X-Message-Number: 19923
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 05:01:54 -0700
Subject: reply to Michael Shermer
From: Arthur Naiman <>

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Dear Dr. Shermer,

    I thought Steve Harris was altogether too easy on you for your flippant
dismissal of cryonics (recently forwarded to me by email). Your defrosted
strawberries analogy reminded me of the one some guy used to put forward on
talk shows years ago; he'd state, quite authoritatively, that if you froze
people and defrosted them, you'd end up with nothing more than hamburger.

    I always thought that was an interesting choice of metaphor, since
virtually all hamburger comes from steers who were conceived with frozen
sperm. In other words, if what this guy was saying were true, there'd be no
hamburger for him to use in his analogy.

    (A sperm isn't a human being, of course, but then 2002 isn't 2102
either. If it were, there'd be no need to preserve people to get them to

    As a historian of science, you must know that there's a long tradition
of people saying things are impossible for no better reason than their own
lack of scientific imagination. Only weeks before the Wrights first flew at
Kittyhawk, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins
published an article that purported to show scientifically that powered
human flight was "utterly impossible.' Only a year earlier, the chief
engineer of the US Navy wrote that heavier-than-air flight was "absurd."

    You excoriate cryonics as some sort of religion (particularly galling to
most cryonicists, who are passionate atheists) but you yourself seem to
belong to the Cult of Hysterical Pseudorationalism (as I like to call it),
which operates on the principle that if we don't understand how something
works today, it must be nonsense. It's hard to imagine an approach more
inimical to the scientific method.

        Arthur Naiman 


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