X-Message-Number: 21913
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 01:18:16 -0400 (EDT)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: Promises, promises

In his recent notification re the two new CI cases, Robert Ettinger
follows his time-honored practice of stating:

"Further information may be published at a later time."

Really? So far as I can recall, CI has never provided a full and
informative report on any case that it has managed, with the exception of
the one which Ben Best described a few months ago. It is indeed ironic
(and really a bit tiresome) that the man who complains perpetually that he
lacks sufficient information about vitrification solutions is congenitally
averse to revealing even the most basic facts about procedures which are
applied to CI patients. In his announcement he can't even bring himself to
name the U.S. state in which one of the patients was pronounced legally
dead. What possible interest does this secrecy serve?

For centuries, medicine has advanced by sharing case histories while
withholding names and other identifying details when necessary to satisfy
the need for confidentiality. Recently we saw extremely swift exchange of
information about SARS cases, and huge benefits that accrued from the
shared-data policy. (One establishment publication, The Lancet, even made
its initial papers freely available online, to promote understanding of
SARS as rapidly as possible.) One nation, China, chose not to participate
initially in this exchange of information. China of course was the nation
that suffered most.

The tragedy in cryonics is that we won't know which patients are suffering
the most damage until many decades in the future. This doesn't mean the
topic is irrelevant; it means we need to gather AND SHARE as much
information as possible to compensate for our lack of knowledge about
outcome. At the "cryosummit" last year, CI and Alcor agreed to the idea of
exchanging observers at their cryonics cases. Alcor was contacted by Tim
Freeman, and we invited him to observe either of the two cases that were
pending at that time. He was unable to do so, because we couldn't predict
the time of death, and he didn't have sufficient time to wait for days or
weeks. Still, the invitation was freely offered.

Alcor has never received any such invitation or notification of an
impending case from CI, leading me to wonder if CI was ever really serious
about its "exchange of observers" pledge.

Alcor has been remiss in not publishing detailed accounts of its own most
recent half-dozen cases, but at least the organization provides the basic
information very promptly (dates, times, temperatures, problems that were
encountered, and mistakes that are made--see the most recent issue of
Alcor News at www.alcornews.org). I've never seen any attempt to do this
at CI, with the exception of the Ben Best report mentioned above.

CI remains almost as opaque as the old Soviet Union, and thus CI's
procedures remain immune from feedback that might conceivably improve
them. This is not a healthy policy, for cryonics or for the patients.

--Charles Platt
Speaking for myself, not necessary Alcor.

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