X-Message-Number: 3715
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 1995 14:05:01 -0500
Subject: approaches and perspectives

Mike Darwin (#3711) expands on his assertion that cryonics activity can, and
fairly often has, had negative impact on the families. This is certainly true
as far as it goes, but I think he has skewed some of his observations and

1. He says Cryonics Institute has less experience being on hand at time of
death or earlier, and has less concern for delays or periods of warm
ischemia. This latter is not true.  

We always emphasize the importance of prompt action, and especially prompt
cooling. One of the results of our sheep head experiments was the observation
that prompt washout and perfusion are very important to obtain the best
results. The fact that prompt cooling ALONE can in some cases be very
effective is attested to by the recoveries after drowning in cold water.

What we do not have, that Alcor and BioPreservation may have, is a traveling
team to do the work on-site. This is a matter of personnel and expense. But
it is SELDOM possible for members at a distance to get prompt service from
ANYONE in case of death with little warning. (Even when there is warning, the
time estimates are usually so uncertain that the expense of a traveling-team
standby is prohibitive. It is also easy to have foul-ups in travel
arrangements, as recent history attests.) 

Our main present approach at Cryonics Institute is to engage, train, and
equip local funeral directors to do the washout and perfusion. This is
relatively very cheap--and we think the evidence shows it is effective.

The conclusion that traveling teams are NOT the answer is shared by at least
some who are close to Mike, including Mr. Mugler's group in the Washing DC
area, who want to equip and train local volunteers. For anyone living in a
city, local help will usually be better--both in effectiveness and
expense--than traveling teams.

2. To my knowledge--based on members' questionnaires that I have seen--there
is no one in CI with a medical history or complaints of depression. Mike says
around 10% of the U.S. population have medically diagnosed depression. This
discrepancy could mean any of several things, but I continue to think (based
on more than one line of reasoning and information) it is possible that CI
people may be a little closer to the general population mean in their
personality profiles than (say) California cryonicists. Age alone could make
a difference.

3. The most important element of skew in Mike's discussion lies in looking at
absolute rather than relative numbers and in failing to give a clear
cost/benefit analysis--even though Mike acknowledges that he advocates
cryonics, and of course has done so extremely effectively for many years.

The point is, there is very little new or different about cryonics as a bone
of contention within a family. ANY use of money that potentially penalizes
some relative is going cause trouble, whether it is building a football
stadium or buying a too-expensive mausoleum or whatever. ANY relative in ANY
situation may resent and effectively disown someone, alive or dead, who
requires too much attention, causes too much trouble, or costs too much
money. So what else is new? Against this the relatives, and especially the
prospective patients, must balance the prospect of immortality, assigning
that whatever weight they deem appropriate.

More generally, it is ALWAYS easier to surrender than to fight--and sometimes
better, if we are honest. I and others have long ago written about the
psychological incentives to go along to get along, to be passive, to resign
oneself, not to rock the boat, not to sacrifice some of what you have for
something (however alluring) you might problematically get.

As always, the question is one of realism, of correctly assessing the
probabilities and the expected gain or expected value in the gamble,
including accurate weighing of one's own emotional reactions. Some of this is
addressed in a piece I did years back for the Immortalist Society on the
probability of rescue; my conclusion, which I still believe valid, is
that--even under present conditions--your chance of revival is odds-on
favorable, much closer to unity (certainty) than to zero. And when you factor
in the potential VALUE of success--whoosh!--look out below!

As long as existing quantities hold out, this booklet is available on
request; send $1 to the Immortalist Society, 24443 Roanoke, Oak Park MI

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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