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FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« on: 2002-04-16 00:35:19 »
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FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?

URL: http://virus.lucifer.com/bbs/index.php?board=31;action=display;threadid=25353

[b]Authors:
Hermit

Revision:  0.1B (Full mark-up)

Author’s notes for revision: This FAQ represents Hermit's opinion which is open to discussion either here or on the main CoV mailist.
This FAQ is based on messages primarily one posted by Hermit to the mail list of the Church of Virus on 1999-09-19 07:04:10 under the subject "virus: Cryonics"

Status
Draft

Abbreviated Copyright Notice
Copyright (C) The Church of Virus, 2002. All rights reserved. Unlimited distribution permitted in accordance with the terms of the Full copyright notice below.

Abstract
Cryonics is, at this stage more science-fiction than science, and will not result in the recovery of a personality at a later time, irrespective of subsequent advances in technology.

Intended Audience
Members of the Church of Virus fascinated by the improbable claims made by cryonic enthusiasts.

Table of Contents
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    Revision
    Author’s notes for revision
    Status
    Abbreviated Copyright Notice
    Abstract
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    Table of Contents

      Cryonics - Freezing the Dead With the Faint Hope of Reviving Them Later

    Full copyright notice
    Acknowledgements
    Bibliography
    References
    Authors’ addresses


The futility of Cryonics

Cryonics - Freezing the Dead With the Faint Hope of Reviving Them Later

Medical or embalming technology?

At his time, supporters of “Cryonics” claim that they are engaging in an “experimental medical procedure,” yet they are unable to get an article published in a reputable peer-reviewed journal, not because of some prejudice or conspiracy against them, but simply because it is not a science, not even bad science. Scientists consider “Cryonics” as speculative science fiction, charlatanism preying on the fear of death, and fraudsters making outlandish claims that cannot be justified. Let me attempt to justify this position.

The more realistic proponents of cryogenic stasis are aware of the immense range of problems with the concept, and with some justification can point to incremental improvements happening in the technologies required to preserve a corpse, particularly improvements in the techniques used to prevent damage caused by ice crystals and justification of their hopes that nanotechnology will eventually be able to repair or restore tissue damage. Many of the more knowledgeable proponents can even point to the advances being made in our ability to freeze and restore a living creature, and evidently all of the proponents of this new embalming art believe that the existence of positive steps to solving problems with the concept makes it likely that the they will eventually be able to reverse death (or more accurately, prove that death did not in fact take place, as death is by definition an irreversible process.) Unfortunately for their claims, they have failed to consider that what they are suggesting is, “Given that in the past science and technology have confounded the experts and made advances that had been considered by some to be impossible, we can be sure that this will happen in the future with respect to reversing freezing, DNA and micro bacterial damage; and also that ‘some method’ will be discovered to reverse the factors which lead to death”. Perhaps some put it even less forcefully, perhaps the more modest proponents are suggesting, “There is some chance that this may happen” and thus, “we should not risk not being part of this revival.”

These arguments miss a singularly vital issue. "Memories" are stored in charge fields, which depend on brain chemistry. In a frozen state, brain chemistry ceases to function and entropy continues to operate. Thus the charge field dissipates. This is unavoidable physical law. Thus, even if all of the damage of death and that caused by the high-technology mummification process itself, could be repaired or avoided, the “memories” of the dead person will be lost. It is fairly generally accepted that a "personality" is formed from the combination of brain structure, thought patterns and experience. Experience is stored in the memory – which is not retained by “cryogenic suspension” Having lost experience, even if “something” can be recovered from a defrosted corpse at some time in the future, and even if it could be granted a new set of experiences in order to develop new memories, the artifact or creature so created it will have no continuity with the person who died. The only way to argue that a “person” can be restored to life after cryonic storage is to argue that the personality is not stored in memories. As this is counter to reliable, repeated observation, this appears to be an insurmountable obstacle to classing Cryonics as a science. As we have seen, the mind is not recoverable, one cannot restore what is not there, so whatever might possibly be “returned to life” at some uncertain future, assuming a vast number of improbable developments, would not be the “person” whose body was stored. This indicates that the cost/benefit of Cryonics is at best worse than marginal. A combination of very low probabilities and extremely high costs... not a good payoff even for gambling people. Ultimately, the benefit to society is low, and even if all the “low probability of successful outcome” problems are overcome, the research benefactor receives a nil return as without memories, whatever is recovered is not going to be the person whose body was frozen.

A second problem is that while unusual combinations of probabilities have occurred in the past, this is not a reasonable foundation upon which to predict “unusual events” in the future. This is a fundamental proposition of statistical analysis – including the analysis of experimental protocols. What is being done by the proponents of Cryonics is an action taken, which has a cost (financial, social and memetic), predicated upon their beliefs about a future that they cannot possibly foresee, and which has been shown above to be scientifically unsupportable and indistinguishable from the beliefs of Deists. This would be quite unexceptional if it were not for the fact that most proponents of Cryonics tend to sneer at other believers (hypocrisy) and assert scientific justification for their position (delusion or fraud).

I have an additional problem with Cryonics. To my mind, life is fantastic, and delaying death as long as we wish (genetic engineering, transplants, drugs etc.) is a good and an achievable intention. If we find out how to simultaneously prevent uncontrolled cell reproduction (and we appear to be on the brink of this) and seemingly no-longer inevitable cell death, we will be able to live very extended lives, possibly indefinitely, and this may fundamentally change the way that society functions if society continues to be driven by humans. There are many indications in genetic engineering, cancer research and cellular biology, which indicate that these are not futile hopes. Cryonics doesn't do this. Cryonics claims that "death" is reversible, seemingly ignoring the fact that while little bits of Cryonics may be validatable it will require entire new fields of science to be opened, explored, made possible and applied in order to restore (reanimate?) the bodies of these believers. This has the logical consequent that there is no particular need to work to cure disease. That we can simply deep-freeze people with intractable problems. This is not a new idea, but it is pernicious. Jesus is purported to have said, disease will always exist – so the Church stopped medical advances for the next thousand years or so. Not having a belief based future serves, in my opinion, to make this life much more valuable - and avoids the problem that we are "the future." If simply killing and storing the bodies of those inflicted by diseases, supposedly for future reanimation" is an acceptable medical technique, then there will never be an particularly strong incentive for cures or preventive techniques to be found.

A final issue I have with Cryonics, which as we have seen, is simply a high maintenance mummifying process is just that. It does not dispose of a cadaver, it simply defers the need to do so. Not that different from the Egyptians finding “immortality” through mummification. Of course, most mummies were ground up for use as fertilizer during the 1800s. Perhaps, when Cryonics is recognized for the false start which it is (more of this under an FAQ to follow, “FAQ: Quo Vadis? Evolution or Extinction”) the proponents of Cryonics will leave a similar legacy of plant nutrients for our successors. Which in and of itself would be no bad thing, just inefficient. After all, they would be much more expensive fertilizer than provided by more usual disposal.

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Acknowledgements


Bibliography


References:
To follow


Authors’ addresses: hermit@Lucifer.com
« Last Edit: 2002-04-16 00:45:48 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #1 on: 2002-06-18 18:11:57 »
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #2 on: 2002-06-18 23:34:35 »
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Maybe it could be stated more clearly, but as far as I can understand Hermit's argument is based on the disruption of brain chemistry (i.e. the presence of proper neurotransmitters which strengthen a particular set of synaptic connections representing a memory).

The term "charge field" probably refers to the molecule of a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical capable of strengthening or inhibiting an electrical signal  transmitted from neuron to neuron through a synapse.
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #3 on: 2002-06-19 00:53:01 »
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #4 on: 2002-06-19 12:36:45 »
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I recently brought up Hermit's objections to cryonics on the #extropy channel. The consensus there seemed to be that short term memories are probably based on chemical and electrical fields and will be destroyed by freezing, however long term memories are probably based on neural structure (synapses) and may be preserved by freezing. Given those assumptions I don't see any problem with companies offering cryonics services today. Freezing can't possibly be worse than rotting or burning, and it should be a consumer choice.
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #5 on: 2002-06-19 16:03:19 »
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Well, I am not an expert on this subject and my knowledge comes mostly from popular readings such as this one:

http://cs.gmu.edu/~sean/cs480/neuronlecture1/

I am not sure whether any of this has been found false or out of context but, as it is, neurotransmitters seem to be responsible for the synaptic connections comprising memories.

On the other hand, it is a fact that dead people don't need their money.
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« Reply #6 on: 2002-06-19 16:25:39 »
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #7 on: 2002-07-19 04:12:13 »
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Cryonics: Freezing for the future?

Source: BBC News Online
Authors: Tom Housden
Dated: 2002-07-18

The legal battle over the future of the frozen body of late US baseball star Ted Williams has thrust the controversial process of cryonic freezing into the spotlight.

Cryonics effectively involves having your dead body or brain placed in cold storage in the hope that scientists will one day develop the ability to restore life and vitality.

Advocates say cryonics offers those seeking immortality the best chance of life after death - but so far no-one has been resuscitated and many scientists are deeply sceptical.

Cryonics began in the United States in 1967, when Dr James Bedford became the first person to be preserved after his death. The first commercial cryonics services started operating in the 1970s.

In addition to Ted Williams, a number of other notable figures have reportedly expressed an interest in cryonics, including Walt Disney, actor Peter Sellers, Muhammed Ali and authors Gore Vidal and Arthur C Clarke.

Life extension

Billing itself as a "Life Extension Foundation", leading cryonics company Alcor invites visitors to its website to "imagine the possibility of more life".


According to Alcor, more than 100 people have been frozen since 1967, while about 1,000 people across the world have made financial and legal arrangements to be frozen in case of terminal illness or fatal injury.

Alcor's UK branch informs potential immortalists: "The average age of our members is around 35, but ages range from 16 to 60.

"We are normal people who just love life and want more of it," they claim.

To be cryonically frozen you need to have money and be legally declared dead.

Alcor's price list starts at £37,000 to have your brain frozen - a neuro-suspension - rising to £80,000 for a full body preservation.

Simon Hancock,41, has signed up for a neuro-suspension with Alcor, and told BBC News Online that he wanted to return to life "healthy and young again".

"I can't really see the benefit of dying. It occurred to me one day that in the future, it will come under our control.

"In the future it will be reversible and I'm greatly encouraged by how science has changed. People used to laugh at me for saying I want to be frozen, but now it seems much more reasonable."

Freezing process

Cryonic freezing involves using liquid nitrogen to cool the body until the process of molecular decay of a dead person's cells stops.


After death, Alcor clients are placed inside tall steel cylinders at the company's laboratory complex in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Operating on the same principle as a vacuum flask, each cylinder has a double wall which insulates the interior.

Four bodies are held in each container, surrounded by liquid nitrogen, which keeps the temperature at a constant -196 degrees Centigrade.

A central column running up the inside of each chamber holds clients who have opted just to have their heads preserved. As no electricity is needed to keep the bodies frozen, there is no risk of premature defrosting in the event of a power cut.

Cryonics protagonists believe that scientists will have made huge strides in life restoring and body regeneration techniques within 50 to 100 years.

They suggest that recent advances in the field of nanotechnology will allow scientists to rebuild bodies damaged by the effects of disease and old age.

They also point to the recent breakthroughs in the freezing and revival of human tissue as evidence that a second roll of the dice through cryonics may not be such a distant dream.

Flawed argument

But many scientists and doctors are unconvinced and say cryonics is deeply flawed.


"Cryonics is the stuff of fantasy, it is not based on any evidence, Professor David Pegg of the UK's York University told BBC News Online:

"The problem cryonics has is that they're taking someone who is dead and freezing them in a way which destroys the body's cells.

"In mammalian tissue, ice forms at quite a 'high' temperature, causing massive damage to the complicated cell structures which make up the internal organs.

"Not only have they got to find a way of bringing them back to life, they've got to repair the massive damage that death, or any injuries before death have caused.

Professor Pegg believes that cryonics is the latest version of what has been a recurrent cultural process throughout history, and suggested that ancient Egyptian mummies may have been intended to fulfil the same purpose of granting life after death.

"Its problematical though because the current manifestation of this is presented as a scientific activity when it certainly isn't, he said.

"Cryonics defence is that scientists do not know what may be possible in the future - but nor do they, no one does, it's a zero argument.

"Nobody can say that it'll never be possible, but there is certainly no indication that it ever will be at the moment."
 _38141229_linda_alcor_300ap.jpg
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #8 on: 2002-07-19 13:34:38 »
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The quoted criticisms seem deeply flawed. They remind me of assertions like "humans will never fly" and "we will never go to the moon" and "computers will never be intelligent". Is there anything logically or physically impossible about reviving a cryonically suspended patient? We can expect more medical advances in the next 50 years than the last 1000. What will medicine be like in 2050?
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #9 on: 2002-07-19 17:12:33 »
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[Lucifer] long term memories are probably based on neural structure (synapses) and may be preserved by freezing

[Hermit] But may be destroyed by a stroke, electric discharge, severe emotional shock, anoxia etc.? The name is regarded as the most fundamental long-term memoriy we have. Yet people whose brains have not even suffered the ultimate insult, death, do forget their names. How can this happen if it is a structural function?

[Lucifer] The quoted criticisms seem deeply flawed. They remind me of assertions like "humans will never fly" and "we will never go to the moon" and "computers will never be intelligent". Is there anything logically or physically impossible about reviving a cryonically suspended patient? We can expect more medical advances in the next 50 years than the last 1000.

[Hermit] The answer is that we can speculate about the possibilities of "reviving a cryonically suspended patient," although I would reject the use of "patient" in this context, unless you also call the subject of a mortician's attentions - or an Egyptian mummy,  a "patient."

[Hermit] Unfortunately, "revival" implies the use of unknown technologies to repair known precryonic (terminally fatal at least) damage; known damage caused by the cryonic process itself; and known damage caused by the charge field dissipation - all of which make "revival" unlikely even if it were determined to be desirable (I'd personally rather just live forever :-)). But speculation is invalid until there is evidence, which makes it probable that it has - or will have - some substance. Until then, while cryonics can be sold as an expensive embalming technology, it certainly should not be sold as anything more than that.

[Hermit] I am not such a fool as to say never. But then, the objectors are not saying that either - although it seems that some protaganists think that they are. Certainly I, and I think they, are saying that if this ever becomes possible, it is likely a long way off and that even the technologies that we know will be required to achieve this are not yet invented - never mind those we do not understand the need for - yet. More to the point, I would suggest that the damage caused by current "preservation" efforts is likely to appear to future examiners to be as severe as that we perceive as having been caused by the ancient Egyptians when they "preserved bodies forever"... Which of us is correct? Only time will tell. Right now this is all speculation unanchored by evidence. Shakey territory indeed.

[Lucifer] What will medicine be like in 2050?

[Hermit] I think the answer has to be "almost unrecognizable." Given a continued accelerating exponential growth in capability, the specifics are likely to depend more on legal and social constraints than on technical limitations. Unfortunately, the damage done by legal and social constraints may well outstrip anticipated developments. Tell me if abortion or genetic engineering will be legal in the US in 2050 and I will tell you a lot more about their likely medical capabilities...
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #10 on: 2002-07-19 17:37:45 »
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[Lucifer1] long term memories are probably based on neural structure (synapses) and may be preserved by freezing

[Hermit2] But may be destroyed by a stroke, electric discharge, severe emotional shock, anoxia etc.? The name is regarded as the most fundamental long-term memoriy we have. Yet people whose brains have not even suffered the ultimate insult, death, do forget their names. How can this happen if it is a structural function?

[Lucifer3] No one is suggesting otherwise. But remember that we are comparing freezing to burning and rotting. Which preserves more information?

[Hermit2] The answer is that we can speculate about the possibilities of "reviving a cryonically suspended patient," although I would reject the use of "patient" in this context, unless you also call the subject of a mortician's attentions - or an Egyptian mummy,  a "patient."

[Lucifer3] I don't care what you call them. You are skirting the issue.

[Hermit2] Unfortunately, "revival" implies the use of unknown technologies to repair known precryonic (terminally fatal at least) damage; known damage caused by the cryonic process itself; and known damage caused by the charge field dissipation - all of which make "revival" unlikely even if it were determined to be desirable (I'd personally rather just live forever :-)).

[Lucifer3] Everybody that is signed up for cryonics would rather live forever. But if you are already dead, then what? Do you think cremation or burying are better options?

[Hermit2] But speculation is invalid until there is evidence, which makes it probable that it has - or will have - some substance. Until then, while cryonics can be sold as an expensive embalming technology, it certainly should not be sold as anything more than that.

[Lucifer3] Given that living organisms such as frogs have been frozen solid and revived, I think it is encumbent on the detractors to show why it is impossible for humans.

[Hermit2] I am not such a fool as to say never. But then, the objectors are not saying that either - although it seems that some protaganists think that they are. Certainly I, and I think they, are saying that if this ever becomes possible, it is likely a long way off and that even the technologies that we know will be required to achieve this are not yet invented - never mind

[Lucifer3] What do you consider a "long way off"? 50 years?

[Hermit2] those we do not understand the need for - yet. More to the point, I would suggest that the damage caused by current "preservation" efforts is likely to appear to future examiners to be as severe as that we perceive as having been caused by the ancient Egyptians when they "preserved bodies forever"... Which of us is correct? Only time will tell. Right now this is all speculation unanchored by evidence. Shakey territory indeed.

[Lucifer3] Are you exaggerating for effect or do you really believe a frozen brain contains the same or less information than a brain turned to dust?

[Lucifer1] What will medicine be like in 2050?

[Hermit2] I think the answer has to be "almost unrecognizable." Given a continued accelerating exponential growth in capability, the specifics are likely to depend more on legal and social constraints than on technical limitations. Unfortunately, the damage done by legal and social constraints may well outstrip anticipated developments. Tell me if abortion or genetic engineering will be legal in the US in 2050 and I will tell you a lot more about their likely medical capabilities...

[Lucifer3] Very true. But remember, the choice if you die today is between cremation, rotting and freezing. Which do you choose?
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #11 on: 2002-07-19 23:59:58 »
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[Lucifer3]
Given that living organisms such as frogs have been frozen solid and revived, I think it is encumbent on the detractors to show why it is impossible for humans.

[rhinoceros]
Do you mean the wood frog that freezes in winter using glucose to protect its cells from freezing? If so, has anyone tried to freeze it all the way down to the temperature of liquid nitrogen? If you are refering to something else, could you give some more information about temperature and duration?

In either case, it would also be interesting if there were any indications about how "memories" or acquired traits were affected?
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #12 on: 2002-07-20 00:35:42 »
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #13 on: 2002-07-20 04:32:25 »
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[Lucifer 1]
[Hermit 2]
[Lucifer 3]
[Hermit 4]


[Lucifer 1] long term memories are probably based on neural structure (synapses) and may be preserved by freezing

[Hermit 2] But may be destroyed by a stroke, electric discharge, severe emotional shock, anoxia etc.? The name is regarded as the most fundamental long-term memory we have. Yet people whose brains have not even suffered the ultimate insult, death, do forget their names. How can this happen if it is a structural function?

[Lucifer 3] No one is suggesting otherwise. But remember that we are comparing freezing to burning and rotting. Which preserves more information?

[Hermit 4.1] Trick question and false trichotomy. The problem is one of retrieval rather than preservation. Retrieval of information stored in the brain is made impossible by cellular death. Thus the information is already lost at the point when the body is frozen, burnt or rots. So the correct answer is d, "none of the above preserves retrieval of information stored in the brain." In my opinion, until we have working uploading available, no technique will preserve such information.

[Hermit 2] The answer is that we can speculate about the possibilities of "reviving a cryonically suspended patient," although I would reject the use of "patient" in this context, unless you also call the subject of a mortician's attentions - or an Egyptian mummy,  a "patient."

[Lucifer 3] I don't care what you call them. You are skirting the issue.

[Hermit 4] A patient is a person requiring medical treatment. After cellular death has occurred (bearing in mind that death is defined as an irreversible process), medical treatment is no longer required. Only disposal of the remains. Which is why I objected to the use of "patient" in this context.

[Hermit 4] While you assert that I am "skirting the issue" you did not specify "the issue" or the points which it appears to you I am skirting. Clarification would be appreciated.

[Hermit 2] Unfortunately, "revival" implies the use of unknown technologies to repair known precryonic (terminally fatal at least) damage; known damage caused by the cryonic process itself; and known damage caused by the charge field dissipation - all of which make "revival" unlikely even if it were determined to be desirable (I'd personally rather just live forever :-)).

[Lucifer 3] Everybody that is signed up for cryonics would rather live forever. But if you are already dead, then what? Do you think cremation or burying are better options?

[Hermit 4.2] Actually, I think that when dead, I won't be around to care.

[Hermit 4.3] "Better" disposal options, to my mind, imply utility and cost benefits. Eating not being a good idea (infection and parasites), alternative methods should be sought. As such donating the usable bits and then offering the remains to medical students for study strikes me as an optimum disposal technique. Usually disposal is part of the deal. Essentially burning, sinking, burying and freeze-drying followed by pulverization are all fairly bad disposal techniques in terms of cost and energy efficiency. Cryonics is just worse. I'd like to propose a new one. Simply shredding and liquidizing the remains before passing them through a UV sterilizer and then adding them to animal feed or a sewage system might be a safe and cost/energy effective disposal route.

[Hermit 2] But speculation is invalid until there is evidence, which makes it probable that it has - or will have - some substance. Until then, while cryonics can be sold as an expensive embalming technology, it certainly should not be sold as anything more than that.

[Lucifer 3] Given that living organisms such as frogs have been frozen solid and revived, I think it is encumbent on the detractors to show why it is impossible for humans.

[Hermit 4] Pardon my skepticism, but is the onus to demonstrate the suitability of a model not on the proponent rather than on the reviewer?

[Hermit 4] Bacteria and virii undoubtedly can be repeatedly frozen and revived without trouble. So can some other lower order species. Does that mean I should have to "prove the negative"? These organisms, lacking complex structures, and often having very different body chemistry, are, seldom proposed as models for humans. Likewise, despite its complexity relative to the lower orders, I have not seen the frog proposed as a good - or even reasonable - model for human biology before. So prior to accepting your assertion that I should "prove the negative," I really think you should at least make an effort to "support the assertion." Some really important questions, which you might care to address, include:
  • [Hermit 4] Are there accessible reports about this experiment?
  • [Hermit 4] What was the default hypothesis?
  • [Hermit 4] What was the methodology?
  • [Hermit 4] How many frogs were frozen and revived?
  • [Hermit 4] What kind of frogs were they?
  • [Hermit 4] Are these frogs possibly naturally immune or tolerant to freezing?
  • [Hermit 4] Do any humans tested have similar capabilities?
  • [Hermit 4] Could differences from humans (in their tolerance to freezing) invalidate these frogs as models?
  • [Hermit 4] Were these frogs technically alive or dead before being frozen?
  • [Hermit 4] Were these frogs “prepared” in the same way as human cadavers?
  • [Hermit 4] Frozen to what temperature?
  • [Hermit 4] Stored in liquid Nitrogen?
  • [Hermit 4] How long were they kept frozen?
  • [Hermit 4] Do frogs have an explicit memory system?
  • [Hermit 4] Is it similar to the human system?
  • [Hermit 4] If not, why should we accept the frog as a model?
  • [Hermit 4] If so, did the explicit memory survive the experience?
  • [Hermit 4] How do we know?
  • [Hermit 4] Has fMRI or equivalent technology been used to evaluate brain performance before and after freezing?
[Hermit 4] These are important questions, included to highlight areas where differences may exist between cryonic stasis of a living low order species and cryonic embalming of a human corpse. Even if this is designed to illustrate that some obstacles to freezing some animals are surmountable, a vast array of theoretical and terribly practical difficulties will have to be overcome before we can hope to have a chance of success with humans. And that is before they are dead. Another insurmountable opportunity perhaps?

[Hermit 2] I am not such a fool as to say never. But then, the objectors are not saying that either - although it seems that some protagonists think that they are. Certainly I, and I think they, are saying that if this ever becomes possible, it is likely a long way off and that even the technologies that we know will be required to achieve this are not yet invented - never mind

[Lucifer 3] What do you consider a "long way off"? 50 years?

[Hermit 4] The number of unknowns, both on the requirement and the solution side of the equation, admit of no persuasive estimate. After all, 100 years ago, new scientific discoveries and technical developments were happening at an incredible pace relative to history. Innovations in transport, medicine and thought were occuring daily. Had you asked people this question then, what could they have replied? Ask me when the theoretical objections have been resolved, and practical techniques evolved to deal with some of the problems we have already identified, e.g. when we can repair a frostbitten foot instead of amputating it..

[Hermit 2] those we do not understand the need for - yet. More to the point, I would suggest that the damage caused by current "preservation" efforts is likely to appear to future examiners to be as severe as that we perceive as having been caused by the ancient Egyptians when they "preserved bodies forever"... Which of us is correct? Only time will tell. Right now this is all speculation unanchored by evidence. Shaky territory indeed.

[Lucifer 3] Are you exaggerating for effect or do you really believe a frozen brain contains the same or less information than a brain turned to dust?

[Hermit 4] An unfair strike. The Egyptian morticians used the best-known technology of the day to preserve their client’s bodies "forever." They carefully extracted the brain (using specially shaped tools, heated and inserted through the nose) and stored it separately, carefully spiced to preserve it, in a funerary jar. How do you know that our successor's will not regard storing brains in liquid nitrogen as being as crude a preservation method as we consider the Egyptians to have used?

[Lucifer 1] What will medicine be like in 2050?

[Hermit 2] I think the answer has to be "almost unrecognizable." Given a continued accelerating exponential growth in capability, the specifics are likely to depend more on legal and social constraints than on technical limitations. Unfortunately, the damage done by legal and social constraints may well outstrip anticipated developments. Tell me if abortion or genetic engineering will be legal in the US in 2050 and I will tell you a lot more about their likely medical capabilities...

[Lucifer 3] Very true. But remember, the choice if you die today is between cremation, rotting and freezing. Which do you choose?

[Hermit 4]  See Hermit 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 above. Am I permitted "none of the above" here too?

« Last Edit: 2002-07-20 04:41:30 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:FAQ: Cryonics, medical or embalming technology?
« Reply #14 on: 2002-07-20 12:38:52 »
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[Hermit 4.1] Trick question and false trichotomy. The problem is one of retrieval rather than preservation. Retrieval of information stored in the brain is made impossible by cellular death. Thus the information is already lost at the point when the body is frozen, burnt or rots. So the correct answer is d, "none of the above preserves retrieval of information stored in the brain." In my opinion, until we have working uploading available, no technique will preserve such information.

[Lucifer5.1.1] How can you be sure that the information in a frozen brain will be lost to technology available in the future? It seems your whole argument against cryonics hinges on this belief. It is you that is making an exceptional claim here. You say you are not foolish enough to say never, yet here you are implying it.

[Lucifer5.1.2] The people signed up for cryonics are making a perfectly reasonable assumption that freezing the brain has a better chance of recovering the information than rotting or burning or any other option. They are not saying the probability is high, or likely, just that it is greater. Do you really disagree?
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