(The HPMOR discussion thread after this one is here.)

The previous thread is over the 500-comment threshold, so let's start a new Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread.  This is the place to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter fanfic and anything related to it. The latest chapter as of 09/09/2011 is Ch. 77.


The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.  The fanfiction.net author page is the central location for information about updates and links to HPMOR-related goodies, and AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author's Notes.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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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Has it occurred to anyone else how good magic would be for psychological experimentation?

To start with, imagine you get the consent of your subjects to be Obliviated. Then, you can try exposing the subjects to differing stimuli while they're in exactly the same starting state, and you can precisely and easily measure the effect of whatever change you've made.

Even better, imagine the marketing opportunities. Think of Mr Hat and Cloak's dictionary attack, but with a focus group, and different advertisements for your new product. Show them the ad, then ask them how much they liked it, then Obliviate them again.

Also, you could try to remove the effect of priming on yourself with self-targeted obliviation.

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen, leaving you with only a note saying "Don't look at SqueeHorse" or something.

I really want magic.

I wonder if there's a different attitude toward spoilers or "great works of art" in the Wizarding World because of memory charms. Hats which could charm endings or plots out of people's minds, people who would only read one book over and over again by repeatedly blasting it out of their heads, or museums/theme parks Obliviating any previous experience there so that every time is fresh.

Would also like to see Eliezer lampshade the Snape kills Dumbledore spoiler by having everyone present self obliviate or something similar.

[-]FAWS120

And you could go on 4chan, knowing that what has been seen actually can be unseen

Is this an actual problem rather than just people making a show of how strongly they are disgusted by expressing the wish to unsee, asking for brain bleach etc?

4pedanterrific
I dunno, you tell me. Now see, if you had the ability to Obliviate yourself you would be able to find out what those links lead to.
1FAWS
Lemon faces, goats and a rick-roll? I don't think I get the joke.
4pedanterrific
A) Lemon party, not lemon faces. B) You are way too trusting. C) DO NOT GOOGLE THOSE THINGS. D) Ok yes the rickroll was just for fun. But seriously.
1FAWS
Meh. I did just google lemon party, and the impact was just about zero. That's supposed to be a shock image? Goatse had some impact on me when I first saw it years ago, as did 2g1c, but the mere memory of either of those doesn't (how could a memory shock?). I can't even imagine wanting to erase the memories, what for? I might want to store pleasant memories in a pensive to experience something pleasant "for the first time" a second time in different way, and then restore the original memory, but looking at goatse for the first time is not exactly something I consider pleasant (though not as big a deal as some seem to either).
5pedanterrific
I dunno. Personally I haven't been able to look at chocolate milkshakes the same way for a while, and I used to actually like them, so that's a memory I would prefer buried. (But goatse was just mildly impressive, and lemonparty didn't even merit a twinge.) Probably everyone reacts differently to that sort of thing. What do you think of memetic attacks, e.g. basilisks? Edit: You know, if you downvoted me for being disgusting that means you agree with my premise. You should be downvoting FAWS, not me! (Not strictly serious.)
2NancyLebovitz
I don't know about what they mean by it on 4chan, but "what has been seen cannot be unseen" applies to certain styles of literary criticism, and I'm not even sure whether some of it is really "what has been "seen" cannot be unseen".
2Normal_Anomaly
"What has been seen cannot be unseen" refers to disgusting images that one wishes one could forget.
4NancyLebovitz
It's hard to unsee plausible intellectual patterns, too.
1Normal_Anomaly
Can you give an example? I'm not sure I know what you mean.

This is heading straight into mindkiller territory, but there's a style of reading which involves tracking everything that might be offensive in a story. The thing is, sometimes what looks like reasonable deductions of background beliefs is a result, but it's a hell of a way to treat fiction as a matter of habit.

3hairyfigment
Yes, you might start to think of Aslan as a sapient blood cell for a cosmic horror. (If you want the details and don't see them after following that link, one of the later comments on this lovely page lays out the major points.)
1pedanterrific
the trees, man, the treeees they're eating the univerrrrse (That was an awesome link, thank you.) Edit: It's a good thing I read all the way through the comments again before posting my paraphrase of Eliezer's bit in Amputation of Destiny about there being an "extra lion".
1hairyfigment
Ha, any time. I suspect Lewis would technically agree with every part of that comment except the obstinate and absurd suggestion that a flat world with a blue dome around it -- through which people can sometimes see the Emperor's teeth mountains surrounding the dome -- has a different origin from our world.
1Incorrect
Offensive to whom? If you personally aren't really offended by anything, are you immune to this? In three worlds collide there's the non-consensual sex plot point that some people misunderstood as being misogynist rather than the result of EY selecting a particularly unusual point in culturespace. Is this the kind of analysis you are talking about? I really just don't see how this meme could infect you unless you already have a disposition of looking for things to take offense to. Do you have any other examples?
2wedrifid
People thought that was misogynist? Wasn't it a male being abhorred by a culture in which he may not be forced by a woman? Unless my memory fails me that's totally the wrong offense to be taking. :)
1TobyBartels
Was there a point to that bit of the story? I'm not objecting to it, I just suspect that I may have missed something; it seemed kind of random.
9JoshuaZ
The point as I understand it was to have the humans not have exactly our moral system. Morals evolve over time, and most people in any given generation would be shocked by the ethical and moral attitudes of people a few generations down the line. This attitude of the population reflects that. It also helps broaden the scope of the questions raised by not making one of the moral systems identical to our general moral system, so we don't immediately look at the morality of the humans and just say "but that's the right system!" Overall, while I think I understand why Eliezer did this, it seems to be a very tiny benefit for a very large distraction. Overall, a net negative in getting his points across.
6Eugine_Nier
It also has the potential to undermine the point of the story if a reader finds non-consensual sex as abhorrent as eating babies.
8pedanterrific
Babyeaters vs Superhappies vs Libertarapists: Whoever wins, we lose.
5Incorrect
What's wrong with the superhappies?
3pedanterrific
You know, I almost made a flippant remark about the abolition of "bodily pain, embarrassment, and romantic troubles" meaning an end to rape (oh no!) when I remembered untranslatable 4 which is arguably even better, so... More seriously, I don't quite understand your question. There doesn't have to be something wrong with them for them to value different things than we do, such that a victory for them is a loss for us.
1TobyBartels
OK, thanks, I agree with you.
1lessdazed
Could I convince you otherwise?
0NancyLebovitz
I'd need some evidence. The best would be a method that worked for me. I'm not sure how it could be demonstrated convincingly on other people, but I'm open to suggestions. Also, does your method (if that's what you're implying) work for visual images?
1lessdazed
It was a joke, since general beliefs are about plausible intellectual patterns. So long as you refuse to be convinced otherwise, your opinion is automatically at least partially right.
6gwern
Somewhere on LW, I think, someone suggested that 'discovering perfect psychological manipulation' was a problem akin to NP - hard to find, easy to check. So give rationalist!Voldemort a time-turner, a servant, and a a dungeon...
2wedrifid
Did you leave out an 'easy to' in there?
2dlthomas
I expect just an "easy"
4wedrifid
Given that I was just prompted to google for SqueeHorse I have to wonder how well that would work. (I still don't understand why I wouldn't want to look at SqueeHorse. Is it even a thing?)
7pedanterrific
SqueeHorse is a term for bishōnen yaoi mpreg. The More You Know ~☆
0Pavitra
Citation needed.
0pedanterrific
Click the star.
0Pavitra
I don't know what text that image is supposed to represent, and tineye doesn't turn anything up. I'd originally read it as meaning something like "bwahaha, I told you a horrible thing", but your reaction to the grandparent seems to suggest it means something more like "lol, not really".
2pedanterrific
Oh. Sorry. (Tineye didn't turn up anything? That's surprising.) Reference. Part of the point of being that oblique was not to give away the joke, but eh.
2Pavitra
Feel free to downvote.
0pedanterrific
...Why would I? Frankly I'm amazed my own contributions to this conversation haven't been downvoted into the lithosphere for being deliberately misleading. It doesn't even seem that funny, in retrospect.
1Pavitra
To make the explanation easier to not see, thus restoring some measure of obliquity. If you don't want to karma-punish, you could always upvote the invitation for balance.
0pedanterrific
If you insist! (I felt surprisingly guilty about it, so I upvoted you twice.)
0wedrifid
A term for that huh? Well, now it all makes sense! I think the 'yaoi' bit is something to with fantasy gay porn for girls. No idea about the other two and I suspect I don't need to know. Fortunately all google gave me for SqueeHorse was a rather cute seahorse. :)
4Normal_Anomaly
A bishonen is an androgynous-looking pretty male in Japanese anime. mpreg is short for male pregnancy.
9wedrifid
You confirmed my suspicion. I didn't need to know.
0[anonymous]
(Mpreg?)
0moritz
I guess that too frequent obliviation damages or wears out the mind, and iirc there are several hints that it can be quite cathastrophic if an obliviation goes wrong. So there probably wouln't be large scale psychologic experiments based on obliviation.
0Solvent
That's a good point. Maybe not "large scale", but some scale.
0HonoreDB
The focus-group groundhog day attack is used in the classic science fiction story (rot13) Ghaary Haqre gur Jbeyq.
3pedanterrific
Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but... what makes a focus-group groundhog day attack more useful than just, you know, having multiple focus groups?

It eliminates variation between focus groups. If people are as deterministic as depicted in MoR chapter 27, the slightest variation in behavior would be a clue about how to refine the ad.

0faul_sname
That sounds like it would lead to overfitting.

I have an idea for an epic maneuver that a wizard could perform as a last resort in certain emergency situations. A severely wounded wizard could, if there is something of much greater utility then his own life on the line, transfigure himself into a healthy version of himself in order to continue the fight. This would be a death sentence, but still worth it if the stakes were high enough.

Then again Harry can already sustain a small transfigured object even in his sleep. Perhaps the most powerful of wizards could sustain a transfiguration on their own body indefinitely. Or... Professor McGonagall said that it would be possible for a child to transfigure themselves into an adult bodily form. Perhaps if the wizard could not sustain an object the size of their own body indefinitely after the emergency situation has passed they could again transfigure themselves into a adolescent, child, or midget form in order to achieve a body with a volume that they could sustain. Unless doing another transfiguration would cause the consequences of the previous transfiguration to be imposed on the new form. Though I don't see why that would necessarily be the case.

This would be a very fragile sort of existence. They would be much weaker due to the constant drain on their magic and incapacitation or anything that dispels the transfiguration would result in death.

It's also been noted that trolls are constantly transfiguring themselves into themselves, which lays a pretty good precedent for this kind of transfiguration!

7gwern
You know, that might work. I mean, it's well-known that "Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration" allows one to increase the amount of good food you have.
7AspiringKnitter
...Is it just me, or should that create a post-scarcity economy? Because that lets you make food in ways that violate the conservation of energy. How to survive as a wizard: 1. Get some nutritious, nonperishable food. 2. Make more. 3. Eat, but not all of it. 4. Repeat steps 2-3 indefinitely. Water isn't a problem, since aguamenti conjures it. So, question: why are there house elves? Why does Mrs. Weasley cook? ...Why can't the Weasleys buy a can of Coca-Cola, create as many more as they want and sell them? And do the same with hot dogs? And get rich? No, seriously. That makes no sense. But that's a problem with canon, not MoR.
8gwern
The dark secret, AspiringKnitter, is that all the food magic actually works on the same principle as the Hogwarts Hall meals - enslaved house-elves in obscure kitchens. That they feel no need to mention this merely demonstrates how thoroughly wizarding society is based on slavery. (We didn't hear about the house-elves for how many books?)
2AspiringKnitter
One, actually, but your point still stands. That is just plain creepy. Wait a minute. Why would it work for people who don't own house-elves, then?
4gwern
Watch your Fox News; it's England so they have socialism.
3AspiringKnitter
They have socialized slavery? There are so many things wrong with that.
1gwern
Well, you know, under socialism everyone is a slave to the state. So it's hardly inconsistent.
2AspiringKnitter
You know, I wonder whether Magical Britain has policies as liberal (American liberal, which I think means socialist in the rest of the world) as Real Britain. Somehow, I think not, but do we have evidence either way?
1Suryc11
Just a minor nitpick, I think it's the other way around. I'm reasonably sure that the American form of liberalism is usually on the right end of the political spectrum in other Western democracies. What is called liberal in other countries is what many Americans would call socialist and what is called moderate is 'American liberal'. Specifically, the Democratic Party's (the major party that most Americans call liberal) significant policy stances would probably be considered moderate in Great Britain and conservative in Denmark.
4Emile
Nope, in France "libéral" is closer to American "libertarian", i.e. pro-free markets, anti-welfare (as opposed to the "mainstream" right wing, which isn't particularly hostile to big government, and is more about traditional values and whatnot, and of course as opposed to the socialists and other left-wingers, who are very much at odds with the liberals). I think "liberal" has the same meaning in most of Europe (and in most of the world, though I'm less sure of that), and Americans and Canadians are more of the exception (where for historicaly reasons "socialist" had anti-American connotations, so the label "liberal" was adopted instead. This is a gross oversimplification).
0Suryc11
Thank you for the clarification. I did remember that in other countries liberal meant classically liberal as opposed to American modern liberalism. So in France, "libéral" is economically liberal but not necessarily socially permissive? Or did you mean "small-l libertarianism" when you referred to American "libertarian" and not the Libertarian Party?
0AspiringKnitter
Let me rephrase: we would consider your socialists liberal, even though certain parts of the world have a political spectrum shifted so far to the left that even your right-wing parties are liberal. In this case I meant that I wonder whether Magical Britain is as far to the left as regular Britain.
0shminux
I think gwern omitted the tag in his reply
[-][anonymous]150

No: it was there, he just spelled it Fox News.

6Jonathan_Elmer
Ha, I had another thought that this could explain professor Flitwick's size, but that is probably something that you would want to be common knowledge. You wouldn't want someone accidentally casting Finite on you. Then again I think it has been said that the effectiveness of Finite is depended on the power of the caster, so Flitwick being a former dueling champion may not need to fear it being accidentally dispelled.

Ok. I really don't like the new omake with the ponies.

I understand that Eliezer is trying to criticize overemphasis on peer review. But the bottom line is that peer review is really important: groups of humans who look at something critically are much more likely to notice mistakes and flaws then one will notice by one's self. This is not a trivial point.

I dislike it but not for that reason. There are so many great hooks for rationalist lessons in the actual show, but instead he makes an anvilicious alternate universe to take a cheap shot at a completely unrelated subject. It's such a waste. I am disappointed.

Indeed, when I sat down to make a rationalist MLP fanfic, I realized that the only part of the show that I would change is possibly Feeling Pinkie Keen.

5Armok_GoB
Yea. The approach to making an MLP rationalist fanfiction is not to change the original material, it's by working within the set format to provide rationalist lessons. If done properly probably indistinguishable from the canon episode scripts except for not being in a scrip format and being about slightly more advanced subject matter. For example, from what I've herd about the minicamp: "Dear princess Celestia, today I learned that although the idea that someponies opinion of you is infuenced by somehting as arbitary and wastefull as fashion might seem unpalatable, it can non the the less be unwise to ignore the fact that it is, even amoung friends. Ponies can not always control their subconius impresions, and this is no reason to in turn judle them. * Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

In related news, remember the advice that keeping a diary increases happiness? Guess how I'm writing mine. :3

5Armok_GoB
That's awesome, now I want to see some of those! There got to be SOME that are not to personal or can be easily modified to hide to personal information, right?
7ArisKatsaris
I think you're both thinking a bit too narrowly about the topic of rationalist MLP fanfiction. It needn't be about correcting irrationalities of the original material (which I'm guessing was Vaniver's approach?) but it doesn't need to just follow the show's "how to treat your friends" moral lessons either... It could introduce new readers to some really advanced LessWrong concepts. ...ooph, I don't know if I should share the ideas I have on this or not. Because I am thinking of writing rationalist MLP fanfiction, and if so I'd prefer there'd be some surprised delight from readers.... but if I don't end up having the time to write said fanfiction, it's better that I share them, lest they not be known at all. ...I suppose if I don't find the time in the next few months to write said fanfiction fully, I'll just share all the ideas I have on the topic in some thread here and encourage anyone else who wants them to pick them up and use them.
2Armok_GoB
My post wasn't supposed to be "how all rationalist fanfiction should be made", but rather "how I recommend Vaniver to go about it, given the evidence I have about his strengths and weaknesses as a writer". Guess I could have worded it better. I look greatly forward to reading your fic! In fact, since given the priors I have over LWers I guess I probably know more about MLP lore and fan conventions (remember all those things Eliezer said in MoR authors notes about the importance of fan conventions? You'd BETTER give Luna an abacus! ), I humbly offer myself up as a prereader even thou I probably suck at most editorial work given my zero experience. Also, once you're done, you REALLY should send it over to Equestria daily. Correcting for writing quality bronies might be an even better recruitment pool than the Harry Potter fandom, since even thou it's smaller it's closer to the LW demographic and I don't think HP has a centralized hub like Equestria Daily which means greater penetration can be reached by something good enough to get on there. In fact, it may be worth having more seasoned LWers, or even Eliezer himself really, look over it for quality.
3Document
Personally I've found a lot of the show's lessons to be overly one-sided and applause-lightish. Also, I like/dislike how the show dances around carnivory; I'd love to see HJPEV-Twilight (or whoever) react to Fluttershy explaining how she runs her meadow. There's also the world mechanics of raising the sun and why only the princesses are immortal and all that, and various smaller mysteries, but (1) lots of fic writers and theorists are probably exploring that, and (2) a lot of it is high-profile enough in the series that it stands a reasonable chance of being elaborated on there. The fact that the Potter books have concluded is one of the advantages to setting a rationalist/munchkin fic there.

There's also the world mechanics of raising the sun

(In my planned fanfic, "Friendship is Natural Philosophy," it turns out that heliocentrism is true, and Princess Celestia has just been pretending to raise the sun in order to maintain her grip on power.)

2Vaniver
Of course. The issues with rewriting them to be rationalist are twofold: first, they're primarily about friendship, where rationality is mostly silent on direct advice, and second, they're on features where one-sided advice is generally better than two-sided advice. Consider, for example, Twilight's nerdy scholarship. It's shown to be useful (it's a major source of her magical power and she'll often know things because of it) but have its limits (let's learn how to do a slumber party from a book!). Which, of course, is the sort of thing you'll find in any of lukeprog's articles on relationships here. Rationality's primary lesson is "learn from successful examples and build up experience" rather than "book smarts are sufficient to interact with other people in real-time." As an example of one-sided advice, take the lesson of Bridle Gossip: Obviously, appearances can provide useful information. The standard human bias, though, is to overweight appearance- and so advice to humans should generally be along the lines of "discount appearance" rather than "use appearance optimally," because the first is harder for humans to twist than the second. I personally dislike the "rationalist fic = munchkin fic" association, but suspect that is atypical of LW users.
2Armok_GoB
The lessons are supposed to be simple - it's a show for little girls after all - and any real wisdom to be found in the show lies elsewhere, mainly on a more meta level in the community rather than canon content, and even then isn't very Deep. There are many fan theories about carnivory, but most likely the show dancing around it is a consequence of pony society doing so. Given that she's quite the scholar she almost certainly already knows about it, although a city pony with no biology education or experience with animals might not. I don't think anypony would consider it all that big a deal thou or carnivores wouldn't be around or at least not common. Yea, it's been explored a lot. Generaly they are considered godlike.
1Document
"Applause lights" doesn't mean "simple" or even "wrong"; it's more like "things that sounds good regardless of rightness or wrongness in a particular context". Or at least that's how it makes sense to me to use it. Surely causal arrows point from creative decisions to show content, not the other way around. More to the point, not all ponies can dance around it; "animals (don't) take care of themselves", so if Fluttershy doesn't feed the snakes they don't eat. And she makes a regular census of at least the bunnies, meaning she might know exactly how many die when Rarity lets Opalescence out. I can think of plots that might mitigate that, but yeah, the built-in outsider perspective is another advantage of HP. They might see it as a lesser evil than "wiping out" whole species, or they might have the eventual goal of creating a self-sustaining ecosystem where predators would be necessary. But I think all three of those have potential. Unfortunately there's probably not much interest in writing what would come off as a vegan author tract, even with the difference that the animals would be be sapient.
-2Armok_GoB
This surprised me. The definition I'd have given for applause lights would have been "A statement so obviously the Right Thing that it provides no useful information". So I went back and checked the original article, and it turns out no definition was ever given, just a few examples, and those are compatible with both views and don't fit either perfectly. So I checked your karma in case it was just a noobish mistake by me, precommited to change my mind if you had a lot more than me, but it turns out you have even less. Thus I'd say you were wrong in correcting me. Also, the answer to your question is there anyway. ---------------------------------------- By dancing around it I meant the same way humans do with sex or the conditions in factory farms. ---------------------------------------- That doesn't sound like something ponies would do.

The definition I'd have given for applause lights would have been "A statement so obviously the Right Thing that it provides no useful information".

From Applause Lights: "I think it means that you have said the word "democracy", so the audience is supposed to cheer. It's not so much a propositional statement, as the equivalent of the "Applause" light that tells a studio audience when to clap."

I think that depending on what you mean by "The Right Thing" (whether you mean it mockingly or actually), you're right or wrong in your understanding of what applause lights means. But either way: the point of "applause lights" is that it's more of a signal for mutual self-congratulation than something with actual meaning/content.

e.g. "God bless the United States of America".

So I checked your karma in case it was just a noobish mistake by me, precommited to change my mind if you had a lot more than me, but it turns out you have even less. Thus I'd say you were wrong in correcting me.

Ugh. Seriously? You probably didn't mean this as bad as it sounded, but it effectively looks as you're saying he was wrong in correcting you not because he was actually wrong, but because he shouldn't correct people with higher status (as marked by karma points).

That's a really really bad attitude to have.

9Armok_GoB
I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to call it mocking, but I certainly meant it in a way not very correlated with actually being correct or moral. ---------------------------------------- I use total karma as evidence about how likely someone is to be correct about LW conventions, since in order to get very high karma you have to have been here for a long time and have written a lot and thus getting misunderstandings sorted out by being corrected. I also use it as weaker evidence at being correct in general about anything, since I believe LW consensus to be correlated with that. I put LW karma in roughly the same class of evidence as market prices, something which can sometimes say quite silly things but on other occasions be more trustworthy than your own brain. I could actually feel through introspection I weren't able to consider the issue without bias so I just let that decide.
5Document
Ironically I considered noting that comment in my reply and saying something like "Respect for recognizing noisy evidence as evidence.".
2Armok_GoB
Thanks, I am flatered! ^_^
5JoshuaZ
I suspect that he meant something like "Applause Lights" is an LW specific term. Therefore, to a very rough approximation, karma levels may be a rough way of estimating who understands how the term is used around here since karma roughly approximates how much time someone has spent here. That seems like an extremely weak argument, and I agree that the way it was phrased sounded pretty bad. I don't think my interpretation is that much better.
1Armok_GoB
That was a factor in considering karma stronger evidence in this case than I usually do, yes.
5thomblake
Then allow me to step in as one of the foremost experts on the writings of Eliezer (self-proclaimed). All that applause lights 'mean' is "you should clap now". From the wiki: (Beware - this example is mind-killing) Thus, you say "democracy" to get people to nod their head and agree with you. This is not because "democracy" means anything obviously right; also, the label gets applied inconsistently in both directions. The entire purpose of calling something "democracy" in those contexts is to mark it as "approved".
5Document
I was correcting your interpretation of my use of the phrase, not your use of it. (On further thought I could reword it "words whose practical meaning is 'applaud this statement'"; that might cover both.) Not sure which you mean, but I know there's contradictory evidence to what I cited. I don't think I want to talk about the "reality" of the show, though, just possible fanfic interpretations. My belief about the show is that it'll continue to dance around the subject, and that the occasional slips will continue to contradict each other.
1Armok_GoB
I find discussing "possible" interpretations to be rather pointless because basically anything is possible. There are usually 3 interpretations worth going into any depth of; the one intended by the original author, the one that has become fanon and most fans are in consensus about, and the one that would be most likely if the cannon material was interpreted as true observations about the universe.
3Armok_GoB
Ok, since interest in rationalist MLP is starting to blossom again, my thoughts are straying back to my The Elements of Rationality project that was discontinued some time ago as I realized how much the stuff I had done sucked, and by now I have much better knowledge and tools such that it is more likely to result in somehting slightly less embarasing. One such tool is this: http://generalzoi.deviantart.com/art/Pony-Creator-Full-Version-254295904 So, input the pony/accessory/pose code under the body/accessorize/pose>advanced tab in the pony creator to see it. Oh, and the cutie marks don't work in the string export for obvious reasons, so for those you'll have to wait until I upload images, if I ever do. ---------------------------------------- NAME: Riddle Heart ELEMENT: Curiosity CUTIE MARK: Q-over-o ( see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question_mark#History ) PONYCODE: 2S2S000010FEC7EFFFC49D0040100E1FEUQ1G32000000002F08AFE8AFF7FFF0N107F3FCC004CB2 POSE CODE: 000277065045288030070005000023001023006330312047 NAME: Dance ELEMENT: Precision CUTIE MARK: Bullseye PONYCODE: 2S2S006000F2D199FFC49D00001AA7C49UP1837408000002P13D3112E8CBA505107F3FCC004CB2 (Ugh, this one sucks, didn't find any good mane OR eye settings.) NAME: Cirrus ELEMENT: Lightness CUTIE MARK: aspen leaf PONYCODE: 2S2S00002075CDFEFFC49D00D0100BB96UN1837000000002F07AFE95FF7FFF11107F3FCC004CB2 POSE CODE: 000000000061315295095355319000000326314331323056 NAME: Bacon ELEMENT: Empiricism CUTIE MARK: DNA strand PONYCODE: 2D1Z002100E21919FFC49D0090000BB96UN183700C20000301E5E5E5F7F7F729107F3FCC004CB2 ACCESSORY CODE: 066CC6623A2C37066CC66066CC66066CC6604E8FBAFFFF8C066CC66066CC66066CC66066CC66 FAVOURITE SHOW: Mythbusters NAME: Cold Fire ELEMENT: Relinquishment CUTIE MARK: Ying-Yang PONYCODE: 382V0A00008AFEC2FFC49D009009B7441UN1837203210000V077512CFF7FFF0C107F3FCC004CB2 POSE CODE: 000354018004352005122002358312011335301338008349 5/12 PONIES CREATED!
0ArisKatsaris
Woah, thanks for linking that tool, I'm gonna be playing with it like mad! :-)
-2Normal_Anomaly
Oh, this is awesome. Here's what I've got so far from playing around with it: Pony Code: 332S0P01003D42D19EFEE40200000D5FEUP173700002000001000000FE000000107F3FCC004CB2 Accessory Code: 066CC6606677CCFCC0000066CC66100000004E8FBAFFFF8C066CC66066CC66066CC66066CC66 Pose Code: 000247046080267056037000000324000000314043014331
-2Armok_GoB
Downvoted for extreme irrelevance. Sorry, I can't find any possible excuse for posting this here without explanation.
5pedanterrific
Can't tell if serious.
-3Armok_GoB
Because I also posted pony codes? Those were part of a somewhat serious art project based on the twelve virtues of rationality. Normal Anomalys post on the other have is basically indistinguishable from random playing around.
3JoshuaZ
Well, so many of the omake are already pretty anvilicious. But yes, it could be more directly relevant to the show certainly.
1PhilGoetz
Ponies? What are you talking about?
4JoshuaZ
Eliezer added a new omake to chapter 64 which involves a rationalist version of My Little Pony.

It's been awhile since the last update, so here's a scene from the HPMOR in my head.

Hermione offers Harry a Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Bean, warning him that when they say "every flavour" they mean every flavour. The first one that Harry eats is booger-flavoured, and he gets frustrated about the foolish candy-makers, complaining that of all the flavours that he could've gotten, his first bean tasted like boogers. Hermione reminds him that it says "every flavour", so he shouldn't be surprised if it ended up tasting like something nasty. Harry has Hermione list flavours of Bertie Bott's beans that she has eaten, and then goes on a rant:

Out of all possible flavours, every single flavour that Hermione has mentioned is recognizable as something regularly found on or in the human body, and the majority are types of food. Harry tries to explain the concept of flavourspace - the entire set of all possible flavours - and what a skewed understanding of flavourspace wizards must have if "every flavour" beans only draw from the tiny proportion of flavourspace which they already regularly taste. So, yes, he should be surprised that the first bean he ate, which could have taken on any flavour in the vast universe of flavourspace, tasted like something that normally grows just inches from one's taste buds.

Which MY head continues: The nature of magic turned out to be sensitive to that kind of notion, and the flavours not predetermined, so the very next one tastes like dementor or strangelet.

4Joshua Hobbes
If you tried to lick a dementor would you tongue be stuck to it?
3Armok_GoB
no, it'd be stuck in it. And then necrosis happens.

Chapter 14:

Otherwise we shall see you again three months later and you will be two years older and dressed in a loincloth and covered in snow and that's if you stay inside the castle.

If this sort of time-stretching effect could be controlled, it would be incredibly useful. One could research and prepare at leisure for an imminent attack, at a much better speedup than the mere 25% offered by Time-Turners. If it can go the other way as well, Salazar Slytherin might very well still be alive somewhere in Hogwarts.

The problem with encouraging LessWrongians to read your fanfic is that they spot the logical flaws in and/or ways to manipulate everything you describe. It's why I love this website.

4drethelin
we he could easily still be alive anyway, because it's known that philosopher's stones exist and who knows who is using one apart from flamel? As far as this go, I would guess it's more of a joke on harry than anything significant.
9Desrtopa
I would guess Flamel knows. He's the inventor, and considering that he's stated with confidence that Voldemort couldn't make one himself, and would need to go after the preexisting one, then there must be some really exceptional barriers to anyone else making them. Otherwise Voldemort could simply have imperiused or tortured anyone who could make one in order to get one for himself. If there were any feasible way to gain control of a philosopher's stone without having to get one's hands on the Philosopher's Stone, it would completely break the story.

Yes, but... just for the sake of argument...

Flamel is an inventor. And when assigning confidence in statements he makes about Philosopher's Stones, you need to bear in mind that he's the only inventor dumb enough to get caught. Anyone who independently invented it before him (or after) managed to keep it secret, that's all.

Or maybe there's more than one way to create a Philosopher's Stone and Flamel discovered the most difficult, so now he has an inflated idea of how hard it would be for someone else to duplicate his feat.

Or possibly Flamel is the Dread Pirate Roberts and there's no such thing as a Philosopher's Stone at all.

I'm not sure which explanation I like more, actually.

1Desrtopa
The Philosopher's Stone would be phenomenally useful to Quirrelmort, and if it weren't really hard to get, he would presumably already have one. After all, if there's anyone with an incentive to find the easiest way to get their hands on one, it's him. As for the Philosopher's Stone not being real, I doubt Dumbledore would have gone to such lengths to guard it if he weren't convinced it was, and I doubt tricking him into buying into a fake would be easy.
8pedanterrific
As to the second: the whole point of having it at Hogwarts to begin with was as bait for a trap, right? If everyone believes it's real, it serves just as well for that purpose as if it actually were real. Even if Dumbledore knew it was a fake, he would still have every reason to guard it to the best of his ability. As to the first... what makes you think he hasn't?
3Desrtopa
Well, if HPMoR is consistent with canon, it would circumvent the need for him to conduct the ritual to get his old body back at all. Dumbledore also suggested it as an alternative route that Voldemort could take to return to power. And the point of having it at Hogwarts wasn't just as bait for a trap; Voldemort and his minions, even in the original canon, were capable of stealing from even the more secure vaults at Gringotts. In HPMoR, it could just be a trap, but if it's so obvious as to not serve that purpose, and there's nothing to protect, then what's the point?
8pedanterrific
(Just to save everyone some time, here are the relevant quotes.) HPMoR Chapter 61, Dumbledore to McGonagall and Snape: Dumbledore, at least, thinks the obviousness of the trap won't preclude its success. HPMoR Chapter 76, Quirrell to Snape: That second bit is particularly interesting. It seems to suggest that Flamel would have been capable of protecting the Stone himself just as well as it's being protected now, in which case why have it at Gringotts in the first place? The question in my mind is: how could Voldemort know if the Stone in Hogwarts is fake or not? I mean, the situation seems to be that Dumbledore went to visit his old teacher Nicholas and came back with a "Philosopher's Stone" in a small leather bag, which he deposited at Gringotts, and later took to Hogwarts. If you assume he actually is trying to protect the Stone, it would pretty much have to be a fake, wouldn't it? (It'd be pretty funny if the real one was teleported into the Marianas Trench or something.) And I think it's something of a mistake to assume the only reason for breaking Bellatrix out of Azkaban is the resurrection ritual. Suppose that he does already have the Stone - maybe he replaced it with a fake months ago, maybe he invented it on his own, whatever - wouldn't it still be useful to him to retrieve his most powerful and loyal servant?
0Desrtopa
Bellatrix isn't remotely his most powerful servant anymore after her stay in Azkaban, and he could probably do to someone else what he did to her in the first place. Plus, in canon, once he returned to his former power, he was able to break everyone out of Azkaban. It might not be a great idea to sacrifice the element of surprise by doing so, but still, if he already had a route to power even greater than he possessed before, I don't see why he'd stall on using it.
3thomblake
Interesting. I hadn't even considered the possibility that the story about brainwashing Bellatrix might actually be true.
2pedanterrific
I would be rather surprised if, after all the characterization and buildup we've been given so far, MoR!Voldemort turned out to be capable of this as well. As a suggestion: he may have decided that his goals are better served by remaining in his current guise (which he presumably could not do if he regained his body) than by sheer magical power, at least for now.
1Fergus_Mackinnon
Personally I'm assuming that Quirrelmort rescued Bellatrix to influence Harry. He now has first-hand evidence that Harry was engaged in a major crime, has shown Harry a part of the Wizarding world which he could never accept which was enabled by democracy, has shown Harry that Dumbledore isn't as proactive as Harry would want him to be, almost convinced Harry that a revolution is necessary, convinced Harry to lie to protect him, and has made Harry feel sorry for Bellatrix. Generating a 'false alarm' of Voldemort's return is a nice side effect as well if he doesn't plan on acting immediately, Dumbledore may well have just expended significant political capital too early. If he was planning on going through with the ritual, then he had Harry right there with him. (Although he could have just taken some blood while Harry was asleep, of course.) The only motivation I can see for him to retrieve her otherwise is that he couldn't remember what happened at Godric's Hollow or to the Longbottoms, so he wanted to retrieve Bellatrix to find out, he regretted what he did to her (seems unlikely), or he's not Quirrelmort, and is really just a powerful but neutral wizard who wants to try and retrieve some of Slytherin's magics.
2Desrtopa
The most obvious motivation given what we know about Quirrelmort and what he needs to regain his old power is that he retrieved her for use in the spell that will restore his body. For his motive to be anything else would constitute a twist.
5Rubix
The fic often takes 'joke' aspects of magic and explores their less harmless uses. It leads the reader to be unwilling to take any reference as simply a joke - this as opposed to the original text, where the fact that it was meant to be a children's book led to a lot of bite-sized humorous references with enormous, unexplored potential.
3TobyBartels
Yes, but that's jokes by the narrator (or by the world), not jokes by the characters.
[-]Eneasz160

Real World Effects of SPHEW

Raemon has written at moderate length about feminist issues in HPMoR. In fact, this post is credited by Eliezer as

High probability this comment had something to do with the surprise creation of SPHEW.

I don't wish to speculate about these issues because I don't feel I have the depth of knowledge needed to contribute meaningfully. However I do have a real life effect of SPHEW to report.

I produce the Methods of Rationality Podcast. For the most part it's a solo project, but after receiving a few requests I've gotten comfortable enough with it that I've decided to integrate other voices as long as it doesn't require much additional work from me. Meaning - just send me the audio file of you reading the lines and I'll incorporate it if I can. I didn't really expect much response from this approach, and for the most part I didn't get one. Seems no one is really interested in doing Gregory Goyle's lines. :)

With a notable exception. The girls of SPHEW. I received a complete reading of all of Daphne's lines before I even announced I was willing to take other voices. It was one of the primary motivators for overturning my previous policy and saying I would acce... (read more)

While I was reading Harry Potter, I kept thinking that the House system was destructive, both in terms of making people impose restrictions on themselves, and creating deep divisions in the wizarding world. Hogwarts is in this sense the primary cause of both the previous and the coming wizard war.

In Eliezer's fiction, it's more apparent that the Hogwarts house system is a mindless, destructive mechanism set in motion hundreds of years ago that no one person can change or escape. Even Dumbledore couldn't abolish the house system; the political pressure would pop him out of Hogwarts like a cork from a champagne bottle.

I don't understand why Dumbledore can't maintain order among the students and protect them from each other, though... it seems to be within the powers of the Hogwarts faculty, if they set their minds to it.

Dumbledore and McGonagall's weaknesses are more apparent in Eliezer's fiction. Which would score realism points with me, except that the deconstruction of the perfect Dumbledore is balanced by the imagination of a perfect Harry.

Dumbledore and McGonagall's weaknesses are more apparent in Eliezer's fiction. Which would score realism points with me, except that the deconstruction of the perfect Dumbledore is balanced by the imagination of a perfect Harry.

Harry is far from perfect. He has his own glaring weaknesses. He's excessively clever (sometimes at the expense of wise or rational), his ego clouds his decisions, he is paranoid, incapable of relating to humans normally and shows disconcerting tendencies towards codependency.

While I was reading Harry Potter, I kept thinking that the House system was destructive, both in terms of making people impose restrictions on themselves, and creating deep divisions in the wizarding world.

It's based to the actual House system used in British boarding schools.

3Oscar_Cunningham
Yeah, but they don't determine your house by your personality or beliefs about blood purity.
1PhilGoetz
How about the different colleges in British universities? Do the members of Balliol hate the members of Merton?
5Sarokrae
Well, these days college intake is fairly mixed up among different personalities and backgrounds. Taking Cambridge, most people jokingly hates St John's and think Homerton are less intelligent. The rivalries probably stemmed from some historical background though. But really, just grouping people randomly is enough for some hostility. We only don't actually hate each other because we have to work together sometimes.

Dumbledore needs to say that Hogwarts has run out of water, and make the houses cooperate to get a new water supply.

2gwern
Slytherin would defect and free-ride, alas, tiding itself over with _Aguamenti_s.
3gjm
In my ~10 years at the university, I don't recall ever meeting anyone who joked about hating St John's. And for most of that time I was at Trinity, where you might think John's-hatred (jocular or otherwise) would be strongest. Until rather recently, Homerton didn't take students in any subject other than Education. Whether that actually meant its students were less intelligent than those of other colleges, I don't know, but it's not an entirely crazy idea. (I think Homerton's subject balance is still quite different from those of the other colleges.) [EDITED to add: For the avoidance of doubt, I don't mean that people reading education are particularly unintelligent-by-Cambridge-standards. Only that (1) intelligence surely does vary somewhat by subject, and (2) some subjects have the reputation of requiring particularly high intelligence and education isn't one of them. So if there's a stereotype of Homerton students being less intelligent, it probably has causes less crazy, though not necessarily more correct, than mere historical rivalries.]
0Oscar_Cunningham
I've done one year at Trinity as an undergraduate, and I've already heard many anti-St Johns references.
0Jadagul
I was a grad student at Churchill, and we mostly ignored such things, but my girlfriend was an undergrad and felt compelled to educate me. I recall Johns being the rich kids, Peterhouse was the gay men (not sure if that's for an actual reason or just the obvious pun), and a couple others that I can't remember off the top of my head.
0Sarokrae
I thought Homerton was the obvious gay pun? And one thing that IS reasonably accurate: New Hall is a female version of Hufflepuff. It is most of the time filled up by the "leftovers" (pooled there)...
0rebellionkid
A lot of the "hate" between colleges is perpetuated in the same way as most Cambridge traditions. Freshers read on wikipedia what Cambridge traditions are and then emulate them. There is belief in belief that people from St Johns are horrible but not much more.
4Eugine_Nier
Well, these traditions somehow propagated before the internet.
7TobyBartels
In 1993, when I matriculated at Caltech (whose House system Wikipedia claims is based on Cambridge's college system), we got a handbook (the little t) with all of the traditions in it.
1Sarokrae
That's pretty much the way Hogwarts works, right?
8TuviaDulin
MoR Harry did seem like a Marty Stu in the early chapters, but the further I read, the less I thought so. For one thing, his intelligence is balanced out by egotism, insensitivity, and inability to think in the longterm. For another, most of his really impressive feats of intellect and willpower are actually owed to Voldemort's horcrux (his "dark side"), which means Harry doesn't get full credit for them. I think MoR Harry is far from perfect. You're totally right about the house system, though. That's why I really love the subplot about Quirrel's armies; it breaks up the house system and lets all the students interact more. I'm so glad we got to know the Slytherin girls...

MoR Harry did seem like a Marty Stu in the early chapters, but the further I read, the less I thought so. For one thing, his intelligence is balanced out by egotism, insensitivity, and inability to think in the longterm. For another, most of his really impressive feats of intellect and willpower are actually owed to Voldemort's horcrux (his "dark side"), which means Harry doesn't get full credit for them. I think MoR Harry is far from perfect.

Wait... you don't attribute dark side Harry to Harry? Damn. They're the main parts I empathize with!

4PhilGoetz
BTW, we're told in canon there are other schools for wizards and witches, but everyone famous seems to have gone to Hogwarts. Why? There isn't even an entrance exam, and most of the teachers are incompetent; so it can't be either their selectiveness or the quality of their education. How can we estimate the number of witches and wizards in the world from canon? And, also, the number of students at Hogwarts?
6Oscar_Cunningham
J. K. Rowling was never too bothered with the numbers (by her own admission). In particular the total number of students in Hogwarts is portrayed as much greater than the number of students per year multiplied by seven, and the wizarding world is absurdly small but still far too large to account for the fact that there appears to be only one school in Britain.
1ArisKatsaris
The sadder thing is that Eliezer doesn't seem particularly bothered with numbers either. The "armies" each of the generals have are mentioned to have 24 soldiers each. 24x3=72 students in the first year. This would only make sense if the size of the classes in MoR were about twice as big as in canon. But MoR has never mentioned a single non-canonical first-year student, as far as I can remember, which would imply the opposite, that the sizes of the classes must be about as big as in canon (namely about 40 students in the first year, all houses combined). EDIT TO ADD: above comment now retracted as factually false, see comments below.

The sadder thing is that Eliezer doesn't seem particularly bothered with numbers either.

I beg your pardon. Check Ch. 30 and you should see some non-canonical first-year student cameos in Draco's army. For, may I mention, exactly that reason - I was explicitly familiar with the dilemma of the discordant Rowling statements and decided to resolve in favor of Hogwarts having around a thousand students, so that having around half the students sign up for the armies would give you 72 first-year soldiers.

0ArisKatsaris
Ah, nice. I also see some names like "Melvin Coote of Gryffindor" and "Allen Flint" of Slytherin, in the Chaos army. Apologies for the mistake.
5Atelos
Most of the teachers? Binns and Trelawney certainly, Snape, but arguably he's more unprofessional and unpleasant than incompetent. Often the defense professor is incompetent, I suppose. Canon!Harry had Lupin, Snape and fake Moody for competent defense professors and Quirrel, Lockhart and Umbridge for incompetent ones. We have no reason to doubt the teaching ability of Mcgonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Sinistra, Vector or Babbling. Burbage's Muggle studies course is often a subject of ridicule in fanfiction, but that might be a result of the (inter?)-national curriculum rather than her individual competence, and so would be no better at other schools. Hagrid's Care of Magical Creature's lessons were of very uneven quality, but he could teach well when he had his head together. As to the preeminence of Hogwarts, perhaps its as simple as Hogwarts being the only British school with a comprehensive curriculum, the others focusing on particular areas of magic and functioning more or less as magical trade schools. We don't technically know that there's no entrance exam for the common witch or wizard, we just know Harry didn't have to take one, he could have been admitted as a legacy student or simply because he's the boy-who-lived. Or the barrier could be financial.

In the previous thread there was some discussion on Ch 76's obliviation powered dictionary attack on Hermione. Most of that discussion seems to have assumed that what we saw between Hat And Cloak (HAC) and Hermione was simple to understand and relatively unskilllful... with Hermione's "tootsie pop" response being inane and HAC's probing appearing ham-handedly ignorant.

My impression was that we didn't see the first or second cycle of relatively normal behavior for either character, but more like the 7th cycle (12 minutes per cycle for 90 minutes?), where HAC was doing something radically different each time to probe Hermione's knowledge, feelings, etc in different ways, probably using legilimency. She was exhausted, like someone "in the box" with the police, except more stressful due to not even knowing she's in the box. And the questions don't have to be subtle, they just have to make her think of useful things while her eyes are visible. I don't think she was the ultimate target either, but rather she is the closest non-occlumens to Harry other than possibly Draco, so mind raping her to learn about Harry is "safer" even if it demonstrates horrifyi... (read more)

I would guess that Hat-and-Cloak probably wasn't using leglimency, or it wouldn't have needed Hermione to say that she found the mysterious getup suspicious.

I'm not sure how it worked in canon (and would expect semi-random behavior given Rowling's tendency to fudge world building details that a more mechanistic thinker might nail down) but in MoR it appears that legilimency allows the reader to perceive the "conscious surface thoughts" of the readee, plus the feeling of active reading (used by an occlumens to race ahead and put fake conscious surface thoughts in the way), plus the traces of past reading.

When Albus read Harry early in the story to look for traces he asked Harry what Harry had recently eaten so as to prevent himself from reading anything private in Harry's mind. If words can be used to redirect attention to banal issues so that it is impossible for even Albus to see more deeply, it stands to reason (to me anyway) that visibility is relatively shallow and that words could also be used to redirect attention towards the sensitive issues. So, HAC using legilimency probably couldn't get a verbal reason for lack of trust without a probe to raise "trust of HAC" in Hermione's mind, but once raised he would have been able to tell if she lied or detect any reasons that jumped into her mind that she didn't say... (read more)

Even assuming those are the limits of leglimency, I think that "this guy seems really suspicious" would be pretty near the surface of Hermione's thoughts without any additional prompting.

the occlumency trainer harry hires is able to read deeply within harry's mind without a lot of trouble. I think thoughts are probably easier or harder to read based on how surface they are. Dumbledore made them think of something else so he wouldn't accidentally read anything private because of how EASY it is to read surface memories, not because thinking of something else prevents being read entirely.

[-]moritz100

There seem to be two forms of leglimency, one that requires an explicit spell and a wand, and can be performed by most wizards. That's what Mr. Best in MoR uses, and what canon!Snape uses while trying to each Harry Occlumency. The victim knows what's going on, but usually can't do anything against it.

The second one is the form that Dumbledore (and canon!Voldemort), which just requires looking into the eyes of the victim, and lots of training. This is the "stealth mode", and most victims don't notice the intrusion at all.

It was always my intuitive understanding that the first form allows you to dig deep into one's memory, wheres the second form only shows you what the victim is thinking right now.

Does that make any sense?

5Nornagest
If I remember right, a moderately big deal is made of wandless magic in the last couple books of the canon. I don't think it's come up in MoR yet, but it seems simpler to suppose that Dumbledore and canon!Voldemort are performing a wandless version of Snape's Legilimency than to assume a more fundamental difference between the types.
3gwern
It could just be a power difference. If wandless magic came with no penalties attached, you'd have to be mad to continue to use wands if you can manage wandless magic like Dumbledore can. It strictly dominates wands - you can't be disarmed nearly as easily. (And when we see wizarding children 'naturally' use wandless magic, isn't it weaker than what they can manage with wands?) A big enough difference of degree can look like a difference of kind.
5wedrifid
Except when you're fighting trolls and need a Nasal Magic Delivery Device.
3pedanterrific
Or when you don't know any spells but your opponent has perfectly good eye sockets. (Or when your wand is made of elder.)
3pedanterrific
Two things, one: being more difficult to disarm isn't really as much of an advantage as it might seem. Remember, we have some idea of how magical combat works in MoR, and it seems to revolve around layers of active and passive defenses - during Bahry One-Hand, veteran Auror, v. Polyjuiced!Quirrel, the description went If telekinesis-type spells (Accio, Expelliarmus, Wingardium Leviosa) are relatively easy to shield against, fights would tend to end by incapacitation rather than disarming whether you had a wand or not. And two: interestingly, 'accidental magic' (used by wizarding children before they get their wands, generally in times of high emotion) is actually somewhat more impressive than what just-got-their-wands first years can do. Example: before he went to Hogwarts, canon!Harry once managed to get from standing on the ground to standing on the roof of his school without quite being aware of how he did it - the text seems to imply some kind of teleportation / Apparation, but it could have been self-levitation - either way, much more impressive than anything he could do for a while afterwards.
5gwern
So? This is like someone saying, after scraping a violin for a few minutes, 'pfft, I can whistle more musically than this darn thing'. It's a tool, and like all tools, takes time to master, but when it does, you're much better than without the tool. (Think about how long it takes to learn a computer, and what one can do with it.)
[-]rdb140

Chapter 24: Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis: Act 2 ... The line of reasoning continued: Atlantis had been an isolated civilization that had somehow brought into being the Source of Magic, and told it to serve only people with the Atlantean genetic marker, the blood of Atlantis.

And by similar logic: The words a wizard spoke, the wand movements, those weren't complicated enough of themselves to build up the spell effects from scratch - not the way that the three billion base pairs of human DNA actually were complicated enough to build a human body from scratch, not the way that computer programs took up thousands of bytes of data.

So the words and wand movements were just triggers, levers pulled on some hidden and more complex machine. Buttons, not blueprints.

And just like a computer program wouldn't compile if you made a single spelling error, the Source of Magic wouldn't respond to you unless you cast your spells in exactly the right way.

The chain of logic was inexorable.

Under that hypothesis, accidental magic by wizarding children — otherwise without appreciable magic power, could be a Source of Magic initiated emergency "Help" spell.

3NancyLebovitz
I've been thinking about magical training that doesn't look like conventional schooling, and training accidental magic would be an interesting place to start. Would it be like learning jazz? Improv? A soft martial art?
2Xachariah
Harry (in cannon) performs accidental magic during times of high emotion and when he's not able to cast spells (ie, before he has his wand or summer vacations). This is also true with Ariana Dumbledore, Snape, and Neville in each other occurrence of accidental magic in the series. In HP:MoR, wizards use the mana/muscle system for magic. It seems likely that magic can 'build up' if unused and release in an explosive (sometimes literally) fashion in the form of accidental magic. Furthermore, since nobody seems to intentionally use it, it must have a drawback; extreme draining of magic disproportionate to the effects seems like a logical effect. Interestingly, both Tom Riddle and Lily Evans were able to consciously control 'accidental' magic as children. They both ended up the greatest spellcasters of their year. This would further reinforce the hypothesis that it extremely drains your 'magic' muscle, given that working out one's magic has been established to make one a stronger spellcaster.
1gwern
Lack of control seems like the biggest issue. 'Oops, I nearly killed someone' (Ariana), 'Oops, I didn't mean to make that glass disappear' (Harry), etc.
4Sheaman3773
Rather than two forms of legilimency, I thought it was a matter of the caster's facility with the spell. In other words, it was my understanding that amateur Legilimens had to use their wand and the incantation in addition to eye contact, and with practice they could do away with the wand and word. That branch of magic is easily made wandless, perhaps.
2JenniferRM
That bit was textually sparse but my reading there was that in the fourth lesson where he pulled many secrets he was reading Harry's memories of having been read over a longer period and it raising issues and them talking out an acceptable resolution so that the teacher would keep teaching. Presumably Harry could bring the whole conceptual network up "above his surface" right off the bat just to get it out of the way on purpose, which seems to be implied by this line:
3JoshuaZ
I didn't interpret it that way. Rather, I interpreted it that Dumbledore didn't want to incidentally get data about any other thoughts, he just wanted to look for signs of prior tampering. In that limited context, he didn't want Harry to think about anything that wasn't Dumbledore's business. A skilled legilimens if they are trying might be able to still get more out of that situation.
8JenniferRM
But Quirrell was also there, and presumptively allied with Lucius and against Albus. If Albus read Harry in front of Quirrell without doing something to prevent invasive reading being possible in principle then it would have given Quirrell much more ammunition to use in a complicated way. They actually did quibble over the matter, and the fact of the quibble (rather than a bigger deal) directly implies that both Quirrell and Albus had precise models of what was possible with legilimency under those conditions, and knew each knew, and knew what could be safely done and safely accused, and didn't bother to argue about bigger issues, where they mutually understood, and understood that each understood, and understood that Harry could verify, that the distraction had been sufficient to make it impossible for Albus to have engaged in profound impropriety.
7Desrtopa
Or that Quirrell had a precise enough model of Dumbledore that he knew he could only hurt his standing with Harry by accusing Dumbledore of things that Harry could easily learn were out of character enough to be improbable. If he starts accusing Dumbledore of things he doesn't himself believe that Dumbledore would do, he could end up being discredited and then looking paranoid rather than wise and experienced. Dumbledore's remark that "That was all I looked for" doesn't sound like something he would say if, while reading Harry, he couldn't have looked at anything else if he wanted.

I wonder whether the Tootsie Pop reference was a Leaning on the Fourth Wall hint to the readers or if we're meant to take that as Hermione subconsciously remembering what was going on? ("One hundred and eighty-seven. I tried it once." is kind of chilling, in that context.)

Or it could've been just a meaningless flippant remark, that too.

And 12 minutes per cycle? For the script given in the chapter, I'd peg it at more like 2 to 4.

Edit: Actually, I just though of a way to get an upper bound - the amount of adrenaline the human body can produce in 2-4 minutes is probably pretty sharply limited, right? Mr H&C presumably had to startle Hermione at the end of every cycle, so the physiological reaction would match up to the initial surprise and smooth over any discrepancies. I find it hard to imagine that "a rush of shock and fear hit her like a Stunning Hex over her whole body" more than five or so times without just leaving her burned out completely. (Not that she didn't seem pretty burned out by the end.)

And she can't be dead. For she is the bearer of a most marvelous destiny-

Actually I looked up in Wikipedia how many licks it takes to get the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop, and picked a number that seemed commensurate with the human-licker experiments.

The Chilling Implications you point out (how many licks does it take to get to the center of Hermione?) were totally lost on my consciousness until now. I wonder if that subconscious imagery had anything to do with why my brain produced that response from Hermione?

But still, probably not 187.

how many licks does it take to get to the center of Hermione?

I'm sure there are other authors on fanfiction.net who could answer this for us.

9lessdazed
It's 34. The rule there is that the answer is always 34.
4Hyphen-ated
"187" is a slang term for murder, which comes from the California penal code. Is this a coincidence?
7Xachariah
I think you're misreading the situation. From Hermoine's point of view, it seems like she's suddenly getting flooded with adrenaline. The truth is that she's had the same level of adrenaline in her body and is just being made aware of it. It's similar to how walking four miles then getting obliviated an hour back would feel like you've just gotten teleported and been hit with a jelly legs jinx.
4pedanterrific
The exact phrasing at the end of the cycle that happened onscreen was: My interpretation, and maybe I am reading too much into it, is that it was necessary to give her a shock right before the Obliviation, because otherwise the physiological experience would be going from 'walking calmly down the hallway' to 'walking tiredly down the hallway,' which wouldn't jive with convincing herself she just reacted very quickly (her wand leaped into her hand). Also, why else would you reveal your true face to someone just before you Obliviate them and show them a different, equally false appearance? Eliciting the reaction seems to be the obvious motive, and helps get around a weakness of Obliviation - that it only affects the neurological, not the rest of the body (hence Harry's signaling method of biting his lip).
8Xachariah
I assumed that revealing your true face to the person would not ever be remember, so it wouldn't matter what you did. There's no reason to bother going into another room or even turning around (and risking them trying to run/hex you) to swap faces if you're just going to obliviate them anyways. It's just a result of being weary with the whole process. These are only dry runs at cracking her password. You practice a dozen times until you succeed, obliviate her and let her settle down, obliviate her so she doesn't remember the settling down time, then do the successful attempt. The "most glorious destiny" attempt won't be what she remembers, but rather a seamless polished version after Mr HAC has confirmed it will work. The final, final version will have her never even suspecting anything suspicious or having discontinuities like spinning around and wands leaping to her hands. Heck, it need not even occur at the same time, but rather a day later so she doesn't get suspicious of lost time. Or at least, that's what I would in the same position.

Missed opportunity:

"I've been sent to help you, so please don't be afraid. I am your servant in all things; for you, my Lady, are the last magical descendant of Merlin-"

"That's ridiculous."

(fleeting disorientation)

"For you, my Lady, are the last magical descendant of Ravenclaw-"

"I don't believe you."

(fleeting disorientation)

"For you, my Lady, are the bearer of a most marvelous destiny-"

Edit: (Personally, I prefer " - she felt a momentary sense of disorientation - "; it seems a little more subtle, but I guess that's not the effect he's going for.)

It is more subtle and I do prefer it. The problem is that a substantial fraction of reviewers are still saying they've got no idea what's happening during the ellipses, and I care about that.

Your version is a little too unsubtle, but the fact that people were buying the "last descendant of Merlin thing" had me wondering what it would've taken to actually trigger their skepticism.

"For you, my Lady, are the last descendant of Cthulhu -"

"For you alone must stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness -"

"Only you can prevent forest fires -"

No, I get why you changed it, and I certainly wasn't offering that as any kind of serious suggestion, but... well, maybe it's elitist of me, but frankly I don't understand what benefit there is to catering to the lowest common denominator of ffnet readers. I mean, the lowest common denominator of ffnet readers is pretty low. (Boy-Who-Lived Gets Draco Malfoy Pregnant! sorry i suk at sumries lol, dont liek dont read)

On another note:

"For you, my Princess, are of the blood of the dragons -"

"You have the ability to overcome great fear -"

"By your powers combined, I am -"

"Yer a wizard, Hermione -"

6shokwave
Raising the sanity waterline and all that.
3orielwen
I agree. It was so obvious to me that Hermione was being Obliviated that when I read the instruction at the start of the next chapter I went back to see what I could be missing. It didn't occur to me that peope might not be getting it. And that was when it had ellipses.
7JoshuaZ
I'm one of the people who was confused by the Merlin thing and said as such in my review that I wasn't sure if it was lying or not. In that version, the Obliviation was a lot less obvious. My initial reading was that the entity in question was trying to appear (probably untruthfully) to have been testing Hermione previously and was now ready to reveal itself in its true, nice form. It even occurred to me that it might even have been its actual form with it finally happy that it could appear as a nice being rather than as some terrible mystery. I was in particular thinking of the part in the Chronicles of Prydain where the companions are shocked to find out that the nasty looking hags true form might actually be beautiful young women. In that text they call it out explicitly. Still, the switch to the repeated ... made it really clear what was going on in a really blunt, squicktastic fashion. I have to agree with pedanterrific that you may want to be careful not to play to the lowest common denominator of ff.
4JoshuaZ
I would really like if it included this. If you did go with pedanterrific's suggestion this might also help reduce the squicktastic aspect of the repeated memory erasure. Actually, the juxtaposition might make it more squick; I'm not sure.

(In hindsight, Giles felt it was a little embarrassing, how obvious the solution was.

After all, what teenage girl doesn't want to feel special?)

Euurghh the more I think about this the worse it gets

0[anonymous]
Oh! Ives! I love Ives. I spent a whole winter reading him once. I was so excited after ten pages that I went out and bought everything else he wrote. (Bell rings.)
9[anonymous]
"You win" seems appropriate.

I think so. Eliezer needs to revise his chapter again.

2jaimeastorga2000
I thought the Tootsie Pop bit was just a reference to this.
3Eliezer Yudkowsky
Yeah, I discovered that when researching HPMOR.
[-]gjm110

I'd describe the "tootsie pop" response as contemptuous rather than inane.

Re Chp 35

I searched all the threads, and didn't find any mention of this. There's a hint in the conversation between Hat&Cloak and Zabini: namely, the fact that there is a conversation at all. Why does H&C need to talk to Zabini if he's just going to obliviate him anyway? Here's one possible answer: he needs some information from Zabini.

I don't think he needs Zabini's report on the conversation — partly because he keeps talking afterwards, and partly because there are independent reasons to think that H&C is either Quirrel or an agent of Quirrel's. (For instance, the "keyed into the wards" comment, as well as the fact that H&C exactly predicts Quirrel's reaction to Zabini's statement, and the fact that this statement ended up benefiting Quirrel.)

So what information does H&C need? Note that he tells Zabini, "The reward I promised you is already on its way to your mother, by owl." In other words, Zabini was clever enough to insist that his reward go to a third party, leaving someone around to remember that he's owed an award in case he's obliviated. H&C seems to me to be turning the conversation at every step towards Zabini's mother. Eventu... (read more)

7orthonormal
Huh! Given that it would create (what currently looks like) a completely irrelevant tangent to the main plot, I think the interview might have just happened so that the readers can see Hat-and-Cloak in action. The excuse could be that Hat-and-Cloak is addicted to monologuing to characters that ve's about to Obliviate anyway. Also, welcome to Less Wrong!
9matheist
I hope that doesn't turn out to be the reason for the conversation to have happened — it's a little unsatisfying. I guess another reason for H&C to need to talk to Zabini could be in order to use legilimancy on him. Presumably, in this case, to discover whether Zabini told anyone else besides his mother about H&C. Edit: On reflection, this seems quite likely to me. H&C turns the conversation to betrayal, and if the plan is to use legilimancy on Zabini, then Zabini would need to be thinking about betrayals (and whether he has betrayed H&C) in order for the legilimancy to be useful.
1pedanterrific
I think you might be overthinking things. H&C keeps bringing the conversation around to the consequences of serial betrayal. One off-hand remark (the "keyed into the wards" comment) leads Zabini to think about his guesses as to who H&C might be. The Obliviation only comes after Zabini thinks to himself that no one gave him a chance to sell out H&C.

An idle bit of speculation, which has probably been brought up before, but it occurred to me that MoR Voldemort, being more intelligent than his canonical counterpart, may not have seen fit to stop at a mere 7 horcruxes. Why not simply make as many as (in)humanly possible, rather than adhering to some superstitious wishy-washy stuff about "7 is a powerfully magic number"? It is almost certain that the mechanics of horcrux-construction in MoR are different from those in canon (e.g. mind-upload rather than soul-splitting), so perhaps the limit that Canon!Voldemort faced (unstable soul-fragments) is not something that would be encountered in quite the same form as MoR!Voldemort.

To provide the merest scrap of substance to my speculation, I noticed that in Chapter 53 (TSPE, Part III), Quirrell states:

“Yess,” hissed the snake, “but do not underesstimate her, sshe wass the deadliesst of warriorss.” The green head dipped in warning. “One would be wisse to fear me, boy, even were I sstarved and nine-tenthss dead..."

The bolded interests me, partly because of something Dumbledore states in Chapter 61 (TSPE, Part XI):

"...Voldemort’s final avenue is to seduce a victim

... (read more)
4Joshua Hobbes
If there are any negative repercussions of Horcrux-making in MoR, and I'm fairly certain there are, I should think Quirrell would have no good reason to make any Horcruxes besides the one. It's absolutely unreachable, why damage your soul any further?
5Serpentsong
Any reason(s) in particular that you're certain that Horcrux-creation would have detrimental effects significant enough that Voldemort would create only one, maximum? I assume it must have some detrimental effects, because otherwise, given a Rational Dark Lord armed with a time-turner, we'd be looking at Horcruxes proliferating as fast as he can make them. Tens or hundreds or thousands of horcruxes, one on every muggle device launched into or out of orbit, if he could manage it. I notice that you seem to take for granted the existence of "souls" in MoR, which is far from certain. Actually I would rate the possibility as decidedly uncertain, since if souls and their attendant afterlife existed, it'd put quite a dent in the entire motivation for Harry's "conquer death and achieve immortality for everyone" program. And as prasannak noted, Harry has raised the alternate hypothesis that horcrux creation is less soul-fragmentation and more mind-uploading: "Maybe he found some way of duplicating the power of the Resurrection Stone, only he loaded it in advance with a complete copy of his brain state. Or something like that." (Chapter 39) edit: And I just remembered a brief exchange between Quirrell and Harry in chapter 46, which (to me, at least) hints at the existence of more than one horcrux. Quirrell asks Harry, hypothetically speaking, where he would choose to "lose something where no one would ever find it again." (I assumed he was being all ironic again and was talking about horcruxes.) Harry reeled off a list of about 5 possible hiding places, to which Quirrell responds "All excellent suggestions... But tell me, Mr. Potter, why those exact five? ...There is an interesting pattern to them.... One might say it sounds like something of a riddle." (Riddle? Irony overload.) It just dawned on me that those 5 hiding places could only be clues to a riddle (the riddle of where Voldemort chose to hide all his horcruxes) if they didn't encompass the complete set of all hor
2Joshua Hobbes
V jnf haqre gur vzcerffvba gung rirelguvat nobhg fbhyf naq gur nsgreyvsr sebz pnaba ubyqf gehr va ZbE. Ryvrmre fgngrq gung Uneel svaqf uvzfrys va n havirefr jvgu na nsgreyvsr juvyr abg oryvrivat va na nsgreyvsr, ohg guvf vf abg n synj va uvf engvbanyvgl orpnhfr Ebjyvat jebgr ab npghny rivqrapr bs gurfr guvatf vagb ure havirefr.
2Serpentsong
Do you mean Eliezer said that in an author's comment or something? If so I concede the point, though the text of MoR doesn't appear to me to support the existence of either souls or afterlife (even ghosts are less sapient than they are in canon). I'm also doubtful about it from a story-telling standpoint, since if spiritual immortality for humans exists by default, it would make all of Harry's stated ambitions to achieve transhuman immortality in the material universe, for everyone, a bit pointless and perhaps even restrictive (that's a whole new world you never get to explore, if you never die). Also, since MoR has a certain didactic function, for Eliezer to establish spiritual immortality in the Rationality!verse would kind of take away from the impact of his anti-death and pro-cryonics sentiments. As regards your comment about Rowling, I think in canon there's at least one piece of evidence strongly supporting the existence of an afterlife. In Deathly Hallows, during the "King's Cross" scene when Harry is AK'd into Limbo by Voldemort, Harry ostensibly meets the departed soul of Dumbledore, who tells him all manner of things (regarding his own past and the Deathly Hallows) that only the true Dumbledore would know. If one is particularly skeptical, one can write this off as total delusion on Harry's part (thus rendering suspect everything "Dumbledore" tells him), but that would go completely against the spirit of the story.
1Joshua Hobbes
V oryvrir ur zrnaf rivqrapr gung pna or bognvarq ol aba-qrnq crbcyr. Urer'f gur yvax.
1Serpentsong
I see, thanks for the link. Honestly though, va gung abgr Ryvrmre frrzf gb pbzr evtug bhg naq fnl gung va ZbE gurer vf ab nsgreyvsr: "Pu. 39 vf nyfb gur ynetrfg punatr V arrqrq gb znxr gb Ebjyvat'f ynjf bs zntvp, rzcunfvf ba arrqrq - bgurejvfr, lbh creprvir, punenpgre zbgvingvba tbrf bhg gur jvaqbj." Ol punenpgre zbgvingvbaf V vzntvar ur jnf guvaxvat bs gur fnzr pbapreaf V zragvbarq jura V gnyxrq nobhg gur "fgbel-gryyvat fgnaqcbvag" nobir.
1Joshua Hobbes
V guvax lbh znl or pbeerpg ba obgu cbvagf, npghnyyl. V'yy tb onpx naq rqvg zl cbfgf, V thrff.
0major
Oh, quite the opposite!
0Serpentsong
Yeah, I worded that poorly. It wouldn't put a dent in his underlying motivations (he would still love life, and no doubt be relieved at the news that the dead aren't lost forever), but it would make his current ambitions to optimize this world a bit beside the point, if he also needs to concentrate on optimizing the next one. Or did you mean something else?
4prasannak
Because he is nothing if not thorough? And a mind-upload might not have negative repercussions in MoR, vis-a-vis canon.
[-]moritz140

Blocking the Unblockable Curse.

This is mostly related to canon, but also a bit to HPMoR.

I've always wondered why the killing curse counts as "unblockable". In "Order of the Phoenix", Dumbledore blocks it by moving a statue in its path. Seems to work nicely. There is other evidence that solids stop the killing curse -- if it went through it, you could accidentally kill somebody behind a wall when missing your target. Prof. Moody would surely have mentioned that danger when talking about the killing curse, if that was the case. So you could carry around a steel plate strong enough to block the curse, and quickly move it into its path. Not easy, but possible.

There are also several instances where simple spells conjure animals (I remember bats and small birds). I wonder if you could simply conjure an animal into the way of the killing curse. It might need to have a minimal size to work, but a powerful wizards should be able to do that.

I also wonder if there are ways to combine charms: one detection charm that triggers another one. For example one that detects killing curses, and enables apparation or a portkey.

So, one proven way to block a killing curse, one conjectural, and another conjectural way to escape it. I can't believe the wizards still call it "unblockable" :-)

6Zaine
I'm pretty sure that 'unblockable' is meant to mean it was the only magic known to have no counter-effect, or counter-spell. Now Harry has discovered the true Patronus charm is the counter spell to Avada Kedavra. It makes sense when you think about it, which I'm sure is why Eliezer included it in the first place. The Dementors are voids of nothingness, into such nothingness tumble all living things once their life is extinguished (according to present evidence, anyway); in other words, the Dementors are parts of Death, but are not Death Incarnate (which can be summoned according to a Dark Ritual Quirrell read tell of as a spritely young lad). Thus, if the Patronus charm has the ability to repel a piece of Death, then in accordance with magic's apparent system of dualities, the Patronus charm must represent the opposite of Death: Life. All but Harry cast their Patronus using memories, figments of the mind based upon reality; because they only conjure a thought reminiscent of all life can be, they can only manifest a fragment of life force to shield themselves from Death - an imperfect shield, permeable to Death. Harry recognizes the two poles of reality: Death, or absence - and Life, or presence. Harry brings to mind all that reality really is to us, namely all that a life can ever possibly experience, and pushes that in the face of the part of Death that is Dementors.* Harry has this ability because he strives to and greatly succeeds in deceiving himself of nothing (he's not perfect - yet); through rationality he is able to have an accurate enough map of the territory that his conjured thought actually is a picture of all life can be, and so he can manifest the entirety of his Homo sapiens sapiens being. His Patronus not only represents but is pure life force, so it can overwhelm and obliterate imperfect representations of Death id est Dementors. Likewise, as both Dementors and animal Patronuses are imperfect representations of their respective pole, their effects
6Alsadius
My assumption was always just that the "summon death" bit referred to creating a Dementor, and that they are much more directly about death than simple nothingness. This isn't necessarily implied by the text, but it seems the more likely explanation. And yes, you can definitely argue with the author about their own characters, to a certain extent. (I.e., "He'd never do X, Y is way more like him!" okay, "Harry is actually a 57-year-old woman!" not okay). You're well within the lines here.
2Zaine
* Chapter seventy-nine, HP:MoR I can see your interpretation, but Quirrel's commentary does not lend it credence. He does fear Dementors, or rather their effect upon him, but - no, your interpretation holds; regardless of how high a probability there may be of the spell merely summoning a Dementor, the inability to dismiss what's summoned leaves too high a risk of freeing something worse. Though I would think Quirrel would clearly express those concerns over opting to speak warily and vaguely of the ritual - and I think it out of character for him to not have thoroughly contemplated it.
3Alsadius
Does Quirrell know that Dementors are death? I think Quirrell's interpretation is based on a lack of data, not on a difference of opinion.
2Zaine
Indeed, I see your point. The theory still holds should the ritual summon one Dementor or many, and I've benefited from considering it; thank you.
0[anonymous]
Am I arguing with the Eliezer about his own character here? If so, is that allowed?
2AspiringKnitter
That's ridiculous. It's ridiculous that the curse would be considered unblockable under those circumstances and ridiculous that I didn't think of that already. And yet... it seems you're right. In fact, now I think it would make sense for wizards to use shields in duels.
1dlthomas
Assuming shields light enough to be practically carried could be thick enough to block it.
2AspiringKnitter
And someone could just cast evanesco on the shield, now that I think about it.
1sboo
harry carries around a small boulder as ring. the transfiguration could be finite incantem'd before battle. although quirrel did say that most magic battles are actually ambushes.
1thomblake
You need to remember how wizards think. If the killing curse can't be blocked by spells, then it simply can't be blocked. They mean that if you use it in a duel, it doesn't matter what sort of shield spell your opponent has up, it won't work, and so the spell isn't very sporting and therefore is unforgivable.
0wuthefwasthat
Harry's patronus also blocks a killing curse, in Azkaban (in HPMoR)

Chapter 76: "And that's why I can destroy Dementors and you can't," said the boy. "Because I believe that the darkness can be broken."

This is interesting, because it touches upon a thought I had about the Dementors back in Chapter 45. In canon, Dementors are manifestations not of death or even fear, but of despair. (I believe Rowling has said she drew upon her own experiences of depression.) That's why chocolate helps, why they generate feelings of hopelessness, why they take away happy memories and leave unhappy ones, and why their ultimate power is to put people into a coma rather than to kill them. None of this makes sense for a manifestation of death.

But Harry's response would work either way. A happy memory, a pleasant thought, can shield against despair, but it can't destroy it. Hope, on the other hand, true grim hope – the belief that things can be made better and, crucially, the unshakeable determination to make them so, not by thinking 'wouldn't it be nice if…' but by knuckling down and solving the insoluble problem – is the only true cure for despair. And that sort of hope, which Harry shows, is actually pretty hard to hold truly, which would explain w... (read more)

I think what Harry says is heartfelt, but it's also a decent false trail to prevent Dumbledore from accidentally working out the secret and losing his ability to cast a Patronus.

Not that Dumbledore necessarily needs that. He's in a great position for doublethink: he can presumably use the Pensieve, label the memory "the secret of dementors and the Patronus charm," then Obliviate himself. Locking the basilisk away in a secret chamber, if you will.

1MinibearRex
I don't know about chocolate, but bad memories are definitely scars you get from death. And what I suspect triggered the idea in Eliezer's mind to make Dementors be about death is the idea of the Dementor's kiss, because of the old metaphor "kiss of death".

Erm, I'd guess what gave my brain the idea originally was the fact that in canon they are flying corpses in grave shrouds.

1MinibearRex
In your story they are corpses. In canon, they're green humanoid monsters wearing hooded robes, that represent despair. Considering Rowling's own pro-death position, I don't think it's likely she would have deliberately created enemies that were supposed to be the physical embodiment of death (although the movies showed dementors and death as looking nearly identical). Given the changes I saw you make to them in order to make your point, I assumed it was just something you were changing completely from canon. Apparently I was wrong. Did you think of dementors as representing death while reading Prisoner of Azkaban, or is it an idea you developed later?
7Normal_Anomaly
Um, what? Description from Prisoner of Azkaban, emphasis mine: Nowhere does it say that they are green. The best description I can think of is "flying corpses that hide their appearances," which works pretty well as a symbol of Death.
6Desrtopa
On a tangential note, despite there being no description to that effect anywhere in them, when I read the first few books I found myself invariably imagining Snape as being purple. So if MinnibearRex came away with the impression that some entities from the books were supposed to be some entirely different color than the author intended, he's certainly not the only one.
5Pavitra
Snape dresses somewhat similarly to Count von Count.
6ArisKatsaris
Despair? I thought JKR mentioned depression, not despair. And the dementors are grey, not green. And JKR's own experience with depression was after the death of her mother -- so the "death causes depression" is similar in content to "Dementor destroys all positive emotions". There's no reason why JKR couldn't use imagery of death in combination with her emotion. In the books, an afterlife exists. But the soul-destruction, the true death, is what the Dementor seems to cause. Again -- if JKR's mother had just died, her most depressed thoughts about it would be the ones that involved thinking about the true death of soul-annihilation (the Dementor's kiss), not an afterlife.
6hairyfigment
Green? No. From the American edition of PoA: And for the first appearance of a dementor Rowling talks about drowning. I don't know about the skin over the eyes, but the rest of it explicitly points to death.
6orielwen
That's backwards. I suppose experiencing the death of someone close to you could leave a mental scar in the form of a bad memory. But that's hardly the definition of a bad memory. Nor is a painful memory an inevitable outcome of someone's death.

Well I am in HMPOR withdrawal so I will post an idea that I have about the origin of the "unverbalizable fear" that Harry has while under the sorting hat about going to Hufflepuff where he will be happy. This idea is based on the few descriptions of the relationship between harry and his father in the early chapters

I was going to post the excerpts in this comment, but it is quite a bit of content so I will abstain for now. If someone wants me to post the excerpts I will. For now suffice it to say that Harry does not feel respected by his father and the only positive feeling that his father is said to display towards Harry is pride.

His eyes glanced over to his father Michael Verres-Evans, who was looking stereotypically stern-but-proud

You might say that his father dropping everything for a last minute book buying spree was a very kind thing to do. Indeed Harry himself says that his dad is "awesome" because he buys him books, and uses the memory later when trying to cast the patronius charm. However, considering the lack of respect and affection that Harry's father shows I have to ask if the book buying spree was really for Harry. It seems more likely to be a... (read more)

I've been searching a bit, but didn't find any "process" for translation of HP:MoR. Being a native french, I can offer a bit of my time to translate part of it, but :

  1. I would like to know what's the standard process, since a translation can at some points alter the meaning, is there any review or agreement from Eliezer required ?

  2. There seems to be two french translations already started. I don't want to conflict with other persons. Are the current translators still active ? If so, do they require help, or do they prefer to work alone ?

  3. Do you think it would be a good idea to setup a discussion on LW or a wiki page about translation in general, with the process, the status of the current translations (if the translator(s) are still active or not, ...) ?

0gwern
Shouldn't you ask them directly? What are the odds they'll be reading down a few hundred comment in this page?
2kilobug
Oh, I did, and I'm working with one team ;) But I was more looking for general informations and policies about translations. And maybe a way to organize them from LW (wiki or main). But I didn't get much reply here, so I just went on with other channels.

I find myself wondering about the supposed safety of Hogwarts. The wards are given as an explanation for this but if students are able to constantly hex each other in the halls, Quirrel is able to cast extremely powerful spells, and an unnamed 6th year replicated the Sectumsempra incident from cannon without any apparent interference from the wards I cant imagine what it is exactly that the wards are supposed to do to insure the safety of the students.

Consider that the school is full of 11-18 year olds with access to weapons of mass destruction and it seems to me that the apparent safety of the place for the past 50 years is due to luck rather then anything inherent in system.

Consider that the school is full of 11-18 year olds with access to weapons of mass destruction and it seems to me that the apparent safety of the place for the past 50 years is due to luck rather then anything inherent in system.

Perhaps luck is inherent in the system. The canon storyline does include a literal luck potion, so similar things are plausible. They also have and use a seer, and short-range time travel. The latter two could be used in ways that prevent deaths without a corresponding reduction in close calls.

6Jonathan_Elmer
Ya, If current generation wizards can brew a potion of luck then why not an ancient ward of luck? Sounds reasonable to me.
2MinibearRex
From Ch. 36: Now the "all spells are stunners" isn't always true, but for the most part (at least in canon) the hexes they use aren't really powerful. But I think that most of the safety record is due to the latter two factors. How many times in canon have characters had injuries that would have required many months of physical therapy in the real world, and been fine a week later?
0wedrifid
All external threats (without internal assistance) for a start. As for internal threats there is the old "If you kill your fellow students with either spells or via garrotting them with your shoelaces like any mortal could do then Dumbledore, Snape, Quirrel and McG will @#%@ you up!", and anything less than actually killing them and the staff can heal you. None of this helps vs the "Students learn transfiguration. Everybody dies." problem but that was outside the scope of authorial comprehension.
0moritz
In my understanding, the wards serve mostly two purposes: prevent harm from the outside (by mostly isolating Hogwarts magically from the outside), and analytical wards that inform the school authorities if something really bad happens. So if you want to murder someone inside of Hogwards, you face the problem that the murder is immediately detected, and then you're sealed off from the outside -- the chances of escaping aren't very high. You are right that the wards don't seem to prevent any accidents, but it seems that most "school magic" doesn't go horribly wrong without prior warnings. For example in potions, people seem to know which potions are dangerous, and those are only done under supervision.
0Joshua Hobbes
There are almost certainly enchantments to detect the use of deadly magic within the school, and Madam Pommfery can fix pretty much anything a Hogwarts student could be expected to cast without murderous intent.
2Jonathan_Elmer
Transfiguration?
1Joshua Hobbes
Wizards are ignorant, but not really stupid. I think the vice-headmistress is quite effective with her warnings.
8Jonathan_Elmer
Risk taking, irrationality, and emotional volatility are pretty common traits of children in that age range. I don't think that is necessarily the case, but for children brought up in the environment of magical Briton that is certainly true for the majority of them. There were times around that age when I felt like setting the world on fire and if I had access to "the button" I might have pressed it. I think I would not have, but I cant be sure. I think it would be quite incongruous to talk in confident tones about the safety of a junior high-school that stored weapons of mass destruction in an unlocked utility closet.
7pedanterrific
This is actually an interesting point to bear in mind: the average wizard's ability to cause large numbers of deaths is a lot greater than the average muggle's. It doesn't take a genius on the level of Voldemort to transfigure a hundred pounds of bleach (or name your poison) into air and release it inconspicuously in Diagon Alley.
6Eneasz
The average muggle's ability to cause a large number of deaths is pretty high too (at least in America, where guns aren't too hard to get). My former high school has been around for 43 years now, and has never had a mass murder, and had quite a few more students than Hogwarts does. Columbine-level events are nearly unheard of, even though they wouldn't be much harder to execute than the hundred-pounds-of-bleach plan. The wards are probably just there to prevent outside attack from political opponents, and the children are assumed to be as well adjusted as anyone else in society.
2pedanterrific
One: I wasn't thinking in reference to Hogwarts students, just wizards in general. (Hence 'Diagon Alley' rather than 'the Great Hall'.) Two:
0faul_sname
Except that the "hundred pounds of bleach" plan requires only a single, irreversible action, so it's more like pressing a button.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky
It kind of does. In how many fanfics is anything like this suggested?

It doesn't take a genius on the level of Voldemort to transfigure a hundred pounds of bleach (or name your poison) into air and release it inconspicuously in Diagon Alley.

It kind of does.

It really doesn't. They teach transfiguration to the children from about 8 years old and some of them do not completely fail. They tell the students a bunch of things that are really dangerous to do. There are many people below the level of Voldemort who have both the knowledge and skill to kill people effectively with transfiguration if they so desire. It really isn't that much of a genius feat of creativity.

In how many fanfics is anything like this suggested?

Relatively few fan-fictions are based around the crude exploitation of basic magic for the purpose of terrorism. This says a lot more about what makes a good story than about how hard it is for average wizards to play terrorist. Significant plot arcs about magical terrorists sound cooler if they use fancy dramatic magic that sounds mysterious and hard to acquire rather than the simplest thing that would work.

5fubarobfusco
They go further than that: the standard textbook includes a horrifying animated photograph of a murder victim. The idea that Transfiguration can be used as a weapon is taught in the very first class session. In the wood-shop class which I took when I was a year or two older than a Hogwarts first-year, we were taught that the tools are dangerous. We were taught that you can cut your arm off with a bandsaw if you behave foolishly near it; and that if you lower the drill on the drill-press against your hand, it will put a hole through your hand. However, we were not specifically taught about the possibilities of shop tools for intentional murder. It was assumed that any accidents would be just that: accidents. Now, Transfiguration is more dangerous than shop tools; Transfiguring a brick to air or water could sicken or kill quite a few people, whereas a belt-sander is really only dangerous to those within shoving distance. But a shop-class student casting around for a weapon would probably seize upon a chair-leg or two-by-four much more readily than a saw-blade. The Transfiguration student — having been explicitly instructed that the art has been used to intentionally kill — would much more likely bring that to mind.
1drethelin
kind of tangential, but would an arbitrary wizard even know what bleach is?
2wedrifid
I suppose the question would be "Is the typical magical cleaning potion harmful when dispersed in small amounts throughout the body?"
0drethelin
I guess you could also just transmute a lot of a solid into gas while bubbleheading yourself and just leave it to disperse.
1wedrifid
I would use Aluminium, in small amounts. It wouldn't so much be terrorism as it would be counterintelligence. Literally. Do some experimentation (on political prisoners) first and then some calculations on air dispersal concentrations and work out how much the human body can absorb via untranfiguration without being detected.