Prepper Polymath

17 Oct

I learned a new word “polymath” which means something akin to “renaissance man.” This is a person who learns a variety of fields and is well-balanced in their knowledge. I picked this word up watching this video: “Martial Arts Training, Juggling and Personal Development”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O2cjvgFlAg

I agree with the philosophy of the video. Some of the lessons: “always strive to improve” and “never get complacent.” He writes about the “Zombie Brain” (bad term for preppers) to refer to that part of our brain that can go to autopilot. His point: Once we master something so well it becomes part of our zombie brain, no new neural pathways are being developed. Only when we push beyond what we’ve mastered and venture into the new do we improve our brain.

Some things you eventually want so well honed they become automatic. Moving your head away from a punch and effectively drawing your pistol are two examples. Once you’ve mastered a skill though, you need to find something new to challenge your abilities.

It got me to thinking: What skills should a prepper polymath have?

A few of my ideas (in no particular order):

1. You should be able to shoot. You don’t need to be Ed McGivern, but you should be able to shoot well enough to defend yourself up close if the need ever arises. A certain familiarity with the most common weapons is good to have too. You don’t need to own a Beretta 92 or a Glock 19 to know these are extremely common. If you found yourself in a situation where you needed to pick up somebody else’s weapon and use it, would you know which of these weapons has a manual safety? The same is true of the old 870 Remington shotgun and the AR-15. These weapons are very common, so it’s good to have some knowledge of how they work, even if you don’t own them.

2. You should know the basics of sanitation. Why is it a good idea to generally fully cook meat? Why do we wash our hands before preparing food? Why do we want to bring questionable water to a boil before drinking it? Poor sanitation is a killer in disasters.

3. You should have some understanding of the body’s capability and first aid. This is akin to having a Ph.D. in philosophy for an intellectual polymath, I guess. I’m relatively weak in knowing first aid, so I can’t be too critical of others, but I’d rank this as the number one valuable area of knowledge. If things are really, really bad, and you have significant medical/first aid training, you’ll be one of the most valuable people on scene.

It’s good to know the body’s limits. How long can you go without water? How long without food? Is it too cold to go swimming? Are you working too hard in hot weather? How many miles can you reasonably hike it a day without a backpack?

4. Once you start learning about the body’s limits, you’ll be on your way to learning just a bit about wilderness survival. Why do we want to build a fire? Why do we avoid mushrooms as food, if we don’t know about mushrooms. Trick question: What birds are edible? How do we keep warm or stay cool when we’re outdoors? Even if you have no interest in the outdoors, it’s good to know the basics.

5. You should know how to prepare food and cook. This is basic to life and can let you utilize whatever resources you have to their best advantage. A corny example: If all you have is bread and cheese and some vegetable oil, if you just drank some of the oil and ate the bread and cheese, you’d get nourishment. If you made toasted cheese sandwiches, you’d get nourishment and enjoy the meal. Psychologically, there’s a world of difference.

6. (Optional) For the prepper who only wants to get through a few weeks or even a few months of disaster, this can be neglected. If you’re interested in surviving a long-term situation, it’s good to know how to procure food. Many of us in the city have little idea of how food is actually produced. If your pantry was empty and no one in the world could help you, how would you get a meal?

This is a wide field that encompasses many fields. It could include knowing about hunting and butchering game. It could include becoming a fisherman. It could be learning about gardening or raising rabbits or chickens.

What do you think a prepper polymath or renaissance prepper should know?

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