On Posting Scientific Content

I post on the details of aging biochemistry and research papers much more than I used to in past years. This is a consequence of my own process of educating myself about the biology, biotechnology, and weight of evidence underpinning the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, calorie restriction, and what I'll call the Longevity Dividend viewpoint of working to slow aging through metabolic manipulation.

If it makes some eyes glaze, so be it. This is important. I do try to structure things in an educational fashion, but the further one goes into the jungle, the harder it becomes to recall how to present this information to the layman. (Assuming the layman is interested, which most casual visitors are not in this day and age - we live in the era of tl;dr).

As a general rule, I usually prefer to learn more about a topic rather than take someone else's word for it - and if I'm advocating something, how could I expect to be taken seriously unless I have at least a basic grounding in what I'm talking about? When I castigate metabolic manipulation as a path forward, I do so having looked at a great deal of research and basic biology to form my views. Does that effort make me right? No, but it does at least increase my chances of being so, and my chances of avoiding elementary errors.

Sadly, most people won't take the time to learn about their biochemistry until it runs awry and starts killing them - which is too late for the most effective presently available strategies of prevention. There are many fields and personal situations in which it makes perfect economic sense to be ignorant - to rely on experts and focus your attentions elsewhere. Maintenance of cars, for example. That said, I think that a knowledge of the workings of the body is not something you can afford to leave entirely to others. If you don't have a basic grasp on how your metabolism runs and what the present scientific thinking is on regions of importance, how can you evaluate new advances or health strategies? How do you distinguish between serious research, outright fraud, and earnestly held but outdated and wrong viewpoints? Ignorance is vulnerability, and the cost of that is measured in ill health and lost years.


I for one enjoy Fight Aging's information density very much! I'm less excited about Reason's hardcore libertarianism but the positive side -- reliable, conscientiously delineated information -- (far) outweighs the discomfort I might feel from my political vantage.

I've been going through the archives of Anne Corwin's "Existence Is Wonderful" podcasts* and lo and behold in Anne's SENS special (EIW Audio 9) Reason is mentioned as inspiration.

Btw, Existence Is Wonderful podcast 3 is itself wonderful! "Recent developments in longevity science, fun with mitochondrial genes, the intrinsic subjective meaningfulness of existence and the rational rejection of nihilism." This episode has many nuggets of charmingly presented wisdom.

* http://wonderfulexistence.podcastspot.com/episodes/

Posted by: FrF at May 12th, 2009 3:08 AM

First, I concur how important it is to have a scientific understanding of how our bodies work and be aware of what is happening with them. I have been led down the garden path by incompetent doctors, both hostile and well meaning ones. That is a clear and present danger to all, especially to those of us whose health leaves us the most vulnerable. (I have also been led down the garden path by incompetent but well meaning car mechanics, but we can't learn everything.)

I wasn't aware of it until I read this post, and I know I should change it, but this blog has become the one source--outside of my patient community, which includes the Foundation's research team--that I look to for medical research news. I get frustrated with the medical press, both popular and professional, because there is just so much poor quality material out there. I always end up feeling that the time and energy spent sifting through it was wasted, especially since I have so little and so many immediate needs to fulfill.

The biochemistry is indeed over my head. I run into the same problem with the Foundation's material, and the team even says that it's not reasonable to expect a layperson to thoroughly understand it. So I look for high level understanding and leave the details for those who can do them justice.

So thanks, Reason, for everything. That includes the "libertarian screeds"; you got me digging in my book stash for Henry Hazlitt after letting him molder for twenty years, and I'm glad I did.

Posted by: shegeek at May 12th, 2009 9:24 AM

I think it's worth doing. I don't understand every word of it, but as long as the information's there, everyone can "get it" up to whatever their own level is.

Posted by: Infidel753 at May 12th, 2009 2:20 PM

I wrote:

"Btw, Existence Is Wonderful podcast 3 is itself wonderful!"

I had to laugh -- out of agreement, as you can probably surmise -- when this came up in said podcast:

"There's no reason *not* to help people try out superlongevity if they want to [...] I don't think there's any kind of obligation to protect people from boredom by means of killing them. That seems kind of psychotic."

Posted by: FrF at May 13th, 2009 4:36 AM

FrF: Ha, I'd forgotten I made that comment but that is definitely something I still agree with. I don't think the "boredom argument" has much traction in the real world to begin with but I don't mind being on record opposing it in those terms.

(And, also, for the record, the podcast was an experiment that turned out to be too time-consuming for me to keep up with so it is "defunct" now. But I am glad some people are still enjoying what I did produce.

And I need to do some more longevity posts - it's just that I have gotten a lot more interested in the "how" of aging/biogerontology than in endless arguments over the "should me?" of longevity medicine, and it is frankly a lot more difficult to write well-supported fact-based comments than yammer on endless variations of "life is good!". For me it's a foregone conclusion that life is good and that more life = more good, and I would rather write when I can about how people might actually get to experience more life than take a defensive posture on the matter.)

Posted by: AnneC at May 25th, 2009 3:23 PM

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