How one unknown professor wrote two international bestsellers that changed our understanding of…
Nathan Bashaw

I’m sorry but Sapiens is almost total nonsense. I’m about halfway through, making note of everything I can find that’s wrong with it, and it’s keeping me very busy.

Here are some examples:

p146 “The most important impact of script on human history is” (paraphrasing) it’s stopped us thinking holistically and changed us into bureaucrats.

This really sums up his whole approach, “All X is Y.” All nuance is forbidden. And, really?

p 147 Writing about an image of some college level maths: “When most laypeople see such an equation they panic and freeze.”

“Most laypeople?” Of course there’s no evidence for this, how could there be? My first thought was, What about those who switch off, or just move on?

p148 “Entire fields of knowledge have, such as physics and engineering, have already lost almost all touch with the spoken human language, and are maintained solely by mathematical script”

I can’t even begin to criticise that. It’s just flat out crazy.

and perhaps best/worst of all

p149 “Understanding human history […] boils down to a single question:”

It doesn’t really matter what the single question is (answer below* — bet you can’t guess what it is), for me this is way beyond polemic, and deep into the megalomaniac world of the God-Complexed psychopath.

Harari makes bold, confident, evidence-free, binary assertions. He provides certainty in an uncertain world. 65 000 people, dare I call them followers — or even disciples, have signed up to his online course. He’s the leader of a cult.

*Here it is: [H]ow did humans organise themselves in mass co-operation networks?

PS It’s not all bad (chimps and typewriters) on p188–9 he makes a good point about “non-authentic”, culture using plenty of examples eg Native American horsemanship, pointing out that there were no horses till the Spanish arrived.

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