X-Message-Number: 23312
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 11:58:36 +0100
Subject: Re: extinct instinct
From: David Stodolsky <>

On Friday, January 23, 2004, at 10:02  PM,  wrote:

> Some still wonder why cryonics is a hard sell, but the answer has been
> obvious for a long time. The so-called "survival instinct" just 
> doesn't exist any
> more, for most people most of the time, in the circumstances of modern 
> life.

The "survival instinct" is an evolutionary built-in that is always 

> Almost anyone will exert himself to dodge a taxi or a tiger, but if the
> danger is not clear and present, then, for most people most of the 
> time, it just
> isn't a major concern. And in today's world, clear and present dangers 
> are rare.

Correct, that is why most responses are to meanings assigned by a 
cultural system. The development of a cultural system is driven by a 
motive, some call 'generative death anxiety'. This results from the 
conflict between the survival instinct and one's knowledge that the 
future holds destruction for the body. Within certain cultural systems, 
individuals may choose self-destructive acts because they offer 
symbolic immortality. Thus, they are responding to a symbolic reality, 
not a physical reality.

> Very few people die of murder, or even war or terrorism. Auto and 
> industrial
> accidents kill scores of thousands in the US every year, but the 
> threat is
> merely statistical and shrugged off. Health concerns are taken 
> somewhat seriously
> by many, but it took decades to make a dent in smoking practices. Even 
> eating
> habits are affected mostly by the fear of looking unattractive, not by 
> fear
> of death.

A cultural system can define what threats to draw into the present and 
what threats to ignore.

> And for the sick and elderly, the prospect of death is not especially
> fearsome, and may even be welcome.

Studies have show that the prospect of death is dealt with in middle 

> People mentioned in the Alexander interview were FOR life extension, 
> and did
> NOT think cryonics necessarily a very long shot--but STILL rejected 
> it. The
> motivation just isn't there for most people. The bio-research 
> life-extenders are
> not motivated by fear of death or even love of life, but just by an
> intellectual toy and career possibilities.

These people remain products of their culture, even though they may see 
other possibilities. The social institutions supporting change may not 
be available.

> Conclusion? Forget about "marketing" or magic bullets. There will be a
> psychological sea change at some point, but we can't predict it or 
> jump-start it,

Unless we really understand the psychological dynamics. I am not aware 
of any resources being expended on this type of research, so the 
inability to predict should be no surprise.

> and we should not waste time or energy or money on over-ambitious 
> public
> relations projects.

The analysis I present suggests a cultural framework compatible with 
new technology is the key to progress.

> We can work
> patiently among our own families and circles of friends. The main 
> thing is to
> do your best to save yourself and those close to you.

This can be seen as promoting the development of a sub-culture 
supportive of life-extending technologies.


David S. Stodolsky    SpamTo: 

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