A few of my heroes.

Often I walk along my bookshelves, picking out some old books and start reading them again. This time my eye caught one of my all-time favourites: “Life Extension – A Practical Scientific Approach” by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw. I bought this book immediately after it was published in 1982. Yes, I was 27 years old and interested in Life Extension.

Life Extension: the book
Life Extension: the book

I liked it then and I still do, because Pearson and Shaw were true pioneers, brilliant people, who were willing to experiment on themselves. But they also based their self-experiments on a lot of scientific backup, with substances that probably not would extend their lives, but at least increase the quality of their lives. In their more than 800 pages book I also like the very short chapter called with the head: “Is there anything  perfectly safe?”. There is only one word in that chapter…….. NO…….
The book was followed by The Life Extension Companion (1983) and The Life Extension Weight Loss Program (1986)
It was the state-of-the-art book on many interesting and sports-related subjects: how to deal with jet-lag, nutrition for the brain, the use of antioxidants like BHT, vasopressin for memory enhancement, hormone replacement, the use of amino acids for weight loss and other interesting substances like Hydergine,  DMSO, GH-releasers, etc.


What has changed since that time?  For one, “life extension” or “anti-aging” have become mainstream and has finally gotten the attention of the “Babyboom” generation. It is no longer the field of outliers like Pearson and Shaw, but it has been the subject of serious study for many respectable scientists from different fields.
The molecular pathways of aging processes and key elements have been elucidated. Therefore, many more substances that influence the aging processes have been discovered or developed, like rapamycin, metformin, or resveratrol. The quest is far from over, but in 30 years many steps have been taken. But it always needs some brave pioneers like Pearson and Shaw to take the first steps and allow hardcore to become mainstream.
We know now that even pro-oxidants might have a positive effect. We understand in this moment that arginine might not work as much as a growth-hormone releaser, but through the NO-pathways.
But it doesn’t matter, pioneers will always stumble in the dark to switch on the light for you.

Durk Pearson and Dandy Shaw
Durk Pearson and Dandy Shaw

Pearson and Shaw also perfectly showed the ignorance of the majority that the same ideas that were ridiculed thirty years before, are now acknowledge and embraced. Why wait for thirty years, because it doesn’t fit you frame of reference? If you expand your frame of reference and accept that there are always people around that know what you don’t, or who understand what you don’t , you might again valuable time.

Keep your mind wide open for new ideas. They might look crazy or stupid now, but might be considered brilliant and ahead of time in thirty years. Knowledge, even yours, always has an expiry date, the trick is to find out when that moment has come and how to change your mind, without losing contact with reality.

My question: are they still alive, what are they doing right now? Google doesn’t provide much information about them.

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