03 February 2009

The relentless carnage continues

It's a common practice among bloggers, shortly after a new year begins, to post a roundup of important events from the previous year. I am not going to do that here, but I do think it's worth calling attention to the one thing that was by far most important and most terrible calamity of 2008:

Worldwide, another forty million humans were killed by that ghastly degenerative disease that most of us have still not quite learned to see as a disease -- the aging process. Forty million -- that's more than the population of Canada, and twice as many as were felled by all other causes of death combined. Most of those people died slowly and horribly, from a gradual wasting away of all the body's systems (not dissimilar to the ways AIDS weakens and kills its victims), until the final end of existence in many cases came as a positive mercy.

And the same devastating loss of life occurred in 2007, and in 2006, and so on back. And it will happen again this year, and next year, and so on forward.

The fact that this situation does not provoke universal horror and outrage and calls to action, stems from two fundamental flaws in our thinking. The first is that we look upon death from aging as inevitable -- there is nothing we can do about it. Until recently, of course, that was true. It is no longer true. We now understand the problem and we know, at least in general outline, how to solve it. Sustained effort could eradicate this scourge from the world within, probably, fifteen to thirty years, as once-mighty killers like smallpox and polio have been eradicated, or largely so.

The other flaw in our thinking is that we regard death from aging as normal -- as being somehow qualitatively different from the other things that kill us. If a 30-year-old dies, for whatever reason, it is considered tragic; if a 90-year-old dies of old age, that's just the way things are. But until a couple of centuries ago, epidemics and famines that killed millions (of all ages) were "just the way things are" too, and were mostly accepted with the same dumb bovine passivity. We stopped thinking about them that way when our technology became sophisticated enough to protect us against them. It is no more proper or right or "normal" for a person to die just because he happens to have lived a long time, than for a child to die just because he happens to have been born HIV-positive. Both of these tragic phenomena are scientific and technological challenges, not immutable features of reality.

We need, again, to change our thinking. We need to see aging for what it is, and to free ourselves, again, from that dumb bovine passivity. There have always been pessimists and naysayers and those who said we should accept the way things were and not try to pull ourselves up out of the filth and disease and ignorance in which nature (or their God) had left us to wallow. In the end we have always ignored them, and in the end we have always won. If we ignore them now and rise to the challenge, we will win again -- and vanquish the most terrible killer of all.

7 Comments:

Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Human's created heaven's, after life's,reincarnation,and no tellin what else in their head's. Folk's are alway's spending money on product's,cream's etc...to just make themselves "look" younger. Many folk's want to go to this afterlife paradise...but not many want to die. Human's are very talented at lying to themselves for one thing. Longevity, the fountain of youth, eternal life, whatever one chooses to call it, can be accomplished, it is simply
a want/will, even a utopia type society, and we need to act as quickly as possible on all sciences and technologies, as I said before...we have been lucky as a species...nothin wiped us out yet (meteor or whatever) time has been on our side in a sense. Our cultures/religion's have drastically set us back considering how much more we could have accomplished by now...if we hadnt been slowed down by them. I myself am confident that all of this will be achieved and even much more as far as the climate and enviroment even. But this is one thing...that I never had any doubt about. A good posting Mr.Infidel.Thank You.

04 February, 2009 07:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

This is worth reading too.

04 February, 2009 10:51  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Thanx for the additional column of
"Sentient Developments". There will be many who say that there will be complication's,or it's not natural,or playing god(which we should be playing god,since god dont seem to be doing any damn thing at all)or a number of other thing's to whine about. The point here is...do it FIRST...then worry about the other paranoia's 2nd. Hell...that's acting like our damn government,saying this wont work...or that will work,or were doomed,etc,etc. I dont think not wanting to age or die is selfish at all...why lie to ourselves? And when these thing's become mainstream..there will still be opposition, because another thing I am confident about is that because of new science and techno development...there is no reason for the the future human to even be just of nature, and like "other
animal's"...and these development's will see a day when the primitive(us) will seperate themselves...and what I see is the human species splintering in time.

You commented Mr.Infidel on the "SD" posting and said that the reproduction rate is down, I did not know that..if this is so,that is a positive thing. To have babies just to carry your name or genes or hope they will achieve more than we have to me is selfish!
I mean what the hell is up with that...to show how fertile we are?
What the hell do we think we are...cattle? I for one thought that more education and support for birth control is a positive thing. Of coarse the leading entities of the globe want you to pump out babies annually, keeps the slave wage pool saturated and cheap...and keeps them all in debt and struggling..and these are also the types that would rather see us living longer on respirator's in nursing homes...and DYING slowly so they can milk more money out of us and our families,you cant get revenue from corpses. I'll just put a lid on it here. Thank You.

04 February, 2009 14:32  
Anonymous rita said...

Having the option to not die of old age is something I'd never even considered before you brought my attention to the possibility. It is a fascinating subject. thanks for bringing it to my attention.

While I'm at it thanks also for the latest link round-up. :)

06 February, 2009 11:04  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

OMG why isn't anybody DOING anything to stop this!

Oddly, if you ask people if they would like to live forever or a very long time they say no, they would not. ! Of course I have never qualified this proposition, people just assume one would just become increasingly decrepit as time goes on.

Maybe I should ask if they would like to keep on having sex for another 300 years.

07 February, 2009 16:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

people just assume one would just become increasingly decrepit as time goes on.

This is known in the field as the "Tithonus error". In fact it would be impossible to keep people alive but growing increasingly decrepit for centuries -- it's the increasing decrepitude that makes people die of old age in the first place. The goal of anti-aging technology is to keep people young and healthy indefinitely.

Maybe I should ask if they would like to keep on having sex for another 300 years.

That's another way of looking at it. As for me personally, I can't bear the thought of not being around to see what will haoppen in the future.

07 February, 2009 19:55  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

Weird that i should return to this post, I am now reading a book called: "biology of death"

09 March, 2009 19:15  

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