X-Message-Number: 4496
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 1995 23:42:25 -0400
Subject: giving

Charles Platt (#4490) expresses irritation at cryonicists' apparent lack of
interest in the recent BioPreservation report and in their lack of serious
support for serious research. A couple of comments:

1. I doubt that the lack of response on Cryonet to the BPI report was owing
to lack of interest--although a few more commendatory messages would have
been nice. It was probably due more to the absence either of criticism or
technical suggestions. In any case, I have no doubt that many people are
awaiting with great interest the BPI results after thawing from liquid
nitrogen temperature, as well as the other ongoing work including that at
BioTime and that in the Ukraine.

2. Many things could be said about the very limited level of general
financial support for research among cryonicists. Bypassing specifics for the
moment, one might compare this situation with charity by Christians (or Jews
or Muslims). 

These religions teach help for the poor, and all churches donate to the poor,
and presumably one's piety and one's worth in God's eyes depend in part on
giving. But what level is appropriate? One viewpoint might be that I should
keep giving until nobody in the world has a lower living standard. In
practice, hardly anyone gives enough to impair his life style. (Maybe the
Mormons come closest to it, and that is only 10%, if I remember correctly.) 

3. Should a cryonicist impoverish himself to improve his (and others')
chances by an unknown and possibly very small amount? Should he do this in
the face of objections or need in his family? Few people will make
substantial present sacrifices of any kind for putative and unknown rewards
in a dim future. Just signing up is a leap of courage and imagination of
which only a tiny minority have yet been capable. Of course I agree that
additional commitment might well yield hugely disproportionate rewards--but
we don't know that for sure, and at the margin we can't really brand anyone
as weak or short-sighted.

Certainly I agree that more of us should do more and give more. And it NEED
NOT feel like sacrifice! It can feel like pride and adventure and excitement
and achievement. Maybe we should give each other more medals and plaques.
(Seriously) Maybe more fund raisers should also be fun raisers.  And of
course target donors should be offered specific, easy plans, preferably in
groups, and not just lectured on  giving until it hurts. We can take lessons
from some of the charitable organizations and some of the political parties.

How many in cryonics--of above average means--have contributed a serious
portion of their money, either before or after death? Maybe Dave Pizer, Saul
Kent, Bill Faloon, Dick Jones, Jack Erfurt, Fred Sherrill...I've probably
missed a few, but the list isn't very long. Those who have contributed
generously in work comprise a longer list, but still very few. 

There is also the question of whether one should give the maximum now, or
husband his resources so as to grow his wealth faster and be able to
contribute more later. It doesn't apply to everyone, since not everyone is in
an occupation where capital grows in any important way. And it may be just a
convenient excuse for some. 

Perhaps the best rule for most of us is just to CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING on a
regular basis, and to review and try to upgrade periodically. 

Commercial: donations to the Immortalist Society and some of the other
organizations are deductible for federal income tax purposes under 501(c)3.

Robert Ettinger 

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