Aug. 4th, 2006

liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
Both our internal information people and the local press are getting very excited because some Karolinska people have made some pretty good progress towards developing a test that will predict dementia 20 years ahead. [Press release, with links to the original article] It's cool science, no doubt about it, but I can't help wondering, would you want to take a test at the age of 50 that might predict that you had a high chance of being senile by the time you were 70? I guess it's the same problem as with any predictive medical testing: in the absence of a cure or even sensible prevention, what's the point of knowing?

I think it's the timescale that bothers me, in part; I don't have the same objection to, say, cervical smears which tell me whether I might be at risk for cancer in the coming few years. That allows me to do something about it in terms of possibly readjusting my life plans. But I can't plan on the basis of some terrible thing that might happen in 20 years' time; I'd just have to live with the knowledge that this was likely to happen to me, which I don't think would be good psychologically.

It's true that almost everybody expects to be mortal (the exceptions are a few religious people and a few quasi-religious geeks who think the Singularity is going to cure death). So you always have to run your life on the basis that you have a few decades at best and possibly even less. But I'd still rather not know the probable time and manner of my demise more than a few years in advance, I think.

In non-morbid news: Stockholm is full of magicians and flamboyantly gay people with rainbow banners at the moment. I find this very cool, it's a bit like living in the Paul Gallico novel The man who was magic.

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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