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Waiting For A Cure
September 5, 2012 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Kim Suozzi, 23, turned to Reddit to seek advice on what to do in her final months of life after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The Society for Venturism set up a fund on her behalf so that she can be cryonically preserved.
posted by gman (80 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, whew... For a minute there I thought it said Society for Ventruism... Completely different kind of preservation, that.
posted by symbioid at 7:15 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


If it makes her happy to believe in a completely bullshit promise of resurrection, I'm glad people are helping her maintain her illusion.

Now you can laugh at the Christian who is saying this about cryonics. But seriously, fucking cryonics.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:17 PM on September 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


As much as I appreciate the Jetsons appeal of cryonic preservation, I'd never go for it myself. Not because it's an unproven technology that will probably never work; more for the off chance that it actually might work and I awake in some weird dystopian future where cryonically-preserved Mark Zuckerberg owns my soul.

Also, if you have kids, it's kind of a selfish use of your estate, unless you die rich or something.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:27 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


We believe that death is an imposition on life, and something that can and should be eliminated through technological means.

gross
posted by Greg Nog at 7:33 PM on September 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's revolting when the first responses are harebrained suggestions of either praying the cancer away at a monastery, using the magic power of your subconscious mind, or pushing some medical quackery.

I guess I'm intolerant, but what kind of pie in the sky thinking would make you believe that humanity would ever run out of better scientific goals to accomplish than unfreezing the dead? Besides, the last people you'd want to raise from the dead are the ones that believe in cryogenics.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:37 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


A dying woman turns to a internet forum composed mostly of poorly informed but highly opinionated 18-24 year old procrastinators, now seeks to preserve herself with crazy, unproven pseudoscience in the bleak hope of a better future instead of living life now to its fullest.

And here I am, thinking that I could make a living writing bad science fiction when it's already writing itself.
posted by dubusadus at 7:38 PM on September 5, 2012 [27 favorites]


Society for Venturism

Did Rusty start his own charity?
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:39 PM on September 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm an atheist and I am with the Christian above on this one. Seriously, fucking cryonics?

My uncle died1 a week or so back and my cousins decided to put his ashes in a homemade viking boat, douse it with gasoline, and float it on fire down the Floyd river. My sister says, "They're joking, right?" I said, "How long have you been a part of this family? Of course that's what they are going to do."

A viking boat on fire, head in a freezer. I'm cool with it either way. The results will be the same.

1. Now ask me about my grandpa.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:41 PM on September 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


cjorgensen, what about your grandpa?
posted by Bwithh at 7:43 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


MegoSteve: I guess I'm intolerant, but what kind of pie in the sky thinking would make you believe that humanity would ever run out of better scientific goals to accomplish than unfreezing the dead? Besides, the last people you'd want to raise from the dead are the ones that believe in cryogenics.

Think of this; if current science could resurrect a person from the 1800s, would they do it? Of course they would! The archaeological value would be immense. It'd also be pretty lucrative; you could showcase them, put them on TV, have them write a book about their life, etc. So unless it cost a fortune, they'd at least raise a few people, and you might get charities to revive more.

As far as believing in cryogenics, it's still more plausible than any religious afterlife, since it doesn't require any violations of the laws of physics and all religious possibilities do.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:45 PM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


my cousins decided to put his ashes in a homemade viking boat, douse it with gasoline, and float it on fire down the Floyd river.

this is hella righteous FTR.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:45 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I when it's my time to die I will go to Antarctica with a note pinned to my pajamas saying "Wake me up when I can pilot a legion of sentient space squid von Neumann machines that play out simulations of all possible sentient lives to kill time during the eons between decisions as we slowly spread across the darkness of space."
posted by I Foody at 7:46 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


We believe that death is an imposition on life, and something that can and should be eliminated through technological means.

gross
posted by Greg Nog at 9:33 PM on September 5
Well, but how is it gross? I was dead, I had a bunch of heart attacks and died, and I've got to tell you that I'm quite glad that my cardiologist pretty much thinks that death is an imposition upon life, and something that can and should be eliminated through technological means. And any diabetic who's putting insulin into themselves the same, and anyone who has had cancer but through the amazing technological advances made by brilliant medical engineers get to live a full life, well, I'd guess they're sometimes happy about it, and on and on.

Do I think that people who are freezing themselves with the intention of being brought back at some later point in time are putting their hopes and faith in a technology that will not come to fruition? Yeah, I think that it's not going to happen. But fifteen years ago -- even ten years ago, really -- no one would have dreamed that people who've suffered what I suffered would not only come back but be able to walk and talk and pretty much have the same life I had before dying.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm real glad that I've got this bonus time and I understand anyone else reaching for it. And I like that the community there at Reddit reached toward her, gave her love, though I suspect that it's an awfully thin reed that's stretched toward her.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:49 PM on September 5, 2012 [34 favorites]


Oh, the reason that my brain didn't get totally trashed having been dead as long as I was with no oxygen to my brain is that they used cold blankets on me, lowered my core temperature WAY down and kept it low, only gradually raising it up, a technique and technology which really begs for an FPP here on MetaFilter.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:01 PM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


they used cold blankets on me, lowered my core temperature WAY down and kept it low, only gradually raising it up, a technique and technology which really begs for an FPP here on MetaFilter.

I'm REALLY not intending this to be snark, but wasn't that the technique used in Flatliners? I seem to recall people at the time saying "that would NEVER work", but I was pretty young and maybe they meant something different.
posted by revmitcz at 8:05 PM on September 5, 2012


MegoSteve,

There are a lot of comments, and different options for sorting them, including best.

The first comment I see is:
One of many offers to do Boston area stuff here. I'm a little older than you, but happy to help you and your boyfriend do some interesting things. Pm me if you have any interest in visiting the Cape. Family has a summer cottage, and it's yours to use for a night, weekend or week. Seriously.
posted by rcdc at 8:05 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm intolerant, but what kind of pie in the sky thinking would make you believe that humanity would ever run out of better scientific goals to accomplish than unfreezing the dead?

Why would it need to be a scientific goal? It shouldn't cost that much money to keep a freezer on. Just leave all your possessions to be administered by some estate legally required to keep you frozen, with a big chunk of cash invested and growing in some kind of fund with a bounty given to whomever unfreezes you. I'm not exactly sure what form it would take but some kind of clever legal framework should be plausible that would make it less likely you'd be screwed if they went bankrupt.

A few hundred thousand bucks should be worth quite a bit centuries from now if invested. Why wouldn't there be firms that go treasure-hunting and unfreezing old contracts and working to make the technology cheaper so they can reap rewards?

Probably slim chances that'd all work out the way you'd hope but I don't think it's more silly than leaving your money to some church or believing in an afterlife.
posted by floam at 8:15 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


wasn't that the technique used in Flatliners?
I don't know. But I do know that it's only been in the last ten years that it's been begun to be put into hospitals, and I'm awfully glad that Austin was an early adopter, and had the equipment in Brackenridge hospital when I showed up there long dead in a buddies pickup truck the morning of 07/08/2004, and used the equipment to good effect once they set my heart going.

I was comatose and can't tell you about it but my friends and family say I looked like shit, I was gray/green and pretty much cool to the touch. (Some of my friends will tell you I look like shit any-old-ways but don't pay them any mind, I sure try not to.)

This might be apocryphal but it seems I've read or heard somewhere that the idea came from docs noticing that people slide under the ice, been under way long enough to be dead, they get fished out and sometimes come back to life. In any case, ti's a cute story, and one I'll tell until I see my cardiologist next week and find out whether that's a fact or not.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:16 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


, it's a cute story,
posted by dancestoblue at 8:18 PM on September 5, 2012


I don't think I've ever seen an appeal for a sick person that I was less inclined to donate to. People who are frozen at death are never going to come back to life, and it's cruel and wasteful to make them think otherwise.
posted by Dasein at 8:20 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is she Canadian or American or ? It's not clear from the CBC link or the others
posted by Bwithh at 8:22 PM on September 5, 2012


Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers.
posted by floam at 8:23 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know. But I do know that it's only been in the last ten years that it's been begun to be put into hospitals...

That reminds me of this article from a couple of years ago where a toddler had been face down in a ditch for 25 minutes and with a stopped heart. Yet they managed to revive him by keeping his temperature low for 48 hours.
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:31 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really do hope Ms. Suozzi does a search on the interplanetary internet archive a few hundred years from now and has a good laugh at this thread, and any others like it. Hi Kim!
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 8:32 PM on September 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Mitrovarr: "As far as believing in cryogenics, it's still more plausible than any religious afterlife, since it doesn't require any violations of the laws of physics and all religious possibilities do."

Damning with faint praise, and all of that...
posted by Arandia at 8:35 PM on September 5, 2012


@dancestoblue

it's gross because people who die are weak and weakness is gross, because i hang out with creepy cryptofascists
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:41 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, there are a few possibilities here:

1. The Good Futurama outcome: they unfreeze you, stamp you with your career chip, and life goes on, much as before.

2. The Usual Futurama outcome: they stick your head in a jar and either (a) Bill Clinton: stick you on a shelf for curiosity-seekers, (b) Lucy Liu: exploit you because you're hot, or (c) Richard Nixon: make you President of Earth. Roll the dice, nerd, and hope for a nat-20.

3. The likely outcome: they crack your brain for interesting and useful information, much as we cut down trees to count their rings and drill cores into ancient ice. After awhile, you aren't a "survivor", you're an "artifact."
posted by SPrintF at 8:43 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you're dying of a brain tumor at 23 you'll pretty much take comfort in anything beyond just...dying. I don't pretend to know how that feels. I hope she finds comfort in any way possible.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:55 PM on September 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


Kickender.
posted by srboisvert at 9:09 PM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, there are a few possibilities here

I'd be OK with any of those outcomes.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:10 PM on September 5, 2012


Whether or not the current technology does irreparable damage to human tissue or not, I think this much is fairly certain:
a) one day, a human being which has been cryonically preserved will be brought back to life
b) on that day, anyone who pooh-poohed cryonics will look silly. and possibly also be dead
posted by crayz at 9:16 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or basically, cryonics is Pascal's wager without the magic man in the sky
posted by crayz at 9:18 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Think of this; if current science could resurrect a person from the 1800s, would they do it?

"Oh Hi Mr Jefferson. It's the year 2015! Yeah, crazy I know. no, no, we just had one question about this "right to bear arms" bit you wrote here... "

You know it would something be that stupid.
posted by fshgrl at 9:22 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This smells like a scam. It involves:

1) Reddit
2) Pictures of a REAL LIVE GIRL
3) Money

The crazy is strong with the cryonics crowd.
posted by benzenedream at 9:28 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think she oughta contact every single living hero she has, and let them know she's gonna die and wants to talk to them. And then write as many messages as possible complimenting friends and strangers on their awesomeness. See what happens.
posted by lauranesson at 10:18 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


A viking boat on fire, head in a freezer. I'm cool with it either way. The results will be the same.

Except that the freezer with the head in it needs to be running continuously without ever breaking down, at least until science comes up with a cure for postmortem decapitation. Somehow I don't think the upfront fee is gonna cover the costs for very long.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cryonics is Pascal's wager with human error and venality built in. The challenge isn't to keep preserved until science figures out how to reanimate corpsicles; the challenge right now is to keep preserved for a decade. See the coverage of Ted Williams's remains and what has happened to them.

It doesn't matter if someone becomes a real-life Herbert West in 2200 CE if your freezing unit breaks down after 20 years.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:16 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mocking cryonics people is great; everybody wins. I get to feel smarter, less credulous, and all around better than you as human being. But you get to wake up as an immortal in the nutty technofuture, and take your 10 pint post-hybernation piss on my weedy, forgotten grave: "WHO'S LAUGHING NOW, BITCH??"
posted by dgaicun at 1:00 AM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


... bullshit promise of resurrection, ... Now you can laugh at the Christian who is saying this about cryonics. But seriously, fucking cryonics.
Wait, what? You seriously think the concept of Christian life after death is more realistic then being cryonic frozen and resurrected?
I guess I'm intolerant, but what kind of pie in the sky thinking would make you believe that humanity would ever run out of better scientific goals to accomplish than unfreezing the dead? Besides, the last people you'd want to raise from the dead are the ones that believe in cryogenics.
Because there's, like, one single board of people who meets every year and decides what scientific goals "humanity" should work on? And if it's not "approved" it isn't done? Obviously you wouldn't approve of freezing people in the first place, yet it obviously still happens. The same subset of people who research how to freeze people would be the ones researching how to unfreeze them.

Also, effective cryonics would allow people to be frozen, stuck on spaceships, and sent to other planets, so the greater scientific possibilities are obvious (unless we figure out how to upload brains into robots or something). But basically either cryonics or brain upload is necessary if we are going to have 'human' exploration outside the solar system.

There are tons of scientists working on extending life right now. Because, you know, most people don't want to die.
Do I think that people who are freezing themselves with the intention of being brought back at some later point in time are putting their hopes and faith in a technology that will not come to fruition? Yeah, I think that it's not going to happen. But fifteen years ago -- even ten years ago, really -- no one would have dreamed that people who've suffered what I suffered would not only come back but be able to walk and talk and pretty much have the same life I had before dying.
Yeah... it's pretty amazing to see people upset at the idea of a twenty three year old not wanting to die because it conflicts with their organic hippy "natural" bullshit.

So this girl's time is "naturally" up. At 23. What a horrible person she is for wanting to try to use science to stay alive.
This might be apocryphal but it seems I've read or heard somewhere that the idea came from docs noticing that people slide under the ice, been under way long enough to be dead, they get fished out and sometimes come back to life. In any case, ti's a cute story, and one I'll tell until I see my cardiologist next week and find out whether that's a fact or not.
The reason this works is that what actually kills you when your brain is cut off from oxygen for too long isn't the lack of oxygen, but rather the quick return of oxygen. The brain cells go into a sort of metabolic 'overdrive' (if I'm remembering right) that creates a ton of free radicals that kills the cell, causing a ton of brain damage when the cells are revived.
But apparently, if it's cold enough the metabolism is slowed down enough that it just... doesn't happen.
I don't think I've ever seen an appeal for a sick person that I was less inclined to donate to. People who are frozen at death are never going to come back to life, and it's cruel and wasteful to make them think otherwise.
They might, they might not. If not, it's no more ridiculous then cremation being buried next to your loved ones or shot out of a cannon Hunter S. Thompson style. And 'cruel'? Billions of people, a majority of the world population think their minds are going to continue on after death through some kind of religion, because the alternative is so difficult for people to come to grips with.
Cryonics is Pascal's wager with human error and venality built in.
I don't think you actually understand the concept of Pascals wager.

I mean, First of all, "human error and venality" are built in any religion as well, since churches are run by people, holy books are written by people, and so on. Unless you think your own religion is totally perfect and without human flaw that's a pretty ridiculous claim.

Second of all, the point of Pascal's wager is that if there is even a slight possibility you can get eternal life by doing X without much of a sacrifice, and then you should do it, because the potential value, even when you factor in the very low probability, is enormous.

In this girl's case, she wouldn't get eternal life, but perhaps multiply her lifespan by 3,4 or even 5 times, if she can be defrosted and gets to live a normal life span. And it's not costing her anything other than spending a few hours on reddit.

The problem with the religious version of Pascal's wager is 1) there are lots of mutually exclusive religions out there, and no way to know which one is right and 2) it seems to assume that you can choose what to believe for reasons other than 'naturally' coming to a conclusion.
The challenge isn't to keep preserved until science figures out how to reanimate corpsicles; the challenge right now is to keep preserved for a decade.
Yeah, this is all part of the 'wager'. Even if only 10% of the people frozen were able to be successfully defrosted, or 1%, or 0.1% the ones who aren't wouldn't have actually lost anything. They wouldn't be any better off if they hadn't been.

That's like saying, because heart surgery doesn't always work, you shouldn't get it, and just die for sure instead.
Except that the freezer with the head in it needs to be running continuously without ever breaking down, at least until science comes up with a cure for postmortem decapitation. Somehow I don't think the upfront fee is gonna cover the costs for very long.
Again with this "cryonics isn't a 100% guarantee" stuff. It's obviously not a 100% guarantee, but so what? Because people should just accept their impending death at age 23 with some fucking grace and serenity instead of being so greedy and gross for wanting to stay alive? You'd rather she accept 100% certain death then make you vaguely uncomfortable over the internet?
posted by delmoi at 1:02 AM on September 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


I just wrote and then deleted a long thing, about believing in things, and about if that is good or bad, or helpful or not or whatever, but it turned out not to be very interesting.

This American life episode number 354 is however, a great story. Go listen to that.
posted by St. Sorryass at 1:13 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, it looks like this girl does think that there is a low probability of success, but doesn't see any downside:
“The only thing that I can think to make me feel a little more at ease with my death is to secure cryopreservation plans on the off-chance that they figure out how to revive people in the future. The way I see it, it’s a better bet than decomposing or getting cremated.”
So what is the problem, exactly? Do you really think it's somehow better for society or future generations or whatever that a 23 year old willingly accept death and decomposition rather thing trying something with a slight or even just hypothetical possibility of success?

Of course, if people were ever able to survive indefinitely, it would be a huge blow to religion's who's promise is an afterlife, and any other "spiritual" or "naturalistic" beliefs about how people should just accept their own death.

Obviously if people don't have to die, then many would chose not too. There wouldn't be any need for people to "accept" their deaths if it's optional. (Of course they would eventually die, but at any near point in the future)

And of course, if heaven is the big draw for a religion, then the people in it aren't people who are "accepting" their death, but rather denying it. But once death is no longer inevitable, people who can't mentally accept their death would no longer need that aspect of the religion. They could just stay alive instead.

So, my guess is that's why cryonics seems 'gross' to some people. They're unsettled by the idea of something that could upset their carefully justified beliefs about the world - either the idea of heaven or some kind of acceptance/being at peace with death.
posted by delmoi at 1:24 AM on September 6, 2012


Because people should just accept their impending death at age 23 with some fucking grace and serenity instead of being so greedy and gross for wanting to stay alive? You'd rather she accept 100% certain death then make you vaguely uncomfortable over the internet?

Unfortunately, I think trying to accept it with some grace and serenity is your best bet at any age. 100% certain death is the deal. For all of us. For real.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:35 AM on September 6, 2012


Many people on reddit believe they will be the first generation that, through whatever means, will be able to live forever. So, to them, a 23 year old dying is extra sad because she just barely missed the cutoff.

Part of this comes from NDT and his beliefs, part of this comes from a belief that medical research is like a snowball rolling down a hill.

I fully expect to be able to live forever if I can hold out maybe 40 more years.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:45 AM on September 6, 2012


Brain is nagging that there were several on-point science fiction stories looking at possible outcomes re cryonics... One had the frozen protagonist being revived and having to be disabused of his notion that he was supremely rich thanks to investing $100 in an interest-bearing account 1,000 years ago. Too many people had opted for cryogenics and tied up too many assets, crippling the economy. So laws had been created to have all funds held by the cryonically frozen diverted to the government. Protagonist is informed he is now a servant of the state.

Another had the frozen folks being defrosted for spare parts. Another for information. Another for food. Brain is refusing to cough up titles, though. Is demanding caffeine.

For me, I'd feel so completely isolated and lonely and alone. Think of nobody knowing about anyone or anything or anyplace you know. And societal rules having changed out of all recognition, for good or ill. I'm too attached/entrenched in my timeline. I love too many people here with me now. Naw. I'll release all molecules. But I'm not 23.
posted by likeso at 4:04 AM on September 6, 2012


I wonder how much support & media attention she would have gotten if she wasn't a cute white girl. I also wonder how many (downvoted) comments were for her to do a porn shoot or something equally asinine.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:14 AM on September 6, 2012


5000 years from now cryonics will look as high-tech and useful as Egyptian mummification.
posted by Tom-B at 4:35 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, whew... For a minute there I thought it said Society for Ventruism... Completely different kind of preservation, that.

I thought it said Kurt Suzuki, I was confused and a little angry that the Nationals would trade for a catcher with a brain tumor.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:41 AM on September 6, 2012


Because people should just accept their impending death at age 23 with some fucking grace and serenity instead of being so greedy and gross for wanting to stay alive? You'd rather she accept 100% certain death then make you vaguely uncomfortable over the internet?

No, I'd rather she enjoy her remaining time on this earth rather than spending her last months scrambling to scrape together $30,000+ to give to a huckster selling her the false promise she may one day be alive again.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:13 AM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


To answer the question of why I think that whole site's mission is gross: I think the cycle of death and rebirth is one of the few naturally-occurring checks on some of humanity's worst impulses: the tendency to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few, the tendency to value the self above the web of life, and the tendency to hold on to bad ideas because it's psychologically painful to allow ourselves to undergo change in our moral and intellectual outlooks.

Humanity attempting to make death wholly optional seems to be largely a desire born out of fear of nonexistence, not out of a desire to make one more conscientiousness. It strikes me as selfish, childlike grasping, like a toddler shrieking that it doesn't want to go to bed.

I guess I could see myself changing my mind if I was given reasons for eternal life by sages, but it seems like the biggest proponents of this posthumanism are young men who are full of arrogant self-importance. And as a young man full of arrogant self-importance, I'm not sure the planet is better off having more of my kind around forever.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:23 AM on September 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Greg Nog We believe that death is an imposition on life, and something that can and should be eliminated through technological means.

gross

How? On what planet is this "gross"? I will never understand this "obligation to die" crowd.

Now you can laugh at the Christian who is saying this about cryonics.

Didn't need the invitation. Technology can be improved; scripture can't.
posted by spaltavian at 6:49 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh man

ultimate rage:

what if we did the cryonics...

in space
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:53 AM on September 6, 2012


On what planet is this "gross"?

Earth!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:07 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Makes me want to send her a copy of Transmetropolitan
posted by DigDoug at 7:15 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


is it bad i mainly associate the whole "death-positive" crowd with the kind of people who read and write "jitterbug perfume"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:20 AM on September 6, 2012


like a toddler shrieking that it doesn't want to go to bed

It?

It?

Bit embarrassing, no?
posted by Wolof at 7:21 AM on September 6, 2012


How? On what planet is this "gross"? I will never understand this "obligation to die" crowd.

Okay, so everyone's immortal and people continue to be born. Great idea! There's no way that could possibly be the stupidest thing humankind has ever achieved, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:29 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think there is a lot of missing the point of Pascal's Wager going on here. Yes, there is a lot to gain in Heaven. The stakes you put up, though, are 1) Belief, which costs nothing and 2) Being a good and righteous person, which you should do anyway. The point is that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain and that society gains as well. One might argue the finer points of what makes a person a good person and that some religions ask for more self-flagellation than others...

If cryonics worked (big if), I think Greg Nog is right that we're not ready for it as a society and that a lot of the most awful feedback loops would be perpetuated. I also kind of think that if it worked, a lot fewer people would find it distasteful.

I also believe that we have every responsibility and every means to someday solve the problems of wealth, concentrated power, poverty and scarcity. Not with technological progress, but with social progress (sometimes aided by playing field levelling technologies like the Internet.) A future without poverty is a future worth waking up for.

I think transhumanists of the forever-life or singularity sort don't always factor in that if we're going to be successful at implementing technology, we need to first clean up our own house and solve the social problems of our age as well. Find a cure for despotism, artificial scarcity and greed and implementing extended lifespans gets a lot more palatable. Death is the ultimate poverty and while extended life may prove possible, entropy always bats last.

There's of course the problem that we live on a finite planet with dwindling resources, denial about the need to taper our consumption and refridgeration costs energy.

Sometimes I kind of wonder if Bill Gates has a secret cryonics plan, but he knows that the only way future generations will even be bothered to defrost him is if he creates a savior legacy for himself.
posted by Skwirl at 7:37 AM on September 6, 2012


Bit embarrassing, no?

How so?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:12 AM on September 6, 2012


Incidentally, tocaty, I have no idea what this means:

it's gross because people who die are weak and weakness is gross, because i hang out with creepy cryptofascists

Was this a sincere statement, or you speaking ironically? If the latter, were you trying to satirize something? I've having trouble understanding what you're attempting to say.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:18 AM on September 6, 2012


Death is garbage. We've devoted a significant amount of our time and resources as a species to delaying it, and good on us for that. We don't have the technology to beat the old fucker yet, but I can't blame anyone in any time period for doing anything that looks like it might possibly (based on the knowledge available in that time period) have an outside chance of working. Incantations, mummification, cryopreservation...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:33 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was going to go digging for the TAL episode St. Sorryass linked to. Anytime I think about cryonics all I can imagine is a freezer that's been unplugged and organic matter dripping out of it.

I'll take cremation thank you.
posted by photoslob at 8:49 AM on September 6, 2012


It strikes me as selfish, childlike grasping, like a toddler shrieking that it doesn't want to go to bed... I'm not sure the planet is better off having more of my kind around forever.

Are you sure the planet is better off having our kind around right now? If a continuation of life is selfish, we should all "go to bed" as soon as possible, preferably in the next five minutes.
posted by the jam at 9:31 AM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Given the state of the art in cryonics, you might as well preserve your brain in formaldehyde. The Pascal's wager of magic nanobots being able to extract information from a crosslinked brain is about as likely as being able to extract information from a frozen brain. At least you won't be dependent on somebody filling up a N2 tank for 200 years [see: TAL episode linked above], and your kids will have a good conversation piece for the coffee table.
posted by benzenedream at 10:46 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


This seems as good a thread as any to give a shout out to Atul Gawande's Letting Go.
posted by impishoptimist at 11:51 AM on September 6, 2012


i mean it's really really fucking hard to deny that in some of this rhetoric against these hypothetical sickly old lich-plutocrats who would ordinarily (as is the natural order) be supplanted by "us" strong, vital youth there is a definite mileu of the strong and good rising up to crush the weak and evil.

except that real plutocrats don't do this shit, because they think it's stupid. instead, they have kids and teach them to be like they are and will them their property, and this works, sometimes for hundreds of years at a go!

so who actually does this? well, optimistic nerds, mainly, which kind of gives the lie to the idea that this is about concerns relating at all to power consolidation or anything like that. i mean, are you honestly worried that ray fucking kurzweil is going to accumulate a tremendous, oppressive amount of influence if he doesn't die? really?

but this isn't even about that, because we're not talking about a person who wants to live forever and become god, we're talking about something that is intended (the odds that it will work are extremely low) to pause life until this 23-year-old person can have the thing that's keeping her from living out the remainder of her natural lifespan removed, being told to "just let go" by people who, to put it charitably, are older and do not share her experiences.

moreover, i'm more than a little bit suspicious of all this talk of "letting go" in a country with a growing aged population where nobody wants to pay for healthcare.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:02 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


i mean it's really really fucking hard to deny that in some of this rhetoric against these hypothetical sickly old lich-plutocrats who would ordinarily (as is the natural order) be supplanted by "us" strong, vital youth there is a definite mileu of the strong and good rising up to crush the weak and evil.

No, it's pretty easy to deny that. You're reading in a kind of insane ideology here, especially given that at no point have I characterized the physical health of the different hypothetical people in this age-schema.

we're not talking about a person who wants to live forever and become god, we're talking about something that is intended (the odds that it will work are extremely low) to pause life until this 23-year-old person can have the thing that's keeping her from living out the remainder of her natural lifespan removed, being told to "just let go" by people who, to put it charitably, are older and do not share her experiences.

No, I was talking about the former, as outlined on the Venturism page (though I also wouldn't characterize it as living forever and becoming god; merely as refiguring death as interruptive of life rather than a desirable component of it).

so who actually does this? well, optimistic nerds, mainly, which kind of gives the lie to the idea that this is about concerns relating at all to power consolidation or anything like that. i mean, are you honestly worried that ray fucking kurzweil is going to accumulate a tremendous, oppressive amount of influence if he doesn't die? really?

Yes; the consolidation of power happens again and again in human history without people actively intending it. That the US has most of the world's wealth doesn't mean that any of its citizens actively sought out the domination of a global underclass; they merely accepted the Normal they were born into, and their wealth just kinda happened.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2012


We've developed this morality that death is good specifically because death is so difficult to accept. But when plausible technologies exist to extend life, those ideas will become as incomprehensible to future generations as the way we view the Victorians' insistence that anesthesia during surgery was immoral.
posted by the jam at 12:45 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


@greg nog

Don't feel accused, but there is a definite kind of edge to this stuff that I see in the sketchier corners of the internet, the usual haggard nerd-hate-self-hate ressentiment backwash infused lately with this "The War Against Youth"-style intergenerational warring. It's not pleasant to look at! The former is grotesque and shameful (and most definitely has a strong-destroying-weak dynamic) and the latter is loathsome. I'm not trying to tell you your own intent, but.

For someone to make this their beachhead in the war against consolidation of power is kind of strange because power doesn't need this to consolidate. It's probably actually better for "whoever" to continuously replace their core with young, fresh brains than maintain a gerontocratic stable of leaders. I mean, aside from like the Soviet Union during the 70s-80s, where this would have helped.

Also, when I see people arguing against consolidation and growth of power, I'm kind of suspicious because how, without that, are the laws and norms that they desire going to be enforced? The problem is never "power" itself, it's always "power in the hands of people who aren't like me". People like that fucking dork Kurzweil, you know?

Also, how this comes up right when we've got a lot of old people and no money available to take care of them is fucking sinister.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:38 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just gonna leave this here.
posted by Floydd at 6:07 PM on September 6, 2012


I wonder how much support & media attention she would have gotten if she wasn't a cute white girl.

Remind me not to invite you to my next dinner party.
posted by amorphatist at 10:20 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again with this "cryonics isn't a 100% guarantee" stuff. It's obviously not a 100% guarantee, but so what? Because people should just accept their impending death at age 23 with some fucking grace and serenity instead of being so greedy and gross for wanting to stay alive? You'd rather she accept 100% certain death then make you vaguely uncomfortable over the internet?

It's not a 1% guarantee. Cryonics is a scam, period. It is a baldfaced lie sold at exorbitant prices to the desperate and hopeless.

I'd rather she (and, by extension, people on the internet) wasn't bilked out of thousands of dollars. My comfort has nothing to do with it.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:51 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq How? On what planet is this "gross"? I will never understand this "obligation to die" crowd.

Okay, so everyone's immortal and people continue to be born. Great idea! There's no way that could possibly be the stupidest thing humankind has ever achieved, right?


You're right! Surely the species that conquers death will be able to solve any other problem!

Greg Nog:To answer the question of why I think that whole site's mission is gross: I think the cycle of death and rebirth is one of the few naturally-occurring checks on some of humanity's worst impulses: the tendency to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few, the tendency to value the self above the web of life, and the tendency to hold on to bad ideas because it's psychologically painful to allow ourselves to undergo change in our moral and intellectual outlooks.

While I'm glad you want me and my family to die in the service of your nonsense philosophical abstractions, please take this chance to prove your dedication: You first.
posted by spaltavian at 10:26 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


That may happen! I'm not sure how old/ill/risk-taking you and your family are; I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:31 PM on September 7, 2012


Sys Rq made the only point that really needs making on the anti-cryo side: cryonics does not now have the technology to preserve a body (or even a brain) to a sufficient degree that there is any chance of successfully reviving or reconstructing the person. With more research, this might be possible, and then the only things that someone has to worry about are disruptions to the technological and/or financial infrastructures that keep the freezers cold, or social/political changes that hold cryonics to be utterly wrong, or invading aliens that want a snack, or whatever. That doesn't exist yet, and the difference between what happened to dancestoblue and what happens to someone who's cryonically "preserved" is the difference between the power going off in a house and needing to be careful about turning it back on because there's a gas leak or something, and the house burning to the ground. The young woman thinking that "it's a better shot at living again than if I were decomposing somewhere or cooked into ash" is sadly, tragically wrong.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:30 PM on September 8, 2012


Unfortunately, I think trying to accept it with some grace and serenity is your best bet at any age. 100% certain death is the deal. For all of us. For real.
In which case, it makes zero fucking difference what you do. There isn't any value in being serine as opposed to hoping that you can be defrosted in the future. It makes absolutely no difference. So criticsing a 23 year old cancer stricken girl who doesn't want to die over something that is completely meaningless because it makes you, personally feel kind uncomfortable with her choices is fucked up.
No, I'd rather she enjoy her remaining time on this earth rather than spending her last months scrambling to scrape together $30,000+ to give to a huckster selling her the false promise she may one day be alive again.
And who the fuck are you who gets to decide what she does with her, very short, remaining life?
1) Belief, which costs nothing
Oh, so it doesn't cost anything to give up on empirical reality and just believe anything you want?
No, it's pretty easy to deny that. You're reading in a kind of insane ideology here, especially given that at no point have I characterized the physical health of the different hypothetical people in this age-schema.
This person is 23 years old. This isn't a question of some old person wanting to live forever, but rather a young person possibly wanting to have at least the same amount of life you've probably already wasted.
posted by delmoi at 5:57 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


And who the fuck are you who gets to decide what she does with her, very short, remaining life?

You do understand we aren't actually deciding her fate here, right?

(Reddit, on the other hand...)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:07 PM on September 8, 2012


Does anyone have any more information on the whole cryogirl mess?

While I'm glad you want me and my family to die in the service of your nonsense philosophical abstractions, please take this chance to prove your dedication: You first.

I think this is properly addressed to cryonics practitioners. Until a real human has been frozen and revived after several months, this is science fiction. Once a cryonics leader actually goes in and out of the N2, I'll be a believer.
posted by benzenedream at 9:02 PM on September 8, 2012


By the way. If there was some christian girl who was dying of cancer talking about how she was going to see her family, etc after she died. I wouldn't sit there and lecture her about how heaven isn't real and she's just deluding herself and so on. I would just humor her and make her happy (I wouldn't lie and say that I was praying for her, but I'd tell her I'd ask any religious friends I have to do so)

If she wanted to undergo some kind of religious ritual I wouldn't try to stop her.

You know why? because it doesn't fucking matter what she thinks, whether or not she's happy or whatever - because once you die all of that goes away. So, if you believe cryonics is some snake-oil that doesn't accomplish anything, there isn't really any reason to lecture people about not doing it. Yeah, $30k is expensive, but if she's raising money from people who feel the same way she does what difference does it make? Undoubtedly, it's far less then the money she would have already spent on medical care.

And I'm guessing some of you drive cars more expensive then that, Lots of people buy more expensive monuments to their dead relatives. It's no different then any other consumer spending - all of that money could be spent "better" by donating to starving orphans. (and furthermore it helps create jobs, etc. It's not like buying an expensive painting by 19th century painter or something else useless people spend money on)
You do understand we aren't actually deciding her fate here, right?
Sure, you're not. But it does seem like some of the people here would if they could. And furthermore the whole idea of casting judgement on a 23 year old girl dying of cancer because her choice of what to do with her dead body I find rather gross.

If cryonics is bullshit, so what? In that case, it makes zero difference once she's dead.

Just because you think she's just be happier if she gave up wanting to live and just thought about death the way you do is bullshit too. None of you are actually faced with what she faces, you probably expect to live long lives an die after you're senile and miserable and done everything you were going to do anyway - this girl should have a whole 50-70 more years, many of which would still be very youthful and fun.

It's also ridiculous to think that someone faced with that situation could really just "be happy" and "have fun" by doing what? hanging out with her family members who are all probably already grieving her loss?

This girls is dying, and you're all sitting here judging her for not dying the way you want her to die, for doing something that makes you somewhat uncomfortable. I think it's a bunch of self-indulgent, self-righteous b.s from people who aren't experiencing anything like what she's going through.

Finally: a bunch of people have said cryonics is scientifically impossible, I'm sure it's impossible with today's technology, but no one really knows what kind of advances we're going to see in the future.
posted by delmoi at 11:04 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is properly addressed to cryonics practitioners. Until a real human has been frozen and revived after several months, this is science fiction. Once a cryonics leader actually goes in and out of the N2, I'll be a believer.
I'm sure lots of cryonics leaders have had themselves frozen. Anyway, being able to freeze and defrost a chimp or gorilla successfully will probably the first kind of test.

In any event, there isn't any harm in trying it. There seem to be a lot of people who can't stand the idea that someone else could feel differently or not want to accept death the way they do. But ultimately, it makes zero difference if it doesn't actually work.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


This girls is dying, and you're all sitting here judging her for not dying the way you want her to die, for doing something that makes you somewhat uncomfortable.

It's also ridiculous to think that someone faced with that situation could really just "be happy" and "have fun" by doing what?


Are you reading a different thread than I am?

Who are you talking about? Who are you quoting? Who is judging her? I'm seeing plenty of criticism of cryonics, but I can't see any personal attacks no matter how hard I squint.

If you're just going to make shit up to argue against, well, let me join in: I disagree with all the covert transhumanist cryonics cultist vampires in this thread, because it's obvious they just want our freeze-dried flesh for their icicle orgies.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:03 PM on September 9, 2012


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