Also, Try Not To Stab Yourself Repeatedly

Words of wisdom from the scientific community:

On March 19, 2008 a Symposium on Pathophysiology of Ageing and Age-Related diseases was held in Palermo, Italy. Here, the lecture of V. Nicita-Mauro on Smoking, health and ageing is summarized. Smoking represents an important ageing accelerator, both directly by triggering inflammatory responses, and indirectly by favouring the occurrence of several diseases where smoking is a recognized risk factor. Hence, non-smokers can delay the appearance of diseases and of ageing process, so attaining longevity.

Forms of slow self-destruction are many and varied amongst we humans: smoking, not practicing calorie restriction, failing to keep up a good relationship with a physician, piling on the visceral fat, failing to exercise, and so forth. The vast majority of people are quite comfortable engaging in habits that cause great harm to the old person they will one day be - cutting off years or even decades of health.

This is all a good example of time preference at work: we are hardwired to deeply discount the value of the future, even when it's our own future. What we don't value, we squander - you can see that maxim in action everywhere.

Many of the strategies for success in life revolve around doing what needs to be done rather than what you'd like to be doing - ignoring the inner time preference voice in favor of working towards long-term goals. Saving for retirement, for example. In just the same way, living in good health for long enough to benefit from a future of longevity therapies requires us to act as though future years of health are valuable. They are in fact very valuable: if you lose them, you also lose the chance at decades or even centuries more healthy life made possible by future advances in medical science.


Time preference (great concept from Austrian economics) need not be a terribly long-term thing.

In a few months I'll turn 60, yet I'm stronger, more fit, and more energetic than 30 years ago, and I was no weakling at that point. I'm back up to my playing weight as a high school and college athlete. Why? In my case, Olympic free weights and a generally active life style.

After 40 years of healthy, not obsessive, eating, I live the payoff every day. Even now, I have already gained many years of productive and enjoyable life, as a single glance at nearly any of my age-mates demonstrates all too distressingly.

It has most decidedly not been a drag. I eat metric shitloads of tomatoes, because I love 'em. The prostate is also pleased. Olive oil, red wine, gobs of fish ... hard life department, eh?

Living like this may offer future benefits, but the real pay-off is NOW. That ought not be too hard to understand.

Posted by: Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) at September 22nd, 2008 6:49 PM

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