There are many fallacies regarding the implications of controlling aging but the main ones I have covered here in a list I compiled around 10 years ago called The Ten Fallacies Relating to the Ending of Aging
People have always aged; we shouldn't interfere with nature or God's will.
Throughout our history if there has been a route by which we can lead healthier, happier and more productive lives we have tended to take it, ridding the world of COVID-19 being a prime example, that is the reason why anti-aging medicine will progress down exactly the same route and why the argument that we are interfering with nature simply does not have any validity at all.
As soon as we had the means, historically we tackled all of the diseases which tended to kill people, for example, polio, smallpox — which used to kill millions. Infections which were one of the main killers before we had antibiotics because you must keep in mind that people could simply cut themselves while they were working in their backyard or women could suffer an infection during childbirth, which would kill both her and the baby. Even worse, something simple such as an infected finger or toe could lead to amputation of the whole hand or foot because there was no other route to bring the infection under control, even that frequently didn't work because there was no way that you could actually prevent infection which could arise from the amputation itself. These days not only are there antibiotics but we have retroviral drugs to tackle AIDS, we have insulin to manage diabetes, Ace inhibitors and beta-blockers to tackle high blood pressure, we attacked COVID-19 very aggressively developing vaccines in well under a year so the list is endless. Add in all the surgical procedures such as cataract surgery, new joints and all sorts of other interventions such as cardiac surgery, for example, a heart bypass or stents which increase the person's quality of life and the trend is pretty obvious. As soon as we can bring aging under a decisive level of clinical control, clearly we will.
The most bizarre thing in my mind is that we seem to try and tackle the main diseases of aging such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other neurodegenerative diseases individually but what we seem to fail to grasp is we're not actually attacking the root cause which is aging itself we are simply attacking the end result. Tackle aging and you would inevitably address the diseases of aging because these conditions mainly affect old people and do not frequently strike at the young.
Eliminating aging means that the world would be massively overpopulated.
This is not necessarily the case when you look at the reality of the situation because the population is not increasing everywhere and in fact falling in many countries. below is a current list which shows 20 the countries where population is declining along with projections of the total percentage reduction by 2050:
Personally, based on the above, I feel that overpopulation issues which might arise due to the development of treatments to control and reverse aging are highly exaggerated. It’s undoubtably possible that controlling aging might exacerbate overpopulation issues in some countries in Africa and Asia but even there the birthrate is falling although currently it’s still far too high, regardless this will not be an issue for around 30 years after aging has become a treatable condition and must also be viewed together with technological progress that will increase the world’s carrying capacity. The other factor is that it's already becoming very apparent that in developed countries the tendency to have smaller families and less children is a consistent trend and has been for many years, and as I said above the birth rate is even dropping in many Third World and developing countries so I don't see that bringing aging under a decisive level of medical control would inevitably lead to the population catastrophe used as a justification for not tackling aging by many people.
My personal belief is that when people know that they are going to live for a very long time it is highly probable they will take the decision either not to have children at all or to delay having children until late in life which is already possible due to recent developments to delay the menopause and extend fertility, medical progress in the future will have an even more important impact in this area.
There are several additional factors which must be kept in mind when it comes to the population which I have outlined below; they are something we should all take on board.
1. People not dying does not add to the population growth rate. Only people having children adds to the population.
2. The younger people have children, the faster their population grows.
3. The longer people live, the later they start having children.
4. The later people start having children, the fewer children they tend to have.
5. Declining fertility rates, when combined with anti-aging medicine, will inevitably create a society with more older people and less younger people.
The points above clarify why around the world, the countries with the longest lived populations have slow growth rates - leaving out immigration which is not new people, just people moving from A to B. And the countries with the fastest population growth rates all have short life spans.
I should also explain one further factor which is likely the single most important consideration which is that any average number of children per couple that is less than 2 is no longer exponential growth, as asymptotic growth to an eventual maximum. Simplest case example, if the average per couple was 1 child, the population could never double regardless of all the other factors, even if no one ever died. If the birth rate was 1.8 children per couple over time the population would still decline although more slowly.
Eliminating aging means we will live forever and never die.
This is something which a lot of people say to me but it is completely incorrect because curing aging simply means that you will not die through becoming old and hence more prone to chronic diseases but does not preclude that you could be knocked over crossing the street, get attacked by a shark, be involved in some sort of accident or suffer a fate which potentially could kill someone now even if they were only 22 or 23 years old. Eliminating aging simply means that a person. For example, at age 65 would potentially have the biological health of a 35-year-old, so their risk of dying from disease would be massively reduced but it does not preclude any of the other causes of death.
An actuary told me a while back that if we excluded aging as a cause of death it will be quite realistic that we would live to around 700 years on average until we succumbed to some other event which killed us. I tend to go along with this because at age 20/25 you have a 1/1000 chance of dying in any given year after that the risk increases exponentially but it wouldn’t if biologically you remained as you were in your 20s.
As far as accidents when I look at my own situation from a personal perspective and think of all the times I could have been killed such climbing the cliffs near my house to escape a rockfall and nearly falling, almost crashing 20ft into my swimming pool when it had no water in it because I was stupid enough to lean back on a ladder while working on the waterfall, then when I factor in having had motorcycle accidents, and accidents on horses all of which I've had several times plus numerous other things. Any one of these could have been potentially life-threatening and I’m sure I am not alone with these sort of risks which are mostly avoidable but luckily I got away with it so far where some people probably didn’t.
“If I lived to a really great age all my friends and family would be dead”.
This is a completely ludicrous fallacy because why would you survive and your friends and family not to make it too? The reality is that when rejuvenative medicine is developed not just a handful of people will benefit but the vast majority, this is because sick and elderly people are extremely expensive for government health services such as Medicare (US), NHS (UK) and Provincial Healthcare (Canada) etc, also older people are frequently retired and drawing retirement benefits it's much better if they remain fit and active and can contribute to society by being productive and economically involved.
You would just take a pill once-a-day and live forever!
If only it were so simple! This fallacy completely oversimplifies the situation because aging is due to the progressive accumulation of molecular and cellular damage and it’s not going to be a simple case of taking a pill it will be reliant on gene therapies, telomere lengthening therapies, stimulation of the immune system to remove the garbage which builds up in the body and also stem cell therapies to replace the loss of the cells which we need that are no longer replaced due to old age. Is also not the case that it will simply be a discovery where suddenly we find that we have discovered the cure for aging. It will be a combination of progressively evolving therapies becoming ever more effective over a period of time.
I appreciate it’s hard to people to understand exactly how we would ultimately beat aging but it’s actually quite easy to follow and what this means in essence is this, let’s say you are 60 years old at the time of the first intervention and that this early and fundamentally imperfect treatment repairs 75% of the accumulated damage. Then 10 years later you would reach the chronological age of 70 but would be biologically only 45 years old and look and feel like a 45 year old. We now come to the vital key to the whole theory which is this, let's say 20 years after the first treatment, when you are chronologically 80 but biologically 55 years old, clearly both your doctor and yourself will realize that the damage that was not repaired in the first treatment combined with further damage accumulated over the 20 years since is again posing a health risk. At this point it is time for another intervention. It is now that the progress in medicine comes into play because, by the time 20 years has gone by, anti-aging medicine will have moved on significantly and, whilst the first treatment bought you an extra 20 or 30 years by repairing a fair amount of the damage accumulated over 60 years of living, it did not repair it all. 20 years later progress will mean that the latest treatment will not only repair all of the damage corrected by the first intervention but also some of the damage that was not able to be repaired 20 years earlier so in essence you are now chronologically 80 (but biologically in your 50s) and having intervention number 2 which will not only repair all of the damage that was repaired by intervention 1 (along with the 20 years of damage since the first intervention) but also some (but probably still not all) of the damage that couldn't be repaired by the first treatment. This means that, whilst you will have aged 20 years, chronologically you will be biologically younger after the second intervention than you were after the first.
All of the current routes toward bringing aging under a decisive level of medical control do not actually propose that we will find a cure in the very near future (my guess is that we will get to that point toward the end of this century) what we will be able to do is manage aging as a chronic condition through regular interventions every 5 to 10 years which will achieve radical life extension without actually curing aging itself. I recommend looking at this website for more information www.sens.org although SENS is not the only path to dealing with aging I'm a firm believer that SENS and other SENS type therapies are the most likely route to get us to where we aim to go within a time frame that will benefit most people who are currently alive.
But it won't be any good to us because they're only going to give it to the really wealthy people and politicians.
I'm never quite clear who people actually mean by “they” as if there is some sort of conspiracy. It will of course be costly in the early days as with any other newly developed cutting edge therapy but the price will drop very rapidly and the more people that are receiving the therapy the more money will be generated. We also have to factor in that old people are frequently extremely unwell with multiple chronic conditions and cannot contribute to society in many of the ways that they would like nor can they work.
Clearly enhanced longevity means the implications for health services, work and retirement are profound and as I see it retirement will need a complete rethink because it cannot continue as it does now even in the short term because let’s assume you started work at 20 and retired at 60 you would have worked for 40 years so if you live to 85 or 90 you will be retired 25 or 30 years, would the savings last? Probably not! Now factor in if you lived even longer because we have not even taken account of anything more than an increase in life expectancy based on current rates of progress (and I expect we will greatly exceed that within 25 years) and clearly retirement when you start talking about working for 40 years and being retired for more years than you worked will frankly just not be realistic in the age of radical life extension.
If you live for a very long time you will look absolutely terrible, be in extreme pain and could spend decades in a nursing home.
This is one of the most ridiculous arguments of all because basically you could not continue to deteriorate from the position you would be in if you lived, for example, to the age of 90.You're already so close to the edge that it won't take very much to push you over, the crazy thing is that people seem to think you would just linger and drag on for decades It almost impossible to understand why people could fail to see that that just could not happen.
Nobody who works in developing anti aging medicine and life-extension technologies is aiming for people to spend an extra 50 or 60 years in a nursing home. Treatments for aging will not be a cure for death: the objective is to extend healthy life by enabling people to have the physiology of young adults regardless of how long ago they were born.
The Government will ban it.
As far as organizations such as Medicare in the US and the NHS in the UK are concerned the treatments to control aging are likely to be much cheaper than the horrific costs currently incurred in treating heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, Alzheimer’s and other incapacitating degenerative illnesses which impair a person’s quality of life. These conditions also create unsustainable burdens on social services by confining people to nursing homes where they can make little contribution to society. These chronic conditions are something which become a problem in later life and do not usually affect young people. Keep in mind that most people cost the health services more in their final year of life than in all of the rest of their life combined.
Aging is extremely bad for people. Not only is it a cause of suffering it is degrading to people who feel they are dependent on others for their basic day to day needs. I had an aunt who died at 85 a few years ago who started having falls, then she got trapped in the bath for 7 hours, after this she was OK for a few months then fell again and became hospitalized and was transferred to a nursing home where she could not deal with even her basic hygiene requirements. Mentally she was 100% competent right to the end so the question has to be asked: can this be right when millions of old people are in this position and we are close to being able to intervene and do something about it? The answer to this is clearly we need to do what we can because sick elderly people are extremely costly to governments and therefore keeping them active and well will be the most cost-effective route to reduce the burden of the elderly on society generally, not only that but many countries such as Japan which have a falling population the number of people available for work is rapidly declining if you were fit and healthy for decades there would be no reason to retire. If people do not suffer the declining years of old age, healthcare and the economy will benefit very significantly once we are at a stage where aging becomes a manageable condition.
You'll tire of life and not want to live the extra years.
This does not hold water at all because the extra years are not the same at different ages. What I mean is, when I was 20, being 50 seemed old. Now pushing 60 I don’t know why I thought my 30th birthday meant my life was as good as over and I was passed it! I remember thinking at my party after drinking endless glasses of Champagne “my god this is the end it’s all downhill from here” Thus, the fallacy exposed is that "A certain age is too old to ever want to be", meaning that you can get "TOO OLD". But, no, it's often not "too old" when you are that age. I find that now at the age I am with a longstanding partner 20 years younger that life is just as much fun as ever.
If you have your health and a desire for new experiences this belief is just as much of a fallacy as the others but it’s one the young would tend to believe and why shouldn't they? When you are 20 it makes total sense in the absence of the requisite sense of perspective.
The impact on humanity will be very significant and change everything.
I agree with this 100% because in many ways it will flip everything upside down, this is because most of the advantages in life will be vested in the old where currently they are vested in the young. Examples of how things will change are that if people are not dying in their 70s or 80s money will not filter down to the next generation, also if you are elderly and fit, why retire? Company bosses could remain in their jobs for decades or more, what about pensions? Clearly you can retire at say 67 then just keep drawing your pension decade after decade. Also in the world of sport if you don’t decline with age (most sportsmen are past their peak at 30) why would they retire? None of these regardless of the issues they create are reasons for us to decide against tackling aging because everyone ultimately becomes old and it's not as if we won't have any warning once we approach the stage where we can bring aging under a decisive level of clinical control, by the time we have determined that we can take a batch of mice that are already well into late middle age - e.g two years old (they normally live to around three years old) and push it out to five years old we will have proof of concept although in my opinion at that point we will still be approximately 10 years away from the point where such an intervention can be applied to humans, having said that I think proof of concept in mice could well arrive within less than five years and interestingly I was informed by a researcher that these mice are already alive and undergoing the various treatments, that might suggest they are 2 or more currently. The important point is it's not as if comprehensive rejuvenative medicine is going to suddenly arrive out of the blue without warning, we will know in the early days that the treatments will be rapidly refined and become ever more effective but we will still have more than enough time to plan.
Current research is indicating that we are very much on the right track and things are going very much in the right direction as indicated by rapid progress in several area - see https://medium.com/predict/stop-the-clock-clinical-trials-that-target-human-aging-375a87a3879a
The fact of the matter is by the time we can rejuvenate these rodents comprehensively we will realize that we will very soon have the means to radically change what it means to be old in humans as well and more importantly to change what being old looks like. Clearly it goes without saying that there will be changes to the structure of society because currently money filters down from relatives who have died to the younger generations and clearly that will change and it will undoubtedly impact the real estate market. We cannot anticipate exactly what the changes will be but we can also look at things from the viewpoint that we will not see a change take place over a very short time frame where it is not manageable because it will happen over two or three decades and not over a period of five or ten years. We don't know at this stage how far off the first effective anti-aging therapies are but what we can reasonably assume is they are with a 60% probability not less than 10 years away and probably not much more than 20 years. I would say the odds of success this century are around 90% with the 10% factored in just in case we hit an unexpected obstacle which based on the way things are progressing is very unlikely.
The other thing to consider as far as impact on the population is that we generally see that as people become wealthier they have a desire to contribute to the well-being of their community There's also the inescapable fact that people would be much more responsible environmentally and have a much greater desire to keep their neighborhoods safe and ensure that they are pleasant places to live because they will be living there for much longer.
Finally this survey covering all ages is rather interesting because it demolishes many preconceptions which people tend to have, even I was quite surprised when I read the outcome which is at this LINK
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