X-Message-Number: 10445
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 09:33:29 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #10437 - #10442


So here is my two cents or more on the "selling cryonics" issue.

First of all, I strongly agree that using salesman's tactics will not
produce an increase in the number of cryonicists. And just as Steve
Bridge says, we might even get ourselves in serious trouble if we do.

However when Saul Kent and Charles Platt claim that the current offer
falls way short, and that this lack accounts for the lack of recruits,
I must disagree also.

Yes, it is true that with cryonics we cannot promise that you will be
revived. But cryonics is not the same as suspended animation at all,
and even if we had suspended animation we'd still face a serious 
problem. Suppose (for the sake of argument) that we really could 
freeze and revive someone, by means we had thoroughly tested on animals
etc etc. But wait: who are we freezing? Someone who wants to go to the
unknown future for a lark? No, someone who currently suffers from a
disease for which no cure is presently known, and which (without
freezing) will inevitably be fatal in a relatively short time (say
a year or so). 

And so, EVEN WITH SUSPENDED ANIMATION, we are asking a sick and dying
person to allow him/herself to be frozen on the speculation that at
some time in the future medicine will know how to cure them. Is it
"rational" for someone to take such a speculation? We will no more
be able to prove to them that a cure will be found for their disease
than we can now prove to them that they can be revived. Not only that,
but we'll see doctors coming out with almost the same problems with
suspended animation as they do now with cryonics.

The central problem with cryonics that we will have to overcome, no
matter how advanced we become, is that of its uncertainty. Cryonics
looks uncertain and chancy by its NATURE, not because we lack any
particular technology. Why freeze people unless you can do nothing
else for them? And those who complain that we cannot promise revival
now (not that long term suspended animation will let us PROMISE 
revival either) will complain that we cannot promise cures.

Yes, some might say that I put this point too strongly. Aren't there
some diseases for which a cure is generally thought imminent? There
are such diseases (changing all the time). Sometimes the general 
opinion even turns out to be wrong. But the number of people with
such a disease, at just such a time, is likely to remain small. Those
who face other diseases, short of cryonics, will simply die. To be
REALLY pessimistic, we might even see the advent of suspended 
animation together with strong legal regulations PREVENTING its
use except in those cases in which physicians (perhaps a Board) agree
that a cure is imminent. That will provide an interesting if sad 

Finally, to deal with a point that might otherwise be immediately 
brought up on Cryonet: NO, I do not mean by this that we need not do
research to improve our suspension process. I support that work of
21st Century Medicine and the Institute for Neural Cryopreservation.
But we should understand what we are doing here: we will not be
making cryonics any more attractive to those who are waiting for
something to happen. The only class of events which would convince
most people (the overwhelming majority) of the worth of cryonics
would be for a person dying of a disease for which no cure has yet
been imagined (and ideally one for which a chorus of doctors tells us
that a cure is impossible) to be revived, say 50 years later, when 
that "impossible" cure nevertheless arrives. And such incidents 
would have to happen more thanonce, too. 

Cryonics is uncertain by its NATURE, and no amount of research will
remove that uncertainty. 

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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