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

If you accept the hypothesis, wanded magic has the not-insignificant advantage of being more powerful. What's the advantage of wandless magic?

I thought it was obvious. What if you're without a wand?

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

Also, is that $25 million in 1991 dollars (year the book's taking place) or 2011?

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

There's got to be a spell for that, and it it likely to work similarly to the hover charm, i.e. instant effect.

Ah. Hundreds of girls Summoning a Harry Potter into their arms?

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

Maybe it's not that wands are needed to cast spells, but that they amplify magical power (and perhaps adds focus to a target). While the magically powerful are able to cast high level wandless magic, most are unable to. Hence, they have to use wands to make their spells powerful enough to have an effect. Children have spontaneous magic but they can't cast as much as adults normally can with wands.

Perhaps Roger Bacon just wasn't magically powerful. -shrugs- Not all great thinkers have to have tons of strength. Er, wasn't he Muggleborn? If the "Muggleborns-are-weaker" theory is true, then it makes sense.

My hypothesis for the reason why high-level wizards continue to use wands is that they've simply grown dependent. If they've been using magic-amplifying wands ever since they were eleven, then they would be used to being assisted by the wand. I think this matches my mental model of Quirrell, who is seen doing a lot of wandless magic (stopping spells midair, spontaneously combusting inkwells). He seems like the kind of person that would train himself to use his wand as little as possible. And even if he can't duel without, his magical ability is certainly very impressive.

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

A matter with the Comed-Tea that was bugging me for a while:

Chapter 14:

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!

Hypotheses: Comed-Tea on person = impulse to drink, Comed-Tea not on person = no impulse to drink.

According to Chapter 12:

Harry couldn't help but feel the urge to drink another Comed-Tea. (And when he didn't...) Harry inhaled his own saliva and went into a coughing fit just as all eyes turned toward him.

So no matter what, even if you don't end up drinking it, you will get the Impulse before something funny happens.

Chapter 46:

I have been saving them for special occasions; there is a minor enchantment on them to ensure they are drunk at the right time. This is the last of my supply, but I do not think there will ever come a finer occasion.

So Harry has used up all of his Comed-Tea. (edit: it appears that Harry actually has tons left unless he's not mentioning some he drank/gave away, look at bottom of post)

...

WHY? WHYYY?!

It is apparent that you'll still get the impulse to drink whether or not you do end up drinking. So why didn't he save a can he's never ever going to drink?

Even if Harry will end up choking on his saliva, wouldn't the early notification of something ridiculous happening be helpful to him in any way? Like... it'd be an early warning to be prepared for whatever another person could say/do in conversation. Or if he's looking for interesting information, say from the library, he can just walk by all the shelves until he gets the Impulse-- that'd be an indicator that he's near the shelf that has the interesting book. There might be more uses.

Chapter 14:

Thankfully, Harry’s panicking brain remembered at this point that he did have something he’d been planning to discuss with Professor McGonagall. Something important and well worth her time. It was at this point that Harry realized he was faced with a priceless and possibly irreplaceable opportunity to offer Professor McGonagall a Comed-Tea and he couldn’t believe he was seriously thinking that and it would be fine the soda would vanish after a few seconds and he told that part of himself to shut up.

The charm even works for other people. 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.

Chapter 8:

The boy reached into his pouch and said, "can of soda", retrieving a bright green cylinder. He held it out to her and said, "Can I offer you something to drink?"

Hermione politely accepted the soda. In fact she was feeling sort of thirsty by now.

In fact, just asking, "Are you feeling thirsty?" seems to be enough to trigger the charm's apparent spit-taking powers. Harry could think about talking about Voldemort, and ask if the other person's thirsty. If yes, they would take whatever he's going to say as a surprise, if no, then they won't. Geebus this thing is powerful.


edit: actually, I'm going to check the text and see Harry actually used up his supply. Be right back.

Chapter 7: “Two dozen cans please.” (24) He tossed a can to Draco and then started feeding his pouch... (23) (Harry's drinking one too) (22) Harry snarled, threw the can violently into a nearby garbage can, and talked back over to the vendor. “One copy of The Quibbler, please.” He paid over four more Knuts, retrieved another can of Comed-Tea from his pouch... (21)

Chapter 8: The boy reached into his pouch and said, “can of soda”, retrieving a bright green cylinder. He held it out to her and said, “Can I offer you something to drink?” (20)

Chapter 12: Harry reached into his pouch and whispered, “Comed-Tea”. (19)

Chapter 46: “Three sodas." (16)

Nevermind, Harry lied, he still has tons unless he's been drinking them and not mentioning it. However the Comed-Tea hasn't been mentioned since, so it might actually be all gone.

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

Draco's a manipulative little snake. Lucius never probably never asked, "Son, are you able to cast the Patronus Charm?" because he was probably under the impression that Slytherins weren't able to cast Patronuses so why bother asking. Hence, the topic never came up. Draco's a scientist now, he doesn't completely believe everything that Lucius says anymore. Draco's probably avoiding talking about dangerous subjects with his father. And of course, he could always lie.

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

I thought Draco promised Harry that Draco wouldn't tell Lucius about their interactions. Several times.

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

Five days was perfect in my perspective. To be honest I thought the speculation had the potential to be very fun and mentally stimulating but the way we did it was completely wrong. What ended up happening was everyone proposed own theories left and right and in the end only a few people got some of the answer right, whereas if we collaborated better we could have ended up with an entire community who guessed most of the answer right. Makes for more overall happy.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12

If we held off proposing solutions the first two days of analysis wouldn't get buried down in the first place. And to answer your question, forum posts can be edited, and the date posted is marked with an asterisk if it was. A wiki sounds sensible but it might be a little too complex for those who are unfamiliar with it, not to mention there'd be tons of editing conflicts going on. I propose Google Docs, for its real-time collaboration, or any other similar alternative. Etherpad?

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12

In retrospect, our guesswork was a lot messier than it should have been.

Chapter 25:

One set of problem-solving groups had been given the instruction "Do not propose solutions until the problem has been discussed as thoroughly as possible without suggesting any."

The other set of problem-solving groups had been given no instructions. And those people had done the natural thing, and reacted to the presence of a problem by proposing solutions. And people had gotten attached to those solutions, and started fighting about them, and arguing about the relative importance of freedom versus efficiency and so on.

and

Starting out by looking for solutions was taking things entirely out of order. Like starting a meal with dessert, only bad.

While Less Wrong discussants are usually prone to less fighting and arguing than the norm, they are not prone to being inefficient.

What we should have done was forbade any and all solutions until two days after the chapter was released. We had five full days to guess, we didn't need to have all our solutions down the first twenty-four hours. Not to mention that instead of simpler solutions, we continued to look for answers more complex than the ones already proposed after we thought we already cleared the low-hanging fruit.

While some people have made an attempt to analyze first, listing everything in the room, things that only Harry knows, et cetera, the majority of us just proposed solutions right away. This was probably not what Mr. Yudkowsky wanted.

Word of God:

One thing I did notice was that many readers (a) neglected simple solutions in favor of complex ones, (b) neglected obvious solutions in favor of nonobvious ones, and (c) suggested that the correct hints had been put there for deliberately deceptive purposes.

...which in my mind I parsed as keep it simple, stupid, and you all were looking in the wrong direction and why the hell are you all proposing one preposterous idea after another, are you trying to look intelligent or something.

My only conclusion after reading that was that if we drew a map first we probably would of found the more probable solutions a lot quicker. Also reading through 1.5k+ comments full of solutions was headache-inducing.

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