The Healthy Life Extension Community

I talk about the community a great deal, but I realize that this may be confusing to many of you. After all, it did take me a while to find my way around and come to some understanding as to how all the various groups fit together. The following chart is intended to be a rough guide to the territory, showing alignments, overlaps and groups surrounding the healthy life extension community. It's a first draft, so be kind. Click on the image to view the full size version - the text will be somewhat hard to read as it is.

Overlapping balloons indicate areas of common interest and communities that share a sizeable number of members. As an advocacy group, this blog and the Longevity Meme would be in the middle under "Anti-Aging Research Advocacy." As always, I am drawing a firm distinction between real, scientific anti-aging research and the sort of fraudulent nonsense that drives the billion dollar "anti-aging" industry. You'll see those folks off to the right there, working their nefarious influence on newcomers to the community through misinformation, bad science, outrageous claims and aggressive, adventurous marketing.

Where do new supporters and advocates of healthy life extension come from? Well, from the surrounding groups - such as health enthusiasts and dieters who discover calorie restriction; libertarians and transhumanists who are interested in cryonics and nanomedicine; advocates for established aging research or specific medical research; scientists involved in searching for cures.

It is interesting to note that, up until comparatively recently, the major subgroups within the community were very isolated from one another. The cryonics, calorie restriction, supplement advocates and anti-aging research/advocacy communities have only widely intermingled since the advent of the Internet. This opens up enormous opportunities for growth in the larger healthy life extension community, since everyone has wider access to the "feeder groups" (libertarians, transhumanists, extropians, dieters and health enthusiasts, etc) that formerly were only closely associated with one or two community subgroups.

More importantly, these new avenues of communication and community allow many more people to easily learn about all the aspects of healthy life extension.

Why is libertarianism the only political philosophy noted here? The association between libertarianism and cryonics is a strong one and I felt it was worth noting. You'll find an even spread of political orientations throughout the healthy life extension community, but there are a lot of libertarian cryonics supporters. This is in part a function of the history of the cryonics movement and industry, and in part a function of the strong personalities involved in creating the cryonics industry. There are some interesting stories there, but that can wait for another time.

"Old Anti-Aging Business Ventures" refers to groups like the Life Extension Foundation and A4M. They tend to be rooted in the supplement, hormone and older technological base, although I believe that both of the examples given fund modern research. The LEF founders are also deeply involved in the growth of the cryonics industry.

"New Anti-Aging Business Ventures" refer to the new companies working on the science of calorie restriction, the biochemistry of aging and similar high tech goals. You can find a short list of a few notables at the Longevity Meme.

This diagram is a very crude first draft, and there is plenty of room for improvement. I plan to sit down and write a worthy commentary once you lot have had a go at it and a final, better version is in place. The PowerPoint slide this was taken from is available should you desire to go one better. Please do go ahead, or feel free to tell me how I'm getting it all wrong and missing out the vital part of the community that you belong to.

Comments

I'd put more overlap between transhumanists and libertarians.

Posted by: Mike Lorrey at February 25th, 2004 10:03 PM

Nice, Reason! I have been thinking about the creation of a collaborative (wiki) concept map for causes, organizations, etc. that correlate with anti-aging. Perhaps by assigning crude values to relationships between things like nanomedicine, libertarians, transhumanists, etc. one can see what other causes one should be advocating for or against and how strongly they impact each other, as well as some space for why. It's important to know what areas need the most attention/help but also there are times when giving many different areas a little bit of your time (even if it just means filling out a form which sends a form letter email to your representatives) is effective use of your time. It would then be neat to have a visual graph automatically created from all the recorded relationships.

Posted by: tomo at February 25th, 2004 10:31 PM

Nice!

How about a balloon for disease advocacy groups (AIDS, parkinson's, heart disease, etc.)?

Often these groups are politically at odds with life extension, but the cumulative effect of their efforts will help the field.

I assume that the "related advanced medical research" balloon is research that isn't about aging but where chance discoveries could lead to advances for life extension.

Posted by: Stephen Gordon at February 26th, 2004 9:30 AM

Stephen - yes, those would be the "patient advocate groups" in the diagram. "Related advanced medical research" includes research into Alzheimer's, heart disease, bioinformatics, etc.

Mike - yes, the positioning of that bubble is rather abitrary at the moment. It used to be three separate bubbles for futurists, transhumanists and extropians, but I couldn't find a way to make that all fit with the right sort of overlaps.

Tomo - that would be a fairly major project :) I agree with you that it would be interesting. Have you spoken with Bruce Klein over at the Immortality Institute?

http://www.immminst.org

He and one of the members there were talking about just that sort of project fairly recently.

Posted by: Reason at February 26th, 2004 12:28 PM

I did mention the idea on IRC where BK was around but may not have been paying attention. However, someone did mention that people have made attempts at something like this, in particular the name Anders Sandberg. I would hope that such a project could be useful in proportion to the amount of information put into it and that it would have some use even in the beginning so as to not discourage or overwhelm.

Posted by: tomo at February 27th, 2004 11:19 PM

Some minor suggestions: should cryobiology be included as overlapping with cryonics, though it is a separate and sometimes antagonistic field? and if nanomedicine is to be included, what of something like bioinformatics, which also seems to have a whole lot of potential.

Posted by: tomo at February 28th, 2004 1:04 AM

Cryobiology is a good addition. I'll have to think about bioinfomatics - is that a part of related medical research or something different? Then there's a bunch of other fields of equal merit I'd really have to think about adding as well. :)

Posted by: Reason at March 1st, 2004 7:23 PM

You also ought to link up libertarians with supporters of supplementation and other self-medicators....

Posted by: Mike Lorrey at December 7th, 2004 3:28 PM

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