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In the Crossfire

Putting a legend on ice

(CNN) -- Baseball legend Ted Williams passed away last week but a family feud over what should happen to his remains has sparked a heated debate over the science of cryonics. Could freezing Williams' body allow him to be revived and brought back to life or are companies providing these services just offering false hope? Is there any sound science supporting putting your loved ones on ice or is it merely wishful thinking? In the "Crossfire" Tuesday night with hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson were Dr. Max More, president of the Extropy Institute and a member of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, and Jonathan Moreno, director of the University of Virginia's center for bioethics.

CARLSON: Welcome back to "Crossfire." We're talking about the implications of freezing and cloning famous people, cutting their heads off for future use. Today it's baseball legend Ted Williams. What if someday it's Bill Clinton? Ooh.

BEGALA: Dr. More, let's talk about some of the -- I think, silly, absurd, but practical ramifications of your position. If such mythical technology ever takes place and we can revivify an 83-year-old Floridian like Ted Williams, what are we going to do with this army of 83-year-olds?

Do they get back Social Security? Do they get their inheritance back that they left to their kids? Do they still qualify for rent control for all the years that they were in frozen suspension? What are the pragmatics of this?

MORE: Those are all excellent questions. There are many issues. We have to sort of multi-track on this, and not think along one line. Don't just think of an 83-year-old person coming back, but really think about all the changes that are happening.

That person to be brought back, first of all, they're not going to be revived until we've really cured the problem of aging, which is going to take some unknown amount of time. So they're not going to come back as an aged 83-year-old person. They'll come back with youthful vitality.

Now, there is certainly a major issue of adjusting psychologically, and that's not going to be easy. I don't think anybody should pretend it will be easy. But, you know, I made a move from England to California, which is a pretty big culture shock. This will be bigger one, certainly. Many people won't want to do that.

BEGALA: You're talking about human Popsicles. I mean, England to L.A. may be a bit, but, I mean. So we're going to -- now, Ted Williams, when he passed, was 83. He had a bunch of physical maladies, but the body itself was 83.

So we're not only going to bring him back, but -- like, at what point? Can we pick? Because '41 was his best season. He hit .406 and he was the greatest hitter to ever live. Can we bring him back just at that stage of his development?

MORE: Well, if he did, he wouldn't be very good in comparison to the athletes of that time, I suspect, because the standards keep going up as we get better ways of training and diet and chemistry and so on. So I don't think that would be a very good idea. He's not going to be coming back and playing the same game, at that point.

CARLSON: Mr. Moreno, one of the things that I'm -- one of the many things I'm bothered by in the story, is the idea that these companies take this money, then promise to keep these heads under ice for a thousand years, into perpetuity.

I mean, everyone thought Enron was going to last forever. Of course, it didn't. Is there any government regulation of this? Or can you just become a free-lance head-taker? Do you know, Mr. Moreno?

MORENO: This is the wild, wild west, Tucker. There's no regulation. People can spend their money on foolish things if they want to. But there's so much more good that could be done.

You know, there's a special irony in talking about cloning an all-star team of Ted Williams. He had such a great swing that people called him the natural. He hated that, because he had a great work ethic.

And he used to say that he worked every swing that he got. Every ball that he hit, he worked very hard to hit. And ...

CARLSON: Back to the -- wait, I just want to make sure I understand this. There are laws against desecrating corpses.

MORENO: Of course.

CARLSON: And yet, anybody can just open a mom or pop head shop, basically, and the government can't do anything about it. Is that right?

MORENO: That's right. I mean, this is one of the areas in which there is not regulation. There's also hardly any regulation at all on the other end of life, on in vitro fertilization, for example, which is why this whole business about human cloning has gotten to be such a hot topic.

MORE: Well, there may be reasons for regulation and oversight. But of course, that would probably add legitimacy to this, which you probably wouldn't want to do. But let me ask you, if we had a procedure, some experimental procedure, that might help somebody to stay alive, but it was quite difficult to do and was expensive, would you tell them, sorry, but you're going to have to die because that's expensive. The money could have gone to the Boy Scouts or some other charity. Are you going to say that that person cannot use their money to die, that it's a silly attempt?

MORENO: Dr. More, I've said before, people can do silly things with their money. If they want to give it to companies like yours, that's fine with me.




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