X-Message-Number: 33001
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 18:08:43 -0700
Subject: the mentality of wealth
From: Charles in Arizona <>

I will address the "billionaires" topic within my very limited
experience. I have spent a few hours with a guy who is among, I think,
the 1,000 richest people in the world. I think I calculated that if he
put $10 million into cryonics, that would be the equivalent of me
spending around ten dollars. I have also been present at meetings with
Don Laughlin, the casino owner, who is said to be worth at least $500

Both of these men are SIGNED UP. (Don Laughlin makes no secret of
this.) They understand the cryonics paradigm and they want it. But
they are still extremely reluctant about parting with money for
cryonics-related purposes. Below I will try to suggest some reasons

Most seriously wealthy people are very serious about wealth. It is
their measure of success. So, they will pay the minimum unless someone
can prove to them that spending more will buy them more. In Alcor's
case, just the opposite. Putting more money into the Patient Care
Trust will dilute it by a factor of at least a few hundred, as it is
spread among other people whom the wealthy person has never met and
doesn't care about. They have also learned to be cautious about
donations, even for purposes such as employee salaries or public
relations, although these are areas of cryonics where donations have
been applied occasionally. Experience has taught them (rightly) that
if you donate money to an organization which is run by
business-amateurs who may not follow sound fiscal principles, the
money may not be well used. If the organization offers the wealthy
person a seat on the board, or some other measure of control, then
maybe there will be a better chance of attracting his involvement; but
what cryonics organization wants to do that?

As for research: The wealthy person has to understand why the research
is necessary. He thought he already bought cryopreservation. Now
explain to him how you sold him something that doesn't work yet, and
you need more of his money to make it work. Probably a lot more;
certainly millions. Now make this sound legitimate and credible.

Even if some hypothetical wealthy person fully buys into the need for
research, once again we have the risk of people abusing donations. How
does a wealthy person know if the scientists are for real? How can he
trust them to get results? He probably thinks of research as a
sink-hole which tends to consume unlimited amounts of money while
always promising results tomorrow, and never quite delivering them
today. There's a lot of truth in this.

Of course, a wealthy person could allocate time to getting personally
involved. But that would take him away from his primary occupation:
Sustaining and increasing his wealth. It would mean that he would have
to turn into a completely different type of person. I once asked the
president of Gateway Computer why he didn't just sell all his stock,
take the money, quit the company, and live the rest of his life in
luxury, never needing to work again. Apparently no one had ever asked
him this. He had had quick answers to all my other questions, but now
he just stared at me. He had no answer at all. Then he said--"But
we've only just started here!" gesturing at his office and the huge
factory beyond. (This was at a time when Gateway was more successful
than Dell, incidentally, and probably bigger than Compaq, which had
not yet merged with HP.) Like many successful business people, he was
obsessed with being more successful. The idea of just opting out would
be like suggesting to a football player that he walk off the field in
the middle of the game.

Overall, when someone says, "A rational wealthy problem could solve
all our problems," what he really means is, "If *I* were a wealthy
person I would know how to spend the money." But he is not a wealthy
person, he will never be a wealthy person, he does not think like a
wealthy person, and probably he has not proposed his ideas to any
seriously wealthy people.

In addition there is the issue of protective colleagues, family, or
friends. Wealthy people are besieged with scammers wanting money, so,
naturally they have a protective entourage including accountants,
partners, or relatives who form a protective barrier. Whether people
in the entourage are self-interested (trying to maintain the wealth
for themselves in some way) or genuinely concerned about fiscal
responsibility, is a matter for debate. But this is something that I
have seen in action. If the wealthy person is signed up, the entourage
may tolerate it as a harmless eccentricity--but they are likely to
intervene if the cryonoids start trying to get more of the money.

Then there is the whole plausibility problem. About 15 years ago I
attended a meeting of investors raising money for cold fusion
research. I've told this story before, but it can never be told too
often. I spoke at length with a man who was putting several million
into the supposedly discredited process of cold fusion. I mentioned
the subject of cryonics, outlined the reasons why it might work, and
suggested he might be interested. "No," he said, without hesitation.
"It's far too speculative." In other words: Implausible.

I have also made a one-hour presentation on cryonics to Jeff Bezos,
founder of Amazon. The founders of Facebook were also there, but I
didn't recognize them back then, and they didn't say much. Bezos was a
wonderful guy, super-smart, full of sharp questions, and he had a
great sense of humor. He was so interested, he followed me out into
the hallway to talk more. But when he had learned as much as he needed
to know, he just smiled, thanked me very much, and walked away. Like
so many other people I have dealt with over the years, he could see
that cryonics had a chance of working, but he never imagined applying
it to *himself.* This may be the biggest problem of all.

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