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 Mislimov 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 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062986/)
- For validated claims please see List of the oldest people; for partially-validated and unvalidated claims see Longevity Claims.