X-Message-Number: 2536
From:  (David Stodolsky)
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS: Re: The problem of cryonics (#2530)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 19:47:11 +0100 (MET)

In Regards to your letter:
> Message: #2530 - Re: The problem of cryonics
> Date: 10 Jan 94 05:41:34 EST
> From: Mike Darwin <>
> Message-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.

I don't recall saying anything about quick results, but as a social
scientist I can say we know a lot more about starting religions than
we do about starting suspendees ;-).

I hope it would not be unfair to characterize the difference between
the "A" and "B" approaches as the difference between science and religion.
It would be nice if cryonics was a science, but it is not (yet). A science is
defined by a peer reviewed communication system. Cryonics can start
making claims to being a science when the new journal has proven its

The cryonics industry is in the business of salvation, today and for
some time to come. If religious institutions hold the track record
for durability, this is not necessarily a problem. However, it becomes
a problem if people continually decry the fact that it is not a science,
and fail to see what institutions they are in competition with. Why
should anybody give up even a single cigarette for what is a high risk
bet on salvation, when they can get the "sure thing" (and maybe a
bowl of soup) by just acknowledging the "truth of Our Lord"? Seriously,
however, ignoring the moral and social dimension can lead to inadvertant
adoption of beliefs that are in direct contradiction to one's goals.
Such ignorance is the basis of the Western world's facination with,
and massive expenditures on, the technologies of death. It may also
be the root of conflicts within the cryonic movement.

> 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?  

How about a small cult, of say a hundred thousand people, donating 20% of their
income to cryonics research :-).

> While I cannot PROVE that this
> is not possible, I can sure argue that the price tag for achieving it
> would be VERY high.  

Most religions are money making operations (a little venture capitol to get 
going wouldn't hurt, however :-).

> 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.

This is exactly the sentiment expressed by Tom D. in response to my short
1977 article encouraging attention to political factors. To bad
no one paid attention, ALCOR could have saved itself a lot of legal
problems (and somebody could have had a really fine job as Riverside
county coroner :-).

> 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.  

Given the 1/3 of the world's population that is malnurished, this is already
an elite. However, money is not the real question. If I can quote
Bertrand Russel, "Most people would rather die than think, and they
do!" (I need the exact ref for this quote). How many people are even
in a mental position to seriously consider cryonics? Most people think
one of the world's major problems is overpopulation. (There appears
to be no objective basis for this idea what so ever.) To them, people
dying is a plus. This is one aspect of the moral question that must
be confronted before cryonics can be widely accepted.

> 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!).

The logic here is that cryonics should remain of limited appeal, somewhat
an elitest postion, I would say :-).

> 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%). 

This was really my point. Organizational research is needed. The technology
for reviving drowned individuals was perfected and demonstrated over
a hundred years ago, and then forgotten! Reversable suspension could
have the same fate.

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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