X-Message-Number: 6185
Date: Sat, 11 May 1996 17:43:46 -0400
Subject: SCI. CRYONICS psychology

Henry Hirsch (cryonet # 6173, 11 May 1996) asks why women are
underrepresented in cryonics, and how to make cryonics more emotionally
appealing, rather than just intellectually appealing.

There have been countless public and private discussions over the years about
motivation and how to provide it, whom to target and how to do it, etc.
First, what does not work (or hasn't so far):

Obviously, no marketing strategy (that has been tried) has been notably
successful so far, since our total numbers are still very small. No choice of
target group has made paid advertising successful, since despite wide
RELATIVE differences the absolute numbers of receptive people are very small
in EVERY identified group. E.g., libertarians are over-represented in
cryonics, yet advertising in libertarian-oriented venues does not seem to
pay. Same is true of physicians and computer programmers, among others.
("Doctors choose cryonics, 20 to one." --relative, not absolute numbers) Of
course, it is always possible that new conditions, new blood, and even just
slightly different approaches might change things, but this is yet to be

For these reasons, it probably doesn't really matter why women are generally
less receptive. Our main strategy seems to continue to be the use of the
shotgun and free publicity. But the shotgun can usually do no more than get
the potential member's attention; the steps after that are crucial. 

The primary consideration--which might apply to women a bit more emphatically
than to men--is just the age-old, ordinary tenet of any good salesman: treat
the potential customer with consideration (even flattery, which was Dale
Carnegie's main "secret") and present yourself as likable, honest and
reliable; then don't give up. This is VERY DIFFICULT and requires a lot of
HARD WORK. Thomas Donaldson put in a good deal of effort some years back in
signing up associate members, and was unusually good at it, but he couldn't
afford to keep it up. I have been relatively successful in nursing potential
members along--especially cases involving terminal patients--but the cost
involved is formidable. Besides Cryonics Institute, there are people willing
to go the extra mile in Alcor, CryoCare, and ACS; otherwise even our modest
success to date would be absent. I haven't tried actually to estimate the
person-hours invested in every member or every patient, but the number is
VERY large. 

The message so far is both prosaic and unwelcome. Some people--those
relatively new to cryonics especially--hope to provide some flash of
inspiration that will rocket our momentum. It's unlikely to be that easy, and
those who want to help can do it best by plain hard work, doggedly
maintained. In particular, they should continue to work on their friends and
relatives, using all their resources and adaptativity over a period of many
years if necessary.

I do NOT mean to suggest that the  snail's pace of growth of our first 34
years will continue indefinitely. Recent years HAVE seen some acceleration.
The climate of opinion HAS improved somewhat and will probably continue to do
so. Every year, almost every day, new advances in medical and other
technology make our position more credible, as will any advances in our
suspension techniques. Just in the last three or four years there has been a
DRAMATIC increase in the willingness of scientists and physicians to talk
about radical life extension. Beneath the surface, psychology is shifting,
and at some point there will be some catalyst that will trigger explosive
growth. But we don't know how or when that will happen, and must act as
though it will not (except that we should have contingency plans for a sudden
huge surge in demand).   

More specifically with respect to Dr. Hirsch's question, how do we make
cryonics more appealing emotionally? A few of the obvious things (assuming we
are dealing now with ordinary people):

You do the things that have been successful for clubs and political parties
and churches and so on for ages, that are totally unrelated to the intrinsic
intellectual merit of the enterprise. You make yourselves appear friendly,
likable, honest, and meritorious. You offer comradeship and individual
support. You convey a sense that your organization or enterprise is solid and
permanent. You ask for help in ways that will make it relatively easy (but
not too easy) for members to provide that help; if they give you more, they
will love you more. Use some of the usual paraphernalia, judiciously--songs,
honors awards, titles, dances, picnics, meetings...and if possible have
fraternal relations with the other similar organizations. 

What you obviously DO NOT do (in a way that pushes itself in the face of a
potential ordinary-citizen recruit) is emphasize the "far-out" aspects of
immortalism. You don't talk about superhumans or uploading or infinite life
or anything scary or bizarre. You talk about life extension technology as
just another medical frontier, and the life of the resuscitee as similar to
today's, but better--youthful good health, higher living standard, etc., and
with a better society, because people with long life expectancies obey the
Golden Rule, not offending their neighbors or fouling their nests. You
especially emphasize that they will NOT be alone. You will be there. Joe will
be there. Harriet will be there. Everybody with a little sense, and a little
luck, will be there. Their children and grandchildren will probably be there.
Not a strange and scary place, just Old Home Week and the biggest picnic
ever, in a better neighborhood.

....All this, of course, mainly by suggestion. We don't lie to anybody, or
deny that the (more distant) future will bring new dangers and demand radical
adjustments. We just try to defuse some of the unwarranted negative feelings,
and emphasize the relatively near future and its potential joys and rewards.
After all, there are educated guesses that fully reversible cryostasis may be
achieved in only a decade or two, which means that MOST patients will only
have to wait until senescence is reversible, which MIGHT also be in as little
as a few decades. Our world and society then may still be recognizable, with
known and friendly faces to greet the resuscitees.

And a final word about "sacrifice" and "burnout." You (the average member of
a cryonics organization) are probably not pulling your weight; you can and
should do more, just to improve your own chances, because those chances
depend on the long term strength of your organization and the
cryonics/immortalist movement generally. But don't try random, sporadic
efforts and (please!) don't start another new organization, unless you are
Bill Gates. Think it through, and contribute what is likely to be effective
sustainable, without sacrificing too much of this (first phase) life for the
next, which is not guaranteed.

One more thing, on the Leary matter--good riddance, probably. I do NOT think
it would have been helpful for our most publicized patient to be a certified
flake. He may be brilliant and likable, and I wouldn't sentence him to death
for his idiosyncrasies or irresponsible actions, but I doubt that he would
have been helpful on a net basis.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society 

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