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Distribution of Magical Talent

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Skeletaure, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. Skeletaure

    Skeletaure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    For the purposes of facilitating discussion, let's associate (adult) magical ability with a numerical scale like IQ.

    Examples

    A wizard like Stan Shunpike would be around below 80. This is the type of wizard who can maybe cast one or two spells and that's it.

    The 80 - 100 range would be the "below average" wizards like Crabbe and Goyle. They can cast a range of spells but none of them well.

    An "average" wizard - let's say someone who gets an "Acceptable" on all their OWLs, would be 100.

    An above-average wizard like Ron would be around 110-115.

    A skilled generalist like Hermione or Remus Lupin would be in the 120-130 range.

    Prodigies like Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Voldemort would be over 160.

    Questions

    My main question is how populated do you think the range is between 130 and 160? Do you see it as a smooth curve, with a continuous progression of talent towards the Dumbledore level, or do you see it as an abrupt jump, where you have "ordinary wizards" and "prodigies" and no one in between?

    In canon, Dumbledore etc. are portrayed as so far above all other wizards, we basically never see anything like a wizard who bridges the gap between ordinary wizards and Dumbledore. It does seem to be a fairly significant gap in ability. But then, we don't see many adult wizards in action, really, and often when we do, there is some plot-related reason that we cannot really treat their performance as indicative of their normal level of ability.

    If you do think there are wizards who bridge the 130-160 gap, do you have any individuals in mind? Or do you think that while these wizards would exist, we haven't been introduced to any of them within canon?

    My second question is: globally, how many wizards of the 160+ range do you think there are at any given time? During the canon era, for example, do you think Dumbledore and Voldemort are the only two wizards in this range in the world? Or do you think there are wizards who equal them in other countries, who simply choose not to get involved in the events of canon?
     
  2. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

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    I think it's probably a large jump. In my mind, I see it as "getting to that next level." Natural talent, skill, and experience, will get you to 120 or 130 if you're exceptional or prodigal, but it takes a significant drive to want to get yourself to the next level, to where it practically consumes your daily existence. Being a prodigy is one thing, but actually doing something with it is something else altogether. So I think anyone at the 130 range, people like Lupin and Snape, could probably get themselves to the next level if they put in as much time as people like Voldemort and Dumbledore did. They might not be prodigious, but experience and drive can be worth a lot as well. But they didn't, so they aren't. There probably are people who are currently on that path, but if they're at 145, they probably won't stay there for ever, either burning out and regressing (or dying when they get overconfident and killed by aurors), or making it. There probably is that ah-ha! moment, that epiphany when they realize they're far more skilled than the people around them.

    As for how many there are at any given time, I think the saying "nature abhors a vacuum" is an apt saying. With Voldemort, Grindelwald, and Dumbledore all dead there's got to be someone else out there. But they might not go on a crusade like Grindelwald, or go into teaching or politics like Dumbledore. They could be your neighbor, seemingly normal, but you'll never know in reality they're a 670 year old Nicholas Flamel in disguise.
     
  3. jitenshasan

    jitenshasan Second Year

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    Did Lily create the blood protection on Harry all by herself? (I'm presuming she did something more than just dying, which has to have happened before to somebody else).
    Because a protection that keeps Harry safe even as he going out and about beats the Fidelius (where the Potter needed to stay inside) + gave him the burning thing against Quirrel/voldemort.
    Given that she was barely out of school and was a muggleborn with presumably not many ressources (again depends if you believe in pureblood family libraries and whatnot), that's pretty impressive.
    Looking at it a certain way, you can make her being in the "genius" range, depends how you interpret things.

    I'm pretty sure there are other "geniuses" abroad (though how many I couldn't say). They are probably busy dealing with the shit in their own countries, and maybe didn't know what was happening up to very late (since the Ministry did everything he could to make it appear that all was well). The war itself didn't last long enough for wizarding britain to be ready to swallow their pride and welcome outside help.

    Dumbeldore himself waited quite a long time before actually stepping up with Grindelwald after all, no reason for other countries to rush in to help either, especially since Voldemort didn't really expand outside Britain (even if he recruited abroad).
     
  4. Erotic Adventures of S

    Erotic Adventures of S Denarii Host

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    I think Dumbledore, Voldemort and Grindelwald by your scale may be the only 160+.

    For next in line, I think Crouch Sr, Amelia Bones and Snape are all implied to be the next step down. I also put Slughorn in here, people think he is a joke, but he dueled Voldemort, was extremely smart and well rounded, but as Dumbledore said, he enjoyed a quieter life. Let’s say 140-150. Bellatrix is in here as well.

    The Hogwarts professors would be next up, along with Aurors along with people like Remus and Hermione. 130-140.

    The only real comparison I can think is Minerva, Horace and Kingsley going up against Voldemort, who had had his power broken by Harry. They dueled him well, and lost. So one 150, and two 140+ couldn’t take a crippled 160+.

    That duel shows Voldemort was literally unstoppable. The Ministry at the height of its powers could not take on Voldemort. Crouch, Bones + a dozen other Aurors etc.... even then I can’t see it going better.

    If it’s an order of magnitude, 160 is worth ten 150s, and a hundred 140s. Then Voldemort would require a world wide effort to gather the top magic uses from the world to bring him down. And a army of Aurors.

    World wide I think there was only three 160+ in the world. Maybe, maybe 1-2 others close, but not the same level, and not interested at all in these petty European wars.

    And most countries may host 4-10 150s. Then more 140s etc etc etc.


    Which brings and issue. If 160+ is basically a god, unstoppable by traditional means (needs to be assasinated), then when ever one shows up. The world holds its breath.
     
  5. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    The HP series is locally-focused. I imagine there are several 160s in every region and they're known to be such--I would say these masters of magic can't help but become significant figures in society and go down in history. Their power and skill makes it hard for them to pretend to be less than they are.

    Voldemort was big in Britain, maybe Europe and I'd say he was certainly known internationally, in a way not dissimilar to how non-Americans know who POTUS is, but I don't think if Voldemort showed up in Brazil intent on wreaking havoc, there would be no one to stand up to him. Brazil would have her own 160s who wouldn't welcome another player on "their" turf.

    So I'd say the 160s number perhaps several dozen at the very most across the planet.

    The rest I would distribute along the typical bell curve, but weighed leftward; the 100s (average wizards) would make up the bulk of the population, and there would be more below average ones than the 120/130s.

    Those bridging the gap (130+ but below 160) I imagine would be like, a few hundred for each of the 160s and that group would compromise individuals like Snape, Slughorn, Lily Potter, Hermione, Bellatrix, Kingsley--wizards and witches who would sit firmly with the 130s were they less ambitious/hard-working and the yet-to-mature future 160s--people who ride into the 130 range based on natural talent, but then if they put in the work, they have the potential to become 160s. This last group is where I would put Harry, although I think canon Harry would be perfectly content with the 130s/140s rather than striving to achieve his full potential.
     
  6. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Second Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    There's a concept in game design (and similar in things like engineering) called break points. If an enemy has 100 health, every single increase in damage you do above 50 makes no material difference because it will always take two hits to kill them. Between 50 and 99 the experience is the same. It is only upon reaching a breakpoint that you see the difference manifest.

    This can occur in all sorts of fields and questions, but I think it's applicable here. There is a difference in degree that is "objectively" or measurably small, but that evolves into a difference in kind. Being almost smart or imaginative enough to make a breakthrough in magic doesn't matter, only if you hit that point. It's one of the reasons why, in skill distributions on PVP games, relatively small differences in skill or knowledge manifest as completely insurmountable gaps when you're at the peak. Almost making that dodge or almost getting that hit is exactly as valuable as completely missing.

    So, as regards magical talent, there are skilled generalists like Lupin and Hermione. They're pretty good at a lot of things. Well-read, well-practiced. Between them and the pinnacle, the apex, are people who are specialists in a particular field. The Snapes, the Flitwicks, the McGonagalls, the Slughorns. Subject matter experts, even innovators, but not prodigies.

    The difference between Dumbledore and Snape might not be that large on a measurable level in specific fields, but Dumbledore hits that point where he can take Snape's talent for one field and apply it to any. Thus, the small difference in "magical IQ" becomes something almost mythological in practice. It also serves as a model for why the really exceptional still fall within the bounds of a normal distribution. They hit that breakpoint that makes them different at a fundamental level rather than iterating on the same axis that the rest are using.


    As for how many Dumbledores there are in the world, or rather how many potential Dumbledores there are in the world, I can imagine there being a dozen or so spread out. Consider that Canon had Grindelwald, Dumbledore, and Voldemort all born and operating in the same general geographic area in a fifty or sixty year time span. Given a world's worth of population and wizarding lifetimes, then one or two per major region seems quite reasonable.
     
  7. Heosphoros

    Heosphoros Fourth Year

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    I had, in the olden days, thought up one of those Gimmicks to Make Harry Stronger™ kind of things. It was basically a mental discipline that allowed the user to split their minds into several threads, each capable of casting magic at full power (with some exceptions)--magical multitasking, basically. It had the added benefit of allowing for simultaneous casting, either the same spell for multiplied power or distinct ones for interesting synergies/extra speed. The likes of Dumbledore, would naturally know this skill and be at its peak. My first instinct was seven fractions for the top tier, but that would be too unmanageable narratively, so I settled down to three. Someone like Snape, who is both a talented wizard and knowledgeable in the Mind Arts would be capable of two, for instance.

    Thus, when you fight Dumbledore, not only is he more magically skilled and knowledge than you, but you would be fighting three of those superimposed and with perfect teamwork. Essentially, Dumbledore "magical IQ" gap with the average wizard is further widened by having access to a ability multiplier, at least in combat where each action has tremendous value.

    Even discounting this specific fanon of mine, the general idea is that the comparatively small difference in "magical IQ" opens the doors for certain skills that have a added effect to the user's magical capabilities beyond the raw magical talent. Making the empirical gap between wizards wider the further on the scale you go.
     
  8. James

    James Unspeakable

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    I also dreamed up one of those! It's one of the more interesting applications of mind magic (as compared to mind Hogwarts). Also reminded of "betwixt the beats of a heart" or something like that, which was another interesting mind discipline I can't remember in which fic it was. Basically slowing down time for few beats of a heart for a time (you guessed it, seven was the top limit).

    ---

    As for OP, I like the idea that magical IQ follows a bell curve (stan <==> snape) - perhaps with a slant to the left to account for the wizarding world being post scarcity - but the god tier is completely separate, and the person needs to not only be at the top levels of MIQ (lol), but also have the drive, the need, the willingness and that "something" to enter the higher state of sorcery.
     
  9. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Fifth Year ~ Prestige ~

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    Magic isn't just an obscure skill - for those born as witches and wizards, magic permeates everything that they do.

    A bad comparison would be skateboarding. There's people who can't skateboard at all, the equivalent of squibs. There's those able to push themselves around flatlands, those who've learned how to jump, and do pipes, and then you have people who can actual tricks, all the way up to Tony Hawk (or whoever the equivalent is now). Skateboarding is a skill, and some people are just going to be better at it - they have better balance, or they have better coordination, or whatever. Anyone can work at improving, but there's going to be different skill ceilings for different people.

    But skateboarding is, as I've said, a bad analogy. You can get by with NEVER using skateboarding in your everyday life.

    A better example might be skills with Excel (or calculating/coding, or G.Sheets, or whatever). Some people can, perhaps, open up an Excel spreadsheet, and look at the data. They can't really do anything with it. Then you get people who can do what they need to do for their job - they can maybe do =SUM, or a vlookup. A step up from those are the people who can do more than their job might need - they build the tools to automate their job out of what they know already, or they'll look up pregenerated things to do what they need. And then a final level, would be people who can automate everything. They know all the tips and tricks, they can make the numbers dance to whatever tune they need, and they swim through the data like it's a second home. You ask them to build something, and it's already saved to your harddrive by the time you get their email. It looks effortless, but it's actually hours and hours of paging through the internet, or bashing their heads into brick walls, to piece it together.

    You don't need to learn how to code to get by in life, but you'll need to learn how to add. And that's where everything starts.

    Stan Shunpike might not use magic at all, outside of what is needed for day-to-day life. After all, why bother learning a charm to transfigure things into parchment when it's only 1 knut per sheet from the shop, and he'll be nearby anyway. Dumbledore, though, he loves learning magic. And teaching magic. Dealing with the edge cases where magic doesn't work as it should, or where it has weird effects.

    When I'm in work, my manager will ask me to use a vlookup for something. But that's the worst way to go about it, she just doesn't know better. I'll manually build something to do it, but it might take me a while to do so. I asked my dad how to do one of things I wanted, and he came back 30 minutes later with a fully functional prototype, because he worked with spreadsheet software for decades, and learned how it all worked.

    Combine this with the breakpoints mentioned above, and I think you'd see a relatively stepped pyramid (with sufficient granularity). You get people tapping out due to hitting their ceiling, but also because, to them, magics just another thing - they only need to be able to add numbers up to estimate how much their weekly shop is going to cost, not perform a mental abstraction of fluid dynamics.
     
  10. Silirt

    Silirt Chief Warlock DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    I just want to know how we arrived at the conclusion that Stan Shunpike was a sub 80 iq retard. Honestly if I had to point out someone as the least magically talented in the whole series, I would assume it was Merope Gaunt.
     
  11. Skeletaure

    Skeletaure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    He talks with a regional accent, a fate which JKR reserves for the truly braindead.
     
  12. jitenshasan

    jitenshasan Second Year

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    I don't know, Merope managed to make a love potion despite being stuck in an abusive home where she certainly was never nurtured, and never allowed to go to Hogwarts.

    Stan was the guy who thought it was a good idea to brag of imagined great deads as a death eater. Granted it doesn't tell us about his MAGICAL prowess, but he certainly wasn't smart.
     
  13. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    My issue with this way of describing magical talent is that it doesn't really seem to account for people with focused skills. For example, we know that Augusta Longbottom failed her Charms OWL (and so presumably wasn't particularly good at charms in general), but she was a competent enough witch to put a trained auror in the hospital and to survive the Battle of Hogwarts. Her talents, presumably, lay in fields other than charms. How would someone like that, with narrow strengths, fit into this model?
     
  14. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti High Inquisitor

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    This. Especially when it comes to dueling. Combat is a very specific skillset that has largely nothing to do with magical ability whatsoever. Speed, creativity, spatial awareness, ruthlessness, strategy, muscle memory, all of these and more have larger impact on the end result than having encyclopedic knowledge of obscure curses.
     
  15. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    @Mordecai @arkkitehti
    For all that we're calling it IQ, because what the scale is analogous to, it's not a good analogy. What I think most posters, Taure included, are getting at is that Magical IQ measures overall ability.

    So there's zero issues whatsoever fitting people like Augusta into it. Because her lack of ability in Charms is averaged out by her formidable abilities elsewhere. She can still be in the 130-140 range without Charms if she's just that much better at everything else. Though I probably wouldn't put her quite that high. She might be barred from 160+ though with a handicap of that nature.
    (how do we 'know' she failed Charms, is this more of JKR's pottermore shit that everyone insists on calling canon?)

    To play with the original a analogy a bit more though... it's entirely possible for someone with a low IQ (like 80) to be better than someone with a higher IQ (120) at certain things. If they've been trained to do those things specifically and have focused on it. Their overall magical IQ would average out to their actual ability.

    I have to go so can't talk for ages but two things. Headcanon says that each region of the world has wizards in the 160+ tier, though they would have different focuses.

    My personal headcanon also says that your potential as an adult wizard can be seen by the time you're 17 - if you aren't impressive by 17 you have no chance of getting to 160. That's why the Triwizard is such a big deal. All wizards get better/more skilled with practice as adults, and you can improve in a ton of minor ways, but some core part of your potential has either been met or not by that point. Dumbledore, Grindelwald, and Riddle were all very impressive teenagers, after all.

     
  16. v112zullu

    v112zullu Banned

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    Tonks (Cockney), Hagrid (West Country) and McGonagall (Scottish) all have regional accent!

    Arguably American English is the truest form of English due to it being standardized and preserved shortly after independence unlike Great Britain which underwent a volew shift and mutated into what we now know of today. So UK English is really just a regional accent.
     
  17. Skeletaure

    Skeletaure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Hagrid just proves the point. Regional accent, dumb as bricks.

    I'm not sure that Tonks or McGonagall are ever represented as having a regional accent, however.
     
  18. v112zullu

    v112zullu Banned

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    Tonks commonly uses the slang wotcher, which is highly correlated with Cockney. The general phrasing Tonks uses is also indicative of such a regional accent.

    Hagrid is not dumb as bricks. The magic he is able to accomplish with a snapped wand and an incomplete magical education is impressive. He managed human transfiguration on Dudley, the hardest type of transfiguration without it backfiring. Compare that to other examples of magic with a broken wand, Ron second year, to see just how much it stands out.

    JKR: Well, Hagrid's sort of West-country - yokel - which is where I grew up - the part of Britain where I grew up, I didn't grow up in Scotland, I grew up on the border with Wales. So Hagrid's kind of ... 'Yes Harry Potter, sir' - like that - very slurred words - it's the accent English people always put on to sound stupid ... [laughs] Hagrid isn't stupid, but he's got that kind of very country - you know, way of speaking ...

    Lydon: And how about Minerva McGonagall?

    JKR: Very clipped, and very, very - quite upper-class and very brisk - like a governess [Lydon laughs] I - I - I can't do it, but I kind of see Dumbledore more as a John Gielgud type, you know, quite elderly and - and quite stately.

    Lydon: And Harry himself?

    JKR: I suppose he sounds like me. I always do my voice for Harry, when I'm reading to my daughter.

    Mcgonagall is described as Scottish in the books. Since there are little to no physical ethnic characteristics that differentiates the Scottish and English I can only assume that her Scottishness must have been from mannerisms accent included.

    That said, JKR herself has a bit of a regional accent, so I guess Harry has one as well if the interview was anything to go by.

    Taure, I don't think you realize just how regional the UK is (or the English speaking world). The idea that a regional accent means dumb as bricks is a very cosmopolitan view that is completely detached from the reality that long standing cultures and traditions exist and that they have almost developed into entirely different dialects rather than accents.
     
  19. Zel

    Zel High Inquisitor

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    Oh, I actually had a similar idea for an original work. As for where Dumbledore and Voldemort would stand, you could compare them with known generalists in history. Obviously, there were no IQ tests in the Middle Ages, but I've seen thrown around that Leonardo Da Vinci, maybe history's most renowned generalist, like Dumbledore and Voldemort would be, had his IQ estimated to be around 180.

    That result was more of a thought experiment than anything, but it could help ironing out the numbers in this.
     
  20. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    McGonagall mentions it to Neville in HBP, at breakfast on the first morning of term when she's sorting out their timetables.

    On your broader point, I can see where you're going with it and don't see any issues with that interpretation. So, using Augusta as an example, if she was as talented in everything as she is in her most capable area she might be one of these 160+ folk. But she has a distinct weakness (charms) and so her overall "MQ" might be closer to the 120 sort of area - but in a situation where she can bring her specialism to bear she's as dangerous as a 160+ type. That works quite nicely.
     
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