X-Message-Number: 2528
Subject: CRYONICS Freedom Of Discussion
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 94 01:12:14 PST

To Cryonet
>From Steve Bridge, Alcor
January 7, 1994

In response to    Message: #2515 - Infighting & other issues
                  Date: Thu, 6 Jan 1994 12:41:35 MST
                  From: "Richard Schroeppel" <>

[I  originally  sent this message two days ago, but it never  got  to  its 
destination.  Steve]

< I don't follow the .POLITICS subgroup, but I felt the news
< of the impending Alcor split was not properly played up in
< the main group.
< I don't have the information, but it would be nice for
< some neutral insider :-) to do an analysis of the "real"
< reasons for the current disorganization.  

     One thing that cryonics has lacked for many years is neutral 
journalism.  Now before Mike Darwin or Ralph Whelan or someone else jumps 
on me, I don't mean that the writers have not TRIED to be careful and 
neutral.  It's just not really possible.  If you care enough to get 
involved in cryonics at all, and especially to get inside the stories, 
neutrality cannot be held forever.  The personalities, the philosophical 
arguments, the commitment to staying alive, the very nature of the 
cryonics idea itself -- all of these DEMAND a response.  Those writers who 
do not respond also do not stay around cryonics.

<Freedom of Discussion (Flamebait):

> The Cryonics insiders exhibit a regrettable tendency to try
> to stifle discussion of alternative preservation methods.
> Mike Darwin's recent response to Skrecky's article is more
> restrained, but the intent is clear:  After a reasoned
> discussion of what he thinks is wrong with Skrecky's
> proposal, Darwin proposes he should shut up, and that anyone
> publishing his stuff is irresponsible.  

     You must have missed some of Mike's points, Rich.  Mike said that 
publishing a piece that like **without commentary or without having 
technical people look at it first** was irresponsible.  He is absolutely 
correct.  His criticism in that regard was toward Ben Best (and neither 
Mike nor I have any personal animosity at all toward Ben) for publishing 
it as if it were a factual article rather than brainstorming that needed 
to be examined critically.

     Skrecky's article was nonsense, and fairly obvious nonsense to anyone 
who looked at it carefully.  (For instance, anhydrous sucrose isn't a 
solution, it is pure crystal sugar.  It cannot be pumped.)  By itself that 
is no problem.  I have had my own share of ideas that turned out to be 
nonsense, and so has Mike Darwin.  But we usually run those ideas past 
knowledgeable people first, which eliminates the worst silliness.  Doug 
Skrecky, or at least Ben Best, should have done the same.  Over the years, 
Mike and I (as original editors of Cryonics Magazine) have seen 
suggestions that patients be preserved in amber or perfused with honey 
(because of its "life-extending" qualities), and I'm sure I've missed a 
lot sillier ideas while Mike and Hugh Hixon were editors.   We didn't 
publish these articles because they weren't well thought out and had no 
validity we could find.

     The other thing that was irritating about Mr. Skrecky's article -- 
and this has a lot in common with nonsense from many writers -- is that 
the tone of the writer appears to assume that he has discovered 
something obvious and that the rest of us have been foolishly wasting our 
time over the last decades.  If Mr. Skrecky had merely changed the tone to 
-- "I've been doing some reading on sucrose and here's what I found out.  
What does anyone else think about this?" -- several people could simply 
have pointed out his errors and sent him back to do more reading.  That 
happens all the time here on Cryonet.

     But a "you foolish children" attitude tends to foster the same 
reaction right back.

     And far from discouraging discussion of alternative preservation 
methods, Mike gave several ideas for research in those methods.  Mike is 
not particularly confident in the ability of cryopreservation to save our 
identities and would very much LIKE to see new ideas.  But this is 
different from turning humans into large M&M's, which comes under the 
heading of idle speculation.

< Mike, is there some
< forum where we can discuss our ideas without offending you,
< or wasting your valuable time responding to our claptrap?
< Perhaps Kevin could set up another mailing list, for
< ideas-not-approved-by-Mike-Darwin-and-Tom-Donaldson?

     All of these people went through a period where they didn't know 
enough and had their ideas shot down.  (Ask Brian Wowk to tell you some of 
his experiences with having HIS ideas criticized when he started.)  But 
they have persisted and learned and now their ideas carry more weight.  
They are more careful about their ideas now; although they still make 
mistakes (Both Mike and Brian were rounded scolded for comparatively major 
mistakes in the cold-room discussion last year).  But they don't react 
angrily to criticism of their ideas.  They re-examine their words, and 
either defend them with better thought or go, "Oops!", apologize, and go 
on.  This is the world of science.

     Any new ideas forum that would not expose those ideas to the cranky 
but knowledgeable wouldn't accomplish much.

Steve Bridge

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