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Customer Review

108 of 122 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 review is from: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade S tudy (Hardcover)
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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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 16, 2011 9:41:23 PM PDT
GVK says:
Was this a review of the book or enumeration of your "subjective opinions" on how you disagree? :)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2011 8:23:39 AM PDT
D_shrink says:
May I inquire as to what such a learned philosopher signing himself/herself as HIPPOCRATES finds objectionable with this review? ALL reviews are subjective in that they are given from the knowledge base and experiences of the reviewer, so in that context my review as well as EVERY OTHER review is ALWAYS subjective. However, in this review, I stated two points on which I disagreed and listed them as subjective. They were that animals don't increase your lifespan. Purely anecdotally, as I am an avowed animal lover, I feel that my two rescued dogs have benefited me personally in a generalized feeling of well being on a daily basis. The second subjective point listed being that of starting school early and skipping grades being somewhat detrimental. I also disagreed with those points anecdotally, as I BENEFITED from both. Other than that I gave a few other points I found interesting and said to read the book and then judge for yourself how you felt about it. In summation I stated I generally liked the book, which is a position I still maintain.

Posted on May 5, 2011 11:01:39 AM PDT
Concerning divorce and the adverse affect on children, 75% of divorces are filled by women. So much for women really wanting marriage(no marriage, no divorce) and the best for their children. Women need to be much more careful in picking a father for their children. Marriage is not ALL about the happiness of the woman. The best interest of the future child needs to be prominent. Too many desperate young women get pregnant to try to trap a man. They live to regret it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 2:12:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 15, 2011 2:14:31 AM PDT
Perhaps you are confusing happiness (affection from animals) with longevity. AS for starting education before your age cohort or skipping grades, they may again be satisfying intellectually, but both represent disconnects with your age cohort. As an individual with a PhD from MIT (who also failed second grade!) and a professor of 20+ years, I can assure you that intellect is not the key to longevity ... nor to happiness. Just the observation of one, but based on a sample of hundreds.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2011 8:34:35 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 19, 2011 8:37:21 AM PDT]

Posted on Aug 3, 2011 12:33:26 PM PDT
I was mostly interested in what the conclusions of the study were, and found the eight point summary very helpful. It saved me the time of reading the book not to mention the money of buying it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 2:44:25 AM PST
MsPicky says:
So, does this mean you are very elderly? Otherwise, what does happiness from a pet or benefit from early education have to do with longevity?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 7:12:17 AM PST
D_shrink says:
I wouldn't consider myself VERY elderly, but I do qualify for membership in AARP, if that helps you any. As for pets, in my case dogs, help alleviate many problems of aging. Most people socialize less with advancing age, so animals partially fill that void. Now, if you never liked or wanted pets, then I seriously doubt you would care about them as you aged, otherwise I think they help fill in some extra free time. Referring to the second part of your query, people with above average intelligence normally recognize issues to health more readily than others of somewhat lesser intelligence. At least in the majority of cases, that would be true. If that is true, then they would be in a better position to address minor problems in the beginning before they become major. Understanding that exercise, not smoking, and controlling your weight are good ideas would fall among what an intelligent person might do to extend longevity. Lots of people claim to understand those simple things, but how many actually follow them? But, I thank you for reading my review whatever your opinion. Happy New Year.

Posted on Jun 6, 2012 12:42:04 AM PDT
tommo_66 says:
No contradiction between #4 and #5. If she's not happy, chances are, he won't be either. At least that's conventional wisdom. ;-)

Posted on Mar 4, 2014 12:21:50 AM PST
lerndily says:
I want to thank the reviewer to summery the book to help me understand the points. I had hard time to read through the book (my English level). Every book or review is subjective, but we can try to be more objective. I have not gone through the book. I do not know if I can find the statistic data, figures, tables to prove their points or draw my own subjective conclusion. How many people in study lived over 100 years old? Overall, it is the most wonderful idea, a great project. Thank all the researchers and authors for their tireless and genius work.
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