X-Message-Number: 13130
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 12:31:57 EST
Subject: comparing organizations

David King asked about differences between CI and Alcor, and the reasons for 
the price differential.

On the CI web site there is considerable discussion of specific questions in 
preparation of patients, and there are also links to all the other cryonics 
organizations, so anyone can see what each has to say on any topic. Right now 
I just want to mention four items that are often overlooked or 

1. A fair chunk of the difference in price between CI whole body and Alcor 
whole body is unrelated to any issues of procedures, but stems entirely from 
fiscal assumptions.

Alcor (last I heard) assumes a return on investments of 2%, so if ongoing 
care of a patient (liquid nitrogen and overhead) requires $1,000/year, a 
$50,000 investment would be needed. CI assumes a return of 5%, so we only 
need to invest $20,000 to anticipate $1,000 a year. That's a big difference. 
Which is "better"?

Alcor's assumption may sound "safer" or "more conservative." However, the 
historical rate of return on equity investments in this century has been 
around 10% (and in recent years much higher), so CI's assumption of 5% is 
still pretty conservative, we think. 

Also, CI has additional sources of income, including substantial--although 
irregular--infusions through bequests. Further, CI's overhead is smaller, and 
in a crunch we could operate with no paid help at all. We own our property 
free and clear, and have no debt.

2. According to published reports, Alcor expects or hopes--perhaps late this 
year--to turn over most responsibilities for initial patient preparation to a 
new for-profit company, BioTransport, which will have advanced capabilities. 
BT in turn reportedly expects subsequently to offer its services to all 
cryonics organizations, if contracts can be negotiated, and CI expects in 
that case to offer BT services as an option to CI members. If this happens, 
CI members will have available the same procedures as Alcor and CryoCare and 
others--as an alternative to CI's basic procedure as amended from time to 
time. The total price, including the BT option, for those who choose it, will 
undoubtedly be higher than CI's current minimum, but almost certainly still 
much lower than at other organizations. (We expect our current minimum price 
to remain in place, for our current procedure and as many improvements as we 
can manage.) 

3. Part of Alcor's attraction has long been that it is the largest--but how 
did that happen, and what is happening now?

Alcor's relative success owes to many factors. (1) It has had talented and 
energetic leadership, and supportive members; it earned its relative success. 
(2) It started out in the most fertile territory, California. (3) The Dora 
Kent affair created relatively tremendous publicity and sympathy, with 
lasting effect. (4) As a result of all the publicity, and Alcor's own 
efforts, for many years Alcor was the only cryonics organization known to 
many people. 

But things have changed in the last couple of years, partly because of the 
Internet. Now anyone looking for a cryonics organization will find several, 
not just one. And CI lately has been growing, both in members and patients, 
both relatively and absolutely, faster than Alcor or any other. (This does 
not take into account any recent re-influx from CryoCare to Alcor--just 
people new to cryonics. And "faster" is still a relative term--the absolute 
numbers, and population-proportionate numbers, are still intolerably small.)

4. No one is always right about everything, and there are no sure bets--only 
estimates and probabilities. Of those who have carefully studied and visited 
all the organizations, some have made one choice and some another, including 
ACS. There have been switches between organizations, sometimes in one 
direction and sometimes another (but according to our records, usually 
favoring CI). 

A few years ago a bunch of Alcor members--including some of their best and 
brightest--decided they could get and offer better service through a new 
organization, CryoCare. CryoCare recently suspended operations, although it 
may resume operations at a later date. This merely shows, yet again, that 
life isn't simple. Death isn't simple any more either, unless you are willing 
to settle for oblivion.

Finally, yet again, remember Balaam's Ass. (I think that was the one.) He 
starved between two bales of hay, because he couldn't make up his mind. If 
you join one organization and later want to change, it's not the end of the 
world. But if you don't join any, and absentmindedly die meanwhile, it IS the 
end of the world.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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