Re: Cryonics on ABC World News Tonight

From: Jeff Davis (
Date: Thu Feb 15 2001 - 00:36:51 MST

Extropes, various and sundry,

Recently, in this thread,

I said:

>>Thus my suggestion that a malpractice lawsuit for failure to notify,
>>inform, recommend, or apply cryonic suspension as a 'final meliorative
>>clinical intervention against irreversible morbidity'.

And Chris Russo replied:

>Just what Americans need - more reasons to be litigious.
>I sincerely hope that Extropians can approach their problems more ethically.

I was rather surprised Chris, at the nature of your response. Perhaps it's
the bottom feeding reputation of lawyers (despite this prejudice, few will
deny the importance of having a good one to help you when you need it), or
the overbearing, tedious, interminable, and maddeningly faulty process of
the government and the law and the courts. Without knowing your specific
objection, I can nevertheless sympathize with that part of your response
which expresses the feeling: "More bullshit litigation!!! Puh-leeze!
Spare us!"

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. Nor does it seem unethical to demand--or
should I write DEMAND--a fair and thorough hearing in the highest court of
civil authority, when one believes that the issue warrants it. It may not
be overly creative, but it certainly seems to be ethical. In fact, it
seems somewhat compulsory, like some kind of difficult but required civic
duty, Luther tacking his complaints up on the church door.

Gene Leitl mentioned the multitude of people who had died without benefit
of suspension, and used the term medical malpractice. Nitrogen was
liquified for the first time back in 1877, so theoretically, everyone who
has died since that time could have been suspended. Ettinger first
published his cryonics thesis in "The Prospect of Immortality" back in
1962. 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.
Ironically this is not because the facts have changed, but rather, because
public perception has. 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.

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 the same thread Adrian Tymes wrote:

>Until someone is successfully revived from cryo, having been dead for
>unrelated reasons before being put into cryo, cryo is not proven to
>work - and thus, with no evidence of the full cycle working, doctors
>are legally free to ignore it, just as they may ignore any other
>unproven therapy. Sorry.


That little 'Sorry' at the end. I liked it. Made me smile. You were
concerned about my feelings. Didn't want me to take it too hard. You're a
good chap. Seriously. I respect that. The world could do with a few
extra million bargeloads of kindness and gentle courtesy. I salute you.
And, not to worry, I didn't take it too hard.

Of course you're right, the doctors have until now been able to ignore the
cryonics option without undue concern. But, as I said, the object of the
civil action is not to nail them, but to get them and the public to pay
attention, see the matter in a serious light, and hopefully, embed the
meme. In a world abundant with technological 'miracles' cryonics becomes
less and less far-fetched.

                        Best, Jeff Davis

           "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                                        Ray Charles

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