Cryonics (from Greek κρύος kryos- meaning icy cold), sometimes incorrectly labelled as Cryogenics, is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future.
- I wish it were possible...to invent a method of embalming drowned persons, in such a manner that they might be recalled to life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But... in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection...
- Benjamin Franklin, letter to Jacques Dubourg, April 1773, as quoted in Benjamin Franklin: The First Civilized American, p. 235
- The act of freezing a dead body and storing it indefinitely on the chance that some future generation may restore it to life is an act of faith, not science.
- Cryonics might be a suitable subject for scientific research, but marketing an unproven method to the public is quackery.
- National Council Against Health Fraud president William T. Jarvis, Ph.D. Source: Jarvis WT. Quotation in Butler K. A Consumer's Guide to "Alternative" Medicine. Amherst, N.Y., 1992, Prometheus Books.
- Cryonics is a legitimate science-based endeavor that seeks to preserve human beings, especially the human brain, by the best technology available. Future technologies for resuscitation can be envisioned that involve molecular repair by nanomedicine, highly advanced computation, detailed control of cell growth, and tissue regeneration.
With a view toward these developments, there is a credible possibility that cryonics performed under the best conditions achievable today can preserve sufficient neurological information to permit eventual restoration of a person to full health.
The rights of people who choose cryonics are important, and should be respected.
- Scientists' Open Letter on Cryonics, signed by 61 notable scientists
- I feel pleased with the rate of progress of interest in life-extension that is now developing. I am more concerned about the rate of growth of interest in cryonics — since this is the "first aid" which may be necessary for some of us to reach the time when biological aging is no longer a part of normal human life. The decision to include cryonics in a program of life extension requires a great stride beyond the more usual methods of safe and health-conscious living. Cryonics may be an advanced form of medicine that can greatly extend lifespan. Cryonics is not anti-religious or a means to prevent ultimate death. I hope that those who deeply care about their lives and the lives of their loved-ones will increasingly learn to be open to the life-saving potential of cryonics and other practical strategies for survival — and not be distracted by fantasies of physical immortality.
- Cryonics is the second worst thing that can happen to you.
- We’ll look back on this 50 to 100 years from now — we’ll shake our heads and say, “What were people thinking? They took these people who were very nearly viable, just barely dysfunctional, and they put them in an oven or buried them under the ground, when there were people who could have put them into cryopreservation." I think we’ll look at this just as we look today at slavery, beating women, and human sacrifice, and we’ll say, “this was insane — a huge tragedy."
- Tantalisingly, later next century and beyond, our transhuman descendants may well enjoy lifelong (super-)happiness and quasi-eternal youth. By contrast, most if not all early twenty-first century humans are destined to crumble away and perish. If implemented, however, a stopgap regime of opt-out cryonics, and opt-in cryothanasia, can potentially defang death for secular rationalists, and even offer a backup insurance policy for religious believers. Therefore political lobbying for regulatory change should be a priority. If successful, then visiting absent loved ones in the cryonics tank can become the norm rather than the exception.