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Temi A: Different Types of Deaths

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There are different types of deaths. No, I do not mean this metaphorically, but literally.

I was having a discussion with my employer the other day and he informed me that a 2-year old girl in Thailand is the youngest person so far to have undergone the cryonics procedure. (Please scroll to the bottom for terms I have pilfered off Wikipedia to aid understanding). I was astounded. Why would a parent make such a decision regarding their baby? I did a little bit of research and hers is a sad story.

Two years old with severe brain cancer and she had undergone at least 27 surgeries due to that. When she eventually died, her parents decided to preserve her brain in the hope that in the future there will be a cure for it, and also a new body (?) as the report does not say her body was preserved.

Here is my first problem with Cryonics. I once read a book and there was this quote “we all owe death a debt”. Sometimes it is unfair when you lose loved ones in bewildering circumstances and tragic ones too as the case of this young girl but what becomes of her? Let us say a cure is found by 2070 and she is awoken, she might well be all alone in the world bereft of friends and family. Alcor is the pioneering company that undertakes Cryonics and it prides itself on being a “family” and one of its mission statements is to help people reintegrate into the society, but will that be enough? I decided to go through Alcor’s website with a fine toothed comb.

I was informed that only “independent and intelligent people” have the presence of mind to choose to be preserved as they live life to the fullest and will want to continue the same. They also tell you that cryonics can be paid for by your life insurance; full body preservation is worth $200,000 whilst the brain is a mere $80,000. Yes, just your everyday run of the mill insurance policy huh? However, another part of me, the very gullible part that will buy a tin of cat food based on an inviting advert for cat food on TV starts to think – Why not? I do want to see what the future looks like as I have always wondered. For a minute I forget that I have termed this procedure a horror movie waiting to happen and I began to imagine futuristic Temi.

But that did not last long. I am a firm Dualist. I believe that the human is made of mind and body. Body and soul, the “ghost in the machine” and what have you. Does your soul stand idly by and twiddles its thumb as you hang upside down in Alcor’s freezer?

I have never been able to accept the Monist argument that the sum of my existence begins and ends with my brain. The brain is just that, a physical organ. It cannot account for the myriad experiences I get and feel that are not logical and have no basis in reality. For this and various other reasons, I have rejected Monism. On the other hand,

I also believe that there is Universal energy everyone keys into like the movie Avatar. (Do you see how I am the architect of my own troubled mind?) Energy is physical. Have you ever concentrated your thoughts on someone and the person either calls you or text you almost immediately? Yes. That is what I am talking about. Therefore, it makes sense to some extent that when the “dead” people are resurrected, they can resume life normally to the degree that they can be a part of this Universal energy again; unless a soul is required to do so. I don’t know. This is too much philosophy for me, and I am confused as well.

Another interesting thing I found out is that this procedure is not completely governed by law. Can you blame the law makers? I started to imagine various possibilities of the future. Would we have a different category of “people” as distinct from people born by natural birth? Who governs how many times you can preserve yourself. You have to admit that it will be unfair to go on an endless stream of cryopreservation just because you can afford it. If the government gives a limit, how will they arrive at this number? What if you owe a debt, will contracts include the possibility of your resurrection so that your property can be inherited by your heirs, but your debts will be solely yours to resume and pay off on resurrection? Oh the fun I have had imagining various scenarios of this kind.

In marriage, would death truly do you part? What if the government decides its top and best officials should be preserved as well to continuously govern the world? Would we have a new and improved system of “Democracy”? Oh the questions! And it does not stop there. I have deliberately left out faith from this as I want you to decide and comment as to how this affects your faith if it does at all. Do you think it is a horror movie waiting to happen as well because Alcor may truly own the world in 100 years to come? Do you agree with it? If you had the means would you consider it? Do you have any possible solution to any of my myriad questions and musings? A bit heavy but it had to be done I’m afraid.

**Terms (Courtesy of Wikipedia, Alcor website and free online dictionary)

1: The term Information-theoretic death relates to physical damage to the brain and the loss of information. It is the destruction of the information within a human brain to such an extent that recovery of the original person is theoretically impossible by any physical means…The term information-theoretic death is intended to mean death that is absolutely irreversible by any technology, as distinct from clinical death and legal death

2: Cryonics (from Greek kryos meaning icy cold) is the low-temperature preservation of humans who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, in the expectation they can be healed and resuscitated in the future using more advanced medical technologies. Cryopreservation of people is not reversible with current technology, and is today only practiced following legal death.

3: Dualism: In philosophy of mind, dualism is a view about the relationship between mind and matter which claims that mind and matter are two ontologically separate categories. Mind-body dualism claims that neither the mind nor matter can be reduced to each other in any way

4: Monism: The doctrine that mind and matter are formed from, or reducible to, the same ultimate substance or principle of being.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Howard Sandler

15 Comments

  1. Swizzey

    October 26, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    If I go by what my Bible says, then its very safe to say that cryonics is no different from the excrement that comes out of the male cow’s anus.

    • Max More

      October 28, 2015 at 12:32 am

      And what DOES you bible say about cryonics? Let me give you a hint: NOTHING. Cryonics is simply an extension of emergency medicine. If you do anything at all to delay being dead, you should have no problem with cryonics. Or perhaps you are selfishly looking to grab your heavenly reward rather than having more time to save souls on Earth?

  2. Yrimu

    October 26, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Hahaha. Your comment is too funny.
    After reading this technical piece, it took me a while to get what you meant by” excrement ftom male cows anus”

    Otherwise, this article is not for me.

  3. Wale

    October 26, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    I hope this girl is not a stock photo – she is so beautiful.

  4. Krasavitsa

    October 26, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Oh what a very interesting read! I too believe in the Universal Self and that ALL creatures tap energy from it and are manifestations of that Self. That being said, I believe once we die, our Energy, call it Soul if you will, returns to that Self. In a nut shell, Alcor is full of crap. They’re just deceiving people into paying for services that will NEVER be experienced. You can’t trap a soul in the brain… All their customers will be doing, is paying for their bodies or brains to be refrigerated. What if before the year 2070, there’s a world-wide black-out and the frozen bodies and brains decompose? Who’s gonna sue Alcor? Or what if, the company goes out of business before then? Do the descendants of the frozen ones take them and preserve them in their freezers??? And if they somehow bring that 2yr old back, in whose body will they put her brain?? Besides the brain has been severed off from the spinal cord; how will they find a matching spinal cord? And nerve roots? It’s not just enough to “preserve” the brain. Oh now I’ll have a headache! Soooo many questions!

    • whocares

      October 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Chop knuckles!!! So do i!! Universal energy that it. Cryogenics is soooo freaky. If you read the procedure, its so invasive and when you preserve the brain, they decapitate the head! Call me shortsighted but I just cant wrap my head around it enough to approve. I absolutely agree. And ooh the future legal problems. I had to laugh at owing a debt in perpetuity. loool. Boy, long thing!

    • Krasavitsa

      October 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      @ whocares. *chopping knuckles* Trust me it’s the founder(s) of Alcor who is/are shortsighted and not you as it’s clearly obvious they have no knowledge of Neurology or Neuroanatomy

    • Max More

      October 28, 2015 at 12:35 am

      What happens to the soul of people who have been clinically dead for hours? (It happens — look it up.) What happens the souls of people conceived via IVF? If souls are non-physical, they don’t exist in space and time. They should have no more trouble with decades than with hours or years. Don’t let your interpretation of religion kill you.

  5. Bim

    October 26, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    i do agree with the horror movie waiting to happen part..another loop hole i noticed was that, they did not clearly state the process for revival…when the technology for reviving this brains does emerge, how will they create a body to put the brain in? will they have living people (born by natural birth) donate their bodies to reactivate this brains???

    I also think Science as a whole tends to over step its bounds when it decides to play God.

  6. ao

    October 27, 2015 at 1:07 am

    I see nothing wrong with the parents of the deceased child preserving her head (brain). Alcor gives the option of preserving the head (brain) or the whole body. The head is cut off from the body (in case anyone was wondering). I have considered cryonic preservation for myself and my family. FYI, Cryonics is just a part of the often ignored (and scoffed at), but slowly growing and evolving indefinite life extension movement. Many non-believers poo poo the idea but I firmly believe that it is just a matter of time until the necessary technologies emerge to eliminate death caused by aging and other diseases such as cancer. (Yes, I believe that aging is a disease that ultimately leads to the death of all those that managed to survive to old age.)
    Given the level of medical technological innovations that we enjoy it is just a matter of time that we learn how to cure people of what killed them. I am a futurist and believe that within the next 50 to 100 years researchers will crack the codes on how humans can stop or severely slow the aging process and diseases that are normally associated with aging (cancer, dementia, diabetes). In other words, death caused by “aging” and its co-occurring disorders will be eliminated or managed to the point that it will no longer be a cause of death. This is such an exciting field and the research that is being done now is so exciting: from 3D organs to mind uploading.

    • aj

      October 27, 2015 at 1:54 am

      so u don’t want to die or u are just curious about the future?

    • Tosin

      October 27, 2015 at 4:48 am

      at first, all this ‘eternal life’ research was too ‘crazy California’ for me.
      nowadays, i’m like, that’s what research is about – pushing the boundaries. and the boundaries will be pushed. yes, Lord!

    • Tosin

      October 27, 2015 at 4:50 am

      and totally felt Avatar too.

  7. Fifi

    October 27, 2015 at 3:02 am

    This just looks like the movie ‘ demolition man’

  8. Steve Hopkins

    October 27, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Ah, Temi. I find your essay well-thought and well expressed, and I more or less agree with you. Notions of spirituality aside, a lot can and probably will happen between the big freeze and the time one expects to be woken up and reconstituted as one’s bad younger self. Me, I’ll take my chances in a hole in the ground. But not without leaving you with a song. It’s for anyone, religious, skeptical, “”dualist” or just inordinately hopeful, who is considering his or her mortality. While, as with religion, I wouldn’t depend on its message, it can make you feel a tad better, and doesn’t cost 200 grand. soundcloud.com/biff-thuringer/live-forever

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