Ben Bova's "Immortality..."

Duane Hewitt duane at IMMORTALITY.ORG
Sun Nov 1 01:06:02 EST 1998

I have prepared a review of Ben Bova's new book that I would like to
share with the newsgroup.

I had eagerly awaited the opportunity to read Ben Bova's new book
entitled "Immortality:How Science is extending your Life Span and
Changing the World". I had envisioned that this book, with Bova's name
recognition, could substantially extend the audience for the topic of
anti-aging research.

However I have been disappointed in several respects even though this is
a book which covers many of the basic themes underlying current
anti-aging research. The book seems to lack focus in that Dr. Bova
covers topics that are peripherally related to aging and covers them at
a very basic level suitable for a high school student. Sometimes the
explanations that Bova supplies are simplified to the point of being
misleading if not in outright factual error. I would expect a better
standard of accuracy from such a widely published author.

I strongly contend against the belief that a "cure" for the aging
process is imminent and/or inevitable. I am of the opinion that such a
belief engenders a complacency that may act as a self-averting prophecy
and will abort the extension of the human life span in the near future.
This is not an easy problem. Cancer and AIDS are both relatively simple
compared to the aging process and they have each confounded us for

The only way that substantial extension of the human life span will be
attained is through acknowledging the difficulty of the problem and
allocating resources accordingly. Bova, on the other hand, implies that
current research programs are enough to deliver significant benefits
within a short time frame. I would prefer him to be correct but I am not
going to count on it. I am hoping for the best but preparing for the

The fact that "Dr." adorns this cover prominently when it does not
appear on many of Bova's other publications strikes me as a cheap
marketing ploy. It is later made clear in the preface that Dr. Bova is
"not a scientist by training" nor is he a medical doctor as the
unsuspecting might believe due to the byline. This is also made apparent
by his limited grasp of the concepts that he attempts to explain.

The lack of depth in his research typifies the journalistic approach to
these topics which prefers sound bites over substance. The hyperbole
adorning the dust cover is comparable in exageration to that of Michael
Fossel's book "Reversing Human Aging".

He seems impressed with the research into human Growth Hormone (hGH) but
fails to provide any supporting references. To be fair, however, Bova
does touch on the broad issues and points of aging research but I still
would have to recommend Steven Austad's book "Why We Age" or James
Goczewski's "Aging" or even Fossel's book over this one.

Duane Hewitt
duane at immortality.org
The art and science of life extension.

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