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This is an archive page, last updated 3 May 2016. Please do not make edits to this page.
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Problems to solve[edit]

The last I read on this there were two major problems. The first being the actual freezing of cells resulting in mush on thawing and a somewhat philosophical question on what happens to the personality (for lack of a better term) when the electrical activity of the brain stops. Is it like a computer put on hibernate, and then restarted, or does the loss of electrical activity alter something profound.? Hamster (talk) 19:40, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

People come out of comas (electrical activity of the brain is minimal to undetectable) with their intelligence, memories and personality intact. Best current thinking, as I understand it, is that the information is preserved in the dendrites, i.e. the linkages in the organic neural network. Which are cracked to hell and back by acoustic shattering in the freezing process. Whoops! - David Gerard (talk) 20:00, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I think you'd be very hard pushed to restart a brain. If you can't do it on someone who's just freshly died, then I doubt you'll do it on someone who's gone throughout the whole freeze/thaw thing. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:11, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Hence listing the step where you have to bring the dead back to life once you've repaired the brain and body - David Gerard (talk) 21:04, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
If there was a soul (just suppose) and it went away somewhere (bored sitting in a freezer with its head) then you have to somehow get it back, and make sure some other soul didnt take up residence, or worse a evilness from some spirit world. Thats not a good business plan Hamster (talk) 21:36, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Don't worry! Alcor reassures Christians that the soul is just sitting there in the head, waiting for revival by as yet unknown medical procedure! This is on the same page where they claim their work is scientific, and compare it as a procedure to heart surgery (see ref in article) - David Gerard (talk) 00:53, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Oh come on. What are they supposed to say to Christians? They're all atheists, but I can see why they thought that "don't talk to us about your ridiculous superstitions" wasn't a great response, so they tried to take their beliefs seriously, with predictably silly consequences. Ciphergoth (talk) 12:43, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
This is the talk page, not the article, which is why it's not there. The assertions that it's scientifically based, rather than science fiction based, and that it's comparable to heart surgery, OTOH, are serious concerns - David Gerard (talk) 16:06, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Bringing the dead back to life is the expected result of repairing the brain and replacing the body. There's no reason to consider it an additional step. Luke 03:17, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Not really. The steps up to there produce a corpse in perfect condition. Restarting it is a separate task. Consider the alive versus the freshly-dead - David Gerard (talk) 11:17, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
The distinction, sans damage, is not obvious to me. Unless you are postulating some kind of soul. Luke 20:29, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
OK, I'll try to explain it. We take the frozen body, and go through our process of thawing and nanobotting (we assume this is is all worked out). The first groups of nanobots detox and repair any damage due to the freezing. The second group repair or heal whatever killed the person. Now we have one little last step, which is to re-animate them. Perhaps a defibrillator or artificial stimulation/support will get the heart pumping. A respirator will move oxygen into the lungs. Will the presence of oxygen bearing blood "cause" the liver to start doing its thing again (etc. for other organs)? Will we invent the equivalent of a brain defibrillator? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:11, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I've just added your text to the article :-) - David Gerard (talk) 21:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Whew, I thought I was suffering from some weird form of deja vu when I encountered such familiar wording! But, yeah, it seems to me that the "restart button" might be the toughest problem to solve. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:39, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
No, a brain defibrillator shouldn't be necessary. Not if all the damage is repaired. At least, I haven't heard any actual science to back the claim that it would be. Hypothermic patients seem to have their brains entirely stopped, but it comes back to life when they are reanimated (i.e. slowly warmed back up). I don't see a reason to think cryonics patients who have been adequately repaired would be any different. Luke 03:46, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand why ouroboros claims that 99% is not enough of a cellular survival rate to preserve identity. From the context he seems to be focusing on suspended animation with full-scale organic viability, which is a different topic entirely from cryonics (preventing death by information-theoretic criteria). This confusion makes the article completely worthless as a critique of cryonics. Luke 05:32, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
You don't personally understand, therefore the article is completely worthless? - David Gerard (talk) 11:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Lemme rephrase. If he is as confused regarding the distinction as he seems (to me) to be, the objections he raises are not particularly good criticisms. A stroke victim surely loses more than 1% of their brain cells, don't they? Luke 20:29, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Hmm ... I'm not sure I actually understand in sufficient depth what he's getting at there either. (I'm making the assumption he's not in fact an idiot.) If anyone else does, can they rephrase it more clearly? - David Gerard (talk) 22:10, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
In the statement that "ouroboros" made in "Problems to Solve" he mentioned that for cryonics to work there is the requirement: "Preserve cells at ~100% viability.99% just ain’t gonna cut it, especially in tissues like the heart and brain, and we’re barely there even in ideal situations like loose cells in rich media loaded with antifreeze compounds." He does not say why 99% is not good enough. Many people suffer strokes and lose brain cells while remaining reasonably functional. They can actually recover functionality and memories after a while, which suggests that there is redundancy in brain. From another point of view, a cell that has been slightly damaged by hypoxia or something such that it is 99% viable should be able to recover 100% viability. "ouroboros" asked me to reply to his objections, which I did, and then he did not respond to my reply. If he has not or will not attempt to clarify or justify his objections any further, they should not be given too much weight, even if you respect his "authority". --BenBest (talk) 21:53, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but stroke patients often have large chunks of their memory go out the window and their personalities change quite a bit. That they survive the experience is hardly an argument that you don't pretty much need all of it to do the job properly - David Gerard (talk) 14:00, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
This sounds like a dismissal of surgical procedures that save the lives of stroke victims. You imply that they do not do the job "properly". (talk) 23:46, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Timothy Leary[edit]

Timothy Leary famously declined to be frozen because the cryonicists were so weird and actually chose to be cremated instead. I was disappointed when I heard this - it was only when researching this article that I realised what a pile of woo the present cryonics industry actually is. So we need more (a) Tim Leary (b) publicity for cryonics presently being woo - David Gerard (talk) 01:09, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

(a) is done - David Gerard (talk) 16:08, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Pascal's Wager[edit]

Google "pascal's wager cryonics" and you'll get lots of meat - David Gerard (talk) 01:13, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Hey Walt Disney was resurrected on some TV show I watch, a robotty thing with some "Fry" guy from our time... ħumanUser talk:Human 02:24, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Hardly any celebrities are signed up to be cryopreserved. I consider this one of the great points in its favor. Luke 03:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm highly tempted to add that to the article ;-) - David Gerard (talk) 17:52, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Be my guest :) Luke 04:02, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Here's a good link to refer to. Other than Ted and his son, Dick Clair seems to be the only mainstream celeb currently on ice. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Cryonically_preserved_people Luke 04:02, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Best's paper[edit]

Ben Best's paper listing scientific justifications for cryonics appears to badly misrepresent its references. Two out of two I've looked at so far, particularly the frozen hippocampus one (which would have been spectacular news if the paper had asserted anything like what he claims it does). This paper could do with having all its references checked and the results listed. It's the closest the cryonics industry comes to scientifically justifying any of what it does that Paul Crowley or I have found. With that, this article could be the best refutation of cryonics available anywhere - David Gerard (talk) 16:08, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

What does Best claim, and what does the paper state, according to your understanding? My understanding of the paper is that they observed near 100% cellular viability after vitrification compared to a control sample, as measured by sodium/potassium ion levels. In other words, they tested toxicity and found it to be negligible, due to the fact that they could perfuse and cool the thin slices relatively quickly. Of course, slices are one thing -- entire brains are another. I don't think anyone is claiming that we've arrived at damage-free brain preservation yet, merely that it is pointed to as a realistic possibility. Luke 05:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
He says they are viable, implying they would work again. The paper says the cells merely didn't look trashed in the frozen sample. Those are really rather different and the difference is important. He lets wishful thinking affect his reading and needs to go through his support more harshly. This is the sort of misreading that, if done by a scientist, would have other scientists in the field considering them a fool - David Gerard (talk) 11:09, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
In "Scientific Justification of Cryonics Practice" I did not use the term "100% viable", although an examination of Table 1 of "Cryopreservation of rat hippocampal slices by vitrification" shows that the viability of vitrified hippocamal slices was close to 100% within experimental error. The average for the seven listed experiments was just under 100%. The K+/Na+ assay of viability is a very reliable one. If cells cannot pump ions they are not viable. If there is active oxidative phosphorylation with production of ATP, that means that cells are viable. The cells not only can work again, they are working again. The statement that I made in my paper was fully supported by the hippocampal vitrification paper that I cited. --BenBest (talk) 22:12, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Wow, how many places did you repeat this before you withdrew it? I've now found and commented on two - if there are others, could you sort it out? Thanks! Ciphergoth (talk) 12:29, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
No, I withdrew the assertion that he'd said it could be put back working. Not that he took "well it didn't look trashed" and represented this as "it's definitely viable, ho yus," which he did - David Gerard (talk) 16:07, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Neither of us have the expertise to know whether you are hair-splitting over the word "viability" here. If you can get an expert to back you up on this, now, that would be interesting. Ciphergoth (talk) 17:08, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
That said, it's clear we're going to have to track down reasonably high-powered specialists in the field to review how accurate his citations are. But there's lots of RWers who know people who know such people - David Gerard (talk) 11:15, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
BTW I'm the Paul Crowley of whom he speaks, and the reference is my series of article on cryonics on my blog. Start here: An open letter to scientific critics of cryonics. Ciphergoth (talk) 19:36, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Pharoah "joke"[edit]

It's in two places. And the P is capped in one and not the other. Better for the lead or the sub-section? ħumanUser talk:Human 18:43, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Put it in the sub-section, and nix the caps. Lord of the Goons The official spikey-haired skeptical punk 18:47, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Done. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:29, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Science or pseudoscience?[edit]

I see this is categorized as a "science." However, shouldn't we classify it as pseudoscience, since it is basing chances of re-animation on technology that does not/may never exist? Alternatively, I think, if not a pseudoscience, that it at least qualifies it as some sort of woo. The Spikey Punk I'm punking my punk! 18:50, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

I think it should be in both cats (S and pS). Remember, cats are how to find similar topics, not "labels" of what something is. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:27, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Sounds good. I'll add pseudoscience, pending objections. Lord of the Goons The official spikey-haired skeptical punk 19:28, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Yuh. It doesn't really meet the definition of woo. However, (a) it verges heavily toward the pseudoscientific (with lots of "then a miracle occurs" (b) the proponents behave like pseudoscientists when called on their science the way scientists call each other on dubious science, which is a strong indicator of their grasp on rationality - David Gerard (talk) 22:37, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Agreed, it is a pseudoscience, but does not really meet the bar with woo. Gooniepunk2010 Oi! Oi! Oi! 06:59, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Can you be more specific about this? Luke 04:39, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
They're very sincere engineers and science fiction fans who will talk your ear off with what they really believe the explanation is. They are very open with what they do and how. So it doesn't seem to be "woo" per se. That their scientific backing is severely lacking and that they appear logically differently-abled on key points is what makes it pseudoscience at the extremes. I stress "at the extremes" - the guys who wrote the hippocampus paper are both cryonics fans but are competent cryobiologists, doing the brick-by-brick work to make their dream come true. And, of course, first building a castle in the air and then constructing the foundations underneath is an entirely respectable engineering methodology. But cryonicists talk like the foundation is solid when it doesn't even have a blueprint, just a vague roadmap document - David Gerard (talk) 10:41, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Best calls it a protoscience. It doesn't break any physical law. Speculation is a pretty good term for it. It isn't like FTL or time travel, more like life on other planets. Intuitively those might sound similar, but there is a very big difference in that the latter does not require rewriting known physics. Luke 04:19, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm thinking in particular of Mike Darwin of Alcor, who sues scientists for questioning his work. Bringing that sort of litigation is a BIG RED FLASHING PSEUDOSCIENCE alert. Ben Best's distortions of the referenced papers augur quite badly also, as do his repeated assertions that the CSICOP skeptics questioning his unsupported probabilities and pointing out that the revival rate is 0% for the foreseeable future is equivalent to comparing him to a rapist or child molestor. And that he proudly put this on his site as if it makes him look sensible and reasonable!
Behaving like a logically-broken pseudoscientist is not scientific evidence that your science is actually pseudoscience. It is, however, rational evidence that your logic may be dysfunctional and that your statements and chains of logic needs much closer inspection that those of someone who doesn't behave like a pseudoscientist.
Note, as I said, that before reading about cryonics on ciphergoth's blog, I was neutral-to-positive on the subject; it's actually researching it that has led me to think it's (presently) utter bollocks - David Gerard (talk) 11:03, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually he threatens to sue scientists who say that he is engaged in fraud. I'm not aware of any threats against scientists who have not used the word "fraud"; I haven't found anything like the BCA/Singh case where they pretend that what is scientific criticism is an accusation of fraud when it isn't. I think that most business would threaten to sue someone who accused them of defrauding their customers. Ciphergoth (talk) 12:35, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
It may not be a pseudoscience as such, it's very much hypothetically possible, it's just so far out of our current technology it's not worth taking seriously at the moment. However, what is questionable is when people misrepresent the odds of it working. I can imagine that none of the people currently frozen will ever be revived, these places will go out of business and the bodies will thaw and rot before the revival tech is around. People frozen in 100 years time might just about be around long enough to see the revival technology develop. Of course, that's just my BS guesstimates so don't take it as gospel, but I think that any misrepresentation (which I think is just shy of outright fraud) of the technology is worth focusing on. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 16:12, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I wonder if the term "pseudotechnology" is useful here - David Gerard (talk) 17:54, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
You can question social stability as a factor, but that's a separate topic from the technology. The technology is uncertain for two reasons: 1) we don't know exactly how much damage is irreversible (in principle), i.e. a fact about the universe, 2) we don't know how far technology will advance in the long run, a fact about ourselves. So guestimates are pretty much all we have to go on pro or con until we can better measure those two little details. Luke 04:19, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Ben Goldacre didn't use the word "fraud" about Matthias Rath, but he did accuse him of causing the deaths of thousands. Rath sued. And lost eventually backed down - David Gerard (talk) 16:11, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I ask again - do you really think that a legitimate business, about to be accused of actual fraud by a major professional body, would not threaten to sue? Ciphergoth (talk) 17:07, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Quite possibly. As do fraudulent businesses. As I noted, it's an indicator, not a dead-cert. Just a very strong indicator. Are there other cases of a (let's assume) legitimate business being called fraudulent by a major professional body that we know of? - David Gerard (talk) 17:43, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
OK, so you think a legitimate business would do the same. You should familiarise yourself properly with Bayes Theorem, which is the mathematical underpinning of what evidence is. Your reference asking whether this has happened before seems to be an effort to change the subject and constitutes logical rudeness and yet another gold chain. Please stop with the Gish Gallop, pick one anti-cryonics claim, look into it properly, and then really defend it. Ciphergoth (talk) 17:57, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Wait, you're accusing DG of "being rude"? ħumanUser talk:Human 20:41, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Logical rudeness is a specific form of the term invented at Less Wrong... Completely distinct from social rudeness, of course. As I understand it the term is meant to indicate that while bringing up something irrelevant or distracting doesn't actually constitute a fallacy, it does nothing to advance your argument. Luke 21:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that completely captures it; the linked article has more details. BTW wrt me and DG being rude at each other, you should know that we have known each other for years and I will be amazed if we don't have a conversation about this article while having a drink at a goth club before long. Ciphergoth (talk) 21:25, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Absolutely. If Paul says I'm being logically rude, I will (and indeed will) think carefully about what I've said and how. We've both enough annoying experience of the discussion equivalent of playing chess with people who then reveal they're actually playing checkers to get really pissed off at that sort of thing, and wish to avoid it ourselves. He's called me on a few logical slips already, to the benefit of my thinking and this article - David Gerard (talk) 21:37, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarifications guys. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:41, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
FWIW - on consideration, I've taken out the bit where I suggest that threatening to sue suggests they're pseudoscientists, and just left it at the bare fact that they did, because of the use of the word "fraud" - David Gerard (talk) 21:52, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

"And then a miracle occurs"[edit]

Skepticism towards cryonics seems to be predicated on skepticism towards nanotech... you'd have to be pretty confident that medical nanorobotics is not going to happen to dismiss the possibility of cryonic reanimation entirely. My question is, in what way is this skepticism justified? Is there any law of science that would have to be rewritten for nanotech to be developed? The current trend seems to be towards greater miniaturization and capability towards creating and manipulating smaller devices. For nanotech not to happen, this trend would have to flatline at some point. Is there some preponderance of evidence that it will do so, that I am not seeing? Luke 05:50, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

To answer your question, you are wrong. The skepticism has nothing to do with the possibility of the technology being developed in the future. Instead, it is the fact that people assume the technology is possible at all. Similar to skepticism over time travel, or travel through wormholes in outer space. Certainly, we can dream about having the technology, but until the technology exists to prove it is possible, then it is little more than science fiction. Thus, it is pseudoscience not because someone is working on the technology that doesn't exist but, rather, because the technology required to make cryonics work does not exist and because there is no way of telling if it ever will be possible. Does that about answer your questions? The Goonie Punk Can't sleep, clowns will eat me! 06:29, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Pretty much what Goonie said, if it is not testable, it is not science. That does not exclude thing such as thought experiments from being science (they are), but there is a big difference between that and idle speculation. - π 06:55, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't class speculation over nanorobots on that level. But the technology in question is still only at the "entirely plausible science fiction" stage. And there's no evidence that what has been frozen is even recoverable in principle, any more than you can take the jar the Pharaoh's brain was stored in six thousand years ago and recover his mind. There's no evidence that the preservation efforts to date don't actually screw the pooch similarly - David Gerard (talk) 10:47, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
As I noted in the intro, and further down: you're blurring the distinction between "some sort of cryogenic preservation and revival is not outside the bounds of physics" and "what the cryonics industry does right now does any good at all." It's the second that's highly questionable. Note also how cryonics fans, questioned on the second, tend to answer with the first.
Nanotech may well make it to that stage. But it's nowhere near it yet and implying it is is bollocks. That's assuming anything can rescue the dendrites shattered on a microscopic as well as macroscopic level. Run a CD through a grinder and recover the music from the pits in the plastic fragments. Do this and charge people money for CD preservation - David Gerard (talk) 10:45, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, as someone who has actually worked a little with what they call "nanotechnology" I can say that most people don't understand what it's about. People imagine tiny little robots going around performing miracles; that's total and utter BS. I've heard very good arguments for the idea that "nanotechnology" is the most abused scientific word of the last few decades; it's overuse and misuse is almost on par with "quantum". If anything, the use of the term "nanotechnology" with regards to it being a viable method for making cryonics work is just pure handwavium - i.e., if we replaced all incidences of "nanotechnology" on this article and talkpage with "handwavium", it'd still mean the same thing. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 16:17, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Indeed. Many cryonics advocates appear unable to distinguish science fiction-level speculation from in any way workable technologies and resort to "But you can't prove it isn't possible!" "No indeed, but I'm not the one taking money on the pretext that it is. What have you actually got?" "And then a miracle occurs, with handwavium!" "Ooookay ..." - David Gerard (talk) 16:46, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Armondikov - if you can set out any specific problems with any reference to nanotechnology in any document published by any cryonics provider, you will have done more for cryonics criticism than anyone has so far. Ciphergoth (talk) 17:05, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Also - I'm guessing that you consider K Eric Drexler not to be a responsible promoter of nanotechnology; I'd be interested to know who you would name as a major figure in the field whose work you do think well of. Ciphergoth (talk) 17:13, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
"Nanotechnology, "the manufacturing technology of the 21st century," should let us economically build a broad range of complex molecular machines (including, not incidentally, molecular computers). It will let us build fleets of computer controlled molecular tools much smaller than a human cell and built with the accuracy and precision of drug molecules."
This is a bullshit representational of what nanotechnology is. You can't have computer "controlled machines smaller than a biological cell". This is, as David Gerard has pointed out, confusing actual nanotechnolgy (which is stuff like nanoparticles, or molecular recognition) and science fiction's view of nanotech (which is magic handwaving machines). "Robotic arms" 100 nm long? It's a nice image, a robotic arm the size of a virus, but when you get down to that level, you're dealing with chemistry, not mechanics and robotics and it, frankly, does not work like that in real life. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 17:36, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Armondikov, you need to write nanotechnology - David Gerard (talk) 17:41, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
If K. Eric Drexler said "nanoscopic robots performing what we now regard as miracles are not physically impossible and people would like it to happen and are working on it," that'd be one thing. If he said "make present plans that cost $120k based on us having nanobot technology," that'd be quite another. Science-fiction-level speculation is actually useful stuff if not mislabeled as imminent or even feasible technology. We can turn lead into gold now too, but not by any means within the comprehension of those who considered it a necessary step in other plans (or those at the time who even considered passing laws against the transmutation), and now that we can we don't actually do it because it costs way more than just getting the gold out of the ground - David Gerard (talk) 17:40, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm assuming that you don't consider Drexler knowledgable on the subject since he's a signatory to the open letter on cryonics. See also this discussion with Ray Kurzweil, and, oh, everything else that you find if you google "Drexler cryonics". But I look forward to links to anything you can find by nanotechnologists rebutting these claims. Ciphergoth (talk) 17:53, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
That reads like something between an argument from authority and an argument that expertise in one area means expertise in others. Conceiving, naming and advocating nanotech and being vastly knowledgeable on it in no way precludes talking bollocks about cryonics - as noted in the article, most of its advocates are very smart, capable and highly knowledgeable people. If Drexler wants to be convincing on this point, even he needs to supply a bit more technological backing than "nanobots are not physically impossible," which is already obvious from the existence of biological cells - David Gerard (talk) 18:02, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
You said that if Drexler felt that way, it would be quite another thing. Since he does, I'm curious to know what sort of thing it is, besides another fake gold chain. At the moment, there's no argument here for me to rebut; what I have is the authority of a pseudonymous editor on RationalWiki saying it won't work but providing no argument, and one of the founders of the field saying it will and providing at least some detail. If anyone can either make or link to a properly worked out argument against, or a rebuttal of the arguments by Drexler or by cryonics providers in favour, then we'll be able to screen off authority with argument. Ciphergoth (talk) 19:20, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Not sure what your point is, but it's gonna take a lot more than just some improvements in nanobiotech to make cryonics work. And Kurzweil is a futurist, his "job" is make shit up and fantasize about how possible it might be "someday". ħumanUser talk:Human 20:32, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm hoping you're aiming for a higher standard of persuasive writing than this in the actual article. Ciphergoth (talk) 22:32, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
This is the talk page, oh generous benefactor, I'm sorry if it disappoints you. Why aren't you suggesting sources or verbiage or ideas to make it better? ħumanUser talk:Human 00:34, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Of course, nanobots are obviously possible, we presently call the physical examples "cells." (Or "viruses." I wonder if prions would count.) Much as strong AI is obviously possible, we presently call the physical examples "human brains." But implying, let alone claiming outright, we have any idea how to do this or will do soon is science fiction, not technology we're anywhere near realising - David Gerard (talk) 17:51, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
That's one of the killer misrepresentations. People don't quite understand how close to enzymes and cells actual "nanobots" will be. They're too stuck on images like this and this and thinking how the laws of mechanics would seem to translate to that level - for example, swimming through water at that scale would be closer to us tunneling through sand, rather than swimming. And it's not helped by people saying things like "we could build a robotic arm 100nm long" and handwaving what they could do. Yes, it might sort-of be possible in the obscenely distant future, but they won't be machines or work in the sense that people think of by any stretch, they'll be no more than very complexes and especially designed chemicals. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 18:25, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I've paraphrased what you say there in the article. Do you know of any freely-licensed images like that - of things that resemble industrial robots manipulating atoms - that we could put on RW? Such images need a caption "This is bullshit. Nanobots will not resemble the popular conception (above) in any way whatsoever." - David Gerard (talk) 22:08, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
This image nicely illustrates (to me) how biological molecular machine don't look like industrial robots - David Gerard (talk) 22:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
A handwaving robotic arm 100nm long? Scientific progress is amazing. -- (talk) 23:30, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

If I may interject for a moment though. The general idea behind Cryonics re-animation doesn't have to be exclusively linked with nanotechnology in the form of mini-submarines moving cells around. They just say that they are going to do their best to keep your data (brain) around for as long as possible, in a pretty solidified and non-entropically metabolised by worms, state. They don't give you a specific timeline of what is going to happen afterwards, they don't give you a specific technology of how this something is going to happen, and they don't involve supernatural forces. Focusing only in mini-submarines type of nanotechnology with propellas and hydraulic arms is also begging the question. The question is wither they are wrong to claim that *any* type of human made technology can bring that result in a period during which they will remain frozen.

For example, you could argue that the religious idea of resurrection is positively proven as bollocks, because we know (positively) that the ego/conciousness is stored in the physical brain (see brain damage etc) and because death destroys it, you cannot recover it. Any further idea beyond that, requires positive proof of extra physical laws, dimensions and such.

On the other hand, in order to positively disprove cryonics, implies positively proving that either, their method destroys data unrecoverably, or that, even if it preserves it, it is unrecoverable.

Let's put it another way:

If an ancient egyptian said that chemical mummification was an immortality technology, and future chemistry will bring mummies back alive (let's ignore that there was a bit more superstitious subtext in that, or that they were throwing brains out), this could be proven positively wrong, knowing by now that chemical mummification does not maintain the brain structure with enough "resolution" for it to EVER be readable/re-constructable. That, by now, would be pseudoscience.

On the other hand, if someone said that we can Terraform Mars. Or even move Earth via this mechanism ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1154784.stm ). Or even, that someone can build a computer, performing computations close to (but above) what has been proven as the computability limit of the universe. Someone might say that it is "very difficult" someone might complain "but this would take thousands of years!" but they are not automatically scientifically impossible. So it can't be called pseudoscience.Sen (talk) 21:23, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Oh, rubbish. Cryonicists go on and on about nanotechnology. Your comment here is an excellent example of people questioning "what the cryonics industry does is any good at all" and getting the answer "something else isn't outside the realms of physical possibility," as noted in the article - David Gerard (talk) 23:06, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Nanotech (i.e. tech that can modify things in a controlled fashion on a nanoscale) is one of the two weak links in the chain. The other is whether or not enough information is preserved for such tech to do us any good. However, these aren't weak by virtue of being ridiculous or implausible, only by being unprovable. We have not seen any mainstream scientist step out and say "these are not plausible". This lack of specific refutation is rather conspicuous by its absence. Luke (talk) 23:58, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
You're doing it again: I'm questioning what the cryonics industry does and talks about now, you're answering with unfalsifiable assertions that it may not be beyond physical possibility. Most people accept it's not physically impossible that some sort of cryonic suspension and revival may be possible in the far future; asserting that is not an answer to questions concerning the activities of the present-day cryonics industry, nor indeed questions concerning the cryonics subculture and its preoccupations - David Gerard (talk) 00:30, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
You're again blurring the distinction between "someday we will be able to preserve without needing additional unproven tech to reanimate" (suspended animation) and "someday we'll be able to reanimate what we've already preserved, with additional unproven tech" (cryonics). Both are speculation of an unfalsifiable-at-the-moment nature. You're saying nobody disputes the suspended animation premise (just stating the obvious which is that it hasn't happened yet), but that's not relevant to the cryonics premise. --Luke (talk) 03:18, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Nanotechnology is all well and good, but what about Mind uploading as a "resurrection" method? All you need is a way to scan the brain at a sufficient resolution, and a way to program and run a simulation of that brain. It seems to be easier than repairing a frozen dead body. --CronoDAS (talk) 20:14, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

As far as preservation is concerned, the same basic problem applies to uploading as to nanotech -- enough information needs preserved in the first place. Some people are less skeptical of uploading than nanobots, but I'm not sure why. Either way you have to be able observe and to something intelligent with things on a very tiny (i.e. nanoscopic) scale. Luke (talk) 03:51, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
You started off coherent, but then you descended into word salad. By the way "uploading" and "nanotech" are both pseudotechnology. Looks nice on paper, but no basis in reality. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:38, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Increasing the resolution of scanning is a great engineering goal and will obviously extend lifespans. Uploading is a lot more work, because simulating a system isn't really the same as being a person in reality. There may be similarities, and if you get good at the simulation it might say that it thinks it used to be you, and maybe you could put it to work doing gold mining in MMORPGs to pay for the profound amount of power it might take. But the simulation is orders of magnitude harder than scanning the input data for it. Also questions about whether physics is determinate (i.e., whether some quantum effects are truly random) come in to play. Because of the wave-particle duality of photons and resultant effects like interference patterns, such a simulation would need to be much more than merely a locally-connected automata. (I am not sure whether nanotech is a pseudotechnology, well, more than quantum computing for example.) (talk) 04:45, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Contributions welcome[edit]

Other people are allowed to edit the article as well as the talk page, y'know. It's what we call a "wiki" - David Gerard (talk) 18:09, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Maybe later. My primary interests are elsewhere at the moment. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 18:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd pretty much have to divert a river through it to edit this article, but I hope that if you're able to get anything solid out of this project it will end up being part of Wikipedia. Ciphergoth (talk) 19:23, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Why? Did someone step on your pet toe with this article? Dave, I've done a bit of copyediting here and there, but also trying to avoid ECs while it's growing. ħumanUser talk:Human 20:34, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
David's work on this article is in response to this blog post by me begging for better anti-cryonics writing. From what I can tell, this RationalWiki article is probably the best anti-cryonics article in the world. However, it's still a long way from what I'm looking for. What I'm looking for will I think require real expert attention: if there's a technological gap that's far wider than I'm guessing, what would help a lot would be genuine expertise on why that gap seems much wider when you're familiar with the field then when you're standing far away from it. So my real purpose is to get expert critical commentary.
A non-expert might still have something interesting to say about by what general principles you go about telling plausible future technology from wild speculation. But that would clash so much with the tone of the article it's hard to see it appearing here.
I do not want to fall for a fantasy. As you'll see from the blog post, I am doing my living obsessive best to get my hands on the absolute best counterarguments in the world, and having been unsatisfied when looking for them I have resorted to making a public appeal. But if you're anything close to satisfied with this article as it is, you have made a very poor effort of understanding the arguments on the other side. Ciphergoth (talk) 22:30, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
So, let make sure I got this right: you are saying that we don't understand that the technology that doesn't yet/ may never exist, and we should, therefore, buy into to woo that the technology that doesn't yet/ may never exist because it could exist in the future? Punky Your mental puke relief 23:33, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
As it stands this is pretty good for a RationalWiki article, it's far from the perfect refutation. At present it's at the stage where serious original research, involving tracking down lots of experts, is needed. Gah, journalistic legwork - David Gerard (talk) 23:43, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
"But if you're anything close to satisfied with this article as it is" - I don't know where you got that impression. @ Dave, the hard part is that in many of these "fields" there might not be any experts, since they are science fiction. But, as CG says, the distance versus up-close perspective of how possible it may ever be would be nice to illustrate. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:30, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I mean experts in neurology, cryobiology, nanotechnology, electron microscopy and suchlike. Ciphergoth (talk) 08:25, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Religious views of cryonics[edit]

I've found just about nothing. I've linked the Alcor FAQ. Anyone got any mainstream theological views of cryonics? Or even religious nutters' views of cryonics - David Gerard (talk) 22:07, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

The reaction of religious conservatives to cryonics is generally to get uncomfortable with it and not take a position in my experience. It just doesn't get past their reality censor, probably due to the soul thing. Atheists are more likely to just call it BS, i.e. actually take a position on the subject. It's hard to imagine a directly religious conflict with it that would not *also* conflict with science (not to mention pro-life principles). Come to think of it, I've heard Jehovah's Witnesses have taken an adversarial position on it. I will look it up. Luke 05:12, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Ah here it is: http://www.depressedmetabolism.com/2009/01/26/jehovahs-witnesses-and-cryonics/ Luke 05:14, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure why we have this section, especially as it says they don't have any views. First of all - who cares? Secondly, why not have athiests' views, homoeopaths' views, politicians' views, Joe Public's views. Why a special section for religious views when they have apparently nothing to say?--BobIt's cold! 21:21, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
I think it was a good idea for a section that no good info was found to put in yet. It certainly strikes me that a religion that has something like the Last Rites, polishing the soul before its interview with St. Peter, might have an issue with it. However, I think the real reason there aren't any readily available religious perspectives on it is it doesn't exist. Freezing a dead body is just a fancy funeral at this point. I imagine some religions might object to severing the head of a corpse. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:27, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
I was surprised there was a total of one view on it from any religion anyone gives time to (and a quite reasonably written opinion, at that), given the premise is "live forever." But I'll concede there's very little to actually put in such a section - David Gerard (talk) 23:20, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Haha, from Alcor's main page: "The spiritual status of cryonics patients is the same as frozen human embryos, or unconscious medical patients." ORLY? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:57, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Two separate topics: Cryonics and Suspended Animation[edit]

Cryonics has nothing to do with viability. It relies completely on information-theoretic criteria. Of course it attempts to prevent as much damage as is possibly, but is bound by the constraints of available technology. Because available technology cannot prevent enough damage to maintain viability, it is entirely dependent on future technology for reanimation. Critics that point this out as if it were supposed to be some big surprise just leave me scratching my head... this speculative aspect is the entire point of cryonics.

Suspended animation is what you get when you can prevent not only some damage, but all damage. Or at any rate, enough damage to preserve viability. This is basically hibernation on steroids. We can't do this yet. We will almost certainly be able to at some point in the future, and most critics of cryonics are entirely fine with this idea. With suspended animation, you have the advantage of not relying on as-yet-invented technology to awaken. The disadvantage is that it has not itself been invented yet. Our ability to cool humans without killing them ends at around 0 degrees. Again not a big surprise to cryonics advocates.

These are separate topics. Nobody disputes that true suspended animation would be a preferable method of life extension. But it's not possible at the moment. Nobody is promising to provide suspended animation as a service. Cryonics is about doing what can be done now, which does indeed mean trusting that there will be significant future growth in technology, and hoping that not too much information is lost in the process for that growth to be relevant. --Luke 06:37, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Cryonics has lots to do with viability, as the cryonics industry talks about it with not-even-close to being invented technology as the magic leap that makes cryonics more than a particularly elaborate form of burial. That cryonics advocates are largely entirely sincere doesn't make what they offer not largely silly, and objections aren't lessened by the objectors not having undertaken a study of the internal mythology of cryonics. Though that would be a fascinating thing, to be sure. Have any sociologists studied the cryonics subculture? - David Gerard (talk) 00:34, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure I follow your logic. Cell viability means the mechanics of the cell is working. Organ viability means the structure of the organ is good enough that it is working. Neither of these tells us whether there is enough information to recreate viability given technology that directly repairs cells and tissues. Are you trying to say we should assume such technology won't ever exist? Luke (talk) 16:43, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I will note also that cryonics advocates and companies use the word "suspension" very frequently in talking about freezing. The distinction you are making appears to only be important to you - David Gerard (talk) 16:23, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
"Suspension" != "suspended animation". Actually I don't much like the term suspended animation. "Proven-reversible cryonics" might be a better term. As always in logic, what matters is the concept, not the word used to convey it. Luke (talk) 16:43, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Ted Williams's Head[edit]

Note that Alcor ex-COO Larry Johnson asserts that they used Ted Williams's head for batting practice before he started work there; the way it appears in the article it makes it sound as if he personally witnessed it. Frankly if you buy this claim then I shake my head. As you must have noticed by now, cryonics people are by and large absolute fanatics; the idea that they'd do this is about as plausible as a Palestinian/Israeli peace conference held in BaconWorld theme park. Ciphergoth (talk) 08:31, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes indeed, which is why it was more than a little surprising. However, it did get a fair bit of recent press coverage. Your simile is beautiful and well worth putting in the article - David Gerard (talk) 09:09, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Couple of random thoughts[edit]

Cryonics versus organ donation (not very profound really, but amusing)

I think the right term for cryonics would be pseudotechnology - it's like the mocked up irony meter I made to photograph for the IM article - a bunch of shiny doodads that might "function" in some way, but I haven't actually figured out how to get it to measure irony yet. Even the idea that freezing the body/brain is the correct first step is based on nothing, really. Taking money to perform an alleged "first step" when the later "steps" are completely unknown verges on fraud (not the "research", the part where they are selling an alleged "service"). It's like me selling you an upgrade to your car to double its horsepower based on technology that doesn't exist, and that I haven't built yet, and may never build. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:02, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

The service is not claimed to be suspended animation. People who go for cryonics do so with full knowledge that it depends on future developments in technology and the assumption that enough information is preserved. If this were not the case, it would be a totally different service. Luke (talk) 20:14, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I didn't say it was. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:12, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
You're hitting on something I was thinking yesterday too. It might well be that this freezing lark isn't the right way of preserving a body ready to reanimate it. The car analogy is pretty good too. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 19:07, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
You have totally missed the point. We don't at this point know any better way to preserve or conserve a body's potential for reanimation. You're the one making a strong claim if you think there are better ways which are feasible with current technology. Cryonics is an educated guess at this point, and is expected to remain so for some time to come. Cryonics advocates are perfectly aware of this distinction. Luke (talk) 20:14, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
They're still loonies. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:12, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Correlation does not equal causation. :P --Luke (talk) 02:51, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Of course it doesn't. They're still loonies. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:41, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Why is this lunacy in your mind rather than a rational gamble? Or are you asserting that a rational gamble is impossible? Luke (talk) 05:23, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, there might be a better way of preserving things, and we can't say for sure that there is or isn't. But we also can't say for sure (anywhere near sure) that freezing is the best - both are equally outlandish claims because there's no evidence either way. The whole idea of cryonics right now is trying to second guess technology that no one has any idea about right now - in fact, it's so far out of anyone's guess that calling it an "educated" guess is outright wrong. It'd be like Dark Age architects trying to build the infrastructure for the internet before electronic communications technology even existed and without knowing what it even was they were attempting to build the infastructure for. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:40, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Can't be anywhere near sure freezing is best? What's your proposed alternative? Believe me, drying and chemical fixation have been discussed in the cryonics community. Not to mention uploading and other such fanciful notions. Vitrification (not technically "freezing" btw) HAS been demonstrated to be the best of available options. We know that much by looking at the kind of preserved brain tissue we get. Luke (talk) 02:51, 18 February 2010 (UTC)


What if ancient architects had correctly predicted that communication would be done with something small that would move between cities. Eg, trained mice or something moving through tubes. And for that reason, they laid a network of straight tubes between major cities. They would be totally wrong of course but we could still pass optical fibers through them and thus in that way they could have laid a viable internet infrastructure. Now, I understand that a cryonics argument based on possible reverse predictability of essential internet infrastructure based on mice might be a bit flimsy but... :P Sen (talk) 21:38, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Either way, it's not going to be the most efficient way of doing it. Building tunnels for mice isn't exactly the same as laying fiber-optic cables. While one could be used for the other, it's not optimal. You could just about get away with it in that internet example, but with reviving a human, you don't really have the option of it working "not quite as well", it either works or it doesn't, and if the groundwork isn't perfect, then it plain and simply won't work. So if the freezing process is only a little bit wrong, it won't work - but the important thing is that we have no way of knowing if the process is a little bit wrong, or a massive bit wrong. But playing the odds, taking into account the complexity that the future technologies will have and so on, we can almost guarantee that it will at least be "a little bit wrong" and therefore almost certainly unable to work. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 21:43, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
In which case, (in the tradition of flimsy examples), I would bring as an example the Antikythera mechanism. Sure, one is a mushy thing with more complexity than the galaxy, and the other one was a bunch of gears fused together, but still. It is literally a case where a civilization, thousands of years more advanced, recovered something just because the information has been preserved "good enough" while any scientist of that era would consider such a fused mess a lost cause. (invisible x-ray beams? huh, pull the other one) Now, Cryonicists, pretty much make the same argument, -except- that they actually claim that they preserve information "good enough" as well. In this case good enough being the relative positions of neurons to each other. (And I don't know what is going on with their connections). Since I think that making statements about future technology's reconstruction powers is impossible, I think that it is only that claim, that is worth attacking. Or at least make a statement regarding what is the actual resolution cryonics preserves stuff (cell positions? cell connections?) vs current cognitive science (does the interior of neurons play any part in thought. Do only synapses do?). The whole synapse thing in fact sounds like a make it or break it thing. I can for example imagine "reading" technologies, as long as the information is there. Even if they have to slice the entire frozen brain into ultra-thin slices and read every single one of them with an electron microscope. (That's a copy technology, rather than a resurrection one, but I wanted to give an example of something that sounds even today possible, with enough resources). On the other hand if ice crystals/vibration etc, objectively move dendrites around in a random way. And the only way to put them back would depend on you having information lost during the moment of freezing. Then the information could be called with a straight face forever unrecoverable and the "good enough" can be called a lie.Sen (talk) 22:56, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
In fact, thats about the point where I start talking to myself, but I think that the whole thing at some level can be simplified as an information & computability problem. Freezing only happens with heat being transferred to something else. That heat contains information. If freezing leads to random-like movements altering the position of dendrites and such, and that information gets lost through heat. Then essentially a huge part of the brain's information, would be lost in space at the moment of freezing and not preserved. And thus a future person cannot compute the original state back. It's like the entire thing has been encrypted and the decryption key got lost during freezing. I am sure that at some level, that would be a perfect proof against cryonics since it makes technology irrelevant. A picture of a bunch of frozen neurons with the synapses being all over the place would go a long way towards that.Sen (talk) 23:10, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure it's so much like that, you probably don't lose information about the state itself, but specifically the momentum of that state, not what it is now but where it's going. E.g., you have a ball rolling forward, you then stop it (analogous to freezing a brain or killing it) - you've then lost the information about the ball's momentum; so when you come to get the ball rolling again, you don't know which direction to push it. Expand that to not just one ball but millions that you need to move exactly as they were - even though no one knows where one should go never mind the other million - and that's one big-ass problem. Which is possibly why brains are practically impossible to restart again, even after a short period of brain death. Anyway, that's what I figure is the specific information a suspension process would remove. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 23:16, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
So if you were convinced that a brain could go to zero electrical activity and come back with memories etc intact, you would accord cryonics greater plausibility? Ciphergoth (talk) 23:30, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
We already know brains can do this (coma patients and hypothermia sufferers who come back from little to no electrical activity to a fully intact intelligence/memories/personality), so I'm presuming that's not what Armondikov means ... - David Gerard (talk) 00:36, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

External links and "excerpts"[edit]

Seems like a sloppy way to make a point. Why not turn the "excerpts" into quotes in article text (or paraphrase), and use the EL as the reference? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:16, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes, you're right. I can only work on these things in bursts while I'm waiting for other things to happen, so I do tend to be sloppy. I wanted to read the literature review mentioned in the next talk page section before I firmed up my opinions on the subject. I was just basically collecting interesting sources until I could find a recent secondary source.
In fact, I'm not going to have much free time from now until another day or two, so I'd like to ask other editors to fold in the external links and the information in the next section, please.
This article is so much better than Wikipedia's, which I complained about several times a couple years ago as an example of bad science controversy writing. I love the parody and wit here. Sadly, experience has shown that when I try parody and humor, things almost always turn out terrible. (talk) 02:09, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Welcome! --Luke (talk) 02:27, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Thank you. :-) I love this site. I have to run now. Please have at the fold-ins from the external links and below as you and others see fit. (talk) 02:37, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Maybe we should cut them to the talk page until we work out how to handle them? ħumanUser talk:Human 03:41, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Either way is fine with me. (talk) 02:56, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Excerpts from Choi & Bischof (2009) secondary literature review[edit]

"Abstract ... cooling rates experienced in biomaterials during freezing procedures correlate strongly with biological outcome....
"Summary ... A survey of thermal properties of biomaterials available in the literature has shown that while there is a large database available in the suprazero temperature domain there is a lack of data in the subzero temperature domain.... The use of H2O properties resulted in the significant underestimation of required cooling times while the use of constant properties for biomaterials resulted in the significant overestimation of cooling times. The addition of glycerol to biological solutions or tissue resulted in thermal histories which required significantly greater times to cool compared with those for H2O. A modified numerical scheme was developed for systems with high glycerol content to accommodate non-equilibrium cooling effects in which an empirical crystallization model was employed and thermal properties were dependent on both temperature and cooling rate. Temperature versus time predictions based on non-equilibrium properties showed large differences compared with results using quasi-equilibrium properties (which are generally reported in the literature) for systems with large dimensions. Additionally, the region between the center and the outer surface experienced the lowest cooling rates, and correspondingly had the largest amount of crystallization." -- Choi, J. and Bischof, J.C. (2009) "Review of biomaterial thermal property measurements in the cryogenic regime and their use for prediction of equilibrium and non-equilibrium freezing applications in cryobiology" Cryobiology, in press; review, pages 1 and 14 (emphasis added.)

Based on that, I'm predicting there's about a 50% chance of reliable large primate freezing and long-term survival after thawing in around 20-25 years. I recommend confronting Alcor with the fact that damage is more likely to occur during the freezing process than thawing and see what they have to say.

I note that the LD50 for intraperitoneal glycerol is 8.7 grams per kilogram in rats. Presumably that would be less if the glycerin was diffused through tissue(?) When I get more time I will compare that to the amount of glycerin Choi & Bischof contemplate in their work (1 through 6 Molar glycerol infusions.) The antidote is listed as, "Give several glasses of milk or water. Vomiting may occur spontaneously, but it is not necessary to induce. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person."[1] Choi & Bischof do not discuss toxicity in their review.

This is currently my favorite mad science picture: Bushbaby revival from Smith et al (1957). (talk) 02:29, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Giant magnets?[edit]

One last thing before I forget: Wasn't there a line of research some years ago which was exploring the use of huge, very powerful magnets (more powerful than for NMRI, if I remember correctly) during cooling to prevent water crystals? How did that turn out? (talk) 03:05, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

This might be related to the Owada "Cells Alive System" or CAS. They were using it to keep food from tasting bad after cooling. The consensus from cryonet seems to be that they were probably reducing crystal size rather than eliminating crystallization, as eliminating crystallization by this means would be big news in the scientific community. Even if this is the case, it could be valuable for cryonics. It is hard to get more specific information on it besides sales promotional stuff though, so cryonicists are a bit leery of it. See Cryonet archives --Luke (talk)
It works like a microwave oven but in reverse. Inside the freezer the object being frozen is zapped with a strong magnetic field and, Owada says, other kinds of energy. The field keeps the cream or beef's water molecules swirling in liquid form even as their temperature plummets. When the field is switched off, the object is instantly frozen, without time for the formation of ice crystals. These crystals normally rip apart organic cells, which degrades the texture and taste of food. Forbes Magazine

I think that's a far better prospect than pumping people full of toxic anticrystalization agents. Thank goodness there's an application in food processing. The food industry has some deep pockets. Even people who don't want to freeze their brains have to eat. The fact that the cryonicists don't tout this method and its prospects speaks volumes on their integrity. (talk) 07:29, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

My mind boggles at that last sentence. Skepticism makes them lack integrity? How do you know this method is going to work better? Freezing food at food preservation temperatures is not the same as freezing biological organs at LN2 temperatures. Luke (talk) 15:15, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
How do you know it's not? Until people start reviving dead hamsters no one knows what preservation technique is appropriate. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:23, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Nonsense. Analyzing the quality of the brain tissue preserved either way should give us a pretty good understanding of which is relatively better. Luke (talk) 01:20, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
What I said was not nonsense. Cryonics is nonsense. There is no known way to preserve and then resurrect a living creature. Until there is, cryonics as a paid-for service is just a ripoff. Pseudotechnology. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:00, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I believe you meant "mammal over a certain number of kilograms" rather than "living creature," correct? (talk) 06:05, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, sorry, that was sloppy. "Animal" would do as well. Of course we can do this with "living creatures", but they're mostly one-celled, right? ħumanUser talk:Human 19:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
There are a large variety of cold-blooded creatures, such as fish and frogs, which freeze and revive naturally. Researchers have been fairly successful with small mammals, even as far back as Smith et al's 1957 paper. There aren't any 100% revival rates on anything (not even fish and frogs) but the chance that a mammal can be revived and live out its lifespan is inversely proportional to its size. It doesn't hurt that small mammals have naturally shorter lifespans, of course. (talk) 20:39, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Not if you come out alive it's not. Luke (talk) 03:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
That's a very big "if" considering steps 2 through n are unknown. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I understand your point. But there is a difference between an unknown chance and unreal chance. Blurring the distinction is not going to advance your argument along logical grounds. Luke (talk) 19:51, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
You're reversing the burden of proof there. The chances are 0 with known or predictable technology. The best you can say about the technology to increase the chance above 0 is that it may not be physically impossible that there will be a technological solution that will repair the damage. And saying "nanobots!" isn't an answer - think of nanobots as really tiny tweezers. Could you do it with really tiny tweezers, if you were going very fast? How would you do it? - David Gerard (talk) 20:16, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand the question here. Are you excluding nanoscopic glue, cables, propellers, etc. from this argument? Wouldn't it be reasonable to include at a minimum the capacities already observed in living cells? Luke (talk) 21:37, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
There is no nanoscopic glue, cable or propellers - that's the "But, NANOBOTS!" response, which is equivalent to "But, MAGIC!" And if the capacities already observed in living cells already include not just repairing dendrites (which they don't), but working out which broken dendrite hooks to which other broken dendrite, I eagerly await your reference - David Gerard (talk) 01:07, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
If the idea that using water resonance energy and molecule magnetic alignment to minimize the deleterious effects of ice is better than pumping people full of poison (introducing a, um, comorbidity) doesn't immediately seem to you like one of the things that can be derived from first principles, I don't know what to tell you. The ultimate storage temperature for the kind of long-term biological viability that you'd need for interstellar travel is a lot lower than 77 Kelvin, isn't it? I guess that depends on the radiation shielding and mechanical protection. (talk) 02:34, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Does it really minimize the effects of ice? I don't know. If it does to on a level comparable to vitrification minus the toxicity, that would certainly be better. And I don't say we shouldn't research it. I just don't instantly jump to the conclusion that it's better based on some random magazine article. Luke (talk) 03:36, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, this seems to be one of the fields like space VLBI where the Japanese are decades ahead of the rest of the world. The best English language literature we have on it is Owada's patents and applications. These aren't theory patents either: the issued patents contain comparative empirical measurements and Odawa's company appears to be an ongoing viable concern selling to food and organ storage customers. The English language academic literature doesn't even come close. It seems a big part of the problem is that cooling rate and pressure have nonlinear interactions with cell membrane water diffusion in the formation of amorphous ice. (talk) 20:53, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

After spending a couple hours on literature searching I am more convinced than ever that Owada's 40 person, 1 billion Yen/year company is literally decades ahead of the Western world's academies on vitrification without additives. Can anyone find a photograph of an ABI freezer apparatus? I would really like to get a sense of the physical scale he's implemented on so far. I also wish the U.S. NSF would pump a couple billion dollars into using them for primate revival research. When one country gets so far ahead of all the rest in things like this, eventually it comes out and everyone else swallows their pride and catches up, but if there are regulations in Japan, for example, prohibiting testing cryonics applications on monkeys, I would really like to see some growth-loving politicians start pouring some cash in to see what Owada can do. (talk) 23:02, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

It's worth noting that the Chinese have been looking at this, too, over the past decade. (talk) 22:01, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Ben Best Debate[edit]

The reference here contains an inaccurate representation of what Ben Best was actually saying.

They also tend to assert unsupported high probabilities for nonexistent technologies[1][2] . Luke (talk) 01:27, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

  1. Debates about Cryonics with Skeptics (BenBest.com). Mr Best repeatedly asserts that the skeptics questioning his unsupported probabilities and pointing out that the revival rate is 0% for the foreseeable future is equivalent to comparing him to a rapist or child molestor.
  2. Rationality, Cryonics and Pascal's Wager (Roko, lesswrong.com, 08 April 2009)

You mucked that up, the second ref is not copied over. Can you go get it and just paste it below? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:28, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Does this help? Luke (talk) 01:32, 19 February 2010 (UTC) Argh, I'll just replace it. Luke (talk) 01:34, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

It took me 40 seconds to find Ben saying "You are treating cryonics as if it were sex with minors" so I'm just going to reinstate it. Thanks for fixing the refs. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:37, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Although I couldn't find "rape" or "rapist" in either ref, so that part should probably be removed. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:40, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
But he didn't say that in reference to the probability claims themselves, he said that in reference to the skeptic pushing that claim on cryonicists as if we didn't have the right (or mental capacity) to make up our own minds on the subject. Luke (talk) 01:48, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
He also didn't say they were accusing him personally of being a pedophile, only that they were confusing cryonics (in general) with sex with minors. The way the ref reads makes Ben sound paranoid and unreasonable, in addition to totally misrepresenting his actual point. Luke (talk) 01:54, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Replaced with: "Mr Best repeatedly asserts to the skeptics who point out that the revival rate is 0% for the foreseeable future, that forcing their opinion on consenting adults is essentially like labeling those who provide cryonics services child molestors." Luke (talk) 02:07, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

That does in fact sound unreasonable. It has mutiple falacies which together sound more like a con man than a paranoid. Firstly, drawing and stating a reasonable conclusion isn't "forcing an opinion" on anyone because there is no force involved. Secondly, advocating cryonics likely to fail isn't "essentially like" a completely different action, molesting children. It isn't even remotely like it at all. It's much more similar to selling snake oil or placebos. Thirdly, interjecting child molestation into the debate is a transparent ploy to distract; typical of charlatains. I find it hard to believe anyone could listen to such a statement and not immediately become skeptical of the entire argument. But we have seen from religion how much people want to believe in an afterlife, and that must be the dominant psycological issue at play in the audience responding positively to such statements. Check for other trappings of cult-like behaviors. (talk) 07:17, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
If you look at the debate you will see that I was replying to the claim that "The problem is with selling a service [cryonics] that cannot be demonstrated to work", to which I replied "Those who join us are informed adults, just as we are, who are legally entitled to make our decisions and pay for them. You are treating cryonics as if it were sex with minors." The comparison I was making is that children are not presumed to be able to give informed consent, just as the critic was not giving credit to those of us who have signed-up for cryonics as being adults capable of giving informed consent. For the most part, cryonicists know that cryonics may not work, but choose to sign-up for cryonics on the basis of knowing that cryonics may work. It is therefore not immoral to sell cryonics services when it is fully disclosed that cryonics may not work. --BenBest (talk) 22:47, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I am sorry I did not look at the context. Thank you. I don't understand why you don't think that calling criticism equivalent to sex crimes is one of the most effective ways to sabotage the research funding prospects of your movement. Moreover, your movement has not been well funded, so please try to nurture it instead of using such rhetoric. The field is important for both transplant organ and food storage, so instead of making accusations about the moral equivalences of the statements of your detractors with sex crimes, please look to the heroes of transplant organ storage technology research and see if you can emulate their staid, cool, and relaxed attitudes because those traits may be essential for convincing people that you are serious about your passions. (talk) 02:46, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Was there really no objection more worthy of your time and energy? As you know, I'm trying to decide whether to sign up, so this is useful information to me. Ciphergoth (talk) 08:34, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I did not know you are trying to decide whether to sign up. I'm interested in seeing that my taxpayer science dollars are spent cost-effectively, and I have not been trying to sway your decision. I only learned about your interest from David about a week ago. (talk) 02:46, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Ok, before this slides downhill any further, would you ban the sale of cryonics services, given the power to do so? Because that's essentially what I'm hearing with talk of it being "snake oil". Luke (talk) 15:49, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd say this is less "dangerous" than snake oil because it can't actually kill you. You're already dead. So in that sense it's not as dangerous as, say, homoeopathy. On the other hand, pointing out that it doesn't presently work and seems to have little chance of working in the future would seem to be wise. But if, knowing that, people want to buy it - why not?--BobIt's cold! 20:32, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I mostly agree with this, but I don't agree that the concept of it having little chance of working in the future is obvious to everyone, as not everyone has a uniform level of skepticism regarding things like nanobots and uploading. Part of the point, as ciphergoth mentions, is that these articles attacking cryonics rarely directly tackle the posited mechanisms and their plausibility, rather they assume their audience will agree that they aren't plausible. Luke (talk) 02:36, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I completely agree with it, and I agree that the concept of it is almost completely uncertain in the vast majority of people's minds at present. (talk) 02:46, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Absolutely not. Government prohibitions are dangerous. Good government is based on rights, not restrictions. My recommendation is that further research be conducted into freezing water without producing crystals in a non-toxic manner. I will not be making a decision as to whether I want to sign up until I have learned more about giant magnets and water molecule resonance field cooling and its prospects for the successful long-term revival of large primates. (talk) 02:46, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
"nanobots and uploading" woooooooo or is it science wooooooooo? Terraform Mars lately? Gawd you pro-cryonicists are lame. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:05, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I am neither pro nor con. I only started seriously researching the subject a few days ago. Do you mean to imply by quotation marks that I am a proponent of the words you quoted, too? What does Mars have to do with it? Do you think the ad hominem comment makes people more convinced or less convinced of your argument? (talk) 06:17, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
On the internet, it's hard to tell if you're kidding. Please be kidding. Luke (talk) 03:25, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
There are serious proponents of nanobots and uploading out there who think they will be available in 50 years. I think they might be available in 500 years. For cryonics to be stupid, it would have to be certain that they would never happen. Luke (talk) 03:39, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
No, cryonics is stupid because it starts off with "step one: guess". I hope you are kidding, also. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:43, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
You are saying it is smarter not to take a position? Why? Luke (talk) 05:21, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
In the following section are three areas where you can post your reasons for making the assertion that cryonics is bunk. If any of the three statements is correct, today's cryonics will not work. Luke (talk) 06:43, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Never mind, I added the relevant section to the article. Discussion of vaguely expressed doubts and such in a forum might be more productive. Luke (talk) 16:10, 21 February 2010 (UTC)