Paradigm shift needed


Considering the success of the moon race, why isn’t there a comparable race against aging and its terrible diseases? Why is there so much opposition to promising developments such as therapeutic cloning or stem cell research? Why is modern medicine, and society at large, investing so much in trying to extend the last years of life (often spent in a nursing home) instead of trying to extend the period of youthful vigor?

Mainstream medicine, called “Mortalist Medicine,” operates from the mortalist paradigm: it assumes that aging is “normal” and nothing can be done about it. Weight gain, hearing and vision loss, a rise in blood pressure, a decline in muscle mass—all these are regarded as normal manifestations of aging. Since aging is not regarded as a disease, much less the most important disease, it is acceptable to treat only the symptoms of this universal, underlying degenerative syndrome. It is OK to treat heart disease or Alzheimer’s, but not OK to try to slow the aging process itself, much less aim at physiological rejuvenation—even though this would be the most cost-effective solution to the catastrophic rise in medical costs as the population ages.

We think medicine badly needs a paradigm shift. Aging itself must be classified as a disease—“the master disease, the one disease that will sooner or later kill every one of us on this planet, unless we decrypt its legal code. This view of aging is already accepted by regenerative medicine, which tries to regenerate and rejuvenate the body. Physicians practicing regenerative medicine understand that the most cost-effective approach to combating various “diseases of aging” is to keep the patient physiologically young.

The time has come for man to get over his cosmic inferiority complex. To rise above his condition – and to use technology to extend himself beyond his biological limitations.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Paradigm shift needed

  1. why isn’t there a comparable race against aging and its terrible diseases?

    Because 99% of the population has never been invited to take a serious look at aging as a solvable problem.

    Why is there so much opposition to promising developments such as therapeutic cloning or stem cell research?

    Because of religious taboos, and stupid memes about hubris assimilated in childhood from defeatist folk tales like the story of Icarus.

    The time has come for man to get over his cosmic inferiority complex.

    It will happen. Paradigm shifts have happened before. All we can do is keep trying to reach and educate people. It’s a gigantic task, though. The enemy is not merely ignorance, but incredulity and clichés.

    In the meantime, though, we have managed to “extend the period of youthful vigor”. People of 50, 60, and 70 today are far more vigorous and healthy than people of those ages were a century ago, as well as far more likely to have live to those ages in the first place.

  2. There is a simple and cheap way to scientifically lengthen your life significantly, and is very likely the best and only current method as well: just deny yourself half the the daily recommended calories per day (i.e. http://www.crdiet.org – a nonproit organization). Frankly, it sickens me that people want a pill or other painless way to make them live significantly longer – if you don’t have the discipline to reform what you eat and how you eat, then you don’t deserve immortality.

    I am a member of the first generation of transhumans, and I will do what it takes to live a long long time, not because I fear death, nor that I love life, but that duty and will transcend nature.

    “Immortality will come to such as are fit for it; and he who would be a great soul in the future must be a great soul now.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Aging is an extremely complicated problem and it is very likely that the cure would be very complicated as well. I think there’s not going to be just one elegant solution like caloric restriction. It has to be a number of thing, because aging happens on all levels from molecular level to physological. Calori restriction has a great potential to prolong our lives, but it’s not a panacea, therefore there should be more research into the fundamental mechanisms of aging in different fields: genetics, epigenetics, neuroscience, immunology, endocrinology, etc.

      • I agree, simple and cheap CRdiet is not a cure – although, it could allow one to live long enough to take advantage of more advanced technologies (i.e. nano-technology in the blood that would actually fix damaged cells) that are expected to emerge in the coming decades. Even now supplements are coming out that seem very promising (i.e StemCell100, BigOne, or this beauty: http://rt.com/news/ageing-problem-medicine-skulachev/ ).

        By the way, I recommend this article as a counter-point to your previous post Maria: http://bigthink.com/ideas/16749

        We’re Closer To Ending Aging Than You Think
        There are no more major breakthroughs necessary to complete the quixotic human quest of achieving immortality, says anti-aging expert Aubrey de Grey

        • How is it a counter-point? I know the work of Aubrey de Grey quite well and I can say that regenerative medicine is no way contradicting what Aubrey is saying.

          • I never meant to deny what you said, instead I was using “counterpoint” in the sense of contrasting. Your reply stated: “…there should be more research into the fundamental mechanisms of aging in different fields: genetics, epigenetics, neuroscience, immunology, endocrinology, etc.,” and I replied with an article that stated “There are no more major breakthroughs necessary to complete the quixotic human quest of achieving immortality…” By the way, I am of the opinion that without mechanical cell repair (i.e. nano-technology), immortality will be only a goal and not the state of the human genome.

  3. Hello. remarkable job. I did not imagine this. This is a fantastic story. Thanks!

  4. Kim W

    A good summary, Maria. If you haven’t already, I’d consider making a vid of it and putting it on youtube along with some links. (Your pretty face alone would ensure thousands of views) The futility of “reactive medicine” is so obvious and tragic.

    I do have to say I think Brad Arnold’s attitude is awful. First, we don’t know if CR works for humans, and if so its effects may be modest. (If it added decades of life, with all the different diets people around the world have, you can be sure we woulda seen evidence of that life extension already)

    Regardless, virtually no people know about life extension and its necessity; this is not their fault. If you’re one of the view people who know about things like life extension, SENS, CR, and the futility of “reactive medicine” then you are an extremely lucky tiny fraction of 1 percent of the population. If we were born with others’ genes, into their families, and went through their experiences in life, we would have the same knowledge (or lack thereof), the same level of discipline, and have made the same choices. We’re all where we are because of luck. We should treat those who don’t know, or who know but don’t have a lot of discipline, with compassion; it’s our obligation to help them by spreading the word about life extension and SENS to as many people as possible.

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