21 December 2021

Lies, big lies and statistics

Scientists: the limit of human life expectancy ranges from 130 to 180 years

Georgy Golovanov, Hi-tech+

Scientists conducted a repeated study of reliable data on centenarians and came to the conclusion that the upper limit of human life is at least 130 years, and possibly reaches 180 years. And in some cases, as statistical analysis has shown, there is no upper limit at all.

The authors argue with the British folklorist and demographer of the XIX century, William John Toms, who argued that life expectancy does not depend on habits, nor on the quality of food, nor on social institutions, since longevity occurs in different cultures with different ways. And many cases of extreme life expectancy can be explained by mistakes or deception, writes the magazine Knowable.

Article by Belzile et al. Is There a Cap on Longevity? A Statistical Review published in the journal Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application – VM.

The limit of human lifespan is an interesting and open question. There are over a dozen documented super-long-livers who lived to 110 years old, and the Frenchwoman Jeanne Kalman died at the age of 122. The presence or absence of an age limit is important for social insurance and the pension system of states, and can also lead scientists to new methods of prolonging life.

In some cases, contradictory information about human life expectancy arises due to incorrect methods of statistical analysis, scientists from HEC University in Montreal. From the age of 50, the risk of death increases from year to year. But from about the age of 80, it starts to slow down. The equations describing changes in the risk function show that it is leveled at the age of 105 to 110 years. This means that the equations derived from younger age groups are not suitable for estimating the life expectancy limit. Correct analysis requires the collection of statistics on people aged 105 years or more.

An analysis of this age group showed that from about 110 years of age, the probability of death in each subsequent year is 50%, both for men and women. Depending on the nuances of the data, the probable duration limit ranges from 130 to 180 years. And in some cases there is no upper limit at all. In other words, from the point of view of mathematics, people can be immortal.

However, the authors emphasize that the world of abstract numbers and reality are not the same thing. "Every existing form of life has been and always will be finite," the study says, "therefore, a careful transfer of mathematical truths into the language of everyday life is required."

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