ISSN 0964-5659

LONGEVITY REPORT 92

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

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Some Thought About Atheism Robert Ettinger
A Note on Probabilities and Cryonics Michael Hartl
Probability Criteria Question Robert Ettinger
Updates on Fly Longevity Experiments 63 to 72 Douglas Skrecky
5th Update on Food Satiation Experiments Douglas Skrecky
Regulation and Risk Charles Platt
As Others See us Alan Hardy, Gerald England
What Scares the Bioethicists about Cryonics? Steve Harris
Progress Ron Havelock
Getting Spouses to Sign Up James Swayze

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 15 no 91. First published November 2002. ISSN 0964-5659.

Some thought about Atheism

by Robert Ettinger < ettinger@aol.com >

"What is your attitude toward X? Do you believe or disbelieve? If you disbelieve, you are an a-Xist."

Obviously, if you give any thought to it at all, you could neither believe nor disbelieve, without knowing what X is.

So I object to being called an atheist--one who disbelieves in God--because I can neither believe nor disbelieve in something or someone or some concept so varied and vague that it is too slippery to get hold of. I prefer merely to say, "I have no religious beliefs." Someone insists, "Doesn't that mean you are an atheist?" I insist, "No--it just means you have asked an unanswerable question."

So how can there be believers? The answer is, first, that they either don't understand or ignore the areas of vagueness and uncertainty and disagreement. Secondly, they may not really believe in what they say they believe--rather, they are merely identifying themselves with a support group and giving it a label.

None of this proves the believer is wrong. It is possible to be right, or mainly right, for the wrong reasons. It is also possible to have an idea with some merit, even though the idea is poorly articulated or even incoherent in concept. It is also possible to be right at the level of metaphor, or/and at the level of practical living, without being right literally or logically.

As for practical politics, I think a "march" of "Godless Americans" for political recognition is a really bad idea, for reasons many people have frequently expounded. There are many religious people in cryonics, and they are just as smart as the rest of us. The Christian clergy, as far as I can tell, on balance are not less friendly to cryonics than the average American or the average irreligious American.

We don't want, even indirectly, to promote the feeling that someone must be either with us or against us. Rather, the choice should be seen as approval or indifference.

Some politicians define themselves in terms of their enemies, in terms of what they are against and whom they hate. We want to define ourselves in terms of what we are for and whom we love - life, ourselves, our families and friends, and an expanding sphere.


A Note on Probabilities and Cryonics

by Michael Hartl (c) 2002 <michael_hartl@yahoo.com>

It isn't unreasonable to make educated guesses about the prospect of cryonics: for future events, probabilities are still meaningful.

Consider this: I offer you the chance to bet $1 to win $2 on the roll of a die. You can bet either on numbers 1-5 (inclusive) or 6. Would you really claim that the probability of a 6 being rolled is either 0 or 1, so there's no way to decide short of a time machine? Of course not; the probability is 1 in 6. You, like me, would bet on 1-5 -- and then curse your luck (but not your strategy) when a 6 is rolled.

A similar situation arises in blackjack, a subject I happen to know something about. Assuming that you are not counting cards (which I for one would never do), it turns out that you should always hit a hard 16 when the dealer is showing 7 through ace. Unfortunately, the probability of winning is much less than 50% whether you stand or hit, and if you advise someone to hit a hard 16 they'll still probably bust. It's always the right play to hit, but try telling that to a gambler who's just lost a big bet on your advice. Not understanding this point -- that the "right play" can never depend on what actually happens, since by hypothesis the outcome is unknown a priori -- is one of the most common gambling fallacies.

The application to cryonics is this: like the gambler holding a hard 16,we are in a situation with imperfect information -- we don't know if cryonics will work. With cryonics, the question is whether or not to place the bet. This is why a reasonable estimate of success, even if uncertain, is potentially valuable; it allows us to perform a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to bet or not. If you believe that the chances of success are essentially zero, then it makes sense not to bet. The problem with many cryo-skeptics is that their 0% estimates are rarely (if ever) justified with rigorous arguments; they just dismiss the subject out of hand.

Though many would reject cryonics even if it were free (for a host of "reasons" all-too-familiar to those on CryoNet and who read Longevity Report), this cost-benefit analysis lies at the heart of reasoned objections to cryonics. Consider the two main factors:

(a) the probability of success and

(b) the payoff.

Most on this list consider (a) to be "reasonable" based on the work of Ettinger, Drexler, Merkle, and others; and we consider (b) to be astronomical.

The public and even so-called "experts" are typically not familiar enough with the science to have an informed opinion on (a), but we should be willing to admit that if (a) is small enough, then it's not worth the price. Realize also that a big part of our equation, usually only implicit, is (b), which we consider huge. I am always amazed at how little many people value their own lives; for them, the payoff is, astonishingly to us, quite small. But, within the context of a tiny (a) and only moderate (b), not signing up (and, in particular, not paying for) cryonics makes sense.

My guess: (a) is not infinitesimal, and for me (b) is huge; ergo, I'm signed up.


Probability Criteria Question

Robert Ettinger < ettinger@aol.com >

As one reasonable possibility in the case of cryonics, we could consider the sequence of experiments "Try to achieve a fairly well defined but difficult technological objective, in light of evidence, persuasive to at least a few well informed people, that it should eventually be achievable." Then look at the all the past goals that have been set, at the number so far successful, the number so far unsuccessful but ongoing, and the number abandoned. If the number abandoned divided by the number attempted is near unity, the project is nearly hopeless. If the fraction successful is appreciable, the chance is good.

Goddard and Tsiolkovsky conceived a project of great difficulty, but with no known truly fundamental obstacles, and eventually the project succeeded. Feynman (followed by others including Drexler and Merkle) conceived a whole enormous class of projects (nanotechnology), of great difficulty but beginning to bear fruit, and which includes repair after cryostasis.

A question for readers: Do you know of ANY projects meeting my criteria that have been seriously tried at length and finally totally abandoned?


Updates on fly longevity experiments 63 to 72

by Douglas Skrecky < oberon@vcn.bc.ca >

This is the 63rd update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 21.5 C during this run. Back in run #55 (25.5 C), both tansy, and tarragon doubled maximum lifespan from 1 month to a more normal 2 months. I believe the breeding bottle used then probably held diseased flies, and tansy and tarragon were acting as antiviral agents. In this run I check to see what benefit these supplements provide at a lower temperature. In addition both honey and glucose can help reduce spoilage of food, so the effect of these food preservatives, both by themselves, and in conjunction with other supplements with (supposed) antiviral activity were also tested.

Perhaps due to bad luck 1 tsp honey failed by itself to offer any benefit, although glucose did well. Using glucose as a positive control, it does appear that tansy, tarragon, and paprika offer a further benefit.

Increasing the dosage of honey to 2 tsp also further increased survival. It is quite possible that none of these supplements would have any effect, if I was running my experiments under clean room conditions, and with the fly food being changed every day. However this would be so time consuming as well as expensive, that I doubt I would undertake any experiments in the first place.

The present experiment produced one centenarian fly. I ascribe this to the lower temperature at which this experiment was conducted.

Run #63

Percent Survival on Day

supplement 17 22 27 32 42 48 53 61 68 74 83 95 105 114
control 69 69 65 62 50 12 8 4 0 - - - - -
glucose 1 tsp 88 88 81 81 69 44 31 31 19 6 0 - - -
honey 1 tsp 73 53 47 47 33 20 20 13 7 0 - - - -
+ paprika 1/4 tsp 82 71 71 71 65 59 59 53 47 41 29 12 0 -
+ rice protein 1 tsp 80 75 65 50 35 30 25 10 5 5 0 - - -
+ soy protein 1 tsp 76 72 68 64 44 36 28 12 4 0 - - - -
+ tansy 1/4 tsp 67 67 67 62 62 52 52 33 24 14 0 - - -
+ tarragon 1/4 tsp 55 65 60 60 60 50 45 40 25 25 10 5 0 -
honey 2 tsp 86 77 77 64 55 50 36 36 32 27 9 5 5 0


This is the 64'th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 21.1 C during this run. I tried 2 tsp honey again, to see if lightning would strike twice. Black rice, and walnut/potato powders were also rechecked.

Walnut/potato proved to be a disappointment this time, but black rice, and honey again offered a benefit. I had hopes for everlasting flower, due to its name, but although I was impressed by its brilliant yellow colour, the flies did not seem especially fond of it.

Run #64

Percent Survival on Day

supplement 11 16 21 31 37 42 50 57 63 72 84 94 103
control 68 60 56 48 36 28 4 0 - - - - -
everlasting flower 1 tsp 90 70 67 36 36 21 18 18 15 9 6 3 0
hibiscus flower 1 tsp 86 71 71 50 50 36 29 7 0 - - - -
honey 2 tsp 75 67 67 50 50 50 33 25 25 8 0 - -
rice, black 1 tsp 93 86 79 57 43 36 29 21 14 14 7 0 -
rice, black 2 tsp 87 80 67 53 47 47 40 40 33 7 0 - -
walnut/potato 1 tsp 89 82 75 50 36 25 11 11 4 0 - - -
walnut/potato 2 tsp 65 46 35 27 23 19 12 0 - - - - -

This is the 65th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.6 C during this run. Here I test out 1/4 tsp paprika again, and look for any synergism between the life expectancy benefits of paprika with other supplements.

As before, 1/4 tsp paprika again increased life expectancy. Of the combinations, only cinnamon, and glucose appeared to offer any further benefit. Doubling the dosage of paprika, appeared to be toxic to the flies.

Run #65

Percent Survival on Day

supplement 3 12 24 34 43 54 62 70 80 87
control 100 94 53 35 6 6 6 0 - -
paprika 1/4 tsp 100 93 80 73 27 7 0 - - -
+cinnamon 1/4 tsp 100 80 60 40 40 27 27 7 0 -
+cumin 1/4 tsp 100 67 53 33 20 7 7 7 0 -
+glucose 2 tsp 100 93 79 64 57 36 21 7 0 -
+soy isoflavones 200 mg 100 89 89 44 22 11 11 11 11 0
+tarragon 1/4 tsp 100 64 27 18 9 0 - - - -
paprika tsp 89 44 33 11 11 11 0 - - -


This is the 66th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 22.3 C during this run. Here I take a look at various dosages of paprika, and glucose. [Extra water was added to the glucose supplemented bottles, so as to avoid dehydration stress.] With the good previous results from freeze concentrated elderberry juice in mind, I now try freeze concentrated boysenberry juice. I also check out a rather expensive supplement called citrulline, which is an effective extracellular antioxidant of known low toxicity.

No supplement increased maximum lifespan in this run, which is consistent with merely an anti-pathogen effect of the supplements. Freeze concentrated boysenberry juice did well, as expected. Increasing the dosage of glucose from 2 to 4 tsp added no additional benefit.

Citrulline added to glucose also offered no conclusive benefit. This result runs counter to free radical theories of "aging" (whatever that means), at least as it is applied to the extracellular space. It is interesting than in mammals all non-mitochondrial free radical theories of "aging" have been largely falsified. (see Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 373(1): 295-301 January 2000 "The Reductive Hotspot Hypothesis: An Update") The null result with paprika was something of a surprise. Since the paprika was from an old, opened container, the paprika may have oxidized somewhat. The effect of paprika freshness will be tested in the next run.

Run #66

Percent Survival on Day

supplement 10 18 26 36 43 49 56 64 73 82
control 65 65 53 18 6 6 6 6 6 0
boysenberry FC 89 85 78 56 37 30 26 15 0 -
glucose 2 tsp 91 65 48 35 22 4 0 - - -
+citrulline 1/16 tsp 89 78 72 28 17 6 6 6 6 0
+citrulline 1/8 tsp 88 64 52 24 12 4 4 0 - -
+citrulline 1/4 tsp 89 82 50 29 18 18 11 5 0 -
glucose 4 tsp 84 59 43 30 8 3 3 3 0 -
paprika, old 1/16 tsp 66 19 16 16 6 3 3 0 - -
paprika, old 1/8 tsp 81 73 69 8 4 4 0 - - -
paprika, old 1/4 tsp 65 60 35 15 15 10 10 0 - -


This is the 67th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 23.3 C during this run. Here I look at the effect of paprika freshness, and look at the effect of freeze concentration with coconut juice. For the first time I test CDP-choline.

The control results were better than with the last run, so I presume pathogens were less of a controlling factor in this experiment. Not coincidentally the average starting age of the flies probably was also lower than in the previous experiment, as the same breeding bottle that was used last run, was reused for this run. Fresh paprika had no significant effect, and old paprika proved to be mildly toxic.

CDP-choline provided a strong beneficial effect at the highest 500 mg dosage, so more testing of this supplement is in order. Freeze concentrating coconut juice offered no additional benefit, but coconut juice did prove to be as effective in increasing longevity as high dose CDP-choline.

Run #67

Percent Survival on Day

supplement 7 17 24 30 37 45 54 63 72
control 83 78 74 70 61 9 0 - -
CDP-choline 62 mg 90 60 55 45 35 0 - - -
CDP-choline 125 mg 100 83 76 66 52 28 10 0 -
CDP-choline 250 mg 100 85 85 65 58 31 15 0 -
CDP-choline 500 mg 100 89 89 89 89 48 26 4 0
cinnamon,old 1/16 tsp 96 93 52 41 19 4 4 0 -
coconut juice 100 85 85 81 69 42 23 4 0
coconut juice FC 100 81 69 62 54 38 23 4 0
oleuropein 35 mg 95 73 55 32 27 9 5 0 -
paprika, new 1/4 tsp 100 81 69 66 47 16 9 0 -
paprika, old 1/4 tsp 89 63 59 48 30 11 0 - -

This is the 68th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 23.6 C during this run. Choline and vitamin B12 share a synergistic action in stimulating brain acetylcholine, so here I team CDP-choline and methycobalamin to see what happens. Synephrine has been recommended as a relatively non-toxic alternative to ephedrine for weight loss. I've tested both before in separate runs, but here I pit both head to head in the same run.

Methylcobalamin turned out to be a dud, but CDP-choline by itself provided the best longevity results overall. Initially both doses of ephedrine, and the high dose of synephrine performed worse than control, but late in the run ephedrine, and low dose synephrine beat the control survival.

Eventually I'll have something more to report on CDP-choline, but for the next run I take another look at cinnamon and paprika.

Run #68

Percent Survival on Day

supplement 9 16 22 29 37 46 55 64 75
control 81 63 56 44 21 19 0 - -
apple pie spice 1/8 tsp 65 52 35 9 0 - - - -
CDP-choline 250 mg 79 63 63 58 42 26 11 0 -
+methylcobalamin 5 mg 86 76 67 43 10 0 - - -
charcoal steak spice 1/8 tsp 79 63 53 37 16 5 0 - -
ephedrine 12 mg 79 67 61 52 36 6 3 0 -
ephedrine 48 mg 63 59 50 47 34 17 13 3 0
methylcobalamin 1 mg 79 67 67 33 8 0 - - -
methylcobalamin 5 mg 72 63 50 22 6 3 0 - -
synephrine 14 mg 83 69 53 50 33 6 0 - -
synephrine 54 mg 60 48 44 28 12 4 0 - -


This is the 69th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 24.2 C during this run. Here I check to see if freshness is as important in cinnamon, as it is with paprika. I also recheck paprika for consistency in its lifespan advantage.

Aged cinnamon from an opened container proved to be surprisingly toxic. By comparison the two higher doses of fresh cinnamon offered a survival advantage late in life. The higher dosages of paprika also offered an advantage.

Run #69

Percent Survival on Day

supplement 6 13 21 30 39 48 59
control 100 84 68 16 8 0 -
cinnamon, new 1/16 tsp 100 71 29 24 12 6 0
cinnamon, new 1/8 tsp 100 89 74 42 26 0 -
cinnamon, new 1/4 tsp 100 90 72 52 17 7 0
cinnamon, old 1/4 tsp 95 65 15 10 0 - -
paprika, new 1/16 tsp 91 65 38 24 6 3 0
paprika, new 1/8 tsp 100 80 64 44 28 4 0
paprika, new 1/4 tsp 96 77 62 54 15 0 -


This is the 70'th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 24.4 C during this run. Here I test various mineral supplements at a dosage I had previously found to be relatively nontoxic for class of supplement.

Only sodium chloride offered an advantage, and then only late in life. Possibly aged flies have impaired immunity, and sodium chloride may have helped to suppress the growth of any microorganisms that could survive the mold inhibitor & citric acid combination already incorporated into the fly food.

Run #70 Percent Survival on Day
supplement 7 15 24 33 42 53
control 94 65 61 26 3 0
gypsum 1/32 tsp 97 79 72 14 0 -
magnesium citrate 1/32 tsp 100 67 58 17 4 0
magnesium sulfate 1/32 tsp 100 65 65 22 0 -
potassium nitrate 1/32 tsp 100 55 30 25 5 0
sodium bicarbonate 1/32 tsp 91 68 50 27 5 0
sodium chloride 1/32 tsp 93 57 53 43 10 0
sodium nitrate 1/32 tsp 96 54 46 19 4 0

This is the 71st update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 24.7 C during this run. Here I retest sumac, which showed a hit in a previous run, as well as some new supplements.

The only interesting result this time was with a product called Nyrene, which had 150 mg of valerian, and 50 mg of melissa(lemon balm).

Run #71 Percent Survival on Day
supplement 7 15 24 33 42 53 62
control 93 55 52 41 10 0 -
coconut cream 1/4 tsp 100 65 61 35 3 3 0
hibiscus rosa 1/4 tsp 95 47 37 26 5 0 -
meliot herb 1/4 tsp 100 56 44 36 4 4 0
marshmallow 1/4 tsp 88 54 42 33 13 0 -
valerian 150 mg & melissa 50mg 90 60 50 45 35 5 0
sumac 1/4 tsp 88 54 50 33 4 4 0
sumac tsp 81 42 35 32 16 10 0


This is the 72nd update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 24.7 C during this run. Here I retest bergamot, CDP-choline, and citrulline at some higher doses.

The 1/4 tsp dose of bergamot leaf again increased survival. A published experiment found that black tea also increased survival due to the presence of a volatile iron chelator, which prevented iron accumulation in fly tissues. I suspect that this volatile iron chelator, which is not present in green tea, may have been derived from the bergamot leaf, which is added to some black teas. Since I used bergamot leaf powder, rather than brewing a tea, the leaf powder may have released this volatile iron chelator gradually. At any rate, this is one theory explaining why bergamot appears to work at a low dose. The high dose might be inducing a marginal iron deficiency.

CDP-choline once again found the 500 mg dosage edging out the 250 mg dose, but mild toxicity appears to have set in at the 1000 mg dose. The 1/2 tsp dose of citrulline yielded a positive hit.

Run #72 Percent Survival on Day
supplement 7 16 25 34 45 54 63
control 93 89 61 25 7 0 -
bergamot leaf 1/4 tsp 100 86 81 62 19 0 -
bergamot leaf 1 tsp 100 63 58 32 16 0 -
CDP-choline 250 mg 100 100 65 30 15 0 -
CDP-choline 500 mg 100 75 71 46 11 0 -
CDP-choline 1000 mg 89 79 68 25 4 0 -
citrulline tsp 96 91 87 61 26 17 0
citrulline 1 tsp 100 84 68 32 4 0 -


5th update on food satiation experiments

Doug Skrecky <oberon@vcn.bc.ca>

This is the 5th update on my food satiation experiments, in which I compare my own ad libitum calorie intake of various foods over a period of one day.

Recently I examined the effect of caloric density on caloric intake of spaghetti. Daily intake of high palatability spaghetti was 2938 calories. Mixing 1.25 litres of water with the spaghetti in a separate test on a different day yielded an intake of 2964 calories. However replacing the water with 1.09 litre of cauliflower reduced total intake to just 1576 calories, without changing palatability. (Scalding the cauliflower, so that it remained firm was critical for maintaining palatability.) Substituting 1.03 litre of broccoli for the cauliflower yielded an intake of 1606 calories, but palatability was reduced to medium levels. The amount of chewing, as well as the total time to consume the spaghetti was increased when cauliflower, or broccoli, but not water was added.

At another extreme I tried eating nothing but low palatability blanched almonds all day. To my great surprise intake was the lowest in the test, at 1320 calories.

I have found that decreasing caloric density usually reduces intake in medium and high palatability foods. Apparently the key factor is the time taken to eat the food. In contrast low caloric density exerts no beneficial effect in low palatability foods. The two lowest intakes were for almonds, and rye bread. Both of these foods were eaten mostly during snacks, and major meals were themselves spontaneously replaced by large snacks. It appears snacking a lot may slightly reduce intake of low palatability foods.

(MEDIUM PALATABILITY) FOOD DENSITY CALORIC

INTAKE

almonds high 1320
rye bread medium 1388
Gala apples low 1413
chicken breast low 1478
rye crispbread high 1564
rice cake with turkey, mustard low 1602
vegetables/cottage cheese very low 1768
potato (skipped lunch next day) low 2179
average: 1589

(MEDIUM PALATABILITY) FOOD DENSITY CALORIC

INTAKE

spaghetti & 1.02 liter broccoli low 1606
yogurt, fruit, no fat & Gala apples low 1976
2% fat chocolate milk medium 2100
yogurt, fruit, sugar, fat medium 2354
rye sandwich with turkey, mustard medium 2371
peanuts (malabsorption) high 2689
average: 2183

(HIGH PALATABILITY) FOOD DENSITY CALORIC

INTAKE

yogurt, fruit, no fat low low 1483
spaghetti & 1.09 litre cauliflower low 1576
angel food cake, jam medium 2936
spaghetti medium 2938
spaghetti & 1.25 litre water low 2964
cookies & chili high 4055
average: 2659

Regulation and Risk

by Charles Platt < cp@panix.com >

It is, from time to time, suggested that the risk of iatrogenic death for cryonics patients (death as a result of medical procedures) would be reduced if physician-assisted premortem cryonics procedures are permitted in the future.

I respectfully disagree.

While of course I would much prefer to choose when procedures begin, instead of having to wait until literally my last gasp (which implies a prolonged prior period of inadequate oxygenation of the brain), if we reach a point where physicians are legitimately involved in the deaths of patients who wish to be cryopreserved, I tend to suspect this will mean that cryonics itself will become regulated as an extension of medicine. This is one of my greatest fears, and would significantly affect all aspects of the procedure and its economics.

Recently Alcor was able to switch to a totally new cryoprotectant, which offers significantly reduced ice damage. This decision involved no regulatory hurdles, no FDA approval, none of the millions of dollars of testing and proof that would be required if cryonics were subject to the same kind of oversight that we find in medicine. Likewise, we may choose to store patients at a higher temperature than -196 for excellent reasons, without having to justify this decision to a government body. And, we are free to employ a variety of people as standby technicians and operating room personnel.

While this lack of regulation may be scary to some potential clients, it enables very rapid progress while maintaining very low costs. I believe the cost of cryonics would become absolutely prohibitive for almost everyone if government regulation were instituted, and all cryonics organizations might be driven out of business if federal or state regulations were created to govern not only perfusion but storage.

This is the kind of risk that cannot be estimated in advance, especially because most government regulations tend to be created in response to one highly publicized complaint, scandal, or witch-hunt - in other words, a singularity. One highly publicized error involving someone's pet poodle, or something equally silly and unexpected, could bring down the wrath of a congressional investigation of the poodle owner happens to be related to a legislator.

Consider it axiomatic that the most damaging development is the one that you didn't foresee, or couldn't protect yourself against. The World Trade Center attack is a classic example. In short, shit happens, and I can only smile ruefully at attempts to quantify the amount of it that will happen over a period of decades, and the potential impact that may result.


As Others See us

Alan Hardy, Gerald England

New Hope International Review - http ://www.nhi.clara.net/online.htm

NHI Review, 20 Werneth Avenue, Gee Cross, Hyde, Cheshire SK14 5NL

Longevity Report #89

Various bits and pieces dealing with cryonics and its attendant problems, such as the generally unsympathetic reaction of coroners to the need for the early freezing of the deceased's head. A number of other pieces can be mentioned as a representative sample: Doug Skrecky's 57th update on his fly longevity experiments, this time looking again at the effect of rice protein on a fly's span of life; an article reacting to a clinical study on the effectiveness of the herb St. John's wort as an anti-depressant; and some tortured reflections from Charles Platt on the mathematical viability of investing in a cryonic future, of which the following is an extract:

However, if you are considering paying for it by depriving yourself of some quality of life at the present time, in the hope of buying life in the future, no rational choice can be made, because future life could turn out to be a nightmare just as easily as it could turn out to be a blessing.

Reviewer Alan Hardy

Longevity Report #91

This special extended issue comprises a single article, The Role of Enzymic Cofactors in Aging Or How to Live to 200 by Michael Price. It is a scientific paper, well documented with notes.

The research is based on experiments with fruit-flies. Whilst that may seem strange and even comic to non-scientists, the use of fruit-flies is scientifically sound. The paper concentrates on the effects of micro-nutrients [vitamins and minerals] on longevity. It discusses a number of theories of aging and examines misconceptions about vitamins.

This is an important piece of work. The manner of its presentation might put off the lay reader, but those with a scientific background will applaud its rigour.

The conclusions it makes regarding longevity are general and the author warns against individuals acting without consulting a medical professional. Each individual needs to consider other factors and their personal condition - what is appropriate for one may be detrimental to another.

The full article can be read on the magazine's website and its author is available and willing to discuss points raised.

reviewer: Gerald England.


What Scares the Bioethicists about Cryonics?

A Commentary on Miami Herald Article Quotes

by Steve Harris < sbharris@ix.netcom.com >

I had some problems with the views quoted by some of the establishment experts in a Miami Herald article. Therefore below find:

EXCERPTS from "FROZEN IN TIME Preserving bodies for the future - science or science fiction?" by Robert L. Steinback

<rsteinback@herald.com >

With COMMENTS by Steven B. Harris, M.D.

EXCERPT:

"Critics -- which include nearly all mainstream scientists -- dismiss the optimism of cryonicists as wildly exaggerated and fanciful.

''They are effectively destroying the body and preserving the pieces, hoping someone in the future can put the pieces back together,'' observed Georgia Institute of Technology professor Jens Karlsson, an expert in cryogenic tissue preservation. Cryonics, he said, ``is generally viewed as a fringe pseudoscience.''

COMMENT:

As was the idea of manned heavier-than-air flight, heart transplant, artificial hearts, laser weapons, space travel, cloning of mammals, and so on. Once upon a time, they were all "science fiction." No longer. There's nothing "pseudo-scientific" about speculating about advances in science in the future, and planning for them. For example, DNA samples from endangered species are now being preserved, in hopes that we will later be able to clone them, even though we're nowhere near being able to do so now, in many cases. But is THAT experiment "pseudoscientific"? No more so than the standard practice of archeologists, who deliberately preserve some part of every site untouched, in the expectation that archeological techniques will improve in the future. They can't prove that such techniques will improve in the future, but in the past, they always have. So, is this practice foolish?

Cryonics is a long-term medical experiment (an experiment in neural archeology, if you will). Cryonics is of course NOT accepted, standard, proven, orthodox medicine. But nobody ever claimed it was. The question before us is not whether 9 out of 10 doctors recommend it, but whether or not it is foolish.

EXCERPT:

"Most cryobiologists -- scientists who study the effects of cold on animal and plant tissue -- abhor the topic."

COMMENT:

So? It is also true that others don't abhor it. The majority in a scientific field isn't always right. EVERY new and revolutionary idea in science, from Pasteur's disease/germ theory to Einstein's relativity theory, started out being held by only a minority of experts. Max Planck proposed that science progresses only "funeral by funeral" (of old scientists). He wasn't completely right, but there's enough truth in the statement to make it pithy.

EXCERPT:

''The largest society in the field, the Society of Cryobiology, explicitly states in its bylaws that those practising cryonics are not allowed in the society and will be removed if discovered,'' said a prominent cryobiologist and member of the society's board of directors, who asked that he not be identified."

COMMENT:

A dozen years ago he'd have been proud to be identified. Why not now? When an organization starts to be secretive about just who thinks what "officially" about an issue, that is evidence that the position is starting to be get controversial (i.e., there is some significant disagreement about it). The Society of Cryobiology has never exercised that clause to exclude any member, even though it does contain members sympathetic to cryonics, and everyone in the Society knows it. The present working policy of the organization is in fact closer to "don't ask, don't tell." That represents social change.

EXCERPT:

"Skeptics consider Alcor's $120,000 price tag for full-body preservation wasted money."

COMMENT:

And that's fine. For ANY given piece of research spending on a very long-term payoff, from the Superconducting Super Collider to the International Space Station, one can find many sceptical professionals in the field, who believe it to be wasted money. All large projects emerge from criticism.

However, cryonicists are not spending government money, but instead are paying for their own medical experiment. Yes, many people don't think they are being wise. However, again, so what? Remember, the March of Dimes paid for the first polio vaccine research by Salk because the federal government wouldn't-- the establishment thought such research was premature, and would be wasted money. They were wrong. This last century holds a long list of people later proven right, from Robert Goddard to Craig Venter, whose research the federal government initially thought was a waste of money, and refused to fund. History is the judge of truth, not government grants success, nor present academic majority opinion.

EXCERPT:

''They couldn't pay me to do it,'' said Donna J. Osterhout, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Hospital in Syracuse. ``It's such folly at this point in time."

COMMENT:

If it's folly, this author wants to know first why anyone couldn't PAY Dr. Osterhout to do it? This makes no sense. She could use the money to go to movies, or donate it to the poor. If cryonics is not going to work, what is she scared of?

"It's such folly at this point in time..." ?? What if it doesn't turn out to be folly, in the future, Dr. Osterhout? How are you planning to apologize, given the consequences?

EXCERPT:

[Dr. Osterhout]: "Knowing what we do about science at present and what we need to learn, it won't work.''

COMMENT:

If Dr. Osterhout knows something about neuroscience that is good evidence it won't work, and can't ever be made to work in the future, this author would very much like her to come out with it. Perhaps she told the reporter, who refused to print it?

And now for the leftist sociological arguments:

EXCERPT:

"It won't matter much to those now in cold storage if cryonic preservation fails -- they'll still be dead. But some question whether promoting the promise that a deceased loved one could live again is a cruel thing to do to survivors.

''We already have a problem dealing with death,'' said Kenneth Goodman, director of the University of Miami's Bioethics Program. ``My fear is that it will increasingly prevent people from arriving at mature views about death and dying.''

COMMENT:

Dr. Goodman no doubt thinks his own views on death are "mature," except that he forgot to say what they are. Was that out of cowardice at being out of the mainstream?

As Dr. Goodman must well know, the majority of Americans NOW think that consciousness survives destruction of the brain, and they hope for a physical resurrection of the body. If that position on theistic resurrection is not "mature," it follows that this set of beliefs, because so prevalent in the population, must surely do more harm to a society which cannot "deal with death" than will belief in the tenets of cryonics, which are held only by a small minority of people. In that case, Dr. Goodman's path is clear: he needs to attack mainstream religion. If Dr. Goodman is an atheist/materialist who thinks death is and always must be the end, and that those who think otherwise are not "mature" people, and who do harm to society by thinking otherwise, then Dr. Goodman has a long list of mainstream foes to get through before he gets down to the few people who are cryonicists. My suggestion for him: let him have the guts, in that case, to come out with his full agenda. Is he holding back in speaking out against most Christians (say) for the same reason that animal rights activists throw paint on women in fur coats, but not bikers in leather jackets? It's always easy to go after relatively powerless minorities first, is it not?

On the other hand, if Dr. Goodman himself actually agrees with the majority and thinks that those who hope for theistic resurrection of cremated brains, are "mature," while at the same time those who hope for technological resurrection of cryopreserved brains are "immature," then this author believes he still has some explaining to do. For example, how does he feel about those who place hopes in Santa Claus, say-- or the Tooth Fairy?

EXCERPT:

''I personally feel that it is inevitable that we will perfect suspended animation in 10 to 20 years,'' said Bill Faloon, a founder of Fort Lauderdale-based Life Extension Foundation, an organization for people interested in extending the human life span.

Not likely, say mainstream scientists.

''This doesn't pass the straight-face test,'' said UM's Goodman. ``There just is no science there. The idea that some time in the future scientists will be able to reconstitute people with the same memories and knowledge -- they're not just talking about violating the laws of nature. That's optimism on steroids.''

COMMENT:

Any given timeline, of course, may indeed be optimism. The idea that we'd have men on the moon less than half a century after Robert Goddard started fooling around with small liquid fuelled rockets, was optimism on steroids. But it violated no physical law. This author would like to know what physical laws Dr. Goodman thinks would be violated by a success in cryonics. Without a violation of physical law being involved, why should it not just a matter of time (albeit perhaps a long time) before technology solves this, or any other, naturally solvable problem in medicine?

EXCERPT:

"Experts can't even say for certain what makes people who they are, Goodman argues. Even if a cryopreserved human could be reanimated, would it still be the person who was frozen?

''Think of a memory from childhood,'' Goodman said. ``Where'd that come from? What combination of cells and electrical impulses was able to summon that up? That's a scientific mystery.''

COMMENT:

Indeed. So this author believes, also. But given that Dr. Goodman does, one would think that he would therefore be humble enough to say that he doesn't KNOW if those memories are still preserved in a cryopreserved brain, or not. In this latter matter we appear to have Dr. Goodman arguing against the neuroscientist Dr. Osterhout, who is sure that "[k]nowing what we do about science at present and what we need to learn, it [cryonics] won't work.'' One wishes that Dr. Osterhout will travel from Syracuse down to Miami to educate the bioethicist Goodman, so that they may present a united front against those of us who remain in the dark as to just what memories are stored where, and how, in the structure of the brain.

And now, for the thing that REALLY scares the bioethicists:

EXCERPT:

"If cryonics ever does work, there would still be pressing ethical questions to consider.

Who would perform the first reanimation experiments, and upon which clients? Would people in the future even want us there? Would their notions of ethics, morality and quality of life even permit reanimation? `SUPREME EGOTISM' ''There is a supreme egotism in the idea of immortality,'' said John Baust, director of the Institute of Biomedical Technology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. ``The individual who freezes himself or herself to come back in the future makes the assumption he will be a contributor to that society and that they would want him.''

COMMENT:

And why does THAT follow, we'd like to know? Being "frozen" (or cryopreserved by other means) is a proposal and experiment, not an assumption.

But let's back up. To begin with, this author is shocked, positively shocked, that a biomedical academic might be arguing by inference that human beings do not have intrinsic value just on the basis of their humanity, but rather instead only value assigned to them by others, on the basis of whether they "contribute to society" or whether others "want" them. If Dr. Baust made this suggestion as regards the continued survival of the handicapped, the elderly, or those who have progressive mental or motor diseases, the bioethical community would pillory him for a fascist. It is a measure of the bigoted disregard which many academics hold for cryonicists that any of them feels free to suggest this in public, as regards this group of people. For shame.

If preserved cryonicists are ever reanimated, which is the premise here, that means they were never truly dead to begin with, but were simply people in a deep coma who had the potential to be wakened, and who had expressed the desire to be wakened, when possible. The ethics of this situation, one would think, are fairly plain. One wonders what is bothering the "bioethicists" here.

Let the reader remember that cryonicists are paying for the trip to the future out of their own pockets; they demand nothing proactive of the taxpayer, or indeed of anyone who thinks the practice is folly. Cryonics is a proposal by people who will one day be helpless-- rather like someone under surgical anesthesia-- but who beforehand have taken whatever steps they can to help themselves through the ordeal. The funds of some cryonicists may or may not one day be able to pay for their own reanimation-- we don't know. If not, in some or all cases, that doesn't mean that charity from the future cannot be fairly ASKED for, or freely given. It 's not egotistical (in the usual sense of the word) for the drowning man to hope to be thrown a line, instead of modestly choosing to sink. If no one, including fellow cryonicists in the future, is willing to assist a given cryonicist suspended today, then the problem will take care of itself, without the use of force. So where is the problem?

This author asserts that we all ultimately march into the future every day, wondering how much others will value us there, and what we can contribute. Each day, we choose to live and not die, believing at least somewhat in our own worth. As for charges of "egotism"-- if human beings really do have intrinsic worth, it is hardly egotistical for any one human to hope that other human beings in the future will recognize this value. Indeed, this author suggests it would be cynical and self-hating for any person to refuse medical care that they can afford, in order to let themselves die-- simply out of fear that perhaps one day nobody will value them at all. How sad to do this, as well. Dr. Baust, of course, is free to follow that path for himself, but this author would suggest some counseling and a trial of a good antidepressant first. As a first step in self-help, Dr. Baust may want to took into his bathroom mirror and repeat "I'm valuable as a person. I'm alive, and I'd like to stay alive. And that's ..... OKAY."

EXCERPT:

"Ettinger's book captured the imagination of futurists, survivalists, science-fiction lovers and technology buffs. Even today, the typical cryonics client is better educated, richer and geekier than the general population."

COMMENT:

This last may be true, but it's also true of nuclear physicists and bioethicists. Let's all try to be nice to each other anyway.

EXCERPT:

Then in 1992, Darwin himself broke with Alcor and other cryonicists, accusing them of slick marketing rather than scientific inquiry.

COMMENT:

Let's not create false impressions. Darwin broke with some cryonicists, but not all of them.

EXCERPT:

''I am becoming convinced that our . . . critics are quite right in asserting that cryonics is not good science or even science at all,'' Darwin wrote in a farewell letter now posted on the Internet.

COMMENT:

Dramatic as the letter sounds, it turned out to be a farewell letter to Alcor, not to cryonics. The facts are that Darwin and others (including this author) then proceeded to form their own independent cryonics organization.

EXCERPT:

[Mike Darwin] ``At what point do we look at ourselves and ask whether what we are doing is rational or purely a religious exercise? At what point do we wake up and discover we are a cult?''

COMMENT:

The answer suggested by this author is that cryonics will become a cult at the point when all cryonics providers in the world stop doing quality control on body cryopreservation cases, and quit worrying over whether or not they are doing an ever-better job with each one. That has yet to happen. The rest of the story on Mike Darwin, is that the people who took over Alcor 's cryopreservation practices in the early 90's from Darwin, thus provoking Darwin's public comments, are now themselves gone from Alcor. In turn, many of those who left Alcor to form their own cryonics organization at that time because of perceived neglect of these issues, have since returned to Alcor (those people include this author, but privacy concerns prevent being specific about others). So long as cryonics as a global institution somewhere retains mechanisms to be self-correcting in the face of new physical data on cryopreservation techniques, it will never be a true religious cult.

EXCERPT:

"Viewed one way, cryonic preservation is just another post-mortem alternative to cremation or burial.

"Still, doubters consider any money spent on the practice a wasted investment.

''If you have enough money to turn yourself into a Ted-sicle, then you have enough money to help somebody in need today,'' said Goodman, the UM bioethicist."

COMMENT:

And of course this is also true if you have money to pay for tennis or music or ski lessons, or for orthodontics, or for nicer-than-minimum housing, cars, clothing, etc, etc. If Dr. Goodman will permit this author a visit to his home, it's probable that we can trim much fat from his lifestyle, so that the money can be sent to needier people than Dr. Goodman, somewhere. And if we are allowed to cut all expenses in Dr. Goodman's health practices and medical benefits that can't be strictly supported by the hardest standard of scientific evidence, we can no doubt find even more to spend on the poor. This author is pretty certain that professional academic bioethicists don't in general live like Franciscan monks.

To be sure, Dr. Goodman might complain, if we did this, that we were trying to mind his business, instead of our own. But of course, that's just the point. How did cryonics spending get to be Dr. Goodman's business as a "bioethicist"? Does any money spent selfishly on ANY aspect of living by anyone become fair game for censure by professional "ethicists," if they merely stick "bio" in front of their titles? How odd.

One cannot find Dr. Goodman attacking Martha Stewart Living in the newspapers, though. That's the problem. What this author wishes to ask is just what is it about CRYONICS which makes otherwise tolerant and liberal people suddenly become snidely and virtuously self-righteous about how other people spend their own money? The average cryonicist, however misdirected he may one day turn out to be, is after all spending money trying to save his own life, and the lives of his family. The amount of money required on enough extra life insurance to cover cryonics is less than money spent on the average smoking habit, or the entertainment budget for many families, and is certainly less than the 10% tithe asked for by many churches. And yet money spent for cryonics insurance-- which certainly produces many of the psychological benefits that entertainment and tithing do-- bothers bioethicists far more than entertainment and tithe spending. Why IS that, Dr. Goodman? What's REALLY bothering you? Are only "mainstream" entertainments and spiritual quests and missions ethically permitted to people? Why do some "bioethicists" think so? It's a mystery that only people like you can explain.

It's always hazardous to speculate upon the hidden motives of other people, but the reactions of many bioethicists and other official scientists to cryonics don't really make sense unless interpreted in some other way. This author's supposition is that perhaps bioethicists as a group are bothered more by cryonicists than they are by (say) people who have themselves cremated and launched into space, not because they don't think cryonics will work, but because at some hidden level, they are afraid it might. That would be intolerable from the position of the bioethicist (consider the implications!), so it must be quite vigorously rejected. Dr. Osterhout, the neuroscientist, is quoted as saying they couldn't PAY her to be cryopreserved. Is she being literal? If so, again, why not? And what about Dr. Goodman, if the money were given to his favourite charity? If he's "mature" enough in attitudes about his own death to have already made arrangements to have himself dissected at his local Miami medical school (bravo if so), perhaps we can arrange for only his head to be cryopreserved, and just his body dissected? How about it?

Steven B. Harris, M.D.

Cryonicist


Progress

by Ron Havelock < RonHave@aol.com > CI Member

Regrading the inevitability of progress, it is quite possible that our present very fragile cryonics movement could be wiped out by malevolent forces at any time. We have no reason to be sanguine about that! However, in the long run the essential ideas of cryonics will not be erased from human memory. Once written and recorded, then widely disseminated, it is essentially impossible to stamp out ideas, even though it has been tried often enough. If our ideas are sound and based on an ever-expanding knowledge of science with its accompaniment of assorted applications, as I believe it is and will continue to be, then the movement will be revived and will eventually achieve success. Unfortunately, that is cold comfort [pun intended] for present-day cryonauts, both stored and prospective, because we are vulnerable, like any fringe group with radical ideas, to legal and non-legal challenges. Our frozen members have moral and symbolic value to us even though most of us probably suspect that many or all of them are actually doomed because the circumstances of their demise and the fact that our past and current know-how is so limited.

My guess is that our future will not be secured until it is clearly demonstrated that whole organs of some complexity can be frozen and then thawed for re-use, most likely in the burgeoning transplant business for which it would be a huge step forward. Once those people are in the game, there will be a great expansion of both knowledge and applications for what is thankfully now a widely accepted and established socio-technical system [I saw a recent Nova piece which clearly demonstrated this. Transplant medicine has come a long way. We, of course, will be on the periphery of all this, but the plausibility of our premise will shoot up and some establishment types will begin to come over. Then, perhaps, whoever remains frozen will be safe to be preserved very long term in their current state, however inadequate that may be.

Now back to the question of 'progress' per se. Without meaning to sound too pompous, I have given a lot of thought to that subject and am in the middle of drafting a book on that very subject, tentatively entitled The Forward Function. Others have written extensively on this subject before me and I recommend, in particular a fine, hugely researched but very readable tome by C. Owen Paepke, entitled The Evolution of Progress Random House, 1993. Paepke ignores cryonics, and gives no reference to Ettinger, but it is still a hell of a good source. He is also far too pessimistic for my taste, not, in my opinion, seeing where his own research path has to lead. There was no doubt a long period in human pre-history where nothing much happened. For literally millions of years, a time frame which is hard to grasp, we were simply what our genes dictated even though we were a very successful adaptation which managed to spread out from Africa and populate almost all the land surface of the earth before we made anything we would now call progress. Of course, there must have been an evolution of both language and social organization and probably many extinction of particular languages and social organizations along the way. That all began to change when we started to build permanent structures and started making records of what we did to pass on to future generations. Since then it has been a fairly continuous upward trek, punctuated at times with horrific wars, famines, and plagues. It is not a straight line function by any means. However, it is not nearly as discontinuous as some of you seem to believe. Take the middle ages, for example. Years ago at Harvard I took a course in the history of science from I.B.Cohen, at that time the reigning guru in that field. One thing I took away from his course was how much advance their was, particularly in technology, during the so-called "dark ages." One huge advance was the development of the first universities in Italy, France, and England. Perhaps another key item was a great advance in ship building and navigation which allowed for world-wide exploration and trade by the end of the fifteen century, but there were many other inventions and transfers of knowledge made possible by extended travel, especially from the far east which had good paper and movable type as well as the infamous gunpowder. Once we had printing and wide distribution of printed items, there was no stopping the rapid advance that followed. I am not sure there was any one key item because knowledge and invention went from a trickle to a stream to a torrent in the last five hundred years.

Regarding the acceleration of progress, I haven't quite figured out how to document what I strongly believe to be true. In the mid 1980's I ran a project where we studied the early development of the personal computer, its all-important user interface and the internet, all efforts largely mounted in universities and funded by the Department of Defense. I am astounded now at the spead with which the Internet later took off from its origins almost as an academic toy dreamed up by computer nerds [the idea was to simply fugure out how one mainframe computer at one university could communicate with another of a different make and standard at qanother university.] Since then I have also become aware of the incredible advances in bio-tech which really have their origins in the Watson-Crick discovery of the double helix [only 50 nyears ago, a mere twinkle in time].

I will not go on with my 'proof' here but I think the record, if we could possibly summarize it, would clearly demonstrate my point. Now back to cryonics. One of the burdens we bear is the skepticism of our fellow humans about progress in general and science-technology progress in particular. The prevailing ethos among both liberals and conservatives is that in the long run we are DOOMED, so that the founding premise of cryonics that there will be a very bright future for human kind which we want, somehow to be a part of, is pie in the sky. Religious people may be 'optimistic' that there will be a day of judgement or something but it has no earthly connection. The secular humanists, on the other hand, are mostly consumed by a vision of the limits of growth and a fear that 'advances' in science and technology will lead to a relentless environmental degradation and untold future horrors [e.g. Kevin Costner's Water World.] Science fiction mostly reflects these negative stereotypes. All I can say, folks, is that these visions of the future have no basis in history. It is only when we look backward that we see an ever-declining level of human life quality to the meanness, unpredicability, and brevity of our pain-and-huger filled lives. I am hopeful for my long term future but with plenty of doubts, not about the future but whether I and my current fellow cryonauts will be able to get there.

Mark Plus writes:

Progress in all fields of knowledge and its technological applications, e.g. to life extension and enhancement, is absolutely inevitable in the long run, even if humans do a lot of stupid and regressive things along the way, such as barring this or that kind of research. These actions as well as catastrophes of various kinds can slow things down, but the general trend is obvious. We never really go backward; we don't unlearn what is once learned. Furthermore, the progressive trend has accelerated tremendously over the last 3 or 4 centuries and most obviously also in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Unfortunately, technical knowledge can be lost, sometimes for centuries. The Romans built impressive structures with concrete, but after the fall of the western empire, the knowledge for making Roman-style concrete was forgotten until the recipe was independently rediscovered in the 19th Century.

More to the point, however: Because of the success of the wealth revolution in the U.S., our society has moved well away from an engagement with nonhuman reality, characterized by mining, farming, manufacturing, building, etc., where the majority of people were disciplined by the tangible consequences of their efforts. Now we spend our lives playing post-industrial "games between persons," as sociologist Daniel Bell characterizes them. In such an environment, where skill at hominid politics matters more than getting physical reality to do what you want, scientific & technological knowledge will be devalued.

That's why the science & engineering departments at American universities are full of foreign and immigrant students who grew up in exiguous environments. The smarter & more energetic American students tend to enter parasitic professions like law, where you practically have a license to confiscate wealth accumulated by others if you play the game skilfully. The change in economic incentives in this country makes the sustainability of progress less of a sure thing than it seemed 30-40 years ago.

It's not "religious" or "science fictional" if you can do it.


Getting Spouses to Sign Up

by James Swayze

Personally, I feel that the best way to get spouses to join us is to remind the spouse that is not in favour of cryonics that they are supposed to love their spouse that is involved.

They should sign up, if funding allows it, merely to assuage the ill feelings that their not doing so creates in their loved one. These feelings will run the gamut of horrifying emotions which the non cryonics believing spouse should from love alone wish to ease the burden of from their loved one. One of these is guilt for not being able to persuade. Another is the terrible anguish over the knowledge that this, to the cryonics believer--most often, is seen as the ONLY way to eternal or extremely extended life. Today, at least, not choosing cryonics is choosing absolute death, absolute oblivion.

We all must unfortunately eventually harden ourselves to the awful aspect that so many in the world will be missing this opportunity but so much worse so is to harden oneself to the egregious fact that so many of our loved ones will also simply miss out. There is for now ONLY one chance. If only our loved one's could understand and feel for only a moment this terrible crushing angst, they would immediately understand and right then and there agree to sign up. Sometimes I feel it so badly I just want to grab and shake them silly... shake the doubt, the fear, the blinding dogma, straight out of them!! Sometimes it's all I can do to keep the tears back. Why can't they just accept reason? It amounts to grief, terrible grief felt beforehand and bound to linger interminably after. If they only knew what their decision - not to choose life - is condemning us to - to an eternity of, they would surely, out of love alone, acquiesce. Why shouldn't they? What have they to lose? Do they truly love us? Is our love, exhibited by this terrible grief we feel for their loss, somehow greater than their own? Are they incapable of empathizing?

In most cases these loved one's simply don't believe cryonics will work. SO WHAT! So, if it doesn't, what have they to lose, why should they care if they don't believe in it in the first place? Sign up anyway, if only to indulge us. Do it because you love us! [Bumper Sticker alert: Cryonics--Because you care] In other cases it is religious conviction that holds our loved ones back. They feel doing this is slighting their faith somehow... somehow telling their higher being that they really don't believe all that much because they are going to have a back up plan. HOGWASH! If they are merely indulging us to assuage our angst as an act of love, what cruel god would judge them harshly? None worth worshipping that's for certain!

Another and perhaps the most difficult case, is that they fear the future will be apocalyptic or dystopic. This is simply irrational. It's plain to see life today is markedly much better, despite the modern dangers, than it ever has been in all of history. Unfortunately the apocalyptic meme is all around us, pervasive and strong... thoroughly ingrained. From the bible to sci-fi to the evening news it oozes from every pore. The only shield from its effects is education... especially an understanding of statistics.

Regarding the bible, it must be pointed out and pounded in that there really IS NO prophecy in it at all. That which has been purported as prophecy is a sham. The two main books Daniel and Revelation are both the worst shams. Daniel was written from historical perspective in such a manner as to appear to be and was claimed to be pre-empting the events allegedly foretold. This was an ancient and common practice. It is a flat out lie--also known as Pseudepigrapha. As to revelation, it was only meant for the times of the Romans and Nero is the so called Beast. After all he was the first to begin killing Christians in the Roman Coliseum for amusement... a rather beastly thing to do. Transliteration of his full name reveals the notorious 666 mark of the beast.

Regarding sci-fi, again only education about the good that has been predicted and a healthy study of the real trends in history, then finally a realization that it is merely sensationalism for entertainment sake, can do anything to neutralize sci-fi's deleterious apocalyptic meme effects.

Regarding the news, here again one must understand that now more than anytime in the past we have the ability to actually see and hear events from all over the world all the time, instantly. Sure it looks and sounds bad but years ago you'd never have ever heard about which tribe in Africa was genocidaly murdering another... and other like news. We are inundated daily and we tend to focus on the bad. This is a survival technique. We naturally focus on what dangers to avoid and so they weight our perceptions more heavily. We must consciously realize every day that statistically, "per capita", we are way way better off than ever before. I for one would not even be alive if I had been born even two generations before my own... few in the past ever survived a broken neck.

Apocalyptic expectations for the future can be countered, but it takes time and concerted and constant effort. We may all hope that in time as cryonics gains in popularity or shows more promise via the successful preservation and return of organs, that more of our loved ones will catch on and join us. The problem is that will be too late for some. We are all aging and are varied ages from young to old. Age will catch up with some and illness or injury may do the same to others. Where funds are not an issue we must encourage our loved ones to join us as if it were the supreme act of love and devotion. After all, how many people adopt their spouses religion so as to be not "unevenly yoked"? Is this any different?

James -
Cryonics Institute of Michigan Member!
The Immortalist Society Member!
The Society for Venturism Member!

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