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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Re: Flamel and his open-secret-recipe for the Philosopher's Stone.

Here's a quote from chapter 61:

His strongest road to life is the Philosopher’s Stone, which Flamel assures me that not even Voldemort could create on his own

And yet, the recipe is openly available for everyone to see. If anyone could reproduce the stone from the recipe, it would be the very intelligent, rational(and very interested in immortality) Voldemort.

So, how do we reconcile these two facts?

One option is, of course, the published, known recipe is a fake. The stone is real but Flamel lied to everyone about the recipe. That's certainly a plausible - if boring - explanation of the facts. The other plausible explanation is as Harry says - maybe the stone is a fake. Maybe Flamel is immortal because of Horcruxes and he invented the stone as a way to keep people off the trail of his phylacteries. Maybe Flamel isn't immortal at all, maybe he pulls of a Batman Begins Ra's Al Ghul style of immortality. Any of a dozen options is possible.

However, if we take things at face value, I think we can end up with a more interesting conclusion - I think this might be our first piece of evidence(it's not very good evidence, but evidence nonetheless) that the Interdict of Merlin is an actual, real magical effect, rather than just a cultural thing or a legend. The reason people can't reproduce the stone is because the Interdict obscures some part of the recipe.

I guess this is testable - do we know if Flamel had any apprentices to whom he tried to personally explain how to make the Stone?

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85

What it reminds me the most of is Harry's discussion with Hermione about the need for heroic responsibility - about always shouldering the responsibility for any final outcome of events, instead of thinking that your job is done when you, say, go to Professor McGonagall and tell her to do something about it.

My guess(though I wouldn't assign a very high probability to this) is that it will be uttered by Harry while he's away from anyone he considers to be sane or responsible(like, say, Quirrell) and he fails to prevent something tragic from happening. A more specific hypothesis: Quirrell's identity is revealed by him doing something unspeakably evil and Harry blames himself for not piercing the disguise earlier.

The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

Deleted. I just noticed that a similar example has been posted.

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11

I'm curious now...

We know that Obliviation doesn't erase everything - it erases memories but not every effect of the experience it erases. We've even seen it in story - Rianne Felthorne felt sad when looking at her "found" ruby. McGonnagall also hypothesized that Harry might have been abused(or otherwise experienced something awful) and then Obliviated.

Either way, I'm curious how this effect would interact with something like this.

If Harry told you the secret of the True Patronus(and you weren't the sort of person who could kill Dementors with that knowledge) and you Obliviated yourself, would that be enough to restore the capacity to use an animal Patronus?

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10

True, using copies to achieve that kind of power doesn't seem to make much sense - the law even says that you can get as much... let's call it "work" out of the ingredient as was "invested". It's true that there isn't much of an investment of resources in copies.

So, forget the copies, let's use the originals.

For example, could you take Einstein's original notes/notebooks(copying them beforehand, of course, so that you don't lose information), liquefy them into a Scientific Breakthrough Potion and use that Potion to quickly figure another brilliant breakthrough? That's the kind of thing I'm wondering about.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10

Ch 78 You know, of all the things in the chapter, the law of Potion-Making seems the most important, by far - if I understand it correctly, it has staggering implications.

It's clear that you can extract more than purely physical processes from ingredients - since we have potions that bestow even entirely abstract concepts like luck(and canon!Snape claimed to be capable of brewing fame and glory, I'm unsure if MoR!Snape claimed the same).

So, could you, say, take a CD with some software on it and use it as a Potions ingredient in order to extract the mental work that went into programming that software, creating a Potion of Excellent Programming or something? Or, even better - could you take a copy of some brilliant scientific research paper, extract the brilliant scientific genius out of it and use the resulting Potion in order to create an even more brilliant scientific breakthrough? That's godhood in one shot right there.

I also have to wonder how Potion-Making interacts with the Mind Projection Fallacy. If you use a video game as an ingredient, can you create a Potion of Fun out of the video game or no? Fun isn't an inherent property of video games, it's in the minds of the players.

Luminosity (Twilight Fanfic) Discussion Thread 3

So I don't know how much use it'd be for anyone else.

Well, maybe you're doing a sort of inverse of generalizing from one example in that you assume that your process wouldn't be of use to anyone else, when in fact, it might be useful? :-)

Your Seven Shiny Stories are also very specific examples that theoretically apply to that one person only but can serve to highlight more general principles.

Going for the meta article with "this is how you find those techniques" with an example added of "this is how I found this" might be the best though, similarly to how the Sequence/Seven Shiny Stories work now.

Luminosity (Twilight Fanfic) Discussion Thread 3

I don't think I've ever seen a fanfic that updated with this kind of regularity or speed.

Incidentally, Alicorn, I think that might be an interesting thing to add to your Luminosity sequence. Maybe make Seven Shiny Stories into Eight Shiny Stories(or add something like Ureshiku Naritai) and elaborate - based on your own example - how do you force yourself to write more, how you caught that without a schedule/that sensation of "somebody would notice" you don't update regularly and so on. I think it might serve as an interesting example of dealing with akrasia, just like Ureshiku Naritai serves as an interesting example of dealing with depression.

Luminosity (Twilight Fanfic) Discussion Thread 3

That's an interesting possibility.

Though, I think there's an easier approach.

In the case of passwords or PIN numbers or whatever, she could probably look into the future and see the password used by an authorized user of whatever-it-is-that-she's-trying-to-break(eventually, someone's going to use it).

This is vastly less universal(she can't solve problems unless someone already knows the answer), but far easier. She could, for example, try to see who's going to use the ATM next, overlook the PIN and then decide to steal that person's wallet.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how that interacts with her ability. If she, say, decided to look into the future for the next PIN, wouldn't that influence the future so that no one enters the PIN at all(since she's going to steal the wallet of the next person)? Or, would she see herself entering the correct PIN(which would be an extremely interesting possibility)?

Luminosity (Twilight Fanfic) Discussion Thread 3

Though, didn't Addy say that Elspeth still thinks of her power as touch-based even after she is capable of range?

Maybe she needs to think of her power as ranged on a more instinctual, subconscious level before she begins broadcasting her dreams as she sleeps.

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