How we know the oldest person who ever lived wasn’t faking her age

A Russian researcher claims that Jeanne Calment, believed to have lived to be 122 years old, was a fraud. Calment died at age 59 in 1934, and her daughter posed as her mother to avoid paying inheritance taxes, dying at the advanced but unremarkable age of 99.

However, researchers say the evidence for fraud is weak, and Calment likely was who she claimed to be, a 122-year-old woman who met Van Gogh, rode a bicycle until she was 100, and smoked two packs a day until a few years before she died.

2 thoughts on “How we know the oldest person who ever lived wasn’t faking her age

    1. Mitch Post author

      Yes. That was one of the points raised in the article. It was an interesting discussion of how researchers verify the age of “supercentenarians,” people over 110 years old. They don’t just rely on birth records, which are unreliable, particularly going back 110 years. They also review the records accumulated over a lifetime, interview the subject about memories and verify those memories where possible, and interview people who have known her a long time.

      The article concludes that if the woman was a fraud, her entire village would have had to have been in on it. Why would they?


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