X-Message-Number: 18474
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2002 11:01:41 EST
Subject: Christensen & motivation

Toby Christensen reminds us that linking of cryonics to superhuman 
aspirations and speculative futurism can be counterproductive in terms of 
potential members.

He is right, of course. Eight years after the first commercial publication of 
THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY my second book was commercially published, MAN 
INTO SUPERMAN. Part of the motivation for that was to pump up interest in 
cryonics. If that happened, the effect wasn't measurable. 

People generally are not attracted, but repelled, by the prospect of radical 
change. It's not only scary, but too remote to ring any bells or push any 
buttons. All most people want out of the future is continuation of the good 
stuff, elimination of the bad stuff. They want the present without its 
warts--cleaner, safer, bigger, better, good health and long life but no 
bizarre or scary stuff.

In recruiting ordinary people, the main thing is to avoid the sci-fi label as 
much as we can. Cryonics itself is still regarded by most as sci-fi, and any 
additional elements of sci-fi can only tend to turn people off more.

Most ordinary people not only don't want to talk or think about 
transhumanism--they don't even want to talk or think about natural death and 
its possible avoidance. 

Psychologically, probably the easiest thing to sell is a second chance for 
people like Mr. Christensen and James Swayze and sick children. The second 
easiest--but still very hard--is a second chance for those who die of 
ordinary old-age related causes. Selling transhumanity is hardest of 
all--both because if its perceived ultimate sci-fi character and because of 
its lack of emotional appeal. 

At the same time, the people who ARE interested in radical change, and 
realize it will occur anyway, are slightly better than average recruitment 
prospects for cryonics.

So how does it shake out? We play it both ways, but try to get the right 
message to the right audience. No lies or deceptions--just put the emphasis 
where it should be for the particular audience. In first-level or 
first-contact efforts, we shouldn't dream of mentioning, let alone 
emphasizing, the possibilities of transhumanism. But in a venue like Cryonet, 
with a small and mostly veteran readership, I don't see any harm.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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