Insurance against death through cryonics

Let’s face it: we’re all (still) getting older, and aging leads to death. This is a major reason for cryonics’ existence — to preserve ourselves, usually in an aged, diseased, and/or deteriorated state, until medical science is capable of curing our ailments and prolonging our lives. Because many people (especially young cryonics supporters) tend to think that they will benefit from radical life extension therapies in their own lifetime, some choose to forgo making early cryonics arrangements. As discussed in a recent post, even if aging is ended or reversed there will remain a non-trivial risk of death by accident or other fatal incidents. Others who support cryonics but endlessly put off making their own arrangements also take an enormous risk in securing their own cryopreservations. It is important to be an activist for your own cause, too, after all.

That most people do acquire the financial means and/or appropriate insurance coverage to make arrangements as soon as they determine that they want to be cryopreserved is a cornerstone upon which cryonics providers rely to operate as efficiently as possible. The fact is that life insurance is easiest and cheapest to obtain when you are young and healthy. In an age where people nonchalantly dole out hundreds of dollars a month for their cell phone usage, life insurance coverage that will pay out the required amounts for your cryopreservation upon legal death is a trivial payment (on the order of $20-80/mo for a healthy young adult). Even if you are not totally sure yet whether you want to be cryopreserved, obtaining insurance at a young age that can provide for your cryopreservation is a wise move. Arriving on the doorstep of a cryonics provider as a “last minute case” is not advisable, since these are often the most demanding and controversial cases, and are also frequently subject to family interference.

Unfortunately, there are situations in which persons who have been dedicated to cryonics for many years fall upon hard times or are otherwise disposed of the ability to maintain their cryonics arrangements. For these legitimate cases, a plea for help can be raised when presented with adequate information concerning the person, their involvement in cryonics, and the nature of the circumstances leading to their disability to provide funding for cryopreservation. Of course, those who are already disabled or terminally ill before hearing about cryonics make up a good proportion of these legitimate claims, as well.

However, some of these “pleas for help” are not infrequently issued to the general cryonics populace at large via cryonics-specific Internet message forums, with little to no circumstantial information provided to assess the validity of the request. Such requests leave a lot to be desired in terms of properly addressing the need of the person desiring assistance, and devalue the importance of acquiring and maintaining cryonics arrangements throughout life, so they are not dependent upon others when bad times finally do befall them.

Looking forward, the last thing cryonics providers need are multiple series of last-minute cases and daily fundraising appeals when the “Singularity” turned out not to be as near as some people might have thought….

Curing aging does not make cryonics redundant

Most life extensionists and transhumanists do not buy into many of the myths about cryonics. But one perspective that is sometimes voiced by futurists is that cryonics is a rational backup plan until aging is cured. This position has some serious shortcomings and potentially lethal implications.

Human cryopreservation is the practice of placing terminally ill patients who have exhausted contemporary medical treatments into long term cryogenic care, allowing them to benefit from future medical treatments. Although aging-associated diseases are an important cause of death, they are not the only cause of death. Even when biological aging becomes optional, a person will still be vulnerable to accidents and violence.

The mindset that cryonics will become redundant as soon as aging is conquered is especially dangerous when it leads (young) people to forgo or postpone making cryonics arrangements because they expect to benefit from  rejuvenation technologies and dietary supplementation during their lifetime. This may not only reflect wishful thinking regarding the rate of progress in overcoming aging, but it will also leave them vulnerable to other causes of death.

As long as humans (or post-humans) are vulnerable to injury that cannot be treated with contemporary medical technologies, human cryopreservation will remain important as a form of critical care. In other words, as long as there can be situations that warrant metabolic arrest to avoid information-theoretic death, there is a need for cryonics or similar technologies to induce metabolic arrest, like molecular warm biostasis.

There are a lot of people who believe in the technical feasibility of cryonics and intend to make cryonics arrangements….when necessary. As cryonics observers know, this is an extremely risky attitude because when people need cryonics the most, they often are unable to communicate their wishes, may meet resistance from relatives who benefit from their not making cryonics arrangements, or lack financial resources because life insurance is no longer an option to fund cryonics.

The best time to make cryonics arrangements is when it seems least likely that you need them soon. This is also evidenced by the fact that young healthy people can get excellent rates on life insurance.

Teaching children about cryonics

How do you teach a child about something that is so far “unproven”?  How do you bring up the subject of cryonics and how it may allow someone to be reanimated in the future?

I am a cryonicist, I’ve been a signed member for years, I’m also a mother, social activist, environmentalist and author.  I teach religious education at my church, and I volunteer in my children’s schools.  My book “21st Century Kids”, set in the year 2008, is about two children who ‘die’ now but are cryonically preserved and then reanimated 200 years in the future.  The book deals with how they view the society then, and how that society views them.  The book is of course science fiction, but it is based on things that scientists see as possible now.  When I talk to an eager classroom of 9-& 10-year-olds at a school about my book, I read passages out of it that are exciting and imaginative like the nano-tech and simulated artificial reality parts, but I also make sure the subject of cryonics comes up.  I’ve talked with dozens of classrooms, and hundreds of children at my own church about cryonics.  I know how hard it can be, death is a reality—it is a fear for children, or it is a sadness when someone they loved died—they may think that person is in heaven, and they will see them again–when cryonics comes up, the children become animated sharing stories, and what they think.

I love children for their open-mindedness.   Of all the children I’ve talked to, many have said cryonics sounded neat or cool—I even had a few say they were going to tell their parents they wanted to sign up for cryonics.  I’ve amazingly heard back from several parents over the past few years, asking me for information.  I give them cryonics magazines, and talk with them about life insurance and how easy it is to set up—the importance of being signed if something unexpected happens so you don’t have to be a ‘last minute case’ and I go over the basics of just what cryonics is with them.  This blog piece would turn into a book if I listed all the things I say and children ask—but I’ll go over a few of my ‘sound bytes’.

I tell children that some people choose cryonics because they’ve seen studies that showed cat brains have been preserved at colder than ice temperatures for several years and had normal looking electrical activity when re-warmed and given new blood, but we can not yet re-animate the whole body and all of the organs.  I say that there are scientists right now looking at how to better preserve organs for humans in hospitals, like when a person in a hospital in Texas needs a new kidney, and a person in California who has a kidney that would match, dies—how to get that kidney to the person in Texas fast enough, through ultra cold transport and planes.  I say cryonicists also like that some children have been born and grown into healthy adults after having been preserved cryonically as embryos. This makes them think that the procedure might work on a whole human someday.   I tell children that I, and my own children (usually the kids I’m talking to know one of my three kids) are signed up for cryonics, and when we die–like if a car accident happened tomorrow—we will be preserved, and most importantly our brains will be preserved in case scientists in the future figure out how to get it running again.  I say that even if they don’t, scientists from now are very interested in the mummified Egyptian bodies from over 3 thousand years ago—and have even been able to better understand some diseases now by looking at the diseases the mummified bodies had, and how those diseases have evolved since then.  I say that my body will be donated to science, and that if my brain is not made to have full awareness after several hundred years then I hope that some things can be learned by the future society about the preserved bodies from now.  Kids want to know how long I think it would take to work, I say I think over 500 years—and say that it would be likely to work if society, technology and medicine keep advancing as they have over the last 500 years.

It is hard to predict when talking with a group of children, where the talk will go—I ask them questions, like if they know something their great grandparents didn’t have a hundred years ago, we end up talking history and then talking about what could be.  Children sometimes bring up very sad stories about someone dying, and I say yes even with cryonics when someone is dead—they are gone from now, to us and their family is sad, they don’t know if they will ever see them again.  I’ve had the heart wrenching experience of an 11 year old talking about how his dad died of cancer, and I’ve had a few children in the 5-7 range who share about a grandparent who died and how much they miss them.  I empathize with their loss.  I say to children that  I believe their loved one is in a better place, that many cryonicists too want to go to a better place they believe in, like heaven—and they think they some day will, but if cryonics works they’ll have more time here on Earth to do good deeds—to try to help with some of humanities problems, before they go on.  It is hard to talk about death, but children will share deeply as they have their own fears about death and that gives me solace, the section about cryonics is deep, is profound but we always move on.

Children like the idea of cryonics, but they also like to talk about “future weapons” they see on T.V., and each group I talk to always brings up space travel.  Cryonics is a short part of our conversation, and wherever our conversation goes I try to keep it exciting and to stimulate their imaginations.   Having a group of children to speak with about futurist issues at a school or a church and covering cryonics is a lot of fun, and I always try to stay sensitive to what other parents might say when their children tell them what they ‘learned that day’.  People wonder if I talk differently with my own children, and the answer is not really.  Sure we make more jokes about “if cryonics works then….”Or if doing something dangerous joking “make sure I’m preserved if…” but in the end, I say the same things to them that I would to a group of children that are not my own.  Cryonics is not proven, it is just a chance, it would be fun if it worked and some of the research into it can help people now and I’m proud to be a cryonicist.  I tell my children that I’m happy that they are too. I also tell my children that I hope that after they are adults and choose partners in life to start their own familes with, that their families will also be cryonicists.

In the end, I’d encourage other cryonicists to share their views with children they know—they could even present “21st Century Kids” to a group of children, or simply give it as a gift, or read it to kids they know.  Teaching kids about cryonics is simply sharing what could be, it is not giving false hope—but hope that is based on science and studies that show it could work someday. Even though I share about cryonics with many adults, I have the most fun teaching children about it, and I hope you too get to engage in fascinating conversations about the future and how it could be, with a wide-eyed eager child who is in awe with life.

Feedback on this article is encouraged at the Immortality Institute forum.

Transforming the death industry

In August 1968, Cryonics Reports (a publication from the Cryonics Society of New York) published an editorial that advocates the re-evaluation of the mortician and the funeral profession to make it a part of long term medical care, i.e. to create a life industry.  A part of this editorial is published below:

In 1964, with the publishing of Robert C.W. Ettinger’s bookThe Prospect of Immortality, cryonics began to attract public attention. It was a radical new approach to death and, as such, commanded the particular attention of three professional groups — low temperature biologists, physicians, and morticians.

At the time, the majority opinion of the scientists was that no one should be frozen until there is evidence that successful thawing is possible. Damage to the body resulting from present methods of freezing was considered to be absolutely irreversible — repair of this kind of damage, which includes denaturation of proteins, was believed to be impossible in theory. According to these scientists, a frozen body was a dead body.

In an attempt to evaluate cryonics, the press concentrated on the opinions of scientists. They were supposed to be the experts. Physicians and morticians were largely ignored, although they were the ones who would be most directly involved in the administration of the treatment. The public was apparently more interested in discussing and passing judgment on whether people should be frozen, than in investigating the possibilities of building a practical cryonics program.

Physicians and morticians were extremely wary of cryonics because of the unusual nature of the project, and the responsibility it placed on them. The physician watches over and treats the patient during the critical stages of terminal illness; the mortician handles disposal of the body after the patient is pronounced dead by the physician. Both are obligated by various laws to submit complete records of their work to the state.

Cryonics has added a new dimension to medical treatment. The terminal patient is no longer hanging to the edge of a precipice, certain that if he loses his grip he will fall to destruction. The physician is no longer fighting to prevent the irreversible decline of the patient’s condition. Cryonic suspension makes surrender unnecessary and the continuation of medical treatment mandatory. It is a bridge to the future — an intermediary stage in the development of the individual.

ROLE OF THE MORTICIAN

If cryonic suspension is an extension of medical treatment, it is necessary to re-examine the role of the mortician. He can no longer be considered a mere dispenser of dead bodies, but should begin to assume responsibility for a living or potentially living patient.

This means that the role of the mortician and the funeral profession needs re-evaluation. The concept of a profession based upon death is immoral if an alternative is available. It is time for morticians to become something more than merchants of despair.

Cemeteries are also in need of change. The storage of bodies placed in cryonic suspension is a technologic problem requiring the construction of special facilities. With the possibility of reanimation, the concept of perpetual care assumes profound meaning.

It is likely that the words funeral and cemetery will become anacronisms and disappear from the language. But this does not mean that the funeral directors, embalmers, and cemeterians of today will necessarily be out of work. Cryonic suspension is a radically new kind of medical treatment. It involves techniques that are more familiar to embalmers than to physicians. Whole body perfusion, for example, an essential part of the cryonic suspension treatment is rarely part of a physician’s routine; it is, however, a normal part of embalming procedure. At present, therefore, it is easier for a funeral director to adapt to the demands of cryonic suspension than for a physician.

DEVELOPING A NEW IMAGE

Cryonics offers an opportunity for the funeral director to transform his operation from the useful but depressing servicing of the dead to the heroic treatment of the “living.” To do this he will have to change his entire mode of operation. He will have to dispense with obsolete traditions and socially ingrained practices. Today the funeral profession depends upon the glorification of death — upon the ritualistic trappings of decadent mores: opulent crypts and mausoleums; embroidered caskets, and long, elaborate ceremonies — a necromantic pageant of gloom.

Cryonic suspension is a call to end all this nonsense — to extirpate this kind of wasteful barbarity. It is a call for morticians to join forces with physicians, scientists, and other professionals in order to build a practical operation centered around the preservation of life. This means working in conjunction with laboratories, emergency ambulance teams, and hospitals. It means becoming and integral part of the life extension team…..

Perhaps the funeral industry will lead the way. If so, funeral directors will have to overcome their fear that cryonics is a competitive discipline. It is not. Our only competitor is death.

Radical life extension and information-theoretic death

Immortality as a zero probability of information-theoretic death may not be possible or realistic. A more practical (and less controversial) objective of radical life extension would be to minimize the chance of information-theoretic death. In analogy with Aubrey de Grey’s objective to cure human aging by engineering negligible senescence (SENS), the objective of radical life extension should be to achieve a negligible chance of information-theoretic death. Although curing aging will be necessary, it will be far from sufficient to achieve greatly extended lifespans. Even if aging can be completely abolished by advanced molecular technologies, humans will still be vulnerable to major accidents and homicide. Of course, such events may not necessarily produce acute information-theoretic death, but it can be argued that when humanity becomes more robust and advanced, the nature of accidents (space travel) and murder (“information-theoretic murder”) may become more destructive as well. This raises the question of whether our ability to eliminate “traditional” risk factors can outpace the number and nature of new risks.

Perhaps the most logical proposal to achieve a negligible chance of information-theoretic death is to duplicate a person. If enough duplicates are made, the chance that all of them will die can be made very small. But this raises the issue of whether such duplicates are the same individual. Some people would argue that this strategy does not produce atomistic non-serial immortality. It is also not clear how the question of whether a copy of an individual is the same individual can ever be resolved by empirical observation or logical deduction.

Perhaps the most realistic proposal to reduce the probability of information-theoretic death would be to separate the neurological basis of the person from its body in such a fashion that the risk of complete destruction of the person would become negligible. One such proposal is briefly discussed by Robert Ettinger in his book “Man into Superman.” In Chapter 4 on “Cyborgs, Saucer Men, and Extended Bodies,” Ettinger notes that “the brain need not necessarily be mobile; in fact, it might be better protected and served if fixed at home base. The sensors and effectors–eyes, hands, etc.–could be far away, and even widely scattered, with communication by appropriate signals (not necessarily radio).” Because such an “extended body” would not rely on controversial technologies such as duplication and mind-uploading, the traditional concept of identity can be reconciled with reduced vulnerability. Clearly, this idea could benefit from detailed elaboration and specific proposals.

The prospect of such extended bodies raises an important question about resuscitation of cryonics patients. When should they be revived? Naturally, a necessary condition is the ability to reverse any damaged incurred during the cryopreservation process itself and being able to cure the patient’s terminal disease. Most people who have made cryonics arrangements will add that the general ability to rejuvenate a person should be a necessary condition as well. Because all these conditions require availability of similar technologies, it is doubtful that the choice between these scenarios has practical relevance. A more stringent condition, however, would be a request to only attempt resuscitation if the chance of information-theoretic death is smaller after resuscitation than in long term low temperature care. This option raises an uncomfortable question — are patients in low temperature care safer from information-theoretic death than a person alive today? Answering this questions involves a lot of complicated issues such as the technical feasibility of cryonics, the nature of long term care of cryonics patients, and, ultimately, how one weighs the certainty of being alive today against the probability of a (vastly) longer lifespan in the future.

Will POLST integrate end-of-life care options?

A recent investigation (PDF) of state statutes and legislation affecting the ability to implement a nation-wide program to standardize medical orders reflecting individual patients’ end-of-life treatment preferences was made publicly available by Oregon Health & Science University.

The POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) Paradigm Program was developed in Oregon and strives to increase adherence to patient preferences throughout the health care system by providing immediately actionable medical orders on a “standardized, brightly colored form that provides specific treatment orders for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, medical interventions, artificial nutrition, and antibiotics” (p. 119). Ineed, the POLST form more accurately represents patients’ end-of-life preferences than traditional advance directives and DNR (do not resuscitate) orders because the patient completes it in collaboration with health care professionals and any proxy decision makers.

Many states have implemented (Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, New York, and Wisconsin), or are developing (Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan New Hampshire, and parts of California, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania), a POLST Paradigm Program. However, in several states legislation enacted to create advance directives and DNR protocols may hinder the goal of national implementation. Hickman, et. al interviewed state emergency medical services (EMS) and long-term care (LTC) expert informants and conducted an independent legal review of each state’s (and the District of Columbia’s) law to “identify current state laws that could be potential barriers… (p. 120).”

Because the option to refuse nutrition and hydration can be particularly important for cryonics patients who wish to avoid the pathophysiology induced by a long agonal phase, it is important to note that:

Twenty-three states (45 percent) impose explicit limitations on substituted consent to forgo life-sustaining treatments via their advance directive or default surrogate laws. These limitations either focus on all life-sustaining interventions, including DNR and artificial nutrition and hydration, or only artificial nutrition and hydration.

Some states also require the patient to meet poorly-defined diagnostic preconditions such as “terminal condition,” “permanent unconsciousness,” and “end-stage condition” and/or additional medical certifications and witnessing requirements. DNR protocols in particular were found to frequently require such detailed specifications, medical preconditions, and witnessing requirements.

The POLST Program has significant potential in streamlining end-of-life treatment orders and providing maximum adherence to individual patient preferences. Such a program would be beneficial in assuring that cryonics patients receive appropriate treatment with the goal of reducing agonal pathology and ischemic injury to the brain prior to cryogenic long term care. The authors of the review recommend that:

States interested in developing a POLST Paradigm Program will need to review the compatibility of their existing laws with the POLST Program, and amend or adopt accordingly. States should strive to ensure the POLST form remains simple to use and maintains the goal of helping patients retain control over their end-of-life treatment.

A comprehensive list of potential statutory and legal barriers is provided in p. 126-139 of the report. A sample of the POLST Paradigm Form from Oregon may be found on p. 140. In addition, OHSU provides numerous resources and materials for developing a POLST Paradigm Program.

Immortality and cryonics

In “Philosophical Models of Immortality in Science Fiction,” (in: Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy) John Martin Fischer and Ruth Curl construct a taxonomy for immortality. As can be seen in the figure on the left (click for larger image), only some models of immortality meet the criterion of real personal immortality in which an individual leads an indefinitely long single life (atomistic non-serial immortality). If we leave the issue of solipsistic and non-solipsistic immortality to the side (see David Deutsch on solipsism), the only mature method listed to achieve immortality which is available right now is cryonics. Strictly speaking, cryonics itself does not achieve immortality, but it can enable a person to reach a time when technologies that can produce immortality may be available.

For many people who aspire to become immortal it is doubtful that technologies that can achieve real immortality will be available in their lifetime. But even if all “immortalists” living today would be able to benefit from life extension escape velocity, accidents do happen, and breakthroughs in rejuvenation will not be of benefit to those who are dead. Cryonics (or any form of biostasis) is not just a backup strategy to ensure that an individual will reach a time where immortalist technologies are available, it will remain necessary as long as individuals are at risk of injury that cannot be treated by the prevailing medical technologies of the time.

So far it has been assumed that immortality is possible but there are problems with immortalism. Immortality would mean a zero probability of information-theoretic death and avoidance of the most formidable obstacle of all, the heat death of the universe.

Even individuals who hope to benefit from SENS and have made arrangements for cryonics live in a world with a non-trivial probability of information-theoretic death. Minimizing the probability of information-theoretic death should be the objective of radical life extension — an outlook which itself must be balanced against values such as the quality of life.

Life not death

The idea that cryonics does not involve the freezing of “dead” people but is form of low temperature care to prevent death is almost as old as the idea of cryonics itself. In May 1968, Cryonics Reports, the publication of the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY), writes that recognition of cryonics as a form of treatment to be administered prior to death should help overcome a major psychological impediment to its acceptance and major step forward in redirecting the aim of medicine.

LIFE NOT DEATH

Only scientific research will provide the understanding that will lead to changes in human growth and development. But to bring about these changes it must be applied to human beings. The aim of medicine is to sustain and improve life. It is therefore mandatory for the physician to utilize every known treatment in order to save a patient. Cryonic suspension is a known means of treatment, because freezing a body definitely prevents physical deterioration. The goal of cryonic suspension is preservation and it works!

The fact that resuscitation after freezing is presently impossible is irrelevant if there is the slightest chance that it will be possible in the future. By freezing the body we are stopping the spread of a condition that is certain to destroy it completely. This is a desirable and valid goal.

Perhaps the major psychological impediment to acceptance of the treatment is the concept of freezing after “death.” When we refer to “death” we mean legal death only. Because we believe it may be possible ultimately to revive a patient placed in cryonic suspension, we do not regard that patient as “dead” biologically.

A patient is declared “dead” when the attending physician decides that resuscitation is impossible by any known or available means. Death is not synonymous with absolutely irreversible damage, but only damage that can not be reversed at the time of treatment. Resuscitation technology is improving constantly; conditions that are irreversible today will easily be reversible tomorrow.

It would seem, therefore, that the term “death” should be reserved only for those special circumstances in which it is impossible to place the patient in cryonic suspension. After freezing or supercooling, the patient should be declared “in suspension.” This should be considered a temporary condition of indefinite duration.

The general acceptance of the idea that cryonic suspension is a treatment to be administered prior to “death” not after, would be a major step in crystallizing and redirecting the aim of medicine, saving the lives of many people, and clearing a pathway for an all-out drive to conquer aging.

Cryonics Reports, Vol. 3, No. 5, May 1968

H.P. Lovecraft's "Cool Air" and cryonics

In “Heritage of Horror,” Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi writes that Lovecraft’s short story “Cool Air” “anticipates cryogenic research.” We can forgive Joshi the common mistake of writing “cryogenics” when he means “cryonics,” but how much cryonics is there really in Lovecraft’s “Cool Air?”

“Cool Air” (1926) tells the story of a struggling writer who has secured affordable housing in a converted brownstone on West 14th Street in New York City to devote himself to “dreary and unprofitable magazine work.” Around three weeks pass when an incident in the room above introduces the reader to the character of Dr. Muñoz, whose “complication of maladies” requires an environment of constant cold. When the main character experiences a sudden heart attack, his initial repugnace for the eccentric doctor changes to admiration when Dr. Muñoz is able to offer him relief with a suitable combination of drugs.

Dr. Muñoz, we learn, is the “the bitterest of sworn enemies to death, and had sunk his fortune and lost all his friends in a lifetime of bizarre experiment devoted to its bafflement and extirpation.” He believes that “will and consciousness are stronger than organic life itself, so that if a bodily frame be but originally healthy and carefully preserved, it may through a scientific enhancement of these qualities retain a kind of nervous animation despite the most serious impairments, defects, or even absences in the battery of specific organs.” As the story develops we learn about the doctor’s own (increasing) need for a cold environment to preserve his bodily frame.

Just as in cryonics, Dr. Muñoz employs cold to prevent decomposition. And decreased temperatures confer increased benefits in slowing down the rate of decomposition. In cryonics these benefits of low temperatures are exploited by reducing the temperature of the patient to a point of complete metabolic arrest. At the temperature of liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees Celcius) biological time stands still for all practical purposes.

But what is remarkable about Dr. Muñoz’s approach is that he reaps the metabolic advantages of induced hypothermia without these temperatures preventing his mind from functioning. Dr. Muñoz seems to be unusually “alive” at ultra-profound, or even, high subzero temperatures! Because the EEG of a human brain becomes flat below 20 degrees Celcius, some other process must be involved, perhaps the “incantations of the mediaevalists, since he believed these cryptic formulae to contain rare psychological stimuli which might conceivably have singular effects on the substance of a nervous system from which organic pulsations had fled.”

Unless Dr. Muñoz’s treatment induced profound changes in the body’s biochemistry that allowed it to operate at much lower temperatures, his philosophy of life seems less “materialistic” and coherent than that of Lovecraft’s other enemy of death, Herbert West. Lovecraft never anticipated the practice of cryonics in a systematic fashion, but if Dr. Muñoz and Herbert West could have put their brilliant minds together, the benefits of cold temperatures could have been reaped to induce metabolic arrest in anticipation of future resuscitation of the “dead.”

Aging: The ultimate disease

Cryonics Reports was the publication of the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY). In April 1968 a call to arms to conquer aging was published. This editorial stressed that the problems of aging will not be solved until we decide that we want to conquer aging and extend our lives.

Heart disease and cancer are not isolated phenomena, but merely manifestations of the general progressive degeneration of our bodies. We call this progression aging because it affects our entire organism and is time dependent. It is the ultimate disease.

Read the complete editorial.