New introduction variation for the book

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:

  1. number of people that have visited the page
  2. percentage of those people that have then read the page (the test is – did they click the “Read More” button)
  3. 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.

How To Live Forever published on Amazon

I was going to wait for another few months before publishing, but as I haven’t made a lot of changes to the book in the last few months, I thought I’d better just release it.

So, I’ve published the book, “How to Live Forever – through science, medicine, and philosophy” on Amazon’s Kindle store. I prefer Google’s PlayBooks for my own reading, but when I went to upload the book there, Google apparently don’t want any new authors or something – there was a message saying that no new “partners” could submit their work.

To prepare the book, I wrote a script that takes the website database and converts it into one long HTML file, and imported that through Calibre to create an ePub file, which Amazon accepted for the eBook version.

I’m still working my way through the requirements for the print version. When that’s done, I’m sure there will be updates to push back to the eBook version!

Releasing the book on PlayStore

My book (How to Live Forever) has been sitting on the front end of the website for months now, The original plan was to try pull people in to see if I could figure out from their behaviour what chapters need fleshing out or rewriting.

I’ve actually avoided adding new chapters (a chapter on vaccination, for example) because I was waiting for readership data.

A recap for those that don’t know the book: it’s an overview of what we know about what kills us, along with bleeding-edge solutions to those problems. I cover information such as using the surface based body shape index to calculate ideal weight and waist size (here’s my SBSI calculator), FOXO4-DRI for killing senescent cells, and even philosophical solutions such as the mathematical universe and quantum immortality.

I think I’m going to kickstart this by releasing the book on the Google Playstore for about €1. If I put it up there for free, people might download it, but won’t feel tempted to read it, but if they have to actually pay for it, they may feel the need to justify that payment by actually reading it.

I will include links in the book back to the website, so people can look for more uptodate versions of each chapter (medicine evolves!).

To get started on this, I’ve been looking for automated HTML to book-format PDF or eBook translation scripts. I could simply copy/paste the entire book into an eBook editor and clean up the formatting by hand, but I want to eventually be able to provide bi-monthly updates to the Playstore version, so it needs to be automated.

Luckily, I’ve been planning for this since the beginning, so the book is written in a logical format that can easily be extracted from the database.

There are actually very few books called “how to live forever” which literally are about how to live forever. Most of those I’ve found online are novels or religious diatribes. I feel like there will be little competition here.

The cover – I’m not an arty person, so I think I’ll do something plain. I like the cover of Yuval Noah Harari’s “Homo Deus”, which is plain black with red wording. I might go for something similar but with a textured background.

how to live forever book

As you are probably aware, this blog is basically a portal into my book, which is a science-based approach to not dying.

I originally created this blog based on the idea that if I talked about the various topics in the book, then while talking about the topics, I may come up with better ways to explain the thoughts, and also come across new discoveries based on those topics.

A side-effect I had hoped would come about from the blog, was that people finding the website through Google would teach me what keywords they were searching for, and so I could expand on those topics to become more expert in them.

Mostly, this has not worked, because the book is about things that millions of people talk about every day, and so people that are far more informed and verbose than I am are writing better blogs than me.

What I found, though, is that niche information, such as on the FOXO4 DRI peptide, or on SBSI calculators, is not written about a lot online, so it’s easy to be found for those keywords.

I would be happy if there was a lot of information available about those so I could expand further into the topics, but I seem to have exhausted it!

The SBSI calculation research does not appear to be going any further than the original paper, so there’s not much more that can be written about it (if I’m wrong, please tell me!)

As for the FOXO4 DRI, it is still too expensive for me to afford so I can’t write anything from personal experience, there is still no information about human clinical trials, and those people that are self-testing don’t appear to be writing about it much either.

But, I will keep plugging away!

There are books out there already called similar names such as “how to live forever”, etc, but they are usually fiction and/or religious. It’s hard to explain to Google that when people search for “live forever”, what they’re really looking for is a non-fiction how-to; not a feel-good story or book of moral diatribe.

How to Live Forever

A recap on what I’m trying to do.

Aubrey de Grey famously said that the first person to live to a thousand is probably already 60 years old today. I note he will soon be 60 himself – perhaps it’s him?

For thousands of years, people have been dying of accidents, malnutrition, disease and age. And for most of that time, we haven’t had a clue what was going on. What is disease? What is malnutrition? What does aging actually mean?

Today, we can examine all of these things scientifically. We have more than 7,000,000,000 people on the planet, and when one dies or gets sick, the data from that can be used to figure out why, and potentially stop it from happening again.

We now know with almost perfect certainty what we need to keep from starving, either from lack of food in general, or from specific nutrients.

We are on the cusp of curing all diseases. Even cancer is just another milestone waiting for us to conquer it, and we are constantly finding clues that will eventually lead to its extermination.

Age is on the edge of being cured as well, as we discover what exactly does “aging” actually mean, biologically, and figure out ways of stopping it. The most astounding of these is the FOXO4 peptide, which can kill senescent (old) cells and leave others alone.

I wrote the book “Live Forever” because I wanted to learn for myself what we know about dying and how we can stop it. It’s basically a distillation of all of these separate ideas, boiled down to a book that I hope is readable, entertaining, and not too technical.

I have included quantum immortality in the book because I think the idea is fascinating, and I can’t find any solid reason why it can’t be true. Besides, even if it is not true, if you were to live as if you are in a quantum multiverse or mathematical universe, and immortality is a natural consequence of these ideas, then the world would be a much nicer place for yourself and for others.

I would love to hear any thoughts you have about it.

Statistics-based book improvements

Yesterday, I finished the software framework of the website enough that I could put up the text content of each chapter.

I left out the images for now, and will probably need to fix up the references, but it’s basically all there.

As I was copying over the information, I left out one or two chapters because they might not be good enough even for a basic read-through. I left out chapters on nutrition, and on how a person should live if they want to live forever without worrying about money, etc.

I want to talk a little more about the software end of the website, because it’s going to be helping out in the next few years, telling me what pages are the worst in the book.

The basic idea I have is that the measurement of how readable a page is, is how many people clicked from it into the next page.

I’ve broken the book down into chapters and sections. Each section is a stand-alone article discussing a specific topic. For example, the “mathematical universe” in the “quantum immortality” chapter is a defined topic, so can be separated into a whole section on its own.

Each section will have multiple “variations”, with very slight wording changes, image changes, etc. The idea is that visitors to the website will be given a random variation of the section that they want to read, and I will then be able to measure how interesting and readable that variation was, by how many people finished reading it and clicked on “Next” at the bottom to go to the next section (link not yet added at this moment – will add that this evening).

If statistics are kept for hundreds or thousands of reads, then a pretty accurate statement can be said about which section variation is “better” than any other one, because there is a definite goal: the reader should want to go to the next page.

It’s important that the statistics be done over as broad a number of reads as possible, because search engines will read the whole book anyway, as will scrapers, so a larger sample set is needed to help dampen down those effects.

This can be helped, though, by having the statistics-gathering engine only attached to the section using event-based javascript, so if you’re looking at any gathered data, it’s more likely that it describes a human reading the section than a robot.

Another issue is that sometimes someone will come to the book through a search engine for a specific topic, and leave after reading that section. In those cases, how do we know how well written the section was?

The solution I’ll use here is that sections themselves will be broken down into artificial “pages”. If someone clicks through each page of a section, then it’s good, and if a high percentage stop reading at a certain point, then that indicates a page that needs work.

Reading through the pure text of the book at the moment, I know it’s not very good, but I expect that over the next few months, it will improve dramatically.

Live Forever – the blog

This short article is an introduction to what I’m trying to achieve here, and how.

I started writing a book on how to live forever a few years ago, but never got much beyond the first few pages.

It’s becoming more and more probable that the first person to live to two hundred has already been born, so I wanted to create a book that would describe the current state of research, and ideas on how we can achieve full immortality (not just life extension)/

I have enough content in the book now that I can start putting together a website for it.

My idea is that by putting the entire content of the book online, I can use split-testing to try make it better, by carefully analysing what pages of the book lead to people moving onto the next page, etc.

With the book, I am trying to be as factual as possible about everything, with references for everything that might be contentious.

For the most part, the book’s content is general knowledge – don’t smoke, avoid obesity, exercise – but there is a lot of stuff that people don’t know about, and that sounds really crazy (for want of a better word!) at first hearing.

You’ve probably never heard of NAD+, FOXO4 peptides, or telomere lengthening, for example.

These are properly researched methods to keep your body’s cells young. You will have heard, for example, that red wine is good for you because of something called Resveretrol. Well, David Sinclair, the scientist behind that research went on to research something else called NAD. It turns out there is very solid evidence that this extends life in mice, and there are human trials that suggest the same thing. Of course, we live longer than mice, so we won’t be certain of this for a long time, but the evidence is strong enough that Sinclair and his team take the NMN supplement themselves (which increases NAD in your cells).

On the crazy side, I’ve also written about Quantum Immortality – the idea that you cannot die, because there are infinite universes and there will always be at least one in which you (or an exact clone, right down to the memories) will wake up tomorrow – which is not really as mad as it sounds. Especially if you compare it with some ideas that various religions state as fact.