Fear of Aging is Absolutely Rational

Are you afraid of getting older? You should be. Degenerative aging isn't pretty. That said, we live in an era characterized by a fascination with youth; aging and the old are put to one side, and the ugly details of the way in which the body and mind break down are glossed over or shoved under the carpet. Move on a step from that and you'll see the bevy of folk trying to sell you the message that aging into frailty and death before you're ready is just fine - that you shouldn't worry about it, that you should just relax into your life being taken from you, one piece at a time.

But those talking heads are spouting nonsense. You should absolutely be afraid of aging.

Wouldn't you be somewhat scared by an implacable man coming to steal your kidney, half your liver, and feed you poison that will waste way your muscles? Of course you would. The end result of the damage of aging is just as intimidating. Apologism for and acceptance of degenerative aging is a sort of Stockholm syndrome, if you ask me. Invisible forces hold you hostage, threatening you with a future of pain, suffering, and frailty - and based on what you've seen happen to others, the situation looks like ending badly for you. Under these circumstances, human psychology tilts in favor of (a) assigning imaginary faces and personalities to impersonal processes, and (b) trying to stay on the jailer's good side.

So you have people trying to accommodate aging; play a game of give and take, and strive to accept what happens as their physiology decays. Which is madness. The relationship between humanity and aging should better fit a war story, not a tale of slavery and acceptance. How are we going to dig ourselves out of this pit if all we do is pretend that things will be fine - or if not fine, at least acceptable?

Aging is a horror, but it isn't supernatural. It is the result of physical processes operating on the biological systems of our bodies. Physics, chemistry, biology. These are biological systems that can be repaired, replaced, and restored: medicine, therapies, biotechnology. But we need to develop the means to achieve that end: technologies capable of repairing and reversing aging are foreseen, proposed, and carefully described - just not yet researched and developed.

If we all sit back and accept the suffering that lies ahead, then medicines to fight aging will never be developed. It seems an easy choice to me, but I still hear those talking heads telling us that aging is just fine, and we should give in to it. So not all of us are sane and well informed, it seems.

Comments

I think that the "deathists" are pathological scum that need to be denounced and discredited by any means possible. I am sick of these pathetic excuses for human beings questioning my right to pursue an indefinitely youthful life span. These people do not know me personally. How can they say what my life dreams and goals should be? I don't even let the people who know me personally dictate what these should be for me. Why the f8*k should I allow anyone who does not know me personally decide what these should be for me? My life and my body are very personal to me. This is my prerogative and mine alone to make.

Posted by: kurt9 at November 26th, 2009 10:39 PM

Acceptance of aging and death is entirely sane when you are convinced that they are inevitable and that you can do nothing to stop them. It is only in the last couple decades that we have started to see a route to the end of aging, and most people today still don't know about it. Even for those who hear it once or twice, it is simply so revolutionary that it fails to register in many cases. People need to hear the message from a source they know and trust, and to put the message into the hands of such opinion leaders, it would behoove us to provide substantial evidence to them that some degree of control over human aging is in fact possible. I think the vast majority of the deathists are entirely sane, they are just not informed.

Posted by: niner at November 27th, 2009 8:25 PM

What is this "route to the end of aging" ? I read this blog and longevitymeme, but as far as I know there's no roadmap - Audrey has proposed SENS but is anyone actually working on it (apart from his own labs)?

I'm all for life extension, but I don't want to be a 100 year old in a 70 year old's body. I want to be 100 in a 25 year old's body.

Maybe so-called "deathists" aren't insane, they are just realists. No-one, and I mean NO-ONE can give you any guarantees you will be around in 70 years from now.

Posted by: Scott Mitchell at November 30th, 2009 8:08 AM

If aging was eliminated today, no one can guarantee you'll be here even next year.

Might be nice to have a CHANCE of trying though.

There was no guarantee antibiotics would work but if we argued against them and no work was done we would not have them today...

Posted by: Craig at November 30th, 2009 11:56 AM

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