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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality…

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (edition 2013)

by Eliezer Yudkowsky

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738164,469 (4.13)1
Title:Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
Authors:Eliezer Yudkowsky
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:fiction, fantasy, school story, fanfiction, mystery, SF, British Isles, adventure

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Marking that I have finished reading this book seems weird. In half a month, another story arc is scheduled to be published, and the author is rewriting many of the earlier chapters. So, for the sake of clarity, let me note that, at the time of writing this review, chapter 85 was the last published chapter.

The book takes you on a journey unlike any other. Eliezer is as much concerned with having cutting edge cognitive research integrated into the plot as having a good story and well built characters. The beginning of the book is simply wonderful. It presents a very strong conflict between the scientific mind of reinvented Harry Potter with the incredibly weird and convoluted world of JK Rowling's magic. Harry's tries to comprehend this world are something that gives this work full five stars. Yet, with all this wonderful inner conflicts, this is still a work of fanfic and it shoots itself into the foot and, half way through, suddenly switches the direction into the world of battle magic, where Harry comes up with clever Muggle artifacts to outwit other wizards. The premise is still working and these chapters are definitely necessary for advancing the plot, but rather tedious to parse. Pages and pages of turn-by-turn fighting sequences just to get to the description of a gizmo-of-the-week that Harry invented to finish off the battles in one way or another. The tediousness of reading these chapters took away one star from this work.

Since this is a work in progress, probably there was least work done on the latest chapters so it is possible that Eliezer will fix these problems and in the end have a wonderful work that succeeds in disentangling the secret laws of JK Rowling's magic along those of the human cognition.

I would go so far to put this work on recommended reading list for all high school students since it gives them insight into very distant topics in a palatable form. ( )
  leo8 | Mar 28, 2014 |
This several-novel-length, ongoing fanfiction asks the question: what if instead of being raised by the cruel Dursleys, Harry Potter was raised by loving foster parents who encouraged him to hone his intellect and solve his problems with science and reason? His excitement about learning that magic is real (once he even decides that it's true) is immediately overwhelmed by his need to discover how and why it works, and his exploration of these concepts is what makes this story so entertaining.

But the other characters have undergone changes too, and many of them have a deep level of moral ambiguity that makes you question all over again whether Quirrel, Snape, Draco Malfoy, and Dumbledore should be trusted. It's even on the fence whether Harry himself is growing up to be a hero or a villain. It's unclear yet whether the plot is branching off into an entirely different story, (there have already been some significant deviations and suggestions that certain future events have been averted) or whether it's just taking a different path to follow the same loose framework, and going into a more realistic level of detail about how conflicting it can be to make hard decisions and know whether or not you're doing the right thing.

Although it's much better than any fanfiction I've ever read, it still has its moments of meta silliness and pop culture homage, and it sometimes diverts into side-stories that are entertaining enough, but take the focus away from the analytical moments that made me interested in the story to begin with. The well-researched concepts are better than the quality of writing, and it's not good enough to stand on its own as a novel. But in this post-Harry Potter world, it feels good to return to the story and characters in a way that has genuinely taught me new things and made me question my own ways of thinking.

http://hpmor.com/ ( )
  thatpirategirl | Jan 16, 2014 |
Fucker snags us on his fish hook, drags us through, I kid you not, NINETY SEVEN of the most heavenly chapters known to man, and then just leaves us to DANGLE IN AGONY.
How much more suspense are we capable of bearing?
Aug 27 is too far away, you sadistic douchebag. What, you can violate the law of Conservation of Energy, but you can't give a girl some peace of mind and just write sooner? ( )
  potterhead9.75 | Jan 5, 2014 |
This is incomplete (i.e., a new chapter is published every month or so), and deeply in need of a good editor. However, the premise and execution make it worth reading despite the flaws, especially for anyone interested in either Harry Potter or in epistemology, philosophy, or rationality. The book is basically a complete reworking of The Sorcerer's Stone which asks the simple question, "What would happen if Harry Potter was very intelligent?" ( )
  arron_kau | Apr 2, 2013 |
Preface with: I haven't read any of Rowlings' books.

This is the 'version' of Harry Potter where...

... His adoptive father was a professor of biochemistry, and hence Harry wound up spending a lot of his time getting tutored in science by his father's grad students.

... Harry is about as "ferociously scientific" as Ender Wiggins was militarily ferocious.

... Harry has, surprising for an 11 year old, a basic understanding of calculus, decision theory, game theory, and such like. The sort of understanding you would expect from someone who did an undergraduate degree in mathematics, with a minor in computer science.

... Harry was an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy literature, and hence frequently draws analogies between things he sees at Hogwarts and other sorts of "fan service."

I was a bit disappointed at his attempt to solve the P=NP question; while using a time machine might help, I don't believe it helps *enough*, not with the limited iterations offered by his time machine. I would think that his time machine would merely cover the difference between a DFA and a NDFA.

I found the running gag of extracting bits of the "Rules of the Evil Overlord" as operating rules to be to my taste of hilarity.

The later portions of the tale (and I have seen up to Chapter 78 thus far; I gather there is a BIT more available now) get more "storyful", and are less about connecting to some particular scientific principle. I can't quite decide if that's better.

Pretty fun. ( )
  cbbrowne | Apr 1, 2013 |
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