X-Message-Number: 14098
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 14:35:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ruthanna R Gordon <>
Subject: introduction and Re: Bringing Back the Dead

I'm finally delurking, partially to correct a misconception, but mostly
because it seems silly to lurk around people who I hope will be the
familiar faces at the beginning of my second lifetime.

My name is Ruthanna Gordon.  I'm a graduate researcher in Cognitive
Psychology.  I study memory--not the neurological underpinnings (although
I do know something about those)--but the basic patterns of what actually
gets remembered, forgotten, and reconstructed in the course of normal
thinking.  Hopefully this can eventually lead to more techniques for
increasing memory's reliability--certainly an awareness of the flaws of
the basic human model is neccessary if we are ever to improve on it!  I
also consider myself a science fiction writer (albeit 'in progress'
meaning that I'm about halfway through a novel that is currently going
very slowly due to my studies and will probably get finished sometime
after my degree).

I was introduced to cryonics by a friend of mine in college, and my
partner and I intend to start the sign-up process later this year.  Right
now I'm beginning to look at the pros and cons of the different
organizations and methods.  Alcor seems to have the most advanced
techniques, but since after getting my PhD I intend to live in
Massachusetts until I can get off-planet my chances might be higher with
one of the more easterly organizations.  Fortunately money is not an
issue--I can scrape up enough for dues and life insurance, and even a
small chance at immortality with a healthy mind and body is literally

I'm also one of the near-invisible minority of religious
cryonicists.  Specifically, I'm Judeo-Pagan, with the Pagan half of that
leaning heavily towards Wicca.  

Scott Badger said:

> "Respectfully submitted," precisely because I wanted
> to emphasize my belief that everyone's right to their
> opinion is to be respected regardless of whether I
> agree with it or not. My apologies to Mr. Krug if he
> felt personally insulted in some manner. 

...but goes on to say:

> Though I try to be respectful, I admit that I am more
> openly skeptical of psychics, astrology, wiccan,
> telekinesis, palmistry, dousing, and a host of other
> pseudoscientific notions. In addition, I am proud of
> my open skepticism. I carry the banner of science and
> I voice my criticisms of these practitioners because I
> believe they often bilk the public with their scams
> and I believe that pseudoscience in general undermines
> rational thought and behavior in our population. Some

These things are not all in the same category.  Wicca is not
'pseudoscience' but religion, and no more claims domain over science than
do Judaism or most sects of Christianity.  Less, in fact, because no one
is expected or required to prioritize some orthodox set of beliefs over
the evidence of science.  Most of the Neopagans I know (including the
Wiccans) are well-educated people who keep more up-to-date on current
science than the majority of the population.  The ethics of the religion
are libertarian/anarchistic ('And it harm none, do as ye will' in place of
chapters full of laws designed for primitive desert-dwelling nomads) and
to a certain extent extropian.

One of the guests at the Starwood Festival last year (a Neopagan festival
that attracts everything from Druids to members of the Church of All
Worlds to Wiccans) was David Jay Brown, who had a talk on life extension
techniques including cryonics.  It was extremely well-attended and many of
the other attendees were also cryonicists.  I realize your views
expressed above are based on some extremely common misconceptions (many
people consider both Wicca *and* cryonics attempts to 'bilk the
public with their scams.'  Wicca costs me a couple of hundred a year
(mostly travel expenses to go to gatherings where I get to talk to a lot
of interesting people).  Cryonics will cost me considerably more once I
join a society, but I don't regret the money spent on either.

I appologize for lecturing and hope you don't take it the wrong
way.  I'm not being insulted or attempting to insult--only to dump more
knowledge into the pool.  If it helps, I've spent at least as much
bandwidth demythologizing cryonics for Wiccans.  On the other subjects
listed above I range from outright disbelief (astrology) to scientific
skepticism.  In the 1970s the study of possible psychic ability was an
area of serious psychological inquiry until a couple of widely publicized
hoaxes caused the subdiscipline to be dropped entirely.  Nowadays it is
not only impermissable for a serious psychologist to try and do research
in the area, but most won't even admit that it *used* to be a part of the
discipline!  I list it as a possibility that hasn't been given anywhere
near enough properly designed study, and unfortunately probably won't be
in the near future--therefore an honest scientist must simply remain
agnostic on the subject.  I hold out more hope for the development of
artificial psionic abilities with the advancement of neurological
knowledge and nanotechnology, which will render the whole question
somewhat moot.

> have maintained that people buy products and services
> because they are emotionally appealing, but I suspect
> that ultimately, choosing cryonics is a very rational
> decision making process that is often made in spite of
> strong emotional inclinations to the contrary. 

I would say that most people who choose cryonics do so because of a strong
emotional inclination towards genuinely wanting to live forever.  This is
surprisingly rare--the number of people I've talked to who seem to
genuinely feel that 80 years is enough time shocks the hell out of
me.  There's so much to do!  And I really shouldn't be so shocked because
the decision to become a cryonicist was a six-month emotional struggle for
me.  I, like many people, had in the process of accepting death as a
neccessity become emotionally attached to it.  It's one of the few things
that most people believe can be absolutely counted on, and the decision to
let go of it was both terrifying and exhilerating.  

Long life, 
Ruthanna Gordon

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