Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: Val 26 February 2015 07:39:22PM 0 points [-]

That's true, but if someone is no longer a threat and is more valuable to him alive than dead, then why kill him? Using this logic he would kill everyone he meets.

Comment author: gjm 26 February 2015 09:21:29PM 0 points [-]

Everyone he meets who is the apparent subject of not one but two prophecies that gravely threaten Voldemort's continued existence. I think that's a little less than everyone.

Comment author: William_Quixote 26 February 2015 05:07:05PM 4 points [-]

I agree with you about the writing but I have a nearly opposite prediction.

I notice that in all the Harry talking to himself or reflecting quietly chapters he allways thinks something along the lines of "there seems to be almost no limit in what you could accomplish with magic if you really understood it". Several times his mind circles around the becomus godus spell and considers some avenue and decides it wouldn't work for some reason or another. In each case after thinking that his mind goes off on some other tangent.

So my prediction is that Harry has his situation get worse and worse until he can do nothing but think about how to et out of it. And while thinking and being forced not to divert his mind to other matters he will review clues that were allready available to us (had we been paying closer attention) and by reviewing the right facts in the right order he will deduce something about how magic works. That deduction will allow him to cast some absurdly powerful spell that solves his problems.

Comment author: gjm 26 February 2015 05:45:57PM 5 points [-]

I remark that

  • it has recently been pointed out that Harry's Patronus v2.0 is powered by his life as well as his magic and that this (at least according to Voldemort, so obviously it's true) makes it more powerful than it could have been if powered by just his magic
  • even the small fraction of his life he was able to give up on the spur of the moment was enough to restore Hermione's life and magic, which even Voldemort was unable to do on his own
  • in canon, central to Harry's ultimate victory is his willingness to die

and suggest that if your prediction is correct, what powers his absurdly powerful spell may be the sacrifice of the whole of his life and magic.

(Hmm. The power of a potion in HPMOR is determined by what went into making its ingredients, a curious and probably important discovery that hasn't been applied yet for anything other than winning playfights. What went into making Harry was, among other things, the power and ingenuity -- and in some sense even the life -- of Lord Voldemort. Maaaaybe.)

Comment author: Vaniver 26 February 2015 05:09:20PM 2 points [-]

I'm really looking forward to the resolution. I have no idea what it is going to be, but I fully expect it to be glorious. I do know it won't be Harry casting "Problemsolvius" or someone showing up casting "Savethedayius". I know this because Elizier went to great length to crush that expectation at every possible avenue.

So, maybe Harry uses partial transfiguration to kill all the Death Eaters. This still does nothing to solve the Voldemort Problem. And so it seems most likely that the Voldemort Problem is not the actual problem of the fic. As others have linked, Voldemort proposed a long time ago that he would duel Harry and "lose," and then Harry is established as the eventual philosopher-king of Britain. Maybe, decades from now, Harry manages to stop Voldemort; but probably not.

Comment author: gjm 26 February 2015 05:38:53PM 3 points [-]

The most salient alternative actual problem is the Death Problem. It seems like if Harry manages to solve the Death Problem then the Voldemort Problem may get a lot less important (though whether it does probably depends on exactly how he solves the Death Problem).

Comment author: Lumifer 26 February 2015 05:02:16PM 0 points [-]

A third reason is that "pain" is somewhat ambiguous. Does schadenfreude count?

Comment author: gjm 26 February 2015 05:31:28PM 0 points [-]

Yes, good point. I kinda just assumed it really meant "suffering" in some generalized sense, rather than anything narrower.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 19 February 2015 05:07:29PM *  3 points [-]

1) Warmongering, finding violence cool, hawkery, militarism It is a scope insensitivity issue. War was not so costly in human lives and suffering when it was about a tribe raiding another with arrows and bows. Having the same hawkish, yee-haw, let's kick some butt instincts in an age of world wars and nukes is incredibly dangerous.

When people still fought with arrows and swords genocide was extremely common. The Mongol invasion of China for instance halved the population. The modern world is less violent than at any other time in history, although I admit that there is the potential for things to go very bad very quickly.

2) Tribalism, us vs. them

I think women do this too.

3) Setting up gendered standards, "a real man should so-and-so", often combined with sexism and homophobia largely in order to set up a contrast ("You hit like a girl! That is totally gay!")

But there is a gender-reversed version of this too ("you're reading mech eng? Dyke!")

4) Sexism and homophobia getting detached from serving as a contrast and becoming a problem on its own Obvious enough. The core problem is a miscalibrated scope like expecting all men to be tough instead of a subset only

Fair enough, expecting all men to be tough isn't helpful because different people are different.

5) A dislike of softness and coddling leading to the opposing of compassionate social policies, being a proud self made hard worker, not wanting to pay taxes to pay welfare lazy people

If capitalism is masculine and redistribution polices are feminine and pacifist then explain why every famous communist I can think of is male, and most of them killed a lot of people.

I'm not saying that this means that basic income is wrong, or will involve killing people (this time it will be different!), just that this is at best a massive oversimplification.

While I agree that men's instincts are not adapted to the modern world and are not designed so that everyone can live in harmony, nor are women's instincts. Broadly I quite like your idea of tribes, but the justifications for why this is necessary seem a little dubious.

Comment author: gjm 26 February 2015 05:11:50PM *  2 points [-]

explain why every famous communist I can think of is male, and most of them killed a lot of people

Because the only communists famous enough for you to think of them (as famous communists) are famous for being in charge of big important countries, and people in charge of big important countries tend to be male and often kill a lot of people.

(Famous communists who so far as I know didn't kill a lot of people by any reasonable definition include, e.g., Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Plus any number of people who lived in the Soviet bloc and were probably communists but are famous for other things; the USSR produced a lot of people who were famous as chess players, scientists, musicians, etc., but those aren't so relevant here.)

[EDITED to fix garbled sentence structure.]

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 26 February 2015 03:30:18PM 1 point [-]

Okay, time for a poll:

Do you believe that "taking pleasure in someone else's unwanted pain" exists in some humans?


Comment author: gjm 26 February 2015 04:58:14PM 2 points [-]

I'm unconvinced that this is a good question, for two reasons.

  • If it exists but is incredibly rare, the answer is still "yes". And for pretty much anything you can briefly describe, there exist people who take pleasure in it.
  • There are probably substantial numbers of people who, e.g., take pleasure in unwanted pain when inflicted as punishment for something they strongly disapprove of. This may or may not be a bad thing, but it doesn't seem reasonable to say that it's evil by definition. (And I guess that James_Miller didn't intend to.)

So I think we'd get nearer to James's intent if we asked whether a substantial fraction of humans (let's say, at least 3% or so) take pleasure in other people's unwanted pain for its own sake.

Comment author: UnrequitedHope 26 February 2015 04:21:34PM *  0 points [-]

Is there anything on why people prefer to consume, rather than make things themselves?

This thought crossed my mind when my mom bought cookies today. She always buys them, never makes them.

I'm compelled to say something like "lazyness", but I could say this only applies to my mom. But on a larger scale, what makes people consume, but never produce?

(no ad hominem please)

Comment author: gjm 26 February 2015 04:48:09PM 2 points [-]

I'd have thought it pretty much has to be a combination of

  • laziness
  • impatience
  • humility (i.e., thinking others can make better than oneself)
  • habit

I don't think laziness and impatience are necessarily vices in this sense. Sometimes you have very good reason to want something quickly. Sometimes you have very good reason to want something without having to spend a lot of effort on it.

Making a batch of cookies takes maybe an hour of work plus a couple of hours of delay (depending on exactly what sort of cookies). More, if you don't have ingredients to hand. So if you're in WANT COOKIES NOW mode, or if you don't enjoy making cookies, or if you have more important things to do, it's not hard to see how getting them from a shop might seem preferable.

Personally, I love making tasty things and at least 90% of the cookies and cake I eat I've made myself. On the other hand, I have no interest in making clothes or bookcases or houses or cars. I do enjoy making software but am orders of magnitude short of having enough time to make better word processors and web browsers and operating systems than the Usual Suspects. I don't see that any of this is terribly surprising.

There's another answer, which I think is answering a slightly different question from yours: Because it's more efficient. Economies of scale, specialization, etc. -- This doesn't exactly explain why people choose to consume rather than produce, but it explains why society "chooses" to centralize production as it does and why that's a pretty good choice overall.

(Incidentally #1: yes, it was deliberate.)

(Incidentally #2: I am pleased to report that yes, the internet has already invented the term ad mominem, which means just what you think it does.)

Comment author: Izeinwinter 25 February 2015 03:34:10PM *  1 point [-]

Been thinking this through all day now.

Situation at the start of the school year: The stone is in the mirror, and it is anticipated Voldemort will be attempting to retrive it. Dumbledore is in possession of the true cloak of invisibility, and has "Flamel" on speed dial. Harry is known to be a harrycrux, which means Voldemort will either be taking over his body, or at least checking up on him.

There is no way Dumbledore gives Harry the cloak without anticipating Voldemort using it against the mirror. He wasn't obligated to hand that thing over to a first year, as opposed to hiding it under the proverbial rock in Greenland. Probability this was a misstep so low I can't be bothered to calculate it. It isn't just that he would have to miss the potential interaction here, every other person involved in building the trap would have to also miss it. For an entire year. So it's a plot.

This is the point where my certainties become less certain - I think what is going on is that the trap is set up to give Voldemort the false impression of victory at every step of the way while at the same time trying to take him off the board in various ways. This is being done to avoid him fleeing via blowing up Quirell's skull.

This means either Dumbledore was a fake of some kind or if actually there, that he lied through his teeth agreeing with every point of fact Quirrel brought up in order to convey zero actual information. Beyond that I thought of so many possibilities for what the actual trap could be that my head is currently spinning.

Option one : The True Cloak of invisibility is no such thing. They made a ringer. Option two: They flat out just cursed the darn thing. Option tree: The cloak has funny interactions with spirits, and the entire point is to kill voldemort while he is wearing it. Option 4.. you get the point.

I also think that there are likely plots in motion not related to the mirror at all - it would fit dumbledore's style to attack this problem at every possible point of intervention.

I am also fairly darn sure that Dumble knew or knows that Q is V - the phrasing used when professing surprise is just dripping with sarcasm.

I'm.. not at all sure Dumble actually has any unusual access to divination. See my earlier point about how he seemed to agree with every point of fact Voldemort raised, which has to be a disinformation tactic. Or the mirror just stroking his ego. Noone guesses that many things correct at this level of complexity on the first try.

Comment author: gjm 25 February 2015 04:53:10PM 2 points [-]

Harry is known to be a harrycrux [...] There is no way Dumbledore gives Harry the cloak without anticipating [...]

Supposing (though it might be wrong) that mirror-Dumbledore is speaking truth, it's not clear that he realises what Harry is until that point in ch17 where he starts laughing. Which is after Harry has received the cloak. (And, I think, after D. has promised not to take it away from him -- though he hasn't promised not to require him to store it somewhere secure away from Hogwarts.)

Comment author: MarsColony_in10years 25 February 2015 03:09:51PM 0 points [-]

You are correct. That was actually my point, even if I apparently worded it poorly. People keep repeating the myth, even though it has been proven false many times. I was trying to use it as an example of popular misconceptions.

Comment author: gjm 25 February 2015 03:40:50PM 0 points [-]

OK. (Perhaps After all, "scientists say" that ... might have been clearer to me than "After all, scientists "say" that ...* but I'm not sure.)

In response to comment by blossom on Fake Justification
Comment author: Vaniver 24 February 2015 03:05:21PM *  1 point [-]

Obviously, if "venerable" is the standard of better, TitaniumDragon's claim fails. And there are many cases where the customer is made worse off by innovations that benefit the producer, but overall the claim seems fine.

In response to comment by Vaniver on Fake Justification
Comment author: gjm 25 February 2015 03:38:21PM 2 points [-]

What do you mean by "fine"?

The claim, let's recall, is that "the best EVERYTHING has been produced within the last few decades". It seems to me that one can find Bach's best music better than anything from the last few decades without making "venerable" the standard of better.

It's certainly true that tools of many kinds are much better than they used to be, and it's probably true that there are a lot more artists now than before. But:

  • some people are just exceptionally good at some things, and there's no reason to suppose (e.g.) that anyone making music in the last 30 years has been as good at Bach was at the things Bach was good at.
  • taste is a complex business, and some things that have improved a lot in the last 30 years are purely "synthetic" things that were starting from a very low baseline. E.g., if someone likes listening to violin music, it is possible that they prefer the best modern instruments to those of Stradivarius but very unlikely that they prefer the best computer-generated violin-like sounds to either; but it's the computer-generated stuff that's improved most dramatically over recent decades. A lot of the tools of music-making really haven't (at the top end, for some people's taste) improved much since, say, 1950.
  • tastes vary, for all kinds of reasons; if you happen to prefer classical-in-the-broadest-sense music then it is not true that there are a lot more people doing it now than there were historically. (Note that this preference is not at all the same as making venerability the standard of quality.)

View more: Next