X-Message-Number: 5247
Date:  Thu, 23 Nov 95 14:40:12 
From: Steve Bridge <>
Subject: Kids and Cryonics

To CryoNet
From Steve Bridge
November 23, 1995

In reply to :    Message #5237
                 Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 15:06:22 -0500 (EST)
                 From: Robin Helweg-Larsen <>
                 Subject: Kids' view of Cryonics

>That was a really nice posting from Randy Smith- it's nice to get a
>different perspective over how many people relate to the idea of cryonics.

>I have all sorts of questions which I doubt are answerable yet: is that
>20-30% a maximum figure, from the age when people are most aware and
>open-minded?  Or is there another age which would allow a higher figure?
>Is this school representative of American kids, or not?  Are Americans
>representative in this area, or not?

     Having given perhaps 30-40 talks about cryonics to junior high/high
school age students, I'll add some perspective here.  One difference in my
"experimental group" is that typically I had only one shot at the
students, although one teacher in Indianapolis had me give me talk one day
and come back the next day for a full period of questions.

     That said, I would say that Randy Smith's percentages are not far
different from what I found in either "Death and Dying" or "Science
Fiction" classes in a typical suburban Midwestern High School.  (Many of
the students were "inner city", however because of of court-ordered
busing.)  At the end of these two period discussions I would poll the
students in more or less the same manner as Randy.  I asked them to place
themselves in three categories, roughly 1) Bad idea and I definitely
wouldn't do it; 2) It's OK for others, not for me; or 3) Good idea and I
would strongly consider it for myself.

     In general, perhaps 25-35% would be opposed (typically the more
religious students); 10-20% would be strongly in favor; and the rest in
the middle, with variations from indifference to "cool idea, but too scary
for me.  Unlike Randy, I don't get to be around for weeks to watch the
ideas percolate and see how students end up the year.  I would curious for
him to poll his students several weeks or months later and see if anyone's
attitudes have changed.  However, I have had at least two students over
the years contact me for more information and state they were more
interested now than they had been when I spoke to them.  (I assume the
LESS interested ones would have no reason to contact me.)  This is hardly
scientific data; but perhaps useful to consider.

>Are kids attracted to the idea because it makes inherent sense?  Or is it
>a great way to latch onto a revolutionary anti-establishment position?

     The simple answer is "Yes."   One of the few things I am sure about
in knowing why people become cryonicists is that almost every one has some
experience in their lives of saying, "I'm different from those around me.
I do not make my decisions based on what the majority says."  Then we all
spend a lot of time rationalizing why are decisions make great logical
sense.  Sometimes they really do.  I think cryonics is good sense.  But
since I've already made the decision, how can I tell if it is any more
logical than "choosing" whom to fall in love with?

     Most of the kids who were very positive about cryonics were obviously
the ones who already were willing to state their own opinions without
waiting to see what the mob chose.

>Are some kids for it, others against it, because it was presented by
>Randy personally or presented in the context of school?

     I'm willing to bet this had almost nothing to do with it, especially
if Randy is the kind of teacher I suspect he is, that is, one who
encourages people to make up their own minds and to disagree with him.

>Would more kids of this age be attracted to or accepting of the idea if
>it was a socially commonplace idea?  Or church-sponsored?  Or school-

     A larger percentage, perhaps yes.  But that will never be true, until
the majority of the human race is willing to stop brain-washing themselves
that "death is good" and that "death is a doorway."

>It makes intuitive sense to me that teenagers, college students,
>backpackers, sf readers, and people attending introductory classes in
>any religion, philosophy or spiritual or self-help discipline would have
>higher-than-average receptivity to cryonics; because they are all in a
>state of active world-view exploration.

     There are some other attributes, too; such as having recently
questioned that "death is good" programming, such as at the time of a
parent's death, especially an early one.

     A junior high student probably has no "world-view," except in very
rare students.  High school students are typically in their first one.
They haven't yet gone outside the community and family to have it
challenged, broken, and reformed.  It was entertaining to watch these
students struggling with me sometimes being the first person to challenge
their worldview, and perhaps because it was their *first* worldview and
built with a lot of effort, they argued for it with great tenacity.  They
don't know that a large percentage of them will go to college or move to
other cities and have that view of life shattered by knowing more about

>     People who believe they can control everything in their life, or who
>accept responsibility for their situations, should also be more
>receptive: people who are good at time-management, self-development,
>goal-setting, etc (though not necessarily those who are half-heartedly
>studying those things).

     And those are often the hardest ones to get signed up!  They are
frightened that once in cryonic suspension (and in many ways even while
they are merely members) THEY are not in control, their suspension
organization is.  These people often propose entirely new contracts,
impossible restrictions, byzantine decision-making processes, and complex
funding arrangements that protect their money a lot better than protect
their suspension.  Giving the control to other people (suspension
advocates) does not much mollify them; they want to have control
themselves and cannot.

And finally, to similar questions to Randy from Martin Olah:
           Message #5240
           Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 15:18:47 -0800
           From: "Martin R. Olah" <>
           Subject: What my 7th graders thought of cryonics last spring

>I'm curious if you noticed any physical(sex,etc.), intellectual,
>emotional, or cultural differences that may have been disproportionate in
>the various groups. This information may be useful for future educational

     I'll bet that the enthusiasts were no more than 20% female, that very
few black or Hispanic students were in favor of cryonics (primarily, I
suspect because Black and Hispanic families are several times more likely
to be traditionally religious than Caucasians), and that in general, most
of the children enthusiastic about cryonics were from comparatively
intellectual, "free-thinking" families.  That last may be hard to
determine, even for a teacher, of course.

     I'm very curious myself now to see how Randy Smith replies.  I'll bet
this discussion has given him new things to look for the next time he does
this class.

     Another question I'll direct Randy's way:  Do you use material from
several cryonics groups?  If you don't have Alcor's, just ask us.  I'm
sure the other groups would also be happy to help you "experiment on young
minds."  (grin)

Steve Bridge, Alcor

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