Author: Yuval Noah Harari
If you ever thought of started reading a book and looking for book recommendations on the internet. Most probably you will land on this book.
Popular reading clubs, groups, youtube channels, and even world leaders like Bill Gates and Barak Obama have this book in their top 10 recommendations.
My thought is, to understand or fix something we need to learn the history of it.
How and why things are like this? Answers to this question help us to understand things better or leads to better solutions.
So if you want to understand humans. This is the book you should pick.
Now let’s talk about this book.
We all know from school that everything started from The Big Bang (Not the TV series 😂 ) and we are the part of chimpanzee race
This book talks about how humans evolved in 2.5 million years from animal hunters to the human we are today. This was a very slow process
The author has described this into three revolutions.
Cognitive revolution (70,000 years ago)
The invention of fire was a major event in history for this evolution. Fire not only changed food’s chemistry, but it changed human biology as well. Fire also gave us the power to control other animals. In this revolution what made humans different from other animals was our ability to think and imagine. With this imagination, we started to create myths and fiction. Because a large number of strangers cooperate successfully by believing in common myths. Today this myth helped us to create an “Image order” in society Another reason which made us different was the ability to communicate. The funny thing is, human language did not evolve by discussing lions or other animals or religions. It evolves by discussing other humans, i.e our language evolves as a way of gossiping. Today, we can look around and see, this still holds true.
Agriculture revolution (12,000 years ago)
We always thought agriculture revolutionize human society in a good way. But the author says that the Agriculture revolution was history’s biggest fraud. It did not make humans better instead it made it worse. The agricultural revolution made farmers with lives generally more difficult and less satisfactory than those of foragers. Farmer used to work all week compare to the foragers who used to work 1-2 days for hunting per week. Agriculture also created diseases and explode the population which created more societies and made us hungry for more which leads to more land disputes and wars.
Science revolution (500 years ago)
The scientific revolution started as exploration. Now the question would be why did we not started exploring things earlier? Because of our ignorance. The King/Emperor thought what they know all about the world. There is nothing much to explore we know all the answers. The major science revolution started in Europe in the field of medicine. A lot of sailors used to die in the sea exploration. The turning point came when James Lind started a controlled experiment on the sailor and found a cure by telling them to eat fruits and vegetables on the sea exploration. At this point, people started to see the benefit of scientific research which gives more power to the empire and It lead to more scientific research.
I also often hear terms like Capitalism, Liberalism, and Nationalism all over social media and news, but I could not make sense out of it.
The same goes with the economy, I always wonder how people get money, how banks works and how can someone print money without any goods, until I read this book. Since it explains that economic journey really well.
If you are interested in how the economy works I would highly recommend watching this video by Ray Dalio
The author ends the book by asking this question on humans behaving like a god in the present time.
“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”
- But the most important information that needed to be conveyed was about humans, not about lions and bison. Our language evolved as a way of gossiping.
- Telling effective stories is not easy. The difficulty lies not in telling the story, but in convincing everyone else to believe it.
- The real difference between us and chimpanzees is the mythical glue that binds together large numbers of individuals, families and groups. This glue has made us the masters of creation.
- This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.
- One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally they reach a point where they can’t live without it.
- This discrepancy between evolutionary success and individual suffering is perhaps the most important lesson we can draw from the Agricultural Revolution.
- Most human cooperation networks have been geared towards oppression and exploitation.
- Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently’.
- We believe in a particular order not because it is objectively true, but because believing in it enables us to cooperate effectively and forge a better society.
- From a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural.
- People who do not believe in the same god or obey the same king are more than willing to use the same money.
- Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.
- Revolutions are, by definition, unpredictable. A predictable revolution never erupts.
- The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions.
- Family and community seem to have more impact on our happiness than money and health.
- Nobody is ever made happy by winning the lottery, buying a house, getting a promotion or even finding true love. People are made happy by one thing and one thing only – pleasant sensations in their bodies.
- We tend to believe that if we could just change our workplace, get married, finish writing that novel, buy a new car or repay the mortgage, we would be on top of the world. Yet when we get what we desire we don’t seem to be any happier.
- As Nietzsche put it, if you have a why to live, you can bear almost any how.