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Calibandar

Yuval Noah Harari?

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So, highly acclaimed everywhere I look, and I must say these books look interesting and well-written.

His third one just came out. Which of his books have you read and what did you think of them?

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I've read the first two and found them excellent. It's unapologetic and tends to point out the good and bad aspects eg Western Europe's expansion into the Americas was awful for the inhabitants and the African slavery that followed but it also drove many other developments. I prefer this approach to authors who only focus on one aspect. He also does a much better job of convincing me that agriculture was a "trap" something I always thought was nonsense when people like Jared Diamond argued it. I think his approach suits my "here's the arguments/evidence you judge" whereas authors like Diamond have too much of an agenda/bias (although I do love Diamond's "collapse")

Homo sapiens is the better of the two for me as it focuses on what has passed and has some excellent discussions on gender, religion and what's considered "unatural". Homo Deus is far more speculative as it tries to predict the future (always a fool's game outside of fiction). It does however look at things like capitalism socialism and religion in terms of society.

I'll be grabbing the new one two although I fear there may be repetition and not much more for him to say.

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I read the first two. Red Snow speaks for me in this matter.

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Sapiens is very good.  It offers a compelling organization of the features and patterns of social/cultural development. 

Note: although agriculture is "trap", it clearly succeeded in cultural Darwinism.  Natural selection doesn't care about your happiness, only your reproduction.  Our evolutionary impulses/drive influence our behaviors and culture regardless of whether they would make us happy.

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Agriculture also succeeded according to almost any other measure besides "Darwinism". There would not be universites or historians to ask such questions in hunter/gatherer or pastoral nomad societies, so there is a certain irony if academics describe presuppositions of their existence as "traps". Why is it a "trap"? Because one cannot go backwards? This is true of many other historical developments.

(I have not read any of his books (and seem to remember some rather scathing reviews/comments) but might get the first one soon as I saw my sister reading it a few weeks ago.)

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Honestly it's better to read the author's argument. Agriculture is clearly a net gain but his point is that doesn't mean the average individual is better off. And it clearly is something you can't go back on. Also worth noting it's only the last century or so that the western world hasn't faced starvation due to a bad winter/weather conditions. He never says it was a failure (it has yet to be superceded by anything else) but it was something once embarked upon wasn't much easier/harder than hunter/gatherer. I never bought any of the arguments at all but his book made me realise it wasn't easy Street once farming arose and while the benefits are obvious there's plenty of pitfalls that come with it. It's the style of his books nothing is ever 100% good or bad.

The second book makes a similar argument with livestock. There are more chickens and cows than there would ever have been without human domestication. It doesn't mean the individual animals are "happy" at being battery farmed though.

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On 9/5/2018 at 8:35 PM, red snow said:

I've read the first two and found them excellent.

I'll be grabbing the new one two although I fear there may be repetition and not much more for him to say.

It does seem like the last book tries to tackle some new subjects from the table of contents, all focused on the world today.

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10 hours ago, Calibandar said:

It does seem like the last book tries to tackle some new subjects from the table of contents, all focused on the world today.

I guess the last two years particularly regarding UK and US has put a wobble on some of the things he was predicting in his last book. And hopefully some more focus on the now will mix things up.

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Started on Sapiens, excellent so far. The first few chapters were the ones I was very interested in anyway.

But flipping throughout the book I already encounter several great passages.

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8 hours ago, Calibandar said:

Started on Sapiens, excellent so far. The first few chapters were the ones I was very interested in anyway.

But flipping throughout the book I already encounter several great passages.

The opening was on language and our ability to create lies/thought constructs as our key to success, right? The lies/thought constructs plays throughout both books but it's a good through line for sapiens. Homo Deus is more focused on algorithms.

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