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Although there is no doubt a spectacular rise in longevity has been taking place over the past centuries, the fact remains that claims of extreme age, particularly prior to 1900, must be approached with a healthy dose of scepticism. Most reported instances of exceptional longevity in the distant past are in fact incorrect and the history of longevity is thus actually a history of myths. And contrary to general belief, this is still the case in a vast majority of countries today, to the point where not only individual claims of extremely high ages are generally to be discounted, but also very few official country statistics on the extremely aged, if any, can be considered perfectly reliable. This chapter examines why this is the case and how the problem can be addressed through age validation. Several examples are given to illustrate the various points raised in the chapter.

  • longevity
  • age validation
Bertrand Desjardins
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