X-Message-Number: 33503
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2011 18:24:38 EDT
Subject: Reply to Chris Manning: CI & Change

Content-Language: en

Mike Darwin wrote: 
'Attempting to make meaningful technical change at CI is a  frustrating, 
micro-incremental, and mostly unrewarding process. Most suggestions  are met 
with the ripostes that they are "unaffordable, impractical, or  
I then quoted a suggestion I made to the CI group (concerning the  way CI 
measures the LN2 levels in the cryostats) and the reply I received from  Andy 
Zawacki. Mike then posted a long discussion about different methods of  
measuring fluid levels. 
Mike seemed to be claiming that there is a culture of resistance to  

change/improvement at CI. My comments were intended merely as an example of how
CI responded to a suggestion from me. This example did not make it seem to me 
 that such a culture exists at CI. Mike does however make some good points 
about  measurement of LN2 levels. I will take the liberty of forwarding them 
to Andy  (he won't be able to read them here), although I daresay he is 

already aware of  them. BTW in my experience, a culture of resistance to change
or improvement is  found in many organizations. 
Chris Responded: 
I do read every CI case report, with the same layman's approach as  
described above for reading the posts made here. I would not describe them as  
'nightmarish', I certainly would care if I thought they were, and I don't get  
the impression that they make a 'mess' of  members' care. 
Mike  replied: 
'Notably, you don't ask for chapter and verse as to why I believe  
otherwise.  Sigh. That's probably  just as well.' 
It occurred to me after I posted the above, that I ought to have  asked you 
to explain what you meant. You could of course have provided an  
explanation without waiting to be asked for it by  me. 
MD:  OK, well this is a really complicated and nuanced issue. First of all, 
nobody  likes criticism, not even me. Having said that, I've had to deal 
with a lot of  it over a period of at least 40 years, and so I've become 
accustomed to it. I've  also learned that it is a great tool for FORCING me to 
examine my own premises  and assumptions. That's good, but it's also bad, in 
that it has desensitized me  as to how others feel in response to criticism. 
The  second point to be made is that I don't think there is anyone in CI 
management  that is malevolent or even deliberately careless or incompetent. 
That's actually  a much easier situation to deal with (i.e., incompetence or 
malevolance).  Furthermore, what I see as the really serious problems at CI 
are  rooted in multiple factors (interacting with each other) some of which 
are not  amenable to the normal mechanisms of reasoned discussion. A lot of 
technological  decision making is very subjective. Apple decided to keep its 
code closed, and  gave very compelling arguments for doing so. Microsoft 
decided to do the  opposite. I REALLY liked Apple - in fact, Alcor had Apple 
Macintoshes as the  successor to the Kaypro - but we simply could not find 
the programs we needed -  so we had to switch to PCs. Similarly, Airbus 

decided to make gigantic more  fuel  efficient passenger planes and Boeing 
on smaller, faster more  fuel efficient passenger planes. In the latter 
case, it still isn't clear who  made the best decision - or if there is a 
viable market for both. These kinds of  issues are "philosophical-engineering" 
decisions and they get sorted out in the  real world by MARKET FEEDBACK. 
And  there we have the BIG PROBLEM of cryonics. There is no market 
feedback. CI's  culture and technical operations have been determined by a 

philosophy that is  very different than that from which East Coast cryonics and
Chamberlains-style  cryonics proceeded from. Bob Ettinger is arguably the 

philosophical architect of  CI's approach, and that approach may be summarized 
the view, often  expressed by Bob, that most of the "medical trappings and 
concerns over such  technical details are superfluous, and that a Volkswagen 
and a Mercedes are  equivalent in the most important way, namely they will 
both get you to where you  are going." The problem with this approach is that 
if you aren't very much  concerned with the details, and especially if you 
don't have corrective  feedback, then it becomes perilously easy to begin 
practicing cryonics as a  recipe - but one where you never get to taste the 
finished product.  Until Ben Best arrived on the scene,  there were no CI case 
reports, and what's more, there was no data collection or  documentation of 
any kind. There wasn't even any meaningful MEASUREMENT going  on. Why would 
there be? Anything we  could learn, or write down, would be the scribblings 
of an infant to the  super-technologists of the future.  
Unfortunately, that misses the real purpose of case reports,  careful study 
and evaluation of what is happening to patients is in fact mostly  to 

inform us, here and now, about how well, or poorly we are doing. But again,  
s response to this has been pretty much to reassure people that the  

important to thing is to get cryopreserved and stay cryopreserved; how this is
done is not nearly so important.  Again, this rooted in a philosophical  

position. Bob does not, for instance, believe that personal memories are  
to personal identity. He has written before that he believes that  personal 
identity consists of a "self circuit" which he defines as an  arrangement 
of neurons that instantiate the consciousness of the individual. He  then 
argues (with considerable credibility) that such a collection of neurons  and 
their basic circuitry of interconnection is likely to be inferable under a  
wide range of conditions of cryopreservation. The problem with this is that 
many  cryonicists do not agree with that position. I don't think many 
cryonicists  would be happy being resuscitated with the wiring responsible for 
generating  "consciousness" being intact,  but  otherwise being tabula rosa - 
total amnesiacs about their life before  cryopreservation.  
This position is actually pretty close to the position that almost  

everybody now cryopreserved can be revived (technologically) TODAY - because it
possible to clone primates. If memory is unimportant, or relatively so, 
then  we can start recovering patients right now by cloning them in China, or 
the  Russian Federation where it is legal. If the "self circuit" is unique 
to each  person, including to genetic duplicates, then this approach won't 
work - but  nevertheless, we are still very close to being able to revive 
people, because as  soon as we can image at the cellular level, we can map all 
the connections in  the reticular activation system (RAS) and use technology, 
such as tissue  printing, to reconstruct the self circuit of a given 
individual and  substitute it for the RAS circuitry of a clone.   
I'm  not buying that. Having said that, I have no objection to other people 
deciding  that such is the truth of what constitutes their personhood. How 
could I object?  I can't argue in any absolute or rigorous way that this 
point of view is wrong,  because it is a matter of values and taste, which at 
least at this time, is not  subject to testing or experimental validation. 
I can however, state with a good deal of authority and certainty,  that 
many of the working assumptions we started out with in cryonics were wrong  - 
incorrect - and therefore that the conservation of personal identity by  
criteria such as memory (declarative and procedural) will not survive some  
methods of cryopreservation based on our current understanding of physics and  
information theory. One of the analogies that Bob Ettinger used in The 

Prospect,  was that because some cells survive freezing, even with very 
techniques, this ought to imply that many others are only slightly injured. 
He  used the analogy of soldiers on a battlefield after a battle. This 
analogy is  incorrect. If a battalion is shelled on a battlefield with high 
explosives, some  soldiers will survive, but many that don't will be blown to 
bits - literally.  That's a binary situation, and  it turns out that such is 
also the case with freezing injury in the presence of  little or no 

cryoprotection. Most cells are simply osmotically and mechanically  squashed by 
formation. They don't break up into stable, discrete pieces, but  rather are 
re-morphed into new structures that carry no meaningful information  about 
their former state. A few cells will escape this fate by the expedient of  
inhomogeneities in the ice-electrolyte mass that results from freezing, but 
this  no bearing on the fate of the rest of the battalion of cells.  
A  timely analogy is the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It is perfectly 
possible  to see a completely intact house resting atop a mass of bits and 
pieces of cars,  toys, furniture, bodies, photographs, and just about 

everything else imaginable.  A reporter can even peer in through  the window and
a child's crib in the bedroom, some pictures still on the  wall, books and 
papers, stereo equipment and CDs... This in fact was the backdrop  for the NBC 
Nightly News here in the US last night.  That house, virtually unscathed, 
was  sitting there akimbo on that mass of mud and mayhem.  As the reporter 
thoughtfully remarked,  "It was impossible to tell where it came from." Well, 
maybe it is possible to  tell where THAT house came from, but not for 
almost all the others, or the cars  or the people, or all the wiring, and 

plumbing, and so on. That's a pretty good  analogy to the kind of injury seen in
freezing damage. I've done my best to  summarize that on Chronosphere in an 
article entitled, "Does Personal Identity  Survive Cryopreservation?" 
A  shortcoming of that work, which is, surprisingly, closely related to the 
 behavior of the people now attacking cryonics with a vengeance, is that 
you can  argue over the evidence till the cows come home, or to till the stars 
burn out,  by simply saying "what if...and launching into a scenario which 
is the equivalent  of one of FD's or Unperson's conspiracy theories. In the 
real world, real people  who are sane, or even marginally so, handle such 
issues by simply asking,  "Where's the beef? Show me the proof! I don't give 
a damn about your  speculations or your hypothetical's, show me 1 person, or 
better still 1,000  people whom you've waked-up from cryonic freezing and 
who are perfectly fine!"  That is the same criterion used to solve almost all 
debates in the marketplace -  prove it. Prove it by delivering a 

demonstrably working product. In fact, it  goes much, much further than that in 
real world, because the product doesn't  just have to "work" it has to work 
very, very well. There are lots of computers,  mobile phones, flat screen TVs 
and computer programs out there. Many are junk,  and we've all been stung 
by making a bad decision. So there is word of mouth,  consumer review 

resources, and all kinds of other feedback mechanisms that take  us beyond 
issue of "works/doesn't work" to the nuances of how WELL it  works.  All of 
that's missing from  cryonics. 
It is  also missing in other areas of human action (so far) most notably in 
politics  and philosophy. And again, in those areas you see the same kind 
of endless  debates and often vitriolic arguments, most of which are a 

consequence of all  involved having no way to sort out what is the right 
and what is the  wrong one.  Progress in those fields  has been horrible by 
comparison to fields of endeavor where there is feedback.  Medicine used to 
be right up there with politics, but it has become increasingly  evidence 
based, and this has greatly reduced the useless debating, refined  practice, 
focused research and generally led to a great improvement in  healthcare. It 
has a long way to go, but it is a start. Before the scientific  method got 
applied to medicine, the discipline flailed around for centuries  making 
little or no progress, and canceling out much of what progress was made.  That'
s cryonics today. 
Ted  Kraver & Ed Hope at Cryo-Care, and later Bob Ettinger, had a lot of 
ideas  about how to fabricate cryogenic vessels in which to store patients. Ted
's ideas  were practically wrong, and Bob's ideas (using foam insulation, 
for example)  were theoretically (fundamentally) wrong. While critical to 
the practice of  cryonics, neither of these approaches resulted in any 

longstanding debate.  People bought the CryoCare units, cussed and swore and 
never to buy  another, and went in search of a more reliable manufacturer. 
Bob tried to  construct prototypes of his foam units, failed (cracks and 
failure of the  insulation effect to scale linearly with increasing foam 

thickness) and tried  something else. For a number of years Bob had no success 
building a working  perlite unit. Then, Andy Zawacki was hired, and Andy 

brought skills to the task  that Bob didn't have. CI got working cryostats. But
very importantly, the first  CI Cryostat is now gone, and some of the other 
early units will (IMHO) be  retired. Why? Because they got feedback and 

improved the design. Even the first  cylindrical CI units had a "learning curve"
 and the later ones perform better  than the earlier ones. The only reason 
CI knows this is that they MEASURE the  performance, and when they see 

variations, they try to figure out why, and move  away from unfavorable factors
and towards favorable ones. 
This  all make perfect sense. And Alcor has had the same experience with 
their high  vacuum superinsulated dewars. They don't make them in-house, but 
like any other  piece of equipment, quality varies depending upon the 
By  contrast, in the biological end of the operation, opinion and 

prejudice, and  mistaken assumptions rule supreme. Hope will always triumph over
reality where  there is no corrective feedback. There are thousands upon 

thousands of volumes  written about the nature of heaven and hell and how to get
either place; but  no meaningful roadmap which travelers use to make the 
journey and then return to  write reports. And so it is with cryonics. 
I got  to these lengths here to show that there is no malice on my part; 
and no malice  on the part of people like Ben and Andy. I am well aware that 
they honestly  believe they are doing the best job they can and that their 
decisions are based  on logic, reasoning and evidence which they believe to be 
valid. Ten or 20 years  ago in politics, people on opposite sides of the 
aisle in the US had the same  understanding of each other. They may have 

despised the other guy's ideology,  but they realized that he was just doing the
best he could trying to make sense  of the world from a different background 
and perspective. It's a lot like the  attitude many people in the West have 
towards other peoples' religion. As long  they believe in god, the details 
aren't worth killing each other over. That's  great for religion (less so 
for politics) because religion is fantasy as far as  the real world is 

concerned. People don't show up on the church steps pissed as  hell because they
ended up there (in hell that is), or whinging about the Sunday  Brunch in 
heaven. It's all stuff and nonsense, and its only purpose is to make  people 
feel better about death until the time comes when they too, are  dead. 
So,  THAT is (in part) why it is so difficult to deal with CI, and why 

change is so  micro-incremental in those areas that involve biology. If you are
neither using  evidence based methods to determine your course of action, 
nor personnel who can  prioritize and decide accurately about such evidence as 
does exist, then you  will mostly do nothing, or very little, and spend a 
great deal of the rest of  your time on hand wringing.  
In  order to specifically analyze CI case reports, I will have to have 

recourse to a  medium other than Cryonet. Probably the best way to do this is to
create an MS  Word document which can be downloaded. This will allow for 
the inclusion of  photos, excerpts (with graphs and charts) from CI case 
reports, and also allow  it to all be present in one document. I'll try to do 

that, but it may be some  days. I'll send it to you personally, or post the URL
to it wherever you  like. 
I'll  also include some criticisms of the SA and Alcor case reports.  
As to  the issue of misleading the public about the medical competence of 
cryonics  personnel by using terms like "perfusionist," "surgeon" and the 
like. In the 47  years that cryonics has been in existence, Maxim is the 
first of what have been  countless critics to raise this issue. After much 

thought on the matter, I'm  inclined to agree with her criticism that 
should not use those  words, although for completely opposing reasons. I 
think it is extremely  dangerous and misleading for anyone, in or out of 
cryonics, to believe that a  medically qualified surgeon or perfusionist can 
competently or safely treat a  cryonics patients without MUCH additional 

training. This is,in fact, the  equivalent of assuming that a psychiatrist can 
neurosurgery competently or  that a dermatologist (or even a plastic surgeon) 
can do cardiac surgery  competently. All of these specialties are just 
that, specialties, and they  require much additional training, not just in 

technique, but in theory and  fundamental physiology. The textbooks written for
surgical physiology are very  different than those written for critical care 
medicine, or for general  instruction (such as Guyton's, for instance).  
When I  established the domain of the cryonics emergency transport 
technician I did NOT  use the word paramedic. Instead I chose "Alcor Certified 
Transport Technician"  (ACT) as the name. I did this because paramedics don't 
(or didn't) rapidly  induce hypothermia, monitor multiple body temperatures,  
moderate ischemia-reperfusion injury,  perform hours-long mechanical CPS, 
nor do they do these things on patients who  are "no codes," and therefore, 
on average, vastly more injured than the typical  cardiac arrest patient 
encountered in the field. 
The  idea that medically trained people can just be dumped into cryonics 
without a  great deal of additional knowledge and skills is pernicious. A good 
way to make  this absolutely clear to is STOP calling our personnel by 
equivalent names.  
Since  the mid-1990s I've been working on a proposed standardized 

nomenclature for  cryonics. It doesn't matter so much whether the terms I 
propose are 
adopted.  What does matter is that standardized terms of some kind ARE 
adopted, and soon.  One simple reason for this is that having half a dozen 
different words to  describe the act of human cryopreservation, such as: 
cryostasis, biostasis,  morphostasis, cryonic interment cryonic suspension, 

cryopreservation,  cryosuspension, is sloppy, confusing to the public, and makes
impossible to  track the penetration of the idea using technologies like 
Google Ngram. Words  matter, and the public is already sufficiently confused 
and misled by others,  that we don't need to be contributing to the problem 
ourselves. - Mike  Darwin

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