X-Message-Number: 4499
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 1995 19:25:07 -0400
Subject: cryonics & commons

Again on the matter of incentive for cryonicists to make more donations to
cryonics research:

Basically (for people of no more than moderate means) this is just the old
PROBLEM OF THE COMMONS. Why should you vote, or keep off the grass, or make a
political or charitable donation--given that your contribution seems unlikely
to make any material difference? The answer comes in several parts.

First and foremost, the phenomenon is nonlinear. A butterfly flaps its wings
in Trinidad (or fails to) and a typhoon hits Japan. You can never be sure
what action may turn out to be crucial.

Second, your action has effects on more than one level and in more than one
direction. It has direct effects and it has more subtle psychological
effects, including effects on your own psyche, self esteem, and future
growth. For example, whether you vote or not has effects not just in the
ballot box but in your thoughts, conversations, interaction with other people
and influence on them, and so on. There are ripples on ripples.

Knowing all this doesn't necessarily make choices easier. There are too many
competing demands of conscience to allow you to "do your duty" in full
measure to all of them or even most of them. You have to set priorities. But
if you believe that the potential reward of successful cryonics is orders of
magnitude greater than any other, then "my little bit won't matter" is no

Robert Ettinger

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