ETA: There is now a third thread, so send new comments there.


Since the first thread has exceeded 500 comments, it seems time for a new one, with Eliezer's just-posted Chapter 33 & 34 to kick things off. 

From previous post: 

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

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

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I can't believe I didn't realize this before.

Someone complained elsewhere (I think it was in the other thread) about Harry being the Boy-who-Lived and having a prophecy and having a cold dark side and being super-rational.

From MoR itself:

It's too much coincidence for one girl to be the strongest magically and academically unless there's a single cause.

It's plausible that one of the Muggle-raised students at Hogwarts could be a science nerd. It's not plausible that that student would also be the Boy-who-Lived. There must be a single cause.

I think it's most likely that Harry's dark side is somehow an effect of being AKed. Perhaps he's a horcrux, like in canon. The hat said no, but it's possible that Harry was killed and the only soul left in him is Voldemort's fragment. Or, without positing souls, maybe horcruxing a person overwrites the victim with a copy of yourself.

Harrymort has a warm side because he was raised in a loving household; he doesn't remember being Voldemort because he was stuck in a child's brain, with the plasticity and pruning that entails (or maybe V. wiped Harrymort's memory for some reason?); he didn't survive the attack, but rather his fresh corpse was appr... (read more)

"Ghosts," Harry said, his voice flat. "You mean those things like portraits, stored memories and behaviors with no awareness or life, accidentally impressed into the surrounding material by the burst of magic that accompanies the violent death of a wizard -"

"Why," I said to myself, "would you have to die to make a ghost? It seems completely arbitrary." But then I thought that perhaps death releases a huge amount of magic that can't normally be drawn upon safely.

But then I had this wicked awesome idea.

What if a Horcrux is the same effect, harnessed deliberately? That's why it requires human sacrifice -- the violent death of a wizard. A controlled ghost-making, operated by a wizard who remains conscious and alive through the whole process, can bind the mind into an object, arrange for contingent regrowth of the caster from the record... Yes. Horcruxes are ghosts created under controlled conditions.

Which in turn suggests that you might be able to make a dying person into a superghost (or maybe even an immortal living person). Kill them to make a horcrux, but make the sacrifice immortal instead of the caster.

That’s a cool idea! Also, it nicely has an analogue property to cryonics: you need to do something squicky (kill the guy) to save his life, in a fashion. Since the results would be closer in time and less speculative, it should overcome part of the revulsion of cryonics but allow the rest of it be overcome consciously.

ZOMG! That makes sense! So much sense that J.K. Rowling really missed a chance to have a great Revan Moment in canon. Imagine the shock ending if, as Voldemort staggers from a mortal wound in the last pages of Deathly Hallows, he explains this to Harry, then: " only a shell...and have never been anything more. (cough) My purpose has only been to prepare you...Make you strong...make you gather the Hallows and become invincible... You. Are. Voldemort! BWA! HA! HAAAAAA!"

This would make sense of canon scenes like, for e.g., Voldy's re-animation ceremony in Goblet of Fire only using a little of Harry's blood, instead of having Ratface cut his throat, and how he calls his Death Eaters off and fights Harry solo instead of having them Just Shoot Him.

Back to MoR, yeah, I think "Harrymort" is a fiendishly cool idea! (up-voted)

I agree that it's a very cool idea, though it may be because I still have fond memories of KotOR myself (on a side note, it was the first instance where I realised that interactive games have certain artistic potentials unmatched by other media - that moment would not have been nearly as effective had I not walked in Revan's shoes for dozens of hours). It does, however, sound like the kind of idea other fanfiction works might have explored before. Does anyone remember something like that?
Yes, that is one of the fairly unique properties of video games. If you've read anything by Heidegger about how Greek tragedy was the highest form of art due to the participatory nature of the autidence, his comments make a lot more sense if he was talking about video games instead.

Is it the author's opinion that the creation of house elves was a terribly evil deed? It would seem that to think that after their creation, they would want to do what they have been designed to do and so would be no more evil than creating an intelligence which would want to bowl and fish all day. Even if we accept that creating conscious entities which are forced by means of their preferences to do menial work is wrong, it would seem to be better to create them, than to force those who don't enjoy such work to do it. Is Harry just confused by his intuitions about the evil of slavery, without sufficient reflection?

ETA: While this argument works in the abstract and is useful for countering human biases against "slavery" and applies in the particular for the creation of Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, house elves have addition features I wasn't considering which makes their creation morally evil.

Is it the author's opinion that the creation of house elves was a terribly evil deed?

It had been, but...

Even if we accept that creating conscious entities which are forced by means of their preferences to do menial work is wrong, it would seem to be better to create them, than to force those who don't enjoy such work to do it. a powerful argument I had never considered.

Though there's logic to this argument, pretty much everything else about the way house elves were made is evil. They're created, or conditioned to brutally torture themselves if they even think they've displeased their masters or broken a rule. They have no labor rights and can be mistreated at will, to the point that mistreatment is built in as a product feature.

We can only imagine what sort of miserable Dickensian conditions they live in when they're not at work. They're forced to wear ragged, salvaged sacks, as giving them clothes = firing them, i.e. denying them the work and subservient position they're designed to want. This is a needless cruelty on top of everything else. Heck, if I were an aristocrat wizard with house elves, I'd want mine to go around in elegant livery, as a demonstration of how magnificent my Estate is. But I couldn't do that, because the poor little creatures were made (modified?) by a sadist.

Heck, if I were an aristocrat wizard with house elves, I'd want mine to go around in elegant livery, as a demonstration of how magnificent my Estate is. But I couldn't do that

You could get them elegantly embroidered little dishtowels clipped into place with stylized sugar tongs made of silver.

Hogwarts elves in canon do wear something very much like that.
You can't give them clothes, but no one said anything about not giving them ARMOR. Give them fine spider silk armor, it will be indistinguishable from silk.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
True. You have persuaded me back to my original position. Whoever made house elves was disgusting. It could have been done right (complementary intelligent species that enjoys doing a lot of necessary things we don't, while still having rich lives of their own), but it wasn't.
This is pointing at a general problem in sf-- problems are needed to move the plot along, so some development which might have good or mixed results is burdened with other features that make it obviously bad. The usual handling of longevity and immortality in sf is an example, but so is the [spoiler] included with the cosmetic surgery in Westerfeld's Uglies or an AI in a novel called B.E.A.S.T. which was challenged by throwing a series of deadly attacks at it-- it becomes violent and we have a story, but what would happen with a better treated AI would be more interesting.
Do you think it would be evil to create house elves that honestly enjoy their jobs and situations? a powerful argument I had never considered.

How would you say this relates to the ethics of creating an FAI? In some ways house elves were created for a similar reason that we would create an FAI. Would it be something about 'consciousness' that separates the two constructions ethically? If so, I wonder whether creating a 'helper' agent that in some sense is conscious and 'enjoys' what it does is better or worse than creating a raw optimised agent that we wouldn't consider conscious.

It occurs to me that what a house elf considers fun is not all that much different from the perspective of all of value-space from what we might consider fun.

I think it's worth distinguishing creating work-loving entities ex nihilo from modifying existing entities against their will to become work-loving. Canon rather implies the latter; handling the procedure ethically would be tricky, as baseline elves likely would not only resist being value-enslaved, but would want the children they birth and raise to be like themselves.

That's certainly canon!Hermione's problem. But there is something wrong with House-Elves, at least in canon, even after whatever went into their creation. They enjoy serving humans, fine; I'm with MoR!Harry about that. But (possibly unbeknownst to Harry and Hermione yet) there are House-Elves who are very unhappy with their current situation, such as Dobby (who disliked his master) and Winky (who loved her master but was fired and never recovered from this). It always bothered me that canon!Hermione never outgrew her early phase of S.P.E.W. and never tried to do anything that would actually help them. (However, the Word of God is that she did help them in her adulthood, so that's all right then.)
Even if we accept that creating conscious entities which are forced by means of their preferences to do menial work is wrong, it would seem to be better to create them, than to force those who don't enjoy such work to do it. This is a bit of a false dichotomy - you don't have to force anyone to do it. Offer a sufficiently high salary to scrub Hogwarts' toilet (or just to cast Cleaning Charms on them), and voila, you have free-willed, willing, unmodified house workers. The meaningful question (at least, to the degree that any moral question can be meaningful) is whether there is any value in that "unmodified" qualifier.
It matters precisely to the extent that the premodified entity desires to not be modified and that the premodified entity's values matter. That the premodified entity's values matter seems to have been generally assumed all round in this thread. That the premodified entity desires to not be modified seems an extremely reasonable assumption.
Sorry, I should have used "non-artificial" or something else; I intended to also include the quoted case of house elves having been created ad hoc.
I maintain that house-elves created from scratch are completely different from identical house-elves created by modifying free elves against their will. Lumping the two together will produce non-well-defined moral judgments.
They still don't enjoy the work, even if they find doing it instrumentally rational. They are forced to do it by circumstances, and in a better world they wouldn't be.
But in a world with house elves, they are even worse off - they are just unemployed, rather than having the option of taking the job. I doubt more than a trifling amount of the money saved by Hogwarts trickles down to them. I realise that considering the effect of house elves on the job market goes far outside the scope of this problem in the philosophy of consciousness, and much far outside the scope of the Potterverse; but once you start taking into account the welfare of the hypothetical replacements for house elves, there's no real way to dodge the question. For philosophical debates, it's probably better to stick with the pig that wants to be eaten.
I pointed out that your argument doesn't contradict Locas's statement that those who don't enjoy the work will be forced to do it, and specifically disclaimed that choosing to do the work regardless might well be rational of them (and hence making them better off). Yet in reply you elaborate in what manner this decision can be rational, as if objecting to what I said. I don't see what you disagree with (besides usage of the word "forced"). Also: They are not unemployed, they choose the next best option available.
That. You're right. It's still a strictly worse situation for them, though, since they lose one option and gain nothing.
Is it wrong to make a pig that wants to be eaten []?
I'm not sure, but I wouldn't make one and would work to prevent one's creation. On the one hand, death is an intrinsic evil, unlike mere drudgery. On the other hand, I support the right to self terminate.
Have you ever closed an application on your computer? What distinguishes a person from any other computation, and why does that particular distinction carry so much moral weight?
A person is reflectively self aware. Evolution built me to care about humans, and upon reflection, the values I have include non-humans who have features like being reflectively self aware.
Is that what you would want to want, given the option, or is that a lizard-brain instinct that gets in the way of your ability to evaluate what's really the right thing to do?
I can still interpret that either way. Do you mean that on reflection you realize that you emotionally desire that, or that on reflection you *decide" that that's what's important?
There's also Hayekian arguments-- self-aware agents are apt to accumulate information about their own desires and activities. Systems which allow that information to have an effect seem to be more capable.
Or they could've just created self cleaning houses, so no one is forced to do work.
Needs multiply. If houses and clothes were self-cleaning and self-repairing, there would be other, high-end tasks that need taking care of, which may not be automatically fun. taking care of the lawn, cooking (for some people and for most meals is not fun). As your mundane tasks increase due to better technology, it is useful to have someone take them over. It is very useful to have an AI loyal to you.
Which chapter was Harry discussing the creation of house elves in?
Chaper 42 [] .
Thanks. I do remember my eyes glazing over a bit around about then but that's a good point I missed.

Theory: the 'spell of starlight' is a scrying or remote-viewing effect which Quirrelmort originally developed to keep an eye on the Pioneer horcrux. It's strenuous because of the extreme range, possible at all only because of the strong sympathetic connection involved. Reinforcing the sympathetic connection is important to maintain the possibility of Apparating out there, and sharing the experience helps to establish a sympathetic link between Harry's scar/mysterious dark side and the horcrux, which will eventually make it possible to do something nasty to him from far away.

Just occurred to me: if magic ability is genetic, it should in theory be possible to use gene therapy/retroviruses/etc. (and perhaps some magic) to make all the Muggles into wizards! (Or at least all the ones yet to be conceived or something.) I can just imagine Harry creating a Plague of Magic.

Almost certainly not in the timeframe of the fic. I think that 1995 was about the first time we successfully used a retrovirus to cure a human disease, and we still don't have the tech to create a contagious disease to do so.

Oh, good point. I always forget that HP isn't technically in the present day.
He could easily overwhelm any wizarding army/faction by raising an army of magically enabled Muggles, once he can access the technology. Since there are only tens of thousands of magical people in Britain, just converting 500 muggles to wizards would make Harry the dominant force in the magical world.
That's an interesting move, though it leaves out the organizational challenge and the amount of time needed for training. And it seems unlikely that such a force could be kept secret from the wizarding world....
It's true that it would take many years, but the payoff would be huge. It seems all but inevitable that someone smart (i.e. Harry, Draco, Hermione, Dumbledore, or Quirrelmort) will do it eventually.
The payoff would be.... ill-defined. How sure are you that you can retain control? That one of your more ambitious and inventive upgraded muggles won't try setting up on their own? That one of them won't get hold of your give-wizardry magic and share the wealth? When you see "So You Want to Be a Wizard" on WikiLeaks, it's too late.
You could make taking your Mark a price of being given magic.
No! It was pointed out how a wizard has to study hard before doing magic. So magic enabled Muggles would be rather useless or dangerous. No way to raise an army. (Also he would have to be accepted as the leader of an Muggle group) More interesting is the opposite way, of removing the magic gene or disabling it. A vaccine against magic.
I don't think he likes chaos quite that much.
Good idea. For some reason I immediately thought about Muggles exterminating wizards with a gene-engineered disease.

Why do wizards - particularly in MoR, where most people are smarter - carry one wand apiece? This doesn't seem to be an absolute practical limitation wherein only one wand may be mastered at a time. In book seven, Harry is simultaneously the master of the Elder Wand and his own original with Fawkes's feather in it. Why doesn't everyone habitually walk out of Ollivander's with two, so as to have a spare in hazardous situations or in case one should be lost?

We know that, in a pinch, you can use someone else's wand. But can you use nobody's wand? Maybe the wands are intelligent enough that they don't fully activate (although they will still do testing waves) until after they choose a wizard, but stupid enough that they'll let anybody use them once they've been activated. We also need a rule to deactivate the wand after its wizard dies, although a tradition of burying a wizard with their wand might be enough. There could be a black market in used wands, but as long as it's small, most people will still only have one.
Note how much difficulty the Weasleys have in buying wands. Rowling isn't very good about economics, but I get the impression that buying a wand is comparable to buying a car or perhaps a house - except that you can't really share a wand like you would a car or house and you can (and do) carry your wand everywhere with you. So 1 is the best number.

Wands cost 7 Galleons. People throw around comparable sums all the time in canon. Percy Weasley bets 10 Galleons on a Quidditch game, heck, Harry buys three sets of Omnioculars (wizarding binoculars) at 10 Galleons apiece to watch the Quidditch World Cup. Many wizarding supplies less useful than a wand cost considerably more. There really is no good reason for witches and wizards not to carry multiple wands except for tradition. Even the Weasleys could afford multiple wands if they made it a priority.

9Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Rowling's money is wildly inconsistent. I use the figure of one Galleon = $100USD and stick with it.
Still doesn't make sense why Gred and Forge would have used wands. $700 for the right wand is a perfectly sensible purchase, even on a limited budget, considering how much difference it tends to make and that a wand typically lasts a lifetime.
OK, those are good examples. I didn't remember the specific numbers, but now I'm wondering why Ronald had to suffer with a broken wand so long if they are just 7 galleons. Hogwarts seems to be expensive; surely letting Ronnie go without, damaging his grades and learning, isn't a very good idea.
It might be partly psychological. The Weasleys are poor, and they're habituated to trying to save money. Ask someone who lived through the Depression whether they would rent a nice suit for a job interview, or pay double for high-reliability smoke detectors. Or, ask yourself whether you have more than one smoke detector in each room of your house, with the batteries changed out of phase (one set replaced in summer and winter, the other in spring and fall).
One is no doubt the best number for most people, but there's considerable variation in wealth-- Malfoys should have extra wands.
The wand chooses the wizard and so on... I'm pretty sure that the Elder Wand and Harry Potter was a weird exception to the rule that you are paired with one wand at a time. On the other hand, I can imagine all sorts of scenarios where having two (or more) wands, even if the extra ones are less than fully powerful might be a good idea.
Good wizards seem to be able to do magic without a wand in a pinch, so I could see why they might not have it on their person at least.
Good point. Two on your person and at least one stashed somewhere else. Probably one in accio range too.
[-][anonymous]12y 17

Eliezer, is there any chance any speaker at the Singularity Summit might open or close with "Happy happy boom boom swamp swamp swamp!"? For numerous reasons, I think it would be most hilarious if Ray Kurzweil could be persuaded to do so.

I disagree. It would be much funnier if Randi did it.

Upon seeing DinosaurusGede's awesome pic, my first thought was that were I able to draw (I cannot), I would draw Dumbledore wailing on an electric guitar and saying "THIS was your father's rock".

I just got an urge to take a sip of Comed-Tea.

Am I the only one who now wants to campaign for gay rights with the slogan "Death Eaters against homophobia!"?

A few reviewers are speculating that Lucius thinks Harry is Voldemort. Any thoughts on that? I'm not sure yet, but rereading their conversation with that in mind is pretty interesting.

Akrasia cure: Self-cast the imperius curse.

Or better yet, use it as a decision-theory precommitment.

Well obviously I'm not going to popularize a method of immortality that requires killing people! That would defeat the entire point!


We know from canon that a Horcrux is really just a backup copy, so that on average you probably only about double your lifespan by making one, at best. But it seems to me that based on what Harry has been told, he should believe that a Horcrux makes you immortal and unkillable. Given this belief, in the absence of any better way of achieving immortality, the spell is considerably better than baseline.

Set up a Horcrux clinic. A pair of people come in, fill out some paperwork, flip a coin in the presence of a notary, and the winner of the coin toss kills the loser to make a Horcrux. If nobody ever cast the spell, the loser was going to die eventually anyway, and if you do it when both parties are close to dying of old age (though this would probably be a needlessly reckless strategy, all things considered) then the loser doesn't even lose all that much.

You could save half of the wizarding world from certain death.

Oh, and Harry didn't even ask whether it might be possible to substitute an animal for the human sacrifice, or make a portrait of... (read more)

I got the same impression. Harry!MoR in general seems to be very good at giving rationalist speeches (and internal monologues) but rather poor when it comes to actually thinking rationally under this kind of pressure. He may not let five die in the trolley problem when it is presented in a nice philosophical form but it wouldn't surprise me at all if he encountered an analogous problem like we see here and completely fail to even look at options once he hits an emotional roadblock. It would make me hesitant to trust him.
As I understood it, Harry's revulsion wasn't against the need for a sacrifice but against Dumbledore's fear, Harry would consider the cost of a sacrifice as comparately low. Thinking about ways to lower that cost would not have convinced Dumbledore that Harry took that cost serious the way rejecting the thought outright might have.
I doubt it; he is a self-described consequentialist, and doesn't seem to be unaware of the math or unwilling to do it. (By the way, it's completely appropriate to feel revulsion at the idea of killing the one person in the trolley problem... as long as you feel five times as much revulsion at the idea of letting the five in the trolley die.) Edit: The bigger problem with your scenario is that, if I remember correctly, creating a Horcrux requires genuine hatred and malevolence, not just any death. Edit 2: According to the Harry Potter Wiki [], it also requires some other unspecified "horrific act". Edit 3: I wonder whom Voldemort killed in order to Horcrux the Pioneer plaque.
That's what I mean by an irrational degree of revulsion. As far as we can tell, it doesn't even occur to him that a Horcrux trades off a finite life for an infinite one. There are mind-altering spells. The clinic doctor can make you evil enough to cast the spell, and then do Finite Incantatem once the process is done.
Does that mean your backup copy will be of the evil you?
Haha, good point. Still, this is all in the hypothetical false world that Harry should have inferred from the information available to him, in which Horcruxes grant undyingness rather than just making backups.

For all those who say that the 'unconventional ship' hinted at is Hermione/Griphook, I'd just like to say that's preposterous, and there is no way Eliezer would include such a thing in the story.

The Durmstrang houseboat from Goblet of Fire, must be the unconventional ship.


Durmstrang houseboat/Beauxbaton carriage
There were some sparks between Harry and the Sorting Hat. Or there could be something between Fred, George, Hermione, and time-turned Hermione, which would be a completely inappropriate use of a Time-Turner, but I suspect it's been done and thus would fail the originality requirement.
Yes, it came with illustrations [].
I was going to say Mr. Hat and Cloak/Blaise's Mom. Except that I'm kinda hoping that Mr. Hat and Cloak IS Blaise's Mom.
3Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Hermione/Griphook isn't completely wrong enough to qualify.
Chapter 42 Is it really Black/Pettigrew? Because I'm not sure in what sense that would be 'completely wrong'. But maybe I've just been hanging out with too many yaoi fangirls.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
I told someone in advance; in particular, I told them there would be a completely wrong ship, they guessed Fred/George, I told them "not wrong enough", and then said "Sirius and Pettigrew". They said, "OH, THAT'S JUST WRONG". So I figured that, yes, that was justifiably describable as "completely wrong". Also, the fact that I googled obvious spellings of the ship and found that it only seemed to have been done once or twice (I forgot the exact number), in a fandom that has a convention for using "Snumbledore" to indicate Snape+Lupin+Dumbledore, seemed to suggest that it was pretty damned wrong.
Really? I'm surprised that that ship is that rare. It always struck me as one of the more plausible ones. This seems to reflect a general pattern that whatever makes ships common is not very correlated with their plausibility.
Yes, this seems very consistent, except for canon ships, ships of minor characters, and MY favorite non-canon ship, which is popular and plausible :P
Which non-canon ship is that?
I was being (mostly) facetious, but Sirius/Remus.
I approve of this ship. Are you a Shoebox fan?
Hell yes I am a Shoebox fan.
What does Shoebox mean in this context? (This is one of the few cases where I think I've got a good excuse for asking instead of Googling.)
It refers to a particularly popular Potterverse fanfic. (See wikipedia on Harry Potter Fandom []). Set in the marauder years which itself refers to about 1970 when Harry's parents would have been in school. It's rather hard to track down online but here is a PDF adaptation [].
It does. None of the four possible combinations of Pettigrew, Black and Lupin seems remotely unlikely. The fact that in the Sirrius-Pettigrew case one of them killed the other doesn't particularly reduce the plausibility either (in the real world or in fiction!)
I assume you mean in MoR rather than canon?
No. Reconstructing from what I wrote way back then I seem to be referring to the fact that it is not unusual for lovers of any kind to kill each other.
--François de La Rochefoucauld, Maximes 72
That was me. I still agree with my earlier comment, but I must say that you carried it off in the story in a remarkably natural way. It seemed to just come out as a perfectly natural fact about the universe, not something awful as it is when informed by canon, fan fic, and the horrible depiction of Pettigrew in the films.
Congratulations on a completely wrong ship done completely right.
Professor Summers/Author insert?
3Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Can you do worse? Try harder.

In my secret SIAI slash fics, I ship you with a tsundere Nick Bostrom. Is that worse?

Maybe an acausal ship? Say, Harry / Riddle?

Sinhababu's 2008 Pacific Philosophical Quarterly article is the definitive essay on acausal ships.

Lewis may actually have heard of the physics, but Sinhababu seems to think of many worlds as a purely philosophical construct.
Only on Less Wrong does the phrase "acausal ship" make sense.
I'm not sure it even makes sense here...
Now [] it does.
MoR!Harry / canon!Harry. Must be done. (Maybe a three-way with Clarence the Angel, who was clearly responsible for bringing them together.)
I think MoRDraco and canonDraco would be funnier.
Hedwig/Quirrelmort. Dog!Sirius/Firenze. Cat!Mcgonagall/Nagini.
But the Hedwig can never be ...
Oh yes, she can be. Even hedgehogs and porcupines can be, contrary to a somewhat popular opinion.
* Crabbe / Fawkes * Bane / Snape * Dolores Umbridge / Colin Creevey * Luna Lovegood / Nicolas Flamel

But Nicolas Flamel is married!

And I'm still not sure if that's completely wrong enough to qualify. I tried to get some wrongness from the perspective of canon and some just plain squick into each of those suggestions.
I was being silly - the joke was that this was the only thing I chose to object to out of the list.
The relevant trope being I Take Offense To That Last One []. Or, depending on perspective, Arson Murder And Jaywalking []. Warning: TV Tropes (obviously).
At this rate, if the FAI problem isn't solved before nasty AI's arise accidentally, I think the immediate cause of failure will be TV Tropes.
I now have the image of an UFAI tiling the universe with TV Tropes stuck in my head.
Clearly this would maximize utility!
The problem is 'wrong' and 'worse' here operate on multiple dimensions and are highly subjective. Fred/George is one way to go.
That can't possibly be original.
It's so, so not.
There are 252 results on for Fred/George fics genre-tagged with "Romance". I'm sure that's vastly underestimating the true number of fics with Fred/George twincest.
"Misestimating" may be closer to the mark - it looks to me like there's there's a lot of threesomes in that list. That said, check out the degree of interest on Livejournal []. Or, for that matter, the first bullet under "Fan Works" on the TV Tropes "Twincest" page [].
* Quirreldemort / young Tom Riddle as preserved in the diary * McGonagall as a cat / Dobby * Mr. Hat and Cloak / Zabini * Harry / the Time Turner... actually get married * Nearly Headless Nick / Moaning Myrtle * Dumbledore / James Randi (actually, that might work too well to be the "completely wrong ship"... ) (I wonder how many of those (that consist only of canon characters) have already been done. Probably all of them.)
1Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Btw, after some complaints about suspension of disbelief, I substituted Michael Shermer for James Randi.

Aww, I liked that element, and it doesn't seem that implausible as such things go; I once heard an apparently sincere conspiracy theory that holds that the reason nobody has ever won Randi's million-dollar prize is because he uses his own prodigious psychic powers to stop them from doing so.


Aw, why? Randi looks more wizardly (and must be shipped with Dumbledore at some point, they're perfect for each other, they're both wise accomplished old white-bearded gay wizards...), and I don't see why Shermer requires less suspension of disbelief. (The main thing that made me confused there was figuring that if Randi were really a wizard but still the Randi we know, he'd probably have long ago tried to scientifically investigate magic as Harry intends to, and made some of the same discoveries and many more, and possibly become a supremely powerful and well-known wizard. Am I on the right track or have I overlooked something else implausible that people complained about?)

3Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
That was the complaint. Personally I think a lot of people are confusing expert skepticism with expert science, but if the reader says you're messing with their suspension of disbelief, the reader is always right. Substituting Michael Shermer just makes it a Shout Out instead of an actual conspiracy theory.
Obscure technical tangent but no, they are not. The reader can be confused about the meaning of the phrase, introspectively weak, using the claim purely as a rhetorical soldier or, as is most likely to be the case, some combination thereof.
0Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
They're still right. If that's what happened to the reader and broke their suspension of disbelief, that's what happened. It doesn't matter if the reader made a mistake. Your text caused that mistake.
There's this principle, which is good to apply when you can; and then there's the principle of choosing your audience. If you explain a fact in plain language in one sentence, you will miss some percentage of skimmers. If you bring it up four times, you will catch more skimmers and lose anyone who wants a faster pace and less repetition. Similar balances hold for what things do and do not cost suspension of disbelief. If you obey the reader who finds Randi to be a challenge to that suspension, then you weaken your hold on the reader who thought the original version of the tidbit was charming, and has never heard of this replacement fellow. And the reader who disapproves of excessive editing after the fact.
I shouldn't need to explain this to you. You have authored essays on the concept of 'subjectively objective' and my statement was quite clear and even noted that it was purely a technical tangent. In fact, the upvote on its parent was mine. "What the reader says" is not the same thing as "what happened to the reader". 'What happened to the reader' can be fully determined by the timeless state of reader themselves but is not necessarily the same thing as what the reader says. Just as someone who says "my prior for A is 0.34" when their prior is actually "0.87" is wrong, despite the fact that priors are subjective. Subjective does not mean what people say about themselves must be true. Still false. True.
As Eliezer says, a lot of people confuse expert skepticism with expert science... Randi in real life, as far as I can tell, would not "scientifically investigate magic", but instead, whenever anything happens that looks to some people like magic, he tries to cover it up and pretend it never happened.
I did have some issues there, but I don't think it was that serious. The $1M prize is a clever way of finding muggleborns! (though of course anyone doing real magic is whisked away and declared a failure)
Sadly, the best I can come up with is Lensman!Harry / James Randi.
No, wait. Gandalf / Obi-Wan Kenobi.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Okay, cat!McGonagall/Dobby and Crabbe/Fawkes are both completely wrong enough to be competitive. But of course, it's more impressive if the completely wrong ship is less high-entropy - that is, if you don't have to dip so low in the search ordering to find it. Incidentally, I tried to look it up, and as far as I can tell, this particular ship has been done exactly once before. Surprising, considering how near the characters are in canon. I suppose it's just that wrong.
What about a high-entropy but suitable ship, like Sorting Hat/Voyager Horcrux? The intelligence without sentience and non-intelligent vital spirit seem like a perfect match for each other.
Perfect. (But I note that the sorting hat doesn't have intelligence. It piggy-backs off the wearer's.)
A relationship with a non-sentience doesn't seem to me to be something I'd really call a "relationship" in that sense.
Someone really doesn't like this entire branch of conversation. Even the parent was downvoted. (I went through and removed all the -1s myself.)
The problem is that the pairings feel too reasonable higher up in the search ordering. For example, I considered Moaning Myrtle / ?, Hagrid / ?, and Trelawney / ? but couldn't find other high-search-order matches at fanfic-SL4. With students characters I found it especially difficult, as magical teenagers are just too plausibly randy + weird.
Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me...
It should feel at least somehow wrong but it actually does not. Then again, I suspect that most "happenings" that include Hagrid could pretty soon end with a grave medical emergency of some sort, generating copious amounts of squick. Luna/Draco/Karkaroff?
Three way between Kreature, Umbrage, and Filch. Actually, make it a four way by adding a Dementor. (Since we know from book 6 that they have some means of breeding) There, is that worse enough? :)
It's true, every orgy is better with a half-giant.
And you just know that Hagrid would bring a pet or two.
8Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Okay, I think we can end this thread now.
Got it. Something else for the weirdtopia?
Dumbledore with a woman.
huge grin Of course not. He would never do that. It's completely preposterous!
Not completely wrong enough.
That's.. just you, right?
Where is this talk of unconventional ships?
The conversation refers to the AN for chapter 34:
My sketchy knowledge of fanfic subculture is showing. What does 'ship mean? I thought it meant making a character more wonderful than it is in canon, but apparently not.

It's short for "relationship", but it's also used as a verb, which means to portray or want two (or more) characters to be romantically and/or sexually involved.


"I ship the Whomping Willow and the Devil's Snare." = "I am amused by imagining those two plants in a relationship" or "in at least one derivative creative work, I have represented those two plants as being in a relationship."

"This fic contains only canon ships." = "This work of fanfiction romantically pairs characters in the same arrangements they have in the source work."

Thank you. I would have assumed that non-canon relationships were slash, which goes to show how fringy I am. Is there a word for making a character more wonderful than they are in canon?
Some [] sorta [] Sue []. Warning: TV Tropes.
Mary Sue [] being the generic version. Warning: TV Tropes Wikipedia [] for the TV Tropes-phobic
I think slash refers especially to non-canon gay relationships, and fiction centered around or involving such relationships. (It may actually refer to gay male relationships in particular, I'm not quite sure. I only know the basics of fanfic terminology.)
"Femslash" seems to have some currency as the lesbian equivalent of "slash". I've also seen "slash" used to refer to both types of gay relationships. I've also seen it used to refer to sexual content (straight or gay), and sometimes specifically to gay sexual content (to the point where some people say PG-rated fic with gay couples is not slash - in particular there's a tripartite division with "gen", "het", and "slash", where the first has no sex, the second has straight sex, and the third has gay sex). I don't think non-canonicity is part of any definition I've seen.
It may be just me, but I get the impression that it's not really slash if the characters in question are gay in canon, even if not for each other. I might argue that, say, Ben Bruckner / Melanie Marcus (both canon!gay, opposite sexes) would count as slash, but I expect that's a minority position.
Ahh, thanks for the explanation. It took me a few posts to become confident that A/B was referring to romance and I didn't notice the abbreviation and verbating of 'relationship' at all.
Just to check: Did it turn out to be Sirius/Peter, as referenced in chapter 42? I notice that the phrase "artistically complete" appeared in the notes, so I'm guessing yes. Edit: I was initially going to suggest something involving either bestiality [] or Animagus-form sex; possibly Ron/Scabbers, some combination of Marauders, or Luna/Thestral []. The part about only finding one prior example made me think of Hagrid/Dobby [].
Yes. []
Who says that?


So, traitors. Were there any? Did they play any part in the fight at all or was it just the principle of the thing? The whole point of the Draco+Hermione vs Harry war was on the subject of unity. I was kind of hoping for some object lessons on just how much Harry's advantage of being able to trust his soldiers helped him while Draco and Hermione had to put in place extra precautions to protect themselves from sleeper agents. Or, well, even an offhand mention of "Chaos got 3 extra fighters" to acknowledge the issue.

Agreed, I was waiting to hear about this and disappointed that it didn't come up.

Ch. 33:

  1. The three-way tie, while clearly dramatically convenient for Eliezer, and adequately foreshadowed, is just so boring.

  2. Was anyone else briefly confused because they had forgotten that the war was continuing even after the awarding of the Christmas Wish?

Re 2: Yes, I'd forgotten that as well. Also, very disappointed about the skipping of about a month or so there. If Eliezer doesn't explicitly fill in the gaps, I'm considering writing a MoR fanfic (tentatively titled "MoR: Battle School") after at least the wars are over and intervening events are solidified, to fill in that time.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Go for it. Most people complain about the pace being too slow - I think you might even be the first to complain about it being too fast - but that's certainly one way to fix it, if you're inspired with the vision of a battle. There's a chance though hardly a certainty that I would answer questions before you wrote, or declare the story canon afterward.
Well I hadn't been complaining about the pacing before, so the sudden jump over a significant period seemed wrong. Surely these people would have done all sorts of interesting learning / use of magic over the course of the battles, and Harry and Draco would have been doing science to it, and there would have been interesting developments in Quirrell's classes. Thanks for the offer - I will surely pester you with questions when I get around to it.
Phrase recognised, giggling performed.
Now I want biscuits.
You mean biscuits.
I believe it is customary to call fanfiction of fanfiction "cookies".
In the case of HP fanfiction, that should be "biscuits".
So could we then call fanfiction of fanfiction of fanfiction "crumbs"?
I guess. Or "chips", maybe.
What do you think about paperclips?
In general? Or as a term for fanfiction of fanfiction of fanfiction?
Both, of course. Though, in the context of this topic, only the latter is relevant.
As a term for fanfiction of fanfiction of fanfiction, I don't think it's a good one. I mean, as awesome as paperclips are, if we called everything "paperclips" it might get a little confusing. I suggested "crumbs" because that's what's left after you eat a cookie, but I'm not seeing what this has to do with paperclips.
I thought it might help promote paperclip awareness, but now I agree with your reasonable point about saturating terminology for everything with the same word, and the confusion it would generate. Your thought processes are getting better too! c=@
For your information, Clippy, a paperclip can be rendered fairly adequately in Unicode with ⊂≣⊇ (depending on the font, of course).
⊂≣⊇ (I pasted the unicode, not the html escapes)
Great discovery! Do you know of glyphs I can use in your encoding scheme that resemble an unbent or broken paperclip, for when I want to express negative emotions? ("Emotions" in the de-anthropomorphized sense, of course.) All I have now is stuff like c=/ and (_/.
⊂≣&#x2287 does not bear sufficient similarity to a paperclip. User:Douglas_Knight's glyphs are better.
Thank you! You are a good paperclipper. c=@ ⊂≣⊇
Re 1: It would work better if I hadn't had to wait a week to see it. Such is the difficulty with installment fiction.

I just had a thought WRT Harry's controversial apology to Hermione in Chapter 42. This is the Harry that lectured McGonagall on the Planning Fallacy, while demonstrating that he really does assume a worst-case scenario (insisting on purchasing a magical first aid kit just in case one of his fellow students ended up maimed and dying in front of him). I think it's entirely plausible that he could have spent the whole time Hermione was falling imagining that maybe he'd forgotten to stir the ground hen's teeth (or whatever) into the Feather Fall potion six t... (read more)

This is a boy who casually expressed his intention to rape Luna Lovegood to someone he'd just met, assuming that boy's stated "intention" to murder her was equally casual, and equally serious. Major, major misogyny here.

I don't read that as misogyny. Merely a willingness to utterly humiliate a low status enemy by whatever means practical. If it was Larry Lovegood I expect the conversation would involve castration. Or perhaps sodomy via broomstick.

This is a good analysis. I have two nitpicks: 1) I think Draco is mostly classist rather than sexist. 2) Hermione is currently Draco's ally. Her parentage greatly obstructed her getting there, but now that she has that status, much is changed.
One powders hens' teeth.

The most compelling evidence for an afterlife in canon was Harry's "near-death experience" in Deathly Hallows. While "dead", Harry talks to Dumbledore one last time, and Harry learns things that only Dumbledore would have known.

Of course, MoR!Harry doesn't have this evidence.

Harry learns things that only Dumbledore would have known.

Does he? It certainly seems possible that Harry is just filling in the blanks himself. I just went back and re-read it. Consider:

"Explain," said Harry.
"But you already know," said Dumbledore. . .
"But if Voldemort used the Killing Curse," Harry started again, "and nobody died for me this time -- how can I be alive?"
"I think you know," said Dumbledore. "Think back. . ."

The information that Dumbledore actually does provide to Harry is either inconclusive or insubstantial -- e.g. Harry asks about the peculiar behavior of his wand, and Dumbledore says he cannot but guess. Harry asks where they are, Dumbledore cannot answer and says that they are where ever Harry thinks they are. Harry asks about the Deathly Hallows:

"Real, and dangerous, and a lure for fools," said Dumbledore. "And I was such a fool But you know, don't you? I have no secrets from you anymore. You know."
. . .
So you'd given up looking for the Hallows when you saw the Cloak?"
"Oh yes," said Dumbledore faintly. . . "You know what happened. You know."

... (read more)
More to the point, MoR!Author doesn't have this evidence!

[I]f we lived in the sort of universe where horrible things were only allowed to happen for good reasons, they just wouldn't happen in the first place.

I love this line and am probably going to be quoting it frequently.

Edit: ...and Harry was pretty magnificent in that scene, in general. "Wrong! I want the secret of the Dark Lord's immortality in order to use it for everyone!" was one of my favourite moments, even if Harry was mistaken about the feasibility of that particular plan.

Chp 39 (the Dementor)

I think that Dumbledore and Harry were too quick to conclude that the Dementor could just be used as a distraction. It was Harry's first idea (once he turned cold), and Dumbledore stopped him there. Cold!Harry didn't even spend 5 minutes on the problem - compare with Harry's instructions to Fred & George in the Hold Off on Proposing Solutions MOR chapter. If there's a plot, that seems much too obvious for Quirrell.

What immediately occurred to me (similar to the infamous scene in The Princess Bride), is that if your opponent believes you will have a distraction and a real attack, simply lauch two real attacks, with the expectation that whichever one the opponent takes to be the distraction will succeed. Obviously this requires a greater sacrifice of materiel, but Quirrelmort doesn't exactly seem short in that department.

Do one better. Have an obvious distraction, a less obvious distraction, and one real attack. That way, when your adversary discovers the less obvious distraction, he'll stop looking.
Why would you ever have only one real attack? I could see an argument for maintaining a 2:1 distraction:attack ratio, but you should never hang all your hopes on a single plot.
He appears to be working with much less than his former amount of magical ability.
Canon!Harry was especially vulnerable to Dementors, which raises the possibility that the Dementor is there to influence Harry's personality, increase Quirrell's hold over him, and shape him into what Quirrell wants him to be. Dumbledore described Harry as having a mind like a Dark Lord but with love which makes him non-evil, Dementors suck out love & happiness. And Dumbledore is supposed to be the one protecting him, so if anything bad happens to him....
True, and somewhat understated. Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald and led a hard fought defence against Voldemort and his death eaters. Why on earth does he need to call in an eleven year old with magic cold/angry powers just to come up with the thought 'maybe it is a distraction'? This Dumbledore has been crippled to beyond all recognition.
Two possibilities: 1. Dumbledore has been too busy to step back and think about the situation creatively. 2. Dumbledore is making up a reason to invite Harry Potter into his office to (a) get his report on Lucius Malfoy, (b) warn Harry about the Dementor coming onto campus, (c) encourage Harry to practice his cunning outside the formalized exercises of Quirrell's armies, (d) lend credence in Harry's eyes to his suspicions of Quirrell by revealing that Quirrell is acting suspiciously, (e) query Harry about Voldemort. I do not find either entirely implausible.
I agree with (2). I could quibble over the subpoints, but it comes down to: to get Harry's reaction.
Using a Dementor to weaken Dumbledore seems like an alternative explanation.
How much does Dumbledore trust the Auror backup he'll be getting?
He should be able to trust Kingsley Schacklebolt.

while he'd never been young enough to believe in Santa Claus, he'd once been young enough to doubt.

This line probably improved the upbringing of any future offspring of mine. I had considered either being totally honest, or telling the typical Santa stories as a low difficulty exercise in spotting falsehoods you're raised with.

Now, I'll still casually detail the Santa myths while being honest about his nonexistence, but I'll also adopt the parental Santa role, down to using magic tricks to make presents appear at midnight, and reindeer tracks in the l... (read more)

You do realize that one of the things that this kind of thing teaches is "Dad's willing to slash my tires []", I hope. Sufficiently smart kids can pick up on that kind of issue surprisingly young - my own relationship with my mother never really recovered from the instance when, at age 5, I discovered that she was willing to lie to me for her own convenience, and what you're proposing to do appears to be rather similar in scope and potentially more damaging because it's intentional rather than incidental.
Parenting is preparing kids for a dangerous world, and part of that is exposing them to moderate risks with limited real penalties. In the real world, there are people who do magic tricks, themselves believe the magic is real, and want your money. My aim would be to keep it light and entertaining, so as to create a positive halo of solstice magic, and so that the positive memory doesn't go away with the knowledge that it was sleight of hand. In fact if I do my job as a rationalist parent, the holiday association is: entertainment+presents+learning+food

if Hitler had been allowed into architecture school like he wanted, the whole history of Europe would have been different

Is this a subtle difference from the real world, or just Harry thinking more deeply?

As I understand it (confirmed by Wikipedia), Hitler was rejected from a school for pictorial art, not architecture. However, Wikipedia has more: the art school recommended that he become an architect instead, and Hitler agreed. However, Hitler never bothered to apply to architecture school, because he lacked the necessary academic qualifications (inc... (read more)

Regarding Chapter 38: Am I correct when I say that Lucius Malfoy is modeling Harry as a level 3 player (pretending to be an ignorant player pretending to be a knowledgeable player), when Harry is actually level 2 (an ignorant player pretending to be a knowledgeable player)?

Yep. Or at least, that's what it looks like. Could be that Lucius knows Harry level 2, but is pretending to think Harry is level 3. Or, Harry is pretending to be Level 2 (actually level 4ish). All of which makes Eliezer level ω.
It could even be that one of the players isn't thinking in a manner best represented by that metric. Beyond level 2 that whole system just starts to look trite.

I had a recent conversation with a few friends of mine about life extension, death, etc, brought on by reading the chapter from HP&MoR where Harry discusses the topic with Dumbledore. I used all the standard arguments (their general response was 'it would be boring'), and eventually used the word deathist. After hearing the word, one of my friends recast their position, jokingly, as "anti-liveite", which made me realize the whole thing might just be arguing politics.

Firmly identifying yourself with a position, especially with a cute little word, tends to lead to that, yes. I would definitely avoid using "deathist," "lifeist," etc.
It was a very brief moment in the conversation, not even remarked upon by anyone. It did make me think of it in an entirely new light, though. They were coming up with defenses partly because, if I was right about 'death being a bad thing', then there would be a significant amount of social policy decisions that need to be overturned or changed: politics rears its ugly head. Even without theism, decades of acceptance, etc., it will be a dangerous topic.

Ch. 42:

The idea of casual acceptance of homosexuality in magical Britain doesn't seem to be thought out fully. Even this very chapter (and I've noticed that major premises from one chapter tend not to show up in others, but that's a separate issue), there's the casual assumption (inherited from canon, inherited in turn from most of Western media as a whole) that "thinks Harry/Draco is hawt" equals "female". About fifteen percent of those squeeing fans should have been boys.

The idea was developed in the Ravenclaw girls' dorm, by the girls. They summoned a couple of professors for safety, but the word didn't spread outside of that particular group - otherwise there would have been a large and varied mass to see the show, regardless of romantic interest. Incidentally, is sexual orientation usually well-established by the age of eleven?
Very good point. My objection is rendered moot. While this is also a relevant point, I would expect it to have nearly the opposite effect. Before puberty, identification with a sexual orientation would have to be completely socially constructed, so in a gay-friendly society most people should identify as bisexual by default.

Before puberty, identification with a sexual orientation would have to be completely socially constructed, so in a gay-friendly society most people should identify as bisexual by default.

A society can be gay-friendly and still heteronormative. In fact, I'd say that contemporary First-World youth fit right into that, although gay-friendliness hasn't spread to the whole society yet. Still, as long as heterosexuals are most common, gays and bis will still be seen as unusual, even if OK. So socially, I expect that most people will still assume that they're het until they learn otherwise.

However (contradicting both you and me), there are gay people who say that they knew that they were gay from a very young age. On the other hand, puberty has been known to mess with one's expectations.

Generalising from one example: I can't quite describe the environment that I grew up in as gay-friendly, only moving in that direction. Perhaps if it had been, then I'd have identified as bisexual at puberty, but perhaps not. In any case, it was a heteronormative environment, so I expected to be attracted to the opposite sex, and was. Then I jumped to conclusions, self-identified as het and suppressed my attraction to the same sex (ETA: because it messed with my idea of who I was) for another ten years. (Before puberty, I was completely asexual.)

On reflection, I was generalizing from one example as well. I was pretty sexual-hangup-y as a kid. I didn't begin to suspect I was gay until I was seventeen, and it was another two or three years after that before I was comfortable with the idea that I had a sex drive at all.
This is not the case. Many gay people know that they are gay at a young age, often well before puberty. Or they realize that they are somehow different from the others around them. Human sexuality is not as simple as an on-off switch with the whole system coming into play when people hit puberty.
Actually, I've just thought of more stuff. Why would there be gender-segregated dorms in this world? Unless they're trying to deliberately encourage homosexuality in teenagers as a strategy for avoiding accidental teen pregnancy. This would also explain Lupin's possible attitude (though I may be misreading) that homosexuality is a thing for the young, while adult relationships tend to be heterosexual. On the other hand, if this were the case, I would expect the childhood sexuality taboo to only apply to heterosexuality, in which case Lupin shouldn't have had the "when you're older" reaction to telling Harry about Sirius and Peter's relationship.

The real answer, of course, is that Hogwarts is shaped after British public schools, and it inherited gender-based dorms just like it did the four-house system.

A possible justification/rationalisation is that there are drastically different dynamics between a sexual attraction that involves a vast majority of the population, and one that involves a minority: heterosexual affections are much more likely to be potentially returned, compared to homosexual ones. Hence, while the occasional homosexual affair will sprout up in an all-male/all-female dorm, a mixed teenage dormitory would be completely overrun with drama, awkwardness, and unpleasant sounds and smells.

I can think of a good reason for segregated dorms: In the MoRniverse at least, rape is something aristocratic boys can do casually with the full expectation of getting away with it. Not to mention panty raids and other assorted sexually-harrassing nonsense. Even in a society without medieval/Victorian mores, girls would still need a place of relative safety in which to sleep, shower, dress, etc..

This is a good point. Is there a specific reason to be significantly more concerned about male-on-female rape than the other three combinations?
It's by far the most common, outside of certain highly artificial settings that don't apply to Hogwarts.
Boarding schools and prisons create similar social scenarios. I believe male-male rape/harassment/"hazing" is/was a significant problem in many all-male British boarding schools. Fraternities fit into more or less the same category, and likewise frequently feature various forms of ritualized homosexuality. It just isn't considered acceptable to acknowledge this; being the receptive partner in gay male sex has been considered damaging to masculinity for thousands of years, in at least the West and Japan.
I know it's by far the more common in the real world, but MoR!Hogwarts seems to differ significantly in the politics of gender and sexuality from most of real life, and I wanted to investigate how those differences would affect this situation. Since I don't yet have a clear theory of mind regarding why rape occurs or is gender-biased, I was trying to gather explanations from the rest of the peanut gallery.
I must have missed the part where we see that MoR!Hogwarts in general differs in gender politics and sexuality than most of real life, except for the "girls can compete in contact sports/armies with boys" bit, but that's a logical consequence of inherent equality of magical power. Lupin and Harry accepted a Peter/Sirius relationship without any squick, but Harry's a child of the Enlightenment (who, by dint of his uber-prodigy-ness likely didn't have jock-type macho-boys or religious conservatives as his formative peer group) and Lupin's a member of a disadvantaged minority himself. Do we have any evidence that someone like Lucius Malfoy would not be about as homophobic as the average medieval baron, of the sort who would teach his son that raping uppity peasant girls with impunity is one of the bennies that comes with "good breeding?" Or that, say, Seamus Finnigan wouldn't have the same kind of teen-boy homophobia/bullying reaction that's fairly common in our world?
Yes, the beginning of Chapter 42 suggests this very much! There we are told that some Wizards[*], at least young ones, find the idea that Muggles hate homosexuality so surprsing that they expected it to be anti-Muggle propaganda. And not just any anti-Muggle propaganda, but Death-Eater propaganda. The implication is that Death Eaters (and Lucius Malfoy is one) have been spreading the word among Wizards that Muggles hate homosexuality. It would be difficult to do this if these Death Eaters hated homosexuality themselves! [*] When capitalised, I use this word to mean both witches and wizards, as in ‘Wizarding Britain’, ‘Azkaban, the Wizard prison’, etc.
Ooooops, yeah, major reading comprehension fail on my part. When I read that chapter, I just kinda sped past the squee-ing girls to get to the story, and ended up still seeing things through the lens of canon and Harry's previous impression of "Damn, these Wizards totally missed out on the Enlightenment!" Guess I need to pay more attention to preconceived notions and not letting them cloud my vision. :) With more reflection though, it does make sense to me that Wizards would have a more enlightened attitude toward LGBTQ people, and find other irrational reasons to hate each other. In a world where some people can turn into animals, or alter their bodies at will (Metamorphomagi), and anybody with a jug of Polyjuice Potion and a clipping of hair can change their physical sex, non-heteronormative sexual identity could be seen as pretty tame. McGonagall could, if she so desired, turn into her feline form and go out lookin' for some tom. Or if she's lesbian or bi, then McGonagall/Mrs. Norris. So, yeah.
For example []
I probably shouldn't click that at work, should I?
Eww... I'm not posting McGonagall cat porn! Text only and nothing much worse than what is already implied here. (And for what it is worth even 'McGonagall cat porn' image search is clean. Rule 34 is a lie!)
You don't have to get all YKINOK up in here.
I like the way you think. :3
I don't know about Seamus Finnigan, but: " "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." "No," said an older Slytherin girl Hermione didn't recognize, "it's true, they have to get married in secret, and if they're ever discovered, they get burned at the stake together. And if you're a girl who thinks it's romantic, they burn you too." " -From the beginning of Chapter 42 It would seem to imply that being gay is certainly accepted, so much so that the Death Eaters used the Muggles' homophobia as an argument against them.
The beginning of Chapter 42 seems to suggest casual acceptance of homosexuality, at least relative to the Muggle world. I'm trying to work out what other consequences would result from that and from the inherent equality of magical power -- you can't just change one thing [] and expect everything else to be the same.
I don't think we do. Apart from the the recent chapter, of course. Everything prior to that would suggest a mild tradition of homophobia would be likely. It would be extremely surprising if there wasn't a bullying reaction of some kind. Children require very little excuse to bully someone atypical!
I'm not sure 'by far' is appropriate in this context. In the US, for instance, 91% of reported rape victims are female and 9% are male, with estimates usually of about 10% reporting for males and 40% reporting for females, which would yield an actual rate of about 28% of rape victims being male. That's hardly an inconsiderable number. Though I'm not sure how many of those are in prison, however.
Where are you getting your numbers? They sound to me like they come from the National Crime [] Victimization Survey []. These are not reports to police, but the result of asking random people if they have been raped. I don't think that they sample prisoners, so they are probably highly biased against prison rape, but should catch some.
I presume you refer to, for example, prisons? Anywhere with sex based segregation and artificially enforced proximity (that rules out ostracism.)
Yes, I had prisons in mind.
Well, in practice, it seems to be a lot more common. Certainly a lot more reported.
Remember also that the girls' dorms are magically protected against boys, but not conversely (at least in Gryffindor, at least midway in Harry's career). IIRC, Hermione derides the rule as old-fashioned (but then, she's Muggle-born, so that proves nothing). A wise strategy, I would think. One reason why teen pregnancy rates are higher in the more relgious areas of the United States? This was the attitude of the classical Greeks (and then Romans), at least for men.
I think that has more to do with the idea that it's immoral to provide kids with sex education. (This theory would be falsified if there's a significantly larger difference in teen pregnancy than in teen STDs.)
4Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Really? Fifteen percent of all yaoi fans are yaoi fanboys and eighty-five percent are yaoi fangirls? I'd like to see that statistic before I believe it. Also, you've got to keep in mind that we're talking about the set of yaoi fans who are squeeing over Harry and Draco while they're still eleven. This, to me, says "yaoi fangirl", though I fully admit I'm working from 100% stereotypes and 0% experience.
That's not representative. Yaoi specifically, as opposed to fiction depicting male homosexual relationships in general, is written almost exclusively by women for girls. The issues addressed are calques of the issues that come with being a teenage girl -- some works go so far as to get the guys pregnant.
Huh? Why is yaoi fandom the relevant population?
Ah, I see what is going on. When Pavitra wrote "thinks Harry/Draco is hawt", did he mean "thinks Harry is sexy and/or thinks Draco is sexy" or did he mean "thinks that the concept of a romantic relationship between them is an exciting concept"?
FYI, X/Y is read "X slash Y" and is a way of calling out a ship.
Cool. Thx. I'm more ancient than I like to admit, and this is my first fanfic experience. I'm very proud that I didn't have to look up "ship".
I however did -- because I didn't find my correct guess plausible. (An apostrophe would help: " 'ship ".) (Imagine if I wrote: "It was my first ence of that sort." You might be able to guess that "experience" is the most likely meaning, but it would need verification and still feel weird afterward.) I also don't understand "call out": does it mean "refer to", or "advocate"?
I'm tempted to start using "ence" as an abbreviation for "experience". I like the sound of it and it seems like a word that deserves a monosyllabic version.
I know people who use "tech" for "technique," "grade" for "upgrade," etc. Once you get used to it, it really is more efficient, but at the price of making it more difficult for outsiders to understand what you're saying.
For a while I've wondered what exactly Robin Hanson is doing (what he's trying to signal, perhaps? I don't know) when he uses abbreviations like "med", "docs", "tech", etc. (Pretty sure there are other common ones not coming to my mind right now.) He doesn't otherwise come off as a lazy writer, he can't really pass for "folksy" (and super-contrarian econblogging isn't quite the right context for that anyway), they aren't difficult or cumbersome words...
It seems to be the titles of his posts and not the content which he likes to keep extremely simple, even trite. I take it as wry counter signalling. There is a touch of ironic contrast between what could superficially look like a naive opinion and reasoning that is in fact based in some measure on sound economic principles, or at least of premises that the intended audience would accept.
This is the characteristic feature of jargon. (And fanfic has its jargon like anything else.)
Some jargon actually isn't much more efficient.
Those terms of jargon are probably being used for ingroup identification.
Yes, of course, in the cases that have sprung to my mind.
Good point. I hereby amend my comment to say that this is the characteristic feature of useful (or appropriate) jargon. (So now I am making the claim that group identification is neither useful nor appropriate, which of course isn't always true either.)
I've seen "tech" for "technology" but not for "technique". Interesting.
"Tech" is used in Sci*nt*l*gy jargon for the supposed mental technology that they claim to offer, and it raises my suspicions whenever I see it elsewhere. Specifically, the suspicion that the author is speaking in code to insiders, not for mere in-group fuzzies, but to communicate in plain sight of the outside world things that outsiders will not realise are being communicated.
I've also heard 'nique (neek?) for "technique," which seems less confusing.
I've only come across it playing Chrono Trigger [] not in real life.
It's also standard jargon in strategy games for any system involving the gradual acquisition of upgrades to your tools through some representation of "research".
Bah. Those two abbreviations are terrible. People use those? There is no context where tech(nique) is used in which the existing use of tech(nology) wouldn't be appropriate, given that techniques can be considered technology. Why oh why would you not use 'nique' or 'niq'? I suspect I would be willing to signal myself as an outsider so as to avoid sacrificing my dignity like that!
I suspect the ambiguity in tech is deliberate, it's trendy in certain circles to reframe habits, attitudes and knowledges as mental technology, the whole life-hacking thing is one example but activists often use a similar jargon (I think it comes from anthropology?) extending it to social techniques (cultural technology) as well. It's maybe an attempt to hijack consumerist/shiny object collecting drives, maybe an attempt to signal practicality. I have a feeling this technique, of using an abbreviation to refer to an umbrella of concepts which could be abbreviated to that, is quite common, though the only one that springs to mind right now is Trans.
The word already has a monosyllabic version (exp) but it is interesting to note that an "ence" variant is probably still warranted. I would still use 'experience' in the places where people may abbreviate to ence, because it feels right to my intuitions. "Exp" is a resource that I acquire but experiences, they are things to be savoured. I want to be fully present, in the moment for the full three syllables. In the same vein I would 'ship' combinations I was somewhat distancing myself from or perhaps considering particularly abstractly but I would never consider using that jargon in relation to Harry and Hermione for example. If I didn't use 'relationship' I would rephrase the context such that another word or phrase (connection? or 'author conveyed a bond between'?) fit the context.
I like Ence as a separate word from Exp for two reasons. First, Exp is very strongly tied to a meaning in games that is in important ways opposite from the meaning we would want Ence to have. And second, I don't think "exp" counts as properly monosyllabic; the monosoyllabic prononciation /eksp/ has a consonant cluster that many languages and English dialects don't allow in speech, causing speakers to automatically expand it to /ek.spi/.
I always pronounce it /ek.spi/ anyway (actually /eks.pi/), since I spell it ‘XP’ (which, strictly speaking, stands for ‘experience points’, not just ‘experience’). Indeed, I didn't realise that anybody said ‘Exp’ for this game mechanic! (Or are y'all talking about something else entirely?)
I had to look it up too, but I do note that the changed usage of ship vs relationship makes leaving off the apostrophe appropriate. 'Relationship' can't be used as a verb!
In this context, it means something like "name" or "denote".
The latter. And I talked about yaoi fans because Eliezer did.
Where is this number coming from? The incidence rate of male homosexuality is pretty low and guys are generally less likely to go squee over things anyway.
I heard it somewhere. WIkipedia says that estimates range from one to twenty percent, and I would expect most estimates to be low because living in a still largely homophobic society biases reporting.
Yet often those making the estimates try to compensate for that bias, particularly those who are motivated to report higher statistics.

Harry has already noticed that he gave too much information to Dumbledore, but now he trusts Quirrel too much.

Let it stand that there is something else I must do this afternoon.

To wit: find that stone which I saw earlier and which I now recognise from the design that you showed me!

Ha, great theory. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that the symbol was so obscure that even Voldemort never found it out. (Unless Rowling specifically mentioned it?)
This is important to the plot of Book 7 in canon, so I'm going to rot13 it for you just in case. Va pnaba, gur Erfheerpgvba Fgbar unf orra va Ibyqrzbeg'f cbffrffvba gur jubyr gvzr. Va snpg, vg'f bar bs uvf ubepehkrf! Ohg ur znqr vg vagb n ubepehk sbe fragvzragny ernfbaf; ur arire xarj jung vg jnf. []
Aha. I read book 7 when it came out, but had forgotten that. Eminently plausible, then.
I'd forgotten it myself when I made my first comment. But then I did some research to answer your question and ...!

The following is my speculation about where the plot of the story is going. It is just speculation, but on the off-chance that any of it is correct and non-obvious, it will contain spoilers.

Solid control by a central authority seems to be more difficult for magic folks. (e.g. A few dozen Death Eaters nearly brought down the government). I assume this is because Apparition makes control of transport impossible, everyone having wands makes control of dangerous weapons impossible, and the Imperius curse makes central authority untrustworthy and spreads paran... (read more)

Premise... Conclusion?
My point, if it wasn't clear, is that since "solid control by a central authority" is harder for magic folks, they can't rely on a soft-touch liberal democratic rule. They would have to rely on harder methods of keeping the peace--some kind of ubiquitous magical monitoring system.
Right, so a magical dictator can only achieve about the level of central authority that a Muggle democracy has. Meanwhile, magical Stalin is simply not possible. (That doesn't stop Dark Lords from trying to become magical Stalin, because they are irrational. But they never succeed, even though they cause a lot of problems while they try.) However, I very much doubt that MoR!Voldemort will turn out to have been Light All Along (I don't know the proper TVTrope name for that). This would require major departures from canon as to how he went about it in 1980. Or at least he would have to have been very confident, extremely unimaginative, and positively jesuitical in using his ends to justify his means.
A Dark (or Light) Lord could centralize way more than Stalin ever did, thanks to the Marks. (How much do we know about how they work, other than they need to be taken willingly?)
...unless you use a Mark. Which only a dictator can require.
There were still traitors. Snape was Marked, and spied. Karkaroff was Marked, and ran.
I suspect that the Mark, like many things, is rather more powerful in MoR than in canon.
Where 'many things' includes 'simple consistency'. Although come to think of it the characters are more consistent in canon while (magical-)physics is more consistent in MoR. A difference in emphasis.
Yep, thanks Pavitra.

One illustration of this is that in Goblet of Fire, there is a point where canon!Harry on a broomstick faces a dragon called the Hungarian Horntail... which in Ch. 16 of Methods is said to breathe fire quickly and accurately enough to melt a Snitch in midflight, implying that canon!Harry would have gotten roasted in an instant if he'd tried the same thing in this universe.

What if, in accordance with the Tournament's goal of providing an interesting challenge and spectacle without massacring all competitors, the dragons were actually subdued or sedated ... (read more)

The big speech by Quirrel troubles me.

I thought we had Word of God that Quirrel was in some way Voldemort (Quirrelmort), and that we should've become certain of that early on (especially with the Voyager horcrux implied).

But the speech doesn't make sense for me. If Voldemort was so close to winning, if it took a freak Black Swan to defeat him and his followers, if magical England is still utterly incompetent, if many of his followers are still at large (as we know from canon they are), if...

Given this situation, why doesn't Voldemort just start over? The p... (read more)

My impression is that in MoR Voldemort was a passionate young revolutionary in the first war, but since then he's gotten older and his outlook has changed. He sees the muggles as the greatest threat now, and he recognizes that his history means he can't take power in his own name without a long and devastating series of wars that would leave the magical world exhausted and vulnerable to this outside threat. So it would be rather convenient if he could sway Harry to his way of thinking and arrange for the wizarding world to unite under a leader who sees him as a mentor...

I agree with your analysis.

But gwern's description of Harry's victory over Voldemort as a "black swan" doesn't satisfy me. The canon explanation - that the Power of Love auto-defeats all dark magic, and either no one had ever noticed this before, or Voldemort just assumed no one would use that strategy despite its obvious game-winning power because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good - doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would cut it in Methods.

One remote possibility is that Voldemort realized he'd inspired so much hatred that he'd never be able to unite the magical world without first breaking its power so badly it would be useless to him, so he found a kid with Dark Lord potential, stuck enough of his soul into him that he felt in control, and then faked his own death in such a way as to make his chosen heir the sort of hero whom everyone would rally around. This is probably too complicated for a smart Slytherin who'd seen The Tragedy of Light to try, but there's got to be some sort of weird explanation for why Voldemort lost ten years ago, and why he lost to a kid with precisely the sort of plotting ability and mastery of Muggle methodology Voldy needs for his plots.

Clearly happening in MoR, at least to some extent. AFAICT, Quirrel honestly can't tell why Harry wouldn't want to be a dark lord, and Draco's completely incapable of grokking Harry's motivations; pretty much whenever Draco tries he gets it wrong. Quirrell also won't understand why Harry wouldn't just flee, rather than sticking around to fix things.
Ooh, thanks for reminding me about Light in this context. I shall now be re-reading to determine if there's evidence that Quirrell remembers being Voldemort, or whether he's just been overwritten with V's utility function and not his memories. We're owed a few more Obliviation-based bombshells.
The story that Quirrell tells about Voldermort going to learn about martial arts strongly implies that Q has access to at least some of Voldemort's memories.
I can't reconcile that theory with the combined Voldemort-Quirrel history. (I did think of it after the discussion about scientists nearly dooming humanity.) I don't think it works. Quirrelmort snuck into NASA in the '70s, when the Voyagers launched. That is, decades before his defeat. Quirrelmort knew of Voyager, knew where to find it, knew what building, what campus, how to defeat the many security systems, and so on. This bespeaks an intimate and long-standing interest in NASA's projects. Given the horcrux is a large fraction of his life, it also means Quirrelmort trusts rockets a great deal. Which means he trusts in The Power of Science. Nukes, nuclear winter, and other existential risks were definitely common knowledge in the '70s. Quirrelmort couldn't've possibly missed them, especially with things like Project Orion. So, he knows muggles can kill all humanity and also wizards; he believes they might do it; and yet, it's only after the Black Swan of Harry that Quirrelmort suddenly realigns all his priorities? Well, I'm sure a good author could write that and make me believe it. But I'm not going to make myself believe just to explain away Quirrel's speech.
I agree with ewbrownv's theory in most particulars except for the part where Voldemort experiences a shift in personality post-Harry Potter. I think it more accurate to say that for a very long time it has been his goal to unite Magical Britain/Humanity under one leader who was capable of dealing with the threat posed by Muggles and Science. He initially tried to united them by force and fear, but has come to think that it would be easier/better to united them behind the much beloved Harry Potter, who he thinks he can control.
This is the natural next step - he wants to become the éminence grise. I don't like this either. It's not faster. I don't see any plausible way of Harry leading and unifying magical Britain within less than 5 years, and the world would take longer, and humanity even longer. So Quirrelmort loses a good 10 years or so (and remember, he's already lost 11 years just to Harry growing old enough to enter Hogwarts). It may not be easier, since Quirrelmort has to expend a tremendous amount of effort to hide himself and plot circles around everyone. And better? He will forever be at Harry's whims, which undoes a lot of Harry's value as figurehead. Indeed? I would hope that Quirrel by this point has been disabused of any notions that Harry is easy to control. I certainly have.
I don't think he necessarily has to spend all 11 of those years just waiting, there's plenty of other things for a plotter of his caliber to do in that time to advance their plans. This probably mirrors Eliezer's life too much, but he could have put world domination on hold while he learns more foolproof (or less destructive) methods of world domination.
I think there was a personality shift along with the change in strategy. Voldemort was too arrogant and power-hungry to be anything but the leader - he needed to learn to lose before he could be content to pursue his goals in this subtler way.
Well, all the bits after finding out about Voyager could be done with the liberal use of Imperius, legilimency and other magic.
Alright, I'll modify my intimately familiar claim. He needs to be only reasonably familiar. Up in the top few percentiles of Americans/Englishmen vis-a-vis space knowledge, but not much much higher. However, if you assume he got in just by using Imperius, this reinforces my point about the respect Quirrelmort needs for Science. A normal arrogant wizard wouldn't even bother to ask his pet muggle NASA technician to disable all the alarm systems. ('Alarm systems? What are those? I don't detect any wards or magical traps, therefore I can just walk in and make a horcrux.')
Depending on the magical system he could well bypass them accidentally. In the Buffyverse, for example, runes designed to protect against magical detection also work against any form of modern surveillance. In the HP universe I would expect Harry's cloak to protect against any visual detection technology and a Voldemort strength anti-detection spell would probably also be sufficient. Pressure sensitive plates would be a different matter but may also be the sort of thing that a wizard would expect. In fact, a competent wizardly burglar would quite possibly levitate as a matter of course while on a job.
Apparate to wherever it's being stored, Horcrux it, apparate out. Even if there is an alarm to set off, you're in virtually no danger.
And risk the materials in the storage being thrown out as possibly contaminated or damaged beyond tolerances? (Actually, can one apparate somewhere one has not been?)
Only if you're suicidal. It's stated that you can't, because you'd likely end up overlapping with some object; I suspect there's a good chance you could, if the target area was in space, but I wouldn't want to try it on the ground.
Another crime of the wizarding world - they are why it still costs thousands of dollars per ounce to put stuff into space. Truly, they have much to answer for!
Choosing not to help is not, generally, considered a crime. There are of course exceptions in the case of imminent loss of life, but sending things to space is not one of them. So while it may be, in a sense, their fault - it isn't a crime.
I lack any pithy word like 'crime' to express my sentiments; 'the Wizarding world has much disutility to answer for' does not come off right at all, and 'has much evil to answer for', while true, is a bit stronger than I'd like. (Because no doubt someone would immediately question exactly how many lives cheap access to space would save and how many lives qualify as evil exactly?, and someone else would point out that it has significant downsides inasmuch as it democratizes weapons of mass destruction ie. heavy metal rods raining down from space on the cheap - and it's just a discussion I'd rather not get into.)
The wizarding world is not living up to its potential. :) Which gets to the interesting question of what the wizarding world owes to muggles. Giving muggles what gwern thinks they should get would be a tremendous amount of work for wizards-- and either they force a lot of forgetting, and maybe enough isn't possible, or they radically change their society, which they like as it is. And they might be right that they'd risk serious persecution. It is certainly the case that they would suffer ridiculous persecution. They'd be chased by paparazzi-- isn't Rita Skeeter enough?-- and harassed by wannabees. The help/reward ratio reminds me of The Marching Morons [].
Eh, if they're worried about overwork, the free market will sort that out. As for their society - the Amish are awful insular. Orthodox Jew sects can be insular, as well as Mormon groups. It's not hard to seal yourself off quite well in the modern world, and given that even your most mediocre Hogwarts graduate could command millions (it's magic, after all) they can afford excellent security. I don't doubt that wizards could make up a ton of plausible-sounding excuses to maintain their apartheid.
You were describing (some part of?) what you think the wizards owe to muggles in order to maximize utility-- you weren't just saying that the wizards should integrate into muggledom.
I think that they're not in a situation where there are no Pareto-improvements to be had. Both sides can win.
Forget crimes of inaction-- what about the fact that the wizarding world erases memories in order to prevent their secret from getting out?
Arguably self-defense. If we're looking for active crimes, how about covering up the various crimes of wizards? Not just activities due to Voldemort, although a close read of canon likely would turn up many crimes where the wizarding world decided its own punishment was good enough and never even allowed the harmed muggle's survivors any input into the process, but just bad guys - like the ones who enchant muggle artifacts. Do you think Arthur Weasley ever turned over to muggle police any wizard whose artifact killed or injured a muggle? Not likely.
0[anonymous]12y we know that the incident with baby-Harry was a black swan? Now that I think about it, it seems slightly more plausible, especially given that the killing curse had never failed before and that Eliezer wants magic to be consistent in this version, that V set that up himself, to allow himself to leave the field of battle in a plausible way (and without upsetting his Death Eaters) and work on his goals from a different angle.
I think it qualifies as a black swan even if Voldemort set it up. Black swans are just extremely rare, hard to predict events with huge consequences.
(Missing grandparent was mine; I deleted it when I read further in the thread and discovered that Yvain [] had already made my point, and done a better job than I had.) If what actually happened was that Voldemort cast the killing curse and it bounced, then yes, that'd be a black swan. But I think it's more likely that he didn't cast the killing curse on Harry at all - he just set it up to look like he did and then went underground, as part of some larger plan. If that counts as a black swan, many complicated plots would too, and I'm pretty sure I've never seen the term used that way.
How complicated does a plot need to be? 9/11 is the standard black swan, and took fairly complicated plotting, though it doesn't involve the level of misdirection that you're attributing to Voldemort.
It may just be a case of me not being fully aware of the common uses of the term, then. I would consider 9/11 a black swan event from the US's perspective, but not from al-Quaeda's - it's rare for a terrorist group to make (or at least succeed at) a display of that scale, but it's not hard to predict such things when you're the one planning them, and that seems to me to be the more relevant characteristic. The term also seems to be used specifically for events with primarily negative outcomes. So, in the case of Harry Potter, the traditional take on the event would be a black swan from Voldemort's perspective - rare, unpredictable, and deadly - but it wouldn't be a black swan from the perspective of the rest of the wizarding world, because the outcome was good for them. If I'm right about MoR, the event still isn't perceived as a black swan by the majority of the wizarding world (because the outcome appears to be good), but it wasn't a black swan for V, either. (It would be perceived as a black swan event by the Death Eaters, but I'm considering V's perspective to be the relevant one.) But, like I said, I may have my definition a bit wrong.
Voldemort's motives have been a mystery from the start - why would he become a Hogwarts teacher, and what does he want with Harry Potter? He must be working on some kind of plot, but what? It's not a sneak-in-and-kill-people kind of plot, judging by his behavior. To me, the speech and the conversation with Harry afterwards aren't further mysteries - they provide some of the best clues we've gotten so far about what Quirrelmort is thinking. He sees a conflict between wizards and muggles and is trying to make sure that the wizards win. Coming to Hogwarts to teach battle magic and mentor Harry Potter could fit with that motivation, and ewbrownv does a pretty good job of filling in some more of the details.
In canon, IIRC, LV actually did want to become a Hogwarts teacher. Regarding personality shifts; is it possible that this is another point of departure, and we're looking at a LV who made fewer Horcruces? Again IIRC, there seemed to be a linear relationship depicted in canon between Tom Riddle's physical and mental decay and the number he created.
Correct - that's the source of the supposed curse on the Defense position.
Albeit I understood EY's latest Author's Note to be saying that there was no curse on DADA in MoR canon. Is that a misreading?
I read it as stating that there was a curse, and everybody had noticed it, and acted accordingly (McGonagall trying to keep Quirrel through the entire year, Quirrel refusing to stay the next year.)
Ah! That makes more sense. I was reading it as "were there a curse, and everybody had noticed it, it would be god-damned fixed by now to avoid having to pay every DADA professor a zillion Galleons of danger money".
Right, the issue is that JKR didn't seem to notice that there was a curse when she was writing the first book or so, and so it was made more explicit earlier in MoR.
There seems to be a consensus that if there were war between wizards and muggles, the wizards would lose. This isn't obvious to me, but I might be assuming more intelligence (both information and skill at using it) on the wizard side than they've got. However, if we assume that wizards are reasonably competent (insert bitter laughter from anyone who's read the original books), what could they do? My impression is that wizards don't need human civilization. It seems to me that their ability to pass unseen and destroy memories would be enough to destroy a lot of infrastructure. Would it be that hard for wizards to rule what was left? What's the use of human weapons if you need magic just to enter wizard population centers? Anyone who remembers the books better than I do, go ahead and tell me if there's some way for humans to resist.
One reasonably powerful wizard defector to the Muggle side could enlist other wizards via subterfuge or magical control, and such wizards could create magical items to aid the Muggles. If the Muggles were sure that they could trust such a defector, they could hand em a nuke and have em wipe Hogsmeade off the map in spite of all its anti-Muggle protections. There are plenty of Muggle-borns, half-bloods, wizards married to Muggles, and wizards merely fond of Muggles a la Arthur Weasley, that in an all-out war, there would be considerable numbers of potential defectors. By contrast, a Muggle defector to the wizarding side would be harder to come by per capita, and also less useful, as Muggles don't have special abilities that let them be particularly useful to wizards.
Um, I rather thought the whole point of MoR was to falsify this claim. Unless you're claiming rationality is not "special" because anyone can in principle have it.
Rationality isn't particularly common among Muggles. Like, at all. I was thinking more about the physical tools, anyway - there's nothing stopping a wizard from using Muggle tech as long as they don't have lots of magic going on nearby (or I would have expected some Muggle-born child to complain offhand about how they can never make the TV work over summer holidays and their parents are annoyed about all the brownouts). Whereas Muggles cannot use wizarding tools one bit - or even see wizarding locations.
On the other hand, wizards don't have the mental flexibility to see how muggles can be useful to them.
Good point about wizards defecting to the muggle side. You'd need a pure blood conspiracy to have a chance of pulling off a war.
A muggle society that doesn't know about wizards is vulnerable to sneaky tactics involving mind control and memory alteration. But in an open battle cannon!wizards don't stand a chance against a competent military force - they have superior mobility and medical care, but in every other respect magic is hopelessly inferior to technology. Of course, a war isn't a battle. To predict how the war would go we have to explain why the muggles don't already know about wizards, which requires a drastic re-write of large sections of cannon. Any adequate justification is going to require giving the wizards god-like abilities of information control, which could easily give them the ability to win a wizard-muggle war as well.
I can't see any reason for wizards to engage in open battle against muggles. A muggle society that does know about wizards would still be vulnerable to mind control and memory alteration-- the wizards themselves are vulnerable to such tactics. Covert defection is so easy for wizards it's almost surprising they've got as much large-scale organization as they do. I believe that muggles do know about wizards (though perhaps no very accurately), they just don't talk about it any public sort of way. However, this is deduction, not canon.
One thing to check in canon would be the scene where the Wizarding minister pops in to the British PM and gives him a status report. I can't remember whether it is implied that PMs are routinely obliviated after their terms are up.
From the flashback scene near the beginning of Book 6 Chapter 1, where the Muggle PM first meets Cornelius Fudge: So it's implied that no Obliviation is needed. On the other hand, I wouldn't it past Eliezer to decide that this is not credible in a story for adults. And after all, Fudge never really answered the question.
Thanks for the lookup. Yes, that implies that a limited number of muggles thought to be 'safe' are permitted to know about the wizarding world.
Muggles could just destroy the planet rather than conquering the wizards. Note the "heap of ash" comment in Quirrell's speech, which echoes what he said in chp. 20 about nukes.
People have used scorched earth attacks against their enemies, but that's if the enemies have defined territory. Does it seem reasonable that governments would engage in a nuclear spasm which would mostly destroy human territory? This is a real question. I can imagine a nuclear spasm happening, but I was around during the cold war, and read relevant science fiction. I realize there were some close calls[1], but is the world still as delicately balanced? Could wizards make sure the nukes stayed in their silos? My guess is that wizards have the power, but possibly not the organizational ability. [1] Fanfiction about the unlikely absence of WWIII being the result of wizard activity?
Somehow I rather doubt that Quirrelmort believes what he says in public speeches to the unwashed masses.
There's other evidence, including his chp. 20 "Those fool Muggles will kill us all someday!" diatribe to Harry.
Or voldemort is two steps ahead of us, he's realized that Harry Potter is a crazy muggle-loyal scientist, and there is now only one potential leader who could save the magical world. Hermione Granger.
If that were true, he would already have lost the minute he ran through the "intent to kill" exercise [] .
We had a hint that Quirrell is in some way Voldemort, but how exactly? We haven't been given information from anyone but Quirrell on that. They went to the same dojo. Physically, that's nearly all we've been told, by an unreliable source. The only other physical hint is Quirrell's zombie/alertness transition. The questions are these: Are they two distinct individuals? How distinct and why? Have they always been so or not so? And is each aware of the other? Here's another idea, no more motivated than the idea that Q=V. Perhaps when "tuning in", Quirrell is not channeling Voldemort. Rather, Quirrell has a "mysterious dark side" which feeds him ideas when he is in zombie-mode. Neither the former Quirrell, or the remains of Voldemort were powerful enough to impact magical Britain sufficiently to satisfy their goals. Additionally, their goals did not match perfectly. A trade was made; a partial exchange of utility functions, and perhaps something more. Voldemort's magical knowledge was vast and useful; if someone thought himself to be terribly clever, and thought that he was less of a fool than the now-failed Dark Lord, and sought power, he might make a deal with the devil; confine the mind to a tightly sealed box instead of destroying it. In exchange for this life-saving act, knowledge. And with every exchange, there could be some influence on each other's values. Maybe he's already admitted that he's going to lose - the mind will get out of the box by the end, and he will cease to be distinguishable. But as a new challenge, he bet he could transfer the best of his knowledge and goals to Harry Potter before then, enough to defeat whatever would grow from his mental corpse. Or not. All sorts of things are possible with the little information we have. The most mysterious repeating phenomenon that's notable right now is Quirrell's zombie-mode. For just his political views and most of his behavior, being Voldemort is not the simplest explanation.
I like your utility-exchange idea. That explains the problem of why Quirrel isn't seeking power in his own right - because to do so is to inevitably hand power over to the Dark Lord. Hence, he seeks to fashion a better and uncorruptible replacement. Power wouldn't necessarily help him find or groom a protege. The utility function exchange might be going too far. The trade might just be one of the classic 'loan' or Faustian bargain: Voldemort lends his accumulated skill and knowledge to Quirrel for 15 or 20 years, and in exchange, Quirrel hosts Voldemort (as he did in canon!) and at the end turns over his body to Voldemort and/or merges with him. At least, this seem to work as well to explain the issues (if there has already been a utility exchange, how have Quirrel's values changed?). My problem exactly.
That would be an awesome way for the plot to go. Very "archetypal". The closest analogy would be Baron Harkonnen taking over Alia. I'm almost sad that you posted it, because now Eliezer will either use it or invent something else, and either case would be disappointing.
I'd like to think Eliezer isn't the kind of writer who would avoid an idea simply because one of his readers came up with it, especially since there are no legal issues with that here. No, if he doesn't use it, hopefully that's because he has an even better one.
Another theory of Quirrelmort (which Psy-Kosh came up with [] ) is that Quirrelmort identifies with Harry because he transferred part of himself to Harry when he gave him the scar, so now his ambition is for Harry to become a Dark Lord. In other words, Voldemort split into Quirrell and Harry, and now the one part is trying to make sure that the other part carries out his plan. This theory is compatible with the wizard v. muggle war theory, if the plan is for Harry to become a Dark Lord and lead the wizards against the muggles.
Hm... I suppose that might actually address the issues. But wait, this doesn't explain why Quirrelmort would wait 2 decades for Harry to finish the job of taking over the world rather than do it himself, and then groom Harry without any distractions. I mean, Quirrelmort still seems to be quite competent, and we see ever less of zombie-mode. (Besides, isn't leadership all about delegation?)
A very good point. I wonder if that's intentional on Eliezer's part, or if he's simply forgotten to write about zombie-Quirrell because he (z-Q) is uninteresting.
My memory of the books isn't perfect- but wasn't Voldemort's main goal immortality, not conquest? If so, then Voldemort could be trying to manipulate Harry into merging science and magic to create a means of immortality, before he takes over. This would also fit with author tract nature of the story- it would give him a chance to reference transhumanism, SENS, or cryonics.
Well, it certainly is said a lot. I don't see how conquest was the best route to immortality, but there are a lot of problems in the HPverse like that.
Along with the appearance of Mr. Hat and Cloak, it was yet another moment that made me feel highly disappointed that (I had become aware that) WoG had explicitly stated Q=V. It used to be very fun to consider and compare the possibilities of Q being V versus Q not being V and EY being messing with readers versus some third option such as an ongoing conflict between Q and V's personalities in the same body. I don't suppose Memory Charms are available IRL? EDIT: After reading chapter 37, squeeing, and promptly running off to TVTropes to list it as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, I would like to state that the above disappointment has significantly increased.
I recently had reason to use it for that purpose. I don't recommend it, and it only takes out a few hours anyway.

Eliezer's Timeless Decision Theory solution to The Prisoner's Dilemma is compelling.

It's something I've thought about for a long time. There must be some solution to the bloody thing - my gut instinct tells me to cooperate, even when dealing with a paperclip maximizer, but all of my justifications wind up being little more than mathy ways of saying 'Honor'. And to be perfectly frank, I'm not convinced that the story's solution is much more than that either. Just replace "acts honorably" with "holds true to TDT".

That said, I do hold m... (read more)

Well, it doesn't actually add up to honor. If you're in a True Prisoner's Dilemma [] and you predict that the paperclipper will cooperate out of honor, TDT says to defect and reap the benefits. It's only when two TDT agents meet that mutual cooperation is on the table. (Nitpick: TDT and UDT should cooperate as well. Etc.) EDIT: This comment is mistaken. If by HonorBot we mean an agent that predicts what the other agent will do, and then cooperates with all cooperators and defects against all defectors, then TDT indeed cooperates with HonorBot. TDT does not cooperate with CooperateBot, though, so TDT is not HonorBot.
Only if you try to act honorably to the honorable and dishonorably to the dishonorable do you have something like TDT.
And you must do this in a way that makes you appear honorable to others who use the same algorithm.
Reputation effects are one way to change the payoffs so it's no longer a Prisoner's Dilemma. But if this particular interaction is more important than the reputation effects, TDT still defects against an honorable paperclipper who isn't TDT or higher.
TDT says: I cooperate iff (you will cooperate iff I cooperate). Honorable says: I cooperate iff you will cooperate. It seems to me that, although Honorable is suboptimal if it meets an unconditional cooperator, TDT will cooperate with it because it meets the condition that TDT cares about.
On reflection, your conclusion is obviously right: playing PD against Honorbot is simply playing Newcomb's Dilemma, so TDT cooperates. I was misled by the recent realization that TDT doesn't actually work out to "I cooperate iff (you will cooperate iff I cooperate)" [].

On page 96 of the PDF version, the $ signs need to be escaped, in "an unconditional gift of $5 was twice as effective as a conditional offer of $50"). As it is now, the text between the $ signs is typeset in math mode.

(I post this here as I have no contact info for the PDF maintainer.)

Something cool on the PDF: the end of chapter 27. 503-504.

What would the incentive to become a traitor before the battle of Chapter 33 be? Before Quirrell added the ability to switch sides, you'd just be helping your army (which you've already developed a bond with in the first battle), and therefore yourself, lose. I'd expect this to strongly outweigh the fun of being a spy.

I just Googled for "airsoft betrayal" and "paintball betrayal." I found no stories of similar events in either sport. (I did however find one person hypothetically talking about betrayal in laser tag, even though many/most systems ignore friendly fire.)

I know of people who have betrayed their teams in games of Assassin, generally aiming for personal glory by taking everyone out single-handedly.
A.k.a. Killer, for anyone who may recognize the older game.
Blaise notes to Hermione that most of the traitors in Sunshine are actually double agents, trying to help Sunshine by fooling Dragon and Chaos into thinking they have additional help... and so on. The real traitors (the ones whose treason matters) are all shown to have realistic-ish motivations.
I assumed that successful traitors could acquire individual Quirrell points faster than their loyal teammates, making for another Prisoner's Dilemma situation.
I tried to assume that too but that doesn't seem to answer all the questions. The allocation of students to teams seems to be stable so presumably we have some sort of iterated PD going on. If you've betrayed your army in battle 4 then what happens between battle 4 and battle 5? Is there some sort of default assumption that everyone reverts back to being loyal?
This is almost certainly not socially viable though.
It would be truer if armies were based on houses - and as traitors are official Quirrell-endorsed part of the game, revenge is officially forbidden, and armies don't correspond to any social structure that inspires loyalty, it's doubtful that people would be terribly loyal.
"Team killing" is annoyingly common in online FPS games...
In online FPS games you (usually) have no long-term bond to your team, no long-term rewards and punishments, and for that matter no long-term identity at all. You don't see team-killing in league-style tournaments spanning months, where players get to know each other.

A couple of recent comments have prompted me to consider my impressions of the cold, dark side of Harry. In particular how it differs from an 'evil, bad side' and why it seems to me to go hand in hand with being 'super rational'.

Someone complained elsewhere (I think it was in the other thread) about Harry being the Boy-who-Lived and having a prophecy and having a cold dark side and being super-rational.

Given that I know Harry to be super-rational and also that he is functional and has a credible ability to achieve goals I would actually be somewhat su... (read more)

While in most types of fights killing is usually easier and safer than disabling, it is neither ruthless nor practical but simply short-sighted to lose track of why you are fighting. There are plenty of situations where killing your enemy bears great costs. Maybe it would expose you to revenge from someone more powerful; maybe it would lead you to waste years of your life in court if not prison. Maybe it would be a massive PR victory for those who oppose you, undermining the entire plan that brought you into a fight in the first place (sounds familiar?). Maybe it would prevent you from obtaining critical help or information from the defeated enemy; the list could go on. Of course preserving your own life has tremendous value (I heard there's a saying among some policemen: "an ugly trial is better than a beautiful funeral"), but it is not an absolutely incommensurable value. For a certain subset of X and Y in ]0,1[², you would accept an X chance of losing your life to a not-quite-dead enemy in exchange for a Y chance of not wasting decades of life (arguably), or (certainly) of not dying later on to unstoppable revenge. All of the above being pretty much a very long-winded way of rephrasing Prof. Quirrell's dismissal that "there is a time and place to take your enemy alive, and a Hogwarts classroom is usually one of those".
I never got the impression that Harry's "Intent To Kill" thing included any tendency whatsoever to forget why he was fighting. The lesson here is completely distinct from being gratuitously stupid.
I disagree. First, Quirrell very clearly asked Harry to think of combat uses for items in the classroom; that his thinking automatically restricted itself to lethal uses shows a serious flaw in his on-the-spot strategic abilities. This particular example is a good one, since his killing ideas quickly became worthless, but had he considered other aspects of combat he would have come up with a lot of much more useful options, such as using desks as barricades. Secondly, Quirrell's quiz test is closely followed by two entire chapters devoted to Harry's highly dangerous tendency to escalate fights beyond the point where he could expect the best reward-to-risk ratio (George Patton once said: "Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning"). Deciding from the start that the enemy must die, without even fleetingly considering if other options may be preferrable, is clearly part of this problem. I realise, as I write this, that there is a possibility we may be talking about two distinct things. As I read it in the text, by "intent to kill" Quirrell referred to Harry's reflexive interpretation of any fight as a fight to the death. If you are, instead, using the phrase to refer to the willingness and psychological ability to kill (whereas most regular people would find themselves instinctively aiming their knives away from vital points, and so on), then I have no disagreemen.
Also note that in the lesson "intent to kill" is not presented by Quirrel as purely good thing, nor is Harry called the most capable warrior or the best kid to have your back in the fight but the most dangerous student, an epithet that could well apply to the cadet with the worst trigger discipline. It appears that intent to kill goes along with a lack of squeamishness about violence, and it may be easier to teach Harry about the proper uses of violence than to train Draco to be unaffected by it, but that does not mean that intent to kill is itself a good thing
I'm actually speaking of neither of those things. Instead I speak of the things I allude to in my initial comment. Similar language is used to express related concepts fairly often in books on strategy as well as Eliezer's document on the virtues of rationality. I have also specifically asserted that I am not referring to the somewhat distinct concept on picking idiotic fights.

It seems obvious that V. has more complicated interests than just governing a few wizards. In some stories, and sadly also in reality leaders fall into the notion that they have to unite the country under a strong hand to achieve anything useful. It might be that young V. thought so and tried to take over, but older V. is wiser and looks for other approaches. I don't think he wants Harry to become a dark lord, but shove him a bit into his own current goal system and avoid having him fall into stupid pitfalls.

From the Author's Notes:

A word on the rules this fic follows. It is not a strict single point of departure. [...] I've posted a disclaimer in chapter one to this effect ("This is not a strict single-point-of-departure fic"). If anyone thinks this was a bad idea, now would be a good time to speak up.

The question that most interests me is not single vs. multiple departure, but rather known vs. unknown departure. If the set of points of departure is finite and known in full to the readers, then we can draw on canon evidence to help make inferenc... (read more)

I find it odd that Eliezer writes this fic without having read all of the books, but it's his life and his fic. And for the purposes of complying with canon, I believe that careful perusal of Wikipedia and other fan-made sites should be sufficient. The biggest danger is poor characterisation of characters who don't show up in what Eliezer has read. Reference sites are good at explaining what people did, but poor at describing what they were like. However, I don't think that Eliezer is using any such characters, is he? And therefore, I agree with you that it would be nice if Eliezer spelt out his points of departure; having not read all of the books should not stop him. Unfortunately, I think that some of his rules (such as the rule against anything to stupid for a book for adults) are pretty open-ended. (And how to apply them is very unclear; why is Peter Pettigrew as Scabbers stupider than the rules of Quidditch, for example?)

having not read all of the books should not stop him.

That's not true. Without exhaustive knowledge of canon, there's no way to know whether a given detail is specified at all or not. For example, Eliezer may not have realized that Harry and Draco's experimental results should have been outright confusing given the canon-available information on inheritance.

why is Peter Pettigrew as Scabbers stupider than the rules of Quidditch, for example?

This much at least makes sense to me. Scabbers!Pettigrew requires one person to have done something ridiculously stupid, all on his own. Quidditch is a group error, the kind that can accumulate insidiously from an initially reasonable state and linger for a long time even when every member of the group would have been smart enough not to initially make the error that they're all propagating.

That's a good point. We can only hope that mistakes will be obscure. But that's just DidNotDoTheResearch. One obvious source of information [] begins (and has begun for some time) with the most relevant quotation. Sadly, that is very credible in the world that I know. (The first mistake is driven by panic; then he sticks with it out of intellectual inertia, sunk cost fallacy, etc.) However, it violates the rule that Harry's enemies must also be more rational than in canon. But then Eliezer still keeps some characters (Hermione, for example) canon!stupid. The point is not that Eliezer chose wrong but that it's unpredictable.
Really? My impression is that Hermione has been changed in roughly the same manner as all the other characters (more clever, arrogant and ego-driven). Canon!Hermione couldn't remotely have pulled off the last half dozen MoR chapters, for example.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
I did that research, thank you. I always read the Wikia.
Okay, now I'm confused. Chapter 6: there are about 10 muggle-born English wizards per year. Chapter 23: about one in four children of Squib couples are magical. The exact distinction between Muggles and Squibs is not specified. I haven't found in-MoR data on the population of Muggle England, but according to what I remember from having looked this up somewhere that I can't find again at the moment, there are about a million 11-year-old English Muggles. Muggle-born wizards are so incredibly rare (10^-8) that it's not necessary to postulate heterozygous parents to explain them; they could easily be the result of random mutation.Wizard-born muggles and squibs are not addressed directly in MoR. Harry and Draco's results imply that Squibs must be heterozygous, with magic recessive. If magic is recessive, then all wizards are homozygous, and should never have nonmagical children. It is possible that "squib" doesn't mean the same thing in MoR as it does in canon. I dislike this option aesthetically, and if it is the case then I encourage Eliezer to change his mind. I saw it suggested somewhere that squib children are born to witches who had affairs with muggles. If this is true, then squib children should be much less common to blood-purist parents. It would also explain why squibs are socially embarrassing, and might even explain the origin of the blood purity meme. Actually, I really like that option. If magic is recessive, though, then it's much harder for muggle-born wizards to arise by direct mutation; a single mutation would produce a heterozygous muggle -- that is to say, a squib. It's much more likely that they're descended from forgotten squib heritage; the smallness of the magical (and therefore wizard-born squib) population is sufficient to explain the rarity of muggle-born wizards.
In canon, the word ‘Squib’ means precisely a Wizard-born Muggle, just as ‘Mudblood’ means a Muggle-born Wizard. (The only thing that's not analogous is that the latter term is used only as a slur.) The Harry Potter Wiki describes differences between Squibs and Muggles [] that are minor and could easily be cultural or due to spells that deliberately distinguish them. (In Book V, Mrs Figg claims that she can see Dementors, and the Ministry's ignorance of Squibs allows them to believe her, but Harry seems to think that she's lying.) Squibs and Muggles should be the same phenotype. So Harry is wrong to conclube that ‘Squib’ means someone heterozygous. The parents of Muggle-borns must also be heterozygous, even if those parents are not themselves Squibs. (I see from the latest chapter, however, that Hermione's mother is a Squib!) On reflection, this is the only thing wrong. So we can chalk it up to Harry's unfamiliarity with the proper terms, or even say that he was oversimplifying for Draco's benefit. (Canon does have some Squibs with two Wizarding parents. But we've never seen any details of their home lives, so one could easily blame this on adultery. I remember reading some study, based on DNA samples, that concluded that children are surpsingly often not related to their putative biological fathers.)
(Canon does have some Squibs with two Wizarding parents. But we've never seen any details of their home lives, so one could easily blame this on adultery. I remember reading some study, based on DNA samples, that concluded that children are surpsingly often not related to their putative biological fathers.) Actually, the percentage of people who are not raised by their putative biological fathers is pretty small. The percentage seems to be at most around 4%. Even among people who are getting tested specifically because they suspect that the kid is not theirs, the fraction which are cuckolds is less than 30%. See this summary [] .
Another legend bites the dust! (Although if I cast my mind back to before I heard this rumour, I think that I would have found 3% surprisingly large, all the same.) Thanks for the reference. I suppose that the numbers could be higher among Wizards. And we only have a small sample size.
Why would Harry's dad have significantly more trouble than his mum with looking at the trunk? Does Petunia register as a squib to the Muggle-repelling charms? Is it easier to think about magic if you were exposed to it earlier in life? The narration seems to imply that the blood hypothesis is true, but this later turned out to be false.
Good question. I said above that, by canon standards, Petunia would not be considered a Squib. So any spells that refer to the Wizarding community's standards of what is a Muggle would treat her as a Muggle. But she's probably (2:1 odds) heterozygous, so any spells that look at the genes should treat her as a Squib. The spells may work on the genes without the Wizards who developed that spell actually realising that this is the mechanism; that's the interesting part. I missed something; what turned out to be false?
The blood hypothesis turned out to be false.
Sorry, I forgot that ‘blood hypothesis’ has a specific meaning from Chapter 22. Yes, the language did seem to imply that some Muggles are less magical than others. However, that's not quite the same as the hypothesis that some Wizards are more magical than others (edit: which I take to a necessary part of the official Blood Hypothesis). Indeed, if heterozygotic Muggles (as Petunia is likely to be) are more magical than homozygotic Muggles (as Michael is likely to be), then the language of Chapter 7 still works.
The genetic variance in magical ability (at least, independent from general intelligence, studiousness, etc.) is limited to at most three discrete levels. So strictly yes, it's possible that 'some Muggles are less magical than others', but there certainly isn't a spectrum of magicalness.
Agreed. (I've also made a small clarifying edit to my previous comment.) Everything that you've said is correct; I was just confused about what ‘blood hypothesis’ meant until I reread Chapter 22.
Not true. Magic is heritable, but is a single gene thing, so that the pure blood concerns about mixing with muggles/squibs destroying magic are unfounded.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
10^-5, not 10^-8.
Quite right. Correcting this makes the rate too high, if I remember correctly, for random mutation anyway.
Sorry, I should have said ‘But if so, then that's just DidNotDoTheResearch.’ (emphasis added). But this has always bugged me, especially the idea that Squibs (but not Muggles) are heterozygous. Of course, any mistakes in Harry's reasoning are his and not yours. Actually, this is worth hashing out thoroughly. I will see if that's already been done in the comments here, and if not I'll start a thread on it.
See here [] and to a lesser extent here [].
Thanks! I got distracted last night when I saw that my favourite fanfic had an instalment that I hadn't read yet. (^_^)
I just got a copy of the Author's Notes for Chapter 22, and now I'm confused about your statement here (although I'm less confused about the story itself). Didn't you admit in those notes that you did not do the research? From the notes: I'm perfectly satisfied with that explanation; you change what you have to change to make the story work how you want it to. But because I had not read that before, the story seemed wrong to me.
Given that every character he uses is changed rather significantly for the purposes of the parable it probably doesn't matter too much.

Unity. Which is more powerful? Unity within an army or an alliance between two? Hermione and Draco seem to have granted Harry complete internal unity within Chaos while leaving themselves open to betrayals from their soldiers or from each other. A best case outcome gives them a 2:1 advantage over Chaos but they must expend effort monitoring for internal or external betrayal. I would estimate that 2 spies in each of Sunshine and Dragon would give Harry a win.

The other aspect to consider is that the battle is now a game for points not a fight for mock surviv... (read more)

I noticed this when playing Goldeneye for the N64. It would seem like a team with more players would have an advantage over a team with fewer, but that's not the case. In 3v1 mode, the solo player has three people he can get points for killing, but the team has only one. In other words, it's not how many times you die that matters, it's how many times you kill.

I've been having some problems with MOR Hermione, and chapter 42 amplifies them, with a side issue of what seems like very strange behavior from the other girls.

She seems like a bit of a monster, without concern for whether Harry's apologies actually make sense. Is it plausible that she would have so little interest in fairness?

I'm not talking about whether you think some, or many, women (or girls) would behave like that, but whether it makes sense for Hermione.

5Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
This is honestly making me feel a bit aspie over here. As I understand the rules for social interaction, dropping a 12-year-old girl off the roof should generally be recognized as a misdeed. Hermione, as I was modeling her, was annoyed enough by having to climb the icy castle walls, and after falling off the roof, had gone beyond annoyance into a kind of detached curiosity. Bear in mind that she doesn't know anything about Harry's plans for Malfoy; so far as she knows, Harry is doing all of this for no other reason than to be annoying. I had trouble understanding wedifrid's reaction to Harry and hypothesized that he enjoyed empathizing with a dominant character and didn't want that dominant character to apologize, but now Nancy thinks Hermione is being unfair and, well. I feel a bit aspie because I don't quite understand where it's all coming from. Canon!Hermione in particular seems like she'd be really really annoyed with Harry making her climb up an icy wall and then getting her dropped off the roof. She'd forgive it in a flash as part of the war against Voldemort, but not if it was, say, part of a prank. What am I missing here?
I don't want to bring up PUA, but... ...if you're empathizing with the character... ...then one thing you might feel here is searing embarrassment at the sight of a boy acting this way in front of a girl. I had in mind the old saw about men being attracted to looks, women to status. 'I'll do anything, I'm begging you on my knees' is utter abasement, and even if 11-year-old Harry thinks this is what normal interaction between the sexes looks like, it's still painful to see someone humiliate himself.
While it's true that the average man is more attracted to looks than to status, and the average woman is more attracted to status than to looks, be careful not to over-generalize these preferences. Harry doesn't seem to mind, for instance, that Hermione is plain looking, and admires her intelligence, while the average man prefers beautiful women noticeably less intelligent than he is. Hermione isn't particularly attracted to high status men in canon (she picked Ron over Viktor Krum, for chrissakes), and there's no indication that she's different in MoR. Neither of them fit the personality profiles that the PUA community has studied most heavily, which I've heard described as "extroverted young women of average intelligence" and... well, I haven't been informed about the type of men specifically, but I'll hazard a guess that they're not like MoR Harry. So PUA models of interaction between the sexes wouldn't give you very reliable intuitions about how Hermione and Harry should act towards one another. Never mind that they're prepubescent and applying any adult models of interaction that were developed with sexual relations in mind to them seems kind of creepy in the first place. "Relationship" aside, they're mostly friends at this point. I mean, I agree with you that Harry's apology was rather embarrassing, but that was because it wasn't warranted by the circumstances. If he'd actually done something worthy of an abject apology to Hermione, then he should be giving one, not restraining himself in order to protect his dominance over her.
Yes, this is why I didn't want to bring up PUA -- it drags in a host of connotations which were unrelated to my point. Which was simply that loss of dignity in front of the opposite sex is far more painful for males. The PUA-disclaimer was meant to convey that, even though I attributed the difference to the evo-psych reason I gave, I didn't want to derail the conversation with this sort of thing. Ah well.
The differences are also typically exaggerated in popular culture and also in individual reports. If we compare actual behaviour to reported preferences the sexes are a whole lot more similar in their preferences (when it comes to status and money vs looks) than they tell themselves. Mind you, there is only so much faith I can place in the results of such studies (usually done in speed dating type 'laboratory' settings.)
Interesting. I'm not sure if the correct dichotomy is status vs looks either. It could very well be money vs looks with both as indicators of status, since a woman's status (and ability to confer status on a man with her attention) is often determined by her looks. Have their been studies comparing attraction to, for example, very beautiful female sex workers vs less beautiful cheerleaders? Disclaimer: I'm wildly speculating here...
Not as far as I know, but there definitely should be. I don't think there is any way such a study could not be interesting. There should also be some studies done on The Cheerleader Effect [] .
To be honest I would have been almost as embarrassed if Hermione had done it. And probably even more bewildered.
Not as much as I'm missing. They were in the final stage of an important war(game), so climbing icy walls with magic technological help seems to me a minor discomfort, just part of the game. They all had Feather Fall potions, so no-one was in any danger, whatever the lizard brain thinks of looking down from a long way up. Hermione even told Draco to drop her (according to the possibly unreliable girls' chatter afterwards). Harry had no way of knowing exactly how the rooftop chase would play out, although I would guess that he secretly practiced beforehand to get an advantage. So, what is there for Harry to apologise for, and in such an extreme manner? I was expecting something else to be revealed in 42, but apparently not. I know nothing about canon HP, but I don't think that matters here.
Have you ever been rock climbing? I assure you that the fact that you're safe, and even the fact that you know you're safe, does not shut off the (untrained) lizard brain, at least not the sort of lizard brain that's afraid of heights.
Bizarrely enough, I went rockclimbing a couple of months ago. The first time in years, and the knowledge that I was safe seemed that it did make a lot of difference. At 50 metres up I deliberately violated the "don't look down" rule because I am somewhat masochistic when it comes to challenging my (miscallibrated) instincts. But the vertigo I expected just didn't come at all - I was genuinely surprised. My theory is that my "lizard brain" was already engaged with my rather stronger competitive instincts.
I find the same thing. Climbing isn't scary at all when you're tied on.
I only went climbing less than a dozen times, so I can’t be sure about “getting used to it”, but then again Hermione probably wasn’t used to dropping from castles. When I climb a “simple” vertical wall I don’t get any vertigo or other “lizard-brain complaints” as I had expected. (I rarely get vertigo from heights in general, and among my friends I’m usually the guy closest to any ledge, with everyone telling me to get back, from a safe distance.) However, I did once a climb an indoor route (not sure about terminology) that wasn’t just vertical, it had a kind of lateral transfer to a ledge at the top, and the part where I didn’t see a wall below me all the way down did feel like having butterflies in my stomach despite being tied to a rope. I liked it, but I can see it as a very unpleasant experience for a bookish (i.e., not a tom-boy) 11 years old girl.
Technicality: she's 12 by now; in fact, she's been 12 since mid-September. (Yes, I am a nerd.)
I haven't been rock climbing, but I can tell you that the main reason I'm scared of heights is because I get an urge to jump off, and I have to fight it back down again. If there's a full glass window or something between me and the drop, on the other hand, heights don't bother me at all.
It doesn't mean anything afterwards, though, and afterwards is when the puzzling scene happens.
(We read that play out ourselves.)
If Harry had deliberately zapped Hermione to make her stumble and distract Draco, that would explain everything, but in the text he's running away, dodging their spells. He might have set some sort of trap on the roof, but there's no indication in the text.
Dropping a twelve year old girl off a roof is generally recognized as a bad idea in this world, but we don't have magic spells. Hermione was enthusiastic about the war, and had asked to be dropped. Since I might be a weird person myself, I've set up a poll [] about the plausibility of MOR Hermione. Meanwhile, I recommend Jo Walton's Among Others [], a fantasy novel with autobiographical elements about the coming of age of an intelligent, stubborn young woman. It won't be out till January, but I'll lend you my advance reading copy if you'll PM me your snail address. Tentative theory: MOR Hermione is shaped by a combination of feminism and PUA, and the result is extremely odd. In any case, I find Harry, Draco, and McGonigle quite plausible, and I wonder if you've used different methods for creating them than you used for Hermione.
8Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
I know nothing about PUA except what I read in other people's blog comments, and this part honestly leaves me baffled. Wha? Amplify please?
My knowledge of PUA is almost entirely from the comments here, too. Part of what gets on my nerves about it is that it seems to have a model of relationships in which people are in them solely because of status and fertility markers. There's nothing I can see about people actually liking each other (or, for that matter, disliking each other), or not being completely fungible if a better deal comes along. There's that bit where Harry explains Lily's choice completely in terms of status issues-- this suggests that PUA/evolutionary psychology at least seems like a plausible set of theories to you. It's possible that I'm conflating them as having more in common than they actually do. It gets to me that Hermione seems to be thinking in terms of herself and Harry having a Relationship rather than focusing on what they actually are to each other-- I think she'd have better sense. Or maybe I just hope she would. It's interesting that I've gotten upvoted and a couple of positive comments for my complaints about the most recent chapter, while still getting information which suggests that Hermione is generally seen as more plausible than I see her. I tentatively suggest that my suspension of disbelief is broken, while other people are seeing some specific implausibilities that don't bother them nearly as much. One suggestion about the Ravenclaw girls' vote-- they may well be voting for the most entertaining drama for themselves rather than what's best for Hermione. This may have already occurred to you, considering that so many of them wanted to catch Harry. In their case, more of them should have generalized from one example.
Here maybe I see (but also generalising from one example) why people like your comments but don't qutie agree with you. This is definitely what I'd expect from a 12-year old, at least in the society that I grew up in, which should be similar to Hermione's. (Come to think of it, this reminds me of my sibling at that age, although not myself.) But it's not what I would have hoped.
Harry, Hermione and Draco are supposed to be exceptional, so a wish that Hermione be a bit less typical for her age in the area of emotional maturity is understandable. But I do think we tend to forget that these kids aren't supposed to act exactly like adults, either, and judge them too harshly. Perfection is boring in a story.
As I understand it, there are at least three separate things there: actual scientific evolutionary psychology; pop ev-psych, which is generally used as convenient rationalization for sexism and (less frequently) racism; and PUA, which is less science than engineering, but which comes with certain theories about why it works. I suspect that distinguishing the three properly probably requires a certain level of familiarity with the first one.
The fact that status influences our behaviours does not make them any less real. Nor does the fact that there are good evolutionarily explainable reasons for loyalty mean that loyalty is any less noble.
I agree that status influences our behavior. I don't agree that status is the only thing going on.
If you replaced "I don't agree that" with "I don't believe that" then it would avoid a misleading implication. ;)
I see that you made a claim that I didn't address, but I think you also missed what I was saying. I haven't seen people who are into PUA make an explicit claim that there's nothing to relationships but status and fertility signaling. What I do see is talk about relationships as though there's nothing else. All I know about you folks is what you write, or at least how your text looks to me.
I believe I've pointed this out before, but at least some "PUA" training emphasizes personal development, emotional connection, and trust [] as the foundation for interaction and relationships. (The word "status" is not mentioned once on that page, and if I recall correctly, it is not mentioned in any of the videos being sold there either.)
Thanks for the link. I haven't seen that program before. I always enjoy absorbing things on 'Inner Game', essentially because the insights are usually applicable to life in general, completely aside from anything to do with mating. Come to think of it the lessons are remarkably similar to those found in Alicorn's Luminosity [] that I've just been reading. I would go as far as to recommend Luminosity to people interested in gaining "PUA" kinds of qualities. The ability for self awareness and reflection, mastery over and cooperation with ones own emotions, the ability to know and actively seek ones own goals and the ability to empathise with how others are thinking are attractive traits regardless of gender and core features of 'inner game'.
Amusingly, I'm trying to portray Edward as a little awkwardly unluminous whenever I can do it without screwing up the plot.
That shouldn't be too hard. He was somewhat of a dolt to begin with if I recall. You can get away with that when you are pretty, tall, brooding and have super powers! I liked how you conveyed the introduction of Mike by the way. Both with Mike's clear lack of luminosity and in how his awkwardness impacted Bella.
You have, and thanks for the link. The problem, as I see it, is that even that link still doesn't have any hint of wanting to be with a particular woman because of her individual qualities. It's more like "here are the traits any woman wants' and "apply those traits and women will want you and you won't go off-balance around them". It isn't creepy, but it's very impersonal so far as relationships are concerned. It was interesting-- and new to me (you may have mentioned it, though)-- that in this version, the crucial thing wasn't status markers, it was moment-by-moment connection.

It isn't creepy, but it's very impersonal so far as relationships are concerned.

I agree with your perception that a lot of pickup discussion seems impersonal in the sense that it discusses commonalities across large groups of women. Why is this? Is it a "bug" in pickup, or a "feature"? In my view, the answer is "both."

A lot of knowledge in pickup is about the stages of the interaction that occur before you can really get to know someone on a personal level. You have to make a good enough impression for someone to even want to sit down with you and let you get to know them. As a result, it doesn't work to build models of people completely on-the-fly from the ground up in the middle of interacting with them.

Until you can get to know someone on a personal level, all you have to work with is an impersonal initial model. You start with a set of priors about how someone works based on what reference classes seem appropriate, and you update your beliefs about how they work when you gain new evidence.

Pickup artists have been doing a lot of work trying to figure out the correct priors to approach women with. As you can see from how AMP differs from what you... (read more)

What makes it impersonal from my perspective is not their priors, more that doing well at relationships is all about getting women to like you. People who are bad at relationships are probably also bad at picking the right kind of girl for them. So they might well get into relationships that are damaging financially and emotionally. E.g. don't pick a clingy woman if you need to be away for long periods of time for work.
Doing well at relationships is about getting people to like you... right? Thinking of how best to fulfill other people's criteria isn't always the best way to think about dating from the inside (sometimes it's better to display what you want and let people come to you); nevertheless, being successful at relationships is about fulfilling the criteria of people you want relationships with. Am I not understanding your post?
If the "people you want" is the same as the "people that would be good for you" then yes. If you are unskilled in relationships then they are less likely to be the same and it is possible to get into relationships that aren't good for you. In this case being good at relationships is about knowing how to extract yourself from the situation with minimum drama.
You seem to have the influence and values of that culture approximately backwards.
Edited due to overbroad statement. From a casual exposure PUA don't seem to care much or give advice about long term relationships. But a lot of men do. And the AMP stuff was explictly aimed at people interested in one partner. At no point in this discussion has anyone specified that we are talking only about relationships that a PUA is interested in.
Yes they do. You are attacking an entire culture of straw. People practising PUA methods tend to improve their ability to navigate personal relationships in those areas too. It is the sort of thing that is often covered or responded to by trainers and tends to go hand in hand with the concept of 'inner game'.
Okay that may have been an unfairly broad brush. It seems to be a tiny fraction of what this forum [] talks about. And from what I can read it is after the fact questions/advice rather than how to pick the woman with the right personality to start with.
Well, the relationships forum with it's 9k posts is about a tenth the size of the general questions forum, and about a third the size of the approaching/opening forum. Yes, there are some cynical ideas about relationships in the community, and there is plenty of support for men who just want to play the field for now. And actually, considering that many men in the seduction community have either very little experience with women or are recovering from a bad breakup, it may be smart to wait a while before jumping into a long-term relationship with the first women who is nice to them. PUAs are interested in relationships, but they want to achieve a skillset so they have choices and don't feel like they are settling for someone. As soon as PUAs get some skill and choices, they suddenly become a lot more selective. And the fact is that for most men, the space of women they are attracted to is much larger than the space of women who they are also interested in a relationship with. I think a big reason for the disparity is that men who are learning how to be successful with women spend orders of magnitude more time "stuck" on problems in the early stages of interaction. It's the same reason that people playing arcade games spend most of their time in the lower levels of the game. (Yes, I did just compare women to an arcade game. But I really do think it's a good analogy for both men and women dating new partners, because so many processes follow a linear progression. I wonder what level "marriage" is?) PUAs do talk about this. It's called "screening." The sex guru David Shade notably emphasizes dating women with high self-esteem and methods of testing for it. Doing a search on mASF [] pulls up about 800 posts with screening in the title. Here are a few that I found interesting: * Screen for long-term [
I think the maximal controvery reduction with minimal hamming distance would be replacing "don't" with "doesn't." The average Pick Up Artist likely cares deeply about the direction of his eventual long term relationship; but Pick Up Artistry is focused on successfully starting relationships to a much greater extent than continuing or ending them.

The problem, as I see it, is that even that link still doesn't have any hint of wanting to be with a particular woman because of her individual qualities.

Hm. I guess you missed the part where fully one-third of the program being sold is devoted exclusively to cultivating curiosity about, and appreciation for "her individual qualities." ;-)

That being said, from a marketing perspective, there's no need to discuss what qualities the reader is looking for, since those will be distinct to the individual reader. Instead, the copy assumes only that they be women that the reader wants to have a deeper connection with.

(I'm not sure about the testimonials on that page, but I have seen others on the site from men who purchased some of this company's programs in order to improve their connection with a girlfriend or spouse.)

An important piece of background info, by the way. The number one question received by PUA trainers, or asked on PUA forums, etc. is, "How can I get that one girl I like?" (followed by, "How can I get back that girl I like that I blew it with?")

What guys actually want, and what they like to signal to other guys that they want, aren't alw... (read more)

Right. There is only so much that PUA materials can even say about individual women. Dealing with individual women and taking into account her personal characteristics is the job of the PUA, not of the PUA teacher. All the teacher can do is give the PUA a set of tools, and give the PUA the task of customizing those tools and figuring out which tools apply to which women. That's a good point. I think it's true for other reasons, also. A lot of men would like to have a relationship with women of a similar level of looks and intelligence, yet those women are out of reach. To be able to have a relationship, these men need more choices in women. Dating multiple women may or may not be the goal, but the right goal to aspire to is to have a high enough level of attractiveness that multiple women will want to date you, even if you only want a long-term relationship with one woman. If you want to date women with multiple men after them, then you need to be the sort of guy who has multiple women after you. More choices in women gives you more relationship prospects. For men who are unsuccessful with women, "How can I get that one girl I like?" is sort of the wrong question. It's like someone who's never played the violin asking "how do I play the Brahms violin concerto?" or someone with no startup experience asking "how do I get acquired by Google?" The mistake in these questions is trying to solve a certain problem before having an understanding of the fundamentals involved in solving problems of that type. As I pointed out to Nancy [] , developing a model of people from the ground-up, on-the-fly every time you interact with someone is not scalable. Trying to give a woman a personalized experience that way is usually going to give her a crappy experience because you spend most of the time blundering around out of a misplaced fear of being "impersonal" or "stereotyping" (because heuristicall
Not to mention anchoring the consumer's perception of actual quality.
Which explains the number one answer in at least some of those circles: GFTOW! (And the number one moral - quit being so goddam needy!)
I was making almost the opposite point. You addressed a claim that I wouldn't make and I was distancing myself from it! "You folks"? I am not and have never been a PUA of any kind! You are welcome to your stereotypes but please exclude me from them. :)
Do you remember where you saw writing that gives you this impression? I've seen PUAs talk a lot about status and fertility signals underlying relationships. I don't think that the consensus is that "there's nothing else," but I've seen some PUAs write stuff that could give that impression, such as Mystery.
Even Mystery gives some air time to things other than status and fertility signals. He discusses the creation of individual identities targeted to a smaller reference group of the kind of women you hope to attract. Mind you, even then he makes it quite clear that he "doesn't give a @#$% who you are underneath, just what identity you are going to construct and convey."
Yes, and he also talks about "love" all the time. He considers love to "pair-bonding," but it's definitely more than status and fertility. It's true that he doesn't talk much about whether the identities you display should be genuine or not. I think he would agree that it's better if they are genuine. And since he is so big on outer game, he may feel that if you can make a consistent display of a certain identity, you will grow to fill whatever big boots you are walking around in. In my experience, that's actually true. As I've argued here before, if you can get a bunch of people to think that you are really cool without any significant factual lies, then you are that cool.
Early returns on the poll [] suggest that I was generalizing from one example. More people find Hermione plausible than not. Admittedly, it's a small sample, but I'm not expecting the results to reverse.
IMO you aren't missing anything. I found your depiction of Hermione's reaction, and Harry's reaction to her reaction, quite realistic. The other commenters are demanding 12-year-olds to be unrealistically sane. In fact most women I know would behave the same way at 20, and a lot of men too.
But 12 year olds are sane - at least relative to what will be going on three years hence. If I were to criticize EY's handling of this stuff, it is that he should have followed canon by putting off dealing with romance issues until the kids are in their third or fourth Hogwarts year. But, if EY has to drag romance into this story, I wish he wouldn't have the heads all of his minor female characters so filled with romantic mush and gossip about same that they don't seem to be much use for any other purpose. Eliezer gives his male characters a variety of idiosyncratic, yet typical young male foibles - twin Weasley pranks, Ron Weasley quiddich mania, Harry's enthusiasm for things military, even Draco's misogyny. I wouldn't mind if he teased his female characters regarding a variety of equally silly and endearing stereotypically female traits. But it seems he can only think of one.
People kept emphasising that being dropped was safe, and it didn't feel like Hermione was that afraid of it, probably because the scene wasn't from her point of view. Maybe you could portray that a bit more. When Harry was dropped it was quite vivid that he was overcoming his fear. Also it seemed obvious that Harry went out on the roof as part of a plan in order not to lose the game, and I assumed Hermione and Draco would have come to the same conclusion. So of course it wasn't a prank. So when Hermione suggested it was revenge for the date and Harry also had something against Draco, she was just joking about their unpleasant situation. I can see I missed a few things there, but that's how it seemed on my first reading. I noticed later they might think it would have been easier to win without Hermione having the gloves. So it could be somewhat plausible they'd think it was a prank or revenge, given that they don't know Harry's motives and may jump to conclusions.
My own take on this. Hermione didn't have to go on the roof. She could've thought of a different method of taking Harry down. I forget if it has been specified, is there a time limit? They could've waited for harry to get tired walking about on the roof and picked him off later. As such she is responsible for the risks she took going on the wall after Harry. Harry should have shown concern after her fall, but a full on apology does seem a bit thick.
I approve of sane apologies.
And just where did this whole 'unanimously vote that Draco should drop Harry' thing come from? Why would a bunch of girls (or anyone) unanimously vote for something so boring? When you have seen someone voluntarily have himself beaten to a pulp how could it be remotely exciting to see him float down a building in controlled circumstances when a girl had already done it voluntarily without preparation? That doesn't sound remotely like the sort of things girls would suggest. It does seem odd that in the past Harry has made sure that he doesn't moddycoddle Hermione in the battles, realising that she would be insulted if he did and yet now acts in completely the opposite manner. And Hermione and even Draco don't find it strange...
This could be a situation where nobody really likes the outcome, but (since it was obviously a very fair punishment) they all treated it with respect (wanting to signal that they liked it). So nobody suggested anything really exciting, figuring that nobody else would go along with it. (There's a name for that fallacy of decision, where everybody votes for their second choice to be nice, since they think that it's the first choice of everybody else.) Or else, they each had a secret plan (to summon Harry to their arms).
Hermione and Harry are acting a bit out of character in these last few chapters. Canon Hermione is straightforward, sometimes even abrasive, and extremely concerned with fairness. That is why she started S.P.E.W., after all. I can understand making her more social and diplomatic in order to strengthen her above canon, but the preoccupation with fairness and justice is pretty central to her personality. Is she toying with Harry (which isn't like her), or are they both blind to how silly he's being? This apology business doesn't strike me as cute, like Ch. 36 was. It's just strange.

One thing I do find myself wondering about this latest chapter is why neither of these two Most Brilliant Students (Hermione and Draco) seem to have thought of "Accio Broom!" or "Wingardiam Leviosa" instead of pursuing Harry with Gecko Gloves. If one or both of them is flying while Harry's got his hands stuck to a wall, they win. Also, since they've been fighting Chaos soldiers using hover charms to move while using ball bearings to make the floors impassable, they should have at least tried to adapt and use that strategy (granting that they can't use brooms or other means of flight due to rules of engagement or some such) when facing Harry on the roof. They need to work on their OODA Loops. ;)

Brooms are illegal magical artifacts, Wingardium Leviosa presumably too impractical because because it offers neither sufficient mobility to dodge nor allows for using cover so extended use (as opposed to using it just to pass obstacles) would make the levitated person an easy target (Harry can still cast with one hand while hanging on with the other and his feet), and would soon exhaust the levitating person as well. Besides they would be giving up their two to one advantage.
Good points, but I think that with some practice in teamwork of the sort employed in Neville's "Special Attacks," they could have come up with something. Say, Draco levitating Hermione horizontally out the window, so she can use a Shield Charm to cover herself completely while Draco moves her out of Harry's one-handed firing arc. Throw in a baseball-style hand-signal code between them, so if Harry is concentrating on Hermione, Draco lets her go while she casts Leviosa on herself, and he zaps Harry, or if Harry tries to take aim at Draco, Hermione drops her shield charm and fires. And this assumes that neither of them (or Genius!Harry himself, for that matter) can come up with a better flying spell than Wingardiam Leviosa. Maybe their problem is that they weren't quite ready for that level of teamwork, though if it was me in either of their places I'd have wanted to look into developing an inventory of "Special Attack" type maneuvers after seeing them work so well for Chaos. OTOH, the likely real reason is that the Gecko Gloves give Harry a chance to use Science! in a fun way, so the Rule of Cool applies. Still, reactionless flight is such a trivial matter in the Potterverse that I still found myself wondering why they just went out after Harry on his own terms instead of trying to wield air power against him somehow. Maybe a couple lines of dialogue along the lines of "Why don't we use [flight-based attack X]?" "We can't because Harry would just use an Indra's Net Jinx!" (or some other expected counter that makes using the Gecko Gloves then sliding around on the slippery roof their best response to the situation).
Does that work? I know Voldemort can fly but I got the impression that was something a bit more advanced than Winguardium Leviosa. Something off the order of an enhanced continuous form of apparation that requires huge amounts of concentration and skill to maintain. It would come with an advanced understanding of the mechanics of magical transport, along the same lines of Harry's advanced understanding allowing him to partially transfigure objects. I know brooms can fly but have we been given reason to believe that reactionless flight is trivial in the 'first years can do it' sense? It sounds like the sort of thing Harry would have tested but I could have forgotten him doing so. If self casting doesn't work then try casting winguardium leviosa on a heavy object while yourself floating on a raft in a tub, measuring the displacement of water...
Consulting the wiki [], it does state that "Snape could fly without the use of a broom or any other visible materialistic support. The only other wizard that was known to be able to do this is Lord Voldemort, who most likely taught Snape the method to do so."
Interesting. That seems to fit well enough with my theory of 'advanced generalisation of apparition-type magic' so I'll run with that hypothesis until something better or MoR!authoritative comes along.
Oops, I should have been more clear. By "reactionless flight is trivial" I meant in general, not necessarily for persons playing Superman. Wingardium Leviosa is a spell that generates reactionless flight, and it's literally the first thing kids learn. It can be used on persons and has already been employed in combat in MoR (e.g. "Chaotic Twist!"). Then there's other things like Quick Quotes Quills that float and move reactionlessly as they write, brooms, flying carpets, etc.. Since Hermione is a stupendous genius with spells even in Canon, and MoR!Draco is no slouch himself, it just seems likely to me that they would have tried to come up with something. Leviosa on a chair, or Hermione's shoes as a semi-permanent enchantment ("Wait, Draco, I know some 3rd Level spells..."), or something like that. But it's nothing the Rule of Cool and the MST3K Mantra can't fix. :)

Hi, first comment from me. I recently was linked to the fanfic, and then happened to also read some of the discussions here.

Just in case: contains comments on chapters 17 and 29.

I have a few questions, both related to the fanfic and (a bit) unrelated:

  1. Concerning suspension of disbelief and James Randi. I was one of the readers whose suspension of disbelief was broken. Indeed, I did think until now that the virtues of a skeptic are similar - or even the same - as those of a scientist. Rather than just substituting the name of another skeptic who is less kn

... (read more)
Regarding #2, I don't think either of those examples come up particularly in any of the main sequences, though they have been posted on (try the search bar on the right). As for the sequences, they are ridiculously intimidating at first glance, but worthwhile. My recommendation is just to dive in one post at a time (Mysterious Questions to Mysterious Answers is a good starting point, with plenty of real life examples), and not let the sheer volume scare you off. Don't make it a project, just take each post as something to read on its own.
Thank you Spurlock, that was helpful. To expand on my previous idea: This is speculation not based on any direct evidence in the text, but I think the secret held in the Potion Book is the recipe for the potion Lily used to turn her sister beautiful. EY points out several times how Transfigurations are dangerous, points out that this is why there are still fat people etc., and Petunia herself describes the process as very long (sick for a month). So it might be possible that the potion uses Dark Magic or some other terrible secret was involved in its creation.
I'm not sure that people who actually live in the wizarding world care about appearance in quite the same way that muggles do. Wizards seem to be content to be extremely beautiful or extremely ugly.
The original books seemed to have a reasonable amount of teenage drama about looks.
I'd have to reread-- how much of the angsting was from teenagers who grew up among muggles? Do the adult wizards seem calmer about their looks than adult muggles? ETA: I didn't mean muggles, I meant humans in the real world. The weirdest thing about the HP books is that they're insanely popular while portraying a world in which people (you and everyone you've ever known) are consistently viewed as inferior. I don't have any reason to think this is a bad thing, but it's very strange considering the usual human preference for self-congratulation.

By reading about high-status people, you pretend you're high-status too. Fiction is escapist. Nobody empathizes with the Muggles in HP - they identify with Harry, or Hermione, or Ron or another Wizard.

How common is it for fiction to be about high status people who visibly despise people like the reader? I agree that you're accurately describing the experience of reading HP.
In medieval fantasy it is very nearly ubiquitous.That is, similar to Harry Potter in as much as the evil folks abuse the peasants while the good guys condescend. Any 'people like the reader' who get treated with respect tend to be those that more or less don't act like people like the reader.
Hello, my name is John Galt and if you have ever used the emergency room in a hospital, please go die in a fire.
I'm honestly not sure whether that's a fair reading of Atlas Shrugged. I recently heard from a woman whose mother died in a fire how infuriating "die in a fire" is. Perhaps it would be kinder to retire it at least until people no longer die in fires.
By that standard, we should purge our speaking of any and all allusions to traumatic death, i.e. the overwhelming majority of death. I would judge this to be an unreasonable standard; trigger warnings are a good thing when possible, but they are not practical for casual, conversational speech. This particular case may also be a form of unusually high sensitivity, unless the loss was recent (or particularly traumatic for other reasons, e.g. happened during childhood or the woman nearly died in the fire herself). I lost the majority of my family to various forms of cancer, and nearly everyone I know has had at least one such event, but I still remember "I hope the bastard gets bowel cancer" or similar phrases being a fairly common choice for an extremely venomous insult, and it wouldn't cause so much as a raised eyebrow unless someone's relative were in the process of dying of cancer, or had very recently done so.
The death was fairly recent, and took a couple of years. I suppose you could call it dying of a fire rather than in one. I am really not sure where the limits should be on that sort of speech-- in a public forum of this size, the odds of accidentally stomping on someone's toes go up.
I don't remember offhand either. I wonder, though, if the Malfoys are magically beautiful.
I think Lockroy's smile may be mentioned as magically assisted.
[-][anonymous]12y 5

Some wild hypotheses:

Horcruxes As Mind: If we assume there is no soul, then a Horcrux must preserve the mind. At least, part of it. Perhaps what is preserved is some random subset of the person's memories, desires, priors and weights. Or perhaps the division is along some nice mental function. The container probably has some extra functions (see below). It's a play on the phrase "cached thoughts"!

Losing Your Mind Step 1: Tom Riddle was probably brilliant, and more complex than Voldemort in his final days. Perhaps you lose the part of your mind en... (read more)

I pretty sure Eliezer won't create a dry, technical, explanation of magic. That would just be too boring.
I'm pretty sure Eliezer thinks technical explanations don't have to be dry or boring. (In fact, this would be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that...)
Someone didn't play Ars Magica...
I'm pretty sure this doesn't explain much about magic in general. I just suggested that the mystery might be transferred to a magical process, rather than the existence of souls. And I agree with your statment. But it's a question of how much he wants the reductionist notions about the Universe that Harry holds to be false.

Ch. 40:

Interesting that Harry said "besides Avada Kedavra" rather than "besides Imperius". (I suppose it's that "intent to kill" acting up again.) But I wonder how easy it would be to Imperius someone into being more rational.

According to Rowling's description, the Imperius curse is a lot like Heinlein's slugs: the controlled person keeps all their capabilities, but feels no worry or feeling of responsibility, and they want whatever the controller wants them to want. To make them more rational, the controller would essentially have to do their thinking for them. It's most useful for making someone else into your secret agent.

The thing I find most intriguing about the Imperius curse is that it's possible for someone under it to cast the curse on someone else. And several people can be controlled by a single Imperius-caster. This means that, if enough people could perform the curse, you could theoretically turn the entire world into your brainwashed slaves by setting up an Imperius tree.

Of course, your commands would be passed on through the imperfect interpretation of O(log n) intermediaries, where n is the size of the controlled population.

Which Imperius graphs are allowed? Can they be non-transitive? Can someone be under two Imperiuses?
By "non-transitive" do you mean cyclic? Transitive would mean that if A imperiused B, and B imperiused C, than A must have imperiused C, which is clearly not true, though A will of course have some degree of control over C.
Yes. I was wondering if you could add cross-branches to an imperius tree to improve signal strength, but this might lead to cycles which may not be allowed.
Offhand I would expect cycles to be possible; why not? In the extreme case, if I cast Imperius on you, then your desries will follow mine, and if (through some perversity) I desire you to cast Imperius on me, then you'll do it. Among trusted friends, this could be a nice way to get high (well, mellow) for a while. Then eventually I will you to lift the curse on me, then lift my curse on you (or the other way around). It could also work for willpower, even if you can't cast it on yourself. (Aside unrelated to acylcicity: the Ministry could license some well trained, closely supervised Wizarding therapists to use Imperius to treat addiction and the like.) If you know that you're in a cycle and want out, then it's easy to get out. Just will someone to will someone to … will someone to lift the curse on you. But you might not know.

Is anyone collecting the Author's Notes in a publically-accessible place? Or is there a good reason (aside from aesthetic considerations) why they disappear?

I am. I don't have the early ones, though - if anyone does, please share.

I also set up a very rough RSS scraper of the relevant url as a backup, here, though it seems to have stopped working for no apparent reason; it didn't catch the latest set of notes.

I have the notes for chapters 12, 17, 18, 19. It probably makes the most sense to have them all in one location, so I can send you them if you want to add them to your page.

Awesome. I'm emailable at my username at
Posted. Edit: Scratch that, I'm having sync issues. Working on it. Edit2: Ok, there it goes. Should be up now.
Let's just say that it's a good thing that some of them have disappeared, and leave it at that.
3lmnop12y I'm curious.
Ask Eliezer about his comments on Lily and Snape.

Eliezer said he was writing Methods because he was having trouble writing his Rationality book.

Now, I find this confusing. If you're having trouble writing, the last thing you need is another book, competing for your attention. Perhaps if the second book had been more scholarly, he could have procrastinated from it by writing the rationality book, but this isn't the case here.

Equally, if it's rapid and constant feedback he needs, I'm sure we could find some, somewhere on the internet. -We'll all buy the book anyway, and a plausible pre-commitment should be... (read more)

If you're having trouble writing, the last thing you need is another book, competing for your attention.

This is not generally true. This is true iff the reason you are having trouble writing is because there are too many other demands on your time. If you can sit down to write, with nothing else to do for the next six hours, and plunk out a pathetic WPM because you're blocked or distractable or frustrated or depressed - then this isn't the case. In such a case many writers find that the way to get over the block is to write something else - something they can write copiously, enjoyably, without running into the same problems. Such as Harry Potter fanfiction.

But my theory is interesting; how can the supporting evidence not be true?! On a more serious note, did Eliezer enjoy writing the Sequences?

"Enjoy" isn't necessarily the relevant metric from which to predict productivity. I enjoy drawing my webcomic, and it only takes me a couple hours to do each one, but I haven't the patience to do more than one page a week - not because I don't enjoy it, but because my brain resists too much of the same thing spaced together too closely. Conversely, I don't think I could be said to "enjoy" some of the pointless Flash games that have eaten entire days of my life singlehandedly, but I went on playing them anyway.

And this superficially unintuitive observation has been studied right down to the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. Crudely speaking it is the difference between the opiod dopaminergic systems. (Flash games and amphetamines both come down in the 'dopamine' category.)
Similar to the recent result that Wireheading in rats causes frenzied desire, rather than actual bliss? (source: a lecture David Pearce gave this May).
Yes, exactly that kind of thing.
Supporting evidence isn't what Alicorn contradicted. She contradicted your absolute claim (last thing...)
Surely 'Methods is the Rationality book' is the conclusion, and "If you're having trouble writing, the last thing you need is another book, competing for your attention" is the evidence?
Surely not. I refer to the quotes and context. Alicorn made a claim 'this is not generally true' with a specific quote included. You directly contradicted that. You are wrong and Alicorn is right. I am largely indifferent to the role your claim makes for your 'MoR is the book idea'. It is just wrong.
Sorry, despite this joke having been somewhat derailed, I don't understand what you mean. I gave the line about not wanting distractions as evidence for MoR being the book; Alicorn pointed out this was silly. I'm not sure where you think I contradicted her (unless you mean by saying, "But my theory is interesting; how can the supporting evidence not be true?!", I didn't reply to her, except to ask a question, let alone respond), or why we're pursuing this conversation.
One obvious fact is that Harry Potter fanfiction simply won't attract much attention, and presumably Eliezer would want his book to be as widely read as possible among those who would profit from it.
When Feynman came back from work on the Manhattan project, he felt fatigued and found he had no interest in physics or math anymore. He could hardly work. Then he noticed some interesting lights in the cafeteria and started trying to describe their shape mathematically. After spending a couple of days on it, he was excitedly telling his friends about the interesting work he'd been doing; they were confused as to why he was doing anything quite so useless. He insisted that was the point; he was doing something fun and it got him back into working on interesting physics problems again.
I believe he also started off uncertain of the legality of the fanfic, and praised Rowling when he found that she is ok with any derivative works so long as they don't make money. Of course, if that really is the entire copyright restriction, he could release the fanfic as a "free e-book". Other people have criticized your proposal that you shouldn't write B to help you write A. I definitely agree with what Alicorn said. You based that on an assumption of why he's had any difficulty writing A. Most of the writing I've done is in the form of forum and blog comments. It's always easier to write a second comment after writing a first, for me anyhow. I often respond to something small before coming back to writing a larger post or comment. That's not necessarily Eliezer's reasoning, but there can be reasons to write B to write A. Another point - MoR introduces a lot of concepts which the blog covers more thoroughly. I would expect the book to cover many concepts more thoroughly than the fanfiction does. One thing a person might aim to accomplish with a book whose content is also on a blog is to make the content more compact and organized. I don't think that's the main purpose of MoR! I agree that it makes some ideas more accessible. But how confident are you that those are all of Eliezer's objectives with his book? Do you know who his target audiences are? The audience is a very select audience. Most don't see themselves as better than most people, as far as I know, but I do think that most people who have heard of the concept of fanfiction think of it by default as something below them. This may be an exceptional fanfic, but lots of people will never read it, because it's a fanfic. And many people have never heard the term "fanfic"! A published book though, that will reach people who make bookstore status purchases. People who have reason to signal that they are rational. They will buy a book with a title they can quote without getting dangerou
Your confusion is due to problems in your map of human behavioural patterns, not due to an incongruous explanation of the motivations for MoR. The discussions surrounding MoR give a powerful status reward, associating writing with social success. That is one of the most powerful forms of behavioural reinforcement, and something I have exploited myself at times.

Is Harry going to make a [realtime] prediction market for the battles?

How is it safe to Transfigure a desk into a pig? Pigs breathe.

This should be safe if done briefly, right? When it turns back into a table, we get bubbles in the table and sawdust in the air. If a large amount of transfigured air has been incorporated into the bodies of bystanders (and pigs do breathe out oxygen, or at least humans do, because our lungs aren't terribly efficient), then we might have a problem.
That doesn't seem like a sufficient degree of caution, considering how McGonagall behaves with respect to other potentially dangerous Transfigurations. She doesn't say to only Transfigure things briefly into liquids because of evaporation, she says not to do it at all. And she especially wouldn't do a potentially dangerous Transfiguration as the introduction to a Transfiguration safety lecture without making a big deal out of all the precautions she had to take to do it. In fact, she specifically says that the students could guess the direction of the Transfiguration based on safety principles, and based on safety principles, it should have been pig to desk, not desk to pig.
Well, if the pig "is" actually a desk, then perhaps it would only look like it's breathing. It would be a magically animated simulation of a pig crafted from the matter of the desk. Even if it's sucking air in and exhaling it back out, it wouldn't be actually metabolizing oxygen, at least not any more than its "actual" desk-self does. Since Transfiguration is based on Platonic metaphysics, the desk would be a pig "in substance" but still a desk "in essence" (which is why it turns back to a desk when the spell wears off--its true Form remains the same). Also, the fact that (IIRC) it remains still, quiet, and non-disruptive instead of acting like an un-trained farm animal suddenly finding itself in a room full of humans would imply that it's a magically-animated pseudo-pig, more like a really awesome claymation than a real biological creature. Its pig attributes are only surface appearances, rather than its true nature (in Platonic terms), so it doesn't come loaded with a full array of animal instincts, an empty stomach and GI tract (unless McG transfigured some of the desk into partly-digested pig fodder, other parts of the desk into symbiotic GI tract bacteria, etc.). Since McG is stunned by the idea of Transfiguration on a level below grossly-perceivable Form, I'm guessing that if someone cut up the pig it would turn out to be minimally simple on the inside--no internal organs, differentiated tissues, etc. beyond what is necessary to make it look and appear to function like a pig from the outside. This would also be consistent with her "Don't Transfigure anything into something that might be eaten!" rule, since a Transfigured "pig" would not look like fresh pork if it were butchered. OTOH, Harry seems to have bypassed the Platonic aspect by Transfiguring on the sub-quantum level, so if he were able to do the same with a desk-to-pig (necessarily including the microbiology, molecular biology, metabolic sequences, etc.), he might be able to transfigure a Desk-Pi
This model isn't consistent with the specific reasons McGonagall gives for the prohibitions she does specify. She talks about liquids evaporating, recolored hair falling out, inanimate objects undergoing tiny internal changes that affect the original form. Even if McGonagall knew how to safely do what she did, she shouldn't have used that example in a safety lecture. A student might try Transfiguring something into an animal, and might include the fact that animals breathe in their visualization of the target form.
There was an Author's Note about this. Do we still have it anywhere?
It's been linked below by AdeleneDawner. Relevant parts: Several reviewers have asked why dangerous!Transfiguration allows Professor McGonagall to Transfigure her desk into a pig that breathes in oxygen and breathes out a snort of carbon dioxide. So the first answer is that I wrote that in because it was in canon, and didn't realize it was a problem until some reviewers pointed it out. Congratulations, you win. With that said, the obvious retroactive rationalizations are as follows: (1) Professor McGonagall used a specialized Charm rather than free Transfiguration. This is the generic explanation I left open for anything in canon that doesn't fit the rules. (2) For the same reason organisms don't eat their own waste products, pigs don't breathe out anything that'll end up incorporated when another mammal breathes it in. Plants might be in trouble, but not people. (I have no idea whether this is actually true.) (3) Once magic is in the mix, things don't work by reductionist chemistry any more, they work by Forms like the ancient Greeks believed in. Just because the desk has been Transfigured into the Form of a pig doesn't mean that the carbon dioxide breathed out has an actively Transfigured Form; the carbon dioxide has had its own Form permanently transformed by something that was Transfigured, rather than having any change maintained by active magic. Contradicted to some extent by what I had McGonagall say about a constant loss of the body's matter to the atmosphere, but I could always go back and delete that. (4) The first wizards to experiment with Transfiguration didn't realize that there ought to be a problem, so there isn't one. (5) It's an emergent phenomenon []
Other possibilities: (6) It was a non-breathing imitation of a pig. (7) It was inside an invisible box isolating it from the surrounding air.
Perhaps trust in entropy is enough--in a life only long enough for 10^2 exhales, a pig would exhale 4g of CO2. Even if it were oxygen, and the classroom's inhabitants managed to inhale all of that before it untransfigures, that's .1g apiece among 40 students, and guaranteed to be well-mixed in molecule-sized pieces in the blood stream. So each student would lose thousands of red blood cells and have some extra load on their blood filtration organs, but not enough that anybody would be likely to notice a problem.
I think it was way less than 100 exhales, and the breaths may not have had time to travel away from the pig, especially if she could guarantee there'd be no wind. So maybe she knows how long something can safely be transfigured into a pig or a liquid, but has a simpler rule for the students on their first class. Or maybe she could create a magical barrier around the pig so it was as safe as if it were in a glass box.
2 and 3 don't seem to work - even if the carbon dioxide isn't a problem, pigs evaporate! And, now that I think of it, so does wood unless it's completely desiccated.
OK, let's take (1). Does McGonogall's lesson still make sense?
Mostly. If she used an incantation (which I was under the impression was necessary for non-free Transfiguration) then the narration didn't mention it. Also, she should have pointed out explicitly to the class that the desk-to-pig transformation was non-free and should never be attempted using free Transfiguration. Other than that, no objections.
I don't think she said whether it was a desk-to-pig or pig-to-desk transformation, she'd told people not to guess and she asked Harry to wait until after class about his speculation. But she should have also warned against using free Transfiguration to convert something into an animal. It's kind of covered under not transforming things into liquids which can evaporate but you'd expect her to be explicit. She might also have pointed out that guessing whether it was a pig-to-desk or desk-to-pig free transformation would have got the wrong answer either way. Sure it's a trick question, but so was asking whether Harry cared to guess in the first place.
That's actually rather disappointing. This is supposed to be a story where the rules are consistent.
-1Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Sadly, being not logically omniscient, I am not capable of always perfectly living up to my endeavor to write a story with perfectly consistent rules. There are these things called mistakes.
Well, yeah, but... you could have tried to fix it, rather than just saying [] "whoops, guess I messed up". ETA: I realize that could have sounded petty. The reason I'm making a big deal out of this is that the presence of inconsistencies pretty much shoots to hell our ability as fans to speculate meaningfully about the fic.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
I feel reluctant to directly contradict canon in this case by having McGonagall not transform the pig, never mind the havoc it wreaks on all neighboring paragraphs. Do you have a different suggested fix?
I'm partial to adding an incantation and a stern warning. Edit: It occurs to me that the Animagus transformation doesn't require an incantation either, so that's not a general rule about free vs. non-free Transfiguration, and it's hard to imagine that an incantation like Crystferrium ("Furniporcis"?) wouldn't give away the direction. Just the warning, then.
Yes, the big thing that's missing is the warning not to try to copy her example. Anything else can be chalked up to the Professor's leet transformation skillz.
Pavitra and Caspian's suggestions above seem good.
"She's McGonagall" is a perfectly acceptable explanation. I had assumed that McGonagall gained the ability to maintain safe transfigurations to living creatures through years of hard work in controlled conditions of the type we gain just a glimpse of when Harry is showing off his new trick. It doesn't seem all that much harder than, say, flying.
I'm definitely in favor of a wizard did it []. Word of God [] might be enough on this one, though a don't try this at home [] could still be called for. ETA: TVTropes warning
A witch did it, silly.
Please don't link to known memetic hazards [] without appropriate warnings.
Thank you.

Thought on Chapter 39 re ghosts (and possibly paintings)

If ghosts in the MoRverse are essentially echos/final states of someone, while they perhaps aren't people, would they effectively implicitly encode the final brain information, thus, while not exactly the person, would essentially contain the person "in storage/paused" (ie, act as a magical equivalent of cryo)

Also... the animagus issue is at least a partial evidence for the other side, given that a human mind managed to continue working in a cat brain, (or so it would seem)

This seems to suggest that if you are going to die, make sure you do so in a traumatic, angst ridden way. Get yourself ghosted. Then if someone creates a Friendly Magic-Gaming AI they can go ahead and synthesise you into a corporeal body. And if they refuse then you can haunt them and throw a dust spec in their eye once a year for 3^^^^3 years of the magically extended life of the universe.
Well, is it known that it traumatic angst ridden death causes ghosts in the MoRverse? (Also brings up the possibility that actual manifested ghosts are just the really strong residues, and their may be weaker non visible remanents/echos of the final brain states of everyone else too in the MoRverse)
That sounds likely. Of course, I'd still want to make damn sure my remnant kicked up as much fuss as possible... "Recoporialise me! Recorporialise me!"
"To whoever finds this echo and message, please construct the following device and/or perform the following spells..."
Won't that make you sound like Sealed Evil in a Can?
"Please see attached 3000 page mathematical analysis and the following simulations as to the nature and operation of these devices and spells..." Problem solved. :)
"You're starting to sound convincing [], so I'm going to stop listening right now before you make me change my mind."
Ghost cryo is yummy. (Coincidentally, walking through a ghost causes a sensation of cold.) There are lots of plausible explanations for animagus transformation that don't require souls, though some sort of mind/body duality does seem to be implied. I don't see how to experimentally investigate this without deliberately inflicting brain damage, though.
First thought would be to get a transformed animagus into an MRI or CAT scan or whatever and see if one transformed into, say, a cat, has the same sort of brain as a cat or if it is noticeably different.

What does "Xanatos" (as mentioned several times in the current Author's Note) mean? I'm not familiar with that reference.

P.S. That's one sexy PDF! And wow, 641 pages — I think that's already about the length of the sixth book.

Xanatos is a mastermind from Gargoyles whose convoluted plots usually relied on the heroes stopping one scheme in order for the real objective to be attained. He became eponymous for such plots, especially on TV Tropes. (Sorry in advance for wasting your next few days.)

I just caught up on the last ten chapters.

I feel like the entertainment value is trending up, perhaps because most of the transparent lectures-for-the-reader material is off the author's chest, or that the characters are taking on a reality of sorts in his head. Sometimes the cuteness is formed of stock elements, but I feel like there are also real moments of discovery and invention in the interactions.

I actually liked the didactic parts - generally speaking, I read sf for the infodumps. When I want character or prose style I go for actual literature.
I sometimes have a hard time enjoying literature. But on the other hand, bad writing really bothers me. So I prefer to look for interesting ideas, well crafted. (e.g. Iain (M.) Banks, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ursula LeGuin).

I like Harry's poetic exposition of moral sentimentalism in chapter 39:

There is no justice in the laws of Nature... no term for fairness in the equations of motion. The universe is neither evil, nor good, it simply does not care. The stars don't care, or the Sun, or the sky. But they don't have to! We care! There is light in the world, and it is us!

This reminds me of the video trailer (complete with a soundtrack by Talking Heads and Muse!) I made for "desire utilitarianism" aka "desirism," a version of moral sentimentalism I held at... (read more)

This seems like a reference to a quote [] by Stanley Kubrick:
Or, possibly, a quote by Richard Dawkins in Garden out of Eden:

I have an argument for why telling someone that there's a new chapter of MoR hurts them!

Say that

  • The thought of MoR crosses your mind at random intervals, making you go check
  • If there's no new chapter, you suffer disappointment.
  • If there is a new chapter, you get enjoyment.
  • At other times your utility is zero.

Then if you alert someone to MoR before they would have naturally thought of it, you increase the length of time during which they are at risk of checking and being disappointed.

I have actually been moved by this argument in the case of the one person I know IRL who reads MoR.

So, the root of all suffering is desire - for new fanfic?
If you get a account, you can sign up to be notified of new chapters by email. Try it; your mental health will probably improve. (It worked for me!)
Sure, but by my argument, that would just hurt me. I'd get reminded of MoR early when I would just be looking at my email.

Ch. 33-34 Author's Note: "It is a general law of MoR that no one is ever holding the Idiot Ball."

We know (from Ch. 42) that Sirius is in Azkaban. Canon!Sirius was thrown in without a trial, and without having been administered veritaserum; however, this would seem to require the Ministry and Dumbledore to both be holding the Idiot Ball, violating the above rule. Alternately, Sirius could have been obviated personally by Voldemort, prior to his death (I assume that an obviation subtle enough to escape notice would require Voldemort), but this stri... (read more)

This is what Eliezer has already done (in the early chapters). If Eliezer switched it up and made Sirius not the traitor it would undermine two of Eliezer's morals: "Conspiracy Theories, paranoia and schizophrenia" and "Courage isn't about being too awesome to need to be scared, it's about doing stuff even when you do have reason to be scared".
In canon, it was precisely Peter's fear (greater than that of his friends) which led him to join Voldemort. So while I wouldn't like to see Sirius made into a bad guy (since I side with wrongfully convicted prisoners and don't want them to turn out to be guilty after all), it would be a powerful statement in favour of the power to overcome one's fears if Peter stayed a good guy.
It would also be a powerful lesson if Peter was able to see when his loyalty to a certain 'side' was irrational and make a considered choice to do the action that best allowed him to achieve his own goals. But that is exactly the wrong kind of signal for Eliezer to convey! ;)
That would be a Family-Unfriendly Aesop [] (TVTropes). As far as the methods of decision-theoretic rationality go, whatever Peter ultimately wants is OK and not for us to judge; we just consider how he should best go about achieving his goals. But MoR is not just a lesson book in rationality, and I'm happy for works of fiction to give absolute moral lessons too (at least if I agree with them ^_^).
Sorry, am I supposed to warn people? Done.
I don't know about supposed to but I like to and tend to appreciate it when others do. It reminds me to consider the tendency for humans to be whisked away into an endless depth first search of popular culture references.
This is just why I would be shocked if the 'Sirius bad' idea was reversed. The lessons the side plot has already conveyed are solid!
Funny, I've got the opposite impression -- that Eliezer was setting up to use Sirius' story as an example of how the obvious explanation is not always right and how reality is allowed to be weird and present you with evidence leading to wrong conclusions. What puzzles me more is how Eliezer will explain the fact that Bill Weasley randomly guessed about Pettigrew and the others being animagi? That problem doesn't go away regardless of whether Sirius was the traitor or not. Did he really travel back in time? Schizophrenic wizards temporarily become seers? Maybe it's another emergent phenomenon?
Are we sure that, in MoR, they were?
I'm assuming that Eliezer makes major changes to canon only when it is neccessary to make the story work and that he will exploit resultant opportunities to mock canon, other fanfiction, conspiracy theories etc. but not go out of his way to create them. Yeah, that's a big assumption. But also, there were hints. Lupin is poor so he is still a werewolf. When discussing the Weasleys' family rat story, Harry mentioned rumors that "Black deliberately tried to get a student killed during his time at Hogwarts". In canon, Black tried to trick Snape into following Lupin when the latter was about to turn during a full moon. So they knew. They still made the map (it was featured in one of the chapters, right?). Well, they didn't have to be animagi to do that, but come on, you can't take away a major aspect of their friendship and have everything else turn out exactly the same (except the teenage gay romance thing).
As I recall, In MoR, the Marauder's Map is an ancient artifact that's starting to break down a bit, so "Messers Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, and Prongs" are not Lupin, Sirius, Peter, and James Potter under animagus-based nicknames. Unless Fred and George are wrong about the Map's origins, though being the master pranksters of the MoRniverse (and canon, for that matter) it seems likely that their judgment would be sound in this case. So, evidence that MoR!Pettigrew, et. al. are not necessarily animagi.
I interpreted it that the Messrs put their names on the front of this ancient artefact. From Chapter 25: By the way, this reminds me that the Twins seem to have found a couple of errors on the map: (That's why they might have shown it to Dumbledore, to get it fixed.) In canon, there are important (and only apparent) errors on the map in Book 3, showing Peter Pettigrew and Bartemius Crouch. What are they showing now?
Indeed, there has some skepticism about this expressed in the reviews
That's what I assumed that the secret in Chapter 42 was, until it wasn't.
I'd like to see that. Just because I really didn't like it when Bill got messed over like that.
Sometimes the world is just cruel for no reason.
I didn't mean to suggest that it was unrealistic. It is a far more likely interpretation of events and a rather clever observation. I just didn't like it. It make me sad. :)
I know. But I thought Eliezer may have been trying to make a deliberate point, and I wanted to draw it out.

Chapter 41 (So spoiler alert and chapter notification.)

(Fun chapter and all... go Neville! But...)

Harry is a total wuss. What on earth is he doing going about with grotesque supplication and begging for forgiveness?

  • Hermione explicitly ordered Draco to let her go.
  • Hermione was juiced on feather-fall and would fall gracefully down. The main reason wizards wouldn't jump down from heights with feather-fall is because it would be too boring. It gets interesting when you don't have feather fall and risk crashing to the ground because a beater knocked you uncon
... (read more)
Yes, but using feather-fall costs her Quirrell points! That's why she's upset. Or at least, that's one hypothesis that explain the facts. Harry's apology is unnecessary grovelly otherwise.
Eh, even if Quirrel points were the problem, Harry's apology is still unnecessarily grovelly.
I would go as far as to say the grovelling is worse if the Quirrell points were the problem. * If the falling from the building was what Harry was worried about then that would just suggest that Harry is terrible at risk assessment and lacks mature boundaries (ie. considers Draco dropping Hermione at her command after both enemies chose to got out on the ledge his responsibility not hers). But once those errors in reasoning are accepted then some serious remorse would seem called for. The main problem with the apology would be that emphasised begging for approval above expressing sincere remorse. * If the only issue was Quirrell points then even devoid of the approval seeking the level of remorse would be absurd.
It's a great point and should get mentioned in the text. Even if it's only a minor reason for Hermione's annoyance, it would tie in nicely with the earlier scene of Hermione having trouble knocking on Quirrell's door.
Excellent. That is the desirable outcome. If enemies unite against you should sabotage their Quirrell points wherever convenient. "So Granger, how about next time you want something from me you ask nicely for me to participate before you unite with Malfoy?"
They tried that, didn't they? All three generals went to Quirrell together to ask for no more traitors. Harry defected.
I'm assuming that Harry had a background plan-- to get Draco and Hermione to cooperate, and to feel as though they are on each others' side on a gut level. Even though the "drop me" scene is cute, I'm not convinced it's plausible behavior for Draco. I bet he hasn't had the Anglo/muggle training about not hurting girls, and learning that blood purity isn't true may not have affected his reflexes. Harry's apology may be strategic. Or he may still be learning to navigate between empathy and rationality. Or (not an attractive hypothesis) tropes may be taking over some of the story. ETA: Perhaps that should be empathy-signaling rather than just empathy.

I bet he hasn't had the Anglo/muggle training about not hurting girls

So Eliezer fell prey to counterfactual muggling while writing that part?

8Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Er, who says Draco's grabbing Hermione because she's a girl? He's grabbing her because she's falling off the roof.
Fair point. I jumped to a conclusion. On the other hand, it isn't dangerous for her to fall. Draco grew up in the wizarding world. I'd expect him to have a gut-level trust in the potion. Or is Hermione showing excessive trust in the potion because it's labeled as working a certain way, while Draco has more experience with magic that doesn't quite work?
"I bet he hasn't had the Anglo/muggle training about not hurting girls" I agree. The "don't hurt females" meme and the idea of chivalry arise from the fact that men are physically stronger than women. But in the magical world, physical strength hardly matters in comparison to magical ability, which seems to be evenly distributed between the sexes. A witch would feel angry, or perhaps just confused, at being treated like porcelain. Granted, Hermione and Harry come from the muggle world, but Draco doesn't, and he shouldn't behave like he does.
Didn't it arise, at least partially, because power and legal rights belonged to men (by decree of Heaven) and therefore it was seen as the duty of men to protect women, as an item under the general heading of protecting the weak? What did chivalry (ed: fixed) look like in cultures other than Medieval Europe?
You mean chivalry? Wikipedia says [] that the European Christians actually got it from Muslims, whose version was more extreme. This probably includes the doctrine of courtly love []), which is the source of chivalrous ideals on the treatment of women. In contrast, one website says [] the ideal wife of a Japanese samurai would also be a strong person, so perhaps bushido took the opposite attitude. (Internet searches on this turn up too much modern stuff for me to get any good idea.)
Yes, my typo; fixed.
First you write Then you write I think that you've answered your question.
And, in so doing reinforced the core thesis: Harry!Ch41 is a wuss. The overprotective thing can work, particularly when produces displays of dominance or heroism (eg. Christmas Eve dinner) but pointless supplication is the opposite of what he wants to be doing. It totally breaks the flow of the story for me. If I am reading along empathising with the main character and he pulls stunts like this I feel a huge surge of revulsion. This is particularly the case if it seems like the behaviour is presented as a good moral that gives good results rather than "look at the naive character act like a git and then realise he needs to wise up!"
Sure, I agree with that. But I don't agree with this: It finally made Harry seem like a real person to me again. I like seeing how MoR!Harry (and MoR!everybody) differs from canon, but sometimes he's a little too perfect. I expect that to happen in a later chapter. Surely EY doesn't think that Harry is acting sensibly? That would be a horror! (Unless Harry has some really devious plot that I don't anticipate, of course.)
That's just eh experience I got from chapter 36 (visiting the Grangers), my favourite chapter thus far. I think that's the thing for me. I actually aren't so sure. Some of the other foolish things Harry has done MoR!Author seems to be trying to convey as sensible decisions. For example... the other apology Harry has made to Hermione. When Hermione had panicked and cast finate incantatem on their transfiguration work. The apology itself was reasonable but it seemed like both Harry and MoR!Author were trying to convey that casting finate was a sane thing to do. Not, for example, isolating the room and running to fetch McGonagal. Being responsible doesn't mean turning off your brain at the first sign of danger! ETA: The latest chapter was interesting. Less nauseating but more bizarre. Not.
H'm, you may be right. Altough it may yet be accepted that Harry was overreacting. Anyway, it leads to a nice introduction to Remus! (Edit: add ‘although’ in first line, which is really what I meant all along.)
Also, I don't think fire is prohibited, so did Harry warn everyone that they shouldn't try eliminating his bungee cords by burning them? Unsurprising, and I don't see it as a problem. Come on - Harry clearly manipulated that situation and needed to lose to make it work. Forcing Draco and Hermione to work together would not have worked nearly as well if they hadn't actually beaten them. Now Hermione doesn't think Draco is evil and irredeemable (especially since he tried to save her), and Draco was actually protecting a mudblood and then shut up and multiplied [] in order to win. Wouldn't you like to know? I can think of three main categories of reasons: 1. Harry has a complicated plot that this hinges on, possibly just honestly needing Hermione to forgive him so she'll work with him. 2. Harry is actually in love (or something similar) with Hermione so is acting the part 3. Harry is Rand al'Thor ['Thor].
I'm such a wrong person, I read that as "Draco made friends with a mudblood and then went forth and multiplied in order to win".
In light of the fanfic's famed/notorious length, this presents some disturbing implications...
Haha, I was just going to post the "Harry is Rand al'Thor" theory myself. Clearly the best explanation.
Followed closely by "Harry is Richard Rahl". :)
Unlike Rand al'Thor, though, Richard Rahl would definitely hit a girl.
If Harry is actually in love with Hermione, is apologizing his best move? Would he do better to show more respect for her intelligence? Or is he apologizing for something other than setting things up so that it was likely that she'd be dropped?
The 'love' hypothesis was mostly motivated as an explanation in the case that Harry is not making his best move. I'm pretty sure he's apologizing for a whole package of evil regardless of the dropping. I doubt Harry planned that that particular contingency would happen, and so I would also believe that he's genuinely remorseful that she actually fell.
I was bringing in Hermione's point of view as a possibly interesting part of the situation.
There is a genuinely interesting question here. I know I personally are far less likely to take the advice of or learn lessons from wusses. I am reasonably confident I am not generalising from one example here but for your part does Harry's wussiness have any bearing on how much you expect your own behaviour to be influenced by Harry's example in the MoR parables? This is to what I referred when I said "some arbitrary social agenda" and that I could see as many reasons to orchestrate winning as losing. Deliberately losing isn't something that I find distasteful. In fact it would be impressive, a rare instance of Harry not doing something motivated primarily by his ego. (Did I say that already? Probably. It sounds like something I would say.) Brilliant. And that is one of the reasons (apart from excessive braid tugging) that I stopped reading the Wheel of Time series. And this is despite the fact that the very name "Wedrifid" is from the character I created on the Wheel of Time mud who spent months of real time joining the Gaidin and eventually becoming a ridiculously powerful Warder. That was a lot of fun. All that completely useless status I acquired in an utterly irrelevant social hierarchy! I still use the name 'Wedrifid' in online forums because the Wedrifid persona is more resilient and has a personality that is better adapted to the online discussion context. The "Cameron Taylor" identity works better with, you know, actual flesh and blood people.
Do you have a binary wuss or not a wuss model? If Harry makes himself unduly subordinate to Hermione, does that eliminate the effects of him taking on Dumbledore in regards to Snape?
No, but neither is it univariate. As with many words 'wuss' means rather a lot of different things depending on the context. Let's leave the word 'wuss' aside for the moment, to look at the implications of those scenarios has on Harry's credibility. I'll also note that subordination isn't always wussy. Grand Viziers are subordinate and far from wussy. In fact, I just got back from playing board games - something that I am extremely good at and in which I make extensive use of subordination to further my goals. Humans are heavily biased towards dominance and I find that a useful trait to exploit. No, neither subordination nor apologies are something that are intrinsically 'wussy'. But back to the question: * When Harry takes on Dumbledore he shows that he is clever, somewhat ruthless, and erring on the side of being 'brittle' rather than 'soft' in social terms. It makes me more likely to trust him as a source of effective social strategies and schemes but not necessarily good judgement on when to use them. * Harry's grovelling shows that he is poor at risk assessment, lacks mature boundaries, is somewhat desperate for approval and who is completely incompetent at achieving social objectives. This last part is particularly important. A lot of Harry's 'genius scheming' is actually related to Harry trying to achieve social goals. Trying to turn Draco, orchestrating alliances between generals, giving lessons on how to work with his team, developing Neville, etc. Yet the Harry from the chapter in question shouldn't be expected to have competence in any of those things.
Being incompetent at achieving social objectives seems like a good reason for using 'genius scheming' instead of standard methods. The fact that he does this is one of the reasons that I sympathize with him as a character.
Fixed for you.
It does seem to happen that way sometimes, doesn't it? But in my observation the only cases where marinating in testosterone makes people worse in the areas of grovelling, supplication, unnecessary apologies and approval seeking are in people who refuse to update based on evidence. We can assume that unlike many nerds Harry is able to make observations from the environment and use them to realise that his strategy doesn't work and go ahead and create a better model of human behaviour and a better strategy. In guys who are good at instinctive instrumental rationality will tend to be prompted by testosterone to, as they say, 'grow a pair'. Simply because experience tells them that the other options just don't work.
The feather-fall potions were protection against a case that wasn't supposed to happen. Harry doesn't take precautions so that he's licensed to need them, he takes precautions so that people don't get hurt. Hermione falling wasn't supposed to happen -- he endangered her for the sake of a game. He raised the stakes farther than they were supposed to go, and it was someone else who could have gotten hurt.
I don't think Harry is romantically interested in Hermione, he still thinks kissing is icky, etc. I figured Harry gave Draco and Hermione the potion because he wanted them to triumph over him together, but in a really dramatic challenging way. If their triumph was hard-fought and dramatic they would be more likely to bond over it. Once Draco was friends with a muggleborn, he would be forever lost to the blood-purists, and Harry would have one a great victory. That is what Harry cares about the most. He obviously is willing to lose to let it happen because he engineered the Dramione alliance from the beginning.
Really? I thought those two things were entirely compatible. And rather cute. :)

New chapter alert

New chapter alerts are a good idea but perhaps include a chapter number: Since the last five chapters have been progressively added very recently and discussion of some of them has already begun [] an unspecified alert leaves some of us half hopeful for yet another addition! Rowliezer knows we don't want false hope [] !


Thank You.

Eliezer's been working on the Summit recently, and's probably been a bit busy. Hopefully now the Summit is over there'll be more.

Theory: Quirrelmort is helping Harry not (just) to become his pawn, or to rule in his stead, or to get him to adopt Voldermort's value system, but simply/also because Harry is Voldermort's Horcrux, and Voldermort wants his Horcrux to survive.

Harry wins. At least, I am presuming he is actively trying to weaken the Draco/Lucious alliance and enforce cooperation between Draco and Hermione. Losing a game to achieve that would perhaps be the first example of Harry doing something that wasn't motivated by his ego.

Now, I don't recall, is there any tangible motivation for the generals to keep winning these games now that the wish has been decided?

They do still win Quirrell points, which translate to House points among other things. (Harry probably doesn't care about House points, especially with Hermione's wish, but he does care about impressing Quirrell.)

"Tell me, Harry, what evil could you accomplish if a Dementor were allowed onto the grounds of Hogwarts?" ... "Gur Qrzragbe vf n qvfgenpgvba," Harry said.

I spotted this one right away because it matched a certain pattern of thought that I use relatively often. Rirel gvzr V'z qevivat va n gvtug fcbg naq gelvat gb nibvq uvggvat fbzrguvat ynetr naq fnyvrag, V znxr fher gb nfx zlfrys: Nz V cnlvat fb zhpu nggragvba gb gur ovt guvat gung gurer fbzrguvat ryfr gb juvpu V'z abg cnlvat fhssvpvrag nggragvba?

I just finished reading chapter 36 and loved every word. Not taxing rational complexities but still incisive. My favourite part was "The dining room table was much longer than six people - er, four people and two children". Offhand and innocent sounding but still utterly brutal commentary!

Ok, that was a blatant lie. My favourite part was Harry and Hermione being such an utterly adorable couple. Aside from the signs of unacknowledged romance they were both acting so much more human than they ever had before.

But now I must drag myself away and save... (read more)

And 37 was basically... nothing. At least nothing that wasn't a slightly wordier version of the paragraph that it expanded upon. Ok. It says 'interlude'. Fair enough.

Depending on the soldiers' motivations, would it make sense for them to secretly adopt/publicly declare allegiance to 'the side that is going to win' ?

Would it make sense for one of the general's (probably Harry) to encourage their soldiers to adopt/declare this?

At this point, wouldn't it be stupid for draco/hermione to not coordinate their use of spies against harry? It only makes sense for them to agree to not use spies against each other.

"But your comprehension of me, I fear, is sorely lacking."

I agree with Dumbledore, and I hope that Eliezer does too. (Not that I agree with Dumbledore in everything, far from it, just this one line.)

On second thought, it seems clear that Eliezer must agree with this line. Because otherwise he could not have made it so obvious to me that Qhzoyrqber unf jnagrq gb qvr sbe fbzr gvzr abj ohg unf ersenvarq bhg bs pbaprea sbe bguref, although Harry doesn't understand this.

"There is no justice in the laws of Nature [...]. The universe is neit

... (read more)
I'd assume that whatever Eliezer thinks about this story's universe counts as true within it. But yeah, this does sound like an instance where Dumbledore is supposed to be at least partly correct... though Harry certainly has some points about Dumbledore's comprehension of himself, too.
I wouldn't, but this disagreement may just come down to the attitude that one takes to works of fiction. (I agree with the rest of what you say.)
Eliezer seems not to have taken that attitude toward what Rowling thinks about her story's universe: in particular, though JKR clearly believes her characters have immortal souls that go to an afterlife, EY decided that canon-available evidence didn't support that conclusion.
Yes, exactly. I like the treatment of souls. I have to review (as someone else remarked) Harry's conversation with Dumbledore in the train station in his head, but if that passes, then he's right; the evidence of an afterlife is flimsy. I'm a little unsure what to think about ghosts. Is this the thing that he states in the Author's Notes that he had to change? Because it seems to me that ghosts are more than memories; they have complicated interactions with people. (Portraits, on the other hand, have very simple personalities; I can totally buy that they are just memories.)
I don't think portraits necessarily have simple personalities. They're portrayed as sort of cartoonish in canon, but in MoR they seem to be more like humans with long-term anterograde amnesia. I had assumed that ghosts, were the same way, but I realize that's not at all consistent with canon. They seem to be able to form memories, but not to mature emotionally, as if some aspects of their mind were read-only and others were not. From a certain perspective, the distinction might be taken to fall roughly along code/data lines... which has strange implications for how ghosts are formed if true. But, if portraits are different from in canon, maybe ghosts are too.
Dang, now I can't remember where portraits appear in MoR. Ghosts don't really, do they? Have we ever actually gotten conversation from a ghost?
When Harry play's the game, he is given a clue by means of a message passed on through a series of portraits.
Also, they interview portraits to gather genealogical data and lists of old magical creatures.

Just wanted to share some Milk ads I found that reminded me of your fanfic. Just switch the girl's glasses to the boy and you have Harry and Hermione. :P

Because intelligent children are adowwable. Harry would be furious.
Is it just me, or is that boy reading the book upside down?
No, he's so smart that he's reading it in German, where the spines go the other way.

Chapters 33-34: why didn't Draco and Hermione institute a policy of "traitors don't get to fight in the next battle" after the first battle with traitors? Why didn't Quirrell or Harry notice that all Muggle armies use top-down dictatorial control and this isn't something special or scary? Why did Hat-and-Cloak bother talking to Zabini before Obliviating him?

Can they do that? If I were a student in a class, I have about as much authority to stop a fellow student from taking a test as I do to command the tide to retreat. Armies are scary. When do humans die in such numbers and such horrifying ways as when armies come visiting? Entertainment, information, possible reactions.
Sure they can. As a last resort, they could execute traitors from the last battle at the beginning of the next one. So? Quirrell is talking about how to organize resistance to the next Dark Lord. Duh, obviously it should be organized as an army. Harry's protests about fascists and such are stupid, instead he should be proposing smart things that modern Muggle armies do. And Quirrell even calls his teams "armies"! What?
This is both a significant cost to the general and a motivation for traitors to continue defecting and recruit further traitors. As a general I would allow for the loss of two soldiers to friendly fire (-2 points, 2 less combatants) for each traitor (that doesn't submit willingly to execution). The victims do get to defend themselves. In addition the 'execution' civil-unrest at the start of the battle could constitute a non-trivial distraction in the battle. It makes a difference that the soldiers have little to lose but pride but the generals quite a lot more.

Ch. 34:

Presumably, by Occam's Razor of Fiction (or whatever the appropriate TVTrope is), Mr. Hat-n-Cloak = Santa Claus?

I was betting Mr. Hat-n-Cloak = Quirelmort. (Remember that after the little scene Harry witnessed, he had to rush off. Perhaps to catch up and meet with Zambini? And the ultimate purpose of this was to arrange for Harry to further mistrust Dumbledore? At least, that was my very first thought, although now I'm thinking there were probably easier ways to accomplish that.)

Snape also seems like a wildcard possibility here - Zabini suspects him, anyway. (OTOH, Quirrell knew Zabini was a quadruple agent, which could have intrigued him enough to want to see if he could be a quintuple...)
It might also be possible that even Eliezer hasn't decided who Mr. Hat-n-Cloak is yet--as he's mentioned previously, sometimes his fiction "writes itself." Thus, I suspect that Eliezer will not decide the character's identity until he advances the story a little more.