by Max More
What does growth in “members” mean and how does it compare to the membership numbers of other cryonics organizations?
The American Cryonics Society (ACS) publishes no membership statistics. Oregon Cryonics doesn’t have members. Nor does Yinfeng in China. I did not find any official number for Kriorus members, but their Wikipedia entry says “200” based on an unofficial source (in Russian). “Osiris Back to Life” – a new and largely unknown organization – appears to have members but publishes no statistics. That leaves only Cryonics Institute as a comparative reference point.
As of April 2018, on its “CI Membership” page, CI claimed to have “TOTAL 1,882”. This top-line total number is the one repeated on Facebook, in their Wikipedia entry, in published pamphlets, and elsewhere. However, in smaller lettering, “Members” is listed at 1,525. The “total” comes from adding to that number both patients (165) and “Associate Members” (192). (I have been unable to find a definition of “Associate Member” anywhere on CI’s website.)
Alcor’s membership number of 1,176 refers to those who have made full contractual and financial arrangements to be cryopreserved and who are paying membership dues. It does not include patients. Nor does it include Associate Members. So, what is the comparable number for CI?
Since March 2015, this has been impossible to answer.
After that date, CI stopped publishing the comparable number, which used to be listed in a column called “CRYO”. The last record put “CRYO” members at 575. Although CI removed that information from public display, you can find it using the Wayback Machine, or you can see the screenshot I took before they deleted that data. “CRYO” was defined as “Funded Members with Contracts”. [Also as: “CRYO = CI Members with Funding and Contracts for Human Cryopreservation (a subcategory of MEMBERS) (See Becoming a Member)”] Back in October 2012, that was 505 out of a “Total Membership” of 1,040.
Another curious omission: “New CI members per year” is not listed in the yearly summary after 2016 here: http://www.cryonics.org/ci-landing/member-statistics/
CI’s definition of membership seems to require no more than paying membership dues: “For Yearly Membership the application must be accompanied by the initial dues payment and a $75 initiation fee. This secures your current membership and the right to execute a contract.” In other words, CI counts someone as a member so long as they are paying dues, even if they have not signed any contracts or made financial arrangements to be cryopreserved.
In October 2012, Alcor-equivalent membership was 505, compared to a total of 1,040. That meant that 48.6% of “total members” were Alcor-equivalent members. If that same ratio holds now, we get (0.486 x 1,525) = 740.
What is the highest possible number of Alcor-equivalent members? Start with 1,525. Subtract “Pets”, “Assoc. Members”, “DNA/Tissue”, and you end up with 922. There may well be many people who are counted as members because they pay/paid dues but do not fit the three categories above. 922 is the highest number for real, full membership that I can come up with. The real number is either equal to or lower than this and, perhaps most likely, around 740.
Why does this matter?
I’ve been surprised by how many people are fooled by CI’s manipulation of the way it presents its membership numbers and its repeated claim that it is the organization with the largest number of members. Transparency matters greatly in this endeavor. It is unseemly for CI to parade its “low costs” and also claim to have more members than any other cryonics organization.
What are the trends in CI’s membership numbers? I’m interested only in members with cryopreservation arrangements, so that limits me to numbers no later than March 2015.
Members: 1180. CRYO: 575 (down by 3 from December 2014).
Increase of 98 “Cryo” members, i.e. real members, in the 3 years from March 2012 to March 2015. 32.67/year average.
March 2010 to March 2011
From 404 to 442 = 38 = 9.4%.
March 2011 to March 2012
From 442 to 477 = 35 = 7.9%.
March 2012 to April 2013
(There is no listing for March 2013): From 477 to 503 = 27 (or 25 annualized) = 5.24%.
April 2013 to April 2014
From 504 to 563 = 59 = 11.7%.
April 2014 to March 2015
From 563 to 575 = 12 (or 13 annualized) = 2.3%.
We seeing a declining trend, with the exception of 2013 to 2014. Is this why the core membership numbers are no longer published? We can only speculate. It is interesting that over the last few years, Alcor’s membership growth trend has been rising, not declining. That is despite Alcor’s dues being significantly higher than CI’s.
In March 2015, CI had 575 cryopreservation members. Alcor had 1,027. In other words, CI’s cryopreservation membership was 56% of Alcor’s. Given evidence on recent trends (and hearsay from alienated CI members), that percentage has probably shrunk.
By the way, I have brought this numerical sleight-of-hand directly to the attention of CI’s leadership. The response was clear: They are going to keep doing it.
No public clarification on what Associate Membership means has been given to date. It appears that CI now has two categories of members without cryonics arrangements.
GROWTH IN PATIENTS VS. MEMBERS AT CI
Until quite recently and for a few years, Alcor and CI had almost exactly the same number of patients. But as of April 2018, CI had 165 patients compared to Alcor’s 156. [170 as of May 31, 2019.] CI acquired 35 patients in 3 years. That’s about 150% of the number of Alcor patients in the same time, despite about half the membership. In other words, CI’s growth in patient population is around 300% that of Alcor’s relative to number of members. This suggests that one or both of the following must be true: 1. CI’s membership is much older and less healthy than Alcor’s. 2. CI takes a vastly higher number of “post-mortem” third-party cases, a category of cases much more prone to lack of strong informed consent and to litigation.
CI ‘s website refers to “Our “Members-Only” policy for cryonic services”. However, this is highly misleading, since it looks clear that most people who are cryopreserved by CI were not members at the time.
At Alcor, we are currently working to reduce the loss of members, especially those who cite financial reasons for discontinuing their arrangements. It’s interesting that Cryonics Institute has added some interesting information to their Member Statistics page, apparently fairly recently: “At least one-fifth of Yearly Members allow their Membership to lapse.”
Although annual member dues with CI are a fraction of that of Alcor’s, CI nevertheless clearly loses quite a few members. I know that some of those are lost because they switch to Alcor. For the others, I don’t know the cause, nor whether it tells us anything about price sensitivity of Alcor members and potential members.
My hope is that CI will clarify and change the way they report their membership numbers. Failing that, this article will serve as a reference to point out to those who have bought into the “largest number of members” claim.