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Personally, I have nothing against the canonical Harry Potter empire, but I'm hardly a huge fan.  I've seen most of the movies on video, and have looked at a few of the books.  If Methods of Rationality were just Harry Potter fanfic -- even great fanfic -- then I probably would have no interest in it at all.  I don't have time to read half of the published fiction I would like to, and even today, publication on dead trees still tends to screen out some of the worst writing; and published works tend to go through a more thorough reviewing process, allowing the reader to cherrypick the most rewarding reads.  Also, I like paper as a medium.  

For me, HP and the MOR is not about "Harry Potter," its about the methods of rationality. Actually, that's not quite true.  My Harry Potter thinks of himself as Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres.  To me, the handsomely-remunerated work by Ms. Rowling may is like the ur-Hamlet.  My Harry Potter, in passing, makes useful references to works and ideas that are not widely known, and for that reason, is useful as a pointer and teaching tool.  

But that's not really what it's for.  The Methods of Rationality is like an anthem or a bugle call or a flag on a battlefield, rallying us wounded and frightened soldiers to re-form our ranks and march forward into the face of the enemy, bayonets forward.  The appeal here is not only or even primarily to the intellect -- you can get that through many other sources -- but to the sense of justice and morality and honor and glory.  My favorite parts of this work are what TVtropes would call "crowning moments of awesome."  So far, the greatest was Harry's frontal attack and local victory over Death itself, in the form of a dementor.  (This particular moment first inspired me to draw again, after a gap of I-don't-know-how-many years.  I was sad to see the effects of my abandonment of art.  At the same time, I gained a new appreciation of people who really know how to draw, beginning with just about any comic book artist.)

There are other moments of glory in the story so far:  the first rescue of Lesath Lestrange, bullied by Gryffindors.  The launch of the "primitive screwheads" rocket; maybe some others. These moments, conveyed through the medium of fiction -- not argument or even rhetoric -- motivate us to take arms against the sea of troubles that has cursed humanity for so long.  We hear the drums and bugle, and we march under the banner of Justice.
Our patron, EY, has forsworn predicted updates because it's work rather than play.  I'm sure he's quite right.  But my real-world work has slowed a bit ... I hereby pledge to come up with a new MOR deviation at least once a week until EY posts chapter 64 or until February 2011, whichever comes first.  My next update will be no later than Wednesday, December 1, at 1900 Pacific.  

P.S.  Spoke too soon.  Work rears its ugly wotsis.
I've been geeking out over this series ever since I found out about it a few months ago.  I'll actually be glad to have a break during which there will definitely be no updates.  In the meantime, I'll probably put up a new deviation or two.  Cheers to you all!
I should write a grant proposal for an experiment in which 75 convicted felons are released from the California prison system and enrolled in a private institution of higher learning located (say) in Palo Alto. Residence in the dorms and everything.  Perhaps I would be shocked, shocked at how readily they adapt to the roles they are playing: trying to one-up each other on how qualified they are to be at Stanford, whining about their social lives, and changing their majors repeatedly.  Or they might get high, steal stuff, and hurt people.
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The official Stanford Prison Experiment site is here:  www.prisonexp.org/

Imagine, however an alternate reality:  The Stanford Graduate School Experiment

Welcome to the Stanford Graduate School Experiment web site, which features information about this classic psychology experiment, including parallels with the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of academic life conducted at Stanford University from its founding to the present day.

How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned four-to-eight year Ph.D program simulation, an investigation into the psychology of academic life, had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the graduate students who participated. In only a few days, our "professors" became sadistic and our "graduate students" became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please join me in an investigation into this experiment and uncovering what it tells us about the nature of human nature.


I am under the impression that Stanford students have above-average intelligence and love love love to please their teachers.  That's how they got to be Stanford students.  Real convicts tend to have below-average intelligence and don't give a fuck about pleasing anybody.  That's how they got to be convicts.  I have my doubts about this experiment.

Parting thought: Theodore Streleski was a graduate student in mathematics at Stanford University who murdered his former faculty advisor with a sledgehammer on August 18, 1978.  He described it as a protest against the horrible treatment of Ph.D candidates.   en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore…