"Potentially dead" is a term coined by Cryonics researchers in further strides to legitimize their field.

During the mid-eighties, Cryonics operations, such as Alcor, were not taken very seriously in the least. It was a relatively new field, and regarded with much skepticism and jest.

One situation in which someone with a Cryonics policy might find themselves in is that they die a natural death. Afterwards, obviously, they would then be frozen and put into storage. But the skeptics attacked with statements like, "If he just died, why bother freezing him? There's no cure for death!"

Cryonicists, as well as many other respectable scientists at the time, did not believe that natural death, death from disease, etc, constituted actual death. Instead, they believed that in the future, a state of natural death would be completely reversable. The only way for someone to truly die would be for their body to begin to decay in a cemetary, or if their death caused massive amounts of trauma to the the brain. As long as the state of the person's brain was carefully preserved, it was as if that person was simply in an indefinite sleep without a dream.

Therefore, they said anyone who was put in cryostasis was only potentially dead, and that, given the right medical technologies in the future (such as nanotechnology), that could be reversed.

As a sidenote, someone once said, "If $50,000 on a cryonics policy is going to increase my chances of living in the future by 20%, I'd call that a worthwhile investment. What else can you possibly do to give you better than 20% odds?"

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