All of Diadem's Comments + Replies

Your claim was that child abuse and trauma have barely any influence on adult life. This is clearly an extraordinary claim, that requires evidence to be taken seriously.

Your evidence are three quotations, two of which only contain more links, and the third is about the heritability of divorce, which has nothing to do with your claim.

So in other words you have given zero evidence for your claim. Maybe there is some evidence to be found in one of the many citations you gave, but without knowing which one or what to look for it would take many hours to invest... (read more)

There have been significant longitudinal studies that comprehensively measure many dimensions of well-being over an amazingly long time-frame and these also support this claim. A good book on these studies and what we might learn from isAging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Study of Adult Development by George E. Vaillant []. Otherwise I wouldn't dismiss claims from 'What we can change and what we can't' easily just because not enough refs are quoted. Read for yourself. Also you migth want to look at lukeprogs []
To be exact, the claim from the book is except for severe PTSD, there is little influence, and in case of PTSD the healing works the same way for adults as for children (and possibly slightly better in children) - so "childhood" trauma is not in any way "special" compared to adult traumas. As for evidence, why don't you just go and read the book itself? Reading that chapter is on the order of 20 minutes of easy reading. Sorry, but I have better things to do than repeat what is already written elsewhere.

There's nothing rational about refusing to believe data you don't like, and linking Eliezer doesn't change that.

It's good to have an absurdity filter. You can't investigate every claim on the internet in great detail, so dismissing the more unbelievable ones out of hand is not a bad strategy. But you need some kind of reason. Either a known bias or untrustworthiness of the author, or knowledge that at least some of the claims made are false. Assuming you don't have some personal beef with the author, I don't see how you can dismiss this post out of hand. T... (read more)

Perhaps it might be more productive to ask oath why they find the numbers unbelievable? In a culture where spanking is regarded as normal and (say) starving your child or making them have sex with you is regarded as appalling, there is a very important difference between spanking and those more dramatic kinds of child abuse: that it's widely regarded as acceptable. That doesn't stop it harming the children it's done to, but it makes a big difference to (for instance) what the fact that someone does it tells you about them.
No, if you can be right about numbers not adding up without being able to point to an explicit reason. It has been shown often that homeopathy works and that telepathy works. That doesn't mean it makes sense to believe that it works. I'm not aware of randomized controlled trials for occasional spanking and it's likely one of those shared enviroment effects where we know from twin-studies that they don't have much effect.

The US federal budget is 3.7 trillion. The president probably can't meaningfully affect the spending of most of that, but his impact is still significant. If I had to ballpark it I'd say a trillion over 4 years seems likely. Plus his long term effect on the nation through laws and regulations.

How many Americans vote? About a hundred million? So the average value of a vote is in the area of $10,000. That is a lot of money. Sure it is much less if you live outside a swingstate, but not by a factor 100k.

Even if your non-swingstate vote was meaningless there i... (read more)

That's a meaningless phrase. You want to buy my vote for $10,000? No? Who is going to buy it, then? Not to mention that when you're calculating "affecting spending" you need to look not at the total number, but at the marginal difference between Hillary and Trump plus weight that difference by your values. In which way is it a rational solution if you're the only one doing that?
But this is a total budget spending per voter, not a difference between your income under hypothetical scenarios where each of the candidates win.
Only if you think your solution also affects or chooses for the other players. It's not the rational unilateral solution if you believe the other players will defect anyway, as they usually do.
I agree with the general approach here but not with the details. It may well be true that the president can affect how $1T is spent over four years. But that doesn't mean that the difference between one president and another is $1T over four years. (I mean, it could. For instance, if that $1T is spent on munitions that get used destructively in a war whose other net consequences are negative. But most of the controversial things federal money gets spent on are of some value either way.)

Very droll.

But define winning. In many situations, finding the truth is winning.

For example take global warming. Maybe I'm lobbyist for big oil and for me winning means making sure no one takes global warming seriously. But even then knowing the facts is still in my interest. So if I'm amongst fellow lobbyists who I trust it is in my interest to take an open, truth seeking approach. This will help me identify the strong and weak points in my opponents' arguments. It will help in formulating distractionary strategies. Etc. I will just have to make sure no one records the meeting and then leaks it.

I think that's somewhat missing the point of a lot of advice like that though. Often advice in the form of proverbs or popular quotes is not meant to be taken literally. It's meant to offer you a new angle from which to look at the problem.

Just because two quotes contradict each other, doesn't mean they can't both be good advice. If you think someone is being too rash, quoting a proverb like "discretion is the better part of valour" can be good advice. But if you think they are being too cautious, the opposite ("nothing ventured, nothing gained") can also be good advice.

Most advice is context dependent.

This is a (slight paraphrase of a) quote from a character who is offering a rationalization for cowardice. It wasn't intended as a positive thing in the original work.
I agree that context changes the effectiveness of the advice. My disapproval stems from the watering down of advice to blanket generalities. Vague enough that everyone might glean something from it, but the lack of specifics can turn it into a casual, flippant throw-away of words in times where more purposeful advice serves better.
Yes, and people tend to hold proverbs in higher esteem than advice that people formulate in their own words. People expect the latter to be backed up by a lot of good arguments before they take it seriously.

Sure, cryonics would help. But it wouldn't be more than a drop in the ocean. If QI is true, and cryonics is theoretically possible, then 500 years from now there'll be 3 kinds of universes: 1) Universes where I'm dead, either because cryonics didn't pan out (perhaps society collapsed), or because for some reason I wasn't revived. 2) Universes where I'm alive thanks to cryonics and 3) Universes where I'm alive due to quantum fluctuations 'miraculously' keeping me alive.

Clearly the measure of the 3rd kind of universe will be very very small compared to the o... (read more)

Why do you think that it's unlikely?
Update: There are many ways how we could survive the end of the universe (see my map), so the endless emptiness is not necessary option. []
While I understand your concerns, I think that during next trillion years you will be able to find the ways to solve the problem, and I even able to suggest some of the solutions now. A trillion years from now you will be very powerful AI which also knows for sure that QI works. 1. The simplest solution is circle time. In in you are immortal, but your experience are repeatings. If they are pleasant, there will be no sufferings. More complex forms of time are also possible, so the "linear time trap" is just a result of our lack of imagination. Circular time probably result naturally from QI, because any human has non zero probability to transform in any other human, so you will circle in random patterns the space of all possible minds. (It also solves identity problem by the way - everybody are identical, but with different time for transformation.) 2. You could edit your brain in the way that it would enjoy empty eternity, so no sufferings. Anyway you may lost part of your long-term memory, so you may don't know your real age. And in most QI branches it will happen naturally. 3. Even if suffering (not very strong and painful) is real after trillion years from now, it may be good deal to agree on QI now, because of discounting effect. I prefer to live trillion years than to die in strong suffering in next 20. 4. Maybe the strong AI will prove that it is able to create fun quicker than use this fun, so it will always has something to do, no matter how much linear time has gone. It also may create many levels avatar worlds (simulations) where avatars will not remember their real age (and we are probably inside such simulation). I spent 25 years to come to these ideas (from the summer 1990 than I get the idea of QI) so in next trillion years I will be able to get better ideas I hope.

The problem with Quantum Immortality is that it is a pretty horrible scenario. That's not an argument against it being true of course, but it's an argument for hoping it's not true.

Let's assume QI is true. If I walk under a bus tomorrow, I won't experience universes where I die, so I'll only experience miraculously surviving the accident. That sounds good.

But here's where the nightmare starts. Dying is not a binary process. There'll be many more universes where I survive with serious injuries then universes where I survive without injury. Eventually I'll g... (read more)

3mako yass7y
We believe we may have found a solution to degenerate QI, via simulationism under acausal trade [] . The basic gist of it is that continuations of the mind-pattern after naturally lethal events could be overwhelminly more frequent under benevolent simulationism than continuations arising from improbable quantum physical outcomes, and, if many of the agents in the multiverse operate under an introspective decision theory, pact-simulist continuations already are overwhelmingly more frequent.
In its natural form QI is bad, but if we add cryonics, they will help each other. If you go under the bus you now have three outcomes: you die, you are cryopreserved and lately resurrected and you are badly injured for eternity. QI prevent first one. So you will be or cryopreserved or badly injured and survive for eternity. While both things have very small probability, cryopreservation may overweight longterm injury. And it certainly overweight a chance that you will live until 120 years old. So if you do not want to suffer for eternity , you need to sign up for cryonics )))) If we go deeper, we maybe surprised to find our selves in the world that prevent us from very improbable life of no dying old man, because we live in a very short time of human history where cryonics is known. It may be explained (speculatively) that if you are randomly chosen from all possible immortals, you will find yourself in the class with highest measure. It means that that you should expect no degradation, but ascending, may be by merging with Strong AI. It may sound wild, but I was surprised that I was not only one who came to the same conclusion, as when I was in MIRI last fall one guy had the same ideas (I forget his name). In short it may be explained in following way: from all humans who will be immortal the biggest part will be the ones who merge with AI and the smallest one will be those who survive as very old man thanks to random fluctuation.
This is something I've thought about too, although I've been a bit reluctant to write about it publicly. But on the other hand QI seems quite likely to be true, so I guess we should make up our minds about it.

Downvoted. I personally agree that username2's idea is naive, but it seems sincerely held, and making fun of it instead of explaining its problems is dickish.

Unfortunately, I do not possess your capability of determining the sincerity of the poster on the basis of one short comment on the 'net. Obviously stupid ideas are obviously stupid. Sincerity doesn't help them, anyway.

Wait? is 'LessWrong' not an admin account? I always assumed it was, but this thread implies otherwise.

I think it's an extremely bad idea to allow an ordinary user to name themselves after the site. You're basically inpersonating an admin!

You are right. I also think it would be a good idea to rename the account.

When I was a little kid we used to make blackberry jam. You can just pick wild blackberries in some places, which is quite a lot of work, but hey, you're out in nature, it's fun, and it's free. Looking back I think it was mostly my parents picking berries while my sisters and I were running around and playing in the forest and eating half the berries our parents picked.

The recipe for making jam is indeed just berries, water and sugar. We used a large pot though, not a frying pan. Just cook and steer until it's done. Pour the jam into a jar while it's still... (read more)

Yum! Thank you!

Would't it be more accurate to use a geometric mean here, instead of an arithmic one?

An arithmic mean really obscures low predictions.

The article is unclear in its terms. At the top is says "92 percent of the Universe's habitable planets have yet to be born" and at the bottom it says "Earth is in the first 8 percent". Those two statements can only both be true if no habitable planets were formed between the formation of the earth and now (which is, of course, not the case). If the former is correct, earth might be significantly higher than top 8%.

I still don't see how this escapees the Fermi paradox though. Even if we're top 1%, that still means there must be great, great many potential alien civilizations out there. A factor 100 isn't going to significantly affect that conclusion.

It seems to me that there is an important difference between 'flipping the switch' and 'flipping the switch back', which is the intent of the action.

In the first scenario, your intent is to sacrifice one person to safe many.

In the second scenario, your intent is to undo a previous wrong.

Thus a deontologist may perfectly consistently argue that the first action is wrong (because you are never allowed to treat people only as means, or whatever deontological rule you want to invoke), while the second action is allowed.

Straight out of the box, the new machine plays at the same level as the best conventional chess engines, many of which have been fine-tuned over many years. On a human level, it is equivalent to FIDE International Master status, placing it within the top 2.2 percent of tournament chess players. But even with this disadvantage, it is competitive. “Giraffe is able to play at the level of an FIDE International Master on a modern mainstream PC,” says Lai. By comparison, the top engines play at super-Grandmaster level.

That's a pretty hard contradiction right... (read more)

Yes, I noticed this too. The paper itself compares Giraffe (ELO ~2400) to 8 other chess engines (page 25 of the PDF), and decides that For comparison, a frequently updated list of chess engines and their (approximate) ELO ratings [], which would list Giraffe around shared 165'th place. It seems that it is the reporting, instead of the paper, that is making the exaggeration.

O wow.

I've been following Lesswrong for months now, and only because of this post did I found out that there's more posts hidden under 'main' than just the promoted ones. So Thanks Elo!

I now wonder if there are any other hidden site features I don't know about.

I have to say this is not very good design. Why would you hide posts in such a non-obvious way. It's also rather inconsistent. The discussion page opens an overview page of newest posts, while the main page shows only a subset of newest posts, and shows the full content instead of an overview. There ... (read more)

useful feature: the little envelope below comments and posts allows you to follow a post and receive future comments on it in your inbox
I agree that this is not a good design, and even when you use the link which gives both main and discussion, I dislike the format compared with the normal discussion page. I now read all articles (from both main and discussion) using an rss feed, but it would be better if there were a link at the top to "all posts", formatted in the style of the discussion page.

Slightly unrelated to the point made above, but there is one particular weird argument that always seems to come up (at least in my circle of friends and acquaintances) when talking about immortality.

I tell someone plan to live forever, and the response is "Not me! That must be terrible! Imagine being forced to watch as everybody you know dies. And what if humanity dies out? You'll be sitting on a barren world for all eternity. Imagine how bored you will get."

I call this the 'cursed with immortality' argument. It is of course utterly ridiculous, ... (read more)

Sleeping Beauty is right not to cancel the bet if she is woken up on not-Wednesday (so Monday or Tuesday, but she does not know which). But this is not the optimal strategy. instead she should she roll a 4-sided die and cancel the bet if she rolls a 1. In other words she should keep the bet with 75% chance.

If she always keeps the bet, her expected payout on Wednesday is 0.5 1.5 - 0.5 1 = 0.25. That is she makes 25 cents per dollar bet, on average. But if she cancels the bet with 25% chance each time she wakes up, her expected win is 0.5 0.75 1.5 - 0.5 ... (read more)

Honestly the easiest explanation is just that Aumann is a very muddled thinker when it comes to religion. That's hardly a surprising explanation - muddled thinking is extremely common when it comes to religion. And it doesn't mean that such a person can't otherwise be very rational. I know I'm being blunt here, but I see no reason to look beyond superficial appearances here. Just because a statement is religious doesn't mean it's deep.

All this stuff about non overlapping magisteria is honestly just confused nonsense. There's only one truth. Sure you can ap... (read more)

I don't think he was saying that copying software is wrong because his religion says so. When he is talking about that example, he says: "In short, you can be a moral person, but morals are often equivocal. In the eighties, copying software was considered moral by many people. The point I am making is that religion - at least my religion - is a sort of force, a way of making a commitment to conduct yourself in a certain way, which is good for the individual and good for society." In other words, he is saying that copying software is bad for society, but vague enough that it's easy for people to cut corners. His religion prevents that sort of thing, and in that way it is good for people. I don't agree that copying software is bad for society, but in any case I don't think he was trying to prove a fact about the world from his religion.

No that one in a billion was meant to be illustrative, not a real estimate of probability. But honestly even if you lower that 5% probability by only 1 or 2 orders of magnitude the proposition already becomes very dubious.

Don't forget that you can also extend your life by spending that money some other way. I think the singularity will probably happen somewhere between 2040 and 2060. So when I'm between 58 and 78 years old. This means I have a good chance to make it even without cryonics. Instead of taking that extra life insurance to pay for cryonics, I ... (read more)

I don't have a particular opinion on that. It's just the sort of figure I've seen from people in favour of cryo — that is the chance they are betting on, not a lottery jackpot. I am not signed up and am not planning to, despite having a sufficient pile of money. At the same time, I don't think the whole cryo movement is misguided either. It's an idea that should be pursued by those with the motivation to do so, both by freezing bodies now and researching preservation and revival methods. I also don't have a particular opinion about how soon a singularity may happen (or a global extinction). For those who think that one of those is very likely to happen before they need cryo, cryo is also not a good bet. At least, they might want to keep their cryo funding in a more liquid form than an insurance policy. Yes, those are real concerns that anyone contemplating signing up, or urging other people to, has to assess.

I'd say the most important objection to cryonics is the one you raise last, and only spend 1 line on. As a result your entire list seems rather weak. Because it's not just that cryonics has a low chance of working. If cryonics was free I'd sign up tomorrow, low chance be damned. But it isn't free, it is in fact very expensive.

So let's rephrase your question 12: You have a rare fatal disease. There is a complicated medical procedure that can cure you. The good news is that it is painless and has no side effects. The bad news is that it costs $200,000 and ha... (read more)

The lottery model doesn't apply to cryonics because the individual cryonicist's choices in the here and now bear on the probability of success. Cryonicist Thomas Donaldson, Ph.D. in mathematics, wrote about this back in the 1980's. []
No, they wouldn't. If that really is your estimated probability (where did you get those six zeros from? why not three, or twenty?), then you should not sign up for cryo. Those involved think there's a much higher chance than that. In fact, 5% is the usual order of magnitude. And you won't have any other use for that money when you're dead. Whether it would be better to give it away and certainly die is a whole other issue. (EA meets cryonics — there's a subject for an interesting debate.) So yes, those signing up are betting on a long shot, but not an impossibly long one.

Missing your very first turn is a bad sign for future reliability. I don't know about's etiquette, but on the site where I usually play such players are generally booted straight away, and a replacement is sought.

I'm willing to jump in if Germany doesn't show up. I'll be online again later tonight.

Please make an account and PM me the username, and we'll get the mods to do the swap.

Slow reply, but two things:

  • Whether that is game theoretically sound highly depends on the other player's behavior. If it makes other players afraid to stab you for fear of retribution in the next game, then yes, it works. But I think that among experienced diplomacy players, it is more likely to get you excluded from the game entirely. Also people will be less likely to ally with you in the first place if you have a reputation if responding badly to stabs.

  • This kind of behavior is explicitly against the rules in most online diplomacy communities. Becaus

... (read more)

Seems like I have missed the fun. Maybe if someone drops out, or otherwise next time. I used to play a lot of diplomacy online, but I haven't in a while. It would be fun to play another game.

Two remarks though.

One: Like I said, I haven't played diplomacy online for a while, so this information might be outdated, but I think is a much better platform than In my experience is a more mature site, with a more mature audience. Webdiplomacy also doesn't allow illegal orders, which in my opinion is completely against the spirit... (read more)

I assumed it meant a 90% prob of making every deadline.
Two slots left...
Well, the game is FCFS. I sent PMs to everyone who applied on the thread to give them a head start, but the password is public. There will also be a second game as soon as enough people express interest (I think 3 so far). Honestly, I chose as I'm a regular there. I know it works, and the illegal orders protection is not that much of a bad thing really. The community is irrelevant in a private game, and I know I can easily get a hold of the mods if the need arises (e.g. if an unexpected pause is required) It is low, but not that low, because you are forgetting the 95% heads up. So, the player will miss every deadline with 0.1 * 0.05 == 0.005 (0.5%), which is okay. I think the 90% requirement is okay, but the 95% one should have been higher (and was originally)

Well yes. I wasn't claiming that "why is there suffering" is a new question. Just that I haven't seen it applied to the simulation hypothesis before (if it has been discussed before, I'd be interested in links).

And religion can't really answer this question. All they can do is dodge it with non-answers like "God's ways are unknowable". Non-answers like that become even more unsatisfactory when you replace 'God' with 'future humans'.

Well, the simulation hypothesis is essentially equivalent to saying our world was made by God the Creator so a lot of standard theology is applicable X-) What, do you think, can really answer this question?

For me, one of the strongest arguments against the simulation hypothesis is one I haven't seen other make yet. I'm curious what people here think of it.

My problem with the idea of us living in a simulation is that it would be breathtakingly cruel. If we live in a simulation, that means that all the suffering in the world is there on purpose. Our descendants in the far future are purposefully subjecting conscious entities to the worst forms of torture, for their own entertainment. I can't imagine an advanced humanity that would allow something so blatantly ... (read more)

We could be living in an ancestor-simulation. Maybe our descendants are really, really devoted to realistic simulations. (I'm not sure how much I'd like a future in which such descendants existed, but it's a definite possibility.)
There is a rather obvious solution/answer: the purpose of the simulation is to resurrect the dead. Any recreation of historical suffering is thus presumably more than compensated for by the immense reward of an actual afterlife. We could even have an opt out clause in the form of suicide - if you take your own life that presumably is some indicator that you prefer non-existence to existence. On the other hand, this argument really only works if the person committing suicide was fully aware of the facts (ie that the afterlife is certain) and of sound mind.
This is commonly known as theodicy [].

I nteresting ending. I liked it.

Before I was hoping for more action. I wanted Hermione to take down Azkaban. I wanted to see here reaction to the whole story. I wanted to learn more about the source of magic and the mirror.

But this ending is fitting somehow.

And you know. Writing up those final parts could be an interesting community effort. Doubtless we'll see lots of meta-fan-fictions emerge the coming days.

Excellent chapter! The last few were a bit short, but this one more than made up for it!

I really hadn't seen the twist with Dumbledore coming. I am really, really, really glad that Dumbledore turns out to be sane after all. I really liked Eliezer's take on Dumbledore. I was convinced he was much saner than most people believed, but I couldn't figure out what game he was playing either.

The reference to Harry's pet rock was brilliant. This story clearly has been planned out long in advance.

Honestly I think even the wand thing is way overblown.

In story, there was only a few minute or so between the making of the unbreakable vow (which did require Harry to have his wand) and Harry using it to kill the Death Eaters. Voldemort makes the "You have 1 minute to tell me your secrets or you die" offer immediately after the vow, after all.

Voldemort could have reasoned that he wanted to kill Harry as quickly as possible. Forcing him to drop his wand would have taken time. It also would have shown weakness in front of the Death Eaters. And Vo... (read more)

0Ben Pace8y
A fine point. It is amusing how, through the reinforcement from the meme's spreading, people have forgotten the reliability of this statement.

Voldemort could have reasoned that he wanted to kill Harry as quickly as possible. Forcing him to drop his wand would have taken time.

This is silly. He'd taken the time to do exactly that before. And now, if he's going to give him a full minute just to think...

The whole thing falls to the "plausible excuse" vs "what you'd expect to happen" problem, which Harry explains in Answers and Riddles:

the laws governing what constitutes a good explanation don't talk about plausible excuses you hear afterward. They talk about the probabilitie

... (read more)

In story, there was only a few minute or so between the making of the unbreakable vow (which did require Harry to have his wand) and Harry using it to kill the Death Eaters. Voldemort makes the "You have 1 minute to tell me your secrets or you die" offer immediately after the vow, after all.

Not so. At T-20 seconds, Harry starts verbally stalling while he keeps working on the transfiguration.

It also would have shown weakness in front of the Death Eaters.

After he's already given them lengthy and detailed instructions about all the many diffe... (read more)

Well done Eliezer!

I have read lots and lots of 'partial transfiguration' solutions over the past few days. I didn't really like them, they seemed artificial, unrealistic.

But somehow when you told the solution, it didn't feel artificial at all. It felt like it made sense. And I really liked the way Harry stalled for time as well. A few very nice tricks there.

I'm not sure why Harry went through all the trouble of covering up his involvement though. Is there a reason he doesn't want to to take the credit? Is he afraid it will give away the secret of partial transfiguration? Or perhaps he doesn't want Draco to know he, presumably, killed Lucius? I guess we'll find out tomorrow ;)

The way he set it up gives Hermione the same credit for defeating Voldemort that Harry got when he was a baby.

One bit of information that I haven't seen anyone bring up before, is about the original prophecy (the Harry vs. Voldemort one).

Voldemort claims it is already fulfilled. But in an earlier chapter Snape claims that as the one for whom the original prophecy was meant, he will know when it is fulfilled, and it hasn't yet. So assuming Snape isn't either lying or mistaken (and Dumbledore is also present, bringing down the chance of Snape being mistaken), then that particular prophecy is still in effect.

Snape makes another very important claim in that passage. H... (read more)

I really like the part about the original prophecy not being fulfilled yet. That's the first thing I've seen that Harry can say to LV that would REALLY make him hesitate and would buy more time. Nice work!
I like these. Even with all his Horcruxes, isn't Voldemort still afraid of Dementors permanently destroying him? If you can make the argument that Voldemort can't have the power to destroy dementors, then he has a real need for someone who does have that power. The spell does seem to require values that Voldemort just doesn't have, and doesn't want to have - it's the good old power of love that gives the power to destroy Dementors. Voldemort simply not being able to cast Patronus 2 is like Harry not being able to cast AK, and there was a comment by someone about Dumbledore never being able to cast AK. And to add to Voldemort's problem, don't powerful spells have to pass from one living mind to another, so that Harry can't just write down instructions for someone else? (As an aside, wouldn't this imply that Harry's existing instructions to Hermione couldn't work? Then how are V's instructions for resurrecting Hermione supposed to work for Harry?) This seems a compelling argument for keeping Harry around to at least teach someone else.
Well, as for the dementor manipulation ability as the "power the Dark Lord knows not", it is actually a pretty overpowered one. Considering that in HPMOR universe dementors are described as Death, "wounds in the world" and whatever else, they should make a very effective weapon. Consider that, for example, when Harry asks about what would happen if a dementor got thrown into the sun, people seem to interpret it not as a "would a dementor die?" sort of question, but as a "would the sun get damaged by that?" question. So, in my opinion, such a monster shouldn't be inhibited by such things as mere large distances, material obstacles and other mundane and magical protections. When Harry stood before the Wizengamot in a presence of some pretty powerful wizards, including Dumbledore, McGonnagal and Lucius, he was quite sure that in the absence of Patronuses a single dementor under his control would be sufficient to quickly and selectively wipe out everyone who Harry found distasteful. Note also, that there is no need for Harry to wave his wand or say anything to control dementors. So, if Harry could get his hands on a dementor and his moral qualms wouldn't get in the way, I am sure that at the very least he could kill every death eater he wants dead (maybe sparing Lucius and Sirius, former as a possible ally, latter for a bit of questioning), and discorporate Voldemort, which would at least give him time to call for backup and warn people while Voldie is busy respawning and looking for some Listerine to wash that truly horrible dementor aftertaste out of his mouth. As for Voldemort's idea that he could run away from his body before it gets kissed - I think Voldie is overestimating himself here. Dementors are controlled by people's (especially Harry's) expectations, so if Harry expects a dementor to insta-kiss Voldemort, then Voldemort should be toast. There are a few of ways to take this idea further than Harry's immediate survival. First, we don't know yet how a dement

Looking back, I think I could have written that more clearly.

People were complaining about the mirror, and the Riddle-curse, being deus ex machina. I'm saying they weren't, because they weren't moving the plot forward. Take them out and the overall plot remains the same. That doesn't mean those scenes served no purpose in the story.

The Riddle-curse scene in particular I thought was very good. When I was reading chapter 111, when Harry got his wand back, I got all excited. I kept thinking perhaps Harry had a chance after all. I did of course wonder why Vold... (read more)

I disagree that the writing has deteriorated.

People complain a lot about the lack of foreshadowing of the mirror and the "Riddle can't kill Riddle" curse. But I don't think the lack of foreshadowing matters, because both of these things are minor details in the overall story line. Let's start with the "Riddle can't kill Riddle" curse. Voldemort wasn't just not killing Harry because of this curse. After all now that the curse is lifted he still isn't killing Harry. The curse is entirely unneeded to explain his earlier before, or his curr... (read more)

It's not so much the lack of foreshadowing that bothers me with Dumbledore, but how stupid Dumbledore seems in that chapter. First, he didn't even wonder if Quirrel wasn't possessed/imperiused by Voldemort, even after the Hogwarts security system identified the killer of Hermione to be Quirrel ? Second, he actually voice that he was stupid, what does he gain in doing so ? Third, how could he think he can defeat Voldemort with the "frozen time" spell when Voldemort is aware of that spell ? Voldemort has a horcrux network, he can just kill himself. The only hope would have been to use the "frozen time" by surprise. And finally, he faces Voldemort without even bringing Fawkes with him ? Whyyyy ? If he had Fawkes, he would largely have had the time to teleport Harry to safety while Harry was saying his heroic "I was stupid don't save me". The way Dumbledore acts in this chapter and the ease with which he's defeated feels very artificial. Especially considering Dumbledore, who will not as smart as Quirrelmort, is still supposed to be near his level.
"Anyway, bottomline: I really like the story so far" I'm with you. Chapter 108 is my favorite in the story, explains so much.
On the lack of foreshadowing for the "Riddle can't kill Riddle" curse, there was enough stuff around for me to generate a similar hypothesis last year [] (admittedly with prompting).
This... is actually a really good point. As I stated in my original comment, I am also a member of the group that doesn't think the quality of HPMoR has been decreasing, but until I read your comment, it was just a vague gut feeling of "What are you talking about? It's still good!" that I couldn't quite put into words (at least, not in a way that made sense). Thank you for articulating that so well!
I would interpret "you could take the following things out and it would make no difference" as criticism of the writing, not as praise. If a piece of information adds complexity without adding proportional value, it shouldn't be in there to begin with. (this is a comment on your critique rather than on the quality of recent HPMOR chapters, which I am still undecided on)
There's technically six more hours of story time for a time-turned Dumbledore to show up, before going on to get trapped. He does mention that he's in two places during the mirror scene. Dumbledore has previously stated that trying to fake situations goes terribly wrong, so there could be some interesting play with that concept and him being trapped by the mirror.
So, maybe Harry uses partial transfiguration to kill all the Death Eaters. This still does nothing to solve the Voldemort Problem. And so it seems most likely that the Voldemort Problem is not the actual problem of the fic. As others have linked, Voldemort proposed a long time ago that he would duel Harry and "lose," and then Harry is established as the eventual philosopher-king of Britain. Maybe, decades from now, Harry manages to stop Voldemort; but probably not.
I agree with you about the writing but I have a nearly opposite prediction. I notice that in all the Harry talking to himself or reflecting quietly chapters he allways thinks something along the lines of "there seems to be almost no limit in what you could accomplish with magic if you really understood it". Several times his mind circles around the becomus godus spell and considers some avenue and decides it wouldn't work for some reason or another. In each case after thinking that his mind goes off on some other tangent. So my prediction is that Harry has his situation get worse and worse until he can do nothing but think about how to et out of it. And while thinking and being forced not to divert his mind to other matters he will review clues that were allready available to us (had we been paying closer attention) and by reviewing the right facts in the right order he will deduce something about how magic works. That deduction will allow him to cast some absurdly powerful spell that solves his problems.

That was absolutely awesome. This story is really very well written. So much exposition, and it just all made perfect sense. And it was even somehow brought back far more in line with the original novel than I thought possible.

And I guess the '"Power the dark lord knows not" really is love, which is kinda awesome.

It's still kind of obvious how to defeat Voldemort though. Simply permanently disable him without killing him. Some magical prison, or a coma, or a permanent transfiguration into a stone. This is in fact so obvious that Voldemort himself... (read more)

It seems like he can leave the body at will to go to another... I don't think permanently disabling would help.

I have really wanted to try MealSquares for a while now, but they are only sold in the US, with no timeline for availability elsewhere. In fact I don't think their site has been updated since I first encountered them a couple of months ago. Does anyone know if they still exist, and if they have plans to ever sell overseas?

They still exist (I've been subscribed for some time). I have no speculation about their overseas plans, and recommend you use the contact form to ask them--it might possibly make it happen sooner, as it's more evidence of an overseas market.

You mean: "Just don't do it by lying to them about not easily verifiable facts" right?

Lying to your kids about certain classes of things is a great game, which, as others have pointed out, adults seem almost hard-wired to play. It's a great way to stimulate a child's inquisitive nature, in a safe and fun way. Adults will often tell their kids tall stories, or make up nonsense explanations for every day phenomenons, or play out fantasies as if they are real (Santa Claus falls in this latter category).

But for this game to work, the things you lie a... (read more)

And the same kind of lying by elder siblings to younger ones is even more widespread.

I wonder if this can not be partially explained by people wanting to answer quickly. The teacher says you can make as many guesses as you like, but we still instinctively feel like we do better if we do it faster.

Imagine the same test, but now with the last line reading: "You can make as many guesses as you like, but you get graded on how fast you get the right result". With the rule it is a lot more rational to not spend too much time on verification of your hypothesized rule. I have no idea what the best strategy is, I guess it depends on your ... (read more)


You are right that there is also the scenario that the test givers are lying (which in this case turns out to be the truth). But this is not something Brennan in the story considers, so it can not have affected his decision. So he arrived at the correct answer, but did so by faulty logic. His two errors (not considering one possible scenario, and assigning wrong odds to the two scenarios he does consider) just happen to cancel out. It would certainly be a way to fix this story: Let Brennan first realize that he should trust everybody else over himse... (read more)

But it is! He recalculates - aloud, which makes him less likely to repeat a mistake, and more likely to catch it if he does - and then, reaching the same conclusion as before, gives it again. He thinks he might have made a mistake, which is a reasonable thought, so he works it out again. In other words, but he does the correct thing for both of those scenarios. He entertains the notion of being wrong, and calculates his odds publicly, where anyone could point out to him if he has found that 4 times 5 is 12, but, finding the same conclusion as before, he stands up to peer pressure.

I know this is a very old story, but I have some thoughts on it I wanted to share.

Let me first share an experience that I think everybody who has ever seriously studied math (or any complicated subject) has had. You're working on a difficult math problem, say a complicated differential equation. You are certain your method is correct, but still your answer is wrong. You've checked your work, you've double checked it, you've checked it again. Your calculation seems flawless.. Finally, in desperation, you ask a friend for help. Your friend takes one glance a... (read more)

Welcome! But this assumes that the Conspirator is telling him the truth, instead of testing him. I think Brennan is right in considering alternative hypotheses about the Conspirator's motives. There are questions of 'epistemic hygiene' here. If I hold a belief because someone else I trust holds that belief, I need to be careful that I don't give other people the impression that I'm providing independent verification of that belief instead of just importing their belief. If Brennan calculated a different answer, him telling the group that will allow them to converge more quickly to the correct belief (even if he acts on the group consensus belief, because that's the one that he trusts more than his private belief!).
But in fact, in the story neither of those hypotheses hold. No-one is making a mistake.