X-Message-Number: 1036
Date: 21 Jul 92 12:12:34 EDT
From: Charles Platt <>

The following is for posting in Cryonet. I don't know whether 
it is appropriate for sci.cryonics; I suspect maybe not.



                  Raising Money for Cryonics 

I recently returned from visiting Nevada, where I spent two 
hours talking to Don Laughlin, an Alcor member worth 
somewhere between $200 million and $300 million. Laughlin 
owns a casino-hotel on the state line between Nevada and 
Arizona. He also owns much of the land around the town that 
now bears his name. 

I found Mr. Laughlin tough, brusque, but very easy to talk 
to. He has a great sense of humor and his reasons for signing 
up with Alcor are the same reasons I hear from many 
cryonicists. The only difference between "him and us" is that 
he has more money than most of us, and is therefore in a 
position to help the cryonics movement if he chooses to do 
so. Why has he not done so? And what would encourage him to 
do so in the future? 

The answers (as I perceive them) are as follows: 

Mr. Laughlin is an extremely practical, pragmatic 
businessman. All of his wealth was earned through his own 
foresight and efforts. He has a very shrewd assessment of the 
value of money, and I can't see him spending any of it 
(literally, not one dime) on anything that doesn't look as if 
it is very likely to pay a dividend. 

His reasons for not investing in the proposed building in 
Phoenix reflect this attitude. He told me that he was 
disturbed by the squabbling that was occurring over this 
building. He also seemed unhappy with the way it was 
presented: hastily, and not as a proper business plan. He 
said he had decided to wait till Alcor got its act together. 

He also reminded me that he owns a ranch south of Kingman, 
Arizona, which he has offered *free* to Alcor. This ranch is 
on (I think) 21,000 acres of land. It is well insulated from 
the outside world and we could feel fairly confident of lack 
of bureaucratic inteference. It is in a stable geological 
area where there has been no seismic disturbance greater than 
3.5 on the Richter scale in the past 100 years. Obviously it 
would not be suitable as a "front office" but could be used 
for patient storage. Some snags: a new building would be 
needed, the climate is hot (though not as hot as in Phoenix), 
and there are no urban amenities. I gather that people from 
Alcor have been out to look at the ranch, but no decision has 
been made, and the membership as a whole has not been 
informed of this potential option. 

Also present in the meeting with Mr. Laughlin was Jackson 
Zinn, who talked generally about the need for more money in 
cryonics to tackle various tasks. Mr. Laughlin praised Mr. 
Zinn's ideas but didn't say a word about offering him any 
financial assistance. Afterward, I asked Mr. Laughlin's head 
of security (who had sat in on the meeting) whether it had 
been clear to him that Zinn had been hinting about money. 
"Yeah, he threw out the bait," the head of security said, 
with a grin. I said that Mr. Laughlin must have people in his 
board room asking him for money all the time. I received a 
nod and another grin. Therefore, I think it's certain that 
Mr. Laughlin was aware of what Jackson Zinn wanted, but he 
chose not to respond. 

At another point during the meeting, I mentioned the need for 
research into higher-temperature patient storage to avoid the 
cracking that occurs in liquid nitrogen. Mr. Laughlin seemed 
concerned. He had been unaware of the cracking problem. "If 
some people put together a proper business plan, looking for 
funds to do research and build prototype refrigeration 
equipment, should they send you a copy of this plan?" I 

"Absolutely," Mr. Laughlin replied. And he wasn't just being 

>From this I deduce some rather basic, obvious conclusions: 

     1. We are unlikely to get money from a self-made 
     centimillionaire by making vague, generalized appeals. 

     2. If we want someone to invest in a project, we have to 
     do a thorough job of solicitation. This should include 
     all the potential problems and pitfalls, not just a rosy 
     view of what we hope will happen. A cost-benefit 
     analysis is essential. A comparison with other ways of 
     achieving the same end is also helpful. The solicitation 
     should be as brief and factual as possible. 

I came away from the meeting with the strong impression that 
Mr. Laughlin would respond helpfully if he was approached in 
a professional, businesslike manner. (I had the same 
impression after I met Austin Tupler earlier this year--
another self-made businessman.) 

regard it as a business investment. If there is a way of 
making cryonics more likely to pay off, they will be more 
likely to invest. If it just looks like a bunch of well-
intentioned but slightly flaky amateurs arguing with each 
other, they won't want to get involved. 

I must emphasize, however, that merely trying to put a PR 
gloss on Alcor is not sufficient. We need to do more than 
concern ourselves with appearances. Indeed, a wealthy 
individual may completely ignore superficial appearances. For 
instance, Mr. Laughlin said that he was not put off in the 
slightest by the appearance of Alcor's current facility. He 
was impressed by the tour that he made, and he was impressed 
by the non-rosy assessment that he received from Mike Darwin 
at that time. 

An additional factor that must make it hard for Alcor to 
raise money, right now, is the lack of any overall statement 
of goals and plans for the next few years. If people don't 
know exactly what an organization plans to do, how it hopes 
to do it, and why, how can they possibly put money into it? 
Right now, to be blunt, I would not put money into Alcor 
myself, simply because I have no idea what the money would be 
used for.  

I'm a hard-core cryo-believer at this point, and I put a lot 
of time into cryonics-related activities. If someone like me 
does not feel ready to donate even $100, how can we expect a 
man like Don Laughlin to invest many times that sum? 

I realize this sounds critical of Alcor. I must emphasize 
that I have great faith in the intelligence, the ability, and 
the dedication of the people at Riverside, and I demonstrate 
my faith by continuing to entrust them with my life. All I 
want is to see the formidable talents at Alcor applied in a 
more coordinated, directed way, so that we know what's going 
on, we know what the objectives are, and we see how much 
progress is being made in achieving them. Right now, we don't 
even have a budget for the organization. 

I realize that it is a lot easier to criticize than to 
produce results. Bearing this in mind, I hereby offer my  
services as a writer if anyone has a business plan that they 
want to prepare. I have made 95% of my living by writing, 
teaching writing, and book-editing for the past 25 years. 
I've done everything from quick novels to corporate 
proposals. Also, I have some experience dealing with 
corporate executives. If any cryonicist wants my writing or 
editing services for a project that will help cryonics, these 
services are freely available. 

--Charles Platt 


For cryonics humor section:

What's the difference between a rhinovirus and a neurosuspension?

A rhinovirus is likely to give you a head cold.
A neurosuspension, on the other hand . . . . 

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