Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

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Yakk
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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Yakk » Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:36 am UTC

I've been amused by reading this lately:
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/1/H ... ationality
It is a fanfic about "what if Harry Potter's aunt had married a university professor of physics".

You know all of those niggling things in the book -- "wait, the exchange rate is what?", "that sport is just ... dumb", "you have TIME TRAVEL, do you have any idea what... you used it for what?"

As yet, quite well done. He's on chapter 29. :)


Anyone else read it/enjoying it?
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby MiB24601 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:35 am UTC

I read the first few chapters after you posted it. There are many parts that I am enjoying, such as the explanation of the wizard banking system but there are many parts which I just don't enjoy. For one, the character is clearly not the same boy as Harry Potter and not just because of his different upbringing. The character has a diatribe about being one of the smartest people in the country, something that one could never see Harry Potter saying, no matter his upbringing. The exchange with Draco was also bewildering since the character is also changed in terms of his behavior.

It seems like it would have been better to just have the character be a child of wizards raised by muggles in the Harry Potter fictional world. Such a background doesn't seem to be so rare in the books.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:34 am UTC

Oh, yes, I found it on that evilsite the other day. I had been debating whether to tackle it because it is both a) very long and b) fanfic. But you endorse it, Mr. Yakk?

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:17 am UTC

I'm finding it amusing.

For one, the character is clearly not the same boy as Harry Potter and not just because of his different upbringing. The character has a diatribe about being one of the smartest people in the country, something that one could never see Harry Potter saying, no matter his upbringing. The exchange with Draco was also bewildering since the character is also changed in terms of his behavior.

First, upbringing should have a huge impact on ones character. And if he's going to be an 11 year old using 'the methods of rationality' beyond toy-level, he's going to have to be smart. (Note that he doesn't have to actually be one of the smartest 11 year olds, he just has to believe it... ;) )

Is Draco all that changed? In the HP books, Harry ended up pissing off Draco by siding with Wesley and Mud-bloods relatively early on, if I remember rightly.

There is also some plot acceleration in the fanfic -- the sleeping disorder, for example, being the reason why Harry is educated beyond is grade level, and an excuse to move a MacGuffin up in sequence and give it to Harry rather than Hermione (sp?). I suspect the fanfic author is aiming for the plot to be wrapped up sooner than in the books.

(Note that the author's golden rule of fanfic is that any change that improves the protagonist must also be balanced by a change that gives the antagonist an advantage ... he's already spelled out one of them (which was a bit forced in how it was spelled out, I'll admit))
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby MiB24601 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:59 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:First, upbringing should have a huge impact on ones character. And if he's going to be an 11 year old using 'the methods of rationality' beyond toy-level, he's going to have to be smart. (Note that he doesn't have to actually be one of the smartest 11 year olds, he just has to believe it... ;) )


Upbringing does have a huge impact on a person's character but it's not going to make him that much smarter.* It can been seen with identical twins that have been raised apart that despite having a different upbringing, they will still end up having very similar lives**. Additionally, while the speech is certainly consistent with the character believing he is smarter than everyone else, the third person narration in the story indicates that this isn't just the characters opinion, it's supposed to be an accurate statement of fact.

* Not unless he was malnourished when he was growing up and that doesn't seem to be the case. He certainly wasn't well-fed but definitely not malnourished.
** http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1181958/

Yakk wrote:Is Draco all that changed? In the HP books, Harry ended up pissing off Draco by siding with Wesley and Mud-bloods relatively early on, if I remember rightly.


The first meeting with Draco is fleshed out considerably. Where in the original story, the first meeting with Draco is just used to show the darker side of Wizard society which embraces a prejudiced viewpoint, in this story, Harry instead has a substantive conversation with Draco. Harry pretends to recognize Draco, which Draco buys into until Harry admits that he was playing a trick on Draco. In the original story, Draco is angered by any perceived slight and yet, in this story, he immediately befriends a boy who played a trick on him, especially about his lineage, something Draco seems to value quite dear.

It feels off to me. The whole thing feels off to me. Now, that's a matter of opinion so I'm not going to expect to convince you off my view. However, since it does feel off to me, I'm not buying the author's premise that this is supposed to be the same characters but with Harry having a different upbringing. Since I'm not buying the premise, I'm not really enjoying it. Like I said, I read the first few chapters but I dropped the story once I realized why I wasn't liking it.

There are some fun things in there that I mentioned, like the banking system scam Harry works out. There were also some small things that bugged me but didn't really affect my enjoyment of the story, such as Petunia having been fat (she's described as Rail thin) and her becoming thin due to Lily's spell being the factor that changed everything and the multiphasic sleep disorder (even with the sleep pattern the author mentioned, there are still schedules that would allow Harry to go to a regular school).

Anyway, thanks for pointing the story out but for the most part, it's just not my cup of tea.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby zombie_monkey » Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:42 pm UTC

I have been reading it for a few weeks now and I'm enjoying it immensely. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, mind you.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Sockmonkey » Fri Jul 16, 2010 1:56 pm UTC

It made me laugh and it made me think. It's kind of relaxing to let the author is doing all the nitpicking for us. I've read up to the current chapter and it's become less of a fun romp and more webs of strategy and intrigue at this point. It has gotten a little tiresome now that no one in the story can have a simple coversation with anyone without calculating how it will fit into their machiavellin plot.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Vieto » Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:41 am UTC

This... is... awesome.

Also, chapter 11:
Spoiler:
He solved Quarrel at the sorting hat feast XD
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Yakk » Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:03 pm UTC

Vieto wrote:This... is... awesome.

Also, chapter 11:
Spoiler:
He solved Quarrel at the sorting hat feast XD

That was omake. Ie, non-canon.

(that was one of the cases where the bad guys got an advantage over Potter -- the point of the omake was to stress that giving the same disadvantage would evaporate the story... ;) )
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Vieto » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:17 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
Vieto wrote:This... is... awesome.

Also, chapter 11:
Spoiler:
He solved Quarrel at the sorting hat feast XD

That was omake. Ie, non-canon.

(that was one of the cases where the bad guys got an advantage over Potter -- the point of the omake was to stress that giving the same disadvantage would evaporate the story... ;) )

Don't worry, I knew that, but it was epic nevertheless, so I posted it. :D
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Joeldi » Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:39 am UTC

I am really liking it, especially asides into philosophical and scientific concepts. What I'm not liking is that the author has changed a lot more than the premise. Unless Quirrel's class being completely different is somehow directly related to Aunt Petunia being fat then hexed thin, I'm a little bit annoyed.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Yakk » Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:02 am UTC

Joeldi wrote:I am really liking it, especially asides into philosophical and scientific concepts. What I'm not liking is that the author has changed a lot more than the premise. Unless Quirrel's class being completely different is somehow directly related to Aunt Petunia being fat then hexed thin, I'm a little bit annoyed.

Spoiler:
Quirrel's class was changed because of the rule "if you give an advantage to the protagonist, you need to give an advantage to the antagonist that is equal in size". Quirrel is the dark lord (basically), so in this world the dark lord is different.

Some other changes are speed-up changes (he doesn't want to have to take 7 years to finish this...)
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Vaniver » Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:55 pm UTC

There are parts of this I like, parts of it I don't, but the following made me laugh for at least twenty seconds:
Spoiler:
One alert reviewer asked whether, if Luna is a seer, that means this is going to be an HPDM bottom!Draco mpreg fic. I regret that FFN does not allow me any larger font size in which to say NO. It honestly hadn't occurred to me that Luna might be a real seer - I'll have to decide whether to run with that or not - but I think we can all safely assume that if Luna is a seer, she said something about "light planting a seed in darkness", and Xenophilius, as always, interpreted this in rather the wrong way.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Woopate » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:32 am UTC

I read it after I saw the link here, and I have to say that there are parts I enjoy greatly, like the application of the Methods, and the attempts at breaking magic. I do not like that there appears to be no character with which I can easily associate, as everyone has nasty plots within plots and is simply using everyone they call friends. I think that HPMOR desperately needs a genuine nice-guy to make it work.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Vaniver » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

Woopate wrote:I think that HPMOR desperately needs a genuine nice-guy to make it work.
That sort of seems to be what they did with Ron- dismissed him because he's too simple. Hermione is the closest to that role, because she's the least calculating of the three kids, but I don't expect the author to add someone who isn't calculating- I mean, it's about rationality. If anything, he's probably trying to knock down the idea that being calculating disqualifies one from being genuinely nice (or doesn't have much experience being genuinely nice).
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Kaliayev » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:05 pm UTC

I'm glad I'm not the only one here who has been enjoying the series. While the use of the many interesting articles from the Less Wrong site makes the story fascinating reading, I must admit I really love it for it's sense of humour:

You're giving me a TIME MACHINE to treat my SLEEPING DISORDER?

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Woopate » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:23 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Woopate wrote:I think that HPMOR desperately needs a genuine nice-guy to make it work.
That sort of seems to be what they did with Ron- dismissed him because he's too simple. Hermione is the closest to that role, because she's the least calculating of the three kids, but I don't expect the author to add someone who isn't calculating- I mean, it's about rationality. If anything, he's probably trying to knock down the idea that being calculating disqualifies one from being genuinely nice (or doesn't have much experience being genuinely nice).


That may be the case, but if it is, it's not being done well. I don't find anyone to be "nice". I almost find Draco to be nicer than Potter in certain places. Hermoine seems nice, but I get the feeling that as the story progresses, and she learns more of the methods, that she'll mean up quite a bit. I realize I'm telling an author how to do his job here, but I think a character who befriends Harry, can see through his plots quite transparently, and ignores those plots completely in favor of friendship would be welcome.

Not to say I don't enjoy it. Some places are hilarious, and it is quite stimulating.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Aldarion » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:13 pm UTC

I got introduced to Methods about a month ago, and I now follow the RSS feed.
Even though I generally can't stand fanfiction, I think this one is just brilliant. Oh, how many times I had exactly the same thoughts about trying to actually discover the laws behind Rowling's magic, instead of just seeing their applications!

Also I like the author's writing style. Some moments are laugh-out-loud funny, and the lesson descriptions are simply amazing, especially Quirrel's first "Hufflepuffs-as-weapons" defense lesson.

I don't like only two things: first, the whole scheming bit. I was never any good at analyzing Bujold-esque mind games, so I tend to just skip all the paragraphs with the word "plan" in them. Well, all right, I do read them, but the effect is the same as skipping in terms of understanding.
The second thing I like even less is the sometimes preachy tone the author takes both in the fanfic and on his website. YMMV, of course, but several times I felt as if the author, through his characters, was actively calling everyone who isn't a rationalist a gibbering moron who doesn't know what's good for them.

And yes, Woopate, I agree: a character who plots nothing but still plays a substantial role would be a sight for sore eyes.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Sandry » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:02 pm UTC

I am so glad this thread was made because this story is making me ridiculously happy.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Jorpho » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:21 pm UTC

What a pity we'll never see it in book form. Then I could buy it and put it on a shelf and pretend that I'm going to get around to reading it, instead of bookmarking it and pretending that I'm going to get around to reading it.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Cefor » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:44 pm UTC

I read through it all in one go the other day, but didn't get around to posting on here. This is an amazingly funny fanfic! :) I love it, and I can't wait for him to write more.

Thanks for pointing it out to us.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Azrael001 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:21 pm UTC

I've just started reading it (Chapter 2ish), and while the plans are different, this Potter, is acting just like I imagined that I would in that world.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Kewangji » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:29 pm UTC

I feel like Ron should have had a larger role, and that everything goes a bit too fast, but other than that there's just pure awesome.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Sandry » Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:17 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:I feel like Ron should have had a larger role, and that everything goes a bit too fast, but other than that there's just pure awesome.

Personally, I always thought Ron was a giant prat for most of the series and needed to be shut up more often. So y'know, this worked fo rme. :)

I read up through the current last night, and as my housemates can attest, had multiple insane giggling fits while doing so.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Azrael001 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:13 pm UTC

I finished it early yesterday morning. I'm quite the fan now.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Rinsaikeru » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:38 pm UTC

Some of it was funny, lots of it was simply completely out of character and not like any 11 year old I've ever met.

It also seems like Quirrell is some strange amalgam of himself and Alastor Moody's doppelganger. I suppose this is meant to speed up the series some.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Azrael001 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:42 pm UTC

Considering that the PDF is already 700 or so pages, it seems likely that the conclusion will be the end of the first year.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby WaterToFire » Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

So... Was anyone else filled with extreme amounts of awesome while reading the most recent chunk? That was just ridiculously well-done, I think.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Kewangji » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:14 pm UTC

WaterToFire wrote:So... Was anyone else filled with extreme amounts of awesome while reading the most recent chunk? That was just ridiculously well-done, I think.

Yeah, I agree. Magnificent. I didn't understand -- were we supposed to understand? It seemed like we were -- what the bird said to Dumbledore though.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby BlueNight » Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:34 am UTC

It's Harry Potter starring Ender Wiggin. And its delicately monstrous joys are a heady mix.

The best stories are psychoactive; you aren't the same person after experiencing them as you were before. Cerebus, The Fountainhead, Heroes Die, The Matrix, Deadpool issues 1-35, and Ruby Quest are some stories that have altered me. HP: MoR is twice as psychoactive as everything except Ruby Quest and Cerebus.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Sockmonkey » Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:51 am UTC

It was pretty sweet watching everyone go "How the hell did you do that?" when Harry did his thing. It's also neat how he's able to be his own deus ex machina by being the right person in the right circumstances rather than by absurd luck and the power of plot. (granted in a story everything is by the power of plot but you guys know what I mean)
I think I've partly figured out how magic "really" works in this story.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Levi » Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:05 pm UTC

Spoiler:
That is one damned awesome Patronus. I'm disappointed I didn't think about the possibility of human Patroni when I read the books. Question is, is it self-aware? I seem to remember the Patroni in the books having a little bit of a personality/intelligence. Be a bit weird to have to summon and dissipate a fully functioning human whenever you have to get rid of a Dementor.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Yakk » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:57 pm UTC

Spoiler:
We'll, he's hinted a few times how some kinds of magic really work.

Animagus seems to be a sliding of your form over a higher dimension. This is how a cat brain can think for a human (it isn't -- instead, your human-self is slid to the side, yet still connected to your cat-self, allowing it to do the thinking while sensory information is routed over to it).

This explains why it is fundamentally different than other kinds of transfiguration, which may actually involve changing what the matter is.

Magic seems to be control sequences left over from an ancient civilization or aliens or something. The "you cannot learn magic from books" seems to indicate that it is somehow tied to how humans process information. You don't do magic -- instead, you instruct the magic-framework to cause a certain effect to happen. That allows for the complexities of magic to be handled by the framework.

Much as typing "dir" in a dos prompt dumps a directory listing, saying those syllables causes the universes (planets?) operating system to execute a specific effect.

There is possibly some kind of reverse causality also being used to justify it -- magic could be time-reversed echos of the command sequences that humanity eventually figures out. Equivalently (!), the universe of HP&tMoR could be a perfect universe simulation set up with magic root access commands added in.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby GoC » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:09 pm UTC

I endorse this fanfic. 8)
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby BlueNight » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:06 pm UTC

Rinsaikeru wrote:Some of it was funny, lots of it was simply completely out of character and not like any 11 year old I've ever met.

It also seems like Quirrell is some strange amalgam of himself and Alastor Moody's doppelganger. I suppose this is meant to speed up the series some.


The author has said in this universe, everyone is smarter. It starts with Aunt Petunia realizing that Vernon Dursley is NOT the man she wants to spend her life with, and ends up marrying a scientist instead. So far, Quirrell/Voldy is a smarter Dark Lord than he ever was in JKR's books.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Josephine » Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:09 am UTC

I love this fanfic. Chapter 5 had me rolling, professor Quirrel is awesome, and the Dementor scene was amazing. How often is it updated?
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Vaniver » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:43 pm UTC

nbonaparte wrote:I love this fanfic. Chapter 5 had me rolling, professor Quirrel is awesome, and the Dementor scene was amazing. How often is it updated?
Every now and then? I'm subscribed to the RSS feed, and I recommend doing so if you're interested in continuing to read it. A lot more compact than checking periodically.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Levi » Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:25 pm UTC

Yet another revelation in the latest chapter. I'm all for plot twists and other surprising things, but I think twice in a row is a bit much. Not that I'm complaining about another chapter being out...

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Yakk » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:44 am UTC

Spoiler:
Maybe Harry's real enemy is Dumbledore? That would be an ... enemy upgrade. ;)
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Levi » Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:09 am UTC

Spoiler:
Dumbledore never really did make sense in the HP books. Pretty much the only way to interpret his actions is to assume that he has approximately fifty Xanatos gambits running all the time.


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