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Fountain of Youth - Ethical Science discussion

  1. mathsciguy profile image60
    mathsciguyposted 5 years ago

    So here is foundation of this idea that I had.
    I recently learned about a condition called progeria, in which the body ages at an extremely rapid rate - this condition is onset at birth, and so usually comes with a rather low life expectancy.  A Google search on the subject will yield further info, for anyone interested.  Well, I then heard that there was a treatment being tested which blocked the body's production of the protein whose increased levels triggers the disease.  It is thought that the development of a cure for progeria could potentially be the gateway for a medical fountain of youth, which might inhibit the aging process in normal humans.

    But, think of the problems which would be caused by the commercial distribution of such a thing. Overpopulation is already a concern for many environmental scientists.  Would the potential for great good (imagine where we'd be if Newton, Einstein, Planck, etc. had doubled their lifespans!) outweigh the near-certainty of disaster?

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      jomineposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I have seen a case or two, with progeria, and I think it would be good if we can develop a drug. But it may not help much in increasing the normal life span of a person, as progeria is caused by a defect in normal protein, which cause an accelerated wear and tear, while ageing occurs do to normal wear and tear. Again, it is not body alone that cause ageing, but mind too(read brain). I have seen patients not improving, just because they don't want to improve(various psychological reasons).

      I do not know much about Newton and Plank, but I do know Einstein retracted whatever he taught and his hardcore disciples took it as "senility". And it doesn't matter much, what others teach, as most people only believe and never think for themselves. New brain is needed to bring forth new ideas, and an old brain will never change.
      And if we take the story of dinosaurs, which were the top predators of their time, went extinct, similarly, we the top predators of our time may be nearing a mass extinction(judging from the fact that, countries have to dump food, when half the world is hungry, to keep food prices at a constant level),and so it doesn't matter either way.

      1. mathsciguy profile image60
        mathsciguyposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        I'm aware that the experimental drug being tested now wouldn't increase normal human lifespan, but just thought that the possibility made for a good discussion with some current reference. 

        I'm with you on the mass extinction thing, as well.  I don't think humanity would be erased by such a drug, but I think it would have the potential to make what life was left over quite sucky.

  2. aka-dj profile image80
    aka-djposted 5 years ago

    Which way are you leaning here?

    Advocate for longevity for the entire human population, or population control through attrition, genocide etc.

    Or, benefit just a select few (elite)? Those who can control, or develop such a miraculous discovery, I mean. hmm

    1. mathsciguy profile image60
      mathsciguyposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I lean more toward the side of nature in this case.  In explicit terms, I don't think a drug (if it were found that such a thing existed and was readily producible) to extend the normal human lifespan should be put into mass production.

      Consider that mortality is a necessary part of the balance of any ecosystem.  When comparing populations between predators and prey (eaters and eaten), any time that the mortality rate of the predator is reduced for some reason you see the tendency of the population to rise, usually drastically lowering prey populations.  In a system in equilibrium, the decrease in food supply is gradual enough that predator populations drop sustainably allow both species to survive in this cycle of rising and falling populations.  However, if the reduction in prey population is significant enough, it can cause severe damage to the predator's numbers and even result in dramatic behavioral changes leading to the eventual extinction of the animal.

      While this is an extreme example that I do not think would necessarily happen in the hypothetical release of a "fountain of youth,"  I feel that it sufficiently illustrates the havoc that tampering with such often-delicate systems can cause.  Also, consider that crime rates tend to rise with population density as well..

      So, even if it were made available to all people equally, we'd all live longer lives - but what kind of lives would they be?  It's an open question.

      1. aka-dj profile image80
        aka-djposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Well, if we become prey to something "bigger" than us, that should cull the population.

        I think there are a few diseases lining up to have a good go at it. Eventually we may run out of efficacious antibiotics to deal with ( some of) them.