Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Anchored to aging

We all know that we will inevitably get old (assuming nothing even worse happens first). Getting old leads to reduced physical and mental abilities, and is generally perceived as a negative. But because our society has accepted it as inevitable, we become acculturated to accepting it. To deal with it even better, we develop excuses for why it is a good thing. It prevents overpopulation. It makes room for young people with new ideas. Life would get boring after a hundred years. Etc.

So whey Aubrey de Grey says that he is developing medical/genetic methods to prevent aging and allow us to live to be at least a hundred and stay healthy and strong, he gets the weirdest response. People call him evil and crazy, not because he thinks he can do it, but because he wants to.

This is one of the most extreme cases of anchoring. Because we have already developed our schema of aging, and connected it to “good” or at least “a necessary part of life,” we can’t accept the alternative.

What does this say about us?