RE: Medical news

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Tue Jul 03 2001 - 22:02:16 MDT


quoted Harvey Newstrom

> > More profound than the medical breakthroughs are the detailed arguments
> > against these breakthroughs! The counter-arguments are scare, and even
> > suggest that longevity will give another Hitler a better chance
> > to take over
> > the world. They suggest that it would be horrible if money could buy
> > longevity, or if the rich got healthy before the poor. There is an
> > doomsday scenario based on the horrors of longer life. It is hard to
> > imagine that these views *against* health and longevity even exist.
> > article fairly presents opposing viewpoints, and the depth and strength
> > those viewpoints is profoundly disturbing.

And went on to conclude:

>It is not unreasonable to assume that Western governments could quite
>cheerfully retard antiaging breakthroughs by a couple of decades in
>to luddite and religious pressure groups. This has happened for
>of reproduction and numerous drugs. If this comes to pass, we will all die
>of old age.
>Ergo, this would seem to be one of the more important items on our
>collective to do list -- to say the least.

I agree with this.

I could only get the link to work for the life extension article. It is, in
many ways, an impressive article: detailed, thoughtful, seemingly
well-researched (though others may be better qualified than I to detect any
technical errors).

Like so many such articles by journalists, it makes an assumption that death
is good and "natural" in the scheme of things and should not ultimately be
fought against. We should simply try to be healthier during our allotted
years, and this is the "proper" role of medicine.

The fact that so many journos and other writers find any view other than the
above almost inconceivable suggests that it is probably common in the wider
community. The view that I imagine all on this list share, that there is so
much to do that we need *much* more than the 70 or 80 or 90 years that
constitute "old age", probably has little popular resonance at this stage.

I think a lot of work needs to be done, getting out the viewpoint that
radical life extension would be a good thing - the same sort of work as many
of us are putting into defending stem cell research, therapeutic cloning

I don't know whether this list can really coordinate such work. I doubt it.
Moreover, we all have different talents and different opportunities. But I'd
encourage those of us whose abilities and opportunities are in this
direction to write and speak whenever you can to respond about the supposed
social and moral issues surrounding life extension technology. If a strong
and seemingly reasonable message is getting out in numerous local forums,
and in wider forums whenever one of us has the clout to be heard there, this
must have a gradual effect in countering the anti-life-extension message (I
originally wrote "propaganda", but that word is not really right when we're
dealing with thoughtful and sincere material that we happen to disagree

Here in Australia, I've seen a lot of anti-life-extension material. I've
seen very little in reply except from Damien, plus one pretty solid article
that I had published a couple of years ago and a couple of stories that I've
had published (which are not at all stridently pro-life-extension, so
perhaps they don't count). I expect that you would all, in your various
countries and states, have had similar experiences. There's a lot of work to
do in producing solid material that might give pause to those who either
haven't thought deeply about the issue or who imagine there is a justifiable
consensus against the desirability of extended life spans.


Russell Blackford

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