Friday, June 4, 2010

Hyperbole / Rhetorical Exaggerations

From Alcor's Second Amended Complaint (against Johnson, et. al.), dated December 30, 1999:

133. The statements made and published by the Defendants was done with the intent and purpose of injuring and discrediting ALCOR and did subject ALCOR to public ridicule and contempt, including persons who stated in the public domain that they “believed every word of it.”

I believe Alcor is quoting me, in the above complaint, against Johnson et. al. If they are not, they might as well be, because I believe I wrote that exact statement, (which was subsequently edited), in a book review, on Regardless of whom they are quoting, let's compare two readers of the same book:

"Reader A" believes most of the author's firsthand accounts of events, in the book, to be true, because she had similar experiences, while working with some of the same people as the author. "Person A" also believes the author's repetition of secondhand stories to be a fairly accurate reflection of stories, which were told to him, because "Person A" heard some of the same stories, from other people, prior to the book being published, and without knowing the author, (in fact, while thinking the author was deceased).

"Person B," who frequently works with organizations and persons criticized in the book, believes much of the information in the book to be false.

Aren't Person A's comment, that she "believes every word" of the book, and Person B's comment, that he thinks the book is "400 pages of lies," similar in that they are hyperbolic statements/rhetorical exaggerations? (Let's face it, both of those are unlikely to be entirely accurate, which is why I ("Person A") edited my remark, soon after making it.)

If Alcor's attorneys are quoting me, do they plan on telling the judge that the person who believes most of what is in the book to be, basically, true is a medical professional, experienced in hypothermic procedures, who worked in cryonics, or do they want the judge to believe the comment came from someone who may have been a potential Alcor client? If they are quoting me, do they plan on telling the judge the person who made the statements publicly made many harsh statements, regarding what she believes to be unethical and unprofessional activities, in cryonics, including some connected to Alcor and/or people with strong ties to Alcor, prior to reading the book?

If people are going to quote me, please put my comments in the proper context. At Suspended Animation, I worked with two of the same people, who worked with Mr. Johnson, at Alcor. Some of Mr. Johnson's experiences, while working in cryonics, were similar to my own, and I heard some of the secondhand stories he printed, from people working with me, at Suspended Animation. For the most part, the Johnson/Baldyga book only reinforced opinions I had already formed, before the book was published.

I think it's also important to note that Person A (I) made my comments in an informal book review, on, while Person B, (Dr. Brian Wowk of 21st Century Medicine), made his comments in a legal setting, under oath.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Who is Leaking Alcor "Insider Information" to be Posted by Anonymous Persons on the Internet?

If Alcor cares so much about "patient confidentiality," why is an anonymous person posting details, which should be known only to Alcor insiders, on the Internet? This isn't the first time someone has, anonymously, posted what appears to be insider information, related to Alcor, on the Cold Filter forum. Would it be proper for an Alcor employee, former employee, or anyone with strong ties to Alcor, to pass this type of information to an anonymous person, so that it could be posted on the Internet? Wouldn't current, and former, employees of Alcor be bound by the same confidentiality agreements they have tried to apply to Mr. Johnson, if there are any such valid agreements?

"The comment is hardly innocuous, being that some of those "cryonicists with cameras" took pictures of a converted ambulance used to pick TW up from the airport. Not any kind of box truck, much less a U-Haul one."

If Alcor cares so much about "patient confidentiality," why were there so many people at the Ted Williams case, taking pictures, to begin with? Who called them up, and told them Mr. Williams' body would be arriving at the Alcor facility? Wasn't Alcor obligated to protect Mr. Williams' privacy, at the time? Who was in charge, at Alcor, that day? Didn't that person have the decency and common sense to say, "Everybody off this property in five seconds, or I'm calling the police," before Mr. Williams arrived?

Does Alcor actually have "patients"? In other words, can a corpse qualify as a "patient"? I would also like to know if it acceptable for a company to refer to laymen as "surgeons."

Here are my previous comments regarding Mr. Williams' transportation, which seem to have prompted someone to feed what I believe Alcor might call "confidential patient information," to an anonymous person, to be posted on the Internet:

Okay...let's try a little experiment. Everyone reading this pretend you couldn't care less about cryonics, Alcor, or Larry Johnson. In fact, pretend you never heard of any of them, until you were subpoenaed to sit on the jury, at a civil trial. Now, pretend Johnson's attorneys, (having already established that Alcor has, indeed, used moving vans/box trucks to move their deceased members), reads the following statement, from his book, outloud:

"As the body was unloaded from a U-Haul truck and wheeled across the Scottsdale, Arizona, parking lot, cryonicists with cameras swarmed from Alcor's back doors, laughing, joking, and snapping souvenir pictures."
(From the Johnson/Baldyga book, "Frozen," page 193.)

Doesn't the comment about unloading the body from a U-Haul truck seem rather innocuous, compared to the rest of the sentence? Wouldn't you be wondering why Alcor didn't object to the rest of the sentence? Was the remainder of the sentence accurate? Don't many people refer to moving vans and box trucks as "U-Haul trucks," the same way we say we're going to "Xerox" something, rather than "copy" it? Maybe the statement was inaccurate, but does the first part of the sentence really appear to be malicious defamation? Doesn't the defamation claim, related to the use of the term "U-Haul truck," seem particularly frivilous, considering the fact that Alcor has used box trucks to move their clients, and considering all the dirt Johnson dished? Does anyone believe Johnson sat around, thinking, "Gee, I'll throw in the term 'U-Haul truck,' to make Alcor look ridiculous." If the statement was inaccurate, was it an intentional lie? Conversely, did Johnson's comments, regarding Alcor providing a private plane for Mr. Williams' transport from Florida to Arizona, make Alcor seem more dignified, or impressive?

The statement that got me thinking about this is from Alcor's May 24, 2010 "Memorandum in Opposition to Johnson's Motion to Dismiss":
"This is no different than the other statements of opinion in which Johnson suggest that Alcor used a U-Haul truck to deliver the body of Ted William to its facility (a false statement implying that Alcor used a rented box van to transport a legendary sports figure)...These are statements of
fact, which can be proven false, and would appear to the outside world as subjecting Alcor to ridicule."

Doesn't it look like Alcor's own attorneys have the opinion that Alcor would appear ridiculous, to the outside world, if it was known they have transported members in box vans? In culling 30-something examples, from what has been called "four hundred pages of lies," by someone testifying on Alcor's behalf, is an objection to the use of the term "U-Haul truck" amongst the best they could do? Didn't anyone at Alcor raise their hand and say, "Hey, wait a minute, we probably shouldn't indicate the use of a rented box van would make us appear ridiculous"?

Why did Alcor's attorneys used the phrase "legendary sports figure," in their complaints? Does celebrity status afford better treatment than that provided for the average Alcor member? How about when the celebrity never bothered to officially sign up, fill out Alcor's paperwork, or provide for funding, in advance? Does he deserve better treatment than Alcor members who have gone out of their way to prepare for, and provide for, their own cryo-suspensions? How many of them get whisked off, in private planes? How many of them have been transported in rented box vans?

These are the types of questions I would imagine the Johnson/Baldyga/Vanguard attorneys will be asking, in court, if the case ever makes it there.