Gerontology Wiki

Editor's note: this article is about the typologies and history of longevity myths (the theoretical constructs). For a list of individual longevity-myth cases, please see List of longevity myths (130+).

Longevity myths are, by definition, claims to extreme longevity that are widely believed, but which are scientifically outside the realm of statistical possibility (usually taken to be above age 130).
There are several categories of longevity myths. Each category describes the rationale or motivation that leads to the particular age misstatement.
Robert Douglas Young, in his 2008 national-student-award (ESPO) winning Master's thesis, "African-American Longevity Advantage: Myth or Reality?" postulated several categories of "longevity myth." These included:
A. Patriarchal (looking to a religious/quasi-historical elder, such as "Father Abraham", 175 years old)
B. Village Elder (a local in the community looked up as someone of great age, such as Moloko Temo)
C. Fountain of Youth (the idea that a substance such as "miracle water" can confer longevity)
D. Shangri-La (the idea that a remove, exotic valley...such as Hunza or Vilcabamba...can confer extreme longevity to its inhabitants)
E. Nationalist (playing up someone such as Shirali Muslimov of Azerbaijian, alleged to be 168)
F. Spiritual Practice (someone such as Li-Ching-Yuen of China, allegedly 256)
g. Other (Racial, Family, etc.)
In 2010, Young joined with several other collegues in the field to write the Typologies of Extreme Longevity myths article, which expanded and extrapolated from this initial thesis to 11 categories:

Eleven typologies of false claims were: Religious Authority Myth, Village Elder Myth, Fountain of Youth Myth (substance), Shangri-La Myth (geographic), Nationalist Pride, Spiritual Practice, Familial Longevity, Individual and/or Family Notoriety, Military Service, Administrative Entry Error, and Pension-Social Entitlement Fraud (cite to

For validated claims please see Oldest Validated supercentenarians All-Time; for partially-validated, and unvalidated claims see Longevity Claims (115-135).