X-Message-Number: 2853
Subject: CRYONICS Re: Motivation
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 1994 01:58:13 -0700 (PDT)

snip snip...

> 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.

While the world may be chock full of technically competent surgeons whose
services can be had for a price, the only one I know of that has been
paid to do surgery hasn't contributed innovation. As you yourself said in
a previous post, Dr. X is liable to just up and walk out in the middle of
a procedure. All the innovation in cryoprotective surgery that we've been 
graced with has come from Jerry Leaf and Alcor's Dr. McEachern and Keith 
Henson, as was reported in their last suspension. I know these aren't a lot 
of examples to go on, but it suggests that a cryonicist is more apt to care 
enough about what he's doing to give it some thought. On the other hand if 
you can hire Cooley or DeBakey give me a holler!

> 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.

This is obvious and beside the point.

> 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!   

Very charming story, but it belabors the obvious.

> 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.*

All *dead* people may have had rights and causes worthy of a "principled" 
defense, but it doesn't necessarily follow that a rationally self-interested 
person would make a disproportionate sacrifice on their behalf. My point
was that I'd rather not count on someone else's alturism.

> 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 PROFIT.

The non-cryonicists whom you cite didn't act out of concern for Dora as a
*person*: Judge Miceli and the other individual referred to were acting out 
of what was important to them, upholding the law and loyalty to a friend.
There may come a crisis where the interests of cryonics patients don't
neatly coincide with any non-cryonicist's interests. It may be worth 
noting that when the shit hit the fan, less optimistic cryonicists ran 
for cover while Jerry Leaf and Carlos Mondragon took care of business.

> 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.

Well when you define it that way, I'm inclined to agree, but then you say...

> 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. 

Dunno about the rest of you, but these sure sound like "fanatics" to me.
Btw, I don't think States have rights, but people do.

> 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:

Go ahead and make the best of people's motivations, no problem with that.
The real issue here is decision making control over my life, and I'm just
not willing to give it to anyone who doesn't think I AM alive!!

> 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.

And you have the gall to call yourself a libertarian after having just
proclaimed allegiance to State's rights! But seriously, these are still 
not reasons enough to put "hired help" in charge of a cryonics 

IMO, character, competence, AND an optimistic commitment to cryonics
doesn't seem like a lot to ask. For persons running cryonics organizations,
it is minimally acceptable.

Ever forward,


PS, Congratulations on the brilliant and entertaining way in which you
manage to weave bullshit with reasonableness, it's very hard to reply
to. :-)

David Cosenza                                           
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