Would You Like Another Plate of This?

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere –Tracy Chapman

By Mike Darwin

The mAD Men

Cryonics has a history, beginning at almost Day 1, of public relations “experts” who would set about telling us why cryonics hasn’t taken over the planet like a wildfire in a tinder dry California summer. At Day 1, or maybe even Day 1,000, they might have had some credibility. But today, they don’t.  They are mostly ignorant, and a lot of them are idiots, in the bargain. Arguably, the only people more idiotic are those cryonicists who continue to listen to them, at this late date.

The most important, the most obvious and the most factual reason why cryonics is not more widely accepted is that it  fails the “credibility sniff test” in that it makes many critical assumptions which may not be correct, such as that the cryopreservation techniques used are adequate to preserve the structure that encodes person-hood, that person-hood is, in fact, a function of structure (ultrastructure), that technological civilization will endure uninterrupted long enough to allow for recovery of today’s cryonics patients, that your personal odds of entering cryopreservation with an intact brain are probably no better than 1 in 3, and that any of the other myriad practical obstacles, ranging from the ability of patients to integrate into a future world to what kind of “jobs” they will have, can be resolved favorably…

Figure 1: Film critic Roger Ebert suffered from papillary thyroid cancer in 2002. He initially chose conservative treatment options which left his appearance intact and his ability to speak unimpaired. The tumor recurred and invaded his salivary gland with metastases to the lymph nodes of the neck. The only procedure which offers any reasonable proven prospect of a cure (~ 5%) is radical neck surgery in conjunction with intensive and relatively wide-field radiation (typically neutron beam) of the neck. The black turtleneck which Ebert now wears covers the cervical support collar which helps hold his head erect. Radical neck dissection typically removes so much muscle (and other structure) that the patient cannot hold his head erect. Ebert has no functioning larynx and cannot eat using his mouth – he is tube fed via a feeding gastrostomy. Despite these horrific procedures and the attendant suffering, he has returned to productive work. Few patients with head/neck cancers choose this treatment option, even when the alternative is certain death. Even now, statistically, Ebert’s chances of survival into old age are small.

The Hard & Simple Reality

In other words, cryonics is not proven. That is a plenty valid reason for rejecting any costly procedure; dying people do this kind of thing every day for medical procedures which are proven, but which have a very low rate of success and (or) a very high misery quotient. Some (few) people have survived metastatic head/neck cancer – the film critic Roger Ebert, is an example (Figure 1). However, the vast majority of patients who undergo radical neck surgery for cancer die anyway. For the kind and extent of cancer Ebert had, the long term survival rate (>5 years) is ~5% following radical neck dissection and ancillary therapy: usually radiation and chemotherapy. This is thus a proven procedure – it works – and yet the vast majority of patients refuse it.

Figure 2: Pay attention to what the marketplace is saying. If we are uniformly portrayed as crazy and absurd, then there are only a few possibilities as to why that is happening, and none of them are good.

Cryonics is not proven, and it is aesthetically disturbing (indeed even disgusting) to many people. It is also costly, and not just in terms of money alone. It is costly in countless other ways, ranging from the potential for marital discord, social alienation, ridicule, social isolation, disruption of family relationships (and with grief coping mechanisms) during the dying process, and on and on and on. And it does cost a lot of money, because if you figure the lost present value of capital for life insurance, dues, and end of life expenses related to cryonics, then that is a very significant dollar amount; my guess is that for a whole body patient who signs up at age 35 with Alcor, it is in the range of ~ $500,000 to $750,000 2010 dollars!

Those are perfectly valid reasons for people not to choose cryonics. Again, there is no direct evidence it will work – NONE – it costs a lot of money and even if it does work, it is unlikely to work for YOU because odds are you will be autopsied, die unnoticed for days, or die of Alzheimer’s Disease long before you are pronounced legally dead. The facts are plenty dismal enough to explain its lack of widespread adoption.

Beyond this, many other factors come into play, such as perceived interference, or lack of competitiveness with religion by cryonics, lack of endorsement by authority figures, such as physicians and scientists, actual marketing faux pas’s, such as the Chatsworth debacle and the use the words “death” and “dead” to describe cryonics patients. Then come factors which would, if cryonics were proven to work, be down in the noise, or more accurately, nonexistent, such as they way the current cryonics facilities look, the appearance and qualification of staff and so on. But there are some other factors that are material, and our PR friends have consistently missed them, and mostly, so have we. What are those factors are what should we do about them?

Listen to the Marketplace, Stupid

An elementary but seldom followed rule of enterprise is to listen to what your customers are saying. This is extraordinarily hard for most would be entrepreneurs to do, because it is in the nature of the entrepreneur to believe, passionately, that he understands the market better than anyone else, and that his vision of  the product or service he wishes to offer is not only better, it is also fundamentally new and different. Sometimes this is so, and great success ensues. However, even then, such success will be temporary if the entrepreneur or innovator fails to listen to the marketplace: his customers, or potential customers.

Over the past few days, with the passing of Robert Ettinger, cryonics has received a level of planet-wide media attention it has not received in decades. One interesting and valuable result of this is that various news venues have solicited public comment about cryonics, and what’s more, about immortalism, or radical life extension. As usual, cryonicists have been deaf to the criticism, expressed and implied in these remarks from the “marketplace. Or worse, they have been contemptuous, without being clever in their contempt and in their responses.


Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove –Tracy Chapman

The most common remarks made by people who say they wouldn’t want to live a long time, excluding the very pragmatic ones I give above, are as follows:

  • Once is enough for me, I can’t imagine going on like this for centuries, let alone forever.
  • An eternity of ____________________ (fill in the blank), no way! Life is hard enough as it is.
  • How boring, imagine having to just keep on living the way I do now, but forever! Argh!
  • The world is in a bad state, and with global warming and the like, there will be power cuts and organizational failures and those people will thaw out. In any event, civilization on the skids so it doesn’t matter.

What do these remarks mean? Well, they mean exactly what they say they mean in most cases. That may be hard to understand, especially if you look at the demographic data for how “happy” people are the world over. What you will find, if you do, is that people in Western Developed nation-states are extraordinarily happy. In fact, they are unbelievably happy (Figure 3).

DEFINITION: This statistic is compiled from responses to the survey question: “Taking all things together, would you say you are: very happy, quite happy, not very happy, or not at all happy?”. The “Happiness (net)” statistic was obtained via the following formula: the percentage of people who rated themselves as either “quite happy” or “very happy” minus the percentage of people who rated themselves as either “not very happy” or “not at all happy”.

Figure 3: A nation-by-nation evaluation of the extent to which the population of the planet’s nation-states is happy with their temporal existence. In Developed countries the satisfaction rate approaches 100% – especially in racially and culturally homogenous states with extensive social welfare programs and a tax mandated  state of (relative) financial and social equality (e.g., the first 9 countries on the list). SOURCE: World Values Survey 2005: http://www.wvsevsdb.com/wvs/WVSIntegratedEVSWVS.jsp?Idioma=I

So, if everybody is so happy, why do the majority of these same populations consistently say they wouldn’t want to live for vast periods of time, let alone forever? There are several correct contributing answers to that question. But first, an important thing to understand about such studies is that they measure only reported, “superficial” and above all, relative happiness.

Figure 4: Your life and future prospects can still be grim and relatively hopeless and yet your evaluation of your satisfaction with life vary dramatically depending upon whether you have a full belly, or even if you’ve had a meal in the past few hours.

How is this possible? The answer is that happiness is complex and exists on many different levels. The most important and the most difficult to measure is existential happiness. The issue of their existential happiness is something most people rarely, if ever confront, and almost never do so in public when asked (unless you ask them in the right way, such as, “Would you want to live forever?”). The reason for this is that if they respond by saying “My life is a boring exercise in getting from day-to-day with a lot of nagging miseries and frustrating inconveniences,” they would appear as failures, as whingers , and as losers. Few people find that acceptable! So, the happiness demographers go about their business and they ask people “How happy are you?” They use all kinds of metrics, such as, “would you fight for your country?” “Are you happy with your income?” “Are you satisfied with your relationships?” “Are you satisfied with your government?” And they get answers that correlate quite well with the level of affluence, the level of social harmony and  the level of social equality.

An empty belly, a barren room with nowhere to go, a society in conflict riddled with fear, and societies where it is easily possible to see that everyone else is doing a lot better than you are, do not make for reports of happiness, let alone even basic satisfaction with life. Consider the two children with the dinner plates pictured in Figure 4. Which one is likely to say he is “content” or “happy?” Both photos were snapped in the regions now undergoing famine in Africa. Both children have similar long term prospects. But one has food going into his belly, and one doesn’t.

The Issue of Existential Happiness

You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won’t have to drive too far
Just ‘cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living  –Tracy Chapman

Now consider the populations of the richest, most developed and most equitable nations on earth. By any historical standard they are brilliantly well off. They are better off on average than any human population ever has been since we started walking erect as a species. But, what are their lives really like? What is their existential state of happiness? Let’s take a look.

Figure 5: Humans were not evolved to be confined to a fixed space day-after-day and to do boring and repetitive work which is usually personally meaningless, and is done on the orders of others who are also omnipresent to supervise its execution. That is the working definition of hell for hunter-gatherers and they are uniformly both horrified and disgusted to see “civilized” man behave in this way.

The alarm clock goes off. You must get out of bed and start your day. You wanted to stay up later the previous night and catch that late TV program, chat a little longer with friends at the pub, but you couldn’t… You are sleepy and you really want to turn the alarm off and go back to bed. Of course, you can’t do that, because you must go to work. For the vast majority of people that is not a prospect that fills them with joy or anticipation. Your work is OK, or at least not “bad,” but you have to go to the same place every day, and you have to do what one or more other people tell you to do. You have a little negotiating room on this issue, but not much. Similarly, you have a little wiggle room. There are some minutes when you can steal a little time “of your own.” But mostly, you have to do one thing after the other that someone else tells you to do. What’s more, you must do it when and how they tell you to do it (Figure 5).

Then there are the other people you must necessarily interact with. Several of the people you work with are complete monsters, in fact, they despise you and they go out of their way to make your job and your hours at work more difficult. And the customers! Most are OK, but some are horrible – encounters with them leave you shaking, and sometimes fearful for your job. Speaking of which, there is always some degree of apprehension present that you might lose your job; you might screw up, the economy may take a nosedive… In any event, your survival is critically dependent upon your job.

Figure 6: This is what work is like for a good percentage of people on the planet – including people in the so-called Developed World.

Others whom you work with are better compensated, and those that own the enterprise you work for are getting rich from it, and that rankles. But, beyond these concerns, this isn’t what you really wanted to do with your life and your time. When you were fifteen, you wanted to _______________, to travel, to see the world, and to meet interesting people and do interesting things. Instead, here you are. And every day you are a little older and a little more run-down. The clock is ticking. When you looked in mirror this morning, you had to face it yet again; you aren’t young anymore and you aren’t going to get any younger.

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone –Tracy Chapman

You had such high hopes for your marriage and children. But instead of being something that greatly amplified your joy, they have proved a source of frustration, and in some cases, almost unbearable irritation and grief (Figure 7). The sexual spark that enervated your relationship with this current wife scarcely survived the third year of marriage. Now, sex is desultory, clinical, and rarely offers much satisfaction. You feel guilty watching people on the Internet have what looks like really fantastic sex, and you feel even guiltier when you cheat on your wife just to get a quick and mediocre bit of sexual variety from someone who is likely just as inexperienced and clumsy at sex as you are. And you worry not just about getting caught, but about the many possible complications that will ensue if the person you are cheating with becomes obsessed, jealous, or god forbid, pregnant.

Reproduction as a Barrier to Happiness?

You see my old man’s got a problem
He live with the bottle that’s the way it is
He says his body’s too old for working
I say his body’s too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody’s got to take care of him
So I quit school and that’s what I did

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way –Tracy Chapman

Figure 7: In the absence of the extended family and in the increasing presence of single-parent “families,” children have become an increasingly liability and a source of heartache, rather than joy. They are also increasingly sociopathic; not infrequently something right out of “The Bad Seed,” as a result of these gross defects in their family and social environment.

Now you realize that your children have lives of their own and that they are incredibly selfish and greedy. And this makes you sad and reflective, because it informs you of what you once were yourself, when you were young. And you don’t know if that’s good, or bad, or just the way things are or are supposed to be.

Meanwhile, the few good people in your life start to get picked off by death. The mentors, the special people who managed to stay cheerful and see life as good and worth living, and make you able to see that too, start to disappear. The people you have loved and who have who made you feel safe and secure, begin to die. Your parents become old and sick and must be put in care – which makes you feel sad and very guilty. And when they die, you are, for perhaps the first time, really open-face slapped with the reality that you too are going to die, and that there is no escaping it.

And frankly, why should you even try? You were raised with a very limited repertoire of interests, ambitions, and capabilities. It is so hard to survive in this world, even in this relative paradise of Western Technological Civilization, that mostly what you had to learn and spend your time thinking about were how to acquire the skills to compete and to make a living and support your offspring and your dying parents. All so that this cycle can be repeated, yet again (and to what end?). You laugh at people who talk about what makes the stars shine, how long the universe will last, where all the dark matter is, are there multiverses, what would it be like to “see” in the full electromagnetic spectrum, or even what it would be like to sit down and talk with Chinese workers, or Egyptian shop keeps, and find out what they really think about Islam, democracy or the USA, without someone on the TV telling you what they think (and getting wrong)?

You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain’t got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You’ll find work and I’ll get promoted
We’ll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs
You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I’d always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain’t going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving –Tracy Chapman

Figure 8: Most people have a very limited scope of interests and of knowledge. They are stuck in a rut, and so used to looking at dirt from dawn till dark, that they’ve forgotten the wonderful possibilities life offers.

Your sphere of options is incredibly narrow. You don’t see it that way, but that is the reality. Except for 2 weeks a year, and scattered holidays in between, your life is mostly the same – and it isn’t exciting and you don’t enjoy being told what to do all the time. In fact, if you didn’t need the money, you’d beat your boss senseless, or at very least, walk out and never come back.

And in the end, you are old and sick and ultimately DEAD.

Religion looks pretty good in such a world. And that is the reality that most people, the world over, labor under almost every day of their lives.

The fundamental problems are these, in no special order:

  • Most people lack autonomy in their daily lives. Next to life itself, freedom is the most precious value; and most people’s lives are functionally devoid of it. Many cryonicists fail to see this, because they are self employed, are in jobs that offer them compensating satisfaction, or that they don’t perceive as “work” (e.g., they are not watching the clock just waiting for the torture to be over for another day).
  • Most people have a very limited range of interests and possibilities for gratification. This problem cannot be fixed for most by giving them more money, or even more money and autonomy. Do that, and they will drown themselves in what they already have, or kill themselves with drugs. How many cars, planes, and pairs of shoes or houses can you really gain joy from?
  • The vast majority of people over 30 don’t feel well a significant fraction of the time. They have colds, flu, osteoarthritis, and most importantly, they are poorly conditioned as a result of jobs that enforce immobility and make them sedentary. As a result, they are tired and drained from their work and home responsibilities at the end of each day, and worst of all, they spend that part of the day when they feel the best and are most alert, doing what other people tell them to do – not what they want to do.
  • They are losing their own youth and health and watching others suffer and die around them. How’s that for a satisfying life experience? Every day they turn on the news or talk to friends or family, and find that another fixture in their life is dead, or dying. As John Donne said, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”[1]

We humans were not designed to spend our days taking orders from others. We were first and foremost hunter-gathers and we are happiest when we roam, explore, think and grow in playful ways.[2] We are miserable when we are confined, and even more miserable when we are ordered about and forced to care for our offspring alone and in the absence of extended families. The nuclear family is a special kind of hell created by the Protestant bourgeoisie to generate wealth for the sole end of pleasing a psychopathic god (you aren’t even allowed to really enjoy it). If agriculture inflicted great and enduring misery on the masses, then hierarchical social structure, slavery, serfdom and employment magnified it into hell on earth.

Those are some of the real reasons why people don’t want to live forever. And why should they, if they are fundamentally existentially miserable? I’ve seen a number of cryonicists abandon cryonics, and ultimately life itself, because of these very reasons – often because of having a family and children under the dreadful conditions imposed by the nuclear family society of the West.

You’ll note that on the list of nation-states happiness rankings, the Philippines comes in number 12 – and yet it is a poor, Third World country. What it does have is (currently) security and a great culture of extended family.  Having children in the West is associated with decreased happiness of long duration,[3] as well as the obvious material deprivation associated not just with child rearing, but with the astronomically high and rising cost of higher education, or post secondary school job training.

Smart & Unhappy?

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way –Tracy Chapman

Finally, as the writer Ernest Hemingway sagely noted shortly before killed himself in 1961, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Emotional development in humans is perhaps best defined as the ability to cope with risky or stressful situations, especially over long periods of time, and to work and play well with others while doing so. These skills are best learned by dynamic interaction with cohorts with whom the growing child is well matched socially and intellectually. Unfortunately, high intelligence is socially isolating; children don’t want to associate with those who are ‘outsiders’ or ‘different.’

Figure 9: In a society that devalues and ridicules the very source of its technology, its art and its wealth, the highly intelligent individual will be marginalized, and in all too many cases, socially crippled. This is unacceptable.

Thus, when it comes to happiness, people who are socially inept and who have trouble coping emotionally with the exigencies of life are, on average, the least happy. It should thus come as little surprise that our prisons are currently filled with a disproportionate number of people who are more intelligent than average and who lack the social coping skills to get on in society. They are also smart enough to know that many of the rules and orders given them are arbitrary and have no basis in reason beyond maintaining the status quo. As sociologist and educator Bill Allin has observed: “People with high intelligence, be they children or adults, still rank as social outsiders in most situations, including their skills to be good mates and parents.”[4]

The relevance of this to cryonics should be obvious to most cryonicists; cryonics attracts, with massive disproportionality, the highly intelligent. Indeed, many of the arguments that make cryonics credible, require a remarkable degree of both intelligence and scholarship. Inability to understand the enabling ideas and technologies usually means the inability to understand, let alone embrace, cryonics.  A disproportionately unhappy population of smart people translates to a disproportionately large population of ideal market candidates for cryonics being unwilling and indeed, unable to embrace it.

So How Do We Fix It?

There is no one solution or easy fix. The first step is to realize that what the marketplace is telling us is true: many people don’t want to live because the existential ground state of their lives is a gray-state of dysphoria at best, and at worst, a state of active misery, relieved only occasionally by a few quickly snatched minutes of relief, or if they are lucky, joy. That state of affairs can only be addressed by showing people very real and concrete ways in which the quality of their lives can be improved, both here and now, and in the future. Heaven isn’t waking up from cryopreservation and having to go into work two weeks later – FOREVER. That is the very definition of hell for most people. And the mystics have been smart enough to carefully exclude any mention of time-cards from their hereafters. The Mormons and the Islamists have even had the good marketing sense to offer up eternities where each man commands his own world, or at the least, his own harem.

We cryonicists need to offer concrete, if incremental practical and immediate, or at least near-term solutions to the existential woe of both the masses, and to that subset of them that are highly intelligent. We need to offer an improved quality of life today, using emerging technology, and not just talk about “the wonderful future” that will someday be there (not here, but there). And by our actions in developing and improving cryonics now, today, we need to offer an opportunity for a broad cross section of people to get involved, and to take satisfaction from their actions to extend their own lives. People respond to activism. They respond to organizations that urge them to take steps to improve their lot and inform them how to do it.

The passing of the father of cryonics, Robert Ettinger, is a case in point. His impending cryopreservation has been obvious to all who were plugged into the community for at least a year, and yet there was no planning by any cryonics organization to respond to the inevitable media blitz or, much more importantly, to the pro-death, ignorant and uniformed (but nevertheless opinion-shaping) commentary that must inevitably follow. The same was true of the recent attacks on cryonics by Johnson, Maxim, et al. If the cryonics societies can’t think that far ahead, and can’t think that strategically, how on earth are they to be trusted to have enough sense, or even the cojones, to cryopreserve, care for us and revive us?

We need to realize that we’ve got a fast car in cryonics, fast enough to fly away in; and that we leave tonight, or that we live and die this way.


[1] Meditation XVII: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Donne

[2] Ambrose, S. Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors, Anchor, 1996: ISBN-10: 0385479662

[3] Abma, J.C. & Martinez, G.M. (2006). Childlessness among older women in the united

states: trends and profiles. Journal of Marriage and Family. 68, 1045-1056.

Ali, L. (2008). True or False: Having Kids Makes You Happy. Retrieved May 19,

2011 from Newsweek.com < http://www.newsweek.com/id/143792>

Doss, B., Rhoades, G., Stanley, S., & Markman, H. (2009). The Effect of the Transitionto Parenthood on Relationship Quality: An 8-Year Prospective Study. Journal ofPersonality and Social Psychology, 96(3), 601-619.

Duffy, J. (2003). The pursuit of happiness (with or without kids). Retrieved May 22,2011 from BBC News Online Magazine


[4] http://billallin.com/

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39 Responses to Would You Like Another Plate of This?

  1. Abelard Lindsey says:

    There’s a lot of truth to this. This is why the market for cryonics will always be small, relative to the total population. People who are receptive to cryonics are those who feel they have more control over their lives, both financial and personal. The market for cryonics is comprised of these kind of people. I think a good market are America expats living in Asia and other regions of the world. These are the people who value freedom and adventure over other values and who live by such choice. I have found that expats, say, in a bar in Thailand, can actually be quite receptive towards cryonics and life extension, or at least open-minded to the possibility that it might work. People here who live the conventional life-cycle based life tend to be dismissive of the concept. Market targeting is the key.

    • I agree with this, but there is also a downside. Signing up for cryopreservation means giving up some of this control and wealth, and getting involved with people that are often considered (rightly or wrongly) clever but dishonorable and untrustworthy such as life insurance salesmen, lawyers and physicians (for life insurance exam). The bit in the article mentioning the true cost of involvement in cryonics applies. People who have control over their lives are often in this position because they avoid these other kinds of people. In addition, it is very hard and costly to make any kind of arrangements to take wealth with you, and that means you could be reanimated with no control whatsoever of your new life. Most people realise that cryonics is unlikely to work for them, even though there is no better alternative. If they give up their control and wealth now, that may be it. They will never experience it again. This problem is so considerable, that a lot of people would rather die than face it.

      • admin says:

        All very, very true. One significant difference between the US and UK is the degree of distrust towards physicians, and to a lesser extent lawyers. In the middle and upper classes here, there is almost no visible distrust of doctors and perhaps 1/3 that of lawyers — hard to put a number on it. Also, a lot depend upon the TYPE of lawyer. Most middle & upper class people are very trusting of and reliant upon probate and estate planning lawyers. That is very likely an artifact of the tax laws here. The difference between even basic estate planning and none at all, is often the difference between most of your estate going to taxes or for medical bills, and almost none of it going there! Again, there is no NHS here.

        Because there is no NHS people buy their own medical services. As long as that was affordable it was great! [ It no longer is,] People were very picky about their primary care docs, and if you trust your PCD, then you are likely to be comfortable with his referrals (consults in the UK). Your final triage was also your pocketbook, so you knew where you stood. With NHS, all sorts of necessary decision making comes into play with the associated bureaucracy. And everybody knows that in THAT situation things will inequitable in a way you can’t see. Also, your doc doesn’t work for you, he works for the NHS. I’ve known many a competent doc that was an arsehole, and in private practice they flop. Even the HMOs don’t want them because of the headaches they cause the other docs in the system. In the NHS, you have to take what is offered. And please note, I’m not knocking the NHS. It’s a tradeoff, that’s all.

  2. Mark Plus says:

    >Most people have a very limited range of interests and possibilities for gratification. This problem cannot be fixed for most by giving them more money, or even more money and autonomy. Do that, and they will drown themselves in what they already have, or kill themselves with drugs. How many cars, planes, and pairs of shoes or houses can you really gain joy from?

    That shows a problem with Thomas Donaldson’s essay, “A History of Humanity to 3400 AD: Daily Life,” where he postulates that ordinary people would just buy bigger and bigger versions of the kinds of goods already available in the 1970′s, but inaccessible for private ownership then because of cost:


    I could see having a really, really big house and some outbuildings for, say, my private collection of undigitized books the size of a university library, an automated clinic for my basic medical needs, my Tony Stark-like laboratory, my private art collections and museums, a private conference center where my friends and I can meet and discuss our mutual interests, a private observatory and so forth. Oh, and several independent security systems for the protection of myself and the house’s other welcome occupants, of course.

    But I don’t see the point of owning the big,expensive stuff just to impress other people. I’d want to own these things because I intend to use them, not to have them serve as a signal of superior reproductive fitness or whatever just-so explanation evolutionary psychologists throw out these days. I’d still probably buy my daily supplies from Walmart or its future equivalent.

    Yet very few people think like that now when they envision the potentials of wealth. Instead they tend to focus on the “Richie Rich” aspects of it, like the nouveau-riche rappers, professional athletes and other celebrities who clearly don’t know how to use their money constructively.

    As for an especially miserable group of people in a developed country, you can see examples on the AlterNet website. The “progressive” authors publish article after article complaining about how Americans don’t farm right, don’t eat right, don’t fuck right, have the “wrong” beliefs about god (whatever that means), suffer from “false consciousness” and so forth. The benighted American population therefore needs a “progressive” regime to lead them to enlightenment. Given that abyss of abnegation, they then wonder why Ayn Rand’s world view, despite its deficiencies, has become competitive enough again that they feel the need to denounce her a couple times a month.

    Given that sour outlook on life, you’d think some of them would go into business just to experience relief from all the envy and resentment they feel towards successful people.

    • admin says:

      Hahahaha! Maxim used to go on about bypass and CABG and “certified and regulated medicine.” The fact is that CABG was an inferior procedure to medical management of angina until the late 1980s – it actually caused more death and illness and it cost fantastically more. Thus, the learning curve of HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION to get CABG to a better position than medical management was thirty years, and who knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars and human lives?! If CABG were to debut today it would be shut down in a literal heartbeat on the basis of Evidence Based Medicine.

      As to ALS. I have had all too much experience with those few ALS patients who opt for vent support. One of the most horrible fates imaginable is locked-in syndrome. If you want a taste of it, get a trusted friend to completely wrap you up from head to toe in duct tape – with just your eyes, ears and mouth exposed – and then leave you that way, say for 12 hours. You can even have the TV running, if you like. Ever had a cast on and couldn’t scratch the itch? Well, just imagine that to nth power and with a tube in a trachea. And ever few days someone will come, roll you over and do a fecal de-impaction on you. If you enjoy ‘fisting,’ then that’s the life for you. And if you could scream – but oh, that’s right, you can’t. — Mike Darwin

      • With regards to CABG and stents, can anyone here comment on this web page?
        It seems to be suggested that surgery may be prescribed where prescription medicine is better. This is said to be because pharmacology has advanced faster than surgical procedures, and there is an enormous investment of money and education time in surgical centers.

        • admin says:

          CABG didn’t beat medical management of coronary artery disease (CAD) until the late 1980s. Every good cardiologist I know can pretty much tell in minutes from the angiogram and the patient’s medical history (Hx) whether or not he needs a CABG or a stent, in terms of life or death. A single lesion in the wrong place can pretty much mandate a CABG, and multi-vessel disease of any severity is usually a good indication, as well. Beyond that, it comes down to a lot of subtle choices and to decisions where there is often no wrong or right answer… Personally, I don’t like stents or angioplasties, except in highly specific instances, which I know I’m not qualified to decide upon. That’s why I know some of the best interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in the US, the UK and India. And what’s better, I know good, reasonable interventional cardiologists who have CAD themselves. Their personal Tx choices are often instructive.

          The patient has the toughest decisions. How much misery do you want to put up with to avoid surgery? The reason CABG was practiced for decades before it beat medical management in the statistics department was that it provided immediate and durable relief of symptoms. For me that would be worth a lot. Angina isn’t just painful, it is terribly distressing and triggers profound anxiety – in fact that’s one of the differentials for MI in chest pain. If it hurts AND you feel like the end of world is nigh, then it is almost certainly an MI.

          In terms of medical management of angina here is what is absolutely necessary if the patient is to survive long term. Statin drugTx to reduce LDL cholesterol to ~ 80 mg/dl. Get the HDL as high as possible. The statins are pleiotropic anti-inflammatory drugs and they are absolutely indicated in documented CAD, unless they cannot be tolerated (rhabdo, etc.). Regular daily exercise such as walking 2K. Don’t walk or take other exercise = DEATH. The MacDougal and Pritikin Diets have been shown to reverse atherosclerosis in clinical trials, and the addition of a statin to the MacDougal Diet increases the speed and efficacy of the diet (seen this in pts myself). However, most people can’t or won’t eat that way, and the Pritkin Diet does not extend lifespan because the gains in decreased CAD mortality are more than made up in death from cancer, suicide and homicide. Hypertension MUST be converted top normotension within a few months, at most. It is often necessary to use 2-3 drugs to do this, and it is without question worth it – there is lots of Level-1 evidence. Even using toxic, crappy old drugs is better than hypertension. Today, with the angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) drugs, management is much easier; and the ARBs are showing signs of having positive pleiotropic effects as well, although it is too soon to tell for sure.

          A technology I’ve started to evaluate and which I’m surprisingly impressed with is the InterCure RespRate system (http://www.resperate.com/us/pages/about_overview.aspx ) for reducing BP. When I first saw this thing I thought it was pure hokum. However, it does let many patients reduce their BP medication – most particularly beta blockers – which some patients find intolerable. It is a bloody expensive thing for what it is (~ $400), but since it is FDA approved, Medicare or private insurance will cover it. It is only for those patients who are patient, like the touch-feely approach, or who won’t or can’t take medication. It works for all kinds, but most patients do not have the time, discipline and patience to use the device as prescribed.

          Beyond the above, the next most important things is enhanced external counterpulsation therapy (EECP) http://www.ghc.org/all-sites/clinical/criteria/pdf/eecp.pdf. I am a huge advocate of this non-invasive Tx. It is positively miraculous in many patients who have burned through 2 or 3 CABGs and are out of options. The Tx consists of the patient donning a pair of pneumatic trousers with multiples cuffs that inflate at the beginning of diastole and deflate at the beginning of systole. During the inflation portion of the cycle, the calf cuffs inflate first, then the lower thigh cuffs and finally, the upper thigh cuffs. Inflation is controlled by a pressure monitor, and the cuffs are inflated to about 200 mmHg. The patient’s ECG is used as the trigger for inflation/deflation cycles.

          In patients with multi-vessel or serious single vessel disease, it comes down to how long do you want to live and how do you want to die? CABG, done at centers of excellence here in the US, is now so good it is incredible. As a cryonicist, I wouldn’t even think of walking around with serious CAD whilst fooling around with medical management. That’s saying something, because I’d be the first to tell you that virtually nobody comes off the pump, even today, with the cognitive reserves they had when they went on. Again, your mileage may vary.

  3. gwern says:

    > For the kind and extent of cancer Ebert had, the long term survival rate (>5 years) is ~5% following radical neck dissection and ancillary therapy: usually radiation and chemotherapy. This is thus a proven procedure – it works – and yet the vast majority of patients refuse it.

    Indeed. It takes a lot of willpower to live from day to day. I am reminded of Hal Finney’s article announcing his ALS diagnosis, Dying Outside ( http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ab/dying_outside/ ):

    > Although ALS is generally described as a fatal disease, this is not quite true. It is only mostly fatal. When breathing begins to fail, ALS patients must make a choice. They have the option to either go onto invasive mechanical respiration, which involves a tracheotomy and breathing machine, or they can die in comfort. I was very surprised to learn that over 90% of ALS patients choose to die. And even among those who choose life, for the great majority this is an emergency decision made in the hospital during a medical respiratory crisis. In a few cases the patient will have made his wishes known in advance, but most of the time the procedure is done as part of the medical management of the situation, and then the ALS patient either lives with it or asks to have the machine disconnected so he can die. Probably fewer than 1% of ALS patients arrange to go onto ventilation when they are still in relatively good health, even though this provides the best odds for a successful transition. With mechanical respiration, survival with ALS can be indefinitely extended.

    Or (thank goodness for Evernote which lets me refind those old citations) http://www.fastcompany.com/node/52717/print :

    > Then the knockout blow was delivered by Dr. Edward Miller, the dean of the medical school and CEO of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University. He turned the discussion to patients whose heart disease is so severe that they undergo bypass surgery, a traumatic and expensive procedure that can cost more than $100,000 if complications arise. About 600,000 people have bypasses every year in the United States, and 1.3 million heart patients have angioplasties — all at a total cost of around $30 billion. The procedures temporarily relieve chest pains but rarely prevent heart attacks or prolong lives. Around half of the time, the bypass grafts clog up in a few years; the angioplasties, in a few months. The causes of this so-called restenosis are complex. It’s sometimes a reaction to the trauma of the surgery itself. But many patients could avoid the return of pain and the need to repeat the surgery — not to mention arrest the course of their disease before it kills them — by switching to healthier lifestyles. Yet very few do. “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle,” Miller said. “And that’s been studied over and over and over again. And so we’re missing some link in there. Even though they know they have a very bad disease and they know they should change their lifestyle, for whatever reason, they can’t.”

  4. unperson says:

    once again, mike, I think your perspective, which is typical of most cryonicists, is wrong headed and shows that you do not understand humans.

    Your writing above assumes that humans take an analytical approach to these questions of life and death. They do not. They are pack animals. They simply will not break ranks in the manner that is required for them to sign up for cryonics. You seem to imply that people are doing some sort of financial accounting process and then on that basis rejecting cryonics. Not even close.

    And then there is your question about why people undergo radical surgery and yet reject cryonics. There is a vast gulf between these practices, which are mere incremental advances, and cryonics, which is a huge leap ahead, requiring a degree of iconoclasticism and cultural alienation that only a tiny sliver of america has.

    In these areas, humans operate on emotion and cultural norms, not rationality. And the things they say when they speak of cryonics and such does not reflect some sort of measured and objective weighing of the idea. One simply does not discuss these things, not outside of the setting of a classroom. And even then the responses are not worth analyzing.

    We are as different from them as chalk from cheese. And it has little to do with intelligence.

    • unperson says:

      one more thing, mike. Consider this: the things people say about complex and abstract issues are window dressing.

      • admin says:

        Yeah, that’s exactly what I do, So, when I catch them off guard by asking if they want longer lifespans and the answer is an immediate visceral “No!” then I know I’ve got the authentic response. It’s hard to get to an authentic response because most things which are really valuable are also really exploited and abused. So, for instance, if I walk up to a man on the street and ask him if he wants $1,000, no strings attached, he will be very guarded and may even tell me to fuck off – I know because I’ve done this, repeatedly. This is simple self protection based upon lots of prior experience of being scammed. And incidentally, the LOWER the sum of money you offer the better your chance is of engaging serious interest. I’ve done lots of experiments like this and sometimes if you want an honest answer, you have to go at the question incrementally, or come in completely around the normal defense mechanisms. BTW, if you do that with money you will get a nearly 100% positive response. Do it with variations on the theme of longer life and you’re lucky if you get a 10% positive response. This is for the urban, West Coast US. Responses vary by country/culture. — Mike Darwin

    • Abelard Lindsey says:

      No, I think Mike is absolutely spot-on. If life is basically shitty, you’re not going to want more of it. You want more life if you think you can make it better. This, of course, is based on feelings of self-empowerment that much of both traditional and modern society is carefully structured to prevent one from having. I know, because I have experienced both situations.

      • admin says:

        Yes, there are two sides to the marketing equation. We as cryonicists have an enormous desire for life, or in some cases, a morbid fear of death (or both). That desire is monumental compared to the rest of the population’s. It a Mount Everest next to a mole hill. That makes it possible for us to overlook all the deficiencies and problems with cryonics, because, as we so often say, even one chance in a million is better than none. And yet, we mock the poor saps who use the same kind of reasoning with respect to getting rich by buying a lottery ticket. I mean, it’s hopeless, and we all know it, and very few cryonicists buy lottery tickets. But the fact is, people not only have won the lottery, someone wins every day: and I know a woman who has won big 3 times! Cryonics? Well, who’s come back so far? Nobody. So, who are the real fools?

        The problem with so much desire is that blinds us to how to deal with the deficiencies in cryonics. And the first and most important way to deal with them is to not just acknowledge them, but to advertise them and to be seen to be working on them with commitment and intent. Otherwise, we just look CRAZY and DELUSIONAL.

        So, why don’t more people feel as we do about life? That’s really complicated, and some of it is probably biologically based: genetic or epigenetic. But a lot of it isn’t. Life just plain sucks for most people – not on a superficial level, but on an existential level. And when they hit middle age, they realize that this is it – this is as good as it is going to get in many respects. You can no longer join the Merchant Marine, the Foreign Legion, learn how to fly planes, or do lots of other things. You realize that your dreams as a young man or woman are increasingly IMPOSSIBLE. Indeed women, especially attractive women, have the horrifying experience of waking up one day to realize that they have become INVISIBLE!

        People don’t want more of that, and they have no idea that life can be any better. And the fact is that it can. It can be fantastic, even at 60. And if you can live a fantastic life at 60, with all of the inherent biological limitations imposed by aging, then just imagine what you could do if you had the physiology of a 20 year old. Most people start to get crushed in their teen years, and by the time they’ve worked at some “job” for 20 years they are psychologically macerated. That’s the reality we have to work with and to change. — Mike Darwin

  5. Mark F. says:

    A lot of food for thought here. And the description of life in the West for most people—well, it comes uncomfortably close to the truth for me, if not for most people involved in cryonics. I signed up for cryonics at age 28. At age 51 I’m much less enthused about it and the $115 it costs me each month.

    • unperson says:

      Same here re: my enthusiasm for cryonics in my 50s versus when I was in my late 30s and signed up.

      I suspect that the list of active cryonicists has a fairly high degree of churn: a lot of people sign up and then lose their fear of death 15 to 20 years later and drop out.
      I think that a lot of our changing relationship with death is evolutionarily determined.
      That said–I am going to remain signed up.

      • admin says:

        Wouldn’t we love to see THAT data! Fat chance, huh?!! — Mike Darwin

      • Mark Plus says:

        I haven’t noticed any diminution of my interest, and I turn 52 in November.

        I also notice that I feel somewhat happier now on a day-to-day basis. That seems to fit the pattern of research findings about the course of happiness over current life times. Apparently happiness follows a U-shaped pattern and that the curve turns upward in your 50′s.

        And, possibly, my status in the cryonics community could rise just from attrition, so that I might start to have some influence around here in a few more years. (At the very least, I’d have to work at it to fuck up worse than some decision-makers we’ve seen in cryonics.) Woody Allen said something to the effect that 90 percent of success in life comes from just showing up.

      • Fundie says:

        Even if a person doesn’t fear death, it seems that skipping death would be very appealing.

        But I guess it’s like Ettinger said.

    • admin says:

      That’s pretty close to what most people paid for comprehensive health coverage just a few years ago (e.g., employee contribution). It’s a LOT of money. Or, is it?

      Let me tell you about cryonics Alcor-style, today. But before I do that, I need to tell others out there what you probably already know. When reality turns into a cliche, it’s a hell of thing, because it takes a long, long while for the whole of the population to get it. The cliche in this case is that a very large segment of the population in the US is no longer “middle class.” Many don’t know it yet, or believe it, and it will take a few more years before they understand and accept it.

      Middle class means you do not spent 4 days replacing all the hoses on your 16 year old car and then begin to sand it to repaint it (so it doesn’t rust). Middle class is health insurance and dental insurance that actually pay for expensive and inevitable age associated catastrophes. Middle class is having all your teeth all the time – not going years scrimping and saving for a bridge or an implant. Middle class is HAVING SOME SAVINGS, Middle class is renting a car ,occasionally, when you really need to – or BEING ABLE TO. Middle class is having a credit card. Middle class is when AFTER your eye exam you actually buy contacts or glasses, instead of just being relieved you don’t have a brain tumor or macular degeneration, and then making do with store-bought “readers” and being resigned to the fact that you haven’t seen the stars at night in years. Middle class is not looking like you are middle class because you’ve learned to keep up appearances by shopping at thrift stores or dustbin diving, or accepting gifts from better off friends. Middle class is having not the faintest understanding of how to hitchhike, or how to occasionally scam the mass transit system where you live. Middle class is going into a REGULAR grocery store and pushing a CART (not carrying a basket) down the aisles and buying the food you want, without carefully (and painfully weighing in your mind) which item will give you the most pleasure or the most calories for the money. Middle class is feeling sufficiently secure in your job that you don’t think about losing it, and being plugged in enough to “the network” that if you do, you’re pretty sure you can find another, or find temp work pretty quickly.

      That’s middle class, and for tens of millions of Americans it is gone, and it is not coming back. And it is very likely things are going to get a lot worse, and soon. So, when you are middle class, $115/mo while noticeable, is not agony. But if you are one of the newly minted “barely subsisting poor,” it is a fantastic sum! It is 5 “decent” meals out a month. It is 10 movies or 50 or 60 with Netflix. It is countless small and needful purchases – a package of socks or under weak, SIM MONTHS worth of decent razor blades, a stick of deodorant or a pack of wet wipes. It’s two pairs of decent (not nice) shoes. Two months of $115 = a pair of glasses and being able to properly see, instead of carrying a hand lens around like a character out of Rosemary’s Baby.

      Not long ago, I talked to an Alcor Director who, in exasperation, told me how ridiculously little the staff at Alcor was paid. I should be so lucky! These people live in the middle class world. They are baksheesh babies sucking on the tit of your money, and others like you, to live what is essentially a middle class lifestyle. And believe me, if they don’t have teeth in their head on $90 or $100K a year, or on $30 or $40 a year, its because they spent it on tattoos, costly education, or something else equally not essential to keeping life and limb intact. And no one buys you or I an automatic external defibrillator and installs it in our home and workplace if we get heart disease. And they have “benefits” – 20th century style benefits. They live in 20th century post-industrial age splendor. And if they have some nettlesome medical problem that their heath coverage bureaucracy can’t fix – they can get more personalized medical attention. There are lots of little perks. And there is always some nice food around left over from this or that visitor or event, and, in short, all the taken -or-granteds that working for a multimillion dollar enterprise brings with it.

      And now, I come to the really astonishing part of this discourse. If they were competent, and not moral bankrupts, I would be thrilled to see them get that money and have that lifestyle AND MORE. And I’m betting that you would feel a real sense of satisfaction at sending in your $115/mo if you felt really good about the service you were getting. In fact, the service people get here at Chronosphere – the personal attention, the information, the entertainment – odds are that that feels like more value for money than a $115/mo to Alcor. When Alcor can’t figure out that the father of cryonics is likely to arrest and get a press kit ready – or doesn’t care enough to do so, or can’t figure out how important it is to do so, or is too lazy to do so. Well, that’s incompetence or laziness. And the moral bankrupt part is when you come to work every day and take money to do a job you KNOW you are not doing well, or can’t do well, or simply won’t do well. That’s a corrosive sin that eats at your soul. It’s a “velvet leash” that turns you into a soft slug and and a willing slave.

      Now its your turn, why don’t you feel good about sending your $115/mo to Alcor? The lady who lives next door to us is barely holding onto her home, she takes care of an elderly lady in-house for extras income, she gets supplemental food at the food pantry and she gives $100/mo to her church. She feels really good about that $100/mo, too. And the church people are always around. They give her rides, they drop off clothes, they come and do her yard work every couple of months. And when SHE is sick, they are there to pray with her every day. No, she isn’t going to live forever. But jeeze, she thinks she is, and in any event, what a good value for money spent. — Mike Darwin

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        $115 per month for comprehensive medical? Are you kidding?

        I pay $453 per month for the catastrophic (high deductible) insurance for my wife and myself. I’m self-employed, meaning that I get to pay for the health insurance myself.

        • admin says:

          I tried to make it clear that I was talking about the employee contribution in a typical health plan as of a few years ago. Clearly, you haven’t worked for others in a US corporate style environment in a long while. Much of the vicious union wrangling going on in the US right now is over this very issue, namely how much the employee’s share of healthcare coverage should be. Healthcare costs are exploding and will continue to, until the system is deeply reformed, or collapses. We’ll be at 16% of the GDP for healthcare in 5 years. No can do. My partner is absolutely representative of what is going on everywhere in the US. 20 years ago he paid the 2010 dollar equivalent of $120/mo for Blue Cross – that was full coverage at any doc he wanted to see. About 5 years later that got so expensive he went to a non-Blue Cross PPO. Five years later, that became not just cost prohibitive, but useless. You wouldn’t take a farm animal to the docs on that PPO provider list. So, he switched to Kaiser. Kaiser has been extraordinarily good value for the dollar, but if you get something that requires the bests of the best – such as, say, proton beam irradiation of a tumor that would otherwise be managed surgically in a way such that you will be urinating and defecating in bags the rest of your life, well you are out of luck unless you’ve got $250,000 in cash. About 5 years ago, his cost for Kaiser was $125/mo (school district pays the rest). Now, it’s about $250/mo and escalating rapidly. BTW, ~ $115/mo is also about what decent Medicare supplemental insurance costs today.

          You are living in the past. You need good advice about how to restructure your health care coverage in a rational and affordable way. As it is, when you do get really sick, you will NOT be able to pay for your coverage and they will jack you around while you are ill in absolutely unbelievable ways. If you are wealthy and can afford top-dollar, blank check Blue Cross (Blue Chip) coverage you will get good care. If you are still working for a company that has good disability AND medical insurance coverage, you will get adequate care. But if you are buying your own “comprehensive” coverage and are self employed, you will get fucked – and sure as hell won’t kissed in the bargain. To rephrase Kaiser Sose: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that health insurance really exists.” — Mike Darwin

  6. Mark Plus says:

    What about giving David Stodolsky a million dollars so that he can apply his knowledge of social science to market cryonics more effectively?

    Ironically he can’t even persuade other cryonicists that he knows how to do what he claims.

    • unperson says:

      what makes you think that the ideas he espouses would have the same effect on non-cryos as they do on cryos? We are very different, at least when it comes the idea of cryonics.

    • admin says:

      David Stodolsky is a very valuable individual – or should be – to cryonicists and immortalists everywhere, because if all else fails, we can simply move in with him on a 24/7/365 basis. We won’t live any longer, but it will sure seem like forever. — Mike Darwin

  7. Mark F. says:

    Just to clarify: Alcor dues are $68 a month and my life insurance costs an additional $47 a month.

  8. Mark F. says:

    “$115 per month for comprehensive medical? Are you kidding?”

    Well, that might be your cost if you have insurance through your employer. I pay $192 a month for my current PPO plan, but I could get insurance for less than $115 a month if I went with the HMO. Middle class benefits, as Mike says.

  9. Mark F. says:

    “And I’m betting that you would feel a real sense of satisfaction at sending in your $115/mo if you felt really good about the service you were getting.”


  10. Mark F. says:

    It’s worse than you think. Health care as a percentage of GDP is already at 17.6% , and that is projected to increase to near 20% by 2020.


    • admin says:

      Wow! What’s your cite for that? I got pounded for making a similar assertion whilst in Kiev during dinner with Danila Medvedev and some of the Russian Transhumanists.. If that is true, then it adds context to the deficit cap/budget boondoggle now going on in Washington, D.C. – Mike Darwin

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        That health care makes up one-sixth of the U.S. economy is a well-known statistic. Its been bandied about on the internet and in business magazines for years. I’m surprised you would not know this.

  11. anon says:

    It should thus come as little surprise that our prisons are currently filled with a disproportionate number of people who are more intelligent than average and who lack the social coping skills to get on in society.

    That would be very surprising if it were true, but in fact, low IQ is the single largest predictor of a person ending up in prison.

    • admin says:

      Admittedly, it is a controversial area and even a few years ago I would have been the first to say that low IQ is almost exclusively a marker, if not a causative agent for criminal behavior (although even this is very controversial). Then I began encountering former inmates who were obviously very intelligent – probably in the Mensa range of the IQ spectrum (e.g., in the 98th percentile or higher). That caused me to pull a book off my shelf which I’d read about ten years ago, Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential (Streznewski, M. Wiley, 1991: ISBN: 978-0-471-29580-8) which asserts that the distribution of IQ in inmates in prison is bimodal and consists mostly of the very thick with a significant minority consisting of the very bright. Streznewski claims that 20 percent of the prison population meets the criteria for gifted and talented. Of course, if US Federal prisons were included in this data set, this would likely make even more sense. I’m certainly open to correction on this (or any other statement I make). I will definitely take the time to look for other data. Unfortunately, my copy of Streznewski’s book is 500 miles away from where I am now and it was a bloody expensive book at the time. — Mike Darwin

  12. zarzuelazen says:

    You’re right on the mark my friend. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my life has been endless tedium, and I’m afraid it’s true for the vast majority of people. Now approaching middle-age, I’m mad as hell. I agree that being forced into an office cubicle all day working for 20 bucks an hour , taking orders from arseholes all day, all the while growing older and losing health and youth, it’s hell on Earth.

    Let me tell you about a PUA (Pick-Up-Artist) called G-Manifesto. He a ‘dealer’ who operates in a ‘creative’ relationship to the law. He lives a great life, traveling the world, banging hot chicks, visiting interesting people and places all the time. He has all resources he needs to do the things he wants. (And in case you’re wondering, no this is not made up or fake, the ‘G’ is the real deal).

    If transhumanist ideas can’t be realized by hook, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about realizing them by c***k? I’m NOT advocating anyone break the law (wink, wink), I’m just saying, chances are, if a lot of the smart folks in transhumanist circles started thinking of ‘creative’ solutions to rules and regulations and social conventions (which, lets face it, is just a big stick for rich, stupid monkeys to go on whacking us with), some would succeed.

    The alternative is working within the system, but if as someone phrased it so aptly on another forum, if you offer an olive branch to a monkey who is belting you with a stick day-in and day-out, what happens is he’ll just take that olive branch off you and start belting you with that one as well.

    Remember, the G Manifesto man:

    You got a fast car
    But is it fast enough so we can fly away
    We gotta make a decision
    We leave tonight or live and die this way –Tracy Chapman

    Message received. Loud and clear.

    • admin says:

      If G-manifesto isn’t real, then I know a number of guys like him who are. In fact, it might be argued that my life is a bit like that. I have almost no money, but I travel the world (mostly legally, I would add), I meet some of the most interesting people imaginable from the heights of academia, to the depths of the street gangsters. It is in no way an ideal life, but it is vastly better than the one you describe, or the one some others in my position choose to live. However, the key to that kind of limited freedom (and it is very limited) is a combination of intellect, aptitude and profound social dis-inhibition. I can tell people how to vastly improve the quality of their lives if they are stuck in certain situations and have certain physical and mental assets at their disposal. However, this almost never does any good, because they are incapable of overcoming the social inhibitions (or controls, if you prefer) they’ve been inculcated with since infancy. It is FASCINATING to watch these inhibitions kick in and take over. And no amount of reasoning, or even reasoned argument, will overcome them.

      One thing I can tell you, is that if you behaved the way most of the successful people you see in the public eye behave, you would be completely ostracized and viciously criticized by your workaday peers. I gather you are from the UK, so just reflect, if you will, how you would fare if you behaved like the panelists on Have I Got News for You, or like Graham Norton, or many of his guests do? These people are markedly socially dis inhibited and they don’t play at all by the rules that most of the people reading (or writing) on this site do.

      If you could be a fly on the wall in their lives you’d probably go on a homicidal rampage. When these folks consider the people in cubicles at all, it is with contempt, or at best pity. They find it insanely amusing that the “little people” play by rules that they themselves long ago abandoned, or never paid any attention to to begin with. I’m not speculating about this, I know it from first hand experience. Every so often they overstep the limits of the possible, even for themselves in their extravagant world, and that’s when you see them pilloried in scandal, or dead from an overdose. Otherwise, they skip over the skin of this earth with scarcely a care, or an inhibition. This might be acceptable if these men and women were gods or titans who were on about the business of securing a stable world order and immortality – even if only for themselves. But that is NOT what they are about. And I think you know that, too. — Mike Darwin

  13. Mark F. says:

    The health care stats were reported by “Health Affairs” magazine.


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  15. Shannon Vyff says:

    We currently pay $867.00 a month, for a family of five to have comprehensive Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas state employee health insurance. I can’t imagine many can afford that (part of why Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the US, at 30%, the National average is 20%). We barely can afford it, but my husband is working on his Ph.D., teaching as an assistant right now -and in a few years, will have an income that is easier to live within in- in our society. We pay the insurance, because for one thing our children need healthcare at times, and for another, I’m hoping to get pregnant again. For me, at my stage in life (having had my tubes tied after three children) I must attempt IVF, (which is not even covered under the health insurance and will run an additional $8,500.00 per cycle). I’m an Alcor member, as well as CI, I give a hundred monthly to my Unitarian Universalist Church (my cryonics orgs and my church, both give no promises or suggestions of afterlife), in the past I’ve been able to give more monthly to my church and I hope to again in a few years. Beyond that I donate to various non-profits, Doctors Without Borders, United Nations Children’s Fund, Red Cross, Smile Train, Save the Children, World Wildlife Federation and others–on an annual basis, but sometimes a few times a year. At times when my budget is tight, like the few years we are in right now after having moved back from England (where my husband did his Fulbright research) and supporting him while he is in school–I’ll give just $5.00 to $10.00, when we have more income I’ll give more, $20.00, $50.00 or $100.00 per organization.

    My children receive quality education, we have Internet and cable for documentaries, learning and social networking. My teen has an iPhone, each child has a laptop. We are able to travel a few times a year. My children know how to shop frugally, balancing cost with health and nutritional needs. They know how to find the latest styles at thrift shops, I place importance on being able to donate to causes that give back to society–rather than on material or “brand name” things. I take my kids to volunteer locally at food banks, and groups like the Ronald Mc.Donald house–whatever is is the area we are living. I’ve taken them to see difficult living conditions in other countries, and raised them with documentaries–so they will have appreciation about where and when they were born, all the things they have–and their obligation to give some of that back.

    Why do I want another baby? I love teaching them when they are babies, having them reading at age 2–breastfeeding till age 4 1/2 years, giving them an expanded awareness about the world. I may adopt if I don’t conceive, there are so many children needing homes-and I can easily re-lactate to breastfeed an adopted baby.

    I think another reason people don’t choose cryonics that was not touched upon, is that it is “selfish” -people have guilt about how much suffering there is in the world. The assuage that guilt by being green, or being religious –and also by not wanting to take more resources than their time allows for. This being said while they daily, while alive, take more resources than billions of people in the world–while 17,000.00 children die of hunger a day. Where 30% of the world lives in extreme poverty, under $1.25 a day–not even “relative” poverty.

    Humans have a hard time living when they have more wealth than others, at least balancing their guilt.

    For me, I’ve developed a way to cope, since I was in my late teens–I can give back a fair amount in my life from what I got by luck, of where and when I was born. I can give back more, the longer I live–period. If cryonics works, then I can help with problems at that time. A. I don’t think cryonics has a high chance of working due to societal problems, not the science- and B. I don’t think there would be a “utopic” situation 500, or a 1000 years hence.

    Religious people can do more good for their religion, or if you are inclined to social action or social work, you can find ways to fit in if cryonics worked. If you are desperately poor, due to society in the future, well you can appreciate how most the world lived in your time–and do what you can to work your way out of it. If you actually find life to be too hard to live for whatever reason, you have the same option to check out that you do now. People don’t often choose suicide (statistically, of course there are those that do) –because they see things worth living for in life. A reason I’ve seen people be positive about with cryonics, they’d get more time in life.

    I’ve never had people refuse money I’ve given to them on the street, but the largest sum I’ve given is two hundred. I’ve never had people say they wouldn’t want more of life because life is so hard (I have heard the decrepit/bad health argument, which is countered by rejuvination) It is my experience that people are mostly optimistic and happy. That there is more good in humanity than selfishness.

    I don’t have the view that children are a detriment due to their selfish nature–I see acts of altruism that are unbidden in my own children. Even though I feel a lot has to do with how parents raise them, I know there is an enormous amount that is genetic–but even then one can turn to studies showing other apes, such as Chimpanzees have altruism innately.

    I don’t fault Alcor for not having a press release ready for Robert Ettinger’s death. I feel that is Cryonic Institute’s job, and Robert’s son did an excellent job giving interviews and information. The news spread globally, and brought new interest into cryonics.

    Life is hard, but I can’t justify saying my life is “hard” when so many others have have it worse. I’ve met people who have it “worse” and they are happy.

    Most people are happy with what they have in life, whether that be a small amount or a large amount –most everyone still has goals they are working for.

    Promoting cryonics would be better if there was a revived mammal of course. There is science to support it working someday, but it can’t be proved to “work” yet. Beyond the science of it though the psychological factors must be addressed. A major point is how one can be helping the Earth, giving back to humanity if it works. Cryonics has to lose its selfish image, and show how it gives back to the community now as well (research into organ preservation and transportation, taxes, employee incomes, building expenses). Cryonics needs to show how it benefits the future as well as now.

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