Stuff We Love: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a love letter to Ravenclaws

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Nov 2, 2017

Did you like Harry Potter but thought author J.K. Rowling lacked logic? Eliezer Yudkowsky, AI researcher and writer, did. So he created a 122-chapter fan fiction designed to right that perceived wrong. The result, Harry Potter and the Method of Rationality (HPMOR), is something brilliant.

HPMOR isn’t just a fan fiction, where characters fall in love with thinly veiled versions of the writer (although I totally fess up to that in my misspent youth). It’s a platform on which the writer bounces off complex ideas in a way that’s accessible and downright fun.

Just about everything in this work plays on Rowling’s original. In Rowling’s version, when Harry and Draco Malfoy meet at Hogwarts, Draco snubs Ron Weasley. Same here, only in HPMOR, Harry and Draco wind up conversing on methods of manipulation. And as for Rowling's Sorting Hat scene, we know the Hat isn’t quite sure where to sort Harry at first. But in the fan fic, the Hat ultimately sorts him into Ravenclaw… after acquiring self awareness.

It also outsmarts the original in one specific way, by also putting Hermoine Granger in Ravenclaw (where she should have been all along) and giving her more credit for her hard work.

But it’s not just about logic wrapped in a wizard's cloak. HPMOR has its own style and humor. For example, as Yudkowsky's Potter observes the sorting process, "Clever kids in Ravenclaw, evil kids in Slytherin, wannabe heroes in Gryffindor, and everyone who does the actual work in Hufflepuff."

HPMOR gives Ravenclaws the pride we never knew we needed. As the Potter fandom knows, Hufflepuffs are the charming do-gooders, Slytherins are the ambitious ones who don’t suffer fools, and Gryffindors are the reckless ones who charge in headfirst. They tend to capture the imaginations of fans in a way Ravenclaws don’t: I had but to attend New York Comic Con to see the racks of T-shirts dedicated to Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Slytherins, with almost no Ravenclaws among them. Because Ravenclaws are exactly as we appear — we wear the smarty pants in the Potterverse; we lack of the appeal of a hidden gem.

Ravenclaws know we're not hidden gems. We just naturally shine.

HPMOR has inspired its own fan fiction, art, and even poetry. It’s a love letter to Ravenclaws. Put it in your brain right now.