Criticism – How to deal with criticism

Aubrey de Grey – Criticism – How to deal with criticism in science and as a pioneering entrepreneur.

Criticism comes in many forms when you are a pioneering technologist of any kind.

There is criticism of the feasibility of what you are proposing and that the way to address it, the way to expand it is very straightforward. Namely you take it seriously, you give your critic the benefit of a doubt, you listen to what they are saying, you listen to their argument, you invite them to elaborate on their argument and only after they had all the chance they can to explain why your own position is wrong, then you can actually know their position is wrong because they have just not understood what you’re saying or they’re ignorant, they don’t know the facts and it’s happened to me a lot 10 years ago.

Ten years ago I was in a bunch of running battles with the mainstream gerontology community and I had to find out that they haven’t actually read the experimental work that I was citing in my papers which was the basis for my proposal and you know it took a while but eventually we got to the point where they re invent most of my critics were smart enough to realize that they were actually premature in their denigration and that the work I was talking about was real and valid and they proposed those making where real and valid. So that’s kind of easy.

Then there was criticism at the level of desirability.  Oh dear there’s going to be too many people, or dictators are going to live forever. The kind of knee jerks sociological or psychological reactions, that’s trickier because people that are debating with you are not trained to actually engage in debate, they just want to be right, they want to walk away, they won’t engage in any kind of… you know…so there it’s hard and it is especially hard because I need to make at least a little bit of progress in actually you know converting such people in order to bring money in the door to get the work done.

So that’s the frustration, that’s definitely frustrating but again I’m okay with that in my circumstance because I kind of understand where the irrationality comes from. I understand that humanity has had to live with aging with inevitability of aging since Darwin civilization and it’s only in the past 15 years that I came along that we actually have a plan. A concrete idea of how we might fix this thing. So of course people have gotten used to putting these things out of their mind and not getting their hopes up and so on and it’s a surprise to me that it’s hard to get people re-engaged in this battle.