X-Message-Number: 12040
Date: Thu, 01 Jul 1999 10:24:13 -0400
From: "Raphael T. Haftka" <>
Subject: People ignore cryonics because it makes sense to ignore it

Aren't we so smart!

All the explanations that I read (I am not sure I read all) of why people
ignore cryonics imply a deficiency on the part of the rest of the world,
while we, cryonicists, are so smart. If several billion people ignore
cryonics, they may be smart, and understanding this may help us.

People do not only ignore cryonics, but most other fringe movements which
may require large investment of resources. These include religious cults,
extreme Y2K groups, survivalists, white supremacists, government conspiracy
groups, etc. The logic of ignoring these groups rather than scrutinizing
their claims carefully is sound if you agree with the following assumptions:

1. The overwhelming majority of the ideas these groups espouse are bogus.
2. Our powers of discrimination are not perfect even with substantial
investiment of time to study claims.

For example, assume you may want to examine 100 movements, and that if you
spent 2-3 days each, you will have 90% chance of telling which one really
deserves your participation. Assume that two (cryonics and one other) are
deserving. Then after spending 200-300 days examining all the evidence, you
will have a good chance of identifying cryonics and that other movement.
However, out of the 98 bogus movements, you will conclude that about 10
also deserve your participation. This is not a good outcome, for example,
if one of the 10 is Hari Krishna.

This problem, which in medical diagnosis is known as the false positive,
makes it a sound policy not to examine seriously fringe movements.

This conclusion means that we may have to sneak up on people to get them to
make the time investment to understand cryonics, rather than go by direct
marketing. The very young are a good target, because they have not raised
their guard yet, and indeed, my recent survey showed that most of us have
become interested in cryonics at a very young age.

Most important is Robin Hanson's post on health altruism. I liked his
reasoning, and it means that we may want to focus on recruiting people to
help us with arrangments. They then acquire familarity with cryonics
without the threat of being recruited into a movement that will require
many thousands of dollars, and also appear crazy to their friends. Indeed,
a year ago I had myself interviewed in the local paper in the hope of
smoking out cryonics candidates in my town. Nobody was interested, but a
nurse, a patient representative in one of the local hospitals, offered her

Rafi Haftka
Raphael (Rafi) Haftka				
University of Florida				phone:352-392-9595
Department of Aerospace Engineering,		fax: -7303
Mechanics and Engineering Science		http://www.aero.ufl.edu/~haftka
Gainesville, FL 32611

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