29

Throughout the series, there are many muggles which we see that know about the wizarding world, and no effort seems to be made to stop them. All of them seem to fit into the mold of family of wizards, but let me just make a list of the ones we know about.

  1. The Dursleys.
  2. Hermione's parents
  3. Lily/Petunia's family seemed to know a bunch as well.
  4. The British Prime Minister.

I'm sure there are others, but this seems to be a fair start. Why are they allowed to know, and what measures prevent such people from telling other people, letting the cat out of the bag?

  • 1
    Great Britain's Prime Minister also knows about them, and not just because he's given notice about Voldemort and the Death Eaters. – Tango Jun 12 '11 at 16:00
  • Good point, I'll add him to the list. – PearsonArtPhoto Jun 12 '11 at 16:04
  • There are also the muggle spouses of wizards. Snape's father for instance. – TGnat Jun 12 '11 at 16:21
  • According to Pottermore, Peuntia told Veron in the guy about her sister after a late-night movie date and she was crying. – Anne Charming Jan 31 '15 at 2:58
  • I wonder if the opposition has a Shadow Minister of Magic... – Spencer Sep 22 '19 at 1:34
43

This is a slightly different variation on Tango's answer:

Why do some Muggles know?

There are two categories:

  • Relatives of witches/wizards.

    This is for practical reason (easier when they know); as well as ethical (the wizards with muggle families probably don't WANT to hide from the family, and would likely object to magical means of screwing with families' heads).

  • Government liaison (E.g. Prime Minister of the UK)

    This is:

    1. to ensure that there is no major issues in case of some contact

    2. to assist wizarding world when needed (e.g. search for Sirius Black).

    3. Presumably, so that PM can stop any law enforcement/intelligence agencies from looking in the "magic" direction if they start.

Why isn't that a Big Deal considering the efforts to hide wizarding word from Muggles?

Three reasons:

  1. The relatives are unlikely to say anything if they are explained that "outing" wizarding world will have bad consequences for EVERY wizard, their wizarding family members included.

  2. Who's gonna believe those who say anything? Remember Fudge's chat with PM:

    Cornelius Fudge: "The Minister of Magic only reveals him--or herself to the Muggle Prime Minister of the day. We find it the best way to maintain secrecy."

    Prime Minister: ""But then, why hasn't a former Prime Minister warned me?"

    Cornelius Fudge: "My dear Prime Minister, are you ever going to tell anybody?"

    I mean, you start trying to tell the truth like that; at best you would be thought of as a wackjob and some know-it-all from http://skeptics.stackexchange.com gets a bunch of up-votes showing just why you're nuts; at worst you get put into the psychiatric institution.

  3. Plus, there are magical ways of dealing with exceptions to the first two. (memory charms etc...). Could even be some sort of magically binding "don't tell" oath similar to Unbreakable Vow as preventive measure.

    P.S. Dursleys are a bit different - they don't fit into #1; but they don't even need #3 as they actively pretend magical world doesn't exist all on their own.

  • 9
    The additional reason for letting wizards families know is that they have to take the kids away at age 11. Even if you're a wizard its hugely unethical to take away an 11 year old and lie about where you've taken them. Where are you going to tell the parents they've gone that won't have them asking awkward questions. And for practical purposes the Dursleys are Harry's parents. – DJClayworth Jun 13 '11 at 21:15
  • 1
    The Dursleys pretend that magic doesn't exist largely because of Petunia, I think, and then because Harry showed up on their doorstep. First, Petunia's jealous, and always has been, of wizards like her sister Lily. She didn't like to talk to Vernon about her side of the family, and Vernon eventually just stopped asking. Then, Harry showed up, and Petunia had to tell Vernon at least some of what was going on. Obviously Harry was a threat to Vernon's perfectly ordered life, and so he was all too keen to suppress Harry's magic any way he could. – KeithS Oct 20 '11 at 1:42
8

It's just plain practicality. If you have a large group that exists in secrecy, it's unavoidable that they'll need to interact with the rest of the world in one way or another. I don't remember any kind of binding spell to keep them from talking, but if you have a witch or wizard entering into the magical community from the muggle world, you're going to have to deal with the family.

It's possible you could use spells to create a false perception, for instance, casting a spell on the Grangers to make them think Hermione is just going to a school for the gifted, but that would not be fair to them or to Hermione, since Hermione would be limited in what she can tell them about her new life and they would not have a fair or clear picture of the choices made with their daughter's life. With the Dursleys, there's almost no way to avoid it, considering everything that's happened within their extended family.

If they are, in some way, bound from talking about the magical world with others, then there's no real advantage of hiding the truth from them if they will need to be closely involved with someone in that world.

It's also possible it's part of the agreement made by muggles and the magic world that involved the witches and wizards withdrawing and remaining hidden. If part of that is a magic agreement to not deceive families of witches and wizards, then there is no choice but to be honest.

5

The most effective way we came up with was having some no name muggle tell a story of our world. After all who would believe someone who tries to say that such fantastical tales are true especially when they have been written about as fiction. Those who try are now renouced as delusional and insane and you lock them up for us... Oh wait I should not have told you that!

Obliviate! Now thats a good muggle run along

  • Rita Skeeter... err, I mean J.K. Rowling, is that you? – user11521 Aug 9 '15 at 23:53

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