Writing Letters and Incompetent People

From: Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@aeiveos.wa.com)
Date: Sat Feb 05 2000 - 07:48:00 MST

The recent comment re: "Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, ..."

Is worth a read for people who didn't see it. It points out
one of the reasons many people on the list (who are presumably
pretty competent), keep bumping their heads against the reality
that exists in the world. I see it *a lot* in Russia where
you may have very educated people who will intelligently discuss
space, medical progress and subjects that can best be attributed
to Russian history/mysticism (lets say palm reading or astrology)
in the same conversation, seeming to apply the same relative
"reality merit" to them. Unfiltered "reality" acceptance has
to be the flip-side of the coin of "reality" rejection (by those
who are "incompetents".

Now, that brings us to the question of how do you promote "longevity"
given the "conventional wisdom" that this is impossible.

Tim Ventura (TVentura@illuminet.com) posted a nice suggestion:

> Are we just so much mush--sitting around and telling each other how
> great transhumanism is?

Here, here!!! It takes not only "dynamic optimisim" but dynamic *action*,
on both the personal level (e.g. signing up for cryonic suspension or
actively doing research in these areas or contributing to the appropriate
organizations) *and* a group level (running local transhumanist groups, or
educationg people in your family or at work and dealing with that nasty
messy thing called politics).

> I wrote to the whitehouse today (you can get there from www.whitehouse.gov)
> and asked Al and Tipper to de-regulate biotech when he takes office, which
> he probably will--because I'm just not seeing the progress from George W.

Well, Al is a pretty tech-lit guy but there are questions as to whether
he is in the pocket of Big Pharma. So there people have a basis for
discussions with their friends, family & politicians, I'll offer some
comments on how to move this forward.

a) Support the Life Extension Foundation (www.lef.org). Saul is doing a good
   job applying the profits they make from supplement sales to fundamental R&D.

b) Educate yourself about and invest in biotech. Everything from
   Geron's cloning research to the many companies working on both
   angiogenesis promotion (for working around clogged coronary
   arteries) and blocking (to stop cancer growth). There are many
   more examples. Find those topics of interest to you or your family,
   learn about them, and support research in those areas.

c) View Big Pharma (and biotech turning into big Pharma, such as Celera
   may be) as a double-edged sword. On the one hand they conduct a lot
   of research and expand our knowledge base, but they rarely have the
   perspective of "how can I give this patient one treatment that "fixes"
   this problem forever?". Ultimately we have to work in that direction.

d) Support government funding of basic research. Small companies can't
   do much of this and that which is done by Big Pharma is generally private.
   Small companies have to rely on government or investor support and
   investors are looking for short term ROIs. The more of such support
   there is the more research we will get that ultimately comes together
   as an understanding of aging and treatments for it.

e) Support moving the FDA from a gatekeeper to an Underwriters Laboratory
   type of organization. There are a lot of scam artists still in the
   world (as a trip to the A4M meetings will show). At the same time
   people die for lack of access to advanced treatments (e.g. all the
   people that might benefit from angiogenesis inhibitors that are
   unavailable because they are still in "trials" waiting for FDA approval.)
   A smart individual in a non-critical situtation should be able to
   use only FDA approved substances. At the same time, people should
   have the freedom to take risks with unapproved materials (or even
   be stupid, since the Web makes it easy for the FDA and watchdog groups
   to publish counter-stupidity material). We need to move from
   "Big Daddy says..." to "Uncle's advice is...".

f) Educate yourself, speak about life-extension as "gravity". Engage
   people in the conversation and break up those mental memes that
   say it "cannot happen". Discuss with people why they would not
   fundamentally want to live thousands of years in relative luxury.
   If they don't want to do this, go for the jugular of why they are
   not happy with their life. Expect them to squirm and wriggle.
   Every day, ask them what they are doing to prepare for their 1000'th
   Birthday party. Exhaust their arguments one by one until they flip.
   Once they flip get them to sign up for making it happen sooner.
   Being gravity is important -- once you get past the fact that
   this will happen, then the only thing that is important is how
   many people we lose before we get there.

There is relatively little "regulation" of biotech at this time that
is slowing down progress, other than that required for "prudent"
laboratory practices (we don't want to kill workers by accident).
As Clinton's recent proposals moving against Internet pharmacies
shows, the Democrats can from time to time get sucked into being tools
for the medical monopolies such as the AMA. (Internet pharmacies promote
peoples' choices, lower the barriers and costs to access to drugs, are
good for Big Pharma, but bad for local M.D.'s. Most importantly, the
current proposals increase the power of the Federal Goverment and the FDA
and that probably should be avoided.)

Finally, there is at least one pro-medical choice lobbyist in Washington D.C.
They played a role in previous legislation (the Hatch bill?) to protect
consumer choice with regard to supplements (something the FDA is testing
the limits on). They are currently pushing for legislation along the
lines of (e) above. Unfortunately, since they are pro-choice, they
also find themselves supported by, or in the company of, some rather
dubious types of medical practicioners. If you want to know more
about supporting the legal aspects, you should probably contact the
People's Medical Society (www.peoplesmed.org) or the A4M
(www.worldhealth.net). Unfortunately neither site seems to have
obvious links to "legislative" agendas, so you you have to probably
contact them directly for such information.


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