Author’s Notes, Ch. 81

Please do apply for paid consulting work at the Center for Modern Rationality, if you have abilities relevant to designing exercises to teach rationalist skills, or if you have run successful workshops before of any sort.  We haven’t gotten many such applications yet.

Fan art:  Tavoriel brings us a wolf facing a dragon, and Lanthanum produces a small animated trailer for Quirrell’s games.  Samuel Kleiner has cameoed as Mr. Kleiner, and dtldarek has cameoed as Totoro (that request took a while to set up).

Well!  That was fun, but several readers wrote in to say that their academic performance had suffered due to obsessing about the problem.  Apparently this was finals season.  My deep apologies for that.

I was amazed that the readership collectively got almost every element of Harry’s solution, except for the monetary payment, and Harry spooking the Dementor instead of destroying it.  (Looking up Philip Tetlock’s original experiment on taboo tradeoffs, taking the definition literally instead of reaching, and then reading the relevant section of Ch. 26 while keeping in mind Conservation of Detail, might have solved the monetary part.)  This makes me worry that the actual chapter might’ve come as an anticlimax, especially with so many creative suggestions that didn’t get used.  I shall poll the Less Wrong discussants and see how they felt before I decide whether to do this again.  This was actually intended as a dry run for a later, serious “Solve this or the story ends sadly” puzzle – like I used in Part 5 of my earlier story Three Worlds Collide – but I’ll have to take the current outcome into account when deciding whether to go through with that.

One thing I did notice was that many readers (a) neglected simple solutions in favor of complex ones, (b) neglected obvious solutions in favor of nonobvious ones, and (c) suggested that the correct hints had been put there for deliberately deceptive purposes.

General announcement:  I do not lie to my readers.  Almost everything in HPMOR is generated by the underlying facts of the story. Sometimes it is generated by humor – I can’t realistically claim that comic timing that precise would occur in a purely natural magical universe. But nothing is there to deliberately fool the readers.

Methods of Rationality is a rationalist story.  Your job is to outwit the universe, not the author.  If it taught the lesson that the simple solution is always wrong because it is “too obvious”, it would be teaching rather the wrong moral.  There are some cases where people have scored additional points by successful literary analysis, e.g. Checkov’s Gun principles.  But the author is not your enemy, and the facts aren’t lies.

Of course there are various characters running deceptions and masquerades inside the story, but that is quite a different matter.


My primary, Erin (cameo as Erin the Consort in Ch. 13), would like to make the following announcement:  If there are any guys in the Bay Area who like the same obscure black metal bands she does, she may be interested in some no-strings-attached dates.  She’s making this announcement here because of the insanely unreasonable difficulty of finding guys who like the same black metal she does.  Her favorite bands include:  Early Abigor, Blut Aus Nord, Horn, Falkenbach, Njiqahdda, Samael, Vintersorg, Vinterriket, Lunar Aurora, Nychts, Arckanum, and Negura Bunget.  Long hair is a plus but not mandatory.  Female fans of these bands are welcome to contact her as well.  And if you’re in the Berkeley area, she’s also looking for a hiking partner of either gender.  Email her alias here.

(Before anyone asks, yes, we’re polyamorous – I am in long-term relationships with three women, all of whom are involved with more than one guy.  Apologies in advance to any 19th-century old fogies who are offended by our more advanced culture.  Also before anyone asks: One of those is my primary who I’ve been with for 7+ years, and the other two did know my real-life identity before reading HPMOR, but HPMOR played a role in their deciding that I was interesting enough to date.)