The Jeff Wise Blog

“Damned Connecticut” Delves into Extreme Fear

I’ve been off the grid for the last few days, reporting a story about antivirus guru and larger-than-life character John McAfee, who I’m writing a profile about for Fast Company magazine. McAfee embodies the fear-embracing mindset — given the time and the means to do pretty much whatever he wants, he chooses to push the envelope. When I first met him in the New Mexico desert, he was flying ultralight airplanes at low altitude; since then he’s moved to Central America and is trying to develop a way to use medicinal plants to fight bacterial infection.

In the meantime, the intriguing website Damned Connecticut has posted a interview that Ray Bendici did with me about how fear works in the brain. I think Ray did a really nice job of honing in on some of the more intriguing aspects of the topic.

The picture, by the way, shows one of McAfee’s workers holding a scorpion that we found scurrying around a patch of jungle where McAfee is trying to grow his newly discovered plants. Though the sting is said to be incredibly painful, the fellow showed very little fear. As for me, I was happy to keep my distance.

Filed under: Extreme Fear

3 Responses

  1. Bob says:

    Jeff:

    Good work. You hit a nerve.

    Thought you might find this of interest…the players change but the story never will.

    http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Jan/28/bz/bz03p.html

    E-mail to People of Molokai via eletters@mauinews.com (3/2005): John has a history of manipulation and deception that’s well chronicled in the Silicon Valley business world. Looks like he’s at it again; unfortunately your beautiful island is being victimized and in his path. John’s Y2K “scare” was one of the most chronicled business world deceptions of all time. J.M’s motives are calculating, self-serving and controlling. Be careful of his magnetism and his “good will gestures” as he’s brilliant at influencing people who can help his cause. S. Valley

    • Jeff Wise says:

      Thanks for this, Bob! McAfee told me his version of the Molokai story at great length — not surprisingly he had a very different perspective, assured me that he had no intention to develop, etc. What I found particularly interesting about this story is that he was fined for building a seawall! I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read the comments over at Fast Company, but he and his sock puppets spent a lot of time repudiating the story he told me about building a seawall on Ambergris Caye.

      • Bob says:

        “The one thing he may not have counted on is his own restless nature. If his enthusiasm for self-imposed exile…extinguished within a few years. At that point, the game will get really interesting.”

        Your writing has ensnared him. Karma is a wonderful thing. An addictive personality plus an oversized ego can make for fascinating theater.

        More here:

        http://radsoft.net/rants/20010814,00.shtml

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Thinking About Fear & the Brain

If I find myself in a severe crisis, will I be able to keep it together? How can I control anxiety and panic? Is it possible to lead a life less bounded by fear? These are the sorts of questions that I'll be exploring in this blog, an offshoot of my book, Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, published on December 8, 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

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