Is There Scientific Evidence that the Factions of Divergent are Meaningful?

There’s a little bit of Gilderoy Lockhart in all academics. Every once in a while, I am vain enough to do a Google search to see if anyone is talking about my research. Imagine my delight when, last January, I ran across two conference papers, from 2014 and 2015, by Brazilian psychologist Dr. Bruno Campello de Souza. Souza, and colleague Dr. Antonio Roazzi, apparently tried to match people’s Divergent Factions (as determined by the relatively simple 7-question Faction quiz published in the e-book) with the Five Factors and numerous other traits such as IQ, values, and professions. They also, to my delight and surprise, cited my Hogwarts Professor post as a reference, which, I believe, is a first.

While my understanding of the 2014 paper was limited–it’s in Portuguese–the 2015 paper had apparently partially confirmed my idea, linking Candor with Extroversion, and Erudite with Openness to Experience. Abnegation, interestingly, linked not only with Conscientiousness, but also with Agreeableness and Stability. The latter fits nicely with my characterization of the old Dauntless at the Stable end of the Neurotic domain, and the new Dauntless at the Instability end. Remember Tobias’s theory that bravery and unselfishness are the same thing and his remark that he could have just as easily been in Abnegation? Dauntless did not link with Neuroticism, but that did not surprise me, given that split nature of that faction, and its tendency to attract both the highly stable (Tobias) and unstable (Eric, Al, Peter). Amity did also not line up with Agreeableness, but you can’t have everything.  [Read more…]

Guest Post: PotterPundit at Cursed Child

Dolores Gordon-Smith, acclaimed author of the Jack Haldean mysteries and profound Potter Pundit, went to see the West End production of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.’ I begged her to write up her thoughts, she complied graciously and gave me her permission to post these notes here. To read J. K. Rowling’s long interview on the subject last week go here and to buy tickets for the 2018 opening of ‘Cursed Child’ in NYC with most of the original cast, try this.

Well, I’ve seen it! And what did I think?

The stage craft is just superb, with audible gasps from the audience on occasion. Honestly, the set designs are just stunning and the acting – for the most part – is terrific. Snape, young and old Harry, excellent Draco, Scorpius was amazing, Albus was good and Ron was outstanding – all excellent.

However, I didn’t like the way Hermione was written. She never looked at/mentioned a book and seemed to shout an awful lot. She improved in the second act but she still wasn’t Hermione. I haven’t got any problem with casting a black actress (although Hermione in the books isn’t black) but she lost her academic edge totally.

Ginny – she shouted an awful lot, too, and there was none of the devilry or charm that Ginny has in the books.

There’s a great story in there, but marred in the telling. If you’ve read the script, you know what the problems are.

Why has Harry made such a dog’s dinner of bringing up Albus when James and Lily are fine? It’s all to get Albus and Scorpius to the point where they try and change the Tri-Wizard tournament and prevent Cedric from dying, but it’s so clumsy.

You know; you’ve read it. But all the angst seems so unnecessary.

And why is Dumbledore so lachrymose? He and Harry sorted everything out and tied up the ends of their story at Kings Cross, so why is he now breaking his heart over the way he ‘brought up’ Harry?

The last scene is brilliant, with the murder of Lily and James but it took a lot of getting to.

And no; I can well believe that Beatrix Lestrange would want Voldemort’s child, but why does Voldermort want offspring? He’s immortal – he doesn’t want to share that with anyone.

Delphine could easily have wanted to be Voldemort’s daughter – you’d have the same effect without anyone who gets Voldermort thinking, “Yeah, right”.

So brilliant staging, some excellent acting but the script needed some drastic editing to make the story stand up.

It got a standing ovation though.

BBC1 Strike: The Silkworm Episode 2

Thanks to Candice — and to our Friend in Iraq who captures and uploads the shows for us outside BBC1 broadcast range! Again, watch while you can; it may be taken down at any time.

Pottery Barn Potter: Why we love and lament it

This week, retail furniture giant Pottery Barn revealed its new Harry Potter décor collection for teens (okay, let’s all snigger about that as we get out our grown-up wallets). The collection features authentically fashioned, drool-inducing items such as a Golden Snitch clock (because “time flies”), flying keys to hold your jewelry (if you trust them to stay put), an absolutely gorgeous Mirror of Erised (no word on whether it will show you holding the $400 you’ll need to purchase same) and more. Now you can go into your local Pottery Barn and purchase pillows, sheets, throws and backpacks to show your Hogwarts House pride, or even a lap desk with hidden storage (which I guess makes it worth $100?) in the stripes of your clan. Mixed in with the replica items are Hogwarts-inspired décor such as midnight blue velvet drapes, glittery gold bed skirts, vintage-chic rugs and armchairs “squashy” enough for the Gryffindor common room. Here’s a link to the collection. Clicking on it will result in either a fannish frenzy of superfluous spending or – if your financial situation is more like mine – a persistent and painful longing for stuff you can’t afford. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. [Read more…]

Coming up September 22-24: Queen City Mischief and Magic

Staunton, VA is throwing its second annual Harry Potter festival next weekend, and it is going to be amazing!  Festivities start Friday night and continue all weekend, and most of the businesses in historic downtown Staunton are transforming themselves and offering all sorts of free and low-cost activities for the community.

I myself have spent most of the summer rounding up speakers for Mary Baldwin University‘s contribution to the weekend.  Fittingly for the home of Mary Baldwin College for Women, on Friday night there will be a series called “Hermione’s Army” focusing on everyone’s favorite Hogwarts bibliophile and the female YA heroines she inspired: particularly Hogwarts Professor favorites like Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior.  The keynote address will be given by none other than Dr. Lana Whited, noted expert in both Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.  And I get to talk about psychology in both The Hunger Games and Divergent on the same night!

Then, on Saturday, Francis Auditorium will become Beauxbatons Academy, and host a day-long series of talks on a variety of Potter- and Potter- related topics. We’ll cover topics from Mary Julia Baldwin herself (and how she was like Dumbledore!) to the real Nicholas Flamel (courtesy of Dr. Whited, yet again!) to the wonders of owls to the language of runes. I am going to be offering a preview of my Chestnut Hill talk on scientific names inspired by the wizarding world and speaking about my own work Harry Potter and empathy.

In addition, we will have live owls and snakes, courtesy of the Virginia Wildlife Center.  Local Potterphiles should definitely drop by for some learning. laughter, and Sorting Hat cookies.