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ciphergoth comments on Normal Cryonics - Less Wrong

59 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 19 January 2010 07:08PM

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Comment author: ciphergoth 07 February 2010 08:53:58PM *  14 points [-]

I've written a 2000 word blog article on my efforts to find the best anti-cryonics writing I can:

A survey of anti-cryonics writing

Edit: now a top level article

Comment author: orthonormal 07 February 2010 11:08:18PM 7 points [-]

An excellent post.

I have one issue, though. It may be poor form to alter your opening paragraph at this stage, Paul, but I'd appreciate it if you did. While it makes a very good 'hook' for those of us inclined to take cryonics seriously, it means that posting a link for other friends (as I'd otherwise do) will have the opposite effect than it should. (I am fairly sure that a person inclined to be suspicious of cryonics would read the first few lines only, departing in the knowledge that their suspicions were confirmed.)

An introduction that is at first glance equivocal would be a great improvement over one that is at first glance committed to the anti-cryonics viewpoint, for that reason.

Comment author: ciphergoth 07 February 2010 11:17:11PM 0 points [-]

Thanks!

I am inclined to agree, but I can't work out how. I found it pretty difficult to get started writing that, and that way seemed to work. If you can give me any more specific ideas on how best to fix it, I might well try. Have saved first version in version control!

Comment author: Morendil 07 February 2010 11:32:11PM *  1 point [-]

Suggested edits:

  • turn the opening sentence into a question, "Is cryonics pseudoscience ?"
  • change "is nothing more than wishful thinking" into "could be nothing more", etc.
  • change "If you don't believe that, you can read" into "This is the point of view argued in"
  • strike "This makes me sad, because", so the sentence starts "To my naive eyes"

This way your hook is neutral enough to draw everyone in.

ETA: I would be careful with the £25/mo quote, until and unless you get a quote from Rudi Hoffman or elsewhere. At least mention that the pricing is one of those logistical issues you've promised to cover in further posts.

Comment author: JGWeissman 07 February 2010 11:25:28PM 1 point [-]

Suggested edit:

Cryonics is controversial. Critics claim the idea that we could freeze someone today in such a way that future technology might be able to re-animate them is nothing more than wishful thinking on the desire to avoid death, dressed up in scientific-sounding language. Criticisms include ...

Comment author: ciphergoth 08 February 2010 12:18:50AM 0 points [-]

I did something like this in the end.

Comment author: orthonormal 07 February 2010 11:36:52PM 0 points [-]

The Feynman anecdote actually seems to me like the best place to begin, both for literary interest and for a clearer introduction. If you started there, you could take the rest of that paragraph almost unchanged (inserting the parenthetical definition of cryonics from your current first paragraph) before introducing the skeptics' links and continuing as before?

Comment author: ciphergoth 07 February 2010 11:47:27PM 0 points [-]

Just had a go, but I can't quite make it work; the skeptic's links seem hard to introduce.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 07 February 2010 11:15:51PM 0 points [-]

Agreed.

Comment author: Kevin 07 February 2010 09:40:08PM 2 points [-]

Top-level post it

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 07 February 2010 11:16:10PM *  7 points [-]

Me too. This is not just about cryonics. It is not remotely just about cryonics. It is about the general quality of published argument that you can expect to find against a true contrarian idea, as opposed to a false contrarian idea.

Comment author: whpearson 07 February 2010 11:39:15PM 1 point [-]

I now want to go and look for the pre-chemistry arguments against alchemy.

I don't think that cryonics is inherently wrong, but equally I don't think we have a theory or language of identity and mind sufficiently advanced to refute it.

Comment author: gwern 31 July 2011 09:27:03PM *  2 points [-]

You know, I did a lot of reading about alchemy when I was younger, and when I try to think back to contemporary criticisms (and there was a lot, alchemy was very disreputable), they all seem to boil down to 1) no alchemists have yet succeeded despite lavish funding, and they are all either failures or outright conmen like Casanova; and 2) alchemical immortality is overreaching and against God.

#1 is pretty convincing but not directly applicable (cryonics since the 1970s has met its self-defined goal of keeping patients cold); #2 strikes me as false, but I also regard the similar anti-cryonics arguments as false.

Comment author: ciphergoth 07 February 2010 11:37:42PM 1 point [-]

I've posted a link to my blog at the moment; do you think it's better that the entire article be included here?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 08 February 2010 01:24:04AM 1 point [-]

yep

Comment author: ciphergoth 08 February 2010 08:39:08AM 0 points [-]

Done.