X-Message-Number: 10440
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 20:54:31 -0400
From: "Stephen W. Bridge" <>
Subject: Selling Cryonics

To CryoNet
From Steve Bridge, Chairman
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
September 19, 1998
Well, shoot, as if I didn't have enough to do....  But I really have to
respond to Jeff Davis, who seems to think that none of us have ever
thought about what it takes to sell the concept of cryonics to the public:
>Message #10435
>Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 15:04:47 -0700
>From: Jeff Davis <>
>Subject: selling cryonics
Jeff proceeds to lecture us on basic principles of selling and how they
might apply to cryonics, without knowing that most of these methods have
been tried and failed or have been found wanting, unethical, or suicidal.
We HAVE worked on this, Jeff.  It may SEEM like we all just sit around and
type messages for CryoNet, but it ain't so.
>     Consider.  Someone is offering for sale perfect health, perpetual
>youth, and an opportunity to experience all that the future has in store,
>in a society at least as good as the one we've got now, and probably
>much, much better.  He hires a salesman and sends him out.  The salesman
>comes back, shakes his head and say, "No one's buying."  Which of the
>following possible conclusions seems most likely?
>(1) The product is unsellable.
>(2) The salesman's approach is inadequate.
>(3) The salesman's approach is monumentally inadequate.
Let's try NUMBER (4):  *He doesn't really have that product to sell!*
We do NOT have for sale "perfect health, perpetual youth, and an
opportunity to experience all that the future has in store..."  Cryonics
will not give anyone perfect health or perpetual youth.  IF that happens
(very likely, in my opinion, but not guaranteed), it will come from
genetic research, nanotechnology, and biochemistry and medicine, both
normal and exotic.  Cryonics, at most MIGHT give someone "an opportunity
to experience all that the future has in store..."; but even at that the
opportunity *today* is vague and unproven.
In an anthology called The Big Book of Jewish Humor, I recently read "To
sell something you have to someone who wants it -- that is not business.
But to sell something you don't have to someone who doesn't want it -- now
THAT is business."  (no source was given)
We offer something for sale that we don't have (suspended animation and a
chance at the future) to tens of millions of people who barely care
whether they live through next week.  Even if we HAD such a prize to offer
for sale, most of them wouldn't buy.  And most of the people who *want*
such a product can see that we don't have it to sell.
So why do we even have 800 or so signed up cryonicists in the world?  Are
we all idiots?  That is one possible conclusion, I suppose.  But primarily
we have people who:
1) know the product isn't yet ready yet,
2) understand that the concept is logical, so there might be such a
product ready one day,
3) think it is cool to be involved in the early days of this concept,
4) understand that through life insurance they might be able to afford
cryonics if they start saving now, but not if they wait until the product
is perfected, and
5) believe they have damn few options elsewhere in case the worst happens
Cryonics as "unproven technology" is obviously a hard concept to sell to
most people.  But to sell anything else would be dishonest hucksterism.
We could be more successful as hucksters, I'm sure; but we would also be
derided and almost certainly ridden out of town on the proverbial rail.
The primary reason we haven't been run out of business so far is that we
have been HONEST and told reporters and visitors that "we don't know if
cryonics will work.  There are several intriguing reasons to think that it
might work; but we can't prove it yet."  Sometimes (maybe MOST of the
time) the reaction is "they may be idiots, but at least they're not a con
job trying to steal money from people."
And fortunately, once in a while the answer is, "Hey these guys are
upfront about the problems; I think I'll join them" (for reasons 1-5
>A systematic analysis conducted according to proven methodologies of
>market research (a fascinating project, possibly breaking new ground in
>the field of marketing) would be really helpful.  Without it we have
>cocktail party conversation.
And Saul or the rest of us should spend our incomes on doing a marketing
survey before we spend it seeing if a product is possible?  Why don't YOU
do the survey then?
>        Saul goes on:
>   "... there is a long history of competent promoters, entrepreneurs and
>sales people committing themselves to the growth of cryonics,..."
>         Again, I disagree, and Saul's own phrasing seems to support me,
>characterizing them, largely, as a passel of hucksters.
Saul's examples are not good; but they also leave out Charles Platt's
efforts, my efforts, those of Mike Darwin, Irving Rand, Saul Kent himself
(a darn good salesman in the supplement field), Bob Ettinger, and others,
including various sales wizards who dove in, hated what they saw they had
to sell, and dove out again.
>So here are some general approaches.
>Plant the idea before the defenses are built, ie. when they're young and
I have spoken to over 100 school classes and given hundreds of interviews
to radio, TV, and print media.  Hundreds of children from 4th grade
through college write to Alcor every year for information for writing
reports.  Seeds are being planted, but most of these kids won't face their
mortality in any meaningful, proactive way for 10-20 years minimum.
>Disguise the idea and sneak it in (fable or folk tale or TV series).
Have you read James Halperin's book *The First Immortal?*  Have you seen
the many television shows and films that HAVE been made using information
packages from Alcor and other groups?
>Escort the idea in with a trusted emissary: mom, Doc Smith, cultural
>icon, Walter Cronkhite.
It's been tried.  Famous people apparently prefer to look like fools in
the bedroom rather than like a fool who wants to live forever.  Go figure.
But spending a huge amount of energy on finding a famous person to endorse
cryonics is foolish.  From the semi-famous who have occasionally endorsed
it, we have gotten damn few new members, not even their own families and
>Hitch the idea to a powerful force: love, sex, money, freedom, fear.
All have been tried.
>Seek and exploit a moment of enhanced vulnerability, ie., when the
>defenses are breached by circumstance.  (More on this later.)  Attack the
>defenses with deliberate violence: Enlightenment and life, or ignorance
>and death? Your choice.  Find a back door/unguarded entry.  (More later.)
>Lay seige and wear them down.  Peaceably persist, persuade, assist,
>insinuate, assimilate, and convert.
All of these can only be done one-on-one and all of us "old-timers" have
used them all, occasionally with success.
>Here are some tactics.
Most of those following suggestions (cut here for space) were just that --
"tactics" to persuade someone to buy what you don't have to sell.  People
who buy like that generally follow-up their purchases with calls to the
Better Business Bureau, their congressman, their city council, and the
local Tar, Torch, and Pitchfork store.  Silliness and a waste of time,
with a devastating result the most likely result.
>Pet owners.
The complications in this are more than you can ever imagine.  Alcor has
done several pet suspensions for cryonicists and even they are far more
trouble than most of the human suspensions.  YOU go freeze pets for non-
cryonicists.  Make sure to have at least one good full-time lawyer, and
don't expect that "revenue stream" to pay for him for quite a while.
Feel free to get rich with this with our blessing.
>The Society for the Preservation of Cultural Treasures.
>What is a Frank Sinatra worth? A George Burns? A Barbra Streisand?  A
>Pablo Casals? A Lauren Bacall?  An Oprah Winfrey?  A Michael Jordan?  An
>Albert Einstein?  These people, and others like them are (or were) loved
>by MILLIONS.  Millions who would readily pay to "save" them.
Baloney.  First, people won't contribute to freeze someone who could
afford it himself.  Second, beyond perhaps Diana and Elvis, there isn't
ANYONE who could get enough donations for unproven freezing (even if you
could find someone willing to say they WANT to be frozen and to humble
themselves enough to say they WANT the donations.  You misjudge fame.
>At the following internet address
>you can find the statistics for 564,000 people who will(?) succomb to
>cancer in 1998.
>Where is the outreach program to inform these candidates of the cryonics
There isn't one and there isn't going to BE one for a long time, until we
can PROVE we have something better than just very cold laetrile to offer
them.  We would look like greedy conmen offering these people "false hope"
(not false to me, but false to 99% of the public).  Alcor has had short-
lived discussions of doing the same in the AIDS community.  You can't
believe the flack we got from just quiet probing of the idea.  People
don't like con artists and until we can prove we are not, chasing
ambulances is a VERY bad idea.
>Success is a near certainty.  We cannot be cowed or diverted from
>our ethical duty by dissapproval, small mindedness, or lack of vision.
>We should be pursuing cancer victims like a cheap lawyer on his way to a
>hundred-car pile-up.
Pardon me if I say that is *exactly* the sort of metaphor that you do not
want to use and which would make me want to stay far away from if you
started your own cryonics company.
Long-term success means long-term thinking and long-time hard work; not
fast, let's-make-a-quick-buck thinking.  There are dozens of things people
can do to persuade their friends and families to get involved and to make
waves in the smaller world around them.  Several of us on CryoNet and
elsewhere have discussed those.
I wrote a Cryonics article (posted also to Cryonet) about 1994 or 1995
called "Selling Cryonics."  My teen-ager is on the Internet computer so I
can't look it up.  But please see that for further discussion of what has
been done and what some of the problems are that we have to overcome.
But "honesty" should never be thought of as a problem to overcome.
Steve Bridge
Alcor Foundation

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