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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103

I agree that being fair is probably not at the top of Quirrell's priority list, and that his grades are meant to give a message to students. However, he is rational, and it still doesn't answer my question about the criteria he is basing his grades/signals on.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103

Not that it matters, but I don't really understand Quirrell's grading criteria. Is Neville's score 'outstanding' because he alone made the sensible move of escaping to safety of his home from life-threatening dangers of Hogwarts and Hermione's grade low because she failed the 'ultimate' test? If so, does Harry's surivival to-date 'exceed' Quirrell's expectations?

Alternatively, is Neville's score a reflection of his rate of improvement over the term, which admittedly was outstanding, relative to Harry's (or Hermione's)?

Perhaps, grades other than OWL's and NEWT's do not matter academically, so Quirrell's grading is purely subjective/random?

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102
  • I too agree that Quirrel is H&C with the highest probability. However, I would not assign zero probability to Sirius Black either, hence I wrote he was a candidate, not the candidate for H&C.

  • I think it has already been implied in the text several times that the Philosopher's Stone is in fact still in Hogwarts. Granted, it may not be behind those particular traps on the third floor.

But Master Flamel has said - that even he can no longer keep safe the Stone - that he believes Voldemort has means of finding it wherever it is hidden - and that he does not consent for it to be guarded anywhere but Hogwarts. Minerva, I am sorry, but it must be done - must! 

  • The above quote makes me think of what is so special about Hogwarts that it alone can protect the Stone. It is not likely to be merely presence of Dumbledore (or he could easily be carrying it with him everywhere he goes). Something unique about Hogwarts allows it to safeguard the Stone even from Voldemort who supposedly can always divine its whereabouts. My working hypothesis is again that Hogwarts is a jumble of multiple versions of itself from different timelines/realities. If this hypothesis is true, then the Chamber of Secrets is hidden in time, so a version of it with a live snake may still exist.

  • Somewhat related to my other post, I am not exactly sure how prophecies are supposed to work. Yes, I know that they are supposed to "relieve pressure" built in the time continuum but to me they sound like information traveling more than 6 hours into the past. Sounds like the centaur accurately prophesied events 10+ years into the future! The only reason why Dumbledore would take active role in trying to bring the prophecy to fruition by manipulating Lily is if he himself was the sender of the message or somehow knows that failing to act in this particular way will result in a worse outcome than the 'end of the world'. In short, I'd say this particular Chekhov gun still has plenty of unused ammo.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102

While I agree that Dyson spheres are a possible interpretation, the wording of the prophecy doesn't make them a likely candidate:


From the vantage point of view of an observer on Earth, a Dyson sphere would likely appear to extinguish stars outside it (assuming we are talking about a version that is impermeable to light from either side). Tearing apart doesn't sound like a probable description. Note that the prophecy talks of the end of the world, which again can be better explained by the end of the timeline/reality hypothesis rather than a Dyson sphere

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102

Has anyone compiled a list of Chekhov's guns that haven't been fired yet in the story so far? Off the top of my head, I have:

  • Bacon's diary
  • Bellatrix Black
  • Sirius Black (incidentally a candidate for the Cloak and Hat, who possibly knows limitations of the Marauders' map)
  • Traps on the third floor
  • Significance of Dumbledore writing in Lily Potter's potion's book
  • Lesath Lestrange
  • Harry's 'shopping list' given to Gred and Forge
  • The missed glint in the Godric's Hollow graveyard
  • Chamber of Secrets / Salazar's snake?
  • Secrets of spell creation (which Quirrel is so keen on keeping away from Harry)

Anything else?

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102

Harry himself appears to be pretty firmly set against that...

The quote by Harry that you provide comes from very early in the story, before he resolved to become the next "Dark Lord" (in the sense of someone willing to defy the tyranny of majority if necessary) and before he resolved to undo Hermione's death doing whatever it takes.

More generally, my sense is that HPMOR Harry is partial to utilitarian logic (recall his qualms related to the possibility of sentient grass). Even if his worldview hadn't evolved as much as it did since the beginning of the story, I would not rule out him going against his feelings expressed in the quote if he believed the net welfare gain to humanity warranted it.

On a slightly related note, I always found the Comed-Tea horribly overpowered. Not only does the soda drink look forward in time (anticipating choke-worthy events in advance) but also is powerful enough to affect the mind of the drinker to make him/her feel the urge to drink it. The programming/magic behind the drink's creation seems absurdly advanced for the end purpose used. Merlin's spell being able to affect all wizards of all time or the very existence of time travel - all these seem to narrow down significantly the set of possible physical realities as imagined by Eliezer, perhaps even his own timeless physics, but that's just pure speculation on my part as I am in no way an expert in physics.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102


  • The prophesied 'end of the world' will involve meddling with Time.

Some semi-random observations/conjectures supporting the hypothesis:

  • The 6-hour information transfer limit is tied to the Interdict of Merlin. A 6-hour timeframe seems rather arbitrary in terms of describing a purely natural constraint of the underlying physical reality. It makes perfect sense, on the other hand, as a human-designed complementary measure of enforcing the Interdict as otherwise wizards would be traveling back in time to learn from old masters before their deaths, thereby negating the Interdict.

  • The whole plot generally revolves around paradoxes and uses of Time. Atlantis is supposedly 'erased from Time' (not destroyed). Hogwarts castle's random changes have time patterns (certain years and days in the week). References to students getting lost and coming back as old men or going higher than the castle's highest level (implying shifting passageways transporting people into Hogwarts castles in some alternative times/realities?).

  • Repeated allusions to Harry destroying stars is unlikely to be referring to a literal physical annihilation of all visible stars. I would place a much higher probability on the possibility that the current time/reality in which Hermione is irrevocably dead will be destroyed as a result of Harry deciding to change the fact.

  • What spells are most likely to be declared so dangerous to warrant the Interdict? No magic (aside from Time travel), no matter how destructive, comes even close in my mind to justify Merlin sacrificing himself to impose this rather oppressive restriction that limits indirect information exchange of ALL wizards in ALL of time, present AND future!

  • The first time we hear Quirrelmort's inner monologue is when we learn that he is honestly afraid of what Harry will do. I cannot think realistically what Harry can do to threaten his 'modified' interstellar probe at present time unless he can prevent it being modified (horcruxed?) to start with, i.e. go back in time.

  • Time paradoxes are ruled out. Why? Because reality is somehow ensuring consistency? But then, how could Atlantis 'erase' itself from Time? I assign much higher probability that this restriction is designed as part of the Interdict again rather than a naturally occurring phenomenon.


Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 24, chapter 95

For this post, I meant premise of my analysis. More generally, my priors tell me that is the author's viewpoint of the world, though I wouldn't presume to guess.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 24, chapter 95

It is still unclear how horcruxes would fit into the HPMOR universe given the premise that souls do not exist. Here are some thoughts and conjectures revolving around the postulate that horcruxes are complete memory/personality backups:

  1. To recreate one's identity, there has to be more than just replication of memories. There also has to be a way to replicate the 'software' that governs our thought processes. Removing the limitations and shortcuts that our physical brain has in place would undoubtedly remove lots of mental biases (making us hyper-rational) but also raise the question of whether the resulting entity will really be 'us' or just well approximated copies of us (a well explored topic in the transcendent pony fic).

  2. The very possibility of possession (as evidenced in the zombie Quirrell) gives evidence in favor of the possibility to project one's mind outside one's original body and still be able to retain the capacity to not only have semblance of life (a la magical portraits and ghosts), but to also be able to learn new information and retain it (i.e. grow) and interact meaningfully with the environment.

  3. Assuming away the whole issue of whether one's identity can be virtually encapsulated independent of our biological hardware, this would require careful copy control (lest there be multiple versions of you running around, raising the question of which one is the 'real' you, explored comedically in one of robst's fanfics). Is Harry an incomplete horcrux, retaining Voldemort's post-transcendent software (hyper-rationality), but not his memories, i.e. a failure of copy control? (He clearly didn't inherit his rationality from biological parents?)

  4. Magic in potterverse directly interacts with mind. So magic is capable of storing information, including memories, software, etc?

Since Voldemort has already gone through the process, he already knows what's involved.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7

My thought is that wizards are not confined to projectile weapons. Armor would be next to useless if the offensive magic, for example, is fire based or involves water or gravity manipulation. Moreover, an armored helmet significantly constrains both visibility and mobility, which may make the wearer more vulnerable.

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