Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4

by gjm1 min read7th Oct 2010658 comments


HPMOR (discussion & meta)
Personal Blog

[Update: and now there's a fifth discussion thread, which you should probably use in preference to this one. Later update: and a sixth -- in the discussion section, which is where these threads are living for now on. Also: tag for HP threads in the main section, and tag for HP threads in the discussion section.]

The third discussion thread is above 500 comments now, just like the others, so it's time for a new one. Predecessors: one, two, three. For anyone who's been on Mars and doesn't know what this is about: it's Eliezer's remarkable Harry Potter fanfic.

Spoiler warning and helpful suggestion (copied from those in the earlier threads):

Spoiler Warning:  this thread contains unrot13'd spoilers for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality up to the current chapter and for the original Harry Potter series.  Please continue to use rot13 for spoilers to other works of fiction, or if you have insider knowledge of future chapters of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

A suggestion: mention at the top of your comment which chapter you're commenting on, or what chapter you're up to, so that people can understand the context of your comment even after more chapters have been posted.  This can also help people avoid reading spoilers for a new chapter before they realize that there is a new chapter.

Rendering 500/658 comments, sorted by (show more) Highlighting new comments since Today at 8:18 AM
New Comment
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

Reposted, will some spelling errors corrected. I am a professionally published award-winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author, who is amused by the fan fiction in question, but wonders why the author does not attempt to have paid, edited, Fantasy or Science Fiction published in a SFWA-endorsed Major Market.

"Will" should be "with". "Science fiction" and "fantasy" shouldn't be capitalised, nor should "major market". The last sentence is very awkward, with three past participles stepping on each other's role, and should be rewritten.

Harry Potter is a brilliant series of novels about Evil, in politics, in pedagogy, and in attacking people with whom one disagrees. That it is set in a world where Magic works (though more on a cook-book basis than an axiomatic or empirical science basis).

It is debatable whether "Evil" should be capitalised. The third comma should be deleted. The second sentence is completely broken.

Irrational people who pretend that they are Rational, and devote blogs to boasting about their purported rationality. Is it rational for me to be driven crazy by them?

"Rational" should not be cap... (read more)

8AdeleneDawner10yThis is the funniest thing I've read all week, and the fact that it's nested under a highly downvoted comment where few people will see it makes me sad.
6wedrifid10yBrilliant. (Why the Glau signature?)

Reference to this.

6wedrifid10yAhh, yes, I'd forgotten that one. Even more brilliant.

A guide for the perplexed:

This message is by Jonathan Vos Post, who three years ago - before LW split from OB - had some comments deleted on an OB thread, and when his pals (Fellman and Sokol) showed up to confirm his existence, they were interpreted as sockpuppets and also deleted.

Evidently, he will not rest until this wrong is righted, as he has mentioned it on various blogs, in August 2007 I II III, May 2008, and February 2010, and now here in October 2010. His compadre Dr Fellman also got into the act at one time.

(I didn't know any of this fifteen minutes ago, btw. It all came from google.)

Professor Post, I doubt you will ever get an apology for having been called a fictitious entity on a blog three years ago, but be sure that we all now know that you exist.

I now sort of want to meet him. Preferably while we're both plastered.

5TobyBartels10yI know him from other blogs, and it never occurred to me that ‘ProfessorPost’ was him. I am disappointed. Jonathan: From the links cited above, I can see why you got so upset, but the comment that you posted didn't explain any of this. As written, it's unfair nonsense. Pretend that you were me reading it; what would I get from it? PS to help in the pretence: HP:MoR Ch 1 was the first thing by EY that I ever read, and it's not very old. So that gives you an upper bound on what I could know about him, and I can assure you that I'm far from pushing it. On the other hand, you already know about how much I know about you.

Eliezer's author notes say: If you want to know everything HJPEV knows and more, read the Sequences.

That would have been fair enough while there were only a few chapters of MoR up. Now, however, Eliezer is promising that reading the Sequences will teach readers how to perform Transfiguration, how to protect themselves against telepaths, how to conjure up a (v2.0) Patronus, and so forth. That seems a little optimistic.

Well I read Lesswrong, and I'm already protected against all know telepaths, and can destroy every dementor in existence.

Yeah, I can only imagine how disappointed they'll be when they learn stuff about how to build benevolent superintelligences instead.

You've worked out how to do that now? Cool!

7Strange710yI can't find the article where you list hardware specs. Is it on the wiki?
9[anonymous]10yThis is true, but I don't think the Sequences need to teach what has already been covered to a sufficient degree of detail in the text. I can, for instance, vouch that Occlumency is taught well enough by the fic alone; since I read chapter 27, no-one has been able to read my mind! And I think I got the theory for conjuring a Patronous v2.0 down, too; as soon as I get a magic wand, I can put that to the test and see if it works.

The discussion of snake's sentience reminded me of an argument I once made about the nature of pureblood discrimination against Muggles, which I'll reproduce here:

Consider how we, as humans, justify our definitions of personhood. Why do we say that chimps, for example, are not people? Essentially, we come up with a list of features which we have, and things which aren’t people don’t have, like talking, tool use, etc. and then say everything which looks very similar to something which has those features is a person (why, for example, we consider a severely mentally retarded person a person).

In the Wizarding World, manufacturing a facsimile of sentience – talking, etc. is trivial. Even a very poor family can purchase multiple such objects as a child’s toy (Magical Chessmen). They would reject that these object are people, they’re simply toys, not truly free willed, despite resembling that strongly. When it comes down to it, the only difference between real people and all these simulacra seems to be the ability for autonomous magic use – so this becomes the criteria for person-hood.

For wizards, form is not a determinant of nature, thanks to the various transmutations and shapeshifting... (read more)

7Pavitra10yI actually rather like the canon Ministry of Magic's current definition of personhood, which is "any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws". Further, certain intelligent creatures such as centaurs have declined legal personhood status in favor of self-governance.

I'm not so much talking about the legal definitions, as about the basic intuitions that form the framework for the moral reasoning that goes into determining behaviour and then the formal laws and systems that govern them.

It's one of the priors that someone with a non magical upbringing may never consider, that the basic foundation of moral reasoning is different for pureblood wizards.

That other sapient beings have weight as moral actors is pretty basic, and if pure bloods were to instead use a different intuition as the starting point for moral construction, then Harry has a very substantial amount more work to do.

n.b., I have to admit that I was rather disappointed by their being a physical basis for magical ability that proved Harry was right and the pureblood faction wrong. I think it would make a far more interesting setting if the pure bloods were actually factually correct but still morally wrong. Just as interesting would be there being no physical basis for magical ability, and it simply being an example of large scale magic such as the taboo or the cure on the DADA job, the equivalent of a curse or blessing on a family line.

2Pavitra10ySorry, I didn't mean to make it about law. I just happen to find that particular definition pretty intuitively appealing; that the definition was canon magical law was a minor side point of only marginal relevance.

Has Quirrell been kissed by a Dementor? With Voldemort responsible, presumably.

That would explain his zombie mode - when he slouches, drools, doesn't speak, and can only stagger around.

And in chp 45 the Dementor could have been speaking to (zombified) Quirrell rather than to Voldemort when it said to Quirrelmort "that it knew me, and that it would hunt me down someday, wherever I tried to hide."

Voldemort can take over Quirrell and act through him, turning him into articulate Quirrell. But when he's not actively in control Quirrell enters zombie mode. Voldemort might be going someplace else while he leaves Quirrell on autopilot, or maybe he just needs to rest because controlling Quirrell uses up his energy.

[-][anonymous]10y 14

More evidence for this: when he sees Quirrell slumped over in Chapter 16, he thinks "Now what does that remind me of...?" What could Harry possibly have seen that might look similar to zombie mode Quirrell? Well, just a chapter earlier, he saw a picture of a criminal killed by exposure to Dementors (the criminal who transfigured gold to wine as payment for a debt).

I can't think of any alternate hypothesis for what Harry might have seen to remind him of zombie Quirrell. There just aren't very many things he's been exposed to in the first 15 chapters.

3Unnamed10yGood catch. That does seem like another hint, although the alternative that comes to mind is that he just reminds Harry of zombies. (Minor correction: it's chp 16 [http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/16/Harry_Potter_and_the_Methods_of_Rationality] , not 14).
1[anonymous]10yChapter number fixed.
6Unnamed10yI've had some thoughts about why, within the HPMOR world, it makes sense for Voldemort to choose to occupy a dementor-kissed body. I don't know the details about how the magic works or the solution to the HPMOR!mind-body problem, but it seems like it would be easier to take over a vacated body than to try to share the space with the original soul. It seems like a cleaner process, with no ambiguity about who's in control within the body. Second, based on Voldemort's personality (assuming that's what we're seeing from Quirrell) I think he'd prefer to be alone rather than having a roommate as he does in canon. Third, removing the original Quirrell also removes the need to rely on him to keep the secret and not give himselves away out of stupidity, lack of self-control, poor acting skills, or outright betrayal. Finally, other people might be able to tell when a body contains two souls - if the Sorting Hat can do it, why not the Hogwarts security system?

chp 51-54 & A/N

Is it plausible that Harry would go along with this rescue? It is harder to accept than a Sirius rescue, which would've been based on the belief that Sirius was actually innocent (he hadn't done the awful things he was convicted of). The extenuating circumstance of having become evil under the influence of the Dark Lord provides a much weaker reason to rescue someone, and requires much more trust in the person who is conveying the information (since they must not only get the facts right, but make some subtle and complex judgments about the prisoner's character and what they deserve).

If Quirrell had just come straight out and asked Harry to help him break Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban, and to pretend to be Voldemort while doing it so that she would follow him out, I don't think he would have done it. Far too many red flags. Sure, Harry wants to end Azkaban, but to start with Bellatrix, who undeniably did so many evil things? Quirrell's case in favor of Bellatrix's innocence sounds like what a partisan would say when trying to make their side seem favorable, not an argument that Harry would buy (just as he could see through Draco's case against Dumbledore). ... (read more)

I think there's two things going on here. The first is that Harry is psychologically in fantasy-mode during these chapters, and the second is Harry's self-esteem issues regarding his own intelligence.

"You are about to invite me to join a secret organization full of interesting people like yourself," said Harry, "one of whose goals is to reform or overthrow the government of magical Britain, and yes, I'm in."

Fantasy-mode: Harry is being recruited by a secret group of highly interesting rebels. They fight against the stupid, evil, corrupt government of Magical Britain. Their cause and methods are righteous beyond question (otherwise Harry would ask a few, instead of immediately inducting himself).

Quirrell believes Magical Britain must be ruled under the dictatorship of a powerful leader, as we learned in chapters 34-35 (whereas Harry believes in democracy). So what kind of secret rebel organization is he likely to be a member of? It doesn't matter. Harry is in fantasy-mode -- he could be in a secret organization of interesting people whose goal it is to change the world!

Fantasy-mode is completely obvious throughout these chapters, especially at the start of 52... (read more)

9TheOtherDave10yYes. Which also makes me remember the titles of these chapters. I originally thought the title was suggesting that we were going to explore the underlying motives of the Aurors/Dementors/prisoners... but the SPE has very little to do with prisons, really, and a lot to do with the ways in which people's thinking and behavior gets distorted by the roles they adopt. Much as Harry, as you point out, is distorting his own thinking by choosing the role of Noble Warrior in an Epic Fantasy.
1orthonormal10yIWICUTT. ("I wish I could upvote this twice" deserves a shorthand around here.)

Quirrell gradually brought Harry into the plot, getting him to make a series of commitments so that by the time the full plot was revealed it would be hard for him to back out. The gradual escalation of commitment is reminiscent of the Milgram study, more than the Stanford prison experiment. Quirrell framed each step in general terms that would activate Harry's noble motivations for going through with the plot or undermine his defenses and objections at later steps. And Harry was rushed, so that he wouldn't have time to think things through fully on his own and analyze them from different angles, which made it much easier to lead Harry's thoughts down the path that Quirrell wanted.

In chp 49 Quirrell revealed his secret illegal animagus form, which seemed innocent enough - Quirrell had voluntarily disclosed it for no clear benefit, which made it hard to hold it against him. But in doing so, he brought Harry into a conspiracy, where they had secrets from the rest of the world which Harry was comfortable with even though they might look bad to other people. He got Harry to set aside the law as a standard for evaluating what was happening. Harry knew that the law is flawed, but h... (read more)

2Danylo10yThat's an interesting point. In context of that, consider the following -- Harry is now [end of chapter 54] without protection from the Dementors, thus gone entirely to the 'dark side,' which in Harry as in most is rather Slytherin. That means that Harry is now in the perfect position to see how he's been manipulated, and act against on it: specifically, betraying Quirell and going with his first story "He made me do it." He can even attribute his attacking an Auror who thought about Moody* to the Dementors and potentially get away with the whole thing. Just something to consider. * I misread, but the point remains.
2TobyBartels10yNot Moody, but a cameo Auror who thought about Moody
1jsalvatier10yI was surprised that we basically did not get to hear Quirrell explain how he knew Bella was innocent nor Harry ask.
3FAWS10yQuirrell explicitly said that he couldn't tell him. There are a number of other interesting and important questions Harry could have asked, though.
9Unnamed10yOne other thing that Quirrell did was to portray the government of magical Britain as the opposition, since he and Harry agree that it's corrupt and incompetent. That made it easier for Harry to dismiss opposition to the plot as foolishness. It also bound Harry & Quirrell closer together in Harry's mind, and made their shared rationality salient. But it could have driven Harry & Quirrell apart, since this is one area where Harry knows something about Quirrell's goals. They have talked about what kind of government would be best, and they disagree. They even had a kind of public debate about it. So why would Harry be so eager to join a secret organization to reform or overthrow the government of magical Britain, without at least worrying about what kind of government they're trying to bring about? That's a worry that should carry over to Quirrell's actual plot. It's a very basic question: why is Quirrell doing this? What is he trying to accomplish? But one that Harry apparently never asks.
7DanArmak10yIf Harry is a utilitarian, he shouldn't need extenuating circumstances. He should want to free everyone from Azkaban and from all forms of torture and suffering, including truly evil people. The only reason not to free Bellatrix Black should be the danger of her attacking other people later on, and that's the point on which he should seek reassurance from Quirrel (re: what they are going to do with her once freed). But it seems Harry reverts to common human morals in the last few chapters. He attaches much weight to Bella's innocence. He thinks he'd like to kill Voldemoret as revenge or punishment.
8Document10yAnother reason is that (as pointed out elsewhere) there could be other people much more deserving of being freed; freeing Bellatrix or freeing her first might cost him the opportunity of freeing any of them in the near future.

And failing to free her at all may cost him the opportunity to save the world. Harry should have had some doubts as to whether he was ready for the mission.

Failing that, the other thing that has been bothering me for a while is why did Quirrel take Harry to save Bellatrix now? If Quirrel was pure Voldy he wouldn't care about Bellatrix, he doesn't love her. Saving her now, by taking a young idealistic boy on an important high-stress mission, doesn't seem like a good plan. How much does an evil overlord value saving henchwomen, what risk is worth it?

I am not sure that Quirrel is pure Voldy. I'm half tempted to predict that Quirrel is Harry-grown-old-and-dark transported through time in some fashion. Hence the extreme inability to touch each other and the fact that Quirrel's priors are too good. There is a fair amount of evidence against that (lack of patronus, for one). But it is a fun idea.

Saving her now, by taking a young idealistic boy on an important high-stress mission, doesn't seem like a good plan.

Unless the primary purpose is to change Harry. Duping Harry into rescuing Bellatrix Black creates some pretty hefty blackmail- most importantly by Harry against himself. Harry can name the fallacies involved, but that's no guarantee he can overcome them.

Remember, pretty much every action Quirrel has taken so far has been pedagogical. It seems far more likely that he's grooming Harry than that he's rebuilding his power base.

6bisserlis10yWait, can you explain why lacking a patronus is evidence against Quirrel being a time-traveling Harry? He would have the same super-bright human patronus that Harry does, which would be a bit of a tip that he was Harry-from-the-future. So obviously he would pretend to not have one.
3Sniffnoy10yAlternative idea: You only get one patronus. Harry's got hit by AK, so now he can't cast patronus anymore.
4bisserlis10yShhh, if you're not careful, patronuses will be sentient next. Is it ethical to dismiss a sentient patronus?
1whpearson10yIf he had a patronus he could have saved Bellatrix a long time ago, by himself or using a more reliable ally than Harry. He seemed to have been waiting for Harry, thus either he doesn't have a patronus or he needed Harry to do this task for some other unknown reason.
1bisserlis10yI'm still confused. I think because I assume that saving Bellatrix was definitely not the point of the trip, and whatever the real point was, it specifically has to do with Harry so Quirrel's patronus status is irrelevant with respect to the Azkaban trip. Couldn't Quirrel always have used an ally in the plot? They wouldn't even necessarily have to be willing or reliable on their own, or can't you summon a patronus under the imperius curse? Now I feel like I did when reading the chapter on the final army battle. I think I'm an n-1 player.
3whpearson10yI got the impression that Harry's patronus was special and strong for shielding against the Dementors, perhaps no others would have been strong enough to hide an escaped felon? Why hadn't more people been broken out? Okay if saving Bellatrix is not about saving Bellatrix, could whatever it was about have been done in a more controlled environment? Could Quirrell have hired some goons to play a part in some formative point of Harry's education/ensnarement rather than taking a teen into a live fire situation. What would have happened if Harry hadn't been able to cast Patronus? Could Quirrell have taught the lesson/ got a hold on Harry in a different way? If so why hadn't Quirrell got this hold as soon as he could have? It seemed that Harry's Patronus was the trigger for the Azkaban mission (Quirrell suggests it just after he finds out about it, why does Quirrell need to get the hold now). The only explanation that makes sense in the "azkaban is not about bellatrix" scenario is that Quirrell wanted it to fail all along... I see insufficient incentive for Quirrell for the positive outcome to offset the severe risk of it going wrong. I'm also confused. None of the explanations for what is going on make sense. Quirrell's motivation/identity seems the most under explained.
1bisserlis10yInteresting. I'm not sure whether or not it's better at shielding, because we're told that people break in to Azkaban to shield the inmates so that they might have regular non-nightmare dreams, or just a half-day of patronus time. So we know that just one typical patronus is strong enough to protect people from the worst effects of a Dementor for 12 hours. I don't think we know enough about the defenses of Azkaban to say at what point the typical rescue operation would fail. But when we're witnessing the aurors in the command center, I find it interesting that only attempts to relieve the pain of being in Azkaban through patronus-presence are brought up (in the bit about bribes), not escape attempts. Perhaps it has to do with the "perfect crime" logic. As to what the actual purpose was in this whole excursion, I have no idea. I'm not sure intentional failure is the only explanation. It could be some weird bonding experience. Maybe Quirrel always dreamed of raiding wizarding prisons, pulling off bank heists, and taking over the world with his son. Chapter 55: "Adoption Papers" I think from the duel that we can infer that Quirrel didn't expect to lose, even in a one-sided fight against a team of aurors. He was just playing games when it was one-on-one. Maybe he used the killing curse because he was (overly) confident that Harry was committed to trusting him completely with regards to this mission and didn't expect to be blocked. Maybe chapter 55 will answer all of our questions. Ha. Haha.
6JoshuaZ10yIf it did turn out to be that I'd be annoyed since a) old Harry time traveling back has been done before and b) it would be such a stretch from the standard plot that making it turn out that way would strike me as too far removed from the original.
3whpearson10yI think it could make a decent story. I'm not sure that it hasn't strayed too far from canon anyway. Sngr/Fgnl Cbggre Nsgre guvf qronpyr, Uneel trgf pncgherq naq chg va Nmxunona sbe n ovg. Ur ybfrf nyy uvf unccl zrzbevrf naq gur novyvgl gb pnfg Cngebahf (vg vf n unccl zrzbel) naq fbzr bs uvf engvbanyvgl genvavat. Ur rira sbetrgf ur vf Uneel Cbggre (ur yvxrq orvat n obl jvgu qrfgval). Urzvbar/Dhveery/Qenpb naq gur jrnfyrlf zbhag n erfphr, jvgu Urezvbar univat yrneag cngebahf sebz Uneel'f abgr. Uneel vf nffhzrq gb or gur qnex ybeq, ol gur nhgubevgvrf, fb vf abg fnsr ng guvf gvzr, ur jbhyq or uhagrq qbja, fb vf genafcbegrq onpx va gvzr. Gurer ur xvyyf bss Ibyqrzbeg cebcre naq fybjyl orpbzrf Dhveery. Guvf nyfb rkcynvaf jul gur Qrzragbef unir n orrs jvgu Dhveery, ur unf gur znex bs fbzrbar jub rfpncrq Nmxnona. Dhveery unf gb pbnpu Uneel va guvf jnl gb sbez n fgnoyr gvzr ybbc. Abj V qba'g ernyyl guvax vg vf guvf. Ohg fgvyy vg jencf hc n ahzore bs fgenaqf. V nyfb unira'g ernq rabhtu snasvp be gur ynfg srj obbxf bs Uneel Cbggre fb zl frafr bs jung unf orra qbar be fubhyq or qbar vf abg irel fgebat.
2gwern10yAh, but how does he kill Voldemort? Your scenario doesn't provide any power-up to go from irrational prisoner in Azkaban to Dark Lord-killer. I suggest that before that, Harry remembers Quirrel's story about the Chamber of Secrets, and regretfully kills the basilisk as well (to keep the time-loop stable). Indeed, a time-loop might explain how Quirrel found about it in the first place - the search procedure was simply to systematically investigate every old legend, and the Chamber was simply the one that panned out.
1thomblake10yI believe that the Dementors have a beef with Quirrell because (rot13 [http://www.rot13.com/]) gur Qrzragbef ner Qrngu vapneangr naq Dhveeryy qrsvrq qrngu ol perngvat n ubepehk, abg gb zragvba qlvat naq abg fgnlvat qrnq. Gurl jnag gur cevmr gung'f orra qravrq gurz.
4whpearson10yReading some wikis tell me that Dementors didn't have a problem with Voldy in canon, and that condition applies there. So either that is a deviation from canon, due to a change in the nature of Dementors or something else is going on.
6[anonymous]10yThe Dementors don't represent death in Rowling's canon. They are identified with depression.
4bogus10yPotential spoiler: Vg pbhyq or gung Uneel vf fvzcyl zvfgnxra nobhg gur gehr angher bs Qrzragbef: Gurl qb abg ercerfrag Qrngu (gung vf Yrguvsbyqf), ohg engure zntvpnyyl pbapragengrq rkvfgragvny natfg (spoiler) [http://lesswrong.com/lw/sc/existential_angst_factory/]. Uneel'f gubhtug va gur Uhznavfz frdhrapr vf uvf guvat gb cebgrpg (spoiler) [http://lesswrong.com/lw/nb/something_to_protect/], juvpu (jura uryq fgebatyl) vf n engvbany pbhagre gb rkvfgragvny natfg. Navznyf ner rssrpgvir Cngebav orpnhfr gurl'er abg ersyrpgvir rabhtu gb srry rkvfgragvny natfg. Gur ovttrfg ceboyrz jvgu guvf gurbel vf gung Oryyngevk qbrf unir "fbzrguvat gb cebgrpg"--ure vagrafr ybir sbe Ibyql. Guvf gubhtug fubhyq unir rvgure fuvryqrq ure sebz gur vasyhrapr bs Qrzragbef be orra sbetbggra nf cneg bs gur Qrzragbef' trareny rssrpg. Fbzrguvat gb guvax nobhg sbe n zber pnabavpny fcvabss, gubhtu. Nfvqr: Sha naq rkpvgrzrag jbhyq nyfb jbex nf rssrpgvir pbhagref gb rkvfgragvny natfg. Cerqvpgvba: Serq naq Trbetr Jrnfyrl jvyy qrirybc na rira zber rssrpgvir Cngebahf ol erqvfpbirevat fbzr bs gur 31 ynjf bs Sha (spoiler) [http://lesswrong.com/lw/y0/31_laws_of_fun/].
4Sniffnoy10yYes, in canon he eventually recruited the Dementors, IIRC. This seems like a change in the nature of the Dementors.
1JoshuaZ10yI think the general issue is that the overarching setting is essentially the same or very close to the original even if the details have changed. That's an implicit pact that Eliezer has essentially made with the readers. For what it is worth, prior to the end of the series there was a fair bit speculation that either Voldemort or Dumbledore was really a time traveling Harry (this speculation seemed most prominent after book 4 before book 5 came out). At a general meta-level I also doubt Eliezer will do anything like this because this is still to a large extent Eliezer's vehicle for trying to illustrate concepts about rationality and that sort of plot line would seriously distract from such a goal.
4jimrandomh10yNot worth it. But this is:
4MartinB10yWhich would not requiring a rescue mission, but just going in & out. Which - as we learned - is rather cheap to do.
3MartinB10yQuirrel seems to not know some theoretical concepts that Harry does know.
5JoshuaZ10yPeople aren't very good at being utilitarians when there's heavy emotional issues involved even if they are generally good at thinking rationally in other situations. For example, I'm generally a utilitarian, but when I read about this extremely disturbing story [http://www.boingboing.net/2010/10/26/good-news-of-a-kind.html] I wanted the people responsible to suffer badly for a very long time. And I still do. I don't just want them to die to prevent future harm. I want them to burn. I want them to burn so much that it almost makes me wish there were a vengeful god to torture them. And if I had the choice between simply killing the people involved and making them die slow, agonizing deaths, I'd likely pick the second and them lie to myself and convince myself that that was somehow the utilitarian thing to do. Humans have a lot of trouble being good utilitarians when the stakes are high.
3TobyBartels10yEven if Harry's not a utilitarian, I'd still like him to be smart enough to realise that this is still an important practical question to ask. But he's only 11, so I only hope that EY will let him realise his mistake later.
5David_Allen10yTo add to this, what will be done with Bellatrix after she is freed? Wouldn't Harry need an answer to this before cooperating with Quirrell? Simply releasing Bellatrix to her own recognizance would be like releasing a hungry lion near a grade school during lunch hour. Without Voldemort personally directing her actions she would act out of her own sense of vengeance. It isn't obvious to me that a simple "trust me" from Quirrell would convince Harry to cooperate.
1jsalvatier10yI thought this was weird too, but EY has a habit of revealing plans as they are enacted rather than beforehand.
1Sniffnoy10yThis is the one thing that bothers me about this; Quirrell's excuse for Bellatrix seems good enough to cover a lot of people. Hence I expect at least one of the following should hold: * Harry refuses to go along (this didn't occur) * Harry insists on modifying the plot to break out more people (this didn't occur) * Harry insists on going back to break out more people, to Quirrell's dismay * Harry insists on going back to break out more people, just as Quirrell was going for ...though I guess those last two look a good deal less likely now that I've seen the extent to which they bungled the breakout.

Something that came up in a conversation offsite between me and Adelene Dawner:

Both in canon and MoR, where are all the grandparents and great-grandparents?

Supposedly, wizards have much longer lifespans than Muggles. I'm a Muggle, about to turn 22, and I've still got a grandparent left. Meanwhile, baby Harry managed to be orphaned without any of his grandparents stepping forward to take him in, or even trying to have a relationship with him. Perhaps Lily and Petunia's folks, Muggles both, were dead by this time - they never show up in canon - but what happened to pureblood James's mom and dad? Or their parents, or their siblings - when these people could all easily have lived to be a hundred years old, there should be some many-generation families running around.

The only visible ancestors we have before the canon epilogue are Augusta Longbottom, and, by the end of the series, Andromeda Tonks. Old characters like Dumbledore and McGonagall exist, but seem unmarried, childless, grandchildless. The Weasleys had at least one great-aunt and one great-uncle, but neither Molly nor Arthur has parents coming around for dinner, and they try to be an awfully close-knit family.

9AdeleneDawner10yNot only that, but if I remember correctly, Augusta Longbottom was portrayed as being considered old. Wizards seem to follow the same schedule as muggles for settling down and having kids, so she should have been about 70 when Nevil started at Hogwarts - not even middle-aged compared to a 200-year expected lifespan.
4erratio10yI'm not sure this is too unusual relative to our own society: these days life expectancy in Western countries is around 80-100, but people still tend to be considered to be getting old at fifty, relatively old by sixty and definitely old by seventy. In our case though we have the excuse that it's a recent change. This implies pretty awful things about wizarding society, if we can safely assume that people with children retire around sixty and then spend the next century or so being ornamental, and that it's been like that for centuries.
5[anonymous]10yThe usual handwave by people discussing Rowling's canon is that any missing family members were probably casualties of the civil war against Voldemort, I think.

There's no obvious comparative shortage of people from any particular age group. Unless the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix selectively went around a little over a decade ago and picked off enemies with grandchildren/married offspring who were likely to go on to have kids, but not non-grandparents with kids - which, really, why? - this is an unsatisfactory explanation. And it'd have to be both sides. We're not just missing Molly's Prewett ancestors, we're missing Abraxas Malfoy too.

2bogdanb10yDeath Eaters seem to have a proclivity for killing one’s family. That would explain very thin family trees for anyone that was involved with the war. That’s because families of DE-opposers are killed, because people with less family would be more likely (i.e., less demotivated) to fight against Death Eaters, and people already fighting DEs are less likely to start families to avoid having a lever over them. The obvious exceptions, like Ron’s large family, are children born after the war, sort of like baby-boomers.
2Alicorn10yRon is the second-youngest child in his large family, and he's Harry's age. So most of his siblings were born during the war.
0bogdanb10yYeah, you’re right. I was confusing Voldemort’s war with the earlier war (the one matching WW2). I only realized the distinction when I was too far from a computer to retract the comment. That said, Ron’s family could still be just an exception. The logic still stands, it just went from “supported” to “not supported” by evidence (rather than “contradicted”).
4thomblake10yThere was a war with Grindelwald that took the place of World War 2 in the wizarding world. Presumably, many of the older generations perished in that conflict as well. And we have few tales of the potentially-bloody history prior to that.
4TobyBartels10yIt's very slightly hinted in canon that these were actually the same war. In MoR (and, I would guess offhand, quite a few other fanfics), this is pretty well confirmed.
0somervta7yThey have just been through a war - many such people may have died. It's also possible that most wizards/witches had children much later, and the relatively 'young' families we see were a response to the war.
0fibby7yIt is possible that most wizards/witches die not of old age, but simply because being a wizard is such a HUGE occupational hazard. If you use magic every day, you can make a fatal mistake eventually; especially if your magical power keeps increasing with age, whereas your memory / ability to concentrate goes down. And there are everyday spells that can easily kill you if you get them wrong, Apparition comes to mind. Yet it is possible that death in a magic accident is so common that it isn't even viewed as big tragedy. You'd have to be either extremely good (Dumbledore), or very careful (Moody, McGonagall), or both to survive to an old age.

Harry chokes on his water twice in ch 49. Suppose that Quirrell, having been tricked into drinking Comed-Tea, finds out what spell makes it work, and puts it on Harry's water. Then he can think the following: here are some guesses I have about Harry. I will think about them in order; if Harry raises his glass, I will state my guess.

A pretty interesting way of reading minds, right?

2wedrifid10yHarry tested that. He concluded that the tea works the other way. That is, it detects when something weird is going to happen and gives you an impulse to drink.

Harry tested whether you could make something weird happen by drinking the tea, not whether you could make someone drink the tea when you did something weird, subject to you not yourself knowing what would be weird enough before you saw them drinking.

I have refined my idea based on some re-reading. I forgot that you aren't guaranteed to choke on every sip. Someone let me know if the following is too farfetched.

As you said, when something shocking is going to happen, someone with access to the tea feels an impulse to drink it. Now recall this line from chapter 7, not given much thought to by Harry:

"It doesn't always happen immediately," the vendor said. "But it's guaranteed to happen once per can, or your money back."

So translating to the backwards-causation hypothesis, if nothing shocking is going to happen before you finish drinking the can, the tea stops you drinking it.

OK, let's put this together with the idea that time-reversed causation preserves self-consistency. I deduce that if you sit someone down in front of a glass of Comed-Tea for lunch they will start drinking from it only if they will be shocked enough to choke on it at some point. So what you ... (read more)

9MattFisher10yUnfortunately, there's nothing that says the tea will force your lunch-mate to drink on the first thing you think about that would cause him to choke. You could run through a dozen true and shocking guesses in your head without him feeling any urge to drink. Once you get bored and give up thinking of new hypotheses, if your lunch-mate hasn't drunk from the can, the vendor's guarantee is still intact because none of the the tea has been drunk. Why does this remind me of the halting problem? On the other hand, if you wait until after your lunch-mate has taken his first sip (taking the risk that something unexpected and shocking will happen when he does so), and you have resolved to take away the drink immediately after his second sip, you might be in a better position. You also need to hope that the shocking event that causes your companion to choke is not an epiphany on his part where he suddenly deduces one of your secrets.
2wedrifid10yThat does seem like it may just work. It is also a case where TDT comes in handy. Causal reasoning would suggest that once you have already got your answer there isn't any reason to actually make the scene (which could potentially give away your strategy.) There are some limitations on working out whether the 'weird' is 'good guesswork' specifically but it certainly gives you some strong evidence.
1TobyBartels10yI don't think that the vendor will apply the guarantee in that case. Next you'll forget about messing with causality and just try to get your money back by opening the can and pouring the contents away. Surely the guarantee only applies if one finishes drinking it!
6NancyLebovitz10yHow much intelligence does it take to know when something weird is going to happen? Where is the intelligence located? I think I'd feel worse about drinking something like that (except that it doesn't mind?) than eating deep-fried talking rattlesnake.
6wedrifid10yErrr, good point. Of course, for all I know it wants to be drunk. If that is the case then who am I to go about projecting my mind and other optimising?
5NihilCredo10yAbout as much as it takes to detect a sudden involuntary contraption of the throat muscles, combined with a jolt of various hormones and a few other such symptoms. So, probably not much more than a polygraph. Plus whatever intelligence may or may not be required to look into the future.
1hairyfigment10y(Forgive me if people already discussed all this and just I didn't see it.) Well, we know a person can appear to turn into a cat. One could probably take this as evidence for wizards' ability to fit a time-traveling intelligence into a can of soda. But it seems to me that the simplest explanation for both (or the one with the greatest prior probability) involves a Source of Magic teleporting in a newly made cat body that it controls using the memories and personality traits it finds in the human body it just snatched. Then this intelligence 'writes' the changes to the original body or a copy. So the good news is, you probably don't have to worry about the soda and wizards seem halfway to a form of immortality. Obviously this has disturbing implications as well. The fact that Harry's world still exists seems like a good sign, as does the existence of time-turners if that really rules out a standard simulation. But the fact that "the Universe wants you to say 'Wingardium Leviosa'," suggests an imperfectly-Friendly AI that cares about a dubious form of volition among people with a certain genetic marker.
3NancyLebovitz10ySounds like J K Rowling and her memetic descendents.

Hey Eliezer- if you're planning to upload your Author's Notes to the LW wiki, it might be helpful to post that intention to your profile on Fanfiction.net. I know of at least 3 groups independently trying to collect all of the AN's themselves:

3MartinB10yPlease do. I would like to read the earlier notes.
1[anonymous]10yI, too, have been trying to collect whatever AN's I could, along with the little description blurbs. My version [http://www.box.net/shared/fxd7pr100z] is a bit messy, though.

Chapter 54: why don't Harry and Quirrell cast Somnium on Bellatrix instead of deceiving her? (The deception requires Quirrell to tell Harry the Death Eater password, among other things...) Why does Quirrell talk to Bahry so confidently while Bellatrix can hear him? Why does he follow his whims to play-duel and then kill Bahry instead of quickly subduing and memory-charming him, if they planned to pull off the perfect crime? Why is he so vulnerable to Dementors that he drops immediately when Harry's Patronus vanishes, even though Bahry's Patronus is still there successfully protecting Bahry and Harry? (Or am I misunderstanding the reason for his screaming? It's very similar to Harry's screaming when he first encountered a Dementor. If the screaming were caused by Quirrell's spell coming in contact with Harry's - brother wands or whatever - then Harry should've felt a symmetrical effect, which he didn't.)

Also, am I the only one stupid enough to only now realize that the professor's name is Quivering Squirrel?

why don't Harry and Quirrell cast Somnium on Bellatrix instead of deceiving her? (The deception requires Quirrell to tell Harry the Death Eater password, among other things...) Why does Quirrell talk to Bahry so confidently while Bellatrix can hear him? Why does he follow his whims to play-duel and then kill Bahry instead of quickly subduing and memory-charming him, if they planned to pull off the perfect crime?

That reminds me of something else Quirrell arranged for Harry -- occlumency. If they read Bella's and the Auror's mind, they'll see Harry as a villain, and since Harry has training in occlumency, he's no way to prove them wrong. The entire thing looks like a set-up.

4DanArmak10yHarry didn't even consciously try to stop Quirrel's killing curse. It was an accident. Quirrel couldn't have counted on it happening to set Harry up.
6Danylo10yOh, you're quite right. Perhaps Quirrel was planning to kill the Auror to make it clear that a break-out had occurred? That way, a full check of the prison would occur and Bella's replacement would likely be found. Which in turn would mean that it was put there simply to deceive Harry into a false sense of security. When the break in is made public, Dumbledore would naturally come under suspicion (since a Dementor disappeared under his watch) and he would suspect Harry. That might also explain the lack of the 30th charm by Quirrel. Might make Harry traceable. I could be completely wrong, of course. Pure speculation.
3Unnamed10yThe Auror saw Quirrell fight him with amazing skill, attempt the killing curse, and turn into a snake. Harry saved him from the killing curse. Quirrell's the clear bad guy from his point of view (is that enough evidence for people to conclude that Q=V?), and only Harry's last Somnium spoils his innocence. It will also be clear that they were lying to Bella, at least about some important things, since it was Harry's Patronus.
6NihilCredo10yI'm pretty sure I'm being exceedingly careful here, but... It's enough evidence to conclude that he's a bad guy. Assuming I had never read Eliezer's assurances that Q=V, I would most definitely not put it past him to make his rewriting of HP not so much about the Dumbleharry vs. Voldemort war, but about the internecine fight between Quirrell/ColdHarry and Dumbledore/WarmHarry about how to confront the Voldemort threat - by finding a worthy dictator (in the original intent of the word [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_dictator], hopefully) or by making free citizens, I mean subjects of Her Majesty stand up for themselves. Each of them convinced that fighting Voldemort by the other's means would be as bad or worse than giving up; each of them wondering how much can they scheme and sacrifice, how close can they come to Voldemort's methods in order to successfully lead the fight against him... damn, speculating about it makes me want to read it already, no matter all the stuff that doesn't quite work with this scenario (sense of doom in primis).
5Eliezer Yudkowsky10ySo write it. Nothing wrong with having an AU of an AU.
5Unnamed10yI mean: Is it enough evidence for people within the story to conclude that he is Voldemort? Being a ridiculously powerful dark wizard should be enough for them to locate the hypothesis and consider it a possibility, at least for those who know that Voldemort is alive. Then there are other clues: his attempt (with Harry) to free Bellatrix Black, knowledge of the Death Eater password (among him & Harry), his strange relationship with Harry Potter (including the odd magical interaction & Harry's sense of doom), and his ability to turn into a snake. Is that enough evidence to convince someone like Dumbledore who already knows that the Dark Lord lives? Is it enough for the rest of the wizarding world to be persuaded?
5PhilGoetz10yHow about: Should Harry have trusted Quirrell? I don't mean "did it have a good outcome"; I mean, was Harry's trust justified by what he knew? Would you have done the same thing? In retrospect, I think Harry ought to have said, "Professor Quirrell, I owe you a great debt, and have great respect for you. If you ask me to do something, I'll probably do it. But I don't trust you one single bit." But I doubt I would have said that myself.
3TobyBartels10ySorry, how does ‘Quirinu‑’ become ‘Quivering’?
2dclayh10yPresumably, as I mentioned below, for the stated reason that "'It's been quite a while since I had a serious fight with a serious opponent'" As Quirrel himself said earlier, if you can't have some fun once in a while, what's the point?
2DanArmak10yIt was caused by the spell contact. Harry was also screaming (Bahry's POV mentions hearing this). He was probably less affected than Quirrel because he was much farther away. Case in point: Quirrel had spent about a minute in Azkaban (top floor) without any Patronus, until Harry arrived, and all that happened was that he had to lean on the wall for a bit to recover.
3cousin_it10yNaw, Quirrell spent that minute in his snake form because it's less vulnerable to Dementors, and when disaster struck he threw away his wand (recall how Harry got attacked through his wand) and assumed snake form again, probably as a last ditch defense. So I'm not sure if your final point supports your conclusion or mine. And Harry was probably screaming just because he was scared. ETA: I just realized another funny thing. As Quirrell is an unregistered Animagus and Bahry saw him transform, in the aftermath he'll be going to Azkaban for two years unless something unusual happens.
6katydee10yI have very little, if any, idea of what something "usual" would look like under these circumstances.
5EchoingHorror10yPolyjuiced Quirrell, mind you.
1jsalvatier10yI didn't realize it until you mentioned it.

The people I know in person […] who insist that they are entirely rational, all of the time, have at times annoyed me[.]

Yeah, such people annoy me too.

That's why I particularly like the title of this blog. One can never be perfect, but one can strive for perfection. One can never be 100% correct, but one can be Less Wrong.

PS to all: Yeah, I know that I've made my comment in a poor context, but ‘Less Wrong’ really is an excellent title for a blog, isn't it? I just want to sing its praises.

Agreed about "Less Wrong"-- not only do I like the name, but when I mention it, it generally gets a good response from people who've never heard it before.

1moshez10yYES! When I showed the blog to my friends, they immediately "got it": "It's not about being always right, which is impossible, it's about being wrong less often".
1Oscar_Cunningham10yI find the same thing. However, I think it gives the impression that humans are almost rational, and only need to correct biases to become so. In fact the situation is quite the reverse, rational minds occupy a very small area in mind-space, and it requires a positive effort to hit this target.
4TobyBartels10yThat's why nobody should use a silly name like ‘Overcoming Bias’. (^_^) :-) Actually, I disagree. To me, ‘less wrong’ is a title of humility that suggests that we are wrong but need to become less so. In contrast, ‘more correct‘ would suggest to me that we are already correct but can still become more so. Similarly, ‘half full’ sounds optimistic while ‘half empty’ sounds pessimistic, even though their literal meaning is identical. It's a matter of the emphasis to which the listener is drawn. This may be highly subjective.
0FeepingCreature9yImo 'half full' implies that the glass is filling, whereas 'half empty' implies that it is emptying.

I have a question about chapter 49 and was wondering if anyone else had a similar reaction. Assuming Quirrell is not lying/wrong, and Voldemort did kill Slytherin's Monster, then my first thought was how unlikely that Slytherin's Monster should have even survived long enough to make it to 1943. No prior Heir of Slytherin had had the same idea? Perhaps no prior Heir of Slytherin had been strong enough to defeat Slytherin's Monster? No prior Heir had been ruthless enough?

Maybe this constitutes weak evidence for the theory that Quirrell is lying.

6AdShea10yIt also could be that the Basillisk has some sort of genetic memory (or DNA-based cognition ala the Super Happies!) such that the monster in the book is not the original monster but rather a great-great grandwhelp of the original monster. This would allow any heirs to kill their specific monster while the line (and thus memories) are preserved. (This is of course all predicated on Slytherin realizing that his descendents may be nasty enough to keep knowledge from others by any means possible).
5wedrifid10yI wonder, did Slytherin actually expect his descendants to be nasty? In MoR quite possibly not.

Eliezer Yudkowsky...screamed at my former business partner... and then wept "like a little girl"... I thus cannot accept that someone is "rational" because he self-publishes that he is, and worships Bayes' Theorem.

The test of whether one is rational is in fact whether one obeys Bayes' Theorem, not whether one avoids screaming or weeping.

Another good test of rationality is whether you're more confused by fiction than by reality. Just thought I should mention that in this connection.

5wedrifid10y(Insert 'epistemically' rational to make the first half true. The part about the screaming is right regardless.) EDIT: Upvoted the parent to 0 make sure it didn't look like it was me who downvoted it. I know you just hate unexplained downvotes that don't appear to have any cause.
1Vladimir_Nesov10yPeople don't generally "obey Bayes' theorem", and in the nuts and bolts of human rationality that is hardly the salient feature, merely something to look for when situation allows.

It's unclear whether Descartes, Spinoza or Leibniz would have lasted a day without being voted down into oblivion.

I loved that line. It was put in there among 'the ugly' but I consider it one of the best features of lesswrong. Just because they talk about some guy in high school doesn't mean their thinking is any good! Eat downvote burn until your thinking gets up to scratch Descartes. Read the damn sequences!

(I wonder if Descartes would end up getting into arguments with Mitchell... "I thought I was me, I still think I'm me, therefore I am still me!")

Chapters 55-56: disappointment. Harry recovered way too easily, if the story were consistent he'd be screaming on the floor until the Aurors arrived. The obstacle of Bahry's future testimony shouldn't have been so easy to remove, now I'm suspicious that Eliezer will deal with the obstacles posed by McGonagall, Dumbledore and others in the same fashion. In general, the end of Ch. 54 seems to promise all hell breaking loose, 55 undoes that, tries to build more suspense instead, and fails to be believable because it erased previous suspense too easily. It's like a prelude that promised a fugue and didn't deliver. But the part where Harry momentarily thinks of Bellatrix as a good unquestioning minion was one of those moments of brilliance that I love the fic for.

The best description of hell breaking loose I've ever read was the first part of Dostoevsky's "The Idiot". I first read it assuming it would be a difficult work of "serious" literature, and it totally upset my expectations by being more exciting than any "fun" literature I'd seen. Here's how it goes: all the heroes and the main conflict are introduced in the first couple pages, then the situation q... (read more)

disappointment. Harry recovered way too easily, if the story were consistent he'd be screaming on the floor until the Aurors arrived.

I've thought about this a bit. Emotionally, I agree with you. But all the counter-arguments make sense. I've finally narrowed it down to a single sentence, at the end of Chapter 54:

(And then it was already too late.)

This sentence is epic. It sent shivers down my spine when I first read it. It resounds with finality. The jig is up. The battle has been lost. Despair, all ye mighty. I couldn't wait for the next installment to find Harry waking up in an holding cell with his plans crumbling about him, desperately thinking his way out of this jam without giving up his friend.

Now, I do actually enjoy the next two chapters. But the promise of finality was broken. Ch55 starts out with "And then it was already too late... PSYCH! It's not too late at all!" It feels like the X-men comic books I'd read as a kid, which on the cover showed our heroes dead or mortally wounded, the villain of the month triumphant above them, but when you grab the comic and read it you find that nothing like that happens in the story.

If that line was removed (or at least changed to not be so Final) the transition between 54 and 55 wouldn't be jarring.

2cousin_it10yPrisoner's Dilemma, huh? :-) I had the same hopes for 55. Right now it looks like Harry will escape the mess without losing anything. Whyyy? Corwin of Amber had a spectacular failure that got him imprisoned and blinded, and the story was better for it.
1Vladimir_Nesov10yI think you're right. The power of that line even confused me into jumping to conclusion that Quirrell died [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2ugr?c=1] , despite a much better explanation [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2ut4?c=1] . The book will be better if this device is changed.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky10yWell, to the accusation of inconsistency I will respond that (a) Harry is not standing five paces away from a Dementor this time and (b) he has been strengthened somewhat by previous realizations, thus he does not instantly fall over and gets a chance to recover.
5PeerInfinity10yI agree entirely. In chapter 52, I was able to empathize with Harry. I felt what he was feeling. And the feelings were was surprisingly intense. But in the next chapters the story just started getting too unrealistic, and Harry became an impossibly superpowered character, and I lost my emotional connection with him. This was a constant problem throughout the rest of the story too, but the problem is especially egregious in this story arc. And the impossibly-superpoweredness kept escalating. Chapter 52 was vaguely plausible. Chapter 53 might have been plausible, if Harry had a lot of time to prepare. Chapter 54 was only slightly less realistic than chapter 53. And I thought that after Chapter 54, this story arc was over. Harry failed at his mission, and just had to keep from losing his mind entirely before the aurors found him and he had to face the consequences of his actions. But then in chapter 55, he made a miraculous recovery. Noone could recover like that. Not even Eliezer Himself could recover like that. From then on, this wasn't a story about a real person, it was a story about an impossibly superpowered character, and the story lost almost all of its emotional impact. I still think Harry should have just given up, and turned himself in to the aurors. I don't see how this could possibly end well, and Harry's actions in chapters 55 and 56 are just making things a whole lot worse. But this is a story, and so of course it's going to end well, no matter how stupid or reckless the protagonist seems to be acting. It's still an awesome story though, it's just that the suspension of disbelief is gone. But that's just my opinion. Your Mileage May Vary. EDIT: ok, I accept Eliezer's explanation [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2w2f?c=1] and David Allen's explanation [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2w0y?c=1] of why Harry was able to recover. I take back my complaint about Har
8David_Allen10yOne of Harry's established traits is his highly trained reflex to question his own perceptions, especially under difficult circumstances. This situation is probably the most extreme that we have seen Harry in. In this context that ability comes across as a super-power, but it is not out-of-character.
2PhilGoetz10yI agree with most of your comments, but - So you'd offer 4-1 odds on that bet?
3PeerInfinity10ysorry, what I should have said is that the story as a whole will end well. It's still possible that Harry's actions in this particular story arc will have disastrous consequences, that Harry will have to try to fix later. It's also very likely that Harry won't be able to fix all of the disastrous consequences. but I would still offer 1-1 odds that this particular story arc will end without disastrous consequences... though there is some ambiguity about what counts as "disastrous". um... oops... did I just challenge Eliezer to not give this story a happy ending? I want a happy ending. or at least a bittersweet ending. It's just that I would prefer if the protagonist didn't recklessly get into impossible situations that he then goes on to use impossible superpowers to get out of. And what happened to Harry having learned how to lose? This seems like a situation where losing immediately is the best option. The more Harry resists, the worse things will be when he loses. Unless something really improbable happens. Anyway, I expect that all of these things that I'm complaining about are probably a case of "the plot demands it". It would have been nice if Eliezer could have avoided these problems, but sometimes you just can't please everyone. Also, we won't know for sure if Harry is holding the idiot ball until we find out what his plan is, hopefully in the next chapter. oh, and is it just me, or are the words "trust the author" really unconvincing? I mean, if you already know how generally awesome Eliezer is, it's a whole lot easier to trust him as an author, but those words would be entirely unconvincing to anyone who hasn't heard of Eliezer before... though he has already earned lots of trust with the previous chapters...
1PhilGoetz10y(Harry having to learn how to lose was great.) Remember "The Cold Equations" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cold_Equations]? I wouldn't be shocked if Eliezer wound the entire fanfic up with some similar message.
6NancyLebovitz10yI remember the extensive discussion about "The Cold Equations", in which it was concluded that the only way that sort of tragedy could be generated would be if there was massive organizational incompetence. Stowaways were a known problem. Why wasn't the spaceship locked? Why was there a door on the closet? I think a reasonably happy ending is forced for MOR. Harry survives. So do other major good characters. However, perhaps a MFAI (Magical FAI) is created, and power and responsibility are handed off to it. What would Harry do with the rest of eternity then?
5Alicorn10yI think there's textual evidence suggesting that he would have descendants and then attend a lot of birthday parties on celestial objects.
4NancyLebovitz10yHe might still enjoy exploring how magic works-- I expect it's as rich a field as physics. (Last I heard, the idea that physics may offer unlimited depths is still respectable.) Ending for a rationalist fairy tale: And then they learned how to live happily ever after.
1PeerInfinity10yHarry will invent Fun Theory [http://lesswrong.com/lw/xy/the_fun_theory_sequence/], of course. And then he'll spend the rest of eternity testing and improving this Fun Theory.
2MartinB10yNo no no no no. Not a stupid space Aesop as in the cold equation. No!
4whpearson10yEven with Bahry obliviated there should be lots of clues it was Harry. Especially now that Quirrell is down and whatever spells he was casting to confound the wizarding equivalent of forensics are probably down. Harry sized foot prints in the dust, cloth fibers where Harry lay down? The angle/position that the stunning spell hit Bahry implying it was cast from a low elevation? Or to put it another way who are the Wizarding community going to think did this? Ex-death eaters? Not killing Bahry is a sign that it is not them. The unusual patronus that seemed to be able to hide Bellatrix, and will possibly kill Dementors next chapter, has the hallmarks of Harry. If they didn't know about the existence of time turners then they might be fooled, but he has used them so much, it is really a poor alibi. So yeah put me in the camp of all hell should still be breaking loose even if Harry doesn't get caught red handed in Azkaban.
6PhilGoetz10yThe wizarding world doesn't stoop to non-magical forensics. Footprints? Fibers? How barbaric.
2David_Allen10yI don't think that it is obvious to most of the other characters that it is a patronus that is hiding Bellatrix. It would also be discounted because she remains invisible under the cloak after Harry's patronus is extinguished in Ch. 56. Canon Dumbledore would have observed the masking power of Harry's patronus, and would be clever enough to to guess that the Harry's cloak could have this property. Presumably the HPMOR Dumbledore is at least this clever. Dumbledore however observed Harry's extreme response to an unshielded dementor, so he might be confused at a Harry that walks around unprotected and apparently unaffected. Working against Harry is that Dumbledore's patronus could be used to identify Harry's patronus as the one it observed in Azkaban, and that any dementor that observes Harry, and survives, could also identify him. It seems that if Dumbledore wants to later verify or exclude Harry as the intruder, he can.

I noticed something odd in chapter 17, which seems relevant:

Harry was rather confused. "But this could be important, yesterday I got this sudden sense of doom when -"

"Mr. Potter! I have a sense of doom as well! And my sense of doom is suggesting that you must not finish that sentence!" ... "This isn't like you!" Harry burst out. "I'm sorry but that just seems unbelievably irresponsible! From what I've heard there's some kind of jinx on the Defense position, and if you already know something's going to go wrong, I'd think you'd all be on your toes -" ... "I see," Harry said slowly, taking it all in. "So in other words, whatever's wrong with Professor Quirrell, you desperately don't want to know about it until the end of the school year. And since it's currently September, he could assassinate the Prime Minister on live television and get away with it so far as you're concerned."

Professor McGonagall gazed at him unblinkingly. "I am certain that I could never be heard endorsing such a statement, Mr. Potter. At Hogwarts we strive to be proactive with respect to anything that threatens the educational attainment of our s

... (read more)

And, sorry this has probably been gone over before, but why doesn't Harry think about the sense of doom all that much? He keeps glossing over it as if he's under a Somebody Else's Problem type field. If he's under some sort of mental power it's likely causing both mistakes

4DaveX10yI think the title was redacted in order to not give the game away too early, as in Chapter 9. Maybe the magical incompatibility is real, and perhaps the dark social engineering behind the Stanford Prison Experiment relates to Chapter 16, Lateral Thinking. In Ch16, there's almost the same words in all-caps dizzying his brain. It might be explained by the sense of doom and magical incompatibility. Also Ch16 has “Mr. Potter, I never said you were to kill. There is a time and a place for taking your enemy alive,..." If Quirrell senses similar doom on his side, framing Harry as the Dark Lord and almost capable of breaking his most trusted lieutenant out of Azkaban might be a cunning lateral-thinking plot to dispose of all but a fragment of his nemesis without using anything direct.

I would like to take this opportunity to hail Discordia, and say that yes, in fact, I would like it very much if you started convincing people that I was some sort of shadowy conspiratorial figure. Honestly I'm disappointed that this hasn't happened already.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I've long suspected you had Discordian sympathies (even before HJPEV started being really overt about it with Chaos Legion and such), and that I often already do portray you as a shadowy conspiratorial figure (and, occasionally, as a dark wizard) when I tell people about your work. Honestly, SIAI is the closest thing I know of to an actual honest-to-Gog real-life New World Order conspiracy, or at least the only one I know of whose master plan to utopia is both (1) plausible, and (2) not shockingly uncreative or unambitious or reactionary about what a better world could look like.

Some thoughts about Comed-Tea.

(I apologize in advance if these have already been discussed; there are a LOT of MoR comments and I haven't read all of them. If someone points me at the thread I'll slink off quietly and apologetically and read it.)

1) It seems there have to be two pieces to the behavioral control surrounding Comed-Tea (supposing Harry's basic theory is correct).

The first piece is, as Harry infers, inducing the drinking of Comed-Tea just before a surprising event is about to occur.

The second is suppressing the drinking of Comed-Tea otherwise. Were it not so, the "guarantee" wouldn't work... there would be no reliable expectation of something surprising happening when you drink it.

That second part needn't be magical, incidentally; there are many things that suppress people's desire to drink them via non-magical routes... castor oil is a canonical example. But if Comed-Tea had blatantly aversive properties Harry presumably would have noticed that. So whatever the aversive factor is, it's subtle (which still doesn't make it magical).

Actually, now that I think about it, the first piece of that is so unreliable (that is, most surprising events aren't preceded b... (read more)

6TheOtherDave10y(slaps self on forehead) It just occurred to me that the precognition theory is experimentally distinguishable from the alter-reality theory for Comed-Tea. If Comed-Tea operates on precognition, then the frequency of potential spit-take inducing events (that is, events absurd enough to cause you to do a spit-take were you drinking something) should be the same for communities that have the stuff and communities that don't... the only difference should be that Comed-Tea containing communities drink the stuff just before they happen. OTOH if the frequencies aren't the same, then the precognition theory runs into trouble. In that case something does appear to be increasing the likelihood of absurd events. Of course, a third theory is that drinking Comed-Tea simply makes things seem more spit-take-worthy than they otherwise would be, thereby increasing the perceived frequency of such events... much like the frequency of giggle-inducing events increases after eating a hash brownie.
4NihilCredo10y1) Agree 2) "Limited version of the Imperius Curse" looks like an exaggeration to me - it isn't just a matter of scope, the Comed-Tea impulse can be resisted with little effort. The level of its power of mental manipulation seems about on par with that of the bakery in the city I grew up in, which had set up shop in front of a particularly frequented bus stop and which would keep its doors half-open, even in winter, drowning the waiting (and often hungry) students and workers in the delicious smell of fresh bread and pastries. That is to say, it's conceivable that the Comed-Tea doesn't use "real" mind-altering magic at all, but simply broadcasts a signal which, to the brain, appears analogous to the gurgling of a fountain on a hot summer day. 3) Well, yes, if all magic relies on the AFoAM while spells and magical items are just triggers this has a lot of implications, but I don't see how this concerns the Comed-Tea more than any other thing.
3TheOtherDave10yOr, looking at it the other way... if it's plausible that Comed-Tea is capable of influencing Harry to drink it at the right moment (or, rather, just before the right moment), then I'm not sure why it isn't plausible that the phrase "Wingardium Levioso" is capable of influencing objects to levitate. Words don't normally have that ability, and I can't imagine how they could, but the same is true of soft drinks.

Please go away.

Users posting downright nonsense and noise don't even belong on the site, and bad arguments can be ignored or addressed instead of just anonymously downvoting them.

Downvoting mechanism is one way of making sure that obvious nonsense-posting gets visibly and quickly discouraged. Without it, there would be more nonsense.

Quirrell is reading Hermione and Draco's minds, and the story he told Harry about how he learned that Harry was a parselmouth, in chapter 49, is partially fabricated. While that story does explain Quirrel knowing that Harry's a parselmouth, it doesn't explain why he chose to confirm that knowledge on his very next private meeting after Draco found out. Also, as Harry observed, Quirrell has at least one hidden source of information:

(EDIT: On rereading, Harry brought up parselmouth first, which explains the timing. But the remaining arguments for the conclusion that Quirrell is reading Hermione and Draco's minds still apply, and still seem sufficient.)

"There were times when Harry suspected that Professor Quirrell had way more background information than he was telling, his priors were simply too good."

And besides that, simply as a prior probability, Quirrell ought to be reading every mind he's confident he can get away with reading, and Hermione and Draco are very unlikely to notice . This also suggests that when Quirrell arranged for Harry to learn occlumancy, it was a bit of misdirection; he knew he'd be able to get the same information from Harry's friends, but that having suggested it would make Harry more inclined to trust him. Finally, this means that the secret of partial transfiguration is not safe, and if Quirrell is Voldemort then it does not satisfy the conditions of the prophecy.

6wedrifid10yHarry's friends? Harry is a compulsive secret keeper! He will not even tell Hermione how to make patronuses and he keeps what he does with Malfoy and Hermione a hidden from each other (and incidentally manipulates them by keeping the key details of what he is trying to do to them to himself.)
2AdShea10yHarry may be a compulsive secret keeper, but he also uses the scarlet letter technique a bit too often and Quirrel probably realizes that.

By curiosity, what do you consider to be the community's goals?

I am currently of the opinion, however, that the karma system actually reduces the amount of replies since it allows someone to be easily and anonymously dismissed without good arguments/cause.

1) In itself, reducing the amount of replies is a feature, not a bug; I expect most readers would prefer few comments of high quality than many comments of varying quality.

2) the only instances of 'someone being dismissed without good arguments/cause" have been obvious spam and cranks. I don't think it's a fair description of the reaction to your comments, however; you've had plenty of detailed criticism.

The most direct interpretation of "it was too late" is that Harry's Patronus was down long enough for the Dementors to find them and see Bellatrix had escaped.

2EchoingHorror10yProbably. And with the Aurors coming, Harry won't have the chance to recast his Patronus before they all find him and give him a good talking-to. Prediction in rot13: Bs pbhefr, jura gurl neevir, gurer jvyy or rvtug yrffre cngebav xrrcvat gur srne bs qrngu bss Dhveeryy. Vs gur fghaavat fcryy unf jbea bss, naq gur snpg gung ur guerj njnl uvf jnaq naq ghearq vagb n fanxr zrnaf gur qrzragbef ner uvf ceboyrz, abg gur pynfu jvgu Uneel'f zntvp, V cerqvpg fbzr irel vagrerfgvat guvatf jvyy unccra. Zbfgyl rcvp cjantr. Rvtug vf rabhtu, evtug?
8pjeby10yThe fear of dementors isn't Quirrel's problem, it's that his spell and Harry's touched. He threw away his wand to stop the magical cascade, and Harry was screaming because he felt the same thing, but didn't understand it as quickly as Quirrel did.
2EchoingHorror10yDoes that also explain why he turned back into a snake? I must have missed where that and throwing away a wand can help with a magical cascade.
3NancyLebovitz10yIt will be aesthetically unsatisfying if turning into a snake helps.
4thomblake10yNote that on Quirrell's "Evil Overlord List", Rule 34 ("I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.") has been replaced by (translated from Parseltongue) "Become Animaguss. All ssensible people do, if can. Thuss, very rare." (Per chapter 49)
1Vladimir_Nesov10yOr, "I will turn into a snake. It always helps."
1pjeby10yI don't know why he turned back into a snake; others have suggested he's less susceptible to Dementor influence in that case. It is also possible that his alternate form was some kind of magic done to his snake form, and that he simply reverted to snake form on losing control of whatever was producing his fake human form. That throwing away the wand is helpful was suggested by the previous incident with the dementors and Harry's wand. Actually, it's possible that 1) he needed to throw the wand away to stop the cascade, but 2) became a snake to avoid any Dementor influence happening by way of the wand. He may also have felt that Bellatrix would be less likely to kill Voldemort's favorite snake than some random human tool/servant of his.
0Vladimir_Nesov10ySnakes are easier to carry, for example.
0wedrifid10yMore energy efficient. Less hygiene requirements.

Edit: My inference that Quirrell is overwhelmingly vulnerable to Dementors seems to be incorrect, explanation here, although he is more vulnerable than usual. The importance of keeping Patronus 2.0 up derives from it being a blind spot for Dementors, allowing prisoners to escape. Enough time without Patronus 2.0 leads to impossibility of prison break.

Ch. 54. Since Quirrell was that unusually vulnerable to Dementors, he should've made the point of how important it is to keep the Patronus 2.0 up at all times and immediately restore it in case of failure, mak... (read more)


Re. the "sentient snakes": I had a similar reaction, "What, snakes in this world are intelligent, and that has no consequences?" But centering the reaction on moral issues... well, this is a gripe/rant/sore spot with me. Particularly when the word "sentient" is involved.

"Sentient" means the ability to feel. I don't know if snakes are sentient. But I absolutely guarantee you that cows and pigs are sentient.

In moral debates, the word "sentient" is one of a class of words I call "words that don't mea... (read more)

8TobyBartels10yThis is a problem throughout science fiction, of which EY (or MoR!Harry) is probably an innocent victim. I don't know how it started, although offhand I doubt that it began in an attempt (conscious or otherwise) to justify cruelty to non-human animals. It certainly can be confusing, however.
2CronoDAS10yI think "Star Trek" may be responsible for this common word "misuse".
2TobyBartels10yThe article on Memory Alpha [http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Sentience] (which is written from the perspective that Star Trek is reality) suggests otherwise: it implies that ‘sentient’ was not used in this way in the original series, but we've seen examples already on this thread that predate The Next Generation. However, that article is still a good reference on the meanings that might be nice to point out to sci-fi fans.
4AdShea10yI think you're looking for the difference between Sentient and Sapient. The problem is that they are often conflated to make an awful mess of things.

Downvoting wrong comments may be harsh for the person being downvoted, but hopefully in the long run it can encourage better comments, or at least make it easier to find good comments.

There may be some flaws in the karma system or the way it's used by the community, but I don't see any obvious improvements, or any other systems that would obviously work better.

Look at mwaser: he complains a lot about being downvoted, but he also got a lot of feedback for what people found lacking in his post. Yes, a portion of the downvotes he gets may be due to factors un... (read more)

Whaaaa? I don't think you and I have been reading the same terrible BDSM erotica.

I think I've been reading the same terrible BDSM erotica as dclayh. It's the last three words, where it slips over into telling, and telling with histrionic exaggeration. (If this were terrible erotica, I would suspect the author of getting a little too excited at this point.)

"Irreplaceable" is dubious as well. Are we, nevertheless, going to see it replaced, and in less time than forever? Only you know that at this point, but if so, the sentence is wrong. On the other hand, if the sentence is literally true, it seems a gratuitous spoiler to reveal it, a random grabbing of a fact out of the narrative future and thrusting it in front of the reader.

1TobyBartels10y‘Something precious inside Harry withered like dry grass.’ also has the advantage of brevity. It now reads to me like a good sentence.
4NancyLebovitz10yAlso has an interesting implication, which may or not be what Eliezer wants-- individual blades of grass die, but grass regrows.

The way I understand it, MOR is meant to be an example of how a rational being might go about approaching a completely new and confusing set of observations, such as discovering that magic is real. However, I think harry has missed a lot of the low hanging fruit he could be researching. Although my suspension of disbelief shut down these thoughts pretty fast when I first started reading, I was always pretty curious about why magic was created in the first place, why only certain people could control it, and how exactly the energy needed for spells was obta... (read more)

The "low hanging fruit" which you argue Harry ought be researching... they seem to involve organ transplants and the manipulation of dead bodies with "electric transmitters in their mind which mimicked the signal sent when someone cast a test".

Are you serious? How the hell would a first-year student of Hogwarts perform these experiment? How can you call these "low hanging fruit"?

But, If you could find the physical source of magic, you could reprogram it to do whatever you wanted, and could achieve world peace or destruction in one step.

I think that many people here would disagree with you about how easy FAI is.

6Karl10yA) is very hard to test given the restriction on using magic around muggles. As for B), powerful spells are mostly restricted by the edict of Merlin. C) is, as you pointed out, extremely difficult to research effectively. I'm more surprised that Harry never bothered to ask how new charms are discovered. After all, how are you supposed to figure out that you are supposed to say "Wingardium Leviosa" and then move your wand in a certain way? And he as been told that new charms were discovered every year, so we know it's possible.
5Document10yIIRC, in canon they tend to talk about spells being "invented" rather than discovered. For a while I pictured advanced wizards somehow writing particular programs into the Source of Magic, which were then run by saying the spell name; or at least something like that.
4MartinB10yHarry makes mistakes too. He once planned out a whole series of experiments only to have the first one turn out way different that expected. I hope there is a completely usefull justified explanation for magic, but even if not it was well worth reading. Hopefully it is not something like scrapped princess.
4Document10yIn chapter 30, Harry makes himself pass out by casting Luminos 12 times rapidly. That could be a foothold for investigating the effects of casting magic on the human body; he could see if he can replicate the result consistently, then try it with different spells or combinations of spells and different rates of casting, and possibly other varied conditions.
3Vaniver10yThis is why, in canon at least, they must be cast with hatred. That's a great safety valve for getting rid of accidental murders. (I also suspect you mean descendants, not ancestors.)
8wedrifid10yI think I'd prefer the safety valve working the other way. "Let's limit it only to the people most likely to abuse it" sounds like a dubious tactic. Although come to think of it it is a rather good analogue to elements of standard morality (with respect to power and status).
1Vaniver10yI agree that a safety valve that makes sure only Good Guys (who?) kill Bad Guys (who?) would be more morally valuable. But if you're doing that you might as well program moral laws into the universe itself, so it is impossible to lie, steal, or murder. This is a technically feasible (but this is magic we're talking about) hack which makes it more difficult to mistakenly murder or torture people with magic.


Harry would be doing himself a favour to broaden his circle of friends. Hermione is an unreliable companion and even in the best of times it is terribly impractical to so limit your options. Even from a raw, practical, 'Slytherin' perspective why on earth would Harry be dreaming of claiming complete social dominance of the peer group when he hasn't even got a stable social network within it yet?

5NihilCredo10yHad he approached Padma in a friendly manner, putting himself on equal footing (instead of trying to teach and impress!), and then told her pretty much the same things he ghost-whispered, it would still have likely redeemed her, except he also would have gained a precious friend and possibly ally (and Hermione's respect). Interestingly, he would also have been following both Quirrell and Flitwick's advice in doing so. But in any case: "Self-centredness", combined with its cousin Arrogance, is the main flaw that keeps Harry from being a Mary Sue, that keeps him making enough mistakes to allow the story to be unpredictable rather than Harry Steamrolls Everyone (steamroller stories are occasionally fun, but seldom for long). The time, if any, for him to solve that flaw should normally be the final part of the story arc.

FYI: Version 1 of Ch. 50 had Harry approaching Padma directly... and having to be considerably more threatening in order to have a smaller impact on her, which is what got him in trouble with Hermione in the original version.

Version 2 won out over Version 1 because it was weirder, and therefore more awesome; and also because it got him into less trouble with Hermione - I didn't like having her be quite so clearly in the right in Version 1, i.e., so right that even Harry would notice. It had to end on a note of ambiguity from Harry's perspective.

The thing a reader suggested that I'm embarrassed not to have thought of as an option was that Harry should have gotten a teacher Padma respected to do it. But then Harry would not have thought of this over an even longer time period than I didn't. And it probably still wouldn't have worked as well as the ghost, on a purely individual level for Padma, simply because Mysterious Visitations are supposed to be Life-Changing Events and having a teacher talk to you isn't.

Had he approached Padma in a friendly manner, putting himself on equal footing (instead of trying to teach and impress!), and then told her pretty much the same things he ghost-whispered, it would still have likely redeemed her,

Personally, I disagree. When I imagine Harry approaching Padma with such a strategy, I see Padma reacting to his attempt to understand her with revulsion and self-justifying lies to minimize cognitive dissonance, thereby pushing her even further from being able to admit to herself the truth of what he says.

The ghost gambit works because, like an anonymous comment, she can't employ a cached thought like 'everything Harry says is evil and intended to manipulate me and false' and reject it out of hand, and she is rendered weak and uncertain in a way independent of Harry. Nor can she overrule her cognitive dissonance by focusing anger on Harry for manipulating her - because she has very strong evidence that it isn't Harry manipulating her.*

But perhaps I am too cynical.

* Yes, we know that Harry did it and that he obviously did it because of his invisibility cloak. But she doesn't know about the cloak, and given the enormous unlikelihood of Harry having such a cloak and a Time-turner, I don't think she is wrong to conclude it wasn't Harry.

9wedrifid10yThe may be ok advice and perhaps worth a shot. It may even work - in a fantasy story. But real people tend to have better (or, rather, stronger) social and psychological boundaries - it is actually hard to exact fundamental personal change from people just by approaching them in a friendly manner. And giving unsolicited brutally personal advice to people actually isn't a reliable way to gain friends. Not Quirrel's. Not like that. Quirrel's advice pertained to an entirely different sort of influence than what you and Flitwick suggest. With Quirrel's Slytherin-typical strategy you influence by controlling the political, reputational payoffs. Direct heart-to-hearts are completely opposed to the spirit of it. I also suggest that "self-centredness" is not the relevant flaw of Harry's here. This is actually a situation where more self-centredness would have prevented the err (such as it was). Harry has blurry boundaries on just what he is optimising for. Is he optimising for his self, is he optimising for blades of sentient grass or is he optimising for what Hermione might call "her own business"? People don't tend to like it when you act to control things that they don't perceive to be 'yours' - even if, as in this case, it is a benefit to all concerned. A self-centred Harry would have made entirely different mistakes to boundariless-Harry.

And giving unsolicited brutally personal advice to people actually isn't a reliable way to gain friends.

It is also -- outside fiction -- not a reliable way to get people to follow that advice.

Neither is offering friendly advice. Or, for that matter, advice of any sort, however delivered.

Reposted, will some spelling errors corrected. I am a professionally published award-winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author...

Protip: if you're going to make claims like that, and then spend several paragraphs bashing another author -- don't be a coward. Post proof of your identity. In fact, post proof of every claim you make. You can't* declare people 'academically suspect' without providing a citation. You can't declare people irrational without providing at least a quotation of irrational thought.

An example of irrational thought: "The peopl... (read more)

Ch. 49. The throwaway reference to Tenorman Family Chili is awesome.

2Unnamed10yAgreed, vg vf na ncg & njrfbzr pnaavonyvfz ersrerapr. Rot13 [http://www.rot13.com/index.php]'d for those who haven't seen the awesome South Park episode that it's referencing. The full episode is available to watch here [http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s05e01-scott-tenorman-must-die] if you'd like to make up for that deficiency.

The biggest downside I see to public voting would be the emergence of a pattern of reciprocity - both "you downvoted my post, so I'll downvote yours" and "you upvoted my post, so I'll upvote yours".

Any resentment is better directed at certain individuals, as you are able to inquire about their reasons, than the community as a whole, as people will rather just leave.

I don't think so -- 10 downvotes from one single individual is much harder to forget than 10 downvotes from the community in general. 100 downvotes from the community in ... (read more)

chp 55

Cognitive therapy as a pre-Patronus intervention in early stage Dementation

Slight spoilers for those who haven't read chapter 55:

My god, Harry is infuriating. Why, after realizing that Quirrell might have set him up, after deciding to doubt everything Quirrell said about the plan (and needlessly dismissing his doubts), did he assume that there really is a magical psychologist to fix Mme.Black up?

Why, after deconstructing his predicament did he then fail to apply the same rationalism to its immediate effect? Ugh. If there's one scene that convinced me that he's under the Imperius curse, it's his thinking up ways of convincing the... (read more)

8NihilCredo10yNo, I personally find it a close second to the comedy of errors (which I just plain cannot watch or read, I instinctively curl up in a fetal position or storm out of the room upon exposure - being unjustly blamed is my biggest rage button by far).

Really? I think it suggested that it was now too late for Dark Lord Harry to return to being Good Lad Harry without external intervention, a la kiss. He's in too dark a place to think Happy Thoughts.

When Harry powered up his Patronus, Quirrell was not able to get him to stop verbally. This suggests that Harry is not Imperiused.

4PeterS10yUnder a certain reading Quirrell actually did get him to stop. Where is that "WRONG. DONT." coming from? Harry's inner dialogue or Quirrell? Note that the sense of doom has been associated with Quirrell's proximity since the start of the mission, and the "man reaching out in entreaty" is Quirrell. So maybe it actually only was by Quirrell's influence that Harry was able to stop. Anyway, I think the bit about them not being able to cast spells on each other (which is true-ish in canon) is a stronger argument. But other have pointed out how unusual it is that Harry would go along with any of this unless he was either being imperiused or mind-fucked by Quirrell.
4David_Allen10yProbably, but EY is a tricky writer and can make me second guess everything. It appears that the phrase "The sudden sense of doom clashed with Harry's steel determination", tells us what happened. The Quirrell doom field brought Harry to his senses. In that context "WRONG DON'T" appears to be Harry's awakened response to what he is doing. Nothing seems to imply that Harry's will is not his own. However, the sense of doom suggests a connection between Harry and Quirrell. Based on canon this suggests Q=V, but I suppose it might also suggest that Quirrell has been Voldemort. The connection with Harry could be residual. That special connection could be the source of "WRONG DON'T". It implies that Quirrell has a subtle route to Harry's mind that does not require the Imperius curse and that gets around Harry's Occlumency. In canon Harry could sense Voldemort's mood and occasionally see through his eyes. So perhaps Quirrell is reading Harry's mind and carefully manipulating him through the scar connection. This would help to explain Quirrell's ability to make deductions from insufficient evidence. Chapter 49, Prior Information:
2Danylo10yYou have to remember the fact that the Imperius curse can be resisted in canon. There's no reason for that to not apply here.

Ch. 54: If Harry and Quirrell discussed the possibility of an Auror seeing them, Harry should have told Quirrell that AK is out of the question- no sense in killing one innocent person in the course of saving one innocent person.

And it's a pretty big miscalculation of Quirrell not to anticipate Harry's intervention at the key moment. He really should have seen by now that Harry's light side is that strong.

Unless, of course, that was the real gambit somehow.

ETA: Loved the writing, though- I was on the edge of my seat.

3dclayh10yI interpreted it that he was just too caught up in duelling-lust, and momentarily eriregrq gb uvf Qnex Ybeq crefban, forgetting how Harry would react. ETA: rot-13d some stuff which is apparently supposed to be secret again.
1wedrifid10yHuh? Spoilers for HP and HP:MoR are fair game here!
3DanArmak10yHarry didn't consciously intervene. His Patronus 2.0 sort of teleported to block Quirrel's spell. Quirrel (like Harry) may not have even been aware that could happen.
2Sniffnoy10yIt's also a pretty big miscalculation of Harry not to anticipate Quirrell using AK in such a case! But that makes sense, considering how Quirrell got him into this in the first place.

chp 51

Lesath Lestrange to Harry Potter in chp 27: "They say you can do anything, please, please my Lord, get my parents out of Azkaban, I'll be your loyal servant forever, my life will be yours and my death as well, only please -"

2gwern10ySo, you predict that Quirrel will also be trying to free Rodolphus (Bellatrix's husband), that is, Lesath's other parent? (Is Rodolphus even alive in MoR? There are now so many points of difference that I can't really track them any more. EDIT: well, he wasn't mentioned at all in the last few chapters, and Quirrel seems perfectly satisfied with escaping with just Bellatrix, so I guess Rodolphus is out of the picture.)
4Unnamed10yNo, but it suggests that Lesath might suspect Harry's involvement in the escape and have an interesting reaction. Neville and Snape were there to witness this pleading, and Harry's reaction, so they could also be suspicious. It's also possible, as others have been suggesting, that Lesath's father is not Rodolphus but Voldemort.
6pjeby10yI'm a bit disappointed that Harry hasn't noticed this, nor thought to ask what will happen when somebody has escaped Azkaban after a mysterious Dementor disappearance at Hogwarts... nor considered that Dumbledore at least should immediately suspect Harry's involvement, especially if any Dementors at Azkaban turn up missing. What's more, if the Dementors are able to speak to the guards (as stated in ch. 51), then what exactly will happen when they report Harry's human-shaped Patronus? Not considering any of these things seems out of character for Harry, his dreams of heroism notwithstanding. It seems he is making a huge mistake here, and preparing for a big change in his fortunes. I'm beginning to wonder if Quirrelmort hasn't been planning all along to present Harry as "Voldemort returned", while he comes off looking like someone trying to protect magical Britain from this terrible scourge. He's spoken on the need for a Light Mark, and Harry publicly opposed it... which will look bad in retrospect. [Edit: I guess I should've waited for ch. 53. Never mind.]
1alethiophile10yI'm uncertain of Quirrel's motivations here. It's possible that up-till-now has been Just According To Plan, and the plan is to blame Harry for attempting to break Bellatrix out of Azkaban, and hence utterly discredit him as a possible later rival. However, this seems a little much like a Xanatos Roulette; Quirrel could not necessarily have planned for the Auror he fought to be there and to react in the precise way he did, and he certainly could not have planned for Harry's Patronus v2.0 being able to block AK (and Harry wanting to do so), nor for Harry losing his Patronus afterward. Thus, it seems likely that either Quirrel was indeed planning to be caught, but in a less flamboyant way, or that he meant to carry off the breakout and was messed up himself by Harry's actions.
4gwern10yThat would be an interesting scene - 'you saved my mother; why didn't you save my father, Harry?!' Would Lesath feel bound to serve Harry just for Bellatrix's rescue? Maybe. IIRC, child psychologists find that kids bond with the mother more.
0gwern10yLatest chapter (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/63/ [http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/63/]) seems to put the kibosh on that: Obviously makes no sense if 'Father' is Voldemort; Lesath could be mistaken or deceived, but of course that's a more specific scenario and so less likely.

Okay, so you're not using morality in the sense of a deep understanding of motivations and consequences which guide a person not to do things which may eventually harm them, but in the sense of rules for people to follow when they haven't thought it through, or can't think it through. I think that sufficiently explains our difference on this.

It seems to be a plot hole in MoR (ETA: not in canon - so the zombiehood is important) that no-one who appears on screen seems to have known Quirrel before his appointment as teacher. In particular, no-one ever gets to ask, "why is Quirrel acting like a zombie, he didn't do that when I met him ten years ago". Neither does anyone say, "I know you've been wondering why Quirrel acts like a zombie; he's been like that ever since I met him ten years ago, and here's why."

No-one is holding the idiot ball. Therefore Dumbledore didn't take a com... (read more)

You can't cast that ward on Hogwarts, or a lot of students wouldn't be able to enter. Not to mention a few professors. Frankly, I don't understand how the Dursleys managed to enter their own home.

8CronoDAS10yIn canon, Quirrell had been a Hogwarts professor for several years before Harry enrolled, and other professors actually had noticed that he hadn't been himself ever since he came back from a trip. Specifically, he had suddenly become unusually meek and afraid of everything. They attributed it to something like post-traumatic stress syndrome; I don't remember the details, but they seemed to believe that he had encountered some kind of danger and had barely escaped with his life. (In Book 7, it's mentioned that Dumbledore had indeed been suspicious of Quirrell and had given Snape the task of watching him.)
5blogospheroid10yWas he a professor of something other thanDADA? Cos' I think in Canon, Dumbledore had mentioned that they never managed to have a defence professor for more than a year after Voldy's curse. I wonder what all tests must they have done on that curse. Did they try to alternate professors between two subjects? Did they try semester assignment? After all it has been atleast 12 years or so for that curse, right? Even in MOR, a string of bad events or bad professors has happened, so I assume not much has changed there.
3CronoDAS10yYes. Rowling said in an interview that he taught Muggle Studies.
1fibby7yI wonder why they haven't simply renamed the course. If it was called "Battle Magic", would V's curse still apply? What if it was something completely new, like "Sunshine Course"? What if the name was changed to, say, "Transfiguration"? Let the students have McGonagall's Transfiguration and Quirell's "Transfiguration". Students might get a little confused on their first week, but the benefit of having the actual education outweighs the cost... (and btw it's legal to have 2 professors of the same subject -- in canon HP they had Trelawny and Firenze both teaching Divination; not to mention that the headmaster is free to create new positions, like he did with The Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts).
1DanArmak10yYou're right! Fixed.
4arundelo10yI'm pretty sure Quirrell is not a zombie incanon [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogwarts_staff#Quirinus_Quirrell].
2jsalvatier10yIt may be more challenging to write a ward that covers many people rather than a single person or small number of people.
1alethiophile10yI'm pretty sure the ward on the Dursleys' house was a.) specifically targeted for Harry and b.) specific to Voldemort or those influenced by him, due to c.) it drawing on the lingering force of Harry's mother's sacrifice of her life. A similar ward on Hogwarts in general would probably be impractical. (In canon, Harry dies (or intends to die, anyway) in order to protect the greater body of Hogwarts students, and the protection of that magic extends to them, but not as strongly (Voldemort's magic, instead of just bouncing off, does not bind them fully and wears off after a short period of time, viz. Neville and the Body-Bind curse). It might have been possible to make a ward out of this, but it probably wouldn't have been as strong as the already-existing wards, due to that limitation.)

Eliezer asserted that there is no such thing as evolved adaptations that make human society work better.

Close, but not exactly correct. My interpretation of what Eliezer EMOTED is that there are no adaptations which evolved because they make human society work better. That would be group selection by Eliezer's definition. Eliezer might well accept the existence of adaptations which evolved because they make humans work better and that incidentally also make society work better.

ETA. Ok, it appears that a literal reading of what EY wrote supports yo... (read more)

Slightly OT, but it might be wise to have some sort of automatic limit on voting too often just after acquiring an account here. If LW should happen to attract the negative attention of Pharyngula, or the chan hordes, or the Conservapedia crowd, or yaoi fangirls, or tea partiers, or some other populous constituency, they could vote each other up in karma and then be pretty disruptive.

It surely is an unsympatthetic reading to conclude from: "What if some of our cognitive biases are evolved adaptations that make human society work better?" - that those adaptations did not also benefit social human individuals, and may have evolved for that purpose.

evolved adaptations that make human society work better


Speech seems like an evolved adaptation that makes human society work better.

It occurred to me that Harry is confused with Hermione's reactions (possibly Dumbledore's) not because he is a consequentialist and she is a deontologist, but rather because he hasn't yet realised that offending her is a consequence of being a consequentialist, and so he should include "deviates from deontological ethics; may offend friends and society" as one of the negative consequences for actions that otherwise seem right by consequentialism.

Considering that Quirrell is one of the most powerful and feared wizards ever to live, sheer competence is probably the simplest explanation for him being able to perform exceptional feats of magic while handicapped.

From Bahry's perspective, the possibility that the unknown criminal he's facing is secretly the most dangerous dark wizard of modern times is unlikely enough not to merit immediate consideration. From the readers' perspective, it's an established fact.

8TheOtherDave10yHuh. When you put it that way, it seems plausible. In fact... you're right, and I'm wrong. If there's a highly salient fact in play that Bahry neither knows nor can reasonably be expected to consider, which is certainly a strong possibility, then Bahry's beliefs about the situation stop being credible evidence about much of anything, and I should not be treating them that way. I'm falling into the trap of assuming that everybody else already knows what I know. I hereby repudiate my earlier speculations [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2umk?c=1] . Thank you.

If a chef downvotes your chili recipe, it could be because he doesn't like your spelling, your ingredients, or chili.

If a random person downvotes your chili recipe, it could also be because she doesn't like your spelling, your ingredients, or chili.

The first downvote is still more informative even given any particular reason for downvoting, because the chef is more likely than a random person to know how to spell "roux", cook a perfect pot of pinto beans, or have good reasons to dislike chili as a class of food (e.g. "tried seven versions, don't like any" v. "had it when I was a kid and didn't like it").

A possible alternative is to have only manually approved voters (like moderators, but more numerous), with other things staying the same.

I suspect I'm not the only one who would be instinctively averse to that. :)

I've figured out what Harry's "sense of doom" reminds me of. The old action movie Timecop with Van Damme. The antagonist there used a clever plot to help a younger version of himself succeed in the past, but they had to avoid touching because "the same matter cannot occupy the same space". In the end the protagonist forces them to touch, whereupon they both die in freaky fashion and disappear from the timeline. But it's probably just another of Eliezer's clever shout-outs, not an actual clue.

Error: Most of human history is a recounting of group selection in humans. Every time one group of people displaces another group by virtue of superior technology or social organization, that's group selection.

Having a belief in, or at least openness to, group selection, is one of my rationality tests.

In related news, this weeks Science has the clearest demonstration of group selection that I've seen: The ability to self-pollinate in plants gives individuals a great reproductive advantage; but also increases the likelihood of the entire species going exti... (read more)

3timtyler10yThat is one definition of "group selection". However, there is another definition - according to which "group selection" must refer to a different theory from "individual selection" - a theory that makes different predictions. For that you would need to show that the genetic traits that led to technological mastery benefited groups in a way that was systematically different from the way that they benefited the individuals that composed those groups.
3PhilGoetz10yI think it suffices to show that selection can operate at the level of the group. Even if all of the traits involved provide some advantage to individuals, if they also provide an advantage to the group, then group-level selection needs to be considered. It is more interesting if you can show that a trait that does not confer an advantage to an individual, has an effect on group selection. But it is an unreasonable bias to demand that group selection requires traits that do not provide any advantage to an individual, and yet at the same time not insist that the theory of individual selection requires traits that do not provide any advantage to the group.
1PhilGoetz10yI should clarify - "group selection" connotes what Tim is describing: Selection for altruistic traits in individuals, by selection at the group level. That's because, historically, group selection has been invoked only to explain things that individual selection can't. However, this has led to people excluding selection at the group level from models and simulations, because "group selection bad".

So, what's the importance of Roger Bacon's diary? Canon & conservation of detail both suggest it's something, possibly a horcrux or possibly some other tool of Quirrelmort. This Voldemort is too smart to horcrux his own diary, but this diary would be an awfully convenient trojan horse for him to have (extremely durable, treasured by Harry).

It doesn't seem to produce any sense of Doom, though, which seems to count against the horcrux hypothesis.

Could Quirrell be using it to spy on Harry, to get his curiously accurate priors? Does Harry keep the diary... (read more)

6JoshuaZ10yIn canon Harry's sense of pain when encountering Voldemort doesn't occur when encountering horcruxes. Moreover, it turns out that Harry is an accidental horcrux and he doesn't have any similar reaction to himself, or even to a time traveled version of himself that he sees. So by analogy a horcrux here may not be enough to trigger the sense of doom.
6NancyLebovitz10yCould Roger Bacon's diary have important information in it? I would be pleased if Quirrel was using the diary to affect Harry (whether by getting Harry to accept a gift or by some magic-related method), but Harry read it with more knowledge and/or attention and/or willingness to make deductions, and got some crucial addition to his abilities thereby.
0DaveX10yIf it is a "very recently" created horcrux, one thing it means is that the maker is healthy enough to make horcruxes. Taken with Ch54, killing-curse ricochets might not be as damaging as one expects.
1wedrifid10yPerhaps for similar reasons that death by basilisk glare isn't all that that damaging when reflected.

Consider how, in 51-54, Harry decides to trust Quirrell. No one ought to trust Quirrell, at all. He has some agenda, which he does not let on to. Even if he did describe his complete agenda, you'd never be able to trust that he was telling the truth, because he's so rational and self-controlled that he would be equally able to tell you something almost the truth, except for certain modifications made to make your cooperation more likely.

And few people trust Harry; and with good reason.

The more rational someone is, the less you can trust them. The less ... (read more)

The more rational someone is, the less you can trust them. The less rational someone is, the more you can trust them.

I think in this post when you say 'trust' you really mean 'predict'. A trivial counterexample: the more rational someone is, the more I can trust them to be free of errors in their reasoning. And it IS easier to predict a religious zealot staying religious, or predict that a bigot will remain bigoted, than it is to predict a rational agent attempting to maximize their utility (especially if you're an obstacle to their utility).

Is it reasonable to think that people have evolved to be less-than-optimally rational?

Well, yes, if there was some shortcut that gave the mostly-optimal answer, or gave the optimal answer most of the time, and gave it in a significantly faster time than optimal rationality. The common example is, I think, reacting to the presence of a lion. Abject, heart-pounding, run-for-your-life terror is not optimally rational (it generally precludes climbing a tree) but it gives a mostly-optimal answer in a much shorter time than attempting to reason out the optimal course of action.

5NancyLebovitz10yThis gets to one of the Hard Problems, both for FAI and a great deal of life. How can you tell who can be trusted to do a good job of taking your interests into account?
3PhilGoetz10yBut what if our irrationalities aren't quick-and-dirty heuristics optimized for speed? What known cognitive biases are even applicable to running away from a lion? What if some of our cognitive biases are evolved adaptations that make human society work better? It would be pretty surprising to me if this weren't the case!
5TheOtherDave10yJust because they are evolved, doesn't mean they are optimal. An evolved adaptation can be just as "dirty" as a fast cognitive heuristic; the architectural constraints of learning through genes can be just as constraining as those of coming up with something to do fast.
5JoshuaZ10yYes, and let me add to that, just because something was adaptive when humans evolved doesn't mean it is at all adaptive now. To use a concrete example, the weight humans put on anecdotes is likely connected to the fact that in our ancestral environment, that was the primary source of data about what the risks around us were. However, now this leads to silly things like people being terribly scared of shark attacks precisely due to the rarity of such attacks making them get a lot of news coverage.
1PhilGoetz10yI've put forward a hypothetical, not claimed a proof. What's the point of responding, "But that isn't necessarily the case"?
2TheOtherDave10yYou know, you're right. I was responding to peripheral aspects of your proposal rather than central ones, which is a waste of everyone's time. My apologies. So, OK... rolling back: if I'm understanding you, you're hypothesizing that our biases are not design flaws, but rather adaptations to obtain the group-level benefit of having individuals be more irrational and therefore predictable. (Is that right? I'm trying to infer a positive claim out of a series of questions, which is always tricky; if I've misunderstood your hypothetical it might be helpful to restate it more explicitly.) Perhaps irrationality does provide a group-level benefit, as you suggest. For example, maybe it's easier to get valuable group behaviors by manipulating irrational people than by cooperating with rational ones. That doesn't strike me as too plausible, but it's possible. Even granting that, though, I have trouble with the idea that the benefit to individual breeders exceeds the costs to the individual of being more easily manipulated by others.
2shokwave10yOkay, not evolved adaptations, but how about culturally/socially imprinted cognitive biases? Something about clicks with Nancy's comment here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2uyj?c=1] . The more I thought about it ... it seemed like rational agents couldn't trust anyone (the best course is to convince them to trust you and then betray them while never trusting anyone yourself) except in the early and middle stages of iterated games. But a society where everyone irrationally trusted everyone else, and irrationally nobody betrayed anyone else, would be more successful than the 'rational agent' community. (all things being equal; if their irrational trust also caused them to irrationally trust lions...) It might stretch the word evolution too much, but I think the term "competitive selection" applies to this process of societies competing with each other for growth and the most effective societies wiping out the less effective societies (wiping out or completely integrating, as the lesser society's land and resources would already be purposed towards supporting a society, and therefore more desirable than land requiring work). Basically, what if 'trust' is because a society where everyone trusts the other guy to cooperate in a PD was successful enough to dominate the landscape? NB: Originally I had thought of trust as a sort of greenbearding. Is there an analogous concept in sociocultural evolution?
3Perplexed10yA population or society in which everyone trusts completely is not an ESS [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionarily_stable_strategy]. A population or society in which everyone adopts the slogan "trust, but verify" and cooperates in the punishment of defectors and non-punishing freeriders probably is an ESS, assuming the cost of verification and punishment are low and verification is reasonably effective.
2NancyLebovitz10yIn the real world, the iteration never completely ends.
1thomblake10yYour second quote is ill-formatted.
1wedrifid10yThis is not always the case. In fact, in practice I trust rational people far more than those that are irrational. If I know what a rational person's goals are, know the respective payoffs for each of the various available options then I can reliably predict what the rational person will do. Irrational people can not always be counted on to do what is in their own best interest - this makes them less predictable than they would be if they were rational unless they are an adversary trying specifically to foil your intelligence.

The sentence would be greatly improved by deleting its last three words.

Seems to indicate that Quirrell casted some kind of spell on Harry at that point in Chapter 51.

That's the telekinesis that allowed Harry to activate the time-turner. If Harry's hypothesis about the sense of doom being magical disharmony is correct, then the creepiness would just be from getting close to one of Quirrell's spells. And the subterfuge with the wand direction isn't intended to fool Harry (who knew that Quirrell planned to cast telekinesis), but rather is Quirrell's distrust of the privacy wards.

EDIT: Spoilers even if you have read all chapters (particularly spoilery to those who have not read the original books). Following post is in rot13. Collapse thread from this comment if you want to avoid said spoilers, as some repliers commented in rot26 before it was established this information qualified as spoilage.


Gurer unf orra fbzr pbaprea nobhg ubj vg qbrfa'g frrz gb or pbzzba xabjyrqtr gung Dhveery vf orvat cbffrffrq ol Ibyqrzbeg va guvf fgbel (pbeerpg zr vs V'z jebat, ohg V xabj gung nppbeqvat gb gur nhgube'f abgr nepuvir ba uggc://jjj.obk.arg/fu... (read more)

7JStewart10yI have not read the original Harry Potter series. I first learned that Quirrell was Voldemort when, after finishing the 49 chapters of MoR out at that point, I followed a link from LW to the collected author's notes and read those. I think that for those who have not read the source material (though there may not be many of us), it is basically impossible to intuit that Quirrell is Voldemort from the body of the fanfic so far. That said, I don't feel like I missed out in any way and don't see why it necessarily needs to be any more explicit until the inevitable big reveal. Edit: I just remembered that, as you can see, my prior comment [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2rv6?c=1] on this post was written after I read chapter 49 but before I learned that Quirrell == Voldemort.
4Vladimir_Nesov10yEliezer planted lots of clues about many facts that are never explicitly revealed, in such a way that noticing correct hypotheses is sufficient to confirm them upon observing enough of those little clues. Now, for some facts, it could be difficult to even locate them, but Quirrell=Voldemort seems to be a good hypothesis to entertain, even if it's not apparently confirmed from any single passage, and it does get lots of evidence if you know to look for it.
3JoshuaZ10yHow much of that is hindsight bias? Clues that show a specific hypothesis if you've located the hypothesis aren't necessarily that helpful. For me at least, even knowing the that Q=V, and seeing the clues, they don't intrinsically point to that. Most of them can be explained simply by the idea that Quirrell is subtle, evil, and likes corrupting people. The biggest clue is the material about the Horcrux and if one hasn't read the books that likely goes completely out the window. (In fact, if I were Eliezer, I'd have Harry find out about Horcruxes pretty soon to help the less knowledgable readers.)
4Sniffnoy10yWait, were Horcruxes mentioned explicitly in the text anywhere so far? The one Horcrux we know about is only explicitly stated to be such in the author's notes; at any rate, I didn't figure out it was a Horcrux without reading them. I concluded Q=V early on based on: 1. Quirrell seems to flip between two wildly different personalities 2. In canon, his body is housing Voldemort ...which I found to be enough to conclude that he is being intermittently possessed by Voldemort. (OK actually I'm simplifying a little but I don't think the other details are relevant.)

The only result for CTRL-F "horcrux" is in a private conversation between Dumbledore and McGonagall, and it doesn't say what it is except that it belongs to Voldemort. Dumbledore does later tell Harry that Voldy achieved immortality through some scary rituals, but says nothing about the method other than that it involves a murder, so a canon-ignorant reader wouldn't be able to make a confident connection. "Horcrux" could very well be Voldermort's super-weapon, or a fancy term for "hideout".

As for clues to Q=V that don't rely on canon knowledge, the two biggest ones that come to mind are the sense of "doom" that Harry repeatedly perceives when coming physically near Quirrell (when something magical happens to Harry that is unusual or impossible even in the wizarding world, it's safe to assume that it's a consequence of his unique battle with Voldemort), and especially the tale he tells about Voldemort and the monastery, which despite his cover story of a deliberate "survivor" should make anyone raise an eyebrow.

On the other side, however, there is the fact that, in a marginally subtler way, Quirrell is NOT Voldemort. Everything we ar... (read more)

9orthonormal10yEliezer has previously written that a supervillain (meant to be defeated) might do more for world unity than just about anything else. (If the words "I did it thirty-five minutes ago" mean anything to you, you get the idea.) It's plausible that MoR Voldemort was a facade put up by Quirrell as part of a strategy to bring the wizarding world together and face the very real threat of Muggleborne nuclear war– and both his speech to Hogwarts and his private discussion with Harry make this more plausible. However, it looks like the Boy-Who-Lived ruined his original plan somehow [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DidntSeeThatComing], and he's trying Plan B now by mentoring Harry.
6Thausler10yIf Voldemort's plan was to cause Britain to unite under a Mark of Britain killing Yermy Wibble and his family was a funny way to accomplish it. Voldemort may have been operating under the same false assumption that Wibble was (that Wibble's martyrdom would legitimize his ideas), but a villain that clever could have at least done some better PR work on Wibble during the seventies.
3hairyfigment10yNote, too, that if V knew he could 'die' and then possess someone, and if he also believed his followers could only lose to a dictator who united magical Britain against them, then he likely figured it didn't matter if they won or not.
3hairyfigment10yExcept we also have Dumbledore describing V as clever like Harry, or words to that effect. The two monastery stories seem consistent with this: first of all, canon!Voldemort would never have sought out a Muggle teacher at all. Second, the two stories together suggest that MoR!Voldemort got what he wanted and then returned without his disguise to get revenge, like he said Harry would do if Harry became like him. Also, what orthonormal said. Edited to add: and come on, we know MoR!V killed Narcissa Malfoy. Draco told us himself to look at the result and ask who benefits. The plan surely broke an evil overlord rule or three, at least in spirit, but if V couldn't get Lucius on his side he probably needed to kill the default leader of the pureblood faction anyway. And V, as a skilled Legilimens, could probably count on Lucius responding irrationally to his wife's death one way or another.
3komponisto10yThe Law of Conservation of Detail [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheLawOfConservationOfDetail] (TV Tropes warning) implies that an important character who is subtle and evil (or even just subtle) has a substantial probability of being the villain. I hadn't read the original series either, and so at first I had no idea that Q=V except from the Author's Notes; however, I suspect that by this point in the story I would have begun entertaining it seriously as a hypothesis. (And of course as long as the story is still being written, there's always some chance Eliezer could change his mind.)
6ata10yBut there are a lot of subtle characters in HPMOR; Quirrell might be the most subtle and the most apparently evil, but he's not the only one. That would imply that Harry, Dumbledore, and Lucius also have substantial probabilities of being the villain. Edit: Then again... maybe that's correct. On the other hand, I think we've been told to expect most characters to be substantially smarter than their canon equivalents, and maybe this kind of subtle schemingness just comes automatically when you have a bunch of smart wizards who don't trust each other and have potentially conflicting goals that they all take seriously as things-to-protect.
2NancyLebovitz10yI wouldn't mind one little bit if the story is structured like Lensmen, with several layers of villains that have to be discovered. Admittedly, this is less likely in the wizarding world-- the population is much lower than in a universe with multiple inhabited galaxies. On the gripping hand, it would be really cool if Quirrel/Voldemort were a claw on a finger of a conspiracy of evil alien wizards. Presumably, Cthulhu is part of the middle layer.
1LucasSloan10yHowever, while that gives evidence that Quirrel is the villain, it doesn't necessarily follow that the villain (the one that is Quirrel) must be Voldemort.
1jimrandomh10yWhy does Quirrelmort even have to be a villain? Sure, he was terribly evil in canon, and in the back story, but he's obviously been through some sort of magical transformative process, and that he may have made him redeemable. Killing Rita Skeeter is a pretty substantial mark against him, but we have very little idea what his real goals are.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky10yI came to realize in time that what I thought was a bug was a feature, however frustrating that may be for me, so please rot13 that comment with the warning "spoilers even if you've read all chapters".

...OK, I have little experience with the game Taboo, but people claim to have found 5 major instincts that together provide "mechanisms" for nearly all societal codes. I care more about the first two then the others.

Before, I linked to evidence that dogs care about Fairness in a way that seems to clearly increase their chance of surviving to reproduce in the wild. (Though I admit they'd likely never have to face the Pirate Game as such.) This study purports to show Empathy and its backward cousin Group Loyalty in mice.

Your examples seem to work b... (read more)

The website hosting MoR now has a popup with audio when you go to it, so it is now NSFW.

Hmmm. Now I'm wondering whether obliviation could be exploited to enhance the experience of early (but not technically first) sexual encounters. If one maintained the changes to confidence and presumably sexually relevant skills but also maintained the excitement, anticipation and perception of novelty of the first time...

3TobyBartels10yDidn't Madonna have a song about this?
2Document10ySort of implemented in John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos:

Would Harry's patronus block any killing curse, or only one thrown by Quirrell?

[-][anonymous]10y 4

With Chapters 55-56, I have some theories regarding Quirrell's true plan. He is Voldemort (or rather contains a piece of Voldemort) but we know he doesn't want Harry dead; he's had ample opportunity to simply murder Harry if that was the goal. I think rescuing Bellatrix is a distraction as well, really nothing more than a cover story or "fortunate side effect" of achieving the true goal. If rescuing Bellatrix was the true goal, he wouldn't have jeopardized the mission by attempting to murder the auror.

I think Quirrell's ultimate goal is the Demen... (read more)

4David_Allen10yTo counter this, it was Harry's actions that lead to the fight with the auror. Up to the point that Harry almost lost control of his patronus Quirrell had been acting to shield Harry's hearing, perhaps fearing that exact response. I don't think there is any evidence that the fight was inevitable.
2[anonymous]10yI agree that it's unreasonable to expect that Quirrell could have anticipated the entire chain of events that led to the duel with Bahry. However, it's not at all unreasonable to expect that a duel with one or more aurors would occur at some point during the course of breaking in and out of Azkaban, and in fact we know that Quirrell planned for this contingency, because he gave Harry standing orders for what to do if/when it happened. So, while that fight was not inevitable, a fight was always likely.
1NihilCredo10yDoesn't work. It was Quirrell (and only Quirrell) who spotted Harry's wand next to the Dementor's cage and alerted Flitwick so he could remove it. If he had wanted Harry Demented he would have kept his mouth shut.
1[anonymous]10yI think he did that because he didn't want Hermione going in front of the Dementor again -- she was getting too much information from it -- and also because he figured (rightly) that Harry had already received enough exposure for his purposes.
1Oscar_Cunningham10yBut it was more likely that Harry would get picked up be Aurors than Dementors (now it doesn't look that way, but Quirrell couldn't have predicted Harry's actions), and Quirrell wouldn't risk his own arrest.
3[anonymous]10yYes, my theory definitely depends on believing that Quirrell COULD predict Harry's actions when he cast the killing curse on the auror. You also have to be willing to believe that Quirrell knew Harry would figure out a way to observe the battle, even though he was ostensibly lying out of sight. I think the first is more of a stretch than the second. Anyone who knows Harry at all could predict that he would try to find a way to spy on the battle: using the Patronus to block the Killing Curse is a much more specific action that only somebody who understands Harry really well would be able to predict. I guess I'm willing to believe that Quirrell does understand Harry that well.
4wedrifid10yHarry really isn't that hard to predict... If he had a few moments spare I can even imagine him giving an impassioned speech on the subject before he used the patronus.
1David_Allen10yCould Quirrell have guessed that Harry's patronus would block a killing curse? That seems like a stretch.

I agree it's a bit harsh, and not always useful. It's a bit of a pity that the karma system doesn't allow to make a difference between "5 people found this post not-that-great" and "5 people found this post absolutely terrible".

Maybe it would be nice to have a system that would allow for more nuance, but it would also have to be easy enough to understand and use, and not be easy to game.

Also, I would say that the downvotes did have some utility, by expressing "you should pay more attention to criticism, most people here disagree with you".

2wedrifid10yFor example, make 'terrible' votes cost karma.
5XiXiDu10yWhat about the ability to mark a comment as obsolete if you changed your mind? It will then be under the fold but people won't be able to downvote it anymore. Or should people who changed their mind be punished infinitely? I noticed that I often delete comments that get downvoted if I changed my mind, e.g. understood where I was wrong, because they keep getting downvoted long after the discussion ended. By deleting it I destroy the context and consistency of the discussion. But I also do not want to be downvoted anymore for something I don't believe and I want to signal that I changed my mind.
4RichardKennaway10yIf you change your mind, just edit the comment to say so.
3Vladimir_Nesov10yPreferably by adding that statement, without changing the original comment, so that existing discussion doesn't break.
1wedrifid10yPeople here tend to reward humility vigorously. (Humility including the strong non-submissive kind that doesn't base the ego on attachment to being right, not just signals of lower status.) As Richard suggests editing your comment, leaving the original while adding a retraction is a good idea (and somewhat of a convention). You can make it bold by using two asterices on both sides. It is also worth adding a reply later on in the discussion explaining your new position and why you changed it. Unless I confuse you with someone else (quite possible) I think I recall you once before changing your mind and acknowleding it publicly. By reading that I gained a lot of respect for your judgement (or that of whoever else it was if I mistake your identity).
3Emile10yNot a bad idea; having all votes public may also be an improvement. Still, I suspect that whatever the system, there would be someone to argue that it sucks, which isnt't an excuse to not improve it, but a reason to be cautious.
9Vladimir_Nesov10yThe purpose of implementing voting, as opposed to (for example) soliciting critical/praising comments, is to get more information about people's attitude towards individual comments, by lifting reasons not to signal (and thus lock the community focus better, protecting it from watering down). Commenting would be less frequent because (1) it's more difficult to comment; (2) if you have little to say, or what you'd say has already been said, you don't want to create more noise. Requiring that votes are made public will discourage some of the voters from signaling their attitude, or otherwise distort the signal for image purposes. I'm not even sure whether voluntary public voting is a good idea, because of the image-driven distortion effect, but since it's presumably no worse than with commenting, it might not be that bad.
5wedrifid10yI will oppose that option for as long as I have breath. If it is implemented then I recommend to all participants that they find a way to game that system so as to minimize the damage. (I'll not repeat the reasons here but I have mentioned them previously.)
2XiXiDu10yI haven't read the above thread. But here's an idea I had about the Karma system: If you want to downvote someone you're asked to provide a reply explaining why you downvoted the comment. If you downvote 5 times without explaining yourself you'll lose 1 Karma point. It always really bothers me if I get downvoted without getting feedback because without feedback I'm unable to improve, refine my writing skills or rationality. What's the point then? Merely losing Karma score will led people to conclude (unjustified) that they are downvoted for various reasons but not that they may be wrong or that their comment simply does not add anything valuable to the debate. Negative Karma without feedback causes resentment in all people except those who already acquired enough rationality skills and realization to infer that there might be something wrong with their comment and not with the person downvoting it. The Karma system as it is will therefore discourage newcomers and make them conclude that LW is merely an echo-chamber and does not tolerate their precious critique.

It always really bothers me if I get downvoted without getting feedback. ... The Karma system as it is will therefore discourage newcomers and make them conclude that LW is merely an echo-chamber and does not tolerate their precious critique.

I felt the same way when I first started posting here. Particularly when I was challenging the local conventional wisdom. But now I realize that anonymous unexplained downvotes are a form of feedback, and a particularly valuable form of feedback to someone prepared to take advantage of it.

Because feedback in the form of comments simply provokes an automatic verbal response from you. You learn nothing from the experience. You just get some practice at constructing rationalizations. But feedback in the form of anonymous downvotes forces you to stop and reflect: Just what does this mean? What do I need to change so as to prevent this? What experiments should I undertake?"


Negative Karma without feedback causes resentment in all people except those who already acquired enough rationality skills and realization to infer that there might be something wrong with their comment and not with the person downvoting it. The Karma system as it is will therefore discourage newcomers ...

A good point. So for LW regulars, it may be worth remembering that it is more informative to upvote explicit criticism of newbie mistakes than to downvote the mistakes themselves.

4wedrifid10yA good suggestion. I expect whether I follow it or not will depend on how arrogant the newbie is. Unless, of course the explicit criticism is 'you are being arrogant and annoying. We are more fussy about that sort of thing here than in many other places on the internet'. Then I suppose the same principle would apply. :)
3wedrifid10yI personally believe I am usually better off not knowing who downvoted me. Quite often (although not always) when people downvote my comments I hold their judgement in contempt. This includes those comments that receive initial downvotes but rebound to become significantly positive once the better (and less impassioned) judgement of the broader community sets in. If the comments justifying their downvote disgust me then I just end up losing respect for the individual. Since it isn't all that much of a benefit to me to know who has objectionable judgement in such matters and it is far more pleasant to converse with people I respect I prefer to not know. (Oh, and if I had to comment every time I downvoted things would get downright spammy!) This is a very good point. I upvoted your comment for this point even though I don't believe your suggestion would work well as a general practice. I agree that there are times when explanations are beneficial and in the case of new users this is definitely something to remember.
2wedrifid10yExample - while I was writing this my previous comment [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2vuw?c=1] went to -1. This is not a big deal at all and nor is it particularly surprising. But all the same I am glad I don't know who the culprit was ('culprit' framing intended to convey perspective) and have no difficulty at all in inferring either what their actual motivations likely are or what reasons they would actually express. The mere fact of a downvote is of some use to me in as much as it informs me that it is a topic on which it will be beneficial to me to replace personal sincerity with political optimisation. ie. Use the kind of language that makes critics look bad for criticizing (instead of casually leaving a wide open target). Present whatever statements are most likely to achieve a desired outcome rather than just saying what I believe. I don't think anyone would benefit if someone went and justified their voting decision and I would be surprised if I found it much more informative than the integer representation. EDIT: While I was writing this comment the '-1' in question changed to '+2'. That did surprise me!

In book 7, Voldemort visits Grindelwald at Nurmengard in order to interrogate him about the location of the Elder Wand, and then kills him. So Grindelwald was definitely alive in book 1.

A few thoughts, just to go on record with them. As always, apologies if I'm repeating well-covered ground; I have not read all the comments on this thread, nor am I likely to. I would appreciate pointers to comments I ought to read, though.

Polyjuice, Bahry would have called it, if he'd thought that anyone could possibly do magic that delicate from inside someone else's body

OTOH, the same person is described in ch52 as

the... man Professor Quirrell had Polyjuiced into.

It's unclear whose voice that is in, but the same sentence describes the voice as ... (read more)

8jimrandomh10yThe fact that Quirrel sometimes reverts to zombie mode suggests that Voldemort is teleoperating that body. Perhaps he has more than one body for that purpose, and simply used a different body for the breakin, rather than polyjuicing the first one. It would be odd that both bodies could assume snake-form, but I see no reason in principle why that magic wouldn't be transferrable. If that's what happened, then the Quirrel body might still be alive somewhere. Voldemort might be alive (in which case he would return to Quirrel's body, and pin the blame on Harry), or temporarily dead, in which case Quirrel's vacant body might turn up somewhere.
4Unnamed10yThis is plausible, and fits with my speculation that Quirrell's been Dementor-kissed [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2s7f?c=1] . On the other hand, Harry still feels a sense of doom when Quirrell is in zombie mode, which suggests that Voldemort isn't completely gone then.
3TheOtherDave10yRe: Voldemort teleoperating Quirrell... if there's a quick summary somewhere of why this is a plausible explanation for Q's occasional zombie mode, I'd love a pointer. Re: remote-snakeform... if that's what's going on, it would be better writing to introduce the possibility of remote animagusing somewhere along the line. Lacking any such introduction (or have I just missed it?) it seems a far simpler explanation that Harry's current companion and Harry's DODA instructor share a body, and that body is a snake animagus. (cf hooves, horses, zebras)
5thomblake10yYeah, I think the naive reading is that the narration is from Harry's POV, and Quirrell Polyjuiced into the man (as planned), and Quirrell is such a badass that he can do whatever magic he wants while polyjuiced, which is unusual enough for Bahry not to expect it. And Quirrell claiming there's no plausible reason to think he's possessed by Voldemort is just him thumbing his nose at the reader (aside from the usual misdirection).

No, it's the last seconds ticking away for a successful escape attempt- if Harry had put up his Patronus, there might have been time for Quirrell to recover, use a Memory Charm on the Auror, and abscond with BB without raising the alarm.

2Vladimir_Nesov10yI now see that as more plausible than originally (having learned that my interpretation is not obvious to others), but remain uncertain and favoring the hypothesis of Quirrell having died. We'll see what was actually intended.

Re: 54:

Harry can still salvage the situation somewhat, if I understand the ending. They're going to know Bella escaped, but Harry can still put Quirrel in his pouch (since he's in snake form) and hide with Bella under the invisibility cloak, right? Or can Aurors see through the cloak in HP:MOR? I think in canon nobody can penetrate the Cloak's invisibility.

4PeterS10yMoody's eye can see through the Invisibility Cloak.

One of the systematic changes in MoR is that things which are sufficiently powerful are artifacts, and things which are artifacts are sufficiently powerful: The Marauder's Map was originally devised by Slytherin as part of the creation of Hogwarts and only slightly twisted by the Marauders (Ch. 25), and the Cloak of Invisibility is now in a class of its own compared to standard invisibility cloaks or Disillusionment (Ch. 54).

Rowling, of course, wrote that thing with Moody's eye before she decided the Cloak of Invisibility was a major artifact. So if Moody's eye can still see through it in MoR, it's going to be because either Moody's eye is also a major artifact, or, more likely, a specialized artifact devoted to seeing through invisibility (a specialized, specific artifact can defeat a generally more powerful artifact if the specialization is narrow enough).

9PeterS10yWow... I had imagined that Moody lost his eye in a fight or something -- but it would be way more awesome if he cut it out intentionally, to replace it with an eye more suited for the hunt.
4[anonymous]10yThe idea of Moody as a voluntarily enhanced magical cyborg is awesome indeed. In fact, the entire notion of human enhancement using magic would be an interesting theme to explore. It's already been done to some degree with the idea of defeating death and Harry making a mental note to research mind-altering spells in chapter 12 (intelligence explosion [http://lesswrong.com/lw/14h/the_hero_with_a_thousand_chances/zza?c=1&context=1#comments] ?), but things like Moody's eye and Wormtail's hand (which was strong enough to crush stones) show that there are also ways for Wizards to improve their abilities by replacing body parts with magical counterparts. Seeing what the wizarding world and/or Harry think of such ideas would be pretty interesting.
1gwern10yAnd very Odin [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odin]-esque.
5TobyBartels10yAs you already know, this is already true in canon; it's just that, as you say, it took Rowling a while to decide this. I do like that you gave the Map such a great pedigree; it really was too powerful for a few students to make on their own.
3pjeby10yThey can't touch each other, so no. Quirrel also obviously knows this, because his pre-mission prep was carefully designed to avoid them touching each other or casting any spells on each other, vs. easier ways to accomplish the same tasks.
2DaveX10yAuror Bahry threatened some "area effect curses" and "anti-disillusionment" charms, so they seem to have some effective methods if they suspect invisible adversaries.
1JoshuaZ10yIn canon there are ways to penetrate it. Mad-Eye Moody's magic eye can see through it.

Chapters 51-54: bravo! Some of the best writing so far. My new favorite line from the fic: "it was a down payment on everything that Harry meant to accomplish with his life". I immediately had to rewatch the training montage from the 2008 film "Wanted" that starts at about 46:00 to get more of the same emotion.

Er, I thought Harry was one of Voldemort's horcruxes in canon, or something very much like one.

2knb10yWhoops, you're right about that. Though, according to wiki Harry isn't technically a Horcrux: So you can hold a part of a guy's soul and not be a horcrux?! This is why HPMOR is better than canon.
1ArisKatsaris10yIt's better than canon... because you disagree on what the definition of a made-up word should be? I'm guessing that if Harry had been a proper "dark object', he'd never have been vulnerable to ordinary injury, same as the other Horcruxes weren't vulnerable to ordinary injury.

To what extent can magic be used to make food that doesn't require killing?

3TobyBartels10yThis is one of the few cases where canon is very clear about how magic works: Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration [http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Gamp%27s_Law_of_Elemental_Transfiguration].
4NancyLebovitz10ySo it looks as though food can be created without additional killing, and if Harry is willing to eat duplicates of preserved food (I can't see any reason why not), then the proportion of killing to the amount of food can be driven very low.
2wedrifid10yParticularly given that magical healing would allows the collection of initial 'food prototypes' with no long term damage! (Although it would probably rule out things like hearts.)
3jimrandomh10yChapter 6 mentions a "bottle of food and water pills", which seems to have been forgotten about.
8[anonymous]10yThis is not necessarily food created by magic, though: maybe someone took ordinary food and magicked it into a pill.

How do we know that one needs to eliminate another soul in order to do horcrux-like magic?

I think that was a reference to canon - creating a horcrux requires murder (Confirmed in MoR by Dumbledore in chapter 28)

[-][anonymous]10y 3

He gave Harry instructions for what to do in the event that they encountered an auror, so clearly he'd at least anticipated the possibility that a duel would happen at some point during the prison break. We're also told that Harry's maneuver with the mirror is something he'd "practiced...in the Chaos Legion," so Quirrell should also have anticipated that Harry would be watching the duel if/when it happened. At the very least, he knows that Harry will be able to hear it.

So. The duel was not outside Quirrell's plan. Therefore his actions during the... (read more)

9Vladimir_Nesov10yA Bayesian villain plots under uncertainty, and shouldn't be judged with Hindsight bias.

I agree that we can't reasonably assume that the Patronus teleport, magical feedback and subsequent Dementor exposure had been part of Quirrell's plan.

However, the much more limited and much more certain prediction that AK'ing a guard Auror while in Harry's earshot would cause a mess and make the stated "perfect crime" plan impossible is easily within Quirrell's ability to figure out beforehand, even on the spot.

Therefore, his casting of AK - if not the very unusual result - is sufficient evidence that the "perfect crime" plan was at least to some degree horsecrap. Not that he must have wanted Harry to get caught, but, unless he had a doppelganger of Bahry in his pocket to replace him with, he certainly wasn't as interested in a clean breakout as he had claimed.

3Vladimir_Nesov10yI agree. The exact disastrous consequences of Harry's reaction were most likely not part of the plan, and can't be seen as a serious flaw or rationalized-in-hindsight as having been part of the plan all along.
3[anonymous]10yBut there's nothing in the situation that would have come as a surprise to Quirrell. If his goals were the ones he stated to Harry, then Quirrell is indeed left holding the Idiot Ball. EDIT: By "nothing in the situation that would have come as a surprise," I mean the fact that there's a duel with an auror in Azkaban, and that Harry is present and observing. In that situation casting a Killing Curse is idiotic, if the goal is simply to keep moving with minimum fuss. Quirrell would have known that perfectly well when he was making his plan.
3NihilCredo10yHe could have confidently foreseen that the AK would have ruined the "perfect crime" and pissed Harry off. He could not have confidently foreseen that Harry's Patronus would teleport in the way, block the Killing Curse, cause a magical backlash, and disappear.
1[anonymous]10yI realized after I wrote that line about "nothing in the situation that would have come as a surprise" that it could be read that way, and I edited to clarify. My speculation is that Quirrell might have reason to assume that any intervention by Harry would cause the magical backlash, but that really is just speculation, I freely admit.
2PeterS10yAt the risk of building this theory on top of another unconfirmed theory... It's been speculated that Quirrell himself is Demented. He doesn't appear so when Voldemort is telepathically controlling him, but when Voldy takes a cigarette break or whatever Quirrell enters zombie mode. Quirrell is just kind of an empty body, zombie-like unless Voldemort is logged in. Maybe Voldemort wants to control Harry's body in a similar fashion. What the difference is between dementing and then telepathically inhabiting, versus simply using the Imperius Curse... /shrug.
2MartinB10yRemoving happiness makes for better evil.
7[anonymous]10yAlternatively, Voldemort has tried killing Harry, it didn't work, so he wants to eliminate Harry as a potential obstacle through other means. If Harry's soul is sucked out (or whatever the Dementor's Kiss does, actually) then he is still alive technically but not an obstacle. It's worth a shot as an alternative approach to just trying to kill Harry over and over, which is what canon Voldemort tries to do. Also, and this can't possibly be Quirrell's reasoning, but it's still an interesting thought: the MOR version of The Prophecy says that "either must destroy all but a remnant of the other". If Harry is subjected to irreversible Dementation, all but a remnant of him is destroyed.

I appreciate the effort you are putting into this, but I fear the terminological and theoretical confusion regarding group selection run far too deep. One enthusiastic person is not going to straighten things out in a forum where evolutionary biology is not the central focus. And now that academian has weighed in, the cause is hopeless. ;)

I agree with you (and Tim) that Eliezer's opposition to group selection was a bit naive and under-informed. But not completely wrong-headed. Many incorrect arguments in favor of group selection have been made over th... (read more)

Chap 65:

Harry's treatment of the different (agents?) in his head make me wonder about the MOR Horcrux mechanics and the possibility of making copies of a being. If the horcrux copying process is repetatively damaging, like analog copies of a wax cyinder recording, there would be a degradation in each stage, and the last horcrux, Harry would be the poorest copy. Or if each horcux was same-quality, there might have been only something like limitations on the first analog-digital conversion, and successive generations of copies might be exact, like digita... (read more)

8TobyBartels10yMost of them do, for reasons that should be obvious.
1DaveX10yCopying mind state differs from sexual or asexual reproduction. I was wondering how the MOR soul-splitting, copying, backup, imprinting, and possession mechanism works and how it might be exploited. Could, for instance, Harry split his soul into its separate agents without the act of murder? Or is the important part of the Horcrux magic stealing someone's soul to use as media to make a copy your own soul? How close are Harry's suppositions in Ch20 to the MOR-reality?
3wedrifid10yEvidence for a 'soul' and the need to eliminate another in order to do horcrux like magic gives some credence to theories that MoR is in a simulated world. You need to wipe out an existing virtual machine in order to put an extra instance of yours there, splitting your own may require dividing your 'soul/computational resources' between multiple instances, etc.

This is something of a quibble, but you really shouldn't think of species-level selection as a kind of group selection. In both group and individual selection, it is the species that evolves. But in species-level selection, the species does not evolve. It is selected - it either lives or dies.

Sorry, but I think this is completely wrong. Species-level selection isn't "like" group selection. It is group selection. In group selection, groups are selected for or against. That is the mechanism for group selection. That is the mechanism for gr... (read more)

"Acausal" and "(T/U)DT" aren't magic words that, upon invoking them, suddenly make it rational to act like a good Samaritan and against your own goals and interests.

Who, Grindelwald? He's alive up to Deathly Hallows, where Voldemort breaks into Nuremberg, I mean, Nurmengard, and kills Grindelwald for control of the Master Wand.

I read it as too late for Harry to save himself. And before that, Voldy was already gone, prior to Bahry's reflexive stunner spell.

Harry's weird, and I'm not going to make a definitive statement about what he can notice. Him noticing that he's under an Imperius curse would probably be worth a chapter, and I have a feeling the time turner might be involved somehow.

General question: could the be such a thing as a slow Imperius, so that the effect looks to everyone like a natural change of mind?

Another general question: Is there a way to check people for any spells that might be affecting them?

7gwern10ySure, why not? It's magic. A slow Imperius is no weirder than many other already used spells. What does canon think? Well... I believe our only real POV from an Imperius'd person is when 'Madeye Moody' casts Imperius on Harry during a Defense class, and IIRC Harry's mind is instantly & profoundly messed up even before Moody issues any commands; likewise, the imprisoned Barty Crouch is well aware that he is being controlled. Similarly for the Gringotts Goblin in Deathly Hallows. The chapter title, IMO, points to clever social engineering, not magic.

Would he even notice if he were under an Imperius?

In canon, Imperius causes a sense of calm happiness. We'd notice it whenever the narration took his PoV, even if Harry didn't.

I read that quote as saying that snake Animagi were more common than Parselmouths, because snake Animagus could be learned, but Parseltongue has to be transmitted directly or indirectly through Slytherin's line (directly, by genetics a la V, or indirectly, by bit-of-soul transfer a la HP. Though Rowling never says whether Harry lost his Parseltongue after the bit of V's soul in his died in DH.)

2PeterS10y/shrug if so then there goes that theory. I had thought Parseltongue was just rare. Didn't realize you needed to be one of Slytherin's heirs (or get in through a loophole like HP).

New chapter.

In the lack of Comed-Tea, I suggest taking a sip of something before the final line.

Regarding the fact that, at the start of the scene, Quirrell skips one of the thirty security Charms, the most straightforward explanation is that it was just the one preventing time-travel within the room, but could there have been a more devious purpose?

4Sniffnoy10yWhat seems strange to me is going to such a convoluted setup just to speak privately, when they already have a way of doing so. Either Quirrell doesn't actually trust the privacy of Mary's Room, or he's up to something. The latter seems more likely.
2Unnamed10yMaybe they're headed straight to Azkaban and they need Mary's Room as their alibi.
4Vladimir_Nesov10yMaybe not "need", but could use as a precaution. Getting located as hypothetical culprits is too close to failure for expected outcome. On the other hand, what alibi given timeturners?
3Unnamed10yHarry is bound to be a potential culprit in Dumbledore's mind, since he knows about the Patronus 2.0 and invisibility cloak. Although any alibi that places Harry with Quirrell is liable to increase Dumbledore's suspicions instead of reducing them, no matter how airtight it seems.
2ata10yThis would provide an opportunity to have Harry explain conservation of expected evidence [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ii/conservation_of_expected_evidence/] to Dumbledore, which is very slight evidence that it's going to happen (and would make a fun scene, in any case).
3Perplexed10yI would guess that he omitted the one preventing anyone from apparating into the room. They have to get back in somehow in a few hours.
7topynate10yI think that's almost it. My bet is that the invisibility cloak detector is the missing charm. Harry and Quirrell are already in the room when they arrive for the first time, and as soon as they see themselves leave via Time-Turner, they take the cloak off and finish their meal before leaving. But yeah, they have to be in the room at the same time that a bunch of charms are on it, so they can't seal it off completely.
3Perplexed10yI'm pretty sure you (and VN) have it right. EY commented (to VN) that someone had already figured it out, and your theory had already appeared in a comment at the main fanfic review site.
1Vladimir_Nesov10yThey don't. They just need to already be there, which opens another possibility for the omitted Charm: to avoid detecting/incapacitating themselves.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky10yConservation of Detail. Obviously it means something; with some imagination on your part you could deduce what.

I can't see how it's possible to deduce such things, in the sense of obtaining an answer associated with high degree of confidence. It seems to be hindsight bias on your part to assume it's deducible, and similarly for some of the other hidden "facts" (or, alternatively, you meant to say something else, and didn't mean to imply high degree of confidence being obtainable, but I can't imagine what).

(Imagination allows noticing promising hypotheses, where a person lacking said imagination would need to learn that hypothesis from someone else. But it doesn't allow making confident conclusions despite lack of information, where uncertainty is appropriate. So there could be hypotheses which are better than any other possible hypothesis, but none of them would be "the deduced answer". If you argue that imagination is the problem, you need to be able to argue for your conclusion in a way that fends off other possible conclusions, and not just consistently determine your conclusion as an author by adding more facts to the story.)

4Eliezer Yudkowsky10ySaw someone else do it already. Actually this is a fallacy I've seen coming up a lot in discussions of the fic. People are so enchanted with being able to come up with many possibilities that they forget to ask which are the probable possibilities. Sure, the laws change somewhat when you're matching wits with an author instead of reality; but when it comes to people talking about lots of other possible explanations for the Mendelian pattern in wizard genetics, for example, they seem to be doing a Culture of Objections thing where they declare victory as soon as they come up with an overlooked possibility that can be used to reject the paper, never mind the prior probability on it. I've seen this answer gotten, so I know it's gettable.

Saw someone else do it already.

Do what? Confidently name the "official" hypothesis, guess teacher's password? There certainly are good hypotheses, possibly one hypothesis significantly better than any other, which makes the probability of privileging the one you had in mind non-trivial and thus explains your observations. It doesn't follow that it's correct to assign high level of certainty to that hypothesis (as a within-world event, not prediction about what you had in mind, as the latter would be biased towards the best guess and away from the long tail).

(My best guess in this particular case is "enable time turners (in some sense)", but I won't be confident it's indeed so, it could be something else. ETA: On reflection, "revealing if someone is already in the room" is a better guess, although one could sidestep the defenses by entering from the future as well as from the past, and so not be present at the time of the casting.)

8cousin_it10ySeconding Nesov's point. If you ask people to guess the number you have in mind, and someone says "three" (while others say "one" or "five" or "a hundred"), and you did in fact have in mind "three", that doesn't prove the answer is "gettable". Not saying that it isn't in fact gettable, only that you need a stricter test. For example, sometimes ask someone else to post a comment with the correct answer (or do it yourself using an alias) and see how it fares compared to other hypotheses.
2mwaser10yI assume that it's been suggested before but . . . . may I suggest (cast a vote) that you spend a bit more effort to advertise HP&tMoR in more places? It's awesomely accessible (especially when considered in comparison to virtually anything else with close to the explanatory power) and an awful lot of fun to boot. (Actually, I should be suggesting that everyone here who likes it should make an effort to advertise it to all their friends. It certainly should have far, far more than 578 people who Like it on Facebook.).
1bogdanb10yAs far as I can tell, the likeliest (i.e., simplest IMO) in-world hypothesis is that Azkhaban already has lots of wards on it, and one of the “standard” ones was not necessary because of that. ConservationOfDetail suggests that’s not the case, but I don’t quite see how we can deduce what you’re trying to do, especially keeping in mind that authors can do the same deductions we do and like to twist things by just picking a less-likely hypothesis and explain it after the fact (or just make the dice fall that way).
2TobyBartels10yThey're not in Azkaban at the time; this is the discussion in Mary's Room.
1bogdanb10yOh, you’re right. I got confused about which chapter we were discussing, sorry about that. That said, something similar applies here: Quirell did 29 charms in Mary’s room, and 30 outside of it. A very simple hypothesis would be that the 30th was something already “implemented” in Mary’s room. (In fact, given that Mary’s room is described as particularly safe even before the charms, the surprising thing is he didn’t do significantly more than 30 charms outside it. The uniqueness of Mary’s room suggests that it would be hard to duplicate it, but it seems strange that nothing could be done to at least approximate it.)
3TobyBartels10yBut didn't he do all 30 charms on a previous visit to Mary's room? There are too many chapters now for me to track this down easily.
2topynate10yWhat if: a) Quirrell and Harry's actions in ch 51 only make sense in light of their planning to do something in particular, and b) doing that thing requires a charm not to be in place? I think that counts as a correct deduction.
1Vladimir_Nesov10y(Somewhat) plausible hypothesis, not something to be confidently believed (which is the working interpretation of "deduction" I'm using, as stated at the beginning of the comment).
2topynate10yFrom the differing ways we treated the same two hypotheses just now I think we're disagreeing on how fine a distinction we accept between two hypotheses before we say that they're significantly different. From my perspective, apparating into the room and walking in under the cloak are functionally the same. In both cases, the purpose of leaving a charm off is to enable Q and H to walk out of the door as if they never left, and it's that which I'd say is a valid deduction. Within all the hypotheses which fit that pattern, some seem more likely than others, but perhaps none are more than plausible.

I apologize if you or anyone else reading does in fact feel spoiled by my previous comment. Unfortunately I don't think it's really possible to revise the spoilers out of the comment and maintain the meaning; the matter is referred to within the following comments anyway, and since there are following comments it would be disingenuous to remove the comment altogether.

However, I would point out that, considering the matter has been referenced explicitly by the author a long time ago, it would seem that at this point that there is an aspect of the story that... (read more)

4Unnamed10yThe guidelines in the spoiler warning about what should be rot13'd are just what I came up with when I posted the first discussion thread. My thought was that comments like yours shouldn't have to be rot13'd, since these threads are supposed to be full of spoilery discussions from people who know the canon or have spotted hints in MoR and are sharing their insights and informed speculation. People who want to figure out MoR on their own probably don't want to read this discussion, so I put the spoiler warning for them at the top so we wouldn't have to worry about rot13'ing every other comment. But it's Eliezer's story, so he has final say over what should be rot13'd. Your comment didn't look any worse than all of the other comments that have referenced the D-I vqragvgl [http://rot13.com/index.php?text=D-I vqragvgl], and I still don't think it makes sense to rot13 all of the comments that contain those kinds of spoilers, so maybe Eliezer could clarify what guidelines he thinks we should use for rot13 in these threads.
3Douglas_Knight10yNo, Eliezer has policy over rot13 on all stories because he is a utility monster [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1s4/open_thread_february_2010_part_2/1ne9].

New Chapter: 50.

In part 3 of this thread people talked about the likely locations of 5 Horcruxes and the riddle that "Quirrell" mentions. Somebody mentioned the pun, the fact that canon!Voldemort's mother named him Tom Marvolo Riddle. I don't think anyone pointed out that he made himself the answer. 'What exists in every Greek or magical element?' Sounds like Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Canon!Voldemort infected historical artifacts with parts of himself because he valued, and wanted to see himself as the fruition of, the history of wizardry in general and Hogwarts in par... (read more)

remember what the sorting hat said though... It seems unlikely that voldemort put the necessary protections on harry's soul-fragment to stop the sorting hat from detecting it considering that he almost died as soon as he attacked harry.

I suppose that milk and infertile eggs would still be problematic because the cows and chickens are killing plants.

On the other hand, what's morality for? I thought the original intent was to improve life, not to make it impossible.

4wedrifid10yMorality? Original intent? To assert political influence among the tribe in a way that benefits yourself while simultaneously preventing yourself from making faux pas that would result in negative political (or occasionally environmental) consequences to yourself in cases where explicit reasoning about probable social outcomes is prohibitively expensive.
2NancyLebovitz10yAlways a pleasure to hear from the Slytherins. OK, why do you think Harry is concerned with ethical behavior to all sentients? I think there's some evolutionary pressure on morality, so that it's a mixture of requirements for behavior which improve the odds of survival for the group, maintain the status of high-status people, and/or are just people making things up because they sound cool/seemed like a good idea at the time/distinguish the group from other groups. People are encouraged to think of all three as the same sort of thing.
4wedrifid10yAhh, but am I? Or am I a hufflepuff who does not base his value system on self-deception? The original intent of the egg laid by hens was something to do with the reproduction of chickens. Yet as far as I'm concerned eggs are there to be separated white from yolk, whipped thoroughly and combined with the extract from artificially selected cane. Morals, ethics and values general are similar - what matters to me is not what the original intent was or causal factors but what my values happen to be right now. I get to choose which of my values I consider, well, part of 'me'. I note that maintaining the belief "the original intent of morality was to improve life", or even "the intent of morality that can be inferred from human behavior is to improve life" is not necessarily a stable belief to hold. That is, exposure information from the world around them through either social observation or theoretical study will cause the belief to be discarded because it just isn't, well, true. To refer to a well known exhortation by a source held here in disrepute: don't build your house on sand! It seems he took his intuitive value for 'other thing that I can empathise with' and applied it more generally than most. This is not a logical problem - there is a huge space of values that are internally coherent. Yet it does have implications that lead me to consider the values of Harry are only slightly preferable to those of Clippy. Optimizing the universe by those criteria would create an outcome that I personally (and I suggest most people) would not like all that much.
1Strange710yMutilating, yes, but not necessarily killing. Grass can regrow after being cropped. Chickens are also at least partly insectivorous, but if insects turn out to be sapient (and Rita Skeeter certainly demonstrates that it's possible to hide human-level intelligence in an insect) it might be time to rethink the existential triage priorities.

I am happy to promote this fanfic on my blog, which, so far as I know, has no readers :)

In ch. 47 Harry teaches Draco how to cast a Patronus, but in ch. 48 he refuses to teach Hermione. Why?

9hairyfigment10yThe more I think about this the more that bit in ch. 48 seems like a mistake by the author. Harry did tell her. She presumably still has the "42" envelope containing the piece of paper where Harry wrote the secret obliquely. Ch. 48 reads like EY forgot that. Edit: OK, technically Harry implied back then that she should avoid reading it unless she had to, so Hermione followed his wishes when she put the paper away unread. How do they expect this to work? "That feels like a dementor. Better apparate away -- oops, can't do that, another wizard must have made an anti-apparation hex. Better pull out that wax-sealed paper I always carry and calmly open it with one hand, using the other to hold my wand in case I need it to defend against my postulated wizard opponent, and then calmly read Harry's hint while hoping the dementor doesn't make me forget who Harry is, and then figure out what he meant, and then apply the knowledge to the problem of duplicating a spell that Harry prepared carefully in a relatively safe situation."
7Vladimir_Nesov10yHe refuses to teach the advanced kind, and expects she can't perform the regular kind in any case (which she tried). Draco couldn't learn regular Patronus because, being a Slytherin, he never made a honest effort.
4JGWeissman10yHarry should be able to help Hermione find a happy thought appropiate for Patronus 1.0, as he did for Draco.
5Vladimir_Nesov10yInability to find a happy thought is not the problem.
4JGWeissman10yNot all happy thoughts work. Harry suggested to Draco a particular happy thought that would work: his father protecting him from human frailty. This is appropriate to protect against a symbol of death, as Harry's father buying him books is not. So no, Hermione's problem is not that she can't find a happy thought, but that she doesn't know what sort of happy thought she is supposed to find.
3CronoDAS10yUm, it's pretty much established the reason Hermione can't cast an animal Patronus is because she doesn't have faith in an afterlife...
6ArisKatsaris10yI don't think it was established one way or another what the reason for Hermione was.
8Eliezer Yudkowsky10yThe standard Patronus "feels wrong" when Hermione tries to cast it, just as it does to Harry.
5Danylo10yHarry teaches Draco to cast Patronus 1.0, Hermione wants to learn Patronus 2.0. Harry doesn't want anyone to know of 2.0, so he keeps it secret. Draco learning of 1.0 is a net gain in terms of Dementor containment -- he represents all of Slytherin. Hermione learning of 2.0 would be a 'net gain' at face, but too risky to allow. If others learn of the secret from her (or read her mind to find out) and the secret spreads, then it's a net loss for Dementor containment. You gain a second 'lifer' (I wanted to say Dementor killer, but that's a bit oxymoronic) and potentially lose thousands of normal guards.
1wedrifid10ySo the parable supports his intended real world lesson to the greatest extent possible. The details of the whole subplot are actually extremely well done. Some of the transposition is subtle enough for me to be not quite sure whether it was intended or merely coincidental. Mind you, any persuasiveness is dependent on actually thinking Harry is making good decisions. But at least it serves as a medium by which he can educate (a more positive word than 'indoctrinate' but something in between the two would be better) without violating the whole point of secrecy by explaining why he believes a real world secret should be kept - which would in most cases sabotage the whole exercise.
5frozenchicken10yWhat Harry SHOULD have said was that the information was highly secret and that as she wasn't adept in Occlumency he wasn't even able to tell her. It wouldn't have gone and explained his motivations clearly, which we all know he loves to do, but it would have answered the question clearly without implying that he doesn't trust her. That's sorta his strength and his weakness.
1Vladimir_Nesov10yIt wouldn't be the real reason, and if he understands that, it would also be a lie.
2frozenchicken10yFair call. That said, including it in the reasoning whilst still doing his usual explaining would have markedly improved things without having to be dishonest.

We don't know. Maybe he is Voldemort sobered up and his magic skillz are from the basilisk; maybe Voldemort is a parasite again, or maybe he and Quirrel have 'traded utility-functions'. Tons of speculation has been offered - indeed, one might say that of the many mysteries in MoR, Quirrel is chief.

Eliezer has drawn attention to the fact that Quirrell just has a bald patch on his head, which he does not conceal, where canon!Quirrell has Voldemort's face. This suggests that MoR!Quirrell at one time had Voldemort's face stuck there, but somehow got free of it. In which case, where is Voldemort now? Who would be absolutely the worst person, from Harry's point of view, to turn out to be possessed by Voldemort?


Who would be absolutely the worst person, from Harry's point of view, to turn out to be possessed by Voldemort?


9rabidchicken10yDumbledore? I think the worst situation for him would be if it was hermione
7RichardKennaway10yHarry is smart enough not to be so scope-insensitive. It would be personally painful for him if Hermione had succumbed to that fate, but disastrous for the world which Harry wants to save if Dumbledore had. Dumbledore's power, plus Voldemort's own, plus what he got from Slytherin's Monster looks like a challenge fit for a superrational scientist-wizard.
2rabidchicken10yAlthough my point was mainly on the emotional level, I don't know... even with Dumbledores political power and magical experience, possessed!Hermione would be a much greater threat to the world than possessed!Dumbledore, given her memory, her sanity, and the speed she learns spells. combined with the motivation of wanting to take over the world, I would expect her to be much stronger than Dumbledore before long. (both in combat and politically) Though she seems like an unlikely choice for a muggle-born hater. On another note, I do not think that Voldemort left Quirrel for someone else, he still seems to be controlled by another being most of the time, even if there are less visible marks. Quirrel may have applied some kind of permanent illusion, instead of using a turban.
3gwern10yOr better than a permanent illusion, a magically-induced blindspot like the Interdict of Merlin or the thestrals.
1NancyLebovitz10yWhy have a noticeable bald spot instead of hair?
2AdShea10yPossibly it's an illusion or Someone Else's Problem Field (Perception Filter) such that the evil is still there, most people just don't see it because they don't want to.
2DanArmak10yPresumably some people knew the real Quirrel person back when Voldermort was still alive. Maybe he just naturally had a bald patch all along. Also, we don't know that hiding a bald spot is possible (or safe). For instance, making someone pretty using magic is known to be very dangerous.
2gwern10yMaybe a blind spot is an empty spot, and an empty spot on a head = bald spot? Hair would be a presence, not an absence. Presumably when one reads a book under the Interdict of Merlin, one reads blank pages, not mildly obscene limericks about a man from Nantucket.
4NancyLebovitz10yI think a sensible wizard would cover any blind spot they create with something very ordinary, if this is possible.

If a male who just lost his virginity is obliviated about that particular fact, is any part of his innocence lost?

1Perplexed10yOnly if he develops a rash, or his T-cell count falls.

It sounds as though I like multi-level selection a bit more than you do.

I think so. I'm not quite so purist as Dawkins, but I am pretty close. But I do realize that it is not really an empirical scientific question. It is really simply a matter of what kind of models you prefer. Most cases in which group selection models work can also be explained just as well by individual-level selection or kin-selection.

Speaking of which:

I also find things like this one interesting: "Senescence as an adaptation to limit the spread of disease"

Yes. Ve... (read more)

[-][anonymous]10y 2

I think that's why he cast the killing curse -- to get Harry to expend his Patronus.

3Danylo10yI don't think it's reasonable to assume that he could predict the Patronus stopping the curse. Harry didn't know it could do it. How could Quirrell, who can't even cast Patronus 2.0? Additionally, he had to be certain that Harry wouldn't be able to recall his Patronus, which would also be beyond him.

Perhaps I'm dense, but the obvious bits seem interesting. If resources are limited, each copy would end up sharing a smaller fraction of the same pool. If there is some fidelity loss in the copying, copies may have conflicting objectives. The risk of a duplicate becoming a rival seems non-trivial. If there a significant cost/damage to the original in the copying process, perhaps most would not.

MOR's horcruxing process seems different than canon, and the differences between what is required by the author's narrative, by what actually happens in biol... (read more)

3TobyBartels10yYou're not dense; they are interesting. It was Darwin's great discovery! And you're right to suggest that under certain conditions (such as limited resources and poor fidelity) they would not. I certainly didn't intend to say anything about ‘ought’. Maybe it's bad that most beings with the ability to copy themselves do so; then how can we stop it? (Perhaps we should limit resources and interfere with the fidelity!)
0DaveX10yMy posts was fuzzily asking a couple things: one about what Voldemort in MOR would/should/did do, where I read your answer as that we should look to the natural world, and a more general one about beings in general, where it is obvious that they do indeed copy themselves. In the biological world, resources are limited, and we're in competition with fairly evenly matched competitors. AI-wise, I don't see how we could effectively limit the resources or interfere with the fidelity for a sufficiently advanced AI. Back to the particular example of horcruxes in MOR, It seems like the costs and perhaps fidelity are significantly different than canon (Bacon's diary?), and I wonder if that will have interesting implications.

I'm aware that you do not support making votes public, so forcing people to comment is something you don't support either.

I suppose it does at that. Although I note that I wouldn't like explanations to be forced even if comments are public. The main reason is that it makes things more personal and emphasizes disagreement. I also anticipate that I will quite often not believe the explanation! People's justifications for their opinions and particularly their social judgments are generated by a different mechanism to what gives them that opinion. The quest... (read more)

Speech, sexual selection rituals, sex itself, cooperation in the social insects ... There are many things which seem to require a more complex and subtle narrative for their explanation than the usual simple Darwinian story of a mutant individual doing better than his conspecific competitors and then passing on his genes.

But that doesn't mean that a died-in-the-wool neo-Darwinian needs to accept the group-selection explanation any more than an Ayn Rand fan confronted with a skyscraper has to admit that Kropotkin was right after all.

However, I am taking your implicit advise and dutifully upvoting Tim's comment.

1timtyler10yI wasn't suggesting that speech evolved via group selection - just that it evidently did evolve - and so proposing the existence of "evolved adaptations that make human society work better" is not an error.

I was just thinking how there's a weird hivemind thing going on with the downvotes. Well-written and cordial posts arguing against the site's preferred positions are being summarily downvoted to invisibility.

This doesn't look like a very healthy discussion dynamic.

8shokwave10yI have been using the Kibitzer since I started posting, and my handle on this matter is that well-written, cordial posts that don't use LW techniques are downvoted. That is, they argue against the preferred position, and they are downvoted because they argue badly. Small corroborations: the posts that get summarily upvoted are ones that point out lack-of-rationality in the arguments, upvotes on topics when they aren't flawed [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2l0/should_i_believe_what_the_siai_claims]. If that seems like an unhealthy discussion dynamic then you should review the LW techniques for rationality and make a top level post explaining how using these techniques, or how requiring everyone to use these techniques, could result in unhealthy discussions. Possibility: Well-written, cordial posts are your criteria for upvotes [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ws/the_importance_of_goodharts_law/] because cordiality and well-writtenness usually correlate with clear thinking and good reasoning. This is true over most of the blog, except for the edge cases [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1kh/the_correct_contrarian_cluster/]. These cases have their roots in subtle cognitive biases, not gross emotional biases, and it's possible that lack of writing skill and cordiality points out gross emotional biases but not subtler ones.
6wedrifid10yI haven't seen any recent examples of this recently (since the last times cryonics evangelism was considered, of course.) I suspect that instead you do not recognise the kinds of error in reasoning that have been detected and responded to.
2MartinB10yThat would be a systemic problem that deserves its own top level post.

1 ) But Harry thinks the scapegoat was possibly him! Which doesn't help.

2) Or if Quirrell wasn't trying to set up Harry it could have been random ex-death eaters, hence the need to kill Bahry with a killing curse for a consistent story. Which Harry scuppered by saving him.

3) Assuming a scape goat likely to obliviate rather than killing curse, Harry doesn't know who it is and what power they should have and how smart they should be. His actions, such as stopping cast the patronus, while keeping Bellatrix hidden, are giving more information to the wizarding ... (read more)

1Vladimir_Nesov10yGrandparent (my comment) was probably

This is something of a quibble, but you really shouldn't think of species-level selection as a kind of group selection. In both group and individual selection, it is the species that evolves. But in species-level selection, the species does not evolve. It is selected - it either lives or dies.

Just because we are dealing with one individual, that doesn't mean it doesn't evolve. Check with the definitions of the term "evolution" - they (mostly) refer to genetic change over time. You could argue that they also (mostly) talk about a "popula... (read more)

1Perplexed10yUh, I'm pretty sure I just stated that an individual - the species - does evolve . It evolves by way of organism-level or group-level selection. It just doesn't evolve by going extinct or not. As for whether one individual qualifies as a population, I've thought about that and completely failed to imagine a population of one individual evolving by way of the standard mechanisms of evolutionary population genetics. That kind of population cannot evolve by differential birth, death, or migration. (I suppose it can change by mutation). The thing you have forgotten in trying to extrapolate the meaning of 'population' in this way is that the essential feature of a biological evolving population is that its size is not fixed and its membership changes in time, whereas a population of exactly one entity by definition does not change its membership count in time. Now, I will agree that a population of entities (say, the population of biological species within a genus) can evolve by selection even though its membership count occasionally fluctuates through having only a single individual. The genus does evolve. But the evolution of the genus as a population of individual species and the evolution of the component species as (possibly structured into groups) populations of individual organisms are conceptually distinct processes. But here is not the place to continue this discussion. If you wish, please bring it up on sbe, and Dr. Hoeltzer can join in. I think he is getting probably lonely over there since we left, and the newsgroup is dominated by John, Tom, and Peter.

Hmmm. Presumably there would be no objection had the speculation been worded "evolved adaptations that make people thrive in human society".

Now all I need to do is to figure out whether the meanings of the two are really different.

3TheOtherDave10yBe careful. "Adaptations that make people thrive" can be interpreted in two ways: "adaptations that make people [who possess those adaptations] thrive" or "adaptations that make people [in general, including those who don't possess the adaptation] thrive." As I understand it, the latter interpretation is essentially equivalent to group selection; the former is not. So it helps to be clear about what exactly you're saying. Your original formulation ("make society work better") implies the latter pretty strongly. Your rewording is more ambiguous. In any case, if you are proposing the former -- that is, if you are proposing that some of our biases have evolved to make the individuals expressing that bias more successful -- there's no group selection error, and I agree that it would be pretty surprising if that weren't the case. Of course, as has been said several times, that doesn't mean those biases currently make individuals expressing them more successful.

dclayh was complying with the spirit of this request from Eliezer:

I came to realize in time that what I thought was a bug was a feature, however frustrating that may be for me, so please rot13 that comment with the warning "spoilers even if you've read all chapters".

This is a general question based on the observations that Harry doesn't seem to be as acute as usual in the most recent chapter-- could there be a spell on him which is taking his default ability to check on whether things make sense down a few notches? What would it take for him to notice something like that?

It was acknowledged as an error in a later Author's Note.

2Eliezer Yudkowsky10yAnd WOW did I ever get called on it. It leaves a small but ugly hole, too, because now it looks like something that ought to stem from the single point of departure, but was actually meant to be unchanged from canon. I should probably just take the "boyfriend" line out of Ch. 17, or rewrite it or something.
1NihilCredo10yI had assumed the boyfriend was James, since I didn't remember in which year they got together (and if I had, I would just have assumed a MoR timeline shift rather than another boyfriend). Also, checking that passage, Dumbledore says that the first scrawl was his and the second Lily's. Is that correct or, as it looks like, an accidental switch? i.e. did Dumbledore claim that he wrote a suggestion to use a toxic ingredient and that Lily, after finding a stranger's note in her book, proceeded to write a response under it?
1TobyBartels10yThere is something like this in canon. When Petunia recognises the name of Azkaban, she says it was ‘something he said’ to her sister. I misinterpreted the referent of that pronoun, and I'll bet that many others did too.

I think this isn't exactly the same, but is in a similar direction.

Take, for example, 'crossing the road'. [...] That is all presented using the mechanism for morality. This is necessary for most young children [...]

Mine is still too young for us to let her cross the road unshepherded, but I'm certainly not presenting that sort of thing to her "using the mechanism for morality"; at least, I'm trying not to and so far as I can tell I'm succeeding. (I think my wife is doing likewise, but I don't know for sure; we haven't discussed the matter in depth.) When there's something she mustn't do for reasons of safety... (read more)

Morality tends to become less necessary as one matures.

Are you using "morality" in some narrow technical sense, here? I ask because this statement seems so bizarrely false to me that it seems like you may have been saying something entirely different than my understanding of what you said.

The sense of doom may just be a filled-with-fantasy Harry brain's interpretation of the Voldemort-emotion/proximity as opposed to the pain that cannon!Harry felt. MoR!Harry already has a far different view of things due to his fiction reading (just look at his interactions with Hermione), why not a different mapping of an unnatural sense?


You can also get email alerts of new chapters, directly from fanfiction.net

given that it seems mostly to use the 3.5 D&D spell list

Er, really?

Bah. Doubly a cliffhanger. I don't like waiting!

Shame about the Basilisk. That creature would have been almost as handy as a familiar as Dumbledore's phoenix!

4blogospheroid10ySlitherin's monster would have been a great snake, but most definitely not a bassilisk in HPMOR. If it had been created to transmit knowledge, it would be some other kind of serpent. Otherwise, one look and oops! there goes the heir of slytherin.

Otherwise, one look and oops! there goes the heir of slytherin.

Survival of the fittest. Sounds like something Slytherin would do to weed out potentially unworthy heirs. ;)

What was the Interdict of Merlin again? I googled but none of the links were defining, just referencing.

If Vold. is in his head, it isn't visible, Quirrel no longer wears the turban he used to hide it in canon.

7Matt_Stevenson10yFrom Ch. 23
2wedrifid10yAhh, was that what Harrizer called his plan to stop the misuse of magic or knowledge in general by limiting it to people who can discover it for themselves? If so I was actually trying to do the reverse lookup a week or so ago.
3knb10yOK, I think that is it. H.P. thinks its why witches are no longer as powerful as they used to be. The idea was to prevent dangerous fools from having powerful magic, but it also means a lot of ancient magic was lost as some spells were never orally transferred, and there was no written copy to be discovered later.
3blogospheroid10yIt was the ancient magical equivalent to an existential risk prevention mechanism.
3cwillu10yAnd note the hat's commentary on the matter.

Well, there are more than 33 rules. It's not a particularly weird coincidence.

3wedrifid10yNot weird, perhaps, but rule 34 on Quirrel's snake form is certainly creepy.

I've found integrating the two identities to be a very pleasant experience. A great cognitive dissonance reducer.

Sorry, what's meant by this?

1MartinB10yThis trope: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RapeIsOkWhenItIsFemaleOnMale [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RapeIsOkWhenItIsFemaleOnMale]and this movie:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disclosure_(film [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disclosure_(film]) Which brought the topic of males getting raped into the realm of the acceptable legal topics. Obviously it is not okay to rape anyone, but in many cases males have problems getting heard when it happens to them. Same goes for domestic violence. Edit: added 2 missing words

Ah. I guess the laws of narrative causality demand that Draco Malfoy actually be a female 13 year-old rapist pregnant with Harry's baby. Given what he's up against, Harry really needs to be as fully-qualified a protagonist as possible.

I wonder if Dumbledore was the one who arranged it...

If you say "that group selection is possible",

I do not. That would be a bizarre position to take (or assume, for that matter). I elsewhere indicated my appreciation for your post on the subject, with particular emphasis on an example you gave where group selection does apply. My support does not extend to the position your comment here conveys and I instead (obviously) repeat Eliezer's objection.

(Equally obviously there is nothing to be gained by continuing this conversation. It is based on nothing more than what meaning some unimportant comments convey and whether or not people have cause to accede to your demand (implied request?) to up-vote Tim.)

Has it got to the point where replying to this would be a violation of the 'Do not feed the trolls' convention?

mwaser does not sound trollish here to me:

This community is far worse at that than most I've seen. Y'all know how to argue/debate "logically" much better -- but it's normally to the purpose of retaining your views, not discovering where you might have gone wrong or where you might do better.

There are users whom I think this describes well, including a few very active and usually-correct ones.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

I am confused by Quirrell's behavior in attempting to kill the auror, so I assume that there is something that I don't know or understand about Quirrell's motives.

What I don't see yet is that Quirrell was relying on the dual to occur, only that it was a possibility that he accounted for.

You're right, that's all we can know for sure from the story so far. My theory is purely speculative, a guess at Quirrell's true motives. It springs more from earlier chapters than from this one: I think it was really suspicious of Quirrell to go to all that trouble to b... (read more)

Has it got to the point where replying to this would be a violation of the 'Do not feed the trolls' convention?

Not exactly, but I would support a "Do not feed the crackpots" convention.

3wedrifid10yGood point. An important distinction. Trolling is entirely different in nature (and much more normatively objectionable). Although one way to create trolls is to feed the crackpots after midnight.

New thread after 500 comments.

QuickROT sort of works inside text fields. Select, rightclick, QR, copy to clipboard, paste (your text has stayed selected).

The drawback is that QuickRot won't appear for the same text more than once, even if it's in a different text field in a different tab.

But comparing species-level selection and individual selection, it makes no sense to say that one is more powerful than the other. They are playing different games.

They are both attempting to influence the same germ line. They are both attempting to influence the same set of traits. It makes reasonably good sense to look at a trait - and to ask whether it is more for the benefit of the individual or the species.

For example, one such trait might be: a love of swimming. That might be bad for an individual (drowning), but good for the species (island speciation).

It'll require another database query for every post on every thread (which means the site will be slower and more expensive)

Whence the extra database queries? Presumably it could all be done on the client side in JavaScript.

I agree that it would be overkill to have it on every comment, though.

I usually do not like dream episodes if they are not well hinted at. It often feels like a cheap excuse to blow everything up without hurting the status Q.

Did I miss a critical point here?

My answer in more annoying rot13, to be very explicit:

Vg jnf erirnyrq ol RL va na nhgube'f abgr gung Dhveeryy vf Ibyqrzbeg, orpnhfr ur jnf sehfgengrq gung ur rkcrpgrq uvf ernqref gb vaghvg gung ohg fbzr crbcyr jrer abg trggvat vg. Ubjrire, ur'f orra pbaivaprq gung vg orvat nzovthbhf jurgure Dhveeryy vf Ibyqrzbeg vf n tbbq guvat, fb unf erzbirq gur nofheqyl oyngnag uvag ur oevrsyl nqqrq gb bar puncgre naq unf orra pbafvqrevat vg n fcbvyre rire fvapr. Nyfb eryngrq vf gur snpg gung Dhveeryy!zbeg ghearq gur Cvbarre cyndhr vagb n ubepehk.

1David_Allen10yPerfect, thanks for the clarification. I will respond in kind to maintain that rule: Vg vf snve sebz pnaba, naq bhgfvqr bs RL'f fgngrzragf gb nffhzr D=I. Ng yrnfg nf snve nf nal bgure fcrphyngvba va guvf sbehz. Fb V jbhyq nethr gung pbzzragf [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2uzf?c=1] yvxr guvf bar sebz lbh ner vaureragyl serr sebz gung pbagnzvangvba, hayrff lbh ersre gb RL'f pbasvezngvba qverpgyl: Just my opinion, perhaps we should let the lawyers fight it out. :)

The rot13 use is becoming excessive in this forum, there is already a spoiler warning on the post. Let EY make a special request for it when he thinks speculation goes too far.

I think the policy should be that you do not need to rot13 anything about HMPOR 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.

More specificallly, (and I have to use rot13 here), vg'f svar gb jevgr nobhg Ibyqrzbeg pbagebyyvat Dhveeryy (jvgubhg hfvat ebg13), ohg lbh qb arrq gb hfr ebg13 vs lbh zragvba gur qryrgrq nhgube'f abgr nobhg gung be pynvz gung Jbeq bs Tbq unf rfgnoyvfurq gung D=I.

3Eliezer Yudkowsky10yI affirm that this is what I think the policy should be. Speculation does not require spoilers.
3Random8329yDownvoted for endorsing a policy that requires people to keep track of whether something is still in the current version of the fic. I didn't know until today that the thing Unnamed put in rot13 had been "disrevealed".
2wedrifid9yI only just discovered what you meant here. I totally agree. Enforcement of 'unrevelation' spoiler policies is utterly absurd and is a norm that I would oppose rather than support.
1Vladimir_Nesov9yThe worst that can happen is that you make an error (and possibly fix it). A meaningful question could be, for example, whether the incentives drive the outcome in a wrong direction, or their enforcement is more trouble than it's worth.
7Random8329yIndependent of the fact that I believe the desired outcome (less free discussion) is itself a wrong direction, it also encourages EY to be careless with authors notes in the future, due to believing he can "take them back". It also punishes people for honest mistakes. Maybe 8 karma isn't a lot to you, but it's what I lost just for disagreeing, not even for violating the rule myself. I also think that rot13 is a bad choice, since it requires external programs - implementing a spoiler tag for comments the way there appears to be one in use in some article posts would reduce the burden both to discuss spoilers and to read those discussions. (this is more "compliance is more trouble than it's worth" than "enforcement is more trouble than it's worth", but it's a similar kind of problem.) I think a likely result is that people either shy away from discussing it at all, or have it as an implicit assumption (to their unrot13ed posts) and are caught in a trap when someone who doesn't know asks what they're talking about. Or we end up with a lot of noise whenever someone who isn't aware of the rule runs into it.
6Random8329yI will add, having read some of the thread again with an eye for it, that it is enforced haphazardly. I've seen numerous posts that mention it and have a positive score. EDIT: Here's a link to my post with a list of such posts [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bmx/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/6b6k]
0wedrifid9yDon't do that. You're just helping the arbitrary punishers find more targets!
0[anonymous]9ynever frakking mind
5TheOtherDave10yI wonder how difficult it would be to add a "Rot13 this" button to the options under each text item (that is, next to "Vote up" and "Vote down" and so forth). That would significantly reduce the nuisance factor associated with reading r13'd posts, without the site having to give up whatever value it is people see in using them. Not that I'm offering to write the code, or anything actually useful like that. Just ruminating.
7Perplexed10yThis is not an endorsement of the add-on , but if you use Firefox [https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/125128/]
4TheOtherDave10y/dave feels sheepish/ Yes, of course there would be such a thing, and I ought to have looked for it rather than proposing that the feature be built into the site itself. Clearly, my intuitions have been distorted by working on self-contained rather then Web apps for too many years. Thanks for both the thought and the pointer.
4JGWeissman10yIf we are going automate this, we should just use spoiler tags, so the marked text can be revealed on highlighting, or when a button is clicked or whatever.
2thomblake10yEY has made such a special request for it, and most of the rot13 content here is in compliance with that particular request.

yeah, punishing agents for doing 'bad things' as a deterrence against other agents acting similarly is quite rational.

2Perplexed10yIt is a lot more important than just deterring similar acts. A failure to punish after having made a commitment to punish removes a big part of the deterrent effectiveness of all kinds of punishment for all kinds of 'bad things'. For that matter, it may decrease trust that the government/society will keep its other commitments - pension obligations, for example.

chp 54

So much for Harry's intent to kill. The Most Dangerous Student in the Classroom gets to his first real battle and he does just the opposite.

I guess Harry's Gryffindor/Patronus side is leading the way here, not his Slytherin/dark side (as I mentioned in the last paragraph of my other comment).

Well, it wasn't an individual who deserved death. Harry may have an intent to kill but he isn't going to direct it at someone like an Auror without a lot more provocation.


(Harry had asked why Professor Quirrell couldn't be the one to play the part of the Dark Lord, and Professor Quirrell had pointed out that there was no plausible reason for him to be possessed by the shade of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.)

Also... why in the world is Harry using the labels "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" and "Dark Lord" in his thinking, rather than "Voldemort"? Ditto Quirrell. It seems pointlessly imprecise.

We've established that there can be multiple Dark Lords, maybe even at the same time, and I see no clear ... (read more)

6thomblake10yIn canon, using Voldemort's name was highly discouraged. Also: Chapter 3 [http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/3/Harry_Potter_and_the_Methods_of_Rationality] :
2TobyBartels10yIn fact, there have been at least two Dark Lords in this (the 20th) century, since Grindelwald (defeated 1945) was also a Dark Lord. (But in canon, he is still alive at this time and imprisoned, although in Nurmengard rather than in Azkaban.)

Obviously I can think of any number of examples in which one could use "the mechanism of morality" to keep young children from being hurt. Your claim, however, was not merely that there are such examples; it was that in such cases "that is all presented using the mechanism of morality". Not "could be presented", not "is often presented", not even "is usually presented"; simply "is presented".

The (perhaps unreasonably strong) literal interpretation of this, with an honest-to-Cthulhu universal quant... (read more)

It would have been better if she could have done a real Lucas (or an Eliezer) and edited the earlier references in the earlier books.

I'm not sure which is worse - a single magic gene or midichlorians. But to be honest I might be willing to trade off Ron for Jar Jar.