Who the heck is Yuval Noah Harari?

Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian and professor at the University of Jerusalem. Harari is known for the bestselling books Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

Books by Yuval Noah Harari

Quotes by Yuval Noah Harari

“Animals are the main victims of history, and the treatment of domesticated animals in industrial farms is perhaps the worst crime in history.”

Yuval Noah Harari

“Biology enables, Culture forbids.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Buddha agreed with modern biology and New Age movements that happiness is independent of external conditions. Yet his more important and far more profound insight was that true happiness is also independent of our inner feelings. Indeed, the more significance we give our feelings, the more we crave them, and the more we suffer. Buddha’s recommendation was to stop not only the pursuit of external achievements, but also the pursuit of inner feelings.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Consistency is the playground of dull minds.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Domesticated chickens and cattle may well be an evolutionary success story, but they are also among the most miserable creatures that ever lived. ”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Drinking lots of Coca-Cola will not make you young, will not make you healthy, and will not make you athletic – rather, it increases your chances of suffering from obesity and diabetes. Yet for decades Coca-Cola has invested billions of dollars in linking itself to youth, health and sports – and billions of humans subconsciously believe in this linkage.”

Yuval Noah Harari 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“Each year the US population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry people in the rest of the world.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“For years I lived under the impression that I was the master of my life, and the CEO of my own personal brand. But a few hours of meditation were enough to show me that I hardly had any control of myself. I was not the CEO – I was barely the gatekeeper. I was asked to stand at the gateway of my body – the nostrils – and just observe whatever comes in or goes out. Yet after a few moments I lost my focus and abandoned my post.”

Yuval Noah Harari 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“From the viewpoint of the herd, rather than that of the shepherd, it’s hard to avoid the impression that for the vast majority of domesticated animals, the Agricultural Revolution was a terrible catastrophe. Their evolutionary ‘success’ is meaningless. A rare wild rhinoceros on the brink of extinction is probably more satisfied than a calf who spends its short life inside a tiny box, fattened to produce juicy steaks. The contented rhinoceros is no less content for being among the last of its kind. The numerical success of the calf’s species is little consolation for the suffering the individual endures.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Happiness does not really depend on objective conditions of either wealth, health or even community. Rather, it depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“In the early twenty-first century, perhaps the most important artistic genre is science fiction. Very few people read the latest articles in the fields of machine learning or genetic engineering. Instead, movies such as The Matrix and Her and TV series such as Westworld and Black Mirror shape how people understand the most important technological, social and economic developments of our time.”

Yuval Noah Harari 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century, censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information. In ancient times having power meant having access to data. Today having power means knowing what to ignore.”

Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus

“Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching ‘the four Cs’ – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. More broadly, schools should downplay technical skills and emphasise general-purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, to learn new things, and to preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations.”

Yuval Noah Harari 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Our language evolved as a way of gossiping.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“People are usually afraid of change because they fear the unknown. But the single greatest constant of history is that everything changes.”

Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus

“Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the daily life of most humans ran its course within three ancient frames: the nuclear family, the extended family and the local intimate community.* Most people worked in the family business – the family farm or the family workshop, for example – or they worked in their neighbours’ family businesses. The family was also the welfare system, the health system, the education system, the construction industry, the trade union, the pension fund, the insurance company, the radio, the television, the newspapers, the bank and even the police.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Religion is a deal, whereas spirituality is a journey.”

Yuval Noah Harari

“Sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. That’s why Sapiens rule the world, whereas ants eat our leftovers and chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Seventy thousand years ago, homo sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in a corner of Africa. In the following millennia it transformed itself into the master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem. Today it stands on the verge of becoming a god, poised to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities of creation and destruction.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Sugar is now more dangerous than gunpowder.”

Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus

“The greatest scientific discovery was the discovery of ignorance. Once humans realized how little they knew about the world, they suddenly had a very good reason to seek new knowledge, which opened up the scientific road to progress.”

Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus

“This is the best reason to learn history: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies. Of course this is not total freedom – we cannot avoid being shaped by the past. But some freedom is better than none.”

Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus

“This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“Today more than ninety per cent of all large animals are domesticated. Consider the chicken, for example. Ten thousand years ago it was a rare bird confined to small niches of South Asia. Today billions of chickens live on almost every continent and island, bar Antarctica. The domesticated chicken is probably the most widespread bird in the annals of planet Earth. If you measure success in terms of numbers, chickens, cows and pigs are the most successful animals ever. Alas, domesticated species paid for their unparalleled collective success with unprecedented individual suffering.”

Yuval Noah Harari

“We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“We do not become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon.”

Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus

“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens

“You want to know how super-intelligent cyborgs might treat ordinary flesh-and-blood humans? Better start by investigating how humans treat their less intelligent animal cousins. It’s not a perfect analogy, of course, but it is the best archetype we can actually observe rather than just imagine.”

Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus