X-Message-Number: 2844
Subject: More on CRYONICS for Profit
From:  (Ben Best)
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 1994 03:15:00 -0400

    Mike Darwin began his comments on my "Cryonics and the Profit
Motive" posting by asking about what provoked it. Since he asked
point-blank, I will answer. The primary stimuli were many comments I
have heard about plans for CryoCare's operation, as well as Michael
Soloviov's plans to start a cryonics company in Russia. There were also
many secondary stimuli which had been stewing in my mind for a while.
The net was quiet, so I decided to "bolt from the blue". I preferred to
stay philosophical and abstract because I did not want to instigate a
"political" fight. I also expected that Mike Darwin would have more to
say on this subject than anyone, but I have been surprised that more
people have not had something to say.

   I had heard that Mike has had some very good experiences working
with non-cryonicists -- highly skilled people who take professional
pride in a job well done. I had also heard about "Dr. X" and I still
have my doubts whether any non-cryonicist would make a good surgeon for
cryopreservation procedures. Unfortunately, however, it does NOT follow
that there exists a cryonicist who would make a good surgeon for
cryopreservation procedures. I believe that the task requires both
competence and a commitment to performing a potentially life-saving
procedure. In this case, it may be that the competence is more essential
than the commitment. But I would greatly prefer to have both.

    In representing cryonics to the public, however, I would want a
cryonicist. This does not mean, however, that I would want ANY
cryonicist. The sign-up process requires commitment, patience, human
relation skills, articulateness and even an ability to counsel. I don't
believe that Arthur McCombs was well suited to that job, but I believe
that even he would be far preferable to someone who is working 9-5 and
has no personal interest in cryonics. For most other "employee" roles,
I would have no objection to "hired help". Banks and many other
businesses with employees handling large cash amounts (as well as other
assets and responsibilities) have developed adequate control structures
to ensure that employees do not run-off with the assets.

    The other problem is the ownership, management and decision-making
positions. Here again, being a cryonicist is no assurance that these
jobs will be done competently. But noncryonicist managers will only be
concerned about the success of the organization within a 10 or 20-year
period, not a 100 or 200-year period. Procapitalist cryonicists forget
that we live in a non-capitalist society governed by laws that might not
honor the contracts of "dead" people. The disturbing similarity between
a celibate woman running a gay sex phone business and a noncryonicist
running a cryonics operation is that profits must be very good or they
may be inclined to drop the business. Move the operation to British
Columbia, liquidate the assets and bury the liabilities. A cryonicist,
however, may be willing to weather the bad times knowing that they are
not just motivated by profits, but by concern for the lives of the
patients -- and concern for his/her own life.

   Not only do I reject the formula cryonicist=competence, but I also
reject the formula cryonicist=integrity. For positions of responsibility
and decision-making I want to see competent cryonicists with integrity
in all cryonics organizations. I believe that being a cryonicist is a
necessary, but not sufficient condition for these positions.
"Ideological purity" is not what I have in mind when I use the word
"cryonicist". What I have in mind is a person who believes that lives
are at stake in cryonics -- including his/her own life -- and that those
lives are important. Robert Nelson's actions only make sense to me if he
was incompetent (as Robert Ettinger believes) or not committed to saving
lives (including his own) -- as Mike Darwin implies.

   My guess is that Mike Darwin would cryopreserve Robert Nelson if
sufficient funds were provided. Nonetheless, if Robert Nelson were truly
competent, and if he were truly concerned that the loss of his patients
might endanger his own chances of being cryopreserved -- and this
MATTERED to him -- would he have acted as he did? The same question
goes for the guy who ran-off with Alcor's 100K.

   On the other hand, I believe that Jerry Leaf was a cryonicist, even
if he "did not think cryonics (as currently practiced) would work". The
critical phrase here is the "as currently practiced". My guess is that
Jerry was driven by a desire to practice cryonics until the practice of
cryonics proved practicable. This is very different from thinking
cryonics is a hopeless hoax. Also, I spoke to Jerry Leaf on the phone
during my own sign-up with Alcor, and he discussed the merits of
whole-body as opposed to neurosuspension. Why would he make whole body
arrangements for himself if neuro would more cheaply demonstrate his
"commitment"? Why would he speak so critically of permafrost burial in
contrast to liquid nitrogen if he thought all methods were equally

   To me, the evidence indicates that even if Jerry "did not think
cryonics would work", he was not 100% convinced it had a 0% chance of
working -- even with current methods. Like Mike, he may have set the
chances at 2-3% (or 0.2-0.3%), but been less inclined to publicize such
a low estimate. Of course, only "Jerry Leaf speaks for Jerry Leaf". And
I hope he does exactly that -- someday.

                -- Ben Best (ben.best%)

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