INTRODUCTION

If you ask people you know well, or even people you barely know at all, to voice their opinions on various aspects of aging and older adulthood, they will probably be more than happy to do so. One thing is certain: most people already have strongly held views on this topic. As we were writing this book, we mentioned its title (Great Myths of Aging) to close friends, casual friends, and even people we had just met for the first time. These people ranged in age – some were young adults, some were middle-aged, and some were already members of what most of us consider to be the older adult age group (65+). In every instance, people were eager to weigh in with their thoughts on a broad swath of subjects related to the aging process, and particularly their thoughts about older adults in general. Indeed, most considered themselves to be experts on these topics. But when it came right down to it, their avowed expertise often rested on personal experience, anecdotal evidence, or both. We have no gripe with personal experience; we, too, commonly speak from such a vantage point. However, in the area of our professional expertise, we are partial to the scientific method – which can often lead to very different conclusions. If good science contradicts a single personal experience or two, then we advocate that people vote with science. After all, we would all want others to shape their approach toward us in a way that is informed by the best and most valid sources rather ...

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