04 February 2024

Would you take a rejuvenating therapy?


Would you take a rejuvenating therapy?


Topic by Cristina

Notes by Lawrence



During our meeting last week discussing Staying Young, Cristina brought to our attention a research study on DNA to rejuvenate the body and thus prolong life and rejuvenating youth. Then she asked us whether any of us would take such a medical treatment?



The research is above board, there are no side effects or adverse effects to the body and we even get to keep our memories. In our enthusiasm for the topic, I forgot to ask her for a reference.



After a search on the internet, I came across the Geroscience Hypothesis that is a treatment to retard the aging process and at the same time delay the onset of many diseases (Google). The topic is so new that my first search of “gerotherapeutic” only resulted in 3,400 results vs 121 in Google Scholar. Even the AI algorithm was not too familiar with the term because it kept suggesting neurotherapeutic on both dedicated search versions. Although amongst this empty space on the internet the search did discover the Geroscience Hypothesis.



So, would you take a therapy to rejuvenate the body, live longer with prolonged disease free periods? Of course, in science there are no such things as 100% guarantees that a technology might not have side effects. Or function 100% as advertised. But as the saying goes, 80% solution is better than no solution at all. Would your answer be different with just 80% guarantee?



Despite the subject and the treatment being biological and medical science, the meddling hand of language is not too far away from any philosophical issues.



A basic issue for us is that language makes senses, or has a meaning, in a precise context. This goes back to Wittgenstein’s private language problem, which Alice in Alice in Wonder Land eloquently defines as "If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.” (The quote is longer and there are too many references to Lewis Caroll’s book)



The problem for us is that what scientists mean by a technical term is not necessarily, what people in general think it means; or at least a substantial percentage of the people. Is this the same as saying that language used in one context is as if being in some sort of private language bubble?



We saw this phenomenon during the Covid pandemic when a dangerous percentage of the population had no idea how vaccines work (many still don’t). Apart from neglected to take into account the group immunity effect vaccines have for infectious diseases.



And to compound the issue many people associated taking or not taking a vaccine to expressions of freedom and free speech. In the meantime, it seems as if viruses believe in the freedom of being opportunists; and they’re very good at it.



Two common terms in the Geroscience Hypothesis are “to retard” and “to delay”; for example check the book Advances in Geroscience under the chapter: Austad, S.N. (2016). The Geroscience Hypothesis: Is It Possible to Change the Rate of Aging?. In: Sierra, F., Kohanski, R. (eds) Advances in Geroscience. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-23246-1_1



Of course, neither retard nor delay mean stop in any context. I also don’t believe that there is some hidden slippery slope in the theory or biology. Firstly, even if the treatment is repeated over long periods of time retard and delay do not imply invincibility. There is always the possibility of being run over by a bus as was mentioned during the meeting on Staying Young. And delay does not mean not having diseases.



Secondly, scientists working on the Geroscience Hypothesis are the first people to point out that there is nothing new about this phenomenon in biological science. Diet and lifestyle are key contributors to how long we live and diseases we acquire or develop.



By today’s standards, we believe that we have a right to be old. Some governments of questionable provenance, however, demonstrated an undeclared policy of leaving elderly to their fate during the pandemic. They preferred commercial gain for some sectors in the economy for spending on health care for the elderly. Dignity was not a common term used in some quarters of applied politics.



Moving on, dogma is one of those false philosophical arguments based on authority or an influential figure; this does not necessarily apply to one’s parents or the boss but that is a different matter. The problem with this argument (Argument from Authority) is not that the authority cannot be right sometimes but rather the authority is assumed to be always right with the rigours of an imposed law.



Scientific certainty is based on the 95% Golden Rule of scientific certainty. Contrary to dogma, the Golden Rule has an element of built in scientific scepticism. Once again, rigour and robustness in scientific argument do not mean “always right”.  In any event, I propose that “always” is a term we use from our experience or memory of an event being a fact.



During our discussion on Staying Young Julia pointed out the implications on old age pensions in staying young and James highlighted the implications of being young over a long time. Staying young and living longer imply an economic consequences which include having a reasonable income over one’s long life. Does this mean we have to change our economic model of boom-bust economies?



Given that, some might still pass away sooner than their life expectancy, does this mean people who live longer stand a chance being really alone and lonely if all their friends and immediate family pass away sooner then they will.



Do you still want to stay young that long?



Best and take care








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PhiloMadrid Skype: Wed 7th Feb at 8:00pm: Would you take a rejuvenating therapy?




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