X-Message-Number: 2527
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: CRYONICS: re cryonics #2525-2526
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 1994 22:35:26 -0800 (PST)


We have a basic problem which we must face, sugar or not: it is not clear
right now that the destruction SOMETIMES caused by cryonic preservation is
small enough that the information required for revival is preserved.

Not all forms of preservation are equal. Sugar does not get into the cells,
even if the concentration is great enough. Internal cell structure is 
therefore destroyed when it is used. Current embalming methods do NOT 
penetrate the brain (of course, they're not intended to). They will therefore
not protect the most important part of our selves. Furthermore, at the
high normal temperatures that people think of, and even at below zero (say
in the Arctic or Antarctic) chemical decay and (at temps in the higher
range) bacterial decay proceed far too fast for us to expect preservation 
for sufficiently long.

It has already been explained over and over again that the cost of cryonic
suspension, when funded WELL IN ADVANCE OF OLD AGE by life insurance or
a system of planned savings, is within the means of many people. When someone
says that they cannot afford it, they are usually making a comparison: cannot
afford it when they must choose between it and (say) going out to dinner every
weekend (yes, I made that up, but I hope it conveys the idea). I note that 
many many people could save for cryonic suspension if that were what interested
them: this suggests to me that the cost is not nearly the barrier it is often
thought to be. I will admit, though, that for some people who are VERY badly
off, it is beyond their budget, and less expensive forms of storage remain 
and important goal.

However David is quite correct on one point, and it is important. This is that
acceptance of some custom doesn't correlate well at all with any scientific
foundation it may have. My personal interest in cryonics research comes 
not because I believe it will have any major effect in convincing the 
unconvinced (at least in the short term) but because I want a good suspension
for myself and my wife. And I have resigned myself to living in a world in
which cryonicists are a very small minority. Perhaps that research will also
have the benefit of convincing more people that cryonicists should be taken
seriously, but that is a matter of education and promotion rather than 

Finally, its not obvious to me (by which I mean that it may be true, but could
easily turn out false) that reversible freezing of brains will help recruitment
all that much. The main reason I say that is that cryonics is a much more
radical position than simply that: we think EVERYONE should be preserved, even

if they are in poor condition, found after 5 hours of room temperature 
ischemia.... for instance. So long as we have no proof that the information 
constitutes their memories and their self has been destroyed, we should 
suspend people. We suspend them not because we know how to bring them back,
or even to bring their brain back, but because they are HUMAN LIVES, and not
to be thrown away simply because we today happen to be ignorant of how to 
recover them. The only absolute standard of "death" (and "death" in this case
means that the "dead" person ceases to have any rights as a person) is proof
that the information needed to recover someone has been destroyed completely.
It should not matter that we don't know just how to recover them now.

Best wishes, and a long long life,
	Thomas Donaldson

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