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Is radical human life extension possible? An introduction to the theory and science behind longevity research

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And an even deeper thought... maybe human evolution has resulted in advanced coping mechanisms around our mortality (we seem ‘wired’ with the capacity for deep mystical experiences and beliefs about existence outside of our bodies and beyond death). Maybe we actually SHOULD all be terrified about the idea of non-existence, you ask, what good will that do? It will lead to a much stronger focus on solving “the death problem”. Maybe more billionaires like Musk and Gates would drive new advancements? Maybe it would actually be a good thing to spread some terror? It sounds crazy, but worth considering... 😉. Don’t get me wrong, paralyzing terror isn’t good for anyone, but a little terror has its benefits, haha.

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On 9/3/2020 at 10:48 PM, TomBAvoider said:

It's the process of dying that is so scary.

Hmm. On a few occasions when I was sick, or in great pain, I understood a few things. It's tolerable, because you expect that state to end so that you are no longer in pain or sick. But what if this state of sickness/pain were to persist, and become what's known as "chronic pain" or chronic condition of some kind? It's easy to imagine. And at that point it may no longer be tolerable. When the quality of life is that poor, death can easily be a more inviting prospect. There's also a lot to the game of expectations. A cancer patient in their 30's or 40's even if they're suffering, has the awareness that they have not really lived a full lifetime and should - were it not for cancer - be able to live for decades more. They still have ambition or unfulfilled dreams that can still be actualized if only they get better. Crucially, they still know they have the strength and raw capability to accomplish great goals or ambitions. But what if you are in your old age, and don't have that energy or capability anymore? You don't feel strong or clear-headed enough to accomplish much at all - no books to be written, no music, no discovery, no accomplishment of any kind, because it's not in you anymore, you are way, WAY past your prime, you're a pale shadow of your former self... what reason do you have for hanging on? And then you throw in great pain and suffering from illnesses and your life prospects are nil. What then?

I believe that getting old is the biological process of preparing you for death that's easy psychologically. It's NATURAL. When young you fear death. When old, you no longer care. You just DON'T CARE.

I think at that point, death seems not terrifying at all. Not existing as a prospect is not terrifying. When you're young or still full of vigour - OF COURSE you don't want to lose your life because your experience of life is of quite a high quality. But when that quality is in the toilet, what exactly are your afraid of losing? You have no energy. Your mind is fuzzy. You have no prospects. Nobody is going to fall in love with you and you're irrelevant to the world. And then, the PAIN, the constant terrible PAIN. 

In that state, there is exactly ZERO mystery as to why people might not experience "terror" when thinking "gee, I might no longer experience this bowel movement of a life! what a loss that would be... NOT!". 

As a matter of fact, it can happen a lot earlier and without ill health. Coincidentally I had this conversation with a friend not long ago. He was always extremely terrified of death and thought of it constantly. But now that he's reached his late 50's, he suddenly feels no fear at all. As he put it, if he doesn't wake up tomorrow, so what - he isn't afraid of that prospect. What changed? Well, he came out on the other side of his midlife crisis - he realized with exquisite clarity that he will never fulfill his dreams, he will never become what he wanted to be and accomplish the things he dreamed of when he was young. He realized, that from the perspective of his youth, he was a comprehensive failure. And since he had no more prospects, he shot his wad at life, well, if he were to die, so be it, what is there to regret and fear? It's not like living longer is going to allow him to accomplish his dreams. He's healthy and not in pain. It's just that he understood that in the race of life, he has LOST. He's been left behind. He feels no desire to go on. And he lives on only because of inertia. Mechanically. So if he buys the farm, well f*** it, so be it. No TERROR of non-existance at all. He's completely lost his fear of death. 

So as you can see, it doesn't take much to understand that experiencing TERROR at the prospect of death is only one of many possible reactions to the prospect of death. And none is more logical than the other one. It's just that historically we've priviledged the perspective of TERROR and fear of death - a state that's by no means the only logical one. There are perfectly logical and valid reasons not to fear death AT ALL.

And my feeling has always been - well, there's nothing I can do to prevent death, so why worry about it? Why freak out and be terrorized? How does living in terror make my life better, since it won't prevent death anyway? And if so - f*** it, I will ignore it. Tell me something new. I ain't stressing over something I can't control. Sure, I'll take any sensible measures - taking care of my health etc. - to make the likelyhood of death as small as possible, but I'll sum up my attitude the way I always put it to my wife: "I'm doing the best I can. And if I croak anyway or become sick, well, I couldn't have done better, so why should I stress about it?" So my philosophy is: do the best you can, have a clear conscience that you've done what you could, and therefore there is zero reason to stress and have regrets and worry. I've done my "duty" to my body - and now I'm free from worry, regrets and fears. Would I have liked to live forever or at least much, much longer? Absolutely! But since I can't, I ain't gonna worry about it. YMMV.

Tom this is a really remarkable description! I am so impressed!  
 

my experience 3 1/2 years ago of heart failure due to severe aortic Stenosis Caused by damage from early life rheumatic fever almost exactly was as you describe. I would climb a flight of stairs and feel like I was going to pass out. Life lost its luster. In that condition the only thing that I enjoyed was sleeping and death never seemed more desirable. You are so on the mark! The irony is that once I got through surgery my angst wrt death returned just as you would predict I’m sure based on your keen observations. I would  add that suicide is certainly to a great extent brought on by this very real change in perspective.

wrt The Denial of Death, I read it many years ago. Becker was an anthropologist and he looked at the religious, spiritual stuff as all ways to avoid what was for him a Simple fact. Of course this is the typical scientific, deterministic perspective. Angst is natural selections way of keeping us alive, but of course not too much,  else wise it could be a problem, right? IAC, natural selection aside, what is reality? 
  I’m not totally committed to any definitive position wrt the ultimate reality. We just don’t know. I look at it all as an awesome mystery and one we are not even close to comprehending A case can and has been made that the insights of so called mystics throughout history were not just about denial but were it seems to many, including some very reputable scientists, quite Compelling and consistent with what we are seeing in modern physics. The Tao of physics by Fritjof Capra being just one of many examples. These so called mystics tendency is  toward experiencing an interconnected reality that is cross cultural and very similar to each other. One of the key characteristics is that so called ordinary consciousness is like a dream that we wake up from. That said, I find it compelling because even science would not deny the almost overtly obvious fact that we are all part and parcel of this totality we call reality. We are literally the stuff of stars as they say. The idea of the individual, distinct self is an obvious delusion as the Buddhist maintain and one that is obliterated in so called mystical consciousness. So intellectually it is obvious we are all interconnected and not these separated selves, but that is one thing. The other is experiential. IOWS Can one actually experience the obvious, because again natural selection doesn’t want us hanging out in some mystical state where it’s all well and good. No we need to feel separate and vulnerable for evolution to work. But that does not even come close to meaning it’s at all a true conception of what is really going on. It’s just a necessity of a particular process.  
 

as to psychedelics the great writer Aldous Huxley described psilocybin as simply a tool that supressed the ego and “opened the doors of perception”. The mri studies have validated this to some extent. So it appears psilocybin opens up areas of our brain that are normally supressed. In other words the drug Does not cause the psychological effects, but rather sets up a situation that allows areas of the brain to open up. This might be a gateway for the less sensitive of us to perceive states of consciousness that so called mystics throughout history were able to access. 


 

 


 

 

Edited by Mike41

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I do wonder how "compressed morbidity" and increased healthspan will impact people's willingness to die. If Tom and Mike are right I would assume as we increase healthspan/compress morbidity and fewer people are living out their twilight years in chronic pain that the demand for anti-aging research will actually increase, since you have less of that "I'm in so much pain just end it already" mindset.

In a different vein, and more CR-focused, as anyone read either James Clement's "The Switch" or Valter Longo's "The Longevity Diet"? I'm thinking of picking up the former based on a podcast interview with the author and was wondering if anyone has read both and can compare them? https://www.longevityadvice.com/longevity-books/

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n a different vein, and more CR-focused, as anyone read either James Clement's "The Switch" or Valter Longo's "The Longevity Diet"? I'm thinking of picking up the former based on a podcast interview with the author and was wondering if anyone has read both and can compare them.

Im quite familiar with Longo and his fasting mimicking diet. He’s a good and decent human being as far as I know. He takes no profits from his book sales as far as I know. IAC, I would love to ask him this: if this FMD is so effective why have we never seen it show up with the millions of people who go on diets all the time. America’s most popular eating strategy going on diets. It’s been like this for decades. 

 

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On 9/14/2020 at 9:04 AM, Mike41 said:

if this FMD is so effective why have we never seen it show up with the millions of people who go on diets all the time

Because it's not bacon and cheese like keto (AKA Atkins) and it is neither palatable, nor easy for most people.

Much easier to cut out grains, fruits, and vegetables....

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Increased frequency of intentional weight loss associated with reduced mortality: a prospective cohort analysis.Willis EA, Huang WY, Saint-Maurice PF, Leitzmann MF, Salerno EA, Matthews CE, Berndt SI.BMC Med. 2020 Sep 17;18(1):248. doi: 10.1186/s12916-020-01716-5.PMID
 

Thank you Al Pater you answered my question in the previous post. If this study is accurate it appears dieting DOES have positive effects which could be autophagy etc. related to FMD

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6 hours ago, Mike41 said:

... If this study is accurate it appears dieting DOES have positive effects which could be autophagy etc. related to FMD

The positive dieting conclusion appears to hold for dieting early in life (to me it's crazy that someone in their teens or 20s can let themselves become obese).

Later in life, going on a diet may not be so helpful:

Weight change across adulthood in relation to all cause and cause specific mortality: prospective cohort study

Conclusions Stable obesity across adulthood, weight gain from young to middle adulthood, and weight loss from middle to late adulthood were associated with increased risks of mortality.

Of course, this does not address the type of diet or the reasons for it.

If one goes on a diet of steak, eggs and bacon, which is what Atkins was and which is what for many keto is, and avoids healthy carbs,  then the chances of keeping over sooner rather than later would increase accordingly, with the corresponding weight reduction.

Similarly, if one is diagnosed with several comorbidities and then goes on a successful diet (and most would choose keto over whole grains, fruits, and vegetables), then again, mortality may very well increase.

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On 9/4/2020 at 3:22 PM, Gordo said:

And an even deeper thought... maybe human evolution has resulted in advanced coping mechanisms around our mortality (we seem ‘wired’ with the capacity for deep mystical experiences and beliefs about existence outside of our bodies and beyond death). Maybe we actually SHOULD all be terrified about the idea of non-existence, you ask, what good will that do? It will lead to a much stronger focus on solving “the death problem”. Maybe more billionaires like Musk and Gates would drive new advancements? Maybe it would actually be a good thing to spread some terror? It sounds crazy, but worth considering... . Don’t get me wrong, paralyzing terror isn’t good for anyone, but a little terror has its benefits, haha.

Thanks for sharing that Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant. I had no idea Nick Bostrom wrote something like that, it should be required reading in every school, so that people would finally stop accepting death as something inevitable and instead get inspired to start working toward achieving immortality, which we as humanity will definitely achieve at some point. But the sooner it will be the more lives will be saved. Like Nick Bostrom writes in the story, achieving immortality even 1 year sooner would mean tens of millions lives saved.

Edited by Lucius

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19 hours ago, Saul said:

You're gonna DIE!

  --  Saul

Thats what I'm talkin' about, spread a little more terror everywhere you go like Saul and get more people thinking about their own mortality. ;) 

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