A story of ninety year-old nuns

In a piece published on page 109 of the special issue of La Recherche (a scientific periodical) on the aging process (July- August 1999), we read the following : “avoidance of intellectual activities is a major factor in aging badly. Witness a study on 170 nuns in Minnesota, showing that those who aged worse were those who had received the least schooling.”

This single piece of evidence from a study of a small sample of an admittedly quite unusual population seems to afford a weak argument in favor of the rule announced. Do these Minnesota nuns have the peculiarity of, precisely, not having any peculiarity ? Nuntheless, the rule itself may be true. We have also been spared the correlation, probably not very close, between the quality (?) of schooling and intellectual activity in adulthood. 

Mélanie Leclair
October 1999

Penumbra, 2001 June