Life Expectancy in the USA (Bad and Getting Worse)

You would need free will, knowledge, and access. Not to mention all the psychosocial issues.

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Regarding access, my dad brought me some Medline printouts one day around 1990. That got me started. PubMed didn’t become available until 1996. If there was a paper I wanted to read, I’d ride my bicycle to the local med school library, and from then on, my definition of a good job was if it provided free access to papers.


For some people reading about free will isn’t comfortable, so it’s best for them to skip this discussion altogether.
But I would agree that there isn’t any free will, sometimes it feels like it a lot though and it’s useful in that regard. It’s possible to feel like you don’t have any free will, it doesn’t feel like you’re stuck. It’s just spacious and things are happening, moving by itself… It’s common in Buddhism I think. There isn’t many self-referential thoughts either or with that energy. Sam Harris says he doesn’t experience any free will.

However as he says, paraphrased “If you want to learn chinese, it’s not going to happen by itself, you gotta pick up a book about learning chinese”…

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Yes - whether or not there is free will, the act of believing you have free will is probably a helpful thing. People need to believe to take action… but we digress, I wasn’t trying to take this thread off topic. Just trying to note that different people, depending on their life situation, and neighborhood, etc, have very different perceived choices… and real options.


No, because we all have different genes, different intrauterine environments, were subject to different parenting, attended different schools with different teachers, are subject to different pressures on our decisions, have different options presented to us, etc.

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If it is the environment, you could just switch environments and then your free will will change? Isn’t it your free will to change things? What if you are a free spirit and don’t care about societal pressures? What about a demi-god billionaire who can change the world on a whim? If it’s genetics, you could CRISPR your fate? This world is amazing and wonderful.

I am amazed at how my life view has changed over time based on what I have read, the people I have met and the substances I have taken. I can do whatever I feel like. If that isn’t free will, I am not sure we are talking about the same thing.

I have accomplished what I have wanted to do in life, and I am constantly discovering new and amazing things to improve my life and world.

Maybe I’m too optimistic.

I feel completely free and this song best represents that to me.


One could argue that between instincts and societal norms and trying to fit in, be loved, there isn’t much space for free will, but IMO the main problem is that the little free will we have or is available to us is not used. And this is more unsettling than the quantity of fee will.


Fitting in is overrated. Use that time to do something you love. I prioritized a career and lifestyle that allows me maximum freedom and time for life.

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The world is amazing and wonderful — but not free :wink: . The brain is just a machine: it follows the laws of physics just like any other machine. There is no non-caused ghostly “you” that stands outside of your deterministically-operating brain to override the determined patterns that the brain follows. You’re not free to change all the things in your past that shaped your brain to behave the way it does now. And even if you change your environment or even your genes now, your seeming choice to do so is itself determined by the past chain of causation, and to the extent that those changes in your genes or environment change your future behavior they are changing you from one set of determined brain patterns to a different one. None of this allows one to step outside of causality.

I totally understand and share the powerful intuitive sense that each of us is making choices between A and B all the time. It’s an especially powerful intuition when one is socially pressured to do A or is strongly internally tempted to do A, but despite that sense of compulsion does B instead. What happened is that the neural networks that fought to push you into A lost to the neural networks that pushed to action B, and you subjectively experienced that war as a choice that “you” made. But it’s an epiphenomenal illusion of the operation of the machinery of the brain, which merely ran its course according to physical law like any other physical object.

I and most of us here are lucky (I use the word precisely) that the chain of causation set us on a path that is better for our health and for many other things than the chain of causation that has set many other people in the world on self-destructive paths. We should not delude ourselves that we are the freely-choosing creators of the paths upon which we are set.


Nice argument, but I still don’t buy it. If every choice is determinable by probability, it still doesn’t mean that if a low probability choice was chosen it was fated. At the end of the day, I choose what I do and face the consequences of my action. My life is not a mathematical law like 1 + 1 = 2. Otherwise why are people under the same set of circumstances and upbringing choosing 3, 4 or 5? I doubt you’ll ever get to see those monkeys with typewriters writing the complete works of Shakespeare. It is possible though.

You can choose to believe in fate and that you are destined to be whatever you become for whichever reason. I choose to believe in my free will and will choose the person I will become. Luckily for us, we truly live in countries where that’s possible.

I love these intellectual debates by the way. Thanks. :slight_smile:

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In actuality it probably doesn’t matter in the end because everything is all a dream of the universe anyway.

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The older I get the more I am starting to think maybe the matrix concept is true. :thinking:
The concept of “reality” is becoming increasingly nebulous.

From ChatGPT:

The idea that “all is illusion” or that reality is not as it appears has been a recurring theme in the history of philosophy and thought, and it has been expressed in various ways by different thinkers. Here are a few notable figures from different philosophical traditions who have explored or touched upon this concept:

Indian Philosophy:

Maya in Hinduism: In Hindu philosophy, the concept of “Maya” suggests that the physical world is an illusion or a mere appearance, while the true reality is spiritual and transcendent.
Greek Philosophy:

Parmenides: Parmenides, an ancient Greek philosopher, argued that only “being” is real, and change and multiplicity are illusions.
Plato: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in “The Republic” suggests that the world we perceive through our senses is like shadows on the cave wall, and the true reality exists outside the cave.

Buddha: In Buddhism, the concept of “Samsara” suggests that the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is an illusion, and enlightenment (Nirvana) is the realization of this truth.
Western Philosophy:

George Berkeley: Berkeley, an Irish philosopher, proposed the idea of “idealism,” arguing that only the mind and its ideas exist, and that material objects are mere perceptions.

Friedrich Nietzsche: Nietzsche explored the idea that reality is a product of our interpretations and perspectives, and he famously declared, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
Modern Physics:

Quantum Mechanics: Some interpretations of quantum mechanics suggest that at the quantum level, reality is probabilistic and depends on observation, leading to the idea that reality may be more elusive than it appears.


And of course, there is also the “simulation theory”


Is life extension a reality or, are we only trying to provide stasis, a period of stability during which little or no change occurs in our present form?

It is interesting to note that we probably don’t even know who we are and I am not talking about a philosophical perspective. I mean literally.

One of my personal examples is the phenomenon of unconscious problem-solving. Many times over my career as an electronics engineer, I have gone to bed thinking about a problem that needed solving that I didn’t have a solution to, only to have a dream about it and wake up with a solution. I often wonder about prolific authors and wonder how much of their talent originates from their subconscious and do ideas appear spontaneously in their dreams.

Two of many examples:

“Sperry´s hypothesis that the hemispheres of brain functioned separately as two different brains and did not acknowledge the existence of the other hemisphere

Split brain observations and such things as “Alien hand syndrome, or Dr. Strangelove syndrome, is an interesting situation in which a person loses control of his or her hand, which starts to act independently.”

The alien hand syndrome - PMC.


“the idea that we could be virtual beings living in a computer simulation. If so, the simulation would most likely create perceptions of reality on demand rather than simulate all of reality all the time”

Exactly, the simulation only needs to simulate our immediate perceptual needs. It does not need to simulate the entire universe at any one time.

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If life is a simulation, I would assume it would be based on the programmers’ knowledge of history. Interesting to think we might be living in a historical simulation. I’ve thought many times myself how interesting it would be to live in the Roman Empire as an equestrian, but this period is even better.

I know if I were a future me living 1000s of years in the future, I wouldn’t mind doing a historical simulation of what it’s like to live in this period of Pax Americana. It’s an interesting time when so much happens (Computers AI?). It’s a true golden age!

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Great post! I would also add genetics :dna: to this theory. If you looks at blue zones which have often been debunked you can trace the patterns of genetic sequencing to longevity.

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Spoken as a parent struggling to direct my kids to healthier food options… (and I don’t really care about the artificial sweetener issue) this type of marketing activity by big processed food companies in the US, in my opinion, isn’t going to help life expectancy in the US (or anywhere else):

The food industry pays ‘influencer’ dietitians to shape your eating habits

Registered dietitians are being paid to post videos that promote diet soda, sugar and supplements on Instagram and TikTok

As the World Health Organization raised questions this summer about the risks of a popular artificial sweetener, a new hashtag began spreading on the social media accounts of health professionals: #safetyofaspartame.

Steph Grasso, a registered dietitian from Oakton, Va., used the hashtag and told her 2.2 million followers on TikTok that the WHO warnings about artificial sweeteners were “clickbait” based on “low-quality science.”

Another dietitian, Cara Harbstreet of Kansas City, reassured her Instagram followers not to worry about “fear mongering headlines” about aspartame because “the evidence doesn’t suggest there’s a reason for concern.”

In a third video, Mary Ellen Phipps, a Houston-area dietitian who specializes in diabetes care, sipped from a glass of soda and told her Instagram viewers that artificial sweeteners “satisfy the desire for sweetness” without affecting blood sugar or insulin levels.

What these dietitians didn’t make clear was that they were paid to post the videos by American Beverage, a trade and lobbying group representing Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other companies.

Full article:


Let’s be frank and use the term “paid liars”. This occurs everywhere in the food and medical industries and so-called medical research. It makes a search for the truth very difficult. You have to check, double-check, and then check again. When you dig down into the weeds of research papers you often find that the authors have sketchy backgrounds and undisclosed associations and bias
In the end, one of the only ways to see if you are on the right track is to keep checking your own fitness and biomarkers.


@desertshores In the end, I think some of the most trustworthy sources are those individuals over the age of 80 who have a long history of taking supplements and telling it how it is.

Especially those with engineering backgrounds. :slight_smile: