A Mad Surgeon, and the Unfortunate Argument against Life Extension

Minoring in the Majors

It is bad taste to claim that other global problems are more urgent than aging, since all global problems, including aging, affect the lives and quality of life of many people.

Imagine you are in your 70s and your aortic valvular is not working well. A replacement procedure, which is relatively safe and simple, can help with fatigue, dizziness and chest pain. It may also save your life by reducing your risk of sudden heart arrest.

The doctor recommends that you have the surgery and sends your to the surgeon. However, once you arrive, the surgeon begins to shout at you, saying that instead of using funds to replace the valve and prolong your life, it would be better to fund initiatives that save children in developing countries, build clinics, teach midwives and fight for equal opportunities and women’s rights. The surgeon then rants on about how he does not want to talk about extending the natural lifespan until these issues have been addressed. After all, you are in your mid-seventies and well above the average lifespan of the world. He shoos your family and you out, and slams your door.

You’d probably report this person and fire him for malpractice. You’re unlikely to meet a surgeon who is so irrational, but if you replace the specific life-extension method of heart surgery with the more general idea of life-extension, you may run into someone who believes the same thing. Why?


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