TED Talk. Yuval Noah Harari: What explains the rise of humans?


Seventy thousand years ago, our ancestors were insignificant animals roaming African terrain. How fortunate for humankind that the course of evolution was not disrupted at some grave point and just kept rolling – otherwise all of us would perhaps have been locked in the ape-stage for ever. Well, we haven’t, and today humans dominate Earth. But how did it happen?

Historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests that this is the reason for the rise of humanity: “We are the only animals that can cooperate both flexibly and in very large numbers”. Social insects like bees are also able to cooperate in large numbers, but are inflexible in doing so. “They cannot reinvent their social system overnight. They cannot execute the queen and establish a republic of bees, or a communist dictatorship of worker bees.” Why it was us instead of the wolves, elephants, dolphins or chimpanzees is explained in this easy-to-comprehend yet thought-provoking video:

Yuval Noah Harari’s book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” sheds light on what he thinks are the reasons for “what made homo sapiens the most successful species on the planet.” A lecturer in history at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harari specialises in world history, medieval and military history and also teaches a Massive Open Online Course titled A Brief History of Humankind.

Header image: ©Christina Feyerke