Re: Cryonics on ABC World News Tonight

From: Jeff Davis (
Date: Mon Feb 19 2001 - 22:49:07 MST


Regarding my advocacy of a lawsuit charging the medical profession with
negligently failing to adopt cryonics as a valid standard of care,

Chris Russo writes, and I submit a point by point rebuttal.

 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,

Certainly you believe that to be the case. I take the opposite position.
In such a situation it is for the court to make the determination.

>it's unethical to tie doctors up in court and force them to waste
>their money defending themselves.

It is unethical for those in the medical profession and the attendent
regulatory infrastructure to prematurely abandon and condemn to certain
death those in their care.

>>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.

What was legally reasonable yesterday may not be so today. With all due
respect, that's the nature of progress. Many professions tend to be
conservative in regards moving forward. Sometimes a little legal prodding
can hurry them along.
>Cryonics currently is nothing more than fantasy.

A point of view not held by all. Dr. Semmelweiss's ideas about sanitation
were once a 'fantasy'. Clearly what is fantasy and what is reality is a
matter of opinion, not fact. The consequence of this opinion is the
certain death of millions, a matter of importance too great to be left

> 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.

With all due respect, I don't think you understand cryonics. Please don't
feel insulted. There is an aspect of cryonics so unprecedented, so outside
the human experience, that even people intimately acquainted with cryonics,
people who know the FACTS, still don't 'get' it. Cryonics stops time.

>No doctor is being
>demonstrably negligent for not suggesting cryonics to his dying

Demonstrably? Time will tell. That's the point. Cryonics conquers time.

If the doctor doesn't know about cryonics one might reasonably question
whether he should know. If he does know, does he understand it, and does
he have a duty to understand it? These are questions for a court to
decide. With benefit of hindsight, ask yourself the same questions of the
doctors of Semmelweiss's time regarding the matter of sanitation.

>>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.

I detect a note of smugness. Try out the receiving end: You know, I
suppose, all that the future holds? I grovel before the awesome power of
your intellect,...or is it your crystal ball?

Cryonics stops time. That is its unprecedented power. What has been
accomplished from 1877 until today is irrelevant. The accomplishments of
the next thousand years?,... irrelevant. Cryonics brings to bear the
limits of the possible. Grasp the implications of that and you will then
'get' cryonics.
>> 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.

He 'gets' it. What will be possible in the future is unknown in the
present. What are the limits of the possible? You may believe restoration
will never be possible, I may believe the opposite. Irrelevant. Neither
of us can know. What we do know, for certain, is this: the future is
coming, and with it greater--far greater--technological capabilities. The
destiny of those not suspended is equally certain. It is death, dust.
Cryonics can't be worse, it can only be better.

>> 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.

The future that cryonics makes accessible is a reality dependent neither on
human credence nor the imprimtur of science. Look, I have no beef with
doctors, they're great, and I'm a good-for-nothing slug. But the harsher
the wake-up call, the sooner the payoff. Cryonics has possibilities,
burial has none.

> 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.

You don't understand cryonics. It accesses all that the future makes
possible. The future will have plenty of science and plenty of evidence.
It's not an evidence-free zone, you just can't 'cite' it from the present.

>>Ironically this is not because the facts have changed, but rather, because
>>public perception has.
>No, you need a little thing called "scientific evidence".

The thermodynamic cessation of time which cryonics achieves is sufficient
'scientific evidence'. Existence trumps science. Existence was a
'credible' fact long before science become the canonical authority on

>suggesting that doctors pursue unscientific treatments for their
>patients, or they'll be sued.
Thermodynamics is sufficiently scientific to validate cryonics. Results
accumulate with the passage of time. And the future is a very long time.

>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.

The analogy is inapplicable. Religion is clearly unscientific.

>>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.

You don't understand cryonics. It accesses all future
human/transhuman/post-human/non-human technological capabilities.

>Would we want to see our medical professionals be constantly engaged
>in lawsuits based on wishful speculation?

A rhetorical (ie screwy) question. "Wishful speculation" reflects your
failed understanding of cryonics. I am advocating one lawsuit, and one
lawsuit only (though, like the tobacco lawsuits and the energizer bunny, it
might keep going and going and going...): the lawsuit that forces the
powers that be to look at cryonics until they 'get' it.

>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.

A gratuitous grab bag.

Thermodynamics is science, ergo, cryonics is science (unusual in the
respect that it is an ongoing experiment.)

>>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.

You don't find the cryonics thesis compelling, so you feel put upon by
those who do, so you denigrate it with 'frivolous', 'stunt', and 'cheap
advertisement'. This is exactly the attitude which makes the lawsuit
necessary. I (and probably most cryonicists) don't denigrate the medical
profession, and I DEMAND the same respect. If it takes a court of law to
accomplish that, then so be it. And since the public nature of a lawsuit
serves to educate and inform the public about a life and death matter,
then, by design, it achieves a dual benefit.

>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.

More denigration stemming from your disrespect stemming from your failure
to understand cryonics. Using the legal system to correct a vast,
life-destroying failure of vision, is hardly what I would call a deficiency
of the legal system.

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

Oh, dear god, oh, I am like unto a spammer, oh woe is me, where have I gone
wrong, I repent, please forgive me, aaaaagh!

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

Good ideas, all. In fact, if I hadn't just spent a couple of hours focused
on rebutting the points in your response to my original post, I would
probably enthusiastically agree, and spend a couple of hours enlarging on
the possibilities. The lawsuit is an attack strategy, and has its
strengths. Advertising, infotainment, entertainment, and commercial
enterprise have theirs. I think I'll mostly leave the lawsuit to those
with a more combative nature. I'm a lover not a fighter (though I recall a
playboy cartoon from the sixties where a ribbon-bedecked military man was
in bed with a babe, and the caption read, "Make love AND war.")

Thanks, Chris. No hard feelings, or, as spike is wont to say,..."bygones".


Then, Adrian Tymes wrote:

>Jeff Davis wrote:
>> 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.
>No, there wouldn't. In fact, it would be to their advantage to have it
>treated as a flip dismissal - and the resulting negative media
>attention would most likely further marginalize true cryonics research.
>Chris puts it as "ethics"; I cast it in terms of practicality -


When I first read this, I saw your point and was inclined to agree. If
they could make it fly, then as Mark Twain observed:

There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by
ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass, for instance: his
character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler
animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling
complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt.
- Pudd'nhead Wilson

Ridicule is a powerful emotional tool, and has been used with great effect
to denigrate and marginalize cryonics. But its application is also a
strategy which, when confronted with an appropriate counter-strategy, can
backfire. Would attorneys, faced with sizeable damage claims, be
complacent? Perhaps. But they would certainly consider the overall
context, a context which would, at least at first, be set by the attorneys
for the plaintiffs.

Consider the following, which I wrote for a recent post to the cryonet:

When making your case for cryonics, don't fail to mention the vast
potential for reducing human suffering. Not only will ALL the depredations
of disease, injury, and aging be brought to a frozen standstill to
patiently await a reliably more favorable outcome (Contingent of course on
successful reanimation. I won't go into here why I believe SUCCESS IS A
NEAR CERTAINTY.), but the benefits extend to every one of the everyday
people who then get to live in a world of vastly diminished human
suffering. And don't forget the children. I don't know about you, but I
know of nothing in the world more heart-rending than the horror of children
with cancer, surrounded by caregivers and family, who, themselves in the
utmost torment, have to pretend, for the sake of the kids, that life is not
a howling tragedy. Remember the kids!]

If the case is built on the reduction of human suffering, and you show the
faces of all those kids (not to mention all the other faces of suffering),
and the defense team tries to belittle you, and ridicule you, they might
very well come off as heartless monsters. This sort of appeal to
prejudicial emotionalism might be controllable in the courtroom, but not in
the court of public opinion. The media would eat it up. They would like
nothing more than to play every angle for maximum air time (ie maximum
profit). The crank cryonicists angle would certainly be appealing. But
what about the rich heartless doctors and blood sucking lawyers as the
villians vs the white knight cryonicists defending the tragically suffering
children et al? Which high drama makes the media cash registers ring
longer more fiercely?

Tricky stuff this. You make the call.

Thanks Adrian.

                        Best, Jeff Davis

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

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