X-Message-Number: 23076
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 13:53:50 -0500 (EST)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: millionaires etc
References: <>

All right let's go through this one more time.

Ideas are welcome. Obviously. But in any field, when people
suggest ideas without bothering to read some background in
the field, their ideas are likely to be naive and they are
likely to be reinventing the wheel. So, the first lesson is,
do your homework.

Enthusiasm is welcome. Obviously. But when this merely
translates into suggesting things for other people to do, in
a field which is short of volunteers willing to work, a
natural response is, "If you think you have such a great
suggestion, why not pursue it yourself?"

So much for the aspects which I thought were self-evident.

Now, regarding the old old idea that a few more millionaires
are all we need:

Here are the reasons (which have been spelled out before on
Cryonet, incidentally) why I believe very wealthy people may
be unwilling to put money into cryonics. Of course there may
be exceptions to this rule, and I invite anyone to try to
find some of these exceptions. For reasons which will become
clear I believe that recipients of inherited wealth will be
better prospects than self-made millionaires.

Someone who is highly motivated to make money is by
definition a competitive individual. The essence of a
competition is that there is a finish line and a set of
rules. "The person with the most toys, wins," right? The
competitors may try to break the rules in order to win, but
still they acknowledge the existence of the rules. Now
imagine you are telling such a person that the whole rule
structure in which he has lived and competed is possibly
invalid. There is a future in which his wealth may be
irrelevant, his values may be obsolete, his legacy may be
forgotten, and there is in fact no finish line, because life
may not end. I suggest that the concept of an end-point to
life (after which, heirs inherit the cash or a building is
named after the wealthy individual) is actually fundamental
to the competitive money motivated personality. The idea that
he might "come back" in a radically different place where all
the rules have changed is not at all reassuring. On the
contrary, it could force a very disturbing reassessment of
the most fundamental principles on which the person's life
has been based.

Moreover, as Curtis Henderson pointed out to me long ago, all
the people who surround a wealthy individual will want him to
stay dead. How would Michael Eisner feel right now if Walt
Disney really had been frozen, and might be resuscitated at
any time? How would the heirs of a millionaire feel if the
millionaire could "come back" and sue to recover some of his
money, on the grounds that since he is now alive, he wasn't
really dead after all?

Since people who have a lot of money must rely a lot on their
advisors to sustain their empires, we must assume that the
advisors will be highly motivated, consciously or
unconsciously, to offer negative opinions regarding cryonics.

Third, there is the issue of risk. Rich people love money;
that's why they are rich. They are constantly endangered by
other people trying to con them out of their money, one way
or another. They develop elaborate defense mechanisms to
protect themselves from scams. Cryonics, at first sight, has
all the signs of being a scam. Orthodox scientists mock it,
very few people have signed up, it's run by amateurs, the
hardcore adherents are not, shall we say, at the center of
the bell curve, it has its own weird vocabulary (e.g.
"suspension," a word which should be abandoned as quickly as
possible), and there is absolutely no proof that it works. I
would guess that cryonics registers near maximum on any
wealthy person's "scam detection meter."

Finally if you put money into cryonics, you take it away from
some other recipient, such as your heirs. And you are
implicitly stating that you don't believe in salvation. This
doesn't look good, and many wealthy people tend to care,
somewhat, about their public image.

Instead of asking why millionaires don't put money into
cryonics, a more sensible question might be, why any
millionaire ever _would_ put money into cryonics. This could
be a very interesting line of inquiry. I asked Don Laughlin
(in a taped interview) why he had signed up, and he just
said, "I like the odds." Why did this extremely shrewd man
tell me that resuscitation seems "pretty much a done deal" to
him, while other wealthy individuals would not share this
opinion? I don't know the answer to this question, but I
would like to.

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