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an anti sens response I got


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#31 lmrforg

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 11:23 PM

BrokenPortal, presumably you answered the skeptic a month ago, but here's my belated two cents.

The author says that SENS likely won't work, and even if it did, overpopulation, immortal tyrants, bankrupt pensions etc. would result. This is a common lawyer's approach, to present multiple arguments so that, even if you're wrong about one, your conclusion still holds. I wouldn't argue that concern about the latter things means we ourselves are saved from the work of convincing this SENS skeptic (or anyone else) that the former is fallacious. Both are worthy concerns and should be heavily discussed, even if they arise in contradiction. These concerns, however, are NOT good enough reasons not to try SENS and see what happens. As Aubrey points out in his book and elsewhere, the concerns are far from silly. What is silly is to think that they are on the same scale as 100,000 people dying (without choice) each day, and 90% of the industrialized world's deaths resulting from aging, continuing forever.

Why not force the ant-SENS skeptic to start out small, perhaps with the number one priority (in my mind, anyway) of degrading 7-ketocholesterol through lysosomal enhancement and bioremediation? Here is a somewhat close approximation to a one-to-one relation of precursor to disease (atherosclerosis and stroke), as SENS goes, which I think helps counter the argument that all the investment could be completely for nought. If even the first project of SENS is met, preventing most atherosclerosis, that's HUGE, since it's responsible for more deaths in this country (the U.S.) than all cancers combined, given its role in both heart disease and stroke. I think this example is also good for getting the skeptics to focus on specifics because the evidence is stronger than for, say, lysosomal dysfunction in ARMD and Alzheimer's: arterial macrophages in atherosclerotic plaques are bloated with 7-KC, up to 80% (<5% is normal). Jay Jerome's talks should be accessible enough for a layman skeptic interested in evidence: [http://www.sens.org/...pts/Jerome.mp3] [http://www.edmontona...ay_Jerome.mp3].

If it's found in five years of full funding that an enzyme can be engineered from something found in nature to work in mice with side effects tempered enough to allow administration once every year or so, then the evolutionary arguments of side effects presented by Steve Austad, the Buck Institute, et al. can be called more into question for the other ENS strategies as well.

Forcing the skeptic to address specifics is, as I understand it, how many scientists ended up backing off the Technology Review challenge: they had to learn the specifics before writing anything, which forced them to finally learn some SENS.

This "specifics" approach could be extended to the question of overpopulation. I don't see how the issue could meaningfully be raised without specifying what scenario you mean. Industrialized nations? China? India? Sub-Saharan Africa? The Pope is lecturing European Catholics to have more children, that their allowing their birth rate to fall below subsistence level is shamefully individualistic. Putin is offering major bucks to women who have a second child, to reverse his country's declining birth rate. Third-world birth rates are dropping as child mortality drops. "The Population Bomb" made everyone from the '60's onward afraid of overpopulation, but its predictions didn't come to fruition because it didn't consider that birth rate is not fixed: it responds to economic conditions. The birth rate is high in Sub-Saharan Africa because parents hope that SOMEone will survive long enough to till the farm when they are too old to: what outsiders view as overpopulation is actually a response to the high death rate, not a population explosion. Will SENS help to counter this drop in birth rates and save small communities from dying across the world? Maybe. Maybe not in time. If an environmentalist claimed that more people would mean ensuring the devastation of global warming, I'd respond that therapeutic medicine is leading to a more aged population anyway. SENS could replace more expensive, therapeutic medicine with cheaper, preventative medicine, while replacing a growing impaired population of elderly with robust elderly, freeing up much capital and making the cost of environmental technology easier to stomach. Besides, dire global warming consequences are predicted before a population boom from SENS would result (assuming seas rise 5' by 2050 and assuming it takes SENS 10 years to get up to full funding of $100M/yr).

Charles




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