Regarding Reason’s oversimplification of the aging process:
Everyone seems to be distracted by the incredible complexity of the systems which sustain life… and it’s no wonder they are complex; they are the product of billions of years of natural selection through evolution. However, the modes of damage operating in these systems were not subject to a process of selection.
AND WHY NOT? Wouldn’t processes that cause less damage favor longer-lived individuals, at least to the point of reproductive success?
Thus, there’s no reason for them to be particularly complex.
If your “if” statement is incorrect, so would your “then” statement.
So, it is a conceptual mistake to argue that damage repair must be incredibly complex, just because life systems are complex.
Or, it’s a conceptual mistake to argue that damage repair must be simple, simply because you wish it to be.
By comparison with machinery, the same rust affects both a simple metal pipe and a very complex Swiss watch. The solution is the same for both, apply some rust-removing agents to each part.
Another oversimplification that seeks to define aging-related damage as just one, outside process, rather than intrinsic damage within the system itself.
Currently, biologists mainly focus on understanding every detail of the networks that give rise to life, but most of this knowledge is bound to be irrelevant for damage repair. We’re not trying to rebuild the system from scratch, just “remove the rust.” The problem currently looks very hard, because few people are studying the actual problem (rust removal).
I’d like to be proven wrong, but I think a lot of this is really wishful thinking. Even with Dr. Coles’s clogged-pipes argument: suppose we find a treatment for the buildup of amyloid proteins, and remove another cause of “premature” death? All the other body systems in a 115-year-old have aged for 115 years, and something else will soon fail. All the systems are aging at the same time. We see that the strategy of “longest-lived” species, such as long-lived trees, is to grow new growth, not repair old damage. Renewing old systems is far more complex than your simple rust analogy allows. Take a look at this 113-year-old woman and tell me that all we need to do for rejuvenation is to “remove rust”.