X-Message-Number: 8716
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: re.latest.cryonet
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 01:10:56 -0800 (PST)

Hi again!

1. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely that simply transplanting heads will do
very much to prolong lives. The problem is that our head contains many glands
and other parts which deal with the level of various hormones in our whole
body. If the head becomes old, then it will force the rest of the body to be
old also. This means that the number of people who might benefit from a 
head transplant will be small, to begin with --- regardless of any ethical
issues. (An example: melatonin is produced by a gland in our head. Melatonin
given longterm also has an effect on lifespan. However if the gland producing
melatonin is switched from an young animal to an old one, and the reverse,
then the old one shows some signs of rejuvenation while the young one shows
signs of aging more rapidly. This is only an example).

There is some basis for believing that we will be able to repair cut 
spinal cords, the other part of this problem. There's a lot of work on it
going on right now, and optimism, too. A head transplant may ultimately
help in some special cases, but in no way will give us the lifespans we
seek. In those special cases, I see no ethical problem --- but we should not
think that head transplants will turn out to be of much GENERAL help. 

One final point: White is an American doctor. He did a very similar experiment
with dogs several decades ago. Despite the fact that all the newspapers were
dutifully shocked, this news is only marginally new. 

2. I am glad that Steve Jackson has raised the issue of just how sales of Alcor
membership have been attempted by some members. I will be frank about my
feelings at the last Alcor Conference: I had a sense that Mr. Cloud was far
too much on the slick side. Not only that, but I look forward to his figures
of increased membership, since he promised that he could double membership 
in a year. The membership figures printed in THE PHOENIX do not seem to have

I'm sure that many will disagree, but cryonics of all things cannot be sold
(not just should not but CANnot) like many other goods. It requires a sense
of trust which takes some time to develop. In one way I think this is good,
since those who become members become very firm in their trust and beliefs.
But it remains one thing that slows down recruitment. Mr Cloud comes from
a libertarian milieu, where libertarian thought and activity have now gone
one for more than 100 years. Perhaps after cryonics has lasted for 100 years
his methods may prove more successful. Or perhaps cryonics itself will so
much change our society that such methods fail in all cases. 

To be kind, all of us would like more rapid acceptance of our ideas, and
grasp at whatever might help that. And if some activity would genuinely 
increase our acceptance, that would be great. However I doubt that anything
such as salesmanship or wearing the proper color of clothes or saying the
correct mantras will really help at all. Whatever we do must work on the
reasons why people remain wary of cryonics. I doubt that lack of salesmanship
is one such reason. (I personally believe that scientific research will
help recruitment a lot, even if it goes much more slowly than we hope ---
but that's a personal belief not directly relevant to what I say here).
And I understand that Michael Cloud has also joined Alcor, himself. I did not
find him personally likeable when I met him, but that is irrelevant. He is
one more member, and no one deserves death, ever. He may even come to 
understand cryonics better through his own experiences.

			Long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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