On People Who Want To Age and Die

I really don't have anything bad to say about people who are set on aging and dying - I just think that most of them haven't really thought it through, at least not to the point of understanding just how much personal suffering is going to be involved. (Which is why the old age simulation suit is such a great idea). We humans are just not all that well endowed when it comes to empathy and planning ahead. If we were, you can be sure that age-related degeneration and death would be solved problems already.

Regardless, there are still those folks who have thought it through and decided that aging and dying is for them. I'm certainly not one to argue against the value of freedom and personal choice, even if I'm quite sure that most of these people will make glad use of cures for age-related degeneration and death further down the line, despite having done nothing to help bring about this bright future of medicine.

No, the people I have a real problem with are those who seem set on forcing others to suffer and die. Personal acceptance of values that denigrate science and medicine and glorify suffering and death is one thing, but setting out to force the consequences of these views on others is nothing less than horrific.


I agree entirely.

It's eerie to think that the President's Council on Bioethics has taken such a radical and evil position on life extension. I don't think worries about the government criminalizing life extension are so unreasonable or alarmist. This is because the sort-of-cognitive-dissonance that people experience when contemplating death is so strong that people will do just about anything to protect their beliefs that death is an inevitable and good thing. This natural resistance might be so strong that people would be willing to kill in order to protect these beliefs. In any case, I think these technologies are going to meet serious opposition.

Posted by: Kip Werking at June 1st, 2005 10:52 PM


I?m not sure what will happen. It seems that, as far as the majority is concerned, President Bush is on the wrong side of the embryonic stem cell issue. It is even being said that there will be enough votes in the Senate to override his threatened veto. I suppose that I have a little more faith that people will come around and see the benefits of extending healthy life. The most difficult thing that I?m running into is convincing people that extreme life extension is being talked about. I?ve spoken with some health professionals and they seem to have the same take that Jay Olshansky has ? which I interpret to be - take care of yourself and you will have a life worth living. I agree with this, but the concept that one could live hundreds perhaps even a thousand years causes the whole conversation to shut down and I have to start over again. I politely ask them to follow the progress of the Mprize (fantastic that it is being covered in CNN by the way) in hopes that if they read enough they may see the great potential in all of this. I?m curious does anyone think that the anti-research phenomena will dissolve in the U.S. as we see other countries pass us by? I think the main thing to do is get people to understand that science is exploring healthy life extension, quality life ? not decrepitude.

Posted by: Awake at June 2nd, 2005 5:02 AM

Nice post Reason! Of course I agree. Well said.


Posted by: April at June 2nd, 2005 9:01 AM

I guess what concerns me is that researchers don't work together to find people-based rather than profit-based motives for their enthusiasm. It seems that free market capitalism is the real ogre here.

Posted by: Allen Overton at June 7th, 2005 9:39 PM

I'd have to disagree with that most emphatically. The problem is that we have very little free market capitalism in medical research - the FDA is the real 800lb ogre in this picture, closely followed by other forms of socialism and protectionism in medicine that make it hard to enter the market with any new product. See some of the following for views:


"If telomerase inhibitors were a new kind of computer chip, they would have been on every Wal-Mart pharmacy shelf and selling for ten dollars a bottle by now."


Posted by: Reason at June 7th, 2005 10:24 PM

It is inconceivable that humans will continue to die of old age one thousand years from now. These pro-senescence talking heads are just that: Talking heads. Engage them with a question. Ask someone to name a specific date in the future when he would like to die, say August 14, 2059.
Ask him if he plans to stipulate in a living will that he wishes to be dead on this date, and to legally authorize anyone to murder him if he is still alive after August 14, 2059.

Ever notice that nobody who doesn't want to live forever wants to die tomorrow or next week or even next year?

Posted by: Adam at March 1st, 2006 8:54 PM
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