I don't necessarily think she is so incompetent as was mentioned in the podcast. She makes correct predictions (even apart from the "demented moments" as Caleb said). Despite the JKR quote that was discussed, it might also be that Trelawney's problem is that she misinterprets her visions. She sees the big black dog and interprets it as the grim but it really is Sirius as animagus. She sees someone will be leaving the class and she interprets it as a death but it really is just Hermione storming out. I think that she definitely has the "gift" to see but the gift to correctly interpret visions, i.e. to make predictions, just isn't there (other than those demented moments). Based on that distinction.... it seems like two different things - the seeing of future events and the detailed predictions of future happenings (if that makes sense). It’s like she gets short snippet visions (someone leaving the class) in normal life and then misinterprets them. At the other end of the spectrum, she gets these fully formed, body numbing, subconscious visions that are formal predictions. Her ineptitude at interpreting is sidestepped by her “demented moments.”
You guys also discussed her awareness of her inabilities. But I think she is frustrated that she continually misinterprets her visions... she would have figured out that what she was interpreting as a death among the students really just was Hermione's rebellion from Divination. She is frustrated that she continually misinterprets and eventually probably just makes the more dramatic proclamations to cover her lack of self-confidence.
I agree Hufflepuffskein. Specifically, for me, the best example is Harry's examination where he describes future events with Buckbeak. Both Trelawney and Harry are correct in their predictions. Trelawney sees Buckbeak's death by beheading, which had time travel not been used would have happened. Harry, in this scene, is oddly adamant about what he's seeing. After he begins his prediction with a lie, the narrator never again points out Harry lying, only that the perfumes are getting to his head. I propose that Harry is having a true vision of what's happening to Buckbeak. Harry sees what actually happens to Buckbeak. Is he willing it or is he seeing it? That's the fine line in Divination.
I've seen rumblings that JKR doesn't have a handle on Divination, but I think it's her most fully formed subject. To quote Yoda, "The future, always in motion it is. Difficult to see, it is." Go back to Dumbledore discussing the Prophecy with Harry at the end of Book 5. Yoda's principle applies in the Hogwarts saga also. Accurate predictions can be made, but only when every possible variable is no longer a variable.
For example in THE Prophecy, Voldemort was at the height of his power, now only fearing Dumbledore. He trusted no one. And luckily for him, Peter Pettigrew, a traitor, became the Potter's Secret Keeper. Therefore, when THE Prophecy is made, in the Hog's Head, with Snape present, the outcome is unchangeable. Upon receiving the information there's only one course Voldemort would take (killing the boy). There's no alternate action Voldmort could have taken, given his psychology. There's no way for him to be stopped by anyone. There's no way he wouldn't do it himself. So the prediction is possible because there's no other possibility. It is inevitable. That is how a true prophecy comes into being. There's no true prophecies for something like, "On May 21, 2015, John Doe will eat toast at 3:45 A.M." because the variables for that prediction are far too many.
This is why its an "inexact" form of magic. Reading the signs (and the stars) has so many variables that you can rarely be sure. But if you study the subject hard, you could predict certain broad issues. Like, "Mars is bright tonight." AKA "War is coming." And occasionally you could get things one hundred percent right, like Trelawney. (I know in the Hall of Prophecies, Dumbledore says there are many prophecies that are not fulfilled, but I'll bet that there were only two possibilities with regards to the said prophecies. Unlike other predictions, which have unlimited possibilities.)
However, the point JKR makes with Divination and with Harry's painful past, is that you have to live in the present. There's only fate on the surface. (If you're in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 there's nothing you can do.) However, There is no emotional fate. Do you either accept defeat or walk into the arena with you held high. (Dumbledore said it better, but I can't find the quote).Time Travel
Now on to time travel, another one of JKR's genius moments that many readers don't like. Do you know how in Back to the Future
it's explained that if you change something in the past it creates a tangent? Your time is one line, and then an alternate time is created on a different line. There could be two separate versions of time, of your life.
Present time: -------------------------
Tangent time: ----------\____________
Well, that doesn't happen in the Hogwarts saga. There's only one timeline and if you mess with it you can find yourself in an unappealing predicament. The basics. No one can see you meddle with time. Harry and Hermione can't be seen at the end of POA because everyone who would see them would realize something wasn't right and would change there actions accordingly. However, Hermione is able to attend separate classes at the exact same time because all of those people are in different places at the same time and therefore wouldn't realize that something is wrong.
Now that's just for other people. For yourself, when you change time, there's another rule. Your self in the present can't be seen by yourself from the "future". The reason being is, that if you see yourself, then you'd know that you'd already changed time and therefore you wouldn't need to go back and change time. Perhaps, you've noticed the paradox already. If not think about this. What if Dumbledore had walked into the hospital ward and told Harry and Hermione, "Your time-turner worked. You saved Sirius and Buckbeak and everything's alright. (Hermione) Well Harry, that's great. I guess there's no need to go back and fix everything because we've already done it." See the problem? You would already know that you've done it, so there would be no motivation for you to do it.
In order to change time, you have to have the understanding that time needs to be changed
. That's key.
Another point: The Present and time-turning to the past at that moment are the same thing.
When Harry and Hermione are changing time, that happens at the same time as them not changing time. Your not in two different timelines, your in the same present even if you yourself go "back in time." When Harry and Hermione are in the hospital wing, Fudge knows that Buckbeak has escaped. Thank God he didn't mention that to Snape because he knows that Buckbeak wasn't beheaded. Remember, JKR's Golden Rule, when you die you die. If Harry and Hermione had failed to save Buckbeak in time they couldn't go back to save him. Death is irreparable. Since Buckbeak is being saved in the present when Harry and Hermione go back to save him it was imperative that they not see Buckbeak's beheading. They had to see just enough to think that he did die. Otherwise, there would be no need to save him.
Some have described this as a loop. I like to think of it as a circle. A circle has no beginning and no end. If your on the right side of the circle and you go back in time to the left side, the circle remains the same no matter what you do. But when you zoom in to that miniscule bit of time, it seems like your altering time itself. On the grand scheme of things, though, your just making choices that effect the future, no different then choosing to go to lunch at noon instead of eleven.
Wow, JKR is smart! I tried to make that as simple as possible and that's as short as I could make it. Also, I made a similarly long-winded description of the Marauder's map on Episode 25's discussion forum that give my answer to the map discussion on this episode for anyone interested.