How many among us believe this? We returned last night from several days of competitive Shopkins. We've gained a great deal over the years from the two youngsters, ages 12 and 6, with whom we lustily competed, and of course from their parents.
For today, we'll only invite you to take an early Harari Challenge. The passage in question bridges the first two pages of text in Professor Harari's widely-acclaimed best-seller, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
The passage in question takes us back several million years. It goes exactly like this:
HARARI (pages 3-4): There were humans long before there was history. Animals much like modern humans first appeared about 2.5 million years ago. But for countless generations they did not stand out from the myriad other organisms with which they shared their habitats.For ourselves, we would have skipped the "gendered" part about the "local beauty." That said, the challenge goes like this:
On a hike in East Africa 2 million years ago, you might well have encountered a familiar cast of human characters: anxious mothers cuddling their babies and clutches of carefree children playing in the mud; temperamental youths chafing against the dictates of society and weary elders who just wanted to be left in peace; chest-thumping machos trying to impress the local beauty and wise old matriarchs who had already seen it all. These archaic humans loved, played, formed close friendships and competed for status and power—but so did chimpanzees, baboons and elephants. There was nothing special about them.
Do you believe what Harari says? He says those archaic humans loved and played and formed close friendships. But so did that era's baboons, he also says.
Do you believe that second claim, the part about the baboons? Can you see the world that way? Can you see that claim making sense?
At the start of the year, we said, "It's all anthropology now." With that in mind, can you see those ancient baboons being something like us? And as you watch cable news of an evening, can you flip that script around?
Can you possibly see that alleged resemblance running in the other direction? Can you even see the resemblance among those who vote the same way you do? Can you possibly see the less rational strain in those who traffic our own tribe's favored scripts?
Do you believe the part about the baboons? We'll call that an early "Harari Challenge." In the new year, we hope to go much further in this direction in this dangerous era of the Trumps, including the Trumps Over Here.
Eventually, we'll get to the work of the later You-Know-Who. Our question will be this:
Where have the logicians been? Have they been on holiday all these years? And are children dead all over the world because our logicians have done this?
Monday: Lemon's ask