X-Message-Number: 33244
References: <AANLkTimg8T=X_cAa_CQAroE6=7nbp-MbG5AkG=>
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2011 13:21:30 -0700
Subject: Criticism and Attrition
From: Charles in Arizona <>

Brian Wowk has complained about criticism and negative comments in
cryonics. I think this relates to a bigger problem, which is the
disturbingly high level of attrition among personnel.

Below I have listed the names of 28 people who used to be active in
cryonics, but probably never will be again. This is a very large
number for such a small field, especially since many of them used to
participate productively in case work.

Why have so many people become unavailable? Well, almost invariably,
when someone exits from a cryonics organization, either the person is too
angry and bitter to work in cryonics again, or the organization is too
angry with the person to *allow* him to work in cryonics again. Some
of those listed below have been much more valuable than others, but
whatever their value was, it has been lost. Here's the list, in no
special order:

Fred Chamberlain
Linda Chamberlain
Mike Darwin
Tanya Jones
Steve van Sickle
Dave Pizer
Carlos Mondragon
Bill Voice
Russell Cheney
Todd Soard
Brian Shock
Keith Henson
Cindy Felix
David Shipman
Jennifer Chapman
Carla Steen
Jerry Lemler
Paula Lemler
Jessica Sikes
James Sikes
Jeff Kelling
Bill Haworth
Paul Wakfer
Brenda Peters
Gary Battiato
Bobby June
Ralph Whelan
Joe Waynick

I compiled this list just from my own limited, personal recollections.
I'm sure that many other names could be added.

Is a climate of criticism a significant factor in this attrition, and
if so, why does this climate exist?

Many people have complained that working in cryonics is uniquely
stressful and unpleasant. One CEO remarked to me, "Working in cryonics
is like standing in a rain of hammers." When I spoke to a former
president of Alcor on his last day before quitting, and asked him how
he was feeling, he smiled and said, "If all the cryonicists in the
world just walked over a cliff right now, that would suit me just

I think anyone who has worked in cryonics will agree that praise or
positive reinforcement are vanishingly rare. One objective indicator
of the prevailing mindset is that we have no annual awards in this
field. In other fields where I have been active, annual meetings
provide an uplifting milieu in which people set aside their
differences and recognize exceptional contributions by bestowing a
few plaques or trophies. In cryonics, so far as I know, none of the
organizations even has an internal system for providing this kind of
positive feedback. My local Wal-Mart tries to motivate its work force
by recognizing an "employee of the month," but in cryonics, I don't
think anyone has even considered such a thing.

Why are cryonicists so slow to give praise and so quick to criticize?
We should remember that this is a group wanting nothing less than the
elimination of death. Thus, expectations are extremely high, and
motivations are personal and intense. At the same time, everyone must
live with the fact that cryonics is imperfect, and our desire to evade
mortality may not be fulfilled. This induces impatience and perhaps a
feeling of quiet desperation, especially as the aging process takes
its toll. The consequence is clear: generally speaking, no one is ever
satisfied with anything, and if an error is made, it tends to be
viewed as potentially catastrophic, rousing a response that is shrill
and intolerant.

To exacerbate the situation, cryonics tends to attract underqualified
people who may overreach themselves, because they overestimate their
abilities. Such people tend to make errors. They are also very
intolerant of criticism. So, we have a climate of excessive criticism,
directed at people who can't tolerate much criticism, even while they
tend to make errors that provoke criticism.

I haven't seen any lasting improvement in this situation during my 20
years of intermittent involvement in cryonics. I'm beginning to think
that it is chronic, with two possible outcomes. Either we will run out
of people who are willing to tolerate this working environment, or (if
we're lucky) cryonics will become sufficiently well funded and well
established to be run on a more conventional basis.

I have tried as much as possible to express this problem in general
terms. I don't want to get into any finger-pointing. I don't even know
the extent to which I may have contributed to the syndrome myself. I
just know that the pattern has been extremely destructive.

Charles Platt

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