I view surveys of attitudes to healthy life extension as another part of the greater conversation on engineering longevity. This multithreaded conversation, ever branching and merging, wends its way through conversations, scientific publications, the mainstream media, blogs, magazines and a hundred other ways in which we talk to one another. The more we see that conversation grow, the more progress must be taking place.
This is what I tell myself, at least, when I see scientific studies on attitudes to healthy life extension - as opposed to, say, scientific research dedicated to making healthy life extension happen in the first place. There are folk in the world who would rather talk amidst flames and falling timbers than run for the fire hose; more power to them, but I'd rather see the resources going elsewhere.
Some participants in the study said they would like to significantly extend their lives, while a few stated that they would like to “live indefinitely”. But the project Research Manager Dr Mair Underwood said not everyone interviewed for the project shared these views.
“It cannot be assumed that all people would welcome life extension,” she said.
“Some people definitely do not want to extend their lives as they feel it is ‘greedy', ‘selfish' or ‘messing with nature'.
“But for many of those we asked the answer is a very qualified `yes`. While the idea appealed to them they felt there were a lot of other factors to consider before they said yes to life extension.”
Dr Underwood said the most important consideration was quality of life as participants did not want to spend their extra years in a nursing home.
Much as we'd expect at the high level, given past experience of less scientific surveys; it will be interesting to see the results in detail. Again, another ringing endorsement of a focus upon dispelling the Tithonus Error when raising support for healthy life extension research. People want to know that they are not going to be frail for longer, but rather youthful for longer.
One wonders if all the nonsense philosophy and navel-gazing bioethics floating around the healthy life extension community and the pro-death opposition is just so much smoke in the smokescreen. What average folk - those not paid to think deep thoughts and throw spanners in front of the real workers - care about are the by-products of youth and health: self-suffiency, the absence of suffering, a life of vigor and function. Which leads us to suppose that perhaps the Tithonus Error - the mistaken, often knee-jerk belief that a lengthening of life would mean more and greater disability - really is the main roadblock to greater widespread support for healthy life extension research. ... Abolish the vision of Tithonus in the minds of the many, and the road to the future of healthy life extension will open wide? Food for thought.