What everybody should learn from... SAPIENS (Yuval Noah Harari)

Yuval answers in his book Sapiens questions like:

  • Why do so many species disappear where Homo sapiens arrives?

  • Why does man come to evolve like this?

  • Did humans domesticate some species or was it the other way around?

  • What is it that makes us happy?

  • What are the 3 human constructions that make humanity tend towards universal unity?

  • Are there better alternatives to capitalism?

  • When did farm animals stop being seen creatures that feel pain and anguish and began to be treated as machines?


For many years humans thought that they were special and that they did not have a family, that is, that they were separated from the rest of the species. But no, Homo Sapiens belong to the hominid family. Our closest living relatives are from that family: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.

Apart from sapiens, today there are no other living animals within the Homo (human) genus, but in the past, there were other species of this genus. Some of those humans left Africa and colonized other continents. Humans in Europe and Western Asia evolved into another genus.

Thus, from about 2 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, various human species coexisted in the world. All of them had important common characteristics. The most notable is that they all had a large brain in proportion to their weight. A large brain expends a lot of energy: it is 2 or 3% of body weight but consumes 25% of energy (at rest). Everything indicates that humans diverted energy from their muscles to their neurons. That big brain made us lose muscle because you can't feed everything.

Another unique feature of humans is their upright gait. Standing up has certain advantages: they have a free upper body; and downsides: less stability for that big head, narrow hips. This made childbirth premature and a tribe was necessary to raise a human. Education is born.

At first, humans were vegetarians but the jump to the top of the food chain did so quickly and with no time to adjust to it. Having been until very recently one of the underdogs of the savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties about our position, which makes us doubly cruel and dangerous.

When the Sapiens left Africa they found other hominin species in Asia and Europe, which disappeared ... why? There are two theories: The different species were mixed giving rise to the current races, or, all the species except the African sapiens disappeared. Tolerance is not something that characterizes Sapiens. In modern times, a slight difference in skin colour, dialect, or religion has been enough to prompt one group of sapiens to exterminate another group. Would the ancient sapiens have been more tolerant of a completely different human species?

It may well be that when Sapiens met European and Asian Neanderthals the result was the first and most important ethnic cleansing campaign in history.

The appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating, between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago, constitutes the Cognitive Revolution. The most widely accepted theory is that "accidental genetic mutations changed the internal connections of the brain and opinions to think in unprecedented ways and to communicate using an entirely new type of language."

This amazingly flexible language evolved to:

# communicate real things: things that can be seen

# to be able to gossip about the people of the tribe.

# transmit information about things that do not exist, legends, myths, gods, and religions can appear like this.

Human is the only species that can collaborate very flexibly and with an uncountable number of strangers, this makes them superior to any other species.

It has been identified that for a group of more than 150 individuals to cooperate they need to have "common myths", beliefs that unite the group. This capacity for cooperation and the power to change one's behaviour was decisive in the development of the sapiens. No animal can assemble in assembly and "abolish the office of the alpha male."

There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, no justice outside of the common imagination of human beings.

Unlike lying, an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in, and as long as this communal belief persists, the imagined reality exerts force in the world.


About 10,000 years ago "the sapiens started to devote practically the entirety of their time and exertion to control the life of a couple of types of creatures and plants": planting, watering, thinking about, checking ... The procedure was extremely moderate and emerged in better places. Free. Today, 90% of the calories that feed mankind originate from a bunch of plants that our progenitors trained over 5,000 years ago.


"The agricultural revolution left farmers with life generally more difficult and less satisfying than that of hunter-gatherers." Available food was expanded, but diet and quality of life were not improved: "The agricultural revoluti