Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102

by David_Gerard1 min read26th Jul 2014374 comments

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HPMOR (discussion & meta)
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New chapter!

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 102.

There is 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.) 

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Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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

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I may be pointing out the obvious, but...

Professor Quirrell closed his eyes. His head leaned back into the pillow. "You were lucky," the Defense Professor said in a soft voice, "that a unicorn in Transfigured form... did not set off the Hogwarts wards, as a strange creature... I shall have to... take this outside the grounds, to make use of it... but that can be managed. I shall tell them that I wish to look upon the lake... I will ask you to sustain the Transfiguration before you go, and it should last long enough, after that... and with my last strength, dispel whatever death-alarms were placed to watch over the herd... which, the unicorn being not yet dead, but only Transfigured, will not yet have triggered... you were very lucky, Mr. Potter."

This is how the troll was smuggled into Hogwarts without the wards going off. In all likelihood, Quirrell had the transfigured troll on his person when Dumbledore identified to the Hogwarts wards "The Defense Professor stands within this circle". Trolls self-transfigure as a form of regeneration, so the transfiguration would not kill the troll or be detectable.

This suggests that the troll was known to Hogwarts as "The Defense Professor", and so explains what the wards reported:

"... The wards of Hogwarts record that no foreign creature has entered, and that it was the Defense Professor who killed Hermione Granger."

0[anonymous]6yOk. In that case, Quirrell can be hiding on his person or in some magical 'all-holding invisible pocket' an army of trolls, or anything he thinks would be better suited for attack (transfigured wizards?), and Dumbledore is ultimately doomed.
3solipsist6ySo, people did not think this was obvious? Screw that. I am willing to bet $50 US (1:1) that Mr. Hat & Cloak is Baba Yaga.
6Velorien6yI would take you up on that, but in my memory palace one of the walls is occupied by a large chalkboard covered with lines of "I will not underestimate Eliezer Yudkowsky".
4lmm6yI'm interested in taking you up on this. Could you give a more explicit definition? How will the bet be resolved?
3solipsist6yI'm not picky on definitions. "The entity Hermione called 'Mister Incredibly Suspicious Person' has Baba Yaga's memories." That definition is looser than it needs to be, but I'm giving you generous odds. Resolution would be informal, with us PMing payment instructions to each other. The payment information I would send you would be cheap, non-sketchy, and anonymous for me. We might agree to call the bet off by February 28th 2014 if the bet is not resolved by then. If there's somehow a definitional dispute, we work it out, possibly with someone else on the forum arbitrating. Default option is to cancel the bet. If I lose the bet I will laugh it off. You probably should not accept unless you would do the same.
3lmm6yI think the most likely scenario is that we'll hear no more about either of them. So I want to win that case; if the two are unrelated then I doubt we'll hear anything explicit to that effect. Rather than worry about what's "cheap" let's just say the loser pays $50 gross, any payment fees or the like can come out of the winnings. And I'll stipulate that anything bitcoiny qualifies as sketchy. And yeah, $50 is an amount that I can comfortably toss for online entertainment without checking my bank balance.
3solipsist6yHow about this stipulation: if the name Baba Yaga does not appear in the book again, and Eliezer Yudkowsky does not Word of God that Mr. Hat & Cloak is Baba Yaga, you win. I'm expecting Baba Yaga to be important, and if she's not mentioned again or only mentioned offhandedly I will likely concede. We are on the same page about payments.
9lmm6ySounds fair enough. So we have a bet?
9solipsist6yWe have a bet. It's on!
6Eliezer Yudkowsky6yBy request, I declare solipsist to have lost this bet.
1solipsist6yThe latest progress report suggests that chapters will resume in February, so the story might not finish until March. Extend the bet's expiration date to March 31st, 2015?
1lmm6ySure. Happy to push it out a bit longer actually, as I'm not confident there won't be further slippage; how about extending until June 30th?
1solipsist6ySure.
0[anonymous]6yThe latest progress report suggest that chapters will resume in February, so the story might not finish until March. Extend the bet's expiration date to March 31st, 2015?
0ChristianKl6yAre you betting that in a future chapter of HPMOR there will the explicit statement that Mr. Hat & Cloak is Baba Yaga? What happens to the bet if HPMOR ends without it being revealed who Mr.Hat&Cloak happens to be? So you aren't really up for betting?
6gwern6yI think Yudkowsky is enough of a non-asshole that if that's the case, he'll consent to say whether Baba Yaga had anything to do with Hat & Cloak. Remember, he endorses betting on beliefs.
1solipsist6yNo, I am up for betting. If unforeseen plot developments make the resolution of the bet unclear, I want determining the winner to be casual and non-adversarial. I will not argue technicalities even if they could cause me to win. That really depends. If the identity of Mr. Hat & Cloak remains unclear but Harry finds a black hat in Snape's trunk and a black cloak in Dumbledore's office, I would probably lose. If Harry figures out that Nicholas Flamel is really Baba Yaga and she's been hiding in Hogwarts all year, I would probably win. I'd be happy to let a mutual chosen third party arbitrate.
1Velorien6y- - - I believe he(?) means he will laugh off the loss of the money, in the sense of treating it as not a big deal.
0solipsist6yEdits: I meant February 28th 2015.
3gwern6yHow do you go from the old Quirrel troll-in-pocket theory to Hat & Cloak == Baba Yaga? And which Hat & Cloak?
2solipsist6yI updated on the probability that something could seem strikingly obvious on a first reading, escape the notice of hundreds of very smart people, have little direct evidence, and still be true. I didn't realize that there were multiple Hat & Cloaks. I meant the ones that appeared to Blaize Zabini and to Hermione, if that limits them.
1hairyfigment6yI'll take that bet, if it's still open. Though please see the possible spoiler in my previous comment [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/km5/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/b5xh] if you're basing this on your interpretation of Eliezer's motives.
0solipsist6ySorry, I gave lmm priority. Really we should have used your interest to obtain better market odds. It's too late now, but does anybody have a recommendation of practical mechanisms for ad hoc predictions markets?
1[anonymous]6yWhy Baba Yaga?
4arundelo6yShe's mentioned in at least three chapters [https://www.google.com/search?q=%22baba+yaga%22+site:hpmor.com]. In chapter 12 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/12] Quirrell describes her as the "quote undying unquote Baba Yaga". (To my knowledge she's not mentioned at all by Rowling.) The Law of Conservation of Detail tells us that she is going to be plot-relevant somehow.
4Velorien6yI can never see references to her without amusement. Bear in mind that the "canonical" Baba Yaga of Russian folklore is a cantankerous old witch who hobbles around with one leg made of bone, lives in a hut on chicken legs, and uses a giant mortar and pestle as her transport of choice. Such a character would make the likes of Hagrid and Moody seem wholly pedestrian. Eliezer's re-imagining of her as a Dark Lady, meanwhile, just summons the most fantastic mental images.
0[anonymous]6yMaybe the author has read some theory on Russian folclore. Курьи ножки might not be chicken's legs; some scholars think курьи means 'made from smoke' and so BY's hut is actually a portal between worlds (between the world of the living, where the hero comes from, and the world where Koschey the Immortal lives - Koschey, incidentally, has something of a Horcrux - a needle hidden very thoroughly, and if you break it, he dies.)
2solipsist6yI'll add "The Massacre of Albania in the Fifteenth Century", a book title which triggered my brain's foreshadowing alarm in chapter 26. The "undying" Witch Formerly Known As Baba Yaga has gone by many names, including Nicholas Flamel.
0Algernoq6yAlso, Harry's Pet Rock was mentioned twice, so I've got a theory: Harry's original Pet Rock, Harry's father's rock, and the Philosopher's Stone are all the same rock. It would be really ironic.
0ThisSpaceAvailable6yShe appears in the Prisoner of Azkaban video game.
0gwern6yAs a little info card, according to a wikia entry, no? Not much of an appearance even for a distant licensing spinoff.
4solipsist6yI've suspected Baba Yaga would be dramatically revealed since the sentence I read her name. Since then there's been no shortage of evidence which can be somehow contorted to confirm my theory.
0[anonymous]6yI have some evidence opposing your theory. EY has made a habit of throwing references to other fanfics in HPMOR. For example, David Monroe is a character in A Black Comedy. Baba Yaga appears in many fanfics, most famously in Turn Me Loose: A Harry Potter Adventure, where she is an immortal Dark Lady.
0Lumifer6yIsn't Baba Yaga a folk tale character?
0Velorien6y1) Baba Yaga, an existing fictional character, appears in a fanfic as an immortal Dark Lady. 2) Eliezer Yudkowsky makes a reference to the Baba Yaga from that fanfic in his own work.
0gwern6yAnd also a character in MoR. As are various ponies. So by your examples' logic, we should expect Baba Yaga to show up as a character in MoR, possibly not as an immortal Dark Lady but maybe a mortal Dark Lord.
1Velorien6yIf I understand ikacer's theory correctly, it is that: David Monroe's name may be a reference to a piece of fiction Eliezer likes, but that doesn't mean that his name will be of relevance to the plot. It is entirely credible that this name was included solely as a reference. The existence of immortal Dark Lady Baba Yaga may be a reference to a piece of fiction Eliezer likes, but that doesn't mean that her existence will be of relevance to the plot. It is entirely credible that she was mentioned to exist solely as a reference, and this is more probable than solipsist's theory.
0gwern6yMy point was that the Monroe example and the ponies show that references play roles in the plot, so even if a character once named 'Baba Yaga' shows up, we wouldn't necessarily expect her/him to act exactly like the Baba Yaga in the other fic, in the same way Monroe doesn't play the same role or the ponies play the same role in MLP, but nevertheless, the character has to do something and at this stage in MoR, there's no room for frivolity or introducing a new character just for a throwaway gag, and all the foreshadowing suggests that the new role/character will be important - in the same way that Monroe was important for Quirrelmort's backstory and current nature.
0Velorien6yBut why would you not expect Baba Yaga to be like, say, the Elric brothers, mentioned solely as background detail?
0gwern6yBut now you're expanding the set of examples... My point was mostly that his set of examples did not support his claim like he thought they did. What he should have done is not brought up Monroe etc, but the Elric brothers, Death Note, Shea etc and argued that there were many more allusions which were just allusions than there were foreshadowing of future characters and hence an allusion or two to Baba Yaga still left the probability of a future appearance at a risible 1% or something.
0Velorien6yAh, now I see. I didn't understand that this is what you were driving at in previous posts. Thanks for the clarification.
0solipsist6yI agree completely, from an outside point of view. For example, there was a shoutout in the very sentence Baba Yaga was introduced. I claim Baba Yaga is important and Harold Shea is a decoy. Yes, I also think my hypothesis sounds arbitrary and a bit crazy.
1Jurily6yI'm not sure he'd needed to do that. Until we hear otherwise, he has access to all the knowledge of Salazar, who knew enough to build Hogwarts. Which also means the source code to the wards and the means to change them. Can you even transfigure something that transfigures itself back? Of course Quirrell can do it if it's possible, but is it possible?
1Velorien6yThis may be an exaggeration. First, it seems improbable that Salazar entrusted all his magical knowledge to the basilisk, if only because that would have been a ridiculous amount of magical knowledge. Salazar wouldn't have known which pieces of knowledge from his time were going to become lost, only that some would based on existing trends, so if he was going to tell the basilisk everything he thought valuable, it would have taken forever. Also, there's no reason to believe that basilisks have perfect memories - unless I'm misremembering, the basilisk as a species was chosen for its snakeness, deadliness and longevity rather than its intellect. Salazar was only responsible for part of Hogwarts. We don't know that he was at all responsible for the wards, only that he had admin access to them (in order to make them ignore the basilisk), which is no surprise since he was one of the four founders. We also don't know that Godric didn't revoke said admin access after Salazar betrayed him and left, in which case that portion of Salazar's knowledge would be useless. In fact, it would be downright weird if Godric hadn't done so. Since I feel the wrathful shade of Professor McGonagall watching over my shoulder, I'm going to say "I don't know". But if I had to guess, a transfigured object takes on all the properties of its new form, including the property of "not having troll regenerative powers". So if you could initially transfigure the troll faster than its regeneration kicked in, you'd have no trouble maintaining it thereafter.
375th6yWell, it's not like he had to teach the Basilisk a full Hogwarts curriculum; he only had to teach it what he knew that triggered the Interdict of Merlin, which is only the top whateverth percentile of his repertoire. Sure he could have. All he had to do was write down the most powerful stuff he knew in descending order until he got to the point where someone else started understanding what they were reading. The Basilisk may not have a perfect memory as an animal, but it "would be huge flaw in sscheme" if Salazar's magical Parseltongue knowledge was corruptible by the limitations of any old snake's brain. I think you're extending your computer analogy too far. Salazar didn't have a revocable password to the wards, he knew the magic that created them, and the rest of the Founders certainly did not have the power to revoke spells from the Source of Magic. Don't get me wrong, I think we're meant to understand that Quirrell did smuggle in the troll as a small transfigured object that Dumbledore drew his circle around. But nevertheless, I think we should also assume until further notice that h̶e̶ ̶k̶n̶o̶w̶s̶ whoever got the basilisk's knowledge got the most powerful magic that Slytherin knew. EDIT: Hedged my last sentence, since Chapter 102's horcrux information introduces potential ambiguity as to how Tom Riddle's knowledge has been propagated amongst his alter egos' bodies.
0Velorien6yFair point. I'd forgotten about the Interdict. With that said (and this applies to your second point as well), it seems unlikely that the Interdict of Merlin is the only reason for knowledge to be lost over time. For example, Riddle apparently found the horcrux ritual in a book, and that seems like powerful mostly-lost knowledge. Also, wizard society generally seems much worse at knowledge maximisation than muggle society. (side thought: is there even a single mention in either canon of wizard universities?) True. One has to wonder, generally speaking, just how the whole thing worked, given that Parseltongue seems to blur terms for which it does not have an exact parallel ("schoolmaster", "hourglass to move through time"), and that seems like it would be a problem for advanced spell instructions. We don't know that. The four founders came together to raise Hogwarts in the first place, suggesting that each of them knew only some of the magic necessary. There is no reason to believe that Salazar was the one who knew the magic for the Hogwarts wards, rather than, say, Rowena. Additionally, you don't need to revoke a spell from the Source of Magic to prevent someone else making use of it. Going back to the computer analogy, being a system's original programmer doesn't mean you can automatically hack into any instance of that system. It is worth remembering that once Salazar left, it would have been three magical prodigies against one in the matter of establishing Hogwarts security. Likewise don't get me wrong, I think it's reasonable to assume that whoever got the basilisk's knowledge got at least some very powerful magic from Slytherin; I just don't think we should overestimate how much that was.
0Jurily6yChapter 20: A wizard university seems out of the question.
1Ben Pace6yThat is a nice theory.
1solipsist6ySpeculative: Quirrell couldn't have made the troll sun resistant, since Harry touched the troll and he can't touch Quirrell magic. Explanations include: 1. Quirrell legilimensed (say) Professor Sprout to jinx the troll 2. Hat & Cloak (who is not Quirrell) jinxed and redirected Quirrell's troll towards Hermione. Quirrell had ulterior motives for releasing the troll (e.g. as a distraction so Snape could pull Philosopher stone mischief).
2ChristianKl6yAlternatively there are some magic portions that can be used to make the troll sun resistant.
0Velorien6yDo we know this, or is it speculation based on our knowledge of potions in general? Also, is it safe to assume that potions work on trolls, given that trolls are constantly transfiguring into themselves (and thus automatically flushing out changes to their physical state)?
1mare-of-night6yHmm... Trolls are rocks (sort-of), the Philosopher's Stone is a rock, can the Philosopher's Stone turn you into a troll? (This is probably a stupid theory, but maybe it's related to something more workable.)
3Velorien6yI don't think that Eliezer's trolls are rocks. * Quirrell states that sunlight freezes them in place, rather than that it petrifies them. * Quirrell states that a troll is constantly transfiguring itself into its own body, which means that the (apparently organic) form it's normally in is its true form. * The troll Harry kills doesn't turn to stone.
0mare-of-night6yThanks. I was getting them confused with Middle Earth trolls.

Lets see: Data and implications, assuming Quirrelmort is keeping up his habit of only rarely telling direct lies: Dark and sacrificial magic tends to kill you in the end, and neither the original Voldemort, nor Quirrelmort had a fix for this. The horcrux spell forks your identity, imperfectly, and also carries wholly unacceptable costs to anyone moral. So, you know, nothing voldy cares about.

Theory: Facing his own inevitable demise from accumulated sacrifice damage, Voldy attempted to fix the flaws in the horcrux process - First he attempted to bypass the loss of knowledge by targeting a strong wizard as the possession target - heck, that might have been part of the point of the campaign of terror - to draw out wizards with real power from obscurity. And so he ended up fighting both sides of that war, because he took Monroe's body while still remaining Voldemort full time. The personality divergence from imprinting himself on a mind that strong, however, was more than Voldemort considered acceptable, and thus he targeted Harry. At a guess, he worked out how to remove the carrier object from the spell so that the death of Harry's mother would copy him directly into the mind of baby ... (read more)

6[anonymous]6yI assumed that babies just didn't store long-term memories in the first place, but I've looked it up on Wikipedia and it sounds like I was mistaken. Huh.
2DanielLC6yIf the philosopher's stone is nearly as good at healing as you suggest, then it's a source of income because it's good at healing. What else do you need?
4Viliam_Bur6yA source of income you can use without attracting attention to your only source of income. (Otherwise, you risk losing it.) Such as, repairing objects when no one else is looking. If you buy a broken or damaged object from one person, fix it, and sell it to another person, no one needs to know you repaired it. But even if they know you repaired it, they don't have to know you repaired it using a magical artifact.
1hairyfigment6yI feel extremely confident that the Philosopher's Stone is not Reductionist Reparo, though the idea did help me figure out part of the ending. First, the reductionist extension of transfiguration required a level of scientific knowledge that (I think) very few wizards before now could have possessed. And second, Reparo can't even fix Lupin's robe [http://hpmor.com/chapter/42]. You would need something to enhance the spell -- e.g, some artifact known to do so in canon. Fvapr Uneel unf yvxryl hfrq gur Pybnx nyernql gb uryc uvz genafsvther Urezvbar'f obql sbe fnsrxrrcvat, V cerqvpg ur'yy hfr gur Erfheerpgvba Fgbar gb trg nqivpr sebz ure (be sebz fvz!Urezvbar, nf ur jbhyq frr vg) nobhg ubj gb erfheerpg ure hfvat gur Ryqre Jnaq. Gubhtu vg pbhyq or fbzr bgure qrnq crefba jvgu xabjyrqtr bs gur Qrnguyl Unyybjf yrtraq/cebcurpl. I feel much less confident about rejecting the rest. But remember that nobody saw "Voldemort" die. While the Professor could perhaps be lying about V killing the basilisk -- it seems like a useful way to recover one's magical knowledge post-Horcrux -- I think he's still using his original body and just following the rules ("whatever my true vulnerability is, I will fake a different one.")
1Velorien6yI don't think rot13 is necessary here, as you're posting speculation. The Resurrection Stone, if Quirrell is to be believed, cannot provide the user with any new information. It is thus useless to Harry unless it has as-yet unrevealed additional special functions when combined with other Deathly Hallows. Also, do you have any evidence for your first sentence?
1hairyfigment6yHarry is the one who brought up the Resurrection Stone with the assumption that it behaved like other devices, in the aptly named chapter, "Pretending to be Wise, Pt 2" [http://hpmor.com/chapter/40]. The Defense Professor is the one who reacted as if shocked to the news that - if his genealogy search went the way Voldemort's did in canon - he already had the artifact:
0Velorien6yThis being Quirrell, while his reaction may indicate shock, it is also exactly how he would react if he did not have the artefact and/or believed it to be worthless in any case. There isn't enough information there to make any assumptions either way. Also, in Chapter 90, Quirrell visibly fails to refute Harry's assumption:
0hairyfigment6yAre you saying you'd like to bet on something? Before you answer: * The archaic-English saying about the Deathly Hallows looks like a prophecy. And from an out-of-story or Doylist [http://fanlore.org/wiki/Watsonian_vs._Doylist] perspective, it could also come true without definitively being one. * "But like all superpowers [http://lesswrong.com/lw/qx/timeless_identity/], long-range life extension can only be acquired by seeing, with a shock, that some way of getting it is perfectly normal." We can rule out an emergent property of the three Hallows in combination. We can mostly rule out someone breaking the established rules of time travel (though I have to qualify that because I don't know how prophecy works). Whereas the Elder Wand increasing the power of Repair Charms seems pretty normal within the story. We've also established that sufficient reductionism can alter spells. * As I said in my sibling comment, I think you're wrong about the meaning of the Professor's actions - but let's make a much narrower assumption. Let's say a "Resurrection Stone" manifestation can give Harry facts he doesn't consciously remember. That would likely suffice to tell him about the Wand's abilities or appearance. He might or might not need the Stone to also hint at a simple deduction, one that at least one dead person known to him could probably have made.
0AnthonyC6y"We can rule out an emergent property of the three Hallows in combination. We can mostly rule out someone breaking the established rules of time travel (though I have to qualify that because I don't know how prophecy works)." I'm not so sure. Harry has observed that magic should b e arbitraarily powerful, and was presumably invented to have the rules it does. Rot13 because of spoilers in a story EY referenced in author's notes, Ra: Jr nyfb xabj gung RL ernq dagz.bet/en orsber Whyl 2014, fb znlor ur jnf vafcverq ol gur angher bs zntvp va gung fgbel: 1) gung bevtvanyyl vg nafjrerq qverpg erdhrfgf, "Qb jung V zrna" nsgre fvzhyngvat shgher jbeyq fgngrf gb frr jung fngvfsvrf zl gehr, abg fgngrq, qrfverf, 2) gung guvf yrq gb qvfnfgre naq gur qrfgehpgvba bs gubhfnaqf bs vaunovgrq cynargf, 3) gung gur fheivibef perngrq neovgenel ehyrf gb erfgevpg hfr bs zntvp, naq 4) gung gur fheivibef gurzfryirf cerfreirq n zrnaf gb pvephzirag gubfr yvzvgngvbaf.
0hairyfigment6yCan't tell without reading spoilers: are you giving an argument against Harry changing the rules [http://yudkowsky.tumblr.com/writing/originality]?
0gjm6yNaq (5) gung #4 cebirq gb or n fgnttrevatyl onq vqrn.
0Velorien6yI 'm not entirely sure what kind of bet you're proposing; I definitely did not mean to propose one. Having reviewed the Elder Wand information from canon, I concur that using it to empower Reparo is plausible. But I don't see how "some way of getting it is perfectly normal" can describe the use of a unique artefact famed for its unmatched power. It is notable that Harry's reductionist powers so far (Patronus 2.0 and partial transfiguration) have relied solely on his mind, rather than on any MacGuffin. It would seem like a downward turn in story quality for that pattern to be broken now. If your assumption about the use of the Resurrection Stone is correct, then yes, the rest works too. I guess that comes down to whether Harry has unconscious memories of being Voldemort, and whether such unconscious memories qualify for being used by the Stone.
0hairyfigment6yThat's certainly the weakest point in my argument. So - as you're making a purely Doylist claim rather than giving a reason why it wouldn't work - why do you think Eliezer bothered to include the Deathly Hallows, integrating them earlier and more fully into the story? Why did MoR!Harry hear what seems like a prophecy about them? Why does he use his understanding of the Cloak to solve a difficult problem [http://hpmor.com/chapter/56], one touching on the thought behind his Patronus? On a related note, the Patronus 2.0 requires values in addition to reductionism (plus a magic wand), and your category seems highly artificial to me.
-1Velorien6yI think you and I are operating on different models of intellectual discussion. According to my model, expressing scepticism of someone's theory does not automatically compel me to enter in some sort of gambling arrangement, nor does it force me to present a theory of my own that answers the same question better. This is not a contest. You have put forth a theory. I am helping you refine and/or test that theory by pointing out its weaknesses, while at the same time making use of its strengths to enhance my own understanding of HPMOR. I do not need to offer an alternative hypothesis to do any of this. It's not a bad theory either. My criticism largely comes down to the fact that it relies on stacking weak evidence (e.g. speculation about as-yet unrevealed spell and artefact mechanics, Doylist arguments with very varied strength, and that Hermione's body thing you have yet to justify) and therefore there is a hard limit to how far I would be prepared to believe it even if it were the best theory out there.
1buybuydandavis6yI'd say that it tends to kill your host meat sack. Not a problem if you can hop to a new one. The problem being the lack of continuity, Which would be avoided if your current host body dies in the transfer. I don't think that is necessary: If the burst is channeled into a living person instead of a device, then Merlin's Interdict is avoided. He transfers to a powerful wizard because that's the good place to be. Better than a rat. I think that's true. The war was not about taking over as the Dark Lord, it was about taking over as the Savior from the Dark Lord, as it is planned to be again with Harry. See my top level post for a more fleshed out version of how I think Quirrell is preparing to upload to Harry.
0Velorien6yI don't think that's how continuity of self works. Suppose I, Velorien A, cast the horcrux spell. I continue to exist, and now I have created a Velorien B, an imperfect copy in a younger, healthier body. When Velorien A dies, whether instantly or in a number of years, I die. Velorien B will continue to exist. From an external perspective, yes, there was one old/ill Velorien, and now there is one young/healthy Velorien. From the perspective of Velorien B, he is Velorien A but in a younger, healthier body. But from my perspective... well, I don't have a perspective, because I'm dead.
0buybuydandavis6yYou can see it that way, and I largely do too, but that was not how Harry and Quirrell identified the problem. The issue, the reasons for the issue. If we avoid those reasons, which dying in the transfer does, then the issue is resolved.
2Velorien6yI think you've got it the wrong way round. The first part is the problem. The second part is how the problem manifests itself. Let's take the full quote. The problem is continuity of consciousness. What Quirrell is saying is that because there is no continuity of consciousness, when you die, you die, no matter that you made a horcrux first. I certainly don't believe that Quirrell, who has probably spent much of his life considering the problem, would be so naive as to think that destroying the original somehow gives the copy continuity of consciousness with the original.

Harry seems to have forgotten the fact that he rescued Bellatrix from Azkaban. It one of those things he should ask about when asked for unsaid stuff between the two. Given Harry's knowledge of wizard medicine Quirrell could simply die the next week and take all the knowledge about Bellatrix with him to his grave.

I think we're seeing the set up of the end game of the upload of Quirrellmort to Harry.

David Monroe, last descendant of a Noble House, family killed by Voldemort, the great champion to save Magical Britain against Voldemort. But instead of having the mass of Magical Britain rally around him, they generally make his difficult. When that plan of being a savior fails.

He then disappears. Poof.

Where is our champion now?

And poof! Harry Potter, last descendant of a Noble House, family killed by Voldemort, miraculously ends Voldemort rampage.

Years later, Monroe reappears as Quirrell, just in time to be the Defense Professor and mentor for this miraculous Harry Potter, who in fact is miraculous, for his age, or really any age. With a secret Dark Side that gives him great power. With so many similarities to Quirrell in personality and intelligence. With such a natural bond.

Perssonalitiess change, mix with victim'ss. Death iss not truly gainssaid. Real sself is losst, as you ssay. Not to my pressent tasste.

But if the victim is already very similar, perhaps more to his taste?

David Monroe, 2.0. Prepared as a baby to be a host. Prepared with a better history to be Savior of Magical Britain... (read more)

3skeptical_lurker6yQuirrell is too smart not to do this. I think he's pretending to be weaker than he really is, in order to manipulate Harry.
2solipsist6yThis was said by Quirrell in Parseltongue. If you can only tell the truth in Parseltongue, then Quirrell was really forbidding Harry from obtaining the stone himself.
3mjr6yWell. Technically the statement only describes the act of speaking itself. There is no explicit information conveyed about Quirrell actually wishing or intending Harry to follow his injunction.
2skeptical_lurker6yHarry trying to obtain the stone by himself would be like Harry sneaking into Akazaban by himself. Harry developing a plan, and coming to Quirrel for assistance OTOH...
0solipsist6yIndeed, Harry would not search for the stone alone. The twins participated in Hermione's Last Stand to level up for the final arc, and the Lestrange open bracket has yet to be closed.
2buybuydandavis6yThat's a good possibility I hadn't thought of. Too busy confirming my pet theory. Quirrell's apparent weakness, feigned or actual, serves to manipulate Harry. His actual weakness weakens the Sense of Doom, and thereby may allow their magic to interact. This is why I think actual weakness is still likely, despite the manifest downside. My pet theory is some variation on Quirrell uploading into Harry, and this is supported by a bunch of evidence I won't go into again. But if this is the goal, being able to interact with Harry, magically or physically, would be an important enabling factor.

This chapter confirms earlier speculations that horcruxes work by making backup copies of brain states (with the caveat that actually using the horcrux will merge its memories and personality with those of its host body, resulting in a hybrid entity). The theory that Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres is an instance of Tom Riddle (or, rather, a hybrid of Tom Riddle and the original Harry Potter) now seems very, very probable. It explains why Harry is as smart as Tom's other instances (the original Riddle/Monroe/Voldemort and the Quirrell/Riddle hybrid), and why the remember-ball glowed like the sun (Harry forgot Riddle's memories because he was too young to remember them).

I learned of the horcrux sspell ssince long ago.

Parseltongue has a word for "horcrux"?

Death iss not truly gainssaid. Real sself is losst, as you ssay. Not to my pressent tasste. Admit I conssidered it, long ago.

Voldemort used horcruxes, obviously (that's what the five hidden items in the elemental pattern are), but between the missing memories and the hybridization Quirrellmort doesn't consider them to be worth the trouble. Keep in mind that there is a nice theory about not being able to lie in pars... (read more)

8Xachariah6yIt's still not a lie. He considered it long ago and then he did it. He doesn't want to try it again because he's already got some and/or they wouldn't fix his current situation. Literally truthful but appropriately misleading.
8NoSuchPlace6yNo, the unicorn will, but by the time Quirrell drinks it blood it won't be transfigured any more, so he will be fine.
0[anonymous]6yFrom chapter 100: Quirrell doesn't have a very large window in which to drink the blood. More to the point, wouldn't particulate matter, other fluids, other bits of the unicorn pollute the blood as a result of the transfiguration? I could see the blood itself fixing that issue, but in the case of another fluid in a similar situation, I could see the drinker getting sick (if not to the degree that the animal did). I may not be understanding how transfiguration sickness works exactly. EDIT: formatting
7NoSuchPlace6yAccording to this he should have plenty of time: * hpmor ch15 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/15] From the transfiguration rules: * hpmor ch15 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/15] This presumably means don't transfigure anything into food. However it could also be interpreted to mean, don't transfigure food into anything. I am somewhat disappointed in McGonagall for not catching that ambiguity. Also Quirrell is not a recognized transfiguration authority: * hpmor ch15 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/15] However since Quirrells past is unknown (as far as Hogwarts is concerned) he could be one of the best transfigures in the world and he wouldn't be recognized as an authority. Also I don't see Quirrell neglecting something as useful and versatile as transfiguration, so I would expect him to know how dangerous eating formerly transfigured food is.
8Benquo6yI think McGonagall doubts Quirrell's goodness more than his knowledge.
2ThisSpaceAvailable6yThat, and "the current Defence Professor" refers to a different person each year. She's giving the students a whitelist of people who are an authority, and drawing a bright line of no one being an authority unless explicitly being on the list.
4Xachariah6yTransfiguration sickness isn't because things turn into poison. Your body goes into a transfigured state, minor changes occur, and when you come back from that state things are different. It'd be tiny things. Huge problems would cause you to die instantly, but little transcription errors would kill you in the timeframe described. Eg, your veins wouldn't match up right. The DNA in your cells would be just a little bit off and you'd get spontaneous cancer in your entire body. Some small percent of neurotransmitters and hormones would be transformed into slightly different ones... etc. None of that would be contagious or even harmful to somebody consuming it. But to the animal itself it'd be devastating. Also remember that once the transfiguration reverts and you're back to yourself, you're in a stable state. The only issue is that you're not back together perfectly. Quirrell would only get sick if he drank the blood while it was transfigured and then it changed form while inside of him.
3MathiasZaman6yIf Salazar Slytherin did indeed created Parseltongue, it's not that unlikely. Slytherin knew various powerful Dark Magics.
9Luke_A_Somers6yOther words you wouldn't expect snakes to use: ritual, schoolmaster, spell, sacrifice, world, meaningless, murder, obscuration, device, continuity, Merlin's freaking Interdict... yeah.
2MathiasZaman6yBut most of those you'd expect Salazar Slytherin to use when talking to, say, an ancient snake guarding all his dark secrets.
2Luke_A_Somers6yRight. These are further evidence that the language was constructed or at least heavily influenced by humans, and is not snakes' original natural language.
2Velorien6yI would hesitate to call this "obviously". Certainly, there's the Pioneer plaque, but as for the elemental pattern, all we actually have is Quirrell remarking on the fact that Harry's ideas have an elemental pattern, and Harry himself failing to realise it. There's nary a hint that Harry's guesses correspond to anything that actually happened.
2DanArmak6yWhat's that theory? And yet, Hogwarts won't take in Muggleborn from outside Britain. And an early chapter mentioned "lands where Muggleborn children received no letters" (quoting from memory).
2jaime20006yThese [http://reddit.com/r/HPMOR/comments/z05r2/is_it_possible_to_lie_in_parseltongue/] threads [http://reddit.com/r/HPMOR/comments/2a99vs/impossible_to_lie_in_parseltongue_ch_49/] . At this point I'm pretty much convinced that the theory is correct.
1ThisSpaceAvailable6yThere would have to be a very narrow definition of "lie" for this to not qualify: "Correct lessson iss to follow ssteps laid down for you by older and wisser Sslytherin, tame your wild impulssess.” Also, besides doubling the s's, EY denotes Parseltongue with violations of English grammar. This sentence is missing "the" at the beginning, the sentence "Will not sspeak of planss beyond thiss" lacks a subject, etc. If the "no lies" rules depends on precise parsing, it's odd that the grammar is so lax. If this is supposed to represent just a loose translation into English, and the "no lies" rules applies to the precise wording, rather than the general meaning, then we can't really know what's true.
0Benya6yAlso, Magical Britain keeps Muggles out, going so far as to enforce this by not even allowing Muggles to know that Magical Britain exists. I highly doubt that Muggle Britain would do that to potential illegal immigrants even if it did have the technology...
1DanArmak6yThat's just selection bias. You wouldn't know about it if they did.
0roystgnr6yDid you just spill the secret? You're never going to get Muggle Atlantis citizenship now.
1solipsist6yIn reference to: If you wondered why the book explicitly calls out that Harry knows the word Horcrux in Parseltongue, here's some background. Harry has not learned the English word for Horcrux. He knows that unnamed Horcrux-like things exist, and he has heard the word "Horcrux" and made a mental note to look it up, but he hasn't connected the concept to the English name. How can you write about Horcruxes in third person limited if Harry does not know the word? If you just use the raw word Horcrux without explanation, persnickety readers [http://lesswrong.com/lw/hxg/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/9bv7] will concoct elaborate theories [http://predictionbook.com/predictions/24257] about Harry researching Horcruxes off-camera. Calling out that Harry knows the word Horcrux in parseltongue -- and by implication not in English -- may keep persnickety readers at bay.
1gwern6yThat doesn't make any sense. If Harry didn't think he knew the word in English, he wouldn't start 'It is called...' and then break off as the Parseltongue word comes to mind and he doesn't have to lapse back into English. He would say something like 'I'm not sure what exactly the ritual is called -' Yes, elaborate theories based on Harry doing what he said he would do in chapter 86 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/86]: Hardly a stretch that he encountered a few hints in books and went 'oh, the dark ritual which confers immortality and something bad Moody thinks Voldemort made while he was alive are the same thing', even if he'd never read about Koschei the Deathless or D&D's liches.
0ThisSpaceAvailable6yOne interpretation is that his language production module generated the sentence "It is called Horcrux", and his conscious mind, in the midst of him saying this sentence, became aware of the fact that he knows the Parseltongue word.
0[anonymous]6yHas Harry read about Koschei the Deathless? He does know about liches. Chapter 94 initially contained the line: which was edited a few hours after posting to:
0solipsist6yThere are few ways the word Horcrux could come out of Harry's mouth that I would not take as evidence for Harry doing outside research. It would take non-trivial circumlocutions to indicate that Harry doesn't know what the English word Horcrux means. Such circumlocutions appear in the text. The best reason I can think of for those circumlocutions to appear in the text is to prevent people like me from inferring too much from Harry's vocabulary choice. There are alternatives explanations, like hinting that Salazar invented Horcruxes, but they seem less likely to me.
1gwern6yAnd what circumlocutions are those, exactly? Because in the passage quoted, I see a straightforward explanation of the ritual and a naming in English (with the unexpected result that he knew the English word's equivalent in Parseltongue too).
0solipsist6yI hope you are right.
0banx6yThis line reminded me that Quirrel's frequent transitions from man to snake and back seemed odd to me when I was reading. I went back to see if any of what he said after transitioning back to a man was a good candidate for a direct lie that he couldn't tell as a snake. But I didn't find anything. Most of what he said was phrased as speculation, rather than direct statements.
0buybuydandavis6yI'm not convinced of the theory. Very tenuous and circumstantial, and not part of canon, AFAIK. I expect anything Quirrell says to be a mix of half truths. That much seems true.

So this is why this forum is dying, EY casting AK v2.0.

7Viliam_Bur6yWhat exactly is this supposed to mean? (Besides being a joke, obviously.) Is it Eliezer's public duty to keep writing new Sequences for the rest of his life? Or what other specific duties on LW is he neglecting? Eliezer is not a superhuman Friendly AI. He is merely trying to build one. Most of things that Eliezer could do here, someone else could do, too. Or we can all choose to sit and eat popcorn, and complain when we are bored. EDIT: I guess you already heard something about reinforcement. From that perspective, is this a helpful reaction to publishing a new chapter of HP? It's as if someone gives you a cookie, and you spit on him, and then you complain about why he doesn't bring you cookies more often. RETRACTED FOR DERAILING THE THREAD.
9DanArmak6yA true EY fact!
2shminux6yUh, this was meant as a half-joke, and apparently it wasn't very successful. Anyway, this is a wrong thread to discuss the health of the forum. And no, I don't think that Eliezer has any public duty to the forum readers, if you were wondering. I was simply commenting on his disengagement, quite likely for very good reasons (like that he has a lot more useful feedback on FB).
1Viliam_Bur6yI apologize for my too strong reaction and for derailing the thread.
1ChristianKl6yEliezer recently deleted posts from LW but on the other hand doesn't write very much on LW. That's behavior that's not healthy for this community.
7Viliam_Bur6yIf this community depends on Eliezer writing, that would be a huge failure. I think we were supposed to become stronger, try harder, and cooperate. We had enough time to do that. If a group of people cannot replace one person, then either we don't care enough, or we failed to learn our lessons. But actually, I think we are doing it quite well. (By "we" I mean the whole community; I specifically haven't contributed an article yet.) When Eliezer was writing the Sequences, he wrote one article per day. We have on average maybe three articles per day. If this is not enough, then how much would be enough? Five? Ten? Twenty? Are we trying to replace Reddit's output? I know I would like to see twenty new articles on LW every day, but that's just my inner procrastinator speaking. If I were more effective in real life and spent less time on internet, I would be barely able to read three articles (and their discussions) every day. Having more content on LW can be a lost purpose. To some degree it reflects the health of the community. For example, if we were doing many cool things, and writing reports about them on LW, there would be many cool articles on LW. I'd like to see us being more awesome. But it doesn't work the other way round: by increasing the number of articles we can't increase our awesomeness in the real life. I didn't mind the deleted article, but I also didn't mind that it was deleted. It was a shiny thing for procrastination, with no other value besides signalling author's smartness and contrarianism -- something this specific author does very frequently. This is a thing we shouldn't reward. I certainly would hate if other people started writing similar stuff. Or if the same author started doing it more often. (And unfortunately, this specific author seems to have some creepy mind-controlling powers he's using to get a lot of upvotes here, so the standard moderation fails. I don't fully understand his strategy, but it includes writing obscure comments whic
1ChristianKl6yIt was more than one article. There are events that are more recent than the Will_Newsome episode.
4Velorien6yI know I'm not the first person to say this, but in case any of the moderators and people generally in charge are listening: as a peripheral member of Less Wrong at best, this is a significant factor in my reluctance to become further involved with the site and its community. When I come here and see extremely typical forum drama like the Will_Newsome debacle, it greatly reduces my confidence that this is a good place to learn rationality and find suitable role models for its practice. I realise that's an irrational judgment in many ways, but that's sort of the point. I come here to learn to think rationally, I see poor behaviour from the people who are supposed to possess the fruits of that learning effort, and my gut instinct is to go away again (rather than learn the skills that would allow me to override that gut instinct and seek maximum benefit from Less Wrong in spite of its flaws).
3NancyLebovitz6yThis is reminding me of Heinlein's "Gulf", which describes intelligence/rationality training, and then testing it under stress. There are also the teams in HPMOR. However, (aside from that I'm citing fictional evidence) there may be an important difference between maintaining rationality under physical stress vs. maintaining rationality while sitting comfortably at a keyboard under social stress.
1NancyLebovitz6yWhat were the more recent events?
7ChristianKl6yTo cite a facebook post from last Wednesday by XiXiDu (LW-name):
3Alsadius6y1) I think we can hardly criticize him for not writing enough, given that he's about to spend a month writing a book for free for all of us. 2) It'd be pretty sad if having a moderator in place of a member was an active harm to the community.
1ChristianKl6yModeration is about leadership. If you do it from the shadows it's not as effective.
1Alsadius6yLeadership is not the essential purpose of moderation. The purpose is to raise the tone of the debate and make the community adhere to norms. If the active membership is pretty good at adhering to norms, and you just need to take out occasional trash, shadowy moderation works fine. LW has a dedicated core with extremely strong norms, and I suspect that even if Eliezer went into a coma for the next year and the site was completely unmoderated that wouldn't change.
0lmm6ySad? I'd say quite the opposite. If the best contribution to the community is that of normal members, and the contribution of moderators is a lesser one, that's well and good.

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.

Oh, I guess I can post this then: V jnf ng n jrqqvat cnegl guvat n srj lrnef onpx jurer Ryvrmre pbasvezrq gung lbh pna'g yvr va Cnefrygbathr; gur engvbanyr tvira jnf gung Fnynmne jvfurq gb sbfgre pbbeqvangvba orgjrra uvf urvef. V'z abg 100% fher V'z erzrzorevat pbeerpgyl ohg V'z cerggl fher.

0Gvaerg6yI'm wondering what Salazar would make of Bane's Rule of Two
0Velorien6yKindly refrain from using rot13 for comments that do not fit the rule given in Will's comment above. The rule is there for a reason, and you are reducing its reliability as a tool for avoiding spoilers.
0Gvaerg6yOkay, fixed. IMHO it would make more sense to rot13 hereditarily.
1Velorien6ySometimes, certainly. I'm not sure it would work well as a general policy. People may rot13 things incorrectly, or may rot13 a post only some of which constitutes a spoiler. If that gets passed along to all further comments, it'll cut everyone who avoids spoilers out of the discussion. Your comment, for example, is interesting, and led me to look up Bane's Rule of Two, but I would not have done so if I hadn't suspected that yours was an incorrect rot13 to begin with.

Any ideas on what the Philosopher's Stone does? My favorite idea so far, seen in the fanfiction.net reviews, is that it's a device for making transfiguration permanent. That would account for both gold and healing powers.

-2[anonymous]6yHowever that wouldn't wrap up the story nicely in a single story arc. It is a wish device. Probably a direct interface to the Source of Magic (itself an UFAI or Nanny AGI created by the Atlantian civilization and which underwent hard takeoff), bypassing the various operating systems, isolation layers, and programs that have been put in place on top of the Source of Magic over the years, e.g. the interdict of Merlin and whatever macro-extensible program runs charms & potions. The philosopher's stone directly links one's mind to the Source of Magic, thereby making whatever physically possible thing you think of come true. Kinda like the device in the book / movie Sphere, for example. It is said to create eternal youth and gold because that is what the creater of the stone wanted. Harry aquires the stone, and uses it to re-write the rules governing the Source of Magic, becoming god in a single step and sets about "optimizing the world."
0cousin_it6yI think/hope Eliezer shares my distaste for such overpowered plot devices.
0[anonymous]6yWell this isn't a story for the sake of being a story. It's meant to educate, not just entertain. Sometimes the moral is: invent the spells Becomus Godus and Fixus Everthingus and use them. Keeping in mind why Eliezer is spending his presumably valuable time writing Harry Potter fanfiction, it seems inevitable to me that some sort of overpowered ending is required. Eliezer's quest is to reshape the world in a positive way through friendly AGI. Harry's goal is the same (substituting magic = AGI). If the above theory is correct, we're in for a story arc about outcome pumps, wish granting machines, extrapolated morality, and hard takeoffs. Because the point of this is to make readers want (a) to be more rational, and then (b) to help MIRI on its FAI quest, no?

Not like certain people living in certain countries, who were, it was said, as human as anyone else; who were said to be sapient beings, worth more than any mere unicorn. But who nonetheless wouldn't be allowed to live in Muggle Britain. On that score, at least, no Muggle had the right to look a wizard in the eye.

Sorry, but I'm not a fan of this part - its not like Britain has immigration policies that ban certain races or religions, so I can only assume EY is arguing in favour of totally unrestricted immigration. But the UK has only a certain amount o... (read more)

Not like certain people living in certain countries, who were, it was said, as human as anyone else; who were said to be sapient beings, worth more than any mere unicorn. But who nonetheless wouldn't be allowed to live in Muggle Britain. On that score, at least, no Muggle had the right to look a wizard in the eye.

I was surprised by that passage. If anything, it seems magical Britain is more exclusivist. Magical Britain only invited Hermione in because she's a British witch. The 99.9% of people who are born muggle are excluded completely. I also don't get the impression that foreign born wizards/witches are automatically invited to Hogwarts. So they are magic-nationalists as well.

They even forbid beneficial muggle-wizard trade, which probably results in the deaths of millions of muggles.

3buybuydandavis6yI found it surprising because magical Britain seems much less utilitarian, in terms of excluding people from their moral concern - being indifferent. That's surely more of the fundamental issue than border control.
1Velorien6yInsofar as everyone dies eventually, and thus the purpose of medicine in general may be thought of as life extension rather than death prevention, and magical healing vastly increases wizard lifespans, it may be said that forbidding beneficial muggle-wizard trade results in the deaths of billions of muggles. Every single muggle who dies of old age, magically-treatable illness or non-instantly-fatal injury is a muggle who would have lived significantly longer if not for the ban.
0NancyLebovitz6yThe wizard population is very small compared to the muggle population, and I don't think there's much in the way of reducing the amount of time wizards need to put into healing magic. (Compare this to the efficiencies gained from vaccination and antibiotics.) The lack of wizard healing makes some difference, but probably more like tens or hundreds of thousands of muggles who don't get healed. On the other hand, if wizards were public about their abilities, a higher proportion of wizards (even low-powered wizards) in the muggle population would be identified and trained, and there would presumably be knowledge of methods for integrating wizard and muggle medicine. The results still wouldn't be all muggles having access to the best of wizard healing magic.
5Velorien6yDon't forget potions. You could easily make use of muggle civilisation's amazing mass production ability by having them automate every step but the ones that need magical power. The magic drain from potion creation is minimal, so one or a few wizards could effortlessly power a production line. Muggles also happen to be very good at large-scale farming, which could easily be applied to the production of magical ingredients, even rare ones. Add in wizards' ability to cast permanent enchantments at no cost, and their vast array of utility spells (Vanishing Charms alone would be a godsend for any factory), and you have undreamt-of mass production potential. Small population sizes aren't an issue when you have two worlds' worth of force multipliers.
1MugaSofer6yThere's no such thing as a "low-powered wizard", and all wizards in Britain are automatically detected magically (at birth?) It is implied that in HPMOR there are - presumably third-world? - countries where they "receive no letters of any kind". So potentially a complete breakdown of the masquerade might allow the least sane Muggle governments to track down and kidnap wizarding children for their own use. (I'm a little confused by this, though, since spontaneous untrained magic should be a serious issue if muggleborns aren't being dealt with.)

Sorry, but I'm not a fan of this part -

I'm not either. It lands with such a clunk. Maybe Magical Britain lets anyone in, but it's clear that muggles have few rights that Wizards feel they need to respect.

And that last line - ugh:

On that score, at least, no Muggle had the right to look a wizard in the eye.

It doesn't even make sense. You "have a right to look someone in the eye" based on the totality of who you are versus what they are. Selecting out one point on which you are in error and they aren't really invalidates the metaphor.

Given all that Harry finds objectionable and even barbaric about Magical Britain, how much indifference they have to the suffering of others, and how his allegiance is more to a scientific culture with rule of law, that last line seems largely just false to Harry's character. Whatever faults he sees in muggle Britain, he sees as many of more in Magical Britain.

And why is universalist Harry all of a sudden in a twist over muggle Britain, especially?

It seems much more like the line is a gratuitous crack of the riding crop to one of the author's favorite hobby horses. All pissed off about UKIP's recent strong showing in elections?

I find open borders consistent with Harry in general, but making that a particular outrage, and particularly aimed at Muggle Britain as compared to Wizards, really doesn't work for the story or for making the moral point.

6skeptical_lurker6yAgreed - it's a complete non-sequitur, crowbarred in with a tenuous link. And the wizards are far more intolerant. I doubt Muggle Britain lets everyone in - for one thing, it has approximately the same ethnic composition as muggle Britain, for another, I seem to remember that Hogwarts is one of the best magic schools in the world, in which case parents would move to Britain, increasing class sizes until Hogwarts was approximately the same standard as other schools. Incidentally, do Wizards in third-world countries have the same standard of living as first-world wizards? If so, they see no problem in letting muggles starve on their doorsteps. This may be a slight tangent but I'm amazed (edit: amazed is the wrong word. I'm disappointed) at how the UKIP's performance has made many people lose all sense of proportion, and become thoroughly mindkilled. About half the discussion seems to be 'one UKIP supporter said something rasist/sexist/homophobic'. UKIP has 37 000 members. This isn't just an adhomen attack, its an utterly statistically insignificant adhomen attack. Worse, a friend of mine who is a lecturer in sociology endorsed a plan to send bricks to the UKIP's freepost address, thus wasting their money. But if the UKIP supporters then send bricks to the left-wing parties, then all parties lose money and the postal system slows down. I would have thought a lecturer in sociology would understand about not defecting and keeping the moral high ground, but apparently I was wrong.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky6yThis should be false(r) in HPMOR, given the number of cameos from readers all around the planet. I worried that I was making Hogwarts seem unrealistically multiethnic, and then decided, hey, wizards have had Apparition and portkeys for centuries, it's a wonder they even still have national cultures.
1skeptical_lurker6yHPMOR is more ethnic (and gender) balanced than canon, and IMO does seem to have a realistic ethnic composition given teleportation (as you mentioned) and border controls. But its nowhere near 50% Asian as one might expect if there were no borders. BTW I hope I don't sound too critical. I have hugely enjoyed the rest of HPMOR and I just think that comparing real-world politics to Voldemort's indifference is unnecessary mindkilling.
3Azathoth1236yIt's interesting, especially given that no one seems to care that the current EU head is a not-quite-repentant former soviet apologist.
2buybuydandavis6yI bet the mindkilling predated UKIP's victory, and only afforded an impetus to action for those already mindkilled. Why do you find this surprising? That's the standard attack. It's simply background music. In Western democracies, the Left fights for power and is serious about it. Any means available. When does the opposition to the Left ever respond with a little tit for tat? In the US, there are all sorts of people mouthing off big words about fighting government tyranny, while meekly standing by while their children are sexually assaulted by the TSA purportedly looking for nuclear weapons in their underwear. What he understands that you don't is that his enemies won't fight back. If your enemies are fundamentally pacifists toward your aggression, why ever stop?
3MugaSofer6yAh, I'm no expert in US politics, but I thought that was a Right-supported program? With what little of the Overton Window that covers "this is an absurd overreaction" lying on the metaphorical left-hand side?
2buybuydandavis6yBoth left and right support the screenings, but it's fair enough that while this made for an instance of government tyranny that people might oppose but don't, it wasn't a good instance of one pushed predominantly by the Left.
2Lumifer6yUnfortunately, it was (and is) a universally supported program. A pretty good example of Yvain's Moloch, too -- no serious political group can afford to be tarred with the "leave America defenseless before the terrorists" brush...
1Azathoth1236yI'm not sure about that. At least I have a hard time finding anyone on the internet, in either political camp, who supports it.
1Lumifer6yLook at it from the other side -- which serious political group loudly opposes TSA?
1Azathoth1236yI remember a story about Rick Perry trying to pass a law limiting the kinds of things the TSA could do in Texas airports before relenting after the FAA threatened to ban flights to Texas airports if the law passed.
1Azathoth1236yWell the right wing talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh opposed it from day 1. Also I remember a left wing political cartoon from shortly after 9/11 implying that Republicans were in bed with the corporate sector for not wanting to nationalize airport security (which was then provided by private contractors).
1MugaSofer6yAh, interesting! I didn't know that. Props to Limbaugh et al. (Nationalizing airport security seems orthogonal to the TSA search issue, though.)
2Azathoth1236yPrivate contractors hired by and answerable to the airports (and to a certain extend the airlines) have more incentive to not annoy customers than a national agency with fuzzy accountability.
2hairyfigment6yWhat [http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/29/deceptively-edited-t0rture-s3x-video-convinces-colorado-ag-to-target-planned-parenthood/] are [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACORN_2009_undercover_videos_controversy#cite_ref-68] you [http://boingboing.net/2010/10/26/rand-paul-supporters.html] talking [http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/12/01/empireforest-fire/] about [https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A0LEVje76NlTOG0AhEgPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMG04Z2o2BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw--?qid=20090407085336AAXjPQl] ? (I couldn't find the one where a neo-reactionary asks Scott how many people he wants to kill.) Is this meant to imply some self-refuting statement about the LW community?
0buybuydandavis6yI assume few people try to make self refuting statements. I guess we're even, as I have no idea what you're talking about either.
4gjm6yI think what he's getting at is: the Right shows at least as much sign of trying to win by any means possible as the Left, and doesn't behave at all like a bunch of fluffy pacifists who never fight back when attacked. [EDITED to fix horrible typo -- "off" for "of" -- which I think was the result of autocomplete on a mobile device.]
2skeptical_lurker6yI'd agree, it has at most increased the mindkill. "Amazed" was the wrong word, used in a sloppy rhetorical sense. 'Disappointed' might be better. Well, of course UKIP didn't respond in kind, including when the prank escalated to sending blood and shit. And of course, it's UKIP who are the fascists, so let's hit them with sticks! Thing is, I do understand this, but maybe I've haven't fully internalised the fact an intelligent person can think that they are 'fighting the power' (he argues that UKIP are extremely similar to Nazis) while crushing anyone who dares to utter a contradictory opinion. I would say I can't understand this behaviour, but that would be purely rhetorical, because I do know what compartmentalisation is. And when you have an iron grip on the moral high ground because anyone who disagrees with you is racist, then I suppose you can afford to defect constantly.

I did enjoy the rest of the chapter however. Quirrel's statements about horcruxes were initially surprising - if he is telling the truth, then how is he still alive? If not, then wouldn't he want Harry experimenting with horcruxes in order to turn him to the dark side?

Perhaps he is a Horcrux transfer (as long speculated) but a failed one; introspecting about how different he is from his memories of 'himself', he would realize 'he' hadn't survived and all that was left was a weird mishmash of Monroe's personality and Voldemort's memories, and this was entirely worthless as immortality.

What argument could be more convincing to Quirrel than personally embodying the failure of horcruxes as an immortality strategy?

5lfghjkl6yI've also been thinking along these lines, anyone remember this part from the opening ceremony? It seems to imply that becoming the second victim of a Horcrux might not necessarily create a mishmash of personalities, but instead have them competing as separate (maybe "partially mixed"?) identities. This would also explain why Harry consider his "dark side" different from himself.
5gwern6yYes, that often came up in past discussions. The problem is that the dual persona part seemed to get dropped early on and it changed to one of energy - Quirrel going into zombie-mode, not shy-Quirinius-mode. Presumably when he was up there on the podium, he was trying to summon up the energy for his speech.
1MugaSofer6y... hmm. You know, depending on how separate the personalities are, it's possible the original ("zombie") Quirrel was simply stressed out of his mind from Voldemort essentially holding him prisoner in his own body.
1Ben Pace6yThis lack of a definite personhood may be related to the answer that Quirrell gave when Harry asked him why he wasn't like the other children. [Emphasis added]
0skeptical_lurker6yIf Monroe was a hero, then Monroe's personality really doesn't fit with some of Quirrel's actions. But there are times when it seems like Quirrel is developing some affection for Harry, for instance the Christmas present. I have long been wondering if there is a possibility of Harry redeeming Quirrelmort, and if there is actually any part of Quirrel still in there, it makes this idea a lot more plausible. I had thought that after the redemption, Harry would deduce that Quirrel is Voldemort. But I think there is not enough time left in the story for this to play out.
4gwern6yWe aren't told enough about Monroe during the war to really know. Maybe Quirrel really is what an embittered Monroe personality plus murdered family plus Voldemort memories plus amnesia plus terminal disease from sacrifices would look like.
1MugaSofer6yAlso, the Defence Professor lied-with-truth about having stolen Quirrel's body outright "using incredibly Dark magic" when questioned on the real Quirrel's whereabouts.
3drethelin6yThe argument isn't about immigration to Britain, it's about a trade embargo between the whole Wizarding World and everyone else. There's one drinking fountain for wizards and another for muggles, only instead of both having water the wizarding one is full of healing potions.
3buybuydandavis6yI don't find it surprising from a combination of EY's libertarianism and utilitarianism. Many libertarians are this way, and utilitarianism only adds more support for the argument.
3Azathoth1236yI'm not convinced utilitarianism actually adds support. At the very least Bryan Caplan's arguments rely on freely switching between deontology and consequentialism, frequently in the same argument, to work.
4buybuydandavis6yHow many billion people would be better off if allowed to immigrate to GB? Utilitarianism is about counting everyone's utility the same. "Shut up and multiply" - where multiply is the number of people, not a weighting factor for how much you give a shit about them. That weighting factor should be 1 for all. Not that I'm a utilitarian. But a libertarian utilitarian would have his work cut out for him to overcome the basic tenets of non initiation of force and weighing everyone's utility equally to justify limiting immigration.
2Dentin6yPeople would only immigrate to GB until there was no further utility involved in doing so. It's highly unlikely you'd end up with even one billion people there, even assuming that they could all fit. Perhaps the phrase should not be 'shut up and multiply', but rather 'shut up and integrate'.
4Lumifer6yThat was expressed better in Snow Crash: "...once the Invisible Hand has taken away all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity..."
2skeptical_lurker6y... You can't fit billions of people in the UK. ( I guess that's not what you meant, but that's what it sounds like) Well, an absolute libertarian could of course not justify the state doing anything. And a utilitarian could come up with arguments against unrestricted immigration - for one thing, perhaps it would be better to maintain at least some border controls but increase foreign aid? I'm not suggesting this is a good idea, it just doesn't seem immediatly ridiculous.
3MugaSofer6yYou can, actually. It's called "the British Empire". It was widely considered a bad idea the last time it was tried, but it is possible. The United Kingdom is not defined by it's current set of borders or locations.
3jbay6yThe gain in quality of life from moving to the UK would gradually diminish as the island became overcrowded, until there was no net utility gain from people moving there anymore. Unrestricted immigration is not the same thing as inviting all seven billion humans to the UK. People will only keep immigrating until the average quality of life is the same in the UK as it is anywhere else; then there will be an equilibrium.
2RichardKennaway6yThat quality will be substantially less than it is in the UK right now. That is why the current population of the UK, and any other developed country (i.e. any country with a standard of living much higher than the world average), does not want unrestricted immigration.
2jbay6yYes, of course. But the net average quality of life is increased overall. Please examine the posts that I'm replying to here, for the context of the point I am making. For convenience I've copied it below: If you are entering the argument with a claim that the UK's current inhabitants can be utilitarian and simultaneously weigh their own utility higher than those of other humans, then you should be directing your argument toward buybuydanddavis' post, since ze's the one who said "That weighting factor should be 1 for all". I am merely noting that not being able to fit billions of people in the UK is not a valid counterargument; net utility will still be increased by such a policy no matter what the UK's population carrying capacity is.
2Illano6yI'm not sure this necessarily holds true. In very broad strokes, if the quality of life is increased by X for a single immigrant, but having that immigrant present in the country decreases the quality of life for the existing population by more than X/population, then even if a specific immigrants quality of life is improved, it doesn't mean that the net average quality of life is increased overall.
0jbay6yYes..... you may be right, and it is a compelling reason, for example, not to admit terrorists into a country. I suppose that if a particular individual's admission into the country would depress the entire country by a sufficient amount, then that's a fair reason to keep them out, without worrying about valuing different peoples' utilities unequally.
-1RichardKennaway6yIf that is an argument for doing it, it's also an argument for managing one's own home the same way. That ended badly for George Price [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_R._Price]. I don't recognise an obligation to give my stuff away so long as anyone has less than I do, and I take the same attitude at every scale. There's nothing wrong with anyone trying to emigrate to a better place than they are in; but nothing wrong with No Entry signs either.
1jbay6yThat's fine. Do you consider yourself a utilitarian? Many people do not. For that matter, following Illano's line of thought, it's not clear that the amount that poor people would appreciate receiving all of my possessions is greater than the amount of sadness I would suffer from losing everything I own. (Although if I was giving it away out of a feeling of moral inclination to do so, I would presumably be happy with my choice). I'm not sure what George Price was thinking exactly.
0RichardKennaway6yNo, I don't. The Price endgame is one reason why. The complexity of value [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Complexity_of_value] is another. I do what seems good to me. That may be informed by theorising, but cannot be subservient to it.
1buybuydandavis6yBut it cuts against the grain of the fundamental premises of both ideologies. That's what I'm saying. The zero order application of both ideologies leads to open borders. Not true. A state could always justly protect people willing to be protected from initiation of force.
1skeptical_lurker6yFair enough. Yes, I agree that open boarders is the most obvious policy for a libertarian utilitarian, although more from the libertarian POV. Utilitarianism requires thinking long-term - redistribution of wealth by tax is clearly a utilitarian good in the short term, but in the longer term it might become harder to incentivise useful work and so the issue is not so clear cut. This is why its possible to be libertarian utilitarian, rather than a communist utilitarian. In the same manner, the long-term effects of absolute open boarders might be quite negative.
2Azathoth1236yThis is just another version of the utilitarian argument for redistributive taxation and has a similar problem. Hint: consider what it is about GB that makes it such a more desirable place then the immigrants' home countries and how that difference comes about.
2buybuydandavis6yYes, that's my point. Open borders in general is supported by utilitarianism. No need to try to convince me that utilitarianism has it's failings, I've been on board that ship for a long time.
4Azathoth1236yMy point is that a libertarian utilitarian can see the flaws in the naive utilitarian argument for redistribution. The naive utilitarian argument for open borders has similar flaws.
2Jiro6yIt's just the flip side of the utilitarian idea that you have to give everything you own to charity (except for the money you need to keep making more money to give to charity). Pretty much nobody actually does this, but utilitarianism demands it. Except in this case, it's not about reducing your utility to increase other people's utility by a greater amount, it's about reducing the utility of everyone in the country to increase other people's utility by a greater amount. It's always easier robbing Peter to pay Paul if you are not Peter. Or for another comparison, taxation. We could let in lots of immigrants, decreasing the utility of people already in the country for a greater increase in the utility of other people. We could also tax people in the country and use it to buy foreigners a whole series of things starting with malaria nets, again reducing the utility of people already in the country for a greater increase in the utility of other people. Yet taxing locals for the benefit of outsiders is something we only do to a very limited extent, and mostly when giving things to outsiders also brings us some benefit. (And before you say libertarians don't believe in initiation of force, most libertarians are not anarchocapitalists and do think there is some role for government.)
6Viliam_Bur6yJust wondering, why not do it the other way round? Make the immigrants pay higher taxes. (Only the first generation; because their children are already born in this country.) For the immigrants, it is presumably still a big improvement over living in their country of origin. For the local people, it removes the "but we would have to pay higher taxes" argument.
5Plasmon6yImmigrants to the UK pay, on average, more taxes than native Brits [http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/04/uk-immigration-_n_4212431.html].
4Jiro6yThe biggest problem with the headline is that it assumes "immigrants" are a homogenous group. There could be some groups that are good for the country and some which are not, in which case you could still justify keeping the second group out. If you read the article it even says "However the report highlights that not all groups of migrants make a positive fiscal contribution to the UK and in some cases migrants can represent a burden for public finances." Also, this doesn't count losses in utility that happen to locals because of immigrants but don't involve collecting benefits, such as increases in crime rates or unemployment rates.
1skeptical_lurker6yThat's quite interesting, and does refute a lot of the people who argue against all immigration. But the UK does have some forms of boarder control.
2Jiro6yIn order to do that the immigrants would have to pay enough in taxes to make up for the loss in utility by the preexisting residents. Some groups of immigrants, such as immigrants resembling the current Mexican illegals, may not be able to pay that. Furthermore, the same political groups who want more immigrants would oppose such a plan to the point where it won't be feasible. And the fact that they have children in this country is part of what decreases utility for the people already in the country.
1[anonymous]6yWhat? If an employer is willing to hire the immigrant, this means that his labour is more valuable to her than her money, and if a grocer is willing to sell him food, this means that his money is more valuable to her than her food, so it'd seem like the immigrant is providing positive net value to the original population of the country, isn't him?
3Jiro6yIt means the immigrant is producing positive net value to a member of the country, but it can still reduce the average utility for every member of the country.
1Alsadius6yBut if it reduces the averages by raising every individual's utility and simply moving people from the "outside" group to the "inside" group who started with low utility, we can hardly call that bad.
2[anonymous]6y(This is known as Will Rogers phenomenon [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers_phenomenon] BTW.)
0Alsadius6yThanks. I knew there was a name for it, just couldn't remember what it was.
2NancyLebovitz6yIf immigrants generally reduce utility for everyone in the country, would the same apply for the children of citizens?
1skeptical_lurker6yThere is a middle ground between 'all immigration is generally bad' and 'there should be no boarder controls whatsoever'.
1bramflakes6yPeople intrinsically care about their children.
1skeptical_lurker6yThe UK, like pretty much every other country in the world, does not run on a pure capitalist economy.
0ThisSpaceAvailable6yWhat do you mean by that? That there are externalities?
1skeptical_lurker6yA common argument against immigration is that immigrants are a drain on the welfare state. I don't think this is true in the average case, but it can't be dismissed solely from first principles of an efficient market.
0[anonymous]6yIn principle you could let some person in without giving them any welfare benefits.
1skeptical_lurker6yYes, and without access to taxpayer funded schools etc. We could talk about a hypothetical AnCap UK, but this isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future.
1NancyLebovitz6yIf immigration is open, it doesn't just benefit the people who move to the UK. It also benefits family members who stay behind-- the immigrant will probably send money home.
1buybuydandavis6yLa Wik knows all:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remittance [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remittance] Remittances back to the home country often represent a sizable fraction of a country's GDP, exceeding all international aid and foreign investments.
1Velorien6yI'm not an economist, but doesn't that in turn harm the people who are still in the UK, because money is being moved out of the country rather than being reinvested in the UK economy?
1NancyLebovitz6yOn the other hand, work is being done in the UK, but money is being taken out-- this should lower prices, at least for a while.
1buybuydandavis6yThe local buyers of competing labor benefit, the local sellers of competing labor lose. If we're playing utilitarianism globally with decreasing marginal utility, it's a win, If we're playing nationally, it's likely a loss.
0skeptical_lurker6yThat EY is in favour of unrestricted immigration I don't find too surprising, or objectionable, not that I would take his word on this - he's not an economist. What I object to is the implication that British people think foreigners are not even worth spitting on. And incidentally, don't people get banned from LW? Even people who mass downvote are, it was said, as human as anyone else; who were said to be sapient beings, worth more than any mere unicorn. But who nonetheless wouldn't be allowed to post in LW. Edit: On more sober reflection, the last paragraph is not the most intelligent thing I have ever written. It seems to equate banning/exile with preventing immigration in the first place, and I suppose there are reasons why you might want a website to have powers a nation-state doesn't anyway.
4Luke_A_Somers6y... so? The only ways I see that this provides an argument at all are so strained I feel like I have to be not grasping the reason you mentioned it.
3Azathoth1236yAny community, whether a website or a country, requires people with a shared set of norms (I probably what a more general word but I can't think of one). To maintain this it needs some combination of training/indoctrination of newcomers and excluding people who don't, won't, or can't accept them.
1Luke_A_Somers6yThese two things are far enough apart that arguing for one does not do much to argue for the other.
1Azathoth1236yYes, but the principal I stated is pretty general. Care to explain why you think it doesn't apply in the case of countries.
1Luke_A_Somers6y1) Countries are really big. There are multiple layers of sub-community, providing for much more diversity even in a country that isn't about diversity. LW is multiple orders of magnitude smaller than Britain even with lurkers counted, and if we only count the regulars, the same can be said of magical Britain. 2) Countries don't have a specific purpose. Websites often do (including this one, used in the example). On a website, simply going off-topic badly can be a bannable offense (not here, yes). A country trying to do that is farcical. 3) The example given above, that I was responding to, was about someone who was let in to LW, did some bad things, and was banned. This is the equivalent of exile. It was targeted and in response to an existing wrong. It was not done proactively for a broad category of people who had not done anything wrong. 4) Speaking of those people not doing anything wrong, "don't, won't, or can't accept [the community's norms]" might be a legitimate reason, but it was not the criterion applied in the example, even approximately.
1Azathoth1236yYes, but you still need standards for said sub-communities to be able to coexist. Depends on the website and the situation. Hacker News, for example, temporarily disables creating new accounts whenever it is linked to by a mainstream source. Also if a bunch of people from 4chan decided to show up here, I suspect you'd support proactive measures. What example were you thinking of? In the example of immigration to the GB, if you listen to the complaints of the people against immigration, many of them amount to the above criterion.
3skeptical_lurker6yHmm, you might be right - I was unsure about this sentence when I posted it, but, well, politics is the mindkiller. Edited. The reason I mentioned it is because it seems to me that there are perfectly good utilitarian reasons for banning people from places without denying their worth as a person.
0buybuydandavis6yI think he was never dead or diminished. That Quirrell would not take precautions against "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord" strikes me as crazy talk. Even if there were no "sense of doom" back then, why take chances? Have Bella wring it's neck. The end. He faked his death, set up Harry as a savior, took a vacation, and returned as Quirrell when Harry became old enough to use magic.
1skeptical_lurker6y'Professor Quirrell's voice sounded a bit sharp for some reason' is a hint that he is Voldemort, and that he did not fake his own death. This is why I'm not buying the otherwise fairly plausible 'Voldemort faked his own death' theories
0hairyfigment6yPossible reasons include: * He was Voldemort, and has some reason which seems good to him for not trying to AK Harry, then or now. The reminder that at least one Outside View says otherwise annoys him. * He wants Harry to learn AK, well enough to ensure the boy casts it (or genuinely tries rather than trying to try) in a moment of crisis, and thus wants him to practice the actual pronunciation or at least not practice mangling it. * Though the "for enemies" event hasn't happened yet, other events gave him a (possibly irrational) distaste for Muggle-borns who think "abracabara" is funny. * A sharp tone serves his goals for some reason.
1skeptical_lurker6yOnly a very paranoid person would assume this power applied when Harry was a baby. What if he sent Bella, and she couldn't bring herself too kill a baby? I know this seems unlikely, but not as unlikely as a baby being the only person to ever survive AK.

We learn a number of very interesting things in this chapter. I'll focus on one area

-Like with horcrux sspell, abssurdity [of the stone] hidess true ssecret. -True Sstone iss not what that legend ssayss. -True power iss not what sstoriess claim. -Sstone iss powerful healing device in truth.

So it's confirmed it exists and that it isn't what people think and that it's power / mechanism isn't what people think.

This is important because thinking back to Harry's early experiments with Hermione, he discovered that if you don't know what a spell does or ... (read more)

4Velorien6yThis depends very much on how people conceptualise the philosopher's stone. If they go "by following these instructions, I will create a stone that produces the elixir of life and is also capable of permanently transmuting base metal into gold", and the philosopher's stone does not in fact do these things, then yes, they will fail. On the other hand, if the wizard in question is aware that they have no idea how such an artefact is supposed to produce the elixir of life (or indeed what the elixir of life is beyond its expected function), or how it's supposed to transmute things, then their thought will surely be more like "by following these instructions, I will create an artefact that will deliver great benefits unto me, its possessor". Which ought to be sufficient to succeed if "for enemies" is. If so, surely at least one of the many wizards to attempt the philosopher's stone ritual(?) must have been contemplating a sufficiently broad possibility space to succeed. And yet this does not appear to have been the case. For further evidence, consider how frequently people learn and cast the Patronus Charm despite the fact that they are completely ignorant of how it really works.
1William_Quixote6yAlthough people are ignorant of why it works, people casting the patronus charm know exactly what it does. It makes a silver colored animal that makes fear go away and can chase dementors. As to conceptualization, you may well be right that it could be done without understanding the mechanism but with correct conceptualization. But, I bet most wizards don't have the right conceptualization. And worse, I bet most wizards investigating the philosophers stone have a Theory. And their theory is probably directly wrong which blocks them from being able to do it.
0Velorien6yThis does sound very likely. Although it's worth noting that there are at least a few powerful wizards who are, if not rational, at least capable of processing evidence without leaping to conclusions - we hear them described at the conclusion of Hermione's trial.
1Hyphen-ated6yI've been under the impression through the whole story that Harry's father's rock is the philosopher's stone. Is Quirrel just referring to Harry here? The Harry we know wasn't "born to the name now used", or really born at all, because his current self comes from a merger of the original Harry and Voldemort. Harry is the repository of much lore about science. Harry has taught Dumbledore many "secrets" about muggle science and rationality. (hasn't he? I can't remember any specifics because I haven't done a reread in a long time)
2Velorien6yEven assuming that all this is accurate, why would Quirrell give Harry a third-person description of Harry, framed as if he was describing a third party? Apart from the standalone ridiculousness of such behaviour, if Quirrell believed that Harry already had the stone, and knew that Harry was willing to use the stone for his benefit, then this sort of obfuscation would be the last thing he'd do.
0BloodyShrimp6yUnless Quirrell isn't interested in the stone primarily here, but in tricking Harry into doing something else trying to get the stone.
1William_Quixote6yHmm I hadn't thought the rock was the stone. That would be a great twist, but I doubt it because Dumbeldore said it was not magical to his knowledge when Harry asked him. Also even if it is the stone, I don't think QQ knows this.
0hairyfigment6yAlso, we have what seems like a sufficient explanation for the rock - assuming Albus knew that the Defense Professor mentioned trolls while he was subtly encouraging Harry to learn the Killing Curse.
1ChristianKl6yNo. It would be stupid for Dumbledore to hand out the philosopher's stone that way. It doesn't make it protected.

"One thing," whispered Professor Quirrell. "One thing... that might do it... or it might not... but to obtain it... is beyond your power, or mine..."

Oh, it was just the setup for a subquest, said Harry's Inner Critic.

All the other parts screamed for that part to shut up. Life didn't work like that. Ancient artifacts could be found, but not in a month, not when you couldn't leave Hogwarts and were still in your first year.

Of course, that rule does not apply if the artifact was hidden by a man who thinks in story plots.

Chapter 12:

“Ad

... (read more)

Has anyone compiled a list of Chekhov's guns that haven't been fired yet in the story so far? Off the top of my head, I have:

  • Bacon's diary
  • Bellatrix Black
  • Sirius Black (incidentally a candidate for the Cloak and Hat, who possibly knows limitations of the Marauders' map)
  • Traps on the third floor
  • Significance of Dumbledore writing in Lily Potter's potion's book
  • Lesath Lestrange
  • Harry's 'shopping list' given to Gred and Forge
  • The missed glint in the Godric's Hollow graveyard
  • Chamber of Secrets / Salazar's snake?
  • Secrets of spell creation (which Quirrel is so keen on keeping away from Harry)

Anything else?

3gjm6yMany of these don't exactly count as Chekhov's guns, but they have this in common with your Chekhov's guns: They seem like substantial unresolved things and I will be disappointed if the end of HPMOR leaves a lot of them unresolved: * Prophecies about Harry and the end of the world (for some values of "end" and "world"). * How magic works (e.g., why you have to say "Wingardium Leviosa" to make things float; resolving this may be more or less equivalent to resolving spell creation). * Harry's intention of defeating death, perhaps in some fashion that involves the Deathly Hallows. * The list of locations discussed by Harry and Quirrell, which may or may not correspond to Horcrux hiding places or something. * Harry's "power that the Dark Lord knows not"; probably not either Science or partial transfiguration, but unlikely to be "love" as in Rowling. * What's wrong (and how genuinely) with Quirrell. * The interaction between Harry's and Quirrell's magic (kinda the same as in Rowling? maybe, or maybe not). * Harry's vow to do away with Azkaban and the use of Dementors to guard human beings. * Harry's debt to Lucius Malfoy. (Or -- I forget -- did that get cancelled somehow when Hermione got killed?) * What, if anything, Harry was doing after Hermione's death; e.g., is he carrying her transfigured corpse around or something? * Harry's "father's rock" (just transfiguration practice? actually some powerful magical artefact in disguise? etc.) * What really happened in Godric's Hollow when Harry was a baby. * Exactly what Quirrell's plans really are. (On some plausible theories, closely related to what happened in Godric's Hollow.)
0[anonymous]6yAnd that curse Quirrell mentioned that requires a sword and a rope. I think it will have to do with Bloody baron and the Monk (House ghosts).
2[anonymous]6yI'm not sure the missed glint in the Godric's Hollow graveyard was a Chekhov's gun. I took it as the final resting place of one or more of the Peverell brothers, which responded to Harry's declaration against death. In other words I think its relevance was fully explained in the context of that chapter, and wasn't left expecting any more from it.
0DanArmak6ySome of these have been explained / fired already. I think most people agree that: * Sirius Black is not Hat and Cloak, because H&C was Quirrel; I think this is pretty definite. * Traps on the third floor are an obvious trap for a Dark Lord foolish enough to try stealing the Philosopher's Stone, which Quirrel is not, because he realizes it isn't there. * What Dumbledore wrote in Lily Potter's potions book was advice she used to help her sister. Which was a risky, stupid, Griffindor / Dumbledorian thing to do. The horrible secret is that not that Dumbledore sneaked into the girls' dorms at night (presumably he found a different opportunity to write in the diary) but that Dumbledore caused Lily to help her sister, which caused Petunia to marry Professor Michael Verres-Evans instead of Vernon Dursley, even though a centaur told Lily doing this would cause the world to end, which is now about to happen. And this caused the HP:MOR universe to branch from the canon Harry Potter universe. * There's nothing interesting left in the Chamber of Secrets, because the Dark Lord killed Salazar's snake and removed any portable artifacts.
0buural6y* I too agree that Quirrel is H&C with the highest probability. However, I would not assign zero probability to Sirius Black either, hence I wrote he was a candidate, not the candidate for H&C. * I think it has already been implied in the text several times that the Philosopher's Stone is in fact still in Hogwarts. Granted, it may not be behind those particular traps on the third floor. * The above quote makes me think of what is so special about Hogwarts that it alone can protect the Stone. It is not likely to be merely presence of Dumbledore (or he could easily be carrying it with him everywhere he goes). Something unique about Hogwarts allows it to safeguard the Stone even from Voldemort who supposedly can always divine its whereabouts. My working hypothesis is again that Hogwarts is a jumble of multiple versions of itself from different timelines/realities. If this hypothesis is true, then the Chamber of Secrets is hidden in time, so a version of it with a live snake may still exist. * Somewhat related to my other post, I am not exactly sure how prophecies are supposed to work. Yes, I know that they are supposed to "relieve pressure" built in the time continuum but to me they sound like information traveling more than 6 hours into the past. Sounds like the centaur accurately prophesied events 10+ years into the future! The only reason why Dumbledore would take active role in trying to bring the prophecy to fruition by manipulating Lily is if he himself was the sender of the message or somehow knows that failing to act in this particular way will result in a worse outcome than the 'end of the world'. In short, I'd say this particular Chekhov gun still has plenty of unused ammo.

Hypothesis:

  • The prophesied 'end of the world' will involve meddling with Time.

Some semi-random observations/conjectures supporting the hypothesis:

  • The 6-hour information transfer limit is tied to the Interdict of Merlin. A 6-hour timeframe seems rather arbitrary in terms of describing a purely natural constraint of the underlying physical reality. It makes perfect sense, on the other hand, as a human-designed complementary measure of enforcing the Interdict as otherwise wizards would be traveling back in time to learn from old masters before their dea

... (read more)
275th6yHarry himself appears to be pretty firmly set against that: So I wouldn't say never, but I think it would take something extraordinary, considerably more so even than Hermione's death, to drive him to that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- At the time Quirrell begins his freakout, he doesn't know what form it will take, either. He just heard that "HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD" and that's all he needs to know. He may get clued in a bit more later on, when he overhears Firenze talking to Harry. Clearly, Harry is going to acquire a massive amount of power he doesn't already have, but I don't see any particular reason to promote the option of super-duper-time-travel to the fore.
0buural6yThe quote by Harry that you provide comes from very early in the story, before he resolved to become the next "Dark Lord" (in the sense of someone willing to defy the tyranny of majority if necessary) and before he resolved to undo Hermione's death doing whatever it takes. More generally, my sense is that HPMOR Harry is partial to utilitarian logic (recall his qualms related to the possibility of sentient grass). Even if his worldview hadn't evolved as much as it did since the beginning of the story, I would not rule out him going against his feelings expressed in the quote if he believed the net welfare gain to humanity warranted it. On a slightly related note, I always found the Comed-Tea horribly overpowered. Not only does the soda drink look forward in time (anticipating choke-worthy events in advance) but also is powerful enough to affect the mind of the drinker to make him/her feel the urge to drink it. The programming/magic behind the drink's creation seems absurdly advanced for the end purpose used. Merlin's spell being able to affect all wizards of all time or the very existence of time travel - all these seem to narrow down significantly the set of possible physical realities as imagined by Eliezer, perhaps even his own timeless physics, but that's just pure speculation on my part as I am in no way an expert in physics.
1[anonymous]6yI thought "destroying stars" was pretty simple: Dyson spheres. That's not actual destruction per se, but from a Centaur's perspective...
0buural6yWhile I agree that Dyson spheres are a possible interpretation, the wording of the prophecy doesn't make them a likely candidate: From the vantage point of view of an observer on Earth, a Dyson sphere would likely appear to extinguish stars outside it (assuming we are talking about a version that is impermeable to light from either side). Tearing apart doesn't sound like a probable description. Note that the prophecy talks of the end of the world, which again can be better explained by the end of the timeline/reality hypothesis rather than a Dyson sphere
0[anonymous]6yAstroid mining? There's some room for interpretation here on the meaning of "star". Plus I wouldn't rule out stars themselves eventually being mined for resources, e.g. by triggering coronal mass ejections.

So here's an obvious way to fix all known problems of the horcrux spell. You need a variant that kills the caster and moves their ghost into the victim's body. To avoid personality conflicts, the victim should be a baby who doesn't have much of a personality yet. And since the spell doesn't use an intermediate item, knowledge is not lost. Sounds like what happened to baby Harry, right?

2buybuydandavis6yAlmost. Harry still grew up as a baby/child, and not as a genius wizard. The first horcrux was off of Lily's death burst, passing some personality traits of Quirrell into Harry. The next death burst will be Quirrell's, which will transfer his intelligence into Harry. Quirrell casts his own death burst into Harry?
0[anonymous]6yExcept there's still no continuity of self.
1avichapman6yI don't think that would bother me. If the resulting person has all of my memories and personality and everything else that I consider important about myself and the original copy was destroyed painlessly it would make no difference. But then again, I'm a programmer. I copy data structures and destroy the originals all the time and yet treat them as one and the same.

Harry seems to have neglected the possibility that the Philosopher's Stone is a general-purpose transmutation device, thus explaining why it would be able to produce both gold and the elixir of life.

And since Fullmetal Alchemist was plagiarized from wizard lore, you'd think this would be a reasonably common hypothesis.

I don't know where else to post this, but I've been entertaining a hypothesis about HPMOR's version of magic. Has anyone already made the connection between magic and Outcome Pumps? During the first chapters in Hogwarts, Harry talks a lot about expectations, and about magic being able to match them, and it ocurred to me that HPMOR's magic was a mechanism to force your universe to branch into one that matches your expectation. Then I read somewhere, in old threads, that EY was at one point in the past planning to write a story about a device to "squeez... (read more)

4Ben Pace6yIf this is the case, I imagine that the story will be darn-near not understandable towards the end, when Harry finds this out. I mean, what do you expect to happen when you expect reality to fit your expectations? When the territory starts to match to the map?! Edit: a Added the words 'you expect' and changed nearby words to be grammatically appropriate.
4skeptical_lurker6yI've been writing a story based on this premise. Spoiler: crazy shit happens.
3Larks6yWell, if the "expects" operator starts acting like a "proves" operator, that sounds like Lob's theorem.
2fubarobfusco6ySounds like the ending of Anathem.
2NancyLebovitz6yIt also reminds me of Friedman's Coldfire [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coldfire_trilogy] books.
4falenas1086yThe first experiments Harry did, where he told Hermione what the spells did but gave her wrong pronunciations, tested for this theory. If your idea is correct, the spells should have worked anyway. But they didn't.
1Scott Garrabrant6yIf Harry did not expect them to work, that might have been enough to make them not work. Was this study double blind? e.g. Harry should have written down two pronunciations, left the room, and let Hermione randomly choose and cast one.

Harry totally expected them to work. The idea that the universe should actually care about the way you pronounce oogely-boogely is absurd. He planned out a nice long series of experiments, and then had to scrap them after the first one falsified his theory.

0ChristianKl6yI don't think that setup completely removes expectations. There nothing you can do to get rid of expecations if you live in a magical world where they have direct effects.

Not related to CH102, but I just realized that "Slytherin System" messages are a physical implementation of Tor. Entry node who knows only the sender and the middle node, middle node who knows only the entry and exit nodes, exit node who knows only the middle node and the receiver.

1gwern6yYep. I enjoyed seeing a mix net in MoR. Incidentally, can you see any weaknesses in the Slytherin System as described?
2pushcx6ySure: there's no indication of delivery, so you don't even know if one of the hops in your message opened all the envelopes, took all the money, read your private note, and trashed it.
175th6yI think there's a bonus feature to having two hops in the middle. If the sender finds that the recipient never received the message, he immediately distrusts his first hop and perhaps publishes the knowledge. If the first hop wasn't the culprit, he either publishes the second hop's unreliability or takes horrible devious Slytheriny vengeance on them. So, due to mutually assured destruction, neither hop wants to defect and risk losing a nice income source permanently.
1gwern6yYes, without public-key crypto or at least crypto of some sort, you easily lose any secrecy to any bad actors in the mix net. But the absence of dummy messages or very high traffic also means you don't necessarily get anonymity either: just observe everyone in the System.
075th6y"Tor" stands for "The Onion Router", and I could have sworn that Harry explicitly thought of the Slytherin System as "onion routing" at one point but I can't seem to find it.

/u/solipsist, in another comment on this thread:

Do not try to obtain Sstone yoursself. I forbid.

This was said by Quirrell in Parseltongue. If you can only tell the truth in Parseltongue, then Quirrell was really forbidding Harry from obtaining the stone himself.

If Quirrell can't lie in Parseltongue (and not just Harry, since Harry's speaking as a standard Parselmouth but Quirrell is speaking as a sentient snake), and if that prohibition enforces the sincerity of imperative commands and not just declarative statements, then clearly what Quirrell is s... (read more)

2Viliam_Bur6yI guess I know what Harry told Fred/George to buy him in Chapter 98. The greatest alchemist tool ever! [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compass_%28drafting%29] :D
2Velorien6yOn the other hand, strongly implies that different alchemical procedures require different circles. What are the odds that Dumbledore just happens to have the right circle for philosopher's stone creation ready, given that he has no desire for immortality, no special need for gold, and access to an existing philosopher's stone anyway?
075th6yWe definitely don't know enough specifics about HPMoR-alchemy to come to any firm conclusions. Does the "alchemical circle" that has to be so precise refer to just the containing circle itself, or to all the runes inside it, too? If the former, then the circle could be a permanent part of the room, while the runes are drawn (the earlier passage does say the Transfiguration studio's diagram was "drawn") slightly more crudely in some way that's erasable. If the latter, then, Are there different runes for different alchemies, or is it always the same "board" that you perform different processes on top of? If the latter, then the whole room could be ready to go; if the former, then yeah, Harry may be out of luck. I did some Googling about the history of alchemy, and the diagram I saw associated with the Philosopher's Stone in several places was a circle-inscribed-in-a-square-inscribed-in-a-triangle-inscribed-in-the-Circle. If Eliezer is consistent with that, then Harry's probably going to have to draw at least the runes on his own. I do think that it makes more sense literarily for Harry to have to go through the trapped third-floor corridor to the room with the "magic mirror" rather than skipping it altogether. But as others have pointed out, if it is the Mirror of Erised and Dumbledore's scheme is the same as in canon, HPMoR-Harry probably won't qualify to receive the Stone, since he totally does want to use it, and (I hope) can't somehow make himself not want to use it in a way that satisfies Dumbledore's spell. So maybe he'll get to the mirror, find himself flummoxed, and then proceed to go make one. I don't know.
1[anonymous]6yOr maybe he goes to the room, gets the Mirror, and looking into the Mirror to correct himself, draws the circle just right. (Since he does want to be able to make a Philosopher's stone, not just to get one - he wants 'mass-produced immortality'. And he had suggeted to Hermione that magical objects could be used to draw objects more precisely (only they were discussing a different object). And he had already used a supposedly-significant stone in battle in a least-magic-demanding way. And we haven't seen even in Rowling's world that the Mirror can only show 'real-sized things', so it can potentially magnify them.)

What's the deal with spells and age? If Harry is really so far ahead of his class and can already cast spells nobody else can, why is it just now that he can cast "second-year" spells effortlessly?

Canon or not, this reminds me too much of the public school system of a certain country where kids are verboten to use words "they shouldn't know yet".

These seem to be the relevant quotes:

"For some reason or other," said the amused voice of Professor Quirrell, "it seems that the scion of Malfoy is able to cast surprisingly strong magic for a first-year student. Due to the purity of his blood, of course. Certainly the good Lord Malfoy would not have openly flouted the underage magic laws by arranging for his son to receive a wand before his acceptance into Hogwarts."

and

Only there was a reason why they usually didn't bother giving wands to nine-year-olds. Age counted too, it wasn't just how long you'd held a wand. Granger's birthday had been only a few days into the year, when Harry had bought her that pouch. That meant she was twelve now, that she'd been twelve almost since the start of Hogwarts. And the truth was, Draco hadn't been practicing much outside of class, probably not nearly as much as Hermione Granger of Ravenclaw. Draco hadn't thought he needed any more practice to stay ahead...

-both hpmor ch.78

So from this it seems magic power increases with age, spells cast and time since first getting your wand (though the third could simply be due to the second)

So the reason Harry can only just now cast second year spells, is that he has only recently become sufficiently powerful. His partial transfiguration and patronous v2.0 don't actually require a lot of spell power they only require you to do clever things.

I've always modeled it as a physiological "mana capacity" aspect akin to muscle mass -- something that grows both naturally as a developing body matures, and as a result of exercise.

2Skeeve6yI would speculate that there's some physiological component involved in spellcasting ability that grows with age, in much the same way that older children are often more coordinated and stronger than younger children. I have no evidence to back this up other than the repeated mentions of 'age matters with spells', however.
0Lu936yIt is practice. Why is, pardon, why was Hermione so much better in spells then others? Because of practice. Other children do not practice as much as Harry, or as much as Hermione did... It was somewhat suggested in part where Harry and Draco talk about muggle-borns, pure-bloods and magic.
1ChristianKl6yHarry completely started using magic when he went to Hogwarts. If he has basically learned year one and year two in one year I think that's okay. Link?
4knb6yNot a public school, but in 5th grade I wrote a short paper about Ferdinand Magellan and used the word "circumnavigate." My teacher accused me of copying, and I had to rewrite the paper using smaller words.
6polymathwannabe6yThere's a stupid teacher.
3ChristianKl6yIn this case it seems very much like the decision of an individual teacher and not broad educational policy. Every strategy for plagiarism detection is also going to have false positives.
4buybuydandavis6yThe word "circumnavigate" is always used with Magellan - it may as well be his middle name. It's used in the first two sentences on Magellan's page at La Wik. My guess is the teacher didn't know know the word, found out it was a real one, and found it emotionally satisfying to punish a child for assaulting his status by demonstrating his ignorance, however unintentionally. Some people feel very threatened by "big words" they don't know, and see use of language as a status play. Years ago, one guy at work, who I actually consider very sharp, if not educated to the degree his intelligence allowed, stormed off in a huff with a parting shot saying I was "using big words to show I was better than he was." ????? That was a very poor reading of me, but a huge window into his own motivations and insecurities. I think that weirdness is actually common in some poorer and less educated subcultures.
4ChristianKl6yIf the student in question uses the word not because it was in his usual vocabulary but because it appeared in the article about Magellan, the teacher has a valid point. A five grade student who reads an article about Magellan might copy the word without understanding it. A teacher who wants to check whether the students actually understand is going to want that the student expresses his ideas within their own vocabulary and not simply copy words of an article they read. I personally had teachers not understand a point I made because of not understanding that strategy and tactics are two different words with different meaning but I hadn't an issue with teacher complaining that I'm not speaking in my own vocabulary when writing essays.
5knb6yNot really. I'm sure "circumnavigate" wasn't in my usual vocabulary but its meaning is simple enough to determine from context. I don't think its reasonable to penalize someone for using a word they would pretty much have to pick up when learning about a topic.
3Velorien6yThe other thing about this educational strategy is that, all other effects aside, it discourages students from using more sophisticated vocabulary. If you try to use a complicated word and get it wrong, you will be punished. If you get it right but the teacher doesn't believe you did so deliberately, you will also be punished. That's a terrible lesson to teach children (or anyone else).
4buybuydandavis6yOne of the points of being a student is to expand your vocabulary. You see a word used, you use it yourself. "Circumnavigation" is not a complicated concept. If you use it incorrectly, then the teacher should correct you. But don't tell a student to stay away from the big scary word. ??? Words become your vocabulary by you using them, and that's all the more true when you're young and still developing your vocabulary.
3ChristianKl6yThere such a thing as "guessing the teachers" password. It's a failure condition. It's a frequent exercise to read a text and rephrase it in your own words to show that you understood the text. It creates mental connections between the new information to which you are exposed and to what you already know. Essay writing is about "transfer" at least it was what I was taught in school.

Anyone else find the stuff about indifference to be rather deepish? Indifference has no power at all, it's the absence of power.

And now we learn that to cast Avada Kevada, you have to either want the person dead, or not care whether they live or die? So, I guess that means the only condition in which you can't cast is if you want the person to live, in which case you wouldn't want to cast it anyway.

6Velorien6yYou're going to have to define "power" for that statement to be meaningful. I thought the point was that by default, a psychologically healthy human being assigns others' lives a value above zero, even strangers, and for Avada Kedavra you have to either overcome this with hatred (by assigning them a value below zero) or by indifference (by assigning them a value of zero). Both achieve the goal of expressing a preference for death (zero or below) over life (positive value), but the former requires an increasing amount of effort (because you're deliberately making yourself feel something) while the latter is "always on" and theferore doesn't. I still don't see why repeat castings with hatred would require higher amounts of effort each time, but otherwise the concept is not incoherent.
0Philip_W6yThis is weird: In many cases hatred would peter out into indifference, rather than positive value, which ought to make AK easier. In fact, the idea that killing gets easier with time because of building indifference is a recognised trope [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ItGetsEasier]. It's even weirder that the next few paragraphs are an author tract on how baseline humans let people die out of apathy all the time, so it's not like Yudkowski is unfamiliar with the ease with which people kill.
075th6yPerhaps, but this is not likely to happen in the middle of a battle where you're trying to kill each other. And even if you felt indifference, you would still have to think of trying to cast Avada Kedavra from your indifference, not from your hate, which is how you learned to cast AK in the first place and never questioned. You would have to force a new mindset of calm emptiness upon yourself, which would take practice. Even the worst Death Eaters are not likely to have taken an analytical approach to battle, realized the possibility, and then practiced killing people in their spare time with indifference to make sure it was reliable in the (other guy's) heat of the moment.
0gjm6yTypo for "derpish"? Reference to the notion of deepities [http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Deepity]? Something else? (I'm guessing the second of those.)
0ThisSpaceAvailable6yYou are correct in thinking it is the latter.

The burning sensation was back in Harry's throat. "No continuity of -" there wasn't a snake word for consciousness "- sself, you would go on thinking after making the horcrux, then sself with new memoriess diess and iss not resstored -"

That's an interesting reflection of our recent discussion about the value of the term consciousness (http://lesswrong.com/lw/ki1/confused_as_to_usefulness_of_consciousness_as_a/) and how some languages probably don't have it.

1Sophronius6yYea, I was quite surprised to find that Quirrell believes in continuity of consciousness as being a fundamental problem, since it really is just an illusion to begin with (though you could argue the illusion itself is worthwhile). Surely you could just kill yourself the moment your horcrux does its job if you're worried about your other self living on? But maybe he doesn't know that scientifically there's no such thing as identity. Or maybe he's lying. Personally, I would be MUCH more concerned about the fact that the horcrux implants memories, but does not replace personality. But for some reason Quirrel does not mention that as the obvious drawback. (I was also surprised that Eliezer seems to buy in the obviously false notion that "the opposite of love is indifference")
2Viliam_Bur6yPerhaps the word "opposite" is not the best one, but I think it's about this: in some metric, loving people and hating people is closer to each other than either of them is to the paperclip maximizer's attitude towards humans. In HPMOR universe, a magical paperclip maximizer could shoot AK like a machine gun. Instead of replacing one emotion with another emotion, it's replacing one emotion with an absence of an emotion. Instinctively, people sometimes prefer to be hated than to be ignored. For example, children trying to draw attention to themselves by behaving badly. There is some "recognition" in hate, that indifference lacks.
0[anonymous]6yRelevant. [http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/01/misperceptions-on-moloch/#comment-129357]
1Velorien6yPlease warn when you are linking to a post with an unmarked major spoiler for another novel (or two).
2ChristianKl6yWhat do you mean with the term "scientifically" in that sentence? If I put identity into Google Scholar I'm fairly sure I fill find a bunch of papers in respectable scientific journals that use the term. "Obviously" is a fairly strong word. It makes some sense to label the negation of any emotion a emotionless state. Unfriendly AI doesn't hate humans but is indifferent.
2Sophronius6yI mean that if you have two carbon atoms floating around in the universe, and the next instance you swap their locations but keep everything else the same, there is no scientific way in which you could say that anything has changed. Combine this with humans being just a collection of atoms, and you have no meaningful way to say that an identical copy of you is "not really you". Also, 'continuity of consciousness' is just a specific sensation that this specific clump of atoms has at each point in time, except for all the times when it does not exist because the clump is 'sleeping'. So Quirrel's objection seems to have no merit (could be I'm missing something though). Yes, there is an insight to be had there, I will acknowledge that much. However, to say that the opposite of a friendly AI is a paper clip maximiser is stupid. The opposite of an AI which wants to help you is very obviously an AI which wants to hurt you. Which is why the whole "AK version 2 riddle" just doesn't work. The Patronus goes from "not thinking about death" (version 1) to "Valuing life over death" (version 2). The killing curse goes from "valuing death over life" (version 1) to "not caring about life" (version 2). You can visualise the whole thing as a line measuring just the one integer, namely "life-death preference": Value death over life (-1) ---- don't think about it either way (0) ----- Value life over death (+1) The patronus gets a boost by moving from 0 to +1. The killing curse gets a boost by moving from -1 to 0. That makes no sense. Why would the killing curse, which is powered by the exact opposite of the patronus, receive a boost in power by moving in the same direct as the Patronus which values life over death? Only fake wisdom can get ridiculous results like this.
2Nornagest6yI parsed it as follows: the Killing Curse isn't powered by death in the same way that the Patronus draws power from life, but it does require the caster not to value the life of an opponent. Hatred enables this, but it's limited: it has to be intense, sustained hatred, and probably only hatred of a certain kind, since it takes some doing for neurologically typical humans to hate someone enough to literally want them dead. Indifference to life works just as well and lacks the limitations, but that's probably an option generally available only to, shall we say, a certain unusual personality type. Ideology might interact with this in interesting ways, though. I don't know whether Death Eaters would count as being motivated by hate or indifference by the standards of the spell; my model of J.K. Rowling says "hate", while my model of Eliezer says "indifference".
0Sophronius6yYes, that ideology is precisely what bothers me. Eliezer has a bone to pick with death so he declares death to be the ultimate enemy. Dementors now represent death instead of depression, patronus now uses life magic, and a spell that is based on hate is now based on emptiness. It's all twisted to make it fit the theme, and it feels forced. Especially when there's a riddle and the answer is 'Eliezer's password'.
-1hairyfigment6yI don't know if MoR influenced the movies, but Deathly Hallows 1 or 2 showed an image of Death looking like the movie's image of Dementors. It seems to me like a natural inference.
1Velorien6yIsn't that because the only static element of a dementor's appearance is its black, concealing cloak, and that overlaps neatly with the Grim Reaper portrayal of death?
0hairyfigment6yYou say that like Rowling had no choice but to use this well-known image for Dementors. Also, they're supposed to look somewhat like corpses underneath.
0Velorien6yI increasingly feel like I've lost track of what you're trying to argue here. Would you mind recapitulating it for me?
0hairyfigment6yWhat are you trying to argue in the great-grandparent? What am I supposed to take from the black cloaks, aside from the fact that it makes Dementors look like Death? I can imagine that perhaps Rowling chose this appearance because it allowed a frightening reveal later on. But that reveal uses the words "rotting", "death" and "deathly". On our first sight of a Dementor she also compares it to something "dead" and "decayed". She did this because fear of death seems near as universal as you can get. Dementors' most feared ability, destruction of the soul, has the same explanation. The parallels that MoR!Harry sees are real, and they exist because death is (widely held to be) bad.
1major6y"don't think about it either way" does not necessarily mean indifference, it means reverting to default behaviour. Humans are (mostly) pro-social animals with empathy and would not crush another human who just happens to be in their way - in that they differ from a falling rock. In fact, that's the point of hate, it overrides the built-in safeguards to allow for harmful action. According to this view, to genuinely not give a damn about someone's life is a step further. Obviously. The thing about built-in default behaviour given by evolution is that it will not trigger in some cases. Rationality and the English Language [http://lesswrong.com/lw/jc/rationality_and_the_english_language/] or HPMoR Ch.48 or HPMoR Ch.87 My point with that is, it's completely in line with what Eliezer usually talks about, so you know it's a perspective he holds, not just rationalization. For completeness' sake, still feels off. Oh, wait, I know! Maybe Harry is being Stupid here. Or Eliezer is being a Bad Writer. Again.
0[anonymous]6yYes you are missing a few things. 1) Saying you can't tell after the fact whether something occured is not the same as saying it never occured. The fact that we can't experimentally determine if two carbon atoms have distinct identity is not, repeat not the same as saying that they don't have separate identity. Maybe they do. You just can't tell. 2) That has nothing to do with continuity of consciousness. Assume the existence of a perfect matter replicator. What do you expect to happen when you make a copy of yourself? Do you expect to suddenly find yourself inside of the copy? Let's say that regardless of what you expect at that point, you end up in your same body as before, the old one not the new one. What do you expect to experience then, if you killed yourself? This has nothing, nothing to do with statements about quantum identity and equivalence of configuration spaces. It is about separating the concept of a representation of me, from an instance of that representation which is me. I expect to experience only what the instance of the representation which is currently typing this words will experience as it evolves into the future. If an exact copy of me was made at any time, that'd be pretty awesome. It'd be like having a truly identical twin. But it wouldn't me me, and if this instance died, I wouldn't expect to live on experiencing what the copy of me experiences. 3) Sleeping is a total non-sequiter. Do you expect that your brain is 100% shut off and disarticulated into individual neurons when you are in a sleeping state? No? That's right -- just because you don't have memories, doesn't mean you didn't exist while sleep. You just didn't form memories at the time.
1Sophronius6y1) As far as I understand it, atoms don't have a specific 'location', there are only probabilities for where that atom might be at any given time. Given that it is silly to speak of individual atoms. Even if I misunderstood that part, it is still the case that two entities which have no discernible difference in principle are the same, as a matter of simple logic. 2) Asking "which body do you wake up in" is a wrong question. It is meaningless because there is no testable difference depending on your answer, it is not falsifiable even in principle. The simple fact is that if you copy Sophronius, you then have 2 Sophronius waking up later, each experiencing the sensation of being the original. Asking whose sensation is "real" is meaningless. 3) It is not a non-sequitur. Sleep interrupts your continuity of self. Therefore, if your existence depends on uninterrupted continuity of self, sleep would mean you die every night. I notice that you keep using concepts like "you", "I" and "self" in your defence of a unique identity. I suggest you try removing those concepts or any other that presupposes unique identity. If you cannot do that then you are simply begging the question.
1[anonymous]6yWell... [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ph/can_you_prove_two_particles_are_identical/]
0[anonymous]6yThe linked article by Elizer Yudkowsky is straight up wrong for the following reasons: (1) Eliezer's understanding of the physics here is bunk. I'm actually a trained physist. He is not. But bonus points to you if you reject this argument because you shouldn't accept my authority any more than you should accept his. I assume you read Griffiths' Quantum Mechanics or a similar introductory book and came to your own conclusions? (2) Specifically the experimental result Eliezer quotes has to do with how we calculate probabilities for quantum mechanical events. There are an infinitely many ways one could calculate probabilities -- math describes the universe, it doesn't constrain it. But if you do so naively, you end up with one answer if you treat "P1 at L1, P2 at L2" as a different state than "P1 at L2, P2 at L1" than if you treat them as the same state. Experimental results show that the latter probabilities are correct. One interpretation is that P1 and P2 are the same particle, so the state is "P at L1, P at L2". That's one interpretation. Another perfectly valid interpretation is that "Particle of type at L1, Particle of type at L2" is the actual state -- that is to say that the particles keep their identity but identity doesn't factor into the probabalistic calculus. That's why the term used by phsyisits is distinguishable rather than identity. These particles are indistinguishable, but that does not mean they are identical. That would be an unwaranted inference. (3) All of that is a moot point, because it doesn't match up at all with what we are talking about: the continuity of self as it relates to human minds. Calculating probabilities about particles in boxes tells us nothing about whether I would expect to wake up in a computer after a destructive upload, or how that relates to a personal desire to cheat death. I don't care about the particles making up my mind: I care about sustaining the never stopping information processing system which gives rise
0[anonymous]6yFWIW, I have a master's degree in physics and I'm working to get a PhD (though in a subfield not closely related to the basics of QM; I'd trust say Scott Aaronson over myself even though he's not a physicist). What do you mean by identity?
0[anonymous]6yAwesome. Please forgive my undeserved snark. Honestly I'm not sure. I only envoke the concept of identity in response to nonsense arguments appearing on LessWrong [http://lesswrong.com/lw/qx/timeless_identity/]. Normally when I say 'identity' i mean the concept of 'self' which is the whatever-it-is which experiences my perceptions, thoughts, inner monologues, etc, or whatever it is that gives rise to the experience of me. How this relates to distinguishability of particles in quantum mechanics, I don't know.. which is kinda the point. When calculating probabilities, you treat two states as the same if they are indistinguishable ... how this gets warped into explaining what I'd expect to experience while undergoing a destructive upload is beyond me.
0hairyfigment6yOr not. Memories are genuinely lost, if someone makes a Horcrux and then dies some years later. Moreover, according to the Defense Professor in snake form, the maker's personality could also change due to influence from the (two) victim(s). The result need not act like the maker at time of casting would act if placed in a new environment. See also major's point [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/km5/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/b6ef] .
0DanArmak6yWhat would be the point? The goal of the horcrux isn't to transfer into another body you like better than your current one, it's to be a backup against accidentally dying.
0[anonymous]6yIt's not at all obvious that continuity of consciousness is an illusion. If you have a real proof of that I'd love to hear it.
0drethelin6yThe continuity of consciousness is one thing but the horcrux doesn't even give continuity of KNOWLEDGE thanks to merlin
1Sophronius6yThat's not an issue when it comes to acquiring immortality though. I mean, if you lost all knowledge of algebra, would you say that means you "died"?
1drethelin6yDid you not read that section at all? If you lose all knowledge of powerful spellcasting, a) you lose your ability to continue to be immortal after this iteration, b) you lose your ability to defend yourself against enemies who haven't lost their ability to cast interdicted spells. The second one is really important when the process for immortality is one that inherently makes a lot of enemies! He specifically mentioned that dark wizards that tried use that technique to come back were easily defeated afterward.
2Sophronius6yThat's irrelevant when you're considering whether or not to use the horcrux at all and the alternative is being dead.
0drethelin6yIf you're on your deathbed, sure. But Horcruxing is not costless. If you have a significant projected lifespan left, and you want ACTUAL immortality, your odds are probably better NOT doing a risky dark ritual that also encourages people to come and kill you.
1gwern6yCould that explain why Hat&Cloak seems to be a clever manipulator who works in utmost secrecy? (They really are weak, and survive only by hiding in the shadows.) We never see them indicated as using anything more complex than an Obliviate or disguise spell, AFAIK, which any reasonably competent adult wizard would be able to pull off.
0hairyfigment6yThis seems a big part of why I don't think Baba Yaga is still alive. The best in-story reason I can think of to consider the theory at all lies in the idea that (if Horcruxes are easier to make than I thought) some Dark figure of legend should still be alive. This argument seems weak if the spell doesn't give you much advantage. Also, Quirrell's claim here fits what we know about the Interdict. (I guess the question is whether the Horcrux spell falls under the Interdict!)
1Velorien6yChapter 39:
0hairyfigment6yYes, but Dumbledore probably can't create an Horcrux. The Defense Professor claims the known description is wrong, which could make the theft a piece of misdirection. This is another possible way around the Interdict; publish a fake version of the spell which hints at the truth.
0Velorien6yInsofar as it is at all meaningful to consider feelings to have opposites, what would you present as the correct alternative?
1Sophronius6yIt is a wrong question, because reality is never that simple and clear cut and no rationalist should expect it to be. And as with all wrong questions, the thing you should do to resolve the confusion is to take a step back and ask yourself what is actually happening in factual terms: A more accurate way to describe emotion, much like personality, is in terms of multiple dimensions. One dimension is intensity of emotion. Another dimension is the type of experience it offers. Love and hate both have strong intensity and in that sense they are similar, but they are totally opposite in the way they make you feel. They are also totally opposite in terms of the effect it has on your preferences: Thinking well vs. thinking poorly of someone (ignoring the fact that there are multiple types of hate and love, and the 9999 other added complexities). Ordinary people notice that hate and love are totally the opposite in several meaningful ways, and say as much. Then along comes a contrarian who wants to show how clever he is, and he picks up on the one way that love and hate are similar and which can make them go well together: The intensity of emotion towards someone or something. And so the contrarian states that really love and hate are the same and indifference is the opposite of both (somehow), which can cause people who aren't any good at mapping complex subjects along multiple axi in their head to throw out their useful heuristic and award status to the contrarian for his fake wisdom. I'm a bit disappointed that Eliezer fell for the number one danger of rationalists everywhere: Too much eagerness to throw out common sense in favour of cleverness. (Eliezer if you are reading this: You are awesome and HPMOR is awesome. Please keep writing it and don't get discouraged by this criticism)
2Velorien6yI'm surprised how strongly you're reacting to this, given that you seem to be aware that the whole "emotions having opposites" system is really just a word game anyway. Why is it important that you prioritise the "effect on preferences" axis and Eliezer prioritises the "intensity" axis, except insofar as it is a bit embarrassing to see an intelligent person presenting one of these as wisdom? Perhaps Eliezer simply considers apathy to be a more dangerous affliction than hatred, and is thus trying to shift his readers' priorities accordingly. Insofar as there are far more people in the world moved to inaction through apathy than there are people moved to wrong action through hatred, perhaps there's something to that.
2Sophronius6yHm, I didn't think I was reacting that strongly... If I was, it's probably because I am frustrated in general by people's inability to just take a step back and look at an issue for what it actually is, instead of superimposing their own favourite views on top of reality. I remember I recently got frustrated by some of the most rational people I know claiming that sun burn was caused by literal heat from the sun instead of UV light. Once they formed the hypothesis, they could only look at the issue through the 'eyes' of that view. And I see the same mistake made on Less Wrong all the time. I guess it's just frustrating to see EY do the same thing. I don't get why everyone, even practising rationalists, find this most elementary skill so hard to master.
2Velorien6yCould you describe this skill in more detail please? If it is one I do not possess, I would like to learn.
3Sophronius6yYour attitude makes me happy, thank you. :) It's the most basic rationalist skill there is, in my opinion, but for some reason it's not much talked about here. I call it "thinking like the universe" as opposed to "thinking like a human". It means you remove yourself from the picture, you forget all about your favourite views and you stop caring about the implications of your answer since those should not impact the truth of the matter, and describe the situation in purely factual terms. You don't follow any specific chain of logic towards finding an answer: You instead allow the answer to naturally flow from the facts. It means you don't ask "which facts argue in favour of my view and which against?", but "what are the facts?" It means you don't ask "What is my hypothesis?", you ask "which hypotheses flow naturally from the facts?" It means you don't ask "What do I believe?" but "what would an intelligent person believe given these facts?" It means you don't ask "which hypothesis do I believe is true?", but "how does the probability mass naturally divide itself over competing hypotheses based on the evidence?" It means you don't ask "How can I test this hypothesis?" but "Which test would maximally distinguish between competing hypotheses?" It means you never ever ask who has the "burden of proof". And so on and so forth. I see it as the most fundamental skill because it allows you to ask the right questions, and if you start with the wrong question it really doesn't matter what you do with it afterwards.
1Velorien6yI think I understand now, thank you. Do you follow any specific practices in order to internalise this approach, or do you simply endeavour to apply it whenever you remember?
4Sophronius6yThe primary thing I seem to do is to remind myself to care about the right things. I am irrelevant. My emotions are irrelevant. Truth is not influenced by what I want to be true. I am frequently amazed by the degree with which my emotions are influenced by subconscious beliefs. For example I notice that the people who make me most angry when they're irrational are the ones I respect the most. People who get offended usually believe at some level that they are entitled to being offended. People who are bad at getting to the truth of a matter usually care more about how they feel than about what is actually true. (This is related to the fundamental optimization problem: The truth will always sound less truthful than the most truthful sounding falsehood.) Noticing that kind of thing is often more effective than trying to control emotions the hard way. Secondly, you want to pay attention to your thoughts as much as possible. This is just meditation, really. If you become conscious of your thoughts, you gain a degree of control over them. Notice what you think, when you think it, and why. If a question makes you angry, don't just suppress the anger, ask yourself why. For the rest it's just about cultivating a habit of asking the right questions. Never ask yourself what you think, since the universe doesn't care what you think. Instead say "Velorien believes X: How much does this increase the probability of X?". Bertrand Russel gets it right, of course [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PT90dAA49Q]
1Velorien6yThis needs to be on posters and T-shirts if it isn't already. Is it a well-known principle? Thank you for the explanation. This overall idea (of the relationship between belief and reality, and the fact that it only goes one way) is in itself not new to me, but your perspective on it is, and I hope it will help me develop my ability to think objectively. Also thanks for the music video. Shame I can't upvote you multiple times.
2Sophronius6ySadly not. I keep meaning to post an article about this, but it's really hard to write an article about a complex subject in such a way that people really get it (especially if the reader has little patience/charity), so I keep putting it off until I have the time to make it perfect. I have some time this weekend though, so maybe... I think the Fundamental Optimization Problem is the biggest problem humanity has right now and it explains everything that's wrong with society: It represents the fact that doing what's good will always feel less good than doing what feels good, people who optimize for altruism will always be seen as more selfish than people who optimize for being seen as altruistic, the people who get in power will always be the ones whose skills are optimized for getting in power and not for knowing what to do once they get there, and people who yell about truth the most are the biggest liars. It's also why "no good deed goes unpunished". Despite what Yoda claims, the dark side really is stronger. Unfortunately there's no good post about this on LW AFAIK, but Yvain's post about Moloch [http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/] is related and is really good (and really long). Aww shucks. ^_^
1Lumifer6yI think that people who fully possess such a skill are usually described as "have achieved enlightenment" and, um, are rare :-) The skill doesn't look "elementary" to me.
2Sophronius6yHeheh, fair point. I guess a better way of putting it is that people fail to even bother to try this in the first place, or heck even acknowledge that this is important to begin with. I cannot count the number of times I see someone try to answer a question by coming up with an explanation and then defending it, and utterly failing to graps that that's not how you answer a question. (In fact, I may be misremembering but I think you do this a lot, Lumifer.)
0Lumifer6yThe appropriateness of that probably depends on what kind of question it is... I think my hackles got raised by the claim that your perception is "what it actually is" -- and that's a remarkably strong claim. It probably works better phrased like something along the lines of "trying to take your ego and preconceived notions out of the picture". Any links to egregious examples? :-)
2Sophronius6yI guess it is slightly more acceptable if it's a binary question. But even so it's terrible epistimology, since you are giving undue attention to a hypothesis just because it's the first one you came up with. An equally awful method of doing things: Reading through someone's post and trying to find anything wrong with it. If you find anything --> post criticism, if you don't find anything --> accept conclusion. It's SOP even on Less Wrong, and it's not totally stupid but it's really not what rationalists are supposed to do. Yes, that is a big part of it, but it's more than that. It means you stop seeing things from one specific point of view. Think of how confused people get about issues like free will. Only once you stop thinking about the issue from the perspective of an agent and ask what is actually happening from the perspective of the universe can you resolve the confusion. Or, if you want to see some great examples of people who get this wrong all the time, go to the James Randi forums. There's a whole host of people there who will say things during discussions like "Well it's your claim so you have the burden of proof. I am perfectly happy to change my mind if you show me proof that I'm wrong." and who think that this makes them rationalists. Good grief. I have spent some time going through your posts but I couldn't really find any egregious examples. Maybe I got you confused with someone else. I did notice that where politics were involved you're overly prone to talking about "the left" even though the universe does not think in terms of "left" or "right". But of course that's not exactly unique to you. One other instance I found: It's not a huge deal but I personally would not classify ideas as belonging to people, for the reasons described earlier.
0gjm6yIn principle I agree with you. In practice I think "X has the burden of proof" generally means something similar to "The position X is advancing has a rather low prior probability, so substantial evidence would be needed to make it credible, and in particular if X wants us to believe it then s/he would be well advised to offer substantial evidence." Which, yes, involves confusion between an idea and the people who hold it, and might encourage an argument-as-conflict view of things that can work out really badly -- but it's still a convenient short phrase, reasonably well understood by many people, that (fuzzily) denotes something it's often useful to say. So, yeah, issuing such challenges in such terms is a sign of imperfect enlightenment and certainly doesn't make the one who does it a rationalist in any useful sense. But I don't see it as such a bad sign as I think you do.
0Sophronius6yYea, the concept of burden of proof can be a useful social convention, but that's all it is. The thing is that taking a sceptical position and waiting for someone to proof you wrong is the opposite of what a sceptic should do. If you ever see two 'sceptics' both taking turns postinf 'you have the burden of proof', 'no you have the burden of proof!'... You'll see what i mean. Actual rationality isn't supposed to be easy.
0Lumifer6yNo, that's not what I had in mind. For example, there are questions which explicitly ask for an explanation and answering them with an explanation is fine. Or, say, there are questions which are wrong (as a question) so you answer them with an explanation of why they don't make sense. I don't think you can. Or, rather, I think you can see things from multiple specific point of views, but you cannot see them without any point of view. Yes, I understand you talk about looking at things "from the perspective of the universe" but this expression is meaningless to me. That may or may not be a reasonable position to take. Let me illustrate how it can be reasonable: people often talk in shortcuts. The sentence quoted could be a shortcut expression for "I have evaluated the evidence for and against X and have come to the conclusion Y. You are claiming that Y is wrong, but your claim by itself is not evidence. Please provide me with actual evidence and then I will update my beliefs". But humans do and I'm talking to humans, not to the universe. A more general point -- you said in another post This is true when you are evaluating the physical reality. But it is NOT true when you are evaluating the social reality -- it IS influenced by emotions and what people want to be true. I don't quite understand you here.
1Velorien6yI suppose "elementary" in the sense of "fundamental" or "simple" or "not relying on other skills before you can learn it", rather than in the sense of "easy" or "widespread". Contrast literacy. Being to read and write one's own language is elementary. It can be grasped by a small child, and has no prerequisites other than vision, reasonable motor control and not having certain specific brain dysfunctions. Yet one does not have to cast one's mind that far back through history to reach the days in which this skill was reserved for an educated minority, and most people managed to live their whole lives without picking it up.

This problem could be fixed, in principle:

Merlin'ss Interdict preventss powerful sspells from passing through ssuch a device, ssince it iss not truly alive. Dark Wizardss who think to return thuss are weaker, eassily disspatched.

You need two cooperating Dark Wizards. (I know, much easier said than done.) They share knowledge of all spells. One of them makes a horcrux, the other teaches him all the spells again. Then the other makes a horcrux, and the former teaches him.

Or maybe you just need one Dark Wizard, and one loyal servant, willing to make the U... (read more)

2Velorien6yBellatrix?
1buybuydandavis6yOr Quirrell focuses Quirrell's death burst into Harry? Harry think's he's gaining knowledge, but it's actually Quirrell uploading into Harry and taking over.

Rereading chapter 100 reminds me of the Twilight Sparkle lookalike among the unicorns.

it added nothing but confusion and awkwardness. If it were cut, no one who hadn't been told would ever realize that something had once been there. And now with this chapter we've got some pretty good confirmation that they're not sapient, so any inferences one might have drawn from it were false.

9Azathoth1236yI was under the impression the unicorn was Alicorn's cameo. Alicorn asked for a cameo as a unicorn, Eliezer agreed and even promised to make it plot relevant. I'm not sure what actually happened was quite what Alicorn had in mind.
1philh6yThere were two, one was Alicorn and the other was Twilight Sparkle (unnamed).

As horcruxes were explained they are quite substantial evidence that quirrel is not voldermort.

If voldermort could use them then he would take over world in year, He would first kidnap two wizards to make copy of himself which would be loyal to him and would quickly relearn all spells and kindap four other wizards and grow exponentially.

So likely explanation is as Quirrel said personality is completely different and after first forking to quirrel decided to fight voldermort and they do not try copy himself again.

1Velorien6yWhy would Voldemort's copies be loyal to him? If they share Voldemort's personality, then they also share his desire to dominate, and the original was never known for willingness to share power.

I think quirrel is Harry from the future. Harry decided not to mess with time until he's older, but maybe once he's older he realized that he can break the time travel restriction rules and travel years into the past. This could possibly explain why quirrel knows so much about Harry. It also explains their magic interaction possibly. This would also explain how quirrel is so rational, whereas it would be surprising that Harry would randomly run into someone as rational as himself in the small number of people he's met in the wizarding world. Quirrel could'... (read more)

0avichapman6yQuirrel had a very low opinion of science and didn't seem to appreciate the power it confers until the most recent chapter - which doesn't gel well with what we know of Harry. Of course, future-harry could be lying about that when interacting with his past self, but that would require a complexity penalty against the hypothesis.

Hypothesis: Harry lives in a close to post-singularity universe. The source of magic is a boxed AI, created by the Atlanteans and Harry himself.

Currently, the boxed AI can be manipulated by means of spells, potions and rituals and is acting as a limited outcome pump. Harry, in his quest to end death, will release the AI from the box, thus bringing about a true singularity end state and the foretold end of the universe as we know it.

The method through which Harry will achieve this (releasing the boxed AI while simultaneously being partly responsible for i... (read more)

075th6ySo your hypothesis is that Harry will win by doing the thing he already tried and failed to do, and got a stern warning from the Universe for trying. The one thing that he can't do, that's the thing he'll do. Okay, except you've not done the work. If Eliezer puts a huge road block in front of an obvious solution to the story — "NOPE, can't do that, sorry" — and your hypothesis is "No he'll do it anyway", then the actual work is not just saying he'll do it (since the story explicitly states the insane power Harry would have if it did work; it's not like that's a big discovery itself) but rather saying how we get from our current state of impossibility to the state where Harry pulls it off. "If Harry can figure out how to bypass the limitations of the time turner" — that dismissive 'If' is the entire problem you should be trying to solve.

There is speculation that the philosopher's stone is a device that makes transfiguration permanent.

We know that there is a prophesy that someone, probably Harry, will destroy the stars.

I'm not a physicist, but... is there any chance that Harry could transfigure some sort of exotic matter that could collapse the quantum vacuum or otherwise destroy stars without requiring an interstellar spaceship?

1shminux6yIf Eliezer actually picked that route then it is likely to be something like a UFAI consuming the universe to build magic paperclips. I don't see it as likely, though. An ex-physicist here. Well, certainly the usual relativistic QM predicts that there is no lowest energy level (and so, no vacuum), so you can keep extracting energy forever. Even in QFT it takes some effort to get rid of the negative energy states, and as a result you end up with infinite vacuum energy. So destroying vacuum certainly would be a lesser violation of physics than time-turners, which are basically ruled out by the classical general relativity. That said, I expect Eliezer to have come up with something more mind-blowing than vacuum-blowing.
0skeptical_lurker6yApparently word of god is that there is going to be no AI. I think it likely that there will be a happy ending, but that 'destroying the stars' will resolve itself into a concrete threat. Somehow 'Epilogue: than over the next few billion years superintelligent Harry turned stars into computronium' seems a little unsatisfactory. I dunno, vacuum-blowing seems reasonably mind-blowing to me. Do you have any alternative theories?
075th6yI was thinking about this recently, and I realized that maybe it should be kind of obvious why he doesn't usually do fiction about AI: because (he believes, at least, that) the first strong AI is either an instant win condition or instant failure condition for the entire universe, and neither immutable utopia nor irrecoverable catastrophe make for very interesting stories. So anything interesting or uncertain or suspenseful about AI has to be written about disguised as other topics, where things can go wrong but then realistically be set right.
0skeptical_lurker6yAI is not an instant-win condition, but it would be fairly quick. There could be drama with the AI trying to develop nanotech, (running up against physical speed constraints rather than mental) before some sort of disaster hits, although this does remove agency from the humans who would mostly be following the AI's commands. I think AI can still be part of a story, provided it's kept towards the final chapter. Developing true self-improving superhuman AI is rather like throwing the ring into Mt Doom - all that remains it to crown the king, mourn the (non-recoverable) dead, and write that everyone lived happily ever after. Apologies for the self-obsessed diversion, but this is on topic: I'm writing a story which involves not AI but recursively self-improving IA, and I'm beginning to think that this might have been a bad idea for this sort of reason. In my story the situation is somewhat improved by the presence of a good reason why multiple entities begin self-improvement at approximately the same time, which means that conflicts remain. I can't write superintelligent dialogue, but I've handwaved this as saying that most of the character's mental energy is going towards other activities, leaving their verbal IQ within normal human ranges. The remaining problem is that the other characters become rapidly sidelined.

Just a silly idea: Is there a relationship between Philosopher Stone and Philosophical Zombie?

Perhaps the Stone can provide immortality in combination with Horcrux. Step 1: use Philosopher Stone to remove the victim's qualia, changing them into a Philosphical Zombie. Step 2: use Horcrux to copy yourself into the victim's body. Now your qualia will not mix with their, so the new person is definitely you.

2DanArmak6yDumbledore: Harry, you must not use the Philosopher's stone! It grants you immortality, but it destroys your soul, turning you into a philosophical zombie! Harry: souls don't exist, you idiot! pushes button
0Velorien6yIt seems at odds with the references to an "elixir of life", which is supposed to provide the user with immortality without use of Dark rituals, and also does not connote deadly poison the way your idea does.
[-][anonymous]6y 0

I go camping for a weekend and HUGE PLOT STUFF happens. Brain dump of how this chapter affects my pet predictions.

Mr. Hat & Cloak is Baba Yaga

If I didn't have self-monitoring against becoming a quack, I would have great confidence in this theory. My state of cognitive dissonance remains unchanged.

Mr. Hat & Cloak is Nicholas Flamel

From 102:

Sstone's ssuppossed maker wass not one who made it. One who holdss it now, wass not born to name now ussed.

Best guess: the person who holds the stone now (Baba Yaga) not born to the name now used (Nicholas ... (read more)

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[-][anonymous]6y 0

I go camping for a weekend and HUGE PLOT STUFF happens. Brain dump of how this affects my pet predictions.

Mr. Hat & Cloak is Baba Yaga

If I didn't have self-monitoring against becoming a quack, I would have great confidence in this theory. My state of cognitive dissonance is roughly unchanged.

Mr. Hat & Cloak is Nicholas Flamel

From 102:

Sstone's ssuppossed maker wass not one who made it. One who holdss it now, wass not born to name now ussed.

Best guess: the person who holds the stone now (Baba Yaga) not born to the name now used (Nicholas Flame... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Something I haven't heard discussed elsewhere:

Merlin created the Interdict because he believed, based on prophecy, that this would prevent the otherwise inevitable end of the world and its magic.

If resolved!Harry is "the end of the world", as per Trelawney's prophecy, then whatever he is going to do must therefore involve bypassing the Interdict of Merlin.

The only way we presently know to do that is Salazar's basilisk-transmitted lore, which is now probably only available via Quirrell (assuming he is Tom Riddle and Tom Riddle was the Heir of Slyt... (read more)

175th6yHe hoped it would, but he didn't live to ask the remaining seers if it actually worked. This doesn't really make sense, or is irrelevant, or is sort of a tautology, or something. The Interdict of Merlin is not a magical universe-saving spell. If it were, as you sort of imply, then you would basically be saying "If Harry can destroy the universe, then it follows that he will not not be able to destroy the universe". But the Interdict is not that, nor does it limit what magic a person can use; it simply limits the transfer of the most powerful magics to only occur between two living minds. Merlin hoped that would be enough to save the universe because he counted on magical knowledge waning permanently. Patently and obviously false. We've known since Chapter 77 that Nicolas Flamel has a whole bunch of knowledge he might someday share, and the whole point of Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres since Chapter 28 is that he can figure out magic that's long-lost or never-known. And the Interdict imposes no limitation on figuring out powerful magic on your own.
0DanArmak6ySalazar lived after Merlin, so while he definitely knew very powerful magic, it wasn't pre-Interdict game-breaking powerful. If it had been, then he or one of his heirs would have broken the universe by now. Quirrel is terrified of Harry destroying the stars; he will not teach him any magic which he imagines could be used towards that end. That may even be the reason he has, as he said, changed his mind about teaching Harry any magical secrets.
175th6yDefinitely this.