X-Message-Number: 8381
Date:  Wed, 16 Jul 97 09:52:31 
From: Fred Chamberlain <>
Subject: Marty Nemko's "Nagging Questions"

From Fred Chamberlain, Alcor CEO/President

>Message #8369
>Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 19:35:18 -0700
>From: Marty Nemko <>
>Subject: Nagging questions

In the above posting, Marty Nemko explores a wide range of possible
obstacles to "cryonics working".  The discussion is well worked out
and thoughtful.  Taken one element at a time, it might seem as if the
whole pursuit of cryonics could be hopeless.

*** Context of Advancing Science and Technology ***

But this is in the context of considering cryonics as an isolated
effort in the midst of an otherwise non-evolving culture.

Each one of us has his own opinion about the future of science and
technology, but I think that in the next 50-100 years, even if the
cryonics movement as it exists today does not survive:

(1)  Aging will be conquered.

(2)  Suspended animation will be perfected.

(3)  Brain repair techniques will advance (see below).

(4)  Means of tissue repair and replacement will be developed to
permit the recovery of people who (other than for brain damage) would
today be considered totally lost (nothing left but the DNA).

*** Brain Repair Scenarios ***

Brain repair, (again) completely apart from our needs for it in
cryonics, should reach the place where replacement of a damaged
portion of brain tissue would be no more difficult than an organ
transplant is today.  Yes, there will be information loss, and if
portions of the brain are damaged where memory resides, there will be
losses of identity.  Still, ways of coping with such losses are almost
certain to develop.

If someone decades from now has an accident which today is
considered fatal, in terms of brain damage, I think that whatever
portions of the brain are damaged will be either repaired or replaced.
 The alternative would be to "discard" the patient, but if the patient
can be put back into the mainstream of life, I am convinced that
medical science will find a way to do it.

What if, with continued practice of this kind, cases arise where
brain damage is so extensive that "whole brain replacement" is
required?  What is unthinkable today will often be commonplace
tomorrow. In that context, the recovery of people we might think of as
hopeless today (in a cryonics context), may be considered readily
recoverable by the standards of the world a century from now.

*** Foreseeing the Future ***

All of this is purely speculative, of course.  We do not know how the
future will unfold for sure, not even the next 24 hours!  All we can
know is that at some point, we *may* encounter a situation where
either (1) some attempt will be made to save us by way of cryonics, or
(2) we will be treated as "ordinary human remains".

If such a situation arises, it will likely be a very black or white
affair. It is unlikely that one will cross over from being a
non-cryonicist to a cryonicist, at such a time. For example,
organizational liabilities prohibit Alcor from rushing to the rescue
of non-members. Similar cautions are observed by most other cryonics
groups.  Our first loyalties must be to those who are already signed
up, and to those who are already frozen.

Those who have not made arrangements in advance, by lack of action,
have effectively made a choice, for the time being, "not to be
frozen".  It is a choice which can be changed, but that takes time.

Each of us, in considering the choice to make arrangements or not,
must ask ourselves the questions Marty Nemko has asked himself, about
the chances that cryonics "will work".  We must also ask ourselves if
we will be content with a decision *not* to be frozen, if we find
ourselves on the brink of dying and know that nothing we might wish to
do can change the course of events.

At such a moment, any of us should be able to say either:

"I'm a goner, but the chances were too slim to be worthwhile!"


"I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm glad I tried!" 

Either way, in our last moments, we should be able to be satisfied
with our decisions, with the road we have chosen for ourselves.

There are words I know I'd say to myself if I knew I was about to die,
and would not be frozen for lack of having taken the trouble to make
arrangements. Those words would be:  "Dammit!  I didn't even try!" 
Different people will have different words, at a time like that.  You
have to be happy with your choice.

We should all be happy that, at least, we live in an age where such a
choice is possible, technically, and permitted, legally.  It could be
a lot worse.  There's a lot to be thankful for!
Fred Chamberlain, CEO/President ()
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
7895 E. Acoma Dr., Suite 110, Scottsdale AZ 85260-6916
Phone (602) 922-9013  (800) 367-2228   FAX (602) 922-9027
 for general requests

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