Taboo Subjects

Joseph yracheta at
Sun Mar 24 14:55:24 EST 1996

I work in academia in the biological sciences. The Phd.'s I work for and even 
most I don't work for balk at the notion of immortality or even lengthening 
the life span to any great degree. They say things like, "Why, what's the 
point who would want to live for ever anyway." Or things like, "It isn't meant 
to be, it would be to egotistical and ecologically unsound".

It seems that some scientists are working on the problem but never state it in 
their papers. They usually couch it in terms of cellular senescence, 
regeneration or oncology. Is it that taboo a subject. Is everyone afraid of 
being labeled a crackpot. Or is it that the research and the reality are so 
far removed from each other that we won't see any progress in this area for 
another 100 years. 
Moreover, I have not seen any discussion or consensus about the ethical or 
social issues that such a discovery might bring up. I personally would like to 
live longer than the current norm and the scientific challenge that the 
problem poses is very compelling, but when I think of the 'correctness' of 
such a breakthrough I am at a loss. Is it a  selfish egotistical endeavor and 
would we cause global havoc, or would it really benefit mankind and remove 
that "the one who dies with the most toys wins" attitude.
Are there any ethical treatise or government reports on these ethical 

Joseph Yracheta
Dept. Psychiatry
University of Wisconsin
yracheta at

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