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tv   Steven Johnson Extra Life  CSPAN  August 3, 2021 8:24pm-9:28pm EDT

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c-span is your on your company's center? , it's way more than. >> to create wi-fi tools they need to be ready for anything comcast supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers giving front row seat to democracy. >> i'm katie, tonight's event with stephen johnson professor with his new book, short history of living longer. you're in for an excellent time. i want to say a huge thanks to stephen randolph and the team for this happening. were not able to host defense, community up office this year. we are grateful for your support
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and for the conversation and connection. before we get c started, we hava few things to go over. you can see this because but they can't see or hear your. the exact location floppy depended on which device you are on. there are couple of ways you can interact with each other which we highly encourage. the first is a chat by clicking on the chat that looks like a speech balloon. show your appreciation for the author and attendees. please post in the q&a module. you can click on the icon that looks like to speech balloons. will be answering questions later in the program support your questions there. mccormick, extra life is available of the bookstore. you can shop and person 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. everyday of b the week and purchased these
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books and many other online. you can order online for quick pick up in the store or shipping anywhere in the west. stephen stopped by, you can get assigned by request. indicate in the comments while ordering online. look via signed copy while in the store. if you care about the ongoing independent bookstores, this is a great way to show your support. our interview tonight is randall munroe, author of the number one new york times bestsellers what if and how to. the question and answer block what if and web comic. he left the agency 2006 to draw comics on the internet full-time. he'll be speaking with our futurere authors, the best-sellg author of 13 books including
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where good ideas come from, farsighted and ghost map. most and cocreator of the cdc series and the hoster of the podcast american innovation. he lives in new york and california with his wife and 3 cents. his new book is a surprisingly important people how we have doubled our life expectancy in 100 years. stephen is going to tell us about the book. take it away. >> thank you. appreciate it. i'm delighted to be here, this is the first official book tour event of the extra life world tour which is taking place entirely in this room because that's what happens. it's wonderful where drink this with green light in brooklyn. i am in brooklyn right now. a perfect venue to start out
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this adventureto with self thank you for having me and it's an honor to be here with randall, everyone in my household is a fan of his work. he is the only author all three of my sons actually read his books. he is a big deal in our household. this is a real treat for me. i want to start with a couple of words about this project because of this a multiplatform project that started with the book and it's also a tv series upper myers tomorrow night as well at 8:00 which i cohost with david, four episodes every tuesday night. the project goes back about four or fivek years. i have written many years ago, a book called the ghost map which
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was a story about 19th century and one reason i wrote the book was to remind people how much progress we've made in terms of health o and safety and reductis in mortality over the t last 150 -- 170 years. there's a story about waterborne disease and how 150 years ago big city he would drink across of water and be dead in 48 hours, that was just a reality of life so many years ago i was trying to remind people one, we've made a lot of progress and we should celebrate that and also show that some of the most important innovations in life are not the latest smart phone or resume or whatever it is. sometimes it's something just likeow clean drinking water whih really changed our lives so i always have seen is an interest and it occurred to me about four years ago the story of life
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expectancy would be an interesting frame for a book that you could talk about that number as aha change over time s a powerful indication of how much progress we've made with house. when i was first thinking about it three or four years ago i thought we are coming up on the centennial of the end of the spanish flu which ended in 1919, 1920. that was the last time in which there was a. of sustained drop in public life expectancy and then there wasas this extraordinary progress around the world, particularly the last 30 or 40 years growth. effectively doubled the average lifespan which if you think about it, maybe the best thing we've ever done as a specie, so many positive consequences but also negative consequences as
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wellci, population growth and things like that. i thought if this book comes from a television series and it would maybe come up around 2020 and that would be the anniversary of the centennial spanish flu so the timing will be good so i wrote the book and then in the early 2020 we are starting to get the television show and all of a sudden the world was transformed by covert. what had been by a loose and historical thing that happened 100 years y ago, we were in the middle of one of the most important events in the history of modern history of human health. i had written a bookk about and was working on the television show so so many things in the book are about what's happened the last year. this central opening chapter in
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the first episode of the show is about vaccines and the history of vaccines. there's a lot about public health data collection and how we developed therapeutics for illnesses, the world we've been living in front and center. suddenly newfound relevance. i have kind of come to think about this project now that we are living here in 2021 as the 200 years history and that's how i visualize it in my head. i hope it's not interpreted as a victory lap, there's a lot of encouraging trends celebrated in the book and a lot of heroes that i think would be more celebrated ine achievement that should be widely known, eradication of smallpox, truly e
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one of the most magnificent thing we've ever done and yet most people know more about the moon landing and they do about eradication of smallpox's are trying to remind people we are capable of these great achievements but it's alsoev recognizing it's not inevitable that this will continue and not just keep marching upwards if we don't pay attention to the importance of public health and if we don't, think about changes to our behavior to enhance our lifespan and people around the world so hopefully the book inspires people to keep working at this. that's my opening spiel. let me turn it over now. >> congratulations on the launch of the new book. even if it wasn't exactly when you expected. it's a cool book, i enjoyed of it.. thank you for inviting me to talk about.
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so, when are we going to die? [laughter] >> i can list out individuals. >> it's always funny looking at life expectancy because of this we are number. it's both, because it's not really how long you are expected anyone, it's just how long you would live if this year's death rate continued forever so it's nice my life expectancy goes up a little bit every year that i live. there were a bunch of things in your book that caught my interest and i was curious to hear more about that. i read an estimate many years ago, i don't know if this came from maybe another one of your books or maybe somewhere else ss tried to pick out the year at
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which, on w average, people who went to a hospital were better because of it. when, broadly speaking, when did going to see a doctor helping you more than it hurt? >> i don't know if we really fully know the answer to that. it was obviously -- >> depending on what you are going for. >> yes, that was the most striking to me during the research for the book was how late medicine arrived as useful intervention in the story so to give a little bit of context, until about 1750, it didn't matter where you work in the world, what your station incy te world was, life expectancy was evenly distribute it at about 35 and that was the factor of
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largely 40% of children would die before they reached adulthoodd and less likely if yu made it toe childhood, it was rare to make it to 70 or 80, other people did but it was less likely. before the takeoff began around 1750, there's tremendous wealth inequality but no health inequality. he could be the richest or poorest person in the world,, it doesn't have an impact on your house. the paradox of the life expectancy is when we see progress, it opens up this gap and you see the elite longer than the working force and industrial countries go backward about 100 years so you have this long. where it starts to get better and then in the second half of the 19th century industrial
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working class starts to improve their life expectancy as well and you see the entire population countries in europe and u.s. living longer lives. that goes on steadily until recent corruptions of the spanish flu but the impact of medicinene of going to the doctr and getting a pill to make you live longer cure a disease you have really doesn't have an impactsn until antibiotics, pos- penicillin era. that's 1945, 1950 so up until then, in the book looking at these old catalogs, pharmaceuticals and mike make ten it's like every medicine, it contained mercury and arsenic and there's cocaine and 37 different types.
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there was a tremendous amount of junk out there so you think of medicine as being modern progress but actually we solved a lot of problems and invented airplanes and radio and television and a bunch of things before we startedng making functional drugs to improve our lives. >> one thing that's really, i think driven home for a lot of us the last year but it always seemed impressive, just that the ram randomized controlled trials. there is no substitute for. he will hear doctors talking about this now on tv yes you can get this observational data but there are all of these scientists, it's hard to figure out what is causing what and that's why the randomized
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control standard is the gold standard it sounds like it was pretty recent like when did we come up with that? where does that rank in the list of accomplishments that it made people livets longer? >> extremely very high. it's not a coincidence, basically randomized controlled trial are developed and merge around the same time of and about x emerge. it's really not an accident but there are some that enable you to do this, people understand the basic ideas you can do trials for you have a control and the drug you are testing and nobody knows, including the people running the trial which subject is in which group and all of these things.
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it was the first mechanism that enable people to figure out if something was working or not and that was a crucial breakthrough to go back to look at the role of the fda and regulating drugs up until the 60s. there's never a question, the drugmakers were not required to show that the drugs worked until the 60s. initially all they had to show is that ingredient listed on a bottle was in the middle medicine, possibly standard. if you want arsenic in the medicine, for it was fine if you listed on the bottle. make sure it doesn't do any actual harm to the patient taking the drugs that they didn't actually have to prove that was effective until the end one reason, there wasn't really
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a way to measure that was effective. how is a major shift forward and i think we underestimate that run through chapter when we think about the breaking news that drives our health forward, we are looking for physical objects, the needle with a vaccine and, the magic bullet, x-ray machine or whatever it is that a lot of the breakthroughs involve data and departed the data and that's what that was. your work is connected to there's no reason why they could not have been developed earlier in in the discovery experiment in the 1700sea and things like that but nobody reallyfo formalized it until around 1950 so there's a history where
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somebody actually invents the rtc in 1850 instead of 1950 perhaps medicine actually improves a little faster because there's finally a way of measuring and for whatever reason it arrives late. >> if we had been able to look at the things we were doing to treat these conditions and check which once worked, what you think would be the most helpful thing we would have stopped doing earlier? >> maybe bloodletting, perhaps. [laughter] that was recommended well into the 20th century kind of reputable doctors saying you want to leave the patient so that would be high on the list. >> there's great stuff in the book, a list of toxins given to
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treat king george the third who famously went insane for a period of time, there's a wonderful movie if you want to hear about it. one of the early signs of his illness was he was raging against doctors think he was poisoned by a doctor. here's later they analyzed his hair and he had unbelievable arsenichi poisoning based on the medicine he was given so there a lot of things that would have been quickly exposed as dangerous if we had access to it. >> you mentioned penicillin discovery so it always seems weird to me with this concept but here ispt this mold, i'm gog
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to rub it here and i always thought of as the example of the idea that has the biggest difference between how good an idea it is and how good an idea it seems but i always figured, it's not like i can just go to the grocery store andus find a multi- cucumber and take it home and get medicine that way, right? >> it's funny you say that because there is a part of a story that doesn't involve that. although we do not recommend you doou that. [laughter] there's not a scientific experiment to do that but the penicillin story is maybe my favorite story in the book and the centerpiece. there's a shelf that comes out next tuesday. penicillin, the part that a lot of people know, alexander
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excellently leaves out a petri dish on his desk, goes on vacation and comes back and there's mold in the petri dish that's causing bacteria in the dish to die. he's like, bacteria killer, i'll name it penicillin and 15 here's later he gets the nobel prize. a great story because he's like anyone who's ever kept something out, just don't clean this up and then i will win the nobel prize myself. serendipity and happy accidents and things like that so people like that story. i like that story but it turns out that's just a tiny part of the story because the real problem was scaling it up and making enough. first, proving a good cure of bacterial infection in human
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which is not just what he's looking out but then it was hard to take it and that was an extraordinary adventure didn't start until 12 years later, it didn't evolve. it was this amazing global collaboration in the middle of world war ii as all these scientists, both in the united states racing against the clock to scale up penicillin to the war because they knew so many soldiers were dying of infection in hospitals so if you could get a drug that a could cure the infections, would have an advantage in the work. h he was a top-secret development so part of why i say this, it shows you our priorities as a culture when you think of what sustainment during the war
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global collaboration and bring scientists around the world.s but the penicillin project was just as riveting as a story and just as important and get it evolved medicine is not a weapon of mass distraction so i wonder why we don't tell that story as much as we tell the manhattan project. but to get to the cucumbers, something i thought i'd never find myself saying, one of the things they started to think about was a be fairer other molds outay there that could be replicated effectively or might be more effective at, they collected soil samples around the world but they also sent a
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young, i think she was a biochemist i think who's nicknamed moldy mary in illinois, peoria illinois to look for moldy fruit and supermarkets. she found a multi- cantaloupe in the supermarket to this day, most of the organically produced penicillin in the world came from that one cantaloupe. >> i'm literally from peoria. [laughter] i always like when you can trace back the specific origin of something and be like oh yeah, this copy of this came from that one spot. >> it's like the hilo cell, fascinating.
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>> so there are these different ones that have improved our life expectancy and a lotec of them e not a device. it's's like i realization we should do things differently or betterte habit or piece of infrastructure or something so from where we are right now, if you are put in charge and can convince everyone to something different in somewhere like where you are in new york or massachusetts or something and he wanted to bump up life expectancy and you've got a pulpit and you can go to each house and give aan ten minute seminar why they need to do something or have a law that as long as it's not unreasonable like people follow, what would t you do if you're just trying to improve how long everyone lives here?
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>> well, today i would say they should get the vaccine that's been developed. [laughter] one of the biggest issues, just thinking about people around me, we were talking earlier about the life expectancy and equality, as soon as life is extended, that should be our focus right now. there's a lot of focus on how far can we extend life, we could talk about that if you want but can we push the envelope all the way past 120 or so? which is about as far as humans can live. could we get everyone to 100? but it is the gap that is the
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thing i think we want to spend most of our time on so when i lived in brooklyn, you could travel on the to train and average life expectancy when you get to theif neighborhood woulde about eight years less than in my neighborhood and they are parked in manhattan rack and go to life expectancy would be fivc or six years higher than where does where i live. that's the most fundamental part of inequality. how much time do you have? you get to live to see our grandkids or great grandkids? i'm dodging the question ahe little bit because what the most important thing would be but i'm also not dodging inin the sense that our ability to keep track of those kinds of inequalities and ability to measure them and
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build a public record of them and say hey, these people are living longer than these people, why? met one of those advantages were talking about that wasn't a vaccine, it's a way of looking at numbers but when you see these outcomes where you think of covert, african-american population compared to the white population, completely out of whack so to be able to see that is important because it's important to ask questions so there iso this new interesting development that a number of folks have writtenks about it shows up a little bit in the book, this idea of weathering that one of the reasons why you see african-american communities in the u.s. having our life expectancy because there is this
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slow and steady impact chronic stress on the body that comes from living in poverty or discrimination and that, overn time, is as dangerous as smoking cigarettes or driving a car without seatbelt but it still is this slower, more incremental social crises in, not actually toxins. the idea of this psychological part living about situation or to have material impact on your life span, it's a genuinely new idea and that's one thing we want to think about. we shouldd eliminate racism and poverty, i would be something to help us a lot. it's saying it's not just about traditional factors we think about when we think about
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health, thinking about political factors. >> i think that is some really good points. and that something that is scoming up a lot reading the book, how much the story of that gap versus opening up and then closing. so i was surprised to read about the studies from the dickinson mounds, is that right? and talking about the introduction of agriculture and i hear people talking about this and i am always a little bit, it seems like a strange idea but interesting so was farming a mistake? [laughter]
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if you could go back, would you take back that development? >> that's a fascinating question and i a loot to it at the end, the book starts, there is a long opening chapter what i call the long ceiling, but i mentioned before that average life expectancy is about 35, matter where you were. wero believe that was all the wy back into pre-agricultural time and estimates from study existing hunter gatherer society mn archaeological sites and doing the damage and things like that but hunter gatherers might live about 30 years on average in similar childhood mortality people in europe until 17 or 1800, 35 to 45% so we are
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wereally all that different from three civilization human being until about 300 years ago. there's really no progress on that.. the one place where there seems to be a noticeable trend in the early history, precisely the moment where agricultural arrives, a large urban settlement it is in that period, this is whatme you see where the is a noticeable decline in outcomes in terms of health and life that dropped somewhere as low as 19 in these communities as far as we can tell you can see the deformities of the body are people who have to adopt this army lifestyle so people like diamond and others, the
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rise of agriculture was the greatest mistake in human history and we were happy in our own way until we adopted this agricultural lifestyle and basically went slave to it for thousands of years before we finally found our way out of the original standard of living as hunter and gatherer. it's a fascinating part in phrases to a question of if it was a mistake, if it was a downgrade for humans in terms of length of life, why did people keep making that choice? what was it that drove the agricultural lifestyle when it seemed like such a bad deal? that's another think we could talk about but that's not what i wrote the book about. i brought it up in the book tbecause it shows up at the end of the book because i want to
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remind people the upward march of extended life is not inevitable, it's not going to just keep on happening if we don't look at the evidence will listen to the finances or listening to the problems we have. we are facing things like climate change that may pose a serious threat to human life, we may have overpopulation problems in the coming years, migration problems, we might have resource problems so we know it's historically possible for people to adopt lifestyles that cause life expectancy to go backward for life long peers at times. we did it for a while in the industrial age, to so it's not enough to sit back and be like we should all, we should watch
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indictment, we have to continue to figure out what is working and what is not working or otherwise we can go back. >> there was a passage toward the end of the book that i thought was striking. if you don't mind, i could reappear. you talked about how you have this impressive list of here are things that saved millions of lives, hundreds of millions of lives in billings and innovations like the needle, refrigeration and toilets and sd on and i am a big fan as much as i enjoyed that and i've tried to put together that but you pointed something out that had never really clicked for me which was how few of those came from what we think of as technological development in the
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current sense, private sector companies coming up with things and telling people and often things we are telling people where doing the opposite.op and you pointed out most of these changes have come instead from activists struggling for reform. ... that you buy or things you
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interact with in the end why do they all follow that route? why is it ralph nader? >> i think it has changed a little bit as doctor val ge alludes to. like the covid vaccines are a good b example of that where the model now that we are moving more towards is the kind of public partnership where you have science done supported by governments, academic research and then private sector energies that are tapped into and scaling capabilities and that's a pretty potent combination. penicillin is one of the first examples of that in the scaling
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up the penicillin so most of the important research was done in an academic conduct funded by the military as well but a private sector engagement. a number of things were deep infrastructure. there was hard to make to build a so that's something the state has the duty to clean the water and in some cases like the big intervention and like the smallpox eradication there was no private sector company that was going to be able to build a profitable business vaccinating villagers in bangladesh. there's just no way to make that make money. so you are dependent on
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different kinds of institutions like the who. in the book one of the things i argue is the invention of institutions like that, global institutions like the who they didn't used to have organizations that could do that and now we do. then the weird thing about medicine, you would think that medicine there would be the basic mechanism in the market where if a pharma company made junk medicine so there would be a financial incentive from all other consumer goods because of two reasons one is the placebo
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effect some of the time disproportionately to get better just because the counteract of it but also people have their own internal pharmacies. if you sell them a bogus pill, they will often just get better on their own they all attributed to the pill and that doesn't happen with other products. if you make fake television, you don't have like 30% of the market with imaginary programs. just television that doesn't work. so there's something fundamentally. tricky about the development of medicine that doesn't, the kind of traditional logic of markets developing the most efficient kind of outcome that matches consumer needs doesn't work.
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>> if anyone has any questions, i know we've gotten a couple, but if you want to open the q and a tab, feel free to ask anything you want, and we can go to those in a minute. but i did want to ask you. you mentioned a tv show a couple of times. wanted you to know i believe that's coming out. you've got your first episode tomorrow. >> 8:00 pbs. >> it's an adapted version of the book that kind of bounces back and forth between the history and the present tense of covid. so, we are talking about the origins of the vaccines and then i'm sitting in a room talking with anthony fauci on the day that matter in a.
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in the context of the present moment the challenge was we made it all last fall and early winter of this year. nowe also felt like we were rigt in the middle. but that comes out tomorrow s as well. you were talking to doctor fauci the day that the motor and the results t came in. did he know what they were going to be? >> it was presented and he just
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bounced in the room and was like at one point he said i had a lot of bad takes in my career but we would have taken 60% advocacy. we had 95 just so off the charts. you have a paperback coming out and it's a book that i have enjoyed a couple but i wasn't familiar with this one and i wanted to know if you could tell me a little about it. >> the nice thing today and tomorrow is the publication day for the paperback of my last book that came out a year ago and it's called enemy of all mankind. it's a kind of single narrative
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that goes off on all these different directions. and for the global crisis that leads to the first global manhunt in the history of the world it's kind of a story about the birth of global capitalism and the clash between the older regime and india and rising corporations like the pirate kind of in the middle of it. it's a fun story. so, if people are interested, that is newly out on paperback and it's a lovely father's day gift i would like to say it's a tale of history for father's day. >> cool. sorry it's like my brain got derailed by the mentioning of
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pirates. it's like the real-life version of the wikipedia rabbit hole you told me that h little bit and we are doing an event but i want to go read more about it. so, we have a couple of questions here in ther] q and a and people can feel free to answer if we have time here. the first question coming back to what we were talking about tearlier you mentioned the life expectancy didn't vary until 1750 and then began to. why did that start and -- >> the big change which is central to the vaccines story is that there is a technique that precedes the vaccinations. they are famously invented by
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edward in the 1850s, sorry, 1796 and he gets a lot of credit like the famous story but in fact there's an earlier technique and it basically involved taking an actual bit of smallpox from somebody that has smallpox and inserting it, grinding it up in a powder to give them a very mild case of smallpox and it's much more dangerous than vaccination. the general average is 2% of people would die but it's so different that it was the better and safer choice. this technique had been
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developed we think that it was independently discovered in india and china and africa and then it made its way into turkey. the ambassador to the ottoman empire soul people and learned there wasn't a lot of smallpox while it devastated london and england at that period so she inoculated her children, brought back the technique and persuaded the prince of wales to inoculate her children and is spread as a technique because of the kind of role t model of this woman who s an evangelist for it and you start to see thesei reductions f smallpox deaths in the elite and
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a lot of them were children so because child mortality is a big driver when a lot of children die the average changes quickly so that's when you first start to see that increase because basically the children of the elite are not dying of smallpox. you mentioned child mortality and this is a question i feel like there are different stories about life expectancy that you hear we used to live to 30 and now we live to 70 or 80 and then there is the it's just child mortality. ron tomlinson asked in the q and a how much, what is the life expectancy of 30 or 40 how much is it dominating the status?
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>> it is interesting as i started working on the project there is i guess a regular response from people that say it's just all infant mortality. the lifespans haven't really changed it's addressed that is not true, that is not the explanation. infant mortality has gone down but it's more complex. if you look at the numbers there's two things i would say. first we took 40% down and that was an amazing advance because we forget that it was an incredibly dangerous time just 150 years ago two out of five of the children would die and that was just part of the course so
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it was the most perilous point of your life until you got old when you were five or two so think of all that's been transformed now that it's the safest time of your life what that means is a parent or a child. so we shouldn't just dismiss like that like it's only child mortality. we found a difference in numbers, these are uk numbers but they would apply anywhere else. in the uk in 1920 if you live to 20 your life expectancy at that point would be 60 so the overall wouldha be 42 because a bunch of kids were dying but if you made it to 20 you could expect to live another 40 years. now you could expect to live about 85 years. so that's 25 extra years that the grown-up scott and that's the difference between meeting your grandkids and great
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grandkids. it's and huge advantage and nown recent years in countries like the united states where there's progress, it's happening at the older part of the spectrum. we basically got as much as we can at producing child mortality and it's below 1% so there's not going to be a lot of big gains. so people live over 100-years-old are projected to be the fastest growing demographic age why is in the united states. someone asked about a lot of the articles you see in the newspaper about human lifespans revolve around stories like so and so village and they live 130 years so how helpful or hurtful
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is that mindset and why do some areas seem to have long life spans? >> there does seem to be a variation there and there is some heritability with long jevity so there probably is a genetic component that makes it easier for some folks in the populations to live longer. environment and diet and lifestyle are obviously huge factors as well. one of the things that's interesting about when they were trying to figure out how long the hunter gatherers lived, when they would do it observationally there's a great storyio in the book about this study i'm not going to pronounce it people, but [inaudible] there's a sound you make at the beginning that i can't do with my mouth. they would go down and the
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stenographers would try to understand how long people were living in their society it was a bigin mystery they were trying o solve. it was misleading because a lot of the 60 or 70-year-olds didn't look very old because their lifestyles they got a lot of exercise and they were out and about and so they were not sitting in a desk all day like they looked really fit and it was hard to tell how old they are. you couldn't ask them because the number system stopped at three so there was no way if you asked how old they were it's like older than three. it was difficult to parse how old these people were but the lifestyle made a huge difference in terms of their physique. >> and i want to say i like that you didn't do sort of dwell on that question of like you talked a little bit at the end about
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can we live forever and that was an interesting discussion but i do get tired of some of the stories where they are like we found this one key to living forever. we found one way to squeeze out these last few years but i feel like it is so much more interesting of a story and interesting to learn about how we've kept from dying and all the other steps. i wanted to throw out one other question of my own. another person i hadn't really learned about was frances kelsey and i wonder if you can just for the people listening here give just a sentence or two summary ofe, who she was.
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>> she was basically a figure at the fda and had started her career early on and hadad been involved in this terrible drug poisoning case. i'm forgetting the name. it has a very long name that predates. basically she was involved in that controversy and went on to have an illustrative career at the fda. she ended up playing a key role as a regulator in stopping and keeping the manufacturer that was selling the drugs that was being sold widely in europe and then ended up as an anti-anxiety medication and also a medication for morning sickness that ended up causing terrible birth defects and costing the lives of millions, not millions but thousands of children in europe.
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this is right in that era in the 60s and right at that point it's starting to become possible to look more rigorously at how these drugs work and whether they are dangerous or not and she stopped it from getting brought to the market in the united states and ended up getting the presidential medal of distinguished service or something like that from jfk there is a picture of her. she is a wonderful figure and it's because again the things we celebrate. there are not a lot of tributes to government regulators like the great heroes and hero like narratives of government regulators. government regulators practically a swearword now and it's usually used dreadfully or stifling progress but building up that regulatory infrastructure to oversee things is a huge sign of progress in
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society and we had the red tape sometimes you need to accelerate things as we have seen but building up that kind of institution you can tell in vaccines but you also have to invent something like the fda and we should remind ourselves that's progress. >> veand of course the obvious context we are all sitting here with many of us having gotten the vaccines that were developed in the last year. whenever i'm reading through the studies or the clinical trials of the vaccines, i'm struck by how that randomized trials are just so good and there is also so many ways to do it wrong. reading like the fda, the documents and the report and stuff i'm really struck by it's like weirdly inspiring that it's thesee people who are just
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working so hard to get at the truth for no reason other than that it will help other people. and i think i really appreciate that your book you sort of celebrated that because it's something that is worth celebrating and it's especially worth celebrating like in a very obvious and visceral way right now. >> thank you. it's a lot of what i've been trying to do is figure out ways to make those people and what they do narratively compelling to figure out in a lot of the stories actually you can do it. it seems unlikely that would be the case sitting there looking at clinical trials and there would be stories there but they are kind of mysteries. something is killing people. how did we figure out what is actually.
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the data. there's like detective work. someone trying to subdue the threats by figuring out the nature of the problem and if you have those ingredients, you know, you can build a story. once you build the story then you can t get people to think about it andy take the time to feel like that's amazing somebody solved that problem. sometimes someone will come up with a wonder drug and sometimes it's stopping a dangerous drug from getting on the market because they are relying on statisticaln tools that someone had to invent. >> thank you so much. i think we are just about out of time so i'm going to hand things back over to katie but thank you so much for taking this time to chat. it was a lot of fun. thank you to the audience that asked questions. >> thank you.
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i want to be clear everyone should also be buying the books they are amazing and hilarious. my book is less funny but his stuff is just fantastic so thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> thanks so much to you both for that fantastic discussion and everybody for joining us. don't forget to buy a copy and please look for the recording on youtube later on. thank you so much, everybody. have a great night.
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the world changed in an instant that we were ready. internet traffic a sword and we never slowed down.
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schools and businesses went virtual and we powered a new reality because we are built to keep you ahead. >> supporting c-span as a public service along with of these other television providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> everything was going fine. i don't know how far we got and i thought there was maybe five people speaking going back and forth immigrant and republicans alternating back and forth. nancy pelosi was up at the podium you know, kind of overseeing it all and at some point i didn't really notice but they pulled her away and someone else came in to replace her.
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i didn't really pick up on that. it happens every now and then. so that didn't really catch my attention but what did catch my attention is shortly after that, the capitol police officers caps started coming into the chamber and they were very loud. we were still debating, people were talking and there was a lot of commotion. the doors to the chamber typically open and all the doors started shutting. you could hear them and then you could hear a lock and click, all the doors locking. and then i noticed several of them were standing in front of the doors and had their weapons up. i was like what is going on.


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