I've read through this thread as someone with a longterm interest in cryonics only just getting signed up fairly recently and reading up on all the criticism I can find to be sure i'm doing the right thing and would like to offer my comments.
I see a few points that appear utterly wrong but will focus on a small selection of them:
1 - the hostile relatives angle
I find it crazy how people can claim this to be a myth while at the same time referencing the orville richardson case - just one example of where relatives outright said they would have nothing to do with cryonics and sabotaged things. Some people do this out of greed (trying to get hold of the money), some people do this out of horror over the concept of cryonics itself (I don't understand this myself but I can see that it does freak people out), but it does actually happen.
There are a few solutions to the hostile relatives problem, including giving lasting power of attorney to someone you trust to carry out your wishes. Naturally this does carry the risk of conflict of interest if that person is a member of staff or officer of the cryonics organisation and to my knowledge neither Alcor or CI suggest or encourage this, instead the usual suggestion is to find a trustworthy friend or find a relative who is NOT hostile. Personally I intend to use a professional from a law firm as I do not want to rely upon friends or relatives who may be incapcitated by grief or who may be pressured into doing the normal thing.
I am signing up with Alcor, and nobody at Alcor tried to pressure me into giving power of attorney to them - though if you believe Alcor to be an evil cult then you probably expect they will push this later once i'm in the door, despite other members i've spoken to who have all either not got power of attorney setup or who have given it to trustworthy friends or relatives.
2 - the suing of families
Related to the above, I find it hilarious that anyone would try to warn off potential Alcor members by pointing to their lawsuits against families who interfere with a member's arrangements.
As I will be unable to defend myself after my legal death I find it comforting that Alcor have a reputation for defending their member's arrangements so strongly.
The claim on this thread is "they're only in it for the money" and such lawsuits occur to get hold of the money, presumably while cackling with evil laughter. Of course, the other motivation could be to do their best to perform their duties under the contracts members sign and to try and save lives without also screwing up the finances of the organisation.
One crazy myth i've read is that somehow if you only write to Alcor or another cryonics organisation for an information pack they'll come after your family after your death and sue to get the money, despite this NEVER happening. Find me an example of someone whose family was sued without that person having made active arrangements, i'm betting you won't find one.
3 - The "complex contracts"
I know i'm just an anonymous person and so my word can't be taken at face value and I respect healthy skepticism, but I promise that the contract I signed with Alcor was just a copy of the one available on their website with my details put in the relevant sections. I read through it all (yes, really) and so did my lawyer who's dealing with my will and estate and it doesn't appear to be deceptive in any way. In fact, the bulk of it is disclaimers and there's a clause making Alcor pay out a $1000 penalty plus the entire amount of cryopreservation funding to the member's estate if they fail to suspend the member out of neglect. There are also provisions for relatives to be present (if they request it) to observe the actual suspension.
The actual contract is here - [alcor.org
There are other documents too, including a consent form and UAGA form etc, all available on the public website. If you point out actual clauses in this document that make Alcor an evil cult i'd be grateful.
Lots of posts here have requested someone post the actual contract and said it's suspicious nobody signed up is willing to do so - personally I won't either because the only extra information you'll get from my copy that you won't find online is my full name and address and that of my two witnesses.
4 - The irrevocable trusts
Well, first of all if you have an insurance policy in trust you can always get out of it by simply refusing to pay the premiums, the policy will then lapse and the trust will be unfunded. If the trust is funded with cash then of course you may have a problem if you intend to cancel your arrangements.
Of course if you use Alcor's model trust document, it's not irrevocable and can be cancelled any time with 30 days notice.
If you DO setup an irrevocable trust (and again, show me the evidence that Alcor or anyone else is "upselling" these trusts) then it will of course be something you should put a lot of thought into and be near impossible to get out of by design. But again, is there any evidence of vulnerable elderly people being pushed into signing such trust documents? Any at all?
5 - The associations with Satanism and ToV
Quite honestly, I don't personally see this as a big deal, cryonics attracts a lot of nonconformist types and I imagine there's probably people signed up into all sorts of weird stuff. If the ToV requires a cryonics contract then that does not automatically mean there's some kind of "kickback" going on - if there's evidence of such kickbacks happening show it - nor does it mean that the cryonics organisations are actively involved in the ToV. I will concede that it's a nasty association and bad for the public image of cryonics though, but it does not mean that those working in cryonics organisations are a bunch of scammers.
I will state that I was disappointed at the EUCrio mess, that did look like an actual case of fraud but I am not one to presume malice rather than incompetence and will not jump to that conclusion.
As it stands, I firmly believe that I made the right decision in signing up with Alcor but I do worry that even if the technology is developed for revival it won't be of much use if patients (yes, patients - someone being actively cared for with the intention of saving their life using medical technology is a patient, not a corpse) are thawed out before then due to overzealous anti-cult types who have gotten the wrong impression.
If you want to fight dangerous cults then go to organisations that do real harm to people's lives, Alcor is only doing the most they can with current technology and resources to preserve the physical basis of people's minds (dendrite structure of the brain - which is preserved fairly well by vitrification). I know that cryonics is a long shot, as do many who are signed up, but I also know that the only other alternative in many cases is certain death. I do not think of this in terms of pascal's wager either as there are good scientific reasons to believe that today's cryonics procedures preserve the information content of the human brain in a form that is feasible to repair at some point.
Ask a cryobiologist (without saying why - avoid the social issues) if vitrified neurons retain LTP (Long Term Potentiation).
Then ask a neuroscientist if LTP is responsible for encoding our memory and personality, again without saying why.
Both will, if they agree with the mainstream consensus, say yes.
Putting 2 and 2 together, it seems cryonics does in fact preserve the physical basis of memory when carried out under ideal conditions, with less ideal cases meaning more risk of amnesia. Cryonics basically turns lack of heartbeat from a prognosis of certain death into a spectrum ranging from "full health and memory" down to "amnesiac clone" with various types of memory loss in between. I fully expect that if revived after cryostasis in the future I will be missing some memories, that's still better to me than death.
Since cryogenic temperatures preserve tissue unchanged for thousands, or even millions, of years the issue is just whether the organisation storing patients can stick around until technology is up to the task of revival. My concern is that organisations like Alcor will not even last decades if those who view cryonics as just an evil cult get the government to regulate in a way that effectively shuts them down.
I would be all for a sane set of regulations based on a true understanding of cryonics, but since most of the people calling for cryonics-specific regulation take views similar to those expressed on this forum the idea of regulation scares the hell out of me.