Journalistic Views of Aging and Longevity Have Yet to Reach Maturity

While journalistic treatment of serious rejuvenation research has improved greatly over the past decade, the mainstream media remains decidedly childish at times. Much of the profession of journalism works hard at producing the appearance of educated folk paid to play the fool, writing for an imagined audience of inattentive, ignorant peers, while ensuring that their education slips through the mask just enough to be seen. It degrades the author and insults the world at large. Everyone in this picture is better than they are portrayed, capable of introspection and self-determination. I noted the article here because it veers from the histrionic to the sensible, covering in one outing a fair portion of the existing journalistic spectrum of quality and common sense regarding aging and age-related disease. It predictably asks whether or not we should work to make progress in medical science, thereby producing far longer healthy life spans - the manticore of journalistic balance in place of actual thought on the matter.

Advances in anti-aging medicine suggest that even serious life extension may be within reach. Millions of dollars have poured into longevity research ranging from the radical (head transplants, cancer-killing nanobots) to the slightly more recognizable (repurposing diabetes medications to kill off senescent cells, drugs to mimic genes that have quadrupled the lives of worms). The hotly debated question among longevity experts, in fact, is not whether we'll celebrate significantly more birthdays but how many more.

Saving a life and extending a life are part of the same continuum. When we save a life, with defibrillators or bypass surgery or by pulling someone who's drowning out of a lake, we move the time of death. "We all believe in postponing deaths. We all want our own deaths postponed and we invest vast amounts as individuals and societies in methodologies for achieving that. To withdraw from that is to say that postponing death is not a good thing."

For all but our most recent history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. Life expectancy has increased in the West mainly because fewer children are dying before that fifth birthday, mostly thanks to improved nutrition, sanitation, and vaccines. But modern medicine has also helped the "bottom to drop out later and later" - past 50, past 80, past 100. In Canada, for the first time in history, there are now more over-65s than under 15s, and the biggest boom is in the centenarians, whose numbers grew by 41 per cent from 2011 to 2016.

Still, when we do die we tend to follow a predictable period of decline. By age 85, half of us will have three or more major chronic diseases. Our lungs start to give out, our reflexes slow, our vision dims. But Aubrey de Grey hopes to pull us out of that dive. Reach age 40, say, and then go in for a series of "rejuvenation" tune-ups that return us to the biological fitness (inside and out) of a a 20- or 30-year-old. Repeat a few decades later. And again, and again - until we achieve what de Grey calls "longevity escape velocity," renewal at a pace faster than aging. SENS-funded researchers, some of them leaders in their field, are working towards a panel of rejuvenation therapies to repair or eliminate seven different kinds of biological "junk" that accumulates as we age - cell loss, mutations in chromosomes, death-resistant cells, and so on - so that we are able to get seriously old without falling apart.

Link: http://nationalpost.com/feature/do-you-really-want-to-live-foreverish

Comments

The problem is that when you check out the comments on that article, suddenly those 'inattentive, ignorant peers' aren't imaginary. Most people really are pretty stupid. So I don't generally have a problem with mainstream journalists treating their readers like idiots. What bothers me far more is how few forums there are for those of us who can think logically about this issue to host discussions and debates.

Posted by: TJ at April 12th, 2018 6:42 AM

Good points TJ. The problem in this social media age is that any Tom, Dick or Harry think their unqualified opinion carries more weight than an expert in a chosen field. I've read news articles quoting, for example, Stephen Hawking where commentators not only disagree but totally disregard his comments - as though their opinion carries more weight just because they don't like his views!

Posted by: Steven B at April 12th, 2018 10:24 AM

This was a good article. It even comes with a nice animation featuring Aubrey.

Not surprising, its a Canadian publication. Aubrey has always said that for some unknown reason, Canadians "Get it".

I'd like to bring up something however that we need to focus on. Its disgusting, but unsurprising.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/11/goldman-asks-is-curing-patients-a-sustainable-business-model.html

Here is another 'deathist' group. This time, they are some of the most powerful people on the planet.

Our job going forward just got tougher.

Posted by: Mark Borbely at April 12th, 2018 10:58 AM

Actually what Goldman Sacks s asking is whether it's sustainable to develop therapies for rare genetic disorders which cure the patient and in turn eliminating all their customer base.

To answer the question - just like their analysts pointed out - it's not sustainable, they should concentrate on more widespread diseases instead.

It's not as inhumane as it sounds, it's simple fact of life. Corporations are not charities. Charities on the other hand are charities.

Posted by: Anonymoose at April 12th, 2018 11:11 AM

@Anonymoose

Nope, corporations are not charities, that's for sure. But quotes like this make investors pause.

"GILD is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients".

Hep C is a pretty big patient group. Now, granted its not as big a group as the entire human population, however NO investor wants to see diminishing returns. GILD is a great example of what happens when we start to cure age related disease. Example, a good AGE breaker is going to drop the incidence of heart disease by A LOT. Almost 100%. Think of the lost revenue in ace-inhibitors, cholesterol drugs, etc etc etc.

Help me out here guys, I see it as a paradox. I hope Anonymoose you are right, and when it comes to absolute numbers, you are correct. I'm just hoping that short term myopia won't cloud out long-term interest in investing in real treatments for aging.

Posted by: Mark Borbely at April 12th, 2018 11:42 AM

Well in the case of aging and age related diseases the cures will have to be applied cyclically so the model is sustainable. No paradox there.

Posted by: Anonymoose at April 12th, 2018 11:52 AM

Another thing to keep in mind is that patents/exclusivity eventually expire, so a treatment has about 15 years once it gains popularity (it could take a few years for the patent application to the final approval and market acceptance)
And since there are many potential treatments in the pipeline even 15 years might be generous as a new arrival can be a direct competitor. And everybody above 40 will happily give 20% of their after tax incomes (well, have to account for mortgages and loans, etc) for rejuvenation therapies that are literally live saving...

Posted by: cuberat at April 12th, 2018 1:29 PM

Hi Mark ! Thanks for the link. Just a 2 cent.

I can imagine the fear of impossible revenue making when you start to cure people and they don't come back because they are finally healthy and cured (for a long time until need to be cured again as time passes). Suddenly, your pool of recurring money-making patients 'needing curing' begins to dwindle as every patient is cured. Effectively, there are no people/patients needing curing'. No more cash flow from loss of patients 'now cured'. This makes me think of big pharma that does not want you to be cured, only slightly patched with a Band-Aid plaster while you keep on bleeding - to not solve the problem at the source (aka stop the bleeding by closing wound), but they rathet put a temporary solution by slowing the symptoms but never solving the cause of these symptoms : a pill for your ill, they don't want to lose you as a customer $$$ - a bleeding patient that needs to keep on bleeding - never solve the bleeding only patch it temporarily. This way, they keep the patients - as (forever bleeding) patients (until patient slowly dies and then Proceeds to Next bleeding patient needing slight patch up to keep the bleeding slowed -still going- but not stopped) - forever supply of 'coming back for curing' patients - forever revenue $$$ making.
Big pharma wants only to temporarily patch symptoms, it does not care if you die in the process (and you will die, slow attrition, you will bleed out over time until empty/dead). Big pharma makes $$$ from your diseased body.
What happens if it is not diseased anymore and you are no longer a (bleeding) patient (the bleeding is completely stopped and cured - you are healthy). Big Pharma can no longer Make cash from your ''too healthy 'cured' body'' You're just too healthy and not needing of curing' anymore. You're not a money-making patient Client anymore. You make 0$ to Big pharma because you don't Need Big Pharma (aka you are truly cured and off the 'diseasedd patients in need of curing' market. Now, we can see why Big Pharma is so scared of losing you (and the cash$$$ flow you bring it from your diseased corpse) and wants to Keep you, Keep you Diseased -Enough- (by only treating symptoms) so thar you come back advitam eternam until you die. It does not see you as a human Life that needs curing' it sees you as a number on a Dollar$ list. And how long you stay on that list is what matters, That you stay $ on it the Longest possible is what matters to it.

It really is sick when money drives Life or Death Of You.
That an opportunistic industry takes advantage of your Diseased Dying corpse/Life/Soul.
because Dollar$ make the industry richer and thriving from your blood.
Of, Your dignity basically.

Just a 2 cent.

Posted by: CANanonymity at April 12th, 2018 1:44 PM

@Mark:

Water carrier was a profitable profession until pipes and water pumps were invented.

Scribe was a good job until printing press was invented.

Video killed the radio star.

Internet killed video rental.

...

People adapt. Companies adapt. Life goes on.

Posted by: Antonio at April 12th, 2018 4:23 PM

"Those pushing for extreme longevity are also the ultimate "haves," white, male tech billionaires"

Oh boy, it seems that Anglos can't refrain to frame every single topic around their skewed SJW worldview.
This is why ambitious trials need to take place outside Angloland. Not only to bypass the FDA which Reason so despises - but also to bypass the SJWs.

Posted by: Spede at April 12th, 2018 5:38 PM

The article points out that by 85, half of the people will have 3 or more chronic diseases. However, the article fails to point out that over half of the population will already be dead before they even reach 85, and those people have absolutely no chance of reaching LEV. A combination of these 2 existential realities is why we must work fast to extend longevity by developing a vast array of options, research possibilities to help all people everywhere to a longer and more health lifespan.

Posted by: Biotechy at April 13th, 2018 7:42 AM

@ Steven B
"I've read news articles quoting, for example, Stephen Hawking where commentators not only disagree but totally disregard his comments... "

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBHyhvqBBm0

I'm inclined to disregard Hawking's comments on life extension (but I would not disregard the the influence they may have on public opinion).

Posted by: CD at April 13th, 2018 3:58 PM

@CD: I wasn't actually aware Hawking had even passed comment on life extension.

Posted by: Steven B at April 13th, 2018 5:21 PM

It's more or less the same reply than Elon Musk gave. This is what happens when people talk outside their field of expertise. I don't understand why they don't shut up when they have no idea at all about some topic. If you haven't read anything about some field, why talking and risking to say some really stupid thing?

Posted by: Antonio at April 13th, 2018 6:20 PM

There seems to be a misconception among some journalists/editors/media producers that it is exceedingly rare to find a scientist or engineer that the public will find engaging so they rely on a handful of well-known ones for pretty much all subjects. It's annoying.

That's why I like World Science Festival's panel discussions by working scientists and engineers who are experts on the topic at hand. I found Dany Adams on the regenerative medicine panel to be particularly engaging - Q:"In terms of comic book characters, would you rather be Deadpool or Wolverine?" A:"Oh, I'm not that kind of nerd... " {they then explain the characters' abilities to her and I think she chose Deadpool}. The success of the panel discussion format also shows that the public can handle some degree of disagreement and controversy in science - in fact, it makes the discussions more interesting.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0vKOYQUmgg&t=673s

Posted by: CD at April 14th, 2018 10:31 AM

Sorry, wrong time stamp and I got the exchange on comic book characters a bit wrong (cognitive decline):
https://youtu.be/e0vKOYQUmgg?t=1h27s

Posted by: CD at April 15th, 2018 8:05 AM

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