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Secrets of the Superyoung


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Weeks, a clinical neuropsychologist, and James, a science journalist, have teamed up again (after Eccentrics, 1995) for a look at variations in the way people age, with their findings based in large part on the "superyoung" project, involving extensive samplings from questionnaires, and interviews. Their focus is on "the superyoung‘the fortunate few who look, act, think and feel years, sometimes decades, younger than the age on their drivers' licenses." Unfortunately, the authors seem to confuse correlation with causation, implying that life is nearly uniformly better for those who look and act younger than their age, when the real-life stories they present in fact reveal that while the "superyoung" share a passion for life, there is for them wide variation in lifestyle. Rather than providing profound insight about the real nature of the much-coveted quality of youthfulness, the authors rely too much on sunny interviews with their study subjects and various celebrities like Ben Bradlee, Angela Lansbury and Jack LaLanne. The first half of their book describes characteristics of the superyoung and Western society's views on aging. The second half provides advice on how readers might join the ranks of the superyoung. But little fresh material is presented there: exercise your body and mind, the authors advise; eat well, reduce stress, enjoy sex, be happy. Despite a valiant attempt at scientific evaluation, there is no fountain of wisdom about youthfulness to be found here. (Aug.)

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