, it was already destroyed! And with Harry now gone, so is Voldemort.)

Comment author: Paulovsk 10 June 2012 01:50:01AM *  2 points [-]

What's exactly the next step after I notice I'm confused?

How? How? In retrospect it had been an obvious sort of idea as cunning plots went, but Granger wasn't supposed to be cunning! She'd been too much of a Hufflepuff to use a Simple Strike Hex! Had Professor Quirrell been advising her despite his promise, or...

And then Draco finally did what he should have done much earlier.

What he should have done after the first time he met with Granger.

What Harry Potter had told him to do, trained him to do, and yet Harry had also warned Draco that it would take time to make his brain realize that the methods applied to real life, and Draco hadn't understood that until today. He could have avoided every single one of his mistakes if he'd just applied the things Harry had already told him -

Draco said out loud, "I notice that I am confused."

Your strength as a rationalist is your ability to be more confused by fiction than by reality... Draco was confused.

Therefore, something he believed was fiction.

Granger should not have been able to do all that. Therefore, she probably hadn't. I promise not to help General Granger in any way that the two of you don't know about. With sudden horrified realization, Draco swept papers out of the way, hunting through the mess on his desk, until he found it.And there it was.

In this short piece, Draco searches for some belief that he thought it was true but it couldn't be because he was confused. Is there any step by step or we just begin with it?