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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84

I downvoted the previous post because it was a needlessly complicated, poorly justified plan. Crucially, there was little indication of why Voldemort would want to pretend to lose, when he was already winning the war. By contrast, your more recent post is a good analysis of the new insight into Voldemort's history and motivations provided by the latest chapter.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82

I'm not saying I think Narcissa is alive, but...

There’s no obvious reason not to return her after he thought Voldemort was gone

Except that Narcissa could then testify in front of the Wizengamot that Dumbledore kidnapped her.

or at least to let Lucius know what happened in case she’s alive and didn’t want to return

Dumbledore believes Voldemort will return. This would limit his ability to threaten Death Eaters in the next war.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82

I would much prefer to have them released all at once. I could read them and re-read them at my own pace. There would still be plenty to discuss. The cliff-hangers mean that I currently think about each update more than is productive. It would be nice if the disruptive effect they have on the rest of my life was more localized.

Mostly, though, I'm happy to read it whenever EY gets around to posting it.

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

Sorry, apparently I'm illiterate.

Also, I guess "siblings getting killed" isn't much of a pattern. Given that people were getting killed in the war, and that people have siblings, you can count the people getting killed as siblings.

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

It's also difficult to see why Voldemort would want to pretend to die at Godric's Hollow. He was winning the war. Why pretend to lose, throw away what he had built up to then, and try an entirely different approach to gaining power? I think the more obvious explanation for the burnt body is that whatever ritual magic protected Harry was very destructive to Voldemort. I think it is clear that some ritual magic is involved here; how else can we explain the danger of Harry's and Quirrell's magic interacting? And the violence of their magics' interaction in Azkaban makes it plausible that if Voldemort were to cast a killing curse directly at Harry, he might end up as a burnt corpse.

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

Perhaps its not such a strange thing to say if you don't think Mr. Potter knows about the prophecy, and are trying to correct his insubordination. In the following chapters, Dumbledore doesn't act as though he has decided Harry is unsuitable as a hero. Rather than trying to replace him, Dumbledore begins to confide in him.

Does Nornagest's explanation of Dumbledore's relationship with story-book reasoning affect your previous analysis? If you agree that Dumbledore feigns a story-book persona, rather than taking story-book logic seriously, then doesn't it seem strange that he would hatch such a plot? Note that his manipulation of the last battle in December is consistent with having realistic view of the world. Yes, Dumbledore did manage to acheive a "story-book outcome," but he clearly didn't expect this to happen---he had a contingency plan.

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

You are right, those are both possibilities. Though, one of them has been explicitly presented by the author, and endorsed by Harry. I don't think we have much reason to doubt the canonical interpretation.

"SO THAT'S HOW THE COMED-TEA WORKS! Of course! The spell doesn't force funny events to happen, it just makes you feel an impulse to drink right before funny things are going to happen anyway! I'm such a fool, I should have realized when I felt the impulse to drink the Comed-Tea before Dumbledore's second speech, didn't drink it, and then choked on my own saliva instead - drinking the Comed-Tea doesn't cause the comedy, the comedy causes you to drink the Comed-Tea! I saw the two events were correlated and assumed the Comed-Tea had to be the cause and the comedy had to be the effect because I thought temporal order restrained causation and causal graphs had to be acyclic BUT IT ALL MAKES SENSE ONCE YOU DRAW THE CAUSAL ARROWS GOING BACKWARDS IN TIME!"

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

Harry could still get a false negative. Remember, Harry will feel the impulse to offer a drink to Alice if and only if if Alice is about to be surprised. So not feeling an impulse to offer her a drink would indicate that either that Alice would not be surprised that Voldemort is alive, or that Harry will not actually end up telling her.

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

If, for example, Harry wishes to test whether or not someone knows that Voldemort is alive, he could see if he has the Impulse to give that person a drink, all while thinking about saying that "The Dark Lord is still alive". If he gets the Impulse, they don't know. If he doesn't, then they already know/has been suspecting that he's been alive.

Unless he actually followed through with saying that Voldemort is still alive, this wouldn't be enough.

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

In the aftermath of the prophecy, his manipulation of Snape and Lily netted him a defeated Dark Lord, a double agent and powerful ally, and a newly horcruxed hero. If the prophecy hadn't occurred, he'd instead have... a bouncing baby boy. It's hard to see what he hoped to accomplish by driving Snape and Lily apart if he didn't intend to prod Voldemort into attacking the Potters.

One possibility is that he didn't intentionally drive Snape and Lily apart. I don't think there's enough evidence of that to overcome the prior probability that Trelawney's prophecy was genuine. Note that Dumbledore himself seems to regard the prophecy as genuine---witness, for example, his apparently genuine interest in discovering the "power [Voldemort] knows not."

Here's another way of looking at it. Assume Dumbledore planned in advance to defeat Voldemort by (i) convincing Voldemort of a false prophecy that would lead him to attempt the murder of a baby, and (ii) somehow manipulating the baby's mother into either performing ritual magic herself, or causing Voldemort to perform ritual magic that would bring about Voldemort's death when he attempted to kill the baby. We might now ask, is there a simpler way that Dumbledore might have tried to enact (i) and (ii), other than the means you have suggested?

Note that a priori, assuming that Dumbledore is primarily concerned with defeating Voldemort, there is no reason for Dumbledore to deliver the false prophecy to Voldemort via an agent who is in love with the mother in question. He must then rely on the agent not understanding the prophecy in time. Furthermore, if the agent figures out the prophecy after relaying it to Voldemort, Dumbledore must then rely on Voldemort disregarding the agent's request to spare the mother. So going out of his way to push Snape and Lily apart, and then using Snape as a messenger, seems like a very unintuitive way for Dumbledore to execute this plot. Why not keep Snape and Lily together, see that they have a child, and then deliver the false prophecy to Voldemort via some other agent?

Now, personally, I do think it's a possibility that Snape and Lily were driven apart by Dumbledore, maybe even intentionally. But I don't think it was for this reason.

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