Aubrey de Grey, PhD, is Chairman and Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah Foundation. The core of his research is the identification of all forms of cellular and molecular damage whose accumulation contributes to human aging, and the design of interventions to remove, repair, replace, or render harmless all such damage so as to arrest or even reverse the biological aging process. He has published extensively on these and other areas of gerontology in the scientific literature, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the high-impact journal Rejuvenation Research, the only peer-reviewed academic journal focusing on intervention in aging.
Question: What is ageism?
Aubrey de Grey: Ultimately, ageism is the nub of the contradiction that we have in society at the moment in this regard. At the moment, on the other hand, we regard ageism as a bad thing, just like racism or whatever. But on the other hand, you know, ambivalence about defeating aging is the ultimate ageism. It’s saying, “old people don’t matter”, right? So I think bringing that conversation out . . . you know, actually discussing with people what ageism really means, and whether actually it’s rather important to be working to defeat aging. Because the fact that one happens to have lived a long time already does not diminish one’s entitlement to live a lot longer. That, you know … So I think having that conversation. And in particular, having that conversation with people who don’t want to have the conversation. Not letting people change the subject is actually the single hardest thing, and the single most important thing. Because the more people have …The more people are forced to talk about these things, the more people are forced to think about them. And the more they’re forced to think about them, the more they will be unable to sustain that pro-aging trance … that studied resolute irrationality.