X-Message-Number: 24337
Subject: Re: Hayflick
From: Aubrey de Grey <>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2004 18:30:24 +0100

I think it is important to correct some of what David says, mainly in
order to refocus this anger where it will be more productive.

First, David is quite right that Hayflick (whom I know well) thinks it
would be a bad idea to cure aging.  However, Hayflick and Kass are not
in a minority here -- as we all know, this is the general view, and more
to the point, I can report that it is the general view among biologists.
Among biogerontologists the situation is different -- there is a general
agreement that aging is a bad thing, and Hayflick and Holliday are in a
minority -- but to call Hayflick or Holliday biogerontologists is rather
a stretch since they have not been active in the lab for over a decade.

Second, promoting one's own views with whatever authority one achieves
or is provided with is not something that can fairly be condemned -- we
all do it.  It's not Kass's fault that he has such influence on the US
administration -- he's just got lucky that the President is a fan, and
he's making the most of it according to his deeply-felt beliefs.  It's
not even Bush's fault - it's the US electorate's fault for putting Bush
in charge of the US administration.  (No Florida digressions please.)

But third and most importantly, Hayflick and Kass matter far less than
they may seem to in this.  The reason they don't matter is that none of
the scientiic community pay them the faintest attention, and ultimately
it's what the scientists feel is possible and desirable that determines
what progress is made.  So, the people who really matter in this are
those who not only agree with Hayflick about what is possible but also
have the ear of the biogerontology community -- especially if they very
clearly disagree with Hayflick about the desirability.  An authoritative
voice that says "it would be brilliant to cure aging, yes, but we can't,
not for many many decades, whatever you may hear from dangerous ignorami
like Aubrey de Grey" is a far, far greater barrier to progress than any
high-profile comments by people with no current authority in the field.
Worse, such people don't say this in print -- only in private, behind
closed doors, thereby making their message all the more difficult to

Aubrey de Grey

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