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105 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting with some subjective interpretation
This was an easy read of 248pp. It concerned a continuation of a longitudinal study first begun by Dr. Lewis Terman of Stanford Univ. in 1921. Termin died in 1958 and the authors continued with their interpretation of his original study. The original group of subjects were chosen for what Termin considered to be their high IQ's and they numbered 1548 being born circa...
Published on March 8, 2011 by D_shrink

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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars where's the meat?
This was a massive effort by a number of skilled and dedicated researchers written up in detail. So why do I feel cheated?

In spite of huge amounts of data, only interpretations of it were passed on to us. We are repeatedly told "many" or "some" or "other participants" or... Every page has one or more such imprecise words but we are not given even simple...
Published on June 30, 2012 by Spiritcat


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105 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting with some subjective interpretation, March 8, 2011
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This was an easy read of 248pp. It concerned a continuation of a longitudinal study first begun by Dr. Lewis Terman of Stanford Univ. in 1921. Termin died in 1958 and the authors continued with their interpretation of his original study. The original group of subjects were chosen for what Termin considered to be their high IQ's and they numbered 1548 being born circa 1910.

The text is filled with numerous abbreviated self-assessment questionnaires to give the reader an idea of what the original subjects had to answer. I found the book generally informative and definitely written for the lay person, but also somewhat subjective in many of the conclusions reached. The trouble with all self-assessment questionnaires is that they are biased in giving the view of the assessee, rather than an outside observer.

The main idea behind the book is that there is no one particular thing that leads to longevity, but that it is simply a result of some genetics modified by lifestyle choices which are less challenging than those dangerous decisions made by some living closer to the edge [as choosing to smoke or use illicit drugs]. In other words, it was the totality of things done during a lifetime rather than anyone thing that might cause someone to live to be a hundred.

The authors determined that the best CHILDHOOD PREDICTOR of longevity was CONSCIENTIOUSNESS, the trait of being dependable and following through on life goals, as they defined it. They also felt that good health leads to happiness and longevity rather than happiness leading to good health.

Here is a partial list of some things the authors felt were true:
1. Although breast feeding is good for the baby's health it does not of itself lead to a longer lifespan.
2. Divorce by parents while the subject was a child was the leading indicator of a shortened lifespan.
3. Starting school before the age of 6 or learning to read before starting school was detrimental to a long life. I disagree but this a a subjective opinion on my part.
4. Women who had a higher frequency of achieving orgasm during sex tended to live longer than their less fulfilled sisters. At least we can assume they were happier if not longer lived.
5. It was the happiness of the man in a marriage that predicted the couple's later health. That would seem to be somewhat contradicted by the previous point.
6. Playing with pets did not lead to a longer life. Again, I would disagree.
7. Both more masculinized males and females as measured by the self assessment scales tended to die sooner than their respective more feminized cohorts.
8. Being married to the same person for a long time [however, one might define that] benefited males as far as longevity, but added little or nothing to the lifespan of the female partner.

The book was enjoyable and very easy to read and understand whether one agrees with all the points or not, so I would suggest reading it and then deciding for yourself how you feel about the many items discussed.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unable to put it down, March 22, 2011
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I was not able to put down this fascinating book that caused me to page back through my own life, looking for past lifestyles and situations that could have dramatically shortened my life. I took so many risks, some of which were very unnecessary. After reading the book I have even more appreciation for my wife, who has helped me settle down into a very responsible lifestyle that is very gratifying and hopefully, as predicted by the authors will also lead to a long life.

It is rare that I read a book cover to cover as I am very busy with my business. But this book I got very personally involved with. Though written by someone with a strong academic background, he wrote it so that a working guy like myself could enjoy it. It is a great book to share with your friends and open up discussion about lifestyle choices and the wisdom or lack of wisdom around those choices. I also believe it may cause people in the health professions to rethink the combination of life skills and attributes for a better life. Educators should put the findings of this book to use restructuring programs based on skills associated with steadiness, responsibility and moderation.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars where's the meat?, June 30, 2012
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This review is from: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study (Paperback)
This was a massive effort by a number of skilled and dedicated researchers written up in detail. So why do I feel cheated?

In spite of huge amounts of data, only interpretations of it were passed on to us. We are repeatedly told "many" or "some" or "other participants" or... Every page has one or more such imprecise words but we are not given even simple percentages. Is "many" 52% or 89%, or what? It would have been so easy to specify. I can think of no good reason not to have given this more precise information to the reader.

Next, very little effort was made to help interpret the results of the "tests" we took. Or even to say why not. It sounds like their validity was good. But reliability? If they didn't have decent norms, why give them to us? If they did, why didn't they give us more information, such as intercorrelations or cluster analysis?

Then, they sidestepped the issue of gay/straight, by saying Terman stayed away from this. Ah, but they didn't have to. Even with no "hard" data, they might have grouped the "not married" subjects with the converse male/female ratings, done some analyses and made some guesses. And had a second sample of the converse male /female ratings with divorced subjects. This might have been fascinating data. These presumed-subjects preceded gay liberation by many years - what was it like for them in terms of longevity, happiness, etc.? I find it very hard to believe that there weren't any gays in this study, and even a guessed-at small sample, with all the caveats the researchers wanted to add, might have been interesting.

The researchers were very bright people; their subjects were top-of-the-line. So why do they write as if the reader hadn't gotten past the 8th grade? While the information is interesting and the researchers were ingenuous in pursuing their hypotheses, I would have preferred a much more sophisticated book; it's telling that the back cover gives "Oprah" as the top reviewer.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing study that illuminates the scientific endeavor for the lay reader!, March 26, 2011
By 
tasha r howe (arcata, ca USA) - See all my reviews
Even though this book does shed light on some interesting myth busters regarding health and well-being, I found the most fascinating part the detective story inside the landmark 80-year study. The authors do a great job of making behavioral science exciting for the non-scientist. You wanted to know how they eliminated one explanation, formed a new hypothesis, tested it, and then refined their explanations for various contributors to death, such as trauma, stress, and neuroticism. The self-assessments were fun and help the reader assess his/her own journey to health. The case studies were great illustrations of main points, and it was fun to read about some really famous people who started out as 12 year old genius kids identified by their teachers as having great potential. Then Dr. Terman pulls them out of their classroom and starts picking their brains for another quarter century. Another impressive aspect of the science is how Friedman, Martin, and a slew of graduate students and colleagues validated half-century old measures on newer samples of people. The statistical archaeology was fascinating! While the final stop is predictable (find your bliss and follow it with conscientiousness and perseverance, and be sure to build social ties along the way), the journey is one you enjoy going on. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the evolution of scientific thinking, history, health science, and critical thinking regarding popular myths.
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42 of 54 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as much of a surprise as expected, March 5, 2011
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When I read the reviews for this book, I expected to learn some startling new insights on what personalities and behaviors are associated with a long life. It turns out that most of the personality traits that are associated with a long life because they are associated with behaviors that we all know are beneficial -- taking care of your health and not engaging in risky behavior. The book is certainly a quick read and the personality tests were fun, but with 80 years of data, I was expecting more surprises.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loaded with bombshells, though confirms some of what we already know, July 8, 2011
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The book relates the observations from a long term study of San Francisco gifted students done by Dr. Lewis Terman. It analyzes the major factors found to be relevant, including personality, prudence and persistence, friendliness, happiness, parental divorce, catastrophic thinking, exercise, careers and success, gender, and trauma such as from war. Each chapter contains a test for the reader to discover how he or she rates in the category.

Many of the results were astounding and dispel myths we have about what leads to longevity. For example, the idea that being married correlates with a longer life is much more complex than the surface statement. Men who divorced were thought to live shorter lives not just because they didn't have a wife to take care of them. Divorced men were often found to be less conscientious. And men who were mildly worried and hence conscientious were found to live long regardless of their marital status. So there is, for many of the factors, an external (ex: married or not) as well as an internal (ex: conscientious or not) factor.

Some of the bombshells include: cheerful and optimistic children were LESS likely to live to an old age than their more staid and sober counterparts; being conscientious is one of the major factors in longevity; worrying and stress can actually be GOOD for your health; in interviewing older men, not a single one ever spoke the word DEATH in reference to his own demise; parental divorce often leads to shorter lives; pets don't increase your lifespan; and, as a former teacher, I found this most shocking of all: Kids who go into school at an early age aren't necessary getting a head start--sometimes they develop low self esteem because they are behind their peer, and can have difficulty the rest of their lives!

And of course, not all longevity wisdom had been a myth. The study also confirmed things we already knew, such as having friends you can talk to about feelings will increase your lifespan. Interestingly, however, the size of the social network seems to be more important than the quality of friendships. Also, helping others will make you live longer.

This was a very interesting book and I read it cover-to-cover without reading other books at the same time--it was that engaging! It's relevance is across the board for everyone.
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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do NOT attempt to read on Kindle, March 14, 2011
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I just downloaded this book on my Kindle. So far the book is interesting but it is impossible to read the tiny text for the questions to test yourself. Even trying the huge typeface that Kindle offers, the tiny type remains too small to read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable abd worthwhile, with relevant suggestions for everyone, October 11, 2011
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

This is an outstanding book for a large number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that it is well written. The 222 pages of text information pass by in a moment for the precise reasons that you become involved in the book, the information is essential and important, the book is well-organized, but especially because it is an easy, comfortable read.

Second, there are thirteen pages of excellent notes. Friedman and Martin are researchers of the utmost credibility and reputation, and their notes reveal not just their expertise but, too, their desire to footnote (or credit) all sources they consulted. I feel that if readers can refer to such a complete set of references or notations (even if they choose not to!), not only does this add to the trustworthiness of the authors, but, too, to the believability, reliability, and dependability of the information.

Third, is a feature I included in an early edition of my textbook, COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY, 10th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2012), and have continued throughout all editions since (by popular demand) -- self-assessment scales with simple-to-understand explanations about how to score each of the quizzes. Now, you may think these quizzes are valuable for readers simply because they provide a way for them to measure how they rate on the chapter's topic of concern. That is one issue. More important for me, however, is how each of the self-assessment quizzes breaks down the topic into specific, practical, applicable items. For example, on the "neuroticism" quiz, you get ten items that cover such things as being affected by praise or blame, feeling miserable, being touchy on certain topics, being bothered by useless thoughts or burdened by a sense of remorse or regret, worry over humiliating experiences, feeling happy or sad, getting your feelings easily hurt, moodiness, and emotionality (pp. 42-43). You learn that that is how neuroticism is defined.

Fourth, I liked the findings of THE LONGEVITY PROJECT, and using the "eyeball test," I found they offered some valuable and worthwhile insights. For example, it has always been thought that your level of education was a good predictor of later health and longevity. Yes, this was a factor; however, "it was not an important factor compared to other personal and social predictors of health and long life" (p. 75). Conscientiousness, discussed in the first chapter of the book, and persistence were of greater importance. These are the kind of people "who were better able and better motivated to navigate life's personal and social challenges" (p. 75). This is just one of many examples. (There are 15 chapters in the book plus an epilogue.)

Fifth, the authors end each of their chapters with a section, "What It Means for You: Guideposts to Health and Long Life." If there is any thought that this book is just a series of reports about research results, these sections should dispel that notion. They serve various functions. They often review the material of the chapter; they sometimes offer a transition to the next chapter; they may examine some unanswered questions or areas where more research is needed. I found their most important function, however, is the motivation they offer readers for their pursuit of the trait or characteristic under discussion. I thought this was a brilliant and useful way to end the chapters.

Sixth, let me group a number of items here. I liked the short sections, the personal stories that enliven the research, the way research is incorporated, how the authors were able to relate their findings to other studies by researchers, and the manner in which Friedman and Martin came to definite and precise conclusions when they could.

Everyone will find something of value in this book. For me, it was the total package. This is an incredibly valuable and worthwhile book with great, relevant suggestions for living a longer, more vibrant, healthy life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars groundbreaking longterm overview of happiness and health, April 10, 2012
This review is from: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study (Paperback)
It turns out that being conscientious (prudent, well-organized, detail oriented, a worrier) is one of the strongest traits predictive of happiness, health and long life! This is basically the opposite of what we've been told for at least 15 years.

I've read much of what was published over the last 2 decades on this subject and found this wide-ranging book fascinating. The interpretations of some of the well-known research of the past several decades are confirmed (being friendly, having a large network and good social relationships is good for both happiness and health) but other advice has been overturned by what was learned in this 80-year study of 1,500 people, starting when they were children.

No area I can think of has been overlooked here and a surprising number of common beliefs turned out to be myths. Just some claims shown to be wrong are:
- the married live longer [only applies to men]
- extroverts/optimists are happier and healthier [they actually take too many risks, skip healthy actions and suffer more stress when things do go wrong]
- having a stable and successful career, even when this involves greater responsibility, longer hours and stress, is a positive influence
- religious people live longer [it's their abstemious lifestyle, social network and friendly/helper tendencies, not being religious]
- pets do not provide the social enrichment important to long life

Well-written, in a friendly and easy-to-read manner, nevertheless this book isn't simple to understand because it repeatedly warns against generalizing. For example:
"So the reason that healthy people like Emma are happy but happy people are not necessarily healthy is that living a certain lifestyle puts you on the paths to long life that simultaneously make you happy and fulfilled; but cheering yourself up with short-term pleasures will usually do nothing remarkable for your health
"...an artificial attempt to express gratitude...works (at cheering you up) in the short term but then falls by the wayside unless it strengthens social bonds
"It was not those who FELT the most connected and appreciated but those who had many actual ties in their social networks and who were engaged with helping others, who lived longest
"...participants who lived long happy lives....did not pursue happiness. They were happy and laughed BECAUSE they were healthy, wealthy and wise - their happiness was a by-product of their pathways to long life...mostly doing the right things will improve both your happiness and your health"

The authors stress that conscientious people tend to end up with good marriages and friendships as well as healthier work situations and conclude: "having a large social network, engaging in physical activities that naturally draw you in and are part of your daily routine [like gardening], enjoying and thriving in your career, and nurturing a healthy marriage or close friendships can do more than add many years to your life. Together they represent the living with purpose that that comes from working hard, reaching out to others, and bouncing back from difficult times...Striving for a socially richer and more productive life will increase the odds of a long life as well."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Longevity Project" a book you can bet your life on!, May 25, 2011
The myth and facts behind longevity. This book is easy to read. It is like a conversation between friends, over coffee, who recount their research experience in the study of why some people live a long life. As of the publication of the book, the study is still in process, because some of the subject were still alive.

Throughout the book, the authors offer questionnaires one can use to measure themselves with, to see how your responses compare to the experience of those that have lived a long or short life. Friedman and Martin point out in their conversation with the reader, how they are impressed with many of the myths that fly around the concept of a healthful long life. One myth is, if you jog on a regular bases, you will increase you life expectancy. They point out, if a twenty-one year old jogs daily, for an hour, to age sixty-six, they will have spent 14,400 hours, or 900 days, or two and one half years as joggers. They question, as researchers, is the lack specific data on life expectancy by way of exercise, and that a two and a half year extension of one's life would be note worthy. Yet, in their study of the subjects in the longevity project they found an absence of a correlation between exercise and life expectancy.

Friedman and Martin gently raise some very serious questions about the assumption of modern medicine and compare them against what does happen. Health care has a cure for all your ills; and, the medical / pharmaceutical industry, if they were able to, would create a "polyp ill" that one would take on a daily bases that would cure any and all of your ills. While medicine has reduced the average cholesterol in many people, by use of a pill, it has left us with an overweight general population because the medical / pharmaceutical industry wants to fix all issues, and have yet to find a cure for longevity, with a "poly pill".
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The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study
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