ISSN 0964-5659

LONGEVITY REPORT 74

The Newsletter of Longevity Books, West Towan House, Porthtowan, Truro, Cornwall TR4 8AX

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But Will They Do It If We Don't? Steve Bridge

Religious Authority and Cryonics "Shiva"

Pure Intelligence John K Clark

What Science Can Achieve Thomas Donaldson

The Purpose of Life Robert Ettinger

Complete List of Non-CR Experiments Brian Manning Delaney

War is a Disease Roger L. Bagula

Opting out of Autopsies Dr Ivan Robinson, H. Wayne Logsdon, Zonggao Shi, Jeffrey Soreff, Jonathan W Hendry, David Lloyd-Jones, Shiva, Sue Smith and others

Contents are provided for information only, under the right to free speech. Opinions are the authors' own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country.

Volume 12 no 74. First published November 1999. ISSN 0964-5659.


But Will They Do It If We Don't?

by Steve Bridge <72320.1642@compuserve.com>

This is a reply to George Smith's article in the previous Longevity Report If We Don't Do It, Who Will?

1. Current cryopreservation research efforts might be necessary or might not. "It is too soon to be certain."

2. Future developments in medicine and nanotechnology will almost certainly make even straight freeze patients recoverable; but maybe not. "It is too soon to be certain."

3. Therefore, today the best choice is to sit on our butts, let others do the research (even though no one else in the world seems to give a damn about the particular problem we are concerned about), and hope that somehow all will go well in the future.

It's a comfortable philosophy. Cheap. Leaves plenty of time for typing opinions on CryoNet. No one has to leave his home or do any real work. Not terribly *realistic*, of course; but then, what the heck? We're cryonicists; what do we know about reality?

Unfortunately, it is entirely possible that those anonymous executives at those giant medical research companies out there won't ever care about the lives of those cryonicists currently alive, and maybe not EVER care about ANYONE except their bankers.

It is also entirely possible -- many here would even say "likely"-- that straight freezings or poor freezings of human today cause enough damage to make future repair of the individual's memories and personality difficult or impossible.

So we have at least five basic possibilities for this future (with multiple variations):

1. Group A (21st C.M. group) finds the answer to placing patients into stasis and reviving them.

2. Group B (the Big Boys) finds the answer to placing patients into stasis and reviving them.

3. Both find the answer but only one finds it in time to help today's cryonics members.

4. One finds the answer but only because of clues (and possibly financial success) generated by the other.

5. Neither finds the answer. No one gets revived.

Remember, everyone, this is a TWO-step problem. If you are frozen in such a way that your memories and personality are lost (beyond whatever your genetic structure gave you and what can be pieced together from your CryoNet posts - overly simplified, I know), then no nanotechnological geniuses will do anything more than produce a clone of you. Interesting, but not what I'm in cryonics for. And we don't even know yet WHAT part of you is the "essential stuff," so we can't test to see what is "good enough."

No one today but cryonicists are working on Step One.

It looks to me from the five possibilities above that four require that BOTH Group A and B work on the problem. Like you say, we can't predict the future and we don't know who will find the answers. As others have said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." So we work on making the future into what we want.

Since the Big Boys are not even thinking about the specific problems we are concerned with right now, it only makes sense to support those who are. A bird in the hand is worth a lot more than two in the bush - and the bush looks pretty darn empty right now.

When faced with a problem that affects your survival, you can choose to sit there and trust in God (or Nanotechnology or the Medical Industry or "our Friends in the Future") to make everything work. Or you can do everything possible yourself to make it work - and make it work soon enough to help YOU.

If George is right and the Giants of Medicine solve the problems for us, then perhaps you have lost some time you might have spent typing on CryoNet.

If George is wrong and the Giants of Medicine never get around to solving the problems - and we could have solved them ourselves - then you will have lost the Future. And even wasted the time you spent typing on CryoNet.

I think the proper aphorism here might be "God (or Nanotechnology or the Medical Industry or "our Friends in the Future") helps those who help themselves."


Religious Authority and Cryonics

by "Shiva" <shiva@cheqnet.net>

"Shiva" is a certified clinical psychologist, a priest of the Woodlands Nations of North America and holds a degree in theology from a Catholic university.

Editorial note: I asked Shiva to comment on some posts made on the Internet newsgroup sci.cryonics, and received this in reply:

Now, as for posts which raise theological questions, you must remember that most of them are made by people who are not theologians but, rather, people who deem themselves to have some great understanding of Judeo-Christian dogma. One of the more entertaining of these was, of course, the woman who was always condemning you all as being somehow evil or wanting to accomplish something "God" had forbidden in some way. How and when God did this was apparently manisfest to her but certainly would not be to an appologist of, say, the Roman Catholic Church.

Within the Judeo-Christian belief structure (if one disregards all the small, self-styled, "Christian" churches which abound in the Western Hemisphere) there is only ONE place where one might point, in an effort to say God is against cryonics. In the Old Testament BOOK OF JOB you will find that Job believed God desired that he bury the dead. Well, maybe God did speak to Job about burying the dead. Maybe God cared about the general health of the living and told Job to bury the dead because of that interest.

In older writings, the Jews were forbidden to eat certain kinds of shellfish. That, too, may have come from God. God was probably already a pretty smart fella and knew the dangers of un-refrigerated shellfish.

The point is, any SERIOUS theologian will be hard put to justify any claim that cryonics somehow manages to violate the will of the Judeo-Christian God. The people who make postings to sci.cryonics that claim there is something ungodly about the pursuit of cryonic preservation and re-animation are not knowledgeable about the god they claim.

Do not misunderstand me here! I do not say there are not men (or women, for that matter) of great authority within the heirarchies of the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox, the Church of England or any number of "Protestant" religions who could not point to some other "authority" and say, "cryonics is evil." Their problem is simply that from the end of that part of the BOOK OF ACTS which was written in Jerusalem, there are no acceptable authorities within the Judeo-Christian history. The writings of John on the Island of Patmos can be taken as authoritative but he didn't say anything about cryonics. All the confusion and contradictions begin with the writings of Saul of Tarsis, who became known as Paul.

You may search the Old Testament books until you are blue in the face and you will find only Job's belief in the burying of the dead. You may repeat the "Ten Commandments" until hell freezeth over and find no admonition against cryonic preservation or re-animation. Jesus himself reportedly called Lazarus out of a tomb and none of the Four Evangelists so much as bat an eye about it. Among those who call themselves Christian, even appealing to the BOOK OF JOB is a contradiction. Jesus of Nazareth's own followers did not bury him; they laid him in a tomb hewn from rock.


Pure Intelligence

by John K Clark jonkc@att.net

Is something that has intelligence, and only intelligence, possible? The answer is clearly no, that's why evolution never came up with such a thing.

The fact is that the emotion creating mechanism must be much simpler than the intelligence creating one, that's why lots of drugs can make you feel almost any emotion you care to name but no known drug will make you smarter, you'd need more than one small molecule to do something that complex. The fossil record tells us the same thing, animals have had emotion for about 500 million years but intelligence for only about one million.

It would make an interesting exercise in sociology to figure out how the myth got started that emotions are what distinguish humans from everything else and are almost mystical, certainly much more difficult to produce than intelligence. Although it existed before TV I think Star Trek and the entire Mr. Spock unemotional nonsense had a lot to do with popularizing this silly idea.


What Science Can Achieve

Thomas Donaldson <tdonald@hubble.dialix.com.au>

Scientific research can achieve many things. The order (and even the list of things it achieves) depends not simply on the laws of the universe (aside from human beings) but on the society which supports that scientific research.

This is why the USSR did so well in physics, math, and other such sciences, and completely failed to make significant advances in biotechnology (unless you include the breeding of virulent viruses as bio-weapons). It's also why the Romans, the Greeks, and even the Chinese (who were for a while much more advanced than any other civilization on Earth) failed to carry through to industrialization. Why would the Greeks and Romans bother when they had so many slaves to do their bidding? And the main driver of Chinese society was their governmental bureaucracy: any science they did they did as a sideline.

As for nanotechnology, as I read about actual attempts to do things at that scale (I'm NOT talking about theory here --- theory alone gets us nowhere --- but actual working devices), I also note that the main focus of such activities by our society at large isn't in doing any kind of medical repair at all, but at making better computers (and overcoming the imminent failure of silicon to serve as a suitable substrate for fast enough computers).

Contemporary society in Europe and the US does have at least one blind spot, and immortality lies at the centre of that blind spot. It may very well have others that we'll discover with time and thought (I will not waste time here giving other such spots). And that blind spot means that we simply CANNOT assume that the scientific advances we need will be achieved by people other than cryonicists and immortalists. Yes, it's conceivable that we will CONVERT our society to our point of view, and THEN achieve the needed advances. But that seems unlikely unless we get further along in achieving them ourselves.


The Purpose of Life

by Robert Ettinger Ettinger@aol.com

A couple of days ago Mike Perry mentioned something I once wrote, that "The purpose of life is to discover the purpose of life." That wasn't a very shrewd observation on my part, although true in a certain sense--the intellectual goal is to learn everything knowable about ourselves and the universe. English and other contemporary languages are often ill suited to clear expression, and "purpose" can mean many things. However, the "purpose" or goal of life in the most basic or general sense is just to maximize pleasure or satisfaction or feel-good, and to minimize or eliminate pain or dissatisfaction or feel-bad, over future time. How to accomplish this most efficiently depends on biological knowledge we don't yet have, and on application of decision theory beyond the capabilities of most people. It could also be profoundly affected by possibilities dimly perceived, such as remote links between different brains and different times. All you can do, at a given moment, is apply your best information and analysis, which will often coincide with common sense. You bets your money and you takes your chances. To maximize feel-good (or to accomplish anything at all in the future) you must first survive (again disregarding certain esoteric remote possibilities). Death (oblivion or non-existence) is not to be feared, since dead people don't suffer; but, as the old saw goes, dead people don't enjoy life much either, and it is common sense to try to keep your options open. Survival is the condition precedent to every other potential achievement. The only circumstances in which it would make sense to accept death would be a reasoned calculation that your future would otherwise entail a preponderance of pain over pleasure--or else a reasoned calculation that the future "expected gain" of success is outweighed by the present cost of the effort, which is essentially the same thing. No such reasoned calculation seems possible to me, so it never makes sense to accept oblivion. Cryonics basically is just common sense applied to the question of improving your chance of survival, and the chances of those you love. The cost can be so low that prudence simply does not allow rejection.

Scott Badger suggested that we are free to create or assign meaning to our lives, and this has merit in the sense of rejecting the notion that some outside or "higher" "purpose" exists. But it does not really address the central question, which is

What ought one to do?

It is tempting-and many have succumbed to this temptation-to shrug and say that "ought" is arbitrary and beyond the purview of objective investigation or validation. My claim is that one can, rather, build a rigorous value system, which is centered on the self but nevertheless objective and not in any sense arbitrary. The basic tools are biology (including physics) and logic.

Naturally we must be extremely careful with words. "Values" and "goals" and "ends" and "means" and "purpose" and "right"-among many others-all have shifting meanings from time to time, person to person, and from one context to another. How to pin down language effectively can only develop gradually in the course of the investigation. Your most basic want or need or value is feel-good (including, of course, the avoidance of feel-bad). But it is easy to become confused and discouraged when you try to go further. The ancient hedonists quickly lost favor, not because of any fundamental error, but because they could only apply their idea in an unrealistically simplistic way; they lacked the tools of biology and mathematics.

Likewise, if someone attempts to develop the notion of feel-good as the foundation of value, he is likely quickly to become discouraged. After all, he might note, eating makes us feel good-but only temporarily. The same is true of many drives, for obvious (and sometimes not so obvious) utilitarian reasons. On the other hand, when rats were allowed to push buttons to stimulate their sexual pleasure centers via electrodes in the brain, they reportedly would keep it up until exhaustion. On the third hand, many things that make us feel good temporarily are bad for us in the longer run. On the fourth hand, many things that make us feel good in one way make us feel bad in another way. On the fifth hand, the degree of importance we assign to a goal does not seem well correlated with intensity of feeling; for example, many are more motivated by duty than by sensuality, even though the feelings involved in the latter may seem more intense. On the sixth hand, we are often more motivated by "intellectual" pleasures (including music?) than "fleshly" ones. But all this frustration is only a challenge, not a dead end.

The world is not random, because "randomness" ultimately is not a meaningful concept. Choices have consequences, and our mentation is understandable. What you "ought" to do means what you will do in light of the fullest available understanding of the world, yourself, and your situation. The "best" choices will only become apparent to those best equipped to investigate and calculate. The scientific attitude, and only that, is applicable to all areas of life and thought. (This does not mean that you always have to wear a lab jacket or frown a lot or never take a vacation from worry.) This is an unwelcome message, perhaps, and some who reject it now will luck out, but don't count on it.


Complete List of Non-CR Experiments Showing

An Increase in Maximum Life

by Brian Manning Delaney <bdelaney@infinitefaculty.org>

Calorie restriction, I contend, is currently the only appreciably effective life-extension regimen with good evidence behind it (others might add cryonics here too, where "evidence" would mean more than merely empirical evidence). Personally, I'm willing to put up with the hassles of being on CR for now; but when a newer, equally effective means of life-extension is available, I'll happily bag CR. Likewise, when a _currently_ available, non-CR, putatively effective life-extension regimen garners sufficient scientific support to enable us to scratch the "putatively," I'll bag CR. One question, then, is what to make of the handful of existing studies that purport to show a slowing of aging -- albeit a small slowing of aging -- by means of something other than CR.

After raising some of these points on Cryonet many months ago, I got an interesting, challenging response from Thomas Donaldson. (A quasi-summary post is here:

http://www.cryonet.org/archive/10663 . Follow-ups should be easy to find.)

The main question that was under discussion is whether, in fact, there are any well-conducted, repeatable (shown by having been repeated) studies demonstrating an anti-aging effect of something other than Calorie restriction. Donaldson suggested that there were. I disagreed. He encouraged me to take a closer look at some of the studies I hadn't read in a long time (including some that actually haven't been repeated, but were nonetheless intriguing), to verify, among other things, that my claims that they weren't well-conducted were justifiable. To give the "CR isn't currently the only way to go" thesis a run for its money, I thought it would be worthwhile to get together a list of ALL the non-CR studies claiming to have shown an increase in maximum life span, then examine all of them (which is to say: I'm STILL not ready to respond to Donaldson's request! -- sorry; can't be avoided). Such a list may already exist somewhere on the Web; I looked but couldn't find it. Thus, I'm wondering if people could help fill in the blanks in the list below, including those studies referred to in parentheses, or point me to a list of such experiments, if it exists. (Some of the blanks below I could fill in myself, especially the melatonin studies; I just got burned out while trying to finish the list, and decided that I should wait until I'm certain such a list doesn't already exist.)

The criteria for the studies are:

1) The authors claim to have produced an increase in maximum (not merely average) life span.

2) The studies were published in peer-reviewed publications (non-published conference talks don't count).

[The second question at issue in the Cryonet discussion -- whether Donaldson's claim that CR studies themselves are not sufficiently oriented towards discovering the mechanism behind its mode of action -- I will leave for later (and will likely never get to, interesting though the question be). In brief: I disagree. CR studies are mostly moving towards a basic science orientation, which is the right way to discover CR's mechanism, however much any one study will generally not have global implications.]

Below is what I have so far. Some of these may not meet the above criteria, but it's been claimed by people who seem to know what they're talking about that they do. In the case of studies of a substance/regimen that meets the above criteria, I'd also like to get studies that are negative on the substance/regimen.

If anyone has additions, please add them. I'll post the whole list again after I get some additions. (And then after my next trip to the medical library, I'll post the list with commentary, will add any other experiments I find, and will remove those that don't belong.)

I suggest that people who have additions post them to Sci.life-extension, so that others will know that the effort of finding particular studies has been done. It's not necessary to use the format I've used below, though it would be helpful (the URLs are to the PubMed entries, citation format, with abstracts, where available).

And if such a list already exists somewhere on the Web, please post the URL.

When the list is complete, and the studies are assessed, then examining these questions will be possible:

1) Of those studies which look good but haven't been repeated, is it that attempts to repeat the study have been tried, and weren't successful (and it wasn't published, because negative findings often aren't published)? Or is it simply that the funding or motivation hasn't been there (because of "orphan" or similar status, for example)?

2) If it's reasonable to conclude that there are no drugs/regimens other than CR that can slow aging appreciably (by as much as CR, or close), what's a reasonable estimate of the date at which such regimens will be available? And

3) How does the assessed date of the beginning of the post-CR era affect one's decision to go on CR now? (The big question, for me.)

Thanks much! Brian. -- Brian Manning Delaney If you feel you must respond by email, please send the email here: <le_expts@infinitefaculty.org > http://www.infinitefaculty.org/sci/cr.htm

<> CoQ10. Mech Ageing Dev 1978 Mar;7(3):189-97 Immunological senescence in mice and its reversal by coenzyme Q10. Bliznakov EG UI: 78090829

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=304510&Dopt=r

<> HGH. Mech Ageing Dev 1991 Jan;57(1):87-100 Effects of long-term, low-dose growth hormone therapy on immune function and life expectancy of mice. Khansari DN, Gustad T UI: 91163156

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=2002700&Dopt=r

<> Dilantin. Gerontology 1980;26(5):241-6 Effect of treatment with phenformin, diphenylhydantoin or L-dopa on life span and tumour incidence in C3H/Sn mice. Dilman VM, Anisimov VN UI: 80225773

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=7390164&Dopt=r

<> DNA/RNA injections? Was this published anywhere?

<> Deprenyl Life Sci 1993;52(3):281-8 Chronic treatment of (-)deprenyl prolongs the life span of male Fischer 344 rats. Further evidence. Kitani K, Kanai S, Sato Y, Ohta M, Ivy GO, Carrillo MC UI: 93140503

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=8423709&Dopt=r

Life Sci 1990;47(5):415-20 Maintenance on L-deprenyl prolongs life in aged male rats. Milgram NW, Racine RJ, Nellis P, Mendonca A, Ivy GO UI: 90370001

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=2118586&Dopt=r

Life Sci 1989;45(6):525-31 Striatal dopamine, sexual activity and lifespan. Longevity of rats treated with (-)deprenyl. Knoll J, Dallo J, Yen TT UI: 89364017

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=2505007&Dopt=r

Life Sci 1994;54(15):1047-57 Sexually low performing male rats die earlier than their high performing peers and (-)deprenyl treatment eliminates this difference. Knoll J, Yen TT, Miklya I UI: 94202993

>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=8152326&Dopt=r

(There are some negative deprenyl studies too.)

<> Centrophenoxine? Biull Eksp Biol Med 1988 Feb;105(2):206-8 [Indices of sympathetic neurocyte transcription and the survival indices of fractionally and partially chemically sympathectomized rats against a background of atsefen use]. [Article in Russian] Potapov SI, Grigor'eva AV, Iarygin VN UI: 88163935

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=3126844&Dopt=r

<> DMAE. (Negative.) Mech Ageing Dev 1988 Feb;42(2):129-38 Effect of lifetime administration of dimethylaminoethanol on longevity, aging changes, and cryptogenic neoplasms in C3H mice. Stenback F, Weisburger JH, Williams GM UI: 88201387

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<> L-Dopa. Science 1977 Apr 29;196(4289):549-51 Levodopa, fertility, and longevity. Cotzias GC, Miller ST, Tang LC, Papavasiliou PS UI: 77150802

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=850799&Dopt=r

<> Melatonin. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1991;621:291-313 The pineal control of aging. The effects of melatonin and pineal grafting on the survival of older mice. Pierpaoli W, Dall'Ara A, Pedrinis E, Regelson With UI: 91315052

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=8290600&Dopt=r

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1994 Jan 18;91(2):787-91 Pineal control of aging: effect of melatonin and pineal grafting on aging mice. Pierpaoli W, Regelson W UI: 94119971

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=8290600&Dopt=r

Ann N Y Acad Sci 1994 Nov 25;741:358-63 Melatonin treatment mimics pineal graft action in regulating brain cortex adrenoceptors in aging mice. Viticchi C, Bulian D, Pierpaoli W, Piantanelli L UI: 95126370

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=7825823&Dopt=r [More by clicking on "related" at first one above.]

<> Pineal modification. (Some of the above belong here too.) Ann N Y Acad Sci 1994 May 31;719:456-60 Pineal cross-transplantation (old-to-young and vice versa) as evidence for an endogenous "aging clock". Lesnikov VA, Pierpaoli W UI: 94280000

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=8010614&Dopt=r

<> Epithalamin. Mech Ageing Dev 1998 Jun 15;103(2):123-32 Pineal peptide preparation epithalamin increases the lifespan of fruit flies, mice and rats. Anisimov VN, Mylnikov SV, Khavinson VK UI: 98367088

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=9701766&Dopt=r

<> SOD transgenic experiment. ?

<> PBN Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 1998 Apr;62(4):792-4 A spin trap, N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone extends the life span of mice. Saito K, Yoshioka H, Cutler RG UI: 98276895

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Neurosci Lett 1996 Mar 1;205(3):181-4 Antioxidant treatment with phenyl-alpha-tert-butyl nitrone (PBN) improves the cognitive performance and survival of aging rats. Sack CA, Socci DJ, Crandall BM, Arendash GW UI: 97005289

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(PBN, Negative.) Arch Biochem Biophys 1995 Dec 20;324(2):249-54 Effect of the spin-trapping compound N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone on protein oxidation and life span. Dubey A, Forster MJ, Sohal RS UI: 96132652

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/Entrez/referer?/htbin-post/Entrez/query%3fdb=m&form=6&uid=8554316&Dopt=r


War is a Disease

by Roger L. Bagula

http://home.earthlink.net/~tftn
http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Thinktank/7279/
http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/tftn/index.html
http://members.xoom.com/RogerLBagula/index.html
http://sites.netscape.net/rlbtftn/index.html
http://victorian.fortunecity.com/carmelita/435/The human race has been fighting each other in wars since the beginning of history. Much of what we call history is just a record of such wars. In modern times we have studied the outbreak and severity of wars with our new sciences. Our new knowledge of fractals, chaos and complexity has found that wars behave a lot like forest fires in their frequency and severity. In turn the study of forest fires tells us that they are percolative processes. The other known observed data that behaves in the same sort of manner is that of diseases.

The question that occurred to me when I realized that war behaved very much like a disease was: "Is it caused by a bacteria or a virus in physical terms or is it a psychological contagious agent?'' or in more modern terms: "Is war a computer virus of the human mind?''

Forest fires can be simulated very well as percolative processes using cellular automata. There is even a popular Java program called "Blaze'' that demonstrates this process. It allows one to put water on the fire to retard it's spread. All my life I've heard about using the U. N. or NATO to put out brush fire wars. We have just seen this in Europe in the last year in the former Yugoslavia. This use of counter force is dealing with symptoms not causes.

Suppose we do simulate war as a cellular automata? We could see and control the variables that caused it's spread and it's destruction. Knowing that war is a mathematical process with rules makes it a very different thing than what we have been sending our sons off to die in through out history.

In the study of history we talk of social and economic causes for wars. In psychology we see causes of violent conflicts in crowding, groupings and control of scarce resources like food and mates. But anger is probably as much the root problem as any of these other variables.

The will to kill in people seems rooted in anger and hate. The contagiousness of anger is well known and easy to demonstrate experimentally in the laboratory. Much of the nature of anger is cultural, but most of it is built into the machine we call our brains.

Fear is closely related to anger and has a lot of the same physiological effects on people as anger. The level at which fear and anger is transmitted in a population has been multiplied by mass media in modern times as well. Suppose we damped the inflammatory emotions in the population (sometimes called the Soma solution), would that stop the conflicts that become wars? That so called solution is still a symptomatic approach. We need to find and deal with the true root causes.

It's not like any of this is really very new. Wise men have taught philosophy and religion that damps the cultural causes of war. When the Pope of the religion of peace, Christianity, preached a holy war to regain the holy land or crusade, we had reached a new low in cultural damping in Western culture. Men in power in a society have some control over the worst roots of wars in social injustice and poverty.

In fact the study of history shows that in many cases wars have resulted from abuse of power by men in authority. It is obvious that they are part of the disease as much as the masses of people that are involved in fighting the war. Much of modern political philosophy deals with controlling abuses of power as a result. We have tried to use our knowledge and learning to change the outcome of human behaviour by laws, but only with limited if any success. Taking guns from the population doesn't remove the cause of violence, it just a means of acting on it.

The most profitable and useful controls on wars historically have been changes in the culture due to wide scale religious and educational changes. As a result of this people in power who want to retain the ability to abuse their power have tried to control and discourage religious and educational movements as well. Not that all religious movements have led to more peaceful societies: the Moslem religious history of holy wars is a very good example of that.

The martial arts ties to Buddhist roots also shows that wisdom doesn't always lead to peaceful solutions.

Suppose we studied the people involved in war. Without people willing and able to kill other people war doesn't happen. I think that those who refuse to enter into war may be as important in this study as those who do. We should know about those trees on which fire has less power to burn and destroy. The ability in some people to endure anger, fear and social pressure without giving in to the urge to kill is an important and valuable thing to understand. Those immune to the disease of war can teach us how we can become immune as well.

In The Bible God appears to Moses out of a burning bush that burns, but isn't consumed. Until we learn to be like that bush and not allow the fire of war to spread and destroy us, we will have epidemics of war that we can only damp symptomatically but not really control. The first step in helping ourselves is to admit that we are sick with the disease that has made human history so bloody. The second step is to understand and study the disease by every means that we have. The last step is to remove the root causes of the disease or at least induce immunity to the disease of war in the population. I wish that the solution were as simple as a shot in the arm, but we don't know that. All we know is that scientifically War behaves in observations like an epidemic disease.

Editorial Comment:

Wars are group violence. Participants in past wars were often slaves of those actually waging the war (euphemistically known as patriotic conscripts.)

In order to keep this impersonal, lets say that in a given population there are various groups denoted by letters, A B C and so on. Individuals are denoted by numbers, eg 1,2 .. 374, etc. Therefore by analogy A848 is the same as saying "A Roman Catholic, Mr James O'Leary".

At present in many conflicts, such as Kosovo, Northern Ireland, East Timor and so on, there are many fighting groups. If A234 kills B6548 members of group B try and kill members of group A in revenge. It is pure chance if A234 gets killed - in fact it is highly unlikely that he gets killed as a direct result of killing B6548. Of course in revenge for the completely irrelevant members of group A that get killed as a result of the first act more members of group B are killed and so the whole thing escalates throughout hundreds of years.

The authorities, in today's terms usually NATO or the UN, step in and indiscriminately try and stop all killing. Very laudable. Many philosophers try and suggests ways of stopping the carnage. Jesus suggested that if everyone turned the other cheek then the killing would stop, but this proved too contra to human nature as is shown by the example of history. Maybe there is a middle way. Maybe society (ie the authorities) should discriminate in some way between B6548's friends killing any old member of group A and B6548's friends killing just A234. I am not saying it should be encouraged, just that there is discrimination between the two events.

The method of killing friends of the person you want to take revenge against has been proven again and again not to work. If it did work, then the National Socialists would surely have won the war - they used reprisal killings as an institutional law enforcement process. In reality, this just strengthened the resolve of their opponents in various resistance groups. However human nature being what it is, this lesson is seldom learned.


Opting out of Autopsies

There has ben a long and interesting debate on the Internet in September, 1999 on the subject of whether individuals should have the freedom to leave directives which are enforceable in law against the state that prohibit autopsy. I have tried to summarise it as best as I can, leaving out many side issues that appeared concerning totalitarian states, terrorism, sexual deviation, and even cannibalism. Valid analogies they may be, but space prohibits including everything here. I have also left out the vast bulk of my own contributions to the debate as they are of less interest to me than other people's views. In any case it must be obvious to people readingLongevity Report that I am in favour of cryopreservation which requires the freedom to use the process. The views of other people expressed here were often generated by my own comments. I have also left out a lot of the material about cryonics as much of these issues have been discussed in Longevity Report previously. You could find the whole debate on http://www.dejanews.com after a relevant search. I have emailed this article to all concerned inviting alterations, additions or even requests for exclusion. Those who did not provide valid email addresses have still been included on the basis that they have already anonymously published their work and won't mind it being spread further.


Issues of fact

From: Ivan Robinson

< Dr.Robinson@btinternet.com >

In the UK the coroner can direct any doctor to perform an autopsy. To prevent brain dissection you need to change legislation and redraft the coroner's act.

The coroner (in UK terms) is interested in all unnatural deaths - not just suspicious deaths. Where a doctor cannot issue a death certificate in good faith then the case is referred to the coroner. I know for a fact that the coroners officers will try to sign up as many cases as possible without postmortems. It is not true that a PM is only enforceable in law if the death is suspicious - that should read unnatural or unknown. A frequent reason for autopsy in my practice is industrial disease - often coal workers pneumoconiosis or asbestos exposure.

The coroner's word is final even in cases where there are expressed wishes against postmortem examination. However from experience the coroner's office does everything possible to facilitate families wishes. They balance the needs of society against the deceased and families wishes. To date, I have not been aware of a case where religion has expressly forbid dissection and the coroner has used his power to override their wishes. Religious constraints on postmortem examination are more to do with timing of disposal rather than objection to dissectionper se, when we have been asked to expedite dissection. I have had a religious leader present in the mortuary on one occasion to witness dissection. In the majority of cases, at the end of the examination, all organs are placed in a plastic bag in the thorax/abdomen. We do not replace them in their anatomical position nor reconstruct the internal organs. Padding is placed in the neck and pelvis to prevent leaks before the main incision is closed. The skull is padded, the skull cap replaced and the scalp sutured before the body is returned to the body store. Unless the funeral director unpicked the sutures in the main incision and opened the bag or knew the practices of the mortuary, he couldn't know for certain if the brain was present or not.

I don't have all the answers but, I think I am right in saying while there is no worth in a dead body, you can steal from it (actually the Crown). That is why we cannot use medico-legal autopsies for teaching, research etc. The surgeon removes vital tissue around the time of death and it is politically expedient that permission is obtained. We act for the Crown when we do a medico-legal autopsy. I would appreciate input from legal professionals on this point.


From: Medilex123

< medilex123@aol.com >

(Article edited to include later additions by author who is Chief Technician who has managerial responsibility for the mortuary in a hospital.)

Off the top of my head when writing the newsgroup article I thought that the UK system is based on compassion and nothing else but later realised that it is actually based on the 1991 Human Tissue Act. Where a case involves the Coroner no legal documentation can circumvent the process of law, but Coroners tend to be wary about ordering PMs in those cases where there is a cultural aversion to dissection eg Muslims. I suppose that a court order could be obtained to review the Coroners action (Judicial Review in the UK), but it is a very long and expensive process.

Just a note on PM procedures.

In the UK many hospitals now use a PM consent form which asks relatives to certify that the deceased/any other relatives, had/have no objection to a PM being performed. If there is a known objection then we would not perform a PM.

A PM is only enforceable at law if the person died in suspicious circumstances (Coroners PM's).

A 'Living Will' in which a patients desires are made known to his/her carers is often regarded as binding.

The legal principle of "No property on a body" means that people in the UK cannot own their living bodies or dispose of their corpses by Will or Testament except to a licensed Anatomy School. The only way to assure desired treatment after death is by making your wishes known.


From H. Wayne Logsdon

Wayne <wlogsdon@erols.com> wrote

In my state the law says that Medical Examiner autopsies can only be done to help establish the cause of death and cannot be done for interest (curiosity), research or education . Fluid and tissue samples are another matter. The law is not clear about it, but says that they must be retained for 10 years. The local ME thinks that he should take samples of most organs on every dissection, just in case something comes up later.

From the people I have talked to, it seems that the idea of their death is so disturbing that they don't even want to think about it. Then one day it's too late. Same goes for wills. Plus most people feel that they are not even getting close to that day until they are maybe in their 60s or 70s. It would be interesting to know that average age when people do wills.

...with the mutilation of our flesh counting as 1 data point per person, and with between 100 million and 200 million dissections performed world wide, so far, one would think that the goal of a smooth integral function was for all practical purposes achieved. The conclusions must be spectacular already!! What are they?

We used to have coroners. Some states still may. But generally the coroner system (where anyone could be the coroner) has been replaced by the medical examiner system, where the pathologist also has all the powers of the coroner, plus he, or other paths working under him (assistant medical examiners) also do the dissections.

The person's body (our living bodies) belong to the government, alive and dead, just like in the feudal system. You do not own your body. That is why they can make it illegal for you to sell a kidney, or trade money for sex. That is why you cannot bury a family member on your own property. That is why you cannot exhume your relatives and move them to a different location. You cannot do any of these things without written government approval, and then it must be done by a licensed government agent. You can't even die without government approval. you are not legally dead until the government signs the death certificate.

Here is the procedure in my eastern US state. The medical examiner' office gets a call. Someone from the office goes to the scene of the alleged dead body. The alleged dead body cannot be moved until the medical examiner's office says so. After the "on scene" investigation has been completed far enough for the medical examiner's office to move the alleged dead body, the person representing the medical examiner's office moves the dead body to a local hospital emergency room, where a physician (not connected with the medical examiner's office), after superficial examination of the alleged dead body, signs one of the many lines / boxes on the death certificate declaring that the person is dead. The dead person is then transported to the medical examiner's office (morgue) by the representative of the medical examiner's office who brought the alleged dead body to the hospital.

At this point the medical examiner has a person ready for potential autopsy and dissection who has been declared dead by a physician not connected with the medical examiner's office. The official cause of death is at this point unknown. There now exists a partially filled out death certificate that is unavailable to the public. On the death certificate are spaces that must be filled out stating the cause of death (unknown is an acceptable answer). There is a final line that the physician who filled out the cause of death must sign. Once this line is signed the death certificate is completed and it becomes a public record.

Thus, in a hospital death setting, or where the person has been under long term care of a physician, and the death is not a medical examiner case, the person's physician can determine that the person is dead, state the cause of death (or state "unknown"), and sign the final box, thus closing out the death certificate.

If the death looks like it may have resulted from one of the small handful of causes which come under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner, a disinterested licensed physician must make the determination of death, but not the cause, before the medical examiner can perform an autopsy,

This may have come about so that it would be legally impossible for a force government dissection to have been done on a person thought to be dead, but not dead. A lot happens between someone making an objection to an autopsy "objection" and a court order. In my state the pastor would be looked at, legally, as a "friend" of the decadent.

One big problem that I have personally come across is that the local MEs and their investigators do their best to keep us in the dark about exactly what they intend doing to our loved ones. Another is that there is no law, like the Mirada law, requiring them to tell us our rights. Being, not our county neighbours, but government agents, they, of course, take full advantage of their power. The ones I have run into are not honest or nice people. They give you less information than a stranger on the street would. There is a big distance between us objecting and them not doing it. If everyone objected and the M.E. had to take the time to go to court every day and get a court order, he would be very unhappy doing all that paper work, so the easy way out is to ignore the objection and proceed with the dissection. 99.99 % of the people will never know they just had their Constitutional right of Due Process violated by a government agent who took a Sworn Oath and signed an Affirmation to uphold the Constitution and uphold and obey the law. You probably don't mean it this way, but your regurgitation of the "If the court orders an autopsy" line smacks a little of "we're doctors and the judge will always rule in our favour over a commoner, because we're experts and we know what's best" I'm probably just over-sensitised to the issue. But remember, in every case of a human being stripped and dissected against their will, a physician fought for the court order, and a physician or his assistant did the stripping and dissecting (except in my case they did it without a court order because of my religion).

There was talk about court orders as if one person in a thousand knows that their "objection" or their "religious objection" triggers a legal mechanism where the ME is lawfully required to tell them of their right to petition the court, via motion, for an order disallowing the autopsy or dissection. Conversely, their "objection" or their "religious objection" also triggers a legal mechanism that requires the ME to also get a court order to proceed (with the dissection). Unfortunately, in my state, even if the ME fails to get the court order he can do things to us that, if we were alive, could land him a jail sentence and a lost license.

Doesn't seem right to me that the exact same "acts" can be done after death with impunity, and be a criminal act before death (and I'm not talking about dissection, just viewing the naked body). You guys [ie coroners and pathologists -ed] are in bed with the government, and against the common folks, IMHO.

Obviously, as are all people; sometimes one can get away with not obeying a court order, like if the person to which the order was granted doesn't complain to the court about it, or if there are mitigating circumstances.

Remember, all orders are appealable, and a law, and I suppose an order, that is not consistent with the U. S. constitution is unenforceable in the U. S.


From Zonggao Shi

<szg516@public6.sta.net.cn>

It is said that autopsy is necessary for the advance of medical science.

But if we do examine the medical history more thoroughly, it is somehow a little difficult to convince people that autopsy did any significant help to us. Pathology is a kind of art to make an explanation, but not a cure. The recent development in molecular pathology is more like this than ever. Autopsy didn't make sense in the past century and will do anything neither in the next.


From Jeffrey Soreff

<soreff@vnet.ibm.com>

In answer to:

What is a rough guess at how many autopsies have been performed in the world over the past 10 years? X

What is a rough guess at how much all the people involved were paid to perform them? Y

What is a rough guess at how many people who received one in the last ten years would have objected to autopsy? Z

Y/X gives the value to the world of performing autopsies, per autopsy.

To make a wild-assed guess on the numbers: Y/X can also be guessed from the numbers for the workload and cost of a single pathologist. If I assume that a typical MD-class salary is of the order of $US 100k/year (one really needs to include costs of consumables, support services, a fraction of the building's cost etc...) and if I guess a handful of autopsies per working day (I can't believe it would take less than an hour to write the report, if nothing else) - say 500/year, we'd get $US 200/autopsy. Crude guesses, but I'd be quite surprised if the real answer is outside the range $US 20 < x < $US 2000.

Multiply this by Z and you get the loss in value that would occur if autopsy was voluntary.

Either the Netherlands or Denmark has an opt out system for transplants, and something like half of the population opts out and half defaults in. I have no idea whether this is enough to saturate the need for organ transplants. I'd guess that availability of transplant surgeons is probably limiting. Anyone actually know?

From any ideological viewpoint that I can imagine, the current policy of mandatory (no opt out) autopsy and voluntary (opt in) transplant donation makes no sense.

Making some major guesses, and using US numbers:

Autopsy is useful in law enforcement and medical quality control. In the US there are around 20,000 murders/year. Around half are solved. If every single one required autopsy for solution, and every single solution locked up one killer and each such prison term prevented one further killing, you'd save 10,000 lives/year. In the U.S., it isexceedingly rare for a really bad doctor to have their license revoked. I suspect that actually taking actions due to feedback about medical quality is sufficiently rare that gains from it can be neglected. The big gains in medicine have come from things like public health (mostly sanitation) and from research with either pre-mortem endpoints or with just statistical information distinguishing between causes of death (which doesn't require mandatory autopsy - opting out just thins out the samples slightly). On the transplant side, something like a third of total deaths are due to some flavour of heart disease. If transplants were done in all of these cases, something like >100,000 lives/year would be saved.

This puts the ratio of the numbers of lives potentially saved due to autopsy vs. transplants at something like 1:10. Can anyone refine these numbers, or correct them for UK/US differences?

My personal position is that both autopsy and post-mortem transplant donation should be voluntary opt out procedures.

If anyone proposes to defend the current combination of opt-in transplant and no choice on autopsy, I'd like to see how they do it!


From Jonathan W Hendry

< ">jhendry@shrike.depaul.edu>

I could be wrong, but I think Jewish practice is to bury the deceased relatively quickly. As soon as possible, even. And I think Orthodox Jews believe that the entire body must be buried; there are people in Israel who take meticulous care in picking up the entire remains of people killed by terrorist bombs, for proper burial.


Freedom issues.

From Mal

< annemac@alphalink.com.au>

I've taken some desultory interest in this thread, but not much. Believe me, dear colleague, you cannot reason with irrational people. It's far better not to try. If they are determined to remain ignorant and misguided, that's their business. Not ours.


From Dr Ivan Robinson

< ">Dr.Robinson@btinternet.com>

Can a technique that may have the potential to benefit an individual take precedence of one that is of proven benefit to society? I am a histo-pathologist and not a moralist, legislator, ethicist, philosopher or cryonicist and obviously my thoughts are strongly influenced by my perceived worth in society.

I may have to adapt my practice in the future to meet advances in cryogenic preservation and reanimation but until then it is reasonable to continue with accepted autopsy practice for the benefit of society.

I don't envy any family having to go through the autopsy experience, not because of the post mortem per se rather than the loss of the loved one. I recognize the autopsy adds to their grief, although God knows it isn't designed to. Society needs to know how its citizens die and through this knowledge, make best use of resources to keep us as healthy for as long as possible, yes this is back to the almighty dollar (or pound in my case) but (it is sad I know) this is the ball we have to keep our eye on. Like it or not clinical diagnosis (and I include incorporating Lab and X-ray tests) is only around 90% accurate if you use the parameter of undiagnosed disease if known ante mortem would have altered management and been likely to affect outcome. This has been known for the last 100 years and I published a study in the J Clin Path trying to predict which autopsies would yield unexpected findings.

While I believe, and reiterate the dead have no use for their bodies, I do not cut up people. What makes you, you? What makes me Ivan is not my 112Kg of blubber with haemorrhoids and halitosis but rather my warped sense of humour, love of Italian red wine, inability to know when I have had enough food or drink and hatred of soccer. When I come to be dissected, either in a med school anatomy lab or in an autopsy room they will find my piles, osteo-skeletal degeneration, advanced dental caries, whatever I succumbed to and several other, as yet unknown, pathological processes, but not what makes me like the writings of Bill Bryson.

Please realize I am human like everyone else, I don't have horns, cloven hooves or a tail, I put my underpants on one leg at a time and go to the lavatory. Like every one I have my good and bad days and I recognize my last two postings were petty (asking is opting out of autopsies really a problem or just a spring board for anti-medical-establishment diatribes and for rational arguments to get the attention of intelligent individuals) for which I apologize.

What I have is as much training as any surgeon to do a job. Sure most uninitiated find the thought of an autopsy abhorrent but they cannot see past the evisceration. I bet the same people faced by a laparotomy (by a doctor called a surgeon) to diagnose their disease would not have the same qualms, and I bet they are glued to every medical dramas and docusoaps on the television. Sure we have no regard for the feelings the individual might have had about the dissection of their remains when alive, in the same way we do not discriminate on race, colour, creed, sexual orientation or bigotry. Our motivation is to benefit society by determination the cause, mechanism and manner of death in medico-legal autopsies, and the clinical significance in hospital postmortems.

Sure I realize the focus these days is more and more on the individual. I don't necessary agree with it when I see the soft treatment meted out to juvenile delinquents who are allowed to continue to terrorize the meek frail and old in our society. Like everything in life a balance is required.

In this country Coroners investigate unnatural deaths thy do not perform the autopsy. I am a pathologist. Of course I perform it in a dispassionate manner. As I have said above it is not someone's wife, mother, son etc. That what made them an individual has left. I examine their corporal vehicle. Autopsies are done only where it is necessary. Each attracts a fee, around £75, and the Coroner doesn't waste tax payers money - yes - it comes down once again to the almighty dollar (or pound in my case).

If I knew beyond doubt that there would be no pathology in the brain I would leave it alone, but this is not possible. I wonder if you advocate cutting corners in other branches of medicine? Would you be happy if a primary care physician neglected to do a pap smear, breast examination and e.c.g. in a health check to save money? Would you be happy to delay the funeral of your lover on by 4-6 weeks to ensure all the tissue was returned to the cadaver?.

I don't think I lost humanity, I am not sure I ever had it. I was a lousy proper doc for many reasons, not least was a poor rapport with demanding patients. There is a niche for all types in medicine and there is a need for my type of inquiring mind. Can you cure what you do not understand? I want to see as many people as possible see their children getting a pension.

What good would we meeting the bereft do - just add to their misery - Hi -I'm Doc Robinson and I'm going to be cutting up Bob jnr today - that would be inhumane. It is an unpleasant job but some one has to do it.

I have no doubt that you have benefited from 20th century medicine, probably personally or if not, someone close to you.

Are you so selfish to deny future generations similar benefits in advancing medical science on the back of better understanding of disease as afforded by the autopsy because you are squeamish?


Wayne diawa <wlogsdon@erols.com> wrote

The problem is, the "government's" scientific/medico-legal interest tramples on my right to not be humiliated and torn asunder. In any other circumstance the harming of my flesh by another human being would constitute a felony crime. Why does the government do this to us? Because the physicians have told the government that the physicians will do it for them, and that the "government" will get "useful" information. Why does the government do this to us? Because they have overwhelming force and they can do anything they want!!

I have never willingly taken my clothes off for any physician or anyone else, except in amorous situations. Why should I allow it to be done forcefully and against my will? I want to exist forever, or as long as possible, as a whole intact human being; way beyond your "brain waves" and blood pressure criteria. A thick stainless steel coffin filled with formalin, with occasional maintenance should do the trick for quite a while.

Ivan, if the government's forcibly stripping and dissecting people against their will isn't totalitarianism, I don't know what is. The medical community, and the organized churches have decided, in their elitist inflated minds, what they think is best for the "people"; their definition, of course, meaning only live people. You have said that dead people are of no value. Why not just grind them all up and make cat food.

After all, you wrote "I adhere to the concept that there is no worth in a dead body and can it be theft if the item is worthless and the individual has no use for it? "

Also you said "born Presbyterian, educated Anglican and now attend a Roman Catholic Church with wife and 2 children and I believe if God found the practice of autopsy abhorrent he would have made his feelings known. "

Does that mean that God does doesn't find the practice of abortion, or genocide, or war, or sodomy abhorrent? After all, God sits back everyday and watches these things and does absolutely nothing. Albeit, he did tell us that every time we see a man laying with another man, as with a woman, we should kill them both, and their blood will be on their hands. Nice guy God. He also threw that hissy fit and drowned everyone on the planet except Noah's family. Seems to me that God condones violence.

I was christened a Roman Catholic when I was about 4 weeks old and, with one or two exceptions, have made it to mass at least every Sunday for the last 30 years. Do you know anything about this "Hallowed Ground" concept? I don't. Can you only get to heaven if your "body" is "laid to rest" in Hallowed Ground? What about the Titanicvictims? Did they all go to hell for that reason, or maybe because they didn't get the last rites soon enough? The Roman Catholic Church forbid autopsies throughout most of the history of the Church. Then they started allowing it but forbid cremation. Then they started allowing that but forbid the scattering of the ashes. I'm sure they will back off of that position soon too. Do you have any idea what the Catholic Church believes, other than the desire for more tithing attendees? I don't. Can you believe anything they say? I can't. I And finally, you said "believe in an afterlife when we shed or corporal vehicle with its frailties and it is this vehicle I examine".

That's fine. But when this belief ( which I assume buttresses one of the justifications that makes your actions possible) causes harm to the flesh of one of my loved ones or me, you are, in a way, imposing your religious beliefs on others.

Having to go through life knowing that the government will probably flay me like a lamb at a meat processing plant, like they did to my daughter and niece, is living under a totalitarian dictatorship. In fact my chances of being able to spend eternity as a whole human being would probably be better in a 3rd world country. They have far less physicians and money. Anyone know what the dissection rate is for British Royalty? Same as for the general population? I doubt it!


From: Jeffrey Soreff

<soreff@vnet.ibm.com>

Well, of course I would prefer that you abide by the wishes of cryonicists to have their brains cooled and frozen as rapidly as possible rather than dissected. You don't lose much information by this, and it may turn out to be the difference between life and death to the cryonicists. Remember that it is perfectly possible that cryogenic preservation, as practised _now_, may eventually allow reanimation. A cryonicist dying now doesn't have the option of waiting for further developments in the technologies that may eventually allow reanimation in order to demonstrate them to you.

I see the value of autopsy, but I doubt that you would lose much important information if everyone who objected to it for any reason was always excluded. Even if that lead to exclusion of half the population, you would still get plenty of data points for all but the rarest of illnesses. For "the modern plagues", surely there are plenty of cases where the patient hasn't explicitly objected to autopsy?


From: David Lloyd-Jones

< icomm5@netcom.ca>

John de Rivaz wrote "The matter of rights is very difficult - one person's rights are another's servitude."

This is nonsense. It is an essential quality of rights that they are enjoyable by all people. This is why there cannot exist, e.g., a right to own slaves.

I think John must be on some sort of weird autopilot that tells him that any balanced-looking sentence is true just because it looks balanced.


From Shiva

< Shiva@cheqnet.net> wrote

Wait a minute, gang. David, you are talking about "rights" as you believe they ought to be. As a philosophical matter, I agree with you.

John is clearly talking about "rights" which are often wrongs (again in terms of what ought to be) but are legally or perhaps only traditionally "rights." To say there cannot exist a right to own slaves is clearly nonsense in that it contradicts known facts. At one time, in some of the states of the United States, certain men had a "right" to own slaves, as their rights were defined by law. Rights, in the sense John is clearly using the word, often have absolutely nothing to do with "correct" or with what can logically be supported as what "ought" to be.


From: Sue Smith

not@spammer.in.sight(Invalid email address)

Dr.Robinson seems to have written "I am saying that we all have responsibility to society and if society has use for something that is discarded and of no worth (in this case a corporal being) then we should not have reservations."

But you still haven't argued (to my mind anyway) successfully that the deceased does not value his/her body even after death. You have no way of knowing what form the afterlife takes, if there is such a thing, and how the dead feel about what happens to them after they die.

Sue Smith



Dr Ivan Robinson replied:

Firstly I don't think I have to. The fact that there is no worth in a dead body is established in law. Sensitive people can communicate with the dead, I am not one but I had a close relative who was and we are moved in mysterious ways. If the dead objected to the autopsy they would have let us know.

What is the opinion of cryonicists of the reproducible near death out of body experiences of being comfortable, without fear and being drawn to a source? Many describe being aware of departed relatives yet none describe pain in their bodies even if undergoing surgery or being near death in a traumatic event. What happens to this out of body experience if the individual is frozen?

You say I "have no way of knowing what form the afterlife takes", I have faith. This may seem a paradox that (I hope) a credible pathologist can balance a rigorous medical training with faith. What makes you and me, me has no mass or energy and therefore does not exist - yet it does. Call this your soul, being or vital spark. The reproducibility of accounts of people in near death situations who are revived successfully (within observer variability) tells me we leave our bodies at death. This fits nicely with my faith which I might add has returned since I started doing autopsies. If we go to a better afterlife, why do we worry what happens to our corporeal vehicle? I don't worry what happens to my car when I trade it in. I do worry about what happens when a body is suspended, can the soul depart and if so is it sucked back when reanimated.

I don't have all the answers


To which Wayne's reply included:

I believe that Jesus the Christ will return someday as promised and when he does he will raise my physical body from the dead and I want, nay, may absolutely need, it to all be in the grave intact, albeit in a severely dehydrated form.

No one can prove to me that the dead do not feel pain.

I think being stripped naked against my will is sexual assault and no one should have to endure that.

Like my car in the driveway, I own my body. I don't want anyone touching me; neither the paths nor the embalmers. I reject this legal notion that the dead have no rights and will fight against it until the day I die.



Should people be allowed to opt out of autopsy (compulsorily being dissected when dead)
Yes
No
not if it retards medical research
not if it retards legal research
not if it retards any research



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