X-Message-Number: 835
Date: 20 May 92 02:42:52 EDT
From: Brian Wowk <>
Subject: "Dirty linen"

Bob Smart: 
> Much as I'd hate to say this in a public forum like sci.med, I have to 
> admit one of the criticisms I've seen there recently has more merit than 
> I'd like.  Specifically, someone indicated that the Alcor introductory 
> materials seemed pretty "slick," and I think the actual description was 
> something akin to "just a lawyer's whisker short of misleading." 
> Now, personally, I think that's too strong.  But I also think that some of 
> the Alcor introductory materials ARE a bit too breathless and upbeat, and 
        I presume the introductory materials in question are those contained  
in the book Cryonics: Reaching For Tomorrow, which I coauthored with Mike  
Darwin four years ago (and which has since had additional major contributions  
from Steve Harris, Ralph Whelan, and Greg Fahy). 
        Time has provided me with a lot of perspective on this work, and I  
can agree with some of Bob's comments.  A lot of the "breathless" enthusiasm  
of the book is the breathless enthusiasm of a youngster who had just  

discovered cryonics (me), and was just jumping up and down to tell the world.
 This is clear now in retrospect, and is perhaps most evident in the  
 Questions and Answers section of the book.  This is the one section I would  
 most like to re-work.  Since this book tends to undergo major revisions  
 every two years or so, this will likely happen in the not-too-distant  
        Having said the above, I still do feel confortable with the general  
tone and approach of the book.  It is impossible to appeal to everybody with  
something like this; a target audience and objective have to be chosen at the  
outset.  The audience to which I directed my writing was the open-minded,  
educated, and somewhat technophilic layperson (not medical professional) who  
is INTERESTED in the future.  (There is no shortage of such people.)  The  
objective of the writing was to get them to join Alcor. 
        Achievement of this objective requires writing that is factual,  
persuasive, engaging, and INSPIRATIONAL.  A bland account of technical  
details might satisfy a scientific critic of cryonics (depending on his  
honesty), but it wouldn't get many people to follow through with further  
involvement.  The latter requires explicit statements about the importance  
and excitement of cryonics and what it will mean to the future of medicine  
and humanity. 
     I am sorry that the doctors in sci.med were put off by the book, but  
these particular individuals were likely to be put off by anything outside  
their own puny worldview.  If these guys took the time to browse beyond the  
first dozen pages, they would have seen Greg Fahy's technical appendices on  
cryobiological and cell repair issues, which are as "sober and technical" as  
any science writing anywhere.  Indeed, it is for this very reason that the  
appendices were made an integral part of the book, rather than offered  
                                                 --- Brian Wowk    

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