X-Message-Number: 15199
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 12:48:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: Negativity

I find the following text from Billey Seidel, whom I respect greatly as a
long-time cryonics activist who has done many helpful things for various
organizations in the past. His most recent video for Alcor is probably the
best piece of video promotion yet achieved by any organization.

> Charles Platt just made a post to cryonet, to my mind a very negative
> post.

If you thought that was negative, Billy, maybe I should have included the
other 90 percent of my thoughts and feelings! Seriously though, since I
know you have an electronics background, I ask you to consider the
behavior of a power amplifier that lacks negative feedback. This kind of
control and correctional mechanism is vital in any system that tends to be
unstable; and in cryonics, no one is providing it right now.

> something I agree with and is not even expressed by him. Where is a recent
> news letter from CRYOCARE, or even a posting about what is going on with

Well, Billy, you have received at least three mailings from us warning
that CryoCare is no longer able to provide service, and urging all our
members to make alternative arrangements. The last mailing also expressed
our doubts that we would be able to provide service in the future via
BioTransport, since we were told that the legal negotiations between Alcor
and BioTransport had stalled, and our own contract with BioTransport could
not exist until the Alcor arrangements were worked out.

How many more warnings of our inability to provide service would you
like?! We have maintained CryoCare as a company, simply because it may be
necessary in the future. For instance, some of our members have omitted to
make new arrangements elsewhere. If one of these people dies, we would be
the entity that receives the person under the anatomical gift act, since
we still possess the document that was executed by the member. We might
also receive insurance money (which we would have pass along to the
secondary beneficiary). But since CryoCare is not actually doing anything
right now, a newsletter or update seems pointless. I mean--how many "dead"
organizations, which have advised their members to quit and join other
organizations, continue sending out newsletters saying, "We're still

> Generally speaking we do not see publications of a negative
> slant published by the company that is putting out the publication. So if
> you want to find out the negative truth about a company, Get involved with
> that company.

I absolutely disagree. I refer you to issues of CryoCare Report where we
described, in detail, our problems with our service providers CryoSpan and
BioPreservation. We made no attempt to put a positive spin on these
serious problems. Earlier, when I took over as president of CryoCare, I
listed all the issues which I felt were most difficult and pressing.
(One result of this list was that we received a substantial bequest to
help solve the problems--which just goes to show, "negativity" can lead to
positive results.)

Going farther back, I urge you to look again at the issues of CRYONICS
magazine during the Dora Kent crisis. And before or after that, please
look at any report of any suspension written by Mike Darwin, in which he
itemized everything that had gone wrong with the procedures. As I have
said many times before, it was this ruthless honesty which persuaded me to
get involved with cryonics. Since it also coincided with the biggest surge
of growth in the history of any organization, clearly negative feedback
isn't bad for business, either. On the contrary--negative feedback is
extremely reassuring, since it encourages prospective members to trust the

This endless complaint that "negativity is bad for cryonics" smacks of
denial, to me, and is simply wrong. Honest self-evaluation is the only
thing standing between cryonics and cultism.

As for it being inappropriate for an outsider or nonmember to voice
criticisms of an organization, by this logic, journalists should never
write anything critical about anyone.

However, in my original post I was extremely careful not to be critical.
Primarily I asked questions which had not been answered elsewhere. If
people can't even tolerate this, I have to wonder why.

Incidentally, I thank Fred Chamberlain for answering some of the

> going on in the cryonics related fields.  How many of us even subscribe to
> the ALCOR magazine or any publication of a cryonics nature?

I subscribe to CRYONICS magazine, with some resentment, since my
experience in the print business tells me that the production cost is
about 50 cents while the subscription price is, as I recall, $7 per copy.
(Not a very encouraging way to promote cryonics!)

> know what Vitrification is and what it means?  Do you really understand the
> importance of stem cell research?  How about a 200 million dollar project
> called the Time Ship that is underway right now and being paid for by Sol
> Kent and Bill Faloon?

While I'm not sure that Billy's question is directed to me, I have been
appointed as a director of the Time Ship project. Of course, this doesn't
necessarily mean that I know what's going on! But I did spend five days
with the architect and his consultants, during which I also visited Alcor
for two days. Those on this list who have complained that I voiced
"criticisms" (which were really questions) as an "outsider" should
understand that you don't necessarily need to be a member of a particular
organization, in order to be informed. Re the Time Ship project, the
architect is hoping to get it written up in a magazine, and prefers not to
release too much information before that happens. An editor at the
magazine I work for is interested in publishing a feature.

> So lets not sit around and bash each other lets get something done, get
> involved with your cryonics company, support them with what ever you can,

Of course all organizations need more help. But if the organizations
are claiming that everyhing is hunky-dory, why should anyone bother to
volunteer to help?

Getting back to the whole issue of negative feedback:

There is a fundamental problem here which has been mentioned again and
again by Mike Darwin, myself, and others: CRYONICS ALLOWS NO WAY FOR US TO
VERIFY OUR WORK. We don't know if we are really helping patients or not.
We don't know if, when, or how they can be resuscitated. We don't know
whether they will still be "the same people" if they are resuscitated.
Under these circumstances, anyone can make any claim (such as, "It's
really okay to pump in concentrated glycerol without ramping the
concentration") and no one can refute it conclusively, because none of our
patients have stepped out of a dewar (or a cryostat). In a field where you
cannot, conclusively, test your own work, there is endless temptation to
think you are doing a better job than you really are.

I have experienced this "hunger for belief" myself. During the ill-fated
experiment by Olga Visser to resuscitate rat hearts, I remember staring at
a heart which was being perfused with her solution. The solution was
leaking around the heart and dripping from the bottom of it. The
refraction of light around the dripping liquid almost made it look as if
the heart was beating. Also, the sensing equipment was affected by the
variations in capacitance or conductivity, as perfusate accumulated and
then was released in each drip. Consequently the sensor beeped
rhythmically, which reinforced the impression that the heart was beating.

For about five seconds, I was fooled. I was excited. I believed that
resuscitation had occurred. Then my negative feedback circuit kicked in,
and I realized that the "beating" was an artifact, precisely synchronized
with the dripping fluid. When the flow was moderated to make the
fluid drip less rapidly, the "beating" likewise slowed. The heart was not,
in fact, beating; but even with my "negative attitude" I had thought for a
moment that it was.

This is just one tiny example of the human capacity for self-delusion. Our
field is terribly vulnerable to this kind of deception, which leads us
away from science, into pseudoscience. For this reason I suggest that
negative feedback is not just a good idea, but essential.

> tell other people about this most exciting adventure we can get
> into.  Forget about negative attitudes and verbal abuse, we don't have time
> for that.

I have not noticed any verbal abuse, Billy--except from one person who
chose to attack me instead of responding to the issues that I raised. Most
people here don't care about personality issues; they just want to know
any information that is relevant to their future prospects of being
properly cryopreserved.

My initial point still stands: At this time, we do not have any
publication, in print or on the web, providing general news about
cryonics. We have two house organs that are generally upbeat, and
generally omit news that would be embarrassing to their parent
organizations. This is a potentially unstable situation.

--Charles Platt

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