Freezing Your Head May Anger Your Wife

By Kyle Munkittrick | July 9, 2010 2:43 pm

thaw when is future plzConsidering cryonics? Before you sign up to freeze yourself — or just your brain! the whole thing (you) might be overkill–after you die so that you can be unfrozen and then un-deadened in the future, you might want to consider your current relationships. As it turns out, a lot of those who plan to go into cryonic suspension when they are “deanimated” have trouble with their loved ones, primarily wives. In Kerry Howley’s NYT Magazine piece “Until Cryonics Do We Part” about Robin Hanson, a George Mason University economics professor and forward thinker, and Peggy Jackson, a hospice worker and Hanson’s wife, we get a glimpse of the tension wanting to live forever can cause. You see, Hanson wants to cryonically preserve his brain, and Jackson thinks that idea is a bit absurd.

And she isn’t the only one:

Among cryonicists, Peggy’s reaction might be referred to as an instance of the “hostile-wife phenomenon,” as discussed in a 2008 paper by Aschwin de Wolf, Chana de Wolf and Mike Federowicz.“From its inception in 1964,” they write, “cryonics has been known to frequently produce intense hostility from spouses who are not cryonicists.” … Premonitions of this problem can be found in the deepest reaches of cryonicist history, starting with the prime mover. Robert Ettinger is the father of cryonics, his 1964 book, “The Prospect of Immortality,” its founding text. “This is not a hobby or conversation piece,” he wrote in 1968, adding, “it is the struggle for survival. Drive a used car if the cost of a new one interferes. Divorce your wife if she will not cooperate.”

Thankfully, Hanson and Jackson don’t seem to be heeding Ettinger’s advice. When asked to speculate why it might be that so many don’t see cryonics as a good decision, Hanson described cryonics as analogous to a “a one-way ticket to a foreign land.”

I suppose that works, but let’s flesh that analogy out a little bit more. Cryonics is like buying a ticket to a foreign land to which no one has been and may not even exist; in a vehicle that, if it stops working for just a couple of hours at any point on its indeterminately long journey, will kill (for real this time) everyone on board; all with the hopes that when you arrive the people of the foreign land will have the benevolence and the ability to not only bring you back to life, but also reverse the damage caused by rotting and freezing as well as the terminal issues that caused your death in the first place. Whew. Oh, and the ticket costs $100,000 and your current quality of life is reduced because you have to start paying for the ticket now.

You know what? I can see how that might strain my current friendships and/or sanity. You guys go on with out me. I’m going to keep holding out for Aubrey de Grey and the SENS Foundation to keep me from dying in the first place. Come ooooon, resveratrol.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Aging (or Not)

Comments (14)

  1. Chris

    consider also the perspective of the future potential defrosters. why would they want to bring someone back from the past? you’d have to be pretty awesome, and not just a rich, inconsiderate jerk, for future generations with advanced technologies to want you around.

  2. It seems to me that the fight is over money, not Cryonics. I think that I would have a better chance if they chopped me up into a few thousand pieces, put me into small glass vials encased in tree sap via Jurassic Park and blasted off into space.

  3. Brian Too

    Isn’t cryonics an attempt to cheat death by, um, cheating? Which also leads to major credibility problems?

    1). They won’t freeze you until you’re already dead. The concern being, once you’re frozen, you’re not only “frozen dead”, you’re probably “dead-dead”. In other words the freezing process is likely to kill you in a way that’s irreversible (massive, pervasive cellular damage due to ice crystals);

    2). In the improbable eventuality that technology will allow reanimation in the future, who will care enough about you to revive you? Grave robbing is far more likely than a benevolent and deep pocketed rescuer!

    Star Trek TNG had a great episode on the likely outcome of a successful cryogenics reanimation. Most of the revived were shocked, ill-prepared, and out of place in the future. Everyone they ever knew was dead. The world had moved on and they hadn’t. Even their education was centuries out of date. And that was likely a best-case scenario…

  4. Nekura

    If you think the issue of Mexican Immigrants is hot, imagine immigrants from the past…

  5. kurt9

    consider also the perspective of the future potential defrosters. why would they want to bring someone back from the past?

    This comment is often made by those who do not understand the nature of people and organizations involved in cryonics.

    We don’t expect “others” to bring us back. Cryonics organizations are membership based, with new members signing up on a continual basis. There is no reason to assume this will change in the future. It will be the future members of those organizations that will take “off the shelf” bionanotechnology in, say 2150, and use it to bring back those already in suspension. IN other words, it will be our own people, those with beliefs and attitudes like our own that will bring us back.

  6. I’ve noticed that people expect, and demand, a technological solution to the Deepwater Horizon emergency in the Gulf. We wouldn’t respect anyone who dismisses the efforts to find this solution as “ego-tripping,” “denial,” “poorly informed techno-utopian speculation” and other terms I’ve heard applied to cryonics.

    Yet each of us has an analogous emergency going on in our bodies which will kill us.

    I don’t see a distinction between the urgency of finding Deepwater Horizon solutions and the urgency of finding solutions to the kinds of problems cryonics tries to deal with. Both sets of solutions will make the world a better place.

  7. barbara

    AFTER ALL, AS EACH PERSON IS ENTITLED TO HIS OR HER OWN WANTS,WHO ARE WE TO TO CONDEMN,DESPITE THIS GENERATION OR THE NEXT IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.
    WHO KNOWS MAYBE BY RELIVING THE FUTURE HE MAY BE ABLE TO TEACH A THING OR TWO.
    AFTER ALL I WOULD LOVE TO MEET MY FAMILY MEMBER 7 GENERATIONS BEFORE AND LEARN EVERYTHING THERE WAS TO LEARN ,AND MAYBE AFTER REINCARNATED SOME OF US MAY BE ABLE TO MEET HIM IN A NEW DIMENSION WHETHER EARTH OR ABOVE.HAVE AN OPEN MIND YOU GUYS, ITS HOW WE LEARN.AS FOR THE WIFE,IF THERE IS TRUE
    UNDERSTANDING THERE WILL BE A COMPROMISE BUT AFTER YEARS OF MARRIAGE 90%
    WOULD BE CONVENIENCE.

  8. Bev

    I read short stories and novels by Allen Steele. He wrote realistic stories and hard edge. “Working for Mr. Chicago” (1995) is a terrific short story with the “frozen head.”

  9. enoonsti

    You: “I’m going to keep holding out for Aubrey de Grey and the SENS Foundation to keep me from dying in the first place.”

    Me: Last time I checked, Aubrey won’t be able to help out with gunshot wounds. Perhaps this is why Aubrey supports cryonics, too ;)

  10. What the point revived in the future alone?

  11. real nice posted, pls keep it up mr

  12. Thinking outloud

    For those that believe after death the soul leaves the body. What happens if Cryonics works? Will the soul be sucked back into the brain/body ?

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