- This thread has run its course. You will find newer threads in the discussion section.

Another discussion thread - the fourth - has reached the (arbitrary?) 500 comments threshold, so it's time for a new thread for Eliezer Yudkowsky's widely-praised Harry Potter fanfic.

Most of the paratext and fan-made resources are listed on Mr. LessWrong's author page. There is also AdeleneDawner's collection of most of the previously-published Author's Notes.

Older threads: one, two, three, four. By tag.

Newer threads are in the Discussion section, starting from Part 6.

Spoiler policy as suggested by Unnamed and approved by Eliezer, me, and at least three other upmodders:

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

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

It would also be quite sensible and welcome to continue the practice of declaring at the top of your post which chapters you are about to discuss, especially for newly-published ones, so that people who haven't yet seen them can stop reading in time.

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Chapter 61:

So Voldemort is a perfectionist seeking the "most powerful" combination of enemy, servant, and ancestor. Nice and good. But it sounds like if he were maybe a little less perfectionist, he could get any servant (I'm sure Lucius could spare Crabbe or Goyle, or he could just buy a house elf), any enemy (it's not like he doesn't have enough enemies, and anyone who wasn't an enemy before he took their blood would certainly be afterward), and so the only even slightly hard-to-come-by ingredient is the bones of the ancestor. So why in the name of Merlin haven't the bones of all Voldemort's ancestors been dug up and placed in a locked box under Dumbledore's desk? How come Mad-Eye Moody is out guarding the graveyard as if leaving Dark Lord Resurrection Ingredient #3 literally lying in the ground is at all safe?

(even so, an MoR-worthy solution would be for Voldemort to grab a sufficiently old hominid from a museum and assume it was common ancestor to everyone, but it would at least slow him down).

7Eliezer Yudkowsky
I congratulate you on noticing your own confusion. Yes, I thought of that.
5Desrtopa
Canon Voldemort killed his own father. Since he was already planning to make the horcruxes anyway (or perhaps that was how he started? I forget.) what I would have done in his place was secure some of his bone at that time so I would have it available I case I ever had need to revive myself. Of course, I would also have had Bellatrix donate some flesh, which I would keep frozen somewhere inconspicuous, unless the recipe actually requires that it be fresh.
1sanyasi
I think Voldemort would have been staggeringly stupid NOT to have kept a remnant of his father's body given how much blood magic requires these types of ingredients.
4Waffle_Iron
I had assumed that Dumbledore had destroyed the remains but posted a guard at the grave in case someone showed up.
3ArisKatsaris
Another question is: would the most immediate or the most distant ancestor possible count as the best option for Voldemort? If the most distant, then he'll probably be wanting Salazar Slytherin's bones. If their location is known. A hominid fossil might have no living descendants at all.
1sanyasi
I think a fossilized hominid might have worse than average chance of having no living descendants too: To be fossilized they have to undergo a fossilization event, which is probably correlated with disaster: and given that ancient human did not stray far from their genetic siblings (and progeny) this probably indicates a high chance of that disaster affecting their progeny. I certainly wouldn't rely on it. Nevertheless, given my cultural heuristic for what counts as most important, it would probably be father (in terms of how much various cultures put a value on either the father or the mother), or most recognized powerful ancestor (Salazar Slytherin in this case).
1TobyBartels
That would not be a safe assumption; most of what we dig up are our auncles, not our parents. Still, it's worth a try.
[-]Mercy220

Not having read fanfiction before, one thing I find fascinating about MoR is the Americanisation. Mostly it's just fun to spot trivia but the way Eliezer deals with class is pretty curious and I thought I'd get some thoughts down:

Rowling is very careful in the series to draw her heroes from a cross section of the "honest" classes: Ron obviously is very stereotypically working class, Hermoine's upper middle (though not management) and the Dursleys are little englanders.

So kicking Harry up to Hermoine's class (and giving him a multi-barelled surname to boot! Though I'm not sure if that's a stereotype in the US?) and replacing Ron with the aristocratic Draco narrows the class perspective quite a bit. I wonder if this contributes to the more personal air to the fic's conflicts, particularly as Quirrelmort lacks Voldemort's evil aristocrat act, and Draco's now more of a racist than a snob. I'm thinking of reading some more american fanfics, to see how they handle things, it's an interesting insight into how the american's think about class (I'm looking forward to the American adaption of Skins for similar reasons, though in that case the relationship is reversed).

9AdeleneDawner
I'm not sure what stereotype you're referring to, but the length of Harry's surname reads to me as almost a parody of the inclination to signal egalitarianism. I take it as evidence that his adopted parents (particularly the father) are Very Liberal, but that's all. I hadn't actually noticed that particular issue before, but now that it's been pointed out, it seems to me more like a LessWrong-related bias than an American one. We like to focus on big, progressive, constructive issues, and upper-class people are in a better position to do so meaningfully; stories with disenfranchised characters are more likely to deal with apartment cows like 'how can I keep my abusive stepfather from attacking me' and 'how can I afford to replace my broken wand', which we don't generally like to think about.

My big problem is the amazing breadth of American idiom that somehow falls out of the mouth of a child brought up by Oxford academics. Those kids really just don't talk like that. Not even slightly. It jars every single time and gives the impression of an author who can't be bothered.

If the characters in a story are supposed to be speaking Mandarin, no one, not even bilingual Chinese Americans, will complain that the American author wrote the dialogue in American English rather than the words the characters are literally speaking. Unfortunately, it appears that British English is too close to American English for dialogue between British characters to receive the same concession.

5Normal_Anomaly
As an American, I don't particularly mind the Americanisms. If EY tried to write in British English, it would come out stilted and sound wrong to both nationalities. If he got a Britpicker, it would take longer for new chapters to come out. I don't like either of those options. On the other hand, translations are being done into Chinese, Korean, and German. Is there anyone here willing to translate it into British?
5shokwave
If it helps you suspend disbelief, the early chapters gave me the impression that Harry was brought up by books, with his parents playing a supervising role at best.
6David_Gerard
Kids like that are already brought up by books. And Hermione talks like that in the story too. No, it's a common careless HP fanfic author failure mode, not anything clever or intentional.
6thomblake
I don't really see it as careless; it's just a work obviously written by an American. Well, I guess I do see it as careless, in the sense that "I don't care".
5Risto_Saarelma
This seems like something that would take some amount of work to fix in case the author did care. Problem with speech pattern differences is that you have no idea they're there if you're not familiar with the target speech pattern, so it's not like regular fact checking where you can generally tell when you're dealing with something tricky. I'm not terribly familiar with spoken English and had no idea about incongruent Americanese in the lines, though I can't think of anyone sounding very British either now that you mention it. The most straightforward fix would seem to be to run the dialogue through a native British English speaking editor, and that's a bit heavyweight for a fanfic.

In fanfiction, the problem is solved (if the writer cares) collaboratively-- American writers trying to do British English well is such a common problem that the proof-reading and copy-editing has a name: Britpicking. I assume that most of that is done by native speakers.

The problems can be subtle. I was shocked to find that modern British English doesn't include "gotten". How do they make it through the day without such a useful word?

And I'm not going to mention the book because the author's a friend, but she writes excellent British English. When she had a couple of short passages of American dialogue, the result was agonizing. She didn't make the typical error of exaggerating differences, but there was something very wrong with the rhythm.

6David_Gerard
It bloody does include "gotten"! It's just regarded as an "Americanism", hence evil to the purity and beauty of the sacred English tongue [*]. British writers writing 'Merkin can be painful. I'm Australian and even I can tell. [*] may not be 100% pure nor 100% sacred. Beauty may vary. Grammar may have settled in shipping.
4NancyLebovitz
I did two polls because of annoying constraints. The second one has comments, the first one may eventually get comments. The results back up what you've said.
3NancyLebovitz
Thanks. At this point, since I did get this confirmed by someone British, I'm going to do a livejournal survey. There may be local variation.
1David_Gerard
In fiction, it would pretty much never be wrong to remove "gotten", but it does come out of their mouths.
5NancyLebovitz
That's an interesting question. British people-- some of them (and not all Americans, apparently) do use 'gotten', but seeing them use it in print will destroy some readers' suspension of disbelief. Truth or plausibility? It seems to me that it would add versimilitude to have some British characters use more Americanisms than others, but that might be too subtle.
5NihilCredo
They just use "got" - at least, that's what I was taught in school. And I would definitely appreciate it if Eliezer had a Britpicker "fix" HP:MoR. There should be good chances of a sufficiently dedicated fan in Albion.
7David_Gerard
Preferably someone who lives in Oxford or Cambridge and knows from personal experience what the smart children of academics in those cities talk like. LessWrong would be one of the few sites where there would actually be quite a lot of people fitting that criterion ...
1Larks
There are no small children in Oxford; the place is entirely populated by students, academics who used to be students, and tourists. The surrounding villages are fairly normal though. By which I mean typical English home-county. ETA: But Harry is in no means typical. Unless something awful happens to these kids at puberty, there just aren't enough player characters at 18 for Harry to be the norm.
2David_Gerard
However, I think they'd be good enough examples that Harry PVE could be expected not to talk in American slang.
5NihilCredo
Can you give a few examples of MoR's more blatant Americanisms? As a non-native speaker, asides from the spelling issues ("realis/ze", "toward/s") and the most iconic terms ("bloody" vs. "doggone"), it's hard to notice and remember which side of the Atlantic any given phrase comes from.
6AstroCJ
raises hand Hey, I'm originally of British origin. I can indeed confirm that the language Harry uses has made me wince a little. This hasn't happened in the last few chapters, since we've been hearing from harry!Mort rather than Harry, and mind-dumps don't respect style, but "I'm in Mary's Place, Professor, in Diagon Alley. Going to the restroom actually. What's wrong?" -contains the word "restroom", which no speaker of British English would ever use in that context, and the question "What's wrong?" is a little aggressive. I would suggest something like "I'm in Mary's Place, Professor, in Diagon Alley. Ah, I'm actually just going to the bathroom - is there something wrong?"
4[anonymous]
Aside: As an American, I've often been quite surprised to find out that authors were British (if I read the books before I got background on the author.) My reaction is "British? It can't be!" This has happened with Alan Moore, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, and Charles Stross. I wonder when my brain will figure out that not everyone who's fun to read is from my home country.
2David_Gerard
Americans who learn music from British rock bands too. The British learn it from the Americans then sell it back to them better. That's why it's always fun to see Alan Moore writing in what's quite definitely British rather than in American. (And Neil Gaiman married an American, his children are American and he's lived in America for many years.)
1shokwave
Fair enough, this is a derivative work and shouldn't deviate from the established canon except where it needs to. I am tempted to argue for a special exemption in the case of Harry Potter fanfictions written by authors more skilled than Rowling.
4whpearson
There are things that assume American style systems that just don't exist over here. In the first chapter it talks about "Elementary Schools", where in the British system it would be Prep schools, probably (they tend to be classed the "best"). And Tenure doesn't exist in the same way. It didn't jar with me too much. I just ignored the fact it was supposed to be British, to be honest.
1confuzatron
Prep schools - as a Scot I have no idea what they are and they sound awfully posh. Are they the same thing as primary schools?
0whpearson
Awfully posh independent primary school is a good description. Although the sometimes go up to 13 years old as well.
6Eugine_Nier
In countries with an aristocratic tradition, upper class people tend to have multiple middle names and surnames to better show off all the prominent families the person descends from.
5David_Gerard
This tends not to be done in Britain. (Hyphenation does appear at all social strata to some degree.)
2Mercy
I don't buy your second point here, because while in reality yes, the rich have the ability if not necessarily the inclination to deal with the world's problems, stories about those problems tend to maximise emotional impact by making their protagonists part of whatever strata of society is most affected by them. In the story of english democracy, the Chartists are much more sympathetic than Disraeli, and Christy Moore is unlikely to write a song praising John Major for his role in the peace process. If Eliezer were writing an original story with a similar plot to MoR, he'd be well advised to amp up the prejudice against Muggle Borns and make his hero one. I suspect the narrow class focus here is an incidental result of the intersection of his interests and Rowling's, particularly her fondness for "salt of the earth" working class stereotypes. That is, Rowling made all the smart kids posh and Eliezer picked all the smart kids.
0Normal_Anomaly
I agree with this, and I think it may also have been inspired by/intended as a parody of either: *The fanfics where Harry finds out he's descended from Merlin or the Founders and picks up a pile of extra surnames *The use of hyphenated titles for characters like Boy-Who-Lived or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in canon and fanfic Even if it's not inspired by either of those, the associations made it funnier. [edited for format issues]
4NancyLebovitz
Good point about narrowing of the range of classes-- now that you mention it, the effect is a little claustrophobic for me compared to canon. I think not having Hagrid has somewhat of the same effect-- he comes off as a something of a low-status outsider, even before we find out he's half giant. I'll be curious to see if you find patterns about class in American fanfic, but it's worth remembering that it's a non-random sample and probably won't give you a complete view of how Americans think about class.
6NancyLebovitz
Now I'm wondering what fiction about a rationalist who's not extraordinarily intelligent and who's up against significant prejudice would look like.

Now i'm wondering about that too. The best way to show how rationality wins (if it does, in fact, win) would be to show how it works even for someone of average intelligence - otherwise you can never be sure if you're looking at the effects of superior intelligence instead.

4NihilCredo
A very intelligent but irrational person is easy to show, but a rational yet dumb one seems much harder to me. I suppose you could ham-fist it by making them suck at various intellectual challenges - any better ideas?
7Vaniver
I thought early Bella from Luminosity did a pretty good job at showing someone rational but with no special cognitive abilities (we're talking about averages, here, not idiots). She just had noticed her limitations and practiced at overcoming them, but that by itself was very good at making her more effective. One of the simplest author tricks I can come up with is to give your character a thought speed and stick to it. Harry seems to run through ten lines of text in seconds, sometimes, but if you go with, say, your speed reading aloud you can get a reasonable estimate of how long it takes an average person to ponder something. People can mention how they zone out; they can miss opportunities; they can not come up with a good enough solution in time. They can make conscious decisions about what they will and will not think about.
6cousin_it
Stubbornly refusing to believe in magic. Stubbornly agreeing with an outside view prediction even when faced with many convincing arguments why this example is special, if most examples are expected to have similarly convincing arguments. Stubbornly refusing to consider solutions to a problem before examining it more carefully. Quickly changing opinion when faced with a valid argument, even though it "should" be emotionally unconvincing.
1shokwave
You can catch a glimpse of this in Harry dealing with McGonagall if you remember that adults are significantly prejudiced against children, before his extraordinary intelligence overpowers and dissolves the situation. Assuming their goal is to remove the prejudice, my guess is they would work within the confines of the prejudice where possible, towards changing the environment into a place where the prejudice is untenable. Something like agitating for a law that requires subservient tasks to be performed by the prejudiced group, then pulling a Fight-Club-esque "we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep." In a smaller environment such as a woman in an unenlightened workplace, become the indispensable secretary to everyone and then punish the prejudice when it appears (changing the environment so that the prejudice is now directed at an authority figure). It would be an unfolding plan rather than an impassioned speech and I expect would involve a lot of simple judo-ing of peoples' surface treatments of the issue.
3MartinB
wonder how his parents managed that
3shokwave
Magic!
0TheOtherDave
Presumably, the same way porcupines have sex.
0MartinB
Porcupines have the same dimensions in the important parts. Giants and humans might not.
7arundelo
TheOtherDave was alluding to a joke that goes like this: Q: How do porcupines have sex? A: Very carefully.
2MartinB
My answer makes sense even if I knew the joke. Which I do. Was it ever addressed in canon? How tall are the Giants?
1Alicorn
Something like twenty feet tall, if I remember right.
0Normal_Anomaly
I thought it was more like fifty feet, but I checked my copy of OotP and you're right.
0MartinB
Ah, I had a totally wrong mental image. In many movies giants are like: bigger. [I happen to be about 2 meters (6 and a half feet for the non-metric users), so maybe I need more size to perceive someone as a giant.]
4Pavitra
He's human on his dad's side and giant on his mum's, rather than vice versa. I imagine that made things easier.
2Mercy
That's a great point about Hagrid, and yeah I don't think reading more will be particularly informative, but it's interesting given how class-orientated the original's conflicts are.
1hairyfigment
I don't understand what "little englanders" means in this context, since it seems to refer to an attitude rather than an economic class as such. IIRC, Mr. Dursley owned a moderate-sized business. Wikipedia says he "is also the director of a drill-making firm, Grunnings, and seems to be quite successful in his career."
2David_Gerard
The obvious place describes it reasonably well.
2hairyfigment
Er, yes, and it describes an attitude rather than an economic class.* Now as an attitude with a bad reputation, it's likely acquired connotations of class. But I think I've seen British fiction (Foyle's War) apply it to an Aristocrat or someone approaching that class, and the one example of use on Wikipedia applies it to a "Sir". *Must...resist...giving...examples!
0Mercy
Hmm, I was aiming for that broad swath of the middle classes that considers itself to be average, despite being at least slightly above. But a director is a bit above that, I thought he was a middle manager of some kind. It's hard to get much in the way of class signifiers off Harry in the book, which I suppose is the point.
0Jack
It is.

(ch 58)

I'd thought this question would have already been raised, given the nature of this site and the author, but I haven't found it, so here goes.

Harry has already stated his intention of becoming as a god, and I'm not inclined to bet against him. He has already achieved partial Transmutation and Dementor-eradication, both considered impossible by other wizards, by virtue of his greater understanding of the Underlying Nature of Reality, and it seems likely he's just getting warmed up, and the Rule of Cool is with him, and the author seems sympathetic to that sort of transcendence (unlike most authors, whom I would expect to be setting Harry up for an Icarus flameout and a lecture on hubris).

It would not take much, really. Let him start researching an "Increasium Intelligencium" spell, and all bets are off.

So it seems reasonable to ask the question: is Harry Friendly?

I mean, obviously he avoids the Vast majority of unFriendly design space, simply by virtue of being human. He isn't going to tile the galaxy with paperclips or anything like that. But as I understand the idea, most human minds aren't Friendly either (are any?). It doesn't ordinarily matter, because humans... (read more)

[-]gjm130

My feeling is that the more obvious UFAI-alike in MoR is Quirrelmort. Consider: Inhumanly fast (newspaper reading; duel with Bahry). Inhumanly intelligent (passim). Very powerful in part because of being inhumanly fast and intelligent. Interested -- supposing him to be Voldemort, on which topic I shall say no more -- in defeating death (just the sort of thing someone might ask a superintelligent AI to find ways to do).

Speaking of which: "Tell them I ate it", says Quirrell concerning the destroyed Dementor. Dementors in MoR are a symbol of death, even if many wizards don't quite grasp that. Dumbledore doesn't, but Harry surely does. Is Quirrell really not concerned that Harry may get the message: "I am a death-eater"?

4Sniffnoy
But does Quirrell know, or suspect, that Dementors are a form of death? If not he wouldn't even notice.
6gjm
Well, like Harry he is unable to cast Patronus v1.0, and he seems to understand just fine when Harry calls the Dementors "life-eaters" in ch58.

So it seems reasonable to ask the question: is Harry Friendly?

Perhaps the purpose of the entire narrative will be to gut-punch the readers with a lesson in Friendly AI, by showing Harry acting determinedly and rationally to ensure his own Friendliness, but failing anyway.

8NihilCredo
To me, the most likely candidate for the role of an allegory of AI in MoR currently seems to be the Source of [Atlantean] Magic, assuming that Harry's speculation wasn't completely off the mark. (My Wild Mass Guess on the matter would be that Harry will eventually discover that the Source was the Atlanteans' equivalent of a moderately unFriendly AI, which didn't destroy the world but did wipe away Atlantis. Eliezer will then be sorely tempted to go on an all-out Author Filibuster (TVTropes) on the subject, but will manage to restrain himself to a couple of paragraphs in the Author's Notes.)
6TheOtherDave
I'll be disappointed if Harry doesn't turn out to have been completely off the mark there. I mean, the process he went through was roughly "Hey, look at this thing I don't understand. It doesn't behave at all the way I would expect it to. Um... maybe X is an explanation!" with no particular justification for privileging X over the uncountable number of hypotheses he could have come up with instead. Worse, the hypothesis he came up with was pretty much unfalsifiable, and doesn't make any particular predictions. It doesn't "pay rent," to quote an early OB post. The moralist in me does not want Harry "rewarded" with a correct answer for reasoning that way. That having been said, I grant that if I knew the SO[A]M existed, I would conclude that Harry was somehow being influenced by its existence such that the theory of SO[A]M was more available, which doesn't require any additional assumptions given that it is necessarily responsive to wizards' thoughts to begin with. (That is, I don't want to repeat the reasoning error I made elsewhere regarding Quirrell being polyjuiced.) But right now I don't know that.
4thomblake
We don't know much about how stable human values are under recursive self-modification. It's entirely possible (albeit seemingly unlikely) that humans even tend towards tiling the galaxy with paperclips in particular.
6DanArmak
Compared to the Vast space of minds in general, they certainly do. Few minds in that Vast space have heard of the concept of a paperclip, after all.
1shokwave
Indeed, it seems likely. Many humans have the concept that 'locked' values are better than 'wishy-washy' ones; few have the concept of local maximums and even fewer the understanding of complex, changing human value systems. Thus a priori we should expect there is some bias or leaning in that direction, which would presumably have a chance of affecting one human in particular. This chance is greater than that of an AI's, who chooses at random. Harry is aware of these ideas, but he often catches himself in errors. When it comes to self-modification there are no opportunities to catch your errors; you are stuck with them and will never even realise there are any. I wonder if Quirrell realises Harry desires to be an actual god, and not just Supreme Emperor of the magical world.
1MartinB
Hopefully Harry is bright enough not to test invasive intelligence improvement on himself.
8shokwave
Ugh, he's exactly bright enough to do just that, complete with justification that he can't trust anyone else to both be safe (Quirell, Dumbledore, Draco all too dangerous) and effective (Hermione wouldn't exploit enough).
4AdShea
He could time-turn himself to allow for self-monitoring of the experiment.

I haven't exhaustively read all these comments and all the reviews, so these theories might have been presented before, but here are two things I'm thinking:

-1- (medium probability) Quirrell seemed genuinely surprised to learn Harry had a mysterious dark side after the learning to lose chapter. He may not have realized this until they met, but he probably generated the hypothesis that it was a fragment of Voldemort very quickly. I think his bringing a Dementor to Hogwarts was his attempt to verify this hypothesis.

It was mentioned in Stanford Prison Experiment both that Quirrell is unusually sensitive to Dementors (probably because Voldy is unusually afraid of death) and that Harry's dark side is unusually sensitive to Dementors. Since Quirrell knows he is unusually sensitive, he theorizes that if Harry's dark side is really Voldy, Harry should be unusually sensitive. So he brings in the Dementor, arranges for the wand to be placed next to it, waits to see how badly Harry is harmed, and then pulls the wand away before there's any permanent damage.

Because of how badly Harry was harmed, he concludes that he probably does have a fragment of Voldemort in him. He asks Harry where he wo... (read more)

0DanielLC
I'd expect that Quirrell would ask Harry his opinion on death some time before the test. Otherwise, it could just be that Harry is unusually afraid of death.
0tuukka12
I'd say Quirrel was trying to kill Harry with the dementor. He only warned about the wand after Hermione was about to go before the dementor and discover it anyway. Sense of doom comes from 2 voldemorts(or horcruxes) being dangerously in sync. (Voldy marked harry as his equal ie made him Voldemort)
0Vladimir_Nesov
Sense of doom/magic incompatibility explains Voldemort dying in the first place (in MoR).

(ch56)

Somewhat trivially... I hadn't realized that Patronuses (Patroni?) could be sent on remote missions, or that they were able to track down individuals whose location the casting mage didn't know (as Professor McGonagall seems to do here).

I'm trying to figure out why, given that, anyone would break into Azkaban to give prisoners temporarily relief from Dementors, rather than just send a Patronus (or hire someone who can send a Patronus) to do the same thing.

So far I can't think of a plausible reason. Admittedly, Patronuses can't bring chocolate, but that seems inadequate reason to take the additional risk of breaking in personally.

Am I being dense?

A related nitpick: I was wondering why McGonagall's Patronus found this Harry if there are multiple Harrys around at this time because of his use of the Time-Turner. It seems likely that either the earlier Harry is still around at this time, or the later Harry has come back and is around at this time, or both. Is it because this Harry is using his Patronus?

(A similar issue about communicating with people who have time traveled naq oebhtug gurve pryy cubarf came up in another work of fiction, but I won't say anything more about that to avoid spoilers.)

4marchdown
I want to propose two more possible solutions. First, as I initially assumed, wards that Quirrel cast at Mary's are rendering them undetectable to patronus communication. That way, if there were no second Harry in Azkaban and third Harry on the way back, McGonagall's patronus wouldn't be able to contact him at all. Second, for all we know about patronus' methods of travel, it might get autonomously dispatched directly to target's location, which is normally unique. There are no conservation laws that prohibit patronus splitting into two independent messengers, as there are no conservation laws preventing you from having two mirror reflections, or two acoustic echoes at the same time; and reflections and echoes can be interacted with in magical ways in Potterverse. That means that all two or three copies of Harry can get the same message, give non-conflicting answers, and McGonagall won't suspect anything.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky
Azkaban's future cannot interact with its past.
8Unnamed
McGonagall and the other two Harrys aren't in Azkaban, so don't see why that fact would make her Patronus go to the Harry that is in Azkaban.
2wedrifid
WTF. There are multiple Harry's now? Wow, I must catch up on the recent chapters!

Yeah, he suffers from spontaneous duplication, which is being treated by his spinster wicket.

3[anonymous]
This must mean that when Harry's Patronus knows that another Patronus is looking for it, it isn't because Harry, say, went back in time and sent himself a Patronus message. (Which would have been problematic on its own: where would the information have come from in the first place? It'd be a stable loop with no reason to exist, and I'd like to think such things don't happen.) So either someone who has non-time-travel knowledge of Dumbledore's actions sent this message to Harry (and who could have done this?)... or his Patronus knows this on its own, and it isn't a message after all. The first option is unlikely, but I am confused by both options. A Patronus isn't actually that intelligent is it? And even if Harry's Patronus is, how would it know that another Patronus is looking for it?
4Randaly
Patroni are sentient!
3DanielLC
The same place where "Don't mess with time travel" came from.
2[anonymous]
I have a theory about that, actually. If the experiment had gone just as Harry expected, would he have been able to avoid the temptation to write something different on the paper, just to see what happens? Quite possibly the only stable time loop was one which involved a sufficiently creepy experimental result.
4shokwave
My pet theory was that Harry wrote "Don't mess with time" to himself because in a previous iteration, he had succeeded in using Time Turners to quickly factorise, and then parlayed this capability into a money-making scheme; shortly followed by a world takeover-cum-ascension to godhood, realised it was overall a bad thing, had one of his "this is that moment twenty years from then where I look back and point to exactly where it went wrong" moments, and used his power to return to that time, complete with the knowledge that he shouldn't mess with time. Which leads to him writing "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" down, which leads to him seeing that, realising none of this, but writing down "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" with the same level of fear and thus the same hand-shakiness, and thus we get a stable loop. I would like to point out that this theory is both more consistent with the evidence available to us from the story, and more consistent with what we know about Eliezer: that a world that simply cheats is aesthetically unpleasing; and that it would amuse him to hide this from us.
3bogdanb
I get this as meaning you can’t use the Time-turner inside Azkaban. I’m not sure if this is relevant to the story, but could one “duplicate” himself (or more) outside Azkaban, and then get all copies inside it? E.g., go to Azkaban, get out, go back to before entering Azkaban, and enter again? Are you forbidden to go back in time over a period you were in it, or is your copy prevented from approaching, or what?
[-]DaveX150

A copy with knowledge of a Azkaban at a certain time seems forbidden from approaching/entering Azkaban at a prior time. See "Azkaban's future couldn't interact with its past, so she hadn't been able to arrive before the DMLE had gotten the message," in Ch55. The restraint isn't so much when the DMLE gets the message, it's when Azkaban sends the message. It can't send a message that affects its past.

Azkaban might be a good place to try a can of Comed-tea.

1bogdanb
You’re right, I had forgotten that passage. I’m still curious how it actually works. The portal she used could simply refuse to work, but how would you be prevented from simply walking in? An invisible wall you can’t walk through, or just a sequence of increasingly improbable events happen that keep stopping you? (If Harry’s explanation of how Comed-tea is right, it probably means just that you won’t get the urge to drink it. That “or your money-back” line suggests that you can drink it without a result, presumably if you figured it out. Though the charm might also inhibit your wanting to drink it when nothing will happen; otherwise, there would be a lot of unsatisfied customers who drank it just because it was hot and they were thirsty. If it does, you might not get the idea to test it.)
4Oscar_Cunningham
The reason Harry lied to McGonagall, was because he didn't want her to know his location, and suspected that the only thing she was going to warn him about was that Quirell might be involved in a break in at Azkabam, which he already knows about. If her Patronus had reached earlier Harry, he would have listened to her and told the truth, and she would have arrived, and he certainly wouldn't have time travelled. But then there would have been no attempt to enter Azkabam, and so she wouldn't have know that something was wrong. Since time-turners don't cause these sorts of paradoxes, her Patronus had to find later Harry.
1wnoise
That explains not finding pre-Azkaban Harry. If Harry makes it out of there, there should be a post-Azkaban Harry as well. They want to time it so that they return to Mary's place at about the time they leave. Travel time means there should be three.
3JGWeissman
If the patronus found post-Azkaban Harry, then Harry would not have known to travel back in time to by found by it; another paradox that time-turners don't cause.
5TheOtherDave
Er... really? For the sake of argument, let's assume that in later chapters we will discover that Harry's future goes according to the plan he lays out... that is, at T1 Minerva sends her Patronus, and at T2 Harry gets out of Azkaban and travels to T1. So at T1 Harry is in Azkaban and in Mary's Room. If the Patronus finds Harry in Azkaban (as we've read), Harry travels to T1 in order to be found by Minerva, as you say. But if the Patronus finds Harry in Mary's Room (as you're arguing couldn't happen), then Harry travels to T1 for some other reason, or no reason at all. "But then there's no actual motivation for Harry's action!", I hear someone object. "No fair!" Well, I agree. Similarly, by this theory, there's no actual motivation for the Patronus' choice. "Because it would cause a paradox" is a little bit like "Because it would violate conservation of energy"... it's a reason to predict one consequence over another, but it isn't actually an explanation.
4JGWeissman
Of course, I will admit that I am confused about what local laws could add up to the "no paradox" global law.
0Paul Crowley
Something like a multiply-branching Universe in which those branches that turn out to contain paradoxes cease to exist?
1David_Allen
Not "cease to exist", simply won't exist. Think of the interference patterns of the double slit experiment. The wave-functions of universes with paradoxes cancel out to give zero probability to those collective sets of conditions.
2wnoise
I thought the plan was to have no gaps at Mary's place -- he'd travel back for that in any case to get back there/then.
3JGWeissman
I am not sure, I remember having the impression that Harry was making specific time travel plans in response to meeting the patronus. They had already travelled backwards in time, I am not sure how much time has passed. I will re-read the chapter later tonight. Though if it was non paradox causing either way, then the patronus was acting in accordance with another global law of the HP:MOR universe: it was more awesome for the patronus to meet Harry in Azkaban and make the situation more complicated.
1Oscar_Cunningham
I think they were planning on going back anyway, so that it seemed like they had never left Mary's room.
0JoshuaZ
How are you counting to three?
5Perplexed
Uneel vf tbvat gb gnxr n frpbaq gevc onpx va gvzr, fb gung ur pna jnyx bhg bs Nmxnona orsber gur nynez vf fbhaqrq, naq trg onpx gb Znel'f cynpr va gvzr gb zrrg ZpTbantnyy.
3TheOtherDave
I was initially wondering about this too. Actually, I was thinking about it the other way around: that maybe Harry had to make sure not only that he arrived earlier than the time he recorded so he'd be there for Minerva to find, but also that he arrived after the time of the communication to avoid there being two Harrys for the Patronus to find. But putting it that way made me realize that no, clearly that isn't a problem: the Patronus (did/does) find the Harry in Azkaban, regardless of what else might be true. As you point out, we don't know how it did so... maybe it flipped a glowing animal-headed coin... but we know it did so, by observation, and Harry does too.
0Document
Oyvax ba Qbpgbe Jub?
2Sniffnoy
Huh, I thought he was referring to Cevzre.
0MartinB
I saw that a few times, but dont remember cellphones. Great one still.
1Unnamed
I'm not familiar with that one. I was thinking of gur zbivr Cevzre.
0Document
Ah. I haven't seen either.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky
I hadn't thought of that, but (in canon) only members of the Order of the Phoenix can use their Patronuses that way.
7Alexei
I bet the Patronus' power isn't very strong when it's far away for its owner. It's just strong enough to get the message across, but not enough to repel dementors.

I hereby declare this to be fact. Not least because otherwise Harry would be tempted to send his Patronus into the Dementors' pit at any time, which problem I had thought about and planned to have him just not think of.

8Pavitra
Does this count as a violation of the "don't say 'Eliezer said X'" rule? :P
0hairyfigment
This could make sense, but does it say anything about the possibility of long-range Horcrux action?
1AdShea
It seems that messenger Patroni don't have quite the anti-dementor effects that a local Patronus does. This would make sense both for the reason people go into Azkaban and for the reason that Harry didn't feel any different from the sending being around.
1Randaly
Normal patroni can be identified, tracked, and presumably dispelled, so there's not much of a reduction in risk.
3AlexMennen
It would still be a lot easier. Besides, if this is true, then Harry's cover story to McGonagall about being in Mary's room is blown. Especially with the heightened security, the Aurors would have noticed her patronus. Unless communication between McGonagall and Dumbledore + Aurors is especially poor, this would tell them that Harry is in there. Edit: Sorry, fixed.
3Vladimir_Nesov
Spelling. Edit: Downvoters: What? There are 4 misspellings in that paragraph (plus nonstandard capitalization). It hurts.
0[anonymous]
I want to propose two more possible solutions. First, as I initially assumed, wards that Quirrel cast at Mary's are rendering them undetectable to patronus communication. That way, if there were no second Harry in Azkaban and third Harry on the way back, McGonagall's patronus wouldn't be able to contact him at all. Second, for all we know about patronus' methods of travel, it might get autonomously dispatched directly to target's location, which is normally unique. There are no conservation laws that prohibit patronus splitting into two independent messengers, as there are no conservation laws preventing you from having two mirror reflections, or two acoustic echoes at the same time; and reflections and echoes can be interacted with in magical ways in Potterverse. That means that all two or three copies of Harry can get the same message, give non-conflicting answers, and McGonagall won't suspect anything.
0thomblake
IIRC, The method for sending messages using a Patronus was developed in canon by either DA or OoTP, and is not common knowledge. In MoR, Harry develops it himself but it presumably has been used in the war games by now. ETA: Chapter 28, it's mentioned that Minerva's cat patronus contacted Harry, so that's probably where he got the idea.
1MBlume
not the DA, but I think OotP

Tonight, after the Deathly Hallows premier, there are going to be readers who don't normally advertise HP:MoR flooding social networking sites with posts about the movie. Posting more chapters by the time they get to their computers to do so could get them to include their joy over the superior story in this flood, simply by relevant association, advertising MoR and spreading the love. Using the release of the canon movie in this way is the right thing to do, if there are chapters ready to be posted, and the fact that I desire moar MoR is a mere coincidence.

Chapter 61: 'There was another pause, and then Madam Bones's voice said, "I have information which I learned four hours into the future, Albus. Do you still want it?"'

This seems like a useless question. A bit of information was already conveyed representing the fact that Amelia Bones was 4 hours into the future & found some information that would be useful to Dumbledore. Is this not sufficient information transfer in and of itself to prevent Dumbledore traveling backwards?

Sorry if I'm confused, but reasoning about time is hard, and my diagrams are not as helpful as Snape's and Dumbledore's.

"Is this not sufficient information transfer in and of itself to prevent Dumbledore traveling backwards?"

Obviously it is not. I'm sure that Harry would find it ludicrous that such a rule exists permitting the transfer of this one bit of information but not the rest of it... but neither Amelia nor Dumbledore think in terms of "bits".

Btw this "6-hours" window? Though I don't expect it, it'd be hilarious if in-story this had anything to do with the infamous "TimeCube" ramblings. Something like "Gene Ray was once an Unspeakable that went insane trying to figure out the mysteries underpinning the 6-hours rule.".

It seems to be anything that would change the actions of the ones who hear it can't be passed back. I'm thinking it's a simulation that's processing 6 hours at once, with the earliest arbitrarily small unit of time being finalized at the same rate new time starts processing. So Harry just needs to upgrade the universe's hardware and he'll be good to go further back, but he should be able to get around the maximum daily uses per Time-Turner before then.

In other words:

All Cube Truth denied. 4-corner days, 24 hours divided by 4 corners is 6 hours per corner. The math is simple but no wizards will debate me. Time-Turner can only turn one corner at a time. 4 days are in one rotation. If Time-Turner turned more than 6 hours it would be in a previous day! Turners are connected in ONEness with Time and to disconnect equates death of opposites.

9WrongBot
This is the best timecube reference I've ever seen. I think its very clear that the wizarding establishment is afraid of confronting your revolutionary claims.
4TobyBartels
That's not obvious; what's obvious is that Amelia thought that it was not. (I guess that Dumbledore also thought that it was not, since he had to think about whether he wanted the information anyway.) Amelia might actually be wrong here; she's good, but time travel is confusing.
2Normal_Anomaly
I think the info was sent to Bones rather than her finding it and going back, but your point may still stand. Perhaps "somebody sent something back to Amelia Bones" is vague enough to slip past the filter. There must be some nonzero cutoff, because otherwise the info would affect the whole future (from the point of receiving the info) light come of anyone who got time-traveled info, and the whole earth would be interdicted whenever somebody went back. If I'm wrong about that, it's possible that either Bones or Dumbledore wasn't thinking, or Dumbledore realized that he was already blocked and that's part of why he decided he wanted the info.
0Waffle_Iron
Amelia Bones learns something at time x is an event happening at time x and information of that event could be taken back to time x - 6. If the information that she gets is from time x + 4 then that information could only go back to time x-2.
2TobyBartels
But she got information from time x + 4: the fact that there was interesting information to get at that time. Think of all of the logic puzzles where you have (just) enough information to deduce that somebody else had enough information to deduce that somebody else … etc.
0Desrtopa
I imagine there are many ways in which it can be inconvenient to have information about things that have, from your own perspective, not happened yet. Your own actions could become constrained on pain of paradox when previously they had not been.
0Normal_Anomaly
But you aren't allowed to cause a paradox while ignorant any more than while informed. From a determinist viewpoint, your actions are already constrained.
0Desrtopa
That's true. When I first considered the situation, it seemed obvious to me that accessing the information could have a controlling effect on your own behavior, but on further reflection it shouldn't actually matter. However, it would still be able destroy one's illusions of freedom of choice, which would probably be discomforting, if not actually tactically disadvantageous.

(ch58)

erm... Harry was worried that they'd figure out that he'd used partial transfiguration to make a hole in the wall, but he's not worried that they might figure out that he's just about the only wizard on the planet who would ever think of transfiguring a rocket-powered broomstick? Surely that idea has Harry James Potter Evans-Verres stamped all over it?

4NihilCredo
Debatable. Sirius Black, and then Hagrid, rode a flying, roaring motorbike. This was wizarding propulsion on a Muggle vehicle, rather than the reverse, but it makes a rocket broomstick quite a bit more believable.
4DanArmak
It's an obvious idea for any Muggleborn wizard, at the very least. The only reason it hasn't been used to escape Azkaban before is that everyone was using Quirrel's original "perfect" plan. :-)

(ch56)

Has the nature of Harry's mysterious dark side been established yet? If not, the latest chapter gives a strong hint toward it being a shard of Voldemort.

In chapter 56, Harry discovers that his vulnerability to Dementors is due to his dark side's fear of death. And, back in chapter 39, in the discussion between Harry and Dumbledore it was suggested that Voldemort was motivated by fear of death. Not quite proof, but interesting nonetheless.

2hairyfigment
"Isn't that like having a coitus fetish?" And of course Harry heard his parents die at the hands of someone who wanted to kill him, after which he arguably suppressed the memory. Sure, canon!Harry doesn't fear death as much, but the Sorting Hat told MoR!Harry that going to Gryffindor or Hufflepuff would change him. The best evidence here for your theory lies in the fact that he managed to give himself that kind of acceptance and friendship.
2Danylo
I wonder if Harry's dark side (assuming it's part of Voldermort) knows it's part of Voldermort. If it doesn't, what will happen to it when it/Harry finds out? Obviously Harry considers Voldermort an enemy. Will he try to destroy it?
2DanielLC
I'm pretty sure it doesn't know anything normal Harry doesn't. Harry finding out it's part of Voldemort won't make a difference. It's useful, but dangerous. Harry already knows this.
[-][anonymous]110

An easy way of linking to all the past discussion threads is to link to the harry_potter tag, which doesn't require updating all past discussion threads every time a new thread is created. Except that this latest thread is tagged with "harrypotter" instead, which ought to be changed.

4NihilCredo
Thanks. Fixed.

I'm not happy with the rule about time travel not allowing travel more than six hours back of information. If that's the case then time travel should be much less common since anything sharing the same light-cone segment will transmit information back based on minute changes to gravity. This only makes sense if it means information that humans would regard as information because magic works like that. If that's the case, I'm really waiting for Harry to find the explicit rules for that and then find a loophole to engage in major havoc.

8gwillen
I think I can actually deflect this one by appeal to Actual Reality. (Some familiarity with quantum mechanics required.) Note that photons, by virtue of their momentum, have gravitational pull; yet in the quantum double-slit experiment, the gravitational pull of the photons is not enough to "collapse the waveform" as to which path they have taken. This seems to me to be exactly the same sort of "prohibited information" as in the fic. The best explanation I'm aware of for this is that the uncertainty in the quantities involved is high enough that, even though the photons' gravitational pull could in theory transmit information, in practice the resolution of the universe is simply not high enough for that to happen. The same thing could be at work here. I feel like I just used a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
7Raemon
I think a pretty straightforward answer is that for it to be information, an intelligent being has to perceive it as such. I don't think there's a loophole - if you would successfully send information farther back in time using any means, Time Gets Mad, and things somehow work out so that you don't. And even if you get around that, unspeakably bad things probably happen. However, I suspect that the six hours is an artificial safeguard built into the spell. You could PROBABLY create a new time travel spell that can go seven or eight hours without breaking things. I doubt the 6 hour limit is actually the snapping point. It's just the limit to what you can do before you start to deal damage to reality. Going farther once might work, but if everyone did it then Very Bad Things happen. If the payoff matrix for "everyone defects" is that the universe stops existing, you should probably cooperate. Edit: NVM, reread the end of the chapter, and it seems like if there's any way to go more than six hours, period, it's such a well kept secret that no one thinks its possible. Then again, this would not be the first time Eliezer has employed the "powerful weapon being an amazingly well kept secret" thing, and it was somewhat foreshadowed when Harry mused that maybe scientists had come up with things worse than nuclear weapons.
[-]pjeby170

However, I suspect that the six hours is an artificial safeguard built into the spell.

Either that, or that's the size of the simulation's event buffer. ;-)

(That is, it might be a hard limit on the size of time loop the simulation is able to process, if they're actually in a simulation.)

2sfb
Assume they are in a simulation - why would it have an event buffer created able to compute time travel at all, and why pick 6 human hours (equivalent) as the magic number constant for it? Presumably simulating a human brain is harder than simulating the same mass/volume/atom count of solid metal, so as the population increases has the time-turner interval shrunk correspondingly? Seems unlikely it would settle on such a round number if it was changing with population. (Or is that why magic is getting weaker - as the simulation computer fills up?)
2shokwave
It occurs that magic is basically the ability to hack the simulation; the wizards who developed time travel didn't know what was actually safe, what was unsafe, what would crash the simulation, and what the simulation could actually even do - so they picked the weakest version of time travel to implement (both branches consistent) and slapped a bunch of arbitrary limits on it so it (hopefully) couldn't break anything major.
0sfb
Also, Merlin in T.H. White's The Once and Future King lives his life backwards in time, from old age to youth - is that canon!Merlin, and does that property carry over to the Merlin to whom the characters refer in HP:MOR?
0shokwave
Merlin is not in the canon except as a curse-word of sorts (By Merlin's beard!).
4Desrtopa
And as the figure referenced by the Order of Merlin, which is awarded to people who perform exceptional deeds, and as the first person to get his face on a chocolate frog card
1wedrifid
Why not? I think it'd be kind of cool to simulate a universe with magic and I'd feel altogether clever if I could implement time travel in it. :)
4sfb
OK, simulating time travel for the hell of it sounds good, I still question the buffer limit idea: "Simulated time travel now working, but what should we set the Horological Constant value to?" "Dunno. Three years? A thousand years? Just enough time to undo saying something rude? MAX_INT seconds? AVAILABLE_MEM? User configurable?" "Oh whatever, it's time to go home, I'll just put six simulated hours and be done with it. Shall I start locking up?" That would be a disappointing reason for the 6 hour limit, and an unconvincing way to make the universe work so that the plot works. I hope the 6 hour limit is either not real, or something more interesting.
3wedrifid
My first hypothesis would be simple processing complexity. Time travel is complicated. It is the kind of problem that grows ridiculously with time and space. The programmer has been able to invent an algorithm that simplifies it for low dimensionality but even with that algorithm higher order time travel would still take too much time on the given hardware. Second: the programmer initially programmed the buffer in to allow for short term time processing. Things like the soda that prompts you to drink, spell dodging time hop magic, etc. It didn't even occur to him that the wizards would find a way to exploit the mechanism for long term use.
6TheOtherDave
Another possible reason to have a time-buffer in a world simulator (which, btw, I don't believe the HP:MORverse is) is that the simulation doesn't actually do everything in real time. Rather, you may have situations where process A and process B are defined as taking the same number of simulated time-slices, but process B takes more actual time to simulate for whatever reason, and so the simulation of process A is halted until process B catches up. (This presumes that it's not possible to reallocate simulated processes across simulating resource threads with arbitrarily fine granularity.) Which means that at any given real-world moment, some parts of the simulation are at timeslice T, some parts are at timeslice T+1, and so forth. The six-hour limit might simply reflect the typical spread, and simulated time-travel might be a hacking of the system that is bound by that spread, rather than an explicitly simulated capability with an explicitly simulated upper bound. Something like this is true of the only reality-simulating system we know of, namely our own brains. For example, color phi is a kind of simulated time travel where, in response to a perceived event E1 at time T, your brain constructs an illusory event E2, which you experience as occurring before T. This works because different parts of your brain construct your experience of time T at different rates, and tag those parts as occurring at T; the experience of simultaneity is constructed by your brain.
1gwern
If the six-hours is to avoid too much time-skew, it's a hack and one would expect better from simulation-builders. There are plenty of ways to efficiently calculate differing time-space regions, using lazy evaluation or equivalents thereof. For example, the famous Hashlife algorithm for Conway's Game of Life does exactly that - different regions can be billions or trillions of generations apart thanks to memoization. Lazy evaluation proper allows weird techniques like the reverse state monad or circular programming (aka time-traveling).
2wedrifid
It may be that the limit is not due to the physics itself but because of the intervention of an early wizard. Unbounded time travel is one of the most powerful abilities imaginable. The first witch to exploit this and take ultimate power would obviously want to prevent others from overthrowing her. It would be in her best interest to find a way to put constraints on the powers of others. Longer than six hour anomalies may well trigger destructive countermeasures.
0JoshuaZ
If the simulation is filling up that might make time travel less powerful but I don't see why the processing/resource constraints should make other forms of magic also need to be restricted.
0sfb
(fixed simulation resources / increasing population) = less magic per person (fixed simulation resources for magic / increasing population using magic simultaneously) = less spare magic at any given moment Were the sort of ideas I was thinking. But, if it's a simulation it needn't compute in realtime, so it is a weak suggestion.
2DaveX
A 6 hour simulation buffer would explain a T-6hour limit, but not that you couldn't go back into the same simulation buffer more than once, or that you couldn't operate on the 4 disjoint 6-hour segments of the 24 hour limit. With an un-shelled Time Turner, could Harry go backwards from 23:59 to 17:59, then cover most of the same 6 hour interval again by jumping back from 00:01 the next day to 18:01? Depending on how the 6 hours in 24 constraint is imposed, (Scotland's midnight-midnight, noon-noon, whenever the operator's variable 24-30hour days roll over, 9:00pm-9:00pm, a leaky-bucket token at 15sec/min, or whatever), what happens at 9 hours past lunch could be odd.
3shokwave
If it is a simulation, and time travel devices are limited in ways to save on computation and such, some of these restraints make sense: the quibble over what counts as information is resolved as "anything that will force the simulation to recalculate futures", the simulation buffer is locked to one per time-turner because allowing an arbitrary number of retries would cause the computation requirements to explode, and Harry can get around the limit by using someone else's "turn", even if they can't use it, because they have information that the simulation won't allow to travel. My money is on Dumbledore's timeturner. McGonagall, Snape, and Amelia Bones won't suspect it, all having witnessed Dumbledore receive future information (therefore he can't travel back in time far enough). Harry will capitulate to Dumbledore's offer of the Timeturner once he determines that a) Dumbledore knows Harry was involved in the Azkaban break, and b) being able to travel the full 6 hours will convince the rest of the wizarding world, including his teachers, that Harry was not involved. Dumbledore will do this because it suits his interests (or sense of drama) to have war declared on Voldemort.
4Desrtopa
I don't think Dumbledore would knowingly declare war on Voldemort prematurely. If he doesn't believe Voldemort is back, he won't try to convince others that he is.
3shokwave
Dumbledore very nearly took over the wizarding world of Britain last time there was a war, according to the Malfoys. This is a good reason for him to have war declared yet again, even (especially!) in the absence of Voldemort.
4Desrtopa
Then why wait until he actually has reason to think that Voldemort may be on the brink of returning? Why not simply fabricate evidence? I'm fairly confident that the Malfoys are wrong in their assessment of him. Not only would it be an arbitrary departure from the original canon, having nothing to do with making certain characters more rational, there are also plenty of ways he could have pursued his supposed ends more effectively if those were his real goals.
2shokwave
I don't think it would depart from canon, and it would be very much in line with fanon: the fanfiction involving Dumbledore shows him as someone who thinks he knows better - and has no qualms about misleading or mistreating anyone to get them to do as he wishes. Canon never states this outright, but it does give you all the evidence you need to make a decision: Dumbledore, with full knowledge of the situation, condemned Harry to spend nine years of child abuse under the Dursleys.
0JoshuaZ
People like to think of themselves as good. Many ambitious people might use unfortunate circumstances as a reason to get power even as they wouldn't go out of their way to cause those circumstances to come about.
8Alicorn
If the six hour limit is or resembles a natural limit of any kind, which it may, it seems most likely to correspond to one quarter of a day, where "day" might be sidereal, stellar, or solar (probably not civil). Hours are just... very artificial, and while magic seems perfectly happy to abide by artificial rules, this limit is likely to predate accurate timekeeping (and accurate timekeeping precedes the careful pinning down of how long an hour is!) The "quarter-day" interpretation would have the following implications: * Depending on which sort of day limits time travel, certain astronomical phenomena would mess with time travel. * Six hours is unlikely to be an exact figure, and the figure in question may vary depending on seasonal and geographical context. * Time travel in outer space will behave very strangely.
0HonoreDB
Maybe the natural limit is some naturally derived constant that happens to be slightly more than six hours, and the time-turner was designed by humans to operate in units of exactly an hour. Which you could test by seeing if it was possible to send information back in time 6 hours and 1 second using two chained time-turners.
0wedrifid
This makes for an interesting question: How do you test stuff like this? It seems dangerous. What exactly breaks when you go back too far? Just the local area? Can I launch a time turner into space with a suitable automatic device and watch from a safe distance? Is having an observer involved relevant (more likely with magic than quantum mechanics)? Would testing with wizard or house elf participants be unethical? Is the anthropic principle relevant?
4sfb
Yet Dumbledore says that someone erased Atlantis from time, and I'm guessing Atlantis existed for more than six hours. (Also, it was erased from time in such a way that people still know about it). We know that earlier wizards were stronger, yet the book says "time turners can't go back more than six hours" multiple times, so it seems an important fact and widely believed by the characters. We know that strong Dumbledore can't do it, nor can efficient Quirrellmort (or he wouldn't suggest to Harry the plot with Bulstrode), and that time travel can be blocked long-term by the Wizards who created Azkaban. I think it will be a matter of partial-transfiguration style understanding for Harry to find some kind of loophole.
3Raemon
I think Atlantis serves as a cautionary tale for what happens when you TRY to go back more than six hours.
6wedrifid
That's what you get when you program your universe without checking your array indexes consistently!
3sketerpot
Perhaps the six hour limit was placed on time travel a long time ago, by wizards much more powerful than today's, who knew (perhaps first-hand) how nightmarishly screwy time travel could get. This sort of thing has precedent: the Interdict of Merlin prevents the most powerful magical knowledge from being passed on in writing. The reasoning is similar, too: some magic is just that dangerous.
5Raemon
I would not be surprised if the destruction of Atlantis involved Time Travel. Especially if we consider that this fic might be influenced by "Harry Potter and the Wastelands of Time."
2TobyBartels
This is what I figured. The same thing applies to prohibiting time travel in Azkaban, or allowing one person to tell another person (while giving them access to who knows what subtle face expressions) to talk to a person that the first one can't communicate with.
7HonoreDB
Which suggests that to time-travel further than 6 hours back, you'd just need to completely Obliviate yourself, wiping your mind so clean that a Remembrall in your hands would blaze like a miniature sun. Best to also take the form of an infant, since you'll be a mental one anyway.
5sfb
I suddenly really hope Harry doesn't "Where did all you zombies come from" travel back to himself as an infant to destroy You-Know-Who for the second-first-only time as the end of the book, leading to his obliviated-adult-in-the-form-of-a-child brain as the cause of his "childhood" genius.
3jmmcd
I'm in an unusual position I find hard to express! 1. I never considered that possibility until your comment. 2. The possibility is awesome and if the story had really ended that way I would've been totally satisfied, I think. 3. Now that you've pointed it out and I've thought about it, I'm greedy and want a different awesome ending, so 4. Now I agree with you and hope it doesn't end that way.
0TobyBartels
As long as the Remembrall blazes in the same way (as far as any person would notice), regardless of what you've actually forgotten.

I just had an awesome misreading of Ch. 60. Quirrell says to Harry, "People don't care in the slightest, and if you had not led a vastly sheltered childhood you would have noticed that long ago. Console yourself with this!" and hands him a game console. Wham, Dumbledore's hero neutralized.

Chapter 59

I'm a bit miffed about Dumbledore apparently knowing about the requirements for Voldemort to cast the spell to restore his body. That wasn't part of the prophesy, that was, in the original canon, magic of Voldemort's own creation. Even if Dumbledore knows Voldemort to be capable of such a thing, he shouldn't know how. One difficulty of compressing plot elements from a series that takes place over seven years into a one year space is that you have to be extra careful that people don't suddenly start knowing things they shouldn't know.

EDIT: Elieze... (read more)

5David_Allen
Perhaps that means that Dumbledore's blood is required instead.
6Desrtopa
I would think not, if we were going on the original canon's rules, but in the original the potion didn't require flesh of one's most faithful servant, otherwise Wormtail would never have done. Eliezer may have altered the requirements to make achieving the same goal more difficult for Quirrelmort, because if he wanted to he could easily have already gathered all the ingredients the original Voldemort did, and probably without anyone noticing to boot. Requiring the blood of one's worst enemy would neatly preserve the thematic symmetry in this version of the potion, so in that case it would make sense if Dumbledore is the only candidate.
-1Eliezer Yudkowsky
First, ask yourself how you would set things up if you were Lord Voldemort. Then, reread Ch. 53.

I'm afraid I haven't a clue how I would set things up if I were Voldemort, because I'm still not clear on what it is he's actually trying to accomplish. Assuming I were simply trying to defeat Dumbledore, I can think of what I might have done that would explain some of Quirrel's actions, but not others.

Actually, on second thought, if my opponent were Dumbledore, I think I do know what I'd do, because it's a Dark Lord strategy I've contemplated before which seems practically tailor made to the situation.

V jbhyq neenatr sbe gur perngvba bs n erq ureevat cebcurfl juvpu bhgyvarq fhccbfrq cererdhvfvgrf sbe zl qrsrng, fb gung zl rarzvrf jbhyq ubyq bss ba nggrzcgvat gb qrsrng zr va rkcrpgngvba bs n frg bs bppheeraprf gung jbhyq cebonoyl arire unccra. Qhzoyrqber, jub oryvrirf va gur cbjre bs fgbevrf, jbhyq yvxryl nggrzcg gb shysvyy gur cebcurfl yrggre naq fcvevg, ybpxvat uvz vagb na haivnoyr fgengrtl V jbhyq or pbzcyrgryl cercnerq sbe.

V'z abg ng nyy pbasvqrag gung guvf vf jung Ibyqrzbeg vf npghnyyl qbvat gubhtu, gurer'f fgvyy n terng qrny vg jbhyq yrnir harkcynvarq.

7major
What, nobody? Oh, well. Voldemort stands next to the crib of his destined enemy, the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord, the completely defenseless one year old child. The Dark Lord's most faithful servant, Bellatrix, is waiting for him at the graveyard, near his father's grave. One Side-Along-Apparition, and not even death will slow Voldemort down for long. Too bad he died the moment he touched the baby.
2marchdown
Why would Voldemort touch the baby at all, if he was aware of the danger? And if he wasn't, why did he leave his wand to Bellatrix, why did he come alone and prepared for the ritual? There's also Harry's flashback in which he learns the precise shade of avada kedavra.
7major
Why would Bellatrix hide the wand next to Pappa Riddle's grave? Kinda arbitrary, isn't it? Unless that was the designated meeting place where she was supposed to wait. As Yvain pointed out, it's possible she aquired the wand from Voldemort's corpse, and went looking for the shade afterwards. There are other possible meeting places beside the graveyard, the only reason I can see for going there is for the bones. It means a plan for the revival ritual was in the making, still missing an enemy. My guess is, it was a safety net thing, bring the baby there, do the deed, and if something goes wrong, instant resurrection. Who would think a simple touch of the destined enemy could kill as well. Something did kill Voldemort, and with the safety net almost ready, it must have been something unexpected. Had everything went as planned, Voldemort wouldn't have disappeared for ten years. This is my guess, anyways. Still a few things unexplained. What made the scar? Voldemort's touch? Horcroux? Also, technically, Lily died in a duel, same as James. There might not be any protection at all. Also the AK color thing? mor!Harry saw only the one that killed Lily.
0Desrtopa
Voldemort might have vanished for ten years intentionally. It's certainly within his power to reveal himself to his old followers now, and probably take charge of them again, but he hasn't done so. Whatever his intentions are, it seems they're probably not served by people being aware that he's still around. Who knows how long he's been possessing Quirrel?
4Carinthium
That wouldn't make any sense- by doing so he loses a lot of followers (Bellatrix at least was imprisoned), allows the enemy to regroup, and would make them more hopeful of winning the next time. (Who's going to believe him, after all?)
3Desrtopa
Probably any of the Death Eaters. If you were Voldemort, would you leave yourself without a way to identify yourself to your followers whatever shape you happened to be in at the time? As for the followers who were imprisoned, remember that if canon is anything to go by, when he's prepared to reveal himself, Voldemort could break everyone out of Azkaban. His enemies aren't just recuperated, they're complacent. Do you think Voldemort could have gotten this close to Dumbledore while the war was on? Far from making them more hopeful of winning, if he pulled off a coup against Dumbledore and did whatever it is he's trying to do with Harry, he could very well win before his enemies even had time to assess their prospects.
0shokwave
Well, because the prophecy didn't say "The touch of the Chosen One will instantly annihilate bad guys".
0TobyBartels
The world would be a better place if (true) prophecies did say that.
2Desrtopa
A couple of scenarios I considered would suggest that Voldemort's death was not an accident, but suicide. I can think of reasons he might have done it, but I don't put a lot of stock in them, first because it doesn't seem like the most practical course of action, it's not what I would have done in the same circumstances, and second because even with every expectation that he would actually survive, considering how much he fears dying, I don't know if Voldemort would commit an act of suicide if he could possibly avoid it.
3ArisKatsaris
Chapter 53 strongly indicates that Voldemort had left his wand with Bellatrix at the graveyard; where she hid it before she left. This strongly implies that he knew there was atleast a high chance of being incapacitated in some way; and he didn't want his wand taken by aurors.
9Scott Alexander
But then what wand did Voldemort use to duel James and Lily and to cast Avada Kedavra? It's not really clear whether Bella knows how Voldemort died. She recognizes Harry from his scar, and it's improbable that she could have been captured so soon after Voldemort's death that she didn't have time to read the newspapers. But she also says: "My... Lord... I went where you said to await you, but you did not come... I looked for you but I could not find you..." Which would be an odd thing to say if she knew his body had been found on the floor of Potter's house. Maybe she knew about the horcruxes and other dark magic, and figured Voldemort losing his body would be only an inconvenience? So either Voldy gave Bella his wand and used a different wand to duel the Potters (which meant he knew something was up and probably planned to die), or she just took the wand from the corpse or stole it from the authorities or something.
5jaimeastorga2000
As his most faithful servant, Bella likely dismissed the possibility of Voldemort's (permanent) death out of hand, burned corpse or not. Several people do so in canon, with her group's torture of the Longbottoms occurring specifically because the former thought the latter had information regarding Voldemort's location.
1DaveX
Any reasoning from Bella's apparent knowledge should take into account the Dementor-induced censoring of good memories, (e.g., sun, clouds). Perhaps she can still remember parts of the plans that went wrong without remembering the successful parts.
0marchdown
Pettigrew's?
2Danylo
Oh my! That's an interesting point. What if his suicide was a way of short-circuiting the Prophecy? I'm assuming that's what your scenario is, and it's brilliant.
2Desrtopa
That wasn't one of my ideas, actually. To know if that was viable, I would need a much more precise understanding of how prophesy actually works in this setting. My guess is that suicide would not allow him to circumvent the prophesy unless it killed him off for real, and if it was a true prophesy, then he wouldn't kill himself off for real, because that's not how he's prophesied to die (not that he'd be likely to kill himself if there weren't a prophesy.) It's not the prophesy I imagined Voldemort might be trying to throw off by suicide, but his enemies. If you check the rot 13 text in my earlier post, you'll find an explanation of why the prophesy might not be trustworthy at all, but whether it is or not, note that Voldemort is now in the close circles of his most prominent enemies, none of whom seem to be aware of his true identity.
1tuukka12
Father's bones are buried inside Bella? That's twisted but so is Voldemort.
-1Vaniver
Guvf pbhyq or n genc sbe Qhzoyrqber, jvgu Uneel nf gur onvg. Vg frrzf yvxr n cbbe pubvpr sbe n genc, gubhtu- Ibyqrzbeg jvyy cebonoyl or qenvarq ol tbvat gb Nmxnona, naq Qhzoyrqber vf (va pnaba) fvzcyl fgebatre guna Ibyqrzbeg vf. Pnaba!Qhzoyrqber fnpevsvprq uvzfrys gb fnir Uneel (naq Qenpb), ohg ZbE!Qhzoyrqber frrzf gb unir frg guvatf hc gur bgure jnl nebhaq, jurer Uneel vf n urebvp pehvfr zvffvyr cbvagrq ng Ibyqrzbeg, naq fb V jbhyqa'g gehfg nal nygehvfz ba uvf cneg. V pna'g frr jung Ibyqrzbeg tnvaf ol sbepvat gur vffhr abj, gubhtu. V vzntvar cbjreshy jvmneqf qb abg eryvadhvfu gurve oybbq rnfvyl, rfcrpvnyyl qhevat onggyr. Ur pna'g enafbz Uneel vs Uneel'f znva hfr gb Qhzoyrqber vf xvyyvat Ibyqrzbeg. Gur zbfg frafvoyr cyna V pna pbzr hc jvgu vf Ibyqrzbeg jvyy fnpevsvpr Dhveery va sebag bs Uneel, fb n jrqtr vf qevira orgjrra Uneel naq Qhzoyrqber, naq abj ur gnxrf bire fbzr bgure uncyrff mbzovr gb thvqr Uneel shegure, naq Oryyngevk vf bhg bs Nmxnona naq va fbzr snenjnl ynaq (jurer V vzntvar gur Zvavfgel pbhyq fgvyy svaq ure).
0ArisKatsaris
Canon!Dumbledore didn't sacrifice himself to save Harry (and Draco) -- he was already dying, and he just arranged his death in such a way that Snape would be in the most trusted position possible, and the Elder Wand permanently deprived of a "true master". He failed in the latter goal.
1Vaniver
But he was already dying because of anti-Voldemort choices he made. I'm not sure we can expect MoR!Dumbledore to make the same choices unless he sees them as a fitting end for his life (which he may not, given that he's not Harry's mentor figure).
0Sniffnoy
I would expect this would be a well-known spell to anyone who knows about horcruxes (at least, knows about it to the point of either actually using them, or opposing someone who does). Am I forgetting some reason why it wouldn't be? EDIT: Oops, I guess this comment is obsolete - I misread the "old piece of dark magic" edit.
1Desrtopa
I was operating on the assumption that horcruxes were supposed to make one nigh invulnerable, like the soul-displacement objects of myth by which they were inspired, with the unstoppable killing curse being an exception. Being left as a disembodied shade after death would be a side effect rather than the main purpose, so the body returning spell would not be a necessary complement. It made sense in light of what I thought horcruxes were actually for. Apparently the conversation between Tom Riddle and Professor Slughorn in Half Blood Prince contradicts this, but I had forgotten it.
[-]FAWS80

How did Sirius manage to switch with Peter?

With Harry thinking the best way to break out of Askaban not to be sent there in the first place when he first hears about Sirius, the Quibbler story that Sirius and Peter are secretly the same person and someone Fawkes is particularly unwilling to leave in their Askaban prison cell mumbling "I'm not Sirius" over and over I have very little doubt that it somehow happened. I see no way to show that all just to have been a red herring that's even the least bit awesome. And then it has also repeatedly been ... (read more)

5HonoreDB
I made the same argument on tvtropes independently. My thought was that Sirius and Peter were human-form animagi of each other, as a wizardry analogue to getting matching tattoos. Although maybe one's choice of animagus form is involuntary: Peter was completely obsessed with Sirius at the time that the two performed the spell, but not Sirius with Peter, so Peter's form was Sirius but Sirius, to his surprise, turned into a dog instead. Maybe that's why they broke up. I'm not sure the dementors see people the way we do: they certainly don't in canon. If Peter's mode-lock wore off in Azkaban, the dementors might not notice or care. If Fawkes thinks that Peter is innocent, he probably is. But maybe Sirius is too. Maybe Sirius was the only one who knew that Peter was the secret-keeper, so he assumed that Peter betrayed the Potters but he'd never be able to prove it. So he switched identities and faked his own death, and remains ignorant to this day that Voldemort doesn't need a traitor to find his victims.
3ArisKatsaris
If Sirius is innocent, and Dumbledore knew it but couldn't prove it, then the swap could have been done by Dumbledore, replacing some other Deatheater (not necessarily Peter) with him. Goblet of Fire (and Barty Crouch Jr's escape after swapping with his mother) shows us that Dementors are okay with you bringing in a fresh victim to trade for a less fresh one.
5FAWS
That would be possible, but doesn't match the hints. Sirius would have been in Askaban, it wouldn't explain the confrontation, and the scene with Fawkes would be out of place if Dumbledore knew.

56

I think I figured out Quirrell's plan, or at least what the big challenge for Harry is going to be.

Quirrell spoke of Voldemort learning Slytherins secrets from the basilisk, tempting Harry. Oh but the snake is dead, too bad all those secrets are lost.

Now Harry figures out that his mysterious dark side is Voldemort, has all those secrets, and apparently can be 'reformed'.

So he can have all those secrets (and at some point he is likely to be made to need them) but to get them he has to strengthen the horcrux-voldemort talk to it and listen to it.

The answer to Harry’s question at the end of Chapter 60, “Why am I not like the other children my own age?”, is, of course, that he is the protagonist of a story, and therefore he must do interesting things to amuse the readers. It would be pretty cool if he actually realized that and started considering in his decisions the likelihood that this story will have a happy ending and the likelihood that he will be killed off as a result of a minor accident as opposed to an epic duel with Voldemort. It would be really hard to write, though, and Harry would natu... (read more)

5ShardPhoenix
As per a comment by Pavitra in an earlier thread, I think it might be that he's a copy of Voldemort, without (most of?) Voldie's memories - hence the single soul under the hat, the red remembrall, and various insinuations by Quirrelmort.
7ArisKatsaris
In the latest couple chapters, the remembrall's importance has been revealed I think: He was at broomstick flying class, and yet he had forgotten Newtonian mechanics and thus failed to see they didn't apply to broomsticks.
[-]gwern110

I don't like this interpretation because I don't think there's any problem to solve.

My memories tell me that broomsticks in both the books and movies were determinedly Newtonian, and not Aristotelian. Broomsticks do not stop instantly, people smash into the ground when they can't pull up enough, and so on. Before I accept that Eliezer has not made a mistake or is not deliberately diverging from canon and so there is even a forgetting for the remembrall to be linked to, I want to see some citations where broomsticks act in a clearly Aristotelian manner.

5JoshuaZ
It seems that they might act in a hybrid Aristotelian/Newtonian manner. Certainly in canon they talk about broomsticks having maximum speed not maximum acceleration. And people have trouble pulling from being near to hitting the ground, something which sort of makes sense in an Aristotelian framework because objects want to go to the ground. Outside canon, the movement of the broomsticks in the movies does seem to be a definite mix but this is likely more due to standard movie physics than anything else.
6gwern
I remembered the top speed from the whole Firebolt/Nimbus sequence of events, but I don't regard that as even weak evidence for Aristotelian mechanics. Wind resistance/drag means that there's a 'terminal velocity' even in free fall; change of acceleration simply changes a broomstick+wizard's terminal velocity upwards, doesn't remove it at all. (Another example: my car operates according to Newtonian mechanics in the real world - but still has a top speed, which is why I'm not setting land-speed records on Nevadan salt flats in my spare time.)
-1JoshuaZ
But the terminal velocity should then be a function of the cross-section of the person on the broomstick. Instead the brooms themselves have maximal velocities.
1gwern
I don't think Quidditch players vary all that much in cross-section. As well demand that auto manufacturers list their speeds as a function of how clean the car exterior is, how inflated the tires, what weight is being borne, the altitude, etc. EDIT: OK, after looking at the descriptions on the Harry Potter Wikia, I've changed my mind. The Seeker article specifically characterizes seekers as small and lightweight and the fastest players on the team. Which, fortunately for my self-esteem, is consistent with my position that canon uses Newtonian mechanics.
2JoshuaZ
Broomsticks have very tiny cross-section, so cross-section due to the person will be the majority of the air resistance. The difference in size between say Harry Potter and some of the big Slytherin Beaters should matter a lot.
4gwern
Newtonian brooms are supported by canon then even more, aren't they? Most Beaters are large and burly, and all the Seekers (with their premium on top speed) are the opposite. Exactly as expected with Newtonian brooms (or horses). But if air resistance didn't matter because brooms move at a fixed velocity/acceleration in an Aristotelian manner, one would expect Seekers to have normally distributed body sizes as Quidditch team captains select for things like piercing eyesight, lightning reflexes, or just simian arms. (Harry & Draco are both relatively small and thin; Viktor Krum is tall, but also 'thin'.)
0JoshuaZ
Yes, that supports Newtonian broomsticks quite strongly.
3DanArmak
It makes sense by postulating that a broomstick always goes where it's pointed (no Newtonian momentum), but there is a maximum angular speed for turning the broomstick. The rider applies force to turn the broomstick, which means there's resistance, so it's not difficult to assume that the resistance creates an effective maximum angular speed. This doesn't sum up to Newton, of course, because this maximum angular speed isn't dependent on current linear speed.
7Vaniver
Um, I thought it was pretty clear that he forgot he wasn't supposed to use his Time Turner for silly shit like that.
8NihilCredo
That was also my belief up until this passage: In-universe, this is little evidence for or against anything. But from a narrative point of view, if the answer to "What did the Remembrall flare up about?" had been "Do not use the Time-Turner for showing off", this was the time to reveal it, rather than show Harry and McGonagall being confused. Certainly it wouldn't be an answer worth waiting over forty chapters for.
4ShardPhoenix
I agree that you could read it like that, but I'd have thought that if it was something immediate like that, we'd have seen Harry realize and acknowledge it to himself. There doesn't seem much point in leaving it a bit mysterious if that's all it meant.
0Vaniver
There's an abrupt scene change, after which Harry is sitting in McGonagall's office. Now, his conversation with McGonagall is evidence for Harry being dim about that question (which is not that unlikely) or it being foreshadowing, possibly for this (which is not that unlikely). (McGonagall would also have to not point out "hey, maybe it was that you forgot my rule", which makes the first somewhat less likely.)
6ShardPhoenix
That doesn't seem like sufficient payoff, especially since there was no way to anticipate that meaning ahead of time. Also, that's not really something Harry forgot, more something he didn't even notice.
0ArisKatsaris
Whether it's "sufficient" is a matter of taste, I'd say. It's just sufficient enough payoff for me and avoids becoming ludicrously much payoff -- the Remembrall is a child's toy, afterall, not an ancient Artifact with DarkLord-detecting capacity. Indicating you neglected to do something (forgot to lock your door, forgot to apply your knowledge of physics) is more in tune with what I'd expect it to do. More to the point it correlates heavily where locale is concerned -- the first broomstick lesson. So it's more likely that it indicates something near those events, instead of something in Harry's remote past.
8shokwave
That just doesn't feel like how Remembralls work, though. For one, "forgotten something" involves having known it: using Aristotelian instead of Newtonian physics seems like a mistake, not a forgetting. Like, if he had learned through some comically painful experience that broomsticks did indeed follow Newtonian laws, and then put a rocket on his broomstick: I would expect the Remembrall to be glowing this brightly at this point. For two, a simple magic item that works exactly as intended, no matter how trivial or gigantic the task - that feels like how magic items in the MoR Potterverse ought to behave. For what it's worth, I believe Vaniver has the right answer.
3Desrtopa
Considering the language used to describe the brightness of the remembrall, I'd guess that it's supposed to imply that he's forgotten something of great magnitude or importance. Magic doesn't appear to think in terms of natural laws (insofar as it can be said to think,) so forgetting to apply Newtonian physics in a particular situation doesn't sound like something the remembrall should mark as a major lapse of memory.
2TobyBartels
Regardless of what magic thinks the laws of physics are, it ought to notice how important they seem to Harry. However, I still doubt that they're important enough to Harry as all that (although the writing in Ch 60 may suggest otherwise).
[-]Jack70

I'm not reading the comments to these threads because I'm a few chapters behind. Do you all feel like the comments here are valuable contributions to this site's content? Like I said, I'm not reading them so for all I know the heavy discussion and high karma indicates a really productive and insightful conversation. But the Harry Potter stuff is dominating the recent comments thread and this is the 5th top level post hosting it.

I think I second the intention of this post. Clearly a lot of people here are interested in discussing MOR, but that shouldn't dominate LW.

Proposal: why not move the MOR discussion threads to the discussion section, where they won't clog up the "recent comments" for those who aren't interested in the story.

6TobyBartels
The MOR reaction threads began before the Discussion section existed, but you're probably right.
1Perplexed
Actually the MOR discussion morphed into a discussion of evolution and then into a discussion of voting on posts. Some of that discussion might have been of interest to LW folk who wanted to avoid MOR spoilers. It probably shouldn't have taken place on the MOR thread, but there was no clearcut point in time when it was clear to the participants that the discussion was just getting a second wind. So I'm not sure what to suggest. Regarding your proposal: I thought that comments in the discussion section appear in Recent Comments interspersed with comments on ordinary (10 point) top level postings. Or am I misunderstanding?
4thomblake
Discussion has its own "recent comments" that can only be accessed via the discussion section. Those of us who don't ever visit the discussion section don't ever see discussion section comments.
1MartinB
That will fade away once it is finished.
4jaimeastorga2000
Which we have no idea when it will be.

(up to #56)

The title "Stanford Prison Experiment" evokes the possibility of Harry taking on some of the feelings and brutality of Voldemort during his roleplay. So far it doesn't seem like he's fallen.

Not that I would expect him to become like Voldemort - the prison roleplay experiment mostly demonstrated that people have unrealistic fantasies about how heroic they would be if placed in a role, e.g. they were a soldier in Nazi Germany, when in fact they'd behave the same as any other person in that environment. We wrongly blame others' nature f... (read more)

1pjeby
Hypothesis: Quirrel staged this entire rescue mission simply because it would force Harry to pretend to be a Dark Lord, specifically the same one he's a horcrux of. He may also have believed that interacting with his most useful minion would be beneficial to his dark side reclaiming its memories and taking over Harry.
0Pavitra
And he is in fact beginning to make use of her.

How long until the next chapter is posted anyway?

1ronnoch
Personally, I found it very useful when Eliezer posted when we could expect the next update in his author's notes. The RSS feed is cool but doesn't seem to update right away, so I still find myself checking ff.net compulsively so I can read the new chapter the moment is goes up.
2JoshuaZ
If you get an account on ff you can set it up to email you when the story updates.
4[anonymous]
Or you use my mailinglist on http://felix-benner.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fanfic

Is "I'm not serious" a The Dark Knight reference?

There's a brilliant bit of speculation in the reviews on FF that it's actually "I'm not Sirius". Makes sense to me, I was trying to imagine what "worst memory" would prompt "I'm not serious". Although now that you mention it, a guy like the Joker might end up that way.

8Trippyamine
If I remember correctly, the non-patronus Fawkes also lingered at that cell, which would make sense if there was an innocent trapped in there in place of Sirius.

The latest A/N links to an awesome picture that gave me two minutes of non-stop laughter. Best fan art yet IMO.

Gosh golly gee whiz, that's me! I'm blushing with gratitude!

0Raemon
I'd like to second how awesome that was. I'm almost tempted to do a full color version of the idea.
[-]FAWS50

This thread is going to reach 500 posts soon. Should future threads be posted in the discussion section?

Poll:

Vote this comment up if you think that future MOR threads should continue to be posted here on the main page, not in the discussion section.

vote discussion section, reason for this poll, karma balance

Poll:

Vote this comment up if you think that future MOR threads should be posted in the discussion section instead of here on the main page.

vote main page, reason for this poll, karma balance

2Unnamed
The poll is evenly split (tied 13-13 now), which I see as support for moving to the discussion section, considering that the poll is located in the middle of the MOR comments. I was leaning in that direction anyways. Most of the MOR discussion is about the story, not that closely related to rationality or that interesting to people who aren't reading MOR. And these discussion threads do clutter up the site, especially for people trying to follow the site via the Recent Comments. We've had over 3200 MOR comments over the past 6 months (over 17 comments/day). Plus another 600 Luminosity comments over the past 3 months. Having so much fiction discussion on the main page also doesn't accurately reflect what LW is about. One disadvantage of switching is that it's a bit inconvenient. For one thing, the tags are separated - a main page tag only shows main page articles, and a discussion section tag only shows discussion section articles - so you won't be able to get all the MOR discussion threads just by clicking on one tag. Also, the MOR thread might help get people who found LW via MOR to stick around, and that won't work as well if it's hidden away in the discussion section. But I don't see those as strong enough reasons to stay on the main page, especially since it seems like the story still has a ways to go. This thread is already over 500 comments. I plan on posting Part 6 in the discussion section later tonight, but first I'll wait a few more hours to allow for disagreement and debate.
-29Unnamed

Chapter 59 Author's Notes

I think I've finally come up with an answer to everyone who asks "How long is this fic going to be?", which is that it will resolve at least as much as got resolved in canon, but in less story time.

Does "story time" mean word count (the time it takes to tell the story), or in-universe chronology (the time of which the story tells)?

Given it's already longer than the first three books of canon, the second seems to make more sense.

This will, of course, miss one thing that is nice about the canonical books: they show Harry change through adolescence.

[-]ata50

From the latest Author's Notes:

ADDED 1: Several readers commented that tension was rising and falling in Ch. 56. On reflection, they were right, and I've done a minor rewrite accordingly.

Does anyone have the original version? I'd like to compare.

0[anonymous]
I'm pretty sure that the first two paragraphs of the current version are new or changed. I haven't found any other differences so far.
0NihilCredo
If you're quick, the PDF version is still the older one.
0Document
I have an early version, but I'm not sure how to send it.
0jaimeastorga2000
Sign up for a free Box.net account, upload the original version of the chapter, and post it here so we can all read it.
4Document
Thanks.

Chapter 61:

Two minor (and easily fixable) plot holes:

1) Harry never got around to tell McGonagall that the Hat called her an impudent youngster etc., and it's an interesting enough exchange that one doesn't expect it to have happened off-screen. More importantly, he freely told the story to random Ravenclaw pesterers just minutes after his Sorting, so it wasn't at all a safe security question since it's the kind of funny anecdote two-thirds of Hogwarts would know by now.

2) Lesath addressed Harry as his (Dark/Light) Lord, and didn't stick around to hear Harry "compare" himself to God while talking to Neville; nor does it seem likely that he would have learnt it indirectly at a later point.

3JoshuaZ
2 isn't a plot hole. Severus saw Harry make the comparison. That's what matters to the analysis.
0NihilCredo
Oh, right. I had forgotten about that. Nevermind then.
3shokwave
Snape was pointing out that Lesath unknowingly prayed to Harry.

I was thinking whether, considering the nature of the wizarding world, Azkaban is really that unreasonable a punishment for Death Eaters. Keep in mind that in order to deter crime (to acausally prevent it) a potential criminal calculating the expected utility of committing a crime must get a negative value.

This value depends on:

  • EB, the criminal's expected benefit from getting away with it.

  • SP, the severity of the punishment should he get caught.

  • p, the probability of getting caught.

Specifically we want (1-p)×EB < p×SP or equivalently (1/p-1)×EB ... (read more)

8[anonymous]
I have always had the impression that, in real life, people treat very small probabilities of being caught as zero, however severe the punishment. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm right torturing criminals isn't a good strategy.
2Eugine_Nier
That depends on how available the punishment is.
7alethiophile
Azkaban was not created, in-canon, in order to specifically deter potential Dark Lords. Its history is never stated, but it seems likely that it is a fairly old arrangement between the wizards and the dementors. It was created, instead, as a prison for ordinary criminals (viz. the woman Harry hears pleading while in Azkaban, who is forced to keep reliving the moment of her presumably accidental murder). The Dark Lord and his followers were indeed put in Azkaban when the opportunity arose, but this was for their crimes in the way of murder and such, not for their intention to take over magical Britain. Dark Lords are not very common (the only marginally-modern ones mentioned are Voldemort and Grindelwald, and Grindelwald is not even put in Azkaban, nor ever really messes with Britain except with the Muggle side, aka World War II). With this in mind, I think it becomes very obvious that Azkaban is vastly, awe-inspiringly overkill in the SP.
4Desrtopa
Many Death Eaters were put in Azkaban, but Voldemort never was. Indeed, there's no evidence in canon that Azkaban has ever been used to hold a Dark Lord. Also, and this has come up before although I forget whether it was in this specific thread, increasing the severity of punishments statistically tends not to result in a reduction in the rate of crimes, whereas increasing the certainty of punishment does. Creating a justice system on the assumption that criminals are good rationalists would be profoundly misguided.
3gwern
I suppose this depends on what we consider evidence. I would personally assign high credence to that based on 2 considerations: 1) that there have been quite a few Dark Lords, such that they are considered a generic natural category and are spoken of collectively; the Harry Potter wikia includes a list of 9 wizards/witches who don't appear in canon events, but I'm not sure on what basis they are listed. 2) the only other Dark Lord whose disposition we know of was put into an institution much like Azkaban, but not Azkaban for at least 2 plausible reasons (Grindelwald having built that prison himself, leading to it being poetic justice that he be confined there rather than Azkaban; and having rampaged mostly over Europe, and not Britain.) Given that Grindelwald was not given the death penalty, it seems reasonable to think that captured Dark Lords are not executed out of hand, but imprisoned; and where to imprison the many Dark Lords but Azkaban?
1Desrtopa
What basis do we have to suppose that there have been many dark lords? There have certainly been multiple dark lords, but canon provides us with a grand total of two examples, and the gap between Grindelwald and Voldemort was implied to be atypically short. We don't know how far back the history of Azkaban goes, and how many Dark Lords have been contemporaneous with it. We only know that the one canonical example of a dark lord who was imprisoned, was not imprisoned there.
2gwern
That's my own personal reading of the language scattered over the seven books; obviously, it's not easy to prove this to someone else who didn't already pick up on it - I would have to re-read all 7 and take notes where language that could have pointed to Dark Lords being rare as hen's teeth instead pointed to them being fairly commons (1 or 2 a century, which is 10-20 over the lifespan of Hogwarts). Given the powerful magics implied to have been used on it, and the general Golden Age conception in the Potterverse where older=more powerful, again my inference is that Azkaban is hundreds of years old - per above, we could expect >5 Dark Lords contemporaneous.
4Desrtopa
The only powerful magic in the defense of Azkaban seems to be the fact that time turners can't be used on its premises, which might be deep old magic, but I'm inclined to suspect otherwise. Aside from that, its defenses seem to mainly boil down to 1) taking away wands 2) anti apparation jinx 3) dementors 4) human guards. Our impressions may differ based on the fact that I still tend to draw most of my background information from the original canon, which didn't actually contain the Golden Age element used in MoR. New magic was described as being invented over time, but very little was ever described as being lost, and Voldemort was described as the most dangerous dark wizard of all time, not just the last century, with Grindelwald, his immediate predecessor, a close second. While the two are both referred to as Dark Lords, when they are compared to each other, it's within the class of dark wizards, and I infer from this that Dark Lord is a prohibitively small class within to draw comparisons.
3gwern
That's Yudkowsky-only, I think. I expect Azkaban to be as well defended as Gringotts in Deathly Hallows - all sorts of intruder spells, monsters (if they can survive), and whatnot. I think canon has the Golden Age! The founding of Hogwarts, the heirlooms of the founders, controlling the basilisk, the Deathly Hallows themselves, the Dark spells Voldemort uses, the list goes on. If it's powerful, it's probably old. The entire 20th century sees only a few new magical feats: the Philosopher's Stone (maybe); Inferi; and... some new uses of dragon blood, I suppose.
6Desrtopa
The part about time turners being unusable on Azkaban premises doesn't show up anywhere in the original canon, no. There's nothing in the original books I can think of that suggests that any especially strong magic went into the creation of Azkaban. Its main strengths are that it's guarded, and that the people who aren't supposed to get out have their wands taken away. While plenty of powerful things in canon are old, most of the old knowledge is still available. The Interdict of Merlin is also HPMoR original. Voldemort knew old dark magic because he looked it up, the basilisk was controlled by communicating with it via Parselmouth, and the heirlooms of the founders are presumably powerfully magical, having been made by some of the greatest wizards of the day, but the greater part of their value comes from the fact that they are heirlooms; if you made another sword with all the properties of the Sword of Gryffindor, it wouldn't be the Sword of Gryffindor. The only founder's heirloom that actually does anything really remarkable is the Sorting Hat, and while it's probably a work of magic far beyond ordinary wizards, it doesn't appear to be treated as an awe inspiring relic of the golden age of wizardry. If Dumbledore hasn't created anything like it, it's quite probably because he doesn't have any incentive to. He already has the Sorting Hat, after all. Rather than the founders of Hogwarts setting an unreachable standard, Dumbledore is described as the greatest headmaster Hogwarts has ever seen (albeit by a probably biased source,) and Voldemort and Grindelwald are referred to as the most dangerous dark wizards of all time. The Deathly Hallows have powers which surpass ordinary magical objects in the original canon, but their powers are not that outstanding compared to other, non legendary magical objects, and while they were probably not actually made by Death, the people who did make them never divulged the methods of their creation. All in all, the wizarding wo
5TobyBartels
Flamel's stone presumably dates from the 17th Century, since that's when Flamel himself (a real historical figure) dates from.
0gwern
I'm not sure. I seem to recall that the language implied that Dumbledore co-created it with Flamel, which would mean 20th century, after all; it's not clear how long wizards naturally live, speculation based on apparent size of Magical Britain to the side. But it's also possible Flamel created in the 1600s, this is how he survived to the 1900s, and the brilliant young Dumbledore hearing of Flamel's stone, independently reinvented it. Or something.
1JoshuaZ
The wording in book one which you may be thinking of just says that Dumbledore and Flamel did alchemical work together. Flamel's construction of the philosopher's stone is not mentioned until much later when Hermione finds the reference and there it just says that Flamel is the only person known to have made one.
1TobyBartels
I don't recall any language suggesting that Dumbledore worked on the Stone with Flamel, only that he worked on alchemy with Flamel (reported on his Chocolate Frog card). And I don't recally anything to suggest that Dumbledore ever had a Stone of his own, only Flamel's for safe keeping. In MoR, Dumbledore cites Flamel's expertise, not his own, for his conclusion that Voldemort couldn't create a Stone. In canon, Dumbledore reports that Flamel has destroyed his own stone, without saying anything about himself.
0gwern
Well, all that may be true. It has been a very long time since I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. (Although I could have sworn Dumbledore was implied to have been using the elixir, and this was one reason it wasn't surprising that he he died later on.)
1TobyBartels
Not that you should just take my word for it, but I reread the books about this fall, and I'm confident that Dumbledore didn't use the elixir. According the the Wikia (which is more authoritative than I), he died at age 107 (not unusual for a Wizard, although he was killed), and it says nothing about his using the Stone.
5TheOtherDave
It's also useful, if you're going to do this kind of equation, to decide ahead of time how many innocents tortured for how many years you're willing to exchange for a reduced chance of political insurrection... and to develop as realistic a sense as you can of how reliable your courts are, so you don't fool yourself into thinking the quantity is lower than it is.
2Eugine_Nier
I'm considering doing a more detailed calculation, including such things as false positives and the fact that you don't have perfect information about criminal's utility functions as a top level post.
9TheOtherDave
(nods) This sort of thing is worth thinking about cautiously before supporting, even in theory. A few other points worth considering in a more detailed analysis: Beliefs vs. actuality It's not the actual probability of getting caught that matters for deterrence, it's the potential criminal's belief about that probability. That is, if I only have a 1% chance of being caught but I believe I have a 99% chance of getting caught, I'm easier to deter. Conversely, if I have a 15% chance of getting caught but believe I have a 0.0001% chance of getting caught, I'm difficult to deter (at least, using the kind of deterrence you are talking about). Similar things are true about EB and SP -- what matters is not the actual expected benefit or cost, but rather my beliefs about that expected benefit/cost. Magnitude vs. valuation People's valuations of a probability of a cost or benefit don't scale linearly with the magnitude of either the cost/benefit or the probability. Which means that even if (1/p-1)×EB < SP is a manageable inequality for crimes with moderate risks and benefits, SP might nevertheless balloon up when p gets small enough and/or EB gets large enough to cross inflection points. So the threat of a lifetime of psychological torture might not be sufficiently unpleasant to deter certain crimes. Indeed, it might be that for certain crimes you just aren't capable of causing enough suffering to deter them, no matter how hard you try. Knock-on effects Official policies about criminal justice don't just influence potential criminals; they influence your entire culture. They affect the thinking of the people who implement those policies, and the people whose loved ones are affected by them (including those who believe their loved ones are innocent), and of their friends and colleagues. The more extreme your SP, the larger and more widespread the knock-on effects are going to be. Addendum For my own part I think Azkaban, and the whole theory of criminal justice th
1Eugine_Nier
Such as, ...
3TheOtherDave
I suspect you can answer this question yourself: think about all the crimes you don't commit. Heck, think about all the crimes you didn't commit today. Why didn't you commit them? If your answer is something other than "fear of being caught and punished," consider the possibility that other people might be like you in this respect, and threatening to punish you might not be the most cost-effective way to keep them from committing crimes, also. But if you want more concrete answers, well, off the top of my head and in no particular order: * Increase P * Compare attributes of people (P1) who commit a crime given a certain perceived (p,EB,SP) triplet to those of people (P2) who don't commit that crime given the same triplet, and investigate whether any of those attribute-differences are causal... that is, whether adding a P2 attribute to P1 or removing an attribute from P1 reduces P1's likelihood of committing the crime. If any are, investigate ways to add/remove the key attributes to/from P1. * Decrease perceived EB -- for example, if a Weber's-law-like relationship applies, then increasing standard of living might have this effect. * Condition mutually exclusive behaviors/attitudes. * Arrange your society so that there are more benefits to be gotten by participating in it than by attacking it, and make that arrangement as obvious to the casual observer as possible.
1DanArmak
If your answer is something other than that and other than "being considered or treated as a bad person by others despite absence of legal proceedings", then I would be very interested in hearing about it.
4TobyBartels
Altruism? It doesn't happen every day, but I often have the urge to commit petty theft (technically a crime, but probably not worth prosecuting) under circumstances in which my expectation value of punishment (including extralegal punishment such as you suggest) is well below my expectation value of the item that I might steal. Nevertheless, I almost always resist the urge, because I know that my theft will hurt somebody else (which effectively reduces the value of the item to me, since I should also include its value to others). I evolved to care more about myself than about other people, but reason allows me to (partially) overcome this; it doesn't reinforce it.
-1DanArmak
And what is your rational reason to care about other people?
1TobyBartels
It's the same as your rational reason not to: none at all. But once I do, I can notice my selfishness and work to overcome it.
0DanArmak
But why do you work to overcome it? You've said it's not due to evolution or to rational reasons, but if it's due to e.g. social conditioning, why would you use your reason to assist this conditioning? I can think of reasons to do so - although I am not sure they are weighty enough - but I'm interested in other people's reasons, so I don't want to reveal my own as yet.
3TobyBartels
Because I care about other people. I expect that social conditioning, especially from my parents, has led me to care about other people, although internal exercises in empathy also seem to have played a role. But it doesn't matter where that comes from (any more than it matters where my selfish impulses come from); what matters is that I consider other people to have the same moral worth as I have. Looking over this conversation, I think that I haven't been very clear. Your comments, especially this one, seem to take as an assumption that all rational people (or maybe, in context, only rational criminals, or even rational Death Eaters) value what happens to their future selves and nothing else. (Maybe I'm reading them wrong.) Some people do, but most people (even most criminals, even most Death Eaters) don't; they care about other people (although most people aren't altruists either). I think that this is some of what TheOtherDave was getting at here. And it is certainly the reason why I myself don't commit petty thefts all the time, and why I feel bad when I do commit petty theft: because I care about other people too. Almost all of the people that I know are in a similar position, so I'm surprised that you would find it interesting that we don't commit crimes, even when we can get away with them (completely, not just legally). That's the point of my original response to you. (Actually, I do commit some crimes that I get away with, and without regret, because criminal law and I don't agree about morality. That's also important in the original context, but I didn't address it since I don't actually want the penal system to be effective in deterring such crimes.) (Also, I'm not really an altruist either, but I still feel that I should be: I'm a meta-altruist, perhaps, but I'm still figuring out what that means and how I can be an altruist in practice. I probably shouldn't have brought up altruism; it's enough that I care about the people in my immediate vicinity,
3TheOtherDave
Well, there are a huge number of crimes I didn't commit today because I feel no particular impulse to commit them. And there's a smaller number of crimes I didn't commit today because I've internalized social prohibitions against them, such that even if the external threat of being punished or considered/treated a bad person were removed, I would nevertheless feel bad about doing them. I suspect this is true of most days, and of pretty much everyone I've ever met, so I'm not sure what's so interesting about it.
1DanArmak
Well that's given; I meant other than crimes you don't want to commit in the first place. A heuristic, a learned behavior. As a rationalist I see value in getting rid of misapplied heuristics of that kind. It would puzzle me if this wasn't the default approach (of rationalists, at least). Granted, most of the social conditioning is hard or impossible or dangerous to remove... Your answer sums up to "fear of repercussions that is active even when I know consciously there's nothing to fear". This is the standard (human) answer, and not very interesting.
1gjm
Well, you were the one who said "if you have any reason other than X or Y then I'd be very interested to hear it" where X and Y don't cover the "standard answer", so it hardly seems reasonable for you to complain that the standard answer isn't interesting. (I also think it's highly debatable whether those internalized social prohibitions are best described as "fear of repercussions that is active even when I know consciously there's nothing to fear". You've certainly given no reason to think that they are.)
0Eugine_Nier
I agree with your points in general; however, note that unlike increasing SP your suggestions can't simply be implemented by fiat. Also given these things weren't done, I believe TDT requires us to use the values of p and EB at the time the crime was committed when calculating SP because those are the values would be dark lords are using to determine whether to start an overthrow.
0TheOtherDave
Re: by fiat... yes, that's true. In behavior-modification as in many other things, the thing I can do most easily is not the thing that gets me the best results. This is, of course, not an argument in favor of doing the easiest thing. Re: TDT... I don't see where TDT makes different requirements from common sense, here. Re: using p/EB at the time of the crime... of course. If I want to affect your decision-making process now, the only thing that matters is the policy I have now and how credibly I articulate/ that policy. But that's just as true of my policy around how I investigate crimes (which affects p) as it is of my policy around how I select punishments (which affects SP). Relatedly: yes, most of my suggestions require lead time; if you're in a "ticking time bomb" scenario your options are more limited. That said, I distrust such claims: it's far more common for people to pretend to exigent circumstances than it is for such circumstances to actually occur.
1Eugine_Nier
My point is simply that you shouldn't reduce the punishment after the fact, by say rescuing Bellatrix, simply because you have since changed the value of p and/or EB.
1TheOtherDave
On the account you've given so far, I don't see why not. If I've followed you correctly, your position is that severe punishment of prisoners is justified because it deters crime in the future. But if I implement a 100% effective crime-deterrent -- say, I release a nanovirus into the atmosphere that rewires everyone's brains to obey the law at all times -- then from that moment forward severe punishment no longer deters crime. That is, I will get the same crime rate in the future whether I punish my current prisoners or not. So why should I continue punishing them in that case? It seems like wasted effort. Granted, none of the suggestions I've proposed are 100% effective. But it seems like the same argument scales down. You're claiming that in order to deter crime today, I should establish an SP inversely correlated with p (among other things). If I raise p today, then, it follows that I should lower SP today to keep deterrence constant. What benefit is there to continuing to punish existing prisoners under the old SP?
3Eugine_Nier
Otherwise your new value of SP isn't credible. After all, you're likely to lower it again in the future and then apply the change retroactively.
1TheOtherDave
If I assume that changes to SP are retroactive but that changes to p and EB aren't... for example, if I assume that if today I increase my ability to catch criminals (say, by implementing superior DNA scanning), this only affects criminals who commit crimes today or later, not criminals who committed a crime last year... then I agree with you. If that's not true, then I don't agree. The same logic that says "Dave will probably lower SP in the future, so I should apply a discount factor to his claimed SP" also says "Dave will probably raise p in the future, so I should apply an inflation factor to his claimed p." And since what's driving the reduction in SP in this toy example is precisely the increase in P, the factors should offset one another, which keeps my level of deterrence constant. Now, I grant you, this assumes a rather high degree of rationality from my hypothetical criminal. In the real world, I strongly doubt any actual criminals would reason quantitatively this way. But in the real world, I strongly doubt any actual criminals reason quantitatively from EB, SP, and p in the first place.
0Eugine_Nier
Well, retroactive changes to p tend to be much smaller since most evidence degrades with time. Also in this case since the crime is attempting violent overthrow of the government retroactive changes in p are almost non-existent, after all a successful overthrow by its nature virtually eliminates your chances of getting punished for it.
2TheOtherDave
That's a fair point. So, yes: if p is effectively constant and SP is not, you're right that that's a good reason to keep applying the old SP to old prisoners. I stand corrected. So are you saying the SP-setting strategy you're proposing doesn't apply to crimes that don't destabilize the criminal justice system itself?
0Eugine_Nier
I'm saying what I said and hopefully what's true, redo the calculations yourself if you like. Here I'm saying that if a crime has the potential to destabilize the criminal justice system itself, that should be taken into account when calculating p.
2hairyfigment
I believe Harry considers some punishments completely out of bounds, too severe for anyone. Certainly I do. The following may have no connection to the real reasons for this; but even without Many-Worlds you have a non-zero probability of personally suffering any possible punishment. Legally allowing a given punishment for anyone seems to produce a non-zero increase in this probability (even in a world without Polyjuice). Some possible punishments may have such negative utility for you that a course of action which avoids such increases, but which almost certainly leads to your death, would still have positive utility. Azkaban seems like a good candidate for such a punishment.
4Eugine_Nier
On the other hand, reducing the deterrent for potential dark lords, increases your probability of winding up living under a dark lord at which point your chances of suffering horrific torture, either in Azkaban or somewhere else, is greatly increased. Assuming you don't consider being wrongly punished in Azkaban under the current administration vastly worse then being punished and/or tortured under a dark lord, you can't simply declare certain punishments out of bounds. Another way to think of this is that any government that fails to provide sufficient deterrent to prevent successful overthrows will be overthrown. This process will continue until you get someone who is willing to be sufficiently brutal. So it doesn't matter how nice your ideal government would be; if it can't prevent overthrows, you won't get to live under it.
2hairyfigment
That certainly seems like the relevant Star Goat probability. (I speak of the One True Star Goat, braise His mane, who will devour the souls of all who believe in God and make them stew in His Holy Bile for eternity, not the vile worship-demanding blasphemy proposed by the Restored Church of the Star Goat.) The Anti-Pascal's Wager argument may not work here, though. The part of your argument that deals with Dark Lords overthrowing each other until we reach sufficient SP assumes that some possible deterrent will stop them -- although canon!Voldemort clearly did not fear Azkaban after enlisting the dementors' aid, and he allegedly altered his own mind, ensuring himself another dreadful fate if he lost. The argument also seems to assume an inexhaustible supply of at least minimally competent Dark Lords. It may further assume that said Lords themselves can make a subjective distinction between 'different' people who've altered their own minds, repudiated their original names/origins and left bits of soul strewn around the countryside, since otherwise Voldemort would have no rational reason to object if some 'other' Dark Lord of this kind tried to possess him. More on that later. In practice, the ambiguity in the term "Dark Lord" makes it hard to show that reducing deterrent increases the probability of Azkaban or some other torture >= Azkaban. Offhand I don't recall canon!Voldemort personally doing anything worse than kill people, give them brief though intense pain or try to use the Imperius curse on them. I just realized something that makes our disagreement seem silly, but I'll finish for the sake of completeness: while canon!Voldemort used dementors against Muggle-born wizards in a horrific way, I don't believe we know if he favored prolonged happiness-free death such as we find in Azkaban. So wrongful punishment of the sort we find under the current wizard administration could easily seem far worse, for individuals, than canon!Voldemort's version. A lot of Fudge'
2Desrtopa
We don't know if he can possess people against their will. In canon, Quirrel allowed Voldemort to make use of his body. Even if he can, He's claimed that he's trying to set Harry up at the ruler of the country, and Harry is one person he almost certainly can't possess.
2TobyBartels
In canon, Voldemort did possess people against their will, including Harry (despite his mother's protection) in the climactic Ministry scene in Book 5 (although it was a struggle that Harry shortly won).
4Desrtopa
He inhabited Harry briefly, but it's not clear that it afforded him a useful degree of control over Harry's body, and as Dumbledore noted, inhabiting Harry caused Voldemort excruciating pain. Considering the way their magic has been shown to interact in MoR, I'd think any attempt to possess Harry would turn out even worse in this canon than that one.
0TobyBartels
As far as Harry goes, I agree, but possessing some other dictator would be much easier.
0DanArmak
Hear, hear!
3James_K
Furthermore even if one is a pure consequentialist, there may be a case for acting like a deontologist in some cases. While a perfectly rational entity can properly weight costs and benefits, people can't. Chances are if a person's moral code says "it's a good idea to subject some people to mind rape for decades" that person has made a mistake, and one should account for that.
2Carinthium
Doesn't that assume people are rational?
0marchdown
No, that only assumes that society in general exhibits certain patterns attributable to rational agents behind the scenes. Groups, memes, corporations, tournament players, lottery organizers, markets, butterbeer optimizers can all be rational. The smarter villain is, the more aligned with rationality (all things considered) his behavior is. Stupid baddies have higher probability of failure even with deterrents not working on them as intended.
1Carinthium
Just because somebody has a significant degree of irrationality doesn't mean they will necessarily fail- skill is a far more important factor (and people can be rational in some areas but not others). How would you deter irrational crooks?
3Eugine_Nier
That depends on which biases they're exhibiting. For example if they're exhibiting availability bias, make punishments public and memorable. Maybe put the mutilated corpses of criminals on display in public places. For overconfidence bias if they're underestimating their probability of getting caught, you may have to make the punishment more severe to compensate.
6Strange7
That won't work. If the prospective criminal in question is being flat-out irrational, thinking that the probability of being caught is arbitrarily low or zero, no logistically-feasible increase in severity will compensate for that. Instead, you should attack the subject's confidence directly. Brag about your analysis of some form of evidence that can't be effectively suppressed, tell fictional but realistic-seeming stories about crime scene investigators with mythic levels of competence and dedication. To make it clear that you're not bluffing, capture some people who thought they'd never be caught and extract confessions from them. Ideally, these would be people who've actually committed serious, well-concealed crimes, but depending on your other governmental priorities almost anyone could serve as such an example. Yes, that strategy gets ugly if you carry it far enough. There's a reason 'police states' aren't fashionable anymore.
6JoshuaZ