3 Minute Monday – Maniacs, Wives & Midwits

Hi friend,

I have another new man crush.

Aimo Koivunen was a Finnish soldier, assigned to a ski patrol on 15 March 1944 along with several other Finnish soldiers.

Three days into their mission on 18 March, the group was attacked and surrounded by Soviet forces.

They had insufficient numbers to fight back and were forced to flee.

Koivunen became fatigued after skiing for a long distance but couldn’t stop, despite the ruthless difficulty of trailblazing in unpacked snow.

They needed to pick up the pace.

It just so happened that Koivunen was carrying his patrol’s entire supply of army-issued Pervitin, a German “miracle drug” used to remain awake while on duty. Otherwise known as methamphetamine.

But this was no normal meth, this was pharmaceutical-quality meth direct from the laboratory. Absolute head-spinning wartime-grade human horsepower.

Given the purity, you might think that dosing carefully would be a good idea.

Wrong.

Koivunen consumed the entire supply of Pervitin; enough for 30 men.

The subsequent manic burst of energy caused him to pace his squad so aggressively that they outran all of the pursuing forces and the Soviets gave up.

The rest of Koivunen’s squad realised that he was a danger to himself and everyone else so took his ammunition and knife away.

When his team turned around after packing away his possessions, they discovered that Koivunen had disappeared.

Koivunen had entered a state of delirium and after skiing on his own in a random direction for 62 miles, eventually lost consciousness and fell asleep.

He later recalled waking up the following morning, now separated from his patrol and with no supplies.

At this point, a Soviet soldier popped out from behind a tree and starts shooting.

Koivunen raises his gun to return fire and discovers that his squad took all his ammunition.

In a last ditch attempt to save himself, Koivunen hurls his rifle at the soldier and the soldier explodes into a cloud of white.

It turns out that there was no soldier, it was just a tree branch covered in snow.

Koivunen is now hallucinating.

He sets off trying to find his comrades and after 2 hours sees his friends’ camp and fire in the distance.

Upon finally arriving, Koivunen realises that he’s not found his team, he’s actually skied directly into a Soviet camp.

Chaos ensues and Koivunen escapes the Soviet pursuit again, this time solo.

After another full day and night’s skiing he comes across a wooden cabin.

He starts a fire in the middle of the cabin rather than in the fireplace and lays down to sleep.

He wakes up outside the smouldering remains of what used to be his cabin and immediately enters into a fight to the death against a 65lb wolverine using his knife.

But he doesn’t have a knife, it turns out he’s used his compass as a weapon, which is now broken.

And it wasn’t a wolverine, it was a tree log.

Koivunen is still hallucinating.

He then chases the North Star for 8 hours straight thinking it’s a fire in the distance.

He finds an abondoned Forward Observational Base and steps on a landmine left behind by the Germans as a booby trap, blowing up his foot.

Doesn’t die.

Decides to go and investigate the base.

Upon opening the door to the base Koivunen is hit by another booby trap which explodes him and the door 30 yards backward.

Koivunen says he spent a full week laid in the snow melting ice to drink in a tiny fire before three Finnish soldiers came upon him.

One of which immediately steps on a landmine.

The other two decide to save their friend rather than Koivunen saying they’ll come back to get him, leaving him all alone again.

Days later, the Finnish soldiers actually do come back to get him and Koivunen is finally saved and transported to a nearby hospital.

It turned out he had been gone for 14 days and skied more than 400km or 248.5 mi.

Despite it being a full 2 weeks since he took the drugs, Koivunen’s resting heart rate was measured at 200 beats per minute and he weighed only 43 kg (94.8 lbs).

In the fortnight that he was gone, he subsisted only on pine buds, melted snow and a single Siberian Jay which he beat to death with his ski pole and ate raw.

He died in 1989 at the age of 71.

MODERN WISDOM

I do a podcast where I pretend to have a British accent. You should subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This week’s upcoming episodes:

Monday.
Dr Mike Israetel – the best evidence-based exercise scientist on the internet breaks down how to effortlessly lose fat using science. Sus jokes and great advice abound. So good.

Thursday.
Gurwinder Bhogal – yet another great breakdown of the best insights from psychology, social science, philosophy, mental models and more.

Saturday.
Bryan Klaas – how does Chaos Theory, chance and fluke play a role in shaping our lives? Using examples from history this is honestly one of my favourite episodes this year. Some mind-blowing insights and stories in here.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED

1.
Men with hot wives are perceived as being higher status.

“From a paper titled “One’s Better Half: Romantic Partners Function as Social Signals,” the authors find that people think men with attractive partners have higher status, relative to men with less attractive partners.

The authors suggest that attractive romantic partners function similarly to high-quality luxury goods.

When you have an attractive partner or an expensive watch, people infer that you have desirable underlying attributes.

As always, it’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily imply that people are consciously and deliberately attempting to signal things about themselves (though sometimes people do this).

Most of the time we do things like buy expensive stuff and seek attractive partners not to impress others, but largely because they make us feel good.

But from an evolutionary perspective, effortful actions can’t evolve just because they happen to feel good.

The good feelings evolved to motivate the behaviour which must have some hidden benefit.

This behaviour is usually unconscious.” — Rob Henderson

2.
Midwit Appeal Theorem

By definition, most people are near average intelligence (i.e. midwits).

Therefore, most insights don’t gain prominence unless they appeal to, and can be explained by, midwits.

The most influential ideas are not the most intelligent ones but the most mediocre.

3.
Fremdschämen

A German term which describes the process of being vicariously embarrassed by someone else.

For example when somebody’s concept for a great party gag goes terrible wrong and you watch him fail in the middle of all of his friends.

LIFE HACK

How to work out if a job candidate would be a good fit.

“Would you want to be roommates with this person for 3 months?” is a good rubric to use when assessing the vibe-alignment of potential new hires.

Big love,
Chris x

Try my productivity drink Neutonic.
Share this article with your friends here.

PS
2 weeks until Neutonic USA restock!

Share:

Get the Modern Wisdom Reading List for FREE by signing up below.