Jan 30, 2017

Ageing is natural. Rejuvenation is not

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension

Some people object we shouldn’t cure ageing because it is natural. Well, so is malaria, for example…

You know, I may even agree ageing is ‘natural’. If we define natural as something that happens spontaneously, without external intervention, as a consequence of chemical and physical interactions, then yes, ageing is natural. This is not a great argument in favour of ageing, though, because there are very many perfectly natural things that are really bad for you, ranging on the badness spectrum pretty much anywhere from ‘mildly upsetting’ to ‘catastrophically apocalyptic’: mosquito bites, genetic diseases, viral diseses, earthquakes, tsunamis, stars going nova, being eaten by lions, cancer, a pidgeon pooing on the fancy suit you rented for your wedding precisely when you say ‘I do’, bacterial infections, and so on. So, okay, maybe ageing is natural. So what? It is also the number one cause of suffering and diseases in the western world. Frankly, I don’t give a damn if it is natural or not. It’s still pretty bad.

Speaking of rejuvenation being not natural, I could nitpick a lot. I could ask, what is ‘not natural’? Is it anything human made? Then what about things made by animals? For example, if a building is ‘not natural’, what about a beehive then? Natural or not? Given we humans have a natural tendency to tweak things around to make them work the way we want, wouldn’t rejuvenation be our natural response to the problem of ageing, just like medicines are our natural response to the problem of diseases?

I really could nitpick a lot, but it won’t be necessary. Whatever definition of ‘not natural’ one may want to give, the real issue here is that there’s a hidden meaning to ‘not natural’ which is always subtly implied, even though not stated explicitly: Things that are ‘not natural’ must be somehow bad, not good for you, dangerous for the environment, immoral, evil. Maybe they bring bad luck as well. Needless to say, this is just as wrong as claiming everything natural is good for you. Medicines are good for you. Vaccines are good for you. In a broader sense, electrical installations are good for you (if you don’t stick your fingers into the power outlet); technology, transportation, anti-seismic buildings, toothbrushes, and so on, are good for you. All ‘not natural’ stuff that is still good and you’d hardly give it up. So, okay, let’s say rejuvenation is ‘not natural’. Who cares? It’d prevent you from getting crippled by a number of nasty diseases.

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