"I refuse the invitation to my grave"

I don't think I can better the title of a recent post by Maria Konovalenko, so I'll quote it instead: "I refuse the invitation to my grave." You might read it with the accent of a weary but determined Russian spy in a late black and white era film, but the topic is the way in which so many people encourage us to turn our backs on longevity science.

I fundamentally disagree with the following idea made by [researcher Tom Kirkwood in a recent issue of Scientific American]: "The goal of gerontology research in humans, however, is always improving health at the end of life, rather than achieving Methuselean life spans."

This is a traditional stance taken by the hawks of the conservative wing of gerontologists: to [set quality of life and longevity as distinct research goals that are in opposition]. This is the biggest mistake in gerontology. The quality of life and longevity are closely related. If the quality of life is high in the biomedical sense, then why would the person suddenly die? Besides, many experiments on model animals show that the interventions leading to life extension also led to improved reproduction and increased activity. Essentially, an improved quality of life for the animal.

The reasoning behind such statements is based on an "acceptance of one’s own death", which the author is calling for. Since we cannot radically increase longevity right now, then let’s consider it as 'unnecessary'.


Denial of the radical life extension idea amounts to intellectual cowardice or fear to be perceived as a 'black sheep', and ignoring the advances of modern science.

Which is exactly the case. It is unfortunate that it is hard to steer more research efforts and funding towards the very plausible goal of reversing aging by repairing biochemical damage. As soon as you point out that the natural consequence of working repair technologies is a very, very long human life span, much of the audience tunes out - simply refusing to look at the evidence and the science. Yet this is nothing more than an engineering problem in biotechnology, just like many others undertaken in the fight to cure disease, and which could be brought to completion in just a few decades.

At some point in the future, sociologists of history will have their work cut out trying to understand why it was that their ancestors took so long to build the technologies of radical life extension. Why did they ignore the possibilities, embrace delay, and fail to rapidly fund the work that would have saved them - billions of people - from suffering and death by aging?


The best damned post in quite awhile, imao.

Posted by: Matthew at October 4th, 2010 7:37 PM

People don't want to hear about life extension, in my experience. They either think you're a crank, or a selfish jerk.

It is logically stupid, because life extension is coming like it or not, so the only question is whether WE will be too old to benefit.

Posted by: Will Nelson at October 5th, 2010 9:27 AM

I am currently 43 years old (as of May 17th) and hope that I will be able to benefit from anti aging technologies at some point in my lifetime. When I discuss the issue with friends or family members, they always bring up the population issue, as well as the fact that they wouldn't want to live a long time as an "old person." It's like they aren't even open minded enough to understand the concept! I always hated the thought of death and aging as long as I could remember. People tell me I need to make a decision as to what I want done with my body after I die. I find it rather hard to decide, as I don't want to die, and once I'm dead, does it really matter anyway? I really do not want to plan for the unpleasant, and unnecessary event,of my death!! I hope I, and many others who choose, will be spared of aging and death!

Posted by: Sarah Ashley at October 24th, 2010 7:43 PM

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