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Old 01-08-2019, 05:46 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is online now
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Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
A 1995 article says

So it sounds as though M. Raffray, the guy who bought her apartment "en viager", knew Jeanne Calment personally. In fact, it appears that Calment lived in Arles all her life as a member of a well-known upper-class family, so it's not as though she was a hermit squirreled away in some village somewhere where her identity could be kept very obscure.

Also, the daughter, Yvonne Calment Billiot, bore a son in 1926 who was raised by his grandmother Jeanne after Yvonne's death from pneumonia in 1934. It would be rather peculiar for the 36-year-old mother of a seven-year-old son to successfully pass off her 59-year-old mother's death as her own and assume the older woman's identity for the next 63 years, in a city where both women were well known. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I'd definitely want more concrete evidence in order to believe it.
In response to that, the linked articles talk about how a French insurance company in 1997 was bitching about having to continue to pay when it "knew" it was really Yvonne and not Jeanne. It doesn't explain how it "knew" that or give any supporting documentation, but I suppose it is possible that M. Raffray took out an insurance policy against his annuity agreement.

I'm obviously just guessing as there is no evidence of that, and I've never heard of such a policy in the United States, but I'm sure such an insurance product could exist. And if he did so, perhaps he was helping "Jeanne" cash in further on her fraud by giving her an annuity based upon a 90 year old when she was only 67.

As far as passing for her mother, I know that a similar scheme would not be possible in the United States. For example, when my father passed away in 2008, there would be no chance that I could pull off such a ruse. In Arles, France in 1934? I'm not sure, especially if the government was lax and many of her friends and associates went along with it.

Also, keep in mind that "going along with it" would only mean not challenging official government paperwork. It doesn't mean that they couldn't play cards or drink wine or eat cheese or do whatever French people did in 1934 and still not call her Yvonne or Mom or whatever. Even as her claims came to light in the 1990s, there would have been very few adults still alive that remembered the ole switcheroo and most if not all of them would have not wanted to upset the apple cart. Today, I would gather that none are still alive.

I think that there is enough here, given the interest in human longevity, for the French government to consent to these exhumations for DNA purposes.

Last edited by UltraVires; 01-08-2019 at 05:47 AM.
Old 01-08-2019, 06:24 AM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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And there was a World War and an occupation in between the purpoyted fraud and Mrs/Miss Calament becomiung famous, nearly 40 years infact. Plenty of time for most people to die.

Admittedly, I find the claim to be untenable, since investigators of extreme ages do infact check for exactly this fraud. And while I don't doubt it would have been possible to withstand the scrutiny of the bureacracy, of investigators, not so much.
Old 01-08-2019, 07:52 AM
Grim Render Grim Render is offline
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I seem to remember something about a similar set of frauds in the Caucasus mountains in the days of the Soviet empire. Before the internet I am afraid. But apparently villagers in the Caucasus mountains were none too fond of the Soviets or the years of military conscription they imposed.

So when an old man died, his son would take over his identity, his son again would take his, etc. This led to many young men dodging military service, and many middle aged men getting a pension a generation early. And of course, a very high average lifespan, curiously with the males living far longer than the females. The fraud was heavily aided by everyone being in on it and perceiving themselves as an outgroup to the Muscovites, as well as the harsh sunlight in the Mediterranean-latitude mountains leading to the basically light-skinned population wrinkling up very early in life.

Of course statisticians noticed and it resulted in a fad about the yogurts from the region being very healthy.

But I would not be surprised if Russians believe there must be similar frauds in the west.

Last edited by Grim Render; 01-08-2019 at 07:53 AM.
Old 01-08-2019, 11:05 AM
Kimstu Kimstu is online now
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Useful article on longevity myths and misconceptions.
Old 01-09-2019, 01:37 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Here's another way to think about the statistical qualities of the list of the verified oldest people according to Wikipedia:

There are 26 people who were 115 when they died (24 women and 2 men), 11 people who were 116 when they died (10 women and 1 man), 7 people who were 117 when they died (all women), 1 woman who was 119 when she died, and 1 woman who was 122 when she died. (The list in Wikipedia doesn't include everyone who live to be 114 at death, so we can't go further using it.) So there are 46 people who lived to be 115. Let's now make two assumptions. Let's first suppose that this list is at least pretty close to being accurate about the ages being verified and not filled with false ages. Second, let's suppose that it's true, as proposed in the articles I linked to, that the mortality rate plateaus at age 105. At that point, if you live to age X (X equal to or greater than 105), you have exactly a 50% chance of living to age X + 1. We would then expect the following on average if that were true:

23 people of the 46 would die at 115 (and 26 did, in fact).
11.5 people of the 46 would die at 116 (and 11 did, in fact).
5.75 people of the 46 would die at 117 (and 7 did, in fact).
2.875 people of the 46 would die at 118 (and 0 did, in fact).
1.4375 people of the 46 would die at 119 (and 1 did, in fact).
0.78575 people of the 46 would die at 120 (and 0 did, in fact).
0.359375 people of the 46 would die at 121 (and 0 did, in fact).
0.1796875 people of the 46 would die at 122 (and 1 did, in fact).

This strikes me as pretty close, but that's just my guess based on a quick look. Someone might want to run a chi-squared test on it or do some Monte Carlo testing (or something equivalent) to tell me how close. And, of course, all this requires the two assumptions I made.
Old 01-11-2019, 07:58 PM
Baker Baker is offline
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I really do wonder why some people live so much longer than others who share their ancestry and living conditions.

My maternal grandmother was just short of 108 years old when she died, and nobody else in the family has even come close to that. My mom has one cousin who is in his early 90's, but given his health will no live much longer. For anyone else on my mother or father's side the upper 80's has been the oldest. My mom will turn 87 in May, but she broke her hip recently and may, or may not, have to go into assisted care.

My grandmother was born earlier than any of the rest of us of course, when times were more difficult and more children were lost. Of her five other siblings only she and her next oldest brother lived to see grandchildren.
Old 01-11-2019, 10:59 PM
dorvann dorvann is offline
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If these claims are true that Jeanne Calment was a fraud, that means no one has lived past 120. I wonder how long it will be before someone is verified to have lived over 120. It seems like 120 may be the upper barrier to human life expectancy.

Last edited by dorvann; 01-11-2019 at 10:59 PM.
Old 01-12-2019, 12:47 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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There is no reason to think that there is an upper limit to human life expectancy. At any particular age, there is a particular probability that you will live another year. It doesn't matter if the probability that a 120-year-old has a 50% chance or a 25% chance or a 10% chance or a 5% chance or a 1% chance or a 0.1% chance that they will live another year. If enough people live to be 120, the chances are good that one of them will live to 121.
Old 01-12-2019, 12:49 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Seems like living to 120 is just a matter of replacing enough body parts. We'll get there eventually.
Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.
Old 01-12-2019, 10:56 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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It's also a matter of there being enough people over history to live to any given age. There have been a total of 105 billion people who have ever lived since 50,000 B.C. Currently, the odds that you will live to 100 vary between 1.5 per 10,000 to 3.5 per 10,000 in some typical first-world countries. If the probability that you will live one more year stays at 50% after 100, that means the probability that you will live to 120 is somewhere between 1.5 * ((-2)**20) and 3.5 * ((-2)**20). If all 105 billion people who had ever lived so far had lived in the equivalent of current first-world conditions, we would then expect that somewhere between 15 and 35 of them would have lived to 120.

But that's still low compared to what would happen if mankind continues to exist for another billion years and spreads out over the entire Milky Way galaxy. Suppose over the entire past and future history of the human race there will be 105 quadrillion people. Suppose it is impossible to make the average lifespan greater than is possible in the most long-lived countries of today. Then we can expect there will be 35,000,000 people who will ever live to be 120 over the history of the human race in the past and the future. If it continues to be true that at 120 you have a 50% chance of dying every year, it will then be true that we can expect someone to live to 145. To have more people living past 120, you can either (1) make great medical improvements or (2) have enough people who ever live or (3) both.
Old 01-12-2019, 05:00 PM
Fretful Porpentine Fretful Porpentine is offline
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The plot thickens; apparently, the theory that Calment was a fraud may itself have been the product of a Russian disinformation campaign
Live merrily, and trust to good verses.
-- Robert Herrick


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