Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

I recently read an article from MIT Technology Review about how genetic research is making strides that could affect insurance, how hospitals work and palliative care, among other things.

But that’s not why I read the article.

I read it because it was called “Want to know when you’re going to die?

Before we go any further, no. The answer is no.

Now that we have that out of the way, apparently the research is based on something called the “epigenetic clock” — which are changes to DNA that determine whether someone is aging quickly or slowly.

I won’t try to explain the science any more than that — click on the link if you want to know more — but let me say it again.

No. The answer is no.

“I would love to know when I’m going to die,” says Brian Chen, a researcher who is chief science officer for Life Epigenetics, a company that services the insurance industry. “That would influence how I approach life.”

I get that. I really do. Having a better idea of when you’re going to die may make you more likely to go skydiving or Rocky Mountain climbing, or see how long you’ll last on that bull named Fu Manchu.

(If you’re not familiar with the song, it makes me think of my best friend Chuck, and scroll back up to the video now. I’ll wait.)

But I’m the kind of person who dreads the end of weekends, and is miserable at the end of vacations.

I think having an idea of when my life will end would paralyze me to the point where I couldn’t make the most of the time I knew I had, which would be the only benefit of knowing, unless there’s some way medicine would be able to fix it, to push that date farther away.

I won’t even do that silly thing I see on Facebook from time to time where it tells you what date you’ll die and how, not just because some Russian troll farm would probably know too much about me afterward, but because it might be true.

And that’s a silly Facebook game, that’s not going to be true.

As far as I’m concerned, the only thing worse than knowing when I will die is dying suddenly, because I’m afraid I’ll go with something left undone.

Basically, I’m the guy who if you ask how he wants to die, would answer, “Never.” And then when you say, “But you have to pick one,” would say, “Ask the next question.”

So what’s your preference? Would you want to know?

I don’t know if the relevant gene research is being done in labs with microscopes, but the picture at the top of the post is by Ousa Chea on Unsplash.


8 thoughts on “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

  1. It’s a good question and I think you can’t win with any answer. I sit on the fence. I’m an anxious soul so there’s a part of me that operates with the logic “if I know, I can plan!” but then there’s the realist in me that snaps back “yeah right! You’ll give up on everything because the inevitable just got even more inevitably real.” So I really can’t answer this question because I don’t know!


  2. Stephanie

    I’m with you. That’s a hard no from me.

    I realize I will die someday, but I basically cannot think about it, because just that thought paralyzes me. Thanks, anxiety!


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