[extropy-chat] Biochemistry text challenges students to find biological fallacy in cryonics

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Mon Oct 31 15:44:22 UTC 2005

On 10/31/05, Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
> I just stumbled across this question and the answer to it
> in a text _Biochemistry_ 3rd Edition by Voet and Voet
> published 2004.
> I found it interesting that a standard university biochemistry
> text was aware of cryonics and addressing students minds
> to it in this way.
> Chap 22, no. 14.
> "Certain unscrupulous operators offer, for a fee, to freeze
> recently deceased individuals in liquid nitrogen until medical
> science can cure the disease from which they died. What
> is the biological fallacy of this procedure?"
> The answer given:
> "Death is essentially an irreversible loss of order. On dying,
> cells loose their order on the molecular level by loosing their
> ion gradients, enzymatically digesting their macromolecular
> components, breaking down their membranes, etc. Thus,
> although cells and the organisms they comprise appear to
> change little on dying, the microscopic changes which occur
> are profound and cannot be reversed by simply "curing" the
> condition that caused death".
It can be frustrating to see such ignorance from acknowledged
"authorities", and irritating to see the bias that accompanies the

How to turn this to a positive?

Q: Certain organizations offer, for a fee, to freeze individuals as
quickly and non-destructively as possible following the legally
defined moment of death, with the intention of halting further
biological breakdown until technologies are developed that may reverse
the damage caused by both the preservation process and the original

Notwithstanding the cultural and legal impediments, what are the
various modes of biological breakdown that must be addressed by these

A: ...

And then you "simply" make this additional viewpoint readily available
to the students...

But seriously, I think an effective general approach to making
progress on these issues is by raising awareness through increasingly
shared knowledge platforms.  The days of "authoritative" textbooks are

- Jef

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list