Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84

by FAWS1 min read11th Apr 20121239 comments


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The next discussion thread is here.


This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 84The previous thread  has passed 500 comments. Comment in the 14th thread until you read chapter 84. 

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

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: 12345678910111213, 14.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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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I had this idea about Tom Riddle's plan that I appreciated having criticized.

Tom Riddle grew up in the shadow of WWII. He saw much of the Muggle world unite against a threat they all called evil, and he saw Europe's savior, the US, eventually treated as the new world leader afterward, though it was somewhat contested, of course. That threat strongly defined it's own presentation and style, and so that style and presentation were associated with evil afterward.

Tom didn't want to be Hitler. Tom wanted to actually win and to rule in the longer term, not just until people got tired of his shit and went all Guy Fawks on his ass. He knew that life isn't easy for great rules, but thought that was worthwhile. He knew that life was even harder for great rulers who ruled by fear, so that wasn't his plan.

So Tom needed two sides, good and evil. To this end he needed two identities, a hero and a villain.

I guess he didn't think the villain didn't need to have any kind of history. Maybe he didn't think the villain would matter much or for long. Voldemort was just there for the hero to strike down. That was a mistake, because he lacked a decoy his enemies were eventually able to discover ... (read more)

That's a really good explanation for how Dumbledore's recollection of the purposeless evil of Voldemort can be reconciled with the clearly purposeful evil of Quirrell.

3Anubhav10yAnd why Voldie'd lay low for TEN YEARS waiting for a hero. (Still... see Chris Halquist below. '73 to '81? He must've had some plan going.)
3Percent_Carbon10yYeah. He did. And yeah, that's odd. There's probably something else going on there that we don't know about.
2buybuydandavis10yHe's patient? I believe he intends to upload into Harry after arranging for Harry to "kill" Voldemort and take power. He showed up just in time for Harry's first year at Hogwarts - first year in public. Then creates the whole army business which propels Harry to leadership. Also, even though he "was winning" the war, finishing off Dumbledore, holder of the Elder Wand, is non trivial. Much better to become Harry and have Dumbledore pass on his power to you.

Right now this post has 53 points. WHY?

The post where put down the theory this grew from only has 2 points. Don't go voting it up just because I mentioned that. I don't want anything 'fixed' I just want an explanation.

This isn't written any better than my other posts, which commonly stay under 3 points and go negative often enough. Those other posts are totally contributions to the conversation. Some of them are even helpful.

I left points hanging. I didn't defend what I was saying. I just told a story. That's what you want?

I'm not even the first to revisit this speculation since my low vote theory post. Chris Hallquist was saying pretty much the same thing and he didn't get over 40 upvotes.

What are you upvoting?

[-][anonymous]10y 38

I left points hanging. I didn't defend what I was saying. I just told a story. That's what you want?

Why hello there! We are called humans, have you met us before?

Because votes come more from the location in the thread than from quality of the post - sheer numbers of people reading it swamp a better post made 400 spots downthread. Also, it puts down in decent fashion a thesis that's getting kicked around a lot and that is rather appealing.

7Benquo10yMaybe the illusion of transparency doesn't let you see how much clearer this comment [EDIT: I mean the parent comment] is.

Did you just get burned by the Illusion of Transparency while referencing the Illusion of Transparency?

Well. Done.

3Percent_Carbon10yYou're probably right. I have no fucking clue what you're thinking.
6Vladimir_Nesov10yOne factor is that it's a top-level comment to a popular post, and once a top-level comment outcompetes most others it's shown more prominently and read by more people.
5ArisKatsaris10yI don't think your current post "deserves" as many upvotes as it got, but that other post is just bad. Badly written, badly argued, makes lots of unsupported random claims, like "Voldemort killed Narcissa".
5CronoDAS10yWell, I thought it was!
2Eponymuse10yI downvoted the previous post because it was a needlessly complicated, poorly justified plan. Crucially, there was little indication of why Voldemort would want to pretend to lose, when he was already winning the war. By contrast, your more recent post is a good analysis of the new insight into Voldemort's history and motivations provided by the latest chapter.
1kilobug10yI liked the story you told, I found it interesting so I upvoted (but your post was like at 5 or 6 when I upvoted it, I wouldn't have upvoted it if it was already above 30, I tend to avoid upvoting posts which are already too high, unless they are really wonderful). I didn't see the first one - I don't read all the comments, depends of my schedule. Maybe since you posted your new one earlier in the thread, when it wasn't too bloated, more people saw it ?

I guess he didn't think the villain didn't need to have any kind of history. Maybe he didn't think the villain would matter much or for long. Voldemort was just there for the hero to strike down. That was a mistake, because he lacked a decoy his enemies were eventually able to discover his identity.

Perhaps not so much. We may believe Voldemort to truly be Tom Riddle for the following few reasons.

  • The Order of the Phoenix thinks Voldemort is Tom Riddle.
  • Voldemort is Tom Riddle in canon
  • In Chapter 70, Quirrell, who we are to understand is Voldemort, talks about a witch taking advantage of a muggle man, which is part of Tom Riddle's tragic backstory in cannon.
  • He just can't seem to help himself from punning his damn name, between the references to 'riddles' and his godawful anagram.

But canon doesn't count, this fic diverges strongly in places.

And knowledgeable, otherwise competent characters are wrong about things.

And, most tellingly, we now know that Voldemort in his Quirrell mask has been dropping hints that he is actually your Scion X (or David Monroe or whomever). He could just as easily be falsely hinting at the Riddle identity.

Yes, I am suggesting that the studen... (read more)

3Percent_Carbon10yThat sounds unsolvable with only the information we've been given. If it was another kid in Hogwarts that opened the chamber then why haven't there been any hints in the text to this man behind the man who is also the man behind the other man who is pretending to be the man behind yet another man. And if it was an adult then also who because there are not hints and how did they get into Hogwarts and the Chamber and I don't think you mean it was someone who was already grown up in 41.

When Tom realizes that his plan has failed and cannot be made to work in the intended fashion, he exits his hero, stage left. At that point, 75 or so, he doesn't have a good plan to leave the stage as his villain, so he kind of kicks it for a few years, tolerating the limits of his rule and getting what meager entertainment he can out of being a god damned theater antagonist.

This strikes me as the least characteristic part of your idea. Quirrellmort doesn't seem like someone who would have taken a few years kicking it around trying to come up with a new plan.

ETA: I think that for the most part this seems like a pretty likely outline. I think the evidence stacks up in favor of the new character being a dupe of Voldemort, and this strikes me as the most plausible motivation for him to be playing both sides. I think his plan would probably even have been workable in the sense of making the heroic identity the de facto leader of the country, but he called it quits when he realized that the prize for heroism was not being lavished with adulation, but being treated as responsible for being a hero all the time, whereas the prize for being a Dark Lord was fawning obedience. There are a... (read more)

3Percent_Carbon10yYeah, I get that now. I've amended my suspicion to be that Riddle enjoyed himself in the Voldemort role, for maybe a little less than eight years. I still think he intentionally left the stage and didn't somehow end up on the losing end of a Nuts roll vs.. infant. Tom Riddle bites it in a cutscene? Lame.
2Desrtopa10yMy primary hypothesis is still that getting cindered by Harry was the consequence of some unknown unknown, some event that Voldemort wouldn't have been able to predict in advance by being really good at planning.

I've been thinking along the same lines, probably because I watched Code Geass not too long ago, and this is basically the "Zero Requiem" gambit employed by Lelouch. He creates a totem of pure evil as a target of the world's hatred, then publicly destroys it, establishing a hero as savior-king. Riddle, like Lelouche, is portrayed as a "Byronic hero"--mysterious, cynical, cunning, arrogant, and brilliant. If this interpretation is correct, Harry might not be his future meatpuppet, but actually the "chosen one", who will fulfill the role of the hero and unite the world as savior-king after destroying the risen Voldemort.

But of course it could have just been a "Palpatine Gambit". In this version, Riddle was using his Voldemort persona to create fear, which his other persona takes advantage of to turn Magical Britain into the Empire, consolidating all power to himself. But in this version, much to the consternation of Tom Riddle, the "Republic" actually doesn't give up power to the obviously qualified hero (due to diffusion of responsibility, political maneuvering, etc.) So instead he decides to just seize power as Voldemort, but by bad... (read more)

Tom Riddle grew up in the shadow of WWII. He saw much of the Muggle world unite...

Tom didn't want to be Hitler...

In case it's relevant, remember that Hitler was just a muggle pawn of Grindlewald, and the Holocaust existed to fuel Gindlewald's dark rituals.

7ChrisHallquist10yI think this is right in broad strokes, but what you call "a few years" is '73 to '81, kind of a long time to "kick it" because your plan went astray. Furthermore, Quiddle also often talks about his motives in terms of what he found "amusing," "felt like," or "pleasant" (in conversation with Hermione). Then there's this: I think he's not quite so given to long-term planning as you imagine.
8LucasSloan10yThere's a difference between using long term planning to develop a power base, and being willing to use your power base to indulge your desires.
1ChrisHallquist10ySo the quote is not the best illustration of Quiddle's character. But does seem to have abandoned the "hero" plan (at least in its initial version) on the basis of what was "more pleasant."
2Percent_Carbon10yHe had to wait for his exit. He could kill off the hero at any time, that's easy. Heroes just die. But villains need to be vanquished.
2LucasSloan10yYou think that someone as competent as Voldemort couldn't have created a faster exit strategy?
5Percent_Carbon10yThe world was not offering him an opportunity to be vanquished in a fashion that would allow him to escape. Moody and Dumbledore would be too thorough, and everyone else wasn't good enough to touch him. Or maybe he had reasons for staying Voldemort until he heard about the 'prophesy' and decided that was a good opportunity.
3LucasSloan10yI can think of ways to be vanquished much quicker than he did, especially if he's willing to be reverted to horcrux. Challenge Dumbledore to a duel and lose. Be seen doing some dark ritual, which then goes out of control, killing him. Hell, I'm sure someone as competent as Voldemort could have faked a prophecy about his doom. I don't see why you think that Voldemort wasn't willing to use villainhood to achieve total dominance - he was winning, he would have gotten what he wanted.
2Desrtopa10yIf I were Voldemort, I wouldn't have waited on that prophesy until I needed to make an exit [http://lesswrong.com/lw/30g/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2zcv].
1somervta9yLove it!
4gwern10ySo in this scenario, why is he dying? Before, we were unsure that his cataplexy was getting worse; I pointed out that on-screen he seems as active or more active than ever. But Bones says: "And you seem to be resting more and more frequently, as time goes on." and she would know. Are we speculating that whatever dupe's body that Riddle stole is breaking down 60-odd years later after Albania?
3Percent_Carbon10yThat is a good question. I don't know why he appears to be dying. Maybe Riddle was put Scion of X's body on ice when he put an Albania with a nail through it up side his head. Then he trotted it out for a few years in the seventies, then put it back on ice. And it turns out that's not good for a body and so it's kind of falling apart or something. Maybe Quirrell wants the appearance of weakness, for all the right reasons. Maybe Scion of X has been alive the whole time, imprisoned in his own usually motionless flesh. And since the only thing he could do was wait there, motionless, he practiced being lethargic. And he became strong and wise in the ways of lethargy, so that Voldemort must ration his own strength and only force Scion of X to action when absolutely necessary. Maybe when Quirrell is 'resting' he's actually busy in the Dream Place leading the Crunch Rebellion against the Evil Empire of Sogg.
1DSimon10yI will definitely have to put that in my General-Purpose Excuses File. :-)
3LucasSloan10yQuirrell's body is in its 30s.
0trlkly10yMy interpretation of the book is that the Defense Professor looks just like Quirrell. If this is the case, then maybe it takes more and more out of him to maintain the illusion that he is someone else. Or maybe he actually inhabits the body Quirrell, and Quirrell is slowly fighting back. Then again, I still have a hard time reading the DP as actually being Voldemort, so take my instincts with a grain of salt.
2cousin_it10yI really like your theory of what happened, but have a different idea about Tom's motives. When the hero disappeared, people were already speaking of him as the next Dumbledore. He had two easy paths to world domination. Put yourself in his place and his personality, what would you do? I'd probably get bored and set about creating the only thing I don't have: a worthy adversary. This also explains why Harry Potter is so overpowered.

Put yourself in his place and his personality, what would you do? I'd probably get bored and set about creating the only thing I don't have: a worthy adversary.

I wouldn't. Sign me up for unworthy adversaries all the way.

set about creating ... a worthy adversary

Just to put slightly differently what others have already said: We're talking here about a version of Voldemort who has read the Evil Overlord List (or written his own version or something of the kind). It is hard to reconcile either half of that with taking considerable trouble and risk to raise up a "worthy adversary".

2Percent_Carbon10yAsking for a worthy adversary is asking to lose. Quirrell taught his 'worthy adversary' Harry to lose as an attempt to weaken him, not to make him stronger. Harry is just too caught up in his Quirrell worship to see that.
8Viliam_Bur10yPretending to lose can be a good move, and if you are able to play it at the right moment, it makes you stronger. Did Quirrell ask Harry to accept some unrepairable damage? No. It was only about signalling, and temporary pain (any resulting damage is guaranteed to be healed magically later). Quirrell taught Harry that signalling defeat is not the same thing as being defeated. Just like Voldemort, pretending to be killed by a baby, is not really dead. (I agree that asking for a worthy adversary is suicidal. Having a sparring partner can be useful, but you should be able to destroy them reliably, when necessary.) EDIT: Though, you have a good point. Willingness to simulate defeat may reduce emotional barriers against (real) defeat, which in some circumstances could weaken one's resolution to fight. Humans are not perfectly logical; when we do something "as if", it influences our "real" behavior too. That's the essence of "fake it till you make it" self-improvement... or perhaps, in this specific situation, self-weakening.
1[anonymous]10yThis is remarkably internally consistent and consistent with the evidence available to us.

Am I losing my mind, or was there a change made to Chap 16? I recall this section:

" No, there is exactly one monster which can threaten you once you are fully grown. The single most dangerous monster in all the world, so dangerous that nothing else comes close. The adult wizard. That is the only thing that will still be able to threaten you."

However now it reads:

" No, there is exactly one monster which can threaten you once you are fully grown. The single most dangerous monster in all the world, so dangerous that nothing else comes close. The Dark Wizard. That is the only thing that will still be able to threaten you."

If it was changed... why the change? The original was better, and (perhaps more to the point) more in keeping with Quirrell's character. He wouldn't distinguish between adult and Dark wizards when it comes to threat-to-his-students assessment.

You're right. I search the PDF version, and have been told it doesn't receive edits in it's build (currently - though that's the plan for the future).

"The adult wizard." pg. 226

And I agree. I don't like the change either. Thinking that other adult wizards aren't a threat to you unless they're Dark is a horribly mistaken bias in more ways that one.

Definitely not insane. Do not like this change.

Yeah. I dislike this change. "Dark" makes sense for Quirrell to say for purposes of not sounding too evil, for not sounding like he's encouraging being dangerous. But at that point in the story, it was pretty clear Quirrell thought it was a good thing to be dangerous, and saying "adult" wizard is more consistent with that. It's also more consistent with his decision to call "Defense Against the Dark Arts" "Battle Magic."

If you're losing your mind, then either I am too or the nature of your mind-losing is a hallucination about what the chapter says now. I remember the same original text as you do (or, at any rate, the words "the adult wizard" and certainly not "the Dark wizard"). And I strongly agree that the original version is better.

4ArisKatsaris10yIt used to say "adult wizard" yes -- I just confirmed it with an old pdf.
2[anonymous]10yMaybe it's phrased that way in order to be similar to the bit several sentences down: That instance of "Dark" makes sense (since they're Dark Arts and not "Adult Arts") and so there is a reason to use "Dark Wizard" throughout.

Best rationalization I can think of, but I still don't approve of the change. Let us remember that Quirrell intends to help Harry become a Dark Wizard, in which case, since Harry is in the classroom, he should include Light Wizards in the class of people who can threaten the students present.

It also makes more sense to say "the adult wizard" since that sentence is the conclusion of a list of species that are dangerous, and "adult" sounds more biological.

Maybe there's an important reason for this change, but otherwise I think this is too much like a composer making inane changes to a piece after it's already written, or like George Lucas messing with the original Star Wars trilogy.

0HonoreDB10yI think Quirrell is working with an unconventional definition of Dark. Something like "in violent opposition to you."
0LKtheGreat10yThat passage, of course, ties into what the Defense Professor says in the latest chapter: "You cannot use the Killing Curse, so the correct tactic is to Apparate away." If I had to work from the premise that the revision is actually related to that, I'd assume it's emphasising the Defense Professor being, in fact, a Dark wizard. But I agree that from a point of view outside Eliezer's head, it appears to have at best neutral impact, and at worst negative impact on the effect of the passage.

Assuming evil people will be susceptible to such arguments

I didn't say evil people will be susceptible to such arguments.

I was naming three reasons that good people have to not be evil, not three arguments that would cause evil people to stop being evil.

Eliezer, in an edit, just reminded me that Tom Riddle is 65 years old. And from there I got to looking that other ages. Dumbledore is 110. Bahry One-Hand and Mad Eye Moody are each at least ~120. From chapter 39, I got the impression that 150 years old is uncomfortably old (maybe 90 in muggle years) and 200 is unthinkably old (110+ for muggles). So now I'm confused again.

Where are all the old people? What would family trees look like if people really lived to be 120+ regularly? If you're a child you've got two parents, and 4 grandparents, but what about the 8 great grandparents...and the 16 great^2 grandparents...32 great^3 grandparents...64 great^4 grandparents... 128 great^5 grandparents...256 ...512 etc? Plus, imagine the number of children each couple would have if people jumped from 40 fertile years to 80. I could buy that with older ages, people would wait longer to have kids (In canon they mention that it was slightly unusual for people to be having children at 20 years old). That would explain why there aren't 7-10 generations of family at the reunions, but on the other hand, I wouldn't expect Wizards to be big fans of birth control or abortion. Plus, that doesn'... (read more)

In recent history they've had two devastating wars. Plotting and infighting seems perpetual. Most adults spend a reasonable amount of their time using dangerous magic (there was some mention of wizard specific diseases like 'dragon pox' in canon). And everyone in the world can kill you instantly with their wand. So even if their notional life expectancy is high the number of dangers that reduce the population is enormous.

Actually given how easy deadly curses are I'm surprised there are any wizards left... Possibly explains why age correlates with magical power/skill.

Actually given how easy deadly curses are I'm surprised there are any wizards left... Possibly explains why age correlates with magical power/skill.

Probably for the same reason the existence of guns hasn't resulted in human extinction.

5DSimon10yOn the other hand, I don't carry a gun on my keychain, but a wizard's wand is used to do everything from insta-death to turning on and off the lights in a room.
2Desrtopa10yIn canon, not only is casting the killing curse extremely illegal, it's probably beyond the abilities of most wizards anyway. It's said to take powerful magic, and most adult wizards aside from professors and aurors are implied to be inept at even the basics of defensive magic. I thought it added verisimilitude to the setting, that rather than being on a level far above teenage students after decades of honing their skills, most witches and wizards are fairly incompetent and don't remember most of what they were made to learn in school, much like how most of our population can't win Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Are_You_Smarter_Than_a_5th_Grader%3F_%28U.S._game_show%29]

Plus, education for 7 years makes no sense if you expect to live another hundred; muggles spend 1/5-1/6th of their life in education, but wizards only 1/15th

This, at least, does not confuse me. It's not like this is a historical constant, for most of human history most people have spent less.

Anyway, it's implied that vocational training exists after one is finished with one's mandatory education.

I wouldn't expect Wizards to be big fans of birth control or abortion.

Are you assuming vaguely medieval tech = Catholic = opposed to birth control and abortion?

The Catholic Church didn't declare that all abortion was murder until the Renaissance, and I don't think there's any reason to think that wizards are generally Catholics. ETA Nor is there any reason to think that Catholics are reliably obedient to Popes.

The simplest explanation might be that wizards (like Tolkien's elves, but less so) just aren't very fertile.

5Percent_Carbon10yChurch of England, surely. As an American I can tell you confidently that the wizards and witches of magical Britain have one quality above all others: they are British.
3Velorien10yThis would explain why religion never comes up in canon.
6gjm10yIt does, a little bit. I think there's one church service, seen from the outside, and some important grave -- Harry's parents? -- has a quotation from the New Testament on it. ("The last enemy to be defeated is death", which of course plenty of not-at-all-religious people would have much sympathy with.) But yes, religion in the UK tends to be rather less conspicuous than in the US.

I wouldn't expect Wizards to be big fans of birth control or abortion.

Why not?

There are only thirty hours in a day and every child means greater demands on your time. It's not like they can hire muggles to raise their kids, like affluent muggle families might hire less-affluent folk to look after theirs. And we don't hear about anyone being raised by house elves.

Why wouldn't they want sex without conception?

5moritz10yWhich is much less of an issue if your own parents and grandparents (and maybe even another generation) are around to dote on your children.
6loserthree10yExcept they'd also be around to dote on your nieces and nephews (who are also their grandchildren) and the children of your first cousins (since those children would be their great-grandchildren just as much as your own children would be). In fact, because they're subject to multipliers as they go further up the family tree, they have even less time for each child. This does not make any stronger argument against desiring sex without conception, not does it weaken my "only thirty hours in a day" argument for sex without conception.
4faul_sname10yParticularly since there's almost certainly an easy spell for that.
9loup-vaillant10yWhich seems to be unknown to 7th year students of Hogwarts. Sigh. Magical education is seriously lacking.
5HonoreDB10yOr you cast the spell after doing the deed, and that one time they were too busy fleeing/claiming this wasn't what it looked like/getting castigated/getting dressed. ...just how many pregnancies has McGonagall caused, anyway?
5moritz10yOr maybe they simply wanted a child? That can happen at that age, even if it's not all that common in our societies.
1faul_sname10yTrue. It's not like having a child at that age will prevent them from going to college or have any particularly negative effects in the HPMORverse. Edit: I accidentally a word there. Edit 2: And then I the put word in the wrong place.
1Percent_Carbon10yPerhaps it still has a drawback. This being a Potterverse it wouldn't be something straightforward like the way a condom insulates against body heat or decreases sensation. It'd be that the semen is magically transported into a nearby container. If you don't have a proper container prepared it ends up somewhere inconvenient like someone's pocket, or outer ear, or mouth. Or that both parties must spend a moment beforehand concentrating on a blue sphere, or the smell of vomit, or the sound of breaking celery. Or maybe it just makes a lady's feet numb. So some people in some situations skip the contraceptive because they aren't prepared or don't want to deal with the complication.
2Alsadius10yMore likely, parents got offended by the thought of that spell getting taught officially, and the (edit)Davises just missed out on the unofficial version?
1Percent_Carbon10yHave we heard of magical Britain being remarkably prudish in either MOR or canon?
8Benquo10y1) The war 2) Some wizards are more equal than others.

1a) Also that other war before that one

3) Dumbledore uses his Time Tuner all the time. If he received it in his teens there could be almost twenty five extra years on that airframe.

5linkhyrule510yMight be a Baby Boom effect, combined with high death rates from the wars. Basically, WWII still has visible effects.
5NancyLebovitz10yConsidering how poor the Weasleys are, most wizards might well use birth control and abortion. Both seem like they should be magically feasible, and wizards might actually know whether fetuses are conscious.

(nods) And the Fetusmouths were driven into isolated seclusion in the early 1200s due to ethical concerns, and also they were really annoying at baby showers.

6[anonymous]10yAnd thus did the nine Ancient and Most Noble Houses of Britain become eight.
4Bluehawk10yFetusmouth sounds to me remarkably like a synonym for "babyeater".
[-][anonymous]10y 12

The Weasleys do seem to be more cosmetically poor than anything else. I mean, we're told they're poor, and that they wear shabby clothing and have hand-me-down wands, but they own a big house and land and broomsticks and a car(!) and everyone of age in the family is gainfully employed, often in reasonably respectable and lucrative jobs. Makes you wonder where the money's going.

4NancyLebovitz10yI'm not sure, but it could be that while they're hardly desperate, they can't quite run with people who are upper middle class or better. They're getting by, but they don't have much to spare.
2LauralH10ySpeaking as the middle of 5 kids - having a bunch of kids close to the same age like that can get expensive, and Molly didn't work.
0Sheaman377310yBeyond what has already been said by other posters, they take vacations all the time. I get that it was probably a narrative technique, to get them out of the way and either keep Ron around or move him away, but it was unbelievably frustrating that they would choose to all go out and have fun before getting Ron a wand that was actually attuned to him, considering how central to their lives wands are. I'm probably biased both in my love of (the idea of) magic and in my enjoyment in being a homebody, though I'm not sure what that might be called at the moment.
1bogdanb10yI think I’ve actually seen something on the lines of “interesting potions for girls if you know what I mean”—but though I don’t remember if in canon or MoR.
4Alsadius10yYeah, but even with birth control our families are bigger than that. Perhaps it's just Voldemortality?
3bogdanb10yWell, the Weasleys have a somewhat larger family, despite participating in the war, and they’re somewhat low-status among the magic users. It might be a semi-unconscious cultural thing. Most Slytherins concentrate on building status, or on grooming a heir worthy of it if they have status (and have little love to split), the Ravenclaws are busy reading books, Griffindors are busy heroing like Dumbledore, and Hufflepufs have to pick up all the slack. But yeah, war is probably the main reason, the older parts of family trees have more branches. (Well, out-of-universe it’s probably just how writing works: you initially concentrate on a few characters, and they have to be diverse so you make them from different backgrounds and families, so you have mostly only-children, but later you need to build up the relationships so you get more complex family trees in the past.)
3maia10yNitpick: Why would you think that would happen? Women already regularly outlive their fertile periods in real life. Unless you're also proposing some magical mechanism of fertility increase (and if so, why?), you wouldn't expect fertile periods to increase. Of course, wizards would have longer fertile periods, but you still bump into the hard limit of how many children witches are willing and able to have.
3Percent_Carbon10yMaybe he is thinking of fertility the way a gamer thinks of health. Wizards are just healthier. There isn't a solid, hard science fiction explanation for why they heal faster and shrug off harder hits. They just do. Likewise no attention needs to be paid to the nature of the end of fertility or the resources that run out or the way the odds of viable offspring and safe childbirth start ramping down around in the mid to late twenties in normal females. They just don't in a witch's life.
3thomblake10yI'd always assumed canon Dumbledore had limited access to the Philosopher's Stone.

EY doesn't seem so fond of Rand, and it's like he's building her up as the great bugaboo of the story. That whole talk with Hermione was one of those "Gault Recruits a Striker" speeches.

If you live in a world where you are punished for what was called Good:

And yet it was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant. To throw every possible obstacle into his way. I was not naive, Miss Granger, I did not expect the power-holders to align themselves with me so quickly - not without something in it for themselves. But their power, too, was threatened; and so I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward."

And rewarded for what was called Evil:

"And it was the strangest thing - the Dark Wizard, that man's dread nemesis - why, those who served him leapt eagerly to their tasks. The Dark Wizard grew crueler toward his followers, and they followed him all the more. Men fought for the chance to serve him, even as those whose lives depende

... (read more)

You should break up your quote blocks with an extra line so they look like separate quotes..

7oliverbeatson10yI find some of the most relatable parts of the story to be the vague hero-against-the world / morality allegory, particularly in the dialogue quoted here. I think as much of the micro-morality of the story is Randian in a way that as much of the surface dialogue might paint Rand as a negative colour (if only by showing how ugly her beliefs on the surface, but revealing their purer roots). Harry is basically saying "Yes, everyone is incompetent; woe that they didn't have the luck to be not, and let's try and change that without getting too annoyed". With greater intelligence comes greater ability (and in a sense perceived moral obligation) to restrain or make productive one's hatred towards that which can't be changed or that can't be changed easily. Harry is taking morality as being the extent to which a strength can compensate for weakness in the spirit of creating future strength. The Randian 'strike' is a utilitarian way to achieve Randian values, and not an inherently Randian way or whatever. I don't think it's immediately obvious Harry isn't aiming for Randian values, if perhaps narratively in a way that Ayn Rand would not have imagined - i.e. strength and weakness are much more complexly intertwined. (It's not obvious either that I'm disagreeing with the parent post.)
2buybuydandavis10yDefinitely. For me, EY hits some of the exact same buttons that Rand does, though maybe a little harder. In Rand's terms, the Sense of Life is the same. EY's money shots, Harry's internal dialogues, are practically interchangeable with the money shots in Anthem and We The Living, also internal dialogues of the main characters. It's a Nietzschean Yes! to life. I can't think of anyone more similar to either in that respect. The same sense of life, but they part ways on ideological conclusions. Quirrell as the Big Bad, is busy giving the No Duty to others, free to be an Egoist speech. I don't think we're intended to sympathize. Then EY makes a package deal of an egoistic love of life and it' opposite - Despite, the contempt for life because of it's "imperfections". Reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life, where a different kind of package deal is used to recommend the squashing of George's youthful egoism.
0Percent_Carbon10yIt's taken me three passes over the newest posts to figure out that you meant you sympathize with him. Upvoting for (delayed) chuckle. Do you sympathize with Randian protagonists, too?
2wedrifid10yI doubt it. I'm not familiar with any Randian protagonists but if they act in accord to what I understand of Randian philosophical agenda then their attitude would be gratingly incompatible with my sympathy. From what I understand Randians are have their options artificially constrained in the direction of a particular interpretation of 'selfishness'. Quirrel can do whatever the heck he wants and care about whatever he wants. Doing whatever the heck he wants gets my sympathy and also a certain kind of trust.
2RobertLumley10yI was thinking of Rand through this entire chapter too, but I dismissed that as a cached thought because of the recent "In Defense of Ayn Rand". Perhaps I shouldn't have.
1Alsadius10yI think the "I quit and did something more fun" bit was very Rand, the rest much less so.

I took it as Ron approving of killing Malfoys. That doesn't seem unreasonable considering their families were on opposite sides of an extremely bloody war within recent memory.

And that he's twelve.

I've edited the birthdate of the person Amelia refers to, to be 1927 - too many people were interpreting that as "She thinks he's Tom Riddle" despite the House incongruence, an interpretation I'd honestly never thought of due to Illusion of Transparency.

I recommend checking out what your hints mean in canon, because that's what we have to go off of. The first thing I did when I saw 1926 was head over to the Harry Potter wiki and figure out who was born in 1926. It's Riddle and three of his Death Eater pals, all from Slytherin, of which the obvious option is Riddle. Riddle fits the biographical details you give, with minor modification consistent with the upgrades people get from canon (a MOR Riddle might decide to not murder his family while still in school, for example). The canon rules for Houses appear to be "only Black is Noble and Most Ancient," and so we really don't have any idea which houses are the seven mentioned by Bones, and what the eighth missing house could be. Gaunt is a way better option than, say, Lestrange (where we know Lesath is alive).

In a fanfic, you should expect people to suspect that new characters are canon characters rather than completely new characters, which the person Bones is describing now appears to be (no canon births in 1927).

4Paul Crowley10yThank you - I assumed it was a canon character, and came to this thread to find out who it was.

I think you're underestimating how quick people are to latch onto a detected pattern at the tiniest bit of evidence, and highly overestimating how quick they're to let go of the pattern they (brilliantly) detected when evidence to the contrary appears.

Any date at around that era will keep making people think she identified him as Tom Riddle, no matter any other evidence to the contrary, unless you explicitly have her mention a different name for him by chapter's end.

If you don't want people to have that confusion by chapter's end, just edit the chapter to have her name him with whatever non-Tom-Riddle name she thinks him to be.

3DeevGrape10ySaid by Quirrell, but appropriate to the question of EY publishing the name of the hero: "it is clear he does not wish the fact announced, and has reasons enough for silence. "
3ArisKatsaris10yWhether true or false, it isn't clear to me. Eliezer has edited chapters in the past for the purposes of clarity/removal of red herrings.
7ChrisHallquist10yFacepalm Of course, if Riddle wanted to create a hero persona for himself, he wouldn't use his real name, especially not when his villain persona's name was an anagram of his real name. So to create his hero persona, he looked for a dead scion of a Most Ancient House who he could impersonate. In his Voldemort persona, he orders the kidnapping of the Minster of Magic's daughter, then rescues her in his hero persona, &c. Also solves the problem of why doesn't Bones know Riddle became Voldemort.

especially not when his villain persona's name was an anagram of his real name.

I don't think that's an issue. It's a really long anagram - 'I am Lord Voldemort' to 'Tom Marvolo Riddle'. You need his middle name, you need to use 'Tom' rather than 'Thomas', and how many would think of prepending 'I am Lord' to 'Voldemort', especially when 'Lord' is mostly (exclusively?) used by Death Eaters. (Did anyone in the entire world besides Rowling get that anagram before it was published in Book 2? No one in canon but Harry seems to know.)

Remember that folks like Hook would publish hash - I mean, anagram - precommitments to their great scientific discoveries. Against humans without computers, anagrams are pretty effective trapdoor functions. (And that's when you know there's an anagram in the first place.)

EDIT: For 'Tom Marvolo Riddle', the AWAD anagram server says 74,669 possible anagrams. Some are quite ominous, eg. 'Dread Mil Volt Room'.

That, and an anagram that long can become almost anything. Exapmles: Armored doll vomit, odd immoral revolt, and my favorite, devil marmot drool. So even with the "marvolo", and even with the knowledge that it anagrams to something you're not going to spontaneously make that association unless you have prior reason to suspect voldemortiness.

odd immoral revolt

Of course - it's so obvious in retrospect! And it even encodes a hint about Quirrel's future activities too:

devil marmot drool

(If you squint, his resemblance to a devil marmot is clear.)

In fairness, I think the first anyone heard of "Marvolo" as Riddle's middle niddle -- er, I mean name -- was when he anagrammed it for Harry in the Chamber of Secrets. So it's not a big surprise that no one else guessed the anagram.

4HonoreDB10yYeah, it was a total cheat. That's why I put my anagram [http://lesswrong.com/lw/86m/fiction_hamlet_and_the_philosophers_stone/] in the Dramatis Personae.
2gwern10yIncidentally, what's happened with that play since I left my comment?
2HonoreDB10yMost of the stuff I was hoping for hasn't panned out thus far. The ebook gets a few downloads each week, mostly as referrals from the HPMoR fan art page.
2gwern10yThat's too bad. Maybe you should just re-release it for free so you at least get some readers?
2hairyfigment10yThe American version definitely says in the flashback, "she lived just long enough to name me -- Tom after my father, Marvolo after my grandfather." (And the book introduced him as T.M. Riddle.) I have no reason to think the British version lacked this info.
2gjm10yAm I misremembering? Isn't that after the point where he anagrammatizes it for Harry in the CoS?
2hairyfigment10yDefinitely not. First Riddle uses the diary as a Pensieve-style flashback machine and gives Harry this info, then Ginny steals the diary back, then we get to the CoS climax.
2gjm10yOh yes, you're right. So, yeah, a sufficiently ingenious reader might have noticed the (apparent) throwaway comment about the names, noticed that the letters of "Voldemort" are contained in "Tom Marvolo Riddle", and worked out the rest before the big reveal fifty pages later. I remain of the opinion that it's no big surprise if no one did.
2ChrisHallquist10yAh. And checking the Harry Potter wiki, I see I had forgotten just how far the "pureblood" house of Gaunt had fallen in canon.

It's dawned on me that one of the biggest themes of this fic may be the importance of being able to notice flaws in one's models of other people. Virtually every time something has gone wrong in one of Voldemort's plans, it is because he is weak in this area:

  • Failure to predict how Harry would react to seeing him (as Quirrell) trying to kill an Aurour in Azkaban
  • Failure to predict that Hermione would be suspicious of Mr. Incredibly Suspicious Person
  • Failure to see how far Harry would go to keep Hermione out of Azkaban
  • Failure to talk Hermione into leaving Hogwarts of her own free will
  • The initial failure to predict that people would not treat him very well in his hero role

Then there's Lucius, seeing everything in terms of self-interested plots, and concluding Harry is Voldemort because of it.

And finally, the bit in chapter 81 about how Harry is wiser than either Dumbledore or Voldemort, because he realizes he's able to realize when he doesn't understand people.

(I think one of those Azkabans should be a Hogwarts.)

There's also the two miscalculations in the speech before Yule- Harry's wish (which I think genuinely caught him by surprise) and Harry's publicly disagreeing with him (likewise).

1ChrisHallquist10yFixed the Azkaban/Hogwarts mistake. And yes, the Yule speech belongs there as well.
7Xachariah10yNot that the theme isn't present, but I almost consider that a general theme of fiction. Romeo and Juliet is enabled by the authorities on both sides not having accurate models of their respective scions. Of Mice and Men is about Lenny's inaccuracy in his model of George. Die Hard always ends because the villain does not have an accurate model of John McClane. I'm sure you could write a whole book about Death Note. etc. While it is present in HPMoR, it doesn't strike me as especially significant any more so than other fiction, compared to the many more overtly rationalist themes already present.
3trlkly10yI think you are erring when you assume that these are Voldemort's plans. They might be, but I don't think they have to be. The story seems to have deviated quite far from the original story. In fact, my reading is that Quirrell may actually be some good guy, destroying our expectations from the story. I mean, has his turban even been mentioned?
5pedanterrific10yChapter 12 (the Welcoming Feast):
2ChrisHallquist10yThe the first omake in chapter eleven, combined with the "philosophy of fanfiction" in the "more info," at HPMOR.com, strongly suggests that Voldemort is possessing Quirrell, but Quirrell isn't wearing a turban because Voldemort found some smarter method that wouldn't be trivially easy for Rational!Harry to figure out. Other major clues that something is up with Quirrell are: * His mysterious illness * Chapter 20 strongly hints that he turned the Pioneer Plaque into a horcrux. And those are just the clues we got in the first 20 chapters. In another comment in this thread, I made a rather long list of clues restricting myself to thinks Harry knows about.
3ygert9yMy idea for this is that Voldemort is on the back of Quirrell's head, but then the Quirrellmort composite polyjuiced himself back into Quirrell, so that he doesn't have the huge vulnerability of having a face on the back of his head. (This explains the mystery of why he blocked the polyjuice detection spell that was cast at him at the ministry.)
2RichardKennaway10yOn the other hand, Dumbledore and McGonagall both know some reason that Quirrell's nature is absolutely not to be inquired about by anyone. Dumbledore even evaded the Aurors' question on the subject. If the secret that they are guarding is that Q=V, then either they're all on V's side or they've been jinxed or blackmailed in some way. I don't find any of those possibilities credible. That implies that there is some other secret in play about Quirrell's nature. I don't think there's room for two such secrets, the other one being Q=V. More likely, Q contains a fragment of V but Q remains in control. Q's lapses into zombieness are a side effect of what it takes to stay in control. Inquiries are dangerous because of the possibility, as with Harry under the Sorting Hat, of awakening the fragment to self-awareness. Q is valuable to Dumbledore and the forces of light because of the insight he can provide into Voldemort's history and how Voldemort thinks. Perhaps control over that piece of V will also be useful for magical reasons.
3Normal_Anomaly10yThis is a better interpretation of that bit than I've seen before--I approve.

In the spirit of making people flee screaming out of the room, propelled by a bone-deep terror as if Cthulhu had erupted from the podium:

One thing I really enjoy about HPMoR is how it likes to show intelligent people taking unreasonable-seeming ( = actually reasonable) precautions. Amelia Bones in chapter 84, and also in the Azkaban arc, Dumbledore and Snape and even Minerva on various occasions... not quite sure why but I really enjoy reading that sort of a thing.

9Psy-Kosh10yInterestingly enough, that's also why I liked the older seasons of Mythbusters. You'd see much more of the planning/preparation for their tests, including all the safety considerations. ie, they'd do the usual "don't try this at home", but then you'd actually see just how much planning/etc it takes to do such things properly and safely.
0DSimon10yHm, yeah, I hadn't noticed that. They do still show the engineering and problem-solving process (where they laboriously set up an experiment, run it, and its results turn out to be completely useless), but not really the safety stuff that goes along with it anymore. Maybe it's because they are running more myths per show now that the build team pretty much does their own separate thing?

Nicholas Flamel (born 1340) could be almost as good a source of ancient spells lost to the Interdict of Merlin as Slytherin's Monster (exact creation date unknown, but Godric Gryffindor was alive in 1202 and Slytherin was a contemporary). He also seems to be dependent on Albus Dumbledore for protection; maybe it's time Dumbledore called in some quid pro quo if he hasn't already?

Nicholas Flamel (born 1340) could be almost as good a source of ancient spells lost to the Interdict of Merlin as Slytherin's Monster

From Chapter 77:

A single glance would tell any competent wizard that the Headmaster has laced that corridor with a ridiculous quantity of wards and webs, triggers and tripsigns. And more: there are Charms laid there of ancient power, magical constructs of which I have heard not even rumors, techniques that must have been disgorged from the hoarded lore of Flamel himself.

So Dumbledore's already using some of Flamel's knowledge in his efforts against Voldemort.

4gwern10yIf Dumbledore had that kind of leverage, he would have used it to either move or destroy the Philosopher's Stone.
[-][anonymous]10y 24

I'm experimenting with reproducing the sound of the really horrible humming in Mathematica. I haven't changed the duration of notes yet, but I've experimented with trying to make things sound as horribly off-key as possible. I've started out with just changing the pitches of the notes by adding normally-distributed noise. So far the main discovery I've made is that for greater effect, the magnitude of the change should be proportional to the length of the note. Any ideas for things to try?

I'm using MIDI sounds, which are the simplest to set up, but also have the drawback that every pitch must correspond to an integral semitone, which limits how horrible things can sound. Also, what is a good standard MIDI instrument for simulating humming?

[-][anonymous]10y 21

After several hours of experimentation, I have figured out what the trick is. Quirrell did nothing except hum the same song for four hours. The Auror's mind filled in the rest. After four hours of listening to the same fifty-one notes over and over again, I'd be calling code RJ-L20 too.

3loserthree10yOn the one hand, I once listened to "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" for three days straight. I had not stopped enjoying it when I stopped listening to it. (My roommates and guests did not share my enthusiasm, but I don't think they ever liked the song.) On the other hand, while attempting to transfer a customer to the appropriate party I once listened to "Unchained Melody" for almost an hour. I didn't snap (it was a mill of a call center, so public nervous breakdowns were not unheard of), but the piece gained the ability to infuriate me even without the extra hours and fuck-with-your-brain inconsistency.

I would think the real key to horrible humming would not be to have it be uniformly horrible, but so close to brilliant that the horrible notes punctuate and pierce the melody so completely that it starts driving you mad- a song filled with unresolved suspensions, minor 2nds where they just should not belong, that then somehow modulate into something which sounds normal just long enough for you to think you are safe, when it collapses again, and the new key is offensive both to the original and to the modulation. This is not just random sounds, this is purposeful song writing, with the intent to unsettle- in my mind, something like sondheim at his most twisted, but without any resolution ever.

7[anonymous]10yWell, first we're dealing with variations on a specific tune. The reason I suspect that random variations might work well is that if the probability of a change is sufficiently low, it would have exactly the effect you suggest: mostly the original "Lullaby and Goodnight", but with occasional horrible. Of course, if I were actually a cruel genius, I could do better, but it would be foolish of me to admit to being one. Another reason random changes might work well is that they are by definition unexpected. If I did something purposeful, it would have a pattern; the real Quirrell might break that pattern by observing his victim's reactions, but not having a pattern at all might also be an interesting thing to try.
1Percent_Carbon10yMy music theory is rusty and anyway underdeveloped. But I don't think individual notes can be disturbingly off key. It is the relationship between notes that takes them out of key. A single note of any frequency will produce harmonics with anything in the environment that is capable of responding, and thus create its own meager, on key accompaniment. I think MIDI keeps you from even approaching the kind of terrible close but not quite right tones you want to reproduce.
375th10yChanging one individual note in a monophonic tune absolutely can be horribly off key. Melody is harmony, and harmony is counterpoint; even with a single voice humming, if the tune is "classical" enough your brain understands intuitively where the chord changes are and what the bass line should be. You don't need microtonal pitches to violently defy people's expectations. (EDIT: Though you almost certainly do need microtonal pitches to precisely mimic the effects described in the text. But I think you certainly could do something horrible without them.)
1David_Gerard10ySee, I'm the sort of person that reads that and wants to buy that record. Probably from the small ads in the back of The Wire [http://thewire.co.uk/]. (Breaking musical rules sufficiently horribly is a well-established way to win at music, even if you're unlikely to get rich from it. Metal Machine Music [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_Machine_Music] actually got reissued and people actually bought it.)

I'm not sure how much music you know, and I'm not sure how much music Mathematica knows, so if this is all Greek or too hard, disregard it all:

Try different diatonic modes and different scales altogether. Switch from Major to Phrygian in the middle of a phrase. Switch to different sets of keys depending on whether consecutive tones are ascending or descending. Use a lot of Locrian mode, it is generally wrong-sounding. Try mapping diatonic scale degrees to octatonic ones somehow, and switch between the two octatonic scales at random. See if you can produce a portamento between two notes, and use it a lot when two notes are separated by only a semitone.

0Bill_McGrath10yAdditionally, switch tunings at random. This would be extremely difficult, but I'd imagine the disorientation caused would be related to how difficult it is. Switch from 12-ET to Pythagorean to Arabic to some obscure Baroque tuning, and base them all on different pitch centres.
1gjm10yWhen what you're listening to is purely melodic (like humming) I think such differences would either be unnoticeable or indistinguishable from just humming out of tune, to all but the most expert listeners. A whole Pythagorean comma -- i.e., all the out-of-tune-ness you can get from Pythagorean tuning, crammed into a single interval -- is only about a quarter of a semitone. A quarter-comma meantone "wolf fifth" is actually even worse than this, but it's still only about 1/3 of a semitone. If you have a computer with Python on it, you could grab the code from my discussion elsewhere in the thread with thescoundrel and experiment; I think you'll find that the sort of tuning-switching you describe would be altogether too subtle to be very effective as psychological warfare. [EDITED to add: in particular, I found that to my ears a quarter-tone error is quite often obtrusively unpleasant but a quarter-semitone is generally no worse than "a bit out of tune".]
0Bill_McGrath10yHmm. You're probably right. I've experimented with different tunings but I didn't play anything purely melodic. The effect is probably a lot more apparent when you're dealing with intervals rather than just pitches. That said, changing the central pitch that the temperament is based around makes the differences bigger again; but that's not too useful as a tool for actually creating this melody. I think it'd be noticeable for the arabic tuning system too; that's extremely different to Western temperaments.
8buybuydandavis10yEY is one hilarious fellow. He should do standup. The Horrible Humming was just too funny. And interesting too, because you wonder if it could work.

Tolerance for rejection is a much harder qualifier to meet for success in standup than being funny is. Just, you know, so you know.

I am reminded of the first time Australian musician Lester Vat did his famous show Why Am I A Pie? (there's audio and video there.) He got up on stage at a rock'n'roll pub - it was a "What Is Music?" weird noise festival, but no-one expected this - went up to the microphone, and for forty-five minutes, just repeated the words:

"Why ... am I ... a pie?"
"Why ... am I ... a pie?"
"Why ... am I ... a pie?"

After fifteen minutes people didn't even have the energy left to tell him to fuck off. By twenty minutes people were slamdancing to it.

Repetition. It's powerful stuff.

2kilobug10yThe Horrible Humming was great in itself, but it felt a bit artificial to me : why didn't the Auror just cast a Quietus charm ? Silencing prisoners with a gag is not that unusual in the Muggle world, and I would definitely except the wizards to use a Quietus charm or equivalent if a prisoner started to bother the Aurors with sound. It's not like Wizard Britain is very respectful of human rights of prisoners and that gags (mundane or magical ones) would be felt a non-acceptable behavior.

Quirrell would probably have sneezed it away, again.

6buybuydandavis10yListening and watching - monitoring - appears to be part of the job. Because of the humor, I'm willing to suspend belief a little on realism. It's not a fundamental plot point. But it is funny.
3Velorien10yTo cast the charm would be effectively to admit defeat before an unarmed prisoner (in a way that calling in a replacement according to standard procedure wouldn't), and also to be roundly mocked by other Aurors if they found out. Or so the Auror in question presumably thought.
1gwern10yCasting the charm is also an admission of defeat.
4q4-g03olf10yYou might check out a program called Max/MSP if you want to get really deep into this stuff. It handles conversions between MIDI and audio signal pretty elegantly. Other ideas.. You might try making notes that change pitch continuously You might try putting the breaks in parts of the music where we expect it to continue. MIDI "doo" or other synth voice instruments tend to sound pretty maddening on their own without much special effort. Maybe layer in helicopter sounds or applause to simulate breathiness?
1David_Gerard10yThe FluidSynth sound fonts are quite nice within their instruments' usual range, but do try going up or down a bit far for great lulz.
2Bill_McGrath10yThis is might be my favourite comment thread on all of Less Wrong. Terrible pity that the poster left! EDIT: Semi-relevant [http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxMIAMI-Scott-Rickard-The-Wor]. EDIT 2: I have a great love for some technically awful music that I find still entertains me loads. I inflict The Shaggs [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InpCzx5OQRU] on my friends in college every excuse I get.
2Bill_McGrath10yWhen I was reading that part, all I could think was "Man, I have to try do that..." There are ways around this: a program called Scalar allows you to build microtonally tuned scales and set them up to be controlled by MIDI. Also, Native Instruments' Kontakt allows you to change the tuning of instruments and map the new tuning to a keyboard. Scalar is free but hard to use: I was never actually able to figure out how to set it up to hear the scales I'd built - but my laptop seems to have a grudge against MIDI devices anyway. Kontakt is a lot easier to use but costs a couple of hundred euro.

I've always had a soft spot for Quirrell. It's made me blind to a lot of his flaws, so I've tried to actively focus on his evil actions and how much I would hate someone doing that to me. But this latest chapter made me love him all over again. Even though I realize it probably contains huge amounts of misrepresentation if not outright lies.

I'm worried I may be turning Bad.

OTOH, this may just be superb writing, to make the villain so completely relate-able. Either way, every time a chapter goes Quirrell-heavy I swoon. Glad we got one in the current arc so I don't have to wait longer.

I'm worried I may be turning Bad.

You need not trouble yourself. Examining Quirrell's actions has merely made you realize how much you would like to have his power. "Bad" is just a label applied by those too weak to seize that power.

Do not fear the dark side - we have cookies!

6NancyLebovitz10yIs he actually loyal to his students or Up To Something?.

Could be both. In any case I think it's a fair assumption that Quirrell is always up to something.

3Paulovsk10yThis is driving me crazy. I never know when he's doing evil or not. This chapter, for example, led me to believe he was doing good at some point of his life. Although my rationalist-beginner-side is screaming at me he is Voldemort or something, I can't help but sympathize with that point.
8Eugine_Nier10yUm, his "good" deed consisted of attempting to set up a fake ultimate hero [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FakeUltimateHero] and getting really pissed of when people didn't fall for it.
2Velorien10yWe don't actually know that yet. It's only a popular fan theory.
2Sheaman377310yVelorien should not be downvoted. He asked himself the fundamental question of rationality: and the fact of the matter is, we don't know that that's true, it is a falsifiable theory with supporting evidence and multiple proponents but we don't know yet. Upvoted.
9buybuydandavis10yI think he takes his responsibilities seriously. His evil comes from his condemnation of the weakness, stupidity, cowardice, and irresponsibility of others. He lives up to his standards, but others don't.

I'm confident that is how Quirrell is meant to appear. But the villain's real face may be a bit of a riddle.

7loserthree10yYou know you love it.
3Alsadius10yI do, that's the worst part.
1ChrisHallquist10yI agree that he takes his responsibilities seriously. But I think his evil comes more from the fact that he almost certainly had some plot in mind when he freed Bellatrix, and the fact that he tried to get Hermione fed to Dementors because he didn't like the influence she was having on Harry.
3buybuydandavis10yWho doesn't have plots in this book? I hardly think that's a test for evil in this book - more like a test for intelligence. And we don't know that he tried to get Hermione fed to the Dementors. When I try to read his mind on that point, I think his main goal was to get Harry to turn against the government of magical Britain - and it seemed like a fine success in those terms, at least in the moment. See previous comment http://lesswrong.com/lw/bfo/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/68tv [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bfo/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/68tv] Assuming that it was all a Quirrell plot - which I do at this point - he could also have redeemed Hermione at the last minute with some evidence after she was condemned, and his point with magical Britain had been made. And he could get some Good Guy points with Harry for saving Hermione. Maybe not too, but it's hardly certain he would have allowed her to die.
3Normal_Anomaly10yI don't think Hermione plots, at least not outside the wargame. Also, Quirrell would want her influence to be removed from Harry. Much as I hate to admit it, this would probably have extended to allowing her to die.
2Percent_Carbon10yNot the best test. Ron is intelligent. Ron does not appear to plot, only form and employ strategy. Like he did with Harry against the Dementor. Like he claimed he intended to do with the auror he threw an AK at. Like he did in the Draco the Drop Lord Theatre incident. We should be suspicious of that one, as well. Like he did as Voldemort when he set his Forces of Evil up to self destruct after he left the game, thereby sparing the rest of the world.
8ChrisHallquist10yRemember: Quirrell can care about his students any time he likes, because he's not Good.
8Alsadius10yOr perhaps it's more accurately phrased as "I can show up the good guys any time I want to make them look bad, because I'm not constrained by the same fear of ill consequences that they are".
2loserthree10yUpvoted for letting me know I'm not the only one.

"But I -" Her excellent memory helpfully replayed it for the thousandth time, Draco Malfoy telling her with a sneer that she'd never beat him when he wasn't tired, and then proceeding to prove just that, dancing like a duelist between the warded trophies while she frantically scrambled, and dealing the ending blow with a hex that sent her crashing against the wall and drew blood from her cheek - and then - then she'd -

This seems to suggest that her memories of the duel are a fabrication (or the "Draco" she was fighting was someone else under the influence of polyjuice). Draco has no particular reason to further provoke her and was genuinely unsure whether he could beat her. It doesn't seem obvious why anyone would do that if there was going to be a genuine duel anyway, though. Maybe the the genuine memories were just touched up a bit? Alternatively, why might Draco behave as in that memory when there's no one else around? (the behavior would have made more sense for the second, public duel)

I notice that the only thing we're told about Hermione's appearance in Chapter 78 is that she has bags under her eyes, no mention of a cut on her cheek.

2Vaniver10yThat seems like the sort of thing wizards would heal as a matter of course.
3pedanterrific10yNot first-years. (I'm referring to the scene at breakfast before the arrest.)
2Vaniver10yAh, okay. I was thinking at the trial. A slight cut could heal up in the ~eight hours between the fight and breakfast, especially if she managed to sleep, but that does seem like a clue that the memory is fake.
3Percent_Carbon10yReally? Papercuts bother me for a couple days at least. Something about a witch's constitution, perhaps.

I suggest you reroll. I heal paper cuts in a couple of hours.

I suggest you reroll.

Thanks, but nah. I'm a healthy white male American with a middle class background and an intelligence greater than one standard deviation above the mean. Slow healing wounds are not enough to reroll in the face of the great risk of a less privileged life.

1thomblake10yBoth statements are true of me, depending on what's meant by "heal". Depending on where the papercut is (sensitive place, callus, etc) it might stop bothering me long after it's any risk of bleeding. Upvoted for this suggestion.

I needed chocolate to recover from reading this chapter. ;_;

You warm my terrible heart.

[-][anonymous]10y 22

Harry MUST triumph over Quirrel, and he must do so by being more moral, not more intelligent.

That doesn't sound right. If you're looking for ways Harry could win, why not take Harry's advice and draw up a list of his relative advantages? He does have them - knowledge of superrationality, knowledge of science, ability to empathize with non-psychopaths, to name three - and they're likely to be part of the solution.

I will say this much, Mr. Potter: You are already an Occlumens, and I think you will become a perfect Occlumens before long. Identity does not mean, to such as us, what it means to other people. Anyone we can imagine, we can be; and the true difference about you, Mr. Potter, is that you have an unusually good imagination. A playwright must contain his characters, he must be larger than them in order to enact them within his mind. To an actor or spy or politician, the limit of his own diameter is the limit of who he can pretend to be, the limit of which face he may wear as a mask. But for such as you and I, anyone we can imagine, we can be, in reality and not pretense. While you imagined yourself a child, Mr. Potter, you were a child. Yet there are other existences you could support, larger existences, if you wished. Why are you so free, and so great in your circumference, when other children your age are small and constrained? Why can you imagine and become selves more adult than a mere child of a playwright should be able to compose? That I do not know, and I must not say what I guess. But what you have, Mr. Potter, is freedom.

No one seems to be commenting on the way that dumbledore identified quirrel to the wards. It seemed to me to be a very clear hint that someone else was somehow within that circle and so is also recognised as the defence professor, has top level Hogwarts permissions etc. Possibly Mr hat and cloak?

9Nominull10yIt's possible, but not everything that's possible is true. You'd think there'd only be able to be one Defense Professor, especially if that position was referred to with the definite article, and so properly coded wards would throw an exception if his identifier did not uniquely pick out an individual.
9Percent_Carbon10yIt means that he won't show up as Tom Riddle or Voldemort or Quinirius Quirrell or Jeffe Japes or Scion of X on the Marauder Map. He'll show up as The Defense Professor.

I wonder how long it'll be till everyone in Hogwarts realizes that the whole recent attempted-murder plot was designed by Quirrel for the sole purpose of having both Slytherin and Ravenclaw win the House Cup at the same time (because when Slytherin and Ravenclaw lose students mid-terms, the school rules are ambiguous about whether the points earned by those students should be counted towards winning the House Cup)

I'm expecting the plot to have also contained as a crucial component a Golden Snitch with a delayed-action memory charm, which will cause the Ministry to overreact by banning Golden Snitches on school grounds, thus fullfilling Harry's wish of Snitch-less Quidditch as well.

I'm only half-joking with the above.

9Lavode10yQuidditch really nags me, because the team you are playing with has nearly zero relevance. And it is so unnessesary, even if Rowling desired a position on the team of key importance, the way the snitch works is still wrong - If it was worth zero points, but catching it ended the game, then seekers are still key, they just cannot win entirely on their own anymore, and the job would require more than just "flies fast",
[-][anonymous]10y 18

Or if catching the snitch gave you the option of ending the game or of having it re-released after a short random time. That way a seeker of the losing team could still engage in snitch denial other than trying to crash his counterpart into the ground.

1kilobug10yTo be honest there is still a small impact of the rest of the team on the game : the Beaters can use the Bludgers against the seekers (so they do interact with seekers and affect their chance of catching the Snitch), and there are occasional cases in which the Quaffle point difference is high enough so the Snitch doesn't decide the game (the final of the World Cup in cannon). But yes, since the first time I heard about the rules of Quidditch, I was "gah, that just doesn't make sense - make the Snitch worth much less, like 30, at the very least".
6Velorien10yHypothesis: Once upon a time, the wizarding world had no popular sport of its own, and Quidditch was more akin to aerial dueling, a one-on-one contest of skill. Then, someone realised all the various benefits/opportunities offered by popular sports (perhaps by watching the Muggle world), and added extra rules and a team element to give the crowds something to watch while the Seekers continued their long periods of boredom interspersed with sharp bursts of activity. Quidditch today generates a massive market in terms of matches, merchandise, contracts, celebrity culture etc. - a market that benefits the economy as a whole and certain key segments of it especially. It also serves various other purposes common to team sports, such as channeling the volatile energy of young people, and creating a harmless outlet for tension between countries (harmless in theory, anyway - we don't have riot statistics for the wizarding workl). Whoever shaped Quidditch into its modern form didn't need a balanced game - they just needed something to fill the sport-shaped gap in wizard society. Such a hypothesis would explain why Quidditch is so poor in game design terms - unbalanced scoring, disproportionately high risk of injury and matches of unpredictable length don't matter quite so much if your goal is to pander to the audience rather than make a fair test of the competitors' skills.

Canonically the situation was quite reversed, the Snitch (or rather it's predecessor, the Snidget) having been introduced to the already existing Quidditch game by a noble's quirk. I doubt this is different for MoR.

8Velorien10yAlas. I have not read any of the follow-up works, and did not realise that they would persist in demolishing any attempt to inject credibility into the Potterverse.
0Normal_Anomaly10yI think the canon explanation is about as credible as yours, and they're both pretty good. "A typical competitive ballgame got merged with competitive bird-hunting" is a decent way it could have happened.

Harry is totally schizophrenic in MOR though. He's got all of the Founders in his head.

You seem to be working from a unified view of the mind in which there is one single personality with one single voice, and deviations from this structure are pathological. I don't think this is accurate.

Even if it was, it is common for people to hold internal dialogues, and not unusual for patterns to develop where certain kinds of thought are given certain labels. I don't think this says anything special about Harry, except that he has a rich and vibrant inner life.

Also, a Public Service Announcement: "schizophrenia" is an umbrella term for a long list of possible symptoms whose main common feature is disconnection from reality or warped perception of it. You are thinking of Dissociative Identity Disorder (commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), which is a completely different thing altogether.


"Not this again!" Minerva said. "Albus, it was You-Know-Who, not you, who marked Harry as his equal. There is no possible way that the prophecy could be talking about you!"

The old wizard nodded, but his eyes still seemed distant, fixed only on the road head.

This is another brick in the wall of the Prophecy and Potter massacre being a setup by Dumbledore.

6[anonymous]10yNot a nail in the coffin? Evidence for and against Dumbledore and Voldemort as authors of the prophecy: +Dumbledore * Was the apparent beneficiary of the prophecy -Dumbledore * Seems to have a world model that includes such entities as "heroes" and "evil", and is ripe for exploitation * Gives every outward sign of believing the prophecy is genuine * Gave Trelawney a magical clock that's probably a listening device +Voldemort * Was the actual beneficiary of the prophecy, if he pretended to lose * Suddenly has a history of setting up both sides of a conflict (My reaction to Ch. 84 was: ...really? You waited until you were half a million words into the fic before introducing this? Really?) * Has a history of creating orphaned heroes of destiny * Would have been the one who sent Snape to overhear the prophecy * Chose Harry and not Neville as his target, then allowed Snape to learn the meaning of the prophecy and that he intended to attack the Potters -Voldemort * Reacted strongly to a mention of prophecy once, possibly because he takes prophecies seriously * Could have defeated Dumbledore by conventional means * Should not be trying plots as complicated as this one Quirrell has indicated that he plans to go to war with the Muggles and rule the entire world. If Percent_Carbon [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/bmx/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6al1] is right, and "Tom didn't want to be Hitler. Tom wanted to actually win", he may think that conquering Britain as Voldemort would cost him the larger war. He needs a hero, and his first hero failed. So for eight years afterward, he continued to build up the legend of Voldemort, slowly grinding down the opposition, and then, when all hope seemed lost, a prophecy struck like a bolt of lightning and Voldemort was defeated by a baby in his crib. On the evidence so far, I've switched to Team Voldemort. You were right the first time. Dumbledore could still be responsible for th

Suddenly has a history of setting up both sides of a conflict

Hmm? We have no good evidence to distinguish between the following two hypotheses:

  • Voldemort was playing both sides of things up until 1973, when he dropped one side for some reason
  • When Voldemort embarked on the Quirrell deception, he knew investigation would reveal that he wasn't actually Quirrell, so he deliberately dropped hints that would deceive investigators into believing he was a hero who, in reality, died back in 1973.

All we know is Quirrell has let hints drop that he was the hero who disappeared. There is no reason to expect that any of his hints are anything other than deliberate lies. If a competent investigation would discover that Qurrell's not really Qurrell, then the deception absolutely requires a second layer to last the year, so people like Bones can feel satisfied that they've discovered "the truth" about Quirrell without suspecting he's Voldemort. The existence of this second-layer deception now does not provide any evidence that the same deception existed eighteen years earlier.

[-][anonymous]10y 14

There is no reason to expect that any of his hints are anything other than deliberate lies.

Quirrell certainly talks about the need to act exactly as the person you're impersonating would act. His speech to Hermione would be no evidence at all if it were delivered by someone who practised what Quirrell preaches.

But that isn't Quirrell. Far from putting up a perfect facade, Quirrell's mask is constantly slipping. He "makes a game of lying with truths, playing with words to conceal his meanings in plain sight." His dialogue is peppered with hints to his identity, his past, and his intentions. Almost everything he says about himself is a clue.

His love of the killing curse and his intent to kill. His childhood ambition to become a Dark Lord. The Muggle dojo. The Pioneer plaque. His intention to crush Rita Skeeter. Repeated use of the word 'Riddle'. His willingness to be identified as having eaten 'death'. His wish for Britain to grow strong under a strong leader. The story of Merope's enslavement of Tom Riddle Sr. His theft of Quirrell's body using incredibly dark magic.

I think you've confused the actual character of Quirrell with the master of deception that he claims to b... (read more)

4Percent_Carbon10yYeah we do. When EY writes that the heroic Scion of X vanished while traveling Ablania in 45 he is telling the readers that Voldemort took him by making a shout out to what happened to Quirrell in canon. The Ablanian Shuffle is good evidence.
0see10yI guess it depends on your definition of "good". Care to quantify yours?
3Percent_Carbon10yI guess you should quantify your own definition of the word, perhaps in the same post in which you ask someone else to quantify theirs, since you used it first. I'd say p>0.95 that "Went on a graduation tour abroad and disappeared while visiting Albania." is meant to communicate something to the readers that it does not communicate to the characters. I'd say p>0.75 that the thing it is meant to communicate is that the hero was compromised by Riddle, like Quirrell was in canon. I don't expect it to be the same. Voldemort's shade in canon may have had possession capacity that young Tom Riddle did not. I'd say p>0.5 that the hero was replaced, that Tom Riddle physically played both roles in his own flesh. Your turn.
3see10y(I asked you to quantify what you meant by "good" because I was suspecting you were treating a probability of, say, 30% as "good", and we were getting our terms crossed. Obviously not.) Whereas I'd put that at roughly p=0.25. I mean, sure, it might be trying to communicate that, but, I've got: "Reader! She's about to undercover the Defense Professor is Voldemort!" as a message intended to be sent to the reader but not the characters at about p=0.25. "The heroic Slytherin discovered something about Riddle in Albania in 1945, and spent his time trying to follow up on it. When Voldemort came back openly to Britain, so did he. What the hero learned in 1945, or in the years between 1945-1970, is going to be important to Harry's defeat of Voldemort, and here's the hint that keeps it from coming entirely out of the blue" (or variations of the theme) as about p=0.15 "The 'heroic' Slytherin died in 1945 in a confrontation with Riddle/Voldemort. In 1970, an ambitious person unconnected to Voldemort then tried to exploit the Voldemort's rise as a chance to make himself leader of Britain under the dead man's name, and died or quit in 1973. Voldemort then found it useful to try the same con as a backup for Quirrel." at roughly p=0.15 And, "Eilizer is planning to do something else with it, that I haven't thought of" at about p=0.2
1Percent_Carbon10yFantastic. I dismiss the bait and switch because the passage does not seem to lay down that tease; p0.8 he would clean out other things that only exist to support his ill conceived tease. There isn't a WHAM paragraph with few words surrounded by white space. It's just not built like a bait and switch shocker. While reading, I thought that Scion of X did fight Riddle and did as Hermione suggested: And after Voldemort killed him he kept the identity close because things like that can be useful. But I know that I am gullible and literal (p>0.2 that I under value literal interpretations after an alternative is available), so I dismissed that as soon as I thought up an explanation that worked on a more in character plot. p<0.01 I dismiss the unknown, unrelated, unremarked third party because of Conservation of Detail. p<0.01 I don't have any other speculation worth mentioning, so "something else" gets p<0.25.
2see10yIf 1970-1973 was a con by Voldemort, why was it given up in 1973? Surely he expected it to take longer than a couple of years to begin with, didn't he?
5Percent_Carbon10yI don't know how long he thought it would take, but it sounds like he had no idea how hard it would suck.
0pedanterrific10yWhat other things? That is, if the bait-and-switch was intended, he would've had to come up with an actual character that fit all those facts as well, and it seems like "he spent seven years sleeping in the same room as Voldemort" is a non-trivial detail to change.
1Percent_Carbon10yThe Albanian Shuffle. See says there is a real chance that it is mentioned just to string the reader along and make us think Bones is about to say that Quirrell is Riddle. I dismiss this because EY changed the date, which comes at the top of the passage, just so readers wouldn't jump to think Bones is talking about Riddle. If EY took such a step to prevent the tease that Bones was about to name Riddle, then I would expect EY would not leave things in that were only there to build up that tease. So the Albanian Shuffle is dismissively unlikely to be referenced for the sake of making the reader think Bones was about to name Riddle. I really don't know how you could think that in the first place unless you first read that paragraph after already thinking that Bones was going to name Riddle.
0Random83210yBefore the date change, there was a legitimate chance that the reader would come away from the discussion thinking that the person Bones was describing actually was Riddle, and that both Bones and Quirrell understood her to have been talking about Riddle. Which if unintended is a far greater problem than "thinking Bones was about to name Riddle, then it turns out no". This was, in fact, my reading when I was actually going through the chapter. (tl;dr: It's not a "tease" that Bones was about to name Riddle that's the problem, the problem is that it wasn't resolved with a clear indication that they're not talking about Riddle) Changing the date fixes this because the reader can go look it up and realize that it can't be Riddle after all.
0Percent_Carbon10y"OhmygodohmygodOHMYGOD! Bones is going to figure out Quirrell is Voldemort! OHMYGOD! What's he going to do?!?! He's surrounded by aurors, he's in DMLE headquarters!... Oh my GOD! Those aurors are so screwed!!" looks up Tom Riddle online because that's totally what all readers would do "Oh, hm. That's not Riddle then. I wonder who it is?" ... Are you really suggesting that EY means the reader to do this? He said he wasn't going to lie to us anymore. See's low-probability theory of tease and WHAM involves EY lying to his readers, but your take on it that they were supposed to be totally tricked until the look it up online (?!?!) is turns that up to ridiculous levels.
0Random83210yThe fact that the conversation doesn't end with her actually saying Riddle is what would prompt readers to look it up. Are you saying that readers that are still with the fic after eighty chapters haven't learned enough about rationality to take two minutes to verify an assumption after noticing they are confused? If that meant he couldn't ever make a conversation that seems to be going one way but turns out to be different a few paragraphs later, it would lead to a VERY boring story. P.S. My point was that the problem that EY fixed was that the obvious thing to check (looking up canon!Riddle's biography) leads to an apparent confirmation.
1FAWS10yThat would only have changed if the year he started Hogwarts changed, which it did not. The birth date didn't change by a whole year, just from late enough in 1926 to enter Hogwarts in 1938 to early enough in 1927 to enter Hogwarts in that same year.
0pedanterrific10yYes. Exactly. That's my point. (Not sure why you said this.)
0FAWS10y(I lost track of what you were trying to argue, and the comment in isolation seemed to suggest that the non-trivial change had happened. A clause like "so the fact that this was carefully kept constant is evidence in favor of ..." would have helped. )
4loserthree10yOn the contrary, the reference to Albania is almost certainly a clue to the reader that the hero was replaced.
2buybuydandavis10ySo let me follow along. It seems like one extra level to what I've been thinking in terms of plotting. The whole Voldemort Dark Lord war is just part of a bigger plot. First he creates the Villain of Voldemort. Then he creates a prophecy about a child destined to kill him - the eventual Hero. Dumbledore walks right into it by trying to use the prophecy as a trap to kill Tom, with Lily sacrificing herself in a dark ritual as the trap. So Tom gleefully takes the bait to create his Hero, and either is really diminished, or just goes on vacation for a few years waiting for Harry to get older. But clearly he also does something to Harry - creating the ultra resourceful Dark Side which itself contributes to the Harry Legend. And then Dumbledore grooms his hero as well, because he believes that he is destined to be the Hero because of what Voldemort has done to him. IN the end, he'll lose to Harry again, once Harry is well on his way to being the Light Lord, but he'll upload into Harry and become the Hero ruler instead of the Dark Lord, until he uses up Harry's body. The end. Another point in favor of this is Quirrell's talk with Harry after the bully climax, where he said Harry has everything Quirrell had ever wanted - the love, fear, respect, and admiration of everyone in school. This is exactly what he is after again - to rule and be feared, loved, respected, and admired. You may or may not be going for the Upload bit. That's a little bit of an evolution for me. I considered taking over Good Harry as a target of opportunity for Voldemort. That even the Voldemort persona is part of the scheme is new. But I've got a new shiny toy. Evil for the Sake of Evil. In his contempt for the stupidity and weakness of people, I have a hard time seeing him even wanting to be the Hero anymore. He's now the Joker. He's Lord Foul - Corruption. He wants to corrupt Good. Corrupt Dumbledore into things like killing Narcissa. Corrupt Harry into being a Dark Lord. Corrupt Hermione and
7Viliam_Bur10yI think it's the other way: he wants good people to be seen as fallible and fallen. My model of him is like: "So when I tried to be the hero, people disrespected me, but for some reason the same people respect Dumbledore, Hermione, Harry. Why?! Oh, they are probably better at signalling. So let's manipulate them into difficult situations where even if they choose good, it will either ruin them or send bad signals." He does not want to redefine the words with capital letters. That's a fool's game. He is just jealous that other people succeeded in having a good image, where he failed despite his cool plans. He wants good people to have bad image, so that he can become a person with the best image, which is his preferred way to rule the world; probably because it seems safer in long run than being an evil overlord. I believe his frustration at his inability to become a credible hero. But at least he is learning. He has learned that "a single super-heroic action" is not a good plan, so now he is trying "a child with magical destiny" plan. He cynically believed that he could fool all people; now he is even more cynical, because he believes that he cannot fool them by something that makes sense (killing a few Death Eaters and saving a princess? meh.), but could do it by a superstition (to kill Voldemort while being a baby? cool, and nobody suspects anything!).
5loserthree10ySome time after Chapter 38 showed us that Lucius thinks HJPEV is Voldemort, I took his position seriously and looked over the rest of the story. If Voldemort is the hero, what is Quirrell? I figured he was the Basilisk. And if Quirrell was not the antagonist, who was? I figured it was Dumbledore because the opposite of rational is insane, not stupid. I now think Quirrell is Voldemort and Dumbledore is not especially insane, but I wish I had thought to reinterpret the prophesy without Voldemort as the obvious bad guy back then. There is so much potential there.

I don't actually go to meetups, but Harry's comments about anti-conformity training made me wonder if it'd be worth trying.

You could retest the original experiment, see if lesswrongians can avoid it through knowledge of the effect.

You could mock obviously true statements to practice withstanding opposition.

You could practice the ability to do harmless but nonconformist things to gain the ability to do so if the situation called for something unusual, but you might otherwise be too conformist or embarassed. (each meeting attendee shall order a coffee whilst wearing the ceremonial tea-cosy!). I suspect some of this overlaps with PUA a little and easily veers into general confidence building.

I don't know if rehearsals would do any good, but you could go through the motions of not complying with the Milgram experiment, making people handle little fake emergencies...

You could wonder if EY is planning things like this for the Center for Modern Rationality.

I don't know if rehearsals would do any good

Really, this is how I feel. I'd be really surprised if a setup like that actually worked. I'm not sure Harry is supposed to actually believe (with any confidence) that it works for Chaos. Ultimately you know and everyone else knows that it's just a charade, and that really your "nonconforming" is just conforming one level below surface: You stand there and take abuse that you know to be insincere, and then get a pat on the back about it later, just like everyone else did on their turn.

Hopefully CMR has a better exercise in mind. A really good anti-Asch training tool seems like a great thing to have.

You could mock obviously true statements to practice withstanding opposition.

The danger with this seems to be that you'll also be developing skills for attacking correct positions. It's training you to develop tactics for entrenching yourself in incorrect beliefs. Also it seems to lend itself to the view of arguments as status conflicts rather than group truth-investigation (though I suppose we do need to at least practice how to handle arguments with people who do perceive them this way).

I disagree. I think it would have a very good chance to work.

To a perfect Bayesian, the importance of an act is not what it looks like on the surface, but the state of the world that makes such an act possible. Unfortunately (or fortunately in this case), human minds are not perfectly Bayesian.

To the human mind, merely resembling another thing is enough for the mind to form connections and associations between the two. This is why public speaking courses can improve people's abilities and lessen their fears of public speech. Even though people know they're just speaking in front of a class who is obligated to receive the speech well, their mind naturally reduces the anxiety they feel for any future speaking engagements. The mind says "eh, it's close enough. I can do this," just like how anti-conformity training should fool the mind into considering it 'close enough' to real disagreement. Speech classes don't not work perfectly, just like chaos training (I assume) doesn't work perfectly, but it's pretty good.

Anti-conformity training seems practically identical to a proven training method, and thus I rate it highly likely to work.

Well, I guess it's just an empirical question where we differ in predictions. Personally I don't think the analogy with public speaking is very strong, because public speaking classes are actually public speaking. People stand up and speak in front of lots of people, that's just what it is.

Upon reflection though, it does seem like there's one way that it might help, which is that it might help you figure out how to go about non-conformity, what exactly you can do or say in such a situation. So even if your mind doesn't buy into the charade, roleplaying with good partners might help you figure out ways to navigate a non-conformity situation. Having those methods worked out in advance might make you less hesitant to speak out in real world situations, but only to the extent that your hesitation is about not knowing what exactly to say or do (as opposed to fear of social punishment, the usual explanation for Asch's results).

What I've always wondered about with Asch's experiment is how much of a difference a small monetary incentive (say, $1 per correct answer) would make. It seems like the experiment is odd in that there is no incentive to give correct answers, but at least a potential or perceived social incentive to give conforming ones. This seems like it would be relevant to our disagreement because it's a question of whether the situation becomes different when something is actually on the line. Unfortunately I can't seem to google up any examples of variations like this.

4Solvent10yI would be really interested in the result of this experiment.
2[anonymous]10yThere is a difference. Even if the class (during a public speaking course) is obligated to receive the speech well, you know that their approval might be insincere and that's still scary. In the proposed nonconformity exercise you would be sure that the other participants don't really disapprove.

I think that if you've got a deeply habitual inhibition against firmly disagreeing with people, even a known-to-be-simulated experience of breaking the inhibition can help quite a bit.

Based on my own experiences being a lone dissenter, the main thing that has allowed me to stand up and maintain my position consistently in the face of uniform opposition and derision, was not expecting much of everyone else in the first place.

For example, in an introductory logic course, when the professor made a mistake, which everyone else in the class agreed with, and I was the sole person to disagree, and attempt to explain it in the face of the entire class brushing me off and laughing about how I thought I knew better when the answer was so obvious to everyone else, it didn't seem weird to me at all that every other person would make the same mistake and I would be the only one to notice it. It wasn't confusing to me, and my success in showing the professor in a couple minutes after class that she had been mistaken after all confirmed for me that my expectations were on track.

Conforming to the beliefs of the crowd is perfectly sensible behavior, in domains where you have no reason to expect yourself to be more accurate than anyone else. Learning to disregard conforming instincts completely is a bad idea, because a lot of the time, it really will be everyone else who's right,... (read more)

6Viliam_Bur10yHaving an experience of being right where everyone else is wrong, is good for breaking the fear of nonconformity. When I was a child, I participated on a science olympiad and on one question I gave an answer that seemed trivially wrong, but in fact it was correct. (There were two objects of different size, made of same material, balanced on a lever, then both immersed in water. How will the balance chance?) Everyone thought I was wrong, and the official solution confirmed it. Then the organizers realized they made a mistake, and confirmed my solution. Since then I knew (also on emotional level) that it is possible to be right, even if everyone else disagrees. Sometimes it is wise to keep quiet, because the social consequences of nonconformity are real, but being alone does not make one automatically wrong. It was a good lesson.
3Percent_Carbon10yOn the other hand, the fact that you were comfortable being the lone dissenter while untrained in resisting conformity may indicate that your social wiring is atypical. Some people in some situations may interpret that difference as a socioemotional flaw.
2pedanterrific10yFrom www.hpmor.com/notes/82/:
2mstevens10yHmm, interesting. I may well have read that and forgotten the Harry reference, I knew he was working on exercises.
1TrE10yI doubt whether it's good to do actual anti-conformity training because it might make you too non-conforming (i.e. sticking to wrong positions). Instead, maybe it'd be better to do training on how to use others' opinions as evidence, similar to calibration training. The approach of anti-conformity training sounds good, but I'd stray in some statements which are actually false, the goal here is to actually get to the right conclusions whether the rest of society is right or wrong.

Given that places can be made unplottable, I'd guess identities can be made unknowable. Uncertainty in potterverse can be a quality of the thing itself...

Harry nodded. " At least nobody's going to try hexing you, not after what the Headmaster said at dinner tonight. Oh, and Ron Weasley came up to me, looking very serious, and told me that if I saw you first, I should tell you that he's sorry for having thought badly of you, and he'll never speak ill of you again."

"Ron believes I'm innocent?" said Hermione.

"Well... he doesn't think you're innocent, per se..."

Ron approves of trying to murder Draco Malfoy?

Ron approves of trying to murder Draco Malfoy?

I'm pretty sure even canon Ron would at least say he approves of killing Draco.

9taelor10yIf I recall correctly, canon!Ron has admitted to fantasizing about murdering Draco on several occasions. The one that comes most readily to mind was in book 4, when they were discussing Durmstrang's location in the far north, and Ron comments wistfully about how easy it would be to push Draco off a glacier and make it look like an accident.
1trlkly10yHe does hate him very much, remember. And your idea makes a lot more sense than min: Ron alone was smart enough to be scared of Hermione-the-murderer that he wanted to get on her good side.
0Bugmaster10yEither that, or he's just in love with Hermione, and wants to support her in any way he can.

Why wasn't one of the first things Harry did when returning from the trial exposing Hermione to the light of the True Patronus while she was still unconscious (it looks like it didn't happen at least)? He already knows it restores recent Dementor damage, has a plausible reason to know in that he experienced it himself under Dumbledore's eyes and could have told Dumbledore to secure his cooperation. Is his anger at Dumbledore getting in the way?

Since I don't anticipate getting a chance to point it out inside the fic itself, and the hint is unreasonably subtle:

When Hermione woke the third time (though it felt like she'd only closed her eyes for a moment) the Sun was even lower in the sky, almost fully set. She felt a little more alive and, strangely, even more exhausted. This time it was Professor Flitwick who was standing next to her bed and shaking her shoulder, a tray of steaming food floating next to him. For some reason she'd thought Harry Potter ought to be leaning over her bedside, but he wasn't there. Had she dreamed that? She couldn't remember dreaming.

Harry didn't think of it instantly, but given a little time...

5Merdinus10yPossibly a rubbish first post, but this highlight draws attention to something rather misleading: she was more exhausted? Reading that originally rang bells in my head at the same pitch as Hermione being memory-charmed. Then, I played with the idea that Harry taught her the True Patronus then obliviated her, for all of two seconds. Mind circles.
3MixedNuts10ySeeing this before the parent, I thought you meant kissing, which worked on Harry when he was demented, and references fairy tales.
5buybuydandavis10yAnd I hope the next thing he does is to teach her how to cast the True Patronus.
1MarkusRamikin10yHow confident are we that it's even teachable? Perhaps the thing she should be taught is Occlumency, for both her own sake and so that she can keep secrets. Though I'm not sure that would be possible at her age and with her disposition...
2buybuydandavis10yHarry's sure. EDIT: I think he also believed he could teach Malfoy.
[-][anonymous]10y 17

This chapter significantly increased my probability estimate that Quirrell was entirely behind the plot to > 90%. Also, the humming torture was awesome, but not helping his case.

Also, who the hell was Bones' story referring to? That whole section heavily confused me.

The humming torture sounds similar to Vetinari's clock, only taken to the next level. I liked it too.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, the memetic attack is also similar to "The Book" in Anathem, though the delivery vector is different.

Same. The part about disappearing in Albania is from canon-Quirrell's backstory - that's where he ran into Voldemort's wandering ghost, so it's interesting that in MoR he supposedly went there before the war. The rest of the background recounted by Bones and by Quirrell himself don't really ring a bell with me, the closest thing I can think of is him needing "reconciliation" with the Lady of the House being reminiscent of Sirius Black and his spat with his family, but Sirius already exists in MoR and had a different history.

It might be possible that in MoR the house of Gaunt (the one canon!Voldemort is from) did not fall into poverty and retained their household and Wizengamot influence? If the general 'powering up' of characters can go that far back it would be plausible. And now that I think of it, Quirrell initiated talk about witch-on-Muggle magical seduction during the SPHEW arc, which could suggest that that part of his family background was carried over from canon.

(One of the things that annoy me about HPMoR is that when I can't quickly figure out what a certain passage might be hinting to, I have to assign a frustratingly high probability to the event that it's simply a reference/homage/in-joke to one of the myriad HP fanfictions.)

2[anonymous]10yMy concern is largely that Bones seems to be hinting that Quirrelmort is someone else, who was believed to be dead, someone who was thought to be a powerful enemy of Voldemort who went missing, which meshes with his spiel to Hermione. Presumably the person Bones thinks he is isn't Quirrel, since he's publicly known to be that person. Who on Earth is she referring to?
4FAWS10yThomas Marvolo Gaunt-Riddle, hero of wizarding Britain? Though since Dumbledore knows that Tom Riddle is Voldemort that seems like quite the narrow escape; his game would be up if Bones and Dumbledore talked openly to each other.
7Anubhav10yEliezer S. Yudkowsky
3FAWS10yWait, that doesn't work, for Voldemort being a known parselmouth to allow Hagrid a retrial after discovering the charm on the Sorting Hat Tom Riddle and Voldemort have to be known to be the same person. EDIT: Eliezer jossed heroic Riddle in the mean time anyway.

How many instances can y'all remember where Eliezer has repeated himself in an oddly specific way?

  • Chapter 17, when Harry picks up Neville's Remembrall: "The Remembrall was glowing bright red in his hand, blazing like a miniature sun that cast shadows on the ground in broad daylight."

  • Chapter 43, when Harry has a Dementor-induced flashback of the night... something happened in Godric's Hollow: "And the boy in the crib saw it, the eyes, those two crimson eyes, seeming to glow bright red, to blaze like miniature suns, filling Harry's whole vision as they locked to his own -"

That really sets off my deliberate-hint senses - so much is repeated that it's got to be intentional. (My apologies if this was already discussed to death in the considerable time since #43 was posted.)

Likewise the basilisk, which I know was discussed at some point:

  • Chapter 35, H&C speaking: "Salazar Slytherin would have keyed his monster into the ancient wards at a higher level than the Headmaster himself."

  • Chapter 49, the Defense Professor speaking: "or by some entity which Salazar Slytherin keyed into his wards at a higher level than the Headmaster himself."

I'm sure I could find more if I put my mind to it, but that's all I've got for now.

4Benquo10yI have no idea how to interpret the first clue. Are Voldemort's eyes Remembralls?
3LKtheGreat10yMy interpretation was that we're meant to connect the two incidents and conclude that Harry's (seemingly numerous) forgotten memories are something to do with Voldemort, whether specifically memories of that night or something wider.
3bogdanb10yWell, the fact that he remembered the night of Voldemort’s attack (I have 80%+ confidence it was a real memory, though I’m not sure of what), it’s clear that there was at least one thing that he had forgotten at the time he held the Remembrall. I hadn’t made the connection until now. Previously I thought the crimson eyes were a hint pointing to Moaning Myrtle’s recounting of her encounter with the basilisk. Now I wonder if it’s just a coincidence because the “blazing sun” simile works well for a bright Remembrall, or if Eliezer is giving us a three-way hint. A basilisk being present at Godric’s Hollow had a lot of awesomeness potential, but it does seem like the less likely hypothesis. On the other hand, pretty much everyone has forgotten most of their infancy—presumably, Dementors don’t bring such memories back because they’re almost never as traumatic as Harry’s—and Remembralls don’t start glowing like mad in everybody’s hands, so something is still missing there.
3gwern10yMuch more than infancy - apparently everything before 10 is suspect, and everything before 4 especially so according to Wikipedia on childhood amnesia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childhood_amnesia].
0Normal_Anomaly10yThe basilisk has yellow eyes in the movies, and probably in book-canon as well. Are they explicitly stated to be red in MOR?
3thomblake10yYes. The basilisk hasn't been mentioned by name in MOR, aside from Moody suggesting it as a poison. Slytherin's Monster was mentioned as possibly-not-real in Chapter 49, but without physical description. So no, there's no reason to think it has red eyes.
0bogdanb10yYes, you’re right. Turns out my memory over-dramatized a bit Myrtle’s words. She said only “I just remember seeing a pair of great, big, yellow eyes.” For some reason I thought she had also said something like “blazing suns”.
0ArisKatsaris10yAfter the escape from Azkaban, I thought that the most likely thing for the Remembrall to have been referring to, must have been the Newtonian physics that Harry was mentioned to have forgotten about in regards to broomstick flying -- but am not quite sure that makes sense anymore. At the time the Remembrall lit up, Harry hadn't spent any time steering/accelerating the broomstick, and had barely seen anyone else fly at all.
2thomblake10yI prefer "Time turners are supposed to be a secret, don't flaunt it".
0chaosmosis10yThat was my interpretation also.

Regardless of them getting explicitely identified to the wards, so it must get its names independently.

If it must, then Dumbledore overrode it.

He did so specifically to prevent himself from learning the Defense Professor's identity, because that was the term stipulated by Quirrell.

Those lines were specifically included to keep the story from prematurely reaching its climax as soon as Quirrell returns to Hogwarts. I think you will enjoy stories more if you accept that sometimes things happen for story reasons.

Wizarding police have to allow for the fact that some possible prisoners (Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Voldemort) are capable of beating up the whole police department put together. When someone displays surprising power, it makes sense to back off, at least until you're sure you can take him.

2kilobug10yHum, in canon at least, when they try to arrest Dumbledore at the end of tome 5 (HP and the Order of the Phoenix) they don't seem that hesitant to arrest him, as soon as they have proof he's doing something illegal, and they seem quite surprised he escaped. But that could be a point of divergence between canon and HP:MoR, especially if the head of the Auror is very intelligent in HP:MoR, she could know about not escalating conflicts too easily.

Yeah, MoR has a much more well-thought-through concept of what it means to be a powerful wizard, and the difference between that and a normal wizard.

And even in canon, I'm not sure it makes sense for them to be surprised he could escape- everyone thinks of Dumbledore as the most powerful wizard alive- but they could have conceivably been expecting him not to attempt to resist arrest, because he's generally more law-abiding than that.

Two things: one, that first downvote was mine, not ArisKatsaris's. It's still there, someone else just upvoted you.

Two: Quirrell's not stupid. He went through that whole Groundhog Day Attack rigmarole to avoid leaving detectable Legilimency traces; he would be a fool to try it now, after Dumbledore's specifically warded her against "hostile magic [...], or any spirit".

Alternatively, the Arresto Momentum spell is quite instantly deadly if you use the right frame of reference.

6Jonathan_Elmer10yHa, another magical weapon of mass destruction. Hop on a broom and repeatedly cast Arresto Momentum on the Earth.
3chaosmosis10yGenius. Just arrest the momentum of, say, their head while they are flying on a broomstick. Or stop their heart from beating. Assuming that partial Charming is possible which it probably is because of the same reasons partial Transfiguration is.
8Xachariah10yI was actually thinking that the surface of the earth relative to the core rotates at 1040 miles per hour. Also that the speed of the earth relative to the sun is 67,000 miles per hour, though that could be too deadly. (Edit: Since I was curious, casting arresto momentum with the sun as a frame of reference on a 50kg person would release 22 gigajoules. IE, you'd turn them into a kinetic kill weapon with destructive force equal to 5 tons of TNT) But you're right, arresting the momentum could be brutal in a lot of different ways.

Presumably, you'd need some kind of conceptual shift like with partial Transfiguration before you could do this. It seems like an implicit rule of Potterverse magic that it works according to the laws of physics you instinctively expect (or perhaps the ones the designer expected), so you have to "jailbreak" the spell before it can work in an updated, relativistic model.

1drethelin10yThe same thing would happen with Apparition, floo travel, etc. I'm pretty sure you just aren't allowed to manipulate momentum that way.

Incidentally, are there no Author's Notes for chapter 84?

I'm not sure canon Ron was good in the sense of regarding slytherins as people. Harry potter has a rather jolly tendency to rank getting people into detention on a simular scale to getting thwm savaged by a hippogriff, particularly in the early books.

I recall that when Harry discovers curses of unknown effect in the Half-Blood Prince's book, the first thing he does is go and try them out on Slytherins to see what they do. In fact, Eliezer references this.

2DavidAgain10yYup. One of several stabs at canon!Harry. And Ron is probably even more extremist anti-Malfoy than Harry. Trying to remember what he says at the point when they end up having to try to save Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle in the Deathly Hallows.
1wedrifid10yCouldn't agree more.

An interpretation of the revelations of Chapter 84 that is almost surely wrong, but was first to rise to my attention:

Quirrell's description of the War to Hermione was an honest description of the conflict between Voldemort and Dumbledore from Voldemort's point of view. Voldemort, like Draco's father and his friends, thought Dumbledore was an evil wizard who needed to be stopped at all cost. But even as people shored up support for Dumbledore, they reviled Voldemort.

And Dumbledore has realized he was the bad guy. When he says:

There is evil in this world which knows itself for evil, and hates the good with all its strength. All fair things does it desire to destroy.

he's referring to the darkness he saw in himself, when he began to "resent Harry's innocence", and looking back on the way he's lived his life.

As I said, this interpretation is almost certainly not true; Amelia was clearly talking about someone the public would think of as a hero, so didn't mean Voldemort (and it's not supposed to be Tom Riddle's story).

4thescoundrel10yJust for fun, consider this: Quirrelmort is more likely to be able to produce a true patronus than Dumbledore, as Quirrelmort understands that death should be avoided. Patronus 2.0 as the power the Dark Lord Knows not?
5thomblake10yObviously all the good guys are anti-death and bad guys are pro-death.

“People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” -- The Grim Grotto

9Velorien10yI suspect Voldemort is less likely to produce a true Patronus. The Patronus 2.0 comes from facing death and rejecting it. Voldemort certainly rejects death, but it doesn't seem like he's faced it the way Harry has. Voldemort: "This 'death' thing is horrible, get it away from me! I'll tear apart my very soul if that's what it takes to escape death!" Harry: "You dare threaten me and the people I feel responsible for, you pitiful little leftover of the evolutionary process? I will end you if it's the last thing I do." Admittedly, this is based more on a canon portrayal of Voldemort, since MoR!Voldemort's views on the subject have yet to be made explicit (and he seems altogether more emotionally healthy than the canon version).

I thought this bit was interesting:

And felt a distant, hollow echo of emptiness radiating from where Death waited, washing over Harry's mind and parting around it, like a wave breaking on stone. Harry knew his enemy this time, and his will was steel and all of the light.

"I can already feel the Dementors," said the gravelly voice of the Polyjuiced Quirrell. "I did not expect that, not this soon."

"Think of the stars," Harry said, over a distant rumble of thunder. "Don't allow any anger in you, nothing negative, just think of the stars, what it feels like to forget yourself and fall bodilessly through space. Hold to that thought like an Occlumency barrier across your entire mind. The Dementors will have some trouble reaching past that."

There was silence for a moment, then, "Interesting."

[-][anonymous]10y 12

I'm wondering if EY is going to come through on this whole "Dumbledore is the Dark Lord and Quirrelmort was in the right all along" approach that he has hinted at recently. There's a precedent here which raises my probability estimate of this slightly, [rot13 for spoilers from another EY story] va uvf fgbel "Gur Fjbeq bs Tbbq" gur gjvfg jnf gung gur ureb'f pubvpr orgjrra tbbq naq rivy jnfa'g n pubvpr bs juvpu bar gb sbyybj (gung jbhyq or boivbhf, pyrneyl) vg jnf gur zhpu uneqre pubvpr bs juvpu jnf juvpu. Gur "tbbq thlf" ghearq bhg gb or rivy naq gur "onq thlf" ghearq bhg gb or tbbq.

So from recent chapters it seems like we're supposed to at least be considering the possibility of that Quirrelmort has been playing some colossal super-villain gambit this whole time in order to set up the rise of Light Lord Harry and defeat death once and for all, and that the Dark Lord prophesied to oppose all this is Dumbledore, who has marked Harry for his equal by nominating him as the future leader of the people he mistakenly believes to be The Good Guys and who wants us all to embrace death when it comes.

This concerns me a little bit, not because I do... (read more)

2Jonathan_Elmer10yI don't think the guy who doesn't think twice about torturing or murdering anyone who slights him will turn out to be in the right all along.
2[anonymous]10yThat the only death Tom is opposed to is his own.
1chaosmosis10yMy viewpoint is essentially opposite yours, lolz. I don't really think it's probable that Dumbledore will become the next Dark Lord. The only thing that has happened so far to suggest this is the one line by Dumbledore in Chapter 84 (there might be other evidence but it would help if you would explicitly point it out). And I suppose there's an argument to be made that Voldemort couldn't have "marked Harry as an equal" since Harry was a baby who Voldemort expected to easily kill (which is why Voldemort didn't bring reinforcements). And there's probably some people on here who think Narcissa was burned alive (but I am almost certain that Dumbledore faked her death and that she is living in a secret OOTP base somewhere). But I think the counter evidence is stronger. It's too late in the story to suddenly change the villain, and Dumbledore probably wouldn't have the opportunity or motive to cause mass death. Those points seem simpler and like stronger arguments than the above. Consider that, in canon, Voldemort attacking a baby was apparently enough to mark Harry as an equal. Also consider that Dumbledore was completely hysterical when he mentioned the possibility that he would become the next Dark Lord. It would help if we actually knew what some of the unheard prophecies say. Maybe Dumbledore was misinterpreting one of them, and he doesn't have to be a Dark Lord at all, but Harry would still fight him. That's not a great solution and it's actually less probable than anything above, but it does represent a kind of middle ground based on details and possibilities not yet made known to us. And, I actually like the idea of Dumbledore being a Dark Lord who was corrupted by his power. I really don't think it would be sad, because I'm not attached to canon Dumbledore very much. I actually don't really care about any of the Canon!Harry Potter main characters, I just realized that. I only care about the minor characters, and thus far HPMOR has only improved those characte
2[anonymous]10yAs far as evidence in the form of plot hints, I'll have to go do a proper search when I'm not about to go to bed, but in the mean time... IMHumbleO, there's a strong case that Quirrel could be trying a supervillain gambit in order to make the world a better place. We know that there's a Dark Lord >somewhere<, and if it's not Quirrelmort then I think it can only be Dumbledore. Of course there is a whole spectrum of possibility here - maybe Quirrel is supervillain gambitting but is STILL the Dark Lord, maybe he isn't but Dumbles is the Dark Lord anyway, &c, &c. Also relevant is the fact that Dumbledore seems to have access to the Philosopher's stone but is not using it to save lives. I don't understand why that is, and as a result it feels like there's some major aspect of the Dumbledore-Voldemort dynamic that we're in the dark about. Anyway, without going through and marshaling all the evidence I'm not prepared to make a bet either way on how it's all going to pan out. I do think the Dark Lord Dumbledore scenario is one that would have to be weighed in order to make such a bet, though, which is why I brought it up for discussion. I agree that that sort of ending could be done cool-ly. Whatever happens, I have a baaaaad feeling that Harry is going to find out that the world is a very, very ugly place pretty soon and I hope he comes through that without being irredeemably darkened.
0Strange710yThere's this, from chapter 80:

It was labeled as made by them, which isn’t necessarily reliable information, considering the incantation you use to activate it. And at one point it’s shown to locate and identify people under the True Cloak of Invisibility, which seems like powerful magic. (It could also be “made” in the sense that they found some sort of magical ingredient or component, ancient and much more powerful than they could make, which the integrated into the map, or even just that they customized an existing map with their silly “access code”.)

And in MoR, Dumbledore himself needed to use the map. Which suggests it was much more powerful than what four of his students could have made.

5Desrtopa10yRowling probably hadn't even decided that Harry had the True Cloak of Invisibility yet.
2taelor10yAlternately, they found some way to tap into the castle's existing security systems.

Eliezer has retracted that comment, and has stated that such retractions should be spoilered as they are no longer common knowledge.

We can't force you to ROT13 your original comment as well as this one, but you're not being fair to the spirit of the fanfiction and you should expect to take a karma hit if you don't.

5wedrifid10yEliezer does not have the power to declare what is common knowledge. Common knowledge is an objective element of the world, not directly subject to authority. What he can exert power to enforce is that all repetitions of said common knowledge are censored.

The rot13 policy indicates your third sentence should be in cipher, in case you weren't aware.

2NihilCredo10yV guvax ur jebgr vg va gur grkg rdhvinyrag bs fubhgvat va fbzr rneyvre Nhgube'f Abgrf, npghnyyl.
5pedanterrific10yYes. And then he retracted that statement.

A very minor mistake at ch.84

It was only expected that you should save bullies.

This of course should be something like "save them from bullies" or "save people from bullies".

5pedanterrific10yIt's disturbing that I read that like three or four times without once noticing.

A question not on the latest chapter but ch4:

McGonagall shook her head. "Your father was the last heir of an old family, Mr. Potter. It's also possible..." McGonagall hesitated. "Some of this money may be from bounties that had been placed on You-Know-Who, payable to his ki-" McGonagall swallowed the word. "To whoever might defeat him. Or those bounties might not have been collected yet. I'm not sure."

Did we ever find out whether the bounties were collected? I was wondering whether 40k Galleons was a reasonable sum for last heir of ancient family + entire wizarding world's bounties on Voldemort, but I can't remember the question ever being answered in the first place.

7Velorien10yThe Davises have 300 Galleons in their vault, and they do not seem to be especially poor or especially wealthy. If Harry has 130 times the wealth of an average family, that sounds like a reasonable sum for the circumstances stated. It's worth noting that we don't really know to what extent bounties would have been placed on Voldemort. For one thing, it seems like the international community couldn't give a toss about the fate of Britain, and British wizards seem to have spent their time cowering in terror and believing that Voldemort was invincible, rather than financing mercenary warfare.
5gwern10yIt's hard to compare, yes. But if you want to compare with the Davises and Potter fortunes, it doesn't sound like 40k is all that much. For example, if we wanted to compare bounties, we could compare Voldemort to Osama bin Laden's federal bounty of $25 million; googling, the median net worth of an American household is something like $90,000, which gives us a Muggle multiplier of not 130x but 277x. If the Davises really are average (median) then with a Muggle multiplier the bounty on Voldemort might be as high as 113k galleons*. Then presumably you'd have the Potter family fortune of unknown thousands but let's round to 7k and then 120k total - that's 3 times what Harry actually has. Of course, one can make assumptions which would erase a difference of 300% but you see why I might wonder if Harry did actually receive the bounties. * Which if anything sounds low to me - Lucius shocks people by demanding 100k for Hermione just for attempting to kill Draco, but it seems plausible they would not be shocked by something like 10k - and Voldemort doesn't just attempt to kill one person, he kills dozens, hundreds, thousands, and multiple Noble House members. The Order, a subaltern organization unapproved of by Magical England, is able to raise 100k all on its own for its own operations. And so on.
8Alsadius10yMuggle America is also some hundreds of thousands of times more populous than wizarding Britain. That does change some things when it comes to ratios of that sort.
0Rejoyce10yAlso, is that $25 million in 1991 dollars (year the book's taking place) or 2011?
1Alsadius10yThe reward was posted in 2001, and was unmodified for inflation until it was taken down in 2011.
0gwern10yMy median income figure was from ~2009; combined with the bounty not being inflation-adjusted, this implies this nominal ratio is an underestimate of the real ratio.
6loserthree10yThat muggle net worth includes property values that would not be reflected in the Davis vault.
7gwern10yWizards are specifically described as not engaging fractional-reserve banking, which implies that any real estate is bought without debt with saved-up funds; hence, we would also expect to see savings reflected in wizard vaults and the Davises in particular unless we think they already bought a property (in which case the 300 galleons would then become a massive underestimate, yes).

No fractional-reserve banking does not imply this - there could be lenders (whether goblins or wizards) with a large supply of their own gold which they use to make loans. Or landowners could sell property with a "rent to own" payment plan. Fractional-reserve banking is only necessary if you want to lend someone else's gold.

8gwern10yI was not using implies in the logical deduction sense. Not having fractional-reserve banking eliminates a massive source of capital which could be used for mortgage lending and ceteris paribus will reduce such lending, does it not?
6open_sketchbook10yIt's entirely possible that, for the most part, land ownership is not an economic issue for wizards. They are a very small population with no reliance on infrastructure and with easy, accessible and instant transportation from the FlooNetwork and apperation. They don't have pay utility bills either. I'm willing to bet the only properties that change hands with meaningful frequency are shops in Hogsmead and Diagon Alley. Some folks rent rooms in these places when they are young and career-driven, but when they settle down to raise a family, if they haven't got a property to inherent, they just zip out to some picturesque chunk of rural Britain, get their friends together or hire some specialists to magically assemble a house, and then the ministry stops by to register the place and hook the fireplace up to the Floo Network for a fee. The vast majority of wizards we see in canon live rurally. Bill and Fleur get set up with a little seaside cottage when they get married and no mention is ever made of cost. The only wizarding house that isn't rural which we know of is Number 12, Grimmauld Place, which was probably straight-up stolen from it's muggle owners in the 19th century and hidden. Of course, if some muggles show up to ask why their land suddenly has a cozy little house on it that wasn't there yesterday, you bust out the memory charms and suddenly it's been your property all along, sorry for the trouble neighbor.
3thomblake10yIt's probably worth comparing it to "the entire war chest" of the OOTP, 100k galleons. Edit: ah, you did that.
0Desrtopa10yWell, so far as the international community consists of other governments. There may have been plenty of concerned foreign citizens.
2thomblake10yNo. It's still possible he's got some money down the pipe.

Why do you find repeated condom malfunction more plausible than wanting a big family?

4taelor10yAlternately, they just wanted a girl and kept trying until they got one.
3DavidAgain10yBecause it's the only large family mentioned and the only family that relies on Muggle technology over superior magic (e.g. stitches). Wasn't deadly serious: I don't know if it's mentioned directly, but it can't be a mistake that it's a family of six boys, then a girl, and then no further children. I've seen that pattern before. Oddly, that implies that (some) wizards can't/won't sex-select their kids.
2wirov10yWell … Arthur's the one who's fond of Muggle technology. Molly didn't really approve of the flying car in the second book and she definitely didn't approve of the stitches, so it's rather unlikely that she'd approve of some Muggle invention made from rubber which Arthur suggests for contraception.
0DavidAgain10yTrue, that. I refer you to my 'not deadly serious' point. It's not that it stands up to scrutiny so much as it's a neat parallel
1JoshuaZ10yMinor note- condoms date as a technology from the 1600s. The wizarding world has taken many muggle technologies from well after that (such as door knobs). Wizards would likely have had time to not only make and adopt reliable condoms but use magic to improve them.
0pedanterrific10yYou don't think the stitches were Arthur's idea, do you? Cause they weren't.
2DavidAgain10yThe book says him and the healer agree on them: not sure if he came up with the idea but they got his support. Interesting, the next generation got a more rational form: Fred+George's lockpicking is a great idea, not just for underage magic reasons but because you suspect wizards would cast complex locking charms on things to protect from Aloharama but not actually make the lock itself very secure from a mundane angle. Which has parallels to the sadly rare RPGs that allow you to get round complicated locks that frustrate you rogue by smashing the chest to pieces with a two-handed hammer.

But at least I know now what true evil would say for itself, if we could speak to it and ask why it was evil. It would say, Why not?"

A brief flare of indignation inside her. "There's got to be a million reasons why not!"

"Indeed," said Dumbledore's voice. "A million reasons and more. We will always know those reasons, you and I.

Anyone care to name three?

  1. you will be scolded
  2. your parents would be so very disappointed with you
  3. this is certain to go on your permanent record

Surely "You've broken at least 3 school rules" belongs at the top of Hermione's list.

3loserthree10yI thought you were being an ass. And I thought what you said was funny.
2Percent_Carbon10yI can't tell if I'm being upvoted for my sarcasm or for mistaken impressions of sincerity, but 18 seems like a lot of points for snark. Either is okay, I guess, but there is some conflict. Until thescoundrel's reply [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/bmx/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6ap4] I didn't take the question seriously. It seemed to me that Dumbledore and Hermione were self righteously congratulating themselves for how not evil they were, and that MarkusRamikin was fishing for participation only for the sake of socializing.
9thomblake10yI took ArisKatsaris's and yours to be Dumbledore's and Hermione's answers to that question, respectively, and was amused. Humor gets highly upvoted. 18 upvotes doesn't mean person X thinks your comment is better than a comment with 10 upvotes; it means that on net 18 people thought to upvote it. And lots of people upvote for humor.
8wedrifid10yI evaluated your response relative to the question, not your intent (and would have put the intent down as 'satire'). Those are actually two of the most powerful reasons real people don't 'be evil' and would even serve as a non-trivial component of what a description of 'evil' would reduce to if we wanted to break down how the cognitive algorithm works.
5[anonymous]10yYour response basically is why I'm not "evil". I up voted because of that.

People like you worry me.

I identify as 'evil' when it's safe to do so, because it's apt. I worry about people who think they're not evil but act evil when they think no one could ever know, or who think they're outright good but may one day be faced with a traumatically delivered realization of the fiction that is the ordered, punishment-delivering universe their parents conditioned them to act as though they believed in, or who surrender their judgement of right and wrong to the mob.

Those sorts of people tend to not be very good at being good, and to be even worse at being bad. They can't be depended on to either follow a system of laws or their own self-interest to the best of their ability. They are difficult to model and surprisingly volatile.

Of course, my problem with this might be my fault. I'm not sayin'; I'm just sayin'.

6[anonymous]10yI don't think I ever claimed to be "good". Most people do. Feature. Not bug.
2Alsadius10ySpeaking practically, I suspect that indoctrination is responsible for a surprising percentage of the good attitudes people have. Society putting up a giant wall of opprobrium to bad acts in children is in all likelihood a major factor in why we are good - habits are wonderful things.
1loserthree10yIs there an amount of external modification of behavior that you'd allow as child-rearing without calling it indoctrination? Or can you tell me precisely what you mean by that word? Or, for that matter, the word 'society'? Aren't 'parents' enough? Does it really take a village?
2Alsadius10yIt's a word that's often used negatively, but it's not necessarily bad. Embedding a doctrine into a child is a pretty necessary part of parenting, I'd say. And it doesn't "take a village", but parents are not generally the only influences a child has - school, friends, TV, extended family, and the like all exist, and most of them do a decent job of trying to pound certain important things into kids' heads.
0loserthree10yThanks. I'd still like to know if and how you differentiate indoctrination from non-indocrtinary child-rearing.
3Alsadius10yYou spend way too much time worrying about how you're getting too much karma, man :p
2Percent_Carbon10yCuriosity is a virtue. These [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bmx/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6ao2] two [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bmx/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6al1] posts make up about a quarter of the total karma points I have. They are outliers beyond my outliers. The reasons people give for upvoting them are entirely worth investigation.
3MarkusRamikin10yI asked seriously, but I upvoted you for making me smile.
3pedanterrific10ythescoundrel's list seems more like things Quirrell or Harry would come up with than Dumbledore or Hermione. Also, I thought your comment was hilarious, so there's that. Maybe it's because I read it in 11-year-old Emma Watson's voice.

Anyone care to name three?

  1. Because evil causes people to feel pain.
  2. Because evil causes people to feel grief.
  3. Because evil causes people to feel fear.
  1. Because I grew up watching Thundercats as a kid and it's not what Liono would do.
  2. Because it would look terrible on my TV Tropes page.
  3. Because the part of me that handles abstract reasoning vetos producing negative utilons and this part actually gets quite a lot of voting power over anything I have time to think about - it's even the part I call "me".

There are many parts of Eliezer that are casting votes for good and against evil, for quite widely separated reasons ranging from the silly to the extremely approvable, and once I realized that instead of thinking that there had to be "the" reason, I understood myself a lot better.

But not a million reasons, though. Hermione is severely exaggerating.

1) In most situations, it is not the most efficient means to an end (interestingly, in Voldemort's case, it may have come close).

2) A reputation for defection in PD-like situations means nobody will ally with you. Unless you are in an undisputed leadership position, this is a very bad thing.

3) People are likely to try to kill you.

8Incorrect10y1. Because it's boring if you aren't a sadist 2. Because there's more fun stuff to do 3. Because you may prefer to think of yourself as a sort of person who is not evil.
3MixedNuts10ySelf-modify to be a sadist. Actually, do that regardless, it's fun and non-evil sadism is easy to come by.
1khafra10yIt does seem like a good idea. One of the big surprises for me, when I was first exposed to people of alternative practices, was how much easier it was for the dom/sadist types to find a partner than the sub/masochist ones.
7thescoundrel10y1.Unless you have supreme power over everyone, you are very likely to need help from other people, and evil inhibits your ability to gain that help. 1. Evil causes cascade ripples with consequences that are very hard to see- large numbers of people you don't know about having personal vendettas against you, etc. 2. It is hard to inspire people to your cause with evil- they people you are using must at least think they are acting in accordance with good, and at some level have what we would consider a "good" set of rules for how they deal with each other.
5buybuydandavis10y* Why bother? * Idiots and cowards are sure to take care of it for you. * Akrasia.
3[anonymous]10y* Because evil must be alone, as it cannot be trusted. * Because your plans will not all succeed, and it is more harmful to be revealed as everyone's enemy than as someone's friend. * Because caring about other people provides an additional source of motivation. (I know ego depletion causes a reduction in acts of altruism, but I thought I remembered that engaging in acts of altruism could counter ego depletion. Now I can't seem to find any research supporting this, so perhaps not.)
2Paul Crowley10yHer, him, and me.

FYI, in the tuning system commonly used for western music, all notes except A are irrational frequencies in hertz. Example: A below middle C is 220 hertz, and middle C is

(220 * (2 ^ (1/12)) ^ 3) hertz ~= 261.6255653006 hertz.

(To go up a half step, you multiply the frequency by the 12th root of 2.)

4Alsadius10yAt risk of derail, how the hell did they ever get a twelfth root into music?
8[anonymous]10yWe think of intervals between tones as being "the same" when there is a constant ratio between them. For instance, if two notes are an octave apart, the frequency of one is twice the other. Thus, if we want to divide the octave into twelve semitones (which we do have twelve of: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B) and we want all of these twelve semitones to be the same intervals, then we want each interval to multiply the frequency by 2^(1/12).
3Alsadius10yEvery part of that makes sense except for the lack of E# and B#, and why x2 is called an octave. Thanks for the info, and for reminding me why musical theory is one of three fields I have ever given up on learning.
4[anonymous]10yThe reason we avoid E# and B# is to get nice-sounding chords by only using the white keys. This way, the C-E chord has a ratio of 2^(4/12) which is approximately 5/4; the C-F chord has a ratio of 2^(5/12) which is approximately 4/3; and the C-G chord has a ratio of 2^(7/12) which is approximately 3/2. In fact, before we understood twelfth roots, people used to tune pianos so that the ratios above were exactly 5/4, 4/3, and 3/2. This made different scales sound different. For instance, the C major triad might have notes in the ratios 4:5:6, while a D major triad might have different ratios, close to the above but slightly off. There's also the question of whether the difference between these makes a difference in the sound. There's two answers to that. On the one hand, it's a standard textbook exercise that the difference between pitches of a note in two different tuning systems is never large enough for the human ear to hear it. So, most of the time, the tuning systems are impossible to distinguish. On the other hand, there are certain cases in which the human ear can detect very very small differences when a chord is played. To give a simple (though unmusical) example, suppose we played a chord of a 200 Hz note and a 201 Hz note. The human ear, to a first approximation, will hear a single note of approximately 200 Hz. However, the difference between the two notes has a period of 1 second, so what the human ear actually hears is a 200 Hz note whose (EDIT) amplitude wobbles every second. This is very very obvious, it's a first sign of your piano being out of tune, and in different tuning systems it happens to different chords.
4[anonymous]10yand only 12 notes per octave. With more notes per octave you can distinguish between F# and Gb [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCDMkmVMA2I] without losing much accuracy in the most common keys. Nitpick: I'm no expert in historical tunings, but AFAIK medieval music used pure fifths, where near-pure major thirds are hard to reach. This became a problem in Renaissance music so keyboard instruments started to favor meantone tunings [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meantone_temperament] with more impure fifths, to make 4 fifths modulo octave a better major third in the most common keys. (The video demonstrating the major scale/chords generated by a fifth of 695 cents shows this rationale.) As soon as people began to value pure major thirds in their music the fifths in keyboard music became more tempered. Keyboard tunings with both pure 3/2s and pure 5/4s were not widely used, because of the syntonic comma [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syntonic_comma]. In Renaissance music 12-equal was used for lutes for example, which shows that even though people knew about 12 equal temperament and could approximate 2^(1/12) well they didn't like to use it for keyboard instruments. The tuning of the keyboard gradually changed to accommodate all 12 keys of modern Western music as the style of music started to call for more modulations in circa 18th century. But you are overall correct that different keys in the twelve-tone keyboard sounded different. (even in the 18th century [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_temperament].) I find it hard to believe this. If these differences were mostly not significant there would be no reason for the existence of different tuning systems. What kinds of differences between tuning systems are you talking about?
3gjm10yActually it's the amplitude that wobbles, and more than slightly.
0[anonymous]10yThank you, edited.
0Alsadius10yAnd I suppose that "the white keys", defined some centuries ago, are a more difficult standard to change than the underlying mathematical assumptions. Right.
1gjm10yAlso, the white keys are far from being an arbitrary set of pitches. Very roughly, they're chosen so that as many combinations of them as possible sound reasonably harmonious together when played on an instrument whose sound has a harmonic spectrum (which applies to most of the tuned instruments used in Western music). I don't mean that someone deliberately sat down and solved the optimization problem, of course, but it turns out that the Western "diatonic scale" (= the white notes) does rather well by that metric. So it's not like we'd particularly want to change the scale for the sake of making either the mathematics or the music sound better.
3Eugine_Nier10yNotes sound good if they're approximately simple rational multiples of each other. Hence you want your scale to contain multiples. Since the simplest multiple is x2 we use that for the octave. As for why we break it up into 12 semitones, the reason is that 2^(7/12) is approximately 3/2 and as a bonus 2^(4/2) is a passable approximation to 5/4.
2Benquo10yLook up "equal temperament." There are 12 half-steps in an Octave, after each octave the frequency should double, and the simplest way to arrange it is to make each step a multiplication by h=2^(1/12) so that h^12=2. Many people report that "natural" intervals like the 3:2 and 4:3 ratio, sound better than the equal temperament approximations, though I don't hear much of a difference myself.
0thomblake10yIt's really obvious if you expect any decent math to invoke exponents of 2.

then EY would be conceding that morality is a weakness, or at the very least that strength and strength alone will determine which AI will win.

I'm pretty sure that he does believe that if an AI goes FOOM, it's going to win, period, moral or no. The idea that an AI would not simply be more preferable, but actually win over another AI on account of being more moral strikes me as, well, rather silly, and not at all in accordance with what I think Eliezer actually believes.

We downvote bad jokes now?

As one of the downvoters, haven't we always downvoted bad jokes?

This was a bad joke, not in the sense of inappropriateness (a similar but better joke at http://lesswrong.com/lw/ams/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/61ew was heavily upvoted), but in the sense of being strained, weak, and largely unfunny.

Please stop talking about your karma. I am tired of seeing these huge long threads arguing with you about your karma and whether lesswrong has groupthink and whether other people are being rude or disingenuous or whatever. You have singlehandedly lowered the quality of my experience reading LW this past week, and I am earnestly requesting that you stop it.

Can you explain what part of the comments by ArisKatsaris that you found disingenuous? I'm not seeing it at all.

the instant she decides he's responsible he echoes her thought

No, he echoes her thought the instant she physically reacts to move away from him. NOT the "instant she decides". Keep the facts straight, please.

We've already been told that common sense is often mistaken for Legimancy. This event doesn't require reading her mind, it just requires reading her body language.

, and her eyes start burning (maybe she's not blinking or something, or EY is adding that as a side effect of legimancy, or it's just to draw our attention to the eye contact

... (read more)
[-][anonymous]10y 9

Can somebody explain to me why Harry was so into House points before Azkaban recalibrated his sense of perspective? It makes sense why most people seek them; you take several dozen kids, split them up into different groups, and soon enough you hear them talking about how they can't let those Gryffindor jerkasses win the House Cup and so on. But it seems to me like you need to identify with your House to an unhealthy degree to take so much pleasure in earning points for it. Hermione obviously has that problem (cf. her speech about House Ravenclaw in ch. 34)... (read more)

4Xachariah10yIn order to be an effective incentive system, house points would necessarily need to be awarded in social circumstances were other students can track them. And in practice that's usually how they're awarded. Points are given out in front of the class so all of the student's classmates can see them instead of privately. Some of this may be because teachers primarily interact with students in classes, but even private events which earn house points are announced publicly later. Functionally, in canon, the house point system physically updates as soon as anyone authorized says "10 points to Gryffindor." Since it's auto-updating I'd be surprised if they don't track the reasons why as well in a magic ledger or something. When teachers were in strong contention for the house cup, they would give out house points on the flimsiest excuses, but they'd always have a reason for it, which implies that it's tracked. Otherwise teachers would subtract 50 points because 'potter looks stupid' when they're alone in the lavatory instead of taking 10 points for backchat while in class to unfairly win the house cup.
3ArisKatsaris10yWho's the person who've deleted their account, and may I ask why? It's always sad/confusing when we lose someone and we can't even know the reason.
9pedanterrific10yThis was jaimeastorga2000. I think Misha deleted their account today too.
8cousin_it10yI regret that Misha is gone, he was one of the smarter commenters on mathy decision theory posts.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky10y(blinks in surprise) How odd and sad...
1Nornagest10yWell, for whatever reason he chose to unperson himself, so I'm not sure if I should be saying this, but that was jaimeastorga2000, I believe. I don't know why he decided to leave.
3Nornagest10ySure. By earning house points, Harry and Hermione are essentially doing a favor for their houses independently of whatever they did to earn those points. It's a favor that's absolutely useless in functional terms (at least, I don't remember the House Cup granting any substantial perks), but that doesn't matter too much to the psychology involved; you're well above the 20 karma threshold but you still get a little spike of satisfaction when someone upvotes you, don't you? Same mechanism at play. This is complicated slightly by the fact that House standing is zero-sum, but I still think in-house status gain would outweigh out-of-house status loss thanks to a number of considerations. Point allocations tend not to be announced to the entire school, for one thing.
2ArisKatsaris10yHermione is less passionate about Ravenclaw than Harry is -- e.g. Hermione in January thinks that she should have gone to Gryffindor. Harry is very clear about wanting to go to Ravenclaw, and belonging to Ravenclaw. Either way it's clear that it's marked how many points each student gets -- Dumbledore in Hermione's trial mentions she has earned 103 points for Ravenclaw so far, and even in canon it seems to be known who cost them/won them points (e.g. in Harry Potter & the Philosopher's stone, the protagonists are ostracized at some point for costing Gryffindor 50 points each)

Dumbledore explicitly warded her against mental interference as soon as he got her back - Which is presumably why Quirrell didnt use the groundhog day attack again. He only got one try to sway her this time, and while his mental model was more accurate based on the data from the last go.. nope, fail.

2[anonymous]10yYou're right.

The edit to 53 recently mentioned seems to be here:

"Your wand," murmured Bellatrix, "I took it from the Potters' house and hid it, my lord... under the tombstone to the right of your father's grave... will you kill me, now, if that was all you wished of me... I think I must have always wanted you to be the one to kill me... but I can't remember now, it must have been a happy thought..."

8ArisKatsaris10yA very disappointing change for me. The previous version had seemingly been a very major clue -- now that clue is nullified and replaced with the standard and uninteresting "some Death Eater salvaged Voldemort's wand from the Potters' House" which is the excuse every HP fanfic out there gives to cover this obvious plot hole by Rowling... Also does anyone think that Bellatrix could have stood over Harry's crib and not finished the task that Voldemort seemed to have wanted accomplished?
5[anonymous]10yWe do not yet know the task Voldemort wanted accomplished that day in HPMOR. For all we know it could have already been completed when Bellatrix salvaged the wand.
5ArisKatsaris10yYeah, yeah, but Bellatrix knew about it? But Bellatrix had been ordered to wait, retrieve the wand if anything interesting happened to Voldemort, and not interact otherwise with other enemy survivors? But Bellatrix didn't burn down the whole Muggle town when she saw Voldemort's burned body? The fact remains that what seemed to me an intentional clue, is now replaced for all intends and purposes by what seems to me an unintentional plot-hole. I don't have to like it.
1Sheaman377310yFirstly, if the wording was changed to nullify a clue, then it was probably a false clue to begin with, and he changed it so that it wouldn't cause confusion. Secondly, why do people assume that whichever Death Eater took the wand showed up while Harry was still sitting in his crib? I hardly think that Hagrid spent a great deal of time--or any, really--searching through the rubble for Voldemort's wand. It's completely reasonable that he could have shown up, taken Harry, and only then was the wand retrieved. If Bellatrix in canon refused to believe that Voldemort was dead, it's quite likely that this Bellatrix would have too, regardless of whether a "burnt hulk" of a body was there or not.
0ArisKatsaris10yThat doesn't make it less disappointing; also I think it's actually more likely that it used to be a real clue, but the author changed his mind about how the story went -- that's also disappointing. There's the third possibility, that it used to be a real clue, and it is still relevant in how the story is going to go; but that Harry himself, the character, shouldn't have heard about it so early, or he'd wonder inappropriately over it. I'm having trouble imagining that in a HPMoRVerse with an actual competent Dumbledore, Hagrid went alone to retrieve baby Harry.
1Sheaman377310yAlright, granted, those are possibilities. I'm not certain that you're correct, but they are valid. Hm. Okay, I understand that, but I would not expect anyone, really, to spend a great deal of time searching through the rubble when Harry still needs to be taken care of. Yes, they could Summon it (assuming it was Summon-able) but only if they were looking for it specifically, if they thought it wasn't destroyed in the explosion, etc.

As of last week Eliezer didn't have any plans to include an allegory to FAI, and expected any such allegory to work very badly in story terms ("suck like a black hole").

4Percent_Carbon10yFor the reference of other readers [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bfo/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/68cp]
2vali10yOh. I feel a little silly now.

If you'll all forgive me a few moments of horrible nerdiness, and the attendant fictional evidence, I've said before that MoR's construction of heroic effort makes a good deal more sense once you've played Fate/stay night. This chapter certainly hasn't given me any reason to doubt that, but after Quirrell's speech with Hermione I think I might need to add watching Revolutionary Girl Utena as another prerequisite. The early parts of that exchange could have been lifted wholesale from Utena's princes and witches, and the world's expectations of them.

4V2Blast10yYou are certainly not the only one who was reminded (eerily so) of a part of Fate/stay night that I won't discuss here for fear of spoiling the visual novel for anyone who hasn't yet played it. Quirrell's talk with Hermione made me think of a certain character from FSN immediately as I was reading.
1Nominull10yI was reminded of it, but I'm reminded of it when I read basically any work that has heroes paying a price for their heroism, so I didn't find it quite so eerie.
1V2Blast10yGuess I just haven't read enough.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky10y...I don't know if I can back you on that one, I mean, I've seen Utena, but it wasn't my primary source material for Quirrell's bitterness (and neither was Atlas Shrugged). I don't suppose you have the FSN comment handy? That sounds a lot more plausible (w/r/t heroism).
5Nornagest10yUnfortunately, no. I'm not even sure it was here; it may have been over at TV Tropes when I still posted there. I'm not accusing you of deliberately riffing on either work, though. It's just that FSN is all about a certain way of thinking about heroes -- you wouldn't be far wrong if you called it a character study of the "hero" role -- and Utena is largely (it's a more thematically complicated work) about the way non-heroes respond to heroic effort, and I'm seeing reflections of both here. Although there's more than a bit of the latter in the Unlimited Blade Works route and in Fate/zero, too. I watched Utena first, though, so it has the benefit of primacy effects in my head.

You would need to always have a shield up.

Yes... this is a fact of combat. Not sure why you said this.

For example?

"Accio frontal lobe."

Or "Imperio, kill yourself."

Or for that matter "Obliviate."

Edit: Actually, I'm pretty sure Somnium is invisible. It doesn't kill immediately, of course, but that's easily rectified.

3gjm10yMight have the same sort of problem as partial Transfiguration has for everyone other than Harry: only works on a Whole Object and not on parts thereof. Your frontal lobe, or even your brain, might not be considered a separate object by whatever is responsible for making magic work.
1pedanterrific10yPersonally, I doubt that Charms and free Transfiguration are alike in that sense, but even if they are we have Word of McGonagall that it's possible to Transfigure just your skin or hair. Apparently human bodies are subdivided, according to the idea of Forms.

When I awoke, I had lost half my karma and I was ready to fight about it.
[...] and I am sure as hell not going to change what I wrote now, rules or no rules.

Too bad, agreeing to follow the rules of the thread, even if that means editing/rot13ing past comments, would have been the easiest way to get your karma back.

Edited to add: Some Quirrel-type lesson about learning when to lose, and the costs of needless escalation, seems appropriate.

6pleeppleep10yThe initial shock of having lost so much karma was the only time I felt I really "lost" here. I notice that karma loss does more to infuriate than actually punish, and that it has the potential to hurt the site more than me, by nullifying my ability to reach a larger audience when I have something important to say. When I see a rule I don't like, I tend to ignore it, not that doing so was my intention here. My problem wasn't that I lost karma, it was that I was accused of wrongdoing which I did not believe myself to have committed. (That said, you are probably right about learning to lose. One of my biggest problems has been that I find escalation of conflict fun after it reaches a point where I cannot possibly win. I'm very popular with authority, as you could probably guess.)
5TheOtherDave10yI would also guess that many of your peers don't much care for the escalation of conflict for its own sake, either.
1Random83210yAs far as he knew it was gone. I wouldn't have predicted that you (presumably) and thomblake make a habit of monitoring posts you downvote for changes, and I'm not sure if you're not being too optimistic to expect it of the others who downvoted.
2Percent_Carbon10yWhen I started here I went back and changed posts, hoping that downvotes would be replaced with upvotes. There was little reaction and I think it really wasn't worth the time. Near as I can tell, the easiest way to get your karma back is to make a top level post repeating what other people are already saying in storytelling way [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bmx/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6b46]. That may fall out of fashion at some point, though, so don't over invest your time in developing your storytelling and other people repeating skills, or whatever.

My comment from fanfic.net:

I loved the chapter- there was nothing wrong with the previous two, but this the mixed bag of very good stuff pointing in multiple directions that I hadn't realized I was missing. I'm talking about psychological/philosophical/emotional material more than the potential plot twists.

I've suddenly realized that this is a chapter in which almost nothing happens in terms of physical action- it's all talk and thought and emotion (and a bit of humming), and it's incredibly engrossing.

Is Hermione's inability to think that she might have b... (read more)

Is Hermione's inability to think that she might have been bespelled part of the spell, or normal psychological reaction? Would fake memories have the same kind and amount of detail as real memories?

I would hypothesise that, to an ordinary person who has not learned about the fallibility of memory in general, the idea that something that feels like a completely real memory would be false is a very challenging one. Thinking "have I been memory-charmed?" is like thinking "I could be wrong about absolutely anything I remember" for the first time. It would be very difficult, and exactly the kind of thought one flinches away from.

From personal experience, I remember recalling a very emotionally charged MSN conversation months later, and thinking about an agreement I'd made with someone in it. But searching through the logs (and I logged everything), I could find no mention of any such agreement ever. It was pretty traumatic to discover that my memory was so fallible on something so important, and I'm not sure I could have accepted it without such firm evidence.

In regard to detail, I'm not sure people ever go through their memories and say "huh, this memory lacks detail so something must be off". Unless some key feature is missing (say, Hermione being unable to recall the words of the curse she used), I imagine any given detail's absence could be easily rationalised.

8fubarobfusco10yBeliefs don't feel like beliefs. They feel like how the world is.
8Alex_Altair10yAnd it's especially surreal to Hermione, because she has eidetic memory.
3Velorien10yI don't think it's quite eidetic - she says as much herself. It's just ridiculously good. I think if she had literally perfect recall of all her experiences, rather than merely amazing recall of information she consciously tried to absorb, she would be less of a normal 11-year old girl. For example, she'd have perfect recall of every mistake she'd ever made, and every time anyone had ever hurt her. I imagine she would be much warier of doing anything with the potential to leave traumatic memories. With that said, it's worth noting that no-one has ever proved having long-term eidetic memory in repeated scientific tests, so all our speculations on the subject must rely on anecdotal evidence and fictional examples.
2tadrinth10yIt takes her a few seconds to remember the Asch Conformity Experiment and that was a long enough delay to be frightening.
1Percent_Carbon10yPerhaps she is only ridiculously exhausted, low on brain juices. She is not used to being low on brain juices because she has never been either undernourished or pushed so hard. It is a novel experience, which can be frightening.
2tadrinth10yYeah, memory is fallible as hell. This is why I love having conversation logs and why I have contemplated trying to figure out a way to log my entire life (so I could do that for real conversations as well).
2SkyDK10yIt'd be illegal in most countries, but getting very small mics is not that hard. I've used it myself for testing if I had a better idea generation state of mind while running/doing sports than when penning.

Harry saying that the first year girls should put their reputations on the line about Hermione is so perfectly Harry...

I'm pretty sure he was inviting everyone in Ravenclaw.

Actually, maybe this is the glitch in the Marauder's Map? 'the Defense Professor' is a little unusual a tag opposed to 'Minerva McGonagall' or ordinary names. (Although yes, it could also be reading 'Tom Riddle' or whatever, and Dumbledore wouldn't notice because IIRC he only grabs the Map from the twins to check for Riddle in Hogwarts after Quirrel goes to the Ministry.)

7RobertLumley10yYeah. p > 0.6 that this is the constant error in the marauders map for me. That's exactly what I thought when I was reading this.
5gwern10yThe glitch in the Marauder's Map is * Quirrel appearing as 'the Defense Professor' [http://predictionbook.com/predictions/6533] * Quirrel appearing under another name [http://predictionbook.com/predictions/6534] (eg. 'Tom Riddle') * the spirit of Voldemort or Riddle [http://predictionbook.com/predictions/6535]
3RobertLumley10yYou might want to edit those to clarify the constant glitch as opposed to the intermittent. Since I made it, I'll estimate this, but I'm really hesitant to flood my predictionbook with HPMOR predictions. We really need categories there.
0hairyfigment10yThe intermittent error could also be a pet snake, though I don't know if that would count as "standing" in the circle. Does Voldemort have a house-elf?

Thank Donny for noticing this, but apparently there's a distinction being drawn between 'Noble' Houses like Potter and 'Noble and Most Ancient' Houses like Malfoy, Longbottom, Greengrass and Black.

3Vaniver10yIndeed. I count 18 [http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/House_of_Black] families 'related to' the House of Black, and if all of those are Noble or Noble and Most Ancient we could quickly round out the list. Both Rosier and Lestrange show up on that list, so that raises my estimate that Bones thinks Quirrel is one of those classmates instead, but both of them were Death Eaters. Since so much is diverging from canon here, I suspect I should stop trying to predict based on canon and just wait to see what's changed. (I couldn't resist, some more research: the Peverell family is extinct in the male line, suggesting that they might have been Noble and Most Ancient and the Potters, descended from them in the female line, are just Noble. That would mean that Riddle is just Noble, rather than Noble and Most Ancient, though, but who knows.)

Also, I'm slightly confused at how he's being portrayed in this chapter.

I'm not. It's easy enough to say that "character X is Y", but what does that mean ? The motivations of character Y in HP:MoR are very different from what they are in canon. Merely knowing the label "Y" tells you very little; the greater mystery is not what label we should apply to X, but what his goals are, and what actions he has already taken, or is planning to take, and what his overall grand design looks like. Everything we observe the character saying or doing is evidence that can help us expose this design. His canon counterpart's actions in the original HP books, on the other hand, are not.

He acts as different people in Azkaban, as Hat and Cloak (and/or Ghost Lady). He has a different face to every person he interacts with, from Snape to Harry to the public at the ceremony, and in this chapter presenting an entirely new, almost caring face to Hermione.

and in this chapter presenting an entirely new, almost caring face to Hermione.

Which makes perfect sense, since, via his dictionary attack (that took place in earlier chapters), he'd already learned that this is the easiest way to manipulate her.

Wanting a child does not necessitate responsibility.

IIRC, neither Quirrell nor Dumbledore have pre-cast shields in TSPE, which (IIRC) is the only piece of serious action by competent people in MoR.

Funny thing about the combat in TSPE, we get this little digression:

The Auror was protected by a blue shimmer, it was hard to see the details but Harry could see that much, the Auror had shields already raised and strengthened.

Crap, thought Harry. According to the Defense Professor, the essential art of dueling consisted of trying to put up defenses that would block whatever someone was likely to throw at you

... (read more)

I wonder if Quirrel simply had a bad model when he tried to play the hero:

"I was not naive, Miss Granger, I did not expect the power-holders to align themselves with me so quickly - not without something in it for themselves. But their power, too, was threatened; and so I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward." (84)

The theory about Qu... (read more)

Hm, so to rewrite the ending...

There were a certain few of the Wizengamot who wondered why Voldemort's lieutenant had made a attempt on the life of the Minister's daughter rather than the Minister, done so publicly rather than privately, and why a recluse was there that day. They had already marked the Miracle of Diagon Alley as an anomalous and important event; they have wondered why it happened, if it did, or if not, why Voldemort is colluding in the praise.

Look. It's very simple. The only response necessary is a gesture toward the main post:

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

... (read more)

No, Flamel and his wife were mentioned as the users of the elixir.

So, it seems more likely that Quirrel was behind the plot.

The thing about there only being seven houses seems big, though, and as far I can tell isn't from canon. (The list of purebloods, for example, doesn't include Jugson, though 500 years old might not be enough to be Most Ancient. I think we have HPMOR confirmation of Malfoy, Potter, Greengrass, and Longbottom, and I think in canon the only ones that get that description are Malfoy, Black, and maybe Potter (really, Peverell).

The 1926 hint narrows it down to four canon characters (though, of course, Bon... (read more)

We know Dumbledore thinks Tom Riddle was Voldemort, because when he's looking for Voldemort within Hogwarts he tells the map to find Tom Riddle.

8gwern10yAnd all the other occasions Phoenix members speak of Tom Riddle or poison his father's grave.

Tom Riddle wasn't a hero. He was a villain whose villainous plot was to create a fake villain named Voldemort for him to defeat. He arranged for there to be a kidnapping attempt on the daughter of the minister of magic so that he could save her and be propelled into herodom. But things did not go according to plan:

"Long ago, long before your time or Harry Potter's, there was a man who was hailed as a savior. The destined scion, such a one as anyone would recognize from tales, wielding justice and vengeance like twin wands against his dreadful nemesis." Professor Quirrell gave a soft, bitter laugh, looking up at the night sky. "Do you know, Miss Granger, at that time I thought myself already cynical, and yet... well."

The silence stretched, in the cold and the night.

"In all honesty," said Professor Quirrell, looking up at the stars, "I still don't understand it. They should have known that their lives depended on that man's success. And yet it was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant. To throw every possible obstacle into his way. I was not naive, Miss Granger, I did not expect the power-holders to align themsel

... (read more)
6Vaniver10yThe reason I think this is odd is because, in canon, Voldemort was a name change , not a new person. So instead of Tom Riddle getting together with his Slug Club friends and saying "hey, maybe we should run this country, and by the way I never liked my old name," Voldemort is some external actor that managed to get the loyalty of a bunch of Britain's nobility.
5ChrisHallquist10yReally? In canon I thought Voldemort = Riddle was a pretty well-kept secret. But as per Eliezer's comment elsewhere in the thread, it looks like Riddle's hero persona wasn't called "Tom Riddle," he impersonated (possessed?) a descendent of some more respectable house to create that identity.
2Vaniver10yThat could be- I haven't read the books since the last one came out. This is what I'm seeing on the HPWiki [http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Voldemort]: That suggests to me that the early Death Eaters grew up with him as Tom Riddle, and it was just a name change. If the "Voldemort = Riddle" thing is poorly known, it's probably because no one has reason to know that his name was Riddle (like, for example, most people have heard of Stalin but haven't heard of Dzhugashvili).
5drethelin10yRemember that Quirrel is NOT Riddle. He's Riddle in the body of someone else. It's pretty damn voldemorty to come back in the body of one of your enemies, too.
1buybuydandavis10yI've been peddling the scheme of uploading into Harry when Harry supposedly defeats him. It makes sense too that he has more power through Dark Rituals. He uses up the host body through the costs born by the host, and then moves on to another.
1[anonymous]10yUpload Vohaul to the computer, then beam him back into your son's body. (BEAM UPLOAD, BEAM DOWNLOAD) [http://tmd.alienharmony.com/rw/sq4/page_8.htm] Well, that's just great! Now Vohaul's on the loose again, disguised as your SON! You lose 3 out of 2. [http://tmd.alienharmony.com/rw/sq4/8/i.htm]
1Vaniver10yThe only canon character that matches Bones's description is Riddle (though he only does so partially, having murdered his family before his graduation in canon). So either EY stuck in a Mary Sue who just happens to have Tom Riddle's biographical details, or Bones wants Tom Riddle to take up the Gaunt seat in the Wizengamot.
4pedanterrific10yOr maybe there's a third option you haven't thought of. How confident are you?
4Vaniver10yI thought of three other options, and dismissed all of them. Riddle gets over 98% of the 'canon character born in 1926' probability mass, and so I intend to spend a comparable amount discussing him over other options.

Hmm. It seems it was supposed to be obvious it wasn't Riddle. How odd.

1Desrtopa10yIt strikes me as simply bettter writing, or at least, better fanfiction writing, if this new, extremely skilled and competent and apparently original character, can be explained by the original divergence between HPMoR and canon, and the most obvious way for that to be the case is if Voldemort controlled or impersonated him in some way, making his competence a consequence of Voldemort's competence.
4dspeyer10yWay back in chapter 7, Draco refers to "the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black". That's a fifth noble house. JKR said Nott was ranked as highly as Malfoy. Doesn't necessarily apply in MOR.
4Vaniver10yI was going to say the Blacks are all (supposedly) dead in HPMOR at this point, but then I remembered that Sirius is (supposedly) just in Azkaban, not dead yet, and if he's counting the female line (like he would have to for Riddle to count) then there's also Bellatrix.
3ygert10yThere's also Draco, Tonks, and Andromeda. (Andromeda is Tonks' mother, Bellatrix's and Narcissa's sister.) This is all assuming that the female line counts, which it more or less has to.
2Percent_Carbon10yMaybe Andromeda Black-Tonks can to revive the house even though she was disowned if all the other members are dead or Azkabaned.
3pedanterrific10yMy hypothesis is stated here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bfo/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6agf?context=1#6agf] , by the way- the thread goes on to include discussion of Noble Houses.
2Anubhav10yEliezer has jossed this. Page 118 or so of the TVTropes discussion.
9Vaniver10yA link would be very helpful.
1loserthree10yIt's elsewhere in the thread, now. But here it is [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=722rasd1fu9p8mn5fdcbp572&page=118#2948] , anyway.
1ArisKatsaris10yHouse Potter is not "Most Ancient". In HPMor, we have Malfoy, Black, Greengrass and Longbottom declared explicitly as "Noble and Most Ancient".

I evaluated your arguments, I precisely showed how you were wrong in one case (his words didn't exactly echo her thought), how her eyes burning can't be treated as evidence of Legimancy if burning eyes are never correlated with Legimancy.

At this point the only specific argument you got left that I didn't address was that Quirrel is mentioned staring at her. So here, let me address that one as well: In chapter 70 (one of the Self Actualization chapters) Quirrel is again mentioned to be looking at her:

Then Professor Quirrell’s gaze shifted away from Trace

... (read more)

Hostile magic is obviously not the same as Legilmancy

It's also not the same as the sort of LifeAlert wards Quirrell (claims that he) put on Draco, which we know (that Quirrell claimed that) Heh specifically forbade.

Why would Dumbledore care and what would Dumbledore do differently if Dumbledore found out that Quirrell had looked into Hermione's mind?

Well, for one thing, he might look at the Map again. (He suspects Voldemort is trying to influence Hermione's mind; the Defence Prof is caught trying to read Hermione's mind; it doesn't take a genius.)

... (read more)

I think you're confused about the meaning of Sword of Good.

No, Argency summarized it well. It isn't a treatise on moral relativism.

2[anonymous]10yYeah, I'm pretty sure that one of the premises behind both of these stories is that there is one objectively correct morality, given that a few basic definitions are shared. "If we agree that suffering is bad and that ~suffering is good then humanist, rational utilitarianism should follow directly," or something. I can definitely agree that acting in a way that fails to optimally minimise suffering is >bad<. I can even agree that in a lot of cases, punishing bad people will minimise further suffering. The problem is (and this is the message that I got from The Sword of Good) no one sane actually thinks of themselves as the bad guy of the story, and it takes an Act of Rational Intellect to make a justified choice about which side is actually right about being right. The upshot is that I balk at the "evil" label. People are bad and good, only cartoon characters are evil because they do bad for bad's sake. I guess in my head I think that to be a Dark Lord requires being Evil and not just bad. That might be a silly definition, since it means I'm essentially defining Dark Lords not to exist, but then again we only hear about them in children's stories and HPMoR. Sometimes (not every time) I get a twinge of subconscious worry when EY primes his argument-cannon with rational powder but emotional wadding. It makes for incredible chapters - I get fully body pins and needles whenever Harry does something amazing with a dementor - and when the emotion is humanist triumphal awe then it's probably safe. I know the argument: there's no reason why rationality and emotion have to weaken one another; emotion aimed by rationality can work to good ends. I just don't want to confront a situation where Dumbledore ends up being the Dark Lord despite wanting to be a good guy and trying very, very hard - because there's the risk there of sending the message that we should not only fight against powerful bad people, but hate them because they are Evil for not quite being smart enough.
1chaosmosis10yA form of relativism does follow from naturalism, as does a moral system which favors ones own gains above the gains of others. See: the babykillers story. Egoism and relativism are actually pretty powerful arguments. "Good" does not exist external to perception or experience. I cannot experience the "good" of anyone else's experience, except in an extremely diluted way through empathic networks, so in order to maximize the amount of good that exists I must try to maximize my own pleasure and achieve my own values. This doesn't preclude helping others, we can be helpful to others if we enjoy or value being helpful, etc. Everyone accepts relativism on a small scale, like with favorite colors. It's not very different on a large scale, either. If someone is genetically modified to have a passionate drive to eat children, and has a burning desire to do so and sees nothing wrong with doing so, I think they should eat children. It's not justifiable to hold people to obligations that they don't internally recognize as correct, for the same reasons that "because God said so" is not an actual moral argument. There's an important difference between this kind of relativism and other kinds, though. The kind of relativism I'm trying to defend here doesn't say that nothing is wrong and that all paths lead up the same mountain, or whatever. I'm trying to say that because morality is derived from inherent values, where those inherent values change we will get different moral answers for different people. But most humans share a lot of values, so this kind of relativism really doesn't open itself up to the kind of gut-level criticism that most people throw at it, like the argumentum ad consequentum "but then everyone would murder everyone!" which is so popular. I personally don't follow any form of relativism, although I'm fairly selfish and egoist (yay rationality!), but that's because my ethics are totally ad hoc and disorganized. I personally use a sort of story based virtue
7[anonymous]10yWell, that's the difference between hard relativism and soft relativism. Hard relativism holds that there is no "right", and that's the one I think has to go. Mind you, I think the relativism you describe is still a bit hard for me - I'd argue that whilst what is right is relative in the sense that it's contingent on the situation at hand, within a given situation rightness is fixed and not at all dependent on one's viewpoint. I certainly don't agree that a relativism with any hardness to it follows from naturalism. I say this only to identify my position relative to your own, since this probably isn't the right place for me to start trying to debate against your ethics. Plus it's 2am and I spent all day at uni arguing ethics. I'm burnt out. I read the baby-eaters story a while ago - I think I disagree with EY on that one, although it's possible I misread it. I share his apparent belief that the baby-eaters had to be stopped: the babies were suffering and suffering=bad. I don't see why the first, "fake" ending was the sad one, though - to me the second, "real" ending was the horrible one and the fake one was close enough to what I would have tried for if I'd been there. I am warning you now, if I ever meet super-intelligent aliens who want to raise the human race up from perdition and erase the need for suffering, I'm going to be on the side of the angels until humanity sorts it's shit out.

Hm. If we were using physics here, I'd observe that a usable time turner has to be tied into things like the rotation and movement of the earth, because traveling back in time without taking those things into account somehow leaves one stranded in interplanetary or interstellar space. Given that we're talking magic, well, who knows. But sure, I agree that it's suggestive but inconclusive.

[-][anonymous]10y 6

The dark side is ridiculously afraid of death, which we know to be a Voldemort trait. It's also very much separate from Harry.

2chaosmosis10yI see fear of death as more of a universally human thing. I think that makes more sense than saying Voldemort's soul is inherently more fearful. I think people are attributing things to the dark side that don't really belong there. Why do you think the dark side is any more separate from Harry than Hufflepuff?
3[anonymous]10yHarry says it is, in Azkaban.
9Velorien10yI think the difference there is that Hufflepuff is a voice representing some of Harry's thoughts and attitudes, running in parallel with the voice that Harry thinks of as himself. His dark side is a different state of consciousness - while it's "on", Harry processes emotions differently to normal, as well as thoughts, and the difference is big enough for him to perceive a separation between the dark side and his usual self.
0Normal_Anomaly10yAnecdotal evidence: I have a mental separation in my own inner life between "modules", things like Harry's house avatars that interject thoughts into my ongoing thought process, and "other personalities," only one of which can be running at once. So the structure isn't totally unrealistic.

I don't think he really believes in magic... he just points out that belief is not necessary since it can be tested:

"Then you don't have to fight over this," Harry said firmly. Hoping against hope that this time, just this once, they would listen to him. "If it's true, we can just get a Hogwarts professor here and see the magic for ourselves, and Dad will admit that it's true. And if not, then Mum will admit that it's false. That's what the experimental method is for, so that we don't have to resolve things just by arguing."

Although... (read more)

5Desrtopa10yYou know, if it weren't for everyone else taking it so seriously, I would have (and did, before I started following discussions) dismissed Harry's so called dark side as a perfectly normal personality quirk which he makes a big deal of because once he's told he's a prophesied hero he feels he ought to have something dramatically appropriate like a mysterious dark side. In his place, I wouldn't be thinking "My mysterious dark side is good at X," I'd be thinking "I'm good at X when I put myself into the right frame of mind." Well, actually, in his place, I might be thinking "my mysterious dark side is good at X," but that's because if I were in his place, I'd be eleven.
1wedrifid10ySometimes I'm all simplistic and think to myself "I'm good at X when I get pissed off." Combined with a little emotional regulation with respect to pissed-off levels it amounts to much the same thing.
0DavidAgain10yEspecially if the 'frame of mind' has lots of other stuff going on as well: the implication is that he can't get the competence without the rest of the baggage. So it's like 'slightly drunk me is good at pool (but it also wants to drink more and thus become very bad at pool), rather than 'thoughtful me is good at understanding where other people are coming from'.
1chaosmosis10yOkay, that makes sense. But I disagree that the dark side is part of Voldemort's soul. The dark side is the one that wants to protect his friends, and calling it dark isn't really fair. Voldemort is pretty selfish so this doesn't seem like it applies to him. It's also been stressed in MOR that Harry's dark side isn't giving him access to any of Voldemort's powers. I think it's just a part of his psychology and lonely genius personality and that "the normal explanation is worth considering", even in the wizarding world. I just thought of something, and I'm not sure what the connection is to this but I feel like there is an underlying connection. Is EY emphasizing Snape's history for a pragmatic plot type reason? Maybe there's a secret reveal coming up, about Lily or something? This is purely intuitive so it's probably crap. But sometimes my intuition is smarter than my active thoughts.
5gwern10yI would have thought Parseltongue was an obvious example.
8Velorien10yIt also allows him to master the preparatory Occlumency exercises with extreme speed and ease. Which makes sense since the heart of Occlumency is assuming whatever personality you want at a given time, a gift Voldemort claims to have in abundance. My guess is that he's filling in Snape's character background to give him the full complexity he deserves as one of the major players. Although Dumbledore doesn't seem to think twice about him, Harry treats him as an obstacle, and Quirrell dismisses him as an opponent, it's been made clear that Snape is running his own multi-stage plans (such as his manipulation of Hermione), which interact and interfere with everyone else's. Perhaps his role is due to expand.

In canon, Snape was able to shut down everything Harry tried against him in combat in the sixth book, because as long as Harry hadn't mastered occlumency or silent spellcasting, his attacks were all sufficiently telegraphed that a superior duelist and leglimens like Snape could simply counter them all before he could fire them off.

4gwern10yIndeed. I'm reminded of martial arts - in a sparring match between a very fit beginner and a creaky master, the master still just toys with the beginner because their movements are so predictable. I've seen this in fencing, taekwondo, and karate, and it's a mixture of hilarious, impressive, and sad all at once.
2Desrtopa10yIf you're really good, you can toy around like that even with people who're quite proficient. I haven't seen it myself, but my sifu said that his teacher, grandmaster Al Dacascos, who's a first generation martial arts hall of famer, really is that good in his sixties, and on the wikipedia page of Kenshiro Abbe [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenshiro_Abe], it says that he recalled how his own kendo instructor, a 75 year old tenth dan (back when tenth dans in kendo actually still existed) couldn't be touched by any of the students or younger instructors.

You should probably cipher a bit of that. This part, specifically:

jub Dhvevahf Dhveeryy npghnyyl vf

I mean, unless you intend specifically to not follow a rule while criticizing the rule. You might notice that seems to attract disapproval.

I also really doubt that any police force would let a prisoner resist them that way again and again, they would call reinforcement and break him.

It happens they did not. We know that, because he isn't broken and there's no sign they tried, other than the mention that he has apparently sneezed more than once. Also, he's not under arrest.

The Defense Professor of Hogwarts was being detained, not arrested, not even intimidated.

Magical Britain has a history of exceedingly powerful individuals that the muggle world just doesn't. It is not unreasonable that law enforcement developed differently as a result.

“There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it."

-Lord Voldemort

[-][anonymous]10y 6

In Methods of Rationality, the Weasley twins refer to the Map as being part of the Hogwarts security system. So it probably gets the information from the wards.

My interpretation of the quote is that the Headmaster overrode the usual process of identification (which is automatic) in order to protect Quirrell's privacy; in that case, the Map would also know nothing beyond "The Defense Professor".

An alternative interpretation, however, is that the circle-drawing bit was only meant to key Quirrell into the wards as a professor. Normally, I suppose, ... (read more)

2fubarobfusco10yYes, but how do the wards get people's names? It's not like the name "Ron Weasley" is tattooed on every molecule of the boy's body. True Names are a feature of some systems of magic — Earthsea comes to mind — but not of the canon Potterverse, nor of MoR as far as I can recall. In canon, the name "Voldemort" has unusual power because of specific spells keyed on it, and it's an adopted name. Real-time Legilimency? If so, we would expect the map to display whatever name matched a person's self-image; and a sufficiently potent Occlumens could be expected to fool it by sufficiently good Method acting. On the other hand, there's a subsystem of Hogwarts Castle that does get told the name of every student on their first day, and has a close-up chance to read it from them by what resembles Legilimency: the Sorting Hat. Possibly a similar system is in place for professors and others ... which involves the Headmaster drawing a circle ...
2gwern10yYes; remember that they speculate it was made by Salazar himself, and remember in ch43 Quirrel independently says: The twins never mention in canon seeing the Basilisk on the map. (Salazar seems to have specialized in security - one of his other talents was being a Legilimens.)
6Desrtopa10yThat would have borked the plot, and it's entirely probable that Rowling hadn't even come up with the Marauder's Map by then. In MoR canon it probably makes more sense if it doesn't show up on it though; the whole Chamber of Secrets certainly doesn't.

Here's a vote for not-mind-reading. This seems deliberately written to suggest Quirrell's reacting to body language, not thought:

Without any conscious decision, she shifted her weight to the other foot, her body moving away from the Defense Professor -

"So you think I am the one responsible?" said Professor Quirrell.

How likely is it that the outcome of the Defense Professor's talk with Hermione was genuinely not what he wanted? Surely he has to have realized by now that Hermione is the sort of person who'd act like that, however incomprehensible it may be to him. I am reminded of the passage in the LotR omake that reads:

"If the Enemy thought that all his foes were moved by desire for power alone - he would guess wrongly, over and over, and the Maker of this Ring would see that, he would know that somewhere he had made a mistake!"

Maybe he truly doesn't un... (read more)

Hermione came very very close to agreeing with the Defense Professor, and we see him using all the ways and mannerisms which cause her to trust him a little bit more -- not to 'acquire extra suspicion'.

So, no, I think Quirrel made a very very good attempt at what he wanted -- getting Hermione away. He simply failed.

2gwern10yHe knows Hermione is suspicious of him. Why did he not let Harry - whom IIRC we previously saw saying that Hermione ought to be sent to Beauxbatons - beg Hermione to leave, or failing that, order her? Why did he make the blatantly manipulative hard-sell tactic of 'buy now, this is a limited-time offer only!' to someone whom he knows distrusts him, has read literature on manipulative tactics, and without giving a convincing Inside View explanation for why it's genuine and not what the Outside View says it is (manipulation)? Is this all reverse-psychology?

Why did he not let Harry - whom IIRC we previously saw saying that Hermione ought to be sent to Beauxbatons - beg Hermione to leave, or failing that, order her?

"Why did he not let"? I don't see any place where Quirrel isn't "letting" Harry do these things. Perhaps your question should be better phrased why he didn't ask Harry to do these things?

I think a simple enough answer is that he feels he has a better chance of convincing Hermione to leave, than to convince Harry to force Hermione to leave against her will. Since Bellatrix, Harry has learned to inquire about what is in it for Quirrel when Quirrel asks him to do things. And he'll see that wanting Hermione to leave may be to the advantage of whomever wanted to frame her in the first place, as both events lead to a Hogwarts without Hermione in it.

Is this all reverse-psychology?

I don't understand your usage of the term. It's me who's saying he wanted her to leave (aka non-reverse psychology), it's LKtheGreat and you who seem to be saying he was applying reverse-psychology and that he really wanted her to stay.

Why did he make the blatantly manipulative hard-sell tactic of 'buy now, this is a limited-t

... (read more)
6Desrtopa10yIt's particularly worth considering that if Quirrel's last success in manipulating Hermione came at the end of a long obliviation cycle, then that was achieved when she was already in a state of mental exhaustion.
2LKtheGreat10yExcellent point about Harry. The Defense Professor virtually certainly knows Harry's opinions on the subject, whether by his mental model of Harry or by observing him telling anyone who'll listen that Hogwarts is dangerous. On the other hand, I believe we've seen Harry failing to convince Hermione of something she was morally set on, much like this. (Anybody remember the specific incident, or am I imagining things?) Once Hermione had refused Harry's entreaties for her to leave, it would have been much harder for the Defense Professor to change her opinion. And finally, there's this: Which supports your argument that he's being a little too over-the-top. The Defense Professor is above all, subtle - this kind of all-out effort is not like him. Maybe there's some time constraint, though, and he doesn't have time for "subtle?" Aargh.

We cannot privilige the human experience, and therefore the length of the earth day cannot be a physical constant.

The length of an earth day is part of all Earth life experience, not uniquely human.

[-][anonymous]10y 5

This attempted murder was well-planned to evade detection both by the wards of Hogwarts and the Headmaster's timely eye.

Quirrell sure loves his stealth puns. Is there any reason he is not openly telling Hermione about Dumbledore's time turner?

The Defense Professor turned his head down from the sky to regard her; and she saw, in the light of the doorway, that he was smiling - or at least half his face was smiling.

Is Quirrell's half-smile a reference to Robin Hanson's picture?

1pedanterrific10yWhy would it benefit him for her to know about it? If the light's coming from the doorway, it's one side of his face that's illuminated, not the bottom. Edit: ...that is a pretty creepy picture, isn't it?

The dark side isn't even a personality, as such, which implies strongly that it's not a soul.

I was originally going to put a quote here, but it turned out to be pretty much half the chapter, so... Chapter 56. In particular, when you read

a blind terrified thing that only wanted to find a dark corner and hide and not have to think about it any more - [...]

Visualizing himself cradling his dark side like a frightened child in his arms.

Think back to Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36: King's Cross, specifically the bit

He was the only person there, except for

... (read more)


Not so, good sir. Do you call me a liar? I would challenge you on the field of honor, had I any.

For what it's worth, I hadn't read the Rowling books when I first read MoR, and finding out who Quirrell was was actually somewhat of a shock. I'm the target audience for this rule, so far as any such exists, and I think it's pretty dumb.

Is anyone logging anecdotes? We've got one here!

I wouldn't just slap it on as a chapter title if I was the editor, but if you're reading this forum thread, certain things are assumed of you.

Okay. That's coo... (read more)

He said "responding to unmarked edit" as though there was something wrong with failing to mark a simple addition made 10 seconds after the original post. I was confused, since it was not my experience that anyone considered this a problem anywhere.

That said, even the sort of people who go to such events probably have some limits.

Yes. It sounds like it takes them twenty minutes to start making the best of things.

I hadn't realized that Eliezer retracted the statement or that I was I was violating the rules.

In general, when someone says something is a spoiler and should be put in ROT13, the polite thing to do is to comply. You can then argue that it shouldn't be necessary, after the damage control is done.

If you're failing to do that, then the only recourse the rest of us have is to downvote the comment several times so that it is by default hidden from view. I will generally check back in a day to see if the spoiler has been ROT13'd, and reverse my downvote if... (read more)

6pleeppleep10yI have never posted a spoiler before, nor had I intended to. I was not aware that confidence was to be given to the accusing party. I will keep this in mind in the future.
3ArisKatsaris10yIt's not about who's the "accusing party", it's about limiting potential damage. It would have cost you only a few seconds to edit in order to rot13 or remove something you were told was spoiler -- an action which would have been of positive utility to us, of hardly any cost to you -- instead you preferred to spend a hundredfold times that amount of time in a negative-sum game, where we lose because the damn spoiler is still up, and you lose by losing all your karma, and we ALL lose by wasting time debating this back and forth. Why don't we instead trade utilities, you by editing to remove/rot13 the spoiler, and I by removing my own downvotes of you? As could have been done from the very first post?
5Percent_Carbon10yNot everyone is losing. For example, I've been enjoying this. I doubt I'm the only one.
4Viliam_Bur10yFirst time it can be amusing, but if such situation would repeat often, the amusement would fade and the costs would stay. So I cooperate with my future selves by resisting to act on my amusement.
7Percent_Carbon10yI can't tell if you're telling me I don't actually enjoy this or if you're threatening me with promises that time will deliver retribution. Things like this are why I can't convince my friends that you guys aren't a "system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object." I don't know what you're saying but I'll bet p>0.75 there's a way to say it without sounding like a fucking time traveler. EDIT: I mean to say that you use phrases that reference something common to some group you belong to, but uncommon to the public majority. I could say you sound like you come from fairy land or a phyg or outer space, but saying that you sound like you come from another time seemed the most apt until I noticed the phrase I criticized said something about your future selves. Maybe that's why I thought of time travel. I wasn't taking you literally. EDIT II: Son of Edit: Phyg [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bql/our_phyg_is_not_exclusive_enough/6ch6]
3Viliam_Bur10yI'm threatening you that time may deliver more discussions about whether we should or shouldn't rot-13 the spoilers, how exactly the spoiler is defined, etc... and that can become rather boring. And by the way, I am a time traveller [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ve/mundane_magic/], I just always move in the same direction with a constant speed. Point taken, though.
3pleeppleep10yI actually agree, Although it is rather exasperating to argue against a larger group of people.
2Random83210yA post only needs a score of -1 to be hidden. The post currently stands at -12 points, in addition to ongoing punitive serial-downvoting of his (and my) further posts on the issue (most of which both did not mention the spoiler and were hidden under the hidden post).
1thomblake10yBy default, posts with -2 or less are hidden. (I just created a new account to check). I'm pretty sure the default used to be -4. That is not relevant to anything I said. People can downvote for whatever reason they want, and should generally do so to mean "I want to see fewer comments like this one".
2Douglas_Knight10yBy default, comments with a score of -2 are visible and with a score of -3 are hidden. The preferences page is confusing because it uses "below" as a strict inequality. I believe this was the original default, though there may have been something else in the middle.

Are you suggesting there's some rule about what a post 'deserves' in terms of votes?

The actual mechanic is that scores or hundreds of individuals read each post. If they like it, they hit upvote. If they don't like it, they hit downvote. Some voters may think "this has enough upvotes already" and not upvote even though they like a post. Some voters may think "this has enough downvotes to collapse and I only get a limited number of downvotes myself so I'll save them for things other people aren't downvoting." But in the end it is mo... (read more)

8pleeppleep10yI wasn't suggesting any rules, I was pointing out that this case seemed less than fair to me. In any case I suppose you're right.

It was like a glass of warm water thrown into her face.

What exactly is this supposed to evoke?

3knb10yIt was a surprise, but a "warm" (i.e. emotionally positive) surprise.
1gwern10yIt's... um, oversteeped lukewarm tea!

The prophecy (at least canon - I remember MOR having a slightly different one, but cannot find it offhand) could point to two identities of Tom Riddle. The hero and the villain. Neither can (truly) live while the other survives.

3Normal_Anomaly10yUnfortunately that's one of the phrases that isn't in the MOR version. It's "either must destroy all but a remnant of the other, for those two spirits cannot exist in the same world."
2[anonymous]10yThat part could still fit. Certainly Voldemort and Noble Hero cannot (simultaneously) exist in the same world. "The one with the power approaches" seems anachronistic, though, and "Born to those who have thrice defied him" doesn't make much sense unless we assume the defying happened after he was born (even then, it doesn't quite fit). Finally, "He will have power the Dark Lord knows not" is virtually impossible if they are the same person.

That part could still fit. Certainly Voldemort and Noble Hero cannot (simultaneously) exist in the same world.

For more than six hours a day.

Not that Rowling did impeccable world-building, but is it possible to put together a plausible history of muggle influences on wizarding culture?

9Velorien10yIn the first place, I realise that you're probably going for an understatement, but I think it's worth noting that Rowling's world-building, in terms of thinking through consequences and implications, is actually atrocious rather than merely inferior. I'll never forget the moment when I realised that DISINTEGRATING LIVE KITTENS is standard spell practice for schoolchildren in the Potterverse, and no-one bats an eyelid. I sometimes ponder whether Rowling herself places an unnaturally low value on any form of life that can't speak a human language, or whether the themes evoked in the last books (that wizards are overdue to pay for their appalling record on non-human rights) are deliberately woven into the Potterverse at an extremely deep level. That aside, could you give some examples of what you would consider such influences? Given that senior wizards in canon need to have guns explained to them, and that Muggle expert Arthur Weasley struggles to even pronounce "electricity", wizard obliviousness to Muggle society would seem to run so deep that I struggle to imagine one much influencing the other.
6Alsadius10yWhat's wrong with disintegrating kittens? They're not much different than chickens, and we slaughter a billion of those(literally) every week. Also, if you didn't realize by book 7 that wizarding Britain is actually a pretty terrible place, you weren't paying much attention.
6Velorien10yWizarding Britain is a pretty terrible place - my contention is that I don't think Rowling realised how terrible it was when she was writing the books. Actually, as an ethical vegetarian, I find plenty wrong with that too. But that's besides the point. The point is that, in our world, the slaughtering is still done * In specialised places away from the public eye * By professionals who have chosen to work as farmers * On animals which are culturally designated as food animals The average teenager does not kill animals unless they've been brought up on a farm or in a context in which certain species have been firmly categorised as pests/vermin in their minds. They especially do not kill animals they categorise as pets unless they are psychologically disturbed. Here we have a classroom of average teenagers who unhesitatingly follow instructions to kill kittens, in spite of the fact that some of them have pet cats and that there is no higher purpose for doing so (the goal is apparently to be able to Vanish higher-level animals still). Not one of them is described as objecting or showing distress (which even Milgram's subjects did).
3Alsadius10yThere is no way that any citizen of a modern democracy could have written the courtroom scene in Order of the Phoenix and thought well of the society that produced it. That's when I started to really see how rotten the country was. Similarly, look at the utter incompetence of the politicians - they're worse than ours, and that takes some doing. There's enough other examples scattered throughout that I cannot believe that they were placed there unconsciously. And yes, slaughtering is done in slaughterhouses...because it's messy, smelly, and requires some pretty specialized sanitation measures. The average teenager doesn't assemble cars either, for similar reasons, but they wouldn't object to auto shop. You're right that the pet/food distinction exists, though it's not universal - horse, for example, has commonly been treated as both. The fact that they use cats is odd for the muggleborn, even if wizards put them into a different category(assuming that they do die). And re Milgram, remember that they were zapping humans, not animals. Even most vegetarians I know feel there's a pretty important difference there.
7Velorien10yI agree that the politicians are deliberately incompetent/immoral, but overall my perspective on Rowling's world-building is opposite to yours. There are so many gaping flaws and inconsistencies in the Potterverse as a whole that I have trouble believing that a specific minority is deliberate while all the others are accidental. Also, Rowling isn't exactly subtle with her villains. With the possible exceptions of Snape and very late Draco, Potterverse evil is morally unambiguous and obvious to the reader. This inclines me to believe that if an act is in no way condemned within the text, explicitly or implicitly, this is because it is not intended to be seen as wrong. You seem to imply that, if it could be done in a suitably clean and convenient fashion, the average teenager would happily slaughter their own cows, chickens, lambs etc. for dinner on a daily basis, without a preceding process of desensitisation (which the majority do not go through). I disagree. Definitely, but I think it's quantitative rather than qualitative. A human's suffering might have 500 AU of emotional impact whereas a cat's has 50, but when an animal's pain or distress is obvious, there will still be emotional consequences for the one causing it (unless they have succeeded in fully objectifying the animal, the way a psychopath objectifies other humans).
7Alsadius10yWorld-building: Plot holes are a lot easier to make by mistake than atmosphere for the average author. Most of the "this place sucks" seems atmospheric to me - Rowling may not have thought as poorly of her world as I do, but I doubt she thinks it'd be a great place to live after the wonder wore off. Unambiguous evil: I disagree entirely. Yes, the Death Eaters and Dementors are unambiguous, but Snape drove back and forth across that line so many times that it's ridiculous("possible", really?), Grindelwald was appealing enough to draw Dumbledore in, Hagrid was criminally stupid half the times we saw him(literally), Lockhart/Slughorn/every politician were some combination of pathetic and loathsome, Percy Weasley was an utter git and a massive enabler, and I could go on. Admittedly, most of those weren't big-E Evil, but they certainly did not lack for human flaws and ill consequences. Don't let the unambiguousness of Voldemort or Umbridge fool you. Slaughter: It wasn't that long ago that's precisely what happened. And even today, I spent the last few days with the part of my family that's farmers, and all of them have been hunting since childhood. Perhaps that's "desensitization", but if so it's an utterly common sort in the right cultures. Death being locked away is a modern innovation, not the natural order of things. Milgram: Yes, people react extremely poorly to animals suffering - sometimes worse than to humans suffering(which can be funny or just, depending, not necessarily simple torture). But Vanishing is not suffering, it's simply death, as odd as that sounds. That's a lot easier to handle when it's applied to animals.
3Velorien10yYet the "this place sucks" atmosphere doesn't actually kick in for real until Book 5, when the protagonist finds himself on the wrong side of the barricades for the first time (and also when Rowling leaves the teenage angst tap on). Until then, the dominant theme is that of a marvellous, whimsical magical world that's so dazzling with its uniqueness that you don't stop to question the holes and contradictions. It seems likely that touches such as Vanishing kittens are meant to be seen in this context rather than the negative one of the later books (which in any case focuses heavily on formal structures such as law, politics and media rather than day-to-day social practices). That's exactly my point. Apart from Snape, the reader never has to stop and think "is this person good or bad?" Grindelwald is charming but proto-evil even in his youth (based on his views), Hagrid is unambiguously well-intentioned even at his stupidest, Lockhart and Slughorn are clearly low-grade evil (though at least by the time we get to Slughorn, Rowling is learning to make bad people slightly sympathetic), and Percy Weasley has no redeeming features until he actually gets redeemed. You never have to think in order to tell good from bad (apart from Snape). And this leads me to believe that if something is not portrayed as bad in the least, then you're not meant to think it is, because it seems foolish to save all your subtlety for details of world-building and use none in characterisation. That's not relevant in this context, though. We're not dealing with people from cultures elsewhere in the world, or from a different time period. We're dealing with modern British children, some from Muggle society and some from wizard society, engaging in practices that contradict at least the norms of Muggle society and possibly the wizard one as well. Yup, and that would certainly reduce the psychological impact of Vanishing Charm practice to some extent. Of course, there are also other spells practi
0Alsadius10yI find your impressions of good and evil rather amusing. Grindelwald is basically a utilitarian, something that most people are, he just doesn't do it very well. Slughorn was specifically introduced to be a good guy Slytherin, if a bit weaselly, so I disagree with you there as well. And Percy's a tool, but he's not actually evil, he's mostly just self-important and clueless - ditto Lockhart, for that matter. It's nowhere near as morally arguable as MoR, but it's hardly a world of cardboard either. Re Vanishing, that's a fair point. But to counter - what do the kids get told about where the cats go? Regardless of the truth of the matter, if they're told "Oh, we just bring them back after class", then they'll be fine with it.
5pedanterrific10yLockhart mindwiped a bunch of people to steal credit for their good deeds. He ended up attempting to mindwipe Harry and Ron. He's evil.
0loserthree10yEvil, perhaps, but also correct about some important points. If you compare his back story to Harry Potter's interactions with the public in the remainder of the series, Lockhart does handle fame better and if he'd taken credit (and if there hadn't been a series of additional threats waiting in the wings that he had no reason to expect) it would have been better for Harry to have been ignorant of his own involvement. Lockhart's fame-sink argument may well have been just as correct for all those other, earlier people he swindled. But I agree that Rowling meant him to be irredeemably evil.
1pedanterrific10yWhat does the EV stand for in this case? Edit: He tried to mindwipe them before they actually killed the basilisk. And I always read as indicating a complete mindwipe, of the sort that (not coincidentally) happened to Lockhart when his spell backfired.
2loserthree10yGah! Thank you. I'll excuse myself by saying I just got up, it's early 'morning' for my graveyard shift. That would quite exactly undo the entire reason I use that name. How embarra