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Sapiens- A Brief History of Humankind Book Review

Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens- A Brief History of Humankind is his take on history. Some of it is human history, and some of it is huge, sprawling scenarios that span 13.5 billion years of history. It is not a quick read and for an author so beloved around the world, I was rather surprised and thought his ideas were disjointed, disconnected and unbelievable. He jumps topics frequently and has a strange post-apocalyptical premonition which seems to me caused by a mix of some trauma and total lack of faith. He does not clearly explain many of the steps in between. I think 1984, Animal Farm, Blade Runner, Fire Starter, The Giver, and many other books, though not quite in the same category gave a more realistic and logical outcome for demise of values and civilizations. And even Noam Chomsky, whom I frankly oppose his political ideologies, and with whom I disagree on many topics, at least lends to a more intelligent argument when coming from outer space.

Having watched some of his Ted talks and other YouTube, I have to say I am not impressed. As a typical atheist, he compares Humans to chimpanzees and sees nothing special about the human on the individual level but rather, only on the collective level. Really?

He also gets wrong basic facts. For example, he says that worker bees don’t rise up and execute the queen bee when comparing humans to bees (for whatever reason). Well he’s wrong. Some Bees indeed rise up and kill the queen bee if she produces the wrong offspring.

On the other hand, he can accurately recognize some amazing facets of life, such as our ability to cooperate without direct knowledge of each other – a nod to Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’, and yet completely miss the point: that trade, powered by our individual mind’s capacity to project and abstract, is the driving force for human’s ability to socialize on such a tremendous scale.

And yet Harari mentions our ability to abstract when it suits his arguments later, when he wants to belittle our ability to abstract God.

I could go on and on about factual errors, hypocracy, or how dark and faithless his philosophical outlook is – but I will leave it at this: Its an interesting read, because of the contrast from his fame as compared to his ideas. Read or watch this author with a rock of salt. A less-than-keen eye will quickly spot a myriad of logical and factual errors.