Headscratchers: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
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Muggles Treated as Pets
- Where does the author get the idea that muggles are treated as something akin to pets or babies? I don't remember seeing anything like that in canon.
- The whole business of "let's keep muggles in the dark about magic, even when evil wizards are running around killing muggles for fun." You may not agree that that amounts to treating them as pets or babies, but it's pretty clear that that's what Yudkowsky has in mind.
- There's a couple examples, but the most obvious I can remember right now is the Weasley family, which includes Arthur (who pities non-magical people in the nicest way possible, isn't it fascinating the way they've figured out how to live without spells, etc), Molly (who doesn't approve of her husband's tech hobby, and the first words we heard out of her was talking about all those muggles running around in a muggle train station), and the kids (who just think their dad is weird and don't care about the whole subject much, plus Ron who is... Ron). The Weasleys are decent people who certainly don't buy into blood purism, but they still don't... really see non-wizards as equals. I don't think Arthur even takes muggle tech that seriously, it's just all funny little toys to him.
- Beyond all the good points you made about the Weasleys' attitude toward Muggles, you also make a good point about Ron. Out of all the Weasleys, he is the one who marries a Muggle-born, after all.
- Interpretation of this depends on ratio of muggleborn to purebloods.
- Exactly my point. Of of the Weasleys, Ron is the only one who marries a muggle-born.
- The biggest hint in the canon is how muggles are treated. Two words, memory charms. We are the culmination of our experiences and yet Barty Crouch repeatedly wipes the memory of the grounds keeper guy with nary a second thought. Wizards can heal pretty much every illness imaginable and yet muggles are out there with alzeimers and cancer. As far as I'm concerned wizards dont have long lives because of inate magic, but due to magical healing. There existence and lack of caring makes them responsible for the short lives of every muggle.
- But Wizards also do things involving the mind to other wizards. They let Dementors at their prisoners after all. They just don't have the same opinions on the mind as Muggles do.
- It's all over canon. Wizards think nothing of altering muggle memories to maintain the statue of secrecy (most evident at the World Cup), or of breaking into their house while they're on vacation and using it as a free hotel (neither Harry nor Dumbledore condemn Slughorn for this). When muggles are killed by giants and terrorist attacks on bridges, wizards don't care that their family members will never know the truth of the incident. When a muggle poses any kind of problem, a quick confounding charm is seen as a good solution (Dumbledore at the orphanage comes to mind). Wizards draw the line at killing muggles, or hurting them for your own amusement, but everything else is fair game. See this fic for more. They are literally treated more like animals or children than like fellow adult humans.
- Look at Fudge's treatment of the Prime Minister, the elected official of the Muggle government of Great Britain. Look at Hermione, who after four years spent in the Wizarding world has been assimilated to point that she, the supposed know-it-all, refers to technology a "substitute" for magic, positing that magic is superior, when in fact technology is merely the technical term for advanced tools and that it in many ways surpasses magic. Who was the first wizard on the moon, after all? Or the first wizard to blow up a city? And finally, look at how they never once ask the Muggles for help against Voldemort, despite the fact that an air force bomber could have taken out the entire Death Eater army without any difficulty whatsoever, and that if they appealed to the Muggle government directly, they most likely would have helped them secretly to honor their International Statute of Secrecy.
- What was the black thread in Chp 28 that nearly killed Harry?
- They answered that in the story; they said they were transfiguring carbon nanotubes and they didn't even know whether or not it was dangerous. The point was that they were experimenting without expert supervision and they had no idea what, if any, risks were present.
- Really the dangerous part was that tons of weight was hanging off that little rope of transfigured carbon nanotubes and when they changed back to thread it was definitely going to snap and lots of really heavy weights falling is always kind of dangerous, even if it's just a few feet of the ground.
- Carbon nanotubes are nanoscience; the molecules could have separated and been inhaled by anyone in the area. This is dangerous due to real-life concerns about nanoscience and in-universe transfiguration sickness.
Quirrel and Voldemort
- I don't really see why everyone thinks Quirrel is/is possessed by Voldemort. The entire time I just figured that the canon character was a sufficiently blank slate that, once the whole "Voldemort's servant" thing and the associated nervousness was taken away, could be repurposed to use as The Mentor and given enough character traits to add another dynamic to the story. And influence Harry, of course. Quirrel may be Dark, but he doesn't seem to have much relation to Voldemort if you ask this troper.
- The author bragged about his Voldemort using the Pioneer Plaque as a Horcrux in the Author's Notes on Fan Fiction.net. Those notes have since be replaced by notes for the fifty-some-odd chapters since that time.
- Perhaps those author's notes didn't mean Voldemort literally, but simply meant that Quirrel was the primary powerful dark character with antagonistic schemes. (though I had no opportunity to read those notes myself)
- Here. The author explicitly states that Quirrel is Voldemort, and that we should know by this point.
- That's all assuming the author isn't lying.
- Shouldn't it be Harry Potter-Evans-Verres and the Methods of Rationality?
- Artifact Title, plain and simple.
- He's still almost exclusively referred to as only Potter anyway, probably because the full name is a mouthful and he's still Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived to most of the wizarding world.
- As previously stated, Muggles have little to no legal status in magical Britain. Evans-Verres is the Muggle part of his name, and thus not recognized as part of his name in the eyes of the magical law. As far as the wizarding world on concerned his full name is Harry James Potter.
- Why is Harry so death averse? He claims to be a preference utilitarian, but the sorting hat had no desire to live, yet Harry didn't want it to die.
- It takes a hell of a lot of mental fortitude to hold to your philosophical beliefs enough to say it's ok for someone you have no grudge against and are talking to at that very moment (no writing it off as a statistic or just not thinking about it) to die at the end of a conversation. Especially when it's not like utilitarianism tells him that the hat should die either; at most it tells him that if the hat isn't interested in life, it's not as much of a tragedy. But he wouldn't happily sit by and let Dumbledore die just because he said it was his time and was ok with it, so I don't think there's even that.
- Utilitarianism did tell him that the hat should die. The hat wasn't just neutral about living. It was against it.
- He may claim to be a preference utilitarian, but he seems to be a classic utilitarian with a narcissistic bent.
- It could be because of the (originally) buried memory of his parents death. Consider what he did after it came to the surface. Also it is possible that the Hat is always sapient, but that it was just messing with Harry and trying not to answer his last question.
- Why does Harry reject the idea of Horcruxes? You can't save more than half the population, so it's hardly a permanent solution, but you could kill half of the people right before they die, and save the other half. This would work as a hold-over until Harry becomes God. Given my understanding of canon, this wouldn't actually work, but Harry wouldn't have no that yet.
- You wouldn't be able to save half the population like that since only wizards can make Horcruxes.
- Because Mercy Kills don't count- in canon, the word used is murder, as in, premeditated, evil, malicious murder. Much like the Cruciatus Curse (I'm just guessing here) you need to really mean it.
- There are several canon reasons it wouldn't work. The issue here is that they were not explained to Harry before he dismissed them.
- Plus you have to remember that this is the same 11 year old who decided that he needs to become God so he can make sure no one not even murderers have to suffer. It is very doubtful he would ever accept the death of a single person if he has an opportunity to prevent it and I have a hard time seeing him willing to kill a person; he was concerned about plants.
- Well the plants were possibly people at the time
- Unless he plans to become god within the next half a second, someone is going to die. If he implements a partial solution, he can save some of the people who would have died waiting for the full solution.
- That one's easy. He doesn't want anyone to die, and he sure as hell isn't going to do it himself if he put up a fight with "killing" the hat. How on Earth would he live with himself even if he was somehow capable of killing one half of the population to save the other, let alone convincing people that it's the right thing to do. It's the classic "not in my yard" defense.
- Now that we have the explanation of how the horcrux works, we see why it wouldn't help. A horcrux is created by killing someone violently to ensure they become a ghost (Thus eliminating any mercy-kill plans) then overwrites the ghost with the imprint of the killer. The ghost is then bound to a cursed artefact so that it can possess the next person to touch it. Harry wouldn't be killing half the population to make the rest immortal, he'd be killing two thirds of the population (for each horcrux you need one ghost and possessed person) to at most double the lifespan of the rest.
Knowledge of Parseltongue
- How did Harry not already know that he could talk to snakes? Canon!Harry found it out on his zoo outing, surely Rational!Harry's parents would have taken him to the zoo at least once?
- He probably was too busy, you know, interacting with his family (or anyone else there with him) rather than running off to brood in a corner and discovering that his talking to himself is being responding to.
- I also get the feeling that no matter how young rational!Harry wouldn't try talking to an animal with such a simple nervous system.
- In canon, the snake started the conversation.
The Perfect Crime
- In what way can a crime that hinges on an eleven-year-old boy be considered "the perfect crime"?
- "The perfect crime" is simply a label for any crime that is not discovered to be a crime. And it's not just any eleven-year-old boy we're talking about.
Draco and wizardly inheritance
- Why was Draco shocked to discover how wizardry is inherited? Why did he think it will drive a wedge between him and his dad? Mendelian inheritance actually proves Lucius' blood purity in both theory(magic is in the blood) and strategy(inbreeding preserves magical ability, outbreeding dilutes it). Wouldn't it be more divisive to learn it's really Magic Goes Away or Muggle Tech suppressing magic? Sure, he can no longer justify killing muggleborns like Hermionie, but they're actually just descendants of forgotten squibs. Am I missing something here?
- According to Mo R!blood purists, the weakening in magic anyone could observe was caused by dilution of blood, but since Harry somewhat proved that magic is not weakening because of that reason, and that muggelborns are not weaker than purebloods, Lucius' whole castle in the air crumbles, thus Draco is pretty shocked.The problem is that interbreeding in the Mo R-verse is not a cause for loss of subjective magical power.
- At least in the Mo R-verse, power and wealth in the wizarding world used to be extremely concentrated in the noble houses. To a large degree it still is, to the point Draco thinks he could beat a rape charge no problem. Lucius may be somewhat concerned with preserving magical power, but acceptance of muggleborns would create an emerging middle class of wizards who are not indebted to the Noble Houses (remember that home or business loans are typically handled by asking the Noble you're friendliest with) and may soon develop and deploy financial techniques unheard of in Wizarding Britain to vastly upset the socio-economic balance, whose families cannot be easily leveraged against them because of muggle protection laws, and, as evidenced by Hermione, hold the potential to become some of the greatest wizards of their generations. Claiming the suppression of muggleborns is about blood purism and the preservation of magical strength is just a way to motivate the wizard underclasses who otherwise would likely be loathe to support the Noble houses.
- That would makes sense if Draco were upset about socio-politics like house Malfoy losing power to Grangers of the world. But he was upset about having to "sacrifice" a false belief and either disagree or pretend around Lucius. Except the belief Was. Not. False. He doesn't have to pretend or argue. Their relationship is not in danger and he doesn't need to test the patronus. It makes no sense for him to feel he does.
- Lucius' and Draco-pre-experiment's belief was predicated on wizardry being passed strictly through purebloods interbreeding with purebloods, and anyone else who had access to magic having acquired it through some illegitimate means that was making magic weaker over time. Aside from other less obvious differences, Draco having "sacrificed" his belief in strict blood purism means that if Draco were to, e.g. learn Lucius had been somehow misled into believing he had found the source of non-pureblood's magic and was preparing to spend a good chuck of resources eliminating it, would now have to either plead ignorance and watch his father blow resources on something he knows to be futile, or risk confronting his father about the nature of magic transmission which could lead to Lucius possibly cutting Draco out of the family or at least out of real power, or worse. Draco is anguished because at first he only sees that Harry has made it impossible for him to in good conscience support fully the positions of his father, and has to have it pointed out that he's also made it possible for Draco to avert a crisis he wouldn't have even noticed as his old self.
- Draco's belief (and that of the other wizard supremists) was that magic was getting weaker due to interbreeding. The evidence suggested that people either have magic or don't have magic, and that breeding has nothing to do with the strength of that magic.
- The reason for that is pretty simple - Harry and Draco are both kids, so even if they are supposed to be smart for their age in this story, it doesn't change the fact that some things elude them. Draco understood that muggleborns aren't making magic weaker, but he couldn't see that they were descendants of squibs since Harry didn't convey this one to him. And honestly, they didn't need to be descendants of squibs - if wizard had a child with a completely non-magical muggle, the resulting child would be a carrier of the wizarding gene, but couldn't use magic. If the gene was still there after a few generations, everyone would forget that there was a wizard in the family, but that doesn't stop the possibility of two carriers getting lucky (or not) and having a child that is capable of using magic.
- One thing that bugs me is Harry's 26 hour sleep schedule. No explanation is given for it whatsoever. Everything else makes sense to me; I'm willing to accept that canon!Harry was mentally oppressed by the Dursleys that he flinched away from the sort of studying that would have let his genius flourish, but the sleep schedule just seems like a reason to give him a Time Turner. Okay, that's obviously what it is, but usually there's an explanation regardless.
- It's actually a rare neurological condition in real-life. Reality Is Unrealistic?
- The author has this problem in real life, one of the author's notes about a hundred chapters in mentions he finally got meds that work to treat it.
- With the Dursleys: Harry gets worked to the bone and is forced to wake up early to do things like prepare breakfast or suffer the consequences of the Dursleys' wrath. If he had natural Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (or rather, a strong predisposition towards developing it), he would have had it tormented out of him and wouldn't even have noticed the difference with no comparison group beyond Dudley and some normal people. With the Verreses: Harry gets treated fairly, but Mr. Verres and Petunia might not have been willing to cause Harry the sort of stress and immune suppression that forcing him to stay awake during the day for several months would have taken, which can be necessary by the time Acquired Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is noticeable enough to cause social and health problems. Since state schools are notoriously horrible when it comes to getting an excellent education, and cheap, desperate-for-payment tutors were available, the typical reason for going through sleep retraining (school, or jobs for older people) no longer applies.
- Dumbledore did it.
- Seriously. Chapter 119 reveals that, in Harry's youth, Dumbledore had given him a potion to extend his daily cycle by two hours. Evidently, the potion was invented specifically for people who use Time-Turners. He also killed Harry's pet rock, for some reason.
Squibs and wizard genetics
- If the capacity for magic is based on a single recessive allele, how do 2 wizarding parents have a Squib? The theory Harry comes up with is that Squibs have a dominant allele that prevents them from using magic but can still pass on the magic recessive allele. Since a wizard has to have 2 copies of the recessive allele, a wizard parent doesn't have a dominant allele to pass on. If Harry's theory is correct, there are three possible ways to produce a Squib:
- A) The Squib have a Muggle parent. Even in this world, you'd think someone would have noticed the pattern. It would be Purebloods' favorite argument.
- B) Mutation. Even factoring in that some genes are more prone to mutation, Squibs seem too common for this to be the only explanation.
- Unless magic has similar effects to ionizing radiation.
- C) Mom was schtupping a Muggle on the sly. This one seems the most plausible. Its not hard to imagine a wizarding family arranging a quick marriage to avoid a scandal. That's a lot of bastards, though.
- It could be the result of an Epistatic Gene. The squib is missing the gene so even if they have the two recessive alleles they are unable to express it.
- In one of the author's notes Yudkowsky has mentioned that while Harry's theory seems to fit the facts, it's not the only possible theory that does, especially given that he hasn't specifically studied genetics too deeply and that the magic gene is most likely artificial.
- Author Tract on pet physics theories aside, how the hell does partial transmutation work? Assuming it's a local reaction is impossible since it would be contagious to the rest of the object or revoked. And if he is playing around with what things could have been, that doesn't make any sense unless it's some sort of bug in the magic system that someone had to have figured out earlier. Even if it deal with physics at an otherwise incomprehensible level, isn't that messing with something that could turn Hogwarts into a radioactive crater on a good day, and the worst case scenario involves the Time Fractures?
- This is freaking magic. Ahem: "the Universe doesn't care how you think magic should work any more than it cares how you feel about gravity.''
- You know what, there's a bigger issue at hand. How come no one else has tried to pick apart the magic system before now? There should be some sort or archive of mad rambling from some wizard tinkerer that should have caught Harry's eye at some point.
- Because very few wizards have any ounce of logic or scientific background. Scientific method just isn't something that's taught to wizards, so that just leaves muggle-borns, and most people still aren't very scientific. The wizards are told the rules, and they follow them without seeing why. Also, Harry was only able to do partial transfiguration based on an in-depth knowledge of quantum physics, something wizards just don't know anything about. Also, that's kind of the entire point of the fanfic, isn't it? That in the actual canon of Harry Potter, no one actually does try to scientifically approach science; if they did, they'd notice that a lot of things don't quite make sense. So the author is running with that and showing one person who actually does try to apply science to magic, and is baffled when no one else has even tried what seems obvious to him.
- The amount of knowledge necessary to do partial transfiguration is insane. You can do complete transfiguration believing in Aristotelian physics, but currently known and generally accepted physics is not sufficient for partial transfiguration. It won't work if you believe that time exists as an explicit dimension. It is well within the realm of possibility that no wizard or muggle in on the [[Masquerade]] even heard of timeless physics.
- But if it's only a theory to begin with and the only thing in it's favor is that it hasn't been proven wrong, then how can Harry be so sure that Timeless Physics would allow partial transmutation in the first place? Isn't that the equivalent of taking a controversial theory as pure truthiness and not accepting an answer otherwise, even if it does cause the meltdown of reality as we know it? That seems like a big ass case of Harry Bias right there, especially right after Harry learned his lesson about playing around with Transfiguration and "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" even earlier.
- Harry didn't have to know that timeless physics was right, he was experimenting. He was testing the hypothesis that partial transfiguration is a conceptual limit and he tried several views/approaches - several were disproved, one of them happened to be right. That's how science works, you check your ideas with experiments.
As for safety issues? Did you miss the part where, after he goes to Minerva&Dumbledore, he apologizes to Hermione and later admits that what he was doing was crazy/very dangerous?
Sunshine Regiment first battle
- How did Hermione and the Sunshine Regiment win their first battle? It's said Quirrel helped her by using some trick of wording in the papers detailing the armies' supplies, but how, and if he did why didn't they win more battles? I had the feeling at first that maybe Quirrel wrote out the list of soldiers in both armies in columns and signed his name underneath SR's column so he could help them, but it's implied Hermione somehow got more soldiers, or had her soldiers awoken from the Sleep Hexes without breaking the rules.
- The soldiers in the Sunshine Regiment were only pretending to have been hexed; after Dragon Army and the Chaos Legion were weakened from fighting each other, the never-defeated-in-the-first-place Sunshine Regiment soldiers simply stood up, returned to the fight, and overwhelmed the survivors from the other two armies. (And Quirrel's "help" consisted of assigning soldiers to Hermione who could help her come up with the kinds of devious plans that wouldn't come naturally to her.)
- Quirrel's help was writing in the rules that you could ask other people in you army to help strategize and both Draco and Harry had too big of egos to even consider doing this.
- There was nothing in the rules explicit about that, as far as we know. The help was that he had assigned to Hermione's army all those people that Draco Malfoy himself had considered possibilities for the place of General (Zabini, Goldstein, Macmillan). So in short, the help was she had been given the best lieutenants there were.
- Why is the founding of Hogwarts constantly referred to as being "eight hundred years ago"? The canon only identified it as "a thousand years ago" about a zillion times. Did Eliezer seriously miss this? Am I really the first person to notice this?
- In Chapter 77, Eliezer places a saying of Godric Gryffindor at 1202 C.E. So it may simply be that he has deliberately chosen that century, for reasons of his own.
- Roger Bacon lived in the thirteenth century (just under 800 years before 1992). Professor Quirrell, when giving Harry "Roger Bacon's" diary, he said that Bacon had declined his invitation and opted not to go to Hogwarts.
- But that doesn't explain why Eliezer changed the founding date. If Hogwarts was founded a thousand years ago in HPMOR just as in canon, it would obviously be around in Roger Bacon's time.
- Maybe Eliezer wanted the Secrecy to coincide with the discovery of the scientific method.
British pop-culture references
- Harry is supposed to be an English science fiction fan in 1991-1992. Admittedly it was cancelled in 1989, but...where are the Doctor Who references?
- I suspect that the (American) author probably doesn't know Doctor Who very well.
- He doesn't seem to reference Star Trek either, even though 1991 is at the height of height of Star Trek: The Next Generation's popularity (not to mention Star Trek VI was in theaters). Maybe Harry just doesn't like mainstream science fiction. (But then again, he references Star Wars... )
- Star Wars is special, obviously.
- In chapter 28, "phasers" are one of the things Hermione tried to transfigure and Harry lists Captain Picard as one of his heroes in chapter 52. (I wonder if Harry hated missing TNG's fifth season while being without televisions at Hogwarts. Maybe he had his parents tape it for him.)
- Harry is more into science fiction literature rather than television. There are exceptions, but generally most of his references are to literary work.
Timeline of theories
- According to Wikipedia, timeless physics was discovered in 1999. If this takes place in 1991-1992, how does Harry know about it? Did he work it out himself?
- When was the theory submitted to peer review? These things are often sent to be studied by the scientific community before it is submitted to the general public.
- Eliezer said that he's ignoring dates and times when it comes to science&scientific theories - he's presenting the most modern available view, even if it's incompatible with the 1991 timeline. If you want an in-universe explanation, just assume that those theories/discoveries have been made earlier in Mo Rverse.
Impossible Partial Transfiguration
- Where did the author even get the idea that partial transfiguration is impossible or even difficult? Canon is constantly describing the effects of students making mistakes when trying to tranfigure an object - mistakes that leave parts of the object in its transfigured state and parts in the original. Surely this wouldn't be hard to replicate on purpose.
- One should note that Transifguration in HPATHM is stated to work differently than the main one, having No Ontological Inertia and even a first year can transfigure anything into anything else if given enough time and is allow to concentrate. Also, "failed" ones in the books results in, say, a badly cup transfigured from a rat will have brown fur or something that effects the entire cup rather than just part of the cup.
- Even if effects in canon did look like partial transfiguration, they aren't inconsistent with Mo R!transfiguration rules. Under Mo R rules, you can use normal transfiguration to create an effect that looks a lot like partial transfiguration, it just takes longer. You can't transfigure part of a metal ball, but you 'can' transigure a whole metal ball into a ball made mostly of metal and a little bit made of something else.
- In chapter 33, Harry suspects, and confirms, that Wingardium Leviosa becomes a whole new sort of weapon once everyone is swimming underwater. So, how does it change?
- You can use it to move people in lots of different directions, or simply that people stay in a given orientation when the Charm is lifted?
- Because water is more dense than air, it makes things go upward much faster than normal. So you cast it on someone and they're no longer anywhere near you. Or you cast it on an object and let it go flying into someone above it.
- It's also not safe to use as a weapon on dry ground, because you have to either keep concentrating to keep someone up, or let them fall, which could hurt or even kill them. But when used deep underwater, it just quickly moves them to a different underwater spot.
Squibs and muggles
- Squib is someone who has magical parent but no magical abilities. muggle is someone who has no magical parents and no magical abilities. So how can a child of a magical and a muggle parent be "either magical, or squib, or muggle?" If one parent is magical, the child can't be muggle anymore.
- There is a difference between squibs and muggles besides parents. A squib can use some magical items like potions which would not work for a muggle. One issue is that a squib living in the muggle world is indistinguishable from a muggle as they would not interact with magic.
- "A Squib is someone who was born into a wizarding family but hasnít got any magic powers. Kind of the opposite of Muggle-born wizards, but Squibs are quite unusual."
- Since a Squib is simply someone nonmagical who has magical parents, it could really be a whole host of different genetic combinations. Harry theorizes that the Muggle parents of Muggleborns may in fact be Squibs, as such having one copy of the recessive magical gene each, creating a one in four chance that any of their children would become magical. As for "fullblood Squibs", it could be something as simple as a genetic error suppressing one or both copies of the magical gene; it could be a random mutation; it could be same sort of thing that happens when two homozygotic parents of a recessive gene still end up passing on a dominant gene (for instance blond parents having a dark-haired baby). It could even be that the magical gene (or set of genes) is not recessive, but simply rare.
Slytherins and the Patronus Charm
- Was the whole "Slytherins don't/can't cast the Patronus Charm" something that showed up in canon, or was it made up whole cloth? I don't really remember any Slytherins using it, but I can't recall it being stated outright. Likewise, what about Merlin's Interdiction?
- The Interdict of Merlin does not exist in canon, as far as I know.
- I don't think the Slytherin Patronus thing is canon either. It's never mentioned, plus you have Snape cast a Patronus in the 7th book (the doe).
- Well, Snape really doesn't count, all things considered.
- In general, MOST of the mentioned Slytherins couldn't cast the Patronus Charm in canon, simply because so many of those mentioned were related to Death Eaters, who either couldn't or didn't need to cast it.
- Specifically, Death Eaters (minus Snape) can't cast a Patronus according to Rowling, "because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses"; in at least fanon if not canon, it's because they've committed murder or other heinous crimes, which is required to take the Dark Mark (How that works out with Snape is its own issue).
- Uh... but isn't there in the book Lucius Malfoy having a Peacock Patronus?
- No, Lucius Malfoy owns a white peacock. It is not a patronus.
Comed-Tea and godhood
- Why did Harry give up on the tactic for achieving godhood by manipulating his sense of humor and drinking comed-tea? "Drawing the causality arrows backwards" does not explain why this wouldn't work: it was not thirst that lead Harry to buy comed-tea, and if the effects of comed-tea are significant enough to cause all the changes in events necessary to make him buy a lot of comed-tea at that moment, it is at least still extremely powerful. In the same vein, it seems at least implausible that Harry and Draco would come across so many things to cough up their drinks for, relative to normal days, which also provides evidence for the fact that comed-tea increases the probability of funny things happening. This means that at worst, you could work the stock market of the entertainment industry by watching the comed-tea sales, and at best comed-tea constrains all possible universes retroactively to ones where something subjectively funny is about to happen, still making godhood through comed-tea possible. Even if you can make arguments for how it might not work, the point is that Harry never scientifically/rationally determined it couldn't work.
- Comed-Tea works like the Time-Turner, in that the Universe can compute itself with information from the future. So the Comed-Tea "knows" when to send the impulse to drink it at the exact moment that'll mean you are swallowing it when you see something funny. Real-life spit-takes are rarer because it's quite hard to be swallowing something at exactly the right moment. Perhaps it's also easier to choke on Comed-Tea.
- If I recall correctly, the project was explicitly put on the back burner because he was out of tea, and intended (still intends, if he still considers it significant) to use it to his advantage if at all possible without compromising his sense of reasoning once he was able to purchase more. Considering he is sixty thousand Galleons in debt to House Malfoy in the name of Lucius Malfoy, in a way that Draco probably can't rescind as an unavailable Heir of House Malfoy, he's probably not going to be buying many cans of soft drink any time soon.
- Actually, Harry gets his cash back when Hermione dies and the Potter and Malfoy houses ally against Dumbledore.
- I always thought that the Comed-Tea was really just a big series of coincidences, and Harry was making a mistake. Using the Comed-tea to explain phenomenon, when they were, in actuality, separate events. Every time he busted the tea out, it was in anticipation, and then he backwards-explained the cause. Busting the tea out seems like a good test for an anticipated experience, but I think it just took the form of a sort of... unnecessary yet compelling device that didn't really affect anything. Like Dumbo's feather.
- The morverse, and I'm making a small assumption here, has the following six hours already written, kinda like miniture fate, unchangable. Set in stone. No matter what time it is the next six hours are going to happen one way and one way only.(As shown by time turners) No exceptions. Comed-tea is charmed to cause and impulse to drink when it detects an action, or phrase, anything, within the next few minutes that would cause it's owner to spit-take. Which means that it can be used as precognition for humor.
- An alternative to that: the comed-tea is magically tied to intuition, so that, when your intuition picks up on surprising events to happen in the next few seconds, it urges you to drink.
- Discovering that Comed-Tea acts like the Time-Turner means that the alter-my-humour-then-drink plan fails for the following reason. It presumably has two charms on it, the first discouraging you from drinking it when nothing funny is about to happen to prevent drinks without a spit-take (cf. Harry missing obvious tests like trying to drink in a locked room with his eyes closed), the second encouraging you to drink when something is about to happen to ensure that you actually drink the soda at the possible times (plus maybe something that makes you over-react to funny stuff so that the funny thing in question causes a spit-take). Given the weirdness of the wizarding world, this is enough to ensure the right result all the time for people withnormal senses of humour. If Harry was to alter his humour to laugh only at a single impossible thing, all that would happen is that the first charm would go into overdrive and Harry wouldn't drink it at all.
- The Comed-Tea story thread is designed to address a frequent complaint about the 6th canon book/movie: the Felix Felicis potion. The potion is clearly just a plot device to make Harry's interactions with Slughorn a bit more amusing. If a potion actually did exist to create good fortune, any halfway sensible wizard would be constantly brewing stockpiles of the stuff for use during crisis situations (eg Harry's frequent shootouts with Death Eaters). The only explanation: the potion doesn't actually create the good fortune, it merely anticipates it via prophecy and then compels the owner to drink it just beforehand.
Background check for Quirrel
- Did Dumbledore check Quirrel's documents when Quirinus applied to school staff? Quirrel claims to be Slytherin, but the real Quirinus Quirrel was a Ravenclaw, that already must have made Albus cautious. It's just... not Dumbledore's style to merely circle Q as the new DADA professor without making an investigation on his true identity. And yet Quirrel says that Dumbledore is oblivious to his not actually true identity and agreed to not inquire.
- Hogwarts has had some really, really bad Defence Professors, then the hyper-competent Quirrell comes along and agrees to teach a near-suicidal position, on the caveat that nobody asks about his identity. Dumbledore (and more tellingly, MCGONAGALL), of course, accepted in an instant.
Hermione's parents location
- So do Hermione's parents just happen to live in Oxford or did the story skip over some huge drive? And why do they have such a gigantic house? Does being a dentist really pay so astronomically better than being an Oxford professor?
- The story probably did skip the drive - what would be the point of writing about Harry and his parents driving - and dentists do earn a lot.
- Pretty sure the Grangers live in London.
Defense professor curse
- Given the reason that the Defense professor's job is cursed in canon, aka because Voldemort cursed it upon being denied the job when he applied, and given that Quirrel is actually Voldemort, wouldn't the job no longer be cursed in this reality?
- It would look incredibly suspicious if Quirrell managed to survive the jinx laid on the position by Voldemort that has got all of his predecessors fired.
- I think you're forgetting that Quirrell has a rule about no suspicious enquiries about him. Besides, the author has stated that this fic will only last first year and, letting Quirrell continue to teach is hardly "destroying all but a remnant" of him.
- Source? I (random other person) was under the impression that the only thing he'd said about year 1 was that MoR Year 1 would cover the events of Canon Years 1-7, not that it would end there.
- It was cursed in canon, too. My own suspicion is that he averted/subverted the curse by changing the name of the post (to Battle Magic).
- How do half-bloods exist? Unless the Muggle is actually a Squib, and in most cases I assume that they would not be, surely any child would have one magic gene and one non-magic gene and be a squib. And surely someone would've noticed by now if half-blood children were only wizards if their non-magical parent was a squib.
- I always thought that differences between purebloods/half-bloods and muggleborn are purely social and cultural.
- If you understand the thing about magical alleles, it is not that surprising that quite a lot of the Muggle population are in fact Squibs.
- I think EY's theory of wizard genetics is flawed, but one possible answer to your question is that wizards have some sort of intuition that causes them to feel attracted to squibs (which includes distant descendents of wizards, not just first-generation squibs) but not ordinary muggles. (Think Voldemort's mother's crush on Riddle sr.)
- Really early, say chapter 6 or so, Professor Minerva mentions that it was Sirius Black who betrayed Harry's parents. But later on we find out that it was Bellatrix who apparently betrayed them. What gives?
- Where does it say that?
- Moreover, how could she betray them? They never trusted her.
- what conversation put Severus Snape in mind of LSD, that he references in chapter 63?
- During Harry's frantic attempts to figure out how Hermione had been manipulated, Snape put forth the theory that muggle drugs had been used to influence her actions. From there, it's simple enough to see how he could imagine them to have interesting effects if put in the resurrection ritual.
- Except that the conversation about Hermione happened after the poisoning of the bones. The conversation in question is the discussion of rockets and other muggle technology and their involvement in the Rescuing Bellatrix from Azkaban incident.
Renting a Potions textbook
- Why did Harry pay two Sickles to rent a fifth-year Potions textbook, when he already had his mother's fifth-year Potions textbook?
- He didn't; he rented a seventh-year textbook.
- Well, why would he rent a seventh-year textbook when he already had a fifth-year textbook that he hadn't read?
- Because he felt too good for a 5th year book but not a 7th year book? I don't actually recall the event you are referencing, but I think it may have been part of a deception to cover up the true meaning of why he was sending the message...
- Now it's me who isn't sure what event you are referencing, but I meant the one before the Taboo Tradeoffs battle when Harry figures out why potions work.
- Found it. Apparently he needed to check a hypothesis he had and was too lazy to go all the way down to the library so he just paid a sickle to a 7th year to borrow his book for 5 minutes. Likely he wanted 7th year as it's more advanced than 5th year.
Atlantis and magical government
- If Merlin was from Atlantis, why isn't the Wizengamot in Greece?
- Because Atlantis is, in some interpretations of the legend, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean (and in yet others, is explicitly identified with Ireland or Great Britain). In the original Greek legend, it was located in the Straits of Gibraltar, where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea met, between Spain and North Africa, and so in fact was not near Greece at all.
- Merlin is a British legend. It follows that he lived in Britain, in-legend.
Lily and Slytherin
- If Lily was Good through and through, how did she fail to mention to her best friend that he had gotten Sorted into SS Junge?
- Why is Harry bothered about the form of the quantum Hamiltonian when McGonagall turns into a cat in Ch. 2? If she's violating conservation of energy, then the shift symmetry of time goes out the window - Noether's theorem is, well, a mathematical theorem; you can't violate a mathematical theorem by magic, any more than you could cast a spell that would make 2+2=5 - so, either there's no shift symmetry of time, or the universe cannot be modelled by a Lagrangian. Either of those would be *far* more dramatic than merely reformulating the Hamiltonian; we did that when QFT replaced traditional QM in the 1950s. Given that I really don't want to give up the shift symmetry of time (yuk! results of experiments differ depending on when you do them? The amounts of difference you'd need for Transfiguration would demolish the entire regularity of the laws of physics, to the point that atomic nuclei would casually fall apart) we have to assume that the universe cannot be modelled by a Lagrangian. Which is messy as hell. Yes, the quantum Hamiltonian is a Lagrangian, but throwing out the generalised structure, not just a single special-case is, wow, really mind-blowing.
- He was just upset that his entire model of the universe was falling apart.
- In Chapter 39, Harry mentions a test for the Resurrection Stone which he prevents himself from saying. Any idea what it was?
- "For example, call back... Voldemort Ė no, wait, forget it. He would just lie about where the Chamber of Secrets is and send us all to our deaths..."
- "... My parents."
- "For example, call back Pierre de Fermat and ask him what his truly marvelous demonstration of his A^n+B^n=C^n where N>2 was, without all the modern math used by Wiles... Wait, no, the proof came a decade and a half before the knowledge of Timeless Space that Elizier Yudkowsky's letting me know, but a year after my present..." (The most plausible way I've been able to interpret it was "Ask my dead birth parents about something like Lily's lost earring- wait, no, let's make that someone less emotionally relevant to myself..." but I'm hoping someone else, or a definitive statement by EZ, will better answer the above headscratcher.)
- While I can't tell the exact wording, I'd think the first test that sprang to mind would be to prepare the tests with someone before they die.
- No, that wouldn't be able to falsify Harry's primary hypothesis for the nature of the Resurrection Stone; since he thinks that the 'ghost' is just a projection made from memory, setting something up that you knew about would yield exactly the same results whether there was an actual afterlife being contacted or only a memory.
- Trivial: find someone about to die, ask them to write down a secret phrase and put it in an envelope. After they die, bring them back and ask them about it (remember, you don't know the phrase), then once they've answered check it against the contents of the envelope. Insert 6-hour waits as needed to avoid potential time-turner nonsense. Mind you, the test could still be fooled if the stone were somehow storing "save-states" of every wizard who ever died in a similar way to horcruxes, but it would still clearly discriminate between that and the stone working off the memory of the holder. There doesn't seem to be any meaningful way to test the save-state case against the true communication case, however, because both would result in the person brought back having access to anything they had in life plus potentially more (cross-contamination and afterlife experiences, respectively). At that point, the question would really become whether there was a meaningful difference between the two at all, or whether the stone might as well be the IT Crowd version of the afterlife.
- In the next chapter, we get a pretty strong hint as to what it was - Harry mentions that he has a few questions for the ancient Atlanteans and Merlin.
Lesath in chapter 88
- Why didn't Lesath answer The Call when Harry called for fifth-years in chapter 88?
- Chapter 92 answers this; Lesath was thinking "I shouldn't stand out, because Harry told me not to."
- What was the last decision of the survivors of the eighty-eighth Wizengamot? What did the non-survivors die of?
- Given that the protocol covers when the Wizengamot can be adjourned, the obvious guess is that something happened which meant they couldn't adjourn a meeting for years, until people had died of old age or starvation.
Goblin rights and others
- Harry seems to be adamant about goblin rights but he dismisses house elves as a slave species. How the hell is that justified?
- Because house elves enjoy being enslaved, while goblins clearly do not. I imagine he's got "make sure house elves aren't being mistreated" somewhere on his list, but they're a lower priority than the dangerously disgruntled race that controls the wizarding world's economy.
- They are also conditioned to mutilate themselves for failure, unless that part was dropped - I don't remember if it was ever mentioned. It stands to reason that their "enjoyment" is enforced upon them, like mental "stick and carrot". I agree that there are worse aspects of the wizarding world that Harry tackles heads on, like Azkhaban, but it is indeed strange that he doesn't spare a single thought about the brainwashing of an entire species.
- Also, while house elves have an alien psychology goblins are a Human Subspecies in this fic, making the laws against their rights much more straightforwardly bigotry.
- The few sentences written about it seem to imply that he thinks of House elves as something akin to AI (created by a wizard) that is programmed to enjoy their toil. I'd speculate that the reason Harry calls this hypothetical wizard "unspeakably evil" is that he made AI that had feelings in the first place. Harry thinks it more respectful to let them be, apparently.
- In the Self-Actualization arc, why do the SPHEW constantly get punished by the teachers, while the bullies they are fighting against get away scot-free? I don't mean just Snape's final humiliation of Hermione (which, though crazy, is explained away by Dumbledore as a political act for protecting Hermione from reprisals). But why does it happen even in cases like in Chapter 73, where the bullies take Hannah hostage (who wasn't even participating in that particular fight), and attack Susan/Tonks so viciously that if she hadn't been a metamorphmagus in disguise, she probably would have been killed, or have a broken skull at least. Yet, when the fight is over, Flitwick gives the SPHEW members detentions, though all they did was defend one of their own. As far as we know, Flitwick isn't involved in the tortuous Slytherin politics, so what's his excuse for being so blatantly unfair?
- Dumbledore must have warned him.
- Bullies are a problem because authorities usually empathize with them. The bullies were just out for a bit of "harmless" fun, but SPHEW was out looking for a fight, so obviously they're the ones with the problem right? Just ask people who've actually fought back against a bully, usually they're the ones who get in more trouble. Add in a bit of wizarding classism since the bullies had better connected families. It probably also connects to Dumbledore not wanting to stick his neck out in order to conserve his power base.
- The Forge-prank referenced in chapter 98: Were they live millipedes transfigured into something else, or were they something else transfigured into live millipedes? If the former, wouldn't being transfigured kill the millipedes, or does it only work like that with humans? (For instance, in canon, they practiced transfiguring live animals into drinking goblets.) If the latter, what was gross about it, and why call it "transfigured live millipedes" as opposed to "transfigured whatever-they-got-transfigured-into" as that seems to be the way people talk in this universe?
- We haven't learned much about Charm/Potion Transfigurations yet, other than they can do things safely that are exceedingly dangerous with Free Transfigurations. Like allow a person to change into a cat and back, or permanently make your sister thinner and more attractive. Either way, its a Noodle Incident, you should really just relax.
- It's really the wrong section for telling people the MST3K Mantra. You can tell because it's titled "headscratchers".
- Once a Transfiguration wears off, the original Form reasserts itself, mapped somehow to changes in the Transfigured Form. So long as the Transfigured form was a static, solid object, the mapping would be precise enough that there would be no visible change and you would feel fine for a while before getting very sick and dying. The twins could have just transfigured the millipedes into grains of sand or dust particles, poured them in, and when the transfiguration wore off, the millipedes would be quite alive for as long as they needed to be. Carefully timed, this wouldn't need to be more than a few seconds. Also, millipedes have much simpler bodily systems than a human - very little in terms of a nervous, respiratory, or circulatory system, and probably a much higher tolerance for all sorts of environmental changes. They probably wouldn't shake off transfiguration sickness, but they might last considerably longer than a human.
Burning the bristles
- How did the fire from the rocket not burn the bristles of the broomstick?
- Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the precise attachment/configuration of the rocketbroom was ever described in the chapter. With that in mind, the rocket might well have just been attached so as to protrude far enough beyond the end of the broomstick where the flame wouldn't go near it. Failing that, it may be common practice to ward broomsticks against fire (certainly possible, and rather sensible) or Quirrel may have placed a special set of protections on the broom they intended to promptly ride through a firefight regardless of his knowledge of the rocket (wizards are often insensible, but Quirrel is a notable exception).
Code to past self
- Did anyone figure out the code Harry used on himself when he sent a message to his past self? I know what the message was, but not how the code he wrote was supposed to convey that.
- That is the point of using a code. Harry thought up a simple code he would use to encrypt a message from the future at some point. Probably when he was seven years old and watched Back to the Future or something. The point is only Harry, nobody else, knowing how to fake it or read it in case it was intercepted. That said it seemed to be a simple substitution cypher. Usually you look for the most common letter and assume it's e. Then you look for a three letter word ending in that letter and assume it's "The" or "She". Finally you look for a rule that transforms those three letters into t h and e, like mirroring the alphabet down the middle or going along x letters in the alphabet. If that doesn't work it's probably a slightly more difficult code and you need a larger sample and computers to analyze it.
- It helps, in this case, that the code itself was 13-letter rotation, or ROT13, which, amongst its other benefits, is both easy to remember and symmetrical. The resultant code translates to M-C-T-O-F-L S-I-L-V-E-R-O-N-T-H-E-T-R-E-E, which is simple enough: McGonagall to Flitwick is the first part's meaning.
- The Patronus can be used to send messages to anyone instantaneously, even in places where teleportation is limited. Chapter 53 spoilers: For example, Hogwarts and Azkaban. Why can't Harry send his Patronus to Azkaban while he stays at Hogwarts? Even if it's not possible, why has no one ever even asked about it? Chapter 85 spoilers: Especially after Harry becomes even more obsessed with destroying Azkaban and the Dementors.
Blocking the Killing Curse
- The Killing Curse can kill an animal. The Curse stops when it strikes an animal. Why is it not standard to block this Curse with insects or transfigured-ahead-of-time docile, light-weight animals? This bit of Fridge Logic applies also to canon, but it seems less forgivable in this fic.
- Maybe it only stops when it strikes that thing the caster was intending to strike? Being, you know, a curse, and not just a laser blast. This explanation doesn't apply to canon, where it is just a laser blast, but to the abyss with that canon.
- Ssecond victim pickss up horcrux device, device imprintss your memoriess into them. But only memoriess from time horcrux device wass made, said Quirrell in Parseltongue. So to remember his life up until the night he killed the Potters, or at least his thinking and plotting before then, Voldemort must have used the death of one of Harry's parents to create or update the horcrux that the real Quirrinus Quirrell found early in '91.
- The Horcrux the Quirrel found was type 2. Voldemort wouldn't have hidden the type ones.
- That can't be right. Voldemort told Harry that the real Quirrell was an adventurer who found one of the hidden-away horcruxes from his youth.
Quirrellmort: "Nine years and four months after that night, a wandering adventurer named Quirinus Quirrell won past the protections guarding one of my earliest horcruxes."
- If it was a 1.0 Horcrux he wouldn't remember his time in space from the plague. It wouldn't have been hidden as he knew how it worked. It was one of his earliest 2.0 horcruxs. He just leveled up his intelligence more than once and thought to start hiding them better. Also the real Quirrel was waking up when the 1.0 horcruxes overwrite the brain of the victim. There would have been no real Quirrel to wake up.
- I don't know if this is horror or brilliance, but if people can get permanently transfigured, then their bodies can no longer change and women can no longer get pregnant. Not of infertility, just that their bodies won't change to accommodate a growing fetus. One can only imagine what would happen if after many years (and many sexual encounters) a woman managed to reverse the permanency of the eternal youth transfiguration.
- Also, Harry may or may not be trapped in an eleven-year-old's body for ever. He is the master of the Stone, after all, so maybe he can keep doing something about it.
- The stone just prevents the transfiguration from wearing off. If you use the stone on yourself you still age.
- See, your second sentence contradicts your first sentence. Think I got it anyway, though.
- The stone doesn't actually make transfigurations permanent. It makes transfigurations real, as real as if it had arisen naturally. So Flamel was still aging, but would just transfigure himself younger every few years. That will make granting immortality to everyone a logistical nightmare, since they'll need periodic updates, but if nothing else it will give them a few centuries to come up with more permanent solutions.
- This definitely seems to be what Harry believes the stone does, in any case.
- I don't think the stone can turn you into an eternally young person - just young, if that's what you asked for. You will still be a person, and thus will be aging and changing.
- The discussion of Flamel giving out 'dollops' of youth to people s/he wanted to keep around for a while strongly implies that you age normally after the change made by the Stone. After all, if your body couldn't change at all then none of your biological processes would work anyway.
- Hermione might have the original form of this issue, though, given that she is constantly being transfigured back to the same form like a mountain troll. Age 12 forever?