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This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 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, 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 

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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.

And 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.)
Yeah. He did. And yeah, that's odd. There's probably something else going on there that we don't know about.
He'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?


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.

Maybe 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.

You're probably right. I have no fucking clue what you're thinking.
One 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.
I 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".
Well, I thought it was!
I 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.
I 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)

That 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)

Yeah, 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.
My 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.

I 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.
There'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.
So 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."
He 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.
You think that someone as competent as Voldemort couldn't have created a faster exit strategy?
The 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.
I 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.
If I were Voldemort, I wouldn't have waited on that prophesy until I needed to make an exit.
Love it!
So 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?
That 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.
I will definitely have to put that in my General-Purpose Excuses File. :-)
Quirrell's body is in its 30s.
My 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.
I 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".

Asking 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.
Pretending 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.
This 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.

It used to say "adult wizard" yes -- I just confirmed it with an old pdf.
Maybe 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.

I think Quirrell is working with an unconventional definition of Dark. Something like "in violent opposition to you."
That 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.

On 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.
In 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

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.

Church 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.
This would explain why religion never comes up in canon.
It 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?

Which is much less of an issue if your own parents and grandparents (and maybe even another generation) are around to dote on your children.
Except 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.
Particularly since there's almost certainly an easy spell for that.
Which seems to be unknown to 7th year students of Hogwarts. Sigh. Magical education is seriously lacking.
Or 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?
Or maybe they simply wanted a child? That can happen at that age, even if it's not all that common in our societies.
True. 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.
Perhaps 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.
More likely, parents got offended by the thought of that spell getting taught officially, and the (edit)Davises just missed out on the unofficial version?
Have we heard of magical Britain being remarkably prudish in either MOR or canon?
1) 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.

Might be a Baby Boom effect, combined with high death rates from the wars. Basically, WWII still has visible effects.
Considering 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.

And thus did the nine Ancient and Most Noble Houses of Britain become eight.
Fetusmouth sounds to me remarkably like a synonym for "babyeater".

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.

I'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.
Speaking 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.
Beyond 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.
I 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.
Yeah, but even with birth control our families are bigger than that. Perhaps it's just Voldemortality?
Well, 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.)
Nitpick: 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.
Maybe 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.
I'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..

I 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.)
Definitely. 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.
It'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?
I 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.
I 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.
I 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 Crowley12y
Thank 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.

Said 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. "
Whether 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.
Facepalm 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.

Yeah, it was a total cheat. That's why I put my anagram in the Dramatis Personae.
Incidentally, what's happened with that play since I left my comment?
Most 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.
That's too bad. Maybe you should just re-release it for free so you at least get some readers?
The 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.
Am I misremembering? Isn't that after the point where he anagrammatizes it for Harry in the CoS?
Definitely 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.
Oh 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.
Ah. 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).

Fixed the Azkaban/Hogwarts mistake. And yes, the Yule speech belongs there as well.
Not 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.
I 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?
Chapter 12 (the Welcoming Feast):
The the first omake in chapter eleven, combined with the "philosophy of fanfiction" in the "more info," at, 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.
My 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.)
On 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.
This 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.

Interestingly 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.
Hm, 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.

If Dumbledore had that kind of leverage, he would have used it to either move or destroy the Philosopher's Stone.

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?


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.

On 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.

Well, 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.
My 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.
Changing 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.)
See, 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. (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 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.

Additionally, 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.
When 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".]
Hmm. 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.
EY 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.

The 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.

Listening 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.
To 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.
Casting the charm is also an admission of defeat.
You 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?
The FluidSynth sound fonts are quite nice within their instruments' usual range, but do try going up or down a bit far for great lulz.
This is might be my favourite comment thread on all of Less Wrong. Terrible pity that the poster left! EDIT: Semi-relevant. EDIT 2: I have a great love for some technically awful music that I find still entertains me loads. I inflict The Shaggs on my friends in college every excuse I get.
When 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!

Is 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.

This 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.
Um, his "good" deed consisted of attempting to set up a fake ultimate hero and getting really pissed of when people didn't fall for it.
We don't actually know that yet. It's only a popular fan theory.
Velorien 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.
I 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.

You know you love it.
I do, that's the worst part.
I 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.
Who 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 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.
I 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.
Not 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.
Remember: Quirrell can care about his students any time he likes, because he's not Good.
Or 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".
Upvoted 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.

That seems like the sort of thing wizards would heal as a matter of course.
Not first-years. (I'm referring to the scene at breakfast before the arrest.)
Ah, 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.
Really? 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.

Both 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.


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?

It'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.
It 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.

Quidditch 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",

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.

To 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".
Hypothesis: 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.

Alas. 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.
I 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.

Not 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 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 the Potters being betrayed, because he expected Voldemort to be blindsided by Lily's sacrifice, since "evil ca

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.


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)

Yeah 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.
I guess it depends on your definition of "good". Care to quantify yours?
I 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.
(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
Fantastic. 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.
If 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?
I don't know how long he thought it would take, but it sounds like he had no idea how hard it would suck.
What 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.
The 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.
Before 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.
"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.
The 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.
That 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.
Yes. Exactly. That's my point. (Not sure why you said this.)
(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. )
On the contrary, the reference to Albania is almost certainly a clue to the reader that the hero was replaced.
So 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 t
I 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!).
Some 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.

I would be really interested in the result of this experiment.
There 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)

Having 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.
On 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.
Hmm, interesting. I may well have read that and forgotten the Harry reference, I knew he was working on exercises.
I 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.

If 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.
He 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.
Either 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...

Possibly 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.
Seeing this before the parent, I thought you meant kissing, which worked on Harry when he was demented, and references fairy tales.
And I hope the next thing he does is to teach her how to cast the True Patronus.
How 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...
Harry's sure. EDIT: I think he also believed he could teach Malfoy.

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.)

My 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?
Thomas 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.
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Wait, 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.

I have no idea how to interpret the first clue. Are Voldemort's eyes Remembralls?
My 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.
Well, 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.
Much more than infancy - apparently everything before 10 is suspect, and everything before 4 especially so according to Wikipedia on childhood amnesia.
The basilisk has yellow eyes in the movies, and probably in book-canon as well. Are they explicitly stated to be red in MOR?
Yes. 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.
Yes, 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”.
After 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.
I prefer "Time turners are supposed to be a secret, don't flaunt it".
That 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.

Hum, 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.

Ha, another magical weapon of mass destruction. Hop on a broom and repeatedly cast Arresto Momentum on the Earth.
Genius. 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.
I 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.

The 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.

Yup. 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.
Couldn't agree more.