Longevity Outliers: People To Watch

HaastBill Haast died at about 100 1/2 years of age. He was old enough that it doesn’t seem like dumb luck or genes. He wasn’t even ill until the last few years of his life.

His life long career was running a snake venom bank. He was bitten by snakes 172 times. One of his fingers was withered away from the snake bites. He survived bites that were not supposed to be survivable. His blood was a medical treasure that was used successfully as an anti-venom on numerous occasions. He saved dozens of lives just by being maxed out with anti-bodies. Even better: he injected himself with snake venom for decades until his death.
More than a few, including Haast himself, supposed his unexpected longevity was because of, rather than in spite of his constant exposure to venom. The idea: venom was like a set of dumbells for his immune system that kept him resilient against all kinds of stressors well into old age. Where most of us might atrophy in the absence of significant challenges, Mr. Haast’s body seems to have kept up the fight long past his genetic expiration date.

As with with many complex systems, the workings of the human body might seem counter-intuitive and contradictory at first. But everything has a way of making sense once we understand the key principles.
If we are to understand these principles that determine our health and longevity we do well to keep our eye on outliers.
These people are likely candidates to become major movers and trend creators. Finding them is how one discovers undervalued ‘stocks’ in the world of ideas.

Alan KurzweilRay Kurzweil:
He’s a successful entrepeneur in speech recognition software. (He custom made some of his stuff for Stevie Wonder.) He takes a couple hundred supplements every day and undergoes vitamin injections at a longevity clinic. His plan: delay death and allow technology to give him progressively better life extensions until finally he can be uploaded into a machine with plenty of backups of himself should anything ever happen to the master copy.
He’s a guru in his own right and makes millions from giving talks every year. He’s in his sixties and going strong.

Ron Teeguarden:
A white American practitioner and merchant of Chinese herbalism in his sixties. This man has access to both detailed knowledge and the best herbs from the most exclusive sources.
If indeed this tradition is even a fraction as effective as it is purported to be, its effects must surely manifest in him.
This man stands out because his specialty is tonic herbs. He focuses on making healthy people healthier. He talks extensively about slowing aging and guarding against age related illness.

Kurzweil with his no-nonsense pills and anti-oxidant injections seems like a natural nemesis. I’m very interested to see how they(and their followers) will compare to one another in ‘performance.’ Time will surely tell.

Jack LaLanne:
Fitness guru who died at age 96.
He serves as a barometer to demonstrate the limits of exercise as a longevity strategy. His case demonstrates that there is a critical point where we hit the wall no matter how diligent we might be.
On the other hand, he nearly made it to the century mark without any history of centenarian family members and enjoyed a life more or less free of illness up to the day he died.

Winston Churchill:
Lived into his 90s despite disavowing physical fitness, smoking, drinking, and having an extremely high stress job as prime minister(the second time while in his 80s).
Demonstrates: Maybe genes are just that powerful, maybe a determined attitude towards life makes a huge difference.
OR the smoking and drinking in some sort of moderation served a similar role as snake venom by keeping his immune system constantly on its toes.
Also, maybe toxic substances in the blood stream within range of tolerance keeps otherwise lethal infections and parasites away? This would be especially important when we’re nearing that final wall established by genetics and could explain numerous nona and centenarian smokers/drinkers.(George Burns, Jeanne Calment)

The Bau Clan:
There’s a historically isolated town called Stoccareddo in Northern Italy where a few families of red haired Germans were intermarrying for centuries. The result is a town where everyone lives to be a centenarian.
Implications: Many possible eugenics programs have already been pursued. Just not intentionally. One could learn a lot about human genetic potential by searching out isolated communities.
Lesson: Inbreeding in a population is not necessarily bad. As with animal husbandry it potentially allows the distillation of desirable traits. Though any distillation might also magnify undesirable traits, OR the distillation of a desirable trait might have certain undesirable side effects.(Tay-Sachs?)
As with all traits, there are tradeoffs.

Calorie Restriction Adherents:
Though they follow the results of scientific experiments, they don’t necessarily grasp the principle they are relying on: extending the body’s resilience by keeping it on the defensive.
They’re the logical result of a mass society with its philosophy of micro-specialization. However, their strict focus makes them ideal outliers. Their philosophy is young and to my knowledge not many of them have yet reached advanced age.

I would invite commenters to contribute additional longevity outliers.

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