X-Message-Number: 14505
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 18:56:16 -0400
From: Paul Wakfer <>
Subject: Off-topic Posts and Xenophobia
References: <>

Two replies were made to my remark about the off-topic nature of so much
on CryoNet these days.
The first was a private message from Thomas Donaldson (although from the
way it was written is appears to be meant for posting on Cryonet).

Thomas Donaldson wrote:
> Hi everyone!
> This is a short message for Paul Wakfer: I cannot speak for others, but
> some kind of recreation is always useful, so long as it does not go too
> far. I consider the discussion of cosmology to be recreation ... though
> I was quite surprised by the number of replies my original message
> received here on Cryonet.

Thomas, I am all in favor of taking time off from serious productive
activities for recreation, even including mental masturbation. No one
can keep hir nose to the grindstone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,
certainly not me. As the saying goes "all work, no play makes Jack a
dull boy". However, there is a place and time for everything. Such
"recreational" activities are a fine thing to do (so long as one is
prioritizing one's time and effort consistent with one's actual and
professed desires), but they should be pursued either with friends via
personal contact or private email, or on venues meant for that category
of subject matter.

CryoNet is not some kind of cryonics "club" for the general social
interplay of cryonicists. Just like the various categorized newsgroups,
forums and other lists, the purpose of CryoNet is to deal with matters
in a particular category, those issues directly related to cryonics.

Even general life extension issues such as Doug Skrecky and others post
are not totally appropriate for CryoNet. Doug always posts the same life
extension messages to sci.life-extension which is correctly where they
belong. If posters constantly placed cryonics messages, say, on
sci.life-extension, then they would rightly get criticized and
complained at. For those cryonicists who are interested in the wider
field of life extension, I highly recommend sci.life-extension for an
informative, complete and balanced view of what is transpiring in the

And now I will violate my own admonition by replying to the next few
sentences which Thomas wrote and which were certainly meant for CryoNet.
:-) (My only (and feeble) excuse is that I did not start it and I
apologize for doing so.)

> On a more serious note, I actually hope that we ARE alone or virtually
> alone, and do not understand why so many people want to find other
> civilizations. Such other civilizations will most certainly limit us
> in what we can do, and thus affect our future itself, in ways we're
> unlikely to like. In cryonics and even in discussions and work on
> how we might increase our lifespans, it will ultimately become important
> just how far we can go in terms of using the Universe. Other civilizations
> are likely to restrict what we can do, perhaps only to our own solar
> system. 

Thomas, I fear that you are being xenophobic here. Rationally, each of
us should welcome every expansion of our horizons with regard to new
knowledge, methods and viewpoints. As a general rule based on the basic
principle of rational self-interest, the interchange between different
cultures leads to mutual benefit. Put another way, it is more likely
that we would benefit from contacting other intelligent life-forms in
the universe than that we would be harmed or limited.  

The second comment about my remarks about off-topic posts came from
George Smith in message #14487

>From: "George Smith" <>
>Subject: What's it all for?
>Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2000 16:49:19 -0700
>From time to time, different individuals (certainly not just Paul Wakfer)
>have expressed the feeling here that the comments found on the Cryonet go
>too far "off topic" with wide ranging discussions regarding the future, the
>past and speculations thereof.
>Depending on where you draw the line regarding what is "appropriate" to this
>forum, they are correct.
>Of course, since cryonics is ultimately about survival, it is hard to not
>include the wider questions because if we are to survive, it would seem that
>addressing the question "What's it all for?" is vital.

But as hopefully made clear above, my point is not to disagree that much
wider issues are vital to cryonics (law, medicine, politics, cosmology,
etc) but to suggest that readers of CryoNet are here to read about
matters directly related to the current and near future practice of
cryonics (that is why I read CryoNet) and that those readers who wish to
read about and discuss other related or non-related matters will seek
the appropriate outside newsgroups, forums or lists for those purposes
(again as I do for interests outside the confines of cryonics).

>I am grateful for those who may be driven to devote their efforts to
>cryonics related research perhaps 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (though I
>doubt there exist such people).  At the same time, if these same
>hypothetical individuals do not balance their efforts toward cryonics
>success with seeking and remembering the PURPOSE behind that effort, sooner
>or later they may find their lives have gone stale as meaning has vanished.

Again, as stated to Thomas above, I have no disagreement with what
George has written, but it is irrelevant to the point that I was
attempting (perhaps poorly in my first efforts) to make.

>Speculation, fantasy, and the drive to understand what the future may reveal
>to those few of us who have opened the door to potential immortality are
>NECESSARY, I believe, to keep that door open.
>"Without vision, the people die".

All quite true, and as I have stated many times, I love dreaming and
speculating about the future as much as anyone. However, I prioritize my
life as much as possible to maximize my ability to actually get to the
future rather than being content with dreams, and for those interests
outside of cryonics which relate to that maximization (such as staying
alive via non-cryonics life extension activities) I seek other
specialty discussion groups rather than foisting my off-topic questions
and posts on CryoNet readers.

>Discussing such issues as ethics, extraterrestial contact, transhumanism,
>and potential alternative futures seems to me to be a vital part of WHY
>those involved in this great gamble for hyper extended life should bother.

Quite so, but there are newsgroups, forums and lists which specialize in
these very topics and include far more information than is likely to be
forthcoming from readers who have been selected (by their act of
subscribing) by their interest in cryonics.

>Again, the Cryonet may come to be more focussed if the participants choose
>to impose a narrowing of the topics discussed, but cryonics, to succeed long
>term, seems to me to require the breadth of interest I read here commonly.

Again, it is not the "breadth of interests" that I object to (I too have
a breadth of interest far beyond cryonics), but the discussion of such
interests on a list which is categorized for cryonics.

>Those of you who feel you are wasting time reading what you may consider
>"off topic" are not wrong.  I would only suggest that while you may feel
>this way today, there may very well come a time when you may not.
>In the meantime, please remember  you don't really have to read everything
>posted.  You do have the freedom to touch the little down arrow on the
>keyboard at any time.

The very same remark is often made by those defending their off-topic
posts to other venues. However, the fact remains that Internet
bandwidth, download time, and editing/sifting time are lost. For
example, even though Doug Skrecky's life extension related posts are
excellent information, I resent having them appear on CryoNet since they
waste my time because I also get them on sci.life-extension where they
properly belong. Similarly, if I wished to prioritize my time to spend
some reading about cosmology, transhumanism, or the search for
extraterrestrial life, then I would read the specialty newsgroups, lists
or forums which specialized in those topics.

>The future is so exciting and so compelling that it sometimes still amazes
>me that more people don't find it natural to commit to cryonics and that
>more people are not involved in the kind of speculation I read here.

I quite agree. All that I am saying is, please let's do it in the
appropriate forum and leave this one for the discussion of matter more
directly germane to the theory and practice of cryonics.

>I enjoy it.  It helps lend meaning to life.

Then please describe to, and fully participate in the specialty forums
which discuss those many topics.

Paul Wakfer

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