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"Black box" kills old people?

Bob Walsh walshb at beep.roadrunner.com
Sat Mar 11 12:17:08 EST 1995

Steve Chambers (steve at chambers.ak.planet.co.nz) wrote:
: I'm just reviewing "How and Why We Age" by Leonard Hayflick.  In
: Chapter 4 he argues that:

:   diseases associated with old age are NOT part of the normal aging
:   process ... diseases, unlike aging, are not normal.

: later he says:

:   The cause of death in old people is a mysterious "black box."
:   Usually some standard cause of death is chosen from an approved 
:   list in order to comply with legal requirements.

: Please forgive my impudence, I know LH is one of the giants of 
: gerontology, but this comment seems like a desperate attempt to stitch 
: up a paradigm of aging that is falling apart at the seams.

: I see his problem.  If the diseases of age are not aging then one can
: only conclude that (without this mysterious black box) nobody ever dies 
: of old age!  

: LH and those of similar thinking are in danger of defining themselves out
: of a job. 

: Who amongst you shall be their champion?

Not me.  In the AARP Journal of Mar. 95, LH is quoted:
"Even a joyous life should not last forever.  The consequences of an age-
less population would be bizarre, even terrifying."  The same could have
been said for fire, wheels, flight, computers, and organ transplants.

The focus of his work has been on cell aging.  It is not clear that the
familiar phenomena of human aging have any relationship to cell aging.

Bob Walsh (walshb at alumni.caltech.edu)
Santa Fe, NM, USA (505) 263-1875
FAX:  (505) 983-5868

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