X-Message-Number: 11874
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: For Thomas Nord and Doug Skrecky
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 00:21:51 +1000 (EST)

To Thomas Nord and Doug Skrecky:

First of all, the most important question for Perls is not that of the
existence of centenarians but that of how we can use our understanding of
why they become centenarians to prolong our own lives. Perls may have
explicitly stated that as one of the goals of his study; if so, that's
very good. I haven't read as much of his papers as Thomas Nord seems to 
have done, and perhaps I missed his statement of purpose.

Second, Doug Skrecky is correct when he states that ALL current studies of
drugs or other behavior which affects aging positively ie. makes those
who take the drugs or adopt the behavior live longer, has only been proven
in animal experiments. In my own book on the subject, A GUIDE TO ANTIAGING
DRUGS, I state that explicitly in the very first chapter of my book.
However when we consider a drug which might work against aging, and even
when we consider calories restriction, we are not merely adopting the
stance of Martians who care only about the scientific nature of aging. We
are trying to use the best available information to prolong our own lives
because our lives are important to us.

Not only that, but research on aging has a feature that virtually no
other medical research shares. If we really wish to test a treatment on
human beings, then nothing prevents us from doing so ... but if we wait
for the RESULTS of such tests before we try such treatments on ourselves,
we'll grow old and die before the information has all come in. Even tests
of calorie restriction on monkeys share this problem: we live longer 
than monkeys and someone can always ask whether or not such a treatment
will work in human beings. Sure, a successful test in monkeys SUGGESTS
that it will work, and one in rats does so too (after less time). But 
perhaps the physiology of our aging, because we do live longer than
either species already, is such that calorie restriction won't work on us.

SO we are faced with a problem. It isn't a scientific problem as such:
we know how to do the needed experiments. The problem is that of finding
some way to benefit from all the experiments on drugs or calorie
restriction which increase the lifespan of various experimental animals.

I have chosen to take some of the drugs I discuss in my book, and wrote
it for those who are interested in doing so too ... with a clear
understanding of just what they are doing. If you want assurance that
a drug will prolong your own lifespan, sorry, no one can yet give that to
you. The best we can do is to assure ourselves that such drugs will not
actually damage us.

In my book I also discuss other things we might do, but so far no one
seems to have gone beyond privately taking such drugs. And there are
lots of useful experiments the book suggests, too ... though almost all
of them are experiments only of value to those who have decided to
take some of the drugs I discuss.

In one way the problem we are faced with when we think about taking
antiaging drugs is very close to that we are faced with when we think
about joining a cryonics society so we can be cryonically suspended. Yes,
the ability to revive brains would be very important information, but
if we are suspended we won't really know what will happen to us... even
after we learn how to revive brains. As yet we can't even revive brains,
but the basic problem remains the same. We can try to minimize whatever
damage might occur, particularly to any structures holding our memories
or personality. But because of the times we live in, we can never KNOW
just what the outcome of our suspension will be.

Truly, it's a most unhelpful universe we find ourselves in! But it's
better to deal with that fact than to try to forget it.

			Best and long long life to everyone,

				Thomas Donaldson

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