X-Message-Number: 12063
Date: Sun, 4 Jul 1999 13:18:24 EDT
Subject: "Magic" & "Religion"

Thomas Donaldson has weighed in again on the "religious" approach to 
cryonics, the acceptance "on faith" that nano magic will overcome all 
problems and that we need do nothing here and now to advance the research etc.

As usual, there is an element of merit here, and obviously we want and need 
to reduce the burden on the future as much as possible. Nevertheless, I think 
Thomas' attitude is not correctly balanced, and that use of the pejorative 
"religious" is in many cases unwarranted.

First of all, those who rely on future technology for rescue (and this means 
ALL of the present patients and their families, as well as all of those in 
the relatively near  future) do not necessarily have the "wrong" 
reasons--"blind faith" or acceptance of optimistic advice without competent 
critical review.

After all, one could say the same about almost any patient in ordinary 
medical practice. All the average patient knows is that medicine has made 
great strides and contiues to do so, and certain apparently qualified people 
recommend whatever therapy or prophylactic they are considering, even if 
sometimes on an experimental basis. Whether acceptance of the recommendation 
is "blind faith" or a rational bet depends on getting inside the head of the 
individual. Clearly, it is NOT justified to give it a blanket label of "blind 
faith" merely because the individual lacks the time or the competence to 
evaluate the technicalities in detail. And it certainly isn't justified to 
label it "blind faith" merely because the patient hasn't made a financial 
contribution to the medical research.

Using terms like "nano magic" or "nano religion" is not argument. It is a 
FACT that we observe past and present progress, and it is reasonable to 
project the probability of futher large advances into the future. Does Thomas 
expect anyone--even the most expert of present scientists--to foresee 
accurately the details or limitations of future advances? Of course not; he 
himself has repeatedly said (when in that mood) that advances of the future 
may well exceed our ability to imagine. And if not, why should he deride 
those who see a rational chance that those future advances will meet the 
needs of the patients?

Come off it, Thomas. You are one of my favorite people, and the encouragement 
of support for research--AND of other efforts to advance the program and the 
organizations--is obviously laudable. But your "religion" and "magic" labels 
are off the mark. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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