Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Cryonicists Getting Cool Reception These Days
Over the last few weeks, Larry Johnson and Scott Baldyga's book Frozen has drawn an enormous amount of unattractive attention to the ghoulish parodies of "medical practice" and "scientific practice" performed by the Techno-Immortalist True Believers in the so-called cryonics movement.
If you find yourself, somehow, in a creepy subculture as marginal as that of the cryonicists, it is probably easy to tell yourself that there's no such thing as bad press, but David Letterman's bad cryonicists Top Ten List probably didn't help our intrepid Techno-Immortalists mainstream their scam particularly, even if millions watched.
Truth be told, death-denialism is hardly confined to foolish cryonicist cranks and no doubt the pampered perpetual adolescents of the West who are presently freaking out to discover the details of a "neuro-suspension" (there just isn't a pretty way to get a human head into a cooler) would no doubt be comparably squeamish about the details of more conventional practices of cremation, burial, autopsy, embalming, and so forth.
I daresay the tales of megalomania, pseudo-science, hucksterism, and sociopathy in the community of cryonicists is more damaging in the long term to this branch of Robot Cultists (many of whom expect sooper-nanobots to build them robot bodies into which their hopelessly hamburgerized brains will be "revived" in The Future while others expect to their organismic minds to be "uploaded" into a pseudo-spiritualized cyberspatial paradise as immortal post-organismic data-streams in The Future) than the actual unpretty details of corpse disposal involved.
I personally don't think that the elaborate, infantile, and pointless death-denialism of the cryonicists is really that much more irrational than the dumb denialism that built the Pyramids or drives millions into churches on Sundays for a chance at a fluffy cloud-berth in Heaven or whatever. But it is true that institutionalized religious faiths tend to support their communities in more socially substantial ways than the consumer-model of cryonicist Death-Eating seems to manage, and it is also important to remember that most of the great religious traditions have done, however imperfectly, an enormous amount of the indispensable work hitherto of socializing human beings into the more empathetic and long-term thinking on which civilization depends (along, I should add, with all the authoritarian patriarchal war-mongering conformist damage they have also done from my personal perspective as a cheerful cosmopolitan atheist, democrat, aesthete, feminist, and pervert), civilizational work and support that is even less in evidence among the Randroids, transhumanists, would-be Heinleinian archetypes, and glorified boner-pill salesmen who throng the ranks of Techno-Immortalist subcultures. And I have to say that it really is especially disappointing, even pathetic, to find so many folks who pride themselves on their rejection of traditional supernatural religiosity falling nonetheless for faith-based pseudo-scientific hucksters peddling techno-longevity and pharmacological fountains of youth and spiritualized tech-heavenly virtual realities.