Is the Term "Life Extension" Lost to Scum and Writhing Worms?

I'm written in the past of the demise of the term "anti-aging" as anything other than a marker for scammers, marketeers, cosmetics salespeople. It's now a signifier for those who either have little to no interest in actual, working longevity science, or who are actively harming the prospects for actual working longevity science by convincing people that it's all nonsense.

Anti-aging is beyond salvage as a term for discussion; we should move on and use other language to describe the technologies of healthy life extension and advanced medicine to extend healthy life spans.


But I'm stubborn, and so kept at it for a while, to see what the balance of voices looked like. Ultimately I took my own advice and moved on to terms like "repair of aging" and "longevity science." You need a bigger foghorn to compete with the folk presently engaged in efforts to define "anti-aging," either implicitly or explicitly. The term has solidly come to mean Revlon, skin cream, potions and the art of patching over the cracks so as to look younger, while doing absolutely nothing about the damage of aging. The forgery of the mirror and makeup, the magic show in which we expect to be entertained while understanding that none of it is real.

This is the natural state of the world, in which the noble human aspects of profit motive and the burning desire for silver bullets and rapid answers to questions somehow combine to form twisted and generally worthless progeny. We humans excel at making a mess of noble beginnings, just as we excel in somehow pulling golden progress out of the dross that we forge.

I am starting to see that the term "life extension" is far down the same slope taken by "anti-aging." Disappointing, but there you have it. Try searching blogs, Google, and so forth - you'll see what largely amounts to the same debris and advertising poorly disguised as content for either term. My response to this realization will no doubt follow the same slow path as that for for "anti-aging" - a phasing out to be replaced with less damaged words.

I don't believe that advocacy and research and development efforts for longevity science are in any way different from other human endeavors. Every new form of venture is fated to be beset with short-termists and gleeful miseducators as soon as it generates any niche that can be used to produce profit. You rise above them and achieve goals by demonstrating their labors to be pointless scratchings in the mud in the grand scheme of things - who should care an iota about antioxidant pills when we are within striking distance of completely replacing or repairing age-damaged mitochondria?


Excellent post. My thoughts exactly. I have taken to using the term "longevity" as a catchall term. However, there are some legitimate near-term products/services that can mitigate the effects of aging, mostly preventative stuff right now.
I have started using "health span extension" to describe the legit stuff that people are doing now. I would very much like to hear your thoughts. It doesn't seem like "healthspan enhancement" is used very much based on my google news results.

Posted by: Jason at May 3rd, 2009 9:32 AM

"LIFE EXTENSION" is a good term if it's correctly scientifically defined. Scientific definition of maximum human life span is 120 to 130 years. Anything over maximum life span is defined as life extension.

Popular use of words such as "power", "force", "momentum" is usually different from scientific use of these words in in physics. But it doesn't mean that scientists have to abandon using these words.

According to the above definition of life extension there is no scientifically proven substance or method to extend human life , therefore all advertisements that claim life extension are false. But the governments are doing nothing to prohibit such false advertisements and they are doing very little to scientifically extend human lives.


Posted by: nikki at May 4th, 2009 12:46 PM
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