X-Message-Number: 9258
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: Re: CryoNet #9246 - #9250
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 21:30:22 -0800 (PST)

Hi everyone!

Well, I seem to have gotten into some arguments here.

For Bob:
As I recall, I said that value judgements should not be characterized as
"correct" or "incorrect". I did not mention "right" or "wrong"; among other
issues with those two words, they are ambiguous: they can validly refer
to values or to true statements about the world. 

As for genetic grounds (such as a drive to survive, at least short-term) I
was not bringing them into my discussion because they were not relevant. 
Certainly many people have at least some, perhaps inchoate, drive to 
continue living. And yes, anyone with such a drive I would say sets a value
on life. I myself have a drive to keep on living. But it is a VALUE and
not a belief about how the world works. When I look at other people, 
and notice that they too have this value, then I am making a judgement about
how the world works. But we do not get our values by majority vote, we
get them from our past experience and our original, genetic constitution.
If I find someone who lacks that value of survival, for whatever reason,
then I simply can't use any LOGICAL arguments to give it to him. 

This does not mean that I cannot do other things to get someone to value
living, just that those other things are not logical arguments. And if 
we really want to hit the target, logical arguments won't fly. To get
someone to stop smoking, you might show him all his older friends who
have aged more rapidly and gotten various diseases related to their smoking.
Most people will have some response to this, others will not: some people
smoke regardless: "better," they say, "a short and happy life than one
spent in self-denial", or whatnot. And if they say that, you can respond
too. BUT none of these arguments is a logical argument, even though you
are using facts. You are using facts to try to get the other person to
change his values, and though this often works, he remains logically free
to ignore what you say.   

As for my usage violating common sense, that's irrelevant. I believe there
is an important distinction here, and it becomes more and more important
the farther away someone is from you in experience and genetics. When 
everyone is agreed about "right" and "wrong", it's easy to forget this
distinction --- but when they are not, just how to get some one else to
see things your way with values similar to yours, even on points such as
the desire to live, becomes an important question worth some thought. Both
of us are cryonicists, and we've run into this problem many many times, you
probably more than I. I've met people who freely admit that medicine now
is far poorer than it will someday become, and that if frozen they might
indeed have a chance at much longer life --- but blandly tell me that 
anything which happens a century from now does not matter to them! Our
"common sense" clearly is not theirs. And if we really wish to turn such
people into cryonics, we have to think a good deal about just what to say
to them. 

Yes, I have two copies, one I bought and the other sent to me by Jim himself.
And yes, he is accurate in his portrayal of cryonics. And finally, I'm glad
that it's caught a chord in the public, as opposed to all the science 
fiction out there which portrays cryonics as clearly and simply hopeless.
And if Jim makes money on it, all the better for him.

But strange to say, it did not feel any better than THE TRUTH MACHINE.
Yes, it's nice to hear of good things in the future, but everything seemed
to happen much too easily, more and more as the time between now and 
the time of the scenes in the book took place. As a simple issue, I would
have expected (from my own experience of people) that the clone of the
protagonist's wife would not have simply accepted her fate. I for one do
not expect to revive to a future in which everything almost automatically
works out for me. Don't think I'm objecting to cloning or any of the
technology -- I just think life will continue to be much more complex and 
harder than that. I had similar feelings about THE TRUTH MACHINE: the 
problem with a perfect lie detector, even if it can detect lies perfectly,
comes from the lies it will not detect because those who say them believe 
them. (And any machine which could detect THAT kind of untruth would solve 
all our scientific problems for us!). Not only that, but the simple existence
of such machines would cause many people to believe their lies. A very
interesting outcome, worth a serious novel, but not the simple one of 
the novel Jim wrote.

When will the really great cryonics novel be written? I don't know. Cryonics
raises lots of issues, and solves some problems by replacing them with 
others. Those other problems I have very happily chosen in preference, but 
I do not believe that we won't have problems: interpersonal, interhuman and
computer, problems with the universe itself. Immortality will cast its own
changes on the problems people face now, and THOSE problems won't survive.
And here is an analogy from history: in the early part of the 19th Century,

democracy (in the sense that all adult white males had the vote) came to the US.
And one of the campaign promises was "a full dinner pail" ie. everyone would
get enough to eat. Well, I haven't heard politicians making that promise
at all recently (though even in the US some very small pockets of starvation
continue). They make other promises, to solve quite other problems.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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