Harry and Hermione

Ilya Somin notes that J. K. Rowlings has acknowledged that she might have made a mistake pairing Hermione with Ron rather than with Harry, who would have suited Hermione more. That is the way many fans no doubt reacted to the book.

This mistake is not made by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.  If you haven’t read it, you should definitely give it a try.  Quite a good read and much more intellectually interesting than Rowling’s books.

The Methods of Rationality uses an alternative version of the Harry Potter stories to illustrate cognitive biases and the methods by which people can behave more rationally.  But it does so in a way that does not seem like preaching — it is all well integrated into the story.  Still, the chapter titles make reference to the psychological literature, such as Bayes Theorem or the Stanford Prison Experiment — although in this case the prison is Azkaban.

While the science discussed in the story is excellent, perhaps the best part of the book is how it takes another look at J.K. Rowling’s world and attempts to discuss and correct some of the peculiarities.  While Rowling frowned on Azkaban and the dementors, Methods of Rationality puts front and center the evil of Azkaban, which when you think about it, turns out to be a prison with constant torture of its inmates.  And another such correction is the pairing of Hermione and Ron, which Methods of Rationality corrects.