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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86

9 Post author: Alsadius 17 December 2012 07:19AM

Edit: New thread posted 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 86The previous thread  has long passed 500 comments. 

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: 123456789101112131415, 16.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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 (606)

Comment author: ygert 17 December 2012 08:46:09PM 26 points [-]

Professor McGonagall looked like she was in pain. "Alastor - but - will you teach the classes, if -" "Ha!" said Moody. "If I ever say yes to that question, check me for Polyjuice, because it's not me."

Did anyone else laugh out loud at that line? :-)

Comment author: undermind 18 December 2012 09:43:14PM 10 points [-]

Another subtle point that was full of win:

"I cannot believe that guy's reaction time," Harry said, brushing off his Cloak as he stood up from where he'd been lying invisible on the floor, unseen by his previous self. "I can't believe his movement speed either. I'm going to have to figure out some way to zap him without speaking an incantation that gives it away..."

The "I can't believe it" is because it's not true - this is the moment he figures out Moody can see him when invisible.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 05:37:16AM 6 points [-]

I laughed at the face value of it, but I just realized the Goblet of Fire reference now. That's even funnier.

Comment author: Desrtopa 17 December 2012 09:17:30PM *  24 points [-]

I was thinking that as of this chapter, Harry now had enough evidence to promote to attention the hypothesis that Quirrell is actually Voldemort. He has reason to believe that Voldemort has access to a mechanism which allows him to take control of people and give them a portion of his power, and Quirrell's apparent backstory entails his having undergone a conspicuous increase in apparent competence, much like that which Moody and Dumbledore suspect of having happened to Lockheart. And he has the assurances of the Order of the Pheonix that Voldemort was really smart, no, seriously smart, trust us, you're still underestimating him. And he knows Quirrell is heavily misanthropic and cavalier with people's lives, and also he went out of his way to remove Voldemort's premier servant from Azkaban, who might be useful to other enterprising wizards if she was taught some of the lore of Salazar Slytherin, but also, as Harry has been told, is a key component in restoring Voldemort to power.

But then it occurred to me that given the fact that Quirrell's sudden spike in competence in his backstory occurred while Voldemort was still around, not after his death, he would have to draw the conclusion that Quirrell was playing both sides back then. I've been operating under that assumption for a while, so I'm biased with respect to evaluating how obvious it should be given what Harry knows. This may be enough to drop the hypothesis below the attention-worthy threshold for Harry right now. But Harry does have the information to raise this particular question: if Quirrell is so smart, and was fighting against Voldemort, why didn't Voldemort lose, the way Harry thinks the Order of the Phoenix would have if they were up against a really creative and powerful wizard?

Primary piece of evidence against: Voldemort tried to kill Harry, Quirrell has passed up multiple opportunities to let Harry die. If it weren't for this, I'd think Harry was being a bit thick for not having considered the possibility already, but this is awfully strong counterevidence.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 December 2012 06:59:18PM 6 points [-]

Voldemort tried to kill Harry

One person's modus ponens is another person's modul tollens. Reading this chapter made me update that Voldemort actually never tried to kill Harry.

  • He came for Harry (but he never said he came to kill him), probably motivated by the prophecy.
  • He killed everyone around (but he gave Lily a chance to leave).
  • He did something that resulted with scar on Harry's head.
  • Then someone (who exactly, if the event had no survivor besides a baby?) spread a story about how reflected death spell killed Voldemort.
  • And since then, nobody has ever seen Voldemort again.

From more recent history (Quirrel's description and self-description -- although he could have lied to us/Harry) we can reason that:

  • Quirrel enjoys company of smart people.
  • Quirrel enjoys role-playing; but he recently prefers role-playing a good guy, because villains naturally attract insane people.
  • Quirrel does not hesitate to kill people who cross his path, but that is instrumental, not a terminal value.
  • Quirrel is very, very smart.

So I guess that Voldemort, after hearing the prophecy, did not panic and try to kill Harry (unlike the Canon!Voldemort). Assuming that Voldemort/Quirrel is extremely smart and he knows how the prophecies work, he could expect that trying to kill Harry -- without "marking him as his equal" first, whatever that means -- would somehow magically fail, and that is an unnecessary risk.

Perhaps the original plan was to simply take Harry and raise him as a Sith apprentice; to make him Voldemort's equal in skill, but also charm him into a smarter version of Bellatrix Black. (Converting is better than killing, because you gain an ally; like Harry later tried with Draco.) But during the action he realized that people expect him to kill Harry, and that this could be a convenient way to get rid of the Voldemort persona. So he just -- made Harry his horcrux? performed on him a brain surgery to raise his IQ? -- and disappeared, pretending to be dead; only to return to Harry later as Quirrel.

Comment author: Desrtopa 23 December 2012 07:15:23PM 2 points [-]

I tend to think any line of action which ends up with Riddle losing his body and having to fall back on his horcruxes, given that he apparently wants his old powers back based on his efforts to get at the ingredients to revive himself and/or the Philosopher's Stone, probably contained some element of accident.

Also, the act of training his prophesied enemy, one of whom is bound to vanquish "all but a remnant" of the other, doesn't sound like a great way to serve his own interests. It's not like he's likely to subvert the prophesy and gain a powerful ally, it's just another avenue to empowering the person who's his greatest threat.

If I were in Quirrell's place, and knew about the prophesy, I would be wondering "in what way can I ensure that whatever person this prophesy refers to will be least likely to be able to defeat me, assuming our conflict is inevitable?" Keeping in mind that if I try too hard to make a candidate into a nonviable threat, the prophesy will probably turn out to be referring to someone else.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 18 December 2012 08:17:33PM 13 points [-]

Primary piece of evidence against: Voldemort tried to kill Harry,

I don't think we know that.

I've always thought it would have made more sense in the original series to have Voldemort purposely make Harry into a Horcrux.

If making someone else a horcrux transfers some of your power to them, that makes them stronger, and better able to defend your horcrux.

It starts to look like a mutual immortality defense league. A bunch of people get together making each other their horcruxes, so that they all can't die without all the others being killed first, they all have an interest in protecting each other, and they conserve the power that they'd otherwise lose to the creation of the horcrux by contributing it to another member of the defense league.

Comment author: Desrtopa 18 December 2012 10:03:05PM *  2 points [-]

We don't know that Voldemort tried to kill Harry, but Harry has much less reason to doubt it than we do.

An Immortality Defense League sounds much cleverer to me than what we actually see if Voldemort was trying to make Harry into a horcrux, which is a guy making a horcrux out of the infant child of his own enemies. That sounds a lot less tactically sound than willfully perverse; of all the people he could have deliberately made into horcruxes, I don't think he had good reason to single Harry out as being a good choice to ensure his immortality.

The only reason I can think that he would have had to single him out would be the prophecy, and that the sort of information where I would immediately wonder, in his place, if by horcruxing my own prophesied enemy, I would actually end up screwing myself over.

Comment author: undermind 18 December 2012 09:38:37PM *  2 points [-]

It's been implied elsewhere, but I'm pretty sure that in HPMOR, Voldemort has specific plans for Harry that go beyond merely killing him, which included him deliberately being made into a horcrux.

Some evidence for this: the odd italicized text fragments in the early chapters (which Eliezer has emphasized), Harry wondering many times at the convenience of Voldemort's supposed death, and repetition of the idea that Voldy should have a) known about sacrifice/dark rituals such as are involved in sacrificing yourself for somebody else and b) have had other, better, more guaranteed ways of killing Harry if that's what he had wanted to accomplish.

Actually, further to that, I really think Voldy was intentional with the whole horcrux thing, as shown by the set-up of giving Lily the chance to escape. One possible reason for this is for Snape's loyalty; another, which I consider more probable now, is that if she was going to die anyway it wouldn't have counted as a sacrifice for the purposes of the (horcrux) ritual.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 17 December 2012 07:52:04AM *  22 points [-]

This chapter, and the update to Chapter 85, are both fantastic. I hadn't noticed until now that Moody is the avatar of being pessimistic enough that your expectations overshoot and undershoot reality appropriately often (in the same way that Fred and George are the avatar of Aumann's agreement theorem), and I'm wondering what other avatars I'm missing.

This won't exactly be a new observation, but one thing I really like about reading MoR is that some of the most important events involve characters updating their beliefs, and in pretty much any other story the only way this happens is when characters announce themselves or other characters doing this, e.g. "Aha! So it was you who killed Prince So-and-so! You traitor!" and instead MoR characters update their beliefs inside their heads like sensible people and the reader has to figure out the nature of the update for themselves. I don't think I've seen this happen in any other story I've read, it is a great rationality exercise, and I more or less completely missed it the first time I read through. (That is, I noticed Harry doing a lot of updating because it's text instead of subtext, but it didn't occur to me that I would understand the story better if I kept track of updates going on in minds other than Harry's.)

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 12:02:27PM 7 points [-]

Moody is the avatar of being pessimistic enough that your expectations overshoot and undershoot reality appropriately often

It's funny that Quirrel ought to be that too, because he's hyperrational and reliably cynical about people, and yet his backstory is that he failed to conquer England because he wasn't cynical enough and thought people would follow a Light Lord instead of backstab him.

Comment author: ewbrownv 17 December 2012 07:23:36PM 22 points [-]

Actually, I see a significant (at least 10%) chance that the person currently known as Quirrel was both the 'Light Lord' and the Dark Lord of the last war. His "Voldemort' persona wasn't actually trying to win, you see, he was just trying to create a situation where people would welcome a savior...

This would neatly explain the confusion Harry noted over how a rational, inventive wizard could have failed to take over England. It leaves open some questions about why he continued his reign of terror after that ploy failed, but there are several obvious possibilities there. The big question would be what actually happened to either A) stop him, or B) make him decide to fake his death and vanish for a decade.

Comment author: RobertLumley 17 December 2012 11:24:33PM 10 points [-]

Actually, I see a significant (at least 10%) chance that the person currently known as Quirrel was both the 'Light Lord' and the Dark Lord of the last war. His "Voldemort' persona wasn't actually trying to win, you see, he was just trying to create a situation where people would welcome a savior...

This is exactly how I read chapter 85, and now 86 confirmed it. My estimate is way over 10%, probably ~60%.

Comment author: MugaSofer 18 December 2012 08:23:03PM 7 points [-]

Actually, I see a significant (at least 10%) chance that the person currently known as Quirrel was both the 'Light Lord' and the Dark Lord of the last war. His "Voldemort' persona wasn't actually trying to win, you see, he was just trying to create a situation where people would welcome a savior...

So, in other words, he lost twice.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 December 2012 10:46:10PM *  3 points [-]

The big question would be what actually happened to either A) stop him, or B) make him decide to fake his death and vanish for a decade.

Evil overlord list rule 230 is "I will not procrastinate regarding any ritual granting immortality.". Which he's shown to be aware of.

It makes sense, remaining evil overlord allows him access to all the materials of dark rituals and willing assistants, once he's achieved it successfully he has all the time he would like to do anything else.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 10:38:24AM 2 points [-]

One caveat - while Voldemort did seemingly try to set himself up as a Light Lord, the closest to such that actually existed in the end was Dumbledore. I think it's safe to assume that Voldemort is not Dumbledore.

Comment author: gjm 18 December 2012 02:02:45PM 7 points [-]

Although, actually, that would be kinda impressive.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 07:22:08PM 3 points [-]

I mostly wrote that comment as an excuse to write the last sentence, truth be told. It's an interesting enough theory(even if obviously wrong in this case) to make me wonder if any fics exist with it as a premise.

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 December 2012 06:12:14PM 21 points [-]

Now Mad-Eye Moody was turning slowly, always turning, surveying the graveyard of Little Hangleton. [...]

Moody didn't actually need to turn to survey the graveyard.

The Eye of Vance saw the full globe of the world in every direction around him, no matter where it was pointing.

But there was no particular reason to let a former Death Eater like Severus Snape know that.

Some time later:

"You see in all directions," Harry Potter said, that strange fierce light still in his gaze. "No matter where that eye is pointing, it sees everything around you."


Comment author: TobyBartels 17 December 2012 09:35:06PM 13 points [-]

Harry needs to think more before he tells people things just because they ask. Just because somebody's not Quirrell, Harry, doesn't mean that their knowledge has no consequences!

Comment author: Vaniver 17 December 2012 06:55:40PM *  12 points [-]

CFAR could make very good use of a lot more money than this while starting up. I don’t work for the Center for Applied Rationality and they don’t pay me, but their work is sufficiently important that the Singularity Institute (which does pay me) has allowed me to offer to work on Methods full-time until the story is finished if HPMOR readers donate a total of $1M to CFAR.

That's quite the author's advance!

Comment author: [deleted] 17 December 2012 08:01:07PM 11 points [-]

Speaking of which, isn't there anyone with CFAR-authority that wants to make a fundraising announcement post, as Luke did for SI?

Comment author: Vaniver 17 December 2012 10:11:27PM *  5 points [-]

I was curious about that as well. I suspect they have decided to wait until SI's fundraising drive is finished, for behavioral economic reasons as well as their prioritization, but it passes up the option to determine LWers' relative preferences for SI and CFAR.

Comment author: DataPacRat 17 December 2012 08:24:26AM 11 points [-]

Holy shamoly, I got name-dropped in the notes.

Now I've got even more incentive to blast apart my current writer's block on "Myou've".

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 December 2012 11:03:18PM 15 points [-]


To add to you incentive I'll donate £10 to the Against Malaria Foundation when you do (utilitarian blackmail?).

Comment author: razor11 22 December 2012 03:25:49AM *  10 points [-]

I found a review on ff.net that probably echoes with many others who are not as immersed in LW culture and even those that are. I thought a discussion of this person's points would be constructive so I've copied the review here: " So.

I have a few problems with this.

First of all, the use of terms and situations that the readers don't understand. In earlier chapters, you would do this, and then you would EXPLAIN the reference. That was something I liked. It was educational. Now, however, you're simply calling on references and expecting the audience to understand. I get that it would be irritating to have to explain everything, but it gets to a point where your fanfiction gets mixed up with your essays. And that's not good, because the result of this mixture fails to do the job of either a fanfiction OR an essay. Remember, the people who read this are unlikely to be previously familiarized with such sources.

Now, I don't think you're doing this on purpose, but to a reader who doesn't BREATHE the terms you use because they aren't in your field, it seems as though the only reason you include these are to make Harry seem smart. To you, it may seem natural for Harry to use such sources. To your readers, it seems pretentious, as though they are meant to consider Harry's educated-sounding thoughts as far beyond them. That brings me to another problem.

Harry is becoming a bit of a Gary Stu. He is portrayed as being far more intelligent than others, to the point that he becomes the center of all intelligent thought. Mcgonagall and Dumbledore are reduced to gasping over Harry's complex reasoning. I find it worrying that Harry doesn't bother to try to explain things to them because "they wouldn't understand." Also, Minerva is shown as being bewildered by Harry's discussion with Moody. The only characters NOT bewildered are Alastor, who is being spun as hypercompetent right now, and Quirrel, who is an established mentor figure.

Particularly disturbing was the scene with Dean. The way non-rationalists are portrayed is ridiculous. The whole scene gives me the feeling that the main characters have just converted to a religion and are mocking the practitioners of the old, who are characterized as shallow and wildly fanciful. It's really like you're saying that characters are !stupid until they are "saved" by Harry, who shows them the way of rationality. Mcgonagall herself is "he couldn't expect a witch to understand that." It reeks of superiority.

Furthermore, Harry has never been beaten. He has made mistakes with consequences, and learned lessons, but he has not been defeated in what he considers his own field. No one has out-reasoned him. Hermione has beaten him academically, but she is characterized as accomplishing this due to hard work and memorization, rather than being smarter than Harry. If Harry were to be defeated when he thought he had outsmarted the opponent BECAUSE the opponent outsmarted him, it would help to dispel this.

This is what I have to say. I hope that you won't simply think of this as a flame, because science forbids dismissing any argument on the ground that it is unreasonable without actually making it clear what said fallacy is.

Waiting for a reply,

A concerned constructive critic. "

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 22 December 2012 05:24:32AM *  4 points [-]

That "science forbids" statement is not great. I can dismiss lots of arguments in the name of countering privileging the hypothesis. I shouldn't need to argue against them specifically unless they were brought to my attention for good reasons. That's why I dismiss cranks who claim they've proven the Riemann hypothesis without reading through their proofs to find out where the error is. The mechanism that generates these proofs isn't correlated with mathematical truth, and the space of possible proofs is large.

Comment author: David_Gerard 23 December 2012 05:14:04PM 3 points [-]

You're missing the point that reader objections you can find a way to dismiss as irrational are still reader objections. HP:MOR is explicitly intended as propaganda; so irrational reader objections are particularly important.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 23 December 2012 10:47:26PM *  2 points [-]

I'm not dismissing the objection. It's a perfectly sensible objection. I am dismissing the statement I pointed out and only that statement. Perhaps I should have made that clearer.

Comment author: gwern 17 December 2012 11:25:59PM 10 points [-]

A reminder: there's an extensive Reddit discussion (>288)

Comment author: Cakoluchiam 17 December 2012 04:07:46PM *  21 points [-]

I'm a little surprised that HJPEV didn't immediately update his probabilities regarding Quirrell's motives in Azkaban with the new knowledge from Moody that "You've got to mean it. You've got to want someone dead, and not for the greater good, either.", which would seem to discredit the Defense Professor's excuse that "a curse which cannot be blocked and must be dodged is an indispensable tactic."

Comment author: Desrtopa 17 December 2012 05:22:20PM 21 points [-]

Not necessarily; someone who's as deeply misanthropic as Quirrell might wish most people dead (having killed before, he can, as per Moody's explanation, wish people dead rather more casually than non-murderers.) If you're already capable of bringing intent-to-kill to bear on pretty much anyone who crosses you, you can probably use it strategically the way Quirrell suggests.

On the other hand, even if Quirrell's explanation holds true, it does suggest Harry should revise upwards his estimates of just how cavalier Quirrell is with other people's lives.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 06:09:42PM 9 points [-]

just how cavalier Quirrell is with other people's lives.

Surely Harry already understands that Quirrel places no intrinsic value on other people's lives. Perhaps this understanding is not visceral enough yet, though.

Comment author: Tenek 17 December 2012 06:15:31PM 2 points [-]

It should already be pretty high though - Harry even points it out at the time (Rule 1 of Unforgivable Curse Safety) and Quirrell equivocates it away by mixing up etiquette rules with safety rules. That might just as easily have ended with "I just shot Bahry in the face" considering how fast the spell must be going - probably <100 ms to recognize he can't dodge in time, and push him away.

Comment author: Nominull 18 December 2012 06:50:49AM 7 points [-]

"One of the dark truths of the Killing Curse, son, is that once you've cast it the first time, it doesn't take much hate to do it again."

"It damages the mind?"

Again Moody shook his head. "No. It's the killing that does that. Murder tears the soul - but that's just the same if it's a Cutting Hex. The Killing Curse doesn't crack your soul. It just takes a cracked soul to cast." If there was a sad expression on the scarred face, it could not be read. "But that doesn't tell us much about Monroe. The ones like Dumbledore who'll never be able to cast the Curse all their lives, because they never crack no matter what - they're the rare ones, very rare. It only takes a little cracking."

I took this passage as saying that you don't have to be especially pathological to cast the killing curse a second time - Moody explicitly says it "doesn't tell us much". So if we trust him, it doesn't tell us much.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 18 December 2012 04:15:50AM 3 points [-]

Yeah, that kind of leaped out.

It also made me wonder how Quirrell and Dumbledore thought they were going to teach students the spell.

Comment author: shminux 19 December 2012 12:06:27AM 7 points [-]

Killing Curses don't kill wizards, wizards kill wizards!

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 18 December 2012 11:22:57AM 6 points [-]

You don't think you can teach children how to want someone dead for the sake of wanting them dead? Children can be very hateful. (At least, this could be what Quirrell is thinking, and Dumbledore could be thinking or hoping that the children just aren't going to be able to cast it.)

Comment author: bbleeker 18 December 2012 04:21:37PM 11 points [-]

I'm very glad I didn't know that spell when I was little.

Comment author: Exetera 17 December 2012 06:15:42PM *  2 points [-]

Remember that Harry had also learned that Quirrell had successfully used Avada Kedavra on two Death Eaters. Moody says that it isn't hard to cast AK for a second time, and Harry already knows that this time would have been at least Quirrell's third.

Comment author: [deleted] 18 December 2012 12:01:16PM 6 points [-]

Hypothesis (not sure if it has been discussed before): Assuming QuirrelMort wants (only) immortality, at least from now on (since Harry proved his ability to kill dementors) QuirrelMort will go to great lengths to keep Harry alive. Dementors are the only threat to Quirrel's safety which he is unable to deal with himself (being unable to cast any form of the patronus), and which everyone else is only temporarily able to hold back.

So, my rambled thoughts go something like this: QuirrelMort's terminal value is immortality for himself only, he is unable to love and places only instrumental value on the lives of others. (I.e. either you are an asset to him or you are an obstacle to be removed.) Which translates into the actions of: make loads of Horcruxes; make sure no-one destroys the earth using e.g. nukes; get rid of the dementors.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 17 December 2012 05:59:11PM 20 points [-]

Harry is slowly updating on the evidence that the wizarding community is not as grossly incompetent as he originally believed.

Comment author: moridinamael 17 December 2012 08:04:29PM 21 points [-]

I agree and it is extremely fun to watch happen to a character. All Harry's private scenarios of how to take over magical Britain in five minutes are a perfect example of his main character flaw: arrogance, or, his dismissiveness of the realities of politics as superfluous, "people stuff." It should be clear to the reader, anyway, that liberal use of Imperius would NOT be sufficient to take over the government, at least not for any meaningful length of time. Harry is making the same type of error that led to Voldermort's original failure, that is, modeling people as being simpler and dumber than they are, likely due to his own sense of superiority.

Totally unrelated, but I wanted to mention somewhere (and didn't think it worth making a new comment) that I laughed harder at "I once arrested a young Japanese who tried a similar trick. He found out the hard way that his shadow replica technique was no match for this eye of mine." than I have at anything in recent memory. (It is a Naruto reference.)

Comment author: Exetera 17 December 2012 08:12:14PM 15 points [-]

Remember that, in canon, Voldemort does indeed take over the Ministry with a few Imperiuses and a few assassinations.

Comment author: moridinamael 17 December 2012 08:14:33PM 17 points [-]

I think this is more Eliezer once again obliquely making fun of how shallowly Rowling imagined her own universe, that its government could be broken by essentially any individual wizard of moderate power.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 December 2012 10:59:28PM 3 points [-]

Well, and the fact he had support form a number of rich high ranking people and his own terrorist group to deal with any resistance after the fact.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 December 2012 07:27:47AM 13 points [-]

Moody has a magical eye. Therefore, Naruto has at some point fought him. QED.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 06:17:24PM *  5 points [-]

OK, so there are Moody and Voldemort, but pretty much every other wizard ever is grossly.incompetent. Any normal Moogle SF fan thinking for an hour, or Harry Potter thinking for five minutes, could run strategic circles around them and kill half of all Dark Lords who ever lived by owling them bombs. Better?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 18 December 2012 10:57:24AM *  11 points [-]

could run strategic circles around them and kill half of all Dark Lords who ever lived by owling them bombs.

Harry thought he could figure out who the Death Eaters were by checking their arms for the Dark Mark. Turns out it's not that simple.

Now he (and you) still think that you get rid of a dangerous enemy by owling them bombs. Does either of you even have any reason to believe that there isn't a magical precaution against sending dangerous objects through the owl mail system?

Comment author: Xachariah 19 December 2012 12:30:54AM 6 points [-]

Harry thought he could figure out who the Death Eaters were by checking their arms for the Dark Mark. Turns out it's not that simple.

Er, he broke that protection in about five minutes of thought. That's evidence for actually being able to run strategic circles around magical Britain.

Comment author: jimmy 19 December 2012 08:30:18AM 6 points [-]

Dumbledore did hand him the "You're wrong, think about it for 5 minutes" cue in a way that got him to do it. That kind of thing is crazy helpful.

Comment author: DanArmak 21 December 2012 07:27:16PM *  5 points [-]

And yet Dumbledore and everyone else he though of asking couldn't solve it themselves for twenty years. For the last ten years, Snape would have told them if they'd even made the right suggestion.

Comment author: DanArmak 18 December 2012 02:23:18PM 4 points [-]

Harry thought he could figure out who the Death Eaters were by checking their arms for the Dark Mark. Turns out it's not that simple.

Like I said, Voldemort is one of the only two or three competent wizards shown.

Does either of you even have any reason to believe that there isn't a magical precaution against sending dangerous objects through the owl mail system?

It's more likely that there isn't than that there is, and it's something to be (quickly and easily) tested. This particular example aside, owling bombs isn't intended to be taken literally; it's a stand-in for a simple attack that wizards don't expect. Any particular such attack may not work, but I strongly expect that if Harry dedicated a whole day to thinking up and actually trying such "low-tech" attacks, vetting them with Dumbledore against known defenses to save time, then he could come up with enough attacks to take down at least half the Dark Lords in recent history.

Comment author: CronoDAS 19 December 2012 05:39:23AM 3 points [-]

In the MoR!verse, at least, Dumbledore is screening Harry's mail instead of letting it go to him directly. So "owling hand grenades" won't work against someone who takes precautions to prevent it. The question is whether the target is taking precautions or is simply going to let owls deliver strange packages.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 17 December 2012 10:28:03PM *  25 points [-]

OK, so there are Moody and Voldemort, but pretty much every other wizard ever is grossly.incompetent.

No — they simply have not chosen to prove themselves to Harry, the viewpoint character.

I expect we'll find, soon, that Harry's model is wildly out of whack — adult wizards are, by and large, competent but flawed, especially the leaders and heroes. They simply do not let on to children everything they can do, nor their level of control over the world. Why? Because gifted children are not really all that rare, and teaching kids more magic than they are responsible enough to cope with is how you get Dark Lords — and dead kids.

Expanding on this — The purpose of magical education (e.g. Hogwarts) is not to teach kids as much magic as possible, to enable them to fix the world as Harry wants to do. The purpose of magical education is to safely and gradually expose them to magic, to maintain the current status quo and certainly to prevent any dumbass kids from destroying the world or killing each other. It also includes giving them chances to prove themselves responsible and skilled enough to wield more, and to put them in touch with adult wizards who might choose to individually teach more. But none of this is served by powerful wizards flaunting their top abilities in blatant and imitable fashion in front of the kiddies.

Comment author: novalis 18 December 2012 06:56:00AM 4 points [-]

Nothing stays secret from teenage kids for long. No conspiracy of a large size can be maintained for very long (especially if it must admit everyone). And the Lucius Malfoys of the world would want to give their kids every advantage.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 10:47:09AM 11 points [-]

Parents in the real world want to give their kids every advantage too, but few sign their kids up for calculus class and gun-range time at age 6, you know? Parental conspiracies aimed at preteen children are remarkably resilient things(cf. Santa Claus). Teenagers are harder, but you can rely on most of them not actually wanting to be bothered learning any more than they have to.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 December 2012 11:02:08PM 4 points [-]

kill half of all Dark Lords who ever lived by owling them bombs.

Meh, Minerva mentions that a trained wizard can deal with a gun, I imagine explosive deactivating spells would be a standard part of your self defence/mail checking spells.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 18 December 2012 04:23:37AM *  4 points [-]

Reminds me of Competent elites. I suspect we'll get some display of the order, Aurors and/or ministry civil service behaving competently soon and Harry updating his beliefs on them.

Outside the school setting what evidence do we actually have that the wizarding world is incompetent? [Not just operating self interestedly or on different values.]

Comment author: Sniffnoy 18 December 2012 07:11:14PM 3 points [-]

Note, the link in your comment is currently a Google link rather than a link directly to the post.

Comment author: Desrtopa 22 December 2012 05:30:35AM 5 points [-]

Ch 87:

It seems like Harry is falling prey to the typical mind fallacy in his conviction that it's impossible for anyone who hasn't entered puberty yet to experience romantic attraction.

He can't be an expert on everything, so I wouldn't be particularly surprised by his making what probably feels like a safe assumption, if prepubescent romantic attraction weren't common enough to have a well known colloquial name.

This is a case where human minds vary a lot more than a naive hormone-determinative view might suggest. Simply questioning my own social circle has turned up results from individuals who experienced no romantic or sexual attraction before puberty, to individuals who experienced either or both from early childhood.

Comment author: Tenek 19 December 2012 04:54:24PM *  5 points [-]

On further consideration of the Moody fight - as soon as Harry walked into the office, shouldn't he have seen all his invisible copies as well? Ch. 56 -

Bellatrix was still transparent within the Cloak, but to Harry she was no longer hidden, he knew that she was there, as obvious to him as a Thestral. For Harry had only loaned his Cloak, not given it; and he had comprehended and mastered the Deathly Hallow that had been passed down through the Potter line.

Comment author: Karl 19 December 2012 05:10:03PM 7 points [-]

For Harry had only loaned his Cloak, not given it

That seems like it answer your question: his invisible copies aren't borrowing the cloak from him because they are him.

Comment author: Tenek 19 December 2012 06:14:21PM 2 points [-]

OK. I'm thinking of this in terms of Harry being able to see Bellatrix because it's his cloak. Harry should then be able to see the other Harrys because they're also wearing his cloak, unless the Cloak distinguishes between "master" and "time-travelled master", or the "loan" part is significant enough that Harry wouldn't be able to see someone under the cloak if they just pick it up without him expressly loaning it to them. If that counts as "stealing" and transfers ownership then you could "loan" the Cloak to everyone and they'd never be able to take it from you.

There's something unsettling about a cloak that hides you from everyone, except its Master, unless the Master is also you.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 December 2012 12:52:18PM 4 points [-]

It seems reasonable that Cloak belongs to Harry. Then successive timetravels instatiate Cloak1 with owner Harry1, Cloak2 with owner Harry2, etc... What's unsettling is that Mad Eye can see through the true cloak of invisibility!

Comment author: pedanterrific 20 December 2012 05:11:29PM 3 points [-]

I think EY phrased it as "more narrowly-focused artifacts can defeat other artifacts in the area of their specialty", or something like that (does anyone have the reference?).

Of course, that still seems odd, because the Cloak's specialty is "being invisible" and the Eye's is "seeing in every direction at once, seeing through solid objects, and seeing magic including hiding or invisibility spells". I must be missing something. Maybe the Cloak's specialty actually has to do with Death, and the mundane invisibility is a side effect?

Comment author: drethelin 20 December 2012 09:31:06PM 3 points [-]

Maybe it's something to do with order of construction. Either the Eye is more ancient and thus more powerful in general, or the Eye was made after the Cloak and therefore its creator knew about and wanted to defeat the cloak.

Comment author: ahartell 20 December 2012 10:04:03PM 17 points [-]

Oh yeah, obviously it would be more powerful since it was made before or after the cloak.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 December 2012 04:27:37AM 3 points [-]

Hah, I wondered if someone would ask that. I reply that seeing through the Cloak is a 'requires concentration' ability. Harry deliberately doesn't concentrate before going back in time, because he doesn't want to fix anything via knowledge so as to leave himself freedom of action.

Comment author: NihilCredo 22 December 2012 05:29:01AM *  5 points [-]

I would say a small edit is probably in order, because "as obvious to him as a Thestral" definitely doesn't come across as an ability that requires any concentration.

But I think Karl's explanation is a much better one and should be canonical.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 December 2012 05:29:59AM 2 points [-]

Fair point.

Comment author: pangel 17 December 2012 10:37:24PM 5 points [-]

"Those who are spoken of in a prophecy, may listen to that prophecy there. Do you see the implication, Harry?"

Shouldn't Minerva see another implication, that Dumbledore has no reason to wonder whether he is the dark lord of the prophecy?

Comment author: EternalStargazer 19 December 2012 02:52:58PM *  6 points [-]

There is a more interesting implication in that section actually.

Light glinted from the reflection of Albus's half-moon glasses as the old wizard slowly shook his head. "I think that would be unwise," Albus said. "For reasons beyond the obvious. It is dangerous, that place which Merlin made; more dangerous to some people than others."

'To some people than others' implies Harry. Ergo, it would be more dangerous for Harry to go there.

Ergo, there are other things in the Hall of Prophecy which would effect Harry.

Ergo, there are more Prophecies about Harry there. We already know or can suspect one, the HE IS COMING one. (Which incidentally I suspect is 'TEAR APART THE VERY FABRIC OF SPACE AND TIME' and that [rot13] Gur Zna Haqre gur Ung, naq gur bevtvangbe bs n ohapu bs gurfr cynaf vf n Shgher Uneel jub unf tbggra nebhaq Gvzr Gheare erfgevpgvbaf. Ur shpxrq fbzrguvat hc naq vf gelvat gb svk vg, be ur qvqa'g naq ernyvmrq gung ur arrqrq gb qb gurfr guvatf gb rafher uvf bja gvzryvar.)

Also from this, since Dumbledore will not take him there, we can assume that whatever it is that Harry might discover there would be detrimental to Dumbledore.

On a meta note, it is also a reason (beyond the many others) for which Eleizer would have had to deny Harry a phoenix. Far too much freedom of movement for the plot to remain on any semblance of rails.

Comment author: drethelin 19 December 2012 05:18:37PM 3 points [-]

I'm pretty sure this is actually just Albus being well aware of Harry's nature, including his curiositiy and inclination to test things.

Comment author: DanArmak 21 December 2012 07:48:39PM 2 points [-]

Also known as Harry's Chaos Factor.

Comment author: hairyfigment 18 December 2012 12:14:27AM 3 points [-]

Surely that only applies if Albus tested it.

Others who tried to touch an orb, it was said, would be driven mad - or possibly just have their heads explode, the legends were unclear on this point.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 18 December 2012 12:21:18AM 8 points [-]

That seems to apply to actively trying to catch an orb, and succeeding. If you just stand about, any orbs relevant to you will come to you freely, no action required. So Dumbledore can see whether the prophecy speaks of him without having his head explode; but if it doesn't, can't personally check the wording.

Comment author: ChrisHallquist 17 December 2012 08:33:39PM 12 points [-]

One thing I really liked about this update is it helps explain why Harry hasn't figured out Quirrell = Voldemort yet. He's reasoning (perhaps without even having spelled it out in his head this way) that if Quirrell had been Voldemort, he would have won very quickly.

This is all fascinating, because it's a fairly good solution to the problem of "if Harry is so smart, why hasn't he figured out the solution to the problem that most of the audience has figured out by now?" I can't say I would have come up with that good of a solution to such a problem in any story I was writing.

That said, it seems like there are at least three conversations which could unravel the whole thing:

  1. Harry learns enough about horcruxes to make the Pioneer Plaque connection.

  2. Harry confesses about Azkaban, Dumbledore says "Harry, you fool!" and that's that.

  3. Hermione tells Harry about her recent conversation with Quirrell, confirming David Monroe = Quirrell = the plotter and suggesting the possibility that Voldemort was toying with Magical Britain for the fun of it during the war.

Comment author: ygert 18 December 2012 08:47:13AM *  13 points [-]

"if Harry is so smart, why hasn't he figured out the solution to the problem that most of the audience has figured out by now?"

Please remember that the audience has a lot more information on the subject than Harry himself, for not only do we get to see whats happening in the scenes of the story without Harry in them, we also have the huge advantage of having read the canon Harry Potter books. As Quirrell worked for Voldemort in canon, our prior probability that Quirrell is working for Voldemort is high, even before we read HPMOR. Harry on the other hand, hasn't even had a reason to consider that this is a possibility, let alone to assign a high probability to it.

Comment author: Desrtopa 19 December 2012 12:47:11AM 10 points [-]

1- Harry could conclude Quirrell made the Pioneer Plaque into a horcrux without coming to the conclusion that he's Voldemort. That Quirrell has made at least one horcrux is evidence towards him being Voldemort, but not all people who've made horcruxes are Voldemort.

2- This would probably convince Dumbledore that Quirrell is the top candidate for being Voldemort, but I think Dumbledore would need to follow it up with more investigation to convince Harry; I don't think Dumbledore has much more evidence to bring to the table if Harry lets this spill that he hasn't told Harry already.

3- Suspecting Quirrell as the plotter hasn't led Harry to suspect Quirrell as Voldemort yet, and I don't really see how hearing David Monroe's explanation of his backstory would lead Harry to conclude he was toying with Magical Britain for fun; he could simply conclude he's a largely amoral person who tried being good for the reward, but concluded that it wasn't rewarding.

Comment author: kilobug 19 December 2012 08:23:10PM 2 points [-]

Well, there is a thing that should at least ring a bell in Harry's mind to me. The "resonance" between Quirrell and Harry preventing their magic to interact which each other, when Voldemort transferred part of his magic to Harry, should be considered significant evidence towards Quirrell being Voldemort. Harry knows his magic partly comes from Voldemort, he knows Quirrell and his magic resonate in an unheard of way, and yet, he doesn't at least suspect a link between the two ?

Comment author: Alsadius 17 December 2012 08:37:04AM *  16 points [-]

I think I preferred the old version of 85 more than the new one. "The phoenix only comes once" seems a lot more made-up than Harry's original determination to abandon comic-book morality as soon as someone died, which felt very much in character.

86 is certainly interesting, even if it largely felt like a wrapping-up restatement of what we knew. That said, I loved the Moody duel, and after six months a bit of restatement is quite useful. Also, I'm torn between how to interpret Snape's last question - my first thought was that he was verifying the truth of a story he had been told("Your master tortured her, now join the light side already!" being the most likely), but upon rereading, I wonder if he was worried that she had been used as Horcrux fuel.

Comment author: Eneasz 17 December 2012 05:32:47PM *  20 points [-]

The new version was like a shock-glove-plated punch to the gut right at "I thought it was to my death I went". Wouldn't trade anything for that feeling. :)

Greater emotional impact in much fewer words. It actually feels awful, rather than sounding like a drawn-out rationalization. New version wins on both counts IMHO.

Comment author: drethelin 17 December 2012 09:42:24AM 5 points [-]

I get the impression that the phoenix is a rewrite prompted by someone pointing out to Eliezer that in terms of consequentialism abandoning that woman was the same as letting an innocent bystander catch a curse, so Harry had already violated the new vow he was taking.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 December 2012 07:34:22AM 5 points [-]

The title of the arc is "Taboo Tradeoffs". The phoenix was the original intended ending. I just couldn't get it written in time.

Comment author: Alsadius 17 December 2012 10:30:27AM 4 points [-]

Not really - she could be rescued, while a dead person cannot be.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 12:00:37PM *  13 points [-]

I never liked the old version. Harry pretty much admitted to himself that he was making a wrong choice, he expected his attempt to not kill anyone to fail, and yet he still delayed making the right decision because he couldn't accept it emotionally. That is not a superhero of rationality. Frankly, that is not someone to whom a phoenix would come.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 December 2012 04:36:23PM 16 points [-]

I think part of the point of HPMOR is that rationality is hard.

Like people, phoenixes need high but achievable standards, and I think you're setting yours too high.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 04:51:35PM *  8 points [-]

Phoenix utility functions are not human-friendly; they do time discounting differently from us. It's not that rationality is hard, but that true rationality combined with human values like Harry's does not meet with phoenix approval.

The post-edit Harry decided he would do the phoenix-right thing later. Once he decided that, the phoenix went away, and will not return. If he had decided that firmly earlier, presumably the phoenix would not have come to him in the first place.

The pre-edit Harry struggled with a similar question. To be consistent, I agree that a phoenix could and should have come to him while he was struggling. But once he had made his decision, the phoenix would definitely not come. Those are the phoenix rules, as given by the update to this chapter.

The decision Harry had come to pre-update was that he would not do whatever it took to free the prisoners of Azkaban; and also that he would not do whatever it took to protect his friends and strike down evil, until he allowed another person to die through being ineffective. Those are not decisions a phoenix would approve of. (Which is not to say I don't approve of them.)

Comment author: Alsadius 17 December 2012 07:32:22PM 4 points [-]

How so? So far as I can tell, in this war, nobody has died, and since we don't know it's a war against Voldemort again, we don't know that it's part 2 of a war where a lot of people did. Now, there's a good chance that the war will result in deaths, but "I should go around killing innocents if needed to win the war" is a pretty extraordinary statement, and I won't fault him for requiring fairly ordinary evidence to make it.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 07:45:58PM 4 points [-]

A war means people risk death, Voldemort or not. The last plot tried to have Hermione die in Azkaban, and (since Harry doesn't believe Quirrel did it) seemed designed to kill Draco right away; the next plot may succeed. And people are dying in Azkaban all the time, second by second.

Pre-edit Harry was unwilling to commit to killing as an acceptable instrumental goal given a sufficiently high payoff. Making a goal sacred and of infinite value, while also wanting to balance it with other terminal values, is a contradiction. Harry realized this, and did it anyway, and that is a rationalist sin. He disobeyed the rule that "if you know what you're going to think or do later, you should think or do it now".

Post-edit Harry is willing to commit to killing if that's what it takes. He asks Moody not to harm the suspect if possible, but he doesn't say they should not attack him if they expect to have to harm him. He is both a better rationalist and a better person.

Comment author: Alsadius 17 December 2012 07:53:28PM 5 points [-]

Harry's discussion with Moody in 86 didn't bother me. I'm referring specifically to the old version of 85. And remember that the vast majority of conflicts in the world don't turn out to be "war" - thus far, we've had one attempted murder and a jail that's basically a worse version of a stereotypical third-world oubliette. That's well within the realm of things police deal with on a regular basis. Police don't generally give themselves license to, say, burn Narcissa Malfoy alive.

(Anybody have a copy of old-85? I'd like to see the exact phrasings of it if possible, for continuing this discussion)

Comment author: gwern 17 December 2012 11:11:52PM 23 points [-]

(Anybody have a copy of old-85? I'd like to see the exact phrasings of it if possible, for continuing this discussion)

"What's that, Lassie? Somewhere a LWer is wishing they had made use of my archiving system so they could pull a particular page out of their local cache and upload it to Dropbox? Then we'd better hurry!"

Comment author: kilobug 19 December 2012 09:19:13PM 2 points [-]

The thing is that people aren't perfect rationalists, and part of being a good rationalist is acknowledging your own flaws and limitations.

If you accept to kill, you'll kill, even in situations where killing wasn't necessary, because you'll stop searching the hypothesis space when you find a solution that involves killing. Or because you'll estimate that killing one will save two, but your estimation was flawed - you killed one, and yet the two still die. And it's also something you should know about the way humans work, that once you did something once, it's easier to do it again - and the killing curse seems to model that quite well.

Harry putting himself a "I'll not kill" rule is him forcing himself to find solutions that don't require killing. Especially when you see how his "dark side" work, finding solutions to "impossible" problems when really pressured to do it, it doesn't seem irrational from him to test the hypothesis that he, with his rationalist training, and his "dark side" creativity, can find solutions that don't involve killing. And that only if that hypothesis is falsified, he'll resort to killing.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 20 December 2012 02:45:43AM 5 points [-]

I think Harry's mistake is that he has left himself no setting between, "no killing" and "all bets are off".

Comment author: Manfred 17 December 2012 09:53:06AM *  3 points [-]

I'm not sure if I liked the new version of 85 more than the old one.

Yeah - it's not so much the downer, that's fine, it's that I miss Harry's resolution. Hopefully that pops up later.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 December 2012 07:31:28AM 2 points [-]

I would've liked to include the resolution too - but there simply wasn't room for that and the phoenix. I decided the plot could better survive the surgery of one than the other.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 07:59:53PM *  8 points [-]

So I've got an alternate version that includes the important parts of both endings. Feel free to use or modify it if you like it.

The boy stood there on the rooftop, his own eyes locked with two points of fire. The stars might have had time to shift in their constellations while he stood there, agonizing over the decision...

...that wouldn't...


The boy's eyes flickered once to the stars above; and then he looked at the phoenix.

"No. Not yet," the boy said in a voice hardly audible. "I can do better. I can end death itself, not just Azkaban, if you give me the chance. If I can't stop death, if more have to die while I wait for the right time, then I will. But not yet. I still think I can win this without loss, and I won't...can't!...throw away that chance at a big victory later for a small one tonight."

Without word, without sound, a sphere of fire surrounded the bird's form, crackling and blazing with white and crimson veins as though it meant to consume that which lay within; and when the fire dispersed into grey smoke, no phoenix remained.

There was silence on the top of the Ravenclaw tower. The boy gradually lowered his hands from his ears, pausing only to wipe at his wet cheeks.

Comment author: Unnamed 18 December 2012 11:13:23PM 4 points [-]

"Well, there must've been some sort of love triangle," said a second-year witch named Samantha Crowley (she never answered when asked if there was any relation). "The question is, which ways was it going before it all went wrong? Who was in love with who - and whether or not that person loved them back - I don't know how many possibilities there are -"

"Sixty-four," said Sarah Varyabil, a blossoming beauty who probably should've been Sorted into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff instead. "No, wait, that's wrong. I mean, if nobody loved Malfoy and Malfoy didn't love anyone then he wouldn't really be part of the love triangle... this is going to take Arithmancy, could you all wait two minutes?"


Comment author: Tenek 19 December 2012 05:02:15PM 3 points [-]

Makes sense. Six possible one-directional (A loves B, B loves A, etc) relationships that can be either present or not, so 2^6 = 64. Each person has 3 graphs where they're disconnected but the others are not (A loves B, B loves A, A and B love each other), and one where there are no connections at all. 64 - 3*3 - 1 = 54.

Comment author: thomblake 17 December 2012 02:33:58PM 4 points [-]

Was it supposed to be obvious that David Monroe, Quirrell, and Voldemort are the same person all along? Is that why he was named "David Monroe"?

Comment author: sakranut 17 December 2012 09:46:02AM 9 points [-]

My thoughts: 1) It's becoming increasingly clear that - even though Harry has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and evidence by this point about Dumbledore, Quirrell, Lucius and Snape - he still knows little about Voldemort (e.g. motives, background, abilities, weaknesses). I am fairly confident that this is intentional on the author's part; withholding Harry's (and the reader's) knowledge about Voldemort is an excellent way to ensure that a Revelation of information occurs within the next few chapters about Voldemort's background. 2) We haven't yet seen Harry's reaction to the fact that Flitwick invented a Charm; presumably he will update his model of the nature of magic when he has time to process this. 3) The joke at the beginning of the chapter making fun of America's disconnect with the rest of the world was particularly brilliant and appreciated

Comment author: Desrtopa 17 December 2012 05:24:11PM 6 points [-]

We haven't yet seen Harry's reaction to the fact that Flitwick invented a Charm; presumably he will update his model of the nature of magic when he has time to process this.

Minerva already told him that people invent new spells all the time early in the story.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 12:05:40PM 4 points [-]

We haven't yet seen Harry's reaction to the fact that Flitwick invented a Charm; presumably he will update his model of the nature of magic when he has time to process this.

Without knowing the details of the process of researching new Charms, we can't really differentiate between "invented", "discovered", "created", and "learned". Flitwick is not a scientist and I don't trust him to report the difference correctly. The discovery itself is not on-screen.

Comment author: David_Gerard 17 December 2012 08:16:07PM 8 points [-]

Heh. Just noticed the explicit comparison of Moody to Rorschach.

Comment author: yobbobandana 20 December 2012 03:27:59AM *  6 points [-]

This really confused me until I realised you were referring to a comic book character, not a famous psychiatrist.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 December 2012 11:09:41PM 4 points [-]


Comment author: Eneasz 17 December 2012 11:59:00PM 22 points [-]

Gerald Grice. He was the first person Rorschach killed, and triggered his change. He killed Blair Roche, 6 year old girl, and fed her to his dogs. Both are named dropped by Moody as he discusses the Killing Curse.

Comment author: drethelin 17 December 2012 09:49:29AM 8 points [-]

What percentage of "facts" Moody exposits to the audience/Harry do we think are false or misdirection? At the least, the comment about Avada needing to find a soul is out of line with Canon where it can be blocked by inanimate objects such as statues.

Also: I look forward to the inevitable Moody/Quirrel showdown/makeouts.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 December 2012 11:05:41PM 10 points [-]

Given Moody's CONSTANT VIGILANCE I wouldn't be surprised at him randomly dropping false information into conversations, especially with suspiciously skilled young wizards...

Comment author: J_Taylor 19 December 2012 03:45:40AM *  14 points [-]

Moody drops all sorts of information, true and false, in his conversations and, when meeting that person again, will see if they recall it.

This is one of the ways he tests for Polyjuice users, animagi, and evil twins.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 December 2012 07:58:06AM 7 points [-]

Moody drops all sorts of information, true and false, in his conversations and, when meeting that person again, will see if they recall it.

This is one of the ways he tests for Polyjuice users, animagi, and evil twins.

I hope he also tests for information that is true that he hasn't actually given and wouldn't expect them to have.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 20 December 2012 02:56:05AM 2 points [-]

This is also a great technique for mapping out social networks, conspiracies, etc.

Comment author: gjm 17 December 2012 11:56:53PM 9 points [-]

On the other hand, given his preference for not losing the war against Voldemort he might perhaps avoid dropping too much random false information on a suspiciously skilled young wizard who is credibly alleged to be vital for winning that war.

Comment author: Manfred 17 December 2012 11:17:05AM 5 points [-]

Perhaps Dumbledore simply ensouled the statues.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 12:03:08PM 4 points [-]

With the souls of his enemies, muhahaha.

Comment author: Manfred 17 December 2012 12:04:15PM *  13 points [-]

The ritual involves getting right up next to your enemy and making a loud sucking sound.

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 12:08:50PM 12 points [-]

Pansy now believes she won't be affected by Adava Kedavra, and wants to join the Death Eaters.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 December 2012 07:41:19AM 8 points [-]

This would be an awesome prank to play on Pansy using a green light spell.

Comment author: MugaSofer 18 December 2012 08:15:37PM 4 points [-]

That's ... kind of disturbing, actually.

Comment author: Manfred 19 December 2012 03:38:31AM 4 points [-]

Yeah, my mental model of Harry was going "AAAAAAAAH!"

Comment author: ChrisHallquist 17 December 2012 12:19:33PM 9 points [-]

My guess is that this was a deliberate change. I always thought "cannot be blocked, except by inanimate objects!" was kinda lame.

Comment author: Desrtopa 17 December 2012 05:33:14PM *  32 points [-]

Suddenly Quirrell's using it in the duel with Bahry is looking a lot weirder. What happens when he dodges it, does it go straight through the wall and keep on going indefinitely until it hits someone? Isn't that a massive liability since he risks someone seeing it, thereby giving away his presence?

Being able to be blocked by inanimate objects might seem "lame" for an epic forbidden spell, but being able to pass through solid matter like a jet of neutrinos turns it into yet another game-breakingly borkable element like the Bag of Holding. Combined with the Eye of Vance, Moody should mostly be able to avoid dueling in favor of sniping dark wizards through buildings.

This seems like an uncharacteristic failure by EY to think things through.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 18 December 2012 12:03:29AM 6 points [-]

Maybe it hits a Dementor and that's how they reproduce.

Comment author: TrE 17 December 2012 08:27:27PM *  2 points [-]

Moody would have to take into account the coriolis non-force, at least for very-long-range shots. How fast does a killing curse move? Also, to what amount is a curse affected by curved space? Do they react to gravity at all?

Comment author: DanielLC 18 December 2012 02:16:24AM 15 points [-]

It's not clear what it would mean to not be affected by curved space or gravity, since there's no "straight" besides geodesics and no "non-accelerating" besides freefall, but that doesn't seem to stop much in the HP verse.

Speaking of curved space, I've noticed that there are spells to make things bigger on the inside. If you do this just right, you can create a singularity known as a cone point that ought to send any spell fired at it back in the direction of the caster. Also, you could make a faster-than-light drive, which could be used as a time machine.

Comment author: TrE 18 December 2012 07:38:32AM 2 points [-]

If the inertial mass of a spell is greater than its gravitational mass, it would appear that the spell doesn't react to gravity as much as it should. It is also possible that spells work a bit like brooms.

Comment author: DanielLC 18 December 2012 08:32:32AM 2 points [-]

Gravity doesn't work that way. Something not reacting to gravity under general relativity is like something stopping under special relativity (or even Galilean invariance). However, considering that there's a spell that does just that, this doesn't mean much.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 19 December 2012 05:22:51AM 8 points [-]

I hereby declare Arresto Momentum to match the velocity of a small mass to the velocity of some much larger mass that the wizard thinks is a reference frame.

Comment author: MugaSofer 19 December 2012 12:32:43PM 6 points [-]

Does that mean Harry can't use it (becuse there is no universal reference frame) or he can use it in all sorts of munchkiny ways (I stop the car ... relative to the moon!)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 December 2012 12:29:54AM 4 points [-]

Well, for one thing, he's not powerful enough to cast it period, but if he were, I expect it would only work on near / nearest masses.

Comment author: Alsadius 19 December 2012 09:37:41AM 2 points [-]

So what would it do with a wizard who had truly internalized the principle of relativity, and who understood that there was no privileged reference frame? Could he use it to de facto impart an arbitrary velocity to an arbitrary object?

Comment author: syllogism 17 December 2012 04:44:04PM 6 points [-]

So if you fire it at the ground, can you kill someone on the other side of the Earth? Not being blocked by inanimate objects is kinda lame too.

Comment author: thomblake 17 December 2012 04:48:44PM 18 points [-]

Don't worry, the power drops off with the inverse square of the distance. It's lethal at pretty much any reasonable range, but then drops off quickly after a half mile or so.

I just made that up.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 08:31:00PM 12 points [-]

Actually, it spreads as an Airy disc, which gives it a radius of about 300 metres at the far side of the planet, and the effect is divided among all the souls it hits. If you hit a city on the other side of the planet, you just take a couple days off everybody's life. (The technical term is "statistical homicide")

Comment author: faul_sname 17 December 2012 05:15:25PM 4 points [-]

You would have to get extremely (un)lucky to do so. A human, lying down, takes up about 1 m^2 of space. Even if you fired it at a city with a population density of 10000 people/km^2, you'd still only have about a 1% chance of hitting someone (if you could even aim well enough to hit a city from 12000 km away).

Comment author: shminux 19 December 2012 12:17:21AM *  2 points [-]

Like an ordinary muggle missile, KC was designed with a built-in self-destruct mechanism, which is activated when its target is not hit. Thus you die if you block a curse aimed at someone else, but not if the curse misses the target and you happen to be in its path.

Comment author: ygert 17 December 2012 04:13:42PM 2 points [-]

This. If not this, Moody is lying, which is possible, as Moody is the type to keep information like that "in reserve", but I actually doubt that is the case, as sooner or later Harry would witness for himself a killing curse being cast, and would find that Moody had been lying.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 18 December 2012 02:00:27AM 7 points [-]

Moody/Quirrel showdown/makeouts

Moody♠Quirrell ... no, just no.

(Harry seems to have been through quadrant vacillation between Hermione and Draco, though. Hermione starts flushed for Harry, who doesn't reciprocate, so she goes pale instead to prevent him from becoming a Dark Lord. Harry♦Hermione seems pretty stable, although Harry has some pale infidelity with Draco — who briefly waxes caliginous before attempting to auspiticize between Harry and Lucius. After Draco drops Hermione, she tries to set up Harry♥Draco, not knowing that Draco has more ashen aspirations ....)

Comment author: Locke 18 December 2012 04:07:17AM 5 points [-]

Some of us are going to need a link explaining this system.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 18 December 2012 04:23:17AM 7 points [-]
Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 05:28:59AM 10 points [-]

That, if anything, makes the system less clear.

Comment author: taelor 18 December 2012 12:33:39PM *  3 points [-]

This is a reference to the webcomic/multimedia series Homestuck by Andrew Hussie, which features a species of timetravelling aliens known as the Trolls due to fact that the first ones that the protagonists meet were actual internet trolls. The Trolls have their own wierd system of romance built around four quadrants: the flushed quadrant (denoted with a ♥) which loosly aproximates what humans think of as romantic love; the pale quadrant (♦) which is sort of an intense platonic friendship wherein one partner serves as a stablizing force on the other, more unstable partner; the ashen quadrent (♣) whereby one partner attempts to mediate between to otherwise violently opposed partners; and the caliginous quadrant (♠), which can be described as "romantic hate", and involve such things as "hatesnogging" and "murderfondling". A more detailed description can be found here.

It should also be noted that this thread already contains at least on reference to a Hussie creation (cousin_it's "HP: Punch AM in snout to establish superiority"), so it's likely that fubarobfusco was primed to interpret things in that light.

Comment author: MixedNuts 18 December 2012 01:03:47PM 6 points [-]

What do you mean, "no, just no"? Here are two extremely competent characters who will inevitably be pitted in full force against each other. They both respect competence in others (and likely relish a bit of a challenge), so they will necessarily admire each other, more and more as they get the measure of their respective power. They're not naive preteens drunk on their first slightly creative idea, they're adults with a lifetime of experience who know exactly how to have a rivalry. They'll never grow tired of playing against each other and they know that perfectly well. You will forgive me for shipping that just a little bit.

It's odd, being reminded that in the mainstream mentioning slash is on the level of potty humor, when in the world I normally inhabit you're supposed, on pain of being called a narrow-minded Philistine, to appreciate a story's literary value whether or not it's angsty porn in a setting based on dogs' social and reproductive habits where men get pregnant.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 17 December 2012 10:15:22AM 2 points [-]

The comment about Avada being unblockable strikes me as Eliezer either not doing his homework or tweaking canon. If it were blockable in-universe Dumbledore would know this in addition to Moody (IIRC Dumbledore does one of the canon blocks) and would have pointed this out during the conversation (unless Dumbledore and Moody conspired beforehand to keep Harry ignorant of this for some reason, which, y'know, penalty for complexity).

Comment author: [deleted] 22 December 2012 10:23:20AM 3 points [-]

Had whoever made this been reading HPMOR?

Comment author: Ritalin 25 December 2012 10:26:22PM 2 points [-]

"Hermione would object" No, she wouldn't; she's English.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 December 2012 05:23:53AM *  3 points [-]

If you were completely unrestrained by ethics, armed with the ancient secrets of Salazar Slytherin, had dozens of powerful followers including Lucius Malfoy, and it took you more than ten years to fail to overthrow the government of magical Britain, it meant you were stupid.

I tend to agree with Harry that a smart wizard could do devastating damage to magical Britain far beyond what Voldemort accomplished. Maybe with Time Turners, all bets are off.

But taking that as given, I see two assumptions above that may be false.

Voldemort was failing to overthrow the government - assumes that he was trying to overthrow the government. Voldemort is completely unrestrained by ethics.

Both of those assumptions have problems.

Voldemort seems like a fine bogey man to be destroyed by some hero, who is then crowned king. If you're looking to be king, you can't do without a Voldemort. Likely he wasn't trying to overthrow the government, he was trying to have the people hand the government to him. Or maybe he wasn't trying to rule at all. Maybe this was his grown up version of Hogwart's armies, so that he was just teaching them how to fight.

As for ethics, Quirrell doesn't seem unrestrained by ethics. He's not big on minimizing suffering, but he does seem to have a sense of justice. And Voldemort backing down in the face of Dumbledore's reported immolation of Narcissa seemed unnecessary and more like an excuse to stop the violence.

Comment author: pedanterrific 21 December 2012 06:35:53AM 11 points [-]

An excuse to stop, or further evidence of the 'teaching them to fight' theory?

Dumbledore's eyes were like stones. "I am told that Voldemort laughed at the news, and proclaimed to his Death Eaters that I had finally grown, and was at last a worthy opponent. Perhaps he was right. After the day I condemned my brother to his death, I began to weigh those who followed me, balancing them one against another, asking who I would risk, and who I would sacrifice, to what end. It was strange how many fewer pieces I lost, once I knew what they were worth."

One hundred Voldemort points to Mr Dumbledore, and twenty points to Gryffindor.

Comment author: undermind 18 December 2012 10:22:17PM 3 points [-]

Prophesies are good things to read closely:

...for those two different spirits cannot exist in the same world.

Given the large amount of magic-space travel that's been hinted at, I see this as a pretty clear indication of the final outcome of this fic: Voldy and Harry each get their own planets. It could also be the reason Voldemort has deliberately left Harry alive on many occasions (twice Quirrell saves him, on top of deliberately making him into a living horcrux instead of simply killing him. (comment here)

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 December 2012 10:47:05PM *  4 points [-]

Yeah, the surface meaning of the "different worlds" and "all but a remnant" changes is that Harry won't have to track down the Pioneercrux. So?

Comment author: undermind 18 December 2012 11:22:19PM *  2 points [-]

I was enjoying the interpretation that each of them gets their own magical world optimized as they see fit, which would be such a lot of fun, though I agree that the "all but a remnant" line shoots that down, unless you want to be really dodgy in your interpretation of it (e.g. Harry's mortal body dies, but he gets uploaded).

Just leaving the Pioneercrux going slowly out to infinity, to possibly have Voldy reform in a galaxy far, far away means that we don't get any actual story in space. (Well, it doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility, but makes it a whole lot less probable). And my assessment of this fic is that Eliezer really can't resist bringing magic to space for several chapters, because a) he's demonstrate a need to constantly escalate in awesome; b) as a reader, I expect all the hints of magic-in-space to come to something significant; and c) just think of all the references he would include to every SF ever.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 December 2012 12:54:03PM 3 points [-]

It might also be possible that spirit is meant, not as in soul, but as in attitude. E.g. "the enlightenment spirit".

Comment author: Eneasz 17 December 2012 10:54:44PM *  10 points [-]

Voldie isn't like any other Legilimens in recorded history. He doesn't need to look you in the eyes, and if your shields are that rusty he'd creep in so softly you'd never notice a thing.

Harry and Quirrell spend a lot of time together, and now we learn that he might not even have to look Harry in the eyes. How much of Harry's brain has Quirrell already mapped out? Perhaps this is why he is always playing "one level above you". Maybe this is why Harry doesn't notice some things he otherwise might.

I'm going to start reading all their conversations assuming that Quirrell can read all of Harry's thoughts in real time the same way we can, and interpret all his statements in light of that. Could be interesting.

Comment author: Locke 18 December 2012 04:00:51AM 15 points [-]

They can't interact magically, so no.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 December 2012 07:36:40AM 16 points [-]

This is in fact a major literary reason for the above. :)

Comment author: Desrtopa 18 December 2012 04:03:06AM 5 points [-]

Signs of leglimency can be detected, so if Quirrell is leglimizing Harry, he may be risking getting caught.

The fact that Harry has an occlumency teacher who uses leglimency on him in an instructional setting might serve to disguise other people using leglimency on him though. We don't know what kind of evidence checking for leglimency can provide about recency and whether the mind has been accessed by different people.

However, I doubt that Quirrell has been using leglimency on Harry, because there's a point where you're really just giving the antagonist too great an advantage, and if Quirrell has been accessing the contents of Harry's mind undetected, I would have an incredibly hard time buying the protagonists not being completely fucked (tvtropes link.)

Comment author: Manfred 18 December 2012 06:12:10AM 4 points [-]

I suspect that Voldemort's legilimency though occlumency barriers may have been the same sort as Quirrell's in Ch. 49.

Comment author: pedanterrific 19 December 2012 08:21:32PM 3 points [-]

Oh, you mean a bluff using knowledge gained by other means? That's an interesting thought. Quirrell does do that a lot when we know he couldn't be using Legilimency, doesn't he?

Comment author: drethelin 17 December 2012 11:19:30PM 4 points [-]

He also had this ability before Harry ever started learning occlumency so it would be possible for him to sneak past if anyone could.

Comment author: Benquo 20 December 2012 06:30:05AM *  3 points [-]

"Common sense is often mistaken for Legilimency," said Dumbledore.

Comment author: yobbobandana 20 December 2012 03:44:22AM 3 points [-]

At one point the Defense Professor does give a plausible reason why he might have resolved not to use Legilimency.

From Chapter 74:

His head fell back against the chair, lolled to one side, the eyes no longer meeting Harry's. "But these small games hardly hold my interest as they stand. Add Legilimency, and it ceases to be a game at all."

Comment author: cousin_it 17 December 2012 10:01:24PM 11 points [-]

HP: Punch AM in snout to establish superiority.

Anyone else getting tired of this? Harry does it to everyone he meets, including Minerva and Hermione.

Comment author: shokwave 17 December 2012 10:31:10PM 12 points [-]

Everyone else: presume HP is inferior; withhold information.

I can see both sides of it.

Comment author: cousin_it 17 December 2012 11:02:00PM *  5 points [-]

Yeah, that's the other side of the same complaint :-) I'm not complaining about Harry's behavior, but about Eliezer putting so much macho posturing (and opportunities for it) into the story.

Comment author: Desrtopa 18 December 2012 04:15:32AM *  10 points [-]

Well, the premise of the story necessitates that Harry be an eleven year old boy and that he be highly competent. Having people constantly underestimate him is a practically unavoidable consequence.

Harry could just quietly, secretly exceed people's expectations, but when those people are his allies, it's probably a poor strategic decision.

Comment author: undermind 18 December 2012 11:33:02PM 3 points [-]

It's okay, he's just rewriting Ender's Game.

Comment author: Protagoras 19 December 2012 01:44:03AM 2 points [-]

There is a little too much of that for my taste. There are plenty of other things going on as well in the story, enough of them to keep me interested, but the bits that seem to be just Ender's Game don't impress me. Being smart isn't nearly that reliable at producing victory in battle; there are too many details of execution that matter tremendously, and there's just generally too much unpredictable stuff going on. Admittedly, there have been historical generals who consistently won, but they always had some consistent edge that for some reason their enemies couldn't fully duplicate or counter (higher technology being an obvious possibility, or perhaps ability to recruit soldiers from a population that already possessed useful, difficult to develop military skills not practiced elsewhere).

Comment author: Desrtopa 19 December 2012 02:20:18PM 10 points [-]

Harry hasn't won consistently. He's lost plenty of mock battles, and while he sometimes gets his way against adults, he's sometimes thwarted. Harry also does have a couple advantages that can't readily be replicated by other characters, namely his technological and scientific savvy, and the True Invisibility Cloak, and the time turner which can't be replicated by most of his opponents.

Eliezer wrote ages ago that he gets people complaining that Harry wins too often and isn't sufficiently challenged, and people complaining that he loses too often and doesn't accomplish much, and considers himself to be doing his job properly if he's at least getting similar amounts of each kind of complaint.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 05:38:30AM 11 points [-]

He admits freely that Moody would have kicked his ass in a real fight, so I'm not sure how much actual superiority was established there.

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 December 2012 05:27:02PM 7 points [-]

Just because Harry's learned to keep his claws sheathed doesn't mean he's not still engaging in dominance contests.

Comment author: Alsadius 18 December 2012 07:30:16PM 6 points [-]

I think in this case it's more an "I'm not as pathetic as you think I am" contest. Nobody's going to mistake him for the best duelist in that group, but he's not willing to concede complete inferiority. It's certainly a status game, it just doesn't rise to the level of "establish[ing] superiority".

Comment author: JamesAndrix 21 December 2012 07:09:40PM 3 points [-]

Moody set it as a condition for being able to speak as an equal.

Comment author: earthwormchuck163 18 December 2012 02:28:03AM 7 points [-]

I bet a large portion of the readership would have been disappointed if that didn't happen.

And in this particular case, that was the only fast way for Alastor to gain enough respect for Harry's competence that they could cooperate in the future. It wouldn't have been consistent with his already established paranoia if he just believed Dumbledore & co.

I can imagine this getting old eventually, but imo it hasn't happened yet.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 December 2012 11:11:32PM 5 points [-]

Yes, but its fun to watch.

Comment author: drethelin 18 December 2012 07:18:00AM 2 points [-]

It happens a lot, but you wouldn't expect it to happen only a LITTLE with a super intelligent 11 year old.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 18 December 2012 08:45:43PM 4 points [-]

I'm bothered by Harry's "recovered memory" of Voldemort killing his mother. Firstly we are told, at the time of its first narration, that Harry almost-notices that something is wrong with it. Secondly, the recover-memories-from-before-you-were-verbal thing seems, I don't know, kind of off. It's the sort of thing that would be possible if popular conceptions of how memory is stored were true. And thirdly, while I can see James trying to hold off Voldemort - and incidentally, he can't even dodge the very first AK that Voldemort casts? Isn't he an experienced combat wizard?- why doesn't Lily use the moments thus bought to snatch Harry and Apparate out of there? Really, it should be very hard to kill an adult wizard who knows you're there. The scene seems engineered for maximum emotional impact rather than combat realism.

On the other hand, it's hard to see how a false memory would be useful. If it is false, who benefits thereby, and who had the chance to implant it?

Comment author: Nominull 18 December 2012 08:57:43PM 7 points [-]

Apparation can be blocked. That's what makes Dark Wizards more dangerous than any other monster you might fight - you can't just Apparate away.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 18 December 2012 09:44:40PM 6 points [-]

It can be blocked, yes, but this appears to be a fairly major jinx, the equivalent of a lot of capital equipment. Hogwarts is known to be anti-Apparation jinxed, as is Azkaban, but I don't recall any other places where it's mentioned. (Ministry of Magic, perhaps; implied by the workers there commuting in a fairly standard fashion instead of just Apparating from their homes.) It's not clear that it can be installed on an average wizard's home. Anyway, you'd think it would prevent inward, but not outward, Apparation by default; you don't want to be suddenly attacked but you might want to make a quick escape.

Dumbledore captures (in that fanfic by Rowling, that is, not the canon) some Death Eaters by preventing their Apparation, but he has to duel them first, so he might as well have cast AK.

All that aside, she's an experienced combat wizard with a few seconds to spare. If she can't Apparate, she still has the option og grabbing Harry, blowing a hole in the wall, and running. "Accio Broomstick", anyone? Or whatever flight spell Voldemort uses to go up the stairs without footsteps.

Come to think of it, why were they hiding in an apparently average home without special defenses, and relying on mere secrecy? Put them in Hogwarts, with its layers upon layers of magical fortifications. Draco states that Hogwarts is an impregnable fortress, and presumably Voldemort thinks so too since he doesn't attack Dumbledore there and end the war at a stroke.

Comment author: Desrtopa 19 December 2012 02:30:05PM 8 points [-]

This has come up before in the tvtropes discussion thread, but personally I operate on the assumption that apparating in a combat situation is simply beyond the skills of most wizards. It requires deliberation, which is probably hard to muster when someone is firing death beams at you, and if you tried it you'd probably get splinched. It's probably doable for really exceptional wizards, like Voldemort or Dumbledore, but not for your average auror, let alone the average joe wizard.

Highly tactically useful feats that are extremely difficult to perform would be one major reason why some wizards can be so much more dangerous in a fight than others when wizards far from the top of the scale are capable of firing death beams.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 December 2012 05:30:08AM 2 points [-]

but personally I operate on the assumption that apparating in a combat situation is simply beyond the skills of most wizards.

Port keys? Those seem an obvious precaution in a wizarding war.

Comment author: Desrtopa 21 December 2012 05:48:39AM *  2 points [-]

I can't think of any particular reason that wouldn't work, unless Voldemort or the Death Eaters in general have some way of stopping them prior to the attack. Maybe the anti-disapparition jinx (which is an area of effect spell rather than a targeted one according to the Potter wiki) also affects portkeys? Or perhaps there's another spell. The Death Eaters might simply jinx their targets' houses before attacking.

If there weren't some way of preventing people from using them, I'd think having a portkey in the house in a readily accessible place, to teleport out of harm's way, would be standard response for anyone at particular risk in the war. Given that this apparently didn't stop the Death Eaters, I assume that it's preventable.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 19 December 2012 05:37:07PM 2 points [-]

Ok, that's a good point. So what about blowing a hole in the wall and fleeing into the night?

Comment author: Desrtopa 19 December 2012 06:47:30PM 2 points [-]

I assume that he'd catch her if she tried. He can fly.

Comment author: Nominull 18 December 2012 11:43:13PM 5 points [-]

I was basically quoting Quirrell from his first DDA lesson. He says that he's teaching defense against wizards because they can keep you from being able to run. From this I drew the conclusion that wizards can keep you from being able to run, and this is a problem you might have to worry about in practice, even when facing wizards less powerful than Voldemort.

Comment author: Randaly 19 December 2012 11:05:35AM 2 points [-]

Rowling-canon strongly implies that Dumbledore was the reason Voldemort didn't attack Hogwarts; that is, Dumbledore's presence at Hogwarts protected the castle, and not the other way around. Hogwarts fell very soon after Dumbledore's death. However, while Dumbledore may have prevented Voldemort from outright capturing Hogwarts, in the same way he stopped Voldemort from outright capturing the Ministry, he proved unable to prevent Voldemort and friends from repeatedly sneaking into the castle, and he doesn't have the time to personally guard the Potters 24/7.

Comment author: Alsadius 19 December 2012 10:06:10AM 2 points [-]

"that fanfic by Rowling"? Heh.

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 December 2012 11:05:43PM 2 points [-]

The last paragraph makes a good point. In a world without the Fidelius, why wouldn't they be at Hogwarts? Hmm.

Comment author: Exetera 18 December 2012 10:42:27PM *  5 points [-]

Cross-posted from the TVTropes forum. (There's more to the post there, but I didn't think it all needed to be repeated.)

Why would this important? Well, obviously, this memory represents a huge turning point for Harry. This is when he started to turn against Dumbledore. It suggested to him an interpretation of his parents' death in which Dumbledore deliberately set them up for it. This interpretation of events is itself a bit suspect; Harry thinks (Ch. 46) he came to it sometime during or immediately after the period of his Dementation, but he can't quite place exactly when that was, and it certainly doesn't appear in his narration at the time. He is presently sticking to this interpretation even after receiving information that should falsify it: according to Snape, it is impossible to tamper with the memory of a prophecy.

And, let's not forget, there's another reason this is important: the memory is leaking back into Snape. According to Minerva, Snape is held to Dumbledore's service by his guilt over Lily's death. Whether or not Lily was tortured seems to matter to him... perhaps Dumbledore had told him that she was. Now, Snape knows that the memory falsifies torture; this may weaken the bonds tying him to Dumbledore. This is without even touching upon Harry's interpretation of events, in which Dumbledore deliberately set up Lily and James to be killed in order to bring down Voldemort. Obviously, should Snape come to the same conclusion, his anger over the death of Lily will suddenly pivot and he will become unpredictable.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 December 2012 05:41:09AM *  3 points [-]

I wondered whether he had been memory charmed with that memory, but since Harry could see Thestrals afterwards, I assumed it was a real memory.

One of the problems of fiction, and particularly magical fiction, is that all the rules aren't spelled out. If you're memory charmed with the scene of a death, does that allow you to see a thestral?

EDIT: IN Chapter 86, a very strange description as Harry recounts his memory of his parents' death to Snape:

Slowly, like a body floating to the surface of water, Harry returned from wherever he'd been.

Sounds like someone coming out of a memory in a Pensieve. And Dumbledore did race him off to his office, alone, when he got demented.

BUT, at least in the narrative, Harry's remembering occurs before being taken off to the office.

Comment author: mstange 21 December 2012 12:39:34PM *  7 points [-]

I think it was implied that the memory wasn't the cause for Harry being able to see Thestrals; Harry seeing Death in the form of a Dementor was. From Chapter 49:

"They are visible only to those who have seen death and comprehended it, a useful defense against most animal predators. Hm. I suppose that the first time you went in front of the Dementor, your worst memory proved to be the night of your encounter with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"

Harry nodded grimly. It was the right guess, even if for the wrong reasons. Those who have seen Death...

Comment author: TinyTimZamboni 15 July 2013 08:59:05PM 2 points [-]

There's a typo: search for "door swung shot"; should be "door swung shut"

Couldn't find a more appropriate place to post, please advise.

Comment author: Larks 18 December 2012 07:14:00AM 2 points [-]

The moment such a test is suspected, the Mark ceases to bind our tongues.

They should separately interview each Death Eater (and see if Obliviate works) to get some bits of information out of each of them before they cotton on.

Comment author: pedanterrific 18 December 2012 05:23:28PM 4 points [-]

As long as we're talking about circumventing the Dark Mark- The Mark turns visible based on whether the DE knows he's made, so they could bluff the Mark by arresting someone and acting completely convinced he's a DE before examining his arm, rinse and repeat.

Comment author: ygert 17 December 2012 04:26:06PM 2 points [-]

Who thinks that Lockheart was in fact possessed by Voldemort? It seems unlikely given that in canon Lockheart "accomplished" these deeds in a very different way, and there is no reason why he could not have done so here as well. (By the way on Predictionbook I estimated a 15% chance, but that is starting to look to high now that I am thinking it over a bit more.)

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 18 December 2012 12:10:46AM *  17 points [-]

Moody going after Lockhart is Moody privileging hypotheses involving Dark Wizards; nobody's a perfect rationalist in this story, and Moody's experience causes him to privilege hypotheses involving Dark Wizards and discount hypotheses involving Huge Wankers.

Comment author: drethelin 18 December 2012 07:20:31AM 13 points [-]

Well Lockhart sort of IS a dark wizard. From Moody's point of view he's someone obtaining power far faster and more effectively than he should, but even in reality he's someone who's systematically robbing people of their achievements and wiping memories.

Comment author: thomblake 17 December 2012 04:49:07PM 4 points [-]

Almost certainly not.

Comment author: Tenek 17 December 2012 05:57:56PM 3 points [-]

I don't. GL's canon strategy provides a perfectly reasonable explanation for all his supposed feats, and I didn't see anything in 86 to suggest this is going to be a major divergence. I expect it'll go something like the other CoS reference - at some future point we'll get a "gee, looks like he's just a fraud, moving on" with a possible joke about him teaching Defense.

Comment author: ChrisHallquist 22 December 2012 07:02:47AM 3 points [-]

Two comments on chapter 87.

First, Harry you arrogant git why didn't you ask Hermione how she's so sure Quirrell is the culprit???

(Sadly, the way this was done made it completely believable for Rational!Harry.)

Second, I was laughing hysterically after "You were doing SCIENCE with him? "