Re: Cryonics on ABC World News Tonight

From: Chris Russo (
Date: Thu Feb 15 2001 - 08:10:20 MST

At 23:36 -0800 2/14/01, Jeff Davis wrote:
>It's the 'ethical' part that puzzles me. I don't think it's unethical to
>expose folks to the 'strain' of debate and discussion--even when seen by
>some as frivolous or tedious.

Given that you have no legal basis for your proposed court challenge,
it's unethical to tie doctors up in court and force them to waste
their money defending themselves.

>Gene Leitl mentioned the multitude of people who had died without benefit
>of suspension, and used the term medical malpractice.

Malpractice requires a legally "reasonable" level of negligence.
Cryonics currently is nothing more than fantasy. It has a zero rate
of return of people to the human population, and I've yet to see any
evidence that that's going to change right over the horizon... or the
next horizon... or the one after that. No doctor is being
demonstrably negligent for not suggesting cryonics to his dying

>Nitrogen was
>liquified for the first time back in 1877, so theoretically, everyone who
>has died since that time could have been suspended.

Oh, had they solved crystallization problems back then as well? I
didn't think that we'd even fully done that today.

> Ettinger first
>published his cryonics thesis in "The Prospect of Immortality" back in

So, he discovered how we can successfully even come close to
achieving restoration from a cryonic state? No.

> Whatever date you choose, we're talking about a lot of people who
>have died since, and been condemned, perhaps unnecessarily, to dust. As
>technology progresses and the thesis gains credence--more people 'get it',
>not just the forward thinking types--you reach a point where arguably,
>ridicule and arbitrary dismissal become negligent in an of themselves.

Sure, if the technology progresses and the thesis gains credence
because of the scientific evidence, then doctors who ignore that
evidence are being negligent. My problem with your call to sue
doctors for negligence is that we're not even close to having
evidence of any benefits from cryonics, so you have no case.

>Ironically this is not because the facts have changed, but rather, because
>public perception has.

No, you need a little thing called "scientific evidence". You're
suggesting that doctors pursue unscientific treatments for their
patients, or they'll be sued.

By the same logic, medical professionals could be sued for not
advising all of their dying patients that they should believe in
Jesus Christ. If we can't base a belief upon scientific principles,
we might as well go with a popularity contest, right? Next to the
number of people in this world (doctors included) who believe that
Jesus Christ is the solution to death, cryonics adherents are nothing.

>When 'ridiculous' changes to 'perhaps'. A medical
>professional has a duty to provide the best care that he can based on
>rational judgement, not on irrational prejudices or ossified beliefs.

The only thing that's irrational here is the claim that doctors are
being negligent for not pursuing cryonics with their patients as a
viable medical treatment.

Would we want to see our medical professionals be constantly engaged
in lawsuits based on wishful speculation? I want the medical
professionals who treat me and my family to be firmly entrenched in
the scientific method and all that extends from it. I don't want my
doctor to talk to me about Jesus Christ, Vishnu, the healing power of
magnets, acupuncture, or cryonics unless he has some scientific basis
for doing so.

>So, despite the fact that, as I said, I don't think the case would be won,
>I do think there is a strong ethical foundation. And, perhaps I failed to
>emphasize it strongly enough, the main intent (as a practical matter) of
>the civil action would not be to win, but rather to put the issue intthe
>public spotlight under conditions where the scientific and legal theories
>would be elaborated with thoroughness and seriousness. Flip dismissiveness
>and smirky ridicule might be somewhat reduced in a real court with real
>power and billions of real dollars (apparently, potentially) at stake.

In other words, you'd like to use frivolous lawsuits as publicity
stunts. You believe that it's okay for doctors and hospitals to have
to spend their time and money defending themselves in a court of law
so that you can get some relatively cheap advertisement.

By engaging in such activity, you are using a deficiency in our legal
system to destroy personal assets of those in the medical profession
- for advertising. You have no real grounds for a case, yet you'd
force those medical professionals into court with their well-paid
lawyers just to maybe get a little TV time.

As a related aside: Forcing others to help pay for your
advertisements is the tactic of spammers.

Why not do something legitimate, like pay for commercial advertising?
Why not start a business selling body storage and advertise through


Chris Russo

"If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought 
or deed, I will gladly change.  I seek the truth, which never yet 
hurt anybody.  It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance 
which does harm."
              -- Marcus Aurelius, MEDITATIONS, VI, 21

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