My colleague filmmaker Robert Kane Pappas and I spoke about the longevity sciences and their implications on The Power Hour Wednesday March 9. The Power Hour with Joyce Riley is a syndicated radio program available nationally and internationally. Advertising-free audio files for the conversation can be downloaded and heard by clicking
Robert was the scheduled guest. However, after I called in about 15 minutes into the show, the hostess Joyce Riley invited me to stay on the line. I did that participating with Robert in the discussion until the end of the show. The Power Hour program is commercially-supported and our on-radio conversation was interspersed with advertising commercials including ones for health products. I emphasize that I appeared as a call-in guest on the show, have no commercial links to or interests in any of the products advertised, and do not necessarily endorse their use. I believe the same holds for Robert. Also, to clear another matter up, Joyce referred to me as a “prominent geneticist,” which I am not. I did point that out later in the show, indicating that my field is interpretation of advanced research in all fields of science relating to longevity. Beyond that, Joyce asked a lot of provocative questions leading to a lively discussion. The Power Hour program is directed at a general audience of radio listeners, and Joyce repeatedly mentioned that there were large numbers of people calling in, “the switchboard is overloaded.” Many of the call-in questions and remarks were interesting because they illustrate the lack of public information about aging. Also evident in the caller remarks was the low esteem in which science is held by many people, assuming for example that any products of scientific research are not “natural” and therefore against God’s will or the natural order of things. Also evident was failure to distinguish between the activities of basic research scientists on the one hand and exploitative drug company practices on the other hand. Nonetheless, some of the discussion relating to our health care system and the role of the pharmaceutical industry was interesting.
Also interesting was the repeated raising of the question: “If and as interventions for significantly extending human lifespans become available, will they be available to the general public or only to the very-rich?”
Robert has spent the last 4 years producing the film To Age or Not to Age and in the process has conducted extensive interviews as well as informal discussions with many prominent researchers in the longevity sciences. And he and I have enjoyed many long and sometimes-heated discussions. This has given Robert a unique perspective of the aging research area – that of a sensitive interviewer and a filmmaker.
Shortly before the film To Age or Not to Age was due to be shown for the first time on national TV late last Fall, Robert came across this blog and decided he had somehow to shoehorn me into his film. We met that weekend in Bridgeport Connecticut for an improvised filming session in a public park. I appear in three short segments towards the end of the final film, briefly presenting my theory of how closing the loop in the stem cell supply chain could lead to very long lives. Since then Robert and I have established a close collaborative relationship. We find ourselves aligned on the need to better inform the public on a variety of issues connected with aging research and the personal and social implications of ever-longer lifespans. Besides jointly bringing you the video entries in this blog and joining in events like this radio show, we have been planning other movies covering many aspects of the longevity sciences and the profound implications of us living longer lives.
A non-scientific but fun trailer for To Age or Not to Age is: