Quotes from “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari

Don’t believe tree-huggers who claim that our ancestors lived in harmony with nature. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of biology.
‘Happiness Begins Within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world.
A human handprint made about 30,000 years ago, on the wall of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France. Somebody tried to say, ‘I was here!’
Consumerism has worked very hard, with the help of popular psychology (‘Just do it!’) to convince people that indulgence is good for you, whereas frugality is self-oppression.
The gossip theory might sound like a joke, but numerous studies support it. Even today the vast majority of human communication – whether in the form of emails, phone calls or newspaper columns – is gossip. It comes so naturally to us that it seems as if our language evolved for this very purpose.
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 i
The White Australia policy which restricted immigration of non-white people to Australia remained in force until 1973.
Imagine how things might have turned out had the Neanderthals or Denisovans survived alongside Homo sapiens. What kind of cultures, societies and political structures would have emerged in a world where several different human species coexisted? How, for example, would religious faiths have unfolded? Would the book of Genesis have declared that Neanderthals descend from Adam and Eve, would Jesus have died for the sins of the Denisovans, and would the Qur’an have reserved seats in heaven for all righteous humans, whatever their species? Would Neanderthals have been able to serve in the Roman legions, or in the sprawling bureaucracy of imperial China? Would the American Declaration of Independence hold as a self-evident truth that all members of the genus Homo are created equal? Would Karl Marx have urged workers of all species to unite?
Genus Homo’s position in the food chain was, until quite recently, solidly in the middle. For millions of years, humans hunted smaller creatures and gathered what they could, all the while being hunted by larger predators. It was only 400,000 years ago that several species of man began to hunt large game on a regular basis, and only in the last 100,000 years – with the rise of Homo sapiens – that man jumped to the top of the food chain.
Whereas chimpanzees spend five hours a day chewing raw food, a single hour suffices for people eating cooked food.
There is an irresistible drift towards the exact sciences – defined as ‘exact’ by their use of mathematical tools.
could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven
only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched or smelled.
The new linguistic skills that modern Sapiens acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end
Perhaps this is exactly why our ancestors wiped out the Neanderthals. They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate
Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark. In modern times, a small difference in skin colour, dialect or religion has been enough to prompt one group of Sapiens to set about exterminating another group
Sapiens by contrast is more like a banana republic dictator.
Humans emerge from the womb like molten glass from a furnace. They can be spun, stretched and shaped with a surprising degree of freedom
Homo sapiens is replaced by superhumans?
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