Running from Death #9: Against the Callahan-Nuland Anti-Life Proposal

Mr. Stolyarov refutes the claims made in the New Republic article “An Old Approach to Health Reform” by Daniel Callahan and Sherwin B. Nuland: http://www.npr.org/2011/06/01/136846863/new-republic-an-old-approach-to-health-reform

Nuland and Callahan manage to commit every major economic fallacy and suggest every major moral outrage – including that human beings should deliberately limit their longevity to age eighty, that some lives are not worth living, that individuals should be sacrificed for the good of the collective, that the desire to drive down costs should take precedence over the desire to save lives, and that the fight against death cannot be won. They advocate massive central planning and artificially imposed restrictions on research and technology. The Nuland-Callahan proposal is the direct antithesis of the movement for indefinite life extension.

The claims Callahan and Nuland make deserve to be discussed and debunked in depth, and Mr. Stolyarov does just this in this longest broadcast yet in the “Running from Death” series.

This is a listener-supported program. While all audio broadcasts are available free of charge, donations are welcome and appreciated.

To donate as well as to download free MP3 files of “Running from Death” programs, go to http://rationalargumentator.com/runningfromdeath.html

Mr. Stolyarov will also answer intelligent listener questions and arguments in subsequent broadcasts. Post them as comments here or send an e-mail to gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com


* “Medical Technology and the State” – by Gary M. Pecquet: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/medical-technology-and-the-state/
This article explains why technology-related medical costs have risen despite the otherwise strong tendency of technology to drive down costs. The answer: numerous interventions into healthcare at the federal level.

* “The Man Who Had HIV and Now Does Not” – by Tina Rosenberg: http://nymag.com/print/?/health/features/aids-cure-2011-6/
The remarkable story of Timothy Brown, whose HIV disappeared completely – and whose case may shed some light on a way to cure this disease in the future.

* “The FDA and Methuselah” – by Peter Huber: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0412/ideas-death-panels-fda-medicine-science-aging-insights_print.html
Article on how the FDA’s criteria for approving drugs are holding back progress in human life extension.

* Debate between S. Jay Olshansky and Aubrey de Grey on life extension.
– Article by Olshansky: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4059549.stm
– Article by de Grey: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4003063.stm


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  • @Borhyaenid Ayn Rand, one of the greatest capitalist thinkers, put it this way: "I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction." A truly capitalist system recognizes the value of each individual by means of protecting the inalienable rights of each person not to be sacrificed for other people's goals, even if those goals are advanced in the name of "society" or "cost reduction".

  • @Borhyaenid Thank you for your comments; I certainly think that much of what you write here is valid. But I think the Nuland/Callahan position is quite collectivist in essence — in that it sees the value of a person as measured by his/her monetary contributions *to "the society"* — as opposed to the fundamental value of human life qua life, irrespective of what one does for others. Capitalism, truly understood (not today's corporatist crony capitalism) precisely recognizes individual value.

  • @curingaging00 Indeed. A population that remains biologically young will be much less susceptible to the diseases associated with senescence, thus driving healthcare costs down dramatically.

  • I removed my comment as you ended up answering my question at the end of your video. However, I would like to re-post my sentiment that I enjoy your videos tremendously and share your desire for life extension for all.

  • @Ichijojichan Fighting for life is the greatest virtue that any individual could exhibit. Never, ever feel guilty about it — no matter who might tell you otherwise. You might find inspiration in the words of Emerson (from "Self-Reliance"), "I actually am, and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony." Also, Ayn Rand wrote: "I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. "

  • I would like to connect with like minded people. I feel very lonely in holding this belief, no one in my real life has these values. I hear so often that the desire for physical indefinite life is selfish and "playing god", that I feel guilty in fighting for life. This feeling has been building up since I was a teen and first read Roy Walford's "the 100 year diet". Now, I'm 33 and fighting cancer. What is the difference?

  • It would be extremely irresponsible to not try to defeat aging. Morally and economically. Health-care costs are rising rapidly due partly to increasing aging population. We spend more money on the last few years of one's life in terms of health care costs then the rest of the spectrum of their life. If aging is not tackled we will have a massive burden on their working class.

    Aging is the modern day plague that will consume us all unless it is stopped.
    so why not try to defeat it? WE MUST TRY

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