You know nothing, Alex Pearlman

A diatribe on a diatribe

So you call yourself a bioethicist but don’t even know that aging is Humanity’s biggest killer? Wow, that’s interesting. But seriously, 100,000 people die each day worldwide from age-related causes. If that number doesn’t impress you enough to put on an “Old Lives Matter” t-shirt, I don’t know what would.

What’s that you say? “There is no evidence that personality traits reside within brain tissue”? For real? So which organ, in your view, is responsible for producing that diatribe of yours? Maybe it would be easier to cryopreserve than brain tissues. I know you’ve said that “scientists agree that the freezing process damages cells irreparably, by creating what are essentially cellular icicles”, but that’s really not how cryopreservation is done these days. Today, organs or whole bodies are perfused with cryoprotectants that inhibit “icicle” formation, and rapidly cooled to an essentially glass-like state. This technology is called vitrification.

By the way, cryopreservation is widely used in IVF procedures. More and more test tube babies are born after being “frozen” for months or even years. Talk about female reproductive empowerment.

You believe that “there is simply no logical reason to invest money into being frozen”? Ok, don’t. But please don’t think that reading a BBC article on cryonics suddenly makes you qualified to tell others that “cryonics is bullshit”. There are dozens of much better credentialed scientists who disagree and are publicly supporting cryonics research.

Oh, and in addition to a $200,000 whole-body preservation, Alcor also offers a $80,000 brain-only option. Both of which can be financed through life insurance — I pay about $50 per month. So you don’t have to be rich to afford cryonics. In fact, most transhumanists are far from it.

Also, what’s with selective quoting of George Church? The way you phrased it, it might seem that George is distrusting Liz Parrish’s claims. He is not, as can be seen from the full quote:

Church said last week he was also trying to learn what exactly had occurred in Latin America. “I think it is real,” he said in an interview. “There were some indications it might happen. Companies in stealth mode can do anything they want.”
Church says he didn’t agree with dodging regulators and added that BioViva appears to be “a one-person show.” But he says he found Parrish’s claims plausible. A student in his lab, he says, could prepare a genetic treatment suitable for experiments in animals in a matter of days.

In any case, you seem to value George Church’s opinion. Have you heard that he is a staunch proponent of aging reversal and radical life extension? Moreover, he is extremely optimistic in his forecasts:

While we are on the topic of George Church, what would you say about the timing of his genetic engineering efforts to bring back the wooly mammoth? Too soon? Should he go rallying for some other causes of your choice first before you grant him permission to proceed?

Yeah, what’s with these either-or pronouncements? Have you heard of multitasking? Longevity research in no way impedes on anyone’s civil rights or morphological freedoms. In fact, it tries to expand them. Wouldn’t you rather have control over when you lose reproductive function? Aging takes that choice away, essentially enforcing mandatory sterilization after a certain age. Is that fair? I think not.

Ok, maybe you do think it’s fair — after all, it happens to everyone. But the universality of distribution doesn’t make loss of biological function any more desirable. Same with death. It happens to all, but when faced with it up close and personal, who is happy about dying or seeing a loved one die? The overwhelming majority aren’t. That’s why we mourn at funerals rather then celebrate (well, maybe except for the Irish).

So why do you want to condemn yours and you parents’ generation to death and suffering by saying that now is not the time to invest in longevity research? By advocating that we postpone this research, you are suggesting that we don’t even try to save those millions of lives that die each year from age-related causes.

Moreover, you seem conflicted, even misguided on what kind of medical research it is acceptable to engage in today and what type of research constitutes the selfish, “curing death” kind. Trying to eradicate cancer or Alzheimer’s you seem to have to no qualms with, but spending money on a universal therapy that would prevent or delay all age-related disease seems to raise your hackles.

Look, medicine and medical research are in the business of saving lives. That task — saving lives — comes with no age exclusion criteria. A human life is equally valuable at any age. Thus, longevity research is just medical research. Its goal is the same: saving lives. If you find it acceptable to spend money on developing cancer therapies that extend lives of cancer patients by a few months, why would you find it unacceptable to fund research that aims to extend everyone’s lives by many years?

You think you are qualified to tell people at what age they should just accept death? I beg to differ.

Stopping Humanity’s efforts to defeat its mortal enemy should never be a consideration.