e-mail: Internet email@example.com
Volume 9 no 53. First published December 1995. ISSN 0964-5659.
The Puzzle of the Non-Signups Dr Mike Perry
Attitude Change and Terror Management Dr David S. Stodolsky
Obsession Chrissie Loveday
CRYONICS: MLM Heaven? Dr Steve Harris, MD
The Re-creationists Brian W. Haines
Longevity Hypertext Dennis Fink
Future Health Dr Clifford A. Pickover
Novel Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis Douglas Skrecky
The New Vitamin C Yvan Bozzonetti
Echinacea Yvan Bozzonetti
Cryostasis Delays R.C.W. Ettinger
Unconscious Deathism Frederick Mann
Immortalist Philosophy Don Ashley
Why not a Straight Freeze Steve Bridge
Prospects of Revival Brian Wowk
The Medical Self-Care Certificate Bob Chapel, MSW, RN
The state of medicine Mike Darwin
On Prices and Pricing John Javilk
A Guide to Anti-Ageing Drugs Book review Douglas Skrecky
The Puzzle of the Non-Signups
by Dr Mike Perry (Society for Venturism)
One of the things that has always surprised me in cryonics is just how sensible this whole thing is, when you consider the alternatives and every possible side issue, and yet, how incredibly few people are actually signed up for cryonic suspension. In particular, intelligent, science-oriented types who seem to enjoy the things that would make cryonics meaningful (including continued existence!) and are not strong believers in the supernatural, ought to make good prospects for cryonics. Yet, for the most part, they don't seem interested. Hans Moravec is a case in point.
Moravec is a well-known computer scientist who has championed the possibility of uploading the personality into a computational device of the future, thus allowing continued survival as well as some nice side benefits such as augmentation of intelligence. Moravec seems quite interested in such applications of future technology as this use of computers. So it might seem that he would also be interested in continued survival in the first place. Yet he has not indicated any personal interest in cryonics, which we in the field see as the best approach to take at present, given that uploading is still a dream of the future. Charles Platt has made contact with Moravec and obtained a response that I believe offers valuable insight into why Moravec and other intelligent people are indifferent to the possibilities cryonics offers - which include becoming more than human with greatly extended lifespan, etc. Platt also doubts that Moravec has much interest in debating cryonics (and non-cryonicists, in my experience, are never much interested in this). So, in this commentary I'm not clamouring to "debate" issues with Moravec or any other person not interested in cryonics, though I will contest some of the points he raises. But I am trying to arrive at a better understanding of why people don't sign up, and also to find better ways of meeting the objections to cryonics that are raised, for those "on the fence" who might be persuaded to our way of thinking.
Let's go then, to what Moravec says. "The main reason I'm indifferent to cryonics or uploading is that I truly expect to be utterly obsolete within a half century, even with intelligence augmentation." It seems then that Moravec is not merely forgoing cryonics because he thinks uploading is "better." He is apparently not interested in survival at all (beyond present biological limits) because he expects to be "utterly obsolete" in the world of the future, "even with intelligence augmentation." He next likens his continued survival to "upgrading an old clunker" when "an entirely new model" is what is called for. Presumably then, the recollection of past experiences, etc. that would differentiate the "old model" from the "new" would irremediably antiquate and impair the old, justifying eliminating it and substituting something "better." I think the suggested analogy of a person with a piece of machinery (e.g. an auto) has been pushed much too far.
By a kind of circular argument we could say that a Model T would always remain a Model T, no matter how much you might repair it and shine it up--otherwise, you have "exceeded the allowable range of transformations" and your upgrade is really a "new model." On the other hand we know in principle we could transform a Model T into any other type of car (or airplane, computer or washing machine for that matter) by following the appropriate steps, and the change could be made gradual. The question can then be raised, when do we have an "entirely new model" or just an "upgrade?" With unthinking machinery the question does not seem particularly meaningful or important. For one thing we don't have much to go on to distinguish clearly between an upgrade and a new model. But with people the situation is different. The difference is that upgrades will (or should) still retain information of a past life. I fail to see how that would necessarily make them "old clunkers" however. In other respects they could be fully "modernized" whatever that might involve (and it might be much more than "mere" intelligence augmentation, depending on what you want to include in your definition of that). In fact it might be argued that having the older experiences would confer some real advantages.
In any case the fear of being "obsolete" seems to boil down to a feeling that being able to remember an earlier and more primitive time and self must add up to a state of dissatisfaction or unhappiness, no matter what course of later development one might take. (And of course we are assuming a future in which one never grows "old" as we understand the term today.) To me this "necessary unhappiness" hypothesis seems more than a little absurd, and I think most people in cryonics would agree. I eagerly look forward, both to constructive developments in the world at large, and to personal upgrades of many varieties, that would still preserve a knowledge of the past. I see both as making life more meaningful and enjoyable overall, not less.
Another point Moravec makes is that, with a many-worlds cosmology, resurrections of the dead would apparently be inevitable. By now many other people have noted this too. To me it's wonderful! Happily, many worlds seems sounder than rival theories - it might really be true! If so, it means even those who were not frozen will come back someday. If this is to happen, I think there are still sound philosophical reasons why one should choose cryonics. I am trying to put these into more cogent form in a book I am now writing. Anyway, Moravec says "I don't particularly care about being resurrected ..." - too bad. It would seem then, that a future resurrector would not want to recreate Moravec directly, but in a more advanced form, a "continuer" that would see the value of continuing, developing survival, something Moravec now seems utterly blind to.
And so blinded apparently are all the others who in other ways seem like good prospects for cryonics. Such a pity that these instead, barring an ageing breakthrough, are doomed, like so many before them, to destruction (even if they may get resurrected again someday, in some appropriate form). In a few decades hopefully mortality will abolished, and those then living will develop into more-than-humans. We in cryonics hope to be among their number. People at large, however, seem beyond our rescue attempt because they will not accept it. Apparently they have too frail a sense of self-worth, and the frailty is so deeply ingrained that attempts to affect it by persuasion usually fail.
Such people by contrast often see cryonicists as overly hubristic and selfish, valuing themselves and their continued survival "far too much." And it's true that cryonicists generally value their survival more than others do theirs - and some cryonicists have been downright egotistical - but it's not true that we value only our own survival. Most of us, I am sure, feel that others ought to survive too - assuming they want to survive. This I see as a very wholesome attitude. I would go so far as to say that not to value individual survival, including but not limited to one's own, is to demean life in general. To choose cryonics is an act intended to benefit the chooser, of course. But it can also be an affirmation of the high value placed on a person's life in general, and an exhortation to others to value life more highly, even to the point that they too become cryonicists. Taken rightly, then, cryonics becomes the correct moral choice.
Editorial acknowledgement: Special thanks to Mike Perry for obtaining, on our behalf, permission from Hans Moravec to print his remarks in this article. All Longevity Report articles obtained from the Internet are reprinted with permission of the author.
Attitude Change and Terror Management
by David S. Stodolsky (Euromath Center, University of Copenhagen)
Why don't all rational and intelligent people support cryonics? Most of the discussion has centred around the logic of cryonics. However, the solution may lie elsewhere, in the psychodynamics of terror management. That is, if peoples' attitudes are to change, there must be an emotive element involved.
Greenberg, et al. (1995, p. 431) state:
"This research suggests that the immediate conscious concern following mortality salience is to suppress further death-related thoughts. Once such thoughts have been effectively removed from current focal attention, they become more accessible and worldview defence is intensified. These findings thus provide further evidence consistent with the idea that terror management processes occur outside of conscious awareness."
This suggests that no amount of logical argument can change attitudes toward death. Once mortality becomes salient, death related thoughts are suppressed. When the unpleasant emotions associated with thoughts of one's own vulnerability have passed, one's adherence to the dominant worldview and one's place within it can be strengthened by unconscious processes.
It seems necessary to bring emotions in direct contact with the unpleasant thoughts. That is, persons must face the terror of their own death, and accept their mortality, while having these negative emotions. The research suggests the level of fear can be reduced by reinforcing the person's worldview and by increasing their self-esteem, that is, their living up to the standards of value that are part of that worldview.
Unfortunately, many persons' worldview is based upon a religious system which posits survival of an immortal soul. Strengthening his worldview could well contradict a change toward acceptance of cryonics. This is logical, but it may not in fact be the case. Religious beliefs of this type have not obstructed participation in cryonic suspension for some persons.
Alternatively, there has been a lack of success in attracting 'humanists' to cryonics. This could be because many of these people have accepted their place in the world and their mortality. With such persons, it might be necessary to weaken their worldview and self-esteem, before adequate fear could be generated to induced an attitude change.
Terror management theory may be able to explain why charismatic leaders of groups such as Eternal Flame can attract followers to totally ridiculous belief systems. They bring fear of death into contact with a new worldview that manages that fear.
Terror management theory has only had about ten years of development. It could be a foundation for a series of well controlled experiments to test some of the above ideas. Such experiments would be complicated, both from an experimental and ethical standpoint. Therefore, only qualified persons should be entrusted with them. The cryonics movement should support further work in this area. Its applicability to promoting cryonics is clear.
by Chrissie Loveday
To be preoccupied with... thoughts dominated by... or perhaps you are merely thinking of the perfume given the name. Many of us have some sort of obsession, often temporary or lasting for a part of our lives. It can have a profound effect on our lives, however temporary!
We all go through a time in our lives where something is all-consuming. For many young people, it can be a pop group, a person, real or hero-worshipped. Their lives can revolve around the records, posters, appearances on television and radio and to miss a live concert for any reason can herald the major crisis in a life. Parents rarely understand (or remember) how important the hero can be to the life they are trying to control. The more grown-up version of this, is when someone falls in love (again, temporarily or permanently) and can think of nothing and no-one else. When the desired person is not available, it can become a great problem to those concerned as well as those on the periphery and can if uncontrolled, completely destroy people's lives.
As we grow older, the obsession (which no-one actually admits, is an obsession) may change. We give it our own form of credibility, perhaps to excuse the amount of time we spend pursuing the interest. It may be golf, sailing, writing, reading ... anyone of a dozen things, but it can become our own personal obsession to pursue our interest. Lack of time can cause frustration and become stressful and even cause major problems within relationships. The husband who wants to spend all his leisure time playing golf, breeds a growing resentment in his wife and family who do not, perhaps share the interest. Returning from the round of golf (or whatever), he wants to talk about the game and his successes. When a new baby comes to a family, mothers may often be obsessed with doing the right thing and detail every tiny incident in her day. Many new fathers can become wearied of the obsession that has overtaken them and long for the wife he married, before she became totally baby-orientated.
There are even many compulsive obsession disorders, sometimes treatable conditions where a person is totally obsessed with cleanliness, tidiness or many other similar situations, which become impossible to live with. Obviously this is more serious and professional help is necessary. The obsessions that totally control lives (various religions??) have to be dealt with carefully!
I sometimes become worried that people spend so much time planning and anticipating various events that they are missing out on life. The coming Christmas festivities for one ... how many people wear themselves out, preparing for the Big Day, only to find the horrible anti-climax of a day spent feeling ill, or somehow cheated of the intense feelings of pleasure and satisfaction they were anticipating. Broken toys, disappointment at the presents received, feeling too full and uncomfortable or plain, boredom and loss are common symptoms!
What then of cryonic suspension? People have asked me why and how it is all planned. Apart from the practical details, the actual mechanics of the suspension, the possibilities of success and my attitude to it, there is little more to say. I don't want to spend my life talking about it and I hope sincerely it isn't the most interesting thing about me. I have sometimes thought that people think so much about their possible return in the future, that they are somehow failing to enjoy the life they have. Perhaps cryonicists are still so rare that when two or more get together, the topic of conversation is inevitable. The what ifs.. but supposes... and all the rest, can best be talked through with a fellow believer, but I don't want to talk exclusively about the subject, even to them! It still seems to me that precious time is being wasted in really getting to know the person, who has to be something more than just a cryonicist. Would I really want to come back if all the people I should meet, would only want to talk about one thing? I intend to make the very most possible of this life, however much is left and hopefully, what I haven't managed to fit in will be my first priority in the next session. If it doesn't work, I shall know nothing about it and anything I didn't finish will just get left!
Obsessions? Who needs them!
CRYONICS: MLM Heaven?
by Steve Harris, MD
I want to point out why multi-level-marketing (MLM) schemes are the last refuge of the tough-sell product, as well as the scoundrel. The problem is that an MLM can make money for somebody, even without any viable product, just like a chain letter or Ponzi scheme can. Thus, many a product which nobody can really sell well directly has been MLM'ed to make money for somebody who at least has been able to convince a certain number of people that it ought to sell in a rational world. Heh.
An example near and dear to my heart is libertarianism. Libertarianism is an attractive philosophy in many ways because it offers "freedom." But there is one little problem with it which results in a non-libertarian society: your neighbours aren't really libertarians when it comes to you, only when it comes to themselves. They don't really trust you with freedom. Also, even when it comes to themselves, while they love freedom, they would like to have it without any responsibility, and they will take responsibility, if at all, only to the point that they hurt themselves, after which they will scream "mommmmmy," and want to take back any agreement they made as regards risk. Moreover, when on juries, they will award money to people who scream "mommmmy!" after taking dumb risks. This results in freedom being lost very quickly, because of the golden rule of democracy: People with the gold are going to make sure that as many "protective" rules as are necessary will be made, in order to prevent wealth from being taken from them in this fashion by plaintiffs and juries.
Now all of this means that "libertarianism" as a practice is very hard to sell to anyone with an IQ less than about 120 (i.e., most people), but this hasn't stopped libertarians from trying to make a buck from this idea, anyway. Some of them publish libertarian books, which are bought and read by libertarians (and almost nobody else). One libertarian I know is not the libertarian presidential candidate, but for a certain amount of money he will sell you a kit of tapes and ideas which are a sure fire way to convince all your friends and neighbours to be libertarians. Just send $59.95 or whatever to Mental Libertarian Judo, Inc, or whatever the company name is. It reminds me of those places where you can send $29.95 to learn the secret of how to make money :-).
MLM is a sure clue to the fact that things are not going well in the direct sales business. Have you ever seen an MLM for socks or Pepsi, for example?1 I was recently told by a woman who owns a dozen-year-old vitamin company that she knows of a great many people who made squintillions in many fields of marketing, and then lost their shirts when they entered the field of prevention. I'm not surprised. Products which people need now (beer or cigarettes or diapers or toothpaste-- 7-11 stuff) sell well, and are easy to market. Stuff that requires "look ahead time" is a much tougher sell, and that's why the MLMs. Even most "nutritional" stuff like vitamins sells for purposes of looking good (weight-loss, body building), and disease treatment, not prevention.
Cryonics is a quintessential product which (as has been pointed out ad nauseam) is one that you often don't need when you might want it, and often don't want when you do need it. It's also, by the way, a trouble about which unprepared people scream "mommy" regularly in that brief and fleeting bit of time when they realize they have been screwed by the universe and do need cryonics protection, but don't have it and cannot get it. But there have not hitherto been enough such people, and there hasn't been enough total screaming that society has listened and regulated the practice, so far. Thus, cryonics is still quite libertarian, and it is just about as free of safety nets. It is about as hard to convince people to contract with cryonics providers as it is to get them to join the Libertarian party, and for many of the same reasons. The same would be true of most insurance companies but for the fact that most insurance is now mandated by law, due to generations of lobbying screamers. Remember what we said about the golden rule.
There is anther reasons why cryonics is a tough sell: It's not Tupperware. It requires not only a certain philosophy and optimism, but also an unblinking look at one's own mortality for the many hours necessary to complete the paperwork. This, in a psychological environment where most people's mental circuit breakers trip out after about 10 seconds of contemplating their own dead bodies in the future, and what will be done with them. Thus, signing up is not easy (even for scientific materialists it represents a lot of mental circuit-breaker re-sets. For most people, too many).
And finally, there is the real issue of intelligence. When I read the mental-masturbation stuff about "uploading" from people who are not themselves signed up with a cryonics organization, it makes me think of Harlan Ellison's observation that the two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. And yet, is not quite right that to say that these people are stupid in the conventional sense. Clearly, many of them are enormously bright and creative people, like Minksy. Intelligence is not the monolithic thing it's sometimes said to be, but rather it's a whole collection of abilities, each of which may be missing or present in any one person. Ironically it is Minksy himself who has written most charmingly and convincingly about this. Minski, then, is just being segmentally stupid about uploading vs cryonics, even as conversely some people with far lower "IQs" than Minski's have understood the basic problem of cryonics well enough to have made arrangements to get suspended before they needed to have them. One day, I predict Minski (or his family on behalf of him) may scream "mommy." That's what most people do eventually, bright or dumb. That's our nature, as still half-animal beings with too-small frontal lobes, evolved in and adapted to a short-future world very different than the one we've built for ourselves these last paltry few millennia.
In any case my bottom line message is the recurring refrain from one of Pizer's poems in Cryonics Magazine of about 5 years back, addressed to those with monumental schemes about how to sell cryonics to the world: "Yes, but are you signed up, yet?" If you are, good for you-- but you may need to realize that you are not like other people in some weird mental-segmental way, and thus selling them an idea that you took to easily may not be the piece of cake you think it is, MLM or not. If you're not signed up, on the other hand, that's a very valuable learning state, since you can look to (into) yourself and come to know a great deal about why most people aren't signed up, just by examining very closely the reasons why you aren't (If you'll learn the lesson, that is: every person seems to feel him or herself unique here, I've discovered, and refuses to think that other people's excuses are as good as his own). No, don't tell us you're going to sign up - that doesn't count. What counts is actually having gone through with it. In terms of understanding, that's worth any number of "Cheat Death Now; Ask Me How" badges. You can construct an MLM for a product that won't sell at all, as we said. But will you have done any good if you do?
Note that the mental circuit-breaker tripping I wrote of is what Dr Sodolski is talking about by another name in his article on terror management. (Page 4 this issue.) We've all experienced it, and it's a major impediment to cryonics. Unfortunately, we are caught in a Catch 22 (see J. Heller's fine novel of the same name) here. Thoughts of nitty-gritty of your own death are what makes you sign up for cryonics. But when you have them, they are immediately attacked and repressed by your "mortality censor," and you then have to de-suppress them, and the emotions attendant to them, for long enough to do the signing up. Apparently, this is so difficult that many people never make it through the gauntlet.
Perhaps a simple lay discussion of this psychological process at the beginning of any piece of cryonics literature will help. Knowing the tricks one's mind is trying to play can sometimes cause one to "bull through" a process out of sheer anger at being manipulated by one's own psychology, and a proud and perverse refusal to let it happen.
Hey, it worked for me.
There are many people in MLM and commission programmes who think that cryonics can be sold this way. My advice is that use MLM by all means to earn your suspension fees, but have something other than cryonics as the subject of your MLM. MLM is controversial, and so is cryonics. The two aspects of controversy are likely to work together to the detriment of both concepts.
1 - I suggested that Terra Libra sold such "physical products" in its MLM programs. The suggestion was not well received!
by Brian W. Haines
I have before me a pamphlet headed Censored in Great Britain. The title of the pamphlet is The Scientific Proof of Survival After Death by Michael Roll. I have spoken to Mr. Roll and he is very lucid, sensible and well educated. Recently he gave a lecture at the University of London upon his ideas. Naturally I was very interested and asked him to let me have his proofs, which he promised to do. It seemed to me he may have established the connection required by the Cryonic movement to sustain the belief that there is a sound medical basis to preserve the apparent dead for future revival.
It is possible my reading of the literature provided by Mr. Roll was too hasty, or too ill understood to extract from it the proofs he claims it contained. It is true he gives complete bibliographies and quotes extensively from various authorities: unfortunately, from my point of view, all his main authorities are long since dead. They are speaking from beyond the grave as it were. A point perhaps that philosophically indicates some degree of survival but not I imagine the practical scientific proof the average person is expecting.
In brief as I understand it his argument is that when we die the essential life force is still hovering around in the form of electric charges in the nature of protons, neutrons or some similar sub-atomic particles, and that these sub-atomic particles contain within them the essence of the life that directed the form of the carcass that is now in the process of disintegration. It is not a matter of any religious belief, it is a fact of life that life itself goes on. It is not clear to me whether Mr. Roll is saying the whole world is a mere collection of electrical charges or whether there is some form of essential life force within a particular form of electrical charge. I rather fancy the latter as he goes on to say that these life forces can be contacted through mediums, which is where we come back to some old friends. The mediums he talks of are the familiar persons who hold seances and conjure up the dead.
I have had the good fortune to meet some of these mediums who hold to these views. They claim they can and do materialise people to such a degree you can shake hands with them or hug them as you will. Apparently the dead are quite keen after they have re-materialised to enjoy some bodily contact. Once again the mediums are perfectly normal people since, they have ordinary homes, eat meals and are apparently quite sane and well educated. Yet once again they talk only: I have yet to see a full demonstration.
Cryonics and these Mediums have much in common. They both wish to re-create life. Not any life, but particular lives, lives of known and named people.
Now I personally have a problem. My father and mother are both dead, so are my brother, my uncle my grandfather and a whole batch of assorted relatives whose names I cannot recall. They are well and truly dead having for the most part descended into the regions of the flames by the good offices of the local crematorium. There is nothing left of them, and so far, and I say so far because we must accept that all things are possible, they have never come back in any form whatsoever. I assume, for the sake of my own sane peace of mind, they were well and truly dead before we let them burn.
The Cryonic approach tends to suggest my relatives were actually still alive in some form and the life force was merely dormant [but rapidly ebbing away unless something is done - ed]; the mediums on the other hand accept a carcass death with the real person floating off in some etheric cloud of sub-atomic particles. Naturally I am somewhat worried: I nearly died recently during the course of an operation. I have a very great deal at stake here. The only problem is there was little I could have done about it except now speculate upon the issues as they affect the world.
As will be apparent I did not die. I was neither frozen and brought back to life, nor did I return from the grave in spirit form. I revived in due order with a massive blood transfusion. I was never at any time conscious of being near death nor indeed of being anything other than somewhat unwell. My main preoccupation was with the truly disgusting food provided by the hospital and wondering whether I would starve to death before I could get out and have a decent meal. It crossed my mind you got better food in prison, and the only real difference between hospital and prison was they no longer tortured you in prison, whereas the pain inflicted in the name of healing reminds one of the medieval notion that you must drive out the evil spirits.
This parallel between prison and hospital is not so fanciful as it may sound. One deals, theoretically, with curing the mind while the other deals with curing the physical ailment. In some ways this brings the two strands of life experience together. The conscious body and the awareness of the conscious mind. If one dies can the other exist without it is the big question.
One of the great weaknesses of all the religious systems is the concentration upon the after-life without much thought for an earlier existence. My medium had little to offer upon the subject. My question directed as to the location of the life spirit prior to inhabiting my present body was met with blank looks. The theory of the Cryonic suspension system does not address the subject at all so far as I am aware. The real difficulty from the world-population aspect is that both will fill the world with more and more lives. Of course this is not an impossibility, but the time must eventually come when the world is actually full; the argument that we can then go on into outer space is no solution. This is akin to the claim of some supporters of the UFO movement that life came to this earth from alien space ships. It answers no questions at all, it does not solve the dilemma of whether it is possible to die or not.
Does it matter? Of course it does. Cryonic suspension requires that you spend a lot of your money now in the hope that you can be revived later. If the money is being wasted you could have a much more comfortable time while you are on this earth and provide for a peaceful old age instead. Or you could invest your money in alternative health ideas which may extend your active life. The trouble is that allowing your relatives to bury you in the ground or put you in the furnace is tantamount to committing suicide if the life force remains in the body and is eternal.
My personal experience is that you have little control over what relatives, and more particularly the medical profession, get up to when you lapse into unconsciousness. In spite of quite specific promises I endured an operation I did not agree to have. The answer to this must be very much stronger and tighter controls over the powers of those who would take decisions on our behalf. More importantly there has to be real appraisal of the relationship between the meaning of life and death.
If my medium is correct, and life marches on as the individual quite regardless of the external body, in the manner of the ideas of Swedenbourg, then it hardly matters at all what goes on in this life. It is somewhat like the irritation of missing a meal, or a train. You could jump off a cliff with impunity because you are, in the ideas of the medium, still whole on the etheric sub-atomic plane.
Well once again I can only call upon personal experience. I only have practical knowledge of this world; this is where I starve if I don't work. The visions of William Blake are all very well; my experience of comfort and luxury is down here with my feet firmly on the ground. It is some help in hours of distress to believe in the life of better times to come. Meanwhile I think on balance there is a good chance both are wrong, there may be a third way which I have yet to discover.
The answer is to put the problem off as long as possible and look to extending the present life to some 120 or 130 years. Perhaps by then I will be so sick of it I'll be glad to walk the plank to eternity.
Comment by Mike Perry, (Venturist Monthly News)
Mr. Haines is witty and entertaining, and it's good to have a piece like this to read, even if the conclusions, as John de Rivaz suggests, differ a bit from what most of us in cryonics consider sensible. But serious issues are addressed here, and each person must make up their own mind as to what is the best course to follow.
One issue is that cryonics isn't cheap, though for many it's reasonably affordable through life insurance. Those who are really sure this is what they want can often find the means where others would not. This brings up some other issues raised here, including the stance of cryonics vs. certain others who claim life can persist after death, e.g. Mr. Roll and his mediums.
Here I think there is a difference of opinion of which Mr. Haines is not fully aware. We in cryonics, it is true, feel that the pronouncement of death does not automatically, and usually in practice does not, signify the true state of death. In principle, a "dead" person whose heart and breathing have just stopped could be restored to life and even vibrant, good health but our technology is now inadequate. The reason we cryonicists think so has nothing to do with any mysterious "life force" that persists in the atoms or subatomic particles that make up the body. Instead, the potential for life resides in the information that is encoded in the physical structure of that body. In short, it isn't in the atoms but in the way those atoms are arranged. This, I think, will seem quite logical if you give it some thought.
By analogy consider a message written in chalk on a blackboard. The message isn't contained in the chalk particles themselves, which could be rearranged into innumerable other patterns spelling out very different messages, but in the particular arrangement that forms the words you actually read. Think of a person as a kind of "message" written mainly in the pattern of information encoded in the brain (which also includes the genome, a chunk of about 6 billion bits in its own right).
So what are we trying to do in cryonics? By freezing the body as soon as possible after death is pronounced (for legal reasons we can't start sooner), we are hoping to preserve the atomic arrangement well enough that with future technology the living, functioning person can be reconstituted with reasonable fidelity. The burning question is, are we preserving the arrangement well enough? At present we don't know, but we are certainly preserving it better than through burial or cremation. This fact alone is enough to inspire those of us who have chosen cryonics; different ones of us have somewhat different rationales, nonetheless.
The majority of cryonicists, I think, firmly discount any possibility of an afterlife, whether by mystical or more scientific means. They choose cryonics because they want to survive beyond the biological limits and be healthy and whole at an arbitrary age, and cryonics is the only chance they can see. So, whether the chance is small or large (and here opinions will vary considerably) it is worth taking. Others of us (and I include myself here) conjecture that some form of resurrection of the unfrozen dead should be possible scientifically. (Interesting arguments to this effect can be based on many-worlds physics, for example, though I firmly discount alleged resurrections through mediums other paranormal means.) But we still see an advantage in a more straightforward resurrection through cryonics, should that become possible, and feel that the gamble is worth it. And there are still others, a few at least, who have more traditional views about an afterlife (e.g. born-again Christians) but choose cryonics because it's a possible way to extend and enhance this life. Thus they see cryonics as a medical procedure, the goals of medicine being consistent with and complementary to those of religion.
Mr. Haines also raises the possibility of overpopulation if immortality becomes a reality, an issue others often raise too. My response is that overpopulation should be no problem, once people realize that they no longer have to die and that not reproducing has strong advantages, e.g., leaving enough living space for themselves and others who need it. Basically, the coming of immortality will mean we are no longer merely human, no longer the mortal creature who must be obsessed with reproducing its species. The species must die, outgrown and overstepped, even as the individuals that once made it up live on and on and develop into ever higher forms. When the reproductive process becomes a liability (as it has already, in many circumstances) corresponding modifications will be made (as is already being done). New individuals might still be created, however, at appropriately controlled rates.
Related to the population question, however, is another, more subtle one, which could also eventually haunt us. To continue an indefinite course of development, as ought to be the case for a would-be immortal, will require indefinite growth, if for no other reason, to store the accumulated wisdom and experiences that will be required to define the higher state. We will simply need bigger and bigger brains, ultimately, if we are to reach ever greater heights. This will take more and more room, though I expect this requirement to develop only slowly. It's a big universe and apparently getting bigger fast, so I don't think we need to worry much yet.
The issue is also raised as to whether we had a past life. From the cryonics point of view, what we are is contained in or described by our physical structure. There is no reason to assume any past life, if such is not indicated in this structure, i.e. if you have no memories of such a life. More generally, most cryonicists firmly eschew any mystical element in thinking about life and survival. There is no need to invoke anything beyond science and reason for attaining all goals both large and small. Most importantly, it means that we must attain our goals, through our own efforts.
Yvan Bozzonetti writes:
In brief as I understand it his argument is that when we die the essential life force is still hovering around in the form of electric charges in the nature of protons, neutrons or some similar sub-atomic particles, and that these sub-atomic particles contain within them the essence of the life that directed the form of the carcass that is now in the process of disintegration .....
This is typical pseudo-scientific statements with no information content, that "directed the form of the carcass" is not particle physics or neutron electric charge but more simply diffusion process in a cell community: A given hormone in given amount produces a given cell specialisation. That is how a body is built from a undifferentiated cells stock at the start.
Some time ago, I have said on Cryonet that, given a sufficient "wave band", I could explain how bring back to life a cremated person. The idea was to use some relativity twists. In fact, the real solution is not fully at hand...!
Now I can invent an instant theory with neutrons, electric field and so on, I can mix it with some parapsychology and sell the packet as a new religion. Anybody interested to buy?
The plain truth is that: There is no practical alternative today to cryonics-like technology. I understand by cryonics-like any combination of cold/chemical storage able to save the brain structure. When that structure is fully destroyed (some days after death) there is no more hope nor "subnuclear conservation". There is no before life and no after life, sorry.
One more point: "Elite selection" is a common element of sect phraseology, there is nothing to learn from it. No serious people can think a social value system can live more than some centuries, so an "elite" in one system is of no value in another. Only hard science, with its cumulative process can live more. In that case, if you are not Gauss, Einstein, Feynman or some unknown alike you can't be "saved". May be wrongly condemned or tortured could qualify for a new life, I think most candidate would be found in the cohort of animals stripped alive from their skin to make some fashion products; Very powerful "live-again" technologies of the distant future can be applied in unexpected way today and on "people" we don't even recognize as such today.
Can you send this remark to Mr. B. Haines? You can use it for Longevity Report.
A further comment from Brian Haines:
I am much pleased by a comment by Mike Perry. Anyone who says I am witty and entertaining inspires my instant love and affection. For such thoughts I am willing to endure immortality.
But our Mike does approach a problem I have seen within the cryonicist movement. I suppose it is within us all to be inconsistent, however the fact remains there seems to be no distinct philosophy underlying the expectation of the resurrection of a dead body. Or even a dead head.
As I understand it, there is a move to for the poorer members of the community who cannot afford a full body preservation, for the head alone to be frozen in liquid nitrogen. Now I am unable to understand why anyone should bother with an old balding head with wizen brow. I cannot believe there is any point in reviving such an object especially if half the brain cells have decayed as well. Better and cheaper just to hack the brain box out in the hope there is something left of the personality that can be resuscitated. In fact this plot has formed the basis many a sci-fi film.
Now it is here the philosophy angle comes in. I assume there are many in the cryonics movement who have some nodding acceptance of some major religion or another. It is extremely difficult in this world not to have been conditioned into a cultural box of prejudice. To break away completely is almost impossible because we all have this basic question of why are we in the world at all.
Given that there is a thinking process about the reason for wishing to prolong the agony of life where exactly is the point of departure for the cryonicist. If we do not worry at all about the origin of the personality, of where life comes from then we are left with where it goes to. If one is to believe there is no after life in any spirit world or in some parallel world, then all life exists on this planet. It is nowhere else. So what exactly is being reconstituted? It is not the body itself, for this we agree is often worn out. Much of the brain wears out, it degrades, the cells themselves die.
I do not believe the problem has been properly thought through to a logical conclusion. It has to be agreed that there must be an optimum point of maturity for the individual. This can be seen, from an age of say 28 or 30 in most people, both men and women. They reach their best years, after which they are said to be "over the hill". We can argue about the ages but there is a natural time at which maturity is achieved and then there is the slow decline. It is seen in both the animal and vegetable kingdom.
Is the hope then that this decline can be reversed. If so the time to start the freezing process is just before maturity, not to wait until death has set in. If the concept is of no afterlife, then there can be no objection to termination at the age of decline.
It seems to me the average cryonicist wants it both ways at the moment, there is no true commitment to the system. They all want the full term of years including old age, and then somehow expect to go into reverse after death. This is not on. What I want to see is a full rational of the beliefs which underlie the objectives.
Christians believe in an afterlife, Buddhists believe we all come back in another form and so on. What do Cryonicists believe?
1. Neurosuspension is only cheaper inasmuch as Alcor UK charge about 55,000 for the process as against their charge for whole body of 125,000. The Cryonics Institute charges UK people about 22,000 for the whole job. Of course they use a different procedure and you pay your money and take your choice ...
2. Alcor suspend the whole head on the basis that they may do damage that is hard to repair by removing a brain, and also the skull is a good protection for the frozen brain. People whose brains have been hacked out by a pathologist acting under the duress of law can have their brains suspended as a last ditch resort.
It will be interesting to see that if such patients have suffered any damage on reanimation whether they can sue the estate of the pathologist and other officials responsible and the government concerned ... if they can be found after such time has passed. Precedent already exists for official bodies to be liable if knowledge exists at the time of the act to suggest it is unsafe, from the failure of the French authorities to act over AIDS in blood transfusions.
by Dennis Fink
Here is some of my info on Deaner from my 800 page e-text:
DMAE or DIMETHYLAMINOETHANOL
Found in anchovies and sardines, DMAE is a naturally occurring stimulant that is not found in the everyday diet in significant quantities. It can be found as a supplement in many health food stores. Its effects may require three weeks to build up, so it is not fast acting like nicotine or caffeine. Kugler, et al, site the worst side effect as a tightening of the jaw which should disappear with a decreased dosage. Sheldon Hendler, M.D., Ph.D., (Hendler, p. 369) cites a study done after the one showing life extension benefits in animals that showed decreased life expectancy, so here is another supplement that we need more research on. It is also the primary active ingredient in Procaine, which has been used for years in Europe under the name Gerovital, or GH3. Procaine is known mostly for its anti-ageing effects and also as an anti-depressant and smart drug but the University Medical Research Publishers (see references) cite work by Dr. Paul Luth of the Municipal Hospital Offenbach/Main, Germany that found it to regulate heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure and to have a major effect on degenerative diseases like hardening of the arteries, and arthritis. I have used DMAE from Source Naturals and from Prolongevity. It is often in the form of DMAE Bitartrate. Some bottles specify that the tablets contain 351 milligrams (mg) of the bitartrate and 130 mg of pure elemental DMAE. Others just give the higher amount (the bitartrate) so you can't assume that the number given for the bitartrate is the amount of DMAE that you are getting.
Dr. Hans Kugler did a double blind study at Roosevelt University in Chicago to see if DMAE and PABA, the two breakdown products of Procaine, had the same effect as Procaine. They did, and an American supplement manufacturer, Vita Industries, obtained the rights to his discovery. They added L- glutamine to the combination, and you can now obtain it here in the US from Gero Vita Labs, 316 California Avenue, Dept. 100, Reno, Nevada, 89509. It is somewhat expensive at over $30 for a 1 month supply, but it seems to be a very safe substance, and although the FDA does not evidently see much validity in overseas research, Dr. Frank's work (see references) saw similar results with his patients eating lots of sardines. The evidence to me appears to lean in favor of Dr. Frank and Dr. Luth and others who have seen good results with DMAE and Procaine. This substance is discussed more under ENERGY... since I have been using it for a few months and have been very pleased with the increased energy that I have had, but I have not yet noted any of the arrhythmia regulation effect that Dr. Luth found.
The journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics also reported (1959) that human subjects given DMAE showed better mental concentration, less sleep needed, sound sleep, increased muscle tone, and the users reported improved moods. Dosages range from 250 to 1,000 milligrams daily.
DMAE was once known as the prescription drug Deaner, which was manufactured by the Riker Laboratories for helping hyperactive children. In the early 1980's, the FDA asked Riker to perform a whole new series of studies to prove it's efficacy. The company declined, and stopped marketing DMAE in 1983, primarily because Ritalin showed more promise for the treatment of hyperactivity. Since DMAE occurs naturally, there was no chance of Riker getting a patent to maintain proprietary rights either. (Kugler, p. 205) Some of the authors in Kugler, et al. believe that DMAE is in some ways superior to choline because even though DMAE is normally quickly converted to choline, DMAE crosses the cell membrane more readily than choline (Experimental Gerontology, 1973 and Kugler, et al.).
See also LONGEVITY, and ENERGY & ALERTNESS.
The current version, with much more cancer information, is available via mail at cost. I am anxious to distribute the information (18 months of work) but am trying to make a second career of this so I have to ask for help on the costs. I prefer subscriptions to two quarterly updates plus the basic text ($12), but will mail the basic text (3.5 inch floppy plus instructions) for $5 if someone is broke.
Mail a check for $12 to the address below for 12 licenses to a 700 page text on Health, Longevity, IQ and Alternative Medicine, plus the two quarterly updates if your address is in N. America.
3605 S. Braeswood Blvd.
TX 77025 U. S. A.
Clifford A. Pickover
Pickover, C. (1995) FUTURE HEALTH, Computers and Medicine in the Twenty-First Century. St. Martin's Press: New York.
This collection considers the tremendous effects that computers will have on medicine and medical service in the next century. The book also gives a sampling of state-of-the-art application of computers in medicine. The chapters describe:
o futuristic operating rooms
o the challenges of future medical schools in preparing 21st-century physicians
o futuristic fractal models in pathology
o the use of new medical imaging technologies
o the use of electronic gophers to obtain medical information
o digital dentistry
o the use of artificial intelligence in medical diagnosis
o computer conferencing for medical consulting
o bloodless robotic surgery
o making solid models from medical images
o futuristic examinations rooms and much more....
"I tied a cord to the upper part of the spine, where it is firm and less flexible and, pulling it straight to the ceiling, fastened the end of it to a hook in the wall."
- Bernard Albinus (1696-1770)
My interest in human anatomy began in early childhood. I remember going into my father's study and gazing at the anatomical works of Bernard Siegfried Albinus, the greatest descriptive anatomist of the eighteenth century. In 1725, after Albinus found a fresh skeleton of a fully grown male "with all the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage attached", he became determined to make careful drawings of the body and skeleton for use by both artists and anatomists. He preserved the soft parts by soaking them in vinegar. One of his first drawings is shown facing this page in the book.
What would have Albinus thought of today's medical images? With the aid of computers, new anatomical maps have emerged just in the past few decades which render his noble efforts obsolete. Since their rapid growth following the Second World War, computers have changed the way we perform scientific research, conduct business, create art, and spend our leisure time. They're also playing increasingly important roles in medicine. For much of the twentieth century, the X-ray had been the preferred imaging tool allowing doctors to probe the mysteries of the human body and the disease process. New technologies, however, began to enter clinical use in the 1970's and 80's, allowing physicians to visualize the interior of the human body with unprecedented clarity. These new, exotic-sounding technologies included: computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), ultrasound, video thermography, superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs), and digital subtraction angiography (DSA).
Let's first consider the well-known diagnostic images provided by CT scans and MRI images. The first CT scanner was installed in a Wimbledon, England hospital in 1971. The scanners have since improved in various ways, and today these marvellous machines can scan the body at a resolution of 1.5 millimetres. To produce these high-resolution views, computers determine the density of each point by processing information from all the X-rays passing though the point. Shades of grey or colour may be assigned to the density values, thus creating a high-resolution image of a slice of the human body. Computers may also subsequently process the 2-D slice information to build 3-D models of the human anatomy. Using today's technology, it's possible to build virtual reality systems allowing students and physicians to use computers that enable them to "walk" around and study these 3-D models.
Today, magnetic resonance imaging machines are also very popular diagnostic devices. The very first animal to be studied by an MRI machine, in 1973, was a four-millimetre clam. Today, there are much larger machines which can accommodate a human body. As with the CT images, computers are also used to produce MR images. To accomplish this, a computer processes information on the alignment of magnetic fields in tissues after they are subjected to radio waves. Interestingly, in 1982 there were only four commercially available MR units in the United States. In 1990, there were over 2000 machines. Several features make MR preferable to CT scans in many situations. Aside from the fact that MR does not produce harmful ionizing radiation, it also produces a natural contrast between static and flowing matter and can provide better contrast resolution than CT or ultrasound. Stephen Hall in his book Mapping the Next Millennium (Random House) has suggested that, in the 21st century, the chest X-ray will become obsolete, supplemented by whole-body magnetic resonance imaging maps. Everyone will have their bodies scanned, digitized, processed by a computer, and kept on permanent record. Physicians will use this record to search for diseases and note changes in a person's body through time.
I'd like to mention a few of my favourite current applications of computers in medicine before allowing the chapter contributors to take you further in the future. Let's start by imagining a slightly decayed, 2000-year-old mummified child being probed by the most advanced computer instrumentation and computer graphics equipment. This is not some grotesque scene from a Steven King novel, rather this is precisely what an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Illinois is excited about. In the early 1990s, using two supercomputers (a CRAY 2S and a Connection Machine CM-2) to construct 3-D video animations from 2-D CAT scan slices, David Lawrence unravelled the identity of the small Egyptian child within the mummy's ancient wrappings. In a related project, Ray Evenhouse used various computers to carefully reconstruct the mummy's skull from head scan information. He built the flesh back on the skull, and then, with a special computer program used in updating old photos of missing children, he aged the mummy's face to 18 years old. Finally, Evenhouse produced physical 3-D models of heads at various ages.
The researchers' combined tests -- including radiography, CAT scans, 3-D imaging, and wood, textile, resin and insect analyses -- shed light not only on the mummy, but on mummification during Egypt's Roman period. Researchers concluded that the mummy is an 8 year old who died of unknown causes around A.D. 100. Without even removing the mummy's wrappings, they can tell that at least three organs were left inside the body.
Here are just a few additional interesting applications of computers and technology to medicine:
Researchers at the University of Colorado are creating "virtual cadavers" to help train medical students. These 3-D computer models are created in a sequence of steps. First, human cadavers are deep frozen in gelatin. With an extremely sharp carbon-diamond blade, researchers then shave off 1/2 mm sections from the cadaver. Each cross-section is photographed and digitally stored at a resolution of 1500x1200 pixels in 24-bit colour. The models are then stored on an indexed video-disc catalog developed by Interactive Education Inc. (Raleigh, North Carolina). Currently, the developers have interactive 3-D models of the human thorax, including the lungs, heart, arteries, veins, etc. Users can perform simulated dissections or surgery.
Dr. George Shelplock of Indiana University has recently created a multimedia anaesthesia training program for the Macintosh called Brachial Plexus Blocks. The program allows anaesthesiology residents to practice injecting a local anaesthetic into the brachial plexus, a group of nerves that innervate the arm. By manipulating a simulated needle, and by clicking on an X-ray vision option that causes the skin to dissolve away, users can gain valuable insight into how to best administer the anaesthesia.
Robot surgeons are already operating in the 1990's. A 250-pound robot named Robodoc was the first robot to perform surgery on a human. Currently Robodoc routinely operates on arthritic dogs at the veterinary clinic of Hap Paul, head of Robodoc development at Integrated Surgical Systems in Sacramento, California. Robodoc carves out the cavity in the bone where an implant will be inserted. Robodoc is about 10 times as accurate as a human holding a drill. Sensors monitoring pressure on the drill bit will stop Robodoc if it were to start cutting into soft tissue. Perhaps Robodoc will aid orthopaedic surgeons by the end of the decade who already do 160,000 hip replacements in the United States each year.
Computers are being used to produce patterns which help physicians diagnose problems of the brain. Here is some background information. In 1984, several British researchers discovered that some people find a certain pattern of stripes painful to look at; moreover, stripe viewing apparently induced headache attacks in some subjects with histories of headaches. In 1989, researchers in the U.S. further demonstrated that this kind of pattern appears to help in distinguishing those people who suffer from migraine headaches from other types of headaches. Migraine sufferers, when presented with this pattern will find the pattern extremely objectionable and attempt to avert their gaze, while people who do not suffer from this type of headache will have relatively little difficulty looking at the pattern. The test pattern was designed for use by physicians as one part of an overall diagnostic test, and can be used to help distinguish migraine from non-migraine headache sufferers. It must however be used with caution, as the pattern is capable of triggering migraine headaches in some people. Certain patients with epilepsy may also suffer seizures after looking at the pattern.
Despite the potential for triggering migraine headaches, the interesting pattern has been published in the journal Brain in 1984. You can program this pattern on your computer using the following hint: it resembles a circle filled with alternating black and white vertical stripes. At a viewing distance of 43 cm, this grating has a spatial frequency of 3 cycles/degree of visual arc, and a Michelson contrast of about 0.7.
VISIBLE HUMAN PROJECT:
As an extension to the Virtual Corpse project just discussed, researchers at the University of Colorado Health Science Center in Denver are also excited about their project (started in 1991) to create the ultimate digital model of the human anatomy. This complete, 3-D model will contain high-resolution images and information concerning every cubic millimetre of a male and a female corpse. Medical students, for example, could use this data to precisely visualize the locations of blood vessels within the brain or nerves within the spine. Powerful graphics computers can then use this data to draw realistic 3-D renderings, animations, and magnifications from any angle, of any part of the body. This Visible Human Project, as it is called, involves the capturing of image data from medical image scans (CT and MRI) of human cadavers, as well as digitization of cryosection photographic data. No doubt, in a few years, you will be able to take a simulated submarine ride through the heart and aortic arch, much like the scientists did in the famous science fiction tale Fantastic Voyage.
Surgeons at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland have implanted small, drug-filled, pancake-shaped wafers in the brain. After removing a tumour, they leave behind several wafers in the skull which release drugs over four weeks as the wafers dissolve. The surgeons hope to prevent tumour recurrence. Robert Langer, a professor of biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created the wafers, and he notes that it is easy to control the drug dose if you know how fast the wafers dissolve. Another of Langer's wafers makes use of a maze of tiny tunnels within the wafer to allow drug molecules to slowly escape over months of time. Experiments are underway to determine how effective the brain pancakes are in preventing tumour recurrence.
Future Health takes many of these ideas forward, giving an account of the state of the art, and speculating on advances in the 21st Century. It therefore includes a range of topics which should interest students, health care professionals, biologists, physicians and a general audience fascinated by speculations on unusual technologies and the future of medical care and education. The book consists of two parts. In Part 1: Managing Information, contributors describe the challenges of future medical schools in preparing physicians in the 21st Century. They also discuss the importance of computer science in medicine, the concept of hybrid computational-physician leaders, the use of electronic gophers to obtain medical information, the use of artificial intelligence in medical diagnosis, the use of operating rooms in the 21st Century, and the use of computer conferencing. In Part II: Technological Breakthroughs authors discuss a range of techniques which will have increasing use in the 21st Century, for example: digital dentistry, robotic surgery, new medical imaging technologies, and even the use of computers in pathology. Most of the ideas expressed in this book are practical and are either currently being implemented or will be implementable within the next decade or two. My goal therefore is to provide information which students, lay people, scientists, politicians, and physicians will find of practical value today as they make personal, educational, and policy decisions about their needs in the coming decades.
This book's cover image showing an three-dimensional x-ray computed tomography scan (CT scan) of the head is courtesy of Court B. Cutting, M.D., a craniofacial surgeon at New York University, and Alan Kalvin, Ph.D., a research staff member at the IBM Watson Research Laboratory. Dr. Kalvin used the software IBM Visualization Data Explorer to create the brain cross-section. (I used custom graphic programs to enhance the coloration and set the figure on a background of mist and stars.)
Clifford A. Pickover
Yorktown Heights, New York
o Hall, S. (1992) Mapping the Next Millennium Random House: New York.
o West, B. (1990) Fractal Physiology and Chaos in Medicine. World Scientific: New Jersey.
o Computers in Biomedical Research, an official publication of the American Medical Informatics Association. (ISSN 0010-4809, published bimonthly by Academic Press, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4900)
o American Medical Informatics Association, an association dedicated to the development and application of medical informatics in the support of patent care, teaching, research, and health care administration. They are also interested in computer applications in medical care. Available journals: Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, MD Computing, Computers and Biomedical Research. (AMIA, 4915 St. Elmo Ave, Suite 302, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
o The Society for Computer Applications in Radiology, an organization for professionals who realize that computers have become an indispensable part of daily activities in medical imaging. State-of-the-art practice includes: computer generated and enhanced images, radiology information management, image transmission and display, and decision support systems. Membership benefits include a subscription to The Journal of Digital Imaging. Contact: SCAR, PO Box 8800, 4750 Lindle Road, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8800.
o The BioMoo center is a virtual facility used by hundreds of biologists to communicate, collaborate, and design electronic tools to do science. This ambitions attempt to create a virtual reality research center on the Internet is complete with "labs", "offices", "meeting rooms", and even a "café". (Essentially it's a software program running on a computer at the Bioinformatics Unit of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Jerusalem.) To visit BioMoo, you may telnet to: bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il 8888 or 126.96.36.199 8888. At the BioMoo welcome screen, type "connect guest". For more information, see: Anderson, C. (1994) Cyberspace offers chance to do virtually real science. Science. May 14, 264: 900-901.
o The book series on Mathematical Biology and Medicine promotes interdisciplinary approaches in biology and in medicine. The book series includes topics such as: cardiac modelling, computer models in medicine, epidemiology, physiology, models of tumour growth, and genome research. The Journal of Biological Systems covers similar topics. (Publisher contact for book series and journal: World Scientific Publishing, Suite 1B, 1060 Main St., River Edge, New Jersey 07661. Editorial Contact: R. V. Jean, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Universite du Quebec, 3000 Avenue des Ursulines, Rimouski, Quebec, Canada G5L 3A1.)
o There are currently numerous health products available for your PC. I do not endorse any of these, but wish to stimulate your imagination and give examples of the kind of "futuristic", inexpensive PC applications available today. For example, using inexpensive "3-D Body Adventure" software, one can walk through a 3-D spinal cord, study evolution, rotate a skull, and more (Knowledge Adventure, 4502 Dyer St., La Crescenta, California 91214). PharmAssist, from Software Marketing Corporation (602-893-3377) is a program providing facts on thousands of prescription and nonprescription drugs. HealthSoft (800-795-4325) publishes similar software, as well as the Family Health Guide and Medical Dictionary. The Family Doctor on CD-ROM is available from Creative Multimedia (503-241-4351). The Mayo Clinic offers the Family Health Book and Heart Book on CD-ROM, from Interactive Ventures (612-686-0779). HealthDesk allows you to track your family's medical history and assess hereditary risk factors (800-578-5767). Medical insurance claim forms can be organized with ClaimPlus from Te Corp (800-725-2645) or MedSure from Time Solutions (800-552-3302). DynaPulse from Pulse Metric (800-927-8573) allows you to effectively monitor your pulse rate and blood pressure. SimHealth from the Markle Foundation (800-824-2643) lets you simulate various health care plans. (Much of this product information comes from: Soviero, M. (1994) The digital doctor makes house calls. Popular Science. April, page 53.)
Pickover, C. (1995) FUTURE HEALTH, Computers and Medicine in the Twenty-First Century. St. Martin's Press: New York.
This collection considers the tremendous effects that computers will have on medicine and medical service in the next century. The book also gives a sampling of state-of-the-art application of computers in medicine. The chapters describe:
o futuristic operating rooms
o the challenges of future medical schools in preparing 21st-century physicians
o futuristic fractal models in pathology
o the use of new medical imaging technologies
o the use of electronic gophers to obtain medical information o digital dentistry
o the use of artificial intelligence in medical diagnosis
o computer conferencing for medical consulting
o bloodless robotic surgery
o making solid models from medical images
o futuristic examinations rooms
and much more....
Table of Contents
PART I. MANAGING INFORMATION AND SERVICE
Preparing Future Physicians: How will Medical Schools Meet the Challenge?
- David Kaufman, Ed.D., Director, Medical Education Unit
- Ms. Grace Paterson, M.Sc., Coordinator, Medical Informatics Dalhousie University
Just How Many Patients Can Fit in an Exam Room?
- Risa B. Bobroff
- Ronda H. Wang Baylor College of Medicine
Computers and Medicine: Advancing the Field
- Christopher Galassi, MD, MS
Methodist Hospital of Indiana
The Future of Computer Conferencing for Medical Consulting - W. R. Klemm, DVM, Ph.D
- J. R. Snell, DVM, MS
Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Public Health Texas A&M University
The Impact of Gophers on Biomedical Science
- Tim Littlejohn, Ph.D.
Department de Biochimie Universite de Montreal
PART II. TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGHS
The Future of Computers in Pathology
- Gabriel Landini, Dr. Odont, PhD
- John W. Rippin, PhD. FRC Path. Oral Pathology Unit The University of Birmingham
Bloodless Robotic Surgery
- John R. Adler, M.D.
- Achim Schweikard, Ph.D.
Dept of Neurosurgery, Stanford University Institut für Informatik, Technische Universität München
Medical Images Made Solid
- Peter J. de Jager and Johan W.H. Tangelder
Delft University of Technology
Computer-Assisted Dental Care: Dentistry Goes Digital- Allan G. Farman, PhD (odont.), MBA Professor, Radiology & Imaging Sciences Division
- William C. Scarfe, BDS, MS
School of Dentistry University of Louisville
Medical Imaging and the Futures of Computers in Medicine
- Michael de la Maza
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Deniz Yuret
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
There's really not too much on nanotechnology and the like, per se. Here is part of Chapter 10 by Michael de la Maza and Deniz Yuret that seems to touch on these topics.
The best test of a theory is to make predictions and see if they are correct. Although we do not have a theory about the future of medicine, but rather a loosely connected set of assumptions and heuristics, we can exercise them in the same way by making predictions.
Here are our predictions for the next two hundred years:
2000: Most patient records will be computerized, therefore increasing the opportunities for diagnostic computer systems to improve patient care.
2050: Completely automated robotic surgery will be commonplace.
2100: Human cloning and downloading (the process of copying a person's mind into a computer) will be possible. People who are gravely ill will simply have their memories and cognitive architectures piped into copies of their bodies.
2150: The convergence of a variety of computer technologies will conspire to make human lifespans effectively infinite.
2200: People will no longer have macro-physical instantiations; they will be bits on a wire. Healing a person will have more in common with fixing a bug in a computer program than any other activity humans now engage in.
If these predictions turn out to be largely wrong, we suspect that this will be so because they are too conservative, not because they are exceedingly optimistic.
The predictions given in the previous section are expected to hold only if certain computational advances, some of which are being actively investigated and others of which are only gleams in the eyes of futurists, do not intervene. Here we enumerate three of them and discuss how they might change our predictions. All three of them have the property such that if they are made available to large fractions of the population, their development will constitute historical singularities in the development of the human race.
Artificial intelligence: The creation of an artificial intelligence, such as a thinking, conscious, free-willed electronic individual, will affect our basic notions about human evolution and progress, and will wreck any predictions made here. Indeed, humans in their present form may cease to exist and, therefore, any discussion of the role of computers in human medicine is moot.
Downloading: Downloading is a procedure which places the human mind and all its attendant effects in a computer. We expect this to happen by the year 2200, but if it happens sooner, then the timeline given in the previous section will be accelerated.
Nanotechnology: Drexler (1991) has for over ten years imagined small machines that could be injected into the human body to cure disease. These small machines could be specifically engineered to target particular foreign cells and avoid negative side effects in a way that is unimaginable with currently available techniques, such as gene therapy and biotechnology.
Several other non-computer technologies, including cryogenics and human cloning, might also deeply influence the practice of medicine.
Novel Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis
by Douglas Skrecky
I would here like to outline two treatments, one old and one new for rheumatoid arthritis (RH). Few doctors use these treatments, yet they both appear very promising. First the old: Oral supplementation of RH patients with 2 grams per day of calcium pantothenate over a period of 8 weeks reduced morning stiffness, pain and disability. Depressive symptoms, where present were found to be significantly relieved. Placebo had no effect.1 Now for the new: Oral supplementation with type II collagen for 3 months reduced the number of swollen and tender joints in RH patients relative to placebo. This effect is believed to derive from a reduction in autoimmune attack on collagen in joints via oral tolerance to same.2 This suggests that commercially available cartilage supplements might offer some benefit as these contain collagen.
Recommendations: Before considering toxic prescription RH drugs it may be worth trying calcium pantothenate and cartilage supplements first.
1 Calcium Pantothenate in Arthritic Conditions 208-211 Vol.224 February 1980 The Practitioner
2 Effects of Oral Administration of Type II Collagen on Rheumatoid Arthritis 1727-1730 Vol.261 September 24,1993 Science
by Yvan Bozzonetti
The basic form of vitamin C is the common ascorbic acid. Now, we find on the market an increasing number of "new" vitamin C forms: Calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate, buffered C with many minerals and so on...
Having tested them on myself, I have found a disturbing effect: They produce a rise in blood pressure and seem to impart the blood flow in small blood vessels. Turning back to ordinary ascorbic acid, everything get back to normal in 1 - 2 weeks. The worst effect was experienced with calcium ascorbate.
I assume that product allows too much calcium to enter in the cell, disturbing the Na-K pump and costing a lot of energy to the cell system to pump out the unwanted product. Cells could even burst if they can't cope with the calcium intake, that would create many microlesions in the artery wall.
On both, the practical test and the theoretical biochemical basis, some vitamin C compounds seem detrimental, this is particularly the case for calcium ascorbate
When a test on the life extension potency of vitamin C is reported, it would be of prime interest to know the exact vitamin form used, plain ascorbic acid and calcium ascorbate for example can give opposed results.
I think we have to be very cautious about vitamin C compounds, particularly about buffered C with calcium. Many formulas contain it and seem so potentially harmful. Some time ago, there was a paper by Douglas Skrecky about the bad side of vitamin C, it would be interesting to know the form used in the negative experiments described.
Today, the best choice seems to be plain ascorbic acid with grape seed extract (proantocyanidins) to extend its activity in the body.
Editorial comment - this is novel to me. Further comments from readers welcome.
by Yvan Bozzonetti.
Echinacea are flowering plants of the compositae family. They are well known in native north America cultures as "medicine herbs". There have been some articles in the past months about their properties. They are said to boost immune response, combat common cold and asthma. Before the discovery of sulffamids, they was the main tool at hand in many cases. There seems to be a renewed interest in that natural product, may be not much as a drug but a supplement food.
The simplest way to get it is to produce it! They make beautiful pot plants with attractive flowers, so why not try some seeds?
Chiltern Seeds,Bortree Stile, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 7PB ( Tel: (01229) 581137, Fax: (01229) 584549) has the following references:
490L Echinacea pallida L1.30
490B E. purpurea L1.12
490J E. purpurea "Brilliant Star" L1.28
That seems to be a life extension good spring idea for the garden... I'll tell more one year from now when I'll have a personal experience about that product. For now, I remain with vitamin D3 without calcium as my main immune system booster.
R.C.W. Ettinger, Cryonics Institute, Immortalist Society
Regardless of optimism or pessimism about chances in various circumstances, everyone agrees it is important to minimize delays in treatment of cryostasis patients. The Cryonics Institute sheep head work suggested that not just promptness of cooling, but also promptness of washout and perfusion, may be more important than the details of the procedures, within fairly broad limits. So how do we assure the best combination of minimum delay and optimum procedure?
Some organizations advocate and offer teams of professionals travelling to the site of death, preferably on standby before death occurs. One of the main problems with this is the very high cost - especially if there are long or repeated standbys and distant locations.
Another main problem is the inherent slowness of response to distant locations. Airline schedules alone can add many hours to the potential delays.
Some organizations, or their local auxiliaries, attempt to improve matters with teams of local volunteers or adjunct organizations at least to provide "stabilization" services. So far, the results of this do not seem impressive, and there is an inherent problem with volunteers and their competing personal priorities and work schedules.
The Cryonics Institute approach is to develop a network of cooperating morticians, equipped and trained for washout and perfusion in addition to their other functions. We believe this offers multiple benefits, and few if any irremediable drawbacks. In no particular order:
1. We have the benefits of working with recognized professionals in the "death" field, having the "establishment" on our side and thus bypassing many potential problems.
2. We have teams potentially available just about everywhere, who are professional yet do not have to depend on a high volume of cryostasis business for their livelihood.
3. These are people already with basic education and training in anatomy and surgery and simple types of perfusion. Their training and aptitude may not generally match those of surgeons or perfusionists--mortuary college standards are not as high as those of medical schools--but demands on them are also much narrower. To learn and practice any specific procedure--even a complex and precise one--does not require the breadth or depth of an M.D. surgeon. One might say that an M.D. (or D.O. or D.V.M.) surgeon is usually over-qualified for such work, while the mortician can be trained in it fairly readily.
4. Morticians can be hired for a small fraction of the going rates for physicians or perfusionists. Even repeated and extended standbys become relatively affordable when the help is local and non-medical. Morticians also have scales of help available--licensed funeral directors for surgery, students and apprentices as cheaper helpers, office people for the telephone and paper work. We merely have to adapt a network, not create one.
5. Morticians are much less likely to turn up unavailable owing to prior commitments or different priorities. They are used to calling in colleagues as fill-ins, and many of them have more blanks in their schedules than physicians.
6. CI has already had patients prepared in this manner, with apparently satisfactory results, although work still needs to be done to standardize evaluation of performance.
7. As opposed to the general reluctance of physicians, many morticians welcome this work as a challenge and a broadening of appeal and a chance to do something more significant. In England, CI paid for the first transport unit built by Barry Albin, and he has since built 4 more at his own volition and expense, as well as contributing heavily to public relations there with many media exposures. The fact that he himself is not a cryonicist more likely than not adds to his effectiveness, rather than detracting from it. It tends to show recognition and acceptance even by those not personally involved, a kind of ecumenism that tends to deflate hostility.
8. The outstanding question remaining in some minds will perhaps be this: When/if CI offers more complex procedures at higher cost, will the morticians measure up? Will it cost too much to train and equip them? We can't have wholly definitive answers yet, but I think the outlook is very positive.
Meanwhile, we already have in some locations, and (preferably with the help of local members) can obtain in many other locations, morticians with the ability to perform current CI procedures of washout and perfusion, in addition to other functions. In the coming year(s) we expect substantial expansion.
by Frederick Mann (Terra Libra)
Reprinted with permission from Terra Libra News, and slightly edited context
Something that has concerned me for some time is the apparent unconscious deathism I've observed among some people who aspire to immortalism.
By "deathism" I basically mean the belief that death is desirable or inevitable. Under "deathism" I include beliefs that are conducive to death, particularly psychological, economic, and political beliefs and orientations.
By "immortalism" I basically mean the belief that physical or biological immortality is possible and desirable. My "immortalism" includes taking active steps to achieve physical or biological immortality. These steps include: optimizing my diet, getting appropriate exercise, increasing my ability to use my mind in life-enhancing ways, linking up with other immortalists, furthering cryonics, making appropriate arrangements for cryonic suspension, and taking effective actions to remove obstacles to immortality.
Core Beliefs of Psychological Reversal
There are two basic beliefs most people suffer from, according to Robert Fritz:
1. A belief in personal powerlessness;
2. A belief in being worthless.
I indicated that these beliefs were at the root of psychological reversal. In Terra Libra report #TL13F (the sixth "millionaire" report), I referred to what psychologist Albert Ellis calls the "worthless-piece-of-shit" syndrome. In addition to having a deep-seated and pervasive experience of being powerless, many people also have a deep-seated belief in themselves as "worthless pieces of shit." Deep down they feel they don't deserve life, freedom, success, wealth, love, etc.
(By the way, when a human body dies and is buried -- rather than suspended cryonically -- it effectively becomes a "worthless piece of shit." Some eastern philosophers have remarked that it's a pity that so many people die without having lived.)
I've identified two more core beliefs of psychological reversal:
3. A belief in scarcity;
4. A belief in external control.
Such deep-seated core beliefs tend to have a pervasive influence on how people perceive themselves and the world, how they think, what actions they take, and the results they achieve. They're like tinted glasses that colour everything you see.
Psychological reversal is most reliably detected through the failure to produce the results we desire. Also, when people take actions that seem designed to produce the opposite results to those they espouse, we can be pretty sure they suffer from psychological reversal.
The belief in scarcity creates a "poverty-mentality." In report #TL13A (the first "millionaire" report), I indicate the tremendous abundance of resources we have available to us, and I refer to Buckminster Fuller's assertion that given all the resources we have, every man, woman, and child on earth should be a millionaire many times over.
I haven't read Jeremy Rifkin's The End of Work, but I have read some of his other writings, which led me to suspect that he suffers from the poverty-mentality. The notion that work is scarce is quite absurd. There are billions of humans on earth with unsatisfied needs and wants. Anyone with reasonably functioning hands and a brain can work at satisfying these needs and wants. The notion that anyone needs a "job" in order to work is also quite absurd -- it's also an aspect of the external-control belief ("slave-mentality").
Up to a certain age, children require external control in order to survive. In the absence of external control, they fall into swimming pools and drown or run into the street and are killed by cars. For an immature child, external control is how the world works. Part of growing up -- maturing -- is the development of self-control. Adults can think for themselves, control themselves. To the extent that people in adult bodies cannot exert self-control, they suffer from immaturity and psychological reversal.
The belief that adults must be externally controlled is also a denial of self-ownership and an acceptance of slavery -- the "slave-mentality." If you believe that others have the right to control you, you're essentially a slave.
If you believe in coercion - basically the use of force or threat to overwhelm the will of another -- you're essentially a slave or suffer from slave-mentality. Killing is an extreme form of coercion. Whether you can admit it or not, if you willingly grant others the right to coerce you, they will most likely assume they have the right to kill you.
People who believe in the draft or conscription, don't believe in self-ownership or self-control. They believe that government bureaucrats own their victims and have the right to force them into battle to kill or be killed. If you accept coercion in principle, it's difficult in practice to reject any particular form of coercion. The American political system was created on the basis that the government bureaucrats started having few and limited coercive powers. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were supposed to severely limit the coercive powers of government bureaucrats. But coercion was accepted in principle.
As soon as you accept the least form of coercion or external control, you've accepted the master-slave principle - slave-mentality. You're saying, "I'm not in charge of my life and property; my master is." This is psychological reversal.
Freedom and Life; Slavery and Death
To me, freedom is life and life is freedom. Slavery is a mild form of death. Death is the cessation of freedom. The belief in external control or coercion is a form of deathism.
When immortalists accept, advocate, or practice coercion or external control, they promote deathism. In both cases psychological reversal is involved.
Value Creation and Destruction
Coercion tends to destroy value; at least, it prevents the creation of value. In the absence of coercion and psychological reversal -- if more people were aware of the phenomena of coercion and psychological reversal -- we wouldn't have to concern ourselves about the rate of technological progress.
In the absence of coercion and psychological reversal, it's unlikely that there would be any economic problems. Every man, woman, and child on earth would be a millionaire many times over. Coercion is an external barrier between and individual and the plentiful resources available to us. It's also a barrier to the development and utilization of resources -- a barrier to technology. Psychological reversal is an internal barrier to the same.
The idea in Jeremy Rifkin's The End of Work of the "30hr week for 40hr wages" is based on both the false beliefs in scarcity and external control or coercion. People shouldn't decide among themselves how long they should work or how much to pay each other -- some external-control authority should decide. This is deathism in disguise.
"People working 30hr weeks should be discouraged from taking a second paid job....[T]he tax system could be used to penalize overtime or a second employment." Accepting any "tax system" is an acceptance of coercion and external control. If you grant others the right to take your property by force, can you prevent them from treating you as property? More deathism in disguise.
"I am not opposed to regulations making the workplace safer." (I'm assuming this refers to external regulation, rather than self-regulation.) If you grant others the right to regulate your workplace, you've accepted a master-slave relationship. You've relinquished self-control. More deathism in disguise.
The Terra Libra Approach
Rather than try to reform the severely psychologically-reversed establishment system, we simply create a new system based on psychological alignment. As we progress, it becomes easier and easier for people to shift into our free system.
In the absence of a small core of individuals, sufficiently psychologically aligned, Terra Libra would never have gotten off the ground. Our positive, psychologically-aligned approach does inspire some people to step out of the psychologically-reversed morass and do great things - like World Network Holdings and World Trade Clearinghouse.
As a result of our reaching out to more and more people -- and maybe the "hundredth-monkey" effect -- more individuals will start doing great things.
However, most people are too psychologically reversed to enter the world of Terra Libra. So we need to provide the means for them to become psychologically aligned. Fortunately this challenge is also an opportunity -- to make money by providing the products and services that will enable people to achieve their full potential. And, even more fortunately, some of these products and services are already being provided by people like Dr. Roger Callahan (1-800-359-CURE) and Michael Goldstein (1-800-IDENICS).
Transforming Yourself from a Loser into a Winner
In his most profound book How to Argue and Win Every Time, America's foremost trial lawyer -- who hasn't lost a criminal case in decades -- describes his transformation from a loser into a winner. This is also a metamorphosis from psychological reversal to psychological alignment. Mr. Spence used to lose case after case, to the point that he was in utter despair about his career. He writes as follows:
"Assuming the role of prey -- giving permission to be beaten: If losing is not a necessary part of my life, then why do I lose? Who gives permission to my opponents to beat me? Permission! I remember as a child being whipped by the bully on the block every day, until one day being whipped was no longer an acceptable way of life. Once I withdrew my permission for the bully to beat me up I was no longer beatable. The shift in the paradigm from one who granted permission to be beaten to one who withheld such permission was the magic. The power did not arise out of bolstering myself with false courage. I was still afraid. I did not deny my August failings as a young lawyer. I recognized that I lacked many skills, indeed, most skills of a competent trial lawyer. The power was in the single word: permission.
For there to be prey, the prey must agree to play the role of the prey. Once recognizing my power to give or withhold permission to be prey, I would never again give myself permission to play the role of the vanquished. It was that simple.
Something magically happened when I withdrew my permission to be beaten. How do I describe the changes that occurred? One does not see one's own expressions or observe the way one walks across the room. One cannot perceive accurately the effect one's energy imposes on others. I can only describe the phenomenon from the feedback of others. People perceived me differently. I looked different. I walked differently. The sound of my voice changed. I thought differently. My attitude, the attitude of a winner, became pervasive. I remember reassuring my client, "We will win. Do you know why? Because they have to kill me before they can get you, and they cannot kill me. They cannot kill me because I will never give them permission to kill me." The change permeated my being. An astounding metamorphosis occurred. I became a winner."
Let me also express my appreciation for the monthly articles [by John de Rivaz in Terra Libra News] on cryonics and immortalism. They've certainly strengthened my resolve to achieve biological or physical immortality. And I'm sure they've inspired quite a few others to become life-oriented, rather than resigned to death.
Mr. de Rivaz has also sent us many ideas, suggestions, and articles, for which I'm very thankful. Some of them have been implemented to make us more effective. His most recent message follows:
"I refer to the article "Now is the time to take your life into your own hands" by Frederick Mann in Terra Libra News #10. One of the headings is "Support of Government Bureaucrats is Dwindling." I would like to comment on another factor that re-enforces this viewpoint. That is the output of the film industry. When one watches old films on television and indeed old television series, the heroes often work for government agencies. A lot of this probably originates from wartime (WW2) propaganda. Such films were made by both sides, the Nazi ones being rather less subtle than the output from the Allies.
Much science fiction seems to be with a message that authority is good. With the possible exception of "Star Trek" this trend is also dwindling, although it is not quite dead. In the hugely popular "X-Files" the heroes work for a government agency, although they are very much on the fringes of it. Ironically it is the UK's government-owned British Broadcasting Corporation that broke the mold with its Dr. Who and Blake's 7 series. I expect most people have heard of these. Dr. Who concerns a time traveller who is at variance with the authorities of the world he came from, and Blake's 7 concerns some escaped prisoners from a Federation of planets which looks as though it started out as the USA. They find an abandoned alien space ship and somehow manage to pilot it around the universe undoing wrongs done by the Federation."
And don't forget "The Prisoner" series -- "I am not a number; I am a free man!"]
[Most of you have had TL flyers with Longevity Report. If you have thrown them out but now change your mind after reading this, please write for a replacement. -ed.]
by Don Ashley
Immortalist philosophy - Death is not inevitable.
Mortalist philosophy - Death is inevitable. (see last paragraph below)
Both are philosophies, not facts. Both have statistical (support).
For instance, humans have been on earth for thousands of years. Yet half of all the humans who have been on earth are still alive today. No one can ever prove to you that you will die. It is impossible. So why buy into it?
Why not experiment for a short time and try to visualize and experience the concept of living a healthy life for 250 years.
By then, with the scientific and technical and sociological advances that are indeed inevitable, profound benefits will be available to mankind that are not even imaginable today.
Letting go of dogmatic teachings that we are all to die can be liberating.
A new respect for one's own life and for the lives of others happens. The majority of life's daily "stress" evaporates and an appreciation of each moment fills one's senses.
It's interesting that each present moment becomes so much more alive and enjoyable when one can allow himself even for a short time to believe that he can outlive the proclaimed "human lifespan". It would seem like one would only concentrate on what would happen a century from now.
Driving a car becomes a privilege and enjoyable activity and we have new respect for each pedestrian we pass, watching them carefully so as not to hit them. As we actually get into seeing ourselves alive 200 years from now, we want others to survive also and not want to hit them with our vehicle if they step in front of us.
How does one describe a glass with fluid at mid level... half full or half empty.
It can be very difficult to establish an immortalist philosophy with so much traditional teaching and such biased media.
There are advantages to examining and understanding the immortalist philosophy.
The immortalist philosophy does not assume an invisible shield against trauma or self-destructive lifestyles of dangerous driving and lazy, overconsumptive lifestyles of excess or deprivation.
When one embraces immortalist philosophy, he values his physical, mental and emotional state and takes constructive care of himself and loved ones and community. He has compassion and understanding of various beliefs. With immortalist philosophy each present moment can be (infinite). The concept of time itself becomes different. A leaf and a piece of gravel take on new importance.
Immortalist philosophy is not contingent on scientific advances in ageing and genetic research. The immortalist does, however, encourage and support positive efforts in science and each year more and more evidence of a factual nature tends to support the contention that we may be able to experience another 100 years.
Why not a Straight Freeze
by Steve Bridge (Alcor Life Extension Foundation)
Cryonics organisations are often asked the following: Why won't the cryonics groups offer the option of simply plunging bodies into liquid nitrogen - it would be very much cheaper. Would a straight freeze indeed be a "viable" option; i.e., would it preserve identity for future revival?
The answers are still the same, from my point of view (and I think my view is still largely the same as the majority view on Alcor's Board, although new information in the future could change our minds).
Cryonics groups don't offer this as a standard option because it seems less likely to work. Even the best cryonic suspension cannot be proven to preserve individual identity. However, the research that has been done so far, both in cryonics and in cryobiology, seems to indicate that preservation with cryoprotectants preserves tissue structure markedly better than straight freezing. (Others here are more able than I to discuss the details of this research.)
We cannot yet quantify the differences in the approaches. We cannot say that cryoprotectants allow us to preserve 5 times more structure or 100 times more structure. And we cannot even definitively state which structures are best preserved with cryoprotection, although work is moving forward on that answer. However, it is pretty clear that cryoprotected tissue looks better after freezing than unprotected tissue does.
So when we compare these two methods, we are left with several possible outcomes:
1. Cryoprotected frozen brains retain enough identity-critical structure to revive individuals; but straight frozen brains do not.
2. Cryoprotected frozen brains retain enough identity-critical structure to revive individuals; however, straight frozen brains lose some portion of identity-critical so that individuals can be revived, but changed in some important way or with partial "amnesia."
3. Cryoprotection does not matter: both cryoprotected frozen brains and straight frozen brains retain *enough* identity-critical structure to revive individuals.
4. Cryoprotection does not matter: neither cryoprotected frozen brains nor straight frozen brains retain enough identity-critical structure to revive individuals.
5. Because of some as-yet unnoticed effect of glycerol or other cryoprotectants on brain tissue, straight frozen brains retain enough identity-critical structure to revive individuals (in whole or in part); but cryoprotected frozen brains do not, even though it is clear in general that cryoprotected cells survive better than straight frozen ones.
This simple recitation of possible outcomes makes it sound like these outcomes are equally possible; but they are not. Enough research has been done on frozen tissue over the last four decades for us to be very confident that more cells survive freezing with cryoprotection than without, and that the damage done by adding cryoprotectant is less than the damage done by straight freezing.
Therefore, we try to look at these odds and come up with a protocol that is more likely to result in preservation of information. Now, if one of Alcor's Suspension Members is found in such a condition that cryoprotectant perfusion is not possible (because of clot blockage of vessels, injury or autopsy severe enough to make perfusion impossible, or severe time delay), do we straight freeze their brain or do we bury them? Of course, we straight freeze their brains because that is the conservative thing to do. It is the last ditch procedure for what is still pretty much a last ditch effort anyway.
Does this cost Alcor less? Yes, but perhaps only about $15,000 less. Transport and cool-down and long-term suspension expenses will be nearly the same. Legal expenses may be more in some autopsy cases. And, from another point of view, perhaps MORE funding would be needed for the recovery of a straight-frozen patient. If more damage is in fact done by the time-delay, clotting, injury, and absence of cryoprotectant, it may turn out to be more expensive to repair this person's brain and to give him the intelligence and knowledge to succeed in that future society.
So (the $50,000 question), why not offer "straight-frozen brain" as an option for a lower price? There are three issues intertwined here: ethical business practice, informed consent, and public perception.
There is nothing wrong with an automobile manufacturer offering a choice of differently priced automobiles. General Motors offers cars from a Cadillac for $40,000 with more comfort and luxury touches, greater passenger capacity, and greater safety down to a sub-compact car for $10,000 that may bounce more, hold fewer people and luggage, and be more likely to kill passengers in a wreck. Both, however, will get you where you're going, as long as you don't have a wreck.
However, would it be ethical for a car company to offer for sale a new car for $4,000 which may or may not come with an engine; and if you get lucky and get an engine, it may or may not run for a month or a year? Perhaps in the most extreme use of "ethical" this deal would be so, as long as you properly informed the customer that this car might not work, that they might actually get no benefit from it, and they might not be able to re-sell it. But if you then advertised this car as the "low-cost option" in automobiles for people who couldn't afford a real car, would THAT be ethical, no matter how well you informed the customer?
I would say no.
This analogy breaks down here, since I can't come up with a decent emergency scenario that would allow a car company to take the $40,000 for the Cadillac and then be forced to give the guy the $4,000 risky special instead. And today we can't guarantee that even our "Cadillac" has an engine. But I hope the point is still clear. Even with fully informed consent (which is often damn difficult to be sure of in cryonics), is it ethical to offer such a poor option for sale? Alcor has not thought it was so in the past, so we have not offered it.
Finally, the issue of public perception is extremely important to cryonics. Our image with physicians, scientists, and the press has improved significantly in the last decade. This is largely due to the growing understanding that we try to do our best for the patients, not our least. As much as is economically feasible, we use medical procedures that seem to be relevant to preservation. We are trying to improve those procedures all of the time.
To my mind, offering the straight freeze as a standard option, rather than "it was the best we could do under unexpected circumstances," would tell the public that we are only interested in getting people's money at any cost and that we are unconcerned about the condition or recoverability of our patients. Maybe some day that suggestion wouldn't matter, if cryonics is just seen as a normal business. Perhaps there IS a market out there for a company that will offer a no-guarantees, no frills suspension with the full information that current research suggests that such an option is less likely to succeed. But that company is not Alcor and I suspect that time is not now.
Prospects of Revival
by Brian Wowk (Cryocare)
In general I am very optimistic about the long-term technical prospects for revival of cryonics patients. As a physicist, I see no basic obstacles to eventually developing technologies capable of general analysis and repair on the molecular level. It's entirely foreseeable that eventually medicine will be able to "reconstruct" and restore healthy function to patients suffering essentially any injury, as long as some trace of their body can be found. (The only way to definitively kill someone in the 23rd century may be to vaporize them.) The central question of future medicine will not be, "Can we heal and revive them?" Instead it will be, "How much of the memory and personality of the original person can we recover in the restored patient?" This will be the question faced by cryonics patients who make it to that era. I personally find this question very intriguing, and believe it extremely unlikely (in most cases) that the answer will be "NONE."
Having made that statement of great optimism, I will now tell what I think of people who believe that today's cryonics patients are coming back in only 50 years: They are living in a demented fantasy world. There is a big difference between having capabilities for sophisticated molecular manipulation, and understanding how to apply those capabilities to complex biological problems (at least a 100 year difference IMHO). The box shows what I think medicine will be like in 50 years:
The problem with aging is that it is the result of millions of years worth of deleterious mutations accumulating in our genome that were never selected against because historically people never lived long enough to suffer from them (they were eaten by other animals first). Rewriting the human genome into one permitting an indefinite lifespan is going to be a VERY LONG (often trial-and-error) process, Nanotechnology notwithstanding. So eat your wheaties, take your vitamins, make your cryonics arrangements and hang on: It's going to be a mighty rough ride.
The Medical Self-Care Certificate:
A modest proposal for
by Bob Chapel, MSW, RN
Scarcely a day goes by that we don't hear something about the Health Care crisis in America. Perhaps it's time to recognize that the "crisis" is not in health care per-se but rather in the health care industry. Obviously the skill, man/woman power and technology exists to provide Americans with quality health care. The larger question seeking resolution is how do we provide these services and keep it sufficiently profitable for those individuals who rely on this industry for their livelihoods.
Proposed solutions are legion but, as with so many other thorny problems, agreed conclusions are noticeable by their absence. As an individual of decidedly libertarian persuasion, I have always been perplexed at the average American's lack of concern at having his/her bodily health held hostage by a profit making industry.
The essential absurdity of a profit oriented industry implementing laws "for our own protection" appears to elude even the most educated among us, I recall, as a naïve 19 yr old just learning about blood components, walking into a blood lab and asking to have my blood drawn and analysed. I was truly flabbergasted to learn that I did not have the LEGAL right to have my OWN blood analysed without an MD's prescription. To this day the logic eludes me.
I have learned, however, over the years that whenever something appears to make no sense at all to look for the financial incentive. We need not look to far. I was told, of course, that it was for my own safety and protection. Perhaps they thought I would misuse the information, maybe go around bragging about my low LDL'S or posting my creatinine in the local papers. I don't know.
Rather than restate the obvious, let me get to the point of this "modest proposal" local medical self-care centres accessed by individuals possessing a valid "medical self-care certificate". This certificate could be earned by obtaining a satisfactory grade on a self-care exam that tests knowledge in medical/biological areas such as disease processes, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, treatment planning etc. Licensed health care professionals required by their training to take these courses could possibly be exempted. There would be no formal schooling required to sit for this exam so as not to exclude those individuals who, because of job, family or monetary restraints would be unable to undertake such a course of study. The only requirement would be to acquire a knowledge base (by whatever means) to establish that you are capable of making an informed judgement about your medical needs such that you know the "whens" and "hows" of self-care and when you require the ministrations of an experienced medical professional.
What I have in mind here is not so much intended to undermine the medical profession as to stimulate a new form of thinking about personal responsibility for ones bodily/mental health. It is clear that without benefit of any form of biological education many thousands of American citizens are, today, self treating with vitamins, herbs, homeopathic remedies and other "alternatives" to traditional medicine. Worse still, we are all acquainted with individuals who themselves have never finished the anti-biotic prescription offered by their own MD only to offer the insufficient remainder to a friend or relative suffering from a "seemingly" similar malady.
The historical response of the medical community to these forms of "self" care has been to repeatedly push legislation that would put therapeutic doses of vitamins and botanicals outside the reach of the average citizen and, in the case of antimicrobials, to create newer and more expensive (though often less effective) pharmaceuticals to stem the tide of resistant organisms. At best this is ineffective and ill-advised, at worst immoral.
It is clear that a large percentage of American citizens want a measure of personal control over their own health. What I propose is to provide them the opportunity to make a personal choice between informed self-care or the services of a practising medical professional. The means by which the proposal elaborated above could be operationalized are legion. I won't here address this issue because
1) There ARE countless ways this might be approached and
2) the concept itself must first be internalized as a viable option before the former could ever be addressed.
What is required first is a literal "sea change" in the values we hold related to the manner in which health care is provided in the U.S. and who is best qualified to provide it. The current "medical monopoly" has much to offer and this proposal in no way seeks to eliminate their profession. If adopted, however, they might have to try a little harder to demonstrate their value as opposed their present privileged status as "the only game in town".
The Journey of the Pussyfoot? - surely not. This is where Cryonics Institute member Chrissie Loveday spent her holidays in 1995.
The state of medicine
by Mike Darwin
Several people have recently sent private messages to me asking if what they are hearing about the state of medicine in the US and Canada in books and press are true; in particular relating to loss of physician and patient autonomy, degradation of the doctor-patient relationship, overwork to the point of life threatening complications in treated patients, chronic understaffing and arbitrary decisions to use NON equivalent drugs which result in severe management problems, inadequate control of pain and life threatening agitation.
I have responded privately to these people saying that it IS true that these problems are widespread and giving a personal (seat of the pants) estimate that they effect about 60-70% of US hospitals. Many more in Canada.
I think this article is of some relevance to this list for the following reasons:
1) TWO of the cryonics cases I have done in the last year involved gross incompetence beyond anything in my experience. In one case a child who could have expected at least 6 months more of quality life was killed right in front of her parents when and undertrained (and no doubt overworked) resident gave her an IV dose of morphine which would have been appropriate for a LARGE adult, not once but twice during a minor procedure.
2) The second case involved a mother in her early 30's who died intraoperatively from a procedure that carries a less than 1% mortality from misdiagnosis and surgical-medical mismanagement of a pretty coarse nature.
3) A friend and colleague of mine, in my considered opinion, died an iatrogenic death which was again, in my opinion (and other independent 3rd parties with good medical credentials who reviewed the case) due to gross negligence and lack of proper post operative follow-up and care. This case should be of more relevance to you reading this newsletter because the individual was a cryonicist with many years of productive life left.
4) I am in contact with some of the best medical people in the country and participate in a number of medical forums on the Internet. Just in the last year these usually highly technical forums have shifted emphasis such at a good 20 to 50% of all traffic involves issues of iatrogenic problems, anger over bureaucrats, horror stories on cost control, and so on.
5) Two of the four terminal cryonics cases I have now have involved horrible (1 case) to poor (second case) medical care which was corrected by our Medical Director Dr. Harris and in one case by Dr. Harris in consultation with one of the best critical care and pain management experts in the country who flew out at his own expense to consult on the case.
Leaving aside the question of whether the profession as a whole DESERVES these problems from their prior bad behaviour, there remains the issue of whether YOU and I deserve them and of far more relevance, whether we are aware they even exist.
On Prices and Pricing
by John Javilk
(ed note: The following appeared on Internet's Longevity mailing list after some discussion about a television advertised telephone based service offering health books by mail.)
A couple of months ago, I saw a CHEAP PAPERBACK book in one of the national book store chains (Crown's, I think,) that had all the information in it! And if this bozo on TV is the same one I think he is, some of the stuff he said on TV does not make much sense. As I said on another mailing list...
If the person is charging a LOT of money, he is not doing you a favour. He is into making money, not helping people. Part of the con, is the high price. With a high price, many people think it HAS to be good, or the con man would not be able to get away with charging such high prices. They also can't admit they were taken for so much money, so they HAVE to believe it works! And with that, they often start verbally justifying themselves and their decisions by advocating the product themselves. It's the same thing so me people do when they talk about their Wonderful new cars. Remember the old story "The Emperor's New Clothes"? Part of that con was the high price. Don't fall for it.
(That's why I drive old cars. The price falls about six years out when the banks stop loaning money on used cars. Total operating cost for those older cars can be Quite a lot lower --
IF you choose well and do the maintenance. You know, a good mechanic knows more about how cars work, than your doctor knows about how your body works... Kind of makes you wonder... I know I have a good mechanic. I think I have a good doctor... They are both willing to explain what they need to do and why. I can understand them both because I take the time to ask questions till I do understand, and do a little background reading to make sure it all makes sense. That's not so important for the car, which I can replace; but the body... (Chuckle,) You end up loosing most of the memories when it goes back for that "factory servicing", and then you end up spending another sixteen years learning to use it again. (Laughing) Though I suspect it really takes more like forty years, not sixteen.)
However... Sometimes the high price is justifiable, and worth it. You have to ask questions. If they don't answer, or the answers don't make a lot of sense, look elsewhere!
And sometimes, the surveys and double blind experiments are rigged so that Orthodox Medicine (Inc.) wins. That's the case with some of the experiments I saw regarding Chelation -- Big Medicine loaded the mix with enough heavy minerals to use up all the disodium EDTA. You have to read between the lines. There are charlatans and con men sitting on both sides of the fence, under the fence, and maybe even masquerading as fence posts!
I've had chelation with heavy doses of ascorbates, it helped me with allergies and energy, and made me feel younger. I know of others who were helped, and some who were not helped. Then again, I've also seen some eat cottage cheese sandwiches and cheese while taking the chelation therapy! I mean, once that high calcium meal hits the blood stream, it will immediately use up all that stuff you are paying to pour into your veins! You have to use your head, to be curious, suspicious, and yet somewhat adventurous. Where you draw the line is up to you, but at least recognize that you are drawing lines. Draw the lines yourself, don't let others draw them for you.
Reviewed by Doug Skrecky
Recently world renowned life extension researcher Thomas Donaldson has published a book entitled "A Guide to AntiAging Drugs". In it is a wealth of information every life extensionist is going to want to know. Unlike Pearson & Shaw, Thomas takes a refreshing and very hard nosed look at proposed life extending nutrients. Instead of waving his hands in the air and spouting a mixture of science fact and science fiction Thomas gets down to the brass tacks with a pragmatic test. Has supplement X actually extended the average lifespan of a group of healthy mammals? If it hasn't it is not considered any further! Mammals are specified because many drugs can increase the lifespan of insects for example, but show no signs of doing so in mammals. Healthy animals are also required as short lived ones might live longer just because their illness is cured. Does vitamin B5 pass the lifespan test? You could take a look at the December 1958 issue of "Proceedings of the Society for Experiment Biology and Medicine" or look at chapter 4. Does vitamin C work? - check out appendix 4. What's the scoop on antioxidants, procaine, deanol, deprenyl, melatonin, chromium and many others? Ha, you'll have to buy the book.
A Guide to AntiAging Drugs can be purchased from:
Thomas Donaldson PhD
80-Q N. Cabrillo Hwy, #247
Half Moon Bay, CA USA 94019
Longevity Books has two copies for re-sale to UK readers for 15 each post free.
Click arrow to get back to main contents page.