X-Message-Number: 9463
From: Ettinger <>
Date: Sun, 12 Apr 1998 12:18:48 EDT
Subject: Darwin--Preliminary



Mike Darwin's posts appearing on Cryonet April 12 require considerable
commentary, but at this moment I'll just get a couple of side issues out of
the way.

1. I had said that some of us have problems with infliction of suffering on
dogs and other animals, and that CI does not experiment on live animals. We
have used sheep heads obtained from slaughterhouses and rabbits euthanized
under the supervision of a veterinarian, and this work is not done on our

Mike asks, who are "some of us" and how do we justify eating beef and chicken
etc., and he says his work is as humane as it can be made.

"Some of us" include myself and the rest of the CI staff and many members and
prospective members.  

As to eating beef and chicken, that is not "hypocrisy." I recognize that, by
eating chicken e.g., I contribute to the raising of battery chickens in
miserable conditions. The amount to which I contribute to that practice is
highly debatable, but I don't deny the contribution may exist. The IMPORTANT
point here is that my failure to be perfect, or perfectly consistent, does not
invalidate the other question.

Mike says his dogs are carefully anaesthetized, which I never doubted. But he
and others close to him have often spoken e.g. of weeks of intensive care
required for dogs that are recuperating or trying to recuperate. (Some of them
die.) That is infliction of suffering, like it or not. ("Torturing" dogs is
Mike's word, not mine; "torture" usually implies an active intent to cause
pain.) It is disingenuous to point only to the original surgery under
anaesthesia; that is only part of it. As I said originally, it is a gray area,
but the concern is not vacuous nor hypocritical.

2. The last portion of Mike's second post (April 12) is rather revealing, and
consistent with impressions reported by Ben Best in CANADIAN CRYONICS NEWS
around a year ago--that Mike is very pessimistic and close to totally turned
off cryonics. Mike says, "Because of the lack of meaningful feedback ALL of
cryonics is mostly religion."   "Further, my own grave doubts about cryonics
make it untenable for me to continue operating a business with the primary
goal of freezing corpses."

Well, he isn't alone. Most physicians and scientists, including
cryobiologists, feel the same way. I think they are wrong, and almost everyone
in cryonics thinks they are wrong, obviously, for well known reasons, some of
which were reiterated by Ralph Merkle in a post April 12. I will reiterate
some more in days to come, and from time to time on our web site and

Some newcomers may say to themselves, "If this old cryonics hand is
disenchanted with cryonics, why should I bother?" The answer, as usual, is
that the answers are easy at some levels and difficult at others. It is easy
to say, "In a cryostat you have a better chance than in the grave." It is not
as easy to find answers to such questions as, "Just how good is the chance and
what is it worth to me in money and effort, and which organization will
provide my best affordable chance?" My own view is optimistic, based on
SPECIFIC reasoning spelled out e.g. in our web pages.    

3. Mike dutifully included some hedges on his opinions of CI results, but then
he and Platt ignored those. The microgram results undoubtedly included some
spurious damage, artifacts of the methods of study and procedures AFTER
freezing and cool-down. In time to come I will get back to some specifics
here, and also reminders of some of the optimistic reports in the literature.

And again a little perspective: Nobody is static or complacent; everyone will
improve. There are many options, and more to come, including choice of one
organization for preparation and another for storage. Future options will be
more diverse and some of them will be much more expensive. If you want to
maximize your chances, you cannot be just a "customer" but also need to get
involved, do some of the work, and help make some of the choices. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

More to come.

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