X-Message-Number: 9557
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 22:17:56 -0400
From: Saul Kent <>
Subject: The Failure Of The Cryonics Movement - Part II

        In our denial of the truth and our evasion of 
reality, we go on and on about irrelevant or imaginary
things.  Among the myths cryonicists have developed 
are the following: 

        1)  That all we need is for some billionaire
to bail us out with a barrel-full of money. This myth has 
been with us since the inception of the movement and 
shows no sign of disappearing, despite strong evidence 
that it is absurd.  Rich people, even rich cryonicists, aren't 
fools. They aren't going to bankroll a movement of wild-
eyed dreamers and rigid ideologues.  They'll  put their 
money up (with caution) when they see persuasive 
evidence that the money will be used wisely, with a 
reasonable chance of success.

        I say this as someone who has been
responsible for putting more money into cryonics than
anyone in the history of the movement, and who has
been accused frequently of being a wild-eyed dreamer
myself.  Well, the truth is that I *have* been a wild-eyed 
dreamer at times, and *have* wasted some of the money 
I've put into cryonics. But, for the most part, I've put my
money on horses who had produced evidence that
they had a shot at reaching the finish line.  Moreover, 
now that I am older, wiser and more desperate, I am
becoming more and more realistic about where I 
put my money and what I expect to get from it!
        2) Another myth that has permeated cryonics
from the beginning is that there has never been a really
good effort to promote cryonics by a professional
promoter/publicist/sales person, and that if we had
the right promoter and enough money to do the job
right, there would be rapid, accelerating growth in the

        I contend that this is the exact opposite of
the truth.  While it's true that there has never been a
multi-million dollar campaign to sell cryonics, there's
never been enough evidence to support the investment
of that kind of money in the promotion of cryonics.

        On the other hand, there is a long history of
competent promoters, entrepreneurs and sales people 
comitting themselves to the growth of cryonics, with little 
or no success.

        First, there is Bob Ettinger himself, whose
book (The Prospect of Immortality) persuaded a number
of people (including me) to become cryonics activists.
In the 1960s, Bob appeared on many local and national
radio and TV shows, including several appearances on
the highly popular Johnny Carson show.

        On one of these appearances, Bob held up a
color rendering of a beautiful cryonics facility designed by
a company called CryoLife in Kansas City, Missouri.  Bob
said that he had been told that CryoLife expected to see
30 of these facilities built across the country over the next
few years.  In October 1966, while on a cross-country
cryonics trip with Curtis Henderson, we met with the man 
behind CryoLife, a successful funeral director, who was
the slickest, most persuasive promoter I've ever met.
However, CryoLife never got off the ground.

        A couple of years earlier, two fast-talking
promoters with good track records in other fields--Leonard
Gold and Steve Milgram--put considerable time and money
into developing a cryonics company (Juno, Inc.).  Gold
purchased a bankrupt business (the Patton Machine
Works) in Springfield, Ohio; raised substantial capital from
local businessmen; persuaded a cryogenic equipment
manufacturer in Columbus, Ohio (Cryovac) to build the
first cryonics storage capsule free of charge; persuaded
the local Springfield newspaper to give his company free 
publicity through regular news stories; and gathered a 
stack of letters from funeral directors around the country 
stating their desire to work with Juno.

        In May 1965, Juno was involved in the near-miss
freezing of a woman in a hospital in Springfield that generated
a tremendous amount of worldwide publicity.  When Curtis
Henderson and I met with Gold near the Whitestone bridge
in late 1965, shortly after starting the Cryonics Society of 
New York, we asked him what he thought we should do:
 "Nothing!", he replied, " I've taken care of it all.  The first
person will be frozen in a few months on international TV
with the Pope and other celebrities in attendance.  After 
that, Juno expects to be freezing thousands of people a 
year, with the company going public right after we freeze 
a Nobel-prize winning scientist."  Suffice it to say, none of 
this happened.

        Among the other people who tried to
promote cryonics in the early years were banker and
oil speculator Harlan Lane, real estate speculator and
politician Don Yarborough (who came within a few
votes of becoming Governor of Texas), businessman
Forrest Walters (who formed ContinueLife); business-
man and biophysicist John Flynn (who formed the first
incarnation of BioPreservation), and businessman and 
real estate speculator E. Francis Hope (who formed 
the first incarnation of CryoCare).  All these people 
were successful in other ventures; none were 
successful in cryonics.

        The most impressive team I met with in those
days was a group of well capitalized businessmen and 
scientists from Cleveland, headed by the Vice-President
of a major cryogenic equipment manufacturer.  This group
had developed specialized equipment, including a multiple-
body storage device that had been patented, and included a
Prof. of Biophysics from Case Western Reserve University
whose research team had frozen pigs at Case Western.
Despite all this, they went nowhere with cryonics.

        In later years, a number of other competent
people, with track records of success in other business
ventures, tried their best to promote cryonics. These
included, Irving Rand, a crack insurance salesman,
who spent a great deal of time and money attempting 
to sell cryonics, without success.

        Then there is what I consider the best and longest
standing campaign to promote cryonics...the efforts at Alcor
in the 80s and early 90s, which led to a growth rate of 30% a
year for a number of years until Jerry Leaf's sudden and un-
timely death, which destabilized Alcor and led to its breakup, 
resulting in the formation of CryoCare in 1993. I'll get back to 
what Ralph Merkle has deemed "The Golden Era of Cryonics" 
later, but first I want to discuss another of the myths that has 
plagued the cryonics movement for years.
        3) This myth is that the biggest thing holding back
growth in cryonics has been the continuous and persistent
attacks on us by cryobiologists...in newspaper and magazine
stories and on radio and TV shows.

        I don't deny that a less hostile attitude towards
cryonics on the part of the cryobiologists would have helped
the movement, but I completely disagree with the notion that
the hostility of cryobiologists has been a major reason for 
the failure of the cryonics movement to grow.

        I say this because history shows that it is possible
to achieve major growth in an industry in spite of hostility from
the authorities in the field.

        A good example is the growth of the vitamin
supplement industry.  In the 1950s, virtually every medical 
doctor and nutritionist in the United States contended that
"supplemental vitamins are worthless" and didn't hesitate
to voice this opinion to their patients and to the media.  At 
that time, the relatively small number of people who took 
vitamins were considered "health nuts".  

        However, in the 1960s and 70s, the use of
vitamins grew rapidly in spite of continued opposition
from the medical profession and little scientific evidence 
to support it.  By the 80s and 90s, the growth of the vitamin 
industry had accelerated dramatically, in large  part 
because of an avalanche of scientific studies in favor 
of taking vitamins.

        Another example is the practice of birth
control in the United States among Catholics in spite of
continuing opposition to the practice by the Pope and
the upper echelon of the Catholic Church.  Surveys
have shown that just as high a percentage of Catholics 
practice birth control in the U.S. as non-catholics.

        The common thread in these two examples
is that it has been possible to generate tremendous
growth in two industries despite the opposition (and
hostility) of the authorities for one critically important
reason:  the products work!

        In the case of vitamins this became 
apparent to regular vitamin takers long before 
scientific studies confirmed the health benefits of 
vitamins. It didn't take rocket science for vitamin 
takers to  discover that they felt better and got sick 
less often when they took vitamins.

        Similarly, Catholics defied their Church 
by using birth control because it stopped women from
becoming pregnant far more effectively than the
rhythm method advocated by the Church.

        I'm very confident that many people who
believe in the religious concept of an afterlife will opt
for cryonics as soon as they believe it will work better
than the notion of getting to heaven, which brings me 
to the final cryonics myth I want to discuss:

        4) That the failure of the cryonics movement
to grow is some kind of mystery.  The only mystery I find
difficult to fathom is why--after 33 years of failure--anyone
in the movement remains puzzled in any way about *why* 
cryonics has failed to grow.

        To put it in a nutshell:  cryonics hasn't grown
because nobody thinks it will work!  After 33 years of
failing to convince people that cryonics can work, you'd
think we'd all agree that, except for a handful of people, 
it's difficult or impossible to sell cryonics, and that "a 
handful of people" cannot be translated into 
significant growth.

        But all I hear about is other reasons for
our failure to grow:  that signing up is too hard; that 
religious beliefs stop people from signing up; that 
people find it hard to confront their own mortality; that 
people don't want to confront the opposition to
cryonics of family members and friends; that young
people don't think they'll need to be signed up for
years....etc., etc.

        I'm well aware of all these reasons and
more and there's some validity to all of them, but 
the truth is that all of them together don't compare to 
the simple fact that we've got a terrible product that 
virtually no one wants!

        Now it's time to get back to Ralph Merkle's
"golden era of cryonics" when Alcor's growth rate was
30% a year.

        First, I want to say that the growth rate in Alcor
at the time was the result of a tremendous amount of effort 
and energy on the part of a number of dedicated people, 
which began to dissipate after one of these people
--Jerry Leaf--died suddenly.

        Second, I want to say that, although there were
strong promotional efforts carried out during those years to
increase membership growth, the critical heart of Alcor's
program that, I believe, was most reponsible for its growth 
was the research program carried out by Jerry Leaf, Mike 
Darwin, Hugh Hixon and others, which led to advances in 
the methods by which we freeze our patients.

        This research effort was the core activity around
which everything else revolved.  It was the major source of
energy that lent vitality and excitment to all Alcor activities.
Anyone who doubts this should understand that if it hadn't
been for Alcor's research program, the "golden era of
cryonics" would undoubtedly have been known as the  
"dark ages of cryonics" and the movement would be 
even closer to extinction today.

        I say this because I know beyond a shadow of
a doubt that four of the key people in Alcor at that time 
would *not* have been activists if it hadn't been for the 
Alcor/Cryovita research program. 

        They are Jerry Leaf, who brought professional
research and cryonics services into the movement, who
played a major stabilizing political role in Alcor, who funded
virtually all of the initial research through his company
Cryovita Laboratories, and whose presence at Alcor
attracted a wide variety of competent people.

        Jerry's primary interest was research.  He
agreed to head Alcor's cryonic suspension team reluctantly,
and thought it unlikely that current methods of cryonics were
preserving enough of the brain to permit future reanimation.
His dream was to achieve suspended animation, and he 
would never have considered becoming involved in Alcor
without being involved in research.

        One of the people that Jerry attracted to Alcor was
Mike Darwin.  Mike was living and conducting research in
Indianapolis, Indiana when Jerry Leaf started Cryovita. It was
Jerry's experience in conducting research at UCLA Medical
Center, his desire to conduct research at Cryovita, and his
willingness to invest substantially in that research that caused
Mike to move to Southern California.  Shortly after Mike moved
to SoCal  he became President of Alcor and the "golden era
of cryonics" began.

        Another person who came to Alcor because of
Jerry was Brenda Peters.  Brenda interviewed Jerry about
his interest in suspended animation around the time that 
Jerry was beginning to get involved in Alcor. Brenda then 
became involved herself, eventually becoming a member 
of the Alcor Board of Directors. She participated in and played 
a significant role in Alcor's research, and played a major role in 
recruiting members to Alcor and in raising funds for research.

        The fourth person who played a signficant role in
Alcor's growth, but would not have done so if not for Alcor's
research program was me.  When I stopped being a cryonics
activist in 1971, a major reason for doing so was that, after
6 years of intensive efforts, the cryonics movement had failed
to fund or promote any signficant research.  I vowed never to
become an activist again unless the organization I was part of
had a significant commitment to research.  In the 1980s, I donated
significant funds to Alcor, wrote and developed promotional
brochures and other mailing pieces, organized and directed
conferences, and helped promote the research program.

        Without the active participation of Jerry Leaf, Mike
Darwin, Brenda Peters and myself, Alcor would have remained
a tiny backwater cryonics organization or would have disappeared
into the night.  Certainly,  Alcor  would *never* have made the research, =

legal, medical, public relations and administrative strides it made in 
the 80s and early 90s. In fact, I think it's highly unlikely that Ralph 
Merkle and hundreds of others would have joined Alcor if Jerry,
Mike, Brenda and myself had not become activists.

        Throughout most of the 33-year-old cryonics movement, 
I was almost as guilty as others in denying the truth about cryonics. 
I, too, put less money and time into research than I could have.  I, too,
pursued tactics aimed at cryonics growth rather than the improvement 
of cryopreservation methods. I, too, became involved in internal 
political conflicts within the movement.  I, too, castigated the cryo-
biologists for their attacks on cryonics.

        But, in comparison with most other cryonicists, I was 
enlightened.  Despite my myopia over certain issues, I have been 
investing money and promoting research since the 1960s.

        At the time of Jerry Leaf's death, he and Greg Fahy were
well into the planning stages of a brain cryopreservation research
project, which I had already raised some money for.  We had also
planned to continue the full-body washout hypothermia  research 
we had conducted for a number years, and had other research 
plans as well.

        When all this was derailed by Jerry's death and subsequent
events at Alcor, I made up my mind to work harder than ever to make
enough money to support a research program that would not be so
dependent on one person (such as Jerry Leaf).  For a number of 
years, I (and Bill Faloon) were not able to make enough money to 
achieve this goal because of a long-standing legal and political 
struggle with the FDA.

        Fortunately, Paul Wakfer, who had come to SoCal in large
part to help out with the research program, began to put in substantial 
amounts of his money, time and effort to help Mike Darwin put together
a research facility in Colton, California, which was the precursor to the
21st Century Medicine facility in Rancho Cucamonga, which Paul also
played a major role in creating.

        Finally, in February 1996, Bill and I were able to win our war 
with the FDA and, as a result, were soon able to increase our funding for
research dramatically.  Today, we are investing about $1 million dollars
a year in 21CM research, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars
more per year for anti-aging research, while Paul Wakfer continues to
raise money for brain cryopreservation research through the Institute
For Neural Cryobiology (INC), which has taken over what was formerly
known as The Prometheus Project.

        Over the last few years, I've come to the conclusion 
that major research advances leading to better and more credible 
cryonics services is the *only* hope we have of salvaging the failed 
cryonics movement and preventing its extinction. I think it would be
a huge mistake for us to keep on trying to sell an inferior product that 
almost nobody wants to buy.  That's what we've tried to do for the
past 33 years.  Our failure can be seen in a rapidly aging move-
ment whose principals are dying off without being replaced.

        I believe that the *only* way we can attract young
people to our movement is to provide them with irrefutable
evidence that we are improving cryonics methods and moving
towards suspended animation.  Research will not only attract
scientists who can contribute to it, but will also attract young 
people from all disciplines, who will see cryonics as a vital,
growing, dynamic movement that's going to change the world!

        Research is also the only means of improving the
credibility of the movement.  It will not be possible for us to win
over mainstream scientists, physicians, media leaders, 
politicians, attorneys, businessmen and professionals of 
all kinds in any way other than through research.        

        We now have an unprecedented opportunity to make 
major progress in cerebral resuscitation, organ cryopreservation, 
and human vitrification, which will lead to great improvements in 
cryonics services, greater credibility for cryonics, the ability to raise =

capital to develop even better services, major profits which can be 
reinvested into research,and the transformation of cryonics from a 
tiny, dying oddball movement into an integral part of mainstream 
21st century medicine

        What we need to acquire legitimacy for cryonics
from young and old alike, is hard, published evidence that
major organs such as the kidney and heart can be cryopre-
served effectively; that the information in the brain can be 
cryopreserved effectively; that apparently "dead" people 
can be restored to life, health and  vigor,  that we can convert 
laboratory breakthroughs into advanced human cryopreser- 
vation services, and that we can deliver these advanced 
services to consumers at affordable prices.
        Once we develop a product that people really
want, they'll be "breaking down our doors" to get it, and we'll 
have more growth than we can imagine..

        However, if we do *not* conduct the research to 
develop cryonics and gain credibility in mainstream science 
and medicine, the movement will grow weaker and weaker, 
and will likely, in my opinion, become extinct within the next 
20-to-30 years!

        The choice is ours!  Unless we invest our money 
and time in research, I believe we are doomed to oblivion...
both individually and collectively!

        Anyone who wishes to donate money to research
can do so through the non-profit Institute For Neural Cryobiology.  
INC is funding a hippocampal brain slice cryopreservation project 
at a mainstream medical center that is an important step towards 
suspended animation. You can find out more about this project on 
INC's web site: http://neurocryo.org. You can donate to the project 
at http://neurocryo.org/funding.html.

        21st Century Medicine (21CM) is a for-profit company
that occupies two buildings in Southern California.  One building is
devoted to cerebral resuscitation research, the other to cryopre-
servation research.  21CM has an ambitious research program
that features kidney, heart, brain and whole-body vitrification.
Later in the year, 21CM will be offering stock in the company 
to investors.  Anyone who wishes to be put on a waiting list to
receive a 21CM Prospectus should send their name, phone 
number and postal address to:  Joan O'Farrell, Chief Financial 
Officer, 21st Century Medicine, 10743 Civic Center Drive, Rancho 
Cucamonga, CA 91730; or call her at:  909-987-3883 or contact 
her via email at: 

        I've written this essay to provide evidence for my 
contention that--at this time in history--we should devote most of 
our attention, time and money to suspended animation research.  
I invite comment, criticism and discussion of the ideas in this piece. 

---Saul Kent, CEO
21st Century Medicine

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