What is hormesis?

Hormesis is a condition where you’re adding some stress or toxicity in a small amount that’s beneficial to you, as compared to a large amount that would harm you. For example, when you add some exercise to your life, it will kick in repair enzymes that then make you stronger over time. But, if you’re in your fifties or sixties and out of shape, and you do Crossfit for two hours, that will have a toxic effect.

Louise Aronson: Elderhood

In spite of our current culture that perceives aging as a negative part of life, studies show people in their 60s and beyond are often happier and more fulfilled. Louise Aronson, author of the book “Elderhood,” talks on TODAY about the cycle of anti-aging discussions and the impact it can have.

Revisiting Happiness and Well-Being in Later Life

Younger man helping a middle aged man get up off the ground.


Important demographic shifts and the so-called ‘longevity revolution’ have generated profound transformations in social interpretations of old age, an increased interest in age studies and new ideas on how to age well. The majority of current successful ageing models, however, represent rather a prevailing construct in Western societies. Physical and psychosocial well-being and the ability to adjust to the ideals of successful ageing are often seen as an integral part of a good quality in life. Those who do not or cannot follow these lines are often regarded as morally irresponsible and seem to be doomed to have a lonely, unhealthy and unhappy later life.

This paper questions the current discourses of successful ageing in terms of healthy and happy living and calls for a reconsideration of more global, integrated and holistic understandings of the process of growing old.

The vulnerable world hypothesis


Scientific and technological progress might change people’s capabilities or incentives in ways that would destabilize civilization. For example, advances in DIY biohacking tools might make it easy for anybody with basic training in biology to kill millions; novel military technologies could trigger arms races in which whoever strikes first has a decisive advantage; or some economically advantageous process may be invented that produces disastrous negative global externalities that are hard to regulate.

This paper introduces the concept of a vulnerable world : roughly, one in which there is some level of technological development at which civilization almost certainly gets devastated by default, i.e. unless it has exited the ‘semi‐anarchic default condition’.

Several counterfactual historical and speculative future vulnerabilities are analyzed and arranged into a typology. A general ability to stabilize a vulnerable world would require greatly amplified capacities for preventive policing and global governance.

The vulnerable world hypothesis thus offers a new perspective from which to evaluate the risk‐benefit balance of developments towards ubiquitous surveillance or a unipolar world order.