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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - What if Harry was smarter than Ender? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - What if Harry was smarter than Ender?
Seatarsprayan
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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

By Eliezer Yudkowsky, you may have read his AI Box experiment.

The greatest fanfic ever written... what if Harry Potter had been raised by loving parents, was twice as smart as Ender, and a dedicated Rationalist?

A look at the Harry Potter universe from a scientific perspective... I had a fictiongasm the whole time I was reading this.

It's also utterly hilarious.

Note: it isn't finished yet, currently at 21 chapters...

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King of Men
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This damn fic kept me up until 3 in the morning a couple of weeks ago. It is the greatest HP fanfic ever. You should all read it.
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Samprimary
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Lol. i approve.
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rivka
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Just finished chapter one. This is awesome! Thanks for the suggestion.
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rivka
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quote:
"So now I've got to find some way to kill an immortal Dark Wizard," Harry said, and sighed in frustration. "I really wish you had told me that before I started shopping."
[ROFL] [ROFL] [ROFL]
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natural_mystic
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This is brilliant.
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rollainm
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quote:
"But oh, Professor McGonagall, why rain on my parade? Surely this is a happy day, when I discover all things wizarding for the first time! Why act the part of the grumpy grownup when instead you could smile and remember your own innocent childhood, watching the look of delight upon my young face as I buy a few toys using an insignificant fraction of the wealth that I earned by defeating the most terrible wizard Britain has ever known, not that I'm accusing you of being ungrateful or anything, but still, what are a few toys compared to that?"
[ROFL]
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sinflower
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Thanks for this! Back when I was involved in the HP fandom, I was used to wading through oceans of trash fic on ff.net to find a few gems, so having one handed to me is just awesome. Off to read [Smile]
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rollainm
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Okay, for real, I was supposed to get some work done tonight. And now I have a sore throat from laughing so hard.
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TomDavidson
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Oh my dear God.
That may well be one of the best reading experiences I have ever had.

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Hobbes
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Just started reading through it, but I had to share my favorite so far:

quote:
On the other hand, one competent hedge fundie could probably own the whole wizarding world within a week. Harry filed away this notion in case he ever ran out of money, or had a week free.
Hobbes [Smile]
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August
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There are no words to describe this. Chapter 11 had me lawling.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by August:
Chapter 11 had me lawling.

Unclean abomination.
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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by August:
There are no words to describe this. Chapter 11 had me lawling.

Chapter 11 was pretty good.

The last of them was probably my favorite.

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scifibum
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Would one need to read Harry Potter first to appreciate this?
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BlackBlade
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I keep wondering if these accolades are all some cruel joke to get me to read this.
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kmbboots
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Very fun to read. He kind of an unlikable little snot, though.
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Kwea
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I found it dry and unappealing, but I only got to chapter 3.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Very fun to read. He kind of an unlikable little snot, though.

Ever hung around a dedicated capital R rationalist? haha.
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TomDavidson
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Yeah, the joke is aimed as squarely at Rationalists as it is at Rowling's world-building.
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sinflower
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Well, at least he recognizes that Rowling created an extremely rich and interesting world, despite it being chock full of little holes [Smile]

Also I have just finished reading all 22 chapters and this is the best thing that has happened to me all week.

Also he actually updates regularly. This is like, incomprehensible in a fanfic author. I don't understand it.

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Rakeesh
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Well, Harry in this story is only smarter than Ender in certain areas.

In purely mathematic areas, it seems like a given, thought to be fair we never really see much of Ender's aptitude there. In dealing with people, though? Ender is unquestionably, vastly smarter. Harry in this story is actually, it turns out, quite badly, dangerously stupid when it comes to a few areas of dealing with other human beings. But it's not clear why.

Anyway, it is indeed a ton of fun:)

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Would one need to read Harry Potter first to appreciate this?

Hmm. I think it would be largely incomprehensible without having read at least the first book, or having a good notion of the world.
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sinflower
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quote:
Yeah, the joke is aimed as squarely at Rationalists as it is at Rowling's world-building.
Well, Yudkowsky seems to be a pretty hardcore rationalist IRL. http://yudkowsky.net/rational Though I suppose he can still gently mock the misuse or misinterpretation of rationalism.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Well, Harry in this story is only smarter than Ender in certain areas.

In purely mathematic areas, it seems like a given, thought to be fair we never really see much of Ender's aptitude there. In dealing with people, though? Ender is unquestionably, vastly smarter. Harry in this story is actually, it turns out, quite badly, dangerously stupid when it comes to a few areas of dealing with other human beings. But it's not clear why.

Anyway, it is indeed a ton of fun:)

Because he is lacking in human empathy or anything resembling affection? Except possibly for his parents. I feel rather sorry for the little bugger. Every relationship dissected and manipulated.

By the later chapters, it was bordering on the annoyingly didactic.

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sinflower
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Wait, what makes you conclude he's lacking in affection? He clearly has affection for his parents, and he has growing affection for Hermione and Draco. Dissecting and manipulating a relationship doesn't erase the emotional aspect of it, otherwise there is very little left to dissect and manipulate.
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rivka
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Just starting chapter 16.
quote:
The enemy's gate is Rowling.
[ROFL]

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Because he is lacking in human empathy or anything resembling affection? Except possibly for his parents. I feel rather sorry for the little bugger. Every relationship dissected and manipulated.

Ah, so you've read some of Yudkowsky's other work.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
... I feel rather sorry for the little bugger. Every relationship dissected and manipulated.

I forget. Do you watch House and how do you feel about him if you do? (All your (as a group) descriptions are starting to tempt me to read this thing)
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rivka
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Hmm. The comparison to House (which I watch and enjoy) is apt, I think.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
I found it dry and unappealing, but I only got to chapter 3.

I got to about chapter 7 before losing interest, but I might go back to it. I lean more towards dry and unappealing than not, but it was punctuated here and there with some pretty hilarious observations about the wizarding world.
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kmbboots
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Draco is a tool and Hermione is a tool and/or rival to be crushed. Ron, who has some great qualities - loyalty, bravery - was dismissed out-of-hand.

I still watch House occasionally but have pretty much lost interest in the characters. Also, the "medical mysteries" got both too implausible and too predictable.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Draco is a tool and Hermione is a tool and/or rival to be crushed. Ron, who has some great qualities - loyalty, bravery - was dismissed out-of-hand.

That's a fair summation, but it ignores the absolute hilarity of lines like
quote:
Then there was the Potter Method, which was insane.

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theCrowsWife
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Would one need to read Harry Potter first to appreciate this?

Hmm. I think it would be largely incomprehensible without having read at least the first book, or having a good notion of the world.
I agree. Most of the parts I found most hilarious were the interactions between Harry and Draco, which would be much less funny if you didn't know how they interacted canonically.

It will certainly be interesting to see where he's going with all this.

--Mel

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kmbboots
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Eh...I though I covered that sort of thing under, "very fun to read".
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sarcasticmuppet
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quote:
Originally posted by theCrowsWife:
I agree. Most of the parts I found most hilarious were the interactions between Harry and Draco, which would be much less funny if you didn't know how they interacted canonically.

It will certainly be interesting to see where he's going with all this.

--Mel

Ditto. The bit in Malkin's shop was brilliant.
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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Well, Harry in this story is only smarter than Ender in certain areas.

In purely mathematic areas, it seems like a given, thought to be fair we never really see much of Ender's aptitude there. In dealing with people, though? Ender is unquestionably, vastly smarter. Harry in this story is actually, it turns out, quite badly, dangerously stupid when it comes to a few areas of dealing with other human beings. But it's not clear why.

If I had to compare him to an OSC character, he seems a fair amount more like Bean than Ender.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Eh...I though I covered that sort of thing under, "very fun to read".

You mean, you wanted me to scroll all the way back to your first comment!? [Wink]

Also, new chapter's up.

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rivka
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*grumbles about oversimplification of Mendelian genetics*

Also, the very existence of Muggleborn wizards disproves his theory of magical inheritance.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Because he is lacking in human empathy or anything resembling affection? Except possibly for his parents. I feel rather sorry for the little bugger. Every relationship dissected and manipulated.
What I meant is, why is he lacking in these things? Some chapters have mentioned some really impressive cold-blooded, almost insanely hateful rages. Is that Voldemort in him, or does he share a condition on his own that Voldemort did? Things like that.
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Rakeesh
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If it makes you feel any better about it, rivka, in the author's notes he goes into detail about why Harry was wrong about genetics in this case: it's not something he's really studied in depth, so Harry is quite simply wrong, that's all.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
*grumbles about oversimplification of Mendelian genetics*

Also, the very existence of Muggleborn wizards disproves his theory of magical inheritance.

There could be genetic, heritable conditions that suppress magical expression for generations while preserving the heritability of genetic expression, and/or potentially genetic patterns like what we have with recessive phenotype.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Because he is lacking in human empathy or anything resembling affection? Except possibly for his parents. I feel rather sorry for the little bugger. Every relationship dissected and manipulated.
What I meant is, why is he lacking in these things? Some chapters have mentioned some really impressive cold-blooded, almost insanely hateful rages. Is that Voldemort in him, or does he share a condition on his own that Voldemort did? Things like that.
The author thinks this Harry is not a Mary-Sue. It is precisely those rages that make me think otherwise.

quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
If it makes you feel any better about it, rivka, in the author's notes he goes into detail about why Harry was wrong about genetics in this case: it's not something he's really studied in depth, so Harry is quite simply wrong, that's all.

I read his note. He's still got quite a few details wrong. *shrug*
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
*grumbles about oversimplification of Mendelian genetics*

Also, the very existence of Muggleborn wizards disproves his theory of magical inheritance.

There could be genetic, heritable conditions that suppress magical expression for generations while preserving the heritability of genetic expression, and/or potentially genetic patterns like what we have with recessive phenotype.
Yup. Hence my grumbling first.
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TomDavidson
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For what it's worth, I think the Harry as written is absolutely a Mary Sue, albeit a carefully flawed one. Doesn't mean it's not one of the best pieces of fanfic I've ever read, though. [Smile]
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rivka
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Agree entirely.
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Dan_Frank
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Barring egregious examples, which could probably be just as easily criticized using other terms, I question the value in the label "Mary Sue." Most definitions I've seen could easily fit a number of wonderful and well-loved characters in various existing canon.
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fugu13
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I don't think the definition is really in question: it is a character inserted in the fiction as a representative of the author in the manner of wish-fulfillment. For instance, this fic is blatant Mary Sue.

Note that while it can rightly be considered a warning sign, the definition does not have anything directly to do with the quality of the story. There's nothing wrong with it applying to "a number of wonderful and well-loved characters in various existing canon".

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Dan_Frank
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I've never seen that definition, fugu, and my partner used to read and write a lot of fanfiction. I saw the term thrown around a lot, and all the definitions of Mary Sue that I saw tended to be more about the character being too "perfect" in some way or another. What you're talking about sounds more to me like self-insertion. I'd say this fanfic definitely counts as that.

As far as it being a warning sign but not inherently bad... well, that's also a sentiment I haven't seen expressed all that often in most fanfic circles. The Mary Sue label carried a lot of stigma.

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fugu13
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Being too perfect is a common symptom of wish-fulfillment. This HP is also too perfect, for instance.

The Mary Sue stigma varies a lot by fanfic community.

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rivka
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I would say that having a Mary Sue is a warning sign, but not the kiss of death by any means. I have read some wonderful marysues. And some truly horrific ones.
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