How long is a life?BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1951 (Published 14 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1951
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Not long ago I was asked (being a doctor) to appear in a public discussion on the subject of longevity. My ignorance of the subject seemed to the organiser a novel—and indeed a not quite sufficient or respectable—reason for refusal.
One of the proposed panellists was an eminent scientist who believed that we were on the verge of abolishing death; which abolition, were it ever to be brought about, would be grossly unfair to all those people who had died in the previous centuries.
However, I suspected (without having an evidence base for my suspicion) that the scientist was talking nonsense. Of course, the natural span of human life has long been a matter of speculation. For example, …