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Complete Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Less Wrong - T

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by headbanger22, Mar 9, 2010.

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  1. Everetza

    Everetza Second Year

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    I liked it. It was fun. As for where it's going... from the authors notes he's thought out logical reasons, so I'll trust that for now. I liked the 'good thinking' -3 million bit. I'm wondering if there's anything to do with time travel involved here?
     
  2. Rhys

    Rhys High Inquisitor

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    I think its pretty clear that McGonagall's solution to Harry's 26 hour day is a time turner, and Harry used this to get to herbology on time, tell himself to sleep in, and mindfuck himself hardcore.
     
  3. Ash

    Ash Moves Like Jagger DLP Supporter

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    I actually really enjoyed this last chapter; it made me smile. Although the bit with Neville felt out of place, and I didn't see why he overreacted.
     
  4. Kai Shek

    Kai Shek Supreme Mugwump

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    Thought the part with Neville was retarded. If this turns into a story where every decision gets analyzed by Harry later while wondering if he's turning dark, I won't hesitate in dropping the story.

    Someone needs to bitch slap Neville and tell him to act like a man.
     
  5. KrzaQ

    KrzaQ Denarii Host DLP Supporter

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    This was terrible, another chore-to-read chapter that failed to even make me smile.
     
  6. Mercenary

    Mercenary Snake Eater

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    Should charm some floating object that follows him while shouting "BE A MAN." whenever Neville does something cowardly.
     
  7. Klackerz

    Klackerz Bridgeburner

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    Updated again. I enjoyed this chapter.

    Harry's reaction to time turner was cool.
     
  8. Stenstyren

    Stenstyren Groundskeeper

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    Props for mad updating speed. That fact alone makes this fic worth reading.
     
  9. EsperJones

    EsperJones Order Member

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    So I guess this topic's back.

    I'll just have to say, both classes that he's described were definitely very interesting to read. It's a departure from canon, yes, but it's a good one. Still wondering what the divergence is with Quirrel, though.

    The time turner episode was amusing, but not much more than that. The handwaving away of all the time travel problems was amusing.

    Also, the author said that he's caught up to his buffer. I guess it means slower updates now?
     
  10. Sooner90

    Sooner90 Groundskeeper

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    I think the fic is back on track. Good update. Quirrel was great and it makes me wonder what Dumbledore's and the rest of the teachers game is.
     
  11. Innomine

    Innomine Auror Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Yeah, this is starting to get really enjoyable again. Rating's creeping back up to 5/5.
     
  12. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    His rules on Transfiguration irritate me enough to stop reading the fic. Firstly, they don't make sense (the arguments he applies to liquid and gas should also apply to solids), secondly it completely cripples the branch of magic so as to be completely useless. Thirdly, from what he's done to Transfiguration I can see the entire path of the rest of the fic, and it lies in Harry's success. He's twisted the magic system to make it so that it coheres with science.
     
  13. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    You mean, that wasn't obvious from the beginning? Author has a hard-on for science + writes a story about magic = one part must yield, and it's not his science fetish :|

    It's always like that, and the reason why science + magic = insta!fail. I don't want to even peek at it, since I know it will make me rage.


    Edit: So I couldn't help myself and ... gaaahh. First assertion: Transfiguration is not permanent. And then he goes on to show just why that assumption makes no damn sense in the first place: Because it makes Transfiguration as a concept useless.

    Yeah, so wtf remains? It's like saying you'll have pizza, only without cheese, topping and crust. Yes, Transfiguration is permanent. Yes, Transfiguration changes an object completely. Because if it wouldn't, you get retarded consequences like here.

    People need to fucking stop trying to force magic into a (pseudo-)scientific corset. And despite all that, the crippled magic is only the final nail. I don't think I've ever come across a story like this. Everything, and I do mean everything, rubs me the wrong way. Harry's character, the plot, the attempted humour, the "magic". It's the antithesis of what I want a story to be, like some weird manifestation of everything I hate in one HP story.

    Under -9000/5. Fuck this.


    Edit2: So he explained why he fucked over Transfiguration in the AN in his profile, and the answer is basically "plot-reasons". Oddly enough, I can respect that. Better to have a reason than to do it arbitrarily. Rating goes up to 1/5.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
  14. Silens Cursor

    Silens Cursor The Silencer DLP Supporter

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    Agreed, which is the main reason I stopped reading this story as well. But I suspect I ditched it for a different reason than Taure. While he dislikes how they twisted the magical system, I'm disliking it because it undermines a thematic element that I wish more stories like this had: the wonder and mystery of magic. By breaking transfiguration down in this way, he's forcing the magical atmosphere of Hogwarts to conform to a scientific theme, and the two do NOT get along.

    If anything, the author should have kept with what he did in the early chapters - the 'nerd!Harry' ranting at how magic disproves all his science, and the underlying insecurity of that - would have been great plot material with a hint of cultural commentary. As it is, it damages the story.

    And to think this was one of the only H/Hr stories I could remotely tolerate.

    2/5.
     
  15. Vorpal

    Vorpal Third Year

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    Solids are generally not as easy to absorb by the body unless they're in dust form or something, and this interpretation actually explains all kinds of canon tidbits about the wizarding social world, such as how there could even be such a thing as a poor wizarding family in the first place. If you don't like it because it decreases its power, alrighty, but ...

    Bullshit. This is one of the most scientifically incoherent elements in the story so far, relative to known muggle science. Far more than, for example, that prior investigation of the magic reality-altering tea, which is obviously lifted directly from the Wheeler-Feynman absorber model of electromagnetic interactions.

    If there's one metaphysical lesson learned from science, is that the identity of things is defined by how it behaves. It's even implicit in Ockham's razor--if there is no measurable difference even in principle, that there is no difference is the superior conclusion. So for this story's treatment of transfiguration to declare that a transfigured object behaves in all physical ways as X all the while being some completely different thing Y is to directly rape 350 years of scientific tradition, ever since Newton declared that he doesn't give a damn about what gravity 'really is', just what it does, in defending his work against his critics.

    Even though transfiguration-as-permanent-change would still of course be contrary to current science, it would still be far less problematic for science than a temporary transfiguration.
     
  16. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    By science I mean the scientific method, rather than current scientific knowledge. He's made it logical, rather than magical. He's made it concerned with stuff like physical properties rather than things like ideas. His explanation for why you couldn't feed yourself with transfiguration is a scientific-sounding explanation about the physical properties of objects. A magical sounding explanation would be something like this: you cannot create sustenance with magic.

    Allow me to illustrate:

    Under his kind of view of magic/transfiguration, a change between a quill and a leaf would be considered easier than a quill and a pen, because a quill and a leaf are much more similar in mass, density, aerodynamics, etc. Under a more "magical" view, the change between a quill and a pen would be easier, because quills and pens are both writing implements, so are alike.

    (I'm not saying that in canon "quill -> pen" is easier than "quill -> leaf" but rather am just using this as an illustration of what I mean by non-scientific.)

    This is the kind of distinction I'm trying to make between a pseudo-scientific image of magic and a, well, magical image of magic. Basically, the author has made it so that, while the contents of Transfiguation run contrary to scientific knowledge (e.g. conservation of energy, though I'm sure he'll rescue this by the end), nevertheless his version of Transfiguration is clearly possible to investigate using the scientific method. There is absolutely no challenge for Harry at all here. Bringing science to magic was meant to be difficult.

    The idea that this is canon-compatible is absurd. We've seen liquids and gases changed, we've seen living things changed, we've seen humans changed, and we've seen permanent transfigurations. That there are poor wizarding families is easily explained by the fact that very few people have the talent to master Transfiguration. With the limits he has placed on Transfiguration, no one would use it, ever. It has no purpose anymore, except perhaps to kill people.

    His approach is the exact opposite to mine. Clearly, in canon, there are gaps between the power of HP magic and HP society: given the capabilities of magic, their society should be different. But instead of taking the challenge of trying to imagine how such a society with powerful cost-free magic would work, he takes the easy route out and weakens the magic so that he can maintain a society not unlike that of the Muggles.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  17. KrzaQ

    KrzaQ Denarii Host DLP Supporter

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    To be honest, I hate what the author has done to canon. It doesn't even feel like HP universe anymore. I change my rating to 1/5, it's even worse because it had some potential.
     
  18. Sooner90

    Sooner90 Groundskeeper

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    I'm going to go out on a limb and agree with Taure a little bit. The changes the author made to the limitations of transfiguration are pretty bad. Unlike Taure, I have never believed that transfigurations were permanent without some magical maintenance. However, limiting them in such a severe way is a bit of punt by the author to conform to scientific principles. It undermines the mystery of magic and that magic might have its own rules and logic, independent of science.

    For instance, a solid transfigured into a gas would appear to be indistinguishable from similar gases, except for the magic involved. Such magic might have its own agenda. Like not allowing the intial substance to be diffused into a live being. Or if that is not to your taste, perhaps a wizards magic would protect him from the consequences of ingestion. It could even be possible that a hedgehog transformed into a super-intelligent shade of the color blue would not revert unless it was whole, rather than into its constituent atoms. I really don't know. But, I do know that magic should be more mysterious and illogical than what it was portrayed in the story. It's just a bonus that this would add to Harry's frustration and pose a greater scientific hurdle for him to cross.

    That said, I still like this fic. It's fairly original, has an interesting protagonist and is heading in a generally amusing direction. I can only hope that the author limits his lecturing to that which will flavor the story, rather than detract from it.
     
  19. Rhys

    Rhys High Inquisitor

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    I'd argue that in some circumstances, Quill->Pen WOULD be "scientifically" easier than quill->leaf. The direction I would've gone with this fic is that magic IS based on ideas, and due to that the state of the universe itself is far more based on our perceptions of it than we think (its quite easy to do handwavium with quantum mechanics to support this if one wishes to).

    Because a person might see more in common between a quill and a pen, he might through his own belief and perception convince the universe that it is so, since the universe only exists due to perception in the first place.

    That being said, I still really do like the fic, even if Harsh!Transfiguration annoys me (more because it's too effective a terror/dueling tactic than anything else).
     
  20. Vorpal

    Vorpal Third Year

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    I know. It is a challenge to a scientific worldview in addition to the particulars of scientific knowledge. Changing a desk into a pig violates such particulars of science, but the transfigured desk retaining its fundamental identity as a desk while outwardly behaving in every way as a pig is much worse, because in addition to prima facie ignoring conservation laws et. al., it is also a challenge to the usual scientific view that a thing's identity is ultimately tied to its physical behavior. Here we have a forcible disconnect.

    Of course it's possible to 'rescue' the situation if the author really wants to, to make that disconnect only apparent rather than real, and it's perfectly fine if that's the kind of thing you have no interest reading about. But my point is that it's a bit silly to pick this as an example of forcing the magic system to 'cohere with science', because it is actually the most incoherent bit of magic done yet.

    That could be true. But I don't know that the author's view of magic is like that. On the contrary, in the earlier chapters we've the opposite view--the retrieval charms operate on meaning, but are based on neither the user's meaning or the general knowledge of humanit--and there is nothing about putting very stringent limits of transfiguration that injects anything about mass, density, or aerodynamics. The author could go there, but it just hasn't happened yet, and other parts of the story support your view of magic more than they disagree with it.

    Well, of course it is. Unless you believe that wizards are so pathetic as to stumble on new spells and potions by chance, they reason about and predict the behavior of magic. That part's even canonical--wizards did formalize at least some of the behavior of magic into laws; they just happen to be unlike anything in the non-magical world.

    If you don't like the author's version of those laws, or you don't like them in your face in the narrative, that's cool. I certainly have a lot of pet peeves and deal-breakers regarding fanfiction as well (this just doesn't happen to be one of them). But the situation here is no more 'scientific' than what exists in canon; it's just brought to the foreground rather than being some far-away backdrop that's only alluded to.

    I've no idea where you're getting that from. Harry accomplished absolutely nothing with regards to transfiguration yet; in fact, his best scientific success was in regards to the magic tea. He just plain hasn't done much of anything yet, much less done it easily.

    Um... temporary tools can effect permanent changes easily. That's is bound to be a lot easier than memorizing loads of specialized charms or spells or making it them up on the fly.

    And it's also something I did not claim. That's why I explicitly specified 'wizarding social world'. You're right that the author is taking the 'easy way out' in regards to this. He neutered transfiguration to deal with it, yes. If that's a deal-breaker, cool. But all this other stuff is just off the mark.
     
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