Report from the Conspiratorial Trenches The Longevity Boot Camp
By Will Block
s there a new conspiracy afoot in the land? We sure hope so. From the Latin words for "together" and "breathe" comes the word "conspire," a term that usually alludes to hidden or clandestine activities. Yet the term has other meanings as well, such as when two or more people conspire by sharing a common vision or a common spirit. So on April 27-28, 2002, in the techno-fantasy metropolis of Las Vegas, two hundred people got together to conspire about the possibilities for an extended future. That is, extended in the sense that they could remain healthy, sexy, and smart for as long as possible and hopefully for longer than any have ever lived before.
Put together by the Maximum Life Foundation with the help of other contributors - including Life Enhancement Products, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the Kronos Group, and the Extropy Institute - the program constituted what may have been the world's first hands-on, anti-aging, life extension workshop.
First? Yes, in the sense that it was the first workshop designed to be a course for beginners. Accordingly, the presentations were orchestrated in the form of an introductory 101 course. The explicit goal of the workshop was to bring together a dozen scientific and medical experts who have spent their lives acquiring specialized information in the practical fields of anti-aging medicine and life extension science, in order that they might share their knowledge and teach individuals how to design their own anti-aging programs.
Such a self-help conference - which is intended to be an ongoing event - was very different from others that have preceded it, because it was geared not for healthcare professionals but for those who are ready to practice the ideas of life extension by implementing the technologies of slowing down the aging process and beginning to stop the clock. It's about time.
The program opened with a general welcome and introduction by the workshop organizers, Dr. Kat Cotter and David Kekich, who cast an overview on setting up one's own personal longevity program. Then motivational speaker Brian Tracy rallied the audience to combat the resistance of the general public to life extension and not give up, through his presentation, "7 Secrets of Healthy Happy Living." Of particular interest to this participant was the weaving of self-esteem psychology into his presentation. True to his reputation, Tracy succeeded in gaining audience participation, setting the stage for what was to come.
Dr. Kat Cotter, conference co-organizer.
In the next presentation, L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D., addressed the question, "Why Do Centenarians Live So Long?" In an extremely erudite and information-packed presentation, handsomely prompted by a video-projected PowerPoint production, the audience was led to focus on likely areas of health improvement that are clearly associated with longevity, including reduced caloric consumption and control of lipid levels.
Next, the well-respected anti-aging and sports physician Karlis Ullis, M.D., ran the gamut of what levels of medical, laboratory, and diagnostic tests a life-extender might consider, both as a matter of course for a general garden-variety program and as special consideration for possible problems along the way. In the next slot, Christopher B. Heward, Ph.D., of the Kronos Group, went into much greater detail on the state-of-the-art diagnostic protocols for biochemical and physiological testing programs, clinical interventions, and the use of laboratory and patient databases. It seemed clear from his presentation that, if we are truly dedicated to a longevity program, we must fearlessly stay abreast of our own medical conditions and take whatever measures are appropriate should health events turn against us. Any problem is far less likely to do us in if caught in time.
Life Extension Authors
Closing the first day's presentations were heralded and warmly received scientists Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw. The audience applauded their introduction. True to their ingenuous, back-and-forth delivery, Durk and Sandy were found not to have lost any of their unbridled enthusiasm for life extension. While rapidly moving from subject to subject, they often finished each other's thoughts as they developed the rationale and cited the evidence for the nutritional supplements that have the most beneficial clout.
Durk Pearson, talking about foods of the future.
Sandy Shaw, co-pioneer of the life extension movement.
One of the strongest points they made is that it is of critical importance to be extremely careful about choosing the right supplements, ones that are backed up by substantial evidence. They pointed out that taking just one item that proves to be harmful could undo all the benefits from your entire nutritional supplement program.
In the second phase of their presentation, which ran more than the hour of the first talk, Durk and Sandy declared that governments - and specifically government regulatory agencies - are the principal enemy of life extension and that without the excessively heavy hand of the "alphabet agencies," such as the FDA and the FTC, we would have lots of progress and we would have it rapidly. But with things as they are now, the future of longevity is a moot point.
Then they turned to what they have done at the constitutional level with the assistance of their lawyer, Jonathan Emord, Esq., (www.emord.com), using their own funds and contributions from various supporters (including Life Enhancement Products) who have helped them to defeat the FDA "big-time." Their successes have even led to piercing the veil of protection that has left bureaucrats impregnable until now. Durk and Sandy also announced that they are going after the FTC, an agency that has been doing the footwork of the FDA. What the FTC has done is to prosecute supplement firms for the use of promotional material that is truthful and nonmisleading, thus denying their First Amendment rights. Pearson and Shaw's goal is to prove that government agencies are not exempt from the Bill of Rights and that if they violate an individual's or a corporation's rights, they must bear the burden of severe and personal damage penalties.
The Next Day
Sunday's presentations began with "Complex Lipid and Hormonal Management" by Philip Lee Miller, M.D. It was followed by an expert panel, including Durk & Sandy, Ward Dean, Stephen Cole, Philip Miller, and Christopher B. Heward, who answered questions freely from the audience.
Then Ward Dean, M.D., spoke about the "Number One Cause of Aging - and How to Prevent It," followed by a second talk on "How to Slow Down and Possibly Prevent Brain Aging." Without a doubt, Dr. Dean is one of the most knowledgeable people in these areas, having authored several insightful books on these subjects. His knowledge is encyclopedic.
Other presentations included Dr. Kat Cotter's "Cutting Edge Nutrition and Anti-Aging Diet Strategies"; Frank Campitelli and David Dearth on "Safe and Effective Exercise Over 40 . . . and Beyond"; a futurist presentation by Natasha Vita-More entitled "Smart Body: Built to Last, Engineered to Adapt,"; Anita Banker Riskin's "Getting Older, Getting Better, Getting Sexier: How to Have the Best Sex of Your Life . . . in Your 40s, 50s, 60s, and Beyond"; and a philosophical tune-up by Max More, Ph.D., founder of the Extropy Institute. Finally, Jerry Lemler, M.D., president of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, gave a hopeful bottom-card presentation for cryonic preservation, a technology that will sooner or later approach the needed breakthrough to make it a viable alternative to those lives that would end before a cure for the disease that does them in is found. As Alcor supporters are in the habit of saying, "We'd truly like to see you around - sooner AND later!"
And so we say the same to the Maximum Life Foundation and all sympathetic travelers. We'd like to see this workshop become successful, and become an ongoing program, and bring us more life extension. We welcome this conspiracy. May we all continue to breathe together!