Last year, a life insurance agent came to Nathan DeWall’s Lexington, Kentucky, home to weigh him, take his blood pressure and ask a litany of health- and life-related questions to predict when the 34-year-old would die. A few weeks later, DeWall received an envelope in the mail, containing the result: He would live to be 88.
“What does that number really mean?” asks DeWall, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky who studies how people cope with the prospect of their own mortality. Would a few extra slices of pizza push him down to 87.7? Would a bit more time on the treadmill move the needle to 88.3?
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