"The sensationalized reference to the use of a "hammer and chisel" in a cryopreservation demonstrates either Mr. Johnson's ignorance or an effort to hoodwink the public. In a surgical context, those instruments are called a "mallet and osteotome" commonly used by orthopedists for surgical procedures involving bone. In testimony before a hearing of the Arizona House of Representatives in 2004, Alcor in fact testified that these instruments are utilized in cryonics surgical procedures.http://alcor.org/press/response.html
I don't care what Alcor testified, in 2004. The utensil being used in the photo in Johnson's book is not a "medical mallet," it's a ball peen hammer with a wooden handle. I suppose Alcor could try to say the photo didn't come out of their facility, but personally, I'm not aware of any other facility that chops off heads and allows people to take pictures.
For Alcor to try to pass a ball peen hammer off as a "medical mallet" should be insulting to ALL of you. As I'm sure most of you can figure out for yourselves, medical mallets used in surgery are made of surgical steel, THEY DO NOT HAVE WOODEN HANDLES. (Think about blood soaking in, and you'll realize there would be sterilization issues.)
Alcor didn't mention the fact that someone called into Nightline and lied, to try to cover up for them, by stating the AIDS patient died in his bedroom, alone with his nurse and partner, when it's on THEIR WEBSITE that he died in a makeshift operating room in a garage...just like Larry Johnson wrote and said. I hope he countersues them.
Does this look like a "medical mallet," or a ball peen hammer, to you?
http://frozenbook.com/photos-9.php (It's the color version of the photo of Alcor's so-called "Medical Mallet," from Johnson's book.)
Alcor might have been able to fool the public and/or the courts, the first time around, but I'm not going to sit back and watch these people lie about their degree of professionalism, or their quality of patient care.
THIS is a REAL medical mallet that would be used in surgery:
I hate to belabor the obvious, but all patients are going to be stored at below -130C. Their severely compromised immune systems happen to be 100% protected by the deep cold for centuries to come. Sterility is a rather moot point at this juncture, at least as far as the patient is concerned. You can't seriously expect us to believe mature nanotech will have a problem killing a few germs...
Nanotech might have some applications, but I think it will be of limited use and will be strictly regulated, just as asbestos are. Already many scientists are raising red flags about the technology. For example, according to published papers, carbon nanotube, a poster child for the nanotechnology revolution, are as harmful as asbestos if inhaled in sufficient quantities. Some of the nano materials have the potential to cause mesothelioma. So even if Alcors treatment does not get you, the nano treatment might :-)
Yes, "Luke," I was pointing out that it could not be sterilized, because Alcor was claiming it was a "medical mallet," when it was clearly a ball peen hammer.
The importance of this is, Alcor is only damaging their own case. Attempting to defend, (or, worse yet, to cover up), their past mistakes is only going to lead to more (valid) criticisms. They need to regroup and take another course of action.
The statement you quoted does not seem to say anything about the origin or manufacturer-intended purpose of the "mallet and osteotome" in question.
So what if it came from a hardware store and was intended for hitting and pushing through pieces of metal or wood. If it does the same job just as well, who cares?
Does it not do the job just as well? If that's what you are saying, just say so. Otherwise it's a rather vacuous argument.
I do see how wooden handles could be less safe from a public or staff safety perspective. Also, use of hardware-store equipment rather than medical-store equipment on a high-profile case like Ted Williams does strike me as irresponsible from a PR standpoint. But those are different criticisms entirely.
I also think the statement you quoted in the original post contains a valid criticism regarding Johnson's use of sensationalism rather than rational argument to attack Alcor. It sounds more grotesque to say Ted's head was "chopped off" with a "hammer and chisel" than that it was "seperated" by a "mallet and osteotome" -- even though there's absolutely no difference between the two.
There's a very good reason to prefer the latter sort of terminology, and it is because humans aren't 100% rational -- even when we try very hard. We react. Pushing people's buttons to make them react rather than think logically is just wrong. Especially in a case like this. It is disrespectful.
And that's why I thought it was a bit of stretch :)
October 16 2009, 6:38 PM
Your final two paragraphs touched on what could be Alcor's response to such a challenge by Johnson. Ultimately, I don't think he's going to bring it up. I think he'll focus on more important things so as to not dilute his message, a message that at times cracks me up for the wrong reasons. On page 325, for example, he describes media preparation meetings as "Hitleresque." I did an internship with the government, and we experienced a PR event where we had to practice our answers too (wrong wording could be easily misinterpreted). Cryonics is the type of topic where preparation should be required.
That said, I'm still glad Melody brings these issues up, because - unlike Johnson - I can tell she genuinely does care about cryonics. I've been reading Cryonet, and am pleased to see the communication. It helps me learn more than, say, blog posts by certain futurists.