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Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Offensive, Just Delusive

Michael Anissimov writes, over at Accelerating Future:
Dale’s post on cryonics, when he talks about the brain being “hamburgerized” -- he is making no sense. Vitrified brains don’t get “hamburgerized”. Dale probably knows about vitrification, so he is just forwarding propaganda because he is politically and morally uncomfortable with cryonics. That is because cryonics symbolizes the affirmation of the individual and potential avoidance of death in a way that can be offensive to hyper-socialistic, here-and-now-and-nothing-else politics. Well, too bad.

I did not quite realize that the designation "hamburgerized" was such a term of art for your modern day cryonicist, that it had the technical force to blur a distinction between frozen as against vitrified brains that is cherished by Robot Cultists of the techno-immortalist sect. Since I think intelligent minds of the human sort are indispensably biological rather than bio-dispensably informational I can't say that I agree that the distinction properly affords Michael his apparent triumphalism on this score as I reckon these things myself. Whatever our differences, I do hope he will be reassured to hear that in describing corpses disposed of by cryonics firms as "hamburgerized" (as against what tends to happen to them in graveyards or crematories) he does not think I mean to suggest by this that they should find their way with pickles and mustard onto a sesame seed bun.

As for the "hyper-socialism" and rabid "here-and-now-ism" of my politics, dude, get a grip. Why be stupid if you don't have to be?


jimf said...

Melody Maxim on Larry Johnson, among other things. (Johnson's book
was eventually published as _Frozen_, not _Shiver_).
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"Experts" and Animal Experimentation in Cryonics

. . .

There seems to be a group of "intellectuals" in cryonics who stick
their noses in a lot of books and come out thinking they are medical
"experts" capable of teaching laymen to perform cutting-edge medical
procedures. I've been told Mr. Federowicz ["Mike Darwin"] is a
self-taught man who has become some sort of "leading expert in
emergency medicine." Being a "respected contributor" to a "critical
care medicine Internet discussion group," and writing a couple of
articles hardly qualifies one as a "leading medical expert."
( I have a serious problem
with laymen who dress themselves up in surgical garb, or white
labcoats, and think they are the peers of medical professionals
and qualified research scientists.

I have spent nearly two years posting on the Cold Filter cryonics
forums, and blogging, about what I believe to be an extreme degree
of incompetence and unethical behavior within the cryonics community,
particularly within the Life Extension Foundation (LEF) funded
organizations, which I believe can now be extended to include Alcor.
There are some specific individuals I have targeted, for various
reasons. Some of those individuals responded to my criticism by
posting blatant lies about me, lies which led to one of them
hiring an attorney who advised him to retract and apologize.

There is another medical professional, Larry Johnson, who seems
to have received much the same treatment as I did, in cryonics.
Mr. Johnson is a paramedic who was an employee of Alcor Life Extension
Foundation, at the time of the Ted Williams cryopreservation scandal.
After Mr. Johnson complained about the activities of Alcor, he
was accused of stealing a non-disclosure form that insiders at
Alcor have told me he said never existed. Interestingly, the
exact same lie was told about me, and I believe that lie was
told by the same person.

I first heard of Larry Johnson, when I was working at Suspended
Animation, Inc., in Boynton Beach, Florida. I was told he was a
liar, and an opportunist just out to "make a buck" on the Ted Williams
scandal. Being new to cryonics, and thinking the people I was
dealing with were honest and sincere, I took them at their word.
Until news of his upcoming book, "Shiver: A Whistleblower's Chilling
Expose of Cryonics and the Truth Behind What Happened to Ted Williams,"
I thought Mr. Johnson was dead, having been told he died in some
sort of mysterious motorcycle accident.

Based on stories I have heard, from my friends in cryonics, (or,
perhaps, I should say my "former friends"), I have the suspicion
that Mr. Johnson is going to make certain accusations against
some of the very individuals I, (without even knowing Mr. Johnson
was alive), have been accusing of imcompetence and unethical behavior.
If Mr. Johnson does name the same individuals I've been criticizing,
will the cryonics community finally sit up and take notice, or
will they simply vilify Mr. Johnson, and me, and continue to believe
in the "experts" who have brought them nothing much more than a
very bad public image?

It's fun to believe Santa leaves the presents under the tree,
David Copperfield can make an airplane disappear, or that
Bernie Madoff is earning high rates of interest on one's money,
but sometimes we have to just admit the "wool is being pulled
over our eyes."

jimf said...

Cryonicists on cryonicists.

Links from my e-mail archive. The post entitled
"The Lone Wolf" is actually mentioned in
Johnson's book (_Frozen_).

Date: 16 Jan 97
From: Michael Darwin
Subject: Selfish cryonicists

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999
From: Michael Darwin
Subject: The Lone Wolf

Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999
From: Driven FromThePack
Subject: They broke Mike Darwin's spirit :-(

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999
From: Mike Darwin
Subject: Those Likeable Cryonicists

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999
Subject: personalities

From: "john grigg"
Subject: My thoughts on Charles Platt's comments...
Date: Wed, 06 Oct 1999

From: Daniel Ust
Subject: Re: Normal Cryonicists
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999

From: "George Smith"
Subject: Flash! Cryonicists are not "normal" lemmings! Gad!
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999
From: Charles Platt
Subject: Normal Cryonicists

jimf said...

Nah, couldn't be true. Could it?
From "Frozen," pp. 332-333:

[Johnson hooked up with Alan Kunzman, the former Riverside County
Coroner's deputy who wrote "MotherMelters."]

While Alan Kunzman was working the Dora Kent case, his informant
told him of a cryonicist "fortress" owned by David Pizer. This
apparently wasn't the Creekside Preserve location near Prescott
I had visited; in some postings online I gathered there had been
an earlier version of Ventureville in the Phoenix area. The informant
claimed thre were stores of survivalist gear buried out there.
Guns, bombs, medical supplies, cryonics equipment, everything they'd
need to hole up prior to Armageddon and prepare for its aftermath.
There were underground bunkers, he said, surrounded by barbed wire
and claymore mines.

Alan read documents that corroborated his informant's claim, describing
how buses had been purchased and modified and then joined together
underground. These were filled with water and supplies, and the entire
area was mined.

Alan's informant also talked about desert locations where he believed
bodies could be found. Teenage runaways and homeless people. Alan's
informant suspected Alcorians and David Pizer's Venturists had
kidnapped "people who wouldn't be missed" and then experimented
on them until they died.

That was a very serious and shocking allegation. However, after
having spent time with Pizer and his followers, I believed it could be true.

In fact, I had heard rumors of the exact same thing while I was
at Alcor in Scottsdale, almost twenty years after Alan's informant
came forward. That was one of the reasons I had wanted to stay
even longer at Alcor, bugging my colleagues, to get proof of
those rumored kidnappings and alleged murders. Hearing that
Alan's informant had the same suspicions was extremely frightening.

Athena Andreadis said...

A while ago, the blogmaster of Centauri Dreams was kind enough to showcase my first article at H+ magazine in which I dissected caloric restriction.

If you follow the exchange between me and someone called kurt9 in the comments section, you will witness another instance of a worshipper at the cryonics altar. When I finally said that this is snake oil that benefits from people's fears, he called my words libelous and offensive. So I asked the obvious simple question:

"Regarding cryonics, let Alcor or any company in that domain freeze something that resembles a human in size and metabolism (say, a young bear) for a few years with their latest technology, then resurrect it. Not cells, not brain slices, not a mouse, not a dog, all of which differ in crucial ways. A bear would still be easier than a human, since bears go through quasi-hibernation. And they won’t have to worry about language or the capacity to discuss platonic ideals or FTL travel. I guarantee you that if this were to happen, the people who did it would shout it to the rooftops. So where is this triumphant announcement?"

Need I say that this was followed by deafening silence?

jimf said...

Athena Andreadis wrote:

> A while ago, the blogmaster of Centauri Dreams was kind
> enough to showcase my first article at H+ magazine in which
> I dissected caloric restriction.

On that blog, the H+ article is quoted:

"All vitamins except B and C are lipid-soluble. If we don’t
have enough fat, our body can’t absorb them. So the excess ends
up in odd places where it may in fact be toxic –- hence the
orange carotenoid-induced tint that is a common telltale sign
of many caloric restriction devotees. Furthermore, if we have
inadequate body fat, not only are we infertile, infection-prone
and slow to heal due to lack of necessary hormones and
cholesterol; our homeostatic mechanisms (such as temperature
regulation) also flag. And because caloric restriction forces
the body to use up muscle protein and leaches bones of minerals,
practitioners can end up with weakened hearts and bone fractures."

Larry Johnson, in _Frozen_, describes his arrival at the airport
in Phoenix for his job interview with Alcor in 2003, thus:

Chapter 2, "Just Another Research Facility Outside Phoenix"
p. 12

"The cold-temperature sciences may very well be a lively
and exciting field to be a part of, but I have seen corpses
'down' in the Nevada desert for hours that had more
color in their faces than ______ ______'s did. He was
sickly looking with sunken eyes and a yellow discoloration
to his skin. He also trembled constantly. The paramedic
in me registered that this man wasn't getting all the
nutrients he needed. ______ _______ seemed like a
hepatitis-positive fish whose gills were flapping their
last gasps on land.

A crudely-drawn sign quivered in _______'s jaundiced hands.
The words resembled my name enough for me to recognize
it, but the sign looked like it had been scribbled by
a disturbed, messy child.

_______'s eyes darted around, as if on the lookout for
danger. He turned slowly, the way a man twenty years older
would, and introduced a man he was with as "our chief
financial officer and vice president, _____ _____."

If meeting _____ ______ made me want to run and fetch the
man a wheelchair and an IV, meeting ______ _______ made
me want to run and fetch a cop. . ."

Very, uh, colorful. ;->

jimf said...

An interesting thread on the Rick Ross Cult Education Forum,
"Cryonics, Cult Movement or Legit Science???"
includes the following remark (followed by an
excerpt from a thread at,64749,page=8
February 04, 2009
Re: Cryonics, Ventureville, survivalism, underground,

Another area where information needs to come out, is that
the Ventureville idea appears to have gone underground, in more
ways than one. There are whispers of building survivalist-style
cryonics facilites literally underground, that are off-grid
and totally self-contained.

They have also commented about how if they can gain influence
by having a enough VOTERS who are cryonicists in a LOCAL COUNTY,
then they can influence the local by-laws to block autopsies.
So that explains the desire to get a large number of cryonicists
living in one small area in Arizona as "Arizona has laws that
are favorable to cryonics".

This is the same principle as Rajneeshville (search Google for
Rajneeshpuram) where followers of Rajneesh took over a town.

Religion is simply being used as a legal/emotional instrument
to implement an ideology and to create a new Immortality sect,
with cryonics being used as a powerful financial/psychological

Guess who gets to be the King?

excerpt QUOTE:

Message #13507

> Date: Sun, 09 Apr 2000
> From: Peter Christiansen
> Subject: Heaven at last
> For centuries theologians have serched for heaven. It appears Dave
> Pizer has found it at last and just an hour away from Phoenix.
> Does this sound like heaven? . . .

and another

February 06, 2009
Cryonics, Mike Darwin, Mathew Sullivan, Melody Maxim,
Jordan Sparks

There are a few people in the cryonics movement who seem to
be able to break out of the Cryonics Talking Points propaganda,
but not many, and they are viciously attacked, and they try
to silence them, which is typical.

Of course, there are a slew of people who are impervious to
facts, and just want to propagate their cryonic memes, like
Mike Darwin, Jordan Sparks (raging against regulation), etc.
Mathew Sullivan seems questionable at best, as he states
things like...cryonics is not a religion... when in FACT,
the main players in cryonics literally are running a registered
religion, one they want to use to avoid autopsies, etc. For
example, they try to recruit people into Venturism, as detailed
in this thread, which was found with a few minutes research.
They also try to conceal that from the public. So when you
see someone like Mathew Sullivan openly stating something that
is not factual, and is deceptive, it raises many questions.
That shows a lack of intellectual honesty.

There is one message board that has some interesting information
from time to time.

The Cold Filter

. . .

jimf said...

Larry Johnson, in _Frozen_, talks about the Venturists
and their property at the Creekside Lodge in Arizona:
(p. 150)"

"The Creekside Lodge was off Arizona Route 69, in the township
of Mayer, outside Prescott, Arizona. Prescott was a pretty little
city known for its hiking trails and Old West history. The
area was greener and hillier than the surrounding desert.

[David] Pizer was one of those prominent Alcorians who believed
some sort of Armageddon was coming. Pizer, however, was actively
preparing for it, building a survivalist community of cryonicists
that was remote and secluded, yet only an hour and a half away
from Alcor's dewars.

From what I gathered that weekend, Pizer's Creekside Lodge was
one part survivalist camp, one part religious cult compound, and
one part travel motel. When the place wasn't closed down for
an Alcor training session or cryonics soiree, families rented
cabins by the night. Since the full name of the place was
the "Creekside Preserve," some Alcorians punned on the double
meaning of the word and called it "The Preserve" (using the
word as it pertained to a natural habitat, and also as it related
to cryonic cold storage).

Pizer and his followers, though, referred to the compound as
Ventureville, which was in itself pretty creepy. Pizer lived there
with his wife and John Grigg, his most dedicated disciple. Grigg
was the manager of the Creekside Lodge, but his main function,
as far as I could tell, was to worship the ground Pizer walked

On his Web site, Pizer referred to himself as "El Patron." Charles
told me he had started out as a car upholstery salesman or something.
After spending a weekend there, though, I believed David Pizer
was basically a cult leader.

Pizer had formed his own religion, originally called the Church
of Venturism, then renamed the Society for Venturism (though it
remained, on the books, a religion). Mike Perry was a big pal of
Pizer's and an ordained minister in the church. He provided
wedding services. This was no joke. I don't think I would
have opted to be married by a man who had removed his own testicles
with a razor and then intentionally severed the nerves to his
penis. Father Mike wasn't someone I'd send my confused teenage
son to for counseling.

Pizer's followers called themselves Venturists. I had met a few
of them at that Alcorian meeting at the Barnes & Noble in
Santa Monica, California. Back then they had struck me as very
intense and focused young men. Whereas some other Alcorians
enjoyed the sci-fi, flying-car mystique of cryonics, the Venturists
took it much more seriously.

Spending time with them on their own turf, so to speak, I realized
that they considered themselves frontiersmen. More than just the
outdoor types, they were survivalists. I saw cases upon cases of
canned food and water stored around Ventureville, and vast
amounts of medical supplies. . .

jimf said...

During my weekend stay, at night, the Venturists gathered around
a fire pit -- after sharing dinner in a large common dining room --
and talked in antigovernment slurs about federal law enforcement
and how President Bush was too soft on crime. American society
was breaking down, they said. Some explained to me that they
felt fortunate to have found David Pizer, the great man who would
lead them into a new civilization after this one inevitably
fell into ruins. Several Venturists spoke to me in clear
terms of preparing for a "holocaust." In truth, these men scared
me. They struck me as malcontents looking for something to
belong to, loners looking for a father figure and, God help them,
they though they'd found it in David Pizer.

The Venturists had a Web site that I came across later. In their
"Bylaws" section, one of the "primary objectives and purposes"
they listed was "To furnish a friendly, supportive community for
persons who wish to act rationally to bring about the abolition
of death and the establishment of a free society of immortals."

Elsewhere, in their Web site's "About Us" section, they wrote
that they advocated respect and love for others, yet they were
"willing to defend others against danger. We must be ready to
put our lives on the line if necessary (as in the case, for
example, of a physical threat to a cryonics patient.)"

In conversation, they explained their beliefs to me a little
more aggressively. Venturism is essentially the pursuit of
physical immortality, they told me around that fire pit.
Since science and medicine could not guarantee physical
immortality yet, the Venturists turned to cryonics to suspend
them until medical technology caught up. To them, cryonic
suspension was the means by which they would live long enough --
that is, forever -- to bring about the advanced society
that their leader, Pizer, had envisioned. In my experience,
Alcorians were often arrogant, believing themselves to be
the smart ones. Talking to these young men, though, it seemed
that while many Alcor members hoped for a second life after
cryo-suspension, these Venturists expected it. Out of all
humanity, they believed they were the few who deserved
immortality, that it was their due. They were the chosen.

Jerry Lemler always seemed to be seeking followers but was
never charismatic enough to draw them. Pizer was another
story. Frankly, it terrifies me still to think what the
man seemed capable of. Pizer was one of the Alcorian leaders,
Charles told me, originally arrested during the Dora Kent
homicide investigation.

David Pizer pioneered a cryonics trust fund in which he was
leaving his money to his future self. If it worked out, with
interest, he'd have billions of dollars waiting for him
when he reanimated and he'd be, according to what he told
the _Wall Street Journal_, "the richest man in the world." . . .

jimf said...

Being on David Pizer's property gave me the creeps. There was
a real quaint, rustic, log-cabin feel to the place but at
the same time there were the stores of food, water, and
medical supplies that pointed to some darker preparedness.
When I mentioned the cases of food and water, Charles raised
his eyebrows and said, "Have you seen the weapons?"

These were the hardest-core true believers of the entire
hard-core cryonicist bunch. After seeing them fawn over El Patron,
I believe that to say they worshipped Pizer would not be
an exaggeration. And with what I would call a raging Messiah
complex, Pizer happily encouraged it. Pizer carried himself
like the father of a large family. His word was law. He
spoke with an air of infallibility and the Venturists hung
on his every word. When I dealt personally with the Branch
Davidians in Waco, I saw people under the control of a charismatic
leader, ready to kill or die for him. I saw that same look
in the eyes of the Venturists.

Like many other cryonicist leaders, Pizer dabbled in writing
science fiction. He had self-published a novel about a
man diagnosed with a terminal illness who was cryonically preserved
and then reanimated in the twenty-second century. Charles
told me that, sometimes, Pizer sat his followers down around
the fire and read his short stories to them. It made me
think that if only these zealous cryonics leaders had achieved
commercial success as writers, maybe they would have laid off
the dark obsessions, the way Hitler might never have caused
so much horrendous damage to humanity if he had found early
success as a painter.

In my estimation, after having seen both places beforehand,
Ventureville was another Waco waiting to happen. The only
difference between David Pizer and David Koresh was that
Pizer claimed his religion was based on science. Underneath it
all, though, it felt to me like his main objective was
simply to have militant, dedicated followers hanging on his
every word and command.

And then there was Pizer's personal fortune. He could fund
virtually anything his mind cooked up. Imagine was David Koresh
could have done with a $10 million bankroll.

When that weekend training session finished, I was relieved
to get the hell out of Ventureville.

jimf said...

> Pizer and his followers. . . referred to the compound as
> Ventureville. . . Pizer lived there with his wife and
> John Grigg, his most dedicated disciple. Grigg
> was the manager of the Creekside Lodge, but his main function,
> as far as I could tell, was to worship the ground Pizer walked
> on.

And interview with John Grigg, by Bruce J. Klein:

jimf said...

> . . . interviewed by Bruce J. Klein. . .

Oh, and don't miss the movie, "Exploring Life Extension"

"Traveling more than 25,000 miles by car to 15 states,
Bruce Klein has interviewed more than 80 individuals,
including the following. . ."

Impertinent Weasel said...

I don't want to comment on this link except to say that it was written by John Grigg in 1999, it answers every question I ever had about why people would be attracted to cryonics, and it disturbs me greatly.