This is the description of my ambitious new project in conjunction with MILE – the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension – to distribute 1000 copies of Death is Wrong to children, free of cost to them. You can visit the Indiegogo project page and contribute here.
Who are you and what are you trying to do?
I am an actuary, author, philosopher, futurist, and advocate of indefinite life extension. I have published The Rational Argumentator, an online magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress, since 2002. You can find out more about me here.
For this project, I am partnering with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE) to distribute copies of my book Death is Wrong to 1000 children. The concept for this project was the winner of the MILE Activist Contest in January 2014, by a vote of active members in the transhumanist and life-extensionist communities.
What is Death is Wrong?
Death is Wrong (currently available on Amazon and Createspace) is my ambitious new book for children and for life-extension advocates of all ages, concisely introducing the major reasons for the feasibility and desirability of indefinite life extension. The book was written by me and illustrated by my wife Wendy Stolyarov, some of whose artwork can be viewed here.
Why is Death is Wrong important?
Death is Wrong fills an important void and can inspire a new generation to join the struggle for greatly increased longevity. Virtually everyone learns about death as a child, and the initial reaction is the correct one: bewilderment, horror, and outrage. Yet there has been no resource to validate these completely correct first impressions. Almost immediately, the young ones are met with excuses and rationalizations, so that they might be consoled and return to a semblance of normalcy. Over millennia of facing indeed inevitable demises, humans have constructed elaborate edifices of rationalization, designed to keep thoughts of death from intruding upon their day-to-day lives.
While transhumanists and life-extension advocates have made headway with conveying their aspirations for the future to some of the most technically educated and philosophically inclined adults, the mainstream of society remains pervaded by the old death-acceptance arguments – religious and secular: from the fear of “playing God” to the specter of overpopulation. Every mind held captive by these traditional and Malthusian pro-death prejudices is a mind that will at best not help life-extension progress and at worst hinder it greatly – a higher likelihood for the most intelligent purveyors of the death-acceptance mindset. People who embrace these notions and find them credible (despite the relative ease of debunking them using logic and evidence) largely do so because the fallacies were ingrained into them since childhood, with no counterarguments being presented or even posited as conceivable. So, if the antidote to these fallacies is to be most effective, it must be administered in childhood.
Death is Wrong will be easily understood by most eight-year-olds, though my aim is to encompass as young an audience as possible. The beautiful and detailed illustrations will help keep young minds engaged as they read about long-lived organisms found in nature, as well as the great advocates of life extension from the past and the present (featured in the book are Francis Bacon, Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Condorcet, Friedrich Nietzsche, Alan Harrington, and Aubrey de Grey). The book discusses successes in animal life extension, along with providing a concise introduction to Dr. de Grey’s SENS program and the seven principal types of damage that must be addressed in order to reverse senescence. Parts of the book are autobiographical: they describe my own experiences as a child finding out about death and vowing to combat it. The book also focuses of refuting the common pro-death rationalizations and presenting young readers with all of the amazing opportunities and possibilities that can only exist if humans live much, much longer than is presently the case. At the end is a call to action and a list of further resources for young readers to find out more and to become involved with the life-extension movement.
Who will benefit from Death is Wrong?
Death is Wrong is written at a level readily comprehensible for children ages 8 and older, though ambitious children of younger ages would be an ideal audience as well. In facilitating the distribution of Death is Wrong, I would encourage life-extension activists to invest in quality. Even a single bright child who shows ample curiosity, interest in, and support for dramatic enhancements in human longevity could become a leading contributor to the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension. Cultivating such a passion extremely early in life could provide the MILE with just the kind of support it needs – a set of energetic, intelligent, talented, and idealistic young people who are equipped and eager to transform the world for the better.
What are you planning to use $5000 for?
The money will be used to purchase paperback copies of Death is Wrong upon request by longevity activists for distribution in their local areas. For instance, if a life-extension activist desires 25 copies of Death is Wrong to distribute to schools, libraries, or local gatherings, I could ship these copies to the activist, who would be able to identify the most effective local distribution channels and the most receptive audiences. Activists could use the donated copies to conduct public readings, including events that draw an audience of children.
As part of this distribution plan, I would be able to provide a similar arrangement for schools, libraries, and other organizations, particularly those which interact significantly with children, upon request by those organizations.
Activists and organizations will have wide discretion over the methods used to distribute the book. The only criterion for receiving copies is that they will need to be given away to their ultimate readers (children or their adult relatives) free of charge, or else made available for public reading free of charge (as in a public library). That is, activists and organizations would be able to give away copies or reading opportunities, but not resell the books obtained through this project. Under this rule, I may be able to personally conduct some of the book’s distribution, with assurance to my donors that the copies of the book that I obtain using their funds would also be given away and not sold.
While $5000 is the goal, any amount raised would be dedicated toward making a proportional number of copies of Death is Wrong available to longevity activists. For instance, raising $500 would enable me to make 100 copies available upon request. If we are fortunate and $10,000 is raised, then I will aim at making 2000 copies available. Also, the perks for each level of donation will be given no matter what the final amount raised.
How can you afford 1000 copies of Death is Wrong for $5000?
As the author, I am able to obtain paperback copies of Death is Wrong from Createspace.com at a highly discounted price of $3.79 per copy. 1,000 copies could be obtained at a cost of $3,790, not counting the variable costs of shipping. The remaining $1,210 would be set aside to pay shipping costs as needed. With shipping costs taken into account, I have been able to receive copies of the book at a total cost of approximately $4.71 per copy – so a cost of $5 per copy is a reasonable estimate, considering variations in shipping costs.
Upon request by a longevity activist or organization, I will place an order with Createspace for the desired number of books and will designate the order to be shipped directly to the recipient, while using the raised funds to pay for the order, including shipping.
How will you account for the funds spent?
A publicly available webpage will be set up on The Rational Argumentator to track spending as it occurs, as well as the number of books sent and the name of the recipient for each order and the funds that remain for this project after a particular expenditure has been made. I will request that each longevity activist or organization receiving the books provide updates regarding their receipt and distribution (preferably including photographs of the books received and any events at which the books were distributed).
Also, updates will be posted to the Indiegogo page of this project and will be e-mailed to supporters.
The entirety of the funds raised will be spent on procuring and shipping copies of Death is Wrong. There will be no administrative or overhead expenses paid from these funds, and I will pursue this project relentlessly until all donated funds have been utilized.
How will you make sure that enough recipients will come forward to acquire copies of the book for distribution?
The existence of this project and the availability of funds for distributing Death is Wrong will be made known by means of numerous transhumanist/life-extensionist publications, Facebook groups, and mailing lists. Once the fundraising campaign is completed, I will write and widely publish articles describing the opportunity available to longevity activists.I will also maintain robust e-mail correspondence with activists whom I identify as promising recipients of the book. I expect that many activists will be motivated to come forward by the message that resources for expanding the reach of the life-extension message are available to them, free of monetary cost.
How will you track the success of this project?
Success would be tracked through steady correspondence with activists and other recipients of donated books, to receive updates as to how many books were distributed and through which venues. The greatest mark of success, though, would be observing new people – both children and adults – entering the life-extension movement as a result of Death is Wrong. Through Amazon book reviews, online searches, and monitoring of life-extension social-networking groups and publications, as well as correspondence addressed to me and other longevity activists, it would be possible to gain an appreciation for how many hearts and minds have been won by this effort.
Once all funds have been spent, I anticipate writing and widely disseminating a status report that will gauge the success of the project, its impact, and lessons learned from this unprecedented exercise in life-extension activism.
$5 Donation: You will receive a Level 1 Life-Extension Educator Open Badge (an Internet-based badge issued through badg.us and Mozilla Backpack), showing that you have made it possible for one child to learn about the feasibility and desirability of indefinite life extension.
$25 Donation: You will receive a Level 2 Life-Extension Educator Open Badge (an Internet-based badge issued through badg.us and Mozilla Backpack), showing that you have made it possible for 5 children to learn about the feasibility and desirability of indefinite life extension.
$50 Donation: You will receive a Level 3 Life-Extension Educator Open Badge (an Internet-based badge issued through badg.us and Mozilla Backpack), showing that you have made it possible for 10 children to learn about the feasibility and desirability of indefinite life extension.
$100 Donation: You will receive a signed copy of Death is Wrong, personally addressed to you and signed by both Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov.
In addition, you will receive a Level 4 Life-Extension Educator Open Badge (an Internet-based badge issued through badg.us and Mozilla Backpack), showing that you have made it possible for 20 children to learn about the feasibility and desirability of indefinite life extension.
$250 Donation: With your consent, I will write a feature-length article about you as a major activist for and supporter of indefinite life extension. This could include a question-and-answer component regarding your goals, motivations, and visions of the future, as well as a component discussing any projects and achievements that you are involved with or are otherwise important to you. The article would be published on The Rational Argumentator and possibly other transhumanist and life-extensionist websites, in order to raise awareness of your role in advancing the prospects for greatly increased human longevity.
You will receive a signed copy of Death is Wrong, personally addressed to you and signed by both Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov.
In addition, you will receive a Level 5 Life-Extension Educator Open Badge (an Internet-based badge issued through badg.us and Mozilla Backpack), showing that you have made it possible for 50 children to learn about the feasibility and desirability of indefinite life extension.