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Are We Terrible at Advocacy, or is it Actually Hard to Persuade People of the Merits of Living Longer in Good Health?


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#1 reason

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Posted 23 January 2017 - 12:19 PM


For those of us who immediately understand, at first recognition, that the opportunity to live a longer life in good health would be a fantastic thing, and in fact so wondrous that we should jump up and do something to make it happen, it is a continual puzzle that we find ourselves in a minority. How is it that we live in a world in which the majority simply doesn't care, or if prompted on the topic, declares their desire to age, suffer, and die on the present schedule? After a few years of this, one might be forgiven for thinking that we are just not very good at advocacy. But given a second consideration, we might ask why we should have to be good at advocacy at all in this situation. Isn't more good health and vigor, and an absence of horrible, debilitating age-related disease, an obvious and unalloyed good? Isn't the whole point of medicine to defeat disease and prolong health? Isn't it the case that all of these people in favor of aging and age-related death nonetheless go out and visit the doctor when they get ill, while supporting research into treatments for cancer and other age-related diseases? I don't think that we are the irrational ones in this picture.

After going on fifteen years of writing on this topic, I don't have much more of an idea than I did when I started as to why greater human longevity isn't an obvious and highly important goal for everyone. The same questions and theories back then are still here today, and there is still little data to pin down their accuracy: fear of frailty, of overpopulation, of any change, even positive, and so forth. Since it was an immediate and evident revelation for me, rather than a gradual conversion, perhaps I am not the right person to achieve that understanding. I am, however, pleased to see that despite the challenges our community of iconoclasts, heretics, revolutionaries, and rational thinkers on the subject of longevity science is greatly expanded these days. More of these folk than ever are writing and persuading, both inside and outside the scientific community. We have progressed and grown as a community, alongside progress in the state of the science.

For today, I see that the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation has set up a blog in order to help bring spread our message to new audiences. As noted by the author here, the best evidence so far suggests that the fear of being old and decrepit for longer as a result of life extension therapies is the most important factor in public opposition to greater longevity, despite the fact that scientists and advocates have repeatedly disclaimed this as a goal, and that many have noted that such an outcome is implausible to achieve even if someone was trying. On the one hand that suggests that it is simple ignorance that might be dispelled, but on the other it seems very resistant to the efforts already made, over and again, by near every public figure involved in the aging research community.

Most advocates of life extension report facing resistance to the idea of increased lifespans by medical means when trying to disseminate this idea among general public. Resistance manifests itself in many forms, ranging from concerns such as overpopulation to concerns about unequal access to life extending treatments. But the most unexpected thing is probably that people often don't want an increased lifespan at all. Surveys in different countries show, that when people are asked "how long would you like to live?", they often give a number equal to or slightly higher than the current life expectancy in a given country. But wait ... Isn't extending life for more decades a good thing that everyone should strive for? In reality we often do not see enough enthusiasm for the idea in general. So why is this?

It turns out that the reaction of general public to the idea depends on how the message is formulated. When only life extension is offered, without details of how healthy, mentally sound and good-looking an individual could become, people express less support for the idea. But when life extension is proposed as a combination of perfect physical and mental health, it changes the response dramatically, leading to many more people accepting the idea, and also showing support for the development of corresponding medical technologies. It is important to note, that there are also other factors that influence higher support for life extension and related medical innovations, reported by researchers. An interest in science, for example, appears to be the strongest predictor of a positive attitude towards medical interventions to extend life.

In some surveys, where the message did not include a promise of perfect health combined with longevity, males were found to be more likely to support life extension than females. Most likely, this can be explained by different perception of the risks. Males are found to be more likely to take the risks, so they can cope better with the risks emerging from using an innovative technology, when the long-term effects are still unknown and the volume of benefit is not clear. In other studies, however, when healthy life extension (with a "utopian" scenario) was offered, this difference between the sexes did not remain consistent, males and females were equally supportive of life extension technologies. It could be that a positive scenario does not engage the mechanisms of risk avoidance. But then, it means that solely by adding perfect health to life extension in our messages, we can significantly widen the number of our supporters. Studies like this illustrate the importance of analyzing how the nature of the message matters in furthering our cause. The advocates of rejuvenation biotechnology, including research groups and fundraisers for aging biology research, should carefully consider the messages they are using, as some of them are more efficient to encourage an informed and engaging discussion with society about the benefits of bringing aging under medical control.

Link: http://www.leafscien...rong-messaging/


View the full article at FightAging
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#2 Droplet

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:28 AM

Some very good points about life extension advocacy were made in this thread: http://www.longecity...thetic-biology/ I do agree that advocacy needs to be better and not make us sound like we're crazy whilst being rational and persuasive.

 

Its a shame we can't get people who are experts in PR and advertising to help this cause. We do really need it. At the moment, it is looked upon as strange and it isn't a topic that a lot of us can bring up and talk about lots without alienating people, at least that's my experience. We don't want this cause to be looked upon as impossible and lumped into the same heap as religious crazy types.


Edited by Droplet, 25 January 2017 - 09:42 AM.


#3 Janusz Czoch

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 11:47 PM

Some very good points about life extension advocacy were made in this thread: http://www.longecity...thetic-biology/ I do agree that advocacy needs to be better and not make us sound like we're crazy whilst being rational and persuasive.

 

Its a shame we can't get people who are experts in PR and advertising to help this cause. We do really need it. At the moment, it is looked upon as strange and it isn't a topic that a lot of us can bring up and talk about lots without alienating people, at least that's my experience. We don't want this cause to be looked upon as impossible and lumped into the same heap as religious crazy types.

 

No deep mystery.  Would not claim to be an expert. However; IMHO the fix is totally obvious. Namely the PR and advertising MUST be intimately directly and above all VISIBLY to the very casual observer linked to the main body doing the research labwork. Thus SRF and the bearded one. Well meaning proxies such as Longecity appear too remote for the public to ever care.

 

JC
 


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#4 YOLF

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 04:56 AM

Hmmm... I've been losing interest in advocacy. You're either going to die or not die and eventually you get inside the heads of those that do decide their contribution to the world and their family requires their death and the transfer of their assets.

 

It's their life to live and ultimately, it'll make more room for the rest of us if we let them die. If we really wanted to advocate better, it wouldn't be about engaging people in direct conversations, but with lifestyle. Let's face it, most people are overweight in the developed world and they know it is going to kill them someday, and they accept it and all of it's debilitation as inevitable. So unless we cure obesity and change that paradigm... the masses we're never going to change their minds and will never be able to connect with out mission. 

 

That or we could all learn Japanese. They seem keen on it and are about as advanced as anyone can be at this stage of the game...but they don't communicate with us much... Pity... 



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#5 Droplet

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 09:08 AM

We need advocacy to make people aware of what is out there and that this movement exists. Without advocacy, people may not ever get the stimulus and opportunity to consider their current views on lifespan and extending it. A lot of people I've spoken to would have never known about SENS, the fact that some people are trying to cure ageing or anything even remotely related unless it had come up in our conversation. I may not have had success getting them to also support the cause but I have at least planted the seed there to let them know that life extension and trying to cure ageing is "a thing." I made them think and consider whether or not they agree.

 

Obesity isn't always just people being greedy and eating too much. I don't know what your financial situation is but if you are at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, it isn't always easy to afford eat healthily when the cost of living is through the roof and you are already holding down two jobs just so you don't lose your home. Add to that for many people, the additional pressure of affording and finding time to feed a family and it isn't so easy. Convenience foods don't tend to be healthy and no matter how amazing they are, no one can tolerate just eating jacket spuds and beans on toast for the rest of their lives. Microwave/convenience foods are the only solution for some people. 

 

Yes, some people are greedy slobs who eat McDonalds daily and don't even try but there are a lot who can't afford to be picky due to time and financial constraints. For some, it is a mental illness and they need treatment to kick their addiction. Lifestyle isn't something you can wave a magic wand at and improve for many people. If you could create a developed world where everyone in employment could afford to feed and clothe themselves with one full time job no matter how low their wages, it would be a massive step forward in making people think more about healthy living and less about mere survival and eating what they can when they can. :) Cost of living is a huge problem in UK and I would guess that there are other places in the developed world where this is also an issue.

 

I think that we could at least get a large amount of support even if we don't convert all of the masses if we do use advocacy in the correct way. I think that the recent videos are one example of a good way to engage the public and get them thinking. I have always said that if we have people who the masses respect speaking in favour of life extension, they are more likely to listen. I don't know who the best people would be, as I have no real interest in celebrities and popular culture but I'm sure that many others would.  

 

To not use advocacy would be like making a new product or service, not advertise it then complaining that no one has enquired about the service or product. For people to be bothered, they first have to know that it exists and could be of interest to them somehow. Remember that after thousands of years of conditioning that death is okay and even desirable, we have some work to get people to think otherwise. We can't even begin to do this without advocacy/getting the word out in a way that anyone can understand. :)


Edited by Droplet, 26 October 2017 - 11:13 AM.

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