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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon March 8, 2011
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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