The new thread, discussion 13, is here.
This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. With three chapters recently the previous thread has very quickly reached 1000 comments. The latest chapter as of 25th March 2012 is Ch 80.
There is now a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author's Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.)
The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag. Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system. Also: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.
As a reminder, it's often useful to start your comment by indicating which chapter you are commenting on.
Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:
You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).
If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it's fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that "Eliezer said X is true" unless you use rot13.
I do not lie to my readers.
Almost everything in MoR is generated by the underlying facts of the story. Sometimes it is generated by humor (I can't realistically claim that Ch. 5 would have comic timing that precise in a purely natural universe). Nothing is generated to deliberately fool the readers.
There are two exceptions to this claim I can readily recall - cases where red herrings made it into the text - and they occur in Ch. 21 where my phrasing of Dumbledore's note to Harry was influenced to be overly compatible with the fan theory (which took me quite by surprise) that the notes were sent by Sirius Black. And in Ch. 77 when Mr. Hat and Cloak says "Time -", which was generated to be compatible with the postulate of a Peggy Sue. I may go back and eliminate both of these at some point to make the text herring-free.
Methods of Rationality is a rationalist story. Your job is to outwit the universe, not the author. There are also cases where people have scored additional points by successful literary analysis, e.g. Checkov's Gun principles. But the author is not your enemy here, and the facts aren't lies.
Of course there are various characters running deceptions and masquerades, but that is quite a different matter.
Re-posting it so you see it in the inbox:
Eliezer, could you please confirm / deny / decline to answer whether the fic is past its halfway point? Anubhav and I have a persistent memory that you did at one point state that it was, but I can't find that statement so I'm wondering if I just crossed a couple of brain-wires.
It's past the halfway point.
For purely selfish reasons I hope it's in the "first 80% done, second 80% being worked on" sense.
For purely selfish reasons I'm ambivalent. I like fanfiction as much as the next guy but kind of wouldn't mind it if Eliezer spent his efforts trying to save the world. ;)
As long as HP:MoR remains unfinished, thousands of people who could be helping Eliezer build a Friendly AI are instead sitting by their web browsers, repeatedly pressing Ctrl+R.
Finishing HP:MoR is the necessary first step towards Singularity.
The thing is, I know he can do the fanfic. I seriously doubt he can save the world.
Having a few very minor read herrings is a generally accepted part of literature as long as they aren't extremely deceptive. In this context, both of the two seem minor enough to be fair.
I'm guessing the large amount of very low probability ideas for Harry's solution in the next chapter.
No, because unlike certain TV shows you the reader will hold him accountable afterwards.
Quirrellmort intends to upload his mind into Harry's body soon, as soon as Harry is Dark enough. Voldemort will become the Boy-Who-Lived. And Quirrellmort wants or needs this to happen within the next few months.
If Quirrellmort were only after the Philosopher's Stone and training Harry for a long career, he'd keep his own cover intact as long as he could. Instead, over the last few story months, Quirrellmort has cheerfully all but ruined his cover in favor of giving Harry chances to turn Dark.
This may be Quirrell's plan, even if Eliezer intends for Harry to defeat it in some way.
When Quirrel wrote his list, do you think it included "do not let your plots be too mundane," or the reverse?
Not HPMOR talk, just a suggestion for these discussion threads:
I think that it would make far more sense to start a new thread after every new update rather than when they reach a certain number of comments. New people starting in this thread will miss a lot of good ideas posted in the last one, and also that it is better to have all ideas in one thread than scattered so we can refer to them. Having two threads without any new update in between could also create unnecessary rehashing of old posts.
Since the update schedule seems to be spaced about a week apart, there will probably be about 500-1500 comments in the meantime so there is little chance of having to create new threads too early. In the rare case, a minimum number of comments can be assigned if updating is too frequent.
No. Please don't.
The way the web interface works, it automatically shows only 500 comments, and only the top few levels. You have to click a bunch of times to see more comments.
I'd rather have it separated out than to have a really really long thread to wade through. Very long threads are difficult to read and keep track of.
Now, if you wanted to start a new thread after every new update AND when they reach a certain number of comments, that makes sense.
Dumbledore's trickeries: just how much is he covering up?
We know, now, from the "Santa Claus" stunts, that Dumbledore is quite capable of trickery. Reading between the lines, it appears he cruelly sabotaged Snape and Lily's teenaged relationship.
What other deceptions belong to Dumbledore? Several are possible.
The prophecy and Snape:
The "confessor" interlude makes it clear that Snape was present for Sybil's prophecy. Does that mean that Harry is wrong to theorize that Dumbledore arranged for Snape to hear it...
... or did Dumbledore use a Time-Turner to make sure Snape heard the prophecy live and in person, so that Snape would be baited more credibly into telling Voldemort?
Rita Skeeter's False Memory Charm:
Dumbledore rewards the Weasleys for the prank, which happened to benefit Harry Potter and deprive Lucius Malfoy of a tool. Is it possible that he not only rewarded them for it, but committed the active part of it himself?
Amelia Bones burning Narcissa Malfoy:
There's suggestive evidence within the text ("Someo... (read more)
I've always considered the protection Harry had by Lily's "Love" (in canon) to be essentially dark magic done by Lily. She spent her own life to cast a ridiculously powerful and specific spell of protection on her son. The 'power of love' nonsense is true only in the mundane sense of the term. It was the motivation to use the spell. This doesn't devalue the power of love - that's how love really works - it influences the incentive of intelligent agents.
I wouldn't place this one in the realm of 'guilt'. Assuming things happened according your story, Dumbledore gave Lily the power to do something that she wanted to do (sacrifice, save). Helping other people save their babies does not accrue guilt.
...Now that's awesome.
The prophecy was made before Harry was born; the Potters were in hiding for more than a year before the attack.
Let's discuss Dementors. I was surprised to learn that a lot of people came away from TSPE believing in Harry's initial hypothesis, that Dementors had no minds of their own and were controlled by the expectations of the people nearest them. To me, this seemed conclusively disproved by something Harry isn't aware of: the fact that the dozen Dementors he scared away went back to their hundred-plus brethren in the central pit and thereafter all of them refused to tell the Aurors where Harry was, despite the fact that there were quite a lot of Aurors believing very strongly that they would.
If there's something I'm missing that rescues this hypothesis, I'd appreciate it being pointed out. At this point, I have to believe that whatever ritual (or possibly "law of magic", if we believe Harry) creates Dementors also imbues them with at least some independent decision-making ability, and that they have goals which include 'continuing to exist'.
Guess that idea is wrong, then.
I generally prefer to think of determining the truth as a cooperative endeavor, but thanks?
Why is HPMOR's Quirrellmort so much less violent than HPMOR's Voldemort?
HPMOR paints a Voldemort fixated on punishing his inferiors, a Voldemort who never used persuasion or inspiration when he could rely on suffering.
Yet Quirrellmort, for all that he talks cynically and is prepared to kill or memory-charm, prefers not to punish when he can benignly persuade or inspire.
You're forgetting that Tom Riddle actually did study at the monastery before he destroyed it to deny that training to his enemies.
Voldemort is especially violent and comes off as stupid, but he's just one of Tom Riddle's characters, and if you consider their actions as a whole they're smarter than they appear, on purpose.
There is a classic trick that card counting teams use to avoid detection. If one person shows up, and bets conservatively until the cards are in their favor, and then immediately starts making huge bets, then it is obvious that they are a card counter and the casino can throw them out. But, if that one person betting conservatively simply leaves the table once he thinks the deck is in his favor, and then someone else comes in wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt and acting like a "wild and crazy" risk-lover, then it just looks like someone risk-averse has been replaced with someone risk loving, and neither looks like they're counting cards.
Hypothesis 1: Voldemort both stupidly destroyed a school (instead of coming back later in disguise to learn the martial art) and stupidly allowed the tale to spread (letting people know he neither knew the martial art nor was able to control his temper).
Hypothesis 2: Voldemort was smart enough to learn the martial art from the school, combined vengeance for the humiliation he experienced with sound strategy in destroying it afterwards, and then spread misinformation to his enemies that would cause them to underestimate both his abilities and his self-control.
You can construct intermediate hypotheses, but #2 sounds a lot more like MoR!Voldemort to me than #1.
Implied in Chapter 49, Prior Information, when Harry and Quirrell are discussing Slytherin's monster:
Quirrell and Voldemort are personas designed to play different roles. You are looking for different urges, but there are instead different purposes behind these roles, that call for different behaviors, with any urges controlled too reliably to manifest if contrary to the purpose.
Ch. 79 (Dumbledore):
Ch. 61 (Dumbledore):
Ch. 63 (Quirrell):
Quirrell is not Voldemort, Quirrell is Riddle, just as Voldemort is Riddle.
The simplest reason is that Quirrelmort is simply not in a position to indulge any sadistic impulses the way Voldemort was. He spends hours each day conked out completely, and he has no powerbase to retreat to. Overt malice of the kind Voldemort practiced would very rapidly earn him an adavra. There are quite a few other possible reasons - for one thing, Tom Riddle is not running on the same wetware anymore, and his original brain might have been miswired in a way that did not carry over, or heck, the original Quirrel could have been very calm and unflappable, so now Quirrelmort just cannot get a good temper tantrum going no matter how hard he tries.
Well, that's what he would say either way, isn't it? (Not that I believe he would, the motive seems too human, but it's the principle of the thing.)
I like the idea that "Voldemort" was very consciously a role; that fits the Occlumens speech Quirrell gives to Harry.
But still, which is more plausible? That Voldemort's violence was an optimal choice for the situation? Or that Voldemort was stupidly violent?
Quirrell uses the monastery story to argue Voldemort was stupidly violent, which at minimum implies Voldemort had a reputation consistent with stupid levels of violence. Dementor!Harry, which I read as a representation of Voldemort, thinks
which is about as stupidly violent as it gets.
Let's put it this way: if Voldemort's violence level was rationally chosen, the author's worked really hard to disguise that fact.
I believe Dementor!Harry was just damaged by the Dementor, producing both grotesquely negative motivations and poor impulse control.
The chapter emphasizes that it's a separate personality system that's running Harry at that point (which doesn't prove it's Voldemort, but is suggestive). E.g.:
Although it's not absolutely definitive; Dumbledore's line in reply is
which argues for "he's damaged" as you suggest rather than "he's alien [and Voldemort]" as I'm suggesting.
Because he failed as Voldemort, updated his model of the world, and is trying a different approach as Quirrell.
It seems to me this is the point of the monastery story: being gratuitously violent may have earned Voldemort status, but it did not get him what he actually wanted. MoR!Voldemort is more rational than canon!Voldemort, so he noticed this fact.
He failed due to whatever happened ten years ago with Harry. We don't even have a good theory yet, IMO, of what that was (and the canon options are misleading).
Apart from that - a day before that - he had not failed at all. His old-style abusive tactics were keeping the Death Eaters in line and were successfully terrorizing the populace, and he was winning the war using those tactics.
However, those tactics may be inappropriate to his current position as Quirrel, because he doesn't have any real minions or subordinates, just a few people he manipulates without their knowledge.
Did he fail or, on learning of the prophecy, pretend to lose?
I was thinking the same thing. It goes with the "make Harry the Dark Lord and then upload into him" theory. I'd spin it a little differently, though. It's not that he just tortures for fun, but that he is completely indifferent to the suffering of others. So torture is useful if it serves a witty joke, or gains him a nickel. It goes with Harry's intent to kill, and his "Heroic" consequentialist morality. His job is to "get the job done". Also, the demented Harry wasn't proposing to torture people for the glee of their pain, he was just proposing that the death of the annoyers would "get the job done" in removing annoyances.
It's unclear to me that any of the stories of Voldemort's "surplus evil", reveling in sadism, are necessarily true. They all happened offstage. Further, it's unclear that he was even totally indifferent to the suffering he caused. Just as I think Dumbledore took "credit" for burning Narcissa to seem more ruthless to his enemies, might not Voldemort have done similarly all along, to spread terro... (read more)
The trick is to ignore personality. Never mind how calm or mean someone seems. Just ask: which characters show actions and knowledge that are distinctive to Voldemort?
In canon, Quirrell could not touch Harry because he was Voldemort. In the fic, Harry and Quirrell also cannot touch.
In canon, a Horcruxed object becomes especially long-lived and durable, and the maker of the Horcrux tries to hide it or get it out of others' reach. In the fic, Quirrell tells Harry he enchanted the Voyager 2 space probe to make it super-durable, and talks to Harry about where to lose objects so they'd never be found.
Voldemort knew how he behaved with Bellatrix Black, and is almost the only person with strong reason to rescue her. Quirrell knows and tells Harry how to behave with Bellatrix Black, and persuades Harry to rescue her.
Dumbledore identifies the Bellatrix rescue as bearing the style of Voldemort. Quirrell designed the Bellatrix rescue.
Dumbledore identifies the Hermione frame as having been done by Voldemort. Quirrell was the one who found the bodies, and is the only wizard in Hogwarts we know to be a post-Voldemort newcomer to Dumbledore's acquaintance.
The monastery, Bellatrix, and Dementor!Harry evidences of Voldemort's violent behavior cited above are original creations in HPMOR. HPMOR doesn't just ignore canon!Voldemort's punishment fixation; it reaffirms it.
There should be a reason.
I thought you all might find this amusing: I just got a friend to read HPMoR, and now he's planning on using parts of it to teach his Intro to Psych course.
I think he's planning to use Ch 8 (Hermione's Comed-Tea test) and the chapter(s) with Draco and Harry doing the Blood Purity experiment.
I don't remember MY Intro to Psych course being anywhere NEAR that interesting...
I notice I am confused.
We, the readers, know directly about lots of evil things Quirrell has done (e.g. kill Skeeter, break Bellatrix out of prison). We have also used this knowledge to guess at nefarious motives in other, less obvious, cases: like guessing that he was trying to dement Harry, or guessing that he is Hat&Cloak, or guessing that he is constantly manipulating Harry for his own ends.
Dumbledore has access to none of this knowledge. To Dumbledore, Quirrell is an exceptional teacher of Battle Magic who has the interests of the students at heart. He does not appear to take part in politics, with the exception of his pro-unification speech after the battle in the lake.
Dumbledore thinks that Voldemort is "less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost." The ancient tales he found speak of "wizards possessed, doing mad deeds, claiming the names of Dark Lords thought defeated."
The two pictures don't fit together — Quirrell is not doing mad deeds nor claiming the name of the Dark Lord. It's true that Dumbledore knows Tom Riddle was exceptionally brilliant, but I don't think it's idiotic of him to not guess that maybe the old tales of past dark lords only told of the stupid ones, and that Riddle's style of possession would be different.
Wait, killing Skeeter was evil?
I was under the impression that that created a tremendous dose of positive utility for pretty much everyone. Readers included.
It's really easy to feel a total lack of empathy for fictional characters, especially if they're the sort that nobody likes. I don't actually want to murder hack journalists, but it's pretty funny to do when there's no real human dying.
The idea of someone deserving death in itself is deontological (some people must be punished and that's a rule) while talking about the net utility of whatever is consequentialist. Ethics should be impersonal (that is, treat everyone equally) so a consequentialist ethical system that doesn't approve of death in general should never approve of a death of any single person as an end in itself.
Generally, it seems to me that for a consequentialist, talking about an act or a person being evil should only be computational shortcuts over the real substance of moral reasoning (which consists of assigning utility to world-states). Like in the common example of an airplane that we describe using aerodynamics because that's convenient even though really it runs on the same fundamental laws as everything else. We tend to use those shortcuts reflexively without really thinking what we are trying to say in consequentialist terms.
I would just like to point out the unintentional irony in that paragraph.
Squished her like a bug.
See Chapter 26:
(The stumbling happened earlier in the same chapter, Quirrell covered it though, feigning dizziness.)
Wait, breaking out Bellatrix was evil?
If you assume that Quirrel is Voldemort, then either he was lying and Bellatrix was just flat-out evil, or he MADE Bellatrix the way she is and presumably his motives for breaking her out have less to do with healing her and more to do with freeing his evil minion. It's possible Riddle's body had some sort of neurological problem that made him psychotic, which Quirrel does not share, making him regret his past actions, but I think this is unlikely and that he's still just evil.
Dementors are just evil. Fawkes is just good.
The problem is, Fawkes fits a little too well into the Spaceballs maxim - "Evil will always prevail, because good is dumb". Fawkes certainly has a purity of intent that'd put any of the human characters to shame, but the consequences are not always quite so good as would be hoped.
(Incidentally, the comparison you drew makes me notice something - if Harry is searching for eternal life, there's a path to resurrection that neither MoR!Harry nor canon!Voldemort has noticed - phoenixes seem pretty good at that sort of thing. Mentioning them as an absolute contrast to dementors makes me wonder just how strong an antithesis they actually are, and if that might be an answer.)
What makes you think they didn't?
(The obvious answer to this inconsistency is that they had no reason to spy on their brother/the first-years' dorm, but... He used to be Percy's rat. They never spied on Percy? BS.)
It wouldn't read Voldemort in any case; Dumbledore expects, and I have no reason to expect otherwise, that Voldemort would show up as Tom Riddle.
The Twins' POV mentions two errors in the Map, one constant and one intermittent. If Quirinus Quirrell sometimes (maybe whenever he's out of zombie-mode) reads as Tom Riddle, that would be the intermittent one, and if Quirrell and Riddle were constantly superimposed, that would be the constant. The Twins wouldn't necessarily think this was extremely suspicious; if they looked it up, they'd find a Tom Riddle was Head Boy in 1945, and nothing after that. (His identity wasn't common knowledge.)
Of course, both of those ideas have the problem that if Dumbledore ever talks to the Twins about the Map, the jig's up. So another possibility is that Quirrell did something (to himself or possibly the Map) to keep his name from showing on it correctly. If Quirrell's name is constantly (or only when out of zombie-mode) scrambled or blurred into illegibility, that would work too.
This discussion reminds me of the "Bag of zahav" experiment of Chapter 6.
And therefore the answer is "Magic, Mr. Potter" and "It just uses your name." This doesn't predict much, but it allows us to eliminate obviously nonmagical hypotheses like a database that reads in names announced during Sorting. That's just not how the Hogwarts founders would have thought about the problem.
I guess that a baby that hasn't yet received a name would be known as "Mr. Potter" or "The Potter baby" or something equally vague.
A large part of the plot of Prisoner of Azkaban hinges on the fact that Lupin noticed Pettigrew on the Map while he was in rat form.
I just penned a few thoughts on maintaining proper pessimism about Methods's future. (I also teased Eliezer and, indirectly, Less Wrong commenters a bit. It's all tongue-in-cheek and in a spirit of friendship.)
If anyone can think of a better title for that post, do let me know. I couldn't come up with a pithy Rationalist phrase that quite fit it.
Only tangentially HPMoR related (HPMoR hammers on the #5 point, will hopefully delve deeply into the #6, and touches on the others), but this Cracked article was an interesting perspective:
In retrospect, our guesswork was a lot messier than it should have been.
While Less Wrong discussants are usually prone to less fighting and arguing than the norm, they are not prone to being inefficient.
What we should have done was forbade any and all solutions until two days after the chapter was released. We had five full days to guess, we didn't need to have all our solutions down the first twenty-four hours. Not to mention that instead of simpler solutions, we continued to look for answers more complex than th... (read more)
Apologies if this was in the earlier thread; I didn't see it.
Some facts: When Quirrell is being interrogated, he "sneezes" to cancel the spell "polyfluis reverso", which would show who, if anyone, had polyjuiced into Quirrell. Canon has it being posession, not polyjuice. Also, he suggests that someone is possessing Quirrell in a way that makes it unlikely to be believed.
Some speculation: Quirrell wants the auror to think that he's somebody else polyjuiced as Quirrell, and is willing to reveal that he is capable of powerful wandless magic to do so. He also at least partly reveals that when he messes with the room's lighting earlier. Why does Quirrell not try to hide this ability better when he knows the strategic value of hidden abilities and, IIRC, only a few wizards (Voldemort among them) are known to be capable of wandless magic?
I'm not sure it's wandless.
Then again, the Auror doesn't know of this, so your point stands.
Well, that's the obvious implication of
Somewhere in the last thread's 1000 posts, it occured to me that it might be useful to have a list of non-obvious insights aggregated. This is stuff that may be missed if the reader has read only HPMoR but is unfamiliar with canon, or it may be things that are well hidden in plain sight. I know it's not normal practice to rot13 such things, but the sheer density of them makes it seem prudent.
Dhveery vf Ibyqrzbeg.
Yhpvhf guvaxf Uneel vf Ibyqrzbeg.
Dhveery znqr gur Iblntre 2 cebor n Ubepehk.
Uneel nppvqragnyyl thrffrq gur ybpngvbaf bs Dhveery'f Ubepehkrf.
Dhveery xvyyrq Evgn Fxrrgre.
Qhzoyrqber urycrq Yvyl znxr Crghavn'f ornhgl cbgvba.
Dhveery unf gur Erfheerpgvba Fgbar Qrnguyl Unyybj.
I know there's a bunch I'm missing so feel free to add. Ideally, they should not be controversial, just easily missed.
Quirrell stops short the field trip in chapter 40, saying something's come up that requires he be elsewhere, soon after Harry shows him the symbol (and that's the only real news for Quirrell that's shown). Strongly suggests that Quirrell knows where an object is with that symbol and, now he knows what it is, is going to fetch it.
If the backstory is the same as canon, Riddle in fact did gain possession of the ring that held the stone without immediately knowing it for what it was. Chapter 27 has a reference to a ring that tends to confirm that the backstory is, indeed, same as canon.
It's possible that Quirrell was unsuccessful in obtaining the object, but the most likely scenario is he went and got it without trouble and now has it.
I assumed they were referring to the Philosopher's Stone, which (at least in canon) is hidden in the third floor corridor.
First - YAY! I really do love this book.
Second, the link to part 13 isn't working.
Third, are we going to get a George Bailey scene of people helping to pay off the debt? He did only save them all from the Dark Lord. I know it's not quite as important as helping people to get mortgages, but it should count for something. If nothing else, there's got to be enough people with money out there who wouldn't want the Boy Who Lived to be in debt to the leader of the Death Eaters just as a political matter. And after his show of power against the Dementor, there should be a few people who would consider doing him a favor an extremely wise investment.
Maybe this is the wrong place to ask, but are there any other cool pieces of "edufiction" like HPMoR? I mean fiction where you can learn about science, economics or other topics just by reading the story, and thinking along with it.
There is lots of historic fiction material, so I'd like to exclude that genre from my question.
I recommend repeating your question as a discussion post so that more people will see it.
I am now convinced (>51%) that Harry is going to sell out Quirrell to buy Hermione's freedom. I originally came to this hypothesis because it is a solid plan; Harry frames Professor Quirrell using his knowledge of Azkaban to free Hermione. He can do this by framing Quirrell as Voldemort, but each conjunction makes a probability less likely so I'll stick with just the above (even though I personally believe this will be the case). With the Watsonian parts hammered down, I'm awestruck by the elegance of the Doylist reasons.
Instead of looking at fiction as a series of words, we can instead look at it as a way to maximize tension, humor, and dramatic irony while keeping believability as strong as possible. Believability is important. Many other stories have their characters act stupid or out of character to create dramatic moments. At the eleventh hour a (badfanfic!)Harry decides to run off instead of get his friends, or randomly (badfanfic!)Hermione decides to side with Lucius for no goddamn reason. In HPMoR's case, we will have everyone working in their own rational self interest, intelligently, and coming out with a result that flows seamlessly to create maximal drama.
Harr... (read more)
Ack I am slain.
Well, humble pie is the most delicious type of pie.
Whatever the hell happens, it has to end with a snap.
Short detour back to chapter 79, to look closely at the night's events:
At midnight, Draco and Hermine meet for the duel. (Let's assume they did have a duel, because implanting very believable (but still false) memories into both of their brains would take about twice the time of the duel and would thus be unnecessary work.) Let's assume that the duell takes about 15 to 20 minutes, so it's now 12:20am. Enter Mister X. Mister X stuns Draco, implants false memories (< 1 min) into Hermione's brain of her doing the Blood-Cooling Charm, and finally performs the Blood-Cooling Charm on Draco in a way to make sure he survives for >6 hours. Mister X is back in his room at 12:30am and needs to wait 6 hours (plus epsilon) until all traces leading to him have vanished.
And guess what:
Some Bayesian updating on P(Quirrell did it | Quirrell found Draco at 6:33am) tells us that this increases the probability of "Quirrell did it" by a quite noticeable amount.
OTOH, I'm not sure whether it would be okay to just do the math, without taking into account the possibility that Eliezer chose that time deliberately to steer us in a certain direction. Any thoughts on that?
My model of EY says that he would want the evidence he gave us to point to the true culprit--more evidence ought to make finding who did it easier, not harder. If EY chose that time deliberately to point at Quirrell, it's further evidence that Quirrell did it.
Even if the duel lasted only a few minutes and everything was over by, say, 12:10 or 12:20, that would mean Quirrel only waited six hours and 13-23 minutes, depending. Could even be deliberate-- an attempt to throw suspicion off himself by making the timing not quite perfect.
On the other hand, if I take "he's only three minutes late" as evidence that he did it, and "he's more than three minutes late" as evidence that he did it, I'm violating a principle of rationality.
I think he had something to do with it anyway.
If you take "he's just a few minutes late" as strong evidence that he did it, "he's quite a while late" as weak evidence that he did it and "he's early" as very strong evidence that he did not do it, this violation disappears.
This seems like brinksmanship. My instinct tells me Dumbledore was right and anything Harry does is weakening the ultimate compromise that everyone who matters knows will be reached (most likely behind closed doors.)
We're given at least two hints about this during the trial, though I did not read too closely.
Agreed. The option that seems clearest to me is to Lose, not to escalate. It's the first Potions class all over again, with Harry offering to sacrifice his humanity and the political stability of the country for Hermione's comfort.
If Harry loses well enough, he may even win.
Where do prophecies come from?
The idea of Time itself designating some people and events as Important and composing vague poetry about them is incompatible with a universe that runs on simple physical laws and is obviously nonsense. Doubly so if those laws are actually timeless. I hope I can state this unequivocally.
If Eliezer wants to teach his readers that a hero can be anyone with the talent, courage, and conscientiousness to do what's right, that there are no auras of destiny, that heroes choose themselves, then he can't actually have the planet's operating system, the Source of Magic, amputating the characters' destinies by choosing which ones to promote to Power User status. Even if it has a naturalistic explanation, a story whose heroes are ordained by fate would teach the same lessons as Star Wars. While David Brin is reading it. And Eliezer wouldn't do that, right?
Depending on where you draw the line, anywhere from four to six false prophets have now appeared in the story. I assumed they were there to prime you - really, beat you over the head - with the idea that prophecies can be human fabrications. But perhaps Eliezer just likes to repeat himself.
I note that Brin has to try to explain away the climax of RotJ in order to support his contention as to what the lesson of Star Wars is, and that his contention has gotten weaker over time with the prequels.
The actual story of the Star Wars films is how every Force-user in the whole galaxy was defeated by a handful of scoundrels over a period of less than thirty years. The prequels tell how the Jedi were wiped out by non-force-using clones of the bounty hunter Jango Fett. Then the fate of the first Death Star was not decided by the relative Force power of Vader and Luke, but by smuggler Han Solo shooting Vader's spacecraft. Finally, last movie has the second Death Star destroyed by that same smuggler's force taking down a force shield on Endor and his con-man buddy flying his smuggling ship into the Death Star II and blowing it up.
That is, we have a whole series of six movies that, as a whole, show Force-users reduced from the most important force in the Galaxy to one survivor (who doesn't even lead a faction) by the ac... (read more)
What makes you so sure the HPMoR universe is reductionist and/or runs on simple physical laws?
HPMoR is a rationalist story, not necessary a reductionist story. A true rationalist must be willing to update against even reductionism, if the evidence leads there.
Well, to some extent yeah, I guess. If SPHEW's plan to tie up Harry and drag him alongside as a bait to "Adventures" had worked, then Hermione giving up on reason might have had merit.
But that (genre tropes vs particle physics) is a rather false dichotomy. I can imagine a fictional universe which designates pieces of knowledge as fundamental entities, and can therefore designate "importance" on events, based on how many people will come to know of them, and can throw back pieces of knowledge through Seers.
It's not our universe, but that would still be a universe one could attempt to sensibly reason about -- and I think that's the sort of different universe that Eliezer would find fun to write about.
In short, I don't share your model of Eliezer.
Isn't it about time Harry taught Hermione Patronus 2.0?
Sticking my neck out with a prediction, at the eleventh hour: I think that 1) the most likely solution of any proposed is that Harry will call in the debts owed to him by some of the Wizengamot members, 2) the true culprit behind the duel, GHD attack, and possible other mind-magic will eventually be revealed but not necessarily in this chapter, and that 3) it's probably Quirrel. Note that this shouldn't be taken as one giant conjunction, just three independent predictions.
And that is how you do a Mood Whiplash right. I was incredibly nervous going into the chapter, and laughing the moment I saw the word "marriage."
Also, I think that Harry actually managed to make a slightly conciliatory argument at the end there. Namely, "If you don't piss me off any more, I can be a really, really powerful ally. And I'm in debt to you."
Looks like the LessWrong readership called it. Both plans, even. Congratulations, people who guessed quicker than I did.
I notice that Harry's view of the Wizengamot as a faceless entity doesn't actually seem to have changed this chapter. So much for that hint.
Also, it would be nice to know which members of the Wizengamot now think Harry is Voldemort and why they think he decided to pretend to die or whatever they think happened.
Has anyone suggested Harry simply giving a long impassioned plea, thus acting as Hermione's missing lawyer? He might be able to sway enough of the voters if he proposes a satisfactory lesser punishment (and passes a rhetoric and/or sophistry skill check). Hagrid was convicted of murder in Hogwarts, and his punishment was having his wand snapped and being expelled.
Can we add a link in the article heading to discussion section eleven?
My exhaustive analysis of Chapter 81
As we know, Harry's idea of double memory-charm has not been presented to the Wizengamot, which is a good thing; not only is it low status, as Harry realized, it's also unlikely to work, as Snape pointed out. Also, that's not what happened.
Hermione has been told the right lie, to lead her through the right emotions - a growing suspicion towards Draco, mainly - and then she was Obliviated, and told the same lie over again, went through the same emotions again, and again. If the sense of disorientation isn't a problem, she could have been looped through just... (read more)
Alternatively it could have been a way to determine the right memory charm to achieve the desired effect without using legilimency
The Potions Master was frowning thoughtfully, eyes intent. "The reaction to a False Memory Charm is hard to predict in advance, Mr. Potter, without Legilimency. The subjects do not always act as expected, when they first remember the false memories. It would have been a risky ploy. But I suppose that is one way Professor Quirrell could have done it.".
It's annoying that the whole fic has been hanging by a thin thread for awhile now for no good reason. When Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape or anyone else finally tells Harry about horcruxes, Harry will figure out in seconds that Quirrell is Voldemort and that Harry himself is a horcrux. (Quirrell told Harry about the Pioneer plaque, and later asked him about secure ways to lose a thing. Harry remembered Voldemort casting the horcrux spell, but filed it away as a "strange word" in Ch.45. Harry's being a horcrux explains his dark side and his sense of doom near Quirrell. Etc.)
I've the impression that Harry actually has some kind of censor inside his head that prevents him from thinking about the sense of doom concerning Quirrel. He is never shown remembering it and reflecting on it, even though it should be a pretty damn conspicuous and important fact. EDIT: not never, as seen below, but the amount of thought he expends on the matter still seems to be weirdly little.
And now that he knows what it means - that his and Quirrel's magics cannot touch each other because they "resonate" - he never tries to research this phenomenon. And he's been told he has the "brother wand" to Voldemort's...
ETA: I agree he doesn't pay as much attention to it as it deserves, but given the reaction he got when he brought it up...
Between chapter 80 and 81, here's my analysis. I can think of seven broad possibilities;
1.) Do nothing
2.) Attack publicly
2b.) Attack publicly in disguise
3.) Stealth attack
4.) Retreat and regroup
5.) Change the board
6.) Deus Ex Machina
1.) Do nothing; I list this simply because people often forget that inaction may be the best possible action. Here, that doesn't seem to be the case. On the other hand, once you realize that sacrifice is necessary, why not give in to the dark side? What's one muggleborn more or less? With proper obliviation Harry can litera... (read more)
Chapter 38: Lucius Malfoy claims that he was under an Imperius curse cast by Lord Voldemort. In canon, that claim was made by many powerful pureblood lords.
Chapter 26: Freeing someone from an Imperius curse by killing the caster of that curse creates a debt
Chapter 4: Bounties payable to the killer of Lord Voldemort could be delivered to Harry Potter.
Conclusion: Harry Potter is owed a blood debt by a number of the lords of the Wizengamot, which might be large enough that he could call it in and save Hermione. Even if it is just Lucius who owes him this debt, it could be enough.
Comments: Law of Conservation of Detail leans towards these facts being used, feels very desperate and Harry like, allows Hermione to come back to Hogwarts as a student.
Sorry? In canon, many powerful pureblood lords claimed to have killed Voldemort?...
Ah. You mean they claimed to be Imperiused. I'm obscurely disappointed. For a moment I imagined a coalition of Rational Pureblood Lords going around saying "it's ridiculous to believe a baby survived the Killing Curse and killed the Dark Lord, really we ambushed him and left the burned husk of his body".
Eliezer's clue sounds to me as though there's enough people in the Wizingamot whose interests and/or desires aren't served by convicting Hermione, and it's possible to identify them and change their minds once Harry stops thinking of the Wizingamot as a single inimical force. The details are left as an exercise for the student.
It would appear that you have not yet learned how to lose. :)
The best, easiest solution available to Harry is to confess.
Even without a wand, de doesn't fear dementors, and dementors fear him. Neither Dumbledore nor Quirrel would be willing to let Harry rot in Azkaban, while they would not break Hermione out.
(I cannot claim credit for this, it was posted on xkcd forums.)
Any ideas on what Harry's going to pull out of hammerspace to save Hermione? My guess is "oh btw every single one of you owes me a lifedebt from that time I KILLED VOLDEMORT. Thus saving Lucius from the quote-unquote Imperius Curse. Pay up plzkthx."
Failing that, I can imagine Harry and Fawkes going on a Dementor-killing spree.
My prediction (80% certainty) is that the cliffhanger resolution will not have been guessed here or in the chapter reviews.
Here's a thought:
Why not ask Lucius what he was planning to ask for, and offer that? It will have to be better than Azkaban, and yet severe enough to be acceptable to a Malfoy as a way to assuage the blood debt. (The punishment is clearly going to be bad for Hermio... (read more)
Among the darkest of the dark arts is the bargaining technique wherein you demand more than you are actually trying to get, then back down to make your actual demand seem more reasonable. If you go along with this, you will be roped into something you would never have agreed to otherwise. This seems to be what Lucius is doing, and he did it quite masterfully by having his minion propose it. I'm not sure what the best way to handle this technique is, but compromising as if it's fair play probably isn't it.
One thing I don't understand: why is the charge against Hermione that she tried to end the line of a noble house? Wouldn't Lucius be still alive and hypothetically capable of producing another heir? Did Voldemort castrate him while he was "Imperiused"? That would explain why he's so hostile toward him now.
Maybe Lucius is not so much physiological unable, but psychological unwilling to sire another heir after his Narcissa died a horrendous death?
Of course now there is the matter of paying back the debt. He has several more options than he did before. He could cash in a few more of his imperious-debts (which are each apparently worth 10,000 galleons and a pureblood girl). He could raise an army of dementors as his mob and have wealthy purebloods pay for "protection" (highly unlikely, but his dark side might consider it). Or he could simply conquer magical Britain before he graduates and disregard the debt.
Harry has already figured out quite a few solutions to the monetary problem. The long run (and cheap solution) would be to apply himself and his side to the clearing of Hermione's name. That wouldn't just earn him a 100.000 galleons it would also improve Hermione's political standing, leave Malfoy's (and to a certain extent Dumbledore's) reputation in its currently weakened state plus strengthen his argument against the political structure of Magical Britain. Not to mention he can do all this WHILE having starting his money-making schemes. Though we might as well not care since I seem to recall that the great EY seems to have said that this story ends after the first year of Hogwarts. Regardless: the interesting part is what kind of extra power Lucius has vis-a-vis Harry now.
That description of the line of Merlin at the beginning sure sounded 'sacred'.
My stab at what Harry could do:
As repayment for Hermione's blood debt towards the Malfoy family, he should offer himself - offer to serve the Malfoy family for a year, or until Hermione is cleared of the charge. Accepting this would not be a loss of face for Lucius, and there is already precedent - the way Crabbe and Goyle serve Draco.
Oh, just thought of something. Narcissa's murderer could be not Dumbledore, not Bones, but Voldemort, if she was working as an informant. This gives Dumbledore ample motive to say something like "I killed her" to Luscious, and might be reflected by some sort of evidence kept in Dumbledore's hidey-hole, like a burnt piece of Malfoy-themed jewlery.
Also, can you make a portrait with arbitrary personality traits? How about a self-improving painting factory?
Even if Dumbledore didn't kill Narcissa, he would still have a motive to take credit for doing so: to discourage Death Eaters from targeting family members of his allies.
Is it conceivable that Hermione will spend time in Azkaban without protection from Dementors, and the story will have to build from there?
Anyone know whether HPMOR has gotten any academic attention?
Well if she's going to spend 10 years like that, better turn it into an Occupy Azkaban movement and bring in lots of books so she can study and a Floo portal so she can talk to her friends and she'll tele-graduate Hogwarts with all honors.
How on earth does the abstract relate to the putative topic?
Yes, that is the question! Congratulations, you have won our Daily Double!
Bunch of reactions to the new chapter:... (read more)
I sort-of guessed the solution! squee I don't usually like to speculate on what's going to happen in works of fiction, because if I'm wrong I'm embarassed and if I'm right it lessons the surprise. But I had fun speculating and the chapter still had me on the edge of my seat with the tennis match of negotiations. Professor McGonagall is so damn awesome.
The bit with the dementor was hilarious, but I don't really understand this section:
It's interesting that in Ch 81 Lucius (acted like he) didn't know that Harry can cast a Patronus.
In Ch 79, Dumbledore suggested:
But apparently Lucius decided to let Draco keep some privacy.
Or he just hasn't gotten around to fully questioning him under veritaserum yet.
Or he's pretending that he doesn't know that Harry has a Patronus.
Or someone obliviated Draco of this informa... (read more)
Is this supposed to be proof positive that Dumbledore is Santa Claus? A nod, and an empty statement?
A nod means "Yes" in English-speaking countries, so I'm sure it's supposed to be as much proof positive as Dumbledore saying "Yes".
I don't think we have any reason to doubt Dumbledore's word on this.
It seems that AN for Ch. 81 is up now, but the chapter isn't. Is this normal?
(the first time I'm waiting for the update frantically hitting refresh...)
The title of the arc is "Taboo Tradeoffs".
So my theory is that Harry is going to threaten to do something that seems extremely bad to the Wizengamot, but not to Harry (i.e. a taboo); something that's so taboo that they're willing to let Hermione go free even though they think she's an attempted murderer (another taboo).
No idea what the threat is going to be, though. Something like going over to Voldermort? Making a credible committment to not participating in his prophesied duties?
As opposed to Philip Tetlock's notion of a taboo tradeoff? Which is, in gist, anything that people refuse to do cost-benefit analysis about. Consider the common revulsion to setting a dollar value on a human life — or asking someone in Western society to sell their child.
I don't think the title analyzes as "(You should) taboo (the word) 'tradeoff'."
Right, Lucius is no longer the only powerful and intelligent wizard who thinks that Harry is Voldemort. If any of the others are inclined towards the public good they are probably now plotting his demise. This does not count as a win.
Lucius.. Probably thinks that the entire point of this ploy was to increase the legend of "the boy who lived" and is kicking himself for playing into it. On the other hand, he did get compensated very well.
Other likely consequences: Hermonie is going to read his note as soon as she gets back on something resembling... (read more)
New HPMOR discussion thread here.
How likely do you all think it is that Harry will defeat Voldemort (as per the prophesy) by the end of his first year?
This might be too many in a short time, but do we want to make a new thread before the next update gets posted, considering this one's ALREADY at 400?
What's the probability of Harry trading Dumbledore for Hermione?
With the way the trail is going I hardly see why Harry should continue to value Dumbledore a lot.
Lucius would applaud this, Quirrelmort would as well; Dumbledore claiming Harry to be an Occlumens would seem rather desperate and with the current situation Dumbledore's standing isn't particularly strong.
This could be achieved by Harry claiming to have Dumbledore testified to have been behind the burning of Lucius' wife. (and perhaps going further also behind the attack on Draco). Harry can easily defend that he hasn't said this before due to the obvious power Dumbledore holds.
OK, so Harry needs to solve the crime. The Time-Turner and Patronus instant messaging should help. The time limit is not very strict because Bones is on our side and her Aurors can use their Patronuses to protect Hermione from dementation for awhile.
Can we solve the crime? The culprit is obviously H&C because he brainwashed Hermione into making the murder attempt. Now we just need to figure out who H&C is. Snape says in ch.79 "The reaction to a False Memory Charm is hard to predict in advance, Mr. Potter, without Legilimency." He says thi... (read more)
Reading through some of the speculation on Mr. Hat and Cloak, it seems like some people are pretty confident that it's Quirrell, whereas others don't feel it's decided. In particular this comment says:
But I felt like his behavior the last time I saw him didn't fit with what I would have expected from Quirrell (despite the fact that Quirrell was my first guess at his identity the firs... (read more)
"It's all right, Gregory," Draco said, as gently as he could. "All you've got to do is worry about protecting me. Nobody's going to blame you for following my orders, not my father, not yours."
Hmm I wonder how much trouble they are in, they were supposed to keep Draco from harm and he almost got killed.