Let’s meet the informal version of the ‘pro-aging trance’ in a portrait on Aubrey de Grey in the Washington Post (thanks for the tip, Jim):
Why is it, when you bring up the idea of living forever — even if robust and healthy, not drooling on your shoes — some people just recoil viscerally?
“It’s probably the majority that recoils viscerally,” de Grey says. “It’s what I call the pro-aging trance.
“Since the beginning of civilization, we have been aware that aging is ghastly and that aging is utterly inevitable. . . . So we have two choices. Either we spend our lives being preoccupied by this ghastly future or we find some way to get on with our miserably short lives and make the best of it.
“If we do that second thing, which is obviously the right thing to do, then it doesn’t matter how irrational that rationalization might be. . . . It could be, well, we’re all going to go to heaven. Or it could be, we’re going to have overpopulation. Or it could be, it will be boring. Or, dictators will live forever.
“It doesn’t matter what the answers are. It’s so important for them to maintain their belief that aging is actually not such a bad thing, that they completely suspend any normal rational sense of proportion.”
But if people don’t die, won’t we indeed fill the planet shoulder to shoulder?
“The birthrate is going to have to go down by an order of magnitude,” de Grey acknowledges. “But even if that is going to be a severe problem, the question is not, do problems exist? The question is, are they serious enough to outweigh the benefits of saving 100,000 lives a day? That’s the fundamental question. If you haven’t got an argument that says that it’s that serious that we shouldn’t save 30 [bleeping] World Trade Centers every [bleeping] day, don’t waste my time. It’s a sense of proportion thing.”
Picture made by me with the iPhone on Aubrey and Adelaide on the SENS3 conference in the dining hall of Queens’ College.