Jul 06, 2020 12:10 PM
Isabella Swan is a high school student who gets struck by a motor vehicle
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"Huh. And this happens a lot?"

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"It's sort of the way Professor Nightstar is on a fundamental level, to the point where I couldn't really count up a number of occasions aside from saying, 'Well, this is the total amount of time I've spent in Professor Nightstar's presence.'"

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"Did he at some point convince you this wasn't concerning?"

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"Of course it's concerning.  However, in the long run, we have very little alternative to following the lines of Reason wherever they may lead us.  If they sometimes lead us astray, we have the option of becoming better at Reason or giving up on Reason, and the second course is not going to lead us less astray.  Reason, indeed, is distinguished mainly by being the only process of thought in which it is at all more difficult for people to come up with persuasive wrong answers.  You could even say that Reason is defined as precisely those rules of argument which impose the greatest gap of difficulty between persuasively arguing for wrong answers and persuasively arguing for right answers.  Thus, it is not possible to do any better than believing Professor Nightstar when he says something that sounds very reasonable and persuasive."

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"And what does your model of Professor Nightstar think of the fact that I am currently leaning towards talking to Magister Sting instead precisely because he's managed to instill this impression?"

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"That Haroun Pevers is not doing a very good job of presenting the case in favor of thinking reasonably and letting other people argue with you about what is reasonable, even given the fact that some people have greater Skill than others at coming up with persuasive arguments that sound reasonable; because the whole point is that those Skills correlate with what figuring out what is reasonable."

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"Surrrre. I'm gonna talk to Magister Sting. I don't think my thing protects me against people just choosing their words really well."

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"Right, sooo... on the flip side of things, Magister Sting seems, like, thirteen times likelier to let you make your own mistakes and learn from them, where Professor Nightstar would tell you plainly and in advance why you were being an idiot so that you'd learn to trust him next time."

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"...and you think she'd do this even at the, uh, macro-scale?"

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"Not at literally the biggest scale.  But if she considered trying to talk you out of losing, I don't know, one city somewhere, I can very easily visualize her worrying that this would constitute micro-managing you and you'd never learn to make your own decisions and take responsibility for monitoring yourself, if she told you in advance what you were about to do wrong, because then the only Skill you're really acquiring is asking Magister Sting about things, and what happens then after a dragon eats her.  And I'm not really doing a good job of presenting her case, any more than I'm doing a good job of presenting Professor Nightstar's case, it's just, you've got to remember that she has tier-4 Teaching Skills and that can be both a good thing and a bad thing."

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"Well, it sounds to me like it's possible to go from listening to Sting to listening to Nightstar more easily than it is to make the other transition."

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"I would've strongly recommended talking to both if only it didn't double the fricking risk.  I definitely feel like I wouldn't have ended up as this whole me, without knowing both of them."

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"Yeah. I think I'm going to start with Sting. It sounds like Nightstar has strong opinions about what people like me should be doing and that's appealing on a certain level but combines very badly with an unbroken track record of convincing people he's right all the time, especially if I consider the advice of my acquaintance of indeterminate gender."

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"Things I should say before you make a final decision on trusting Magister Sting, as opposed to, I dunno, trying to flounder your way through classes first for a while... um, Magister Sting is old, wacky to the point it might hypothetically annoy some people, and is very much the sort to have secret connections to High Elves and elder dragons even though she certainly gives off the impression that she wouldn't talk to them without your agreement."

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"Okay. New plan, I try to lie low and see if Sting is like 'hey an elf told me a funny story'."

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"Huh.  Now that I'm thinking about it explicitly, lying low probably means getting a different backpack for school, and then consciously avoiding Sting and Nightstar even so.  I estimate something like an independent 40% chance for each of them that they figure out what you are, after 10 seconds of conversation, for reasons I don't even understand."

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"Okay, where do I buy a backpack, and is it an awful idea to do amateur sewing to get the zipper onto it? I am confident I can do that in a way that will be functional but it will probably be ugly. I'm hoping the zipper will confuse thieves."

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"See, Magister Sting would have talked to a High Elf who'd seen a zipper three thousand years ago, and Professor Nightstar would look at a zipper and deduce that it implied a manufacturing process that worked well for making hundreds of precisely identical tiny things, someplace that found that cheaper to do than applying a corresponding enchantment."

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"So I should cover the zipper with a flap or something."

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Simple solutions to complex problems.  "Yeah, we can probably have that done in (a couple of minutes) if you're willing to pay gold to a high-tier tailor."

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"That alone'll make the whole backpack pass muster?"

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"So far as I know.  The problem is that Magister Sting and Professor Nightstar are both smarter than I am.  It's hard to spend lots of useful effort being paranoid about people who are fundamentally going to come at the problem from a different angle than I'm imagining them to use."

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"Well, let's get it flapped." She gets it flapped, main compartment zipper and pocket both.

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And heading back towards the campus!  Haroun's student medallion gets him in through the main gate of the academy, and he's enough of an honor student that they're willing to take his word about escorting Bella straight to the primary registration office.

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Bella would like a buffet pass please and thank you.

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