A Pity Some Feel the Need to Counterpoint

Let me direct your attention to a paper in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science entitled "Would Doubling the Human Lifespan Be a Net Positive or Negative for Us, Either as Individuals or as a Society? Point-Counterpoint":

There is a significant possibility that over the next few decades science will make discoveries of a kind that might allow the doubling of the average human life span, from roughly 76 years now to 150. This development would, for many, represent the realization of a dream: that of enabling people to live much longer lives than at present, holding back death, which has often been seen as an ancient, unbeatable enemy. It would also raise a large number of unprecedented individual and social problems: Would we really want to live to 150? Is such a goal ethical? What would this putative longevity do to our present social structures and arrangements? Would we get a better society or a worse one?

The helpful, positive, pro-healthy life extension points are provided by Gregory Stock. The doleful counterpoint is by Daniel Callahan - I'm not familiar with this fellow, but a glance at his publication history suggests a type I recognize all too well. I can't help but feel sorry for people who really, seriously have their doubts about the merits of a longer, healthy lifespan. These are people who truly do not enjoy being alive, or worse, people who like life, but are so blinded to the essential nature of opportunity, wealth and the potentials of freedom that they can believe in arguments for the pain, suffering and death of billions in the years ahead. These are folk who can construct an abstract concept, this "society," wholly separate from real individuals, their goals and actions, and somehow justify the most horrific, terrible futures for those individuals. It's like a twisted sort of religion.

If you really don't want to live to 150, then there are plenty of graceful exits along the way. Just don't try to ruin it for those of us who are trying to build a future of real anti-aging medicine and radical life extension, those of us who will revel in what we can achieve and build with more healthy years.

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