Donahue & Life Extension Foundation

Don Ashley dashley at TENET.EDU
Thu Apr 13 05:13:41 EST 1995

The proprietors of LEF were interviewed on Donahue Wednesday.  The 
subject of extended lifespans was discussed with an exposure of millions.

While Donahue's format is to entertain people with his insulting
commentary, the topic was at least exposed to many people who have more
than an infantile mind.  It is doubtful that people who are already
committed to encouraging research for life extension were convinced that
such ambition is fruitless. Many new people are motivated. 

Donahue was not overtly discouraging research.  His attack was on the 
promotion of products not approved by USFDA and sensationalistic 

Whatever LEF has done, legal or not, they did get the attention of 
millions of objective thinkers as well as millions of sheep.   The idea 
of 120 or 150 year life spans was broadcast to the nation.  That seed of 
thought can go a long way when promoted professionally.  There's even a 
remote possibility that some local politician was exposed to the 
broadcast.  That politician  may be a decision maker when a credible bill 
is introduced for funding for research.  Or maybe the politician's spouse 
was watching and discussed it at lunch.
Attaching oneself to the cause of life extension research may carry with 
it a stigma of fanatacism after Donahue ridiculed the LEF proprietors. 
Just mentioning the idea of 150 year lifespans in social conversation brings 
reactions of disbelief anyway.

The Donahue show and the LEF provide opportunity to move forward.  The
mental energy has been stimulated.  Proponents of research may consider
avoiding endorsements of products that violate federal law even though
they look good in other countries. 
Patrick O'Neill has investigated telomerase and its effects on 
longevity/immortality. (see postings this month on this list).  The research
must continue.  

'Immortality' definition is being clarified on this list for net readers. 
The general public needs something to identify with in order to get
motivated.  'Senescence' is not a common word among voters. The voting
public who may support funding needs to be able to relate to a
professional, non-stigmatized cause. 

'Life extension' now carries questionable connotation.  'Longevity'
remains neutral in public emotion.  'Disease' when referring to aging
process offends the scientists who are possessive of the term. 

The choice of correct terminology carries the vote. Using terms with
negative stigma obstructs communication and support. 

Donahue even ridiculed cryonics when he graphically described the 
decapitation of someone's mother for freezing.  He makes money and gets 
to stay on the air by using repulsive commentary.  If he wasn't emotional 
his show would lose viewers.

The challenge and the opportunity is here, this week, for the courageous 
to promote research for the explosion of human lifespans.

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