The Rejuvenation Research journal is completely open access as of when I looked it over today. I believe that to be a fairly recent change, so those of you without subscriptions might want to wander through the archives in search of interesting reading. In particular you might find the editorials by Aubrey de Grey to be well worth reading, and looking over those articles should provide great deal of insight into the state of aging research and the related noteworthy tensions and debates within the scientific community. Below is quoted the most recent editorial (in PDF format only, I'm afraid to say), followed by a couple of others that you may also find worthwhile:
The "isms" are not so easily consigned to history, as anyone who belongs to any of the respective groups knows all too well. But ageism has a particular distinction: the group most guilty of it is precisely those affected by it, i.e. the elderly themselves.
Really? How can I make such a claim? Surely the elderly are vocal in defence of their rights to be treated as equals with the young? In many ways they certainly are. But bizarrely, when it comes to their health everything is different. They tend to the view that medical care should be prioritized for those who have not yet enjoyed a good innings. If you haven't encountered this yourself and don't believe me, try it: talk about it to a few retirees and you're in for a shock.
Let's look under the hood a bit. Why would the elderly take this view? It turns out to be very easy to explain. In a world in which aging is truly inevitable, forever, there is a pretty solid ethical basis for the idea that equitable distribution of aggregate quality of life among all people translates into working harder to maintain or restore the health of the young than the old, simply because they have more to gain before the inevitable final curtain falls. And that's exactly the premise that the elderly are non-randomly more likely than the young to adopt, since they've had that much longer having it drilled into them by the rest of humanity. They've lost the ability to aim high.
So I come to my call to action. Throughout history, humanity has only acted energetically against discrimination when those who are suffering it led the way. Therefore, we need to change this attitude on the part of the elderly, and fast, if we are to maximize humanity's cognizance of the horror of aging and its urge to defeat it as soon as science allows. We need to make the aged less ageist. And the only way we can do it is by educating them that aging is within striking distance of being brought under comprehensive medical control: the same sort of control that they are familiar with - but their parents, or at least their grandparents, were not - in respect of the diseases, such as tuberculosis and diphtheria, that back then claimed over one third of all babies before the age of one.
In practice, researchers do make estimates of probabilities of success all the time - in choosing what projects to work on, in evaluating each other's work during peer review, etc. So the issue here is actually not the assessment itself, but the publicizing of the assessment. Researchers in aging are acutely aware of the intense hope with which their work is followed by the wider world, and are paralyzed by fear of over-selling and under-delivering, which (they presume) would result in their being painted as no better than the purveyors of miracle anti-aging cures of time immemorial.
To me, it is that attitude which is reprehensible. Whether or not it is true [that] the loss of reputation arising from such over-selling (if it turned out so to be) would be so awful as to outweigh the funding considerations, that dilemma is between two purely selfish motives - money now and notoriety-driven shortage of money later, or less money now but reputation untarnished. What my colleagues should, in fact, be asking themselves is how they can best repay society for its decision to give them their chosen life of freedom from the private-sector rat race. (I will not digress into whether the academic rat race is any better.) I submit that the answer is clear: Researchers should say what they actually think. At present, it is customary for researchers to dangle the carrot of success in our research without mentioning time frames, thus conveniently protecting themselves from any chance of being seen as overoptimistic, but also failing to engender the public enthusiasm so vital for allowing the necessary research to actually happen. This cannot be allowed to continue.
There is no doubt whatsoever that therapies that significantly delayed the onset of age-related ill-health would be by far the most cost-effective category of medicine in history, whether that cost is measured in dollars or in human suffering. It is thus a paradox that so little effort is expended by governments or the private sector in the quest to develop such therapies, as compared to the vast amount spent on the very modestly effective treatments for age-related diseases and disability that we have today or on the equally modest prospective improvements on those treatments that disease-specific researchers aim to develop. I do not claim originality for this observation.
I believe that the main reason for this ostensibly misguided caution is that biogerontologists simply do not have good evidence that such a quest would even modestly succeed, even with a dramatic rise in the funds allocated to it. Though they are quite good at convincing themselves and each other of the promise of hypothetical "magic bullet" interventions - the most popular within the field being drugs that would mimic calorie restriction (CR) - they essentially never convince anyone with purse strings to hand. In my view, this is not because they lack marketing eloquence or motivation, but because the hard facts do not inspire objective confidence that successes seen thus far in the laboratory will ever, even in principle, translate to the clinic. The recent negative results in primate calorie restriction have surely rendered this problem even more intractable.