X-Message-Number: 15168
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2000 12:58:57 -0500 (EST)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: Lack of Communications

I decided to resample CryoNet after an absence of 10 months. Some
observations, and a warning, are listed below.

1. The State of the List.

To a relative outsider, this list appears to be the product of a
special-interest group that has long since passed its prime and is now in
a moribund phase. Seemingly there is nothing newsworthy happening among
them, since they have virtually no news to report (at least, not about
their special interest). Long-standing irreconcilable quarrels drag on
literally for years (the Ettinger hobby horse about "self circuits" is a
classic case). Hypothetical arguments are a favorite, punctuated by
occasional pointless speculation (such as the recent thread about storing
bodies in space, under the apparent delusion that this could solve more
problems than it creates--something that anyone with any shred of
commonsense would find ludicrous).

To be fair, there has been reference to recent "research" financed by CI,
but anyone who reads the relevant web site will find a paucity of
fundamental data to evaluate the claims. While implicitly suggesting that
professional cryobiologists are incompetent, the page shows an insulting
disregard for the proper documentation of lab work--procedures which I
learned in high school.

Worst of all, I see absolutely no interest on CryoNet in discussing this
work or its methodology, or the sloppy way in which it was reported, or
its claim to debunk the past ten years of orthodox cryobiology.

Meanwhile, bless him, Mark Plus reminds contributors that they are dying
slowly. One would think there's no need to mention mortality to this
special-interest group, but certainly most of the participants act as if
they have all the time in eternity to discuss hypothetical propositions
and totally irrelevant ideas, with an occasional dash of science bordering
on pseudoscience.

2. A Sample Omission: The Recent Alcor Case

None of this has anything to do with cryonics as it is or should be
practiced today. I notice for instance that there are no details, let
alone a proper case history, of the Alcor case that occurred two weeks
ago. This case was unusual in several respects. First, only one member of
the Alcor standby team showed up for any length of time to manage the
on-site details. Others who were there were certainly well qualified, and
so far as I can tell, they did a fine job. But they aren't members of the
Alcor team, and I believe only one of them was an Alcor member. Is it
Alcor's policy now to rely on "outsiders" to do field work?

Second, this case raised an issue about the movement of whole-body
patients from California to Arizona. I have been told by several people
that the patient (who had been pronounced legally dead on a Saturday
morning) could not be moved for two days because of lack of appropriate
paperwork, which could not be completed until the following Monday. This
prohibition turned out not to apply to neuro cases, according to my
sources; but there are members in California who are adamantly opposed to
the neuroseparation procedure. Perhaps someone should tell them about this
supposed regulation that would force them to remain in-state over the
weekend if they happen to die on the wrong day? Personally I am extremely
puzzled by this alleged situation, since when I supervised a case in New
York where the patient died on a Friday, she was flown to California on
the Saturday without any problem.

Perhaps as a journalist I should dig further into these matters. If the
situation doesn't improve, maybe I will feel a weary obligation to do so.
But I suggest it is the responsibility of a cryonics organization to make
details and problems public, as a duty to members, and to correct any
incorrect rumors that will spread unchecked otherwise. So, initially at
least, I am merely presenting the rumors here in the hope that they will
be corrected, amended, or confirmed, as is appropriate. I invite anyone to
set me straight about this.

3. Lack of News Media

At this point, we have NO reliable source of timely information about
cryonics in general. CI's monthly magazine has never covered any topic in
depth, as I recall; and CI's policy regarding its own cases is usually to
say as little as possible. I have never, ever seen CI report any details
regarding treatment of a case, probably because much of the data is not
collected. ACS contributes a regular update that is published in the CI
magazine; but ACS likewise prefers to be a fairly private organization,
and has not been especially active over the past few years. Alcor
meanwhile has discontinued its monthly newsletter, and CRYONICS magazine
has become a house organ that focuses almost exclusively on Alcor in an
upbeat style and is not known for self-critical reporting.  This situation
is very different from previous cryonics eras, where (for instance) Mike
Darwin wrote ruthless self-analyses of problems at Alcor, while other
independently published newsletters gave relatively unbiased information.
It was Darwin's honesty, incidentally, that persuaded me to sign up for
cryonics. I am not signed up with any organization today, other than
CryoCare, which does not provide service currently.

While we live in a so-called information age, this field contains less
information than at any time in its forty-year history. The one place
where one would expect to find relevant news and commentary would be
online, right here in CryoNet; yet that is precisely what we don't find.

I have been associated with cryonics for about ten years, and have studied
its history in as much depth as is possible. I've read every item in Mike
Perry's archives, and every journal and notebook in Curtis Henderson's
possession. I interviewed all the principals of cryonics for a book which
unfortunately remains unpublished (not through lack of attempts on my
part). So far as I can tell, cryonics is more moribund today than it has
been at any point in the past--with the possible exception of the period
following the Nelson scandal at Chatsworth. This is quite bizarre, bearing
in mind the unprecedented progress that has been made in relevant

But speaking of Nelson, there is a very important message, here. When
controversial procedures are not accompanied by journalistic coverage, we
have a fertile ground for deception. I am absolutely not suggesting that
such a thing has happened recently; I am merely pointing out that when
organizations are able to operate with total lack of third-party
oversight, and they are not diligent about reporting critically on
themselves, this is a potentially dangerous situation. Cryonics
malpractice has happened in the past, and it will happen again. The right
way to deal with it is to analyze, publicly, what went wrong, and take
steps, publicly, to avoid similar debacles in the future.

But it's the last thing you will read here on CryoNet.

--Charles Platt

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