Willian Molinari's Reviews > Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
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it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, audio

One of the best books I ever read. The amount of information here is huge. There are many things I did not know about history and some possible explanations about where we came to the current state.

I really like the way the author says "we don't know this yet". Sometimes, we just don't have the answer but we have many proposed theories, so he talks about them and let you reach your own conclusions.

The way he abstracts religion is really interesting. It doesn't matter what religion is "the right one", he abstracts it as a concept and it works really well for the book.

It was hard to listen to this book. I usually listen to books while doing other things but for this one I had to stop to think/take notes sometimes. I will definitely read this book again in the future and I recommend everyone to read it.

Here are my notes:

* Sapiens are born prematurely when compared to other mammals. Children had bigger heads, which caused many problems in birth, so evolution did the work
* It takes a tribe to raise a human
* Long intestines and large brains are big energy consumers, so it's hard to have both. The rise of cooking may have helped to reduce human intestines.
* Thanks to cooking humans are now able to consume much food that was not consumable otherwise
* The power of an animal is usually related to its body (wings, muscles, teeth). The domestication of fire brought humans a new kind of power. One single woman was able to burn down a forest in a matter of hours
* -- is it right that what separates species is the ability to generate fertile offspring?
* Tolerance is not one of the Sapiens' traits
* Only humans can think and describe fictional entities. You can never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him to 6 bananas in monkeys heaven
* Gods and legal entities are the same sorts of abstract concepts that exists because people believe it. Because of that idea of abstract concepts, the society could evolve so much.
* A trade cannot exist without trust
* One Neanderthal would probably beat a Sapiens, but a large group of Sapiens will probably defeat a large group of neanderthal
* Homo sapiens may have been the destroyer of the megafauna in Australia
* Wheat kinda domesticated homo sapiens. Humans decided to cultivate wheat because it can bring much more food per unit of territory.
* As the success of a company is measured by the amount of money in its bank account, the success of a species is measured in number of spread DNA
* The worker man in the agricultural age worked far more hours than a forager
* We created many tools to save us time and provide a better life. Communication is one of them. It took many days to write a letter and leave it at the post office. Nowadays you can send a text message to someone on the other side of the world and receive a response in minutes. It also made us more anxious and less organized to write carefully crafted texts.
* With the beginning of the agricultural revolution, it was not that simple to move to a different place as everyone started to keep many objects in their houses and became attached to them. Agricultural revolution was a big trap.
* The creation of myths was very important for the creation of modern civilization. It was the missing glue to make thousands of people to work for a single cause. Many kinds of myths that only exists in human minds: law, constitution, religion, money, hierarchy, happiness, etc.
* Happiness doesn't exist in biology. There's no evolution of happiness by biology terms
* There's no chance gravity will stop working tomorrow because people stop believing in it. The same thing doesn't apply to any myth.
* Humans are equal not because someone says so, but because God created them in that way. People are unequal not because Hammurabi said so, but because his God said. The free market is the best economic system not because Adam Smith said so, but because these are the immutable laws of nature. -- 🤔
* The way we organize our children rooms today shows an individualistic society. Children may lock their door, and their parents have to ask for permission to enter. In medieval times, children were always in sight and were judged by everyone. The fay people perceived you were an important part of society.
* To break an imaginary order (company, nation, religion), you need an even bigger order to be able to convince thousands of people
* The number of hours in a day is in base 6, invented by the Sumerians
* Hindi still maintain a little bit of their caste system. Some believe it was created by God
* In the past, biological superiority turned into social inferiority when Africans became slaves of Europeans
* In the past, women were property of man. To say a man raped his own wife was like saying a man stole his own wallet -- that's an interesting analogy to a weird social behavior
* The definition used for sex and gender is: sex is biology, you can have two X chromosome to be a female or one X and one Y to be a male. Gender is related to how the society perceives an individual it a man or a woman.
* We still don't know why man has more social privileges than a woman. There are some animals lead ky female. The muscle power explanation is not totally accepted as well
* Animals never tried to conquer the whole world but we, Sapiens, tried many times. We tried with money and markets, with conquerors and empires, and with religion and faith.
* In the Soviet Union, they tried to distribute products to those who need while gathering these products from specialists. In theory, everyone would have everything they needed, and everyone would work on what they are best. In practice, everyone was working the minimum and trying to extract the maximum.
* Denarius was the first coin, and it still inspires the name for our money (Dinheiro in pt-BR)
* Sapiens are xenophobic; there was always a sense of "them" and "us". Sometimes them become us throughout the time
* To spread the good word, the gospel
* Catholicism never let the polytheism go and it still has many "other gods" called saints. These saints are protectors of a local community. It probably happens because God is too distant for people to relate
* The average Christian believes in monotheism (god), polytheism (saints), dualism (good and evil), and some animist legacies
* Buddhism is about stopping craving so that you can live a satisfying life. It's not about worshipping gods, but many Buddhists still find gods (Hindi, Japanese, Tibet) to worship and get help from
* Ideologies are not that different from religion; both are beliefs in abstract concepts
* Socialism is humanism, they believe in human
* There are two types of chaos. The type 1 is not affected by the prediction (weather). Type 2 is affected (markets). If someone predicts the movement of the market, it will change in the next day because people will invest in it.
* Game theory shows how a pattern that harms all players tend to spread in multiplayer games. The arms race is a good example: one country increases his military power, and the other tends to follow. In the end, a lot of money was spent in arms, and the military power is still balanced, while health and education did not receive investment
* The revolution of science was a revolution of ignorance. It started when we found how many crucial things we don't know.
* It would be interesting to tell Buda, Mohammed, or Jesus that to understand the human mind you first need to learn statistics
* Science considers death as a technical problem which can have a technical solution. It's not the fate of humans to die; we don't have to give meaning to life or afterlife
* Science is mostly guided by social or political forces. Scientific research usually gets funds from those who are benefited by the results
* Charles Darwin was invited to the trip after many geologists declined the invitation. His research became the theory of evolution
* The wealth of nations. One of the most important economic manifesto of all time
* Adam Smith tells people to think about the economy as a win-win situation. If I'm rich, it will also benefit you, since I will consume your products. It only happens when the Rich uses the money to do productive activities.
* It's not necessarily true that for one to become rich, he has to take it from someone since it makes the economic cog spin
* Capitalism differentiates capital from wealth. Capital is something you will use to make productive investments. Wealth is something buried to the ground, something that doesn't generate any productive activity
* Capitalism promotes the idea that reinverting profits in production led to economic growth
* Negotiate with the state was far dangerous to negotiate than merchants. The state (King) was too powerful and could decide to not pay their debts in favor of another conquest or war
* To maintain a free market, no company is allowed to have a monopoly. Monopolies remove the ability of workers to change jobs and stabilize the price of the labor
* Capitalism killed millions out of indifference while other religions killed millions out of hate
* Slavery was highly incentivized by capitalism. There were many slaves In sugar plantations living miserable lives because it was profitable for everyone in the market chain.
* One of Capitalism's arguments for these atrocities is that Socialism (the other solution to that) is so much worse, in so many ways, that no ones have the stomach to try it anymore
* Humans were mostly moved by solar power. We ate plants and depend on harvesting. The food we ate became muscle power.
* The moon affects the Earth by applying gravitational force, which is what changes the sea
* Around the time humans were elevated to the status of divine creatures by humanist religions, we started to treat living creatures as machines
* Evolution shape animals to be what they are today (generate milk, grow, etc.) and we are mutating this. Will it change?
* There are some research proving that animals need not only biological (milk, etc.) needs but also psychological from their parents and other relatives. We know that, but we still keep animals in cages living a miserable life to make more profits
* Humans produce much more than we demand. Who is going to consume this? Enters consumerism.
* Consumerism was able to convince everyone that buying more things is good for you while frugality is self-oppression -- so true
* In the past, the poor took care of their money while the rich spent deliberately. Nowadays, it's the opposite, where people buy cars and television (and other stuff) they don't really need
* As it was in the past, society is still divided into two casts, the poor and the rich. To the system to continue working, the rich should keep investing, and the poor should keep buying. It's the first religion where people can do what they are expected to do (not live a tough life as Jesus or Buda), so they can get to the promised heaven that they see in the television -- that was tough to hear...
* Frugality is a disease to be cured in a consumerist society -- so sad
* Industrialization was the one responsible to set time to everything. In the past, every shop did your own products end to end, but nowadays, there are many people to make one product. If someone gets late, the whole production gets late, so time is important. This mindset was then passed to everything.
* There were no synchronized clocks between cities in the past; every city had its own clock time. When the first trains started to run, they had time to leave but no time to arrive.
* The radio was the first instrument to help everyone to synchronize their clocks (and we still broadcast it as the first thing...). BBC used to live broadcast big ben.
* Peace is more lucrative than war nowadays. In the past, one invader could take the land or treasure from one place, but it's not the same anymore. The value today is in different things. If China invades California, it will not be able to "take Hollywood" or Silicon Valley because the value is driven by people, not goods.
* Families and community seems to have a greater impact on our happiness than money and wealth
* Happiness is not easy to measure. If you get a daily routine of someone who just had children, you will see that they're not doing things that bring happiness (cleaning, washing dishes, waking at night, etc.) but they still consider their children as the center of their happiness. It's possible that they can't measure their own happiness accurately, but maybe it's just not measured in this way
* Having children for some people is connected to a view of meaning. Believing you're living a meaningful life is what brings you happiness
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Reading Progress

July 10, 2017 – Shelved
July 10, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
November 27, 2018 – Started Reading
November 27, 2018 –
November 29, 2018 –
December 6, 2018 –
December 11, 2018 –
December 12, 2018 –
December 13, 2018 –
December 17, 2018 – Finished Reading
January 1, 2019 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 1, 2019 – Shelved as: audio

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