Friday, September 25, 2009

Discovery lede of the week

A Modest Proposal: How to Stop Aging Entirely
By Aubrey de Grey and Michael Rae

Lede: “In my view, we can probably eliminate aging as a cause of death this century—and possibly within just a few decades, soon enough to benefit most people currently alive.”

Originally, the title popped out at me because it began with “A modest proposal.” I had read an essay by Jonathan Swift with this title a few years ago; it was a satire that suggested eating babies to control population and feed the starving masses. But this article, obviously, was not the same thing. The lede grabbed my attention at once because of its insinuation toward the so called fountain of youth. I assumed this article would go on to describe new technologies or medical advances and how they could be used to prolong life even more. However, I was sorely disappointed when I discovered this article had nothing to do with finding any “fountain of youth”; it wasn’t even about any fountain!

The article did NOT live up to my expectations. It began with a rant about people becoming immortal, yet it never gave any kind of scientific information at all. It then proposes several ideas of how wonderful things would be if people just never died. It never mentions anything about all the negative aspects of this feat. What about over-population? We are drastically sliding closer to our carrying capacity each day, and they are proposing that no one should ever die? What is going to happen to the masses of starving people out there now when we add more and more mouths to feed and never take any away? It would be ironic if the authors had mentioned eating the babies, just because they share the title with Swift’s essay. There is no way this is a feasible or sustainable approach. Are we supposed to never have any more children? I bet that will happen.
The article goes on to a rant about cancer. I thought we were talking about never dying? The rapid subject shift was odd and I was just confused as to why there would be so much of a rant about nothing to introduce the idea that we should find the cure to cancer. This is not an article on how to stop aging entirely. It doesn't even determine how to eliminate cancer. This article left me wanting more: more substance, more information, and more logic. This article was a modest proposal, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. If you're interested in finding out more, you could start with the SENS Foundation research pages and introduction: