Short advocacy guide

If you’ve hung around here long enough, you probably know that talking about the fight against ageing with others isn’t very easy. If you go about it the wrong way, you can easily end up being misunderstood, arguing with people, or come across as crazy. Trust me on this one—I’ve been doing this since 2011 and I have learnt what one should and shouldn’t say the hard way.

First and foremost, educate yourself. You need to have a thorough understanding of what ageing is, how we’re trying to put an end to it, what are the benefits, and how to reply to your interlocutors’ objections (which are likely going to be always the same). Rejuvenaction should be enough for this purpose, but the more you know, the better. Avoid throwing yourself into debate if you’re not ready, because rather than good you might end up doing harm.

From experience, I can say that you shouldn’t start talking about the subject out of the blue, or try to bring it up all the time in contexts that are not related. You’d only come across as a preacher trying to proselytise; a crazy, obsessed guy who is best to just ignore. If the moment is right—for example, in a conversation about people ageing, or somebody’s grandfather who’s not doing too well—go for it. Use your better judgement to figure out if the topic suits the circumstances or not.

Social media can prove useful, but it kind of depends on the use. In my view, there’s no point arguing with a total stranger on some godforsaken Facebook group, especially if the total stranger is clearly a stubborn opposer. This kind of conversation rarely ends up being an occasion to learn or achieve anything; more often than not, it’s just two people trying to tear apart whatever the other said line by line. You get anything out of it, except frustration. Instead, I suggest you share articles about rejuvenation as often as you can on your Facebook timeline, for example, or talk about the subject in positive terms on your status. Maybe all of these will be blatantly ignored by your contacts at first, but it is likely that, sooner or later, somebody will be curious and send you a message, or write a comment, asking what this is all about. They may even ask you when they meet you in person. (This is exactly what often happened to me.)

Once the conversation is on, always start from the beginning. You need to make clear why ageing is a problem; then, the person you’re talking to needs to understand the ageing -> damage -> pathologies -> death chain and what can be done about it. If you start off right away with more vague and traditionally frowned-upon concepts, such as life extension and immortality, odds are your interlocutor will think you’re talking out of your arse, or that ‘life extension’ means forty years in a care home rather than twenty, and nobody is crazy about that. (Nor is it what you mean.) If they keep talking about immortality, or using the term improperly, correct them. You’re not talking about immortality: you’re talking about being always healthy, no matter how old you are. Longevity is only an obvious ‘side effect’ of health, however positive. Remind your interlocutor that longevity is not the same as immortality.

Once you have explained the nature of ageing, it’s time to talk about the benefits of defeating ageing itself: health, longer life, eliminating medical expenses and pensions, etc. They’re all discussed in the Reasons for rejuvenation section. This will hopefully make your interlocutor think about the benefits of the idea before they start talking about all the hypothetical catastrophes usually associated with it—and rest assured they will do so.

Do not trivialise their concerns and doubts, and do not behave as if the answers were obvious. That would be a capital mistake, not to mention the most direct way to an argument, and ultimately, to failure. Some objections may appear obvious and inescapable if one has never thought about the matter before; besides, do not forget humans tend to sugarcoat things: the quickest shortcut to mind peace is persuading oneself that defeating ageing would be bad, and your interlocutor will likely try to take it as often as they can. Don’t blame them for it; rather, politely point out, as rationally and calmly as you can, where they’re wrong, but try not to make them feel stupid. (Just because they disagree with what you’re saying, or didn’t think of it themselves, it doesn’t mean they’re dumb.) It is not uncommon, in cases like these, to commit logical fallacies that initially appear perfectly sensible, though of course they are not. You don’t necessarily need to be familiar with them, but it might be useful to have a look at them anyway, because this will help you spot them in your interlocutor’s reasoning. You can then point the fallacies out politely and maybe present a counterexample to clarify why they’re wrong and thus invalidate the reasoning. You can find lists of fallacies here and here.

It is important to remember that your answers (or mine, for that matter) are not the ultimate proof that your interlocutor’s concerns will never materialise: the point of any answer you give should be explaining why typical objections to rejuvenation are no valid reason to oppose it. We’re no clairvoyants, and we have no way to promise that no dictator will live for centuries or that overpopulation will never be an issue. We do have ways to show that a certain problem is either unlikely to happen or it is solvable, or that there is enough time to prevent it before it actually happens. You want your interlocutor to think that all you ask of them is to reflect on the matter for themselves; you don’t want them to think you’re trying to ‘convert’ them. (If you do want to convert them, I’m afraid you picked the wrong cause.)

Don’t expect your conversation to be as linear as I outlined here. Quite likely you’ll constantly have to answer to objections and address doubts, and you might be dragged into the finer points of single objections and other details. That’s alright, so long as the conversation doesn’t strand from the topic. By the way, it’s okay to admit you don’t know how to answer a question. If necessary, though, remind your interlocutor that, even if you don’t know how to answer them, it doesn’t mean the problem they brought to your attention is necessarily unsolvable or granted to happen. Given the benefits that rejuvenation would bring to everyone, the right attitude should be trying to solve any problem along the way, not assuming that problems are a sign rejuvenation should not be pursued.

If you don’t start the discussion the right way, odds are you’ll end up making the cause a new enemy rather than a new supporter—that’s pretty much what LEAF says here. On the subject, LEAF has two more articles that may prove useful for your advocacy endeavours: Why Life Extension is not Popular with the Public Yet and Effective Advocacy: A Survivor’s Guide.

Good luck 🙂 If you have any questions, let me know.

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