X-Message-Number: 16357
Date: Sun, 27 May 2001 08:52:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: "attacks," Ben Best, and Steve Jackson

Ben Best has referred to my "attacks on CI." In fact, so far as I am
aware, the statement that I wrote, triggering the recent massive backlash
from David Pascal, consisted of one sentence on an obscure British mail
list. One sentence, in which I expressed an opinion which I have expressed
several times before. (I haven't checked the chronology, but I believe my
mention of 7th Day Adventists came later.)

I then replied to Pascal as briefly as I could (certainly at a fraction of
the length of his post).

My discussion of CI procedures--such as the practice of a slow initial
cooldown which I believe increases the risk of autolysis--can be found in
CryoNet archives at least two years ago, as far as I recall. I hate to
repeat myself, and have tried not to do so. But I do feel entitled to
express an opinion once in a while.

I admire Ben Best's dogged persistence (he is one of the most persistent
people I have ever met). His apparent willingness to join an organization
which he finds unsatisfactory, with the hope of enhancing it, is
admirable. But personally I can't do that. I quit from Alcor long ago when
I discovered what I considered to be misuse of patient funds (a situation
which was rectified subsequently). I preferred not to associate myself
with a group that I felt was, _at that time,_ violating its own bylaws and
not revealing this fact clearly to its members. I would find it even more
distressing, personally, to be a member of an organization which I felt
was providing suboptimal care to its patients.

Since I am not entirely happy with the current Alcor administration, and
indeed I was told by Linda Chamberlain that I am "full of hate" and "there
is no place for me at Alcor" (!) I prefer not to join that organization
either. We'll see how Kryos works out. Regardless of my personal friction
with Mike Darwin a couple years ago, I know him to be ethical about
patient care, well informed, and very able to distinguish good science
from pseudoscience, which sets him apart from 99 percent of other
cryonicists. Also, I have some input on Kryos policy, since I have been
asked to serve as a director. But if I don't feel comfortable with
decisions or procedures at Kryos, I won't hesitate to quit and explain the
reasons. This is known as "consumer feedback," to which cryonics should
not be immune.

Personally I believe that we vote with our decisions to affiliate
ourselves with various entities, whether they are corporate, political,
nonprofit, or ecumenical. This is the logic that leads some people to
boycott grapes, sneakers, or other products. It is the logic that led one
person I know to emigrate from the United States and relocate in Anguilla,
which better suits his libertarian ideology. I wish cryonics members were
similarly discriminating in their evaluations of organizations, would
inquire more actively about the procedures that are used, and would make
membership decisions on this basis.

If people were also willing to explain their "purchasing decisions"
publicly, this would be even more helpful. There are numerous mail lists,
chat rooms, and discussion groups online where people explain their
decisions to buy different brands of computers, or they argue over the
merits of different authors or movies. Why should cryonics be any
different? Why shouldn't CI advocates, Alcor advocates, and "none of the
above" advocates flame each other as freely as Mac-vs.-PC advocates? I
absolutely reject the argument that cryonics is more vulnerable to
criticism, and therefore should be protected from it.

The fact that expressions of opinion, in cryonics, precipitate such an
outpouring of anger, merely indicates a) extreme defensiveness and b) the
rarity of anyone being forthright.

For instance, it has become clear that Steve Jackson has some significant
resentments or disagreements right now, and since he is an Alcor member, I
suspect that Alcor is at least partly the cause of his rancor. But since
he won't tell us what happened or what's bothering him, he provides no
help for other Alcor members who should be concerned if malfeasance has
occurred. I really don't see the point of making oblique, cryptic
references; if something's wrong, why not come right out and say so?

We should expect more clashes of opinion in this field than in more
conventional businesses. Activists of a controversial theory, where no
widely accepted standards have been established and no system exists to
evaluate the outcome of procedures, should _expect_ to be challenged.
Anyone who washes out blood with an embalming pump, dumps in a bit of
heparin followed by some glycerol under relatively primitive laboratory
conditions, allows the dead person to simmer gently (on a cryogenic scale)
for a couple of weeks, freezes the person with an unknown degree of ice
damage, and then claims this patient has an excellent chance of coming
back to life, should _expect_ to rouse some strident skepticism--and deal
with it factually and rationally.

Right, David?


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