The Slow Creep of Ideas, Part 2

Here is another characteristically mixed article from the Herald; There is progress in awareness of present scientific backing for healthy life extension, but the default position still seems to be to "reach for the off switch," as Aubrey de Grey puts it. "Pupils will gather in Edinburgh tomorrow for the Scottish finals of the Institute of Ideas' Debating Matters competition. The motion? 'Attempts to extend radically the human lifespan should be welcomed, not feared.' Naturally, as a judge I'll be assessing how well they argue their case and stand up to cross-questioning, but I know which side I'd prefer to be on. It may be easier to support the motion. Expanding lifespans are a fact, after all. In 1899 there were probably about 10 centenarians in Scotland and we know nothing of their frailty or mental capacity. When I set out to track down Scotland's "super-old" in 1999, there were more than 1000. ... The point was that we are not just getting older but staying fitter for longer too. Today about 35% of our over-75s do some volunteering work. Seen in this light, what we emotively call 'the demographic timebomb' looks like a blessing in disguise. But hang on. Just because some people's longevity defies our expectations, just because we CAN stretch lifespans, doesn't mean we should."


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