Comments on: Does Personal Identity Survive Cryopreservation? A revolution in time. Thu, 11 Apr 2013 01:11:28 +0000 hourly 1 By: Taurus Londono Taurus Londono Tue, 24 Jul 2012 19:16:18 +0000 Mr. Darwin…Mike…

That there are no more than 15 comments at the time of my post (the majority of which are either yours or Abelard Lindsey’s) is, I think, a profound indication of the pervasive and destructive ignorance with which humanity happily carries out its collective existence in the early 21st century.

I’ve long been familiar with the history of cryonics and your critical role in its nascent evolution, though only in the most superficial sense. Beyond recognizing the inherent worthiness of cyronics as a technological pursuit, I’d been largely unaware (and unappreciative) of the depth and breadth of the technical hurdles that have been overcome as well as those that yet remain.

I’d only ever glanced at your chronopause blog, a curiosity I considered to be the last outlet of a frustrated pioneer. Only now, after I’d set aside time to properly digest and consider the wealth of information you’ve shared here do I realize the importance of your (continuing) contributions to cyronics…and by extension, humanity.

This post in particular is an example of the astounding treasure trove of hard-won experiential knowledge inside that destined-to-be-preserved brain of yours. Shared publicly and freely for all the world to disseminate, I am firmly convinced that it will help pave the path towards a future (however far away it might be) in which the trailblazing work of pioneers such as yourself ensures a rich and rewarding existence for all of humanity. …a future in which the potential of our miraculous minds is ever more fully realized.

Since I am a layperson, and any worthwhile contribution I can make with words regarding these topics is necessarily limited, I’d just like to keep it simple and offer you my sincere and heartfelt thanks. I’m sure that you’ve long ago realized that your actions constitute an essential link in an unbroken chain extending into the far future, a future in which many, many lives will benefit.

For whatever it’s worth,
Thanks Mike.

(a 30-year-old aspiring cryonicist)

By: Gerald Feinberg on physics and life extension | Depressed Metabolism Gerald Feinberg on physics and life extension | Depressed Metabolism Mon, 20 Jun 2011 00:31:18 +0000 [...] procedures have changed considerably since 1992 and cryonics researcher Mike Darwin has composed an ambitious article to answer the question whether current cryopreservation techniques can preserve identity. One of [...]

By: Cases Against Cryonics | Longevity Medicine Cases Against Cryonics | Longevity Medicine Sun, 13 Mar 2011 15:52:54 +0000 [...] preserve it. An excellent, knowledgeable, response of this kind is offered in Mike Darwin’s Does Personal Identity Survive Cryopreservation? Cryonics skeptics in turn could produce evidence that existing cryonics procedures fall short of [...]

By: Longevity Medicine » Cases Against Cryonics Longevity Medicine » Cases Against Cryonics Sun, 13 Mar 2011 15:50:47 +0000 [...] preserve it. An excellent, knowledgeable, response of this kind is offered in Mike Darwin’s Does Personal Identity Survive Cryopreservation? Cryonics skeptics in turn could produce evidence that existing cryonics procedures fall short of [...]

By: Abelard Lindsey Abelard Lindsey Fri, 11 Mar 2011 23:47:04 +0000 I know this was the case when Ettinger ran things there. But I thought Ben Best was supposed to improved things at CI. Perhaps they are relying on S.A. to do all of their suspensions.

By: The case against cryonics The case against cryonics Fri, 11 Mar 2011 22:36:33 +0000 [...] preserve it. An excellent, knowledgeable, response of this kind is offered in Mike Darwin’s Does Personal Identity Survive Cryopreservation? Cryonics skeptics in turn could produce evidence that existing cryonics procedures fall short of [...]

By: admin admin Sun, 27 Feb 2011 02:29:09 +0000 It was a snotty, and probably inappropriate remark. Basically I was commenting on the operational paradigm at CI, which is pretty much “ritual.” You sign up, you get frozen and it’s pretty much kumbaya, no matter how badly things go. And they go pretty badly. Go to: and start reading the case reports posted there. That’s pretty much my working definition of horrible. It seems apparent to me that “just getting frozen” is now all that is necessary for a ticket to tomorrow, and that anything else that is done is “just gravy,” and probably unnecessary to a happy outcome.

It works like this:

1) If you are cryopreserved, hope is preserved that you will be reanimated.
2) Since hope cannot be quantified, all hope is equal.
3) Since the degree of hope is the same for everyone cryopreserved everyone cryopreserved has the same opportunity to be reanimated.
4) Since being cryopreserved equals salvation, then how you are cryopreserved is no longer material.
5) People who get cryopreserved ‘well’ have the right to more hope, however, since hope cannot be quantified this is meaningless.

Even in cases that CI perfuses, things go horribly wrong – often – and usually for to me bizarre and unfathomable (and careless) reasons. My dear friend and mentor Curtis Henderson was little more than straight frozen because CI President Ben Best had this idea that adding polyethylene glycol to the CPA solution would inhibit edema. Now the thing is, Ben had been told by his own researchers that PEG was incompatible with DMSO containing solutions, and resulted in gel formation. Nevertheless, he decided he would try this out on Curtis Henderson. He did NOT do any bench experiments, or do test mixes of solutions, let alone any animal studies to validate that this approach would in fact help reduce edema (it doesn’t). Instead, he prepared a batch of this untested mixture, and AFTER it gelled, he tried to perfuse Curtis with it. See my introduction to Thus Spake Curtis Henderson on this blog for how this affected me psychologically and emotionally. Needless to say, as soon as he tried to perfuse this goop, perfusion came to a screeching halt. They have pumped air into patient’s circulatory systems… I could go on and on, but all you need to do is really look at those patient case reports and think about everything that is going on in those cases critically.

Ethics aside, it is CI’s policies, structure and way of handling at-need patients that is causing the nightmare of straight frozen patients that have now come to predominate their case load. Years ago, I suggested an independent service that would act to respond in high quality, at need cases: stabilize/freeze the patient (7.5 M glycerol perfusion) and then hold, until the patient was cleared for long term funding. “Not practical,” I was told.

Obviously, many other solutions are possible, including behaving like Alcor did 20 years ago, and carefully assessing the situation in real time, and responding accordingly. There are many kinds of ways to quickly verify/obligate people for funding: air ambulances, and all sorts of other businesses do this all the time. What is unethical is the sleight of hand CI has engaged in. They want to be able to say that, “No cryonics patient has been thawed out for lack of funding since 19XX…” So, in order to make that so, they get the mortuary industry to freeze the poor devils, and then if things “don’t work out,” it’s the morticians who get stuck thawing the person out. It’s a beautiful “moral switch and bait” in that it recasts the act of cryopreserving a person such, that: You are not a cryonics patient when you get frozen. You are not a cryonics patient if you stay frozen for years. In fact, you are only a cryonics patient when CI says you are cryonics patient. CI has become the Hane’s Underwear, Co., Inspector #12 of cryonics.

The lack of feedback, and the wild and unbounded hand waving about what will be reversible in the future has, in my opinion, totally distorted both CI and Ben Best’s personal thinking. This has also, to a great extent, happened in cryonics as a whole. It has become a ritual that would do the Egyptians proud, and makes me recall my Catholic upbringing, and the nutty stretching of dogma that went on there, such as giving last rites to pretty long dead corpses and baptizing really long dead babies so that they could get into heaven, and not spend eternity in limbo. It is human nature in a very sad state. But, that’s just my opinion, and unconditional love and acceptance it is not. — Mike Darwin

By: Adam Selene Adam Selene Sat, 26 Feb 2011 18:31:56 +0000 What do you mean by this: “As to unconditional love and acceptance, well if you want that you can join CI, I suppose.”

By: Abelard Lindsey Abelard Lindsey Fri, 25 Feb 2011 18:23:21 +0000 What do you have in mind when you talk about “life-style” changes for cryonics people?

One activity that comes to mind is establishing our own medical clinics and nursing homes for members approaching deanimation. Of course, there will be push-back from the rest of the medical community and we will have to be political adept to resist and survive this push-back. The medical system, especially the MD’s in the AMA, is essentially a medieval guild and they will fight anything that they perceive as threatening to their monopoly power. The horror scenario we want to avoid is where our clinic in accused of “offing” patients in order to avoid ischemic injury, essentially a repeat of Dora Kent.

Secret societies are a useful model, as is the Catholic Church. Being a secret society is not the same thing as being a cult. Free masonry is no cult, but is an effective secret society. As far as defeating aging, cryonics is a 200-300 year venture. Of course we will need cryonics even after we defeat aging, but post-mortals ought to be more receptive to cryonics (or at least tolerant of it) than current people.

By: admin admin Fri, 25 Feb 2011 03:59:24 +0000 Thank you very much for asking those questions. That was exactly what the “manifesto” was supposed to do; cause people to ask questions, and more importantly, start a dialogue on the issues raised in it. I can’t give a full answer to all of your questions, because no such answer yet exists. That will require an effort on the part of a number of people, and ultimately it will require the efforts and ongoing work of a community of people.

Which brings me to a question I can answer (definitively) providing we can agree on the definition of a what a ‘cult’ is. Right now in the West, “cult” is a pejorative word which has all sorts of bad implications – and that’s the definition I’m going to assume is in operation here. Cults are generally understood to have these characteristics (at a minimum):

1) People are put in physical or emotionally distressing situations;
2) Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;
3) They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader or group;
4) They get a new identity based on the group;
5) They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled.

Per point #1, above, I don’t have to do anything to “put people in physical or emotionally distressing situations,” since they are already in that situation if they are cryonicists. If you think cryonics is a good idea, you already have anxiety issues, and there is nothing I can do to make them worse ;-). And if you’ve seen any simple explanations here, well then you’re vastly smarter than me, because all I see is a lot of complex problems with no easy solutions. And you sure as hell aren’t going to get any one simple explanation from me to solve them. As to unconditional love and acceptance, well if you want that you can join CI, I suppose. I’ve been accused of all kinds of things, but NEVER of giving unconditional love and acceptance, and I don’t foresee me mending my ways, in this respect. Here’s the paradox, just go back to Cryonics magazine from day 1 till 1991, and see what you find there. Then go to the Internet and gather up all my Cryonet posts. READ THEM, or a representative sample. Next, do the same for Alcor after 1991, for CI, and for any other personality you choose in cryonics. If there is anything cult-like (per above) in that material or in my actions over the past 3+ decades, I would be most surprised. Alcor had a non-discrimination policy under my watch, a very high standard for informed consent (in fact I introduced the idea into cryonics!) and a broad outreach to an equally broad spectrum of people. It was a dynamic and transparent place compared to any cryonics operation now in existence, bar none. My fights were more often with fellow Officers and Directors over releasing information, not concealing it. The problem with cults is that they are inherently fragile until they become religions – and they are miserable places to live. I know, because I was in one for a year. In fact, they are exactly the kinds of places that much of cryonics has now become, where you are “in” or “out” and must constantly worry about what you say and do, lest you be on the wrong side of the next purge. Finally, look at the information starting to accumulate here. Where is its equal elsewhere? And when you find it, who wrote it? Me, or one of the people now sneeringly referred to as my “proteges,” such as Brian Wowk or Max More.

My identity and my name are my own – I chose them as much as any man can. I don’t much care what other people call themselves, and I sure don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone else to try to decide that for them. And as to the Extropian/TH fashion of changing birth names, that was an FM-2030 thing; I have never remotely suggested that someone change their name, let alone their identity. And I find the idea of cutting people off from friends and family utterly repugnant. I’ve seen plenty of that from the other side, as a consequence of being a gay man. Cripes, I only wish I could have given a lot of the people who’ve shown up in cryonics over the years new identities. And believe me, if I could have, they wouldn’t be anything like so many of them are now…

So, in the sense outlined above, I certainly do not think cryonics should be turned into a cult. I’d be the first one thrown out of it.

Secrets, well yes, you bet. There are two kinds of enterprises in this world – those that have secrets, and those who’ve spilled some of them. A global riptide of political upheaval has just been nucleated by Wikileaks – and the interesting thing is that almost all of the incendiary material that has ‘leaked’ is not even highly classified, or nor truly secret. That makes me wonder what the real secrets are like – the things that are classified.

I want the people pouring liquid nitrogen on me to have some kind of hard and fast commitment – beyond a paycheck. Hell, my physicians (mostly) swear an oath that sets out the basic conditions under which they will care for me. I want a frigging blood oath for the people entrusted with my cryonics care ;-). And I’m not at all shy about saying that I don’t think anything short of what we had in Alcor in 1987 is going to work. But, that’s a bit a writing that requires an accompanying picture or two, so I’ll save it for later.

Having said that, if you want to point to the Masons or the Moonies or the Scientologists and say, “There! There it is, that’s what we should do! That’s what we should be!” well, you missed my point altogether. By definition, we need something new, something that has not previously existed because we have not previously existed before. That means that we have the pleasure and the peril of trying craft a mechanism that will work for us and meet our needs. I don’t know how to do that de novo, starting from scratch, and neither does anyone else. We are still very much human beings, and we will still largely choose from the menu of coping strategies developed by other human institutions. There’s no sin in that. In fact, what we will look for and use is undoubtedly mostly what other institutions have used to cope with similar problems, in the past.

As to capitalism, I love capitalism for what it is, a tool and a means, not an end. Corporations exist to serve us, not the other way around. And the business corporation, a la the Santa Fe Railroad, US Steel, or Apple, is most definitely not the entity that will serve to transport cryonicists into the future. Why this should be an issue for debate eludes me, since there are no such patient care cryonics corporations left. A business corporation is in the business of business, and none of us is rich enough to pay for what it will take to transport us through time, and pull our frozen keesters out of LN2 and restore them to life. — Mike Darwin