X-Message-Number: 10057
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 20:51:02 -0400
From: Paul Wakfer <>
Newsgroups: sci.cryonics
Subject: Re: "scientific evidence"
References: <>

Note: this message is being posted without alteration to both CryoNet
and sci.cryonics.

Ettinger wrote:

> There has been some renewed discussion about the "scientific evidence"--or 
> 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.

Robert Ettinger has once again posted a message on the sci.cryonics
newsgroup which is completely "out-of-place" since it relates to
discussions which have by now proceeded quite far on the CryoNet email
list. Since there are many current readers of sci.cryonics (or future
readers of its archives) who will not have read the background to this
message, it is improper (really unethical, IMO) to make such a posting
without in addition, at least reproducing all the prior discussion.
Without that discussion (in which I played a major role, BTW), readers
are ill equipped to judge whether his statements about what has lead to
his posting are truth or fiction.

I therefore urge all readers of sci.cryonics to censure him for his
behavior (not strongly, since he is a relative newcomer to the
newsgroups and probably has little knowledge of  netiquette - not to
mention that he is suffering from a major disabilities by posting
through AOL which does not allow crossposting).

> 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.

Robert Ettinger is once again obfuscating reality and distorting the
English language by trying to equate "scientific", "evidence" and even
"rational". No one said (on Cryonet) that cryonics was not
"unscientific"! but only that it did not have scientific "evidence" for
it. As I have explained (on Cryonet) these two are quite different.
Naturally, even in the experimental sciences, scientists use theory,
rationality and prior proven science, to decide what experiments should
be done, however, they do not consider this thinking and decision making
"evidence". That is quite proper mainly because it is the technical
scientific *meaning* of the word "evidence". Robert Ettinger either does
not understand that or simply will not accept it. Just as he and others
have *distorted* the meaning of "suspended animation", he now wishes to
distort the meaning of "evidence".

> 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.

Here Robert Ettinger is beginning to sound exactly like those who argue
for colloidal mineral, aromatherapy, homeopathy, or any other as yet
unproved alternative medical approach to curing diseases. For someone
who purports to be so "scientific" and in favor of a "scientific
approach", his argument sounds suspiciously similar to so many who are
anti-science and technology, and even back-to-nature luddites.

To the establishment all theories which are practiced without evidence
for their success, are quite properly termed "quackery". To them, the
alternative medicine ideas stated above, and most life extension ideas
*are* "cryonics-like" in this sense and to the extent to which they are
practiced are quackery. The only valid reasons we have for objecting to
this are what I have previously elucidated (on CryoNet) and some others
(on CryoNet) have agreed with.

> The same reasoning applies to technology, if you want to make a distinction
> between technology and science.

I certainly do.

> 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%
> scientific.

But there is no "scientific evidence" until at least a working prototype
is made.

> For that matter, there is often only a reasonable probability of being right
> AFTER the new product has been brought to market.

You are confusing many things: efficacy, safety, salability, etc. These
are all completely different aspects of what is needed for "success",
which is quite unrelated to scientific truth or technological

> 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?

The word "scientific" simply has no application to that context.
> 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.

It is always advantageous to tell what you believe to be the truth.

> 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.

Again, you are confusing words. *One* positive experimental result is
evidence. For proof it takes a *lot* of positive experimental results
under many circumstances, by many different investigators, with
controls, etc. even double blinded if possible. Revolutionary ideas
which will change paradigms of thought require (quite properly again) an
enormous amount of such "evidence" before their *proof* is acceptable.

> 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). 

> 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.

At the beginning of this post you hurled out the word "absurd".
Now, I will throw it back to you. 
IMO, any attempt to compute the probability of any current patient's
restoration is "scientifically" absurd!
It may have some "rational" and "logical" components to it, but it is
still "scientifically" absurd.

> 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
> calculations.

Readers of your posts here respect you as the father of cryonics, but
scientists elsewhere will simply laugh at those calculations and be even
more convinced than ever that cryonicists are "quacks"
-- Paul --

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The Institute for Neural Cryobiology - http://neurocryo.org
Perfected cryopreservation of Central Nervous System tissue
for neuroscience research and medical repair of brain diseases

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