Re: RAW's "Thought for the Week"

Arjen Kamphuis (
Tue, 9 Sep 1997 14:56:25 +0200

Derek Strong wrote:

>1) Can anyone explain to me what's going on psychologically with people
>who are on death's door? How can they spend so much of their thought-time
>getting the rest of us to value life so much, only to be willing and ready
>to give up life in favor of death the nearer it approaches? (I actually
>have lots of thoughts of my own about this... I'm just looking to hear what
>others have to say.)

I'm no psychologist but in my experience (personal, first-hand,
no_urban_legends_here) some individuals keep on fighting all the way and
others just curl-up and accept their mortality.
Last januari I was in the Andes, climbing Aconcagua. We evacuated a climber
who had taken too little time to acclimatise to the thin air (about 50% of
what you get at sea-level). This man (in his fifies) was having *severe*
mountainsickness. He had cerebral edema and there was water in his lungs,
causing further oxygen deprivation. His body temperature was below 30 deg
centigrade and he had been in this state for several hours. It's a long
walk from 6,000 meters down to basecamp (carrying a 150-pound package), and
it took about 6 hours. At some point we thouht we'd lost him but then he
opened his blood-shot eyes and croaked: "just get me home, first round of
drinks on me"
The basecampdoctor later told me that the guy should have been very dead,
but he just refused to quit. He was fully recouperated after a week (and
did buy us more drinks than we could manage).
Our team summited a week later in good wheaterconditions, on the way back
we saw two other climbers in trouble, they both had early mountainsickness
symptoms and one had broken his leg. It was a bad situation but not
directly life-treatening.
We were busy preparing an improvised strecher when the guy with the broken
leg became uncounsious and then stopped breathing. We went trough the whole
drill to keep him alive. It didn't work. He died. I still do not understand
why, and neither do the doctors and officals I talked to later. This was a
very healty, young individual. No fatal wounds, no extreme hypothermia or

All this shows (to me anyway) how much more we have to learn about the
interaction between basic bodyfunctions and the 'mind' (as in: the
informationprocessing that happens in the brain).

>2) Does anyone have any suggestions for what we can do to prevent this?
>How many more of our luminaries will go gently, peacefully into oblivion
>before we begin to stem the tide?
>Marvin Minsky and Eric Drexler both finally signed up, and that makes me
>feel better. But I'm sure each of you can think of countless intellectual
>influences whose cryonics membership status is non-existent or unknown.
>What can we do about it, if anything?

Maybe some people don't want to live forever, it sure isn't my top
priority. I would like to live very long (forerver) but more than that I
want to *live*, to do what I love doing most, even if it kills me (and
since I'm not a 'luminarie' the world will keep on turning ;-).

At this point the financial sacrifice I would have to make for signing-up a
suspension contract (even if it was possible in Holland - Den Otter is
working on that) doesn't justify the (IMHO) low probability of being
restored to full functioning. If I have $50K to spare I'd rather use it on
an Everest expedition or something else I can enjoy now, for certain, than
investing it in a project with a low chance of succes.

I can imagine that ceasing to exist could be acceptable if you feel you
have lived a full life, if you are content with your accomplishments (not
that I expext to be content soon, but somebody might be).

Anders already said this:
Improving life-extending technology and the spread of Exropian memes will
help. Mainly we have to fight this idea of the inevitabililty of death so
that people can make an informed choice.

Arjen Kamphuis

>> Since I know nothing for sure, nothing seems really unthinkable <<

Methinks that this is a great line to put on any site aimed at introducing
Transhuman / Extropian ideas to people who are new to them.
Just a thought.

Don't be afraid to go out on a limb...
that's where the fruit is."