Rebirth of Reason

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Post 60

Friday, May 6, 2005 - 12:29pmSanction this postReply

Michael Stuart Kelly said:


Oh, that's easy. All of those quotes fall outside the two categories you state. Everyone single of them. Wanna know why? Simply put each one into context”


Putting those quotes into context, I still don’t see how you can argue they fall outside of those two categories.  For instance, you quote Barbara’s comments


(1) "at the end," and "my final thought," so she is aware of the inevitability of death;
(2) "my final thought will be how much I have loved...," which continuation is one hell of an inspiring homage to valuing life (Barbara, you are quite a dame //;-); and
(3) "I will not tell myself that I want to leave this world..." which eloquently states her unwillingness to resign herself - better yet, surrender her will - to death


So, as you specifically state, she is in part 1 aware of her impending demise, (though nothing she said in part one indicates she feels it to be inevitable, i.e. absolutely and completely unavoidable, you have added that)  In part 2 she clearly and eloquently illustrates how much she loves her life, and in part 3 she clearly and eloquently states that she is unwilling to resign herself to death.  YET she is still ok with dying.  YET she still finds it a battle not worth fighting.  There is a clear and logical path for people to follow who do not wish to resign themselves so easily to the cessation of their existence, that of cryogenic suspension.  Maybe Barbara has all ready signed up for it, I sincerely hope she has, her loss, god forbid it should ever come to be, will be a great loss to the universe.  Yet if she hasn’t signed up, for whatever reason a clearly deeply personal decision we must make on our own, then she certainly falls into my later category; 


B) something they would prefer to avoid, but are content in doing absolutely nothing to avoid it.


There was a writer I once read that I quite liked, she wrote “Any idea unexpressed in physical action is contemptable hypocrisy” 


“I saw nothing in the posts or posters you cited that made me think that any of the them feel otherwise - not even Tibor, who wrote the article you condemn.”


I see in Tibor’s article, he says (which I have all ready quoted)


“a person with a good outlook on life will gradually come to terms with the fact that he or she will die and, while never abandoning the quest for living and, indeed, for thriving, such a person will not protest or concoct fantasies in order to manage the fact of impending death”


Clearly Tibor loves his life and loves living, and would prefer not to die.  It is also clear that he is content in not doing much about it.  Thus he falls into the second category.  Perhaps I am completely misreading Tibor’s article, and in your great wisdom you could enlighten me.  Are my suppositions wrong?  Does Tibor not actually value his life and love living?  I doubt that interpretation, I think it’s a safe bet he does.  Well, if he does, but he has ‘come to terms’ with his ‘inevitable demise’ then it is clear that he would probably prefer not to die, but is content in not doing much to try to achieve that goal.  Perhaps he thinks there is no tangible mechanism to accomplish that goal, or perhaps he values the wealth he would transfer to his loved ones more than extra years of his own existence, or perhaps he thinks entertaining notions of immortality is nothing more than wishful thinking and flights of fancy.  Whatever his reasoning, the effect is clear.  He loves his life, but is content in not doing anything to avoid death.


“But since you are hell bent on fabricating enemies you can then destroy with your erudition”

Death is my only enemy here. Perhaps you should consider your statement in regards to yourself.  I am here trying to convince people to love their lives and act in accordance with the ideal that their life is their highest value, yet I am scorned and attacked.  Who is fabricating enemies?  If you want ‘eruditions’ try Robert Malcom’s posts.


“(This particular straw man [me - yours truly] talks, though. He says that you do not have a clue as to what you are arguing about. And... [sigh]... you do so very very much of it...)”


Well this particular person says that you do not have a clue as to what you are arguing about, and *sigh* you do so very very much of it.


“Make up your straw men and women and save the day!”


Speaking of strawmen, Katdaddy said:


Apparently this whole issue of death is very black and white to you. If someone is not at the extreme end of wanting to do scientific experimentation of getting their heads cut off, cryrogenics and stuff, you accuse them of not valuing their life/not wanting to avoid death. 
Two words:  You're wrong.


Kat, did you read my posts?  I never said anything remotely like ‘if you don’t want to get your head cut off, then you don’t value your life’.  I said if you do value your life, and do not want to die, it’s an easy, logical and rational way to attempt to continue your life.  Almost all the objections that have been made to it have been philosophical defenses of death, or pure emotional reactions, such as yours, to the idea of having your head cut off.  But If you think that cryogenic suspension sounds bad then try comparing it with embalming and cremation.  And what does it matter what they do with ‘your’ head, you are dead anyway.  It’s nobody’s head.  It’s a lifeless shell.   I believe Lance said he worked at a funeral home, perhaps he could share the embalming or cremation process with us. 


“and we would consider cryrogenics in certain instances”


In what instances?


“Futurama is one of the best cartoons on TV, and Vanilla Sky is a cool flick, but please separate fantasy from reality. “


I don’t watch either, so I don’t know your reference.  I have made the clearest case for separating fantasy from reality, you yourself are now (or were previously) considering cryogenics as a possible path to pursue, but you remind me to seperate fantasy from reality.  Arent you now embracing that fantasy?  The fantasy trips taken here are by the people who seek to give life value by dying.


Joe Maurone said:


“If we can prolong our lives indefinately, how do we deal with population issues? Do we continue to reproduce?”


Joe, Thanks for your comments, that is one of the first objections brought up when discussing indefinite life spans.  Most people who are familiar with this area of thought would simply retort that there is no population problem now anyway, and there certainly will not be in the future.  Consider the available are of the ocean, both as floating platform based artificial land and undersea.  But beyond the earth, we have Mars to inhabit, millions of asteroids (each one of which can cover the whole of the earths surface miles deep in nickel and iron) and beyond that plenty of other star systems and entire galaxies.  There is no shortage of room. 



Mike Mine Malthus -  http://www.reason.com/rb/rb072804.shtml and

Defusing the Population bomb - http://www.cato.org/dailys/10-15-99.html


But Robert makes a good point, we already see in post-industrialized nations a serious decline in birth rates, and future population predictions get reduced every year as more scholars realize that people are not just rabbits.  If you live indefinitely, I suspect that new birth rates would decrease dramatically, since people could indefinitely delay procreation with no side effects. 


But don’t listen to me, Since according to MSK, I have no idea what I am talking about.




Michael F Dickey

Post 61

Friday, May 6, 2005 - 2:24pmSanction this postReply
A few comments for Michael Dickey:

First, the characterization of cryonics as "freezing heads" is a product of media sensationalism.  It does cryonics no service to perpetuate that image.  Just as a doctor wouldn't describe bowel surgery as "evisceration", it's better to introduce neuropreservation as what it really is: an attempt to preserve the human mind (aka brain). 

Second, cryonics is an awfully big nut to swallow all at once.  It requires overcoming a lifetime of psychological adaptations, which is why, contrary to stereotypes, people almost never sign up for cryonics past middle age.  As a long-time Rand admirer and cryonicist, I would be delighted if more Objectivists made cryonics arrangements.  But that won't happen by impugning character when people don't immediately jump on board after seeing a few URLs.  While I agree that cryonics is something that can be done today, it's still a tough sell.  If you simply communicate the idea that cryonics does exist, and is not just the work of nut cases, consider that an accomplishment. 

Finally, I cannot resist asking, have you yourself made cryonics arrangements?  The article


is pertinent to the question.


Post 62

Friday, May 6, 2005 - 8:08pmSanction this postReply
Michael D, you wrote, to Tibor and me: "As people who are likely atheists and who so obviously cherish and love their lives, I implore you to consider cryogenic preservation."

I appreciate your concern, but cryogenic preservation is something I HAVE considered -- many years ago, when I first learned of it. At the time, it seemed so primitive, so entirely based on a hope rather than on scientific knowledge, that I soon dismissed the idea. With only one proviso: that after a number of years and much work in the field had passed, I would consider it again. I have done so. What makes me feel that it is not a valid hope is that after all this time, not a single human being (or animal) has been brought back to life -- and there are many diseases and accidents that earlier killed people for which we now have  cures. Why have not the people whose causes of death we can now cure not been made subjects of regeneration? When one or more of them has successfully been returned, I will again consider the validity of my stand.


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Post 63

Friday, May 6, 2005 - 10:54pmSanction this postReply
When cryonics was first conceived, the largest living things that could be reversibly cryopreserved were single cells. Today, 40 years later, I work in a lab that reversibly cryopreserves complex organs and tissues weighing up to 10 grams. That doesn't sound like much, but that's a 1000-fold improvement in linear dimension. How long until a whole person can be cryopreserved and demonstrably revived? Probably another 40 years at least.

So why do people bother with cryonics today? Because on that day when quality of preservation and repair ability meet to make a person preserved in 2040 revivable in 2040, you can bet what the very next question will be: What can be done for people who were preserved in 2030? And when that is solved, then 2020, 2010, etc. It's a process that will continue until repair technologies hit the limits of physical law, and until the people being looked at have no meaningful neurological information left to recover.

How far back will a mature nanotechnology be able to reach? I once attended a conference where Eric Drexler, the man credited second only to Richard Feynman in seeing the promise of that field, said that he thought the cryonics technology of the 1970s was probably good enough to ultimately work. As someone who knows more about the preservation side than Drexler, I would put my bet on the technology of the mid-1990s. Maybe we're both wrong, and it will be the technology of 2020. But whatever the minimum preservation technology is for success, it is certain that the technology will come into use *before* reversibility is actually demonstrated.

Whether today's technology (which requires a lot less hope than 1960s technology) meets the burden for ultimate reversibility is a personal cost-benefit judgement.

(Edited by Dr. Wowk
on 5/07, 12:15am)

Post 64

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 7:50amSanction this postReply
Dr. Wowk,

I've been reading the Alcor details (from their site), and am wondering if I somehow missed an important detail, but can't seem to find this answer:  In what vessel will the brain go when it is revived at that point in the distant future?  Is the idea that it will be transplanted into another body?  Given that the actual head is referred to as a holding vessel for the brain's storage in deep-freeze, that is what I'm led to think.

If you could offer any insight here I would really appreciate it.  (And if it is the case, I want my brain to be put in that of a 5'9" woman with really long legs.  Just for a change.)  ;)

Thanks for your help,

Post 65

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 3:15pmSanction this postReply
I would like to thank BrianW for sharing the information above. It's nice to have someone working in that industry sharing their perspective here. Perhaps SOLO would be first to know if there is a successful revival of a large mammal from cryonic freeze?

Good news (?), Jennifer I. Before considering head freezing for leg longing (!?), have a look here. For the pros and cons of similar procedures, look here. I don't know if these fit the bill, but they sure are less risky than cryonics.

Post 66

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 9:23amSanction this postReply
Regarding growing new bodies for cryonauts:

You can read about "printing" a functional new body using living cells in the May-June 2003 issue of The Futurist magazine, titled, "Beyond Cloning: Toward Human Printing," by Vladimir Mironov, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. The article apparently isn't available on the Web, so you'll have to look it up in a library.

You can also read more about organ printing here:

Organ printing: computer-aided jet-based 3D tissue engineering

"Of course scientists can create life. What do you think life is -- some kind of miracle?"

Post 67

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 12:59pmSanction this postReply
In answer to Jennifer, the best way to understand what will likely be done with a brain is to imagine the course of tissue regeneration or "regenerative medicine" this century. First, there will be stimulated healing of damaged tissue such as heart muscle, cartilage, and severed spinal cords. Then there will be programmed regrowth of body parts injured or lost in accidents, eventually including regrowth of lost limbs. Finally, perhaps a century from now, there will be programmed regrowth of whole organ systems to treat cases of severe trauma. For example, victims of terrible crashes who today would be considered "dead at the scene" will be placed in fluid life support environments that artificially reestablish blood circulation to the brain and regrow damaged vital organs over a period months. Such environments have been called a "chrysalis"


They might best be pictured as an artificial womb. With such technology, virtually any injury that doesn't destroy the brain will be survivable.

We know that technology to regrow whole bodies starting from a single cell is possible. Why? Because nature already does it! Restoring a person from the brain outward is a matter of rewriting growth and development program code to begin around a brain rather than include a brain. Eventually this will all be as well understood as programming a PC.

People will certainly use this knowledge to modify themselves in all kinds of ways we can only begin to imagine. As far as cryonics goes, I would think that starting off with your familiar healthy self would be best before embarking on modifications.

Unlike Transhumanists who love talking about this kind of stuff all the time, I myself am uncomfortable with talking about details of human modification. While I think that cryonics is worth doing, it's still so speculative that talking about details of what might happen on the other end sounds pretty kooky. I'll bet most readers already regard this thread as having gone off the deep end. What was it that Heinlein said? "Being right too soon is socially unacceptable."? So be it.

(Edited by Dr. Wowk
on 5/07, 4:07pm)

Post 68

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 5:36pmSanction this postReply
Thanks to all of you for providing me with this very interesting information.

Dr. Wowk, this does in fact remind me of Heinlein, and the idea of being able to get a "tune-up" (for lack of a better term) when parts wear out fascinates me.

I look forward to seeing what developments are made in my lifetime.


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