Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, often abbreviated HPMOR, is a Harry Potter fan fiction by Eliezer Yudkowsky.[1] It adapts the story of Harry Potter by attempting to explain wizardry through the scientific method.[2] It was published as a serial from 28 February 2010[3] through to 14 March 2015.[4]


Yudkowsky wrote the story to promote the rationality skills he advocated on his site LessWrong.[1] Yudkowsky chose Harry Potter because "I'd been reading a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction at the time the plot of HPMOR spontaneously burped itself into existence inside my mind, so it came out as a Harry Potter story. ... there's a large number of potential readers who would enter at least moderately familiar with the Harry Potter universe." He states that his work on rationality "informs every shade of how the characters think, both those who are allegedly rational and otherwise". He also used it to assist the launch of the Center for Applied Rationality, which teaches courses based on his work.[3]


Unlike J. K. Rowling's original books, in which the orphaned Harry Potter is raised by the abusive Dursley family, the Harry Potter character in HPMOR is raised by an Oxford scientist, and is trained by his parents in science and rational thinking before learning about magic and traveling to the wizarding school Hogwarts.[4] The story takes place during a single year, covering the same time period as the first volume of Rowling's original series.

Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres is the adopted son of Oxford University Professor Michael Verres-Evans and his wife Petunia Evans-Verres (Petunia Dursley in the original books), Harry's biological aunt. He initially endeavours to bring the scientific method to magic. The story proceeds to politics in Magical Britain, with Harry liaising with Quirrell, unaware he is possessed by Lord Voldemort. The story ends with Voldemort's defeat.


HPMOR was reviewed positively in June 2010, soon after it started, by science fiction author David Brin.[5] According to The Atlantic, HPMOR "caused uproar in the fan fiction community, drawing both condemnations and praise".[6]

The Harry character is described by Vice as "a miniature Ravenclaw Spock with a taste for deductive reasoning" and the book as reading "like the originals after a lifetime spent playing Nintendo's Brain Training".[3]

According to a review in the Hindustan Times, HPMOR is a "thinking person's story about magic and heroism", and the conflict between good and evil is portrayed as a battle between knowledge and ignorance.[7]


  1. ^ a b Miller, James (2012). Singularity Rising. ISBN 978-1936661657. 
  2. ^ Packer, George (28 November 2011). "No Death, No Taxes". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-06-11. 
  3. ^ a b c Whelan, David (March 2, 2015). "The Harry Potter Fan Fiction Author Who Wants to Make Everyone a Little More Rational". VICE Magazine. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Baude, Will (March 14, 2015). "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is complete, and it is excellent". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Brin, David. "A secret of college life... plus controversies and science!". Contrary Brin. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  6. ^ Snyder, Daniel (July 18, 2011). "'Harry Potter' and the Key to Immortality". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Sachdev, Vakasha (Oct 17, 2015). "A Harry Potter story you haven’t read". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 

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