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Trump and Sanders Are Both Conservatives – Article by Steven Horwitz

Trump and Sanders Are Both Conservatives – Article by Steven Horwitz

The New Renaissance HatSteven Horwitz
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Shared Visions of Fear, Force, and Collectivism

Those of us who reject the conventional left-right political spectrum often see things that those working within it cannot. For example, in “Why the Candidates Keep Giving Us Reasons to Use the ‘F’ Word” (Freeman, Winter 2015), I argue that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, seen by many as occupying opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, both embrace the thinking of economic nationalism, if not fascism.

They also share a different political tradition. It may seem to contradict their shared fascist pedigree, but Trump and Sanders are both, in a meaningful sense, conservatives.

Trump, of course, has been lambasted by many self-described conservatives precisely because they believe he is not a conservative. And Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist,” hardly fits our usual conception of a conservative. What exactly am I arguing, then?

They are both conservatives from the perspective of classical liberalism. More specifically, they are conservatives in the sense that F.A. Hayek used the term in 1960 when he wrote the postscript to The Constitution of Liberty titled “Why I Am Not a Conservative.” There he said of conservatives,

They typically lack the courage to welcome the same undesigned change from which new tools of human endeavors will emerge.… This fear of trusting uncontrolled social forces is closely related to two other characteristics of conservatism: its fondness for authority and its lack of understanding of economic forces.… The conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules.

That description would seem to apply to both Trump and Sanders. They share a fear of uncontrolled and undesigned change, especially in the economy. This is most obvious in Trump’s bluster about how America never “wins” and his desire to raise tariffs on Chinese imports and close the flow of immigrants, especially from Mexico. Economic globalization is a terrific example of uncontrolled change, and using foreign workers and producers as scapegoats for that change — especially when those changes have largely benefited most Americans — is a good example of this fear of the uncontrolled.

Those policies also show the much-discussed economic ignorance of Trump and his supporters, as shutting off trade and migration would impoverish the very people Trump claims to care about — those who are, in fact, supporting him. International trade and the free migration of labor drive down costs and leave US consumers with more money in their pockets with which to buy new and different goods. They also improve living standards for our trade partners, but Trump and his followers wrongly perceive their gains as necessitating American losses.

The same concerns are echoed in Sanders’s criticisms of free trade and in his claim that immigration is undermining good jobs for the native-born. Trump’s rhetoric might be more about how the US needs to “beat” the Chinese, and Sanders might focus more on the effects on working class Americans, especially union workers, but both fear the uncontrolled change of globalized markets, seeing commerce as a zero-sum game. (See “Why Trump and Sanders See Losers Everywhere,” FEE.org, January 20, 2016.)

For Sanders, fear of change also bubbles up in his criticisms of Uber — even though he uses the service all the time. Part of Hayek’s description was the fear of change producing “new tools of human endeavor.” The new economy emerging from the reduction of transaction costs will continue to threaten labor unions and the old economic understanding of employment and the firm. Sanders’s view of the economy is very much a conservative one as he tries to save the institutions of an economy that no longer exists because it no longer best serves human wants.

In addition, both Trump and Sanders are more than willing to use coercion and arbitrary power to attempt to resist that change. These similarities manifest in different ways, as Trump sees himself as the CEO of America, bossing people and moving resources around as if it were one of his own (frequently bankrupt) companies. CEOs are not bound by constitutional constraints and are used to issuing orders to all who they oversee. This is clearly Trump’s perspective, and many of his followers apparently see him as Hayek’s “decent man” who should not be too constrained by rules.

The same is true of Sanders, though he and his supporters would deny it. One need only consider his more extreme taxation proposals as well as the trillions in new spending he would authorize to see that he will also not be bound by constraints and will happily use coercion to achieve his ends. This is also clear in his policies on trade and immigration, which, like Trump’s, would require a large and intrusive bureaucracy to enforce. As we already know from current immigration restrictions, such bureaucracies are nothing if not arbitrary and coercive. Both Trump and Sanders believe that with the right people in charge, there’s no need for rule-based constraints on political power.

Hayek also said of conservatives that they are characterized by a

hostility to internationalism and [a] proneness to a strident nationalism.… [It is] this nationalistic bias which frequently provides the bridge from conservatism to collectivism: to think in terms of “our” industry or resource is only a short step away from demanding that these national assets be directed in the national interest.

As noted, Sanders and Trump share exactly this hostility and proneness. And despite being seen as political opposites, their distinct views converge in the idea that resources are “ours” as a nation and that it is the president’s job (and the state’s more generally) to direct them in the national interest. For Trump, that interest is “making America great again” and making sure we “beat” the Chinese. For Sanders, that interest is the attempt to protect “the working class” against the predation of two different enemies: the 1 percent and foreign firms and workers, all of whom are destroying our industries and human resources.

All of this fear of uncontrolled change and economic nationalism is in sharp contrast with the position of what Hayek calls “liberalism” or what we might call “classical liberalism” or “libertarianism.” In that same essay, Hayek said of classical liberalism, “The liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead.”

This is why classical liberalism rejects the idea that the path toward progress entails electing the right people (the “decent men”) and the cult of personality that frequently accompanies that idea, as we’ve seen with Trump and Sanders. Classical liberalism understands how, under the right rules and institutions, progress for all is the unintended outcome of allowing each to pursue their own values and ends with an equal respect for others to do the same, regardless of which side of an artificial political boundary they reside on.

If we want to live in peace, prosperity, and cooperation, we need to recognize that progress is a product of unpredictable, uncontrolled, and uncontrollable change.

Trump and Sanders can stand on their porches telling us to get off their lawn, but we’re going to do it in an Uber imported from Asia and driven by a nonunionized immigrant, because we classical liberals welcome the change they fear.

Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Now If Someone Could Just Invent Actual Reality Goggles – Article by Bradley Doucet

Now If Someone Could Just Invent Actual Reality Goggles – Article by Bradley Doucet

The New Renaissance HatBradley Doucet
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It seems like virtual reality goggles are the hottest tech gadget at the moment. I mean, they’ve been around for a while, but I guess they’re really coming into their own. But allow me to put on my grumpy-old-man hat for a second and say that what the world could really use in 2016 and beyond are some actual reality goggles. You know, so that wearers could see reality as it actually is, instead of as they imagine or wish it to be.

The value of such a tool would be incalculable. Of course, if you were wearing a pair and looking at another pair, then you would instantly know the true value of this invention, measured in dollars, or ounces of gold if you prefer, or even (leaving out the middleman altogether) in utils of happiness. But for now, I think we can safely assume that it would be worth a lot.

For instance, say you were reading an opinion piece arguing that the minimum wage should be bumped up to $15 an hour. A little display in the upper right corner of your actual reality goggles might pop up, with a tiny graph illustrating how, as long as they are allowed to fluctuate freely, prices are determined by supply and demand. Raise the price of labour artificially with a legislated price floor, though, and the amount supplied will become greater than the amount demanded. In other words, while some workers will benefit from higher wages, others will become unemployed. This illustration might be followed by suggestions of better ways to help the less fortunate.

Or say you were watching a certain Nobel Peace Prize winner condemn the politics of fear in his State of the Union address. Your goggles might remind you that politicians of all stripes use fear to manipulate you, whether it’s fear of immigrants or fear of markets, fear of recreational drugs or fear of guns (unless held by police, soldiers, or politicians’ bodyguards). They might give you a quick lesson on how realistic different fears are, how statistically likely or unlikely they are to come true, and whether you might be exaggerating the dangers posed by immigrants, markets, drugs, or guns, while underplaying their potential benefits.

Or again, imagine that you’re wearing these goggles while seeing an ad for a really big lottery. Your goggles might point out to you that your chances of winning are infinitesimal, that you’re more likely to get hit by a bus or a lightning bolt, and that a $10-million jackpot and a $1.6-billion jackpot would be almost identically life-changing. And if they caught you nodding your head when you saw that Internet meme proposing that $1.6 billion was enough to wipe out poverty in a nation of 300 million, it would administer a mild electrical shock to your temples and send you back to primary school.

Of course, the real question is whether anyone would want to buy such a useful gadget. Do we want to see the world as it really is, or are we content to misperceive it? Are we happier believing that we are already wise and well-intentioned, or do we want to learn what kinds of actions would actually be of benefit to ourselves, our loved ones, and the wider world? As I don’t have a pair of actual reality goggles on hand to tell me the answer, your guess is as good as mine.

Bradley Doucet is a writer living in Montreal. He has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also is QL’s English Editor.

No, “Big Data” Can’t Predict the Future – Article by Per Bylund

No, “Big Data” Can’t Predict the Future – Article by Per Bylund

The New Renaissance HatPer Bylund
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With Google’s dominance in the online search engine market we entered the Age of Free. Indeed, services offered online are nowadays expected to be offered at no cost. Which, of course, does not mean that there is no cost to it, only that the consumer doesn’t pay it. Early attempts financed the services with ads, but we soon saw a move toward making the consumer the product. Today, free and unfree services alike compete for “users” and then make money off the data they collect.

Data has always been used, but what’s new for our time is the very low (or even zero) marginal cost for collecting and analyzing huge amounts of data. The concept of “Big Data” is taking over and is predicted to be “the future” of business.

There’s a problem here, and it is the over-reliance on the Law of Large Numbers in social forecasting. Statistical probabilities for events may mathematically converge to the mean, but is it applicable in the real world? The answer is most definitely yes in the natural sciences. Repeated controlled experiments will weed out erroneous explanations or causes to phenomena, at least assuming we’re good enough at separating and controlling those causes.

What about the social sciences? In this age of scientism, as Hayek called it, we’re told “Big Data” will completely transform production, logistics, and sales. The reason for this is that vendors can better target customers and even foresee what they might want next. Amazon.com does this on their web site in crude form, where they make suggestions based on your purchase history and what others with similar purchase histories have searched for. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

There is some regularity to our interests and behavior. All of us are, after all, human beings — and we’re formed in certain cultures. So one American with interests x, y, and z may have other interests similar to another American who also has an interest in x, y, and z.

Human Behavior Is Unpredictable
But similarity is not the same thing as prediction. Amazon.com’s suggestions or the highly annoying ads following you around web sites are useful methods for sellers because they can somewhat accurately identify what not to offer. Exclusion of very low-probability interests increases the probability for suggesting something that the person behind the eyeballs focusing on the computer screen may be interested in.

To use as prediction, however, exclusion of almost-zero probability events is far from sufficient. Indeed, prediction requires that we are able to accurately exclude all but one or a couple highly probable outcomes. And we have to be able to rely on that these predictions turn out to be true. Otherwise we’re just playing games, and so we’re making guesses. Sure, they’re educated guesses (because we’ve excluded the impossible and almost-impossible), but they’re still games and guesses.

Where Big Data Fails
Speaking of guesses, Microsoft’s Bing search engine, which powers the Windows digital assistant Cortana among other things, has produced a prediction engine with the purpose of predicting sports and other results. They rely on very advanced algorithms and huge amounts of collected data.

Amazingly, they did very well initially and predicted the outcomes of the World Cup perfectly. So maybe we can use Big Data to get a glimpse of the future?

No, not so. The Bing teams are learning a lesson only Austrians and, more specifically, Misesian praxeologists, seem to be alone in grasping: that there are no constants in human action, and therefore that predictions of social phenomena are impossible. Pattern predictions, as Hayek called them, may not be impossible, but predictions of exact magnitudes are. For instance, we can rely on economic law (such as “demand curves slope downward”) to estimate an outcome such as “the price will be lower than it otherwise would have been,” but we can’t say exactly what that price will be.

When it comes to sports, reality shows and other competitions between individuals or teams, the story is exactly the same. The team with a better track record doesn’t always win. Why? They have objectively performed better than the other team, perhaps exclusively so, but this doesn’t say anything about the future. We’re not here referring to the philosophical doubt as in “will the sun shine tomorrow?” (maybe something changes completely the sun’s ability to shine during the night).

The Social Sciences Are Different
In the social sciences we’re dealing with complex phenomena. Action and, especially, its outcome is the result of a complex system of social interaction, psychology, and much more. Are the players in both teams as motivated and focused as they were before? Did anything in their personal lives affect their mindsets or psyches? How do the players within their teams and players in other teams react on each other before and during the game? A team with a poor track record can upset a team with an objectively better track record; this happens all the time. Sometimes for the sole reason that the better team underestimates the worse team, or because the underdog feels no pressure to perform and therefore plays less defensively.

Bing’s prediction engine struggles with this, just as we would predict. As Windows Central reported recently, the prediction engine had its “worst week yet” picking only four of fourteen winners in the NFL. Overall, its track record was approximately two-thirds right and one-third wrong (95–53). It’s definitely better than tossing a coin, but pretty far from actually predicting the results.

In other words, if you’re placing bets you may want to use the Bing prediction engine. That is, unless you have the type of tacit, implicit understanding of what’s going on that the engine is missing. Maybe you can beat it, or maybe not. In either case, you cannot count on coming out a victor each and every time.

The reason for this is that the outcome simply cannot be predicted perfectly — or even close to it. Even the players themselves cannot predict who’ll win a game, but they may have inside information about whether their own team seems motivated and focused. It is not a perfect method, however, and it certainly cannot be scientific.

Even with Big Data there’s no predicting of social events — there’s only guessing. Yes, guessing with access to huge amounts of data is easier, at least if the data is reliable and relevant. But a good guess is not the same thing as a prediction; it is still a guess, and it can be wrong. Winning every time requires luck.

Per L. Bylund, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Records-Johnston Professor of Free Enterprise in the School of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University. Visit his website at PerBylund.com.

This article was originally published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided full credit is given.

Spreading the Word That Death is Wrong – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Spreading the Word That Death is Wrong – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
Gennady Stolyarov II
March 29, 2014
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Who could have thought a month ago that an illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension would become a fiercely, passionately discussed phenomenon not just in transhumanist and futurist circles, but on mainstream publications and forums? And yet that is exactly what has happened to Death is Wrong – certainly the most influential and provocative of all of my endeavors to date. I am thrilled that it is precisely my pursuit of this most fundamental and precious goal – preservation of the life of every innocent individual – that has achieved greater public exposure, controversy included, than anything else I have ever done.

Our Indiegogo fundraiser to spread 1000 copies of Death is Wrong to children, free of charge, is gaining momentum and has exceeded 50% of our $5000 goal. (Funds pledged stood at $2,690, or 53.8% of the goal, as of March 30, 2014.) The generosity of our 60 donors so far has been tremendously encouraging and inspiring to me. Anything can still happen until the April 23 deadline, and spreading the word about this effort has been my top priority for my discretionary time. The distribution effort has also been jump-started, with 77 books sent out to longevity activists already. The books will have an international reach; 50 of them have been sent to the United Kingdom and 5 to Poland, while the remaining 22 were sent to activists in the United States. The  US and UK shipments have arrived already, while the shipment to Poland is en route. The funds that were pledged via PayPal presently allow for immediate shipment of at least 107 additional books to those who seek to distribute them. I continue to post regular updates regarding the fundraiser’s resources and recent developments on the Indiegogo Updates page as well as on The Rational Argumentator.

The instructions to request copies of Death is Wrong for distribution to children remain the same:

  • Send an e-mail to gennadystolyarovii@gmail.com.
  • Provide your name, your mailing address, a statement of your support for indefinite life extension, and a brief description of your plan to spread the book to children in your local area. Remember that all copies received pursuant to this initiative would need to be offered to children free of charge (as gifts or reading opportunities) and may not be resold.
  • Provide the number of copies of Death is Wrong that you are requesting.
  • Preferably, provide an indication that you would be willing to send photographs of the books that have been delivered to you as well as events where you will be distributing the books.

I cannot express enough gratitude to the many people who have been diligently spreading the word about Death is Wrong and the fundraiser, and who have contributed their time and talents pro bono to help make this endeavor a success. One such individual is Peter Caramico, a filmmaker and advocate of life extension and cryonics, who has, in affiliation with LongeCity, developed a beautiful outreach video for Death is Wrong. The video is narrated by me and my wife and illustrator Wendy Stolyarov and utilizes some of the art from the book, along with additional inspiring images. You can see a preliminary version here on Peter’s Cryonics Culture video channel. I hope to spread this video soon to galvanize support for the book and its message – but it is, in its own right, a work of great potential impact for the ideas of life extension.

March 2014 has been a month of whirlwind publicity for Death is Wrong. The month began with an appearance by Wendy and me at the Transhuman Visions 2.0 Conference in Piedmont, CA, on March 1. This was an excellent opportunity to present the book to a future-oriented audience and to engage in many one-on-one conversations afterward. You can see a video of our presentation here and download the presentation slides in PDF and PowerPoint formats.

Numerous stories on Death is Wrong have appeared in high-profile online publications. I am most pleased with the articles whose authors performed thorough research on the book and contacted me directly with thoughtful questions. Leanne Butkovic of Fast Company and Rebecca Hiscott of Mashable published fair and accurate stories. I was also pleased to be interviewed on March 22 by Richard (RJ) Eskow on his program The Zero Hour. The 9.5-minute discussion included a brief introduction to the book, recent reactions to it, the morality of fighting death, how defeating senescence might motivate people to more resolutely combat and avert other perils and risks, and why I aim to spread the ideas of indefinite life extension to children. Mr. Eskow offers on The Zero Hour a thoughtful and intelligent forum for the serious consideration of both contemporary and emerging issues, including transformative future technologies and their potential societal impacts. He presented me with challenging yet straightforward questions – ones I was pleased to address and to provide my perspectives on, as these questions and challenges play an important role in the public discussion that has emerged regarding Death is Wrong.

On March 29, I was interviewed by Stephen Euin Cobb for his excellent podcast The Future and You. Our extensive discussion will be developed into two forthcoming episodes of The Future and You, scheduled to be posted on April 2 and April 9. I have scheduled additional media engagements and, in the meantime, maintain steady correspondence with many who are making the success of Death is Wrong possible. Expect more great content and great publicity for the life-extension message soon.

On March 29, I was interviewed by Stephen Euin Cobb for his excellent podcast The Future and You. Our extensive and multifaceted discussion will be developed into two forthcoming episodes of The Future and You, scheduled to be posted on April 2 and April 9. I have scheduled additional media engagements and, in the meantime, maintain steady correspondence with many who are making the success of Death is Wrong possible. Expect more great content and great publicity for the life-extension message soon.

Among publications that did not contact me, Death is Wrong was also mentioned by James Moore on the Huffington Post in his poignant article “Transhumanism and All My Mortal Friends”. Extensive discussion – both in support of and in opposition to the book – was fueled by articles and posts on Motherboard (including a German version), Disinformation, and Slashdot. Two articles in Italian – a critique by Pietro Minto on Il Foglio and a rebuttal by the author of the transhumanist Estropico blog – also discussed Death is Wrong.  A wonderful review of Death is Wrong also appeared on the blog Me and My Kindle. Some of the outlets that covered the book missed various details (e.g., my age or the fact that it was my mother – not my grandfather – who initially informed me about death), but I am pleased that the general message – the feasibility and desirability of indefinite life extension – is being spread and discussed, as that, more than anything else, was my goal in writing Death is Wrong.

Giulio Prisco wrote in his excellent review of Death is Wrong and its impact, “Have the Stolyarovs found the way to make transhumanist ideas go viral? Perhaps yes. Provocative strong messages get heard, and teaching children that death will be cured is very provocative in today’s dull, defeatist, politically correct cultural climate.” I agree with this assessment. Death, in fact, is obviously wrong; it is the Dragon-Tyrant in the room – but millennia of ingrained cultural acceptance and rationalization have obscured this truth in the minds of most. The direct, straightforward denunciation of death is needed to jolt people’s minds toward recalling the raw travesty of death, without the soothing embellishments that lead many to miss the core truth: death is wrong! In the mind of a child, reacting immediately to the grim prospect of the future demise of every human currently alive, the probability that this truth will remain unclouded is greater, as long as adequate support is provided for the desire to resist and fight death.

Even one book, one expression of the message that combating death through the pursuit of indefinite life extension is both feasible and desirable, can make all the difference for a young mind. Contrary to the assertions of some, I seek not to indoctrinate children, but to achieve the exact opposite – to inoculate children against indoctrination from pro-death arguments by showing them that those are not the only arguments around. I have never been one for suppressing discussion or disinclining others from considering a position. As a staunch supporter of free speech, open dialogue, and even the most vigorous public debates, I see the unfettered expression of every viewpoint – be it true or false, profound or vapid – as a necessary aspect of the free market of ideas. Free discussion drives forward an iterative approach toward greater understanding of reality and a better implementation of that understanding for the improvement of human well-being. Even in engaging the falsest ideas, one can improve one’s knowledge of truth and one’s ability to distinguish truth from falsehood. Yet it is impossible to be alive today and to avoid encountering arguments, both religious and secular, commonly presented in favor of mortality. The risk to children is the opposite: that they will not encounter any arguments other than those accepting death as “normal” or “natural” or “part of life”. If we want children to think critically about this literally most vital of issues, we cannot be content with them being exposed to one side – the side of death acceptance – only.

Death is Wrong is a conduit for children toward life-extension science, transhumanist philosophy, and thinking about the world-changing effects of emerging technologies more generally. For the book to have the greatest impact on a young mind, it should be used as a means to further exploration – hence its Appendix and list of links at the end. Perhaps 15 or 20 years in the future, a child who reads this book this year will remember it as one of the formative moments in his or her intellectual growth. Perhaps a young person’s decision to study and pursue advances in biology, regenerative medicine, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, cryonics, or aeronautical engineering will have Death is Wrong as one of its early catalysts. Perhaps a prolific artist, author, or philosopher will grow up and communicate the message of life extension in powerful, inspiring ways as a result of the jolt of inspiration contained in Death is Wrong.  

Did I expect that the book would cause considerable controversy? Of course. Death is Wrong challenges one of the most ingrained mindsets that has prevailed in virtually every tradition, and even dominates many contemporary secular points of view. I consider the acceptance of death and the attempts to justify it to be a cultural Stockholm syndrome; many people seek to normalize death in the abstract because they fear that a condemnation of this Dragon-Tyrant would drive them to despair about their perceived predicament of inevitable mortality.  So many espouse rationalizations for death, even as they resist death in practice day to day in working to improve their lives materially, to avoid and minimize risks, and to employ technology for the benefit of their health and for incremental life extension. Most people accept modern medical treatments such as heart surgery; most people accept that it is desirable to live into one’s eighties and nineties – but why do they not accept the prospect of regenerative medicine and of routinely living beyond 100, 120, 500, 1000, 1,000,000 years? It is this irrational disconnect between incremental acceptance of life extension and its rejection as a concept that I seek to expose and remedy. It can be expected that some people will not appreciate their most closely held assumptions and premises being disputed in a direct, unapologetic manner.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

Death is Wrong is a paradigm-shifting book in part because it poses hitherto unexpected challenges to both the mainstream “left” and the mainstream “right” (a good sign, in my view, that I have created something original and genuinely progressive, life-affirming, and liberating). The highest-profile negative review of the book was written by Joelle Renstrom of Slate – who, to her credit, did read the book, but reiterated many commonplace fallacies regarding indefinite longevity and its impact. Mark Shrayber of Jezebel echoed some of Renstrom’s criticisms but was more sympathetic and even-handed in his tone. In the greatest irony and most astounding self-contradiction I have yet encountered regarding the American “pro-life” movement, Judie Brown of the misnamed “American Life League” called my book – a book, recall, that proclaims death to be wrong and life to be right! – a “grave concern”. Why? Because I refuse to die on the presumptive timetable ordained by “the God of our creation” as the American Life League conceives of him. I think this, more than anything, shows the true colors of the “pro-life” label as it is used by certain religious fundamentalists in the United States. They are not for life; they are for death on their deity’s terms. When someone actually speaks in favor of extending and preserving life through science and technology – they of course do not support that, even though most of them resort to it regularly in practice through the use of modern medicine. Interestingly enough, Judie Brown lambasts Joelle Renstrom – my critic on Slate – as often as she warns her readers about me,  Death is Wrong, and transhumanism. While the death-acceptance strains of both the “left” and the “right” continue to clash with one another – largely over hot-button minutiae whose discussion will be rendered obsolete by future technological progress – let us hope that the field of genuine cultural influence will become increasingly open to us life-extension advocates.

While my intention here is to chronicle the responses to Death is Wrong, rather than to rebut my critics (which Eric Schulke has already done in part through his response to Renstrom’s review), I would like to address a few common misunderstandings, as they have reappeared in one article after another. First, it is true that I fear death; I would be engaging in ludicrous bravado if I denied it. What sensible person who values his life would not fear its end and use that fear to motivate even some modicum of risk aversion? In their excellent article, Eric Schulke and Wioletta Karkucinska explain that fear of death is, indeed, nothing to be ashamed of. But is my life “ruled” by fear of death, as Joelle Renstrom suggests? Was fear of death my motivation for writing Death is Wrong? Absolutely not, and I had said as much to Fast Company.  However, because my full response was not printed, I will present it here. I said that fear only exists in the face of the possibility of losing something one values. The reason I wrote this book is not primarily that I fear death, but rather that I love life and wish for all innocent humans to have the opportunity to live indefinitely. But I also see no shame in fearing the loss of what one loves. One does not fear the loss of that, to which one is indifferent. When Meghan Neal of Motherboard wrote, on the basis of the Fast Company article, that I fear death (a true statement), she nonetheless did not reflect my more nuanced position that love of life – not fear of death – is the primary motivation for those who seek to live indefinitely longer, myself included.

Still, prevailing cultural aversions to fear per se are just as irrational as prevailing cultural aversions to anger, sadness, disgust, and other so-called “negative” emotions per se. These emotions have their places in the right contexts – as justified responses to sometimes grossly sub-optimal and unjust aspects of reality, as motivators for us to ameliorate real, urgent, pressing problems in the world.  No emotion is wrong in itself; events in the real world (like death!) can be wrong, as can a mismatch between an emotion and the reality faced by an individual experiencing it. We should love life and fear death; we should not love death or fear life.

Second, why did I not address the “double-edged sword” of technology, as Renstrom alleges? I think that the potential of technology to be used for ill is expressed so often that it is a truism. Yes, some technologies can be used to kill or otherwise harm people, deliberately or accidentally. Yes, it is important to use technologies prudently and ethically, with considerations for the likely effects of a particular application. But this is like saying, “Yes, you can choke if you eat food. You should chew and ingest carefully.” But just as the possibility of choking is not an argument against food, neither is the possibility of technological misuse an argument against technological progress, or even against unfettered progress. The developers of new technologies themselves are among the most conscious and thoughtful about possible risks. The users of new technologies, too, have the moral responsibility and the rational incentive to use their judgment to minimize harms to themselves and others. The coercive imposition of harm by some against others – irrespective of the level of technology used – should be deterred and penalized by law and by public opinion. Furthermore, the discussions of various emerging risks in academic and policy circles has been so extensive and thorough that we are not at risk of understating the risks. We are at risk of the exact opposite: understanding the benefits of radical technological progress and thereby foregoing the achievements that are or shortly will be within our technical grasp. As I previously expressed, what I fear most is not runaway technology endangering humankind, but rather a drawn-out stagnation because the majority of people and the institutions they control are overly fearful of innovation. There are enough diverse voices cautioning us; I do not need to be another. Instead, I would be a voice encouraging humans to progress, to improve their lives, and to mitigate the already existing risks we face every day because we humans are insufficiently advanced, both in our technologies and – for most of us – in our attitudes toward them. And, of course, what bigger risk is there than that of each of our eventual demises? Are we to ignore this very real and ubiquitous Dragon-Tyrant before us, only to speculate about dystopian futures which are remote in probability at most?

Some – mostly those who did not read the book – allege that I advocate for an unrealistic indestructibility, yet Death is Wrong focuses primarily on life extension through the reversal of senescence. It is true that this would not remove all sources of risk, and accidents and disasters would remain possible. I am not offering or projecting a panacea. Rather, I make an observation of a far more proximate nature – that radically greater longevity from any causes would dramatically affect humans’ attitudes toward other risks and present a considerable incentive to develop technologies and societal solutions to reduce the probability of harm from those sources as well. I elaborate upon this tendency – one that is already well underway – in my article “Life Extension and Risk Aversion”. I do see the possibility for some people not to die at all due to the continuation of this risk reduction through technological and societal progress. This technological immortality is distinctly different in kind from the mythical immortality of gods and spirits.  Every being, now and in the future, remains subject to natural laws; in Francis Bacon’s words “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” To keep living without bound, one must learn how to harness the natural laws to make it so – and one must continually maintain the conditions that enable such harnessing to occur.

Finally, do I intend for children to be paralyzed by worry about death? Quite the opposite! I want them to grow up motivated to fight it and to win new territory for life. Irrespective of whether any given individual will overcome death or achieve indefinite life, the goal remains a worthwhile one. One of Joelle Renstrom’s most perplexing misunderstandings about Death is Wrong was that children might be led to think that those who died were somehow wrong. Why would I blame the innocent victims of death? It is death that is wrong, not they. Furthermore, death is still wrong, even for those who do not manage to escape it. As Dr. Bill Andrews of Sierra Sciences puts it, we should “cure aging or die trying”! It is better to put up a good fight and lose, than to resign oneself to defeat without trying. It is better to, in Dylan Thomas’s words, “rage, rage against the dying of the light”, than to delude oneself by considering the dying to be good in some illusory “greater” sense.  Children, in the everyday course of learning about reality, cannot avoid seeing the massive cruelty, suffering, and barbarism still present in the world. Compared to the genuine travesties committed by Nazi Germany – justifiably considered an important part of history for children to learn about – is not the message that death can be combated and possibly overcome a message of hope – an inspiration to action rather than a call to despair? I certainly think so, and I will proclaim this message proudly.

Now is the time for massive cultural change – catalyzed by this discussion about the fight against death, a discussion that prevailing mindsets have avoided for far too long. Let there be controversy and debate, as long as enough people come to see the need to make a decisive push for scientific and technological progress now, in our lifetimes, while we still have a fighting chance as individuals. A colossally better future – be it one of indefinite longevity, radical abundance, and/or the technological Singularity – will not come about automatically. It requires people to bring it about through action and advocacy. It requires us, and it requires today’s children as well.

“Death is Wrong” Discussed on Mashable and Slashdot – Post by G. Stolyarov II

“Death is Wrong” Discussed on Mashable and Slashdot – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
March 16, 2014
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I was pleased to see that Mashable’s Rebecca Hiscott wrote a fair, thoroughly researched, and factually accurate piece on Death is Wrong. Ms. Hiscott interviewed me on March 13, 2014, and incorporated my remarks in her new article, “Children’s Book Teaches Kids ‘Death is Wrong’”. I am hopeful that this development will aid in spreading the book’s reach and impact. The book was also listed on Slashdot, where a brief but fair and factual description has triggered quite an intense discussion, with both supportive and contrary arguments.

I am also pleased that the Amazon ranking for Death is Wrong has increased to unprecedented levels.

The book is now ranked #6 in the Kindle store in both Children’s eBooks and Children’s Nonfiction in the category of “Science, Nature & How It Works”, as well as #88 overall in the category of all Children’s Books on Science, Nature & How It Works. Could Death is Wrong become a bestseller? If so, its long-term impact on the culture could be just what I aspired toward – educating the next generation of life-extension researchers and activists, so as to accelerate the arrival of indefinite longevity for us all.

Amazon Kindle Store Ranking on March 16, 2014
Amazon Kindle Store Ranking for Death is Wrong – March 16, 2014

There remains time to donate to the Indiegogo fundraiser to spread Death is Wrong to 1000 children, so as to extend its impact even further.

Slate is Wrong about “Death is Wrong” – Article by Eric Schulke

Slate is Wrong about “Death is Wrong” – Article by Eric Schulke

The New Renaissance Hat
Eric Schulke
March 16, 2014
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There is an article at Slate that talks about the children’s book Death is Wrong and the fundraiser to distribute 1,000 copies of it to children.

The article’s author, Joelle Renstrom, writes,

“In late February, Stolyarov and the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 to distribute 1,000 free copies to kids. The campaign ends on April 23, and so far the funds fall well short of the goal.”

The goal is 33% funded after 33% of the days. That seems right on track to me. I don’t know why Slate would feel the need to exaggerate that point to make it seem like our funding progress was not favorable to us.

“But there’s a difference between curing grave diseases, which would increase our lifespans, and ‘solving’ death. Stolyarov sells kids an updated myth of pharaohs, the fountain of youth, and Gilgamesh cloaked in the singularity, the theorized point at which technology and superior artificial intelligence fundamentally alter life. He implies that death is the Problem and that solving it will ensure smooth sailing, which is irresponsible at best and disastrous at worst.”

To imply that death isn’t the problem, that you can go through deaths of people you know and then yourself, and that it is not worth smoothing out those parts of the seas of life, and to call it irresponsible and possibly disastrous to do so, is unfounded, self-back-patting – assertive flippancy at its finest. No offense. I’m sure Ms. Renstrom has plenty of redeeming qualities, but that statement is not one of them.

Sure, we fight to keep death at bay indefinitely, but we will be happy if the world’s collective efforts help lead to 500-year lifespans, or 200-year lifespans, or indefinite life spans with 77% of people dying by accident within the first 800 years anyways, etc. We support a variety of potential pathways that could bring about more good futures for more people. We support anti-aging research initiatives like SENS and many others. The critics at Slate think they’re clever for associating what we aim for with the negative image of immortality as portrayed by book and film sensationalists that make up immorality-themed stories. In the movies, it is the unspoken word that Zombies are only supposed to move slowly, but that is irrelevant to life and death causes, too.

Having a trendy, knee-jerk, cynical, superficial response to this life-and-death topic is not acceptable. Think this through more. It is, “life is good; make it work”, not, “life could be bad; justify why it’s good before making it work”.

“Stolyarov rails against acceptance, even when unaccompanied by belief in the afterlife; he rejects the Buddhist position of experiencing pain caused by death while knowing death has released a loved one from suffering. Instead, he targets an audience that could conceivably solve death before he has to stare it down, which is neither braver nor better.”

He is working on one of the most intellectually forward moving projects of our times, and he does it in a world where primary and secondary schools don’t put a lot of critical-thinking coursework into their curricula, and where it shows. It’s a world where 85% of the people claim that they know an invisible pal in the clouds can be telepathically begged to bend the laws of physics for them. Of course what he is doing is great and brave; he stands up in the face of and helps the as-of-yet ungrateful, often antagonistic masses.

“Death Is Wrong makes immortality seem within reach, describing doubling a roundworm’s life via genetic mutation and the cell-rejuvenating Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence proposed by bio-gerontologist and anti-aging crusader Aubrey de Grey.”

The tools to do it are here now. It is within reach. For example, diseases that are like the forms of damage that accumulate in and around the cells of our bodies and that cause us to age to death, have already been worked on with success in laboratories around the world. Also, some gene recombination has already stopped some diseases. We know how to work on this kind of stuff. We just have to determine to get it done now. So let’s rally people to this cause rather than directing them away from it.

“Representing a legitimate problem as a solution invites disaster, especially if it means ignoring issues such as overpopulation.”

Population is on a decline in many industrialized countries when you subtract immigration. So there is one of many solutions to a potential overpopulation crisis.

I often have to wonder why life-extensionists have to be the bearers of facts like these to people who use these concepts to try to discredit projects and organizations of life-and-death significance. It’s one thing to work to discredit people; it’s another thing to do it without having your facts straight, and it’s yet another messed-up thing altogether to do all that, but not even inquiringly or half-jestingly, but assertively.

What about the potential underpopulation crisis?

But it doesn’t even matter in this context; death comes first. If you’ve got two problems, and impending death of you and people you know is one of them, then you work on the death as the top priority. Death is definitely not the hands-down, go-to solution when you think about a may-be/could-be population challenge of an unknown form. It’s way down at the bottom of that list, if it’s even on there at all. In the meantime, many groups and organizations continue to work on forecasting for and planning for scenarios like those. It’s a nearly moot alarmist point to say that transhumanists and supporters of indefinite life extension can’t and don’t think of the big picture of things. I like Joelle Renstrom’s concern for it, though, and I encourage her to get involved with one of those organizations, too, and help plan ahead.

“The transhumanist declaration acknowledges technology’s double-edges: “humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. … Although all progress is change, not all change is progress.” This consideration is missing from the book. Part of preparing kids for a technological future is teaching them that not all technology is necessary or beneficial, and that we can make technological mistakes.  Putting all our eggs in the “technology will fix everything” basket is even more dangerous than putting them all in the “death is wrong” basket. What if technology doesn’t cure death? What if it, or the rush to develop it, actually causes death?”

What if, in our rush to quadruple-check every “what if”, we forgot to move forward toward the cures, and we all died needlessly? People like me, Gennady Stolyarov, and many others work with projects that help advance our understanding in those regards, too. Why would we even be accused of neglecting those considerations? We don’t support pioneering of new ground by putting on blindfolds and running at full speed through the jungle swinging a machete. Hey wait, I think I just described a straw-man that the author of this article created. I’m calling “straw man” on that point.

The presentations at the conferences we support, the authors of the books we help promote, the organizations we choose to associate with — they talk about, monitor, work with, and report on risks, ethics, sustainability, and related matters all of the time. We or people that we know, work with places like Longecity, SENS Foundation, Methuselah Foundation, Fight Aging, Campaign Against Aging, Coalition to Extend Life, Longevity Alliance, Maximum Life Foundation, Humanity+, Lifeboat Foundation, IEET, Singularity Network, Foresight Institute, Cryonics Network, and many others.

“Stolyarov might argue he’s advocating adaptation, and thus survival, but curing death would constitute artificial selection—a drastic and deliberate change in our own evolution. Inherent in that argument is a troubling notion of human exceptionalism—that we shouldn’t have to play by evolution’s rules. Stolyarov suggests we select ourselves (those who can afford it, anyway), rather than leave it to nature.”

Artificial is a kind of natural. It is natural for humans to use their tools and abilities to do what they can do with them. Human beings are exceptional. The universe didn’t (seemingly) sit empty for millions of years, with dust balls whistling in the wind, comets and cosmic gas flying by, no sentience or record of such, and then have the miraculous occurrence of sentience through human form spring up from that dust—just so that this intellectual power-tool in a land of endless wonder, potential, and mystery, could decide itself to be less significant than the ducks and the trees and allow itself to disassemble from its miraculous, universe-control-potential form, back into inanimate dust and vapor trails. It is important to use our human opportunity to leverage resources to uncover as many of the mysteries of the big picture of existence as possible.

“Kids could grow up not just afraid of death, but also afraid of failing to fix it. Stolyarov makes death a powerful nemesis that could rule their lives—just as it’s ruled his.”

What an insulting and baseless speculation to assert. If you’re going to insult somebody, at least add enough fallacy-free substance to it to hold it up.

People like the author of the Slate article want children to continue growing up afraid of life. They want death to continue to drag down their spirits and traumatize them. They want children to think that wars and the greedy people make death an appealing and noble exit. They tell people that it’s better to be intellectually lazy and forget about working on their challenges, that it’s better to lay down and die, that life is too hard and dreary. They don’t want children to think about fixing death, because they can’t conceive of having a spine when it comes to standing up to tough danger. They want indifference to remain a powerful nemesis that rules children’s minds, so they can’t see the true dangers in death and respond appropriately.

Eric Schulke was a director at LongeCity during 2009-2013. He has also been an activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension and other causes for over 13 years.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

Why We Wrote “Death is Wrong” – Gennady and Wendy Stolyarov at Transhuman Visions 2.0

Why We Wrote “Death is Wrong” – Gennady and Wendy Stolyarov at Transhuman Visions 2.0

Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov present their illustrated children’s book, Death is Wrong, and their fundraiser to spread the book to 1000 children, at the Transhuman Visions 2.0 conference in Piedmont, California, on March 1, 2014.

Hank Pellissier introduces Mr. and Mrs. Stolyarov, after which they deliver a 13-minute presentation.

You can also download presentation slides to follow along with the talk, to better emulate the experience of the audience at Transhuman Visions 2.0. Presentation slides can be downloaded in PDF and in Microsoft PowerPoint formats.

References

Indiegogo Fundraiser: “Help Teach 1000 Kids That Death is Wrong”
– “How Young Is Too Young To Learn About The Singularity?” – Leanne Butkovic – Fast Company
Original Fundraiser Video
Death is Wrong on Amazon
Death is Wrong – Official Home Page
Death is Wrong: Illustrated Children’s Book on Life Extension – Announcement and Short Excerpt  – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mentions of the Indiegogo Fundraiser for Death is Wrong

– “Join Us in This Project to Tell Children That Death is Wrong” – Article by Eric Schulke – The Rational Argumentator
Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET)
The Wave Chronicle
FightAging.org
Immortal Life
Philly Futurists
The Lifeboat Foundation

Putting “Death is Wrong” in Children’s Hands – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Putting “Death is Wrong” in Children’s Hands – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
Gennady Stolyarov II
February 25, 2014
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After three days of fundraising (in conjunction with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension) to provide 1000 children with free copies of my illustrated book on indefinite life extension, Death is Wrong, I am pleased to report some promising and exciting developments.

We have already accumulated $400 in pledges from 22 generous donors. In 5% of the total time for this campaign, we are 8% of the way toward our goal. We hope to maintain this rate of progress and build up the momentum. I invite you to watch this video update where I discuss latest developments.

I am eager to begin sending out copies of Death is Wrong via this initiative as soon as possible. Some of the funds committed thus far have been sent to me via PayPal. (The funds donated via credit-card payments will be made available 15 days after the campaign’s conclusion.) Thus, I already have access to $100 of donated funds – enough to order and ship 20 copies of Death is Wrong to longevity activists who can present a brief but credible discussion of how they aim to spread the book to children in their local areas. Here I offer instructions to any supporters of indefinite life extension who seek to undertake this important project.

Instructions for Longevity Activists to Request Copies of Death is Wrong

  • Send an e-mail to gennadystolyarovii@gmail.com.
  • Provide your name, your mailing address, a statement of your support for indefinite life extension, and a brief description of your plan to spread the book to children in your local area. Remember that all copies received pursuant to this initiative would need to be offered to children free of charge (as gifts or reading opportunities) and may not be resold.
  • Provide the number of copies of Death is Wrong that you are requesting.
  • Preferably, provide an indication that you would be willing to send photographs of the books that have been delivered to you as well as events where you will be distributing the books.

Photographs will be important in highlighting the successes brought about by this campaign. The more visible impact we can demonstrate of the books being delivered to activists and given into children’s hands, the more palpable the cultural transformation brought about by this initiative will become. People who are watching our efforts will realize that, yes, we are taking active measures to beat back the age-old skeletons in humanity’s closet – the excuses, evasions, and rationalizations for death that have led so many to attempt to ignore or justify the most pressing problem facing us all.

Publicity for the Fundraiser

I am looking forward to a major opportunity to raise awareness of this initiative and of the importance of communicating the message of indefinite life extension to children. On March 1, 2014, I will be speaking at the Transhuman Visions 2.0 Conference in Piedmont, CA, along with my wife Wendy Stolyarov, who illustrated Death is Wrong. I am excited to be able to speak directly to over 150 futurists, transhumanists, life-extension advocates, media representatives, and other thinkers who ponder the impact of technology and its accelerating progress. Attendees will be able to purchase autographed copies of Death is Wrong and will also be informed about ways to contribute to the fundraiser.

I was also pleased to be interviewed by Leanne Butkovic of Fast Company earlier this month. Her provocative article, “How Young Is Too Young To Learn About The Singularity?”, has raised the profile of Death is Wrong and has exposed it to new audiences. The article features an extensive question-and-answer component where I offer perspectives regarding my background and its influence on the book, my objectives with regard to the book’s influence on children, and the relationship of the concepts in Death is Wrong to technological and societal evolution more generally.

In addition, I could not be more grateful for the support offered by numerous individuals and organizations in the transhumanist and life-extensionist community – including IEET, Fight Aging!, Immortal Life, The Wave Chronicle, Philly Futurists, the Lifeboat Foundation, and Brighter Brains. The consistent, daily efforts by these pillars of longevity advocacy are what enable the ongoing transformation of the pursuit of indefinite life extension into a genuine social and cultural movement – a cause that changes the world – rather than a mere dream in the minds of some.

In November 2013, Franco Cortese wrote that, for those of us who are not scientists or medical doctors ourselves, “the final objective of increased funding for Radical Longevity and Life Extension research can be more effectively and efficiently achieved through public advocacy for Radical Life Extension than it can by direct funding or direct research, per unit of time or effort.” I am happy to have taken his advice to heart and to have launched myself into the role of an activist for indefinite life extension, advocating for it through writing, speaking, fundraising, and – soon – traveling. I encourage others to join me. Think about your absolute and comparative advantages, your skill sets, your strengths in reaching new demographics and catalyzing progress. We are in the early days of our movement, still. We do not have a hierarchy or a leadership, but you can be a leader through your example, your perseverance, and your hard work. Let us work to reach the goal of indefinite life extension – the grand triumph of humankind over the forces of ruin and decay – in time to avert our own senescence and death.

Fast Company Publishes Article on “Death is Wrong” – Post by G. Stolyarov II

Fast Company Publishes Article on “Death is Wrong” – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
February 24, 2014
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Earlier this month I was interviewed by Leanne Butkovic of Fast Company. The result is this article about Death is Wrong – which also mentions the new Indiegogo fundraiser. There is an extensive question-and-answer portion, where the answers were transcribed from our 50-minute Skype conversation.

This is great progress for spreading awareness of the book and increasing its cultural impact.

 

Join Us in This Project to Tell Children That Death is Wrong – Article by Eric Schulke

Join Us in This Project to Tell Children That Death is Wrong – Article by Eric Schulke

The New Renaissance Hat
Eric Schulke
February 23, 2014
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Reaching and teaching our youth about the concepts of life and death that are presented in the new children’s book Death is Wrong will be one of the most critical things we can do for the Indefinite Life Extension Movement. Ideas and beliefs form and incubate so easily in the minds of children as they they seek to understand and make sense of their “new” world in which they are exploring. Sadly, the societal concepts of Life and Death take root very early in their development and grow into solid belief structures that become extremely hard to change.

We began a new fundraiser today to raise monies to help distribute a 1,000 copies of the book Death is Wrong, by Gennady Stolyarov II. Friends, this is a project that can go a long way in helping both our children and their parents in conceiving a world where death no longer has its hold. A thousand books might not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it can make a huge difference. These books will sit upon on the shelves of schools, public libraries, college campuses, among other venues, for years to come. They will be there when the inquisitive, young minds seek answers about Indefinite Life Extension. They will be added to the many educational tools available to our teachers and other educators.

In elementary school, I discovered priceless information in my library. I remember that the more I read, discovered, and learned about this world, the more excited I was to search the shelves for more gems of knowledge. I believe these books will aid thousands of kids to think and truly ponder the value and feasibility of indefinite life extension. Even if we only reach a fraction of our goal, say 30% as an example, it would prove invaluable to the 300 children whose hands this book would fall into.

Through this project, other children will be able to have these books delivered to their homes, where they will end up on their nightstands and bookshelves in their rooms; many of them becoming their most prized possessions. I often think back to some of the key books that shaped my life, which I had as a child.

Still, in other areas, this campaign will make it possible for more parents to have this book readily accessible, to impress the importance of indefinite life extension upon their kids.

There are many varied options for distribution of this book. Indefinite Life Extension Activists who wish to spread copies of this book will be able to make requests to the Author once the fundraiser has been completed.

Startup

The truth of Indefinite Life Extension is a blazing fire that is hard to put out. The more places it can be kindled, the faster we can set this world on fire with awareness of this vital cause.

When I was a child, I expressed a deep long-term anger over death, and was sure that somebody was going to tell me that something was going to be done about it. Nobody did. I remember how crushing that was to me. I felt betrayed by the world I found myself born into. Then over the years, my feelings of betrayal incrementally grew into the norm of society. Like a frog in a pot of water that was slowly being heated, I didn’t jump out right away. If books like Death is Wrong were available at the time, the adults who were around would have had more options on how to answer my questions, where to direct me, how to console me, and what to say; to encourage me to ponder life and death on my own and reach my own conclusions.

As the author, Gennady Stolyarov II, writes,

Death is Wrong fills an important void and inspires a new generation to join the struggle for a greatly increased longevity. Virtually everyone learns about death as a child, and the initial reaction is the correct one: feelings of bewilderment, horror, and outrage. Yet, there has been no resource to validate these completely correct and natural first impressions. Almost immediately, our young ones are met with excuses and rationalizations, so that they might be consoled and return to a semblance of normalcy. Over millennia of facing inevitable demises, humans have constructed elaborate edifices of rationalization, designed to keep thoughts of death from intruding upon their day-to-day lives.

Max Planck has said that,

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents finally die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

It’s also fairly common sense. We all know that the older a person gets, the more likely they are to stay “buckled in” with the “safety” of their belief systems and various perspectives on life and death.

Our “opponents” will eventually see the light, too. With regards to this fundraiser, we are not concerned with opponents as much as we are with people who are simply uninformed; individuals who have not been given enough information and an opportunity to ponder indefinite life extension and its far reaching implications. It is our sole duty to inform people. If we were trapped in a cave with a crowd of people and we found a way out, it would be incumbent upon us to show them the way out too. Some won’t listen and some will blatantly choose not to leave, but at the very least, they had the knowledge and the option to escape.

As for our children, our children will listen. Let us not leave them behind to die. Let us fan this spark of knowledge in their minds that will grow into the raging infernos of passion and activism for this earth-changing cause that is waiting to become a reality. As this knowledge is disseminated throughout the world, the more people will rally to its cause. Let’s start now, before it’s too late.

Carrara Marmor Steinbruch - Carrara  marble stone pit 10

The movement for indefinite life extension continues to move forward through various individuals, projects and organizations. We must continue chipping away. As each bit of momentum picks up, we will soon be able to look back and see that the steep side of this mountain is gone. We will have made it to the other side. Please consider giving to this cause and spreading this important information to our youth and their parents and educators.

Eric Schulke was a director at LongeCity during 2009-2013. He has also been an activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension and other causes for over 13 years.

Thanks go to Jason Shields for his work in editing this article.