Reason TV: Who Wants to Live Forever? Dr. Stephen Coles on the Secrets of the World's Oldest People


UCLA's Dr. Stephen Coles studies the oldest people in the world. Hitting the century mark isn't enough to pique his interest because Coles' research focuses on supercentenarians, that is, those at least 110-year-old. Today Coles recognizes only 88 people worldwide as supercententarians, and the list is available at the Gerontology Research Group website.

Dr. Coles sat down with's Ted Balaker to explain why supercententarians live so long, what eventually does them in (it's not old age), and what could be done to help them (and the rest of us) live longer lives.

Topics include: FDA regulations, the Singularity, and immortality.

Interview shot by Paul Detrick, Hawk Jensen, and Zach Weissmueller. Edited by Detrick.

Approximately 12:20 minutes. Music by Jason Shaw @

Shot by Hawk Jensen, Zach Weissmueller and Paul Detrick. Edited by Detrick.

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  1. A refreshing break from the doom and gloom of the usual current events commentary (at least as I perceive it).
    A couple of items stood out to me…I suspect the do it yourself genetic test kit makers would be interested in Dr. Coles views on just who has the supercentenarian genes!

    I do not find the Cole’s repeated invocation of Kurzweil and his singularity inspiring as a support for what he thinks comes next…

    He provides a rationale POV on FDA rules and actually supports his advocacy of FDA with facts about the way the process works to support safety in pharmaceuticals…not that I agree, but nice to hear someone thoughtful on the subject…

    Why is he wearing a stethoscope around his neck?

  2. My favourite part was when the FDA held up beta blockers and thousands upon thousands died needlessly.

    Thalidomide is the “Somalia” of the FDA.

  3. This interview jumped the shark when he mentioned the words “Global Warming.” Then, predictably, the FDA ass-kissing began.

  4. This is definitely not the view of the majority of medicine. Also, he studied people in their 110’s, how about being healthy when you are 90. We cannot change our genes, but we can change our lifestyle.
    Explain to me how Adventists in Loma Linda California live longer irregardless of race or ethnicity. Fruits and nuts? maybe.

    1. …irregardless…. AGH! The non-word strikes again!

  5. Great story about the 122 year old Calment. From the 1997 NYT article…

    “Mrs. Calment left no heirs. She also outlived Andre-Francois Raffray, a lawyer who 32 years ago, when she was merely 90, bought the apartment she used to live in on a contingency contract. He would pay her 2,500 francs (now about $400) a month until she died, and then the apartment would become his.

    Mr. Raffray died a year ago at 77, after paying Mrs. Calment more than $180,000, better than double the apartment’s market value. His family was still paying when she died.

    ”In life, one sometimes makes bad deals,” Mrs. Calment said.”

  6. Who wants to live to 122??

    Quick answer: The guy who’s 121.

  7. So, the secret to living to 122? Pick the right parents. Thanks, Einstein. I’ll get right on that. Worthless claptrap.

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