Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85

by FAWS1 min read18th Apr 20121114 comments


HPMOR (discussion & meta)
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The next discussion thread is here.


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 85The previous thread  has long passed 500 comments. Comment in the 15th thread until you read chapter 85. 

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: 12345678910111213, 14, 15.

As a reminder, it’s often useful to start your comment by indicating which chapter you are commenting on.

Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it’s fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that “Eliezer said X is true” unless you use rot13.

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Azkaban is commentary on Muggle prisons. I really hope people got that.

I've been reading about muggle prison conditions lately, and while I've understood that "prison conditions are terrible and torturing people is pointless etc" for both systems, it did not occur to me that you were making a commentary.

9Benquo9yIt actually made me sit and think for a minute (though not the full five - oops) about whether there was any way I could contribute to improving conditions in prisons, that was comparatively low-cost, that I had overlooked. I didn't think of one, but it's worth thinking about some more, probably.
9thomblake9yIn general, how does one determine whether X in HPMOR is supposed to [represent / be commentary on] Y? I could make up a connection between Azkaban and Muggle prisons, probably by running it through my black-box mental model of Eliezer, but I don't feel any kind of justified in the connection.
5JoshuaZ9yIt seems much more like a commentary on the American prison system than anything else. The Western European systems don't generally suffer many of the problems of American Muggle prisons, or the problems they do share are often to a smaller degree. Britain is one of the middle range countries in this regard, but this may be enough for some people to not get the point.

HPMOR is making me rethink human nature -- because of how people react to it. This is a story full of cunning disguises, and readers seem reluctant to see past those disguises. RL rkcerffrq chmmyrzrag ng ubj many readers took forever to decide Quirrell = Voldemort; I think I now know why.

I suggest that humans are instinctive "observation consequentialists." That is, we think someone is competent and good if the observed results of their actions are benign. We weigh what we observe much more strongly than what we merely deduce. If we personally see their actions work out well, we'll put aside a great deal of indirect evidence for their incompetence or vileness.

In HPMOR, Quirrell's directly observed actions are mostly associated with Harry getting to be more of what he thinks he wants. Even rescuing Bellatrix amounts to Harry getting to save a broken lovelorn creature in terms of what we directly observe. To believe Quirrell evil we have to bring in all kinds of expected consequences to weigh against those immediate positive observations.

Does the resistance to saying Quirrell=Voldemort maybe reflect a broader unwillingness to overlook what we directly witness in favor of ab... (read more)

Additionally, abusive relationships persist because the victim just can't help but forgive the abuser when the abuser is choosing to be nice. It can be hard to even believe your own memories of abuse when the abuser is smiling at you and giving you compliments.

I try to recall Quirrell murdering Rita Skeeter in cold blood every time I catch myself feeling like he's the good guy in the story.

I don't think anyone failed to see the signs that Quirrel is Voldemort in HPMOR. There are just those of us who believed it to be a Red Herring, because "that's how stories are supposed to work." If a potential solution to a mystery seems very obviously true in the first quarter of the story, then in most stories it's probably not the true solution. . Of course, at this point there's just no denying it.

I think the reason I was reluctant to accept that Quirrell is Voldemort is that Harry is a lot smarter than me and he trusted Quirrell.

That's actually a surprisingly good reason. In real life, the best rationalist you know is probably not a character in a story and feeling a sense of opposing pressure when you disagree with them is probably a pretty good idea.

5Vaniver9yThis should cause you to update down your view of Aumann's Agreement theorem. (I am reminded of many professional scientists tricked by charlatans when magicians were not fooled- because the scientists knew where to look for truth, and the magicians knew where to look for lies.)
3Jonathan_Elmer9yI have updated by learning of it's existence.
3pedanterrific9yCould you explain what you mean by this? I'm having trouble parsing "update down your view of".

Could you explain what you mean by this? I'm having trouble parsing "update down your view of".

Aumann's Agreement theorem is a neat true result about fictional entities. Its applicability to real entities is subjective, and based on how close you think the real entities are to the fictional entities. Increasing that distance makes AAT less relevant to how you live your life, and increasing that distance is what I mean by "update down your view of."

My feeling is that those entities are really distant, to the point where AAT should not seriously alter your beliefs. "I trusted X because Y trusted X" is a recipe for disaster if you trust Y because of different domain-specific competence, rather than their deep knowledge of X.

8pedanterrific9yRight, ok. I'd already thought that AAT is essentially irrelevant to actual human behavior, so I was confused what brought it up. ETA: No idea why you were downvoted so far.
9Grognor9yOr it's just the halo effect, since Quirrell is awesome and of course awesome people are always good. You are making things up!
8SkyDK9yThis suits extremely well with both local communities relationship to known criminals and to historical figures. Politics is a mind-killer and so on, but a lot of heroes of different nations have done some downright nasty stuff, but managed to keep their reputation due to perceptions about their personal manner. It has recently been used by leaders such as Chavez and Khomeini, but American presidents have also used this effect extensively (why kiss babies?) and historical figures from Cesar to Richard Lionheart and countless of medieval kings have also garnered good will by the actions they have undertaken in public while at the same time doing something in the opposite direction of way greater magnitude through their institutions of power.
8Desrtopa9yI'm skeptical that people who've taken a long time to accept that Quirrel is Voldemort constitute a significant proportion of HPMoR readers. Sure, I've noticed a considerable number of them too, but HPMoR has a lot of readers. There's a risk of availability bias here; a reader who expresses skepticism that Quirrel is Voldemort automatically attracts attention from anyone who thinks it's obvious, whereas other people who think it's obvious don't. Personally, I've had no trouble at all accepting that Quirrell is evil ever since his first class, where he praised Harry's killing instinct. Villains pointing out and encouraging protagonists' darker impulses is a time honored trope, and praising an eleven year old in front of a whole class of other children for his drive to kill seems pretty indicative of evil to me.
7DavidAgain9yPart of the problem is what 'he is Voldemort' really means: he isn't like canon Voldemort or even with how MOR Voldemort is reported to be. As for his obvious evil: it's too obvious, he seems to be the sort who enjoys playing the cynical villain but is actually, if not nice, at least nice to his friends. And Harry seems to be a friend. If he was trying to manipulate Harry he wouldn't have called it intent to kill, he'd have called it being decisive or intelligent or somesuch. Oddly enough, open villainy can be a great cloak for subtle villainy.

To be honest, I'm not even sure if Voldemort is Voldemort, in the sense of being the man behind the proverbial curtain here. Everything about him from the name up screams "assumed persona": he's far more theatrical a figure than a blood-purist demagogue would need to be, and some aspects of what he does even look counterproductive in that context. And while the canon Tom Riddle did all the same stuff and all for no particularly good reason, in the context of MoR I think we can assume that there's an agenda behind it.

I don't know for sure what that agenda is yet, but a good first step seems to be this question: why would you want to pose as a supervillain? As it happens, Eliezer has touched on that before.

6drnickbone9ySome thoughts... When reading through the first time, it did seem really obvious that Quirrell was an improved, much more rational version of Voldemort; so blatantly obvious that it made me think if it was a clear red herring. (In the same way that Snape is the canon red herring.) I wondered if Eliezer had reversed things, so that Snape is the real villain and Quirrell the real good guy... However on re-reading, my prime suspect is now Professor Sprout (Chapter 13):
6gwern9yOf course, everyone knows that, just like they know Dumbledore's not really insane, it's just a cover!
5Multiheaded9yExactly! That's just like what all the most infamous dictators did, and what Machiavelli recommends in The Prince.
3gjm9yYour third sentence (at least up to the semicolon) should be rot13ed, although the proposition it expresses is pretty well known.

Is it me, or does Harry's solution to this dilemma seem rather... half-assed? Ignoring potential the loss of effectiveness from his resolving to suddenly switch directions the first time things get bad, is he really going to know the first time someone dies as a result of his war? How will he know the difference? He's already gotten someone killed by his actions (Rita Skeeter, who he doesn't even know about) and another person gravely injured (that auror hurt by the rocket, who he doesn't know about but admittedly he thought the whole affair was a mistake afterward anyways). How about opportunity costs, the fact that if you handed me 100000 galleons demanding I save at least 10 lives with it I could hand you back 99000 in change. And that's before the "war" even "started"; hostilities are going to get more open and more direct from here. It's madness to think you can finish war, even a weird semi-geurella war like this, with zero casualties, or that you'll know about every one.

With the condition he gave himself anyone should be able to see that "failure" is a foregone conclusion. And there's very good odds he's not going to learn that what he's doing isn't working until he's racked up a far worse bodycount than one.

He's already gotten someone killed by his actions (Rita Skeeter, who he doesn't even know about)

Not for any realistic sense of the phrase 'by his actions'. Quirrel squished Rita of his own accord for his own purposes and Harry's presence there is damn near irrelevant.

Morally he didn't do it, and maybe Quirrel even had a desire to kill her sitting on a back burner before Harry got involved, but her death was caused by her interaction with Harry. It is no stretch to say that there is at least one hypothetical sequence of actions Harry could have taken, even given knowledge at the time (not realizing she worked for Lucius or was an animagus) which would not have resulted in her death. Heck, doing nothing would have resulted in her not death.

That is the level of challenge Harry is taking upon himself. Not just to not kill anyone, not just to keep your hands clean, not just to save people when he can. He's declaring that if any innocent person anywhere dies and there's something he could have done differently to save them, that's his failure condition. You can't do that.

That said, I thought about it a few minutes more and it could be his resolution is really about knowing he doesn't know how bad the situation is. It's certainly possible to get through, say, a political power struggle with someone like Lord Malfoy without anyone getting killed. Harry considers it possible but doesn't yet believe that his opponent is Voldemort. If his opponent is Voldemort avoiding casualties is impossible. If his opponent is someone less evil (though still pretty nasty), and the scope of the conflict is much smaller, he might be able to pull it off.

but a single nameless innocent bystander who catches a Cutting Curse

It seems that he promised himself to stop trying to save everyone even if a minor character dies accidentally. In that case it wouldn't matter if he considered himself directly responsible for the death of Rita Skeeter.

You can't do that.

Indeed. I don't see how he could manage not to compromise his 'every human life is precious' principle in a war. He's hesitating between two possible courses of action -- doing the math or playing Ghandi -- and neither seems like a satisfying choice. He really needs to become omnipotent or at least avoid the necessity of making such a choice.

Quirrel squished Rita of his own accord for his own purposes and Harry's presence there is damn near irrelevant.

Kinda-sort of.

Harry inadvertently gave Fred&George the idea of making up rumours about Quirrel (by telling them he doesn't like rumours, and asking them to leave Quirrel out of it). Which Rita Skeeter published.

And the prank he actually commissioned gave Quirrel a plausible explanation for Rita Skeeter's disappearance.

Morally Harry is not really responsible IMO. But causally, eh... her death would have probably not have happened if he hadn't talked to the Weasley twins about her.

Okay, after thinking a few minutes about the Batman-Joker/where do you put Dark Wizards if you're determined not to use Dementors anymore problem...

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

I can think up of possible ways out of this meta-problem, in order to sustain the dilemma: Perhaps really powerful Dark Wizards require too vast a portion of magical power to sustain the vow. Perhaps there are dark rituals whereby using them, Dark Wizards can break out of even an (ill-named) Unbreakable Vow. Perhaps Dark Wizards tend to have made other rituals that already make them immune to Unbreakable Vows... Perhaps unbreakable vows need be really really specific in some weird manner like "I will not kill Bill Weasley", and "I will not kill Charlie Weasley" necessarily are two separate vows, so that "I will not kill any human" isn't enforceable...

But these are additional problems that are not yet mentioned/listed/foreshadowed in the story. Ugh, Unbreakable Vows seem something of a game breaker right now.

Sidenote: Whenever I think of something such, I worry that the author will think he'll have to rewrite/revise everything he had already planned, and that we'll never get an update again. Not my intention, I swear.

Unbreakable Vows are ridiculously broken, as Harry briefly observes in Ch. 74. They're even more ridiculous in fanfictions where people can just grab a wand and swear something on their life and magic and thereby create a magically binding vow. I had to nerf the hell out of their activation costs just to make the MoR-verse keep running. I can't depict a society with zero agency problems, a perfect public commitment process and an infinite trust engine unless the whole story is about that.

9Lavode9yI mentioned this in the TVtropes thread, but Merlin did not think through his interdict all that well - If you are going to compromise everyones mental integrity to end a cycle of magical destruction, then limiting information spread is an asinie way to do it - it would make infinitely more sense to subject all wizards to a magical prohibition against large scale destruction and killing. Phrasing it so that it wards agaist Dunning-Kruger fueled magical accidents without shutting down experimentation entirely is an interesting exercise, but should be possible.

Frankly, we don't know enough about why Merlin did what he did to judge his action either way -- we don't know what danger was being foreseen, we don't know the limitations of his own powers. There's really no sense in criticizing him or praising him at this point of time - we lack crucial information.

4MugaSofer9yIt's possible that the Interdict is a natural property of the Source of Magic, and was swept up in the legend of Merlin as time passed. We have no real evidence for a time when people could record spells indefinitely, AFAIK.
4Tripitaka9yI understood Merlins Interdict to be interfering with The Source of Magic, not with "everyones mental integrity", which would seem much much harder to do. Magic seems to function by checking prerequisites, like "waved magical active stick in spatial pattern X", "said wingardium leviosa with exact pronounciation Y"- Just add to this list of prerequisites of sufficiently powerfull spells a call of a function which checks wether the user is authorized; if not, check wether user should be authorized. If ve is, add to list of authorized user, if not, deny.
5AndrewH9yWith Unbreakable Vows, the... arbitrator?... sacrifices a portion of their magic permanently yes? One issue is that, after you die you might need that magic for something, like the more magic you have the more pleasant (or less!) magically created heaven is. In any case, even if magical society was fine with sacrifices, they might reason thus, and not use unbreakable vows. Such a society would make investigation (magical!) into potential afterlife a top priority, so lack of use of such a ritual might be compensated by finding out there is a heaven (or hell).
5sketerpot9yThis is a society that has no problem using dementors as prison guards. I'm sure they would be willing to compel each criminal to act as the binder for one other criminal. It seems like a very small price to pay.

You could just strip their magic.

If there exists any ritual that happens to permanently remove a portion of somebody's magic (Unbreakable Vow), then you could just repeat that ritual meaninglessly until that person was completely stripped of magic permanently. Or you could use other rituals which require similar permanent sacrifices until you achieve the same effect. Keeping a permanently magicless wizard imprisoned is a trivial task, and obviates the need for dementors.

Side Note: That's actually my pet theory on why Dementors as prison guards are acceptable to the public. It could be that governments used to use rituals to permanently strip prisoners of magic before imprisoning them. This would make them a revenue center instead of a funds sink. This would naturally encourage the magical government to find more and more excuses to imprison people, similar to how the 'tough on crime' cycle is accelerated by the for-profit prison systems in some places. A police state would be soon to follow. Then, after a cultural revolution, Dementors were adopted as the less evil option to house criminals. It also helps explain why so many rituals are banned. It's unlikely to be true in HPMoR, but it'd be a nice thought for another fanfic.

Another problem with this system is the permanence. People get sent to Azkaban for less than lifetime sentences, but if you use this to strip someone of magic it's gone forever. I suppose you could use degrees of magic removal as punishment but that seems hard to balance to different powerlevels of wizard.

4Rob Bensinger9yA permanent loss of magic is probably much more ethically justifiable than a temporary period of torture.

Perhaps there are dark rituals whereby using them, Dark Wizards can break out of even an (ill-named) Unbreakable Vow.

Well, they can die. I've seen nothing to suggest that Vows destroy Horcruxes.

I wonder if this fact is possibly relevant to some Cunning Plot in which - perhaps just as one among many positive results - Voldemort "died" and resurrected via horcrux in order to escape an Unbreakable Vow. I remember in response to chapter 84, people were wondering what, if Voldie's apparent death at Godric's Hollow was intentional, was in it for him.

5Desrtopa9yBut will they come back free of the Vow? It seems entirely plausible to me that it would follow them into their new incarnation.
4Viliam_Bur9yThey could still break it once per incarnation.
4wirov9y… thus killing one human per incarnation, thus creating one horcrux per incarnation. Now, if there were some way to automate the whole getting-a-body-business …

Unbreakable Vow anyone? Just give Dark Wizards the option "either you take an Unbreakable Vow to never knowingly kill/torture/Imperio a human being ever again, nor to ever knowingly assist in such, or we just execute you right now".

I don't think it would be that easy. This is isomorphic to making wishes with an evil genie--or coding a human-level AI with a list of deontological commands. It could be done, but probably not in an EY fanfic and probably not without a skilled magical lawyer.

9[anonymous]9yThe difference is that evil wizards are not, as a rule, a different intellectual order than we are. We have some idea of their set of options. Not so for a powerful AI. A dark lord is at least somewhat bounded by the human imagination.

are not, as a rule, a different intellectual order than we are

Yes they are— in the sense that they will have decades to spend ruminating on workarounds, experimenting, consulting with others. And when they find a solution the result is potentially an easily transmitted whole class compromise that frees them all at once.

Decades of dedicated human time, teams of humans, etc. are all forms of super-humanity. If you demanded that the same man hours be spent drafting the language as would be spent under its rule, then I'd agree that there was no differential advantage, but then it would be quite a challenge to write the rule.

7Lavode9yalso, unlike the case of an AI where you have to avoid crippling it, lest it becomes pointless to build it in the first place, using unbreakable wows as a punishment for grand crimes against humanity means that the restraints can be nearly abritarily harsh. The people writing the wows have no need to preserve the decision space they leave their victim or respect their autonomy. TLDR: Voldemort would not be able to spend decades thinking of ways around the wow, because doing so would violate any sensibly formulated wow. (stray toughts, sure, you have to permit that, or the wow kills in a day. Sitting down and working at it? No.)
8wedrifid9yKill them. With great power comes great getting-held-responsible-if-necessary. Oh, no, this is much better. Magical evilness castration.
6beoShaffer9yI thought Dumbeldore said that he found a way to imprison Grindelwald without dementors but I can't find were he says that. edit fixed major spelling error can->can't

"Are there Dementors in Nurmengard?"

"What?" said the old wizard. "No! I would not have done that even to him -"

The old wizard stared at the young boy, who had straightened, and his face changed.

"In other words," the boy said, as though talking to himself without any other people in the room, "it's already known how to keep powerful Dark Wizards in prison, without using Dementors. People know they know that."

4anotherblackhat9yDumbledore doesn't come right out and say it, but it's there in Chapter 77;

That theory is possibly the most elaborate sour grapes I've ever seen.

Here's one more option:
e) People don't think enough about the level of brutality in prisons, and when they do think and talk about it they find it easier to applaud brutality; because anyone who spoke against it "would associate themselves with criminals, with weakness, with distasteful things that people would rather not think about", while speaking in its favor make you look tough on crime.

Given political discussions I've partaken in other forums, I know full well that whenever I condemned prison rape and suggested ways in which it might be reduced/prevented, the typical response was something to the effect of "Why do you love criminals so much?"

5wedrifid9yFor example: Punish rapes among inmates in the same manner that other rapes of citizens by other citizens. Punish rapes of inmates by wardens in the same way with the additional loading that should be applied to all abuses of authority, particularly state sanctioned authority. But to do that we would need to replace Uncle Sam with Uncle Ben [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Ben#.22With_great_power_comes_great_responsibility.22] .
3ygert9yLocking criminals up for years, away from everyone else, seems like a horrible way of scaring others into not committing crimes. Following this train of thought, ideally prisons should be replaced with a more public/visible type of punishment. Maybe caning [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caning]?

The Killing Curse is unblockable, unstoppable, and works every single time on anything with a brain.

Professor Quirinus Quirrell, HPMOR chapter 16. Unless he's wrong or lying, nonsapient animals are killed by it just fine. (In canon, doesn't the Fake Defence Professor Du Jour use it on a spider in, er, book 3 or thereabouts?)

Which reminds me of something. At (IIRC) that point in canon, the teacher who's introducing the Killing Curse says something like "It kills absolutely anything, every time. Only one person has ever survived one, and he's right here in this classroom". Here in HPMOR we have Quirrell introducing the Killing Curse in a classroom that's got Harry Potter in it, and everyone knows the story just as much as in canon, and he conspicuously doesn't make any such remark.

Maybe it's just coincidence. But (assuming, as is customary, that Q=V) it looks to me like another bit of evidence that in HPMOR what happened at Godric's Hollow was not that V. attempted to AK Harry and failed.

6kilobug9yNot related to the current discussion, but I was always very unsettled by that kind of affirmation. From both canon and MoR, the Killing Curse looks like missile spell. A bolt of green light flows from the wand to the target, and kills it. But the bolt can't get around material objects, it doesn't go through them, and it doesn't switch directions to avoid them like a seeker missile could do. It can't be blocked by raw magic (Protego and similar) but what prevents Actio, Wingdarium Leviosa or Free Transfiguration to be used to create a physical barrier to block the spell ? And going even further, couldn't armor be made to block the spell ? It kills through clothes, but can very thick clothes prevent the effect ? If you make an armor with two layers, physically separated, the outer layer kept from touching the inner layer through electromagnetic forces or magic, would the outer layer count as an obstacle ?

The grim version of an ongoing joke in some potter circles is that you could strap a bunch of puppies to your body and use them as living armor.

My favorite mental image is covering yourself in bees. What can I say? I'm a fan of Eddie Izzard being able to beat the Dark Lord.

6gjm9yYeah, it's yet another thing JKR didn't think out very well. It's said to be a super-extra-deadly unblockable spell, but in practice there's nothing in what actually happens to show that it's any more dangerous than any number of other spells.
4glumph9yNothing. Indeed, Dumbledore blocks the killing curse in canon (Order of the Phoenix) by animating a statue to jump in front of it. So if AK is in any way unblockable, it is unblockable only by magical means.

The introspective morality-dump chapters are not my favorites (eg. I find the 'imagine distant descendants' to be entirely useless intuitively, and would prefer versions of the update-now argument which are more like 'decide now how you would update your beliefs based on predictions you make now failing or succeeding, since once they actually fail or succeed you'll be embarrassed & biased'), but oh well let's begin analysis.

A year ago, Dad had gone to the Australian National University in Canberra for a conference where he'd been an invited speaker, and he'd taken Mum and Harry along. And they'd all visited the National Museum of Australia, because, it had turned out, there was basically nothing else to do in Canberra. The glass display cases had shown rock-throwers crafted by the Australian aborigines - like giant wooden shoehorns, they'd looked, but smoothed and carved and ornamented with the most painstaking care. In the 40,000 years since anatomically modern humans had migrated to Australia from Asia, nobody had invented the bow-and-arrow. It really made you appreciate how non-obvious was the idea of Progress. Why would you even think of Invention as something important,

... (read more)
9Vaniver9yBurn them.
9Will_Newsome9yIf you knew that a woman in your village was communing via socially unapproved rituals with a transhuman intelligence of unknown nature and preferences, would you convince your village to burn her to death? Ideally you'd just use the Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol, but then her own soul remains at risk—burning her alive at least gives her strong incentive to repent.

Object Class: Roko Containment Protocol

But where would we get that many D-class personnel?

6Eugine_Nier9yFor the record, I don't think that was a good idea under any of the plausible scenarios. Edit: do the people upvoting this have any clue what I'm referring to?
4Vaniver9yIt was a question of expectation, not preference.
6drethelin9yMy theory would be they just have some weird powers and never really find out what it means to be a wizard. Various Mediums are probably unknowing Muggleborns.
6JoshuaZ9yWhile it is clear that the Tasmanian aborigines did lose a lot of technological know-how, there's some dispute over whether they actually lost fire. Unfortunately, I don't have a great source for this. The claim is sourced in the relevant Wikipedia article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_Tasmanians], but the citation is to a dead-link.
6gwern9yAs I pointed out to the person who brought that up in the discussion I linked, the dispute is pretty desperate pleading.

Hmm, reading your argument there I'm convinced. The tertiary nature of the sources claiming they had fire-making, combined with the well-documented preservation of fires are both pretty strong arguments.

If your argument is simply "brutality acts as a deterrent," it's almost certainly true. If your argument is, "Therefore the current level of prison brutality is optimal," or, "we should be happy with prison brutality," the only counterargument needed is that nobody's provided any evidence at all for those positions.

But if either of those is the assertion, here are some counterarguments: 1) There is a countereffect: longer (and therefore more brutal) prison sentences increase rates of recidivism. 2) Flogging and caning are brutal deterrents. Many (most?) people will take a punishment of flogging over a punishment of a long prison sentence when given the choice. Ergo at least for many, prisons are more brutal than literal torture. 3) From a cursory glance at stats, violent crime rates don't seem to be much lower in countries with higher incidences of prison rape or prison hospitalizations. I would like to see some rigorous analysis on this. 4) Violent crime rates don't seem to be much higher in countries that employ flogging or caning. Again, not a rigorous statistical analysis, but weak evidence nonetheless. 5) Let's not forget that we're trying to mini... (read more)

Perhaps a better suggestion is that his "down time" involves synchronisation of his memories/program state between Horcruxes, and it gets worse the further Pioneer moves from Earth... Even with magic, there's no way round speed of light limits.

Quirrell probably wasn't expecting that, which could explain why his days as a Dark Lord are numbered (and also explains why he's desperate to train up Harry as a replacement, assuming his goal of uniting the wizarding world is sincere).

I'm also wondering if the 6 hour limit of Time-Turners is a crucial variable somehow, so that he could synch at distances up to 6 light-hours, but not otherwise. Does anyone know when the Pioneer 11 probe got more than 6 light-hours away from Earth? Was it around 1991/1992??

As of February 8, 2012, sunlight takes 11.9 hours to get to Pioneer 11 at its approximate distance. (Wikipedia)

It's been on its way since April 1973 (for right about 39 years), so assuming a steady speed, it would've passed the six-hour limit roughly 19,5 years ago, or in late 1992.

3chaosmosis9yApparation might get around that. Fawkes might too.
5pedanterrific9yApparation and Portkeys, probably not- I don't believe we have an MoR viewpoint experience of Apparation, but in canon the interval is noticeable. An international Portkey is described in MoR as If the transit time increases with distance, and is perceivable from one point on Earth to another, it's probably not FTL. Phoenices are more viable, though. The description / speculation on firetravel in Chapter 82 definitely leaves open the possibility.

In Ch. 7, the Harry-and-Draco conversation needs to be toned down even further because multiple parents have announced their intention to have their children read this fanfic – and I know that revision is going to be controversial, but Draco’s current conversation is also a little out-of-character by the standards of the Draco in later chapters.

I am very saddened by this. Chapter 7 was what really hooked me into the story. Half of it was Harry's incredible "This is why science ROCKS" speech, which is still one of my most favorite monologues ever. And half of it is the pure emotional shock of hearing an 11-year-old boy casually say he plans to rape a 10-year-old girl. It had an immediate physical effect on me, and the after-effects lingered for the rest of the day. The fact that it came so out of the blue in such an unexpected setting... it was damned effective. I will be very sad to see it go.

This raises a question for me - I know of at least one 11 year old reading this story. Sometimes kids read things above their grade level, and are exposed to concepts earlier than usual (I suspect that happened to almost everyone on LW). So... is HPMoR intended primarily for adult... (read more)

Strongly agree with this.

I have no problem with making Draco's character more consistent, and if Eliezer honestly feels that that should mean removing or altering his casual dehumanisation of peasants, so be it.

But I urge Eliezer to seriously ask himself, with all his strength as a rationalist, about this and any other changes: "Would this be sacrificing the quality of the narrative for the sake of making a very, very mature story superficially more marketable to children?"

And yes, I feel those apparently charged words are wholly appropriate: removing a rape reference is just a terribly superficial way of making the story 'kid-friendly', because it isn't kid-friendly in much, much deeper ways. If a kid isn't ready to know what 'rape' means, would you want him to read Chapter 82? Or the Bellatrix chapters? If anything the rape reference in Ch. 7 works as an excellent gatekeeper, filtering the audience before the really disturbing stuff begins to kick in.

675th9yI agree, and will be more blunt: making that change strikes me as the kind of thing a conservative Republican Christian home-schooler parent would do to their children's books using Liquid Paper and an ink pen, rather than something that a rationalist — who understands that someday kids need to realize that the world sucks and human beings do awful things to each other — would do to his own story, which he has made abundantly clear is intended for adults. Eliezer should simply advise those parents not to read the story to their children, unless they're absolutely certain that the children are ready for grown-up subject matter.
5roystgnr9yLeading HPMoR's list of kid-unfriendly points: the question "what extenuating circumstances could make it right to torture an innocent person to death" is integral to the plot. Even if everything else that can be mangled into a toned-down version is so mangled, the result will merely be more artistically compromised, not more kid-friendly. On the other hand, the definition of kid-friendly keeps changing. The Hunger Games trilogy includes (somewhat indirect, but still quite clear) references to prostitution (both in poverty-induced despair and as a result of human trafficking), as the cherry on top of the whole "children being forced to murder each other" plot line. I would still suggest changing the rape reference for character consistency reasons. At least, Draco shouldn't think of it as "rape" - ISTR studies show that even real life rapists typically find some "she was asking for it" rationalization for their attitudes. MoR:Draco does an excellent job rationalizing pro-Death-eater attitudes later in the fic. A pro-rape rationalization might be different in that Harry ought to be able to see through something so appalling immediately, but from Draco's PoV there ought to be some self-justifying framing to it.
3someonewrongonthenet8yOne thing is clear...hpmor's Harry probably wouldn't approve of toning things down in a story just because children might here it. The danger of exposing children is that they might get into misguided ideas, or get damaged by the exposure. The average child has heard rape jokes, so they aren't going to be damaged reading about someone talking about rape. Keep in mind, in this story we hear about murder and graphic depictions of both fantasy and realistic torture...removing the rape line is not going to make this that much more child friendly. Nor will they get misguided ideas from that line, since it is clear that those types of statements are not acceptable and are the hallmark of evil people. Really, the only people benefiting from the removal are the parents, who don't have to worry about awkward questions.

Does anyone else think it plausible that Harry's third last name, "Verres," comes from Mr. Verres in the webcomic El Goonish Shive? EGS Mr. Verres is a government scientist with a bespectacled semi-magical mad scientist son, and pretty much everything else in MOR is a shout-out.

Accidental, but I'm willing to claim credit for it. It started as a portmanteau of Vassar and Herreshoff.

The stated function of a prison is to imprison (i.e. detain). If the function of the prison was to get people physically hurt, then the state would have official torturers to brutalize people to such exact specifications as their convictions by the courts (e.g. official sentences would state things like "ten years in prison, plus three beatings and one anal rape per month", and the state would hire official rapists for the purpose).

If brutality was supposed to be part of a prison's specification, then we would have the responsibility of quantifying how much brutality is deserved for each crime. (the question you asked "How brutal should they be?" doesn't only work for people criticizing their current brutality, but also for the people who support it, you see)

But the delegation of this task randomly to convicts speaks of the same hypocrisy that Quirrel mocks in the chapters in question.

8fubarobfusco9yThere are several functions commonly ascribed to prisons, including: * Detention: to prevent people with criminal tendencies from having the opportunity to commit crimes against the general public, by physically separating them from the public. * Deterrence: to deprive criminals of the pleasures of normal society, in order to discourage other people from becoming criminals. If you would like to live with your partner, children, and friends in relative comfort instead of with a cellmate in relative discomfort, you have a motivation for staying out of prison. * Rehabilitation: to cure criminals of tendencies that may lead them to commit crimes; for instance, lack of cultural or moral education, or lack of non-criminal job skills. This is given as a reason for prisons to offer classes, job training, etc. * Penitence: to put criminals in an isolating environment where they will reflect on their crimes and regret them — or a panoptic [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon] environment in which they will internalize the conduct standards of the authorities. (I'm not disagreeing with you on the badness of prison brutality; just on the "stated function" claim.)

This implies that nonsapient animals do have a soul, which I didn't expect in the MoR-verse.

Or simply that the “separate the soul from the body” is just a mumbo-jumbo explanation from people that believe in souls.

I think the downvotes come from you making a claim about the quoted text that doesn't seem particularly well supported. I would think that what you quoted is evidence against his dark side being Voldemort (since it emphasizes that they aren't really separate entities, just separate mind states), though I do think Harry is a Horcrux.

I think your edit is a bit annoying in tone. (Complaining about downvotes and groupthink + only having -1 karma + calling the site bizarre and unhealthy + unnecessary sarcasm)

In canon, Bellatrix Lestrange is married to Rodolphus Lestrange and does not have a child. In MoR, Bellatrix Black is unmarried, but has a child- Lesath Lestrange, the acknowledged bastard of Rastaban Lestrange. (In canon Rodolphus' brother's name was Rabastan, but I'm assuming that's a typo.) Lesath is currently a fifth year, so he was born in either '75 or '76. Bellatrix was actively leading attacks as a Death Eater in '71. Presumably a pregnancy would require some amount of maternity leave from the whole 'going on raids, fighting Aurors' thing.

So. Why would Voldemort allow / order one of his most powerful servants to have a child?

Um. Maybe he was experimenting with the powerful magic protection that a mother's love grants her child?

6Eugine_Nier9yGiven that his ideology is based to blood purity, he may very well (at least put up a show of) encouraging purebloods to have children. Also, given what we know about Bellatrix's relationship to Voldemort, maybe Lesath is actually Voldemort's son and Rastaban adopted him after Voldemort's downfall, falsely acknowledging paternity so he wouldn't have the stigma of being the son of a dark lord.
4pedanterrific9yHe chose to express this viewpoint by ordering his extremely loyal, highly skilled unmarried female pureblood warrior-assassin to have a kid in the middle of a war? This is possible, but... he's kind of, you know, wimpy. I'm just not seeing it. (Also, it seems like we might have gotten some indication that Quirrell has interacted with him somehow, if this were true.) Rastaban was in Azkaban immediately after Voldemort's downfall. Also, Lesath was somewhere around five years old at the time.
3Aharon9y1) Even in Muggle society, there are women who work close to their normal capacity despite pregnancy up to shortly before birth. 2) The physiological consequences after birth can probably be healed by magic. 3) Voldemort might also enjoy causing her psychological pain by having her become attached to the child she will bear and then taking it away from her afterwards. He continued torturing her well after he already had her total loyalty, so this might just be another way to do so.
3SkyDK9ya) I s'pose he does expect losses. Replenishing his ranks in the long term seems to be an acceptable idea (he is, more or less, immortal) b) Pity points? Perhaps the good guys held back against a pregnant woman? c) How long is she realistically out of the game, considering wet-nurses, time-turners and so on: half a year? d) If Bellatrix had gotten reckless, having a kid might have been a good way to rein her in a little bit..
6Logos019yEmotional blackmail on LeStrange. Also -- half a year is too long a time period. by far. Figure without time turners but with healing magics and potions an eight month birth. Rip the kid out of her womb, and heal her back into active duty. You lose her services for maybe a month. (Up to six months in and she's still combat-capable.) Heal both kid and mother, and there you go. (also, if we can assume accelerated gestation potions then we get even more silly. No "downtime" at all No need for time turners.)

Oh, Harry. Who have you just doomed with your folly?

Harry realizes the error, and yet continues to generalize from fictional morality.

Which error does he realize? So far as I can tell, he sees a failure mode on both sides, and so chooses the best compromise he can come up with.

Two illustrations:

It was abruptly very clear that while Harry was going around trying to live the ideals of the Enlightenment, Dumbledore was the one who'd actually fought in a war. Nonviolent ideals were cheap to hold if you were a scientist, living inside the Protego bubble cast by the police officers and soldiers whose actions you had the luxury to question. Albus Dumbledore seemed to have started out with ideals at least as strong as Harry's own, if not stronger; and Dumbledore hadn't gotten through his war without losing friends and killing enemies and sacrificing allies.

For commentary, we turn to Bismarck: "A fool learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others."

Even if Dumbledore was right, and the true enemy was utterly mad and evil... in a hundred million years the organic lifeform known as Lord Voldemort probably wouldn't seem much different from all the other bewildered children of Ancient Earth. Whatever Lord Voldemort had done to himself, whatever Dark rituals seemed so horribly irrevocable on a merely human scale, it wouldn't be beyond curing with the technology of a hundred million years. Killing him, if you didn't ha

... (read more)

Why does he think the future will hold life to be as precious as the present does, instead of cheap, as it did and will again in Malthusian economies?

Because he has no intention of letting that happen.

6Vaniver9yIntentions are insufficient.
5thomblake9yNo, they're both violent primitive barbarians. One preferred a bow, the other a spear, if I remember correctly. And Harry is not trying to look mere thousands of years into the future. No, I'm pretty sure Harry thinks the future will hold life to be much more precious than the present does. As for why, probably bad reasoning, but I wouldn't hold that against him. Moral progress maybe? The optimism of youth? Because if the future doesn't hold things that are similar to us but better then it's a Bad End and probably won't hold anyone whose opinion we care about?
5Vaniver9yAnd yet, we have classics departments. I suspect Harry will not be disappointed if the future he envisages fails to arrive in a few thousand years.

Quirrell's tale of "I played a hero, but it didn't get me political power" doesn't hold up. The "lonely superhero" is just as much a mere storytelling convention as the "zero-casualties superhero". Either Quirrell is leaving something out, or the author is ignoring real-world politics for storytelling convenience.

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity. Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington. This is true in nondemocracies too: consider the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Marlborough, or Sir Francis Drake.

What gets you loneliness and isolation is being a pioneer.

In real life, heroes go unrewarded exactly and only when their enemies aren't yet regarded as enemies by the rest of society.

The socially isolating thing isn't fighting Nazis when you're an American, it's fighting Nazis when you're a German. Being a reformer is isolating.

"The lonely superhero" is just as much a mere literary convention as "the zero-casualties superhero".

Of course, "the lonely superhero" reflects an underlying truth. The real brave... (read more)

Good points, but reading carefully, it seems Riddle's hero persona wasn't a pure "lonely hero." Rather:

There was a man who was hailed as a savior. The destined scion, such a one as anyone would recognize from tales, wielding justice and vengeance like twin wands against his dreadful nemesis.


Several times he led forces against the Death Eaters, fighting with skillful tactics and extraordinary power. People began to speak of him as the next Dumbledore, it was thought that he might become Minister of Magic after the Dark Lord fell.


It was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant... I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward.

In particular, Quirrell's Yule speech reminded Bones of one or more speeches hero-Riddle apparently gave, which she describes as "castigating the previous generation for their disunity against the Death Eaters."

So taken together, it seems hero-Riddle was widely liked, and could have bee... (read more)

In real life, successfully fighting societally recognized enemies gets you all kinds of political opportunity.

Well, yeah, it got Quirrel's "hero" political opportunity too. He was invited back to the fold of the Most Ancient House, and after the death of everyone else there, he would have wielded the vote in the Wizengamot. But they didn't sufficiently obey him as leader.

Look at American Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Harrison, and Washington.

Alcibiades was accused and recalled by the Atheneans while on the expedition he had been advocating. Pausanias (victor of Plataies) and Miltiades (victor of Marathon) barely lasted a year after their famous victories, before getting accused of treason.

But within the context of the story, Quirrell's "I fought the villain but got no respect" is nonsense. Humans don't work that way

Knowing something of Ancient Greek history, and how they tended to treat all their most successful generals, it seemed very believable to me.

Successful generals are threats. You also see this in Byzantine history (inspiring a similar situation in Asimov's Foundation universe), and Chinese history too: a successful general like Belisarius becomes a threat to the throne and may be sabotaged in various ways. Belisarius was lucky: all his emperor did was short-change him and set him impossible missions. Chinese generals might just see themselves executed.

4Eugine_Nier9yDepends on the situation. A good Samaritan who stopped the kidnapping of the president's daughter because he was in the right place at the right time will get some fame but probably won't be able to leverage that incident into a political career.
4glumph9yI'm assuming the 'past-Quirrell' that Quirrell tells Hermoine about in Chapter 84 is the 'young man' that Amelia Bones believes is now Quirrell. (Is this reasonable?) If that's the case, then one way of understanding the situation is this: Riddle assumed two personas---Voldemort and Light Riddle---in order to experiment with different ways of acquiring power. He found that the Voldemort-path was much more preferable on account of the loyalty he could obtain via the Dark Mark. The Dark Mark was so effective that the loyalty he earned as Light Riddle seemed negligible by comparison; thus he complains that he got no help from his 'allies'. So Riddle retired his Light persona by faking his own death and continued only as Voldemort. Now that he sees Harry as a potential puppet, he wants to ensure that he/Harry have loyalty comparable to that secured with a Dark Mark. He therefore calls for a 'Light Mark' in his speech before Christmas. EDIT: Of course 'Light Riddle' (if he existed) and Voldemort would have looked different; Minerva remembers Voldemort as snake-like. If the above is right, then Voldemort's disfiguration would have to be a disguise rather than real damage from Dark Rituals.
4pedanterrific9yIt's certainly what I immediately assumed. Not actually Riddle, but yeah. Amelia claims that Quirrell's Yule speech calling for a Mark of Britain / Light Mark "struck her as familiar", and was one of the clues that brought to mind the vanished Noble Hero. Or he could have been possessing the actual body of his former classmate.

Let's back up. Here is the history of this conversation:

  1. Eliezer stated that "Azkaban is commentary on Muggle prisons".

  2. JoshuaZ replied:

It seems much more like a commentary on the American prison system than anything else. The Western European systems don't generally suffer many of the problems of American Muggle prisons, or the problems they do share are often to a smaller degree. Britain is one of the middle range countries in this regard, but this may be enough for some people to not get the point.

Notice what this says: Western European prisons are so good that Eliezer's commentary is really only about American prisons. (Also note the implication that the Muggle world is partitioned into two regions: Western Europe and the United States.)

3. I -- having become familiar with the similarities and differences between the U.S. and European criminal justice systems as a result of the Amanda Knox case -- disputed this, in a comment whose point was to argue that Western European prisons are not pleasant places. They are, in fact, really awful places. Yes, they may not be as bad as U.S. prisons, but they are still bad: places of torment, suffering and despair, despite... (read more)

No, this one is 11pm, the previous one was 2am.

I've always hated (not really but I've always disliked) people who take pains to be polite in discourse for the same reasons that I dislike people who take pains to frame themselves as victims.

You should get over that (the former). You'll end up hating people simply for not being utterly naive. Getting along with people is necessary if you wish to achieve anything.

Manners are almost always used as a ploy for power.

Yes. It is a kind of power that people are willing to grant you and that, as far as ways to grab power go, has rather good externalities. Start using it.

Manners hinder productive conversation and allow for framing techniques that automatically give certain positions more weight than others.

Both good and bad manners do that. The bad ones make it easier.

I care about downvoting because it reflects widespread ignorance and most people here seem to not recognize the ignorance.

You are wrong. I haven't followed closely enough to know whether the other guy was right but your own behavior in your comments is more than sufficient to get downvoted according to local norms - and you'd be shunned or shamed in most social environments where you tried to pull this crap.

I don't think I need to be polite when I'm having everything I write be downvoted and "argued" against by about twelve different people.

Neither of these gives a licence for rudeness. Having a variety of people argue against a position is not a reason that defense of that position should be less polite. As to downvoting- you yourself said that people should care less about downvoting, so maybe do so?

In general, you need to think carefully about what your goals are. If your goals are to convince people then being polite helps. If your goal is to convince bystanders of your position or something similar then being polite still helps, because people are more inclined to take a position seriously when the one arguing for it is calm and polite. At a completely selfish level, being rude makes it harder to accept that one is wrong, due to cognitive dissonance issues and invested-effort/sunk cost issues. So if one wants to become less wrong one should try to be polite for purely selfish reasons.

I am not downvoting this comment of yours, but here's a piece of advice: attacking the whole forum over a single downvote is probably the best way to ensure you'll get more downvotes.

If you want to get fewer downvotes, best way possible is to complain less about the occasional downvotes you will get. All that a downvote means is that one person out of the hundreds that visit the site didn't like your comment. But when you attack a whole community over what a single member of it did, well... that'll cause more people to think that such an attack merits a few more downvotes.

Rowling made a mistake and gave Dudley a PS in 1993.

I am totally using that as my rejoinder there - "If Dudley can get a Playstation in 1993, clearly Playstations are timeless in canon."

Wait, you can violate the six-hour limit on backward movement of information with Playstations?

Does that mean the Department of Mysteries has a Playstation department?

plots evilly

No, no, the sand in the Time-Turners' hourglasses is made of ground-up Playstations.

4[anonymous]9yPresumably Sega is the only organization with the power to stop PS from taking over the world, hence their constant warfare in Megatokyo.

That sounds kinda awesome in a "specialization is for insects" way, but at the end of the eon you're still dying of appendicitis.

Back up one step further: what evidence do we have that the Interdict actually exists? As opposed to, say, all powerful wizards simply having the same inclination toward secrecy and self-discovery. How did Quirrell put it...

The fools who can't resist meddling are killed by the lesser perils early on, and the survivors all know that there are secrets you do not share with anyone who lacks the intelligence and the discipline to discover them for themselves! Every powerful wizard knows that!

I've never received the impression that wizards powerful enough to be subject to the Interdict have actually tried to circumvent it. If all known examples of written instructions for powerful spells were gibberish to begin with, would the world look any different? Not to mention, why would it be necessary to cast a huge mind-altering spell to make people do what they were inclined to do anyway?

So all of the above are obvious rationalizations and are also pathetic.

This is at least rude. Downvoted without having to read more. Learn about the principle of charity.


Illusion of transparency.


Unnecessarily insulting. What do you mean on the object-level, and how could you say it in a way that is not rude?

Alsadius asserts that I'm overconfident and that I'm not thinking very clearly. That only makes sense if my comment is wrong

No. You can have true conclusions from a fallacious argument or false premises, or true beliefs following from faulty reasoning. And for example, precisely 100% is overconfident that the sun will rise tomorrow, even if it turns out to be correct.

Obviously I'm not criticizing literally each and every one of the people who visit this site,

Again, illusion of transparency. If you say the community, and the community means "the sum of [all] the individuals" here, then it is not obvious that you do not mean "each and every one of the people who visit this site".

it makes sense to talk about groupthink

'Groupthink' is a highly technical term, and shouldn't be bandied about. If you're going to assert tha... (read more)

Essentially? It has to happen at some point along the timeline, and whatever engine runs magic finds it simplest to give visions simultaneous to the decisions that cause them. (Or at least, contribute in some major way to them.)

Or, in other words, enforced narrative causality.

I'm not sure how my mind dug this up, but way back in Chapter 17, Harry visits Dumbledore's office and is overloaded with bizarreness: Dumbledore sets fire to a chicken, he gives him his father's rock, he gives him his mother's potions textbook which contains a terrible secret... but one of these things is not like the others. Dumbledore gave Harry his father's rock, with instructions that Harry satisfied by creating a magical ring and wearing it at all times.

Blur out all the hilarious details for a minute, and that scene is: Dumbledore made Harry create a magical ring and wear it at all times, and distracted him so well that he never thought about what the ring does. My hypothesis is that some aspect of magic is governed by an XP-like mechanic, and that sustained transfiguration (especially of large masses) is an unusually effective way of gaining magical power. Dumbledore wants Harry to exploit this, but he considers it a major secret, so he substituted a nonsensical explanation and prepared a collection of very flashy distractions to keep it from being questioned. He might've even left the real explanation in his pensieve, so that he wouldn't have to lie. Read in this light, the scene makes a whole lot more sense. It explains Harry's anomalous magical power. It explains Dumbledore's anomalous magical power.

It is also the only way Dumbledore could truly mark someone as an equal.

Hasn't Harry basically signed up to be a Dark Lord in 85, at least by the Sorting Hat's standards?

then the gloves come off and the villains die as fast as possible; and I won't pretend that real people in real life can go through a war without sacrificing anyone...

Compare the talk with the Sorting Hat:

I am not Dark Lord material!

“Yes, you are. You really, really are.”

Why! Just because I once thought it would be cool to have a legion of brainwashed followers chanting ‘Hail the Dark Lord Harry’?

“Amusing, but that was not your first fleeting thought before you substituted something safer, less damaging. No, what you remembered was how you considered lining up all the blood purists and guillotining them.

Oh god, I have this mental image of Harry standing next to a blood soaked guillotine insisting that he is a Light Lord!

5Eliezer Yudkowsky9yAaand lo, this shows up:
3pleeppleep9yIs the cutie mark supposed to be a patronus? I can't tell.
7[anonymous]9yI don't think that's quite fair to Harry - he hasn't promised to kill everyone who disagrees with him, just "the villains". That's a pretty nebulous group, but I think given context we can infer that he's not planning a Reign of Terror-style pogrom just yet. Sounds to me like he'll pursue non-violent methods unless he thinks the only reasonable way to save lives is by killing the bad guys. I mean, if it was just Lucius Malfoy leading the other side, and Lucius was only trying to further the pure-blood cause through political maneuvering and rallies and stuff, there'd be no reason to up the ante by getting violent. On the other hand, if there are people out there who are trying to kill Harry's friends in order to bring down the anti-purist movement then NOT responding with force would be bringing a knife to a gunfight. I thought that was the point of this whole soliloquy - it's fine to oppose plots with plots, but you have to be prepared to admit that non-violent counter-plots might not be enough against someone who is willing to actually kill people to get the job done.

So the (physical) conditions of the facility may be almost beside the point (despite the fact that this is what it is most socially acceptable to focus on).

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that massive institutionalized rape is not beside the point.

The Parlevar were wiped out entirely. Both species of chimp have an ICUN Red List status of Endangered. I would suggest that being wiped out or nearly so by competitive pressure brought to bear by close genetic relatives who took up a different strategy is not a marker of a strategy being an "evolutionary success".

Idea: someone should compile a list of times when Quirrell says "Interesting" or is otherwise surprised by Harry.

He does it a lot, and we might see an interesting pattern emerge.

Hurting people is bad.

[-][anonymous]9y 13

I guess this has come up before, but I take it the reason to be Voldemort is that as soon as muggles get load of magic, they'll figure out how become magical, transmute 3 stage thermonuclear devices from concrete, apparate them over cities, etc. So magic means the total removal of all technological or economic restrictions on nuclear warfare. And time travel.

So if you figured the muggles would discover the magical world pretty soon, and if you wanted there to be any people at all in the future, you'd have to make the society of magical knowledge completely closed. This means taking over, at least, the magical world and probably the muggle one too. And in order to prevent anyone from seeing magic as technology and doing productive research on it, you'd have to make it completely scary, so that their fear and moral hatred would override their ability to study it proficiently.

If that's true, then muggle science is similar a soon-to-be-uncontrollable AI (it is at least by many orders of magnitude a better optimizing system then the magical world's own research efforts), and Voldemort is a last ditch effort at reboxing. If that's right, it seems hard to argue with Voldemort.

I think people in the Less Wrong community are a little too fast to analogize any existential threat to the threat of rogue AI. The threat of people blowing up the world with nuclear weapons seems a lot more analogous to the threat of people blowing up the world with nuclear weapons.

I was thinking about it earlier and Harry has massively underranked the utility of Horcruxes. If one person must die so that a different person can live 100K+ more years then that is an incredibly desirable tradeoff from an impartial utilitarian standpoint and everyone should be doing this. You could even choose to murder only old and dying people so that there would be almost no loss of net time that people spend alive. He dismissed it way too quickly during his conversation with Dumbledore.

8Locke9yI think it has to be cold-blooded murder, not a utilitarian sacrifice.

I wonder if burning Narcissa Malfoy to death would count, or if it had too many positive externalities. (I'm less and less sure how to model Dumbledore as MoR proceeds, particularly since even if he's "supposed to be good", Eliezer is writing him and Eliezer is some sort of consequentialist; I wouldn't want to rule out the possibility that Dumbledore deemed himself indispensable and his soul's contiguousness dispensable to the war effort.)

5Eneasz9yIt would explain why Harry always has to carry around an otherwise normal-seeming rock...
7SkyDK9y(upvoted chaosmosis) How is utilitarian not cold-blooded? As far as I understand, utilitarians work by assigning utility values between different outcomes and choosing the one with the most utility. That seems pretty cold-blooded. 100k years worth of life > 2 minutes of intense pain and loss of 2 years of life.

Utilitarianism has to be equally-blooded for all outcomes, but this can also be accomplished by being hot-blooded about everything. Instead of shrugging and not caring about the pain and two-year loss, you can mourn it while also grinning and clapping your hands and jumping around shouting for joy at the perspective of someone gaining so much life.

5ArisKatsaris9yIn ch.79 Dumbledore mentions the human sacrifice has to be "committed in coldest blood, the victim dying in horror"
7Viliam_Bur9yHow about some kind of Russian roulette -- two people get wands, one is magical, one is not, they are supposed to cast some paralysis spell and then Avada Kedavra on each other. The paralysis spell gives the victim enough time to realize they have lost, and thus to die in horror. Yet, if average(years gained) is more than average(years lost), the transaction is good from utilitarian viewpoint. Especially if both parties are volunteers. I don't know whether this qualifies as "cold-blooded murder", though -- I would need more precise definition.
9chaosmosis9yYeah. Alternatively Harry could seize power and then force gladiators to murder each other and have perform Dark Rituals to create a Horcrux after the killings, that would probably be evil enough. Also, this would be a better sport than Quidditch, so it's win-win.
7linkhyrule59yIf your utility function assigns utility exclusively to "time spent alive," sure. But Harry's utility function also assigns utility to "keeping people alive", regardless of time.
6Lavode9yThis is daft. Horcruxes are not the only available means of life extention, which voids the entire rest of the debate. There is the stone, whatever he can think up independently and worst come to worst, from harrys point of view, the odds of him, personally, dying of old age before the muggles come up with a hack to fix ageing is very low. 170 years, starting the clock in 1980 gets him to 2150!
4MixedNuts9y2120-ish given Time Turner abuse. Edit: Oh wait, that's already included in your 170-year figure, isn't it?
4moritz9yOne thing I'm missing from this whole horcrux discussion is: What happens if you die of age, and have a horcrux? People just seem to assume that once you have a horcrux, you won't wither and die. But we have no indication to believe this is what actually happens. canon!Voldemort catches a rebounding killing curse, and the horcrux doesn't make him live on in perfect health. Instead he is very close to death, has no body, and needs to possess animals or other humans to extort some influence. So what happens if you have a horcrux, and come close to dying from old age? It seems to me that your body would die, and you'd need some avenue to live again, and that is not a nice prospect at all. If you have access to a philospher's stone you wouldn't have such a problem, but then you wouldn't need a horcrux in the first place. What else can you do? Possess another human, who suffers greatly from it. Or the ritual that requires a servant of yours to sacrifice a limb; oh, and there's only a limited supplies of bones from your father, so you can't repeat it indefinitely. In summary, it seems that a single death doesn't give you 100k+ years of live without additional major costs.

Morally he still deliberately fucked her, regardless of whether he thought it would cause her death.

Different language would be more appropriate to the context. Not because I have qualms with foul language, but because I actually got the impression that we were considering rape-ethics or philosophy in magic-mediated edge cases till I followed the link.


Just by reading your comment before the Edits, I thought that you're probably correct, Harry seems confused about his dark side and that (to me) also seems to be Bayesian evidence for Harry being at least partially a horcrux. So to me, it seems like you're qualitatively right, although the importance of this piece of evidence can be discussed about. The downvotes could simply be bad luck, and I'd have expected this comment to go back at zero and beyond in a few hours.

However, posing yourself as a victim of this sites supposed groupthinking and attacking us using sarcasm makes things worse. I'm not surprised that in this form, the comment got to -6 points. These sorts of attacks (posing oneself as the victim and then vigorously attacking) are neither liked here nor in most other places, I'm afraid.

Why should the time of an ominous decision be so relevant to seers? Even if the consequences of the decision have a big impact on the future, that future already was the future. It's not like there is a default future before you make your decision and a different future afterwards, your decision itself would already be a part of the future of any earlier point in time. From a many worlds perspective you might have several different possible futures so your overall prospect of the future might significantly change after an important branching, but Harry's decision doesn't seem particularly influenced by recent random chance; it seems unlikely that from the perspective of 6 hours ago most future Harrys would make a completely different decision.

The clock is a gift from Dumbledore. On the one hand, it could be recording. On the other hand it could be transmitting. On the gripping hand, Dumbledore has a Time Turner.

If Dumbledore wanted to assure that any time he was the best pressure-release for a prophesy that pressure was released as easily and discretely as possible and less likely to be overheard, he would want to make it easy for the Prophesy Force to get that information to him.

So he gives her a clock and tells her to ask it for the time each time she wakes up in the middle of the night. The clock tells Dumbledore. Dumbledore gets invisible. Then it's just a jump to the left and he receives any prophesy intended for him.

That's so obvious in retrospect, and Dumbledore is so meddling, that now I don't think he's allowed not to have thought of that.

Hmm. On first reading, I just took the premonitions as being an indicator of how close we are to the apocalypse, not necessarily being caused by Harry's resolution. And yet you're right; both the premonitions we've seen so far immediately followed Harry's resolving something.

The first resolution was Harry saying that he would destroy Azkaban, whether it meant ruling Britain or summoning arcane magics to blow the building up, and that those who support Azkaban are the villains.

This resolution was Harry saying that if his war caused a single death, he would start killing villains as fast as possible.

So if these are all related, I guess all Quirrell needs to do is make Harry remember both those resolutions after someone dies and while he's in his Dark Side, and then sit back and watch as Harry exterminates 90% of the British population.

Eliezer seems to be taking a page from Alicorn's book. In Luminosity Alice is plagued by differing visions as Bella constantly changes her mind about her future, and then the actual future snaps into place when a final choice is made.

That's how it is in the canon Twilight (Eclipse).

4Alsadius9yIf you assume both free will and prescience, it's natural. You cannot see the consequences of a decision that has not yet been made, but once it has been, then you can view it. Think of the visions in Dune, as one of the better-known examples - the visions that the seers see are infinite branches, not single facts, and the branch points are their decisions. (The analogy is not perfect - in Dune, the decisions of non-seers are taken as given - but I hope the idea is clear).
9ArisKatsaris9yFree will as opposing "determinism" is a confused concept according to Eliezer's opinion, and also according to mine -- see Thou Art Physics [http://lesswrong.com/lw/r0/thou_art_physics/] Basic points is that we're part of the physical world-- if free will means anything, it must mean the ability of our current physical state to determine our decisions. "Libertarian free-will" in the sense of people making decision that can't be predicted from the current state; that's inevitably just randomness, not anything that has to do with people's character traits or moralities or cognitive-processes -- nothing that is traditionally labelled "free will".
4FAWS9yYou mean libertarian free will, which already doesn't make sense all by itself, and even then the combination doesn't make sense for additional reasons, starting with that seeing anything would usually require that only main characters have free will.

I think HPMoR has colored my thinking about scholarship and I'm really happy about this. Recently I have been reading the literature on mathematics education, and I find myself thinking of what I read as books that can give me power, like uncovering principles of magic and becoming capable of greater battle magic. I'm basically doing what Dumbledore and Riddle did and it works in real life.

There's an argument (first advanced by Beccaria in the late 18th century) that it matters more that punishment be swift and certain, than that it be harsh. If people don't really believe a punishment is likely to happen to them, it won't deter reliably. Human cognitive biases being what they are, we might be better served trying to make punishment visible, rather than horrifying. Azkaban, being remote and unpleasant to think about, is perhaps less effective than some punishment that would be constantly in sight. Having the convicted criminal's wand broken. say.

Beccaria puts it much better than I could, so I'll just refer you to his essay on the topic: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/An_Essay_on_Crimes_and_Punishments/Chapter_XXVII

In a society with veritaserum, legilimency and assorted other magic you'd think it would be straightforward to establish guilt or innocence in the vast majority of cases.

4Eugine_Nier9yOf course, said society also has occlumency and memory charms.

I've never had the opportunity to respond to a single comment with both of these, but if you haven't yet, you should check out Well-kept gardens die of pacifism and Why our kind can't cooperate. (the latter is less directly relevant)

If anything, there should be less rudeness and more downvoting on this site. For this community, rude disagreement and lack of downvoting would still be the default if we weren't actively suppressing it.

Politeness is useful. Rudeness is the way to mind-killing. If you don't want people to engage with your ideas rationally, be rude to them - that strategy works very well on humans.

In the 40,000 years since anatomically modern humans had migrated to Australia from Asia

BTW - this was the accepted figure as of 1991, but molecular evidence suggests 62,000-75,000 years. Which makes Harry's point even more strongly: it took a long time for humans as we know them to invent what we think of as basic stuff.

At a cursory glace the date you cite seems to be for the time the population they are descended from split from African populations, not for when they arrived in Australia. Genetic evidence cannot show where your ancestors lived, only how they were related to other populations (which might imply things about where they lived provided you already know that for the other populations)

6David_Gerard9yYes, you're right - this piece [http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/4776/aboriginal-genome-rewrites-human-dispersal-story] gives 50,000 years ago for the arrival. But the point stands as to the minimum time humans were anatomically and cognitively modern.
4Nornagest9yGenetic evidence can't show where your ancestors lived, but it can gesture furtively in one direction while mouthing "look over there". Even in hunter-gatherer populations, there's enough mobility that it shouldn't take anywhere near 22,000 years for African genes to make their way to Australia (or to wherever the proto-Australians were living at the time).
5Normal_Anomaly9yI approve of your stealth xkcd reference [http://xkcd.com/552/].

Isn't Harry a little young to have played Fate/Stay Night, both in the sense of it being a Japanese porno game not suitable for 11-year-olds and it not having been made yet when the story is set?

EDIT: Clearly this is intended as a hint that he has the time-traveling adult Voldemort's memories implanted in him.

Those are very valid objections, but since the phrase "great works of literature like Hamlet or Fate/Stay Night" constantly causes hilarious overreactions whenever I link Three Worlds Collide around, I'm entirely supportive of Eliezer taking liberties for this purpose.

4MixedNuts9yYeah, Hamlet sucks!

Eliezer isn't bothering to consider publication dates, and has ignored them in the past- eg Barbour's The End of Time wasn't published until 1999, yet Harry still knows timeless physics.

5Desrtopa9yEliezer has said that he's giving a pass to any science in the story, but I don't think he's applied that policy to all fiction Harry has consumed. In the Azkaban break, Eliezer noted that Harry was quoting from the trailer of a movie (Army of Darkness,) which hadn't been released yet, and in the tvtropes discussion thread, he attested that he had checked the chronology of the trailer.

According to canon, the original PlayStation was available in 1993. So if certain electronic media are available earlier in the MoR universe, it's only a slight embellishment of an existing canon discrepancy.

9gwern9yWell, if you ignore the chronological problems, apparently an all-ages version was released by Typemoon in 2007 (Fate/stay night Réalta Nua). (More generally, visual novels don't necessarily contain that much porn - comparable to what you can find in regular novels. I'm fairly sure there were many more porn scenes in the books I was reading at 11, like Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant.)
8ArisKatsaris9yYou can always imagine that in the HPMoR fictional universe, Fate/Stay Night came out in some form much earlier -- same way that variations of 'Gargoyles' and "Death Note" seem to have been wizardly entertainment earlier than their real counterparts came out in the real world.... Anyway, it's not really useful to fuss about the chronology of fictional references too much, either from the point of view of the readers, nor from the point of view of the author...

Personally, I find shout-outs less jarring than straight out references to Harry having consumed fiction that shouldn't exist yet. The Tragedy of Light isn't Death Note, it's The Tragedy of Light, even if the real life inspiration is obviously Death Note.

5CronoDAS9yAnachronism notwithstanding, the anime adaptation isn't pornographic, so he could have seen that instead.

By Word of God, we know that horcruxes exist in the HPMoR universe. It seems like by now we ought to be able to start figuring out what a horcrux is.

In Canon, a horcrux is a fragment of a soul. But it stands to reason that this will not be the full answer in MoR, as it's a fairly serious violation of the author's beliefs. So if we're to disregard supernatural and religious concepts, the obvious first idea is that horcruxes are storage media for some portion of a brain's data.

The problem is that most of what makes up a brain has been strongly hinted to not be the answer, either. It certainly looks like Harry is a horcrux in this universe, and Harry already thought of that possibility in different terms, yet the Sorting Hat says with 100% confidence that there is no extra "mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings" in Harry's head. And I'm disregarding out of hand any clever-schoolboy loopholes like "The horcrux is Harry's foot!"

What is left of a brain, if mind and intelligence and memory and personality and feelings (and a soul) are eliminated? It would be fitting, though a bit precious, if the answer were somehow "rationality", if you could ... (read more)

It certainly looks like Harry is a horcrux in this universe, and Harry already thought of that possibility in different terms, yet the Sorting Hat says...

The exact phrasing of the Sorting Hat's statement was as follows:

...there is definitely nothing like a ghost - mind, intelligence, memory, personality, or feelings - in your scar. Otherwise it would be participating in this conversation, being under my brim.

Now, anyone that's read the sort of fairytale where riddles are important should immediately be able to come up with a half-dozen loopholes in that, but I think we can dismiss most of them out of hand given that the Sorting Hat has no particular incentive to be misleading. The most promising option that remains, by my reading, is that there's nothing separate about the Horcrux contents for the Hat to key off of -- they effectively are Harry, or part of him. He's probably tapping that part of himself when he has his Dark Side episodes, at the very least, but I don't think that's the full extent of the Horcrux's influence: at various points he asks himself or people around him why he doesn't think like other children, and narrative parsimony points rather strongly to th... (read more)

8glumph9yThat seems to be supported by this passage from Chapter 85: The idea is, crudely, that if Harry is a Horcrux, it is not because he has some distinct thing inside him, but because some part of Voldemort (part of his soul?) has "merged" with Harry.

Voldemort's Killing Curse worked. Lily's son is dead. The sacrifice magic hurt Voldemort and created a new person in Harry's body from Voldemort's mind, who we've been reading about ever since. The hat doesn't notice this because it never met the previous Harry. Voldemort knows all this and is treating Harry as his mind-child.

So Harry 1.0 was overwritten by Tom Riddle 2.0, but this time Tom got a loving family?

7chaosmosis9yI just realized that the existence of the Dark Side is evidence against this. Harry would be all Dark Side if his original personality had been overwritten.
3gRR9yWe can try to assume that a horcrux is literally a fragment of a soul, in the Hofstadterian sense. It is then indeed an abstract algorithm (or a set of them), and it need not include memory and separate intelligence, although it would include personality and feelings. Extrapolating on what we know about how the Source of Magic interprets things, we should expect inanimate object horcruxes to be generally passive, while alive horcruxes to incorporate the algorithms into their own minds, although still somewhat separate. [It'd be cool to read about how a horcruxed software would behave.]

Hi, I'm Omega. You have a choice between one person being tortured or 3^^^3 people getting dustspecks in their eyes. Also, if you respond with profanity, an additional 5^^^^^^5 +1 people will be tortured, and two puppies and a kitten will be drowned, and Busy Beaver(3^^^3) fruit flies will have their wings torn off.

Well either being superman is possible, and he CAN save everyone, or it's not and he can't. Once he fails to save someone, it's clear he's not living in a world where he can save everyone. Once you're in a world where it's impossible to save everyone, trying to be superman is now a decision that's off the table.


It might be useful to put a notice at the bottom of the chapter about new entries taking a while. All previous chapters have a similar note about the next update, and the lack of one on this chapter may imply the ending of the fic to some (especially those that don't read the discussions).

FWIW, when I see someone making really bad comments, I tend to look at their other comments to see if they're also downvote-worthy, since it's a source of low-hanging fruit for moderation.

9Vladimir_Nesov9y(I also subscribe to RSS feeds of particularly bad cases and downvote all of their bad comments (i.e. most of what they write) if they resurface later.)
5Emile9yI do that too, but have only downvoted maybe 2 or 3 of chaosmosis's comments (he's nor particularly trollish or obnoxious, just a bit rude and obstinate; I don't know (or care) what the original disagreement on HPMoR was). It's fairly likely that a particularly stupid or rude comment in the recent comments can trigger many people independently doing "mild karmassissanation" (checking the user's recent comments, and downvoting a couple stupid posts), giving an overall impression of systematic downvoting.
5wedrifid9yAlternately: just very immature and sensitive.

I don't think so- the passage implied that other muggleborns might know it as well:

Even if some Muggleborn knew about timeless formulations of quantum mechanics

Plus I get the feeling that it's beyond Harry's own capabilities, since his original thoughts/ideas are also (generally) Eliezer's original thoughts/ideas

You sure can! It's a bit hard on the complexity, but probably less so than spontaneous collapse.

there are a bunch of different versions, the most obvious (but not only) class consists of proceeding the simulation as if time travel didn't exist then pruning paradoxical branches retroactively. There's tweaks and hacks needed to figure out how that actually works with interference, and to fix the problem of any branch where time travel is invented at all losing all it's measure in effect acting as a probability pump preventing it, but you're smarter than me and can probably work out better versions.

Just think about it for 5 minutes. ;p

First, imagine yourself in a spaceship far away from any gravitational sources. If your rockets are off, objects inside the ship left at rest relative to it will stay at rest. In this situation, your ship is in an inertial reference frame, so called because in it the law of inertia is valid. (By contrast, if your rockets are on, objects left at rest will start accelerating towards the back wall, unless there is some countervailing force acting on them).

Now imagine your spaceship close to Earth, within its gravitational field. What is an inertial frame now? Not the situation of the ship at rest relative to Earth: in this situation, objects will accelerate ("fall", as we usually say) towards the bottom of the ship. The ship is in an inertial frame only if it is freely falling towards Earth[1], like an elevator when the cable breaks: then, objects left at rest inside it will stay at rest relative to it absent countervailing forces (because they will be "falling" at the same universal rate g = 9.8 m/s^2).

So a frame accelerating towards Earth with g is an inertial frame. If we abstract away all other forces that will come into play when the ship crashes hitting the E... (read more)

4Paulovsk9yReally thank you, Alejandro1, you clarified the "inertial reference" point. Going a little bit beyond, what the heck the gravity has to do with time turners and time travel? My knowledge is pretty restrict in this area (almost zero), so if you can't answer this in a simple way [1]; just saying "go study X" will work fine,too, if that's the case. [1] As Feynman says, if you want to explain something complicated for someone, you can rephrase or use analogies as long as the person has an (or a few) equivalent model of that topic in their reality. So, if the topic requires some model that I don't own by not knowing lots of relativity, just point that out so that I can study and not lose good threads like this in the future. Thanks.
7rocurley9ySo, in this fic, you time travel and you wind up in the "same place" as you started. The concept of "same place", however, is actually really complicated. The earth is spinning and orbiting the sun, which is itself orbiting the center of the galaxy, which is in turn.... My first intuition was that, if you traveled in time, you would wind up floating in space. However, it's not at all obvious that a reference frame where the sun is stationary is better than any other, which is how I got to using your current stationary inertial reference frame: it's the only one that's unique from all the other possible ones, and yields the behavior above.
3Paulovsk9yI got it! wow, it feels great ;) thanks again.

Semi-accurate? She blatantly makes things up and spins things in order to smear her subjects. You could as well call an article "semi-accurate" which accuses someone of being a child molester, when the reality is that they do, in fact, spend time around children.

7[anonymous]9ySetting aside that incredibly weighted analogy... I think that's exactly what Drethelin meant when s/he said "semi-accurate". The point is that all Skeeter did was make up gossip and at the end of the day that's not that bad. If you can point to an actual instance of someone dying or coming to great harm that stemmed from a Skeeter article, then... you can think of ONE bad thing she did. And your proposed solution is to kill her? Hermione solves the Skeeter problem in Canon without shedding any blood, and even she goes overboard on the justice by trapping the woman inside a glass jar for hours/days. I can think of plenty of ways to stifle Skeeter without even using teleportation or invisibility or time travel - imagine what a mighty wizard like Quirrel could do. Quirrel even says that he's going to crush her (turns out he meant that literally) just for the sheer enjoyment of it, and not because it's what she deserves. I just think that the people who support killing Rita Skeeter probably decided that it was a good idea because they hated her, and then cast around for justifications that sounded better than that.
7gwern9yIf you dredged through canon, you would probably only come up with 20-30 deaths unequivocally and specifically at Voldemort's hand as opposed to random Death Eaters, mysterious deaths, deaths inferred but not actually known to have been Voldemort's doing, general carnage implied but not stated etc. Maybe he's not such a bad guy after all! Demanding specific incidents is like demanding specific incidents of lung cancer before you can discuss the moral guilt of tobacco executives. 'Ah, but how do you know that lung cancer was thanks to their tobacco smoking? Lung cancer is pretty common, you know!' Or power plants or... ('How do you know Skeeter's articles helped kill this particular person during Voldemort's ignored rise to power in canon, or helped him kill people during his first war? Can you prove that Skeeter's article was either necessary or sufficient to keep the population apathetic and let people like Cedric Diggory die?') In the real world, we have the luxury of investigating propagandists like Anwar Al-Awlaki or Goebbels, and can even nail them all the way down to specific deaths - this Somali kid in Minneasota decided to become a jihadi, killing himself and 4 others, that sort of thing. In the fictional world, alas, short of someone asking Rowling whether Skeeter's articles contributed to any deaths, we cannot know. There's no fact of the matter about it. It's fake, it's not real, it never happened. In the real world, however, being the top reporter on a government propaganda rag... What sort of blood-guilt do you think a comparable North Korean reporter or news anchor (eg. Ri Chun Hee) bears?
3[anonymous]9yBut you've moved the goalposts. I didn't ask for deaths that were unequivocally and specifically at Skeeter's hand - there definitely aren't ANY of those, so if that was our condition of guilt she'd be good and Voldemort would be bad. All I asked for were ones that could be traced back to one of her articles - perhaps there are one or two of those, but if we're allowing that as our condition of guilt then Voldemort shares responsibility for just about every death we hear about in canon so he has hundreds if not thousands of deaths on his hands. Either way, my point was that in order to argue that Skeeter's death was justified on utilitarian grounds, one has to prove that killing her would save lives. Killing her definitely costs one life. Stopping her from publishing costs no lives. I'm not trying to argue that Skeeter is a good person, I'm just pointing out that in the grand scheme of things she's not that bad, and that there are plenty of ways to eliminate her as a threat without getting blood on one's hands. Your example about the tobacco executives is misleading. We DO require evidence that tobacco kills in order to condemn tobacco executives as being morally bankrupt. Luckily, we have that evidence. I'm asking for evidence that Skeeter articles kill, because one of the main arguments of the Kill Skeeter camp seems to be that they do kill. If you can bring me that evidence I'll continue to agree that Skeeter needs to be stopped but I still won't agree that she should have been killed, any more than I want to kill tobacco executives. I'm going to repeat that for the sake of clarity. My argument is not: My argument is:

This is what motivated the insults in the first place, you've got the chain of causality backwards.

Or there's a feedback loop, where someone downvotes you, you then insult people, then more people downvote you for the insults, then you insult people some more for those downvotes, which causes even more people to downvote you... and so forth.

It may be para- or misphrased. The author told us at some point that HJPEV quotes from the author's memory while Hermione quotes from reality.

[-][anonymous]9y 9

In an attempt to find Quirrell's motives, I have listed the evidence I have about him, and now have a theory I have not seen on LessWrong or anywhere. I did it mostly mentally, but I'll try to put down all the evidence I took into account as unbiasedly as possible. I assume you know Quirrell = Voldemorte = Tom Riddle.

-Quirrell said Harry's wish was impossible. The wish was that Quirrell come back again the next year as the Defense Professor at Hogwarts. He also burned the paper on which the wish was written and he did not tell the audience what it was. If ... (read more)

5moritz9yNote that Quirrel was at the Ministry for Magic for interrogation while Dumbledore used the map to search for Riddle.

To be honest, I'm not convinced that it isn't true even in first-world countries. Solve rates for murders in the US appear to be around 66% as of 2007. I haven't directly been able to dig up solve rates for crimes in general, but clearance rates (the rate of crimes prosecuted to crimes reported) are available, and are well under 50% for pretty much everything except murder. Most prosecuted crimes appear to result in convictions, but this still says to me that TheOtherDave's got it right, at least in a US context and assuming that most reports aren't fri... (read more)

It's worth noting that, in canon, Rita's writing results in Hermione receiving piles of hate mail including booby-trapped letters containing toxic chemicals. It also results in the Ministry, as represented by Fudge, taking a very dim view of Harry on the evidence of her articles alone ("having funny turns all over the place").

Given the apparent gullibility and quickness to violence of the general population in the Potterverse (with no comment on how this may or may not resemble the real world), it is entirely plausible that Rita's other victims w... (read more)

Yeah, though somehow I believe him. Though if RidVolQuir can lie well enough that I believe him, with all my extra knowledge, no wonder Harry is fooled.

Reasons for believing him, though, are:

  • The "don't want to be a Dark Lord, not enough fun" rationale fits very well with what else we know about the HPMOR version of the character.
  • Shows other signs of being sincerely interested in teaching.
  • Was pissed off when Harry disagreed with his Yule speech, and apparently not just because Harry said so in public. Rather, he seems to really cares that Harr
... (read more)

It's fireproof, it doesn't get damaged by water, and it can't have the pages torn out. Ginny tried to destroy it in a variety of ways offscreen and wasn't successful.

The only other Horcrux we get to see much of, the locket, constantly attempts mind control for about half of the 7th book. Luckily the heroes already know about it's power of mind control and keep trading off the locket to prevent possession. Plus, they're not impressionable eleven year old girls. IIRC the other Horcruxes are described as attempting similar but get such minor screentime they're destroyed before it matters.

I think you misunderstood me: by "point in the story she had gotten to" I meant literally the point in the actual story (MoR). It wasn't some kind of figure of speech about her experience. (I wonder how many other people misunderstood my comment in this way; it's an interpretation that never occurred to me. I thought people knew she was a MoR reader.)

However, her experience itself was no picnic, fluff pieces notwithstanding.

3pedanterrific9yIt's been mentioned in Author's Notes. For what it's worth, I thought gwern's comment was a non sequitur on first reading.

Trivial vows might not trigger the ritual correctly. Remember one of the participants has to have had the option of trying to trust the person in question and choose not to. A vow over something that they'd have no reason to trust the person on otherwise may not work.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

This community appears to value politeness over rudeness (I know I do). If you don't like that norm, you can find another community, or attempt to convince us that the norm is useless and we should stop enforcing it. Flouting the norm and being rude will just attract hostility.

Okay, seriously, how strong do you think the groupthink effect could possibly be on the question of whether Harry's dark side is a piece of Voldemort's soul in HPMOR? For the record I think you were probably downvoted for claiming that something was "clearly" implied when I (and so presumably others) can't see how it's implied at all (and I still can't see it, having read the comment which is apparently supposed to make it clear, and which wasn't, incidentally, linked to in the great-grandparent), and then downvoted further when you decided to insult everyone.

Updating on evidence that hasn't arrived yet?

Not quite. I think the point is that because we aren't perfect Bayesian reasoners, we neglect to update on some of the available evidence. But getting into the right frame of mind can help you avoid that. (Cf. the reasoning behind Harry's decision to tell McGonagall about the Parseltongue message from the sorting hat.)

The heuristic Harry is using here, is to imagine a future test he thinks would be decisive, and ask himself what outcome he expects from that test. That's a way to "unlock" and find o... (read more)

Personally, I get very little use out of this technique, since my problem tends to be uncertainty about the likely consequences of my actions, not uncertainty about which outcome would be best.

Have you tried it on a micro-scale? I employ a modified version of this technique as a constant motivation tool. (Eg, I don't feel like going to the gym and prefer to read things on the internet, so I query my future self from 4 hours ahead and future self from a couple days ahead for each Everett branch of action and poll my imagination of their opinions. Invariably the 4 possible-future me's all outvote present me and force me to the gym.)

I find it very good for peer pressuring myself with my future selves, but it only works on things I cognitively know the 'right' answer to yet am emotionally unconvinced by. It also helps exceptionally well for hyperbolic discounting. I think that Harry is using a similar tool to line up his emotions and motivations with what he knows cognitively and to avoid the shortsighted path (Kill 2/3rds of the Wizengamot) in lieu of the path he'd previously decided on.

They were not all female.

In the Forbidden Forest, a centaur woken by a nameless apprehension ceased scanning the night sky, having found only questions there and no answers; and with a folding of his many legs, Firenze went back to sleep.

9Bugmaster9yAm I the only one who found that quote oddly disquieting, BTW ? Just how many legs does he have ?

Aragog: No, I am your father.

Firenze: No, that's not true, that's impossible!

5LauralH9yMost likely 4...p>.9

What is the Anansi the Spider quote from? Anansi the Spider is a character from mythology and folklore, so it's not as obvious as the others... is it Neil Gaiman, or some other source?

5Eliezer Yudkowsky9yWeb of Angels.
4gwern9yI'm a pretty big Gaiman fan, but I don't recognize it from either Sandman or Anansi Boys, nor do I see anything in Google Books.

I was re-listening to the podcast of Chapter 20 (Bayes's Theorem) when I was struck by an idea. It builds on another idea I heard in this same forum. The original idea was that Quirrel had Horcruxed the Pioneer plaque and that, due to the nature of magic, his Horcrux passing beyond a distance of 6 light hours would lead to his death due to a limitation on magic's ability to affect things more than 6 hours into the past - which would be needed for faster than light communications.

Having now re-listened to that chapter, I've picked up some new clues. Harry h... (read more)

4matheist8yVery clever idea! But it doesn't pan out, sadly. I just checked on Wolfram-Alpha. The distance from the earth to Pioneer 11 on the Ides of May, 1992 [http://m.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Pioneer+11+distance+from+Earth+on+May+15+1992+in+light+hours&x=0&y=0] , Quirrell's presumed last day of class, is actually 4.84 light hours, not 6. Some experimenting on W-A shows that Pioneer 11 passes 6 light hours around August 25, 1995.

Something is definitely funny with Goyle. He's able to do martial arts, is extremely good with a broomstick, and doesn't trust Draco when Draco lies to him. At first, my interpretation was just that Goyle was much more capable in this version. That's still a possibility, but I feel like if that were the case then maybe Crabbe also would have been made more capable. I feel as though Goyle will do something important soon, definitely.

I even briefly entertained the possibility that Goyle was a Mary Sue, for about ten seconds, but that idea doesn't have anything to recommend it besides the humor of it.

He also spent a long time with the sorting hat.

"Goyle, Gregory!" There was a long, tense moment of silence under the Hat. Almost a minute.

Chapter 9

I think it's pretty clear he got that information, along with many of his other dark secrets, from the Basalisk.

Has there been any serious discussion of the implications of portraits? I couldn't find any with some cursory googling, but I'll be really surprised if it hasn't been discussed here yet. I can't entirely remember which of these things are canon and which are various bits of fanfiction, but:

  • You can take someone's portrait without them explicitly helping, as evidenced in canon by at least one photograph of someone being arrested, whose picture in the newspaper is continually struggling and screaming at the viewer. I don't remember which book this was or an
... (read more)

I think that Salazar's Serpent was a trap Tom Riddle fell into. It was a Langford Basilisk Horcrux, like the book Ginny got in the original timeline, so When Tom Riddle read out the information embedded, he was possessed by Salazar Slytherin. That's why nppbeqvat gb Ibyqrzbeg/Evqqyr/Fnynmne vg frrzf gb unir whfg orra n terng frecrag, abg n onfvyvfx, juvpu vf whfg jung ur jbhyq fnl. Guvf nyfb rkcynvaf gur qnzntrq guvaxvat Uneel frrf.

This might well explain Harry as well, since in OT Voldemort had a giant serpent hanging around. He might not have had one in... (read more)

I just thought of something.

When Quirrell shows Harry the stars in outer space he's probably getting the images from his probe-Horcrux.

3pedanterrific9yThink one step further. What does this imply about his other Horcruxes?

Let me rephrase:

He chose to express this viewpoint by ordering his extremely loyal, highly skilled warrior-assassin to get pregnant in the middle of a war?

That's the relevant bit, and also coincidentally the part where the Lebensborn analogy breaks down.

if this happened, it would seem like we would have seen that happen before, at some point in time.

Why? Someone having multiple Horcruxes is explicitly unprecedented, and having the Killing Curse not kill someone it hits and instead rebounding to hit the caster is explicitly unprecedented. An unprecedented result isn't particularly improbable.

Yes, "accidental Horcrux" is inherently less probable than the broader category of "random magical accident", but that's only because "accidental Horcrux" is a subset of all possible "random magical accidents".

stumbled by chance upon the exact same look

Why isn't "EY is making him look like in canon" a sufficient explanation for the look being exactly the same? It would be a rotten explanation within the MoRverse, of course, but within the MoRverse there's no coincidence to need explaining.

7pangel9yI see your point. As an author I would think I'm misdirecting my readers by doing that though; "Voldemort has the same deformity as in canon? He's been playing with Horcruxes!" is the reasoning I would expect from them. Which is why I would, say, remove Quirrell's turban as soon as my plot had Voldemort not on the back of Quirrell's head.

Vaniver wasn't talking about Harry's evaluation of future outcomes, he was talking about Harry's predictions of future thoughts that future people would have. That's why Vaniver said "why does he think the future will hold life to be precious", etc. "He think the future will" clearly refers to a prediction made by Harry.

I believe you are incorrectly modelling the way Harry thinks and misunderstand the implications of the words Harry has uttered. The implicit prediction is conditional. On, for example, not catastrophic failure and ext... (read more)

Wondering how Dumbledore knew Harry was planning on reformulated Quidditch. Seems possible that he was just on the platform.

On a related note, it occurs to me that we should just assume there's two Dumbledores running around any time anything important happens. No immediate consequences leap out at me, though =/

Nope, ritual magic = permanent sacrifice.

I don't think Superman was chosen because of its probability. He's doing it because he's too weak to be a perfect utilitarian, because he is human and can't do otherwise.

No. It's just a clock. But it is there, so Dumbledore knows at which point in time he should jump back to (given the option of course) {all this is an interpretation of loserthree's post}

Harry thought the deepest split in his personality wasn't anything to do with his dark side; rather it was the divide between the altruistic and forgiving Abstract Reasoning Harry, versus the frustrated and angry Harry In The Moment.

This as well as the distant descendants part seems to draw on Robin's near vs. far theory.

I was a bit surprised to not see the "many who die deserve life" quote from Tolkien, but perhaps that one is about deciding to kill prisoners or not.

5V2Blast9yWhile it is relevant to Harry's desire not to have to kill, it was not as related as the other quotes were to his struggle between idealism and realism in fighting a war.

Andromeda is not the closest galaxy. The closest currently known galaxy is the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy but this wasn't known until after the story took place. However, others were known at about this time such as the Large Magellanic Cloud which is only visible from the Southern Hemisphere but has been known for centuries, or Draco Dwarf which you can see with a good telescope in the Northern Hemisphere. Andromeda is however the only one that is easily visible and very large in the Northern Hemisphere.

Re: revisions

Harry reached up, wiped a bit of sweat from his forehead, and exhaled. "I'd like this one, please."

Harry's entire body was sheathed in sweat that had soaked clear through his Muggle clothing, though at least it didn't show through the robes. He bent down over the gold-etched ivory toilet, and retched a few times, but thankfully nothing came up.

Hermione shut her eyes and tried to concentrate. She was sweating underneath her robes.

"Forget I said anything," said Draco, sweat suddenly springing out all over his body. He neede

... (read more)

I think it was fairly obvious that he was manipulating Lily into not choosing to sacrifice herself for Harry. She was initially going to sacrifice herself "for him" and with a few choice words Quirrell got her to attack him.

There are many ways Eliezer could have had Harry not be eligible for magic protection, E.g. just have Lily try to kill Voldemort straight away. Instead he made it look exactly as it would if Quirell wasn't an idiot who didn't know anything about love magic and was trying to prevent a love-shield.

It's possible he was just screwing with her, but It seems too coincidental that for him to screw with her in exactly that way.

875th9yAh, I see. You and I agree, then, that in canon, Rowling intended us to believe that it was the defenselessness of Lily's sacrifice that protected Harry. That if the scene had gone in canon as it does in MoR, with Lily trying to curse Voldemort, that the protection would not have activated. But we disagree as to the reason for the differences Eliezer introduced. You think that the universe is the same, and that Voldemort explicitly tried to counteract the Love Shield. But I find, and given what we know of Eliezer's values I think that he would really find, that Rowling's implication — that Lily's defending herself would somehow cheapen her defense of Harry — is morally repugnant. Therefore, I believe that the rules in MoR's universe are likely different from canon's. I think the more likely reason for the difference is not to show that Voldemort was clever enough to dodge canon!shield, but rather to indicate the nature of MoR!shield. Assuming that Voldemort actually did cast the Killing Curse at Harry, and that it actually did rebound and blow Voldemort out of his body, I think what happened — or at least what we're supposed to believe right now — is that Voldemort unwittingly entered into a magically binding agreement when he taunted Lily. He was amusing himself with his cruelty, but his words were his downfall.

Ng gigebcrf, rl fnlf, "V gubhtug crbcyr jrer tbvat gb trg "gur cybg" sebz Pu. 1-3, cbffvoyl Pu. 1, naq guvf jnf gur Vyyhfvba bs Genafcnerapl", naq yngre "Ru, lbh'yy frr jung V'z gnyxvat nobhg nsgre lbh ernq gur svany nep naq gura ernq Puncgre 1 ntnva."

What would a hypothesis about the end of the story look like which uses only information from chapter 1?

Claim: Harry's war with Voldemort will destroy the world. Support: In Chapter 1, Petunia says about Lily's reasons for not making her pretty, "And Lily would tell me no, a... (read more)

675th9yI've always suspected that Petunia's paraphrases there of Lily are mostly true — that's a contributing factor to my believing that some level of apocalypse is in the story's future — but just guessing that Really Bad Stuff is going to happen seems a far cry from us "getting 'the plot' " from Chapter 1, or chapters 1 through 3. Neither the remainder of Chapter 1 nor the whole of Chapter 2 seem to have any significant hints. In Chapter 3, here is what I can see that might have hidden meaning: Maybe we were supposed to get more out of this at the time? Perhaps we were supposed to infer that Quirrell or one of his alter egos had been an up-and-coming hero? Maybe, contrary to my previous protestations, we are supposed to believe that Harry wasn't really hit with Avada Kedavra? I'd always chalked this up as being the revelation Harry has at the end of the Humanism arc: that Dark Lords don't usually go after infant children, and that there must be an important reason why Voldemort did. But maybe there's something more to it. …Or, conversely, maybe we have already figured out the stuff Eliezer was referring to, we just didn't figure it out as early as he expected. Matheist, do you have a link to that quote? I couldn't find it by ⌘Fing Methods's TV Tropes pages. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Does anyone else find it really weird to read "EY" as a reference to Eliezer? It always reads to me like a Spivak pronoun with faulty verb agreement.)
5matheist9yCaution, possible spoilers, in the form of comments about the guessability (or lack thereof) of the plot. First quote [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=722rasd1fu9p8mn5fdcbp572&page=127#3175] and second quote [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=722rasd1fu9p8mn5fdcbp572&page=128#3177] . I always assumed that the note of confusion was, "How could anyone possibly know what spells the dark lord cast, and what the effects were, if there were no survivors besides a baby".
775th9yHmm. It occurs to me that Harry's life in chapters 1 and 2 bears some similarities to Tom Riddle's life from canon. Both their mothers used potions to make their fathers love them; both their fathers thought magic was disgraceful; the Deputy Head of Hogwarts visited both of them, showed them magic, made them thirsty for knowledge of magic, and warned them against unacceptable behavior that both of them had exhibited in the past; both of them always knew they were extraordinary, and were proved right when magic came into their lives. …but even if all that is intentional, which it almost certainly is, I still don't see what we're supposed to infer about the entire plot. Is Harry going to grow up, murder his family, create six Horcruxes, and hide them where someone can easily find them and destroy them? That makes quite a bit more sense, and should in fact have been incredibly obvious. I didn't start reading Methods until the hiatus following the Stanford Prison Experiment arc, and I didn't start thinking and theorizing until after I'd read all those chapters twice, so I didn't approach the question with a properly blank slate.
4Sheaman37739yThe most frustrating part of that note of confusion lies in the magic of the world, I think. What is actually possible to do with magic? What do witches and wizards think is possible? What does Harry think is possible? Let me illustrate by looking at the question that you brought up: Prior Incantato: If they got their hands on Voldemort's wand, then they could see that he cast the Killing Curse. This would be weak evidence indeed, but it is possible to see what he cast. They did not recover Voldemort's wand, but Harry doesn't know this. Canon and MoR founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible. Legilimency: A somewhat popular fan theory for canon, Dumbledore could have read baby Harry's mind right afterwards. Canon and MoR founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible. Curse Scar: A lot of people make a huge deal out of the scar that Harry has. They seem to feel that it was created from surviving exposure to the Killing Curse, though how that would be known when he was the first ever is something of a mystery. Perhaps because it registers similarly to scars left behind by other Dark curses, at least in terms of being unhealable. See residue. Somewhat canon-founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible. Divination/Scrying/Past-Viewing: It might be possible to remotely view the scene, to see what happened, from the past, in real time, or in the future. Divination is real, though it seems to be more cryptic than that, Scrying seems to be unknown, but Past-viewing is clearly not possible after what happened with Hermione, though Harry doesn’t know this yet. Partially founded. Harry has no idea of whether or not it is possible. Wards: Clearly whatever wards they put up in addition to the Fidelius Charm (because in a more competent world, they shouldn't have had a single point of failure) did not keep Voldemort out, but that didn't mean that the monitoring aspects had to have died. It's possible that there's a magical vide
5gjm9yIf Harry's going to end the world, surely a more likely way -- especially given the author's known interests and opinions -- is by bringing about the magical world's equivalent of a Singularity? MoR!Harry is on record (albeit not in chapters 1-3) as wanting to take over the world and, er, optimize it. There are suggestions elsewhere that terrible things have happened in the past on account of over-powerful magic. (Again, not in chapters 1-3.) Centaurs and other purveyors of prophecy might dread this even if the singularity ends up being a good one, because it would be a point beyond which they wouldn't be able to see anything. Another possibility -- which again could reasonably be said to be heavily foreshadowed, if it comes to pass, but not in the first few chapters: Harry is somehow going to put an end to magic. (He wants to do away with Azkaban by any means possible, no matter how drastic. He's already explicitly considered the question of which side he'd be on if it came down to muggles versus wizards, and decided for the muggles.) I don't assign a terribly high probability to either of these. There seems to be no shortage of mutually incompatible outcomes with a certain degree of foreshadowing, and if there's a good way to decide between them then I haven't spotted it yet.
3Randaly9yHowever, Eliezer has said that he doesn't plan on putting a Singularity in the story.
[-][anonymous]9y 15

Given that Pioneer fooled around in the Solar System for a while, making flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, our calculation should be a bit different. 1992 is a useful lower bound, which we arrived at by calculating what would happen if Pioneer took a straight path out into interstellar space. In fact, it flew by Saturn in September 1979. A bit of trigonometry tells me that if it left Saturn in a straight line tangent to that planet's orbit, it would probably reach the critical distance some time between '95 and '97, depending on Earth's own position in its orbit. This rough map seems to suggest that it did take that approximate path, but it's hardly accurate. If Pioneer skirted closer to the sun again, inside Saturn's orbit on it's way out then the critical distance comes later, but if it veered away harder then it comes earlier.

I had typed my calculations up, but I lost them just now when I accidentally pressed the back button. Hell's bells and buckets of blood.

Anyway, basically what this tells us is that Quirrel probably has at least a few years of grace before Pioneer gets too far away, if that is in fact what's going on. I think there's a fair likelihood that this theory is correct, but given what I've said here, I don't think the timing of the Pioneer's critical distance should be counted as strong evidence in favour of that.

The idea that you can "accidentally" perform a complex secret Dark ritual is ridiculous. Especially because accidental magic has previously always matched the goals of the caster, but Voldemort didn't want Harry to live and certainly didn't want to make him into a living Horcrux (although that would have been cool if he actually did, and had planned that). Also, this seems to be incompatible with how HPMOR magic has already been established to work so EY will need to fix this one.

Eliezer has deviated from canon in such a way that it allows the... (read more)

3chaosmosis9yNeato, thanks. That was a good move by EY. I mean, there are problems with it. But it's fiction and his is roughly 50 times more logical than Rowling's version.

This may have been addressed already, but why doesn't Harry suspect at this point that Quirrell is Voldemort, or at least working for Voldemort?

This is especially puzzling after we get to hear Harry's thoughts on what happened to Hermione in 85.

Now, maybe I'm suffering from obvious-in-retrospect syndrome here, given that I did not realize Quirrell was Voldemort until V ernq Ryvrmre'f fvapr-ergenpgrq fgngrzrag gung Dhveeryy vf Ibyqrzbeg. But that was before the Stanford Prison Experiment arc. Relevant facts in that and the Taboo Tradeoffs arc:

  • Quirrell bro
... (read more)

I think you're missing the mundane explanation. Harry really likes Quirrell. He's the person he most relates with in the world; he's the person he looks up to; he's the smart/strong/cool teacher Harry wants to be when he grows up.

Surely there were other people, maybe better people, to trust and befriend? Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Hermione, Draco, not to mention Mum and Dad, it wasn't like Harry was alone...


A choking sensation grew in Harry's throat as he understood.

Only Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Hermione, Draco, they all of them sometimes knew things that Harry didn't, but...

They did not excel above Harry within his own sphere of power; such genius as they possessed was not like his genius, and his genius was not like theirs; he might look upon them as peers, but not look up to them as his superiors.

None of them had been, none of them could ever be...

Harry's mentor...

That was who Professor Quirrell had been.

Any person, especially a child, will gladly ignore and forgive a million counter-indications as long as they really like the person.

For it is a sad rule that whenever you are most in need of your art as a rationalist, that is when you are most likely to forget it.

Voldemort is the only person in the world with an obvious motive for wanting to break Bellatrix out of Azkaban, and is who everyone else thinks is responsible

What motive would Harry expect Voldemort to have? As far as I can recall, he doesn't know about the components required for the spell to revive someone kept from death by horcruxes, and Bellatrix is not a very capable servant for the time being, and he doesn't believe Voldemort cared about her in any case. Quirrell, on the other hand, has already claimed a selfish motive that he personally has for freeing Bellatrix that would not apply to Voldemort.

Keep in mind that for Harry, the potential hypothesis space is huge. Quirrell might secretly be Rudolph Wizencamp in disguise. Don't know who Rudolph Wizencamp is? Well, neither does Harry, he's only lived in the wizarding world for a few months after all. We can reason by dramatic convention and conservation of detail, but for Harry, the list of all possibilities raised by the facts about the wizarding world that he's aware of is far from exhaustive.

Dumbledore told Harry in the "Today your war has begun" speech that Bellatrix was one of three things Voldemort needed to return as strong as he was before.

it is assured that an innocent will die in a war

It is not assured that an innocent will die in war, nor is it assured that there will be a war in the first place.

In a standard political disagreement, Harry shouldn't anticipate innocent deaths. The only reason Harry has to consider innocent deaths is that somebody targeted his friends. That still doesn't imply a war worth retaliating against, any more than any other random murder which occurs every day. You don't respond to a crazy murderer or an lone assassin with indiscriminate hand grenades against... (read more)

She doesn't destroy any lives. Who does the Inquirer destroy? She makes people embarrassed and the only effects we ever really see are schoolchildren making stupid assumptions about harry. Certainly nothing CLOSE to deserving the death penalty. Killing Skeeter was EVIL.

6gwern9ySkeeter was a paid witting propagandizing accomplice for a Death Eater in both MoR and canon.
9buybuydandavis9yAnd she was perfectly willing to tar a Hogwarts Professor as a death eater, and tar Harry as a Dark Lord in training.
3drethelin9yAnd so were a ton of people who read her article. She was pandering to her audience. Do you want to kill all of them too? Being biased is not worthy of capital punishment.
5Desrtopa9yWhether or not being biased is worthy of capital punishment is a completely different issue than whether she has in fact destroyed people's lives.
6fubarobfusco9y"Destroyed people's lives" is an odd expression. It can sometimes mean "kidnapped people, held them in prisons, and tortured them to death." And it can sometimes mean "written embarrassing things about people."
5Desrtopa9yWell, when it means "written embarrassing things about people," it tends to carry the additional meaning that those writings cost people their social standing and possibly their livelihoods, turning them into paraiahs and possibly landing them in prison. In any case, accusing someone of being a Death Eater goes far beyond the territory of "embarrassing." As we witnessed in the early chapters of the story, nearly everyone has traumatic experiences associated with the war. Death Eaters are The Hated Enemy from a war that still looms so large in the memories of the public that they're afraid to say the name of their leader. On the face of it, this should be at least as weighty an accusation as accusing a schoolteacher of being a member of al-Qaeda.
4drethelin9ySeveral problems with this: 1 no one has turned into a pariah or gotten into prison because of her tabloid, unless you count harry being slightly shunned by people who don't matter. 2, Is accusing someone of being a secret Deatheater really that different than all the people that accuse Obama of being a secret muslim? It's sensationalist nonsense that no reasonable person believes. No one ACTED on the belief that Quirrel is a secret deatheater, and I doubt anyone seriously believed it anyway. 3, Al Qaeda has no Lucius Malfoy. Being known to be a former Deatheater doesn't seem to cause him that much trouble.
8Desrtopa9ySlightly shunned? He essentially went from hero to outcast, and "people who don't matter" consisted of the majority of the wizarding public, in school and out. If he hadn't proven himself right about basically everything, that reputation could have followed him for the rest of his life. Do you think your livelihood wouldn't be affected if most of your country thought you were, as she put it, "dangerously disturbed?" And you're arguing that "no one" was turned into a paraiah or imprisoned because of her, when our entire sample of people she's smeared is a number we can count on our fingers, out of a career of more than a decade built on attacking people's reputations. Lucius is widely agreed to have been a Death Eater, at least by his political opponents, but he's also been found innocent by the judicial system. O. J. Simpson is widely agreed to be a murderer, and it certainly affects how the public views him, but he's not actually being punished for it. Both Lucius and O. J. have the advantage of already being rich, and not needing to hold down a job. Other characters, on the other hand, have been punished for being Death Eaters by life in Azkaban. Rita accusing Quirrell of being a Death Eater is thus quite different from accusing Obama of being a secret Muslim, as being a Muslim isn't actually illegal, and that allegation was only believed by people who had already formed their opinions on him, whereas Rita has an established record of changing people's opinions, and creating them for people who haven't already.
7thomblake9yThis might have been true to some extent in 1997, but not so much today. By the end of the civil trial, O.J had spent most of his money on his defense, and he had to even give up prized possessions like his Heisman Trophy in order to pay the damages. He didn't have enough property to pay all the damages, and the only reason he had anything left after that is that California law doesn't allow taking pensions to pay for damages, so he still had his NFL retirement to support him. But right now, he's serving a long prison sentence for armed robbery from trying to take back some of his football memorabilia - some of the folks he engaged in that offense with got away scot-free, since the prosecution was much more interested in taking down O.J. So yes, the public perception did affect him.
3thomblake9yFolks seem to be waving their hands at whether there's anything definitive written about Rita causing real harm, so... In canon, Rita was not portrayed as explicitly on anyone's side, and probably the worst direct consequence of anything she wrote, that was explicitly mentioned, was Hermione receiving hate mail after being accused of using love potions. relevant HP wiki article [http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Rita_Skeeter] In HPMOR, If we take Quirrell at his word in Chapter 26, Rita was trying to destroy Harry's reputation, which is a real harm. In chapter 22, Draco thinks "The Daily Prophet was one of Father's primary tools, he used it like a wizard's wand." - and we all know the sorts of things Lucius gets up to with a wizard's wand. In chapter 80, the Prophet printed stories directly accusing Hermione of trying to kill Draco, before her trial. I haven't been able to find any reference that Skeeter or the Prophet were aiding Voldemort during the War, in canon or MoR.

It's not merely that Harry thought a certain way:

There was a compulsion to chew and swallow chocolate. The response to compulsion was killing.

People had gathered around and stared. That was annoying. The response to annoyance was killing.

Other people were chattering in the background. That was insolent. The response to insolence was to inflict pain, but since none of them were useful, killing them would be simpler.

"The response to compulsion was killing." Not just "He wanted to kill Dumbledore". The way it's phrased implies a memory... (read more)

8Desrtopa9y"He wanted to kill Dumbledore" would have been poor dramatic phrasing. "The response to compulsion was killing" could mean that he has a memory and history of this, or it could simply mean that in his state of mind, killing seems like the natural response to being compelled to do things by others. If I were trying to write that, I would sooner write "the response to compulsion was killing" than "He wanted to kill Dumbledore." The fact that Harry underwent a serious personality change on exposure to the dementor, and Hermione speculated that such a thing might happen to a person who already had that darker personality within them, is a substantial piece of evidence that Harry has something more unusual going on than some personality quirks. The phrasing used in that scene, on the other hand, I do not think can reasonably be treated as evidence of anything in particular. In fact, I can't think of a single explanation for Harry's personality change which would make the phrasing seem weird, given that artistic impact of the words being used is as important a consideration as their connotations.
4DavidAgain9yI didn't read the 'the response to X was Y' approach as experience as Voldemort. I thought it was the goal-orientedness side, the intent to kill. The algorithm of 'I am here, I want to be there, where is the shortest route'.
3chaosmosis9yI can't imagine Voldemort or Quirrell thinking so crudely, even in terms of goal systems.

My $0.02: there are several different functions person A can perform by punishing person B for some action C.

For example:
(a) lowering B's chances of performing C in the future
(b) lowering the chances of observers performing C
(c) encouraging observers to anti-identify with B
(d) encouraging observers who anti-identify with B to support A
(e) encouraging observers who identify with B to oppose A

IME, conversations about how prisons should work become really confused because people aren't very clear about which of those functions they endorse.

Personally, ... (read more)

And I've yet to hear a good counterargument.

It's not as if you've stated the exact position you want a counterargument to: Is it "the more brutal the better"?

the purpose of prisons is to reduce crime.

Rapes, murders, and beatings in prison are also supposed to be crimes, no?

The two main methods by which they accomplish this are being sufficiently nasty to deter would be criminals,

At this point you're surely using the same argument that would be used to justify Dementors in Azkaban -- it makes Azkaban nastier: hence it serves as deterrent.

Vaniver was talking in terms of predictions about what the future people would think. You responded in terms of what Harry wanted to happen.

Vaniver was talking about Harry's evaluation of the future outcomes. Once again, I point out Harry's forceful and unambiguous declarations to the dementor about what the future 'shall' be and assert relevance of that kind of thinking to how Harry would evaluate the thoughts of of the people he labels as those from the future.

Intentions have no effect on what the future actually will be.

I've heard about a particu... (read more)

I don't think I need to be polite when I'm having everything I write be downvoted and "argued" against by about twelve different people.

Consider the case where some mugger is pointing a gun at you. That should help give you a more practical perspective. Sure, the mugger doesn't deserve politeness. It isn't fair that politeness is necessary. But you still need to be polite to him if you wish to minimize the chance that he will shoot you in the head.

Sometimes other people really do behaving like dicks and be unreasonable or unfair. Yet that does... (read more)

Makes sense. I was confused so I looked it up: "And the third wizard, the binder, permanently sacrifices a small portion of their own magic, to sustain the Vow forever." I guess the self-improvement part is out of the question then...

Still; it'd be a pretty hardcore thing to do for an ambitious dying grandfather. Make his grandson, age 3, swear the vow (something along the lines: "I will never spend an awake moment on anything except improving my abilities or the situation of my family" - it could be phrased better) and then die happily.

Still; it'd be a pretty hardcore thing to do for an ambitious dying grandfather. Make his grandson, age 3, swear the vow (something along the lines: "I will never spend an awake moment on anything except improving my abilities or the situation of my family" - it could be phrased better) and then die happily.

Age three? Does the vow actually impel you adhere to it or does it just kill you when you are about to break it? (I thought the latter.) Didn't he just kill his grandson?

5ArisKatsaris9yIn canon at least, you just die if you break the Vow.

This has the effect of making unpopular opinions invisible.

That doesn't seem to happen in practice (yet) - downvoted posts are usually much more likely to have a tone or quality problem than be an unusual opinion.

You also aren't addressing the fact that in practice people are more likely to (down)(up)vote things which have already been (down)(up)voted, which leads to karma sinks.

Possible, but that's not a huge problem in itself; and the effect doesn't seem very strong (it's not rare to see posts eventually change sign).

This brings to mind the scratched game CD in Homestuck.

Um, the accepted Outcome Pump explanation of prophecies says that only the right listener will discharge the time "pressure". (Possibly relevant.) The same prophecy could fail to erupt many times.

OT: In Ch. 25, Hold Off On Proposing Solutions, Harry considers only intelligent and evolutionary causes of optimization. I have no clue if an Outcome Pump could coherently explain all magic.

There's no necessary incompatibility. The specific ingredients may have been chosen to be a homage and a reference to Lawrence Watt-Evans Seething Death and yet the described ritual can still contain foreshadowing for HPMoR's plot as well.

The deeper problem in Ch. 6 is that Harry’s conflict with Professor McGonagall looks too much like a victory – it is a major flaw of Methods that Harry doesn’t lose hard until Ch. 10, so he must at least not win too much before then. That’s the part I’m working on at this very instant.

Strongly disagree with this. That's the bit that caused me to continue reading. Luckily, I have the raw text downloaded, and can make my own canonical printed version.

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

(black robes, falling)

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

That, of course, appears before the start of Chapter 1. It's gotten a lot of attention and a lot of speculation. Clearly it depicts something that happened in the past, or that will happen in the future, and we'll all get lots and lots of goosebumps when we figure out what it is.

But that passage has a little brother that I haven't seen anyone talk about. Before the start of Chapter 2, we get this:... (read more)

6grautry9yWhat it reminds me the most of is Harry's discussion with Hermione about the need for heroic responsibility - about always shouldering the responsibility for any final outcome of events, instead of thinking that your job is done when you, say, go to Professor McGonagall and tell her to do something about it. My guess(though I wouldn't assign a very high probability to this) is that it will be uttered by Harry while he's away from anyone he considers to be sane or responsible(like, say, Quirrell) and he fails to prevent something tragic from happening. A more specific hypothesis: Quirrell's identity is revealed by him doing something unspeakably evil and Harry blames himself for not piercing the disguise earlier.
4CuSithBell9yHm. Personally, I read that as how Harry sees everything that goes wrong - every poor choice that he allows other people to make, every tragedy he didn't adequately anticipate - as expressed, among other places, in his discussions in Diagon Alley with McGonagall about the difficulties growing up smarter than his parents and the potential necessity of a magical first aid kit. But yes, now that you mention it, it certainly could be something to be echoed darkly in the endgame - though I am likewise unaware of the potential edifices of theory surrounding it.

That's perfectly well defined, but you also wind up inside yourself 6 hours ago, which is an issue.

3shminux9yThat's not your original objection! Also, my model (elsewhere in this thread) defines time-turners as world-splitters, which avoids the time loops.

the user does not vanish ... appears to do nothing.

How is that consistent with "transports the wearer to that branch" from your description?

the story line ... only traces the path where time-turners work.

Huh? That's like presenting a story in which one character has a magic pair of dice that always roll 12, and then explaining that how they "work" is that they make the universe branch 36 ways, and in one branch they roll 12 -- and the story "only traces the path where they always rolled 12".

In fact, it's worse. No one w... (read more)

And then there was that promise Harry had sworn.

Draco to help Harry reform Slytherin House. And Harry to take as an enemy whoever Harry believed, in his best judgment as a rationalist, to have killed Narcissa Malfoy. If Narcissa had never gotten her own hands dirty, if indeed she'd been burned alive, if the killer hadn't been tricked - those were all the conditions Harry could remember making. He probably should've written it down, or better yet, never made a promise requiring that many caveats in the first place.

There were plausible outs, for the sort of

... (read more)

(Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Void/Ether.) Also, canonMort settled on six Horcruxes because he thought splitting his soul into seven pieces would have some beneficial effect (never specified, perhaps because his first 'crux was destroyed by the time he made the sixth). If the stratosphere doesn't qualify, that leaves a Horcrux unaccounted for.

No, this does not explain any dormant-times. See chapter 20: While Quirrell shows Harry the sphere of stars, he is not in zombie mode; he talks to Harry and even notices Dumbledore's imminent arrival.

Note though, that this doesn't not rule out the hypothesis of him visiting his Horcruxes during zombie mode – for all we know, there might be another mechanism one could use to check on one's Horcruxes.

Apparently I was being excessively coy. I meant they can't be destroyed without his knowledge. (Also, I notice you left out the stratosphere one.)

3chaosmosis9yIf you meant without his immediate knowledge then I interpret it as evidence pointing more towards the opposite conclusion, although it doesn't point very far either way. He possibly wouldn't bother to go to check on his Horcruxes if he was immediately aware of what their condition is. It's only weak evidence but it points against the idea that he's aware of all of his soul-parts at once. if you meant that he'll find out as soon as he goes to check on them, then I agree.
7pedanterrific9yWhat do you mean by "goes to check on them"? I just meant he could set aside an hour every Sunday to cast "view-of-space, view-of-sky, view-of-dirt, view-of-magma, view-of-ocean" for five seconds each. Presumably the spell would fail or something if the viewpoint Horcrux had been destroyed. ETA: Quirrell states to Harry (so take with an entire shaker of salt, but still) that the spell takes a lot out of him to cast, so he couldn't cast it again "today, or tomorrow either". Even assuming that's true, that just imposes a three-day break between individual checks, so the longest a Horcrux would go unexamined would be two weeks. Or he could leave the Spacecrux out of the usual lineup because it's relatively unreachable, just check it on special occasions (and to show off for Harry).
3chaosmosis9yThat's the type of thing I was referring to with "goes to check on them", I didn't mean to imply that he moved his physical body. Dualism makes for stupid problems with grammar.

See chapter 61:

The flesh of his servant, willingly given; the blood of his foe, forcibly taken; and the bone of his ancestor, unknowingly bequeathed. Voldemort is a perfectionist -" Albus glanced at Severus, who nodded agreement, "- and he would certainly seek the most powerful combination: the flesh of Bellatrix Black, the blood of Harry Potter, and the bone of his father.

Though personally I think Albus Dumbledore's blood (if he could obtain it) and Salazar Slytherin's bone (if he could find such) would be a more interesting combination; as it differs from canon in all three elements.

4chaosmosis9yI have alarm bells going off in my head and I feel like I read something suggesting that Quirrell took Harry's blood at some point in time. Or that Harry bled in his presence. Or something. This could be a fake memory though because it's very vague.

Was it this bit?

"He didn't have any choice," said Harry. "Not if he wanted to fulfill the conditions of the prophecy."

"Give me that," said Professor Quirrell, and the newspaper leaped out of Harry's hand so fast that he got a paper cut.

Harry automatically put the finger in his mouth to suck on, feeling rather shocked, and turned to remonstrate with Professor Quirrell -

Earlier in this very same chapter, Harry tells Quirrell that he can't imagine Quirrell hurting someone unless he means to. (This was in context of their discussion of the Gryffindor who cast a dark curse without knowing what it did.)

So we can assume that either Quirrell isn't as precise as Harry thinks and accidentally hurt Harry, or that he's exactly as precise as Harry thinks and took the blood on purpose.

775th9ySnape tells Moody that the "bone of the father" has to be removed from the original grave during the ritual. It stands to reason that the other two components must be sacrificed during the ritual as well.
4ArisKatsaris9yNice catch! Upvoted. But personally I doubt it has some deeper significance. Quirrel seemed honestly distracted by the article at that time -- and a papercut doesn't leave much if any blood on the paper... as the paper moves away fast enough that blood doesn't even have time to flow on it.
8JGWeissman9yI find "a papercut doesn't leave much if any blood on the paper... as the paper moves away fast enough that blood doesn't even have time to flow on it" way more convincing than "Quirrel seemed honestly distracted by the article at that time".
6ArisKatsaris9yI also don't remember anything specific about Harry bleeding in any chapter, but an opportunity to take it unawares would have been just before chapter 60 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/60], when Harry was sleeping in Quirrel's presence. A potential problem with Quirrel doing this is that the ritual's requirements seem to distinguish between "forcibly" and "unknowingly". It's possible that he'll have to do it by directly forcing Harry to give up his blood, not by deceiving or tricking him, or even letting him lie unconscious while he's pulling it out.

With time travel you could pull off last minute injunctions on people who were going to die anyways. Think of it as Prisoner of Azkaban escapes, except instead of preventing deaths you just make use of them.

I think it'd work best as a mirror to the organ donor / organ recipient list. You sign up, and when you would normally have a catastrophic broomstick accident (or whatever), you instead have a couple medical professionals and the horcrux maker visit you 5 minutes before your appointed time.

But presumably "villain" here means something like "enemies actually involved in fighting this conflict, in other words who are likely to kill someone." Doesn't include people who merely have despicable opinions, or even bystanders such as Narcissa (possibly) was.

All the sources I've found indicate the deaths used to create the Horcruxes are Myrtle (diary) - Riddle Sr. (ring) - an unnamed Muggle tramp (locket) - Hepzibah Smith (cup) - an unnamed Albanian peasant (diadem) - Voldemort himself (Harry) - Bertha Jorkins (Nagini), in that order.

It didn't need to possess Umbridge. A Voldemort horcrux influences you to be more like Voldemort, or do to things in favor of Voldemort. Umbridge was already doing precisely what Voldemort wanted, so the best thing for the horcrux to do was to STFU and let her continue.

5DavidAgain9yYes, I think 'mind control' is wrong here. It's very similar to the One Ring, which occasionally does seem to deliberately slip off someone's finger etc. but mostly just projects a certain feeling. I never felt the horcrux was plotting against them. As to Harry the Horcrux, I don't think accidental Horcruxes are crazy because the magic is implied not to be sophisticated so much as primal and brutal. At a narrative level, it fits very well. He isn't accidentally casting a Horcrux spell, a Horcrux is accidentally being formed from the combination of a spare bit of soul and a well-suited container.

The idea that you can "accidentally" perform a complex secret Dark ritual is ridiculous. Especially because accidental magic has previously always matched the goals of the caster, but Voldemort didn't want Harry to live and certainly didn't want to make him into a living Horcrux (although that would have been cool if he actually did, and had planned that).

Dumbledore, in Deathly Hallows:

[...] on the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, an

... (read more)
9Xachariah9yThe second book, nearly the start of the series, centers around a diary that is nearly indestructible, can possess others, and can reconstitute Voldemort after his death. Even though it wasn't called a Horcrux by name at the time, it hits all the key points of something you'd make to save yourself from death. It's also known in that same book that he's got more than one of the things. She might not have had everything planned out, but it seems pretty clear to me she had an Immortal Dark Lord in mind when she made the first book and had already mapped out the mechanism by the second book.

Va gur Nhgube'f Abgrf sbe Puncgref 39--40 (Cergraqvat gb Or Jvfr), Ryvrmre nccrnef gb or qryvorengryl inthr nf gb jurgure gur UCZBE havirefr unf na nsgreyvsr. Ng yrnfg, gung'f ubj V ernq guvf:

Vg'f na vagrerfgvat dhrfgvba nf gb jurgure Uneel vf orunivat nf n Syng Rnegu Ngurvfg jvgu erfcrpg gb uvf fxrcgvpvfz nobhg na nsgreyvsr. Gb or engvbany, lbh jnag gb unir gur fbeg bs zvaq gung, vs vg svaqf vgfrys va n jbeyq jvgu ab nsgreyvsr, qbrfa'g oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr, naq vs vg svaqf vgfrys va n jbeyq jvgu na nsgreyvsr, qbrf oryvrir va na nsgreyvsr. W. X. Ebjy

... (read more)

She was being sentenced to ten years in Azkaban, which is the same thing as "death by slow torture".

since my account is already ruined, by continuing to bump this comment thread I can wage a war of attrition against you. there is no real impact to my receiving more negative karma although there is a high probability. conversely, there is a small probability that you'll receive some negative reputation (or even better, this part would all be deleted) and there is also an impact to your credibility.

You overstate the degree of ruination of your account and so I don't quite support the details of your reasoning. Nevertheless, drethelin has something to le... (read more)

"This comment will be downvoted" is a testable prediction, agreed.
"This comment will be downvoted because it's not a capitulation" is not a testable prediction.
Regardless of its testability, it is also an attempt to impose a specific interpretation on all downvotes. It asserts that my downvote is an expression of the desire for chaosmosis to capitulate, rather than an expression of the desire to have fewer comments like his on LW.

I'm confused. What did I do that was jerklike? I was under the impression that you disliked downvotes, and my comment's intent was to dispel a source of confusion that would cause some people to erroneously downvote your comment.

Several people (myself included) do tend to downvote comments for whining about downvotes.

[-][anonymous]9y 6

I don't think you're correctly using the phrase "karma sinks." Or at least, you're not using it the way I see it is typically used on LW. Karma sinks refer to comments users make in order for other commentators to purposefully downvote if they upvoted another specific comment. This is so we can do things like straw polls without the polling user gaining tens or hundreds of karma.

That might be unclear, so I'll give an example. I recently made a comment asking whether people would be interested in a New Jersey meetup. I could have also asked those ... (read more)

4thomblake9yI think you mean "positive feedback loop" of downvotes.
5[anonymous]9yAh, silly me. Correcting some else while making a mistake. You're correct, thanks.

I wasn't aware that was a particularly politically charged example since it's not currently on either side's discussion plate.

I do think it's somewhat relevant with them both being profit motivations that encourage increasingly stricter laws and enforcement. Then again if I'd been able to notice the problem I wouldn't have put it in there in the first place.

Taking your advice, do you think I should edit it out and remove the example? Or better yet, could anyone think of an example that's not so politically proximate that illustrates the same effect? I... (read more)

If you have future interactions on this site, please try to avoid "convincing" as a primary goal. This is not debate club.

What is a "karma sink" in this context?

Our time zones are different (hence you might have written me in the middle of my writing), but I think I reached my goal: thank you for your help. I'm still struggling a little bit with the interface.

But the Potterverse is dualist. Even if horcruxes get some massive retcon, animagi preserve that in MOR.

It enjoys the mind/body distinction, for sure, but not necessarily strongly (not more strongly than a physicalist who wants to be neuropreserved). Random proposed mechanisms for animagi:

  • the human mind is very compressible, so it's not hard to build a cat-sized brain that runs a human
  • the brain actually gets teleported to another dimension and operates the cat via telepresence
  • the cat is animated through magic and most of its mass is actually used to run computation (slightly less plausible for a beetle)

Or the obvious one: space is compressed using the same method as every other bigger-on-the-inside object wizards use everywhere all the time.

This is a pretty meta comment thread. Speaking of different sides, or different ways that you sometimes are, and simultaneously illustrating it.

My goal isn't to get good karma, it's to get a few of people who are reading this to realize how stupid the commenters here are behaving.

What was your goal before you got that first downvote? Reflecting on the change in your goals, do you endorse your original goal, your post-downvote goal, or some third option?

Prediction time!

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll feel forced to kill Quirrel: 0.2 > p > 0.15 [UPDATED from 0.1 > p > 0.05]

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll feel forced to kill Dumbledore: 0.12 > p > 0.08

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll end up killing the wrong person (bad judgement call on Harry's behalf): 0.15 > p > 0.1

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll end up killing the wrong person (bad execution on Harry's behalf): 0.1 > p > 0.05

  • Due to Harry's new vow he'll not kill the right bad guy at the right time hence become indirectly r

... (read more)
4kilobug9yYour probabilities seem way too low to me. Just one chance in 10 that because of the vow he'll be forced to kill the one we have many evidence to believe he's the arch-enemy ? Can you elaborate the reasons why you put such a low probability to that ?
7DanArmak9yI don't think he can kill Quirrel. Certainly not without a very cunning plan and Dumbledore at his side. And vice versa. ETA: by vice versa I meant he can't kill Dumbledore without Quirrel's help. I'm sure Quirrel could kill Harry very easily if he so desired.
4wedrifid9yAt least, not by the end of the school year!
6SkyDK9yYes, of course. First of all, I just updated it to 0.15-0.20. This might actually be a bit high, but I've set it higher than what I feel is right due to my bias (consisting of Eliezer finding a more interesting way of writing the story). It is "so low" due to the following: * a) I believe that Quirrel is not seeking a physical confrontation with Harry (earlier we saw him toss Harry a knut (that could have been a portkey to a volcano)) * a.1.) Harry wouldn't win such a confrontation (a sneak attack would of course be much more likely to get the job done) * a.2.) If there is a confrontation and if that confrontation ends with the death of Quirrel, I expect the wands or Lily's ritual to be the deciding factor, not any action of Harry's. * b) I consider it most probable that Quirrel tries to turn Harry to his ways (0.6 < p < 0.5) * b.1) Harry might try to counter-turn Quirrel. I do doubt though that this will end with one of them dying. Killing one another seems so irrational... * c) if Harry decides Quirrel must die, he'd do better using henchmen [I'm now officially not a fan of the editing options here]

Ah, a chance to use a simple heuristic - if I see 3^^^3 in a philosophical question, terminate thought and respond with profanity. It's the simplest accurate algorithm for responding to such questions, I've found.

Please don't do that (in a way that is in any way visible on this forum). If you can't keep your inability handle extreme cases to yourself then please leave.

5Alsadius9yI think half my problems on this forum stem from an inability to keep a bad joke to myself.

Secondary source: I have seen the first 3 films, and Alice explicitly (and repeatedly, I think) states that "a decision has been made" when she has a vision. That decision needn't be made by Bella specifically though.

That doesn't make any sense. Eliezer quite often tries to point out that things don't go down the way they do in stories, and it would be a ridiculously unlikely coincidence that whatever the time travel limit was, that happened to be the exact distance in light hours from earth to Pioneer on a certain date in the future. If the plaque is horcruxed, it happened WAY before Harry was even born, so it's not like Quirrel could've even arranged it to coincide with the end of Harry's first year at Hogwarts intentionally for drama.

There are muggle artifacts containing immense investment of intelligence. I bet some sort of Potions Master could make an unprecedented intelligence potion - or at least one good enough to let them figure out how to make the next one...

The potion should make a soft "foom" when stirred.

I read the first chapter and it doesn't seem particularly good, let alone "excellent". It has thoughts in quotation marks and clumsy narration and dull dialogue. Does it get markedly better a ways in?

That is a marvelous image, which is making me giggle.
Sadly, I suppose you probably meant "canon."

From chapter 74: "Even so, the most terrible ritual known to me demands only a rope which has hanged a man and a sword which has slain a woman; and that for a ritual which promised to summon Death itself - though what is truly meant by that I do not know and do not care to discover, since it was also said that the counterspell to dismiss Death had been lost."

I missed this the first time I read it, but to me, it seems to pretty clearly refer to creating a dementor - Quirrell doesn't understand what it means because he doesn't know about the true p... (read more)

9ArisKatsaris9yHaving just read most of Lawrence Watt-Evans' [http://lesswrong.com/lw/s7/lawrence_wattevanss_fiction/] Ethsar series, I recognize now this as a reference to the spell of Seething Death [http://ethshar.wikia.com/wiki/Seething_Death].
6Quirinus9yI think it was implied that he somehow deduced that the dementors are a physical manifestation of death, possibly even before Harry's showcase of the true Patronus spell. "I ate it". Eat death. Death eater. Quirrell can't perform the true patronus because he isn't as hopeful and positive about the nature of humanity and the vanquishing of death. As dumbledore put it, he doesn't live, but cowers of fear from death. And then, more interestingly, in chapter 53, when giving Bellatrix the death eater password: Compare it to the plan Harry's dark side came up with on Chapter 81: That's way too nice of a parallelism in prose for it to be a coincidence.

I'm doing a reread.

"In any case, when I was thirteen years old, I read through the historical sections of the Hogwarts library, scrutinizing the lives and fates of past Dark Lords, and I made a list of all the mistakes that I would never make when I was a Dark Lord."

Harry giggled before he could stop himself.

"Yes, Mr. Potter, very amusing. So, Mr. Potter, can you guess what was the very first item on that list?"

Great. "Um... never use a complicated way of dealing with an enemy when you can just Abracadabra them?"

"The te

... (read more)
4Benquo9y1 sounds plausible because the name of the spell is also the manner in which it is cast; to develop the habit of saying a spell's name wrong could result in an accidental, disastrous misfire.

How about Animagus-ing into an immortal jellyfish? Certainly not an ideal life, but if it lets you keep old age at bay long enough the muggles will discover human immortality.

Pox on ninja edits. I liked the Ghostbusters' song. :(

And I liked it when Quirrel said the single most dangerous monster in all the world was "The adult wizard".

Wonder how many more happened that I haven't noticed yet.

"The adult wizard" was changed quite a while before the most recent round of retcons. Most of the other changes I can understand, even the removal of Ghostbusters, but this one seems completely indefensible. He's listing species that are dangerous, so it makes more sense to use a biology-type word like "adult".

And as Quirrell is perfectly open later on in telling everyone that he believes Harry wishes to become a Dark Lord, and also that he still wishes to teach Harry how to defeat his foes, there's no reason for him to put on false airs and claim that all the students present will have Dark Wizards as their enemies. He even took "Defense Against Dark" out of the class's name for crying out loud!

4MarkusRamikin9yIf you can understand the removal of Ghostbusters, please explain it to me. There's nothing entertaining about that part of the chapter any more. I mean, I do know that some people in the reviews were unhappy with how 'now it's a songfic', but others liked it - I certainly did, it was funny to imagine - and at least the scene made sense. While now you have people just shouting Harry Potter! out of the blue, and basically everything happening and everyone reacting exactly as before for little apparent reason.
375th9yI agree that the new scene seems very awkward, though I'm not sure whether I would have thought so if I weren't already familiar with the old version. Eliezer has said that some people would have "massively bad associations" to songs in fanfics. I don't read fan fiction in general, so I have no idea what he's specifically referring to. But, err, given the interactions I've had with fandom people, I can definitely imagine them being utterly unable to see past their preconceived notions and snap judgments to logically evaluate a given scene on its own merits and subtleties.
4CronoDAS9yHe got a LOT of complaints in the reviews about the Ghostbusters song.

I just reread this bit, while Harry and Quirrel are discussing where to hide things:

Or ideally you would launch it into space, with a cloak against detection, and a randomly fluctuating acceleration factor that would take it out of the Solar System.

I just noticed that this could be the in-world cause of the Cvbarre Rssrpg.

Do Hermoine's parents even have the right to withdraw her? Harry's parents apparently do not have such a right:

Muggles had around the same legal standing as children or kittens: they were cute, so if you tortured them in public you could get arrested, but they weren’t people. Some reluctant provision had been made for recognizing the parents of Muggleborns as human in a limited sense, but Harry’s adoptive parents did not fall into that legal category (Chapter 26).

Chapter 83 on hpmor.com ends with a "you have reached the story's in-progress mark" note even though it is no longer the latest chapter.

She'd love her son if Voldermort wanted to make her love him.

Seriously, this has got to be true just for subversion value.

The "I learned" is redundant, unless you mean that you learned that you just learned what TIL means, in which case you could have prefaced it with a 'that'.

I kid, I kid.

Evidence in favor: Dumbledore thinks it's plausible that he's the Dark Lord from the prophecy, which would require it possible to destroy all but a remnant of him.

However, I still like the idea of Quirrell being hoisted by his own genius petard (and by his hatred of science, since if he'd bothered to study it, rather than just using it, he might have avoided that mistake).

How's he supposed to know that the Horcrux connection craps out at six light-hours? Presumably he's the first to have a Horcrux anywhere but Earth.

From Chapter 61:

(weighing, Minerva knew, the possibility that he might want to go back more than two hours from this instant; for you couldn't send information further back in time than six hours, not through any chain of Time-Turners)

If information cannot travel back more than six hours, and a "soul" (stored on a Horcrux) is information (as Quirrell describes it), then it is a reasonable guess that the soul cannot travel over a spatial separation of more than 6 light-hours. Further than that, and it seems the soul parts must fall out of synch, though exactly what happens then is anyone's guess. Does Quirrell die? Are there two separate Quirrells, one stranded permanently on Pioneer, and the other on Earth? Can the one on Earth be killed, even if the one on Pioneer is never destroyed?

If information cannot travel back more than six hours

This does seem to be a constraint that exclusively affects the time-turners. Otherwise prophesies wouldn't be possible. It also seems like it's an artificial rule rather than a deep law of magic because after the Stanford Prison experiment, Bones tells Dumbledore that she has information from four hours in the future and asks whether he'd like to know it. That there is relevant information from four hours in the future is information from the future - she would not have said that if it were otherwise, so it seems there must be exemptions of that kind.

Alternative hypothesis: prophesies are jive, and Eliezer didn't think of the other thing.

If information cannot travel back more than six hours, and a "soul" (stored on a Horcrux) is information (as Quirrell describes it), then it is a reasonable guess that the soul cannot travel over a spatial separation of more than 6 light-hours.

More then 6 hours in what reference frame?

5drnickbone9yReturning to this thread after a few months... I see Eliezer has responded in a way which kills my theory stone cold. (Though it was dead anyway if the 6 light-hour separation by Pioneer wasn't reached in 1992.) But basically what I was thinking was this. Consider any two space-time points x and y. Either they have a time-like separation, or a space-like separation or a null separation. If they have a space-like separation then there is a particular inertial reference-frame in which they are only separated in space, not in time. If the spatial separation in that frame is > 6 light-hours, then information cannot travel from x to y. (Or, if you want to think of it in terms of a causal graph, and Pearl's intervention calculus, then every intervention to the graph at x will leave events at y unaltered.) Incidentally, this formulation implies the rule that "information can't go back in time more than 6 hours" and implies it in any inertial reference frame. For if information could travel from x to a point z, more than 6 hours in the past of x (but at the same place) in some reference frame, then it could be sent further along a future-pointing null vector from z to y (by an ordinary light-beam), where y is > 6 light-hours from x in the same reference frame. So the restriction of "no spatial jumps > 6 light-hours" neatly implies "no temporal jumps back > 6 hours". Basically, this looks something like the Minkowski interval formulation: there is no privileged reference frame, just a new constant of nature (i.e. whatever 6 light-hours translates to in Planck lengths).
4[anonymous]8yThe reference frame of the Heart of Magic, naturally.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky9yWhy the heck is this being voted down? It's a perfectly valid question! You could have some Minkowskian interval that Time Turners can't go further back than, and it would make sense in terms of Special Relativity, but there's no obvious analogy for a maximum spacelike separation being built into the laws of magic. I may be willing to put Time Turners in my fic - I may even be willing to swallow the single-world interpretation of QM which that necessarily implies - but even I'm not going to give magic a privileged reference frame, or talk like "hours" are an intrinsically meaningful measure. Special Relativity is... I mean... it's over the local properties of the variables on which everything else is built, it's the stuff that the fabric of reality is locally made of. It's like having Harry not be made of atoms.
9rocurley9yIf you're not willing to have a privileged reference frame, how do time turners know where to go? (Especially thorny is that the surface of the earth accelerates upwards relative to inertial reference frames; if you stay in your inertial reference frame played backwards through time, you don't lose the earth in space, but you do oscillate through it like a mass on a spring. I personally think this is a really cool way for time travel to work, but it's clearly not how time turners do).

If Time Turners went backwards in intervals of 81 minutes, instead of an hour, that'd fit with the "you fell to the center of the earth and oscillated back" method of inertial time travel.

7DanArmak9yUnless MoR is going to include an explanation of how magic is implemented in terms of known (or new and deeper) laws of physics, Harry might as well not be made of atoms. After all, modern technology conveniently doesn't work near magic so we can't investigate the matter... Which should Harry believe at this point: that the Ultimate Law is better described as fundamentally Muggle physics with a Source of Magic built on top; or that the Ultimate Law is an alien, magical, human-intuition-confirming system where someone once cast a big spell that specified the Muggle laws of physics? Hell, if the existence of magic is actively erased from the minds of Muggles, maybe we shouldn't put too much trust in the Muggle evidence for the natural evolution of humans, or for the age of the world.

Now, how can the answer to this question be revealed as a surprise, if the answer is that Q=V? The only way of making a mystery of it is to plant suggestive hints that Q=V and then, when the time comes, reveal Q != V.

What makes you think it's supposed to be a surprise or a mystery? Maybe it's supposed to be obvious.

That isn't a Horcrux, from Word of EY.

When Dumbledore is entertaining the possibility that shade!Voldemort possessed Hermione he doesn't say "But we know that's not the case because the back of her head isn't deformed."

More generally, there's been lots and lots of specific changes to how magic in general and certain magics in particular work. Forex: in canon there's no such thing as "magical exhaustion". Basically everything about Transfiguration is different. Combat is different, and far more detailed.

I took that particular passage as evidence that Rational!Voldemort is not so incompetent as to risk discovery through hat-removal.

What I mean by enforcement being unreliable and capricious is, roughly. that agents believe that their performing the act is not well-correlated with their being punished.

It sounds from that wiki article like Mussolini created an environment where people believed that being a mafioso would reliably result in being punished.

I suspect they also believed that not being a mafioso stood a good chance of being punished, which has other consequences; when punishment occurs in the absence of a reliable and controllable cue, the result is learned helplessness. Bu... (read more)

She worked at a newspaper and punished gossip stories that would sell

Gossip stories that were weapons (used by one side to prosecute two separate wars with thousands of casaulties) and acknowledged as such by all well-informed players; or are we going to claim that Skeeter, investigative reporter par excellence, somehow missed that she was really working for Malfoy despite everyone else knowing?

Whether Lucius hands her a sack of gold or signs a check to the Daily Prophet makes no difference. It would be like asking whether Tokyo Rose was paid on an hour... (read more)

9TimS9ycanon!Skeeter was a tool of Fudge. Thus, if Fudge was a tool of Malfoy, then Skeeter was a tool of Malfoy. But I'm not convinced that Fudge knew that he was a Malfoy tool. Certainly, his reactions amount to "doing worse than Neville Chamberlain when confronting an evil tyrant," which was a very advantageous position for the Ministry of Magic to take, from Malfoy's point of view. Nonetheless, my impression from canon was that Fudge's "la-la-la I'm not listening strategy" was a happy accident from Malfoy's point of view, not a planned strategy. And if Fudge was not conspiring with Malfoy, then it seems reasonable that Skeeter (a knowing lackey of Fudge) would not think she was one of Malfoy's tools. Of course, a substantial amount of this impression is based on my belief that Rowling was a terrible world-builder and that the canon Potterverse contained essentially zero competent plotters. For example, Chamber of Secrets is an unintended consequence of Malfoy's petty act against a bureaucratic rival. Voldemort received no benefit from Malfoy's acts, and Malfoy should have know that. Heck, Malfoy himself received no benefit, and didn't even seem to expect one. In short, he shouldn't have used a powerful Voldemort artifact the way he did. Edit: None of this should be read as disagreeing with the view that Skeeter knew that a natural consequence of her work was destroying people's lives and this didn't bother her one bit.
5Sheaman37739yThat's the impression of the characters in book 5, but the end of book 4 pretty clearly shows that Fudge's impressions of Harry were guided by Skeeter, not the other way around. As for what you said about Lucius being a shoddy plotter--well, he did fail in CoS, so you could make an argument to that opinion. But look at it from another point of view. * Through an excessive amount of force --an admittedly stupid move which did get him kicked off of the Board eventually--he got Dumbledore removed as Headmaster, and if Harry hadn't triumphed against ridiculous odds, it likely would have stuck. * If Ginny had been caught releasing the Basilisk, Arthur is discredited, which would reverse those irritating acts that he was (somehow) making into law. * If Ginny fails to be saved, then either she gets blamed for everything and Arthur is discredited or she is taken to be another victim; either way and she would be dead, which is icing on the Flawless Instrument of Death's cake. * If Ginny is saved but people don't believe her about the diary controlling her actions (remember, Dumbledore was supposed to be gone), then Arthur is discredited. * We don't know too much about how much Lucius knew about the diary, but he might have known that it would have targeted Harry, which would have been quite the coup. * If the diary would have escaped, I would argue that Voldemort would get something out of it; perhaps the life stolen from Ginny could have been given to Voldemort's shade? * None of this mentions the fact that many mudbloods were supposed to die, which he would consider to be a good thing, at least. Lucius did not succeed in CoS--at all, really, besides temporarily removing the headmaster--but that doesn't mean he wasn't planning to get anything out of it.

The natural answer is the latter right? Well yes, except the part where you have to hand a criminal whose crime was severe enough to warrant stripping some of his magic a wand and give him enough mental breathing room to perform a complicated, powerful ritual. Some of them are just gonna go along with it, sure, but you only gotta have one high-profile screwup before that kind of a policy is abolished.

Or, you could think strategically for a few minutes then, for example, only give magic wands to wizards for this purpose after they have themselves sworn unbreakable vows that would prevent any misuse.

The implication of the next part was that IF there was a different spirit anywhere in harry it would be participating in the conversation. Considering how frank the hat is about Harry's potential for evil, I don't think it would have lied in a petty fashion like this.

But then, we had decent reason to take for granted that Lucius thought Harry was Voldemort, until we learned a couple of chapters ago of the mysterious unnamed hero from the seventies.

Am I misreading you, or do you think the new information about Noble Hero is evidence against the idea that Lucius thinks Harry is Voldemort? If that's so, could you elaborate as to why?

Yeah, eh, that statement was actually based on a major stupid error that I didn't realize was a major stupid error until I tried to type it just now. Quirrell's Yule speech made Amelia Bones think Quirrell was this Noble Hero; Harry's Yule speech made Lucius Malfoy think Harry was… someone. I stupidly pattern-matched this Noble Hero into that blank, somehow forgetting the fact that the speeches involved were not the same or made by the same person and were in fact in direct opposition to one another. If I hadn't been so coy about it I would have discovered this before embarrassing myself.

Hmm, if not, then there's mutual exclusivity between some Dark Wizard and Light Wizard abilities.

You can cast a Horcrux, OR a True Patronus, but not both. Interestingly, both are ways of avoiding encounters with death.

One major problem concerns the legal rights of magical criminals; what if you're later found to be innocent? There'll be no way to reclaim their magic. Hence I doubt Harry would prefer this solution.

capital punishment, something Harry doesn't seem to mind.

Why do you say that ? He seems very opposed to capital punishment to me, that's why he takes the resolution to try to not kill Voldemort. That's also why he wants to destroy Azkaban.

5drethelin9yHarry's a little inconsistent about this, depending on his mood. He's definitely talked at least somewhat seriously of just rounding up and killing all former death eaters etc.

That reminds me-- at some point in canon, Dumbledore says "There are worse things than dying", and my original thought was that Voldemort could be turned into a Muggle. As it turned out, Dumbledore presumably meant the consequences of creating Horcruxes, but I do wonder how Voldeort would manage if he were turned into a Muggle.