X-Message-Number: 2530
Date: 10 Jan 94 05:41:34 EST
From: Mike Darwin <>
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS Re: The problem of cryonics

With all due respect I must disagree with Mr. Stodolsky.  As a
longstanding and dedicated amateur (armchair) Egyptologist I would point
out that mummification did not come about overnight in ancient Egypt and
it was part of a well developed and longstanding RELIGION.  This religion
was the center point of the moral, social and economic life of Egypt.  It
was also a very powerful and rigid religion.  As such, it holds the
record (so far) for durability of institutions (continuous care of
shrines/grounds including in many cases mummified remains) for at least
3,000 years - 5,000 if you want to be generous.

The Western world is in no way comparable to ancient Egypt.  Is Mr.
Stodolsky seriously proposing that cryonics could be catapulted into the
same position of social acceptance today?  While I cannot PROVE that this
is not possible, I can sure argue that the price tag for achieving it
would be VERY high.  A lot higher than all the research would cost to
both achieve and implement suspended animation as a clinically viable
technology.  What exactly would be required to insert cryonics into this
(i.e., OUR) society such that it became a powerful enough agent to tell
the existing medicolegal establishment how to behave?  

I am not interested in hypothetical examples here.  Rather, I am
interested in the here and now, and in the world that I and my loved
ones live in today.

As to Mr. Stodolsky's claim that cryonics is "elitist" and that very few
in our society can afford it, I can only ask how he defines elitist?

Virtually all healthy middle class people can afford cryonics easily
using life insurance or other assests.  The cost is about 1K a year,
including dues, and that is for the most expensive level of service.  But
consider the Cryonics Institute.  Their total cost is 28K  with no yearly
dues (unless you want to vote).  That brings the cost down to at most,
several hundred dollars a year.  That makes cryonics affordable to almost

By way of example:

In the park near my home reside a number of derelicts.  Most of them
smoke.  I have actually taken some time to talk with these people.  Those
that smoke tell me that they smoke about 3 packs per day. That works out
to roughly 1K per year.  In reality the cost is higher because as I
learned, much to my amazement, many places sell cigarrettes INDIVIDUALLY
at a high price.  Often these people will buy their cigarettes ONE AT A
TIME as they panhandle enough money to do so.  Thus, they have no
economies of scale.  My point here is that VAGRANTS spend 1K a year on a
nonessential (albeit addictive) luxury.  Talk to me again about the
affordability of cryonics and its alleged elitism!  Equally to the point,
a number of people signed up with Alcor during my tenure there were poor,
some work(ed) at convenience stores or elsewhere for minimum wage.  They
managed the cost of cryonics because they thought it IMPORTANT.  Such was
also the case in ancient Egypt.  People saved and scrimped their whole
lives to be mummified well (or at all)  and get their shot at immortality. 
Why?  Because they BELIEVED.  The same is true today.  I know of
Adventist congregations which are VERY poor where virtually everyone gives
10-20% of their income to their church building/operating fund.  I could
go on and on with examples.

The central element here is deep belief (or addictive need! - maybe they
are the same thing!).  Cryonics as it currently is structured lacks that
and will continue to unless it becomes a religion and a moral imperative.
Religions do not work through reason. They work through primeval,
emotional things.  They work through mystery and ritual, and at their
best (or worst, depending upon your point of view) provide the whole
framework of meaning in their adherents' lives.  Today's cryonics is not
about those things (hence its limited appeal).  What is more I have no
desire to SEE it transformed into religion (although I will readily
concede it is on its way!).

Consider this: it is far easier to take people's medical care and even
their economic well-being away than it is to take their religion away.  

As to Mr. Stodolsky's comments about the problems of organizational
durability over the time-course required to revive cryonics patients
these are well taken and certainly cut to the core of why I have always
put chances of revival very low (2-3%). 


If anyone *does* know how to make cryonics a dominant idea in this
society, please let me know at once.  I promise you a rich slice of the
pie: together we can make history and grow rich beyond our wildest dreams.

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