X-Message-Number: 19888
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 09:52:42 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #19857 - #19867

Back to Steven Harris:

I never said that we must have absolute knowledge to estimate
probabilities. I merely pointed out that with very little knowledge
our estimates were bound to be so off-base that they're very
likely to be meaningless or false. The space travel issue to which
you allude would be very hard to attach dates to until it actually
started to happen, though an understanding of the physics involved
in rockets would have told someone that it was indeed possible for
it TO happen. Someday, sometime. I will note that early predictions
of how far along we would be NOW with space travel were quite
wrong. Where are our moon colonies or our Mars colonies? To estimate
probabilities in such a situation, say in 1950, would have been
meaningless. As time passed, and we learned more (and more was
actually done) it became more and more reasonable to estimate
probabilities, though the exact events which we were estimating
remained cloudy.

For cryonics, as work goes on we do learn more, and some events
become sharp enough that we can estimate their probability. 
Successful vitrification of brains would be one case. Just what
effect such an event would have on cryonics as a movement, 
and growth of cryonics, still remains cloudy. (Yes, I'd prefer
to be vitrified, given particular conditions). When will
cryonics be adopted widely? I have no idea, and still discount
any ideas of working out the probability of such an event.

As I discussed in a later message on the same subject, probability
of either space travel or widespread cryonics (with widespread
revivals) suffers from a second problem too: we are not standing
apart from these events and estimating their probability like
we estimate the probability with a pair of unweighted dice. We
are all busily trying to change that probability. That makes
it very hard to estimate probabilities when we're constantly 
changing the assumptions we must use to do so.

Perhaps I did not explain these ideas as well as I should have,
but there they are. I do not think that science should or does
have anything to say about this general problem: we want to 
reach a greater understanding of how the world works, and 
then use that understanding. Sometimes that involves an
understanding of probabilities, other times not.

For Scott Badger:

We've had private correspondence on this question. Glucose
levels are certainly involved in calorie restriction, but it
does not follow that changing them will cause the same effect.

		Best wishes and long long life for all,

			Thomas Donaldson

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