X-Message-Number: 6084
Date:  Wed, 17 Apr 96 12:34:37 
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: immortality through technology

Brian Wowk in #6076 writes
>Seriously, NEVER, ever suggest that the dead might be raised
>by future technology.  NEVER, ever characterize cryonics as the
>freezing of dead people.  It is the freezing of *terminally ill*
>people for possible future recovery.
>In the same vein, NEVER ever talk about immortality through
>technology.  Again, immortality is the province of God not man.
>Cryonics at best is a way to overcome terminal illness, not a
>path to immortality!

No doubt this is sound advice for presenting cryonics to strong 
believers in the position that "immortality is the province of God 
not man" (and there are many such people). Such people do not,
as a rule, make good prospects for cryonics, but not alienating them
could be of value for numerous reasons, e.g. so they will cooperate
in a suspension they are in a position to influence. (And they
might be persuaded to sign up after all.)

There are others however, who view technology as the best prospect
we have for immortality and might be offended at the 
suggestion that cryonics is "not a path to immortality." This would 
certainly be my reaction, and if I try to imagine my state of mind 
before I knew much about cryonics and had not yet signed up, I don't 
think there'd be much difference. Such a pro-technology stance is a
minority view, certainly, but people who hold it are relatively important
because they are more likely to be attracted and contribute to 
cryonics. Incidentally, I remember a few years ago watching 
a TV program on cryonics and feeling offended that one of the 
advocates made the point that cryonics could not be a path to immortality, 
that death would come eventually, however long deferred, as if this 
could be taken as a certainty, which is by no means the case. For 
some of us, myself included, the working hypothesis (rather than 
"dogmatic belief," but on a visceral level it is not much different) 
that immortality is attainable through reason, science and technology 
is just as important as the theist's belief in a God.

One's approach should be tailored to one's audience; however, all such
approaches should be mutually consistent and non-contradictory.
This calls for differing emphases on different things with different people,
which can be done without self-contradiction or compromise. (To the
hardbitten theist, then, don't say, cryonics *is* a path to 
immortality--to the atheist-immortalist sympathizer, don't insist 
that it *isn't*.) Also one should be careful to distinguish a personal position
from others' opinions and from an official position of an organization one
may be representing.

Mike Perry,  

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