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From Vox:

Study: many of the “oldest” people in the world may not be as old as we think
A new paper explores what “supercentenarians” have in common. Turns out it’s bad record-keeping.

A supercentarian is 110. Practically nobody makes it to 110.

However, people living to be 100 is become less rare. Mrs. W. across the street from me died recently at 101. And when Claude Levi-Strauss died at age 100 in 2009, the 3 headlines in the NYT Obituary section that day averaged 101, the first time I’d ever seen that.

By Kelsey Piper Aug 8, 2019, 12:00pm EDT

Why do some regions — say, Sardinia, Italy, or Okinawa, Japan —produce dozens of these “supercentenarians” while other regions produce none? Is it genetics? Diet? Environmental factors? Long walks at dawn?

A new working paper released on bioRxiv, the open access site for prepublication biology papers, appears to have cleared up the mystery once and for all: It’s none of the above.

Instead, it looks like the majority of the supercentenarians (people who’ve reached the age of 110) in the United States are engaged in — intentional or unintentional — exaggeration.

The paper, by Saul Justin Newman of the Biological Data Science Institute at Australian National University, looked at something we often don’t give a second thought to: the state of official record-keeping. …

Newman looks at the introduction of birth certificates in various states and finds that “the state-specific introduction of birth certificates is associated with a 69-82% fall in the number of supercentenarian records.” …

The paper also looks at the phenomenon in Italy and Japan, where something different seems to be happening.

Italy keeps better vital statistics than the United States does, and has had reliable vital statistics across the country for hundreds of years — yet in Italy, too, there are clusters of the country where lots of supercentenarians pop up. Maybe the Italian supercentenarians are for real?

Newman’s analysis suggests not. He starts out by noticing something fishy: The parts of Italy that claim the most supercentenarians overall have high crime rates and low life expectancy.

… The same pattern repeats itself in Japan: Okinawa has the greatest density of super-old people, despite having one of the lowest life expectancies in the country and generally poor health outcomes.

… some of it might be reporting error, and some of the supercentenarians might be produced by pension fraud (someone might be claiming a dead person is still alive for pension benefits, or claiming the identity of a parent or older sibling).

About 50 years ago, yogurt was becoming a mainstream product in Southern California supermarkets. One way it was marketed was by pointing to the large numbers of centenarians in Armenia. The long-livedness of Armenians was attributed to eating yogurt.

Years later, it was finally figured out that Armenia in 1969 didn’t actually have a huge number of 100+ year old men, it had a huge number of draft dodgers who had escaped the 25 year terms in the Czar’s army by assuming the identity of a dead father or uncle who was too old to be drafted.

But I didn’t care. Knudsen fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt was delicious and as long as my mom kept buying it, I was happy.

… When you’re looking for something exceptionally rare, your data set will be dominated by errors and false positives.

Improbably old ex-slaves were pretty common when I was a kid, too. For example, Charlie Smith was a minor celebrity in the early 1970s for his claim to be a 130 year old native of Africa. In 1972, he was invited to watch the night launch of Apollo 17 from the VIP area.

Before the launch, he’d been confident in his skepticism: “”th’ ain’t nobody goin’ t’ no moon. Me, you, or anybody else.”

But when the 365′ tall Saturn V thundered off into the sky he almost jumped out of his skin. He recovered enough of his bravado to tell TV:

“I see they goin’ somewhere, but that don’t mean nothin’.”

I recall watching these interviews on TV, but I can’t find a video of it. It seemed at the time like the most 1972ish thing imaginable, but weird stuff like that happened all the time back then.

 
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  1. “110-Year-Old People Usually Aren’t 110 Years Old”

    not today, but they will be before 2100.

    so what to do about inheritance tax, political term limits or lack thereof, and so forth, when the elites live to 100 years old in relatively decent health, as billions of dollars turn into trillions thru compound interest?

    imagine if vampires were real and they had compound interest fortunes built over hundreds of years. our future elites won’t be far off from that.

  2. “Improbably old ex-slaves were pretty common when I was a kid, too.”

    there was one from Brazil a few years ago, or at least i think he was from Brazil. some guy claiming to be from the 1800s and be 130 years old or some such. he claimed to know the layout of old slave plantations from memory, from when he was a young kid and living on them, and according to experts, his details were correct. but i haven’t heard anything about him since. also can’t remember the name or find him on the internet after a quick search.

  3. You’re only as old as you feel.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  4. Anon[191] • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t really pay that much attention to my birthdays, and until I thought about it for a moment I didn’t know how old I was. Well, I knew plus or minus one year.

    Japan has a lot of missing centenarians, most of whom are accounting errors (Japan has a city-based family registry system), but others are old’uns who become bedridden, and shirvel and shrink and eventually their caretaker daughters notice they don’t seem to be excreting any more, and they mummify, and, well, heck they turn out to be dead … but let’s not rock the boat because the national pension is still being deposited into the bank account. Where was mom’s hanko stamp anyway?

    When this was going down there would be news stories about teams of city officials visiting the addresses of centenarians, and asking to see them. Japan is super polite about this. They have to talk the householder into letting them in, no SWAT entry. This same approach is used for rat-infested hoarder houses, and even for most criminals when the police come to arrest someone. A peaceful, socially homogeneous society (with no guns) allows for this kind of behavior. But when there is a recalcitrant citizen, the system breaks down, and you can see how delicate and fragile social norms are, as the U.S. has found, and Sweden is finding out.

    234,000 centenarians listed in registries missing
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2010/09/11/national/234000-centenarians-listed-in-registries-missing/#.XU_NZy-B0UE

    Japan, Checking on Its Oldest, Finds Many Gone
    https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/asia/15japan.html

    More than 230,000 Japanese centenarians ‘missing’ – BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11258071

    Thousands of Japanese centenarians may have died decades ago
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/10/japenese-centenarians-records

    • Agree: Commentator Mike
    • Replies: @Bubba
  5. People like about their age? Who’d have thunk it?

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  6. El Dato says:

    For example, Charlie Smith was a minor celebrity in the early 1970s for his claim to be a 130 year old native of Africa.

    Ain’t nobody going there.

    It’s just playing with curve fitting but:

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10522-008-9156-4 (paywalled)

    Theoretical estimation of maximum human lifespan

    First Online: 17 June 2008

    The existence of maximum human lifespan remains a puzzle in aging research. Maximum human lifespan is believed to be around 125 years, whereas current demographic trends seem to show no limitation. To reconcile this contrast, the estimation of maximum human lifespan requires an adequate mathematical model. However, sparse data of available old-age mortality pattern make the estimation impossible. Here we suggest an extended Weibull model for the estimation using a proper mathematical method based on survival probability pattern. We find a tendency that survival probability is maximized in modern human survival curves. Based on such tendency, we develop an estimation method for maximum human lifespan and indeed obtain about 126 years from periodic life tables for Swedish female between 1950 and 2005. Despite uncertainty from available mortality data, our approach may offer quantitative biodemographic opportunities linking aging and survival kinetics.

  7. True enough on the ‘more people living to be 100’ thing. At the last paper I worked at, we wouldn’t even mention them unless relatives paid for a happy birthday ad, or, in a few cases I’d write a 15-inch story about them if they had done something notable, or been a witness to area history eight or nine decades ago. In one case, it was two women living in the same nursing home turning 100 the same month (one of them told me she was looking forward to death and then started crying … awkward!! BTW, left that part out of the story).

    There’s actually quite a few people aged 95 to, say, 103, that are in relatively decent physical and mental shape.

  8. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Calment said to be 122 (1875 – 1997). But it is quite likely that in the 1930ies she cheated and said, she was her mother in order to avoid death duty. Which worked.

    If she would not have taken over the birth date of her mother, she would not only have been the oldest person of record in the world, but also the oldest smoker, since she loved to smoke and did so until the “age” of 118.

    Here are some good reasons to doubt her story

    https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/rej.2018.2167

    • Replies: @Jack D
  9. Also, does this mean PBS won’t run all those “Secrets of the World’s Oldest People” specials? Nah, lying is something PBS is fond of for narrative reasons.

  10. Genesis 6:3

    And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

  11. While claims of individuals being 110 years or older are improbable, there can be a very long stretch of time that elapses between grandparents and their grandchildren.

    For example, it surprises a lot of people that the grandsons of John Tyler, our tenth president, are still alive (or at least they were, when I last read about them).

    John Tyler was born 229 years ago, in 1790, the first year of George Washington’s presidency.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-two-of-president-john-tylers-grandsons-are-still-alive/

    • Replies: @AndrewR
    , @MBlanc46
  12. However, people living to be 100 is become less rare.

    I’m rather more concerned about the hordes of “child” refugees who have full beards and receding hairlines.

  13. Bill P says:

    But I didn’t care. Knudsen fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt was delicious and as long as my mom kept buying it, I was happy.

    My 5yo loves that kind of yogurt. He won’t let me stir it because he so enjoys eating the syrupy fruit at the bottom.

    As for people living well past 100, I think you must really want it or else have rock-solid healthy habits that you refuse to give up. The really old men in my family, and there have been a few, didn’t seem to care about living a really long time, but they liked doing things that were good for them. Long walks early in the morning and golf are a couple examples.

  14. … someone might be claiming a dead person is still alive for pension benefits, or claiming the identity of a parent or older sibling).

    Not ‘might’ … it’s been proven in a number of cases in Japan.

    I did have a woman neighbour in the 1970’s who was a US Civil War widow, but only because she married the guy when he was in his 80s and she was 16.

    • Replies: @E e
  15. hhsiii says:

    I remember the old yogurt eaters being from Georgia (Soviet, not Scarlett o’Hara, Georgia). I think it was an old Dannon ad.

    • Replies: @Hodag
  16. eD says:

    I read some time ago that the maximum possible human lifespan was 125 years old, and that is a hard limit having to do with the lifespans of cells and how many times they can divide. None of the presumed record-holders for “oldest human being” have been claimed in modern times to have lived more than 125, and the interesting thing about Steve’s post, which is one of his better ones, is that even the people who were claimed to have gotten close probably didn’t get that close to the limit. Getting even close to the limit is very rare.

    The latest figures I can find on average world life expectancy, for 2017, is 72.2 years, with Japan being the country with the highest world life expectancy at 85 years (I don’t count Monaco). I mention this because I keep running into people on the internets and in daily life to think these figures are much higher than they are. No, even if you do everything exactly right and are long lived, you will probably die in your 70s and 80s if everything goes right, and if you get to live to 100 years old you won’t be doing all that much afterwards.

    • Replies: @Travis
  17. Knudsen fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt was delicious and as long as my mom kept buying it, I was happy.

    I was big on Dannon’s boysenberry yogurt, but it seems to have disappeared. It was once one of the top flavors. The trick, though, is to buy yogurt plain and flavor it yourself. I did find boysenberry jam on the shelf at a country store recently– it was one of about thirty flavors. That’s how many you need to get down to boysenberry, it seems.

    (BTW, Jeff’s Kindle “corrects” boysenberry to blueberry. That’s how far the fruit has fallen.)

    ….the large numbers of centenarians in Armenia

    Another cluster big at the time was in the isolated Hunza region of (West) Pakistan. Renee Taylor (not the actress, who’s still alive) wrote popular books about the place.

    I remember thinking, maybe the 110-year-old guy is really only 85. But he’d be a horse-riding, polo-playing 85. Nothing wrong with that!

    • Replies: @Alden
  18. dearieme says:

    “Italy keeps better vital statistics than the United States does, and has had reliable vital statistics across the country for hundreds of years”: the country hasn’t been a country for hundreds of years. The Kingdom of Italy was founded in 1861.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Alden
  19. Hodag says:
    @hhsiii

    Soviet Georgia.

    • Replies: @AndrewR
  20. dearieme says:

    The Queen Mum died at 101 years, 238 days. It just shows the preserving power of a cheerful disposition and the enjoyment of snifters.

    It was also a good idea not to catch the Spanish ‘flu, and not to be male. One brother died in the Great War and a second was wounded and captured.

    • Replies: @black sea
    , @Dan Hayes
    , @E e
  21. black sea says:
    @dearieme

    Not having to fret over money for even one day of your life may help as well.

    • Replies: @dearieme
    , @JimB
    , @AndrewR
  22. pyrrhus says:
    @prime noticer

    This future was foreseen in the Sci-fi novel ‘The Space Merchants’….

  23. dearieme says:
    @black sea

    True, but then fretting as your husband smokes himself to death probably acts in the other direction.

  24. JimB says:
    @black sea

    “The Queen Mum died at 101 years, 238 days. It just shows the preserving power of a cheerful disposition and the enjoyment of snifters.”

    Not having to fret over money for even one day of your life may help as well.

    As does having all the great physicians of the world at your beck and call while your subjects get fed into the NHS malpractice machine.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @AndrewR
    , @Anon
  25. markflag says:

    Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soon Mei-ling) was born in 1897 and died in 2003. Both events well-attested. The biography by Laura Tyson Li includes the following line in the prologue that is very evocative: “She was born . . . on the cusp of the nineteenth century, and lived to see the twenty-first.”

    • Replies: @dearieme
  26. LOL I remember the yogurt thing. Those old people in the commercials. That is still what I think about whenever this topic comes up.

    • Replies: @tyrone
  27. When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not, hmmm?

  28. joey says:

    “Little Big Man” by Thomas Berger and turned into the probably more famous movie staring Dustin Hoffman was built around the conceit of a supercentarian raised by Indians. It seems to have been a popular idea in that era.

    Berger has had a interestingly weird range of movies adapted from his books.

    I had a great aunt who everyone said was 102 at her death, and who was, come to find out, born before the time of birth registrations. While doing the family history, when I looked at all the original censuses of the area, she was in everyone of them, and they consistently pointed to her being 98 at the time of her death. Of course nobody in the family wanted to hear anything about that. I think the big-round-number age of “100” caries a lot of cache and if the old bag wanted to be 100 everybody was happy to let her be that.

  29. Jack D says:
    @dearieme

    I think he meant “the territory which is now the country of Italy”. The Church was the one that kept the records, not the civil authorities. The Church was concerned with marriage, birth (baptism) and death. There were many different rulers but only one Church.

    • Agree: AndrewR
    • Replies: @dearieme
  30. tyrone says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    I remember the scandinavian women …….result ,a lifetime of yogurt eating

  31. Travis says:
    @eD

    true , but for those Americans who live to 65 almost half will live to 85 years-old. The longer you’ve already lived… the longer you can expect to live! For a male at sixty-five, median remaining longevity is about twenty-four years

    A 65 year-old woman has a 50/50 chance of living another 21 years to age 86
    a 65 year-old man has a 50/50 chance of living another 18 years to age 83

    Many people make this common mistake — confusing life expectancies at birth with remaining life expectancies at your current age. Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that the 85-and over age group is the fastest-growing age group in America:

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  32. Jack D says:

    I’ve been looking at some family genealogy stuff recently and half of my relatives added significantly to their age when they immigrated. I think they were more concerned at that point about not being drafted into the US Army than they were about collecting social security early. Despite what people think, most of the Polish vital records were not destroyed in the war (I have been to the archives in Radom and seen my father’s family records with my own eyes – very cool when they brought out the dusty books) but after the war no one was checking so you were whatever age you said you were.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  33. AndrewR says:
    @PiltdownMan

    My dad’s dad’s dad was a civil war veteran and I often wonder how many people born after my birth year – 1984 – can say that. I’d be surprised if there were 100 people nationwide who could say this. If I ever have kids I will be the fourth generation of old-ass dads. It would be cool to have a kid in 2040 on the 200th anniversary of my great-grandfather’s birth.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  34. anon[368] • Disclaimer says:

    As we get deeper into the 21st century, I imagine there will be a never ending supply of increasingly super-supercentenarian Shoah survivors.

  35. anon[368] • Disclaimer says:
    @JimB

    “As does having all the great physicians of the world at your beck and call while your subjects get fed into the NHS malpractice machine.”

    Depends on what you call “great” or “physician.” I recall that the royals are into homeopathy… make of that what you will.

  36. neir says:

    there are many famous people living to 110, whose entire life is fairy well documented

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_Youguang

  37. AndrewR says:
    @JimB

    Strictly speaking, she never had subjects. She was born as the subject of her daughter’s great-great-grandmother and died as the subject of her daughter. But yes I know that whole family has good doctors. It’s amazing Philip is almost 100, and Elizabeth herself seems very likely to make it past 100. Her dad died so young too.

  38. It is worth noting that Roberta McCain, the late Senator’s mother, is 107 years old.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberta_McCain

    • Replies: @AndrewR
  39. My grandmother lived to be 105. She outlived my grandfather by 48 years.

  40. Jack D says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Calment may have lied but there are plenty of other record holders in the range of 113 to 119 and at least some of them are well verified. (Usually the “oldest person alive” record holder only last a short time – a 115 year old dies and then then next 114 year old comes up and only holds the record for a few months or a year and then he or she dies too).

    The fact that Calment was a good 3 years older than any other record holder is good reason to be suspicious. Survival drops off significantly after 113. The oldest American lived to 119 but by the time you get to #100 you’re in the 113’s. But that shows you how rare it is – out of all the hundreds of millions of Americans who have lived and died, only (a maximum of) 64 have celebrated their 114th birthday.

    It should also be noted that very few people are intact at age 110+ – in most cases they are living in nursing homes and have significant impairments – they often are in wheelchairs, are deaf or blind, etc. so you have to question their quality of life.

  41. AndrewR says:
    @black sea

    Living in Buckingham Palace for the entire Blitz was pretty stressful. Of course the UK never should have gone to war with Germany but what do I know?

  42. AndrewR says:
    @PiltdownMan

    Yeah. Her identical twin died in 2011.

    John McCain was a horrible senator and a horrible human being but it was still sad to see his mother bury him. Even 81 is too young to die if your mother is still alive.

  43. AndrewR says:
    @Hodag

    What an insultingly dishonest ad. Did people really fall for it?

  44. If this is your thing try Ronald Firbank’s Valmouth, the only non-scifi novel known to me in which most of the characters are centenarians. Oddly, it’s about as short as a novel can be — only 89 pages.

  45. Anonymous[337] • Disclaimer says:
    @prime noticer

    Biden is like what 104 ?

    • LOL: Old Prude
  46. FUBSY says:

    Among his many tales, Charlie Smith also claimed to have known/ridden with Jesse James!

  47. @John Derbyshire

    How odd, a short novel about people with long lives. Usually it is the other way around and one wishes the author would just kill his characters sooner and get it over with.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  48. Art Deco says:

    The advent of birth registration and the digitization of census returns make this sort of fraud quite a bit more difficult to pull off nowadays. An example of this would be supposed Civil War veterans. A mess of people who passed themselves off as such were later discovered to be frauds and can readily be detected nowadays by examining digitized census records. The Guiness Book of World Records for years ca. 1973 listed a man named John B. Salling as the last surviving Civil War veteran. He appears in the 1860 Census as a toddler, living with two women who would appear to be his mother and great-grandmother.

  49. Art Deco says:
    @Jack D

    Prior to 1940, conscription had only been practiced in this country during general mobilizations. There was one instituted in 1863, but the net result was that large numbers of people were excused with the payment of bounties and the recruitment of substitutes. The number of men actually drafted was in the low five digits. The first successful conscription was the one instituted in 1917 and 1918. However, men with dependents could apply for an exemption and about 3/4 of such applications were approved by local draft boards.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Logan
  50. @Jack D

    Usually the “oldest person alive” record holder only lasts a short time

    Look at the bright side: “world’s oldest person” is a designation you can keep for life.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  51. @John Derbyshire

    It speaks poorly of his imagination that he had so little to say. But it speaks well of his character that he didn’t pad out his book.

  52. Jack D says:
    @Art Deco

    Most of my relatives came after WWII. A couple who were of declared draft age did end up getting drafted. TBH, I think this ended up being helpful for them – their English was better and they were more assimilated than some of my other relatives (although they were not necessarily more economically successful) but if they had gotten killed in Korea it wouldn’t have been a good outcome for them. During the Korean War they drafted people up to age 35.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  53. inertial says:

    Years later, it was finally figured out that Armenia in 1969 didn’t actually have a huge number of 100+ year old men, it had a huge number of draft dodgers who had escaped the 25 year terms in the Czar’s army by assuming the identity of a dead father or uncle who was too old to be drafted.

    That’s an interesting theory but, in the Russian Empire, nearly all Armenians were exempt from military service.

    (Source: Geographic-Statistical Dictionary of the Russian Empire, 1963-1865.)

  54. Anon[271] • Disclaimer says:
    @JimB

    I know a guy who says he’s got 200K+ in medical bills to pay (serious health issues, no insurance), and he needs more surgery. He’d trade it all for the NHS in a second. Trump is never going to get the votes of guys like this.

    • Replies: @JimB
    , @Achmed E. Newman
  55. jb says:

    Hmm…, I had thought my piano teacher, who passed away about 10 years ago, had lived to be 106, but I just looked up her obituary and it turns out she only made it to 100, which is much less remarkable. (She already seemed ancient to me when I was taking lessons in the 70’s).

  56. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:

    The yogurt health fad still persists, although these days it’s about Greek yogurt, Icelandic yogurt, full-fat yogurt, etc.

  57. @John Derbyshire

    Thanks Derb. Just got it from Amazon Kindle for $0.99.

  58. Anon7 says:

    I wonder if the rise you speak of correlates to increasingly common welfare or pension payments. In other words, if failing to report grandpa’s death results in grandpa’s check continuing to arrive, I’ll bet that scenario will become more common.

    …police found that Sogen Kato, listed as Tokyo’s oldest man, had been dead for more than three decades. They discovered his mummified corpse, still in its bedclothes, at the home of his octogenarian daughter and her family, 32 years after he reportedly retreated to his room to become a “living Buddha.”

    Relatives of Kato, who would have been 111, have been arrested on suspicion of abandoning a body and receiving millions of yen in pension payments.

    https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2010/0810/In-graying-Japan-scandal-over-missing-100-year-olds

  59. Dan Hayes says:
    @dearieme

    dearieme:

    Agreed. The Queen Mother was well pickled, imbibing relatively prodigious amounts of variously disguised ethanol up to her very last days!

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  60. Instead, it looks like the majority of the supercentenarians (people who’ve reached the age of 110) in the United States are engaged in — intentional or unintentional — exaggeration.

    I thought this was alway pretty obvious and not just for the US, but internationally. Somehow the world’s oldest people seemed to come from the same places as “the men with gold chains”. Not exactly bastions of honesty or diligent corruption-free public record keeping.

  61. @Buzz Mohawk

    You just won the thread, that’s excellent!

  62. E e says:

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed in obituaries for people over 110, an awful lot either never had children, or have no surviving children or grandchildren. Now, maybe you could convince me that children age their parents, but it’s awfully convenient for not correcting someone’s age if there aren’t children and grandchildren around…

  63. Art Deco says:
    @Jack D

    The application of the conscription law instituted in 1940 was such that the practice did not apply to men over a certain age. The age was adjusted multiple times, but after 1946 was fixed at your 26th birthday. Except for the period running from the fall of 1943 to the fall of 1945, men with dependent children were exempt. Some years, draft calls were quite low: nil in 1947 and fewer than 1,000 in 1948 and 1973, to take three examples. Pretty sure foreign nationals were categorically exempt.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @JMcG
  64. E e says:
    @dearieme

    The Royal Family seems almost like a natural experiment on the effects of smoking… The people who don’t smoke or quit smoking at a young age have lived to ripe old ages, while the ones who smoked have died relatively young… (And a nice genetically related sample…)

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  65. NYMOM says:

    Reminds me of a course I took in college about ancient China…one of the things they had was a poll tax which taxed you on the number of people in your family as determined by a census they took every decade or so. I forget why but one of the Emperor decided to abolish the tax and during the next two census they had an unexplained increase in their population.

    Our professor was running thru a number of elaborate reasons why this happened: less taxes more money in your pocket led to people feeling freer to have more children, maybe not expose unwanted children etc., but I always thought the obvious answer was the additional people were there all along but not reported as people didn’t want to be taxed on them.

    Additionally I just read somewhere that all those girls they thought were missing in China maybe weren’t aborted at all. They were just never reported to the authorities so the parents could be allowed to try again and have a son…these unreported children are known as ‘black’ children because they are not recorded in any records so they don’t exist officially. Thus they can’t be used for tax credits or get any benefits from government, maybe not even allowed to go to college. They are now turning up in Australia appealing for citizenship due to their ‘black’ or unrecorded status.

    Never unestimate the human capacity for outsmarting the system…

    • Replies: @JMcG
  66. E e says:
    @The Alarmist

    Didn’t the last Civil War widow die this millennium? I think it wss a similar case of marrying an old man at a young age…

    • Replies: @Corn
  67. @Redneck farmer

    “People like about their age? Who’d have thunk it?”

    Especially women: It’s a binary thing, they’re 29 until the day they turn 102.

    • LOL: Achmed E. Newman
  68. dearieme says:
    @Jack D

    And yet a friend who is a retired epidemiologist told me that he found it prudent to treat Italian records as unusually unreliable.

  69. dearieme says:
    @markflag

    That was my point about the Queen Mum. When she claimed to be Queen Mum there was no doubt she was. Whereas we often have no idea whether Signora Wotsername is who she claims to be.

  70. ““I see they goin’ somewhere, but that don’t mean nothin’.” ”

    That’s right. You learn something if you listen old people. They ain’t all fools. You don’t get to be old being no fool. They’s a lot of wise young men just deader’n a motherfucker out there, ain’t they?

  71. AceDeuce says:

    Re: all the self-proclaimed “ex-slaves” that were around in the 60s-70s. It reminds me of the “Tuskegee Airmen” Fewer than 1000 pilots were trained there, of which only 355 went overseas. Even factoring in the inclusion of ground/support troops, there were no more than a few thousand people-some of those white. The youngest of any of them would be in their mid-late 90s by now, but it seems like every time you turn around there’s one or more still around giving speeches or accepting awards. LOL. Every black guy over 70 with a blue blazer and a necktie seems to be a “Tuskegee Airman”.

    Concerning Jeanne Calment in France-wasn’t there a lawyer in France-a younger guy, who, wanting her prime real estate apartment for himself, started paying her a monthly retainer when she was supposed to be 90, so he could have dibs on it when she croaked. (I guess that’s common in France) giving her some dough while she was alive, and giving him the place for a pittance once she died in a few years. She lived 30 more years, and along the way, the lawyer died, leaving his survivors on the hook paying the monthly stipend until she finally kicked.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    , @Anonymous
  72. @Dan Hayes

    There is a story about how the government in the 80s wanted to reduce her allowance because the Queen Mum liked the very best. She pointed out that she probably wouldn’t live that much longer and they gave in. She lived at least another 20 years. Cagey old bird.

  73. Alden says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Buy a Quart of plain yogurts and a little container of blueberries. Cook the blueberries with sugar and a little water till the berries pop. Layer yogurt and half the blueberries in a blender and give it a whirl till blended

    Layer the yogurt and rest of the blueberries back in the container stirring as you go. To die for.

    Do the same thing with fresh raspberries and strawberries you’ve macerated in sugar for at least 12 hours. Black and boysenberries can cooked like the blueberries or fresh like the strawberries and rasberries. Cherries use the frozen ones totally thawed and sugared. Read the label to see if the cherries already have sugar in them

    Cucumber soup Quart of plain yogurt Read the label twice to make sure it’s not icky lemon or vanilla. 4 or 4 cucumbers cut in half lengthwise seeds removed no need to peel. A lemon salt cilantro parsley

    Cut all but one cucumber in big chunks layer with most of the herb a little salt and lemon juice in the blender and whirl till blended Chop up remaining cucumber bite size pieces also the herbServe in bowls with chopped cucumber and herb on top. Delicious as good as the blueberry.

    Could try some mint or basil instead of cilantro and parsley. Might want to make a cup of it to taste first. Put a little cilantro in the blender whirl taste and add more if you like. If you put too much cilantro in, just add more yogurt or sour cream cottage cheese cream cheese ricotta whatever you have around

    Also a big blob of plain yogurt or sour cream in mashed potatoes and substitute some plain yogurt or sour cream for milk when making cake.

  74. Bubba says:
    @Anon

    Thanks, now I know why Japan has the highest government debt-to-GDP ratio in the world.

  75. @Jack D

    Here in Austin TX we had a 115 year old black WWII veteran who smoked cigars and said he was fond of a whiskey and 7UP before going to bed. The media fawned over this man to the extent he had almost as much coverage as Trump, his being positive however.

  76. Alden says:
    @dearieme

    The Kingdoms principalities duchies communes republics independent cities papal territories Spanish kingdom and Austrian territories of the Italian peninsula all kept excellent records for hundreds of years.

    Does that satisfy your nit picking self?

    • Replies: @dearieme
  77. My next door neighbour lived to be 104 and many in the street made it to their late 90s. This was a quiet street in a pleasant Hertfordshire suburb. Most of these old people were housewives who had never worked. Apart from childbirth I don’t think there had been much stress in their lives. I lived there in the 1990s and it hadn’t changed much since the 1930s when it was built. I think this lack of change and lack of stress was the secret to their longevity.

  78. Actor Norman Lloyd is still with us at 104.

    BTW, check out the cast of “unknowns” who worked with Lloyd on St. Elsewhere.

  79. Jack D says:
    @Art Deco

    I don’t think men with immigrant visas were exempt.

  80. JMcG says:
    @miss marple

    You’re only as old as the girls you feel. Unless you’re Epstein. Then you’re dead.

  81. JMcG says:
    @International Jew

    In aviation there’s a saying: You cant break the record for flying low, you can only tie it.

  82. MBlanc46 says:
    @PiltdownMan

    Thanks for this. I was surprised by it when I read a Tyler biography in 2009. As far as I could ascertain, the grandson was still alive at that time.

  83. JMcG says:
    @Art Deco

    Nope. My father and my uncle were drafted within a year of arriving here. My uncle was on the train to the east coast with Elvis.

  84. JMcG says:
    @NYMOM

    A lot of those girls were adopted and are now in school with my kids.

    • Replies: @NYMOM
  85. Hibernian says:
    @Jack D

    I’m skeptical that 35 year olds were drafted for Korea, at least in any numbers. Korea presaged Vietnam in many ways, and draftees over 40 were soon released in WW2, when over 10 million American men were in uniform. Korea was not a general mobilization; a fair number of Guard and Reserves were called out, but not all, or nearly all, as in WW1 and WW2.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    , @Steve Sailer
  86. JimB says:
    @Anon

    I know a guy who says he’s got 200K+ in medical bills to pay (serious health issues, no insurance), and he needs more surgery. He’d trade it all for the NHS in a second. Trump is never going to get the votes of guys like this.

    Shouldn’t ObamaCare have taken care of his medical bills? Or does he have a bunch of home equity and a coin collection that he doesn’t want to give up? Or did his medical bills result from a botched operation to lengthen his penis? The guy you know probably opted for something out side the standard of care so his private insurance wouldn’t pay, hence his bill. Guess what? An NHS like program in the US will provide even fewer options than his private insurer or Medicare and hew to an even lower standard of care than is current in US hospitals. Medicare for everyone is Medicaid for everyone, and that means old doctors, Indian and Muslim quacks, botched surgeries, long waits for treatment, and one-and-done cancer treatment.

  87. Prosa123 says:

    The newspaper in my former Connecticut hometown has its obituaries online for free. Every so often I peruse them looking for familiar names. Call me cynical, but whenever I see an obituary for someone under age 40 or so who died “suddenly” or “unexpectedly,” I presume overdose. Though I’ve seen a few in which the family makes it completely clear that the person overdosed.

  88. NYMOM says:
    @JMcG

    “A lot of those girls were adopted and are now in school with my kids…”

    I am not sure if these children are really cases of “black” children in China since I believe a record would have to be kept for adopted children; whereas with “black” children there appears to be no record of their existence until they turn up somewhere usually as young adults and then it’s like “whoa, who are you, when/where were you born, etc.”.

    The major point of my story however; is, I believe you have to drill down into the story behind the story to really know what’s going on with people.

    For example, I keep hearing the numbers throw around of 30/40 million illegals in this country; yet, I keep seeing people interviewed on U-tube claiming to have crossed illegally two or three times back into the US after being deported…

    I mean are we just re-counting the same people over and over again as they cross back each time we deport them or what???

    Bottom line, people will find a way to subvert any system you have to organize things, I guess it’s human nature.

  89. @AndrewR

    My dad’s dad’s dad was in his thirties by the time the Civil War happened. I wonder if men who have older dads are more likely to put off marriage and are more likely to father children when they are older, and whether men who have memories of twenty something dads tend to start their families early?

    Of course, women are known to be much more strongly driven in these matters, but the age when a man settles down may well be correlated to the age when his dad settled down. If that is so, I bet the number of people with patrilineal great-grandfathers who were born in the 1840s or earlier is significantly greater than 100. Of course, that’s likely a much larger number than the number of people whose great-grandads actually fought in the Civil War.

  90. @Jack D

    I don’t think men with immigrant visas were exempt.

    I knew a guy at work who was here with a green-card in the late Sixties, got drafted as soon as he finished graduate school, and did a tour of combat duty in Vietnam.

  91. Not Raul says:

    Ancient Roman cemeteries had a relatively large number of gravestones that said the deceased lived to be 100.

    This was mainly due to widespread illiteracy and innumeracy, even among elite segments of society.

    In fact, one way of estimating innumeracy in a population is asking people their age. If a suspiciously large percentage of people give you answers that end with a zero, it is likely that many of them are innumerate.

  92. Art Deco says:
    @AceDeuce

    IIRC, his name was Andre-Francois Raffray and he paid her sums of money from 1965 until he died in 1995. She lived another two years. Never heard his family was on the hook. She died in a nursing home and hadn’t lived in the apartment in question in some time.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  93. Art Deco says:
    @Jack D

    Not categorically exempt. Criteria specified here:

    https://www.sss.gov/About/History-And-Records/Non-Citizens-and-Dual-Nationals

    They’d have been categorically dispensed for a year. After that, contingent on unspecified ifs.

    Recall also that in that era most men had sired their first child before their 24th birthday.

  94. Art Deco says:
    @Hibernian

    In that era, you were excused from conscription on your 26th birthday. Also, those who had completed their service – and those who had WWii service were so defined – were excused unless they were in the Reserves. So, persons born prior to the spring of 1924 would have been excused as would any WWii veterans born between the middle of 1924 and the middle of 1927. Roughly 40% of the 1927 cohort had WWii service and the shares were higher for the 1926, 1925, and 1924 cohorts. A certain share of those who did not from those cohorts were disqualified when examined and would have remained so 5-11 years later.

  95. @Not Raul

    Babe Ruth is listed as having been born in 1895 but he always said he was born on the same date in 1894, making him one year older than he was officially. Officially, Babe Ruth remained a dangerous hitter thru age 39, then dropped off a cliff and retired at 40. But Ruth’s timeline makes at least as much sense: he was really good thru age 40.

    Anyway, the usual answer is: What did Babe Ruth know about anything?

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    , @Not Raul
    , @AceDeuce
  96. dearieme says:
    @Alden

    The question is whether it satisfies my epidemiologist chum. It doesn’t.

  97. @Hibernian

    Ted Williams, born August 30, 1918, missed much of the 1952 and 1953 baseball seasons to fly fighter jets in Korea as John Glenn’s wingman. He’d already missed 1943-1945 learning to fly and doing PR type stuff in the military, although he didn’t see combat then. He was kind of sore about it. He must have been 33, almost 34 when called up in 1952.

    That seemed unusual.

    Hall of Famer Red Ruffing got drafted at age 37, despite missing toes and about a half dozen kids. He missed 1943-44 while serving as a private (which also involved playing military baseball against Joe DiMaggio’s team).

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  98. Art Deco says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Pretty sure Williams was in the Reserves after the war, which was atypical. I’d have to check the data for the period running from 1950 to 1953. I think during the VietNam War the number of reservists recalled to active duty was generally around 25,000 per year.

  99. Art Deco says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Someone told the census enumerators in 1900 that he was born in February 1895. He filled out a draft card in 1917 listing his dob as 7 February 1894. He used 7 February 1894 on a passport application in 1920. He filled out another draft card in 1942 listing his dob as 6 February 1895. The Social Security Administration in 1948 recorded his dob as 6 February 1895. His wife put 1895 on his gravestone.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  100. Corn says:
    @E e

    The last known Civil War widow died in 2008. A woman in Arkansas had married a Confederate veteran in 1934 when he was 86 and she was 19.

    She must have been real hard up for money or a bed.

  101. My maternal grandmother made it to 102. My paternal grandmother was 98 when she died. My maternal grandfather was 91 when he passed away, the other grandfather died in an accident at age 70. I had 6 great aunts who made into their 90’s & two great uncles the same. My dad is currently enjoying life at age 91 & mom, if all goes well, will be 90 next year. One theory is that longevity might be based on heredity & genetics. Most members of my aforementioned family smoked, drank & ate high fat, meat based diets. They also suffered from heart disease, arthritis & various other degenerative ailments associated with modern life. Yet, somehow managed to live long lives without extensive nursing & medical care. Perhaps a long life is something you are born with provided you don’t die from an accident or non organic means. This may explain why some people take good care of themselves yet die in their 50’s. Then again, look at those folks who don’t, yet make it to their 90’s.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  102. Anon[278] • Disclaimer says:
    @Not Raul

    I read that, by word count, the majority of extant Latin from the Roman era is from tombstones. The rest of it is from manuscripts preserved by monestary scribes, monumental stone inscriptions, Pompeii, and a tiny amount of papyrus business documents from dry North African and Arabian climates.

    Originally professionals hired by collective burial societies (a sort of early insurance) made tombstones, but as the empire fell apart they were more and more made by relatives, who tended to be less literate, and additionally could not carve letters that well. Mistakes in tombstone spellings are a major source of clues about what Vulgar Latin pronunciation was like for linguists.

  103. @Travis

    Exactly right. And if people would merely avoid smoking and not be morbidly obese, we would have millions more people in their eighties and some number more in their nineties.

  104. My aunt and her husband lived in a grand, rent-controlled apartment in a posh neighborhood in Copenhagen. One fine day, the tenants get an offer to buy the building and become owners, only every tenant has to agree. So an old lady living in the building doesn’t agree: the rent is low and she’ll not live long enough to cash in on appreciation in value that is expected.

    The other guys in the building figures that since she’s 81, she’s not going to last long: they buy her apartment on the agreement that her rent will not change, and they settle down to wait for the old bat to die so they sell her apartment and can cash in.

    She lived to be 103, living in what at that time had to be the cheapest apartment in the city.

  105. @Anon

    For that guy’s $200,000, there are a lot of guys with families out there that resent having to pay $600 monthly, for no health care that their co-pays couldn’t have covered, paying for your guy’s stupidity. They still may not vote for Trump, since he’s been a worthless mutherfucker, but you get my point, right? In socialized health care, nobody wins but the deadbeats.

  106. @NYMOM

    On, the illegals, NYMOM, nobody is really counting anybody. That’s the problem. However, if you look at the number of obviously illegal Hispanics around in your town and city in a NON-BORDER State, and extrapolate, you get some pretty big numbers. That 11 million number is completely bogus, with its implied precision of +/- 1 million.

    Let me write another one on the Chinese girls.

  107. @NYMOM

    A girl we know, I guess about 27 y/o now, was the 2nd-born of her Chinese family. The first was a boy, and most Chinese families would have just quit there, during this era. What happened was that the parents got fined a penalty, and both parents lost their jobs (not like some NY Financiers, but a crappy but stable state “company” of some sort). These parents started a pig farm, and later this-and-that.

    The girl was able to get an identity card after her parents paid the penalty, and went to grade school and college. The one-child policy was never what some Americans, including what I used to, think, but still it very much encouraged only one. It may have been a worse deal in the cities. These people lived way out in deepest yellowest China.

  108. Sean says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Franzese

    At the time of his release on June 23, 2017, he was the oldest federal prisoner in the United States and the only centenarian in federal custody.

    Murdered an estimated 30-50 people by by 1964. In 2016 had eight children, 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

    Fathering multiple children by the time you are 21 is something men who go on to be centenarians tend to do. Being born to a 16 year old mother is also relatively common among centenarians.

  109. @Not Raul

    We’ve been dealing with Roman Numerals today a lot (I won’t bother to explain why). I tell you what, that is one screwed up system – it’s good for fancy inscriptions but little else. Imagine being a Roman kid in middle school, getting stuck in the hovel on a beautiful day doing long division for homework. I’d welcome the barbarians after that shit.

  110. @prime noticer

    “imagine if vampires were real and they had compound interest fortunes built over hundreds of years. our future elites won’t be far off from that.”

    “future” elites?
    They’re already here, and have been around for millennia.
    Who created compound interest, fractional reserve lending, and usury? Modern banking. The concept of debt notes as currency?

    Financial vampires are real.

  111. It has to do with nutrition. The oldest people do not use vegetable oils, synthetic foods, and eat less carbs and more bioavailable nutrients from fatty meat and few leafy vegs and nuts. Obviously modern medicine helps a lot now too, but usually in a “prolonging misery” kind of way.

  112. Not Raul says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I had already believed that Babe Ruth could do basic arithmetic, and this helps confirm it.

  113. Mikhail says: • Website

    About 50 years ago, yogurt was becoming a mainstream product in Southern California supermarkets. One way it was marketed was by pointing to the large numbers of centenarians in Armenia. The long-livedness of Armenians was attributed to eating yogurt.

    Armenians do make yogurt:

    https://heghineh.com/armenian-yogurt/

    I don’t recall that aspect being mass marketed in the US. Perhaps you meant Georgia?

  114. Logan says:
    @Art Deco

    Actually, the first Conscription Act was passed in April, 1862. By the Confederate Congress.

  115. Despite the ever increasing access to entertainment media, it seems like life was more interesting in 1972 than 2019. When you couldn’t just do a google search for something and get the official answer (not necessarily the right answer, but a respectable one), people were more free to speculate about why the world be the way it do. While truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, the reverse is more often true.

  116. Anonymous[267] • Disclaimer says:
    @AceDeuce

    Every black guy over 70 with a blue blazer and a necktie seems to be a “Tuskegee Airman”.

    People have asked of the Holocaust, “Why are there so many survivors?”

  117. AceDeuce says:
    @Johnny Paytoilet

    As Damon Runyan used to say, paraphrasing the Book of Ecclesiastes:

    “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that’s the way to bet.”

  118. AceDeuce says:
    @Art Deco

    Actually, he had always been told his BD was 2-7-94. When he applied for his first passport in 1934, his birth certificate had the 2-6-95 date.

    To make matters more confusing, some sources say that he had a brother who was born 2-7-94, named “George” and died soon after. In 1895, Babe came along , and was also named George.

    Babe was only 53 when he died. Shakespeare was 52. Vermeer was 43. And yet the Whoopi Goldebergs, Bill Ayerses, and Angela Davises in the world stay alive. Sad!

  119. AceDeuce says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Actually, Ruth’s 1894 and 1895 dates were a day apart. One Feb 6, one Feb 7. See my reply to Art Deco for more.

    Ruth was the greatest BB player of all time (all around). But Ted Williams hit .388 at 39 y/o. Amazing.

  120. AceDeuce says:
    @Art Deco

    From her Wikipedia article:

    In 1965, aged 90 and with no heirs left, Calment signed a life estate contract on her apartment with notary public André-François Raffray, selling the property in exchange for a right of occupancy and a monthly revenue of 2,500 francs (€380) until her death. Raffray died in 1995, by which time Calment had received more than double the apartment’s value from him, and his family had to continue making payments. Calment commented on the situation by saying, “in life, one sometimes makes bad deals.”[11] In 1985, she moved into a nursing home, having lived on her own until age 110.[1]

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