Calorie restriction, post-reproductive life span, and programmed aging: a plea for rigor.

Abstract:

:All scientists are acutely aware of the profound challenge that they face when communicating scientific findings to nonscientists, especially when great uncertainty is involved and when the topic is of personal interest to the general public. Simplification of the issues--sometimes extending to a degree of oversimplification--is a sad but generally recognized necessity. It is not, however, a necessity when scientists communicate with each other, and when that happens, the explanation may lie elsewhere: either in the speaker's vested interests or in overconfidence on the speaker's part in the extent to which he or she has grasped the topic under discussion. Both these explanations are serious allegations and must not be made without good reason, not least because an alternative explanation is often the entirely legitimate preference for scientific "shorthand." However, when a general tendency toward oversimplification emerges within an expert community, not only in informal interactions but in learned publications, the field in question can suffer a loss of reputation for rigor, which may especially infect younger scientists joining that field (or contemplating joining it). I feel that this has occurred to a dangerous degree within biogerontology in respect of the way in which the effect of the environment on the rate of aging-whether that of an individual organism or of a lineage-is described. There are still important controversies in that area, but I refer here strictly to issues concerning which a thorough consensus exists. In this essay I highlight some fundamental tenets of biogerontology that are frequently, and to my mind problematically, mis-stated by many in this field in their printed pronouncements. Greater precision on these points will, I believe, benefit biogerontology at many levels, avoiding confusion among biogerontologists, among other biologists, and among the general public.

journal_name

Ann N Y Acad Sci

authors

De Grey AD

doi

10.1196/annals.1404.029

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2007-11-01 00:00:00

pages

296-305

eissn

0077-8923

issn

1749-6632

pii

annals.1404.029

journal_volume

1119

pub_type

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