I guess there's a lot of social incentive to claim you're fantastically old when you're only old. You may be 90 and look 90 and act 90, but you are "spectacular" for 107: "So spry! So lively! So quick-witted! So... she just keeps going!"
"I know that there are no general rules of health because there was a gentleman living in New York a few years ago who was one hundred and fifteen. He was the oldest man living in New York, and he was doing quite well. He lived on his own, got around with no trouble, and could deal with everything that came his way. People asked him, of course, 'What's your diet? What're you eating?' He said that from the ages of ninety to one hundred and fifteen, his diet consisted mostly of three gallons of Thunderbird wine a week, and bread fried in fatback. When they asked him why he didn't fry his bread in bacon, he said that bacon was TOO LEAN. Here's a man who knew exactly what his body needed, and he lived a rich, full life on what one would think is fucking rocket fuel. And if he'd gone to a doctor, the doctor would've been, 'What the fuck is the matter with you?! You're out of control, Goddammit! You know what? You're gonna have to start eating vegetables.' And he would've, and he'd have been dead in a week!"
Physical possession of valid documents is not an age guarantee. Consider a room containing 100 real Italian supercentenarians, each holding complete and validated documents of their age. One random centenarian is then exchanged for a younger sibling, who is handed their real and validated birth documents. How could an independent observer discriminate this type I substitution from the 99 other real cases, using only documents as evidence?
This hypothetical error cannot be excluded on the basis of document consistency: every document in the room is both real and validated. In addition, a real younger sibling is also likely to have sufficient biographic knowledge to pass an interview. As such, any similar substitution error has the potential to indefinitely escape detection...
This issue presents a substantial problem for remarkable-age databases, embodied in a deliberately provocative, if seemingly absurd, hypothesis:
Every ‘supercentenarian’ is an accidental or intentional identity thief, who owns real and validated 110+ year-old documents, and is passably good at their job.
[Was Étienne Nkasi a] 126-year-old man, one of the oldest men who ever lived? Born three years before King Leopold took control of Congo? Van Reybrouck checked and double-checked. Nkasi knew the names of missionaries apparently held only on records in Belgium. He personally knew Kimbangu, who was born in a nearby village. “Kimbangu was greater than me in pouvoir de Dieu, but I was greater in years.” Nkasi died in 2010, aged 128. Van Reybrouck says he met Nkasi for the first time right after Barack Obama won the presidency. “Is it true,” Nkasi asked in wonderment, “that a black man has been elected president of the United States?”
Hm, I wonder how this changes the whole thing about Blue Zones where people live extra long lives (Okinawa is one of them) and we should be more like them? (Though the basic advice seems pretty sound - exercise, eat lots of greens, not much meat, etc.)
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