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July 19 2010 at 4:10 AM
Charles Platt  (Login cplatt)
Veteran Member

Response to Disgusting

It seems obvious to me that the notes were taken on an informal ad-hoc basis. But if it wasn't obvious, why not ask nicely? Like this: "I don't understand why a non-native English speaker with no medical experience was the scribe in this case. Can anyone explain this to me?" See, it's not so hard. And guess what, if you ask nicely, you are MORE LIKELY TO GET ANSWERS. But maybe the objective is not to get answers. Maybe it's just to score points wherever an opportunity presents itself. Gosh, I hope I'm wrong about that. It wouldn't be very nice, would it.

For the record:

I was merely a visiting photographer at that time, but when I realized that Alcor did not have a designated scribe, I asked a friend to write down anything that she heard or saw. I figured that some record was better than no record. I am sure we can agree on that. Can't we?

The scribe was intelligent and observant but did not have English as her first language. I told her that if there were terms she did not understand, she should write them out phonetically. I told her that if she couldn't express something formally, she should express it informally. Better to have something than nothing, wouldn't you say? Well, wouldn't you?

Johnson found the notes very useful in establishing a chronology of the case, along with some descriptions of events that occurred. So, either the notes were incompetent, or they were useful. Either they were sloppy, or they were accurate. You can't have it both ways.

The scribe remained on duty for four hours continuously, as I recall--maybe longer. Thus the record is complete, and if the technical terms that were spelled out phonetically are spoken aloud (to derive their meaning), the record is more useful than others that I have seen, in other cases, by some scribes who did have English as their first language.

Of course I am ignoring one rather pointed question: Why did Alcor not have any designated scribe during the case in question? Why did a visitor, such as myself, have to ask someone to fill in on an impromptu basis? Well, Jerry Lemler was running things then. Maybe it didn't occur to him to have a scribe during a cryopreservation procedure. He might have thought that it was enough for us to be documenting it with two digital cameras, one handheld camcorder, and one fixed camcorder. (Too bad Johnson couldn't get access to those pictures; I took them away and locked them in a safe deposit box. That's why they never appeared on the "Free Ted" site. Sorry about that, Larry.)

Incidentally, anyone who thinks it's easy to find someone who will remain attentive and make good notes for hours on end, during a cryonics case, obviously has no experience in this area (not that ignorance has ever provided any disincentive for criticism on this horrible forum). During my six months and five cases at Alcor, I tried numerous different scribes. I didn't feel that any of them did a really thorough job. The trouble is, the job requires someone to show up, often in the middle of the night, with minimal advance warning, maybe once every two months. It's NOT LIKE A HOSPITAL, can we get that straight? In a hospital, you can have fulltime people doing the same job again and again, day after day. They draw regular pay. It's a career for them. This ought to be so incredibly obvious.

(I did manage to find a really good surgical nurse who was sufficiently interested in cryonics to participate in the OR, even though he had to drive all the way in from Cottonwood, but he was a very rare exception.)

The bottom line is, the notes were taken, they were relatively complete, they have been useful, and if that person hadn't been asked to fill in, I doubt there would have been any notes at all. And if Johnson hadn't copied them so that Sports Illustrated could print excerpts, they would have retained the status that was intended: As an impromptu adjunct to the photographic record.

None of which matters if one's primary activity is to express, over and over again, ad nauseam, for more than THREE YEARS, that one is "shocked, just shocked" to find underqualified people working in cryonics.

In fact I tried hiring qualified people. Larry Johnson was one. I'll have more to say about this in a future post when my attorney has finished checking it.


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