Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
HPMOR Yudkowsky.jpg
AuthorEliezer Yudkowsky
GenreHarry Potter fan fiction, hard fantasy
Publication date
Media typeDigital

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (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] It consists of 122 chapters and 661,619 words.[5]


Yudkowsky giving a talk at Stanford University

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]


HPMOR was reviewed positively in June 2010, soon after it started, by science fiction author David Brin.[6] According to The Atlantic, HPMOR "caused uproar in the fan fiction community, drawing both condemnations and praise".[7]

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]

A review in the Hindustan Times described HPMOR as a "thinking person's story about magic and heroism", and the conflict between good and evil as being portrayed as a battle between knowledge and ignorance.[8]


Unlike J. K. Rowling's original books, in which the orphaned Harry Potter is raised by the abusive Dursley family, in HPMOR, Harry's aunt Petunia Evans marries Oxford University's Professor Michael Verres, and Harry is homeschooled by them 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.

HPMOR includes a more complicated system of politics in Magical Britain than that found in the original books. In addition, many characters are modified. Some characters, such as Ron Weasley, are minimized in HPMOR.


Upon arriving at Hogwarts, Harry attempts to apply the scientific method to the study of magic with the help of Hermione Granger. At the same time, he befriends Draco Malfoy and tries to show him the power of Muggle science. Eventually, Harry finds a mentor in Professor Quirrell, unaware that he is in fact Tom Riddle, who caused chaos and war in Magical Britain under the persona of Lord Voldemort before Harry was born. Despite his efforts to think rationally, Harry develops an emotional blind spot towards subtle indications of Quirrell's secret and grows to trust him deeply.

Quirrell plots to acquire the Philosopher's Stone, secretly held at Hogwarts, which would make him immortal. He breaks into Azkaban with Harry's help to free his lieutenant Bellatrix Black. Seeing Harry's friendships as a threat, he frames Hermione for the attempted murder of Draco using a false-memory charm. When Harry sacrifices his inheritance as payment to House Malfoy to save Hermione from going to Azkaban, Quirrell has her killed by a troll.

Harry remains oblivious to Quirrell's true intentions until Quirrell finally moves to acquire the Stone, revealing himself as Riddle. Quirrell threatens Harry with the deaths of the entire Hogwarts student body unless Harry agrees to help him retrieve the Stone; Quirrell also promises to use it to resurrect Hermione. They trigger a trap set by Headmaster Dumbledore, but Dumbledore reverses it and sacrifices himself to save Harry, letting Quirrell take the Stone. After resurrecting Hermione as agreed, Quirrell prepares to ritualistically kill Harry to nullify a prophecy. Harry uses novel magic that he had discovered with the help of Muggle science and kept secret from Quirrell to defeat him. Harry takes the Stone and plans to use it to grant health and immortality to all wizards and Muggles alike.



One of the covers sent to the Russian Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality crowdfunding print project. A different variant was chosen; this one is available as a dust jacket.

In July 2018, a crowdfunding campaign for printing a three-volume Russian translation of HPMOR was launched on the website Planeta.ru.[9] The 1.086 million goal (approximately US$17 000) was reached within the first 30 hours.[10] The campaign ended on the 30th of September with 11.4 million collected (approximately US$175 000) and became the highest funded Russian crowdfunding project, although this record was broken the day after.[9] This is the biggest HPMOR publication project:[11] the book was published by fans many times, but the book's circulation was lower.[12] According to Mikhail Samin, the founder of the project, "Yudkowsky accepted the idea positively", but the popularity of the campaign surprised him.[12] Yudkowsky wrote an introduction exclusively for the Russian printing.[12] The book was compiled by Lin Lobaryov, the former lead editor of Mir Fantastiki magazine.[12] Extra books will be sent to libraries and presented to school Science Olympiad winners.[9][11]

After the success of the crowdfunding project, Russian publishing house Eksmo asked Rowling's agents for permission to publish HPMOR in Russia officially, but Rowling has refused use of fanfics of her Wizarding World for commercial purposes.[9]


HPMOR has been translated into Hebrew.[13]


  1. ^ a b Miller, James (2012). Singularity Rising. BenBella Books, Inc. 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. 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. ^ HPMOR canonical page
  6. ^ Brin, David. "A secret of college life... plus controversies and science!". Contrary Brin. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  7. ^ Snyder, Daniel (July 18, 2011). "'Harry Potter' and the Key to Immortality". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  8. ^ Sachdev, Vakasha (Oct 17, 2015). "A Harry Potter story you haven't read". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d "Российский краудфандинговый рекорд побила книга по мотивам "Гарри Поттера". Контролировать печать будет ФБК". Meduza (in Russian). 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  10. ^ "Книга "Гарри Поттер и методы рационального мышления" установила рекорд российского краудфандинга" (in Russian). Собака.ru. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  11. ^ a b Кирпанова, Елизавета (2018-10-06). "Здравомыслие в России может привести к инакомыслию". Novaya Gazeta (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  12. ^ a b c d "История о "мальчике, который выжил" для взрослых". REGNUM (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  13. ^ "רציונליות ישראל (Israel's rationality)" (in Hebrew).

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