Most assume we have to age to make room for the next generation and it would be going against nature for that reason to try to extend human lifespan. In fact, most evolutionary biologists today think that evolution by natural selection has focused on making bodies that will grow vigorously to the age of reproduction and maybe a little past. And then the process of evolution by natural selection pays almost no attention to what happens to those bodies after they’ve had a chance to pass on their genes.
If that’s true, we can draw an opposite conclusion in regards to our mortal bodies.
Either conclude so many things go wrong that decline is pretty much random and we’ll never be able to maintain our bodies. If our aging is not designed, then the job of fighting the chaos we call aging is impossible. Or we could conclude that we really might be able to do something because we might be able to come up with solutions that evolution failed to find because evolution doesn’t [dictate what happens to us after reproductive age]...
The field is really badly underfunded. Even the National Institute of Aging spends a fraction of its budget on experimental gerontology. Most of the budget of the National Institutes of Health goes for fighting recognized diseases and it’s much more acceptable politically to declare war on cancer than to declare war on aging.
So if you want to study aging and dream of slowing it down, you’ve got a tough time getting funding. That worries me more now having finished the book and having spent so much time talking with the gerontology mainstream as well as Aubrey. We may be missing really wonderful opportunities by neglecting the sciences of aging, for instance all of those late onset diseases, not just cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, atherosclerosis, all of those late onset diseases become more likely [as we age].
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.