X-Message-Number: 12643
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 18:26:42 -0400
From: Saul Kent <>
Subject: Optimism Vs. Realism

        In msg. #12635, Mike Darwin wrote as
follows in response to an earlier message by John 

        >  I think where "we" differ is not on what 
>  might be possible, because I think that almost any-
>  thing that acts within the broad confines of what we 
>  CURRENTLY understand as physical law is possible. 
>  What you are really asking me is more like: "Mike, don't 
>  you think it is PROBABLE (to the point worth gambling 
>  people's lives on) that such and such is so....?" 

        >  There is a longing in such interpretations as 
>  "yours" and many others in cryonics which I find really 
>  corrosive. It should be FEAR or ANXIETY about that which 
>  UNKNOWN rather than relief at that which is known which 
>  sets the agenda. 

        I, too, believe (as Mike does) that there is too much 
emphasis and emotional reliance on optimistic scenarios for 
the survival of cryonics patients in the cryonics community, and 
that there should be more concern about the uncertainties of 
survival and what can be done to make cryonics better.

        I believe the role of optimism in cryonics should be
primarily for the recruitment of newcomers, where emphasizing 
the scientific evidence that cryonics can work (within the bounds 
of credibility) is essential in bringing in new members.

        When it comes to discussions among existing mem-
bers, however, who have clearly bought the idea that cryonics
can work, it is far more fruitful, I believe, to assume the likeli-
hood that today's cryonics may *not* work in order to discuss 
the reasons why this may be so, and to explore pathways to 
improving the odds of success.  Repeated advocacy (and 
belief) in rosy scenarios, in which it is presumed that there
is a good chance of today's cryonics patients being restored 
to life with their identities intact can make cryonics members 
feel good about their chances of survival, but such scenarios 
also tend to make them complacent about the need for 
research to improve today's cryonics methods.

        I realize that a forum such as CryoNet serves more
than one purpose, and that it is, for some people, a means of
attempting to recruit new members.  I think it's quite possible,
however, to focus on the realistic problems of cryonics without
losing the optimism about its potential which plays a major
role in attracting new members.  I believe, in fact, that greater
emphasis on dealing with cryonics realistically in the present
is a more effective way of attracting new members than em-
phasizing rosy scenarios about the future.  I further believe
that dealing with today's problems realistically is more likely 
to bring in new cryonics activists than any other approach, 
and that we need more such activists far more than we 
need more members per se.

---Saul Kent

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