Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: A Fanfiction Review

Name of Fanfiction: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
Penname: Less Wrong

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
If you know me personally, you know what I think of fanfiction: Ew! Ew! Ew! Get it away from me.
Part of it is the horrible grammar. Part of it is the total lack of common sense. And part of it is the total lack of orginality.
But there was a time when I was obsessed with fanficion (OBSESSED, I tell you). The fact is embarrassing and regretful but undeniably true. I’ve given up reading most fanfiction, but I’ve been pretty loyal to one: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

The writer, Eliezer Yudkowsky is an AI researcher and decision theorist. Maybe that’s why he puts forward this question: What if Harry Potter was actually smart? He then proceeds to write a masterful epic based on the question.  I don’t mean to offend any Potterheads here; I’m one myself actually. But even I can admit that Harry Potter does a lot of things which can be considered downright irrational and stupid in the course of the seven books. Eliezer writes under the penname ‘Less Wrong’. I believe he chose the pseudonym because he’s doing his best to create a version of Harry Potter that is less wrong, a version that has less inconsistencies, logical fallacies and plotholes.

What’s Different In the Fanfiction:

  1. Petunia married a biochemist instead of Vernon Dursley.
  2. As such, Harry Potter grew up exposed to science-fiction and logical reasoning.
  3. Maybe that’s why, he’s a prodigy.
  4. Hermione and Harry end up in Ravenclaw
  5. Ron plays almost no part in the story.
  6. Harry does his best to manipulate Draco into being good. He comes surprisingly close.
  7. Harry dislikes Quidditch; he thinks the Snitch is an arbitrary part of the game which nullifies the importance of most of the players (What? He’s right.)
  8. Harry has a time-turner.
  9. Hermione’s not content to be the sidekick; she does her best to be a heroine too. (Yes, there’s feminism involved)
  10. Professor Quirell is a good teacher. No- he’s a great one.

I can’t say much more without totally giving away the plot. But please be reassured, the fan-fiction’s an intricate and twisting epic filled with sub-plots which all wrap up neatly at the end. Trust me, it’s a work of art. It was finally completed on March 14th. So if you decide to read it now , you won’t be forced to agonize over the long intervals of time between updates.

You should read this, even if you weren’t a fan of the original Harry Potter Series.
Although, be prepared to open a Wikipedia tab every chapter; Eliezer Yudkowsky knows his science and is unhesitant in using it in his writing. This isn’t a light read; You need to focus to make sure that you’ve gotten the intricacies  of what’s going on.

Pre-requisites:

  1. Read at least Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone
  2. Have a very, very basic understanding of science (No matter how good you think you are with science, you’re likely to come across a few references to theories, experiments and papers that’ll make you scratch your head a bit)

Links:

You can read the fanfiction (obviously free) here:

Some Pearls of Wisdom from the Book:

“I only want power so I can get books.”

“World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation.”

“I’m lazy! I hate work! Hate hard work in all its forms! Clever shortcuts, that’s all I’m about!”

“To worship a sacred mystery was just to worship your own ignorance.”

“What people really believe doesn’t feel like a BELIEF, it feels like the way the world IS.”

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2 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: A Fanfiction Review

  1. Pingback: Plot Holes be Gone

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