How to Live Longer: Truths and Myths


In any scientific research project, much of the drudgery of data gathering and handling falls to graduate students, who are apprenticed to more established researchers. Our particular project has attracted a number of remarkable graduate student researchers over the years, but after a while they tired of being known as students of "Dr. Friedman's longevity project developing the Terman data." Back in 2005, our graduate students decided that if the participants could be "Termites," then we researchers could be "Termanators." And so they hung a sign outside our lab door: The Termanator Lab. Because we were working at the University of California in Riverside, only about fifty miles east of Hollywood, the name seemed to fit. Despite the nonviolent nature of our work, the plot is the sameā€”to save human lives.


i. Lucille Ball's secret to staying young is quoted in A. Adams, An Uncommon Scold (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 17. Regarding the matter of eating fast (among the Terman participants), relevant information was recorded during a comprehensive medical exam the children underwent in 1922 in either San Francisco or Los Angeles. About half the boys and more than a third of the girls were classified as fast eaters. When we analyzed the longevity data eighty-five years later, we found absolutely no indication that eating slowly promotes longevity. ii. The New York Times obituary of Shelley Smith Mydans was published on March 9, 2002. Excerpt courtesy of Hudson Street Press, an imprint of Penguin.

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