Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

by bogdanb1 min read27th Mar 20121112 comments

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HPMOR (discussion & meta)
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This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 81, which should be published later today. The previous thread passed 400 comments as of the time of this writing, so it will pass 500 comments soon after the next chapter is posted, if not before. I suggest refraining from commenting here until chapter 81 is posted; comment in the 12th thread until you read chapter 81. After chapter 81 is posted, I suggest all discussion of previous guesses be kept here, with links to comments in the previous thread.

There is now a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.) When posted, chapter 81 should appear here.

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag. Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system. Also: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,nine, ten, eleven, twelve.

As a reminder, it’s often useful to start your comment by indicating which chapter you are commenting on.

Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

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

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This is probably not the solution Harry's going to use in Chapter 81 (I'm writing this before it was posted), but a friend and I were discussing it and came up with a possible solution. I decided it would be much more fun as a piece of fanfanfiction rather than an abstract description, so here it is. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing.

Chapter 81b: Alternate Solution

Beyond all panic and despair his mind began to search through every fact in its possession, recall everything it knew about Lucius Malfoy, about the Wizengamot, about the laws of magical Britain; his eyes looked at the rows of chairs, at every person and every thing within range of his vision, searching for any opportunity it could grasp -

And the start of an idea formed - not a plan, but a tiny fragment of one. He spelled out N-O-T-E on his fingers, and, as discretely as he could, drew a piece of paper out from his bag that he did not remember putting there. It read:

"Mess with time if you want!"

And then he heard a loud bang, and another while he was stuffing the note back in his bag, and he looked up to see that a circular piece had pushed out from the wall, (that wall that could've withs... (read more)

6NihilCredo9yThe next time Eliezer puts up an omake page, he definitely needs to include this.
6Alsadius9yHell, you could damn near make an omake page out of all the alternate theories we posted.
6ArisKatsaris9yHighly unlikely for something like this to happen in the actual HPMOR -- but I actually enjoyed it, so I thank you for posting it.
3wedrifid9yI love it! Especially the last paragraph.

Idea: Making the money back will be much more difficult than most people anticipate, including Harry.

Reason: Many wizards are highly motivated towards finance and would exhaust every opportunity to generate infinite gold. The rich wizards of the Wizengamot considered 100,000 galleons to be a lot of money.

First, imagine all the ways a wizard could make effectively infinite amounts of muggle money. Arbitrage. Use a time turner and win at the stock market. Use a time turner and win the super-lotto. Imperius (or love potion, false memory charm, groundhog day attack, etc) any billionaire and take part of their fortune. Mind trick some bankers with fake documents (as Dumbledore does in book 6). Go rob some banks with invisibility and teleportation (and/or a time turner). Use magic to secure a job with a 50 million dollar golden parachute with very generous terms. Make huge amounts of drug money as a courier via teleportation/portkey. Sell 5 galleon trinkets to muggle collectors for millions of dollars each. Etc., etc., etc..

Some of them are more risky, some of them are less risky, but I bet that any member of these forums could get at least $50 million in a week if we were w... (read more)

I think that taking advantage of muggles in lots of ways is against the law, so imperiusing or memory charming a billionaire would be forbidden. I wouldn't be at all surprised if people have thought of and maybe tried using time turners to cheat the muggle lottery, so I'd give fair odds that's illegal too. When it comes to arbitrage though, remember that while wizards in general may not be tremendously stupid, they tend to be incredibly clueless about the muggle world; remember that Arthur Weasley can pass as a premier expert on muggle artifacts. The fact that the values of gold and silver in the muggle world are totally divorced from their value in the wizarding world is likely to be very little known, and the concept of arbitrage may be completely foreign to them as well (look how primitive their whole financial system appears to be.)

The fact that Mr. Bester, Harry's occlumency instructor, said he wished he could remember "That trick with the gold and silver" implies that a) the idea is not obvious to most wizards, and b) he thinks he would at least stand a chance of getting away with it.

I completely agree. Recall also Draco's speech about muggles scratching in the dirt, and his reaction to Harry's estimate of the lunar program budget. It's not just wizards not paying attention to relative values of gold and silver in the muggle world---for the most part, the possibility that there could be a substantial amount of either in the muggle world doesn't occur to them. Now you might expect muggleborns to know better, even after making allowances for the fact that they enter the wizarding world at age 11. On the other hand, if a muggleborn is clever enough to see the potential for profit, they might also be clever enough to see what Harry apparently does not---that calling attention to the fact that the muggles are ripe for exploitation is a Bad Idea.

I would actually suspect parents of a half blood (is there a name for this?) would be the weak link, rather than muggle-born children.

You've got people who have lived their whole lives as muggles, then suddenly they fall in love and get married and find out their spouse is a wizard. They've spent ~20 years in the muggle world and probably have a career of their own. No way they don't ask their spouse to spend a couple hours and let them both live like kings for the rest of their lives. And if they don't even get that much information about their other's life, that's some seriously messed up power dynamics in that household.

Also, as Harry himself speculates, muggleborns, like his mother, probably tend to fall into the habit of not thinking of muggles as Real People anymore, because it's too emotionally taxing, and they're living in a different world. They may stop concerning themselves with the muggle world much by the time they're grown up. The muggle raised wizards in the original canon certainly seemed to.

3Xachariah9yOh, I'm sure taking advantage of muggles is treated even worse than taking advantage of pets. But there are a lot of rich people and a lot of ways to steal their money. Ditto with the lottery. Maybe they police the lottery, but do they police stock exchanges, leveraged currency trading, futures markets, prediction accounts, sports betting, Vegas, etc.? It takes ten minutes to think of a dozen ways to get effectively infinite muggle money with magic. There's no way to stop it all. Hence, the block (if it exists) has to be at the interface point. Somewhere in between when muggle money turns into galleons.

My guess is that rather than policing any of various muggle institutions, they investigate, as we do in our own world, whenever anyone appears to suddenly come into possession of large amounts of money for no clear reason, and if they find out they did something illegal, they throw them in jail.

Maybe people are already using wizardry to get huge amounts of money through the muggle world, but if so they may have to store and use the money very inconspicuously.

I wonder if they do. The wizarding world is a bizarre mix of modern and ancient traditions. It seems just as likely for them to have an income tax as not. So, they may or may not have the bureaucratic apparatus in place to know how much money people have and make.

I also wonder what the official stance would be on, say, bilking the stock market. It seems like standing up for muggle rights would be an unpopular political stance. Since there's no direct victim and you're doing things that aren't even illegal in the muggle world (nevermind they don't have time-travel), it seems unlikely the authorities would care to stop you, unless they have a blanket ban on anything that would result in inflation.

God, I'm such a double-nerd. There's a dark lord to be fought and I'm hoping the next plot arc is about wizard tax law and how magical Britain handles inflation.

The funny thing is, it's not really bilking the stock market. The whole argument for stock trading is that traders create value by accurately pricing securities, and thus allocating capital efficiently. Time travel is just a ridiculously efficient means of doing so. Given common access to Time-Turners, the stock market would literally be perfectly efficient(assuming that using turner-induced stock prices doesn't violate the 6-hour rule). People without them would be very pissed off, but I'd actually argue it as being the right and proper way to run a stock market if the technology existed.

4Username9yThe only thing is, once you have enough time turners to control most of the volume of the market, there are no longer any linear-time causal inputs (read: people) deciding what directions the market will take. Market fluctuations would literally come from nowhere, though it might be best said that they would come from Time. And given Harry's previous scary experiment (DO NOT MESS WITH TIME, ch. 17), I'm not sure it's such a good idea to let Time be the one to control this.
6TuviaDulin9yThis is by far the likeliest explanation I've seen. It does lead one to wonder how many wizards are sitting on huge piles of muggle money and slowly converting it into galleons as needed.
4fubarobfusco9yIn canon there is a Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office, but it's not terribly competent. However, the Minister of Magic also liaises with the Muggle Prime Minister; and presumably there is some exchange of information between their staffs. Any financial irregularities large enough to register on a national level could register that way.
8kilobug9yIn canon at least, it's pretty clear that there is few interaction from Muggle Prime Minister and Minister of Magic, unless exceptional events occur. IIRC, in first 5 years, there is only two interactions : the Minister of Magic informing the Prime Minister about the escape of Sirius Black, and the dragons for the Triwizards Tournament. And there seems that not once did the Muggle Prime Minister directly contact the Minister of Magic, it only went the other way around. So I'm sceptical about that. More likely the Ministry of Magic has someone working in the staff of the Muggle Prime Minister and informing the Ministry if something odds is happening.

First, imagine all the ways a wizard could make effectively infinite amounts of muggle money. Arbitrage. Use a time turner and win at the stock market.

Neither of which are known to the Wizarding world, as evidenced by the Occlumency teacher's reaction to his discovery of it. (and his discovery of it, and his discovery of it... :) )

Something doesn't add up.

Your assessment of the Wizarding World's evaluation of the Muggle world. To the supermajority of Wizards, science is a total unknown. Economic and sociopolitical theory are terms they've simply never heard of.

They are isolated and effectively are like the apocryphal Chinese Emperor who burned his fleets because there was nothing left to discover; or the equally apocryphal Patent Office official who wanted to close the Patent Office in the 1800's because there was nothing left to invent.

So basically what you're seeing is what's called "hindsight bias". It is obvious to you, who knows what "Muggles" have, that the Wizards are vastly disadvantaged here -- insanely so -- but remember that as further demonstrated by Draco's total ignorance of Man's visit to the Moon, Wizards believe Muggles are "wallowing in the mud". The idea that they might LEARN from Muggles is actively suppressed by a concerted political campain by a powerful and long-standing major political faction.

The people who would do this are not on the Wizengamot: Maybe this does happen. Perhaps all the muggle-born realize how easy it is to live a life of luxury in the muggle world and do exactly that, and only venture into the magical world when the want to go shopping. They have the best conveniences of both worlds and none of the dangers of either. This... actually sounds kinda plausible. Plus, there isn't a great job market for muggle-born.

Like going off to live in a poor country if you have a first-world income to live on. I believe it's already been remarked that this is about how magical Britain views muggle Britain.

Theres also a psychological dimension to consider. To most wizards, and especially the rich pure bloods who this would be most relevant to, muggles, muggle-borns and anything associated with them are incredibly low status. Mere knowledge of muggles is seen as a major social negative (see treatment of Arthur Weasley). As such they would have a strong incentive not to investigate muggle knowledge, and if you suggested to Lucius that he made his fortune and power from dealing with Muggles his brain might actually explode from shame.

4kilobug9yYes, but if it were just that, you would except a few low-status wizard to suddenly become very rich through muggle-side tricks. Arthur Weasley is probably too Gryffindor to do it himself, but since he has quite a lot of work with wizards doing tricks with "muggle artificats", you could except a few of them to get very rich by fiddling with the muggle world (especially muggle born, at 11 you know about stock markets and lottery) if it were so easy. My best guess is that it's illegal and the law enforcement is strong enough to not be worth the risk. Like, if you suddenly arrive at Gringotts with gold coming from nowhere, an investigation is done, and if that gold comes from a "muggle source", you're in trouble.

Let's quote the current author's notes:

One thing I did notice was that many readers (a) neglected simple solutions in favor of complex ones, (b) neglected obvious solutions in favor of nonobvious ones, and (c) suggested that the correct hints had been put there for deliberately deceptive purposes.

General announcement: I do not lie to my readers. Almost everything in HPMOR is generated by the underlying facts of the story. Sometimes it is generated by humor – I can’t realistically claim that comic timing that precise would occur in a purely natural magical universe. But nothing is there to deliberately fool the readers.

Methods of Rationality is a rationalist story. Your job is to outwit the universe, not the author. If it taught the lesson that the simple solution is always wrong because it is “too obvious”, it would be teaching rather the wrong moral. There are some cases where people have scored additional points by successful literary analysis, e.g. Checkov’s Gun principles. But the author is not your enemy, and the facts aren’t lies.

Now, yes, it is possible that Eliezer Yudkowsky's Author Note on this very chapter is a lie, and he will suddenly reveal a whole series of... (read more)

Some counter-evidence for getting gold being difficult: In chapter 27, Mister Bester (the Legilimens who trained Harry) said:

Though I do wish I could remember that trick with the gold and silver.

Implying that it was at least somewhat practical as a means for getting rich quickly.

6JoshuaZ9yBester has only thought about it for a few seconds so there could be problems that would occur to someone who is knowledgeable about the wizarding economy if they thought about it for a bit.

I meant it as Bayesian evidence. (updating P(Arbitrage works) down on Bester regretting means updating up on him not Regretting)

Plus, this is stronger evidence for us than for Harry due to Conservation of Details and the recent disclaimer by EY that there are no red herrings, and that simple solutions != bad solutions (and in fact, the opposite is usually true).

ETA: Also, Bester probably thought about it more more than a few seconds, at least the first time he saw it in Harry's mind - Remember that he didn't just see those Ideas/secrets, he's also seen key moments of his previous conversations.

Remember, most of wizarding Britain is either people who were taken out of the muggle world at age 10-11 and don't come back, or people who never lived there at all. How many of them are actually going to understand finance well enough to have a sense of how to exploit it? And the ones who actually have money at Gringott's are almost by definition the ones who never even spent those 11 years in the muggle world, so they may well not have any idea that finance exists. And even if they do, the ignorance and prejudice is rather overpowering, and may well prevent proper use of it. Someone who has both seed capital and the knowledge of how to exploit the crap out of it is going to be rare, and the DMLE is likely going to step on anyone who gets too egregious about using wizarding advantages to do so.

(Edited first sentence for accuracy)

7Logos019yI don't believe this is correct. In fact, isn't there a section in MoR where McGonagall relates to Harry that less than 10 "muggleborn" Wizards are being inducted into Hogwarts that year? (With Harry being one of them?)
4Alsadius9yRight, I meant to edit that and got distracted. Replace with "Remember, most of wizarding Britain is either people who were taken out of the muggle world at age 10-11 and don't come back or people who never lived there at all".
4Alicorn9yHalfbloods are more populous, and their Muggle parents probably give them some nontrivial connection to the Muggle world.
7JoshuaZ9yNot really. All sorts of arguments and fights over importation rights occurred even during the height of merchantilism. That importing goods can be profitable is a much more obvious claim than that moving goods between markets can be profitable. The second is more abstract. Moreover, they don't think of the Muggle world as that important, so the fact that the Muggle world has imbalanced prices may not be obvious to them as something to even think about.
6SkyDK9yI disagree. Harry can do partial transfiguration. If he cannot figure out ways to earn insane amounts of cash just through that then he is too retarded to be called rational (remember that he can actually extract resources in ways the wizarding world cannot - as I write in another place: mining ++). Plus you underestimate the degree of separation between the two worlds plus the extreme lack of respect the wizarding world holds for muggles. And about the 100.000 galleons: well if they're bright, ambitious and socially aware plus they're using questionable sources they SHOULD act surprised. Not acting surprised would give away their game to the idiots remaining. I will be severely disappointed if EY will waste time on the money issue. It doesn't deserve much more than a paragraph. Perhaps two just to let us know that Harry won't abuse it, because he doesn't want to call too much attention to himself.
3MixedNuts9yHow would one legally extract money from partial transfiguration? If you have a large object you want transfigured, is it cheaper to hire the only wizard in the world who can do partial transfigurations, or a team of powerful wizards who can just work on the whole thing? And how often does that happen anyway? He could make money from teaching it, but that'd be slow. Eliezer seems to believe that wizards are selectively stupid about economics, so you're probably right about the general issue. They could need to import it because they can't produce it locally at all. Also, please don't use slurs.
3Xachariah9yI think partial transfiguration gains power by being a literal carving device. Normal transfiguration can force an object to take a shape, but they always revert. Partial transfiguration can carve pieces off selectively and have it be permanent. Eg, "the sculpture was always in the block of marble, I just removed what was not the sculpture." Although you'd need to set up incredible safety protocols. Presumably you'd transform the waste into a non-evaporative liquid while keeping a bubble headed charm on until you finite'd everything. Harry Potter is his own little subtractive universal CNC machine. He's infinite axis; he can work on any material; he can work on any size. A mail order service could be a multi-million dollar a year business, depending on how tight he could control his tolerances. This goes doubly so because it's in 1991 compared to modern day. Edit: Actually, I suppose sufficiently powerful wizards could do this too. They would just transfigure the whole block of steel into an engine+oil, drain it all, then finite it back so just an engine remained. And I don't think there's a big enough market for Harry to work exclusively on sculptures in the sides of the mountains or anything. Drat, foiled.
5Nornagest9yHe's got plenty of time, and doesn't need that much seed money or that high a growth rate -- unless Lucius has a plan that'll get intolerable well before his payment comes due. I ran some numbers, and if he's making 3% profit on each of one-third of all trading days for six years (which I think is if anything conservative -- the arbitrage hack early in the story would be a couple orders of magnitude more profitable until someone catches on), he needs a principal of a little under 40 Galleons to break the 100,000 mark by the end of year 7. For 60,000, it's more like 25. That's a decent amount of money if we're going by the prices we've seen for goods, but I'd be surprised if he couldn't borrow it from any of the suitably impressed adults he's surrounded himself with. Especially if they've got a motive to screw the Malfoys over.

Note that Harry secretly buried 100 Galleons in the backyard of his parents' house back in chapter 36, so having seed money is not an issue.

4JoshuaZ9yUpvoted for an essentially accurate analysis. However a minor nitpick: The marginal fees and resources involved will likely make this not very profitable if one started out with a small amount of money. So it would make more sense to start out with say at least a hundred Galleons or so. (Incidentally, why are Galleons capitalized? Is that convention? Other currencies like pounds, dollars and euros aren't generally capitalized.)
5RomeoStevens9ymaybe I'm forgetting some piece of evidence but couldn't the simple explanation be that muggle gold isn't actually wizard gold and vice versa? Magical signature as mentioned or any number of other ways.
4IneptatNormal9yI think it's also important to remember that all these fancy smancy new ways of making money haven't really been around that long. Wizards live to be more than a hundred years old, and in general don't have a bunch of children. There's been only a couple generations in which many of these money making methods have been around - for example, the stock market has only existed in a convenient form since, say, 1910? And this story takes place in 1992. Eighty years really isn't that long in wizard years. And while a small percentage ten-year-olds in the 1990s might happen to have some idea of how the stock market can be manipulated for personal gains, probably only a vastly smaller number may have known in, say, 1940 - before the information age. The noble houses - the wizards that probably make up the majority of the Wizenagamot - are kind of implied to have been rich and powerful for a long time. If any of these people are young enough to have gone to Hogwarts after the thirties, and been humble enough to have taken Muggle Studies, and really paid attention when it came to the Great Depression, and happened to do background reading on the subject in order to exploit it, then sure, maybe it's already done. But given the information we have, I doubt this is widely known and regularly done enough to be a problem for Harry.
4anotherblackhat9yCertainly, the planning fallacy applies. And even if, for example, arbitrage worked the way it seems, and without the extra pitfalls that have been mentioned, there's a lot more to it than just swapping silver for gold and back. Harry's 11, he can't leave Hogwarts, his finances are tightly controlled by Dumbledore, 100,000 galleons = 1.7 million sickles ~= 17 tonnes of silver. Your dad doesn't just slip that into his back pocket. You're going to need help lifting it, security to guard it, vehicles to move it... On the other hand, Harry has a lot of resources that haven't even been mentioned yet. There's a house in Godricks hollow for example, and the Granger's would probably be willing to contribute. He hasn't even really made an accurate count of his vault. He described the stacks as a rough pyramid, but then estimates they're 20 wide and 60 tall - so in other words, each step of the pyramid is only three coins high. I made a small model out of poker chips, and it looks more like a flat than a stack. If it were a normal author, I'd figure the description was bad and the "estimate" was spot on, but EY is smart enough to realize that estimates aren't that accurate. Harry might have underestimated and already have 100,000. Of course, he might have over estimated instead. Maybe he should learn a magical counting spell.
5buybuydandavis9yA good chance they could pay off the entire debt. They seemed very well off. I've got a friend who is a dentist. He could pay it off if he wanted to. 2 dentists? If they had decent business sense, it wouldn't be a problem. This is in the US, however. I'd guess that pay scales are different in Britain.
3drethelin9yAs far as transporting, Harry has a magical chest that contains entire rooms and can walk on its own. Dumbledore, Quirrel, or any bribeable adult wizard can teleport him to gringotts or to any muggle bank or jeweler he would like to go to, and there are definitely spells for swiftly transporting items across a room or whatever. I think by far a bigger problem would be getting any muggle bank to accept 17 tons of silver in a single transaction without any sort of possible background checks.
3Jonathan_Elmer9yWhy not just chose a muggle institution that has a lot of gold and is corrupt enough you don't mind stealing from(shouldn't be hard) and walk in under the cloak of invisibility, alohomora the locks and fill up the bag of holding with gold? I agree that sounds too easy to not already have been done though.
3MinibearRex9yI think this one would fall under the jurisdiction of the DMLE. In Canon, there were a few scenes with Arthur Weasley in which he discussed criminal cases involving wizards using magical powers against muggles.

people who don't bother to create their own universes are statistically going to be less-motivated, less-experienced, and/or less-competent authors.

Do you have this opinion of realistic fiction too?

I have always thought that but the story makes the point even better. Click on that link, everyone.

7Alicorn9yUh, wow, I have linked this story on LW before, but your endorsement apparently makes a great big screaming difference to how much traffic a link gets. Please endorse more of my things. I am addicted to web hits.
3Alsadius9yNo, it mostly suffers from the problem that the people who write it are trying to create Art, and that never ends well. Or, to answer the question you're actually asking, I'm arguing probabilities, not absolutes. Good fanfic exists - hell, we're on a thread to debate a fic sufficiently good that it caused me to read the original Potter books(seriously, the number of references in those first 30 chapters I missed the first time is kind of staggering). But it is not the majority.

Hypothesis: the Source of Magic is an AI with the goal to work in the way (magical) people really believe it should work. Or maybe, to make the world work in the way (magical) people really believe it should work. The strength of belief appears to be important, so a strong belief can override weak ones. On the other hand, when something is already "generally known" to work in a certain way, this is a very strong belief.

Examples:

  1. Broomsticks work by Aristotelian physics [because it was what people believed when the broomsticks were invented, and now people just know (=believe really strongly) that's how broomsticks should behave]
  2. Spell names and laws [inventors create spells by finding sounds they believe should work. When spells become known, they stabilize in that form]
  3. Potions Law
  4. Ritual magic [people really believe in sacrifices and not getting something for nothing]
  5. Ghosts (and afterlife?) [effects of religious beliefs]
  6. Harry's partial transfiguration [very strong belief, finds a loophole to not be in conflict with existing strong beliefs of other people]

Magic doesn't make sense to Harry because it now reflects lots of ad hoc rules and beliefs accumulated in centuries. Wizards and witches believe them from childhood. [No wonder they are half-insane.]

Interestingly, this hypothesis implies that Dumbledore's narrative causality may actually work - people do believe in stories.

7Mass_Driver9yWow. That's just an absolutely fabulous theory. In one fell swoop, you explain why EY appeared to leave AI out of his largest story yet, plausibly account for a vast array of in-story phenomena, and rehabilitate a character (Dumbledore) who seems suspiciously irrational for someone who's supposed to have oodles of meaningful in-story-real-world accomplishments. The theory has falsifiable, concrete predictions -- for example, we should not expect the AI to care if Harry asks it really nicely to give everyone magic powers; nor should we expect magic to be able to do anything that a super-intelligent AI couldn't do (simulating cat-brains is AOK; uncomputably complicated time loops are not OK). The theory also seems to fit with Chapter 82's hint that people subsumed by pheonix fire are re-instantiated "instances" of a more general Fire. In other words, the AI can maybe call the "Harry" subroutine somewhere else if it wants. I'm in awe. One possible victory condition if the AI in fact is coded to enforce the beliefs of people with a particular genetic marker is for Harry to find a way to put that marker into most people / his friends using a retrovirus. Does anyone else find it in the least suspicious that Harry's father is an expert biochemist? So, have there been any fundamentally uncomputable events in the story so far? :-)

If you're Lucius at this point, how the hell do you now update your "Harry is Voldie" hypothesis?

On the one one hand, he just paid 100K galleons to save a mud blood girl. On the other hand, he spooked a dementor. On the other other hand, while that feat may be impressive, it's certainly not anything the Dark Lord had been known to do previously. And is he consprasizing with Dumbledore, or against him?

Probably a very confusing time to be the Lord of Malfoy.

It makes a great deal of sense as a purely political ploy. Harry just greatly strengthened the legend of the boy who lived, and since that is the result, Lucius is likely to suspect that it was also the intent.

That mudblood girl is also the most talented witch of her generation. Maybe Harrymort just wants another Bellatrix and this is the first step towards it. Maybe the debt doesn't matter because Britain is going to be at war / Lucius will be dead before Harry would graduate. Also, Harry just gained a sworn minion out of it, which is arguably a lot more useful than a large sum of money.

Confirmation bias remains and this is Lucius who whatever his cunning isn't a rationalist. So he's more likely to be thinking "Why did Voldemort save the mudblood girl?" than consider that he was wrong thinking Harry was Voldemort.

6hairyfigment9yIf Harrymort regains 'his' former power, he'll have the use of all House Malfoy's wealth. But Lucius still doesn't know what the Dark Lord wants with Hermione Granger.
3ajuc9yGreat point. If Harry is Voldemort, Voldemort will keep Harry money because Lucius have them. If Harry is not Voldemort, Voldemort will earn Harry money, because Lucius have them now. Win-win once again. Lucius is a competent player, and Harry is underestimating him.

I'm not sure if anyone has commented on this, but I just noticed it while rereading the Self-Actualization chapters:

Hermione went to tremendous lengths to be her own person rather than just something of Harry's, including becoming a general and fighting bullies. Now she has sworn herself into Harry's service and house forever. That is really sad.

2TuviaDulin9yThat's only a legal formality, though. Harry hates the wizard society and wouldn't use its laws against her, and he'd discourage others from acknowledging it. Still, Hermione (unlike Harry) cares what others think of her, so being surrounded by people who act as if she belongs to Harry is going to hurt her.
2Eugine_Nier9yHe's just (ab)used the laws of wizarding society to get Hermione out. I can certainly imagine him using his position over her if it is useful for solving the next crisis he has to deal with. Also, Harry has a dark side, it might also do things.
2GeorgieChaos8yThe laws of Wizarding society are, broadly speaking, insane. There is a vast gulf between twisting or breaking a rule that makes no sense and violating the trust of a friend like Hermione.

Sounded like marriage vows to me,

Can you please reread them instead of just going by memory? Here, I'll make it easy for you:

"Upon my life and magic, I swear service to the House of Potter, to obey its Master or Mistress, and stand at their right hand, and fight at their command, and follow where they go, until the day I die"

"I, Harry, heir and last scion of the Potters, accept your service, until the end of the world and its magic"

Now, please actually read the above sentences again, and tell me now whether they sound like marriage vows to you?

And if you still think they've gotten married, in short if you're arguing that P(they've gotten married)> 50%, then I'll put my money where my mouth is and bet you they haven't. I'll bet 10 of my dollars for every 1 of yours, up to a maximum of $10,000 of mine. That should be an easy way for you to make some money.

6lavalamp9yWell, after yesterday, I certainly won't be betting against you, even though my odds are (slightly) lower. My reading is that Harry intended to get married, because that's the only applicable law he knew of-- but McGonagall figured out what he was about to attempt and instead triggered some sort of fealty or adoption law. But I don't think it's totally inconceivable that the wizarding world has marriage vows that sound like that.
8ArisKatsaris9yAgreed mostly, but I don't think McGonagall figured out that he was about to propose marriage to Hermione. She just came up independently with the idea of inducting Hermione into House Potter; and of course she preferred to use a more age-appropriate (and less emotionally-charged) path than marriage. The alternate option of service, which Harry didn't even know existed.
4lavalamp9yI'm not sure how good McGonagall's model of Harry is, so maybe you're right, and she didn't figure out what he was planning. Hm. In my model of the wizard world, what McGonagall did was a totally obvious solution to every wizard in the room except Harry; everyone in the room not on Malfoy's side probably even came in expecting Lucius to extract this fealty vow or something similar from Hermione before Azkaban was mentioned-- it should have been fresh in their minds. So I kinda feel like Lucius must have picked up the idiot ball to utter this. I can't explain why he didn't think of the obvious counter (was he so fixated on Azkaban that the fealty thing never occurred to him this whole time?). Unless he was trying to get Hermione joined to House Potter, but that seems really unlikely. Perhaps he didn't think there was any way he could lose to an 11 year old and thus didn't try hard enough.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky9yI assumed the vow was obscure, ancient, Almost Never Done in modern times for good reasons (consider the content!), and that Lucius just wouldn't have imagined his model of Harry doing that with a mudblood girl. Would've been fun to see Lucius's expression if Harry had actually proposed marriage, but that wouldn't have fit quite as well.
4Blueberry9yThe problem is that I don't know enough about Magical Britain's culture and customs to make a good estimate. There's so much weird stuff going on there that there's not much that would surprise me. You are correct that taken completely out of context like that, they sound like service vows. And I'm biased because I want them to be marriage vows; after reading your posts I've updated in favor of service vows. I don't think P(marriage) > 50%. But you're offering me 10 against 1, and I am sure P(marriage) > 1/11. So I accept your bet. I'll put up $30 against your $300, to be judged either by an unambiguous statement in a future chapter of MoR, or by a comment on LW by Eliezer.
3ArisKatsaris9yIt's a deal on my part -- but I'll also understand/forgive/excuse you if you don't pay up, because I think Eliezer has effectively already confirmed my position in a comment, before I got to say "Deal".

So, new speculation: who are the sharp players in the Wizengamot who are drawing up lists on Harry?

They're not Lucius or Dumbledore, both of whom already know a great deal, and the former is too enraged to really be thinking beyond 'why did Voldemort just sacrifice all his wealth for a "friend"?'

I would be a little shocked if Umbridge was meant; she's so moronic in canon that even a MoR brain-upgrade still leaves her dim and bureaucratic, and she certainly doesn't match. And the powerful-wizard background is much more of a 'male' thing, to boot.

Mad-eye Moody could be expected to be making a list, but as far as I can tell he's not present and is remarkable enough that if he was, he would be mentioned. He's also apparently busy watching over & poisoning graves. In one chapter, Bones mentions he just retired, so he wouldn't be there in an Auror capacity. EDIT: Aftermath would seem to imply Moody was not there, because Harry didn't recognize the Moody in the Pensieve memory at all, despite him being quite striking.

Madam Bones seems too much on Dumbledore and Harry's side to be so suspicious, and not 'new' in any plot-meaningful sense. She's otherwise a decent enough candi... (read more)

7pedanterrific9yAmelia Bones is Director of the DMLE, not Crouch.
7Desrtopa9yNot just imply, I'm pretty sure that in the fourth book Dumbledore explicitly calls Bartemius Crouch "powerfully magical." The relevance of that may be limited if Eliezer hasn't read the book itself though.

Well, he's certainly on the list now.

4faul_sname9yMoody saw it though. The Eye of Vance sees everything.
7pedanterrific9yI don't think "The Eye of Vance saw the full globe of the world in every direction around him, no matter where it was pointing" necessarily means he can count the grains of rice in China without turning his head.
8faul_sname9yNot necessarily, but this does seem the sort of thing Moody would go out of his way to keep an eye (ha) on.
4Vaniver9yScrimgeour seems like a likely candidate for the strange male voice.

Or, depending on how the interrogation went, ScrimQuirMort.

So how many other ex-death-eaters now officially owe House Potter? Surely they can pay him.

7SkyDK9yIt would be a bad use of political capital considering how easy he could gain money in other ways while keeping a majority(? - at least combined with some help from Dumbledore's side) vote on pretty much whatever issue up his sleeve...

I wish to register my alarm at this:

This was actually intended as a dry run for a later, serious “Solve this or the story ends sadly” puzzle

Given that he was "amazed" at our performance this time, presumably an equivalent performance would pass the future test — but even if that's true it doesn't comfort me much.

I humbly beg our author to consider simply withholding updates, rather than issuing an ultimatum that may result in us never getting the "true" ending. "I won't post any more chapters until you solve this," rather than "I'm going to torch the last few years of your life if you're not smart enough."

4AspiringKnitter9yI agree, this is a bad idea. I didn't figure out the answer when it was just for fun; my performance will probably only get worse under stress (and there's not much farther to fall from "uh... well, maybe it has to do with destroying Dementors, I give up"). I know this shows no confidence in my own rationality, or that of the other readers, but can we please just have a normal story?

That's an interesting possibility, but I favour the interpretation that this is the source of dementors:

Even so, the most terrible ritual known to me demands only a rope which has hanged a man and a sword which has slain a woman; and that for a ritual which promised to summon Death itself - though what is truly meant by that I do not know and do not care to discover, since it was also said that the counterspell to dismiss Death had been lost.

It fits very nicely. Dementors (Death) were unkillable (undismissable) because the "true" patronus charm (counterspell) had been lost.

2MinibearRex9yCanon makes reference to fog being produced by dementors breeding, which doesn't sound like a light ritual or a respawning option. I don't know if Yudkowsky has kept this part.

Harry Potter is not so clever, part 2. (Perhaps I should call this "advice for Harry," to be less negative.)

"I accept your offer," said Harry's lips, without any hesitation, without any decision having been made; just as if the internal debate had been pretense and illusion, the true controller of the voice having been no part of it. "I should have the whole amount ready by the end of the month." It would take his arbitrage trick, but certainly the Headmaster would let him do that instead of going into debt to Malfoy.

Lucius Malfoy stood motionless, frowning down at Harry. "Who is she to you, then? What is she to you, that you would pay so much to keep her from harm?"

"My friend," the boy said quietly. "As is your son- I would have fought as hard and paid as much to keep him from Azkaban."

"Save it," Harry suggested.

"Let us all go home, indeed." His blue eyes were locked on Harry, as hard as sapphires.

Harry looked further up.

"This is how far I go for my friends, Lord Malfoy. And now that Hermione is safe, I would like your permission to visit Draco. "

Overall: what the heck is Harry's model of... (read more)

Harry may be an overachiever, but he's still 11 - he's allowed to be bad at manipulating people. He's still at the "All I have to do is out-clever everyone and I can take over the world" stage. He has the tools to pull it off much of the time, but he still thinks of his opponents as pieces, not as players, which is a pretty serious hole in his worldview when it comes to things like manipulating Lucius Malfoy.

8Viliam_Bur9yEven if he does his arbitrage trick, what benefit would he get from telling it to Malfoy in advance. Why share unnecessary information with a potential adversary? Why risk additional penalties if something unexpected happens and the arbitrage takes five weeks instead of four?
7kilobug9yI'm doubtful about the arbitrage trick to really work that smoothly - goblins will get suspicious quickly, and it'll probably be seen as a threat to the Statute of Secrecy and would lead to legal troubles from the wizarding side. It would have to be done slowly and quietly to go on, not to be rushed in a few months.
6Vaniver9yAlso problematic is that the Wizarding world undervalues Galleons and overvalues Sickles. If he can pay the debt in 1.7 million Sickles, then he's fine- but if he has to pay them in Galleons, and he just modified the Galleon-Sickle exchange rate to 50-1, then he's worse off. (He might have made enough from the arbitrage to pay back Malfoy, but maybe not.) Worst comes to worst, he asks Dumbledore to cure some rich muggles with cancer who are willing to pay. [edit]Remember, the trick only needs to work once. Take out 40k galleons, convert it to muggle gold (probably necessary, but maybe not), convert it to 50 times as much silver by weight, convert it to Sickles, and now he has (if they're the same weight coins) 2M Sickles, minus conversion losses. Hand off 1.7M of them to Lucius (or get them changed at Gringotts), and the debt is cleared. Now, Harry triples his money every time he does the trick- so he'll probably want to try it several times before losing a lot of his principal. But that's not a big issue.
9NihilCredo9yI think that the can of worms of why wizards don't immediately go cure world hunger etc. is best left to be opened near the end of the fic, if at all.

Actually, there's a fairly complicated question of why don't we immediately go cure world hunger. I mean, the production and logistics aspects wouldn't be very difficult compared to what today's industry can output on an everyday basis. I guess that it's 80% pure irrationality and only 20% politics.

9Alsadius9yYou mean IRL? It mostly boils down to "we've tried giving hungry people food, it doesn't work, and that's pretty much all the ideas we've got". It's a much messier problem than it seems at first glance, and it isn't all politics or insanity. To pick the most obvious, when you dump planes full of grain on the tarmac in Zimbabwe, what did you just do the finances of the local farmers who now need to compete with free? And what does that do to next year's crop?
6loserthree9yIt's an interest-free loan. Unless the "certain rights" Lucius has over HJPEV until graduation are troublesome, it is in probably HJPEV's best interest to delay paying the loan back as long as possible. Or unless, I suppose, he expects significant deflation before graduation. I don't think any of the HJPEV's plans that we know of are likely to result in deflation, quite the opposite in fact.
7Vaniver9yDumbledore was willing to send Hermione to Azkaban to prevent Lucius from getting those rights (well, and the money). It seems likely to me that they're troublesome.
3TimS9yOr that it doesn't fit Dumbledore's narrative.

After this chapter, a lot of people are going to deduce that Harry was in fact the person who broke out Bellatrix. Including, probably Dumbledore.

Quirrell will likely be forced to show his hand when Dumbledore accuses him of having engineered the escape. Somehow, this turns into Quirrell leaving his post. End of story seems imminent :(

No. Mind the Conservation of Detail.

Harry doesn't know that Dumbledore's patronus recognizes Harry's patronus. This is a trap EY has laid for Harry.

For no internal reasons, but for story reasons, Dumbledore will not figure out that Harry was in Axkaban until the next time both he and Harry have their patronuses up at the same time. It is set up to be a shocking reveal, maybe a cliffhanger.

Ha!

Remember when H&C told Hermione that Harry would sacrifice her if she became inconvenient to his plans for global domination? Guess Hermione can tell him to kiss her ass on that one.

I doubt she remembers any of that conversation.

You misread the passage. McGonaggal helped Harry take Hermione into the sworn service of House Potter. A very feudal type of thing, but certainly no marriage.

She just doesn't know when to talk and when to keep her mouth shut.

You're so upset that McGonaggal's intervention prevented Harry from asking Hermione's hand in marriage? You're a Ravenclaw girl at heart, I see. :-)

Lucius Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "By the report I received, you cannot cast the Patronus Charm, and Dumbledore knows this. The power of a single Dementor nearly killed you. You would not dare venture near Azkaban in your own person -"

Has Lucius not spoken to Draco in private yet?

If he hasn't... when he does, and tells Draco what happened at the trial, and finds that Draco isn't surprised (or at least, not more than usual when it comes to Harry)... what will he think then?

Even if he knew, saying that would be a good way to try to get Harry to reveal something. What he would have heard from Draco is that Harry has a super-bright Patronus whose form he keeps secret; he would be curious. So I don't think this quote is strong evidence that Lucius hasn't heard about the Patronus from Draco, since it is pretty likely that he would say something like this even if he has.

EDIT: Actually, since he believes Harry is Voldemort, he probably thinks the Patronus light he showed Draco was an illusion, and not useful for getting out of Azkaban at all. If he thinks Harry is Voldemort he's unlikely, then, to pry for information about it in this way.

5Alsadius9yI expect the amount of time he had was not sufficient for a full report on everything Draco knows of Harry. Perhaps the Patronuses didn't come up? Seems an odd omission, but not an impossible one.

Lucius didn't ask if Harry could cast a Patronus, I could buy that. But Draco's Patronus didn't come up? Harry's vow of vengeance against Narcissa's killer didn't come up? That whole thing was possibly the single most important interaction Draco and Harry have had, next to when Harry tricked Draco into sacrificing his belief in blood purity.

The next chapter is going to be horribly depressing, you know. Harry is going to have to have it explained to him why it's a bad idea to do things that are a bad idea. Otherwise this arc would have the wrong moral...

On the other hand, it's now in Dumbledore's interest to see Harry make a lot of money quickly in order to discharge the debt, which means he's far more likely to approve of things that otherwise would be considered unacceptable, like:

  • 1) Tricks with the Time Turner involving lotteries, stock markets, and the like.
  • 2) The gold/silver arbitrage idea.
  • 3) Personal appearance fees and other financial trading on his fame as The Boy Who Lived.
  • 4) Calling in debts owed by other Imperiused or supposedly-Imperiused victims of Voldemort.
  • 5) Dumbledore himself using the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone to make a lot of gold.

In short, a sixty thousand Galleon debt, while it feels huge, is not obviously a major obstacle given the number of possible solutions already implicitly presented in HPMoR, and it would almost seem a cheat for it to be one

That wiping out the debt easily might have its own negative consequences, on the other hand, is potentially interesting.

Dunno about that. The debt will have concsequences, certainly, but Hermione is not in Azkaban.

Yes, it's super sad to let a little girl be tortured to death. But there is a cost large enough that it is not worth paying to prevent it, even if the cost is only in terms of mere cash, political capital, personal reputation as not being more fearsome than Fear itself, keeping important military secrets for the coming war secret, and the enmity of those you failed to lose to. That's the meaning of the phrase "Taboo Tradeoffs", it's that stating you kept Hermione out of Azkaban is not enough justification.

Of course, if he had counted the cost, he would have been an awful hypocrite. Recall what he said after Hermione rescued him from the Dementor:

I'll say that no matter what it ends up costing you to have kissed me, don't ever doubt for a second that it was the right thing to do.

At least he's holding himself to the same standard, even if it's a bad one.

6Desrtopa9yA lot of people would pay a lot of money for a reputation for being more fearsome than fear itself. Speaking entirely in terms of money, I think that this was probably a clear cut good idea, because in the long run, for Harry, money is likely not to be a limited resource in practical terms. Sure, millions of dollars worth of gold could theoretically be used to save a lot more people, but Harry doesn't have management of his account for the time being. By the time he's old enough to actually access his account at will, his debt to Lucius is likely to be a triviality, or already dispensed with.
4NihilCredo9yThe math here depends entirely on what the "certain rights" Lucius has over Harry are. Were the debt a purely financial issue, saving Hermione would be a no-brainer. Did those rights allow Lucius to realistically cripple Harry's efforts to fix the world, not saving Hermione would be a no-brainer. We still don't know, although the fact that Dumbledore ultimately went along with it suggests that it's closer to the former than the latter.

There are reasons for avoiding being hit with an anti-polyjuice spell even if you aren't polyjuiced. (1) The spell would reveal that you aren't polyjuiced, which might be useful information for your adversaries if you're masquerading as someone else by other means. (2) If your policy is only to counter such spells when they would have revealed something, then your decision to counter or not is itself revealing. Better to have a general policy of not letting people probe you at all.

I've seen a few variations on "why does Lucius prefer vengeance to maintaining/expanding his political power?" First of all, for someone like Lucius, what's the point of power if you can't get stuff you want, like vengeance for your family members? Like how it's pointless to save if you're never going to spend.

And second, something that's on my mind because I just finished The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley. Emotions like vengeance evolved for a reason. Harry sees it as a weakness of Lucius's that he would give up anything politically to avenge his son. And it's true, that can be manipulated by people who want to see him lose his political power. However, it is also a powerful deterrent to his enemies. If Lucius is publically known as someone who would stop at nothing to avenge his family, then those that would provoke him will be few and far between, and he will probably not have to make the sacrifices that his vengefulness commits him to.

When he accused Dumbledore in public of the murder of his wife, even at political cost, I'm sure everyone got the message: "if I hurt Malfoy's family, even if I make sure it would be very politically costly for him to pursue me f... (read more)

I think that's an inescapable result of the idiot world J. K. Rowling made. There is just so much in cannon that makes so little sense.

Why does Dumbledore not give a quick Summary of the worst consequences of being in debt to Lucius Malfoy? It's hard to see how that could necessitate telling secrets that cannot be revealed in public, the laws involved should already be known. Naming a few of the "certain rights" Lucius would have shouldn't take more time than Dumbledore actually spends trying to convince Harry.

6Anubhav9yFor that matter, why didn't Dumbledore mention the Imperius debt when they were talking about debts? Dumbledore's being awfully incompetent... Wonder why that would be.

I suspect that everyone discounts the "I was Imperiused!" claim for being an obvious lie, and thus discounts the implications of it being officially true. It's certainly a plausible hole in worldview - ignoring the implications of a false statement being "true" is an easy mistake to make.

6Desrtopa9yIt seems like a pretty glaring one to me; I argued in the tvtropes discussion thread that I didn't think this solution was going to be implemented, because I found it hard to believe that Dumbledore wouldn't have thought of it. It was actually the first thing that came to my mind when I was reading chapter 80, and trying to think of holds Harry had on Lucius; when you know someone's been lying, catching them out in the consequences of it is one of the handiest ways to gain advantage over them. By the time I finished the chapter, I had already dismissed it on the grounds that if Dumbledore, who's been maneuvering against Lucius in the realm of politics for over a decade, hadn't suggested it, there was probably some reason why it wouldn't work. The fact that he would let such a clear opportunity to use his opponent's deceptions against him slip has forced me to revise my estimate of his cunning considerably downwards.

Dumbledore may simply not have considered Hermione WORTH the debt.

I think Dumbledore is more into the "general wanting to win a war" mindset. In that mindset, you don't spend a trump card like a blood debt from one major enemy just to save one life. So he shouldn't (in his pov) speak about that issue to Harry.

Or just that he's pissed with Harry for putting himself in Malfoy's debt.

Or for painting a giant bulls-eye on himself.

The icy glare could really mean anything.

2FiftyTwo9yOR for doing a stupidly flashy solution when an easier one was available, which he will now berate harry about in the next chapter....

Eliezer has used that line in nonfiction too; I'm very confident that Harry's pro-immortality stance is endorsed by the author, but that the "induction proof" is meant rhetorically and should not be construed to imply infinite certainty.

"I mean, suppose I came in here with a ton of silver. Could I get a ton of Sickles made from it?"

"For a fee, Mr. Potter-Evans-Verres." The goblin watched him with glittering eyes. "For a certain fee. [...]

"Give me a wild guess. I won't hold Gringotts to it."

"A twentieth part of the metal would well pay for the coining."

8bogdanb9yAlso, IIRC McGonnagal was there, presumably she would have said something if Griphook was obviously lying or omitting something important, as suggested above. (Also, I got the impression goblins were really serious about money.)

For what it's worth, I interpreted this exchange as Dumbledore recognizing why it would be bad for someone to read Harry's mind. In other words, a competent plotter who didn't have society's interest at heart could implement Harry's ideas successfully to cause significant harm. I didn't take the exchange to show that D believed the ideas wouldn't work basically as intended with a minimum of unanticipated consequences.

In short, Lucius Malfoy shouldn't be able to read Harry's mind to gain a destabilizing amount of wealth.

[-][anonymous]9y 13

Prophecy update!

Like most readers, I took Trelawney's magical clock for a listening device. What if it transmits instead of receives?

We've seen Dumbledore manipulating events into storylike patterns. He was the instigator of the three-way tie, and he precipitated Snape's fall and eventual redemption by the power of love.

In his Fortress of Regrets, Dumbledore gave the surface appearance of being terribly reluctant to allow his decisions to cause the deaths of others. But in the last chapter he was ready to let a small child be tortured to death - with much trembling reluctance, of course - in order to preserve his plans.

Could he have caused Trelawney to deliver the prophecy, triggering the other half of Snape's destiny, while feeding the Potters to Voldemort to create his orphan hero?

Dumbledore meant for Voldemort to have been killed by Lily's sacrifice. He believes it happened. Instead, Voldemort, taking the obvious trap (thanks Vladimir!) as a challenge to his wit (thanks Gwern!), pretended to lose (thanks buybuydandavis!), while fulfilling the letter of the prophecy in a manner maximally advantageous to himself.

He disarmed the trap by goading Lily into attacking him. He left a bu... (read more)

[-][anonymous]9y 15

Oh hey. And we have a confession.

"I'm sorry to say, Harry, that I am responsible for virtually everything bad that has ever happened to you."

I actually noticed the dissonance when I read this, that Dumbledore had apparently overlooked the biggest and most obvious tragedy of Harry's life. But I didn't realize what it meant. Whoops.

5FAWS9yAnd more significantly: There aren't really any other good candidates for what he might have done to cause this particular problem (even if he felt responsibility on account of e g. not having been able to beat Voldemort permanently himself it seems unlikely to phrase it like that).
8alex_zag_al9yUnnecessary detail, may or may not be the case. If he was aware of the trap, it would not matter whether this disarmed it; he just needed to not cast Avada Kedavra on Harry. Harry's memory of the event does not end with Voldemort casting the Killing Curse on him.
4alex_zag_al9yAvada Kedavra leaves no mark, but getting killed by Lily's ritual sacrifice might. Even so, that the body was burned, which makes identification harder, is suggestive that it is not really Voldemort's.
6[anonymous]9yYeah, I'm less confident in the notion that Voldemort survived Godric's Hollow, and it's not integral to the hypothesis, but that's the obvious explanation for a burnt body, and the last few chapters have given me a new respect for obvious explanations.
3Eponymuse9yIt's also difficult to see why Voldemort would want to pretend to die at Godric's Hollow. He was winning the war. Why pretend to lose, throw away what he had built up to then, and try an entirely different approach to gaining power? I think the more obvious explanation for the burnt body is that whatever ritual magic protected Harry was very destructive to Voldemort. I think it is clear that some ritual magic is involved here; how else can we explain the danger of Harry's and Quirrell's magic interacting? And the violence of their magics' interaction in Azkaban makes it plausible that if Voldemort were to cast a killing curse directly at Harry, he might end up as a burnt corpse.

Ministry-issued textbooks might not have the best dramatic pacing.

3Eliezer Yudkowsky9yThe kids know what's in the cloak.

By this point Harry Potter had entirely forgotten the existence of Professor McGonagall, who had been sitting there this whole time undergoing a number of interesting changes of facial expression which Harry had not been looking at because he was distracted. [...]

So Harry, who at this point had a fair amount of adrenaline in his bloodstream, startled and jumped quite visibly when Professor McGonagall, her eyes now blazing with impossible hope and the tears on her cheek half-dried, leapt to her feet and cried, "With me, Mr. Potter!" and, without waiting for a reply, tore down the stairs that led to the bottom platform where waited a chair of dark metal.

It took a moment, but Harry ran after; though it took him longer to reach the bottom, after Professor McGonagall vaulted half the stairs with a strange catlike motion and landed with the astonished-looking Auror trio already pointing their wands at her. [...]

"Both of you stop being silly," Professor McGonagall said in her firm Scottish accent (it was strange how much that helped). "Mr. Potter, hold out your wand so that Miss Granger's fingers can touch it. Miss Granger, repeat after me. Upon my life and magic

... (read more)

Progress of Eliezer vs JKR, Fvapr Ryvrmre unf fgngrq gung gur fgbel jba'g or ybatre guna gur frira obbxf, cre jbeq, naq gung vg'f zber guna unysjnl qbar

2Paulovsk9yI don't get it pretty clear. Could you explain in few words?
6cultureulterior9yThe individual colored patches are the five first JKR books, and the overlapping patch is The Methods of Rationality, plotted by chapter and book, vs the number of total words written. MoR is now longer than all the first four books put together. The reason I made the graph was I was wondering if those two individual EY statements (rot13'd in my statement above) were would add up to make more than one bit of information, but they did not. If Eliezer finishes Methods of Rationality at 150% of current length, we'd end up midway into the sixth book.

A always thought the false ending was better.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for stories where everyone lives happily ever after. :-)

3Alex_Altair9yI agree. The "false" ending definitely ranks higher in my CEV than the "true" ending.

"Enough, Mr. Potter," said Professor McGonagall. "We shall be late for afternoon Transfiguration as it is. And do come back here, you're still terrifying that poor Dementor." She turned to the Aurors. "Mr. Kleiner, if you would!"

Is it just me, or does that NOT sound like someone who just found out that dementors, thought to be manifestations of fear, are afraid of her student? I'm guessing it's one of two things:

  • She's so relieved that one of her student isn't going to be tortured to death that she isn't really processing everything else that's going on or

  • She thinks the whole thing is a trick Harry and Dumbledore came up with, and dementors aren't really afraid of Harry.

Either one could lead to a very entertaining aftermath.

Unlike most of the room she knows Harry well enough that even him scaring a Dementor, no matter how surprising, wouldn't make her personally afraid of Harry; she might be worried about what trouble he could cause but she knows perfectly well that he wouldn't do anything to her. Besides it was less of a surprise for her since Dumbledore already told her Harry had developed a new charm.

[-][anonymous]9y 11

Or, she's simply ceased to be surprised at the extent of Harry's abilities outpacing her expectations of them.

McGonagall is House Head of Gryffindor.

She is just that unflappable.

6pedanterrific9yYou have no idea how tempted I am to go back through the story and come up with a montage of Minerva sputtering incoherently / tearing her hair out / sticking her fingers in her ears and going la la la / at a loss for words / blurting something inadvisable / etc.
5erratio9yOr, you know, relief + dry sense of humour = exactly that kind of reaction as a coping mechanism. I am reminded of why I prefer British comedy to American - in American comedies everyone tends to be very obvious and melodramatic, while in British the tendency is more towards understated and deadpan. McGonagall's reaction fits perfectly into the latter category, trivialising the entire situation rather than mugging for the audience. (Not that some of the humour in the earlier chapters hasn't been overblown melodrama. Harry's parents leaving the room to have hysterics stands out as the most obvious example)
2summerstay9yFawlty Towers is a good example of the understated and deadpan nature of British comedy.
2bogdanb9yOr, she’s the head of Gryffindor, and she felt the need to at least appear to put up a brave front in support of her students.
2Normal_Anomaly9yOr, in addition to everyone else's reasons, she's already working hard to maintain a calm demeanor for the sake of Hermione and Harry.

Prediction: Harry will try to explain the general concept of arbitrage to Dumbledore, and it will be blocked by the Interdict of Merlin.

Because otherwise, certain things about the wizarding economy make no sense at all.

[-][anonymous]9y 20

Funny, but unfortunately people telling other people things is exactly what the Interdict of Merlin doesn't forbid.

9FAWS9yThe Interdict of Merlin blocking transmission of non-magical knowledge between living minds?
6[anonymous]9yThe magics of Echo Gnomics from the Counterweight Continent?

"Romantic?" Hermione said. "They're both boys!"

"Wow," Daphne said, sounding a little shocked. "You mean Muggles really do hate that? I thought that was just something the Death Eaters made up."
Chapter 42: Courage

In other words, the wizarding world is sufficiently accepting of same-sex relationships that Death Eaters could use the idea that Muggles are homophobic as a somewhat believable slander against Muggles.

I'm loving the idea that time travel is being proposed here as the simpler, less over-engineered solution to making a bunch of money.

I love Chapter 81, but it would have been way better if Draco was the one accused of murder, so Harry could marry Draco.

5thomblake9yI smell omake
5Anubhav9yHe didn't marry [http://lesswrong.com/lw/b7s/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/65p5] Hermione.
3anotherblackhat9yHe also didn't get Hermione pregnant.

Something I just noticed on a second read-through - the reuse of the word "riddle" in context here seems like a reminder to Lucius of who he thinks Harry really is, and this is not the first time it's come up when Harry is exposed to Dementors. Perhaps this lends credence to the theory that riddle is the "strange word" he learned when first exposed?

6Percent_Carbon9yVoldemort used the word to tease as Quirrell and as the cloak and hat. He probably did it in the last war, too. Lucius may think that Voldemort is teasing him just like he used it, when Harry says it. It's not a strange word, though. That's probably so we know the spell being cast was not AK.

I think my favorite part of this update comes not from the chapter, but from the Author's Notes:

"If you write sufficiently good fanfiction, you can realize your romantic dreams!"

(Although "Make him go away" is either tied for the position or a close second.)

I have a suspicion that the average fanfic-created relationship is not caused by anything best described as "good".

This is another case of an issue that's supposed to be mysterious to the characters, but not to the readers. We know what actually happened: the Sorting Hat said "SLYTHERIN!" to try to scare the crap out of Harry, to make his life flash before his eyes, to make him think that his hopes and dreams were ruined, so he would get serious and vow right then and there not to become the next Dark Lord. But the Hat actually, truly meant him to go to Ravenclaw.

Harry acknowledges that this is what happened: "It had been an awfully cruel prank the Hat had played on him, but you couldn't argue with the results on consequentialist grounds."

No other characters know what happened, so it adds to Harry's mystique for them, but we, who saw the whole thing from Harry's point of view, ought to know better.

4Locke9yBut Harry is a Slytherin. At his very core is his ambition to become immortal and reorganize the universe to his satisfaction. He wants knowledge, and he wants it for its own sake, but it's not his deepest wish. If he looked into the Mirror of Erised he'd see himself as the benevolent and omnipotent lord of the universe, not himself surrounded by books.
3Eneasz9yHarry is wrong sometimes. From his point of view Quirrell is awesome, and engaging his Dark Side is a perfectly valid option whenever he runs into a problem hard enough (despite his vow to not become the next Dark Lord). He acts more Slytherin than Ravenclaw most of the time. If Harry had an image of himself as belonging to Ravenclaw and not Slytherin, and the Hat told him "You deserve this too" and then yelled out "SLYTHERIN!"... and then after a few seconds of silence yelled out "Just Kidding, RAVENCLAW!" - given that Harry knows nothing about any of the major players, and has no idea how powerful Dumbledore is and his usual crazy-style of plotting - than to him the most probable explanation is likely "The hat must've played a cruel prank on me to teach me a lesson." But if he had knowledge of the politics and players in Hogwarts, didn't have such a strong self-identity as Ravenclaw, and hadn't had his "prank" mental network readily available due to the Hat scolding him about it just a few minutes beforehand, a neutral interpretation of the facts would've placed at least an equally high probability on someone meddling with his sorting, as on the Hat played its first prank in over 600 years.
675th9yYour "neutral interpretation of the facts" apparently ignores the facts that the Sorting Hat has never been self-aware before, that Harry is aware that the Hat is self-aware now, and that the Hat is borrowing a lot of knowledge and a little bit of personality from Harry's own brain at the time of the prank. I just fail to see how you can take an explanation that fits 100% of the known facts, and then somehow, by applying , you come up with a needlessly complicated and speculative idea that assumes the existence of secrets we have no clues about.
[-][anonymous]9y 10

Just an odd thought about something Draco said in Chapter 48:

Before them was a small empty place of stone set against the night sky. Not a roof like the one he'd dropped Harry from, but a tiny and proper courtyard, far above the ground. With proper railings, elaborate traceries of stone that flushed seamlessly into the stone floor... How so much artistry had been infused into the creation of Hogwarts was something that still awed Draco every time he thought about it. There must have been some way to do it all at once, no one could have detailed so much piece by piece, the castle changed and every new piece was like that. It was so far beyond the wizardry of these fading days that no one would have believed it if they hadn't seen the proof in Hogwarts itself.

...is - is Hogwarts sentient? If it's animate, capable of creative expression, and self-constructing, it's not out of the question that Hogwarts might be in some sense intelligent or alive. It'd also explain some things about the Hogwarts security system, to say nothing about the Room of Requirement, in canon.

A matter with the Comed-Tea that was bugging me for a while:

Chapter 14:

SO THAT'S HOW THE COMED-TEA WORKS! Of course! The spell doesn't force funny events to happen, it just makes you feel an impulse to drink right before funny things are going to happen anyway!

Hypotheses: Comed-Tea on person = impulse to drink, Comed-Tea not on person = no impulse to drink.

According to Chapter 12:

Harry couldn't help but feel the urge to drink another Comed-Tea. (And when he didn't...) Harry inhaled his own saliva and went into a coughing fit just as all eyes turned toward him.

So no matter what, even if you don't end up drinking it, you will get the Impulse before something funny happens.

Chapter 46:

I have been saving them for special occasions; there is a minor enchantment on them to ensure they are drunk at the right time. This is the last of my supply, but I do not think there will ever come a finer occasion.

So Harry has used up all of his Comed-Tea. (edit: it appears that Harry actually has tons left unless he's not mentioning some he drank/gave away, look at bottom of post)

...

WHY? WHYYY?!

It is apparent that you'll still get the impulse to drink whether or not you do end up drinki... (read more)

6bogdanb9yChapter 17: He doesn’t seem to choke after this, but there follow several occasions where might have, had he been drinking. Anyway, the sentence means he kind of does use the Comed-Tea to kind-of-sort-of-predict the future, albeit not systematically. Regarding the counting, his line in chapter 14 might be meant to suggest he had been doing more experiments “not on camera”. There are only three occasions where he’s seen using it until then; he shouldn’t have been that frustrated about the explanation after that few tries.
4Eponymuse9yUnless he actually followed through with saying that Voldemort is still alive, this wouldn't be enough.
2TheOtherDave9yEarlier thoughts on Comed-Tea here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2txy?context=1#2txy]

We know this not to be true since Quirrel changed back into his normal appearance when the polyjuice wore off in Azkaban while he was unconscious.

I don't get how a cunning Slytherin like him can discard such an advantage for pure vengeance over an "attempt" which didn't do any real harm.

On the contrary:

And Draco was getting angry again. "Dumbledore killed Mother, it's not enough to just say it's sad! I don't understand what you think you have to do, but the Malfoys have to take revenge!" Not avenging the deaths of family went beyond weakness, beyond dishonor, you might as well not exist.

Lucius never meant for Harry to accept the monetary bargain. This is clear from his reaction. He wanted his revenge, and Harry was interfering.

Transfiguration is non-permanent, and any gold sold to Gringotts would be immediately tested for transfiguration. Additionally, trying to counterfeit gets the goblin nation to declare war on you. (Ch 15)

I am really interested in how this is all going to work back at Hogwarts. Harry has already been pushing the envelope in the past, but this was a public power display. Draco's out for a while, Hermione will be considered a murderess by significant portions of the school (and apparently she's now magically sworn to obey Harry?), Quirrel is doing... something... and all the schemers and plotters are scheming and plotting on overdrive. I think the money will really be the least of Harry's concerns before this tangle is unwoven. I sort of enjoy learning little bits about Eliezer in the author's notes. "Why yes, I do lead the same sort of life as fanfiction characters, thank you for noticing," made me laugh quietly to myself. This is doubtless because I am a gossip-monger and a hopless platonic voyeur of other peoples lives.

4buybuydandavis9yThat's attempted murderess and Minion#1 in Harry's Dark Army. Maybe Hermione needs to join Chaos Legion now. I don't see how she can be credible as a leader in opposition to Harry anymore, even in a game.
4Percent_Carbon9yUnless EY adds it in, Harry forgot to snap his fingers.

But he threatened to, and that's almost as bad.

4bogdanb9ySnapping fingers means “I can do anything”. Saying “Boo” means “I scare Dementors”.
3Armok_GoB9yHe doesn't need a miracle to scare dementors.

My working theory for Dumbledore's emphasis on story logic is that it's a pragmatic decision supporting several different lines of influence.

First, we know he's pretending to be a lot crazier than he is: he acts like a character in a roleplaying game with "Insanity" marked down in the flaws section of his character sheet, not someone with an actual personality disorder, and going out of his way to act like Gandalf fits in fairly well with that.

Second, he spends a lot of his time working with kids, who're probably a lot more familiar with stor... (read more)

3[anonymous]9yI like this. More support from the text: the narrator draws a distinction [http://hpmor.com/chapter/81] between wizards who have walked the paths of power and everyone else. According to the narrator, it's the latter who apply story-reasoning to real life. Dumbledore is one of the former. ETA: This too. Which is a downright strange thing to say if you think Mr. Potter is the one with the prophesied "POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD". It's exactly what you'd say if you understood that the power of stories was a power you wielded over other people, and your hero was just another of your pawns.
2Eponymuse9yPerhaps its not such a strange thing to say if you don't think Mr. Potter knows about the prophecy, and are trying to correct his insubordination. In the following chapters, Dumbledore doesn't act as though he has decided Harry is unsuitable as a hero. Rather than trying to replace him, Dumbledore begins to confide in him. Does Nornagest's explanation of Dumbledore's relationship with story-book reasoning affect your previous analysis? If you agree that Dumbledore feigns a story-book persona, rather than taking story-book logic seriously, then doesn't it seem strange that he would hatch such a plot? Note that his manipulation of the last battle in December is consistent with having realistic view of the world. Yes, Dumbledore did manage to acheive a "story-book outcome," but he clearly didn't expect this to happen---he had a contingency plan.

I think I figured out how Dumbledore knew about Harry wanting to change the rules of Quiddich. Instead of reading student minds he used the cloak:

This is the Cloak of Invisibility [...] Your father lent it to me to study shortly before he died, and I confess that I have received much good use of it over the years.

(Emphasis mine. Well, of course, that he would use it is obvious and the note is not proof of anything, but that’s what triggered the idea. Also, it makes a lot of sense that Harry’s father would lend the cloak to Dumbledore for study.)

If he d... (read more)

Edit: While some points may remain useful for the sake of reference, this theory is disproved in Chapter 82, and Aberforth's death no longer lacks narrative purpose.

Who killed Narcissa?

Suspects:

  • Dumbledore

  • Bones

  • Lucius

  • Voldemort

  • Someone else

HJPEV tells us that this doesn't fit the headmaster's style. His style is curiously consistent.

There is one offhand remark, vengeance, and a practical cold-heartedness favoring Bones. "Why not Bones?" is only a little better than no argument at all.

Lucius is presented as a devoted family man. It wou... (read more)

9Eponymuse9yAlso there is the fact (mentioned by someone else, sorry I forget who) that Narcissa's sister, Bellatrix, murdered Bones' brother. Edit: I am an idiot, you already mentioned this. Bringing in Aberforth is a really interesting idea. Now that I think about it, even given the wizarding wars, it is remarkable that so many siblings have died or nearly died: * Albus/Aberforth * Bellatrix/Narcissa * Bones/her brother (who, exactly?) * Petunia/Lily The last one is interesting with the role of survivor exchanged as well, since there is a hint that Petunia may have threatened suicide in order to convince Lily to brew the beauty potion.
4buybuydandavis9yAlso, Bones is the one who speaks up to stop Dumbledore from "confessing" to killing Narcissa. I think it's Bones. Too many coincidences otherwise.
2hairyfigment9yI disagree. The last part is an inference, and I think we have more evidence that the killing prevented any peace between Lucius and Dumbledore in Voldemort's absence. (I don't know how much stress to put on this, but we learn that Draco thinks the death had this effect in the same chapter where he tells us to understand strange plots by looking at the outcomes. Seems at least 90% certain the author meant us to suspect Voldemort when he wrote that.) Now, Donny just pointed out [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/b7s/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/669j] that Voldemort could have faked his death entirely by, say, transfiguring some chickens and burning them. We also know that his treatment of Bellatrix ensured her devotion to him would not count as a happy memory and would thus continue in Azkaban. I think he intended this effect, meaning he planned for the possibility of seeming to lose. It sounds like he planned for that from the start. Setting fire to a chicken back in Chapter 17 should increase P(Dumbledore did it, and is a sadist). But supposedly DD's weakness lies in doing evil "For the Greater Good," not in having fond memories of the time he burned a woman to death. Seems more likely to me that he suspects Voldemort faked a burned body (per Donny's guess), but can't say so because he has no convincing explanation for why V hasn't visibly acted since then. So he just taught Harry to doubt such appearances.

+100. Prudence is really more of a Slytherin virtue.

My prediction doesn't seem to have paid off in anything but karma, so I'm wondering how Eliezer's clue about Harry seeing the members of the Wizingamot as player characters has played out or if we're going to see something of the sort in future chapters.

The problem is that he did not - he treated them as a passive audience without any consideration of how they view him. So now some of them have reached the same conclusion as Lucius, and think he is a case of bodysnatching. Possession is a real possibility in the universe he inhabits, and he is showing all the signs. That is quite likely to get him killed by people with the best of intentions. At best, I am expecting kidnapping attempts aimed at extracting voldemort from his host. Also, Harry really should listen to Malfoy. Scaring Lucius is not a good idea.

4Eliezer Yudkowsky9yThat hadn't been meant to be a clue - it's fulfilled immediately after, when Harry starts seeing them as subjects of moral judgment.

Can we add the 'harry_potter' discussion tag to this post?

(Contrary to what the post text says, as of right now this post does not show up on the list of Harry Potter discussion posts.)

"You can't put a price on a human life."

"I agree, but unfortunately reality has already put a price on human life, and that price is much less than 5 million dollars. By refusing to accept this, you are only refusing to make an informed decision about which lives to purchase."

"Yes," said Dumbledore, as he descended to the bottom of the dark stone stairs. "Let us all go home, indeed." His blue eyes were locked on Harry, as hard as sapphires.

It suddenly occurs to me that Dumbledore has seen two interactions between Harry and a Dementor. In the first one, it almost destroys him. In the second, he casts a Patronus that destroys it. Neither would seem to provide the kind of evidence that you would need to confidently assume that other Dementors would run away from you if you said "Boo" to them.

So, is this enough evidence for Dumbledore to decide that he's wrong about who broke Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban?

Doing something stupid, or just being an idiot in general isn't the same as holding the idiot ball.

the person carrying the idiot ball is often acting out of character, misunderstanding something that could be cleared up by asking a single reasonable question or performing a simple problem-solving action, but that he isn't doing solely because the writers don't want him to. It's almost as if the character is being willfully stupid or obtuse.

It varied. Some countries used a bimetallic standard with fixed exchange rates, some used one as the standard and let the other float. There's even been trimetallic(gold/silver/copper) at times.

It's actually been a political issue which of those to use more recently than you'd expect(and no, I don't mean Ron Paul) - the 1896 US Presidential election was fought in significant part on a Democrat plan to move to a bimetallic standard away from straight gold, which was in the day an inflationary move designed to help indebted farmers. If you've ever heard of ... (read more)

If Harry is Voldemort in hiding, and Harrymort needs Hermione for something, Lucius should absolutely get out of the deal. Lucius is not a supporter of Voldemort per se, he allied himself with Voldemort because he thought he could get an advantage out of it. Possibly he regretted it deeply when it cost him his wife. And this new Voldemort seems likely to cost him his son? Lucius should do what he can to destroy him while he's weak and ensure he never becomes strong.

So, Dementors Part Deux.

First, because someone had to say it:

Harry took all the silver emotion that fueled his Patronus Charm and shoved it at the Dementor; and expected Death's shadow to flee from him -

-and as Harry did that, he flung his hands up and shouted "BOO!"

The void retreated sharply away from Harry until it came up against the dark stone behind.

In the hall there was a deathly silence.

...And to everyone but Harry, that deathly silence seemed to say "Please do not punish this one, my Dark Liege!"

Harry turned his back on the e

... (read more)
3Anubhav9yProbably just a cloaked and hooded figure. Next you'll be wondering why the robes in the picture don't decay.

April 1991 price of silver was $3.9707/oz troy, gold was $358.38/oz troy. That's a 90:1 silver-gold ratio, ounce to ounce.

Now, the Sickle-Galleon ratio is 17:1. But a Galleon is larger than a Sickle, by a significant amount, as can be seen here; , and gold is denser than silver, by a significant amount. Assuming the coins are similar thickness, the Galleon is about 1.7 times larger than the Sickle, and about 3.1 times heavier. So the ratio by weight is around 5.4:1 silver-to-gold.

That means each cycle of arbitrage is a multiplication by, well, we'll ro... (read more)

Time Braid is far, far better than Chunin Exam Day. For many reasons, including not being written by a sociopath.

It's easy to do an arbitrage chain a couple times, but people will start to get suspicious fast.

Suspicious? Sure, but will they care? He is dealing with Gringotts, or more specifically with specific goblins at Gringotts. They will be following their job specifications, probably their legal obligation, giving their company a profit and adhering to tradition. Gringotts wins, Harry wins, law is followed.

The people who lose are anyone who has invested in wizard cash (which is being inflated). But they aren't involved in the transaction and don't lose enoug... (read more)

3faul_sname9yIn the early 1990s, gold was around $400/oz and silver was around $5/oz. Which is an 80:1 price difference. Considering that in the wizarding world, it is only 17:1, he can make about 4.5:1 each time. 5 times of doing that with 100 galleons will yield 180000 galleons, which he needs 60k of. Shouldn't be too much trouble. It might be even better, considering the possibility that there might be more bounties he can collect.

Chapter 6:

"I am unlikely ever to forget it. Thank you, Harry, that does make me feel better about entrusting you with certain things. Goodbye for now."

Harry turned to go, into the Leaky Cauldron and out toward the Muggle world.

As his hand touched the back door's handle, he heard a last whisper from behind him.

"Hermione Granger."

"What?" Harry said, his hand still on the door.

"Look for a first-year girl named Hermione Granger on the train to Hogwarts."

"Who is she?"

There was no answer, and when Harry turned

... (read more)
6pedanterrific9yTo add another data point: When I read that, and after some subsequent events, I couldn't quite manage to ignore the fact that Quirrell was in the Leaky Cauldron at the time.
3Percent_Carbon9yPerhaps you should. McGonagall said what she meant to say, and then she said goodbye. Also, McGonagall doesn't do the Batman Exit at any other point in the fic or the source.
5ArisKatsaris9yThe way I see it, she then had a last minute thought that the loneliness avid book-reader Harry mentioned and the loneliness she saw in avid book-reader Hermione might be healed if they met each other. But she didn't want to say anything more, because it'd be inappropriate to actually discuss another student to Harry. I think Eliezer just being silly with the dramatic-ness of the thing has a higher prior than Dumbledore going around invisible and playing ventriloquist to make him think that McGonagall told him to find Hermione -- especially when Dumbledore could have accomplished just as much by e.g. telling McGonagall to tell Harry to find Hermione. (And there's no other player at this stage, neither Quirrel, nor Snape, nor Lucius, that would know or care about Hermione at this point. It's unlikely that even Dumbledore knew anything about her beyond that she was a new Muggleborn student.) But I don't think this is anything more complicated or mysterious than Minerva thinking that Harry & Hermione would be a good match for each other. Now I do find it slightly more plausible that Dumbledore was following Harry around invisible during his King's Cross station visit -- but that's mostly because in that occasion Harry Potter was known to be in a known location and thus might have been a potential target for enemies and therefore require protection.

And he still owes 60,000 galleons, which is 1.2mil.

A pair of dentists with over a decade of practice? My friend with 15 years of practice by himself could handle that. It's not pocket change, but this was to avoid the torture execution of their daughter. I think they could pony up for that.

6Exotria9yThis has its own problems, though. The Grangers were concerned enough when it seemed Harry might be dangerous, since he was temperamental at their house. They'd pull Hermione out of the wizarding world if they knew that she nearly got locked in a place that actively sucks away happiness.
5buybuydandavis9yFirst, I don't know whether it's an option to bail out of the wizarding world at this point. She has a blood debt to Malfoy which has yet to be paid off by Harry. I'm sure Harry would be fine with whatever she chose to do, but I don't know that the wizarding world is going to let her walk, at least until the debt is paid. And she better hide very well is she does walk, because Malfoy wants her dead. The only protection she has from that is the wizarding world. Second, if a boy saves your daughter from a torture execution, throwing away his fortune, and going into hock for a fortune besides, you might feel obligated to pay down that debt, and even repay him his lost fortune, regardless of your choices about being a part of the wizarding world.
[-][anonymous]9y 7

I agree. But y'know, it's odd that the three people most affected by the prophecy had their major life outcomes determined by Dumbledore's machinations. That's a coincidence that needs explaining, I think.

Another implication just hit me: it could make Sirius his accomplice, not Voldemort's. Odd that he didn't get a trial while Dumbledore was Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, come to think of it. Huh.

5folkTheory9yI'm not too sure Sirius has been Azkabanned at all...

I'm thinking more "Go magic that banker and we'll be rich."

Or "Hey can you use that wicker spinmaster thingy to get us the lotto numbers?" I presume if the witch/wizard owned one they'd figure out what it does eventually. They'd have to after a long enough time living together.

I think Lucius may have been playing very high speed chess when he picked the amount. The point isnt to have Harry in debt to him, the point is to afford ex-deatheaters loyal to Lucius the oppertunity to trade in a blood debt to Harry for a monetary one to him.

I don't think so. It's clear from his reaction that he did not want Harry to accept the trade:

It was clear that Lucius Malfoy had not been expecting that reply.

And later:

"I withdraw my offer!" shouted the Lord of Malfoy. "I will not accept the debt to House Potter in payment,

... (read more)

Mostly - fail.

For a detailed explanation, I recommend "The Big Problem of Small Change" - Thomas J. Sargent, François R. Velde published in 2002 isbn 0-691-02932-6

A common strategy was to ignore the problem and hope it goes away. It didn't - see Gresham's law

  • bad money drives out good. Another strategy was to debase the more valuable coins (make them of less pure metals), which has approximately the same effect.

All of which leads to "economic hardships" on the poor, which sounds a lot nicer than "the poor died in droves."

I... (read more)

(1) She already knows how a Patronus is cast, she just can’t do it yet.

(2) The text Harry gave Hermione is not actually teaching a spell. It is a cryptically-written secret about what Dementors are and what the charm does, not how to cast it. Knowing the secret will allow her to discover the new Patronus, not teach it to her.

What are the benefits of servitude over marriage?

Fewer shrieks of horror from their parents? Also Hermione doesn't need to change her name into Hermione Potter-Evans-Verres-Granger.

Did he actually say anything? Or did McGonagall come up with the idea right before?

He didn't. It was right before. Harry knew of only marriage as a way to induct Hermione into his House. McGonagall knew of a somewhat simpler way, and one less emotionally charged than marriage.

And then didn't mention to Harry that she was making Hermione his servant instead of his wife?

... (read more)

Your idea of marriage vows seems rather lifestyle-specific.

Funny how karma never adds up in those polls.

There should be a house rule about always linking to the karma sink in the poll choices.

Not that it matters that EY or anyone else gets a few points of extra karma, it's just my "defective mechanism detected" brain lobe giving me OCD.

Nah, snapping fingers doesn't possess meaning for the Wizengamot, that's what Harry is known for in Hogwarts. "Boo!" is better in the circumstances.

7buybuydandavis9yI think it's better to tie his miracles in Hogwarts to his miracles elsewhere. Consistent product branding.

Sorry, the reason for the stereotype is the fact that fanfiction is findable only on unmoderated internet archives where anyone can post. If you had to look on the internet for all your original fiction, you'd have the same problem. Also, it's in some ways harder to use someone else's voice and be bound by characters that maybe have traits you're scared to write about than to be able to write in your own voice and avoid certain kinds of characters.

But when you compare cherry-picked original fiction weeded through by editors until you get to read only a fra... (read more)

I wasn't aware that Draco was an Occlumens. (If he can't beat Veritaserum, those promises mean precisely nothing.)

Draco's a manipulative little snake. Lucius never probably never asked, "Son, are you able to cast the Patronus Charm?" because he was probably under the impression that Slytherins weren't able to cast Patronuses so why bother asking. Hence, the topic never came up. Draco's a scientist now, he doesn't completely believe everything that Lucius says anymore. Draco's probably avoiding talking about dangerous subjects with his father. And of course, he could always lie.

8Alsadius9yActually, he couldn't lie - he was interrogated under Veritaserum. That doesn't mean that the topic came up, of course.
8ajuc9yIf regular courts had veritaserum, I imagine the first question they'd ask would be "What are the things you don't want to tell us?".
6GeeJo9yBut that is such a vague question. I could go on for hours about entirely irrelevant observations I wouldn't want to get out in public - how I feel about people at work, how much I enjoy certain bodily functions, sexual kinks. Nothing I'd want to tell them, but stuff I would objectively prefer for them to know than that I'd committed a heinous murder.
6ajuc9yYeah, phrasing it right wouldn't be trivial, but much easier than making wishes for UFAI, because Veritaserum is the equivalent of perfect box for AI, and Draco is human, so most of the definitions and assumptions he shares with the judges. So maybe: "Tell me the things, you think I would want to know about, according to the best model of me you can construct."
7wedrifid9yExcept if I'm an AI in a perfect box I can't do as I please and destroy everything but if I'm a free agent drugged with veritaserum I can but I'm completely honest and forthcoming about it. As in: [Harry is under the influence of a truth serum] Samir: Is there anything you'd like to tell me before we start? Harry: Yeah. I'm going to kill you pretty soon. Samir: I see. How, exactly? Harry: First I'm going to use you as a human shield. Then I'm going to kill this guard over here with the Patterson trocar on the table. And then I was thinking about breaking your neck. Samir: And what makes you think you can do all that? Harry: You know my handcuffs? Samir: Mmm-hmm. Harry: [holds up his hands] I picked them. [Samir gasps. Harry springs up from his chair and grabs Samir, using him as a shield while he kills the guard, then breaks Samir's neck] And... Ok, that name collision just completely changed the way I visualize MoR!Harry.
3loserthree9ySomeone will want to know that you're quoting True Lies. Someone else, I suppose.

I was amazed that the readership collectively got almost every element of Harry’s solution, except for the monetary payment, and Harry spooking the Dementor instead of destroying it. (Looking up Philip Tetlock’s original experiment on taboo tradeoffs, taking the definition literally instead of reaching, and then reading the relevant section of Ch. 26 while keeping in mind Conservation of Detail, might have solved the monetary part.)

Well, if you make enough guesses, sometimes one of them will be partly right...

Do you feel the same way about published by known publishing houses fiction that based on other fiction? I'm thinking about The Once and Future King, Wicked, The Ayre Affair.....

5Alsadius9yGatekeepers raise average quality levels.

This.

But gaze not overlong into that particular abyss.

Edit: In retrospect, TvTropes itself is probably the bigger abyss of the two. So don't gaze overlong into that one either.

4FAWS9yCould you summarize to spare us from gazing into that abyss?

I wonder what Draco is going to say -- or to remember, for that matter -- about the duel.

I worry that Draco may be more or less written out of this fic - I can't imagine Lucius sending his son back into Voldemort's maw. There are other schools, even if none are as good.

Draco's going to want to go back, of course.

4kilobug9yHe did send his son to Dumbledore's maw, the one he believes burned alive his wife for no reason. I don't think sending him back with Harrymort there would bother him that much. It's not like Harrymort has anything to gain by killing Draco. The danger comes more from Hermione than from Harrymort, and it seems that she's scared enough so she'll never attempt anything against Draco. And Draco will be on guard. So... I think Draco will go back to Hogwarts.

Mark right the ones that got included, and wrong the ones that didn't. There's still more in the latter category.

Well we'd need a better developed Theory of Fun to quantitatively answer that. How about, "a lot"?

ETA: and there's so much talk because Eliezer resumed posting new chapters (and a new arc) a couple of weeks ago after a long hiatus. And the new chapters have already set up a very dangerous situation and all end in cliffhangers and Eliezer added notes asking people to try to out-think Harry in solving the crisis before the next chapter is out. Which resulted in a lot of theories and suggestions being posted.

Eliezer added notes asking people to try to out-think Harry in solving the crisis before the next chapter is out. Which resulted in a lot of theories and suggestions being posted.

"Eliezer told us to" -> Good answer.

"SLYTHERIN!"

Seeing the look of horror on Harry Potter's face, Fred Weasley thought faster than he ever had in his life. In a single motion he whipped out his wand, whispered "Silencio!" and then "Changemyvoiceio!" and finally "Ventriliquo!"

"Just kidding!" said Fred Weasley. "GRYFFINDOR!"

Only Quirrel and Dumbledore know of it, since even the three accompanying Aurors were False-Memory-Charmed.

We don't know what the cover story was that Dumbledore thought up to justify the lost Dementor.

Dumb used to mean mute. Personally, I think that's going a little overboard with the political correctness, though. (And this from someone who doesn't use retarded as an insult, or even crazy.)

“I mean, suppose I came in here with a ton of silver. Could I get a ton of Sickles made from it?”

“For a fee, Mr. Potter-Evans-Verres.” The goblin watched him with glittering eyes. “For a certain fee. Where would you find a ton of silver, I wonder? Surely you would not be... expecting to lay your hands upon a Philosopher’s Stone?”

“Griphook!” hissed McGonagall.

“A Philosopher’s Stone?” Harry said, puzzled.

“Perhaps not, then,” said the goblin. His body, which had been taut, seemed to relax slightly.

“I was speaking hypothetically,” Harry said. For now, at any

... (read more)

I'm wondering why Lucius tried to get out of the deal.

I see it as a status game. Previously Lucius had suggested that Dumbledore take Hermione's place in Azkaban, not because Lucius thought there was much of a chance that Dumbledore accept this offer, but rather to strike at the idea of Dumbledore's supposed heroic altruism.

Now when Lucius named 100,000 galleons as the price to erase the debt, he was trying a similar tactic -- Lucius didn't expect that Harry accept this, Lucius wanted to strike at the idea of his enemies being heroic and altruistic.

But ... (read more)

[-][anonymous]9y 6

They could happily provide a laundering service of sorts. If the goblins get suspicious of where Harry got the muggle money (which he will supposedly get via one of many ways outlined on this thread), he could just say that the Grangers gave it to him to rescue his daughter-- He earns money through them (stocks in their name, or whatever), and they turn around and give it back to him to trade into galleons for the Hermione-Rescue Debt.

I doubt the goblins would look into how MUGGLES managed to earn so much money. Especially if they already seemed to be relatively well-off.

IMO, new thread for Ch 82, not before - the "show all" button is still here, and the thread proliferation is getting silly, this is the third in a week. Alternately, can we get better forum software?

3Anubhav9ySeconded. 2 threads in 3 days = BAD IDEA. (Not that these comments will make a difference; someone or the other's gonna notice the comment-count and instinctively think "Over 500!! Ah, there's my chance to be of service! ...... HEY GUYS NEW THREAD HERE!")

I find it quite astonishing how often I have to remind people that they're eleven years old.

4Alex_Altair9yI didn't forget that (but sometimes I do). We can have a 12 year old be a slave to an 11 year old, but we can't have them get married?
4Alsadius9yWelcome to feudalism.
3MartinB9yLegal system do not have to be consistant. In Germany you can inherit since the time of conception, but still legally aborted afterwards.

Nevertheless, I believe it was two drops used, not three - so Draco didn't have to volunteer information.

Draco knows that HJPEV claims to be able to Patronus. Draco knows that HJPEV presented himself as though he needed to hide his Patronus. Lucius knows that the 'light' side regards the ability to Patronus as a 'light' qualifier.

If Lucius also knows what Draco knows, then he would know that inviting HJPEV to Patronus would probably result in one of two things: either he learns something HJPEV may believe to be a valuable secret, or he casts doubt on HJPEV's 'light' side qualities.

it's win-win, just like you know he likes it.

Highly unlikely: blood debts have probably been a significant political currency for a long time, and both due to institutional path-dependency and a lot of vested interests, I highly doubt that they'd change the importance of blood debts. Also: it seems like a lot of the justice system is built up around this concept. It would require a total overhaul of the justice system to deal with the blood debt. Otherwise they'd have to change the significance of being imperiuse'd which is also unlikely due to most of them otherwise being Azkaban(ne)d

9MarkusRamikin9yHow about a concerted campaign to persuade the public to lessen the importance of that particular debt? Remind everyone that Harry was a baby at the time and couldn't have intended to defeat the Dark Lord, emphasise that it must have been some kind of freak accident, start spreading rumours with alternative explanations... Anyway my point isn't about any single thing they could do; the point is that there are a lot of powerful and politically-skilled people who would very much want to do something, and I don't feel at all confident that we can assume they'll be unable to come up with anything now that the gambit is no longer a surprise one.
5SkyDK9yYou may very well be right. Due to free-riding and buck-passing I'd still expect a lot of them to do nothing. Recall also that they're all in internal power struggles over ink monopolies and what have you, plus Lucius lack of complete control has already been pointed out by Lucius. For all those who think the blood debt will hurt their rivals more than themselves there's good reason not to change the framing of the debt. Not to forget being the one to start this campaign will be both financially and politically costly. A beautiful collective action problem. Either way, we've too little insights into the political power balances to make qualified estimates about the "wall-paper's" reaction.
5Lavode9yHarry probably wont call in any blood debts himself, but any former deatheathers with substantial spare coin will jump at the possibility to get out from under a debt to Harry by giving Lucius money, so that 60.000 might well be paid in full before he makes it back to hogwarts, let alone sets any money making schemes in progress.

But Dumbledore has given no sign that he finds it unethical to make money. All he's said was "You're not ready to play, I'm not going to give you the bankroll to upset the board". If the cash is going to something this concrete and hard to abuse, he'd likely allow it. I doubt he'd abet with a method as easy as the Philosopher's Stone, but he'd likely not stand in the way.

The issue isn't that puzzles can be easy are hard. The issue is that a good hard puzzle is still solvable. It takes no talent to make a puzzle that no one solves. The difficulty in making a puzzle that's worthwhile is making it in the narrow band of puzzles that are tough enough to be interesting but are still solvable.

Sure, but that's a Slytherin virtue.

Why is there so much HPMoR talk all of a sudden?

There was a large gap where nothing was posted and chapters are now being posted regularly. And almost every new chapter has ended on a cliffhanger.

A comparatively small amount, relative to the fun involved in reading the chapters. I think waiting is probably a good idea - you're spared the agony of waiting. It's too late for all of us, though.

I don't see how self-awareness makes any sort of difference?

You said:

a neutral interpretation of the facts would've placed at least an equally high probability on someone meddling with his sorting, as on the Hat played its first prank in over 600 years.

But you did not consider that since the Sorting Hat was sentient for the first time in its existence, it would be very likely to do other things for the first time in its existence.

The only relevant special knowledge he has is that the Sorting Hat had some extra ability to appreciate humor at the t

... (read more)

You are here for the class that has been taught at Hogwarts for eight hundred years! Welcome to your first year of Battle Magic!

and

I'm the General of Sunshine, but even before that, I'm Hermione Granger of Ravenclaw, and I'm proud to be part of a House that's eight hundred years old.

and

You told me that no one had matched the four founders of Hogwarts. So it's been going on for at least eight centuries, then?

ETA: Oh, haha, maybe I should have just gone with

Harry winced. Hermione had been the one to explain to him about the Sorting Hat, but she

... (read more)

But they don't wear any fancy jewelry, though. And their animal familiars are not nearly as cute.

Edit: Hmm, Soul Gems as Horcruxes... Horcrux'd wizards as liches... we're on to something here.

Almost all the possible consequences of Quirrell's plot with Hermione might have helped Quirrellmort somehow:

  • Hermione goes to Azkaban and Harry goes permanently Dark.
  • Hermione goes to Azkaban and Harry goes permanently Light, killing himself to destroy it.
  • Harry saves Hermione, further antagonizing Draco's father and thereby Draco himself.
  • The wedge is driven further between Harry and Dumbledore.
  • Harry looks very Dark in front of all of wizarding Britain, losing him Light allies.
  • Harry looks very powerful in front of all of wizarding Britain, gaining him
... (read more)
2Jonathan_Elmer9yEvery possible result is a negative for Harry when his closest ally is accused of murdering his next closest ally. Even if he "wins" it is going to hurt, and it did. I can't square that with the motives of someone who wants to make Harry dark and strong. It is a big risk, especially when you are stuck in an interrogation cell for the grand finale.

Thoughts on the whole "guess the solution" situation from last chapter.

When I first reached the end of the chapter and the "You have 5 days to find the solution" bit, for some frantic moments I was worried that Eliezer would let get Hermione go to Azkaban if we weren't sufficiently clever to find the solution. It seemed rather unlikely, because we didn't seem to be so very near the end of the whole of HPMOR (and surely Hermione's effective killing would have major repercussions).. but I had already known about the similar situation in T... (read more)

[-][anonymous]9y 5

So from what we know of Quirrell, it would be just like him (having recently learned about Comed-Tea) to have a policy of spitting out soda that he drinks, so that no one gains information on whether or not he is surprised.

[-][anonymous]9y 5

I believe that the Auror trio was memory charmed.

There was a distinct body-hitting-the-ground-with-a-thuddish sort of sound.

"Thank you for taking care of that, Quirinus," said Dumbledore to Professor Quirrell, who was now standing above and behind the unconscious forms of the three Aurors. "I confess I am still feeling a bit peaky. Though I shall handle the Memory Charms myself."

-Chapter 46

However, both McGonagall and Snape know that Harry has developed a charm which can affect the behavior of Dementors:

Albus nodded grimly. "

... (read more)

It was't a joke, but rather a completely serious prediction of a joke. That's hardly the same thing at all.

And he believes that of course the Hero will listen to the guidance of the Wise Old Mentor.

I think it hasn't sunk in yet that he's not Harry's mentor; Quirrel is.

Actually, Draco muses on the history of House Malfoy at some chapter I can't find right now, and how they're always the second-in-command to greatest leaders. Saying Draco would never agree to service is probably disregarding important and relevant information.

Given your belief that the oath of fealty was a marriage vow and your claim here that Draco would not submit, a carelessly judgmental spectator Might come to possibly unfair conclusions about you. Namely, that you place such a high value on dominant roles for males and submissive roles for females that your perception is skewed.

I'm curious if you think there might be some accuracy in that.

There are probably laws against busting people out of Azkaban too.

As long as their child is not named Albus Severus...

In this story, it seems a lot more likely to be Quirinus Tom Potter-Evans-Verres-Granger.

7Normal_Anomaly9yI'd feel sorry for that kid. But considering the genes and upbringing he'd have, I'm suddenly too busy feeling sorry for everyone else.

In canonical!HP, halfbloods are wizards/witches with one witch/wizard parent and one Muggle parent. "Dad's a Muggle, Mum's a witch. Bit of a nasty shock for him when he found out." Muggleborns have two Muggle parents.

Sometimes people with a Muggleborn and a pureblood for parents are called halfbloods (Harry is one of these). Finer gradations aren't referred to (I'm not sure what Harry and Ginny's kids would be called).

I don't think it would be that difficult for him to "destroy" it in the sense of making it no longer a practical method of imprisonment. All he would have to do is start disseminating knowledge of the true patronus charm, and using dementors as the primary guards of a prison would cease to be viable.

People could still be tormented by the dementors when their wands are taken away, and left unable to escape, but using dementors as a torture device which itself needs to be guarded from anyone who might decide to obliterate them all is probably a lot... (read more)

No, as I pointed out, one would expect, based on its past performance, the dark side to come up with disastrous yet simple and effective solutions, and this expectation is another desiderata. Which that solution filled as well.

(A token 'dispel the Patronuses and make the Dementors eat people' is at least a gesture in the right direction, for all that I find Harry's belief he can cripple Aurors like that to be risible - if you yell at a pilot 'actually it doesn't run on the Bernouilli effect but spiral vortices' or whatever, does he immediately panic and fl... (read more)

If you don't put it in a bank account, then assuming no magical tracking, you could spend lots of money so long as you don't reach a point where anyone starts asking "Hey, where did you get all this expensive stuff?"

Since the wizarding world has so much smaller a population than ours and seems to be quite class stratified, it's quite conceivable that every person who's supposed to be really wealthy is already known and identifiable, and any Joe Shmoe who tries making a thousand galleon purchase is instantly flagged as suspicious.

There are at least three methods of paying off the debt relatively easily, mentioned earlier in this discussion, that are fundamentally unavailable as ways of making money for the vast majority of wizards on the Wizengamot. One, using the Philosopher's Stone, is explicitly mentioned in the very comment you replied to.

So, no, I don't think the people in the story are holding Idiot Balls.

He could even introduce the idea of representational currency, which ought to be worth quite a bit to the goblins.

Given what I’ve seen about goblins up to now, I’d rather expect their reaction to be somewhere between “ROTFLMAO” and “Blasphemy!!!1!!”

There are so many ways for Harry to get money - I hope the debt doesn't become a major plot point. If there are downsides to the debt in terms of obligations to Lucius, Harry should just get the money and be done with it.

If the Supreme Mugwump doesn't want Harry to be indebted to Lucius, shouldn't he be able to call in a few favors and have it paid off tomorrow? There's the general blood debt to Harry. The general goodwill to Harry. The desire by others not to have the Boy Who Lived in debt to Malfoy.

There should be enough people in the Wizarding world w... (read more)

Get him an internet connection in Hogwarts and play the market using his time turner.

Early '90s. That'd be a JANET connection, which was an academic network. I expect AOL or Compuserve might be possible. We're talking about the mists of prehistory here, i.e. before 1995. Heck, it was even before the National Lottery was operating in the UK (that started 1994). The stock market would be playable, if he had a suitable adult to front for him.

No, how he makes serious money in the muggle world in 1991 Britain may require actual research.

4shminux9yThere was virtually no online trading for individual investors until about 1994. You had to phone your full-service or discount broker and talk to him (or very rarely her) to make a trade.
3SkyDK9yEh no... Harry has Mining++ also known as partial transfiguration. Now EY didn't believe that to be enough so he also equipped Harry with an invisibility cloak a bag AND a suitcase of holding. If Harry is really pressed for cash and some rules against arbitrage, stock market manipulation, insurance fraud (which he should be able to do to an amount that's not even funny to think about) exist, he still has one glaringly easy way of earning shit tons. He should be able to, as soon as he is allowed to use magic outside school (which IIRC is at 17 which is before his last year at Hogwarts' starts; the 31st of July to be exact) of doing the following: a) Robin Hood his way through pretty much anything (Invis+teleport is an old classic) b) mine diamonds/gold/other valuable resources by using partial transfiguration, invisibility and if need be Apparation.Some mines in Somalia are just waiting for a wizard to abuse them... c) and of course just straight up gambling. Sincerely: this stuff doesn't even require a lot of thinking. He could also just do some honest transport business of high quality wares... Teleportation is a whole lot faster than anything else I can think of.

Dumbledore's universe does.

Pretty closely, I think; we have

Emmeline wasn't a member of the Order of the Phoenix any more, they had disbanded after the end of the last war. And during the war, she'd known, they'd all known, that Director Crouch had quietly approved of their off-the-books battle.

Director Bones wasn't Crouch.

and

[...] while Amelia tried to weigh her own thoughts. She must not leave this prison alive... Albus Dumbledore wouldn't turn into Bartemius Crouch without a strong reason.

I rate it likely that she'll read it. Unlikely she'll babble. But she's no Occlumens. (She should strive to be real quick, though.)

Good bit, though a bit of a hodgepodge. I presume the real culprit will be found, but that doesn't necessarily counter the debt - the Wizengamot would have to agree, and the truth could be found out in a way that leaves little actual proof, even aside issues of Wizengamot's fairness. I'll be disappointed if paying the debt turns out to be too arduous though, but of course depending on the methods chosen there may be side effects. (One way would be for Draco to accept a counterdebt, having been convinced of the truth of the matter and seeing that being on g... (read more)

Poll to see whether the speculation made the chapter reading experience better or worse.

Vote up if you think all the speculation got in the way of the chapter itself.

Five days was too long, IMO. If we only had 24 hours I would have enjoyed it much more.

9Asymmetric9yConsidering that at least part of the correct solution was found within 24 hours, I think you're right, Locke. It might affect accessibility, though -- I know I would be sad if I logged on only to find that the discussion had closed already. Having read through the speculation, I even found most of the chapter quite anticlimactic. Recognizing the correct predictions removed all the tension, since MOR's tension relies so much on plotting. That said, though, reading through the discussion gave me a harmless and very insightful lesson into how predictions work. I learned what makes a prediction probable versus plausible, in a way that not only allows me to understand it, but to think about how I would apply it to my life (I hadn't really internalized that the percents of all possible outcomes have to add to a hundred, even though in hindsight that's fairly obvious. I also learned about the betting-real-money threshold). All in all, despite getting in the way of the chapter, it was a nice, closed-environment rationalist lesson. Thank you for prompting the discussion, Eliezer!
6LucasSloan9yAgreed. I initially felt a lot of tension as to the answer, and it didn't fade upon a day or two's speculation, but I did not feel that tension when I read the chapter. I definitely think that a wait over major cliffhangers is indicated, but a long one (even 5 days) cannot sustain the tension.
4MarkusRamikin9yAfter considering, I feel it got in the way because people got so much right. It made Harry's dark side much less awesome. Instead of being, as usual, impressed, I felt more like "why did he even need a mysterious Dark Side for this? And how did he not come up with it in all the time while trying-to-do-the-impossible before the trial?" Which is unfair, but it's not clear fair unbiased thinking that decides for us whether or not we enjoy something...

Vote up if you think that the experience of reading the chapter was better for all the speculation.

It did make it better. But please don't make people solve a puzzle to get a happy ending. The downside of getting only a sad ending if people fail at that is too high. Not just in terms of how many people will get negative utility from that, but also it will substantially reduce how many people will be willing to recommend the story to others (once it is finished). The potential downside to that is simply too large.

3Percent_Carbon9yNah. We can do this.

Where is the vote that "all the speculation was a better than the chapter itself"?

That's no slight on the chapter, mind. The discussion was both entertaining and useful.

6gwern9yI have to say, I enjoyed the process of coming up with and justifying my 'throw Dumbledore under the bus' theory a lot more than I actually enjoyed the chapter, which wound up looking like a mish-mosh (a debt and messing with Dementors and Hermione joining the House of Potter and foreshadowing)...
8Eugine_Nier9yThat's a very bad mental habit to get into. As Bryan Caplan explains here [http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/03/the_roots_of_le.html].
5SkyDK9yIt was great! It also allowed me to test a couple of thesis of generating solutions. The closest I got was doing something completely different than working directly on the generating of solutions; I can't remember the name of the theory stating that this should be the case, and while having it strengthened is somewhat disheartening it is nevertheless a useful piece of information. Now if I weren't so bad at shaving, I might even remember to use Occam's razor next time and reduce "Harry marries Hermione" to "Harry makes Hermione part of house Potter". Still much in the ways of the force have I to learn ;) Only defence of my marriage theory was that I wasn't quite sure that people could just be adopted into houses. Even thought it makes perfect sense, having seen it in action. I suspect/expect you'll write what power Lucius can legally claim over Harry sometimes soon? Also I learned to actually look up the experiments you referred to... All in all thank you for a highly entertaining and inspiring chapter!
3Eponymuse9yI hope you write the ending you want, rather than playing games to see which ending we will earn.
3thomblake9yIn actuality, I think it made reading the next chapter slightly worse, but made the intervening time much better. And more importantly, I'm pretty sure I learned something about how to solve these sorts of puzzles properly, which is much more relevant.
3[anonymous]9yI enjoyed every bit of the speculation but then finding out that some of the speculation was correct disappointed me. I would approve of a repeat if you made the puzzle sufficiently hard that nobody figures it out.

Strongly disagree. Puzzles that can't be solved aren't puzzles, they are authors being obnoxious. There's no talent in making an unsolvable puzzle any more than there is in making a Zendo rule that no one can solve. And there's no fun in it for most people either. We shouldn't be in a situation where at the last minute we're informed that no one but a dark wizard would put mustard on top of the sauerkraut (Standard TVTropes warning).

9RobertLumley9yIt was disappointing to me because it wasn't the first time I'd heard the solution. It was like I had a spoiler for the chapter, because I was reasonably confident as to what it was. And while I've seen research linked to on LW that says spoilers don't decrease enjoyment, I definitely find they do, at least for me. It was redeeming, however, that more complications were added on top of the imperius!debt. If it had simply been Harry winning with it, I think would have found the chapter dull.
3Alsadius9yI read the speculation, glommed onto the right answer when someone else brought it up, and then got amused by progressively more wacky theories for three days. I don't think the speculation got in the way, per se, but it's sort of anticlimactic for the answer you regard as obvious to be the correct one. The money bit was a nice twist, though.

re-reading chapter 76 made me realise the prophecy could not be about Voldemort at all :

Let's look at this prophecy in detail :

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches,"

Vanquish, as Snape said, is a strange word to describe a baby accidentally toasting Voldemort, especially since we have evidence that this might not be what really happened. "Dark Lord" is used by EY quite loosely, and not as something specifically relating to Voldemort. Indeed, Dumbledore seems to worry that he could be this Dark Lord. Now, if we ste... (read more)

Thank you, this comes of posting in a hurry. Let me restructure that in a better way: How well supported is the theory that HJPEV's behavior is completely explained by rational extensions of something in-canon? Has he done anything that could not be explained by the interference of Horcrux!Riddle (who did in fact have pretty much the upbringing that McGonagall describes), and has anything at all happened in the story that would suggest something else at play there?

Hatred may not be the only way to cast Avada Kedavra, just as the happy memories are not the only way to cast the Patronus Charm, and Oogely Boogely doesn't need to be pronounced correctly if you don't care whether your bats glow. Maybe he'll discover a True Killing Curse.

the base could be a trained component like muscle strength

If it worked like that, there’s still the question of “what component?” Muscles becoming stronger as a result of exercising them is a complex behavior, governed by many genes. Harry’s reasoning towards one “magic marker gene” suggests that is not the case.

I can think of all sorts of possible explanations, I just can’t see one that looks really reasonable; since we have no actual explanation about how stuff works, you need a lot of assumptions for anything and stuff tends to be arbitrary. If you t... (read more)

It looks like the pair of you are having trouble communicating. Would you like to:

Regardless of the reason for the spit Harry would still have to follow through with whatever that is for the signal to be sent back in time to cause the urge to drink. Otherwise it would be like Harry escaping from that locked classroom after Draco tortured him without then going back in time and sending the Professor to let him out.

Harry sometimes successfully resists the urge to drink Comed-Tea, and then something spit-take-inducing happens anyway. It's just a prediction with a clever user interface, not an artifact of eldritch power (except to the extent that predicting the future constitutes eldritch power, which is a nontrivial extent).

Also, we cannot completely ignore the possibility of the "magic machinery" (the one that recognize the genetic marker) to have some kind of shuffling process that'll occasionally turn on or off the magical marker when an egg is fertilized. Either randomly, or based on events (triggers like "an egg fertilized exactly at the second where the moon is the fullest will have a high probability of having the magical marked added").

Or that there is no genetic marker at all and the machinery uses some algorithm of its own to determine who should have magic which is heavily biased towards children of wizards.

2bogdanb9yWell, Harry and Draco’s “experiment” (I’d say “poll” would be a better term) didn’t have a huge support population, but their numbers suggest that the bias would have to match suspiciously well with a genetic marker. That is, it seems that the actual results would be the same either way.

Chapter 27:

But everything was still all right, they’d tell Dad someday, and meanwhile...

...meanwhile Dumbledore had happened to sneeze while passing them in the hallway, and a small package had accidentally dropped out of his pockets, and inside had been two matched wardbreaker’s monocles of incredible quality. The Weasley twins had tested their new monocles on the “forbidden” third-floor corridor, making a quick trip to the magic mirror and back, and they hadn’t been able to see all the detection webs clearly, but the monocles had shown a lot more than

... (read more)

Pointless and futile? They didn't lose.

You are making excuses for your assumptions by piling on more assumptions.

You're misusing the word assumption. I don't *assume" that was McGonaggal's reason, I simply judged it to be the most likely and most natural explanation, given the facts in evidence. But yes, I did assume that my initial reading of the text and that Harry also wasn't being mistaken about who told him about Hermione. As I said, I didn't even realize some people saw this bit as a mystery. That's what true assumptions look like, I guess, when one doesn't even realize some peop... (read more)

No, I thought that the investigating Aurors would not give a child Veritaserum without his legal guardian there, and thus Lucius would have access to whatever Draco said under Veritaserum. It occurs to me now that Lucius wouldn't be too prying in front of Aurors.

Honest dilemma: Should Hermione decide to get the memories of casting the Blood-chilling Charm obliviated?

On one hand, one would think that messing even more with Hermione's mind should be a no-no. On the other hand, we're pretty sure it's a false memory, and it seems grossly unfair for her to have to remember attempting to commit a murder that she didn't truly attempt.

Second question: Regardless of what Hermione should do, will she so decide it?

Third question: If she doesn't so decide, will some helpful other person override said choice for her sake and obliviate her anyway?

4Desrtopa9yIf she does get the memory erased, she's going to be awfully confused when someone else inevitably brings it up again. Edit: it occurs to me that you probably only meant the memory of performing the charm itself, not the memory of being put on trial for murder. But even if they did that, I suspect she'd imagine something just as bad to fill the space, knowing what was supposed to go in it.
2buybuydandavis9yIf she wanted to do that, I'd have the memory extracted and saved as evidence.

Honestly, that comes across as a flaw in Eliezer's worldview more so than Harry's. I've seen him make the same argument in his own name, and it's pretty transparently false(cf. anyone committing suicide, ever). Being forced to die is evil and ought to be opposed, but I have a feeling that literal immortality would appeal to many fewer people than might be expected.

It's not the "gender inclusiveness" that's the problem, it's the vagueness. Harry is male, why not call him "Master" instead of "Master or Mistress"? It's because the oath is a fealty oath sworn to the House, and after Harry dies, the mastery of his house may pass to a daughter of his (which Hermione would then be still sworn to obey).

Marital oaths are between specific people. In this case obedience was sworn to House Potter, and Harry accepted it as the heir and last scion of House Potter.

"Squib" is a nonmagical child of magical parents, at least in canon. MoR seems to be using it as a genetic marker, which I'm honestly not sure is compatible with canon.

(Now that I think about it, if Harry's genetic theory is correct, doesn't a squib child of a wizarding couple imply that Mom was getting some on the side?)

6Lavode9y.. Not nessesarily. I just had an amusing thought. The number one use of polyjuice is quite obviously as a sex toy, right? Depending on how deep the transformation goes, it is entirely possible that the genetic lines of wizardry if anyone ever tested them would be enormously confusing, and a lot of squibs are technically the decendants of Jane Russell and Rudolph Valentino.
5Percent_Carbon9yGo, Mom.

It varies. There are trains and gaslamplikethings and indoor plumbing.

Perhaps you're expected to gracefully retract at some point.

I think the striken out posts can't be further down voted and you are expected to use that tool to defend yourself against excessive down votes. That is entirely a guess and I am new here.

3ArisKatsaris9yIt's a fact that stricken out posts can't be further downvoted, but I don't know about being expected to use that tool as a form of defense. This was implemented because previously some people just deleted comments that got them lots of downvotes, and this caused disruptions in the flow of the conversation (one could no longer see what people were responding to).

That would be arguing that you should be allowed to do something because of all the things you were not successfully disallowed to do. It does not necessarily follow and probably does not Dumbledoredly follow.

We don't know if this is the case. Looking at squib/wizard descent rates from wizard/muggle marriages would be an obvious additional test of Harry's genetic hypothesis, which he hasn't done. We don't know if Harry is correct about there being a single wizard gene.

4Normal_Anomaly9yI really don't get how the genetics works in either MOR or canon. In canon, there are wizards with one wizard parent and one muggle parent, who aren't squibs (Snape and Riddle for two). That implies it's dominant. Also, squibs in canon are born to 2 wizard parents (Neville's pure-blood and was thought to be one, and it's mentioned in the definition), and squibs are implied to be pretty uncommon, which they wouldn't be if they were all heterozygotes. In the end, though, I support EY's right to make it work out however he feels like, because canon is confused and self-contradictory and MOR's point about complex adaptations being either ubiquitous or absent is true.

In canon, there are wizards with one wizard parent and one muggle parent, who aren't squibs (Snape and Riddle for two).

In canon they call “squib” the non-magic-capable child of two wizards.

In MoR, that means the child has only one copy of the recessive magic gene. (Either mommy didn’t love only daddy, or one copy of the gene got messed up somehow.) But in MoR you need to distinguish between genetic|squib (has one copy of the gene), and genealogic|squib (can’t do magic but has wizard/witch parents).

All genealogical|squibs are genetic|squibs, but wizards use the word “squib” only for the former, since wizards don’t know much about genetics, and about the magic gene in particular. They call anybody who isn’t a part of magic Britain a muggle (genealogical |muggle), even though they might actually be genetic|squibs.

An example: Wizard Nasty Pants does the nasty with lots of muggle women a couple of centuries ago. He doesn’t like commitments, so he abandons the women to raise their children alone.

All his children are genetic|squibs, but they’re raised by muggles and—after Mr. Nasty dies because he tried that with a witch married to a Gryffindor—nobody knows they had a wizard parent.

M... (read more)

I can't think of anything in MoR that contradicts it, but in canon, when a wizard tries to pay a muggle, the muggle later comments about someone trying to pay with a bizarre kind of coin. IIRC, it's in Goblet of Fire, and it's the muggle who runs the campground where they're having the World Cup. He got memory-charmed afterward.

So he definitely saw some kind of wizard money.

(in the relevant sense, this refers to why don't various charities just rain megatons of food, water, schools and hospitals from the sky, given how much private 1st world citizens have to spare)

This is much harder to do then you seem to think.

If any money tracking is going on, I suspect it's done by the goblins, who I believe canonically have means of magically tracking things.

You don't need to magically track money though, to keep record of how much money is in people's bank accounts, and take notice if someone who's not supposed to have lots of money suddenly starts making a lot of very expensive purchases.

The foreign exchange(i.e., currency) market is both very liquid and very volatile. With advance knowledge of major changes from a Time Turner, it's easy to make very fast exponential growth of your seed money - even a 1% change per day, in any direction, multiplies your money by a factor of 12 every year(or x3 million before he graduates Hogwarts). Of course, anyone with that sort of record would get investigated hard and fast, but a more cautious approach can still result in absurd growth.

Why, for the love of wisdom, scare him in public?

Better than scaring him in a dark alley. At least he'll have time to think through his reaction.

Also, he scared pretty much the entire Wizengamot (plus a Dementor!), not just Lucius. “I scared him, and people know why” is different than “I scared him, and people know it”. [ETA:] It’s no loss of face to be scared by someone who more or less scared everyone else.

From that note:

But if you ever need to fight Dementors, the secret is written here, cryptically, so that if someone doesn't know it's about Dementors and the Patronus Charm, they won't know what it means...

Shouldn't Hermione have read that note the moment she realized she would be arrested and had a chance of being sent to Azkaban?

6TimS9yGiven that Hermione's recent mental processes have essentially been put through a cheese shredder by various magic spells, I'm not sure such a moment actually occurred.

But you probably can't do it over the Internet in 1991.

Goreans are the creationists of lifestyle BDSMers...

One thing I noticed about Harry's language - increasing talk in computer terms. PC, SYSTEM ERROR, Internal Consistency Checker.

His Dark Side is tremendously efficient at information recall and causal inference. Interesting that Quirrell remarked on the value of memory recall to a wizard. I've wondered if the Dark Side was just an interface to a computing system, but it's clear that's not all that it is.

It seems like the Dark Side is two things, an efficient computation engine, and the dark emotions related to Death: the terror and hatred. Why are those linked? Why does a computation and recall engine have to be linked to emotions at all, and if it's going to be emotions, why not positive Mr. Glowy Person feelings?

PC means Player Character in this instance.

Am I the only one that doesn't think Harry is going to pay off Lucius as fast as possible? Unless the demands on Harry are seriously onerous this is a superb opportunity to learn about the most powerful family and one of the most powerful wizards in Magical Britain. From a story perspective, it gives Eliezer an easy way to add difficulty to Harry's life at any point and a good chance to keep writing about villains like Lucius instead of boring villains like the Jugson kid. I think Harry will end up working with Lucius to uncover who framed Hermione.

They might be enchanted to be lighter as a convenience. That would throw off Harry’s arbitrage calculations, though.

[Edit:] I didn’t think of this before, but I’d expect Harry to notice if they were significantly lighter (a factor of ten) than gold; even if he never handled gold, a factor of ten would make them lighter than aluminium. He’d have asked about it. Is their actual size mentioned anywhere in MoR? Perhaps Eliezer just departed from canon because it didn’t make much sense.

I don't think that's how time-travel works in this story.

It is. Winning on the stockmarket with this time-travel system is barely any different (in terms of mere physics) than using it as a sleep aid.

that's not what the world looks like in the story.

In a fantasy world this ad hoc most of the wizarding population has to be holding the idiot ball most of the time for things to be as they look in the story.

In the "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" case, he tried to manipulate time-loop paradoxes in his favour.

In what Xachariah suggests, he'd just be manipulating the stock markets, not deliberately attempting to construct time paradoxe. Therefore I don't think it qualifies as "messing with time".

I'll see your credential challenge and raise you the inevitable creation of immortal boredom.

How do you determine that a puzzle is completely fair and isn't solved? Is that a meaningful category?

3[anonymous]9yIn retrospect you're not supposed to think "well, how was I supposed to know about the sauerkraut" but "oh, that makes sense, I wish I'd thought of that."
3JoshuaZ9ySo the key is to make the puzzle only seem obvious in retrospect? This sounds like you want puzzles that actively trigger hindsight bias. Not exactly a promotion of rationality.
3roystgnr9yNot hindsight bias, just an asymmetrically easy verification. Imagine a large subset sum problem [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subset_sum_problem]: answers can all be found logically, it's very hard to find an answer, and it's very easy to verify an answer. Any such problem can trigger hindsight bias of the form "that clearly would have been easy to solve; I just wasn't trying", but that's a flaw of the biased person not the problem.

DO NOT SPEAK THE NAME

The Ree are from Nobody Dies, a Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfiction.

8Eliezer Yudkowsky9yAnd Hogwarts has ventilation ducts large enough to fit a basilisk!
[-][anonymous]9y 14

In fairness, circulating air in a castle whose geometry is best represented by an arbitrarily connected graph (not necessarily acyclic), is a non-trivial engineering challenge. After a few student asphyxiated, they may just have gone a little overboard.

I now declare this to be MoR!canon. (That large magical dwellings in general have large highly-connected, possibly magical air-ducts, by tradition, to prevent the occasional cases where somebody asphyxiated; and that Salazar used this as his excuse for why Hogwarts's ventilation ducts had to be so large.)

7pedanterrific9yAguamenti creates water out of nothing, which you can drink. The Bubble-Head Charm could, in theory, work some way other than creating thin air out of thin air, but personally I doubt it does.
6Alicorn9ySnakes can get through spaces much smaller than it looks like they should be able to. It doesn't seem ruled out that a magic snake can do that to a greater extent. So this implies big ductwork but not enormous ductwork.

Why, indeed, would wizards with enough status and wealth to turn their hands to almost any endeavor, choose to spend their lives fighting over lucrative monopolies on ink importation

Oh god, why did you have to go there. Whyyyy

Edit: at least you didn't mention the squid

I think he has six and a quarter years to turn zero galleons into sixty thousand - I interpreted it as him having to pay what he could immediately.

Personally, I'd be inclined to just Imperius Lucius into cancelling the rest of the debt, then obliviate him and memory charm him into remembering doing it of his own free will, but perhaps I'm a little more Dark Harry than Light Harry.

He's got a time machine and the stock market exists.

Give him a few days a month outside of Hogwarts (or just a telephone/television) and he could own every gold mine, hell, own everything in the muggle world. I could pull that off with just a time machine.

8thelittledoctor9yWhy on earth did this not immediately occur to me? This is usually my first thought in time-travel stories. Clearly my dislike of Lucius is clouding my judgement.
6[anonymous]9yWhat happens if multiple wizards try to Time Turner the stock market? Information can't travel back more than six hours in time. So if Wizard #1 sees a stock price falling, and goes back in time to sell, and Wizard #2 sees effects of that, and goes back in time to sell, weird things happen. I'm not sure what the six-hour limitation on information actually does, though. We see Bones asking Dumbledore, "I have information which I learned four hours into the future, Albus. Do you still want it?" Dumbledore weighs the value of the information against the value of going back in time more than 2 hours. However, if he rejects that information, and goes back in time 3 hours, he still brings back the knowledge that Bones will have information to share. How exactly does that work?
4TimS9yThe impression I got was that the Time Turner would fail to work. Thus, if Bones tells D, then D uses his Time Turner, he only goes back 2 hours. That's an interesting thought, actually. Can you prevent a person from going back in time by essentially giving them information from the future, even if they don't know it is information from the future?
6Asymmetric9yUnrelated: They did that in a movie called Primer, which I recommend to people who like MOR and deciphering probably-correct engineering-speak.
5wedrifid9yAnd naturally he'd start off with seed money from a single lottery win. More than one would start getting suspicious but if he picks the largest paying lottery out there when it has rolled over to jackpot a few times that gives him enough to start the ball rolling.
8Locke9yMost muggleborns may not be able to do calculus, but they know about lotteries. The ministry would keep tabs on this stuff.
8Alsadius9yWhich is why he wouldn't win top prize - 5/6 numbers is usually a couple hundred grand, that's tons of seed money.
4thelittledoctor9yIf he picked the right lottery he'd only need to do that once, period. There are many lotteries paying out well over two million pounds... But I suspect Locke is right on this count.
8faul_sname9yHe has a hundred in his back yard. Worst comes to worst, he arbitrages that up to 60k. Edit: or time machine+stock market [http://lesswrong.com/lw/b7s/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/65i2]. In retrospect, that's a much better solution.
4thelittledoctor9yYes, I rather doubt that he will have trouble for lack of clever plans.

So, you didn't explain how he could do that. Last time it took a spell from Quirrel to hold the shell in place. I'm guessing it's not as simple as holding the shell with one hand and spinning the hourglass inside it.

Quirrell anchored the hourglass with a spell, and then Harry spun the shell around it. We never see Harry perform the anchoring spell, but we don't have any information about its difficulty, so presumably Harry could do it too if he prepared.

Also, Harry can't clone (loop) himself four times during the trial if he goes back two hours. That

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The April Fool's chapter was never in fanfiction.net, it was in a site made to look like like fanfiction.net, where it still is.

Hmm, haven't we seen something like that before? "I know you arranged my father's death." [pause] "No. -- I am your father."