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Who wants to live to be 110?

Not me, per the cautionary tale of Tithonus, and contra this New York Times piece which, shock me, focuses on a transhumanist.

Certainly, I don't want to live to be 110 in today's United States, with overpriced medical costs.

Per Tithonus, I don't want to live to be 110 and deaf, at least half blind, and having my replacement corneas now giving me a second set of cataracts.

The piece focuses on the subset of "supercentenarians" that are not totally debilitated. I have no way of knowing how much of a bullseye fallacy it commits, but have no doubt it commits at least a bit of it, from pictures and stories of supercentenarians I've actually seen and read.

It also is pretty unscientific. It does mention luck, but only in passing to move on to genes. To the degree it talks indirectly about nurture, outside of luck, rather than the genes of nature, it ignores that much of the long-living lore of said people is at least partially contradictory, and, in cases where smoking is mentioned, is contraindicated for the general population.

Beyond that, it has other problems.

First, we know ever more today that the "one gene = one phylogenetic manifestation" is simply not true. For many, many things, even simpler than the complex we call aging, they're controlled by dozens if not hundreds of genes.

On the flip side of that, a single gene, in multiple different combinations with different other genes, may control for a tendency for (can't forget that — genes generally do not control for "X" directly, with the rare exception of something like Huntington's) a dozen or more different physical expressions.

And, the story doesn't even discuss epigenetics.

That said, if there is "something" behind being super-elderly, Sardinia says it's at least in part diet. But, the typical drooler over extra-long life probably doesn't want to hear that.

Other than that, there's nothing wrong with the story scientifically, of course. Other than not mentioning that this is just as much "just around the corner" as strong AI or something like that.

Also not mentioned — as the homo sapiens population of planet Earth already passes 7.5 billion, can we afford a bunch of people living to be 110?

This post first appeared on SocraticGadfly, please read the originial post: here

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Who wants to live to be 110?


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