When I first put the book How to Live Forever online, it was in order to figure out through split testing how to improve the chapters so they would definitely be read.
The idea was that if 100 people read a page, for example, then I would be able to record three basic stats on that:
- number of people that have visited the page
- percentage of those people that have then read the page (the test is – did they click the “Read More” button)
- percentage of those people that were interested enough that they then wanted to read the next chapter/page in the book (did they click Next Page at the bottom of the article)
The online version of the book does not get enough visitors yet to regularly break that down into meaningful numbers, so there has not been a lot of work yet on this.
The front page (the book’s introduction) just got its first 100 reads, so I decided yesterday to rewrite it it completely so I could have the rewrite and the original up at the same time to do a comparison against each other for the next 100 reads.
To rewrite the page, I didn’t just take each sentence and reword it. Instead, I read through the entire thing, and then wrote an entirely different version that was approximately the same length.
With future revisions, I may just change a few lines here or there, but I can’t be sure at this point that the article is even remotely written the right way, so I thought it would be best to have something written in a different style to test how that goes.
I mentioned three stats that can be easily measured from the page. Increasing those stats is the goal of this endeavour.
Stat 1, page-opens, the number of people that opened the page. This is not affected much by the content of the page itself, so can be ignored when it comes to split testing. I use it merely as a base from which to calculate percentages for the other stats.
Stat 2, full-reads, the number of people that clicked “Read More”. This is affected by the first half of the page, and by the total length of the page. Because the button appears at the half-way point in the page, if the page is very long, there is more to read to get to that point (and vice versa). The content of the first half needs to be high enough that people want to read the rest of the page. An easy split test to do would be to simply reword a few sentences in the first half of the article to see how that affects the full-reads. I may do that when the page-opens reaches 100 again on the introduction.
Stat 3, next-page, the number of people intrigued enough to want to go onto the next chapter. This is affected by the second half of the article. I’m in two minds about this – do I increase by setting up a “cliff-hanger” so the conclusion of the chapter is in the beginning of the next chapter (that’s evil), or do I try to make each article into a stand-alone? An issue with stand-alone articles is that readers may feel so satisfied by the end that they just go away. Well, I guess that’s a conclusion I’m happy with as well.
Here’s what I wrote for the new introduction:
How to Live Forever
When you look for a book on how to live forever, you find that most of the books are religious and/or fiction, or they were lifestyle books with no solid evidence behind their statements. This is not one of those books.
I started writing this book because I wanted to cut through the rubbish and figure out what exactly works and does not work. None of this “just exercise, and eat your vegetables” stuff – I wanted to know exactly how much exercise is necessary, exactly what vegetables.
This book is a collection of histories and research results that state very clearly what we are doing in order to extend our lives towards practical immortality, and how you can improve your own chances today.
What does it mean to live forever?
Literal immortality may be impossible. Even if you eat all of your vegetables and do all of your press-ups, it is still likely that if you were run over by a truck or fell out of an airplane, you might die. Having said that, Quantim Immortality addresses that, but we’ll get to that.
Instead, this book will mostly be working towards an idea of immortality called “negligible senescence”, which means that your body’s aging slows down until it’s just not noticeable. This way you can potentially live for centuries, as long as you avoid open doors on flying airplanes.
For most of human history, the attitude of doctors and scientists towards human life was that you had about 60 years of life and then you simply die of “old age”. It did not occur seriously to people that old age was something that can be studied like a disease and potentially cured.
There have been stories of aging cures, such as Juan Ponce De León’s Fountain Of Youth, or Tír na nÓg, or immortality through vampirism. Those are just stories, but every story told to a child can inspire a spark of “what if?” which may lead that child to look into the possibilities a little further than the previous generations.
Since the 19th century, scientists have made solid advances into finding out what nutrition the body needs, with a lot of horrifying experiments along the way, some of which were performed on animals, criminals and children.
Nutrition, though, is not the entire story. Even with the most perfect nutrition, the human body will still only live for a century or so before it winds down.
We have also found ways of transplanting organs from one body to another, overcoming problems such as blood type differences, and immune systems. In more recent years, artificial organs have been created which can address the lack of transplant donors.
The causes of diseases have been uncovered, and we have moved on from ancient theories such as balances and humours. We understand bacterial and viral infections now, and the importance of clean hands before operations.
Neither nutrition nor transplants will solve aging, though, because aging is not caused by any of those. No matter how many anti-virals or anti-bacterials you take, your body will still continue to age.
And no “alternative medicine” will help either. If it has not been tested and shown to work, then you can’t trust it.
In order to live forever, we must solve aging itself, which is a very difficult thing to do because it is a result of literally decades of chaotic interactions between cells and their DNA.
In recent years, it has become apparent that senescent cells are the main drivers behind aging, and the exact mechanisms by which cells turn senescent have been uncovered. This allows us to then find ways to stop this from happening, or destroy the senescent cells.
Clinical trials on this work have been performed on laboratory animals, showing that some methods (telomere extension, calorie restriction, senescent cell destruction, etc) can give extraordinary boosts to the length of lives, but human trials are just starting out now.
The most important buzzword to watch out for in the next few years is “senolytics” – a class of drug that can target and destroy cells which have converted from normal to senescent (old) cells and are now just hanging around in your body giving out inflamation cytokines that make your body feel like it’s sick all the time.
In this book, by “living forever”, I mean that you will literally not die. By following the guidelines in this book, you should add on a few decades at least to your life, which gives science time to come up with even more extraordinary advances, which I will of course talk about in future editions of this book and on my blog.
We live in amazing times, and I sometimes wonder at the sheer coincidence of it all – that we should be born into times where we are unlocking the secrets of immortality right there in our labs.
Because of the nature of how science works today, those secrets will be available to the common public within years of testing, and we can all have vastly extended lives because of this.