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Living A Life In Full

Jun 1, 2020

Scott Carney is a bestselling author, anthropologist and investigative journalist whose works blend narrative non-fiction with ethnography. Scott has worked in some of the most dangerous and unlikely corners of the world, spending extensive time in South Asia. He was a contributing editor at Wired for five years and his writing also appears in Mother Jones, Men’s Journal, Playboy, Foreign Policy, Discover, Outside and Fast Company.

I find his journalistic work to be a cross between George Plimpton and Tim Ferriss – in that he is quite the participant in the journalistic work he does. His work has been the subject of a variety of radio and television programs, including NPR and National Geographic TV. In 2010, he won the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for his story “Meet the Parents,” which tracked an international kidnapping-to-adoption ring.

He’s the author of four books including his recently published The Wedge which will be large part of our conversation in this episode. His other books include The Red Market, The Enlightenment Trap, and What Doesn’t Kill Us which was a New York Times bestseller.

In this episode we discuss his award-winning book, The Red Market, based on his six years investigating the underground market for human bodies and body parts. I first came across his writing in What Doesn’t Kill Us. That book was about the semi-famous breathing guru, Wim Hof. As for context, I’ve summited Mt. Kilimanjaro and I had to put my water bottle inside my Gortex jacket to keep it from freezing, and Scott and Wim climbed it without a shirt on at negative thirty degrees. Scott explains how such “feats” are done.

Wim endorsed Scott’s latest book, The Wedge, as "Crazy good writing" and I wholeheartedly agree. Ben Greenfield, who is also a NYTs bestselling author, said: “prepare to enter an intriguing world of self-improvement and physical and mental performance that you have never before discovered. Scott Carney, once again, has elegantly intertwined his ferocious style of immersive journalism with an entertaining educational approach that is sure to improve your life and longevity forever.” And both Dave “Bulletproof” Asprey and Amelia “Queen of Pain” Boone wrote Forewords.

In The Wedge, Scott sets a framework of human evolution and migration, and introduces the concept of the power of choice as an equally significant evolutionary force vis-à-vis the limits of endurance. Key to this is what he calls “The Wedge,” in how humans can wedge control over automatic physiological responses into the breaking point between stress and biology. And off we go…

Scott’s searched the globe for examples of what he calls “the subtle language of how the body responds to its environment.” We start with studying fear in a neuroscience laboratory at Stanford and then...

  • Kettlebell partner passing,
  • Sensory deprivation tanks (a la Altered States)
  • Placebo paradox and mindful health
  • experiments with breathing routines that border transcendence via Wim and DMT breathing, ayahuasca in a Peruvian Amazon jungle with a shaman, and “Kent & Lane” and MDMA augmented couples therapy

We end with his recommendations on where someone could start if they were interested in their own personal exploration, to help us all live our lives in full.