Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Fascinating long report in today's NYTimes about research into longevity. Why do some people live long and vigorous lives and other people don't?

The answer is education. The more you've got, the longer you live. So long as you don't smoke.

A graduate student in economics at Columbia University was apparently the first researcher to put two and two together. She discovered that people started living longer in direct correlation to forced attendance at public schools. States began passing mandatory education laws about 100 years ago. Those forced to go to school for more years, even when they didn't want to (natch), tended to live longer.

More education equals better health. (Unless you SMOKE, goddamn it!) No other factor accounts for longer life ... not wealth, not race, not being chosen by God to tell other people how THEY should live.

And you can't max out, apparently, on education: might be expected that after a certain point, more years of school would not add to a person's life span. That, however, is not what the data shows. The education effect never wanes.
So, go on ... get that second doctorate!

Meanwhile, life for the uneducated tends toward the Hobbsian quartet of "nasty, poor, brutish, and short."
...less educated people are less able to plan for the future and to delay gratification.
Shouldn't take more than a nano-second to understand why instant gratification is bad for one's health, though you might not have associated the "want it now" habit of contemporary Americans with a lack of education.

The uneducated and hence unhealthy tendencies in our culture were fascinatingly showcased last night on the premier episode of the new Courtney Cox sleaze-fest, "Dirt," on FX. It's a mirror image of dumb-dumb America totally wrapped up in celebrity. It's sickening to behold. I couldn't take my eyes off it.

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