It's amazing how popular being alive is. By the way people act you'd think being dead is a bad thing. Wait. Being dead is a bad thing. In fact it's the single worst thing that's ever going to happen to you. Why wouldn't you want to avoid it, or at least undo it at a later date? Modern technology and science are advancing at an exponential rate and it only makes sense that eventually we will be able to prolong life almost indefinitely. And most assuredly we will be able to cure things in the future that we cannot cure now.
The idea of preserving your corpse only to be brought back to life and cured later seems ingenious, fascinating, totally plausible, and a good idea to many people. Cryonics is the process that, immediately after being declared dead, the body is frozen in an effort to preserve it, keeping all the organs and cell structures intact. The thought behind this is that future science will eventually be able to treat the cause(s) of death. So the body is thawed, fixed up in some futuristic Cryo Jiffy-Lube, and you're flying your space car home before dinner. That's the theory. Believing in the possibility and actually going through with the process is an exercise in idiocy for the following reasons.
1. Most of your body is destroyed in the process
The current "industry standard" for cryonics, which is not a science, is that upon death the body is pumped full of anti-coagulants and then flash frozen in a bath of liquid nitrogen. Basically, the body is turned into a TV dinner.
Even people in the industry agree that this method is less than ideal. The body is about 60% water and the brain is 70% water. Freezing water takes on a crystalline structure that might look nice and smooth for hockey but is jagged and rough microscopically. All those ice crystals do a number on your cell structures. Even worse, you can think of your brain as an ice cube you just dropped into a glass of hot water. Oops. That cracking doesn't sound too good.
What's left to work with after this process is completed might look nice and preserved but at the cellular level you're screwed. And now not only does future medicine have to figure out how to cure what killed you, they have to figure out how to undo the problem that ALL YOUR CELLS ARE NOW RUINED. And I thought curing cancer was hard.
2. It's ridiculously expensive
It's hard to put a price tag on the possibility of being reanimated in the future so that you can accomplish all those things you didn't get around to accomplishing the first time you were alive. Oh wait, no it's not. Alcor has done it and the price is $80,000 to freeze your head and $150,000 to freeze your whole body. Jesus! That's a lot of dough. I can't think of a worse thing to spend my money on considering I won't even see the benefit until after I'm dead. What's the fun in that? Oh right, I might come back to life. I'll get to that.
Without going too much into economics, unless you are rich and money is no object, your best bet is to spend the money WHILE YOU ARE ALIVE. You are guaranteed to receive all the benefit of that money if you do. On the other hand, spending it on freezing your corpse is a gamble-- a huge gamble. It would be like dropping $80k or $150k on a single number at the roulette table, only the wheel has several billion numbers on it. Oof. The chances of all the things going right necessary to make this venture worthwhile is astronomical, as we'll see here shortly.
Things More Fun to Spend $150,000 on Than Cryonics
- Starring in your own rap video
- Buying the New York Mets
- The best night in Vegas ever
- Lifetime supply of pistachios
3. The company will probably not be in business
How long will it take before science and technology advance to the point of reanimating your dead body? One hundred years? A thousand? Who knows. But I can say with certainty that only a handful of companies have been around for over a hundred years, and those companies offered services everyone needs, like clothing. They did not offer some high-end product with dubious benefits. So what happens when you go with a budget company for ensuring your future reanimation and they go bankrupt? Impossible to tell. But maybe the government will give them a bail-out so your frozen body doesn't melt into a puddle of goo.
Again, without going into economics, companies in the cryonics business constantly need to be generating revenue. This is pretty much true for any company not named Solyndra. Once they have your money there is little incentive for the company to care much about your popsicle body. Why would they? You're dead! They aren't going to be getting any more money out of you. So their efforts need to be focused on generating more and more clients. As they do this, unfortunately, logistics and sheer numbers start to become a huge problem. There are over 350 million humans just in the United States. And the science to bring people back after being frozen is not right around the corner, not even close, so all these frozen heads and corpses are going to need to be stored somewhere. Ultimately, the chances of your frozen parts ending up in the trash in order to make room for new paying customers is pretty good.
4. You'll probably be a zombie
Assuming the whole cryonics concept is plausible (see #1), what's left after the body is reanimated would probably be less like how you remember Aunt Marge and more like something out of a Stephen King novel. For starters, the brain would need to be restored at virtually a 100% success rate. Even 99% won't cut it because as we see with stroke victims, they lose about 1% of their neurons and their life is irreversibly altered. Loss of memory, coordination, and personality are all consequences of only losing a small fraction of your brain cells.
Even if the brain could be brought back intact, there is still the issue with the rest of the body. The common consensus is pretty much that cell damage would be so bad that you would end up with mush, or at the very least a cadaver. So even if they could reanimate the junkheap you used to call home you wouldn't be much more than a walking decaying zombie. On the bright side, you'd probably win every Halloween costume contest ever.
5. If you're not a zombie, cultural and temporal shock will make life horrific
Even if we get past all the issues with 1-4 now what? You've just been brought back to life not knowing where you are, the year, who the people around you are, or anything about the environment you're waking up to. How is that not one of the most terrifying situations imaginable? Complete and utter ignorance of everything. It would be like being born with a fully developed adult brain and wondering what the hell just happened. One second you're cozy in a nice warm bath and suddenly you're breathing air, cold, dry, and someone is smacking your butt and cutting part of your body off. What about that isn't terrifying?
Not to mention, people that were incorrectly declared dead and wound up waking up at their own funeral have died from the shock. If that's enough to kill someone, waking up from a cryogenic state is what? A million times worse? The sheer lack of knowledge about anything would be utterly traumatizing, something similar to waking up on an alien ship after being abducted. Scary and terrifying are the only words that could describe this situation.
6. Assuming it all works you'll probably be enslaved, shunned, or ridiculed
So humanity has worked out the kinks. You're alive. You're not a zombie. You don't mind the fact that you don't know anything about anything and you're ready to get in your flying car and zip around town. Then to your horror you realize you've been brought back to be a slave, or generate energy Matrix-style, or all "cryos" (as they have come to be called) are second class citizens like District 9 and are treated like crap, or humans have evolved to where your appearance constitutes a gross disfigurement and you are shunned from society. Is it too late to get a refund?
Sentient88 on April 24, 2019:
I completely agree with this article. That being said I think organ printing, telomerase production and other techniques are a more realistic way of extending life spans.
MrJForty on November 12, 2017:
I believe Alcor has been around for almost 50 years. So that's half a century right there. Plus the thousands of members paying 500 annually will keep it going for another 2 to 3 thousand years or more.
The idea is just like Tesla's ideas. He was named mad or crazy but look at us now, electricity is life?
Another big big thing you mentioned is spending the money,, if you didn't know, now you know that your life insurance pays for it. So it's money you can't spend on a music video when you're dead.
And should I leave my family with $200,000 after I die? My kids will most likely spend it on a new wife or my future wife might spend it all of it ordering random stuff online.
I rather invest it in my extended future *lmao*
Also if you find it hard to believe that nano technology won't exist to repair all human tissue and DNA $500 years from now. Then in the 90s you probably didn't believe we would walk around with computers in our pockets today.
If we do come back say 500 years from now, we would be celebrities. All 176 of us.. lol since not many people want to do it. And who knows what planets are discovered or hover boards? My personal thought is go ahead and do it, your life insurance pays for it. You might start a trend and wake up with some family members who also do it or best friends.
Gregor on December 22, 2016:
Maybe writer is right - this body freezing is waste of money, but...logic is very simple. If there is only 1% chance, is worth to try. Why not be a little bit more optimistic. What is science could make breakthrough in 100 years and you wake up in world, which is better than today...I do not understand, why is question of beating death such taboo theme. If would not be so, I am sure, we would have much more progress already in this area. Why is death common accepted, as something inevitable...? In past many things were common accepted as inevitable, but whith science many thing have changed. I am sure, that there will come time in future, when aging will be cured as a desease.
Nevertheless, if you are dead, you are dead, what can you loose. It is a hope. People who decide to be cryo preserved, die with hope and therefore is facing with death for them much easier - similar like by religious people. The difference is only, that in this case you do not belive in god, but in science. And money? Who cares - you can not use it, when you are dead. At the end for sure, you have better chances, if you are frozen, than rotting in soil or be cremated. Science is making amazing progress in all areas. If mankind would not have through history hope and optimism, we not exist any more.
Hojack on November 19, 2016:
Science and medicine are exciting and in many ways we as humans like to play God. I for one believe we were created and live life for a purpose to share Gods love in Jesus Christ who died for us. Yet God raised him from the dead and he will raise all who believe in Him. He will create a new Earth after sin and death are destroyed. I would much rather believe in the Bible and experience a after life that's eternal rather that be frozen hoping to be revived and live in some distant time and society unknown latter to just die all over again. The Bible gives comfort that there will be no sickness or sadness. God will prepare a place for you. The grass and the flowers will fade but the Word of God lasts forever. I want to meet our creator don't you???
LyingDevil on November 18, 2016:
After hearing that a young 14 year old British girl who died of Cancer has been allowed by the High court to be frozen i decided to into this madness ! Brave Girl but i understand why her father was against it and after reading your Hug i fully agree with you . At £37,000 pounds no doubt her mother is loaded but for her child of 14 to wake in say 100 years time all alown is crazy . More money than sense .
Anonymous on September 17, 2016:
5 and 6 are written just as you would expect from someone who intends to die. If there was even a slightest chance of being able to once again experience life, a paltry sum of material worth is nothing in comparison. It's not like inflation or being dead would have helped you enjoy that money anyhow.
Travis Duke on July 30, 2016:
Bad article buddy... like you can predict what the future is going to be like hundreds of thousands of years from now. Europe has free health care so you will not look like a zombie, they can grow you a whole new body to strap your old brain in and they have many types of antifreeze that are not toxic to our body's like artic frogs and salamanders.... so you basically are talking out of your a** do something with your life trole.
mike million on April 19, 2014:
I want to be frozen just to see something different...
Walt Disney on June 15, 2013:
But what I'd like clarification on is whether you brain and mind can be 're-animated'...? That is, your thoughts, memories... your own self.
I mean, if so, does this not constitute freezing your personality?? How is this possible? How long can the electrolytic process in the brain remain suspended and still 'reboot' as it was before? Aren't people who are 'brain-dead' for mere minutes more often than not turn into vegetables? How would a 1000-year-old cryo-zombie fair?
brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on April 13, 2013:
Jedddd on April 13, 2013:
brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on December 30, 2012:
I have nothing to say to your comment other than by all means spend the money. I'm only advocating against it in the form of satire. If you believe in the process by all means freeze your body. Yet you failed to address the fact that people will not be brought back to life any time soon and all the other logistics I mentioned, including hoping the company fulfills their contract and society as we know it doesn't look at you as a mutation or treat unfrozen people as slaves.
Emergency medicin on December 29, 2012:
OK were do I start? How could you get so much wrong all in 1 article?
Cryonics was started by a war hero and physics prof. who definitely understood science more then the author. 1st most cells are not destroyed we have many yrs experience freezing sperm eggs embryos etc. Also the author does not seem to understand the process called vitrification or glassification used in cryonics to preserve most cells by displacing water with protein based biological antifreezing agents. Or that you don't even need every cell to survive because molecular nanotechnology will use DNA to grow and repair new cells in a similar way then when you body repairs itself right now.
nicomp really from Ohio, USA on August 16, 2012:
Great writing. I will be making an offer for the Mets with the funds earmarked for cryogenics. There might be change left over for the Knicks.
brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on February 10, 2012:
Thank you. I got tired of cracked.com rejecting what I thought were perfectly good articles. So I decided to just post them here.
EstellaGrace from New York on February 09, 2012:
What about the fact that we aren't meant to live forever (unless we are, in which case we come back whenever we like: reincarnation). I, for one, do not want to be 200 years old EVER. I also don't want science to go tampering around in these uncharted territories. Humans do not belong there. However we got here should be how we go out. and @ Eric: Don't worry, Obama will pay for the medical bills.
Eric Newland from Dayton, Ohio on February 09, 2012:
You forgot to mention: What about your medical bills? You already had to drop $150,000 just to get frozen, and they haven't even set a price on thawing you out and/or fixing whatever problem prompted you to get frozen to begin with. How much will that be? A million? Adjusted for a thousand years' worth of inflation?
John MacNab from the banks of the St. Lawrence on February 09, 2012:
The New York Mets are worth that much?? An excellent Hub Brettmw.