Attention health and fitness consumers! Medical scientists from Stanford University have just announced the groundbreaking discovery that there is no fountain of youth, no way to turn back the clock and no way to prevent the aging of the human body. According to research published today in the journal Nature, aging and death are an integral part of the human condition. There is no escape. In related research, athletic trainers at UCLA announced the discovery that there is no perfect formula for athletic success; management wonks from Harvard Business School announced that there is no ultimate recipe for business success, and Match.com revealed that there is no fool-proof formula for eternal love.
Scientists involved in the research agreed that in an ultimate sense, nothing really works. Nothing gives us the final sense of security that we're after. We are fundamentally naked before the world; there is no security, no certainty, anywhere.
According to lead author of the study, Dr. William Johnson, the results were clear. “Our findings are robust," he reported. "There are no substances you can take, no programs you can adopt. There are no seminars you can take, websites that you can visit or apps that you can run on your phone. There is nothing whatsoever that can change the fact that our existence is temporary and our lives are fundamentally inexplicable. Experts and charlatans are happy to step up and tell us otherwise, but in fact no one really knows. And that’s the beauty of it.”
The findings were echoed by Dr. James Williams of Yale School of Medicine, “This is a solid finding. We now know that there’s nothing to be done about any of it. The research is conclusive. Human life is fundamentally precarious.”
Dissenting voices were quick to contest the results however. In particular, leaders in the technology sector rejected the findings outright. “These findings are erroneous and misleading. Our research indicates that technology can in fact solve the problem of human impermanence.” Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft issued a joint statement along with a new product announcement: “Our new device eliminates the problems of human suffering, disease, stress and death. We’ve also offering a free app with many of the same features. Now available on iTunes.”
The most vigorous dissent came from experts within the marketing industry. A spokeswoman from the Marketing Alliance, a trade-industry group, was clear: “We reject these findings outright. We’ve been selling practical life solutions to our consumers for decades. Our consumers consistently report satisfaction with our products and services. There is simply no human problem that cannot be solved with more aggressive advertising.”
For their part, professors and researchers in the biological community supported the findings. Richard Dawkins spoke for many when he said, “This finding is perfectly consistent with everything we know about the natural world. The inevitable fate for every individual is death, just as the ultimate fate for every species is extinction. As far as we can tell, suffering and death is an inevitable feature of life itself: 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct. No one here gets out alive.”
Other voices concurred. A spokesperson for the International Affiliation of Buddhist Scholars said “Ah, yes, it looks like the Buddha had it right all along. We’ve been working with this reality for a very long time now. I think you’ll just have to get used to it. You might try meditation. Works for us.”