I write here of the organized self-styled “skeptics”, not normal, healthy skepticism. Most ordinary skeptics typically dismiss cryonics without even investigating the subject enough to know that it is called “cryonics” rather than “cryogenics”, or that cryonics organizations use vitrification rather than freezing.
Organized skeptics may make the same mistakes, but for many organized skeptics, “skepticism” can be a kind of faith, especially in connection with cryonics (although there are some reasonable skeptics within organized skepticism). The anti-cryonics skeptics about whom I write are those represented by the Rick Ross “Anti-Cult group:
and the “skeptics” behind the so-called RationalWiki:
These people seem as little amenable to reason as any group you can find. Instead of dialog, there is only denigration, accusation and name-calling. Their conclusions are also their premises: no intervening deductive process is evident. Added to their imperviousness to reason is their intense emotional hostility.
Although there might seem to be little hope of progress in arguing with these people, that may be an overstatement. And even in arguing with the most bigoted of skeptics, there are spectators who may be influenced. Some of these may even be less vocal skeptics who are activists in the forums.
Although it can be difficult to be emotionally detached, there is something to be said for studying organized “skeptics” as an anthropologist or behaviorist would study them. What inputs result in what outputs? Why and how do they think as they do? If we are to survive, it will help to know our enemies so as to anticipate their actions.
One thing that I have noticed is the great reluctance organized skeptics have to believe that we are sincere. They ascribe evil motives (money, power) in order to make us comprehensible to them. They cannot understand our craving for more life as a motive. The fact that cryonics costs quite a bit of money excites considerable negative attention from the skeptics, who pay no attention to the fact that the cryonics organizations doing storage are non-profit, or that storing a person in liquid nitrogen indefinitely is not something that can be done cheaply as long as the economies of scale are limited by the small number of patients. No evidence for the money-motive accusations other than the cost is attempted.
It seems as if to believe we are sincere would undermine the desire of organized skeptics to hate us and feel morally superior. Portraying cryonics as a scam (run by cynics who are motivated only by money) makes cryonicists and cryonics organizations evil, rather than deluded. Why do they feel such a need to hate us, as well as believe we are wrong? I suspect some of this may result when we undermine their beliefs with argument. They seem as attached to their beliefs as any fanatic.
Although most cryonicists are atheists or agnostics, cryonics is compatible with religion. Many religionists, unfortunately, refuse to believe this, despite the fact that there is no scriptural support for their view. So cryonicists must suffer from the hostility of these fanatics. Unfortunately, many cryonicists seem to take the position that cryonics and religion are incompatible, which exacerbates the problem by reinforcing the views of religious fanatics. I am hoping not to be offensive to religious cryonicists by having said these things, or by what I am about to say.
I believe most atheists have at least some antipathy to religion, at least to regard it as an occasional nuisance. But I also believe that most atheists have little interest in religion, and would rather think about other things.
Organized atheists are another matter. Most organized atheists are obsessed with religion. In many cases they have suffered oppressive treatment and indoctrination by religionists, and these atheists are extremely hostile and bitter about that treatment. They may have had to struggle greatly to throw-off the beliefs into which they were indoctrinated, and they resent the fact that they had been deluded. They study religion intensely to purge themselves of their indoctrination, to reinforce their new beliefs, and to prepare themselves for combat against their religious enemies.
It has been said that the only cure for alcoholism is religious fanaticism. I sometimes get the impression that those who cure themselves of religious fanaticism do so by means of anti-religious fanaticism. Such people are among those who become organized atheists. Although their mentality is supposedly the opposite of it was when they were in a religion or church, they have formed a new “church” which operates by the same rules as the old ones.
I think that organized skeptics are similar to organized atheists and, indeed, there is a great deal of membership overlap between the two groups. How scientific are people who, instead of devoting themselves to science, devote themselves to studying what they call “science woo” into which they pigeon-hole cryonics? All of the attributes of the other “woo sciences” become attributes of cryonics. (“To those who only have a hammer, every problem is a nail.”)
By being in an organization (formal or an informal list/wiki) there is peer-pressure to conform to the atheistic or “skeptical” beliefs of the group. I believe that this is what lies behind the cultish mentality of these purported anti-cult activists. There is a black-and-white view of what is cult or scam and what is not. The group labels Branch Davidians, Scientologists and cryonicists as being cults, and the group conforms in heaping the same abuse on all of the labeled organizations.
Again, I hope that I have not been offensive to religious cryonicists by anything that I have said. I don’t think any religious cryonicist has the same mentality as religious fanatics. And I expect that religious cryonicists are offended by religious fanatics and by religionists who refuse to believe that cryonics and religion are compatible.