X-Message-Number: 839
Subject: Please post
Date: Thu, 21 May 92 01:51:48 PDT


Thanks for the comments about the hazards of slick literature.  This is a 
topic that I'd like to jump on and discuss right away, since within the 
next two to three months I'll be sending the Alcor handbook (*Cryonics: 
Reaching For Tomorrow*) in for another printing.  

I also would like to see CRFT revised, but oddly I've been leaning in the 
opposite direction:  toward more human-interest stuff, rather than harder 
science.  The problem as I see it is this:  we, the "hard-core" 
cryonicists/futurists, no longer need to be serenaded with pretty pictures 
of the future.  We believe it's worth reaching for, and we believe that 
cryonics may be the only available route.  Hence, the mamby-pamby Brave 
New handbook seems a little comic-bookish, and not centered as firmly as 
we'd like it to be on the important issues:  nanotechnology, 
cryoprotectant methods and types, cell repair, identity issues, etc.  

But for somebody not already convinced, and especially for somebody not 
acquainted with the relevant technologies and the philosophical stance 
that makes them seem desirable, a "cold" discussion of freezing techniques 
and cell damage analysis can be extremely off-putting.  For example, if 
you were considering a "nose job" (to use a scenario I heard from Linda 
Chamberlain), and you went to a plastic surgeon for information, you might 
be taken aback if he began his conversation with you by pulling out a 
stack of 82 x 11 color glossies depicting a drawn-and-quartered nose and 
the various techniques for breaking and resetting, suturing, etc.  (Then 
again you might not; we are an unusual bunch. . . .)  Rather, you'd expect 
him to show you pictures of some of his finished products, examples of the 
sort of nose you could have if you opted for the procedure.  

Many--perhaps most--of the people who request information about cryonics 
are *not* convinced that nanotechnology is inevitable, are *not* convinced 
that life-extension/immortalism is desirable, and are *not* convinced that 
the future looks bright.  The fact is, most of the general public 
(warning:  subjective opinions at work) has bought into the party lines 
that technology is the antithesis of ecology, that self-transformation 
through any but the most passive means is the height of hubris, even 
blasphemous, that attempting to transcend the (already-evolving) cycle of 
birth-education-marriage-Calvinism-retirement-death is foolish and even 

There are *extremely few* people who reject cryonics because they've 
examined the issues and the arguments presented in our literature, and 
then persist in believing that it's untenable for scientific reasons.  The 
scientific arguments presented in CRFT are (I believe) cleverly conceived 
and tautly written.  And actually, I would venture to say that every 
fundamental scientific point appearing in CRFT pops up a minimum of three 
times in the text.  Unfortunately, most people simply latch onto 
scientific objections that they don't really believe/understand to avoid 
contemplating their own mortality.  As an example of this, I debated the 
desirability of cryonics with someone very close to me for several months.  
He is very intelligent and scientifically oriented.  His objections were 
purely scientific and he clung to them well into and even slightly after
his reading of *Engines of Creation*.  One evening, after a lengthy nano-
debate through which he slowly and inexorably painted himself into a 
corner, he breathed a sigh of defeat and confided in me that yes, cryonics 
might work and yes, my views of the sort of future we'd likely wake up in 
seemed reasonable.  Unfortunately, he did not like living very much, and 
actually found some respite in the notion of eternal rest.  

Eternal rest?

I asked him why he continued to get up each morning and go to work.  He 
replied with something to the effect that life was worth living for now, 
but not particularly worth *pursuing*.  

A month later he had a coronary bypass operation, and then proceeded to 
engage in a lengthy rehabilitation/health program.  The moral?  He likes 
living.  He *loves* living.  But love of life walks hand-in-hand with fear 
of death, and the concept of Death is more than most people can handle.  
It gets locked up tight in the subconscious, in the D file, studded with 
access shunts and Do Not Disturb's.  Cryonics requires people to access 
the D file, to stare into the face of their own mortality.  If you can't 
do that, you can never understand the determination and fire it takes for 
someone to buy a cryonics life insurance policy, pay cryonics membership 
dues, where a cryonics bracelet, assist in the neuro-isolation of a loved 
one, go to jail to protect the temperature of someone you never knew.

So our literature is not just an introduction to cryopreservation 
techniques, or cell repair scenarios, or identity issues.  It's an attempt 
to remind people that *life is good*, and that *more life is better*.  
It's an attempt to convince people to stand up and defend their lives, 
which they'd been told since birth was not theirs to keep, was but a 
fleeting, gracious gift.  It's an attempt to give people the keys--and the 
*courage*--to access their D file, and change its meaning from "Dead" to 

When I did a style/grammar overhaul of CRFT last year, I couldn't help but 
notice that there are less than five pages of text (out of about 100) 
directly addressing what reanimation and life in the future are likely to 
be like.  I'd like to see that increase to 30 or 40.  

I look forward to your response, as well as the input of anyone else 
having an opinion about this.

Ralph Whelan
Editor, *Cryonics*

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