Survival Sage on Who Lives, Dies—And Why

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Also, in many cases, people just panicked. When we say "panic" we normally think of people screaming and running around, but that is not the only kind of panic. There is another kind of panic in which you just don't do anything, and that is a very common form. In fact, in airliner crashes that are survivable—say the airplane crash-lands and people are alive but the thing starts on fire and you have got to get out quickly—a lot of the time, when the firemen put it out and go in, they find people dead, strapped in their seats because they didn't even open their seat belt.

As Deep Survival progresses, it goes from rather specific examples of survival to larger themes of spirituality and philosophy. Where do you think those larger themes fit in?

I think the message there is that these concepts contained in the stories of successful survivors have been around for a long time. They have been taught in other forms for centuries. Plato talked about how emotion had to be reigned in by reason. The ancient Chinese wisdom of the Tao Te Ching, if you read it with this in mind, sounds a lot like good advice for survival. Of course, it was originally meant to be read by ruling class warriors and such, so it makes perfect sense.

What has surprised you about the initial response the book has received?

The biggest surprise has been how well women have received this book, which has been satisfying for me. Early on, there was some concern that there might not be as good a response from women because there are all of these macho episodes in the book. But it's been quite the opposite, and I think that's due to the philosophical nature of the book and the message that the macho guys are the first to go when you are in a real survival situation. In order to survive, you can't just be all force and will. That only gets you so far.

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