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, 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 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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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)

Highly unlikely for something like this to happen in the actual HPMOR -- but I actually enjoyed it, so I thank you for posting it.
Seconding this.
The next time Eliezer puts up an omake page, he definitely needs to include this.
Hell, you could damn near make an omake page out of all the alternate theories we posted.
I love it! Especially the last paragraph.
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. Also, Harry can't clone (loop) himself four times during the trial if he goes back two hours. That would result in looping himself four times for the time period from 2 to 1 hours before present. To loop himself four times (or he could make it five) during the trial itself, he should go back only one hour.
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. He's giving himself an extra hour to prepare. The second, third, and fourth iterations only involve going back one hour, so that leaves a turn to spare. I'll edit to make that clearer.
I love it. I didn't realize you could write fiction so well!

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.

Pop quiz: What percentage of Muggles have ever heard the word "arbitrage"? (Retracted because reply makes sense)
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.

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.

All good points, but I don't think Harry is planning on "calling atttention to the fact that the muggles are ripe for exploitation". He's presumably planning to make the money without anyone except one or two adults he needs for transportation/permission/whatever knowing how he did it.
Oh, 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.

The 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.
Bolded word is redundant. This is a service being provided and nobody is having wealth that they have 'rights' to taken away. This is different in nature to using using time travel or to win at cards or roulette. The muggles end up better off than they were AND Harry is better off. Almost as though it is a trade. (Essentially I just agree with Alsadius.)
This 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.
In 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.

In 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.

This would require a wizarding equivalent of the IRS, which I've never heard of. I've never seen mention of taxes, but they obviously have to pay the ministry employees something. One of the consequences of their primitive monetary system is that it is very easy to obtain money without the government knowing it. Perhaps they could use muggle taxes to buy gold to be minted into galleons, and pay employees that way. In cannon, the prime minister knows about the wizarding world, and it's possible that information of it is just highly classified. I suppose money could be magically tracked, but there would still need to be a ministry department. And if that is possible, it easily defeats most money-making strategies.
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.
That's assuming you put it in a bank account.
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's another motivation for secrecy. Anyone who makes money off the Muggle world benefits from being the only one making money off the Muggle world. If they're making lots of money, they don't want other people to start thinking about how.

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.

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.

Bester 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.

Bester also knew he wasn't going to be able to Remember it. And that he was supernaturally compelled to forget it. So why intentionally build anguish over something that would be awesome if you had it but that you simply can't have? I don't think his failure to follow through with it, given his obligations -- and compulsions -- to not do so -- should be counted as weighting against the efficacy of the principle.
I don't follow your point. Who was discussing anguish? It seemed like mild annoyance in the original text, and a comment that annoyance does not imply truth in Joshua's comment.

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.

Yes, 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.

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)

Remember, most of wizarding Britain is people who were taken out of the muggle world at age 10-11 and don't come back.

I 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?)

Right, 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".
Halfbloods are more populous, and their Muggle parents probably give them some nontrivial connection to the Muggle world.
"Halfbloods" the way you're thinking don't actually exist in MoR. Wizard + muggle = all their children are squibs. Yeah, half the children of a wizard/squib pair are wizards, but how often do you think that occurs? Canonically Harry is referred to as a halfblood because his mother was muggleborn; that sort of thing- not muggleborn, but not "pure"blood either- probably accounts for most of the population.
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.
I 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)

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"). We have no hints towards that, so Occam's Razor would tend to give it a low probability, but it would seem coherent to me with the twisted, not really occamian, way magic seems to work. Harry's and Draco's experiment on the genes was low-scale enough so they had no chance of detecting any such shuffling. But sure, adultery is a much more plausible explanation of why squibs would occasionally appear in pure magical couples, and why there are "muggleborn".
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.
Well, 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.
I agree with most of this. However, I think it is worth noting that JKR's understanding of biology is about as good as her understanding of math or astronomy so I don't expect her to have even thought of this sort of thing. I don't think the nature of complex adaptations is a great argument in this context given that we've already found that magic doesn't seem to act very much like what science tells us to expect in general. While I support Eliezer's right to do what he wants, I suspect that Harry will turn out to be wrong about this, and that we'll find out in the story.

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)

So everybody except Harry are holding idiot balls?

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.

Doing something stupid, or just being an idiot in general isn't the same as holding the idiot ball.
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.
In terms of the knowledge that Muggles have culturally accumulated, yes. They're at least 500 years behind the times.
It varies. There are trains and gaslamplikethings and indoor plumbing.
I'm willing to bet most of them run on a non-negligible ammount of magic, though.
But the others, maybe. Or maybe not; we also have
I revise my position. 500 years seems to be excessive, in many areas. I would guess that the Hogwarts Express, and potentially even the toilets do rely on some level of magic, though.
My understanding was that most of the “modern” items (excepting things like the lamps in Azkhaban) are magic-based items, they simply got the ideas from muggle items. There’s no obvious indication that Minerva’s clock was purely mechanical; the one Trelawney used had voice recognition, for example. Even torches are a “muggle-inspired technology” if you think about it. Purely magical lighting would be a glowing globe, or even unexplainably-lit rooms like the Wizengamot hall, there’s no reason to have it shaped like a torch (albeit proximity self-lighting and ever-burning) unless you got inspired by real torches and just went on with tradition, and at least many of those are probably not created by enchanting a manufactured torch. (Given how many there are in Hogwarts, and that you seem to find them even in rooms that didn’t exist yesterday, I’d guess the weird self-building architecture just includes most of them by itself.)

f they're arguing over lucrative ink importation rights it means they've already figured out arbitrage

Not 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.

I 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.
How 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.
I 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.
Slurs? (oh you mean "idiots"? I'd refrain from that in the future; I didn't mean to be offensive EDIT: later clarified to referring to retarded which I'll also refrain from using in the future... me not being a native speaker will end up being expensive karma-wise). Transfiguring a whole mountain would: a) take more magical energy than most wizards could muster. b) not extract any resources. Partial transfiguring has the distinct advantage of not having to transfigure entire objects (such as mountains). Perhaps a spell could also help with actually finding valuable resources. Besides that partial transfiguration is an excellent break in/out spell (as seen earlier in TSPE) and I do not recall saying that Harry had to stay legal. He's shown already his ability to disregard the law (again TSPE) if he thinks it's worth it.
MixedNuts meant "retarded".
I really hope Eliezer doesn't spend more than a sentence on that - and even then I would want the sentence to be mild. Any more than that and it would strike me as too much use of explicit sloppy thinking to justify narrative convenience.
maybe 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.
He'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.

Upvoted 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.)
It seems to be a convention of fiction. Lots of fictional terms are capitalized when real-world analogues are near-universally left lowercase. (Species names immediately come to mind.)
The coin names are capitalized in the Potter books, yeah. Don't know why.
And for ridiculousness, have him start with a 100 million superlotto payout and get 5% instead of 3%. He'd have a couple hundred quadrillion dollars by the time he had to pay Lucius back. Obviously he couldn't earn that much. Aside from that much money not existing, they'd shut down all trades well before he got to the first trillion dollars. But still, it'd be amusing to have him with a giant mountain of gold equivalent to all the worlds combined reserves. "Lucius, you just grab that double-life-sized solid gold statue of myself. Don't worry about the small change, I've got extra."
Well, sure, that's exponential growth for you. I'd actually rule out the scenario I present in the grandparent on narrative grounds: it's not interesting from a plot or a rationalist perspective to be interrupted every chapter or two with a description of Harry's latest trade, or even with his latest plan to wring another 5% out of his capital. (Maybe not that latter -- Spice and Wolf pulled it off. But that's a different kind of story.) Point is, this doesn't need to be attention-getting in or out of story, just repeatable. There are boring options that would work (day trading with a Time-Turner being only the first to come to mind). Since that's an unstable state for a story and the debt could easily have been omitted, at this point I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm not expecting that shoe to come in the form of unexpected changes to the financial structure that the early chapters set up, though. That does paint the Wizengamot in a rather unflattering light, but these are people that have only the vaguest idea of what cars are -- an enormous blind spot concerning the Muggle world is quite consistent with the established culture.
Further, perhaps ambiguous evidence that Harry's machinitions won't be as successful or simple as he imagines. From Chapter 20, in reference to Quirrell's insistence that Dumbledore pay for Harry's Occlumency lessons with a neutral party: Dumbledore immediately identifies Harry's money-making scheme as a terrible idea (even without knowing what exactly it is) and is actually willing to compromise his prior stance merely by being reminded how ignorant and childish Harry can be. Dumbledore is probably the number one character, except for perhaps Snape, who has demonstrated the most knowledge of Muggle technology, culture, and institutions. I think it's a good bet that Dumbledore, hearing Harry's statement, immediately realized that Harry had hatched some hare-brained scheme with all kinds of horrible consequences that were obvious to Dumbledore, with his knowledge of both worlds, but opaque to Harry.

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.

I 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.
Certainly, 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.
A 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.
I think you may be thinking of 100,000 dollars or pounds. 100,000 galleons is 2 million pounds.

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.

This 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.
First, 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.
Besides what dandavis says, even in canon Hermione memory-charmed her parents.
As 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.
Luckily, there are magical methods. Confundus charm, say, or the Imperius curse. (Yes, that does have the downside of being unethical, so Harry probably would not do it.)
Why 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.
I 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.
"I wonder who came up with the idea of suspending liquid latinum inside worthless bits of gold. "
Hm. What if there is an enchantment on all galleons that prevents them from being melted down? Or better yet, just prevents muggles from seeing them? That would solve a lot of these problems, and still would not violate what Griphook said. I can't think of anything in cannon or in HPMOR that contradicts this. But I could be forgetting.
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.
Page 77 in my copy of GoF. So, yes, Muggles can see Wizard money, at least in canon.
Apparently confirmed by Dumbledore's dilemma in Chapter 82. And we're pretty sure that Dumbledore is smart and had access to a time turner. Perhaps the simplest answer is that there's no easy way to move large amounts of money from the muggle to magical world. Is it really possible to buy 17 tonnes of silver without attracting a ton of attention from governments? On the other hand, if the real criminal is found before the debt comes due, it's presumably a non-issue.
The more I think about this the stranger it seems. The war chest was five million pounds? Apparently Dumbledore doesn't have any rich Muggle friends who'd be willing to spot him a loan on that whole 'saving all Britain from a super-powered psychopath' thing. It's not like the DMLE is all-powerful or anything, Moody thinks that the Eye of Vance was "currently in the possession of a powerful Dark Wizard ruling over some tiny forgotten hellhole that wasn't in Britain or anywhere else he'd have to worry about silly rules." What's stopping any enterprising wizard from knocking over an African diamond mine? And while yes, Harry's debt is almost certainly going to be made irrelevant long before it comes due, the fact remains that one of the most powerful wizards in the world considered five million pounds to be really serious money. I'm kind of interested if (how) the story will address each and every possible moneymaking scheme and present reasons why Dumbledore couldn't do them.
Just because the debt could be made irrelevant long before it's due--not to mention long after the story is set to be finished--doesn't mean the "certain rights [that Malfoy has] over [Harry] before then" won't be a major factor in the story.

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.

Uh, 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.

No, 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.
Yeah I love that story.
Really? Seemed rather preachy to me. I got the point within a couple paragraphs, and got bored.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky
Could've been shortened with further editing (I think) but there was more than one point in it.

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.

If 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.
Great 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.
Where is Lucius thinking Harry is Voldamort coming from? I've heard this being discussed as cannon, but I didn't pick it up from the story. Was it in the author's notes somewhere, or did I simply miss something?
It's implied in Ch. 38 and all subsequent Lucius/Harry interactions. Specially relevant is the ironic "I prefer to deal with the part of House Malfoy that's my own age", which Lucius understands in a completely different way than Harry intends.

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.

That'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.
He'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.
The 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.

Well, 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.

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.

Agreed 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.

I'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.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky
I 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.
Ah, that makes sense. I forgot that Lucius thinks he's dealing with Harrymort (and expects him to have a pureblood bias). Hm, that implies that Lucius didn't use Veritaserum on Draco after all (or he's really blinded by his bias). Well, either way I imagine Lucius is extremely confused right now...
Oddly, people seem to be assuming that "Lucius used Veritaserum on Draco" means "Lucius knows everything Draco knows". Which wouldn't follow even if Draco was given 3 drops, let alone the 2 he actually got.
I think that's a reasonable default scenario. Truth is entangled (and Draco/Harry/Hermione's dealings is more so than usual); I would expect that as soon as Lucius asked a question with an unusual answer, he'd keep asking questions until he figured out nearly all that Draco knew. If Lucius used Veritaserum and managed to not ask any such questions, then he might as well have not used Veritaserum at all...
And I believe he was interrogated by aurors investigating this crime - in which Harry was not involved - not by Malfoy.
"What have you been intentionally hiding from me, in descending order of importance?"
That first, while Lucius was primarily concerned about Draco's safety and what happened that night? And it seems like a major breach of trust to ask that directly, which Draco will remember so that it will harm their bond permanently. Also, I wonder how long Draco would be able to ponder which thing is the most important before starting to answer. It might be a moot point, since I'm pretty sure Veritaserum tends to make people think out loud. "Well, I hide a lot of things from you intentionally. That's what you taught me after all. But which one is the most important? I'm not even sure how to rank things like this, so I suppose I'm solving a problem. Harry would say that in this sort of situation, one should hold off on proposing solutions. So let me think of the salient features of how to sort a list of secrets in order of importance..." (no effort on my part to make this in Draco's voice)
No, not that first. But I'd expect him to get around to it eventually. And it won't harm their bond if Draco doesn't remember it- the Hogwarts wards only protect students from being Obliviated while they're in Hogwarts.
I doubt that's true in the purely consequentialist sense, and I don't expect Lucius to think like a consequentialist. A major violation of trust from the person Draco cares about and respects most of all, seems like exactly the sort of damage that could survive Obliviation (as McGonagall hinted in Chapter 6). And my model of Lucius would not want to violate Draco's trust, even if Draco couldn't remember it - he genuinely cares about being a good father to Draco. Old-fashioned nobles believe in virtue ethics, if any.
So, for what reason do you believe you have a better model of Lucius than Dumbledore does?
I don't. But I think I have a better model of what sorts of things Harry has been up to with Draco, than Dumbledore does. I think Dumbledore thinks that "whatever you have done with Draco" is one thing, and will be most salient to Draco. He's not expecting the Bayesian Conspiracy, and Draco's Patronus, and Harry's Patronus, and discovering that the blood purist hypothesis is false, and actually becoming friends with Hermione, and becoming pregnant with Harry's baby, and trying to reform Slytherin house, and so on...
So, if I'm understanding you correctly, you think that Lucius giving Draco Veritaserum is not in itself a violation of his trust? In the context of "assume Lucius will know" "he'll give him Veritaserum" the clear implication is that Lucius would use enough Veritaserum to make answering involuntary, which would seem a clear violation of trust to me.
Right, I assumed that the Veritaserum itself was just necessary as part of the legal process, for outside observers to make sure Draco isn't lying, and that instance is what they were talking about. Even in that context, "Tell me things you wouldn't want to tell me normally" is a violation of trust.
Okay, back up even further. You think that investigating Aurors will give a child victim Veritaserum and then leave him alone with someone else before it wears off? That's horrifying.
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.
Why are you not assuming that Lucius could get his hands on Veritaserum himself and interrogate Draco later in private?
If we wanted to assume he would do that, we could assume that at any time - Harry should have been just as worried after the Christmas break.
On reflection, I do believe I have a better model of Lucius than Dumbledore does. I've read a lot of the same fanfic as the author has and I know a decent amount about the author's thought processes, neither of which is true of Dumbledore. And Dumbledore thinks of people in absolutes, and would probably think Lucius is incapable of honestly wanting to be a good father to Draco since he's "Dark".
Did Eliezer say that Lucius interrogated Draco himself? I can't find it - I had assumed it was aurors, who in the course of investigating this particular crime would have no reason even to mention Harry's name.
I don't think so, no.
Oh right. Slightly careless reading. Sorry about that.
It looks like readers didn't get this. They were overdosed on age-inappropriate romantic hopes or did not notice the gap between Harry's idea and MacGonagal's. Is this the sort of thing you respond to by changing the chapters that are already out? The whole service thing will probably be explained in the next chapter anyway, along with Lucius's "certain rights."
Waitwhat. I did not think anyone thought Harry was marrying McGonagall. Or am I missing something here?
Marriage at eleven is inappropriate.
Aha. Missed the cultural context. Thanks!
Well, I mean that romance at eleven is inappropriate. I suggested marriage was seen because it would signal romance and signals of romance were desired because of hopes. But thank you, Perry. If you hadn't responded I would have answered the wrong question. I thought he misunderstood when I wrote about the gap between Harry's marriage idea and MacGonagal's fealty idea. And then maybe I would not have been clear enough again and there would have been more confusion and we might go on until one got fed up and both simply logged the other as 'dense' and left it at that.
Yeah, it would not have occurred to me that romance at age 11 is inappropriate, as I knew a lot of romantically-inclined people at age 11, and I tend to think of Wizarding Britain as a backwards, medieval society so "marriage at 11" doesn't ring any alarm bells. Plus, 11ish-year-old characters have already talked at length about romance in the story.
Plus... polyjuice.
And since we know no one has the idiot ball, that suggests that the fealty vow (or possibly wedding vow) to Harry was totally unexpected. My impression was that the Wizengamot was stunned by the events. Yes, they expected Lucius to extract something similar from Hermione. They weren't thinking of Lucius's debt to Harry, so until Harry mentioned it and stunned the room, McGonagall's actions wouldn't have occurred to them.
"to obey its Master or Mistress"
I don't think it's totally inconceivable that the wizarding world has marriage vows that sound like that.
It sounds more like a oath of obedience.
Yes. I agree. I was just saying that the gender-inclusive language specifically isn't a good reason to think that, given Wizarding Britain's displayed attitude toward homosexuality.
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.
Yes. I agree.
The 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.
It'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".
This one? It was posted after I said "I accept your bet," so I am honor-bound to pay up. But if you feel bad taking the money I can always donate to SIAI instead.
Yeah that was the comment I was talking about, and nah, I am okay with taking the money, if you also consider it fair enough. I'll PM you paypal detail. If paypal is not convenient for you, we'll figure some other way.
Sent via paypal. Someone make more bets with me so I can come out ahead ;)
When you do that you are robbing Blueberry of a valuable and inexpensive learning experience.
This blew my mind.

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.


  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.

Wow. 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? :-)

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.

Yes, Dumbledore's icy glare at the end seems to imply that he figured it out.

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.

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

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.

"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.

Even 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?

The point there was to avoid the "I can't let you do that, Harry" by making it obvious to Dumbledore (who knows Harry's current wealth) that Harry has a trick up his sleeve. Mentioning the arbitrage trick in public would be a terrible decision, which is why Harry just thinks that.
I'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.
Also 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.

Worst comes to worst, he asks Dumbledore to cure some rich muggles with cancer who are willing to pay.

I 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.

You 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?

I'd reverse those. (Although one could be considered a subset of the other.)
It'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.
Dumbledore 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.
Or that it doesn't fit Dumbledore's narrative.
True as such. But storywise it would seem weird to leave this hanging. That's one reason why I'm already irrationally overinvested, I notice, in my theory that it'll get taken care of pretty much on the side by finding out the true culprit and thus cancelling the debt through the Wizengamot or, failing that, possibly through Draco. There are other options, of course. There have been good points about Dumbledore now having an interest to Make Money Fast for Harry, and about possible other people who might be willing to bankroll a business venture for the newly brightened legend. And, again storywise, I can see handling the "leave it hanging" option in a decent manner as well, if there's some closure about the relations of houses Potter and Malfoy (presumably with Lucius dead or imprisoned and stripped of his status).
This is only true if you assume harry won't have any other use for money for that whole time, which seems unlikely to me.
Either I misunderstand you or you have it exactly wrong. If HJPEV pays back the no-interest loan early, he has less money to spend in the meantime. If HJPEV pays back the no-interest loan at the latest possible time, he has plenty of money he can use to make more money, and to spend, in the meantime.
The way I imagine it working is that any money Harry might acquire is automatically spent on paying off his debt, but he doesn't get into trouble if this doesn't pay the debt until he turns 18. I don't think the situation where he makes plenty of money and does not pay off the loan will be allowed. So either Harry can not worry about the debt and pay it off eventually at the cost of not having any money til then, or pay it off sooner and then have free use of money.
I don't think we need to rely so much on your imagination. If a debt isn't due, it need not be paid on. There's nothing here that says he's required to pay anything else before he graduates. In fact, it's possible that the author meant us to understand that HJPEV didn't have to pay anything right now and that the whole hundred grand isn't due until graduation. But that would mean the author had been a bit sloppier than I'm fairly confident he is.
Emphasis mine. I think (most of) whatever he has must be payed immediately, and the “due” part is only for the rest.
Better than scaring him in a dark alley. At least he'll have time to think through his reaction. Far more important than not scaring Malfoy in public is not insulting him in public. Public scaring isn't too much of an issue unless the nature of the scare is also insulting.
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.
I think that being pushed into showing fear is something like an insult, especially if anyone twits him about it.
I read that at first as "if anybody tweets him about it" and spent some moments pondering the possibility of a magical Twitter (functioning by owl post, of course).

So, Hooter?


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)

Not 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.

Amelia Bones is Director of the DMLE, not Crouch.
Moody saw it though. The Eye of Vance sees everything.