Big smart monkeys


But we are just big smart monkeys, right? One of the driving forces in our technological progress has been to try to maximise comfort and convenience – and that has had consequences. (Scott Carney)

Wouldn’t any big smart monkey prefer central heating, a comfy sofa and the TV remote to swimming in ice, climbing Kilimanjaro in shorts, meditating naked in the snow, or running a marathon barefoot in the Arctic? Not according to Wim Hof, the subject of Scott Carney’s book What Doesn’t Kill Us. Hof believes that exposure to extreme cold, by freeing up mitochondria-rich “brown fat”, revives the innate energies and immune responses, the “biological armoury”, that allowed our ancestors to survive in freezing conditions. He claims that the regime can treat auto-immune diseases like Parkinsons’ and Crohn’s Disease. (Carney is not sold on this).

There’s no doubt that Hof does do these things, and that you too, if you choose, could learn to. If you prefer to stay in your armchair, though, you could do worse than read What Doesn’t Kill Us. We need these big, daring, crazy thinkers to shake us out of our cocoons.


5 thoughts on “Big smart monkeys

    1. Scott Carney, the author, also goes in for those. And he’s done the meditating-in snow thing too. I discovered there were quite a lot of books along the same lines on Amazon. Brown fat is the new black.

  1. Like Carney, I’m not so sure about this cold business. Coming from a cold climate I’ll have none of it by choice. I’m sticking to hot baths too. (I’ll meditate there very well thank you)

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