A4M appears to be suing some conservative gerontologists for defamation:
They've been called quacks and embarrassments to the scientific community, doctors who use "pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo" to persuade people to give them their money.
Now, they're fighting back.
The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and its Chicago founders, Drs. Robert Goldman and Ronald Klatz, are suing professors from the University of Illinois-Chicago and Harvard University, alleging they have trashed their reputations in an effort to discredit their anti-aging works.
S. Jay Olshansky and Thomas Perls are the targets of the $150 million lawsuit filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court.
Goldman and Klatz say Olshansky and Perls are on "a witchhunt" and making "false statements" about their academy. They also say that while at an Australian conference this year, Olshansky presented the group with a mock award -- "The Silver Fleece" -- which was a bottle of oil with a "Snake Oil" label.
Told of the lawsuit by the Chicago Sun-Times, UIC's Olshansky made no apologies for his mockery.
"There is no evidence to show there is anything that will slow, modify, reverse or stop the aging process," Olshansky said. "Anyone who says otherwise doesn't have the evidence to support it."
This should be interesting. As you may recall, I have my issues with both sides of this fight. I see A4M as being too closely entangled with the fraudulent, study-picking, disreputable side of the anti-aging marketplace. I view conservative gerontologists like Olshansky as propagating an irresponsible, self-fulfulling pessimistic view of the possibilities offered by serious anti-aging research. Both sides are damaging the potential for progress just as much as they are helping things along.
You can see more on this topic and why the two sides are fighting in the first place at the Longevity Meme:
The war over the meaning of "anti-aging" is being fought over money and the perception of legitimacy. It is this perception of legitimacy that determines funding for scientific research and revenues for businesses. Scientists feel, quite rightly, that the noise and nonsense coming from the anti-aging marketplace is damaging the prospects for serious, scientific anti-aging research. If everyone knows that anti-aging means high-priced cream from Revlon marketed to the gullible and brand-aware, no scientist is going to get funding for a serious proposal in aging research that uses the word "anti-aging." Worse than that, people start to assume that real efforts to reverse aging must be impossible - and large scale science requires public support and understanding.
Businesses in the "anti-aging" marketplace make money from the aura of legitimacy whether or not their products perform as advertised, and so a lot of effort is expended to create and maintain this perception of legitimacy. Those businesspeople with working, accurately marketed products carry out their own fight against opportunists, frauds and "marketeers" - businesses that are damaging the market and diluting the brand. Ironically, this is much the same argument used against the more legitimate businesses by scientists.
One can hope that at the very least this lawsuit will manage to get the two sides to agree that they are talking about very different things when they say "anti-aging":
For the scientific community, anti-aging research refers exclusively to slowing, preventing, or reversing the aging process. There is, as of 2004, no medical technology that allows this to be done - although the jury is still out on calorie restriction in humans. Nor is there any currently available method (short of waiting for people to die) to accurately measure the effects of an alleged anti-aging therapy.
In the medical and more reputable business community, anti-aging medicine means early detection, prevention, and reversal of age-related diseases. This is quite different from tackling the aging process itself, and a wide array of strategies and therapies are currently available. Calorie restriction, for example, is a demonstrated way to lower risk for a wide range of age-related degenerative conditions.
The wider business community - including a great many fraudulent and frivolous ventures - views "anti-aging" as a valuable brand and a demonstrated way to increase sales. At the worse end of the scale, this leads to snake oil salesmen, "anti-aging" cremes that may or may not make your skin look younger, and infomercials that tout the "anti-aging" benefits of exercise machines. Broadly, and very charitably, we can look at these varied definitions of anti-aging as meaning "to look and feel younger in some way" - which has no bearing on how long you live or how healthy you actually are.
Some onlookers may find it ironic that, putting the merits of their chosen methodologies to one side, the founders of A4M are far more invested in seeing working anti-aging medicine become a reality than most conservative gerontologists.