Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 28, chapter 99-101

by palladias1 min read12th Dec 2013368 comments


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This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 99, 100, and 101The previous thread is at nearly 500 comments. 

There is now a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.) 

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.

Also: 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  13,  1415,  16,  17,  18,  19,  20,  21,  22,  23,  24,  252627

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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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"Tell me, son of Lily, do the Muggles in their wisdom say that soon the skies will be empty?"

Interesting tie-in to:


So the centaur and Trelawney seem to be reading from the same playbook. Any guesses to who the centaur approached sixteen years ago and what lines he crossed? Seems like a plausible time to be Lily, no? Could possibly be the payoff to this from Chapter 1:

"...And I begged her to use some of that magic on me so that I could be pretty too, even if I couldn’t have her magic, at least I could be pretty.”
Tears were gathering in Petunia’s eyes.
“And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to – the most ridiculous things, and I hated her for it."

“There is nothing above the folly of men,” whispered the voice from the emptiness. “There is nothing beyond the destructive powers of sufficiently intelligent idiocy, not even the stars themselves.

“The Sun is very large, after all; I doubt the Dementor would have much effect on it. But it is not a test I would like to try, Mr. Potter, just in case.”

“Is the Sun still in the sky?” said Professor Quirrell, still with that strange gentleness. “Is it still shining? Are you still alive?”

The destruction of the sun is a recurrent theme with Quirrell.

[-][anonymous]7y 17

the world would end if she were nice to her sister

Plausible, if her being nicer to her sister is why Harry got the upbringing he did instead of the canon one.

Via: "Lily is nice to Petunia" -> "Lily makes Petunia prettier" -> "Petunia ends up with Michael and not Vernon" -> "Harry learns science instead of ptsd".

0HungryHippo7yIt's even worse if one believe that Harry is Harry!Mort.

"...The stars themselves proclaim your innocence, ironically enough."

9ygert7yThis seems to be the case. It all ties together to nicely not to be. Sixteen years ago, Firenze (I assume that is who the centaur is, from his views and attitudes) told Lilly that "the world would end if she were nice to her sister", based on the same prophecy based on which he tried to kill Harry: One that was similar to the one Trelawney made. Remember also the twice-repeated wave of prophecies over the world, despite the fact that we are told that disturbances in time are never enough to cause more than a single prophecy. It would make sense that if any prophacy could be of such import, it would be one about the end of the world.
6drnickbone7yWhat puzzles me about this: * The centaur foresees that Harry is "the end of the world" * Quirrell has also heard that Harry is"the end of the world" * Quirrell is really afraid of this (it's the only credible threat to all his horcruxes) * The centaur is conveniently about to kill Harry But then Quirrell saves Harry's life. Why? Is the only reason because Quirrell has already seen future Harry in Chapter 100 (under the cloak), so knows that Harry has to make it out alive somehow, so he might as well do the saving?

If Quirrell wanted Harry dead, he would kill him. Even without being able to use magic against him directly, there are plenty of ways for him to do it.

I think Quirrell still wants or hopes something from Harry. Maybe it's just that Harry needs to be still alive for the "blood, bones, flesh" rituals, but I think it's something much more specific, linked to Harry's dark side and why their magic can't interact.

6Tedav7yPersonally, I think Quirrell killed Hermione, in the hopes of getting Harry to actually figure out how to defeat death - something no one else has ever done. The reason he was happy when he heard the prediction that Harry would break the Universe is that this was near-confirmation that Harry would be successful. In short, here is my version of Quirrell's plan: 1) For deniability reasons, be anti-resurrection from the start, and horribly worried about what Harry will do - tell Harry this 2) Kill someone Harry won't allow to stay dead (Hermione) 3) Become convinced by Harry to help with the plan - provide magic knowledge he doesn't have access to on his own 4) Use any means necessary (Unicorn blood) to stay alive until Harry is close to success 5) Harry is now the solution to whatever is slowly killing you
2Velorien7yThat is the exact opposite of how he reacted. His attitude after hearing the prophecy can be summed up by his words to McGonagall, which are consistent with everything he does thereafter:
1Tedav7yI would say that his request to McGonagall is consistent with my theory - he knew that her attempts to stop Harry would have the opposite effect. I am guessing that Quirrell has some alternate interpretation to the prophecy. One possibility for this is "The End of the World" corresponds to an change to the natural order that makes the world unrecognizable, such as the removal of mortality. It is possible that instead of burning up his own life to destroy all the dementors or defeat death, Harry could burn up some stars, which could explain the rest of the prophecy. I'm not saying that I am correct, but I still see no actions that are inconsistent with my theory. I think part of the confusion is that we are interpreting the punctuation differently. I don't interpret your second quotation (first quotation from the text) as meaning that he was happy, until interrupted by hearing the prophecy, but rather that the prophecy was the reason he had smiled.
1Velorien7yRegarding the sequence of events, here's how it goes: (quoted from hpmor.com rather than the .pdf this time for greater accuracy) I really don't see how you can get any sequence of events out of that other than "Trelawney is about to make prophecy -> Quirrell analyses Harry's emotions and is happy with what he finds -> Trelawney makes prophecy". Quirrell doesn't even get a full stop at the end of his thought before the quote marks open for Trelawney to speak.
0Tedav7yFair enough. I must admit, this makes my theory less likely, but I still don't see your reading as the unambiguously correct interpretation, but I will freely cede that it look plausible that it is an interrupt, not an elaboration. This may, in part, stem from the fact that I am a big proponent of using "-" in my writing, and my usage is somewhat nonstandard. Even if that is right, I don't think it rules out my guess about Quirrell's plan, but again, I'm significantly less confident now.
3drnickbone7yNot strictly true: if Quirrell both wanted Harry dead and was able to kill him then he would kill him. It seems to me we have to consider two hypotheses, each of which is problematic:. 1. Quirrell can't kill Harry 2. Quirrell can kill Harry, but Harry is so supremely valuable that Quirrell is willing to risk the destruction of the whole universe (including himself, and all his horcruxes) to keep Harry alive. Both hypotheses contain a puzzle. If Quirrell is unable to kill Harry, why is that? (One guess: his offering to spare Harry in exchange for Lily's life created a binding dark ritual, and Quirrell can't get out of it.) Alternatively, if Quirrell is able to kill Harry, what exactly makes Harry so supremely valuable? Using Harry in a resurrection ritual, or as a puppet ruler of magical Britain, don't seem to be high enough value when measured against the risk, do they? My initial thought was that Chapter 101 provides evidence against 1 and in favour of 2: if Quirrell's problem is an inability to kill Harry, then Quirrell could just let the centaur do the job instead. But then, the Time-Turner evidence means that Quirrell already knows that the centaur's attempt will fail anyway, so he might as well stop it himself (and stay in Harry's favour). I still don't think we can rule out hypothesis 1.
2bramflakes7yQuirrell said he considered killing Harry at some point, so there are 3 possibilities: 1) he's lying, 2) there is a dark binding ritual that he doesn't know about, or 3) there is no dark ritual. Considering his knowledge of dark rituals we can rule out number 2, and since there isn't a clear reason why he'd tell this specific lie, I'm going to go with 3. If Quirrell doesn't want Harry dead then obviously he'd stop the Centaur, and if he does want Harry dead, he wants to do it on his own terms, with nothing left to chance and no loose ends, so again he'd stop the Centaur.
4linkhyrule57yOr 4) He considered it, and discarded it because of a dark binding ritual.
3drnickbone7yQuirrell might have been referring to his initial plan (as Voldemort) to end Harry's life back when Harry was a baby. Quirrell/Voldemort could not have known about a dark ritual then, because he hadn't created it. I still don't think the "dark ritual" hypothesis is very strong, because I can't see why Quirrell would have done it deliberately, so it happened accidentally. It's not clear whether "accidental" dark rituals are even possible in the HPMor universe, but if they are, Quirrell ought to be more careful to avoid them.
3Gurkenglas7yWe have an outcome pump on our hands that says that Harry is going to tear apart the stars. He can do that for better or worse reasons, and with a better or worse outcome. Quirrel thinks that a Harry that isn't crippled by a centaur (since Quirrel already knows Harry won't die) has a better chance of producing a good outcome than another Harry. Remember that he offered in chapter 95 to read some of his science books and speaking of what comes to mind (...about a month ago. Why isn't Harry omnipotent yet? When I read that Quirrel's suggestion, I thought the rest of the story would have to be squeezed in the time it takes Quirrel to regain sentience.)
2shokwave7yIt seems plausible that Quirrel read the science books and isn't going to tell Harry anything reality-breaking, since he did a similar thing with the library - after telling Harry that Memory Charms are just filed under M, he says he's going to put some of his own special wards on the restricted section.
2Dentin7yIt could always be possible that Quirrel's "special wards" happen to let Harry through more easily, or allow Harry to browse the section more covertly, though I'd put odds of that fairly low given his mention of the situation to Minerva.
0Gurkenglas7yWhile I didn't realize Quirrel might be lying about his willingness to cooperate, the Memory books aren't in the restricted section and we haven't heard anything about him sabotaging Harry's attempts at taking over the universe since chapter 95 (except for some sort of deception in 100/101... "what a fiasco" is not something you would hear Quirrel say to himself audibly and honestly). Maybe he was in Zombie mode until 99? We wouldn't know, since we weren't in Harry's POV since 2 days after that chapter, although in his shoes I would have attempted contacting Quirrel as soon as possible.
0Velorien7yWhile both the former and the latter are entirely plausible things for Quirrell to do, it is also worth noting that Quirrell would happily play the Role of a concerned tutor before McGonagall at this time. It would make her trust him more at a time when he may need to use her and other teachers on short notice to fulfil his own objectives, even if he doesn't intend to do anything about the Restricted Session at all.
2Decius7yIf Quirrell can't solve the problem of future Harry seeing and hearing someone that he thinks looks and sounds like himself, he isn't the dark wizard we deserve.
0[anonymous]7yWhy everybody believes that centaur wanted to kill Harry ? It rather seems like centaur was disarming him. And it is even possible, he was under imperius curse (from Quirrel) while disarming Harry. He seemed to be surprised about what he was doing (looked up with widened eyes) and he apologised. I believe Quirrel just wanted to interrupt the conversation between Harry and Centaur.
0SyncHole7yAs a thought, maybe - possibly - Quirrell anticipated the possibility of point 4 (Centaur.) It might be an effective way to make Harry look at his current goals (and their potential repercussions) from another perspective. I wouldn't think the anticipation would be that the encounter was certain, but if it were considered possible...
0buybuydandavis7yThe final book in Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant Series has a theme of the stars disappearing and the end of the world as well. Anyone read it and sees a tie in? I'm only a few chapters in.
0ChrisHallquist7yWow. So, now it's pretty unambiguous that Harry is going to completely remake the universe somehow. The only question that remains is: does this go well?
0HungryHippo7yOne way Harry can fulfill the prophesy of tearing apart the very stars in heaven is to somehow send the whole universe back in time far enough to reverse stellar formation. Not sure how to fit the "end of the world" part, though.
8gjm7yI suppose it doesn't, strictly, say which end.

Premise: Quirrell plays the game one level higher than Harry Potter.

Observation: This entire incident is uncharacteristically sloppy. Why were the unicorn corpses found? Why was Quirrell discovered?

Observation: Harry Potter is now really pissed off that herds of unicorns to slay aren't standard procedure for stable-izing people with life threatening injuries. He has just been given another "if only" to fixate on. It has been brought to his attention in ways that wouldn't trip his "why am I being told this" sense.

Father had told Draco that to fathom a strange plot, one technique was to look at what ended up happening, assume it was the intended result, and ask who benefited.

Hypothesis: Reminding Harry that there were ways the wizarding world could have saved Hermione was the primary effect. Possible secondary effects may include impressing on Harry just how ridiculously powerful he is. Perhaps implanting the desire to save Quirrell into Harry's mind? Quirrell may not actually need the blood right now, though I suspect it doesn't hurt.

5Desrtopa7yI don't think knowing that unicorn blood has uses which may not be properly exploited by wizarding society changes his opinion of wizarding society much anyway. It's kind of a straw on a logpile. I think it's more likely that Quirrell's planned reveal to Harry was his impending mortality (which, considering the horcruxes and the spell which can restore him to his original state, is probably not so unavoidable as he implied.)

(which, considering the horcruxes and the spell which can restore him to his original state, is probably not so unavoidable as he implied.)

While he's certainly determined to make Harry believe he's going to die ("this is the last time I will be able to do this for you"), it is likely he is lying for a couple of additional reasons. The man obsessed with not dying, prepared to tear his very soul to shreds to stay alive, has

a) been trying to prevent Harry from seeking a way to bring back the dead, and

b) been doing so purely as part of an effort to save the world - which he has no reason to care about unless he expects to remain in it.

0buybuydandavis7yIf Quirrell is going through time by using up bodies and moving to new ones, applying a bring "back from death" spell to a former host might force him back to his previous used up body.
3pjeby7yI don't think unicorns are actually kept in stables, despite their horse-like anatomy. ;-)
1hairyfigment7yRelated point that I haven't seen: chapter 100 increased the probability that Harry would bring any clever idea for defeating death straight to the Defense Professor. I like to think that 101 decreased it again, and that Harry might have talked to Draco about those false memories (thereby learning that Quirrell couldn't make guilt feel real). But we'll see.
1ChristianKl7yHermione was dead before she could have killed a unicorn and drank it's blood.
1kilobug7yDepends exactly how it works. Is someone dead when the heart is stopped, but can still be restarted ? What happens if someone is forced fed unicorn blood (and the unicorn dies in the process) just after cardiac arrest, but when no damage is done to the brain yet ?
1linkhyrule57yBy the time a capable wizard (Dumbledore) was on the scene, Hermione was dead. I doubt there's anything unicorn blood can do that phoenix tears can't, so.

I'd think that unicorn blood has unique properties on phoenix tears.

Otherwise Quirrel would be tracking down Phoenixes and... showing them the first 5 minutes of 'Up' or something.

9TobyBartels7yYes. "Up" was a fairly good movie, but it doesn't hold a candle to the short film that constituted its first 5 or 10 minutes. That should have won an Oscar.
4Gunnar_Zarncke6yHere it is [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y4_BivnrwM]
0TobyBartels6yI prefer the original audio, but that might be too much to hope to find on YouTube.
4Baughn7yI could rewatch Up, except that doing so would require rewatching the first ten minutes. And I can't do that.
0TobyBartels7yI know that you're probably not serious but … you can always skip that part. You already remember what happens.
0keen7yDoesn't this plan seem rather risky if the primary benefits are so limited? On the other hand, now Quirrell has a way to convince Harry to help him get the Philosopher's Stone, or to consider leaving Hogwarts in spite of the danger to help him with a "life-saving ritual". On the other other hand, telling Harry about these life-saving methods could just make him angry that no one mentioned them with respect to Hermione.
0buybuydandavis7yAnother effect - Harry's now thinking about the power of unicorn blood to keep people alive.
0ygert7yIntresting. I do think that Quirrell needs the blood, but tipping his hand this way did seem to have those effects on Harry, and I would be very surprised if that was unintentional on Quirrell's part.

I know Harry is just a kid, but his reaction towards unicorns don't seem very rational to me. Remember, Harry became vegetarian for a while when he was afraid animals could be sentient. And now, he speaks about massively killing unicorns, magical creatures whose sentient status isn't very clear (like with phoenix), for a "temporary" stop of death at a cost of "permanent side-effects", without inquiring how temporary temporary is, what are those side-effects, and how sentient unicorns are. Without measuring those three parameters, there is no way to know if utility(killing unicorns in St Mungo) is positive or negative.

I think it's less that Harry is a kid right now and more that he's specifically extra-freaked out than usual by perma-death at the time. Plus the Quirrel Distortion Field is keeping him from ever seriously considering anything Quirrel does as really evil.

9Ishaan7yExcept for its attraction to innocence, there's no particular reason to think that the unicorn is more sentient than a horse, is there? Did I miss something important in the story?
4Desrtopa7yI don't think there's any particular evidence in the story which bears on the intelligence of unicorns, save for the fact that some non humanoid magical creatures such as acromantulas are much smarter than their mundane kin. This alone should be sufficient to raise it to the point of being worthy of consideration. Here's another possibility which Harry failed to consider; the side effects of drinking unicorn blood may in fact be worse than death, not for the individual, but for society, if it does something like permanently compromising the recipient's morality. Quirrell is already amoral enough not to care, but if Hermione had been saved with unicorn blood, she might have come out like Demented Harry. It might not be the sort of thing which is obviously likely enough to be worthy of consideration in his position, but the way Dumbledore described in in the original canon, I think suggests it as a distinct possibility.
0Velorien7yI would say that "living a cursed half-life" sounds more detrimental to the individual than to wider society. And in general, the limited discourse we hear ("you have slain something innocent to save yourself") sounds more like that of punishment than corruption to me.
2Desrtopa7yI always interpreted it as more of a corruption effect; a cursed half-life sounds to me like something where you lack various things that people consider important elements of being alive, perhaps things like taste and touch, perhaps also things like empathy.
0kilobug7ySo did I, in canon, I imagined unicorn-blood-drinking to be somewhat like horcrux, ripping you of the ability to love, feel empathy, ... and that's what Dumbledore and others consider "half life". It's an hypothesis that is worth probing before just saying "oh let's farm unicorns".
2Velorien7yMakes you wonder if anyone has ever tried to research magics that restored someone's empathy etc., or gave it to people born without. Somehow, I doubt it.
0Sheaman37737yIt's likely observation bias, but the whole of the wizarding society seems to lack empathy; I join you in doubting that much research on the subject has been done.
4[anonymous]7yThat's true, but unicorns are immortal, and they have to be killed in order to give a human a few more years of life. Presumably some number of horse-years are worth a human-year; horses aren't quite so negligibly intelligent that the life-value of infinite horse-years converges to zero.
1somervta7yperhaps, but the unicorns don't actually have infinite life-spans.
1Alsadius7yWell yes, because people keep vamping on them.
2MathiasZaman7yI don't think you did and neither was there anything in canon about this. Unicorns are about as sentient as any other magical animal. The taboo of killing unicorns stems from the bad effects it has, rather than the sentience of the creatures.
2kilobug7yWell, the point is that "magical animals" have very varrying degrees of sentience - some, like acromantula are fully sentient, some like phoenix are half-sentient, the status of unicorn can't be established without some inquiry.
1kilobug7yWell, the magical world is full of sentient or half-sentient things, from house elves to phoenix. The hypothesis that unicorns are half-sentient like a phoenix can't be excluded a priori, it's something a rationalist should inquire before taking any decision. And the scope and nature of side-effects should be inquired. Harry doesn't even do the simplest inquiry, asking Quirrel about it, but jumps to conclusion with incomplete data, doesn't sound like him at all.
9Mestroyer7yHe does at least know that "temporary" is long enough and the side effects are small enough for Quirrel to consider it worthwhile.
6ygert7yHe also knows that Quirrell is totally amoral: Quirrell himself admits that he does not comprehend the thing that people call morality. Thus, he knows that Quirrell considering something worthwhile is only evidence about that thing's utility to Quirrell, not its moral validity.


I'm not generally in the habit of calling out typos, but that particular one is probably worth fixing. I think Quirrell understands mortality rather well.

3ygert7yTrue, very true. Edited.
7TobyBartels7yHe's only brainstorming now, not actually rounding up unicorns or even in a position to do so. That said, I would have expected him to go into more depth about the possible downsides, to be in character.
2buybuydandavis7yHarry has dropped the Batman code. Life is full of trade offs. Being alive and sentient trumps side effects and consuming animals, magical or otherwise.
2Desrtopa7yNot if those animals themselves are (note that sentience [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience] is not really the relevant quality here, that should actually apply to most animals above a certain level of complexity) also sapient. Considering that other magical creatures such as centaurs, goblins and house elves are known to be sapient, and animals not normally considered so, such as snakes, may become so due to magic, the prospect is certainly worth considering.
4knb7yIt's weird that you're assuming Harry doesn't know that unicorns aren't sentient. You don't know that, but Harry has already researched the known intelligent magical creatures, and he could easily know that unicorns are just magical horses that are pretty. Harry isn't even a vegetarian, of course he would be OK with someone killing unicorns to survive.
0TobyBartels7yThat's a good point (that Harry might well already know). Then I blame the author for not telling us; this should have come out in an earlier chapter where Harry was reading about unicorns, just so that the readers don't end up distracted from the story by a non-issue.
3knb7yThere was a chapter in which Harry does research to determine which animals are known to be intelligent. I don't remember if unicorns were specifically mentioned, but I think we should assume Harry already knows they are non-sentient by his lack of concern. (I guess that the new, colder Harry might actually think Quirrell's life is even more valuable than some number of intelligent unicorns--because Quirrell has a lot of extremely valuable knowledge that Harry believes might save many lives some day. But I really don't think this is what Eliezer is going for here.)
0TobyBartels7yCan anybody find this for me? I'm not having luck.
4gwern7yanimal intelligence research site:hpmor.com; first hit: http://hpmor.com/chapter/49 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/49] which is not explained in the chapter, so one looks back to http://hpmor.com/chapter/48 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/48] and http://hpmor.com/chapter/47 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/47] for the full context of Harry freaking out about talking to snakes and being carnivorous.
0TobyBartels7yThanks, I stopped looking too soon!
0RichardKennaway7ySomething else not explained there is the namecheck to Paul Breedlove's "Speak and Spell" [http://inventors.about.com/od/sstartinventions/a/SpeakNSpell.htm]. I suspect the Lady of Flying Squirrels also means something but I don't know what, although the French version of Speak and Spell was called La Dictée Magique, and one of its modules was Les Animaux Familiers.
1gwern7yJust Eliezer throwing in more allusions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squirrel_Girl [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squirrel_Girl] / http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/SquirrelGirl [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/SquirrelGirl] (this was identified in the discussions for those chapters, and Squirrel Girl actually appeared before in the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover IIRC).
0BlindIdiotPoster7yWhat leads people to even suspect that unicorns are sentient?
4kilobug7y1. Sentient is not a binary thing, but a more fuzzy ones. The sentience of apes or newborn for example is hard to quantify in a binary way. 2. Many magical creatures have a higher level of sentience than mere animals. Some are fully sentient like centaurs or acromentulas, some are half sentient like phoenix. Even magical owls or cats tend to be more sentient than their mundane counter-parts. So it really seems from 1. and 2. that the level of sentience of unicorns has to be carefully evaluated, to be able to figure out if the harm done to them would be worth a "temporary cursed" life, it depends of the values of the three parameters : how sentient they are, how "temporary" it is and how "cursed" it is.
0ygert7yThis is true. However, in his defence, I will say that he has no real idea of whether unicorns are sentient or not, and although it was remiss of him to assume they are not, under the assumption that they are not sentient it is a good plan. Yes, though. It is out of character for Harry, who has in the past done things like become vegetarian when he though that there was the slightest possibility that animals could be sentient. He was still in shock, sure, but the Harry that we know should have known to ask.

Why did Quirrell allow the unicorn corpses to be found? Why didn't he dispose of the corpse by making it disappear, instead of trying to pass it off as a predator? Would anyone notice if a unicorn vanished without leaving a corpse? ( I suppose they might, since they're medically valuable, but since unicorns are known not to have predators the predated corpse is hardly a good cover, as we saw. Vanishing the corpse would have made it take longer to notice.)

Anyway, this is one of the few times we see Quirrell's plot clearly failing without anyone actually acting to thwart him. Is it plausible that he was actually unable to kill and drink a unicorn without anyone immediately noticing?

6ChristianKl7yThe alternative is that Quirrell does want people to know that unicorns get attacked. If you want to make a magical reanimation ritual, a species that helps people on the verge of death seems to be a path to go. This whole interaction gave Harry information about unicorns.
4ygert7yHagrid would have noticed. Hagrid named each individual unicorn in the forest, and if one disappeared, he'd definitely go to Dumbledore about it.
9JoshuaZ7yDoesn't work. Hagrid says explicitly in the chapter that he's had almost no interaction with the unicorns.
3ygert7yHe did notice when one died... No interaction does not mean being unaware of their existence (or lack thereof.) Specific proof is that he knew Alicorn was dead before they found the body. He can know that the unicorns live in a place, see the signs of their passing, without actually going up to them and interacting with them.
0xian167yRight? How could he, he's not a young virgin (probably).
2Waffle_Iron7ySince school children were being used to investigate the dead unicorn it seems that passing it off as a predator worked fairly well.
2Mestroyer7yThis bothered me too. To fanwank [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FanWank] something, perhaps when near death and desparately in need of unicorn pony blood Quirrell's mental capacity is reduced.
3Ishaan7yAh, that's possible too. I was more implying that since such a mistake is implausible, it must have been intentional on Quirrell's part- for example, perhaps it was a purposefully orchestrated plot to kill Draco. (actually, now that I thought of that, it seems obvious that this is exactly what it was)
3RolfAndreassen7yHow does he arrange for Draco to go to a Silver Slytherin meeting at exactly the right time to get caught by Filch, and then for Filch to give Draco that precise detention? That's a lot of Imperiuses or other manipulation.
2Ishaan7yHe did it with hermione, no? He just needs to know about SS meeting beforehand and tip off Filch about it without linking the tip to his ID. Only one hard manipulation here, which is to suggest a specific detention.
0ikrase7yAnd that could probably be done with appropriate False Memory Charm. He's got to have a time turner.
2Mestroyer7yIf he wanted to kill Draco, why not just AK him without being seen in the middle of the forest, and not reveal that the unicorn-eater is Draco's murderer? Revealing that gives the heroes a place to actually strike back against the student-killer, which is the unicorn population.
2Ishaan7y1) Dunno, but I'm guessing it's for the same reason why he didn't just AK Hermione instead of using a troll? We haven't been told the full extent of magic useful for forensics in this story - for example, in canon there is a spell that allows you to check which spells have been recently cast, so if you find an AK'ed corpse it would be fairly simple to check everyone's wands for recently cast AK to narrow down suspects. (Not that there aren't other ways to discreetly kill, but my main point is that we as audience aren't aware of the constraints involved.) 2) Hogwarts ward doesn't operate outside of Hogwarts, and the ward pointed fingers at Quirrell for Hermione's death (presumably he possessed the troll or something). It wouldn't do for that to happen repeatedly - how many times can one use the "framing" defense? Doing it in the forest avoids the wards, the dead unicorns were a pretext for getting Draco out to the forest, and the unicorn killer identity creates a possible extra suspect, Or, are you saying that it allows the heroes to fight back by simply relocating the unicorns? That's true...which means that Quirrell doesn't think he will desperately need additional unicorn blood in the future.
1Desrtopa7yAn AK'ed corpse in particular should be pretty easy to diagnose; the total lack of any other apparent causes of death should give it away. However, there's nothing in particular to prevent feeding the corpse to any of the various horrible creatures in the Forbidden Forest.
0Mestroyer7yHmm, is the Forbidden Forest within Hogwarts wards? Because I thought the reason he didn't kill Hermione himself was so that Harry wouldn't take it seriously when the wards said that "the defense professor" killed her.
2Ishaan7yIf the wards do extend to the forest, Tracy can say she saw a dark thing which was not Quirrell kill Draco. If the wards don't extend to the forest, killing him in the forest doesn't alert the wards. The first is a motive against discreet killings, the second is a motive against doing it inside hogwarts.
0alex_zag_al7yAnd if he's going to leave a corpse, he could at least do it silently. Remember that Tracey ran towards the sound of a unicorn being attacked? That's what makes me sure that Quirrell wanted to get caught. There's just no reason for him to skip the silencing spell, otherwise. (Unless he's hiding from someone that can detect the use of magic?) I don't know how he got Tracey to approach, though.

A nausea was in his stomach, a churning sensation that, looking back in memory, seemed both like and unlike a sense of guilt, as though it had the sensations but not quite all of the emotion.

Heh, so Quirrell doesn't know what guilt feels like.

Centaur spears can block many spells, but no one tries to block if they see that the spell is a certain shade of green. For this purpose it is useful to know some green stunning hexes.

This reminds me, if you can make a homing version of the stunning spell, can you make a homing version of the killing curse? Sounds like that would be useful.

The chapter endings for 100 and 101 are a little odd. They stop very abruptly, specially 101. Usually you would get an extra sentence or paragraph to give the chapter a sense of closure.

The reason Quirell and Harry cannot interact magically is supposed to be so Quirrell cannot read harry's mind, memory charm him, confound him, or outright imperio him. But this feels a little weak to me. What's stopping Quirrell from threatening, bribing, tricking, imperiousing, etc... a third party to do it on his behalf?

And if the homing version of "Stupify" is "Stuporfy," how ridiculously twisted would AK get? "Averder Kerderber?"

Abracadabra, surely.

5[anonymous]7yAt no point does Quirrell say "I just used such a spell on this centaur". I'm not ruling out that he killed the thing, and made an inferius in front of Harry. That would explain the unusually (?) sharp sense of doom that Harry felt when he "revived" it. Also a possibility: memory charming a centaur is a lot harder, since they're only passingly similar to humans, so Quirrel had to draw more heavily on his magic, which in turn resulted in a sharper sense of doom.
4alex_zag_al7yWow, it's amazing how obvious the Inferius seems now that you've said it. I was reading another comment elsewhere on the page which claimed there must be some magical explanation for how Harry's managed to miss that Quirrell=Voldemort. And my first thought was, "yeah, he sat there with his wand on the centaur for a long time instead of just saying 'Innervate' and then 'Obliviate' and Harry still believed him". That actually seemed to me like an extraordinary thing that needed explaining. But, then I remembered: I didn't think of it. I read this chapter days ago, I've been talking about it, theorizing, and *I didn't see it. And now it seems so obvious that I look for a supernatural explanation for why Harry didn't see it? EDIT: As I brought up elsewhere, another reason Quirrell would be drawing heavily on his magic is to read Firenze's mind everything he knows about the future.
0TobyBartels7yBut you're forgetting that Harry is smarter than you! :-P
6Nornagest7yI'm actually not sure how bright Harry's supposed to be. He's not stupid, obviously. But, from a Watsonian perspective, he's leaning very heavily on rationality skills and an unusual reading list for an 11-year-old, Hermione seems to have him beat in some respects as far as raw intelligence goes, and being the smartest person in a class of a hundred and change isn't that great an achievement in the scheme of things. From a Doylist perspective, making Harry get a lot of mileage out of raw intelligence would undermine the message Eliezer's presumably trying to preach.
4Velorien7yThis doesn't matter very much, though, since we know Quirrell would not hesitate to utter a direct lie if it served his purposes.
1[anonymous]7yThat's true. Quirrell has played the "mislead without lying" game in the past though, hence I'm not ruling it out.
0avichapman7yAn increase in the sense of doom? What if Quirrel can possess many bodies at once. He created Voldi to have a villain to fight back in the olden days and then retired Voldi when he got sick of it. He periodically takes over other people's bodies for his own ends, sometimes even when he's not in his 'zombie mode'. Perhaps the variability in the sense of doom is correlated with his extra-body activities. When he takes over the body of a dead centaur, you get an increase in the sense of doom. The fact that he's not in 'zombie mode' at the same time as possessing the centaur might makes things even worse. This would mean of course that Voldimort isn't Quirrel - Quirrel is Voldimort. Quirrel isn't out and out evil the way Voldi is. He simply invented a larger than life character so that he can play the good guy. Being possessed of normal human emotions, his fondness for Harry could be real.
2[anonymous]7yI don't think inferii are possessed by their creators. Pretty sure they're just zombies that do the summoners' bidding. I always thought the sense of doom was related to how strongly Quirrel was drawing on his power.
1Viliam_Bur7yWhether Voldemort's persona was or wasn't real, the suffering caused by him was real. If I would for some reason decide to pretend that I'm Voldemort, and I would kill many people (shooting them by gun while pretending to cast Avada Kedavra), finding out this all was a disguise would prove that I'm not Voldemort, and that Voldemort's professed beliefs don't have to be my actual beliefs... but I would be a horrible person anyway.
0Vulture7yIt depends on what your reason for adopting the persona in the first place was.
0Velorien7yThen he would rule the world the day he decided to rule the world (which he did at one point, at least extending to magical Britain). A single Quirrell is among the most powerful wizards in the world. A team of Quirrells would have no meaningful opposition, even before he took advantage of the hive-mind benefits of instant coordination and reaction. That would imply that all the words and actions that portray him as a sociopath are an act for Harry's benefit. What would his motivation be in doing this?
2buybuydandavis7yThe reason for a fact of the HPMOR universe is narrative convenience for the author? Maybe so, but I've been wondering if the in universe reason is that Harry is a time turned Quirrell.
2CAE_Jones7yIn canon, Harry and Voldemort have a complicated magical relationship due to two separate spells placed on Harry due to the events at Godrick's Hollow. Harry and Quirrell's connection in HPMoR appears to be a simplified version of that.
0buybuydandavis7yIn canon, was there any reason Harry couldn't cast a spell on Voldemort?
1CAE_Jones7yIn canon, Harry only ever tried casting spells on Voldemort twice, and both times it was Expeliarmis, and in both cases, Voldemort simultaneously fired Avada Kedavra, and in both cases, wandlore ended it in Harry's favor (in the first case, it was because their wands share a common core, which may or may not be due to their magical link. This one is notable, because it prevented Harry from casting on Voldemort as much as it prevented Voldemort from casting on Harry, but without his wand, Harry was still vulnerable to Voldemort's crucio. This effect was a flashier version of what happened in Azkaban, including a light show and images of the last few people Voldemort killed climbing out of his wand.) Voldemort tried using Luceus's wand in later books to get around the wand problem, but this failed for reasons that did not seem adequately explained (something to do with wand ownership?) I expect Quirrell was using his Alder wand in Azkaban instead of Foldemort's yew, in which case the connection in HPMoR presumably recurses a level. If we use canon as a guide, if Harry touches Quirrell, it will cause them both pain (sense of doom), but to Quirrell it will do physical damage (Lilly's sacrificial protection). I expect there to be less of an imbalance in Harry's favor in HPMoR, but I didn't expect the troll or the unicorns, so my HPMoR predictions aren't so high confidence.
2CronoDAS7yHe doesn't trust a third party to do this without getting caught?
0BlindIdiotPoster7yiirc, that spell wasn't homing, it just turned to the side at the end.
0Velorien7yBut the side it turned to was the side necessary to hit its original target. Given that spells have some sort of natural AI (like the enchantment on Harry's pouch), and that basic wanded magic is just a matter of triggering a pre-defined effect by saying an incantation while moving in the right way, it seems more likely that the spell was intelligent enough to change direction to hit its target than that Harry pre-programmed it with that specific directional change during casting.
0ikrase7yIDK. Moody suggests that the spell might already be mildly homing or at least very easy to target.
2Velorien7yIn canon at least, the protagonists do nothing but dodge Avada Kedavras in a number of confrontation scenes. It has to be that way, because no Death Eater would be stupid enough to use anything but Avada Kedavra on a target they weren't trying to take alive, and most characters had enough plot armour not to die in a random firefight.
2kilobug7yDoesn't AK use more magical energy than a simple stun ? Or just require longer to cast ? "Avada Kedavra" is longer to say than "Stupefy" or "Expelliarmus", at least.
1Velorien7yBut it is unblockable and precludes the target being revived in the first case or recovering their wand/grabbing someone else's/running away in the latter. In particular, HPMOR makes a very big deal out of any decent wizard being able to put up a dozen different shields, sometimes all but instantly, so unblockable spells are an extremely big deal.
0ikrase7yIn HPMOR, it also penetrates at least some thickness of cover, according to Moody, who also suggests that it does need significant mana. (How much mana? I'm getting the impression that Stupify is acceptable for Auror-level combat despite being castable by top first-years.) It also cannot be countered. We don't see much of countering in HPMOR, but we do see Susan try to counter an extremely powerful bully's spell in the SPHEW.

Nothing specifically to do with these chapters, but it's only just occurred to me: Is it supposed to be significant that the initials of Potter-Evans-Verres are also the start of "Peverell" (indeed, you can get more if you take a few more letters of "Verres")? It seems a rather superficial observation, but "Verres" is a really unusual surname and it would be nice to have an explanation for why Eliezer chose it.

4drethelin7yI think there's a good chance Eliezer started writing before he read any of the books that have the name peverell in them?

Peverell -> Potter Evans Verres Quirrel?

Yay pattern matching.

-1somervta7yPEVQ? erell = rrel? Doesn't really work.
0TobyBartels7yAFAIK, he still hasn't read them, but he should have read ABOUT them before beginning.
2CAE_Jones7yEliezer mentioned in a past discussion where he got the name Verres. Iirc it was a reference to someone/something, though I don't remember who/what. (This falsified my standing hypothesis at the time, which was that EY got the name from Latin for "truth".)
9sketerpot7y"Verres" came from combining "Vassar" and "Herreshoff". Here's the thread you're remembering. [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bto/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6hes]

This isn't a particularly bad thing, but I must say, chapter 100 was perhaps the most self indulgent this story has had yet.

1somervta7yTto whom is it indulgent? Harry, Eliezer, or the reader?

I would say Eliezer. Introducing another event from the first year of school and subverting it utterly. Blatantly referencing Twilight AND My Little Pony (to the point of bending canon for its inclusion) AND a Methods or Rationality fanwork AND an obscure math program AND Several other cameos sprinkled throughout.

2NancyLebovitz7yDoes it matter for this discussion that MLP canon unicorns are sentient?

Lets talk about chapter 99.

Chapter 99 was there for a reason. I think the most likely reason is to emphasize the 10 days later. Chapter 98 was April 20, and chapter 100 was May 13. For some reason EY wants the first attack to happen on April 30. This could be because QQ only needs to drink the blood every couple weeks. However, why not just make the first unicorn found on May 12 and have no chapter 99? This would make more sense. I would expect the forest to be searched immediately afterwords. This is empathized further in chapter 100:

Draco nodded; he distantly remembered hearing something along those lines a couple of weeks ago, toward the end of April.

Maybe the goal with this is to give some character a full 2 weeks to research unicorns or make a plan.

Other theories for chapter 99:

He wanted the reveal of the unicorn to fall under the Roles sequence for some reason.

He wanted to build suspense. (But then I would expect him to have posted 99 on Sunday and 100 on Wed.)

He wants chapter 99 to be written in passive voice to hide the identity of the person who "found" the unicorn.

I think that the fact that chapter 99 falls into the 'roles - aftermath' title, indicates it's relatedness. This is the consequence of the roles arc, somehow - perhaps this is Quirrell's response to the new regulations, whyever that might be.

2Scott Garrabrant7yI didn't think of that. I think that is more likely than my hypothesis. EY is telling us that the unicorn attack is a consequence of the roles arc.
9Fermatastheorem7yOr he's telling us that Quirrell is playing the role of someone who is on the verge of dying.

The Severing Charm wouldn't bring down a tree, so he'd started partially Transfiguring cross-sections through the wood.

Quirell saw that. Partial transfiguration is not the power the dark lord knows not.

0mjr7yI've pretty much assumed that cat to be out of the bag since the escape from Azkaban. Though he didn't see how Harry penetrated the wall, he could probably reason it out with decent probability. But sure, beside what Sheaman said about PT being already counterindicated, this does clinch it.
0Sheaman37737yhttp://hpmor.com/chapter/28 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/28] http://hpmor.com/chapter/86 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/86] Still, good catch.

Reddit discussion of chp 99-101, which includes a few words from the author.

Eliezer: I got the math joke.

Explanation and implementation (spoiler if you haven't spotted the joke yet): http://tinyurl.com/hpmor100mathjoke

(But this only covers the first half of the joke; I had not heard of the second half before!)

If you want to play with a (rather tame, since it doesn't always use its regeneration powers) Bucholz Hydra, here's a link for you: http://www.madore.org/~david/math/hydra.xhtml

For my part, I knew about hydra games and had forgotten the name, but the context made it fairly obvious that this was a joke about the hydra being so hard to kill that you can't prove you do it with only Peano arithmetic.

9loup-vaillant7yI have defeated the hydra! (I had to cut off 670 heads). Feels like playing Diablo.
4NoahTheDuke7y670? Lucky. I finally bested it after 1750-ish, yesterday. Once I hit 1000, I thought, "Why am I doing this? What am I proving?" and then I started clicking again.
3Vulture7y1750? I forced myself to give up and get back to work somewhere around the 6500 mark. (I had decided, somewhere around 1000 or so, to try out the strategy of preferring to cut normal rather than dire heads when possible. Maybe that's a bad idea)
1NoahTheDuke7yI worked top-to-bottom, without change. If a new branch grew higher than my previous cuts, I focused it immediately. I know there's an optimal way, but I'm not quite clever enough to think of it.
3Vulture7yWell, for this applet the optimal strategy might depend heavily on how exactly its tameness is executed, which isn't very enlightening. Edit: Derp, I tried out top-to-bottom and got it in 572. Definitely better than left-to-right or normals-first-ltr.
0Fermatastheorem7yI used top-to-bottom, but dires first on each level, and that seemed to work consistently pretty well.
3ygert7yI got it too, and I think Eliezer was vastly under confident in his estimate of the number of people who would get it: We have a very mathy community around here. In any case, I am glad Eliezer ended up including it. HPMOR is good enough to make me actually laugh out loud at least once every chapter, and the bit about the hydras was chapter 100's contribution.
4[anonymous]7yChapter 99?
0ygert7yOK, fine. But that wasn't a real chapter.
3TheTerribleTrivium7yChapter 99 made me laugh, just because I read the author notes beforehand due to how they updated in my RSS reader and was fearing something as mental as worm 27b
3lmm7yI found it jarring. Either the characters were making jokes at a very uncharacteristic time, or just saying things that make no sense; either way this derails them. It seems to be a general problem in fanfic.
0ygert7yHow come? They were not saying things that make no sense, if that is how hydras operate in that world...
-1TobyBartels7yThat (the mathematical hydras related to ordinal arithmetic) can't possibly be how hydras operate in that world. Wizards don't know ordinal arithmetic, they only go on experience, and experience would tell them that a hydra with more than a few heads is impossible to kill. The mathematical existence of success is irrelevant when it takes longer than the age of the universe.
4ygert7yThese are wizards. They can do, if not quite everything, a lot that we consider impossible or insanely hard. Maybe hydras have the magic property that they "stop time" nearby. For anyone near a hydra, time seems to freeze, at least until the hydra is dead. So if they can kill the hydra, the world pops back to normal with not a second past since the hyda attacked, but if not, they just get eaten. This is a powerful attack/defense mechanism for the hydra, as the hydra's opponent must spend eon upon eon fighting it to win, and almost all give up before then. At least, that is how I imagine Eliezer would write it if that kind of hydras appeared in canon and Eliezer had to come up with a reasonable explanation to it. Many things "don't make sense". How can dragons fly? They are to big to reasonably do so. But an intelligent author can "fix" things, and give a reasonable explanation. Eliezer did that a lot to certain things from canon, and such is the correct attitude for facing a fictional thing you deem "impossible".
0TobyBartels7yIn that case, fighting hydras is something that any decently curious Wizard should attempt as a matter of course. Even if you're spending most of your effort watching the hydra, it still gives you a long time to think. No way (unless that's part of the hydra's spell) that you're coming out of that experience the same person!
3Desrtopa7yWell over periods of time that long, you might come out of it a new person who differs from the old one by being bugfuck crazy.
0itaibn07yWell, none of the commenters explicitly mentioned the relevance of 'second order' and 'comprehend', and some gave indications they didn't notice those hidden puns. Personally, I read the author's note before the chapters themselves so I knew it was coming, but I believe I would have noticed it anyways. However, I didn't recognize the name Paris until after looking it up.
4ygert7yI mentioned that I laughed aloud at the hydra joke. the actual specific point which I laughed out loud at though, was the "second order, iterate" part. It was just so... appropriate, if out of context and only that way due to the speaker's accent.
0somervta7yOK, I got those puns, but didn't get the hydra reference (I'd never heard of them), and I spent some time trying to figure out what they were related to.
0Adele_L7yI got about 80% of the joke - I pattern-matched the description to being something like Tbbqfgrva'f gurberz, but I didn't recognize the names Paris or Buchholz.

You had to try to live the other person's entire life inside your own head, at least if you wanted to create the False Memories with less than a sixteen-to-one slowdown as you separately crafted sixteen major tracks of memory

Was this by any change a reference to Permutation City? That was 17× slowdown, but that could be explained by taking the ratio of real+simulated time. But I do not get the "sixteen major tracks of memory" then.

Far fetched, I know...

0Gurkenglas7yNah, Permutation City specifically said that slowdown was due to the best known designs for brain emulations on current hardware, and to be made less severe in due time.

It seems the entire race of centaurs have taken something of a hit - in the books, they were perfectly aware that their divination was based on one's state of mind and could easily be applied to the patterns perceived in, for example, twisting smoke from a campfire.

I wouldn't mind much - Eliezer may not even have known or remembered that - except that this is not a new lesson for the readers, and it seems a missed opportunity to talk about pattern-matching, maybe tie it in with some of the other stuff about subconscious knowledge or desires in that scene.

I'm torn between vaguely hoping Eliezer will decide to change this, and uncertainty as to whether he even reads these comments. Heck, why should he? I certainly can't write anything like HPMOR, why would he expect to get a useful suggestion from such a comment? (And it doesn't help I'm signalling incompetence with typos from this darn phone, props to TobyBartels and others for reminding me to fix them.)

It seems that your entire first paragraph -- which one might have expected to end with something explaining what it seems is true about the entire race of centaurs rather than stopping in mid-sentence.

[EDITED to note that now MugaSofer has fixed the mistake I was commenting on.]

3JoshuaZ7yI think the missing phrase from context is something like "don't know that in HPMR".
4gjm7yYes, I think so too.
2MugaSofer7yThanks! Forgot to update one end of the sentence when I changed the wording at the other.
1TobyBartels7yYes, please fix the typos! You have a good point, and it's getting lost.

We know Quirrel can't directly influence Harry with magic, but Bellatrix was broken out of Azkaban long ago and barely mentioned since. Has anyone noticed if harry is particularly more irrational/credulous in the chapters after this than he was before? Because Harry knows Quirrel can't mind-rape him he might be less suspicious than he should be of his mind being bent by Bellatrix to be less suspicious of Quirrel.

We know Quirrel can't directly influence Harry with magic

We know Harry thinks that. We know Quirrell has let him go on believing it. We have some further evidence that it's true (e.g., the business with the AK in Azkaban) but it's hardly conclusive (e.g., because blocking an Avada Kedavra is an unusual enough thing that it might have weird consequences for reasons other than interaction between Quirrell's magic and Harry).

his mind being bent by Bellatrix to be less suspicious of Quirrel

Unless there was a lot of deception going on in the Azkaban section of the story, she wasn't in a great state to do anything so subtle the last time she and Harry were in the same place. If it can be done from a distance (which most magical things in canon HP and HPMOR alike apparently can't), why single out Bellatrix in particular? There are other powerful nasty wizards around.

8Desrtopa7yIt's worth keeping in mind that even if she's completely useless for any sort of mission, Bellatrix may still be useful to Quirrell, by providing materials for the spell to restore his original body. This was discussed shortly after she was broken out; the spell would be at its most effective if the ingredients used were the most powerful of their kind; not merely the flesh of a servant, but the most faithful servant, and so on. No matter how much the story diverges from the original HP canon, it's still an option for characters to do the same things they did in the original, as demonstrated by Quirrell in the last couple of chapters. MoR Riddle still made his horcruxes, and he didn't do it for nothing.
2ikrase7yPlus she still might carry secret ancient magic that could be taught to Harry or to someone else without Quirrel needing to.
0drethelin7yI'm not saying she's doing it from a distance. If quirrel can get a troll into Hogwarts why not Bellatrix?
0linkhyrule57yEven so, it's an awfully short amount of time to get Bellatrix in any state for an infiltration mission.
4drethelin7yIn canon, Sirius Black broke into Hogwarts a few weeks after escaping from being in Azkaban after 10 years.
8Velorien7yIIRC, Sirius was able to resist the Dementors' influence because they didn't register his Animagus form properly, and thus retained much of his strength and sanity.
0ChristianKl7yTrolls have inherent magical immunity that might make it easier to slip them into hogwarts without setting off alarms.
0drethelin7ysure but Bellatrix is intelligent and not an enormous violent troll. That probably balances out?
-2BarbaraB7y"If quirrel can get a troll into Hogwarts..." It was not Quirrel, but Dumbledore, who got troll into Hogwards. In analogy to canon, Dumbledore brought a troll to Hogwards as a training device for Harry and Hermione, see the book HP and Philosophers stone. In canon the purpose was fulfilled, because the children had some sparring with troll and defeated him safely afterwards. In HPMOR, the plot is reversed, because neither Harry nor Hermione fall for this training trap. When told they should NOT go to Hogwards basement, because the troll is there, they are immune to the reversed psychology. Rather, they reasonably decide to obey and not to do the dangerous thing. They simply ignore the basement. Dumbledore makes another try later by telling Harry once more NOT to go to the basement and NOT to use the Alohomora spell to unlock the basement door. In vain again. So the troll stays in the basement for a long time, until Quirrel unleashes him, transforms him to be sunlight-immune and uses him as a weapon on Hermione.
1drethelin7yhttp://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Quirinus_Quirrell%27s_first_mountain_troll [http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Quirinus_Quirrell%27s_first_mountain_troll] also you seem to have a very shitty understanding of canon.
-2BarbaraB7yOK, I admit, maybe I do not remember canon as well as I thought. I am sure, Dumbledore made some RPG game there for Harry and company, Hermione had a mathematical puzzle there etc. Was the troll plot separate from that RPG ?
1Velorien7yYou didn't even read the wiki entry you were just linked to, did you? If you'd so much as glanced at it, you'd have seen that there was no "troll plot" beyond Quirrell using a troll as a distraction to allow him to try to get the Philosopher's Stone. If you'd further gone on to use said wiki to refresh your memory, you'd have found that there was no RPG made by Dumbledore - there was a chess game, made by McGonagall, and later the Mirror of Erised, placed by Dumbledore. The puzzle Hermione solved, meanwhile, was logic rather than mathematics. I very strongly suggest that you abstain from further discussion until you've used the wiki (or the books) to remind yourself what really happens in canon.

Not sure what to make of Harry's willingness to go to any length to preserve Quirrel. Immediate emotional reaction to the death of a 'friend'? Or change in underlying morality?

Not a fan of Twilight Sparkle dying.

We're getting less of Harry's inner narrative than we did before the troll, so it's entirely possible that he's fully aware that Quirrell is almost definitely the big bad, but still wants him to live in spite of this.

After these latest chapters, though, I'm starting to think Harry's mind is being blocked specifically from anything that would harm Quirrell directly. Quirrell's perspective in chapter 89 says that he can't influence Harry directly through their connection, but Harry's "Dark Side" might be another matter. (How did Quirrell think talking to an Inferius like he was modifying its memories would help? He knows exactly how smart Harry is!)

8NancyLebovitz7yGood point about getting less of Harry's inner narrative-- I'd been thinking I was feeling less connected to the story and wondering why because the prose seemed to be at least as good as it's been, and probably better. "Less inner narrative" gives me hope for a plot payoff, and it's much more subtle than a character explaining a plan to other characters without the details being given to the reader until the plan is acted on.
7linkhyrule57y... Huh. I didn't even consider the possibility that it might be an Inferius before now - I just assumed it was Imperius.
3loup-vaillant7yBut when you think of it, if you assume the centaur Firenze wasn't dead, Imperius is probably not the best option anyway [http://www.reddit.com/r/HPMOR/comments/1sotur/hpmor_ch_99101/cdzxra5]
2alex_zag_al7ya magically murdered and revived centaur is a big political problem, though, between Hogwarts and the centaurs of the forest. Unless this kind of thing is routine, why would he expect to get away with this? EDIT: There's also another explanation for why he took so long, which is he was in the Firenze's mind, learning exactly what the centaurs had divined.
4Leonhart7yTwilight Sparkle, specifically, is associated with stars (in FiM, the symbol of Magic generally is a six-pointed star). More meta-foreshadowing for the stars dying?
-1Luke_A_Somers7yThat wasn't Twilight Sparkle. It was a unicorn who was a reference to Twilight Sparkle.

Well, yes, in the sense that Alicorn isn't dead either, and this isn't a crossover universe with MLP (as far as I can tell). But it depends on how you interpret this.

I think something about giving unicorns in the HPMoR universe (whose only plot relevance is that valuable things can be extracted from their corpses) cutie marks skeeves me out, and makes their death that much more tragic.

Interesting, I had almost the opposite response: I thought it seriously undermined the seriousness of the chapter and gave for a very conflicting feeling.

8Vaniver7yIn the MoR universe, being able to do magic is a sign that the underlying Source of Magic recognizes you in some way. Wizards make ghosts, muggles don't; as Draco puts it, the simplest explanation for that is that wizards have souls and Muggles don't. (Suppose the soul is just some part of the self that persists that taps into the Source of Magic for computation. Then it doesn't require the physical body for computation, and Harry's intuitions about souls from "the brain makes the mind," which is true in our world but possibly not exclusively true in the MoR world, are not necessarily correct.) In the MLP universe, a cutie mark is the physical manifestation of having found your purpose in life. MLP unicorns can also do magic. If we transport Twilight Sparkle from MLP to MoR with the least number of changes (i.e. the Source of Magic recognizes her and the philosophical interpretation of the cutie mark is the same), we end up with a being who has more directly observable evidence for being morally valuable than wizards... whose only purpose (in the eyes of the story* and protagonist) is to die to extend the life of wizards. Alternatively, we assume that it's basically a horse with some magical properties, that's just colored that way as a referential joke. Then, yeah, jokes like that do decrease the seriousness of the chapter. *Originally this was "author," which is not quite fair; the primary purpose of Rita Skeeter in MoR is to be murdered by Quirrel, but as the author's note / other commentary that Eliezer almost put in McGonagall telling Skeeter's children that their mother had gone missing showed that Eliezer was modeling her as an actual person, and the same might be true for the unicorns Quirrel is murdering.
8Luke_A_Somers7yIn fact, I had both these reactions. It made it sadder but also kind of stupid.
8Velorien7yPerhaps as a result of reading Harry Potter and the Natural 20, I have problems with the various cameos in HPMOR, including this one. People who have distinctive names and characteristics are automatically marked somewhere in my mind as "important NPCs", but then there are so many of them, and so few of them actually turn out to be important, that the relevant part of my mind gets confused. It's like the literary device where you introduce a character with a lengthy background and description, only to promptly kill them off - except unless your name is George R. R. Martin, you're unlikely to do this more than once per book, whereas Eliezer's version is less extreme but can happen multiple times per chapter.

Sooo... Quirrel knows a stunning hex that looks like Avadra Kevadra?

Then, back in Azkaban, facing that auror, when Quirrel used Avadra Kevadra in an attempt to force the auror to dodge, and Harry stopped it with his patronus...

...why did Quirrel not use the green stunner, unless Quirrel actually wanted to kill the auror?

And how long will it be until Harry asks that question?

As in this comment: Probably Quirrell is lying. When he realized Harry was upset about the centaur dying, he thought fast and Inferiused the centaur and made up the bit about green stunners.

IIRC, in canon Avada Kedavra has a distinctive color not shared by any other spell.

If Quirrell is lying, then asking the question "Why not use the green stunner in other circumstances where Avadra Kevadra was used?" may lead to that lie being uncovered.

I admit I had not considered Inferius on the centaur. However, I rather suspect that Quirrell is priming Harry here; he does something (hitting a centaur with a green stunner) that looks evil, then demonstrates that it is less evil than it was. In the future, then, Harry will be more inclined to believe that Quirrell has done something less evil than it looks like he has done; he could, for example, use Avadra Kevadra on Dumbledore later (making it look like a green stunner to Harry) in circumstances where a green stunner would not be evil and then rely on Harry to prevent any immediate revenge against himself (long enough to portkey away at least).

6jefftk7yOn the other hand Quirrell, via the basilisk, has spells that are not shared with any other wizard.
1hairyfigment7yTrue (probably). The more troubling evidence includes the fact that he acted like he thought Harry would accept his first explanation, and that we saw him Obliviate Bellatrix without ordering her to forget. Plus, Quirrell uses the phrase "stunning hexes", but those don't prevent breathing (unless that really was "her last breath escaping" in chapter 33 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/33]).
1Velorien7yAlso, recall that Eliezer hasn't read all the HP books. We can't have 100% confidence that he is aware of any given fact that is true in canon.
1Muskwalker7yIn MOR, though, "green light the exact shade of the Killing Curse" is a spell first-year Draco can cast (ch47).
9Tenoke7yPresumably, an Auror knows more about hexes than a centaur.
7buybuydandavis7yBut an auror's shields might be able to block a green stunning hex, and might be able to tell the difference between the two hexes prior to that regardless.
4JGWeissman7yWhat do you think you know about which spell Quirrell used, and how do you think you know it?
0CCC7yI think Quirrel used a powerful killing curse. I think that this is the case mainly because I don't think a stunner would have had as much effect on a patronus as the spell which Quirrel used; also because, even when facing a significant decline in his reputation in Harry's eyes (in hostile territory) Quirrel did not think to try to claim that it was a green stunner, leading me to the tentative conclusion that Quirrel had not thought of a green stunner at that time.
2ChristianKl7yQuirrel could have learned the spell after the endeavour. On the other hand Quirrell is probably lying.

Harry thinks every death is a horrible tragedy. So, wouldn't he want to bring back everyone in the past as well? Make their deaths "not happen"? So he goes back in time to Atlantis, to arrange a self consistent history where no one has in fact died, but only seemed to die, much as he suggested Dumbledore do for Hermione's death.

One of the first lessons was ComedTea, and thinking about causality going backward in time. There's people like Harry and BDumbledore thinking about history as a story. There's the ridiculous levels of foreshadowing we see... (read more)

Discussion on HPMOR (along with other Potterverse topics) on the blog Crooked Timber.

I found it interesting because Crooked Timber is a (very good by the way) mainstream-liberal-academia blog, and I got a sense of "worlds colliding" by reading the opinions of their commenters on LW and its more niche subculture.

Who is Sirius? Fudge!

  • It is well known that Sirius was replaced before he went to prison (the repeated "I'm not serious", the phoenix screaming particularly loudly at one particular door)
  • Fudge was present at the capture of Sirius, and made Sirius go to Azkaban without a trial- which means Fudge needs to keep the person in Sirius's body locked up for some reason.
  • Sirius can switch bodies somehow (Someone who looks like Sirius enough to fool everyone else is in prison)
  • Fudge is under the thumb of the Malfoys- why? He's using them for support, but
... (read more)
1gwern7ySo in this theory, Pettigrew is just innocent and dead, and Sirius was the one who betrayed the secret to Voldemort? http://predictionbook.com/predictions/24307 [http://predictionbook.com/predictions/24307]

Unrelated to the latest chapters:

Inspired by RomeoStevens's comment in this thread, I am going over HPMOR, summarizing each chapter in a haiku. Tell me what you think:

Chapter 1:

Unexpected truth

Must still be updated on

Yes, magic is real

Chapter 2:

A show of magic

Tales of bitten teachers

The saga begins

Chapter 3:

Diagon alley

A peek into a new world

Stories of the past

Chapter 4:

Metal currency!

No real financial system

To speak of at all

8Unnamed7yChapter 23:
0Unnamed7yJumping ahead to my favorite chapters, though the tone is nonstandard for the medium. Patronus (chp 43) Dementor (chp 43) Dementation (chp 44)
2ygert7ySome more: Chapter 6: Chapter 7 Bonus one: And another:
2TobyBartels7yNice. Rewrite of Chapter 6:
4ygert7yI like it. I think that's definitely an improvement on the last line. Here are a few more: Chapter 8: Chapter 9: Chapter 10: And another: And: And:
1Kindly7yPoetry is a union of form and content. Putting something into the form of a haiku is essentially trivial, so most haiku writers focus on content instead; however, your content should also be familiar to everyone reading, so you can't win there. (Also, #2 and #4 have 6 and 5 syllables in their respective second lines.) Limericks would be good, if you could pull those off. Obviously, it would be harder. That's sort of the point, though: to impress people with form, you have to do something that isn't easy to do. On the other hand, if you write 101+ limericks, you'll probably be good at limericks by the end. (Half good; I'm told the other half of limerick writing is that they have to be dirty and/or funny, ideally both.)
5Kaj_Sotala7yNot for those who've had the time to forget about the contents of the story. This could be a useful way for people to remind themselves of the rough structure of the story without re-reading everything.
2ygert7yI don't know. I think there is a virtue in succinctness, an art that appears when things are put into a tightly limited form. It makes you look at what is essential, and so shows the essence. Maybe I'll try limericks next. It's as good an idea as any, I suppose. Different people pronounce things differently, so arguing over syllable numbers is going to be be frustrating, but can you tell me how you see 6 syllables in line 2 of #2? Do you pronounce "tales" as a single syllable? You are certainly right about #4 though, so thanks for the pointer. I changed it. It lost a bit of punch, but whatever. If I am building elegance out of restrictions, I had better keep to them.
0TobyBartels7yLike Kindly, I pronounce 'tales’ with one syllable, but if it's two for you, then OK. As for content, I'm fairly pleased with these, except for #4. Having the last two lines run together as a single sentence without a break seems inappropriate. Maybe rewrite it so that ‘Metal currency!’ is the last line?
0ygert7yYeah, I had to quickly rewrite #4 at the last minute after Kindly pointed out that my original version had an unambiguous 6 syllables in line 2. So it is no surprise that my hurried rewrite was less good. Out of interest, how do you pronounce "tales"? I seem to pronounce it something on the order of "tay-uls". So how do you pronounce it as a single syllable?
2TobyBartels7yWhen speaking naturally and counting syllables, I pronounce ‘tales’ and ‘tells’ largely the same; the vowel in the first is longer and slightly higher (/e:/ vs /ϵ/). But when emphasizing (‘not tells, TALES’), I would do more like your ‘tay-uls’.

Oof, this was a punch to the gut of a chapter. I've gone from "Harry, Wake Up!" to a sort of baffled expectation.

What on earth is up with you, Harry? You are usually so clearsighted! Are you still grieving for Hermione? What possible ethical system justifies the decisions of this chapter?

A speech about the power of truth, then a cover up. Punishment for Filch and Hagrid, but mercy for the centaur and Quirrel.

Feh, this is just what the entry describes as refusing to process something I've already processed. There's an easy description for ... (read more)

A speech about the power of truth, then a cover up. Punishment for Filch and Hagrid, but mercy for the centaur and Quirrel.

Consequentialism in action? Hogwarts would be better off with Filch and Hagrid removed, but no future purpose is served by exposing Quirrell or killing the Centaur.

2kilobug7yI don't think Hogwarts would be better without Hagrid - Hagrid as teacher is dangerous and terrific, but Hagrid as gamekeeper is quite good in his job. He just needs a bit more of supervision to ensure he doesn't keep a dragon or an acromantula as a pet.
3Velorien7yThen again, supervision of teachers is something that would never ordinarily happen in Hogwarts.
9Mestroyer7yHarry recognizes the power of truth, and doesn't want give that power out indiscriminately. That makes perfect sense. Harry doesn't care about sentient-but-not-sapient things (or thinks that animals including unicorns are mostly not even sentient), so under his ethical system, Quirrel hasn't done anything wrong (which he knows about). Harry didn't have the power to "punish" the centaur through anything short of death. He knows the centaur is only after him, and not children in general, and that it probably won't get another chance to kill him. Filch and Hagrid have not only done things that are bad, but they are dangers to students.
9WalterL7yI disagree. Harry watches Quirrel stun the professor and 3 Aurors, let them tumble off their brooms and false memory charm them, but Quirrel hasn't done anything wrong? That's, what, 8 felony equivalents at least? (Assault x4, and presuming False Memory Charm would be at least equivalent to assault, probably more like rape). Filch's crime, for which Harry wants him to serve jail time, is that he sent Draco & co to the Forbidden Forest, potentially exposing them to assault. Quirrel actually assaulted them. To grossly simplify, there's a consistent set of ethics that says that Filch and Quirrel both need to be punished. (action -> consequences) There's another, which says both ought to be forgiven. (no harm, no foul) Forgiving those who are cool and punishing those who are lame is unethical, particularly given the disparity between their offenses. On another tack, how on earth can Harry know anything about the Centaur? It attacked a child after rambling on for a while. Jumping to the conclusion that its fixated on him and won't just attack some other child is really arbitrary. I mean, plenty of serial bad guys fixated on their victims, it doesn't make them safe for other folks. Today 'the stars' told Centaur to kill Harry. Tomorrow they tell him to kill Ron, or Hagrid, or set himself on fire. I wonder what they told him to do yesterday?

Filch's crime, for which Harry wants him to serve jail time, is that he sent Draco & co to the Forbidden Forest, potentially exposing them to assault.

Filch testified that he intentionally wanted to expose them to assault and a chance of dying. Quirrel didn't do anything that gave Draco a chance of dying.

Quirrel on the other hand drinks the unicorn blood to safe it's own life. As far as Harry thinks Qurirrel also only stunned the centaur and wanted to safe Harry's life.

For Harry morality being alive and saving lifes is very important. Short term pain and being stunned doesn't factor much into Harry's utility calculations.

6maia7yMaybe this is just my narrative epistemic advantage talking, but: the centaur mentioned stuff relevant to the prophecy, knew specifically who Harry was, and probably was trying to kill him for a very specific reason. Even if Harry doesn't realize what the centaur is talking about, it seems to me that of the people who try to attack and kill Harry Potter, probably most of them are actually trying to kill him specifically and are not just random psychopaths.
1buybuydandavis7yThe net result of Quirrell's actions were to prevent some people from knowing that he was feeding on unicorns. Consequentially, that's keeping Quirrell's secret, which McGonagall (and Dumbledore?) seems to want in the first place to keep him as Defense Professor.
0Velorien7yIf we interpret the power of truth as being "the power to know whether things are true", or "the power conferred by believing true things rather than false things", then giving that power out indiscriminately, to every sentient being in the world, is the exact thing that Harry wants to do.
5Mestroyer7yThat is the interpretation I'm thinking of, and no he doesn't. When he describes science to Draco, he says that not keeping secrets is one of their mistakes. Spreading the power to everyone has bad consequences he wants to avoid (things like knowledge that could enable a small faction of people to destroy the world). In this case, it would have consequences he thinks are bad, which are people interfering with Quirrell's plans to stay alive.
0Velorien7ySurely that is "the power granted by possessing specific items of true information"? This is a very different thing from what I said. I think that to Harry the power of truth relates to rationality rather than knowledge.
0Mestroyer7yOh, I thought that's what you meant by "the power conferred by believing true things rather than false things", which is what Harry is withholding in the cover-up. Why do you think he wants rationality for everyone?
3Velorien7yHe attempts to instruct people in it at every reasonable opportunity (at least in the earlier parts of the story), and strongly indicates that his ideal world is one where everyone is "sane". In addition, we know that the fic's explicit purpose is to promote rationality to those who might otherwise not encounter the concept (specifically HP fans and fanfic readers in general), and that Harry is the author's primary mouthpiece to this end (though this is not to say that his own use of the methods of rationality is always successful).
3ChristianKl7yHarry doesn't believe in death or Azkaban as valid punishments. Harry would oppose killing Filch or Hagrid. If Harry would reveal what Quirrell did the punishment might be Azkaban.
-1WalterL7yImagine that I'm a pal who explained the modern analogous position to you. I tell you that I think our prisons are inhumane, and the death penalty is problematic. I know a guy who beat up 3 cops, a teacher and some kids and drugged them so they forgot what happened when they interrupted him slaughtering some horses, but I don't report him, and in fact helped him cover up his crimes because of my belief. We still buds? Setting that aside I'm not clear at all on why Harry would still have a problem with the Azkaban/death penalty. Earlier, sure, it made sense, but now that he's declared himself the Vanquisher of Death he just seems confused. Suffering is certainly bad, but Harry's cool with False Memory charms, and those can negate suffering. The time lost becomes the issue, and Harry intends that folks shall live forever. I mean, he's going to conquer death, right? Not only that, he's going to resurrect Hermione, who is dead and whose body is gone presumably by now decayed. So he's confident that he will be able to resurrect someone based on, effectively, name and description. Surely he doesn't think his abilities as a researcher are terribly singular, never to be duplicated. I mean, if he might in theory do it then its ultimately doable, then someday it'll be done, and all will rise. So.what matter then, when precisely any given individual dies, so long as it does not alter this future? Worst case scenario. Quirrel goes to Azkaban for a few months before his disease overcomes him, and dies a howling deranged lunatic. Later on he's resurrected, false memory charms fix his trauma and bob's your uncle.

Let's try an analogy that's a bit closer to the mark:

"I know a guy who needs to eat freshly killed bald eagle meat every now and again to stay alive, and while doing so he was discovered by some forest rangers and kids out hiking on public land. He quickly used a gas grenade to knock them out without harming them, then gave them a drug that caused them to lose their short term memory of the event. He then dialed 911 on one of their cell phones and watched from a distance to make sure they didn't get eaten before help arrived."

Note that there are several things here which don't have good conversions into Real Life due to magic. In cases like that, you can't just pick the 'closest equivalent' and expect it to make sense. Sometimes, you'll have to drag something magical into the real world as well.

Analogies are hard, at least if you're trying to be accurate. Doing a double analogy to see if you can get back the original helps. For example, let's take your analogy, and try to convert it back into the original scenario:

"I know a guy who was killing some horses in the forest when he was discovered by a group of aurors, a school teacher, and some kids. This guy beat ... (read more)

7ChristianKl7yYou confuse agreement about moral principles with the judgement that a moral system is consistent. There are a lot of possible ethical systems that I don't like. That doesn't mean they aren't consistent ethical systems. Let's say I know a homosexual from a country where it's illegal with the death penalty. He was in a situation where 3 cops witnessed him engage in an homosexual act. He managed to make them temporarily unconscious and drug them up to forget that they found him. Would I let that person get away with that? Probably yes. How I treat someone who opposes a cop depends a lot on whether I believe in the law of the land of that cop. I don't think there's evidence to the claim that false memory charms can negate all suffering. I don't think it decayes in the transformed form.
4gjm7yI think it's worth distinguishing between "Harry intends to conquer death by any means possible" and "Harry knows that he will succeed in conquering death". If the first is true and the second false, he still has ample reason to try to stop people dying prematurely.
2linkhyrule57yYou're allowed to have a utility function over things you can't perceive. I'm allowed to say that I value a life where I got tortured and mind-wiped less than I value a life where neither happens.
1hairyfigment7yI tend to disagree. In fact, if you really meant to write "decayed", I think you're transparently wrong, because Quirrellmort wouldn't let it decay - he'd stick the body in box A (so to speak). That seems like the main alternative to the obvious fulfillment of the ancient prophecy. I do worry about it, since why wouldn't Q have done this? (If he's figured out reflective decision theory, I'm officially confused about the direction of this story.) But if Harry transfigured the body quickly enough, he might have left Q without a good opportunity.

I have an alternative explanation for Harry's Dark Side: Harry's mother is narcissistic, impressed by education, and not particularly smart.

"by far the simplest explanation for this unverbalizable fear of yours is just the fear of losing your fantasy of greatness, of disappointing the people who believe in you" (ch. 77) is textbook thinking for a child of a narcissistic parent. The child feels perpetually ignored because the narcissistic parent needs validation from the child's accomplishments but refuses to actually listen to the child. Thus, t... (read more)

5[anonymous]7yWhile this is an excellent explanation, I can't help but wonder if it's not metafictional. Remember, Harry is "almost but not quite" like 18-year-old Eliezer, and I would not be at all surprised if, well, certain stereotypes about pushing one's child relentlessly (usually labelled "Jewish mother" but actually trans-ethnic) held true for 18!Eliezer, and therefore for his model of Harry. As a show of respect and allegiance, I can say that they definitely held true for my mother and thus for me, and it's only after spending a lot of time out of her house and away from her influence that I've even remotely mellowed down into a decent adult. Actually, my mother still manages to give me neurotic freak-outs whenever I visit home, due to the massive swings in her evaluations of my life choices that can take place inside five minutes. Like, yeah, I was the dickface kid who mentally compared himself with Paul Atreides. By the way, the easiest way to deal with the arrogance is just to continually take note of how blatantly unadaptive and useless it actually is. If you're really trying to get what you want by blatantly using other people (and this is not nearly as evil in real life as in fiction: in real life, this is what a purely professional relationship actually is and everyone knows it), then quite often the most useful move is to acknowledge that status hierarchies are situation-dependent and treat them as just another component of the situation, subject to optimization like everything else, rather than as a component of your utility in that situation. (Wow, that sounded a lot less sociopathic in my mind.)
2Algernoq7yI agree that HPMOR is intended to describe reality: the entertaining story is the vehicle meant to entertain, and the theoretical content is the payload meant to be remembered. Long before I found HPMOR, I reacted to the death of a family member by planning how to defeat death with science, because nothing less would give me safety. I was baffled that most people preferred to cry for a bit and then forget about it, without making any effort to save themselves or even to fix the particular problem that caused the one death. I read somewhere that EY had a similar experience and reaction, that is mirrored in HJPEV's reaction to Hermione's death. I've also mellowed out (e.g. learned, mostly, to seek my own approval instead of my mother's or that of managers, etc.) I'm glad to hear you can relate. There are many similar labels that might fit: "Jewish mother", "tiger mother", "helicopter parent", etc. I suspect most people here have not had this experience, and many that have can't not idolize their parents, due to denial. Harry claims "Suppressed memory is a load of pseudoscience! People do not repress traumatic memories, they remember them all too well for the rest of their lives!" (Ch. 6), but this is inconsistent with "Her mind was slow to remember [the negative information] for a few seconds, which frightened her" (Ch. 84), and denial is a well-known defense mechanism against trauma. The American Psychological Association website says "shock and denial are typical" reactions to traumatic experiences, a well-known historical example is FDR's refusal to accept the incurability of his polio, and I can attest from personal experience that denial/repression sometimes happens. I'm not sure what you mean by "acknowledge that status hierachies are situation-dependent". It sounds like you mean that it's usually best not to challenge higher-status or higher-arrogance people, because in most situations that's the best way to get what you want. This matches my experience at l
1[anonymous]7yThere are different kinds of status. My adviser might have higher science-status than me, but I have higher otaku-status than him. The situation determines which sort of status is salient. Oh no, I didn't mean they're optimal. But they're a very useful fallback when you realize that you're just never going to actually like someone but still need to maintain collegiality with them. I will admit that I never thought of transhumanism on my own, but I've ended up endorsing it simply because I can't actually think of an involuntary or unwanted death where I actually thought that we shouldn't have saved the person even if we could have. Then again, I only ever lost a grandmother and grandfather who were extremely old, and seemingly quite ready to pass on. I think it depends if you merely sustain a trauma or actually develop PTSD. Well of course there's a right thing to do. I'm just not going to tell you what it is, because I want to know if other people's conclusions when they research the issue converge with my own. :-p

Strength of will is demanded for the cursed fire not to turn upon you and consume you;


3gwern7yBeen suggested many times, yes.

So, I am mildly amused that Eliezer appears to have killed off Alicorn.

Also, that the second unicorn appears to be Twilight Sparkle.

(And thirdly, the not-very-hidden Twilight reference.)

Didn't get the proof-theoretic joke until I looked it up, unfortunately, but it was rather amusing once I did.

And finally: I think Quirrell just got himself added to the "to be resurrected" list...

Oh - and I notice that Draco is thinking in Bayesian terms. Good for him - and good for Harry, too!


This truly dangerous wizard shall perhaps be bent on some project of which he anticipates great renown, and the certain prospect of losing that renown and living out his life in obscurity will seem to him more vivid, more aversive, than the unknown prospect of destroying his country.

The Sorting Hat:

“You know—you aren’t letting yourself think it, but in some quiet corner of your mind you know just exactly what you aren’t thinking—you know that by far the simplest explanation for this unverbalizable fear of yours is just the fear of losing yo

... (read more)

I assume the centaur tried to kill Harry because he prophesied that "the skies will soon be empty" because of Harry. Based on what we know about Harry, the skies could be "emptied" because of Dyson spheres or star-lifting.

Although, if you look at it that way, it would still take thousands of years before the skies appeared "empty," since we're getting light from thousands of years ago. I'm not sure if a centaur would use "soon" in this sense, so perhaps Eliezer has something different in mind.

9RomeoStevens7ytime turners exist harry wants to become god people have died in the past
8TobyBartels7yYou should edit that so that the last line has only five syllables.
7ygert7yPerhaps? Or:
2Alsadius7y"people have died before" "people have died in past"
2ygert7yIn the past. You lose elegance points if you have to drop words in order to fit what you want to say in the requisate number of syllables.
0Alsadius7y"in past" is a perfectly valid form. How I talk, really.
0TobyBartels7yI've heard "in future" before (my mind tags it as British), so "in past" makes sense. But you still have 6 syllables (unless "people have" is only 2, as "peep-lav"?). I came up with "Folks have died before." myself.
0Alsadius7yI'm bad at syllables. Any time I try haikuing, I almost invariably think one word quickly, ignore the excess syllables I'm not pronouncing, and mess it up.
2ygert7yInspired by this, I wrote some more [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/jc8/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/a7cv] of these, summarizing the first five chapters of HPMOR.
0knb7yWhat is your point?
0RomeoStevens7yIf Harry unlocks magical godhood the transformation might be instantaneous from this timeline's persective.

I've already forgotten why, but I wound up wondering how Quirrell confronting Grendelwald might go in HPMoR. I can't think of a reason it would happen, but it'd doubtless be entertaining, if canon is anything to go by.

(In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort goes to Normengard to interrogate Grendelwald over that device Dumbledore mentioned. Grendelwald believes from the moment he detects Voldemort's approach that he's probably going to die, and still deceives and verbally belittles Voldy, until he laughs at the Avada Kedavra aimed at him. Not b... (read more)

Grindelwald accepted the inevitability of his death, and did not fear it—hence the laughter. Remember, Rowling is a deathist, and considers this to be a mark of Grindelwald's maturity (he is a foil to Voldemort).

2CAE_Jones7yTrue. I tend to think a combination of losing while invincible and being stuck in prison for 50 years might have had something to do with his feelings on the situation, though. He also recognized Voldemort, implying either they'd made contact before, or Grindelwald had access to information from the outside world. I could see his personal deathism making much better sense in context (I wonder if Normingard has anti-suicide measures? No one seems to concern themselves with death at Azkaban, but Normingard doesn't have Dementors.). I suppose it comes down to a question of "How does one coerce someone who just doesn't care?"

Harry's blindness to Quirrel being pretty obviously bad news at this point is definitely something I'd like to see explained. I know that as the reader I get to see things more clearly than Harry does, but when you start thinking painfully murdering magical creatures to preserve your life for a short amount of time is fine if the person doing it is someone you like, something is going wrong there! I am fully expecting at this point to understand that Harry's thinking on Quirrel is being deliberately suppressed. After all, Harry's meant to be fundamentally curious about magic... why has he not investigated what could cause the anti-magic effect?

Actually, no, he outright approves - he doesn't think unicorns are sapient, which means that their suffering is automatically worth less than a wizard's life.

Also, there's no anti-magic effect, Quirrell is just blindingly fast at casting and then False Memory Charmed Draco.

0thakil7yAh, apologies I mean the fact that their magics interact in weird ways. He's known about it for a long time, but hasn't really gone out of his way to research it. Unless I'm forgetting, I don't think he's even looked it up in the library. Re: the unicorn, yeah I'm aware of his thoughts, but that is an extremely uncritical approach. Even if we accept that a unicorn is less than a wizards life, he is basically saying its fine to kill something to gain at most a year (as far as we can tell? Its implied that unicorn blood is not an indefinite cure?). There should be some attempt at moral calculus there at least.

Well, really now, Harry eats meat. In other words he will accept the death of a nonsentient creature for purposes, not even of keeping himself alive for a few additional hours - he could eat veggies - but just because they taste good. To preserve life? Pff. The argument about sentience is one he ought to have, but conditional on unicorns being nonsentient, they are just not valuable compared to additional months of life.

[-][anonymous]7y 12

His best friend just died and it looks like his mentor is next. Good recipe for motivated reasoning.

0BlindIdiotPoster7yThere aren't any clues that unicorns are sentient, so there's no reason why Harry should find QM killing a unicorn more thought provoking than eating pork.
0keen7yWho says he's blind? He won't so much as drink from his own containers in Quirrell's presence because Quirrell might teleport something nasty inside. And even if he decided that Quirrell was totally irredeemable, Harry should still be upset about losing the enjoyable aspects of Quirrell's personality.
0BlindIdiotPoster7yPainfully murdering nonsentients to preserve one's own life is considered fine in almost all human cultures. In fact, painfully killing animals for fun is considered acceptable by most people, so long as the killing is done in a non-sadistic manner.
0Velorien7yUnless you have hard data to back that up, I will accept "many people" but not "most". In the US, for example, less than 5% of people hunt.
1RichardKennaway7yBut how many of the population disapprove of hunting?
2TobyBartels7y(Make that sport hunting, to fit the original better.) I actually suspect less than half in the U.S., but more than half over the whole world. (But I really don't know.)

Harry can obliviate people well enough to make them "lose every single life memory involving the color blue". This is a Big Deal. It allows for things like:



After walking Herminone to Broomstick class, Harry wandered alone about the upper hallways of Hogwartz pondering Neville's rememberal. He must have forgotten about something important, but w-


A Green Elephant appeared out of nowhere and struck Harry's head. It was a stuffed animal, the type you might buy for a small child, if the child's favorite color were Eerily Glowing G... (read more)

2Velorien7yI had the exact opposite interpretation of that line. I thought it meant that Harry still had so little control that if he was trying to get rid of a memory which involved the colour blue (presumably referring to the unicorn and its blood, which was "not white, but pale blue, or appearing so"), he would instead end up removing all such memories without meaning to. That's rather like saying "he couldn't perform surgery unless he wanted somebody to lose every single organ in their abdomen". Not something you want to use as a tool - at most, it's a very blunt weapon where Harry has access to far better ones for most situations.
0[anonymous]7yThe color blue might be a throw away line, except this story has obliviation puzzles. The author needs to give the reader constraints on obvliviation to enable the reader solve the puzzles, which is why I think the line is a Chekhov's gun. In case it is not clear, the grandparent post quotes oblivation puzzles found in the text from chapters 88-90, e.g. this one from chapter 90: Note the missing period after "Time". The story I laid out above explains how those obliviations could have been caused by Harry himself on April 16th. I admit that mechanism isn't terribly likely (I suspect either the Big Bad or Harry in a later chapter). Nevertheless, it demonstrates the sorts of stunts Harry may pull later given the color constraint. EDIT: The forgotten todo item is from Chapter 12. EDIT 2: I totally misread your post :-). Here's the line in question: Harry has learned to obliviate, therefore he will obliviate someone. I can see the blunt instrument interpretation, but the subtle knife interpretation would be allowed by more plot lines so I think it is more likely.
[-][anonymous]7y 3

Just to check: Chapter 100 is the scene foreshadowed in the opening quote, right?

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line...

(Unicorn blood)

(black robes, falling)

(The aurors and McGonagall falling from their brooms)

...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

...this doesn't quite fit, unless I'm picturing the scene wrong.

Edit: Uncertainty. Based on replies, I'm now leaning against this being the foreshadowed scene.

I don't think it does for meta-reasons. The opening quote is build up too much to not be perfectly fitting and clear. It's also more narratively pleasing to have it return in the final chapter.

I don't think any of it fits. "Tiny fragment" and "fraction of a line" don't sound like blood spatters, or anything liquid. The sound of black robes falling doesn't sound like bodies hitting the ground, and if this were the fulfillment of the Chapter 1 epigraph, I would expect there to be at least a mention of their robes.

This whole scene doesn't seem significant enough to be such a heavily anticipated revelation. I'm going with "No" on this one.

It seems like a stretch but is there any chance

Imps as can't be seen or heard or remembered, even while they're eatin' yer face.

is a shout out to

But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.

from the Dresden files?

Also could the spell Quirell used to destroy Hogwarts walls in earlier chapters be used to dungeon bypass the third floor corridor by going through the back of the room with the mirror of desire Erised>

Imps as can't be seen or heard or remembered, even while they're eatin' yer face.

It's probably a reference to Worm (which has a character called Imp whose superpower is to selectively stop other people from noticing or remembering her).

1Desrtopa7yI'd say their mention also raises the question of how trolls were able to secure the top third spot for most dangerous predator over them. Or even dementors, for that matter. A threat you don't know to run away from until it's too late is worse than one that you can't defeat, but can easily escape. Possibly a single imp will eat its fill from a human being without ever doing fatal harm. But a few Imperiused imps would be an absurdly deadly weapon.
4Velorien7yIt may be that there are simple charms that can be used to defend against the imps in advance (say, a basic proximity alert charm that covers all moving creatures in high-visibility sparkles a la Glitterdust). In regard to the Imperius, it's possible that an imp's natural "cloaking" prevents potential masters from being able to remember them long enough to make practical use of them. It's also possible that they don't speak human languages. Has it ever been established how Imperius commands are conveyed to targets?
0Desrtopa7yMaybe even a captive imp is too well concealed to Imperius, although if they're that well cloaked it raises the question of how people even know they exist. In the original canon, Crouch Jr. as Moody was able to Imperius a spider, which implies that it does not require that the recipient have human language capacity, or even be intelligent.
2ygert7yAlso, in canon, in book 7 the protagonists themselves use the Imperius themselves (as part of the break-in to Gringotts.) There we get the best look at the actual mechanics of the Imperius, including that we see Imperius commands being issued telepathically as it were, from the caster's thoughts.
1Gurkenglas7yWhen I heard their mention in the story, my first thought was "But then how does anyone know of them?"
7Velorien7yDivination, corpses of imps killed by natural causes/accident, magical creatures immune to their effects (or unusual charms that grant immunity)... The great thing about magic is that it's not just broken, but broken in every direction.
0ikrase7yPotentially, although it would presumably raise huge alarms and might be impossible to stealth with. Meanwhile, I imagine that the traps are not readily bypassable.

I'm a bit bothered by Dumbledore's behavior in 101. He's supposed to be at least reasonably wise and reasonably cunning, with a dead brother and a room full of gravestones. He knows all about prioritizing people's lives. He's just had the first student fatality in 50 years, and now he almost had a second. So how could he possibly have taken Filch's side?

3CillianSvendsen7yFrom the Azkaban chapters: Dumbledore's lesson from his room isn't that you needed to shut up and multiply, it's that war is so terrible that you must be willing to sacrifice anything so prevent it from occurring again. He prioritized people's lives to stop a war, but he's not willing to sacrifice anyone except to prevent more violence. Dumbledore never wanted to sacrifice his sacred values for the greater good, he was forced to by the war. From "Taboo Tradeoffs": In "Pretending to Be Wise", Dumbledore says that the reason he doesn't subscribe to purely utilitarian ethics is because he doesn't trust himself: So he sticks to his virtue ethics, unless he is forced to, since he doesn't trust his morality enough to do non-virtuous things in service of it, lest he become another Grindelwald. It is only when forced to that he abandons his principles, and only to prevent further violence. Choosing to sacrifice someone is against his nature, his room might remind him of the costs of that course of action, but it doesn't change who he is, only make him regret his failure in the War. Add to that the fact that Filch is someone Dumbledore feels much sympathy toward, and the fact that he wasn't facing Lucius or anyone on the other side, him taking Filch's side is understandable, if not expected.

Sorry if these questions are stupid, but with the long pauses betwen the chapters I find it difficult to remember what exactly happened.

1) What exactly is the puzzle we are trying to solve?

If I remember correctly, Eliezer wanted us to solve something before the story is finished. Which pretty much means now or never. I just don't know what exactly is the question. (Yeah, knowing the question is half of knowing the answer.) Who is Voldemort? Seems obvious that it's Quirrell. What should Harry do? What exactly is happening? What are the motivations of the ma... (read more)

0mjr7yI got the impression it'd be a more acute and visible thing within the final arc. (Edit: As with Three worlds collide.)
3Viliam_Bur7ySome of the recent chapters were about an importance of not wasting time, and I'm not sure if that was or wasn't a hidden message. I mean, in the story universe, Harry will not be suddenly given a huge dialog window saying: -- "Harry, now you have to make an important choice, and the fate of the world depends on it. Will you: a) trust Quirrell, b) say everything to Dumbledore and ask him for information and help, c) ask Minerva to join your heroic team and help you research meta-spells, d) do a dangerous ritual involving time turners, advanced Patronus, invisibility cloak, and partial transfiguration?" Instead, the possible solutions will be gradually taken away from him without a warning. He will probably not even get a feedback when the last one is gone. But of course I am mixing in-universe and out-universe here. It is still possible that the dialog window will be displayed to us, readers, at a proper moment.

The silver from the begging of HPMOR seems unicorn blood. Eliezer said:

V’yy fgngr bhgevtug gung ng gur raq bs gur fgbel Urezvbar pbzrf onpx nf na nyvpbea cevaprff.

Tvira havpbea oybbq vf nobhg ceriragvat qrngu, jr unir gur vaterqvragf sbe n zntvp evghny.

Tvira gur cebcurpvrf gung evghny vf cebonoyl tbvat gb unir n punapr bs qrfgeblvat gur jbeyq. V guvax vg cebonoyl qbrf.

4HungryHippo7yTwo unrelated ideas: Drain Hermionie's blood and fill her up again with unicorn blood. (Would that even work?) Kill a dementor and use it to make a horcrux. (Does killing a dementor spilt your soul?)
1UnclGhost7ySilver seems to be a running theme [http://lesswrong.com/lw/i4r/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/9hae] for anti-death things (add the Silvery Slytherins and the Peverell crest to that list). Unicorn blood is a likely candidate, though. (Also, that bit you mentioned is probably worth rot13ing since it came from a source that he suggested not reading.)
0ChristianKl7yI hadn't seen that he suggested against reading it. I edited to rot13.
0Alsadius7yWhere/when did he say this?
3linkhyrule57yOOC as a joke in one of the author's notes. Though, mind, he could be telling the truth.

Given that:

1) Quirrell believes that bringing back Hermione would be the surest way to prevent Harry from destroying the world. ("Miss Granger was the only one whose worries he truly heeded - with her gone - all checks on the boy's recklessness are removed"; "You truly do care about that girl (...) I do not understand it, but I know the lengths you will go to because of it. You will challenge death itself, for her. Nothing will sway you from that.")

2) Preventing the prophecy from coming true appears to be at least one of Quirrell's top priorities as of the Roles arc (which, for some as-yet unestablished reason, the beginning of the unicorn deaths falls into).

3) Quirrell has been killing unicorns and storing away their flesh.

4) Eliezer has said, as above, "I’ll state outright that at the end of the story Hermione comes back as an alicorn princess".

Semi-serious hypothesis: Quirrell is intending to bring Hermione back using unicorn blood.

1Sheaman37737yhttp://hpmor.com/chapter/100 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/100] Though unreliable narration is always possible.
0somervta7yIt was in the feminism rant.
4Tenoke7yhere [http://hpmor.com/a-rant-thereof/] It's the third link when you google "I’ll state outright that at the end of the story Hermione comes back as an alicorn princess."

My theory about HPMOR and what is going on.

"Voldemort's final avenue is to seduce a victim and drain the life from them over a long period; in which case Voldemort would be weak compared to his former power."

But raw power is nothing compared to intellect and Harry Potter seems like the best possible candidate for resurrecting this way.

  • Quirrell and Harry both have a dark side, and dark sides are parts of Volondemort soul. They are horcruxes basically.

  • Quirrell's dark side took control over good old Quirinus Quirrell. He is in the same conditio

... (read more)

I think Harry might have been the one to secure Hermione's body. He managed to convince McGonagall to remove the restrictions on his time turner. He probably used the time turner right after he was allowed to be by himself in the room with Hermione's body. That would have given himself more time to think and act. He was also checking his wristwatch a lot, especially when he had to leave the room, and when he had interruptions.

In the scene where he convinces Dumbledore and the others that he doesn't have Hermione's body, we don't get very far inside Har... (read more)

For what reason does Harry think Quirrell is applying false memory charms to everyone? What's wrong with what they saw?

9linkhyrule57yThe last bit, from Draco's perspective, is the False Memory. If they had remembered what really happened they would've seen blindingly fast spellcasting, which implies ridiculously powerful wizard and would be dealt with very differently.

I'm just curious how Hagrid felt about his own role in Hermione's death. I'd wondered if I'd see evidence that he thought about it.

Perhaps his personal hero Dumbledore persuaded him it's none of his fault and that he'd acted reasonably.

6drethelin7yWhat role? Standing in the way of an overly brave 11 year old who wants to go out and fight a troll is probably the morally correct action to take. If any other kid than Harry had done what he did, they would've died along with Hermione. (Well actually they probably never would've guessed to use a patronus to find her and thus been fine). It's not actually reasonable for humans to recognize another human as the player character and themselves as NPCs, much as eliezer would like the world to work that way.
6buybuydandavis7yHarry was not looking to fight a troll, he was looking to save Hermione from the troll. Further, if Hagrid had authorized a 7th year to help, they could have followed Harry's plan of searching for Hermione and bringing her back with the most powerful wizard then available to aid and protect the search. Hagrid could have had authorized 2 seventh years ride the broom, giving ample power to ward off a troll and protecting the supposedly helpless Harry at the same time. Hagrid clearly prevented effective aid from riding to Hermione's rescue, and he was the first "responsible adult" to know that she was missing. He is more responsible for the outcome than anyone but the Troll and the attacker using the troll.

Nice double (well, one and a half) cameo for alicorn, under different names.

an overlarge metal blade whose edge did not gleam beneath the moonlight; a gleaming edge, Harry had once read, was the sign of a dull blade

Of course, the real reason that it's not gleaming is that Eliezer once read that!

9atorm7yI would like to know where he read it.
4RichardKennaway7yI have also read it, I don't remember where. It's not a particularly outré piece of knowledge, just a piece of knife-sharpening lore. The reason a properly sharpened blade does not show a visible edge is that the edge is thinner than the wavelength of light. I do not know if this is true, which puts me in much the same position as Harry. It's just something I've read but never put to practical test.
2linkhyrule57yAs an owner of a penknife that I occasionally sharpen: It is definitely true that a dull blade gleams, but I am not sure if it is true that a sharp blade does not.
2jimmy7ySharp edges don't reflect any light visible to the naked eye, but it'll show up on an illuminated microscope. The edge width is on par with the wavelength of light at ~300-500 nanometers at best
0TobyBartels7yHarry, or Eliezer? :-P
6ygert7yAnd when it says that Harry read something in The Feynman Lectures on Physics, that is because Eliezer read it there and thought that it was the kind of thing Harry would have read. Of course Eliezer and Harry read similar things, Eliezer built Harry based in part on himself. It is hard for any author to do otherwise. If Eliezer had not read that, there is no way he could have had Harry read it. Perhaps that is the curse of authorship: All you characters must be a subset of you. You cannot, however hard you try, write a character that is more than you. The author always has to at least be able to imagine each thing his character does.

Your characters can be mentally superior you in at least three ways: they can think much faster than you can, they can independently think of things for which you needed outside help, and they can come to correct conclusions based on less evidence and/or less obvious evidence than you would have required.

While these mechanisms can potentially make a character seem smarter than the author, the last one can also backfire; you can slip up and make the character leap to the right answer on the basis of less evidence than could plausibly isolate that answer.

This is one of the main issues which prevented me from buying into to the conflict in Death Note.

5ygert7yYes. In the heat of the moment when the character needs to make a split second decision, the author can sit back and and think long and hard about the answer. When the hero has a choice and no opportunity to research it, the author can still do that research, or make up how the answer goes in his world. What I was driving at is something subtler: I cannot count the times I have heard someone praise HPMoR for, among other things, teaching them something new to them. People loudly talk about how the got into rationality and Less Wrong from it, and how they got from HPMoR ideas that change their lives. This is good, and a sign that HPMoR is a darn good piece of fiction. But: Eliezer did not gain any of those things. Eliezer cannot read HPMoR and be enlightened, for every piece of enlightenment contained within came from his mind. No, Eliezer is not perfect either, and I am sure he makes many mental mistakes that he has the smarter HPMoR character avoid. This is a point. He can write smarter characters than him. But, everything he has the characters do is something he knows, and it must be that way. Eliezer may only know some of the things he has the characters do on the type 2 level, but know them he must.

Eliezer did not gain any of those things. Eliezer cannot read HPMoR and be enlightened, for every piece of enlightenment contained within came from his mind.

I get where you're going, and I mostly agree, but technically it's not 100% exact. Eliezer, like every human, forget things all the time, and reading HPMoR can makes him rediscover things, or can make him see things under a new light. It can also teaches him things about himself, about how his vision of things evolved with time.

Re-reading things (be it "serious" stuff like LW posts/comments, fiction work or even to a point source code) I wrote a while ago regularly enough does "enlighten" me, making me remember things I forgot, making me "propagate" some updating I did since but didn't fully propagate, and improving my internal model of myself.

2alex_zag_al7yNo, no... that's true in a limited way, I mean the characters don't know about any real-world experiments that he doesn't, for example. However, they can have novel insights. This is a good reason to write fiction, in fact. I write dialogues between characters in comics that I read when I'm stuck on math or programming problems. When I do this, it's still me that's thinking of it, of course. But it comes to me in a character's voice. So that might happen with HPMOR, too. There might be things in HPMOR that Eliezer only figured out when he heard, internally, one of his characters say them.
0ChristianKl7yThat assumes that the words specify exactly what the characters do in the interpretation of the reader. That isn't the case. Meaning get's created by the reader based on his own mental background.

You can go and choose to read things that the character would that you under other circumstances would not. The set of things I've read pretty much solely so as to be able to write in character is small but nonempty.

3TheOtherDave7yI'm not sure what point you're making. We can also say that the real reason it's not gleaming is because it doesn't exist at all; there is no blade, only words referring to a blade that doesn't exist. But why would we say either of those things?
4TobyBartels7yIt's not a deep point. The reference to Harry's having read such an odd fact just struck me, that's all.

Is the unicorn who was "not white, but pale blue, or appearing so beneath the moon and sky," with a mane that was "green-black but with a sheen like pearls," and a cutie mark which is "a small white shape like a starburst, a center surrounded by eight straight rays" Alicorn's ponysona?

7TobyBartels7yhttp://alicorn.elcenia.com/images/luminosity.png [http://alicorn.elcenia.com/images/luminosity.png]

Hey guys, I have a couple of mutually exclusive theories:

  • If I understand correctly, the author thinks that a body can be "repaired" after death. So he believes that Hermione can be resurrected by nanobots or engineered microorganisms, or some advanced muggle device like that. And we know that he can't just transfigure some water into nanobots and make them do their job, and them just let them turn into water, or take them out. In the case he couldn't sustain the bots until they finish, then he can make a molecular 3d printer, purify some silico
... (read more)
2Velorien7yPlease break your first theory up into paragraphs. It's rather hard to read as is.

Why everybody believes that centaur wanted to kill Harry ? It rather seems like centaur was disarming him. And it is even possible, he was under imperius curse (from Quirrel) while disarming Harry. He seemed to be surprised about what he was doing (looked up with widened eyes) and he apologised. I believe Quirrel just wanted to interrupt the conversation between Harry and Centaur.

2Velorien7yThe centaur talks about Harry's apocalyptic destiny. Then he talks about the implications of a centaur killing a child. Then he attacks Harry. Then, once Harry is fully disarmed and vulnerable, he apologises. Then he's surprised by Quirrell's assault. You appear to be offering two alternative interpretations. a) The centaur talks about Harry's apocalyptic destiny. Then he talks about the implications of a centaur killing a child. Then he attacks Harry. Then, once Harry is fully disarmed and vulnerable, he apologises. But he's just disarming Harry for its own sake, with no intention of killing him, because... he felt like it? b) In the middle of the conversation, Quirrell Imperiuses the centaur to attack Harry, and to apologise in the middle of doing so, before coming to the "rescue" himself. The fact that the centaur was talking about centaurs killing innocent children right before this is a complete coincidence.
0BarbaraB7yWhy did the centaur disarm Harry at all ? To remove a wand (I imagine thin stick) from somebodys hand, that requires very good aiming. Why not simple kill Harry with the first spear, if killing was really the intention ?

I have some thoughts about the HPMOR story going forward, various clues I've noticed, and speculation.

Avada Kedavra

I am intrigued by the possibility that Avada Kedavra might be used for prolonging life.

What if, when Lily Potter started to cast it, she was not casting it on Voldemort, but on Harry? Avada Kedavra involves a complete preference for death over life in the mind of the caster. What if she had a complete preference for life over death in regard to Harry, and so was attempting to protect him with the spell? What if it partially worked, and th... (read more)

2Velorien7yYou may need to elaborate on this one - as it stands, it simply does not compute. There's no evidence that casting a spell with the exact opposite of the necessary mindset makes it have the exact opposite effect to normal. It's like saying "if you cast Lumos, but you really want everything to be dark, it'll put out lights instead of generating them". There's also a problem with suggesting that a partially cast spell can have partial effect. There are a lot of partially cast spells both in canon and in HPMOR, and they never have any effect. Harry wants to defeat person death, not cell death or any other kind of death (which by a broad enough definition would also include things like nuclear decay). Person death is a very specific phenomenon where damage, disease or degeneration reduce a functional biological system to an inert mass of organic matter. Harry wants to prevent this from happening; or at least to prevent a person's "self" (in the sense of their data as stored in the brain) from being permanently lost in the process. This would suggest that the attempted murder of Draco was performed in order for Voldemort to gain immortaility. More than one problem with that, from Voldemort already being immortal, to all the evidence suggesting that Draco was targeted in order to influence Harry rather than for any other reason. The full quote, BTW:
0[anonymous]6yQuick! Disarm Dumbledore! He claims that Grindelwald has been defeated, has convinced some people through expressing doubt in his own sanity and/or goodness that the very idea of him being Dark is laughable, and ... actually wields a wand he took as a trophey:)))
0Strangeattractor7yAvada Kedavra and Lily Avada Kedavra is repeatedly pointed out to be an unusual spell. The caster's state of mind doesn't seem to matter when casting Lumos or other ordinary spells. But for Avada Kedavra, the person casting the spell has to feel a certain emotion and achieve a certain state of mind. As Harry puts it in chapter 86 the spell is "A magically embodied preference for death over life." In the conversation with Moody and Dumbledore, it is also mentioned that the first time to cast Avada Kedavra is a big psychological hump for most people to get over, though it usually becomes easier on subsequent occasions. What if the way Avada Kedavra really works is that it amplifies the preferences of the caster for life or death, but only if it is extreme? What if having an absolute preference for life over death is also a psychological hump that you have to get over? I think it is plausible that Avada Kedavra doesn't work exactly like the wizards think it does. Moody says it works by striking at a person's soul. If souls don't exist, then maybe it works a different way. I think it is plausible that over many years many people could use Avada Kedavra without discovering its additional properties. In some ways, Avada Kedavra would be a very safe spell to experiment with, if the caster didn't really want the other person dead. However, it would take an immense amount of trust to allow another person to cast it at you, without dodging. How well do you know the caster, and can you really believe that they don't want you dead? Or, from the caster's point of view, would you really want to risk using something called the Killing Curse on someone you care about and love? In Harry's memory of Godric's Hollow, his mother Lily first gets the Dark Lord to agree to save Harry in exchange for her death. Only then does she start to cast Avada Kedavra. It's true that she was interrupted by the Dark Lord also casting Avada Kedavra. And I don't think we've seen very many exa
0Velorien7yI understand your theory about Avada Kedavra and Lily now. It has a few problems. * There's no reason to believe that Avada Kedavra is that unusual. It is one of two advanced spells whose workings are explained in detail, and the other is the Patronus Charm, which also requires a special state of mind. From this, it is entirely plausible that emotion-based spells are common among advanced casters, and not a great rarity that a) has special unique features and b) no-one's ever thought to study. * Your theory relies on all of our sources of information being incomplete or wrong (the entire wizarding world for all of its history, as well as Harry's memory), which surely merits some kind of penalty. * "Lily had been experimenting on life extension." Where do we know this from? * "In Harry's memory of Godric's Hollow, his mother Lily first gets the Dark Lord to agree to save Harry in exchange for her death." I'm not sure how this ties in to your theory, but either way, I suggest you review her actual words. Unless Lily is an amazing actress, these are not the words of a woman trying to manipulate someone into completing a ritual. In looking up quotes, I did find a line that strongly supports your theory, however. It's when Fred and George are planning rumours to spread about the Defense Professor: And this is Eliezer we're talking about, and it also does so happen that if your theory is correct, Voldemort would have observed the results of Lily's experiment and taken note of its success.


“Ordinary folk do not do as much, for those they call friends.” The voice sounded more distant now, abstracted. “Not even for those they say they love. Their companions die, and they do not go in search of power to resurrect them.”

Self pity because people someone didn't come to look for a way to resurrect him?

0Velorien7yAre we to believe that Voldemort had friends? If so, this is the first piece of evidence for such a claim.
0buybuydandavis7ySelf pity because there was no one who might have been inclined to do so, even if they thought of it?
0Velorien7yIt's not impossible, but I have to say the Quirrell we see seems to view friendship as something of an alien phenomenon. To him, after all, "friend" is just a role people attempt to play for their own personal benefit, or from a sense of social obligation. It is doubtful that he has some concept of "real" friendship which he wishes he had.
1buybuydandavis7yAlien, but he's coming to understand it through Harry. He often specifically asks about friendship, about how Harry feels towards others, and particularly Hermione (as Harry's clear #1 friend). And when he asks, he contrasts his own feelings and experience to Harry's. And Compare to, where Quirrell's voice is "filled with some indecipherable emotion." IMO, it's unlikely that EY makes Quirrell an unqualified monster. EY, like Harry, wants to save everyone. Even a psychopath has some feelings - is not a completely alien Clippy. I hadn't considered it before, but perhaps that is what happened to Quirrell - like Harry, extremely susceptible to Dementors, but unlike Harry, with no friends who might have pulled him out of his dementation.
0Velorien7yVery interesting. I don't think Quirrell is intended to be an unqualified monster either, but the evidence you draw together is well-juxtaposed.
[-][anonymous]7y 0

Huh, add unicorn blood and the Silvery Slytherins to the list of silver anti-death things.

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Rot13 for being partly based on a author's note Eliezer has recommended people not read:

Abg fher ubj gb gnxr guvf hcqngr vagb nppbhag jura svthevat cebonovyvgl Urezvbar ernyyl qbrf pbzr onpx nf na "nyvpbea cevaprff." Ba gur bar unaq, ersrerapr gb "nyvpbea" frrzf gb or frggvat gung hc. Ba gur bgure unaq, V'z univat n uneqre gvzr cnefvat "havpbea ubea cevaprff" guna "jvatrq havpbea cevaprff." Ba gur guveq unaq, guvf.

0[anonymous]7yBe, lbh xabj, guvf [http://www.reddit.com/r/HPMOR/comments/1sotur/hpmor_ch_99101/ce01i1m]. Abg fher vs gebyyvat.
5ChrisHallquist7yThat's a hypothetical question, not an assertion. I'm beginning to build up a model of Eliezer as someone who is quite good at implying false things for the sake of trolling, but is very particular about not actually saying false things without very clear THIS IS A JOKE markers.
0hairyfigment7ySeems pretty jokey on its face, so that doesn't help much. Also, vs Uneel unf gur obql cerfreirq va fbzr sbez, ur gurbergvpnyyl unf n jnl gb oevat ure onpx gung frrzf gurzngvpnyyl nccebcevngr naq svgf gur Crireryy cebcurpl. Fbzrbar nyernql abgrq gung Ercneb zvtug jbex ba uhznaf vs hfrq jvgu Uneel'f erqhpgvbavfg senzr bs zvaq. Abj, gur fcryy beqvanevyl pna'g svk Yhcva'f eborf, fb gung nybar jba'g jbex. Ohg pnaba tvirf hf ernfba gb guvax gung gur Ryqre Jnaq pna vapernfr gur fcryy'f cbjre, naq gung Uneel jvyy fbzrubj trg uvf unaqf ba vg. V ubcr gur Erfheerpgvba Fgbar cynlf vgf ebyr ol yrggvat fvz-Urezvbar rkcynva gur jnaq cneg gb Uneel.
1Swimmy7yHa, clearly Gjvyvtug Fcnexyr vf Oryyngevk va qvfthvfr naq gur jubyr guvat jnf fbzr ovmneeb frghc gb znxr Uneel guvax Dhveeryy vf qlvat.

Probably a stupid question, but wasn't Draco was out of the picture already?

2kilobug7yHe went back after the negociations between Harry and Malfoy and the enforcement of "eductional decrees" to make Hogwarts safer, re-read chapters 97 and 98.