X-Message-Number: 3707
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 12:30:14 -0500
Subject: optimism

Mike Darwin has publicly expressed his deep sorrow over the recent deaths and
suspensions of two friends, Paul Genteman and Margaret Bradshaw--the latter a
suicide. Needless to say, although I did not have a personal relationship
with either, and therefore do not feel as deep a sense of personal loss,  I
have deep sympathy.

However, I take reluctant issue with Mike's apparent implication that I have
been too optimistic about the psychological effects of involvement in
cryonics.  He even seems to suggest that these might,, on balance, be
negative. Here are a few further thoughts.

First and foremost, both logic and our experience at Cryonics Institute,
including my personal experience with family members and friends, indicate
that we DO find reduced negative impact of death and a generally improved
sense of optimism and hope.

Mike says his experience is more extensive. Maybe so, but we have fourteen
patients here, more than a quarter of the total world wide. And it may be
that our people are a bit more typical. After all, how large a percentage of
the population are on prozac for depression? As far as I know, none of our CI
members are--and we ask our people for medical backgrounds..

Although the number of suicides among cryonics people has been a bit high,
remember  that we are dealing with very small samples. I am reminded of the
market gurus who say things like, "In 7 of the last 10 administrations, the
first year after a presidential election has been an up year." (Or down,
whatever.) What does it mean? Zilch.

To be sure, I have said myself that cryonics people--NOT universally or
anywhere close to it, but as a noticeable tendency in some degree--are
misfits (to put it unpleasantly) or at least people who in their own minds
are not sufficiently high achievers, whose abilities have not measured up to
their ambitions. How could it be otherwise? People who are "well adjusted" to
current conditions can hardly be revolutionaries, almost by definition.
(Remember: Good Health means having the same diseases as your neighbors, and
Good Mental Health means having the same delusions as your neighbors.) 

Nevertheless, a good number of people in cryonics are generally "well
adjusted" and unusual only in this one respect, that they have a very simple
(but not simple-minded) preference for a chance of life (for themselves and
those they love) over the certainty of decay. In this particular area, for
whatever reasons of genetics or life experience, they see more clearly than

As our scientific credibility grows, and our size, those joining will more
and more reflect the general population. And if there were some way to place
the bet, I would bet heavily that more people will gain in the pursuit of

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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