Gwern: "Remember how heritability works. If environments improve, genetics will explain more and more of variance. It's Liebig's barrel. Shared-environment in the USA is very small."
I'm not sure that this can be assumed true (and forgive me if the point is addressed elsewhere. I have mostly only read this comment). If someone is phenylketoneuric, improved environment will eliminate what would otherwise be a profound difference between them and their cohort. Harsh environments tend to accentuate differences, including genetic differences. There's been some push to put lab animals through more rigorous trials to better observe subtle differences between them. If genetic susceptibilities to environmental insult explains many differences between populations then it's entirely possible for environments which address those susceptibilities to reduce the apparent portion of differences which are viewed as "genetic." We can't begin to predict whether improved environment will increase or decrease the differences due to genetic variance until we address the specific mechanisms underlying that variance. (And, in a kind of Catch-22 once we understand the underlying mechanisms we're very close to addressing the issue through some kind of direct intervention (like genetic editing of embryos.) )This makes prediction even harder, since self-modifying systems are hell to reliably forecast till they reach some kind of equilibrium.
What's our standard for intelligence? Evolution has, with a planet and a few billion years, produced many, many things that humans have not yet been able to replicate. Or which we can't replicate efficiently. That's starting to change. But a process that can outperform a few billion people with a few thousand years of accumulated knowledge is still pretty formidable.
I <i>do</i> think that there are many people in the biological sciences who portray evolution as being more 'stupid' than it is. And that is a problem because it's a false prediction.
IDers seem to be cherry picking their 'early supporters of a functional genome. Most IDers I talked to during the early 2000s or so, in contrast, were very cagey about committing to any falsifiable theory. A highly functional genome was a sort of strawman argument against creationists, if you go back far enough. But it's a strawman which turns out to be more accurate than the actual arguments made by either mainstream scientists or creationists in the 70s.
I really do like dxu's "If you harm me greatly, the universe will end" or something similar in Parseltounge, though. (Since it will end with or without Harry's intervention, this is still true.) It seems the most elegant solution and would buy time to implement some other solution. hm. This system ate my previous post.
I'll have to rewrite it.
While this might be a little deus ex machina for Eliezer Yudkowsky, Harry can create a doppleganger of himself. He's recently learned more complex transfigurations. Dumbledore had access to the Philosopher's Stone, which could make such transfigurations permanent. Harry's special patronus seems to help the process in some cases. These are very complementary abilities.
If Harry could clone a copy of himself from a part of himself, and that copy could be made to forget it's origin then the captured Harry might not have to be the real Harry at all, and could be sacrificed. Harry could theoretically make an army of himself, even, and hide them in his bag of holding or some other place like a clown car. Further, Harry could clone himself and use that clone to make a horcrux gaining some kind of immortality without murder. I doubt that Dumbeldore would allow such dark magics, though.
Here's my idea, which I've posted as a review on FF.net. Harry has advanced transfiguration. The Philosopher's Stone can make transfiguration permanent. Harry can bring life to dead things. This is very close to Harry being able to create copies of himself, which would surely be attractive to Harry. The question, then, is; when did Harry first realize this capacity?The possibility of creating a body double might very well have been enough to have persuaded Dumbledore to let Harry use the Philosopher's stone, which he seems to have access to. Or Harry might have procured the stone himself, which he seems able to, intellectually. It's just a matter of procuring a confundus charm. The current Harry could have been memory-charmed into believing he was the original Harry and this ruse may have gone on for quite some time (though reviving Hermione would have made it obvious that he had this power, and I'm not sure if Harry would have demured to do so if he thought he could. I suspect he'd have to be persuaded by someone else.) It might help in explaining why Harry could attack Voldemort, since Voldemort's curse bound only Tom Riddles "descended from him", and the current double would have been "descended" from Harry.
In this case our Harry could be destroyed and another Harry would still live (and could even play off his surviving destruction as a type of magic, snapping his fingers.) Similarly, could Harry sacrifice one of his doubles to create a horcrux and then inhabit a spare transfigured body, laying in stasis somewhere (like his bag of holding?) This seems a bit dark for Harry, but maybe possible.
I'm not sure what the limitations on this type of duplication magic would be. Perhaps multiple Harrys would need to be created 'from hit points' and even if one Harry could make another they might each be weaker or draw on the original Harry's HPs. But an army of Harry Potters striding over the hill wouldn't be a bad solution to this problem. Chaos Army of One. etc.
"We should put more trust in larger scale organizations who are doing exploring, like GiveWell, and pool our resources."
I wonder about the notion of scalability, because with any information provider there's the possible issue of corruption. Is it better to have a large organization which is easy to track? (Goodwill and the Red Cross seem to give their CEOs pretty high salaries, considering that they're charities.) Or is it better to have a system which is more robust to corruption and tunnel vision due to multiple redundancies? Do larger organizations attract a certain type of social climber? I have no doubt that there are economies of scale. Part of the reason I'm asking these questions is that corruption seems to be a universal human stumbling block, and one that is often inadequately addressed. We project generously and assume that the heads of organizations are "basically like us" and altruistic in their intent. Neither is probably true, as the upper ranks of large organizations tend to collect those who are particularly attracted to climbing the ranks.
"Simplest; The goblins, and wizard society just do not approve of outright theft, even from muggles, and there are magics that will reliably mark stolen goods"
This makes a lot of sense. In a society where theft from even most wizards should be theoretically pretty easy, blanket 'anti-theft' measures seem most workable. Which, of course, implies that ownership is an intrinsic property of matter in the wizarding verse. Ayn Rand would squee.
Alternative; HPMOR is a sometimes a sideways critique of the Rowling universe, and should, perhaps, sometimes be viewed in that light.
Rowling's universe does have poor wizards, and it does have money and currency constraints. Gold seems to be both intrinsically valuable and rare which is strange. There do seem to be strong cultural taboos against interaction with muggles, despite the obvious benefits (gold, sex, etc.) But the origin of those taboos have never been adequately explained. Such an explanation might allow for a Voldemort who was guided by something other than a quest for personal power, but who was some matrix-esque control mechanism from Atlantis. But I don't want to get too Deus Ex Maquina in my explanations if something better presents itself. In any case, the taboos could easily be outdated. The existence of long-lived wizards suggests a larger ratio of old people to young, and a more conservative society (as in 'resistant to change') in general.
Alternately perhaps Harry's experiment regarding inheritance was wrong or inadequate in some way and magic really can be diluted by interacting/breeding with muggles. We've been told that the most powerful wizards tend to have few children. Grindelwald seems to have been Gay. Dumbledore is both Gay and childless/asexual in his adult life. If we assume a given number of Atlantean 'magic markers' (genetic markers which confer magic ability, which is what a strict Mendelian wizarding gene is likely to be ;-) ) then perhaps having a larger number of a particular marker in a population really WOULD decrease the average power of anyone else who held one of those markers. This would allow for the cultural evolution of a wizarding world that was strongly insular, since familiarity breeds children and indiscriminate genetic dispersal would lead to collapse or diminishment of that family's wizarding powers.
Which suggests that either Neville has a lot of distant relatives somewhere, or remarkable magical potential.