September 10th, 2004


The Case for Freezing Grandma

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the crazy one, and everyone else is sane.

You see, I have a friend, let's call her "Amelia". And Amelia's grandmother is quite sick. She could die soon.

So I suggested that Amelia sign her ailing grandmother up for cryopreservation (aka cryonics) with Alcor. To which "Thomas", a member of Amelia's Livejournal peanut gallery, responded:

or better yet, phrenology! puh-leeze. Why waste your money on reincarnation when you can live life now, and when your time is up, help some folks and causes you love.

Now, I don't interact much with Thomas, but most of his past posts and comments seem cogent. And although I like to think of myself as a sharp-eyed skeptic, quacks are notoriously incapable of self-criticism. And quacks frequently denounce other quacks. "Astrology? * snort * What a load of hooey. Now take a look here at my latest model, The Perpetual Motion 2000." So my general skepticism is no guarantee that I'm not riding bareback on my own hobby horse, cryonics.

Could Thomas be right?

The answer is "Of course not." However, his is a common opinion. And cryonics does bear some resemblance to phrenology and other quackery, due to the practical difficulties of testing its claims. So it's worth examining why I think cryonics is not quackery.
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