The Very Gnollish J. Stanton Interview on Everything

How many of the 600 or so attendees to AHS11 at UCLA weren’t shocked by the appearance of J. Stanton? …Mohawk? Long! ….Why?

…We did covered Gnolls in the interview. Spotted Hyena based creatures that, if it could talk to humans—as they non-magiacally can in The Noll Credo—would almost certainly find us less repulsive if we wore….mohawks. My story. Sticking to it. What I didn’t know is that it was already a fantasy creature. Which is better, really. It had a certain following or popularity already, and J. exploited it.

Damn capitalists!

J. is a joy to have around. …A little story. He emailed me when he was leaving South Lake Tahoe and gave me an ETA. An hour after that ETA had passed, I wondered what had happened. But, before I wondered too much, he showed up. Turned out, he was a first responder for a guy on a very big motorcycle who’d had the misfortune of having it slide out from under him around the 8,730 ft summit of Ebbetts Pass. J. had to make sure all was alright, helped him right his huge bike, gave him all his water, and that was that.

…And you get to learn the story. I doubt J. would ever tell it on his blog. …He didn’t even tell me until I got a bit of whiskey into his system.

There was not a moment of silence in the place from when he got there, to 2am; recommencing at about 9am or so. We did 2 takes of the interview, and due to tech problems with the first, we went totally with the second.

This is the first time I’ve tried to mash video from 2 cameras together. We had mine on a tripod, and Beatrice shot various clips at various angles—and at various zoom—and I integrated a lot of those clips. I’m a total amateur; so for one, instead of a uniform audio recording, it’s audio from each camera. Attempting to use audio from the one and trying to split, replace video, and sync was just far too much. But I think that in the end, it’s pretty amazing what a single guy with two cameras can do with a little tech in a few hours. This was millions of dollars worth of equipment when your annoying teenage daughter was born.

We covered a lot of ground in what comes out to 27 minutes and change.

  • The Gnoll Credo, his book, how it’s a fantasy without magic, and how it relates to our paleo/primal dispositions, even in social spheres.
  • His blog, What’s his purpose? Why so sciency?
  • Foord reward/palatability vs. Low Carb.
  • Must the science be settled before you can play hopscotch with your life?
  • AHS11 and AHS12.

I’ll try to get up an audio only version in a day or so. In the meantime, here’s the video, at our cabin in the Sierras, from the deck.

Here’s audio only:

Come join us both at AHS12. If you want to, but can’t get tickets, come and picket the place….and make sure you have the nefarious names of Brent Pottenger and Aaron Blaisdell clearly visible on your signs. They are responsible for creating far too much success too soon, with insufficient capacity. :)

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  1. Magna Cerebrum says:

    Between J’s ridiculously stupid haircut and Richard’s stuttering, that video is unwatchable.

  2. Josh S says:

    Yeah…it’s almost like a bunch of amateurs made it. Oh wait…


  3. @Magna Cerebrum–


  4. My opinion, is the most underappreciated paleo blog out there. His book is equally amazing. How incredible to see an actual interview with JS! Thanks, Richard!

  5. My favorite part was when the camera took a trip up the trees! No, really, that interview was awesome. I’m not making it to AHS since I’ll be pushing out a baby right about then but I’ve always been curious about J. Stanton. So thanks for that interview, Richard!

    He’s pretty high brow alright but very down to earth, cool, and forgiving. I’ve been reading his blog for the last year or so and really appreciate his articles and topics.

  6. What a cool guy. The Gnoll Credo changed my life in such a huge way, I’ve always wanted to know what J looks like. Great interview, Richard.

    • Steven

      J doesn’t flaunt his appearance. He sports a very unconventional coiffe, yet has no pics on his blog. When he showed up at AHS11 he was dressed in a suit & tie, and for this interview, changed into slacks and a long sleeved, collared shirt.

      People ought to be connecting dots about all of that.

  7. Pauline says:

    Comment duplicated should have been posted here – Faces are the most interesting part of being human, I like his face and its expressiveness. I always thought our voices were like fingerprints too, unique and non-duplicable. Can’t wait to listen to the complete video, got things to do first. Scott, thanks for Shadduppayourface!

  8. He lives! I always felt J. Stanton was a mystery man – a shadowy figure seen in the distance on his mountain bike, dispensing paleo wisdom and insight but always from a distance.

    Finding his blog, through Keoni Galt’s site, was an awakening for me. I think I just have to dive in, stop with the sourdough already and give paleo my full attention for a month or so, Whole30 style or something like that.

    Great interview with a great man, Richard. Thanks.

    • LeonRover says:

      And J’s a backcountry skier. THAT’s what most important – to other soft snow addicts!

      I guess J is is a cool version of Rich.

      But hey, the PaleoDisc needs both COOL and HOT.

      Nice chat, Guys.

  9. Thank you, Richard and Beatrice, for being such gracious hosts!

    Richard actually asked me to do this over a month ago — but I had the idea that since Arnold was sorta-kinda-close to Tahoe, that we could do the interview in person instead of over Skype. It took a while to coordinate schedules, but I’m glad we did. The result was much more natural and enjoyable for us both.


  10. Pauline says:

    Just watched video, very well done Richard. Really enjoyed it!

    • Pauline:

      Do you mean to tell me that in the mountains, at our cabin, and without a 10 millions of dollar production studio and a team of professional video editors making $60k plus, that it was actually watchable?

      You need a new handle. How about “Magna Cerebrum ++”, as a suggestion?

  11. Ok…rabbit trail. Isn’t it pronounced creeedo? Ok. Enough of that. His Book is on my wish list. What a beautiful gentle man! Richard, thanks for the intelligent interview.

  12. Awesome guy!

    Part at 19:00 is so important. It makes life much easier. I am grateful it happened to me through discovering the unscientific plausible paleo framework 😉

  13. pffftttt ”i,m not an asshole,i,m the whole damn ass.” u didn’t ban cj ihope. he is so funny.

    • Who taught you to write this way?

    • Who is ‘CJ’ and why should I care?

      I don’t moderate, and I only ban spammers and obvious trolls. Annoying people get told to go fuck themselves, by myself and other commenters.

      J. Stanton drove over a summit, several hours, gave help to a guy on the way, has a book at a modest price, blogs for free and has upped his capital by his own means once getting a bit of well-deserved recognition, so much so he’s a presenter at the next AHS which he has to spend well over $1,000 to do, even on the cheap, and the very first comment he gets for his interview is that?

      That guy will always, always be my enemy.

  14. There’s an audio only posted, now. Didn’t spend a long time finding which would be the best source. If anyone has a better suggestion in terms of less commercial obviousness, I can switch things up quick.

  15. I can see how trying to sync video from one camera’s footage to the audio from another camera could be a PITA. If the cameras are not limited to the built-in mics, you could feed both cameras the audio from a single external mic or each camera could have its own external mic, with the mics placed next to each other. Either way, you’d end up with two different videos with identical or very similar sounding audio tracks.

    • But then you get into simple camera limitations.

      • Great stuff.

        I think the new version of Adobe Premiere can detect similarities from the audio tracks of two separate cameras to sync them automatically, but it’s not cheap.

        Anyway, thanks for the interview. Anything J. Stanton is worth the wait.

      • Nothing with Adobe is cheap (except Reader and Flash). I live in SJ and I can physically see their two high rise buildings, dictating what they have to get.

        I don’t think I’ve ever given them a penny.

        They’ll die, soon, as will most purely software companies, perhaps except MS. I don’t care if I’m wrong.

      • non-mouse says:

        You don’t have to pay them to use their stuff… just sayin…

      • While I have no qualms about using purchased software on however many computers my wife & I have at home (only 3, now), I don’t otherwise take people’s property without paying for it (or music, or movies, i.e., bit torrent).

        Everything is pretty much being driven to free or near free, anyway.

      • My policy is to never steal anything worth less than $ 10,000,000.

        If you steal something worth $50 you’re a punk.
        If you steal something worth $10,000,000 you’re a folk hero.

      • i hate people like you

      • @ non-mouse

  16. Excellent work guys. A highly enjoyable interview.

  17. I love this interview and J. Stanton is obviously an awesome and thoughtful fellow. Thank you both for doing this.
    Regrettably he repeats the old modern supermarket fruit trope. The trope whereby modern fruit is somehow different/worse.

    Denise Minger demolished this shit.

    • steve:

      We know from the archaeological evidence that, as early as 4.2 million years ago, our ancestors of the time (Australopithecus anamensis) had teeth that were no longer adapted to a diet high in fruit. (See citations in this article.) So even if the fruits were as edible as Denise says, the evidence tells us that we were no longer eating them as a major component of our diet.

      Furthermore, I love Denise, and I’ve read that article before, but pictures of juicy-looking fruits don’t make the case. See Suzanne’s comment (07:10:28), for instance:

      “I’m South African, and I have eaten wild fruits, including the monkey orange. It’s an acquired taste, as there are overtones of what we call paraffin and USA-ers call kerosene. The photo above is like a bushveld monkey orange on steroids; I’ve never seen one so syrupy-looking; those I’ve chewed on (and I do mean chewed!) were much paler inside and rather stringy.”

      And while I’m not a fan of Richard Wrangham, given his strong vegetarian bias, I’m inclined to believe him when he says things like: “But the fruits [eaten by chimpanzees] are not oranges and apples and kiwis and strawberries. They’re like crab apples or something. They’re very dry, and they taste, well, the kind way to put it is “strong,” but basically nasty. You can’t get many of them, and they don’t have anything like the amount of sugar that domesticated varieties do. We’re used to eating fruits that have been the result of several thousands of years of agricultural selection. And if you go out into the wild and start trying to fill your stomach with fruits from wild shrubs and wild trees, you’ll find it very difficult.

      JZ: They tasted terrible and you were hungry all the time?

      RW: Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t have survived unless I came back every night and had delicious bowls of steaming pasta.”

      On this particular issue, I tend to trust someone who’s spent years of their life doing fieldwork with chimpanzees in Africa…and who’s a vegetarian biased towards eating vegetarian foods.

      Finally, many civilizations have come and gone in Africa since the ancestors of whites, Asians, etc. left. Many of the “naturally edible” fruits could easily be domesticated products of those civilizations. But this is speculative…and I believe that the strongest argument is the first. Namely, that even if ancestral African fruits were all delicious, the archaeological evidence says that we were no longer adapted to a high-fruit diet anyway, starting ~4 MYA.


      • Come on up to my neck of the woods and lets go for a walk. I can show you wild blueberries. Much more delicioius and sweeter than store bought imported from Chile.

        Sadly also much smaller.

        My hike last weekend took me through fields of them, yet it was pretty obvious if I spent the entire day collecting blueberries I would likely still be hungry.

        My native elders used blueberries as a condiment, not a staple. Although it is not played that way today in our meat phobic world. When you go to gatherings and the wild blueberries are brought in, after the women spent days collecting them, they are pretty much gone in minutes. Then the real meal starts.

        Cannot comment on Africa, but I always found it interesting that when watching TV, in a world where fruit seems so easy to gather by comparison that the primary use of time outside the home is to hunt not gather.

        J and R, thank you both for a very excellent interview. Been a fan of for a while now. Either of you want to come to Northern Ontario and do some snowshoing just let me know, I will hook you up.

      • Danny:

        Anything like these?

        Erwan LeCore and I stayed back to do some pics, ended up finding a wild blueberry stash and gorging. Then we brought the others the next day.

        There was plenty for all.

      • Hey Richard,

        Similar but from the look our plants are shorter with smaller leaves and smaller berries. Nothing tastes like wild blueberries huh?

        I think though, from a survival point of view, my point was more towards the discussion previous about whether or not fruit could have predominated our diet. I know in my homeland the answer is a very clear no. Even on pure calorie terms there is a far better use of time. Hunters hunted, children picked berries. :)

        On Primal North on Facebook I just put an album up from last weekend with some pics of the blueberries this year. I am going to put a link here, I hope it does not get flagged as spam.

      • Absolutely. Surely fun. No way to really live with a big brain to feed.

      • Murgatroyd says:

        Ever eaten a fruit called the Paw Paw? The tree is Asimini triloba and it’s fruit is the largest native fruit of North America, similar in size and shape to a mango. The flavor is complex, sort of like banana/mango. It is related to the Cherimoya and grows wild from Texas to Michigan and over to the east coast. The maroon/brown flowers are the color of rotten meat and give off a slight fetid odor. The pollinators are flies and beetles instead of butterflies and bees. People have been known to hang roadkill in the tree to enhance pollination.

  18. Trolls and gnolls…..I hope I’m not the only one having flashbacks to D&D

  19. I spent almost six months on research making sure Paleo was right for me and the physical problems I was facing at the time. Reading J’s work on another forum convinced me to finally go Paleo, and with tremendous results, I might add. I owe J so much for what he has done for my family and I. Now, time to get my knee and back completely healed up so I can make some s-turns down a big, fat, fluff-filled face with J one of these days :)

    Great interview, Richard. Thanks to both of you for doing this!

  20. Okay, I just listened to the whole thing–way too fucking short!

    It seems pretty clear to me that JS has a deep understanding of this stuff from the way he’s easily able to articulate his answers. He writes well on his blog, but he’s also quite articulate in person.

    I like the way he describes paleo as a meeting in the middle of biochemistry research and anthropology. He’s also very good at describing things in simple terms, describing dose response of, say, vegetable toxins instead of calling these things hormetic.

    I predict a big future for this kid.

    • In thinking about it yesterday, Sean, the part I like best is his juxtaposition of what I’d term proscription with prescription. That’s perhaps because I’ve seesawed on this myself so much.

      For example, I have been enamored of Kut’s proscriptive approach (avoid NADs), but J makes a good point when he recounts the state of being someone who loves tweekies and brownies (or whatever the examples were) but avoids them through sheer power of will to someone who–and this is the important part–gets in touch with their carnivorous nature, such that those proscriptive things simply don’t hold much interest.

      ….Especially after you have finished your ribeye.

      • Yes, that was a good point. It’s a paradigm change and paradigm changes are important. Another reason why telling people to eat less, move more doesn’t work for anyone beyond uptight yuppies. This is the huge difference between LC and paleo. Putting diet in an evolutionary paradigm makes more sense than just saying, “Do this because it works.” At least to people like me who want to know the why not just the what. It also works well for vegans (until they run out of B12), because they put their diet into a paradigm, that eating meat is evil, and by proxy, unhealthy.

        Which brings up the downside of paradigms, the religious aspect. Some people seem predisposed to have religious convictions about their worldview or paradigm, no matter what it is. Look at Don Matesz. I simply find it difficult to proselytize at that level about anything. Any paradigm, be it paleo, LC, LF, string theory, Christianity, etc, is going to have its zealots that give it a bad name.

        So paradigm shifts are good when they shift us closer to reality (or even if they make us act more in congruence with reality despite their false axioms). It’s better to realize that the Earth is not actually the center of the Universe, despite whatever existential anxiety that might cause. It’s better to think of yourself as an omnivore who leans (probably heavily) towards the carnivore rather than to feel guilty about not eating less and moving more.

      • Matesz is perhaps the biggest enigma I’ve ever encountered. I’m working on a post now to expose and laugh at myself from about 15 years ago, available on the Internet in Usenet (search Nicholas Rich for a preview). While, if one reads in full context, there ought to be no surprise why I’m here and now, now. When one comes from a fundamentalist Baptists background as I did, it ought to be no real surprise that there will be religious elements even to the atheistic and anarchist stuff along the way.

        This is one reason I have always appreciated your input, Sean. You are one person who would understand the on-the-surface oxymoronic term ‘religious atheist.’

      • Don doesn’t strike me as an enigma, some people just seem to gravitate towards zealotry. One of the sharpest guys I know is a Christian conservative. He’s currently living in Russia but we spend many hours rationally discussing politics and stuff on Skype. Despite his religious convictions and the fact that he finds some of my libertarian ideas whacky (he’d find you to be much more whacky, needless to say), we can debate stuff rationally.

        I was disappointed with Dawkins when he completely missed the point of South Park mocking him with a religiously atheistic future dystopia. They weren’t mocking atheism, they were mocking religious atheism–big difference.

      • Yea. Let’s get rid of Nativity mock-ups in city squares and 10-Commandment plaques upon government edifice.

        Best use of time & effort.

        It makes me laugh. It’s like encountering a bronze plaque for an historical landmark somewhere on your journey of life and being offended for whatever it may say, and wasting your life’s capital trying to change it, all for the diminution of yourself and everyone else.

      • On Dawkins

        You know, imagine the shit he gets from all fronts. Have you seen his YTs where he reads his own hate mail?

        It would be amazing to me if someone didn’t take advantage of him, like, say in a TV program that gets several mil ad revenue per episode.

      • Enjoyed this interaction between you two. I have something to add but not the bandwidth to add it. So, carry on. (As if either one of you need permission.)

      • Heh, speaking of bronze plaques, there are these plaques around Prague, several in our neighborhood, of people killed in the Prague Uprising at the end of WWII. My son asked me what they were and I said that’s where some děda (grandfather) was killed by the Germans.

        So my kid gets really pissed and says, “I hate Germans I wish I should kill them.”

        I tell him it was a long time ago, then I ask him about Jason, this German kid who was his best friend when we were in Croatia, “Okay, not Jason, just the other Germans.”

        What about his family, they were quite nice? “Okay not Jason, and not his family, but all the other Germans!”

        With five-year-olds, who needs television?

  21. Like Sean, I also wish the interview had been longer.

    How about a rematch next time you’re at the cabin?

  22. shelley says:

    JS eloquently captured what I feel but can’t put into words nearly as well.

    I analyzed and tracked calories, nutrients, work-outs; had motivational slogans and pictures everywhere. Great changes happened, but there were always those weak moments – moments of hunger, exhaustion, hormones, whatever, and then all good habits are thrown out without another thought. Then, I felt like I failed; I had no willpower; I didn’t have enough determination to make the change. Why?

    For various reasons, we gradually changed from running marathons to walking, road biking to mountain biking; power boating to kayaking; gardening and raising chickens. We continued with the changes I already made in diet, which is predominantly meat & veggies. However, I gave up keeping track of calories & nutrients and workouts – I no longer had the time nor desire anymore.

    And, then I noticed it, (as JS, Sean and Richard stated and implied) my paradigm had changed. I felt free, alive, vibrant and certainly healthier. I loved how we were living; it was fun. I realized that, while it was good to start out critically monitoring my diet and workouts, it was not going to get me across the finish line. Only by no longer focusing on the details and actually getting out there was I able to really change. Now, it is so much easier for me to deny things that I once felt I couldn’t resist because I really don’t want it anymore. On the flip side, it is so much easier to take risks where I once hesitated. What an empowering shift!

  23. I have been reading both J’s blog and FTA for the last year. I never leave comments, but must say I enjoyed the interview. There are talkers and there are doers. I like doers. He hiked a 14er while fasted with freakin $12 skate shoes in one day. So as long as FTA and keep doin I will keep reading. Nice work.

  24. EatLessMoveMoore says:

    Great interview on every level. What the hell is everybody talking about?

  25. EatLessMoveMoore says:

    Wonderful interview on every level. What the hell is everybody talking about?

  26. EatLessMoveMoore says:

    Great AND wonderful! That’s pretty good.

  27. Pauline says:

    This interview was worth watching again. Have just passed it on via email to some friends. I love the way you both interacted together and it just flowed virtually unscripted. More of these interviews please Richard, they are a wonderful means of getting the message across. And its good to see the ‘animal’ interact with all those body/visual cues – we do communicate so much beyond just the words, our bodies speak a language of their own too.


  1. […] ← No One’s Power but Our Own: Paleo Sexist Woes, and an Invitation to Rise Up and Roar The Very Gnollish J. Stanton Interview on Everything […]

  2. […] there was the interview. That was the morning after these photos, that Beatrice snapped candidly over dinner. I myself was […]

  3. […] The very Gnollish J Stanton interview on everything – I love J Stanton of, as I’ve mentioned before. This is a fun itnerview of him by Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal. […]

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