X-Message-Number: 10055
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 14:31:44 EDT
Subject: "scientific evidence"

There has been some renewed discussion about the "scientific evidence"--or
lack of it--that cryonics will work. Some tend to support, or at least excuse,
the "establishment" view that such evidence is lacking. 

As a public relations tactic, this is arguable. As fact, it is not. The
"establishment" view is flatly absurd.

First, consider a new line of investigation undertaken by a "scientist." Does
he know for sure, in advance, that it will be fruitful? Of course not. Does he
think there is rational cause for optimism? Of course--else he (or his
employers) wouldn't be doing it. Is he therefore--by his own argument, or that
attributed to him--being "unscientific?" Nonsense! He is (usually) being
scientific, making rational tentative judgments about the future, based on
explicit or implicit probability calculations. 

The "establishment" does NOT have a viewpoint that excludes cryonics-like
endeavors--only one that excludes cryonics, or/and any other enterprise "not
invented here" or unpopular for some other reason.

The same reasoning applies to technology, if you want to make a distinction
between technology and science. When a new [anything] is in the investigation
or planning stages, or even in the early stages of development, does the
engineer know for sure that there will be a payoff? Of course not--same
argument. We make probability estimates and act on them. This is 100%

For that matter, there is often only a reasonable probability of being right
AFTER the new product has been brought to market. Look at thalidomide or a
thousand gadgets that turned out to have serious dangers or defects. Was it
"unscientific" to use them? Who said so at the time?

In my opinion, it will rarely, if ever, be advantageous to concede that we do
not have scientific evidence that cryonics will work, or even that the chances
are poor. In principle--and again, in my opinion, in practice--we need only
concede the obvious, that we do not yet have PROOF that it will work. We DO
have evidence, and should never concede otherwise.

I continue to recommend the following type of response, when met with negative
opinions. Simply ask, first, what is the individual's estimate of the
probability that cryonics will work (that current patients will be revived).
If he does not produce a number (or range), then his assertion is meaningless.
If he does produce a number, demand to see the calculations and derivation--I
guarantee he will not exhibit any, or any that are defensible.

If he asks to see OUR calculations, mine are on the CI web site.

If the individual is not hostile, but merely skeptical, then we go through the
usual routine of trotting out our reasoning--and for those so inclined, my

We don't have proof. We do have evidence. To concede otherwise is certainly
incorrect and probably counterproductive.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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