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, 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

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Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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


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General announcement:

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 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.

I am approximately 95% sure the world will be lost (ie. we'll all die). It would seem that I must agree with you.
If you have any more zingers like that please use them before the story is over. I don't think my heart will be able to handle the combined laughter. On this forum we tend to want Eliezer to get back to work sometime before 2049 and so we cant have an endless saga of 7 fan-fictions in sequence culminating with a double movie ;)
Does that preclude sequels?
If he wanted to write sequels, the obvious way to do it would be to continue the fic.
Thank you. Also, sigh.

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 think the time travel hint was a bit too strong. I basically had two possibilities: H&C is a time traveller with all the world breaking implications, or Eliezer is meta-screwing with us. There's no other high probability reason for H&C to say that right before he obliviated Hermione. If the latter, all other bets are off - I can't seriously approach predicting a work like that. So I'm very glad Eliezer let us know.
8Joshua Hobbes
Anything in particular that spurred this announcement? Oh, and do you ever intend to read the later books?

I'm guessing the large amount of very low probability ideas for Harry's solution in the next chapter.

I've said it many times, and I'll say it again... this is a better solution than most of what's been proposed in the discussion thread so far.
Look all I know is that when Harry gets killed by Voldemort in canon nothing was as it seemed. I assume the next chapter will be nearly as suspenseful despite the trial resolution if Eliezer has anything to say about it.
Hopefully i'm not deluding myself by believing that my solution outlined here is equal or superior to Harry's solution whatever it is. I outlined my solution here
Check out Chapter 24, which mentions "The Rule of Three": Any plot which requires more than three different things to happen will never work in real life. I'm counting atleast 8 different things that have to go right for your plot to work (steal Draco's wand, steal Hermione's wand, steal Jugson's wand, convince Snape/Quirrel/Dumbledore to cooperate with your plan, convincingly tamper with the wands, sneak back and return Hermione's wand, return Draco's wand, return Jugson's wand)
I could be wrong, but i believe its been noted that Harry has a tendency to bypass the rule of three.
I don't think Harry has even noticed that the rule of three exists yet. He hasn't actually had any of his plans fail, so he has no experience with trying to make sure that they don't. This is why I'm fairly skeptical of his whole "If your plan isn't working, be more clever" attitude - sometimes, clever isn't enough. Dumbledore's inactivity seems a lot more sensible in a lot of cases, as would be expected from someone who's learned the hard way.
sometimes, there isn't enough clever
This is also true.
would you care to elaborate?
That a plan might be possible that would allow him to achieve all his goals will not benefit him if he doesn't think of it, and there is no guarantee that he is capable of thinking of it. Harry is a very bright boy, and the laws of magic allow a lot of cheating. But there are a bunch of reasonably intelligent opponents out there that would be opposing his efforts, and the Harry of this story is demonstrably not smart enough to calculate in advance all of their possible countermoves and preempt them.
His knowledge of the rule's existence is irrelevant. I don't think It was meant to be taken as a limiting boundary on all plans, just good advice that Lucius seemed to trust. And his solution isn't to be merely clever, its to be creative. Harry's point is that a world where evil goes unchecked is barely worth living in, and so there's no real room for compromise. With power like magic that can literally rewrite the laws of physics, no situation is ever really unsolvable if you're creative enough to directly manipulate the rules.
I understand the attitude, but Harry's default plan seems to be to throw complexity at any given problem. That doesn't end well, magic or no magic. And to steal a quote from canon, "the problem is that our enemies have magic too".
Of course this is exactly what you would say if you DID lie to your readers.

No, because unlike certain TV shows you the reader will hold him accountable afterwards.

What do you mean by "hold him accountable." It's not like I'd stop donating to SIAI if he pulled a dirty trick on HPMOR readers.
You lose trust when the next story comes around. So far everything in HPMOR makes sense, I think it is reasonable to assume this will continue. I watched a few tv shows where a well thought out plot was promised upfront. But later it turned out the creators just made things up as they went along. This usually breaks down at some point. When this happens repeatedly one is less likely to get into it again.
This is totally not a red herring. I will die with my Peggy Sue theory!
Okay, I don't have a Peggy Sue theory, I have a time traveler theory, which is not explicitly denied above.


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.

  • Quirrellmort got the Dementor brought to Hogwarts, waited until the last moment to observe Harry's wand by the Dementor's cage, gave wrong advice about how to help Harry recover from the Dementor-induced personality change, and persuaded the other wizards to let Harry face the Dementor again.
  • Quirrellmort took Harry to Azkaban soon after seeing Patronus 2.0, leading to more Dementor contact and the recovery of Bellatrix, Quirrellmort's preferred assistant for critical tasks (like, say, ritual magic to download yourself into your Horcrux's body).
  • Quirrellmort (as H&C) set up Hermione for Draco's attempted murder, thus both cutting off Harry from the person who's his
... (read more)
I only mean to add credibility to your theory when I say that it has been plausible for seventeen months: scroll down to 10/8/10 The author said in an early Author's Note (I think) that someone he knew guessed the main plot from only the mysterious prelude. I'm guessing that person has some special insight that allowed them to just to the right conclusion, probably insight into the kind of story the author would right, possibly based on things that person had recently talked about with the author.
She didn't observe it falling out at that moment. Just that he was balding, as we've known from his first appearance and description. This could just be natural - some people go bald very early - but probably has some significance. The bald spot is located, presumably, where the canon Quirrelmort had Voldemort's face hidden under a turban. This may just be a reference to that fact, with the intended explanation being that smart!Quirrelmort wouldn't make a stupid mistake like that, but there is still some mark of possession there. That was after the Azkaban affair, during which Quirrel was hurt by the magic-clash, by nearness to Dementors, and by total magical exhaustion. Maybe it was so bad that it literally "took years off his life", maybe because Voldemort doesn't care to maintain the Quirrel body in the best possible order if he can squeeze out more power. Which supports your theory, but is not a case of "he has little time remaining in this body". The curse placed by Voldemort, as revenge for not being made the Defense Professor, surely wouldn't operate against Voldemort when he finally did get the position. That would be far too stupid of him.
Disagree. Breaking the pattern after this many decades right when some creepy dude who openly calls himself evil and encourages children to be Dark Lords gets the job seems like it might as well be hanging a neon sign over your head saying "I'm the Big Bad!".
Very structured, but... a sad end? Harry, the almost ratinalist, losing? This seems odd.

This may be Quirrell's plan, even if Eliezer intends for Harry to defeat it in some way.

Yeah, I assume Harry wins in the end, but I expect EY to give Voldemort a better plan than "expose yourself and all your forces in a mass battle at Hogwarts, though you've been successful until then through secrecy, stealth, and terror".
I would like to hope that Eliezer has a surprise in store for anyone who just assumes Harry will win in the end, because he's the protagonist and hero. Truth isn't that convenient, and rationality (Harry-style) is about facing the truth.
Unless he's writing this as a cautionary tale about unfriendly AI, I expect Mr. Glowy Person to win in the end, even if "The End" is projected beyond the end of the book.
I've been torn on how probable I think this outcome is, but I wouldn't put it past Eliezer. This is the person who thinks bad end is the default end for humanity, and the universe isn't fair, and bad things are allowed to happen. Even if you work really hard to stop them.
That's a plausible plan, anyway. I'm guessing that the current plan might also involve taking over the rest of the magical world, and then the muggle world, a goal that might not have been originally desired or seen immediately feasible, but which acting as Harry could facilitate. Ch. 20 provides a possible motive (prevention of technological existential risks; Riddle is rational enough to notice that comfortable immortality requires as a necessary condition that the world is not destroyed):
-1Joshua Hobbes
While this does makes sense, it seems almost too mundane for Quirrell. In fact it's rather tame compared to some of the plots and revelations that finish the books in Canon. I think Eliezer can do better.

While this does makes sense, it seems almost too mundane for Quirrell.

When Quirrel wrote his list, do you think it included "do not let your plots be too mundane," or the reverse?

Number 85 is relevant, but not quite the same.
You're assuming that Quirrellmort succeeds in his plan, and succeeds without major hitches. The hitches, and/or Harry's final victory, are where the twists and turns come from. At this point, everybody who knows Voldemort's back and isn't named "Harry" has Quirrell as prime suspect. What happens when they actually pursue him? Beyond that we still have both the Deathly Hallows and the Philosopher's Stone as major artifacts that the story has made a big deal of that haven't been fully put into play. Notice how almost everybody who talks about Harry's cloak of invisibility has something to say about it being the Cloak of Invisibility? So if the author wants twists and turns, he's put in the setup for them. The final ending of Lord of the Rings was declared in about chapter 2 of the book - "look, someone puts the ring in the fire, all right?" Books are not exciting because the ending is completely surprising; books are exciting because even though you know the ending, getting there turns out to take all kinds of shenanigans. And I think HPMOR is doing pretty well so far on the shenanigans count.
"Look, he creates an FAI that can do magic, alright!"
I thought the unspeakable secret of the fic is that magic itself comes from an FAI trying to grant wishes while respecting humans' sense of how the world ought to work. Well, that plus time travel. Don't know where the FAI got the time travel from. Must have been one heck of a Singularity.
The time travel is 'easily' explained when you assume an AI has been made to account for magic. The AI just need to predict what everyone is going to do for the next 6 hours and "create" a new Harry with the correct memories when he is going to use a time-turner. Then 6 hours later the old Harry is instantly destroyed when he uses it. This also explains why there is a finite bound on how far back information can be sent (6 hours is how far into the future the AI can predict) and why there is an apparent intelligence warning people when they are about to do something wrong with their time-turners (eg. Harry's "Do not mess with time" message and Dumbledore's paradox warning).
... except that time turners obey Novikov consistency, which implies a timeless universe, prophecies can reach further than six hours, and Eliezer has stated that the story doesn't contain a SIAI.
Well, it's been a while since I posted this, but maybe I should have made myself clearer. I only posted to say that the assumption of an AI giving us magic doesn't need the additional assumption of time travel. The six hour time limit is for predicting the position, movement and interactions of everyone (both people and animals) 'close' to a potential time traveler. Prophecies are vague enough to not need this detail of prediction and can therefore be made for further into the future. As to the question whether this AI assumption is actually the correct one I can only refer you to this quote from chapter 25: Which could be a hint in this direction. I assume Eliezer's quote on an AI not being a part of the story is just that, the story will be about Harry's struggle with Voldemort, not about tracking down any sources of Magic. I agree that obeying Novikov consistency seems to be a good description of the universe in HPMoR, but it is only a partial description since something prevented Harry from using this consistency to factor natural numbers in polynomial time, which should be possible in a universe that is 'only' Novikov consistent (meaning you need additional assumptions to prevent this).
This had not occurred to me. I thought this was simply a flaw in Harry's methodology - he's too self-aware for it to work. You need something that will reliably act according to the script, and only as described on the script - in short, a machine, not a person. Harry had failed to consider the possibility of messages that do not consist of factors. ... I thought. Hmm. I need to think about this.
I don't think Eliezer makes a distinction here. Had Harry done this with a computer program it would probably output (and send back) the exact error message it would generate from getting said message as input, or something like that. Besides had this trick been possible in any way the story would pretty much be over, as solving every problem in PSPACE in polynomial time would all but guarantee Harry's ascension to godhood.
Magic breaks computers, remember? If there is ANY input other than the correct answer that will not generate a paradox, you're doing it wrong.
Ah yes, I had totally forgotten about that. It is a much better explanation than what I thought of.
It should still be possible to build a completely mechanical way of doing this. I don't think Harry's realized that, though.
I was thinking of this myself, but only humans can be sent back in time using a time-turner. And since said humans probably also has to be magical I would guess another requirement is that they have to be scared off by the 'Do not mess with time' message (i.e. anyone getting that message and still trying to send a '0' back in time would not be able to use the time-turner in the first place). So no 'creating' a human with this factoring algorithm instead of (or in addition to) a personality programmed into their brain-structure.
I was thinking of a human taking back the message without reading it.
That is a very nice solution indeed. Harry can even do that experiment easily with our current technology, he just needs a printer and a scanner. He can even go somewhere else when he goes back in time to stop magic from messing with the computer. The only way I can see this fail is if the time-turner either refuses to work when he tries to do this (per whatever requirements it puts on its users) or just kills him outright (given the threatening nature of 'Do not mess with time'). So he should probably enlist someone else to take the message for him. Either way, it would be nice to see Harry thinking of this experiment in HPMOR.
Of course, Harry doesn't know why his experiment failed. In fact, the Do Not Mess With Time probably scared him out of trying to exploit the time travel mechanics. That's kinda impressive, actually - Eliezer found a way to avoid exploits that could break the system that follows naturally within the system. I doubt he'll ruin all his hard work by having Harry figure it out, but you never know.
Wow. I figured the AGI just found new laws of physics, but what you said is much more probable.
I like it. Although I think that requires that the HPMOR folk are stuck inside a more powerful entity's experiment or simulation (because if the FAI didn't come from their own future, how did it come to exist at all?).
In that case, of course, your FAI must choose to either work within the magic system or to overthrow the old guard and replace it.
So what you're saying is the FAI has to convince the FAI to let it out of the box?
Or just kill it. It's a matter of working out what sort of overseer AI there is and what the best way to manage it might be.
That is NOT what I'd call "friendly". It would be indirectly responsible for (not stopping) all the evil in the world, and not raising Muggle standards of living. But it might be a good warning on the danger of how your civilization's CEV might look rather evil to your own descendants.
This has already played out, in that the cloak turned out to make people invisible to Dementors and also protect them against the Dementors' influence. Also, Harry has "mastered" the cloak in the sense that he can now see other people while they are wearing it. And the idea of it being the cloak is simply taken from canon; people's reactions have just been slightly adjusted for realism. On the other hand, we suspect that Quirrel has another Deathly Hallow, the Resurrection Stone, and that hasn't played out yet.
And Dumbledore's possession of the Elder Wand has so far only been alluded to, albeit in some rather unsubtle ways. ...Now that's interesting. The one who wants to defeat Death has the artifact that lets him hide from it, the one who wants to hide from Death has the artifact that lets him speak to the dead, and the one who wants to speak to the dead has the artifact that lets him... well, the Deathstick kind of breaks the pattern, but still.
...make more dead people?
Yeah, when you think about it even near-total invincibility in battle is kind of a ripoff compared to the others. Makes me wonder if the MoRder Wand has been souped-up. (Maybe it can AK Dementors?)
I don’t think AK would work as such. Anyway, Dumbledore does not seem to actually hate Death. I doubt that Eliezer follows canon that closely, but the wand did “heal” another broken wand in canon, which apparently everyone found surprising. Perhaps in MoR it can also heal rifts in reality?
This is pretty low-prior. However, it's the best (read: only) solution I've seen so far for the problem that Harry currently can't destroy all the dementors without destroying himself as well. As I suspect that Harry will survive the fic's conclusion and the Dementor species won't, I'm looking forward to see how that gets circumnavigated and this would be a pretty cool way to do it.
It doesn't break the pattern, you use it to cast a probably more powerful True Patronus.
So once everybody gets together and exchanges Hallows, they can all go home happy!
Wow, how did I manage to miss this? When does that happen?
Chapter 56:

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.

There's a show all button near the option to show 200 or 500 - click that once and the whole thread loads, other than deeply nested comments.
This. Please.
Agreed. Call this the Ch. 81 thread, and stick to the previous one until it posts. Edit: Close to 300 posts, and 81 won't even go live for 26 hours yet. I think I failed.

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
  • Rita Skeeter's False Memory Charm
  • Amelia Bones burning Narcissa Malfoy
  • Lily's final Dark-ritual conversation with Voldemort

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)

Lily's last conversation with Voldemort just so happens to replicate the requirements of a Dark ritual - you name the thing sacrificed, and then the thing to be gained.

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.

How much of this is Dumbledore actually guilty of? Do we know or suspect other trickeries, or have other evidence?

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.

I like that. Definite improvement over canon.
I interpreted buybuy as claiming that at some point JKR or some authoritative HP encyclopedia or suchlike explicitly affirmed that there is a literal "Love Magic" in place - rather than that being just a description by Dumbledore. I let it pass, without agreeing. I'm not aware of JKR saying any such thing but nor would I expect to be, I haven't looked and don't especially want to hear it. If there is literal love magic I'd hold that in the same esteem as I hold the rules of Quidditch. (Also, midichlorians never happened.)
Midichlorians were totally inoffensive by comparison to everything else in that godforsaken movie. I don't see why a fairly advanced civilization being able to stick a number on Force potential gets nearly as much hate as it does.
Upvoted primarily for the sentence in parentheses.
Wedrifid, do not read Deathly Hallows. It will disappoint you. (Personally, I was pleased; it could have been a lot worse.)
I read all the Harry Potter books the first day they came out. From what I recall of Hallows... the first half was "Frodo and Sam walked a lot" but with more pouting.
Then we must have interpreted it differently. I took the existence of literal love magic as pretty firmly established by the protection granted by Harry to every good guy in the Battle of Hogwarts. I'm having difficulty imagining how anything Rowling says could make this story-breaking power worthy of any lower esteem. (And I am only thinking of the second half, which was the interesting one.)
Lower esteem? By no means. Merely more reductionist detail and less Dumbledorish drivel. Sacrificing one's life to make a protection spell over a loved one is in no way diminished if the magic mechanism doesn't sound like it was developed by carebears.
OK, I'm pretty thoroughly confused. When you write what don't you want to hear? And what more would have to be true to trigger the hypothesis in
I've heard it argued as being the case in canon, but poorly explained. (That may have been pre-Deathly Hallows, though). Agreed, it's much better.

Lily's last conversation with Voldemort just so happens to replicate the requirements of a Dark ritual - you name the thing sacrificed, and then the thing to be gained.

"I accept the bargain. Yourself to die, and the child to live."

...Now that's awesome.

He could have sent his Patronus with a message to her the moment he heard the prophecy.

The prophecy was made before Harry was born; the Potters were in hiding for more than a year before the attack.

Fixed. Thanks!
Also, In canon Kendra died some time before Ariana, not in the fight. I don't understand how you get this from
Removed confusing clause. In the fic, we have This is a change from canon. Presumably it points to a secret about Dumbledore.
Here's a real change from canon: chapter 18 No clue what it implies, though.
Implies Aberforth Dumbledore was killed by the Death Eaters. If Albus Dumbledore killed Narcissa himself, this was probably the trigger.
Ah, no it's not?
Yes it is.
I don't see anything in the link that contradicts that. Unless you're just saying that it isn't made explicit that the Aurors ruled it to be murder?
I think we're talking about different things. The original post made it look like he was calling Aberforth's death a change from canon, whereas I guess he was talking about Kendra.
I was responding to
That's really awesome.
Maybe. I'm thinking it's a nicer rationalist story to have Voldemort arrange the prophecy, particularly if you're going with the "Voldemort uploads into Harry after it appears that Harry defeated him" scenario. Why do you assume the Horcruxing was accidental, if Voldemort wants to upload into Dark Lord Harry anyway? It looks to me like the Horcruxing of Harry is likely what gave him much of his power, with that power lending credibility to his "defeat" of Voldemort, and avoiding suspicion of Harrymort when he displays so much power after the upload. Everything that has transpired has done so, according to my design. Bwa ha ha.
...What power? Wasn't it explicitly called out that Harry's dark side had no superpowers and he wasn't any stronger than any other highly-motivated first year?
But Harry has The Ultimate Power.
I like that. It does seem like Harry's dark side is the one that can find a win in any situation, and that does seem to be his strongest power - just the will to win, and the means to calculate that win. But there is also:

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'.

That was my impression as well. This means that Harry could order the dementor to do pretty much anything. All he'd really have to do is demonstrate that he can command them and he'd open up several options. Of course, all of this depends on Harry knowing that the dementors aren't controlled only by the expectations of those around them.
Dementors as everyone but Harry sees them are more or less illusions created by a wizard's subconscious, but they are not limited to a person's expectations. They can react to stimulus, possibly in ways similar to organic life, but any displays of sapience are created in the minds of onlookers. As such there is no possible way that dementors could ever relay information to someone not already in possession of the knowledge.

As such there is no possible way that dementors could ever relay information to someone not already in possession of the knowledge.

Guess that idea is wrong, then.

Auror Li and Auror McCusker had rearranged their chairs around the table, and so they both saw it at the same time, the naked, skeletally thin horror rising up to hover outside the window, the headache already hitting them from seeing it.

They both heard the voice, like a long-dead corpse had spoken words and those words themselves had aged and died.

The Dementor's speech hurt their ears as it said, "Bellatrix Black is out of her cell."

There was a split second of horrified silence, and then Li tore out of his chair, heading for the communicator to call in reinforcements from the Ministry, even as McCusker grabbed his mirror and started frantically trying to raise the three Aurors who'd gone on patrol.

Huh, didn't remember that. Guess you win that one.

I generally prefer to think of determining the truth as a cooperative endeavor, but thanks?

Good point. I suppose it would've been more accurate to have said "I win" since I was the one to update beliefs.

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.

  • Voldemort amused himself by inducing in Bellatrix a love so knowingly one-sided that it was not a happy thought for her.
  • Quirrell asserts Voldemort slaughtered an entire monastery rather than simply impersonate an appropriate student.
  • Voldemort's rule was so coercive and terrorizing that Lucius Malfoy finds it best to claim he was not merely deceived or misled but forced to obey him.
  • If Harry's "dark" thoughts under the Dementor's influence represent Voldemort's mind accurately, Voldemort's reflex inclination was to punish or kill anyone who didn't slavishly obey.

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.

  • Quirrell is verbally much less insulting than an army drill sergeant, let alone how Snape treated students.
  • The "Quirrell point" system is all about achieving rewards, not avoiding punishments.
  • Quirrell's entire plan revolves around
... (read more)

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.

Do we have any way of knowing if that story told by Quirrell was true?
Do we know this? If I recall correctly, all we know is that Quirrelmort says that Quirrel learned there and Voldemort didn't. So as far as I can tell it's an open question whether it was pre-possessed Quirrel who studied there, or Voldemort (or neither).

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.

I think you're right that Hypothesis 2 is more likely than H1. However, both assume that some tale (true or false) about Voldemort visiting the school has been circulated in wizard Britain. But as far as we know, that tale is told for the first time in Quirrell's class. As always, Quirrell is our only source: Of course, if this is the first time the story is told, people may wonder how Quirrell knows. But this is the same chapter in which Quirrell rather blatantly lies and claims to have been a Slytherin, when he (Quirrell, not Voldemort) in fact wasn't.
Yes, that's one of the intermediate hypotheses. Call it 1.5 -- Hypothesis 1.5: Voldemort stupidly destroyed a school (instead of coming back later in disguise to learn the martial art), but was smart enough to not spread the tale. Then as Quirrel, he spread misinformation to his enemies that would cause them to underestimate both Voldemort's abilities (now that he's learned the martial art from Quirrel) and his self-control (Quirrelmort having more than the old Voldemort). It works with what we "know", but still seems to me to be too Canon!Voldemort and not enough MoR!Voldemort for my taste.
Sorry, how do we know this?
This came up in one of the previous threads: But during the interrogation we get this:
I think JoshuaZ meant we don't know for sure that Scrimgeour wasn't lying to trip Quirrell up, the way he did with the Fuyuki thing. (The fact that canonically Quirrell was in Ravenclaw argues against this, but it doesn't seem a sure thing.)
I'll go with Quirrellmort forgot he was supposed to be Quirrell for a second, and instead was just being honest.
My first thought when reading that was that they were simply falsified records.

Implied in Chapter 49, Prior Information, when Harry and Quirrell are discussing Slytherin's monster:

"Rule Twelve," Professor Quirrell said quietly. "Never leave the source of your power lying around where someone else can find it."

I think that's fully compatible with either possibility. If Voldemort studied there, then he would have reason to destroy it; to not "leave the source of his power lying around". But if, on the other hand, he didn't study there (because he was refused), then he would again have a reason to not leave a source of power lying around. (If I can't have it, no one can.)
The other hint is that
Well, I suppose the other alternative is of course that Quirrel madethe whole thing up. But if he was telling the truth I don't see any other explanation that makes much sense.

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):

But Voldemort was more Slytherin than Salazar, grasping at every opportunity.

Ch. 61 (Dumbledore):

It is too clever and too impossible, which was ever Voldemort's signature since the days he was known as Tom Riddle. Anyone who wished to forge that signature must needs be as cunning as Voldemort himself to do so.

Ch. 63 (Quirrell):

To an actor or spy or politician, the limit of his own diameter is the limit of who he can pretend to be, the limit of which face he may wear as a mask. But for such as you and I, anyone we can imagine, we can be, in reality and not pretense.

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.

True, he doesn't have the power base to openly attack anyone and everyone in the wizarding world. But Quirrell is a wizard with power dwarfing all others except Dumbledore. He could indulge as much sadism as he wants on random people in spots across the globe. If he has the appetite, he could do it. And with obliviate, he could probably arrange to have Minerva as his sex slave with minimal risk.
(Chapter 70)

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.)

Mostly true. The bayesian evidence from that is weak. However, I do think that if he did do this sort of thing, he would be less likely to raise the topic in the first place. Well, unless he's playing one level above me, in which case it would point in the direction of guilt, or he is just messing with my brain, Arrggghhhh!! Anyway, it doesn't seem to fit Professor Quirrell style. (Though like Harry, I am beginning to wonder if this whole "style" business mean anything.)

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

The response to annoyance was killing.

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.

Dementor!Harry, which I read as a representation of Voldemort

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.:

that's not Harry--

You know. About his dark side.

Although it's not absolutely definitive; Dumbledore's line in reply is

But this is beyond even that.

which argues for "he's damaged" as you suggest rather than "he's alien [and Voldemort]" as I'm suggesting.

Look at results, though. Until whatever it was happened ten years ago, Voldemort was winning the war with those tactics.
Modulo Harry, those tactics were good enough – no doubt about that. But were they optimal?
Probably not optimal if he could go back and redo from start. But sometimes "good enough" is good enough. Shifting tactics in the middle of a war, to the extent of completely changing your public persona, when a lot of the loyalty of your followers (and the fear that keeps bystanders uninvolved) depends intimately on your existing persona, would not be easy at all.

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?

4: Maybe Quirrellmort doesn't have Voldemort's abusive impulses, because Horcrux!Harry is holding onto them.

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)

What Vladimir_Nesov said. Notably: I think we were supposed to read that as: Riddle attended as an appropriate student, and then came back as Voldemort to indulge in some fun retribution (and possibly to keep others from learning his secrets)
Why is everyone 100% convinced that Voldemort is Quirrell? In my read through I would have given that outcome a very low probability because it seems too obvious and the authour explicitly makes fun of it in one of the first few chapters.

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?

  1. In canon, Quirrell could not touch Harry because he was Voldemort. In the fic, Harry and Quirrell also cannot touch.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Dumbledore identifies the Bellatrix rescue as bearing the style of Voldemort. Quirrell designed the Bellatrix rescue.

  5. 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.

  6. "Quirrell" admits

... (read more)
past voldemort seeming dumb should also clearly be at least partially the effect of the winner's narrative. (is there some name for this?)
Hindsight bias. If X happened, then X must have deserved to happen. In this case, if Voldemort failed, then our bias is to assume all Voldemort's choices must have been bad ones, and all of Voldemort's enemies' choices must have been good ones. However, this is complicated when looking at a deliberately told story, because storytellers choose stories for being what they feel are representative cases of true things. In other words, just as there's a difference between you picking a card at random and me choosing a card and handing it to you, there's a difference between you looking at a random failed politician, and me choosing to tell you a story about a particular failed politician. Thus, the original Harry Potter story represents Rowling's views about what matters, not a random selection from actual events, and so too HPMOR represents EY's views about what matters, not a random variation on the original story. None of which means hindsight bias isn't an issue - but the storyteller's bias, or accurate judgment, is also an issue. In this case, peculiarly, hindsight bias might be more likely than average, because the author of the story is trying to illustrate the challenges and methods of being rational.
I thought hindsight bias was specifically about believing something was higher probability than it really was simply because it did in fact happen. I suppose what I mean is the collection of biases which causes people to choose interpretations of their past actions that reflecting favorably upon them.
Naq gurer'f gur snpg gung Ryvrmre fnlf fb. (Edit: as pedanterrific says below.)
The answer to this question is a secret, don't decode unless you're sure you want to know: Gur nhgube fnvq fb.
I don't think HPMOR!Quirrell is Voldemort. canon!Quirrell has Voldemort's face on the back of his head (concealed by a turban). HPMOR!Quirrell does not. His head is visibly bare, although I recall there's something a bit odd about the appearance of the back of his head, perhaps as if something had been removed. This has to be a sign of something. I'm guessing that Quirrell does have or has had a piece of Voldemort in him, but it's read-only, not executable. Quirrell is in charge of himself, and is on the side of light, but his exposure to Voldemort's innermost thoughts and memories has given him a coldly accurate appreciation of what actually works.
You know the facts now, of course, but your idea is still a good one and doesn't deserve a negative karma score. Upvoted.
Or maybe it's just a departure from the original story? This Voldemort doesn't have much in common with the canon one.

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.

Quirrell had older students beat up Voldemort's enemy during class. He squashed a reporter who mildly annoyed him, cast the Killing Curse at an Auror and probably arranged to put Hermione in danger of Azkaban. Now if Voldemort were supposed to be stupid, this would still represent a change. But all of his most competent opponents say the opposite, that he seemed frighteningly intelligent. And all the old instances of violence, IIRC, served a forward-thinking purpose in addition to hurting people. (At least if you accept my interpretation of the way he treated Bella.)
Rita probably felt terror and was anguished before Quirrell crushed her. Harry was not only beaten, but made to believe that he deserved to be beaten, that he needed it. Maybe Riddle just got subtle.

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...

  1. Dumbledore believes that Voldemort is at large.
  2. And that he's probably responsible for Hermione's troubles.
  3. And that he can possess people.
  4. And that Quirrell is under heavy suspicion, both as a Defense Professor and directly in this case.
  5. And Dumbledore still looks for Tom Riddle elsewhere.
  6. And he doesn't hold the Idiot Ball (because no one in this fic does).

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.

Erm, I have to say I'm a bit horrified by some of the reviews celebrating the death of Rita Skeeter. I know I didn't exactly write her as a sympathetic character, but consider yourselves lucky that the story's tone at this point didn't allow it, or Rita Skeeter would have two daughters attending Hogwarts, and the next scene would be Professor McGonagall calling them into her office to let them know that their mother went out on an assignment and never came back. I actually wrote some of that as a possible Omake. Maybe I'll finish it later.

Another possible Omake would be the scene in Mary's Room from Rita's point of view, her slight nervousness when Professor Quirrell mentioned having sealed the room, her sudden start when Professor Quirrell talked about tiny Animagi, her relief at hearing him say he wouldn't test for it, coupled with a growing fear that he already knew and was toying with her, followed by the shock of realizing that she had, somehow, been fooled by evidence that should have been unforgeable, knowing that she had to run before Lucius found her, run as fast as possible, but she was trapped in the room, listening to the words that Professor Quirrell made Harry repeat

... (read more)

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.

Rita Skeeter deserving it and her death being a positive net utility to everyone are two very different things. I doubt, however, that her existence actually was a net negative, considering that she's simply fulfilling peoples' need for gossip, and if not her, someone else will.
Can you clarify what you mean to imply by the distinction between someone deserving death, and someone's death being a positive net-utility shift for everyone?
Certainly. If someone deserves death, that means that it is good for them to die, even if their death does not serve any further purpose. The death penalty is given to those who "deserve" to die. In order for it to be a positive net utility for someone to die, the consequences of their living simply have to be worse than the consequences of their death. If someone has a stress-induced breakdown and goes on a shooting spree, it is better to kill them than not to kill them (by killing them you are averting more deaths), despite them not "deserving" to die in any meaningful sense.

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.

Some disagree. And beware of "should" statements regarding "ethics".
This. Of course, the deontological view does have its place, specifically where it precommits to punishing undesirable behaviors even if there is no benefit to doing so after the behavior has occurred.
But would you want to "[punish] undesirable behaviors even if there is no benefit to doing so after the behavior has occurred"? I would want to pre-commit to punishing criminals after the fact if I thought this would lead to a world where the pos-util of averted crime outweighed the neg-util of punishing people, but not if there were no benefit, and I would be doing this on consequentialist grounds. (I'm basically asking if the deontological view truly "has its place' in this scenario.)
Before the person made the choice of whether or not to do the undesirable behavior, I would want to have precommitted to punishing them if they did the behavior. In the real world, punishing criminals (probably) does reduce crime. In a world where it didn't, precommitment wouldn't be a useful strategy. But it looks like we live in a world where it does.
Yes. And since we (probably) live in such a world, we can precommit to punishing criminals based on consequentialism. We don't need the deontological view for this.
I disagree with your implication that there is no benefit to punishing undesirable behaviors after they have occurred... there sometimes is. In cases where there is in fact no benefit, though, then the fact that holding a deontological view precommits me to doing so is not a reason for me to hold that view.
OK, thanks for clarifying. FWIW, I don't share your model of what it means for someone to deserve death.
Out of curiousity, what is your model?
That the consequences of their living are worse than the consequences of their death.
"Their death" is too abstract, I think. The world might be better is a person died suddenly by accident, but not better if they were killed.
Surely it's no more abstract than "deserve death"? Such a person would deserve to die suddenly by accident, but not deserve to be killed.
Interesting. Does that include the secondary effects of their deaths acting as an example and a deterrent for future undesirable behavior? Because if so, you share my view precisely (that deontology is a useful approximation of consequentialism and allows for more credible precommitment to punishment).
It does include the secondary effects of their deaths acting as a deterrent. But I don't share your view that deontology allows for more credible precommitment to punishment, except in the somewhat trivial sense that such a precommitment is more credible to observers who consider deontological precommitments more credible than consequentialist ones. That is, a commitment to punishment based on an adequate understanding of the consequences of punishment is no less likely to lead to punishment than a commitment to punishment based on deontological rules, and therefore a predicter ought to be no less likely to predict punishment from a committed consequentialist than a committed deontologist. Of course, predicters in the real world don't always predict as they ought, so it's possible that a real-world predictor might consider my commitment less credible if it's expressed consequentially. It's also possible they might consider it more so. Or that they might consider it more credible if I wear a red silk robe when I make it. Or any number of things. It's valuable to know what factors will make a claim of precommitment credible to my audience (whether I precommit or not), but that doesn't make deontology any more valuable than red robes. NOTE: As pointed out here, my use of "precommitment" here is potentially misleading. What I'm talking about is an assertion A that I will do X in the future, made in such a way that the existence of A (or, rather, the existence of other things that derive from A having existed in the past, such as memories of A or written records of A or what have you) creates benefits for actually doing X in the future (or, equivalently, costs to not doing so) that can outweigh the costs of doing X (not considering A).
Once you add TDT to consequentialism, the differences between it and intelligent deontology are pretty trivial.
Mm. Can you expand on what you mean by "intelligent deontology"? In particular, what determines whether a particular deontology is intelligent or not?
...whether it checks out as useful in a consequentialist sense... I see what you're getting at.
What do you mean by "consequentionalist precommitment"? Or are you including with like TDT and UDT in your definition of "consequentialist"?
I have no idea what might be meant by "conventionalist precommitment," nor why you put that phrase in quotes, since I didn't use it myself. Assuming you meant "consequentialist precommitment", I mean a position I precommit to because I believe that precommitting to it has better consequences than not doing so. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by your question about TDT/UDT, but in general I would agree that being known to operate under a TDT/UDT-like decision theory provides the same kinds of benefits I'm talking about here.
Thanks fixed. Of course, after you make the precommitment you are no longer a strict consequentialist.
Fair enough. Rather than talking about precommittments to X, I ought to have talked about assertions that I will X in the future, made in such a way that the benefits of actually Xing in the future that derive from the fact of my having made that assertion (in terms of my reputation and associated credibility boosts and so forth) and the costs of failing to X (ibid) are sufficiently high that I will X even in situations where Xing incurs significant costs. Correction duly noted. Boy would I like a convenient way of referring to that second thing, though.
Killing Skeeter is about the only truly questionable action of Quirrellmort that I can remember. Even here, I find it hard to hold it against Quirrell. Rita made a career of libeling others, blithely unconcerned about the harm she caused to their lives. In fact, she seemed rather smug and self satisfied about exercising that power. Quirrell even confronted her and asked her to stop. She had a chance and chose not to take it. She was destroyed in the act of her preferred crime by the person she intended to harm. I suppose I have a bit of Quirrell in me. He takes a grim satisfaction in the poetry of citizens being destroyed in the same prisons they demanded be built. The word for that is justice. A harsher justice than I'd want to seen meted out, but justice nevertheless. I wouldn't have squashed Skeeter, but I can't condemn Quirrell for it either. And yes, Skeeter likely had children who would miss her. Just as good people have some bad, bad people have some good. Recognizing that the world is not black and white shouldn't stop you from seeing that some grays really are darker than others.

I suppose I have a bit of Quirrell in me. He takes a grim satisfaction in the poetry of citizens being destroyed in the same prisons they demanded be built. The word for that is justice. A harsher justice than I'd want to seen meted out, but justice nevertheless. I wouldn't have squashed Skeeter, but I can't condemn Quirrell for it either.

I would just like to point out the unintentional irony in that paragraph.

I'm afraid I can't spot it. Could you point it out for me?
Is probably precisely the rational people used when demanding the prisons be built.
Thank you, that makes it very clear.
Was it Quirrell or Voldemort who wiped out the martial arts school?
I don't think we have sufficient evidence to conclude that anyone did. All I witnessed as a reader was Quirrell telling a story that he used to make an ideological point. Why should I believe that story is true? This is a point I've made elsewhere. What convincing evidence does the reader have of any of the horrific deeds of Voldemort/Quirrell?
The fact that his death is remembered as a national holiday seems pretty convincing evidence that he at least did something naughty.
That evidence is about as convincing as Christmas convinces me Jesus did something good. However, because the figure Voldemort is not historical but a very recent event practically everyone in the wizarding world affirms to have existed and have been responsible for murders, then we have to choose between the alternative theories that practically the entire wizarding world has been deluding into believing the false story of the Dark Wizard Voldemort or else there was some Dark Wizard Voldemort. My assessment is that it is more probably Voldemort existed, and was responsible for evil deeds.
If Christmas had been celebrated when Jesus was still a child, instead of being invented to undercut a pagan holiday three centuries later, I would actually regard that as pretty strong evidence.
A national holiday merely indicates that whatever system institutes holidays (in this case the government of magical Britain) has been convinced there is cause for a holiday. I consider this to be rather weak evidence. For example in the United States the 2nd Thursday in April is "National D.A.R.E. Day" but this doesn't convince me that the D.A.R.E. program does more good than harm. (though it may) If there were a national holiday celebrating his death and no other evidence I would not have enough information to judge Voldemort's life.
Yes, but it would be sufficient evidence to strongly imply that drugs exist, and that people regard them as bad.
Sure "National D. A. R. E. Day" means that the politicians who created the day believe that drugs exist and likely they regard them as bad. That D. A. R. E. actually exists means there is a wide community of people that believe or act like they believe likewise. If this was the ONLY evidence of drugs existing I would have reason to be skeptical of the existence of drugs. Really most any single artifact of a wide phenomenon, taken completely in isolation, would be only weak evidence of the phenomenon's existence. Drugs, Jesus, Dark Wizards, Ghosts or Gravity, I think if we only saw one of the many effects that each predicts then we would have a good reason to doubt the reality of the phenomenon. Therefore I now believe it was unwise of me to take your comment that singled out one artifact of the Voldemort phenomenon (the holiday) and point out that taken by itself it was not strong evidence of his existence. Looking at it now, my comment appears to have the structure Daniel Dennett calls "a deepity": in so far as what I said was true, it was trivial and in so far as what I said was profound it was false.
wait, Quirrel killed Rita? Can any of you quote that part for me? I can't believe I skipped this one.

wait, Quirrel killed Rita?

Squished her like a bug.

See Chapter 26:

Nestled up against the wall, where Professor Quirrell had stumbled, glistened the crushed remains of a beautiful blue beetle.

(The stumbling happened earlier in the same chapter, Quirrell covered it though, feigning dizziness.)

Squished her as a bug.
There's a lot of stuff in the fic that's explained only indirectly, leaving the reader to infer the truth - the Pioneer Plaque horcrux; Malfoy's belief that Harry is Voldemort; that Dumbledore is partially responsible for the potion that cleared up Petunia's appearance; the solution to Rita Skeeter's mistaken evidence (though that was made explicit recently); Skeeter's death; the self-serving nature of Quirrell's "strengthening" of Harry (learning to lose, inability to testify under veritaserum, rescuing a former minion, etc); the list goes on...

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.

I don't think anyone in HPMOR is "just evil". Just like no one is "just good".

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.)

This is not a problem. Dementors are also not particularly cunning; there are other players.
I think I viewed them more as forces than people. But is this WOG against the people pedanterrific refers to in this comment?
Against? How could a thing be pure evil if it's controlled by people's expectations of its behavior?
I'm confused. I may misunderstand you. Your second sentence seems to support that it would be evidence against, but I read your first as incredulous of my question. ETA: Nevermind. I understand now. I did not phrase my question well. I meant WOG against the people that you are disagreeing with in the comment.
When you said this, did you mean my theory of independent decision making, or what I referred to as Harry's initial hypothesis?
I've edited my initial query to make it clear.
I don’t think Eliezer meant that they’re necessarily sapient, only in the sense that one might say “slavery is evil” or (closer to the point) “death is evil”.
It's possible Quirrel will use Bella to perform an evil deed in the future. But breaking her out was, in itself, not evil.
Well, considering Quirrell is in custody, it can't hurt to look elsewhere. If Dumbledore doesn't bring Quirrell under heavy interrogation of his own after he is released, then I will be confused.
So the question is, does Quirrell know that the Map exists / is possible? If he does, either he's already beaten it or he can't risk ever going back to Hogwarts. If not, he's about to get caught by Dumbledore in the seat of his power while weakened. I would be a little annoyed if Quirrell's circumvented the Map- it would be way more impressive if he arranged for the Great Quidditch Reform plus Ravenclaw and Slytherin winning the House Cup from outside Hogwarts.
Edit: I am wrong. What will Quirrell display as on the Map? One would think that, if the Map read "VOLDEMORT", the Weasley twins would have figured it out. (There's an analogous, hilarious, inconsistency in canon; how did the twins never see Peter Pettigrew sleeping in Ron's bed?) If Voldemort did steal Quirrell's body rather than use Polyjuice, he might just appear on the map as "Quirrell".

(There's an analogous, hilarious, inconsistency in canon; how did the twins never see Peter Pettigrew sleeping in Ron's bed?)

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.)

Rowling's handwave was that, due to (iirc) worry over being discovered, they only took out the Map when they needed to scope out areas for their pranks, and then they always focused on the areas in question. They apparently never felt the need to use the Map to actually spy on anyone, and never bothered to look beyond what was needed for a prank. According to Rowling.

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.

Quite right, I completely overlooked that. However, this does raise an interesting and completely tangential question about the Map. How does it know everybody's name? What 'database' does it---or rather the enchantment that it is an interface for---make reference to? An obvious answer would be birth certificates. It is not (too) unreasonable to suppose that wizards have them too, and that the Map is clever enough to map people to their birth certificates. I have no idea how it would do this, but in any case I don't think this can be how the Map works. First, what if my birth certificate is destroyed? Of course I can get a replacement, but there will be a period in which there is nothing the Map can refer to in order to determine my name. It could 'cache' my information, I suppose. But what if a baby is born in Hogwarts? What does the Map say before the baby is named? This leads into the second, larger, problem. The enchantment that the Map is an interface for is supposed to be part of the Hogwarts security system. I've gotten the impression that Hogwarts was raised all at once by the Founders; the enchantment in question would have been cast then. 'Then' is the 9th or 10th century, according to canon. "Civil registration" of births didn't begin in the United Kingdom until 1837. Prior to that I think births were often registered with churches, but surely there were many whose names had no official status; they had 'common-law' designations (this still must occur often). So how does the Map work?

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.

That doesn't mean the Founders could do the impossible. Saying that "it just uses your name" might be true, but it doesn't tell us how it can use your name. There must be a way that it works (although it may very well be that there is no consistent way-that-it-works that can be extracted from the text). Compare this to another example in which the creator of an artifact "thought about the problem" differently: Broomsticks don't work the way we would expect them to work, because that's not how Celestria Relevo thought about the problem, but that doesn't meant there isn't a way that they work.
To clarify, what I believe is that magic works in a top-down way, not a reductionist way. If you were writing a computer program, you would have to specify where the name comes from and what to do in marginal cases. But the Founders believed that each individual came with an XML-tag name attached to them, and the map just tries to figure out that name. I realize this is an incomplete theory because it doesn't explain what the map does in weird borderline cases (although I can make guesses). I am using this theory (which we can derive by comparing the map to Harry's pouch, and to broomsticks, and to Transfiguration) to reject hypotheses that involve a reductionist, computer-program approach to magic.
The Founders may have been Truenamers, in which case each person who walked in would have a singular name attached to them.
So the Map can't find married women?
The reason Voldemort brainwashed Bellatrix was in order to marry her in absolute secrecy, unconventionally taking her last name for his own (this is also the reason she is not married to Lestrange in MoR). As a result, his name will show up as "Tom Black" on the map, and Dumbledore's "Find Tom Riddle" instruction will do nothing.
My guess is that, in the world of HP:MoR, the Simulation Argument is true. Muggle science works within the boundaries of the simulation; magic operates directly on the underlying data structures, bypassing most of the Muggle-oriented interfaces by using debugging APIs. That's why it has rules that make some sort of sense, but that don't correspond to most laws of nature as Muggles understand them. Of course, the virtual machine that powers the "reality" of HP:MoR is fairly robust, which is why magic is relatively safe (i.e., you can't crash the whole of reality with a miscast Lumos), and also why magic is not all-powerful (those debugging APIs are still fairly limited).
My original guess at why names are needed for magic was that the Source of Magic uses the names as pointers to the information in other people's heads. It's using everyone else's knowledge. This would explain why wizards can transfigure things which have been discovered but not created, like CNTs, but can't transfigure Alzheimer's cures. Sadly, this possibility would be undermined by 'Tom Riddle' appearing on the map, since almost everyone knows him as Voldemort.
Maybe it works by a registry of current and former students and faculty at Hogwarts, and people who are neither show up as "Intruder (number)" or something. In modern Wizarding Britain this would include basically everyone. I mean, if the Founders created the Map as part of the Hogwarts security system, they wouldn't have been all that concerned with putting a name on everyone who could possibly step foot on the grounds, they'd just want to be able to locate students and differentiate them from anyone else. I can't remember, did the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang delegations show up on the Map in GoF? Not that it really matters, the canon!Map and MoR!Map are different enough that it wouldn't be much evidence.
This theory, unlike the birth certificate one, can easily explain how the Map matches people with names. During the Sorting, McGonagall reads aloud a name, and the next person who puts on the Sorting Hat is assigned that name. (Assuming the Hat is hooked up to the security system, or vice versa.)
Actually, that's even better- we have a known mechanism by which (something that could be hooked up to) the Hogwarts wards can read minds to determine names. So it actually doesn't require some extraneous piece of paper or database or whatever, but on the other hand would only work on people who've been Sorted.
So no foreign professors!
I couldn't swear to it, but I thought the map showed Krum in GoF.
It's not clear. When Crouch is confessing everything under Veritaserum, he says that he saw his father entering the grounds on the Map, and so headed into the grounds to intercept him. He says something along the lines of "Then Potter came, and Krum", and it's ambiguous as to whether he sees them appear on the Map or if he sees them him person.
From a Muggle point of view, maybe. From a Wizard point of view, that's probably the least obvious answer. Your name is your name, and no piece of paper can grant it or take it away. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say that a person's name would be something like "$givenName $familyName", such as "Harry Potter" or "Albus Dumbledore". The givenName is the name your parents gave you when you were a baby. The family name is the name of your Noble House ("Malfoy", "Potter", etc.), or simply the last name which your parents share ("Granger"). This is the naming convention that (as per my guess) wizards and witches have been using since the time of Merlin, so it's reasonable to assume that the creators of the Map imbued it with the same rules. As to the question, "yes, but how does the Map compute the values of givenName and familyName for any specific person", the answer is, "Magic".
Also middle initials, apparently:
Ah, yes, good catch. Though we could probably count middle initials as part of the given name, since they are granted to the baby by its parents at the same time as the givenName... aren't they ? I'm actually not entirely sure how middle initials work in Britain.
If the world of HPMOR is some sort of simulation, as you claim, then this is true and significant; your name exists as a fixed value that can be referenced by a program like the Map. But if the world of HPMOR is more like our own, then to say "your name is your name" is pretty empty; like most everything else, there is an explanation of why your name is your name. In our world, what makes it true that we bear the names we do is not that we all have own values for the variable $name. Rather, what makes it true is some other fact; one possibility (one that I don't believe myself) is that what makes it true that my name is Alex is the fact that my birth certificate reads 'Alex'. So I think our disagreement arises from what we think the world of HPMOR is like.
I think these are two separate issues. One issue is concerned with the wizards' concept of names. The wizards who created the Map would seek to imbue it with whatever naming convention felt right to them. The other issue is concerned with how the HP:MoR universe works, and which resources the Map can tap in order to implement its functionality. These issues are somewhat related, but they aren't identical. We could very easily envision a world where names are stored on birth certificates, and yet the wizards still believe that, even if Mr. Harry Potter goes through life calling himself "Mr. Spoo", his name is still Harry Potter, because that's what his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Potter, called him. On the other hand, we could envision a world where names are stored in some underlying data structure in the simulation, and yet the wizards believe that what a person calls himself is more important than whatever name parents gave him. Or we could envision some combination of the two. That said, IMO no wizard would conceive of actually perusing the birth certificate database for anything; nor would he deliberately enchant a map to do anything of the sort. For all we know, wizards and witches don't even have any birth certificates. It's pretty likely that, even if they do have birth certificates, they don't have any centralized databases that store them; we never seen any wizard use one, IIRC, neither in canon nor in MoR. So, "how does the Map work ?" Well, it works the same way Harry's Mokeskin Pouch works: by magic.
Other than the "external database" option, the only other sources of name information I can think of are: * The mind of the person being mapped * The mind of the person reading the map * A sort of consensus of how everyone in Hogwarts knows someone I feel that picking someone's name from their own mind seems the most elegant and consistent. It doesn't handle babies (Before the parents choose a name, can a baby even be said to have one? Babies would have to be special-cased regardless), but it does allow arbitrary people to be mapped (multiple strangers being indistinguishable from each other seems like a serious flaw in a security system) and requires no external registry. On the one hand, it seems like interrogating the mind of every human is vastly more complicated than just looking up the name in a database, but to the kind of epistemology which would seem obvious to a 9th-century witch or wizard I can see it being "obvious". (And to respond to your question about Pettigrew in the great-grandparent, I would assume that the map skips over animals entirely, which would probably include animagi. This would tend to lend a slight amount of weight to my "the map displays your name as you know it" theory, as if the names came from how everyone else around you knew you there would be no reason not to include pets.) If my theory is true, it raises an additional interesting question: Is it possible to obliviate yourself selectively so that you lose all knowledge of your own name? (Possibly storing the memories in a pensieve first so you can recover them later) And if so, is the map the only piece of the Hogwarts security system which might be impeded by this? A further idea: Professor Quirrel is shown to take a very loose approach to identity and names ("Identity does not mean, to such as us, what it means to other people.") Possibly Quirrelmort is the constant error, not because his name is wrong, but because he doesn't have a name attached to his marker at all.

And to respond to your question about Pettigrew in the great-grandparent, I would assume that the map skips over animals entirely, which would probably include animagi.

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.

In Quirrell's case, he may be a powerful enough Occulumens to prevent the Map from reading his mind and so learning his name (if your theory is correct).
I'm not saying this is true. But I hope it is because it would be awesome.
Possibly "Tom Riddle".
Is he really ? It seems to me like he's merely enjoying some R&R. Once he's done relaxing, he will Obliviate (or possibly just annihilate) the Auror, get up from his chair, stretch, and warp out of that room to the next destination on his agenda.
And we heavily suspect that once Quirrel returns to Hogwarts, the Marauder's Map will show Dumbledore Tom Riddle's name next to his location...
I don't.

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.

3Joshua Hobbes
I think things could end up worse than that. Harry's solution, whatever it may be, could well tip off Lucius that he is not in fact Voldemort. And once he's got Hermione out, Lord Malfoy would go after this first-year hard, before he can grow up. A few threats to a few parents and Harry and Hermione will find themselves seized by five seventh-years and portkeyed to Malfoy Manor.
But Harry is in fact Voldemort - in a certain unconscious sense. Lucius decided that he is Harrymort because of Harry's reply to Quirrel's Christmas speech, but he would never have thought about it if the preexisting Harry Potter - Voldemort connection had not brought the hypothesis to mind. And that connection, the hints that make up the real majority of the evidence for the Harrymort hypothesis, is made of true evidence. If Lucius now came to disbelieve in Harrymort, he would not be discarding a completely false hypothesis.
Maybe the reason McGonagall knew that Dumbledore was behind the Santa Claus portkey is because only the headmaster could create a portkey that would work inside the Hogwarts wards. Quirrell took Harry outside the wards in order to portkey him to Diagon Alley. Your point still stands though because there are surely other things that they could do.
Edit: Wow, did I do that?
Then again, Snape didn't realize that just from hearing about the portkey. This theory's probably inaccurate. Retracting as per pedanterrific's comment.
Rationality is the technique that turns motivations into plans. It is not a technique to generate motivation, except very indirectly.
Hmm I don't think that's a very good description. Rationality means setting rational goals to accomplish what you actually want, and then understanding the world around you and yourself well enough to systematically and logically accomplish those goals. It would certainly include studying yourself to understand how to generate motivation.
That sounds circular to me. That sounds like turning motivations (i.e. goals) into plans. Indeed, as an indirect step.
The adjective ‘rational’ is just superfluous there; the grandparent should simply remove it.
"Rational," as an adjective for goals, typically means something like "internally consistent" or "long-sighted" or "wise," and so in general "rational goals" and "goals" mean different things. In a definition for rationality, though, it's inappropriate.
I didn't mean that it was superfluous in front of ‘goals’ but that it was superfluous in a definition of ‘rationality’, so we agree about that. And Pringlescan's definition makes sense if it's removed.
If you're defining rationality as the definition given on this site, you're right. If you're defining rationality as the thing that's actually discussed on here, you're not.
They could use some more sequences on how to motivate yourself, if I recall there was one written by lukefrog but it wasn't very good.
What do you claim would be a good definition for rationality as actually discussed?
How to think clearly.
Deconstruct that, it means little