For a change, here’s something that I hope those of you who disagree with me on cryonics can agree on — I think you would all agree that criticism of cryonics should be honest.
Stephen Barrett, M.D.’s QuackWatch (“Your Guide to Quackery, Health Fraud, and Intelligent Decisions”) has a page about cryonics, which places it firmly on the “quack” side. As evidence, they quote Michael Shermer’s Nano Nonsense and Cryonics:
Cryonicists believe that people can be frozen immediately after death and reanimated later when the cure for what ailed them is found. To see the flaw in this system, thaw out a can of frozen strawberries. During freezing, the water within each cell expands, crystallizes, and ruptures the cell membranes. When defrosted, all the intracellular goo oozes out, turning your strawberries into runny mush. This is your brain on cryonics.But as regular readers know, this paragraph is entirely erroneous when it comes to cryonics practice. Shermer says as much himself.
I have sent six emails to Barrett and received two replies. The first was one of the many emails I sent to critics of cryonics asking for further reading; I accidentally lost track of who I had sent this to and so sent two such emails. Neither received a response. I later sent him a courtesy email advising him of my survey (since it mentions him), which garnered the response (in full) “Sorry, I am not interested in further involvement in your project”. I replied immediately to thank him for his time.
I then thought I should mention what Shermer had to say about the quote he uses on his website, and sent an email this morning linking to it. The response was (in full) “Kindly stop pestering me. ” I replied to that promising to “write up the outcome of this conversation” and send no further emails. (Of course, this means I now can’t alert him to this blog post — I should have thought of that before I sent it!)
Does anyone else think that using a quote to discredit cryonics which the author himself agrees is entirely misleading, and giving such short shrift to a brief polite email pointing this out, isn’t really in the spirit of scientific skepticism at its best?