X-Message-Number: 24862
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 00:41:56 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: More Bob Nelson

David Pizer, #24844, writes:

>Much of the villification of Nelson came from the Chamberlains who I 
>believe were (Or maybe only Fred was??) named originally in the lawsuit by 
>relatives of the Chattsworth disaster along with Bob.

I think Fred was named, and paid a large sum (I heard it was around 
$30,000) in an out-of-court settlement. I'm not sure if Linda Chamberlain 
was also named--they both were originally involved with Nelson's 
organization, CSC. However, they had founded Alcor by early 1972 (Feb. 23 I 
think is the date), thus it is reasonable to assume they were no longer 
involved with CSC at that time. The timing on this is important, as is the 
state of knowledge the Chamberlains may have had as to what was going on. 
I've never heard the Chamberlains say they knew that Bob Nelson had 
secretly allowed patients to thaw and decompose, long before this was made 
public. Fred in 1970 was made vice president of CSC but said he had a hard 
time getting Bob to show him the actual facility where patients were stored 
(the Chatsworth crypt). He did finally see the crypt, and said he was 
surprised at the small number of capsules in relation to how many patients 
Bob said he had. I'm not sure exactly when this viewing took place. It 
could have been in May 1970, right after the one capsule with four in it 
was placed in the vault making it occupied for the first time. But I don't 

>  The Chamberlains had a habit of degrading others so that they themselves 
> (in relation) would not look so bad.

This is a strong statement and I would ask for some evidence. In particular 
Bob himself didn't accuse them of doing this, as far as I know.

>  When Fred Chamberlain & Bob Nelson were named in the original suit, Fred 
> may have bought his way out right from the get to and then villified Bob 
> to take all the blame.

Bob himself never said this is what happened, nor the Chamberlains. But the 
Chamberlains were incensed at Bob for saying they were present at a meeting 
that took place in October 1974, after the failure of the capsule with the 
little girl inside. Bob was devastated by this failure (as he said in the 
interview Dave and I conducted in 1990) and at this meeting he surrendered 
the presidency of CSC to Marcelon Johnson. Bob said in court testimony that 
the Chamberlains were present at the meeting, and the Chamberlains said it 
resulted in or contributed to their being dragged into the lawsuit. They 
said no way were they present--this was over two years after they had 
founded Alcor and they had severed ties with CSC. I have minutes of the 
meeting (a special, private meeting evidently not open to the public) and 
it does not name the Chamberlains among those said to be present. The 
Chamberlains clearly thought Bob had lied (that is, stated something he 
knew wasn't true) in falsely implicating them, but knowing how faulty Bob's 
memory is at times, I see it could have just been a memory lapse--or so it 
seems to me.

Another item worth mentioning here is that the Dostals, whose mother Clara 
was frozen by CSNY in 1972, were seeking litigation against the 
Chamberlains for publishing a report of the suspension in Manrise Technical 
Review without permission. The report does not name Mrs. Dostal, and the 
newsletter itself must have had only a very small circulation. I'm not sure 
how this finally figured in what happened.

>I  have interviewed Bob serveral times and I have not been able to form a 
>conclusion whether he was completely innocent.  Lacking hard evidence to 
>the contrary it seems he was the victim of others who did not continue 
>with their promised payment for the suspensions of their loved ones.

I think the relatives did stop paying and there was too little money, plus 
difficulties with some of the capsules. But the secrecy, coupled with 
overstating or misrepresenting one's capabilities, coupled with the failure 
to take one measure that would have been drastic but cut expenses 
enormously and quite possibly saved the suspensions (neuroconversion) are 
all bothersome. Bob comes across to me as someone who is basically upbeat 
about it all and does not believe he was morally at fault. And you can 
argue that someone who genuinely believes he is not morally at fault is in 
fact not morally at fault (this being related to the idea of "innocence by 
reason of insanity")--but certainly this is a tough issue. As I've said 
before, I feel sorrow over what happened, rather than outrage.

>Thomas also said:
>"And yes, I hope that Bob Nelson can someday be suspended, too."
>The first time I talked with Bob he told me that he never had any desire 
>to use cryonics for himself to avoid permanent death.  His stated reasons 
>then were that he was interested in space travel and he thought it would 
>be handy for long trips.  That's why it got interested in it 
>originally.  Then, he said, he just got swept up in a movement that was 
>desperate for someone to be the leader at the time.

I understand, though, that he has recently taken an interest in suspension. 
I also hope he can make cryonics arrangements. (Yes, I hope this for 
anybody, but in his case there is at least a realistic chance.)

Mike Perry

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