X-Message-Number: 9401
Date: Sat, 04 Apr 1998 10:11:18 +0300
From: "George A. Stathis" <>
Subject: Re: Cryonics: Business or Religion
References: <>

CryoNet wrote:

> Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 12:41:33 -0500 (EST)
> From: Charles Platt <>
> Subject: Cryonics: Business or Religion?
> Dave Pizer's most recent message is very thought provoking. Thanks,
> Dave--although you may not agree with the thoughts that it has provoked.
> You were replying a post of mine that suggested cryonics is severely
> underpriced as a business. Your reply suggested that wealthy cryonicists
> could donate more money.
> But wait a minute! Why should wealthy members be expected to make
> donations? If cryonics is a business, wealthy people should pay the same
> amount, for the same service, as everyone else. Therefore, I conclude,
> Dave, that even though we may delude ourselves into imagining that we are
> offering a service in exchange for money (like a business), in fact this
> is absolutely untrue.
> Look at the numbers. No cryonics organization has come remotely close to
> making a profit, in 30 years. Fewer than 1 person in 300,000 desires
> cryonics services in the United States, despite _huge_ amounts of
> publicity--exposure on TV and in magazines that other businesses would
> die for. If cryonics were a business, all cryonics organizations would
> have gone bankrupt decades ago, and no one in his right mind would start
> a cryonics business today.
> So, let us agree: cryonics is not a business. The core group of people
> who sustain cryonics services are like political activists, working for
> something they believe in.
> But--here's the problem. They act as if they are offering a professional
> service in exchange for a fee. They fool themselves, and in so doing, they
> fool everyone else. When people join cryonics organizations, they believe
> the image that is presented to them. They think of themselves as
> customers, not donors.
> I remember when I first joined Alcor, I imagined that I was completing a
> business transaction. I was astonished when I read in CRYONICS magazine
> that people were donating money to the organization.
> When CryoCare was formed, there was a lot of internal debate about
> whether it should be for-profit or nonprofit. At the time I argued that
> the debate was pointless, since there was no way we were CAPABLE of
> making a profit. At the time, I was criticized for being negative and
> insufficiently growth-oriented. But all you have to do is look at the
> numbers, to see that even if cryonics grew at five times its current
> rate, STILL it would not be profitable, at least in the near term.
> My conclusion, from this, is that we should forget about our fee
> schedules, which are hopelessly unrealistic anyway--a pure piece of
> fiction. Instead, so long as cryonics is clearly unprofitable, we should
> finance ourselves in the same way that successful charities operate. This
> means, ideally, TITHING.
> I suggested this to a couple of people in CryoCare recently. To me, it
> makes perfect sense, because it creates a pricing system that accurately
> reflects reality. But the people I spoke to recoiled in horror. "That
> would make it like a religion!" one of them exclaimed.
> Well, guess what! Cryonics IS like a religion! The only people who
> dispute this are the people who have signed up, who hate the idea that
> there could be any similarity between RATIONAL cryonics and IRRATIONAL
> religion. Well, I don't like the comparison either, but the similarities
> are unavoidable.
> Another person I spoke to complained that tithing would be like taxation.
> Exactly right! Where I live, I pay property taxes in proportion (roughly)
> with the value of my house; and the small community where the house is
> located uses the money to provide essential services. If property taxes
> were identical for every house, the taxes would have to be lowered to
> enable the poorest people to pay. At that point we would have to ask the
> richest people to make donations (which they would be unwilling to do),
> and town employees would have to work for free. The idea is ludicrous,
> but this is exactly the situation in cryonics.
> Many, or most, cryonicists are libertarians. They believe in business. I
> share this outlook myself--but we're making a big mistake if we try to
> force reality to conform with our ideological dreams. If cryonics is not
> potentially profitable, at this point in time, it cannot be run
> successfully as a business. Period!
> I note that the Libertarian Party charges extremely low membership dues,
> tries to make up the shortfall by appealing for donations, and is always
> in financial difficulties. Hm. Maybe they should try tithing, too.
> Personally, I'm sick of trying to maintain a pretense that we're offering
> a professional service that people pay for, when the money that they pay
> does not remotely cover the real costs. Merely the labor that I have
> donated over the years would come to at least $200,000 at my usual
> billable hourly rate. And I'm not one of the most active people in
> cryonics! We've received several million dollars in donated time from some
> people, so far as I can tell. Meanwhile, the wealthy cryonics members whom
> Dave mentions are benefiting from this huge donation of labor, because
> they were given the impression that cryonics is a service like any other.
> We have only ourselves to blame for this.
> If we introduced a system of tithing, whereby there would be NO fixed fees
> (other than cryopreservation minimums) and everyone would pay a percentage
> of their net income (or they could donate their labor instead if they
> wished), this would have three big advantages:
> 1. It would be honest. We wouldn't be fooling ourselves, or other people.
> 2. We would raise more money.
> 3. People would be forced to face the fact that at this stage in its
> evolution, cryonics can't support those who are not willing to be at least
> somewhat involved as participants, rather than customers.
> One last point. For years I have been hearing people say, "The Cryonics
> Institute doesn't charge enough for its services. They'll run into
> financial trouble one of these days."
> Very funny! In fact CI has become the most financially stable
> organization, with a huge war chest. How did this happen? Why, through
> bequests and donations, of course. Thus, knowingly or unknowingly, CI was
> run more like a religion, less like a business. And it has done much
> better, financially, than its business-oriented rivals.
> I doubt anyone would let me move CryoCare to a tithing model. But I
> would, if I could. I think it would solve a whole lot of problems.
> --Charles Platt

I think it's a matter of honor, and a proof of deep sincerity, that things are
as described;  Please understand the anguish, the agony, and the fear of
the unknown, that people are experiencing, on the issue of cryonics.

Ethical issues of immense complexity would arise, if Cryonics became
"strictly business". A friend of mine wrote saying she objects to Cryonics
being turned into sheer priviledge for the wealthy, excluding others who
are not so wealthy. What could I tell her?  That only the rich deserve to
be made immortal? Then... among those, would be some... high-ranking
criminals (drug dealers etc.) whose riches are a ticket to immortality
as well, while very worthwhile people but not wealthy enough would be

I am very pleased that the costs of cryonics are kept low, approachable
by people with relatively modest income. It's the best compromise in today's
society. I also pleased about the level of ethical consideration which some
cryonicists and post-humanists have reached in their thinking.

In the last couple of weeks, plenty of people involved in cryonics organisations

including some founders of these organisations, took the trouble of sending very
wise personal advice and helpful suggestions, about my problem (which my

mother's liver cancer). I am deeply greatful about this and I am left speechless
with the quality of those people's replies.

So I apologize for needing some time to think carefully before answering those
detailed and considerate letters.

Yours sincerily
George Stathis

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