X-Message-Number: 2849
Date: 04 Jul 94 21:46:49 EDT
From: Mike Darwin <>
Subject: CRYONICS motivation

Actually, I find I quite agree with almost everything Ben has said.  As I was
careful to point out in my "disturbing analogy" MONEY had to be there, and I
was also careful to point out elsewhere in my posting that MONEY has not
historically been there because cryonics is both (numerically) unremunerative
and it has powerful downsides which tend to neutralize financial incentives;
there are some things you can't even PAY people to do (for a reasonable amount)
because the risks to their reputation, license, income stream, etc. are simply
too great at this time.  I think we are all agreed on that, and it has been
pointed out by both Ben and I in different ways.

Now as to Ben's contention that only a cryonicist can do a good job doing
surgery: poppycock!  Doing a good job doing a standby/transport is far more
demanding and punishing than doing good surgery and I and others have already
demonstrated with my "hired help" (some of which was acquired via Jim Yount at
ACS) that this can be done.  Surgery is not an easy craft to learn and learn
well, but it is among the MOST MECHANICAL and MOST IMPERSONAL of medical skills
(perhaps even more mechanical and less personal are consulting radiologists who
sit in darkened rooms and look at films all day long and rarely if ever see or
meet the patient (let alone touch him/her) -- even a pathologist performing a
post-mortem has more connection with the humanity of his patient).  Ben had

obviously never heard about or seen Michael DeBakey's cardiac surgery mill -- or
Denton Cooley's.  As I understand it, these guys do (did) an incredible number
of cases a day -- they have assistants who crack the chest and go on bypass and
they come in, work on the heart and leave; and the assistants close and do most
of the routine the post-operative follow up.  Despite this they have set-up a
system (driven by ego and profit motive and genuine committment to their craft)
of delivering good care.

As I was at pains to point out in my piece, good PEOPLE who have a commitment to
their CRAFT and a love of their work are the essential element.  I've seen
"committed" cryonicists do sloppy, half-assed jobs in equally critical areas --
people who's belief in cryonics I do not question -- any more than I question
their laziness or incompetence.

I have no doubt that if a good surgeon (be s/he and MD, or have come by the
skill otherwise as Jerry Leaf did, or as the surgeon I have used did -- he is
not an MD but an animal researcher) who took pride in his/her work and in
his/her word offered services, they could be as good or better as anyone with a
comparable committment to cryonics.  What KIND of person we are dealing with
counts for a lot.

Look folks, when you go to a GOOD printer or a GOOD interior decorator they
don't have to care one damn bit about you or what you've written or how you'll
live your life.  I have gone to printers who would not think of letting a bad
job out the door because they took too much pride in their work -- their work

was bound up with their sense of self.  THAT is what is important, not that they
have a belief in what they are printing!!!  Hell, they don't even usually READ
it.  Again I have a funny story here.  When I started a cryonics group in high
school I hooked up with a guy named Brad Butler.  Brad was not very
intellectual, but he did know how to run a press and in fact he had a whole
print-shop in his garage.  He did our business cards, letterhead and so on --
and he did a lot of work for others as well (this was before the era of quick
print shops  -- in fact Brad was probably among the first to pioneer this
economic niche).  Brad was barely literate but he was unstinting in his

committmenmt to quality.  He loved to make things look good and to do a good job

and he was intensely proud of his business and his skill.  I found it amusing at
the time that here was a guy who could barely read, and who was a printer!   

Dave Cosenza raises the issue of the importance of the probability estimate in
influencing the degree of risk people are willing to take in defending
cryopreservations or in giving good care. Generally, I would agree that there
will tend to be a correlation between BELIEF and involvement, but necessarily
between ODDS and involvement.  Here I can speak of my own situation and my own

record as well that of others who helped Alcor during time of crisis who did not
BELIEVE.  I make the following points:

1) It is my position that a PRINCIPLE is at stake here, in fact a number of
principles.  While I may believe the odds are low, or even ZERO, it is NOT my
decision to make, and further I could be WRONG!  The fact that I believe the
odds to  be low is in a very important sense IRRELEVANT where others are
concerned.  They have the right to choose and the right to make decisions

concerning probability.  When I took on the care of people who were dying it was

very often clear that they trusted ME to help get them through.  Such trust does

NOT end with the end of my formal involvement with Alcor nor will it ever end as
long as I am alive.  Nor did it end in the case of the two patients who I (and
Jerry leaf and Dick Jones) were instrumental in rescuing who otherwise would
have been lost.*

2) Regardless of odds or the workability of cryonics, there are other issues
which motivated people to help us, which motivated Judge Micelli to stop the
coroner's from thawing out Dora Kent: years later I asked Chris Ashworh WHY he

thought judge Micelli ruled in favor of Saul Kent and Alcor (not to mention Dora
Kent).  He replied by saying that he felt Judge Micelli was fundamentally
outraged by the injustice of what was being done and by the affront it

represented to the constitution and due process, (to both of which Judge Micelli
was deeply committed). As far as I know, Judge Micelli was not and is not a
"cryonicist";  he has not joined any cryonics organization and as far as I know
has voiced no opinion about cryonics one way or the other.  And yet he took a

controversial stand in favor of cryonics.  Similarly, there were people who were
NOT cryonicists who were outraged over what was happening and who took some
considerable risks to help -- everything from doing X-rays to getting cryogens,
to offering shelter, etc.  These people were NOT fanatics, they were rational,
thoughtful people who had a committment to fair play and decency and who when

confronted with a choice -- made one based on conscience rather than the minutae
of the law.  And these people didn't even have the prospect of a monetary

3) Dave is of course free to choose who he wants to take care of him.  But in my
considered opinion fanatics don't make good caretakers or make good decisions.
They react in extreme ways and they often react inappropriately because
fanaticism by definition entails a warped view of reality -- an inability even
to see the other side -- and that cuts them off from valuable information.  And
yes, I acknowledge that there is an upside to fanatacism in that it can be a

powerful motivator and can cause people to achieve remarkable things in the face
of terrible odds.

4)  Having said the above I would like to use the United States Civil War as an
analogy. Nothing in American history fascinates or frustrates me as much.  My
lover asked me the other day WHY people were still so intensely interested in
the civil war and my answer was that it was a war of terrible ambiguities and
shades of gray.  Like Alice's Wonderland, NOTHING is as it first seems.  The
South fought hard and well and almost won the war early on  because for them it
was their homes, their necks and their very way of life that was at stake --
including an important principle which I have great sympathy for -- state's

rights.  For the North it was a battle over Union and (early on only to a slight
degree) a battle over the morality of slavery.  Lincoln wanted Union preserved
because he did not want the US balkanized by Europe (something that might well
have happened had the North lost the war).

Swirling in the background were all these devilish issues; slavery was clearly
on the way out
regardless of the war, but was it moral to WAIT and let another generation or
two or three of black men and women suffer under it?  On the other hand was it
worth the price in lives (casualties approached 30% overall) and property and
hatred and compromise of principle (state's rights) to fight the war?  What a
mess!!!  I STILL don't know the answers, and pictures of both Lincoln and Lee
hang in my home  - two giants of men -- neither lilly white, each struggling
powerfully with a rending moral dillemma.

So what does all this have to do with cryonics and fanaticism?  Well, those
white  Union boys fought and died and suffered horrors that even modern warfare
has rarely equalled (WWI being the exception) in scale.  Many of them, a solid
core no doubt, fought and died and suffered unimagineably so that black men
could be free or so that the Union could be preserved.  And these were not
18-year-olds confused about life on average.  They were 25-27 years old.  And
they were more often than not NOT fanatics -- just men confronted with a tough
moral decision to make.  THAT is why that war has held its fascination because
it was NOT a mindless holy war with people pumped up and believing that they
were going to heaven dying for Allah or saving Christendom.  It was people

fighting for principles -- often principles which never did and never would have
touched their lives directly.  But many Northerners were deeply offended by
slavery and even though many of these SAME Northerners felt the black man
inferior and even a laughingstock, by God they SUFFERED and DIED to free them.

My point here is simple.  Life is very complicated and there is a richness of
motivations and reasons why people act.  Earlier in my career in cryonics I
could easily have written the words that Dave wrote.  But not today.  I have
come to respect the richness of people's motivation and to deal with people as
PEOPLE rather than as labels.  I told someone in cryonics recently that I had
made at least two very costly mistakes in my life:

The first was assuming that the person I fell in love with had to share my
ideological beliefs and be a soul-mate in the trenches of whatever causes were

dear to my heart (cryonics, objectivism/libertarianism, atheism, etc.) How could
I love someone who didn't share these beliefs and a committment to work for
them?  But that is not what love is all about and there are people who share
those beliefs quite closely who I would not to have in my home for dinner let
alone bed down with.

The second assumption was that only committed cryonicists were worth working
with or were worth considering as REAL people.

It is hard for me to determine which of these assumptions caused me more grief.
It is a close race.

Simple ways of looking at people, and litmus tests for this or that, are in my
opnion nearly useless.  The PERSONAL CHARACTER of the individual is of far more

But again, to each his or her own.

Mike Darwin

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