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YMMV / Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

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  • Acceptable Targets: Two jabs at Atlas Shrugged.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Harry can be viewed as a paragon of goodness and hope, a highly flawed hero, self-centered prick with only the barest of good intentions or even a borderline Villain Protagonist. It mostly depends on whether the reader agrees with Harry's philosophy and how much of Harry's smugness they are willing to tolerate.
    • If Harry's theory about how Fred and George pranked Rita Skeeter is correct then the lovable tricksters could be seen as mind-raping someone with a false memory charm to destroy their career, thereby exposing them to the ire of very dangerous people. Harsher in Hindsight much?
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  • Awesome Ego: How the fans tend to view Harry. He is extremely arrogant, but he also happens to be a bordeline Magnificent Bastard who achieves Beyond the Impossible on daily basis.
  • Better Than Canon: To some fans, although obviously this is very heavily dependent on everyone's tastes.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Some of the many shout outs to the authors' preferred literature may veer into this for some readers, even if they do usually illustrate some point or other. While Harry and Dumbledore can be forgiven for this in light of their interest in muggle literature, readers may find it a little immersion-breaking when Malfoy or Quirrell start referencing transparent expies of Death Note or Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Broken Base: The "Self Actualization" arc faces a lot of criticism for being overdrawn, having relatively low stakes, being somewhat separated from the main plot and focusing on minor characters whom readers have little reason to care about. Still, the plot is sufficiently complex and the themes sufficiently interesting for some people to enjoy that part of the story.
  • Cargo Ship:
    • Once Harry realizes all the utility of a portable time machine.
      God he loved his Time-Turner and someday, when he was old enough, they would get married.
    • Don't forget:
      Harry was in love. It would be a three-way wedding: him, the Time-Turner, and Professor Quirrell.
  • Complete Monster: Professor Quirinus Quirrell, actually Tom Morfin Riddle, is a brilliant, magically gifted sociopath regarded as pure evil by everyone aware of his true nature. In his quest for eternal life, he creates over a hundred Horcruxes, personally murdering a single person for each one. Having fully ensured his immortality, he adopts a persona of a cartoonishly evil Dark Lord he names "Voldemort" and uses it to launch a war against magical Britain. After over a decade of effortlessly crushing his enemies and committing various atrocities, Voldemort imprints his own personality onto a young toddler, resulting in Harry being "remade" in Tom Riddle's image. Ten years later, having lost his original body, Voldemort possesses an adventurer named Quirinus Quirrell—turning the man into a prisoner in his own body—and applies for the position of the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor in Hogwarts. In order to convince Harry to abandon his idealistic ways and make the boy into his own Worthy Opponent, "Quirrell" decides to psychologically break Harry first by attempting to send Hermione to Azkaban, then by brutally murdering her in front of Harry's eyes. Once Quirrell realizes that it made Harry more dangerous than expected, he resolves to kill the boy to get rid of the one threat to his immortality.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • The Stanford Prison Experiment is taken at face value and treated as a serious piece of research; in real life it's considered a complete joke which functions as a checklist of how not to do research (as explained on its own page).
    • The psychology in general is oversimplified in the fic, mostly just re-framing it to fit the Author Tract better. The physics, however, is uniformly terrible. For example, Harry's rant about shape shifting that appears as the page quote is correct in that it violates conservation of energy (which strangely didn't bother him when the levitation did it), but the details are nonsense suggesting the author knows the terms but not the underlying concepts (you actually can have unitarity without the Hamiltonian or conservation of energy and none of that has anything much to do with FTL signaling). Especially since he focuses on the relatively minor quantum effects instead of the reality-shattering and much more obvious implications in thermodynamics.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Chapter 17, in which Harry attempts to factor the product of two prime numbers using the Time Turner? (More generally, he comes up with a method to solve NP-complete problems, that is, problems where you can check a solution quickly, but finding that solution requires searching a gigantic solution space.)
    • Chapter 4, with its off-hand mention of how someone could make a lot of money by exploiting the difference in the relative prices of silver and gold in the Muggle and Wizarding economies. (Buy gold from wizards, sell it to Muggles, use the money to buy silver from Muggles, sell the silver to wizards, and end up with more money than you started with. Or, if the imbalance is in the other direction, buy silver from wizards and sell it to Muggles for gold.)
    • In chapter 26, Harry and Quirrell have a discussion in a scrying-proof location called Mary's room.
    • The "Slytherin System" described in chapter 63 is a version of onion routing, the anonymous networking technique used by Tor.
    • The magic mirror in this continuity doesn't show your Heart's Desire, it creates a reality based on your Coherent Extrapolated Volition, which is a term the author coined himself as an idea to make artificial intelligences safe.
  • Growing the Beard: As the (edited) first chapter puts it: "This fic is widely considered to have really hit its stride starting at around Chapter 5. If you still don't like it after Chapter 10, give up."
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    McGonagall: What sort of contingency do you imagine this kit might prepare you for, young man?
    Harry: One of my classmates gets bitten by a horrible monster, and as I scrabble frantically in my mokeskin pouch for something that could help her, she looks at me sadly and with her last breath says, 'Why weren't you prepared?' And then she dies, and I know as her eyes close that she won't ever forgive me -
    • As of chapter 89, it turns out that kit didn't help Harry as much as he'd been hoping. Mainly due to the timing of his arrival.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Did you know that Draco is "courting" Harry? Everyone in Slytherin does.
    • Also:
      Harry was in love. It would be a three-way wedding: him, the Time-Turner, and Professor Quirrell.
    • Also in-universe: first action the Comed-Tea gets: "BOY-WHO-LIVED GETS DRACO MALFOY PREGNANT". The Quibbler, of course.
    • "Romantic? They're both boys!" (Explanation: It turns out that an apparent majority of the young witch population are Yaoi Fangirls, which Hermione has a hard time grasping).
  • Jerkass Woobie: Draco Malfoy goes through quite a bit of suffering. He had lost his mother before the story began, was forced to deal with his worldview getting shattered, was manipulated by multiple patries and finally had his father be killed by his closest friend. Even though he is a Manipulative Bastard and an aspiring Death Eater, it is hard not to feel at least a little bad for him.
  • Memetic Badass: Professor Quirrell. The fans seem to be constantly at awe of his wit and intellect, to the point where the canon version of the character - Voldemort that is - is often seen as a Memetic Loser by the fans of the story.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Chapter 13: YOU HAVE LOST THE GAME.
    • In the /r/HPMOR subreddit, there are a good many mini-memes, especially after the excitement of the final story arc being posted. A few more notable ones are "still-in-the-mirror" theories, Harry's "pouc", and the Cedrics Diggory.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • When Harry catches the Remembrall, and it glows like a sun.
    • McGonagall's speech about the dangers of transfiguration.
    If you transfigure your hair blonde, it will fall out. If you transform your skin to be clear... you will be very ill and spend a long time at St.Mungos.
    • The terrifying Welcome to the Real World Omake in Chapter 64.
    • After meeting the Dementors, Harry briefly becomes hyper-rationalist. Specifically, he divides everyone into useful or non-useful categories. If they aren't useful, if they're doing so much as annoying him by crying, he wants to kill them.
    • In Chapter 113, Voldemort's plan to make absolutely certain that Harry is Killed Off for Real. Rasputinian Death doesn't begin to describe it. Luckily his plan is foiled.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Ron himself gets this treatment, as the author doesn't think too highly of him. He is portrayed as an unreasonable jerk as he insists that Harry is evil through Insane Troll Logic, downright bullies Hermione for associating with him and is implied to be the one to loudly cheer after a number of his fellow students lost their parents in the epilogue. His only role within the story is to serve as a butt of a joke every so often and to show how much smarter the main cast is compared to him.
  • Second Verse Curse: Harry only knows the first and last couple of lines of Tom Lehrer's "Be Prepared"; his parents rather wisely didn't teach him the rest.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Dumbledore, while debating Harry about death and immortality, was intended to be in the wrong and held a position that runs contrary to the author's worldview. Yet, in the eyes of many readers, Dumbledore made a better case than Harry did. His concern that Harry will go to far in his search for immortality is entirely justified given what happened to Voldemort and so is his belief in souls which he has some good evidence for. Meanwhile, Harry casually dismisses most of the headmaster's arguments without bothering to think much about them, let alone test whether or not they are true, not to mention act like a real jerk throughout the whole conversation.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Harry's "romantic" first date, organized by the rest of the girls in his class. He's not amused.
  • Toy Ship: Harry and Hermione are eleven/twelve years old, even if they don't act like it. Everyone believes they will end up together - except the 'loving couple'. Harry especially complains that it's hugely disrespectful towards Hermione for people to reduce her to just his love interest when she's a genius and heroine in her own right.
  • The Un-Twist: Chapter 104 reveals that Quirrell is really Voldemort.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: "Writing a childrens' book is much harder than writing a story for grownups. I can't do it. Therefore this is a story for grownups..."
  • The Woobie: Poor, poor Bellatrix. Quite remarkable, considering that her characterization here is merely an expansion upon her characterization in canon.
    • Subverted, the part where she started out perfectly decent until Voldemort "ruined" her was a complete fabrication to manipulate Harry. She was apparently a deranged blood-purist zealot long before he ever came along. Well, at least that was what Voldemort told Harry toward the climax, but can we really be sure?


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