X-Message-Number: 2526
From:  (David Stodolsky)
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS: RE - #2520 - The problem of cryonics
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 94 15:56:04 +0100 

>      It doesn't take a genius to realize that most of the PROBLEMS that 
>lead to compromise of the individuals' well being to that of the group's 
>well being stem from the fact that the practice of cryopreserving "dead" 
>people is completely OUTSIDE of  the existing medical and social milieu.  

There is no reason to believe this as a general statement, even though
it may be true for the present situation in the USA (which I doubt). If
we take a historical view, we can find situations through out history,
(mummification in ancient Egypt, elaborate burial sites in Siberia,
and imperial burials in ancient China) in which funds on the scale
needed for the most sophisticated techniques currently contemplated
were expended (in the range of US$10 billion). Thus, social acceptance
has virtually *nothing* to due with proven performance.

One of the major blocks to public acceptance of cryonics, is its elite
nature. Most people can never fund the standard protocol. In ancient
Egypt, mummification was available to even the poor, though at reduced
"quality" (hardly a consideration by today's standards, since discarding
the brain was routine). The suggestions to use room temperature methods,
is an effective way to deal with this problem. When it is said that
this approach doesn't work, it is within a very narrow framework for
the objective, that of reviving a preserved brain. It may work fine
if we consider it as a way of preserving the information in the brain
for later extraction. (Massive oversimplification here.) The low temperature
approach also ignores the real problems of maintaining a stable organization
for hundreds or thousands of years. Finally, there is massive damage
even with the best current technique, which means that other very
damaging methods may be just as good, if there is little degeneration
after the preservation  process. We simply don't know, because
we don't know the revival technology of the future.

Research is not always best directed to incremental improvement
in current techniques, even though this is the surest investment.
For example, it may be possible to use gene therapy in terminal patients,
which would cause their brain cells to start producing the protective
agents used by organisms which must suffer statis for extended periods
of time as part of their normal life cycle.

Almost all current discussion overlooks the social dimension of the
problem. If sugar preservation was a routine burial option, then the
public acceptance for funding of cryonics research would be much greater,
completely disregarding whether that approach has any validity what
so ever (see the first paragraph). Some research on how to integrate
suspension technology into current medical/mortuary practice might
be the most important research that could be done now.

David S. Stodolsky, PhD         Internet: 
Peder Lykkes Vej 8, 4 tv.                        : 
DK-2300 Copenhagen S                           Tel.: + 45 31 59 76 44
Denmark                                         Fax: + 45 35 32 33 99

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