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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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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 (1106)

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: MugaSofer 13 December 2012 08:49:41AM 0 points [-]

An intelligence potion? Sure. But being smarter doesn't help you make more powerful intelligence potions. And potions wear off. And EY can't write a character more intelligent than he is. And it would probably require destroying something unique, otherwise you could just photocopy a calculus textbook for infinite smarts without actually inputting any intelligence.

... but there are probably intelligence potions of some kind.

Comment author: Manfred 13 December 2012 02:55:08PM 2 points [-]

being smarter doesn't help you make more powerful intelligence potions.

Huh, so are you of the opinion that all the useful potions have been discovered already, or that discovering potions does not depend at all on intelligence?

Comment author: MugaSofer 13 December 2012 07:28:01PM 0 points [-]

Discovering new potions, sure. That doesn't help you brew a more powerful intelligence potion.

In fact, there may not be such a potion; IIRC Harry resolved to research such things early on, so presumably it's either unavailable or beyond his skill level.

Also, if a potion can let you discover new potions, wouldn't potion-makers already have done so? It depends how narrow potion-space is, I guess ... it seems to be wider than in canon.

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: avichapman 14 December 2012 03:52:05AM 0 points [-]

Good point about the light hours thing. It sort of kills the hypothesis.

I agree with drethelin that the 6 hour mark doesn't have to correspond with Quirrel's last day of school. However, in the last story arc, Quirrel talks like his time limit is only a short time away, perhaps only a month. Of course, he could be talking about his inevitable firing from the defense professor position.

Comment author: drethelin 13 December 2012 06:15:10AM 0 points [-]

In what sense does it not pan out? Why would Quirrel's last day of class need to align with the last day he will be able to maintain his body on earth?

Comment author: matheist 13 December 2012 07:31:36AM 0 points [-]

There's just no reason for it, story-wise. If EY had wanted the distance to Pioneer 11 to relate to Quirrell's zombie-ness in this way, he would have written the story so that the hard time-travel limit was 4.84 hours, so that it would coincide with the last day of classes. That makes a good story.

But the dates don't line up, and so there's no reason to believe that this is anything other than a fun theory.

Comment author: drethelin 13 December 2012 10:34:55AM 3 points [-]

That doesn't make any sense. Eliezer quite often tries to point out that things don't go down the way they do in stories, and it would be a ridiculously unlikely coincidence that whatever the time travel limit was, that happened to be the exact distance in light hours from earth to Pioneer on a certain date in the future. If the plaque is horcruxed, it happened WAY before Harry was even born, so it's not like Quirrel could've even arranged it to coincide with the end of Harry's first year at Hogwarts intentionally for drama.

Comment author: matheist 13 December 2012 04:22:52PM 0 points [-]

Are you saying you believe this theory? (What's the evidence?) Or merely that I'm disbelieving it too quickly?

Comment author: drethelin 13 December 2012 09:48:33PM 2 points [-]

I think you're disbelieving it for the wrong reasons. The biggest problem and one which Mugasofer mentions in his comment is that there's no set up system or reason for Quirrel to be remote controlling his body. Horcruxes don't really work like that in Canon, and it also doesn't match what we see: eg Quirrel doesn't take hours to respond to every single thing. It's possible zombie-mode is some sort of "cloud uploading" process by which he sends memories to his Horcruxes but it doesn't really seem like that would be affected by this sort of thing.

I think it's more likely that Pioneer is just a badass way to make a Horcrux and that zombie-mode is a consequence of something else, probably his mind-control battle with Quirrel or whoever Quirrel used to be.

Comment author: MugaSofer 06 December 2012 01:33:13PM *  0 points [-]

Hmm. It's certainly not impossible, but there seem to be two main problems with it - not unanswerable problems by any means, but problems nonetheless.

  • If Quirrelmort is spending his zombie periods at the voyager plaque, what on earth is he doing during that time? Watching the stars? But he said he can only rarely cast the spell that shows him the stars (seems like an odd thing to lie about.)
  • This clashes massively with the horcruxes from canon. Sure, there could be differences, but ... if horcruxes act as "remote controls" you have one horcrux, presumably, which seems like a rather drastic change (and IIRC Q implied having multiple horcruxes somewhere, didn't he?)

In canon, horcruxes were intelligent and capable of using magic, but also acted to prevent your soul from leaving this plane. If there turns out to be an afterlife, which EY hasn't ruled out AFAIK, then possibly different minds with the same ID confuse whatever mechanism is responsible; thus Q has given over a copy of his mind to an eternity of space, which is an interesting notion.

Comment author: avichapman 12 December 2012 03:10:21AM 0 points [-]

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that Quirrel went away to the plaque when he was in zombie mode, nor to suggest that it had become a Horcrux. Instead, what I am suggesting is that Quirrel is always in the plaque and is operating his body by remote control. If it takes some effort to do so, he might let the body go slack when he doesn't need to be doing anything.

As for the horcrux, this could always be a different, but perhaps related, spell.

Comment author: MugaSofer 12 December 2012 09:01:13AM 0 points [-]

Oh, right. I just assumed you meant horcruxes.

Vg'f na vagrerfgvat gubhtug, ohg Ryvrmre unf fgngrq gung gur Cyndhr jnf fhcbfrq gb or n Ubepehk.

Comment author: Paulovsk 03 November 2012 03:02:44PM *  3 points [-]

Latest Author's Note Update.

There’s a chance here to reach up toward that impossible dream of a better world where people aren’t crazy all the damn time, because believe it or not, nobody’s really tried anything like this before. [...] Science, reason, and rationality – it’s what Muggles use instead of magic, and it’s all we’ve got.

I thought it was really inspiring.

Comment author: MugaSofer 10 October 2012 11:55:45AM 1 point [-]

I recently came across an old comment decrying the fact that so many readers fail to conclude that Quirrell is possessed by Voldemort (it's so obvious, anyone who disagrees must be horribly biased, was the idea.)

Could anyone who actually thinks this step forward? I'm kinda curious as to how accurate that comment is, even now.

Comment author: Eneasz 17 December 2012 05:19:17PM -1 points [-]

I resisted it for a long time, because I love Quirrell and I don't want him to be the villian. Once I finally came to terms with the fact, I immediately recast him as the sympathetic villian. This has ended up making the story even better for me.

Comment author: [deleted] 16 December 2012 08:52:09PM 0 points [-]

I didn't realize that myself, but in retrospect it does make perfect sense.

Comment author: Manfred 13 December 2012 06:28:20AM 1 point [-]

I think it's most likely after the end of the Azkaban arc, but before then I was of the opinion that Voldemort was somewhere else and Quirrell was a red herring. Certainly there have been various foreshadowings, but only the sense of doom was actually good evidence, if Eliezer was willing to foreshadow things just to keep us on our toes. But now that we also have drastic personality changes, I'm willing to accept it as most likely.

Comment author: MugaSofer 13 December 2012 09:07:46AM 0 points [-]

I've gotta say, it's looking like everyone (or at least everyone here) has concluded Q=V.

Comment author: Paulovsk 03 November 2012 03:00:52PM 2 points [-]

I had such a hard time convincing myself on this (quirrel = voldemort).

Yes, I'm probably biased, but I don't know how. I suspect it's because I can't think of how Quirrelmort would do all that stuff, so I assumed he wouldn't.

Comment author: MugaSofer 05 November 2012 08:59:00AM 0 points [-]

At last, a reply!

... I think this indicates most readers now believe in Quirrelmort.

I can't think of how Quirrelmort would do all that stuff, so I assumed he wouldn't.

What, all the torturing and so on? Or the horcrux stuff?

Comment author: Paulovsk 05 December 2012 02:28:01AM 0 points [-]

Yep, most of it. I mean, ALL of it. It's just too much. Quirrel (and Voldemort) in the cannon aren't that smart, so I'm having so trouble updating that.

Comment author: cultureulterior 22 September 2012 04:54:21PM 0 points [-]

Why doesn't voldemort have a source of prophecies? If I were him, I'd have kidnapped a known seer, and kept them locked up inside a mountain, or something like that, and recorded their output like it seems dumbledore does. Every power he sees he tries to take for himself, etc..

Comment author: MugaSofer 23 September 2012 10:22:59AM 1 point [-]

A prophecy only occurs if the intended recipient is able to hear the seer in question. Dumbledore has just found a way to be in hearing range at all times, making it less likely a third party will overhear a prophecy meant for him. Unless Voldemort regularly receives prophecies, it would be a waste of resources - you need an impenetrable prison, which is unlikely to be cheap. Of course, if he does regularly receive prophecies it would be useful, but that seems unlikely.

Comment author: cultureulterior 23 September 2012 07:08:51PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure that's the way of it in the HPMOR universe. Consider the final chapter- who were those aborted prophecies for?

Comment author: MugaSofer 24 September 2012 12:18:08PM *  1 point [-]

Chapter 77:

She and Harry had looked up Divination early on in their research; Harry had insisted that they read everything they could find about prophecies that wasn't in the Restricted Section. As Harry had observed, it would save a lot of effort if they could just get a seer to prophesy everything they would figure out thirty-five years later. (Or to put it in Harry's terms, any means of obtaining information transmitted from the distant future was potentially an instant global victory condition.)

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

Comment author: cultureulterior 24 September 2012 10:23:02PM 0 points [-]

This does not imply that prophecies have intended recipients, though.

Comment author: MugaSofer 25 September 2012 07:51:55AM *  2 points [-]

seers were like weak points that let out the pressure, when the right listener was nearby.


the seers themselves didn't remember their prophecies, because the message wasn't for them. And the messages would come out in riddles, and only someone who heard the prophecy in the seer's original voice would hear all the meaning that was in the riddle.

Comment author: chaosmosis 19 September 2012 04:38:30AM *  -1 points [-]

Example of how to insert a song into fanfictions without making it jarring: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6091629/13/Triwizard-Tournament-Take-Two

Also, that's an excellent fanfiction overall. The premise is fairly standard, but I'm enjoying the execution. Please read it and spam the author with reviews threatening them if they abandon the fic.

Comment author: Alicorn 19 September 2012 04:56:14AM 3 points [-]

I read the first chapter and it doesn't seem particularly good, let alone "excellent". It has thoughts in quotation marks and clumsy narration and dull dialogue. Does it get markedly better a ways in?

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 September 2012 02:33:44AM 1 point [-]

If you haven't liked it so far, I suggest you just stop.

For whatever reason, I enjoyed it.

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.



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: 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: MugaSofer 18 September 2012 11:34:10AM *  0 points [-]

Darn, I was sure it referred to the secret origin of the dementors, and/or the deathly hallows.

Oh well.

I suppose it was just a misdirection for (from?) this:

the chant of every ritual names that which is to be sacrificed, and that which is to be gained [...] always, in each element of the ritual, first is named that which is sacrificed, and then is said the use commanded of it.

Comment author: MugaSofer 18 September 2012 11:44:42AM 0 points [-]

... And now I've found this and don't know what to think.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 18 September 2012 11:49:27AM 3 points [-]

There's no necessary incompatibility. The specific ingredients may have been chosen to be a homage and a reference to Lawrence Watt-Evans Seething Death and yet the described ritual can still contain foreshadowing for HPMoR's plot as well.

Comment author: MugaSofer 18 September 2012 12:06:01PM *  0 points [-]

I suppose. I'm less worried about the ingredients as the "missing counterspell". It just seems too central to the plot - I can't see the whole story being based on something that's a reference to something else. As I said, I'm still updating on the possible connection to the opening paragraph.

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 September 2012 08:02:23AM *  1 point [-]

... Why would Quirrell create a dementor?

Considering he is especially weak to them, and the one Harry destroyed vowed to hunt him down as soon as it saw him.

Unless, of course, it gives you a personalized Deathly Hallow. Hmm.

Comment author: RobertLumley 17 September 2012 02:52:14PM 1 point [-]

Voldemort used dementors in his army in cannon. That was my thinking.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 17 September 2012 04:28:12PM 3 points [-]

That is a marvelous image, which is making me giggle.
Sadly, I suppose you probably meant "canon."

Comment author: RobertLumley 17 September 2012 05:38:15PM 1 point [-]

Hehehe, of course.

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 September 2012 03:43:30PM *  1 point [-]

Ah, right.

Suddenly, Harry teaching Qurrelmort how to reduce Dementor effects using the memory of the Stars is looking less wise.

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 12 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: 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: 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: 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: chaosmosis 12 September 2012 10:34:35PM 0 points [-]

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.

I don't understand why the personal version would trade on knowledge of canon. I was intending for the version of Voldemort's fall to be the conclusion that the personal version argued towards, rather than its starting assumption.

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: chaosmosis 12 September 2012 10:34:57PM *  1 point [-]

Option 3: Both.

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: Randaly 03 September 2012 09:53:40PM 0 points [-]

Such a scheme would presumably wind up with the message "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" being sent back.

(A sort of theory of relativity, but for fixed time travel instead of a fixed maximum velocity, would be a more interesting solution. I don't think this is possible to create, however.)

Comment author: DanielLC 04 September 2012 03:12:16AM 0 points [-]

This happens whether or not you do it on purpose. Every time anyone goes back in time, they bring information that they weren't stopped. Ergo, if someone brings back a paper that says "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME", you know something was up. It would facilitate the information transfer. And thanks to conservation of expected evidence, every time someone doesn't bring back a paper like that, you are now more certain that something like that didn't happen.

Comment author: Randaly 04 September 2012 04:27:23AM 0 points [-]

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. My claim was that p(message[*]|attempt to send info back more than six hours)=1. This is at least reasonable- it's almost exactly analogous to what happened to Harry in his experimenting.

[*]: More precisely, that the only result is that a message, with no identifying marks, appears in a location nobody is watching, and so forth. Wizards might still try to draw conclusions from this, but they would be wrong.

[**]: Since this is a fictional universe, we can directly specify its fundamental laws with 100% confidence. If this isn't a fundamental law, then whenever this can be violated so can the 6-hour rule. (eg if this is something Merlin put in place to prevent dangerous experimenting, or whatever.)

Comment author: DanielLC 04 September 2012 06:12:33AM 0 points [-]

If someone plans to go back in time, and doesn't plan to be interrupted, they won't normally get the message because they weren't trying to find a loophole. If someone else decides to send a message further back by standing in front of where they were and going back in time, then how will that message change anything? I suppose it could send you the message before you even think about that, but what if it's spur of the moment? Will it send you a message just because you were going to do something? Then again, it's not as if those messages can't be used to get information. Dumbledore totally did that when he found that message saying "no".

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: DanielLC 04 September 2012 03:07:28AM 1 point [-]

Yeah. You can actually make arbitrarily long chains. You have each person go back in time and stop the next person if they're not stopped. You "start" the chain at the end, and depending on when you do it, you can send back one bit. For example, you give Alice, Bob, Carol, and Daniel time turners. At midnight, Alice goes back to stop Daniel if Bob doesn't stop her, at 6:00 AM, Bob goes back to stop Alice unless Carol stops him, etc. If the enemy attacks on the night of the 28th, Daniel stops Carol. If they don't, he doesn't. This means that if they attack, Daniel and Bob go back every day. If he does, Carol and Alice go back. You'd actually need a fifth person to make up for the fact that none of this is instantaneous, but if you have enough time-turners, you can send arbitrarily long messages arbitrarily far into the past.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 05 September 2012 01:10:08AM 2 points [-]

You don't actually know that Bob didn't see the enemy at the pass, you only know that for some reason, Bob didn't come back and tell you. Perhaps the reason he didn't is because you would have sent that information back in time, and so he couldn't.

Another possibility is that information loses "coherence" the further back it travels. (or forward, depending on which side your standing on) Think of it as a signal to noise problem - six hours isn't the limit, it's the limit of what we can correct for with the magic of the time turners. Prophecy seems to defeat the limit, but only by being nearly incomprehensible.

Or maybe it is possible, but insanely dangerous. There are hints that Atlantis was destroyed by something involving the time stream.

Comment author: DanielLC 05 September 2012 03:15:05AM 0 points [-]

Perhaps the reason he didn't is because you would have sent that information back in time, and so he couldn't.

But every time someone uses a time turner, they send that information into the past. If it didn't block them then, why would it block them now?

Another possibility is that information loses "coherence" the further back it travels.

There are ways of fixing that. For example, you could send people back in groups of three. Then you have them go back unless they're stopped by at least two people.

Or maybe it is possible, but insanely dangerous.

That's possible. The longer the time stream, the more likely that the closed time loop you end up with involves a hurricane or worse. I believe there was a book where the world ended because someone didn't think about that. You could prevent it by allowing a "maybe", so long as you make it likely enough that something you didn't think of doesn't become more likely.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 05 September 2012 06:10:22PM *  1 point [-]

Perhaps the reason he didn't is because you would have sent that information back in time, and so he couldn't.

But every time someone uses a time turner, they send that information into the past. If it didn't block them then, why would it block them now?

Because you would have sent that information back in time. It didn't block them "then" because they weren't going to send the information further back. The effect could be more subtle - instead of preventing you from succeeding, it could prevent you from trying (don't mess with time) or even make you not think of trying.

Another possibility is that information loses "coherence" the further back it travels.

There are ways of fixing that.

No, you can't "fix" it, you can only reduce the effect. If a signal is weak, you can amplify it. But that only works up to a point. And apparently, that point is six hours, even with magical amplification and correction.

I believe there was a book where the world ended because ...

I remember a short story by Larry Niven - Rotating cylinders and the possibility of global causality violation. The short story first appeared in Analog, was reprinted in CONVERGENT SERIES, and it contains the immortal line "I imagine the sun has gone nova". Because the universe protects its cause-and-effect basis with humorless ferocity.

Comment author: DanielLC 06 September 2012 05:50:36AM 0 points [-]

It didn't block them "then" because they weren't going to send the information further back.

They weren't planning on it, but the information was sent nonetheless. P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They came back) < P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They did not came back)

But that only works up to a point.

Not really. The amount of time you can send back increases exponentially with the number of people sent back. If you only get it right a third of the time, sending one guy back only works a third of the time, but sending a hundred people back, you'd get about 67 +- 5 people sending the right bit, and you'd get it right about 99.98% of the time. If you have two hundred people, you'd get it right about 0.9999997% of the time.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 06 September 2012 11:02:16PM 0 points [-]

They weren't planning on it, but the information was sent nonetheless. P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They came back) < P(Someone is going to go back and stop them from going back|They did not came back)

That presupposes that P(Bob came back) is not affected by your decision to send the information further on. I'm postulating that IF you would have sent the information further back, THEN P(Bob came back) = 0. Of course, it might not actually work that way, but if my supposition is correct, then Bob not coming back tells you nothing. The event only carries information if you aren't going to make use of that information.

Comment author: DanielLC 07 September 2012 04:40:12AM 0 points [-]

That presupposes that P(Bob came back) is not affected by your decision to send the information further on.

No. I gave an example in which it was not decided to send information back. It's simply impossible to go back in time without proving that you weren't killed by a time-travelling assassin.

Comment author: Pavitra 30 August 2012 11:37:12PM *  1 point [-]

Crossposted from the WMG page.

Under the potion conservation rule, creating an Elixir of Life would require inputting some sort of immortality. Fawkes killed Narcissa to create an Elixir ingredient.

Edit: I'm an idiot.

Comment author: chaosmosis 12 September 2012 01:41:15PM 0 points [-]

The Sorcerer's Stone isn't a potion. The immortality has to come from somewhere, and it's just as likely that it's produced by the stone as it is that it's produced by one of the stone's components.

Fawkes killed Bellatrix to create an Elixir ingredient.

I don't know what this sentence means.

Comment author: Pavitra 15 September 2012 06:49:54PM *  1 point [-]

For strength, you use Dugbogs that were crushed by a strong Re'em.

For heat, you use bronze that was forged in a hot forge.

For immortality, you use a corpse that was burned by an immortal phoenix.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 04 January 2014 02:13:41AM 1 point [-]

Speaking in terms of significance:

The Dugbogs were not crushed by a strong Re'em, but by a Re'em's strength. The strength was used to crush them, and the strength was what you got out of it.

The knuts were not forged by a hot forge, but by the forge's heat. The heat was used to forge them, and the heat was what you got out out it.

In your scenario, the immortality of the phoenix was not used to burn the corpse, so you cannot get immortality out of it.

Comment author: chaosmosis 16 September 2012 02:19:12AM 0 points [-]

K. I was confused because Bellatrix hadn't died, mostly. Your edit helped.

Comment author: chaosmosis 10 August 2012 06:24:17PM *  0 points [-]

I found a plot hole, but I've filled it in on my own rather well. It still poses potential problems though, as my solution might conflict with later details that will be revealed to us.

In canon, Voldemort learned how to make a Horcrux from library books. HPMOR added the Interdict of Merlin, which means that this couldn't have happened. The Interdict of Merlin means that Voldemort could only have learned how to make a Horcrux from a living person. At first, I thought that this broke the story. But then I found a solution.

The solution is that Voldemort must have broken into Nurmengard sometime before making his first Horcrux, where he would have extracted the information from the mind of the imprisoned Gellert Grindelwald. I think that should be possible, and it would actually fit very well from a thematic point of view as well.

However, there's the possibility that it would conflict with whatever backstory Eliezer has in mind for Quirrel's identity as the supposed last scion of an ancient house. Also, it limits the paths this story can take, because through my solution would give Voldemort knowledge about many of Dumbledore and Grindelwald's secrets, such as the existence of the Deathly Hollows, and it also makes Voldemort even more OP'd.

This comment exists so that we don't end up with a major, unfixable plot hole later on in the story.

Comment author: moridinamael 16 August 2012 07:01:50PM 2 points [-]

I am fairly sure that books can still contain information about spells and magic which is oblique or in the form of a riddle. The vast majority of wizards are insufficiently clever and dedicated to discover and then unravel the meanings of such riddles.

This is literally my favorite part of the HPMOR magic system - the fact that it is a magic system designed to reward Conscientiousness. There doesn't seem to be such a thing as "innate power levels" in HPMOR. If Voldemort and Dumbledore are strong, it is for the same reason that Hermione is strong; they are the most intelligent and diligent wizards of their generations.

Conversely, I think it would strain credulity to assume that Voldemort was, by chance, both a super-genius and the most powerful wizard. The simpler hypothesis is that one causes the other.

Comment author: chaosmosis 17 August 2012 02:17:45AM 0 points [-]

I like the Conscientiousness rewarding in the story too. I don't understand what it has to do with whether or not they get information from books though. There's a line somewhere in the text that almost literally says magic can only be passed from one living mind to another because of the Interdict of Merlin. So, unfortunately, reading doesn't seem to do much besides make you better at what you've already heard about from living teachers.

Riddles would be an interesting workaround, but nothing we've yet seen implies that works. And, there's not a relevant difference between simply reading something and solving a riddle - both use your mind, but apparently that isn't enough to get around the interdict of Merlin.

Comment author: Locke 10 August 2012 08:02:49PM 6 points [-]

I think it's pretty clear he got that information, along with many of his other dark secrets, from the Basalisk.

Comment author: chaosmosis 12 August 2012 03:13:10PM 1 point [-]

I forgot about that part. That makes sense.

Pengvado's comment means that the plot hole still existed. But the Basalisk is a better fix than Grindelwald.

Comment author: pengvado 11 August 2012 05:26:45PM 2 points [-]

I see the evidence for that, but I also see Dumbledore implying otherwise in chapter 39:

"Voldemort stole the book from which he gleaned his secret; it was not there when I went to look for it.

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: thrawnca 24 July 2016 10:33:10PM *  0 points [-]

you cannot be destroyed

In the sense that your mind and magic will hang around, yes. But your material form can still be destroyed, and material destruction of a Horcrux will destroy its ability to anchor the spirit.

So, if two people are mutual Horcruxen, you can still kill person 1, at which point s/he will become a disembodied spirit dependent on person 2, but will cease to be an effective horcrux for person 2. You can then kill person 2, which will permanently kill both of them.

All you really achieve with mutual Horcruxen is to make your Horcrux portable and fragile (subject to illness, aging, accident, etc).

Comment author: sboo 03 February 2014 01:58:35PM 0 points [-]

you can only horcrux matter, not "minds".

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: 75th 19 August 2012 04:26:22AM *  0 points [-]

Hangonasec. Is this, like, real? Are there jellyfish that don't die of age? Because your comment seems too random if it's not a real thing. But I'm not going to look it up, because if I do I might see pictures of undying deep sea creatures, which I don't think I can handle.

EDIT: Looked it up, and sure enough. Turritopsis nutricula. No pictures. And maybe lobsters, too. Crazy.

Comment author: MatthewBaker 11 August 2012 12:40:37AM 0 points [-]

I like it

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: chaosmosis 10 August 2012 06:39:49PM *  0 points [-]

In canon, Dumbledore claims that Voldemort's soul latched onto Harry's soul, which means that this would work. Dumbledore is very smart and knows much more about magic than I do, so I think that it would probably work.

Souls might not exist in HPMOR. But I think they very well might. Otherwise: 1. Dumbledore is wrong. That doesn't seem likely on the basis of his general intelligence alone. Since he's really experienced and has access to tons of knowledge Dumbledore is even more likely to be right because he has evidence for souls that we don't. 2. Magic becomes bizarre. Souls are really the only way to make sense of Human to Animal transfiguration, or the fact that Horcruxes require murder specifically to divide one's identity, and they're referenced a lot elsewhere in the magic system (for example, with the Dementor's Kiss). 3. Voldemort wouldn't have survived. But he did.

Since there's no HPMOR world evidence against souls, and some evidence for souls, rational people inside HPMOR should believe in souls. This is sort of similar to how rational people from thousands of years ago probably would have been justified in believing in a deistic God.

We, however, have access to a counterargument, because we live outside HPMOR. The best reason to disbelieve in HPMOR souls is that Eliezer probably wouldn't like them. That would overwhelm the above three problems, if Eliezer dislikes souls enough to either put a lot of extra work into the story in order to solve those problems, or enough to feel justified in leaving the problems as is.

I can't evaluate that, because I don't know Eliezer's preferences.

Comment author: gwern 10 August 2012 07:14:34PM 0 points [-]

In canon, Dumbledore claims that Voldemort's soul latched onto Harry's soul, which means that this would work. Dumbledore is very smart and knows much more about magic than I do, so I think that it would probably work.

Latching onto Harry's soul doesn't prove that mutual horcruxes would work since it doesn't address my example of destroying horcruxes one at a time, and I'm pretty sure Dumbledore nowhere says that the mutual horcrux scheme would work.

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


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

Comment author: Carwajalca 18 July 2013 08:06:59AM 1 point [-]

Nope, you weren't.

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: Sheaman3773 27 June 2012 05:22:02AM 0 points [-]

Let's look at Phoenix Fire transport for a minute, shall we?

First off, Dumbledore uses it. That needs no documentation, I hope.

Secondly, he uses it to transport Trelawney:

“He is coming,” said a huge hollow voice that cut through all conversation like a sword of ice. “The one who will tear apart the very—” Dumbledore had leapt out of his throne and run straight over the Head Table and seized hold of the woman speaking those awful words, Fawkes had appeared in a flash, and all three of them vanished in a crack of fire.

Thirdly, he uses it to transport Hermione and Harry (Demented & post-trial):

Harry caught fire and went out and blazed up somewhere else; and just like that he, and the Headmaster, and the unconscious form of Hermione Granger held in the Headmaster’s arms, were occupying another place; with Fawkes above them all. ... From a distant corner there was a flash of green, and from out of a fireplace strode Professor McGonagall, brushing herself off slightly from the Floo ashes.

But not McGonagall. So ve can transport Harry, Hermione, and Trelawney, in addition to Dumbledore, but not McGonagall? Why?

I searched for "crack of fire" and did not see any other examples of people traveling by phoenix fire, nor did I remember any. If you find any, I would appreciate a quote.

I am going to axiomatically assume that phoenixes cannot exclude their master from phoenix fire until they decide to leave. If you have any counterevidence, then I would appreciate hearing it.

“The phoenix chooses but once,” said the old wizard. “They might perhaps leave a master who chooses evil over good; they will not leave a master forced to choose between one good and another.

So they might leave their master, but until then, we exclude Dumbledore from any criteria that may exist about who phoenixes may transport.

It seems to me, as figures of Good, perhaps phoenixes can only transport the innocent, which would explain Hermione and Harry, for the most part, but not really Trelawney. It's possible instead that they just won't take Bad, or even Evil, but that hardly applies to McGonagall.

So in what definition of Good or Innocent would apply to Trelawney but not McGonagall?

Is it, perhaps, killing?

We know that neither Hermione nor Harry have taken a life, especially if MOR!Voldemort didn't die the way of canon. Trelawney frankly doesn't seem competent enough to get out of a serious fight alive, so I would assume that she hasn't killed. McGonagall, on the other hand, we know fought Voldemort, because she remembers crossing wands with him in battle.

She had encountered the Dark Lord four times and survived each one, three times with Albus to shield her and once with Moody at her side.

This implies that she fought at least four times, likely many more, and it seems unlikely in the extreme that she managed to avoid killing people every single time.

So my conclusion is that phoenixes cannot transport people-not-their-masters who have lost their Innocence by killing. It is possible that instead the barrier to McGonagall joining them is not about any facet of her specifically but rather that Fawkes can only transport three people at a time. Either way, this will become important in time, due to Conservation of Detail.


Comment author: moritz 28 June 2012 07:39:03AM 2 points [-]

I think you're reading too much into small details.

It could very well be that McGonagall doesn't like phoenix travel, or (more likely) that Dumbledore focused on bringing Harry and Hermione into the safety of Hogwarts as quickly as possible, while McGonagall has lower risk and is also able to defend herself.

Fawkes can only transport three people at a time

Somehow that also seems unlikely to me. Phoenixes are displayed as very powerful, both in MoR and canon. Their actions are more limited by their narrow goals and maybe limits of their intelligence than by limits of their magic.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 29 June 2012 05:39:10AM 0 points [-]

I think you're not reading enough into small details.

I'm not saying that your ideas are not possible. I'm saying, what would be the point of it? Wouldn't it have been easier just to write: "Harry caught fire and went out and blazed up somewhere else; and just like that he, McGonagall, and the Headmaster, and the unconscious form of Hermione Granger held in the Headmaster’s arms, were occupying another place; with Fawkes above them all." ?

I think it would have been easier. So why wouldn't he have written that, if it won't be relevant?

Comment author: matheist 21 June 2012 07:52:51PM 0 points [-]

I like the new changes to chapter 7 (I'm not sure how long they've been up). The conversation between Harry and Draco flows better, makes more sense for the characters, and the force of the original text is still present.

Two thumbs up!

Comment author: Yuu 19 June 2012 05:42:10AM *  0 points [-]

A small idea, how time turners may work, or how it can be described in the future chapters:

Let's assume that real travel back in time is not possible. But we can have mysterious source of magic somewhere, and this thing can be supercomputer or (and) superintelligence capable of correct prediction of events that will happen in some limited volume of space and time. And this superbeing can predict activation of time turner in future, predict mental and physical state of the person who will do that and create a copy of this person in the present time. "Magic" happens.

P.S. Wild guess: source of magic or one of its parts is somewhere inside Azkaban rock, just because time turners does not work there, which may be self defence mechanism.

Comment author: Merdinus 12 June 2012 03:15:02PM 0 points [-]

Did anyone else think there was no reason Neville should have noticed he was talking to Harry Potter when he was first introduced? I had a firm impression Harry was putting on the scarf when Hermione answered the door.

Comment author: Eneasz 14 June 2012 05:56:56PM 0 points [-]

He recognized his voice

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?

Comment author: 75th 11 June 2012 02:22:23AM *  0 points [-]

[I think my original response didn't understand the question; it was about rationality techniques in general, not this scene.]

Comment author: alexqwesa 08 June 2012 02:01:28AM *  0 points [-]

Hello, could anybody put all chapters in single HTML file?

You already can load all chapters in PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats of ebook, and there are exist links in main page of hpmor.com , but HTML is also format of ebooks and modern browsers have all eReader's features (like: story page position, marks, notes, user styles, and other...), I can say more - my web browser is my favourite eReader)))

So, please add link to single HTML file with all chapters to front page of hpmor.com .

Thankful in advance, alexqwesa.

Comment author: Zack_M_Davis 08 June 2012 02:29:27AM 3 points [-]

You should really email the webmaster (webmaster@hpmor.com) if you want that added to hpmor.com, but if you're impatient, I dumped all the chapters into one file (link may disappear later; I am not volunteering to host a mirror of Methods indefinitely).

(Technical note: EPUBs are really just ZIP archives of HTML files; so converting is as simple as unzipping the EPUB and dumping the chapters into a single file (something like "cat *.html > full_book.html" at a Unix-like command line.)

Comment author: wedrifid 08 June 2012 07:31:56AM 0 points [-]

(Technical note: EPUBs are really just ZIP archives of HTML files; so converting is as simple as unzipping the EPUB and dumping the chapters into a single file (something like "cat *.html > full_book.html" at a Unix-like command line.

Oh! I hadn't realised. That makes my audiobook creation potentially more convenient.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 June 2012 07:53:13AM *  1 point [-]

I don't think that catting together HTML files results in a valid HTML file.

Of course that probably doesn't matter in practical applications.

EDIT: Confirmed.

Comment author: alexqwesa 08 June 2012 04:09:58AM 0 points [-]

big thanks, you save my day)

Comment author: Zack_M_Davis 08 June 2012 04:47:47AM 2 points [-]

big thanks, you save my day)

And thank you for closing the regretfully unmatched parenthesis in my comment.

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: 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: CAE_Jones 13 December 2012 11:53:40AM 1 point [-]

I think EY might just not be familiar with the physiology of children. Didn't the original version of chapter 7 imply that Draco couldn't get an erection? Puberty is nothing resembling a requirement for those. And the alternate version of "boy who lived gets Draco Malfoy Pregnant" had female Draco as 13, when it would have made more sense for Harry to be the older one (boys hit puberty later on average than girls).

Comment author: gjm 03 June 2012 10:21:53PM 1 point [-]

Could you explain your last paragraph? Is it referring to any (sincerely or ironically) "amazingly insightful critics" in particular? What motivated cognition do you think might be their problem? (For the avoidance of doubt: I am not asking you to explain the concept of motivated cognition.)

The impression I get from that paragraph is that there are some specific people (maybe just one specific person) you have in mind, that you think their thinking is messed up, and that you're indulging in a bit of snarkiness. But I am unable to come up with any coherent idea of what they might have said that would make much sense (ironically or otherwise, snarkily or otherwise) of what you wrote.

Comment author: major 04 June 2012 08:13:32AM 2 points [-]

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

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

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

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

Comment 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: 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: 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: 75th 07 June 2012 03:23:35AM *  3 points [-]

I agree, and will be more blunt: making that change strikes me as the kind of thing a conservative Republican Christian home-schooler parent would do to their children's books using Liquid Paper and an ink pen, rather than something that a rationalist — who understands that someday kids need to realize that the world sucks and human beings do awful things to each other — would do to his own story, which he has made abundantly clear is intended for adults.

Eliezer should simply advise those parents not to read the story to their children, unless they're absolutely certain that the children are ready for grown-up subject matter.

Comment author: wedrifid 02 June 2012 08:39:27AM 0 points [-]

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

I didn't think it was kids that that particular removal was trying to make the story more friendly to.

Comment author: Merdinus 02 June 2012 06:37:59PM 0 points [-]

Who did you think it was trying to make the story more friendly to?

Comment author: GeorgieChaos 14 June 2012 05:06:50PM 1 point [-]

There are people in the world who can have their whole day ruined by the mention of rape. It's why we have things like trigger-warnings.

Comment author: Merdinus 08 March 2013 05:33:08PM 0 points [-]

Only just figured out my inbox =] at the time I wrote that, I was new to fanfic, and had literally never realized the negative effect rape-as-plot-device could have on some people. Just looked at the chapter on hpmor and noticed Eliezer didn't put a trigger warning, which I find surprising.

Comment author: NihilCredo 02 June 2012 09:43:23AM 3 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.

This is an explicit statement that the concern about kids reading MoR is what is prompting the revision, with minor considerations about Draco's character being secondary.

Comment author: Locke 02 June 2012 05:14:58AM 2 points [-]

I'm very much in favor of removing the Ghostbusters song from canon, and putting it in the Omakes.

Comment author: Merdinus 02 June 2012 06:31:27PM *  7 points [-]

No, man. It's era-appropriate and one of the few examples of Weasley awesomeness. It made me grin like a maniac when I read it. I think maybe having Rationalist!Harry chant the chorus was a bit off, but then, people do occasionally show odd bursts of confidence in front of strangers in humorous situations. It's a bit of a character-shift, but appropriate for the circumstance.

Edit: Months later, I just looked at the change, and it saddens me a fair bit. The replacement text feels like filler in comparison, and I'm afraid that when I convince people to try MOR they won't see him in the same awesome light I did so quickly. I feel like some of rationalist!Harry's mischievousness has been removed. I mean, I was almost pattern-matching him to a rationalist Bobobobo, but I enjoyed it.

Comment author: drethelin 02 June 2012 07:00:53PM 3 points [-]

I agree, though the version in the podcast is super awkward

Comment author: Eneasz 02 June 2012 07:08:54PM 1 point [-]

I was extremely self-conscious and awkward while doing it, I'm not surprised it came through.

Comment author: MatthewBaker 11 August 2012 12:51:07AM 0 points [-]

It wasnt bad Eneasz. Honestly, I will try to sing it some day and it will be way worse than yours but less awkward because I am not making the coolest thing ever for the rest of the interwebz trust me xD anyway tell Hermione shes AWESOME for me.

Comment author: Eneasz 14 August 2012 05:11:47PM -1 points [-]

I will let her know. :)

However I think you meant to direct this comment to Eliezer. I'm simply translating the coolest thing ever into audio format, he is doing the actual creating.

Comment author: Paulovsk 02 June 2012 11:47:44AM *  3 points [-]

I didn't understand the song (I haven't watched Ghostbusters), but I think the existence of a song itself to Harry, when he's walking down to the selector hat is a nice, funny point in the history.

That's why I think it must to be kept. It's one of those things that actually makes sense in the HPMOR world.

Comment author: 75th 01 June 2012 01:19:09AM *  0 points [-]

I was rereading Three Worlds Collide tonight, and a passage caught my eye:

On screen was the majesty that was the star Huygens, of the inhabited planet Huygens IV. Overlaid in false color was the recirculating loop of Alderson forces which the Impossible had steadily fed.

Fusion was now increasing in the star, as the Alderson forces encouraged nuclear barriers to break down; and the more fusions occurred, the more Alderson force was generated. Round and round it went. All the work of the Impossible, the full frantic output of their stardrive, had only served to subtly steer the vast forces being generated; nudge a fraction into a circle rather than a line. But now -

Emphasis added. The bold part sounds familiar, right?

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.

Frankly, I don't understand either phrase, and I can't tell by the context if their meanings are at all related. What does "nudge a fraction into a circle instead of a line" mean? In context, it seems to mean to change something but very slightly, yet still to great effect. But I don't see why the words "nudge a fraction into a circle instead of a line" mean that at all.

Is it a math thing I don't get? What does it mean? And can it help us understand the MoR prologue, or is it totally unrelated?

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 02 June 2012 12:07:22AM -1 points [-]

The first means that a fraction of the particles were nudged into a path that was a circle rather than a line. Apparently increasing the chances of fusion. As for the second a "fraction of a line" does not really mean much but it appears to be a comment on the size and form of the glinting thing.

Comment author: gjm 01 June 2012 09:40:08PM 1 point [-]

I'm pretty sure I know the meaning (or at least, so to speak, the structure of the meaning) of the phrase in TWC. Imagine first of all that you have some process that generates energy (from some source, such as the fusion of hydrogen into helium) and that's just about self-sustaining. Now, suppose you can arrange for some small fraction of the energy that was being generated and radiated out into the world (in, as is the habit of light, straight lines) to be fed back into the system (so it goes around "in a circle" instead). Then the energy content of that system will build up: slowly at first, but at an increasing rate. Eventually it'll go boom. Initially-small change, positive feedback, large eventual result.

Does this have any connection with the intro to HPMOR? For what it's worth, I'm guessing not. (Except that maybe that phrase was drifting around in Eliezer's unconscious and influenced his exact choice of wording.) It's by no means impossible, but without the extra context in TWC I don't think there's any way for "a fraction of a line" to be interpreted to mean anything like "a fraction of something that would have been radiated outward, instead captured to produce positive feedback", so it would be (so to speak) quite unfair. I expect that whatever the "fraction of a line" before HPMOR chapter 1 is, it can at least be described briefly to people without a mathematics/science/engineering background in such a way that "a fraction of a line" makes sense.

Comment author: matheist 25 May 2012 09:27:35PM 0 points [-]

I only just realized that Harry must have purchased that Spoon +4 in Diagon Alley, since he's not capable of wandless magic and we never hear of him using a wand when his spoon is stirring his cereal for him.

Interestingly, I also thought that the green goggles mentioned in the same sentence were a Wizard of Oz shoutout -- but they turned out to have an in-story use as well. When will we see bounce boots, knives +3, and forks +2?

Comment author: 75th 27 May 2012 09:27:51PM *  3 points [-]

Harry Potter's spoon absentmindedly stirred his breakfast cereal; he hadn't taken many bites of it this morning, not that Hermione had seen.

Harry's spoon wasn't actually stirring his cereal of its own accord; Harry's mind was just so far away from the breakfast table that his hand was doing it on autopilot, so that the spoon might as well have been acting of its own accord. When it says "absentmindedly", it wasn't the spoon that was absentminded, but rather Harry himself.

Comment author: matheist 29 May 2012 03:08:43AM 1 point [-]

Yeah, that makes sense. Good call.

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 22 May 2012 09:42:28PM 0 points [-]

Unfortunately, the Cvbarre Rssrpg was recently explained. But then, McGonagall's Presbyterian upbringing was recently explained, as well.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 22 May 2012 11:08:43PM 0 points [-]

Can you repeat the explanation, or point me to the link? I was pretty sure I wasn't the first person to see that question, but I didn't know it'd been Jossed. I wouldn't mind an explanation of McGonagall's Presbyterian upbringing either.

Comment author: arundelo 22 May 2012 11:41:20PM *  1 point [-]

The Cvbarre Nabznyl has been explained in real life (although according to the relevant Wikipedia entry, this explanation has not yet been universally accepted).

I don't know about the McGonagall thing.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 23 May 2012 01:13:31PM 0 points [-]

Cool! Thanks for the link.

Comment author: 75th 25 May 2012 12:02:36AM *  2 points [-]

Pottermore revealed that Minerva McGonagall's father was a Presbyterian minister, who kinda freaked out when he learned about magic. McGonagall in canon, therefore, was raised knowing perfectly well about Muggles; she wasn't a pureblood raised in the wizard world as MoR depicts.

So what I meant was that given that there's absolutely no way to write himself out of getting McGonagall's backstory wrong, I am perfectly content for Eliezer to not attempt to write himself out of this far subtler discrepancy from reality.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 22 May 2012 07:43:15PM 1 point [-]

This point has been independently worked out by a few people. I think there have been at least two threads on that subject (a while ago I posted the same thing and someone pointed then to a prior thread discussing the same idea).

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: Eneasz 23 May 2012 09:59:34PM -1 points [-]

It reminded me very much of Harry's line to Remus in Chapter 42 when Remus tells him not to judge his father too harshly, as they were only kids, and Harry says "I'm eleven and I judge myself"

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: 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: Eneasz 23 May 2012 10:02:04PM 2 points [-]

I believe it was discussed in Pretending To Be Wise, where Harry compares them to ghosts. Advanced but non-sentient partial simulations of people.

Comment author: Locke 14 May 2012 10:36:18PM *  2 points [-]

Even though Harry doesn't have magical-love-protection, I think we should take note of the fact that it's probably still in play and fairly broken.

If Quirrell could get Bellatrix to take a deadly spell from for him, he'd have Love's permanent protection against Dumbledore(if that were the caster). And, with the right amount of cleverness, he could probably arrange for her death to protect all death-eaters in the same way Harry provided protection to all of Hogwarts.

Frankly I wouldn't put it past Dumbledore to arrange for something similiar, for the greater good.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 May 2012 02:02:05AM *  3 points [-]

The way cannon magic seems to work, love-potion based love probably doesn't count as Real Love for purposes of protection.

Edit: In fact the quote at the top of the Potter wiki article on love potions says:

Powerful infatuations can be induced by the skilful potioneer, but never yet has anyone managed to create the truly unbreakable, eternal, unconditional attachment that alone can be called Love.

Comment author: Rhwawn 19 May 2012 12:09:44AM 2 points [-]

I cannot help but find that quote hilarious.

Comment author: Locke 18 May 2012 10:42:31PM 3 points [-]

Bella isn't under the influence of a love potion, though.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 19 May 2012 04:00:39AM 1 point [-]

Oops, I misread what you wrote.

Comment author: MatthewBaker 11 August 2012 01:22:54AM 0 points [-]

She is however under the influence of equivalently dark arts.

Comment author: 75th 15 May 2012 12:02:36AM 2 points [-]

What makes you so sure that magical-love-protection exists in MoR at all? Eliezer already changed the Godric's Hollow script to allow other likely possibilities.

Comment author: Locke 15 May 2012 01:24:28AM 1 point [-]

I think Harry's Memories of Godric's Hollow are supposed to tell us that Quirrell knew better then to allow the sacrifice to take place, not that it just doesn't exist. I think we'd probably know if Eliezer had completely removed it, just as he explained his nerfing of Unbreakable vows.

Comment author: MugaSofer 18 August 2012 01:40:18AM 2 points [-]

I thought this was showing Voldemort mocking Lilly - he agreed sarcasticaly, since it was obvious he would simply kill Harry next if she surrendered - but accidentally fulfiling the requirements for a ritual:

"You see, Mr. Potter, the chant of every ritual names that which is to be sacrificed, and that which is to be gained. The chant which you gave to Miss Davis spoke, first, of a darkness beyond darkness, buried beneath the flow of time, which knows the gate, and is the gate. And the second thing spoken of, Mr. Potter, was the manifestation of your own presence. And always, in each element of the ritual, first is named that which is sacrificed, and then is said the use commanded of it." -Chapter 74

I assumed this was meant to allow events near-identical to canon without Quirrelmort seeming incompetent enough to simply forget about the vast magical power sacrificing yourself for love provides. Indeed, I suspect such a resource does not exist in the MORverse, both because it privileges love - a fairly unremarkable neurochemical state - and because its just too easy to exploit. It seems out of place, somehow.

Comment author: 75th 15 May 2012 08:50:51PM *  2 points [-]

I think Harry's Memories of Godric's Hollow are supposed to tell us that Quirrell knew better then to allow the sacrifice to take place, not that it just doesn't exist.

What makes you say that? I have a hard time seeing how that conclusion follows from the scene we saw.

I think we'd probably know if Eliezer had completely removed it, just as he explained his nerfing of Unbreakable vows.

He explained his outside-the-universe rationale for nerfing of Unbreakable Vows after the nerfing appeared explicitly in the story. But to my recollection, we have not seen much (if any) talk about the mechanism of Harry's surviving the Killing Curse. No one, not even Dumbledore, has said a single word about a Sacrificial Love Shield. If Eliezer ever explains the mechanism of Harry's survival, it will be when the explanation is no longer a significant spoiler for future chapters.

Comment author: Locke 15 May 2012 11:01:34PM 5 points [-]

I think it was fairly obvious that he was manipulating Lily into not choosing to sacrifice herself for Harry. She was initially going to sacrifice herself "for him" and with a few choice words Quirrell got her to attack him.

There are many ways Eliezer could have had Harry not be eligible for magic protection, E.g. just have Lily try to kill Voldemort straight away. Instead he made it look exactly as it would if Quirell wasn't an idiot who didn't know anything about love magic and was trying to prevent a love-shield.

It's possible he was just screwing with her, but It seems too coincidental that for him to screw with her in exactly that way.

Comment author: 75th 16 May 2012 01:46:20AM 6 points [-]

She was initially going to sacrifice herself "for him" and with a few choice words Quirrell got her to attack him.

Ah, I see. You and I agree, then, that in canon, Rowling intended us to believe that it was the defenselessness of Lily's sacrifice that protected Harry. That if the scene had gone in canon as it does in MoR, with Lily trying to curse Voldemort, that the protection would not have activated.

But we disagree as to the reason for the differences Eliezer introduced. You think that the universe is the same, and that Voldemort explicitly tried to counteract the Love Shield. But I find, and given what we know of Eliezer's values I think that he would really find, that Rowling's implication — that Lily's defending herself would somehow cheapen her defense of Harry — is morally repugnant. Therefore, I believe that the rules in MoR's universe are likely different from canon's.

I think the more likely reason for the difference is not to show that Voldemort was clever enough to dodge canon!shield, but rather to indicate the nature of MoR!shield. Assuming that Voldemort actually did cast the Killing Curse at Harry, and that it actually did rebound and blow Voldemort out of his body, I think what happened — or at least what we're supposed to believe right now — is that Voldemort unwittingly entered into a magically binding agreement when he taunted Lily. He was amusing himself with his cruelty, but his words were his downfall.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 27 June 2012 03:44:28AM 1 point [-]

It was love. You see, when dear sweet Lily Potter gave her life for her only son, it provided him with the ultimate protection, I could not touch him. It was old magic, something I should have foreseen.

So, of course, in a universe with a smarter and more competent Voldemort, he does foresee it.

I see your point; the fact that their words appear to follow the structure of a dark ritual is interesting, but it's also subtle enough that I wouldn't give too high of a probability to that thought. Too many other things are going on around it that we just don't understand for us to really be sure of anything, I think, including what we are meant to believe and what we should believe.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 15 May 2012 08:59:58PM 0 points [-]

Voldemort specifically told her to leave. I think Locke is seeing that as an attempt to prevent the magic from triggering.

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: chaosmosis 11 July 2012 08:34:28PM 0 points [-]

rot13 please!

Comment author: arundelo 11 July 2012 08:56:30PM 1 point [-]

Eliezer has stated this publicly (not using the word "singularity", but I assume that's what Randaly was thinking of), so it's not subject to the spoiler policy in this thread's parent post.

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: matheist 01 August 2012 07:22:37AM 0 points [-]

Hm, that's a very good point. If Harry is aware of his own ignorance, then he might be willing to accept that there are ways of knowing things like "which spell did the dark lord cast", without actually knowing himself what those ways are.

In that case — i.e. in the case where Harry is aware of his own ignorance and is aware in that moment — then I have no idea what else the note of confusion could be.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 25 August 2013 03:33:34PM 1 point [-]

As I've thought before, the note of confusion could be why a spell that "strikes directly at the soul, severing it from the body" would leave a "burnt hulk of his body."

It's not doubtless, there are explanations for why this might make sense--perhaps it does kill at a touch, and then sets the body on fire; it's magic, who knows?--but this makes the most sense to me.

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: moritz 15 May 2012 02:03:45PM 0 points [-]

I dimly recall that in canon, Squibs are actually the children of two wizards. That contradicts Harry's finding directly.

But then Rowling probably didn't have any rules in mind about how magic inherits, so it might be impossible to come up with a good theory that explains everything we know from canon.

Comment author: [deleted] 02 August 2012 07:57:05PM 1 point [-]

Here's a new one.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 May 2012 01:59:31AM 3 points [-]

I had always assumed squibs are caused by point mutations.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 16 May 2012 05:46:33PM 2 points [-]

If Harry's theory is right, squibs can't be normal genetic descendants (mutation not withstanding) of wizards, but adultery is a very real, very common thing. Cannon does not rule out the possibility, though given that the books were meant to be accessible to children it's not surprising that Rowling doesn't go into detail on the matter.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 12 May 2012 08:18:28PM 1 point [-]

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.

Canon has Hagrid and Maxime (half-giant), Fleur and Gabrielle (one-quarter veela), and Filius Flitwick (part goblin). Veelas and goblins use forms of magic, but giants don't. That may be not because giants lack the genetic ability, but because they lack the attention or intelligence to learn how to make use of it, though. Goblins appear to have intelligence around human level, but use magic differently from witches and wizards.

Other species noted for using their own flavors of magic include house-elves and centaurs. There aren't any part-house-elf or part-centaur characters in canon or HPMoR, though.

Comment author: Yuu 13 May 2012 05:53:41AM 1 point [-]

I agree about giants, they may lack of training to use wizard's spells, but some of their abilities may be magic-based, for example, spell resistance, extra strength (comparing with non-magical creatures of the same size), maybe some regeneration ability.

Harry can make some broad study of non-human blood and find something interesting.

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: 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: jaibot 10 May 2012 09:45:55PM 3 points [-]

"Not magic" seems like the obvious answer to me. RL Humans have been doing terrible things to each other forever without breaking any laws of physics.

Comment author: cultureulterior 10 May 2012 09:09:27AM 1 point [-]

I'm not sure the Powers that Be at Hogwarts would allow her to be taken home by her parents...

Comment author: glumph 13 May 2012 03:59:37AM *  3 points [-]

Do Hermoine's parents even have the right to withdraw her? Harry's parents apparently do not have such a right:

Muggles had around the same legal standing as children or kittens: they were cute, so if you tortured them in public you could get arrested, but they weren’t people. Some reluctant provision had been made for recognizing the parents of Muggleborns as human in a limited sense, but Harry’s adoptive parents did not fall into that legal category (Chapter 26).

Comment author: cultureulterior 13 May 2012 09:31:02AM 3 points [-]

But Professor McGonagall had made other visits after her first trip, to "see how Miss Granger is doing"; and Roberta couldn't help but think that if Hermione said her parents were being troublesome about her witching career, something would be done to fix them...

This quote in particular makes that point...

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: 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: [deleted] 14 May 2012 12:48:49AM *  3 points [-]

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?

The probability you assign to a hypothesis should accurately represent your degree of belief that the hypothesis is true. Moreover, your degree of belief should be coherent with the rules of probability theory. Unfortunately, we human beings are notoriously bad at probabilistic reasoning. So while there are systematic methods for assigning probabilities based on evidence, it takes a lot of work to use them properly. For a lot of untrained people, myself included, the best we can currently do is see how we feel, attempt to quantify it, and try to constrain it based on rational factors.

If you want to learn more, a few key search words here are "Bayes' theorem," "heuristics and biases," and "debiasing." If you read through the sequences - a daunting task, I know - a lot of it is covered in detail. Or if you'd prefer to read some academic papers and books on the subject, I'm sure I and other users could make recommendations.

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: GeorgieChaos 14 June 2012 08:13:26PM -1 points [-]

Circumventing Horcruxes would be one option, certainly. Harry has already thought how blindingly stupid it is that the killing curse must be cast using hate in order to work. If he were going to change anything about it I would imagine that that observation would feature.

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.