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Brent Nally Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II at Sierra Sciences

Brent Nally Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II at Sierra Sciences

Gennady Stolyarov II
Brent Nally


On October 12, 2019, U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II spoke with Brent Nally at the venerable Sierra Sciences headquarters in Reno, Nevada. They discussed developments in the U.S. Transhumanist Party, fitness, health, and longevity – among other subjects.

Watch the interview here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party here for free, no matter where you reside.

Show Notes by Brent Nally

3:15 Brent Nally’s RAADfest 2019 YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGjySL94COVSO3hcnpZq-jCcgnUQIaALQ

4:24 Go to RAADfest primarily to network: https://www.raadfest.com/

6:28 People Unlimited website: https://peopleunlimitedinc.com/

6:30 The Coalition for Radical Life Extension website: https://www.rlecoalition.com/

7:20 We need to increase your healthspan to increase your lifespan.

9:01 Watch Bill Andrews and Gennady discussing transhumanism and radical life extension: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7GJrVBp8FQ

13:35 Gennady just ran the Lakeside Marathon at Lake Tahoe the day before, October 11, 2019.

19:30 Do whatever type of exercise that you enjoy. Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion where you’re throwing up or getting injured or not having fun because that’s bad for your telomeres.

24:10 Audit your own thoughts daily as a meditation to recognize your limiting beliefs.

26:15 How Gennady became Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party

29:35 How the 9 USTP presidential candidates competed using a “ranked preference” approach

32:07 43 articles are currently in the 3rd version of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights: https://transhumanist-party.org/tbr-3/

34:27 https://transhumanist-party.org/

35:40 We should be more concerned with ideas rather than people. We’re in an “ideas” economy.

36:28 Politicians are more followers than leaders.

40:27 3 core ideals of USTP: https://transhumanist-party.org/values/

41:40 Gennady shares more details about how his role as chairman may evolve.

44:28 Positives and negatives of centralization and decentralization

49:15 Sophia the AI robot: https://www.hansonrobotics.com/sophia/

51:30 Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Try to educate others about transhumanism.

55:30 Ray Kurzweil points out that technology growth and stock market growth are separate. Here’s Brent talking to Ray in February 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TuVn…

57:37 Join the USTP: https://transhumanist-party.org/membership/

58:40 USTP Twitter: https://twitter.com/USTranshumanist; USTP LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/19118856/; Gennady’s online magazine – The Rational Argumentator: http://www.rationalargumentator.com/index/

1:01:14 Gennady, Bill Andrews, and Brent ran about 8.4 miles the next morning above Carson City, NV on the Upper Clear Creek Trail.

1:02:15 Don’t forget to subscribe, like, comment on this video, and share on your social media accounts!

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018

Gennady Stolyarov II
Ray Kurzweil


The Stolyarov-Kurzweil Interview has been released at last! Watch it on YouTube here.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II posed a wide array of questions for inventor, futurist, and Singularitarian Dr. Ray Kurzweil on September 21, 2018, at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, California. Topics discussed include advances in robotics and the potential for household robots, artificial intelligence and overcoming the pitfalls of AI bias, the importance of philosophy, culture, and politics in ensuring that humankind realizes the best possible future, how emerging technologies can protect privacy and verify the truthfulness of information being analyzed by algorithms, as well as insights that can assist in the attainment of longevity and the preservation of good health – including a brief foray into how Ray Kurzweil overcame his Type 2 Diabetes.

Learn more about RAAD Fest here. RAAD Fest 2019 will occur in Las Vegas during October 3-6, 2019.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form.

Watch the presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018, entitled, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future”.

Third Enlightenment Salon – Gennady Stolyarov II, Bill Andrews, Bobby Ridge, and Mihoko Sekido Discuss Science-Based Advocacy of Transhumanism and Healthy Living

Third Enlightenment Salon – Gennady Stolyarov II, Bill Andrews, Bobby Ridge, and Mihoko Sekido Discuss Science-Based Advocacy of Transhumanism and Healthy Living

Gennady Stolyarov II
Bill Andrews
Bobby Ridge
Mihoko Sekido


The Third Enlightenment Salon, hosted by Gennady Stolyarov II on May 27, 2018, featured excellent conversations on the rise in public awareness of transhumanism and life extension and what can be done to further increase support for life-extending medical research. Dr. Bill Andrews, Bobby Ridge (a.k.a. Robert Ridge), and Mihoko Sekido shared insights on medical science, promotion of health, and methods of communicating the forthcoming convergence of advances in a wide array of technological fields. Importantly, we addressed how anyone can get involved in the transhumanist movement and improve public acceptance of the emerging technological future.

The following were some interesting areas of discussion:

– The new Telomere Coin, which will help fund Dr. Andrews’s research efforts – http://defytime.group/
– Bobby Ridge’s forthcoming new video channel – Science-Based Species
– Aspects of online videos that help increase their reach
– Factors that contribute to longer lifespans among Okinawans
– Motivators for leading a healthier lifestyle and its relation to the recognition of the possibility of indefinite life extension in our lifetimes
– Some potential health effects of metformin and the importance of the ongoing TAME clinical trials
– What anyone can do to promote life extension and other emerging technological fields – including joining the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free on this page.

This video also contains some excerpts from the remaining conversations at the Third Enlightenment Salon, including discussions of science-based medicine, promotion of transhumanism, autonomous vehicles, and responses to the prospect of longevity escape velocity.

Along with the recorded segment, there was much discussion about future directions of transhumanist initiatives, reasonably healthy food in a refined atmosphere, and previews of excellent video compilations that will become publicly available later this year. Mr. Stolyarov looks forward to hosting more Enlightenment Salons to bring together individuals in various fields of expertise and enable them to synthesize their insights into ways of comprehensively improving the human condition.

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Nikola Danaylov of Singularity.FM

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Nikola Danaylov of Singularity.FM

Gennady Stolyarov II
Nikola Danaylov


On March 31, 2018, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, was interviewed by Nikola Danaylov, a.k.a. Socrates, of Singularity.FM. A synopsis, audio download, and embedded video of the interview can be found on Singularity.FM here. You can also watch the YouTube video recording of the interview here.

Apparently this interview, nearly three hours in length, broke the record for the length of Nikola Danaylov’s in-depth, wide-ranging conversations on philosophy, politics, and the future.  The interview covered both some of Mr. Stolyarov’s personal work and ideas, such as the illustrated children’s book Death is Wrong, as well as the efforts and aspirations of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. The conversation also delved into such subjects as the definition of transhumanism, intelligence and morality, the technological Singularity or Singularities, health and fitness, and even cats. Everyone will find something of interest in this wide-ranging discussion.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party website at http://transhumanist-party.org. To help advance the goals of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, as described in Mr. Stolyarov’s comments during the interview, become a member for free, no matter where you reside. Click here to fill out a membership application.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – October 21, 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – October 21, 2017

G. Stolyarov II
Martin van der Kroon
Sean Singh
B.J. Murphy


In this interactive question-and-answer session, which occurred at 1 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time on Saturday, October 21, 2017, U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers provided an updated view of the Transhumanist Party’s projects, operations, and achievements, in response to audience questions. Because October is Longevity Month, this Q&A session had a life-extension theme but also delved into various other areas, including how to address conspiracy theories and various approaches toward diet, nutrition, and cultural norms regarding food consumption. The Q&A session has been archived on YouTube here.

The following U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers took part in this Q&A session:

– Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman
– Martin van der Kroon, Director of Recruitment
– Sean Singh, Director of Applied Innovation
– B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media

The YouTube question/comment chat for this Q&A session has been archived here and is also provided below.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party website here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook page here.

See the U.S. Transhumanist Party FAQ here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

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Could the Market Really End Meat? – Article by Alex Tabarrok

Could the Market Really End Meat? – Article by Alex Tabarrok

The New Renaissance HatAlex Tabarrok
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Animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century. Most people have a vague feeling that factory farms aren’t quite ethical. But few people are willing to give up meat, so such feelings are suppressed because acknowledging them would only make one feel guilty. Once the costs of giving up meat fall, however, vegetarianism will spread like a prairie wildfire, changing eating habits, the use of farmland, and the science and economics of climate change.

Lab-grown or cultured meat is improving, but so is the science of veggie burgers. Beyond Meat has sold a very successful frozen “chicken” strip since 2013, and their non-frozen burger patties are just now seeing widespread distribution in the meat aisle at Whole Foods. Beyond Meat extracts protein from peas and then combines it with other vegetable elements under heating, cooling, and pressure to realign the proteins in a way that simulates the architecture of beef.

I picked up a two-pack on the weekend. Beyond Meat burgers look and cook like meat. But what about the taste?

The taste is excellent. The burger has a slightly smokey taste, not exactly like beef, but like meat. If you had never tasted a buffalo burger before, and I told you that this was a buffalo burger, you would have no reason to doubt me. A little sauce and salt and pepper, and this is a very good-tasting burger, not a sacrifice for morality.

The price is currently more than beef, $6 for two patties, but that’s Whole-Foods expensive, not out-of-reach expensive. I will buy more.

The revolution has begun.

The second picture is the BuzzFeed version. My burger wasn’t quite so artfully arranged but was still delicious, and I attest to the overall accuracy.

This post first appeared at Marginal Revolution.

Alex Tabarrok is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He blogs at Marginal Revolution with Tyler Cowen.

On Soda Taxes and Purported Health Benefits – Article by Peter Van Doren

On Soda Taxes and Purported Health Benefits – Article by Peter Van Doren

The New Renaissance HatPeter Van Doren
October 27, 2015
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This week, the New York Times editorial board wrote in support of greater taxes on sweetened drinks, citing new research from a team Mexican and American researchers. They praise the novel design of the tax, which is levied on drink distributors rather than consumers. This caused the tax to be included in shelf prices, making the increase in total cost clear to consumers. The research found that soda consumption fell 12 percent in a year, and 17 percent among the poorest Mexicans.

The Times admits that we do not know whether any health benefits will actually result from soda taxes.  In this article in Regulation, the University of Pennsylvania’s Jonathan Klick and Claremont McKenna’s Eric Helland examined the effects of soda taxes. They conclude that a one percent increase in soda taxes led to a five percent reduction in soda consumption among young people.  But consumers substituted to other beverages.  A 6-calorie reduction in soda consumption was accompanied by an 8-calorie increase in milk consumption and a 2-calorie increase in juice consumption. Thus, the tax on soda led to an increase in overall calorie consumption, which offset the benefits of falling soda consumption. Moreover, there was “no statistically significant effect of soda taxes on body weight or the likelihood of being obese or overweight”.

Peter Van Doren is editor of the quarterly journal Regulation and an expert in the regulation of housing, land, energy, the environment, transportation, and labor. He has taught at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (Princeton University), the School of Organization and Management (Yale University), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1987 to 1988 he was the postdoctoral fellow in political economy at Carnegie Mellon University. His writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Journal of Commerce, and the New York Post. Van Doren has also appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox News Channel, and Voice of America.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master’s degree and doctorate from Yale University.

This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Third Interview of Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov by Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club – May 2, 2015

Third Interview of Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov by Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club – May 2, 2015

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov
September 6, 2015
******************************

ELFC_DIW_Third_InterviewNote by Mr. Stolyarov: On May 2, 2015, a hot spring day in Roseville, California, Wendy Stolyarov and I visited Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club and had a lengthy discussion with him on a wide variety of subjects: life extension, our illustrated children’s book Death is Wrong, healthcare policy, criminal punishment, and the political prospects of the Transhumanist Party and third parties in general. This was Roen’s third interview with us (watch the first and second interviews as well), and his skillfully edited recording offers a glimpse into its best segments. This conversation occurred approximately four months before Wendy and I took the step to found the Nevada Transhumanist Party, but my comments in this interview are a good example of the evolution of my thinking in this direction, as I was already inclined toward endorsing Zoltan Istvan’s 2016 Presidential run.

Watch the interview here.

Join the Nevada Transhumanist Party here.

Exemptions for Anti-Vaccination Activists Are Incompatible with Liberty: A Response to Robert P. Murphy – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Exemptions for Anti-Vaccination Activists Are Incompatible with Liberty: A Response to Robert P. Murphy – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
July 12, 2015
******************************

The anti-vaccination movement today constitutes one of the most astounding rejections of scientific progress. Taking many steps beyond an aversion to emerging medical breakthroughs, this movement turns its back on modern medicine established as long ago as Edward Jenner’s famous experiments with vaccination in the 1790s. Largely fearing the completely discredited and fraudulent “connection” between vaccines and autism, opponents of vaccinations have no qualms about exposing masses of people to the infectious diseases that shortened typical lifespans by factors of two or three in the eras before vaccination was prevalent. The anti-vaccination movement’s scare tactics have already led to a resurgence of measles in the United States, bringing about the first death from the disease in 12 years within American borders. If vaccination rates continue to drop, we can expect more ancient killers to be resurrected, particularly endangering the lives and well-being of those who are unable to be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons.

Vaccination has been among the most successful medical techniques in history. We have it to thank for the eradication of smallpox and impressive reductions of the rates of polio, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, and many other maladies that routinely reached epidemic proportions in the premodern world. The evidence is overwhelming that opponents of vaccination are not just mistaken, but dangerously so. Their pseudo-scientific rhetoric does not merely affect personal lifestyle choices, but also exposes innocent individuals to harm. Yet the question has arisen as to how libertarians, who reject the initiation of aggression as a matter of principle, ought to respond to the anti-vaccination movement. Even if one considers the refusal to vaccinate to be misguided and scientifically unfounded, should it remain a legitimate personal choice from the standpoint of the law or of private institutions within a hypothetical libertarian-leaning society? Recently, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) hosted a debate between Robert P. Murphy, who argued that mandatory vaccinations are incompatible with liberty, and Randal John Meyer, who presented a case for the legitimacy of mandatory vaccination (in some circumstances) from the standpoint of the non-aggression principle.

As greatly as I respect Dr. Murphy’s work as an economist and a libertarian political theorist (despite some notable differences between us in the latter area), the strength of Dr. Meyer’s articulate arguments, as well as a recognition that opponents of vaccination do not only endanger themselves, lead me to wholly disagree with Dr. Murphy’s position in this debate. Dr. Murphy seems to agree with the medical science supporting the use of vaccines, but, out of libertarian considerations, writes that “Mandatory vaccinations are a gross violation of liberty.” Here I will argue that providing exemptions to mandatory vaccination on the mere basis of “philosophical” opposition to vaccination is the true violation of liberty.

Like Dr. Meyer, I base my argument on the non-aggression principle and the recognition that people do not have the right to involuntarily expose others to deadly diseases that, with continued vaccination, could become eradicated or remain at minimal levels. Unlike anti-vaccination activists, somebody who decides to take recreational drugs or consistently overeat or reject the scientific evidence about evolution harms only himself – physically or intellectually or both. While counterarguments might be made regarding indirect harms of such behaviors to others, those indirect harms are not proximate and can be prevented by the individual himself or by the choices of those who refuse to be affected. Therefore, such mistaken choices of lifestyle or belief should only meet with voluntary persuasion and education. A libertarian respects the right of others to be wrong, as long as their wrong inflicts no involuntary harm upon others. But to infect unwitting others because one is “philosophically” opposed to vaccination is not a valid exercise of personal freedom and not a behavior that harms oneself only; it is, rather, a negligent infliction of harm in violation of others’ rights.

To be clear, my position does not recommend mandatory vaccination for everyone – since there can be legitimate medical reasons not to vaccinate some people who might be at greater risk of usually rare side effects or who might be too vulnerable for the vaccine to work properly (e.g., pregnant women, infants, or the elderly in the case of certain vaccines). But precisely because not everyone can be safely vaccinated, anyone who can be, should be – in order to prevent the spread of disease to those who cannot directly protect themselves. As my central position on this issue, I strongly support abolishing all “religious” or “philosophical” exemptions to vaccination, as well as any exemption based on the purportedly medical advice of a doctor who is a “vaccine skeptic”. Only medical doctors who recognize the benefits and efficacy of vaccination in the majority of instances, but consider the risk of adverse side effects to be too great for a particular patient, should be able to provide exemptions to vaccination. Furthermore, medical doctors who fabricate reasons for vaccine exemptions or who deny the efficacy of vaccines in fighting disease, where such denial affects their areas of practice, should be stripped of their licenses by the credentialing organizations that oversee them.

Nor does the elimination of belief-based vaccine exemptions imply the necessity of overwhelming enforcement of vaccination mandates. There should be enough enforcement, combined with education and social pressure, to bring herd immunity back to levels where a disease is kept at bay even if a few individuals slip through the cracks of the vaccination system for whatever reasons. The key is to avoid systematic allowances that lead to vaccination rates dropping below crucial thresholds.

Dr. Murphy writes that “Mandatory vaccinations involve a supreme violation of liberty, where agents of the state inject substances into someone’s body against his or her will.” However, nothing in my position requires the government to forcibly inject any person against that person’s will. Rather, the institutional mechanisms that have sufficed to maintain herd immunity prior to the rise of the anti-vaccination movement should simply be allowed to work without a belief-based exemption to get in their way. For instance, one can debate the legitimacy of public schools – but so long as they exist and remain a part of the lives of many families, they can justifiably be governed by rules designed to preserve the health of their students. Parents who refuse to vaccinate children (without a legitimate medical exemption) should simply be disallowed from sending those children to public schools, where they could serve as carriers of deadly diseases to other innocent children. Private schools could also choose to adopt similar criteria, requiring evidence of vaccination as a prerequisite for admitting a student (and, I hypothesize, in a libertarian society where legitimate science is able to triumph on a free market of ideas, almost all private schools would adopt such criteria). As a libertarian, I would consider the use of physical force against people’s bodies to achieve vaccination to be too disproportionate a remedy – but refusal of access to government facilities and services, along with a healthy dose of education, cultural pressure, and ostracism of the unvaccinated would be perfectly legitimate as ways to prevent the dangerous misconceptions of the anti-vaccination activists from resurrecting age-old killers. Anti-vaccination activists should face not a stick, but the removal of the carrots that almost everybody else would receive.

The remainder of this essay will cite each of Dr. Murphy’s main arguments, followed by my response.

Dr. Murphy writes: First, among those who hew strictly to a nonaggression principle and a stateless society, mandatory vaccinations are, of course, a nonstarter. Whether they identify themselves as ‘strict libertarians,’ ‘voluntaryists,’ or ‘anarchocapitalists,’ this group would obviously never condone the state’s forcing someone to be vaccinated, because most believe the state is illegitimate.”

I respond: While I am not an anarcho-capitalist and consider some government functions to be legitimate as long as they respect individual liberty, it is possible to be anarcho-capitalist and also support widespread vaccination with no belief-based exemptions. Virtually every anarcho-capitalist will support some form of private law, since the case for anarcho-capitalism relies on the possibility of social order without a central authority. Furthermore, this private law, to be legitimate, would need to be based on the theoretical foundations of libertarianism – which might be natural law or might be utilitarian or consequentialist considerations, or some combination thereof, depending on the philosophical persuasion of a given libertarian who would advocate for such a system. A private law based on natural law would recognize scientific truth, since scientific truth is part of natural law – and the efficacy of vaccination in protecting against disease, as well as the consequences of a widespread lack of vaccination, constitute some of the best-established scientific truths. A private law based on consequentialist considerations (for instance, minimizing the harm that people are able to inflict upon others) would also recognize that allowing anti-vaccination activists to run rampant while carrying highly contagious infections would not be in the interest of maximizing human well-being or ensuring that people are protected against unwanted harm. Therefore, it is entirely conceivable that a hypothetical anarcho-capitalist society, through networks of private courts or arbiters, would develop a theory of negligence that encompasses those who, in their refusal to vaccinate themselves or their children, recklessly and needlessly endanger the health and lives of others.

Dr. Murphy writes: Second, for minarchists, the proper role for the state is that of a ‘night watchman,’ a minimal government that only protects the individual from domestic criminals and foreign threats. In a minarchist framework, it is only legitimate for the state to take action against someone who is violating (or threatening to violate) the rights of another. A person’s failure to become vaccinated is hardly by itself a violation of someone else’s rights. Flipping it around, it would sound odd to say you have the right to live in a society where everyone else has had measles shots.”

I respond: An important implication of the non-aggression principle is that it is illegitimate to expose others to involuntary violation of their lives, liberty, or property. This principle applies even when the aggressor does not realize that he or she is engaging in aggression. (For instance, a thief who steals another’s property and genuinely believes himself to be doing good, because he intends to redistribute that property to the poor, is still a thief who is violating his victim’s rights.)

The intentional transmission of disease to others clearly impinges on those others’ lives and liberty. One might be killed by the disease, or one might be incapacitated or inconvenienced to the point of being unable to pursue opportunities one might otherwise have had. Technically, transmitting any disease to any unwilling person would constitute an act of negligence in a society guided by libertarian principles, and would require proportionate compensation. However, in many cases, it is practically difficult to determine who transmitted a disease to whom and how. Furthermore, medical science has not yet discovered consistently reliable ways to prevent the transmission of certain infections, such as the common cold. Therefore, while it is still infeasible to prevent the spread of all infectious diseases, a libertarian who supports the non-aggression principle ought to support the prevention of disease transmission where it is currently technically feasible. Vaccination is one of the major tools in the current arsenal for preventing disease transmission. Those who are vaccinated against a given disease gain the benefit of a greater likelihood of their own protection from the disease, but – more importantly from a libertarian perspective – they reduce their likelihood of becoming unwitting initiators of aggression against others. I agree fully with Dr. Meyer that, where it is cheap and practical to vaccinate, while the costs of not doing so can include a devastating, deadly epidemic, the decision to require vaccination as a condition of participation in public life is justified.

Dr. Murphy writes: Third, and most interesting, let’s consider a broader notion of liberty, which balances a presumption of individual autonomy against the public welfare. In this approach, there’s not a blanket prohibition on the state restricting the liberties of individuals — even when they haven’t yet hurt anybody else — so long as such restrictions impose little harm on the recipients and possibly prevent a vast amount of damage. This is the only conception of the state for which the mandatory vaccination debate is possible.”

I respond: I will interject here only to reiterate that this is not the only view of the three described by Dr. Murphy which could justify mandatory vaccination. As I discuss above, any libertarian school of thought can consistently embrace vaccination requirements, if the implications of the non-aggression principle are fully applied to the transmission of infectious disease.

Dr. Murphy writes: Let’s be charitable and assume this more expansive definition, under which, for example, even self-described libertarians might not object to stiff penalties for drunk driving or prohibitions on citizens building atomic bombs in their basements. How does mandatory vaccination fare in this framework, where we’re not arguing in terms of qualitative principles but instead performing a quantitative cost-benefit test? Even here, the case for mandatory vaccinations is weak. First of all, the only realistic scenario where the issue would even be relevant is where the vast majority of the public thinks it would be a good idea if everyone got vaccinated, but (for whatever reason) a small minority strongly disagreed. This is obvious: if the medical case for a vaccine were so dubious that, say, half the public didn’t think it made sense to administer it, then there would hardly be an issue of the government clamoring to inject half the population against their will.”

I respond: Scientific truth is true no matter what proportion of the population believes it to be. If, in a hypothetical society, 1% of the population was enlightened and recognized the role of vaccination in preventing epidemics, while the other 99% believed that only bleeding and magic rituals could cure disease, it would still be justified to require vaccination – since the objective mechanisms of disease transmission are not affected by the prevailing beliefs in a society. I bring up this point not merely for hypothetical purposes, but to highlight the dangers of the anti-vaccination activists’ pseudo-scientific and anti-scientific propaganda. Like many Neo-Luddite and “back to nature” movements, the anti-vaccination movement is dangerous precisely because it does have the potential to persuade a critical mass of people who lack the training to distinguish between scientific truth and deception, and who find the siren song of a romanticized primordial Eden alluring. Anti-vaccination activists exploit widespread primal fears of the technological, the modern, the “artificial”, and exhort people to return to a mythical age of bliss that never was. In fact, if enough people embrace anti-vaccination propaganda, we will indeed revert to an earlier paradigm – the Hobbesian primitive world in which life was nasty, brutish, and short. Anybody who supports reason and science and endorses technological progress as a pathway toward individual flourishing should recognize anti-vaccination activists to be great foes of human well-being and civilization.

Dr. Murphy writes: We’re dealing with a scenario in which the vast majority of the public thinks it would be a good idea for all of the public to become vaccinated. In that environment, if vaccines are voluntary, then we can be confident that just about all of these enthusiasts would go ahead and become vaccinated. In other words, any ‘free riding’ would only take place at the margin, if most of the population had gotten the vaccine and thus an outbreak of the relevant disease was unlikely.”

I respond: The flaw with this argument is that effective herd immunity often requires not just a majority or even a substantial majority of people to be vaccinated – but rather an overwhelming majority. For some diseases, such as measles and pertussis, herd-immunity thresholds are significantly above 90%. Because vaccines are not always 100% effective on those who do get vaccinated, this means that the entire population is at risk of the disease if the anti-vaccination activists persuade even 5 to 10 percent of the public to refuse to get vaccinated out of fear. To minimize our individual chances of becoming victims of a preventable disease, we need as many people to be vaccinated as is safely possible. While it is true that effective herd immunity can coexist with tiny pockets of the unvaccinated, the danger of the anti-vaccination movement is that it will not confine itself to such tiny pockets of the most zealous believers, but rather seeks to spread its damaging influence to as many people as possible. The real danger arises when this pseudo-scientific movement ceases to be the purview of lone cranks and becomes a trend in upscale areas such as Orange County, California, now known for miserably low vaccination rates.

Dr. Murphy writes: When a person gets vaccinated, the primary beneficiary is himself. And this benefit is all the greater the lower the rate of vaccination in the population at large. In other words, among a population of people who all believe that a vaccine is effective, the individual cost-benefit analysis of taking the vaccine will only yield a temptation of ‘free riding’ once a sufficient fraction of the population has become vaccinated, thus ensuring ‘herd immunity.’”

I respond: While I agree that individuals are indeed often beneficiaries of their own vaccinations, the primary benefit from a libertarian standpoint is the reduction in the probability of their unintentional aggression toward others. From a libertarian political standpoint, the case for mandatory vaccination rests precisely on the fact that lack of vaccination poses negative external harms. Additionally, in the case of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children (which is the type of situation to which most of the controversies regarding vaccination pertain), the case can be made that those parents are negligently exposing their children to harm, in situations where the children do not have sufficient information or autonomy to override their parents’ fear-based judgments.

Furthermore, I disagree regarding herd immunity being a necessary precondition for the “free riding” of the anti-vaccination movement to arise. Such a state of affairs would presuppose that the “free riders” actually agree with the scientific case for vaccination, but consider it too inconvenient or burdensome to be personally vaccinated. If only this were the case with the opponents of vaccination today! The very reason why the anti-vaccination movement is so dangerous is because it is, like all “back to nature” movements, rooted in an anti-technological, Neo-Luddite ideology of fear. The anti-vaccination activists refuse to get vaccinated not because of a pragmatic (if sloppy) cost-benefit analysis, but rather because of a burning hatred of vaccination due largely to the mantra that “vaccines cause autism!” No amount of evidence or demonstration of the fraud involved in the alleged vaccine-autism connection suffices to dissuade those for whom this view has become an article of faith. No matter how low the vaccination rates are driven, or how many people are felled by the resurgent epidemics, the anti-vaccination activists will continue to hew to their irrational dogmas. For this reason, it is the task of the remainder of Western civilization to protect itself against the harms the anti-vaccination activists perpetrate.

Dr. Murphy writes: Unlike other examples of huge (alleged) trade-offs between individual and public benefits, with vaccinations there is no threat of a mass outbreak in a free society. With vaccines, we have the happy outcome that when someone chooses to vaccinate him or herself, so long as the vaccine is effective, then that person is largely shielded from the consequences of others’ decisions regarding vaccination.

I respond: The key phrase in the above argument is “so long as the vaccine is effective”. It turns out that most vaccines are quite effective, but not always 100% effective. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services states that “most childhood vaccines produce immunity about 90 – 100% of the time” but some vaccines, such as the seasonal flu vaccine, achieve effectiveness rates in the ranges of 40% to 60% during good years. This is still nothing to scoff at, but it reinforces the point that some people might remain vulnerable to the diseases they got vaccinated against, in spite of their best intentions. This is another reason why maintaining herd immunity is crucial; it protects those individuals whose specific vaccinations failed to work. This also implies that getting individually vaccinated is not a guarantee of protection against the depredation of the anti-vaccination activists. In the short run, mandatory vaccination as a precondition for participation in governmentally run institutions can provide some added protection. In the longer run, the anti-vaccination movement needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history through persuasion, education, and social ostracism.

Dr. Murphy writes: Notice the irony and how weak the mandatory vaccination case has become. We are no longer being told that vaccines are ‘safe,’ and that anyone who fears medical complications is a conspiracy theorist trusting Jenny McCarthy over guys in white lab coats. On the contrary, the CDC warns certain groups not to take popular vaccines because of the health risks. This is no longer a matter of principle — of the people on the side of science being pro-vaccine, while the tinfoil-hatters are anti-vaccine. Instead it’s a disagreement over which people should be taking the vaccine and which people should not take it because the dangers are too great.

I respond: The above argument regarding the implications of the non-universal safety of vaccines is far too simplistic. The key element missed by this argument is the existence of objective, scientific truth regarding which segments of population vaccines are safe for, and which segments of the population are vulnerable. The scientific truth is that individual vaccination remains safe for the vast majority of the population, whereas the anti-vaccination activists assert that vaccines are unsafe for everybody. There is an insurmountable qualitative gulf between a risk-based scientific assessment regarding vaccine safety by population segments and a reflexive, ideologically motivated condemnation of all vaccination efforts just because adverse side effects might occur somewhere for somebody. The disagreement is still one of principle – whether objective, scientific evidence should guide the administration of vaccinations, or whether the fears of the “back to nature” types should be allowed to override the health and safety of everyone else.

Dr. Murphy writes: Regarding children, social conflict can be resolved through the fuller application of private property rights. If all schools, hospitals, and daycare centers were privately operated and had the legal right to exclude whichever clients they wished, then the owners could decide on vaccination policies. Any parents who were horrified at the idea of little Jimmy playing with an unvaccinated kid could choose Jimmy’s school accordingly.”

I respond: I concur that, if all of the institutions described by Dr. Murphy were privately operated, their owners could set vaccination policies. I would suggest that most such owners – if acting in their genuine, long-term, rational self-interest – would recognize the scientific evidence and require some evidence or vaccination or at least refuse access to overt anti-vaccination activists. I expect that Dr. Murphy would agree with me that this would be consistent with libertarianism and the non-aggression principle.

The disagreement arises in a world where governmentally run institutions do exist and are not going away anytime soon. The vast majority of people attend and use these institutions because the incentives of the current “mixed economy” leave them with no better options. Given that these institutions exist, it is still desirable for them to operate in such a manner that maximizes genuine individual liberty and reduces the involuntary infliction of harm upon others. Therefore, rules for the operation of governmental institutions, designed to prevent those institutions from being hotbeds of disease transmission, are entirely reasonable and justifiable within the imperfect world which we inhabit. Just like the administrators of a public school airport can legitimately implement prohibitions on littering or visitors who carry the Ebola virus, so can they legitimately require evidence of vaccination as a prerequisite for admission. Ideally, of course, we should strive toward a society where such presentation of positive evidence would not be necessary, because everybody who is medically eligible would get vaccinated out of a recognition of vaccination’s overwhelming benefits. However, as long as the anti-vaccination movement remains a prominent force in public discourse, one cannot fault administrators for taking precautions to protect those who use their facilities.

Dr. Murphy writes: We have seen that even assuming the best of government officials, it is difficult to state an argument in favor of mandatory vaccinations. Yet, the debate tilts even more when we recall that throughout history, government officials have made horrible decisions in the name of public welfare, either through incompetence or ulterior motives. It should be obvious that no fan of liberty can support injecting substances into an innocent person’s body against his or her will.”

I respond: This may be a valid concern to raise in response to a forced-injection program, but not in response to a mere denial of positive benefits (like access to certain government services) for those who refuse to be vaccinated. Furthermore, I am not arguing for any extraordinary level of coercion – just a return to the system of vaccination requirements that existed before religious or “philosophical” exemptions to vaccination came into vogue. The empirical evidence suggests that those requirements did not result in any horrible abuses of power – perhaps because those requirements were compatible with the non-aggression principles and the legitimate functions of law (be it public or private law) in the first place.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the best of all worlds would be one in which everybody who could safely be vaccinated, would be, without the need for any mandates – just because people would be sufficiently enlightened to recognize vaccination’s scientifically established benefits and reject the fear-mongering of those who would return us to the age of blood-letting, witch-fearing, and “medicine” based on the “four humours”. It is likely that Dr. Murphy would agree with me that universal, voluntary vaccination would be the most desirable outcome. Where we differ, however, is in our assessment of how much involuntary harm the anti-vaccination movement is able to inflict upon the rest of us. By weakening herd immunity in the Western world, the anti-vaccination movement is perhaps the most dangerous of the “back to nature” strains. It is a cultural infection to which we should develop an immunity using as many tools as we can effectively deploy.

This essay may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, G. Stolyarov II. Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.

The Aristotelian Golden Mean as Conducive to Good Health in the Pursuit of Life Extension – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The Aristotelian Golden Mean as Conducive to Good Health in the Pursuit of Life Extension – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
January 4, 2015
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By the mean of a thing I mean what is equally distant from either extreme, which is one and the same for everyone; by the mean relative to us what is neither too much nor too little, and this is not the same for everyone. For instance, if ten are many and two few, we take the mean of the thing if we take six; since it exceeds and is exceeded by the same amount; this then is the mean according to arithmetic proportion. But we cannot arrive thus at the mean relative to us. Let ten lbs. of food be a large portion for someone and two lbs. a small portion; it does not follow that a trainer will prescribe six lbs., for maybe even this amount will be a large portion, or a small one, for the particular athlete who is to receive it…. In the same way then one with understanding in any matter avoids excess and deficiency, and searches out and chooses the mean — the mean, that is, not of the thing itself but relative to us.

~ Aristotle (384-322 BCE), Nicomachean Ethics, 1106a29-b8

800px-Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575
Copy of Bust of Aristotle by Lysippus, circa 330 BCE
Portrait of Gennady Stolyarov II by Wendy Stolyarov for "Death is Wrong"
Portrait of Gennady Stolyarov II by Wendy Stolyarov for Death is Wrong

This is not medical advice, but rather a general synthesis of philosophical and common-sense lifestyle heuristics for those who are generally healthy and seek to stay that way for as long as possible. All of the ideas below are ones I endeavor to put into practice personally as part of my endeavor to survive long enough to benefit from humankind’s future attainment of longevity escape velocity and indefinite lifespans. As an educated layman, not a medical doctor, I accept contemporary “mainstream” medicine (i.e., evidence-based, scientific medicine) as the most reliable guidance for specific health matters that currently exists. I consider the discussion below to be sufficiently general and basic as to be consistent with common medical knowledge – though, in any particular person’s case, specific medical advice should prevail over anything to the contrary in this essay.

It is easier for humans to live by absolutes than by degrees. If a practice or pursuit is unambiguously harmful, it can readily be avoided. If it is unambiguously beneficial, then it can be pursued in any quantity permitted by one’s available time and other resources. The very fact of being alive is itself an unambiguous good, of which no amount is excessive. On the other hand, death of the individual is an unambiguous harm, as is any behavior that directly precipitates or hastens death due to harmful effects upon the human body.

But much of life is comprised of elements that are essential to human well-being in some quantity but could become harmful if pursued to excess. This is where Aristotle’s idea of the “golden mean” – of virtue as being neither a deficiency nor an excess of various necessary attributes – can be applied to the pursuit of health and longevity. Indeed, much of health consists of maintaining key bodily functions and metrics within favorable ranges of parameters. A healthy weight, healthy blood-sugar concentration, healthy blood pressure, and a healthy heart rate all exist as segments along spectra, bordered by other segments of deficiency and excess.

More is known today about what is harmful to longevity than what would extend it past today’s typical “old age”. For instance, smoking, consumption of most alcohol (apart, possibly, from modest quantities of red wine), and use of many recreational drugs are clearly known to increase mortality risk. As these habits provide no support for any essential life function while having the potential to cause great harm to health, it is best to eschew them altogether. Indeed, the mere avoidance of all tobacco use is statistically the single best way to increase one’s remaining life expectancy. Yet this is the easy part, as one can quite resolutely and immoderately reject all consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs with no harm to oneself and only benefits.

An Aristotelian “golden mean” approach is needed, on the other hand, for those elements which are indispensable to sustaining good health, but which can also damage health if indulged in imprudently and to excess. Aristotle recognized that the “golden mean” when it comes to individual behavior cannot be derived through a strict formula but is rather unique to each person. Still, its determination is based on objective attributes of physical reality and not on one’s wishes or on the path of least resistance. The realms of diet, exercise, and supplementation are of particular relevance to life extension. It would particularly benefit individuals who seek to extend their lives indefinitely to adopt “golden mean” heuristics in each of these realms, until medical science advances sufficiently to develop reliable techniques to reverse biological senescence and greatly increase maximum attainable lifespans.

Food

Food is sustenance for the organism, and its absence or deficiency lead to starvation and malnutrition. Its excess, on the other hand, can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a host of associated ills. It is clear that a moderate amount of food is desirable – one that is enough to sustain all the vital functions of the organism without precipitating chronic diseases of excess. Contrary to common prejudice, it is not too difficult to gain a reasonably good idea of the quantity of food one should consume. For most people, this is the quantity that enables an individual to maintain weight in the healthy range of body-mass index (BMI). (There are exceptions to this for certain athletes of extraordinary muscularity, but not for the majority of people. Contrary to common objections, while it is true that BMI is not the sole consideration for healthy body mass, it is a reasonably good heuristic for most, including many who are likely to object to its use.)

The comparison of “calories in” versus “calories out” – even though it must often rely on approximation due to the difficulty of exactly measuring metabolic activity – is nevertheless quite dependable. It is scientifically established that consuming a surplus of 3,500 calories (over and above one’s metabolic expenditures) results in gaining one pound (0.45 kilograms) of mass, whereas running a deficit of 3,500 calories results in the loss of one pound.

Consuming a moderate amount of food (relative to one’s exercise level) to maintain a moderate amount of weight is one of the most obvious applications of the principle of the golden mean to diet. Yet it is also the composition of one’s food that should exhibit moderation in the form of diversification of ingredients and food types.

Principle 1: There are no inherently bad or inherently good foods, but some foods are safer in large amounts than others. (For instance, eating a bowl full of vegetables is safer than eating a bowl full of butter.) Furthermore, one’s diet should not be dominated by any one type of food or any one ingredient.

Principle 2: In order to maintain a caloric balance at a healthy weight, consideration of calorie density of foods is key for portion sizes. More calorie-dense foods should be consumed in smaller portions, while less calorie-dense foods could be consumed in larger portions, provided that there is adequate diversification among the less calorie-dense foods as well.

Here my approach differs immensely from any fad diet – from veganism to the paleo diet to anything in between that prescribes a list of mandatory “good” foods and forbidden “evil” foods and attempts to rule human lives through minute regimens of cleaving to the mandatory and eschewing the forbidden. I acknowledge that virtually any fad diet is superior to unrestrained gluttony or the unconscious, stress-induced lapses into unhealthy eating that plague many in the Western world today. This, indeed, is the reason for such diets’ popularity and the availability of “success stories” from among practitioners of any such diet: virtually any conscious control over food intake and concern over food quality is superior to sheer abandon. However, all fad diets are also pseudo-scientific. Contradictory evidence regarding the health effects of almost any type of food – from meat to bread to chocolate to salt and even large quantities of fruits and vegetables – emerges in both scientific and popular publications every week. While some approaches to diet are clearly superior to others (e.g., most diets would be superior to a candy-only diet or a diet consisting solely of peas, as in Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck), no fad diet can claim to reliably extend human lifespans beyond average life expectancies in the Western world today.

In the absence of clear, scientific evidence as to the unambiguous benefits or harms of any particular widely consumed food, diversification and moderation offer one the best hope of maximizing one’s expected longevity prior to the era of rejuvenation therapies. This is because of two key, interrelated effects:

Effect 1: If some food types indeed convey particularly important health benefits, then diversification helps ensure that one is gaining these benefits as a result of consuming at least some foods of those types.

Effect 2: If some foods or food types indeed result in harms to the organism – either due to the inherent properties of these foods or due to dangers introduced by the specific ways in which they are cultivated, delivered, or improperly preserved – then diversification helps reduce the organism’s exposure to such harms arising from any one particular food or food type, therefore lessening the likelihood that these harms will accumulate to a critical level.

Diversification, coupled with consideration of calorie density of foods, has the additional advantage of flexibility. If one encounters a situation where dietary choice is inconvenient, one might still enjoy the occasion and accommodate it through judicious portion sizing or adjustments to other meals either beforehand or afterward. One does not need to condemn oneself for having committed the dietary sin of eating an “unhealthy food” – as it is not the food itself that is unhealthy, but rather the frequency and amounts in which it is consumed. The Aristotelian “golden mean” heuristic also implies that there is no fault with pursuing food for the purpose of enjoyment or sensory pleasure – again, in moderation, as long as no detriment to health results.

A final note on diet is that the approach of moderation does not favor caloric restriction – i.e., reduction in calorie intake far below typical diets that suffice for maintaining a healthy body mass. Caloric restriction has shown remarkable effects in increasing lifespans in simple organisms – yeast, roundworms, and rodents – but has not demonstrated significant longevity benefits for humans, at least as suggested by presently available research. It is possible that the positive effects which caloric restriction confers upon simpler organisms are already reaped by humans and higher animals to a great extent, such that any added benefits to these organisms’ already far longer lifespans would be slight at best. A calorie-restricted diet is an excellent option for those seeking to lose weight or transition from a diet of gluttony and reckless abandon. It is also likely superior to “average” dietary habits today in terms of forestalling diet-related chronic diseases. However, there is no compelling evidence at present that a calorie-restricted diet is superior to a moderate, diversified diet that maintains a caloric balance. Furthermore, extreme calorie restriction would either require activity restriction (to conserve energy) or would involve descending into an underweight range, which is associated with its own health risks.

Exercise

Exercise cannot be disentangled from considerations of dietary choice, since it is crucial to the expenditure side of the caloric equation (or inequality). It is, again, scientifically incontrovertible that regular exercise is superior to a sedentary lifestyle in enhancing virtually every metric of bodily health. On the other hand, moderation should be practiced in the degree of physical exertion at any given time, so as to prevent pushing one’s body to its breaking point – which will differ by individual. Exercising in such a manner that gradually pushes one’s sphere of abilities outward will help render the probability of reaching a breaking point – the failure of any bodily system – increasingly remote. For instance, gradually building up one’s running ability can eventually enable one to run an ultramarathon without adverse consequences. However, if an overweight and completely sedentary person were to attempt to run an ultramarathon without any prior running experience (and did not give up after a few miles), the results would be disastrous. Likewise, it is possible to lift large weights safely, but only if one begins with smaller weights and gradually works one’s way up.

For virtually all individuals in the Western world today, no harm can arise from the increase in the absolute amount of physical activity, as long as the exercise is performed in a safe environment and with safe form. Immoderate kinds of exercise would include extreme sports (those which entail a significant danger to life), any sports in extreme weather, or any exertion at the boundary of the current tolerance of one’s heart and other muscles. Most people, however, can easily find activities – ranging from simple walking to light lifting and body-weight exercises – that would pose no such risks and would unambiguously improve health.

Diversification in exercise, as with diet, is superior to exclusivist fad regimens. While any safe exercise is superior to none, it is completely unfounded to insist that only one particular type or genre of exercise is “good” while all the others are “bad”. The currently fashionable “no cardio” camp is a particularly glaring example of absurdity in this regard, eschewing some of the most effective ways possible for burning calories, maintaining cardiovascular and muscular health, and preventing diabetes and many types of cancer. But it would be similarly unreasonable to reject all weight lifting or all flexibility training due to some dogma regarding “ideal” kinds of exercise. It is best to perform a variety of exercises, each of which emphasize different facets of health. That being said, the exact mix would depend on the attributes and preferences of a given individual, and appropriate diversification could still involve a heavily emphasized preferred type of exercise, in addition to various auxiliary types that enable one to also improve in other areas.

Again, it is important to emphasize that, while regular exercise can improve one’s likelihood of surviving to current “old age”, it cannot, by itself, protect against the ravages of senescence beyond perhaps slightly deferring them. The best case for regular, moderate exercise is that it can raise one’s chances of surviving to an era when medical treatments that reverse biological senescence will become available and widespread.

Because exercise should be pursued with the intention of maximizing health and improving one’s likelihood of long-term survival, great care must be taken not to allow the competitive aspects of any exercise to overwhelm the health aspects. For instance, the taking of steroids and other “performance-enhancing” substances in order to set athletic records or beat one’s competitors is counterproductive to the maintenance of good health and is often worse than doing no exercise at all. Likewise, engaging in sports such as American football, rugby, boxing, or lacrosse, which involve a high degree of physical contact and therefore a great likelihood of injury, is counterproductive to the goal of health preservation.

Supplementation, or Lack Thereof

Overall, it is important for the human body to obtain adequate quantities of essential nutrients – such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids – in order for healthy function to be sustained. Because these nutrients are not automatically produced by the body in adequate amounts, they must be consumed from external sources. However, excessive amounts of many such nutrients can be toxic. Moreover, contemporary science has not discerned any regimen of extraordinary supplementation (over and above medically recommended daily values) to reliably result in longevity improvements for those who are already healthy. Worse yet, enough research exists to suggest that supplementation with vitamins and other common substances, significantly in excess of medically recommended daily values, could increase the risk of early death. Again, the evidence points to the desirability of a moderate intake of vitamins and other essential nutrients – but none of them becomes a panacea when consumed in doses significantly above the moderate ones found in foods routinely available to virtually everyone in the Western world. Mild vitamin and mineral supplements are probably not harmful and may be helpful if one’s diet indeed lacks some essential nutrients, but mega-doses of any substance should be approached with great caution.

Supplementation with drugs and hormones – absent the clear and medically determined need to treat a specific health problem – is even riskier for a healthy organism; the side effects could be great, and the benefits are dubious at present. No “magic pill” for life extension has yet been discovered, and rejuvenation therapies are decades away even if billions of dollars were poured into their research tomorrow. Even when they are necessary to treat an illness or injury, many commonly used prescription medicines can result in severe side effects, implying that they should be used with extreme caution and awareness of the risks, even when they are prescribed. The time has not yet arrived for individual self-medication with the aim of life extension. As the details of the human body’s metabolism and its effects on senescence are far from fully understood, there are no guarantees that introducing any particular substance into the immensely complex machinery of the human organism will not do more harm than good. Most people will be much safer by adopting the heuristic of not fixing that, which is not obviously broken, while avoiding harmful habits, obtaining regular medical checkups, and following the advice of evidence-based medical practitioners.

Someday, hopefully in our lifetimes, medical science might advance to the point where it might be possible to inexpensively develop a deeply personalized supplementation regimen for each individual – a more compact, precise, and targeted version of what Ray Kurzweil does today at the cost of immense time and effort. Until then, Aristotle’s golden mean is still the best heuristic to enable most of us to survive for as long as possible, which will hopefully be long enough for improvements in human knowledge and health-care delivery to usher in the era of longevity escape velocity.